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Gangster Capitalism: Financial oligarchy and the Globalization of Organized Crime

News Neoliberalism Recommended Links Financilization of economy as the mechanism of redistributing the wealth up Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Classification of Corporate Psychopaths Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists  
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers The Deep State Resurgence of neo-fascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism
The Great Transformation Neoliberalism as secular religion, "idolatry of money" The Iron Law of Oligarchy   Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure Globalization of Financial Flows Globalization of Corporatism
Greenspan as the Chairman of Financial Politburo Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Techno-fundamentalism Neoliberalism Bookshelf Greenspan humor Etc

"The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist" 

Thomas Friedman 

Free market is possible only under strict government regulation. Without government regulation free market quickly deteriorates into the law of jungles. Such a paradox ;-)
And if financial oligarchy gets to power as they got via coup d'état in the USA in late 7th, it is only a matter of time before the society collapses. They are very destructive to the society at large. Probably more so then organized crime. But wait. They actually can be viewed as special type of organized prime as is "The best way to rob the bank is to own it".

If you think that Yeltsin privatization (see  Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia) and rise of organized crime in Russia are two distinct phenomenon, think again. Neoliberalism which declare profit as single and only moral value is in reality deeply interconnected with organized crime both in methods and personalities.  This is not very noticed in the USA, but quite so in, say, Ukraine.

It's not accidental that Forbes magazine recently placed two Mexicans, Carlos Slim and Joaquín Guzmán, high on their list of the most powerful people in the world. Carlos Slim is the world’s third-richest man and CEO of a telecommunications company and Joaquín Guzmán is the leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

US Big Banks Are A Culture of Crime!

TheTradingReport

Organized crime. This phrase is now a precise synonym for big-banking in the United States. These Big Banks commit big crimes; they commit small crimes. They cheat their own clients; they swindle outsiders. They break virtually every financial law on the books. What do all these crimes have in common? The Big Banks commit all these crimes again and again and again – with utter impunity.

These fraud factories commit their serial mega-crimes, year after year, because the Big Banks know that they will never, ever be punished. On rare occasions, their crimes have been so egregious that U.S. ‘justice’ officials could no longer pretend to be oblivious to them. In such cases, there was a token prosecution, there was a settlement where the law-breaking banks didn’t even have to acknowledge their own criminality, and there was a microscopic fine – which didn’t even force the felonious financial institutions to disgorge all of their profits from these crimes.

Criminal sanctions, by definition, are supposed to deter criminal conduct. The token prosecutions against U.S. Big Banks didn’t deter Big Bank crime, they encouraged it. But even these wrist-slaps were becoming embarrassing for this crime syndicate, so they dealt with this problem. The Big Bank crime syndicate told its lackeys in the U.S. ‘justice’ department that they were not allowed to prosecute one of its tentacles, ever again.

The lackeys, as always, obeyed their Masters, and issued a new proclamation. The U.S. ‘Justice’ Department would never prosecute a U.S. Big Bank ever again – no matter what crimes it committed, no matter how large the crimes, no matter how many times the same Big Banks committed the same crimes. Complete, legal immunity; totally above the law. A literal culture of crime.

What happens when you create a culture of crime in (big) banking? Not only the banks break laws – with impunity – their bank employees do so as well. Case in point: Warren Buffett’s favorite Big Bank – Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo employees came up with a good idea for boosting their salaries: stealing money directly out of the accounts of the bank’s clients.

Consider how large this crime became, in just one of these tentacles of organized crime.

L.A City Attorney Mike Feuer announced a $185 million settlement reached with Wells Fargo, after thousands of bank employeessiphoned funds from their customers to open phony checking and savings accounts raking in millions in fraudulent fees.[emphasis mine]

Thousands of bank employees stealing millions of dollars from bank customers, in tiny, little increments, again and again and again. But the story gets much worse. Why was a lowly city attorney involved with the prosecution of this organized crime?

So where is the FBI? Where is the Department of Justice? How about California Attorney General Kamala Harris? Too busy campaigning for the Senate to notice? How about L.A. District Attorney Jackie Larry?

Only City Attorney Mike Feuer took action, and he only has the authority to prosecute misdemeanors…

There are only two ways in which the non-action of the U.S. pseudo-justice system can be explained:

  1. All of the layers of “justice” above the City Attorney, are completely bought-off, and refuse to prosecute one of the corporate fronts of their (real) Masters.
  2.  All of the layers of “justice” above the City Attorney considered this systemic crime by Wells Fargo’s employees to be nothing more than a misdemeanour.

Take your pick. The U.S. pseudo-justice system is used to seeing so many multi-billion dollar mega-crimes being committed by these fraud factories that the systemic crime at Wells Fargo (which was ‘only’ in the $millions) didn’t even attract their attention. Or, the entire U.S. pseudo-justice system is completely bought-off and corrupt – and they refuse to prosecute Big Bank organized crime.

A culture of crime.

It gets still worse. Thousands of Wells Fargo employees stole millions of dollars, from countless clients. They were caught. But not even one banker was sent to jail. In a real justice system, systemic crime of this nature would/could only be prosecuted in one of three ways. Either every Wells Fargo criminal would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law (given the egregious nature of the crime), or Wells Fargo management would be prosecuted – because they would have/should have known about this crime-wave. Or else both.

Bankers stealing money, directly and brazenly, right out of customer accounts, but no one goes to jail? A culture of crime.

Understand that endemic, cultural changes of this nature don’t originate at the bottom of the corporate ladder. They originate at the top. In the case of the Wall Street crime syndicate; we already know that their management personnel are criminals, because they haveadmitted to being criminals.

Many Wall Street executives says [sic] wrongdoing is necessary: survey

If the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes were to go out with his lantern in search of an honest man today, a survey of Wall Street executives on workplace conduct suggests he might have to look elsewhere.

A quarter of Wall Street executives see wrongdoing as a key to success, according to a survey by whistleblower law firm Labaton Sucharow released on Tuesday.

In a survey of 500 senior executives in the United States and the UK [New York and London], 26 percent of respondents said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, while 24 percent said they believed financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful… [emphasis mine]

One-quarter of Big Bank management admitted that they “need” to commit crimes. A culture of crime. More needs to be said about the rampant, disgusting criminality among upper management in the Big Banks of the U.S. (and UK).

A known whistleblower was conducting a public survey, asking known criminals how many of them were engaging in criminal behavior. What percentage of respondents would lie when answering such a survey? Three-quarters sounds about right. One-quarter of Wall Street executives admitted that committing crimes was a way of life. The other three-quarters lied about their criminal acts.

Monkey see; monkey do. The lower level foot soldiers see their Bosses breaking laws, with impunity, on a daily basis. Their reaction, at Wells Fargo? “Me too.”

Most if not all of the Wall Street fraud factories conduct detailed “personality testing” on their bank personnel. Are they looking to weed-out those with criminal (if not psychopathic) inclinations? Of course not. They conduct this personality testing to find which employees have no reservations about engaging in criminal conduct – so they can be fast-tracked for promotion.

There is no other way in which the systemic criminality of senior banking personnel can be reconciled with the detailed personality-testing in which they participated, in order to reach that level of management. The Wall Street fraud factories look for the most amoral criminals which they can find. And with the exorbitant, ludicrous “compensation” they award to these criminals for their systemic crimes, they end up with (literally) the best criminals that money can buy.

A culture of crime.

As a final note; the U.S. system of pretend-justice already has a powerful weapon in its arsenal to fight organized crime: the “RICO” act. This anti-racketeering statute was created for one, precise purpose: to not merely prosecute/punish organized crime, but to literallydismantle the crime infrastructure which supports the organized crime.

Not only does the statute confer strong (almost limitless) powers in gathering evidence of organized crime, it also permits mass seizures of assets – anything/everything connected to the organized crime of the entity(ies) in question. In the case of the Big Bank crime syndicate, where all of its operations are directly/indirectly tied into criminal operations of one form or another, if RICO was turned loose on these fraud factories, by the time the dust had settled there would be nothing left.

Oh yes. If the U.S. ‘Justice’ Department ever went “RICO” on U.S. Big Banks, lots and lots and lots of bankers would go to prison, for a very, long time.

Gangster Capitalism: The United States and the Globalization of Organized Crime

The first researcher who explored this uncanny relationship between that two and strong links between the neoliberal system of governance and organized crime was Michael Woodiwiss with his influential book Gangster Capitalism: The United States and the Globalization of Organized Crime (Paperback):

Everyone knows what organized crime is. Each year dozens of feature films, hundreds of books, and thousands of news stories explain to an eager public that organized crime is what gangsters do. Closely knit, ethnically distinct, and ruthlessly efficient, these mafias control the drugs trade, people trafficking and other serious crimes. If only states would take the threat seriously and recognize the global nature of modern organized crime, the FBI's success against the Italian mafia could be replicated throughout the world. The wicked trade in addictive drugs could be brought to a halt.

The trouble is, as Woodiwiss demonstrates in shocking and surprising detail, what everyone knows about organized crime is pretty much completely wrong. In reality the most important figures in organized crime are employees of multinational companies, politicians and bureaucrats. Gangsters are certainly a problem, but much of their strength comes from attempts to prohibit the market for certain drugs.

Even here they are minor players when compared with the intelligence and law enforcement agencies that selectively enforce prohibition and profit from it. Woodiwiss shows how respectable businessmen and revered statesmen have seized these opportunities in an orgy of fraud and illegal violence...

A very timely book, November 16, 2008 Joseph Oppenheim (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews

What makes "Gangster Capitalism" so worthwhile is that it helps in understanding what has led us to the 2007-8 financial meltdown. As the book shows, like during the 1920's, deregulation led the way for powerful companies to allow the very wealthy to get wealthier at the expense of average people by using poor working conditions, low wages, etc, plus at the same time supporting supposedly moral movements (against gambling, alcohol, drugs, etc) which mainly served the purpose of making these trades more profitable to crooks and therefore created rampant gangsterism there. The result was such a society wracked with gangsterism at all levels, but because most people felt they were prospering, few complained.

But, then it all collapsed with the 1929 crash and resulting Depression, which led the way for FDR and the New Deal programs which increased regulation of corporations, repeal of Prohibition, etc. Though the Depression lingered until WWII, the New Deal was successful in restructuring our laws and public infrastructure to create a better footing for the prosperity which would follow.

The book effectively traces how much of this regulation was reduced piece by piece, beginning in earnest with Nixon, using Cold War fears to tilt the nation toward more corporate power and away from reform, support of right-wing dictators around the world, re-energizing a 'moral crusade' especially by beginning the War on Drugs, thereby making the illegal drug trade super profitable, etc.

The nation had shifted Right and even Democratic presidents like Carter who was instrumental in deregulating industry and Clinton who signed into law the repeal of Glass--Steagle weren't able to stop the shift. Then, the 'Gangster Capitalism" went on steroids with G. W. Bush. By 2003, corporate taxes only amounted to 7% of revenues, while payroll taxes amounted to 40%.

Of note, the book makes clear it is opportunity which leads to much crime, so the approach of massive deregulation of corporations, plus focusing on arrests and imprisonment for victimless crimes ends up with the wrong results, more entrenched crime, even allowing corporations to capitalize on a prison industry.

The book is also good at highlighting how corporations and outright gangsters were able to corrupt legal drugs (price-fixing), tobacco, asbestos, body parts, autos (Pintos), etc. Some other things in the book, of note: Hamid Karzai included drug traffickers in his Afghan administration.

And, our support of Suharto (Indonesia), Mobuto (the Congo), and Marcos (the Philippines) allowed 'looting' of these countries.

A corrupt financial infrastructure included the BCCI bank and offshore banking to evade taxes also developed. Plus, laundering money from illegal arms sales, drugs, and so many other illegal activities passed through our financial system.

The book is definitely tilted toward a liberal way of looking at things, therefore it doesn't go into the good things about capitalism, but there are disturbing patterns which are important to understand, and this book does that very well.

Wasted opportunity, September 6, 2006

By James R. Maclean (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Despite the fact that I was predisposed to agree with many of the author's views, this book was a huge disappointment. First, the basic premises:
  1. American business enterprise is singularly corrupt;
  2. Most of the crime that Americans suffer from is corporate crime;
  3. American methods of fighting crime focus on lurid fantasies of underworld conspiracy;
  4. The USA exports criminality through its foreign & trade policies.

Each of these premises could have been, and in other venues have been, well-argued. The first three suffer from a lack of generally accepted, objective measures, but experts on criminology have overcome worse obstacles. What we get instead is an unfocused, rambling listing of claims (plausible, but very poorly documented) about the criminal underworld, anecdotes about corporate crime, and extreme statements. No doubt "legitimate" business enterprise does rip off more money from customers each year than do gangsters or mafiosi; but the latter also account for a tiny fraction of the total US labor force. And comparing deaths from industrial accidents to mob hits is just over the top.

Woodiwiss says that the book "had its inception during a seminar series on transnational organized crime run by Adam Edwards and Peter Gill... Adam and Peter put together several of the best academic researchers from Europe and North America...." Yet the book is exasperatingly badly substantiated. I noticed almost no original research. Woodiwiss's footnotes, which--like cops--are never around when you need them (viz., when he is actually saying something that requires documentation), are almost exclusively from articles in the *Guardian* or from other sensational exposes. Radical literature has its place, of course, but saying, "US capitalism is just like organized crime... see, it says so in 'The New Left Review'" is just a harangue, not evidence.

The back cover declaims: "..[T]he position of large multinational corporations...actually provide the most enticing opportunities for illegal profit...Gangster Capitalism shows how respectable businessmen and revered statesmen have seized these opportunities in an orgy of fraud and illegal violence that would leave the most hardened mafiosi speechless."

In fact, it's a disappointing pile of clippings. With the exception of his claims--again, plausible but unsubstantiated--you are not going to find any surprises here.

As I mentioned, he attacks conventional wisdom regarding the mafia and J. Edgar Hoover (who comes off surprisingly well); unfortunately, Woodiwiss offers almost no support for those contentions that are likely to be controversial. For example, on p.78 he mentions President [Nixon]'s Advisory Council on Executive Organization, "Organized Crime Strike Force Report" [1969], which included a vaguely worded remark that the reliance on legal sanctions to fight drug abuse was actually causing organized crime to flourish." This is footnoted. Then he says that Nixon was so horrified by this that he ruthlessly suppressed the report. This is not footnoted. The next pargagraph (p.49) includes a quote from a law enforcement officer claiming that gambling arrests were made just to pad the arrest numbers; this is footnoted. The next paragraph declares that gambling is no more corrupt than the rest of the economy. A surprising observation, it is predictably not footnoted.

The result: lots of footnotes documenting that water is a bit on the damp side, but nothing to support the controversial stuff. Only a small part is devoted to crime; the rest is a paste-up job from two dozen radical critiques of the USA. Anything from the 1971 ditching of the gold exchange standard to the various covert activities of the CIA are brought up, with no more compelling a connection to Woodiwiss' original point than being bad things that Americans did.

< are so insipid (it calls for "fair trade" with no further specification of how that would be any different... capital punishment for corporations--evidently Mr. Woodiwiss has never heard of 'money laundering,' in which a vehicle corporation commits suicide), that it is pointless to spend any time on them. Woodiwiss needs to actually learn something about economics; ironically enough, for someone who claims business is closely tied to crime, he knows almost nothing about it. He needs to know, and say what he knows, about law enforcement and business practices abroad, so he can make a comparison. And finally, he needs to actually learn how to write.


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[Feb 17, 2019] In naval blockade in the USA agenda

Feb 14, 2019 | moonofalabama.org

S | Feb 14, 2019 7:43:10 PM | 40

"What else then can he do?", b asks. They're going to do what I predicted in July they were going to do: a naval blockade. Watch this Fox Business interview that aired three days ago: US may need to form blockade off the coast of Venezuela to stop oil shipments: TrendMacro CIO.

I have transcribed the interview in full so one can find it through a search engine and so that fellow MoA commenters can repost it. Here it is:

News Anchor: Well, you know, there's oil sanctions that the Trump White House has put on Venezuela, they're now having a pretty big impact on the Maduro Administration. We're talking $20b in estimated losses already. And now an increasingly desperate Nicholas Maduro, he's looking for a financial lifeline from outside. Let's bring in TrendMacro CIO Donald Luskin. Great to see you, Don!

Donald Luskin: Great to be here!

News Anchor: Okay, $20b losses - what does that mean, first of all, for the Maduro Administration?

Donald Luskin: The problem we've got here is that we're not just dealing with the Maduro Administration. We are dealing with his partner in crime: Vladimir Putin. And what's going on right now is there's just a game of geopolitical global chess being played, where we take financial resources away from the regime in order to topple it, and Putin just steps in there and plugs the hole with money. For instance, one of the most powerful tools we have to isolate Venezuela is to put what the experts call "secondary sanctions" on financial institutions outside the United States that facilitate economic transactions for Venezuela. The sanctions we put on say: if we catch you, say, Mr. French Bank, doing a transaction for Venezuela, we will bar you from ever doing business in the United States, and if you have a branch here in the United States, we'll fine you $10b, right? So, the Russians, we learned this morning, have set up a special-purpose bank that they think is gonna be beyond these sanctions, 'cause this bank they've set up You know, so we sanction them, we say: new Russian bank, you can't do business with United States. They say: we don't care, you're our enemy anyway! So this is how Russia is in there, propping up the the (chuckle) the, the war criminal Maduro regime that is resorting to starving its own

News Anchor: Yeah.

Donald Luskin: people by blockading humanitarian aid that the rest of the world is trying to send

News Anchor: I

Donald Luskin: Folks! They do ring a bell, they do give you clues, these people are evil!

News Anchor: I hear what you're saying, I mean Oil worldwide is traded in dollars, Maduro wants dollars, Russia is facilitating the dollar exchange here for oil. You made the point, too - and it's well taken - that Russia's Rosneft owns about 49.9% of the shares of Citgo, the PdVSA unit that, basically, is collateralizing, you know, billions of dollars worth of loans that Russia's given. I mean, now Maduro's worried about a potential oil blockade. Do you think the U.S. Is going to do that?

Donald Luskin: Well, you know, that's the endgame. If we're serious about this, there's only one place that we can meet Putin head-on, and that's on the high seas. This is where we have to think about re-enacting the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, where we're not just talking about penalties for banks, we're talking about an actual, physical blockade, where put our ships off the coast of Venezuela and say: nothing comes in, nothing goes out. And let's see who blinks on that one. I have a funny feeling the blinker is the man named Vladimir Putin.

News Anchor: Yeah, and, you know, he hasn't come out publicly in support, but, Don, your points well taken. Cuba's in there, Hezbollah is in there, Iran is in Venezuela, really bad actors are in there, Don.

Donald Luskin: That's not

News Anchor: Yep.

Donald Luskin: exactly the

News Anchor: Okay.

Donald Luskin: guest list you'd like to have come at

News Anchor: Alright. (fake smile)

Donald Luskin: your party, is it?

News Anchor: Don, (it's been?) great to see you.

[Feb 17, 2019] Trump administration action in Iran, Korea, Venezuela are aggressive and counter-productive to long term peace

Feb 17, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Collin, February 15, 2019 at 9:55 am

...[Trump] administration is still filled with Hawks ...

1) The administration action in Iran is aggressive and counter-productive to long term peace. The nuclear deal was an effective way of ensuring Iran controlling behavior for 15 years as the other parties, Europe and China, wanted to trade with Iran. (Additionally it makes our nation depend more on the Saudia relationship in which Washington should be slowly moving away from.)

2) Like it or not, Venezuela is another mission creep for the Trump Administration. Recommend the administration stay away from peace keeping troops and suggest this is China's problem. (Venezuela in debt to their eyeballs with China.)

3) Applaud the administration with peace talks with NK but warn them not to overstate their accomplishments. It is ridiculous that the administration signed big nuclear deals with NK that don't exist.

[Feb 16, 2019] Russia Isn t the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too

Notable quotes:
"... The precedent was established in Italy with assistance to non-Communist candidates from the late 1940s to the 1960s. "We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their expenses," said F. Mark Wyatt, a former C.I.A. officer, in a 1996 interview . ..."
"... A self-congratulatory declassified report on the C.I.A.'s work in Chile's 1964 election boasts of the "hard work" the agency did supplying "large sums" to its favored candidate and portraying him as a "wise, sincere and high-minded statesman" while painting his leftist opponent as a "calculating schemer." Advertisement ..."
"... C.I.A. officials told Mr. Johnson in the late 1980s that "insertions" of information into foreign news media, mostly accurate but sometimes false, were running at 70 to 80 a day. In the 1990 election in Nicaragua, the C.I.A. planted stories about corruption in the leftist Sandinista government, Mr. Levin said. The opposition won. ..."
"... Over time, more American influence operations have been mounted not secretly by the C.I.A. but openly by the State Department and its affiliates. For the 2000 election in Serbia, the United States funded a successful effort to defeat Slobodan Milosevic, the nationalist leader, providing political consultants and millions of stickers with the opposition's clenched-fist symbol and "He's finished" in Serbian, printed on 80 tons of adhesive paper and delivered by a Washington contractor. ..."
"... Similar efforts were undertaken in elections in wartime Iraq and Afghanistan, not always with success. After Hamid Karzai was re-elected president of Afghanistan in 2009, he complained to Robert Gates, then the secretary of defense, about the United States' blatant attempt to defeat him, which Mr. Gates calls in his memoir "our clumsy and failed putsch." ..."
"... At least once the hand of the United States reached boldly into a Russian election. American fears that Boris Yeltsin would be defeated for re-election as president in 1996 by an old-fashioned Communist led to an overt and covert effort to help him, urged on by President Bill Clinton. It included an American push for a $10 billion International Monetary Fund loan to Russia four months before the voting and a team of American political consultants (though some Russians scoffed when they took credit for the Yeltsin win). ..."
"... In 2016, the endowment gave 108 grants totaling $6.8 million to organizations in Russia for such purposes as "engaging activists" and "fostering civic engagement." The endowment no longer names Russian recipients, who, under Russian laws cracking down on foreign funding, can face harassment or arrest. ..."
"... What the C.I.A. may have done in recent years to steer foreign elections is still secret and may not be known for decades. It may be modest by comparison with the agency's Cold War manipulation. But some old-timers aren't so sure. ..."
"... "I assume they're doing a lot of the old stuff, because, you know, it never changes," said William J. Daugherty, who worked for the C.I.A. from 1979 to 1996 and at one time had the job of reviewing covert operations. "The technology may change, but the objectives don't." ..."
Feb 18, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

Bags of cash delivered to a Rome hotel for favored Italian candidates. Scandalous stories leaked to foreign newspapers to swing an election in Nicaragua. Millions of pamphlets, posters and stickers printed to defeat an incumbent in Serbia.

The long arm of Vladimir Putin? No, just a small sample of the United States' history of intervention in foreign elections.

On Tuesday, American intelligence chiefs warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia appears to be preparing to repeat in the 2018 midterm elections the same full-on chicanery it unleashed in 2016: hacking, leaking, social media manipulation and possibly more. Then on Friday, Robert Mueller, the special counsel, announced the indictments of 13 Russians and three companies, run by a businessman with close Kremlin ties, laying out in astonishing detail a three-year scheme to use social media to attack Hillary Clinton, boost Donald Trump and sow discord.

Most Americans are understandably shocked by what they view as an unprecedented attack on our political system. But intelligence veterans, and scholars who have studied covert operations, have a different, and quite revealing, view.

"If you ask an intelligence officer, did the Russians break the rules or do something bizarre, the answer is no, not at all," said Steven L. Hall, who retired in 2015 after 30 years at the C.I.A., where he was the chief of Russian operations. The United States "absolutely" has carried out such election influence operations historically, he said, "and I hope we keep doing it."

Loch K. Johnson, the dean of American intelligence scholars , who began his career in the 1970s investigating the C.I.A. as a staff member of the Senate's Church Committee, says Russia's 2016 operation was simply the cyber-age version of standard United States practice for decades, whenever American officials were worried about a foreign vote.

"We've been doing this kind of thing since the C.I.A. was created in 1947," said Mr. Johnson, now at the University of Georgia. "We've used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners -- you name it. We've planted false information in foreign newspapers. We've used what the British call 'King George's cavalry': suitcases of cash."

The United States' departure from democratic ideals sometimes went much further. The C.I.A. helped overthrow elected leaders in Iran and Guatemala in the 1950s and backed violent coups in several other countries in the 1960s. It plotted assassinations and supported brutal anti-Communist governments in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

But in recent decades, both Mr. Hall and Mr. Johnson argued, Russian and American interferences in elections have not been morally equivalent. American interventions have generally been aimed at helping non-authoritarian candidates challenge dictators or otherwise promoting democracy. Russia has more often intervened to disrupt democracy or promote authoritarian rule, they said.

Equating the two, Mr. Hall says, "is like saying cops and bad guys are the same because they both have guns -- the motivation matters."

This broader history of election meddling has largely been missing from the flood of reporting on the Russian intervention and the investigation of whether the Trump campaign was involved. It is a reminder that the Russian campaign in 2016 was fundamentally old-school espionage, even if it exploited new technologies. And it illuminates the larger currents of history that drove American electoral interventions during the Cold War and motivate Russia's actions today.

A Carnegie Mellon scholar, Dov H. Levin , has scoured the historical record for both overt and covert election influence operations. He found 81 by the United States and 36 by the Soviet Union or Russia between 1946 and 2000, though the Russian count is undoubtedly incomplete.

"I'm not in any way justifying what the Russians did in 2016," Mr. Levin said. "It was completely wrong of Vladimir Putin to intervene in this way. That said, the methods they used in this election were the digital version of methods used both by the United States and Russia for decades: breaking into party headquarters, recruiting secretaries, placing informants in a party, giving information or disinformation to newspapers."

His findings underscore how routine election meddling by the United States -- sometimes covert and sometimes quite open -- has been.

The precedent was established in Italy with assistance to non-Communist candidates from the late 1940s to the 1960s. "We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their expenses," said F. Mark Wyatt, a former C.I.A. officer, in a 1996 interview .

Covert propaganda has also been a mainstay. Richard M. Bissell Jr., who ran the agency's operations in the late 1950s and early 1960s, wrote casually in his autobiography of "exercising control over a newspaper or broadcasting station, or of securing the desired outcome in an election."

A self-congratulatory declassified report on the C.I.A.'s work in Chile's 1964 election boasts of the "hard work" the agency did supplying "large sums" to its favored candidate and portraying him as a "wise, sincere and high-minded statesman" while painting his leftist opponent as a "calculating schemer."

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C.I.A. officials told Mr. Johnson in the late 1980s that "insertions" of information into foreign news media, mostly accurate but sometimes false, were running at 70 to 80 a day. In the 1990 election in Nicaragua, the C.I.A. planted stories about corruption in the leftist Sandinista government, Mr. Levin said. The opposition won.

Over time, more American influence operations have been mounted not secretly by the C.I.A. but openly by the State Department and its affiliates. For the 2000 election in Serbia, the United States funded a successful effort to defeat Slobodan Milosevic, the nationalist leader, providing political consultants and millions of stickers with the opposition's clenched-fist symbol and "He's finished" in Serbian, printed on 80 tons of adhesive paper and delivered by a Washington contractor.

Vince Houghton, who served in the military in the Balkans at the time and worked closely with the intelligence agencies, said he saw American efforts everywhere. "We made it very clear that we had no intention of letting Milosevic stay in power," said Mr. Houghton, now the historian at the International Spy Museum.

Similar efforts were undertaken in elections in wartime Iraq and Afghanistan, not always with success. After Hamid Karzai was re-elected president of Afghanistan in 2009, he complained to Robert Gates, then the secretary of defense, about the United States' blatant attempt to defeat him, which Mr. Gates calls in his memoir "our clumsy and failed putsch."

At least once the hand of the United States reached boldly into a Russian election. American fears that Boris Yeltsin would be defeated for re-election as president in 1996 by an old-fashioned Communist led to an overt and covert effort to help him, urged on by President Bill Clinton. It included an American push for a $10 billion International Monetary Fund loan to Russia four months before the voting and a team of American political consultants (though some Russians scoffed when they took credit for the Yeltsin win).

That heavy-handed intervention made some Americans uneasy. Thomas Carothers, a scholar at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace, recalls arguing with a State Department official who told him at the time, "Yeltsin is democracy in Russia," to which Mr. Carothers said he replied, "That's not what democracy means."

But what does democracy mean? Can it include secretly undermining an authoritarian ruler or helping challengers who embrace democratic values? How about financing civic organizations?

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In recent decades, the most visible American presence in foreign politics has been taxpayer-funded groups like the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which do not support candidates but teach basic campaign skills, build democratic institutions and train election monitors.

Most Americans view such efforts as benign -- indeed, charitable. But Mr. Putin sees them as hostile. The National Endowment for Democracy gave a $23,000 grant in 2006 to an organization that employed Aleksei Navalny, who years later became Mr. Putin's main political nemesis, a fact the government has used to attack both Mr. Navalny and the endowment.

In 2016, the endowment gave 108 grants totaling $6.8 million to organizations in Russia for such purposes as "engaging activists" and "fostering civic engagement." The endowment no longer names Russian recipients, who, under Russian laws cracking down on foreign funding, can face harassment or arrest.

It is easy to understand why Mr. Putin sees such American cash as a threat to his rule, which tolerates no real opposition. But American veterans of democracy promotion find abhorrent Mr. Putin's insinuations that their work is equivalent to what the Russian government is accused of doing in the United States today.

"It's not just apples and oranges," said Kenneth Wollack, president of the National Democratic Institute. "It's comparing someone who delivers lifesaving medicine to someone who brings deadly poison."

What the C.I.A. may have done in recent years to steer foreign elections is still secret and may not be known for decades. It may be modest by comparison with the agency's Cold War manipulation. But some old-timers aren't so sure.

"I assume they're doing a lot of the old stuff, because, you know, it never changes," said William J. Daugherty, who worked for the C.I.A. from 1979 to 1996 and at one time had the job of reviewing covert operations. "The technology may change, but the objectives don't."

Correction : Feb. 18, 2018

An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly that Aleksei Navalny, a political opponent of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, had received grants from the National Endowment for Democracy. In fact, an organization employing him received one $23,000 grant from the endowment in 2006.

Scott Shane is a national security reporter for The Times and a former Moscow correspondent.

A version of this article appears in print on Feb. 18, 2018 , on Page SR 4 of the New York edition with the headline: America Meddles in Elections, Too.

[Feb 15, 2019] An important factor in Venezuela situation is that the Gene Sharp's non-violent action regime change system has been busted somewhat. The new potential victims are not as naive and know which ropes will pulled

Notable quotes:
"... It's likely that the Brazilian and Colombian governments don't command the loyalty of their armed forces (especially the foot soldiers who would have shoulder the burden of invasion) to the extent that the Venezuelan government under Maduro does of its own. Especially if money allocated to the armed forces in Brazil and Colombia has gone to a few favored individuals in the officer hierarchies while the grunts have seen no increased pay or support, or have even seen their pay levels dwindle as their responsibilities grow. ..."
"... That's a possible scenario in Brazil given that since Dilma Rousseff's impeachment as President in 2016 it has been governed by corrupt neoliberal politicians. ..."
"... In Venezuela's situation, the crux is in how prepared are the Venezuelan officers to defend their own country on an officer's salary and on promises of future rewards by Maduro and his team. Therefore, nationalism and patriotism of the military may be that little straw which tips the balance in favour of keeping Venezuela free. At least we hope ..."
"... The last two places where Gene's revolutions have worked out were Macedonia and Armenia, but there is not much there to steal (rather profitless victories). ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jen, Feb 14, 2019 5:09:06 PM | 24Kiza @ 19:

Far more likely that Brazil and Colombia refuse to commit any troops or other support for a US-led coalition to invade Venezuela. These countries have long borders going through thinly populated tropical forest or mountain areas with Venezuela.

They don't want the prospect of fighting continuous border wars with militias that would sap their own military strength and which could go deep into their own territories. Imagine how unpopular that would make their current governments with their publics.

It's likely that the Brazilian and Colombian governments don't command the loyalty of their armed forces (especially the foot soldiers who would have shoulder the burden of invasion) to the extent that the Venezuelan government under Maduro does of its own. Especially if money allocated to the armed forces in Brazil and Colombia has gone to a few favored individuals in the officer hierarchies while the grunts have seen no increased pay or support, or have even seen their pay levels dwindle as their responsibilities grow.

That's a possible scenario in Brazil given that since Dilma Rousseff's impeachment as President in 2016 it has been governed by corrupt neoliberal politicians.

Kiza , Feb 14, 2019 6:37:07 PM | link

@ Jen 24

Thanks for providing further detail into the inner workings of the US appointed Columbian and Brazilian military. I do not think that those two militaries do not want to get involved in Venezuela, but they are not volunteering forward to be the thieve's fools on an officer's salary.

Any military which would leave its border is a mercenary, which means that the pay/benefits must be more proportional to the loot than even to the risk (i.e. they want a huge cut).

In Venezuela's situation, the crux is in how prepared are the Venezuelan officers to defend their own country on an officer's salary and on promises of future rewards by Maduro and his team. Therefore, nationalism and patriotism of the military may be that little straw which tips the balance in favour of keeping Venezuela free. At least we hope.

The second important factor is that the Gene Sharp's "non-violent action" regime change system (revolution in a box) has been busted somewhat. The new potential victims are not as naive and as unprepared as the initial victims of the "branded revolutions" were.

Therefore, the resistance to thievery is increasing. In case of Venezuela, the "revolutionaries", including the Random Guy, have been trained by the late Gene's best apostles, organisation Otpor, but it still has not worked out yet. The last two places where Gene's revolutions have worked out were Macedonia and Armenia, but there is not much there to steal (rather profitless victories).

I like to view Gene Sharp as the Lenin of the end of the 20th century. It is just so sad how much of human history is all about thieving on the back of highbrow principles and pretend-humanitarian ideologies . I pity people who argue about communism versus capitalism and any other ideologies. C'est tout la meme chose, someone is always taking someone else's women and cattle, only packaged in (MSM) verbal bullshit.

[Feb 15, 2019] The Deep Hurt Lessons From American Coups

Notable quotes:
"... American imperialists (and many Americans) truly believe that they are superior and that the world would become a better place if nations submitted to their leadership ..."
"... Early promoters of American intervention were zealous patriots. They proclaimed love of country and loyalty to the flag. Yet they could not imagine that people from non-white countries might feel just as patriotic. ..."
"... Americans have been said to be ignorant about the world. ..."
"... Violent intervention in other countries always produces unintended consequences. ..."
"... Generations of American foreign policy makers have made decisions on three assumptions: the US is the indispensable nation that must lead the world; this leadership requires toughness; and toughness is best demonstrated by the threat or use of force. ..."
"... Most American interventions are not soberly conceived, with realistic goals and clear exit strategies. ..."
"... Foreign intervention has weakened the moral authority that was once the foundation of America's political identity. Today many people around the world see it as a bully, recklessly invading foreign lands. ..."
"... Nations lose their virtue when they repeatedly attack other nations. ..."
"... America is the HIGHLY narcissistic, high functioning, psychopathic garden variety neighbor, highly destructive businessman you work hard to avoid. ..."
"... As Taleb nicely put: Our political leaders have no skin in the game and are completely unaccountable. Best preconditions for disaster! ..."
"... They even call the idea of not mass murdering people 'isolationism'. Hey, well guess what? I don't want to murder other people who never bothered me. ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Michael Welton via Counterpunch.org,

As the world watches aghast at another US and allies' attempt to engineer a coup in Venezuela, I would like to offer a few insights from Stephen Kinzer' provocative chapter, "The deep hurt," (pp. 227-250) in his book, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of the American Empire (2017). This remarkable text carries some hope and lessons for all of us. It tells the story of the great conflict around the turn of 20th century about the role that the US might play in either dominating the world or building a cosmopolitan democracy where all people feel secure that they reside in one country, the earth.

Indeed, Kinzer states:

"Anti-imperialists decisively influenced American history by helping to ensure that the first burst of American annexation would be the last" (p. 228).

Even swash-buckling Teddy Roosevelt was influenced, losing his zest for the idea of conquest. When he charged into the White House he held two views simultaneously, intervene to help other people, without oppressing them. Kinzer thinks that this dichotomy "torments our national psyche" (p. 229). In the early parts of the book Kinzer sets out the anti-imperialist (Mark Twain) and pro-imperialist visions (Henry Cabot Lodge). These speeches are worth gathering round for reflection.

During the following hundred years much of what the anti-imperialists predicted has come to pass. The United States has become an "actively interventionist power. It has projected military or covert power into dozens of countries on every continent except Antarctica"(ibid.). George Frisbie Hoar was right, Kinzer points out, when he "warned that intervening in other lands would turn the United States into a 'vulgar, commonplace empire founded upon physical force"" (ibid.).

Anti-imperialists also predicted that an "aggressive foreign policy would have pernicious effects at home" (ibid.). Military budgets have soared to heights unimaginable in the days of fervent expansionism in the 1898 war with the Philippines. The armaments industries wield extraordinary clout. The wealth-soaked elites dominate politics. The invasion and overthrowing of distant regimes resides in the hands of a few decision-makers. And militaristic values and rituals saturate American life and expunge peaceful ones.

To be sure, American intervention brought some material blessings (good schools and orderly systems of justice, etc) and rising American power was perceived as "good for everyone simply because it means strengthening the world's most beneficent nation" (p. 230). The expansionists of 1898 believed that America was "inherently benevolent," and subject nations would rally around the May pole in celebratory dance. "The opposite happened .Carl Schurz was right when he warned that dominating foreigners would ultimately force Americans to 'shoot them down because they stand up for their independence'" (p. 231).

Kinzer states that: " In the face of profound new challenges, Americans are once again debating the role of the United States in the world. Should it intervene violently in other countries? This remains what Senator William V. Allen called it in 1899: 'The greatest question that has ever been presented to the American people'" (p. 231). American culture carries a current of anti-imperialism and commitment to an international legal order. They played a big role in the establishment of the UN and nurturing global governance. They remain the world's only superpower with enormous capacity to move towards building the cosmopolitan world order. What is evident now in this dark moment of history is that the world as it is, is not the way it has to be.

It is difficult, I think, for the United States with its inordinate military might and present delusionary self-understanding to wrench itself free from wanting to intervene for political and economic reasons. Many in the post-WW I world had placed their bet for a better world on the Presbyterian professor Woodrow Wilson. Famously, Wilson triggered immense hopefulness to the disenfranchised in the colonies of European powers. He preached that they should "choose the sovereignty under which the shall live" (p. 232). In office, American troops were dispatched to intervene in Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Russia .Like his predecessors -- and successors -- Wilson insisted that he was doing it for the good of the target countries. Americans would leave them alone, he promised, as soon as they learned 'to elect good men'" (ibid.). Today scholars speak of the "shattered peace" of the post-WW I world. Was the desire to begin building, slowly, carefully, a cosmopolitan world order, as Jan Smuts thought, an "impossible dream"?

Kinzer observes that "this most compassionate of presidents not only invaded countries that defied the United States, but studiously ignored appeals from colonized people outside Europe, notably in Egypt, India, Korea, and Indochina. His hypocrisy set the stage for generations of war and upheaval" (ibid.). Margaret MacMillan's lively and densely detailed book, Paris 1919 (2001) , provides the stories for these outcast colonized countries.

Today, the US has intervened one more time. The difference now may well be that there is little pretence that the US is engaging in the bully politics of "might is right." They don't care two hoots about what the world thinks. They do not give a damn about the self-determination of all countries and peoples. This invasion is stripped of any moral or legal justification. The US has decided to declare the Speaker of the House, Juan Guaido, president. This is unheard of! And Canada has forsaken the best of its liberal and social democratic traditions of adherence to rule of law to hitch its caboose to the US's rampaging imperialist train.

There are several lessons that Kinzer draws from American history of intervention that our worth careful reflection.

1) American imperialists (and many Americans) truly believe that they are superior and that the world would become a better place if nations submitted to their leadership . The United States would be better off, Kinzer says, if it became a learning nation and not a teaching one.

2) Early promoters of American intervention were zealous patriots. They proclaimed love of country and loyalty to the flag. Yet they could not imagine that people from non-white countries might feel just as patriotic. Love of country was a mark of civilization. Lesser peoples, therefore, couldn't grasp it.

3) Americans have been said to be ignorant about the world. They are, says Kinzer, but so are other peoples. The difference is that American leaders, puffed with a sense of mission, acted on ignorance. American leaders see little reason to bother learning about the nations whose affairs they intrude.

4) Violent intervention in other countries always produces unintended consequences. Cuba was turned into a protectorate in 1901. A fine idea? It led ultimately to a bitter anti-American regime. Intervention in the Philippines sparked waves of nationalism across East Asia that contributed to the Communist revolution in China in 1949. Later American interventions also had terrible results planners never anticipated. From Iran and Guatemala to Iraq and Afghanistan, intervention has devastated societies and produced violent anti-American passion.

5) Generations of American foreign policy makers have made decisions on three assumptions: the US is the indispensable nation that must lead the world; this leadership requires toughness; and toughness is best demonstrated by the threat or use of force. Thus: America is inherently righteous; its influence on rest of world always benign.

6) Most American interventions are not soberly conceived, with realistic goals and clear exit strategies. But violent invasions always leave so-called "collateral damage": families killed, destroyed towns, ruined lives, damaged land.

7) The argument that the United States intervenes to defend "freedom" rarely matches facts on the ground. Many (most?) interventions prop up predatory regimes. The goal is simply to increase American power rather than to liberate the suffering.

8) Foreign intervention has weakened the moral authority that was once the foundation of America's political identity. Today many people around the world see it as a bully, recklessly invading foreign lands. The current invasion of Venezuela is such an example. The name "United States" is associated with bombing, invasion, occupation, night raids, covert action, torture, kidnapping, and secret prisons. Who wants to be saved by America? John Bolton recently threatened Maduro with prison in Guantanamo if he doesn't get the hell out of Venezuela.

9) Nations lose their virtue when they repeatedly attack other nations. That loss, as Washington predicted, has cost the United States its felicity. Kinzer says that the US can regain it only by understanding its own national interests more clearly. He thinks it is late for the United States to change its course in the world -- but not too late.


Leguran , 5 hours ago link

America has not become an interventionist power. What has happened is a Coup d'Etat has been staged through Congressional rules that give unconstitutional powers to a tiny group on the basis of their 'seniority' and reconcilliation committee appointment. These few, not the American people want intervention, war, you name it. They spent $5 trillion in the Middle East alone. So, let's not blame the American people.

CatInTheHat , 5 hours ago link

5) Generations of American foreign policy makers have made decisions on three assumptions: the US is the indispensable nation that must lead the world; this leadership requires toughness; and toughness is best demonstrated by the threat or use of force. Thus: America is inherently righteous; its influence on rest of world always benign.

6) Most American interventions are not soberly conceived, with realistic goals and clear exit strategies. But violent invasions always leave so-called "collateral damage": families killed, destroyed towns, ruined lives, damaged land.

7) The argument that the United States intervenes to defend "freedom" rarely matches facts on the ground. Many (most?) interventions prop up predatory regimes. The goal is simply to increase American power rather than to liberate the suffering.

8) Foreign intervention has weakened the moral authority that was once the foundation of America's political identity. Today many people around the world see it as a bully, recklessly invading foreign lands. The current invasion of Venezuela is such an example. The name "United States" is associated with bombing, invasion, occupation, night raids, covert action, torture, kidnapping, and secret prisons. Who wants to be saved by America? John Bolton recently threatened Maduro with prison in Guantanamo if he doesn't get the hell out of Venezuela."

America is the HIGHLY narcissistic, high functioning, psychopathic garden variety neighbor, highly destructive businessman you work hard to avoid. How any American can see the US and it's people as exceptional is beyond me. No yellow vests anti WAR protests have evolved to STOP the US genocidal killing machine.

The US, the white supremacist nation has zero trouble killing maiming and displacing millions of brown Muslims & Christians in 3 world countries. This WILL come home to roost as what the Zionazi empire of psychopaths does to other countries they will do to US

Son of Captain Nemo , 5 hours ago link

9) "Nations lose their virtue when they repeatedly attack other nations. That loss, as Washington predicted, has cost the United States its felicity. Kinzer says that the US can regain it only by understanding its own national interests more clearly. He thinks it is late for the United States to change its course in the world -- but not too late."...

I don't even think Teddy as self righteous and psychopathic as he was at the turn of the 20th Century would have ponied up to cannibalizing his own ( https://wikispooks.com/wiki/9-11/Israel_did_it ) in order to build ever more "pretexts" through the torture and murder of other sovereign nations simply as a means to "control" resources for the good of his $currency and it's banks and not a Country and it's peoples under the rule of law to a parasite/cyst that it is willing to die for ( https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-19/top-us-general-says-american-troops-should-be-ready-die-israel ) before it's own Nation!...

It is not only "too late" Mr. Kinzer... It's epitaph was written large almost 18 years ago when it's people chose not to address that crime of betrayal and treason to it's Constitution and stood idly by as it's government squandered it children's childrens childrens wealth for that lie ( https://www.ae911truth.org/news/506-grand-jury-to-hear-9-11-evidence-an-interview-with-the-lawyers-who-made-it-happen )

Moribundus , 6 hours ago link

Another gr8 lesson about American freedom and democracy is in book: The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. Americans should know that before slaves from Africa white trash from Britain was shipped as slaves. See: They were white and they were slaves.

Nunyadambizness , 6 hours ago link

" Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. ... In the execution of such a plan nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations and passionate attachments for others should be excluded, and that in place of them just and amicable feelings toward all should be cultivated....

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial, else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other....

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. ... GEORGE WASHINGTON

I wish we had listened.

Smi1ey , 6 hours ago link

Foreign intervention has weakened the moral authority that was once the foundation of America's political identity. Today many people around the world see it as a bully, recklessly invading foreign lands.

Meanwhile, their own people in America see them as Satan worshiping pedophiles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS8i7C7JJ14

Chupacabra-322 , 8 hours ago link

As the raises & sets one can be assured of one thing. People are gullible as ****.

schroedingersrat , 11 hours ago link

As Taleb nicely put: Our political leaders have no skin in the game and are completely unaccountable. Best preconditions for disaster!

Dick Buttkiss , 6 hours ago link

Indeed, as that's the nature of the state in any and all its iterations. Reform it? Yes. But only by eradicating it altogether. Why? Because, as the great Albert Jay Nock said,

"Sending in good people to reform the state is like sending in virgins to reform the whorehouse."

Think this is impossible? Think again...

IntercoursetheEU , 14 hours ago link

McCabe, evil whitey on the front line here too? ; chickens coming home to roost finally? Guess there are two kind of people, those who work for a living, and the barbarians who appropriate the fruits of other's labor.

Justapleb , 14 hours ago link

Mark Twain wrote savagely and derisively about the Moro Massacre, where the US killed around a thousand Filipino natives who were hiding in a dormant volcano, they just rimmed it with artillery and killed everyone.

Because they would not pay tribute. We waterboarded about 200 important people, the equivalent of mayors and councilmen, ranking officers in militias we had no business disbanding.

1898 was lies and deceit from the outset. We promised the Philippine General Aguinaldo that if he fought the Spanish on land, then we would fight them at sea. In exchange for victory over the Spanish, the Philippines would be freed from colonization.

Except then we took it ourselves and killed anyone who disagreed. Slaughter, rape, torture, it was never for one moment noble. The USA granted the Philippines its independence after the Japanese conquered them, lol.

DFGTC , 14 hours ago link

Empires do not give up power, their grip weakens ... Empires do not devolve back into "republics", they crash and burn ... And there are really only two options: a) soft collapse b) hard collapse (there is no [c] option)

Kokito , 7 hours ago link

Exactly -The article was written by another delusional trying to reconstruct/masquerade the US criminal empire behind the a new facelift, too little too late. The guy didn't get the memo from Putin/Xi, telling him tat it is a multipolar world & that the US criminal empire is death & that it will never come back in any shape, way or form, to violate international law & carry out war crimes.

keep the bastards honest , 14 hours ago link

American or uk coups are not beneficial. Very sad. Checking USA coups online there is a huge list, after the Allende govt in Chile, comes Australia, the Whitlam govt, much loved, but ousted in a coup, bloodless by his choice. The people were waiting for Gough to call them out. Newspaper staff arrived from overseas.

first day in office his govt had let the conscientious objectors out of the 2 years they were serving in jail. There had been mass demonstrations against Aus participation and incarceration to no avail with the previous govt. Brought back our Australians from Vietnam, and twenty or 30 or more major things. Every day.

Chuckster , 15 hours ago link

We have learned nothing. Apparently we are using the taming of the lion method which has been used for thousands of years to take control of countries on Venezuela. The apparent goal is to take over several Latin and south American countries. Will this be good or bad? Our past history indicates it will be a disaster. Have we had any successes?

Atalanta , 15 hours ago link

Craving for respect. This started after the first bite in the apple, history said. Religion is based on that happening. Americans invented the extra load called fastest. Watch Hollywood portraying it. Respect shown all over the show for plain murderers. Graveyard managers and priest making the picture complete. Making that part of the world the right place for a second coming. Resulting in sending all believers to the place named hell.

lnardozi , 15 hours ago link

The fact that this is not taken for granted is exactly what is wrong with America. If only we could just learn to leave other people alone unless attacked. They even call the idea of not mass murdering people 'isolationism'. Hey, well guess what? I don't want to murder other people who never bothered me. I can't say I'm a Christian, but aren't they supposed to disagree with this sort of thing? They're also supposed to be like 80% of the population, why don't we ever hear, 'murder bad' from them?

[Feb 15, 2019] Venezuela - Media Find Trump's Coup Plan Does Not Work

The leading figures were Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo and Senator Marco Rubio as well as hawks in in the National Security Council
Notable quotes:
"... Bolton and Pompeo are both experienced politicians and bureaucrats. They likely knew that their plan was deeply flawed and would require much more than Trump would normally commit to. My hunch is that the soon coming mission creep was build into their plan, but that they did not reveal that. ..."
"... The U.S. said it was paying for the aid but wanted Colombia to find trucks and drivers to move it in. The Colombians said no one would accept the mission because the Venezuelan military would arrest them. The aid remains in warehouses near the border. ..."
"... The little spontaneous support the Random Guyidó had in some parts of the population is already lessening. Yesterday's demonstration he had called for saw less attendance than the one on January 23. ..."
"... f the U.S. does not do more than it has done so far the government under President Maduro can sit this out. The sanctions and the lack of oil revenue will create many immediate problems. But in a few weeks Venezuelan oil will have found new buyers. Fresh money will come in and new sources for imports of medicine and staple food will have been found. ..."
"... Over the same time the Random Guy will lose support. The party he nominally leads only won 20% of the votes. The other opposition parties were never informed of his plan to declare himself president. Their support for the step was lukewarm and will cool further. They may in the end support the mediation talks Maduro has offered and which the UN, Uruguay and Mexico also support. The talks could lead to new parliament and/or presidential elections in a year or two and thereby solve the situation. ..."
"... Waging an open war against that country would be very messy, expensive and difficult to justify. To start and support a guerilla war - Elliott Abrams specialty - takes time also costs a lot of money. The chances to win it are low. Moreover Trump wants to get re-elected but could lose many votes over both scenarios. ..."
"... Venezuela follows the neoliberal doctrine, perhaps not by choice, but they buy what they can't produce. Now they can't buy much and they do not produce much but oil, and they are denied payment by their biggest customer of oil. Ouch. Their gold in London cant be used. Revenues from Citgo are denied. Cant even sell their overseas assets now. ..."
"... People need to eat, once they start going hungry they become more receptive to change. US wont use force unless Venezuela is so beaten down by lack of food and medicines they can be rolled over without much of a fight, perhaps after softening them up with mercenaries or other countries troops ..."
"... Its a process. There is no hurry for the US. Time is on their side. That's the reality. Chinise refineries cant handle too much of their heavy oil and its not about to intervene in any military conflict, and Russia does not need their oil plus Venezuela owes them a lot of money, and they own 49% of Citgo and its US refineries. They will cut a deal that minimizes their losses. ..."
"... I find an interesting parallel between Syria and Venezuela. The US allies who are supposed to sacrifice for the regime change and thieving of the neighbouring country. When US assembled a Thieving Coalition on behalf of Israel to rip apart Syria, Turkey and GCC (Saudis) were the prominent local members, just as Columbia and Brazil in ripping apart Venezuela (also with puppet master Israel on top). ..."
"... We usually think of Israel only as a tormenter of the Palestinians. But Israel is much, much more - it is the Capo Di Tutti i Capi of the global crime. Tormenting Palestinians is only a hobby, a sport, but destroying countries to steal their wealth is the day job. US is a dumb bully, the blunt tool that the Israel Crime Syndicate uses for stealing on a global scale. This is my new perspective after Israel's involvement in the coup in Venezuela. ..."
"... I've been following this story on Telesur and MintPress News for a few days. It confirms the theory that what the US could be doing is igniting -- inadvertently -- civil wars in the Lima Group countries. ..."
"... The Washington Mafia won't admit defeat that easily. Some false flag action somewhere at the border or the u.s. embassy will come. The howling of the Relotius media will be deafening. Maybe a Colombian or a Brazilian military is stupid enough to do what Tronald Dumb would rather avoid in consideration of his electorate. ..."
"... It's likely that the Brazilian and Colombian governments don't command the loyalty of their armed forces (especially the foot soldiers who would have shoulder the burden of invasion) to the extent that the Venezuelan government under Maduro does of its own. Especially if money allocated to the armed forces in Brazil and Colombia has gone to a few favored individuals in the officer hierarchies while the grunts have seen no increased pay or support, or have even seen their pay levels dwindle as their responsibilities grow. ..."
"... That's a possible scenario in Brazil given that since Dilma Rousseff's impeachment as President in 2016 it has been governed by corrupt neoliberal politicians. ..."
"... those are good parallels between syria and venezuala that you draw and to which i agree with.. my thought on trump is basically - it doesn't matter who is in the presidents seat in the usa, as the president seems to have little to say on that matter.. ..."
"... One other thing also to consider is that in addition to conventional armed forces, Venezuela also has popular defense committees and militias among urban and rural communities who would be fighting any invasion forces. ..."
"... If the US nag croaks financially, EU will not be much of a replacement, whilst the potential of parasitising on Russia and China approaches zero. Therefore, I conclude that "strategy of flogging the nag to death" is not really a strategy, it is an urge. That is, it comes from a mix of chutzpah, psychopathy and pig manure in the nature of the parasite. After all, who puts up a sofa on top of a hill of a stolen land to watch the final extinction of the previous owner. Obviously, this goes far beyond just stealing the women and the cattle. ..."
"... These guys are pretty smart. Many like to think otherwise, perhaps it makes them feel better. You can't judge their actions by Hollywood standards of winning and losing. Chaos and denial of resources to anyone opposed to the Empire is enough of a Win , at least temporarily. Its a long game they play, its been played for over a century now, even much longer. ..."
"... The elites, referred to by Plato as Philosopher Kings , want to rule the world as living Gods, or at least their descendants. It's only over the last 150-250 years or so that control of science, finance, military, capitalism and democracy (manipulated via the printing press) gave them the means to realize their goals. It was a long road for them, operating through secret societies and monopoly control of money and government debt, and dealing with factions who were bound by morality (hence the war on religion) . In the battle between Good and Evil tbe good guys have been annihilated or at least silenced, at least in the West and most likely much of the East. ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
b , Feb 14, 2019 2:23:41 PM | link
On January 25, two days after Random Guyidó declared himself President of Venezuela, the lack of planing in the U.S. coup attempt was already obvious :
My impression is that Trump was scammed. It was long evident that he gives little attention to details and does not think things through. Most likely Bolton, Pompeo and Rubio presented him with a three step plan:

Phase 1. Support the self declared president Guaidó; Phase 2: ... (wishful thinking) ...; Phase 3: Take half of their oil!
...
Bolton and Pompeo are both experienced politicians and bureaucrats. They likely knew that their plan was deeply flawed and would require much more than Trump would normally commit to. My hunch is that the soon coming mission creep was build into their plan, but that they did not reveal that.

The U.S. coup planners and their Venezuelan puppets had hoped that the Venezuelan military would jump to their side. That was wishful thinking and unlikely to happen. They also thought up some "humanitarian aid" scheme in which pictures of trucks crossing a long blocked bridge would soon shame the Venezuelan president into stepping down. That was likewise nonsense.

Unless the U.S. is willing and able to escalate, the coup attempt is destined to fail.

'Western' media now recognize that phase 2 of the coup plan is in deep trouble. Today the Guardian , Bloomberg and the New York Times all describe growing frustration with the lack of success.

The Guardian notes :

[T]hree weeks after Guaidó electrified the previously rudderless opposition movement by declaring himself interim leader, there are signs his campaign risks losing steam.

An anticipated mass defection of military chiefs – which opposition leaders admit is a prerequisite to Maduro's departure – has not materialized, and Maduro's inner-circle has begun claiming it has weathered the political storm.

Bloomberg writes :

Since Juan Guaido declared himself interim president three weeks ago and offered amnesty to officers who abandon Maduro, more than 30 countries led by the U.S. have hailed the move, waiting for the military to follow. There hasn't been a rush to his side.

...

In a country with more than 2,000 generals and admirals, only one top officer -- who commands no troops -- has pledged allegiance to Guaido.

...

This is a major reason why the revolution isn't moving as quickly as some had hoped when Guaido electrified the world on Jan. 23 with his declaration. This has led to impatience and finger-pointing. U.S. policy makers and those around Guaido -- as well as leaders in Brazil and Colombia -- are eyeing one another and worrying about failure. Officials in each camp have said privately they assumed the others had a more developed strategy.

The NY Times shows similar frustration :

[The opposition's] goal was to bring the supplies into Venezuela, forcing a confrontation with Mr. Maduro, who has refused the help. This would cast Mr. Maduro in a bad light, opposition leaders said, and display their ability to set up a government-like relief system in a nation where the crumbling economy has left many starving, sick and without access to medicine.

