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January 4, 2011

Let's play a little game...

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It's called "Who haz Teh Stoopid about Venezuela?"

Our first contestant: The Miami New Times. In spite of their posing as a liberal alternative paper, they follow all the conventional media lines--and lies--about certain places and presidents. Take, for example, their "Riptide 2.0" report on the bad soap opera of Carlos Andrés Pérez, which came out today, even though I've been blogging on this since...oh, LAST YEAR:

Perez, who died of a heart attack at age 88 back on Dec. 25, was first scheduled to be buried in Miami after a mass at St. Thomas the Apostle last Wednesday. But his wife back in Venezuela, Blanca Perez, whom he never divorced, filed a court motion to halt the burial.

Hours later, Matos and his Miami daughters issued a statement seemingly ending the feud, telling El Nuevo Herald they were "not going to challenge" his wife's move to bury him in Venezuela.

But they've apparently had a change of heart. Riptide left messages at Cecilia Matos' home in Brickell Key and with her lawyer, Juan Antunez, but we haven't heard back yet.

The AP reports that Matos' family denies they ever reached an agreement to send him home, telling the service that "this is in the hands of our lawyers now."

Perez's embalmed body, meanwhile, is resting in a Miami funeral home until the families -- or the courts -- sort out the mess.

We know what you're really wondering. What does Hugo Chavez -- who ousted Perez from power in 1992 -- think should happen?

Um, Chávez didn't "oust Pérez from power in 1992". He led a failed military uprising and went to jail for it. It was the Supreme Court of Venezuela that REMOVED Pérez the following year--for massive embezzlement of public funds, in case you're wondering. As for Chávez, he wasn't in the picture again until 1994, when he was pardoned by then-president Rafael Caldera.

You may also be wondering who's responsible for that piece of belated CAP stoopid. That was one Tim Elfrink. He also calls Venezuela a "Bolivarian paradise", no doubt with more snark injected into his tone than there is margarine in a Butterball turkey. Tim, thanks for playing. Go stand in the corner. And pick up that dunce cap you see there; it's for you.

Now, for our next contestant. Andrew Malcolm of the Los Angeles Times characterizes Chavecito as "obstreperous". Andrew, Andrew, Andrew...you say that like it's a BAD thing. All it really means is that the man has substantially more backbone than, oh, say, a well-trodden doormat. Nice of you, too, not to note, not even in the name of fairness, that the US ambassador in question, Larry Palmer, has made overt statements before your congress demonstrating his willingness to interfere in Venezuelan politics, which his posting as a diplomat expressly forbids him from doing. And that the Venezuelan ambassador, Bernardo Alvarez, who had spent seven years in the States without a misstep, was "booted" strictly in retaliation for Venezuela's rejection of the meddlesome (and appallingly ignorant) Mr. Palmer. No, instead, you just dug up that old hambone about how "badly" Chavecito behaved at the UN a few years ago, when he dared to diss Little Georgie Bushie. (That speech got some appreciative laughs, BTW. It was intended to.) Andrew, go join your Miamero buddy Tim there in the corner, and pick up that second dunce cap. It's all yours, bud.

Our third contestant is FUX Snooze. Using the utterly discredited Andrew Breitbart as your source? That is not only lazy journalism, that's flat-out crapaganda. Do you even want to bother with the report? I don't. The quality of the comments tells me all I need to know about the informativity of the piece. Anonymous FUX Snoozer, go to the corner and pick up your dunce cap. It's marked #3. (You can read numbers, right?)

And finally, the Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina. The what? of where?--you say? Yeah, exactly. I don't know them from a pile of shit either. Which makes their reporting...what? Simple logic, my friends...use it and infer. They've devoted a charming piece of fact-free unsigned editorial cowardice to calling two elected leaders "dictators". This is the same crapaganda I can read every day, anywhere else. It's easy. TOO easy. Any of you pros ever hear of a thing called JOURNALISM? Here's a newsflash: YOUR DIPLOMATS LIE. That's all that Cablegate has revealed so far about Venezuela. Do some serious digging and you might figure that out. And while you're at it, you might learn the real reasons behind Chavecito's decree rule; you might be unpleasantly surprised to learn that it actually has to do with catastrophic flooding in the region, not "the lame-duck congress", which is a strictly US concept and thus inapplicable in Venezuela. The day you send an actual person down there to observe the actual situation and write something other than this boilerplate bullshit, you be sure and alert Google. Until then, you just go pick up dunce cap #4 and sit in the corner with the others.

So, gentle readers: Who do you think should win the Golden Duncecap? Drop a comment in the slot below and let me know who you'd pick, and why.

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 29, 2010

Oh gag me, part troisième

Well, well, well. What have we here? Another photo from Carlos Andrés Pérez's funeral?

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This pic was tweeted by Carlchucho. He writes: "For those who say a democrat died: At the funeral of CAP, Daniel Romero, Carmona's attorney general." Daniel Romero is the man circled in red.

Here's another shot tweeted by Carlchucho, from a different angle:

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Note the expression on Romero's face. It matches the one in the inset, where Romero, morose at having been taken prisoner by Miraflores palace guards, squats miserably in the basement, glowering as he and a roomful of other prisoners are read their rights. It's taken from a scene in The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Here he is in his "finest" hour, abolishing ALL the democratic institutions of Venezuela during the two-day putsch-dictatorship of Pedro Carmona, alias Pedro the Brief, on April 11, 2002:

The video's mostly in Spanish, but the key part, where Carmona illegally swears himself in as president and Romero demolishes all semblance of Venezuelan democracy, is helpfully subtitled in English.

It's fitting that he should be a pallbearer at CAP's mafiosic funeral, since CAP himself called more than once for Hugo Chávez to be executed "like a dog". And since CAP himself also ordered a massacre of his own people--which led directly to Chavecito's military uprising against him three years after the Caracazo. One dearly departed democrat indeed!

Oh gag me, part deuxième

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Can you believe this? Even in death, Carlos Andrés Pérez is the stuff of bad soap opera. Courtesy of the indefatigable Cort G., this landed in my e-mail today:

MIAMI (AP) -- A judge has delayed the burial of former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez amid a family feud over his final resting place.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Gerald Hubbart issued an order late Tuesday to keep a funeral home from burying Perez as planned Wednesday.

His first wife, Blanca Perez, wants him buried in Venezuela. She maintains that she has the right to decide because, while the two were separated, they were never legally divorced. She also claims Perez left no written instructions regarding his remains.

Perez's longtime mistress and secretary, Cecilia Matos, and their two daughters had planned to bury him in Miami, where they live, after a Mass Wednesday. Matos is frequently identified as Perez's current wife, but it is not clear if they were married.

She and her daughters have vowed they will not bring Perez's remains back to Venezuela until President Hugo Chavez, who led a 1992 coup attempt against him, leaves office.

Hubbart did not immediately schedule another hearing, but he granted Blanca Perez's request to prevent the funeral home from taking any action to bury or otherwise dispose of the body until the dispute is settled.

Juan C. Antunez and Juan Jose Delgado, appointed to handle the matter on Blanca Perez's behalf, declined to comment Wednesday.

Perez's family in Venezuela wants him buried there next to his daughter Thais, who died 15 years ago.

Another daughter in Venezuela, Carolina Perez, told The Associated Press she found out about her father's death from Twitter and her family was never consulted about the burial. She maintains that her mother, Blanca Perez, should be the one to decide what happens to her father's remains.

"They're still married, and the law is very clear in Venezuela and in the United States: When the person dies, the one who has the right to reclaim the body is the spouse, and we exercised that right," she said.

Diego Arria, a close Perez ally and his former U.N. ambassador, said both sides have expressed willingness to resolve the situation and he does not believe the dispute will turn into an extended court battle.

He said lawyers for Perez's relatives in Miami and Caracas are discussing the matter and that both sides should agree on when the ex-president's body are to be taken to Venezuela.

Oh my. This is embarrassing. In my first entry on CAP's death I translated "separated" as "divorced", assuming that that had taken place. It hadn't. Either CAP couldn't be bothered, or he was so arch-Catholic and hypocritical that he didn't dare offend the churchmen who tend to side with Venezuela's oligarchy on all issues anyway. Maybe he really was expecting to be called back to the presidency when Chavecito was overthrown!

Plus, seeing as CAP left no burial instructions, it seems very likely that he left no will either. Meaning, more catfights in court to come. Any way you slice it, we have yet another CAP scandal!

Of course, I fully expect the oppos to somehow try to spin this politically as "Chávez's fault". After all, he "drove" CAP into "exile"...only, of course, that happened while the young, yet-to-be-elected Chavecito was still in Yare Prison for leading an insurrection against CAP (who was impeached during the same period), so of course they can't. Chavecito has already said that the Pérez family has a right to bring his remains back to Venezuela for burial, so there's certainly no way they can rightly blame him for this tangle. But it will be entertaining to watch the fireworks anyway.

Popcorn, anyone?

December 28, 2010

Oh, gag me with a meat cleaver!

I know you're not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but I think that's ridiculous. Do we not speak ill of Hitler and Stalin all the time? There are some people to whom one owes not even token posthumous respect, and the funeral of Carlos Andrés Pérez, which took place today in Miami, illustrates perfectly why that is:

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Yes, that's the OLD flag of Venezuela. The seven-star flag of the Fourth Republic, which died when Chavecito came into office in '99. There was a big fuss when this one was scrapped in 2006, but it was to no end. Nobody uses it anymore but the most rabid of the Venezuelan oppos, who all happen to spend more time in Miami than they do in their "beloved homeland". It's also historically inaccurate, since the current (and correct) version has eight stars, symbolizing the eight provinces (including Guayana, which was earlier omitted) which revolted against Spanish Rule in Bolívar's day. (Bolívar himself decreed an eight-star flag in 1817.) But it's the perfect emblem of the murderous, faux-democratic corruption of the Fourth, so I guess it fits right in at this celebration of its crookedest figurehead's death. It is also the perfect emblem of the opposition's stubborn pettiness.

Even more sickening, though, is the memorial card:

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The quote, from Venezuelan poet Andrés Eloy Blanco, reads: "While the bad son of the homeland grows and gets fat destroying it, the good son dies in exile, weeping for it." Blanco wrote that for Bolívar, who did die in exile. By putting it on CAP's memorial card as a pointed insult to Chavecito, the oppos twisted it so hard that they broke it. Need I underscore what a travesty it is to slam a sitting president (and a very patriotic, competent one) that way, especially since the bad son who fattened his wallet on corruption and death did not die in exile but on the lam, not weeping but laughing all the way to the bank?

BTW, CAP also has the dubious distinction of having been the first Venezuelan president ever to be impeached. But only for corruption. He never had to answer for mass murder.

There's a reason why ordinary Venezuelans call their defeated old Fourth Republic ruling class sinvergüenzas--shameless people. Actually there are several, but I decided, out of "respect" for the dead, to list only two or three this time.

December 25, 2010

Carlos Andrés Pérez dies in Miami

The news just came out over the tweeter in the last hour or so. Here's the first official announcement, courtesy of Panorama:

Former Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations, Diego Arria, posted a few minutes ago on his Twitter account that the former president of Venezuela, Carlos Andrés Pérez, died on Saturday, December 25, aged 88, in Miami.

Carlos Andrés Pérez was president of Venezuela for two terms (1974-1979 and 1989-1993) as head of the Acción Democrática (Democratic Action) party.

He lived with his family in Miami, and had withdrawn from public life after a stroke.

The ex-president was born in Rubio, in the state of Táchira, on October 27, 1922.

He was married in 1948 to his cousin, Blanca Rodríguez. They had six children: Sonia, Thaís, Martha, Carlos Manuel, María de los Angeles, and Carolina.

After his second term in office, Pérez divorced his wife and continued to live with his secretary, Cecilia Matos.

Translation mine.

Obviously, this is the Reader's Digest condensed version of Pérez. The real one is considerably longer and more sordid. Cecilia Matos, for starters, was Pérez's mistress and the reason for his divorce. And believe it or not, she is the LEAST sordid chapter of his life. Here's the MOST sordid one...the Caracazo, a military/police massacre of random, poor Venezuelans, ordered from the top...by the newly second-term president, Carlos Andrés Pérez, in late February and early March of 1989:

Video in Spanish, in two parts; click through for the second.

Pérez was not solely responsible for all the crime and death, but he was at the head of the very corrupt AD government that decided to follow, to the letter, the IMF's disastrous "shock therapy" package. He was not a president so much as a tame dictator; he reversed his campaign promises almost as soon as he had taken office. In so doing, he lost whatever democratic credibility he still had. The results were catastrophic for Venezuela's majority poor, whose wages did not keep step with the sudden inflation in the cost of living that a "free market" inevitably brings. The price of gasoline rose, and with it, bus fares more than doubled. Prices shot up as storefronts closed; there was no actual shortage of goods, but the store owners were hoarding them in order to jack up the prices by claiming shortages. Angry crowds refused to buy that--literally. They set the buses on fire and broke into the shuttered shops, taking whatever they could get their hands on. Barricades made of old tires and garbage burned in the streets. Some waved the flag and sang the national anthem, a graphic reminder that this was not mere looting, it was a nation trying to reclaim its dignity in a spontaneous, unorganized outburst.

But Pérez, having set a disaster in motion by going back on his campaign promises, did not revert meekly to democracy. To do so would have meant losing the IMF cash with which he intended to line his own pockets and those of his mistress and cronies. So he chose another tyrannical, top-down "solution": He sent the army out to fire on the citizens, indiscriminately, in the poor neighborhoods where the protests raged for days on end.

Crank up the sound on that. The Bersuit song is an angry and very fitting soundtrack. "Here comes the explosion/Here comes the explosion/Of my guitar/And of your government/As well."

The only thing that saddens me about this death is that this murderer, this dictator, never did any prison time in his life for the thousands of violent deaths on his watch. He was impeached in 1993 for misuse of public funds, a weak charge considering the death toll of his reign--one approaching that of Augusto Pinochet, according to unofficial figures. The Caracazo is widely believed to have killed as many people in one week as died at the hands of fascist thugs during Pinochet's entire reign.

Carlos Andrés Pérez was actually something worse than Pinochet--he was utterly dishonest about his antidemocratic stance, whereas at least the Chilean dictator made no bones about his own. And rather than do jail time, Pérez fucked off to Miami to enjoy the good life with his mistress...and call for a true democrat, Chávez, to die "like a dog" at regular intervals. Classy, huh?

Here's the fun part, though: Pérez was waiting for Venezuela to call him home to be president again. That call never came. The only call came from Hades, where one might devoutly hope this sickening old bastard finds justice at last.

Ashes to ashes; dust to dust; shit to the shitpile. Goodbye, Carlos Andrés Pérez...pathological liar, thief and murderer. You won't be missed.

December 24, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Feliz Chavidad!

For many Venezuelans, it's been a rough December. Flooding forced many poor folks to abandon their homes, as entire hillsides came crashing down in torrents of mud. They are now living in government shelters as the rebuilding effort gets underway. Others had to spend the holiday in prison or hospital. For them, this Christmas didn't look so good. That is, until a big, jolly man in red showed up. No, it wasn't Santa Claus. It was their president:

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Chavecito welcomes refugees to the government palace: "Welcome, you have come to the House of the People." It's not merely "mi casa es su casa", it really is their house. Some of them are actually staying there due to the flooding. When's the last time you saw a president provide aid so directly?

Meanwhile, some prisoners received pardons:

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Can you believe that 'Cito, he actually said "prisons have to be converted into centres of social formation"? Evil commie! Total totalitarian!

And of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without a Christ Child. But this little "Jesusito" wasn't born in a manger behind a crowded inn, he was born in one of three new maternity hospitals:

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...and of course, the big guy couldn't resist the impulse to cuddle the Santa-suited little one. Much to the new mom's delight.

Feliz Chavidad!

December 22, 2010

A day for the WTF files

It's been one, quite literally, for me. Starting with this head-spinning report from Russia Today:

Not only do Israel and Iran actually agree on something--and that something is a Russia-sponsored UN resolution against the glorification of Nazism--but the "freedom-loving" United States of Amnesia opposes that same thing! Happily, the RT journalists bring up the matter of Project Paperclip, in which old Nazis became brand-new CIA torture trainers, espionage "experts", and other nefarious specialities that the US of A was all too happy to exploit in its quest for Total World Domination™, starting in the Cold War era. This may seem shocking to some; to me it's practically a no-brainer that the dang Russkies are more freedom-loving, at the bottom of it, than the Yanks are right now. They know from sad Stalin-era experience what the lack of freedom felt like; the US has forgotten, mainly because they had (and still have) more junk on their store shelves to choose from, and mistook (and still mistake) that for freedom. I'm happy to see that a freer press exists in Russia now, and that its reporters don't shy away from shining a hard light on the old Cold War enemy and its ongoing devotion to the Bad Old Days. This is the kind of reporting we should be seeing all the time, everywhere.

Now: speaking of old Cold Warriors, how about that General Videla? Finally he got a taste of justice. He's going to civilian prison for the rest of his life, which probably won't be long now, seeing as he's 85 and all. Maybe they should release him in the general prison population, while they're at it. There are probably guys in there who lost someone they knew to Videla's death squads during the '70s and '80s. I'm sure they'd be only too happy to keep him company. Especially since he expressed psychopathic sentiments like the following:

In court on Tuesday, Videla appeared to lack any regret over his past actions, calling what many call the Dirty War a "just war".

"I did not come here to defend myself today nor speak in my defence, in my eyes, defending myself doesn't make sense," he said.

"With this reality, which I cannot change, I will accept, however unwillingly, the unjust sentence that you are able to pass on me as a contribution on my part to the ends of national harmony and I will offer it as an additional service that I owe to God, Our Lord and the nation."

He didn't come to defend himself because he couldn't. What he did was indefensible.

The other big WTF is what he said about the Kirchners. They're "Gramscian Marxists"? Not even close. Ask a real Argentine socialist about that, and prepare to have your head blown off by a gale of laughter.

And how's this for a WTF file, literally? Wikileaks now has a CIA task force dedicated to it. It's called WTF for short. And if that acronym doesn't make you chuckle, maybe this will:

What's interesting is that the WTF is suppose to assess what damage has been done as a result of the Wikileaks disclosures, yet the Department of Defense has already said, "WikiLeaks did not disclose any sensitive intelligence sources or methods, the Department of Defense concluded."

Emphasis added. Linkage as in original.

The only real damage Wikileaks has done, to date, is highlight the emperor's already obvious nudity. Most of us who've been watching the State Dept.'s shenanigans around the globe are yawning over this; it's no news to us.

It's also no surprise that US embassies are full of liars dressed up as diplomats. It's only surprising (and sad) that none of these lying, spying embarrassments have been sent packing by the governments they've been sent to subvert...yet. Except, of course, in Latin America, where Evo kicked Goldilocks out of Bolivia, and Chavecito's not letting the obviously meddlesome Larry Palmer into Venezuela. But then, those diplomatic conflicts were already in progress before Cablegate. And the expulsions would have happened regardless.

Of course, the leaked cables I've seen so far present both of these smart leaders as crazy-ass bad guys for wanting putschist "diplomats" out (and honest ones in their stead). WTF were we expecting? CIA spooks have long had diplomatic cover in Latin America. Philip Agee told us as much nearly 40 years ago. The question is, will anything really change in the aftermath of Cablegate?

And alas, that question is wholly rhetorical.

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.

December 13, 2010

Once again, HarpoCons embarrass Canada internationally

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...only this time, they've gone and done it in Venezuela:

While many on the left know that Washington has spent tens of millions of dollars funding groups that oppose Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, less well known is Ottawa's role, especially that of the Canadian government's "arms-length" human rights organization, Rights & Democracy (R&D).

Montreal-based R&D recently gave its 2010 John Humphrey Award to the Venezuelan non-governmental organization PROVEA (El Programa Venezolano de Educacion-Accion en Derechos Humanos). According to R&D's website, "The Award consists of a grant of $30,000 and a [just completed] speaking tour of Canadian cities to help increase awareness of the recipient's human rights work."

PROVEA is highly critical of Venezuela's elected government. In December 2008 Venezuela's interior and justice minister called PROVEA "liars" who were "paid in [US] dollars."

During a September visit "to meet with representatives of PROVEA and other [Venezuelan] organizations devoted to human rights and democratic development" R&D President, Gérard Latulippe, blogged about his and PROVEA's political views. "Marino [Betancourt, Director General of PROVEA] told me about recent practices of harassment and criminalization of the government towards civil society organizations." In another post Latulippe explained, "We have witnessed in recent years the restriction of the right to freedom of expression. Since 2004-2005, the government of President Chavez has taken important legislative measures which limit this right."

Upon returning to Canada, Latulippe cited Venezuela as a country with "no democracy". He told Embassy magazine, "You can see the emergence of a new model of democracy, where in fact it's trying to make an alternative to democracy by saying people can have a better life even if there's no democracy. You have the example of Russia. You have an example of Venezuela."

Venezuelanalysis goes on to refute Latulippe's nonsense rather nicely; go there and read it for yourself if you're so inclined. Since they've already taken on the task, I'm not going to duplicate their work.

Meanwhile, those of us up here who've been following Harpocracy's shenanigans are doing our accustomed, dreary facepalm. You see, we know all about what the government has done to this so-called "arms'-length" organization. They've politicized it utterly to suit their con-tard view of the world. They've gutted it of all voices critical of Israel, and the stress of the scandal killed Rémy Beauregard, who used to head it up (and who opposed what Harpo & Co. were trying to do to it.) There have been several high-profile resignations, too, by members R & D could ill afford to lose. As a result of all this, R & D has gone from unremarkable and respectable to fractious and conspicuously neo-con, with an ugly dominionist-Christian fug on top of all the Zionist miasma.

So no, I'm not surprised in the least that they are the "arm's-length" bludgeon Harpo & Co. were going to use to club Venezuela, which IS democratic, more so in fact than we are...and which just happens to vote overwhelmingly in favor of non-conservative candidates, when all's said. Harpo is doing his damnedest to turn this country and all its institutions into cheap, shoddy copies of all the shit we see going on below the 49th Parallel. So of course he's going to copy their stance on Venezuela, too.

Venezuela has done what we haven't: rewritten its own constitution (and amended it) democratically, using assemblies of candidates elected by the people. It has freed itself from an old imperial power (Spain) and is in the process of decoupling from a newer one (the US). It has made all healthcare, including eye and dental coverage, free to citizens, whereas we've been backsliding into stealth privatization and those odious "public-private partnerships", which have benefited no one but the private sector, while sucking up ever larger sums of our public money. They have 100% literacy, thanks to Fidel Castro; we don't, thanks to a prevalent mindset that considers cutting teacher salaries and squandering the "savings" on standardized testing to be the "solution" to our schoolkids' poor performances. Their citizens make constant reference to their constitution; do many of us even know what ours says? Venezuela has been giving power to its people, while Harpo & Co. have been sneakily taking it away from us. So of course, Venezuela is a "tyranny"--it's the tyranny of a good example that they don't want us following. Chavecito walks in the footsteps of Simón Bolívar; what if Canada walked in the footsteps of Venezuela, or at least Tommy Douglas?

And of course, Harpo and his Cons are too cowardly to bring up the matter of Venezuela and its tyranny-of-a-good-example themselves. So naturally they're going to send The Tulip down on behalf of their little rejiggered Mulroney-era quango to talk to the discredited oppos, who are only too happy to feed him all kinds of bogus horror stories. Of course The Tulip is going to give them our taxpayer dollars, USAID-style, to help them plot their little putsches. And then, naturally, The Tulip is going to dutifully come back and talk smack about Chavecito here! What else WOULD they all do?

This entire fuckery was as boringly predictable as an old soap opera plot. But damn, it sure makes me hang my head when I'm on the tweeter, talking to friends in Venezuela. I still love my country, but I hate this insane, antidemocratic government. It makes me ashamed to be Canadian, and that's something I never thought would happen in my lifetime.

Guess I'm gonna be flying that upside-down flag of distress a lot here from now on.

December 9, 2010

Orlando Urdaneta, STFU--and Jaime Bayly, too!

This is what passes for TV journalism in Miami:

Putschist wankers making excuses for Globovisíon TV station owner Guillermo Zuloaga, a putschist crook who profiteered from the Toyota cars he was hiding on his own property, withholding them illegally from sale in order to artificially raise demand and jack up the price. Zuloaga, unfortunately for Toyota, is their licenced importer to Venezuela, as well as the owner of a couple of Toyota dealerships, which he uses to resell the same vehicles back and forth--again, to jack up the price. The bust was major news last year, with TV cameras rolling as the federal police moved in and seized the hoarded vehicles--dozens of them--as evidence. Zuloaga was nowhere in sight, having fled the country. And apparently the State Dept. just loves this old crook, since they keep expressing "concern" for him everytime a new crime of Zuloaga's comes to light--which happens with nauseating regularity. Isn't it touching that they're so concerned about the well-being of a professional swindler and coupmonger?

And oh yeah, they're also claiming Chávez is a "populist dictator", when in fact he's democratically elected. And advocating "soft coups" against Chávez, à la Gene Sharp. They know they can't get him out of power any other way. Certainly not any LEGITIMATE way...

This is what a bunch of pathetic losers do to pollute the TV airwaves when they don't know how to run an honest candidate or win an election fairly. Putsch after putsch after putsch, called for quite openly by a foreigner (Jaime Bayly is Peruvian, not Venezuelan!), under the pretext of a TV talk show with an actor as guest. Ignorant political theorizing with zero basis in reality. Overt brainwashing of an audience made gullible by daily overdoses of terror and sensationalism. And vile insults against a very popular leader.

And if you support the Venezuelan opposition, this is the crap you're supporting. You great democrat, you.

November 29, 2010

Wikileaks: The fun begins

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Oh boy, that Wikileaks data-dump that came out today is yielding some nuggets. Here's some truly disgusting (and very in-character) dirt on the US State Dept. and its activities in Latin America...

The digital page of the Spanish newspaper El País revealed that US diplomats tried to get various countries in Latin America to isolate Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, according to secret documents released by Wikileaks.

El País tells of the "efforts" of US diplomats "to court Latin American countries to isolate Hugo Chávez of Venezuela," without publishing the pertinent document distributed by Wikileaks.

Wikileaks distributed secret information from the US State Department to the Spanish newspaper, as well as the British Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde of France, and Der Spiegel of Germany.

According to the documents, the US secretary of state requested information on the "state of mental health" of Argentina's president, Cristina Fernández. The pertinent document was not published by El País.

The paper indicated that on Monday it will offer details over this revelation and "the suspicions the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, awakened in Washington."

The Wikileaks information shows "unsuspected details" which the United States obtained "regarding the personalities of some distinguished leaders" of foreign countries and "the role they played in the most intimate human facets of political relations."

"This was particularly evident in Latin America, where they have made known the judgments of US diplomats and many of their spokespeople over the character, affiliations and sins of the most controversial figures," according to El País.

Translation mine.

I'm not a bit surprised that they tried to isolate Chavecito. Anyone who follows this blog or any other non-mainstream source will be yawning at that; it was hardly a secret, and the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Boy, was THAT an epic fail or what?

But the bit about Cristina Fernández shows just what low blows they're willing to resort to. Inquiring about the state of her mental health. I'm presuming this was in conjunction with the recent death of her husband, Néstor Kirchner, although they might have also probed into it sooner, like whenever Cristina said something anti-imperialistic that didn't sit well with Her Royal Clintoness or Auntie Condi. Either way, it sounds to me like the usual CIA shenanigan of looking for a weak spot to exploit. I don't think they found shit; Cristina Fernández strikes me as an extraordinarily strong woman. And from all that I've seen, her marriage to Néstor was solid. They'd have had no luck with her. Unless, maybe, they tried to pull what they did with poor Frank Olson.

Meanwhile, what Hugo Llorens did in Honduras proves him to be a putschist fucking dick. The NYT has the cables in which he admits that it was a coup, that Manuel Zelaya was illegally removed from power, and that the reasons given for doing so were spurious. Nothing that you or I could not have known sooner; the only thing new is that now we have documentation showing that Llorens was in it up to his eyeballs, covering for the putschists and essentially doing nothing while Hondurans died and continue to die, and while their real president remains in exile and his life remains in danger. Just in case the Old Grey Bandit gets all shy, though, here's Otto with the same data. Llorens is still dead wrong on key details--Zelaya was NOT looking to extend his term, and what he was doing with his "fourth ballot" referendum was perfectly legal. Meanwhile, Honduras continues to live with a fake, illegitimately "elected" president, and no new constitution, and consequently, no democracy.

And the fun has just begun.

November 26, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: UNASUR meets in Guyana...

...and Cristina Fernández of Argentina paid tribute to her late husband (and former president), Néstor Kirchner:

Love how she makes special mention of Chavecito--as a friend as well as a fellow South American president. (Watch when the camera pans across the front row of seats; Chavecito and Evo are sitting side by side. Chavecito can't resist interjecting with friendly words, of course.) Solidarity is beautiful!

And speaking of beautiful, I couldn't leave this out:

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Rafael Correa, another of Cristina's amigos. Looking very indomitable, no? He had some nice words of his own, praising the South American union for helping to lower tensions between nations in the South. Their solidarity (there's that beautiful word again!) helped him and Ecuador overcome a coup attempt just two months ago. Democracy is flourishing in the region, and so is unity. That's a thing that can't be priced in dollars...or euros...or any other monetary unit you can name.

November 24, 2010

Finally, signs of intelligent life at the Christian Science Monitor

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Well, its Latin America desk, at any rate.

One in 10 South Americans - about 38 million people - escaped poverty during the past decade. That's remarkable progress by any measure.

Contrast that with the United States, where poverty has been growing due to a decade-long stagnation of income for the middle class and the Great Recession. In 2009, the US had more poor people than in any of the 51 years since poverty levels have been estimated.

Of course, America's poor are far better off than South America's poor. And the US still has a much lower poverty rate (14.2 percent versus around 70 percent). South America remains infamous for huge income gaps between a tiny elite and masses of people making, often, just $1 or $2 a day.

Still, 10 years of growing prosperity has shrunk that gap. The credit goes to democratic leftist governments that have vastly boosted social spending to help the poor, maintains Mark Weisbrot, a left-of-center economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.

Half of that improvement comes from Brazil. Under outgoing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the nation pushed up the minimum wage a real 65 percent in eight years, helping to raise the wages of tens of millions of workers, including many receiving more than minimum wage. A program offered small cash grants to poor families if they sent their children to school.

The results? Real income per person is up some 24 percent since 2000. Illiteracy is down. Poverty has been halved since 2002; extreme poverty is down by 70 percent, says Mr. Weisbrot, pulling more than 19 million people into the middle class.

And the economy hasn't suffered. Unemployment under Mr. da Silva's presidency dropped from more than 11 percent to 6.7 percent. Income inequality has fallen considerably.

Okay, couple of quibblettes here: Brazil gets the lion's share of the positive mention. I'm guessing that's due to its enormous population, of which so many are poor (or extremely poor) that it was too glaringly obvious to ignore just how bad they had it before Lula and his rather modest reforms came along. Plus, under the neo-con code of US journalism on Latin America, cuddly little Ewok-y Lula counts as "good left" because he's not too radical or too critical of Washington, the World Bank, and the IMF. Not like, say, a certain big handsome Venezuelan whom Mark Weisbrot likes to mention quite a bit:

Other nations with "progressive" governments have made much social progress, notes Weisbrot. He lists Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, and Venezuela. Under President Hugo Chávez, attacked by the right in the US, oil-rich Venezuela has tripled social spending per person since 2003. Attendance at universities has doubled. Most of the poor now get health care under a government program.

Okay, here comes another quibblette: Why the unnecessary quotation marks around the word progressive? The governments of all those countries surely deserve better than that disparaging little trick of punctuation, since all have made impressive socio-economic recoveries under their progressive leaders. Much better, since they are all much improved.

Still, I shouldn't complain too loudly; after all, the piece doesn't then go on to undercut all that talk of progressives and their progresses with vague, unsubstantiated noises about "tyranny", the way so many other English-language whore media pieces (including previous ones in the selfsame Monitor) have done. Instead, we get...more relatively decent reporting:

The continent weathered the financial crisis relatively well. Social spending rose. So there was no big rise in poverty, says Norbert Schady, an economic adviser to the Inter-American Development Bank, speaking from Quito, Ecuador.

Moreover, prospects for continued economic progress are strong. The Institute of International Finance (IIF), set up by the world's biggest banks, forecasts 6 percent growth in gross domestic product in Latin America this year, which includes Mex­ico and Central America as well as South Am­er­ica. That growth should shrink poverty further.

By contrast, the IIF forecasts a 2.5 percent growth rate this year for the US. At that slow pace the US could see a further rise in poverty.

South America's new economic vigor is also causing a geopolitical shift. The US has long considered Latin America part of its political and economic sphere of influence. Officials running South America's left-of-center governments often charge the US with imperial ambitions.

But as US growth slows, South America's businesses have reached out to other markets. While 15 percent of South America's trade is still with the US, a greater share is tied to Europe. Also, trade within the continent is growing with a free-trade deal. So South American governments no longer feel so much under the thumb of the US.

All of this is unquestionably true, and it's refreshing to see it in the Monitor for a change. Normally I'd have to go to a progressive alternative or independent media site, like the Socialist Worker, or end up translating something from a LatAm indymedia site here. I have to say it's pleasantly surprising...

Oh wait, I just noticed something: The byline is David R. Francis. Perhaps the honest, even and objective tone of this piece owes to the fact that it wasn't written by the famously blinkered Sara Miller Llana? I bet it does.

Congratulations, Mr. Francis, on your journalistic breakthrough. And oh yeah: Watch your back. They don't like to see too many nice things being said about Chavecito, Evo, Cristina or El Ecuadorable in there.

November 15, 2010

"The grandfather of Cuban blogs" supports terrorism. So does El Nuevo Herald

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This might come as a surprise to some, but surely not to me.

The newspaper, El Nuevo Herald, of Miami, has published an article in which one of its columnists thanks the creators of the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops for allowing him to "live the dream of all Cubans who love liberty."

The author of the article signed it Val Prieto, "director and founder" of a publication called Babalublog.com. The vocation of Mr. Prieto is not a joke; in a highlighted area on Babalublog.com there is a section called "Loving Brothers", and, alongside photos of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista and Luis Posada Carriles, it invites readers to a dinner with the selfsame Posada Carriles, the confessed author of the terrorist bombing of a Cuban airplane in which 73 people died.

In the upper left-hand corner, there are words of praise for the blog from the much-awarded Cuban blogger, Yoani Sánchez. This person has referred to Posada Carriles thusly: "A political subject that does not interest people. It's a smokescreen". Now we know why.

Translation mine. Links as in original.

I've long disregarded any "information" published on the Babalu Blog as crapaganda, and I know better than to take seriously anyone citing them as a source (unless, of course, they're actually critical of the Babalu babblers, and take the time to debunk the blog's rank nonsense). The Babalu Blog is not only anti-Castro, but by extension anti-Chavecito, racistly anti-Evo, and, generally, just anti-anything-good-going-on-in-Latin-America. They'd rather see impoverished Latin Americans die than get free healthcare from Cuban doctors, and would rather see them go illiterate and jobless than learning to read and improve their lives using the highly successful "Yo Sí Puedo" Cuban method. They're a bunch of vicious, cowardly cyber-thugs with a hatred of real liberty, in short. It doesn't surprise me that they would be cheerleading for gore-porn video games which are now being used to promote terrorism--oh, sorry, "regime change"--against not only Venezuela, but Cuba as well. It's worth noting that such games have been banned in Venezuela for blatantly promoting violent crime. (And not only there, either.)

I also used to look down my nose at Yoani Sánchez and take nothing she says as anything but a joke, or perhaps the product of her own Münchausen syndrome. Now I can revise my stance to say that she is not only a self-centred narcissist who goes to ridiculous lengths to pwn herself, but a terrorism supporter, as well. And her blithe dismissal of 73 innocent people's deaths as a "smokescreen" shows just what a sick little wretch she really is.

What I'd really like to know, though, is why does the Miami Herald's Spanish-speaking sister support terrorism? Isn't there supposed to be a war against it going on in the US?

Oh. I see.

Cuba, as usual, doesn't count as a victim of terrorism. That's a "smokescreen", too, I take it. Or maybe, seeing as it was the CIA paying and training the odious Luis Posada Carriles to place bombs and blow up planes, it's just another black op--"Call of Duty" style. Of course they're going to protect him until the day he dies!

I won't be holding my breath for the day any of them steps up to condemn terrorism. They are all clearly unapologetic mouthpieces for it. They all belong in jail, but I won't be holding my breath for that, either.

PS: Before any other video gamers out there start chiding me on how I'm being unfair to the makers of the game referenced above, hold your electrons. If you think the military and the spook agencies aren't using video games to recruit you as a professional killer, you had better read this. The Pentagon and the CIA are doing EXACTLY that. And they have been for quite a few years now. And yes, there is some concern that the "game" mentality is infiltrating warfare, too, specifically with the use of Predator drones. A generation of soldier-kids raised on video games could have a lot of tragic, yet quite foreseen consequences.

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?

November 3, 2010

How to screw the pooch, authentically

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Oh yes, little Chihuahua perrito. Once more, you are so fucked! And this time, by a news source I used to trust, at least as far as Mexico went. But no longer. As usual, my amigo Slave Revolt has called it correctly, saying NarcoNews was corrupted. I took my time coming around to his POV, but now I understand and agree. Alas, even the purveyors of "authentic journalism" can screw the pooch. And here's how they do it, in a step-by-step breakdown...so you can recognize further dog-fuckery in the future:

1. Publish, unedited and uncriticized, one press release from CONAIE, one of several indigenous people's NGOs in Ecuador.

2. Comment on it in hysterical, smear-mongering hyperbole, questioning none of its premises:

Note by Al Giordano: During Thursday's coverage of events in Ecuador, we accepted on face value that it was an attempted coup d'etat and saw the same international forces behind the 2009 Honduras coup involved in these events. Now that the immediate dangers have subsided is the moment to reflect more deeply as to what occurred and why.

We also defended Ecuador's most important coalition of social movements, the Federation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE, in its Spanish initials) from a vicious smear and innuendo campaign against it by North Americans like Eva Golinger, Jean-Guy Allard, and on her Twitter feed, Naomi Klein (see correction down below) who recklessly accused the indigenous women and men of the CONAIE of being agents of imperialism and recipients of funds from US AID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

In subsequent days, waving extremely flimsy and half-stated "evidence," Golinger and Allard have pressed their crusade to discredit the CONAIE further in a series of articles high on rhetoric and rumor and low on factual content or proof. If this is to become a duel of credibility and honesty between these gringo and Canadian voices and the dignified ones of the CONAIE, we give far more benefit of the doubt to those Ecuadorean voices who have proved for two decades that they hold the interests of their own country and their own peoples high and proud and who have effectively organized and struggled and continue to win real results.

We furthermore consider the efforts by Golinger et al against the good people of the CONAIE to themselves be a form of North American imperialism and view it necessary to call it what it is: dishonesty based on the imperatives of political expediency and worship at the altar of State power. McCarthyism and Stalinism were always two faces on the same coin, after all. Each make their lists, invent false charges, distort the whole truth, as they seek to purge, destroy and silence debate and dissent.

3. ...while disregarding the fact that CONAIE is, in fact, very much a recipient of USAID funding, and has been for several years, just like the worst racist and fascist opponents of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. Which kind of puts a crimp in the whole "CONAIE good people" spin.

It's not as though indigenous people can't be misled by gringos with mucho dinero, either. Happens more often than you think in Ecuador; Philip Agee could have told you as much, back when he was still alive. He was with the CIA when they fomented political coups during the 1960s, after all, and one of them (his first assignment, in fact) was in Ecuador. And how did the CIA do it? By cultivating conservative, strongly Catholic indigenous groups, among others. And yes, plenty of US money changed hands then, too. CONAIE did not yet exist, but the pattern of CIA subversion of non-governmental organizations in Ecuador was established during Agee's time there. It was later carried out under USAID and the NED--to give the whole putschist enterprise the appropriate "democratic" gloss. Scratch the veneer a bit, though, and you'll see the CIA still very much at work underneath it all.

4. But I guess it's easier to smear Eva Golinger, absurdly, as a "Stalinist" (never mind that Joe Stalin is long dead) than it is to take a good hard look at CONAIE's strange assertions:

We energetically announce that there never was any attempted coup d'etat, much less a kidnapping, but an event that responded to the uncertain political management of the government that causes popular discontent through permanent aggression, discrimination and violations of human rights consecrated in the Constitution.

We do not recognize this dictatorial "democracy" because of its lack of freedom of speech, the kidnapping of all the powers of the state by the executive branch in its political system of one government, that does not generate spaces to debate the projects, and laws elaborated from the indigenous movement and other social sectors.

We categorically refute claims that the CONAIE, the Pachakutik Political Movement, the peoples and nationalities have any relationship at all with the organism known as USAID, previously NED, not today nor ever. To the contrary, we know that this organization finances the "social programs" of this government like the forest partnership and that, yes, is condemnable.

We demand the constitutional suspension of the National Congress for its failure to comply with the constitutional mandate that it legislate much less audit as it is well known that all laws are approved by the president's legal minister.

We condemn the usurpation of press freedom when on September 30 all media not allied with the government was forced to broadcast government news in "cadena nacional," a means by which all access to information is controlled and manipulated with a version of the facts that does not inform about the real dimensions of the situation on that day in the country.

Really, Al are you going to let THAT pass unchallenged? You call THAT "authentic"?

I call bullshit. On several points. Let's take them down one by one:

(a) "We energetically announce that there never was any attempted coup d'etat, much less a kidnapping, but an event that responded to the uncertain political management of the government that causes popular discontent through permanent aggression, discrimination and violations of human rights consecrated in the Constitution."

This is the first bald-faced CONAIE lie. What happened in Ecuador on September 20 WAS, unequivocally, a coup. Eyewitnesses who were at the hospital where Rafael Correa was held prisoner that day say that yes, he WAS kidnapped and held there against his will. One of them, Dr. Paula Vernimmen, actually tweeted the events as they went down. I followed her on Twitter that day, almost literally biting my nails in fear for Correa's life. My fear was well justified; Dr. Vernimmen later tweeted some pictures that prove that yes, there was a coup. Mere protesters against alleged human-rights violations don't fire big live ammo at an armored van containing a president, after all.

As for the "violations of human rights consecrated in the Constitution", I seem to recall Rafael Correa convening a constituent assembly to rewrite Ecuador's old, fusty gringo-imperialist era one. Why would he violate his own rules? Makes no sense, and doesn't explain his high popularity in the days and weeks immediately following the coup attempt, either. Consistently over 70% in the polls since the coup, people. And this popularity comes even as Quito remains under an indefinite state of emergency!

It also doesn't explain the fact that the general public strongly supports the army, which was instrumental in rescuing Correa, and condemns the police for revolting.

So yes, as you may have guessed, this too is CONAIE talking out its collective buttocks. One might think that if they really valued democracy, they would at least have the decency to condemn putschist tactics, but oh nooooo. To the contrary, they endorse them. Read on...

(b) "We do not recognize this dictatorial 'democracy' because of its lack of freedom of speech, the kidnapping of all the powers of the state by the executive branch in its political system of one government, that does not generate spaces to debate the projects, and laws elaborated from the indigenous movement and other social sectors."

"Dictatorial democracy"? Now there's an oxymoron if ever I heard one. Correa is popularly elected (and re-elected). With a margin of victory that leaves no doubt. He even won his second term on the first round, in a region all too known for its two-round elections of less-popular, more conservative candidates. What could be more "dictatorial"? Well, maybe if Correa had abolished the entire Ecuadorian parliament, CONAIE's absurd claim of "kidnapping all of the powers of the state" might hold water. But last I looked, the country still had one, and it was still running, albeit not always in CONAIE's favor. So it's not as though there are no "spaces to debate the projects, and laws elaborated from the indigenous movement and other social sectors." Actually, it looks more as if the democratic debate works just fine, and if CONAIE comes out the loser, well, too bad. Nobody elected THEM to a majority in the assembly, or to the presidency. (Maybe they'd be more popular if they cut the USAID purse strings!)

(c) "We categorically refute claims that the CONAIE, the Pachakutik Political Movement, the peoples and nationalities have any relationship at all with the organism known as USAID, previously NED, not today nor ever. To the contrary, we know that this organization finances the 'social programs' of this government like the forest partnership and that, yes, is condemnable."

Whoa, whoa, whoa...USAID finances Correa? Now that's just plain crazy talk. Why would they finance a man who's on the same side as another president they've been trying to topple since he came to office more than a decade ago? I'm talking here about Chavecito, to whom Correa is often (and not wrongly) compared. USAID, like the CIA, wants Correa dead; their lackeys in the Ecuadorian federal police made that abundantly clear.

Plus, that "categorically refute" thing has already been shot down by Eva Golinger's documented proof of the exact opposite. They may deny, but they CAN'T refute what she has found--hard documentation proving that yes, there is a long-standing relationship between CONAIE and USAID and the NED.

(d) "We demand the constitutional suspension of the National Congress for its failure to comply with the constitutional mandate that it legislate much less audit as it is well known that all laws are approved by the president's legal minister."

They demand WHAT? Suspension of an elected parliament? That sounds awfully putschist and dictatorial. Who are these people to condemn democracy as "dictatorial" when what they are doing is worse?

And as you may have guessed, they're also not telling the truth about the assembly's failure to "legislate much less audit". What's very strange is that their legislative arm, Pachakutic, originally voted to support Correa's constitution. When did they turn against him, and what turned them? Questions, questions--don't expect honest answers from them or Al Giordano, though.

(e) "We condemn the usurpation of press freedom when on September 30 all media not allied with the government was forced to broadcast government news in 'cadena nacional,' a means by which all access to information is controlled and manipulated with a version of the facts that does not inform about the real dimensions of the situation on that day in the country."

This is the same bullshit the Venezuelan opposition spouts all the time, freely and in their own private media, whenever Chavecito uses his legal right to broadcast an important announcement on all channels. It is also a legally enshrined right in Ecuador. And public service announcements by the federal government are also a fact of life here in North America, although we don't have cadenas per se. So this is another silly complaint that doesn't hold water. It does, however, smell very much of USAID's media-manipulating hand.

As to the claim that "all access to information is controlled and manipulated with a version of the facts that does not inform about the real dimensions of the situation on that day in the country", that's an absurd projection. Not to mention false. CNN's Spanish channel was unaffected, and transmitted nonstop lies, pro-US crapaganda and just plain bullshit throughout the cadena. It was so bad, and so utterly wrong, that the local CNN correspondent, Rodolfo Muñoz, resigned--in a move eerily reminiscent of what Andrés Izarra, formerly news director of Venezuela's oldest private channel, RCTV, did when his bosses told him to allow "nothing pro-Chávez on screen".

And that's not even touching the fact that Ecuador's private TV channels are all very right-wing--and bitterly opposed to Rafael Correa, who has often complained of their biased coverage. The idea that they were "manipulated" by the president into misinforming the people is laughable on the face of it. They were, if anything, for once made to report the truth. And you can bet that they are bitter...

Yes, CONAIE is lying. It and Pachakutic are lying in support of a fascist coup, one that would only hurt the indigenous peoples of Ecuador if it had succeeded. It would have put the treacherous Lucio "Sucio" Gutiérrez back in power, reinstated all the old corruption, led to murderous riots and repressions, and prevented the rainforest cleanup (by Chevron, among others) that Correa was pushing for--a move that would have directly benefited the indigenous! If anyone is manipulated here, it is clearly CONAIE and Pachakutic, who are touting, by strange coincidence, the exact same line as the US State Dept. would have them do. That line is the lie.

And Al Giordano accepts the lie at face value, with no further investigation, simply because his loopy anti-statist views dictate that he must denounce anyone favorable to a LatAm head of state, even someone as diligent as Eva Golinger, as "Stalinist". And that this is somehow "authentic journalism", to present a crazy, downright libelous press release, merely translated and not analyzed, as "the truth". Maybe because serious analysis would reveal him, embarrassingly, to be a hack, fronting for the same awful policies as CONAIE--policies that would only hurt their own people in the long run, and actively hinder plurinational participation in Ecuador's future.

Shame on him.

October 31, 2010

A million and counting

Who has it?

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Yep, Chavecito passed the million-follower tweeter milestone today. At this rate, it won't be long before he whips Alejandro Sanz's ass. Time to set the countdown clock, kiddies!

October 27, 2010

Néstor Kirchner, RIP

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Sad news from South America this morning:

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, lamented the death of the former president of Argentina, Néstor Kirchner, with a message of solidarity for his Argentine counterpart, Cristina Fernández.

"Oh, my dear Cristina...how sad! What a great loss Argentina and our [Latin] America have suffered! Long live Kirchner, forever!" wrote the president on his Twitter page.

Kirchner died at age 60, of a heart attack, on Wednesday morning at home.

Translation mine.

It seems appropriate that Chavecito would choose to express himself the way he did; he and the now widowed Cristina have been chatting back and forth since they both got on the tweeter, and it's lovely to follow their conversation. It's also emblematic of just how far things have come in Latin America since 2003, when Néstor Kirchner was elected in the teeth of a total economic collapse in Argentina.

There's a real solidarity in South America now that wasn't there before. The repeated economic crises of the last 30-odd years have served as a forcing ground for progressive Latin American leaders. Venezuela's collapse in 1989 shaped the destiny of Chávez, who staged a failed uprising in 1992 that won him popularity enough to become an elected leader; Argentina's similar collapse, in 2001, pulled Kirchner out of the obscurity of the Patagonian state of Santa Cruz, where he had been governor, and catapulted him onto the national stage. By the time Kirchner was elected, Chávez had already been president of Venezuela for four years, and had survived a coup attempt. He was also in an excellent position to offer economic help to his Argentine friend, with the price of oil on the rise and Venezuela's coffers filling. Kirchner was happy to accept the help, as he did the unthinkable: he put the IMF, his country's biggest oppressor, over his knee and dealt it a sound spanking. Argentina grew again, and rapidly, with Kirchner at the helm; he became its most popular president since his party's founder, Juan Perón.

Néstor Kirchner's sudden death was somewhat foreseeable; he'd been in treatment for heart trouble earlier this year, and had surgery to open a blocked coronary artery. Between the famously beef-heavy Argentine eating habit and the high stress of his leadership role both openly and behind the scenes, life took its toll on Kirchner in a manner any cardiologist could have predicted. Sadly, the medical measures taken earlier didn't do enough for him. The Justicialista (or Peronist) party will now have to choose another candidate for next year's presidential elections, since Kirchner--widely favored for the role--is no longer with them.

Kirchner was never what you'd call handsome, and he wasn't as radical as many (myself included) would have liked, but I always found him rather endearing. He took on what was, at the time, the least enviable role in Argentina, indeed all of Latin America. And he confounded all the skeptics. Not only did he last out his term (which about a half-dozen of his immediate predecessors did not), he also managed to get the IMF's boot off his country's neck, with help from Chavecito and the ALBA (the idea for which was actually conceived at Mar del Plata in 2005, when Chavecito attended a Kirchner-hosted summit, to the delight of a huge crowd of happy Argentines).

Néstor Kirchner was a lucky man to have such friends, and Argentina was lucky to have him when it needed someone--not a traditional charismatic caudillo like the evil enchanters of the Junta, but a democratic leader of real intelligence--to turn a god-awful situation around and throw the Washington Consensus out for good.

In fact, he was still at it as late as this month, kicking the IMF's ass almost literally to his dying day. Solidarity and sovereignty are the legacies he leaves behind. Argentina is better today than it was ten years ago, thanks in no small part to him.

He will be missed!

October 25, 2010

Venezuelan journalists censored on Twitter!

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Yes, it's really true. Roberto Hernández Montoya, one of VTV's two Robertos (who have a show called "As You Can See") has been following the @VVperiodistas saga, and he tells all:

I recount: Certain journalists at Venevisión created this anonymous account at Twitter in order to vent their spleen against the government, which their channel would not allow. The broadcaster apparently complained to Twitter over the use of their name and logo, and Twitter immediately cancelled the account. They created another, @VVperiodistas2, with the threat of another closure, and had to create @VVperiodistas3 and so on ad infinitum. In effect, some jokers created @VVperiodistas3 and the ruckus began. Believing their lies, several journalists, starting with VVperiodistas2, dedicated themselves to insinuating something like that Chávez had ordered the closure from Tehran, and Twitter, obediently, cancelled VVperiodistas. The maverick journalists later released a statement which clarified that the responsible party was their own channel. In it, they called Gustavo Cisneros "the magnate of silence". In compliance with certain conditions, Twitter reinstated @VVperiodistas, hopefully for good. On Thursday the Venevisión security guards assaulted some journalists from Globovisión...Venevisión apologized, following the denunciation from @VVperiodistas.

Venezuela is bubbling over on Twitter. How nice that no one can censor it.

It's poetic justice, because according to them [that is, opposition TV channels and print media], censorship is communist, and capitalism is all freedom and fun for young and old. That is, don't you know what it's like in private companies, where they trap you in a Bolivarian cage and toss you out? Moreover, the Venezuelan state is so bourgeois that in some places, being a Bolivarian will inhibit your rise through the ranks, and implies harassment and dirty looks, where they fire you plain and simple. They'll chant "not one step back, OUT!" at you in their big marches.

O yes, they know that, hence the pseudonym. No one put their name to it. They know how Cisneros is with his detractors [...] Capitalism is coercion and duress. It allows neither charity nor Christ.

