Archives

NED | National Endowment for Democracy

Fighting US Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) in Cyber Warfare & Winning

Tortilla Con Sal

August 9, 2018

By Lauren Smith

 

The CIA, NSA, FBI and DOD are your “friends” on Facebook

Social media and Google serve three strategic purposes for the United States government. First, they allow Washington to conduct espionage; second, they facilitate the spread of disinformation campaigns, and third, they serve as conduits for the transmission of social contagions. In deploying thought control against the users of social media and Google, the US government regulates civil unrest both domestic and abroad. As such, social media and Google can best be understood as unconventional weapons (UW). In this capacity, they can be used in proxy wars against the governments of non-compliant Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) nations to accomplish regime change.

Through geopolitical manipulations that eliminate opposition, the United States government can actualize the ruling elites’ vision of a corporate controlled global economy without the deployment of troops. This model of “non-violence” or “soft-coup” as a method of unconventional warfare can be traced to Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution. It is organized through the efforts of the NGOs it oversees such as Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). And, it can be observed in the various Color Revolutions that occurred in Eastern European countries, the Middle East and now Latin America.

The NED is the coordinating Washington agency for regime destabilization and change. It is active from Tibet to Ukraine, from Venezuela to Tunisia, from Kuwait to Morocco in reshaping the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union into what George H.W. Bush in a 1991 speech to Congress proclaimed triumphantly as the dawn of a New World Order.”

Within this context, activists and the NAM must consider Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google hostile territory that is ultimately controlled by the United States Intelligence Community (IC) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Despite user-friendly packaging and attractive advertisements, social media and Google remain militarized programs. As such, activists and NAM users must enter with caution, prepared to do battle to win at PSYOPS in cyber warfare.

Using the US DoD model, cyber warfare can be upgraded to a department on par with the NAM armed forces. In this regard, Polytechnic universities are strategic and can be controlled by NAM governments and their operatives, as they are in the US by the IC and DoD. NAM military institutions can recruit cyber warfare teachers/activists, develop educational curriculum, set career paths and train cyber soldiers to counter US engagements. Useful information can be taken directly from any of the US military’s cyberspace recruitment sites, which promise to develop capabilities to defend national security as well as to create effects in cyberspace to achieve national objectives.

The first step for the NAM is to create public awareness of the threat that social media possesses to protect users and the NAM governments against its influence. In doing so, a cadre of civilian cyber PSYOP content monitors can be created. Additionally, software is now commercially available that can search, monitor, analyze and manage social media content. Presently, large corporations as well at the IC and DoD are using this social media software – since it is useful in business marketing strategies. NAM governments can deploy this software in their communication offices. Through vigilance, PSYOP efforts against NAM governments by social media and Google can be thwarted.

Concurrently, it is critical to guard against cyber invasion through the passing of cyber laws with strong penalties, as done by Germany with its groundbreaking Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG). Also, it is key to ensure through news media communications that workers in the IT industry understand the ramifications of the work in which they engage as well the nefarious intent of their respective employers. The “Never Again Pledge” taken by US tech workers in 2017 is promising.

Germany’s Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG)

Germany has blazed a trail for the NAM against PSYOPS in social media with its Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) and it’s setting of fines of up to $50 million euros.ii The NAM must immediately follow suit with the setting of robust laws and fines against: the dissemination of propaganda; the encouragement of violent offences endangering the state; treasonous forgery; public incitement to crime; breaching of the public peace by threatening to commit offences; the forming of criminal or terrorist organizations.

Never Again Pledge

As reported by the New Yorker in its March 14, 2017 article titled: Why Protesters Gathered Outside Peter Thiel’s Mansion This Weekend, a group of about fifty tech workers, attorneys and anti-surveillance activists stood outside the home of Peter Thiel. Thiel is co-founded of Palantir Technologies, a Trump advisor, and was Facebook’s first investor. He remains a board member of Facebook as well as a member of the Bilderberg Steering Committee. The protest was organized to bring attention to software developed by Plantir called Investigative Case Management that is used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for mass deportation. Amongst other data sources to identify and track a given target, it uses social media content.

Since the presidential election, nearly three thousand tech workers signed the Never Again Pledge, promising to not work on databases that the Trump Administration might use to target vulnerable groups. The name is a nod to I.B.M.’s alleged role, during the Second World War, in systematizing Nazi genocide by providing punch-card technology.

The banality of evil today is the person sitting in a cubicle in San Francisco, or in Silicon Valley, building the tools of digital fascism that are being used by those in Washington,”

To understand the US governments offensive against unfavorable NAM regimes, it is important to understand two things: first, the origin of Facebook and Google; and second, the influence they collectively wield over human motivation through coercion and the spread of social contagions through distorted reality. Within this context, it is of primary concern that activists become adept at the stealth guerilla tactic of hit-and-run, as flexibility and anonymity become key to survival. With the stakes of financial ruin, imprisonment and death so high under the USA Patriot Act, no dissident remains safe.

USA Patriot Act

As dissent and protest both international and domestic becomes increasingly illegal in the United States, and the governmental powers to investigate “terrorism” expand and morph under the USA Patriot Act, activists and the NAM must develop and foster skill sets that protect sympathetic Internet hosts, contributors and content against attack wherever they reside. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Patriot Act increases the government’s surveillance powers in four areas:

  1. Records searches. It expands the government’s ability to look at records on an individual’s activity being held by a third party. (Section 215)

  1. Secret searches. It expands the government’s ability to search private property without notice to the owner. (Section 213)

  1. Intelligence searches. It expands a narrow exception to the Fourth Amendment that had been created for the collection of foreign intelligence information (Section 218).

  1. “Trap and trace” searches. It expands another Fourth Amendment exception for spying that collects “addressing” information about the origin and destination of communications, as opposed to the content (Section 214).

Accordingly, as described by the ACLU:

  • The government no longer has to show evidence that the subjects of search orders are an “agent of a foreign power,” a requirement that previously protected Americans against abuse of this authority.

  • The FBI does not even have to show a reasonable suspicion that the records are related to criminal activity, much less the requirement for “probable cause” that is listed in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. All the government needs to do is make the broad assertion that the request is related to an ongoing terrorism or foreign intelligence investigation.

  • Judicial oversight of these new powers is essentially non-existent. The government must only certify to a judge – with no need for evidence or proof – that such a search meets the statute’s broad criteria, and the judge does not even have the authority to reject the application.

  • Surveillance orders can be based in part on a person’s First Amendment activities, such as the books they read, the Web sites they visit, or a letter to the editor they have written.

  • A person or organization forced to turn over records is prohibited from disclosing the search to anyone. As a result of this gag order, the subjects of surveillance never even find out that their personal records have been examined by the government. That undercuts an important check and balance on this power: the ability of individuals to challenge illegitimate searches.

The ACLU also describes non-surveillance provisions in the Act, which remain the most serious as they enable the indefinite detention of non-citizens without trial. The provisions:

  • Give the Director of Central Intelligence the power to identify domestic intelligence requirements. As the director is appointed by the president, this extraordinary unchecked executive power opens the door to the same abuses that took place in the 1970s and before, when the CIA engaged in widespread spying on protest groups and other Americans.

  • Create a new crime of “domestic terrorism.” The Patriot Act transforms protesters into terrorists if they engage in conduct that “involves acts dangerous to human life” to “influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” The words “influence” and “coercion” have a wide range of meanings and allow for unbridled discretion. Furthermore, the law gives the attorney general and the secretary of state the power to detain or deport any non-citizen who belongs to or donates money to a broadly defined “domestic terrorist” group.

  • Allow for the indefinite detention of non-citizens. The attorney general can order detention based on a certification that he or she has “reasonable grounds to believe” a non-citizen endangers national security. Tangible proof is not a requirement, only a “reasonable belief”. Worse yet, if the foreigner does not have a country that will accept them, they can be detained indefinitely without trial.

 

US News Media: Counterpunch, Alice Donovan & the FBI

On December 25, 2017, a troubling article appeared in Counterpunch, a US media news outlet, regarding the writing of an alleged journalist/Russian troll, Alice Donovan.  Links to an additional article appeared on Counterpunch’s Facebook page on July 27, 2018. Overall, the articles allege Donavan is either an unimaginative writer that committed plagiarism as a sport, or that she is a Russian troll. However, Donavan’s transgressions and intent are irrevelant, what the story revealed in all its gory horror is how the US government concocts justifications to learn the identity and location of a given dissident, and how easily it scared an independent and alternative US news media outlet into become its slobbering accomplice.

In this case, the FBI alleged Donovan was a Russian agent that spread disinformation in the Clinton/Trump presidential campaign with the intent of effecting the national election, despite the fact that she did not submit articles specifically on Clinton or Trump. What the US government’s fishing expedition also revealed is that all US news media can’t be trusted, even ones with cute sounding reactionary names, such as Counterpunch. As Counterpunch not only admitted to bending over backwards to cooperate with the FBI, it also proudly declared its decision to up-the-ante and conduct its own investigation and exposé. Counterpunch analyzed the transmission times and IP address of Donovan’s submission emails; it included photos of the alleged Alice Donovan from other media sources in its articles about her; it interviewed other news media that hosted Donovan’s articles, and most outrageously actually asked Donovan to call them by phone and send a photo of her utility bill disclosing her physical location. Without surprise, Donovan declined both requests stating: “security reasons.” If there was ever a reason to give up US hosted media, write under a nom de plume, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), and accept payment only in crypto currency, this is it!

As anyone honestly committed to telling the truth will explain, it’s not about the messenger; it’s about the message. Under the Patriot Act, writers are safer in anonymity. But as anyone committed to telling the truth will also explain, when you eliminate one activist, ten are energized to take their respective place. Contrary to what PSYOPS wants the 99 percent to believe, there is strength in numbers. While imperialist greed through big payoffs may make for fast friendships, the shared love of truth and justice is priceless. It engenders a loyalty so strong it overcomes setbacks and hardship.

Origin of Facebook & Google

While the development of the Internet, data collection, surveillance and the global positioning system (GPS) can be attributed to the Department of Defense (DoD), Facebook and Google are also inexplicably linked to the CIA’s non-profit venture capital corporation, In-Q-Tel (IQT).

Within this context, Facebook can best be understood as the “friendly” replacement of DoD’s unpopular Information Awareness Office (IAO) which was created by its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2002 and defunded shortly thereafter in February 2003 by congress, due to public criticism that the development and deployment of its technology could potentially lead to an Orwellian styled mass surveillance system. The timing of Facebook’s development from the standpoint of DoD can at minimum be understood in regard to continuity as fortuitous if not planned – since Zuckerberg is credited with having launched Facebook on February 4, 2004 (within one year of IAO’s defunding).

Information Awareness Office (IAO) the Precursor to Facebook

As the precursor to Facebook, the Information Awareness Office (IAO) brought together several DARPA projects focused on applying surveillance with information technology by creating enormous computer databases to gather and store the personal information of everyone in the United States, including personal e-mails, social networks, credit card records, phone calls, medical records, and numerous other sources, without any requirement for a search warrant.