But there was no dramatic confrontation.

The "aid" delivery failed, according to Bloomberg , for lack of planning and coordination :

Worry about what comes next has intensified . At a meeting in the U.S. embassy in Bogota, Colombia, last week, military, intelligence and civilian leaders from both countries discussed ways of moving humanitarian aid into Venezuela. There was a sense of frustration in the air, according to a participant who agreed to discuss it on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. said it was paying for the aid but wanted Colombia to find trucks and drivers to move it in. The Colombians said no one would accept the mission because the Venezuelan military would arrest them. The aid remains in warehouses near the border.

At similar meetings in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, a person who attended said the dynamic was the same -- the U.S. expecting Colombia to find the means to deliver the aid and the Colombians saying they can't.

The opposition is only now thinking up its own crazy scheme for delivering the "aid":

In Cúcuta, members of the opposition say they are considering options to physically force the shipment into Venezuela.

Omar Lares, a former opposition mayor in exile in Cúcuta, said organizers want people to surround an aid truck on the Colombian side and accompany it to the bridge. A crowd of thousands would be gathered on the other side to push through a security cordon, move the containers blocking the bridge, and accompany the aid into Venezuela.

"One group over there, one over here, and we'll make one large human chain," he said.

And what does he think the battalion of Venezuelan soldiers between the two groups will do? Just step aside and allow an invasion of their country?

The struggle could make for some marketable TV pictures but it would not achieve anything. The lack of planning is daunting even to the lobbyists in Washington DC:

" The opposition has created immense expectations, and it's not at all clear they have a plan for actually fulfilling them ," said David Smilde, a Venezuela analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America.

The U.S. coup plotters and their Venezuelan proxies seem to recognize that there will be no imminent change :

Addressing a congressional hearing, the US special envoy on Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, claimed "Maduro and his band of thieves" were finished. He claimed international pressure meant "there is a storm brewing inside the Maduro regime that will eventually bring it to an end".

But while Abrams said Washington was "hopeful and confident" of Maduro's demise he admitted it was "impossible to predict" when it might come. The US would maintain pressure "over the next weeks and months", he added, suggesting a quick resolution is no longer expected.

Opposition leaders have spent recent days trying to dampen expectations that Maduro's exit is imminent.

Juan Andrés Mejía, an opposition leader and Guaidó ally, admitted that goal "could take some time".

The little spontaneous support the Random Guyidó had in some parts of the population is already lessening. Yesterday's demonstration he had called for saw less attendance than the one on January 23. He now says that he will force the 'aid' crossing on February 23 but he does not seem to have a real plan to achieve that:

President of the National Assembly Guaido also promised the country that US-delivered humanitarian aid will "enter the country no matter what" on February 23, issuing an "order" for the military to allow it to enter. However, military leaders have dismissed these calls, with the Central Defense Region tweeting in response that the armed forces would not take any orders from an "imperial lackey."

"One month after the swearing in we have done it. This February 23 the humanitarian aid will enter the country. The Armed Forces have 11 days to decide if they are on the side of the Venezuelans and the Constitution or on that of the usurper," he claimed in reference to President Maduro.

I f the U.S. does not do more than it has done so far the government under President Maduro can sit this out. The sanctions and the lack of oil revenue will create many immediate problems. But in a few weeks Venezuelan oil will have found new buyers. Fresh money will come in and new sources for imports of medicine and staple food will have been found.

Over the same time the Random Guy will lose support. The party he nominally leads only won 20% of the votes. The other opposition parties were never informed of his plan to declare himself president. Their support for the step was lukewarm and will cool further. They may in the end support the mediation talks Maduro has offered and which the UN, Uruguay and Mexico also support. The talks could lead to new parliament and/or presidential elections in a year or two and thereby solve the situation.

The U.S. would not be satisfied by a compromise solution. Trump is now committed to 'regime change' in Venezuela. But how can he do it?

Waging an open war against that country would be very messy, expensive and difficult to justify. To start and support a guerilla war - Elliott Abrams specialty - takes time also costs a lot of money. The chances to win it are low. Moreover Trump wants to get re-elected but could lose many votes over both scenarios.

What else then can he do?

Posted by b on February 14, 2019 at 01:58 PM | Permalink

Comments Venezuelaanalysis just posted short interviews with Random Guyido supporters. They all sound frustrated and disappointed:
https://twitter.com/venanalysis/status/1096124587316834304


chet380 , Feb 14, 2019 2:28:06 PM | link

Have Russia and/or China taken any steps to provide any medications that may be urgently required by Venezuelan hospitals or doctors? ...one or two planeloads would seem to get it done
Sally Snyder , Feb 14, 2019 2:37:23 PM | link
Here is an article that looks at an aspect of life in Venezuela that never gets mentioned in the Western media:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2019/02/venezuelas-socially-responsible-banking.html

Given the nation's massive economic potential, America's bankers must be excited about the prospect of even higher profitability based on increased business opportunities in the nation that has the world's largest oil reserves.

Kiza , Feb 14, 2019 2:50:59 PM | link
Simply put, whilst the regime change in Venezuela is faltering the Trump's retreat to Deep State is escalating. After a couple of months of no movement in Venezuela, he will be forced to commence his first open war.

Clintons, Bushes and Obama started theirs, how could Trump disappoint? Starting a war would complete the outcome which is a mirror image (opposite) to what Trump promised and was elected on.

Some would say that Trump's achievement is zero. Yet, the system which delivered two worst Presidential candidates ever in history is to blame. Trump was just the worst candidate for President. If the other, worstest candidate won, there already would have been no Venezuela and no US, the World would have been a pile of radioactive dust. It is still not impossible that the worst candidate could achieve the same as the worstest, but for the other one the outcome was a virtual certainty.

As to 2020 election, expect deja vu - Republican Trump the Worst and some Democratic the Worstest. Who are you gonna vote for? Who with brains will waste time voting?

CE , Feb 14, 2019 2:59:14 PM | link
Backlash is arriving already. The people of Haiti are toppling their corrupt US puppet president in naked anger over his betrayal of Venezuela when he voted with the Empire's dictate in a January OAS event declaring Maduro "illegimite". Must read :

Haiti's Unfolding Revolution Is Directly Linked to Venezuela's

Myrisa , Feb 14, 2019 3:00:24 PM | link

Yet, this is Granma a few hours ago:
'Between February 6 and 10 of 2019, several military transport aircraft have flown to the Rafael Miranda Airport in Puerto Rico, the San Isidro Air Base in the Dominican Republic, and other strategically located Caribbean Islands, most certainly without the knowledge of the governments of those nations. These flights took off from U.S. military facilities where Special Operation Troops and U.S. Marine Corps units operate. These units have been used for covert operations, even against leaders of other countries.'
US Militiary Adventure Against Venezuela Must be Stopped
dh , Feb 14, 2019 3:08:00 PM | link
@2 Interesting video. Those people are obviously starving, dressed in rags and desperate for toilet paper.
james , Feb 14, 2019 3:24:37 PM | link
thanks b... you said this in one of your previous post - they don't have a plan!

@5 kiza - lol! - the way i see it, trump is almost the most successful as he hasn't engaged in a direct war, and had to work thru other ones started by other presidents... i like entertaining the idea it is trump against the deep state... it is a fun thought, but i think it is extremely unrealistic.. trump will do what he is told even if it is in a round about way.. if the deep state want a war, he will cosign it.. as b also shared - all the sanctions on russia haven't let up and instead have just increased steadily since he entered office.. trump may talk a good line - no more wars, why can't we be friends with russia and etc - but he is missing in action on these same fronts.. now, maybe if he can hold off on following Netanyahu's war plan for Iran, or hold off on bombing Venezuela or whatever he is supposed to do here, he might have a chance for a 2nd term... the democrats have shown real skill in shooting themselves in the foot! anything is possible..

i too enjoyed the congresswomen who was up on anti-Semite charges taking a real strip out of Elliot Abrams yesterday.. kudos to her for going for it..

Peter AU 1 , Feb 14, 2019 3:30:30 PM | link
Nobody volunteering to be the martyrs as yet, so some will have to be volunteered. The Trump regime has put a lot of work into gaining Venezuelan oil, so I doubt they will be stopped by a little hiccup.
psychohistorian , Feb 14, 2019 3:35:40 PM | link
I didn't see this posting from Reuters about the next ploy in b's posting

"(Reuters) - President Donald Trump will give a speech on Venezuela in Miami on Monday and voice support for Venezuela's National Assembly President Juan Guaido, whom the United States considers the legitimate president of that country, a White House official said on Wednesday. Trump is to make remarks on Venezuela and "the dangers of socialism" at Florida International University in Miami, the official said."

We have had this discussion before but there is only top/bottom and not left/right. That said, the elite are now setting up to cast top/bottom as capitalism/socialism......neither of which exist in the same way that TOP/BOTTOM does.

Within the definition of TOP/BOTTOM one could suggest that

Capitalism is where (TOP) a historical elite perpetuate the God of Mammon global finance jackboot without oversight and TBTF on the BOTTOM that acts like powerless zombies, and

Socialism is where the God of Mammon global finance is a set of public utilities as a managed resource for the public commons and strict restrictions are made on ongoing ownership of private property

Pft , Feb 14, 2019 3:39:29 PM | link
Cant say its failed. Too soon.

Venezuela follows the neoliberal doctrine, perhaps not by choice, but they buy what they can't produce. Now they can't buy much and they do not produce much but oil, and they are denied payment by their biggest customer of oil. Ouch. Their gold in London cant be used. Revenues from Citgo are denied. Cant even sell their overseas assets now.

People need to eat, once they start going hungry they become more receptive to change. US wont use force unless Venezuela is so beaten down by lack of food and medicines they can be rolled over without much of a fight, perhaps after softening them up with mercenaries or other countries troops

Its a process. There is no hurry for the US. Time is on their side. That's the reality. Chinise refineries cant handle too much of their heavy oil and its not about to intervene in any military conflict, and Russia does not need their oil plus Venezuela owes them a lot of money, and they own 49% of Citgo and its US refineries. They will cut a deal that minimizes their losses.

karlof1 , Feb 14, 2019 3:47:59 PM | link
Max Blumenthal continues to try and reclaim his former position as a believable journalist. I provided his observational tweet on the previous Venezuelan thread, and do so again :

"At Tuesday's opposition march, among the most ferociously anti-Chavista elements in Venezuela, I struggled to find a single person willing to openly support a direct US military intervention. Not that Bolton, Rubio, or Abrams would care."

Of course, those sentiments do pose a problem for the Orange Gringo. Down the thread is a cute cartoon vid that will bring out the wry smile in most.

There's more at Venezuela Analysis's Twitter , Dan Cohen's exploits being just one of several.

Tom Welsh , Feb 14, 2019 4:10:29 PM | link

'"The opposition has created immense expectations, and it's not at all clear they have a plan for actually fulfilling them," said David Smilde, a Venezuela analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America'.

No. Actually, the US government and media have created immense expectations. Apparently Trump's plans as President and Commander-in-Chief are just as half-baked as his business projects were.

Blooming Barricade , Feb 14, 2019 4:12:34 PM | link
Alex Jones hails police state Reichstag fire like decision by neocon Trump, paymaster for lovely neocons like PNAC members Bolton, Abrams... https://www.infowars.com/watch/?video=5c65d736187ef30017a797ec
George Lane , Feb 14, 2019 4:17:37 PM | link
Recommend these two interviews from today:
  • FM Jorge Arreaza with Sharmini Peries: here .
  • And Roberto Lovato professor at UCLA on Democracy Now (they're redeeming themselves a bit IMO with their Venezuela coverage, considering their abysmal coverage of Syria and "Russiagate"): here .
Lochearn , Feb 14, 2019 4:19:12 PM | link
@ 6

Thanks for the link, CE. Very interesting. I had heard nothing about events in Haiti until this.

Kiza , Feb 14, 2019 4:36:46 PM | link
@james 9
Thanks for all your previous comments as well as this one. I do not subscribe to the concept that Trump is a Deep State puppet. Even the horrible Obama was not. All those sh**bags enter the vice of Presidency and after being squeezed a little by the Deep State wizards behind the curtain, they start dancing to the tune. The system selects them on the basis of low resistance, that is on the basis of being worthless, characterless individuals. Watch the pre-selection/Primaries debates to realise how it comes to the final match between the worst and the worstest.

But I find an interesting parallel between Syria and Venezuela. The US allies who are supposed to sacrifice for the regime change and thieving of the neighbouring country. When US assembled a Thieving Coalition on behalf of Israel to rip apart Syria, Turkey and GCC (Saudis) were the prominent local members, just as Columbia and Brazil in ripping apart Venezuela (also with puppet master Israel on top).

The Syria rip off failed because of what I called "the honesty between the thieves". It appears that the Venezuela rip off is faltering due to the same reason. Perhaps it is an in-built, systemic weakness of thieving coalitions that all the members want a piece of the dismembered victim, but are too careful to sacrifice more of their own blood and money than the next to achieve it.

Israel passes the buck down to US, US passes the buck down to Columbia and Brazil, Columbian and Brazilian regimes try to pass it down to some internal fool, but those are hard to find.

The thieving, murdering pyramid falters for the lack of self-sacrificial, extremist fools (rarer in South America than in Middle East).

We usually think of Israel only as a tormenter of the Palestinians. But Israel is much, much more - it is the Capo Di Tutti i Capi of the global crime. Tormenting Palestinians is only a hobby, a sport, but destroying countries to steal their wealth is the day job. US is a dumb bully, the blunt tool that the Israel Crime Syndicate uses for stealing on a global scale. This is my new perspective after Israel's involvement in the coup in Venezuela.

bevin , Feb 14, 2019 4:38:42 PM | link
Thanks @6 for that link.

I've been following this story on Telesur and MintPress News for a few days. It confirms the theory that what the US could be doing is igniting -- inadvertently -- civil wars in the Lima Group countries.

Talking of which: The Canadian government is looking very weak. There are calls for Trudeau's resignation after the unveiling of a corruption scandal involving Lavalin which was heavily involved in the Libyan war in which Canada played a leading and ignominious role -- Pilots, enforcing the 'no fly' zone, were said afterwards to have been disillusioned, having been used as Al Qaeda's Air Force.

Canada has been taking the lead as a US surrogate in propagandizing for regime change in Venezuela, if there is a government crisis it could lead to Freeland taking Trudeau's place. On the other hand it might lead to a saner person being appointed to Foreign Affairs.

Pnyx , Feb 14, 2019 4:40:49 PM | link
The Washington Mafia won't admit defeat that easily. Some false flag action somewhere at the border or the u.s. embassy will come. The howling of the Relotius media will be deafening. Maybe a Colombian or a Brazilian military is stupid enough to do what Tronald Dumb would rather avoid in consideration of his electorate.
bevin , Feb 14, 2019 4:48:38 PM | link
@21 The last thing that the Colombian military want is to get involved in a guerrilla war in Venezuela, it would very likely be their last.

And the same might be said of the Brazilian Army, like the Colombians its main function is to suppress domestic dissent.

On another angle: there is a Mark Curtis story about Venezuela's attempt to win a UNSC seat a few years back. And the UK Labour government's horrified reaction: https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/splash-venezuela-winning-un-security-council-seat-would-be-ghastly

The Hang Nail , Feb 14, 2019 4:49:11 PM | link
I'm not sure the plan was ever meant to be a success. Oh sure, Rubio would have loved it if the military stepped in and took over but he probably felt there was no real downside.

If in 6 months Maduro is still in power Guaido will be able to keep claiming Maduro is illegitimate.

He can run across the border to Colombia and in the next election claim it is fraudulent because he is not allowed to run. Meanwhile, sanctions will continue to do their magic and eventually the people will stop supporting Maduro, not because they want the opposition in charge, but because they want sanctions lifted.

At that point the military will be easily able to take over and launch elections that only allow US-backed candidates. No big deal for Trump. What does it cost him? We have plenty of oil for the time being. This kind of plan has few downsides (other than being extremely immoral).

Jen , Feb 14, 2019 5:09:06 PM | link
Kiza @ 19:

Far more likely that Brazil and Colombia refuse to commit any troops or other support for a US-led coalition to invade Venezuela. These countries have long borders going through thinly populated tropical forest or mountain areas with Venezuela.

They don't want the prospect of fighting continuous border wars with militias that would sap their own military strength and which could go deep into their own territories. Imagine how unpopular that would make their current governments with their publics.

It's likely that the Brazilian and Colombian governments don't command the loyalty of their armed forces (especially the foot soldiers who would have shoulder the burden of invasion) to the extent that the Venezuelan government under Maduro does of its own. Especially if money allocated to the armed forces in Brazil and Colombia has gone to a few favored individuals in the officer hierarchies while the grunts have seen no increased pay or support, or have even seen their pay levels dwindle as their responsibilities grow.

That's a possible scenario in Brazil given that since Dilma Rousseff's impeachment as President in 2016 it has been governed by corrupt neoliberal politicians.

karlof1 , Feb 14, 2019 5:20:55 PM | link
The Hang Nail @23--

The problem with your hypothesis is the Venezuelan People support the Bolivarian Revolution AND its constitution by over 80% as was shown in one of the first threads on this topic.

Thanks to the People's Media, TeleSur, the People are well informed of the economic war being waged against them, and they well know what abandoning the Revolution would mean--they just celebrated a holiday dedicated to a revolt against a previous Yankee-backed Dictator. Furthermore, the majority of the planet's people through their governments back Maduro.

Stonewalling the offered dialog by Maduro goes against the Opposition's interest, just as sitting out elections has every time. And if polls related to BigLie Media believability within the Outlaw US Empire can be used as a proxy indicator, then it isn't doing a good job manufacturing consent globally either.

South of the Border, majorities in every nation loathe the Gringo-Yankee Imperialist, so reactionary governments can only stay in power through force. Bevin notes Lima Group nations are already experiencing Blowback, and Haiti's already in revolt--again.

james , Feb 14, 2019 5:56:25 PM | link
@19 kiza..

thanks... those are good parallels between syria and venezuala that you draw and to which i agree with.. my thought on trump is basically - it doesn't matter who is in the presidents seat in the usa, as the president seems to have little to say on that matter..

they are compliant, or made to be compliant to agenda that seems to override every dream a normal american might have for some role of harmony on the world stage which always includes war, or some threat of war, with endless sanctions in prep for more of the same.. all to secure the us$ and yes - i think israel plays a pivotal role in all this as well.

i like @24 jen's overview on the response that is more likely from the new puppets surrounding venezuala..

@6 CE.. thanks also for that link!

jo6pac , Feb 14, 2019 6:02:37 PM | link
#6
Thanks for the link also.
spudski , Feb 14, 2019 6:05:39 PM | link
https://nationalpost.com/news/world/was-a-u-s-cargo-jet-smuggling-arms-to-rebels-in-venezuela-these-flight-patterns-sure-look-weird
Blooming Barricade , Feb 14, 2019 6:08:37 PM | link
@20 Yes, Christina Freeland formed the Lima Group with her Ukrianian fascism's ideological partners: Bolsonaro and his party alongside Columbia and to an extent Argentina. South America a haven for Nazis once more.
karlof1 , Feb 14, 2019 6:13:07 PM | link
OT--FYI--OT

Sorry but there are two items I deem important to share with barflies here instead of posting to the end of a dead open thread.

China's Policy Paper on EU from December 2018. In stark contrast with one nation and its vassals:

"China will stay committed to pursuing peaceful development, comprehensively deepening reform and breaking new grounds in opening-up on all fronts, and building a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind in order to create new opportunities for and make fresh contributions to world peace and development."

"Putin's Lasting State" or "Modern Russian Governance Explained," by Vladislav Surkov, Tr. Dimitry Orlov. Excerpt:

"And so the Russian state continues, now as a new type of state that has never existed here before. It took form mostly in the middle of the 2000s, and so far it has been little studied, but its uniqueness and its viability are now apparent.

The stress tests which it has passed and is now passing have shown that this specific, organically arrived at model of political functioning provides an effective means of survival and ascension of the Russian nation not just for the coming years, but for decades and, most likely, for the entire next century."

Both provide an amazing counterpoise to what we see the Outlaw US Empire doing. A very curious proposal from the last article:

"[T]the political system that has been made in Russia is fit to serve not just future domestic needs but obviously has significant export potential."

lgfocus , Feb 14, 2019 6:23:19 PM | link
Karlof1@25

The import of what you said is that the people of Venezuela are well informed. The people of the Evil Empire and its vassals are not. Thirteen weeks of revolt in France and a week in Haiti -- Evil Empire MSM -- crickets.

lgfocus , Feb 14, 2019 6:27:23 PM | link
One of my favorite quotes

"All states can be placed on a continuum which ranges from states whose authority is based on their power to states whose power is based on their authority." Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Christian Chuba , Feb 14, 2019 6:47:43 PM | link
The Rank and file vs the Generals in the military

My favorite talking point is how anyone who is interviewed in the U.S. insists that the 'rank and file' are with the new President and only a handful of the most corrupt, upper echelon Generals still support Maduro.

And I really love it when the Sock Puppets who do the interviews nod their heads as if this is some great new insight when they should respond, 'how the hell do you know, when were you in Venezuela?'

dh , Feb 14, 2019 6:55:02 PM | link
Richard Branson to the rescue. He is organizing "a wonderful line-up of international and regional artists" to get the humanitarian aid into Venezuela: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-14/branson-plans-live-aid-style-concert-on-venezuela-s-border
Jay , Feb 14, 2019 7:20:32 PM | link
And here's the former Spanish Prime Minister writing in the New York Times pretending that the coup he supports in Venezuela is "restoring democracy":

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/opinion/felipe-gonzalez-venezuelan.html

He tries to pull a fast one and pretend that Maduro wasn't elected.

Jen , Feb 14, 2019 7:29:21 PM | link
Kiza @ 33: Thanks for the compliment but I was really only guessing! Although it's not difficult to think that any increases in Brazil's military budget that Bolsonaro makes (and the country is on austerity spending and cutting back on social programs) are likely to go into buying foreign (ie US) armaments, enriching Bolsonaro's allies in the military and in Brazil's own armaments production, and not into better pay and conditions for soldiers.

One other thing also to consider is that in addition to conventional armed forces, Venezuela also has popular defense committees and militias among urban and rural communities who would be fighting any invasion forces. This is something we MoA barflies had not considered before as few of us live in countries where militia groups have been allowed to exist and even receive government support and money for arms and training. https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/13968

frances , Feb 14, 2019 7:30:17 PM | link
reply to Kiza 19

"We usually think of Israel only as a tormenter of the Palestinians. But Israel is much, much more - it is the Capo Di Tutti i Capi of the global crime. Tormenting Palestinians is only a hobby, a sport, but destroying countries to steal their wealth is the day job. US is a dumb bully, the blunt tool that the Israel Crime Syndicate uses for stealing on a global scale. This is my new perspective after Israel's involvement in the coup in Venezuela."

This is how I see Israel as well, one difference though; IMO the US is being used to bully yes, but it is also being destroyed and once dead Israel will move on to its next victim

karlof1 , Feb 14, 2019 7:39:18 PM | link
Jay @36--

That's the gist of the narrative, that "democracy's being restored" instead of usurped. Fortunately, that narrative is well past its sell date and its rot is all too plain for many to see. It only works on the blindly indoctrinated, which fortunately are no longer a majority within the Outlaw US Empire.

jrkrideau , Feb 14, 2019 7:45:13 PM | link
@ 35 dh

The thing is Venezuela does not need a concert, it needs the money the US has been stealing and, maybe the gold that the UK will not give back.

A few billion probably would help a lot. Venezuelan finances would still be shaky but heck even just a billion would help.

I wonder if Branson is doing this to deliberately blacken Madero's image?

dh , Feb 14, 2019 7:54:10 PM | link
@42 It would be interesting to know who got Branson involved. He probably sees Guaido as young and progressive. Maduro not so much. It shows which side of the fence Branson sits on.
Kiza , Feb 14, 2019 7:56:24 PM | link
@ Jen 37
Yes, you are absolutely right, the last line of defence of Venezuela is what is usually called the "territorial defence". I have never seen a territorial defence act effectively in a military situation, and I am guessing that this is because of poor leadership, poor armaments and amateurs against professionals. Having written all this, it is the remnants of the "defence popular" which would be the bedrock of the guerrilla resistance. Therefore, do not count on them stopping a professional military invasion, but do count on them increasing the cost of the Mission Accomplished to the "peace keepers", that is those who want to have peace just to enjoy their loot.

@ frances 38

Dear Frances, you raise this very interesting point about why a rider would flog his nag to death. I know that there are two opposite strategies in the biological world - parasites which maintain their host and parasites which kill their host. I simply do not understand the strategy of a parasite killing its host. This would be a sensible strategy only in a situation of plentiful replacement hosts, but both US and EU host are pretty warn out nags.

If the US nag croaks financially, EU will not be much of a replacement, whilst the potential of parasitising on Russia and China approaches zero. Therefore, I conclude that "strategy of flogging the nag to death" is not really a strategy, it is an urge. That is, it comes from a mix of chutzpah, psychopathy and pig manure in the nature of the parasite. After all, who puts up a sofa on top of a hill of a stolen land to watch the final extinction of the previous owner. Obviously, this goes far beyond just stealing the women and the cattle.

OSINT-suggests , Feb 14, 2019 7:59:25 PM | link
Exxon-Mobil drilling exploration analyses results scheduled announcements at South Eastern Mediterranean basin (location is situated a small birds flying distance south from Akrotiri British base in Cyprus which will be obviously harbor HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier/s designed from ground up for F-35 deployment) were accidentally cancelled a few days short before the Venezuela situation was grabbing the international headlines.

Day before yesterday unexpectedly the results were forwarded to the presses. It was being timed to synch with the Venezuela humanitarian 'crisis' show?

What's the hidden message here? No oil revenues for you Med folks to use for boosting social programmes political strategies?

frances , Feb 14, 2019 8:24:46 PM | link
reply to Kiza 44

" Therefore, I conclude that "strategy of flogging the nag to death" is not really a strategy, it is an urge. That is, it comes from a mix of chutzpah, psychopathy and pig manure in the nature of the parasite. After all, who puts up a sofa on top of a hill of a stolen land to watch the final extinction of the previous owner. Obviously, this goes far beyond just stealing the women and the cattle."

I agree, given the kill or be killed pathology of Israel's leadership combined with its death grip on the US govt, all I see is a US collapse.
Israel in its madness assumes that somehow out of all of this it will rule the ME so why would it have further need of its American dead horse?
To me, Israel has a Circe (Game of Thrones) mentality; lots of schemes, little to show for it other than the death of others, lots of others.

OSINT-suggests , Feb 14, 2019 8:29:47 PM | link
From R.B wiki-page:

"1981–1987: Package holiday industries and Virgin Atlantic Airways success

Branson's first successful entry into the airline industry was during a trip to Puerto Rico. His flight was cancelled, so he decided to charter his own plane the rest of the way and offer a ride to the rest of the stranded passengers for a small fee in order to cover the cost.[24]

In 1982, Virgin purchased the gay nightclub Heaven."

To me it suggests that the guy might have been involved in kompromat operations in some MI-sonething back at the day?

karlof1 , Feb 14, 2019 9:01:17 PM | link
Jon Schwartz :

"Abrams lied again" during his House testimony. Time to arrest and charge him again!

AntiSpin , Feb 14, 2019 9:50:24 PM | link
@ Jen | Feb 14, 2019 7:29:21 PM | 37

You're right – a war is all but inconceivable. Here are the numbers: The Venezuelan army numbers 500,000 members. In addition, there are the uniquely Venezuelan entities known as the national, regional and municipal-level militias numbering two million more citizens under arms.

Modern military theory posits that an invading force must number at least three times the numbers of the defensive force. The US military cannot muster even an equivalent number to those who would be waiting for them "behind every blade of grass."

Even a strictly air attack intended to wreak widespread destruction and leave nothing but chaos (a US specialty) would suffer significant casualties from the very sophisticated air defense systems in Venezuela.

Of course, no quantity of dead military would be of slightest concern to the oligarchs in the US and in Venezuela who would hope to make a killing from all the killing, but some substantial number of US politicians would worry about the effect on their constituencies, and the results in their vote counts next year.

A US military assault on Venezuela would be extremely stupid, and would wreak havoc on the political class in DC.

bevin , Feb 14, 2019 9:51:33 PM | link
The popular militias are not Venezuela's last line of defence, but the key to it. Venezuela is one of those are countries in which the government can distribute arms and munitions to the populace without fear that they will be used against it. And that is why so far the allure of invading Venezuela, on behalf of the US and rich people everywhere, is not sufficient to attract Colombia or Brazil.

As I have said before there is a real possibility that, by provoking the Venezuelan masses back into active defence of the Bolivarian system, the imperialists risk starting a war of poor against rich that would find eager partisans from Patagonia to Panama.

It would be instructive to consider the vast amounts of money and military that it took to bring FARC to the negotiating table. The reason why Colombia has been invited into NATO is that, for the past three decades NATO, in the form of US, UK and mercenaries, plus the narcotics industry's paramilitaries, plus Israel have been spending billions to suppress a guerrilla uprising in the jungle. And FARC fought entirely on its own, without regular assistance from any outside power.

What Venezuela must do, however, is to do as Cuba did and become self sufficient in foodstuffs. It has to break away from its dependency on commodity exports/imports. There is no reason why it cannot achieve this within months. But to do so it has to break from the bourgeoisie, who have broken decisively with it, and expropriate their 'property.'

Such an example would thrill millions across the continent and around the world, millions who would rally- as Britain's dockers did in 1919 when they refused to load ships supplying the anti-Bolshevik forces in Russia- to the support of the people of Venezuela fighting for the right to govern themselves.

michaelj72 , Feb 14, 2019 10:35:15 PM | link
I don't really believe the Regular Guy nor the opposition want 'elections'.... why should they? they have essentially lost nearly all of the 30 or more elections since 1998 and yet they keep howling about elections. They just can't accept it - that they only have 20-30% of the population with them.

They want power - and some/many of them are now willing to call on the USA to intervene and give them illegitimate power through a coup d'etat and/or military sabotage and subversion. they want a return of the totally pernicious and anti-democratic Oligarchy which rules for hundreds of years until Chavez kicked them out..... These guys are so arrogant that they are talking, among other nefarious things, about seizing/using funds in the bank accounts of the Venezuelan embassy in DC

really it's time for Maduro to do something a bit more sane and radical because these guys are out of control, or he'll lose - in other words, use the courts... but he keeps talking about "sooner or later" , well it looks to me like later is getting pretty late

Venezuela opposition takes steps to seize oil revenue as Maduro issues threat
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics/venezuela-opposition-takes-steps-to-seize-oil-revenue-as-maduro-issues-threat-idUSKCN1Q228J

psychohistorian , Feb 14, 2019 11:01:58 PM | link
Venezuela is a proxy battlefield for the Western way/NOT-Western way. I don't want to throw ism definitions at the sides when I believe it it all about the money....global private finance versus alternatives like China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela....I am missing ???

Anyway, I think this "existential" conflict is being forced now before the alternatives get more influence on the "slave" Western nations.

I don't like to think about the repressive environment that will exist in the remaining Western block of nations after this global "divorce".

In the coming "public discussion" about capitalism/socialism will the true power of those that own global private finance be exposed? I hope so but keep seeing identity politics, wars, etc. being played against the chances.

Pft , Feb 14, 2019 11:21:13 PM | link
Antispin@49

"A US military assault on Venezuela would be extremely stupid, and would wreak havoc on the political class in DC."

It would be stupid. Which is precisely why it wont happen, except as fake humanitarian intervention after Venezuela is divided and weakened from sanctions and starvation. It could happen earlier with a FF attack killing a large number of Americans blamed on Venezuela, but the US has been very cautious about putting troops in harms way since Vietnam. We engage against enemies we know cant hurt us much.

These guys are pretty smart. Many like to think otherwise, perhaps it makes them feel better. You can't judge their actions by Hollywood standards of winning and losing. Chaos and denial of resources to anyone opposed to the Empire is enough of a Win , at least temporarily. Its a long game they play, its been played for over a century now, even much longer.

The elites, referred to by Plato as Philosopher Kings , want to rule the world as living Gods, or at least their descendants. It's only over the last 150-250 years or so that control of science, finance, military, capitalism and democracy (manipulated via the printing press) gave them the means to realize their goals. It was a long road for them, operating through secret societies and monopoly control of money and government debt, and dealing with factions who were bound by morality (hence the war on religion) . In the battle between Good and Evil tbe good guys have been annihilated or at least silenced, at least in the West and most likely much of the East.

[Feb 15, 2019] False flag now is a real possibility and would be natural next step in color revolution scenario according to Gene Sharp textbooks

Notable quotes:
"... I have to agree with the false flag suggestions. anyone who saw abrams get reamed by omar yesterday saw the true face of delusional and unaccountable psychopathy at work. the closest he's ever come to paying for his war crimes was a brief period before a pardon and as such he's more entitled and fearless than the average deep state scumbag. add the typical zionist persecution complex ("pre-traumatic stress disorder") and a healthy dose of spite and it's clear this won't end until it has to. ..."
"... As for the western media, they'll screech no matter what happens. I "hate watch" the BBC's american coverage and it is even more painful than you'd think. They're fixated at an autistic level on "OMG TEH AID WTF!!!!111!!" and parade out rando "opposition" types who claim they're tortured martyrs while wearing make-up in a new york TV studio. ..."
"... I have to agree with the false flag suggestions. anyone who saw abrams get reamed by omar yesterday saw the true face of delusional and unaccountable psychopathy at work. the closest he's ever come to paying for his war crimes was a brief period before a pardon and as such he's more entitled and fearless than the average deep state scumbag. add the typical zionist persecution complex ("pre-traumatic stress disorder") and a healthy dose of spite and it's clear this won't end until it has to. ..."
"... As for the western media, they'll screech no matter what happens. I "hate watch" the BBC's american coverage and it is even more painful than you'd think. They're fixated at an autistic level on "OMG TEH AID WTF!!!!111!!" and parade out rando "opposition" types who claim they're tortured martyrs while wearing make-up in a new york TV studio. ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

The pair | Feb 14, 2019 7:45:04 PM | link

[Feb 15, 2019] Market shelves in the scruffy Colombian town of Puerto Santander are loaded with Venezuelan maize flour, rice, cheese spread and more, heavily subsidized consumer goods smuggled by government officials and ordinary citizens alike and sold at big mark-ups.

Feb 15, 2019 | www.unz.com

APilgrim , says: February 14, 2019 at 10:32 am GMT

Communists are unable to repeal the laws of: thermodynamics and/or supply & demand.

'Pocketing 1,000% Markup, Venezuelans Smuggle Out Precious Food', Oscar Medina, Matthew Bristow, Bloomberg, February 12 2019, 6:00 AM February 12 2019, 5:40 PM, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/smugglers-pocket-1-000-markup-120000549.html https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/pocketing-1-000-markup-venezuelans-smuggle-out-precious-food

Market shelves in the scruffy Colombian town of Puerto Santander are loaded with Venezuelan maize flour, rice, cheese spread and more, heavily subsidized consumer goods smuggled by government officials and ordinary citizens alike and sold at big mark-ups. Gasoline is ferried from Venezuela too, as people cash in on the arbitrage opportunities created by extreme price distortions. The spectacle of food being spirited out of a country where hunger is becoming epidemic shows in microcosm how Maduro's socialist government has created an economic and humanitarian disaster. While this black-market trade has been going on for years now, it's jarring to witness it at a time when much of the world has thrown its support behind efforts by Maduro's rival, Juan Guaido, to bring emergency supplies into the country. "It makes you angry to see these products for sale," said Lisbeth Cisneros, 28, a pregnant mother of four who fled the Venezuelan town of San Cristobal three months ago and works as a street vendor on the Colombian side of the border. "The situation is horrible over there."

APilgrim , says: February 14, 2019 at 10:34 am GMT
Can the Venzalon Black Marketers EXPORT the foreign aid relief shipments fast enough to continue STARVING the Venezuelan People?

Now the food is FREE, not just subsidized.

RVBlake , says: February 14, 2019 at 10:44 am GMT
@israel shamir I read the link The setting for this incident is British soldiers and colonists under siege at Fort Pitt by Indians allied with Pontiac. There is no evidence for any sustained program of attempting to infect Indians with smallpox in U.S. history. This charge is of a piece with the general use of the term "genocide" regarding American relations with the Indians. And it is equally fallacious.
Digital Samizdat , says: February 14, 2019 at 11:01 am GMT

In this struggle, President Trump is his own bitter enemy. He seeks approval of the War Party, and his own base will be disappointed by his actions.

Sad but true. Trump is over. Any Qanons out there still trying desperately to convince themselves that he's secretly fighting the deep state are just delusional specimens at this point. Don't get me wrong: I'm still glad Hillary's still not president. I'm just saddened that there'll be no MAGA but then, I guess that was always unlikely.

A bigger problem is that Venezuela had become a monoculture economy: it exports oil and imports everything else. It does not even produce food to feed its 35 million inhabitants. Venezuela is a victim of neoliberal doctrine claiming that you can buy what you can't produce. Now they can't buy and they do not produce. Imagine a democratic Saudi Arabia hit by blockade.

This point is worth emphasizing, since it's not a problem unique to Venezuela. In fact, the Globalist institutions (IMF, WorldBank, USAid, etc.) have worked tirelessly for decades now to increase third-world countries' dependence on import-export agriculture, rather than encouraging them to become more self-sufficient. Instead of extending them credit to grow food for the domestic market, for example, the WorldBank will only extend them credit to grow crops–usually dry crops like cotton–for export, forcing them to import much of the food they need. Meanwhile, Washington throws crazy subsidies at agri-giants like Monsanto (rather than 'small family farms') to encourage them to export more of their GMO garbage to these countries. Just ask the Mexicans what happened to their domestic corn-growing industry after NAFTA came into effect. Now, all those Mexicans who lost their farms are up in the US working as laborers for the very agri-businesses that put them out of business in the first place!

But hey: sactionable countries, broke farmers heading pa' norte to look for work, and constant instability throughout the third world–those are all features of the NWO, not bugs.

By the way, am I the only one who thinks Juan Guaidó looks sort of like a gay Obama?

Moi , says: February 14, 2019 at 12:25 pm GMT
@Svigor Is the genocide of Native Americans also a myth???
Johnny Smoggins , says: February 14, 2019 at 2:15 pm GMT
Unlike Asians and Arabs, Latin Americans don't have it in them to fight a war. Sure they can bluster, but like Africans, it's all just chest puffing noise.

When the U.S. decides to go in, they'll meet little resistance. The tragedy will be what comes later as when the U.S. exported democracy to Iraq, Syria and Libya. Rich Venezuelans will make out like bandits, the poor will be reduced to selling their daughters.

What surprises me is the silence of both the left and Hispanics. Trump is about to do a regime change in a Latin American socialist country and they have nothing to say about it.

therevolutionwas , says: February 14, 2019 at 2:42 pm GMT
@mike k Socialism is bad. The US government is a big bully that is self destructing. Not a lot of good news out there.
Jake , says: February 14, 2019 at 2:45 pm GMT
Israel Shamir should have better sense than to spread the 'diseased blankets' given by Americans to the Indians nonsense. Even the link fails to come close to proving a single case. First, the only known written suggestion that anyone had considered it is from Colonial days – those are officers of the British Empire. Second, the one case of a possible such transmission, and it perhaps an accident, also is from the Colonial era.

The most genocidally inclined Americans with power and authority who might have done such a thing, Union Generals Sherman and Sheridan, did not take advantage of their positions to do such an evil.

Anonymous [166] Disclaimer , says: February 14, 2019 at 3:14 pm GMT
The real decimation of the Native American population was caused by diseases brought by the Spanish to which they had no immunity. This occurred before widespread settlement on the Eastern seaboard.

Yes, there was one recorded incident of an army officer giving infected blankets to the Indians but that was not a widespread program in itself.

But we digress.

nietzsche1510 , says: February 14, 2019 at 4:53 pm GMT
Venezuela invasion thing is double-faceted: a trap for Trump & a bluff. if the invasion is, then bye-bye 2020 election, mission accomplished. if no invasion on sight then the bluff of Pompeo-Bolton-Abrams is called & the 2020 reelection assured. Venezuela in the role of bait.
bluedog , says: February 14, 2019 at 6:00 pm GMT
@Anonymous And of course the trail of tears by the Cherokees and later by the Navaho added to it, as hundreds if thousand didn't died from the lack of blankets and the lack of food, only to be used as forced labor living in holes in the ground young women selling them selves for a loaf of bread while they built a fort.The truth was we tried to kill off by any means as many as we could for the dead has no claim to the land.!!!.!!c
bluedog , says: February 14, 2019 at 6:05 pm GMT
@Jake Hmm I believe it was Sherman to said "kill the children for nits breed lice" and surly don't leave out Custer who the Indians call the 'eastern sun" for he always attacked as the sun came up attacking friendly villages as well as those not so friendly !!

[Feb 15, 2019] Starving Venezuela into Submission by Israel Shamir

Notable quotes:
"... First, you starve people; then you bring them humanitarian aid. This was proposed by John McNaughton at Pentagon: bomb locks and dams, by shallow-flooding the rice, cause widespread starvation (more than a million dead?) "And then we shall deliver humanitarian aid to the starving Vietnamese". Or, rather, "we could offer to do [that] at the conference table." Planning a million dead by starvation, in writing: if such a note would be found on the ruins of the Third Reich, it would seal the story of genocide, it would be quoted daily. But the story of the genocide of the Vietnamese is rarely mentioned nowadays. ..."
"... They did it in Syria, too. At first, they brought weapons for every Muslim extremist, then they blockaded Damascus, and then they sent some humanitarian aid, but only to the areas under rebel control. ..."
"... The Israelis practice it in Gaza. They block all export or import from the Strip, interdict fishing in the Mediterranean and drip-feed the captive Palestinians by 'humanitarian aid'. Jews, being Jews, make it one better: they made the EU to pay for the humanitarian aid to Gaza AND to buy the aid stuff from Israel. This made Gaza an important source of profit for the Jewish state. ..."
"... Timeo danaos et dona ferentes ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... Agence France-Press ..."
"... Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net ..."
Feb 14, 2019 | www.unz.com

You are so kind-hearted! I shed a tear thinking of American generosity. "So many delightful goodies: sacks of rice, canned tuna and protein-rich biscuits, corn flour, lentils and pasta, arrived at the border of troubled Venezuela – enough for one light meal each for five thousand people", – reported the news in a sublime reference to five thousand fed by Christ's fishes and loaves. True, Christ did not take over the bank accounts and did not seize the gold of those he fed. But 21st century Venezuela is a good deal more-prosperous than 1st century Galilee. Nowadays, you have to organise a blockade if you want people to be grateful for your humanitarian aid.

This is not a problem. The US-UK duo did it in Iraq, as marvellous Arundhati Roy wrote in April 2003 (in The Guardian of old, before it turned into an imperial tool): After Iraq was brought to its knees, its people starved, half a million of its children killed, its infrastructure severely damaged the blockade and war were followed by you guessed it! Humanitarian relief. At first, they blocked food supplies worth billions of dollars, and then they delivered 450 tonnes of humanitarian aid and celebrated their generosity for a few days of live TV broadcasts. Iraq had had enough money to buy all the food it needed, but it was blocked, and its people received only some peanuts.

And this was rather humane by American standards. In the 18th century, the British colonists in North America used more drastic methods while dispensing aid to disobedient natives. The Red Indians were expelled from their native places, and then they were provided humanitarian aid: whiskey and blankets. The blankets had been previously used by smallpox patients . The native population of North America was decimated by the ensuing epidemics from this and similar measures. Probably you haven't heard of this chapter of your history: the USA has many Holocaust museums but not a single memorial to the genocide near home. It is much more fun to discuss faults of Germans and Turks than of your own forefathers.

First, you starve people; then you bring them humanitarian aid. This was proposed by John McNaughton at Pentagon: bomb locks and dams, by shallow-flooding the rice, cause widespread starvation (more than a million dead?) "And then we shall deliver humanitarian aid to the starving Vietnamese". Or, rather, "we could offer to do [that] at the conference table." Planning a million dead by starvation, in writing: if such a note would be found on the ruins of the Third Reich, it would seal the story of genocide, it would be quoted daily. But the story of the genocide of the Vietnamese is rarely mentioned nowadays.

They did it in Syria, too. At first, they brought weapons for every Muslim extremist, then they blockaded Damascus, and then they sent some humanitarian aid, but only to the areas under rebel control.

This cruel but efficient method of breaking nations' spirit has been developed by lion tamers for years, perhaps for centuries. You have to starve the beast until it will take food from your hands and lick your fingers. 'Starvation-taming', they call it.

The Israelis practice it in Gaza. They block all export or import from the Strip, interdict fishing in the Mediterranean and drip-feed the captive Palestinians by 'humanitarian aid'. Jews, being Jews, make it one better: they made the EU to pay for the humanitarian aid to Gaza AND to buy the aid stuff from Israel. This made Gaza an important source of profit for the Jewish state.

So in Venezuela they follow an old script. The US and its London poodle seized over 20 billion dollars from Venezuela and from Venezuelan national companies. They stole over a billion in gold ingots Venezuela had trustingly deposited in the cellars of the Bank of England.

Well, they said they will give this money to a Venezuelan Random Dude, rather. To the guy who already promised to give the wealth of Venezuela to the US companies. And after this daylight robbery, they bring a few containers of humanitarian aid to the border and wait for the rush of bereft Venezuelans for food.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted : "The Venezuelan people desperately need humanitarian aid. The U.S. & other countries are trying to help, but Venezuela's military under Maduro's orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tankers. The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE."

Venezuelans aren't starving, even though they are going through difficulties. The biggest noise is made by the wealthy, as always. If Pompeo wants to help Venezuelans, he might lift the sanctions, return the funds, lift the blockade. The biscuits he wants to provide are of but little use.

President Maduro is right when he refuses to let this hypocrisy bribe the stomachs and hearts of his people. It is not just that he remembers his Virgil and knows, Timeo danaos et dona ferentes , "beware gift-bearing Greeks." There are too many American and Colombian soldiers around the pending delivery place, and this place is suspiciously close to an airport with an extra-long runway suitable for a an airlift.

The US is known for its propensity to invade its neighbours: Panama was invaded in 1989 to keep the Panama Canal in American hands and to roll back the agreement signed by the good-hearted President Jimmy Carter. President George Bush Sr sent his airborne troops in after calling Panama president "a dictator and cocaine smuggler". This is exactly what President Trump says about Venezuela's president.

They are likely to use this aid to invade and suborn Venezuela. Wisely, Maduro began large military exercises to prepare the army in case of invasion. The situation of Venezuela is dire enough even without invasion. Their money has been appropriated, their main oil company is as good as confiscated; and there is a strong fifth column waiting for Yankees in Caracas.

ORDER IT NOW

This fifth column consists mainly of compradors , well-off young folk with a smattering of Western education and upbringing, who see their future within the framework of the American Empire. They are ready to betray the unwashed masses and invite the US troops in. They are supported by the super-rich, by representatives of foreign companies, by Western secret services. Such people exist everywhere; they tried to organise the Gucci Revolution in Lebanon, the Green Revolution in Iran, the Maidan in the Ukraine. In Russia they had their chance in the winter of 2011/2012 when their Mink-Coat Revolution was played at Moscow's Bolotnaya Heath.

In Moscow they lost when their opponents, the Russia-First crowd, bettered them by fielding a much-bigger demo at Poklonnaya Hill. The Western news agencies tried to cover the defeat by broadcasting pictures of the Putin-supporters demo and saying it was the pro-Western Heath. Other Western agencies published pictures of 1991 rallies saying they were taken in 2012 on the Heath. In Moscow, nobody was fooled: the mink-coat crowd knew they were licked.

In the Ukraine, they won, for President Yanukovich, a hesitant and pusillanimous man of two minds, failed to gather massive support. It is a big question whether Maduro will be able to mobilise Venezuela-First masses. If he is, he will win the confrontation with the US as well.

Maduro is rather reticent; he hasn't disciplined unruly oligarchs; he does not control the media; he tries to play a social-democrat game in a country that is not Sweden by long shot. His subsidies have allowed ordinary people to escape dire poverty, but now they are used by black marketeers to siphon off the wealth of the nation. Far from being a disaster zone, Venezuela is a true Bonanza, a real Klondike: you can fill a tanker with petrol for pennies, smuggle it to neighbouring Colombia and sell it for market price. Many supporters of the Random Guy have made small fortunes this way, and they hope to make a large killing if and when the Americans come.

A bigger problem is that Venezuela had become a monoculture economy: it exports oil and imports everything else. It does not even produce food to feed its 35 million inhabitants. Venezuela is a victim of neoliberal doctrine claiming that you can buy what you can't produce. Now they can't buy and they do not produce. Imagine a democratic Saudi Arabia hit by blockade.

In order to save the economy, Maduro should drain the swamp, end the black market and profiteering, encourage agriculture, tax the rich, develop some industry for local consumption. It can be done. Venezuela is not a socialist state like orderly Cuba, nor a social-democratic one like Sweden and England in 1970s, but even its very modest model of allowing the masses to rise out of misery, poverty and ignorance seems too much for the West.

It is often said there are two antagonists in the West, the Populists and the Globalists, and President Trump is the Populist leader. The Venezuela crisis proved these two forces are united if there is a chance to attack and rob an outsider country. Trump is condemned at home when he calls his troops back from Afghanistan or Syria, but he gains support when he threatens Venezuela or North Korea. He can be sure he will be cheered on by Macron and Merkel and even by The Washington Post and The New York Times .

He has the real WMD, the Weapons of Mass Deception, to attack Venezuela, and these WMD had been activated with the beginning of the creeping coup. When a rather unknown young politician, the leader of a small neoliberal rabidly pro-American fraction in the Parliament, Random Dude, claimed the title of president, he was immediately recognised by Trump, and the Western media reported that the people of Venezuela went out in mass demos to greet the new president and demand Maduro's removal.

They beamed videos of huge Caracas demos back to Venezuela. Not many viewers abroad noticed that the video was old, filmed in 2016 demos, but the Venezuelans saw that at once. They weren't fooled. They knew that there is no chance for a big protest demo on that day, the day of a particularly important baseball game in the professional league between Leones of Caracas and Cardenales de Lara from Barquisimeto.

But the WMD kept lying. Here is a report by Moon of Alabama : the reports of large anti-government rallies are fake news or prophecies hoping to become self-fulfilling ones:

Agence France-Press stated at 11:10 utc yesterday that "tens of thousands" would join a rally.

AFP news agency @AFP -- 11:10 utc -- 2 Feb 2019

Tens of thousands of protesters are set to pour onto the streets of Venezuela's capital #Caracas Saturday to back opposition leader Juan Guaido's calls for early elections as international pressure increased on President #Maduro to step down http://u.afp.com/Jouu

They lie that there are army deserters spoiling for a fight with the army. The young guys CNN presented weren't deserters, and they didn't live in Venezuela. Even their military insignia were of the kind discarded years ago, as our friend The Saker noticed .

However, these lies won't avail -- my correspondents in Caracas report that there are demos for and against government (for Maduro slightly bigger crowds), but the feelings aren't strong. The crisis is manufactured in Washington, and the Venezuelans aren't keen to get involved.

That's why we can expect an American attempt to use force, preceded by some provocation. Probably it won't be a full-blown war: the US never fought an enemy that wasn't exhausted prior to the encounter. If the Maduro administration survives the blow, the crisis will take a low profile, until sanctions do their work and further undermine the economy.

ORDER IT NOW

In this struggle, President Trump is his own bitter enemy. He seeks approval of the War Party, and his own base will be disappointed by his actions. His sanctions will send more refugees to the US, wall or no wall. He undermines the unique status of the US dollar by weaponising it. In 2020, he will reap what he sow.

Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net


Cyrano , says: February 13, 2019 at 2:57 am GMT

I am pretty sure that there won't be any military intervention by US in Venezuela. How do I know this? Well, if it was any other nation, – for example a nation of people whose brains have been turned into mush by decades long propaganda – then I would be worried.

Luckily, US have one of the best informed populations on earth – they have all those bastions of truth like CNN, CBS, NYT and so on. That's why I am fairly certain that the US wouldn't dare to attack Venezuela. Their peace-loving nation wouldn't let them.

The only way it can happen is if in the next few weeks a group of Venezuelan terrorists hijacked few planes and flew them into some tall buildings in the US. That's the only way that the public opinion in the peace loving nation can be swayed towards war.

Remember, every time the US has gone to war, they had to stage various versions of 9/11 – in order to convince the well informed and peace loving Americans that someone hates their freedoms, so they have to go over there to fight for those freedoms, rather than wait over here for someone to bring the fight to them.

Cyrano , says: February 13, 2019 at 2:57 am GMT
I am pretty sure that there won't be any military intervention by US in Venezuela. How do I know this? Well, if it was any other nation, – for example a nation of people whose brains have been turned into mush by decades long propaganda – then I would be worried.

Luckily, US have one of the best informed populations on earth – they have all those bastions of truth like CNN, CBS, NYT and so on. That's why I am fairly certain that the US wouldn't dare to attack Venezuela. Their peace-loving nation wouldn't let them.

The only way it can happen is if in the next few weeks a group of Venezuelan terrorists hijacked few planes and flew them into some tall buildings in the US. That's the only way that the public opinion in the peace loving nation can be swayed towards war.

Remember, every time the US has gone to war, they had to stage various versions of 9/11 – in order to convince the well informed and peace loving Americans that someone hates their freedoms, so they have to go over there to fight for those freedoms, rather than wait over here for someone to bring the fight to them.

israel shamir , says: February 13, 2019 at 8:58 am GMT
@Verymuchalive According to numbers from Venezuela's Ministry of Agriculture, after relatively stagnant food production throughout the 1990s, from 2003 to 2011 milk production increased by 230 percent, beef production by 19 percent, chicken by 60 percent, rice by 25 percent, corn by 116 percent, and beans by 320 percent.

As can be seen, the claims among Chavez's critics of a decrease in food production are simply false. And while it is true that there have been food shortages, the real reason is quite different from what the media reports. An impressive increase in food production in recent years has simply been outpaced by growing consumption that has increased even more rapidly, creating supply problems in many basic items and the need to import increasing amounts of food. Though often cited as a major failure of the Chavez government, it is actually the result of millions of poor Venezuelans eating better and consuming more than ever before. As one Venezuelan recently said to an opposition activist who insisted that empty supermarket shelves were proof of the government's failures and demanded to know, "Then where is the milk?": "The milk," he replied, "is in the bellies of Venezuela's poor."
https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/7513

As for the USSR, only now the Russians are coming to the levels of modest affluence circa 1985, after the disaster of anti-communist rule in 1990s.
Russian Communism is a secularised Russian Orthodox Christianity. Likewise, American system is secularised Judaism.

renfro , says: February 14, 2019 at 6:25 am GMT
BRAVO OMAR ..2 nd time in my life I have seen balls in congress.

Venezuela Envoy Elliott Abrams Lose His Cool During Tense Exchange With Rep. Ilhan Omar

Watch the video at link

"Mr. Abrams, in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by president George H.W. Bush," began Omar. "I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful."

"If I could respond to that " interjected Abrams.

"It was not a question," shot back Omar.

After a brief exchange in which Abrams protested "It was not right!" Omar cut Abrams off, saying "Thank you for your participation."

February 13, 2019

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/51105.htm

Wally , says: February 14, 2019 at 8:09 pm GMT
@bluedog Please present you proof your 'forced labor living in holes in the ground, women selling themselves for bread'.
You cannot, or you would have.

We note your avoidance of the facts. Violent Stone Age 'Indians':
– kept slaves
– were in constant states of war with other tribes
– treated & traded women like cattle
– practiced genocide against other 'Indian' tribes
– used crude environmentally destructive slash & burn agricultural methods
– decimated the animal populations
– the first acts by them when they got horses from the Spaniards was to attack and decimate other tribes
– engaged in cannibalism
– roasted people alive
– routinely butchered children
– engaged in human sacrifice
– constant rapes
– took scalps from their enemies

https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~kw/crichton.html
"The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true. That anyone still believes it, 200 years after Rousseau, shows the tenacity of religious myths"

Willem , says: February 14, 2019 at 8:12 pm GMT
What the author refers to is called: 'winning hearts and minds' (wham)

John Pilger has an intersting article about wham, and how that worked in Vietnam

http://johnpilger.com/articles/mourn-on-the-fourth-of-july

Now featuring in Venezuela?

RVBlake , says: February 14, 2019 at 10:02 pm GMT
@bluedog I've read biographies of Custer and can only recall two villages attacked by him at the head of his regiment, the 7th U.S. Cavalry. In November 1868 he led an attack on the Cheyenne encampment on the Washita River, in Oklahoma. Reports differ on the casualties, but this was decidedly not a friendly village. The second is his celebrated and perhaps precipitous attack on the massive summer encampment of Lakota/Cheyenne/Arapaho on the Little Bighorn River.in June of 1876. They had refused President Grant's order to return to their reservations the previous January, and placed themselves subject to military action. He had been involved in other skirmishes with hostile Indians, in Kansas in 1867 and on the Yellowstone Expedition of 1873, but I'm unaware of any other attacks on villages.
APilgrim , says: February 14, 2019 at 10:41 pm GMT
@Wally Pock-faced smallpox survivors were immune.

Cowpox inoculations conferred immunity.

The English used biological warfare, as did the Romans.

Deal with it.

APilgrim , says: February 14, 2019 at 10:48 pm GMT
@bluedog The Cherokee committed treason in the War of 1812, by fighting for the British.

The Cherokee got their just desserts.

Whah!

APilgrim , says: February 14, 2019 at 10:58 pm GMT
@RVBlake Lt. Col. George Armstrong (Autie) Custer died by his own hand, when his mounted escape failed.

Not that I blame him for eating a bullet, in an active Indian massacre.