I hate censorship, above all that which private enterprise exercises, that despotism without enlightenment. Solidarity with the comrades at @VVmasoquistas! Yes, it's good for a laugh.

Translation mine.

BTW, the skirmish between the Globovisión journos and the Venevisión security goons took place recently during a parading of the "Misses"--that is, the candidates for Miss Venezuela--in Maracaibo. You can see it on the Robertos' show, here (in the first segment.) Venevisión, alone among the Venezuelan private TV channels, censored it.

And, BTW, VTV is the state channel. The one the opposition (via Venevisión, Globovisión, etc.) is always claiming is full of Chavista propaganda, and a threat to freedom and democracy, and blahblah. The fact that they're allowed to scream such blatant nonsense unimpeded is proof that it's not the government censoring them. The fact that it's their own channels' owners doing the censoring is an interesting irony, and one that should not be lost on anyone.

And neither is the fact that one of the Robertos--state-TV channel propagandists and Castro-communists, according to the oppos--is @VVperiodistas' numero uno fan.

Yes, indeed, it IS good for a laugh!

October 15, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito in Russia

The Big Guy from Venezuela was in Russkylandia today, up to his usual business: firming up bilateral relations (already the closest they've ever been between the two countries since his inauguration in 1999); buying military hardware (this time, 35 tanks); signing trade deals (especially petroleum-related ones); discussing nuclear energy development; and shaking hands with all the usual suspects...

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...in some seriously classy surroundings.

And I get the distinct impression that the Russkies are very pleased with the whole thing--check out Dimitri Medvedev's expression:

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Things between the two countries are so good, in fact, that there are even plans to erect a statue of Simón Bolívar in Moscow--one that's the exact duplicate of his most famous equestrian monument in Caracas.

Now that's what I call progress!

October 11, 2010

Where in the world is General González?

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Cue up the "Carmen Sandiego" song. A putschist fugitive is on the loose somewhere on this planet, and the Venezuelan authorities have appealed to Interpol to help find him:

The Public Ministry has asked Interpol to add a red alert on former army general Néstor González González to its database for events that took place on April 11, 2002, in Venezuela.

The request came on Monday, October 11, from assistant national prosecutor Engel Ordaz.

Once Interpol places González González in its database, he can be apprehended in any international seaport or airport he may be passing through.

The retired army general is wanted by Venezuelan authorities for incitement to civil rebellion, which is a criminal offence in the Venezuelan penal code. On July 31, 2006, an arrest warrant was issued, by request of the Public Ministry, via the 19th Tribunal of Metropolitan Caracas.

Translation mine.

You may recall a certain scene in The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, in which the bald guy in the photo above figures rather prominently (from 27:33 to 28:05). This is the larger context of that scene:

Here, González is lying his ass off about the Chávez government on April 10, the day before the coup, claiming it harbors Colombian FARC and ELN rebels in Venezuela, and using that as a pretext for a coup. He's saying the president should resign, and that the military must take this position--"because if they don't, somebody will". This is the part that immediately precedes what we can see in the Irish documentary of the coup; the crapaganda whores of the Venezuelan media happily go along with that hogwash, calling Chávez "an agent of Fidel Castro and the Colombian guerrillas". González is providing the pretext for the military's next move, when a group of putschist generals announce, during the coup the next day, that there have been shots fired by snipers, and that "more than 10 people are dead and 100 injured in Caracas".

Interestingly, they were all working from a prepared script. The generals rehearsed that bit with the help of the same compliant media (among them, CNN) before anyone was shot or killed. Therefore, it is impossible to conclude anything but that certain members of the Venezuelan military high command were in on the coup.

Among them, of course, the selfsame Néstor González González...a wanted man who definitely belongs on Interpol's watch list. If by chance you see him anywhere (probably Miami), you know what to do, don't you?

(And yes, it's a pity the that media who participated in the coup can't likewise be put on Interpol watch lists. They all deserve it too. The last thing they deserve now is an audience, much less one that believes a word they say.)

October 8, 2010

A few random thoughts on Mario Vargas Llosa

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Understand that writers are not necessarily good teachers, or even good people.

- T. C. Boyle

Hearing that Mario Vargas Llosa won the Nobel prize for literature this year was like hearing that a ghost had won it. That's because the Vargas Llosa who wrote the great book that won the prize no longer exists.

Sure, he's still there physically. But other than that, it's like he's just a whole other person. He's no longer that great writer. He's the body that the spirit abandoned. A great writer's shambling, moaning zombie, perhaps. But he is no longer that person.

This isn't easy for me to write. A lot of people I like, admire and respect are unreservedly pleased for him. They've read his good stuff, no doubt, and that's why. The stuff of 40-odd years ago. I have yet to read it. Perhaps if I had, I'd feel differently; at the very least, I'd be sighing with happy nostalgia for the Vargas Llosa that was. But I've read his recent stuff--that is to say, his shit, and I have to say, the Vargas Llosa of today is not a writer I can admire. Maybe the one from 40-odd years ago is, but he's dead, Jim.

What killed the great Mario Vargas Llosa? Was it an illness, an accident, a suicide? Or was it murder?

To understand how Vargas Llosa went from being a great writer to being the ghost of one, you have to look at what happened to so many others over the last 40-odd years. They started out young, idealistic, typically somewhere on the left end of the political spectrum. They were progressives. They were poets, they were songsters, they were political militants. They weren't afraid to tell all the truth, and tell it slant. They were full of a fiery energy that bade fair to frizzle up everything old and stagnant and unfortunate enough to stand in its way.

But then something happened between then and now. They lost it, that fire. Instead of frizzling up the old and stagnant, they became it. And they frizzled up from within.

Look what happened to Christopher Hitchens. Or to David Horowitz. Both started out as rather good writers, promising Trotskyists; both ended up as loathsome, lying neo-cons, vile enough to make a saint retch. Just something inherent in Trotskyism, some virus, some flaw that makes the adherent turn from perpetual revolution to perpetual imbecility? Just something inherently weak and debilitating in the left in general?

Hardly.

There are plenty of other writers from that era who did not abandon their initial political leanings. Ursula K. Le Guin is still a feminist, still opposed to war, still asking radical literary questions as an elder stateswoman of American Lit. She has only grown more brilliant over time. Gabriel García Márquez stayed on the left, won his Nobel and kept writing, and remains beloved and admired (by me, and yes, I have read his latest. It's not shit. He is still true to his own voice.)

It is entirely possible, in other words, to be a great writer, and a leftist, up to one's dying day. One's physical dying day, that is, since great writing is about as close to immortality as anyone can get.

Even those who did not physically live out the era still kept their gemlike flame. Che Guevara, who died the year I was born (just a little over two months after, in fact) is not only more popular than ever, he is also recognized as a fine writer in his own right. His diaries all stand as classics. And why not? A man who could turn phrases like "Let's be realists and do the impossible" deserves to be an immortal.

I'm sure the great Vargas Llosa, who won the prize posthumously as it were, is an immortal, or ought to be one. And that's what makes the zombie who schlepps around wearing his name and face and clothing such a sad travesty. We're still getting around to how he got dead, though.

As leftist politics fell out of vogue in Latin America through the latter 1960s, and into the '70s and '80s, a lot of lefties went right. Teodoro Petkoff, a guerrilla in early-1960s Venezuela, wound up in the 1990s as the finance minister to conservative president Rafael Caldera--and, not coincidentally, overseeing one of the worst financial catastrophes in Venezuela after the Caracazo. His policies were orthodox neoliberalism--pure Chicago School stuff, all by the Bretton Woods book. And they just about ruined Venezuela, not to mention any credibility that Petkoff ever had. His leftist guerrilla cred was as the dodo. He may have remained a pithy and scathing writer--even somehow managing, in the midst of economic collapse, to scare up the money to start his own newspaper, now sacred to the purpose of attacking Venezuela's current president. But he has become a corpse himself. Hardly anyone buys Tal Cual. No one can take him seriously, not even the opposition with whom he now runs (and still gets into vicious verbal brawls, when not busy slinging mud at Chavecito.) Washington may sponsor him, and the foreign press may fawn on him, but at home it means nothing. His own presidential efforts have been a flat failure.

So, incidentally, have those of none other than Mario Vargas Llosa. How flat? Well, he fucked off for Spain soon after. Suddenly, Peru was no longer good enough for him? Draw your own conclusions. But yes, he ran as a neoliberal or neo-con, and yes, he failed dismally as one. Just like Teodoro Petkoff.

What made these two once-fine writers dead? Just some wasting disease inherent in ex-leftism, I guess.

But the zombie of Vargas Llosa, like that of Petkoff, gives a convincing impression of still being alive. It walks, it talks (mostly gibberish, nowadays), and it gets into fights. (It once, famously, sucker-punched the still-leftist, very-much-alive Gabo--who metaphorically clobbered his ex-friend by grinning, black eye and all, for the camera, knowing himself to be blameless.)

Sometimes the zombie-Vargas Llosa takes its son Alvaro along for the ride, tag-team fashion. Alvaro Vargas Llosa isn't a ghost, he's an unborn wraith. He was never alive. But like his father, he's a very lifelike spook. He, too, writes fictions, even if they're not labelled as such. (An egregious error? Au contraire, it's part and parcel of the overall degeneracy that's seeped into western culture as the right has become ascendant.) He'll never win any prizes for them; none that matter, anyway. Vargas Llosa père has passed his degeneracy on to Vargas Llosa fils.

It really is frightening to watch the two of them somnambulating--or would be, if it weren't so comical. Because neither one enjoys any great credibility in LatAm anymore, not since the people keep electing and re-electing leftists, ignoring the groans of the living dead. Both Vargas Llosas regularly get trucked into Venezuela, where they give big speeches to tiny audiences, gibberish to the effect that there's no freedom of speech anymore since that Castro-communist Chavecito came to power. Meanwhile, public, independent and community media have multiplied in Venezuela, thanks to government funding, greatly diversifying the spectrum of political views expressed. The thing is, it's all happening on the left. On the right, the commercial media remain stagnant, and no one seems to want to talk about how many eyeballs they've lost. Or how the loss of RCTV's public-airwaves licence was actually due to repeated violations, most dating back decades before Chavecito, of Venezuelan broadcast standards, and not censorship. No one on the right, indeed, is saying anything worth paying attention to at all. (That's why they keep losing elections, too.)

But I guess it's uncharitable of me to point all that out; after all, we're supposed to speak no ill of the dead. I really should look up the works of fiction that Vargas Llosa wrote before he became a zombie. I'm sure I will appreciate them, in the same abstracted way I can appreciate the genius of poor, batshit-crazy Ezra Pound--by divorcing the brilliance of the language from the worm-ridden fascist skull from whence it sprung.

And then, perhaps, I will wish the ghost of Mario Vargas Llosa all happiness in his posthumous prize--a prize no less surreal, in my eyes, than Barack Obama's pre-emptive Nobel for peace, or that of Henry Kissinger.

October 1, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: El Ecuadorable is back!

And Ecuador's military and citizens HAVE his back:

The elation and relief the people must have felt when seeing this cannot be described. But to give you a taste of what the rescue operation was like, and what the rescuers were up against, here's my translation from Aporrea:

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, left the hospital where he was sequestered by national police at 9:25 pm, after 10 1/2 hours as a prisoner, in a very difficult military rescue operation.

President Correa left the hospital escorted by bodyguards, after a violent confrontation between the military and rebel police officers, which began at 8:46 pm and lasted until 9:25.

The president's vehicle was allowed to leave in a convoy of various military vehicles which then left the hospital after the president was removed from the scene.

President Correa left the hospital in a wheelchair, with a gasmask on, due to the large quantity of tear gas fired by police around the hospital.

45 minutes is an eternity when you're in a firefight. So far, the toll from yesterday's violence is 8 dead and 274 injured.

And here's an indication of just how serious the situation was. The grey minivan the military rescued him in was armored, and it was a good thing, too. This is what its hood looked like afterwards:

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And here is the windshield:

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Yup, those are bullet holes. Someone fired off four shots at the president. This was not just a protest; they wanted him DEAD.

But luckily for the people of Ecuador, this murder attempt was an epic fail. The military is no longer under the influence of the School of the Americas, though it's obvious the State Dept. has corrupted a certain sector of the police. According to Jean-Guy Allard (translated here by Machetera and cited by Eva Golinger), US "diplomats" are the infiltrators:

The report confirmed that police units "maintain an informal economic dependence on the United States, for the payment of informants, training, equipment and operations."

In response to the report, US Ambassador in Ecuador, Heather Hodges, justified the collaboration, saying "We work with the government of Ecuador, with the military and with the police, on objectives that are very important for security." According to Hodges, the work with Ecuador's security forces is related to the "fight against drug trafficking."

An excuse that will no longer wash, and which will no doubt make for chilly relations between Washington and Ecuador before long. Remember how they demonized Evo when he turfed out the DEA? Remember how USAID got behind numerous coup attempts against Evo AND Chavecito?

One good thing to emerge from all this chaos: It is evident that the nations of South America are no longer banana republics, resigned to whatever dictator Washington picks out for them. They have a taste for democracy now, and the people will lay their lives on the line to defend it. It logically follows that self-rule in all matters, from corporate law to anti-drug operations, will come in leaps and bounds. And when the influence of foreign diplomats is purged out, I think we'll be hearing a lot less about local officials' corruption, too.

Already Ecuador has stopped sending military officers to the School of the Americas; it closed its Manta base to the gringos last year. And not only has this notoriously "unstable" and "ungovernable" country not gone to hell in a drug-filled handbasket, its democratically elected president is going to stay in office as long as the people decreed--with ballots, not bullets--that he stay there. And not one hour less.

We so-called democratic nations can learn a lot from these so-called banana republics.

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 20, 2010

When psychotics psychoanalize a sane man

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Speaking from receiving-end experience, I know an effective therapist from a poor one. And the only thing that irks me more than amateurs playing shrink, is shrinks acting amateurish. Both together, though, drives me downright nuts. So when I saw this piece of crap article, titled "Psychiatrists put Chávez on the couch", on a Spanish news site, I found myself irresistibly tempted to analyze an obviously piss-poor bunch of analysts. Crazy, huh? So, with no further ado, here's my translation, with periodic interjections and analysis:

Mythomaniac, megalomaniac, fabulator, compulsive, narcissist, charismatic, seducer, envious, lacking in scruples. These are some of the traits Venezuelan psychiatrists attribute to their president, Hugo Chávez, who has been in power nearly twelve years, not counting "the missing ones". And, despite the fact that no previous president has spent more than ten years in power, he is now on the road to running in the presidential elections of 2012.

In the meantime, he himself is directing the campaign for the legislative elections which will be held on September 26, much more than legal norms allow.

Right off the bat, you can see how the author of the piece cunningly lays her trap. The real issue is the Venezuelan parliamentary election coming up on the 26th, but she buries that in the second paragraph. Instead, she chooses to lead with misdirection: the (imaginary) personality faults of Hugo Chávez, duly constituted president of Venezuela.

Notice, too, that she wraps all Venezuelan shrinks in the same blanket. In this reporter's little world, ALL of them think he's crazy. And no one who thinks otherwise is allowed to get a word in, as you will see.

And of course, the lying starts from the get-go. Aside from the imaginary personality traits attributed to Chávez, there is the accusation that he's committing electoral fraud by openly supporting his candidates for assembly seats. This is a lie. As leader of the PSUV, he is within his rights to support his own party's candidates on the campaign trail; it would be crazy if he didn't. In any other country, such campaign support would be a given. Why is it out of line in Venezuela? (Rhetorical question; the answer will come in due course.)

And oh yeah, as an aside, notice the other neat little bit of misdirection here: No mention at all of what the opposition leaders and candidates are up to. That's because they're all discredited relics from the Puntofijista/Fourth Republic past, and therefore bound to lose. For that reason, most have not even bothered to mount the most desultory campaign; those that have, are still lagging by double digits in the polls. Little wonder, then, that the hoary old "Chávez is loco" canard is being dragged out of mothballs yet again--he's the only one showing signs of life!

But surely transgressing against established norms--such as heading the electoral campaign for his parliamentary candidates, abusing state resources, and turning legislative elections into a plebiscite--it's another of his personality traits which is emphasized by consulted specialists--the need to call attention to himself.

"Specialists"--"consulted" by whom? Surely not Chavecito himself. These "consulted specialists" are nothing more than cheap political soundbite providers.

Notice, too, as the article goes on, that the charges of "abusing state resources" and "turning legislative elections into a plebiscite" are not backed up by the least shred of evidence. That's because there isn't any. Instead, the focus is on crazy, sexy craziness, in a masterpiece of misdirection...

"He's a person who needs constant admiration; he shows preoccupation with his fantasies of power, seems not to understand the meaning of limitations, has no notion of proportion, thinks he is special or unique, there is no institution that deserves his respect, and requires excessive admiration, always in public," says psychologist and psychotherapist María Bustamante.

María, María, María...he's the president. He gets constant admiration because his policies are effective and therefore popular; no narcissistic "explanation" required. And he actually understands the meaning of limitations quite well; everything he's done has been within the norms of the Venezuelan constitution. He even puts himself to a popular vote and wins! How narcissistic!

For insight into his conduct, you have to recall those days in February 1999, when Gabriel García Márquez wrote his famous article "The Enigma of the Two Chávezes": "One, to whom unalterable fate offered the opportunity to save his country, and the other, an illusionist, who could pass into history as just another despot."

Um, since when is a famous Colombian novelist a "consulted specialist"? He is NOT a shrink! Gabriel García Márquez, you may recall, is famous for his work in the field of fiction known as Magical Realism. And his "Two Chávezes" is more a work of poetic fancy than a literal interpretation of the personality of this leader, whom García likes, admires and politically sympathizes with, himself. I don't think he would like to be read so literally as to be insinuating that Chávez is schizophrenic, or has a multiple-personality disorder.

Many would give him the Oscar for the best portrayal of a politician in Venezuela. He likes to invite Hollywood celebrities like Oliver Stone, Sean Penn and Danny Glover, who, like him, are members of the same profession: that of the politico-actor.

ZOMG histrionics! Actually, this is not such different conduct from that of his rivals and predecessors, all of whom cultivated celebrities--mostly local, occasionally foreign--with sympathetic views. What's notable here, though, is that Chavecito's support extends well beyond the usual vacuous beauty-queen contingent that trails the AD/COPEI crowd; the celebrities he attracts have reputations as the intellectuals of their field, and are extremely well respected worldwide, not just in Venezuela.

His vocation for the interpretative arts was born in the military academy, where he trod the boards in the theatre. Former director of budgets for the Ministry of Defence, Colonel Orlando Suárez, a former professor of Chávez's, told ABC that "Once he played the role of General José Antonio Páez in an academy play. He has natural theatrical gifts, exacerbated by his narcissistic tendency, but before, he was shy and retiring."

Colonel Suárez does not hold a very favorable opinion of Chávez, whom he trained in parachuting in 1983 and 1984. He recalls that Chávez "turned pale with fear when it came time to jump. He always looked for an excuse not to do it. He is a coward by nature." In the military academy he was always in one of the last places in his class. "He failed his leadership course exam. He had to repeat the entire course to graduate. And he only managed it thanks to his family's influence with ex-president Rafael Caldera." Colonel Suárez considers Chávez "more 'toasted' "(crazy, in Venezuelan slang) than ex-president Abdalá Bucaram of Ecuador, who was expelled from power due to his "eccentricities".

Hmmm. Why do I get the feeling that this former army officer is just bitter and envious of Chavecito, who retired from the military with the rank of a mere lieutenant-colonel himself and then went on to become president? Maybe he's pissed that he wasn't promoted to general, or chief of staff, or some such; his words reek of resentment. There are so many inconsistencies and outright lies in his statements that it's obvious he couldn't keep his story straight. How could Chavecito manage to play the role of General Páez--a major revolutionary hero, and one of his leadership role models--while being "shy and retiring"? (Actually, that last bit is definitely bullshit; the pre-academy Chavecito is widely remembered, according to Bart Jones's bio of him, as outgoing, full of fun, a hard worker, and fond of baseball and singing. And about as shy and retiring as a roaring waterfall.)

As for turning pale with fear when confronted with parachute jumping: Hell, who wouldn't be? I'm sure plenty of others were green around the gills, too. No one is NOT nervous the first time they jump out of an airplane; it's a great way to get yourself killed, and so much can go wrong even if you're well prepared. It's perfectly natural and rational, therefore, to be afraid. But apparently Chavecito mastered the art just fine, because he later got command of a paratroop regiment. You don't get there unless you can jump, and do so fearlessly. Plus, Chavecito later survived an attempt on his life with real courage, and not an iota of cowardice. So yeah, I call bullshit on this one too.

And at the bottom of his class? In LEADERSHIP, of all things? You guessed it, bullshit. One thing that strikes me, every time I view The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, is what a tremendous natural rapport Chavecito has with his soldiers, and how easily he inspires loyalty in them. That's not just charisma; that's competence. Their loyalty, in fact, was what saved his life when the coupmongers imprisoned him on the island of La Orchila. You don't get that by flunking in leadership skills training, much less getting your dad to exercise his pull with, of all people, Rafael Caldera, who was NOT president in 1983-4 (that was Jaime Lusinchi). And when Chavecito was in military academy, ten years earlier, Caldera WAS president, but Hugo Chávez Sr. was not exactly someone who had a lot of pull with him. In fact, he had none whatsoever, being a poor schoolteacher from the backwaters of Barinas. So yeah, once more with feeling, everyone: BULLSHIT!

Psychologist Bustamante emphasizes the "meritorious" and "caudillo" (petty tyrant) character of Chávez. He creates irrational expectations in order to be treated as someone special, to whom blind obedience is owed. "He turns everyone who thinks differently from himself into despicable enemies, and almost always talks from an elevated position and in a royal tone." The most obvious aspect of his conduct is exclusion. "He is envious--and feels that others envy him--and has arrogant, holier-than-thou, haughty attitudes."

Bustamante says that as president, he "displays changing and very superficial expressions, uses his physical appearance or costumes to call attention to himself, and has an excessively expressionist discourse style."

Well, I'm sure María Bustamante would prefer someone colorless and bland, like Rafael Caldera--who, during his own second presidency, in the late 1990s, was obliged to appear in public and lay rest to rumors that he had died. (Yes, he was THAT boring. And sadly, that old.) But is she right about the blind obedience bit?

No. Chavecito actually likes to be challenged, and this is something that many who have worked with him have remarked on. He thrives on legitimate contradiction, even from his allies. He doesn't want yes-men; he's actively engaged with the needs of his people, and he likes to hear them out. That's just one of the many reasons why he's so effective and popular: He LISTENS.

As for appearances and costumes: He seems to have only two, both perfectly in character and not crazy in the least. One is the black pants and untucked red shirt he favors for everyday; red being the color of his party (and also the color that suits his own complexion best). The other is his military uniform and red beret, both of which he is still entitled to wear as commander-in-chief. This is "excessively expressionist"? I'd sure like some of whatever María is smoking, it might help me to fall asleep.

Eloy Silvio Pomenta, a professor of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy at the Central University of Venezuela, explained to us that, in an ordinary person, a character marked by narcissism has no power to cause much social disturbance. "But when it comes to a head of state in an important oil-producing country, who also possesses a great capacity for seducing and manipulating the masses, who has his own little intellectual court, and who attracts political and economic leaders who approach him with lucrative offers, the repercussions could be catastrophic."

Pomenta mentions other narcissistic personality traits that Chávez suffers: grandiosity, exhibitionism, a feeling of omnipotence, fragile self-esteem (with depressive crises), incapacity to love (because all his affective capacities are concentrated on his own ego, he is unavailable to others), disconnection from reality, rage, and destructive envy when he is not getting what he wants.

Amazing how he can diagnose all that without seeing Chavecito on his couch on a regular basis! The man must be some kind of psychic. I see a brilliant future ahead for him on a 900-number phone line. But as a shrink? Nyet.

One thing that IS significant here, though, is the mention of oil. Remember I mentioned it earlier? That's what this is really all about. They don't like a competent, dangerously sane leader being in charge of all that oil, which was incidentally being sneak-privatized just before he entered office. Venezuelan oil has gone up in price, and that's been all to the good of the Revolution, too. Previous presidents ran the national oil company into the ground, and were all for letting foreigners buy it--and them--out. Not so, Chavecito. He's no sellout. Not only is he a savvy businessman, he knows how to make that oil work for his country, rather than just sending his country to work for Big Foreign Oil like so many of his predecessors--some of whom were REAL dictators. (Google Juan Vicente Gómez and Marcos Pérez Jiménez, in particular, and you'll see just what I mean.) I've never yet seen a dictator who could take oil money and put it into hospitals, schools and loans to entrepreneurs, instead of just his own pockets and those of his cronies--have you? Yet this is what Chavecito does on a regular basis, and quite happily. It's called "sowing the oil", in Venezuela, and it's something the people just love him for doing--that is, if they're not displaced former incompetent PDVSA execs.

And now, for something truly comical:

According to psychiatrist Luis José Uzcátegui, author of "Chavez, the Wizard of Emotions", the leader "has become trapped in a totally outdated psychological structure. I'm referring to Fidel Castro, which is something catastrophical. No country can function with such backward schemes."

He adds that several of Chávez's traits "are contagious" to his acolytes and followers. "The important thing is that these psycho-political processes are unfolding according to a scheme we've already seen: high spending and inefficiency."

On January 15, Chávez officially declared himself a Marxist, though he said he had not read a book of Karl Marx in his life. If he had said so eleven years ago, few people would have voted for him, and he would not be in Miraflores Palace today. His "21st Century Socialism" project, which Fidel Castro called communist last month, was rejected in the referendum of 2007, but he keeps at it, come what may.

"Therein lies the danger. There is a type of socialism which is only for antisocials. They invent a socialism of their own to keep themselves in power. Chávez exercises a modern dictatorship, tailored to the times," Uzcátegui says.

Isn't that hysterical? Once more, the old guilt-by-association thing rears its bedraggled head. Only, as usual, it stinks and won't wash. Fidel Castro has been vocal in praise of Chavecito's democratic way of doing things, and while Cuba has benefited from mutual interchange with Venezuela under the ALBA treaty, it's not as if Venezuela has turned into another Cuba or is in danger of doing so. Everything about Bolivarian Venezuela so far has been very democratic, and very distinctly different from the Cuban revolutionary course.

Moreover, the author of this piece is lying about Chávez declaring himself a Marxist on January 15; I think I'd have made note of it here, if that were the case! It would be awfully hard to miss something like that. And without having read Marx? Shenanigans! He read Marx, actually, early on in his military career, after having found an abandoned, bullet-riddled car that had once belonged to some leftist guerrillas. The trunk of the car was full of musty old Marxist literature, which he removed, cleaned up and stashed in a personal library which he and his army buddies later used as they began to organize their Bolivarian military movement. But while Chavecito may draw some of his information and inspiration from Marx, he is emphatically not a Marxist.

And no, Fidel didn't call the Bolivarian revolution "communist", either; I think I'd have heard of that, if he did. Nor was the revolution rejected in 2007; that was just one vote for term-limit reform, which was later put to another vote and passed. Just more stupid shenanigans on the part of our shoddy journalist.

And now, finally, we arrive at the nut (pun intended) of the whole matter:

The social-democratic party, Acción Democrática (AD), tried in 2005 to accuse Chávez of insanity, which, according to the Constitution, could be a cause to remove him from the presidency, but neither the Supreme Court nor the Attorney General would hear the case. Not long before that, in 2002, the then president of the Venezuelan Psychiatric Society (SVP), Franzel Delgado Senior, alerted the country to the personality problems besetting Chávez.

In a statement to ABC, Franzel accused Chávez of leading a kind of cult, "a movement which exhibits an excessive devotion to a person, idea or thing, which uses unethical techniques of manipulation to persuade and control; designed to achieve the leader's goals." He concludes: "Psychopaths are very afraid of actions against him. They talk about assassinations. They don't like that he is called a dictator. But I don't see him as ultimately democratic. I see him as being like any other other dictator."

Isn't that hysterical? Five years ago, those corrupt, discredited old Adecos tried to get Chavecito removed from office on the grounds of insanity, and their efforts failed. Now, five years later, they're trying again. I guess they expect a different result this time. Well, if that's not the functional equivalent of insanity, I don't know what is. Good thing they're not in power and never will be again; they'd have to be removed, to a man, because they're all lunatics.

And if you don't believe me, watch AD party leader Henry Ramos Allup and listen to him talk:

As the Robertos point out, he's quite the one for rages and insults, histrionics, egotism and just about everything else the Adecos accuse Chavecito of. For that reason, I have to say that these psychiatrists--amateur or otherwise--who are trying to diagnose Chavecito as insane are...wait for it...PROJECTING.

And yes, projection is just one of many signs of real insanity.

September 17, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging Too: Chavecito on Venezuela's Jews

This should lay to rest any residual bullshit about Chavecito's so-called antisemitism. Here he is, on Yom Kippur, talking about Venezuela's Jews and how they fit in to the multi-cultural, multi-religious mix of Venezuela:

The last part is especially lovely. He tells how he was approached by an elderly Jewish man who'd survived Auschwitz and lost his entire family. He came to Venezuela, not Israel, looking for a new homeland. He found it, and feels very much at home.

Shabbat Shalom, Salaam Aleikum, Pax Vobis--as VTV's Walter Martínez likes to say every Friday night on his news show, Dossier. Everyone belongs in Bolivarian Venezuela. And no one is persecuted.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Just for laughs

Look! Chavecito made a funny:

chavecito-jokes-with-putin.jpg

Urgh, that was a groaner. But not without a grain of truth...

September 12, 2010

Music for a Sunday: "When the eagles crawl on the ground"

This wonderful Alí Primera song goes out to the people of Venezuela today, as they mourn the sudden loss (on Friday) of William Lara, their former president of the National Assembly (and at the time of his fatal car accident, governor of the state of Guárico).

If you've seen The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, you've seen William Lara. He's the man who got on the phone to reporters in several countries, informing them that the putschists were lying, that Hugo Chávez did not step down as president, that he was kidnapped and held prisoner. Had Chávez and his vice-president been killed, as the putschists had no doubt intended, Lara would have been next in line, constitutionally, to serve as president of Venezuela; his life, like that of all Chávez's parliamentary cohort, was at grave risk during those 48 awful hours. Lara was also the one who swore in Diosdado Cabello, then vice-president, as temporary president, so he could officially order the military out to bring Chávez back. And, having worked as a journalist himself, William Lara knew the importance of getting the truth out through the media. The role he played in the rescue of his president was a crucial one.

Here are the lyrics to the song, which at the time of Alí Primera's own death (also in a car accident) was still just a poignant precursor of the Bolivarian revolution to come:

When the soldier doesn't serve the Homeland in a general's garden, When the eagles crawl on the ground, When no one talks empty talk, When there are no more oppressed people, Then, I'll sing an ode to peace.

You can hear from a distance the drums of San Juan,
How they say to the blacks who used to be slaves, that they used to be slaves;
But what I know is that there's no song
That says to Venezuela that she's free, because she's not.
When the eagles crawl on the ground,
When no one talks empty talk,
When there are no more oppressed people, then
I'll sing an ode to peace.

Let's go, just once
Let's go, just once
We have to make revolution soon
Because the longer we wait,
The harder it gets.

When the eagles crawl on the ground,
When no one talks empty talk,
When there are no more oppressed people, then...
I'll sing an ode to peace.

Honor and glory to William Lara--journalist, revolutionary, parliamentarian, governor, hero. Peace be to his name.

September 10, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Gotta hand it to Venezuela...

And Chavecito certainly does. He was in the Caracas barrio of Petare today, handing out land titles to community organizations so that poor folks have more autonomy over their own homes:

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And of course, he was proudly wearing the flag as he did so. He's got plenty to be proud of. Today also marks the fifth anniversary of Venezuela being declared free of illiteracy by the UN. It's still going strong, with no regressions. They did it with the help of Cuba. Can your capitalism do that?

September 9, 2010

Jaime Bayly: Gay or not gay?

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Sounds like someone is flirting with confusion:

Peruvian journalist and writer Jaime Bayly, who wanted to be a presidential candidate in 2011, said that his gay side was eclipsed when he revealed he would be a father for the third time during his TV program, broadcast from Lima.

"God wants me to be a father, not a president," joked Bayly, 45, who said that his girlfriend Silvia, 21, was expecting a baby in April 2011, coincidentally the same month as the Peruvian presidential election.

"I'm not gay, I can't be gay, I still like women. I met Silvia and fell in love with her. Two things happened: She cured my impotence; and, in falling in love with her, my gay side was eclipsed," said Bayly, who is as famous for his jokes as he is for his novels.

His future fatherhood would also have a direct effect upon his desire to be a candidate, Bayly said, declaring that "the presidential salary won't be enough for me to support three children."

Bayly, who directs the program "The Sniper", in which he plays with an image of bisexuality cultivated in his novels, is the father of two girls by his first marriage. A self-declared "provocateur", "left liberal", and defender of abortion and gay marriage, Bayly polled a voting intention that fluctuated between 5% and 8%.

Translation mine.

Readers may recall that I translated a piece by Jaime Bayly a while back, in which he revealed that Guido Antonini Wilson, the perpetrator of the briefcase-bribery scandal in Argentina, was actually opposed to Chavecito, and was actively trying to bring him down through the "Valijagate" incident. Bayly met Antonini, who tried to befriend him, and found him a tad hinky; in the end, no real friendship ensued.

I don't doubt that Bayly is still bisexual; falling in love with women doesn't preclude the gay side of him from rearing its head (which it may well do again at some time in the future, Silvia notwithstanding). He's a pretty mixed-up character, from what I hear; he was recently in rehab for cocaine addiction; no word on if he's actually recovered. Time and reflection will help him a lot more with all his issues than facetious denials, but that's something only he will be able to find out for himself. And I do hope he will.

September 7, 2010

Good luck with that tour, Alejandro...

...because something tells me you're gonna need it, if this is any indication of the reception you're bound to get in Venezuela:

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Basically, the mediocre Spanish singer is asking Chavecito for permission to enter Venezuela. (You may recall that he got a shirt from a fan reading "Chávez Sucks", not so long ago. And he was not at all shy of waving it around like a flag.)

Well, Luigino Bracci, who blogs here, took exception to that and cordially invited Sanz to stuff a hot potato down his pants. (Or words to that effect. How many people north of the Río Grande eat yucca, anyway?)

And he's far from alone in that sentiment; other Venezuelan tweeters were equally vocal, and they got retweeted over and over and over again. Given that the Venezuelan twittersphere has gone rojo rojito since Chavecito got on the tweeter, that's a lot of pissed-off little birdies who think Sanz sucks.

Alejandro Sanz might want to purchase a pair of kneepads, if he doesn't already own any. He's got a LOT of grovelling ahead of him. And I do hope he likes the taste of mierda, because he's gonna be eating it three squares a day.

EDIT, Wednesday the 8th @ 5:47 PM: Ha, ha...look who I scooped. I had this post up two days ago.

September 5, 2010

Guess who's gonna lose on September 26?

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I'll give you a broad hint: It's the ones who have no platform, and nothing but stupid gimmicks.

An opposition candidate in next month's Venezuelan legislative elections is holding a breast implant raffle to fund his campaign, he said in a newspaper interview published Friday.

"The raffle is a legal method. We decided on breast implants because we wanted to target a specific public sector," Gustavo Rojas told El Universal.

"Raffle tickets on sale now: win a breast implant operation for yourself or your partner," Rojas announces on his website.

The interview does not mention either the cost of a breast implant operation or how much money Rojas expects to get with the raffle.

This guy is with the right-wing Primero Justicia party. "Justice First" is actually not very justice-oriented, if they have to resort to this kind of sexist pandering. They've resorted to other pandering in the past, promising to clean up the garbage and fight crime. And what did they do when elected?

NOTHING.

The Caracas barrio, Petare, has a Primero Justicia mayor, Carlos Ocariz. His cops are more interested in repressing Chavistas, and the bright yellow garbage bins--the PJ party color--are overflowing, with no sign of a pickup truck in sight.

Guess who's gonna lose the municipal elections of the 26th? The party with the biggest boobs, that's who.

September 3, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito waxes poetic

Did you know that Chavecito's not just a president, he's also a slam poet?

Okay, that's not his own poem he's reciting there (with guitar accompaniment by the great Cuban folk singer, Silvio Rodríguez). It's a poem by Alberto Arvelo Torrealba about Simón Bolívar, called "Por Aquí Pasó" (Through Here He Passed). Here's my (admittedly rough) translation:

Through here he passed, comrade, toward those distant mountains.

Look at that trail through the grasses,
look at it, comrade,
it's like the clear rains
in the dust-dry landscape,
like a well among tablelands,
like a star in a tunnel,
like the heron in the rushes,
like flights in the evening sky,
like the snow on the mountaintop,
like a fire in the night,
like a firefly in the air,
like the moon among sand dunes,
like the white horse on the coat-of-arms
and the tricolor in the sky.

Through here he passed, comrade,
toward those distant mountains.
There goes his only image,
grave, but aquiline,
saddle of burnished leather,
dapple-grey horse, brave of heart.
His cape like a flag,
his horse in the lead,
artist engraving villages,
man restoring nations,
tasting glories, great herdsman!

Through here he passed, comrade,
toward those distant mountains.
Listen!
Listen to that suspended voice
over the sun-gleam of those sand-dunes.

The voice that shouts the loudest,
listen to it, comrades!
It's like the sound of the conch-shells
when the mule-drivers pass,
like the breeze in the palms,
like the eagle in the ceibo,
like the thunder in the distance,
like the four-stringed guitar in the air,
like the anguish in my song,
like the rooster in the silence,
like the gunshot in the attack,
like the bull in the rodeo,
like the horse's whinny in the air,
like the helmet in the silence,
like the cry of the centaur in the Queseras del Medio,
like the Homeland in the anthem,
like the bugle on the wind.

Through here passed Bolívar, comrade,
toward those distant mountains!
In the evening sun today his profile
will rise, to return
over this immense desert.

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 27, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Socialized medicine, epic fail?

Don't tell it to Chavecito's Venezuela. They just graduated another big class of new doctors...

chavecito-med-school-class.jpg

...meaning that 90% of Venezuelans now have access to public medical care, up from less than 40%, which it was when Chavecito was first elected in 1998. In another year or two, it should be 100%. Chavecito really is the Tommy Douglas of Latin America.

But in case all that factual stuff about the abject failure of privatization (which is really a form of privation) bores you, here you go. The obligatory adorable shot:

chavecito-che-kid.jpg

August 25, 2010

The Bush Crime Family's tentacles in Cuba

bfee.jpg

Thought you'd seen the last of Dubya when His Barackness kicked him oh-so-politely out of the White House, and hustled him and his minions onto that chopper to take him back to Crawford where he belonged? Think again. As long as there's a Bush family, there will be an evil empire of crime and greed. That empire is unbelievably vast, and its tentacles reach all over the place, sucking wealth out of remote locations and leaving the locals impoverished unless they fight back. And one of those places, as strange coincidence would have it, is CUBA--where the locals fought back successfully, and against which, it seems, the BFEE still bears a grudge:

The obsession of the Bush family with Cuba, and its determination to make life difficult for Cubans, begs the question: Is there some secret or "black hole" in the relations of the Bushes with this Caribbean isle?

In reality, there's no cat to let out of the bag, because the hidden skeleton left the closet some time ago, when there was an investigation and a recounting of the links between the Bush family name and Cuba, conducted by Marcelo Pérez Suárez, doctor of political science, of the Foreign Ministry of Cuba.

From one of his works, we draw the following revealing data:

George Herbert Walker, maternal great-grandfather of George W. Bush, member of the wealthy family headed by Prescott Bush, was a director of seven companies operating in Cuba since 1920. These were dedicated to the production of sugar, distillation of rum, and railroad infrastructure. They were called The Cuba Company, The Cuban Railroad, Cuban Dominican Sugar, Barahona Sugar, Cuba Distilling, Sugar Estates of Oriente, and Atlantic Fruit and Sugar.

These were merged in 1942 into the West Indies Sugar Company, which was nationalized in 1960 by the Cuban revolutionary government [of Fidel Castro].

In 1953, George H. Walker died, but his namesake son, George H. Walker Jr., the uncle of George Bush, took up the reins of those seven companies. That same year, George Bush, father of George W. Bush, entered the oil business and founded the Zapata Oil company in Houston, Texas, creating Zapata Offshore as a subsidiary.

In 1958, Zapata Offshore signed a contract to exploit petroleum deposits 40 miles off the Cuban shore, north of Isabela de Sagua in the province of Las Villas. This venture was cut short by the triumph of the Revolution in 1959.

However, even with the possibility of business and investments with Cuba ruled out, George Bush Sr. remained president of Zapata Offshore until 1966.

Zapata Offshore and its head, George Bush, are both linked to the CIA, as was shown by declassified documents from the US Secret Service. Also because the records of Zapata were destroyed. A good while after 1960, the Secret Service moved to protect George Bush when he began his political career and destroyed all the records between 1981 and 1983, when he began his term as vice-president. There were motives.

What is true is that regarding West Indies Sugar and Zapata, it is very likely that the Bush family, as well as being hurt in its business relations and investments in Cuba, may have maintained some "right" to reclamation after the nationalizations of the Revolution. Recall that many companies have continued to maintain these "rights" up to now, hoping to recuperate the properties or a higher compensation [than originally received], under the complicity of the government and laws of the United States.

Fletcher Prouty, an ex-CIA officer, confirmed in his 1973 book, The Secret Team, that two of the ships used for the Bay of Pigs invasion--the Barbara and the Houston--were renamed and repainted by Agent Bush in the naval base of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, before being sent to Cuba, and that his company, Zapata Offshore, was used as a front.

In summation, there is no "black hole" in the relationship between the Bush family and Cuba. Everything is clearer than water, and there is nothing hidden to investigate.

Translation mine. Linkage added.

Of course, if you've been following the BFEE in more recent years (as this site has), you'll already know that they've fallen on harder times since those glory days when they snapped up trouble-ridden Cuban corporations at fire-sale prices and proceeded to profiteer obscenely from the investment. Dubya's oil companies, Harken and Arbusto, were most notable for drilling dry holes, for losing money, and in Arbusto's case, for being sold, at a ridiculous profit, to none other than one of the Bin Ladens (another rich and powerful family, this one distinctly Saudi in character. Perhaps you've heard of them?) It's awfully tempting to put two and two together between that connection and 9-11, and a certain CIA daily briefing that Dubya--oddly, considering that he is the son of a former CIA director--brushed aside, not to mention how badly the US military, under Dubya's orders, flubbed the battle of Tora Bora (the one where a certain tall turban-man named Osama got away.) Don't you think so?

If you do, you won't have any problem seeing why Dubya strove so hard (and in vain) throughout his term to starve Cuba out. Actually, his old man came closer to it, which is why you may have seen that brief rash of Cuban boat-people during the so-called "Special Period" between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the mid-1990s, when the Cuban economy began to recover and the trickle of economic migrants ceased. That period of hardship eased, not due to foreign investment (for there was none), nor by any buyouts or reclamations of nationalized corporations (there were none of those, either), but by the Cuban people's pre-existing self-sufficiency drive, established in the wake of the Revolution. The Special Period deepened and intensified it, and Cuban ingenuity won that day.

The Cuban recovery happened during Bill Clinton's tenure--at a time when the BFEE, and indeed the entire US right-wing, was doing its damnedest to force that popular, and largely peace-minded, president out of office. Ken Starr and his panty-sniffing, pornographic impeachment drive failed. Even the Elián González kerfuffle could not spark the undoubtedly desired conflict that might have brought things to a head in Cuba. There was nothing for the BFEE to do there, and not later, either. Dubya missed his own window of opportunity when Venezuela struck up the ALBA treaty, with Cuba as its first co-signer. (He had struck out earlier, too, when his oily widdle coup against Venezuela failed in '02.)

Two rich Caribbean oil treasure troves, and he fucked up in his efforts to get them, as my mom would say in German, under his fingernails. That's gotta hurt. But it's quite par for the course; Dubya has the reverse of the Midas touch. Everything he sticks his hand into turns to shit.

Let's hope that no subsequent Bush gets into the Oval Office, or, in the event that one does, let's hope he fails as badly as all his predecessors at undermining the sovereignty of Latin America for nefarious BFEE corporate purposes.

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.

chavecito-colombian-students.jpg

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:

colombian-bases.jpg

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:

colombia-says-no.jpg

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:

chavecito-colombia.jpg

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...

chavecito-colombians.jpg

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:

chavecito-colombian-baby.jpg

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 8, 2010

Music for a Sunday: Two from Dame pa' Matala

Two more consciousness-elevating songs from Venezuela's finest folkies:

First, "Roba Caminos":

Best line: "Shuddup muddafucka!"

Sounds like he's tired of something. Hmmm, I wonder what?

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:

chavecito-kirchner-lula.jpg

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):

chavecito-kirchner-lula-jolly.jpg

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:

pinera-correa.jpg

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

August 5, 2010

What I learned about Christopher Hitchens's mental health when I visited Slate.com

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For starters, he really needs to be waterboarded again. Or something that will sober him the fuck up. He's drinking so much, it's embarrassing to watch his brain deteriorate like this...

Recent accounts of Hugo Chávez's politicized necrophilia may seem almost too lurid to believe, but I can testify from personal experience that they may well be an understatement. In the early hours of July 16--just at the midnight hour, to be precise--Venezuela's capo officiated at a grisly ceremony. This involved the exhumation of the mortal remains of Simón Bolívar, leader of Latin America's rebellion against Spain, who died in 1830. According to a vividly written article by Thor Halvorssen in the July 25 Washington Post, the skeleton was picked apart--even as Chávez tweeted the proceedings for his audience--and some teeth and bone fragments were taken away for testing. The residual pieces were placed in a coffin stamped with the Chávez government's seal. In one of the rather free-associating speeches for which he has become celebrated, Chávez appealed to Jesus Christ to restage the raising of Lazarus and reanimate Bolívar's constituent parts.

Okay. That's a lot of fucking crazy to pack into just one introductory paragraph, but let's have at it.

"Recent accounts of Hugo Chávez's politicized necrophilia may seem almost too lurid to believe..."

That's because they ARE. They are too lurid to be called anything other than rank speculation. There is no "politicized necrophilia". This was a scientific invesitigation, attended (among other august international scientific institutions) by the Smithsonian and the National Geographic Society. Its purpose is twofold: to determine if it is indeed the Liberator in Bolívar's crypt (and not the bones of some random impostor), and, if it is he, what he died of, since historical accounts are troublingly vague. The general consensus seems to be that he died of tuberculosis, but it was strangely sudden; it happened before he could journey into the exile imposed on him by the oligarchy. Therefore, there is reasonable grounds for suspicion that Bolívar may have been murdered. It is by no means settled fact that he died of natural causes. Hence, the need for an investigation. The samples were taken so that two sets of tests could be run on them: one for the DNA markers found in the blood of the descendants of Bolívar's sister (the Liberator himself had no children), and the other, for evidence of disease, and possibly the presence of arsenic and other poisons in abnormally high quantities.

This is "politicized necrophilia"?

"I can testify from personal experience that they may well be an understatement."

No, you bloody fucking can't. You don't understand Spanish, so you had to rely on the burblings of Thor Halvorssen...an oligarch and fascist putschist posing as a human-rights advocate and freedom-loving concern troll. Bad mistake there, Hitch. LSD hallucinations have more veracity than anything Thor dreams up. The poor widdle rich boy is a disociado who can't do an honest day's work for the life of him, so he has to make clumsy, obscure crapaganda films and run a bogus foundation dedicated to preserving the privilege of the least deserving. And its work is to provide a pretext for future coups against democratically elected leaders whom the Latin American and Washington elites can't stand.

"In the early hours of July 16--just at the midnight hour, to be precise--Venezuela's capo officiated at a grisly ceremony."

"Capo"??? You make him sound like a fucking mafia boss, Hitch. He's precisely the opposite. Unlike your little pal Thor, whose technicolor hallucinations you take for gospel...

And no, he did not "officiate" at a "grisly ceremony". The opening of the Liberator's tomb was conducted by scientists, working with the utmost care. It took about 24 hours to complete, so there was not only a "midnight hour", but a noon hour, a sunrise hour and a sunset hour, too. Chávez was not present by the graveside. He was respectfully out of the way, to allow the scientists to do their work. There's a video here, if you're interested. The pictures speak for themselves: Chávez is not even in the room. There are only the scientists, opening the sarcophagus and cutting the metal casing around the Liberator's bones before carefully opening it up. You'll see nothing grisly, other than maybe the respectful removal of an old seven-star Venezuelan flag. But you'll have to learn Spanish if you really want to understand what's going on.

"According to a vividly written article by Thor Halvorssen in the July 25 Washington Post, the skeleton was picked apart..."

No, it was not. And shame on you for mediumistically relying on such blatant crapaganda instead of bothering to see and learn the facts for yourself, you pathetic drunken ass. A camera placed directly above the work area where the scientists cut open the metal casing reveals that the skeleton was left--very respectfully--almost entirely intact, other than the removal of a few small, unobtrusive samples.

"The residual pieces were placed in a coffin stamped with the Chávez government's seal."

Uh, that would be the official coat of arms of Venezuela, you fuckwit. And those "residual pieces" comprised almost the entire skeleton.

"Chávez appealed to Jesus Christ to restage the raising of Lazarus and reanimate Bolívar's constituent parts."

Hitch, do you know what metaphor is? If not, now would be a good time to learn. Chavecito was NOT praying for Bolívar to literally rise from his grave. He was, rather, reciting a famous poem by Pablo Neruda whose most famous line, uttered by Neruda's imagined Bolívar, is "I awaken every hundred years, when the people awaken." THAT is what Chavecito was so mystically reciting over a compilation of key snippets from the exhumation! He was appealing to the spirit of Bolívar, not the flesh.

And the spirit is very much alive in the revolution; it was invoked, in fact, long before Chavecito staged his first rebellion against the puppet-democracy of Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992. During the Caracazo of 1989, protesters didn't merely loot the shops when everything shot up in price and became unaffordable; they did so waving the flag, singing the national anthem, and chanting verses glorifying Bolívar, signifying that their struggle was patriotic in nature.

This is something that the idiots who screamed about the "sacrilege" of the exhumation obviously didn't grasp. Given that Hitchens positions himself as an iconoclastic atheist, he ought to at least understand that this was not religious literalism here, but the language of poetry, recited to honor the memory of Bolívar most fittingly, in the words and cadences of Latin America's best loved poet. But of course, he chooses deliberately not to, going instead for the superstition-and-mumbo-jumbo angle. An easy, ugly, and breathtakingly stupid smear.

Of course, Hitchens doesn't let his loopy stupidities end there; he goes on:

As if "channeling" this none-too-subtle identification of Chávez with the national hero, Venezuelan television was compelled to run images of Bolívar, followed by footage of the remains, and then pictures of the boss. The national anthem provided the soundtrack. Not since North Korean media declared Kim Jong-il to be the reincarnation of Kim Il Sung has there been such a blatant attempt to create a necrocracy, or perhaps mausolocracy, in which a living claimant assumes the fleshly mantle of the departed.

Again, very cheap, very easy, very stupid, very smeary. Hitchens is reduced here practically to babble--to inventing words for what doesn't exist. Chavecito could not be further removed from Kim Jong Mentally Il, whether geographically or politically. Hitchens obviously needs a fat slap up the head to remind him that this man is democratically elected and re-elected, and more popular than any of his predecessors since...well, since Bolívar himself. And of course the national anthem would be played--it was the exhumation of the national hero of not one, but half a dozen Latin American nations! Duh!

There follows a paragraph in which Hitchens pays a sop to the Liberator--one that he doesn't have the moral right to, since he just spent all the foregoing slamming the respectful, scientific exhumation of Bolívar's bones. I'm gonna skip that--it's boilerplate anyway--and go on to the next bit of sleazy slamming and smearing:

In the fall of 2008, I went to Venezuela as a guest of Sean Penn's, whose friendship with Chávez is warm. The third member of our party was the excellent historian Douglas Brinkley, and we spent some quality time flying around the country on Chávez's presidential jet and bouncing with him from rally to rally at ground level, as well. The boss loves to talk and has clocked up speeches of Castro-like length. Bolívar is the theme of which he never tires. His early uniformed movement of mutineers--which failed to bring off a military coup in 1992--was named for Bolívar. Turning belatedly but successfully to electoral politics, he called his followers the Bolivarian Movement. Since he became president, the country's official name has been the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. (Chávez must sometimes wish that he had been born in Bolivia in the first place.) At Cabinet meetings, he has been known to leave an empty chair, in case the shade of Bolívar might choose to attend the otherwise rather Chávez-dominated proceedings.

It did not take long for this hero-obsession to disclose itself in bizarre forms. One evening, as we were jetting through the skies, Brinkley mildly asked whether Chávez's large purchases of Russian warships might not be interpreted by Washington as a violation of the Monroe Doctrine. The boss's response was impressively immediate. He did not know for sure, he said, but he very much hoped so. "The United States was born with an imperialist impulse. There has been a long confrontation between Monroe and Bolívar. ... It is necessary that the Monroe Doctrine be broken." As his tirade against evil America mounted, Penn broke in to say that surely Chávez would be happy to see the arrest of Osama Bin Laden.