This information was then analyzed to look for suspicious activities, connections between individuals, and threats with the goal to increase the probability that authorized agencies of the United States could preempt adverse actions. It is important to note that adverse actions within this context are nebulous and thereby include any action that is perceived to counter US corporate short-term interests and security. Adverse actions as defined can include protests on both international and domestic issues by groups or individuals in thought, word or deed. Thus, internationally, those seeking to defend NAM countries against destabilization, invasion and occupation are engaged in adverse actions; and domestically, those seeking to protect human rights, constitutional rights and the environment are involved in adverse actions.

Just like IAO, Facebook invades and collects the email and telephone numbers of its users’ contacts in its Messenger component. Additionally, Facebook logs all photos and communications. Through its facial recognition component, Facebook links physical identities with names, locations, dates and times for easy surveillance. It also has a payment option, which allows Facebook to gain access to the financial institutions of its users. Groups centered on medical topics are densely populated on Facebook, and they encourage users to share their medical issues upon joining.

Facebook encourages its users to “complete their online profile” and list highly personal information such as: birthdate, gender, family members, school, workplace, intimate relationship, interests, religious and political views, hometown, current city as well as group affiliations. Through the recording of “likes” a granular sense of its users’ values and interests is also made known. This information, when taken in aggregate, allows for a profile so detailed and comprehensive that it amounts to a DoD agent’s wet dream.

According to Dave Chaffey in the Global Social Media Research summary, the number of social media users worldwide in 2018 is 3.196 billion. Statista claims Facebook has 2.2 billion active monthly user accounts; YouTube has 1.9 billion; Instagram has 1 billion; and Twitter has 336 thousand. Within this context, social media’s sphere of influence is enormous, as the earth’s population is estimated to be 7.6 billion in 2018, according to Worldometers.

Cutting Edge Social Media Metadata Scanning, Analysis and Management Software

Realizing anything written on this topic is already expired and anything truly mind-bending is classified and beyond reach, there is still a nifty development worth mentioning regarding social media data scanning, analysis and management software. Clearly NAM can benefit by utilizing social media software of this ilk to transmit communications to constituents, gauge reactions to proposed initiatives, and most importantly in the context of this article, quickly identify and stave off destabilizing social media surprise attacks by imperialist powers and their agents. This technology can be considered a 2018 anti ballistic missile (ABM) to social media attacks.

According to Wired media, in its 2009 article titled U.S. Spies Buy Stake in Firm that Monitors Blogs & Tweets, the CIA’s venture capital nonprofit, IQT wanted Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media, to keep track of foreign social media, and provide early-warning detection on how issues are playing internationally. With this technology it is also possible for intelligence agencies to compile information on political figures, critics, journalists or others, and to exploit such information for political advantage. Visible’s foreign languages capabilities include Arabic, French, Spanish and nine other languages.

According to G2 Crowd, a Software & Services marketing firm, the latest 2018 must-have in business software is a Social Media Suite. The suite has the capability to manage, monitor, and analyze information related to one or multiple social media accounts through a single product. As such, it can:

  • Plan and publish digital content via social media

  • Engage with communities via social media

  • Report on effectiveness of social media practices

  • Track regions and demographics of audience

  • Analyze performance of posts and campaigns

  • Monitor for related mentions and trends

Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Through third parties, Facebook, alike its forerunner IAO, permitted the analysis of its users data. In the Cambridge Analytica (CA) scandal it was revealed that Facebook exposed the personal data of 87 million users to a political consulting firm in which Trump advisor, Steve Bannon, was its vice president and founder. The intent was to use personal data against users to influence their respective vote in the 2016 US presidential election in favor of Trump. The work of CA was done by the SCL Group, its parent company. SCL describes its capabilities as Vox’s Andrew Prokop writes:

“SCL tends to describe its capabilities in grandiose and somewhat unsettling language – the company has touted its expertise at ”psychological warfare” and “influence operations.” It’s long claimed that its sophisticated understanding of human psychology helps it target and persuade people of its clients’ preferred message.”

It is important to note that SCL’s main client is NATO and the defense department of its member states. Another company that was involved in this scandal is Palantir. Peter Thiel, is Palantir’s chairman and founder, as well as a major contributor in the Trump campaign. Palantir not only has numerous contracts with the US Intelligence Community and Department of Defense like the SCL Group, but Thiel was Facebook’s primary investor, and he remains on its board of directors.

CA whistleblower Chris Wylie told British Members of Parliament that senior Palantir employees worked with the firm on the Facebook data to help it build models off of the dataset to use for political ad targeting purposes.

Facebook’s Social Contagion Study Scandal

Another known scandal involving Facebook is the Social Contagion Study, which was undertaken in 2012 by researchers from Facebook, Cornell University, and the University of California.

In the study, the posts of approximately 700,000 unsuspecting users of Facebook were secretly manipulated, for a week, to determine how emotional states were transmitted over the platform. In the experiment, Facebook altered the news feed content of users to control the number of posts that contained words with positive or negative charged emotions to spy on the users’ reactions. They found negative feeds resulted in the user making negative posts, where as positive feeds resulted in the user making positive posts.

The team concluded its study by saying that emotions are spread via contagion through social networks.

The study appeared in the June edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists (PNAS) under the title: Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks. According to the researchers:

Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.”

Facebook was publicly condemned when it became known that it conducted this Orwellian thought policing on unsuspecting users. The attack against Facebook worsened when it was discovered that one of the researchers of Facebook’s mind control study, Jeffrey T. Hancock of Cornell University, also received funding from the DoD’s Minerva Research Initiative to conduct a similar study entitled “Modeling Discourse and Social Dynamics in Authoritarian Regimes”.

Additionally, Cornell University was engaged with the Minerva Initiative and had a study funded through 2017 managed by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research, which aimed to develop an empirical model “of the dynamics of social movement mobilization and contagions”.

The project aimed to determine the “critical mass” (tipping point) of social contagions by studying their “digital traces” in the cases of “the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey.”

Facebook’s social contagion scandal also illustrates the disturbing ease that US educational facilities have in cooperating with the US military in experiments on human subjects without their knowledge or permission, in violation of ethical standards and protections.

DoD & the Minerva Initiative

The stated goal of the Minerva Initiative is to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S. The program seeks to achieve this by sponsoring research designed to bring together universities, research institutions, and individual scholars. In 2008, the project was provided $50 million by the United States Department of Defense. The journalist Nafeez Ahmed has expressed concern that Minerva research, in its effort to understand mass mobilization, may be targeting peaceful activists, NGOs and protest movements.

Social Network Analysis (SNA) & Unconventional Warfare (UW)

According to LTC Glenn Johnson, CW4 Maurice Duclos, Mr. Dan LeRoy in their article tittled: Mapping the Human Terrain: Applying Social Network Analysis (SNA) to an Unconventional Warfare (UW) Framework:

“Without a detailed understanding of the human terrain the Unconventional Warfare (UW) planner is uninformed about key aspects of the operating environment. SNA can provide the human terrain map needed to plan and execute UW operations. By developing a map of the human domain, SNA helps provide a description and picture of the resistance, opposition, or neutral entities, and can uncover how the population is segmented and how members interact with one another. SNA focuses on people’s behavior and how it is profoundly affected by their ties to other people and the social networks in which they are embedded.

Using SNA provides visualizations of people within their social spaces and assists in ranking their potential ability to influence those social spaces. This provides an understanding of the organizational dynamics of a resistance, insurgency, or counterinsurgency and highlights how to best influence, coerce, support, attack or exploit them. Collecting human terrain data to support SNA must be driven by commanders through focused efforts and should be conducted during every engagement with a foreign country.”

Examples of Social Network Analysis (SNA) & Unconventional Warfare (UW)

The US funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is credited for numerous destabilization efforts in NAM nation states under the guise of “democracy” or imperialist subjugation as it is better known and practiced, has some great information in its numerous articles discussing the tactical use of social media to fight proxy wars. Only in the examples it provides and resources it cites, just the Chinese and Russians and NAM nation states utilize this technology. NED remains absolutely silent on its US sponsor’s activities.

According to a brief prepared by Dean Jackson for NED through the International Forum for Democratic Studies: The velocity and volume of disinformation in the contemporary information space has amplified its effectiveness and left many members of the public increasingly angry, fearful, or disoriented. This leaves the public even more vulnerable to future manipulation, resulting in a cycle of declining public trust in objective sources of information which some analysts call truth decay.

According to NED, effective ways to use social media as an unconventional weapon in proxy wars is to:

  • React or create crisis by flooding information space and drowning out discussion via online trolling, harassment, and distraction, especially with highly active automated accounts. These techniques push independent voices out of public spaces and are can be considered a new form of political censorship.

  • Falsify evidence, push misleading narratives, and spread falsehoods. Use media and diplomatic resources concurrently to promote false stories at times of rising anti-government sentiment.

  • Create accounts that are partially automated and partially controlled by human users to avoid detection. These are often referred to as cyborg or sock puppet accounts.

  • Use preexisting divides within target societies to produce content for which there is societal demand. Disinformation is more effective when it’s amplifying existing political beliefs and divisions, as opposed to introducing new narratives into the public sphere. 

  • Use proactive disinformation campaigns to achieve real-world impact by influencing the actions of consumers.

  • Use disinformation around elections to influence citizens’ decisions to vote or to abstain from voting.

  • Use disinformation to promote a larger narrative over time or to degrade civic discourse by promoting division or cynicism.

 

Role of Social Media in Arab Uprisings

In an article by Heather Brown, Emily Guskin and Amy Mitchell titled: the Role of Social Media in the Arab Uprisings they state that the Arab uprisings could be deemed

Facebook or Twitter revolutions” as the news media focused heavily on young political opposition protesters mobilizing in the streets, armed with smartphones.

As almost immediately after the Arab uprisings began, there was debate over the role and influence of social media in the ouster of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the overthrow of Mubarak. “Social media indeed played a part in the Arab uprisings. Networks formed online were crucial in organizing a core group of activists, specifically in Egypt. Civil society leaders in Arab countries emphasized the role of the internet, mobile phones, and social media in the protests.”

Reality becomes distorted when all social media reference points endlessly repeat the same message concurrently. Within this context, civil unrest is born out of social contagion frenzy. An Egyptian man, who was a student protestor against Mubarak in 2011, confided in me that a crescendo of social media chatter goaded him into taking part in the protests. While he had been beaten by Mubarak’s police in an earlier incident and had personal reasons to protest, he still believes he was driven and manipulated through social media – especially since the locations to which he and his friends were led were followed by film crews and riot police too quickly after their arrival to have been un-staged.

Looking back, he now regrets taking part in the protests, as the removal of Mubarak created a power vacuum that led to greater economic and social struggle, and allowed imperial powers to take advantage of Egypt’s resources.

Personal Account of Facebook’s use of Unconventional Warfare (UW)

On April 18, 2018, I witnessed the Facebook Nicaragua expatriate groups I belong to transform its sleepy pages, that focused on advertising the best music and drink specials in town, to revolutionary pages seeking to overthrow the democratically elected sovereign government of Nicaragua.