APilgrim , says: February 14, 2019 at 11:04 pm GMT
@Wally The 'civilized-tribes' of the Eastern Seaboard were the best of the lot.

The Pueblos were OK.

Most of the rest are as you described.

Verymuchalive , says: February 14, 2019 at 11:06 pm GMT
@Denis

I'm hardly a communist myself, but not everything can be blamed on communism. Venezuela is not a communist state by any stretch of the imagination, and Chavez and Maduro can hardly be compared to Lenin and Stalin, that's just a bit too much .

I didn't claim that Chavez and Maduro were Communists. Only that they had had a disastrous effect on Venezuelan agriculture as Lenin and Stalin had on Soviet agriculture – though of course Bolshevism was many degrees worse. I said elsewhere that Chavez used money from oil to import ever more food from abroad, rather than stimulate indigenous food production. I said that this was a very odd form of Socialism. In fact, it's not Socialism at all.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s – if, like me, you are old enough to remember – there were a number of pseudo-Communist 3rd World States, like North Yemen, Angola and Ethiopia. Beneath the very thin veneer, they were kleptocracies run to benefit those in power.
Venezuela is a similar pseudo-Socialist kleptocracy. Before he obtained power, Chavez presented himself as a Reformer, rather than a Socialist. Afterwards, he claimed he was " Bolivarian Socialist ".
Oil is a very capital intensive industry. If you fail to invest sufficiently, then production will tail off, particularly the heavy, sulphurous product Venezuela produces. Chavez took this money and used it to bribe the masses in welfare payments. Talk about being bribed by your own money ! As much money if not more was stolen by the kleptocracy for their own benefit – over $200bn or more if Forbes is to believed.
Oil production has gone down from 3.5bbp day before Chavez to 2.4bbp day on his death. It is now down to 1 bbp day. By the end of the year, it will be be 0.5bbp day or less, regardless of what America does.
I totally agree with you. The US should stay out of this conflict. Whether it wishes to embargo Venezuelan crude imports is up to the American government. Otherwise, keep out. Regardless, the Venezuelan Government would collapse within 18 months. Venezuela will need a great deal of aid, not only to reconstruct their country, but also to invest heavily in oil production. If the Us supplies this, let them have the oil. It will be the most expensive oil in the world

Gringo , says: February 15, 2019 at 1:57 am GMT
A bigger problem is that Venezuela had become a monoculture economy: it exports oil and imports everything else. It does not even produce food to feed its 35 million inhabitants. Venezuela is a victim of neoliberal doctrine claiming that you can buy what you can't produce.

Under two decades of Chavismo, Venezuela became much more a monoculture economy than it used to be. Oil exports as a percentage of Venezuelan exports increased from 71.7% in 1998, the year Chávez was elected, to 97.8% by 2013. Which implies that Chávez was following, to quote your words, a "neoliberal doctrine claiming that you can buy what you can't produce."

Yet you say this about the current Chavismo opponent.

When a rather unknown young politician, the leader of a small neoliberal rabidly pro-American fraction in the Parliament, Random Dude, claimed the title of president,

You inform us the leader of the opposition is "neoliberal," which implies that Maduro and Chavismo are NOT neoliberal, in fact are far from being neoliberal. Yet you also inform us that Chavismo, in its two decades in power followed "neoliberal doctrine claiming that you can buy what you can't produce."

You are not making sense.

Fuel exports (% of merchandise exports)
1998 71.7%
2013 97.8%

https://data.worldbank.org/country/venezuela-rb?view=chart

Gringo , says: February 15, 2019 at 2:02 am GMT
Venezuelans aren't starving, even though they are going through difficulties.

Venezuelans report big weight losses in 2017 as hunger hits (Feb 21,2018)

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelans reported losing on average 11 kilograms (24 lbs) in body weight last year and almost 90 percent now live in poverty, according to a new university study on the impact of a devastating economic crisis and food shortages.
Over 60 percent of Venezuelans surveyed said that during the previous three months they had woken up hungry because they did not have enough money to buy food. About a quarter of the population was eating two or less meals a day, the study showed.

Last year, the three universities found that Venezuelans said they had lost an average of 8 kilograms during 2016. This time, the study's dozen investigators surveyed 6,168 Venezuelans between the ages of 20 and 65 across the country of 30 million people.

Most people would term "difficulties" a euphemism for that.

Gringo , says: February 15, 2019 at 2:40 am GMT
@israel shamir As can be seen, the claims among Chavez's critics of a decrease in food production are simply false.

FAO Stats tell us otherwise. You could find no data beyond 2011? Probably because your information source, the Venezuelan Ministry of Agriculture didn't want to release embarrassing data.

Chávez was elected in 2016. FAO Stats inform us that from 1998 to 2016,
Venezuela's net per capita Crops (PIN) production has fallen 35.7%.
Venezuela's net per capita Cereals, Total production (here corn and rice) has fallen 46.9%.

Cereals production fell a further 17% in 2017. From 2014-2017, Cereals production in Venezuela fell 59%.

Cereals, total production, metric tons
2014 3,597,762
2015 2,294,532
2016 1,782,326
2017 1,475,140

"Claims among Chavez's critics of a decrease in food production are simply false ?" As they say in Venezuela, "Dime otro de vaqueros." Tell me another cowboy story. Tell me another fish tale.

FAO Stats: Production Indices
Net per capita Production Index Number (2004-2006 = 100)
Cereals,Total
Crops (PIN)

http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#country/236 Cereals production 2014-2017

[Feb 13, 2019] The recent pool in which 57% of population supported Maduro reflects the Venezuelan people's polarization. The Chavistas always had circa 60% and the right-wing circa 40%

Notable quotes:
"... The book Giants: The Global Power Elite by Peter Philips provides extensive detail on how imperial capital issues its instructions to the institutions it controls. ..."
"... I am very suspicious of the 32% figure. I don't trust it. A poll conducted a few weeks ago has shown just 20% of Venezuelans knew who Guaidó was. How can it be that 32% now consider him the legitimate President? ..."
"... I can certainly picture Trump pulling out all of the stops to overthrow the Venezuelan government the closer it gets to the US elections. I could even see Trump encouraging Colombia and Brazil to invade Venezuelan, but we'll have to wait see. ..."
"... Polls have had a long history of being used to bend the public narrative, slide the Overton window and otherwise obfuscate the core issue(s)......because money pays for them ..."
"... It is so weird to see this unfolding. Nobody even seems to be asking why Guaido didn't just run for president -- he wasn't barred. ..."
"... the moment the Venezuelan right-wing realized the USA chose Guaidó, they quickly begun to "support" him. Of course, this is all a farce: they know Guaidó is merely a code word for American military intervention and regime change. This is textbook color revolution. ..."
Feb 13, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Feb 11, 2019 2:46:28 PM | link

This poll basically reflects the Venezuelan people's polarization. The Chavistas always had circa 60% and the right-wing circa 40%.

What this poll shows, though, is that the people knows how to play politics: those 32% who answered Guaidó is the "legitimate president" know he's not, but they say he is either way; they're sending a message to the USA: "please, bomb our country and exterminate the Chavistas, and we'll serve you as a Puppet State".

Patricia E Schild , Feb 11, 2019 3:17:11 PM | link

I can't wrap my brain around Venezuela "wanting" the USA to intervene in their sovereign affairs... When Chavez took power the rich were scattering like cockroaches....Now, they're seeking their revenge and trying to get back into power. After the results we've seen from western intervention in the Middle East, I hope very strongly that the USA fails in Veneuela. The true people of Venezuela deserve so much better. #Istandwiththepeopleofvenezuela
worldblee , Feb 11, 2019 3:20:45 PM | link
I'm surprised that even out of the right wing/bourgeois constituency of Venezuela, 32% would say the Guaido is the legitimate President. However, I guess that means the "opposition" are at least temporarily united behind Random Guy, for now. (Of course, constitutionally, even if Maduro did step down the Vice President, Delcy Rodriguez, would be the next Constitutional President.)
Yeah, Right , Feb 11, 2019 4:09:34 PM | link
@9 AriusArmenian No, don't arrest him. Not yet. According to the Venezuelan constitution an "interim President" can only be in that position for 30 days, no more, no less.

Let him run around making a fool of himself for 30 days, then tap him on the shoulder and say "times up buddy, you haven't even called for an election. What was the point of all this?"

This about it this way: whatever thin veneer of "legitimacy" he has claimed for himself disappears after a month, so there is no need to rush this. After all, it isn't as if Guaido is building up any momentum. Quite the opposite, by the look of things.

Dennis18 , Feb 11, 2019 4:12:07 PM | link
Over at the Saker, two articles about Venezuela
  • The Straw that Breaks the Empire's Back? By Peter Koenig
  • Eric Zuess What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela -- A Case of News-Suppression.

I have read the first and its good ..

Lozion , Feb 11, 2019 4:16:37 PM | link
@9 Good question. I think Maduro is being smart by ignoring Random Dude's pleas. Arresting him might create a martyr for their cause and serve as a pretext for more US ingerence. The longer he talks the more he shows the workd the shallowness and ineffectiveness of the coup attempt..
Jen , Feb 11, 2019 4:18:50 PM | link
Worldblee @ 8:

Hinterlaces' poll that B cites above does not say where the polling was done or how it was done. For all we know, the "direct interviewing" - one assumes this is face-to-face polling, not polling by phoning people selected randomly from city phone-books or electoral rolls - could have been done in neighbourhoods where the interviewers felt most comfortable and these neighbourhoods may be less supportive of the government on average.

Areas where the people are most in favour of the government are likely to be areas deemed unsafe to travel on foot because there is a perception that these neighbourhoods are violent and dominated by drug and other gangs.

I got some information about Hinterlaces itself using Google Translate and this is what the agency says about itself:

Hinterlaces is the first Venezuelan Intelligence Agency, specializing in public opinion and market research services, situational analysis and strategic consulting, with emphasis on the scientific interpretation of the cultural and symbolic dimension of society.

Our mission

Hinterlaces provides intelligence for strategic decision making. Through studies of public opinion and markets, Hinterlaces is dedicated to producing knowledge, making situational and environmental analyzes, providing strategic lines to build, enrich, renew and / or surpass the social, political, business and commercial performance of our clients.
http://hinterlaces.com/quienes-somos/

This is a polling agency whose agenda might incline towards favouring the private commercial sector. So take heart that even with in-built bias, the poll Hinterlaces conducted still showed that a majority of Venezuelans support the Maduro government.

ben , Feb 11, 2019 4:37:35 PM | link
Gee, imagine if the U$A actually lived up to the rhetoric it spews daily about it caring for democracy and freedom. Then I woke up. The millions of lives ruined, and the innocents we kill daily, all for the sake of greed and avarice of a few wealthy elites, is mind numbing.

Venezuela is just the latest target in the empire's lust for global domination...

Babyl-on , Feb 11, 2019 5:01:35 PM | link
I ask you to step back for a moment and take a look at the whole world. The US is at war in one form or another with the entire world, 7 or 8 countries in the Middle East in its effort to gain control of central Eurasia just a Brzezinski dreamed, threatening Iran for its access to the Caspian Sea and more. The US has troops and is actually fighting and killing in 52 of 54 African countries. The US has built numerous new military bases all around Latin America and is threatening Venezuela. It is doing everything it can to contain China with military maneuvers in the South China Sea and trade, and of course Russia nothing needs to be said.

It is the US led western empire against the rest of the world. The Empire apparently believes it is all or nothing time.

The US led Empire is not the US, the US government is the home of the imperial institutions, it is Imperial HQ.

The actual "king" and ruler of the Western world is its core block of capital which acts as one force it is today 50 trillion dollars which is managed by 17 management funds - and guess what - they all invest in each other.

The book Giants: The Global Power Elite by Peter Philips provides extensive detail on how imperial capital issues its instructions to the institutions it controls.

Yonatan , Feb 11, 2019 5:07:30 PM | link
The Venezulean military have been running massive exercises (scheduled 11-15 February) - showing their willingness to fight for Venezuela under Maduro. Their actual combat abilities are unknown but motivation goes a long way.

Photo essay at: https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/4769272.html

Grieved , Feb 11, 2019 5:08:11 PM | link
@13 Jen

That was my thought too, that the percentage for Guaido was so high it must have been an attempt to get a majority, which failed. If the poll had asked whether the US should be sponsoring an unelected president, I'm sure the number would be 80% saying "no".

@9 AriusArmenian

Regarding whether Guaido should be arrested - he can't be. As the speaker of the National Assembly, he's immune from prosecution except as the Venezuelan supreme court rules. The government applied to the Court, which ruled to prohibit Guaido from leaving the country, and to freeze his assets. Beyond this, we have not yet heard any more.

Everything is being played by the Maduro government to the letter of the law - which is the great tactical weakness in the US play here, and the place to strike back.

Ger , Feb 11, 2019 5:17:36 PM | link
It is the oil ..... the 'bananas' of United Fruit Company when a neighbor country was over run by Americans. WTF, I've been brainwashed by them little Russian puppies on social media, we (US) don't interfere in other countries.
Adrian E. , Feb 11, 2019 5:32:45 PM | link
I think it is better to wait. Of course, the interpretation that the Venezuelan presidency is vacant and that in that special case, the president of the National Assembly rather than the vice president takes over is odd. It presupposes quite a number of things that defy reality (there is an elected president) and certainly should not be claimed by anyone outside Venezuela (for that view, all Venezuelan institutions except the National Assembly and in particular the Supreme Court would have to be regarded as illegitimate, not just the president).

But even if that interpretation is odd, it is still a fiction that is probably quite important for some European governments that now support an attempted (and so far failed) coup against the democratically elected president of Venezuela.

What will happen after 30 days when the „interim presidency" of Guaido is over? If he still claims to be president after the 30 days are over, he is an illegitimate usurper even according to the strange fiction many governments cling to in order to pretend they support the constitution of Venezuela when in fact they support a would-be coup leader (or rather the puppet of one). Will these governments then say that they don't care about the constitution of Venezuela, after all, and still support Guaido after he has even lost any semblance of legitimacy? Will Guaido call for new elections or even „conduct" them, which he certainly can't?

Then, I think it is also relevant that (unless I am mistaken), the next regular date for elections for the National Assembly is already 2020. Perhaps these uncooperative opposition parties should rather think about how they are going to campaign - after all, it seems likely that they will lose (more moderate opposition parties that are not involved in the current coup attempt might have better chances). The playbook for the coup attempt has probably been written in Washington, but the fear of the parties that currently dominate the National Assembly that they will lose the 2020 elections is probably a motivating factor, they want to escalate the situation beforehand in the hope that the 2020 elections either will not take place or under undemocratic circumstances after a coup or foreign invasion that are favorable to them.

The elections in Venezuela have all generally used the same system. The pro-US forces have won just once, while in most elections the Chavists won. These pro-US forces that support sanctions against their own country and even don't exclude supporting a foreign invasion of their country have won just one election, and they claim that all elections they lost or in which they voluntarily did not participate are illegitimate. Probably, they don't have much hopes of winning the 2020 elections after their despicable behavior since the last elections, so they want to come to power by force and with foreign support rather than by democratic means.

Ella , Feb 11, 2019 5:50:15 PM | link
American propaganda is working it seems. "32% said Juan Guaidó." That's terrible! Very depressing.
Curtis , Feb 11, 2019 5:56:30 PM | link
Our political parties and media have as much contempt for the democratic process and people choosing their leaders as the Rhodes/Milner group. They didn't respect the Syrian elections of 2012 or 2014 even with multiple parties participating and monitors present.
Peter AU 1 , Feb 11, 2019 6:02:34 PM | link
The evidence of Maduro's popularity in Venezuela comes through plain as day in the MSM. This newest coalition of the killing to take down the Syrian government is calling for new elections in which Maduro does not participate. There can be no other reason for this other than the coalition of the killing know that Maduro will win any free and fair election.
Same applied to Assad.
karlof1 , Feb 11, 2019 6:25:47 PM | link
32% is roughly the % that voted for opposition presidential candidates. I'd like to see a polling company ask if the Outlaw US Empire has any right to interfere with Venezuela whatsoever; and if yes, then how so.

S , Feb 11, 2019 6:41:22 PM | link

I am very suspicious of the 32% figure. I don't trust it. A poll conducted a few weeks ago has shown just 20% of Venezuelans knew who Guaidó was. How can it be that 32% now consider him the legitimate President? Perhaps the poll asked whom they supported/sympathized with/wanted as President, not who was the legitimate one?
Augustin L , Feb 11, 2019 8:02:03 PM | link
Keep in mind that 75% of Venezuela's radio and TV stations are in private hands and property of oligarchs bent on sabotaging the bolivarian revolution. Under 5% of media in Venezuela are state-owned...

So even though western proxies and compradors elites holding iron clad propaganda monopoly, they can barely muster a third of venezuelans to support their reactionary program of social regression.

We're witnessing Hugo Chavez's failure to neutralize the brutal European oligarchy that ran Venezuela as a latifundia for centuries.

One thing is certain 60% of slaves are now refusing to go back to pre-Bolivarian years. Without kinetic action, the compradors aligned with the West have no chance to pull off a successful change of regime.

Kadath , Feb 11, 2019 8:45:59 PM | link
The longer this Guaidó (i'm sorry I mean Gweedo) farce goes on the stronger the Maduro government's position becomes (although not necessary Maduro's position itself). given that the US has been working to overthrow the Venezuelan government since at least 2003 and have now crossed the Rubicon by declaring "Gweedo" president (there's no way to take that back and return to recognizing Maduro).

I imagine that the Maduro government's plan is to ride out this crisis till the next election cycle (I think in 2023/2024) and have Maduro step down in favour of his hand-picked successor, this would then give the US a face-saving option of recognizing Maduro's successor as the new President, without the humiliation of having to go back to recognizing Maduro.

The problem however is the 2020 election cycle in the US. For the last 30 years, US presidents have developed a (another) terrible tradition when going into reelection (the US also never seems to end a war once it starts one, which is why the US is now current fighting at least 7 undeclared wars, plus dozens of military operations in various countries). Trump is desperate for a "Win" going into the 2020 cycle and right now that column is pretty thread-bare in terms of achievements for the average American worker (the economy is doing well, but more and more people are concerned that the US is heading towards a recession in 2019, so that may not hold until the 2020). although Trump launching a full-scale invasion seems unlikely, I can certainly picture Trump pulling out all of the stops to overthrow the Venezuelan government the closer it gets to the US elections. I could even see Trump encouraging Colombia and Brazil to invade Venezuelan, but we'll have to wait see.

psychohistorian , Feb 11, 2019 8:50:55 PM | link
I don't trust the numbers. Does anyone have the specific questions that were asked? Who owns this "independent" polling company? I didn't read who paid for the poll? I keep think that the US is being set up to fail big time so that default on the US debt seems "reasonable" given the circumstances. That is when the deals will be made to set the next stage of ??? humanity....though it might be a bit rocky for a while...
Jen , Feb 11, 2019 10:38:34 PM | link
Psychohistorian @ 36 (and anyone else who is interested): Oscar Schemel is the director of the Hinterlaces polling agency which carried out the survey. He was elected to the National Constituent Assembly (the legitimate legislative body of the government) in 2017, representing the business sector. https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Schemel (You'll need Google Translate.)

The questions asked are now available in English at Grayzone Project: https://grayzoneproject.com/2019/01/29/venezuelans-oppose-intervention-us-sanctions-poll/

psychohistorian , Feb 11, 2019 11:10:06 PM | link
@ Jen with the links....thanks

The results from the Grayzone article do not comport with what is reported here by b and so maybe is another study but seems to be the same number of participants.....but then says was done before Guaido became a thing. Still don't know specific questions for reported results nor who funded it.

Polls have had a long history of being used to bend the public narrative, slide the Overton window and otherwise obfuscate the core issue(s)......because money pays for them

S , Feb 11, 2019 11:11:02 PM | link
@Jen: Okay, so, according to The Grayzone translation of Schemel's presentation, only 17% support U.S. sanctions applied against Venezuela to remove Maduro, only 20% support international intervention to remove Maduro, only 12% support international military intervention to remove Maduro, and only 15% don't want any dialogue between government and opposition to resolve economic problems in the country.

How does that fit in with 32% supposedly recognizing Guaidó as "legitimate President"? This can't be. Something is fishy with the 32% figure.

S , Feb 12, 2019 12:02:33 AM | link
b cites a news piece by Globovisión , a private Venezuelan media company. I can't see any polls on Hinterlaces website having a 57% / 32% / 11% result. In fact, the company seems to have stopped operating: the latest news is from 5 September 2017, the latest tweet is from 3 September 2017, and the latest YouTube video is from 25 November 2017. One of the last polls published on the website, specifically, a poll from 13 August 2017 says the following ( machine translation ):
86% "DISAGREE" WITH MILITARY INTERVENTION AGAINST VENEZUELA

Monitor País reveals that 66% of Venezuelans would prefer Maduro to take effective measures and solve Venezuela's economic problems.

71% are "in disagreement" with the United States applying economic and financial sanctions against Venezuela to remove President Nicolás Maduro from power, while 24% "agree", reveals Monitor País de Hinterlaces about what Venezuelans think of an eventual international intervention and the "exit" of Maduro from the presidency.

The study carried out between July 22 and August 9, conducted through 1,580 telephone interviews, details that 67% of Venezuelans believe that the presidential elections of 2018 should be expected , while 32% demand the "exit" of the Mature.

With a level of confidence of 95% and a maximum admissible error of +/- 2.5% for the figures obtained, the research maintains that 66% of Venezuelans would prefer the Maduro government to take effective measures and solve the economic problems of the country, while 30% would prefer an opposition government to come.

Opinion on intervention

86% of Venezuelans are "in disagreement" with an international military intervention in Venezuela to get Maduro out of power, while 13% are "in agreement",

76% of Venezuelans are "in disagreement" that there is an international intervention in Venezuela to remove President Maduro from power, while 22% are "in agreement".

59% believe that the US government is promoting a foreign intervention in Venezuela to get President Maduro out of power, while 31% consider "no".

How do we know the company still exists? And if it does, how do we know Globovisión is citing it properly and not just inventing some random numbers?

lgfocus , Feb 12, 2019 12:23:46 AM | link
@ ben #38
There is one Democratic candidate that is in the race specifically to fight the Empires forever wars. Tulsi Gabbard. And she is being smeared badly by the MSM. But getting a lot of support from the non-MSM, even from many on the other side of the spectrum.
S , Feb 12, 2019 12:26:38 AM | link
Pro-coup Twitter accounts actually accuse Hinterlaces of working for "the regime" (skim through this thread ), while, in my opinion, its numbers (if true) are skewed in favor of Guaidó. Anyway, this whole discussion is pointless: anybody can claim anything, as the company seems to have stopped operating a year and a half ago.
Hoarsewhisperer , Feb 12, 2019 1:51:15 AM | link
Apart from reinforcing the case that Maduro's Presidency has the support of a simple majority of voters, this poll is virtually meaningless and irrelevant. The only way to make it relevant would be to insist that each of the Nazified, Christian Colonial countries which oppose Maduro conduct a similar poll of the voters in their own country.
i.e. Compare the popularity of the President/PM of the country with popularity of current Opposition contenders for the Leadership role.

Would Trump, Micron, Mrs May or Scum Mo score anything like 57%? No effing way, imo.

To keep everything neat and tidy it would be helpful, and conducive to much mirth and merriment, to conduct the same poll in the countries whose leaders have recognised and endorsed Maduro's legitimacy.

anonymous , Feb 12, 2019 1:52:16 AM | link
It is so weird to see this unfolding. Nobody even seems to be asking why Guaido didn't just run for president -- he wasn't barred. There was lots of criticism of Maduro in the papers, so the press had the freedom to get behind one or another candidate. There was other opposition that ran.

Why did some of the opposition boycott the elections? Who was the opposition that was barred from running by the supreme court, where they wildly popular? Why didn't they declare themselves president with popular support, rather than this newbie? Why did the opposition ask UN observers to stay away? It is so blatant that there are narratives being sold.

Ma Laoshi , Feb 12, 2019 2:29:47 AM | link
I don't see this poll as good news for the Maduro govt at all; looking at other people's comments, I don't seem to be the only one.

A short month ago, Guaido was a nobody, while Maduro was the unquestioned, even though not universally liked of course, president.

Once Uncle Sam went to work on the issue, some clown who basically just started calling himself president seems to have over 1/3 behind him, while Maduro is only slightly above 50%.

Washington probably feels it's successful in moving the needle, and will go all out trying to move it further.

Peter AU 1 , Feb 12, 2019 2:49:43 AM | link
Ma Laoshi

Take a look at the picture in this article and read the caption. The picture itself speaks a thousand words as to the numbers backing random guy. Looks to be taken in a dark garage or something with a few reasonably photogenic faces arranged around pretty boy like a vase of flowers. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics/venezuela-opposition-rallies-to-tell-maduro-let-aid-in-idUSKCN1Q10DU

john , Feb 12, 2019 5:12:48 AM | link
karlof1 @ 30 says: She[AOC] seems to suddenly have become a coward whereas she was fearlessly relentless during her campaign

being groomed ? softened up?

Jen , Feb 12, 2019 5:16:18 AM | link
Psychohistorian @ 40:

B quotes Globovision's report that the Hinterlaces poll was carried out some time between 21 January and 2 February 2019. Grayzone Project refers to a poll carried out in early January 2019 before 23 January 2019 when Guaidó made his announcement. So there is a possibility that these are two separate questionnaires conducted at different times - but maybe with the same sample (too small, in my opinion, for the issue the surveys address).

Please also refer to my comment @ 13 about my misgivings about the validity of the poll. We do not know how the sample was selected, how the interviews were done (although since I posted the comment, I found some other online sources suggesting they were telephone interviews) and whether the interview design had inbuilt biases reflecting Hinterlaces' own agenda. The website offers no explanation and appears to have been neglected since 2017.

vk , Feb 12, 2019 5:40:44 AM | link
@ Posted by: Ma Laoshi | Feb 12, 2019 2:29:47 AM | 48

Well, news travel fast nowadays: the moment the Venezuelan right-wing realized the USA chose Guaidó, they quickly begun to "support" him. Of course, this is all a farce: they know Guaidó is merely a code word for American military intervention and regime change. This is textbook color revolution.

Zanon , Feb 12, 2019 6:41:57 AM | link
Over 30% for Guaido is worrying enough, it shows his popularity or rather, the antidemocratic forces within Venezuela.
Zanon , Feb 12, 2019 6:46:12 AM | link
Jen

Of course its not photoshopped. You could see the event here: https://youtu.be/566vQUH992I?t=5083

[Feb 13, 2019] US media ignore -- and applaud -- economic war on Venezuela by Gregory Shupak

Notable quotes:
"... Originally published: FAIR by Gregory Shupak (February 6, 2019) ..."
"... In contact with the popular communities, we consider that one of the fundamental causes of the economic crisis in the country is the effect [of] the unilateral coercive sanctions that are applied in the economy, especially by the government of the United States. ..."
"... While internal errors also contributed to the nation's problems, Russian said it's likely that few countries in the world have ever suffered an "economic siege" like the one Venezuelans are living under. ..."
Feb 08, 2019 | www.defenddemocracy.press

Originally published: FAIR by Gregory Shupak (February 6, 2019)

The U.S. media chorus supporting a U.S. overthrow of the Venezuelan government has for years pointed to the country's economic crisis as a justification for regime change, while whitewashing the ways in which the U.S. has strangled the Venezuelan economy ( FAIR.org , 3/22/18 ).

Sister Eugenia Russian, president of Fundalatin , a Venezuelan human rights NGO that was established in 1978 and has special consultative status at the UN, told the Independent ( 1/26/19 ):

In contact with the popular communities, we consider that one of the fundamental causes of the economic crisis in the country is the effect [of] the unilateral coercive sanctions that are applied in the economy, especially by the government of the United States.

While internal errors also contributed to the nation's problems, Russian said it's likely that few countries in the world have ever suffered an "economic siege" like the one Venezuelans are living under.

While the New York Times and the Washington Post have lately professed profound (and definitely 100 percent sincere) concern for the welfare of Venezuelans, neither publication has ever referred to Fundalatin.

Alfred de Zayas, the first UN special rapporteur to visit Venezuela in 21 years, told the Independent ( 1/26/19 ) that U.S., Canadian and European Union "economic warfare" has killed Venezuelans, noting that the sanctions fall most heavily on the poorest people and demonstrably cause death through food and medicine shortages, lead to violations of human rights and are aimed at coercing economic change in a "sister democracy."

Read more at

https://mronline.org/2019/02/08/u-s-media-ignore-and-applaud-economic-war-on-venezuela

Read also

"From Memory to Power" March in Chile on the Anniversary of the Military Coup

[Feb 13, 2019] Legitimacy of Maduro vs legitimacy of the USA actions

Looks like classic Trump style bulling of the nation that can't respond with something similar. Gun boat imperialism in a new form.
Feb 13, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Mike Perry , February 12, 2019 at 12:38 pm

It's a great article. I want to thank CN, because I feel that Steve's conclusions and his predictions are excellent.

But like anyone, I always hate to show my ignorance's, and do I have to admit that I need some help. In this case my ignorance has to do with the word sanction.

For instance ( to name just a few ):
1- In order for the U.S. to legally implement sanctions, it declared "..a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States". What, and where was this evidence provided, and was it conducted under fair hearings with both sides represented?
2 – How does a State seize the property of another State when no trial has been conducted?
3 – Isn't this punishing victims (34 million in this case) who have committed no crime?
4 – Did countries like England, France, Germany, etc., provide any proof of "emergency", in order to wholesale deny it's own citizens the right to free markets (.. let alone, Venezuelans)?
5 – Since, sanctions only have significant (wmd) impact when they are implemented by empires, does a collective body like the U.N., (that I assume) is suppose to represent every country, want to touch sanctions with a forty foot pole?
6 – What about that "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement" with Israel?

I could go on & on with many more questions.. But, I know that most here can dissect this word "sanction" much better than I. .. And, I wish you would.

This is from 2014:
http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2377482&CategoryId=10717
"President Obama today issued a new Executive Order (E.O.) declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela. The targeted sanctions in the E.O. implement the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, which the President signed on December 18, 2014, and also go beyond the requirements of this legislation.
..
"We are committed to advancing respect for human rights, safeguarding democratic institutions, and protecting the U.S. financial system from the illicit financial flows from public corruption in Venezuela," the White House said.
..
We are deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government's efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents. Venezuela's problems cannot be solved by criminalizing dissent. We have consistently called on the Venezuelan government to release those it has unjustly jailed as well as to improve the climate of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. These are essential to a functioning democracy, and the Venezuelan government has an obligation to protect these fundamental freedoms. The Venezuelan government should release all political prisoners, including dozens of students, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and Mayors Daniel Ceballos and Antonio Ledezma."

.. And as I understand it, declaring that "national emergency" -- was of course, the legal prerequisite to imposing today's sanctions..

Thank You.

jaycee , February 12, 2019 at 1:50 pm

The declaration of national emergencies is one facet of "executive power" as envisioned by the lawyers Dick Cheney brought into the White House. This allows for policy to be declared and implemented without Congress and without public debate. These theories of executive power have never actually been challenged on Constitutional/ legal grounds, and in fact the W Bush administration several times backed away from an executive power directed policy rather than have it challenged in court. The Democrats, once assuming executive power themselves under Obama, dropped their Constitutional objections to embrace the convenience a wide-ranging executive power concept provided.

bevin , February 12, 2019 at 11:47 am

"How does it get more inappropriate, more threatening than American officials contacting members of Venezuela's armed forces and luring them to revolt?

"Americans, is this the kind of work you elect your government to perform?"
It most certainly is. It is precisely the way that President Zelaya was removed, overnight, in Honduras, after the State Department , under Hillary Clinton, had given permission.

Garrett Connelly , February 12, 2019 at 11:17 am

Only three brave congressional representatives voted against the united democratic and republican party war lust directed at Venezuela.

Antonio Costa , February 12, 2019 at 10:46 am

The UN has recognized the Maduro government as the official administration. This was determined by the UN's general assembly.

There is nothing in the Venezuelan constitution that would allow Guaidó (a small time instigator and relatively small opposition party member) to swear himself in as president. This was also confirmed by the Venezuelan high court. Furthermore, after the May election of 2018, the opposition parties signed off on the election results (which were monitored by hundreds on internation observers and declared fair election), Maduro was sworn in, end of story.

Therefore any negotiation and/or aid must go through the Maduro administration, not Guaidó. This is a covert thug regime change by the US.

torture this , February 12, 2019 at 10:14 am

"The stigma would undoubtedly scuttle their chances of maintaining longstanding majority support and in doing so would undermine their authority and ability to govern."

Support of the people doesn't matter in the U.S. because all the avenues to power are largely blocked for anyone except those endorsed by the elites, themselves. So, I doubt that the oligarchs will have any problems in disappearing and murdering anybody who speaks up for ordinary people in Venezuela. What the U.S. does to its own dissenters is anything but democracy.

Sally Snyder , February 12, 2019 at 8:16 am

As shown in this article, American intervention to protect its economic interests in South America is not unprecedented:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2019/01/john-bolton-venezuela-and-how.html

Unfortunately, Washington is incapable of seeing the unintended consequences of its global agenda.

michael , February 12, 2019 at 7:13 am

While I am sure that the regime change in Venezuela is a long time in coming (with Trump or not), as evidenced by most of the EU (UK, Spain, France, Germany, Sweden and Denmark) 'instant' recognition of Guaido, I am curious as to the lack of American politicians at least giving lip service against the coup (has anyone outside of Tulsi Gabbard spoken up?)
In addition to the albatross of John Bolton around his neck, the neocons have also saddled Trump with Elliott Abrams? There are no decent diplomats/ bureaucrats willing to work (and risk their careers) with Trump?

[Feb 12, 2019] Regime Change Made in the USA by Steve Ellner

Looks like events have complex dynamics and Washington did not fully understand possible blowback from its actions to unseat Maduro.
As usual Trump administration actions are not consistent with the rule of law and elementary knowledge of international relations. It's pure imperial bulling and as such it might well backfire. In addition to the albatross of John Bolton around his neck, the neocons put Elliott Abrams? looks like there are no decent diplomats/ bureaucrats willing to work (and risk their careers) with Trump...
Notable quotes:
"... Furthermore, Venezuelans will perceive any sign of economic recovery under a Guaidó government as made possible by aid, if not handouts, from Washington, designed to discredit Maduro's socialist government, though such assistance will undoubtedly be used to further U.S. economic and political interests. In fact, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton has indicated that he is already calling on oil companies to opt for investments in Venezuela once Maduro is overthrown. ..."
"... The U.S. effort to encourage the military to step in was again made evident on Wednesday in a tweet by John Bolton . ..."
"... The Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The Trump administration's blatant and undisguised interventionism may in fact backfire and help Maduro counter his sagging poll numbers, which last October the polling firm Datanálisis reported was 23 percent. Maduro recently lashed out on Twitter at the close nexus between Washington and the opposition, saying "Aren't you embarrassed at yourselves, ashamed at the way every day by Twitter Mike Pence, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo tell you what you should do." ..."
"... Anti-imperialism is, of course, a major cornerstone of the Chavista movement, born from resentment of U.S. interventionism and heavy-handedness that had for decades controlled many of Venezuela's resources and dictated its economic policies. The maneuvers of the Trump administration and its allies only double down on this narrative, and are counterproductive at best when it comes to solving the crisis. Their actions also risk fanning the flames of anti-Americanism throughout the continent ..."
"... Meanwhile, President Donald Trump appointed neocon Elliott Abrams as special envoy to Venezuela. As a longtime U.S. diplomat, Abrams has in many ways personified the application of the Monroe Doctrine with his blatant disregard for human rights violations and the principle of non-intervention in Guatemala , Nicaragua, and El Salvador in the 1980s and his alleged involvement in the 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez. ..."
"... While condemning anti-democratic actions and fraudulent elections in Venezuela, these sanctions ignore the rule of law. The Maduro government was never given the opportunity to defend itself and legal procedures were not followed ..."
"... Yet regardless of short-term results of U.S. support for Guaidó, the final outcome will be negative. There are a number of reasons why: first, it bolsters the position of the most radical elements of the opposition led by the VP party, thus contributing to the fragmentation of the anti-Chavista movement. Second, it attaches a "made in U.S.A." label to those positioned to govern should Maduro fall. ..."
"... the appeal to the military to save Venezuela has terrifying implications for a continent with a long history of military rule. And finally, the seizure of Venezuelan assets, which have then been turned over to a political ally, violates sacred norms of property rights, and in the process erodes confidence in the system of private property ..."
"... NACLA: Report on the Americas ..."
"... Latin American Perspectives ..."
"... The intention behind the pressure directed at Venezuela is quite clear: the current government is being told to resign and hand power over to a selected member of the opposition. To advance this strategy, various degrees of, frankly, organized crime style threats of punishment or positive inducement are daily publicized, iterated by US public officials. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Trump's backing of Juan Guaidó's shadow government could weaken the opposition's longstanding support among the majority of Venezuelans, writes Steve Ellner.

Since its outset, the Trump administration has ratcheted up pressure on Venezuela and radicalized its positions. In the process, the Venezuelan opposition has become more and more associated with -- and dependent on -- Washington and its allies. An example is the opposition protests that occurred last week. The actions were timed to coincide with the European Union's " ultimatum ," which stated they would recognize the shadow government of Juan Guaidó if President Nicolás Maduro had not called elections within a week's time.

The opposition's most radical sectors, which include Guaidó's Voluntad Popular party (VP) along with former presidential candidate María Corina Machado, have always had close ties with the United States. Guaidó, as well as VP head Leopoldo López and the VP's Carlos Vecchio, who is the shadow government's chargé d'affaires in Washington, were educated in prestigious U.S. universities -- not uncommon among Latin American economic and political elites. The ties between the opposition and international actors are strong: last weekend, Vecchio called the campaign to unseat Maduro "an international effort ." At the same time, Guaidó, referring to opposition-called protests, stated "today, February 2, we are going to meet again in the streets to show our gratitude to the support that the European Parliament has given us." In doing so, Guaidó explicitly connected the authority of outside countries to his own assumption of leadership.

The outcome of Washington's actions is bound to be unfavorable in a number of ways, regardless of whether or not they achieve regime change. Most importantly, a government headed by Guaidó will be perceived both by Venezuelans and international observers as "made in U.S.A." Further, the opposition's association with foreign powers has enabled the Maduro leadership to keep discontented members of the Chavista movement in their ranks.

Furthermore, Venezuelans will perceive any sign of economic recovery under a Guaidó government as made possible by aid, if not handouts, from Washington, designed to discredit Maduro's socialist government, though such assistance will undoubtedly be used to further U.S. economic and political interests. In fact, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton has indicated that he is already calling on oil companies to opt for investments in Venezuela once Maduro is overthrown. As he told Fox News , "we're in conversation with major American companies now It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela."

Washington Dictating Strategy

Either explicitly or implicitly, Washington is dictating strategy, or at least providing input into its formulation. One of the challenges the opposition faces is the need to demonstrate to rank-and-file Venezuelans that the current offensive against Maduro will be different from the disastrous attempts of 2014 and 2017, when anti-government leaders assured protesters that the president would be toppled in a matter of days. The opposition leadership claims that this time is different for two reasons. First, the regional Right turn has deepened, and the opposition is more able than ever to rely on decisive support from Washington and other governments, regardless of how democratic they are -- see the neofascist credentials of Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro .

Second, the opposition is counting on the backing of military officers, particularly lower-ranking ones who have allegedly lost patience with Maduro. In addition to some defections, junior officers attempted to stage a military coup just two days before mass opposition protests on Jan. 23 when Guaidó declared himself president. Previously, the Venezuelan opposition expressed a degree of contempt for military officers for their unwillingness to defy the Chavista government. The opposition's new perspective dates back to Trump's three meetings with military rebels and his statement , made alongside President Iván Duque of Colombia in September of last year, that the Maduro government "could be toppled very quickly by the military if the military decides to do that." The U.S. effort to encourage the military to step in was again made evident on Wednesday in a tweet by John Bolton .

Recently, Guaidó made a similar offer to military officers, implying continuity and closeness between Washington and the shadow government.

Also noteworthy is that Guaidó and other VP leaders are closer to Washington than the rest of the opposition. The Wall Street Journal reported that Guaidó consulted Vice President Mike Pence the night before his self-proclamation as president on Jan. 23. According to ex-presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski the majority of the opposition parties were not aware of Guaidó's intentions and in fact did not support the idea.

Calling on Military

To make matters worse, the VP-led opposition is openly working hand-in-glove with Washington. Last week Guaidó announced that he would attempt to transport humanitarian aid the United States has deposited on the Colombian and Brazilian borders into Venezuela. He called on the Venezuelan military to disobey orders from the Maduro government by facilitating the passage of goods, while Maduro ordered it blocked. While playing political benefactor, Washington was clearly manipulating the optics of the situation to discredit Maduro and rally more international support for Guaído. In an apparent rebuke to Washington and Guaidó, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric on Wednesday insisted that the humanitarian aid be " depoliticized. "

Opposition leaders and the Trump government are also working together to isolate Venezuela economically throughout the world. Julio Borges, a leading member of the opposition, has campaigned to convince international financial institutions to shun Venezuelan transactions and has urged Great Britain to refuse to repatriate Venezuelan gold stored in London. President Maduro has responded by calling on the attorney general to open judicial proceedings against Borges on grounds of treason. Along similar lines, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are currently attempting to convince international business interests to deny the Venezuelan government access to national assets in their possession.

The Trump administration's blatant and undisguised interventionism may in fact backfire and help Maduro counter his sagging poll numbers, which last October the polling firm Datanálisis reported was 23 percent. Maduro recently lashed out on Twitter at the close nexus between Washington and the opposition, saying "Aren't you embarrassed at yourselves, ashamed at the way every day by Twitter Mike Pence, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo tell you what you should do."

Cornerstone of Chavista Movement

Anti-imperialism is, of course, a major cornerstone of the Chavista movement, born from resentment of U.S. interventionism and heavy-handedness that had for decades controlled many of Venezuela's resources and dictated its economic policies. The maneuvers of the Trump administration and its allies only double down on this narrative, and are counterproductive at best when it comes to solving the crisis. Their actions also risk fanning the flames of anti-Americanism throughout the continent. It wouldn't be the first time: In 1958, then-Vice President Richard Nixon was attacked by a riotous crowd in Caracas, and a decade later Nelson Rockefeller's fact-finding tour arranged by then-President Nixon faced off with angry disruptive protests. Both incidents were responses to Washington's self-serving support for regimes that came to power through undemocratic means, in some cases with U.S. involvement.

In its strategy towards Venezuela, Washington is invoking not only its Cold War policy but the Monroe Doctrine and its view of Latin America as the U.S.' "backyard," -- a claim that is especially anathema throughout the region. Indeed, Pence told Fox News , in answering a question about why Trump is withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan while intervening in Venezuela: "President Trump has always had a very different view of our hemisphere. He's long understood that the United States has a special responsibility to support and nurture democracy and freedom in this hemisphere and that's a longstanding tradition."

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump appointed neocon Elliott Abrams as special envoy to Venezuela. As a longtime U.S. diplomat, Abrams has in many ways personified the application of the Monroe Doctrine with his blatant disregard for human rights violations and the principle of non-intervention in Guatemala , Nicaragua, and El Salvador in the 1980s and his alleged involvement in the 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez.

Finally, Trump's decision regarding CITGO, a U.S.-based company owned by Venezuela's state oil company, speaks to a dangerous precedent. Last week he declared that jurisdiction over CITGO would be turned over to the shadow government, and appealed to other countries to follow similar steps. While condemning anti-democratic actions and fraudulent elections in Venezuela, these sanctions ignore the rule of law. The Maduro government was never given the opportunity to defend itself and legal procedures were not followed.

It is always a dubious exercise to guess at Trump's intentions. His actions in Venezuela could be designed to divert attention from the multiple probes into his own unethical behavior, or they may be a way to draw attention away from the utter fiasco of U.S. interventions in the Middle East, from Libya to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Trump may also view his Venezuela policy as a quick fix to Make America Great Again. Along similar lines, Trump evidently sees the downfall of the Maduro government as the ultimate proof that socialism doesn't work. He indicated as much in his State of the Union address when he used the topic of Venezuela as a springboard for declaring: "We are born free, and we will stay free America will never be a socialist country."

Yet regardless of short-term results of U.S. support for Guaidó, the final outcome will be negative. There are a number of reasons why: first, it bolsters the position of the most radical elements of the opposition led by the VP party, thus contributing to the fragmentation of the anti-Chavista movement. Second, it attaches a "made in U.S.A." label to those positioned to govern should Maduro fall.

The stigma would undoubtedly scuttle their chances of maintaining longstanding majority support and in doing so would undermine their authority and ability to govern. Third, the appeal to the military to save Venezuela has terrifying implications for a continent with a long history of military rule. And finally, the seizure of Venezuelan assets, which have then been turned over to a political ally, violates sacred norms of property rights, and in the process erodes confidence in the system of private property. These four considerations are an indication of the multiple adverse impacts that the Trump administration's rash approach to the Maduro government will have on the United States, Venezuela, and the rest of the region.

Steve Ellner is a retired professor from Venezuela's University of the East, a long-time contributor to NACLA: Report on the Americas , and currently associate managing editor of Latin American Perspectives . Among his over a dozen books on Latin America is his edited "The Pink Tide Experiences: Breakthroughs and Shortcomings in Twenty-First Century Latin America" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).

jaycee , February 12, 2019 at 1:34 pm
The intention behind the pressure directed at Venezuela is quite clear: the current government is being told to resign and hand power over to a selected member of the opposition. To advance this strategy, various degrees of, frankly, organized crime style threats of punishment or positive inducement are daily publicized, iterated by US public officials.

The government-in-waiting is supposedly preparing new elections, at least that's wha they say – but Guaido's representative in Washington told reporters last week that such elections might happen by the end of the year, maybe not, but a new government's priorities would be changing the structural underpinnings of the country's economy.

So the new government will be installed and will swiftly dismantle all of the popular programs instituted by the Chavistas over the past twenty years. That is, a political platform which has lost elections consistently for these past twenty years will be engaged without popular mandate, and before any new elections will be permitted. That's a coup, not a restoration of democracy.

[Feb 12, 2019] Food Shortages and Smuggling in Venezuela - Borgen Project

Notable quotes:
"... Earlier this month, Maduro stated that smuggling seizure efforts in Colombia have recovered close to $400 million U.S. dollars worth of goods. Due to these smuggling incidents, the Venezuelan government intends to introduce a biometric tracking system that will limit citizens' food purchases via a fingerprint scanning. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | borgenproject.org

Venezuela's government continues to battle a food hoarding and smuggling epidemic . It accuses food smugglers of causing national food shortages in the country. The government states that food smugglers hoard goods to resell for profit and smuggle such items into Venezuela's neighboring countries.

Due to currency controls and a lack of U.S. dollars, Venezuela has found it to be increasingly difficult to import foreign food products from other countries. One of the most popular countries for food smuggling is Colombia , which borders Venezuela. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos have both acknowledged the problem.

Earlier this month, Maduro stated that smuggling seizure efforts in Colombia have recovered close to $400 million U.S. dollars worth of goods. Due to these smuggling incidents, the Venezuelan government intends to introduce a biometric tracking system that will limit citizens' food purchases via a fingerprint scanning.

A military spokesperson for the government told El Universal newspaper that the quantity of goods smuggled to Colombia "would be enough to load the shelves of our supermarkets."

This July, the government seized more than 11 tons worth of fish, chicken and beef.

Last month, Venezuela began to close its border to Colombia at night and deploy thousands of troops in an effort to stop the smuggling in Venezuela from taking place. However, opposition to the plan suggests that the policy will treat Venezuelan citizens as criminals and even breach individual privacy. Many have suggested that the policy leans toward food rationing.

[Feb 12, 2019] The Booming Smuggling Trade Between Venezuela and Colombia

Looks like the border situation between Venezuela and Columbia is complex and control of border flows is weak...
Mar 31, 2016 | Time

Smuggling is a way of life in the Colombian border town of Cúcuta -- and for decades, that's meant drugs. But in recent years it's ordinary goods like gasoline or oranges or diapers that make their way from Venezuela to Colombia. The side of the road into Cúcuta is dotted with illegal gasoline vendors, while the shelves of the local stores are stocked with products labeled "Produced for the Venezuelan market." That's because the combination of the extremely low valuation of the Venezuelan Boliviar -- it takes 800 boliviars to buy a U.S dollar compared to just 200 one year ago -- and the strong price controls that the Venezuelan government has applied to many basic goods has made it extremely profitable to buy just about anything cheaply in Venezuela, and smuggle it into neighboring Colombia, where no such price controls exist and the local currency, the peso, is significantly stronger.

Venezuela is hurting -- for the second year in a row, Bloomberg has ranked the Venezuelan economy "the most miserable economy" and the IMF predicts that the country's inflation rate will hit 720 percent this year, up from 141.5 percent near the end of last year. For comparison, the U.S. has maintained an inflation rate between one and five percent over the last decade. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has repeatedly blamed both the smuggling and the migration of people into Venezuela to take advantage of the highly subsidized health and education for his country's economic woes.

... ... ...

Though Maduro announced a crackdown on smuggling last year and closed the major border crossings, the financial incentive to keep goods flowing is high. McDermott estimates that the smuggling trade is back up to previous levels. And Colombian smugglers like Gabriela and Camila -- two sisters in their 30s, each divorced, who work to support their mother and multiple children -- are part of the reasons why.

Early each morning Gabriela and Camila hitch a ride along a road that runs north from Cúcuta and traces the river that makes up the border between Colombia and Venezuela. They head past the small city of San Faustino and across the river into Venezuela. Once there, they meet a local who has purchased about 60 kilos of beef at the Mercal, the state subsidized supermarket, for the equivalent of just $54. By the end of the day that same quantity of meat will be on a market shelf in Cucuta, where it will sell for over $200.

On one recent morning, the sisters hitched a ride back to Cúcuta from Venezuela. Along the way they had to pass back through San Faustino, where a police check point was established to crack down on just this kind of smuggling. Their car was stopped, and as police officers began to inspect the plastic bags of meat in the trunk, Camila slipped a 10,000-peso bill–worth just over three dollars–to the police officer. After initially expressing concern over the goods, he decides everything is fine and allows the car to continue on.

... ... ...

The neighborhood of Escobal in Cúcuta was once a busy and free-flowing crossing point between Venezuela and Colombia. Now, under orders from Maduro, the bridge has been blockaded to prevent any vehicles from passing, while police and customs agents check the papers of those who cross by foot. Even here, a location actively monitored by law enforcement, the smuggling is obvious. Those crossing east into the Venezuelan town of Ureña are usually empty handed or just carrying a backpack. Those on the return path lug huge bags, often working in pairs just to carry the weight. Inside is everything from baby diapers to cooking oil to cigarettes -- all illegal imports, all much cheaper in Venezuela than in Colombia.

These commuters are mostly Colombian citizens who lived in Venezuela for years before Maduro announced a crackdown on both smuggling and migration following the murder of three Venezuelan soldiers who were looking for smugglers late last year. The government expelled over a thousand Colombians, while another 20,000 fled back over the border out of fear. Maduro accused many of the banished Colombians of being part of paramilitary groups and involved in the long-running Colombian civil conflict between the government and various paramilitary forces. However, many of these same people had originally fled into Venezuela to escape violence in Colombia, and were now being forced to return.

... ... ...

After months of negotiations, the two governments agreed to allow some Colombians to return to Venezuela for schooling or health care. But the border remains officially closed at night. In a land with rule-of-law that is vague at best, however, simply closing bridges at night isn't anywhere near enough come to stop the flow of contraband across the border, though it has pushed much of the activity to more rural areas.

... ... ...

Less than a quarter-mile downstream from the official crossing point in Escobal, young smugglers gather on the under the shade of tropical trees on the riverbank waiting for work. Using their rugged motorcycles, they spend the day and night ferrying people across the border who don't have the proper papers to cross the nearby bridge, or they pick up contraband brought back over the river by hikers or people on bicycles and deliver it to the market towards the center of Cúcuta.

They might appear harmless and disorganized -- but they're not. A ruthless paramilitary group controls this territory, like each of the areas along the border. Within Cúcuta there are about a dozen such groups, and they have a well-earned reputation for violence. Paramilitary-related murders are common in this part of Colombia. For many years Cúcuta was a stronghold of an armed criminal group called the Rastrojos, but they have weakened in recent years and since 2011 the Urabeños, one of the most powerful criminal organizations in Colombia, has taken control of the contraband hub, according to InSight Crime, a foundation that studies organized crime in the Americas.

Less than a thousand feet away from the riverbank is a police station. The motorcycles travel right past with their freshly smuggled contraband. Those police officers, like the majority of the police officers charged with cracking down on smuggling in Cúcuta, are paid off, explained "El Jefe," a smuggler who has been in the business for decades and who served three years in prison after getting caught smuggling cocaine several years ago. He got out of the drug business, but still runs a profitable commodity depot where smugglers drop off and repackage goods coming from Venezuela. In Cúcuta there is an unspoken rule: as long as the officials remain paid off, business continues as usual. "The few times that local police make big busts, it is often a punishment for a certain group of smugglers failing to pay off the proper authorities," said El Jefe.

... ... ...

The majority of contraband moves over the border at night and arrives at the Cúcuta market called Cenabustos in the early hours of the morning. At 1am wood-paneled trucks start pulling into large parking lots outside sprawling warehouses. They are filled with rice, citrus, onions, potatoes, plantains and any other kind of produce or commodity subsidized by the Venezuelan government. The citrus gives away the smuggling operation. Citrus isn't produced in Cúcuta or any of the surrounding areas, which means it must have come from Venezuela

[Feb 12, 2019] Venezuela Showdown Juan Guaido Sets Date for Food Caravans

Gene Sharp recipes in action: the talking point in the article below were taken directly from EuroMaydan: opposition rallies are huge; pro-government rally are tiny and activists were delivered by buses.
This gambit with aid delivery is pretty inventive and might play in favor of opposition: they try present the government as cruel and indifferent to sufferings of common people. Meanwhile smuggling food out of Venezuela continues unabated. "Thousands of Venezuelans living near the border discovered years ago that smuggling heavily subsidized food into Colombia made them far more money than the meager wages from regular jobs." Reuters
Feb 12, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

Read a QuickTake: Why Venezuela Has Two Presidents, One Thorny Standoff

Guaido, who says he's the rightful leader of Venezuela after Maduro's election was widely disputed, has made a political tool of the food stalled in the Colombian border town of Cucuta. Traditional aid groups have shunned the effort as a ploy, and it's been unclear whether the trailers of rice, flour and other staples would actually be able enter the country. Maduro's security forces are using shipping containers and a tractor-trailer to close off an international bridge.

'In Caravans'

Guaido's supporters had spoken of using clandestine means, even bringing it in by sea. He said Tuesday that 250,000 people have signed up on a website to volunteer for his initiative. "We'll have to go in caravans, as a protest," he said.

People cross a bridge from Cucuta, Colombia to Urena, Venezuela on Feb. 12. Photographer: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images

While Venezuela faces deep shortages of necessities like antibiotics, first-aid supplies and baby formula, Maduro has portrayed the shipments as a pretext for an invasion, sent to humiliate him and undermine his presidency.

Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said at a news conference Tuesday that the food sent by the U.S. is a "biological weapon."

"That humanitarian aid is contaminated and poisoned," she claimed. "It's carcinogenic. This has been proven by different scientific studies."

'So Desperate'

The U.S. Agency for International Development has said the first phase of a $20 million assistance program will include food and hygiene kits, nutritional supplements and emergency medical kits. Lester Toledo, Guaido's international coordinator for humanitarian aid, said Brazil had authorized a collection center in the border state of Roraima. Supplies will also come through a Caribbean island.

People eat at a soup kitchen for Venezuelan migrants in the town of La Parada, Cucuta, Colombia, on Feb. 11. Photographer: Ivan Valencia/Bloomberg

At the blocked Tienditas Bridge in Cucucta, small groups of opposition protesters gathered Tuesday, singing the national anthem and praying the Lord's Prayer.

"Our relatives and our compatriots die for the lack of antibiotics or something as simple as a dehydration caused by diarrhea," said Rafael Polos, a 48-year-old former airport manager who fled to Colombia and now sells candies in the street. "The change in Venezuela is close. We are so desperate. In fact we wanted to enter the bridge and take all that humanitarian aid to Venezuela, but we have to do things the right way."

Tuesday's protests were the third protest in the past two weeks against Maduro, the largest wave of overt resistance since 2017. The regime has largely allowed citizens to march, however, police have raided neighborhoods at night in search of opposition supporters. At least 35 people have died and more than 850 have been detained, according to human-rights groups including Provea and Penal Forum.

relates to Venezuela Showdown Nears as Guaido Sets a Date for Food Caravans
Supporters of Juan Guaido during a rally in Caracas on Feb. 12 Photographer: Fabiola Ferrero/Bloomberg

In eastern Caracas, Guaido's supporters filled the streets. People streamed down Francisco de Miranda Avenue, draping flags over their shoulders and holding signs. Shops and restaurants remained open, but some of the main avenues in downtown Caracas were closed near a plaza where government supporters took in a video address from Maduro. A large truck blasted reggaeton with government propaganda.

The opposition march filled several blocks with thousands of people, and it seemed more like a celebration than a protest. Rap singers took selfies with demonstrators, who walked with small children or dogs. There were no hooded protesters or the confrontational mood seen in 2017.

"We're moving forward. We have international support, and soon we'll open a path for elections," said Nathalie Torres, 37, a shopkeeper. She was marching from the working-class neighborhood of La Candelaria alongside three other women, all wearing white shirts and tricolor hats. At least one U.S. flag waved amid the Venezuelan colors.