I was hugely impressed by the way that the boss scorned this overture. He essentially doubted the existence of al-Qaida, let alone reports of its attacks on the enemy to the north. "I don't know anything about Osama Bin Laden that doesn't come to me through the filter of the West and its propaganda." To this, Penn replied that surely Bin Laden had provided quite a number of his very own broadcasts and videos. I was again impressed by the way that Chávez rejected this proffered lucid-interval lifeline. All of this so-called evidence, too, was a mere product of imperialist television. After all, "there is film of the Americans landing on the moon," he scoffed. "Does that mean the moon shot really happened? In the film, the Yanqui flag is flying straight out. So, is there wind on the moon?" As Chávez beamed with triumph at this logic, an awkwardness descended on my comrades, and on the conversation.

Chávez, in other words, is very close to the climactic moment when he will announce that he is a poached egg and that he requires a very large piece of buttered toast so that he can lie down and take a soothing nap. Even his macabre foraging in the coffin of Simón Bolívar was initially prompted by his theory that an autopsy would prove that The Liberator had been poisoned--most probably by dastardly Colombians. This would perhaps provide a posthumous license for Venezuela's continuing hospitality to the narco-criminal gang FARC, a cross-border activity that does little to foster regional brotherhood.

Actually, it sounds like Hitchens is very close to the climactic moment when he will announce that he is a baked cowflop, and that he needs another gin and tonic before he can pass the fuck out. This is really scraping around the barrel for evidence of nonexistent insanity on the part of Chavecito, and deserves no further dignification, other than to note that Hitchens really is a pathetic old drink-soaked twat who will stoop to anything, including willful misinterpretation, or even putting words in someone's mouth that he obviously never said. Projecting, are we?

Many people laughed when Chávez appeared at the podium of the United Nations in September 2006 and declared that he smelled sulfur from the devil himself because of the presence of George W. Bush. But the evidence is that he does have an idiotic weakness for spells and incantations, as well as many of the symptoms of paranoia and megalomania. After the failure of Bolívar's attempted Gran Colombia federation--which briefly united Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and other nations--the U.S. minister in Bogotá, future president William Henry Harrison, said of him that "[u]nder the mask of patriotism and attachment to liberty, he has really been preparing the means of investing himself with arbitrary power." The first time was tragedy; this time is also tragedy but mixed with a strong element of farce.

No, Hitch, there is NO "evidence" that Chavecito has anything of the sort. I've been watching his broadcasts almost daily since well before he made that joke at the UN (and I have pictures of the laughing audience to prove that it WAS a joke, intended and received as such.) He is most emphatically NOT a mumbo-jumbo man. He is more lucid when out of coffee than you are when stone sober (which I'm guessing is not very often, by what you've written.)

But thanks, all the same, for including that bit by William Henry Harrison. It's proof of one thing that Chavecito, and every other leftist in Latin America, has long said: that the US is out to undermine them, and make sure that they never have true, full self-rule. Yes, the conspiracy against Latin America is that old. And no, its form hasn't changed a hair in 200 years. Bolívar may be a skeleton now, but the ghosts of the past are alive and well, and they are still chasing his successor to this day. Just remember how often a moan arises in Washington about the latest imaginary way in which Chávez is "investing himself with arbitrary power"--strangely, always involving a popular vote, which can always go against him (and on occasion, has done just that. In which case Washington gleefully rubbed its collective hands, predicting a downfall that never came. Venezuelan democracy is more resilient than that, and so is Chavecito's leadership.)

And if anyone is being a necromancer, it's Hitch, chasing the spirits in the bottle to persuade himself that he heard something he did not. I hope Sean Penn punches his lights out for this load of pseudo-intellectual drivel--assuming Hitch hasn't fallen face down in a puddle of his own piss already, mumbling something incoherent about voodoo and necrocracy and mausolocracy.

July 30, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: And the birthday boy is looking great

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Yep, it's Chavecito. And it's another of those "just because" pix--I posted it just because it's nice, and I like it.

July 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Chavecito...here's the oppos' present to you!

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"The tongue as temple of pleasure". I shit you not, that's what the headline says. Do you want to read the whole thing, in Spanish? Or shall I just spare you that unsafe-for-work stuff?

Yes, it's Chavecito's birthday today, and the laughs and hate from the oppo whore media just keep on rolling, no matter what day it is. From Venezuelan prog-blogger Okrim, who dug the above jewel out a few days ago, I bring you...convulsions:

The obsession many opponents have with President Chávez is endlessly amazing. If you comment on anything to do with international politics, they compare this event with Chávez, even a suicide attack in a country where the average escuálido has never heard anything from before (such as one in eastern Germany). If you talk about how bad the weather is, they think of Chávez, and how "bad" the entire country is. If you talk about your last vacation, they say they didn't enjoy theirs because of Chávez (even if they just got back from a Mediterranean cruise). But I confess I've never found such a twisted example of obsession than the one I'm about to share with you.

On the ground floor of my apartment building, I found several pages of El Nacional the other day, and idly picked one up to read it. The article was about sex, particularly cunnilingus, that is, oral sex performed on a woman. I read it unawares, thinking--oh, in vain--that I would find none of the classic dissociated editorial line of Miguel Henrique Otero. I was wrong. After a series of explanations of the sexual practice in question, in which the use of the tongue is indispensable, I found the following pearl of wisdom:

"True, there are those who use their tongues to insult, and talk a mile a minute in cadenas [televised presidential speeches, required by Venezuelan law to be broadcast on all channels] but the most privileged know that the tongue represents [...] an infallible instrument to offer and achieve pleasure."

WTF? What level of dissociated obsession must a person have when talking about sex in the context of televised speeches by President Chávez? You can be sure that the most Chavista woman in the world isn't thinking of Chávez when the topic of conversation is oral sex. So what strange psychological mechanism is at work in some opposition sexologist mentioning the president in an article on oral sex? Fixation? Obsession? Persecution mania? Common, garden-variety craziness? All of the above?

The strange thing is, this sort of conduct is common in many oppositionists in the most diverse circumstances. They live thinking of the President: on the way to work, at work, at lunch, on the way home, at home, alone, with family, on vacation, and probably--though it's difficult to prove--even in a coma.

I understand them at the bottom of it all, poor bastards. If I thought about the President in each and every instant of my life, at all occasions and moments, in the face of any comment or situation, the way they do, I would surely hate him too.

Translated, in its entirety, by Your Humble One.

Yow. I know Chavecito is a sexy stud (and so do lots of other women, believe you me), and that his mouth is undoubtedly his handsomest (and most active) feature, but this obsession of his enemies with his tongue is just killingly funny. Even in bed, they just can't get him out of their heads! What must their sex lives be like, I shudder to ask?

Okrim is right...I'm the most Chavista woman in my hometown, maybe in Canada, maybe even all of North America, and even I don't think about it that way, at least not by daylight.* Most of the time, when I think about Chavecito's mouth, I think what hilarious truths have come out of it. He has no qualms making fun of his enemies, or denouncing them either. And he does it with wit and comic flair, which is in itself very sexy. He's not afraid to get a little goofy; that's an appealing trait, and no doubt explains a lot of his common touch. He can get along with anyone, and he can make anyone laugh--except maybe those obsessive oppos, who all walk around looking like a chronic case of indigestion, and little wonder.

When I picture myself meeting him, I imagine we'd have a helluva good conversation, in which he ignores my stumbling Spanish and I politely correct his restaurant English (that's what I call it when someone speaks just enough of a language to be able to order a meal.) And of course, I imagine laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. Laughter is a great icebreaker. And it's also a great leveller. I certainly don't think of him as a tyrant; actually, I think of him as someone you could have a beer with, unlike Dubya (who is a dry drunk, and in any case, if you don't belong to his grandparents' country club, you will never have so much as a glass of Coke with him.)

Yeah, I guess you could say that's the secret of Chavecito's sexiness right there. Women actually LIKE him, as a person, because he likes them--and everyone else, too, unless they give him solid reasons not to. Like, say, Dubya and that failed coup eight years ago, for example.

Liking and likability are two things the oppos don't have much of, if they have them at all (I've never seen any evidence that they did); hence their constant exercising of the bile ducts. Even when the topic is tongue-sex technique, somehow they figure out a way to work their hateful obsession with a capable, likable leader in there! Clearly their mothers never taught them that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar and gall. That's why I doubt that even a clear, detailed explanation of how to go down on your lady is going to help them much. Either you have it, or you don't, but you can't pick it up from reading a trashy newspaper article. Technique is just no substitute for a certain je ne sais quoi, y'know?

So, Chavecito, happy birthday...I can't give you anything more than my warmest greetings, but that's okay. You already have everything you need anyway. And those who have too much of all the wrong things and too little of the good stuff, well...they'll just go on eternally hating your guts for it.

Poor devils.

*I will confess to having had the odd naughty dream about him, though. And Rafael Correa and Evo, too, although not all in one go. I'm not that greedy!

July 23, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Where the hell are Abkhazia and South Ossetia?

You'll probably need a map to find these two republics of the Russian Federation; I seem to recall them being in dispute when that Washington-backed freak from Georgia ate his tie...

Watch for the cravat-munch one minute in.

Whatever. Anyway, all you need to know is that Chavecito played host to their leaders this week at Miraflores...

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...in which trade agreements were inked, hands were shaken, and yadda yadda yadda.

Oh yeah, and how about the military honors?

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Jeez, between the all-red uniforms and the big hats, those Russkies must have felt right at home.

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.

July 13, 2010

Some people just deserve one another

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Hey, kiddies, have I got a story for YOU. Make sure you're sitting down for this one. And have a paper bag handy to breathe (or vomit, as the case may be) into...you're gonna need it!

On Monday, it transpired that journalist Patricia Poleo and student leader Nixon Moreno had decided to marry, after just nine months together. Something that could be called "love in exile" is the relationship between these two Venezuelans.

The event has taken the Venezuelan media community by surprise. It seems to be a fait accompli, and Poleo has moved to Peru, where the student leader is taking asylum, to speed up the wedding because "she wants to be married as soon as possible".

The plans of Poleo and Moreno were confirmed to Marianella Salazar on her radio show [audio in Spanish available at the link]. According to press reports, the couple will make their home in Miami.

Translation mine.

My, this is so SUDDEN! But isn't it sweet that these two exiled lovebirds found one another? Everybody, repeat after me: Awwwwwwwwwwwww!

Only, as you may have guessed, there's a rub to all this. Nixon Moreno isn't really a student leader. Patricia Poleo isn't really a journalist. And neither of them is really in exile. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself, so let's back up this truck a bit.

Nixon Moreno is a wanted man. In 2006, at a violent "demonstration" by oppos in the university town of Mérida, he assaulted a policewoman named Sofia Aguilar. He beat her up, ripped her clothes off, and held a gun on her. He no doubt meant to go further with this sexual assault, but was stopped in time. Rather than submitting to arrest, he fled, then hid out in the Apostolic Nunciature in Caracas. (Yes, that's right, the house of the Vatican's ambassador to Venezuela. They shield perverts under their frocks as a matter of almost routine.) While there, he finally received his political science degree; shucks, it only took him an extra decade of squatting, taking up spaces that could have been occupied by three or four more deserving students! Then, diploma in his fat little hands, he fucked off to Lima, Peru--which, after Miami and Bogotá, is the most fashionable hangout for the scum de la scum of Latin America. He is still a wanted man:

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"WANTED: for murder, sadism, and rape."

And no, he's not a "student leader", he's a GANG leader. Nixon Moreno is a plain old garden-variety thug.

Patricia Poleo is something else. Something even worse. The daughter of oppo newspaper owner Rafael Poleo, she is also wanted by the Venezuelan federales. For what? For a car bombing that killed Danilo Anderson, the hot-shot young prosecutor who just happened to be investigating the coup d'état of April 2002. Anderson was getting perilously close to finding out who ordered all those deaths, both Chavista and oppo, on April 11, when two groups of demonstrators came under fire from rooftop snipers, undercover sharpshooters, and opposition-controlled Metro Caracas police. And it most certainly wasn't the big guy in the red shirt, whom the oppos keep scapegoating for literally every bad thing that happens in Venezuela! So Danilo Anderson had to be stopped somehow, and in November of 2004, he was--with an earth-shaking kaboom that broke windows for blocks around. The investigation has been hobbled ever since. "La Papo", as she is also known, is believed to be one of the intellectual authors of that assassination. (Another media mogul of the opposition, Nelson Mezerhane of Globovisión, who was also a banker, is believed to be her accomplice. He, too, is a fugitive from justice--and recently got a little karmic justice when his bank, the Banco Federal, went under and was taken over by the government. The feds bailed out the depositors--this is how it's done, Your Barackness, take note--but you can bet "El Turquito" Mezerhane won't be so lucky when they finally get their mitts on HIM.)

La Papo has an interesting tendency to leave dead bodies behind wherever she goes. Just in April of this year, her ex-husband, Gastón Alfredo Rodríguez Delgado, was found dead in Apostaderos de Pampatar, on the resort island of Margarita. The 54-year-old, who was the son of two well-known Venezuelan actors, was bound, gagged, and stabbed to death in an apparent home invasion. Just a random robbery gone wrong? Or a targeted killing? Given his past criminal career (he'd done time for various drug-trafficking-related offences in 1989), I'd say the latter.

So, it seems, La Papo, a criminal herself, has a taste for criminal hubbies. Which means that she and Nixon definitely deserve one another. Just like chocolate and peanut butter...if that is not too sweet an allusion for you. And if you should happen to chance upon them in Lima, whatever you do, do NOT approach them; they should be considered armed and dangerous, and turned in to the Venezuelan authorities, pronto.

July 4, 2010

South of Teh Stoopid: or, who reviews the reviewers?

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Okay. I have a confession to make: I haven't seen Oliver Stone's latest film yet. Or at least, not the whole thing. I've only seen a few clips, presumably representative of the tone of the whole. What I have seen has me feeling very ambivalent: On the one hand, it's clear that he's one of the few US filmmakers willing to give Latin America a fair shake, and its progressive leaders some positive coverage. Which is good; we need more of that. And he seems genuinely concerned with getting to the truth. Which is also good--we REALLY need that. On the other, his rough-hewn style and his embarrassing inability to pronounce Chávez, even after he's spent so much time among people who can, just grate on my nerves. It's obvious that he's got a learning curve ahead of him there, still. Maybe it's too much to ask for smoothness from a filmmaker whose name is synonymous with sensation (remember JFK? Good movie; factually accurate and highly persuasive, but still...yow.)

But I think we can ask for much higher standards from the would-be critics, no? So, with that in mind, I've got about a dozen Google Alerts sitting untouched in my inbox. I've merely skimmed the contents, but dayum, they sure seem to be overflowing with bile and pus where Ollie Stone is concerned. How shall I handle them?

Shall I wax on about how some smirky, suit-clad amateur at The Examiner has decided, ahead of time, that SotB has "bombed in Venezuela"? It's only just come out, and already it's a flop. Wow, how quick was that? It should be noted that the suited smirker, one James Hirsen, doesn't offer the slightest proof that "Many of the theaters are reportedly empty. During the first twelve days of the movie's release, 'South of the Border' brought in only $18,601 on 20 screens, according to Global Rentrak. That's what Venezuelans refer to as La Bomba." Oh, cute. Next time, at least include a link, loser.

BTW, that meme seems to be a going theme in all the usual right-wing places. Hmmm, I wonder why.

But you know what makes me laugh? Hirsen, obviously a FUX Snoozer wannabe, gets in a swipe at MSNBC in the end. So, what does NBC have to say about SotB? Well, they don't let ideology get in the way of their reporting, I'll give them that. They note that Chavecito is an Ollie fan (only now? I bet he saw JFK long ago!) and that never once did Stone not feel safe in any of the progressive LatAm countries he visited, nor anything less than welcome, even if he IS a gringo who speaks Spanish poorly and says "Shah-VEZZ". This, I'm sure, must really have the "Venezuela is unsafe" crowd in a tizzy.

Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly is rather predictably patronizing with this short review, which gives the movie a B+ grade. Guess that deduction was for the "rose-colored agitprop", which I can assure you (having watched more than my share of Venezuelan news programming) is actually truth, not "agitprop". It does make some attempt at fairness, though, in noting that Stone is "onto something larger than the cult of personality." I should say he is--Chavecito's election in '98 paved the way for leftists (and other progressive types) in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Honduras. The Right is on the run. That's not something that mere personality alone can accomplish, as all these leaders have their own individual styles. And if Ollie Stone has caught "a current of history", then he has done his job well.

The "agitprop" meme can also be seen at hyper-capitalistic Forbes, where Tim Ferguson thinks this is all some kind of lefty plot to "humanize" Chavecito. As though the man were somehow a demon. Ferguson, too, waxes patronizing, preferring to look at the movie through his own accustomed distortive lenses. The man is an idiot, but he's no doubt useful to the corporatist bosses. That's why he dutifully describes the 'Cito as "hostile" and "a dictator", while praising the weak left in Chile as "democratic" (because it didn't say boo to the IMF, no doubt) and pooh-poohs the thirteen electoral tests that Chavecito and his supporters in the PSUV and other Venezuelan left parties have successfully stood since 1998. It's not a film review; it's capitalist agitprop. I guess asking a Forbes "journalist" to leave his ideology at the door is like asking a sewage lagoon to stop stinking. You can do so till you're blue in the face, but it just ain't gonna happen.

And speaking of stinking that ain't gonna stop, how about Stephen Whitty of the New Jersey Star-Ledger? I'm sure it hasn't escaped your notice that his surname is just one slip of the keyboard from "Shitty". His entire review, however, requires no slippage. It's all the way into the ol' cesspit, baby.

By now, I bet you're wondering what the Wall Street Urinal--sorry, JOURNAL--has to say. I do too, but judging from the headers on the excerpt, I'd say it's not worth subscribing or paying for. As it stands, you can find this same feces-fingerpainting objet d'art, obligingly copied out for you at no extra charge, by those "media" wannabes who just can't get the fuck out of their goddamn jimmyjams. Somehow, that just seems so appropriate. Turns out that this sucky old would-be Ebert, Ron Radosh, has decided to position himself as a critic of the critics, and he criticizes them all for not being critical enough (of Stone? or Chavecito? take yer pick). Well, doesn't that just make ME feel so...so...so meta?

Meanwhile, there's another shitty little right-wing blog posing as a news site that quotes, of all things, the Socialist International to make its fallacious point that Chavecito is a dictator, and Ollie a useful idiot. This is a laugh, as there IS no Socialist International at the moment to speak of. The Fourth fell apart like rotten Roquefort some time ago, and Chavecito only recently raised the possibility of convening a Fifth. That thing calling itself the SI is, in fact, nothing but a bunch of neoliberal corruptos. (And for those who know Spanish, I highly recommend this video. Alberto Nolia nails their crooked little Adeco nuts to the wall.) How lame--and how funny is it that a right-wing site is using a bunch of capitalists calling themselves the Socialist International...to try to discredit socialism?

Meanwhile, PopMatters.com tries very hard not to whine, and doesn't quite succeed. Care for some cheese with that? Oh wait, you included it, too: "It's surely helpful to see Chávez and his peers outside of their usual derisive media frames. But this is, after all, another frame, another stage, and another show." And this corporate website posing as a blog isn't? Feh.

And speaking of cheese to go with that whine, take your pick as to which is which between the so-called NewsBusters (which busts nothing) and the very ironically named Big Hollywood (which is not big, and is dedicated exclusively to kvetching about the imaginarily liberal Hollywood). Both come off as alternately whiny and cheesy, so there's no doubt something there for every right-wing ideological carper to nurse his antisocial grudges till they're nice and fat. Like, oh, say, Brent Bozell's ass. Or Andrew Breitbart's.

And oh look! Ollie's supposedly "feuding" with "film critic" Larry Rohter. When did Larry Rohter become a film critic? I thought he was one of the Old Grey Whore's two resident LatAm bovine-feces generators (the other one being Simon Romero, whose bons mots on the oeuvre of Ollie Stone I have yet to see.)

And speaking of dreck-writers named Romero, who is this Dennis chap? Sure sounds like a relative of Simon. Smells like it, too.

Well. After all that sulfur, how about a little palate-cleansing sorbet? A former screenwriter for Ollie Stone, who could well be credited with opening the auteur's eyes to the situation in Latin America, has actually provided a reasonably nuanced, unbiased review. And just for good measure, here's another, from someone who actually DOES movie journalism for a living. Hallelujah!

On to the next course. But does anyone really care what Maria Conchita Alonso "thinks"? Last time I saw her, she had a bad facelift (and an ugly boob job), and was trying to revive her career by showing off her denuded nether regions. Clearly none of that worked, so now she's back to spitting venom. Maybe Ollie will take pity on her, and make his next documentary a nature film...on poisonous snakes from Cuba Venezuela. Then Coochita will finally get that elusive starring role she dreams of. Yippee!

WTF is the matter with Alternet? Nik Kozloff is NOT an unbiased reporter either--he strives for "balance" by "balancing" facts with spurious shit that smells suspiciously like hit-piece. I've had my issues with his crap in the past, and I continue to have them--he seems keener on appeasing the powers-that-be than challenging them, and that's NOT balanced.

And finally, I was going to do this stoopid Turan SOB, but you know what? Otto beat me to it. And I'm glad that he has. Read him and laugh. And then, for more laughs, read the good guys at Structurally Maladjusted, too.

And when you're ready to get serious, there's this piece, vital to understanding what all the fake film-crit is really all about.

June 25, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: To hell with the G-20...

...give me the ALBA (which is also holding a summit right now!), if only so I can enjoy the view:

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Because honestly, what looks better than El Ecuadorable, Evo and Chavecito, all putting their handsome heads together and coming up with WAY more useful ideas than the clown-car pile-up that's taking over Toronto as we speak?

June 16, 2010

Chavecito bests a Beeber

Stephen Sackur of the BBC asks some stupid questions, gets some unexpected answers...and his pompous ass handed very nicely back to him on a silver platter by the president of Venezuela.

Note Sackur's trotting out of every single stupid anglo media meme, as promoted by the international right-wing. Chavecito gets back at him subtly, by calling him tu, like a kid, instead of the more formal, respectful usted. And Sackur has it coming; his questions really are idiotic. He actually dares to ask if socialism can really be democratic. Has he ever asked if capitalists are or can be democratic? Has he gone looking for traces of democracy in any major corporation, or even minor ones? If so, he'd be appalled at the realization that they are none of them, by definition, democracies--all are petty fiefdoms and/or oligarchies, if not outright dictatorships. (Holding stock in any corporation is not a "one man, one vote" thing--it's a "man with most stock, gets most votes" thing.) Nope, it's safe to say he hasn't peeped at the underbelly of "democratic" capitalism. He is, after all, a corporate yes-man himself. Only Chavecito is too polite to turn the question around and tell him so.

Especially funny is the question about the corrupt Raúl Baduel, who is in jail right now for a multimillion-dollar fraud. If you visited here often, you would know all about him already, and also his sudden wealth and his insta-ranch, and how he only jumped the fence to the opposition right before his scam hit the fan. Suffice to say that Baduel only became an oppo when he started making his ill-gotten boodle like an oppo, instead of being content with his healthy salary as a general and Venezuela's defence minister. Baduel felt it better to betray his old friend than give up a quick and easy cash infusion from the nation's enemy. Sackur, obviously, doesn't get out enough. (Chavecito should have asked him if he'd heard about Pa'Julio Rivas, and the "democratic" youth group JAVU, with its obvious anti-government violence and terrorism. That would have been a hoot.)

Sackur sounds plummy and literate, though he's no more so than your average anglo media whore when it comes to Venezuela; hence the trotting-out of the tired old same-old-same-old. He's got nothing better, and certainly nothing new. But he had the hilarious temerity to make out that HE had the upper hand here. Even when Chavecito laughs at him, he thinks he's the smart one. All he can do is change tack. And even that doesn't help him; Chavecito comes back with concrete proof that he's wrong on every front. And in the end, it's Chavecito's sincerity and genuineness that come across, in spite of all the mud-flinging from the corporate news flunky, who was obviously sent to put him on the spot, and ended up in a muddle himself. Very, very sad Sackur.

May 28, 2010

BP, learn from Venezuela!

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This is how you run an oil company responsibly, people...

The US subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), CITGO, has received seven awards for its contributions in safety and environmental protection from the National Association of Petrochemical Refiners at its national conference.

"These awards demonstrate once more our commitment to industrial safety and environmental leadership, in line with the principles of PDVSA, the state oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which promotes environmental protection and is improving the quality of life for communities, said CITGO president Alejandro Granado.

The PDVSA subsidiary received, among other awards, two for safety, recognizing its facilities for operating a million or more hours without any lost workdays or serious worker accidents during 2009.

CITGO refineries operate in Lake Charles, Louisiana; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Lemont, Illinois. They refine 749,000 barrels of crude per day.

Translation mine.

Granted this is just refineries. But it's part of PDVSA's across-the-board commitment: people and environment first, profits later. (And they're not doing at all shabbily in that latter department, either. No oil company is.)

Guess all the CITGO boycotters should be feeling good and foolish right about now, seeing their crapitalist darlings imploding all around them while Venezuela and its state company go right on thriving...AND winning awards, too.

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?

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(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:

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And El Narco:

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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.

May 25, 2010

This just in...hot off the tweeter...pttttttteeeep eep eep...

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Chavecito has a blog coming out, starting today. Here's the link. Everybody update your blogrolls!

May 22, 2010

How the anglo whore media made a smart kid stupid

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Okay. I don't like to pick on kids, because I was bullied myself as a kid. So I'm gonna try hard not to do it here. But one of the things I learned as a bullied kid is that you have to call people out sometimes. It's the only way to make the abuse stop. So when I see things like this, I really can't let the bullshit pass without calling it by its right name. And I don't care if the bullshitter, Sami Kent, is only 19 years old. He was smarter when he was younger, believe it or not:

I was about 13 when I saw the documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and I was utterly taken in. Venezuela's charismatic indigenous leader had been overthrown by powerful vested interests, but came back to power improbably on the strength of his popular support.

For someone who had grown up in Britain during the Blair years, where there was an overwhelming centrist consensus among the parties, the strength of Hugo Chávez's socialist conviction was appealing. As British politicians sought ever-closer ties with the US, Chávez condemned the war in Afghanistan, saying "no se puede luchar contra ningún terror con terror" - you cannot fight terror with terror.

That's about the extent to which he's not messed up. Things degenerate shortly thereafter...

I started to read extensively about the Bolivarian revolution, which seemed to perfectly mix socialism with liberal democracy. This view may seem naive, but I would point to the dramatic increase in literacy, the reduction of poverty, the widespread use of referenda and a new constitution that protected the rights of Venezuela's indigenous communities. I was, however, blind to the creeping authoritarianism of the Venezuelan government.

That's because there wasn't any, Sami. There still isn't any. And to know it for certain, you'd only have to understand a bit more Spanish, and take a look around the Venezuelan blogosphere, where the atmosphere is vibrant and, at least among progressives, anything but oppressive. (The opposition is another story, and a very scary one.)

Of course, if you knew much Spanish and read the Venezuelan blogs, you'd be a lot less naive (good choice of words!), and less given to the kind of wafflings you just put painfully down on the electronic page. But do go on, let's hear what got you so worked up later on, when you were older and presumably "wiser":

When Chávez refused to renew the licence for RCTV in 2006 I felt that I had lost a hero. I had printed his face on a T-shirt, which I have not worn since that day. It was not the dictatorial move as depicted in some of the media, but for me the purity of the revolution had been lost. After that, I have felt increasingly alienated from a political movement and a president I had once adored. Now I cringe when I see him describing Robert Mugabe and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as brothers, or comparing Angela Merkel to Adolf Hitler.

Aha. I see what you did there, Sami--you believed what your own whore media told you. I hope you're reading this; you can learn a lot from it. Sit down first, though, because what I'm going to say will shock you.

First off, Chávez had nothing to do with the licence renewal of RCTV at all. He doesn't run CONATEL, the government body that oversees television licencing in Venezuela; it is independent of the office of the presidency. So Chávez did not "refuse to renew" anything. CONATEL did. And given that RCTV, which actively fomented the coup against an elected president, was for many years in violation of Venezuela's organic media laws (including ones that were on the books for decades before Chávez came to power!), the non-renewal of the station's over-the-air licence was a no-brainer. So Sami's complaint about the loss of the "purity of the revolution" comes off as more than a little silly. A more reliable analysis of the situation is available here; read it and learn, Sami!

As for the Mugabe and Ahmadinejad stuff, let's get serious; the whore media have dwelt long enough on the fucking ridiculous, and it's obvious that all Sami "knows" about these two scary monsters, he "knows" only from the presstitutes. And they know nothing. Their job is to make sure we know nothing, too. So here's what Sami should know, but doesn't:

Before Zimbabwe left the British Empire, it was practically the exclusive property of one very rich, very racist Englishman, Cecil Rhodes. All its current troubles can be traced to its time as a British colony, where whites owned land and blacks owned nothing; a time of virtual slavery. Mugabe, at least in the beginning, held out hope for progressives the world over that there would be a reversal of that old injustice. He has since become a disappointment, to say the least. But he's not the disease; he's merely one of its more egregious symptoms. I don't suppose Sami knows nearly as much about his country's colonial-imperialist past as he should, but there it is. When Chávez calls Mugabe brother, he's not condoning, supporting or endorsing Mugabe's bad behavior; he's simply recognizing that someone besides himself is struggling to throw off the colonial-imperial-capitalist yoke. Someone who, like himself, is not a white man.

Ahmadinejad, too, is overblown as a threat, and again, I suspect Sami doesn't know the real reason why he's being made into such a bête noire. Surprise! Iran, too, was once a British colony. Back then, they called it Persia. British Petroleum practically owned the country. But the Iranians fought back, drove the British colonists out, overthrew their satraps, and elected a man who was their own Chávez--Mohammed Mossadegh, a secular, liberal democrat. Mossadegh was popular, not least because he was in favor of Iran controlling its own oil. And he was well under way to making certain that it did. The Brits didn't like that one bit. So they complained to Washington and got the CIA to take back Iran for BP. The CIA installed the Shah, a brutal puppet dictator with a nasty secret police force, the SAVAK, who helped enforce his iron-fisted rule. Murder, torture and permanent disappearance were the order of the day for anyone who defied the Shah; to outward appearances, however, Iran was modern and westernized, so that little flaw was overlooked. That is, until a broad coalition of leftists and religious revolutionaries overthrew the Shah. He died in exile, the leftists were soon edged out, and Iran became the strange theocracy it is today--a theocracy with a veneer of republican democracy. The president of Iran is elected, but the real rulers, the mullahs and ayatollahs, are not. It is they, not little pipsqueaky, mouthy Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who should be feared and reviled.

And, for whatever this was worth, Ahmadinejad has been misquoted. Very deliberately so, and for propagandistic reasons--to drum up support for a war against Iran, as was done to neighboring Iraq. To understand this, however, demands that you read Juan Cole, who is familiar with Middle Eastern politics and history in ways you and I can only wish we were. But once you do understand this, you can see, again, why Chávez would call him "brother"--like Mossadegh in one way, if no other, Ahmadinejad seems bound and determined not to let foreign oil interests eat up Iran ever again. In Venezuela, it is the same with Chávez!

Back to Sami, and more sad evidence of how completely he has drunk the Kool-Aid:

Last year I went to a conference on Venezuela's progress after 10 years of revolution, shocked to hear speaker after speaker ignore his treatment of opposition, his expulsion of human rights activists (fittingly, for claiming the country was slipping towards totalitarianism), or his temporary defence of a drug-dealing and murderous Farc.

Um, Chávez didn't "defend" the "drug dealing and murderous" FARC; he simply recognized them as guerrillas in a political struggle, which they ARE. (One of their own prior hostages says the same thing.) And he interceded with them to release some hostages, which they did...in deference to him, out of respect for his Bolivarianism--a philosophy they share, though he openly and repeatedly insists he disagrees with their methods. And indeed, he doesn't USE their methods, so we can safely take his word for that.

Let's not forget, either, that Chávez used to be an army officer. His troops were in charge of patrolling the western border regions in the state of Apure, making sure Colombian guerrillas didn't get into Venezuela or make political messes there. He had ample opportunity to find out, firsthand, that his government was setting him and his men against a leftist menace which, while real, paled in comparison to that of the right-wing Colombian army and its gringo backers--who are making at least as much trouble for him today, if not more! Worse, Colombia now has right-wing paramilitaries, whose job seems to be to augment and take flak for the army. They have infiltrated every level of government, and they are the real murderous drug-dealers of Colombia. They, too, are constantly spilling over the border into Venezuela, where they wreak havoc in the border states and serve as mercenaries to wealthy opposition politicians and land-owners. They have been caught in active campaigns to overthrow Chávez. The media, however, prefer to squawk only about the FARC, because those guys are actively opposed to the US's toy governments. Colombia is widely made out to be a democracy, but it has not been since Jorge Eliecer Gaitán was assassinated in 1948. All the leftist parties of Colombia have been decimated and intimidated into uselessness. It is as much a puppet dictatorship today as Iran was under the Shah. The only thing that really changes in Colombia is the face of the puppet at the head of the conga line!

Sami is only 19 and obviously hasn't done very much reading, or he would have known about all that, and particularly Chávez's time as Venezuela's border cop. I recommend Richard Gott; he wrote the book on Chávez, quite literally, before anyone else could. Read him, Sami, and don't write another word about Venezuela until you're done!

As for the "human rights activists", those were right-wingers using the false front of human rights to conceal their real purpose: to drum up propaganda, portraying Chávez as...

...wait for it...

...A DICTATOR!!! OH NOES!!!1111athousandeleventyone!!! Let's declare war on Venezuela! YeeHAW!!!

But hold on. José Miguel Vivanco is from Chile, and is known to be an apologist for a real dictator and human-rights abuser--none other than Augusto Pinochet. Chávez was within his rights to expel that odious little worm. Human Rights Watch has really compromised its own credibility by hiring the likes of him, and as long as it stands by such choices, it is discredited as a human-rights observer and has no business criticizing anyone anywhere in Latin America.

Compare Pinochet's very real abuses--strikingly similar to those of the Shah of Iran--with the alleged ones of Chávez. Where are the secret detention camps? Where are the soccer stadiums converted to human holding tanks, centres for torture and summary execution? Where is the hand of Opus Dei in Venezuela? Not with Chávez or his PSUV government, that's for damn sure. If it lies anywhere, it lies with his predecessors, who are now the opposition. They are the ones who set up death camps in large fincas on the plains, with stalls too small for horses, but just barely wide enough to hold a man. They are the ones responsible for the death of leftist professor Alberto Lovera, who was found washed up on a beach with manacles and chains from a dungeon still around his death-bloated ankles. They are the ones responsible for the massacres of Cantaura and Yumaré, as well as the Caracazo. Massacres which Sami has obviously never heard of. Else he wouldn't write drivel like this:

Chávez has never been an intellectual or a democrat; he is primarily a soldier. He has shown himself to be extremely aggressive in his confrontation with Colombia, almost bringing the two countries to war. I don't want to sound patronising or bourgeois, but I have come to conclude that a significant shortcoming of the Bolivarian revolution was its lack of intellectual movement - it was based on a military man's charisma and his vague notions of imperialism, rather than a clear philosophy.

It is hard to accept that something you once loved, and something that other people once loved, is no longer a popular idea. My interest in South America recently took me to Chile where I watched several presidential election debates - the candidates were asked which leader in South America they thought had done the worst job and there was almost unanimous agreement that it was Chávez.

Well, duh--that's because Chile hasn't yet shed the vestiges of Pinochetism. It is a broken country, politically and economically, where even the Socialists really aren't socialists. And Chile's political situation has gone from stagnant to downright brackish. Everyone in the political class there is either fascist, fascist-lite, or a doormat. So of course you'll get a meaningless consensus like that there. It's why they sent an outright Pinochetist to work for Human Rights Watch, making a joke of the whole thing. It's also why there are an awful lot of discontented Chileans who admire Chávez...and who are still currently shut out of the race for power. But they haven't forgotten Salvador Allende, and they appreciate the big man in Venezuela who hasn't forgotten him, either. It's only a matter of time before the old embers flare up again down there; I suspect it will all depend on how badly Sebastián Piñera fucks Chile up. And fuck it up he will--depend on it.

As for the "confrontation with Colombia", it's instructive to remember who started it. Colombia did--by bombing Ecuador. Out of solidarity, as well as out of a well-schooled recognition that Venezuela was probably the next target for a Colombian military assault, Chávez closed the borders and sent the army out to secure them. And let's not forget those seven gringo military bases; Chavecito certainly hasn't. But Sami forgets this entirely, and chooses instead to lay the blame on the media's chosen scapegoat.

Most insulting of all is the notion that Bolivarianism has lost popularity. With whom? Sami? He's a Brit; he doesn't count. In Venezuela, it's deepening, and Chávez is now actually more popular, not less, than when he was first elected. His approval rating is now 65%, up from the 58% of the vote that first elected him. Moving further to the left has made him more popular, and it hasn't alienated anyone except for some coattail-riders from the professional political class whom he was better off without. They've basically jumped the fence into oblivion; good fucking riddance.

But "not an intellectual or a democrat"? What kind of bourgeois elitist twaddle is that, Sami? And what does his being a soldier have to do with that? He's the son of two schoolteachers; he is university-educated with two master's degrees (earned when he was in military officers' school!); he's up on history to an extent that shames most professors. He is himself a poet and an artist. If that's "not an intellectual", then what is? Do only doctorates from the Ivy League or Oxbridge count? Does one have to squat in a corporate-funded "institute" to be one, pray? Or does one just have to be white like you?

And "not a democrat"? Bullshit! Everything Chávez has done, in terms of laws and the constitution, has been put to a popular vote. If that's undemocratic, I'll eat my entire vast and funky collection of hats. Even his right to be re-elected was decided by the people of Venezuela, and when the Yes side passed, there was celebration in the streets.

Okay, gentle readers. Get ready. Here comes the final gulp of toxic Kool-Aid:

The Bolivarian revolution has a legacy that leaders actively seek to avoid. It is an especially galling process for someone who believes in the compatibility of democracy and socialism. In fact, when Chávez started to talk about his socialist project in Venezuela, opposed to an anti-imperialist one, he lost his first referendum ever in December 2007. I had misinterpreted Chávez's early support: it had always been nationalist and not socialist.

Now, at the not-very-ripe age of 19, I find my increasing disillusionment with the revolution has had more impact on my personal political development than anything else. I still cling to the hope that in 2013, defeated in an election, he will leave peacefully. History, I feel, would then judge him well, and my early praise of him would have been justified.

I am aware that this process, from idealism to cynicism, is one that many go through in their lives. It is a painful but necessary step to recognise and criticise the faults of our former heroes. I feel it is a journey I have not yet completed. I am still an idealist, I will just need to relearn my lesson to put faith in principles rather than politicians.

And now, the antidote.

Sami claims he's still an idealist. That's the biggest horse-apple of all in this pile. He's a cynic posturing as an idealist, and the sad thing is, he got that way by letting bigger cynics lead him around by the end of his teenage nose. He had it right in the first place, but he got swayed by one willful misinterpretation after another, to the point where he became weak and caved in. He is now a perfect useful idiot--an alienated pretend-leftist parroting the neo-con line--and it's sad as hell to see, especially in one so young.

But at the same time, it's not so surprising that he turned out that way. I know that process all too well, having escaped from it myself.

Maybe it's the fact that I came at all this from the opposite side that enables me to see it; maybe because I'm more than twice Sami's age. Maybe it's both of those and a whole lot of other things besides. But I was an idealist who didn't know it at 19. The side of me that cared and wanted to change the world was there, but it was dormant, stifled by what I kept hearing--that it was useless even to try. I was misled by media and my adult life has been largely an exercise in onion-peeling as a result. I was a conservative kid stuck in the cynical pose, mainly because I didn't know what else to be. And mainly because the mainstream of the media up here in Canada is that way, believe it or not! In my teens, it was the "there is no alternative" conservatwaddle of Thatcher and Reagan that held sway, and the media fed it all to us with very little if any critical examination. Had I not gone to university at that age, and become acquainted with a much wider range of viewpoints (some of them--gasp--socialist!), I might never have questioned the incessant barrage of false messages I got as I was growing up. I would not have realized that there IS an alternative, and it is us. I would not have embarked on political activism, working to change the bad laws and stagnant social mores that we were told were here to stay. And I certainly would not have seen the positive social changes that have come as a result of people working in concert to make the world better.

And I too might have become, and remained, as Sami Kent is right now. The fact that I did not, is something I owe squarely to alternative, independent media. I first became acquainted with indie newspapers at university; I wound up writing, irregularly, for a couple of them myself during that time. It was a beginning, but it was only a beginning. Not until I began reading alternative news on the 'net did I finally realize just how much and how badly we are being lied to.

And the story that brought it all to a head for me...was that of Hugo Chávez. It became impossible to believe anything the anglo mainstream sources wrote about him; at best it was only half true, and a half truth is as bad as flat-out lie. And what made the lie obvious to me is the very story that Sami Kent first adored and then forgot--this one right here:

It was the people who put Chávez in the presidency, and the people who brought him back. It is the people who are keeping him there right now; it is the people to whom he answers. If that is not the perfect example of socialist democracy at work, I don't know what is.

No, Sami, Hugo Chávez did not break your heart. The anglo whore media did. Isn't it time you took it back from them?

May 21, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: It's now official...

A little birdie has informed me that Chavecito's follower count...

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...has now surpassed:

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And that's not all! He's also beaten this guy:

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...who, you may recall, once wore a certain shirt.

Who sucks now, eh? Suck THAT, Alejandro.

May 15, 2010

Chavecito meets oppo governors

Just tweeted in by Luigino Bracci, the popular Venezuelan journo-blogger, this linky. Guess what I found when I clicked on it?

Yep...a whole lot of pics of Chavecito smiling and shaking hands with...the OPPOSITION. Doesn't he look scary and dictatorial? And don't they look threatened?

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Yep, they're just all wetting their pants.

According to the report, Henry Falcón, who "jumped the fence" recently (from supporting Chavecito to opposing him) "did not go near the group".

Meanwhile, Luigino tweets:

Que bolas, @hcapriles también me bloqueó! Y cómo le haré llegar mis quejas y reclamos como habitante del estado Miranda?

Translation: What balls, Henrique Capriles just blocked me, too! Now how will I make complaints as a resident of the state of Miranda?

Ha ha. I guess Capriles (he's the one in the flag jacket) isn't up on this whole responsive-politics thing. Meanwhile, the 'Cito most certainly IS:

Merida, May 10th, 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - In response to the huge amount of messages the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has been receiving via his twitter account, he has announced a special mission to be able to respond to them all.

On Friday Chavez announced the creation of the social mission "ChavezCandanga", named after his twitter account, and on Saturday he announced the creation of a special fund for the mission, a fund which would be orientated towards "areas of priority like health or housing".

"Look at this, it's really like an avalanche, so I've decided to create Mission Chavez Candanga to attend to and provide responses to everyone", Chavez wrote on his twitter account, referring to the large number of requests he was receiving. The mission involves a team of 200 people to process the requests, denunciations, and other comments.

ABN reports that in just over a week the president received 54,000 messages, and the news site recounted a number of stories of people who had written to the president's twitter account and quickly been contacted and received a response and help.

Chavez reported that half the "tweets" he received were messages of support, 18.4% were "unfavourable" messages, 13.2% were requests for help, and 9.98% were denunciations of problems. He receives a lot of requests for help related to health, work and study, and even people reporting holes in roads.

Such is life for the most popular tweeter in Venezuela. Maybe that's why Henrique "Commie Shirt" Capriles will never become president...or any of those other oppos, either. They're too busy trying to figure out new ways to wall themselves off from the citizenry and go on conducting old-style politics.

I don't expect to hear anything from the anglo whore media about how they're full of fresh new ideas and enthusiasm; only more monkey-screech about how Chavecito's "Misson Chávez Candanga" is somehow going to do away with Venezuelan democracy altogether.

As though it actually existed before he came along. And as though these old holdovers from that era knew what it was.

Or these silly anglo media whores either, for that matter.

May 7, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito Tweeto

The Venezuelan tweeterverse was very boring...until along came a big red bird in a beret, who now has more followers than any other local personality on the tweeter:

A little TV spot from Venezuela. Enjoy.

PS, circa 10:05 pm: Here's how Chavecito's tweeter currently stands, one week in...

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An avalanche? Yeah, that's about right.

May 4, 2010

Oh, Cato Institute...look at your golden boy now!

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Poor, poor widdle Yon-Yon...he's out of a party and a job:

The directorate of the Primero Justicia party decided to expel Yon Goicoechea from the party, a source linked to the opposition revealed to Panorama last weekend.

"Yon took an advance position on his candidacy, which didn't sit well with the party. For example, he would say he 'wouldn't accept consolation prizes' when he talked of running for a seat in the Latin American Parliament," said the source.

The aspiration of the ex-student leader was to run for the congressional district of Altos Mirandinos, where, he said, "The polls are calling me the winner."

As part of the negotiations for the candidates of consensus, the parties of the "Unity Table" decided that Alfonso Marquina would run for that seat.

The source also revealed that Goicoechea's televised speech of the past week was "the straw that broke the camel's back". In it, Goicoechea was very critical of the consensus candidates, and said, "There are candidates of the opposition for whom I would not have voted."

Afterwards, he asked the "Unity Table" to make "more sacrifices", and aligned himself with a governor, Enrique Capriles, who showed himself to be in favor of primaries for the selection of candidates.

Goicoechea joined Primero Justicia in 2008, after leaving the ranks of the student opposition.

Translation mine.

This article is as revealing about the undemocratic (and oftentimes, overtly antidemocratic) nature of the Venezuelan opposition as it is about Yon-Yon and his puffed-up ego. The so-called "Mesa de la Unidad" (which I translated as "Unity Table"), a conglomeration of all the parties that oppose Chavecito and his PSUV, can't even decide whether to hold primaries or not, and in many cases, it didn't bother. It just hand-picked the candidates by "consensus" (of whom? reached how? Nobody seems able to say.) And one of the much-trumpeted and -ballyhooed candidates who lost out in the arcane and ricky-tricky selection process...was the Cato Institute's golden boy of democracy!

Is this the same Yon-Yon who won the Milton Friedman Prize? Why yes, it is. And this is how they treat him. This was Yankee capitalism's great white(-handed) hope, and instead, it's yet another blown investment. Half a million gringo dollars down the toilet.

Sob. Sniffle. Boohoohoo.

I'm really trying hard to squeeze out a few crocodile tears for all of them here, but I just can't seem to. That's because I had his number from way back. Only now, somebody--his own party--actually called it. A little late, but still.

My heart bleeds...no, really...bwahahahahahaha.

April 30, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging Too: Cartoon of the day

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"Monsters and monsterettes, time to vote!"

Chavecito is now tweeting. From his Vergatario?

(Courtesy Aporrea.)

UPDATE: Yes, Chavecito has invited Evo and Fidel to come tweet with him. No word yet on whether they will.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito thanks his tweeps

And where better to do it than in his home town of Sabaneta, in his home state of Barinas, with his amigo Evo alongside as they inaugurated an education centre?

In just 48 hours, and with only two tweets to his "candanga" name as of the publication of that note, Chavecito had already racked up over 100,000 followers. Not too shabby. Better than that douchebag Juanes in a similar timespan, I'll bet.

And he's a lot less garrulous on the tweeter than Keith Olbermann snarked that he'd be, too.

PS: No, Evo's not on yet. I checked. There are about half a dozen payasos impersonating him, though. Can't find the real El Ec, either.

April 29, 2010

ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG!!!

Eva Golinger has just informed the Facebookers that Chavecito is now on the tweeter. His handle is @chavezcandanga.

Now I'm gonna have to sign up for yet another social-networking time-suck (sigh, grrr), if only so I can figure out how many times I can write "te amo" in 140 characters.

Life's a beeyotch.

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UPDATE: I'm now (reluctantly) on the tweeter. Look over to the right-hand side, you should see me. Feel free to start twitting. (SIGH)

April 24, 2010

Don't be too surprised...

...if someone in Europe tries to blame the volcanic ash problem on a scapegoat who couldn't possibly have done it:

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"How much longer is Chávez going to screw us?"

(In all seriousness, some people really ARE stupid enough to suggest things like this.)

April 23, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: So much hottitude, all in one week

First up, we have Chavecito in a spiff-tacular new uniform, waving to the crowds:

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I'm told this has something to do with some holiday or other that Venezuela celebrated this past week.

And then, there was this little shindig in Cochabamba, hosted by Evo:

...something to do with climate change.

And if that's not enough leftist hottitude for you, and you've got some time to spare and can understand Spanish, click here and see someone downright Ecuadorable being interviewed by VTV reporters on Contragolpe. He's in town for some ALBA summit or other.

April 19, 2010

Memo to the Miami media: Can you PLEASE, just for once, NOT drag Chavecito into everything?

Like, for example, this horrid headline of yours:

"Hugo Chavez-Loving Boxer Edwin Valero Kills Wife, Hangs Himself in Jail"

There is so much wrong with this picture, and no, I'm not talking about the late El Inca's chest tattoo. You could have made the headline simpler and more accurate at the same time by shortening it down to "Boxer Edwin Valero Kills Wife, Hangs Himself in Jail". His support for his president (who, need I remind you, is democratically elected, and exceptionally peaceful) has nothing to do with this tragedy at all. And to throw that in the headline there, as you Miami New Times twits irresponsibly did, is to suggest erroneously that his politics are the root cause of violent crime.

So. If Edwin Valero's politics aren't the cause of his violent behavior and precipitous jailhouse suicide, what is? Well, here's something that might offer some clues. Watch the video. It's about a pro wrestler named Chris Benoit, who sustained numerous concussions (and brain damage) as a result of head-hits in the ring. Like Valero, he suffered a drastic change in personality, which led to problems with addiction. He became increasingly violent and erratic. His condition deteriorated rapidly, literally within months. And in the end, he wound up killing his wife and disabled son before taking his own life.

Brain damage (there's even a medical term for this specific type) was found to be the likeliest cause of all the violence and tragedy that ended Chris Benoit's career and life. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Edwin Valero's case panned out the same. Both men made a professional career out of hitting and being hit. And hits to the head are common in both sports, as are head injuries and even fatalities. I'm old enough to remember what happened to Korean boxer Duk Koo Kim:

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Duk Koo Kim, KO'd by Ray "Boom-Boom" Mancini, 1982. Kim died of brain injuries four days later.

But somehow, I never hear anyone mentioning Chris Benoit's politics. Or Duk Koo Kim's. So why pick on Edwin Valero? Just because of a flag tattoo with a president's face?

The anti-Chavista media really have lost their fucking marbles. Way to discredit yourselves, guys. And way to make cheap points on a tragedy which is athletic and personal, not political. Have you no shame?

April 16, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Wielding the Sword of Bolívar

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Srsly, doesn't Chavecito do it awfully well?

If you're wondering what the occasion was, here ya go. Enjoy!

April 12, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Venezuela Electric

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Ms. Manx has three interesting linkies for y'all...all about Venezuela and how it plans to deal with its electrical needs, both present and future. And one dumb-as-fuck one, just for "fairness" and "balance".

First up, Chavecito has extended the current state of emergency and rationing for another 60 days, while the country waits for the summer rainy season to start and fill up the Guri Dam reservoir. The Guri is responsible for at least 70% of the country's total needs, so it's vital to get that one up to scratch. The rains normally start in May. The reason for the extension? To make sure everything's fully recuperated. Meanwhile, the government has put $5 billion (US) into thermoelectric generation, with the intention that it account for half of all power generation in Venezuela in 5 years. Thermoelectric plants have already come online in several Venezuelan states, so that's good news.

And there's more good news, although it's for the longer term: By 2025, Venezuela is expected to draw at least 10% of its electricity from windpower. This would put it on a par with several European nations, most notably Germany.

And on a local level, solar energy generation is growing in the Andean regions of Venezuela, which are more difficult to connect to a conventional grid. And yes, there's a government program for that: "Sembrando Luz", or "Sowing Light" (a spinoff of the old slogan, "sembrar el petróleo", "to sow the oil"--meaning, the investment of oil revenues in public projects.)

Oh yeah, and Rory Carroll still haz Teh Stoopid. So what's new? If he ever manages to crawl out of those tony wine bars where he sups with the oppos, and gets it together long enough to write something intelligent, Ms. Manx will be truly surprised.

April 9, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito inaugurates another well

And this time, it's a gas well in the Gulf of Venezuela:

Another example of co-operation between the state petrochemical company, PDVSA, and foreign private industry. And they said it couldn't be done. Suck it, haters. Mixed-economy socialism at work, with no tyranny in sight. See what happens when companies learn to play nice, instead of getting all hoggy?

April 3, 2010

In midst of global sexual abuse crisis, Vatican covers up, scapegoats the innocent

That's what the headlines would read if mainstream anglo news services had any remaining commitment to accuracy. Instead, what we get is:

"Venezuela's Catholic Church says Chavez's Marxist politics threatening religion"

"Church: Marxism a threat to religion in Venezuela"

"Is Hugo Chavez the Kremlin's Useful Idiot?"

Okay, that last is dumbass "analysis" of the recent visit by Vladimir Putin, by a Brazil-based sportswriter who clearly knows nothing about international politics. But still, are we sensing a pattern here?

Yup, the old Red Scare soundtrack is playing once more on the Mighty Wurlitzer! The Cold War has been miraculously resurrected! Hallelujah!