Having just returned from Nicaragua two weeks earlier, after spending two peaceful months in San Juan Del Sur, I was shocked at the sudden and widespread vitriol controlling my newsfeed. First, I read how the government was corrupt in making changes to their social security system, and then I read how the government was murdering protestors. I knew from my understanding of Nicaragua’s history; President Ortega’s longstanding commitment to the country; its highly successful model of community policing; and the international context Nicaragua is forced to operate in due to repressive IMF loans and trade agreements, that there was more to this story.

Yet, there was no analysis anywhere to be found, only baseless accusations from predominantly white men and an occasional white woman living in Miami, Texas and Costa Rica. A number of Latinos from various locations in the United States later joined in the chatter claiming they were born in Nicaragua and thus justified in posting hostilities, when engaged in debate.

Property owners I personally knew also spoke against the government and joined in with inflammatory remarks. It is important to understand that President Ortega and the FSLN did not conduct purging campaigns to remove its bitter rightwing enemies/Somozistas. Under President Ortega’s compassionate and practical leadership, Nicaragua even forgave the Contras that its FSLN fought against once they agreed to lay down their arms.

Everywhere I looked the message of hate was the same, be it Facebook, Twitter or mainstream news media from the mouths of rightwing senators Marco Rubio and Ileana Ross-Lehtinen who staged meetings with protestors as well as alternative media such as Democracy Now and the Guardian. The understated president, Daniel Ortega, went from being an astute and beloved aged revolutionary hero to a merciless dictator in social media and the press within a few hours. The news feed was so similar, overwhelming, relentless and well packaged, that it seemed immediately like an expertly orchestrated massive disinformation campaign set by the imperial United States to remove President Ortega and the FSLN from office yet again.

Anytime I questioned the prevailing narrative on the Facebook expatriate groups, 10 to 15 users, with questionable profiles, ganged up on me. I was personally insulted, told to remove my posts, and threatened. They feared my comments. Additionally, my Facebook friends were contacted and insulted and told to “make me remove my posts”. I received phone calls on Facebook Messenger despite the fact that my friend’s list is hidden.

The questionable profiles that contacted me often listed present employment with an obscure non governmental organization (NGO), and/or prior employment with the US State Department, US military, or in one case a user listed his job as a “private investigator” that just returned from “doing security in Venezuela.”

Yet, what was most troubling to me was that people I knew from San Juan Del Sur were brainwashed by the massive and unrelenting wave of disinformation. PSYOPS temporarily worked. They began repeating hostile catch phrases against the government as if it was Holy Scripture. They would not read or watch anything in favor of the government, despite my best efforts through verbal and written communication. They made up their minds, based on social media and Google’s distorted reality, that revolution was what the majority of people in Nicaragua wanted. This distortion couldn’t be farther from the truth, as President Daniel Ortega was elected with over 70 percent of the vote. However, the barrage of repeating fake propaganda videos resulted in social contagion frenzy, similar to that experienced by the Arab students in Egypt.

As it turned out, many of the photos and videos posted and used to incite violence were actually taken in Mexico and Honduras years earlier and many of the “dead” were found resurrected in other parts of Nicaragua alive and well. However, armed criminal mercenaries called “peaceful student protestors” by the news and social media did murder police and civilians. Fortunately, distorted reality can only last a short time.

In Nicaragua, the government had control over the county within three months, as the news and social media lies became apparent to citizens and foreigners. Essentially, the criminal mercenaries that infiltrated the protests were not content to restrict their activities to the ones dictated by their US government employers. To supplement their wages, they robbed, raped and pillaged the communities to which they held hostage, and were systematically removed by local residents as well as the police.

Facebook’s Biased Reaction

Facebook automatically flagged and blocked my posts on Nicaragua’s expatriate groups, and group administrators removed the ones that slipped through. My posts merely explained the US government’s longstanding disinformation campaigns against Nicaragua. Then, Facebook and/or group administrators removed my access to the pages. Eventually, due to threats, I deleted my Facebook profile. However, PSYOPS did not succeed in silencing me; instead, it encouraged me to write for a larger audience.

Control over Dissent Using Facebook

In late July 2018, I created a new Facebook profile and began again to monitor Nicaragua expatriate news groups and post articles that support its sovereign government against slanderous untruths. On July 29th, Facebook removed and considered spam two articles that I posted: “The Case Against Daniel Ortega” by Chuck Kaufman hosted on the Libya360.Worldpress.com website and “Opposition Beyond the Violence in Nicaragua” by John Perry hosted on The Guardian website. Both articles non-violently support the sovereign government of Nicaragua. Fortunately, I was able in both instances to get the posts restored after clicking a few buttons. Yet I still remain unable to get Facebook or group administrators to remove articles that promote violence against the government. Despite my flagging of these fake articles for deletion under the Facebook categories: terrorism, violence, harassment, and hate speech, Facebook allows this vitriol to remain.

After posting a third article titled: “After the Failed Coup, After All the Lies, Nicaragua Rebuilds” by Tortilla Con Sal, hosted on the Telesur website, Facebook locked me out of my user account. The article I posted promoted peace and reconstruction. For the record, none of the articles I posted were ever in violation of Facebook’s community standards.

To unlock my user account, Facebook required me to upload a close-up photo of my face. Facebook’s clear bias against the content of my posts coupled with its desire to invade my physical privacy proved intimidating. Facebook, a corporate behemoth, had me vulnerable and exposed, as I could not access my account to delete it without first revealing my personal identity. Facebook is like the mighty Wizard of Oz in that its master is concealed behind a curtain and unreachable. Facebook lists no email address or phone number for “customer service”.

Did Facebook’s version of Orwell’s Thought Police flag my account? After a few deep breaths, I took a chance that Facebook would use its facial recognition software to confirm my physical identity against an Internet search. So, I found a close-up photo online that corresponded with the fake name I used to open my Facebook account, and uploaded it hoping for the best. It worked. I had access to my profile by the next morning. However, I continue to wonder if Facebook was fooled or if I am merely being given more opportunity to violate the Patriot Act in thought and word? Are my CIA, NSA, FBI and DoD “friends” continuing their surveillance of my personal communications on Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp applications just more closely? Under the Patriot Act, Facebook is mostly prohibited from disclosing law enforcement surveillance. According to Facebook, in its summary of its 2017 transparency report, it states:

“The US government requests for account data remained roughly even at 32,742, of which 62% included a non-disclosure order prohibiting Facebook from notifying the user, which is up from 57% during the first half of 2017.”

Other transparency report findings of note for Google, Verizon and AT&T are as follow:

“Google received 48,941 government data requests affecting 83,345 user accounts in the first six months of 2017.” And, “In the reporting period between 2016 and 2017, local, state and federal government authorities seeking information related to national security, counter-terrorism or criminal concerns issued more than 260,000 subpoenas, court orders, warrants, and other legal requests to Verizon and more than 250,000 such requests to AT&T.”

On May 24, 2018, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out how agencies like the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are collecting and analyzing content from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

Government surveillance of social media can have serious consequences, whether you’re a U.S. citizen, a lawful resident, or are seeking to immigrate to or visit the United States. The FBI appears to be using social media as a basis for deciding who to interview, investigate, or target with informants or undercover agents. A single Facebook post or tweet may be all it takes to place someone on a watch list, with effects that can range from repeated, invasive screening at airports to detention and questioning in the United States or abroad.”

With the proliferation of US government non-discloser surveillance, the use of facial recognition software, and the requirement to upload close-up photos to gain access to existing profiles, the velvet gloves are completely off Facebook as an iron fisted US government spy tool. The justification that this intrusive level of policing is merely to remove “fake profiles” doesn’t fly. There are alternate methods that do not compromise our constitutional and civil rights. This is a ruse, engineered by the NSA. Be warned.

Facebook Facial Recognition Software and the US National Security Agency (NSA)

As discussed by James Risen and Laura Poitras in their May 31, 2014 article titled: N.S.A. Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images, the National Security Agency (NSA) is actively harvesting massive amounts of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance efforts for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents.

The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal. The agency intercepts millions of images per day including about 55,000 facial recognition quality images which translate into tremendous untapped potential, according to 2011 documents obtained from the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden.”

In-Q-Tel (IQT)

In early 1999, with funding directed by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), input from Silicon Valley consultants and Norman Augustine, a former CEO of Lockheed-Martin, In-Q-It, a non-profit corporation was formed. Its core mission to improve the data collection and analysis capabilities of the CIA through access and control over emerging Information Technology (IT) remains intact to date. By March of 1999, the corporation received its first contract. In 2000, its name was changed to In-Q-Tel (IQT).

IQT invests in areas where there is both a CIA need and private sector interest. Examples of commercial applications that also support intelligence functions are: data warehousing and mining, knowledge management, profiling search agents, geographic information systems, imagery analysis and pattern recognition, statistical data analysis tools, language translation, targeted information systems, mobile computing, and secure computing.

Though IQT, the CIA has the option of purchasing products directly from the vendor or launching Research & Development (R&D) projects. While IQT’s present budget remains secret, its first year budget was $28 million. According to a 2013 Fox Business News report, IQT claims that for every dollar it invests in a company, the venture community invests over $9. Further, it claimed that it had leveraged more than $3.9 billion in private-sector funds.

R&D remains the core of its activities. Sometimes IQT assembles teams of companies to create the solution it seeks; other times it is a co-investor in a fledgling company with additional business partners. IQT also uses request for proposal. Essentially, IQT is empowered to use whatever model meets its objective.

In the area of R&D, the CIA’s agreement with IQT allows it and/or its partners to retain title to the innovations created, and to freely negotiate the allocation of Intellectual Property (IP) derived revenues. The only major stipulation is that the CIA retain traditional “government purpose rights” to the innovations. This agreement has allowed IQT to amass considerable financial resources secretly over the last nineteen years since its inception. Also, this agreement has permitted collaborating and beholden individuals to become extremely wealthy and powerful.

To restrict contracting to specific entities, and to achieve privacy from oversight authorities, IQT uses DARPA’s contract model called “Other Transactions” (OT). OT contracts enable IQT to bypass Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), which requires competition in federal contracting.

Because of the clandestine nature of IQT’s work and its key relationship to the CIA, both entities remain extremely vulnerable to security risks during solution transfer.

Origin of Facebook

While no record of the CIA directly funding Facebook through IQT is apparent, members of IQT’s top management are founding members and/or board members of Facebook. Some of Facebook’s allure to users is that Mark Zuckerberg and his friends started the company from a Harvard dorm room and that he remains the chairman and chief operating officer. If he didn’t exist, he would need to be invented by Facebook’s marketing department. Primarily, the legend and image of a fresh faced Zuckerberg provides a palatable context that entices young people to voluntarily part with their constitutional right to privacy for social acceptance. Though subtle coercion, young people come to believe that in order to be “liked” by their peers, they need to be part of the Facebook brand.

A few months after Facebook was formed in 2004, it received its first capital injection from Peter Thiel, a member of the Steering Committee of the exclusive Bilderberg Group, the drivers of globalization. Members include political leaders, key members from the intelligence community, and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media. According to Global Research’s Stephen Lendman, in his May 2014 article titled: The True Story of the Bilderberg Group and What they May Be Planning Now:

“Bilderbergers want to supplant individual nation-state sovereignty with an all-powerful global government, corporate controlled, that’s check-mated by militarized enforcement.”