VENEZUELA protest
Supporters of Nicolas Maduro participate in a pro-government demonstration in Caracas on Feb. 12. Photographer: Rodrigo Abd/AP Photo

Many fewer people came to the rally point for the regime's march: Hundreds filled only a couple of blocks, despite the government buses that lined the streets to transport them. Many who marched were state employees and wore shirts and hats representing ministries and public institutions.

"The United States refuses to understand that we are free," said Pedro Villegas, 25, a student leader in Maduro's socialist PSUV party. "Guaido is a lackey; he has been imposed by a foreign agenda to steal power."

[Feb 12, 2019] Unsustainable cross-border direcrepances in prices of staples

So two years ago there was already large scale smuggling...
Jun 08, 2016 | www.reuters.com

Thousands of Venezuelans living near the border discovered years ago that smuggling heavily subsidized food into Colombia made them far more money than the meager wages from regular jobs.

But with crisis-hit Venezuela suffering drastic food shortages this year and local resale prices spiraling, some have decided to flip the business model: zipping into Colombia to buy flour, rice and even diapers for desperate shoppers back in Venezuela.

... ... ...

Rice, for instance, can be bought in Colombia for the equivalent of about 1,300 bolivars and sold in Venezuela for around 1,800 bolivars.

Venezuela's government fixes a kilo of rice at some 120 bolivars, but on the local black market the coveted product now fetches approximately 2,000 bolivars - just $2 at the unofficial foreign exchange rate but around one-fifth of a monthly minimum wage, factoring in monthly food tickets.

[Feb 12, 2019] Busted! Over 90 Tons of Food, Hoarded, Smuggled, Kept out of Venezuela s Retail Markets This Week by Les Blough

Notable quotes:
"... These illegal operations for destabilization have a two-fold purpose: (1) To disrupt the lives of the people, create unrest and blame the government for inefficiency and inability to provide food and other essentials for the people. (2) To occupy government time and resources, diverting it from the regular daily work on infrastructure, social and security services that are normally expected from all governments. ..."
Aug 14, 2015 | www.democraticunderground.com

Anyone who has been paying attention to the economic war against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will be familiar with the hoarding, dumping and smuggling of food as part of destabilization efforts by opposition food processing plants, points of sale and foreign entities.

Here in my home state of Aragua, we have been experiencing certain missing products in our retail markets for a week or two, only to reappear in a later week to create long lines of people waiting to buy from the new delivery. That problem has to do with the privately-run distribution system over which the government still hasn't gained control. When a big shipment of the missing item(s) does arrive at a later date, it is typically off-loaded at a single store in this city of 300,000 people, creating the long lines of buyers who may wait for hours to make their purchase. The store itself often opens only one cashier for the desired product to make the sale of the product even slower. When the missing product does appear, another suddenly disappears. During the past two weeks our local supermarkets suddenly had zero rice or pasta, products that were there in abundance during weeks past. The illegal smuggling and hoarding operations are being busted on a weekly basis if not daily. But imagine the cost and difficulty for the government to search out all the hidden sites in a country of 30 million people across 23 states. However, the fact that the smuggling mafia are resorting to new innovative methods to hoard their stolen products (see second report with photos below) shows that the pressure is on.

These illegal operations for destabilization have a two-fold purpose: (1) To disrupt the lives of the people, create unrest and blame the government for inefficiency and inability to provide food and other essentials for the people. (2) To occupy government time and resources, diverting it from the regular daily work on infrastructure, social and security services that are normally expected from all governments.

We could report on Axis of Logic these discoveries of food held in secret warehouses and kept off the retail markets on a regular basis but the two that follow will serve as examples for the doubters.

On August 13, Noticias 24 reported the confiscation of 14,144 tons of processed whole chicken in the State of Falcon. The government's Superintendency for the Defense of Socio-Economic Rights (Sundde) coordinated the operation with the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) and authorities in Falcon State to locate and confiscate the birds. The final destination of the shipment a warehouse located in Puerto Cumarebo on the northwest tip of Venezuela's Caribbean coast. The massive illegal cargo was detected through Sundde's contact network.

More:
http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_71293.shtml

[Feb 12, 2019] Venezuelan opposition and the Church of Scientology

Ukrainian coup d'état leader Yatsneyuk sister is a prominent member of the church of Scientology
Feb 12, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

William Bowles , Feb 12, 2019 10:14:38 AM | link

Internationalist 360° Editorial Comment:

The fact that the opposition can conspire and operate openly is proof that the government has not suppressed them in any way. While it is dangerous that they continue to collaborate to overthrow the government, they are emboldened by the freedoms granted and upheld by the same Constitution they seek to obliterate. Their continued freedom is evidence that Venezuela is not only a democracy, but a tolerant, peaceful society.

https://libya360.wordpress.com/author/internationalist360/

Hoarsewhisperer , Feb 12, 2019 10:23:30 AM | link

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 12, 2019 9:47:29 AM | 60

In case the link between Scientology and Venezuela which I'm proposing isn't obvious, and obviously reliant on pitiful levels of Public Gullibility, it is adequately illustrated by the fact that the goals of the Venezuela Scam are just as nebulously unspecified as the goals of Scientology itself.

In the doco mentioned above there's a segment exposing an entire lavishly funded Dept withing Scientology which is tasked with recruiting celebrities.

The segment outlines the way the decision to recruit Tom Cruse was planned and executed. It involved flattering Cruse into accepting 'help' from cult members in every aspect of his life.

Fiendishly clever, but unflattering to Tom's intelligence, imo.

Hoarsewhisperer , Feb 12, 2019 9:47:29 AM | link
Posted by: anonymous | Feb 12, 2019 1:52:16 AM | 47
(Lots of questions NOT being asked about Guiado)

You've nailed it.

The whole charade is about tightly controlling the narrative, and there are many ugly precedents for this modus operandi. There was a reminder of one particularly well-known and infamous example on TV this evening in the form of one of a series of docos about Scientology called Scientology And The Aftermath.

Basically, the crux of the Scientology scam is a set of Utopian Principles which prospective members are required to swear to uphold at any cost and to pledge undying devotion and obedience to the Church. These pledges are then used to blackmail members into 'proving' their loyalty to The Dream by undertaking unconscionable and unethical tasks in pursuit of the Church's nebulously unspecified goals.

There's plenty of damning info about Scientology in general, and this series in particular, on the www including a Rolling Stone article called 5 Things We Learned From Leah Remini's Scientology TV Show.

[Feb 12, 2019] Does no one remember Boris Nemtsov? When this phase of the Empire's regime change operation loses steam and Guido's moment in the spotlight is fading, the CIA will murder him to provide the corporate mass media with evidence of how brutal the Venezuelan government is.

Feb 12, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

William Gruff , Feb 12, 2019 7:12:05 AM | link

Does no one remember Boris Nemtsov?

This Random Guido is going to die.

When this phase of the Empire's regime change operation loses steam and Guido's moment in the spotlight is fading, the CIA will murder him to provide the corporate mass media with evidence of how brutal the Venezuelan government is. They will personally blame Maduro for Random Guido's death. When Random Guido's trajectory of fame begins to turn from polarizing figure to laughingstock, the CIA will terminate him to extract a bit of extra value and hide the fact that the coup failed to win popular support.

Count on it.

[Feb 12, 2019] It's quite possible the outcome will be far worse than the Bay of Pigs for the forces of reaction within the region

Feb 12, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Feb 12, 2019 12:49:04 PM | link

Screenshots of today's pro-Guaido demo show a rather tiny crowd exceedingly smaller than earlier boasts. The opposition refuses to talk while the government continues to govern and attempt to alleviate its citizen's complaints. The theft of National Wealth that's owned by all Venezuelans by the Outlaw US Empire was a disastrous move. Every day that goes by Maduro grows stronger while the usurper weakens further.

It's quite possible the outcome will be far worse than the Bay of Pigs for the forces of reaction within the region.

[Feb 12, 2019] A Coup Is A Coup - Why Venezuela's Guaido Doesn't Have A Constitutional Leg To Stand On

Guado reminds me Alexei Navalny -- the leader of unsuccessful "While color revolution" of 2011-2012 in Russia.
Feb 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Roger Harris via Counterpunch.org,

Donald Trump imagines Juan Guaidó is the rightful president of Venezuela. Mr. Guaidó, a man of impeccable illegitimacy, was exposed by Cohen and Blumenthal as "a product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington's elite regime change trainers."

Argentinian sociologist Marco Teruggi described Guaidó in the same article as "a character that has been created for this circumstance" of regime change.

Here, his constitutional credentials to be interim president of Venezuela are deconstructed. Educated at George Washington University in DC, Guaidó was virtually unknown in his native Venezuela before being thrust on to the world stage in a rapidly unfolding series of events. In a poll conducted a little more than a week before Guaidó appointed himself president of the country, 81% of Venezuelans had never even heard of the 35-year-old.

To make a short story shorter, US Vice President Pence phoned Guaidó on the evening of January 22rd and presumably asked him how'd he like to be made president of Venezuela. The next day, Guaidó announced that he considered himself president of Venezuela, followed within minutes by US President Trump confirming the self-appointment.

A few weeks before on January 5, Guaidó had been installed as president of Venezuela's National Assembly, their unicameral legislature. He had been elected to the assembly from a coastal district with 26% of the vote. It was his party's turn for the presidency of the body, and he was hand-picked for the position. Guaidó, even within his own party, was not in the top leadership.

Guaidó's party, Popular Will, is a far-right marginal group whose most enthusiastic boosters are John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, and Mike Pompeo. Popular Will had adopted a strategy of regime change by extra-parliamentary means rather than engage in the democratic electoral process and had not participated in recent Venezuelan elections.

Although anointed by Trump and company, Guaidó's Popular Will Party is not representative of the "Venezuelan opposition," which is a fractious bunch whose hatred of Maduro is only matched by their abhorrence of each other. Leading opposition candidate Henri Falcón, who ran against Maduro in 2018 on a neoliberal austerity platform, had been vehemently opposed by Popular Will who demanded that he join their US-backed boycott of the election.

The Venezuelan news outlet, Ultimas Noticias , reported that prominent opposition politician Henrique Capriles, who had run against Maduro in 2013, "affirmed during an interview that the majority of opposition parties did not agree with the self-swearing in of Juan Guaidó as interim president of the country." Claudio Fermin , president of the party Solutions for Venezuela, wrote "we believe in the vote, in dialogue, we believe in coming to an understanding, we believe Venezuelans need to part ways with the extremist sectors that only offer hatred, revenge, lynching." Key opposition governor of the State of Táchira, Laidy Gómez, has rejected Guaidó's support of intervention by the US, warning that it "would generate death of Venezuelans."

The Guaidó/Trump cabal does not reflect the democratic consensus in Venezuela, where polls consistently show super majorities oppose outside intervention . Popular opinion in Venezuela supports negotiations between the government and the opposition as proposed by Mexico, Uruguay, and the Vatican. The Maduro administration has embraced the negotiations as a peaceful solution to the crisis facing Venezuela.

The US government rejects a negotiated solution , in the words of Vice President Pence: "This is no time for dialogue; this is time for action." This intransigent position is faithfully echoed by Guaidó. So while most Venezuelans want peace, the self-appointed president, backed by the full force of US military power, wrote in a New York Times op-ed that it was possible to "end the Maduro regime with a minimum of bloodshed."

The Guaidó/Trump cabal's fig leaf for legitimacy is based on the bogus argument that Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution gives the National Assembly the power to declare a national president's "abandonment" of the office. In which case, the president of the National Assembly can serve as an interim national president, until presidential elections are held. The inconvenient truth is that Maduro has shown no inclination to abandon his post, and the constitution says no such thing.

In fact, the grounds for replacing a president are very clearly laid out in the first paragraph of Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution and do not include fraudulent or illegitimate election, which is what the cabal has been claiming . In the convoluted logic of the US government and its epigones, if the people elect someone the cabal doesn't like, the election is by definition fraudulent and the democratically elected winner is ipso facto a dictator.

The function of adjudicating the validity of an election, as in any country, is to be dealt with through court challenges, not by turning to Donald Trump for his approval.

And certainly not by anointing an individual from a party that could have run in the 2018 election but decided to boycott.

The Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), which is the separate supreme court branch of the Venezuelan government has certified Maduro's reelection, as have independent international observers. Further, no appeal was filed by any of the boycotting parties, while all participating parties – including opposition ones – signed off on the validity of the election after the polls closed.

The far-right opposition has boycotted the high court as well as the electoral process. They contest the legitimacy of the TSJ because some members of the TSJ were appointed by a lame duck National Assembly favorable to Maduro, after a new National Assembly with a majority in opposition had been elected in December 2015 but not yet seated.

Even if President Maduro were somehow deemed to have experienced what is termed a falta absoluta (i.e., some sort of void in the presidency due to death, insanity, absence, etc.), the National Assembly president is only authorized to take over if the falta absoluta occurs before the lawful president "takes possession." However, Maduro was already "in possession" before the January 10, 2019 presidential inauguration and even before the May 10, 2018 presidential election. Maduro had won the presidency in the 2013 election and ran and won reelection last May.

If the falta absoluta is deemed to have occurred during the first four years of the presidential term, the vice president takes over. Then the constitution decrees that a snap election for the presidency must be held within 30 days. This is what happened when President Hugo Chávez died while in office in 2013. Then Vice President Nicolás Maduro succeeded to the presidency, called for new elections, and was elected by the people of Venezuela.

If it is deemed that the falta absoluta occurred during the last two years of the six-year presidential term, the vice president serves until the end of the term, according to the Venezuelan constitution. And if the time of the alleged falta absoluta is unclear – when Maduro presided over "illegitimate" elections in 2018, as is claimed by the far-right opposition – it is up to the TSJ to decide, not the head of the National Assembly or even such an august authority as US Senator Marco Rubio . Or the craven US press (too numerous to cite), which without bothering to read the plain language of the Bolivarian Constitution, repeatedly refers to Guaidó as the "constitutionally authorized" or "legitimate" president.

As Alfred de Zayas , United Nations independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, tweeted: "Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution is inapplicable and cannot be twisted into legitimizing Guaidó's self-proclamation as interim President. A coup is a coup ."


dogismycopilot , 1 minute ago link

The insanity of the US Deep State and Trump are on full display.

It is **** like this that will make the world question how credit worthy a country with $22 trillion in debt and run by mental patients really is.

edit: I hate communists but Venezuela is not our fuckin' problem. Build the wall. Seal the hatches. It's lifeboat economics now.

Aussiestirrer , 2 minutes ago link

And a puppet is a puppet.....

napper , 9 minutes ago link

Guaido should be arrested as soon as possible, and prosecuted for treason, sedition, and conspiracy.

Learn from Erdogan of Turkey -- he's set a good example in dealing with traitors, agitators and conspirators.

Offer a good deal to Russia and China to set up military bases and bring in advanced weaponry and staff. Do not wait. Don't end up like Libya.

Hurricane Baby , 21 minutes ago link

If Bolton and Pompeo are against 'em, I'm for 'em. And vice versa.

Possible Impact , 30 minutes ago link

Practical Horse advice:

Hello, I'm Mr. Fed

A coup is a coup, of course, of course,
And no one can talk to a coup of course
That is, of course, unless the coup is from the famous Mr. Fed.

Go right to the source and ask the horse
He'll give you the answer that you'll endorse.
He's always on a steady course.
Talk to Mr. Fed.

source( altered ): https://lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/mredlyrics.html

Mr. Ed Theme - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GAbc5uQXJo

MozartIII , 44 minutes ago link

Maybe because there was no election for anyone to vote for him. He is just a western puppet??? Weird right. Never seen this **** before...

Justin Case , 35 minutes ago link

A self professed country calling itself a Capitalista and democracy erects a Gov't for the people of Venezuela. What a shill murica has become. They did it for Ukraine as well. When the capitalistas lost the prize, the Russian military port, they abandoned the whole country an left it to the neo-nazis they erected. The neo nazi regime went after Russians living in Ukraine and were killing them, while muricans sat by silently. The Russians stepped in and took in the refugees to safety and also sent caravans of aid for those that choose to stay, mostly the elderly.

Capitalists and democracy. POS dictators masking as a democracy while their own country becomes a **** hole.

[Feb 11, 2019] Venezuelan Colonel Urges Soldiers To Help US Aid Enter, Says 90% Of Army Against Maduro

Feb 11, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The latest senior military officer to defect from the Nicolas Maduro government claims that 90% of the armed forces are "unhappy" with Maduro and stand ready to defect, according to The Times .

Colonel Rubén Paz Jimenez posted a short video to social media over the weekend declaring his support for US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó. "Ninety per cent of us in the armed forces are really unhappy," he said in the video message. "We are being used to keep them in power." He further urged soldiers to resist orders to block humanitarian aid shipped by the United States and to instead facilitate its entry into the country.

According to The Times Col. Paz is a military doctor and appears to be taking advantage of Guaido's offer of amnesty to army officers who switch loyalties to him as interim president :

A stockpile of US aid -- medicines, medical equipment and nutritional supplements -- is in the Colombian border city of Cucuta. Colonel Paz, a doctor, urged soldiers to help the aid get into Venezuela . Mr Guaidó has offered amnesty to those in the army who abandon Mr Maduro, 56, peacefully.

He's been further described as deputy of the Directorate of the Military Hospital in Maracaibo and the timing of his defection is interesting given the contested issue of US humanitarian aid.

Trump administration officials like John Bolton have also of late actively encouraged Venezuelan military defections, something that so far has been limited to a tiny handful of officers, at least one of them an Air Force commander -- while also attempting to force the issue of American aid delivery.

Colonel Ruben Paz Jimenez, deputy of the Directorate of the Military Hospital in Maracaibo, announced his support for Guaido and urged others to follow: Bolton recently invoked the "authorization" of Interim President Juan Guaido to ship humanitarian aid into the country including "medicine, surgical supplies, and nutritional supplements for the people of Venezuela" according to his statement. He urged Maduro "to get out of the way".

The Times report noted the Venezuelan pharmaceutical association has put the situation of medicine access to the population at extreme crisis levels :

The Venezuelan pharmaceutical association has said that 80 per cent of medicines are in short supply . Most Venezuelans report involuntary weight loss over the past two years, and three million people -- almost a tenth of the population -- have left since 2014. The economy has collapsed and inflation is estimated at 2.7 million per cent .

Meanwhile the socialist government in Caracas insists it isn't experiencing a humanitarian crisis; instead Maduro has slammed US aid to the country as a "political show".

The United States urged the UN to act by presenting a draft resolution before the security council demanding that Venezuelan forces unblock the aid at the border, reportedly coming via Brazil and US ally Colombia, in order for the people to access it. Russia is expected to block the resolution.

Interestingly, prior to this latest defection of military doctor Col. Paz, another high ranking officer had cited the exact same "90 percent" figure describing armed forces who are actually against Maduro. The highest ranking armed forces member to defect thus far, Air Force General Francisco Yanez, who was part of the air force's high command, in his own video message early this month claimed a wave of defections is coming.

The obvious question remains: is this a mere opposition propaganda talking point employed in the hopes of gaining momentum? Given the scant number of high level officers willing to abandon Maduro over the past two weeks as international pressure grows, it appears merely an empty scripted claim.

Last month National Assembly leader and now US-recognized "Interim President" Guaido first began appealing to the military to switch sides following a local and short-lived attempt of 27 officers to lead a revolt on Jan. 21, quickly put down by security forces after they stormed an armory and police checkpoint.

To encourage more such defections, which so far hasn't appeared to penetrate the top layers of military leadership, Guaido has offered amnesty protection to any officer previously accused of corruption or human rights abuses should they defect.

But so far there's been a tiny - we might even say insignificant - trickle as the country's most powerful institution continues to stand by Maduro's side against "foreign aggression" and the regime change rhetoric issuing from the White House.


[Feb 11, 2019] How Washington Funded the Counterrevolution in Venezuela The Nation by Tim Gill and Rebecca Hanson

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Maduro might not possess widespread legitimacy, but his government retains control of much of the state apparatus and remains far more entrenched than many opposition members and their supporters would like to believe. ..."
"... Nearly every day over the past two weeks, both National Security Adviser John Bolton and Republican Senator Marco Rubio have used their Twitter accounts to call on the military to align with Guaidó, "defend democracy," and oust Maduro. ..."
"... Guaidó's announcement assuming the role of interim president generated a wave of support from some capitals as well as the Organization of American States. Now the crisis is in a stalemate. Indeed, as Francisco Toro notes , the United States, in granting diplomatic recognition to Guaidó's "government," has created a precarious situation by confusing a normative judgment about who should run the country with the objective fact of who does run the country -- that is, who actually has control over national territory and the state apparatus. ..."
"... If this gamble, this all-or-nothing approach, does not go as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, NSA adviser Bolton, and others hope it will, what will happen in a few weeks, if Maduro remains president? Will Washington continue with economic sanctions and fall into a pattern similar to its decades-long standoff with Cuba? Will it take to exploding cigars and other absurd and criminal plots of subversion? ..."
"... The United States now has little room to play a constructive role in interim efforts, such as the negotiations proposed by Mexico and Uruguay to bring the two sides to the table ..."
"... In fact, Guaidó is from one of the most hard-line political parties among the opposition. ..."
"... More than anything else, Guaidó appears to be a product of the right-wing, middle-class student movement that developed in opposition to the Chávez government in the mid-to-late 2000s. This movement, which took to the streets of Caracas to demand the ouster of Chávez, received much of its funding and training from Washington ..."
"... Over the course of several years, Washington worked with middle-class, opposition-aligned students through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and its Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI). Indeed, OTI often works in war-torn countries that are, as the office's name indicates, experiencing a "political transition," such as Burma, Iraq, and Libya. When Gill asked a former high-ranking USAID member why OTI worked in Venezuela, he stated that OTI are "the special forces of the democracy assistance community." Another USAID functionary told Gill that OTI allowed the United States to provide funds to opposition members in Venezuela faster than if they used traditional channels. ..."
"... What were the ultimate objectives of USAID/OTI in Venezuela during the years they worked with the student movement? US Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield specifically laid them out in a secret embassy cable secured by Chelsea Manning and released by WikiLeaks: "1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez' Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally." ..."
"... Thereafter, USAID/OTI largely shifted its efforts toward the burgeoning student movement that developed in the mid-2000s -- the movement in which Guaidó "cut his political teeth," according to a report in The Guardian . A former USAID/OTI member who helped devise US efforts in Venezuela said the "objective was that you had thousands of youth, high school, and college kids that were horrified of this Indian-looking guy in power. They were idealistic. We wanted to help them to build a civic organization, so that they could mobilize and organize. This is different than protesting." In other words, USAID/OTI sought to take advantage of racialized fear of Chávez to organize middle-class youth around a long-term strategy to defeat him. ..."
"... most successful time was during 2007, when the student movement developed. The US had a very daring movement and brought a lot of money to the students through OTI, and it grew a lot as a result ..."
"... Although they could not confirm the specific US origins of this assistance, this sort of aid has been used for CIA operations in the past. ..."
"... While it is unclear what Guaidó's role was in these groups at the time, it is clear that US "democracy promotion" financed his cohort's formation and its demonstrations for over a decade . ..."
"... This is not to suggest that Guaidó, Goicoechea, or any other opposition member is merely a puppet of the United States. But it is clear that Guaidó and others in his circle share a worldview and certain goals with the US government. Many of them linked up with US agencies, which provided them with the resources needed to amplify their voices and reach a much larger audience. ..."
"... A recently released document outlining some of Guaidó's proposals -- accepting much-needed humanitarian aid, eliminating currency controls, and courting private investment -- did little to clarify his vision for the future. Still hanging in the air is how Guaidó intends to accomplish these goals. The lack of specificity is at least partly due to the heterogeneity of the opposition coalition, which is composed of former Communist Party members as well as proponents of neoliberalism. But Guaidó's already cozy relationship with the United States certainly raises concerns that his plans remain vague because they involve massive privatization, the rollback of state services, and other policies that would make Venezuela more "inviting" for foreign investors at the expense of many Venezuelans ..."
"... Finally, though most Venezuelans may not be aware of the ties between Guaidó's party and the United States, his uncritical acceptance of US support has filled some with uncertainty about his motives. ..."
"... At the international level, the stars have surely aligned for Guaidó and the opposition, with right-wing allies like Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Donald Trump in the United States now in power. ..."
"... The only real hope for a peaceful outcome lies in dialogue. Given that many citizens do not trust either Maduro or Guaidó, the two sides would need to make serious gestures toward working together to resolve both the economic and political crisis. This would require that Guaidó walk back his refusal to participate in negotiations. ..."
"... Decoupling humanitarian aid from political interests could also demonstrate that Guaidó isn't just focused on gaining power. The Red Cross has already cautioned the United States about the dangers of sending aid to Venezuela if it is not "shielded" from politics and does not have the approval of Venezuelan authorities. ..."
Feb 11, 2019 | www.thenation.com

in February 4, more than a dozen European countries recognized the president of Venezuela's National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as the country's legitimate president. This decision came almost two weeks after the United States, Canada, and most countries in Latin America backed Guaidó's claim to the presidential office. Despite continued Chinese and Russian support for Nicolás Maduro's government, the international community is quickly isolating it, as never before. A strange coalition of left- and right-wing political parties has formed to assist Guaidó, and knee-jerk support from both pundits and politicians who profess concern about the country's humanitarian crisis has generated an allegiance to this little-known politician and his call for Maduro's resignation. Many of Guaidó's supporters have cited Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution as grounds for his assumption of the presidency, arguing that the unfair nature of the 2018 presidential election has rendered the Maduro government illegitimate. There is no question that Venezuelans are suffering and want to see a change in governance. Maduro is wildly unpopular, even among the working class, and many have grown tired of the economic crisis that has exploded under his watch. This doesn't mean, though, that citizens necessarily support the opposition or, worse, US military intervention.

Many continue to identify as chavista , and even those who have shed this identification continue to acknowledge that the Bolivarian Revolution once improved their livelihoods. Those improvements, though, have largely evaporated under Maduro.

Since some of the most powerful countries in the world have now decided to back Guaidó, there is good reason to ask who he is, what sort of future he represents for Venezuela, and whether domestic support for Guaidó's call for Maduro's resignation equals support for him as leader of the country.

Dangerous Brinkmanship

Maduro might not possess widespread legitimacy, but his government retains control of much of the state apparatus and remains far more entrenched than many opposition members and their supporters would like to believe. In many ways, chavismo remains dominant and has reshaped Venezuelan society. Whether they like it or not, the opposition will not be able to entirely overturn the legacy of the Bolivarian Revolution or erase the fondness that many citizens still have for the late Hugo Chávez and the policies he implemented as president. Some members of the opposition seem to realize this.

There should not be any doubt, though, about what the United States, alongside other countries within and beyond the Western Hemisphere, are pushing for in Venezuela: a military overthrow of the Maduro government. The situation is messy, and there are multiple interpretations concerning the origins of the political-economic crisis in Venezuela, as well as how to solve the political crisis and reboot the Venezuelan economy. But Washington and its allies seem intent on some basic interventionist strategies. Nearly every day over the past two weeks, both National Security Adviser John Bolton and Republican Senator Marco Rubio have used their Twitter accounts to call on the military to align with Guaidó, "defend democracy," and oust Maduro.

For now, the United States has seemed to settle for imposing harsh sanctions on Venezuela that portend economic catastrophe. These sanctions target the lifeblood of the economy: the state oil company (PDVSA) and its sales to the United States. The aim, of course, is to weaken Maduro's position by taking away the government's most important source of revenue. But this could very easily backfire. Venezuelan citizens might blame the United States for worsening the economic crisis, though it won't automatically translate into support for Maduro. And it certainly won't help build support for international mediation or fondness for the United States on the part of most Venezuelans.

If these sanctions do break the government, it is likely some portion of the population will feel that whatever comes next is the product of coercion. If the opposition centered around Guaidó then wins a presidential election, that government may face questions regarding its own legitimacy. Even for many who do not support Maduro, anti-imperialist sentiments run deep; elections that take place as a result of US strong-arming will be tainted by these dynamics.

Guaidó's announcement assuming the role of interim president generated a wave of support from some capitals as well as the Organization of American States. Now the crisis is in a stalemate. Indeed, as Francisco Toro notes , the United States, in granting diplomatic recognition to Guaidó's "government," has created a precarious situation by confusing a normative judgment about who should run the country with the objective fact of who does run the country -- that is, who actually has control over national territory and the state apparatus.

If this gamble, this all-or-nothing approach, does not go as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, NSA adviser Bolton, and others hope it will, what will happen in a few weeks, if Maduro remains president? Will Washington continue with economic sanctions and fall into a pattern similar to its decades-long standoff with Cuba? Will it take to exploding cigars and other absurd and criminal plots of subversion?

The United States now has little room to play a constructive role in interim efforts, such as the negotiations proposed by Mexico and Uruguay to bring the two sides to the table. In fact, Washington's intransigence only bolsters opposition intransigence. Indeed, since January 23, we have seen escalation upon escalation, potentially setting the stage for violent conflict, even civil war.

Washington's Campaign: 'Dividing Chavismo' and 'Protecting Vital US Business'

Following the opposition's victory in 2015 parliamentary elections, opposition-party leaders agreed to a rotating cast of leadership within the National Assembly. In 2019, Guaidó, representing the Voluntad Popular party, assumed the position of National Assembly president. Very few know much about the 35-year-old Guaidó. Indeed, a common remark about him from Venezuelans is that he has "come out of nowhere" ( viene de la nada ).

In fact, Guaidó is from one of the most hard-line political parties among the opposition. While some parties have sought to displace chavismo through an electoral route, Leopoldo López, one of the founders of Voluntad Popular, led protests in 2014 -- many of which became violent -- demanding Maduro's exit. After Maduro's first election, in 2013, López justified undemocratic approaches to removing him by declaring his government illegitimate. One of the few things we do know about Guaidó is that López has been one of his political mentors; some have even suggested López is continuing to call the shots while still under house arrest in suburban Caracas.

More than anything else, Guaidó appears to be a product of the right-wing, middle-class student movement that developed in opposition to the Chávez government in the mid-to-late 2000s. This movement, which took to the streets of Caracas to demand the ouster of Chávez, received much of its funding and training from Washington.

The following reporting is based on Tim Gill's extensive research on US foreign policy toward Venezuela under Chávez, and the ways in which Washington sought to"promote democracy." Gill conducted interviews with numerous US state actors and members Venezuelan civil society.

Over the course of several years, Washington worked with middle-class, opposition-aligned students through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and its Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI). Indeed, OTI often works in war-torn countries that are, as the office's name indicates, experiencing a "political transition," such as Burma, Iraq, and Libya. When Gill asked a former high-ranking USAID member why OTI worked in Venezuela, he stated that OTI are "the special forces of the democracy assistance community." Another USAID functionary told Gill that OTI allowed the United States to provide funds to opposition members in Venezuela faster than if they used traditional channels.

What were the ultimate objectives of USAID/OTI in Venezuela during the years they worked with the student movement? US Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield specifically laid them out in a secret embassy cable secured by Chelsea Manning and released by WikiLeaks: "1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez' Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally."

These efforts initially focused on setting up community groups in working-class neighborhoods, which appeared neutral but were actually operated by opposition activists. Since USAID/OTI could not directly fund political parties, they worked with party leaders, including those from Voluntad Popular, to help opposition activists set up these community groups in neighborhoods where chavistas were predominant. The groups, which claimed to promote and provide training related to participatory democracy, ultimately aimed to put opposition activists in contact with Chávez supporters in an effort to generate chavista support for their political parties. One USAID/OTI contractor who helped to organize these groups in Venezuela explained to Gill:

We even developed new NGOs that were looking very neutral in the eyes of the government; by them we can help people in the poor neighborhoods. They looked neutral because they had no affiliation with no political party. They were people from the neighborhood, even though they were opposition. They create the organizations with no past relation to political parties. So when they worked in the barrios , they looked very neutral. So we gave them money, but they succeeded in helping democratic values. They were pulling people away from Chávez in a subtle manner. We were telling them what democracy is, and showing them what democracy means. We developed very nice materials and took care of every word to give them, so it didn't look like we were sympathizing with the opposition.

The campaign didn't work out as planned. Chávez continued to garner support among the popular classes, and many barrio inhabitants eventually caught on that the community groups were organized by the opposition, so most stopped attending.

Thereafter, USAID/OTI largely shifted its efforts toward the burgeoning student movement that developed in the mid-2000s -- the movement in which Guaidó "cut his political teeth," according to a report in The Guardian . A former USAID/OTI member who helped devise US efforts in Venezuela said the "objective was that you had thousands of youth, high school, and college kids that were horrified of this Indian-looking guy in power. They were idealistic. We wanted to help them to build a civic organization, so that they could mobilize and organize. This is different than protesting." In other words, USAID/OTI sought to take advantage of racialized fear of Chávez to organize middle-class youth around a long-term strategy to defeat him.

How exactly did the United States help these students? One USAID/OTI contractor who worked directly with them on a routine basis revealed to Gill that Washington provided funding and training to the student groups that developed at the same time Guaidó was part of them. This contractor said that for USAID/OTI, the

most successful time was during 2007, when the student movement developed. The US had a very daring movement and brought a lot of money to the students through OTI, and it grew a lot as a result. I can say with pride that a lot of people [now] in the Congress -- I know them from our projects. I'm proud. It's like you see your son and daughter grow up. I knew them when they grew up the potential leaders when/if there is a change of government, and we were the ones who showed them the first steps.

Washington gave money to these student groups for a number of purposes. As one USAID/OTI employee put it, the funding was for "all the things they needed: microphones, things for presentations, paper." Another USAID/OTI employee described hosting seminars and courses with student protesters. One employee described the training this way: "what is democracy, what is the vote, all the pillars with the democracy system, to reinforce them, what language they have to use." However, one USAID worker contended that Washington -- albeit not through USAID -- was also providing the students with items that could "be used in the street and protect themselves, [such as] masks, but it was not part of open grants." Although they could not confirm the specific US origins of this assistance, this sort of aid has been used for CIA operations in the past.

While it is unclear what Guaidó's role was in these groups at the time, it is clear that US "democracy promotion" financed his cohort's formation and its demonstrations for over a decade . Two of the key actors that USAID/OTI contractors interacted with during this period were Yon Goicoechea and Freddy Guevara, who like Guaidó were from Voluntad Popular. All three have been widely documented in the media as leading student protests against the Chávez government at the same time, putting them in the same organizational circles.

This is not to suggest that Guaidó, Goicoechea, or any other opposition member is merely a puppet of the United States. But it is clear that Guaidó and others in his circle share a worldview and certain goals with the US government. Many of them linked up with US agencies, which provided them with the resources needed to amplify their voices and reach a much larger audience. When Gill asked one USAID/OTI member whether the goal was "to get Chávez out of office," the member responded, "That was the idea."

What Does Guaidó Want?

Fast-forward to 2019, when Guaidó is at the forefront of the movement to oust Maduro. As with much of the Venezuelan opposition, though, Guaidó has been vague about his actual policies. On January 30, he presented a "Plan País" at the Central University of Venezuela. But much of this time was spent criticizing what the government has done and talking in generalities about how Guaidó would improve the economy. This included vague references to "stabilizing the economy" and "establishing legal certainty for business."

A recently released document outlining some of Guaidó's proposals -- accepting much-needed humanitarian aid, eliminating currency controls, and courting private investment -- did little to clarify his vision for the future. Still hanging in the air is how Guaidó intends to accomplish these goals. The lack of specificity is at least partly due to the heterogeneity of the opposition coalition, which is composed of former Communist Party members as well as proponents of neoliberalism. But Guaidó's already cozy relationship with the United States certainly raises concerns that his plans remain vague because they involve massive privatization, the rollback of state services, and other policies that would make Venezuela more "inviting" for foreign investors at the expense of many Venezuelans.

According to a glowing recent article in The New York Times , "While it's still far from certain that Mr. Guaidó will ever set foot in the presidential palace, the number of ordinary Venezuelans and foreign powers taking his side is growing." This formulation confuses provisional support for Guaidó as a means of clearing the way for elections with support for Guaidó as president -- a dangerous conflation to make in a country where it could take up to one or two years to organize elections. And so far, we still don't know what Guaidó is more committed to: putting his friends and party members into power, or supporting democratic elections, regardless of the outcome. The only thing we know for sure is that in the short term, he wishes to fully assume the presidency.

Guaidó's intransigent opposition to negotiations is perhaps another reason to question his motives. Undoubtedly, previous talks have not generated confidence or optimism on either side. In lockstep with the United States and several other countries, Guaidó has asserted that the time for dialogue is over. This position seems to have only encouraged Maduro to dig in his heels.

It's unlikely the Maduro government will simply calmly step aside and cede the government to Guaidó. High-ranking military members seemingly remain on board with Maduro -- maybe because they fear an end to the economic benefits they now receive, or even prosecution under an opposition government. The opposition, for its part, is working to provide an exit ramp for military officers tangled up with the Maduro government. Given this standstill, Guaidó's resistance to dialogue only moves the needle closer to US military intervention. And his embrace of economic sanctions will hammer the poor before anyone else.

Guaidó's calls for more protests and military defections, and his actions at the international level (for example, his rush to appoint ambassadors to sympathetic countries) seem designed to bait Maduro into pursuing him legally. Bolton et al. have publicly warned Maduro that actions against Guaidó will have consequences. Clearly, the Iraq War–endorsing national-security adviser and his new colleague -- the notorious neocon Elliott Abrams, Trump's recently appointed special envoy to Venezuela -- are eager to assert US political and military dominance over a neighboring country that has irritated Washington for two decades.

Guaidó's Shaky Support

Over the past few years, discontent with the Maduro government has clearly grown, but we should not conflate that growth in opposition with support for Guaidó. For years, the opposition coalition has asserted that it represents a majority of the country, even as it has ignored the poor and working class. The fact that Guaidó's mobilizations in Caracas on February 2 were centered in Las Mercedes, one of the richest neighborhoods, does not generate confidence that the opposition has moved beyond its narrow, elitist base. In late January Rebecca Hanson conducted research in Catia, a conglomeration of poor and working-class neighborhoods in west Caracas where she has worked since 2009, on perceptions of the self-proclaimed interim president. She found that even those who voice support for Guaidó do so because he is not Maduro -- that is, they support him not for who he is, but for who he isn't. At most, there may be tentative agreement that Guaidó represents una esperanza (a hope) for a change in government.

It was not excitement about potential change but rather pessimism and hopelessness that characterized one group interview that Hanson organized with women in Los Magallanes, a section of Catia, only 10 days after Guaidó's proclamation. Though the women participating said that Guaidó offered some hope, this was limited to getting Maduro out of office. Most of them felt that there is no real difference between Maduro and Guaidó, with one fighting to maintain his position in power and the other fighting to seize it. As one participant in the interview put it, the two are in a fight to distribute the spoils of war among their respective inner circle. "You don't know who to believe"; "I don't believe in anyone"; and "All politicians want the same thing" were common refrains.

What is more, no one Hanson interviewed was under the illusion that the opposition under Guaidó was different from when it was under López or Henrique Capriles, the opposition's 2012 and 2013 presidential candidate. In other words, no one was convinced that Guaidó had the interests of the people at heart. These and other conversations suggest that at least some Venezuelans will support Guaidó only, or at least primarily, because they feel they have been backed into a corner, either by Maduro's incompetence or his unwillingness to make serious economic changes.

Finally, though most Venezuelans may not be aware of the ties between Guaidó's party and the United States, his uncritical acceptance of US support has filled some with uncertainty about his motives. Some would prefer that he "put his house in order" without outside intervention -- that he demonstrate his ability to generate support within Venezuela. For others, his very public endorsement of the United States recalls memories of Venezuela's status decades ago, during the cuarta republica , when "our oil was not our own," as chavistas that Hanson has conducted research with often say. Still others worry that Venezuela is being sold off bit by bit to Russia and China. The choice between Guaidó and Maduro could, sadly, end up being a question of which empire to serve.

No Peace Without Chavismo

At the international level, the stars have surely aligned for Guaidó and the opposition, with right-wing allies like Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Donald Trump in the United States now in power. Yet the Venezuelan government has fended off international intervention before. Hugo Chávez survived Bush and his overt support for the 2002 coup (as well as former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and his saber rattling). However, in earlier years, the so-called Latin American Pink Tide, with leftist governments in countries like Ecuador and Brazil, gave Venezuela firm regional allies. This is no longer the case.

True, Maduro does retain the support of China and Russia. Over the past decade they have supplied Venezuela with shipments of missiles, advanced aircraft, and tanks, which have shored up a sizable military. This could make a US invasion more complicated than what the Pentagon faced in Grenada in 1983 and Panama in 1989, two military forays that Trump and others often reference in defense of this possibility.

The only real hope for a peaceful outcome lies in dialogue. Given that many citizens do not trust either Maduro or Guaidó, the two sides would need to make serious gestures toward working together to resolve both the economic and political crisis. This would require that Guaidó walk back his refusal to participate in negotiations. A few global actors like Mexico and Uruguay understand this and have urged the government and opposition to sit down and work out a plan for the future.

Dialogue is a much better option than the current US plan to starve Venezuelans into revolt by applying crippling economic sanctions. Have US elites learned nothing from the experience of Cuba, Iran, or Zimbabwe? These economies limped on, and their leaders clung to state power for decades, despite sanctions. Far from damaging US foes, sanctions have primarily taken their toll on the citizens they were allegedly designed to liberate.

Guaidó could invest less time in courting international actors and more time winning over sectors in Venezuela that have traditionally supported chavismo . For example, he could take a page from the playbook of Henrique Capriles, who announced during his 2012 presidential campaign that social programs like Barrio Adentro, which provided free health care in popular sectors, should not only be maintained but improved and extended. Although Guaidó has criticized militarized police raids that have killed hundreds in poor neighborhoods, the Guaidó-led opposition has remained silent about how their government would protect the rights and well-being of the poor, suggesting that it has yet to concede that these sectors, the majority of the population, must be the priority of any future government. Given the high level of discontent with the Maduro government, this is a luxury he can probably afford -- in the short term. Eventually, however, he will need to put forward a platform demonstrating that the poor and working-class sectors will not end up bearing the brunt of the transition if he wishes to secure their support.

Decoupling humanitarian aid from political interests could also demonstrate that Guaidó isn't just focused on gaining power. The Red Cross has already cautioned the United States about the dangers of sending aid to Venezuela if it is not "shielded" from politics and does not have the approval of Venezuelan authorities. Humanitarian aid should not be a bargaining chip, and using it as such contributes to the perception that the battle Guaidó is waging is for power, not el pueblo . Finally, and not least, Guaidó should put forward a concrete plan for new elections, guaranteeing the participation of chavista candidates. There is no political future in Venezuela without chavista participation, and, one way or another, the opposition and chavismo will eventually need to work together toward a new future. See also

[Feb 11, 2019] The Making of Juan Guaidó How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela s Coup Leader by Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal

Dismal economic performance of Venezuelan economy and impoverishment of population created perfect environment for the color revolution...
Notable quotes:
"... But after a single phone call from from US Vice President Mike Pence, Guaidó proclaimed himself president of Venezuela. Anointed as the leader of his country by Washington, a previously unknown political bottom-dweller was vaulted onto the international stage as the US-selected leader of the nation with the world's largest oil reserves. ..."
"... CANVAS is a spinoff of Otpor, a Serbian protest group founded by Srdja Popovic in 1998 at the University of Belgrade. Otpor, which means "resistance" in Serbian, was the student group that gained international fame -- and Hollywood-level promotion -- by mobilizing the protests that eventually toppled Slobodan Milosevic. ..."
Jan 30, 2019 | grayzoneproject.com

Juan Guaidó is the product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington's elite regime change trainers. While posing as a champion of democracy, he has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization.

Before the fateful day of January 22, fewer than one in five Venezuelans had heard of Juan Guaidó. Only a few months ago, the 35-year-old was an obscure character in a politically marginal far-right group closely associated with gruesome acts of street violence. Even in his own party, Guaidó had been a mid-level figure in the opposition-dominated National Assembly, which is now held under contempt according to Venezuela's constitution.

But after a single phone call from from US Vice President Mike Pence, Guaidó proclaimed himself president of Venezuela. Anointed as the leader of his country by Washington, a previously unknown political bottom-dweller was vaulted onto the international stage as the US-selected leader of the nation with the world's largest oil reserves.

Echoing the Washington consensus, the New York Times editorial board hailed Guaidó as a "credible rival" to Maduro with a "refreshing style and vision of taking the country forward." The Bloomberg News editorial board applauded him for seeking "restoration of democracy" and the Wall Street Journal declared him "a new democratic leader." Meanwhile, Canada, numerous European nations, Israel, and the bloc of right-wing Latin American governments known as the Lima Group recognized Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

While Guaidó seemed to have materialized out of nowhere, he was, in fact, the product of more than a decade of assiduous grooming by the US government's elite regime change factories. Alongside a cadre of right-wing student activists, Guaidó was cultivated to undermine Venezuela's socialist-oriented government, destabilize the country, and one day seize power. Though he has been a minor figure in Venezuelan politics, he had spent years quietly demonstrated his worthiness in Washington's halls of power.

"Juan Guaidó is a character that has been created for this circumstance," Marco Teruggi, an Argentinian sociologist and leading chronicler of Venezuelan politics, told The Grayzone . "It's the logic of a laboratory – Guaidó is like a mixture of several elements that create a character who, in all honesty, oscillates between laughable and worrying."

Diego Sequera, a Venezuelan journalist and writer for the investigative outlet Misión Verdad, agreed: "Guaidó is more popular outside Venezuela than inside, especially in the elite Ivy League and Washington circles," Sequera remarked to The Grayzone, "He's a known character there, is predictably right-wing, and is considered loyal to the program."

While Guaidó is today sold as the face of democratic restoration, he spent his career in the most violent faction of Venezuela's most radical opposition party, positioning himself at the forefront of one destabilization campaign after another. His party has been widely discredited inside Venezuela, and is held partly responsible for fragmenting a badly weakened opposition.

"'These radical leaders have no more than 20 percent in opinion polls," wrote Luis Vicente León, Venezuela's leading pollster. According to León, Guaidó's party remains isolated because the majority of the population "does not want war. 'What they want is a solution.'"

But this is precisely why he Guaidó was selected by Washington: He is not expected to lead Venezuela toward democracy, but to collapse a country that for the past two decades has been a bulwark of resistance to US hegemony. His unlikely rise signals the culmination of a two decades-long project to destroy a robust socialist experiment.

Targeting the "troika of tyranny"

Since the 1998 election of Hugo Chávez, the United States has fought to restore control over Venezuela and is vast oil reserves. Chávez's socialist programs may have redistributed the country's wealth and helped lift millions out of poverty, but they also earned him a target on his back.

In 2002, Venezuela's right-wing opposition briefly ousted Chávez with US support and recognition, before the military restored his presidency following a mass popular mobilization. Throughout the administrations of US Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Chávez survived numerous assassination plots, before succumbing to cancer in 2013. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, has survived three attempts on his life.

The Trump administration immediately elevated Venezuela to the top of Washington's regime change target list, branding it the leader of a "troika of tyranny." Last year, Trump's national security team attempted to recruit members of the military brass to mount a military junta, but that effort failed.

According to the Venezuelan government, the US was also involved in a plot, codenamed Operation Constitution, to capture Maduro at the Miraflores presidential palace; and another, called Operation Armageddon , to assassinate him at a military parade in July 2017. Just over a year later, exiled opposition leaders tried and failed to kill Maduro with drone bombs during a military parade in Caracas.

More than a decade before these intrigues, a group of right-wing opposition students were hand-selected and groomed by an elite US-funded regime change training academy to topple Venezuela's government and restore the neoliberal order.

Training from the "'export-a-revolution' group that sowed the seeds for a NUMBER of color revolutions"

On October 5, 2005, with Chávez's popularity at its peak and his government planning sweeping socialist programs, five Venezuelan "student leaders" arrived in Belgrade, Serbia to begin training for an insurrection.

The students had arrived from Venezuela courtesy of the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies, or CANVAS. This group is funded largely through the National Endowment for Democracy , a CIA cut-out that functions as the US government's main arm of promoting regime change; and offshoots like the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. According to leaked internal emails from Stratfor, an intelligence firm known as the " shadow CIA ," CANVAS "may have also received CIA funding and training during the 1999/2000 anti-Milosevic struggle."

CANVAS is a spinoff of Otpor, a Serbian protest group founded by Srdja Popovic in 1998 at the University of Belgrade. Otpor, which means "resistance" in Serbian, was the student group that gained international fame -- and Hollywood-level promotion -- by mobilizing the protests that eventually toppled Slobodan Milosevic.

This small cell of regime change specialists was operating according to the theories of the late Gene Sharp, the so-called "Clausewitz of non-violent struggle." Sharp had worked with a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, Col. Robert Helvey , to conceive a strategic blueprint that weaponized protest as a form of hybrid warfare, aiming it at states that resisted Washington's unipolar domination.

Otpor at the 1998 MTV Europe Music Awards

Otpor was supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, USAID, and Sharp's Albert Einstein Institute. Sinisa Sikman, one of Otpor's main trainers, once said the group even received direct CIA funding.

According to a leaked email from a Stratfor staffer, after running Milosevic out of power, "the kids who ran OTPOR grew up, got suits and designed CANVAS or in other words a 'export-a-revolution' group that sowed the seeds for a NUMBER of color revolutions. They are still hooked into U.S. funding and basically go around the world trying to topple dictators and autocratic governments (ones that U.S. does not like ;)."

Stratfor revealed that CANVAS "turned its attention to Venezuela" in 2005, after training opposition movements that led pro-NATO regime change operations across Eastern Europe.

While monitoring the CANVAS training program, Stratfor outlined its insurrectionist agenda in strikingly blunt language: "Success is by no means guaranteed, and student movements are only at the beginning of what could be a years-long effort to trigger a revolution in Venezuela, but the trainers themselves are the people who cut their teeth on the 'Butcher of the Balkans.' They've got mad skills. When you see students at five Venezuelan universities hold simultaneous demonstrations, you will know that the training is over and the real work has begun."

Birthing the "Generation 2007" regime change cadre

The "real work" began two years later, in 2007, when Guaidó graduated from Andrés Bello Catholic University of Caracas. He moved to Washington, DC to enroll in the Governance and Political Management Program at George Washington University, under the tutelage of Venezuelan economist Luis Enrique Berrizbeitia, one of the top Latin American neoliberal economists. Berrizbeitia is a former executive director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who spent more than a decade working in the Venezuelan energy sector, under the old oligarchic regime that was ousted by Chávez.

That year, Guaidó helped lead anti-government rallies after the Venezuelan government declined to to renew the license of Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV). This privately owned station played a leading role in the 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez. RCTV helped mobilize anti-government demonstrators, falsified information blaming government supporters for acts of violence carried out by opposition members, and banned pro-government reporting amid the coup. The role of RCTV and other oligarch-owned stations in driving the failed coup attempt was chronicled in the acclaimed documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised .

That same year, the students claimed credit for stymying Chavez's constitutional referendum for a "21st century socialism" that promised "to set the legal framework for the political and social reorganization of the country, giving direct power to organized communities as a prerequisite for the development of a new economic system."

From the protests around RCTV and the referendum, a specialized cadre of US-backed class of regime change activists was born. They called themselves "Generation 2007."

The Stratfor and CANVAS trainers of this cell identified Guaidó's ally – a street organizer named Yon Goicoechea – as a "key factor" in defeating the constitutional referendum. The following year, Goicochea was rewarded for his efforts with the Cato Institute's Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty, along with a $500,000 prize, which he promptly invested into building his own Liberty First (Primero Justicia) political network.

Friedman, of course, was the godfather of the notorious neoliberal Chicago Boys who were imported into Chile by dictatorial junta leader Augusto Pinochet to implement policies of radical "shock doctrine"-style fiscal austerity. And the Cato Institute is the libertarian Washington DC-based think tank founded by the Koch Brothers, two top Republican Party donors who have become aggressive supporters of the right-wing across Latin America.

Wikileaks published a 2007 email from American ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield sent to the State Department, National Security Council and Department of Defense Southern Command praising "Generation of '07" for having "forced the Venezuelan president, accustomed to setting the political agenda, to (over)react." Among the "emerging leaders" Brownfield identified were Freddy Guevara and Yon Goicoechea. He applauded the latter figure as "one of the students' most articulate defenders of civil liberties."

Flush with cash from libertarian oligarchs and US government soft power outfits, the radical Venezuelan cadre took their Otpor tactics to the streets, along with a version of the group's logo, as seen below:

"Galvanizing public unrest to take advantage of the situation and spin it against Chavez"

In 2009, the Generation 2007 youth activists staged their most provocative demonstration yet, dropping their pants on public roads and aping the outrageous guerrilla theater tactics outlined by Gene Sharp in his regime change manuals. The protesters had mobilized against the arrest of an ally from another newfangled youth group called JAVU. This far-right group "gathered funds from a variety of US government sources, which allowed it to gain notoriety quickly as the hardline wing of opposition street movements," according to academic George Ciccariello-Maher's book, "Building the Commune."

While video of the protest is not available, many Venezuelans have identified Guaidó as one of its key participants. While the allegation is unconfirmed, it is certainly plausible; the bare-buttocks protesters were members of the Generation 2007 inner core that Guaidó belonged to, and were clad in their trademark Resistencia! Venezuela t-shirts, as seen below:

That year, Guaidó exposed himself to the public in another way, founding a political party to capture the anti-Chavez energy his Generation 2007 had cultivated. Called Popular Will, it was led by Leopoldo López , a Princeton-educated right-wing firebrand heavily involved in National Endowment for Democracy programs and elected as the mayor of a district in Caracas that was one of the wealthiest in the country. Lopez was a portrait of Venezuelan aristocracy, directly descended from his country's first president. He was also the first cousin of Thor Halvorssen , founder of the US-based Human Rights Foundation that functions as a de facto publicity shop for US-backed anti-government activists in countries targeted by Washington for regime change.

Though Lopez's interests aligned neatly with Washington's, US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks highlighted the fanatical tendencies that would ultimately lead to Popular Will's marginalization. One cable identified Lopez as "a divisive figure within the opposition often described as arrogant, vindictive, and power-hungry." Others highlighted his obsession with street confrontations and his "uncompromising approach" as a source of tension with other opposition leaders who prioritized unity and participation in the country's democratic institutions.

By 2010, Popular Will and its foreign backers moved to exploit the worst drought to hit Venezuela in decades. Massive electricity shortages had struck the country due the dearth of water, which was needed to power hydroelectric plants. A global economic recession and declining oil prices compounded the crisis, driving public discontentment.

Stratfor and CANVAS – key advisors of Guaidó and his anti-government cadre – devised a shockingly cynical plan to drive a dagger through the heart of the Bolivarian revolution. The scheme hinged on a 70% collapse of the country's electrical system by as early as April 2010.

"This could be the watershed event, as there is little that Chavez can do to protect the poor from the failure of that system," the Stratfor internal memo declared. "This would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate. At that point in time, an opposition group would be best served to take advantage of the situation and spin it against Chavez and towards their needs."

By this point, the Venezuelan opposition was receiving a staggering $40-50 million a year from US government organizations like USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy, according to a report by the Spanish think tank, the FRIDE Institute. It also had massive wealth to draw on from its own accounts, which were mostly outside the country.

While the scenario envisioned by Statfor did not come to fruition, the Popular Will party activists and their allies cast aside any pretense of non-violence and joined a radical plan to destabilize the country.

Towards violent destabilization

In November, 2010, according to emails obtained by Venezuelan security services and presented by former Justice Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres, Guaidó, Goicoechea, and several other student activists attended a secret five-day training at the Fiesta Mexicana hotel in Mexico City. The sessions were run by Otpor, the Belgrade-based regime change trainers backed by the US government. The meeting had reportedly received the blessing of Otto Reich, a fanatically anti-Castro Cuban exile working in George W. Bush's Department of State, and the right-wing former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

At the Fiesta Mexicana hotel, the emails stated, Guaidó and his fellow activists hatched a plan to overthrow President Hugo Chavez by generating chaos through protracted spasms of street violence.

Three petroleum industry figureheads – Gustavo Torrar, Eligio Cedeño and Pedro Burelli – allegedly covered the $52,000 tab to hold the meeting. Torrar is a self-described "human rights activist" and "intellectual" whose younger brother Reynaldo Tovar Arroyo is the representative in Venezuela of the private Mexican oil and gas company Petroquimica del Golfo, which holds a contract with the Venezuelan state.

Cedeño, for his part, is a fugitive Venezuelan businessman who claimed asylum in the United States, and Pedro Burelli a former JP Morgan executive and the former director of Venezuela's national oil company, Petroleum of Venezuela (PDVSA). He left PDVSA in 1998 as Hugo Chavez took power and is on the advisory committee of Georgetown University's Latin America Leadership Program.

Burelli insisted that the emails detailing his participation had been fabricated and even hired a private investigator to prove it. The investigator declared that Google's records showed the emails alleged to be his were never transmitted.

Yet today Burelli makes no secret of his desire to see Venezuela's current president, Nicolás Maduro, deposed – and even dragged through the streets and sodomized with a bayonet, as Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi was by NATO-backed militiamen.

The alleged Fiesta Mexicana plot flowed into another destabilization plan revealed in a series of documents produced by the Venezuelan government. In May 2014, Caracas released documents detailing an assassination plot against President Nicolás Maduro. The leaks identified the Miami-based Maria Corina Machado as a leader of the scheme. A hardliner with a penchant for extreme rhetoric, Machado has functioned as an international liaison for the opposition, visiting President George W. Bush in 2005.

"I think it is time to gather efforts; make the necessary calls, and obtain financing to annihilate Maduro and the rest will fall apart," Machado wrote in an email to former Venezuelan diplomat Diego Arria in 2014.

In another email , Machado claimed that the violent plot had the blessing of US Ambassador to Colombia, Kevin Whitaker. "I have already made up my mind and this fight will continue until this regime is overthrown and we deliver to our friends in the world. If I went to San Cristobal and exposed myself before the OAS, I fear nothing. Kevin Whitaker has already reconfirmed his support and he pointed out the new steps. We have a checkbook stronger than the regime's to break the international security ring."