And just in time for Holy Week, too, when the discredited Catholic hierarchy has its biggest opportunity to lure straying sheeple back into the fold and get them to revert to the old superstitions of praying for rain and blaming the leftist president for El Niño. No shit, that's what Cardinal Urosa is calling on Venezuelans to do. As if the people of Venezuela hadn't been watching the skies for months, hiring cloud-seeders, or listening to climatologists who know better than the church does as to what's what. And in a country where the overwhelming majority of electricity is generated by hydro (the Guri Dam alone provides a whopping 70% of the entire country's power), of course the seasonal rains are of paramount importance. (The fact that the much-maligned infrastructure, which generations of previous presidents failed a lot harder to invest in, worked better when there was no drought gets swept under the rug. It's much easier to blame Chavecito that way.)

Of course, what gets left unsaid by the Dissociated Press and other associated disociados is that Cardinal Urosa is a rabid right-winger, as are all the Venezuelan cardinals. They have always come down clearly on the side of the oligarchy, and never more so than now, when the oligarchs are out of power and likely to remain so for decades, if not forever. As Alberto Nolia points out on the most recent episode of his show, The Devil's Papers, the Venezuelan church hierarchy is politicized; it is aligned with the opposition; and even during Holy Week, they just can't lay off the politicking. And considering that the Church is supposed to be a spiritual force in the world, rather than a political one, that's a real perversion.

But of course, that's not the only perversion it's guilty of. Here's Professor Vladimir Acosta, saying something that would have been unthinkable two decades ago--but which now, in this scary red era of "no free speech in Venezuela", is not only speakable, but widely acknowledged by the nation's progressive majority:

He's saying that despite his considerable charisma, the late Pope John Paul II was an arrogant reactionary, one of the worst in modern history. He was allied with the Reagan administration, the CIA and all their puppets in Latin America, most notably the pious Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet. His canonization of the founder of the known fascist cult, Opus Dei, is more than a little hinky; so is his consistent silencing of progressive voices within Catholicism, such as Latin America's proponents of Liberation Theology. Apparently anticommunism was always more important to him than the church's professed concern for social justice. And anticommunists got preference and handshakes, even when they were the most vile abusers of human rights--as were the Argentine junta's devoutly Catholic generals, along with Chile's Augusto Pinochet. Human rights abusers were absolved, excused and forgiven, but never shunned, excommunicated, or even admonished! That was for those who dared to question papal infallibility, such as Hans Küng.

And of course, we won't get into all the sexual abuse that was going on while John Paul II was in power. Abuse which the current pope, who was then Cardinal Ratzinger, was instrumental in sweeping under rug after rug after rug. Neither will we go into the fact that they're running out of rugs now, because the rugs are being yanked out from under them by scores of victims coming forward to tell all.

No, let's just play the old hoary tune about how the godless commies are coming, and how the KGB has made a beachhead in Venezuela. That's much easier than delving into how many Venezuelans (and others) were sexually abused by clerics for how long, isn't it?

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 22, 2010

Venezuelan dictator to shut down Internet!

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Um. Actually, that should read: Venezuelan DEMOCRAT to make good use of Internet!

President Hugo Chávez announced during his Sunday program that he would "open a trench on the Internet", referring to a blog, and that he would write it from Miraflores and use it to inform "millions" in Venezuela and throughout the world about his government.

"Over there in Miraflores Palace, I can get a computer, a web page, and communicate with millions, not only in Venezuela but all over the world," said Chávez.

"I'll have my own trench on the internet, my battle-trench on the web," he added, amid applause. "I assure you I'll send out lots of information--I signed this, I'm signing that, I'm discussing, I spoke to this person, I spoke to another," he said.

"This will be a bombardment of things. We're already organizing for a bombardment of responses, even from the enemy. Let them take their best shot at me, I'll fire back at them, battle is battle, assault is assault," he added, promising that his blog would be "a monster".

Translation mine.

Memo to all the flea-screech concern trolls out there: You can stop your fucking screaming already. And don't get cutesy about it either--that's even more pathetic. Go challenge the man directly, if you think your sorry fool ass can stand the walloping.

March 20, 2010

Chavecito: The usual suspect

Regular readers may know of my little contretemps in the last couple of weeks with a particularly dense troll who tried to blame the Venezuelan electrical "crisis" (tempest in a teapot, more like) on a certain big fella in a red shirt, instead of the crapitalists who preceded him, and who lacked the vision to foresee higher demand for electrical power (and a need for better maintenance of the existing infrastructure), what with a growing population and all. For those who wonder who this twit took his cues from, here's a hint:

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"No, honey, what a waste of nothing. This electricity thing is all Chávez's fault, he gave away the rains to Cuba!"

That's right...he took his cues from Globovisión, the biggest waste of electricity in all Venezuela!

Meanwhile, for those who want to know what's really up in the electricity thing, here you go. Someone is doing something. And that someone isn't a privatizer. Which should have Globovisión's rabid demagogues even more up in arms than usual about the lack of "freedom" for millionaires and billionaires to own the country...

March 19, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito Mercalito!

The municipality of San Francisco, in the state of Zulia, Venezuela, got a brand-new grocery store, with good foods at very good prices. It also got a distinguished visitor to help them open it:

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Yep, Chavecito was in town. And he didn't come alone; ministers Félix Osorio (food production and distribution) and Blanca Eekhout (communications) were also there for the occasion.

Mercal markets are nothing new; dire poverty and malnutrition have made them necessary. In Venezuela, at least 14 million people benefit from these markets, making them the go-to place for roughly half the population. Organization is key to helping reverse the mass misery that prevailed under the old capitalist system, and that's where Mercal and PDVAL markets come in. Wherever possible, they sell locally grown food (produced by co-ops, another growing industry in Venezuela) at prices the average person can readily afford.

Naturally those who expect to grow rich and fat on supermarkets aren't happy about that! But that's Venezuela; tycoons are just gonna have to get used to ceding power to the people...

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...because these people aren't about to give one crumb of it back.

March 15, 2010

Everything you ever wanted to know about Venezuela (but couldn't make it to Toronto to learn)

Awhile back, I posted an invite to a Bolivarian demo and teach-in in Toronto. Well, the video from that event is now out...

Glad I didn't have to miss the event after all; I just got there a little late, thanks to the miracle of the Internets.

Kudos to Socialist Project for the video.

March 14, 2010

Music for a Sunday: The Ballad of Hugo Chávez

A little birdie told me this song won some kind of award. No kidding! What a rum old world.

March 13, 2010

Ozzie Guillén moons the homefolks on the tweeter

And oh, what a lovely ass that man has:

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Did someone forget where he came from? Aporrea thinks so:

That Oswaldo Guillén doesn't agree with the government of President Chávez is understandable. You can see that since he acquired US citizenship 4 years ago, something that neither Roberto Clemente (who wouldn't let the gringos change his name) nor David Concepción ever did, because they knew very well that those who forget their roots bear no fruit, or those fruits won't last.

It seems a long time since 2005, when, flushed with victory in the World Series (North American, please note), Guillén defended President Chávez without a thought for anything but the reality before his eyes, in his native land.

Today, we wake to the news that on his Twitter page (@ozzieguillen), he has launched an attack against Sean Penn, much more bravely than he would if he had to defend the reign of the president of a country not his own.

Guillén wrote such statements as "What a clown this little gringo is who lives such a cool life in the United States", or "Sean Penn should go live in Venezuela so he'll stop talking so much shit stupid leftist go to Guarenas and see".

Guillén, with notable orthographic errors, assailed Penn, but at the same time he also attacked Guarenas, a town that gave him all he had: love, warmth, freedom, solidarity and the many baseball fields where Guillén, born in Ocumare del Tuy in 1964, went through his baptism of fire, practiced and prepared to arrive at where he is today.

Long lost (if they still remain) in Guillén's memory are those blocks of Oropeza Castillo, the bus stop where he waited for Guarenas-born Ibys, his wife, the meetings with other local baseball players, the joy of the children, and the courage of a town that rose up in the Caracazo against inequality. That same inequality which Guillén sensed in his childhood and teen years, the same in Ocumare as in Guarenas.

We don't know if Guillén's Orishas agree with his written declarations, and we don't know if he remembers the origins of the rhythms he loves so much.

What we do know is that today, the people of Guarenas will be indignant at the declarations of Guillén, who painted their town as insecure, without a future--as shit, basically, and all to offend Sean Penn and President Chávez.

We hope you're happy, Ozzie, now that we know you don't care about your homeland, and that you have no gratitude for those who gave you so much love.

But don't worry. Venezuela will keep moving forward without you, because we have the zest and the convictions that you don't. And clearly we will overcome, something we don't know if you will do.

Translation mine. Linkage added.

So. Now we see how someone who has risen to the top of his world has nowhere to go but down. And this is the beginning of Ozzie's long slide, folks. Make a note of it, so you'll be able to trace his ignominy to its roots, because Ozzie himself certainly won't.

Funny, isn't it, that he should pick on Guarenas, the town where his wife was born? And the town where he began his baseball career? If he's like so many other baseball-mad Venezuelans, including Chavecito himself, chances are that he played his first games on an improvised pitch, with a ball made of rags, and a piece of scrap wood for a bat. Chavecito certainly did.

But here's the rub: Chavecito joined the army so he could get to Caracas and eventually make his way into big-league baseball (he's a pitcher, a southpaw), and he wound up an officer, a failed rebel against a reviled turncoat, a jailbird, and then, as a civilian, an elected president. Ozzie achieved his original big-league dream, but he had to leave his country to do it. And worse, he let his adopted country rub out his roots.

Now, I know a thing about Gringolandia, and that is that it has a habit of stripping things off you, the better to make you fit its anglo "melting pot". Or Procrustean bed, more like it. One of the first thing it strips from new arrivals at Ellis Island, as my own mother found out in the mid-1960s, when she first came to work as a nanny in New York for the local Daimler-Benz importer, is their names. My mother says the immigration man tried to persuade her to change her name from Maria Welker to Mary Walker.

Now, this is just a laugh. My mom, who spoke almost no English when she first arrived in New York, is fluent today, but she still has a heavy German accent. And she wasn't even coming to immigrate; she was only there on a temporary work visa! That crazy place couldn't even wait for her to put down roots there before it insisted on lopping her German-ness off at the name. Good thing she wound up vacationing at a cousin's place in northern Ontario, where she met my dad and married him three months later, or heaven knows if I'd be speaking a word of German today.

As it is, I am fluently and perfectly bilingual. And as you can see, my dual-language skills have other payoffs, as well; I pick up other languages easily, and my mental horizons are broad enough that I could never become a chauvinist; I can appreciate other countries on the basis of their merits, and don't feel a pathological need to snub my nose at Germany just because I live in Canada. There are some things where Germans beat the world (beer, engineering); there are others where Canadians are superior (music, comedy, multiculturalism). It's all good to me!

That's why I don't understand how someone like Ozzie Guillén can forget where he comes from. I've been to the States, too. I loved the Minnesota prairie, the Atlantic coastline of Florida, the Arizona desert. (Disneyworld, however, underwhelmed me.) I've liked the people fine, for the most part. Can't recall meeting any truly disagreeable ones face to face there.

But I wouldn't call it a cool place to live, all the same; the political climate there was scary the last time I went (not long after Ozzie's "Viva Chávez" moment), and it's getting scarier by the minute now. There were no teabaggers when I was there last. Now they've popped up and metastasized. This is just one small part of the insanity that Sean Penn was trying to strike a blow against, when he whipped it out and urinated all over Rupee Murdoch's toy "news" channel. He was right to do so, even if a bit harsh in the way he put it. There is a substantial minority of the population which is completely divorced from sanity and reality, thanks to that camera-equipped nuthouse known as FOX News. And those people need a corrective in the worst way. (Maybe jail time for the crapagandists who brainwashed them isn't so out of line after all.)

Incidentally, Ozzie fucked up on another point, too: Sean Penn HAS been to Venezuela, more than once, and he liked what he saw, which was a process of change for the better. That's why he defends Chavecito.

If Ozzie Guillén said those things while still living and struggling in Venezuela, people there would laugh at him, call him a pitiyanki, maybe even beat the crap out of him for it. Of course he doesn't have the balls to do it, since he no longer lives there. Ozzie's not a mere pitiyanki anymore, he's an apátrido, a person without a homeland because he left it in the lurch. In this dubious club, he joins a number of other gutterbound ex-Venezuelans, most notably the talentless Maria Conchita Alonso, whose brother consorts with right-wing paramilitaries, and whose most notable (not-so-)recent achievement was to show off her nude nether regions to the world.

Now, it looks like Ozzie has metaphorically done the same. And he's about to find himself just as well respected at home for it...that is, if he still has a home.

March 11, 2010

Sean Penn sets Bill Maher straight on Venezuela

The actor/director/activist/journalist talks about Haiti, human rights...and about midway through, Douchebag Bill brings up a "dictator" named "Hewgo Shavezz". Sean's answer may surprise many who've bought into the same media campaigns as the Douchebag obviously has. For one thing, he can pronounce Chávez.

March 8, 2010

What's wrong with the CBC of late?

Let Humberto da Silva explain it to you, he knows:

Some time ago, I was dismayed by a lousy piece of CBC reporting on the situation in Venezuela, and now I know it's not my imagination, nor is it a coincidence, that CBC sounded virtually indistinguishable from any right-wing channel you could name when it came to Latin America. There really HAS been a shift to the right, and even my favorite (and formerly fair and honest) broadcaster has fallen victim to it, largely because right-wing hands now hold the budgetary choke chain on the nation's watchdog, and they are pulling it tight.

(Muchas gracias, Emily Dee)

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 4, 2010

Cindy Sheehan on Contragolpe

Watch live streaming video from aporrea at livestream.com

VTV's Vanessa Davies hosts Cindy Sheehan and Eva Golinger, author of several books on US interference in Venezuela (translating). Topics range from Cindy's peace protests at Camp Casey to imperialism and the mess that is the US political system. Not to be missed!

March 3, 2010

Energy wasters: Venezuela has them.

Chavecito has something very important to say, so listen up, kiddies. For those who can't understand Spanish, here's a partial translation (by me):

President Hugo Chávez, in a nationwide broadcast, discussed the first week of the electrical rationing plan for high-level residential, industrial and official consumers.

He announced that 63% of the highest consumers did not comply with the measure, which was established in a decree for the highest consumers. Chávez added that there would need to be a follow-up to determine that this group was in compliance.

He also emphasized that 37% of the highest industrial energy consumers lowered their consumption and saved 30.5%.

[...]

Among the most non-compliant users was CCCT, who increased their consumption nearly 28%. Other non-compliants were Industrias BioPapel, Terminal La Bandera, Plásticos Hércules, CC Galerías Prado del Este, Restaurant Hereford, Molinos Hidalgo, and Centro Plaza.

"We need to investigate those companies who increased their consumption nearly 100%. That's a grave matter, and could be related to sabotage."

Chávez also pointed out those official organisms who were not complying, among them the mayoralties of Sucre, Bandes, the municipal council of Baruta, the mayoralties of Zamora and Hatillo, and the Ministry of Basic Industries.

President Chávez also referred to the water levels at the Guri Dam, and emphasized that they are still dropping at the rate of 14 cm a day, and that there is only enough water in the reservoir to last another 3 to 4 months.

The national electrical system could suffer a collapse if the level of the Guri drops to 240 metres. As of today, it is at 14.45 metres above that level, according to the data presented by the president.

"You have to realize that the water levels at the Guri are still dropping. They dropped 14 cm yesterday, but we still have enough water for three or four months before a collapse, as long as the levels keep falling at the current rate, we have enough water for all of March, April, May, and the middle of June," said Chávez.

So. Now we can see a bit about what the real sources of Venezuela's electrical shortages are.

One, El Niño and low rainfall, 60% less than normal this year, means that the Guri Dam reservoir is very low. But since there's still enough for three months at this rate, and the summer rains are due to start in May, that problem could sort itself out in a matter of weeks. Only a climatologist could say for certain when the Southern Oscillation will normalize and normal rainfall levels will return. So that much is not in Chávez's hands or anyone else's, unless we all pitch in to stop global warming, and do it in a major way, yesterday. Global warming means more frequent and violent Niño phenomena, which wreak havoc on rain levels, among other things. But this is not Chávez's problem to solve. It is for all of us, collectively, as a planet, to deal with and stop denying that there is such a thing as man-made global warming.

What IS in human hands and readily controllable is reason number two. Energy consumption UP in a time of shortages? By certain private industries and opposition mayoral offices, no less? That reeks of sabotage, as the 'Cito says. They couldn't possibly NEED to use that much extra energy, and to do so at this time, when saving and conserving is of the essence, is unconscionable.

And indeed, there IS sabotage going on. Noticiero Digital, the infamous opposition web forum, is actively encouraging its denizens to "traffic" their electrical and water meters. Meaning, waste water and energy, and then turn the meters back to an artificially low level, so that they don't have to pay for the wastage.

One wonders why they're doing this, no doubt. One can only conclude that they are doing it to sabotage the government, since there are parliamentary elections scheduled for September. The opposition is hoping to make inroads in the congress (currently they are shut out), and this is their main strategy: Discrediting the PSUV, the overwhelming majority winner, by any means possible. Since electricity is short due to El Niño, no doubt they figure that way is the best. It speaks to their lack of real solutions, however, that they are reduced to sabotage--destructive measures, in other words--because they have nothing constructive to offer.

But then, what did we expect? These are the old Adecos and Copeyanos we're talking about. The Puntofijistas, fragmented and repackaged under "new" names, are in fact the same old incompetents that ran the country into the ground from 1958 to 1998. They mismanaged the electrical grid in the 1990s, when there were also shortages, but fewer consumers owing to the fact that the poorer neighborhoods were not on line. Chávez has changed all that, but he's had to do it with the same old crappy system, and the same old crappy bureaucrats, which he inherited from the ancien régime.

Building new infrastructure takes time, and happily, he's doing it. He's well aware of what the problems are, and addressing them as best he can, although no doubt a certain troll here who's been criticizing and blaming him for those problems doesn't want to believe it. (Tough shit, Mikey.)

Another innovative solution is to get rid of the bureaucrats (who are often old Adecos and Copeyanos themselves, accustomed to an easy, lazy lifestyle as a result of decades of patronage) and let the workers run the show. This "autogestion" was proposed by the members of the Venezuelan electrical workers' union, FETRAELEC, and is well in line with the socialist principles of co-operative industry espoused by Chávez and the PSUV. Who knows better how to run a utility than its own workers? Certainly not a bunch of paper-pushers who know that their days in the sinecure are numbered, thanks to a socialist leader who has them on the radar. And indeed, there is evidence to indicate that this electrical bureaucracy was also involved in the sabotage of the grid in recent times...as well as incompetence, another reason to get rid of bad managers. (But not the president, who is actually taking measures to address that problem, as the video should make abundantly clear.)

Meanwhile, the electrical workers of FETRAELEC also endorse the president's electricity conservation plan, understanding the need to save in times of shortage. Like I said: Who knows better than the workers? They have seen from up close what the levels at the Guri Dam look like.

My little troll, however, has not.

February 27, 2010

Never again!

The Caracazo, remembered:

With music by Lloviznando Cantos.

VTV also has various documentaries on the Caracazo and the events that led up to and came after it. Two short spots on the 4th Republic reveal the degree of corruption and misspending that various administrations later sold out the country to pay for at the hands of the IMF; Alberto Nolia, newly returned to The Devil's Papers, tells how Carlos Andrés Pérez ordered the massacres of early 1989; and witnesses tell in their own voices their memories of those five frightening days of late February and early March. All videos in Spanish.

Oh, Alvaro. Too bad. So SAD!

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"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 25, 2010

Chavecito on CNN

Videos in Spanish...

Chavecito talks with Carmen Aristégui about Alvaro Uribe's rude interruption at the summit, and how embarrassing it was for everyone involved. He also talks about Fidel, the revolution in Cuba, the importance of anti-imperialism, and the dangers of the Gringo Empire and its attempts to divide and conquer Latin America, and why it is therefore important to have an "OAS without North America".

In the latter half of the interview, he talks about the dangers Barack Obama faces at home. If he were to dismantle the military-industrial complex, he would be killed, says Chávez. He makes clear that he himself is anti-imperialist, not anti-US or anti-Obama. He also talks about why he gave Obama a copy of Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America, and about the coup in Honduras. He says it's possible that Obama didn't know it was going to happen, but it was accepted--a grave error. There's also a cute moment where he describes running into Uribe in the washroom after the infamous "al carajo" incident. Chavecito proposes Lula to head up the new LatAm-Caricom organization he and Evo are advocating, citing Lula's being on good terms with everyone, and able to hear everyone out.

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 20, 2010

Two quick announcements

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Your attention, please...

A commenter on my Open Letter to Peter Kent, Sofia Ramirez, writes:

*Please distribute widely* People in Toronto, Montreal and Caracas, Venezuela will be demonstrating in support of the democratic people's movement in Venezuela and exposing the hypocrisy of the Harper Conservatives who are waging war in Afghanistan while avoiding public accountability at home. Conservative Minister for the Americas Peter Kent has publicly criticized Venezuela as 'undemocratic' for applying its laws to TV and radio broadcasters. Kent and his fellow Harper Conservatives shouldn't speak about democracy at the same time as closing our parliament for months to avoid being investigated for complicity in handing over detainees to torture in Afghanistan. Thursday, February 25th @ 5pm 365 Bloor St. East (at Sherbourne) In front of Venezuelan Consulate For more information see/contact: Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/event.php?eid=319821343005&ref=nf Latin American Solidarity Network (LASN): cca_toronto@hotmail.com Barrio Nuevo: barrionuevo.canada@gmail.com

Also, Cort G. e-mailed me this:

Saturday, 27 February 2010, 09:30 - 16:00 Pre- registration: vzteachin@hotmail.com Saturday, Feb 27, Registration 9:30 Sidney Smith Building, Room 2117 100 St.George St. (North of Harbord St.) The Challenge of Solidarity: Attend these events to participate, to learn and to help all of us to rise to the challenge of solidarity -- building a movement against imperialism.

Registration: 9:30 a.m.
Donation: $10 or what you can

Opening Session 10 a.m. -- 11 a.m.

Greetings by Venezuelan consul.

Opening address: Ten years of the Bolivarian revolution, covering Venezuelan history, the current context, and the challenge that Venezuela poses.

Speaker: Maria Paez


Workshops for the morning, from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
1. Communal councils and grassroots organizing and the new state.
2. Imperialism's economic crisis and Latin America.
3. Workers' Control and the Unions.
4. Colombia/Venezuela/seven U.S. bases and more.
5. People-to-people solidarity.

Vegetarian Lunch 1 p.m.-2 p.m.

Workshops for the afternoon from 2 p.m. -- 4 p.m.
1. ALBA and Its Challenge to Neoliberalism.
2. Venezuela and World Solidarity.
3. Women and the Venezuelan revolution.
4. Endogenous development and oil
5. Alternative media in Venezuela and Canada
Final plenary: Latin American Solidarity and the Canadian Left

Organized by: OPIRG, Centre for Social Justice, Barrio Nuevo, Hands Off Venezuela/Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle, Latin America Solidarity Network--Toronto, Socialist Project, Venezuela We Are With You Coalition/Coalicion/Venezuela Estamos Contigo. Co-sponsored by Toronto, Bolivia Solidarity,Toronto Haiti Action Committee

For further information, email vzteachin@hotmail.com
Location : Sidney Smith Building, Room 2117, 100 St.George St. (North of Harbord St.), University of Toronto

Contact : vzteachin@hotmail.com

Anyone who can make it, please do attend. Your support will be greatly appreciated.

And have a grrrrrreat day.

February 19, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Watch out, empire...

...because Chavecito's peasant militias have something to say to your nefarious plans:

And militia members like Adriana are not going to stand for any nonsense. Especially not since the discarded FAL rifles of the Venezuelan army are now in their hands, and they know how to use them.

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.

February 15, 2010

Juanes: Douchebaggery confirmed.

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Once more, via the tweeter, we glimpse an ugly truth about a pretty boy who sings very bland, mediocre music and preaches what we now know to be a false message of peace. From Aporrea:

Young Venezuelans, who support the process of change in their country, demanded on Monday that the Colombian singer, Juanes, show more respect to Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez Frías, whom he attacked on his Twitter page.

Juanes wrote over the weekend that he had the PIN of the Blackberry belonging to Chávez. He used a combination of numbers and letters that spelled out an insult.

Hundreds of Venezuelans reacted, expressing their disgust via the same network.

Venezuelan singer Roque Valero wrote on his Twitter page: "A person who believes in peace and love, doesn't call a President a 'son of a bitch', no matter who he is."

"I don't understand how someone who preaches peace could be so insulting in public. I don't know why he didn't do the same when he was in Havana," Valero said.

On the Colombian singer's Twitter page, the PSUV youth wing demanded respect for President Chávez and the Venezuelan people: "Pueblo venezolano le exige respeto a @juanes por twitter."

Another youth, identified as angelito2009, said: "If you really love my country, you won't mess with our government, led by our President, Hugo Chávez. Dude, we're sovereign."

And another user, GuillermoC, wrote: "If that's Chávez's PIN, Uribe's is N4RC07R4F1C4N7E."

Translation mine. I don't think I need to translate GuillermoC's alphanumerics, do you? (BTW, that's not an insult to Dictator Uribe. It is the truth.)

Here's a screen-grab of the offending message string:

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In it, we can see Juanes remonstrating with the Venezuelans, accusing them of not having a sense of humor, and soliciting further "bad jokes" in typical weasel fashion. The passage circled in red is the one where he lets slip what he really thinks of the 'Cito.

No, it's not insulting to call Juanes a douchebag, either. It is the truth.

(Muchas gracias to Slave Revolt for the heads-up.)

February 13, 2010

Oh noes, Chavecito is now in the supermarket business!

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Cue the screamers of the Dissociated Press, the WaHoPo, and the NY Slimes. Communism is on the march once more! Aporrea has the deets:

At the end of his speech during the opening of the Bolivarian Hypermarket, President Hugo Chávez expressed the willingness of the government to acquire 80% of the shares of CATIVEN, the consortium which manages the Cada supermarket chain.

"The group wants to reach an amicable agreement because the expropriation will be an amicable agreement, they want to sell to [the government of] Venezuela 80% of the shares of CATIVEN, so that they will belong to the government and the people of Venezuela.

President Chávez directed vice-president Elías Jaua to start talks with the consortium in order to reach agreements as to the price, form of payment and labor contracts.

The Cada chain has 35 stores and the purchase agreement will include distribution centres, transportation fleet, and of course, the 5,000 workers who have been wearing red for quite some time already.

Translation mine.

It's instructive to note that the Bolivarian Hypermarket (don't you love that exaggeration in the name? It's not super enough to be merely super in Venezuela, you gotta be HYPER!) is a case of workers asking the government to expropriate and buy out the chain so that they can become self-governing. This is another case of the same thing. Red is not only the color of the chain logo (see photo at the link), it's also a state of mind.

And, oh horrors, it's one that the workers in Venezuela actually LIKE being in. Three guesses as to why that is.

(Muchas gracias to Utpal for the linky.)

February 11, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Ms. Manx eats the tweeter

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Well, what did you expect of Ms. Manx? She's a kitty. They eat shredded tweet for breakfast. And so do I, today...as we delve into just how important Twitter is NOT when it comes to Venezuelan politics.

If you've read this earlier post of mine, you'll have a fair idea just how full of shit the lamestream media are when reporting the "latest" goshwow crap going on in Venezuela. Ooh, ahh, the Twitter Revolution is going to unseat the evil 'Cito!

Only, alas, no.

In fact, Twitter isn't even really news down there, and certainly not for serious observers of Chavecitolandia. Counterpunch and Chronically Clueless both ate the tweeter's lunch MONTHS ago, both pointing out in detail just how and why the oppos will never tweet their way into power (or tweet the 'Cito out of it, same diff). And the lamestream media are just kinda-sorta latching onto this non-story now? From the wrong angle, yet? FAIL.

Well, here's something else they'll never report: Following Chavecito's recommendations, Chavistas are now countertweeting the oppos. The popular alternative media site, Aporrea, has its own twit-stream now. As does La Hojilla, the popular current-events show. Only they are using the tweeter the way it works best, as a quick way to get little newsy items out and onto people's radars. And as a rapid-response system to counteract the oppo lies.

In other words: Big Corporate Media can't even get little birdies right. It would be funny if it weren't so damn pathetic.

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February 10, 2010

An open letter to Peter Kent

Dear Mr. Kent:

On your recent official trip to Venezuela, in the name of Canada, you made some remarks that embarrass us as a country, and disgust me as a Canadian. They are as follows:

"Canada is concerned over the Venezuelan government's recent suspension of broadcasting of [three] television stations and the death of two students in protests related to this action. These events are further evidence of a shrinking democratic space in Venezuela."

Mr. Kent, Canada is NOT "concerned" about the Venezuelan government's legitimate actions regarding broadcasters in violation of its laws. And for that reason, Canada would appreciate you not rudely fobbing off your personal views as those of an entire nation when you are the guest of a foreign leader. You were the guest of President Chávez, were you not? And if you were not there as his guest, whose guest were you? Were you in fact a guest of the putschist opposition, and was that the reason you didn't show your face there for very long--or present it to the president himself, at Miraflores Palace?

The reason I ask is because you made those uncalled-for remarks in your official capacity as a minister of state. Just as you made the following remarks in your official capacity on the shameful occasion of the military coup against the president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya:

"Canada condemns the coup d'état that took place over the weekend in Honduras, and calls on all parties to show restraint and to seek a peaceful resolution to the present political crisis, which respects democratic norms and the rule of law, including the Honduran Constitution.

"Democratic governance is a central pillar of Canada's enhanced engagement in the Americas, and we are seriously concerned by what has transpired in Honduras."

Now, that's all very right and proper. No one could fault you for saying that. But when that legitimately elected leader attempted to return to his country, from which he was unceremoniously ousted, and regain his rightful seat, you said:

"We urge restraint. We view his initial and subsequent attempts to re-enter the country as very unhelpful to the situation."

What a strange thing to say! Somewhere between the coup and the attempt at return, your sense of what constitutes an American democracy underwent a rather odd shift. You went from being against the coup to being, in effect, for it. Why else would you oppose an elected leader's efforts to regain what is rightfully his, and restore his country to normality?

It's nonsensical and incongruent remarks like these that make me seriously question your credentials as a diplomat and a democrat, Mr. Kent. And they also make me question your moral right to pronounce on the situation in Venezuela. Especially when you do it in the name of Canada.

You see, I don't think Venezuela happens to be suffering from a "shrinking" of its "democratic spaces" at all. I can understand Spanish, and I have been following the RCTV situation (as farcical as it is), along with the rest of the Venezuelan media situation. And I don't see a "shrinking" at all; in fact, I see quite the opposite. The media in Venezuela are still overwhelmingly in corporate hands. Public and alternative media are still a minority there, albeit a vibrant and growing one, and increasingly popular with ordinary Venezuelans. That's an expansion of democratic spaces, not a "shrinking"!

But then, you are a fine one to talk, sir, are you not? After all, you made your official remarks in the name of a minority government, at a time when Parliament has been prorogued out of a very antidemocratic combination of sheer spite and irresponsibility. Canada's democratic space has been closed off altogether under the watch of your party, Mr. Kent. Where is your moral authority to say anything about the media situation in Venezuela?

Ah, but I suppose you may be speaking in your capacity as a former broadcaster. I vaguely recall that you used to work for CanWest Global, a private media conglomerate, before you entered politics. I can well imagine that the arch-conservative CanWest Global corporate editorial line, which you also represented for a time in an official capacity, would have colored your outlook on non-conservative, non-corporatist governance somewhat.

Still, that doesn't excuse your remarks, which were supercilious, ignorant, and totally inaccurate. And it doesn't excuse what you said in response to Venezuelan ambassador Roy Chaderton, after he quite rightly rebuked you for your disrespect before the OAS. Far from being the "rhetoric of desperation", as you called them, Mr. Chaderton's remarks were based entirely on fact. And if you, Mr. Kent, were worth your salt as a journalist, you would appreciate that. After all, journalism is supposed to be about reporting facts, not opinions-disguised-as-facts.

It is awfully hard for a former reporter to be bested at his own game by a diplomat from South America, is it not, Mr. Kent?

But of course, I forget to whom I am writing. CanWest's stock in trade has been opinions-disguised-as-facts for so long that of course, as an old loyalist to the company line, you would have difficulty distinguishing the one from the other. Poor judgment is a known occupational hazard at CanWest Global; it may be why that once prosperous corporation is now teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

Still, ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. And ignorance of the real situation in Venezuela is no excuse for sticking both feet in your mouth. As long as you work in an official capacity, representing all of Canada--or claiming to--you are obliged to seek the fullest picture of the situation abroad, and not rely on the narrow viewpoints of a corporatist few as you have done. Our parliament is not the CanWest news desk. Our nation is not a corporation.

Mr. Kent, you are an ignorant man; you may be an ignorant man as a matter of profession. Certainly you are a partisan of the arch-corporatist party of ignorance. But we Canadians are not an ignorant people, nor are we corporatists. We are well aware of how much our democratic spaces have shrunk under the reign of your party, just as we are aware of how much the overall quality journalism has declined in Canada thanks in no small part to CanWest's hard-right editorial line.

Your ignorant remarks embarrass us all before the world.

February 5, 2010

"I was assigned to kill Hugo Chávez", says a former sergeant

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Meet Ivan Freites, former technical sergeant, military rebel, and reluctant assassin.

From YVKE Mundial, a very special story about a man who could have adversely changed the course of Venezuelan history, had his own integrity not prevented the worst:

At just 22 years of age, Iván Freites joined the ranks of an army of valiant men who set out on February 4, 1992, to join a revolutionary movement which would change the course of a country that had succumbed to the abysmal political and economic rule of the government of Carlos Andrés Pérez. However, this young man had been manipulated to carry out a mission that could well have changed the political destiny of Venezuela.

Even at that age, Freites had courage enough to face the risks that went along with a military rebellion, but at the same time, very little of the political maturity needed to recognize whose hidden interests and personal ambitions were at work, seeking to nip a revolution in the bud: the Bolivarian Revolution.

"I was a technical sergeant when, a few days after February 4, one of the leaders of that movement assigned me the mission of assassinating Lieutenant-Colonel Hugo Chávez," confessed Freites, in an exclusive interview with YVKE Mundial.

It was in 1987 that the sergeant was contacted by Captain Ronald Blanco La Cruz to join a group of dreamers who had dedicated themselves to studying history in such a way as to change the future of the country.

Already as early as 1984, there were meetings between the commanders Yoel Acosta Chrinos, Francisco Arias Cárdenas, Hugo Chávez Frías, and the late Felipe Antonio Acosta Cárlez. Freites commented that those meetings were more illustrative than conspiratorial. "They talked to us about the situation of the country, read us books like The Open Veins of Latin America, and showed us what Venezuela could have been, and what it was thanks to the political leadership of the day," Freites said.

However, there was known corruption in the highest ranks of the military, unmeasured repression of the unrest of February 27, 1989, and negotiations going on as to the delineation of the border with Colombia; these were some of the causes behind the idea that it was time for a military rebellion. Meetings that began with just six or eight persons, became gatherings of between 20 and 40.

"The events of the Caracazo caught us unawares, and we saw with pain what happened, but couldn't do anything. That was practically the starting point for the Bolivarian Revolutionary Army (EBR) to begin taking seriously the alternative of an insurrection in order to take power," said Freites, recalling the violence to which the Venezuelan people fell victim at that time.

The group of militaries, disgruntled with the political and social situation of the country, began to make plans for a military insurrection. Sgt. Freites says that between 1989 and 1992, there were various dates set for the attempt, but because some officers were removed from their barracks, the dates changed constantly. Freites says that as of the end of 1991, there was pressure to set the date, which was changed from February 3 to early on February 4.

One of the strongest leaders, who, according to Freites, maintained contact with the civilian organizations Bandera Roja (Red Flag) and Tercer Camino (Third Way), among others, was Captain Antonio Rojas Suárez, who, along with Ronald Blanco La Cruz, was responsible for the operation in Caracas.

"Suárez was a high-ranking member of a freemasons' lodge. I have to say there were occult interests related to this religious movement. Interests different to those we had, who were dreamers, including Comandante Chávez," says Freites.

He adds that, just two weeks before the rebellion of February 4, there was a meeting between Cpt. Ronald Blanco La Cruz, Cpt. Rojas Suárez, and himself, where Rojas said that the commanders Chávez and Arias were the principal traitors to the revolutionary movement, cancelling the date of the rebellion on several occasions.

"Since Rojas Suárez was a leader at that time, his words could not be taken lightly. He proposed to us a pact in which as soon as they (Chávez and Arias) had decided the date of the insurrection, we would have to decide to assassinate them, a pact which was accepted. Since I was just a subaltern, 22 years old, they assigned me the mission of killing Chávez," Freites confesses.

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Hugo Chávez and fellow rebel Francisco Arias Cárdenas, the targets of the intended murder plot.

On February 3, when the operation had been set in motion and there was no turning back, because the officers had all been contacted, Sgt. Freites received a phone call from Cpt. Ronald Blanco La Cruz. "Sgt. Freites, what we talked about over eliminating Comandante Chávez, that won't go ahead, I'm convinced that they are the real leaders of this revolution and everything we talked about, forget it and let's just concentrate on the military operation," was the instruction Cpt. Ronald Blanco gave.

"It was a moment of patriotic emotion, having received that call from Cpt. Ronald Blanco," said Freites, recalling how two hours later, another phone call would destroy that feeling of peace.

"Two hours later, I was looking for some rifles a captain had entrusted to me, because it would not be easy to take the military stations. But right away I received a call from Rojas Suárez, who said to me: 'Ivan, I heard that Captain Ronald Blanco told you that what we talked about wouldn't go ahead, so let me tell you that was more important than any other thing. Your mission is to kill Chávez'," recalled Freites.

Hugo Chávez called the operation "The Night of the Centaurs", in memory of the warriors who went on horseback with the generals, Ezequiel Zamora and José Antonio Páez. The starting point was at Ft. Tiuna. Seven people attended the meeting: Captains Ronald Blanco La Cruz, Antonio Rojas Suárez, Joaquín Suárez Monte, Carlos Aguilera, Majors Carlos Díaz Reyes, Pedro Pérez López, and Sgt. Iván Freites.

"We met at Ft. Tiuna on February 3, at 7 p.m., specifically in a street near the infantry school, I had the rifles with which we'd decided to take the tank battalion there. We assaulted the barracks, took the officers there prisoner, met with the troop, and explained to them what was going on. That helped us," said Freites.

Once Ft. Tiuna was taken, the next objective was to take Miraflores Palace and the three infantry battalions stationed there. Other units were to take the television channels to transmit a message recorded by Comandante Chávez, but which never came to light, because that attempt failed. At the same time, in other parts of the country, some objectives were reached and others not.

"For us the most important thing was the taking of public power, which could only be done by taking prisoner the then president, Carlos Andrés Pérez. From a military point of view, we succeeded in the complete takeover of Miraflores Palace. As well, Lt. Porras Echesuría was in charge of directing operations against the presidential mansion, and I must emphasize that he did an excellent job, but the president wasn't there," says Iván Freites.

Three factors stood in the way: Lack of communication, betrayal, and the indecision of some officials and sub-officials.

"There was much indecision on the part of the middle-ranking officers. Military rebellions don't take place everyday in Venezuela, and I think we did fairly well. Sadly, some comrades dedicated themselves to sabotage, and gave away the operation to the commanding general of the army. It's very hard to bring a plan to fruition when the enemy knows everything that's going to happen."

As well, there were constant failures in communication, owing to an order to remove the batteries from the radios with which the rebels were supposed to remain in contact with one another. "We were practically taken by surprise by the message of Chávez, telling us to hand over our weapons, an order we immediately followed, because the information that got to him was that all the military objectives had failed, so that he decided to avoid more bloodshed," comments Freites.

Iván Freites emphasizes that while some have criticized the attitude of Comandante Chávez that day when he ordered the troops to lay down their arms, and defends the act as one of bravery.

"The decision of Comandante Chávez was not one of cowardice. Quite the contrary--it was an act of courage to order the men to lay down their weapons, believing that the objectives had eluded us, so he thought once more of the future, and that it would mean an unnecessary bloodbath [to continue the assault]."

Freites says that to call Hugo Chávez a coward is nothing less than an act of "dirty warfare" on the part of those who have dedicated themselves to sabotaging the revolutionary process in Venezuela. "Calling Chávez a coward is dirty warfare, because his valor not only shone through on February 4, but has been tested many times over the years before all he has had to face in order to be where he is today, and with the acceptance he he has from the Venezuelan people," Freites says.

Freites also emphasizes the qualities of Chávez and the values which have placed him as the great leader of the Bolivarian revolution. "The Comandante has always been a good leader, very disciplined, honest, a tireless worker, very socially aware, always trying to do things well and be a good example. All those values made, and still make, many people believe in him, and the fact that on February 4, he assumed responsibility for the military operation, ended up giving him the leadership role which he still plays today," Freites says.

Iván Freites explains why the February 4 revolt was a military rebellion, not a coup: "A coup d'état is a military option for taking power without caring why it is being done, but February 4 was a military rebellion, because it had historical antecedents, among them the events of February 27, 1989, when the hopes of an oppressed people were in the Armed Forces, and those then turned out to massacre them."

For Freites, that military rebellion was so crucial that it divided his life in to a before and an after. "It was a very enriching experience, and gave me the opportunity to say to my children that I was one of those who took part in what started this revolutionary process from which they will all benefit, and future generations as well. Also, it marked the beginnings of a different course for Venezuela, which we can see statistically in the economic and social spheres, and above all, the consciousness of human beings."

"It's very hard to hold an opinion about something you suspect. I believe, with the experience I have today, that what happened was for the best, because from the political viewpoint, if the taking of power by the military had been achieved and I had killed Chávez, the ambition to power would have been so great that had I not done it, some other person would have, maybe the same Rojas Suárez. Venezuela is much better today with Chávez at the forefront, but I don't know what it would have been like without him," says Freites.

Among the men which Iván Freites named in this revelation, history granted them the opportunity, ten years later, during the coup of April 2002, to once more demonstrate their loyalty to Hugo Chávez. But once more, Antonio Rojas Suárez, then governor of the state of Bolívar, was one of those who spoke out against the president, and chose to recognize the coup government of Pedro Carmona Estanga. For his part, Ronald Blanco La Cruz, who was governor of Táchira, was the first to demonstrate his unconditional loyalty to the president, and to denounce to the world that a coup had taken place.

Translation mine.

I wonder, where is this treacherous Antonio Rojas Suárez today? Surely not in any position of power in Venezuela. Is he hiding out in Miami? Wouldn't surprise me a bit if he were also under investigation for corruption or the like. In any event, it's a good thing that his murder plot was aborted by Ronald Blanco La Cruz...and Iván Freites, who was relieved not to become a triggerman in what could have been the most tragic assassination in his country's history.

February 4, 2010

Venezuela: Who haz Teh Stoopid?

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Oh lordy, lordy, good Gordie. I have about a week's worth of stupid Google alerts in my e-mail box right now, burning a hole in my head. All of them concern Venezuela, and if they weren't so damn commonplace, they'd be egregious. But there's nothing egregious about the anglo media getting Venezuela and Chavecito wrong, so let's just give the most classically stupid ones a quick rundown before I delve into the hot stuff:

First up--FUX Snooze, with "'Terrorist' Twitter Threatens Hugo Chávez's Stranglehold on Media. Only, of course, it doesn't, because there isn't any stranglehold. In fact, if any of these FUX Snoozers could read Spanish, they'd realize that Chavecito has actually advocated using Twitter. (A half-assed and snotty "fair and balanced" English account can be found here.) Perhaps the Chavistas will start an anti-FUX campaign once they're done polishing off what's left of RCTV!

Next, we have the LAHT, parroting a discredited "national college of journalists", who in turn are parroting the media owners' line about Venezuela being a "disaster zone for free speech". Note: Not one of these shameless palangristas has been killed, as they would be in Colombia for breathing a word of boo about Alvaro Uribe (or any lesser right-wing corrupto). Neither has a single one been arrested for lying to the people, as they do all the time in Venezuela. And meanwhile, the majority of Venezuela's media remain firmly in the hands of crapitalists who dictate--yes, DICTATE--to their "journalists" the same old editorial line: Chávez has a stranglehold on the media here! Your free speech is under attack from the state!

Following that, we have some "analysis" by the Dissociated Press via the WaHoPo, claiming that Chavecito's "socialist project" is "badly hobbled". Only, of course, they, too, are parroting the silly oppos with their dimwitted slogans (which are pure wishful thinking, or perhaps a projection of where they themselves stand). Something's hobbled, all right, but it's not the 'Cito. He at least has a coherent (and popular!) electoral platform for the coming September. And that's just what the oppos are trying to stage yet another boring coup d'état against--they got NADA.

Next, a shitty little fascist blogger tries hard to convince us that he has a finger on the pulse of Venezuela. Sorry, dude, but you've got it up your own rectum, and what you feel is nothing but your own peristalsis. You know nothing about Che, either, and all your flatulent free-form musings won't convince us that what you do is "journalism", not even the ultra-crappy kind that the Dissociated Press and the Venezuelan "college" favor. Face it, Humberto, you're just another brownshirt hack. (And don't ask me where that brown came from; if you can't smell it, I shan't enlighten you.)

Then, some twit from Tulsa thinks that TV stations are being "shut down". No, they're not. They're being held accountable. Horrible as it sounds, Venezuela has media regulations and standards, and they must be complied with by all domestic stations broadcasting there. Shockingly, other democracies also have 'em, and most are comparable to Venezuela's. Eeek, creeping socialism! (PS: RCTV is NOT "International". Its programming is 90% domestic. Get your facts straight, or risk looking a complete idiot.)

And speaking of twits, here's a little more derivative twaddle about the Twitter non-revolution that will most certainly NOT topple 11 years of successful Bolivarianism, to the utter disappointment of the derivative twit who twaddled it. See you in September, "Business Insider" dude. You may want to borrow my crystal ball, it works better than yours.

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BTW, the same publication is a veritable fountain of mirth for this entry, too. Petro-economy in Venezuela deteriorating? Not even hardly. Needless to say, the 'Cito is not "backtracking", either. He's doing business with China and India, whose demand is growing. And he's a caution to the Saudis!

The Jamaica Observer can't even spell his name right, much less grasp the fact that these "former loyalists" of which it speaks are all crooked, back-stabbing coattail riders who thought they could use his popularity for a springboard and then overthrow him when the time was ripe. Needless to say, they are all wrong. And at least one of them is facing corruption charges! Funny dat.

The Moderate Voice sounds very shrill, and not at all moderate. Srsly, comparing the 'Cito to that weirdo from Libya? You may want to get to a vet, it sounds like you're about to hork up a big-ass hairball there.

Even the CBC haz Teh Stoopid, since they open and close with RCTV's viewpoint--which is a tacit endorsement of it, in other words. That's Bhad Nhews! (But perhaps symptomatic, since they've been in a state of degeneration ever since Harpo kept cutting their funding or threatening to do so. Maybe they're currying favor?)

Okay. Enough with Teh Stoopid, it could go on all night and I'm getting sick of it. Here's the straight dope, and it comes from no less a figure than Roy Chaderton, Venezuela's ambassador to the OAS:

Part one of two; click through to hear it all. Here's what he said:

February is the month of carnivals. I refer to Rio de Janeiro, Port of Spain, Barranquilla, New Orleans and Québec City, among others. Yes, there is a carnival in Canada, but there's a difference; not because the winter carnival of Québec occurs under extreme low temperatures. The difference is that when in other countries they start to put on carnival masks, in Canada the ultra-right starts to take off its mask.

I speak of diplomacy and respect for freedom of expression; I had the opportunity to tell the story of a far-right journalist who recently visited Venezuela. He asked for interviews with the Foreign Minister and other official functionaries who could not fit him into their schedules. In reality, he was not interested in speaking to my Government, but with the opposition, in order to motivate them and offer them support, among others, to putschists and destabilizers. He met with two important government deputies whose opinions were irrelevant to him.

The recent media censoring of a speech by President Hugo Chávez, by the putschist station RCTV, was supported by this journalist, who on his return dared to say that in my country democratic spaces have been reduced. Who is this gentleman? Anyone with moral authority, or a journalist who, like any other, can opine whatever brings him gain without greater consequences than a democratic polemic? NO!! His name is Peter Kent, Minister of State for Latin America in the Canadian Foreign Ministry. So, who has seen a person of such high rank, who could not and did not seek a meeting with his potential host, impose his presence in a country, abusing his diplomatic flexibility? What a lack of democracy, what a lack of respect!

Canada has long been the country that has functioned the best on our continent; however, there are new little details:

For its intromission, I denounce the violation of the no-intervention norms on the part of the current Canadian minority government. This is not the Canada of Lester B. Pearson, posthumous Nobel peace prizewinner, who universalized healthcare rights for his people; nor is it that of John Diefenbaker, the conservative Prime Minister open to socialized medicine. Neither is it that of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the leader who took no orders from Washington, and was one of the most brilliant western statesmen of the 20th century, steeped in the ideas of Christian socialism. Nor is it that of Jean Chrétien, Liberal leader, elected several times by his people, who had a cordial relationship of mutual respect with President Hugo Chávez. I am speaking of a Canada governed by a far-right, which closed Parliament for several months in order to halt an investigation over the violations of human rights by its soldiers in Afghanistan; which censors protests in Ontario and the criticisms of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver; which has flirted with the Honduran putschists; which is preparing for an offensive in favor of the media dictatorship in Latin America, and to destabilize leftist governments. However, I must thank the Government of Canada for its concern over the two students who were killed, and inform them that they were leftist militants, murdered by gunmen of the opposition.

Oh, Canada! What crimes are being committed in your name!

In this ultra-right-wing circus, an embarrassing Inter-American Human Rights Commission participated, which kept mum about the Caracazo massacre in Venezuela and supported the coup against President Chávez along with the inter-American mafia of human-rights bureaucrats which have infiltrated the OAS, with the complicity of its highest authority, such as a Secretariat of Freedom of Expression which believes that the private initiative to defame, censor and destabilize is a freedom deserving of protection.

In the face of the media dictatorship, the Empire and its partners, under the Bolivarian Revolution we enjoy extreme freedom of expression and are developing to the fullest all the human rights, such as those of the indigenous peoples, a mater in which we offer our advice to Canada in order to rescue its impoverished indigenous from the claws of exclusion and extreme poverty. It is very easy, just treat them as equals.

The Axis of Evil is trying new tactics. Knowing that the ultra-right cannot win popular support against President Chávez, it is doing its best to sabotage Venezuelan democracy with the hope of winning the presidential elections in September and, from there, repeating the operation in Tegucigalpa and after that, the one in Jakarta, such as that mounted at the time by the CIA and the media star Henry Kissinger against the Chilean democracy.

This is not an anecdote. The agenda of the Republican Party continues unabated in Latin America. Behind the curtain is the most violent power in history, which violates all human rights in the name of democracy and security; so historically aggressive that if I were to seek a show of hands from all ambassadors whose countries were dismembered, invaded by marines, or whose democratic governments have been brought down by US intervention, a forest of arms would rise, and of course, immediately the Secretary General would leap up to visit all the affected countries, to build bridges of straw and in the process gather some small votes for his re-election.

The law is the law; for this reason we protest before the governments of the United States and Canada for inciting RCTV to disobedience. Mediocre, racist, violent and vulgar, accustomed to transmitting adult programming during children's hours, while during the coup against President Chávez in 2002, they broadcast only children's programs (The Jungle Book, Tom and Jerry, etc.) during adult hours, in order to conceal the popular rebellion against the coup. Five years later, the concession, property of the state, was not renewed, and RCTV was relegated to cable. Now, with 90% Venezuelan programming, it pretends to be an "international" station in order not to classify its programming, play the National Anthem, or transmit required official messages. Other suspended stations returned to air on complying with the law. For TV Chile, it was enough to register and prove that it was not Venezuelan; the same happened with the Televisa stations.

RCTV is a station with a long-standing media criminal tradition. Since 1984, it has been a leader in the silencing by the private media of the former president Luís Herrera Campíns. He was castigated for prohibiting the advertising of liquors and cigarettes in the media, and for imposing the playing of a Venezuelan piece of music on radio for each imported one played. This sanction lasted until the day of his death in 2007. It's a curious fact that the radical opposition station, Globovisión, transmitted freely because it accepted this norm. RCTV is the spoiled brat of the dregs of the international media, and did not abide by the law.

So it can be said that the Axis of Evil relies on the support of RCTV, El Nazional, and Globovisión in Venezuela, and on that of FOX News, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, the Miami Herald, CNN in Spanish, the Grupo de Diarios América, El Tiempo (owned by the Santos family of Colombia), El Universal (owned by the Ealy family), El País de Madrid, the Inter-American Radio Association, the Inter-American Press Association, the representatives of media terrorism, the Southern Command, and the Fourth Fleet in this witches' sabbath of the inter-American demons.

Translation mine.

Those are harsh words, but I agree with them absolutely. I am not one of those "my country, drunk or sober" morons who call themselves patriots. I'm one who believes that any Canadian with an honest sense of pride in our country, as well as a conscience, can only agree that this is no longer the healthy, progressive, democratic Canada of Lester B. Pearson, Tommy Douglas, and Pierre Trudeau. Our parliament is fucking prorogued, and all decision making is now going on over our heads and without question or scrutiny. Ambassador Chaderton is right--we used to function the best of all, and now we no longer do. As he says, we have lost our political virginity. We are dysfunctional.