In August of 2004, Thiel acquired a 10.2% stake in Facebook for $500,000. The next two capital injections were $12.7 million from Thiel and Accel Partners in May 2005 and then $27.5 million from an Accel-led round of financing that included Thiel, Accel and Greylock Partners in April 2006. In 2012, Thiel sold the majority of his shares for over $1 billion, but remains on the board of directors.

Essentially, IQT is linked to Facebook through Thiel, and Thiel is linked to IQT through his firm Palantir. So, to understand Facebook it is first necessary to understand Palantir, then Thiel.

Palantir

According to Wikipedia, Palantir was started in 2004. Its only outside backer was the CIA’s nonprofit venture capital firm, IQT. Through pilots facilitated by IQT with computer scientists and analysts from intelligence agencies, Palantir’s technology was developed over a three-year period. A document leaked to TechCrunch revealed that Palantir’s clients as of 2013 included at least twelve groups within the U.S. government, including the CIA, DHS, FBI, CDC, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point, the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization and Allies, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Peter Thiel

According to Wikipedia, Peter Thiel was born in Germany and holds German, American and New Zealand citizenship. Besides being a member of the Bilderberg Group’s Steering Committee as referred to earlier, Thiel is the co-author of an anti-multicultural book titled “The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus”, where his racist and misogynist bias is apparent in his argument that multiculturalism in colleges is hurting education and that some cases of alleged date rape are actually seductions that are later regretted.

Despite his apology, issued 20 years after the book was published, he gave $1.2 million to the campaign of then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who ran on a white nationalist campaign. Thiel is also is a member of the super PAC called: Make America Number 1. The super PAC is credited with donating funds to Steve Bannon, via a shell company he heads named Glittering Steel. Bannon is widely considered a racist, anti-Semite and white nationalist. The supper PAC also donated funds to rightwing Senator Ted Cruz. With Thiel’s clear intent and bias, it should be no surprise that the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal favored Trump in the election, and that the violent prevailing narrative against Nicaragua, supported by Ted Cruz, is impossible to remove from Facebook’s expatriate group pages.

Accel Partners: In 2004, Accel partner James Breyer sat on the board of directors of military defense contractor Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) with IQT’s CEO Gilman Louie. BBN is known for essentially helping to create email and the Internet for the DoD. Breyer is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Greylock Partners: Howard Cox, the head of Greylock, served on IQT’s board of directors. Before Greylock, Cox served two years in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Origin of Google

Launched in 1998, Google is one of the world’s largest media companies. While the Department of Defense (DoD), CIA, NSA and Google’s marketing department would like users to believe that its founders, Stanford University students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed software independent of the DoD, the truth is they didn’t. They were both on the payroll of the National Science Foundation (NSF) while working on its Stanford Digital Library Project (SDLP). This library project is similar to Google in that it involved the creation of search algorithms to scan large quantities of data to find relationships.

The NSF is funded by the US federal government and expresses in its mission statement its intention to “secure the national defense”. NSF has a longstanding relationship with the DoD’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Nothing requiring serious funding and real paychecks involving Information Technology and US Universities is done without DARPA knowledge as detailed below:

“In the 1970s, the agency responsible for developing emerging technologies for military, intelligence, and national security purposes the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) linked four supercomputers to handle massive data transfers. It handed the operations off to the National Science Foundation (NSF) a decade or so later, which proliferated the network across thousands of universities and, eventually, the public, thus creating the architecture and scaffolding of the World Wide Web.”

Not only was Google’s development nurtured by NSF/DARPA, but Google was also was aided by the secretive Massive Digital Data Systems (MDDS) program which was administered by private contractors for the CIA and NSA. The MDDS program sought to identify the digital fingerprints of users inside the World Wide Web so information requests could be tracked, sorted and aggregated to reveal individual proclivities and that of like-minded others with the intention of assembling target groups for easy surveillance so as to predict and counter their plans. The MDDS project was named Birds of a Feather with the thinking that like-minded individuals will engage in coordinated action together, just as birds fly in predictable V-formations. Predictability is key to the CIA in its efforts to weaponize social unrest. MDDS is considered to have helped create the design breakthrough that Google was built upon

Google has been an obvious partner with the CIA since 2004 when the company bought Keyhole from IQT, the CIA’s venture capital nonprofit. EarthViewer, Keyhole’s mapping technology software, became Google Earth.

Google and Social Media’s Influence

Besides geographic and locational tracking, Google assists the government in its efforts to write, and rewrite, history. According to its Google’s transparency report, the US government has named 79,901 items for removal since 2009. To add perspective to this number, consider that for this same period in time, Venezuela has named 10 items for removal, and Nicaragua has named 1 item for removal.

Content Placement in Social Media and Google

Olivia Solon and Sam Levin detail, in their December 16, 2016 article for The Guardian, How Google’s Search Algorithm Spreads False Information with a Rightwing Bias. According to the authors, search and autocomplete algorithms prioritize sites with rightwing bias, and far-right groups trick it to boost propaganda and misinformation in search rankings. As described below, the authors uncovered this bias in environmental as well as social and political examples:

“Following a recent investigation by the Observer, which found that Google’s search engine prominently suggests neo-Nazi websites and anti-Semitic writing, the Guardian has uncovered a dozen additional examples of biased search results. Google’s search algorithm and its autocomplete function prioritize websites that, for example, declare that climate change is a hoax, being gay is a sin, and the Sandy Hook mass shooting never happened.”

To test this allegation out, I entered the following text: “Socialism is…” Autocomplete added: “…is for figs.” The full sentence with autocomplete then read: “Socialism is for figs.” Photos of a red t-shirt appeared. On the t-shirt is a drawing of Che Guevara, a limp wrist, and text. Upon review, I found that an extreme rightwing group is marketing this t-shirt. The word “figs” in the text is written with a missing “I” that is replaced with the drawing of a fig hanging from a tree branch. Because of drawing of a limp wrist, this text can be interpreted by the reader to mean that socialism is for “fags.” In the US, the word “fag” is a derogatory name for homosexuals, and a limp wrist is a derogatory symbol. This supports the Guardian’s observation of Google’s bias against homosexuals as well its bias against socialists. Additionally, the fig fruit represents the name of the village in Bolivia where Che Guevara was captured and murdered. Thus, the fig represents a death threat against socialists. Hopefully, a socialist cyber activist can remove this blight against a beloved revolutionary hero.

Google’s Influence in Elections

As explained by Robert Epstein, from the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, Google has the power to rig elections through something he calls the search engine manipulation effect (SEME). Based on his four years trying to reverse engineer Google’s search algorithms, he concludes that:

“We know that if there’s a negative autocomplete suggestion in the list, it will draw somewhere between 5 and 15 times as many clicks as a neutral suggestion,” Epstein said. “If you omit negatives for one perspective, one hotel chain or one candidate, you have a heck of a lot of people who are going to see only positive things for whatever the perspective you are supporting. Even changing the order in which certain search terms appear in the autocompleted list can make a huge impact, with the first result drawing the most clicks, he said.”

Appearing on the first page of Google search results can give websites undue authority and traffic.

These platforms are structured in such a way that they are allowing and enabling, consciously or unconsciously, more extreme views to dominate,” said Martin Moore from Kings College London’s Centre for the Study of Media, Communication and Power.”

Epstein believes these two manipulations work together and have a profound impact on people, since they are unaware it is being done. He believes this is compounded by Google’s personalization of search results. This means users see different results based on their interests.

According to politico.com, the problem is that more than 75 percent of all online searches in the United States are conducted on Google. Thus, if Google’s CEO, a rogue employee or the search algorithm favors one candidate, there is no way to counteract that influence. Politico’s research shows that even when people do notice they are seeing biased search rankings, their voting preferences still shift in the desired directions toward the bias. It’s as if the bias is serving as a form of social proof. The thinking is that if the search engine prefers one candidate, that candidate must be the best. Biased rankings are hard for individuals, regulators and election watchdogs to detect as SEME is easy to hide through customized search results.

In Wired’s 2010 article titled: Exclusive: Google, CIA Invest in ‘Future’ of Web Monitoring, it discusses the company Recorded Future, that is funded by both the CIA’s IQT non-profit and Google. Both IQT and Google Ventures have seats on Recorded Future’s board. Not only does the software, Recorded Future, scour websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents in the present, but also in the future. In looking at the invisible links between documents that mention similar or related entities and events, it can figure out the participants, the location, and predict when it might occur. According to Recoded Future, the software can assemble actual real-time dossiers on people. Recoded Future maintains an index with more than 100 million events.

“The cool thing is, you can actually predict the curve, in many cases,” says company CEO Christopher Ahlberg, a former Swedish Army Ranger with a PhD in computer science.”

Content Placement in Social Media and Google

Besides taking proactive security measures, activists and the NAM can benefit by controlling the technology that decides the placement of supportive material on social media and Google. As most involved in the drafting and dissemination of content already know, everything that departs from the prevailing imperialist narrative is automatically considered subversive and blocked. While quality content continues to exist, locating it on the Internet is like finding a needle in a haystack, even when one already knows what is being sought, by whom, and from where.

The latest trick is for a news item of interest to be blocked by a message warning of an “expired security certificate” and threatening “a virus upon opening”. This was found on an article titled: Cyber warfare: Challenge of Tomorrow, by none other than Counterpunch’s plagiarist spy Alice Donovan.

The Cost of US Cyber Warfare

The United States 2019 proposed intelligence budget at $73 billion has nearly doubled since 2005. This figure includes the National Intelligence Program (NIP) budget at $54.6 billion and Military Intelligence Program (MIP) budget at $18.4 billion. Back in 2005, there was no MIP budget. The total NIP Budget was $39.8 billion, which is still an exorbitant amount of money.

The NIP funds Intelligence Community (IC) activities in six Federal Departments and two independent agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, the Department of Energy, the Department of Treasury, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

As described in by the Washington Post in its article titled: “The Black Budget”, the CIA, NSA and National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) received more than 68 percent of the 2013 black budget. The CIA received $14.7 billion, the NSA $10.8 billion, and NRO $10.3 billion. Within its funding mission categories, $20.3 billion was for Warning U.S. leaders about critical events and $17.2 billion was for Combating Terrorism.

In looking at the new 2019 MIP budget, one can better understand how new initiatives and training in cyber warfare are being funded. Take for example the US Air Force Cyberspace Defense Operations (IB4X1) Summary description:

“Personnel in the Cyber Warfare Operations specialty perform duties to develop, sustain, and enhance cyberspace capabilities. These capabilities are used to defend national interests from attack and to create effects in cyberspace to achieve national objectives.” “They conduct both offensive and defensive cyberspace operations. They act to protect cyberspace systems from adversarial access and attack. They execute command and control (C2) of assigned cyberspace forces and de-conflict cyberspace operations. They will partner with Department of Defense, interagency, and Coalition Forces.”

While the US government clearly takes the lead in unconventional warfare technology, due to its massive resources and funding, it leaves in its wake tons of technological opportunities ripe to be exploited. What can’t be appropriated can be protested. Just don’t post anything tactical on the Internet or use smart phones, because your “friends” in the US government are watching. Take heart, this elaborate surveillance system was devised because the ruling elite is outnumbered. Knowledge is power.