Guaidó heads to the barricades

That February, student demonstrators acting as shock troops for the exiled oligarchy erected violent barricades across the country, turning opposition-controlled quarters into violent fortresses known as guarimbas . While international media portrayed the upheaval as a spontaneous protest against Maduro's iron-fisted rule, there was ample evidence that Popular Will was orchestrating the show.

"None of the protesters at the universities wore their university t-shirts, they all wore Popular Will or Justice First t-shirts," a guarimba participant said at the time. "They might have been student groups, but the student councils are affiliated to the political opposition parties and they are accountable to them."

Asked who the ringleaders were, the guarimba participant said, "Well if I am totally honest, those guys are legislators now."

Around 43 were killed during the 2014 guarimbas . Three years later, they erupted again, causing mass destruction of public infrastructure, the murder of government supporters, and the deaths of 126 people, many of whom were Chavistas. In several cases, supporters of the government were burned alive by armed gangs.

Guaidó was directly involved in the 2014 guarimbas . In fact, he tweeted video showing himself clad in a helmet and gas mask, surrounded by masked and armed elements that had shut down a highway that were engaging in a violent clash with the police. Alluding to his participation in Generation 2007, he proclaimed, "I remember in 2007, we proclaimed, 'Students!' Now, we shout, 'Resistance! Resistance!'"

Guaidó has deleted the tweet, demonstrating apparent concern for his image as a champion of democracy.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/bh4DjOUsShQ

On February 12, 2014, during the height of that year's guarimbas , Guaidó joined Lopez on stage at a rally of Popular Will and Justice First. During a lengthy diatribe against the government, Lopez urged the crowd to march to the office of Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz. Soon after, Diaz's office came under attack by armed gangs who attempted to burn it to the ground. She denounced what she called "planned and premeditated violence."

In an televised appearance in 2016, Guaidó dismissed deaths resulting from guayas – a guarimba tactic involving stretching steel wire across a roadway in order to injure or kill motorcyclists – as a "myth." His comments whitewashed a deadly tactic that had killed unarmed civilians like Santiago Pedroza and decapitated a man named Elvis Durán, among many others.

This callous disregard for human life would define his Popular Will party in the eyes of much of the public, including many opponents of Maduro.

Cracking down on Popular Will

As violence and political polarization escalated across the country, the government began to act against the Popular Will leaders who helped stoke it.

Freddy Guevara, the National Assembly Vice-President and second in command of Popular Will, was a principal leader in the 2017 street riots. Facing a trial for his role in the violence, Guevara took shelter in the Chilean embassy, where he remains.

Lester Toledo, a Popular Will legislator from the state of Zulia, was wanted by Venezuelan government in September 2016 on charges of financing terrorism and plotting assassinations. The plans were said to be made with former Colombian President Álavaro Uribe. Toledo escaped Venezuela and went on several speaking tours with Human Rights Watch, the US government-backed Freedom House, the Spanish Congress and European Parliament.

Carlos Graffe, another Otpor-trained Generation 2007 member who led Popular Will, was arrested in July 2017. According to police, he was in possession of a bag filled with nails, C4 explosives and a detonator. He was released on December 27, 2017.

Leopoldo Lopez, the longtime Popular Will leader, is today under house arrest, accused of a key role in deaths of 13 people during the guarimbas in 2014. Amnesty International lauded Lopez as a "prisoner of conscience" and slammed his transfer from prison to house as "not good enough." Meanwhile, family members of guarimba victims introduced a petition for more charges against Lopez.

Yon Goicoechea, the Koch Brothers posterboy and US-backed founder of Justice First, was arrested in 2016 by security forces who claimed they found found a kilo of explosives in his vehicle. In a New York Times op-ed , Goicoechea protested the charges as "trumped-up" and claimed he had been imprisoned simply for his "dream of a democratic society, free of Communism." He was freed in November 2017.

David Smolansky, also a member of the original Otpor-trained Generation 2007, became Venezuela's youngest-ever mayor when he was elected in 2013 in the affluent suburb of El Hatillo. But he was stripped of his position and sentenced to 15 months in prison by the Supreme Court after it found him culpable of stirring the violent guarimbas .

Facing arrest, Smolansky shaved his beard, donned sunglasses and slipped into Brazil disguised as a priest with a bible in hand and rosary around his neck. He now lives in Washington, DC, where he was hand picked by Secretary of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro to lead the working group on the Venezuelan migrant and refugee crisis.

This July 26, Smolansky held what he called a "cordial reunion" with Elliot Abrams, the convicted Iran-Contra felon installed by Trump as special US envoy to Venezuela. Abrams is notorious for overseeing the US covert policy of arming right-wing death squads during the 1980's in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. His lead role in the Venezuelan coup has stoked fears that another blood-drenched proxy war might be on the way.

Four days earlier, Machado rumbled another violent threat against Maduro, declaring that if he "wants to save his life, he should understand that his time is up."

A pawn in their game

The collapse of Popular Will under the weight of the violent campaign of destabilization it ran alienated large sectors of the public and wound much of its leadership up in exile or in custody. Guaidó had remained a relatively minor figure, having spent most of his nine-year career in the National Assembly as an alternate deputy. Hailing from one of Venezuela's least populous states, Guaidó came in second place during the 2015 parliamentary elections, winning just 26% of votes cast in order to secure his place in the National Assembly. Indeed, his bottom may have been better known than his face.

Guaidó is known as the president of the opposition-dominated National Assembly, but he was never elected to the position. The four opposition parties that comprised the Assembly's Democratic Unity Table had decided to establish a rotating presidency. Popular Will's turn was on the way, but its founder, Lopez, was under house arrest. Meanwhile, his second-in-charge, Guevara, had taken refuge in the Chilean embassy. A figure named Juan Andrés Mejía would have been next in line but reasons that are only now clear, Juan Guaido was selected.

"There is a class reasoning that explains Guaidó's rise," Sequera, the Venezuelan analyst, observed. "Mejía is high class, studied at one of the most expensive private universities in Venezuela, and could not be easily marketed to the public the way Guaidó could. For one, Guaidó has common mestizo features like most Venezuelans do, and seems like more like a man of the people. Also, he had not been overexposed in the media, so he could be built up into pretty much anything."

In December 2018, Guaidó sneaked across the border and junketed to Washington, Colombia and Brazil to coordinate the plan to hold mass demonstrations during the inauguration of President Maduro. The night before Maduro's swearing-in ceremony, both Vice President Mike Pence and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called Guaidó to affirm their support.

A week later, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart – all lawmakers from the Florida base of the right-wing Cuban exile lobby – joined President Trump and Vice President Pence at the White House. At their request, Trump agreed that if Guaidó declared himself president, he would back him.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met personally withGuaidó on January 10, according to the Wall Street Journal. However, Pompeo could not pronounce Guaidó's name when he mentioned him in a press briefing on January 25, referring to him as "Juan Guido."

By January 11, Guaidó's Wikipedia page had been edited 37 times, highlighting the struggle to shape the image of a previously anonymous figure who was now a tableau for Washington's regime change ambitions. In the end, editorial oversight of his page was handed over to Wikipedia's elite council of "librarians," who pronounced him the "contested" president of Venezuela.

Guaidó might have been an obscure figure, but his combination of radicalism and opportunism satisfied Washington's needs. "That internal piece was missing," a Trump administration said of Guaidó. "He was the piece we needed for our strategy to be coherent and complete."

"For the first time," Brownfield, the former American ambassador to Venezuela, gushed to the New York Times, "you have an opposition leader who is clearly signaling to the armed forces and to law enforcement that he wants to keep them on the side of the angels and with the good guys."

But Guaidó's Popular Will party formed the shock troops of the guarimbas that caused the deaths of police officers and common citizens alike. He had even boasted of his own participation in street riots. And now, to win the hearts and minds of the military and police, Guaido had to erase this blood-soaked history.

On January 21, a day before the coup began in earnest, Guaidó's wife delivered a video address calling on the military to rise up against Maduro. Her performance was wooden and uninspiring, underscoring the her husband's limited political prospects.

At a press conference before supporters four days later, Guaidó announced his solution to the crisis: "Authorize a humanitarian intervention!"

While he waits on direct assistance, Guaidó remains what he has always been – a pet project of cynical outside forces. "It doesn't matter if he crashes and burns after all these misadventures," Sequera said of the coup figurehead. "To the Americans, he is expendable."


Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including best-selling Republican Gomorrah , Goliath , The Fifty One Day War , and The Management of Savagery . He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza . Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America's state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.

Dan Cohen Dan Cohen is a journalist and filmmaker. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. Dan is a correspondent at RT America and tweets at @ DanCohen3000 . http://www.dancohenmedia.com/

[Feb 11, 2019] US sanctions, threats striving for a civil war is not just "doing something" but doing something wrong (but then, who gives a fuck for international law ? Who respects sovereignty ?)

Feb 11, 2019 | www.unz.com

animalogic , says: February 3, 2019 at 9:15 am GMT

@Tyrion 2 good, as Venezuela "resists" America." This is complete nonsense. "Doing things" is corrupt" ? Thus, doing nothing is "good ? I mean, WHAT ? Venezuela is not "good", per se, except that in this particular case of international relations its largely innocent . The US has unilaterally decided that the election loser is the election

winner

( Clinton actually "won" in 2016; she's the real president).
US sanctions, threats & striving for a civil war is not just "doing something" –but doing something wrong (but then, who gives a fuck for international law ? Who respects sovereignty ?)

Tyrion 2 , says: February 3, 2019 at 1:28 pm GMT
@animalogic America is to blame?

What a despicable ideology makes people think like that? It is cloying and maudlin and resentful.

US sanctions, threats & striving for a civil war is not just "doing something" –but doing something wrong (but then, who gives a fuck for international law ? Who respects sovereignty ?

Sovereignty is exercised by the legitimate government. Maduro is not the legitimate head of the Venezuelan government. Expecting him to step down or at least call a proper Presidential election is respecting this.

We can argue about that, but pearl clutching appeals to "but America is competent so America is bad" are gross.

Uncommonground , says: February 3, 2019 at 2:10 pm GMT
@Tyrion 2 Your mindless postmodernism is astonishing. So you think that facts don' t matter and you haven't noticed that people are commenting facts based on what is happening, what different acteurs have done? If you have no idea about Venezuela, why don't you read what Mark Weisbrot or Max Blumenthal and others have written about the theme recently?

[Feb 10, 2019] US to Use All Tools to Stop President Maduro's Revenue Streams - Bolton

Feb 10, 2019 | sputniknews.com

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States will continue to use all measures available to stop Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's revenue streams, National Security Advisor John Bolton said in a statement on Friday.

"The US will continue to use all tools to separate Maduro [and] his cronies from money that rightfully belongs to the people of Venezuela", Bolton said via Twitter. "Those who continue to plunder the resources of Venezuela & stand against its people will not be forgotten".

He also called on Russia and other nations to recognise Juan Guaido as Venezuelan President.

Bolton added that countries and companies buying Venezuelan oil must take steps to ensure that President Nicolas Maduro and his government cannot access and divert the payments for their own use. In late January, the United States blocked all assets of Venezuela's state energy giant PDVSA in its jurisdiction and imposed a ban on deals with the company. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explained the United States was taking care of the PDVSA in the interests of the Venezuelan people and also protecting its own market.

On January 23, opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim president of Venezuela after the opposition-controlled National Assembly claimed Maduro has usurped power. The United States and some of its allies have recognised Guaido as interim president.

Russia, China, Mexico and several other countries have said they recognise Maduro as Venezuela's only legitimate president.

Maduro has accused the United States of orchestrating a coup and informed the US of his decision to sever diplomatic relations. Washington, however, has refused to withdraw its diplomatic mission personnel from the Latin American country.

[Feb 10, 2019] US Contacting Venezuelan Military Officials Directly to Urge Defections - Report - Sputnik International

Notable quotes:
"... The US State Department announced last month that Washington froze some $7 billion in assets belonging to Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA in order to make some of that money available to Guaido and his team. ..."
"... Maduro, after launching a signature-gathering campaign against alleged US interference, has repeatedly stressed his sentiment that the main objective behind Washington's interest in the political outcome in Venezuela is the nation's oil reserves, said to the largest in the world. ..."
Feb 10, 2019 | sputniknews.com

The US intelligence community is directly communicating with members of Venezuela's military in attempts to convince them to abandon beleaguered President Nicolas Maduro while also considering additional sanctions to ramp up the pressure, a senior White House official divulged to Reuters. Despite the fact that only a few senior officers have to date abandoned Maduro, the Trump administration expects additional military personnel to jump ship.

In late January, Juan Guaido, the head of the opposition-led National Assembly, proclaimed himself the South American nation's interim president, in a move swiftly recognized by the US and a handful of other countries.

"We believe these to be those first couple pebbles before we start really seeing bigger rocks rolling down the hill," the unnamed White House official speaking on a condition of anonymity, told Reuters. "We're still having conversations with members of the former Maduro regime, with military members, although those conversations are very, very limited."

The unnamed official did not provide additional details regarding what form motivation was being offered to top military officials to gain their support, according to Reuters.

Many members of the Venezuelan military remain loyal to Maduro, mostly in fear of being targeted by the embattled leader. To convince those on-the-fence members to abandon Maduro, the US must offer something that makes a turncoat move worthwhile, noted Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas think tank in Washington.

"It depends on what they're offering," Farnsworth told Reuters. "Are there incentives built into these contacts that will at least cause people to question their loyalty to the regime?"

A few European nations have joined the Trump administration in its support of Guaido as the interim president, although those nations professing political support have not taken the additional step of backing US sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil giant PDVSA as well as other restrictions on financial transactions imposed by Washington.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro © AP Photo / Ariana Cubillos Montevideo Calls Venezuela's Guaido 'More Non-Legitimate' Than Maduro's Gov't

The US State Department announced last month that Washington froze some $7 billion in assets belonging to Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA in order to make some of that money available to Guaido and his team.

According to the US official who spoke anonymously to Reuters, the Trump administration is also considering imposing sanctions on Cuban military and intelligence officials who are thought to be assisting Maduro.

Maduro, after launching a signature-gathering campaign against alleged US interference, has repeatedly stressed his sentiment that the main objective behind Washington's interest in the political outcome in Venezuela is the nation's oil reserves, said to the largest in the world.

[Feb 09, 2019] Backing Maduro could be costly for Moscow

Notable quotes:
"... Recently, Guaido addressed both Russia and China, trying to convince them that a change in government would actually be in their economic interests. "What most suits Russia and China is a change of government," he said. "Maduro does not protect Venezuela, he doesn't protect anyone's investments, and he is not a good deal for those countries." ..."
"... But despite these power projection ploys, Russia's real capabilities to influence the outcome of the crisis seem limited. After a new US oil embargo against PDVSA was announced last week, Maduro's regime was cut off from its main source of revenue. Analysts say that the fate of Venezuela now rests in the hands of the military – on whether, and how long, it will remain loyal to Maduro. ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | www.asiatimes.com

As of 2017, Russia controlled 13% of Venezuela's crude exports, Reuters reported . According to some experts, Rosneft has been taking advantage of Venezuela's difficulties to secure deals which will be profitable in the long term.

The Kremlin's point man for Venezuela is Igor Sechin, CEO of Russian state-owned company Rosneft and a close Putin ally, who has made frequent visits to Caracas in recent years. Rosneft has provided $6 billion in loans to PDVSA, which is repaying them with oil. Rosneft has also gained a share of ownership in five of Venezuela's petroleum projects, while playing a middleman role in global markets, selling Venezuelan oil on to customers worldwide.

However, Russia's investments in Venezuela look far from lucrative. In 2017 the two countries agreed to restructure Venezuela's debt, amounting to over $3 billion, by shifting the repayment terms to 2027.

The beleaguered country's economy is on the verge of collapse and the oil sector, which accounts for over 90% of national export revenues, has not been spared. Last year, oil production dropped by 37% compared with 2017. So, Maduro has been struggling to pay back the loans and last year, Sechin had to fly to Caracas to negotiate with the Venezuelan leader over delayed oil supplies.

Russia's concern about a collapse in Venezuela's economy is tangible. A delegation of high-ranking Russian officials flew to Caracas in October to advise the government on how to overcome the crisis. With the country in a state of turmoil, Russia's Deputy Minister of Finance Sergei Storchak said he expects Venezuela to struggle to repay its debt, and the next $100 million tranche is due next month.

... ... ...

Recently, Guaido addressed both Russia and China, trying to convince them that a change in government would actually be in their economic interests. "What most suits Russia and China is a change of government," he said. "Maduro does not protect Venezuela, he doesn't protect anyone's investments, and he is not a good deal for those countries."

But Russia's switch of sides is highly unlikely at this point, for economic interests are not the only factor involved.

Russian bridgehead

As Krutikhin pointed out, supporting Maduro is a matter of principle for Russia. Betraying Maduro at this point would make the Kremlin look weak in front of its domestic audience.

Also, Russia's support for the Maduro regime is based on geopolitics. Together, with Ecuador, Bolivia and Cuba, Maduro's regime is a key Russian ally on the American continent.

This alliance is essentially a Cold War legacy, dating back to when the Kremlin actively supported anti-US governments in Latin America, such as Fidel Castro's Cuba and the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.

Today, Putin's Russia is defying the US-led world order by supporting leaders such as Syria's Bashar Assad and Maduro's Venezuela, even though, in the case of the latter, that comes with substantial economic costs.

In return, Venezuela has been taking Russia's side in international disputes. One example came after the brief Russo-Georgian conflict in 2008. Venezuela was among the few states recognizing the Russia-backed breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

On the strategic front, Russia has been granting Venezuela multi-billion dollar loans to buy Russian heavy weaponry, such as Sukhoi fighter jets, T-72 tanks and S-300 air defense systems.

In return, Maduro has been offering Russia a platform to showcase its military power right in the US backyard. In late 2018, Russian TU-160 strategic bombers – which are capable of carrying nuclear weapons – flew to Caracas for joint exercises. That provided proof of Russia's global reach in a region a long way from its traditional area of influence.

According to Reuters, Russian military contractors arrived recently in Caracas to protect Maduro from a possible violent coup. The mercenaries reportedly belong to the secretive private military company "Wagner," which has been defending Russian interests in both Syria and Eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin, however, denied these claims.

But despite these power projection ploys, Russia's real capabilities to influence the outcome of the crisis seem limited. After a new US oil embargo against PDVSA was announced last week, Maduro's regime was cut off from its main source of revenue. Analysts say that the fate of Venezuela now rests in the hands of the military – on whether, and how long, it will remain loyal to Maduro.

For Russia, a best-case scenario looks unlikely.

If Guaido's revolution succeeds, Russia will lose a major ally in the region. If Maduro manages to hold on to power, the Kremlin will preserve its geopolitical foothold, but at a hefty economic price.

[Feb 09, 2019] Americans Should Reject Military Intervention in Venezuela

The problem for the USA military intervention is whether the Venezuelan resistance can make it a second Iraq?
Notable quotes:
"... It is stupid and dangerous for Guaido to be talking about U.S. military intervention, and in doing so he is almost certainly making it more difficult to resolve the crisis in Venezuela peacefully. ..."
"... Floating the idea of a foreign invasion for any reason gives the top military commanders an added incentive to stick with Maduro and resist attempts to depose him, and they already have several reasons to remain on his side. ..."
"... An all-or-nothing approach to the crisis is likely to lead to escalation, and so far that has been the only kind of approach that the Trump administration knows how to do. Military intervention would be the absolute worst form that approach could take, and Congress and the public need to oppose any moves by this administration in that direction. ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
won't rule out calling for U.S. military intervention:

Venezuela's self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido refused to rule out on Friday the possibility of authorizing United States intervention to help force President Nicolas Maduro from power and alleviate a humanitarian crisis.

National Assembly leader Guaido told AFP he would do "everything that is necessary to save human lives," acknowledging that US intervention is "a very controversial subject."

It is stupid and dangerous for Guaido to be talking about U.S. military intervention, and in doing so he is almost certainly making it more difficult to resolve the crisis in Venezuela peacefully. The military's support for Maduro remains the largest and most significant obstacle to the opposition's claim to power. Floating the idea of a foreign invasion for any reason gives the top military commanders an added incentive to stick with Maduro and resist attempts to depose him, and they already have several reasons to remain on his side.

U.S. military intervention in Venezuela must not happen, and members of Congress should make clear that it is not an option. Rep. Ro Khanna responded to Guaido's statements earlier today:

me title=

Attacking Venezuela would be a costly and unnecessary war for the U.S., but more than that it would be a calamity for the people of Venezuela, whose country would be plunged into even worse conditions for the duration of the conflict. The U.S. needs to be willing to consider some sort of compromise solution, whether it is a power-sharing arrangement or negotiations that lead to the holding of early elections. An all-or-nothing approach to the crisis is likely to lead to escalation, and so far that has been the only kind of approach that the Trump administration knows how to do. Military intervention would be the absolute worst form that approach could take, and Congress and the public need to oppose any moves by this administration in that direction.

[Feb 09, 2019] From oil to infrastructure, why China has plenty to lose from political turmoil in Venezuela

Feb 09, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Teamtc321 , just now link

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

From oil to infrastructure, why China has plenty to lose from political turmoil in Venezuela

  • Caracas needs Chinese loans and investment in various sectors, but the relationship offers mutual benefits
  • Instability and a struggling economy in the South American country have already cost Beijing dearly

As Venezuela's biggest creditor, China is bound to be affected by the outcome.

Here are some of the Chinese investments that have already hit trouble in Venezuela:

Oil-for-loan deals

The last loan Maduro got from China was one of US$5 billion in September 2017. This was in addition to US$65 billion loaned by China to Caracas over the past decade, which the South American nation has been repaying in oil shipments.

Several state-owned Chinese oil corporations have bought stakes in or entered joint ventures with Venezuelan counterparts.

EU parliament recognises Guaido as Venezuelan interim president

But after the escalating political chaos, it was reported last week by Reuters that PetroChina planned to drop Petroleos de Venezuela as a partner in a planned US$10 billion oil refinery and petrochemical project in southern China.

China has provided more than US$100 billion in loan commitments to Latin American countries and firms since 2005. This would mean China's loans to Venezuela accounted for well over half of its loans to South America.

China, as the biggest oil importer in the world, is receiving 240,000 barrels of oil a day – mostly as debt repayment – from Venezuela, which has the world's biggest oil reserves.

Latin America's high-speed railway

Even before the current chaos over the presidential race, Venezuela's economy had long been hampered by its political instability. This led to the abandonment in 2016 of a Chinese-backed high-speed rail project that had cost US$7.5 billion.

The 462km Tinaco-Anaco line was intended to become part of South America's first high-speed rail route and carry 5 million passengers and 9.8 million tonnes of cargo a year.

Beijing-backed China Railway Engineering Corporation had a stake of 40 per cent in the project, with Venezuela holding the rest, and construction began in 2009.

But it fell behind schedule and was abandoned by the Chinese state company in 2015, according to an Associated Press report. By 2016, the construction sites and factories had been ransacked for power generators, computers, metals, ceramics and other materials.

Mining opportunities

In 2017, China agreed to help diversify Venezuela's oil-dependent economy by developing its mining sector. A US$400 million joint venture was established between the Corporacion Venezolana de Mineria, Chinese firms CAMCE and Yankuang Group, and Colombia's Inter-American Coal to boost Venezuela's coal mining and port operations.

CAMCE, a construction engineering affiliate of state-owned China National Machinery Industry Corporation, and Yankuang, a Shandong-based coal company, have also promised to invest US$180 million to develop the country's nickel industry.

No progress has been reported from the project so far, but other mining projects in the country have been hindered.

Baoji Oilfield Machinery Company suspended its activities in Venezuela in 2015 following a series of political protests. In March 2016, a gang gunned down 17 miners in an area of the Orinoco Mining Arc site that was licensed to Yankuang.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2185467/oil-infrastructure-why-china-has-plenty-lose-political-turmoil

captain noob , 22 seconds ago link

So it seems USA is a much worse place than Venezuela. I call for regime change

Helg Saracen , 1 minute ago link

Everything is as usual. Old American slogan: Do you have oil? We are going to you to teach you democracy (that is, we will rob, but democratically). And after that, Americans sincerely wonder why the rest of the world (except for Israel and Saudi Arabia) "loves" them so much.

nope-1004 , 9 minutes ago link

The USA has no interest in other communist regimes of the world that have no gold or oil. Seems to me the MO is obvious. The use of the outdated MSM planting lies is also worth noting because it's not even on the fringe of expansion or acceptance, it's dying a slow death.

The old American way of invading a country because it has oil and, coincidentally, is experiencing a "humanitarian crisis" while using corrupt MSM outlets is so friggin' old.......

chunga , 3 minutes ago link

It's hard to square when you think of Heather Nauert giggling on camera about school buses getting blown up in Yemen.

Steel Hammerhands , 10 minutes ago link

I went to Venezuela to drink some beer. I find that it's pointless to try to tell the truth about Venezuela to most Americans. People say that, because I went to a small town instead of Caracas, I couldn't possibly know the 'real' situation.

https://youtu.be/yThaTpA07BE?t=1101

JB Say , 10 minutes ago link

Zorov description of Caracas is a giant Potemkin Village. The refugees flooding into Columbia and Brazil are just actors hired by CIA to make Maduro look bad. Sounds like paradise!

LiberateUS , 12 minutes ago link

Plenty of well fed fat people.

johnjkiii , 15 minutes ago link

Gresham's Law is reversed in the socialist paradise and good money drives the bad from circulation? Right. Got it. If this trolling reporter actually believes that, I have some Continentals for him. I'll print them up to order.

me or you , 15 minutes ago link

US one nation on food stamps.

BlackChicken , 17 minutes ago link

I start to think that I don't feel sorry for Maduro at all. He really corrupted en entire country with such generous handouts. And they willingly take, but no one says "thank you," just that they want more and more.

Sounds familiar, I see this **** in the US and the left is setting up it's constituents to starve and suffer.

tmosley , 17 minutes ago link

>There is no starvation in Venezuela

Reminds me of how we were told there was no starvation in North Korea. What's it like outside the capital?

me or you , 18 minutes ago link

Venezuela can be drowning on poverty but there are more homeless and junkies in USA than in Venezuela.

morethan1 , 4 minutes ago link

Not true most likely, but even if it IS, it's by the persons own choice....

VWAndy , 19 minutes ago link

If anyone was talking about going after bankers Id pay attention.

BlackChicken , 15 minutes ago link

The Fed is the very root of the tree of evil; strike the root, not the branches.

Mike Rotsch , 20 minutes ago link

Our Air France flight was grounded in Paris for 5 hours; no one wants to land in Venezuela in the middle of the night, due to the "dangerous criminal situation."

So what would you call the situation in Paris, exactly? Mayberry? And this is precisely why journalistic bias works better than anything else when it comes to exposing the kind of stupidity that rivals what existed during the Dark Age. They call themselves out, shout "Hey! I'm a moron!", and then we all laugh.

me or you , 22 minutes ago link

USA is the only country in the world ruled by dual citizens.

Pollygotacracker , 22 minutes ago link

The people in the photos look better off than Americans in many ways.

chubbar , 9 minutes ago link

I was going to say that it looks like america, at least a few major cities.

Oldwood , 23 minutes ago link

Is it just my imaginings or has ZH gone full MADURO!?

chunga , 13 minutes ago link

I don't know what ZH has gone but on the fake news this morning the experts were telling me Maduro was stopping humanitarian aid sent from the US at the border.

This is the same thing that happens to anybody that questions Trump. Doing that means they support Honest Hill'rey or is a "libtard". Without knowing much at all about Maduro, US intervention in Venezuela is somthing I do not support at all and the maverick outside is POTUS. So right or wrong I blame him.

fbazzrea , 24 minutes ago link

thanks for sharing your boots on the ground perspective... let 'em sort out their own affairs. if they fail, it's their problem. not ours.

reboot!

aloha_snakbar , 31 minutes ago link

Don't we have enough brown drama to deal with in our own country? Leave Venezuela alone, We should be giving zero fuks about what goes on there...

iSage , 26 minutes ago link

Just build the wall...

[Feb 09, 2019] Venezuela is split in half. And the situation there may change at any moment.

Feb 09, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

A Reporter's Diary From Venezuela: "Insolent American Bastards Should Be Hanged On The First Tree" Via The Saker blog,

Reporter's Diary from Venezuela.

Georgy Zotov (author of AIF weekly)

This is the personal view of the correspondent on today's life of Caracas.

Translated by Scott

Day one...

Our Air France flight was grounded in Paris for 5 hours; no one wants to land in Venezuela in the middle of the night, due to the "dangerous criminal situation." The airliner is half empty, the passengers, judging by nervous conversations, are only Venezuelans. A taxi driver, while leaving the airport, locks the doors, and sweetly warns that after dark, bandits scatter spikes on the roads and rob the stranded cars. "Oh, don't worry, Amigo, I have an old car. They are not interested in old, cars." That's where you understand why Caracas is ranked first in the ranking of the most dangerous cities in the world. It's too late for supper, but I at least want to exchange my US dollars for Venezuelan bolivars. I ask my cab driver. He violently shakes his head:

"No, no, no. I do not mess with such things, it's illegal!"

"Whatever," I laugh at him.

"Tomorrow, someone will take the dollars, maybe even with my hands torn off." I was wrong

The following morning, no one at the hotel wants to look at my dollars.

The hotel employee tells me to go to one of the official "exchange stores" but honestly adds: "only Americans, or complete jerks go there."

In Venezuela, the official dollar exchange rate is 200 bolivars, and the "black market" exchange rate is 2,715. And if you exchange your currency in a bank, then according to this calculation, a bottle of ordinary water will cost 330 rubles, and a modest lunch in an inexpensive cafe -- 7,000 rubles per person. Judging by the stories on the Internet, in Venezuelan people should simply kill each other for dollars, but this is not the case.

There is also other things different from perception. On western news, it is shown that demonstrators fight with police daily, tens killed, hundreds wounded, the sea of blood. But in Caracas, all is quiet. In an afternoon, people are sitting in cafes and idly sipping rum with ice, while maintenance crews sweep the streets. It turns out that the world 's leading TV new sources (including CNN and the BBC) show some fantasy film about Venezuela. "Demonstrations?" yawns Alejandro, a street vendor selling corn. "Well, Saturday there will be one, sort of. On one end of the city will be a rally of opposition supporters, and on the other, Maduro supporters. The police keep them separate to prevent fights."

Amazing.

You browse the Internet, you turn on the TV, and you see the revolution, the people dying on streets to overthrow the "evil dictator Maduro." And you come here, and nobody cares.

Then it got even better. Never in my life have I had so many adventures while trying to exchange one currency for another. The country has a problem with cash money, long queues waiting for the ATM, and even the street dealers of "currency" have no "efectivo," as they call cash. I wander inside a jewelry store and ask if they want some "green." The answer is "No." Everyone acts like law-abiding citizens. I am told that police recently started arresting people for private exchange, that's why people don't want to associate. One owner of the jewelry store almost agrees.

"What do you have? Dollars? No, I won't take that."

"Why now?"

"I take only the Euros dollar, man, is the currency of the aggressor, they try to tell us how to live!"

Damn it! I have money in my pocket, and I can't even buy lunch! Finally, a certain woman, nursing a baby in a workplace, very reluctantly agrees to exchange 2,200 bolivars for a "buck." I want to curse her out, but I have to live somehow. Bolivars seem like a beautiful, unattainable currency, which hides all the benefits of the world, that's why they are so hard to get. I'm nodding in agreement. The woman calls somewhere, and asks to wait. After 15 minutes she tells me that "there is a problem." Of course, money is not to be found. Her man couldn't withdraw them from the ATM, everywhere the ATMs are on a strict daily rate.

"President Maduro is fighting for the strengthening of the national currency," explained the nursing mother. "We all use our cards to pay for everything."

I don't know how it works, but yesterday an exchange rate was 3,200 bolívars for 1 dollar, and today the "bucks" fell to 2,700. I have started to realize that in the very next few days I'll starve to death with dollars in my pocket. A unique fate, perhaps, that has never happen in history.

In the next kiosk cash for gold place I am offered a plastic debit card loaded with local money, and then I would try my luck withdrawing bills from neighboring ATMs. "Or, maybe not, if you're not lucky." Well, of course. By the way, an attempt to buy a SIM card for the phone also fails. They don't sell them to foreigners, you need a Venezuelan ID card. Yes, and I have nothing to pay for it. The feeling is that the dollar is a gift that no one wants. Sadly, I walk by stores. People come out of there with packages of eggs, bread, packs of butter. The range is not like in Moscow, of course, but again, if you believe the news on TV, Venezuela is suffering from a terrible famine, supermarkets are empty, and people are fighting each other for food. Nothing like that. There are queues, but not kilometers long. In general, television stations in the United States and Europe (and ours too) created their own Venezuela, drawn like a terrible cartoon. I walk into a cafe at random.

"Will you accept dollars for lunch?" I ask hopelessly.

"Yes, at the rate of "black market" they whispered to me.

"But the change will also be in dollars... sorry, no bolivars at all...we've been hunting for them ourselves for weeks."

My first day in Venezuela is over. How unusual. I've been here for 24 hours, and I've not held a Bolivian bill in my hand. Oh, but there will be more...

Day two...

60 liters of gasoline here cost five cents, and a basket of basic food products - 50 rubles (about 90 cents).

"The gas station," my driver reaches into his purse and takes out a banknote of 2 Bolivar. The exchange rate of the Venezuelan currency changes every day, and today it is 2,580 bolivars per one dollar. In Russian money, that is 10 cents. "We must now fill a full tank," says the taxi driver. 60 liters of gasoline cost 1 bolívar, but we give the 2 bolivars bill, because there is no 1 bolivar bill. I can't believe that is a full tank of fuel costs FIVE CENTS?

"And how much can you even fill at this price?"

"Once a day for every citizen. And it's enough for me."

All the way to the center city, the driver scolds President Maduro, and tells me how much he loves America, and how it will be good when the "guy with mustache" is finally overthrow by the Americans.

I start to think that I don't feel sorry for Maduro at all. He really corrupted en entire country with such generous handouts. And they willingly take, but no one says "thank you," just that they want more and more.

On the street there is a long line into a "social supermarket," a place you can buy 400 types of goods at the solid low prices. These shops were established by the late President Hugo Chavez "to fight inflation and protect the poor." The stores are funded by the Venezuelan government. The buyer comes with a passport, gets a number, and waits in line until they are allowed to enter and buy a certain set of products. The selection isn't very impressive, only the essentials: chicken, bananas, pineapples, sausages, milk. A box of these food items costs of equivalent of 50 rubles. CNN and the BBC show videos of Venezuelans wrapped in rolls of toilet paper and sadly wandering across the border with Colombia. The toilet paper is found in absolutely every store, and without any problems. I am once again simply amazed: Western TV news is something from Hollywood, they are not reporting but making fantasy blockbusters. On the BBC website I read that hungry Venezuelan children after school go to take a look at the street vendors cooking meat. I've been all over the town. Restaurants, cafes, eateries, during the lunch hour are crowded, and people look well-dressed. The mass hunger, the Western media paints for us, doesn't exist in reality.

I take a few pictures inside the supermarket, and I am immediately approached by the workers or "Maduro followers."

"It's forbidden to take pictures here."

"Is this a military facility?"

"Leave or we'll call the police."

"Listen, everywhere on TV they tell us that there is hunger in Venezuela. I want to prove that the reality is different."

"We are not interested, we just work here: leave immediately!"

I started to understand perfectly well why Nicolas Maduro lost the information war. Hugo Chavez was often praised even in private conversations, but even Chavez supporters find little positive to say about Maduro. When people protested against Hugo's endless nominations as the head of state, he used to meet them with the open arms, smiling and saying : "Guys, what's the problem? I'm your President, I love you, let's sit down and talk!" Maduro doesn't have this image of being one of the guys. He is not able to communicate with the public, and his assistants, like the employees of the social store, can only push and ban and threaten with the police.

On the streets, provincial farmers sell fruits and vegetables: mango, tomatoes, cucumbers. All about the same price of 25 rubles per kilogram. Here, a dozen eggs from street vendors is 4,800 bolivars or about 130 rubles, and that is not cheap . During the peak of oil prices, when a barrel of oil was sold for $150, Venezuela lived on the principle of a rich fool. To develop domestic production? No, what is that nonsense? We can buy every triviality abroad. Even the managers of the oil production weren't local, they hired specialists from Europe, and paid them a lot of money. Food imports into the country reached 95 percent. And now the situation is not too different. When I order my meal in a cafe (incidentally, still paying in dollars, all attempts to change dollars to bolivars failed), I get excellent pork. "Where is it from?" "From Colombia." "And chicken?" "From Brazil, that's why it's so expensive." Even flour for bread comes from neighboring Guyana. Chavez and his successor Maduro wanted to be "people's presidents," handing out money left and right. But then oil prices collapsed, food shortages began, and people rebelled. People demand as before: cheap food in supermarkets, gasoline for nothing, and they don't want to hear anything more or less.

"Chavez was a great guy!" says a fan of the former president, 75-year-old Raul Romero, dressed in a red "chavist" shirt.

"Maduro is nothing like him! There is speculators on the streets, he does nothing. In his time, Chavez arrested the dealers raising food prices, closed their shops, confiscated land from landowners, and gave it to the people. We need a firm hand, a real dictatorship!"

In the TV world, Maduro is portrayed as a dictator and executioner, although in Venezuela, he is openly scolded for being meek; they draw cartoon of him, and insult him as much as they can. But who cares about the truth? Much more colorful to show the suffering for the toilet paper.

Day three...

"I got robbed by a COP for my phone. I'm talking on the cell phone outside, he walks over to me, pokes in my side with his gun. "Give me your mobile." I don't understand immediately, and automatically continue the conversation. He cocks his gun, and says, "Kill." I give him my phone. It's still good, I love being robbed by cops. They are not bandits from the "Barrios," the poor neighborhoods in the mountains, who can shoot you first and then rummage your corpse's pockets. I'm lucky, I've lived in Venezuela for 27 years and this was the first time I was "hop-stopped." A lot of people get robbed every year.

I am talking to Mikhail, a citizen of Russia living in Venezuela since the beginning of the nineties. He helps me move around Caracas and instructs me on how to visit the local slums. "You don't have protection? Oh, who would doubt that. Then leave your watch, phone, and camera at the hotel. Take some money for a taxi, you also have to have some cash in case you get ambushed, otherwise they might get offended and kill you. Sometimes, people get shot in an arm and a leg, that survivable." After such a nice story, I still go to the "Barrios." It is there that the supporters of President Nicolas Maduro mainly live. According to CNN and BBC, impoverished people in Venezuela are revolting against the government. Nothing can be further from the truth; it's a wealthy middle class that goes to demonstrate. Maduro is applauded in poor neighborhoods, because the President gives their residents free food sets enough for a month and gives free (!) apartments. Formally, they belong to the state, but people live in them for generations.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/w-Yf6Jecw7Y

"I will cut a throat for the President," a heavily-tattooed man smiles menacingly, and introduces himself as Emilio.

"Who else would give me food and a 'roof ' for free? He is our father and benefactor."

Maduro deliberately does not touch such people, which is why crime in Caracas gushes over the edge. I am advised not to stop on the street to look at anything, but just to keep going, otherwise bandits will have time to look closely at me. That's why they have constant robberies on the streets, plus the police and the national guard can easily take away your favorite things. No one can be happy about all these. "I love Russians," told me the businessman Carlos while conversing over coffee near the Plaza de Bolivar.

" But you'd better send Maduro economic advisers. Teach him a lesson! He doesn't know anything about economy. He has one recipe for everything, to give more money to the poor, more free apartments, free food, free gasoline, to build a full communism here. But with this, sorry, any state would collapse ."

The opposition rally in the Western part of Caracas is huge, at least 100 thousand people gathered. The protesters are friendly to me, Russia here is respected. It is not considered an enemy. Zero aggression at all and then I wonder about what I see on CNN, videos of the opposition being rolled into a pancake by tanks. The police keep the neutrality, it disappears from the streets, to not give a cause to provocateurs. People are happily waving flying in the sky military helicopter. Many-in t-shirts with the American flag, a man passes by, holding a hand-written poster with the altered slogan of Donald Trump -"Make Venezuela great again."

"Do you love the U.S.?"

"Yes, adore it!"

"I remember you already had a pro-American President in 1993, Carlos Andrés Pérez. He sharply raised the price of gasoline, 80% of the goods were imported, he drove the republic into billions of IMF debts. People went to demonstrations, and Pérez drowned them in blood, killing 2,000 people then he fled to America."

The man freezes, with his mouth open. Finally, he gets the gift of speech back.

"I hope this time the pro-American President will be different."

"Are you sure?"

"Sorry, I have nothing to say."

Asking the girl from the opposition how she feels about the US:

"The US is our neighbor, let them change the power here." "In countries where the US changed power like Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands people were killed. Are you ready for this?"

Again, she pauses and sighs.

"No, no, no. We are not Africa or Asia. All will go peacefully. Venezuelans will not kill each other."

Where the opinions splits is the question of whether the free gasoline and free food packages will remain with an American-instilled government. Many are sincerely sure that the "freebies" will remain under a new president. How else? The minority that recognizes that state gifts will be canceled say that they at least "we will be free." As I said, the protesters are mostly well-dressed, well-off people. By the way, the leader of the opposition, Juan Guido, also has no real economic program promising to "quadruple the oil production." No one thinks that after that price will fall four times. In short, I get a feeling that neither the President, nor the opposition, know anything about the economy in Venezuela.

The demonstrations in support of Maduro take place at the other end of the city, to prevent the opponents from fighting.

"You Americans are insolent!" screamed an old woman in a red t-shirt rushing towards me. "Bastards! You should be hanged on a first tree! Cheers to socialism!"

"I'm Russian, grandma."

The old lady recoils.

"Sorry, please." "Don't get that upset, senora."

Many people gathered here are joyful, dancing and singing. A soldier stands in front of me and doesn't allow me to take any pictures. Not just me, but also other passers-by.

"You can't take pictures here." "Says who?" "President Maduro."

No, Maduro is definitely doing everything he can to be disliked. Those gathering here are poor, blue-collared workers and farmers from the suburbs. I am interested , honestly, were you brought here on the busses? "Yes, he did!" says one grandfather, proudly displaying a portrait of Che Guevara.

"But I would walk here for Maduro! It's a lie that we were paid to be here."

Other people applaud him happily. I shake hands. "Russians are welcome! Venezuela loves you, you're home."

The day of rallies is over. The maintenance crews came to the sidewalk, strewn with plastic bottles, crumpled packs of cigarettes, and other debris left after by a cloud. At the entrance of an old house, old people drink coffee.

"They say that today some general has defected to the side of the opposition," says one of them. "Some significant person." "What's this guy's name?" "Who knows?"

https://www.youtube.com/embed/JV4IjE1m21M

Venezuela is split in half. And the situation there may change at any moment.

[Feb 09, 2019] Basic imperialistic struggle among former hegemon who is going down due to stupidity and bad choices and newly rising hopefuls

Feb 09, 2019 | www.unz.com

Se , rgey Krieger says: February 7, 2019 at 12:16 pm GMT

It is all moving same pieces of capitalistic BS around. Basic imperialistic struggle among former hegemon who is going down due to stupidity and bad choices and newly rising hopefuls.

Once USA is safely put out and hopefully down, new great powers will suck lesser powers dry probably by smarter and less aggressive means but nevertheless.

Souverenity is being used as a tool now, but truly sovereign can be only few great powers in capitalistic world and Venezuela will never be sovereign.

Sacker as usually lacks imagination to go beyond his narrow views. He is also contradictory.

Fighting the only successful socialist state in the world which was the only one capable to put his anglozios in place yet defending this pathetic entity pretending to be socialist.

If it is socialist how come all those oligarchs and their base is still around to keep creating troubles? They should have gotten rid off long time ago and their all assets and capitals nationalized for common good.

Sergey Krieger , says: February 7, 2019 at 12:21 pm GMT
Regarding USA I have never had any illusions about this entity. Not even in 80s. All those birth Mark's were there from the start. As with every old person they turned into marasm at certain age.

[Feb 09, 2019] Venezuela has claimed to have unveiled a mass conspiracy involving military personnel and politicians trying to unseat the country's government by force, as well as plans of potential U.S. military action

Feb 09, 2019 | www.unz.com

tac , says: February 7, 2019 at 10:20 pm GMT

Venezuela has claimed to have unveiled a mass conspiracy involving military personnel and politicians trying to unseat the country's government by force, as well as plans of potential U.S. military action.

Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez has alleged that Julio Borges, an opposition politician and former head of the National Assembly, was behind both a failed 2014 coup and an assassination attempt last August against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. The information was allegedly gathered by confessions from recently-arrested Colonel Oswaldo García, who was behind another unsuccessful conspiracy to unseat Maduro last year and was seen confessing on video during Thursday's conference.

https://www.newsweek.com/venezuela-plot-kill-president-us-action-1322816

The (un)constitutionality of Juan Guaido's claim to power

Labour Party Rejects EU's Recognition of Guaido, Meddling in Venezuela's Affairs

[Feb 09, 2019] Certain groups in Latin America tend to ally with the US. But they do this so they can easier to pursue their own interests. For example imho Pinochet would have successfully overthrown Allende in Chile even without US support. Latin Americans aren't mindless puppets that are controlled and played from Washington. Moscow or Beijing

I am not so sure the Pinochet would be able to overthrow Allende government so early without CIA support and infiltration (people, money, intelligence)
Notable quotes:
"... what more do you to see or hear or read before you believe that US had been hyper -focused and heavily engaged and entirely illegally to destroy Valenzuela independence form crony capitalism? ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | www.unz.com

Matthias Eckert , says: February 7, 2019 at 10:27 pm GMT

@mike k I try to separate the effects of US aggression from that effects of the Venezuelan governments own failures.
I agree with what another commentator pointed out. US influence in Latin America is often overestimated. In my opinion by both the "left" who see it as cause of most problems and the "right" who tend to see it positive.

Certain groups in Latin America tend to ally with the US. But they do this so they can easier to pursue their own interests. For example imho Pinochet would have successfully overthrown Allende in Chile even without US support. Latin Americans aren't mindless puppets that are controlled and played from Washington. Moscow or Beijing.

Matthias Eckert , says: February 7, 2019 at 10:37 pm GMT
@EliteCommInc. I don't advocate and American (supposed you are American or British) intervention in Venezuela. I merely wanted to point out that this article/interview one sided and and therefore not better that the bullshit the Murdoch media and their likes are probably spreading lately.
anon [228] Disclaimer , says: February 7, 2019 at 10:57 pm GMT
@Captain Willard A key to Chavez’s current weakness is the decline in the electricity sector. There is the grave possibility that some 70 percent of the country’s electricity grid could go dark as soon as April 2010. Water levels at the Guris dam are dropping, and Chavez has been unable to reduce consumption sufficiently to compensate for the deteriorating industry. This could be the watershed event, as there is little that Chavez can do to protect the poor from the failure of that system. This would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate. At that point in time, an opposition group would be best served to take advantage of the situation and spin it against Chavez and towards their needs. Alliances with the military could be critical because in such a situation of massive public unrest and rejection of the presidency, malcontent sectors of the military will likely decide to intervene, but only if they believe they have sufficient support. This has been the pattern in the past three coup attempts. Where the military thought it had enough support, there was a failure in the public to respond positively (or the public responded in the negative), so the coup failed. --
The GiFiles,
Files released: 5543061
The GiFiles
Specified Search

https://search.wikileaks.org/gifiles/?viewemailid=218642

anon [228] Disclaimer , says: February 7, 2019 at 11:25 pm GMT
@Matthias Eckert For example imho Pinochet would have successfully overthrown Allende in Chile even without US support"

This is called softening of arguments and doubt and making room for possible exoneration of US.

Tomorrow we will hear that Haiti's Aristides would have been forced by Haitian to board plane and leave

Tomorrow we will know that Honduran president would have been anyways sent to the pasture of retirement by some military without Clinton's ( Mrs this time ).

anon [228] Disclaimer , says: February 7, 2019 at 11:38 pm GMT
@Matthias Eckert 1 "Soldiers eat out of garbage cans & their families go hungry in Venezuela while Maduro & friends live like kings & block humanitarian aid," Mr. Rubio wrote. He then added: "The world would support the Armed Forces in #Venezuela if they decide to protect the people & restore democracy by removing a dictator."

2

In a speech in April, when he was still White House policy chief for Latin America, Mr. Cruz issued a message to the Venezuelan military. Referring to Mr. Maduro as a "madman," Mr. Cruz said all Venezuelans should "urge the military to respect the oath they took to perform their functions. Honor your oath."

3
Roberta Jacobson, a former ambassador to Mexico who preceded Ms. Aponte as the top State Department official for Latin America policy, said that while Washington has long regarded the Venezuelan military as "widely corrupt, deeply involved in narcotics trafficking and very unsavory," she saw merit in establishing a back channel with some of them

4. Mr. Tillerson raised the potential for a military coup.
"When things are so bad that the military leadership realizes that it just can't serve the citizens anymore, they will manage a peaceful transition," he said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/08/world/americas/donald-trump-venezuela-military-coup.html

what more do you to see or hear or read before you believe that US had been hyper -focused and heavily engaged and entirely illegally to destroy Valenzuela independence form crony capitalism?

[Feb 09, 2019] There are only two ways to remove Maduro

Feb 09, 2019 | off-guardian.org

vexarb says Feb, 4, 2019

Analyst Canthama agrees with Pepe (BTL SyrPer #286513):

The Saker has a nice article on Venezuela, few days old, but quite balanced on his analysis, people could disagree with one or two things but in general quite to the point on all fronts.

http://www.unz.com/tsaker/the-us-aggression-against-venezuela-as-a-diagnostic-tool/

Though Colombia and Brazil border Venezuela on its West and South, any sort of military invasion from those directions will first have to conquer nature.

So there are only two ways to remove Maduro:

1) US cruise missiles hitting hundreds of spots in Venezuela would be completely unacceptable for any Latina America population, a violence that would cause the US to lose support even its most vassal States.
In parallel, such violence would spark the return of the Colombian guerrilla, blowback will be very bad and wide spread. Thus military intervention is not likely.

2) The second option is assassination of Maduro , and this is where some of Venezuela's allies are trying to help, either with security guards, intel and direct protection.

As in Syria, time is an ally for Venezuela, the Venezuela Government will become stronger and diplomacy will take shape, There is a real danger though for a false flag, and this is in fact what Bolton and Pompeo are preparing with Guaidó's supporters knowledge [as in Syria].

Time is also important since the US regime and its dying fiat economy, 2019 will be a tough year for the G7, meaning theses regimes will either have to create another massive QE that will bring them down or start a big war, which the vast majority of their country citizens will never support, see France with yellow vest, many more countries would see the same -- even the US.

So, time is good friend to the Venezuela, they must push it as long as they can, and things will be all right.

vexarb says Feb, 4, 2019
Pepe Escobar gives the global view; with Venezuela, Iran, Russia and China abandoning the mythical petrodollar, Uncle $cam's fiat currency is heading for the dustbin of history: https://thesaker.is/venezuela-lets-cut-to-the-chase/
vexarb says Feb, 4, 2019
Latest from MOA. Uncle $cam is couped in all alone: https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/02/us-coup-attempt-in-venezuela-lacks-international-support.html
Frank Russell says Feb, 3, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/embed/R_2sf6qnuNU?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Frank Russell says Feb, 3, 2019
https://youtu.be/R_2sf6qnuNU
vexarb says Feb, 2, 2019
UN rejects Venezuela's Guaido, will only cooperate with recognized government of Maduro: https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/02/01/587387/UN-reject-Guaido-cooperate-Maduro
vexarb says Feb, 1, 2019
Refusal to hand over Venezuelan gold means end of Britain as a financial center -- Prof. Wolff

https://www.rt.com/business/450144-venezuela-gold-boe-wolff/

"That is a signal to every country that has or may have difficulties with the US, [that they had] better get their money out of England and out of London because it's not the safe place as it once was," he said.

"One of the few things left for Britain is to be the financial center that London has been for so long. And one of the ways you stay a financial center is if you don't play games with other people's money," he said.

Lochearn says Feb, 1, 2019
Jimmy Dore, Abby Martin and others on Venezuela: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98pBLXe7Bmk

crank says Feb, 1, 2019

Listening to David Graeber in this interview there is no mention of declining energy surpluses in the discussion of the economic paradigm of the coming future. No consideration of the role of the labour of fossil fuels in the economy of the past two centuries. It's amazing, the argument seems not to have reached them, such that it is doesn't even get a look in. (Listen from 40 min mark, and you will hear a completely opposite view of what is to come -- " We are not going to have the problem of how to deploy scarce resources, given an only moderate level of productivity ").
https://novaramedia.com/2019/02/01/david-graeber-bullshit-jobs-direct-democracy-the-end-of-capitalism/

Fittingly, there is a fascinating section (52.min 30 sec onwards) exploring Graeber's new book project about how much of the enlightenment thinking of pre-revolutionary France was either a pilfering of, or a reaction to, the ideas of social organisation coming from pre-European Americans.

DunGroanin says Feb, 1, 2019

The Graun seems to have been anti-Chavez from the get go. With a set of 'journalists' who seem to jave made it their lifes work to reverse that democratic revolution. It is not easy to find their biogs.
Johan Meyer says Jan, 31, 2019
This whole business of "recognizing a president" not yet in power has a precedent: Rwanda.

When the bUgandan army invaded Rwanda (with US, Canadian, British and Belgian backing) in 1990 (1 October), or in propaganda terms, the RPA started its "liberation," the US moved its embassy to Mulindi, and sent the bUgandan chief of intelligence from his IMET junket at Fort Leavenworth, to take over in northern Rwanda. I refer to Paul Kagame.

International institutions also started to deal with Mulindi, rather than Kigali. Accusations of genocide within a year

Glasshopper says Jan, 31, 2019
Loathsome though he is, Bolton is probably the only honest neocon around. In Iraq, while the likes of Blair were banging on about 45 minutes, human rights and democracy etc, Bolton always made it clear that is was simply a matter of US interests. AKA Oil. He has never pretended to represent anything but rapacious US self interest.

Fair play. At least you know what you're getting with that tash.

Stonky says Jan, 31, 2019
Prior to being assigned to Latin America, Phillips was the Guardian's China correspondent for five years or so. His task, which he diligently accomplished, was to produce a couple of articles a week on "Why China Is No Good" . I don't think he ever once found anything positive to say about the place.

As an individual he's a complete Jodrell, but there are few to compare with him in his ability to relentlessly toe the Washington neocon line. You couldn't get a fag paper in between him and Luke Harding. I wonder if he's paid for it, or whether it's just that seductive sense of 'belonging' that comes from rubbing shoulders with really powerful people .

Tim Jenkins says Jan, 31, 2019
Principally, the principles , better said the absence of statute & principle in Law, behind mass surveillance, was what Snowden was desperate to highlight and that the public's principal concern of the Guardian's hard drives, were the least of our problems, legally speaking , coz' other copies existed already elsewhere, anyway

OFFG could always ask Glen Greenwald to explain why he ceased to 'copulate' with the Guardian and maybe even 'intercept' an opinion or two from Snowden, whilst he's at it intercepting. Indeed , a few extra nails in the Guardian's coffin , could be delivered quite speedily & succinctly , with some professional journalistic exchange of Question & Answer, with nail-gun loaded & mutual benefit would seem to be an all round obvious win-win debate on matters of principle, legal permissions & submissions.

Andy says Jan, 31, 2019
In some ways it is refreshing to have these power hungry narcissists in charge of the US as they cannot seem to not blurt out their naked ambitions, which in this example ftom the ft basically shows kidnap is an agreeable part of trade negotiation.

'Five days after a top executive of Huawei, the Chinese telecoms group, was arrested on a US request in Canada, President Donald Trump said he was willing to intervene -- if it helped secure "the largest trade deal ever made". The detention of Meng Wanzhou, one of China's best known executives, was undoubtedly an incendiary step, escalating trade tensions with Beijing. But presidential interference in the case would send entirely the wrong message about the US justice system -- and about how the administration conducts international affairs.

The US and western allies have legitimate concerns about China's reputation for digital espionage and theft of intellectual property. They agree a more robust stance is needed towards Beijing. But arresting a star of Chinese business -- Ms Meng has been called China's Sheryl Sandberg -- on a Canadian stopover en route to Mexico from Hong Kong is not the way to persuade Beijing to change its behaviour.

Even if the Huawei chief financial officer was held on unrelated charges of violating US sanctions on Iran, the move smacks of using individuals as pawns in negotiations. It is seen in Beijing as Washington rewriting the rules of engagement. Such waywardness and unpredictability from a country that used to portray itself as a pillar of the international rules-based order will tempt China to respond in kind, leading to a downward spiral of tit-for-tat behaviour. Indeed, the detention of a former Canadian diplomat, Michael Kovrig, in Beijing looks worryingly like retaliation.

It may be necessary to take at face value Mr Trump's claims that he was unaware of the US extradition application, and of the detention itself -- which occurred on the day he was holding talks on a trade truce with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires. Had he known, even Mr Trump seems unlikely to have been cynical enough not to mention the arrest to Mr Xi. Presidential ignorance, however, offers little reassurance.

That Mr Trump would not be notified of such a sensitive case by his justice department strengthens the impression of a dysfunctional administration, whose different arms pursue their agendas with little co-ordination, if not in open competition. It strains credibility that his recent presidential predecessors would have been left in the dark in similar situations. The Huawei incident comes in the same week that John Kelly's departure as chief of staff seemed to confirm the extent to which the Trump White House defies conventional management.