Our parliament is in an advanced state of degeneration, and our media are in grave danger of going the same way. Many of them, since they go along with the lies about RCTV, are already there. And yes, CBC, I'm glaring at YOU. I expect such crap from CTV and CanWest Global, because they are private broadcasters who favor the side their bread is buttered on, but you are a PUBLIC network. You have the resources and the means to do a whole lot better. In case you forget, you too have a responsibility to the public, and you're not meeting it adequately.

Especially not with regard to our sister nation, Venezuela, which IS a functioning democracy and deserving of all the respect due to one.

It was 18 years ago today...

...that a military uprising in Venezuela, against an elected president turned tyrant, failed. A group of army officers, tired of the abuse their country had taken for over three decades at the hands of "democratic" opportunists, decided to take matters into their own hands. The rebellion failed, but just one minute's TV time launched the rebel leader on what would become a career in politics. Perhaps he looks familiar?

Yep, that's Lt.-Col Hugo Chávez, commander of a paratroop regiment--turning himself in before the TV cameras, and asking his comrades to give themselves up as well. Two words--"Por ahora", "for now"--were all it took to give the country new hope. Chávez spent two years in prison before being pardoned by the late Rafael Caldera, and promptly began touring the country, hearing people out as to what they really wanted from their democracy. He formulated a platform based on constitutional reform and on getting the boot of international capital off Venezuela's neck. In 1999 he became president, as a civilian.

He's been wildly popular ever since.

February 2, 2010

Venezuela's "peaceful" oppos strike again...

And look! They love playing Laser Tag...or is it AirSoft?

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Real story here.

Seems a bit excessive considering they're fighting for a trashy profiteer's cable-TV channel, not their own freedom of speech. Doesn't it?

January 29, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: What RCTV didn't want Venezuela (or you) to see

This is the "cadena" (all-station legally mandated broadcast) that RCTV, now reduced to a cable station, refused to show and got suspended for refusing to show. Gee, don't you wonder why they refused? Well, here's a broad hint: The reality you see above doesn't fit with their crapagandic agenda. This is the opening of the "Admirable Campaign" for the Venezuelan congressional elections--a gigantic rally in O'Leary Square in Caracas. As you can see, the Chavistas totally rule; they've got a real campaign going. Admirable? Yep, it's that.

And the oppos? Well...let's just say this is as good as their campaign will get.

January 27, 2010

Chavecito dispels rumors on La Hojilla

Part one of six with the big guy, in Spanish. Click through and watch 'em all. This should officially silence the dipshit rumor mill that's still churning over the cabinet shuffle (you'd think the anglo media never heard of that, though it's a normal part of democracy just about anywhere it exists). The 'Cito always gives viewers their time's worth with charm, humor, compassion and smarts. He expresses his condolences for the two students who died in Mérida; he also introduces his new vice president, Elías Jaua, and new defence minister, General Carlos Mata Figueroa. (His new minister of the environment, Alejandro Hitcher, an engineer who was president of Hidrocapital, doesn't appear on this episode, but is mentioned on Aporrea.)

Chilean ambassador criticizes US military presence in Haiti

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It's not just Evo and Chavecito making this accusation now. Get a load of who else isn't pleased with the blatant US takeover of Haiti:

The United States military was "unnecessarily aggressive" in its operations to aid Haiti after the earthquake, said the Chilean ambassador in Port-au-Prince, Marcel Young, in an interview with the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio on Tuesday.

"They forget that this (Haiti) is a sovereign country and have been unnecessarily aggressive," said Young, when asked what he thought about the arrival of US troops.

The US "has control of the international airport" and set "its own criteria--first their planes land, and then all the rest," said Young.

"The arrival of those troops was overly imposing. Even if it was positive that they re-established air traffic control, judging by the level of military presence their demonstration of force has been excessive."

Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba have accused Washington of "invading" the Caribbean country instead of sending civilian aid, criticisms which disgusted the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

Translation mine.

Let's see them try to explain THAT away as just some commie grumbling.

January 26, 2010

Again with the ArsyTV...

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"Those poor little owners of Sambil and RCTV..." Hey, is that sarcasm I hear emanating from the slums?

Once more, the entire English-speaking media world has Teh Stoopid when it comes to Venezuela. Why else would even the Beeb misreport this?

RCTV International was among six cable channels shut for failing to carry Mr Chavez's speeches live as required.

Meanwhile, Vice President Ramon Carrizalez has resigned.

Mr Carrizalez, who also held the defence minister's post, said on Monday that he was stepping down, citing personal reasons.

"My resignation is not the result of any discrepancy with government decisions, and any other version about my reasons for resigning is false and malicious," he said.

Mr Carrizalez's wife, Environment Minister Yubiri Ortega, has also left her post.

Their resignations came as protesters, overwhelmingly students, took to the streets to oppose the decision to take several cable channels off air.

In the capital Caracas, police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators who were trying to march on the headquarters of the state-run telecommunications agency.

"Freedom of expression is a right that we all embrace, and it must be defended," Alejandro Perdomo,19, told the Associated Press.

"One, two, three, Chavez you're struck out," demonstrators chanted, using sporting terminology in baseball-mad Venezuela to refer to a range of problems, including rising crime, the devaluation of the currency and electricity shortages.

In Merida, a pro-Chavez supporter was killed in clashes, officials said.

Notice some interesting things in there? I did:

1. They linked some unrelated things--namely, two (married) government ministers resigning for personal reasons--to the "closure" (which is actually only temporary and in line with Venezuelan law) of RCTV. Why? This makes it look as though the RCTV situation has unleashed a political crisis in Venezuela. (It hasn't, actually--it's a tempest in a teapot, but you'd never know it to read a typical English report!)

2. They only interview anti-Chávez students, and then in terms that make them look like they're in favor of freedom of speech (more on this bullshit later);

3. They don't devote more than a single line to the death of Yorsiño "Calcibón" Carrillo, whose name they couldn't even be bothered to publish. Yet they had no problem giving a name (and thus, a face and human status) to the anti-Chavista student, Alejandro Perdomo, who is still alive and unharmed. Doesn't that rather trivialize the death of Yorsiño Carrillo, or make it look as if his life is somehow worth less than that of Alejandro Perdomo? It does to me. Shit, even Reuters did better--albeit briefly so.

4. They're treating several unrelated, at times out of government control (such as the drought and the resulting need to ration electricity), irritating but hardly crisis-provoking problems as though these could be the downfall of Chávez. (They won't--his domestic popularity remains at 60% in spite of everything--but again, you'd never get that impression reading the anglo media.) In this, they're taking their lead from the oppos and their media mouthpieces--and the oppo students, who are always being trotted out as cannon fodder to make it look like something horrible and repressive is going on. Meanwhile, when a Chavista dies, it's treated as no biggie.

Some perspective would be in order, no? Well, fortunately, for that, you've got li'l ol' me.

Here's a little video showing just how much freedom of speech the oppos actually have when they claim not to have any:

An unauthorized oppo student demonstration arrives at the headquarters of VTV, Channel 8, the Venezuelan national public TV channel. They demand to be let inside, and in the end, five of them are. They get to speak personally with VTV president Yuri Pimentel. This is, by the way, unprecedented--Chavista students have never been allowed to speak personally with the presidents, managers or owners of any of the private, pro-opposition media in the country. But in the meantime, we get treated to some 20 minutes of oppo whining, overtalking of the channel's legal consultant (María Alejandra Díaz), and ear-torture about how horrible it is, how there's no freedom of speech, how Mario Silva (the host of the popular nightly program, La Hojilla) is calling for violence and should be taken off the air, etc., etc. ad nauseam.

Incidentally, Mario Silva does not engage in "violent discourse", as the oppo kid who hogs the camera above is insinuating. I've been following that show for quite some time, and never heard him say anything to the effect that there should be violence against the opposition. He does, however, not hesitate to point out when the oppos are being violent and/or calling for the death of the elected president:

Here, for example, he shows how Globovisión censors its own reporting when something unflattering to the opposition crops up--namely, a journalist named Oscar Yánez (with white mustache) who makes overt death threats against President Chávez during an opposition media forum. As soon as the talking heads realize what's going on, they get ordered to talk over him. Then, when a woman named Daniela Bergami, general manager of RCTV, gets up on the podium and politely chastises Yánez for his inappropriate remarks, again they cut her off. And then, in the screen behind the talking heads, you can see Yánez get up again, grab the mike from the next speaker, and unleash a barrage of (unheard) insults against her. When the producers of the show realize what's going on, they remove the forum from the screen altogether and replace it with the show logo.

And that's not the only thing the oppo media does; they also use the airwaves to create terror where none exists, by reporting "violence" that isn't actually happening. Sometimes, the end result is unexpectedly funny:

Here, host Nitu Pérez Osuna gets her ideological rug pulled out from under her by a spokeswoman for the private Andrés Bello Catholic University. Pérez Osuna claims that a helicopter belonging to the Venezuelan national guard was firing against the students; vice-rector Silvana Campagnaro denies this, saying that there have been helicopters overhead monitoring the situation, but no shots fired. Other than a few students in the infirmary recovering from exposure to tear gas, there are no injuries to report. Pérez Osuna has to change her tune to one of reassurance, instead of the panic she had set out to create. To her credit, she does it seamlessly!

And finally, here's a little something you're definitely not going to hear from the media up here:

...namely, oppo students thanking the management at evil, wicked, state propaganda channel VTV for receiving them and engaging in friendly, polite discussions.

I'd say they got more than enough freedom of speech there, wouldn't you?

January 24, 2010

ALBA solidarity at work in Haiti

Look who's not sitting on their hands--or letting the US dictate to them what aid can or can't get through...

The ALBA countries (Venezuela, Bolivia, etc.) are delivering their convoys through the neighboring Dominican Republic. Smart move, and one that's bound to smart (in the other sense of the word) for the wannabe re-colonizers of Haiti.

January 22, 2010

Piñera: schooled again!

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And this time, he gets spanked by a fellow Chilean (see above), one with actual governmental experience:

The Chilean minister of exterior relations, Mariano Fernández, recommended on Thursday that the president-elect, Sebastián Piñera, not give any opinions on international matters as long as his government is not yet installed. This after his exchange of harsh words with the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez.

"I have the impression that it is recommendable that the new government begin to give opinions on international subjects only once it is installed," said Fernández to journalists.

"Don't meddle with us...go govern Chile, do what you have to do there," said Chávez after Piñera criticized "the way in which he practices democracy and the economic model" which Chávez applies.

"I believe we should not expect judgments over the relations of the country in the period between the end of one government and the beginning of the next," Mariano Fernández said.

The minister emphasized that in this transition period, in which an executive will be chosen by the 10th of March, "it is better that the coming government hold off on giving opinions about international matters which are extremely sensitive until it is installed."

Translation mine.

Better listen and do what the good man says, dude...otherwise, Chile could find itself more isolated in the region than mere geography would dictate, and even before you take office.

January 20, 2010

Chavecito schools Piñera (and US Dems, too)

Watch the video, and you'll hear a young voice yelling "We love you!" She speaks for a lot of people...

And this is why we love him...

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, warned his Chilean counterpart, Sebastián Piñera, not to try to turn his country into another platform of attack against Venezuela, because "we don't meddle with the Chileans."

In a speech during the inauguration of the MetroCable cablecar system of Caracas, the president responded to the declarations of the new president-elect, who expressed his disapproval of the political projects underway in Venezuela.

"It's impossible for me to agree with him, he's a millionaire...we haven't meddled with the Chileans, but this new government should not meddle with us, either," said the Venezuelan president.

[...]

Chávez emphasized that "it is not very recommendable that a man so rich be president of a country, but the people of Chile know what they've done, and we respect that."

Piñera said yesterday that the differences between Chávez and himself "are profound and have to do with the way in which they conceive and practise democracy, the model of economic development, and many other things."

Translation mine.

See, Democrats to the south of me...THIS is how you do things if you want to win elections and keep winning. You stand up to rich right-wingers and their silly notions of how countries have to be run like businesses, and you keep standing up. Like Chavecito. You don't go caving in, running to the right, and falling on your collective ass. You do what the people who voted for you elected you to do. You JUST. STAND. UP.

January 17, 2010

Amazing! CNN reports positively on Cuban doctors, for a change

Finally, the Chicken Noodle Network reports something in a way that's not so chicken-noodly. Steve Kastenbaum shows Cuban and Cuban-trained Latin American medical crews at work, saving lives in Haiti. They were able to set up their field hospitals in very short order, thanks to the fact that Cuban healthcare has long been geared to providing emergency aid on a large scale; Cuba, like Haiti, is heavily prone to natural disasters, as well as the constant threat of invasion from just ninety miles offshore. They are also used to providing troops and medics to poor countries abroad, such as Angola. The fact that their doctors can provide quality care on a shoestring budget isn't news to me, or to Michael Moore, but it's apparently astonishing to CNN and their usual audience, who have few if any good impressions about Cuban medicine.

Now that the US is finally aware of how dedicated the Cubans really are to nonprofit medicine, will the Venezuelan oppos realize that the Cuban doctors treating the poor in THEIR country are for real?

(Thanks to my friend Corey for directing me to the video.)

PS: By way of contrast, look what El Duderino has found on the way the US is handling their "aid" mission. Leaves a lot to be desired compared to Cuba, no?

PPS: Also, Greg Palast is God.

January 14, 2010

Ah, that "civil society" of the Venezuelan opposition...

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Such class! Such manners! Such elegance and eloquence! Such incorruptible parliamentary decorum! Yes, this is the way Venezuela should be governed in the glorious future when it is finally free of that odious "21st Century Socialism", and these are just the people to get rid of that nasty-wasty dictator Chávez...

The elections for municipal-chamber directors in Lagunillas and Machiques, in the state of Zulia, became scenes of confrontation and fist-fighting between members of the parties Acción Democrática, Primero Justicia, COPEI and Un Nuevo Tiempo. All parties were members of the so-called Democratic Unity Committee, according to the Wednesday edition of the Diario VEA newspaper.

In Lagunillas, the brawl between members of Un Nuevo Tiempo and COPEI left 30 persons injured, and a tear-gas canister was launched by the firefighters of Ciudad Ojeda in order to force the evacuation of the building.

Two councillors of the COPEI party and the mayor, Eduin Pirela, of Acción Democrática, were injured in the fighting and were later taken to private clinics.

Similar things occurred in Machiques, where groups of Acción Democrática and Primero Justicia members squared off over a violation of internal regulations of debate, in which the AD members attempted to impose the nomination of one of their members.

These events took place amid calls for the fragmented Venezuelan opposition to maintain unity amongst themselves in order to win seats in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Translation mine.

Looks like they're totally onto a winning unity strategy there. Keep it up, oppos! I'm pullin' for ya. We're all in this together. Keep yer sticks on the ice...hahahahahahahahaha...

January 13, 2010

Haiti earthquake: Some early photos and video

Via Aporrea, two YouTubes. Some photos:

And some video:

Aporrea is also reporting that the UN chief-of-mission in Haiti, Hedi Annabi, has been killed in the 7.3 magnitude quake. The UN building (and that of MINUSTAH) has been destroyed, along with at least one hospital and a prison building (from which several inmates are reported to have escaped.)

Natural disasters hit Haiti harder than anyplace else on Earth because of its poverty; El Duderino reminds us of why Haiti is so poor in the first place, and why it is also so vulnerable to coups planned from just a few hundred miles offshore. (Coups which, incidentally, have disgraced my own home and native land, and shame me as a Canadian.)

In a way, the destruction of the MINUSTAH headquarters seems like poetic justice, since MINUSTAH was originally there to prop up a government that the people of Haiti did not elect, and overstayed its welcome considerably--and under protest. Its real mission is unclear, but its apparent mission is to make sure that the original elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, doesn't get back into office in any way, shape or form. Its stated mission was to distribute aid and fight crime, but it seems to have been complicit in its share of crime and has been less than effective in distributing aid--except to foreign NGOs, of which there is certainly no shortage in Haiti, whatever else is lacking.

And there is a lot more lacking in that little country now.

Meanwhile, Venezuela's response was quick and to the point: They sent doctors and are gathering non-perishable food, clothing, medicines, etc. Solidarity in action, rather than endless preachy words. No wonder the Haitians gave Chavecito a hero's welcome last time he showed up in person. They will again, I'll bet, when they're back on solid ground.

Seguid el ejemplo qué Caracas dió...

UPDATES: Some other Canadian content on this story. A Progressive Bloggers member is worried about her parents, who are currently in Haiti and unaccounted for. Another Canadian citizen in the country texted for help, and got it. Meanwhile, a Canadian nurse is confirmed to be among the dead.

Vargas Loser gets booed in Chile

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Shoulda stuck to what you were good at, Mario...

And he shoulda stayed on the left, too. Then maybe things like this wouldn't be happening to him now:

The heckling of writer Mario Vargas Llosa and the abrupt appearance of the sister of a Mapuche Indian killed by Chilean police marred the opening of the Museo de la Memoria, intended to honor victims of the late Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 dictatorship.

Presiding over Monday's ceremony was Chilean head of state Michelle Bachelet, who was imprisoned and tortured during the military regime.

She was accompanied by the other three presidents who have ruled Chile since the return of democracy - Patricio Aylwin, Eduardo Frei and Ricardo Lagos - along with numerous ministers and lawmakers.

Also present was Peruvian-born novelist Vargas Llosa, who has been in Santiago since last week as a guest of right-wing presidential candidate Sebastian Piñera, who has won the endorsement of the acclaimed writer.

Piñera will challenge Eduardo Frei next Sunday in a runoff.

"Get out, get out!" those seated near Vargas Llosa began to shout as he talked to reporters before the event began.

"In an electoral campaign the atmosphere always gets a little tense, but I have the impression that this is a small group and that most people are showing all the sophistication they should in such cases," Vargas Llosa said when asked about the heckling.

Fancy him talking about "sophistication" when the candidate who invited him is a disgusting Pinochet apologist. Yeah, fascism is so "sophisticated". That's why this pompous twat routinely shills for it in Venezuela; I don't suppose he's much different when it comes to Chile. (It bears repeating that Vargas Loser has hated democracy in Latin America ever since he lost a presidential election so badly in Peru. Voters aren't totally stupid, it seems.)

Of course, the neo-cons all love him. They're quite alone in that; no one else cares for sold-out turncoats. Least of all the Latin Americans (and particularly, the indigenous) whom he betrayed.

He deserves all the booing he gets, and then some.

January 12, 2010

Venezuela presents proof of US aerial incursions from Bonaire and Curaçao

Hmmmm. What's this?

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No, it's not a picture of Jay Jay the Jet Plane. You can probably figure that much out for yourself. It's no joke. But I'll give you a broad hint: This map, with radar tracings taken by the Venezuelan air force, figures prominently in the press conference below:

Story by Aporrea:

On Monday, the vice-president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Ramón Carrizález, presented proof to the citizens of Venezuela and the world that a military airplane from the United States, based in the Caribbean islands of Bonaire and Curaçao, violated Venezuelan airspace. This throws into disrepute the declarations of the ambassador of the Netherlands, who denied this grave instance of violation of international law.

Accompanied by commander-in-chief General Carlos Mata Figueroa, the Strategic Operations Commander, and General of Division Alexis Colina, the Integral Air Defence Commander of the Republic, Vice-President Carrizález said that after the delivery of the note of protest by Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro to diplomatic representatives of the US and Holland, the Dutch ambassador denied the incursion.

"And for this reason, we will show the radar tracings and play the conversation between [the control tower at] Maiquetía Airport and Curaçao, in order to demonstrate before the country and the world that Venezuelan airspace was violated by a warplane which invaded twice from Curaçao, and which was directed by special aircraft belonging to the United States Air Force, which controls these military planes," Carrizález explained.

Carrizález added that on Monday, Venezuela denied authorization to another US military plane, code number 1771, which attempted to ingress in the direction of the state of Falcón. In a change from the previous case, this time the pilot requested, by radio, permission to enter Venezuelan airspace, an unusual procedure by international norms.

"It's the same code number as that of the plane that intruded on the 8th. This time, the pilot requested entry and was denied. This plane was heading northward. It was denied entry because those co-ordinates take time and justification [to file], and because no foreign aircraft can enter our airspace any other way.

"We have demonstrated fully the violations of our airspace by US warplanes from Curaçao," said the vice-president. He added that up to now, there are at least 14 such illegal incursions on record, but due to the lack of radar systems in the past, they could not be documented as in these recent months.

Carrizález said that in 2008, the worst violation came to light, when an airplane left Curaçao, crossed the Caribbean sea and flew over La Orchila, a restricted military zone, and then left Venezuelan airspace, in an apparent provocation.

The vice-president said that on January 8, Venezuelan radars detected, around 1:55 pm, an airplane entering Venezuelan airspace with the electronic transport code number 1771, flying from Bonaire, which twice entered Venezuelan airspace without authorization of any kind.

In the first incursion, the air-traffic controller at Maiquetía communicated with the Control Tower on Curaçao, to ask about this aircraft, but there was no clear or precise response. This recording was presented by the Vice-President to journalists at a press conference.

"The Curaçao operator responded in an ambiguous manner, but in one moment he said that he thought it could be a Coast Guard plane," Carrizález said. "Later, the plane returned to Curaçao." The vice-president added that he wondered how a plane could depart from an airport in those islands and the authorities of Curaçao not know anything about it.

As well, during this first incursion, there was an AWAC plane operating nearby, a radar-equipped craft used by the US to direct war missions, a fact which proves that the pilot penetrated Venezuelan airspace fully aware of what he was doing.

"That plane had enough electronics, and was directed by the AWAC. For this reason, there is no possibility that the pilot was in error," said Carrizález.

Showing the locations on a map of the radar tracings of the two illegal incursions by the US airplane, Division General Alexis Colina showed that in the first instance, the pilot was approximately four miles inside of Venezuelan airspace, and in the second, he flew parallel to the sea boundary, but well within Venezuelan territory, before returning to base in Curaçao upon being intercepted by two Venezuelan F-16s out of Barquisimeto, which forced him to retreat.

"We cannot think of an incursion of this type as an error when the pilot flew for 18 minutes inside of Venezuelan airspace," the general said.

The tracings of the F-16s can also be seen as they fly over the area, defending territorial sovereignty and preventing another incursion.

"With these elements, we can confirm and demonstrate that they are producing incursions into our airspace in order to provoke and test our reactions. At any moment, this could give rise to an aggression," said Vice-President Carrizález. "For this reason, we denounce, with proof in hand, the incursions of warplanes based on the island of Curaçao."

Translation mine.

You can also hear the recorded transmissions between the Curaçao and Maiquetía control towers here, in the second segment of Earle Herrera's current-events show, Kiosco Veraz. (Highly recommended viewing!) It's quite clear that the Venezuelan air force sought clarification from the US operator on Curaçao as to what a US plane was doing in Venezuelan airspace. The operator is vague, and probably intentionally so, just as VP Ramón Carrizález says in the video at the top of this entry.

One thing is abundantly clear: This was no coast-guard flight, and those lame excuses are only being made because the US military has been busted big-time. Given the general pattern of US intrusions and deliberate provocations (14 flights--that's an awful lot of "mistakes" for a country with so much state-of-the-art equipment, not to mention the best-detailed maps of the region!), it's clear that someone is trying to generate a new Gulf of Tonkin incident, in order to turn Venezuela into the next Vietnam. And given that the US and Holland both have major oil interests in the land, it's not hard to see why.

So, now we can see that both the US and the Dutch government have egg on their faces. All the snotty lamestream news outlets can hereby expunge the words "alleged" and "accusation", cut the half-witted denials, and stop making it look like Chavecito is crazy. He's not. But I really have to question the judgment of those who keep sending these planes to invade Venezuelan airspace. Do they want to feel the firepower of those dandy new Sukhois on their ass? It sure smells that way.

I just pity the pilots who are being put through these inane paces. In their boots, I'd protest.

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:

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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...

January 5, 2010

Venezuela: Commie pinko national studio releases award-worthy film

And here's a sample of it:

That's "Zamora: Free Lands and Men", by Román Chalbaud, a Venezuelan fimmaker. Produced by the national studio, Villa del Cine. And a finalist for the Goya Prize.

Ezequiel Zamora is a 19th-century hero of liberation in Venezuela, one who continued the battle Simón Bolívar began, and one of the "three roots" of Bolivarian ideology as propounded by none other than Hugo Chávez (the other two being Bolívar and his friend/mentor, Simón Rodríguez). His rallying cry, as you can hear in the clip above, is "Tierras y hombres libres"--free lands and men.

Zamora's name is also attached to a Venezuelan peasant front dedicated to reclaiming unused arable lands stolen by oligarchs, and farming them collectively, as in the olden days. They in turn are part of a larger movement toward food sovereignty and self-sufficiency in Venezuela, which until recently had to import as much as 80 percent of its food--not because it lacked arable land or willing workers, but because of all the land grabbing by big owners who did nothing useful with it. Those who wanted to farm were shoved out, forced to either occupy inhospitable lands, or else emigrate to the cities, where they ended up in crowded, miserable slums.

Even today, the war Zamora fought for "free lands and men" is not over, as peasants are still being slaughtered by big land-owners, with the aid of imported Colombian paramilitaries--and in this context we can see why Chavecito considers that the biggest immediate menace to Venezuela hails from Colombia. Those paras are a big part of the problem, and they are more than happy to serve as mercenaries to anyone who can afford them. And who better than the big landowners, who stand to lose what they or their ancestors stole to the very popular land reform programs of you-know-who?

But what am I saying? Everyone knows Chavecito's just a crazy commie pinko, right? And this film is just more commie propaganda (portraying events that were still unfolding while Marx was busy in Europe, penning his manifesto)...right? Right?

(H/t Ceti Alpha, here.)

January 4, 2010

A Bolivarian communiqué from Holland

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The Bolivarian Circle of Holland expresses its concern over US bases in Curaçao--ostensibly for combatting drug production and smuggling, but plainly with other uses, especially since the Fourth Fleet has been mobilized by Dubya (and not recalled by Obama!) It should also be noted that Venezuela has been doing a much better job of drug interception within its own borders and waters than it ever did when the DEA was in country, US complaints to the contrary notwithstanding. Report from Aporrea:

The Bolivarian Circle of Holland shares the concern of President Hugo Chávez regarding the mobilization of US troops in Colombia and the rest of Latin America.

Today it was announced that the Dutch Antilles were preparing for increased military support to the United States. Curaçao already has US military bases under an anti-drug treaty in the region; a project which has not attained its objectives because it has not reduced the production of drugs, nor the cultivation of raw materials of drug production, nor drug smuggling.

This union between Curaçao, Holland and the United States only serves to increase imperialist war power in the region, creating a menace to progressive governments who are eradicating social injustice.

We are tremendously worried by this new menace. Regional peace is in danger, thanks to the irrational mobilization of US troops under the complicity of its allies.

The influence of the United States in military dictatorships of the past century was first discounted by the media and the allies of those dictatorships. History demands that the truth be told. US support for dictators was real. That fact was established even by the functionaries of the US itself from that period.

The beginning of the 21st century brings new threats of interference by the government of the United States. The 2002 coup d'état in Venezuela is an example of this. The installation of a civilian-military dictatorship in Honduras is another example of this interference. And the internationally-rejected blockade of Cuba is, as well, another show of imperialist interference by the United States in Latin America.

We add ourselves to the call for peace by President Hugo Chávez. We call on the government of Holland to choose peace and not war.

We also call on the European Parliament to begin an investigation into the military mobilization by US troops on the Latin American continent.

We call on the friends of the Bolivarian process to defend this socialist revolution, as well as mobilize for peace in Latin America.

"Let us unite and be invincible"--Simón Bolívar

Translation mine.

This entry, BTW, marks the first new category I've added to this blog for the New Year. It's called Going Dutch, and it will be about all things from the Netherlands, whether cheesy or (as in this case) patently not. I've noticed from my ClustrMap that I have quite a few readers from there, so let's hope they enjoy this new category.

December 28, 2009

Remember, you heard it here first

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"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?

Goodbye, Blue Monday...

Excuse me, the Internets have an announcement to make:

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Damn. I never even knew there WAS such a thing, and now it's been cancelled on me!

I think I need a drink.

Oh, and speaking of "need a drink", read this and weep in thy beer, O my friend and neighbor to the south of us:

Here are a few truths: First, we've been living in a one-dollar, one-vote corporatized democracy for a long time. If this is news to you, then you're probably also shocked to learn that the U.S. Constitution, by awarding two senators to each of what H.L. Mencken called "the cow states" -- no insult to the cows in my own barn -- was deliberately crafted to make fundamental change difficult. Who made "moderates" like Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Joe Lieberman of Aetna mini-presidents? Alas, the founding fathers did.

Living in such a polity, anybody who thought entrenched interests like the insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital industries weren't going to find ways to make money off healthcare reform probably wasn't paying attention back at the beginning, when Obama said that despite the abstract appeal of a Canadian-style single-payer system, it was a political non-starter.

Really, Gene? Really, Barack? Our single-payer system up here, which is popular with nine out of ten of us, and which could bring down even a majority Conservative government if it ever foolishly tried to gut it, is just an "abstract" one? You "free", "independent" Yanks are that powerless against the corporations down there? Or are you just that cowardly? What do you have a government for, if not to put a leash on those snarling, dog-eating dogs, and muzzle them?

Oh, I get it. The dogs are the ones holding the leash in the United States of Amnesia, and with a wad of Benjamins, they muzzle YOU.

Spare us the old Soviet Union jokes, we've heard them all before.

Good thing Tommy Douglas is a-moldering in his grave, or he'd chew your asses up so badly, you'd never sit down again. He faced as much pressure from the forces of "free market medicine" as any US president ever could, but he didn't back down. Even when doctors went on strike in Saskatchewan, he just brought in doctors from elsewhere who were willing to take up the slack until those misguided MDs realized their mistake and came into the fold.

In Venezuela, it was so bad that Chavecito brought in Cuban doctors, as did Evo in Bolivia. Both of them had the gonads to go up against the oligarchs of their respective countries and do it, just as Tommy Douglas had the gonads to do here.

So, Barack, where are YOUR 'nads at?

And sorry, Gene, but imperfection is NOT a start...except to an even bigger débâcle down the road. Forcing fellow-citizens to buy insurance they couldn't afford in the first place is not going to provide them with the care they need. It will, however, help ensure that they can't afford a house, or a car, or maybe even food and clothing. All of which they're gonna need before they need a doctor or a hospital.

No, this gradualist approach is NOT going to lead to gradual improvements. It's going to lead to people avoiding care for as long as they can, until an emergency drives them to it.

And you can never underestimate the stupid stubbornness, or the stubborn stupidity, of a conservative, either. They WILL hold out until an emergency, or death, whichever comes first. They will spend the duration of their nasty, brutish and short lives muttering under their breath about how hard they work for their money, and about the dangers of relying on Big Government.

And for once they may be right, although not the way in which they think they are. In the US, government is beholden to Big Money. All US governments, Democratic or Republican, are conservative that way. Even FDR didn't make good on his early impulse to de-fang Wall Street! And a government beholden to moneyed interests is a government doomed to the distrust of its own citizens no matter their political affiliations. That distrust, of course, is richly deserved, because the citizens are the ones who will be left out in the cold. Unless, mirabile dictu, the government grows a spine and tells Big Money to go screw. And understands that it will have to fight--REALLY fight--for what's right.

Tommy Douglas saw that coming when he took the plunge in Saskatchewan, and did what the progressives of that province elected him to do. No gradualism for him; he knew what was right. He didn't go halfsies, and neither should anyone else whose intention it is to provide universal healthcare.

Now, I REALLY need a drink.

December 26, 2009

Since when does Santa's sleigh come with missiles?

armed-predator.jpg

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 25, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito's Christmas message

And there's a new "Baby Jesus" being born in Venezuela this holiday season--a mission to promote maternal and child health.

The original Jesus would approve.

Feliz Chavidad, mis amigos.

PS: Here's a little something for everyone--a gift of music from a gifted young Venezuelan woman who died recently, much too soon. But she left a legacy worth keeping. RIP, Solimar Cadenas.

December 21, 2009

Spies and lies flying over Venezuela

Chavecito denounces the unmanned US drone spotted flying over Venezuela, clearly launched from Colombia.

It's worth noting how he (and his audience) stress that this is not a fight against Colombia, because there is a large Colombian immigrant community in Venezuela, and there are close ties between the two countries. The fight is against the sender of the spy plane, and the Uribe government which allowed this blatant violation of sovereignty.

And no, he's not paranoid. Eva Golinger reports that anti-Venezuela activities are escalating.

There is also evidence that the Dutch government is also involved since it granted permission for the US Fourth Fleet (which Obama has not recalled!) to use bases in the Dutch Antilles, lying just off the Venezuelan coast. Why would the Dutch government do such a thing? Three words, people: Royal Dutch Shell. Do you seriously think one of the world's largest oil companies doesn't stand to profit immensely from conflict with one of the countries where it's doing business, and on terms not so favorable to itself anymore? Shell is still butthurt over the back taxes it was forced to pay if it wanted to go on doing business. It's also not above murdering anyone who gets in its way. Does anyone seriously believe the Dutch government would not jump at the chance to force unwanted regime change upon Venezuela? They've done so in the past. I think you can guess why.

That's why we should all be very skeptical when we hear the Dutch goverment acting all injured about things like this. It is not the injured party at all. It is an aggressor. As is the Colombian government, which is openly corrupt--and, like the Dutch, stands to profit from its own prostration to US and corporate interests.

And that's why we have this ultra-cynical campaign of spying, crying, flying and lying going on over Venezuela.

Any questions?

December 20, 2009

Short 'n' Stubby: Copen-ragin'

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The climes, they are a-changin'...but denial ain't no river in Egypt, Cleo. A random sampling of stupidities about the just-ended summit in the city of the Little Mermaid (who will be underwater soon if we don't stop this insanity):

Sarah Palin: Twit or tweet? Both.

Meet Gregory D. Lee, another conservatard douchebag who would probably love to suck Sawah's perma-tanned toes. Assuming he ever gets his own foot out of his mouth first.

"Free market analysis" also haz Teh Stoopid. But what did you expect from the genii who got us into this whole mess in the first place?

The Amurrican Stinker wakes up and smells the sulfur, but doesn't realize that a lot of the fumes are coming from itself.

Roger L. Simon, the fool in the fedora, has a medieval mindset. This, of course, comes as a surprise to no one.

Surprisingly, a Filipino bizmedia page gives Copenhagen the best and fairest coverage I've seen so far, at least in English. It doesn't even call Chavecito a "dictator", like all the other bizrags like to do. Dare we hope?

Deseret News thinks natural gas is some kind of panacea for saving the US economy, smashing OPEC and bringing "democracy" to Venezuela. Hi, I'm the Queen of Sheba.

One good thing about all these morons with their heads in the sand: When the sea levels rise, they'll be the first to drown. With any luck, we can then get to work on cleaning up the shit-pile they left behind.

December 18, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Heating up Copenhagen

Denmark has come down in the world a bit since it stood up to protect the Jews during Nazi times. Now it's become more than a little Nazified itself, thanks to its happy joining in the War on Terra (and the eager crapagandistic participation of the Jyllands-Posten, that bastion of hateful, unmitigated bullshit.)

But it's not totally hopeless. There was a summit on climate change there recently, well attended by activists (including the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, no less). There was also a cool prank by the Yes Men. Those were the good bits.

And the bad? Well, the peaceful protests turned into riots at the predictable moment the stormtroopers showed up to bust heads. The violence was on the part of the cops, not the activists, and CBC had the decency to report it as such. (Anarkismo also has some good analysis.) Still, that part sucked. Most of the world leaders who showed up (late!) and then did nothing also sucked.

The only ones I can think of who didn't are these two, because they stood with the protesters rather than toadying to the usual suspects:

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Look at the faces of the journos. They know they caught the good guys. Evo and Chavecito are the ones that matter; they're the ones determined to set an example. Anyone lucky enough to be in the same airspace as these two, caught the hot ones and heard words worth publishing.

The rest, poor sods, just heard a lot of hot air.

UPDATE, 3:20 pm: Chavecito got doubleplusbadass with the organizers, telling them to throw tear gas if they wanted, he and Evo are giving their press conference--unplugged, if necessary. That's right--pay 'em back for that cheap 45-minute stunt they pulled at the airport the other day, guys!

Doubleplusgood: Evo got applause from Danish social movements. That's one thing NOT rotten in Denmark right now...

UPDATE #2: 4:48 pm: Chavecito's blockbuster speech translated, here.

December 16, 2009

How Venezuela sees Obama, part II

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No word from Aporrea on where this mural was painted, but apparently it's also from downtown Caracas. Like I said earlier, gotta work on that image...

And if you can't spot the reason the Venezuelans are so unimpressed, let Aunt Bina help you. Holiday jeers to the Wall St. Urinal for that blatantly racist bullcrap about the "Venezuelan military-industrial complex". What's one crappy Kalashnikov factory when you're sitting in the country whose own arsenal is bigger than that of the next dozen countries combined? And who you tryin' to kid with this "dangerous for Asia" shit? Your country is not just the biggest global menace there is, it's the ONLY one. And it's doing nothing to improve that image. Especially in Afghanistan--which, last time I looked, was a pretty sizable chunk of Asia.

Funny how the man just picked up that Nobel and still doesn't know what the hell to do now that he's got it...

December 13, 2009

Headline Howler: Ha ha ha--I'm sorry, what did you say again?

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I couldn't hear you over the sound of my own laughter. I thought you said something like:

US seeks 'positive' dialogue with Venezuela

That couldn't be right. As far as I know, no one is seeking dialogue, only trying to dictate to Venezuela "the way things are supposed to be done". Dialogue, you see, implies listening-to, not just talking-at. And we all know just how good Washington is at the former as compared to the latter...

Perhaps someone at the Laredo Sun realized this, because that news article is no longer up, and the only thing you get if you clicky the linky is an error message. Which is also quite the howler when you think about it...

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.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Just plane great

Peanut butter and chocolate: Two great tastes that taste great together.

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Chavecito and Sukhoi plane, celebrating 89 years of military aviation in Venezuela: same thing.

December 5, 2009

Economics for Dummies: What Chavecito's bank moves really mean

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"Let's get outta here, buddy--now Chávez is starting in on us, the honest bankers!"

And for those who wanna know what they're referring to, here ya go. Enjoy!

December 3, 2009

Chávez says basta to bad bankers; warns of banker-generated coup

Video in Spanish. Aporrea has more:

President Hugo Chávez called upon bank customers yesterday to maintain calm and not give in to rumors which, according to him, are meant to generate a run on the banks with the end purpose of "toppling Chávez".

"Pay no attention to those attacks, because what they're trying to do is create alarm [...] It all came out on the Internet, by phone, and so on. They're looking for what's known as a run on the banks, and they think they'll topple Chávez with that. I repeat, the only thing that's going to fall here is the private banking system, not Chávez. Don't be fooled, it will backfire on them," said the president during the graduation ceremony for the eighth cohort of Mission Ribas, broadcast from the Teresa Carreño theatre.

Chávez reminded listeners that the government is acting "against a group of banks whose owners could not show where they had gotten all that money. Right up to now they couldn't do it, and that's their job," he said, referring to the liquidated Banco Canarias and BanPro, and the also bailed-out Bolívar and Confederado banks.

Chávez warned that "we have another banking chain on our radar [...] and you may be sure that if I'm obliged to intervene in all the private banks of Venezuela, I'll do it. Let there be no doubt."

Chávez called on private bankers to take care and comply with the law. "I'm keeping an eye on them, because private banking has degenerated into a chain of mechanisms and instead of doing their jobs, the banks are specializing in financial speculation."

The president decreed an end to the hegemony of private banks, and announced the creation of a "real public financial system", although he did not give more details.

Translation mine; linkage added.

Well, let's see if Chavecito doesn't improvise something nifty on the fly. He's very good at that; the ALBA, among other things, was an improvisation of his, which he came out with at the spur of the moment during a speech about the need to kill the ALCA (the Spanish acronym of the FTAA, or Free Trade Area of the Americas) during the 2005 summit at Mar del Plata, Argentina. ALCA is now officially DOA, so we know he wasn't talking out his ass on that one. (Sorry, Otto, but you're a little off base when you say the man doesn't do finance well. He does; he just doesn't do it the capitalist way. He certainly knew how to kill a bad done deal dead!)

Swami 'Bina predicts that Chavecito will probably turn the recuperated banks into credit unions once the depositors get their looted money back. Meaning, citizens will be actual shareholders and managers of their own cash, instead of just victims "customers" like they've been until now. If they can do it with local water councils and co-op businesses, they should be able to do it with banks, no problemo.

She also predicts that Chavecito will stand firm, and it will be the bankers who finally back down when they see he means business. And the bucks-to-bolivars exchange rates will drop right back to their old levels when that happens (and the warned-of putsch doesn't).

BTW: That other man in the video is Jorge Giordani, Chavecito's planning minister. This is how Swami 'Bina comes by her assertion that Chavecito is serious this time. Giordani is a serious man, and he's been Chavecito's right hand on a lot of key things. Look for him to be heading up the committee to get 'er done.

Just for fun, and further proof, here's another video:

...in which Chavecito puts his childhood business experience as a papaya-candy seller to good illustrative use.

We'll see who's more right on this one, Otto or me...all in good fun, of course. This won't be about money, but just to see who's the better prognosticator. Get your turban on, amigo!

PS: Further interesting viewing here. Mario Silva dissects it all rather nicely. David Icke you can ignore if you like, or just take him with a grain of salt. But Mario's analysis is the real thing, and it's especially good in the second segment, where he rips El Matacuras a new one.

November 30, 2009

Exclusive! New drug developed in Gringolandia!

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Its commercial name, in English, is Idongivadam, and it's apparently related to Damnitol and Fukitol. According to Globoterror,

It is made from the extract of a plant grown on the island of Borneo, and mixed with opium from liberated Afghanistan and a tiny dose of supermarijuana from various domestic plantations in the states of Ohio and Arkansas.

Side effects include slight dizziness, pains in the neck, excessive intestinal gas, post-coital hallucinations, talkativeness, uncontrolled laughter, nightmares, urinary inhibition, heart palpitations, pain in the left arm, oppression of the chest, pre-infarct, post-infarct and rigor mortis.

Just the thing for the oppos in Venezuela and Bolivia who have trouble accepting the will of the uppity peasants. Hooray!

November 29, 2009

Short 'n' Stubby: All Honduras, all day long...

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Most of these links are in Spanish, so if you don't understand, don't worry. I'll précis them very precisely...

Mel sez these illegitimate elections are a farce and that "the people will say no to the dictatorship". He also sez that the country is "militarized". But he's just the legitimate president who didn't get to finish out his term because of a nasty-wasty military putsch, so what does he know?

Chavecito sez it's all a farce too. Also sez the coup was planned in the US, and that all of Obama's talk of hope 'n' change was hypocrisy as far as LatAm is concerned. But he's just Mel's ALBA ally, the legitimate president of Venezuela who fought back a nasty-wasty military putsch, planned in the US, in 2002, so what does he know?

Mel's daughter, Hortencia, sez she's not surprised that the US is supporting this armed electoral farce. But she's just "La Pichu", the daughter of the legitimate president who didn't get to finish out his term because of a nasty-wasty military putsch, so what does she know?

Latin American press agency Prensa Latina sez "elections" under a military dictatorship are a bad precedent. Also that Mel sez the military betrayed him by taking orders from a "very voracious elite", which controls the congress (that's where Gorilletti comes in; he's just a crappy congressman). Also that indie candidate Carlos H. Reyes has dropped out, refusing to participate so as not to legitimize the coup. "No Mel, no election", basically. But he's just a candidate with integrity, so what does he know?

Venezuelan press agency ABN sez Gorilletti's thugs violently repressed a peaceful march today in San Pedro Sula. Honduran reporter Daisy Bonilla denounced the beatings and tear-gassings. But she just lives there and has to brave this kind of repression every day, so what does she know?

Oh, and here's some pix 'n' video of that. Whaddya know?

ABN also sez that voter absenteeism has now reached more than 50%. Let the people decide!--and anyway, what do they know?

Patria Grande sez that 800 US "experts" and as many as 5000 reservists are working the "election". Also that some 10,000 tear-gas grenades and 5000 launchers for same have been deployed so the people can decide freely and without a hitch. But of course, it's not a "democracy" without a heavy gringo/military presence. I keep forgetting. What would I know? I only live in a country where this shit never goes down on election day.

Al Giordano of Narco News sez state employees were forced (at gunpoint? wouldn't surprise me at this rate) to attend a "campaign rally". Also that human rights workers from abroad have been constantly subjected to menaces and surveillance by the military, and have been observing consistent, systematic abuses. En inglés, semi-liveblogged. Enjoy! (Muchas gracias, Big Al @ BoRev.)

TeleSur sez the Honduran resistance is denouncing "menaces, captures and raids". Also that the streets are anything but festively electoral. But they're only the democratic citizen resistance against the nasty-wasty military putsch, so what would they know?

In Brazil, Lula sez he's not gonna play nice. Ain't gonna rethink his government's position, and certainly ain't gonna recognize the outcome, no matter what. But his embassy only gave shelter to the legitimate president who was ousted in a nasty-wasty military putsch, so what does he know?

YVKE Mundial sez 65% abstention, not representative. Whaddya know, Mel was right--the people said no.

And yet, according to BoRev's liveblogging, there is now a new "president". Bloomie sez it was "peaceful", but they never left the oligarchic neighborhoods, so they really wouldn't know. Auntie Bina wonders what drugs Bloomie's reporter was on when he filed that dreck. Probably the same hallucinogens as these obscurantist assclowns. Surely not the tear gas that still hangs thick over Tegucigolpe...

So, what can we gather from all this? Basically, all the English-language whore media got this farce deliberately and dreadfully wrong. Who got it right? The World Socialist Web Site. Bill Van Auken predicted a gunpoint election, and he nailed it. Call me a commie, but I've seen the pix. The man knows his stuff.

Auntie Bina predicts more protests, and more violent repression, still to come, because the nasty-wasty military putsch isn't really over, it's just changed the face of its figurehead. Go ahead, tell me there is something I don't know.

November 26, 2009

Luladinejad!

Pepe Escobar goes on a real tear with the Ahmadinejad visit to Brazil:

And as usual, he nails it.

The whore media? Still clueless...

Oh noes! Lula says nice things about Iran, too!

And what things they are...

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva plunged into Middle East conflicts today, saying Iran has a "decisive role to play" in the region after a three-hour meeting with its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

With Ahmadinejad seated beside him in the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Brasilia, Lula said Iran can help heal divisions among Palestinians, as he expressed support for a "viable and dignified Palestinian state" to be established alongside a "secure and sovereign Israel." Ahmadinejad has called for the destruction of Israel and questioned the Holocaust.

"I work for the building of peace in the world," Lula said. "I defend peace in the Middle East. I defend the Palestinian state and that all may live in harmony."

[...]

"It won't work to leave Iran isolated," Lula said. "If Iran is an important actor in this strife, it's important for someone to sit with Iran, to talk with Iran."

Lula reiterated that the UN should lead peace negotiations in the Middle East after saying last week that the U.S. is responsible for the crisis.

In his radio address, Lula said he'll seek to stage a soccer game between Brazil's national team and a joint Israel- Palestine team to help further the peace process.

"I've had a dream for the past three years, to organize a peace game in a neutral stadium, of a mixed team," Lula said. "This would be an extraordinary achievement for Brazil and, above all, a very important sign for peace."

Auntie 'Bina is hereby bracing herself for the shitstorm of "Lula bad, Lula terrorist, Lula islamofascist" which is sure to come any minute now...

Any...

minute...

now...

Well? It's been three days. Is no one going to slag Lula for pulling a Chavecito?

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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 24, 2009

Wow, who knew?

Chavecito is a LOLcat!

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(Actually, this doesn't surprise me a bit. He's a Leo. We're born hams.)

November 20, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: A song of solidarity

"Bases of Infamy"--a beautiful statement against war and imperialism!

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 9, 2009

How Venezuela sees Obama

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This mural, on Bolívar Avenue in downtown Caracas, says it all: Obama is a toy of the imperialists, "totally manipulable".

Better work on that image, Barack...and no, a PR campaign won't cut it. These people aren't stupid!

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!

November 2, 2009

Venezuela, Peru: Compare and contrast...

...the way they treat their indigenous:

This 24-minute documentary (in Spanish) concerns an incident among the Yukpa in the Sierra de Perijá. You can read an English account about it here, in Venezuelanalysis.

What struck me about this video is not so much what happens in it, as what doesn't happen. The soldiers of the Venezuelan army and national guard show up, along with officers of the federal criminal-investigative police (CICPC--the Venezuelan equivalent of the FBI, roughly.) The investigation into the shootings seems to have gotten bungled somewhat, and a cacique (chief) was apparently detained by mistake, but what's really notable is that no further violence breaks out, even when members of the community confront the uniformed men with machetes. The arguments put forth by the Yukpa are vehement and emotional, but they don't escalate into a more serious conflict. There seems to be some sort of attempt at respectful, constructive dialogue going on--uneven, but it's an effort. The soldiers don't repress the indigenous with gunfire; the police don't round everyone up and disappear them arbitrarily. While the situation is not a total victory for human rights, it is a mark of real progress that the repression of the Fourth Republic is not in evidence here.

And for some real perspective on how things have progressed (and continue to progress) in Venezuela, why not compare this incident to the current situation in Peru? You can follow one particular case--that of Hunt Oil, currently illegally encroaching on indigenous territory--here at Otto's blog, or here at El Duderino's. Both are keeping a running tally of what promises to become a most explosive situation, with echoes of another recent massacre of Peruvian indigenous people--that of Bagua. You'll note that the Peruvian government doesn't hesitate to send out the troops to fire indiscriminately on the indigenous, nor to repress protests, however legitimate and peaceful, with deadly violence.

Somehow, this comparison makes you think, no? Or at least, it should. Next time you hear another ignoramus pontificating about how "fascist" and/or "communist" Venezuela has gotten over the past ten years, just bear in mind that it's not the Venezuelan government killing indigenous people. Unlike in that oh-so-"democratic" Peru, where everything is apparently for sale--including virgin rainforest territory that is supposed to be protected from the depredations of the gringo. And when it comes to actual fascists facing criminal prosecution in Venezuela, it should be noted that Peru doesn't hesitate to harbor them.

Why the Peruvian government favors foreign criminals (who contribute nothing materially or culturally) over the rights of innocent natives (who do contribute, in a major way) is a mystery I have yet to hear convincingly explained--just as I have yet to hear any legitimate proof that Venezuela has taken a turn for the authoritarian!

November 1, 2009

Dame Pa' Matala violently attacked in Aragua

This just in...

In the early morning hours on Sunday, the members of the musical group Dame Pa' Matala were victims of an act of violence, when four armed men assaulted the vehicle in which they were travelling after leaving last night's concert, "A Song for the People", in La Carlota, Caracas.

[...]

Guitarist William Alvarado told Radio Nacional de Venezuela (RNV) that the incident occurred in Tejerías, in the state of Aragua, where the vehicle was hit by bullets.

Translation mine.

This band is strongly Chavista, so it may be an act of political violence or intimidation. They are well known for their appearances on La Hojilla.

More later, as more facts become known.

October 30, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: So, about that "good left/bad left" thing...

...I'm sorry, what were you saying again, O ye chumps of the bizmedia and State Dept.?

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Looks to me like Chavecito and Lula are on the same page. Duh, maybe that's because they ARE? The latter was in Venezuela today, joining his big red buddy on a visit to a socialist development centre in Anzoátegui. The two also harvested soybeans together, as befits the leaders of two agrarian countries. And the entry of Venezuela into Mercosur is also a done deal, thanks to Lula.

Good left...bad left...one more artificial dichotomy bites the dust. They're BOTH of the left.

And blue-eyed whitey better not forget it.

October 28, 2009

Uruguay: Lacalle loses, but...

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Pedro Bordaberry, the OTHER right-wing bastard in Uruguay's recent presidential campaign. Would you want this son of a dictator on your side, if you were going to a second round?

Thanks to my friend Anthony, a.k.a. Malmö Blue, for alerting me to this disgusting story in Uruguay's El Pais:

The leader of Vamos Uruguay, Pedro Bordaberry, explained today that given the conditions in Parliament, the best thing would be for the next president to be Luis Alberto Lacalle: "This forces us to think, for the sake of responsibility. I'm not talking about a 'Pink Party' or of the 'bogeyman' of the Broad Front. The country comes first."

In an interview given to the radio station El Espectador, Bordaberry spoke of his fear that if the elections result in a win for José Mujica, it would mean a majority of Parliament and the Executive Power in his hands.

Bordaberry said the situation worries him even more because Mujica is "the most voted-for man in his party and his spouse, after Astori [his running mate], is the third." This means that all the power would be in Mujica's hands.

"Is it good for any one person to have all the power in the country? I don't believe so. Thomas Jefferson said, in the name of Monticello, that the history of democracy is the history of the limitation of power."

Translation mine.

The "Pink Party" he's referring to is a mixture of Blancos ("Whites") and Colorados ("Reds"), the two old parties. Blancos are more conservative and Colorados traditionally more liberal, but as I noted earlier, they're all oligarchs; it's a question of degree, not kind. In the end, the oligarchs all like to band together, as it appears they're about to do. (The one hand washes the other, as my German mom would say.) Bordaberry is officially throwing his support behind a man who, under the old system, would be his bitterest opponent, but who is now a bed-buddy since the Broad Front has grown to full stature and monkey-wrenched the whole thing!