[Lauren Smith, author of historical fiction, has a BA in Politics, Economics and Society from SUNY at Old Westbury and an MPA in International Development Administration from New York University. Her novel on Nicaragua’s 1979 revolution is due out in 2019.]

Accomplishments of Eleven Years of the “Process of Change” in Evo Morales’ Bolivia

Chicago Alba Solidarity

January 4, 2018

by Stansfield Smith

 

Evo Morales will soon have been the president of Bolivia for 12 years, heralding the ascent of the indigenous social movements to governmental power. This ended the apartheid system against the indigenous that existed for 500 years in Bolivia. Evo won in 2005 with 53.7% of the vote, followed by re-elections in 2009 with 64.2% and 2014 with 61.3%.

The country has made great strides in economic development, national sovereignty, women’s and Original Peoples’ rights, respect for Mother Earth, raising the people’s standard of living, level of education, and health care.

His presidency, which has brought an era of relative social peace and economic growth, has been the longest in Bolivia’s history. Since 1825 Bolivia has had 83 presidents with 37, almost half, by means of coup d’etats. Previous presidents typically lacked social legitimacy, representing a political system that excluded participation of the indigenous peoples, plagued by social and economic inequality, subjugated to foreign interests, and complicit with the looting of natural resources. By 2002, after years of neoliberal regimes serving foreign, mostly US corporations, the proportion of the rural population living in extreme poverty had risen to 75%.

The election of Evo, a campesino movement leader and head of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), began what his government describes as the “Process of Change” that shifted power away from Bolivia’s traditional elite, the mostly white owners of industry and agriculture, and towards the majority, the mostly indigenous workers and campesinos.

Reflecting on the historic significance of the changes underway in Bolivia, Morales declared: “We are the indigenous blood of Mother Earth. Until now Bolivia has been ruled by a few families that have all the political and economic power. They despise, humiliate, marginalize and hate the majority of the indigenous population.” “After 525 years of colonization, we indigenous peoples are part of the construction of a new Plurinational State and we have full particpation in international political organizations and forums.” 

Why Has Economic Development Been so Successful During the Process of Change

The MAS government undertook an anti-neoliberal  program, which has enabled the economy to grow an average 5% per year since 2006, compared to 2.8% during the years 1951-2005. As a result, the Gross Domestic Product has grown four-fold from $9 billion in 2005 to  $36 billion today.  Bolivia has become the fastest growing economy in Latin America.

Economic strategy focused on regaining national sovereignty over the country’s natural resources and using this wealth not to enrich foreign multinationals but to raise the standard of living of the neglected people of Bolivia. In 2006 Evo Morales asserted public ownership over the country’s gas and oil resources, making foreign companies turn over extractive industry resources to the state. The state now fully controls  sales, transport and distribution as well as key decisions regarding the extraction and refining of raw materials. The nationalization decree also forced foreign oil companies to renegotiate contracts with the new administration. Today, foreign corporations still extract most of Bolivia’s natural gas, but do so as contractors hired by the state, on the state’s terms.

Prior to the nationalizations (not only of gas and oil, but telecommunications, water, electricity, and a number of mines), foreign corporations pocketed about 85% of the profits generated by natural gas production. Morales increased the country’s profit share from gas from about 15% before his presidency to between 80-90%.[i] In 2005, before nationalization, government gas revenues totaled $0.6 billion; in 2015 it was over four times as much, $2.6 billion – in fact down from $4.5 billion in 2014.

In 2015 all gas and oil revenues yielded $4 billion, making up nearly half of Bolivia’s export earnings.

Over ten years, Evo’s Bolivia has gained $31.5 billion from the nationalizations, compared to a mere $2.5 billion earned during the previous ten years of neoliberal policies. This vastly increased revenue, largely used to benefit the people, starkly exemplifies the extent the people have been robbed to serve foreign corporate interests.

By the end of 2013 the state-owned portion of the economy reached 35%, double that of previous neoliberal governments. The state has become the main generator of wealth, and public investment amounted to over $5 billion in 2016, compared to a mere $629 million in 2006.  Much of this new revenue funds the country’s impressive development, infrastructure, community projects, such as schools, gyms, clinics, roads, and subsidies for agricultural production. It is spent on the people’s health and education, on price controls for staple foods, on wage increases, and social security benefits.

This humane redistribution of national wealth away from corporate interests to serving the poor majority has allowed one in five Bolivians, two million people, to escape a life of poverty. Even the World Bank has recognized the country as world champion in income growth for the poorest 40% of its population.

In the US, the government is taking the opposite course, turning its back on the poor. Here the poverty has grown over the same period, from 12.3% to 12.7%.[ii] Vacant homes number 18,600,000  – enough for each homeless person to have 6. The government cut food stamps by $8.7 billion in 2014,  cut 500,000 poor from the program in 2016, with plans to slash $19.3 billion per year for ten years. Yet Washington increases the military budget this year by $80 billion, an amount that could make public college free.

For Bolivia to industrialize and diversify the economy, to move away from dependence on natural resource exports, is a difficult long-term task. The country did create 485,000 jobs in the productive sector between 2006-2010, and developed industries to process natural resources.[iii] It advanced significantly its agricultural production, now providing 95% of the country’s food.  Yet raw materials still account for  90% of Bolivia’s exports.

Big investments are underway in infrastructure construction, hydrocarbon exploration, industrialization of natural gas (for fertilizers and plastics), more lithium production, and electric power for export. “Here we have the presence of China, with cooperation without pre-conditions, with credit without conditions,” Evo Morales said, contrasting Chinese aid to Western aid.

New Social Programs to Eliminate Poverty

In Bolivia under Evo, poverty has declined from 60.6% of the population in 2005 to 38.6% in 2016. Extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.25 per day) fell from 38% to 16.8%. The real minimum wage has risen from 440 bolivars a month to 2,000 a month, (from $57 to $287) Unemployment stands at under 4%, the lowest in Latin America, down from 8.5% in 2005.

Here are some of the measures to combat poverty:

  1. Electricity has been brought to 66% of rural homes by 2015, up from 25% in 2001.
  2. Over 127,000 homes have been created for low income Bolivians who lack housing. Another 23,000 homes will be built in 2018.
  3. The Juancito Pinto program aims to increase school attendance and reduce child labor. It presently reaches 2 million children, who each receive $28 annually upon finishing their school year.
  4. The Juana Azurduy program combats maternal and infant mortality, as well as malnutrition in children under two years old. Mothers can receive up to $266 from the program. UNICEF has pointed out the effectiveness of these social programs. Chronic undernourishment in children under wo has sharply fallen from 27%, when the program started in 2009 to 16% now, and infant mortality has been cut in half just since 2008.
  5. The Renta de la Dignidad is a payment to the 900,000 Bolivians over 60 years old, who would otherwise receive no pension. Incapacitated and disabled people now receive 250 bolivianos ($36) monthly and guaranteed job placement in public and private institutions.

More than 4.8 million Bolivians – in a country of just over 10 million – today benefit from these  programs, progams which not just combat poverty, but  improve public health and education.

Meanwhile in the US the bottom 90% of households are poorer today than they were in 1987.

Bolivia has cut income inequality by two-thirds, with the share of income of the top 10% vis-à-vis the poorest 10% has dropped from 128 to 1 in 2005 to 37 to 1 in 2016.

In the US, after years of neoliberal programs, we have the shocking fact that the three richest US citizens have more wealth than the bottom 50% of the population.

Gains for Rights of Original Peoples

The country, after a national discussion initiated by Bolivia’s five main indigenous campesino organizations, adopted a new constitution. The new document recognized Bolivia as a Plurinational State, with equal status and autonomy for Original Peoples, and also reclaimed control over natural resources. The new government has even established a Ministry of Decolonization (with a Depatriarchalization Unit) to further the uprooting of the previous apartheid system. By 2011, 90 of the 166 elected representatives of the national assembly came directly from the ranks of the progressive social movements. [iv]

Gains in Education and Health Care

Bolivia had an illiteracy rate of 13% when Evo Morales became president. After a mass literacy campaign that used Cuba’s YES I CAN program, 850,000 were educated and by 2008 Bolivia was declared free of illiteracy.  The country is second to Cuba in Latin America in terms of funding education. There are now 16,000 educational establishments in the country, 4,500 of them were built since 2006 with the funds from the nationalized gas industry.

Life expectancy of Bolivians during Evo’s presidency has increased from 64 years to 71 years. This is partly the result of the almost 700 members of the Cuban medical brigade working in the country. Cuba’s Operation Miracle has also enabled 676,000 Bolivians to have had their vision restored. Moreover, around 5,000 Bolivians have obtained their medical degrees in Cuba, going back to their country to provide their services. The country now has 47 new hospitals and over 3,000 health centers being built.

Land Distribution and Food Self-Sufficiency

Before Evo became president, 5% of property owners owned 70% of the arable land.[v] From 2006-2010 over 35 million hectares of land (1/3rd of Bolivia), was handed over to Original Peoples’ peasant communities to be run communally. This included government lands, large estates, and forest. Another 21 million hectares previously occupied illegally by large landowners were declared public lands, mostly protected forests.[vi] The land reform law expropriated underutilized lands, and permitted seizure of property from landowners employing forced labor or debt peonage. In all, approximately 800,000 low-income peasants have benefited. Of those who received titles to their land, 46% have been women. For the first time since the European conquest, smallholders control 55% of all land. The government ensures that these small producers receive preferential access to equipment, supplies, loans, and state subsidized markets, key factors in enabling the country to become self-sufficient in food.

US Interference and Regime Change Attempts

As John Perkins points out in Confessions of an Economic Hitman, any government pursuing anti-neoliberal economic policies or its own foreign policy independent of the US, as the case with Rafael Correa’s Ecuador and Evo’s Bolivia, becomes a US target for overthrow.

Evo Morales has become one of Washington’s most disfavored leaders in the Americas.  Washington continues to be concerned about Evo revolutionizing the indigenous movements in the region, and  tries to tarnish his reputation as an indigenous movement leader.

Wikileaks documents show that the US tried to undermine the presidencies of Evo Morales and Rafael Correa even before they were elected. Right after Evo’s inauguration, the US ambassador made it clear to him that funding by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank and IMF depended on his “good behavior,” [vii] that is: back off nationalizing Bolivia’s petroleum resources. When Morales rejected these “orders,” including naming government ministers and military leaders without seeking prior US embassy consent, Washington began financing Bolivian opposition groups seeking to overthrow the indigenous government.

Washington  used USAID, NED [National Endowment for Democracy], IDB, World Bank, and IMF, to take punitive measures such as vetoing multilateral loans, postponing talks on alleviating Bolivia’s foreign debts, and discouraging international loans and grants. US Ambassador Greenlee wrote in a cable, in January 2006, just months after Morales’ election, “U.S. assistance, the largest of any bilateral donor by a factor of three, is often hidden by our use of third parties to dispense aid with U.S. funds.” He noted “many USAID-administered economic programs run counter to the direction the GOB [Government of Bolivia] wishes to move the country.”