The president's offer to do "whatever's good for this country" regarding Ms Meng's case reflects a dealmaker's desire to put his talks with Mr Xi back on track, while extracting whatever advantage he can. But it amounts, in effect, to saying he is holding the Huawei CFO hostage as a trade negotiating chip. The situation carries echoes of the White House's reversal in July of a seven-year executive ban on ZTE, the Chinese telecoms equipment maker, on purchasing critical equipment from the US, in what appeared a tactical concession to Beijing.

Presidential interference in Ms Meng's case would send a worse signal: that rule of law in the US is a function of the whim of the chief executive, or that illegal behaviour can be up for negotiation. It risks creating an impression that there is little difference between America's judicial system and that of, say, Turkey -- or indeed China. The Huawei executive's detention was damaging. It is, however, not for the White House, but for independent courts in Canada and -- if Ms Meng is extradited -- the US to determine what happens next.'

lundiel says Jan, 31, 2019
It all depends on your acceptance of "legality" of American sanctions on Iran. I don't, therefore American action against Ms Meng imo is political and nothing to do with the rule of law. Mr Trump's opinions are irrelevant.
Jen says Jan, 31, 2019
President Trump's comments and opinions as expressed on Twitter will become relevant in Sabrina Meng's court case. Her legal defence could use Trump's opinions as evidence that her arrest was politically motivated and therefore she should not be extradited.

Canadian PM Justin Bieber Trudeau sacked the Ambassador to China for saying this and expressing other opinions, among them Canada's view as to whether the current (and new) US sanctions on Iran are binding on Canada.

harry stotle says Jan, 31, 2019
Just to add I see the US are sending their finest war criminals to 'help' Venezuela.

Elliot Abrams really is a piece of work -- perhaps not everybody realises quite how bad this guy is.

Absolutely shocking allegations here.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/IrcT3GJuh0A?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Kathy says Jan, 31, 2019
The hypocrisy of the MSM in all this is yet again. So blatant it is sickening. At the same time as Yemen is being battered by bombs with the Wests names on them. Deliberately starved to death. With Western MSM indifference. Not to even mention. All the other countries Western powers have illegally devastated. The hand ringing over the plight of the Venezuelan people under Maduro is suddenly more then they can all bare. Western sanctioning and deliberate sabotage by the West against the country. Undermining any chance of peace. Don't get a peep of a mention by the MSM.
Here we go again. Roll up roll up. This is the latest hypocritical propaganda media show. Maduro is evil we must save his country from this evil. Saintly peace bringing Western alliance must save Venezuela. All that's needed is a more pliant Western puppet or chaos and civil war. Oil Opps sorry shh don't mention the oil. Does any one really buy into this deranged demented narrative any more. For gods sake how many more times do we have to say. NO NOT IN MY NAME.
Yarkob says Jan, 31, 2019
This is good: https://grayzoneproject.com/2019/01/29/the-making-of-juan-guaido-how-the-us-regime-change-laboratory-created-venezuelas-coup-leader/

same old characters..OTPOR in particular has a rosy past. Mixed up with DynCorp and the Serbian "police" abuse fiasco

wardropper says Jan, 31, 2019
The likes of Bolton haven't seen any reason to conceal their wicked agenda for some time. They are so sure that their god has made them untouchable.
mark says Jan, 31, 2019
$13 billion in Venezuelan assets have been stolen by Uncle Sam and his satraps over the past few days. Why oh why oh why do countries and foreign individuals persist in keeping their assets in the US/ UK??????. Billions were stolen from Libya in a few days in 2011. Where it all went is one of life's big mysteries. Cameron even stole a boat load of Libyan currency that had been printed in the UK.
Francis Lee says Jan, 31, 2019
Yes, guilt by omission, the preferred mendacity of the MSM. 'When truth is met by silence, silence is a lie.' Yevgeny Yevtushenko.
mark says Feb, 3, 2019
A Parliamentary Committee has been set up to agitate for sanctions against China on behalf of the "poor oppressed Uighurs" in China. Shedding buckets of tears over the lack of "yuman rights." While supplying British sniper rifles to the Zionists to gun down Palestinian kids with dum dum bullets and planes, cluster bombs and RAF advisors to slaughter kids in Yemen.
harry stotle says Jan, 31, 2019
Trump imposed broader economic sanctions on Venezuela because;
*serious human rights abuses (by Maduro),
*antidemocratic actions, and,
*responsibility for the deepening humanitarian crisis.
https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/IF10715.pdf

So definitely nothing to do with the oil, or international relations between Venezuela and other powers that neocons are at war with (wars being conducted in the media, financial markets and on the ground) while the phony who preceeded Trump (Obama) claimed Venezeula posed an "unusual and extraordinary threat" to US national security (which is a bit like Tyson Fury saying he is frightened by a 90 year old woman who is blind and only has one leg).
https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/12885

Isn't there just one soul at the Guardian who will stand up for what is really happening here (as in all other parts of the world where the US has harmed so many people because of its insatiable pursuit of oil and power) -- just one?

I must admit I am not getting my hopes up -- while the Guardian excels at drawing attention to Maduros failings they seem to be deaf, dumb and blind to the geopolitical context in which Venezuela is doing its utmost to escape the tentacles of US-backed neocons in their endless quest for violent regime change.

Maggie says Jan, 31, 2019
Here is a most excellent expose by Jimmy Dore:
?v=whgOvbw53WY

Article 7 of the Rome Statute says US sanctions are illegal because they were not sanctioned by the UN.

So WHY THE FCK DON;'T THEY TURN THE UN TROOPS ON THEM.:
Oh, I know why.. because they are toothless windbags.

Time to sanction the US,,,, NOW!!!

harry stotle says Jan, 31, 2019
Jimmy is an exception.

In general those in the know loath the MSM because of the role they play in backing the gangsters.

"Our own fate as Latin American writers is linked to the need for profound social transformations. To narrate is to give oneself: it seems obvious that literature, as an effort to communicate fully, will continue to be blocked so long as misery and illiteracy exist, and so long as the possessors of power continue to carry on with impunity their policy of collective imbecilization through the mass media. (Open veins of Latin America -- Eduardo Galeano)

http://library.uniteddiversity.coop/More_Books_and_Reports/Open_Veins_of_Latin_America.pdf

Ingwe says Jan, 31, 2019
A good article on the Graun's pro-USA stance on Venezuela. But the analysis in the linked article provides a more nuanced analysis of what's really going on there and it's not just about oil.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/01/30/trumps-coup-in-venezuela-the-full-story/
vexarb says Jan, 31, 2019
Ingwe, I started reading the Counter Punch, agreed it was not _only_ the oil so what were the other motives for U$ Grand Theft Larceny Fraud with Violence? Got as far as this:

"It should be remembered that the Obama Administration had imposed sanctions against Moscow in March 2014 over the Russian annexation of Crimea, and later involvement in the civil war in Eastern Ukraine."

Could not read follow that, because I remember no such things as Russian annexation of Crimea (at least, not since Catherine the Great), nor do I remember a civil war in Eastern Ukraine (though quite aware that the U$-imposed Jewish Junta with their neo-Nazi stormtroops are continually shelling Russian-speaking Eastern Ukraine).

Ingwe says Jan, 31, 2019
vexarb, pity you didn't bother to read further for, if you did, you'd get a rather more serious analysis than "USA bad and after the oil; Russia good and bringing enlightenment to the world" .
Francis Lee says Jan, 31, 2019
Excuse me but where did Vexarb say or intimated that 'Russia was good and bringing enlightenment to the world.' I can't seem to find this.
Antonym says Jan, 31, 2019
Why is anyone sane still reading (or referring to) the Guardian?
RealPeter says Jan, 31, 2019
I think the reason some of us still look at the Graun is that we can't quite believe how appalling it's got, especially when, like me, you're old enough to remember the old newspaper from the time when it had some principles and a lot of good writing. It has the sickly fascination of something you know is really bad for you, like Nutella or reality TV shows. You end up wallowing in its sheer awfulness, unlike, say, the Mail and the Sun, which you always know from the start are going to be barking mad and have no element of surprise.
bc says Jan, 31, 2019
It's pretty obvious Anthony. Because the Guardian, like the BBC and C4 News, presents itself as and is widely regarded to be an authorititative, non-biased news source. Hence it is hugely influential in forming opinion in the corridors of power and in educated society. Opinion that allow bad things to happen and ends up impacting lives. That is reality regardless of comments dismissing these news sources on the internet. And it is why it is appropriate for offguardian and others to try and highlight and expose the dangerous lies and omissions of these wide-reaching propagandists.
bevin says Jan, 31, 2019
It's good for cricket: the best paper in Canada for cricket news. Also for cycling. Since I first began to read the Manchester Guardian for Neville Cardus's famous writing on cricket, I stick with it.
As for foreign affairs, once it has been told by the Foreign Office, who the current enemies are it goes for them. Those who recall the 'good old days' when Latin America and the Middle East, including Palestine got reasonable coverage which sometimes was very good indeed, ought to bear in mind that, in those Cold War days, the main enemy was the Soviet Union and it was necessary to be equivocal about liberation struggles. After all, 'we' were pretending to be desperately sorry about the sufferings of the Russian people, and those of eastern Europe, so it was necessary to tone down the imperialist message.
Now the Establishment is dead set on recovering Latin America in toto, banishing alien (Chinese Russian) influences and consolidating its base in the western hemisphere.
Here comes the Atlantic Treaty Organisation ATO.
Jen says Jan, 31, 2019
Why is anyone sane still reading (or referring to) the Guardian?

This is like the old Soviet joke: Why are the capitalist nations on the edge of a precipice?

Answer: To get a better view of us down here.

The reason sane people still occasionally read or refer to The Guardian is to see how far gone down the abyss the newspaper has descended.

George Cornell says Feb, 1, 2019
Because the people they represent are the biggest threats to world peace.
George Cornell says Feb, 1, 2019
Because they represent and front the interests of the greatest threats to world peace.
George Cornell says Feb, 1, 2019
Sorry about the echolalia
Richard Audet says Jan, 31, 2019
Can't resist.

The oft-used cliche of the kid (not brain washed yet) saying out loud that the emperor has no clothes amongst a crowd propagandized, hypnotized and incentivized not to see and not to know truth from falsehood.

The role of the MSM it seems is to perpetrate this mass denial. Thanks to kids like Kit and those that support sites such as this other kids are catching on. But, alas we are just kids after all and the grown ups have the power to spank us for such blasphemy. It is a risk we kids take to speak the truth we see. When you see and when you know remaining silent can make you sick (despair, anhedonia, addiction etc.). I'll take my chances with the spanking and say as loud as I can that the emperor is a fucking war-mongering liar and thief.

rogerglewis says Jan, 31, 2019
https://d.tube/#!/v/tonefreqhz/2zkhc50m This Russel Brand film did get a limited general release but was quickly dispatched to the memory hole,

This David Malone FIlm Icon Earth got him into a ton of trouble at the Beeb back in 1995 it presages stage 2 of the Liberalisation process

https://d.tube/#!/v/tonefreqhz/siz03mvr

I have uploaded various things to DTube and Steemit This film from the Guardian is very good and relevant to Venezuela its on Bit CHute and survives on Youtube for now.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/uvnkjQDcIxCD/

https://steemit.com/deathsquds/@tonefreqhz/from-el-salvador-to-iraq-washington-s-man-behind-brutal-police-squads

https://www.youtube.com/embed/0iEhXHITAsQ?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&start=2&wmode=transparent

Gezzah Potts says Jan, 31, 2019
Thank you Kit (and others) for starting up OffGuardian. Its a very precious place to vent, and to read the very enlightened, highly informative, and at times profound comments of all the other commenters here. Have made numerous comments about the situation in Venezuela on other recent stories here, so not going to keep repeating myself. Regards the state of the World: surreal and orwellian and just plain bonkers much of the time seems to be the case. At least Bolton was honest in stating the bleedin obvious, which anyone with even one eye open already knew. Thanks for your work.
Loverat says Jan, 31, 2019
Indeed. I came across Off Guardian not long ago and I'm highly impressed by the quality. A site to vent -- yes but that's just a small part of it. What is it now -- 3,000 articles published in just nearly 4 years?. A level of committment by its founders not matched in many places elsewhere that I can see.

What I like about this is the quality and depth of the articles -- and the fact each attracts a large number of readers commenting.

I've been looking around various sites lately. It seems to be a mixture of those which produce good articles but don't seem to have the following -- or at least there's a lack of reader participation. Or sites where the analysis is not so good but attract a large volume of comments not necessarily of great quality.

Off G seems to have struck a really good balance which I think means it has more potential to grow further and build on its success.

I wonder (maybe this has been done before) if Off G thought about organising an event to celebrate its next birthday. Might be a good way to raise funds and further interest.

David William Pear says Jan, 31, 2019
I am surprised that the Guardian even mentioned oil and Venezuela in the same story. Did they also say it has lots of gold, coltron, and many other natural resources. Neoliberals just can't stand seeing all those profits going to "waste on the serfs".
notheonly1 says Jan, 31, 2019
Very likely McCain. Fortunately though, he already croaked. There was never a regime change or war he did not support, or demand. The sooner his warmongering Fascist buddies follow him, the better for mankind. I can imagine what "Bomb. bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" would have said about Venezuela. As I said before, Venezuela is venomous to those who want to destroy it. For all American sheeple to understand: The Bucket stops here. Exactly here.
Jerry Alatalo says Jan, 31, 2019
Bolton's casual mention of U.S. oil corporations going into Venezuela and controlling operation of the nation's oil sector, as if it's already a "done deal", goes right along with Pompeo's focused use of the term "former president Maduro" in the psychological operation aspect of the fully-mapped out coup's full court press. Someone famously described the U.S.-led coup in Ukraine of February 2014 as the most blatant, obvious coup ever, but amazingly this one involving Venezuela has even surpassed Ukraine in insane illegal boldness.

USA Inc.'s use of criminal aggressive war as a business tactic since false flag 9/11 resulted in the self-destruction of American reputation in the Middle East and North Africa region. For that reason the attack on the Venezuelan people for their oil was not surprising. Who will stand for peace? People might think creatively and act to prevent any repeat of senseless violence and horror as experienced by people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

Peace.

Tim Jenkins says Jan, 31, 2019
For the record, the "USA Inc.'s use of criminal aggressive war as a business tactic since false flag 9/11 resulted in the self-destruction of American reputation " Globally.

Sorry to correct you, but no matter where I go, my first test of any persons intellect is "What do you think happened to WTC 7 ?" and until you get that sorted , the USA is the laughing stock of the 'brave new world' outside Government & MSM >>> Fact , clearly "you cannot be serious", nor the Guardian nor the BBC nor Die Zeit nor Swiss national Television, nor Le Monde &&& and the whole damn network of partners in deep state crimes against innocent people , to further corporate goals.

to even contemplate something in Venezuela is so absurd , when US Governance is so infiltrated with Deep State Dictators & actors, bolstered by Hollywood >>> get own house in order , before becoming guests elsewhere. This clearly applies to Britain & France , as well, indeed all NATO partners.

Trump is gonna' have a real tough time with Xi, coz' you don't get to insult the Chinese in public & arrest CFO's for extradition , without some form of comeback & consequence and Chinese & Russian Military towards region Panama seems almost assured and the USS Fitzgerald warning ? how quickly people forget the 7 dead ! from just a container ship, lol connect the 9 Dot line -- -- --

The world does not want and never needed policing by the U$A, nor their methods of financial control & strangulation with credit on a scale far greater than Ponzi himself. And as for WTC 7 , this made not only the USA a laughing stock in the minds of all intelligent people, it dragged down & outed the very IN-credibility of every single politician in the western world , who accepted the award winning WTC 7 TonyAndyPandy story for CHILDREN !

it's time we got adults back into politics , coz' at present all we have, without exception, is precisely what George Carlin described in 'a few cultural issues' "Garbage in Garbage out" !

and we can be 100% sure that they are all GARBAGE, because they cannot even recognise a controlled explosion, let alone cooking the history books >>> not even one !

The USA has YANKed all their strings, on behalf of Zion and corporate control >>> fact, not one politician permitted to call a spade a spade or WTC 7 a controlled demolition let alone MSM.

Long live the revolution & evolution of political conscience !

[Feb 09, 2019] Post Coup Agenda Items

Feb 09, 2019 | off-guardian.org

mark says Jan, 31, 2019

Post Coup Agenda Items:-

1. Switch payment for Venezuelan oil from yuan back to dollars.
2. Confiscate Chinese and Russian oil investments in Venezuela.
3. Privatise Venezuelan oil to Wall Street at knock down prices.

Or, as the Orange Baboon himself croaked like a two bit Mafia hood, "Grab the oil! Grab the oil! Grab the oil!!"

[Feb 09, 2019] They had 20 years to diversify the Venezuelan economy and failed completely. The prime example of success in fairly modern times are countries in Asia with national unity and rather authoritarian government.

Feb 09, 2019 | www.unz.com

Matthias Eckert , says: February 7, 2019 at 11:17 am GMT

This interview is a whitewash for the Venezuelan government. While I don't doubt that the described sabotage and subversion orchestrated by the US the Chavistas are clearly incompetent and corrupt.

They had 20 years to diversify the Venezuelan economy and failed completely. Instead of decreasing the reliance on oil exports the increased it.
Most of what was left off the venezuelan agricultural sector got destroyed by handing it to Chavez followers. Similar with almost all other economic sectors. Even the oil production is much lower than it was in 1998 and this is not because of sanctions. They simply didn't invest enough into replacing equipment that got worn out. They had 20 years to build refineries for venezuelan oil in Venezuela, China or somewhere else out of US influence, they didn't.

Matthias Eckert , says: February 7, 2019 at 11:27 am GMT
@Matthias Eckert Same goes for almost anything else. Why does Venezuela still have gold deposited in the US and Britain? it's not like these never seized (not to say stole) foreign assets before.

Just because the Chavistas are enemies of the American oligarchy doesn't mean the aren't oligarchs themselves.

ps. That Anglo habit to start nationalities with a capital letter even when used as adjective is an insult to logic

/lasse , says: February 7, 2019 at 8:11 pm GMT
@Johnny Walker Read Natural resources get its value by the knowledge to create something useful out of them. The economy is human activities, the way we create value by using our knowledge and talents.
As Hudson say Chavez tried to create at mixed economy. Its not an easy task, something that takes long time, e.g. raising the general educational level, infrastructure, health and so on.
If Chavez and PSUV did approach this task good or bad I do not know.
As I understand are Venezuela a country riddled with enormous obstacles to achieve this. It probably needs a high amount of social capital. Add on western hostility that third world countries do this.
The prime example of success in fairly modern times are countries in Asia with national unity and rather authoritarian government.
annamaria , says: February 7, 2019 at 8:21 pm GMT
@Matthias Eckert "This interview is a whitewash for the Venezuelan government They had 20 years "

-- You are not a child, aren't you? How about the industrial base in the mighty US?
There is also the US infrastructure, the improvement of which requires some $4 trillion "They" (the richest country in the world) had how many years?

Besides, the main point of the article is in a color graph showing % of votes /% of all registered voters .

Look again at the graph, carefully. What are the numbers for Mr. Guaido? Have not we seen enough of "democracy on the march" and other US-led "improvements" and "humanitarian interventions" in Iraq, Libya, and Ukraine?

[Feb 09, 2019] No amount of needle point proof can pop the balloon that is the collective brains of Americans that have a CIA propaganda(via the media) myth inserted in their head that "it's because of socialism!"

Notable quotes:
"... When you stand up to a bully, you don't need to win, but to prove it's not worth going after you in the future. ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | www.unz.com

Biff , says: February 7, 2019 at 6:29 am GMT

These pro-U.S. policies made Venezuela a typically polarized Latin American oligarchy. Despite being nominally rich in oil revenue, its wealth was concentrated in the hands of a pro-U.S. oligarchy that let its domestic development be steered by the World Bank and IMF.

No amount of needle point proof can pop the balloon that is the collective brains of Americans that have a CIA propaganda(via the media) myth inserted in their head that "it's because of socialism!" Venezuela is in economic turmoil.
Other CIA created myths(that happen to work):
"They need democracy restored"
"They need our help"
"They have weapons of mass destruction"
"They harbor terrorists"
"They peddle fake news"
"They hack our elections"
Etc .
Collect your own, and trade them with your friends.

Miro23 , says: February 7, 2019 at 7:11 am GMT

At least China and Russia can provide an alternative bank clearing mechanism to SWIFT, so that Venezuela can bypass the U.S. financial system and keep its assets from being grabbed at will by U.S. authorities or bondholders. And of course, they can provide safe-keeping for however much of Venezuela's gold it can get back from New York and London.

There's a good general rule here to keep independent country assets and financial transactions away from the US – especially making them non- US dollar based.

This would confront U.S. financial strategists with a choice: if they continue to treat the IMF, World Bank, ITO and NATO as extensions of increasingly aggressive U.S. foreign policy, they will risk isolating the United States. Europe will have to choose whether to remain a U.S. economic and military satellite, or to throw in its lot with Eurasia.

Europe would have to make this choice – and it looks like the European public is in fact already starting to make it – which greatly troubles the US's elite European collaborators.

Refusal of England and the U.S. to pay Venezuela means that other countries realize that foreign official gold reserves can be held hostage to U.S. foreign policy, and even to judgments by U.S. courts to award this gold to foreign creditors or to whoever might bring a lawsuit under U.S. law against these countries.

True. Now is reflection time for any country that holds physical gold in New York or London. Also time to think in general about reserves held in US dollars (Treasury bonds).

Being a Roman Catholic country, Venezuela might ask for papal support for a debt write-down and an international institution to oversee the ability to pay by debtor countries without imposing austerity, emigration, depopulation and forced privatization of the public domain.

Whatever happens Venezuela is going to get austerity, but it could be a difficult self respecting and self sufficient kind, excluding the US (the primary source of its problems) and taking assistance from any friends that it may have.

HiHo , says: February 7, 2019 at 9:36 am GMT
Another Saker article that ignores the elephant in the room completely

Looking ahead, therefore, China, Russia, Iran and other countries need to set up a new international court to adjudicate the coming diplomatic crisis and its financial and military consequences. Such a court – and its associated international bank as an alternative to the U.S.-controlled IMF and World Bank – needs a clear ideology to frame a set of principles of nationhood and international rights with power to implement and enforce its judgments.

A great idea but the world banks are NOT US controlled. They are run by the Rothschilds, and until writers like Saker face up to this fact the problems will not be resolved. Rothschild has to be dealt with, put out of business and closed down permanently.

Michael Kenny , says: February 7, 2019 at 10:46 am GMT
What Mr Hudson's answers make clear is that Putin is increasingly bogged down in yet another fight, a fight which Mr Hudson tacitly believes to be unwinnable.
McBride , says: February 7, 2019 at 9:55 pm GMT
@Michael Kenny Putin does not need to win, only impose more pain on the US than he himself suffers. If Maduro stays in power, that is a big win for Russia and further proves their ability to stand up the US of A.

Venezuela would prove Syria was not just luck but the start of a changing tide. If Guaido eventually takes power, it will have costed the US much more now that Russia is there.

A couple old planes and 400 Russian special forces means that the US needed to put 5000 troops in Colombia.

When you stand up to a bully, you don't need to win, but to prove it's not worth going after you in the future.

[Feb 08, 2019] How Chrystia Freeland Organized Donald Trump's Coup in Venezuela by Eric Zuesse

The key question is how strong is Maduro support within Venezuela? When oil is in stake, imperial powers usually take gloves off pretty quickly.
All this rhetoric of Eric Zuesse does not answer the key question: does Maduro movement propose sustainable alternative to neoliberalism in Venezuela and has unwavering support of armed forces and population in view of this externally driven aggression? Because if the model is unsustainable (iether for internal or external reasons -- presence of neoliberal 3000 pound guerilla on the continent) it will eventually be crushed. What is the plan and what Maduro is trying to built? Left government in several other countries of LA were recently deposed by openly neoliberal puppets: Argentina and Brazil are two recent examples.
"Progressive regimes" all run into problems in economics (which are given due to neocolonial nature of the current World order) which in turn creates social problems and the precondition for neoliberal coup d'état sponsored from Washington. So there is a Neoliberal Catch 22 for all countries who want to excape dependence on the USA: neoliberals new order guarantee that economic condition of peripheral countries do not improve; that creates social discontent that allows to propose population a neoliberal carrot -- elect a neoliberal leader and your standard of living "soon" will be like in the USA. neoliberal coup d'état can now succeed. Further impoverishing follows but it is too late -- the train has left the station.
While convention to to more extreme version of neoliberalism does not solve the problems in economics (Argentina here is nice example of "What happens next after neoliberals came back to power") and impoverishment of population is given. But at the same time the civil war is prevented and the support of the USA guarantee a certain period of political stability.
In other words this struggle is about alternatives to neoliberalism and anti-neoliberal governments have a huge handicap in a form of the USA presence on the continent. It looks like Canada is just another neoliberal puppet of the USA in this game/
Notable quotes:
"... Venezuelan soldiers have blocked the crossing ahead of a delivery arranged by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself interim president ..."
Feb 08, 2019 | off-guardian.org
8 August 2017 in order to overthrow and replace Venezuela's current President Nicolás Maduro. She stated in her February 5th announcement :

Today, we have been joined by our Lima Group partners, from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Saint Lucia. We have also been joined in our conversations with our partners from other countries, for this Lima Group ministerial meeting. These include Ecuador, the European Union, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States."

She, along with U.S. President Donald Trump, had, all along, been the actual leaders of this international diplomatic effort, to violate the Venezuelan Constitution blatantly , so as to perpetrate the coup in Venezuela. Her active effort to replace Venezuela's Government began with her formation of the Lima Group, nearly two years ago.

Canada's Ottawa Citizen headlined on 19 August 2017, "Choosing Danger" , and their reporter Peter Hum interviewed Canada's Ambassador to Venezuela, Ben Rowswell, who was then retiring from the post. Rowswell said that Venezuelans who wanted an overthrow of their Government would continue to have the full support of Canada's Government : "'I think that some of them were sort of anx­ious that it (the em­bassy's support for hu­man rights and democ­racy in Venezuela) might not con­tinue after I left,' Rowswell said. 'I don't think they have any­thing to worry about be­cause Minister (of Foreign Affairs Chrystia) Freeland has Venezuela way at the top of her priority list.'"

Maybe it wasn't yet at the top of Trump's list, but it was at the top of hers. And she and Trump together chose whom to replace Venezuela's President, Nicholas Maduro, by: Juan Guaido . Guaido had secretly courted other Latin American leaders for this, just as Freeland had already done, by means of her secretly forming the Lima Group.

On 25 January 2019, the AP bannered "AP Exclusive: Anti-Maduro coalition grew from secret talks" and reported that the man who now claims to be Venezuela's legitimate President (though he had never even run for that post), Juan Guaido, had secretly visited foreign countries in order to win their blessings for what he was planning:

In mid-December, Guaido quietly traveled to Washington, Colombia and Brazil to brief officials on the opposition's strategy of mass demonstrations to coincide with Maduro's expected swearing-in for a second term on Jan. 10 in the face of widespread international condemnation, according to exiled former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, an ally.

Playing a key role behind the scenes was Lima Group member Canada, whose Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to Guaido [9 January 2019] the night before Maduro's swearing-in ceremony [on 10 January 2019] to offer her government's support should he confront the socialist leader [Maduro], the Canadian official said. Also active was Colombia, which shares a border with Venezuela and has received more than two million migrants fleeing economic chaos, along with Peru and Brazil's new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

To leave Venezuela, he sneaked across the lawless border with Colombia, so as not to raise suspicions among immigration officials who sometimes harass opposition figures at the airport and bar them from traveling abroad, said a different anti-government leader, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss security arrangements.

During the last days in office of Canada's Ambassador to Venezuela Rowswell, U.S. President Donald Trump went public with his overt threat to invade Venezuela. On 11 August 2017, McClatchy's Miami Herald bannered "Trump was making friends in Latin America -- before he raised Venezuela 'military option'" , and Patricia Mazzei reported that "President Donald Trump's unexpected suggestion Friday that he might rely on military force to deal with Venezuela's pressing political crisis was an astonishing statement that strained not only credulity but also the White House's hard-won new friendships in Latin America."

Even a spokesperson from the Atlantic Council (which is the main PR agency for NATO) was quoted as saying that "U.S. diplomats, after weeks of carefully building the groundwork for a collective international response, suddenly find their efforts completely undercut by a ridiculously over the top and anachronistic assertion. It makes us look imperialistic and old-time. This is not how the U.S. has behaved in decades!" However, Peru's Foreign Minister, Ricardo Luna, was just as eager for a coup in Venezuela as were Trump and Freeland.

On 26 October 2017, Peru's Gestion TV reported that Luna was the co-chair of the meeting of the Lima Group in Toronto, which Freeland chaired, and that (as translated into English here) "Luna added that the objective of the meeting of the Group of Lima 'is to create a propitious situation' so that the regime of Nicolás Maduro 'feels obligated to negotiate' not only an exit to the crisis, 'but also an exit to his own regime'."

This gang was going to make Maduro an offer that he couldn't refuse. So, the Lima Group, which was founded by Luna and by Freeland, was taking the initiative as much and as boldly as Trump was, regardless of what NATO might think about it. The topic of that news-report, and its headline, was "Peru proposes Grupo de Lima to involve the UN to face the Venezuelan crisis." Four days later, Freeland and Luna met privately at the U.N., in New York, with the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.

Inner City Press reported that "The title of the meeting is 'the situation in Venezuela and efforts by regional organizations to resolve the crisis per Chapter VIII of the UN Charter' [see it here ] and the briefer will be not USG [Under Secretary General] Jeffrey Feltman but his Assistant, ASG [Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs] Miroslav Jenca."

Jeffrey Feltman was the person who, in the secretly recorded 27 January 2014 phone-conversation in which U.S. President Barack Obama's agent, Victoria Nuland -- planning and overseeing the February 2014 coup that overthrew Ukraine's democratically elected President -- instructed the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, that, after Ukraine's President is ousted, Arseniy "Yats" Yatsenyuk was to be appointed as Ukraine's 'interim' leader as the new Prime Minister, to replace the President. She also said :

"I talked to Jeff Feltman this morning; he had a new name for the UN guy Robert Serry. He's now gotten both Serry and Ban ki-Moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. That would be great, I think, to help glue this thing, and to have the UN help glue it, and, you know, fuck the EU."

So, the still Under Secretary General of the U.N, Mr. Feltman, is still America's fixer there, who "glues" whatever the U.S. President orders the U.N. to do, and his Assistant was filling in for him that day. Therefore, if Trump and Freeland turn out to be as successful as Obama was, then the U.N. will "glue" the outcome. Chrystia Freeland happens also to be a friend of Victoria Nuland, and a passionate supporter of her coup in Ukraine.

... ... ...

Of course, the man whom the U.S. and Canadian regimes and the Lima Group are trying to install as Venezuela's President, Juan Guaido, had been well-groomed for that job, but not by political and electoral experience, of which he has almost none, but by his foreign sponsors. On 29 January 2019 the Gray Zone Project bannered "The Making of Juan Guaidó: How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela's Coup Leader" , and their two star investigative journalists, Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal, opened: "Juan Guaidó is the product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington's elite regime change trainers. While posing as a champion of democracy, he has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization."

This report also noted that "The 'real work' began two years later, in 2007, when Guaidó graduated from Andrés Bello Catholic University of Caracas. He moved to Washington, DC to enroll in the Governance and Political Management Program at George Washington University, under the tutelage of Venezuelan economist Luis Enrique Berrizbeitia, one of the top Latin American neoliberal economists. Berrizbeitia is a former executive director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) [and the IMF is a central part the operation that's described in John Perkins's now-classic Confessions of an Economic Hit Man] who spent more than a decade working in the Venezuelan energy sector, under the old oligarchic regime that was ousted by Chávez."

Moreover, "Stratfor and CANVAS – key advisors of Guaidó and his anti-government cadre – devised a shockingly cynical plan to drive a dagger through the heart of the Bolivarian revolution. The scheme hinged on a 70% collapse of the country's electrical system by as early as April 2010." Etc. This is how 'democracy' now functions. It's not democracy -- it is fascism. The euphemisms for it are "neoliberalism" and "neoconservatism."

Regardless of whether or not the Trump-Freeland-Luna program for Venezuela succeeds, democracy and human rights won't be advanced by it; but, if it succeeds, the fortunes of US-and-allied billionaires will be . It's part of their global privatization program .

Sidebar: If you want to understand what was the historical context where Inner City Press reported that "The title of the meeting is 'the situation in Venezuela and efforts by regional organizations to resolve the crisis per Chapter VIII of the UN Charter'" ; then Luk Van Langenhove has summarized that context , by saying:

Few invocations of Chapter VIII's provisions were made during the cold war period. But when the bipolar world system collapsed and spawned new global security threats, the explosion of local and regional armed conflicts provoked a renewed interest in regional organizations and their role in the maintenance of regional peace and security. The United Nations was forced to acknowledge its inability to solely bear the responsibility for providing peace and security worldwide."

So, "during the cold war period," this provision of the UN Charter remained virtually inactive. Then, suddenly, after 1991, when the Soviet Union and its communism and its Warsaw Pact military alliance to counter America's NATO military alliance, all ended (with no concessions being made on the American side ), America could no longer use 'communism' as a 'justification' to invade or perpetrate coups against foreign governments that were friendly toward or else allied with Russia.

So, now, this provision of the U.N.'s Charter became activated by the U.S. and its allies, in order to be able to say that The West's coups and invasions aren't actually to build-out the U.S. empire, but are instead for (in the terms of this part of the U.N.'s Charter) "the maintenance of international peace and security" -- so as to 'authorize' coups and international invasions by the U.S. and its vassal nations, such as are the members of NATO.

This is what U.S. President G.H.W. Bush had in mind to rely upon, when he told the leaders of the U.S. regime's vassal states, secretly at Camp David, on the night of 24 February 1990, that the 'Cold War' would now continue secretly on the U.S.-allied side, against Russia and against any nation's leaders (such as Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi, Bashar al-Assad, and Viktor Yanukovych) that aren't hostile toward Russia, by Bush's saying then to them, that no compromise must ever be allowed "with Moscow," because "To hell with that! We prevailed, they didn't."

In other words, whereas the U.N. had been set up by FDR to evolve ultimately into the global democratic federation of nation-states -- a democratic world-government -- so as to become the sole possessor of control over all strategic weaponry, and thus to become the democratic republic of the entire world authorized to settle international disputes peacefully, the subterranean Nazis and other fascists whom U.S. President Truman and the Bilderberg group represented, were determined that the U.S. and its vassal nations would ultimately become the dictatorship over all nations, the entire world. That's what Ukraine, and now Venezuela, and many other U.S. coups and invasions, are -- and have been -- really about. It's about the 'peace' of the graveyard, NOT any democracy, anywhere at all.

That's their dream. They want to monopolize the corruption everywhere, not to end it, anywhere. And that's why they distort and blatantly lie about Venezuela's democratic constitution now , just as they did about Ukraine's democratic constitution in February 2014. It's, essentially, a lawless international gang of billionaire thugs. It is the international Deep State . It consists of the under 2,000 people who are international billionaires in the U.S. and secondarily in the U.S.-allied countries, and of those billionaires' millions of hirees. 585 of those under-2,000 are Americans .

But the wealthiest person on the planet isn't even listed on any of the standard lists of billionaires, and he is the King of Saudi Arabia . That person is the U.S. aristocracy's #1 international ally, because ever since the 1970s when gold no longer backed the U.S. dollar but instead oil did, that person's decisions have enabled the U.S. dollar to continue as being the world's reserve currency, no matter how big the U.S. economy's trade deficits are, and no matter how high the U.S. Government's fiscal deficits are.

Below those billionaires (and trillionaire), and below their millions of hirees, are the billions of serfs; and, below those, at the very bottom, are the approximately 40 million slaves , and the many millions imprisoned -- virtually all of whom have extremely low (if any) net worth at all, since slavery and imprisonment are, in the real world, only for the very poor, not at all for the international gangsters, except for a very few exceptions (such as, perhaps, "El Chapo").

The billionaires command, and the governments obey; that's 'democracy', and it's 'the rule of law', today. Everything to the contrary is propaganda, such as that what Trump-Freeland-Luna want for Venezuela is to decrease corruption and to increase democracy and human rights.

At least the more blatant fascist John Bolton was honest when he said on January 28th : "It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela." But he would have been lots more honest if he had acknowledged, instead, that "It will make a big difference to the United States billionaires economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela."

This is all that the fascists ever really cared about. Mussolini called it "corporationism." Now, decades in the wake of the Allies' supposed 'victory against fascism' -- against the Axis powers -- in WW II, we all (at least the realists) are acknowledging that we clearly are staring in the face the raw fact that fascism has finally won, or at least very nearly totally won, in the world.

Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito, died; but their ideological followers today rule the world, and FDR would be turning in his grave.

  1. tutisicecream

    Unfortunately the Orange one is being wagged again by those who are most seriously plotting his demise and over reach in Venezuela may be just as much part of the plan as it was in pushing him into launching an attack on Syria. It is true that the global elites are at a loss what to do, as the fracturing of the global oligarchies is proving Marx right . capitalist are just a band of warring brothers [brigands, robbers, pirates – all!]. As there is no serious ideological threat to their hegemony at the moment they fight amongst themselves with imperial designs.

    The threat to the imperium is the chaos which ensues when the elite power struggles fracture their hegemony and an uncontrollable uprising ensues. Who shapes that revolution will be central to this. Where it will come from is not evident yet but let's hope it's a grass roots one!


  1. Yes, they will never stop. Just think of this brand-new propaganda lie of Maduro allegedly preventing aid shipment to come into Venezuela. See BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-47143492 : "Venezuelan soldiers have blocked the crossing ahead of a delivery arranged by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself interim president".

    Notice the word "ahead" in this sentence. This word appears because there was never a "delivery" (truck) with aid shipment at the bridge!
    The Venezuelan government ("Maduro") blocked the bridge only because of war-threatening Columbia and USA.
    If you want to send aid shipment to Venezuela you can send as much as you want anytime. Of course you have to respect the regulations of the custom (like in every other country!). But that's all!

    Whets foul with this story?
    Well, this aid "delivery" cannot have been collected in Colombia – and thus being taken away from the people of Colombia, who are much poorer than the people of Venezuela. So it would have to come from other country (USA, Europe, China, Japan). And then you would not land this aid shipment in Columbia (a harbour, an airport), drive it, in hot-humid air, through half of Colombia to the border crossing bridge of Cúcuta. Then cross the bridge and then drive it through half of Venezuela!
    Instead aid shipments for Venezuela would be landed directly in Venezuela – in an Venezuelan harbour or airport.

    "Everything (to the contrary) is propaganda".
    Or "Fake News"! So don't miss James Corbett's "FAKE NEWS AWARD" – https://www.corbettreport.com/episode-351-the-2nd-annual-real-fake-news-awards/

  1. Of course I'm speaking rhetorically: we all know what the answer is and it ain't looking very pretty.

[Feb 08, 2019] The Lima Group International Outlaws New Eastern Outlook

Which means that Maduro movement is isolated within is own continent.
Notable quotes:
"... Since there can be no intervention without the presence of force or threats of its use the actions taken and threats made against Venezuela constitute the crime of aggression under international law. ..."
"... The US and Canada are now threatening the use of armed force against Venezuela. John Bolton stated that all options are on the table and has even threatened Maduro with imprisonment in the US torture chambers of Guantanamo Bay. Britain has seized Venezuelan funds sitting in London banks, and the US and its flunkies are now trying to stop Venezuela and Turkey from dealing in Venezuelan gold, and, to add to their net, accuse them of sending the gold to Iran in violation of their illegal "sanctions." ..."
"... "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations." ..."
"... "refrain from any threats or acts, direct or indirect, aimed at impairing the freedom, independence or integrity of any State, or at fomenting civil strife and subverting the will of the people in any state."' ..."
"... "1. No State has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are condemned.' ..."
"... "2. No State may use or encourage the use of economic, political or any other type of measures to coerce another state in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights or to secure from it advantages of any kind. Also, no state shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed toward the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State." ..."
"... "refrain from armed intervention or the promotion or organization of subversion, terrorism or other indirect forms of intervention for the purpose of changing by violence the existing system in another State or interfering in civil strife in another State." ..."
"... "to refrain from organizing, instigating, assisting or participating in acts of civil strife or terrorist acts in another State or to allow such acts to be operated from its territory." ..."
"... Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel " Beneath the Clouds . He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook." https://journal-neo.org/2019/02/04/the-lima-group-international-outlaws/ ..."
Feb 08, 2019 | journal-neo.org
Politics Region: Canada

3342

The covert and overt interventions taking place against Venezuela by the United States and its allies are a form of aggression and a violation of the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter making the nations involved international outlaws.

The attempted coup against President Maduro of Venezuela may have failed so far but the jackals that instigated it have not given up their objective of forcing the majority of Venezuelans benefiting from the Bolivarian revolution begun by President Chavez, back to the misery the revolution is trying to save them from. The United States and its allied governments and media, working with American military and civilian intelligence services, are pumping out a constant flow of propaganda about the start of affairs in Venezuela to mislead and manipulate their own peoples so that they support their aggression and to undermine Venezuelans support for their revolution.

We have seen this type of propaganda before, the fake stories about "human rights" abuses, economic conditions, the cries of "democracy," the propaganda about an "authoritarian" leader, a "tyrant," "dictator", all labels they have used before against leaders of nations that they have later murdered; President Arbenz, Allende, Torrijos, Habyarimana, Milosevic, Hussein, Ghaddafi are examples that come quickly to mind, so that the same threats against Maduro are not just propaganda but direct physical threats.

We see the same pretexts for military aggression used and same euphemisms being employed, the same cries for "humanitarian intervention," which we now know are nothing more than modern echoes of Hitler's pretexts for the invasion of Czechoslovakia, to "save the oppressed Germans."

We see the same smug lies and hypocrisy about the rule of law as they openly brag about their violation of international law with every step they take and talk as if they are gods ruling the world.

The United States is the principal actor in all this but it has beside it among other flunkey nations, perhaps the worst of them all, Canada, which has been an enthusiastic partner in crime of the United States since the end of the Second World War. We cannot forget its role in the aggression against North Korea, the Soviet Union, China, its secret role in the American aggression against Vietnam, against Iraq, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, Haiti, Iran, and the past several years Venezuela.

Canada will take the lead in the aggression against Venezuela on Monday February 4 th when it hosts a meeting in Ottawa of a group of international war crime conspirators, known as The Lima Group, a group of Latin American and Caribbean lackeys of the United States, including Mexico and Canada which was set up by the United States at a meeting in Lima, Peru on August 8, 2017 with the express purpose of overthrowing President Maduro.

Canada's harridan of foreign affairs, Chrystia Freeland, stated to the press recently that "Canada needs to play a leading role in the Lima Group because the crisis in Venezuela is unfolding in Canada's global backyard. This is our neighbourhood. We have a direct interest in what happens in our hemisphere."

"In Canada's global backyard?" It's astonishing to read it. Canada regards the globe as its backyard? She manages to reveal a severe case of megalomania and insult the rest of the nations of the world at the same time. Her statement that Venezuela "is our neighbourhood" is almost a direct adoption of the American claim to hegemony and "interventionism" in the western hemisphere as if Canada completely identifies itself with the United States, that is, in terms of foreign policy, has completely merged with the United States.

But, by doing so, the Canadian elite show themselves to be the enemies of progress and economic and social justice; shows them to be the antihuman reactionaries that they are. They also make themselves world outlaws.

Freeland claims that the Lima Group meeting will "address the political and economic crisis in Venezuela," yet it is Canada that, along with the United States that has created the very crisis they are using as a pretext to attack President Maduro. It is they that have tried to topple both him and Chavez through assassination plots, threatened military invasion and economic warfare that has the sole purpose of disrupting the social and economic life of Venezuela, of making life as miserable as possible in order to foment unrest while conspiring with internal reactionary forces.

The Lima Group, began its dirty work in 2017 by issuing statements condemning the Bolivarian revolution, claimed that there was a break down of law and order in Venezuela and attempted to cancel the elections just held which gave President Maduro a solid majority of 68% of the votes in what all international elections observers judged free and fair.

Following the election of Maduro all of these nations withdrew their ambassadors from Venezuela. They did all this while claiming that their actions were taken "with full respect for the norms of international law and the principle of nonintervention" when they are plainly violating all norms of international law and the principle of non-intervention. They are also violating the UN Charter that prohibits any nation or group of nations from taken action outside the framework of the UN Security Council against any other nation.

The Ottawa meeting is in fact a meeting of criminal conspirators that are intent on committing acts of aggression, the supreme war crime against a sovereign nation and people. Intervention is generally prohibited under international law because it violates the concept of independent state sovereignty. All nations have the right to govern themselves as they deem fit and that no nation could rightfully interfere in the government of another. Since there can be no intervention without the presence of force or threats of its use the actions taken and threats made against Venezuela constitute the crime of aggression under international law.

The US and Canada are now threatening the use of armed force against Venezuela. John Bolton stated that all options are on the table and has even threatened Maduro with imprisonment in the US torture chambers of Guantanamo Bay. Britain has seized Venezuelan funds sitting in London banks, and the US and its flunkies are now trying to stop Venezuela and Turkey from dealing in Venezuelan gold, and, to add to their net, accuse them of sending the gold to Iran in violation of their illegal "sanctions."

The hypocrisy hits you in the face especially when some of the same nations in the Lima Gang recognised as far bas as 1826 at the Congress of Panama the absolute prohibition of intervention by states in each other's internal affairs. In attendance, were the states of Columbia, Central America, Mexico, and Peru. Led by Simon Bolivar, the Congress declared its determination to maintain "the sovereignty and independence of all and each of the confederated powers of America against foreign subjection."

At the Seventh International Conference of American States held in Montevideo in 1933, The Convention on Rights and Duties of States, issued at the conclusion of the conference, to which the U.S. was a signatory, declared that "no state has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another." The legal position of the doctrine of nonintervention was solidified three years later at Buenos Aires with the adoption of the Additional Protocol Relative to Non-Intervention. This document declared "inadmissible the intervention of any of the parties to the treaty, directly or indirectly, and for whatever reason, in the internal or external affairs of any other of the Parties." The U.S. government agreed to this treaty without reservation as well.

The United Nations has become the primary source of the rules of International behavior since World War II. The principle of nonintervention between states is everywhere implicit in the Charter of the United Nations. Article 1 of the U.N. Charter sets out the four purposes of the organization, one of which is "to maintain international peace and security," a task which includes the suppression of "threats to the peace," "acts of aggression" and "other breaches of the peace." Another is "to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of people." Article 2(1) goes on to base the organization on "the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members."Articles 2(3) and 2(4) require Member States to utilize peaceful means in the settlement of disputes and to refrain from the use of force.

Article 2(4) states:

"All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

Thus, Article 2(4) prohibits the use of the economic and political pressures and the indirect subversion which is an integral part of covert action.

That covert action is forbidden under the law of the U.N. is supported

by the numerous resolutions passed by the General Assembly which assert the right to national sovereignty and the principle of nonintervention in general, while specifically condemning particular tactics used in covert action.

At the risk of tiring the reader, I think it is worthwhile to reiterate what the General Assembly of the United Nations has stated over and again beginning with Resolution 290 (iv) in 1949. Referred to as the "Essentials of Peace"

Resolution, this enactment called upon every nation to "refrain from any threats or acts, direct or indirect, aimed at impairing the freedom, independence or integrity of any State, or at fomenting civil strife and subverting the will of the people in any state."'

Resolution 1236(XII)passed in 1957, declared that "peaceful and tolerant relations among States" should be based upon "respect for each other's sovereignty,equality and territorial integrity and nonintervention in one another's internal affairs.'

The first General Assembly resolution specifically prohibiting covert action was Resolution 213 1(XX). Entitled the "Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty," this resolution was based on proposals made by the Soviet Union, nineteen Latin American States, and the United Arab Republic, whose draft resolution

was co-sponsored by 26 other non-aligned countries. The declaration restated the aims and purposes of the U.N. and noted the importance of recognizing State sovereignty and freedom to self-determination in the current political atmosphere. The eighth preambular paragraph of Resolution stated that, "direct intervention, subversion and all forms of indirect intervention are contrary" to the principles of the U.N. and, "consequently,

constitute a violation of the Charter of the United Nations."' The operative portion of the declaration consists of eight paragraphs, the first of which makes clear there can be no "intervention as of right":

"1. No State has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are condemned.'

In another paragraph the Resolution precisely defined the scope of its prohibition against intervention, demonstrating the illicit status of covert activities:

"2. No State may use or encourage the use of economic, political or any other type of measures to coerce another state in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights or to secure from it advantages of any kind. Also, no state shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed toward the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State."

Resolution 2225(XXI) reaffirmed the principles and rules ex-pressed in Resolution 2131 (XX), and urged "the immediate cessation of intervention,in any form whatever, in the domestic or external affairs of States," and condemned "all forms of intervention . . . as a basic source of danger to the cause of world peace."

Finally, the Resolution called upon all states to, "refrain from armed intervention or the promotion or organization of subversion, terrorism or other indirect forms of intervention for the purpose of changing by violence the existing system in another State or interfering in civil strife in another State."

By Resolution 2625 (XXV), the General Assembly adopted the "Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations." The Declaration had its origins with the first meeting of the Special Committee on the Principles of International Law held in 1964 in Mexico City. This document asserted seven basic principles of international law, then elaborated how these principles were to be realized. The seven principles embodied in the Declaration were: a) the principle prohibiting the threat or use of force in international relations;b) the principle requiring the peaceful settlement of disputes; c)the duty of nonintervention; d) the duty of states to cooperate with each other; e) the principle of equal rights and self-determination of all people;f) the principle of sovereign equality of states; and g) the good faith duty of states to fulfill their obligations under the Charter.

In its discussion of the first principle – that states refrain from the threat or use of force – the Declaration emphasizes the duty of each state "to refrain from organizing or encouraging the organization of irregular forces or armed bands, including mercenaries, for incursion into the territory of another state." In addition, the Declaration insists that every state has a duty "to refrain from organizing, instigating, assisting or participating in acts of civil strife or terrorist acts in another State or to allow such acts to be operated from its territory."

I can go on listing other UN resolutions stating the same. Again and again the General Assembly hammered home the importance of the principle of nonintervention as a central maxim of international law.

Resolution 34/103 addressed the inadmissibility of the policy of "hegemonism" in international relations and defined that term as the "manifestation of the policy of a State, or a group of States, to control, dominate and subjugate, politically, economically, ideologically or militarily, other States, peoples or regions of the world."' The resolution,inter alia, called upon states to observe the principles of the Charter and the principle of nonintervention. By this resolution it was declared that the General Assembly, "Resolutely condemns policies of pressure and use or threat of use of force, direct or indirect aggression,occupation and the growing practice of interference and intervention,overt or covert, in the internal affairs of states."'

In 1981, the "Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of States" was adopted by the General Assembly through Resolution 36/103. One of the duties imposed upon states by the Declaration was: "The duty of a State to refrain from armed intervention, subversion, military occupation or any other form of intervention and interference,overt or covert, directed at another State or group of States, or any act of military, political or economic interference in the internal affairs of another State, including acts of reprisal involving the use of force.' In addition, the Declaration called upon states to refrain from any action which seeks to disrupt the unity or to undermine or subvert the political order of other States, training and equipping mercenaries or armed bands, hostile propaganda, and the use of "external economic assistance" programs or "transnational and multinational corporations under its jurisdiction and control as instruments of political pressure and control."'

So, there you have it; the law. The world can see that the Lima Gang, who like to use the phrase "the rule of law" in their diktats to others, are committing egregious crimes under international law and together these crimes are components of the supreme war crime of aggression. The Lima Group therefore is a group of international criminal conspirators and the every individual involved is a war criminal. So when the Lima conspirators issue their press statement after the Ottawa meeting, planning aggression against Venezuela, calling for the overthrow, for the head of President Maduro and dressing it up in the usual language of the aggressor, of "human rights" and "democracy" and their fake and illegal doctrine of "responsibility to protect" it will not be issued by nations interested in peace or who have respect for international law but by a gang of criminals, of international outlaws.

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel " Beneath the Clouds . He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook."
https://journal-neo.org/2019/02/04/the-lima-group-international-outlaws/

[Feb 08, 2019] Michael Hudson The Shape of the Venezuelan Economy, from Chavez to Maduro and Beyond

Notable quotes:
"... Interview conducted by The Saker with Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is ..."
"... . Cross-posted from Hudson's site . ..."
"... Maduro's defensive move is showing other countries the need to protect themselves from becoming "another Venezuela" by finding a new safe haven and paying agent for their gold, foreign exchange reserves and foreign debt financing, away from the dollar, sterling and euro areas. ..."
"... The Trump administration is destroying illusion more thoroughly than any anti-imperialist critic or economic rival could do! ..."
Feb 08, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Interview conducted by The Saker with Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is J is for Junk Economics . Cross-posted from Hudson's site .

1. Could you summarize the state of Venezuela's economy when Chavez came to power?

Venezuela was an oil monoculture. Its export revenue was spent largely on importing food and other necessities that it could have produced at home. Its trade was largely with the United States. So despite its oil wealth, it ran up foreign debt.

From the outset, U.S. oil companies have feared that Venezuela might someday use its oil revenues to benefit its overall population instead of letting the U.S. oil industry and its local comprador aristocracy siphon off its wealth. So the oil industry – backed by U.S. diplomacy – held Venezuela hostage in two ways.
First of all, oil refineries were not built in Venezuela, but in Trinidad and in the southern U.S. Gulf Coast states. This enabled U.S. oil companies – or the U.S. Government – to leave Venezuela without a means of "going it alone" and pursuing an independent policy with its oil, as it needed to have this oil refined. It doesn't help to have oil reserves if you are unable to get this oil refined so as to be usable.

Second, Venezuela's central bankers were persuaded to pledge their oil reserves and all assets of the state oil sector (including Citgo) as collateral for its foreign debt. This meant that if Venezuela defaulted (or was forced into default by U.S. banks refusing to make timely payment on its foreign debt), bondholders and U.S. oil majors would be in a legal position to take possession of Venezuelan oil assets.

These pro-U.S. policies made Venezuela a typically polarized Latin American oligarchy. Despite being nominally rich in oil revenue, its wealth was concentrated in the hands of a pro-U.S. oligarchy that let its domestic development be steered by the World Bank and IMF. The indigenous population, especially its rural racial minority as well as the urban underclass, was excluded from sharing in the country's oil wealth. The oligarchy's arrogant refusal to share the wealth, or even to make Venezuela self-sufficient in essentials, made the election of Hugo Chavez a natural outcome.

2. Could you outline the various reforms and changes introduced by Hugo Chavez? What did he do right, and what did he do wrong?

Chavez sought to restore a mixed economy to Venezuela, using its government revenue – mainly from oil, of course – to develop infrastructure and domestic spending on health care, education, employment to raise living standards and productivity for his electoral constituency.

What he was unable to do was to clean up the embezzlement and built-in rake-off of income from the oil sector. And he was unable to stem the capital flight of the oligarchy, taking its wealth and moving it abroad – while running away themselves.

This was not "wrong". It merely takes a long time to change an economy's disruption – while the U.S. is using sanctions and "dirty tricks" to stop that process.

3. What are, in your opinion, the causes of the current economic crisis in Venezuela – is it primarily due to mistakes by Chavez and Maduro or is the main cause US sabotage, subversion and sanctions?

There is no way that's Chavez and Maduro could have pursued a pro-Venezuelan policy aimed at achieving economic independence without inciting fury, subversion and sanctions from the United States. American foreign policy remains as focused on oil as it was when it invaded Iraq under Dick Cheney's regime. U.S. policy is to treat Venezuela as an extension of the U.S. economy, running a trade surplus in oil to spend in the United States or transfer its savings to U.S. banks.

By imposing sanctions that prevent Venezuela from gaining access to its U.S. bank deposits and the assets of its state-owned Citco, the United States is making it impossible for Venezuela to pay its foreign debt. This is forcing it into default, which U.S. diplomats hope to use as an excuse to foreclose on Venezuela's oil resources and seize its foreign assets much as Paul Singer's hedge fund sought to do with Argentina's foreign assets.

Just as U.S. policy under Kissinger was to make Chile's "economy scream," so the U.S. is following the same path against Venezuela. It is using that country as a "demonstration effect" to warn other countries not to act in their self-interest in any way that prevents their economic surplus from being siphoned off by U.S. investors.

4. What in your opinion should Maduro do next (assuming he stays in power and the USA does not overthrow him) to rescue the Venezuelan economy?

I cannot think of anything that President Maduro can do that he is not doing. At best, he can seek foreign support – and demonstrate to the world the need for an alternative international financial and economic system.

He already has begun to do this by trying to withdraw Venezuela's gold from the Bank of England and Federal Reserve. This is turning into "asymmetrical warfare," threatening what to de-sanctify the dollar standard in international finance. The refusal of England and the United States to grant an elected government control of its foreign assets demonstrates to the entire world that U.S. diplomats and courts alone can and will control foreign countries as an extension of U.S. nationalism.

The price of the U.S. economic attack on Venezuela is thus to fracture the global monetary system. Maduro's defensive move is showing other countries the need to protect themselves from becoming "another Venezuela" by finding a new safe haven and paying agent for their gold, foreign exchange reserves and foreign debt financing, away from the dollar, sterling and euro areas.

The only way that Maduro can fight successfully is on the institutional level, upping the ante to move "outside the box." His plan – and of course it is a longer-term plan – is to help catalyze a new international economic order independent of the U.S. dollar standard. It will work in the short run only if the United States believes that it can emerge from this fight as an honest financial broker, honest banking system and supporter of democratically elected regimes. The Trump administration is destroying illusion more thoroughly than any anti-imperialist critic or economic rival could do!

Over the longer run, Maduro also must develop Venezuelan agriculture, along much the same lines that the United States protected and developed its agriculture under the New Deal legislation of the 1930s – rural extension services, rural credit, seed advice, state marketing organizations for crop purchase and supply of mechanization, and the same kind of price supports that the United States has long used to subsidize domestic farm investment to increase productivity.