What's really disgusting about this slick and treacherous move, however, is Bordaberry's past. This is not just any Blanco politician; Bordaberry's dad was once the military dictator of Uruguay, and a prosecutor is calling for 30 years' imprisonment for the old man, on the grounds of human rights violations. Which Lacalle, the man he's supporting, minimizes. Funny dat!

And funnier still it is that someone whose own father enjoyed a taste of unlimited power for so many years, is suddenly taking leaves from the book of Thomas Jefferson. I wonder what the man so "honored" would say to that!

I may never know what Jefferson would say, but I know what I can say to all this: it's going to go with the Blancos and Colorados the way it did with Acción Democrática and COPEI in Venezuela. This move is so going to discredit both parties that they will be reduced to rump status, as AD and COPEI have been since Chavecito was elected.

Back in '98, the Venezuelan oppos, who were then the ruling class, had what they thought was a surefire winner--a former Miss Venezuela and Miss Universe, Irene Sáez. She ran under her own banner, but COPEI, thinking she could drag it back into power on her then-considerable coattails, threw its support behind her--and overnight, her popularity evaporated. It was, as Venezuela expert Richard Gott called it, "a poisoned chalice". It also didn't help that Miss Universe was still talking too much like a beauty contestant, in sugary platitudes and silly generalities, while Chavecito was talking like a smart politician, in particulars such as constitutional reform and a radical, long-hoped-for change for Venezuela!

Obviously, the Uruguayan oligarchy can smell what the old Tupamaro has got cooking. They fear he's another Chávez; who knows, maybe he is! More immediately worrisome, as Bordaberry's words above indicate, is that he's popular. That's one clear point in common with the 'Cito right there. It's his popularity, not some Jeffersonian bastard drivel about unlimited power (srsly, who has it nowadays?) that they really fear.

Bordaberry is the poison in the Uruguayan chalice, and I rather hope his stupidities end up throwing the race to Mujica, who should be the winner already.

October 26, 2009

Uruguay: Pepe Mujica wins, but...

...something still smells like the same old, same old all over again:

The candidate for the Broad Front, who won 47% of the votes yesterday but could not become president and must now fight a second round, criticized the elections system in his country, where a candidate has to win fifty percent of the vote, plus one, in order to win. "We have to go on struggling," Mujica said.

In an interview with Radio 10, Mujica said that "in some parts of the world, a party with 47% wins the elections, but in Uruguay, no."

Mujica considers that "we have a right-wing bloc divided into two parties who help each other when the chips are down."

Translation mine:

Ah yes, the old Blanco/Colorado oligarchy, that's governed Uruguay for almost as long as there have been elections in that land. That's what he's referring to, and undoubtedly it's true. When the same two parties keep swapping rule but nothing really changes, you know you're dealing with a duopoly. And when the duopoly gives way to a military dictatorship, as it did during the 1970s, you know that it was a farce all along.

José "Pepe" Mujica, who fought against both the duopoly and the dictatorship at various times during his Tupamaro days, undoubtedly knows this well-scripted farce by heart. He may be 74 and look like a nice old grandfather now, but he hasn't forgotten what he took up arms against when he was a young man. While the weapon has changed (it's now ballots, not bullets), the struggle has not.

And he notes, quite rightly, that second rounds are not necessary everywhere; right here in Canada, the latest government took much less than 47% of the ballots in the last two elections. Harpo would kill for anything approaching Pepe's degree of popularity, probably because it would give him carte blanche to ram through something utterly unpopular (such as this) over the loud objections of a very clear majority of Canadians! All that's holding him back is that he hasn't got a majority of 50%, much less 50 + 1. And while we're not a duopoly to the extent that Uruguay for the longest time was, we're not far from it, either; we've got a long-time farce of Liberal vs. Conservative swapping going on, although it's acrimonious rather than buddy-buddy as in Uruguay. Still, at times it's hard to tell which is which, and that's never good.

But one thing we don't have, which Uruguay does, is that burden of the need for a clear majority in order to form a government. It's a burden which stacks the deck in favor of established parties, and makes it harder for a leftist coalition like the Frente Amplio (Mujica's party, or more accurately, parties) to gain a foothold--not that a first-past-the-post system necessarily makes anything easier, as we up here know only too well. Either system clearly favors the oligarchs, and unless a leftist with true mass appeal breaks out in a big way, as in Venezuela and Bolivia, well--we're stuck.

Meanwhile, in Uruguay, a second round--totally unnecessary, except for keeping up appearances (and tensions) will go down on November 29. It's practically a foregone conclusion that Pepe Mujica will win, because his opponent is a truly loathsome old oligarch and an apologist for the dictatorship. But it's not a "clear majority", so the very farce that Pepe fought against as a young man is perpetuating itself--and inadvertently proving that he was right all along.

Ironically, had he moved further to the left, instead of trying to make a play for the "mushy middle" (which always goes to the conservatives, when all's said, out of cowardice), he might have gotten the outright majority and then some on the first round, as Chavecito did in Venezuela, ten years ago. Venezuela was deeply embroiled in a long-term crisis, starting in the mid-1980s. Uruguay isn't there yet. But if the global economic crisis deepens, as I suspect it will, and foreign investments end up sacking it as they have in the past, we may well see a shift at last. And then perhaps Pepe Mujica may have to reconsider his "reformist" tendencies and become a real revolutionary once more. And then we may end up seeing some truly hilarious backpedalling from people like the morons at the Wall Street Urinal, who felt the need to recast Mujica--obviously no neoliberal--in the most capitalist-friendly light possible, just to keep up the artificial dichotomy between the "good" left and the "bad". Which, if the video below has anything to say, is a farce, too:

Mujica, far from wanting to distance himself from Chavecito, wants to learn more from him. Can you blame the man? Nothing succeeds like success, and Chavecito knows it well. You can bet he'll be helping Mujica steer a better path after the 29th of next month. And when he does, it will throw a puck in the Wall Street Urinal--and any other media cloaca that burbles happy horseshit about how neoliberalism is poised to make a comeback.

October 24, 2009

Why Chavecito isn't worried

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(Just so's ya know, the above is a photoshop. That's not Chavecito's body, and those lily-white paws are definitely not his hands!)

What...him worry? Nahhhh. Why not? Hmmmm...maybe it's because the big handsome guy has nothing to worry about, and he knows it?

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, today dismissed the results of surveys which show a supposed drop in his popularity over the last few months and asserted that he would win re-election in the 2012 elections.

During an official ceremony, the president said that "they (the opposition) have already begun; they're fighting a lot, for sure. Of course, they want to be deputies now, and many want to be presidents, so they go around telling stories, and now they're saying they'll win out over Chávez in 2012."

Chávez dismissed the findings of the opposition's polling firms, which claimed that between August and October, the popularity of the Venezuelan government dropped nearly 20 points, from 60 to 42% approval, due to the citizenry's rejection of socialist measures.

The head of state laughed at the "party" the opposition threw over certain opinion polls which claimed that his popularity had dropped over the last two months.

"They're already campaigning, and they say I'm campaigning. Fine, it's true, my campaign never ends. I began on February 4, 1992 (with the failed uprising against the government of Carlos Andés Pérez) and I'll end it on the day they bury me," Chávez said.

The president bases his confidence that he will be elected to a third term on the fact that while the opposition is supported by capitalists and the wealthy, his government is bringing in socialism "which frees the people, the majorities, from slavery."

Translation mine.

Chavecito isn't worrying for other reasons, too. A key one being the fact that the survey firms he's referring to have the oppos' stinkum all over them:

"Alfredo Keller & Associates and Hinterlaces are briefcase-toting enterprises, totally disreputable, and a laughing-stock for the vulgar manipulation they've committed about Venezuelan political reality for the last 10 years in the interests of the US State Department."

So says Carlos Sierra, co-ordinator of mobilizations and events in Caracas for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), adding that the said survey firms should be investigated by legal authorities.

"These private companies that take opinion polls in the Caracas Country Club district, should be held responsible before the Venezuelan justice system, and explain where they get these numbers whose purpose is to deceive the population--an objective they keep achieving with less frequency every time," Sierra said.

These companies blatantly violate the constitution of the republic, Sierra asserts, and for this reason, the PSUV is calling on the Prosecutor-General and the National Assembly to open a legal investigation into their activities.

"in contrast to what these companies announced in their latest manipulations, the popularity of Chávez is holding steady around 60%, according to the Venezuelan Institute of Data Analysis (IVAD), Encuestadora Siglo XXI, and even Datanálisis, which is linked to the opposition sectors," Sierra said.

IVAD and Datanálisis emphasized, in their latest opinion polls, published in September, levels of 57.9% and 57.3% support, respectively, for the leadership of president Hugo Chávez Frías.

Hinterlaces and Alfredo Keller forget that the president's leadership rests on revolutionary governance, expressed in socio-economic programs aimed at improving the lot of millions of Venezuelans who were marginalized by neoliberal politics, the same which these firms defend, Sierra says.

"Not for nothing is the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela among the first five countries on the planet with the highest rate of sustained growth, according to the United Nations," Sierra recalls. He is referring to Venezuela's Human Development Index, which has grown in a sustained manner since 2003, despite hardships caused by certain opposition actions, such as the coup d'état of 2002 and the petroleum-industry sabotage of 2002-3.

In the Human Development Index, which takes into account levels of education, health and economic growth, Venezuela now occupies the 58th highest position worldwide. In Latin America, it lags behind only Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Cuba.

The figures of the UN and Datanálisis "are a clear expression of the policies implemented by the National Executive, which have a favorable impact on the Venezuelan population, especially the most vulnerable sectors."

Again, translation mio.

When you're well armed with the true facts, you're pretty well disinclined to give much credit to bullshit. Human Development Indices (and dramatically improved nutrition levels) are pretty damn hard to argue against. So's the fact that Venezuela recently made the UNESCO Executive Council--kind of a hard thing to do if you're not progressing substantially and democratically!

On the other hand, accusations around discredited Argentine nuclear scientists are easy to laugh off--and you can see Chavecito do it here. Albeit, alas, only in Spanish. But check out his face, tone of voice and body language anyhow--he clearly thinks the accusations surrounding this Macaroni 'n' Cheeze dude are hilarious, and so do I. It's like accusing Canada of being in the nuclear arms race just because we build CANDU reactors, fergawdsakes. (CANDUs generate electricity, not weapons-grade plutonium. BTW, let's give Bloomberg a hearty round of applause for getting this story right.)

No, Chavecito's not the least bit worried. He's laughing, and why not? He's got, as usual, plenty to laugh about. The oppos are in their customary state of disarray, and the only way they have of shoring up their discredited parties and platforms is to resort to lies, rumor-mongering, false accusations, lies, lies, more lies, and oh yeah, did I mention damn lies...and statistics?

October 22, 2009

This one won't be running off to Peru for asylum...

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Venezuelans carry the body of a comrade during the Caracazo. Caracas, Venezuela, late February-early March, 1989.

...because he's one of those responsible for an old massacre, and the people of Venezuela are anxious to see him brought to justice at home:

The public ministry has issued an order preventing a retired general of the National Guard, José Rafael León Orsoni, from leaving the country, and requiring him to appear before a court of law for his suspected responsibility for incidents that took place during the Caracazo of February 27-28 and early March, 1989.

León Orsoni is required to appear every 30 days before Tribunal #32, Caracas. He was indicted on October 2 as an accomplice to homicide and for breaking international pacts and conventions signed by Venezuela.

As well, on October 14, a trial began against two members of the Metropolitan Caracas Police, Jorge Giménez and Pedro Miguel Blanco Belmont, accused by fellow officers of being responsible for the killing of Luis Manuel Colmenares, on March 7, 1989, during the Caracazo.

Their case was appealed in June 2004, and the Caracas Court of Appeals struck down the earlier decision. For this reason, a new trial against the two has been ordered in order to obtain an absolute sentence.

Translation mine.

Here's a half-hour of history (in Spanish) to remind you of why it matters that all the villains of the Caracazo be brought to justice, and permanently:

Justice is slow in coming (where do the wheels of justice ever NOT turn slowly?), but under Chavecito, it's happening more and more often.

Meanwhile, the people won't ever forget.

October 21, 2009

OMG, they really think Michael Moore was serious!

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Teh Stoopid! It BURNS!!!

Well, this is par for the course at El Luniversal, since they never fact-check a goddamned thing they write anyway (and neither does the AP, which inhabits the same building.) They also have no sense of humor, and their hatred for all things Chavecito would blind them to what the rest of us can see is an obvious joke.

But really, Eva Golinger, I expected better of you, because I know you're smarter than that. Have you been living out of the US so long that you've forgotten Michael Moore's ironic sense of humor, which he turns quite mercilessly on his own country? (And Franz Lee, that goes for you, too. Lighten up, comrade!)

Fortunately, someone at Complutense University in Madrid gets the joke. I'll let Juan Carlos Monedero explain it to you:

Michael Moore, Nasty Liar

Dear friends:

I've been watching the video in which Michael Moore supposedly disrespects President Chávez and lies repeatedly about him to sully the revolution. How is he a traitor? How the strategy of the opposition has caused us to lose perspective. It's all a big joke. What happened to the irony?

Let's look at this with some tranquility. What was Moore doing in that interview before the viewers of that program? He was laughing at North Americans and their gringo stereotype of the president and all Latin Americans, not at President Chávez and the Venezuelan people! It's just a joke.

Moore is on board with what's happening in Latin America, but his public persona is precisely that: a guy who seems not to know much about anything, constantly telling jokes and pointing out ironies. If we damn him to hell or think he's a liar, it's because we don't understand what he's trying to say! I reiterate: Let's not let the constant lies of the opposition cause us to lose sight of when someone is being serious, and when he is joking.

It's abundantly clear that what he's saying, from the get-go, is just one big leg-pull. He points out Foreign Minister Maduro and says he's a bodyguard! It's obvious that he doesn't want to look like an imbecile who confuses Maduro with one of the security men.

On the other hand, what does the Empire think of Latin America? (1) That all its inhabitants are the same, whatever country they are from and whatever ethnic group they happen to be; (2) that all of them are not only alike, they are like the Mexicans; (3) that the Mexicans, the prototype of all Latin Americans, are people who make noise at all hours (especially in the night and in hotels where honored gringos are trying to rest below them) and that they all drink tequila. That's the joke which Moore repeats in the interview! If we take it as real, we're falling for the same cliché that Moore is laughing at!

Revolutions have to be able to laugh at themselves.

Translation mine.

I don't know about you, but I love to laugh. There's plenty of humor and irony in the Bolivarian Revolution, and while I'm totally down with it, that doesn't mean I can't giggle over goofy pictures of Chavecito doing something wacky and silly. He's often funny on purpose; he's not, in fact, the buffoon the oppos make him out to be. (Real buffoons are funny only by accident--as many of Chavecito's predecessors and opponents definitely are.) I take his serious deeds seriously, and his funny deeds in the spirit they were intended.

Same goes for Michael Moore. The man sticks a whoopee cushion under every pompous ass he meets, the better to get us thinking seriously about what we need to do. In other words: Just like Chavecito! I absolutely loved it that they got together in Venice and had a good chat. I figured they were two peas in a pod for having serious minds and light hearts. It did my heart good to see them getting along famously, as I knew they would.

And I bet Chavecito gets this joke, too. Let's see if and when he weighs in. I bet he'll be chuckling. (Anyone wanna lose some money betting against me? A quick hundred or two?)

So what's the punchline of this joke? Simple: The oppos got punked...again. By none other than the gringo they were hoping to co-opt.

What's less funny is that some serious good people still don't seem to get it. Once more, with feeling:

lighten-up-francis.jpg

See? It's okay to laugh. Go on now...giggle. You know you wanna.

October 20, 2009

How drunk does one have to be?

Ahem. Before I get on with the bile-bucketing, I thought y'all might like a little mood music. Maestro, hit it, please:

Ah, that was soothing.

So how about that Rory Carroll? I know he must do an awful lot of drinking with the country club set in Venezuela, but that overpriced rotgut they served him had him pooping in his mouth a little. (Or a lot.) Fortunately, we've got Dissident Voice's Francisco Dominguez to pimp-slap him back to reality and call him a cab. (Or a fucking jackass.)

And then there's that crazy ol' Grandpa Munster. The man can sure project his pudgy old ass off, and no wonder: He went on a hunger strike to protest the alleged "authoritarian drift" of Chavecito--allegedly. But as Mario Silva and the Robertos pointed out, he's the first hunger-striker in history ever to emerge from it with a weight gain, rather than a loss. Just as Chavecito is the first "authoritarian", as Francisco D. so helpfully points out, to increase the democratic power of the Venezuelan citizenry.

Finally, as much as I love Eva Golinger, I just have to call shenanigans on this. Watch this clip of Michael Moore on Jimmy Kimmel's show, and tell me if you think he was serious:

Item #1: "The guy that's gonna take me out" is not a bodyguard; he's Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan foreign minister. Moore is joking because Maduro almost always has that dead-serious vibe going on. (And considering that his job consists largely of kicking foreign butt over insults to Venezuela, it's hardly surprising.)

Item #2: Venezuelans drink rum or aguardiente, rather than tequila. The po' folks prefer beer. (And in the case of oligarchs, like the ones Rory Carroll stenos for, scotch by the case.)

Item #3: How drunk do you have to be to seriously believe that Michael Moore wrote Chavecito's UN speech? Or that anything he's saying above is anything but hilarious exaggeration? He's clowning. It's his job. Remember, his movies are funny. Chavecito is probably laughing his ass off over this too by now. (It appears on a well-known Venezuelan humor site.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go murder a bottle of something. (A damn good beer from near where my dad was born, if you must know. I'm German, and that's what we drink.)

October 12, 2009

Uruguayans reject right-wing presidential candidate

Gadzooks, he speaks English. He hangs in some mighty crappy company. He's with some obscure putschist group calling itself the "Cuban Democratic Directorate", even though he's not Cuban (nor particularly democratic.) And he chooses his words ever so carefully, but whom is he criticizing above? Hmmmm. Maybe he has a problem with the popularity of other candidates who have something in common with Chavecito's views. There certainly is no Venezuelan interference going on in Uruguay!

From Aporrea, something more on this unpleasant old man, which may explain why the left is still more popular in Uruguay than certain politicians of the right:

Politicians, Uruguayan attorneys, and ex-political prisoners expressed their rejection in no uncertain terms of the presidential candidacy of Luis Alberto Lacalle, of the National Party, on an Argentine TV channel.

Lacalle was a guest on Mirtha Legrand's program on the Buenos Aires channel, América. In one part of the interview, the host questioned him about the dictatorship, which lasted from 1973 to 1985, and the role of the National Liberation movement (MLN-Tupamaros).

The Blanco party aspirant replied that the MLN intended to destroy the democratic institutions, and the coup d'état was a consequence of the Tupamaros' action. He added: "In Uruguay we only had half a dozen disappeared."

Oscar López Goldaracena, a human-rights attorney, called Lacalle's attitude "a lack of respect for history, society, memory, and the victims."

"It is to ignore that there was a Plan Condor, that Uruguayan militaries travelled abroad to torture, that there were clandestine prisoner-transfers, and more than 200 disappeared persons."

The senator for the Broad Front, Rafael Michelini, opined that the National Party candidate "has a brutal non-recognition of what took place."

Sergio López Burgos, an ex-political prisoner, commented that in Uruguay, there were child thefts and thousands of tortured prisoners.

Even among the ranks of the Nationalists, there were reactions. The politician, writer and journalist, Juan Raúl Ferreira, said he felt "surprise and a bit of pain listening to Lacalle."

"It's one thing to not have eyes in the back of your head, and another to have them there and still not see...The facts of recent history are very painful. It is a very sad part of our lives, and those of our compatriots, and they all deserve respect," Ferreira said.

Translation mine.

Of course, there's always the possibility that Lacalle was drunk when he said those incredibly awful things. At least two YouTube videos of him are labelled "Lacalle borracho". One is just a slowed-down version of the one above, in which he does sound very boozy--or would if one hadn't heard the first and realized that the two were the same. I don't know about the provenance of the other, but the audio on it also sounds rather suspect. The comments on both videos intimate that he is certainly a drunk anyway (hmmm, not a popular man, either!), whatever one makes of the audio.

And to be fair, one would almost have to be a pretty serious alcoholic these days, in order to still give credence to neoliberalism (as Lacalle does), and minimize the crimes of the Uruguayan military dictatorship and Plan Condor (which he also does).

Either that, or one would have to be a pretty damn convinced fascist.

And to vote for him, I'd say one would have to be both!

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):

piedad-cordoba-ruiz.jpg

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???"

gabriela-ramirez.jpg

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 6, 2009

And now, the weather report from Tegucigolpe...

It's getting awful nuts out there, and the forecast calls for a continuous torrential downpour of bullshit both in Honduras and abroad...

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"Nobody is above the law. I repeat: MY 'law'."

Awww, isn't it cute how Gorilletti still thinks he's a real president? And that HE gets to say what's legal and what's not in Honduras?

Couple of fun and frivolous articles from Aporrea to show you just how desperetti Gorilletti is getting. First, this one:

The dictator of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, said today that those responsible for having removed president Manuel Zelaya from the country--whom he did not identify--would be taken before a court of law and "punished".

"I am totally certain that they will be brought to tribunals, as corresponds to whatever mistake was made," in expelling Zelaya from the country, Micheletti said.

Micheletti reiterated that "a mistake was made" in sending Zelaya to Costa Rica after his removal from office on June 28, because the Honduran constitution "protects the presence of Hondurans, without extradition, in the country." However, on July 5, Micheletti used all means to prevent Zelaya's return via Tocontín airport.

In an interview with the Brazilian magazine Veja, which came out on Sunday, Micheletti declared that "the military should have taken Zelaya before the tribunals, but they decided to remove him from the country to avoid bloodshed.

"For that reason, they took him to Costa Rica. In Honduras there is no secure enough prison for him," said Micheletti, making excuses for this particular point.

Translation mine.

Now, this one:

The de facto president of Honduras, Robert Micheletti, accused Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez of promoting hatred among Hondurans, and said that the "Gorillettis" are democrats who will keep him from "putting his boots" in that Central American country.

"I want to tell you that Gorilletti--the moniker Chávez uses--is a group of men and women democrats who will not permit him to put his Venezuelan boots in this poor but dignified country."

[...]

"I say to him and all those who attack me that I harbor no rancor in my heart, that I pray to God that he will forgive them for all the damage that they are doing to their people."

Again, translation mine.

Unfortunately, it's not just Gorilletti spouting that; Alexandre Marinis (who he?) of Bloomberg has swallowed the crap holus-bolus:

If Honduras descends into civil war, we can thank Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and credit Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with an assist.

Pushing the Central American nation to the brink is precisely what Chavez accomplished when he persuaded Lula to welcome ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, the capital, last month.

Reasonable people can argue whether Zelaya deserved to be tossed out of office. The fact is his ouster was legal, according to a detailed report issued by the U.S. Congressional Research Service.

The Honduran Congress has the authority to rebuke the president and decide constitutional intent, the report says. "In the case against Zelaya, the National Congress interpreted the power to disapprove of the conduct of the president to encompass the power to remove him from office, based on the results of a special, extensive investigation," it states.

Chavez and Lula engaged in wise-guy diplomacy. Their actions violated international laws by helping Zelaya enter the country illegally. And they disrupted the economy of Central America's second-poorest country, which was already reeling from the global economic crisis.

Besides acting unethically, the two Latin leaders showed they aren't serious diplomats. We'll see if this inaugurates a new era in which Brazil and Venezuela throw their weight around and increasingly interfere with their neighbors' politics. If so, they will resemble the U.S., which Latin leaders have long criticized for butting into the region's internal affairs by propping up or taking out national leaders.

Better wipe your lips, Alex, you've got a real Dirty Sanchez going on there. I don't know why you're in bed with a dictator, but if I were you, I'd be seeking medical attention for my sore ass. The "bend the constitution" lie has already been debunked, as has the "it's all legal" one.

The "legality" one has been debunked most recently by none other than Desperetti, as you can see above. He admits it was a crime, but he won't name who's up for the punishment, because that would be to incriminate himself above all the rest. Meanwhile, he's stalling and spinning so that the scheduled elections can proceed from a totally illegitimate footing.

And Mel Zelaya, the real president of Honduras, incidentally, has also piped up to the effect that the state of siege, in which all constitutional guarantees are nil, is still on. And will be until those farcical "elections" go down, apparently. Call THAT "democracy"? At this rate, Honduras will have to revert to its old coat of arms:

honduran-coat-of-arms.jpg

PS: NPR actually managed to report things fairly and accurately, and rebut the putschists with facts. Is there hope for the US media after all, or is this just a rare glitch that will be covered up in haste?

Holy mac, the Axis of Evo is spacebound!

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Simón Bolívar, the Venezuelan satellite, is about to get some company in orbit. And his baby brother's name is Tupac Katari:

A tripartite commission attended by representatives of the governments of Bolivia and China and the International Telecommunications Union (UIT) will meet in La Paz in late October to discuss the construction and launch of the Tupac Katari satellite, according to the Minister of Public Works, Walter Delgadillo.

Delgadillo said that the commission will evaluate technological proposals and will identify means of financing the Bolivian satellite so that it will be in orbit in no more than 36 months.

"The Government has decided to create a Bolivian Space Agency to define the process, timeline and activities to launch Tupac Katari into orbit," said Delgadillo.

He added that the business and governmental entities that will be using the satellite's channels are currently spending a total of $10 million US.

"When Bolivia has its own satellite, these costs will be reduced by half, not including the added value of using it for various activities which will sustain development," Delgadillo said.

The total cost of the satellite, according to preliminary estimations, will require an investment of $200-300 million US.

Translation mine.

Yep, it's looking more and more like Evo is the Little Injun That Could...put Bolivia in orbit.

Now, why couldn't any of his white, neoliberal-capitalist predecessors think of something like that?

October 5, 2009

Justice in the works at last for the victims of the Caracazo, Yumare and Cantaura

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A truck carries coffins of the victims of the Caracazo to a mass grave somewhere in Caracas, Venezuela, early March, 1989.

Venezuela is making major progress in unearthing the truth about several political killings of the "democratic" 40 years of the Punto Fijo era, that false golden age that the oppos are doing their damnedest to bring back. Two of the worst massacres, after the Caracazo of 1989, are those of Cantaura and Yumare from the early- to mid-1980s, in which bodies of the tortured and disappeared were buried in mass graves that, until recently, remained untouched. Here's the latest on the Cantaura massacre investigations:

This Sunday marks the 27th anniversary of the Cantaura Massacre, in which 400 members of the Armed Forces and dozens of officers of the General Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP), with the help of Caberra and Bronco airplanes from the Air Force, cruelly murdered 25 Venezuelans.

The actions began at 5:30 am on October 4, 1982. They were part of a military operation already underway, whose objective was to destroy a presumed guerrilla camp of the Américo Silva Front, which at the time was in an uprising against the government of then-president Luís Herrera Campins (1979-83).

The victims were all between the ages of 16 and 30, and the majority were shot in the back of the head.

The dead have been identified as follows:

Roberto Rincón Cabrera
Emperatriz Guzmán Cordero
Carmen Rojas García
Sor Alonso Salazar
José Núñez
Mauricio Tejada
Enrique Márquez Velásquez
Carlos Hernández Arzola
Idemar Castillo
Luisa Estévez Arranz
Baudilio Herrera Veracierto
José Becerra Navarro
Eumenedis Ysoida Gutiérrez Rojas
Diego Carrasquel
Luis Gómez
Antonio Echegarreta
Eusebio Martel Daza
Rubén Castro Batista
Nelson Pacín Callazo
Carlos Zambrano Mira
Beatriz Jiménez
Julio Faría Mejía

In response to the families of the victims, the Public Ministry re-opened the case in 2006. To date, 23 new investigations have been conducted, in order to gather sufficient evidence to establish criminal responsibilities in the massacre of Cantaura, in the state of Anzoátegui.

[...]

With these materials, the National Assembly, by way of Reinaldo García, the president of the Human Rights Subcommission, proposed the creation of a Truth Commission to advance investigations into the political killings and disappearances of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

The parliament also designated a commission of deputies to investigate and establish civil and administrative responsibilities regarding the victims, disappeared ones and torture victims of the Cantaura, Yumare and Caracazo massacres, among others.

The commission plans to develop an Organic Law for the Classification and Declassification of Documents and Videos to open the archives of the military and police forces.

Reinaldo García said that, along with the discussion of the Truth and Justice Law, the commission would continue exhuming the bodies of the victims, and would not forget the restitution payments for the survivors and family members.

Translation mine.

For those who can read Spanish, there's an interview here with Luís Machado, one of six survivors of the Yumare massacre of 1986, and a victims' rights advocate. The document can be downloaded in PDF form and comes courtesy of Ciudad Caracas.

And in English, Venezuelanalysis has a progress report on the latest investigations into the deaths of the Caracazo. Official figures from the time of the massacre put the death count at around three hundred, but this is widely believed to be a gross underestimate, with the true number being in the thousands.

To get some idea of the mayhem the Caracazo unleashed, here's a little YouTube (with music from Argentina's own Bersuit Vergarabat):

The lyrics are very appropriate. The chorus goes:

Here comes the explosion
Here comes the explosion
Of my guitar
And your government
As well.

And if you should have any doubt
I've come to grips with what's so hard
If this is not a dictatorship,
What is it?
What is it?

Ah yes, the glorious "democracy" of the Fourth Republic. Who misses it? And is this what lies in store for Honduras under its own current faux-democratic dictatorship? Hell, no--Honduras is living it already.

Se viene el estallido...

October 4, 2009

Music for a Sunday: You can't say that on television!

Wanna bet? Dame pa' Matala can:

And they look so cute doing it, too!

September 30, 2009

Venezuelan opposition comes home to roost in the US

Go. Read. Then tell me if what you see doesn't look awfully familiar.

Of course, Venezuela had its own "civilized", media-driven military coup seven years ago. The top brass of the military, together with an assortment of bidnessy types, decided it was worth going over the heads of the voters to remove a brown-skinned, Afro-American "terrorist menace" from the presidential palace. Here's how THAT panned out, for those who need a refresher:

Like I said...awfully familiar, no?

September 29, 2009

I'm sorry. I just HAD to do this.

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Seriously, doesn't it look like Chavecito is thinking exactly that?

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 25, 2009

Honduras has teabaggers, too

How else to explain this sign, which appeared at the pro-dictatorship rally yesterday?

honduran-pitiyanki.jpg

They don't call these people "pitiyankis" for nothing.

Memo to Simple Simon Romero: It's not new, it wasn't coined by Hugo Chávez, and it's not just in Venezuela that they use it to describe these malinches, either. The word originated decades ago in Puerto Rico, where there are plenty of people who fit that description--petty Yankees, or Yankee-wannabes--themselves. It was coined by a Puerto Rican poet, Luís Llorens Torres (1876-1944). Not surprisingly, Llorens was an independentist.

Unlike the woman in the picture above, as we can plainly see.

Chavecito pwns Fux Snoozer

Watch this and laugh:

Finally, someone puts the racist, self-righteous, imbecilic Fux-ers in their place. And he does it so sweetly, too.

Why can't any of the Dems (Obama included) show this much courage and style?

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito and Evo in Nueva York

Chavecito rocks the UN:

...and shocks the crAP, no doubt by disappointing them. Damn, this time they can't make out like he's crazy! (Last time, he was only joking--and they neglected to report the laughs and appreciative applause he got.)

Meanwhile, here's Evo:

...who undoubtedly shocked the press in his own right. El Duderino reports that NBC was googling the search terms "Evo Morales crazy" when they landed on his blog.

Joke's on the anglo media. These two are both sane, and immensely popular. Why? Because they dare to say what the sleazy anglo media do not.

That, and they're just plain hot stuff.

PS: Via Paul Escobar at BoRev, the pic that says it all about Chavecito at the UN:

chavecito-funny-un.jpg

Fun: Chavecito has it.

September 22, 2009

Gorilletti: Arrogant ape calls for insurrection in Venezuela, orders Brazil around

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Famous last words? Maybe not, but I have a feeling that all of this will come back to haunt the current de-facto dictator of Honduras--preferably when he's sitting in a nice, dank cell in a penitentiary somewhere:

On Monday night, the de facto president of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, told Venzuelans to "get rid of" president Hugo Chávez Frías, claiming he was a menace to the Venezuelan economy.

Micheletti, ringleader of the junta that launched a coup d'état against the legitimate president, Manuel Zelaya, once again claimed a supposed "interference" on the part of Chávez, whom he called a "dictator", as an excuse to call for insurrection in Venezuela during an interview he gave to the channel Televicentro.

"Get rid of that dictator politically, because he's doing damage to your economy....You have to have dignity and don't give him any more chances to humiliate you," Micheletti harangued the Venezuelan people.

Regarding the declarations made by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, who both expressed themselves in favor of the return of Zelaya and asked for compliance [on Micheletti's part] with the San José Accord, Micheletti said: "I hope Hillary and Arias like what's coming out of Zelaya's return now, and that they don't complain if there are lamentable consequences.

"I think what Arias did ended when Zelaya got here, this immediately broke any accord we reached. I respect the opinion of the gringos but they can say what they like--this is our position, the sovereign one taken by the people of Honduras," said Micheletti.

He said he maintains his position on the reinstatement of Zelaya: "He must present himself before justice and be judged. There is no other way out but before justice, it's the obligation of any citizen who has committed a crime."

He ruled out any chance that "Mel" would return to take the reins of Honduras: "There is no form in which he could return to the presidency, he left the country without being president of the republic."

Finally, regarding the decision of Brazil to house Zelaya in its embassy, he said that Brazil must either grant him asylum or hand him over to Honduran justice.

Translation mine; emphasis added.

So, you can now see clearly the arrogance of this unelected little man. Not only has he usurped power in his native Honduras; now he's trying to tell Brazil and Venezuela what to do, too. And he's telling the US to back off, too? And he thinks he is "the people of Honduras"?

And after breaking with the San José Accord (which should never have been reached, IMO, because it grants him way too much bogus legitimacy) he has the gall to accuse Zelaya, who complied, of breaking it?

And oh yeah, then there's the little matter of his ordering Zelaya deported--in his pajamas. Excuse me, who committed the crime, again?

Maybe a max-security rubber suite at the nuthouse would be in order. Where else would you house someone who thinks he's Napoleon?

September 21, 2009

The return of Mel

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"Hola, Bitcheletti, I'm ba-ack!" Guess who's gonna be scrubbing the skidmarks out of his underwear tonight...

So, the news all over the BoRevosphere is that the legitimate president of Honduras is back in country, though not yet behind his desk. Kudos go out to El Salvador for helping him sneak back in (bet the golpistas were only watching the Nicaraguan border!), and to Brazil, for loaning out its embassy as a refuge. (Lula and Mauricio, I owe you guys some serious FLFB tributes. Please pose for some cute photos between now and Friday, y'hear?)

While we wait for the Great Ass-Walloping to begin, let's reflect on the sweetly amusing irony that only yesterday, Gorilletti was bragging to Greta Van Softball on FUX about how he's the bestest Dear Leader ever, and how there's no proof of his human rights abuses, and blah blah blabbity blah blah.

And when you're done with that, enjoy the words of Honduran anti-coup leader Juan Barahona, one of many who've been keeping the faith while they wait for the restoration of their democracy:

The co-ordinator of the National Front Against the Coup D'état in Honduras, Juan Barahona, assured on Monday that there was little chance that the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti would remain in place for 24 hours, following the return of Manuel Zelaya to Tegucigalpa.

"It's very hard for the putschist regime to stay on in power for more than 24 hours, and the Armed Forces will have to unleash a bloodbath in order to stop this [anti-coup uprising]," said the leader in an interview with VTV.

Barahona said that thousands of people are gathering outside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa to see and greet the constitutional president.

"It's a popular reaction, this afternoon Tegucigalpa was a capital inundated with people, and various departments elsewhere have confirmed that more Zelaya supporters are on their way...Now this zone [around the Brazilian embassy] is a sea of people, and more caravans of buses are coming from other cities."

Barahona considers the return of the legitimate president to have caused a popular movement "which no one will be able to stop...it will take a massacre, it's very difficult [to imagine] that the army would want to go there," said Barahona, referring to the area around the Brazilian embassy. He says that "the objective is to bring Zelaya back to the house of government."

Translation mine.

And there is little doubt in my mind that they will succeed in doing just that. Seven years ago, the people of Venezuela did it too--by convincing the loyal sectors of their own armed forces that it was time to look for the legitimate president and bring him back. That took just 48 hours. It's taken a bit longer than that in Honduras, but unless the Honduran army wants a bloodbath, it will have to understand that the people, not the business sector and themselves, are in charge now. And they are not going to rest until the man they elected is back in the sash, Channel 36 is back on the air, and the putschists in custody.

¡Viva Honduras!

EDIT: Looks like he entered via Nicaragua after all, not El Salvador. Sorry, Mauricio, not this week. But keep yer dimples polished anyway, 'coz I like 'em. Meanwhile, Lula's probably gonna be the Lion King of the next OAS or Unasur summit, and Daniel Ortega will get an honorable mention too for sheltering Mel as long as he did.

September 20, 2009

Telesur journalist assaulted, threatened with death in Quito. Déjà vu...

Thanks to postings by Otto at IKN and RickB at Ten Percent, I learned about this disturbing story. You probably won't see this in the anglo media before tomorrow, so I'll take the liberty of posting this video...

...and translating the Aporrea story that goes with it:

The Telesur correspondent in Ecuador, Elena Rodríguez, relates the aggressions she suffered at the hands of armed individuals.

The journalist says that the aggressors assaulted her and kicked her on the ground, robbing her of her belongings, among which were her documents and the keys to her car.

Finally, they left a paper on which was written a threat mentioning the journalistic work she was doing in Ecuador.

The tacky-looking menace note, incidentally, reads: "Next time you won't be saved by Correa and Chávez".

If you're wondering how Elena Rodríguez could be so composed in the video above, it's because she's been there before. I googled to see if there were any English reports on her yet beyond the blogosphere (there aren't), and found out something rather remarkable: The same thing happened to her two years ago. And, amazingly, RSF--normally in the grips of a huge hate-on for all things even remotely connected to the president of Venezuela--actually reported the story accurately, if briefly:

Reporters Without Borders today condemned threats made in the past month against the Quito-based staff of the pan-Latin American TV news channel Telesur. This is not the first time the station, launched by the Venezuelan government, has been the target of hostility. The press freedom organisation calls on the Ecuadorean authorities to quickly put a stop to it.

"The death threats and attempted sabotage of Telesur's Ecuadorean branch come on the heels of attempts to harass and intimidate its Colombian correspondent, Freddy Muñoz (see release of 16 February)," Reporters Without Borders said.

"Telesur represents an important current of opinion in Latin America and the way it is being attacked and smeared in some countries violates the principle of respect for editorial pluralism," the organisation added. "The threats have already been reported to the Ecuadorean judicial authorities. We urge them to identify those responsible and bring them to justice."

In a Quito news conference yesterday, Telesur chairman Andrés Izarra condemned a "campaign of harassment against the station's staff" in Quito that began about a month ago. He said journalist Helena Rodríguez had received death threats from a "Death to Telesur" email address. "The messages accuse her of being [Venezuelan] President Hugo Chávez's prostitute," he said. Similar threats have been sent to other staff members and one of the station's vehicles was sabotaged.

That report is dated June 13, 2007. It reads like a real case of déjà vu, doesn't it?

Little wonder, then, that Elena Rodríguez appears so calm. She's faced this sort of thing on a regular basis.

The cowards who did this to her are not only hired mafiosi (and don't you wonder who their capo is?), they're also dead wrong. She doesn't work for Rafael Correa OR Hugo Chávez, but for Telesur--whose president is Andrés Izarra. He is strongly committed to accurate, unprejudiced reporting. How committed? He used to work for the far-right Radio Caracas Televisión until the coup of '02, when he refused to follow the station's "zero Chavismo on screen" line and quit. He knew that the streets were seething with angry protesters who wanted their president back, and also that the station's refusal to report it was inexcusable. At the time, there were no other job openings waiting for him, and the coup had yet to be reversed, so it was an extremely brave thing to do. He probably faced a blacklist by all the other oppo channels, who followed the same line.

More proof, in case you needed it, that being an honest journalist in Latin America is a dangerous thing. While the dishonest ones are incestuously living it up in the same office buildings and rubbing shoulders with the high-society toffs, putting out sporadic and lazy "reports" heavy on "with files by...", the real ones are literally putting their lives on the line to tell it the way it really is.

And somebody--no doubt rich and well-connected, probably with strong ties to opposition media--wants the honest journos dead. Perhaps it's somebody they've reported on in past, or are currently following.

We shall see...

September 17, 2009

Yet another Venezuelan oppo crook seeks "asylum" in Peru

oscar-perez.jpg

If you're at all aware of who's who in the Venezuelan wingnutosphere, this one's name (and his arm-long rap sheet) will be familiar. If not, ladies 'n' gents, allow me to introduce someone who's been long overdue for a good thumping here...

Early this morning, the "political leader" Oscar Pérez, better known as "Cabeza 'e Motor*", member of the national directorate of the Alianza Bravo Pueblo party, formally solicited asylum of the foreign ministry of Peru, claiming to be "politically persecuted by the government of President Hugo Chávez and the representatives of the rest of the public powers of Venezuela", meaning, in particular, Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz.

An arrest warrant went out for Oscar Pérez last August 27, from Tribunal 37 of Metropolitan Caracas. Pérez is suspected of instigation to delinquency and delinquent association, as a result of his part in a march on Saturday, August 22, in Caracas, when an attempted riot was thwarted by members of the Metropolitan Caracas Police and the National Guard.

Translation mine. Linkage added so you can see that this is NOT political persecution, but criminal prosecution, that Pérez is trying to elude.

And if you need further proof that it's crime, not politics, that's at issue here, have a gander at this:

That's the opposition's idea of a "peaceful" march. Deliberate violence, deliberate provocation--followed by (they hope) a crackdown that will give them a perfect excuse to try to oust Chavecito yet again. (April 11, 2002--same shit, 'nother day.) Pérez was right in the thick of this, inciting--as he likes to do, when he's not busy shoving innocent people around:

This was taken two years ago, when Pérez (on cellphone, in striped shirt) assaulted a man who didn't want oppo graffiti on his vehicle.

Or how about journalists?

Here he is, repeatedly assaulting Carlos Echeverri (long hair and shades) of Avila TV.

And here he is bullshitting about a vehicle he STOLE (he's a repeat offender on those grounds, too). He claims it was given to him by the government of the state of Miranda. Even if that's true, it's evidence of corruption on the part of the oppo governor of that state. Giving cars to unelected and violent delinquent political cronies is kind of an odd practice, don't you think?

BTW, Oscar Pérez is far from alone as a common criminal seeking "political" asylum in Peru. Here's one of his cronies, Manuel Rosales, before HE fled. See if you can see some striking similarities between the behavior of his bullyboys toward journalist Jorge Amorín, and Pérez's behavior toward Amorín's colleague, Carlos Echeverri:

And oh joy, oh bliss, there's another bogus asylum-seeker, too:

nixon-moreno.jpg

Nixon Moreno (don't you love that name?)--wanted for a vicious assault on two police officers, attempted rape, and attempted murder. The Apostolic Nunciature in Caracas actually sheltered this sinning bastard, if you can believe it. Now the Peruvian government confirms that he's there, too--seeking asylum, but not yet granted.

What's that song Otto keeps referencing when something like this happens? By Jove, I think I've found it:

* Cabeza 'e Motor = "Motorhead", a reference to his past as a notorious car and motorcycle thief. Personally, I prefer Cabeza 'e Mierda--"Shithead", a reference to his ongoing status as one of many "leading" turds in the local punchbowl.

September 10, 2009

Charlie Hardy exposes the AP

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Charles Hardy, a.k.a. the Cowboy in Caracas--really ought to blog more often. His entries on Venezuelanalysis are always excellent, but far too sporadic for my liking. In his latest one, he takes on a "news" agency which seems to be locked in a death-race to the bottom with FUX Snooze:

In an Associated Press article with the byline of Christopher Toothaker published on the Internet on August 9, mention was made of Colombia's accusation and that Sweden confirmed the sale of the weapons to Venezuela (which happened in the late 80s). It also said that, "Chávez denies aiding the FARC." But the article did not say anything about the weapons being among those taken in 1995.

So I called Mr. Toothaker to ask why he omitted that. He replied that he didn't "believe" that they were the weapons that were stolen. He added that Chávez said the weapons involved were taken by the ELN, (the National Liberation Army in Colombia). That was pretty much all of our conversation.

Afterwards I was thinking that maybe the weapons that the Colombia government retrieved were taken from the ELN and not the FARC. It is difficult for me to trust anything coming from the Colombian government. I thought about calling Mr. Toothaker again to ask about that possibility, but decided not to do so. I felt I would just receive another of his beliefs.

Now, Mr. Hardy knows a thing or two about beliefs; he's a devout Catholic, a former priest, who has worked in the slums of Caracas as a Maryknoll missionary for a number of years. This would explain why he is far too polite to say the word bullshit about anything the infamous Christopher Toothaker writes. But you can definitely hear him thinking it, particularly here:

It ought to be noted that the Associated Press in Venezuela has its offices in the building that is home to El Universal, one of the major opposition newspapers. Having offices there is like trying to grow beautiful smelling roses in a hotbed of onions. Not exactly the best place for a news service that is should be presenting balanced reporting.

"A hotbed of onions"? Well, at least onions are good for something. (Companion-planting gardeners, BTW, swear by garlic--another member of the allium family--as a companion to roses.) I respectfully suggest he may have been thinking of raw, uncomposted sewage.

But El Universal is actually more like a hotbed of radioactive waste. You can't smell it, and unless you come equipped with a Geiger counter calibrated to bullshit, you come away burned--and contaminated--from just being in the same building. Which is a damned strange place for the AP to be, when you think about it. And which would also explain why so many AP "reporters" are merely stenographers, repeating in English whatever the highly-biased El Luniversal says in Spanish. They probably sit in on the same editorial bull sessions. It must save the AP a whackload of dinero; also saves its lazy journos having to actually go out there and report on something.

Anyhow, long story made short: Something is definitely sniffy when the AP's offices are in the same building with those of the most rabidly right-wing paper in the nation. Finally, someone exposed this very salient fact about the Dissociated Press. Now, let's see if anyone else does anything about it.

Good job, Charlie--keep it up!

Two former US soldiers speak out for peace...in Venezuela

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Meet Benji Lewis, 24--US army vet, and now, because of what he went through at Fallujah, a peace activist.

Eva Golinger has a knack for finding all sorts of interesting things that the government of the US would undoubtedly prefer that we not know. She's found evidence that USAID--supposedly an agency to aid development in underdeveloped countries--has actually been financing coupmongers (some of them extremely violent) in Venezuela and Bolivia. She found enough material for two books--or was it three?--just on Venezuela alone. Now she's branched out; she interviewed two soldiers-turned-peace-activists recently, and here are some of the highlights from the piece she wrote for her blog and Venezuelanalysis:

EG: When did you go to Iraq, Josh?

Josh: September 2004 to September 2005.

EG: What did you think when you were going there?

Josh: I was against the war but at the same time figured we already started the war and so should see it through and help the country rebuild. It was hard to think about. I was in charge of interrogations in Irak. And Source Operations, running sources to get information. I was in Mosul, Iraq. In Iraq, 95% of those detained and interrogated were innocent. The interrogations agitate the population against you. If they weren't terrorists or insurgents when detained, they will be afterward! The reason why 95% are innocent and still detained is because the way to measure succes in Iraq, unlike in Vietnam where it was a body count, is based on the number of detainees. It doesn't matter if they are women or children or innocent. I didn't participate in physical torture and beat detainees. But I did participate in psychological torture.

EG: But you knew torture took place?

Josh: I saw the victims of the torture. The bruises and lashes all over their bodies came from somewhere. We would send the detainees to the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Militia that were working with us and they would do the torture for us. I had concerns about that especially because torture doesn't work well for getting information.

EG: Benji, you were in Fallujah during the Blackwater scandal?

Benji: Right after. I was sent to Fallujah and there was excitement because it was right after the Blackwater scandal and we were on a mission of revenge. No one told us what had really happened except that US citizens had been killed by the Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah. So I was excited because I was going to be in a mortar unit and would be able to do what I was trained to do, we were going to utilize our mortars. We thought we were going to Fallujah to neutralize an insurrection, but they didn't tell us that the entire city had already been bombed by the US for about a week and a third of the population was already displaced or dead. We were being told that this was a mission of revenge, we didn't know they were Blackwater mercenaries that had been killed, we were told they were just US citizens. Several batallions of marines were unleashed on the city from every angle. It was a seige. There were thousands of us that assaulted Fallujah. We surrounded them and cut off their electricity and water, we bombed mosques.

EG: The military wasn't giving the soldiers any kind of information?

Benji: Hearts and Minds is double rhetoric. You have to first control the hearts and minds of the troops committing these atrocities before sending them to war. You have to lie to them--otherwise you can't fight these kinds of wars.

This interview also appears in Spanish in the Correo del Orinoco, and at YVKE Mundial.

Josh Simpson and Benji Lewis have also appeared on Venezuelan TV. Vanessa Davies, who hosts Contragolpe ("Counterpunch", or in this case, "Counter-coup") interviewed both of them. Josh's interview can be seen here; Benji's here. The videos are in Spanish and English. There's some translation, but it's not hard to get the gist of the questions being asked.

What they have to say is great, and we all need to hear it--over and over and over again. What bugs me is that there seems to be more interest in what they have to say in Venezuela than back where they come from. What's that saying again, about a prophet in his own land...?

September 9, 2009

One more to get the wingnuts shrieking

Michael Moore and Chavecito--together in Venice. They shot the shit for about three hours. Gee, maybe this will give Michael some ideas for his next project?

Video in Spanish; exploding heads in the US.

September 8, 2009

This'll shut 'em up

Dame Pa' Matala has some choice words for the King of Spain. I have some for him and the media.

All weekend long we've been hearing nothing in the news but how everybody and their dog is out marching against that "evil dictator Chávez" (o rly?) Well, finally the media have woken up to the fact that there's another side to the story. Take it away, Ollie Stone!

Spain's King Juan Carlos should "shut up" and listen to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, US film director Oliver Stone said in comments published Tuesday in a Spanish newspaper.

"Your king should shut up and listen to Chavez more," the top-selling daily El Pais quoted Stone as telling one of its journalists at the Venice film festival on Monday.

Stone and Chavez were in Venice for the world premiere of his documentary "South of the Border," which looks at the outspoken Venezuelan leader's role in bottom-up change sweeping South America.

At the Ibero-American summit in Chile in November 2007, King Juan Carlos sparked a diplomatic row when he turned to Chavez -- who had been repeatedly interrupting a speech by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero -- and said: "Why don't you shut up."

His outburst became a catchphrase in the Spanish-speaking world, appearing on T-shirts and even being turned into a mobile-phone ringtone downloaded by millions.

Stone said: "Chavez is an extraordinary man who has managed to reduce by half the number of people living in poverty in his country. I am tired of seeing the media in my country call him a dictator, because he is not."

SHRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!

And the scary part is that Chavecito, unlike his neighbor El Narco-Paraco Uribe, managed to deal with the poverty problem without killing poor people! He gave 'em hospitals, schools, doctors in their own neighborhoods, a pediatric hospital, and so much other free stuff I can't list here. How evil is that?

Er. Actually, it's not evil at all. It's good, isn't it? Yes, absolutely. So why's it taken so long for the media to catch on? Well, they didn't have Ollie Stone to interview. And they couldn't very well break the news on his latest doc without talking to the man. And oh, bad luck for them--every word out of his mouth has been nothing but good about Chavecito, and slams for his detractors.

That's why Reuters had to crib from The Hollywood Reporter, which also has another amazingly decent piece here; their own journos, who hate all things non-capitalist, were all in the bathroom with the cramps.

And that's why TIME's Richard Corliss got so fucking dyspeptic that he couldn't even see straight, let alone spell Kirchner without an S. (Here, Dick, have some Angostura. Infallible stomach remedy, created by Simón Bolívar's own German army doctor. Don't worry--it's now made in Trinidad, not Venezuela. And will you please get over your wife's gushing about Chavecito's nice firm handshake?)

And oh yeah, that great cultural guru and human Cheeto, Cornelius McGillicuddy the Fourth (please God, let there not be a fifth!) just had to weigh in too, however lightly. Whaddya bet he didn't even see it--and that this is just his usual knee-jerkiness talking?

But y'know what? Seeing all the wingnut heads exploding is infinitely preferable to watching them continue to swell over their sad little march four days ago. Because this makes them all look every bit as idiotic as they are. And because it's really sweet to see Aporrea flaunting headlines like "Venice kills Facebook" and "Oliver Stone: 'Chávez is a hero, a phenomenon'." And because that, not the march, is what's gonna stick in people's minds--or craws--the longest.

September 7, 2009

Ooh, ahh...

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Either Gainesville is a very small town, or it was a very slow news day. Or this "independent" newspaper is one of the many in the US that have a strange notion of what constitutes peace and democracy...

About forty people gathered Friday gathered with a simple message: "No more Chávez."

Forty? Wowzers.

What started out with two students and a lone sign that read "No + Chavez," slowly became a full-blown protest demonstrating against Hugo Chávez's rule over Venezuela.

Though it was scheduled for 5 p.m., the protest took full force around 5:45 as the demonstrators, mostly students, trickled to the corner.