US embassy cables showed Washington sought to create divisions in the social and indigenous movements that make up the support base of the country’s first indigenous-led government. Despite recognizing these were “traditionally confrontational organizations” vis-a-vis the US, Greenlee believed that “working more closely with these social sector representatives” who expressed dissent towards Morales “seems to be most beneficial to [US government] interests”.

USAID poured at least $85 million into Bolivia. Initially, the US hoped to destabilize the government by training the separatists in the richer Santa Cruz area in the eastern lowlands. USAID money flowed to groups in these opposition-based areas, as part of “USAID’s larger effort to strengthen regional governments as a counter-balance to the central government.” [viii]

Soon these eastern regions, the Media Luna, were in open rebellion, demanding a referendum on autonomy. Resulting protests led to the killing of at least 20 MAS supporters who had mobilized to crush the rebellion. The separatists’ goal was to divide Bolivia into two separate republics: a poor one governed by an indigenous majority and a much wealthier one run by European descendants in the areas home to the gas transnationals and large agribusiness.

The US never denounced opposition violence, not even after the massacre of the MAS supporters. Moreover, the US Embassy knew in advance of the opposition plans to blow up gas lines, but did not report it, nor even attempt to dissuade the opposition from doing so.[ix]

Evo was soon to expel US Ambassador Goldberg for his interference. Nevertheless, USAID  “still channeled at least $200 million into the country since 2009.”  USAID was eventually expelled in 2013.

Once the Media Luna separatist plan collapsed,[x] USAID switched to courting indigenous communities by using environmental NGOs. The Aymaras – Evo is one — and Quechuas, Bolivia’s two largest indigenous peoples, live mostly in the highlands and central regions. The east is home to the remaining 34 indigenous peoples. In 2011 new anti-government protests in the east again arose, this time around a planned TIPNIS highway.

Protests against the Government around the TIPNIS (Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory)

The Bolivian government planned to build a highway — actually to widen, pave and connect two roads with a 20-40 mile new connector — going through the TIPNIS. Western funded NGOs along with some local indigenous groups organized an international campaign against the MAS government, claiming Evo was repressing the indigenous and destroying untouched nature. This campaign was partly funded by USAID  and received sympathetic reporting in NACLA, UpsideDownWorld, Amazon Watch, and other liberal-left alternative media, which either omitted or discounted the US role. Avaaz [xi] and allied NGOs in solidarity with the protest groups organized international petition of protest. This foreign interference served to exacerbate a resolvable internal Bolivian dispute.

Fred Fuentes and Cory Morningstar wrote several exposés of this Western campaign against Evo, the covering up of the facts surrounding the TIPNIS road and the protests, including the USAID funding.[xii]  Evo Morales even revealed transcripts of phone calls between the anti-highway march organizers and U.S. embassy officials, including calls right before the march set out.

That the TIPNIS protest leaders supported the REDD (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), which would give Western NGOs and these indigenous groups funds for monitoring TIPNIS forests, was also not mentioned by liberal-left alternative media. REDD uses poor nations for carbon offsets so corporations in rich countries can continue polluting.

Many Western solidarity activists uncritically supported the anti-highway march. Many of their articles about the issue downplayed and made no mention of connections between the protest leaders and Washington and the Santa Cruz right wing.

Eventually the issue was resolved through a consultation process, and 55 of the 69 TIPNIS indigenous communities agreed to the road.[xiii]

US Manipulation Helped Cause Evo’s Loss in the 2016 Constitutional Referendum

The US again intervened to influence the February 21, 2016 referendum to change the constitution to allow Evo Morales to run again for the presidency. A smear campaign against him took place, including false stories of his corruption, nepotism, and fathering a child with a lover, which led to him losing the vote. The day is now recognized as the “Day of the Lie.” On the 2017 anniversary, mobilizations around the country backed the Process of Change and rejected the previous year’s vote. Washington is already at work to block his renomination in 2019.

USAID and NED Funding of Oppositional Forces

According to Bolivia’s Cabinet Chief Juan Ramon Quintana, from 2006-2015 NED funded around 40 institutions in Bolivia including economic and social centers, foundations and non-governmental organizations, for a total of over $10 million. For 2013, the combined NED and USAID allocations for Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia totaled over $60 million, with the bulk of these funds destined to Cuba and Ecuador.

The Issue of  “Extractivism” in Bolivia

Linda Farthing notes that in world colonial and neocolonial history,  “the exploitation of [Bolivia’s] considerable natural resources has also been nearly unparalleled.”  It included Spain’s richest gold and silver mine, one the richest tin mines, two of today’s  largest silver and iron ore mines, half of the world’s lithium,  and South America’s second largest gas reserves.  She adds, “It comes as no surprise that Bolivia’s history and environment have been dominated by relentless extraction.”

A central challenge facing Latin American governments is overcoming this dependency on raw material exports to a world market controlled by Western powers. This issue, who some present as “extractivism,” has become one of the main points of liberal-left and environmental NGO criticism of the positive changes in both Evo’s Bolivia and Correa’s Ecuador.

 “Extractivism” is a deliberately politically neutral and ahistorical term that conceals the brutal history that created the present First World-Third World system. “Extractivism” glosses over what has been 500 years of mass murder of Original Peoples, their slavery and semi-slavery for the purpose of plundering their gold, silver and other natural resources.

The Third World remains dependent on raw material exports, with their economies fragmented into specialized extractive industries geared towards a world market controlled by the First World, alongside backward, low-tech domestic industries and a bloated informal sector.

Bolivia cannot compete in industrial production with countries with more modern institutions, citizens with a higher educational level, developed infrastructure, and with access to the sea. To break free from being a low-cost provider of raw materials, whether mineral or agricultural, will be a long process.

As Fred Fuentes notes,  the question of “extractivism” centers on how a Third World country like Bolivia can overcome centuries of colonialism and neocolonialism to provide its people with basic services while trying to respect the environment. The main culprits are not Bolivian, but  the Western governments and their corporations. Defenders of the indigenous and Bolivia  must demand the West pay its ecological debt and transfer the necessary technology for sustainable development to countries such as Bolivia. “Until this occurs, activists in rich nations have no right to tell Bolivians what they can and cannot do to satisfy the basic needs of their people. Otherwise, telling Bolivian people that they have no right to a highway or to extract gas to fund social programs (as some NGOs demanded), means telling Bolivians they have no right to develop their economy or fight poverty.”

Environmental Achievements

Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Linera points out that Bolivia contributes 0.1% of the world’s greenhouse gases, but its trees clean 2% of the world’s carbon dioxide, resupplying that as oxygen. He attacks the Western “colonial, elitist environmental NGOs” for imposing their environmental demands on the Third World, saying they are blind to the Third World’s right to development.

Fuentes called out Western so-called defenders of Bolivia’s environment who attack Evo Morales over extractivism, for not devoting a single article on how the government has drastically cut deforestation 64% between 2010-2013. He asked, “why have media outlets, seemingly so concerned about Bolivia’s environment, failed to investigate what might be the steepest reduction in greenhouse gas emission per capita of any country in the world?”

They also do not mention that in South America, Bolivia has the greatest number of trees per inhabitant. Peru has 1,500, Brazil 1,400, Argentina 1,200, Colombia 1000, Ecuador, 600, Paraguay 2, 500. Bolivia has 5,400. And this year they will plant another 5 million.

Misrepresenting the Morales government’s environmental record often aims to delegitimize Morales’ position not only as a leading spokesperson for the indigenous but  in the global fight against climate change. Evo has rejected the carbon offset REDD schemes many Western environmental NGOs supported and clearly blames global warming on the  First World’s capitalist operations. “I’m convinced that capitalism is the worst enemy of humanity and the environment, enemy of the entire planet.”  He has demanded the Western rich countries repay their climate debt by transfer of technology and funds to the Third World.

Bolivia as a center of anti-imperialist social movements

The Bolivian government has sought to build political alliances with other governments and social movements in order to help strengthen the global forces for fundamental change. Liberal-left critics of Evo Morales, who attack him around TIPNIS, “extractivism,” even for being a neoliberal, so often willing to offer  a checklist of measures for how Bolivian socialism should be built, so often willing to portray Evo Morales as backtracking after he took office,  tend to go mum on his anti-imperialist measures, conferences, and statements.

Evo Morales has become an outspoken world leader against US hegemony and has pushed hard to make Bolivia a center of anti-imperialist social movements. Bolivia organized a number of international conferences: People’s Summit on Climate Change (2010), Anti-imperialist and Anticolonial Summit of the Peoples of Latin America and the World (2013), Anti-Imperialist International Trade Union Conference (2014),  the G77 Summit of 133 Third World nations (2014), the key promotor of the United Nations’ World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (2014), World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Defense of Life  (2015), World Conference of the Peoples For a World Without Borders towards Universal Citizenship (2017).

He has called for rich countries to pay climate reparation to those poorer ones suffering the effects of climate change. Warning of a coming “climate holocaust” that will destroy parts of Africa and many island nations, he called for an international climate court of justice to prosecute countries for climate crimes.

In 2016 he inaugurated a military “Anti-Imperialist Commando School,” saying “We want to build anti-colonial and anti-capitalist thinking with this school that binds the armed forces to social movements and counteracts the influence of the School of the Americas that always saw the indigenous as internal enemies.”

Besides expelling the US ambassador and USAID for their roles in coup plotting, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was expelled in 2009 for its actions against social organizations and for interfering with the actual struggle against narcotrafficking.

Evo Morales’ anti-cocaine program has resulted in land used for coca production being reduced by one-fifth since 2005. [xiv] The OAS considers Bolivia’s program “a best practice…[worthy of] replication”; it is also praised by the UN Office of Drug Control. The DEA’s military base was transformed into the Cochabamba airport and renamed Soberania [Sovereignty].

“I am pleased to have expelled the U.S. ambassador, the Drug Enforcement Administration and to have closed the U.S. military base in Bolivia. Now, without a U.S. ambassador, there is less conspiracy, and more political stability and social stability.” And in reference to the IMF and World Bank, which had served to force Bolivia to divert funds away from social welfare programs, he added “Without the International Monetary Fund, we are better off economically.”

Speaking of the US’ $700 billion military budget, Evo said “”If that money was used for cooperation or to fight poverty, we could solve so many [of the world’s social and environmental] problems.” Instead, “The US creates and perpetuates international conflicts for profit….The capitalist system that [it] represents is not a policy that embodies the people of the United States but a policy of the transnational corporations, especially those that commercialize weapons and push for an arms race…they use any pretext against the anti-imperialist countries to subdue and dominate them politically and rob them economically. They’re after our natural resources.”

Challenges Facing The Process of Change

Evo has said that “the retreat of the left in Latin America is due to the incapacity of progressive governments to face a media war and the lack of political training of the youth”. Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera also pointed out that progressive governments have failed to promote a kind of cultural revolution alongside the political revolution; social programs have successfully lifted many out of poverty, creating a new middle class with new consumerist attitudes, without promoting a corresponding new value system; progressive governments must do more to tackle the entrenched corruption of the neoliberal years; the question of the continuity of leadership remains a challenge; and Latin American economic integration remains a weakness despite considerable advances in political regional integration.