[Feb 08, 2019] The Inside Story Of Juan Guaido's Big Gamble For Venezuela

Along with the USA there is a group La countries (and Canada) with the specific goal of "regime change" in Venezuela. Much like multinational forces in Iraq. From Wikipedia: ... established following the Lima Declaration on 8 August 2017 in the Peruvian capital of Lima, where representatives of 12 countries met in order to establish a peaceful exit to the crisis in Venezuela.[1] Among other issues, the now 14-country group demands the release of political prisoners, calls for free elections, offers humanitarian aid and criticizes the breakdown of democratic order in Venezuela under the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela.
Notable quotes:
"... Not everyone agreed that Guaido and his Popular Will party should be the one to be pushed forward as "Interim President" but the moment it happened, this forced the opposition to immediately unify behind him, based on the no turning back momentum created : ..."
"... The results of that fateful decision are still being played out in the streets, and on the international stage as countries line up for and against Maduro (China, Russia and Turkey among Maduro supporters, with the US and European countries backing Guaido as legitimate leader). ..."
"... However, the WSJ report closes with crucial bombshell information regarding what it took for the opposition to cross that line, and for Guaido to step out in confidence. What was the key factor in the final push? First, Canada and US allies in Latin America initiated something dramatic... ..."
"... But most importantly, Washington came calling at a key moment the opposition was fractured and still indecisive and divided , in what is a central revelation concerning the anti-Maduro movement's calculations : ..."
"... And there it is -- a stunning mainstream media admission that the political drama and crisis now unfolding in Venezuela, now quickly turning into a global geopolitical pressure spot and conflagration -- was pushed forward and given assistance directly from the White House from the very beginning . ..."
Feb 08, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

A new WSJ report asks what the Hell is going on? in Venezuela and provides new information behind How a Small Group Seized Control of Venezuela's Opposition to make the extremely risky move of pushing forward 35-year old opposition leader and National Assembly head Juan Guaido to declare himself "Interim President" -- precipitating the crisis that's seen the noose tighten around President Nicolas Maduro's rule as over a dozen countries led by the US have declared him "illegitimate".

For starters, the report paints current events as having started with a "big gamble" that was largely unplanned and unexpected within even the political opposition itself, and which further had the hidden hand of the White House and State Department behind it from the very beginning, pushing the opposition forward at the most critical juncture . Outlining the past difficulties of Venezuela's "notoriously fractious opposition" and the deep divide over the question of whether to enter direct negotiations or take more aggressive action to undermine Maduro, the WSJ describes :

When Juan Guaidó declared himself Venezuela's interim president on Jan. 23 in front of a crowd of 100,000 people under a broiling sun, some leading opposition figures had no idea he would do so, say people who work with Mr. Guaidó and other top leaders . That included a few standing alongside him. A stern look of shock crossed their faces. Some quietly left the stage.

"What the hell is going on?" one member of a group of politicians wrote to the others in a WhatsApp group chat. "How come we didn't know about this."

The plan was so risky -- especially to Guaido personally as he had been arrested and briefly detained after his vehicle was rushed by secret police only less than two weeks prior -- that the final decision of public confrontation with the Maduro regime was left entirely up to him in the hours leading up to the Jan.23 rally.

Not everyone agreed that Guaido and his Popular Will party should be the one to be pushed forward as "Interim President" but the moment it happened, this forced the opposition to immediately unify behind him, based on the no turning back momentum created :

Mr. Guaidó himself only agreed to act the day before he declared himself interim president, his aides said. Some politicians -- including those in the traditional Democratic Action Party, the largest opposition party -- weren't told of the plan .

"We didn't want them to mess it up," said one opposition leader who knew of the strategy.

The results of that fateful decision are still being played out in the streets, and on the international stage as countries line up for and against Maduro (China, Russia and Turkey among Maduro supporters, with the US and European countries backing Guaido as legitimate leader).

The high stakes maneuver "was largely devised by a group of four opposition leaders -- two in exile, one under house arrest and one barred from leaving the country" and was predictably immediately denounced by Maduro "as part of a U.S.-backed coup to overthrow his government."

But as the WSJ concludes, "The act of political skulduggery paid off. The crowd reacted ecstatically to Mr. Guaidó, and one nation after another recognized him within hours." Among the "plotters" included Guaido's political mentor Leopoldo López, now under house arrest in Caracas, and Edgar Zambrano, vice president of the National Assembly of power allied opposition party Democratic Action.

Zambrano related to the WSJ that the risk was so high that in the end the "final decision" to pull the trigger laid with Guaido:

Mr. Zambrano, one of the opposition leaders who appeared surprised on stage on Jan. 23, said the possibility of Mr. Guaidó assuming the presidency had been discussed in the weeks before, but that the final decision was in the hands of the young leader because of the risks it entailed .

However, the WSJ report closes with crucial bombshell information regarding what it took for the opposition to cross that line, and for Guaido to step out in confidence. What was the key factor in the final push? First, Canada and US allies in Latin America initiated something dramatic...

A breakthrough came on Jan. 4, when the Lima Group of 14 Latin American countries and Canada issued a letter calling on Mr. Maduro to hand over power to the National Assembly. The near-bellicose nature of the letter surprised opposition leaders, reinforcing the idea they should take action .

But most importantly, Washington came calling at a key moment the opposition was fractured and still indecisive and divided , in what is a central revelation concerning the anti-Maduro movement's calculations :

When Mr. Guaidó should try to assume the interim presidency was up for debate. Some argued that it should happen before Mr. Maduro took the oath. Others proposed creating a commission to challenge Mr. Maduro's claim to office.

As late as Jan. 22, the day before it happened, Mr. Guaidó wasn't fully convinced . He came around after Vice President Mike Pence called to assure that, if he were to invoke the Venezuelan constitution in being sworn in as the country's rightful leader, the U.S. would back the opposition.

And there it is -- a stunning mainstream media admission that the political drama and crisis now unfolding in Venezuela, now quickly turning into a global geopolitical pressure spot and conflagration -- was pushed forward and given assistance directly from the White House from the very beginning .


r0mulus , 40 minutes ago link

Guaido: "Gee I can't wait for all that Western oil money to fill up meh pockets. EhhhrrMMMmm I can't wait to sell out the Venezuelan people to the FED, BoE and ECB. D'oh- where'd my CIA handler go?"

Also, lol at the Journal for this gem " The act of political skulduggery paid off. The crowd reacted ecstatically to Mr. Guaidó, and one nation after another recognized him within hours. " Translation: "Wow- we're SO surprised that the Western vassal states all followed their master's lead by kowtowing in quick succession! Gee whiz- mind BLOWN!"

JamesinNM , 11 minutes ago link

Read the Saker's interview with economist Michael Hudson at UNZ web site.

Scipio Africanuz , 49 minutes ago link

The WSJ has provided the "House" plausible deniability, will the "House" take it, or will the minions sabotage? Stay tuned folks, as we discover who's honorable, who's courageous, and who's pragmatic...

IronForge , 50 minutes ago link

Jimmy Dore Show(Guest Martin and Others) on Guaido.

Opposition have Higher Disapproval Ratings...

https://youtu.be/98pBLXe7Bmk

dirty fingernails , 1 hour ago link

RT is reporting this CIA stooge is considering "authorizing" thw US to attack Maduro.

admin user , 1 hour ago link

Pretty savvy if Trump's team pull it off.

Big ******* mess if it backfires.

1.21 jigawatts , 1 hour ago link

I never in a million years thought I'd ever be rooting for Maduro.

AllBentOutOfShape , 1 hour ago link

This POS is even considering "authorizing" a US invasion, even though he has no such authority.

https://www.rt.com/news/451026-guaido-venezuela-military-intervention/

Further proof this guy is a treasonous little bitch that needs to be arrested and prosecuted by the Supreme Tribunal Court of Venezuela. He's a traitor to ALL Venezuelans by colluding with foreign powers to overthrow his elected president.

dirty fingernails , 1 hour ago link

Lets be honest, sending in the US military was the first choice and all the rest of this has been setting the stage. It's been 2 years, time for Trump to start a war, by the prevailing MIC schedule.

eurotrash96 , 59 minutes ago link

Oh please. Maduro the elected president? He won his election after blocking the opposition parties to take part. Please read the Venezuelan Constitution before commenting. Not any election is valid or democratic. Maduro should be in jail. Guaido is asking for new and fair elections. ... OOOOH how undemocratic!!! I am against foreign intervention, but in this case the 3 million Venezuelan real refugees (10% of the Venezuelan population and not organised political caravans trying to reach the USA) in neighbour countries tips my view. Therefore I support the constitutional president Guaido and any help the international community can give him.

pablozz , 1 hour ago link

Idiot . The opposition boycotted the election as they couldn't win. International observers (usa wouldn't come) say it was fairer than usa elections lol. Sure maduro isn't a saint. He also gave out prizes to collect after voting . But that's not bribing people could vote for anyone and still collect a few foods in a bag

eurotrash96 , 46 minutes ago link

Glad you easily and simply solved the reason why the opposition boycotted, not the presidential election , but the assembly's.

Betrayed , 1 hour ago link

That a boy Trumpy! You got the right FukWits on the job. Bibi and Sheldon are jumping for joy with the addition of Abrams. Now you got your Zio dream team. BoltON, PompAss, and Abram's. Just think what a murderous war mongering team for IsraHell you could have if ya rolled **** Chenney in the mix. Now there's someone who won't **** around getting a Zio war going.

eekastar , 1 hour ago link

Just in:

Guaido is ruling out "authorizing" US intervention

https://www.rt.com/news/451026-guaido-venezuela-military-intervention/

So intervention is immenent and his hands are "clean?"

Betrayed , 1 hour ago link

Get it Right.

He ISN'T ruling out authorizing US intervention.

4Celts , 1 hour ago link

Cheney , the virtue less, honor less, 2 time OUI conviction,electricians apprentice , went as far as helping to murder 3,000 Americans . All so he could impress his societal status ambitious wife . A Rumsfeld ass kissing loser . Spineless goy are 50% of the problem .

LolitaExpressPizzaGate , 1 hour ago link

Brother Nathanael on Venezuela. Short and to the point...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZg1akT24XQ

yMorH , 2 hours ago link

Maduro crimes, Chavez crimes or US crimes! Read this: http://thesaker.is/saker-interview-with-michael-hudson-on-venezuela-february-7-2019/

Whatch this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-8nT_OD0MU

navy62802 , 2 hours ago link

Guaido is obviously an agent of the CIA. This fact does not absolve Maduro of his crimes. But it does show that the US is balls deep in the Venezuela problem.

Zeusky Babarusky , 51 minutes ago link

The US has slaughtered over 60,000,000 since 1973. Wonder how that stacks up against Maduro's numbers?

[Feb 07, 2019] I believe I've found the reason for Canada's active participation in the coup

Feb 07, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

bobzibub , Feb 7, 2019 8:49:59 PM | link

I believe I've found the reason for Canada's active participation in the coup. Venezuela was harming Canadian mining company interests. Haiti redux?
John Gilberts , Feb 7, 2019 8:52:21 PM | link
How Chrystia Freeland Organized Donald Trump's Coup in Venezuela

https://off-guardian.org/2019/02/07/how-chrystia-freeland-organized-donald-trumps-coup-in-venezuela

Canada's friendly fascist Freeland...

james , Feb 7, 2019 8:56:53 PM | link
@50 bobzibub... your link doesn't bring me to the article, but i suspect it is more then just crystallix - the canuck gold mining company - that are pushing for a change in power in venezuala.. as i understand it, there are a number of canuck mining and oil related interests where they would like to exploit venezuala and can't seem to get around the democractically elected gov't of maduros..

looks like this might be related, or the article you were trying to post? an american judge says crystallex can have citgo, lol....

[Feb 07, 2019] Venezuela's central bankers were persuaded to pledge their oil reserves and all assets of the state oil sector (including Citgo) as collateral for its foreign debt

Feb 07, 2019 | www.unz.com

kauchai, February 7, 2019 at 1:51 am GMT

" Second, Venezuela's central bankers were persuaded to pledge their oil reserves and all assets of the state oil sector (including Citgo) as collateral for its foreign debt. This meant that if Venezuela defaulted (or was forced into default by U.S. banks refusing to make timely payment on its foreign debt), bondholders and U.S. oil majors would be in a legal position to take possession of Venezuelan oil assets."

Solid proof that it was the empire who invented the practice of "debt trap" and is still flourishing with it.

hunor, February 7, 2019 at 6:24 am GMT

Thank you ! Made it very clear. Perfect reflection of the " Values of Western Civilization ".

Reaching to grab the whole universe, with no holds barred . And never show of any interest for the " truth". They are not even pretending anymore , awakening will be very painful for some.

Reuben Kaspate, February 7, 2019 at 2:38 pm GMT • 100 Words

Why would the U. S. based White-Protestant aristocracy care a hoot about the Brown-Catholic elites in the far off land? They don't! The comprador aristocracy in question isn't what it seems It's the same group that plagues the Americans.

The rootless louts, whose only raison d'ê·tre is to milk everything in sight and then retire to coastal cities, i.e. San Francisco, if you are a homosexual or New York City and State, if you are somewhat religious.

Poor Venezuelans don't stand a chance against the shysters!

[Feb 07, 2019] Venezuela - U.S. Aid Gambit Fails - War Plans Lack Support

Notable quotes:
"... Qatar's ambassador in Mauritania allegedly offered his Syrian counterpart an advance payment of US$1 million and a monthly salary of $20,000 over 20 years, trying to convince the diplomat to defect and voice support for the opposition. ..."
"... All they need is a couple of snipers to kill protesters and the Mighty Wurlitzer of propaganda will supply the war, to paraphrase William Randolph Hearst. ..."
"... Elliot Abrams seems to be having trouble getting this coup off the ground. He must wonder what happened to the good old days of death squads and contras.... ..."
Feb 07, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

A day after the U.S. coup attempt in Venezuela the U.S. game plan was already quite obvious:

The opposition in Venezuela will probably use access to that 'frozen' money to buy weapons and to create an army of mercenaries to fight a 'civil' war against the government and its followers. Like in Syria U.S. special forces or some CIA 'contractors' will be eager to help. The supply line for such a war would most likely run through Colombia. If, like 2011 in Syria, a war on the ground is planned it will likely begin in the cities near that border.

bigger

The U.S. is using the pretext of 'delivering humanitarian aid' from Columbia to Venezuela to undermine the government and to establish a supply line for further operations. It is another attempt to pull the military onto the coup plotter's side:

[I]f the trucks do get across, the opposition can present itself as an answer to Venezuela's chronic suffering, while Mr. Maduro will appear to have lost control of the country's borders. That could accelerate defections from the ruling party and the military.

Dimitris Pantoulas, a political scientist in Caracas, called the opposition's aid delivery plan a high-stakes gamble.

...

"This is 99 percent about the military and one percent about the humanitarian aspects," he said. "The opposition is testing the military's loyalty, raising their cost of supporting Maduro. Are they with Maduro, or no? Will they reject the aid? If the answer is no, then Maduro's hours are numbered."

A New York Times op-ed by a right-wing former foreign minister of Mexico, Jorge G. Castañeda, details the escalation potential :

According to Mr. Guaidó and other sources, $20 million in American medicines and food will be unloaded this week just outside Venezuelan territory in Cúcuta, Colombia; Brazil, and on a Caribbean island -- either Aruba or Curaçao -- near the Venezuelan coast.

Venezuelan military officials and troops in exile will then move these supplies into Venezuela, where if all goes well, army troops still loyal to Mr. Maduro will not stop their passage nor fire upon them. If they do, the Brazilian and Colombian governments may be willing to back the anti-Maduro soldiers.

The threat of a firefight with their neighbors might just be the incentive the Venezuelan military need to jettison Mr. Maduro, making the reality of combat unnecessary.

This escalation strategy is unlikely to work unless some additional provocation is involved. The Venezuelan government blocked the border bridge between Cúcuta in Colombia and San Cristobal in Venezuela. Its military stands ready to stop any violation of the country's border.

The U.S. responded to the blocking of the road with a sanctimonious tweet:

Secretary Pompeo @SecPompeo - 16:55 utc - 6 Feb 2019

The Venezuelan people desperately need humanitarian aid. The U.S. & other countries are trying to help, but #Venezuela's military under Maduro's orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tankers. The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE. #EstamosUnidosVE

The U.S. government, which actively helps to starve the people of Yemen into submission, is concerned about Venezuela where so far no one has died of starvation? The lady ain't gonna believe that.

The Venezuelan military has shown no sign of interest to change its loyalty. The fake aid will be rejected.

The government of Venezuela does not reject aid that comes without political interference. Last year it accepted modest UN aid which consisted mostly of medical supplies from which Venezuela had been cut off due to U.S. sanctions. The UN claimed that around 12 percent of Venezuelans are undernourished. But such claims have been made for years while reports from Venezuela (vid) confirmed only some scarcity of specific products. There is no famine in Venezuela that would require immediate intervention.

The International Red Cross, the Catholic church's aid organization Caritas and the United Nations rejected U.S. requests to help deliver the currently planned 'aid' because it is so obviously politicized:

"Humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or other objectives," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York on Wednesday.

...

"What is important is that humanitarian aid be depoliticised and that the needs of the people should lead in terms of when and how humanitarian aid is used," Dujarric added.

Rejecting aid out of political reasons is not unusual. When the hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused huge damage along the U.S. gulf coast, a number of countries offered humanitarian and technical aid. U.S. President Bush accepted help from some countries, but rejected aid from other ones :

An offer of aid from the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, which included two mobile hospital units, 120 rescue and first aid experts and 50 tonnes of food, has been rejected, according to the civil rights leader, Jesse Jackson.

Mr Jackson said the offer from the Venezuelan leader, whom he recently met, included 10 water purification plants, 18 power generation plants and 20 tonnes of bottled water.

The U.S. intent to establish a 'humanitarian aid' supply line into Venezuela has a secondary purpose. Such aid is the ideal cover for weapon supplies. In the 1980s designated 'humanitarian aid' flights for Nicaragua were filled with weapons . The orders for those flights were given by Elliot Abrams who is now Trump's special envoy for Venezuela.

While the trucks from Colombia are blocked at the border other 'humanitarian aid' from the United States reached the country .

Officials in Venezuela have accused the US of sending a cache of high-powered rifles and ammunition on a commercial cargo flight from Miami so they would get into the hands of President Nicolás Maduro's opponents.

Members with the Venezuelan National Guard [GNB] and the National Integrated Service of Customs and Tax Administration [SENIAT] made the shocking discovery just two days after the plane arrived at Arturo Michelena International Airport in Valencia.

Inspectors found 19 rifles, 118 magazines and 90 wireless radios while investigating the flight which they said arrived Sunday afternoon. Monday's bust also netted four rifle stands, three rifle scopes and six iPhones.

The pictures show sufficient equipment for an infantry squad. Fifteen AR-15 assault rifles (5.56), one squad automatic weapon (7.62) with a drum magazine, and a Colt 7.62 sniper gun as well as accessory equipment. What is missing is the ammunition.

Where one such weapon transport is caught multiple are likely to go through. But to run a war against the government pure weapon supplies are not enough. The U.S. will have to establish a continuous supply line for heavy and bulky ammunition. That is where 'humanitarian aid' convoys come in.

Unless a large part of the Venezuelan military changes sides, any attempt to overthrow the Venezuelan government by force is likely doomed to fail. The U.S. could use its full military might to destroy the Venezuelan army. But the U.S. Senate is already quarreling about the potential use of U.S. forces in Venezuela. The Democrats strongly reject that.

A Senate resolution to back Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, once expected to get unanimous support, has been torpedoed by a disagreement over the use of military force, according to aides and senators working on the issue.
...
"I think it's important for the Senate to express itself on democracy in Venezuela, supporting interim President Guaido and supporting humanitarian assistance. But I also think it should be very clear in fact that support stops short of any type of military intervention," [Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.] told NBC News.

It is unlikely that Trump would order a military intervention without bipartisan support.

The a clandestine insertion of a mercenary 'guerrilla' force into Venezuela is surely possible. Minor supply lines can be established by secret means. But, as the war on Syria demonstrates, such plans can not be successful unless the people welcome the anti-government force.

Under the current government most people in Venezuela are still better off than under the pre-Chavez governments. This lecture and this thread explain the economic history of Venezuela and the enormous progress that was made under Chavez and Maduro. The people will not forget that even when the economic situation will become more difficult. They know who is pulling the strings behind the Random Guy Guaido who now claims the presidency. They know well that these rich people are unlikely to better their plight.

U.S. politicians are making the same mistakes with regards to Venezuela as they made with the regime change wars on Iraq and Syria. They believes that all people are as corrupt and nihilistic as they are. They believe that others will not fight for their own believes and their own style of life. They will again be proven wrong.


Never Mind the Bollocks , Feb 7, 2019 2:20:56 PM | link

Government shutdown, Venezuela: Donald Trump evolves into the best propagator of neoliberal fascism that tends to become a norm

mauisurfer , Feb 7, 2019 2:27:33 PM | link

Saker interview with Michael Hudson on Venezuela, February 7, 2019
http://thesaker.is/saker-interview-with-michael-hudson-on-venezuela-february-7-2019/
Peter AU 1 , Feb 7, 2019 2:48:55 PM | link
that the US cannot buy any part of the Venezuelan military is encouraging, though the US may be about to step things up a notch.

U.S. military ready to protect diplomats in Venezuela: admiral
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-veneuela-politics-usa-military/u-s-military-ready-to-protect-diplomats-in-venezuela-admiral-idUSKCN1PW1WG

US now has enough bootlickers signed up to the project that there will be no move against the US at the UNGA. 'Protecting' its diplomats will be a big enough fig leaf for the Trump admin.

https://sputniknews.com/world/201902071072214455-washington-decision-intervention/
According to Zakharova, the decision on the use of force has already been made by Washington, "everything else is nothing more than a covering operation".

james , Feb 7, 2019 2:51:13 PM | link
thanks b, for this and all the links to read... i liked your line here "The U.S. government, which actively helps to starve the people of Yemen into submission, is concerned about Venezuela where so far no one has died of starvation?" indeed and as you note in the last paragraph - "U.S. politicians are making the same mistakes with regards to Venezuela as they made with the regime change wars on Iraq and Syria. They believes that all people are as corrupt and nihilistic as they are. They believe that others will not fight for their own believes and their own style of life. They will again be proven wrong."

all these people preaching this kind of crap, must be getting good returns from who is paying them... the other person in the usa, europe and etc - don't believe this b.s. anymore..

Jonathan Gillispie , Feb 7, 2019 2:56:55 PM | link
As I predicted and expected this regime change stunt is already showing lots of holes.
Miss Lacy , Feb 7, 2019 2:57:04 PM | link
Bulletin Bulletin Bulletin. This just posted on RT. According to geography challenged (!!!!!) Pompous Pompeo = Hezbollah is now in Zenezuela. Yes. You read that right. And further more it's an Iranian Hezbollah. Look out.

Here's the money quote: "People don't recognize that Hezbollah has active cells -- the Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America," adding that "We have an obligation to take down that risk for America."

He also is now referring to Guido-chump as "the duly elected president of Zenezuela." Transmutation Does exist. Amazing.
"throughout South America" Wow. A population explosion!

Is this guy Pompous Pompeo very very very confused?

psychohistorian , Feb 7, 2019 3:07:09 PM | link
Thanks for the ongoing reporting of this spinning plate of late empire.

It is encouraging to read that others are standing up to empire in their own little ways that all add up.

From reading comments here and on other sites I am also happy to be reading less BS about Trump being some sort of hidden savior as compared to Clinton II. He is a front for the elite just like Clinton II is/would have been.

mauisurfer , Feb 7, 2019 3:07:59 PM | link
Superimperialism, The Economic Strategy of American Empire by Michael Hudson, 2d edition 2003

https://michael-hudson.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/superimperialism.pdf

Peter AU 1 , Feb 7, 2019 3:13:18 PM | link
Fox news acclimatising their viewers to a military strike on Venezuela. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoHXWdwgH2c
Peter AU 1 , Feb 7, 2019 3:29:54 PM | link
From Hudson's piece linked to by mauisurfer

"Indeed ,the more America began to lose its hold on its noncommunist allies, the closer America and the Soviet Union drew together, precisely to threaten Europe and Asia with what Henry Kissinger called a new condominium, that is, joint imperialism of America and
Russia against their respective satellites."

This is what Kissinger and Trump are now trying to do. Trumps friendliness toward Russia has nothing to do with peace and goodness and everything to do with US domination of Asia and Europe.

S , Feb 7, 2019 3:34:05 PM | link
@mauisurfer #9: The reason your link breaks the page is that it does not have enough hyphens in it. So it stretches the page until there's a hyphen (between "michael" and "hudson"), whereupon the link finally wraps to the next line. This is not the first time you are ruining the page. In fact, we've talked about this quite recently. I will repeat what I wrote then: press "Preview" button before posting, check that everything looks right, only then press "Post". Please respect other posters.
Virgile , Feb 7, 2019 3:52:01 PM | link
Bloody Canada: Cheerleading the Lima Group's Plot to Overthrow the Government of Venezuela
by Maria Paez Victor
(María Páez Victor, Ph.D. is a Venezuelan born sociologist living in Canada).
Guaidó, a son of Spanish immigrants, is a useful idiot, a thug who will be thrown into the trashcan of history for his treason. He does not command any type of institution, not one policeman, not one ministry, no official agency of any sort. He is a president in his own mind and that of the USA Embassy where he is holed out.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/06/bloody-canada-cheerleading-the-lima-groups-plot-to-overthrow-the-government-of-venezuela/
Alpi57 , Feb 7, 2019 4:01:48 PM | link
And this today from RT:

https://www.rt.com/news/450925-pompeo-america-obligated-fights-iran-venezuela/

Are there any bounds to indecency and intellectual bankruptcy of these people? Is there a line, however desperate, they will not cross in order to achieve their goal? the answer is NO. This is a lost country morally, socially and economically. US is a country that needs a direct military intervention.......by all.

These are truly bizarre times we are living at.

karlof1 , Feb 7, 2019 4:15:32 PM | link
At Hudson's website, he gave the interview with Saker this title : "Venezuela as the pivot for New Internationalism?" Spread out in answer to Saker's questions are Hudson's suggestions for the institutions and mechanisms for such a new internationalism:

"The only way that Maduro can fight successfully is on the institutional level, upping the ante to move "outside the box." His plan – and of course it is a longer-term plan – is to help catalyze a new international economic order independent of the U.S. dollar standard. It will work in the short run only if the United States believes that it can emerge from this fight as an honest financial broker, honest banking system and supporter of democratically elected regimes. The Trump administration is destroying illusion more thoroughly than any anti-imperialist critic or economic rival could do!...

"Looking ahead, therefore, China, Russia, Iran and other countries need to set up a new international court to adjudicate the coming diplomatic crisis and its financial and military consequences. Such a court – and its associated international bank as an alternative to the U.S.-controlled IMF and World Bank – needs a clear ideology to frame a set of principles of nationhood and international rights with power to implement and enforce its judgments.

"This hostage-taking [of gold and other assets] now makes it urgent for other countries to develop a viable alternative , especially as the world de-dedollarizes and a gold-exchange standard remains the only way of constraining the military-induced balance of payments deficit of the United States or any other country mounting a military attack."...

"Given the fact that the EU is acting as a branch of NATO and the U.S. banking system, that alternative would have to be associated with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the gold would have to be kept in Russia and/or China ."...

"The best thing neighboring Latin American countries can do is to join in creating a vehicle to promote de-dollarization and, with it, an international institution to oversee the writedown of debts that are beyond the ability of countries to pay without imposing austerity and thereby destroying their economies .

" An alternative also is needed to the World Bank that would make loans in domestic currency, above all to subsidize investment in domestic food production so as to protect the economy against foreign food-sanctions – the equivalent of a military siege to force surrender by imposing famine conditions. This World Bank for Economic Acceleration would put the development of self-reliance for its members first , instead of promoting export competition while loading borrowers down with foreign debt that would make them prone to the kind of financial blackmail that Venezuela is experiencing."...

" Two international principles are needed. First, no country should be obliged to pay foreign debt in a currency (such as the dollar or its satellites) whose banking system acts to prevent payment .

" Second, no country should be obliged to pay foreign debt at the price of losing its domestic autonomy as a state: the right to determine its own foreign policy, to tax and to create its own money, and to be free of having to privatize its public assets to pay foreign creditors . Any such debt is a "bad loan" reflecting the creditor's own irresponsibility or, even worse, pernicious asset grab in a foreclosure that was the whole point of the loan." [Emphasis mine to highlight Hudson's suggestions.]

It ought to be clear that Hudson's proposing a new international financial and political/judicial system to ultimately replace the UN and Bretton Woods created institutions. This is certainly the minimum requirement since the Outlaw US Empire has completely trashed the post WW2 system itself designed. Unfortunately, there's still the issue of containing and disciplining the Outlaw US Empire and subduing it so it cannot threaten the newly established institutions.

Martin , Feb 7, 2019 4:27:20 PM | link

According to the German newspaper Junge Welt the border bridge between Cúcuta in Colombia and San Cristobal in Venezuela, which you mentioned, has not been closed, since it has never been open. The article says, the alleged closure of the bridge is fake news to support the coup. https://www.jungewelt.de/artikel/348717.kampf-um-venezuela-no-pasar%C3%A1n.html

Nevertheless, thank you for your thoughts and information and please keep up the good work!

Posted by: Martin | Feb 7, 2019 4:27:20 PM | link

Mark2 , Feb 7, 2019 4:31:40 PM | link
Found this hope it might be of interest
https://mobile.twitter.com/venanalysis/status/1093324202717913089/photo/1
spudski , Feb 7, 2019 4:38:10 PM | link
Virgile @15

Couldn't agree more - we are such a US flunky. Also, the cbc has become increasingly pathetic and irrelevant - they're getting a good rogering on other sites such as Babble for their extraordinarily biased coverage of everything imperial.

In case no one has linked to it, here's a letter sent to the EU re May 20 elections in Venezuela:

https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/international-observers-to-venezuelas-election-pen-letter-to-the-eu

(Hopefully this is formatted okay.)

Pnyx , Feb 7, 2019 4:51:34 PM | link
"They know well that these rich people are unlikely to better their plight."
This is certainly correct but a terrible understatement. It should read: 'They know only to well out of experience, that the Venezuelan Sucker class will take bloody revenge if they succeed to gain power again.'
kem , Feb 7, 2019 4:57:07 PM | link
hope you are right, b. We will see how resilient the government is when the first public massacre of demonstrators happen which appears to be imminent as we all have seen this so many times.
jsb , Feb 7, 2019 4:58:42 PM | link
Venezuela has claimed to have unveiled a mass conspiracy involving military personnel and politicians trying to unseat the country's government by force, as well as plans of potential U.S. military action.

Britian's navy and marines are conducting military exercises close to Venezuela, the Morning Star has discovered.

Miss Lacy , Feb 7, 2019 5:35:37 PM | link
to Zanon. # 7 Yes of course they are allies. However, you must, I hope, admit that the idea of Hezbollah "cells" all over south america is a wee bit comical. The fact that the two countries are allies does not necessarily translate to "we must take them down." The way His Pomposity puts it, those cells are just sprouting up every where. It's a bit ridiculous.
Madmen , Feb 7, 2019 5:47:35 PM | link
B, don't forget the regime change playbook also involves bribing public officials to come over to their side. Here's any example of how it was done Syria:

Qatar's ambassador in Mauritania allegedly offered his Syrian counterpart an advance payment of US$1 million and a monthly salary of $20,000 over 20 years, trying to convince the diplomat to defect and voice support for the opposition.

https://www.rt.com/news/syria-ambassador-qatar-defection-421/

wagelaborer , Feb 7, 2019 6:52:26 PM | link
All they need is a couple of snipers to kill protesters and the Mighty Wurlitzer of propaganda will supply the war, to paraphrase William Randolph Hearst. You would think that the propaganda receivers would learn by now, with the same propaganda used time after time, year after year, war after war. You would be wrong. I am losing sympathy for the people of the imperial countries, and their inability to learn from experience.
Lozion , Feb 7, 2019 7:29:00 PM | link
@40 wagelaborer. Therein lies the challenge. Will Humanity keep listening to Ole Wurly's tune til the end or will it learn from its mistake and abandon the old schemes? In other words, will Man (and Woman, or course) become sovereign or will he/she stay a slave? Recent developments in Ukraine and especially Syria give hope that Homo Sapiens Ethicus is emerging..
Victor J. , Feb 7, 2019 7:29:38 PM | link
According to military expert Yuri Liamin Venezuela has S-300VM Antey-2500 and Buk-M2E long range air defenses, and Pechora-2M middle range air defenses. T-72B1V, BMP-3, BTR-80A, SAU Msta-S tanks. Noah-SVK, MLRS Grad and Smerch automatic propulsion arms. Su-30MK2 fighters. Well trained ground troops with Igla-S MANPADS and ZU-23 / 30m1-4.

And thousands of armed and well trained militias, expected to grow to over a million strong ( as per Fidel Castro instructions, haha)

dh , Feb 7, 2019 7:34:40 PM | link
Elliot Abrams seems to be having trouble getting this coup off the ground. He must wonder what happened to the good old days of death squads and contras....

>Elliott Abrams, who leads the Trump administration's special envoy to Venezuela, said on Thursday that several countries have offered to take in Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro.

"I think it is better for the transition to democracy in Venezuela that he be outside the country," Abrams said. "And there are a number of countries who are willing to accept him." "Which ones?" Bloomberg reporter Nick Wadhams asked. "He's got friends in places like Cuba and Russia," Abrams said. "And there are some other countries actually, that have come to us privately and said they would be willing to take members of the current illegitimate regime, if it would help the transition." "Can you name any?" Wadhams asked. "No," Abrams responded.<

https://freebeacon.com/national-security/elliott-abrams-number-of-countries-have-offered-to-accept-maduro/

karlof1 , Feb 7, 2019 7:42:08 PM | link
Nice graphic to support fact that "Unlike UK and most of EU - and contrary to BBC repetition - 'the international community' has not fallen into line behind Trump on Venezuela."

Victor J @44--

Pepe Escobar posits there're "arguably 15,000 Cubans who are in charge of security for the Maduro government; Cubans have demonstrated historically they are not in the business of handing over power." They're likely well versed in the use of those Russian armaments. It's also likely that there's a Russian or Chinese satellite in geosync orbit above the region using its sophisticated sensors to detect infiltration attempts, something Central Americans lacked during the Contra-Terror.

bevin , Feb 7, 2019 8:11:06 PM | link
The embarassment of being associated with Trump must now be getting through even to the most fanatical fascists such as Freeland. And the Europeans. From a PR point of view statements such as Abrams' "The time to negotiate with Maduro is long past." Or the original ultimatum demanding elections within 8 days!

Are completely over the top. And likely to be seen as such. Sanctioning members of the Constituent Assembly- the elections to which were uncontroversial-also indicates that what the opposition and the United States want is war, they will continue to turn down peremptorily all offers to mediate or compromise.

If they don't end things soon they will be completely discredited everywhere outside the political caste. Even the MSM are going to find it hard to keep up looking the other way and pretending not to know the most elementary facts.

Circe , Feb 7, 2019 8:24:07 PM | link
Yes, the corrupt Trump and his administration will be proven wrong as were Obama's and Bush's administrations, but unfortunately Venezuelans, and perhaps Iranians soon, will be used as pawns, and people will suffer, their lives will be destroyed as hell is being unleashed on their lives. Meanwhile the media, damn them as well, are useful tools for the Administration, spouting regime-change humanitarian propaganda, just like they did with the Syrian Observatory's reports and White Helmet footage.

Debunking this avalanche of bull is what you do best as demonstrated with this article. Let's not forget that alongside the proxy regime change civil war, a propaganda and mass deception war is waged on the minds of Venezuelans deprived by sanctions and on all of us sick and tired, weary, of the AZ Empire's successive wars. So pull down on to your anti-bullshet visor cause it's just starting again, the worst is yet to come, and so far Russia's hardly around to help with the pushback.

(I see someone unwittingly mucked up this thread misusing tags with an excessively long link making it impossible to read comments. It's even difficult to comment. 😕)

bobzibub , Feb 7, 2019 8:49:59 PM | link
I believe I've found the reason for Canada's active participation in the coup. Venezuela was harming Canadian mining company interests. Haiti redux?
james , Feb 7, 2019 8:52:03 PM | link
@ bevin - i agree with @49 psychohistorian.. the msm is a huge part of the problem.. here in canada, our national outlet - cbc - are a disgrace.. here) is today's fluff piece on guaido and hit piece on maduro... the cbc have become so predictable for carrying water for the empire, that many are getting ready turned off by them.. for a national news outlet paid for by canuck taxpayers, it is truly pathetic.. they need to do hit pieces on this fascist freeland, but instead want to turn reality upside down..

on a positive note, i am quite sure when the federal election happens in oct of this year, as memory serves - the liberals will not remain in power and Freeland can get back to writing George Soros memoirs..

John Gilberts , Feb 7, 2019 8:52:21 PM | link
How Chrystia Freeland Organized Donald Trump's Coup in Venezuela

https://off-guardian.org/2019/02/07/how-chrystia-freeland-organized-donald-trumps-coup-in-venezuela

Canada's friendly fascist Freeland...

[Feb 07, 2019] The US has been working to get to the point of invading Venezuela for a while now

Notable quotes:
"... There are also three or four books written by Anna Lilia Perez with regard to the sacking of PEMEX by the previous 4 presidents. She names Blackrock, the Carlyle Group and numerous Banks in the conspiracy. 60% of Mexican oil was being loaded on Tankers and sold in the Black Market. Google her name and you can get a list of her books. ..."
"... New York Times Article: Mexico could press bribery charges, it just hasn't https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/11/world/americas/mexico-odebrecht-investigation.html ..."
Feb 07, 2019 | www.unz.com

J. Gutierrez , says: February 7, 2019 at 9:33 pm GMT

The US has been working to get to the point of invading Venezuela for a while now. They just needed to wait for 2 things to fall into place. The election of Duque in Colombia and Bolsanado in Brazil. Now that they have these two ultraright wing leaders to provide the brunt of the invasion force, they can begin to execute their plan. There's a youtuber in Florida that has been on top of this plan for a while now, informing his followers.

Here's a link to his Florida Maquis site:

10 steps to understand what really happened in Venezuela

... ... ...

I'll attach a couple more links about Chavez talking about the Jews and the Assasination of Chavez.

Shocking! Netanyahu

... ... ...

The Assasination of Hugo Chavez

... ... ...

Blackstone Intelligence has an interesting video that focuses on articles from The Economists. I will also attach:

How NeoCons are helping the Bankers take over Venezuela

... ... ...

There are also three or four books written by Anna Lilia Perez with regard to the sacking of PEMEX by the previous 4 presidents. She names Blackrock, the Carlyle Group and numerous Banks in the conspiracy. 60% of Mexican oil was being loaded on Tankers and sold in the Black Market. Google her name and you can get a list of her books. There is so much information in her books, information she had to fight in court to get copies. She had to move to Germany because of threats she received.

Today the new president shut down 26 of the 56 shell companies created under another shell company of PEMEX, PEMEX International. The government is having a hard time investigating these company's books because they claim to be private companies. They found a refinery in Texas that they didn't even know existed, that is half owned by Royal Dutch Shell. 200 million dollars a year in business and none of it is shown on PEMEX's books.

New York Times Article: Mexico could press bribery charges, it just hasn't https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/11/world/americas/mexico-odebrecht-investigation.html

[Feb 07, 2019] The key point is, the US actions against Venezuela are not about legitimacy, they are about oil and money. A robber takes your valuables not because you are not legitimate enough, but because he is a robber. That's the whole point, the rest is hot air.

Feb 07, 2019 | www.unz.com

AnonFromTN , says: February 7, 2019 at 10:27 pm GMT

Anyone with a brain always knew that Maduro is more legitimate than Trump, May, Sanchez, or Macron. Now we have the numbers confirming that. Anyone with a brain knew that the Guaido personage is no more than the puppet of the Empire, a nonentity with zero legitimacy.

But key point is, the US actions against Venezuela are not about legitimacy, they are about oil and money. A robber takes your valuables not because you are not legitimate enough, but because he is a robber. That's the whole point, the rest is hot air.

[Feb 07, 2019] Bloody Canada: Cheerleading the Lima Group's Plot to Overthrow the Government of Venezuela

Feb 07, 2019 | www.unz.com

annamaria says: February 7, 2019 at 9:17 pm GMT 400 Words A magical country of Canada, where banderites unite with zionists: https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/06/bloody-canada-cheerleading-the-lima-groups-plot-to-overthrow-the-government-of-venezuela/ "Bloody Canada: Cheerleading the Lima Group's Plot to Overthrow the Government of Venezuela"

Guaido's party Voluntad Popular (VP), is the most violent and right wing opposition party in Venezuela. One of its leaders, Maria Corina Machado was interviewed on the public Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) on Feb. 1. She has openly, repeatedly, shamelessly and in front of numerous TV and radio cameras, urged mobs to violence and she has most recently publicly threatened the life of President Maduro. She has also been invited to speak with Ottawa politicians.

Guaidó and his party carried out the terrible street violence of 2014, which they named "La Salida" (The Exit). It resulted in 114 innocent people being killed. Several young men were burned alive suspected of being "Chavistas". This was the worst street violence ever seen on the streets of Venezuela. The leader of the party, Leopoldo López was jailed, after a long and fair trial with the best lawyers money can buy, sentenced for his responsibility for unleashing this terror and the ensuing 114 deaths.

Guaidó, a son of Spanish immigrants, is a useful idiot, a thug who will be thrown into the trashcan of history for his treason. He does not command any type of institution, not one policeman, not one ministry, no official agency of any sort. He is a president in his own mind and that of the USA Embassy where he is holed out.

And who is the ideological leader of Canada? -- Certain Chrystia Freeland, a proud progeny of a famous Nazi-collaborator Chernyak and an active banderite herself (and, unsurprisingly, a darling of Jewish Community of Canada and Israel: https://www.cjnews.com/news/canada/chrystia-freeland-discusses-her-trip-to-israel-during-speech-at-toronto-shul ).

Exxon Mobil wants the oil. The international banks want the gold. Colombia wants to control or possess the eastern oil rich area next to its border. Brazil wants carte blanche for its big energy corporation. Guyana wants the Esequivo region on the eastern border handed to them – that is, to Exxon Mobil, and Paraguay wants the huge debt it owes to Venezuela to quietly disappear. And it is not a wild guess to think that Canada obtained its recent Free Trade deal with Trump as a quid-pro-quo: lead the charge against Venezuela and you get your deal. And the oil producers in Canada (mostly USA owned) will shed no tears over the destruction of Venezuelan crude production. Make no mistake about it, these are the modern carpetbaggers.

[Feb 07, 2019] Glad someone posted the Economic Hit Man video.

Feb 07, 2019 | www.unz.com

Rurik , says: February 7, 2019 at 6:38 pm GMT

Excellent article.

Just the kind of thing I come to Unz to read, and get a glimmer at the man behind the curtain.

I'll share an anecdote, for what it's worth. Some years back I went into the local bank. The (young and attractive) gal who helped me out, was -- it turned out, from Venezuela.

This was when Chavez was still alive, and after he had mocked the chimp at the UN, talking about the smell of sulfur. I remember being impressed by his antics, and thinking 'wow, there's a guy who not only hates Dubya almost as much as I do, but has the cajones to call the bitch out in front of the whole world.

So I was curious what this pretty (many of them are) Venezuelan girl thought of Chavez, and I asked her.

She did not like him. No effn' way. It turns out her father was a hard working schlep who came from nothing, but had worked his arse off his entire life, to build a second home, and to rent the first one out, as a retirement income of sorts.

Well, according to this gal, the Chavez regime had confiscated the rental home because it was exploitation in their view. So I had to re-think my opinion of this guy, if her story is true. Why don't these commies ever go after the One Percent's wealth? Why do they always go after the working and middle class?

Just an anecdote for what it's worth.

Also glad someone posted the Economic Hit Man video.

The last sentence of this article, (in particular) made me think of that video.

Rurik , says: February 7, 2019 at 6:59 pm GMT
@Captain Willard

But folks thinking we have designs on Venezuela are just nuts

the first thing that's necessary is to define who "we" are.

Because there are two Americas, and we should make the distinction.

First there is the America of the American people. Poor, working class, middle class, and somewhat well-off upper-middle class. These are the "we" that had nothing whatsoever to do with the wars, except to vote relentlessly for politicians to end them, and are always betrayed.

Which brings us to the other "we". The Deepstate scumfucks who bomb and loot nations, when they aren't looting the American working and middle class to fund their Eternal Wars, or selecting cannon fodder from the working class or poor, to act as their Janissaries for globo-domination and rapine.

Joe the Plumber is the poster boy for the first "we", and yes, there are lots and lots of butt-hurt arseholes who would like to pin it all on Joe. He's white, CIS, American and the perfect scapegoat for butt-hurt loser's (of all stripes) hate.

John McBloodstain in the perfect (if rotting) poster boy for the other "we". The Deepstate scumfucks who are just as much the enemy of the American people as they are the enemy of all who don't bow down to the Fiend.

So there are two very separate and very distinct "we"s.

The reason we can be sure the problems being caused in Venezuela are being done so by the Deepstate 'Americans', is because Trump appointed one of the worst Deepstate scumfucks to look after "our" interests down there; Eliot Abrams – a scumfuck of the highest order, and an existential enemy of Joe the Plumber and all Americans of good will.

It would be good if this distinction between the two "we"s, could be made more routinely. IMHO

[Feb 07, 2019] The 12-Step Method Of Regime Change by Vijay Prashad

Notable quotes:
"... Nixon and Kissinger, according to the notes kept by CIA Director Richard Helms, wanted to 'make the economy scream' in Chile; they were 'not concerned [about the] risks involved'. War was acceptable to them as long as Allende's government was removed from power. The CIA started Project FUBELT, with $10 million as a first installment to begin the covert destabilisation of the country. ..."
"... Emboldened by Western domination, monopoly firms act with disregard for the law. ..."
"... Unable to raise money from commodity sales, hemmed in by a broken world agricultural system and victim of a culture of plunder, countries of the Global South have been forced to go hat in hand to commercial lenders for finance. ..."
"... Impossible to raise funds, trapped by the fickleness of international finance, governments are forced to make deep cuts in social spending. Education and health, food sovereignty and economic diversification – all this goes by the wayside. International agencies such as the IMF force countries to conduct 'reforms', a word that means extermination of independence. Those countries that hold out face immense international pressure to submit under pain of extinction, as the Communist Manifesto (1848) put it. ..."
"... The migration out of Venezuela is not unique to that country but is now merely the normal reaction to the global crisis. Migrants from Honduras who go northward to the United States or migrants from West Africa who go towards Europe through Libya are part of this global exodus. ..."
"... Venezuela has faced harsh US sanctions since 2014, when the US Congress started down this road. The next year, US President Barack Obama declared Venezuela a 'threat to national security'. The economy started to scream. ..."
"... This is what the US did to Iran and this is what they did to Cuba. The UN says that the US sanctions on Cuba have cost the small island $130 billion. Venezuela lost $6 billion for the first year of Trump's sanctions, since they began in August 2017 ..."
Feb 07, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Vijay Prashad via Counterpunch.org,

On 15 September 1970, US President Richard Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger authorised the US government to do everything possible to undermine the incoming government of the socialist president of Chile, Salvador Allende. Nixon and Kissinger, according to the notes kept by CIA Director Richard Helms, wanted to 'make the economy scream' in Chile; they were 'not concerned [about the] risks involved'. War was acceptable to them as long as Allende's government was removed from power. The CIA started Project FUBELT, with $10 million as a first installment to begin the covert destabilisation of the country.

CIA memorandum on Project FUBELT, 16 September 1970.

... ... ...

US business firms, such as the telecommunication giant ITT, the soft drink maker Pepsi Cola and copper monopolies such as Anaconda and Kennecott, put pressure on the US government once Allende nationalised the copper sector on 11 July 1971. Chileans celebrated this day as the Day of National Dignity (Dia de la Dignidad Nacional). The CIA began to make contact with sections of the military seen to be against Allende. Three years later, on 11 September 1973, these military men moved against Allende, who died in the regime change operation. The US 'created the conditions' as US National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger put it, to which US President Richard Nixon answered, 'that is the way it is going to be played'. Such is the mood of international gangsterism.

Phone Call between Richard Nixon (P) and Henry Kissinger (K) on 16 September 1973.

... ... ...

Chile entered the dark night of a military dictatorship that turned over the country to US monopoly firms. US advisors rushed in to strengthen the nerve of General Augusto Pinochet's cabinet.

What happened to Chile in 1973 is precisely what the United States has attempted to do in many other countries of the Global South. The most recent target for the US government – and Western big business – is Venezuela. But what is happening to Venezuela is nothing unique. It faces an onslaught from the United States and its allies that is familiar to countries as far afield as Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The formula is clichéd. It is commonplace, a twelve-step plan to produce a coup climate, to create a world under the heel of the West and of Western big business.

Step One: Colonialism's Traps.

Most of the Global South remains trapped by the structures put in place by colonialism. Colonial boundaries encircled states that had the misfortune of being single commodity producers – either sugar for Cuba or oil for Venezuela. The inability to diversify their economies meant that these countries earned the bulk of their export revenues from their singular commodities (98% of Venezuela's export revenues come from oil). As long as the prices of the commodities remained high, the export revenues were secure. When the prices fell, revenue suffered. This was a legacy of colonialism. Oil prices dropped from $160.72 per barrel (June 2008) to $51.99 per barrel (January 2019). Venezuela's export revenues collapsed in this decade.

Step Two: The Defeat of the New International Economic Order.

In 1974, the countries of the Global South attempted to redo the architecture of the world economy. They called for the creation of a New International Economic Order (NIEO) that would allow them to pivot away from the colonial reliance upon one commodity and diversify their economies. Cartels of raw materials – such as oil and bauxite – were to be built so that the one-commodity country could have some control over prices of the products that they relied upon. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), founded in 1960, was a pioneer of these commodity cartels. Others were not permitted to be formed. With the defeat of OPEC over the past three decades, its members – such as Venezuela (which has the world's largest proven oil reserves) – have not been able to control oil prices. They are at the mercy of the powerful countries of the world.

Step Three: The Death of Southern Agriculture.

In November 2001, there were about three billion small farmers and landless peasants in the world. That month, the World Trade Organisation met in Doha (Qatar) to unleash the productivity of Northern agri-business against the billions of small farmers and landless peasants of the Global South. Mechanisation and large, industrial-scale farms in North America and Europe had raised productivity to about 1 to 2 million kilogrammes of cereals per farmer. The small farmers and landless peasants in the rest of the world struggled to grow 1,000 kilogrammes of cereals per farmer. They were nowhere near as productive. The Doha decision, as Samir Amin wrote , presages the annihilation of the small farmer and landless peasant. What are these men and women to do? The production per hectare is higher in the West, but the corporate take-over of agriculture (as Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research Senior Fellow P. Sainath shows) leads to increased hunger as it pushes peasants off their land and leaves them to starve.

Step Four: Culture of Plunder.

Emboldened by Western domination, monopoly firms act with disregard for the law. As Kambale Musavuli and I write of the Democratic Republic of Congo, its annual budget of $6 billion is routinely robbed of at least $500 by monopoly mining firms, mostly from Canada – the country now leading the charge against Venezuela. Mispricing and tax avoidance schemes allow these large firms (Canada's Agrium, Barrick and Suncor) to routinely steal billions of dollars from impoverished states.

Step Five: Debt as a Way of Life.

Unable to raise money from commodity sales, hemmed in by a broken world agricultural system and victim of a culture of plunder, countries of the Global South have been forced to go hat in hand to commercial lenders for finance. Over the past decade, debt held by the Global South states has increased, while debt payments have ballooned by 60%. When commodity prices rose between 2000 and 2010, debt in the Global South decreased. As commodity prices began to fall from 2010, debts have risen.

The IMF points out that of the 67 impoverished countries that they follow, 30 are in debt distress, a number that has doubled since 2013. More than 55.4% of Angola's export revenue is paid to service its debt. And Angola, like Venezuela, is an oil exporter. Other oil exporters such as Ghana, Chad, Gabon and Venezuela suffer high debt to GDP ratios. Two out of five low-income countries are in deep financial distress.

Step Six: Public Finances Go to Hell.

With little incoming revenue and low tax collection rates, public finances in the Global South has gone into crisis. As the UN Conference on Trade and Development points out, 'public finances have continued to be suffocated'. States simply cannot put together the funds needed to maintain basic state functions. Balanced budget rules make borrowing difficult, which is compounded by the fact that banks charge high rates for money, citing the risks of lending to indebted countries.

Step Seven: Deep Cuts in Social Spending .

Impossible to raise funds, trapped by the fickleness of international finance, governments are forced to make deep cuts in social spending. Education and health, food sovereignty and economic diversification – all this goes by the wayside. International agencies such as the IMF force countries to conduct 'reforms', a word that means extermination of independence. Those countries that hold out face immense international pressure to submit under pain of extinction, as the Communist Manifesto (1848) put it.

Step Eight: Social Distress Leads to Migration.

The total number of migrants in the world is now at least 68.5 million. That makes the country called Migration the 21st largest country in the world after Thailand and ahead of the United Kingdom. Migration has become a global reaction to the collapse of countries from one end of the planet to the other. The migration out of Venezuela is not unique to that country but is now merely the normal reaction to the global crisis. Migrants from Honduras who go northward to the United States or migrants from West Africa who go towards Europe through Libya are part of this global exodus.

Step Nine: Who Controls the Narrative?

The monopoly corporate media takes its orders from the elite. There is no sympathy for the structural crisis faced by governments from Afghanistan to Venezuela. Those leaders who cave to Western pressure are given a free pass by the media. As long as they conduct 'reforms', they are safe. Those countries that argue against the 'reforms' are vulnerable to being attacked. Their leaders become 'dictators', their people hostages. A contested election in Bangladesh or in the Democratic Republic of Congo or in the United States is not cause for regime change. That special treatment is left for Venezuela.

Step Ten: Who's the Real President?

Regime change operations begin when the imperialists question the legitimacy of the government in power: by putting the weight of the United States behind an unelected person, calling him the new president and creating a situation where the elected leader's authority is undermined. The coup takes place when a powerful country decides – without an election – to anoint its own proxy. That person – in Venezuela's case Juan Guaidó – rapidly has to make it clear that he will bend to the authority of the United States. His kitchen cabinet – made up of former government officials with intimate ties to the US (such as Harvard University's Ricardo Hausmann and Carnegie's Moisés Naím) – will make it clear that they want to privatise everything and sell out the Venezuelan people in the name of the Venezuelan people.

Step Eleven: Make the Economy Scream.

Venezuela has faced harsh US sanctions since 2014, when the US Congress started down this road. The next year, US President Barack Obama declared Venezuela a 'threat to national security'. The economy started to scream. In recent days, the United States and the United Kingdom brazenly stole billions of dollars of Venezuelan money, placed the shackles of sanctions on its only revenue generating sector (oil) and watched the pain flood through the country.

This is what the US did to Iran and this is what they did to Cuba. The UN says that the US sanctions on Cuba have cost the small island $130 billion. Venezuela lost $6 billion for the first year of Trump's sanctions, since they began in August 2017. More is to be lost as the days unfold. No wonder that the United Nations Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy says that 'sanctions which can lead to starvation and medical shortages are not the answer to the crisis in Venezuela'. He said that sanctions are 'not a foundation for the peaceful settlement of disputes'. Further, Jazairy said, 'I am especially concerned to hear reports that these sanctions are aimed at changing the government of Venezuela'. He called for 'compassion' for the people of Venezuela.

Step Twelve: Go to War.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton held a yellow pad with the words 5,000 troops in Colombia written on it. These are US troops, already deployed in Venezuela's neighbour. The US Southern Command is ready. They are egging on Colombia and Brazil to do their bit. As the coup climate is created, a nudge will be necessary. They will go to war.

None of this is inevitable. It was not inevitable to Titina Silá, a commander of the Partido Africano para a Independència da Guiné e Cabo Verde (PAIGC) who was murdered on 30 January 1973. She fought to free her country. It is not inevitable to the people of Venezuela, who continue to fight to defend their revolution. It is not inevitable to our friends at CodePink: Women for Peace, whose Medea Benjamin walked into a meeting of the Organisation of American States and said – No!

https://www.youtube.com/embed/QS3s9xFhzGc

It is time to say No to regime change intervention. There is no middle ground.

[Feb 06, 2019] South America Venezuela -- The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency

The country is in deep economic crisis with rampant inflation and high unemployment rate. As such it is an easy target for color revolutions...
Venezuela has around 32 Million population. unemployment is around total: 14.6% (2015 est.) Growth rate is negative -14% (2017 est.) -16.5% (2016 est.). -6.2% (2015 est.) . Inflation rate is 254.4% (2016 est.) Exchange rate is 3,345 bolivars per dollar (2017 est.). University professor salary is around US$ 27,449. The cost of living is three times lower then in the USA.
Feb 06, 2019 | www.cia.gov
  • Background :

    Venezuela was one of three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Ecuador and New Granada, which became Colombia). For most of the first half of the 20th century, Venezuela was ruled by generally benevolent military strongmen who promoted the oil industry and allowed for some social reforms. Democratically elected governments have held sway since 1959. Under Hugo CHAVEZ, president from 1999 to 2013, and his hand-picked successor, President Nicolas MADURO, the executive branch has exercised increasingly authoritarian control over other branches of government. In 2016, President MADURO issued a decree to hold an election to form a "Constituent Assembly." A 30 July 2017 poll approved the formation of a 545-member Constituent Assembly and elected its delegates, empowering them to change the constitution and dismiss government institutions and officials. The US Government does not recognize the Assembly, which has generally used its powers to rule by decree rather than to reform the constitution. Simultaneously, democratic institutions continue to deteriorate, freedoms of expression and the press are curtailed, and political polarization has grown. The ruling party's economic policies have expanded the state's role in the economy through expropriations of major enterprises, strict currency exchange and price controls that discourage private sector investment and production, and overdependence on the petroleum industry for revenues, among others. Current concerns include human rights abuses, rampant violent crime, high inflation, and widespread shortages of basic consumer goods, medicine, and medical supplies.