Yeah, I bet they were a real force to be reckoned with...

However, not only Venezuelans attended the protest. About 10 students from Honduras held signs and chanted in favor of democracy.

Kenya Perez, a Honduran junior at Santa Fe, said she felt inclined to protest because she is against communism in Latin America.

"We want peace," Perez said. "And we hate Chávez."

Yo, Kenya: Peace and hate cancel each other out. If you actually wanted peace, you'd be in favor of him--unlike Gorilletti, he's never turned the army out to fire on its own people. Even when they demonstrate against him, as they do with nauseating regularity.

And what do you bet these Hondurans are all in favor of the very VIOLENT coup that took place just two months ago in their homeland--from which they are well removed? Of course, the author doesn't go into THAT. The story was supposed to be on how "peaceful" and "democratic" it is to hate a very democratically elected, ratified and popular leader, and by damn, the writer stuck to it--even though the end result was, as you can see, pitiful!

Ah well. Things were pathetic all over for the disociados. Here's what the "big" march in downtown Caracas looked like:

Mario Silva, of VTV's La Hojilla, shows that not only was this "global" march extremely ill-attended (and short), the demonstrators were also drinking (illegally!) And most pathetic of all, when they got to the public prosecutor's office, which was the end of their mini-march, there were no police or national guard troops there for them to fight with! Imagine, no targets for their empty booze bottles. They came loaded for bear, and went home without so much as a moth-eaten squirrel. That's gotta hurt!

And how pathetic is it when even CNN--well known for its antisocial tendencies--is forced to report that things were a flop? Right in the headline, even?

Meanwhile, for REAL independent reporting, here's what happened in San Francisco. This demo was small, too--but...

A handful of anti-Chavistas were there. We had 10 people present but only 2 of us went near the anti-Chávez demonstration. We intentionally kept it a secret from them that we had other people there so that they wouldn't mess with them. These 8 people spread out around the perimeter of the demonstration, handing out flyers and telling people that the protest was in support of President Hugo Chávez.

Passers-by saw the group waving Venezuelan flags and the 8 pro-Chávez supporters handed out thousands of flyers to people explaining why they should support Hugo Chávez and, probably, most people figured the anti-Chávez protest was actually in favor of Hugo Chávez. It greatly angered the anti-Chávistas that only TWO people were disrupting their little demo by passing out pro-Chávez literature. IF ONLY THEY HAD KNOWN THAT EIGHT MORE PEOPLE WERE FURTHER AWAY, DOING THE SAME THING! We figured they would notice those 8 people -- but they never did. The 2 people who got close did a good job of distracting them. The anti-Chávistas didn't bring any flyers (well, they had maybe 20 copies of a "talking points memo" that they desperately tried to hand out to compete with the 2 protesters' 1000-some flyers) and so all they had was an incoherent banner and a bunch of Venezuelan flags, making our job much easier.

The anti-Chávistas were too busy arguing with, pushing, and trying to mess with the 2 people who went up close to them to even notice the other 8 people who were there. Every time they said "there's only two of you," those 2 people just smiled, knowing that the anti-Chávistas had been outsmarted (not hard to do). Most people didn't get close enough to the anti-Chávistas to know what they were saying and all they got was a flyer that explained in great detail why Hugo Chávez should be supported and gave URLs to good websites about the Bolivarian Revolution.

The 2 people who were close to the anti-Chávistas encouraged them to believe that there were only 2 of us present. In the meantime, we had our other 8 people calling a bunch of the local media -- radio stations, etc, and reporting on the pro-Chávez demonstration. At least 3 local radio stations put us on the air, reporting "live from the Support Hugo Chávez Rally".

But, really, there were only about 15 anti-Chávistas there. And there were 10 of us. They had all the time in the world to prepare -- they had a permit and everything and weeks to prepare for the demo but still only about 15 people showed up. They CLAIM 40 people showed up against Chávez but that is just a lie. The pictures prove that. The closest they got to 40 people is when a bunch of Japanese tourists came by to see what was going on and even then, it was only about 20 - 25 people and the tourists only stayed around for 5 minutes or so.

We only found out about the protest TWO DAYS in advance. And, in those two days, we got together basically the same amount of people and, because of our superior protest strategy of spreading out and keeping the majority of us secret from the anti-Chávistas, we were able to use their numbers to make our protest look even bigger. But, like I said, we were about the same number anyway.

Once more, with feeling:

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September 4, 2009

So how'd that (cough cough) "global anti-Chávez march" go?

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Hang on, I'll get to the sorry little march in a bit. I found a story on Aporrea about this poster, which I guess was meant to insult Chavecito and El Ecuadorable. (The caption on it says "Why don't you shut up?" in Russian. How subtle!)

And of course, I had to do SOMETHING with it...

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...so I did. Which I'm sure the girls in the pic can understand, as they seem to be transfixed by the sight of two hot guys kissing. (Can you blame them?)

Ahem. Now, about that march...how sad is it when you get projections like this (from the Dissociated Press, natch)?

The Honduras march was led by Roberto Micheletti, who became president when Chavez ally Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a June coup.

"Any politician who tries to stay in power by hitching up with a dictator like Hugo Chavez, he won't achieve it," Micheletti said. "We'll stop him."

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(Gee, that owl looks a lot like Mel Zelaya. Who is coming back to kick Gorilletti's ass, BTW.)

Don't worry, as soon as we get pictures of the not-so-vast crowds, we'll post 'em. In the meantime, enjoy a few anti-Chavista LOLcats. I suspect there are more of them than there are escualidos these days.

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UPDATE: Bwahahahahaha...¡qué marchita!

Festive Left Friday Blogging Too: Who's the most popular leader in the Middle East?

Let these crowds in Syria give you a broad hint: He's not homegrown!

Now, why him, of all people? Well, it's the oil money, of course!

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Say "queso"!

What do you do in a resort town like Bariloche, when you're not busy at Unasur conferences? You bring a camera...

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...and get your friends to ham it up, as Chavecito did with his pals, Lugo and Lula.

September 3, 2009

Larry Klayman fails again!

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Remember how I predicted that Larry Klayman, right-wing jackass stuntster and bogus human-rights attorney, was about to get laughed out of court?

Well, it happened.

On Monday a U.S. judged dismissed a lawsuit filed against Citgo, a U.S.-based subsidiary of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA. The company and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez were accused of alleged terrorist acts and human rights abuses.

News service EFE reported that Judge Cecilia Altonaga granted Citgo's request to make the proceeding null and void and also closed the cases against Chavez, Vice President Ramon Carrizales, Foreign Affairs Minister Nicolas Maduro and four other officials.

The petitioner of the lawsuit against Chavez, journalist Ricardo Guanipa, failed to follow an order to notify all of the defendants. Through his lawyer he managed to notify Citgo, which responded with a request to annul the case, but not Chavez and the other officials.

[...]

In the lawsuit, Freedom Watch asserted that Citgo resources were being used by Chavez to "support terrorism and other crimes against humanity, including death threats, arrests, torture, and murder." Freedom Watch was seeking US$5 billion for punitive damages.

On its website, the NGO calls Chavez a "terrorist communist dictator" and claims that he has supported the "Colombian FARC, a Marxist-Leninist group of terrorists, the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, Middle Eastern Arabic terrorist states and others bent on destroying Judeo-Christian and western civilization and freedom."

The organisation says it will "bring [Chavez] to justice in a Miami court for his crimes, not only to compensate his victims, but to set an example for the Obama administration."

For those who claim this was only dismissed on a technicality, wake the fuck up. They couldn't put this through even in a Miami court, under an ex-Venezuelan judge! The burden of proof is on the plaintiff, and they (meaning Guanipa and Klayman) couldn't prove anything. This was just a show trial at best. And it looks like their little sideshow flopped.

I found this part particularly hilarious:

According to Aporrea.org, Guanipa used to work with Radio Marti, a U.S.-financed station that transmits to Cuba against the government there, and Radionexx, a private Venezuelan station that has called for the overthrow of the Chavez government and for the president's assassination.

Radionexx stopped operating at the beginning of this year, because, in the words of its operators in an interview published on Elbrollo.com, "It's useless, this country doesn't want to understand."

(Emphasis added.)

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Yeah, the country "doesn't want to understand" because it's happy with its democracy and doesn't want fascism back, dumbass!

Meanwhile, guess who else is (probably) feeling the Schadenfreude right about now:

Chavez responded to Freedom Watch's accusations in April by laughing and saying, "It's the kind of strange news that comes out everyday."

Yes, it certainly is. Ha ha! Joke's on you, Laughable Larry. Can't wait to read your latest self-serving press release. Bet it won't make the "news" like the last one did! BTW, where the hell did your sad widdle website go? I got a "server not found". Funny dat!

PS: Speaking of ex-Venezuelans and terrorism, looks like Luis Posada Carriles might just be in deep doody now, too.

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 28, 2009

Colonel Benavides, terror of the Venezuelan oppos

Meet my newest hero:

His name is Antonio Benavides Torres, and he is a colonel in the Venezuelan national guard. Chavecito recently awarded him the country's highest honor--the Medal of the Liberator.

So what did Col. Benavides do to deserve it? Have a look:

What? No battle? No blood? No drama?

That's right. Col. Benavides kept the public peace. He played the music of Venezuela's most popular folk singer, the late Alí Primera, to counteract the ugly crap being blasted at the recent oppo demo. And when the oppos tried to provoke the national guard and the metropolitan Caracas police into starting a riot, the colonel wasn't having any of it. He grabbed a mike and told his troops not to fall into the trap--that this was an oppo strategy to generate violence and try to force the expulsion of President Chávez. When a reporter from oppo channel Globovisión tried to get in his face and provoke a direct confrontation, he headed her off and told her to get back and record her "ambient sound" from a respectful distance. Result: No drama--and no excuse to get rid of the president. And no satisfaction whatsoever for Globoterror's crew, who went away with their tails between their legs.

Peace, democracy and socialism win again. The End.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: The last man on horseback?

Chavecito's famous revolutionary ancestor, Maisanta, was the subject of a biography called The Last Man on Horseback. Well, looks like his great-grandson is following in his footsteps...er, better make that hoofprints:

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Looks like he's more than comfortable leading the cabalgata, himself:

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¡Arriba Chavecito!

August 27, 2009

Mark your calendars for September 4, folks...

...because you won't want to blink and miss the latest farce the CIA and the Venezuelan oppos are cooking up:

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Oh look, there's a gun in that little plus sign. Do you think they're tipping their hand as to how they mean to "minus" him?

August 26, 2009

Chavecito welcomes Noam Chomsky

Video in Spanish, but you can hear the English translation if you listen with earphones.

He calls him "one of the greatest defenders of peace in the world." Chomsky's response is characteristically modest. But his analysis is as astute as ever--Venezuela is indeed showing what kind of better world is possible--and it's confounding even the expectations of the bizmedia, who keep hollering that it's going to collapse. And who keep having to eat their words while watching "model" economies tanking again and again, while Venezuela keeps going steadily upwards.

I wonder if they're going to misreport what Chavecito said about Galbraith again, and claim that he must be unstable because Chomsky is obviously alive and well and standing right next to him. If they do, it will be proof that THEY are unstable and not to be trusted to shape public opinion, because they can't even report the facts accurately. (Not that you and I didn't suspect as much already, eh reader?)

August 23, 2009

Another day, another march in Venezuela

Venezuela's got a new education law in the works--the Organic Law of Education ("organic", in this sense, refers to any law with a direct constitutional basis). To hear the screaming lamestream media up here tell it, there is widespread opposition to it. But what they keep neglecting to say is that the support for this new law is at least twice as widespread, as this march in favor (photographed by Arturo Alejandro for Aporrea) demonstrates:

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Just to give you some idea of the size of the crowd.

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Uncle Sam was there!

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So were these Peruvians, carrying their flag.

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This guy told the photographer he used to be an Adeco (supporter of the old Acción Democrática party, which is now but a shadow of its former self, thanks to four decades of corruption, murder, torture and toadying to the bankers.) He has since seen the light, as his appearance demonstrates. He's even got a pocket-size Chavecito figure!

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"Ask the DEA and you'll see--Uribe, the empire's fool, is the US's Narcotrafficker #82."

No shit, the lamestream media up here has even reported that.

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Simón Bolívar ¡PRESENTE!

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And of course, no Chavista march would be complete without a larger-than-life cut-out of Chavecito. This one has arms that move, doing his signature palm-punching victory salute.

Finally, here's some video to show how peaceful this demo was:

So what were the oppos up to, you wonder? Well, they too turned out for their own little march. But they weren't having nearly as much fun, though apparently not for lack of firecrackers:

They threw rocks and bottles at the police, who were not carrying guns. Funny how those people just can't ever seem to have a march without violence breaking out. And even funnier how the lamestream media up here can't seem to report that part for shit.

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
--attributed to Mahatma Gandhi

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 12, 2009

Headline Howler: The Lede catches Teh Stoopid

Quick, everyone, tell me what this is a picture of:

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If you said "two leading Cuban revolutionaries proving that golf isn't as bourgeois as Hugo Chávez says it is", go straight to the corner and put on your dunce cap. And while you're at it, say hi to the dunce who's already there--a poor soul who blogged this for the NY Whore Times, thinking he could make a fool of Chavecito with a slice of Cold War trivia. His name is Robert Mackey, and he ended up having to correct himself a little over an hour ago, hilariously:

...So we have Mr. Castro's word that the round was staged for the cameras for the purpose of mocking the American President who refused to meet with Mr. Castro when he visited Washington in 1959, soon after taking power. On that occasion, President Eisenhower refused to meet with Mr. Castro -- who had to settle for a chat with his Vice President, Richard Nixon, instead. According to several versions of the story, Mr. Castro was unhappy to learn that the important business that kept President Eisenhower from meeting him was a round of golf. So that would seem to explain the subsequent photo-op mockery of the game back in Cuba.

Meanwhile, if you want to know what prompted this little quiz-bang (and the trainwreck that followed), here ya go. Turns out that it's not so much the "bourgeois" nature of the world's most unathletic sport that pisses off Chavecito--it's that the slums of Caracas are growing out of control, on unstable ground; the city sits in the bottom of an Andean mountain valley. Meanwhile, what have the rich turned the stable ground in the heart of the city into? Fucking golf courses. Chavecito aims to change that by legally nullifying all those land-grabbers' claims, and building affordable public housing there, instead of letting manicured turf go on stinking the place up with Monsanto chemicals. All this so that poor folks won't have to go on constructing shacks with scavenged material on hillsides that are likely to wash away with the next heavy rain, as they did early on in Chavecito's tenure as president.

Funny how the facts just totally change the picture, eh Robert?

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(Memo to Simon Romero: No Cuban cigar for you, either.)

August 10, 2009

One more oppo kvetching-point gets shot down in Venezuela

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Yep, it's that old "insecurity" thing. The opposition claims Chavecito isn't doing enough about violent crime, especially in the densely-populated lower-class neighborhoods of Caracas. (Never mind that some of them elected oppo mayors, supposedly to address this problem. Said mayors have yet to get around to it. Hell, they have yet to clean up the garbage--another problem they said they would tackle.)

Some even accuse him of fomenting it himself, absurdly--and even more absurdly, this quack-pot theory gets picked up by the English-language media abroad (Rory Carroll's impotent little spit-take for the UK Guardian being a typical case in point.)

Well, Chavecito's done something about THAT particular, seemingly intractable problem--and after just one week of implementation, it seems to be bearing some remarkable fruit:

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, in 21 neighborhoods in the capital, no homicides took place, thanks to the national-guard troop deployment called Caracas Segura 2009.

So said the chief of Regional Command No. 5, General Alírio Ramírez, during a press conference on Monday, in which he gave a report of the progress of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) participating in the security mission.

"Of the 28 neighborhoods of Caracas, there were zero homicides in 21 of them on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And in other neighborhoods, homicides were down 40%, compared to the previous week," said the general.

The deployment consisted of 2,200 members of the GNB spread out over 28 neighborhoods.

Translation mine.

Zero homicides in 21 neighborhoods. This in a city where dozens used to die in street fights or domestic violence, often drug-, gang- and alcohol-related, on any given weekend. In fact, Caracas used to register more homicide victims on any given weekend than there were in any given year in Toronto!

Think of that the next time you hear some oppo-monkey screeching and flinging feces over supposed "violence", "insecurity" and "kidnappings" burgeoning under Chávez in Venezuela--there have been rashes of the latter recently, to hear some people tell it. Something tells me, though, that as long as the national guard is on patrol in those neighborhoods, we're gonna be seeing a helluva lot less of all the above--unless the oppos get better at lying!

Oh Rory, have I got a story for you...oops, I forgot. I've already scooped you, and I'm not even stationed in Caracas, nor am I boozing it up with the traditional ruling classes on the Guardian's dime. I'm just literate--and not blinded by pro-corporate or elitist political prejudices. How embarrassing!

August 7, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: I love a man in uniform

Chavecito may have been out of the army lo these many years, but...

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...that doesn't mean he can't still don a uniform from time to time.

Or look muy sabroso in it.

August 6, 2009

Headline Howler: The Beeb fumes at Chavecito

Honestly, what can you say about a headline like this...

Chavez fumes at neighbour Colombia

...other than that it's just pure dumbassery, since nowhere in the piece that follows is there even a suggestion that the president in question is "fuming" at anyone?

But don't take my word for it. Or even the (increasingly dubious) word of the Beeb. Here's a video of the press conference in question, where Chavecito addresses, very patiently and at length, the questions of the foreign press about recent accusations from Colombia (totally unfounded) that he was arming the FARC. The Big Guy points out that the weapons in question are (a) old, having been purchased from the US during the 1980s; (b) incapable of being fired more than once (they were designed for single use); (c) incapable of reaching targets more than one kilometre away; and (d) stolen as of some 14 years ago. Meaning, he can't possibly have handed them to the FARC--they were plundered from the Venezuelan arsenal, probably by a greedy officer looking to make extra cash in his spare time by selling what wasn't his, during a time when Chavecito was already out of the army (he retired from it in 1994 with the rank of lieutenant colonel, in order to pursue a career in politics). Now, watch the video and see for yourself whether he's "fuming" at anyone or over anything:

Mind you, this is in Spanish. But as my German mother says, it's the tone that makes the music, so pay attention to the 'Cito's tone. Does it strike you as "fuming"? No, he's pleasant as can be. The reporters he's addressing are women, so he's on his best behavior. He's explaining, as well, Venezuela's historic relationship to Colombia, and emphasizes that Simón Bolívar, Venezuela's national hero, was Colombia's liberator, and its first president as well. In short: he's got nothing against Colombia; it's the government of Colombia with whom he's got a legitimate bone to pick. (Oh hell: try a whole carcass.)

He also produces a piece of weaponry confiscated from a Colombian paramilitary captured on Venezuelan soil, likely in one of the Venezuelan opposition's many attempts at a putsch. (They like to hire Colombian paramilitaries to do their dirty work.) The stamp on the weapon indicates that it is "Property of the Colombian Army"! Now, how did THAT get into THOSE hands? The Colombian army has some 'splainin' to do. But of course, they'll never explain anything. They prefer to lob accusations at an innocent man, an elected leader, popular throughout the region--and they like to make their shit stick, using such useful idiots as whoever writes the headlines for the BBC.

So, Beeb, congrats--you win the Dumbass of the Day award. Feel special!

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Venezuela: What? No new media law? Then why all the fuss?

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So here I am, sifting through the junk in my inbox, still stupidly wondering why I'm getting garbage like this, or this, or this. When I know full well that the truth about Venezuela's alleged "new media law" is this:

In response to private international and national media claims that Venezuela is discussing a media law which denies freedom of expression and punishes journalists, National Assembly members said that no such law proposal exists, only a discussion around how to combat the "media dictatorship" and "media terrorism."

The president of the media commission in the National Assembly, Manuel Villalba, said on Tuesday that a proposal for a law with 17 articles, as claimed by some media, doesn't exist and that rather, the Attorney General, Luisa Diaz, had presented ideas to the National Assembly, which are being debated, but that there is no consensus around her proposals.

"It's not official," Villalba said, explaining that no law had been formally presented or proposed. "All this just confirms that there are media owners who are systematically disseminating false opinions," he said.

"No such law proposal exists."

What? You mean Hugo Chávez is not gagging the media? And he's not ruling by decree on this one? That means the Committee to Protect Journalists is lying to us, too!

"Only a discussion around how to combat the 'media dictatorship' and 'media terrorism'."

A discussion? Gee, that sure sounds a lot like someone is using freedom of speech!

"There is no consensus."

What? Pluralism?? In Venezuela??? Holy fucking shit! That means it must be...gasp...shudder...A DEMOCRACY!!!

"It's not official."

But...but...but...the Associated Press keeps telling me it is! Why would they do that? Do they not know that lying, like libel, is illegal--and unethical?

"There are media owners who are systematically disseminating false opinions."

Oh. Oh. OH! Now I get it. This isn't really about free speech, is it? No, of course not. It's about media ownership of the airwaves--which by their very nature are actually public, not private--and with them, the ownership of people's minds. That changes the debate considerably, wouldn't you say?

Hang on, there's more:

Legislator Rosario Pacheco said that so far the draft that they have of the law considers media crime the publication of false, manipulative or distorted information that causes "harm to the interests of the state" or that threatens "public morale or mental health." The assembly has discussed a maximum penalty of four years prison.

Journalist Asalia Venegis told Venezuelan Television (VTV), "This law project... incorporates everything that is unequivocally expressed in the Law of Journalist Practice and the Code of Ethics, which establish a series of perspectives over what the treatment of the news and the role of the journalist should be."

Diaz also suggested the law should focus on protection for journalists who are coerced into putting their name to, or writing articles that they don't believe. Therefore, she said, rather than going against freedom of expression, the law should "promote safe and true freedom of expression that reaches everyone and doesn't attack the peace of the citizens."

Further, she said in Article 20 of the Constitution, everyone has the right to freedom of expression, so long as they don't violate the rights of others or attack the state, the health of other people, or the public morale.

"Incorporates everything that is unequivocally expressed in the Law of Journalist Practice and the Code of Ethics."

Meaning, this proposed (not yet official!) bill not nearly as new and restrictive as it's been made out to be. That law and code both predate the Bolivarian Republic, by the way.

"Should focus on protection for journalists who are coerced into putting their name to, or writing articles that they don't believe."

Now who could those be? Surely not those who were told, as Andrés Izarra was by his bosses at RCTV during the coup of '02, "nothing pro-Chávez on screen"? (Izarra quit his formerly cushy job, rather than practise shitty journalism.)

"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, so long as they don't violate the rights of others or attack the state, the health of other people, or the public morale."

I wonder if the media barons know that. Because it seems to me that THEIR notion of freedom involves an awful lot of violating the rights of others, attacking the state, injuring the health of others, and wrecking the public morale.

Especially those at Globovisión, which has come under fire, and deservedly so. Their presstitutes have done everything from stealing confidential documents to deliberate provocation to...well, shit like this:

A small group of people identified with Lina Ron's pro-Chavez United for Venezuela Party (UPV) were filmed firing tear gas into the Globovision offices and clashing with police in La Florida, before making their getaway on motorcycles early Monday morning.

The attack occurred a day after Diosdado Cabello, head of Venezuela's telecommunications agency (CONATEL), announced the closure of 34 private radio stations for operating illegally or violating regulations.

Globovision, a virulently opposition television channel is loathed by grass-roots Chavez supporters, particularly for its involvement in the 2002 coup that briefly ousted the democratically elected Chavez from power. Many groups call for the channel to be taken off air.

While making clear that the government is willing revoke Globovision's broadcasting license due to its continuous violation of Venezuelan law, Chavez said, "These types of actions do damage to the socialist revolution, because they are counter-revolutionary."

Is Lina Ron merely a hot-headed would-be revolutionary suffering from an excess of zeal, as she appears, or is she something worse--a ringer for the opposition? Many Bolivarians think that Lina Ron could be an infiltrator; she's been called up on the carpet more than once for her "undisciplined" actions. It's amazing that she could have received so many prior warnings (from none other than Chavecito himself!) and still keep doing what she's doing; such "activism" on her part plays right into Globoterror's hands. (They insist that it was Chávez himself who sent her and her band of brigands to tear-gas them, which is a blatant lie. He would have to be an idiot to give orders of that nature, and anyone who's observed him in action, even if they don't like him, would still have to admit that the man is far from being dumb.)

Whatever Lina may be, it is not her right, or that of any other street-level activist, to provoke or intimidate even the worst TV station in Venezuela; it is the government's job to revoke its license (an action which is more than warranted, even under pre-Chávez laws) and turn its signal over to another station that will use it more responsibly. The last thing that anyone needs is to try to put out Globoterror's fires with gasoline.

In the meantime, the debate over whether there should be a new media law, and what it should entail if proposed, is still going on. As is Globoterror's on-air régime, which is still untouched--for now. You won't get that from anyone in the major media up here, and I leave it to you to guess why.

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 28, 2009

Oh noes! Hezbollah is in Venezuela! 11111Eleventy-one!!!!

Or at least, so says Avigdor Lieberman--a highly paranoid nutcase who seems to have hijacked the levers of power in Israel, though he was certainly not elected. Remind you of anyone? Anyhow, for those wondering if there are nefarious Lebanese terrorists on the Guajira peninsula in Venezuela (near the border of Colombia), here's one of the accused to clear the matter up once and for all:

Hi, meet Nicia Maldonado, accused Hezbollah terror cell member. As you can probably see, she's not even remotely Lebanese, much less a Muslim. She is an indigenous Venezuelan Wayúu, and they have their own Earth-based religion that's light years away from middle-eastern Islam. Here are her words on the whole dirty, disgusting schmier:

"This story about the existence of Hezbollah terror cells in Venezuelan territory is one more evidence of an upside-down world, in which Israelis kill Palestinian children and then say that we are the terrorists...I believe that more than an attack, this is the path the empires have taken, above all the terrorists who killed children in Palestine, and who now want to import this terrorism to Latin America, and with the installation of five US bases in South America, they're trying to create an armed environment....However, the Venezuelan people have turned themselves into the vanguard of revolutions in Latin America, and they must be prepared, above all in the social movements, to stand up against this attack against the peace and tranquility of this region."

Translation mine.

BTW, there is nothing of human make on the Guajira peninsula except a cluster of indigenous communities. And their worst problem? Getting enough water for their needs, and a clear demarcation of territory between Venezuela and Colombia.

I trust that clears it up...and proves Avigdor Lieberman (and any other racist morons subscribing to this unproven old chestnut) to be definitively full of shit.

July 26, 2009

Spike Lee does the Wrong Thing

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Oh, lordy, lordy, good Gordie. What is it with all these Yankee Doodle Dumbasses flying down to Venezuela to pontificate--unimpeded and, strangely, unarrested--about how there's no free speech in that country? Or that free speech is under attack there? Or (insert other ignorant "free speech" blather here)?

Yes, folks, it's happened again. This week's booby-prize winner is none other than Spike Lee--of whom, frankly, one expects much better things than this:

The director didn't directly refer to the dispute in Venezuela, but he said there are "no circumstances" under which news media should be silenced.

Visiting to screen his 1989 film "Do The Right Thing" and met with fans to discuss race relations, his career and the late Michael Jackson, Lee said he is "a firm believer in freedom of speech."

"It's my opinion that there are no circumstances where the media should be shut down," he said to loud applause. "I'm not talking about any country specifically, but globally."

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Of course, he would have to pick Venezuela, of all countries, to say that.

And of course, he would have to say it right as Globovisión--Venezuela's shittiest right-wing commercial channel--is coming under well-deserved fire for lying to the people, and for advocating treason and assassination and fascism. (It was one of four major TV channels all advocating for the coup of April 2002, just so's you know. All of which are still broadcasting, although one--RCTV--is now limited to cable and satellite. Its public-airwaves licence was not renewed, owing to numerous violations of Venezuelan broadcast law--many of them dating back long before Chavecito.)

And of course, he would have to say it, coming as he does from a country that has yanked broadcast licences for much, much lesser offences than Globovisión's crimes, as well as busting its own people for exercising their own free speech. (I'm not talking here about racists and Nazis--their speech, ironically, is protected as "free". I'm talking about pacifists. I'm talking about feminists. I'm talking about leftists. I'm talking, in short, about everything that isn't a racist or a Nazi in the US.)

So, here's MY free speech, freely exercised in defence of the right thing, and in denunciation of bullshit:

Hey Spike, why did you say that in Venezuela? What a dumb-ass thing to do. Why don't you go say that in Honduras? It's a much more appropriate venue. They're throwing Venezuelan journalists out of there for exercising not only their freedom of speech, but for supporting it in transmitting the voices of ordinary Hondurans, too. I'm talking here about the journalists of VTV and Telesur, the only channels in all of Latin America that have the cojones to call the coup by its right name, and to transmit pictures the "freedom-loving" coupmongers don't want the rest of the world to see.

For that matter, Spike, if you wanna see how free-speechy your own country really is, just run down Pennsylvania Avenue screaming "Death to the president!" at the top of your lungs. See how far you get with it.

Or, hey...just yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre, preferably while one of your own films is showing. See how much applause you get for that exercise of your lungs.

Are those things legal where YOU live, Spike? No? What a surprise.

Where I come from, uttering death threats isn't protected speech. Neither is racism, or sexism, or any other form of bigotry. Nor is yelling "fire" when there's no fire in the building. Here in Canada, stations have lost their broadcast licences for failing to comply with national broadcast standards.

And believe it or not, I'm 100% okay with all of that. I don't consider any of those things to be infringements on my freedom or anyone else's. Where I come from, the right to swing a fist ends where the next person's nose begins. Up here, only the Nazis scream "fascism" when someone deprives them of the privilege (which is not a right) of oppressing others. Which is quite an irony when you think about it.

But such is life in a free country, and Venezuela is, after 40 years of fake democracy, finally free. It has been for the last ten years, when the people themselves rewrote and ratified its constitution. It was they who decided it was a crime to threaten an elected president with death, a crime to forcibly remove him from power and spirit him out of the country, a crime to openly advocate for those things. In that, they've gone your country and mine one better. They exercised their freedom of speech to create, protect and defend their own democracy. They have a perfect right, therefore, to remove from the airwaves any station that offends against that democracy. That shit is NOT free speech, unless you're a fascist or an idiot.

So, Spike, how's about you think about it? Inform yourself as to what's really going on in Venezuela, compare it to what's already happened to various stations all over North America and Europe (without any "free speech" hullabaloo!), and if you're gonna talk about a free press, do it in Honduras. Or in Colombia. That's where the real crying need for free speech is right now.

Go on, Spike. Do the right thing for real.

PS: YVKE Mundial reports that Spike "would like to meet President Chávez". Funny how that never made it into the Dissociated Press's very slanted (read: anti-Venezuelan) piece. Hmmm, do you think someone's using him for propaganda? And Spike, maybe you should do like you said to the Venezuelans to do--attack them using your own voice. Would be a good idea, no?

July 25, 2009

Wankers of the Week: Pissing Jesus Off edition

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The people listed below don't know it, but the man pictured above was THE original socialist. And that's why he would be SO pissed off at them...

1. The Fucking C Street Mafia. For usurping Jesus's name. Newsflash, folks: You are not the Christ. Hell, you're not even halfway decent Christians. Oh, fuck it--you're not Christians at all, and neither is anyone who voted for you bozos. You don't love God, you don't love your fellow man; all you love is Mammon (why else the attacks on economic justice?). Oh, and you're all going straight to hell, so you can spare the prayers.

2. Sarah Fucking Palin. Why did this bogus maverick quit? It's the ethics scandals, stupid! Funny how it's always the chirrupy, syrupy "Christian" women who turn out to be the sleaziest skanks of all, eh? This one is especially pathetic; not only does she have her own "-gates" site, she can't even own up to her own numerous wrongdoings. And she's still on Twitter as AKGovSarahPalin, even though she's not the AK Gov anymore. Jesus doesn't like people like that!

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3. All these fucking wingnutters who were supposed to be meeting in Miami. Is that still on, or is it all kaputsky since their special guest, the car-stealing, coup-mongering general from Honduras, bailed?

4. Mark Fucking Sanford. Why did the C Street hypocrite refuse Obama's economic stimulus money for his state of South Carolina? Oh, probably because he'd have to account for how he spent it...and that would mean fewer first-class visits to his Argentine whore. Not to mention FAR fewer opportunities to claim that Jesus was finally back in control of him. Hey Mark, how about YOU just controlling yourself? What a novel idea. Then Jesus wouldn't be so fucking pissed at you (which he still is--bank on it.)

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5. Chip Fucking Pickering. Shit, who needs gays to wreck traditional marriage when you've got hypocritical, sleazy C Street wingnuts whose wives are suing their mistresses?

6. and 7. These two old motherfuckers pictured below:

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For all the reasons stated above, and then some.

8. Last but not least, the fucking Roman Catholic church leaders of Honduras. Despite their many and vociferous denials, they are plainly in favor of the coup. Praising it with faint damnation SERIOUSLY pisses Jesus off. So does playing sleazy, anti-Venezuelan politics. Shame on their antidemocratic asses!

And that's it for this week, folks. Go now, and wank no more.

July 24, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: An unlikely hero takes the streets of Caracas

From Venezuela, a cinematic offering that promises to be full of Bolivarian fun:

He's likable, a gentleman, well versed in the ideals of Simón Bolívar, respects traffic lights, and...he's a biker. His name? Libertador Morales, "The Justicer", who will be making the rounds of movie theatres as of July 31, in this year's first showing by the Villa del Cine.

The author and director of this film is Efterpi Charalambidis, a Venezuelan filmmaker whose first feature film is based on the daily reality in which she was born and grew up: the centre of Caracas and its various denizens.

In this scenario, she developed Libertador Morales, a young mototaxista and messenger who is affected by crimes occurring in his neighborhood. So he creates an alter ego: "El Justiciero", and by night, with a black outfit and a fast motorbike, he breaks all the rules to stop a band of thieves terrorizing his community.

This contrast, according to Charalambidis, defines various aspects of this character, who comes into conflict with his concept of justice in assuming this attitude, and must face the consequences it brings.

[...]

Regarding the message she wants to send, the filmmaker commented that it's also a reflection on the topic of justice and powerlessness against insecurity, and that she also wanted to vindicate the motorcyclists, given that the public has a negative image of them.

"There are lots of guys like Libertador, I've known them, but the city doesn't put limits on them either and, as I said to one of the actors of the film, the one who plays Libertador's best friend: It's not a case of evil, but of practicality--they have to move by the rhythms of the city."

Translation mine.

Incidentally, there are literally hundreds (or thousands?) of real-life Libertadors buzzing the streets of Caracas on their motorbikes. Not only do they ferry ordinary folks around on their daily errands, they were heroes during the coup of '02, when they became alternative-media messengers who carried the truth about the events--a truth the lamestream media refused to show--from street to street, shouting it from their bikes. They also helped carry the injured to hospital, and were active in the protests against the Carmona dictatorship.

I wonder when and if this film will be made available on DVD up here. I'd love to see it!

July 19, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Sing along with Chavecito and El Ecuadorable!

This was too cute not to post. Chavecito can really sing!

July 17, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Bicentennial in Bolivia

The capital city of La Paz celebrated its 200th year of independence this past week, and it was a big bash...so big that leaders from all over Latin America came to take part. Check out the luminaries:

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El Ecuadorable showed up looking very groovy in his very grooviest shirt. Check out that pose! Do you think he got thunderous applause?

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Lugo's spotlight was so bright, he had to wear shades.

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The legitimate chancellor of Honduras, Patricia Rodas, also showed up to represent her country. There was understandable pain in her eyes, but she had to know that the good guys were in solidarity.

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And of course, Big 'n' Handsome was there, looking like a teddy bear in his cozy red scarf...

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There was also an unprecedented military parade in which traditionally-dressed indigenous walked shoulder to shoulder with those in uniform. These well-dressed cholitas carried a banner of a military hero, and a female one at that: Juana Azurduy de Padilla.

But you know who shone the brightest? Take a wild guess...and try not to let your tongue hang out too far:

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July 16, 2009

Chavecito to tour Gaza

From Panorama Digital via Aporrea, a short item:

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, intends to visit the Gaza Strip with the next humanitarian caravan, British parliamentarian George Galloway confirmed yesterday.

"President Chávez will be coming with me," Galloway told Gaza journalists. He did not specify a date.

George Galloway arrived in Gaza yesterday by way of Egypt, accompanied by a shipment of humanitarian and medical aid.

Translation mine.

Watch out for those Israelis! We know what they're like...

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July 13, 2009

Vampire Bat Report

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The vampire bat, of the family Desmodontidae, is native to Central and South America. Its human cousin, however, is much more bloodthirsty, as the following stories should show...

First, Honduras. The de-fuckto dictatorship has begun massacring its most outspoken opponents. So far, two leftist leaders are dead. Here's their story, via Aporrea:

The popular leftist militant director, Roger Iván Bados, has been murdered in Honduras by persons unknown in the northern city of San Pedro Sula, according to anti-coup sources on Sunday.

Bados was shot three times around 8:00 pm on Saturday. He was leader of the Popular Bloc and National Resistance Front Against the Coup D'état in San Pedro Sula.

The national co-ordinator of the Bloc and Front, Juan Barahona, made the denunciation to Venezuela's Bolivarian News Agency (ABN), saying he considered the act to be a political assassination.

According to Barahona, a man on a bicycle stopped near Bados's home and fired three shots at Bados, killing him.

"All this is part of the repressive atmosphere and actions of the coup government which will not stop oppressing the people, because that's the only way to maintain themselves in power--terrorizing and killing the people," Barahona says.

Barahona also indicated that the de facto government has no popular support, "so no better option remains for them other than killing popular movement leaders, there is no other way for this government to sustain itself."

Bados was a member of the leftist Democratic Unity party and of the Popular Bloc of San Pedro Sula, 250 km north of the capital city of Tegucigalpa, and formerly president of a union of cement-factory workers.

The second victim is Ramón García, 40, who was forced to step down from a bus in which he was riding in Callejones, in the western Honduran department of Santa Bárbara.

The information was confirmed by a UD party leader, Renán Valdés, who said that García "was removed from a bus by persons unknown."

He added that the incident also resulted in wounds for the victim's sister and the wife of his nephew.

Translation mine.

Meanwhile, in Bolivia, the vampires have gruesomely claimed a relative of a leader we know and love:

Marco Guía, attorney for the family of Rufina Morales, aunt of the President of Bolivia, who was found dismembered in June in Cochabamba, denounced on Wednesday that this crime was part of a plan to kill president Evo Morales, hatched by the Croatian-Bolivian mercenary Eduardo Rózsa Flores, who headed an irregular group dismantled by police in April.

"Upon reviewing the antecedents of this crime, I have found evidence of a flagrant attempt to assassinate President Evo Morales, a political vengeance on the part of separatists promoting terrorism," Guía said.

Guía appeared before the public prosecutor's office of the District of La Paz to denounce that "the next victim of these persons' criminal plans will be the President."

He said that the persons who murdered and dismembered Rufina Morales did it as part of a vendetta, as vengeance for the killing of Rózsa Flores and two other militants in a clash with police, and also to send a message.

Among those responsible for the death of Rufina Morales, Guía named a Brazilian by the surname of Rodríguez, recruited in the El Abra jail in Cochabamba, and two Bolivian fugitives hailing from Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.

The victim, in her seventies, was dismembered after her death, according to scientific police investigations.

According to the attorney, "Rodríguez confessed that he dismembered the body of the President's aunt and that it was part of a political vengeance." He connected the killer with the terrorist cell linked to Rózsa.

Translation also mine.

So, it looks like this Transylvanian yucko, Rózsa Flores, is not as dead as we'd devoutly hoped. Someone please issue the Bolivian federales some silver bullets!

Lest all this murder and mayhem get you down, though, fear not--Bina the Vampire Slayer has just the garlic for you, dahlings. I'm told that laughter drives a stake through the fat black hearts of the wicked, so here's a funny item for you concerning a couple of Venezuelan monsters:

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Leopoldo Castillo (alias El Matacuras, "the priest-killer") and Alberto Federico Ravell, evil media mogul, try on a winning strategy to woo Barack Obama--Maria Corina Machado's too-short skirts and hard-to-walk-in heels. Hey, it worked for Maria Corina--she got a date with Dubya! Who knew the undead had such nice gams?

PS: To the Hungarian spamtard below, and anyone else thinking of denying what really happened in Bolivia: Fuhgeddaboudit. You're gonna get banned, you're gonna get hung out to dry as a Wanker of the Week (with your e-mail and IP number on display to the world), and no, you're not gonna go unchallenged. You may wanna think twice before you spam this blog with any more of your fascist shit. This entry is now closed to further comments. Thanks, and get fucked!

July 12, 2009

Venezuelan journos menaced in Honduras

According to Aporrea, journalists from the Venezuelan state channel, VTV, and the international Latin American news channel, Telesur, have been detained and threatened in Honduras. Why the Venezuelans, of all people? Because they are the only ones daring to report fully and honestly on the coup a it unfolds. And because, as state-funded journalists, they are automatically presumed to be Chavistas. And as such, they are the "tyranny" of a good example. Can't have that, can we...

Here is some relevant video from the Aporrea report:

The first news reports of the detentions. The journos had their passports confiscated by the "authorities" who, at this time, are no authorities at all, but are shock troops for the coup. The director of Channel 36 in Tegucigalpa recognizes and supports the good work the Venezuelans are trying to do in getting the truth out to a larger world audience. And a human-rights commission member denounces the clear violation of the rights of Hondurans--as well as the foreign reporters trying to do their job.

The Venezuelans have since been released from custody, but threatened--and ordered to leave Honduras by the military regime.

And to see just how uncomfortably complete and honest (and BS-free) Venezuelan reporting on the coup can be, check out this link. Dossier, hosted by the intrepid Walter Martínez, devotes a full hour to the coup events "en pleno desarrollo" (as they unfold). The report notes HUGE demonstrations against the coup (and for the missing Honduran president, Mel Zelaya), with a strong Afro-Honduran and indigenous/mestizo presence; the anti-coup sentiment cuts across all color lines among the middle and lower classes. (It's also worth observing that every one of the coup perpetrators is very oligarchic and very, very white. Not a brown face among them.)

There are reports of beatings and killings which the lamestream (and pro-coup) media are trying to whitewash out (literally!). Since the coup perps have been excoriating the international community for refusing to recognize them as a legitimate government, it's not surprising that they don't want critical, honest reporters in the country. Little wonder, then, that they're picking specifically on the Venezuelans. Among other things, Venezuela has a large number of truly independent journalists among the ranks in its government and socialist-activist groups. Some are bloggers; others work for independent, alternative or community media. But all of them, to a person, are indignant at the removal of a legitimate president from his post in Honduras, especially since said prez is taking leaves from the book of their own popular leader--a man who puts everything, right up to and including the new constitution--to a popular vote, and abides by it.

And of course, the scenes playing themselves out in Honduras are all too reminiscent of something that happened in Venezuela seven years ago. Something that was also not reported accurately or completely by the local right-wing commercial media, but which the people themselves undertook to report when the newspapers and broadcasters refused to do their job.

PS: For a good translation of the Aporrea piece, see Machetera.

PPS: More good info on Zelaya as a politician @ Machetera; helpful backgrounder to the whole Honduran constitutional Schmier @ Harper's.

PPPS: Chavecito has stepped up to condemn the non-government of Honduras. He actually calls the de facto non-president "Goriletti"--"gorila" is an old LatAm expression for right-wing military dictators. Video here.

Hillary lies down with dogs

...and gets up with predictable results. Here's her idiotic, inflammatory interview with an infamous Venezuelan human-rights abuser turned Globoterror presstitute, named Leopoldo Castillo (airing out his muy mal inglés, which I'm sure gave him quite the pitiyanki hard-on):

It's in two parts, so don't forget to click through. If your stomach is tough enough for it, that is. Mine gave out about four minutes in, when El Matacuras (that's Castillo's nickname; it means "priest-killer", for reasons I'll get to shortly) starts getting all unctuous with the leading question of the day.

And of course, Her Royal Clintoness falls straight into his trap. Just as the major US media did (citing only oppo media sources, natch). Shameful.

Clearly Hillary has NO idea what the fuck she's talking about, but what's more important is that she has NO idea who the fuck she's talking TO, either. Here's a little something the major commercial media in Venezuela won't tell you about El Matacuras, starting with a rather crucial photo:

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That's El Matacuras during the 1980s, that golden decade for right-wing thuggery in Central America. He's clearly drunk off his ass (a condition he was frequently in, I'm told), and he's flanked by Roberto D'Aubuisson, Salvadoran human-rights abuser and founding father of the fascist ARENA party, and José Napoleón Duarte, often mischaracterized as a centrist (he wasn't; he was also on the far right, just in a different party). This was taken when El Matacuras was Venezuelan ambassador to El Salvador--and when the right-wing governments of the decade were killing nuns and priests and even a well-known archbishop with impunity. During that time, we heard nary a word of boo from the United States; on the contrary, the Reagan/Bush State Dept. called them Great Democratic Leaders, one and all--which of course it would, seeing as it sent in the Marines repeatedly to install them. Machetera can fill you in on all the fun stuff, she's already addressed this (as usual, I'm fashionably late to this particular party.)

Now, I know the State Dept. reads this blog. I've been tipped off by a blogging buddy who spotted them on his Sitemeter--they cruised into his blog from an entry on mine. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if this entry ended up meeting the eyes of HRC her own selfe. So, Hill, I really wanna know--WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING, HANGING OUT WITH THESE FASCIST SCUMBUCKETS? And who are you to prate about the "need" for "press freedom" in Venezuela--which has way more of it than the US does? If FUX Snooze openly called for you to be assassinated, as Globovisión does daily with Chavecito, I think you'd change your tune in a helluva hurry. Haven't you seen The Revolution Will Not Be Televised? (Oh, here. Enjoy.)

So why the double standard, Hill? Why have you morphed into Blondoleezza Rice? Oh yeah, I forgot--it's Venezuela, and this Chávez guy is probably standing in the way of your realizing a better packet of kickbacks from Corporate Amurrica, who aren't profiteering quite as hand-over-fist in Venezuela as they used to do before. Silly me! You're the woman who sold out to Big Insurance back when your hubby was El Presidente de los Estados Unidos, so of course this comes as less of a shock to me than one might think. Your people are still without free universal healthcare. Venezuelans, on the other hand...oh, just read this and weep. What was it you used to advocate for as first lady, again?

If you have any morals left, Hill, you'd do well to stop taking the local presstitutes at their word, and put a country mile (or ten thousand) between yourself and them. Or, as the old saying goes...oh, what was it you get up with again when you lie down with dogs?

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Its taxonomical name is Ctenocephalides canis, and I hear it's a real bitch to get rid of. Just ask El Matacuras. He's still got his ears full of 'em.

June 12, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito at Petrocaribe

The Big Guy arrives and, as usual, is mobbed by reporters. I'm too busy admiring his loud (but FABULOUS!) outfit to hear what he's saying. (Which is undoubtedly loud but fabulous, too. Isn't he always?)

June 4, 2009

Rafael Correa unbreaks my heart!

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Hey Raf, are you taking requests? I'd like you to sing Toni Braxton for me...

Remember how, many moons ago, the Ecuadorable One broke my heart by not joining the ALBA? Well, have I got news for YOU!

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez today informed that Ecuador's official incorporation into the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) is to take place at a meeting that should be attended by all the member nation presidents.

In a statement on the Venezolana de Televisión's "Dando y Dando" program, Chávez affirmed that President Rafael Correa had ratified his country's entry into the regional mechanism.

He announced that the meeting to officially inaugurate Ecuador as part of ALBA is scheduled for June 24 in the rural area of Carabobo, and affirmed that ALBA is an integration mechanism different from any process preceding it on the continent, and which makes emphasis on fighting poverty and social exclusion. The current member states are Venezuela, Nicaragua, Dominica, Bolivia, Cuba, Honduras, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Chalk up one more educated type who knows what's economically good for his country. That ROCKS.

We can haz REAL Venezuelan oppo intellectuals, pls?

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"Foolish Venezuelans! It's Chávez's fault that you've lost the freedom to suffer from the global crisis of capitalism!"

I don't think I need to translate the rest of this banner (drawn by El Tano) from Aporrea.org, do you?

So, I guess you heard all about the debate-that-didn't-happen recently in Venezuela, eh? You probably heard that brave Mario Vargas Llosa, ex-Peruvian writer self-exiled to Spain after a spectacularly failed presidential bid of his own, challenged Chavecito to a duel of wits, and the latter took one look at the dropped gauntlet, screamed like a little girl, and ran.

Well, that's the mainstream media version. Which, of course, is bullshit. The real version goes more like this...

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, while celebrating 10 years of his weekly TV show, 'Hello President', invited participants from a right wing conference taking place in Caracas, four times, to a live debate on the show. After initially accepting, the right wing intellectuals then proposed different conditions for the debate and finally refused to participate.

Chavez made the proposal on Thursday, the first day of what was to be a four day marathon of his national issues discussion show following its 10 year anniversary.

He proposed a debate about the crisis of capitalism and "any other issues" between pro-capitalist intellectuals and pro-socialist intellectuals, specifically between those invited by the Ministry of Culture to attend a conference on the crisis of capitalism, and those attending the "International Conference for Freedom and Democracy: The Latin American Challenge" organised by the Centre for the Dissemination of Economic Knowledge for Freedom (CEDICE).

Chavez had proposed the debate for Saturday, but it did not happen, and on Sunday 'Hello President' was cancelled. The Ministry of Communications and Information press release said it had been cancelled "for technical reasons".

So, turns out it was the right-wingers who all screamed like someone had poured hot sauce down their pants, and refused to debate some very capable, genuine, for-realz left-wing intellectuals, with Chavecito generously offering to sit in as moderator. Big surprise there! Now, what were those "technical reasons"?

Well, for one, Chavecito found out from a reliable source (his own justice minister, that is) that there was an assassination plot afoot in El Salvador, where right-wing terrorists were waiting to shoot down the Cuban plane he and Evo were due to arrive on together for the inauguration of their compañero, the newly elected Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes.

The other "technical reasons" were as follows:

On Friday morning, following Chavez's proposal, three of the right wing intellectuals from the CEDICE conference, Mexican writer Enrique Krauze, Mario Vargas and Mexican intellectual Jorge Castaneda publicly announced that they were available to attend the debate. However they asked to debate the president.

That day at 5pm Chavez formally called for the debate for 11pm on Saturday in the presidential palace, to be broadcast live on Hello President. He said, "Even though I said I'd step aside and let [the intellectuals] debate, I accept, with those who want to accompany me...Without avoiding any topic, any topic is valid."

At 6.40 pm the president of CEDICE, Rafael Alfonzo responded in a press conference saying they accepted the debate but they proposed, "that for greater efficiency and clarity that it be carried out between two people, the president Hugo Chavez Frias and the writer Mario Vargas Llosa."

And 7.40 pm, Chavez commented on his show that it was "regrettable...they don't want to discuss, what they want is a show," said they were still invited. He confirmed he could help moderate but that the conditions stayed the same.

"What they want is to personalise it and they ask for fairness, if it's as an intellectual, I'm a soldier. [Vargas] is a laureate intellectual," he said.

Vargas responded on CNN accusing Chavez of being dishonest, confused, and uncertain of his ideas, and said "[Chavez's] proposal to debate wasn't serious, it was just a gesture or an ambush."

Here, we can see that the vice-regal Vargas is projecting his pompous ass off. In fact, it was the oppos whose proposal wasn't serious. If it had been, they would have attended the debate, regardless of conditions. That didn't happen. They wanted a made-for-TV faux-forum in which to "challenge" an "uneducated" man* they're openly calling a "dictator"--the better to win brownie points from all their fellow "intellectuals" (notice the quotation marks; there for a reason, kiddies.) It was they who were being dishonest, confused, and uncertain of their ideas.

Now, why do you suppose that is?

Well, as usual, Your Humble One has her thoughts. Vargas Llosa & Co. were all obviously there to try to prop up an economic theory that is crumbling all over the globe right now. They're still defending neoliberal capitalism, even though it failed more than twenty years ago in Latin America, has failed steadily in Africa during the same time span, and is now playing catch-up in the Northern Hemisphere as well.

It's very touching to see how tenaciously they cling to this outmoded idea, which Venezuelans decided to dump most unceremoniously during the Caracazo of February and early March, 1989. But it's also sad, because it tells you something about all these right-wing "intellectuals"--namely, that they have not had ONE new idea in more than twenty years.

Maybe that's why they're so reluctant to debate actual leftist intellectuals, and why they'd rather just stage a show in which they bombard their favorite non-white whipping boy with bullshit and see how much of it sticks.

Of course, even if Chavecito had agreed to be on that show, which he was wise enough not to do, he would still have pwned them all--including that foul-tempered, hair-triggered, overrated Mario Vargas Sore-Loser. And he would have done it armed with nothing but the plain old facts. One of which, inconveniently for the oppos, is that Venezuela has been doing exceedingly well for almost as long as he's been in office, and that the global economic crisis probably won't hurt it as badly as it will all the other countries who have not been as quick to decouple from that miserable, fraudulent "market" economy that Vargas Llosa is still so devoted to defending.