Three factors may cause Bolivia’s Process of Change to stagnate and be partially reversed. It has not moved beyond anti-neoliberalism policies, that have brought great benefits to the people, in a more anti-capitalist direction.  While the MAS government has democratized the traditional Bolivian state, it has modified this bourgeois state but not replaced it with a new one that would be a superior tool for the indigenous campesino and working people to advance their struggle. It has not built an organization of activists committed to leading this struggle with the people.

Now coming on 12 years of the Process of Change, Bolivia is a new country under the leadership of Evo Morales and Garcia Linera. Each passing year is one more of social, political and economic transformation, of opening up national decision-making to the indigenous communities, peasant and worker social movements. Not only have the faces of those who govern radically changed, but the country itself. From one of the poorest countries in Latin America, it has become the leader in sustained economic growth. From a country founded on social exclusion to the point of apartheid, it has become a country of inclusion for all, where more than half the Congress consists of women, where illiteracy is eliminated, where the people have free health care and education, and  have gained much greater control over the wealth of their natural resources.

 

[Stansfield Smith maintains ChicagoALBASolidarity.wordpress.com, produces the AFGJ Venezuela and ALBA Weekly, and is active in the movement against US interference in Latin America. He co-founded the Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5 in 2002 and was active in that campaign through their freedom in 2014. He administers the Facebook groups ‘Friends of Evo’s Bolivia/ Amigos de la Bolivia de Evo,” “Stand with Venezuela,””Friends of Ecuador- North America,” among others. His Masters thesis at the University of Chicago was ‘The Development of the Labor Theory of Value in Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx.”]

[i]  Linda Farthing gives different figures: “the total government take shot up to about 70 percent of production, making gas its primary income source with annual revenues jumping from $332 million before nationalization to more than $2 billion today.”

[ii] These figures understate the actual figure as they exclude the 12 million undocumented, who are disproportionately poor.

[iii] Federico Fuentes, “Bad Left Government” vs “Good Social Movements”? in Steve Ellner (ed.) Latin America’s Radical Left, Maryland:Rowman & Littlefield (2014) p. 110

[iv]  Federico Fuentes « Bolivia’s Communitarian Socialism », Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions, Halifax, Winnepeg:Fernwood Publishing; London, NewYork: Zed Books (2013) p. 86

[v] Dangl, Ben, “The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia,” California: AK Press (2007) p.95

[vi] Federico Fuentes,  Federico Fuentes « Bolivia’s Communitarian Socialism », Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions, Halifax, Winnepeg:Fernwood Publishing; London, NewYork: Zed Books (2013) p. 85

[vii] The Wikileaks Files: The World According to US Empire, London, New York: Verso (2015) p. 504

[viii] Ibid., p. 507; quote is from a US government cable. See also https://sputniknews.com/latam/201602191035028066-bolivia-wikileaks-us-funding-separatists/

and El informe de 2007 de la USAID

[ix]  The Wikileaks Files: The World According to US Empire, (2015: 508).  “The US had full knowledge of opposition groups’ terrorist plans, and yet did not denounce them,” Eirik Vold [author of Ecuador In the Sights: The WikiLeaks Revelations and the Conspiracy Against the Government of Rafael Correa] told Prensa Latina, adding that the US had prior knowledge of a planned attack on a natural gas pipeline, which resulted in a ten percent decrease in Bolivia’s in gas exports to Brazil.”

[x] The Media Luna attempted coup broke under the pressure of several Latin American anti-neoliberal governments (Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, El Salvador, Ecuador y Nicaragua) issued a declaration in support of Bolivia’s constitutional government. Nevertheless the US continued to maintain constant communication with the leaders of the separatist movement.

[xi] It included 61 signers, only two from Bolivia. US signers included Amazon Watch, Biofuelwatch, Democracy Center, Food and Water Watch, Global Exchange, NACLA, Rainforest Action Network.

[xii] Fred Fuentes, “Bad Left Government” versus “Good Left Social Movements”? in Latin America’s Radical Left  (2014) pp. 120-121

[xiii] Linda C.  Farthing, Benjamin H. Kohl Evo’s Bolivia: Continuity and Change, Austin, University of Texas Press (2014) pp. 52-54

[xiv] Drug seizures have almost tripled under Evo,  Informe Presidencial, 22 de enero 2017 http://www.embolivia.org.br/UserFiles/File/PDFs/emb_inf2017.pdf p. 12

 

Reagan Documents Shed Light on U.S. ‘Meddling’

Consortium News

September 13, 2017

By Robert Parry

 

President George W Bush visits CIA Headquarters, March 20, 2001.

 

Special Report: “Secret” documents from the Reagan administration show how the U.S. embedded “political action,” i.e., the manipulation of foreign governments, in ostensibly well-meaning organizations, reports Robert Parry.

“Secret” documents, recently declassified by the Reagan presidential library, reveal senior White House officials reengaging a former CIA “proprietary,” The Asia Foundation, in “political action,” an intelligence term of art for influencing the actions of foreign governments.

Partially obscured by President Reagan, Walter Raymond Jr. was the CIA propaganda and disinformation specialist who oversaw “political action” and “psychological operations” projects at the National Security Council in the 1980s. Raymond is seated next to National Security Adviser John Poindexter. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

The documents from 1982 came at a turning-point moment when the Reagan administration was revamping how the U.S. government endeavored to manipulate the internal affairs of governments around the world in the wake of scandals in the 1960s and 1970s involving the Central Intelligence Agency’s global covert operations.

Instead of continuing to rely heavily on the CIA, President Reagan and his national security team began offloading many of those “political action” responsibilities to “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) that operated in a more overt fashion and received funding from other U.S. government agencies.

But secrecy was still required for the involvement of these NGOs in the U.S. government’s strategies to bend the political will of targeted countries. If the “political action” of these NGOs were known, many countries would object to their presence; thus, the “secret” classification of the 1982 White House memos that I recently obtained via a “mandatory declassification review” from the archivists at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

In intelligence circles, “political action” refers to a wide range of activities to influence the policies and behaviors of foreign nations, from slanting their media coverage, to organizing and training opposition activists, even to setting the stage for “regime change.”

The newly declassified memos from the latter half of 1982 marked an ad hoc period of transition between the CIA scandals, which peaked in the 1970s, and the creation of more permanent institutions to carry out these semi-secretive functions, particularly the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was created in 1983.

Much of this effort was overseen by a senior CIA official, Walter Raymond Jr., who was moved to Reagan’s National Security Council’s staff where he managed a number of interagency task forces focused on “public diplomacy,” “psychological operations,” and “political action.”

Raymond, who had held top jobs in the CIA’s covert operations shop specializing in propaganda and disinformation, worked from the shadows inside Reagan’s White House, too. Raymond was rarely photographed although his portfolio of responsibilities was expansive. He brought into his orbit emerging “stars,” including Lt. Col. Oliver North (a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal), State Department propagandist (and now a leading neocon) Robert Kagan, and NED President Carl Gershman (who still heads NED with its $100 million budget).

Despite his camera avoidance, Raymond appears to have grasped his true importance. In his NSC files, I found a doodle of an organizational chart that had Raymond at the top holding what looks like the crossed handles used by puppeteers to control the puppets below them. The drawing fit the reality of Raymond as the behind-the-curtains operative who controlled various high-powered inter-agency task forces.

Earlier declassified documents revealed that Raymond also was the conduit between CIA Director William J. Casey and these so-called “pro-democracy” programs that used sophisticated propaganda strategies to influence not only the thinking of foreign populations but the American people, too.

This history is relevant again now amid the hysteria over alleged Russian “meddling” in last year’s U.S. presidential elections. If those allegations are true – and the U.S. government has still not presented any real proof  – the Russian motive would have been, in part, payback for Washington’s long history of playing games with the internal politics of Russia and other countries all across the planet.

A Fight for Money

The newly released memos describe bureaucratic discussions about funding levels for The Asia Foundation (TAF), with the only sensitive topic, to justify the “secret” stamp, being the reference to the U.S. government’s intent to exploit TAF’s programs for “political action” operations inside Asian countries.

Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush with CIA Director William Casey at the White House on Feb. 11, 1981. (Photo credit: Reagan Library)

Indeed, the opportunity for “political action” under TAF’s cover appeared to be the reason why Reagan’s budget cutters relented and agreed to restore funding to the foundation.

William Schneider Jr. of the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Sept. 2, 1982 memo that the Budget Review Board (BRB) had axed TAF funding earlier in the year.

“When the BRB last considered this issue on March 29, 1982, it decided not to include funding in the budget for a U.S. Government grant to TAF. The Board’s decision was based on the judgement that given the limited resources available for international affairs programs, funding for the Foundation could not be justified. During that March 29 meeting, the State Department was given the opportunity to fund TAF within its existing budget, but would not agree to do so.”

However, as Schneider noted in the memo to Deputy National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, “I now understand that a proposal to continue U.S. funding for the Asia Foundation is included in the ‘political action’ initiatives being developed by the State Department and several other agencies.

“We will, of course, work with you to reconsider the relative priority of support for the Foundation as part of these initiatives keeping in mind, however, the need for identifying budget offsets.”

A prime mover behind this change of heart appeared to be Walter Raymond, who surely knew TAF’s earlier status as a CIA “proprietary.” In 1966, Ramparts magazine exposed that relationship and led the Johnson administration to terminate the CIA’s money.

According to an April 12, 1967 memo from the State Department’s historical archives, CIA Director Richard Helms, responding to a White House recommendation, “ordered that covert funding of The Asia Foundation (TAF) shall be terminated at the earliest practicable opportunity.”

In coordination with the CIA’s “disassociation,” TAF’s board released what the memo described as “a carefully limited statement of admission of past CIA support. In so doing the Trustees sought to delimit the effects of an anticipated exposure of Agency support by the American press and, if their statement or some future expose does not seriously impair TAF’s acceptability in Asia, to continue operating in Asia with overt private and official support.”

The CIA memo envisioned future funding from “overt U.S. Government grants” and requested guidance from the White House’s covert action oversight panel, the 303 Committee, for designation of someone “to whom TAF management should look for future guidance and direction with respect to United States Government interests.”

In 1982, with TAF’s funding again in jeopardy, the CIA’s Walter Raymond rallied to its defense from his NSC post. In an undated memo to McFarlane, Raymond recalled that “the Department of State underscored that TAF had made significant contributions to U.S. foreign policies through fostering democratic institutions and, as a private organization, had accomplished things which a government organization cannot do.” [Emphasis in original]

Raymond’s bureaucratic intervention worked. By late 1982, the Reagan administration had arranged for TAF’s fiscal 1984 funding to go through the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) budget, which was being used to finance a range of President Reagan’s “democracy initiatives.” Raymond spelled out the arrangements in a Dec. 15, 1982 memo to National Security Advisor William Clark.

“The issue has been somewhat beclouded in the working levels at State since we have opted to fund all FY 84 democracy initiatives via the USIA budgetary submission,” Raymond wrote. “At the same time, it is essential State maintain its operational and management role with TAF.”

Over the ensuing three and half decades, TAF has continued to be  subsidized by U.S. and allied governments. According to its annual report for the year ending Sept. 30, 2016, TAF said it “is funded by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress, competitively bid awards from governmental and multilateral development agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and by private foundations and corporations,” a sum totaling $94.5 million.