  • Location : Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana Geographic coordinates more
    • territorial sea: 12 nm exclusive economic zone: 200 nm contiguous zone: 15 nm continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation Climate : tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands
    • Terrain. Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest; central plains (llanos); Guiana Highlands in southeast
    • Elevation: 450 m elevation extremes: 0 m lowest point: Caribbean Sea 4978 highest point: Pico Bolivar
    • Natural resources : This entry lists a country's mineral, petroleum, hydropower, and other resources of commercial importance, such as rare earth elements (REEs). In general, products appear only if they make a significant contribution to the economy, or are likely to do so in the future. petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower, diamonds
    • Land use : This entry contains the percentage shares of total land area for three different types of land use: agricultural land, forest, and other; agricultural land is further divided into arable land - land cultivated for crops like wheat, maize, and rice that are replanted after each harvest, permanent crops - land cultivated for crops like citrus, coffee, and rubber that are not replanted after each harvest, and includes land under flowering shrubs, fruit trees, nut trees, and vines, and permane . . . more
    • agricultural land: 24.5% (2011 est.) arable land: 3.1% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 0.8% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 20.6% (2011 est.) forest: 52.1% (2011 est.) other: 23.4% (2011 est.)
    • Irrigated land10,550 sq km (2012)

    Population distribution : most of the population is concentrated in the northern and western highlands along an eastern spur at the northern end of the Andes, an area that includes the capital of Caracas

    Natural hazards : This entry lists potential natural disasters. For countries where volcanic activity is common, a volcanism subfield highlights historically active volcanoes. subject to floods, rockslides, mudslides; periodic droughts

    Environment - current issues Acidification - the lowering of soil and water pH due to acid precipitation and deposition usually through precipitation; this process disrupts ecosystem nutrient flows and may kill freshwater fish and plants dependent on more neutral or alkaline conditions (see acid rain). Acid rain - characterized as containing harmful levels of sulfur dioxi . . . more

    sewage pollution of Lago de Valencia; oil and urban pollution of Lago de Maracaibo; deforestation; soil degradation; urban and industrial pollution, especially along the Caribbean coast; threat to the rainforest ecosystem from irresponsible mining operations

    Environment - international agreements : This entry separates country participation in international environmental agreements into two levels - party to and signed, but not ratified. Agreements are listed in alphabetical order by the abbreviated form of the full name. party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

    Geography - note : This entry includes miscellaneous geographic information of significance not included elsewhere. note 1: the country lies on major sea and air routes linking North and South America

    note 2: Venezuela has some of the most unique geology in the world; tepuis are massive table-top mountains of the western Guiana Highlands that tend to be isolated and thus support unique endemic plant and animal species; their sheer cliffsides account for some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world including Angel Falls, the world's highest (979 m) that drops off Auyan Tepui

  • Population : 31,689,176 (July 2018 est.) country comparison to the world: 43 Nationality

    nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%

    Demographic profile :

    • Birth rate 18.5 births/1,000 population (2018 est.) country comparison to the world:
    • Death rate 5.3 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.) country comparison to the world: 187

    Social investment in Venezuela during the CHAVEZ administration reduced poverty from nearly 50% in 1999 to about 27% in 2011, increased school enrollment, substantially decreased infant and child mortality, and improved access to potable water and sanitation through social investment. "Missions" dedicated to education, nutrition, healthcare, and sanitation were funded through petroleum revenues. The sustainability of this progress remains questionable, however, as the continuation of these social programs depends on the prosperity of Venezuela's oil industry. In the long-term, education and health care spending may increase economic growth and reduce income inequality, but rising costs and the staffing of new health care jobs with foreigners are slowing development.

    While CHAVEZ was in power, more than one million predominantly middle- and upper-class Venezuelans are estimated to have emigrated. The brain drain is attributed to a repressive political system, lack of economic opportunities, steep inflation, a high crime rate, and corruption. Thousands of oil engineers emigrated to Canada, Colombia, and the United States following CHAVEZ's firing of over 20,000 employees of the state-owned petroleum company during a 2002-03 oil strike. Additionally, thousands of Venezuelans of European descent have taken up residence in their ancestral homelands. Nevertheless, Venezuela has attracted hundreds of thousands of immigrants from South America and southern Europe because of its lenient migration policy and the availability of education and health care. Venezuela also has been a fairly accommodating host to Colombian refugees, numbering about 170,000 as of year-end 2016. However, since 2014, falling oil prices have driven a major economic crisis that has pushed Venezuelans from all walks of life to migrate or to seek asylum abroad to escape severe shortages of food, water, and medicine; soaring inflation; unemployment; and violence.

    As of October 2018,an estimate 3 million Venezuelans were refugees or migrants worldwide, with 2.4 million in Latin America and the Caribbean (notably Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Chile, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, and Curacao).

    Asylum applications increased significantly in the US and Brazil in 2016 and 2017. Several receiving countries are making efforts to increase immigration restrictions and to deport illegal Venezuelan migrants - Ecuador and Peru in August 2018 began requiring valid passports for entry, which are difficult to obtain for Venezuelans. Nevertheless, Venezuelans continue to migrate to avoid economic collapse at home.

    Age structure : This entry provides the distribution of the population according to age. Information is included by sex and age group as follows: 0-14 years (children), 15-24 years (early working age), 25-54 years (prime working age), 55-64 years (mature working age), 65 years and over (elderly). The age structure of a population affects a nation's key socioeconomic issues. Countries with young populations (high percentage under age 15) need to invest more in schools, while countries with older population . . . more

    Population growth rate : 1.21% (2018 est.)

    Net migration rate : -1.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.) country comparison to the world: 143

    Population distribution :

    urban population: 88.2% of total population (2018) rate of urbanization: 1.28% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

    Major urban areas - population : 2.935 million CARACAS (capital), 2.179 million Maracaibo, 1.734 million Valencia, 1.178 million Maracay, 1.189 million Barquisimeto (2018) Sex ratio : This entry includes the number of males for each female in five age groups - at birth, under 15 years, 15-64 years, 65 years and over, and for the total population. Sex ratio at birth has recently emerged as an indicator of certain kinds of sex discrimination in some countries. For instance, high sex ratios at birth in some Asian countries are now attributed to sex-selective abortion and infanticide due to a strong preference for sons. This will affect future marriage patterns and fertilit . . . more

    Life expectancy at birth Total population: 76.2 years (2018 est.) male: 73.2 years (2018 est.) female: 79.3 years (2018 est.) country comparison to the world: 93

    Total fertility rate : 2.3 children born/woman (2018 est.) country comparison to the world: 87

    Obesity - adult prevalence rate : 25.6% (2016) country comparison to the world: 50

    Children under the age of 5 years underweight : 2.9% (2009) country comparison to the world: 102

    Education expenditures : 6.9% of GDP (2009) country comparison to the world: 22

    Literacy : total population: 97.1% (2016 est.) male: 97% (2016 est.) female: 97.2% (2016 est.)

    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) : total: 14 years (2009) male: NA (2009) female: NA (2009)

    Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 : total: 14.6% (2015 est.) male: NA (2015 est.) female: NA (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 92

  • Economy - overview : Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for almost all export earnings and nearly half of the government's revenue, despite a continued decline in oil production in 2017. In the absence of official statistics, foreign experts estimate that GDP contracted 12% in 2017, inflation exceeded 2000%, people faced widespread shortages of consumer goods and medicine, and the central bank's international reserves dwindled. In late 2017, Venezuela also entered selective default on some of its sovereign and state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., (PDVSA) bonds. Domestic production and industry continues to severely underperform and the Venezuelan Government continues to rely on imports to meet its basic food and consumer goods needs.

    Falling oil prices since 2014 have aggravated Venezuela's economic crisis. Insufficient access to dollars, price controls, and rigid labor regulations have led some US and multinational firms to reduce or shut down their Venezuelan operations. Market uncertainty and PDVSA's poor cash flow have slowed investment in the petroleum sector, resulting in a decline in oil production.

    Under President Nicolas MADURO, the Venezuelan Government's response to the economic crisis has been to increase state control over the economy and blame the private sector for shortages. MADURO has given authority for the production and distribution of basic goods to the military and to local socialist party member committees. The Venezuelan Government has maintained strict currency controls since 2003. The government has been unable to sustain its mechanisms for distributing dollars to the private sector, in part because it needed to withhold some foreign exchange reserves to make its foreign bond payments. As a result of price and currency controls, local industries have struggled to purchase production inputs necessary to maintain their operations or sell goods at a profit on the local market. Expansionary monetary policies and currency controls have created opportunities for arbitrage and corruption and fueled a rapid increase in black market activity.

    GDP (purchasing power parity) : $381.6 billion (2017 est.) $443.7 billion (2016 est.) $531.1 billion (2015 est.) note: data are in 2017 dollars country comparison to the world: 47

    GDP (official exchange rate) : $210.1 billion (2017 est.)

    GDP - real growth rate : -14% (2017 est.) -16.5% (2016 est.) -6.2% (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 222

    GDP - per capita (PPP) : This entry shows GDP on a purchasing power parity basis divided by population as of 1 July for the same year. $12,500 (2017 est.) $14,400 (2016 est.) $17,300 (2015 est.) note: data are in 2017 dollars country comparison to the world: 126

    Gross national saving : 12.1% of GDP (2017 est.) 8.6% of GDP (2016 est.) 31.8% of GDP (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 150

    GDP - composition, by end use : household consumption: 68.5% (2017 est.) government consumption: 19.6% (2017 est.) investment in fixed capital: 13.9% (2017 est.) investment in inventories: 1.7% (2017 est.) exports of goods and services: 7% (2017 est.) imports of goods and services: -10.7% (2017 est.)

    GDP - composition, by sector of origin : agriculture: 4.7% (2017 est.) industry: 40.4% (2017 est.) services: 54.9% (2017 est.) Agriculture - products : This entry is an ordered listing of major crops and products starting with the most important. corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffee; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish

    Labor force : 14.21 million (2017 est.) country comparison to the world: 40

    Labor force - by occupation : agriculture: 7.3% industry: 21.8% services: 70.9% (4th quarter, 2011 est.)

    Unemployment rate : This entry contains the percent of the labor force that is without jobs. Substantial underemployment might be noted. 27.1% (2017 est.) 20.6% (2016 est.) country comparison to the world: 199

    Population below poverty line : 19.7% (2015 est.)

    Household income or consumption by percentage share : lowest 10%: 1.7% highest 10%: 32.7% (2006)

    Distribution of family income - Gini index : 39 (2011) 49.5 (1998) country comparison to the world: 74

    Budget : revenues: 92.8 billion (2017 est.) expenditures: 189.7 billion (2017 est.)

    Taxes and other revenues : 44.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.) country comparison to the world: 25

    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) : -46.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.) country comparison to the world: 220

    Public debt : 38.9% of GDP (2017 est.) 31.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

    Inflation rate (consumer prices) : 1,087.5% (2017 est.) 254.4% (2016 est.) country comparison to the world: 226

    Central bank discount rate : This entry provides the annualized interest rate a country's central bank charges commercial, depository banks for loans to meet temporary shortages of funds. 29.5% (2015) country comparison to the world: 1 Commercial bank prime lending rate : This entry provides a simple average of annualized interest rates commercial banks charge on new loans, denominated in the national currency, to their most credit-worthy customers. 21.1% (31 December 2017 est.) 20.78% (31 December 2016 est.) country comparison to the world: 12 Stock of narrow money : This entry, also known as "M1," comprises the total quantity of currency in circulation (notes and coins) plus demand deposits denominated in the national currency held by nonbank financial institutions, state and local governments, nonfinancial public enterprises, and the private sector of the economy, measured at a specific point in time. National currency units have been converted to US dollars at the closing exchange rate for the date of the information. Because of exchange rate moveme . . . more

    $149.8 billion (31 December 2017 est.) $163.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.) country comparison to the world: 29 Stock of broad money : This entry covers all of "Narrow money," plus the total quantity of time and savings deposits, credit union deposits, institutional money market funds, short-term repurchase agreements between the central bank and commercial deposit banks, and other large liquid assets held by nonbank financial institutions, state and local governments, nonfinancial public enterprises, and the private sector of the economy. National currency units have been converted to US dollars at the closing exchange r . . . more

    Exports - partners : US 34.8%, India 17.2%, China 16%, Netherlands Antilles 8.2%, Singapore 6.3%, Cuba 4.2% (2017)

    Exports - commodities : This entry provides a listing of the highest-valued exported products; it sometimes includes the percent of total dollar value. petroleum and petroleum products, bauxite and aluminum, minerals, chemicals, agricultural products Imports : This entry provides the total US dollar amount of merchandise imports on a c.i.f. (cost, insurance, and freight) or f.o.b. (free on board) basis. These figures are calculated on an exchange rate basis, i.e., not in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. $11 billion (2017 est.) $16.34 billion (2016 est.) country comparison to the world: 100 Imports - commodities : This entry provides a listing of the highest-valued imported products; it sometimes includes the percent of total dollar value. agricultural products, livestock, raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials, medical equipment, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, iron and steel products Imports - partners : This entry provides a rank ordering of trading partners starting with the most important; it sometimes includes the percent of total dollar value. US 24.8%, China 14.2%, Mexico 9.5% (2017)

    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold : $9.661 billion (31 December 2017 est.) $11 billion (31 December 2016 est.) country comparison to the world: 75

    Debt - external : $100.3 billion (31 December 2017 est.) $109.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.) country comparison to the world: 47

    Stock of direct foreign investment - at home : $32.74 billion (31 December 2017 est.) $33.78 billion (31 December 2016 est.) country comparison to the world: 70

    Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad : $35.15 billion (31 December 2017 est.) $31.12 billion (31 December 2016 est.) country comparison to the world: 47

    Exchange rates : bolivars (VEB) per US dollar - 3,345 (2017 est.) 673.76 (2016 est.) 48.07 (2015 est.) 13.72 (2014 est.) 6.284 (2013 est.)

  • [Feb 06, 2019] Saker interview with Michael Hudson on Venezuela by The Saker and Michael Hudson

    Notable quotes:
    "... There is a great deal of controversy about the true shape of the Venezuelan economy and whether Hugo Chavez' and Nicholas Maduro's reform and policies were crucial for the people of Venezuela or whether they were completely misguided and precipitated the current crises. Anybody and everybody seems to have very strong held views about this. But I don't simply because I lack the expertise to have any such opinions. So I decided to ask one of the most respected independent economists out there, Michael Hudson, for whom I have immense respect and whose analyses (including those he co-authored with Paul Craig Roberts ) seem to be the most credible and honest ones you can find. In fact, Paul Craig Roberts considers Hudson the " best economist in the world "! ..."
    "... I am deeply grateful to Michael for his replies which, I hope, will contribute to a honest and objective understanding of what really is taking place in Venezuela. ..."
    "... : Could you summarize the state of Venezuela's economy when Chavez came to power? ..."
    "... : Could you outline the various reforms and changes introduced by Hugo Chavez? What did he do right, and what did he do wrong? ..."
    "... : What are, in your opinion, the causes of the current economic crisis in Venezuela – is it primarily due to mistakes by Chavez and Maduro or is the main cause US sabotage, subversion and sanctions? ..."
    "... : What in your opinion should Maduro do next (assuming he stays in power and the USA does not overthrow him) to rescue the Venezuelan economy? ..."
    "... What about the plan to introduce a oil-based crypto currency? Will that be an effective alternative to the dying Venezuelan Bolivar? ..."
    "... Trade, Develpoment and Foreign Debt ..."
    "... : How much assistance do China, Russia and Iran provide and how much can they do to help? Do you think that these three countries together can help counter-act US sabotage, subversion and sanctions? ..."
    "... : Venezuela kept a lot of its gold in the UK and money in the USA. How could Chavez and Maduro trust these countries or did they not have another choice? Are there viable alternatives to New York and London or are they still the "only game in town" for the world's central banks? ..."
    "... Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire ..."
    "... : What can other Latin American countries such as Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba and, maybe, Uruguay and Mexico do to help Venezuela? ..."
    "... : Thank you very much for taking the time to reply to my questions! ..."
    Feb 06, 2019 | www.unz.com

    Introduction: There is a great deal of controversy about the true shape of the Venezuelan economy and whether Hugo Chavez' and Nicholas Maduro's reform and policies were crucial for the people of Venezuela or whether they were completely misguided and precipitated the current crises. Anybody and everybody seems to have very strong held views about this. But I don't simply because I lack the expertise to have any such opinions. So I decided to ask one of the most respected independent economists out there, Michael Hudson, for whom I have immense respect and whose analyses (including those he co-authored with Paul Craig Roberts ) seem to be the most credible and honest ones you can find. In fact, Paul Craig Roberts considers Hudson the " best economist in the world "!

    I am deeply grateful to Michael for his replies which, I hope, will contribute to a honest and objective understanding of what really is taking place in Venezuela.

    The Saker

    The Saker : Could you summarize the state of Venezuela's economy when Chavez came to power?

    Michael Hudson : Venezuela was an oil monoculture. Its export revenue was spent largely on importing food and other necessities that it could have produced at home. Its trade was largely with the United States. So despite its oil wealth, it ran up foreign debt.

    From the outset, U.S. oil companies have feared that Venezuela might someday use its oil revenues to benefit its overall population instead of letting the U.S. oil industry and its local comprador aristocracy siphon off its wealth. So the oil industry – backed by U.S. diplomacy – held Venezuela hostage in two ways.

    First of all, oil refineries were not built in Venezuela, but in Trinidad and in the southern U.S. Gulf Coast states. This enabled U.S. oil companies – or the U.S. Government – to leave Venezuela without a means of "going it alone" and pursuing an independent policy with its oil, as it needed to have this oil refined. It doesn't help to have oil reserves if you are unable to get this oil refined so as to be usable.

    Second, Venezuela's central bankers were persuaded to pledge their oil reserves and all assets of the state oil sector (including Citgo) as collateral for its foreign debt. This meant that if Venezuela defaulted (or was forced into default by U.S. banks refusing to make timely payment on its foreign debt), bondholders and U.S. oil majors would be in a legal position to take possession of Venezuelan oil assets.

    These pro-U.S. policies made Venezuela a typically polarized Latin American oligarchy. Despite being nominally rich in oil revenue, its wealth was concentrated in the hands of a pro-U.S. oligarchy that let its domestic development be steered by the World Bank and IMF. The indigenous population, especially its rural racial minority as well as the urban underclass, was excluded from sharing in the country's oil wealth. The oligarchy's arrogant refusal to share the wealth, or even to make Venezuela self-sufficient in essentials, made the election of Hugo Chavez a natural outcome.

    The Saker : Could you outline the various reforms and changes introduced by Hugo Chavez? What did he do right, and what did he do wrong?

    Michael Hudson : Chavez sought to restore a mixed economy to Venezuela, using its government revenue – mainly from oil, of course – to develop infrastructure and domestic spending on health care, education, employment to raise living standards and productivity for his electoral constituency.

    What he was unable to do was to clean up the embezzlement and built-in rake-off of income from the oil sector. And he was unable to stem the capital flight of the oligarchy, taking its wealth and moving it abroad – while running away themselves.

    This was not "wrong". It merely takes a long time to change an economy's disruption – while the U.S. is using sanctions and "dirty tricks" to stop that process.

    The Saker : What are, in your opinion, the causes of the current economic crisis in Venezuela – is it primarily due to mistakes by Chavez and Maduro or is the main cause US sabotage, subversion and sanctions?

    Michael Hudson : There is no way that Chavez and Maduro could have pursued a pro-Venezuelan policy aimed at achieving economic independence without inciting fury, subversion and sanctions from the United States. American foreign policy remains as focused on oil as it was when it invaded Iraq under Dick Cheney's regime. U.S. policy is to treat Venezuela as an extension of the U.S. economy, running a trade surplus in oil to spend in the United States or transfer its savings to U.S. banks.

    By imposing sanctions that prevent Venezuela from gaining access to its U.S. bank deposits and the assets of its state-owned Citco, the United States is making it impossible for Venezuela to pay its foreign debt. This is forcing it into default, which U.S. diplomats hope to use as an excuse to foreclose on Venezuela's oil resources and seize its foreign assets much as Paul Singer hedge fund sought to do with Argentina's foreign assets.

    Just as U.S. policy under Kissinger was to make Chile's "economy scream," so the U.S. is following the same path against Venezuela. It is using that country as a "demonstration effect" to warn other countries not to act in their self-interest in any way that prevents their economic surplus from being siphoned off by U.S. investors.

    The Saker : What in your opinion should Maduro do next (assuming he stays in power and the USA does not overthrow him) to rescue the Venezuelan economy?

    Michael Hudson : I cannot think of anything that President Maduro can do that he is not doing. At best, he can seek foreign support – and demonstrate to the world the need for an alternative international financial and economic system.

    ORDER IT NOW

    He already has begun to do this by trying to withdraw Venezuela's gold from the Bank of England and Federal Reserve. This is turning into "asymmetrical warfare," threatening to de-sanctify the dollar standard in international finance. The refusal of England and the United States to grant an elected government control of its foreign assets demonstrates to the entire world that U.S. diplomats and courts alone can and will control foreign countries as an extension of U.S. nationalism.

    The price of the U.S. economic attack on Venezuela is thus to fracture the global monetary system. Maduro's defensive move is showing other countries the need to protect themselves from becoming "another Venezuela" by finding a new safe haven and paying agent for their gold, foreign exchange reserves and foreign debt financing, away from the dollar, sterling and euro areas.

    The only way that Maduro can fight successfully is on the institutional level, upping the ante to move "outside the box." His plan – and of course it is a longer-term plan – is to help catalyze a new international economic order independent of the U.S. dollar standard. It will work in the short run only if the United States believes that it can emerge from this fight as an honest financial broker, honest banking system and supporter of democratically elected regimes. The Trump administration is destroying illusion more thoroughly than any anti-imperialist critic or economic rival could do!

    Over the longer run, Maduro also must develop Venezuelan agriculture, along much the same lines that the United States protected and developed its agriculture under the New Deal legislation of the 1930s – rural extension services, rural credit, seed advice, state marketing organizations for crop purchase and supply of mechanization, and the same kind of price supports that the United States has long used to subsidize domestic farm investment to increase productivity.

    The Saker: What about the plan to introduce a oil-based crypto currency? Will that be an effective alternative to the dying Venezuelan Bolivar?

    Michael Hudson : Only a national government can issue a currency. A "crypto" currency tied to the price of oil would become a hedging vehicle, prone to manipulation and price swings by forward sellers and buyers. A national currency must be based on the ability to tax, and Venezuela's main tax source is oil revenue, which is being blocked from the United States. So Venezuela's position is like that of the German mark coming out of its hyperinflation of the early 1920s. The only solution involves balance-of-payments support. It looks like the only such support will come from outside the dollar sphere.

    The solution to any hyperinflation must be negotiated diplomatically and be supported by other governments. My history of international trade and financial theory, Trade, Develpoment and Foreign Debt , describes the German reparations problem and how its hyperinflation was solved by the Rentenmark.

    Venezuela's economic-rent tax would fall on oil, and luxury real estate sites, as well as monopoly prices, and on high incomes (mainly financial and monopoly income). This requires a logic to frame such tax and monetary policy. I have tried to explain how to achieve monetary and hence political independence for the past half-century. China is applying such policy most effectively. It is able to do so because it is a large and self-sufficient economy in essentials, running a large enough export surplus to pay for its food imports. Venezuela is in no such position. That is why it is looking to China for support at this time.

    The Saker : How much assistance do China, Russia and Iran provide and how much can they do to help? Do you think that these three countries together can help counter-act US sabotage, subversion and sanctions?

    Michael Hudson : None of these countries have a current capacity to refine Venezuelan oil. This makes it difficult for them to take payment in Venezuelan oil. Only a long-term supply contract (paid for in advance) would be workable. And even in that case, what would China and Russia do if the United States simply grabbed their property in Venezuela, or refused to let Russia's oil company take possession of Citco? In that case, the only response would be to seize U.S. investments in their own country as compensation.

    At least China and Russia can provide an alternative bank clearing mechanism to SWIFT, so that Venezuela can by pass the U.S. financial system and keep its assets from being grabbed at will by U.S. authorities or bondholders. And of course, they can provide safe-keeping for however much of Venezuela's gold it can get back from New York and London.

    Looking ahead, therefore, China, Russia, Iran and other countries need to set up a new international court to adjudicate the coming diplomatic crisis and its financial and military consequences. Such a court – and its associated international bank as an alternative to the U.S.-controlled IMF and World Bank – needs a clear ideology to frame a set of principles of nationhood and international rights with power to implement and enforce its judgments.

    This would confront U.S. financial strategists with a choice: if they continue to treat the IMF, World Bank, ITO and NATO as extensions of increasingly aggressive U.S. foreign policy, they will risk isolating the United States. Europe will have to choose whether to remain a U.S. economic and military satellite, or to throw in its lot with Eurasia.

    However, Daniel Yergin reports in the Wall Street Journal (Feb. 7) that China is trying to hedge its bets by opening a back-door negotiation with Guaido's group, apparently to get the same deal that it has negotiated with Maduro's government. But any such deal seems unlikely to be honored in practice, given U.S. animosity toward China and Guaido's total reliance on U.S. covert support.

    The Saker : Venezuela kept a lot of its gold in the UK and money in the USA. How could Chavez and Maduro trust these countries or did they not have another choice? Are there viable alternatives to New York and London or are they still the "only game in town" for the world's central banks?

    Michael Hudson : There was never real trust in the Bank of England or Federal Reserve, but it seemed unthinkable that they would refuse to permit an official depositor from withdrawing its own gold. The usual motto is "Trust but verify." But the unwillingness (or inability) of the Bank of England to verify means that the formerly unthinkable has now arrived: Have these central banks sold this gold forward in the post-London Gold Pool and its successor commodity markets in their attempt to keep down the price so as to maintain the appearance of a solvent U.S. dollar standard.

    Paul Craig Roberts has described how this system works. There are forward markets for currencies, stocks and bonds. The Federal Reserve can offer to buy a stock in three months at, say, 10% over the current price. Speculators will by the stock, bidding up the price, so as to take advantage of "the market's" promise to buy the stock. So by the time three months have passed, the price will have risen. That is largely how the U.S. "Plunge Protection Team" has supported the U.S. stock market.

    The system works in reverse to hold down gold prices. The central banks holding gold can get together and offer to sell gold at a low price in three months. "The market" will realize that with low-priced gold being sold, there's no point in buying more gold and bidding its price up. So the forward-settlement market shapes today's market.

    The question is, have gold buyers (such as the Russian and Chinese government) bought so much gold that the U.S. Fed and the Bank of England have actually had to "make good" on their forward sales, and steadily depleted their gold? In this case, they would have been "living for the moment," keeping down gold prices for as long as they could, knowing that once the world returns to the pre-1971 gold-exchange standard for intergovernmental balance-of-payments deficits, the U.S. will run out of gold and be unable to maintain its overseas military spending (not to mention its trade deficit and foreign disinvestment in the U.S. stock and bond markets). My book on Super-Imperialism explains why running out of gold forced the Vietnam War to an end. The same logic would apply today to America's vast network of military bases throughout the world.

    Refusal of England and the U.S. to pay Venezuela means that other countries realize that foreign official gold reserves can be held hostage to U.S. foreign policy, and even to judgments by U.S. courts to award this gold to foreign creditors or to whoever might bring a lawsuit under U.S. law against these countries.

    This hostage-taking now makes it urgent for other countries to develop a viable alternative, especially as the world de-dedollarizes and a gold-exchange standard remains the only way of constraining the military-induced balance of payments deficit of the United States or any other country mounting a military attack. A military empire is very expensive – and gold is a "peaceful" constraint on military-induced payments deficits. (I spell out the details in my Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1972), updated in German as Finanzimperium (2017).

    The U.S. has overplayed its hand in destroying the foundation of the dollar-centered global financial order. That order has enabled the United States to be "the exceptional nation" able to run balance-of-payments deficits and foreign debt that it has no intention (or ability) to pay, claiming that the dollars thrown off by its foreign military spending "supply" other countries with their central bank reserves (held in the form of loans to the U.S. Treasury – Treasury bonds and bills – to finance the U.S. budget deficit and its military spending, as well as the largely military U.S. balance-of-payments deficit.

    Given the fact that the EU is acting as a branch of NATO and the U.S. banking system, that alternative would have to be associated with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the gold would have to be kept in Russia and/or China.

    The Saker : What can other Latin American countries such as Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba and, maybe, Uruguay and Mexico do to help Venezuela?

    Michael Hudson : The best thing neighboring Latin American countries can do is to join in creating a vehicle to promote de-dollarization and, with it, an international institution to oversee the writedown of debts that are beyond the ability of countries to pay without imposing austerity and thereby destroying their economies.

    An alternative also is needed to the World Bank that would make loans in domestic currency, above all to subsidize investment in domestic food production so as to protect the economy against foreign food-sanctions – the equivalent of a military siege to force surrender by imposing famine conditions. This World Bank for Economic Acceleration would put the development of self-reliance for its members first, instead of promoting export competition while loading borrowers down with foreign debt that would make them prone to the kind of financial blackmail that Venezuela is experiencing.

    Being a Roman Catholic country, Venezuela might ask for papal support for a debt write-down and an international institution to oversee the ability to pay by debtor countries without imposing austerity, emigration, depopulation and forced privatization of the public domain.

    Two international principles are needed. First, no country should be obliged to pay foreign debt in a currency (such as the dollar or its satellites) whose banking system acts to prevents payment.

    Second, no country should be obliged to pay foreign debt at the price of losing its domestic autonomy as a state: the right to determine its own foreign policy, to tax and to create its own money, and to be free of having to privatize its public assets to pay foreign creditors. Any such debt is a "bad loan" reflecting the creditor's own irresponsibility or, even worse, pernicious asset grab in a foreclosure that was the whole point of the loan.

    The Saker : Thank you very much for taking the time to reply to my questions!

    [Feb 06, 2019] US 'Regime Changes' The Historical Record by James Petras

    Feb 06, 2019 | www.unz.com
    Imperialism in Lati... Blogview James Petras Archive

    As the US strives to overthrow the democratic and independent Venezuelan government, the historical record regarding the short, middle and long-term consequences are mixed.

    We will proceed to examine the consequences and impact of US intervention in Venezuela over the past half century.

    We will then turn to examine the success and failure of US 'regime changes' throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Venezuela: Results and Perspectives 1950-2019

    During the post WWII decade, the US, working through the CIA and the Pentagon, brought to power authoritarian client regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, Peru, Chile, Guatemala, Brazil and several other countries.

    In the case of Venezuela, the US backed a near decade long military dictatorship (Perez Jimenez ) roughly between 1951-58. The dictatorship was overthrown in 1958 and replaced by a left-center coalition during a brief interim period. Subsequently, the US reshuffled its policy, and embraced and promoted center-right regimes led by social and christian democrats which alternated rule for nearly forty years.

    In the 1990's US client regimes riddled with corruption and facing a deepening socio-economic crises were voted out of power and replaced by the independent, anti-imperialist government led by President Chavez.

    The free and democratic election of President Chavez withstood and defeated several US led 'regime changes' over the following two decades.

    Following the election of President Maduro, under US direction,Washington mounted the political machinery for a new regime change. Washington launched, in full throttle, a coup by the winter of 2019.

    The record of US intervention in Venezuela is mixed: a middle term military coup lasted less than a decade; US directed electoral regimes were in power for forty years; its replacement by an elected anti-imperialist populist government has been in power for nearly 20 years. A virulent US directed coup is underfoot today.

    The Venezuela experience with 'regime change' speaks to US capacity to consummate long-term control if it can reshuffle its power base from a military dictatorship into an electoral regime, financed through the pillage of oil, backed by a reliable military and 'legitimated' by alternating client political parties which accept submission to Washington.

    US client regimes are ruled by oligarchic elites, with little entrepreneurial capacity, living off of state rents (oil revenues).

    Tied closely to the US, the ruling elites are unable to secure popular loyalty. Client regimes depend on the military strength of the Pentagon -- but that is also their weakness.

    Regime Change in Regional-Historical Perspective

    Puppet-building is an essential strategic goal of the US imperial state.

    The results vary over time depending on the capacity of independent governments to succeed in nation-building.

    US long-term puppet-building has been most successful in small nations with vulnerable economies.

    The US directed coup in Guatemala has lasted over sixty-years – from 1954 -2019. Major popular indigenous insurgencies have been repressed via US military advisers and aid.

    Similar successful US puppet-building has occurred in Panama, Grenada, Dominican Republic and Haiti. Being small and poor and having weak military forces, the US is willing to directly invade and occupy the countries quickly and at small cost in military lives and economic costs.

    In the above countries Washington succeeded in imposing and maintaining puppet regimes for prolonged periods of time.

    The US has directed military coups over the past half century with contradictory results.

    In the case of Honduras, the Pentagon was able to overturn a progressive liberal democratic government of very short duration. The Honduran army was under US direction, and elected President Manual Zelaya depended on an unarmed electoral popular majority. Following the successful coup the Honduran puppet-regime remained under US rule for the next decade and likely beyond.

    Chile has been under US tutelage for the better part of the 20th century with a brief respite during a Popular Front government between 1937-41 and a democratic socialist government between 1970-73. The US military directed coup in 1973 imposed the Pinochet dictatorship which lasted for seventeen years. It was followed by an electoral regime which continued the Pinochet-US neo-liberal agenda, including the reversal of all the popular national and social reforms. In a word, Chile remained within the US political orbit for the better part of a half-century.

    Chile's democratic-socialist regime (1970-73) never armed its people nor established overseas economic linkage to sustain an independent foreign policy.

    It is not surprising that in recent times Chile followed US commands calling for the overthrow of Venezuela's President Maduro.

    Contradictory Puppet-Building

    Several US coups were reversed, for the longer or shorter duration.

    The classical case of a successful defeat of a client regime is Cuba which overthrew a ten-year old US client, the Batista dictatorship, and proceeded to successfully resist a CIA directed invasion and economic blockade for the better part of a half century (up to the present day).

    Cuba's defeat of puppet restorationist policy was a result of the Castro leadership's decision to arm the people, expropriate and take control of hostile US and multinational corporations and establish strategic overseas allies – USSR , China and more recently Venezuela.

    In contrast, a US military backed military coup in Brazil (1964) endured for over two decades, before electoral politics were partially restored under elite leadership.

    Twenty years of failed neo-liberal economic policies led to the election of the social reformist Workers Party (WP) which proceeded to implement extensive anti-poverty programs within the context of neo-liberal policies.

    After a decade and a half of social reforms and a relatively independent foreign policy, the WP succumbed to a downturn of the commodity dependent economy and a hostile state (namely judiciary and military) and was replaced by a pair of far-right US client regimes which functioned under Wall Street and Pentagon direction.

    The US frequently intervened in Bolivia, backing military coups and client regimes against short-term national populist regimes (1954, 1970 and 2001).

    In 2005 a popular uprising led to free elections and the election of Evo Morales, the leader of the coca farmers movements. Between 2005 – 2019 (the present period) President Morales led a moderate left-of-center anti imperialist government.

    ORDER IT NOW

    Unsuccessful efforts by the US to overthrow the Morales government were a result of several factors: Morales organized and mobilized a coalition of peasants and workers (especially miners and coca farmers). He secured the loyalty of the military, expelled US Trojan Horse "aid agencies' and extended control over oil and gas and promoted ties with agro business.

    The combination of an independent foreign policy, a mixed economy , high growth and moderate reforms neutralized US puppet-building.

    Not so the case in Argentina. Following a bloody coup (1976) in which the US backed military murdered 30,000 citizens, the military was defeated by the British army in the Malvinas war and withdrew after seven years in power.

    The post military puppet regime ruled and plundered for a decade before collapsing in 2001. They were overthrown by a popular insurrection. However, the radical left lacking cohesion was replaced by center-left (Kirchner-Fernandez) regimes which ruled for the better part of a decade (2003 – 15).

    The progressive social welfare – neo-liberal regimes entered in crises and were ousted by a US backed puppet regime (Macri) in 2015 which proceeded to reverse reforms, privatize the economy and subordinate the state to US bankers and speculators.

    After two years in power, the puppet regime faltered, the economy spiraled downward and another cycle of repression and mass protest emerged. The US puppet regime's rule is tenuous, the populace fills the streets, while the Pentagon sharpens its knives and prepares puppets to replace their current client regime.

    Conclusion

    The US has not succeeded in consolidating regime changes among the large countries with mass organizations and military supporters.

    Washington has succeeded in overthrowing popular – national regimes in Brazil, and Argentina . However, over time puppet regimes have been reversed.

    While the US resorts to largely a single 'track' (military coups and invasions)in overwhelming smaller and more vulnerable popular governments, it relies on 'multiple tracks' strategy with regard to large and more formidable countries.

    In the former cases, usually a call to the military or the dispatch of the marines is enough to snuff an electoral democracy.

    In the latter case, the US relies on a multi-proxy strategy which includes a mass media blitz, labeling democrats as dictatorships, extremists, corrupt, security threats, etc.

    As the tension mounts, regional client and European states are organized to back the local puppets.

    Phony "Presidents" are crowned by the US President whose index finger counters the vote of millions of voters. Street demonstrations and violence paid and organized by the CIA destabilize the economy; business elites boycott and paralyze production and distribution Millions are spent in bribing judges and military officials.

    If the regime change can be accomplished by local military satraps, the US refrains from direct military intervention.

    Regime changes among larger and wealthier countries have between one or two decades duration. However, the switch to an electoral puppet regime may consolidate imperial power over a longer period – as was the case of Chile.

    Where there is powerful popular support for a democratic regime, the US will provide the ideological and military support for a large-scale massacre, as was the case in Argentina.

    The coming showdown in Venezuela will be a case of a bloody regime change as the US will have to murder hundreds of thousands to destroy the millions who have life-long and deep commitments to their social gains , their loyalty to the nation and their dignity.

    In contrast the bourgeoisie, and their followers among political traitors, will seek revenge and resort to the vilest forms of violence in order to strip the poor of their social advances and their memories of freedom and dignity.

    It is no wonder that the Venezuela masses are girding for a prolonged and decisive struggle: everything can be won or lost in this final confrontation with the Empire and its puppets.

    Agent76 , says: February 5, 2019 at 4:57 pm GMT

    Did you know this information? January 18, 2019 The US Has Military Forces in Over 160 Countries, but the Pentagon Is Hiding the Exact Numbers

    The US has 95% of the world's foreign military bases, with personnel in more than 160 countries. But the Pentagon is leaving hundreds of outposts out of its official reports.

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50951.htm

    [Feb 06, 2019] The Real Reason The U.S. Wants Regime Change In Venezuela

    One word: Hydrocarbons...
    Feb 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
    Via StormCloudsGathering.com,

    The U.S. and its allies have decided to throw their weight behind yet another coup attempt in Venezuela. As usual, they claim that their objectives are democracy and freedom. Nothing could be farther from the truth...

    https://www.youtube.com/embed/R_2sf6qnuNU

    On January 23rd, 2019 Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself acting president, and called on the armed forces to disobey the government. Very few had ever heard of this man -- he had never actually run for president. Guaidó is the head of Venezuela's national assembly; a position very similar to speaker of the house.

    Within minutes of this declaration U.S. president Donald Trump took to twitter and recognized Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela; writing off the administration of Nicolas Maduro as "illegitimate". U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo followed by urging Venezuela's military to "restore democracy", affirming that the US would back Mr Guaidó in his attempts to establish a government. They also promised 20 million dollars in "humanitarian" aid . To put this into context, Trump is on record saying he was " Not Going to Rule Out a Military Option " in Venezuela.

    me title=

    This is roughly the equivalent of Nancy Pelosi or Mitch Mcconnell declaring themselves president, calling on the military to overthrow Trump, and having China pledge to fund and assist the effort.

    Now if you happen to be in the camp that wouldn't actually mind seeing Donald Trump forcibly removed from office, I would encourage you to imagine replacing Trump's name with Obama, Bush, Merkel or Macron.

    You know there have been a lot of protests in France, and the Yellow Vests have demanded that Macron step down Why don't we restore democracy in Paris?

    If Donald Trump can decide on a whim which leaders are legitimate, and which will be deposed-by-tweet, what kind of precedent does that set? And who's next? The grand irony here, is that the exact same media outlets who blasted Trump as a "illegitimate president whose election is tainted by fraud" , are now calling his regime change ambitions in Venezuela "bold" . Not only have they refused to criticize the move, but in fact they're hailing this as a "potential foreign policy victory" and "a political win at home" .

    Let's get this straight. Trump is an illegitimate president and should be removed from office (because of Russian interference), but you're perfectly comfortable with that same illegitimate president toppling foreign governments via twitter?

    Though support for Guaidó was quickly parroted by Washington's most dependable allies, and lauded by virtually every western media outlet, the Venezuelan military responded by condemning the coup, and reconfirmed their loyalty to Maduro .

    Russia, China and Turkey also issued statements condemning U.S. meddling, and warned against further interference. By January 25th, reports were flowing in that as many as 400 Russian military contractors were already on the ground . (Well that escalated quickly.)

    That same day Pompeo announced that Elliott Abrams -- the man who oversaw regime change wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador , was deeply involved in the Iran Contra scandal, and who was an architect of both the Iraq war and the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela (which culminated in the kidnapping of Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez) -- would be in charge of the effort to "restore democracy and prosperity to their country".

    So why do you suppose Washington really wants regime change in Venezuela? You'd have to be pretty naive to buy the "democracy and prosperity" drivel.

    The Trump administration slams Maduro as authoritarian , while cuddling up to Mohammad Bin Salman , a mass murdering dictator known to dismember reporters he doesn't like.

    They talk about how the Venezuelan economy is in shambles, but by their own admission ( and according to the U.N. ) U.S. sanctions have played a significant role in creating that situation.

    Might the real motive have something to do with the fact that Venezuela is sitting on the world's largest proven oil reserves , and that Western oil companies were kicked out of the country in 2007?

    Let's ask Donald Trump:

    https://www.youtube.com/embed/eWTCB0ueqXk

    "With respect to Libya I'm interested in Libya if we take the oil. If we don't take the oil no interest. We have to have Look, if we have wars, we have to win the war. What we do is take over the country and hand the keys to people who don't like us. I'll tell you what Iraq, 100% Iran takes over Iraq after we leave, and what really happens with Iraq is they want the oil fields. And I have it on very good authority that Iran probably won't even be shooting a bullet because they are getting along better with the Iraqi leaders better than we are. After all of those lives, and after all of the money we spent. And if that's going to happen we take the oil."

    Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez nationalized the oil industry and used the proceeds to fund his socialist vision for the country. Now you could make the case that this vision was flawed, and horribly mismanaged, however he had strong public support for this mandate; so much support in fact, that when U.S. backed coup plotters kidnapped Hugo Chavez in 2002 crowds took to the streets en mass and he was quickly reinstated.

    Which brings us back to Juan Guaidó. There's not much information available on Mr. Guaidó, but if you look up the man who tapped him to lead the opposition party Voluntad Popular you'll find Washington's fingerprints all over the place. Leopoldo Lopez, the founder of Voluntad Popular, orchestrated the protests in 2002 that led up to the kidnapping of Hugo Chavez .

    It's no secret that the U.S. has been funding Voluntad Popular for years . In fact you can still find documents on state.gov which admit to routing at least 5 million dollars to "support political competition-building efforts". Nor is it a secret that U.S. officials met with coup plotters in 2018 . But if there were any doubt that Guaidó is Washington's puppet, Mike Pence's call the day before the coup assuring U.S. support should lay that to rest.

    "But Maduro's a bad leader!"

    Compared to who? Which paragon of good governance will we refer to as the model? Trump? Theresa May? Angel Merkel? Macron? Take your time.

    This isn't democracy, it's a neo-colonial power grab. Juan Guaidó never ran for the office he claimed, and the fact that he directly colluded with a foreign nation to overthrow the man who was elected president marks him as a traitor.

    Juan Guaidó is a puppet. If installed, he will serve the interests who bought his ticket. Venezuela's oil industry will be privatized, and the profits will be sucked out of the country by western corporations.

    What's happening in Venezuela right now is a replay of the 1973 U.S. backed coup in Chile, where the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, was overthrown, and replaced with the military dictatorship of Pinochet. Pinochet murdered over 3000 political opponents during his rule, and tortured over 30,000, but he was friendly to American business interests so Washington looked the other way.

    One could make the case that Maduro is incompetent. One could make the case that his economic theories are trash. (The same can be said for the haircuts in suits calling for his removal.) But the reality of the matter is that unless you happen to be a Venezuelan citizen, how Venezuela is governed is actually none of your business.

    Given how things turned out in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine you'd think people would get the hint. When it comes to spreading democracy, you suck. U.S. regime change operations have left nothing but chaos, death and destruction in their wake. If you want to make the world a better place, maybe, just maybe, you should start at home.

    [Feb 06, 2019] Venezuela Says It Intercepted Covert US Weapons Shipment From Miami

    Feb 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

    Venezuelan officials have announced the seizure of a large shipment of American weapons which they say were bound for anti-Maduro "terrorist groups" . This comes following US national security advisor John Bolton's pledge to deliver "humanitarian aid" into the country, covertly if need be, despite embattled President Nicolas Maduro's vow to prevent such unauthorized shipments from entering.

    [Feb 05, 2019] Vladimir Putin backs Nicolas Maduro with military contractors to Venezuela

    Sanctions without an approval by UN are criminal and represent a war crime.
    Notable quotes:
    "... Russia shows no signs of abandoning its increasingly beleaguered and isolated ally. Mr. Putin has called Mr. Maduro to relay his support for the regime, and Russian officials reacted angrily to President Trump's suggestion Sunday that U.S. military action was an option to resolve the crisis. ..."
    "... "The international community's goal should be to help [ Venezuela ], without destructive meddling from beyond its borders," Alexander Shchetinin, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Latin American department, told the Interfax news agency Monday. ..."
    "... Russia has repeatedly opposed U.S. suggestions of foreign intervention to install opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela 's interim president, and supported Mr. Maduro 's calls for mediation on the crisis. ..."
    "... But with Mr. Maduro defying calls to step down, the Russian mission may be more extensive than reported, said John Marulanda, a U.S.-trained intelligence officer and adviser to conservative Colombian President Ivan Duque, an opponent of Mr. Maduro . Mr. Marulanda said the recent Russian arrivals are special forces -- Spetsnaz -- who are being embedded among Venezuela 's elite military units to better resist any U.S. intervention or internal coup against Mr. Maduro . ..."
    Feb 05, 2019 | m.washingtontimes.com

    Under anti-U.S. populist leader Hugo Chavez, Mr. Maduro 's late predecessor and political mentor, Russia became one of Venezuela 's strongest allies with economic ties including crude oil, loans and arms sales. That helps explain why Moscow has emerged as one of Mr. Maduro 's most vocal defenders and one of the biggest critics of the pressure campaign waged by Washington and a number of countries in Latin America.

    The pressure grew Monday as France, Germany, Britain and 13 other European countries announced that they were withdrawing their recognition of Mr. Maduro and called for new national elections as soon as possible. The EU powers held off in joining the U.S. pressure campaign to see whether Venezuela would agree to new elections. "We are working for the return of full democracy in Venezuela : human rights, elections and no more political prisoners," Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told reporters in Madrid on Monday.

    But Russia shows no signs of abandoning its increasingly beleaguered and isolated ally. Mr. Putin has called Mr. Maduro to relay his support for the regime, and Russian officials reacted angrily to President Trump's suggestion Sunday that U.S. military action was an option to resolve the crisis.

    "The international community's goal should be to help [ Venezuela ], without destructive meddling from beyond its borders," Alexander Shchetinin, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Latin American department, told the Interfax news agency Monday.

    Russia has repeatedly opposed U.S. suggestions of foreign intervention to install opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela 's interim president, and supported Mr. Maduro 's calls for mediation on the crisis.

    The arrival of 400 Russian military contractors after Mr. Trump's Jan. 23 recognition of Mr. Guaido, the head of the National Assembly, triggered speculation that Moscow was reinforcing Mr. Maduro 's personal security or even preparing his evacuation.

    But with Mr. Maduro defying calls to step down, the Russian mission may be more extensive than reported, said John Marulanda, a U.S.-trained intelligence officer and adviser to conservative Colombian President Ivan Duque, an opponent of Mr. Maduro . Mr. Marulanda said the recent Russian arrivals are special forces -- Spetsnaz -- who are being embedded among Venezuela 's elite military units to better resist any U.S. intervention or internal coup against Mr. Maduro .

    The strong support for Venezuela has another motive for Moscow , analysts say: to increase the diplomatic, economic and military cost of any campaign by Washington to oust Mr. Maduro .

    Joseph Humire, a lecturer for the U.S. Army's 7th Special Forces Group, said in an interview that Russia wants to "draw the U.S. into a quagmire," which Mr. Maduro has warned that would be "worse than Vietnam."

    Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino recently announced that he was inviting Russian combat pilots who fought in Syria's civil war to "share their experience" with Venezuela's air force. Playing the long game

    Mr. Marulanda said Moscow is playing a long-term game aimed at pressuring the U.S. along its southern borders to counter NATO moves along Russia 's border with the Baltic states and Ukraine. Recent visits to Venezuela by nuclear-capable Tupolev 106 strategic bombers represented a clear show of force and support.

    " Russia wants to at least have a 'symbolic involvement' in Latin America as payback for U.S. intervention in the [Russian] 'Near Abroad,'" Vladimir Rouvinski, a foreign policy analyst at Icesi University in Colombia, recently told the Al Jazeera news website.

    Then there's the money aspect.

    Venezuela , with the world's largest proven oil reserves helping fill government coffers, is Russia 's second-biggest arms client after India, the Pentagon said. U.S. analysts calculate that Caracas has purchased more than $11 billion in Russian hardware over the past decade.

    Acquisitions include high-performance Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets equipped with cruise-type BrahMos missiles; Mi-35m attack helicopters; surface-to-air SS-200 and Pechorev missile batteries; T-72 tanks; and production plants for AK-103 rifles.

    Russia is also building a cyberwarfare base on the island of Orchila off Venezuela 's northern coast operated by Cuban technicians. Through military leverage, Russia has gained major oil concessions in mainly offshore drilling blocs between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago. Russia is interested in keeping Venezuelan oil production at reduced levels to maintain high world prices for its own oil, energy analysts say.

    Russian companies also have been using Venezuela to penetrate the U.S. and other energy markets closed off to them by sanctions. Russia 's main state oil company, Rosneft, has lent $6 billion to Venezuela in recent years through negotiations in which Venezuela 's state-owned oil firm, PDVSA, offered its U.S. subsidiary, Citgo, as collateral, according to U.S. intelligence sources.

    The Trump administration has tried to head off such maneuvers by placing PDVSA's U.S.-based assets under control of the alternative government that Mr. Guaido is trying to form.

    Some say the Kremlin isn't looking for a "win" in Venezuela so much as it is trying to entangle the Trump administration in another long, grinding foreign policy crisis with no resolution in sight.

    "It would demonstrate the failure of the American strategy of unlawful regime change and the success of the Russian line of supporting legitimate power," Vladimir Frolov, a Russian foreign policy analyst, wrote in a recent commentary on the Republic.ru news website.

    Mr. Marulanda said Russia is building an anti-U.S. "tripod" in the Caribbean region linking leftist governments in Venezuela , Cuba and Nicaragua. The strategy is unlikely to please military planners in Washington .

    " Russia has taken a big gamble," said Evan Ellis, a Latin America specialist with the U.S. Army War College.

    "If Maduro falls, Moscow 's position in the Western Hemisphere would collapse, as its other allies would soon be equally pressured by democratic revolts."

    [Feb 05, 2019] Black Day for European Democracy. Europeans endorse US-led Coup d' Etat in Venezuela! Defend Democracy Press by Rachael Kennedy

    This reminds me EuroMaydan. Poland, Sweden and Germany were very active promoters of opposition.
    Notable quotes:
    "... Imposing some decisions or trying to legitimize an attempt to usurp power, in our view, is both direct and indirect interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela," ..."
    Feb 04, 2019 | www.defenddemocracy.press
    The UK, France, Spain, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal,among a number of countries, have announced their recognition of Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president Domino effect ensues as EU leaders line up to recognise Venezuela's Guaido

    Europe has begun turning its back on Venezuela's incumbent president, Nicolas Maduro, after he missed his Sunday deadline to call for presidential elections to take place.
    One by one, European leaders publicly announced their recognition of National Assembly chief, Juan Guaido, as the country's interim president.
    But according to Reuters , diplomatic sources said Italy blocked a joint EU position to recognise Guido as the interim leader, as the government in Rome is deeply divided over the issue.

    Read more at https://www.euronews.com/2019/02/04/domino-effect-ensues-as-eu-leaders-recognise-venezuela-s-guaido

    Italy vetoed EU recognition of Venezuelan opposition leader Guaido

    4 Feb, 2019

    Rome has effectively derailed an EU statement meant to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim leader if President Nicolas Maduro fails to set up snap elections, a Five Star Movement source confirmed to RT. Italy announced the veto at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers that started on January 31 in Romania, the source said. The statement, which was supposed to be delivered by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini recognized Guaido as interim president if snap elections were not held.

    Read more at https://www.rt.com/news/450594-source-italy-regects-guaido/

    EU states' recognition of Guaido is 'direct interference' in Venezuela's affairs – Kremlin

    Moscow slammed EU states for trying to legitimize "an attempt to usurp power" in Venezuela after a number of key European countries recognized opposition figure Juan Guaido as interim president. " Imposing some decisions or trying to legitimize an attempt to usurp power, in our view, is both direct and indirect interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela," Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told the media on Monday, while commenting on the recognition of Guaido.

    Read more at https://www.rt.com/russia/450625-moscow-eu-guaido-recognition/

    [Feb 05, 2019] Refusal to hand over Venezuelan gold means end of Britain as a financial center Prof. Wolff -- RT Business News

    Feb 05, 2019 | www.rt.com

    The freezing of Venezuelan gold by the Bank of England is a signal to all countries out of step with US interests to withdraw their money, according to economist and co-founder of Democracy at Work, Professor Richard Wolff. He told RT America that Britain and its central bank have shown themselves to be "under the thumb of the United States."

    "That is a signal to every country that has or may have difficulties with the US, [that they had] better get their money out of England and out of London because it's not the safe place as it once was," he said.

    [Feb 05, 2019] Sic Semper Tyrannis Is this the Trump Doctrine - TTG

    Notable quotes:
    "... Many of us, actually most of us, were pleased with candidate Trump's declared intent to end our involvement in endless foreign interventions. He would put America first and refrain from sending our troops where they don't belong. Once elected, his record was mixed. ..."
    "... PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [W]e spent a fortune on building this incredible base. We might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem. ..."
    "... There also appears to be an effort to keep the Rojava Kurds as a proxy force after our troops withdraw to Iraq. We continue sending combat and engineering equipment into Rojava and fully intend to continue providing air support to the YPG. We just can't let it go. ..."
    "... I see a confrontation in our future, especially with all the Iraqi PMS units in western Iraq. ..."
    Feb 05, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

    Many of us, actually most of us, were pleased with candidate Trump's declared intent to end our involvement in endless foreign interventions. He would put America first and refrain from sending our troops where they don't belong. Once elected, his record was mixed.

    We launched an ineffective volley of cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase in response to a trumped up gas attack, but we never sought to establish a no fly zone and risk war with Russia. For a while we were well on our way to establish an enduring client state in east Syria. We assumed this was all the doing of the cabal of manipulating neocons that Trump surrounded himself with. His call for immediate withdrawal of troops from Syria surely proved this true. Finally Trump was allowed to be Trump. He was even seeking a way out of Afghanistan, after a literal lifetime of war in that godforsaken land.

    The neocons are fighting back bigly. The pace of withdrawal from Syria was slowed and there is no indication we would ever give up our outpost on the Baghdad-Damascus highway at Tanf. Why? I think Trump laid out HIS thoughts on the matter during the traditional pre-super bowl presidential interview.

    -- -- -- --

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have to protect Israel. We have to protect other things that we have...

    MARGARET BRENNAN: But you want to keep troops there [Iraq] now?

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [W]e spent a fortune on building this incredible base. We might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem.

    MARGARET BRENNAN: Whoa, that's news. You're keeping troops in Iraq because you want to be able to strike in Iran?

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, because I want to be able to watch Iran. All I want to do is be able to watch. We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It's perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up. And this is what a lot of people don't understand. We're going to keep watching and we're going to keep seeing and if there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do.

    -- -- -- --

    So, We are staying in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran and we are doing this to protect Israel. It was not any of the neocons who said this. It was Trump himself. So much for America first. There also appears to be an effort to keep the Rojava Kurds as a proxy force after our troops withdraw to Iraq. We continue sending combat and engineering equipment into Rojava and fully intend to continue providing air support to the YPG. We just can't let it go.

    However, Baghdad has thrown a monkey wrench into this developing Trump doctrine. Iraqi President Barham Salih has told Trump to slow his roll.

    -- -- -- --

    BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Monday that President Donald Trump did not ask Iraq's permission for U.S. troops stationed there to "watch Iran."

    Speaking at a forum in Baghdad, Salih was responding to a question about Trump's comments to CBS about how he would ask troops stationed in Iraq to "watch" Iran. U.S. troops in Iraq are there as part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific mission of combating terrorism, Salih said, and that they should stick to that. (Reuters)

    -- -- -- --

    I see a confrontatio