Not bad for a guy with, supposedly, no education.*

*Chavecito is, in fact, PLENTY educated. Besides his military-academy officer training, which is equal to that of any patrician white guy from the "democratic" high military command of the ancien régime, he has university degrees in engineering and political science. He is also a voracious reader and an autodidact to beat them all. Which no oppo "journalist" or "intellectual" will dare to accurately note; to hear them tell it, he was only ever a barefoot, illiterate grunt, who learned nothing in the army except how to shoot. (Wow, the oppos lied to you again, people of the white Anglo world. Who knew they were capable of such a thing?)

"UP" meme takes off

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I'm not so sure setting them loose on a tepui in Venezuela is such a good idea.

June 3, 2009

Stoopid Hugo Chávez comparisons: Spot the difference

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Why this photographic side-by-side? You'll see in a moment, kiddies. After I post the latest dumbass meme to crop up in the "compare Hugo Chávez to the tyrant of your choice" game, that is...

So while Chávez may not be in the same league as Kim Jong-il when it comes to destroying one's own country, the Venezuelan leader is still in serious danger of taking his nation's economy down the road of ruin. And although as oil prices have come down, he appears to have reined in some of his more crackpot ideas that involved lashing out millions of petrodollars, the signs are not good, as epitomized by the latest wave of nationalizations in the country. These included the Techint-related briquette producers, tube manufacturer Tavsa, oil service companies and Santander's banking unit. Chávez may be paying compensation for taking over all these companies (including in the recent past steelmaker Sidor, AES's electric power company and telecom Cantv, among others) but that's not going to help the Venezuelan people. The state, particularly the crony-ridden Venezuelan state, cannot manage these companies efficiently and no matter how much compensation Chávez pays to the former owners, ultimately the people working in those companies and the people who use their goods and services will be the ones that suffer most.

Yokay. So. The picture on the top left is of an actual, working douchebag. The picture at top right is of the author of the above drivel, one David Roberts, who presumably works for the douchey biznews site, BNAmericas.com. A good visual joke? I hope so.

The punchline is that the paragraph I snipped comes AFTER a whole slew of stuff totally refuting the notion that Venezuela is anywhere NEAR the road to becoming North Korea. Meaning that this forced comparison is a tortured bit of chop-logic at best. Personally, I prefer to just call it by its right name, i.e. BULLSHIT. But someone still saw fit to pay the author and publish it! Just as they used to pay people to publish bogus comparisons of Chavecito to Robert Mugabe, before that, too, got old.

A pity that Otto has already awarded his most coveted prize for this week, or I'd nominate this guy. Maybe he can be runner-up?

In the meantime, here is another comparison to ponder:

Q. What's the difference between a bizmedia anti-Chavista and a douchebag?

A. One of them is empty, obsolete and routinely sticks his head where the sun doesn't shine; the other is a douchebag.

Tree falls in forest. No one hears it. Therefore...

Oh fucking hell. Look what just happened in Peru!

Alan García, alias President Twobreakfasts, has just sent in the riot cops to seize a TV station for nonpayment of debts. The station is off the air in the meantime.

Funny how HE can do that and no one calls him a tyrant...but if a certain guy in Venezuela refuses to renew a TV station's on-air licence because it has a history of broadcast-standards violations (including porn, and incitement to a fascist coup, among other things), suddenly that elected Venezuelan leader is a dictator.

No, I don't understand it, either.

UPDATE, 10:40 am: Otto has more.

June 2, 2009

Congratulations, Mauricio Funes!

Another left-wing dimple-dude gets sworn in. Sadly, both Chavecito and Evo had to beg off and miss this historic inauguration. No worries--they'll meet with their new compañero ASAP. (Chavecito already has.)

Noteworthy details here: the archaic Spanish expressions, and the fact that the oath of office was delivered as a "protest". Also, note the loud cheers from the crowd. This dude is P-O-P-U-L-A-R!

UPDATE, 4:00 pm: According to the Venezuelan TV program Contragolpe (Counterpunch), hosted by Vanessa Davies, the real reason Chavecito couldn't make it has just been revealed--there's been yet another foiled attempt on his life. This is not entirely surprising--what else was that recent failed Vargas Llosa visit about, if not to justify the removal of the non-dictator, by non-democratic (as usual!) means? Actually, I'm almost at the point of yawning at shit like this. The fascists have nothing to recommend them, so of course they reach for murder. No word yet on why Evo couldn't make it, but my educated guess is he has his hands full of something similar.

UPDATE #2, ca. 9:15 pm: Oh look, all the stupid-ass English-language "news" sites out there have the same problem. The LAHT's resident clown-in-Caracas, Jeremy Morgan, posits Chavecito's no-show in El Salvador as a "mystery", before kneeling down in front of Antonio Ledezma's open zipper for the umpteenth time and making up a lot of shit in lieu of actually reporting a rather important story. Ditto the American Stinker's Adolfo G. Fabregat, who mentions the whole incident only to call it (snottily) "a continuing soap opera". What's the matter, people, can't you tune in to VTV? Or are you afraid you might get some facts into your lite stories by accident? Damn, I'm scooping you all in my sleep, you lazy imbecilic presstitutes. And I don't even have to leave my study here on the north shore of Lake Ontario to do it, either...

UPDATE #3, ca. 9:30 pm: Here's some relevant video on the matter, in Spanish:

Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua, confirms that both Chavecito and Evo were no-shows due to security reasons. Implicated in the foiled assassination plan are certain, as yet unnamed, officers of the Salvadoran army (who have right-wing ties to the old ARENA hegemony of the past couple of decades), the CIA, and the Venezuelan fascist, Alejandro Peña Esclusa. Venezuelan chancellor Nicolás Maduro says the Salvadoran authorities are currently investigating the plot, so further details are still unknown. Maduro also says that the would-be putschists have international ties, most notably to the terrorist of the Venezuelan ancien régime, Luis Posada Carriles, still a fugitive from justice (and likely to remain so) in Miami. He confirms that the international right-wing are banding together in their efforts to kill democratically elected leftist leaders. Shades of Operation Condor? You damn betcha.

Still waiting for the English media to twig to this story...ho, hum, twiddly-thumb...

UPDATE #4, June 4, ca. 11:00 am: Found this on the Daily Sketch, with more details PLUS an anti-Chavecito website advertising on Craig's List (shame on them for taking this ad!)

Other English media still deader than the dodo on this story. Why am I not surprised?

May 30, 2009

Mario Vargas LOSER!

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"Must smash that pesky insect! Why does he taunt me so?"

Well, Mario--maybe it's because he's a popular, elected leader, while you're a sad, old, sold-out fart with no new ideas of his own, who lost his own election bid rather badly for that and other reasons. Kiddies, this is what the bitter old guy came to Venezuela for. Basically, to preach the same old racist-putschist-capitalist gospel that he thinks should pay off far more handsomely than it actually does:

Hundreds of right-wing political leaders and representatives of pro-capitalist think tanks from across the world gathered in Venezuela's luxurious Caracas Palace Hotel this week for an exclusive event titled "International Conference for Freedom and Democracy: The Latin American Challenge."

A major theme of the conference was how to put an end to the political changes been carried out by President Hugo Chávez and a wave of other progressive presidents who have been elected across the region over the past ten years.

Peruvian author and former Peruvian presidential candidate Mario Vargas Llosa, one of the high profile keynote speakers at the event, framed the Chávez government as the chief obstacle to the progress of capitalist free markets in the region.

"The path of progress is not the path of collectivism, it is not the path of state-ism, it is not the path of social property," said Vargas Llosa, referring to new forms of social property that the Chávez government has promoted to co-exist with private property, which remains protected by the Venezuelan Constitution. "Property is individual and private or it is not property," said the author.

Gee, that's about as original as an old, worn-out cookie cutter. Hey Mario, ever hear of public schools? Public hospitals? Public roads? For that matter, how about the public airport at Maiquetía, by which you arrived in the country whose leader you came to insult? All of those and more are property--and they're not individual OR private!

Vargas proceeded to encourage the wealthy and powerful conference attendees to impede the Chávez administration's progressive policies, which have been approved by a decisive majority of Venezuelans in more than a dozen democratic elections. "If this path is not interrupted, Venezuela will be converted into the second Cuba of Latin America," said Vargas Llosa. "We should not permit it. That is why we are here."

This is hilarious, coming from a man who once ardently supported and defended Fidel Castro, back before the plagues ate his brain. Kiddies, allow me to present and translate for you the words of one Mario Vargas Llosa, back in the day:

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That was his 1967 speech upon receiving the Rómulo Gallegos prize for his novel, The Green House. Here's what it says, in my own translation:

The American reality, clearly, offers the writer a veritable banquet of reasons to be a conscientious objector and live in discontent.

Societies where injustice is law, a paradise of ignorance, of exploitation, of inequalities that blind one with misery, of economic, cultural and moral condemnation, our tumultuous lands submit to us sumptuous materials, examples, to show in fiction, in a manner direct or indirect, after facts, dreams, testimonies, allegories, nightmares, or visions, that reality is badly made, that life must change.

But in ten, twenty or fifty years, the time for social justice will have come for all our countries, as it has for Cuba today, and a united Latin America will have emancipated itself from the empire that robs it, the classes who exploit it, and the forces that today offend and oppress it.

I hope that this hour arrives as soon as possible, and that Latin America enters, once and for all, into dignity and modern life, and that socialism will free us from our anachronism and our horror.

Emphasis as in the original.

Gee, Mario, what the hell happened? You've gone from being an ardent, pan-Latin-American socialist, to being a neoconservative imperialist--living in Spain, no less! But I suppose you don't remember having said that. After all, it was more than 40 years ago, and a lot of things have happened since then. No doubt you took one look at what happened to Chile and Argentina a few years later, not to mention Bolivia that same year, and decided that maybe this whole rebellious, dignified socialism thing wasn't such a good idea after all. It's not hard to see why; the iron heel of fascism was a pretty good persuader that maybe capitalism was the way to go after all--eh, Mario?

Of course, there are other great writers, your contemporaries, who haven't given up on socialism. Eduardo Galeano, who lived in Argentina after fascists had driven him out of his native Uruguay (and just before the junta took over there in 1976), was menaced frequently at his office by the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance. They threatened him with death. His response? "The schedule for calling in threats, Sir, is from six to eight!" He wrote this incident up in his book, Days and Nights of Love and War. It was originally published in Cuba. He, too, is an award-winner. He also has not stopped being a socialist; he's a great observer of Chavecito's Venezuela, and these days, I daresay, his oeuvre is more keenly appreciated there than your old stuff is. (Have you read it, Mario? Does it shame you? Or did you quit touching things with Cuban germs on them before that amazing book came out?)

It would certainly give pause to me, Mario, if I were like you--an old sell-out. Fortunately, I'm not there yet; if I'm lucky and if I keep my head, I never will be. I can't help thinking of what Che Guevara once wrote in a letter to his mother: "Not only am I not moderate now, I shall try never to be. And if I ever detect in myself that the sacred flame has given way to a timid votive flicker, the least I can then do is vomit over my own shit."

But like I said, I'm not there yet. I'll have to vomit over other people's shit instead. Yours, Mario, will have to suffice.

May 29, 2009

Oppo journalists in Venezuela--such victims!

Or maybe not.

Globovisión, Venezuela's equivalent of FUX Snooze, has been a news item in itself for the past few weeks, and for all the wrong reasons. Here's one of them:

Video in Spanish, but the pictures speak for themselves. Watch the chick with the blond bob, the little hand-held camera, and the bared teeth. Aggressive, isn't she? Her name is Beatriz Adrián, and she's supposed to be a journalist. But it seems that her real job is that of agent provocateur (or should that be agente provocateuse?) in the ongoing, futile and dirty fight by the ancien régime of Venezuela--now the opposition--to oust a popular, freely and democratically elected president.

So how is she a provoc?

Well, a few months ago, she claimed to have been harrassed by Chavista goons at a bakeshop where she and a friend went to breakfast one day. Turns out, the "Chavista harassers" were nothing of the sort; they were private security men on the job at the shop, and they didn't touch her. But she squeaked, and she squawked, and her "report" made the news on her channel, where everyone rallied around poor, brave, beleaguered Beatriz--at least until Mario Silva dissected the whole story on his VTV show, La Hojilla, and proved it to be more full of holes than a strip of Brussels lace. The defamed men, meanwhile, went to the authorities with their side of the story. (If you click on the link, you'll immediately see what was really at play--the guys she complained about are kind of non-white.)

More recently, Beatriz thought she'd scored a journalistic coup by bribing a National Assembly staffer to hand over some confidential documents. The staffer lost her job; Beatriz, again, got the kind of media exposure she hadn't counted on when the building's security cameras caught the whole shebang. But unlike the luckless lady from the National Assembly, she got to keep her job. After all, Globovisión needed her...

Which brings us to the videos above. Beatriz Adrián, apparently, has gone from phony "victim" of private security to taking the job on herself. When a VTV reporter, Erika Ortega Sanoja, tried to ask some questions of poor deluded old Mario Vargas Llosa, who was in country to make an ass of himself at a "forum" supporting the putschy ancien régime in the name of "freedom and democracy" (and who, incidentally, was NOT "detained" by security at any time--more on this later), Beatriz took exception to Erika's questioning, and repeatedly pushed and shoved her. At one point, witnesses say, she hit Erika on the head with her microphone; the latter ended up seeking first aid at the airport's infirmary, and reported the assault to the civil defence officer on duty. Beatriz Adrián, however, exhibited only rudeness and defiance throughout the encounter. She notably asked NO questions of Vargas Llosa herself, which is a very unjournalistic sort of thing to do. Instead, she kept spinning around, snarling, taking pictures of everyone around her, as if gathering evidence that she had been the victim of aggression--interesting, since the video cameras of more than one channel, including her own, caught her being very much the aggressor. At several points, she launched herself at other journalists present, including a cameraman for the Caracas community channel, Avila TV. (She missed. Kind of a metaphor, don'tcha think?)

By now you might be wondering why all this journalistic own-goaling is happening. Well, Globovisión is slipping closer and closer to the edge of having its licence revoked. As I've noted before, this sort of thing happens all the time in democracies when a broadcaster violates the terms of use for the public airwaves. But in Venezuela it isn't supposed to happen, and certainly not to overtly right-wing channels looking to overthrow a democratically elected government. Especially not if the owners of the channel also happen to own other highly lucrative things--such as, in the case of Globo's Guillermo Zuloaga, two Toyota dealerships recently busted for jacking up the price of the merchandise two- and threefold, thus ripping off the car-buying public. But again, that's grist for another story. Perhaps I'll make the entry about how this sort of price-gouging is emblematic of the "freedom and democracy" that Mario Vargas Llosa came so touchingly to defend, at great risk to the security of his person...from self-appointed guards like Beatriz Adrián.

Such poor victims, the whole lot of them--piss-poor victims, that is.

May 26, 2009

Does Israel get its news stories from bombproof Colombian laptops?

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Well, if Israel doesn't, I know who does--the Dissociated Press, of course!

Venezuela and Bolivia are supplying Iran with uranium for its nuclear program, according to a secret Israeli government report obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

The two South American countries are known to have close ties with Iran, but this is the first allegation that they are involved in the development of Iran's nuclear program, considered a strategic threat by Israel.

"There are reports that Venezuela supplies Iran with uranium for its nuclear program," the Foreign Ministry document states, referring to previous Israeli intelligence conclusions. It added, "Bolivia also supplies uranium to Iran."

The report concludes that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is trying to undermine the United States by supporting Iran.

Venezuela and Bolivia are close allies, and both regimes have a history of opposing U.S. foreign policy and Israeli actions. Venezuela expelled the Israeli ambassador during Israel's offensive in Gaza this year, and Israel retaliated by expelling the Venezuelan envoy. Bolivia cut ties with Israel over the offensive.

There was no immediate comment from officials in Venezuela or Bolivia on the report's allegations.

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Funny, but Bolivia DOES have something to say, and I hereby translate for the benefit of the Israelis--and their Dissociated Press pals:

The minister of the Presidency of Bolivia, Juan Ramón Quintana, called the supposed secret information that Bolivia and Venezuela are supplying uranium to the Iranian government, a "clownish farce".

"Only a clown would let such barbarities happen. Since it's so, it must be said that a certain Israeli agency is an agency of inepts, incompetents, and clowns," said Quintana during a press conference at the government palace.

[...]

Quintana said that the supposed denunciation "is part of the anthology of stupidity" because if anything characterizes the politics of the Bolivian government, "it is the politics of international peace."

"The principles which guide our constitution are set out most clearly--to promote a culture of understanding between peoples, and to improve integration. The Bolivian constitution clearly expresses our renunciation of war."

Uh, Houston? I believe we have a bitch slap.

But wait, it gets even funnier. According to that very same Dissociated Press piece,

Bolivia has uranium deposits. Venezuela is not currently mining its own estimated 50,000 tons of untapped uranium reserves, according to an analysis published in December by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The Carnegie report said, however, that recent collaboration with Iran in strategic minerals has generated speculation that Venezuela could mine uranium for Iran.

Charmed. Does this remind anyone of anything?

minority-report.jpg

Yep, kiddies, that's right...the Carnegie Endowment thinks Venezuela and Bolivia are committing pre-crime...by NOT EVEN TAPPING their uranium deposits, much less selling any to Iran. Next up: Venezuela and Bolivia found guilty (God only knows how!) of selling some to Kim Jong Mentally Il...thereby resulting in this week's 4.7 magnitude nuclear squib.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go disarm my head. It feels like it's about to go up in a mushroom cloud from all this stupidity.

UPDATE: The Old Grey Whore has a "brief" from the Dissociated Press, noting that Venezuela and Bolivia have "ridiculed" the "report". They're only a day late, and their coverage leaves, as usual, much to be desired. Guess that bit about being a clown was so horrifying that they couldn't reprint it. Good thing you got me, eh kiddies?

May 22, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Guess who's ten years old this week...

It's Chavecito's TV show--Aló Presidente!

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The show is the ultimate in audience participation and direct democracy. It's also downright gonzo at times--and can go on for several hours at a stretch. When Chavecito's in town, anyone can take up any issue with him, right there at his desk. (It used to be a phone-in show, but then it got so popular that the lines got jammed.) In between issue-taking-up and general kibitzing, it's also often an opportunity for Chavecito to raise awareness of history, put current events in context, announce new social projects, and occasionally, give the fascist leadership of the oppos a hard time (and more than a little public humiliation, like the time he fired several of the top brass at PDVSA for corruption, incompetence and general mismanagement--and attempting to illegally privatize the state-run company).

Appropriately, he celebrated the anniversary in his home state of Barinas, where he addressed a gathering of locals, university students and the military:

"Do you want to see a student march? Do you want to see it? I'm capable of bringing together a million students in the street."

He's not shitting. They get up and spontaneously start chanting, cheering and waving banners for him. And, given that the majority of Venezuelans are Bolivarians, it stands to reason that a majority of students also are. And no wonder: in the last ten years, untold opportunities have opened up for them, thanks to Chavecito and all those crazy, loopy projects he announced for the first time on that crazy, loopy show of his.

Happy anniversary, Chavecito--and may you and your crazy, loopy show have many more!

May 17, 2009

Maracaibo goes to hell, in true paramilitary style

paramilitaries-zulia.jpg

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.

Music for a Sunday: Today's Kid

Dame Pa' Matala has the diagnosis of what's wrong, and what's to be done:

May 15, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito in Argentina

The highlights from his working visit today:

Cristina's looking increasingly plastic, but Chavecito's still got his natural good looks. (And yeah, I think he's handsome, so bite me.)

May 11, 2009

Chavecito vs. oppos: Whose words are the worst?

First, here's Chavecito:

He's saying that "being rich is bad", but not only that--he also acknowledges that there are some who will feel offended by his saying so. And then he goes on to say that Jesus said the same thing to a rich man! (Which he did, BTW.)

Now, here are some oppos, saying something about Chavecito:

Oswaldo Alvarez Paz, former governor of Zulia and former presidential candidate for the COPEI (Social Christian) party, doesn't seem to grasp the concept of democracy very well. He talks on Televen about how "repression is spreading" (a lie), and also about methods of removing Chavecito from power "beyond voting"! Gee, sounds to me like he's advocating a coup d'état, which is to say, murder.

And just think, people, this man is the so-called CHRISTIAN! He lies and advocates murder. Would Jesus do that? Would he approve of it in someone who professes to be his follower?

Meanwhile, Chavecito correctly quotes Christ and places him (also correctly) in the context of socialism--everyone contributing, everyone benefiting, no one with too much, and therefore no one with too little.

So, who said the worst thing? You tell me, gentle readers.

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.

May 7, 2009

How the Venezuelan opposition does "journalism"

Yes, kiddies, more fun stuff from Mario and his band of merry men at La Hojilla:

Globovisión no doubt thought it had scored a journalistic coup when one of its reporters, Beatriz Adrián, came by the confidential information of several members of the National Assembly, including their salaries and discretionary spending budgets.

Well, it was a coup all right, but less of the journalistic kind, and more like "d'état".

You see, the security cameras were on in the corridors of power, and they caught Beatriz, her colleague Violeta Rosa, and at least two other Globovisionistas in the act of suborning an employee of the National Assembly, who has since been fired. The cameras caught everything: some suspicious conversations, some lurking, some pacing back and forth, and finally, the hand-over of the confidential papers, along with the gleeful exit of Beatriz and Violeta, who can be seen grinning ear to ear at their own "cleverness" in having bribed a poor hapless woman into handing over materials that they had no right to.

Well, I bet they won't be grinning so much from now on. At least, not in the hallowed halls of the Hemiciclo.

And neither will their boss, Alberto Federico Ravell, who financed this little exercise in cheque-book hackery. I'd sure like to see a camera catch the look on his face when he learned that his girls had been caught in the act of bribery. I bet it would be uncannily like that of a man who has just split his pants and is suddenly feeling a gentle breeze blowing where it shouldn't.

How the Venezuelan opposition "celebrated" May Day

Or, Yon-Yon's mustard gaffe:

A couple of clips from La Hojilla (The Razorblade), showing what none of the opposition media want you to see about the kind of people THEY represent. Namely, that they are delusional, violent and even downright stupid at times. Namely, that they don't have fuck-all to do with Venezuela's real workers and unionists, who marched on May Day in peaceful, happy--i.e., typically Chavista--fashion. No, these guys marched to complain, as ever, about how repressed they are.

Yeah, right.

So repressed are these poor deluded dears that no one stopped them from marching. They were even granted a permit to follow a given route (how repressive!). But when they tried to diverge from that route and break into the National Assembly building under the pretext of "delivering a document", then they came up against the Caracas police, who had set up protective barriers (which some punks in front promptly proceeded to break).

When asked repeatedly by journalist Jorge Amorín what the document said, the oppos got belligerent. They accused Amorín of being a spy, or shouted what appeared to be stupid slogans that had nothing to do with the subject at hand. One oppo leader, Ismael García, can be seen giving Amorín and his cameraman the finger--just for asking a few questions that he doesn't want to answer truthfully. So civilized, these oppos!

If there was a document--which I doubt, as none was in evidence anywhere--what was so secret about its contents? After all, it was supposed to be "delivered" to a public institution--the National Assembly, that is, the chamber of Venezuela's elected federal representatives.

Hey! I get it. There was no document. That's right: THERE WAS NO DOCUMENT. This was a ruse! (smacking forehead) How could I have been so dense?

This was just another effort on the part of the oppos to recoup what they lost on April 13, 2002. Remember that? On April 11, they marched on Miraflores to depose a legitimate president; they had to commit murder and mayhem to get their way, but it only lasted 48 hours. At the end, the will of the people prevailed, the fascists fled, and Chavecito returned to his desk. They've been trying, ever since then, to try to get it right, and they haven't succeeded yet. Always they keep coming up against the same thing: The people love Chavecito, and they want to keep him around.

But hey! Give these guys full marks for dogged persistence, anyway. They just keep trying and trying to impose themselves against democracy. So touching. And just think, if Venezuela were really a totalitarian state, as they claim, would these fascists have the freedom to keep trying for a coup d'état, with commercial media as their faithful accomplice?

Or for that matter, if there were no freedom of speech in Venezuela, would Yon "Playboy" Goicoechea be able to lie on TV about how the police used mustard gas against a march that he took no part in himself? (Item #1: Mustard gas has been prohibited by international law since 1925. Item #2: Venezuela respects and abides by all international laws.) There's been plenty of joking (most notably by the Robertos, on their show "As You Can See") about Yon-Yon's mustard gaffe, and how what was really sprayed at the crowd was not mustard but mayonnaise.

All kidding aside, however, the police did have to use pepper spray, as the mob was breaking the barriers, attempting to riot, and showing no respect for public order. Pepper spray is legal; it's nasty, but not deadly unless maybe you have an allergy to cayenne pepper. And in this case, it was dyed red, so anyone could see it coming and get away in time. It's unfortunate that the cops had to use it, but if you watch both videos, you'll see that they had good reasons for doing so.

Also, pay close attention to how the Globovisíon announcer claims there was no violence. Really? Then who knocked over those potted trees? Who set the garbage bin on fire? Who destroyed the PDVAL market? I'll give you a broad hint: They weren't wearing PSUV shirts or carrying a banner with Chavecito's face on it. The Chavista march didn't go that way.

Oh, those poor oppressed oppos. Can't get their way, so they riot--and then they lose what little respect anyone else was ever willing to give them.

Including your humble scribe.

May 4, 2009

So...Venezuela's president is "autocratic", eh?

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Funny, but a team of international observers found differently:

The U.S. delegation found that the voting in Venezuela's 2009 referendum was, overall, fair, transparent, and clean. While there were a few instances of technical problems, we were impressed by the efficiency and simplicity with which Venezuelan voters were able to express their preferences. We often found ourselves wishing that elections in the United States were conducted with such uniform professionalism and care, and that the election results could be tallied as quickly. Our observations of Venezuelan popular democracy in action stand in marked contrast with media depictions of Venezuela's government as autocratic.

And just think, that was only the US delegation. The US, people. You know, the country whose citizens are constantly being bombarded with the media mantra that goes "Chávez autocratic, Chávez dictator, Chávez trying to be president for life, Chávez extremely dangerous to democracy, blah blah blah"?

One wonders if that party line is going to change now, or if it's going to go on as usual. Auntie 'Bina ain't holding her breath, kids.

April 30, 2009

Is Alan Garcia off his meds?

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"Coooomrades, in this historic and revolutionary moment, we call on you to take up the anti-imperialist fight..."

"No, no! You already gave that speech. Now you have to say: Gentlemen, we call on you to take up investment in privatizations and concessions..."

"Mr. García, you're on!"

There has long been some speculation that a certain large Peruvian leader is...um, how to put this delicately?...not a well man upstairs. Today, I found a news story on Aporrea that seems to confirm a certain degree of schizophrenia:

Alan García, the president of Peru, said on Tuesday that he did not want to affect relations between his country and Venezuela, but he approved the asylum request of opposition leader Manuel Rosales because he considered him to be "menaced" by the Venezuelan authorities.

However, he said in a press conference that "we have a friendly position toward the government of Venezuela, which is a democratic government whose character is undeniably popular, and for that reason, we do not want any circumstance to alter our good relations with Venezuela, and we will go on seeking that objective."

Translation mine.

Yep...it's just as I suspected. The man not only eats two breakfasts (as Otto has it), he has two personalities. And they're at odds with each other. How else to explain his characterizing Venezuela on the one hand as a popular democracy, and on the other as a place where the opposition is "menaced" (by criminal charges, not political ones)? And how else to explain his strange willingness to shelter corruptos and crooks?

UPDATE: Peruvians have turned out in force to protest this crazy-ass decision. Too bad these sane folks don't form the government.

April 28, 2009

Actions have consequences, gordito!

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All right, so the government of Peru granted political asylum to an obvious crook on the flimsiest grounds ever. Now, they're about to reap the consequences of their incredibly ill-considered actions:

The Venezuelan government, in an official communiqué, rejected the asylum granted by the Peruvian government to the fugitive from Venezuelan justice, Manuel Rosales. According to the communiqué, "the Government of Peru decided to grant political asylum to Manuel Rosales, in a decision which constitutes a mockery of international law, a severe blow to the fight against corruption, and an attack against the people of Venezuela."

Previously, the Chancellor of Peru, José Antonio García Belaunde, informed that his government had decided to grant political asylum to Rosales, in spite of the latter having been accused of corruption, and who fled the country without facing the charges against him. "The Peruvian government, true to its historical tradition and in co-operation with international law, has decided to grant asylum to the citizen Manuel Rosales," said the chancellor during a meeting with the exterior-relations commission of the Peruvian congress.

Rosales met with other Venezuelan fugitives who fled the country over non-political offences and who received asylum in Peru, among them the leader of the illegal oil lockout of 2002-3 Carlos Ortega, and the ex-governor of Yaracuy, Eduardo Lapi. Lima also granted asylum in 2003 to two retired military leaders who participated in opposition protests in the Plaza Francia in Altamira, Caracas. Some press accounts claim that Nixon Moreno, ex-student leader accused of sexually assaulting a police officer and attempted murder of another officer, may also be in Peru.

The communiqué released today by the Venezuelan government states:

"As is well known to public opinion, the judicial authorities of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela sought, via regular channels, an international order for the capture of the Venezuelan fugitive from justice, Manuel Rosales, accused of corruption and illicit self-enrichment, which led to an immediate 'code red' alert from Interpol.

"Interpol Peru asked Venezuelan authorities for the necessary documentation to detain Manuel Rosales; the documentation was handed over last Sunday, April 26.

"In spite of the weight of evidence [against Rosales], the Government of Peru decided to grant political asylum to Rosales, in a decision which constitutes a mockery of international law, a severe blow to the fight against corruption, and an attack against the people of Venezuela.

"In light of these facts, the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has decided, in protest, to immediately return to Caracas its ambassador in Lima, to suspend of all diplomatic proceedings of the ambassador to Peru, and to re-evaluate its relations with the government of that country."

Translation mine.

Translated from the officialese, that's a major bitch-slap to El Gordo. Which should come as no surprise, given that he's been a major bitch. While unpopular even with his own people, though, he's still in office, and still thumbing his nose at international law on numerous fronts. Sheltering Venezuelan corruptos, as we can see, is something of a hobby for him.

But at least now, he knows his chronic nose-thumbing isn't going to get him any sympathy in Caracas. Most likely, not in the rest of the Unasur countries, either.

April 25, 2009

They don't call 'em "father" for nothing

"Can't you hear my lambs calling?
O Good Shepherd, feed my sheep..."

--Jefferson Airplane, "Good Shepherd"

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No, that's not Beelzebub...but it IS one of his earthly lieutenants, disguised as a man of God. Meet Baltazar Porras, whited sepulchre, skirt-chaser and putschist extraordinaire...

While a massive baby-mama drama swirls in Paraguay around President Lugo, an ex-bishop now accused of having had numerous affairs and love-children, some while still under clerical vows (see Otto and BoRev for more), a far scummier man of the cloth is getting away with the same things (and murder!) in Venezuela. But Bolivarian historian José Sant Roz is on his case, and recently gave an interview about what he found:

Q. On what basis do you say that Bishop Baltazar Porras has had children?

A. Really, Baltazar is a man born to be a socialite, and tales of his dissipated lifestyle are rampant throughout the state of Mérida. In the year 2000, Giandoménico Puliti, who was lamentably killed by assassins with a bullet to the head, and I were gathering information for the book "Bishops and Demons". We visited with many local priests to get to know the church in Mérida from the inside. We can't reveal the names of these priests, who are meritorious and have had nothing to do with politics. Nevertheless, all of them agreed that the conduct of Porras was the furthest thing from that of a spiritual man who cared for his parishioners. On the contrary, his passions were bullfights, soccer and partying. His "pastoral visits" consisted mainly of frequenting the homes of the rich, sprinkling holy water in banks and resorts, and travelling all over Europe. A priest with close ties to him told us that Baltazar Porras had a son, conceived while he was living in Calabozo, and that the boy frequently visited the archbishop at his palace. In those days, too, there was a novel out in Mérida by the poet Pedro Pablo Pereira, titled "The Archbishop's Mistress", which treated of Baltazar's life, and I can assure you that it caused a great sensation and impact in all of Venezuela. In it you can find much more information about this point.

Q. How could he lead such a disordered life while acting as Archbishop of Mérida?

A. Baltazar's friends are all guys with no culture, dedicated to partisan politics and mercantile activities. A close friend of his is the ex-governor William Dávila Barrios, along with all those mediocre professors who have been rectors at ULA [the University of Los Andes]. The Mérida bourgeoisie are certainly none of them gentlemen, and all they care about is booze and fine cooking. When I went with Puliti to find out more about these bishops, another priest very involved in the Curia told us that they held orgies there, and added that a group of students were completing a series of procedures to accuse Don Baltazar in Rome. They practically had videos of it! Thanks to all these barbarities, Monsignor Porras lost the friendship of respectable padres such as Hugo Anzil and Ramón Flores.

Q. And do you not believe this son of Porras can come forward to speak out?

A. I doubt it. He has to be very closely guarded, and now he's a man of 27 years of age. He won't talk because Porras doesn't have the power that Bishop Lugo does in Paraguay to give out cushy jobs, privileges and diplomatic missions. He still makes out in public that he is a celibate, while with Lugo, everyone is disputing it because now he is no longer a bishop. And his ex-girlfriends have every right to complain of his ingratitude. Baltazar is only a bishop, who could be of more help to his sons on the quiet from his throne. And surely the mother of this youngster has suffered much. Better to keep quiet about these things. Because if other mistresses and children of Porras were to speak out, immediately the media would mount a brutal witch-hunt against them in his defence, and nothing good would come to anyone who claimed family ties to him. Just imagine, if the media could rip to shreds all the evidence tying Nelson Mezerhane, Patricia Poleo and Bishop Rosalio Castillo Lara to the murder of Danilo Anderson, all this about the mistresses and children of Baltazar would be child's play for them [to discredit].

Q. Do you believe that the Conference of Venezuelan Bishops would defend him in such a grave case?

A. For them, this would be a joke. Remember that today, in the Mexican daily, La Jornada, there appeared declarations from Leopoldo González González the Secretary-General of the Conference of Mexican Bishops, defending the parish priest of Jalapa, Rafael Muñiz López, who is accused of being part of a distribution network for kiddie porn on the Internet. So, what did Mr. Leopoldo González González say to the journalists? Nothing less than this: He assured that such cases "make priests seem more human" to their parishes, causing us to "appreciate" them more, and he very firmly reiterated, "On the contrary, the more human they seem, the more we appreciate them." So, for Conference of Venezuelan Bishops, the case of Porras and his illegitimate children will make him "much more human". Holy shit!

Translation mine. Linkage added.

Holy shit, indeed.

BTW, Porras has something even more infamous to his name than a slew of illegitimate children. He's also one of the many ranking churchmen who appeared at Miraflores Palace on April 12, 2002, to bless the fascist coup against Chavecito with his presence. You can see him in "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", talking animatedly and smiling with the coup-plotters, at one point even slapping their backs and hugging them. This while fully cognizant that dozens of innocent people had been killed the previous day and night, and hundreds more injured, all in the name of creating an incident that would "render illegitimate" the Chávez government (which was freely elected and, unlike any of its predecessors, fully democratic and not a bit repressive.)

This same bishop, who like so many others comes out fervently against abortion and birth control (to say nothing of same-sex marriage), is not a bit pro-life when it comes to the human rights of Chavistas or anyone else who doesn't parrot the old Fourth Republic party lines. What makes anyone think he'd acknowledge his bastards? He's a much bigger bastard himself, of course, but thanks to his lack of elected political power, he's not fair game.

Unlike Lugo, who established his reputation as a progressive bishop and advocate of the poor and downtrodden, Baltazar Porras is a reactionary conservative fascist, who cares about nothing and no one except maybe, the filthy stinking rich...and Baltazar Porras, of course.

Jesus didn't call guys like Porras "whited sepulchres" for nothing, either.

April 19, 2009

Hill-arious pix from the Americas Summit

Well, guess what...His Barackness and Her Royal Clintoness of the State Dept. finally got to meet the man everyone keeps calling their nemesis, in spite of all evidence to the contrary (or a lack of evidence to confirm, same diff.) And, in spite of all the media blahblahblah (and the offshoot dorky misinterpretations by inadvertently funny "moderate" bloggers), things went rather well. By "rather well", I mean they went both ways, for once. Diplomatic relations are about to be restored, as Obama vows to show some respect to LatAm for a change. The capable Roy Chaderton looks all set to be Venezuela's next ambassador to the US, after his OAS stint; relations with Bolivia could also soon return to normal if Obama makes good on his pledge to co-operate rather than dictate (and fergawdsakes, Barack, the best way start showing you mean business is to get rid of your Bolivia advisors, who all have Goni-rhea, and replace them with people who don't ooze neoliberal pus).

Okay. So much for all that serious shit. Now, let's lighten up. What do you suppose was being said here? My educated guesses below...

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"Listen, man, I want to apologize for what you went through under my predecessor. He's the idiot son of an asshole, and I just want you to know I'm nothing like him."

Chavecito's face says it all: Oh man, that is SO good to hear.

Meanwhile, State Dept. sez:

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"What? You mean you're NOT an evildoing sponsor of Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaida, and all those others? You really ARE just the president of Venezuela? OhmyGAWD!!!"

So, gentle readers...what do YOU think was being said?

April 18, 2009

Summit coverage gets Teh Stoopid

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Oh, let's face it...there ain't NO army of darkness cuter than the Itteh Bitteh Black Kitteh Committeh.

D'you suppose Basement Cat let loose her evil minions at the recent OAS summit? The media probably think so. Or at the very least, they think it's gonna be all Chavecito, all the time (TIME certainly seems to, when not busy STILL promoting the tired old "good left/bad left" dichotomy of BushCo), or all Cuba all the time (various snooze media).

Yep, they've all got Teh Stoopid, and they're giving us the complete idiot's version, banking that we won't know the difference between that and actual, insightful coverage. So what's new? This is why the mainstream media are dying, kiddies--they can't cover anything half decently. They cut out in-depth feature reporting a long time ago, and stuck all the money into fancy real estate instead. To make up for the lack of reporting, they've substituted a toxic blend of gossip and crapaganda, and reaped a harvest of dummies. (I hope Obama's next big move will be to get the CIA out of the news business. They've been in there for way too long already.)

Someone please wake me up when one of them has anything to say that shows they've finally quit spinning, and seriously get what's going on. Like, say, Ben Dangl does.

And in the meantime, enjoy some pics that are sure to make a lot of right-wing media heads explode from the sheer effort of trying to figure out what was really going on.

April 17, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Hats off to Evo!

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"Four whole days on hunger strike. Count 'em, bitches. It's four more than any of you oppos would ever do for your country."

Okay, so that's not what Evo was actually saying there. But it's pretty emblematic of his attitude just the same. And his cojones. The man just narrowly escaped being killed by an international terrorist cell, and he's still cheerful and chipper after that. Plus four days of semi-starvation. And that's not all. Get a load of what he said at the ALBA summit yesterday in Cumaná, Venezuela:

"Cuba was expelled (from the Organization of American States) for being Marxist, Leninist, socialist. I want to say to the members of the OAS, here, I want to declare myself Marxist, Leninist, socialist, communist. Now let them kick me out. I want them to expel me from the OAS. It's unbelievable that you can get expelled from the OAS just for being Marxist-Leninist!"

That's what he said (translation mine). Notice he was grinning when he said it. He wasn't serious about being a communist, in other words. But he was serious about something...

Namely, the case for Cuba being reinstated to the OAS, no ifs, ands or buts. And no ideological conditions attached. He's saying that if Cuba's not allowed back in, he wants out. And he's prepared to say he's something he's not, just to prove the point.

That, gentle reader, takes serious gonads.

I suspect that it won't be long before Cuba gets let back in from the cold. And if it does, it will be mainly the doing of Chavecito and Evo. Especially Evo. This guy goes to bat not only for his own people, but for anyone he sees getting shafted. For that reason, hats off to him!

PS: Lugo of Paraguay has chimed in on a similar note. He's mighty pissed at Hillary Clinton for dissing Cuba, and he notes that Mercosur has been around for 18 years and hasn't achieved nearly as much as Chavecito's ALBA has in the far fewer years that it's been in effect. Gonna be an interesting OAS meeting to say the least, kiddies...

April 16, 2009

Foreign Policy: the rag that won't let you forget how much it sucks

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Or, for that matter, what douchebags run the thing, or what enema-nozzles write for it. And look what they're exploiting now to prove the point...

Dates are important to Chávez. If he can locate the end of the coup as the beginning of the revolution, then events that came before what's known in Venezuela as "11-A" -- for example, his own failed attempt to topple a democratic government in 1992 -- are buried. More importantly, though, this trick gives Chávez a chance to portray the seven years since 11-A as a Manichaean struggle between the forces of democracy (Chávez himself) and would-be despots (anyone who did, does, or might oppose him). As the Venezuelan strongman moves closer to a complete consolidation of power, this national narrative has become increasingly necessary -- and increasingly strained, too.

In the past 60 days, Chávez has, more than ever, used the imagined threat of overthrow and sedition to justify wide seizures of power. Since the February referendum victory that did away with presidential term limits, and perhaps with an eye to next year's legislative elections, Chávez seems to be looking for excuses to wipe out the opposition -- or, possibly, to bait it until the imagined threat becomes an actual threat, giving further justification to his despotism.

Wow. Spin much there, Mr. Foreign Policy Dreckwriter?

Love the language, too: "imagined threat of overthrow and sedition to justify wide seizures of power". WHAT seizures of power? There haven't been any. He is as limited by the constitution as ever. He won a perfectly legal referendum fair and square, and all it means is that he gets to stand for election more than twice. This is a "wide seizure of power"?

But wait, there's more...

At least that is one theory to explain the severity of the recent crackdowns. In addition to arrest warrants for several top opposition leaders including Manuel Rosales, the jailing of the former general turned critic Raúl Baduel, numerous takeovers of food producers, banks, and ports, as well as the creation of an appointed "mayor of mayors" to eliminate powers of locally elected officials, the state also decided to convict an important group of political prisoners. Click Here!

In early April, choosing a date conveniently close to the anniversary of the 2002 coup, a political court sentenced police commissioners Lázaro Forero, Henry Vivas, Ivan Simonovis, and several others to 30 years in prison on trumped-up charges that they committed crimes against the state on 11-A (Chávez himself only served two years in prison for his own coup). In his televised address April 13, Chávez said it is an act of "subversion" to criticize the sentence given to the police officers, encouraging his supporters to "do what they have to do" to any journalists who question the verdict

"At least that is one theory"--yeah. A kooky, nutty, conspiracy theory with no foundation in fact. It's typical of the Foreign Policy know-nothings to reach for the convenient "OMG he's a communist persecuting his opponents" stupid-stick instead of actually looking at the facts.

Those who've actually been paying attention will recall that Manuel Rosales and Raúl Baduel are both being prosecuted (not persecuted) for massive theft from the public coffers, not political subversion. In fact, Baduel didn't become a "dissident" until it became evident that his stealing was about to get him busted. He robbed the army to pay for his ranch. Manuel Rosales robbed the citizens of Zulia while he was governor to buy no fewer than 11 large properties. This has earned him the nickname of "Robales" (the Spanish verb robar means exactly what it looks like in English, kiddies.)

As for the three police commissioners, the timing of their sentencing may have been a fortuitous coincidence. What's not in doubt is that they are guilty as charged. In fact, Lázaro Forero is known to have been in contact with the US ambassador in Caracas at the time, Charles Shapiro--talking on the phone with him in the midst of the worst gunfight on the afternoon of April 11, when the police under his command, and that of Vivas and Simonovis, opened fire on a large concentration of Bolivarians on Llaguno Bridge. Those police weren't just acting off their own bat; someone was giving them the orders to shoot innocent, unarmed people in the head, neck, chest, abdomen--in other words, shoot to kill.

All of this is good to remember. Especially when you read a Foreign Policy hit-piece telling you how a certain legitimately elected, ratified and highly popular someone is using the memory of it for his own benefit. Are the people of Venezuela supposed to forget who trampled their democracy, or how, or why? Or the fact that a lot of the perpetrators have yet to face justice?

Of course, there are those who keep using the events of 9-11 (note the coded use of dates, surprisingly similar to that obnoxious "11-A" that gets the writer's boxers in a bunch) to further their cause against others, too. One of those others, in fact, happens to be the legitimately elected president of Venezuela, who has often been accused, by Foreign Policy among others, of being a terrorist, or of aiding, abetting, harboring and supporting them. As well as, of course, being a dictator--which he also is not.

And that, kiddies, is how and why Foreign Policy sucks.

Never forget.

Larry Klayman is about to get laughed out of court again

This is hilarious!

Freedom Watch Founder Larry Klayman has sued Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in a U.S. federal court in Miami, FL.

The class action lawsuit alleges Chavez has committed crimes against humanity.

A press release from Klayman Thursday put the suit on par with a boxing match "shaping up to be the legal battle of the century," and referring to it as an "inevitable" battle in the "ring of justice" between "two no-holds-barred fighters" one championing freedom and the other communism.

Klayman's class-action lawsuit names lead plaintiff Ricardo Guanipa, a Venezuelan citizen now living in Miami, as one of the members of the class seeking damages from Chavez and his associates "for assault, supporting terrorism, crimes against humanity, violations of civil and human rights and torture of members of the class Klayman is representing."

"The lawsuit charges Chavez and co-defendants including Ramon Alonso Carrizales Rengifo, Vice President of Venezuela, with conspiring with Colombian paramilitary Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Al Qaeda, and the Taliban in committing atrocities and causing defendants to flee their native country in fear for their lives," according to the press release.

"Members of the class Klayman is representing"? Uh, that would be the Venezuelan oligarchy. Not a very large class, and not one whose rights are in serious jeopardy from anyone but their fascist, gun-happy own (as demonstrated on April 11, 2002). They "fled" to Florida mainly for the shopping. And the only thing they stand to lose in Venezuela is money...to the taxman. (Or to Allen Stanford, who stole a lot more from them than SENIAT stood to receive.)

Oh, and look who else is on the radar. Yup, His Barackness...for "excessive partying". Lemme know how that one goes, assuming it goes anywhere. Like the anti-Chavecito suit, this one's a guaranteed Epic Fail.

But hey, that won't stop Laughable Larry, the man who even sued his own mom.

Meanwhile, let's all enjoy this pic of Larry Klayman, partying (with Cindy Iglesias)!

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More incriminating video from the Venezuelan coup

VTV journalist Ernesto Villegas shows a video clip taken by a Peruvian reporter team during the firefights of April 11, 2002 in Caracas. In it, in the background, you can see a Metropolitan Caracas police officer taking off a red beret (falsely identifying him as a Chavista) and swapping it for the white helmets worn by the cops.

Recall that the force was, at that time, under control of an anti-Chávez mayor, Alfredo Peña. Recall, also, that the media was full of stories about how "Chávez ordered the Bolivarian Circles to fire on unarmed opposition marchers"! Recall, too, that the media--Venevisión particularly--falsified the events of that day in a big way, showing a group of men firing from Llaguno Bridge. They were, in fact, defending themselves and their fellow Bolivarians on the bridge--against the Metropolitan Police, who were shooting at them from on top of a riot truck below. The opposition march never got within five city blocks of the bridge, and the shooters' handguns only had a range of three, if that. The only thing within that range was, you guessed it, the cops. Who, as the accused men later steadfastly insisted, were not acting as authorities of law and order, but as shock troops for the coup which was underway at the time. They were shooting at unarmed Bolivarian demonstrators, gathered on the bridge, which was just a short distance down Urdaneta Avenue from two government buildings: Miraflores, and the White Palace. The objective of the police and their allies, the rooftop snipers, was clear--to kill and terrorize, and thus clear the road so the oppo marchers could storm the palace.

And, as we can now see from the video above, there was an additional motive: to frame the innocent Chavistas and present them as the guilty party of that day. Looks like that frame is finally falling apart.

April 14, 2009

An unsung Venezuelan hero gets his due, in documentary form

Video in Spanish.

"A Coup and a Letter" tells the story of Juan Rodríguez, a soldier of the Venezuelan army, who carried a hand-written message from his president to the people. When Juan realized that Chavecito hadn't resigned, that he was being held prisoner against his will and that of the people, he knew he had to act. Until now, he has remained a largely unsung hero in the rescue of democracy that took place on this day in 2002. No longer.

April 10, 2009

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito in Japan

The Big Guy's recent trip to Japan was a resounding success on the economic front; he brought a heap of foreign investment in that will surely nauseate the opposition all to hell (seeing as they no longer monopolize the oil industry, and their privatization attempt was constitutionally thwarted. Kiss all that easy dinero goodbye, muchachos!)

But never let it be said that he was all business:

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No matter where he is, no matter what he's doing, no matter how crazy-busy his schedule gets, he always makes the time to make some little one's day. Sweet!

April 7, 2009

The Ballad of Manuelito Rosalito El Bandito

Haha. Venezuelan corruptos funny!

April 6, 2009

Economics for Dummies: 18 years old and still oh, SO true...

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Courtesy of Bartcop.

Now, if they only did like the Japanese, who have no oil deposits on or off their shores, and built affordable cars that worked and were fuel-efficient to boot.

But no, noooooo...gringo-boys needed their penis compensators.

BTW, Japan just signed a major oil deal with Venezuela. Guess who's da man in Tokyo tonight?

Q. How can you tell a certain Venezuelan ex-general is lying?

A. His lips are moving:

Venezuelan ex-defence minister Raúl Baduel, ex-general, ex-constitutionalist, ex-Bolivarian and ex-friend of Chavecito, concocts a pile of bovine feces for CNN's Spanish channel. He claims that when he was arrested (on corruption and contempt-of-court charges, not for political reasons), military intelligence officers pointed their guns at his wife (why her, if it was him they were after?); that Chavecito was behind it; and that there needs to be another assembly to rewrite all that evil Bolivarianism out of Venezuela's constitution--in order to salvage democracy. His son made this video. Why? So that the small knot of his supporters down there, and the vast sea of "pro-democracy" rubes stretching from Miami all the way up to here, won't be confused by any pesky facts.

All of which leads me to another Q 'n' A:

Q: How can you tell CNN is trying to sell you a pile of bovine feces?

A: It's live and on air.

Justice 7 years later: The Venezuelan coup of April 11

Video in Spanish; essential viewing for anyone who can understand and who wants to know what really happened that day. The media lies from the opposition side are still flying thick and fast. But in this interview with two of the victims' attorneys, as well as ASOVIC members Dalila Mendoza (who lost her husband in the coup) and Yesenia Fuentes (who was shot in the face by the Metropolitan Caracas Police and nearly lost an eye) we learn much that's of interest and use. For instance, the group of military traitors who made a "practice" video with the CNN correspondent, Otto Neustaldt, that morning, claiming a certain number of dead and wounded in riots, did so not only before any deaths or injuries occurred, but before the opposition leaders even called for their demonstrators to march toward Miraflores--a full 11 kilometres from Chuao where they were originally gathered! If that's not incriminating, I don't know what is--it means that two hours before any shots were fired, the traitors were already announcing their intention to have innocent people killed, just so their own lust for power could have its way.

April 5, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Febreros y Abriles

Mario Silva of La Hojilla introduces a brand-new video from folk-singer Amílcar Briceño of Zulia.

February and April are fateful months for Venezuelans--the Caracazo and Chavecito's failed coup attempt both happened in February, the opposition's failed coup attempt (and the people's subsequent rescue of democracy) happened in April. This song links it all together and celebrates the ongoing struggle to fulfill Bolívar's dream.

April 4, 2009

Jorge Recio on the Venezuelan coup of '02

In several documentaries of the coup d'état of April 11, 2002, you can see a group of Bolivarian demonstrators on Baralt Avenue in Caracas, picking up and carrying the limp form of a tall young man past a newspaper kiosk as shots ring out nearby. That man is Jorge Recio, a freelance photographer, and he was hit in the back by a bullet from the Metropolitan Caracas Police, who were firing from a riot truck at unarmed demonstrators--Chávez supporters--on and under Llaguno Bridge. Recio was not a demonstrator, however; he was just doing his job, documenting the day's events on film.

Jorge Recio survived, but at a heavy price: he is now paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair. The pictures he took before he was wounded that day tell a story that some in the commercial media and the opposition are still trying to cover up and deny. Namely, that a majority of the injured and fatal victims of that day were supporters of President Chávez, not opposition demonstrators. And also that they were clearly not ambushing an opposition march (which never got within three city blocks of the bridge), but that they were ducking in an attempt to avoid being hit by the bullets coming at them not only from the uniformed police themselves, but from rooftop snipers and other hidden shooters working in collaboration with the police. Recio's pictures remain as key pieces of evidence incriminating the opposition-controlled Caracas police as collaborators in the coup.

Jorge Recio is not the only photographer to fall victim to the events of that day; in total, seven were shot. One, Jorge Tortoza, was hit in the head and later died in hospital. (His murder was also caught on film; in the clip below you can see clearly how his body did a clumsy half-somersault before falling to the pavement.) The opposition tried to claim him as one of theirs, but this lie was debunked by Tortoza's brother Edgar, who works with ASOVIC, a group of Chavista victims of the coup. (The opposition has its own victims' group, one which is less active and vocal than ASOVIC.) Edgar Tortoza reported that his brother's camera was stolen and, when recovered, the pictures found in it were not his. Conveniently for the coup perpetrators, anything incriminating in it was also missing!

Jorge Recio is still a photographer, but his perspective is much more limited now than it used to be. He received rehab in Cuba and says the care was not contingent on political support for Chávez. He now lives in Barcelona, Spain. Here he is, in his own words and pictures:

April 3, 2009