TAF, which operates in 18 Asian countries, describes its purpose as “improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia.” TAF’s press office had no immediate comment regarding the newly released Reagan-era documents.

Far From Alone

But TAF was far from alone as a private organization that functioned with U.S. government money and collaborated with U.S. officials in achieving Washington’s foreign policy goals.

Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy.

For instance, other documents from the Reagan library revealed that Freedom House, a prominent human rights organization, sought advice and direction from Casey and Raymond while advertising the group’s need for financial help.

In an Aug. 9, 1982 letter to Raymond, Freedom House executive director Leonard R. Sussman wrote that “Leo Cherne [another senior Freedom House official] has asked me to send these copies of Freedom Appeals. He has probably told you we have had to cut back this project to meet financial realities. We would, of course, want to expand the project once again when, as and if the funds become available.”

According to the documents, Freedom House remained near the top of Casey’s and Raymond’s thinking when it came to the most effective ways to deliver the CIA’s hardline foreign policy message to the American people and to the international community.

On Nov. 4, 1982, Raymond wrote to NSC Advisor Clark about the “Democracy Initiative and Information Programs,” stating that “Bill Casey asked me to pass on the following thought concerning your meeting with [right-wing billionaire] Dick Scaife, Dave Abshire [then a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and Co.

“Casey had lunch with them today and discussed the need to get moving in the general area of supporting our friends around the world. By this definition he is including both ‘building democracy’ and helping invigorate international media programs. The DCI [Casey] is also concerned about strengthening public information organizations in the United States such as Freedom House.

“A critical piece of the puzzle is a serious effort to raise private funds to generate momentum. Casey’s talk with Scaife and Co. suggests they would be very willing to cooperate. Suggest that you note White House interest in private support for the Democracy initiative.”

In a Jan. 25, 1983 memo, Raymond wrote, “We will move out immediately in our parallel effort to generate private support” for “public diplomacy” operations. Then, on May 20, 1983, Raymond recounted in another memo that $400,000 had been raised from private donors brought to the White House Situation Room by USIA Director Charles Wick. According to that memo, the money was divided among several organizations, including Freedom House and Accuracy in Media, a right-wing media attack group.

In an Aug. 9, 1983 memo, Raymond outlined plans to arrange private backing for that effort. He said USIA Director Wick “via [Australian publishing magnate Rupert] Murdock [sic], may be able to draw down added funds” to support pro-Reagan initiatives. Raymond recommended “funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center.”

[For more on the Murdoch connection, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Rupert Murdoch: Propaganda Recruit.”]

Questions of Legality

Raymond remained a CIA officer until April 1983 when he resigned so in his words “there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this” propaganda operation to woo the American people into supporting Reagan’s policies.

CIA seal in lobby of the spy agency’s headquarters. (U.S. government photo)

Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey’s role in the effort to influence U.S. public opinion because of the legal prohibition against the CIA influencing U.S. policies and politics. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important “to get [Casey] out of the loop,” but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986.

It was “the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in,” Raymond said during his Iran-Contra deposition in 1987. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic affairs “not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat.”

In 1983, Casey and Raymond focused on creating a permanent funding mechanism to support private organizations that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. The idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would be a conduit for this money.

But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. In one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment,” but added: “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate.”

document in Raymond’s files offered examples of what would be funded, including “Grenada — 50 K — To the only organized opposition to the Marxist government of Maurice Bishop (The Seaman and Waterfront Workers Union). A supplemental 50 K to support free TV activity outside Grenada” and “Nicaragua — $750 K to support an array of independent trade union activity, agricultural cooperatives.”

The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured.

But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.

This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill.

The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented to the demand, not fully recognizing its significance.

The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy.

Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president. Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC.

For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.”

Besides clearing aside political obstacles for Gershman, Raymond also urged NED to give money to Freedom House in a June 21, 1985 letter obtained by Professor John Nichols of Pennsylvania State University.

What the documents at the Reagan library make clear is that Raymond and Casey stayed active shaping the decisions of the new funding mechanism throughout its early years. (Casey died in 1987; Raymond died in 2003.)

Lots of Money

Since its founding, NED has ladled out hundreds of millions of dollars to NGOs all over the world, focusing on training activists, building media outlets, and supporting civic organizations. In some geopolitical hotspots, NED may have scores of projects running at once, such as in Ukraine before the 2014 coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych and touched off the New Cold War with Russia. Via such methods, NED helped achieve the “political action” envisioned by Casey and Raymond.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

From the start, NED also became a major benefactor for Freedom House, beginning with a $200,000 grant in 1984 to build “a network of democratic opinion-makers.” In NED’s first four years, from 1984 and 1988, it lavished $2.6 million on Freedom House, accounting for more than one-third of its total income, according to a study by the liberal Council on Hemispheric Affairs, which was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”

Over the ensuing decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers, both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently “free,” including Syria, Ukraine (before the 2014 coup) and Russia.

NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing NGOs inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they try to crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.

For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce a law passed by the Russian parliament requiring Russian recipients of foreign political money to register with the government. Or, as NED and Freedom House framed the issue: the Russian Duma sought to “restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organizations and their ability to receive support from abroad. Changes to Russia’s NGO legislation will soon require civil society organizations receiving foreign funds to choose between registering as ‘foreign agents’ or facing significant financial penalties and potential criminal charges.”

Of course, the United States has a nearly identical Foreign Agent Registration Act that likewise requires entities that receive foreign funding and seek to influence U.S. government policy to register with the Justice Department or face possible fines or imprisonment.

But the Russian law would impede NED’s efforts to destabilize the Russian government through funding of political activists, journalists and civic organizations, so it was denounced as an infringement of human rights and helped justify Freedom House’s rating of Russia as “not free.”

The Russian government’s concerns were not entirely paranoid. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman, in effect, charted the course for the crisis in Ukraine and the greater neocon goal of regime change in Russia. In a Washington Post op-ed, Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

The long history of the U.S. government interfering covertly or semi-covertly in the politics of countries all over the world is the ironic backdrop to the current frenzy over Russia-gate and Russia’s alleged dissemination of emails that undermined Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The allegations are denied by both Putin and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange who published the Democratic emails – and the U.S. government has presented no solid evidence to support the accusations of “Russian meddling” – but if the charges are true, they could be seen as a case of turnabout as fair play.

Except in this case, U.S. officials, who have meddled ceaselessly with their “political action” operations in countries all over the world, don’t like even the chance that they could get a taste of their own medicine.

 

[Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).]

 

Global False Witness – Targeting Nicaragua

Tortilla con Sal

August 2, 2017

 

“Models attend Alexander Soros Foundation’s Global Witness ‘Unmasked’ Gala on July 7, 2012 in Bridgehampton, New York.” Source: Getty Images [Further reading].

Global Witness is a well-established environmental and human rights non-governmental organization based in Britain. As with many other similar organizations, its reports often figure in news media as authoritative sources on international issues. Ever since the 1980s and, increasingly so, after the turn of the century, the status of NGOs as trustworthy information sources on foreign affairs has become increasingly untenable as they have been more and more co-opted by corporate interests and governments to promote the Western elites’ neocolonial global policy agenda.

In the case of Nicaragua, in 2016 Global Witness produced a brief, flawed and unreliable account of land conflicts in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region in a report called “On Dangerous Ground”. In June 2017, they produced a report called “Defenders of the Earth”, with a section on Nicaragua even more poorly researched and false than the previous one.Three main reasons stand out to dismiss the latest Global Witness report on Nicaragua as unreliable and in bad faith.

Firstly, the report itself is clearly biased and flawed, from even a cursory analysis of its references and their sources by anyone familiar with Nicaragua. Secondly, the organization’s human and material resources all come from a very narrow managerial class and corporate funding base, overwhelmingly advocating the foreign policy positions of the United States government and its allies. Thirdly, the history of Global Witness clearly indicates its categorical bias in favor of NATO country governments’ policy positions in the countries that figure in its reports and too its systemic defense of the very corporate capitalism whose destructive effects Global Witness superficially and selectively criticizes.

Global Witness sources on Nicaragua

Before looking at the text of the false Global Witness attack on Nicaragua, it is worth looking at the sources they identify in their footnotes, of which there are 23, composed of a total of 44 references. For anyone familiar with Nicaraguan politics and society since the war of the 1980s many of the sources are wearily familiar and readily identifiable as anti-Sandinista, for example, the virulently anti-Sandinista La Prensa newspaper. Some of the references are duplicates and some disguise the fact that while apparently distinct, ultimately the information they provide comes from one single source. (Here’s a link to the relevant spreadsheet for anyone interested in a more detailed analysis.)

Of the 44 references, some of which are duplicates, not one represents the view of the Nicaraguan authorities or others criticized in the report or any source sympathetic to them. 16 references are to sources inside Nicaragua politically opposed to the Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. 25 of the sources are external to Nicaragua but with a long record identifying them as ideologically opposed to the Sandinista government. Of those 25 sources, one might argue that the Washington-based Interamerican Commission for Human Rights or the EFE Spanish language news agency are impartial, but their record is indisputably biased against Nicaragua’s Sandinista authorities.

For all but imperialist ideologues, the Paris based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has been discredited in particular, most recently, by its flagrant partisan bias in favor of NATO country government policies attacking the populations of Libya and Syria. One source, a reference to the law authorizing Nicaragua’s Canal, is completely neutral. Only one media source, El Nuevo Diario, is generally independent. Two references are to sources within the Western environmental scientific lobby, which has its own set of highly questionable biases, prejudices and neocolonial hypocrisy.

Methodology”

As if by way of justifying this desperately unfair selection of sources, Global Witness also offer an account of what they call their “methodology”. They aver, “We have recorded data about the cases using the HURIDOCS Event Standard Formats and Micro-Thesauri, an approach which is widely used to manage and analyse material of this nature.”

That Global Witness claim is demonstrably untrue. Whatever their aspirations they certainly did not use the HURIDOCS approach.

HURIDOCS (Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems, International) is a European NGO established in 1982 to facilitate networking between human rights organizations around the world. HURIDOCS says its ?specific role in this capacity-building process lies in improving access to and the dissemination of human rights information through more effective, appropriate and compatible methods and techniques of information handling. HURIDOCS recognises that we live in an age of tremendous advances in information and communication technologies. There is the need to master these technologies to aid us in our human rights work. At the same time, we must be conscious of the fact that the technologies to be applied should be appropriate and responsive to the main focus of the mandates of human rights organisation”

HURIDOCS exposition of their approach includes the following definitions:

Fact-finding is the process of identifying the violations in one event, and establishing the facts relevant to these violations. Fact-finding and investigation are terms that are used interchangeably.

Documentation is the process of systematically recording the results of an investigation or fact-finding in relation to an event or number of events. Fact-finding and documentation are organically related and should not be viewed as separate processes.

Monitoring is closely observing a given situation in society over a long period of time to see whether human rights standards are met. To carry out monitoring, investigation and documentation of a large and/or representative number of events are conducted.”

Global Witness are not in compliance with the HURIDOCS approach because their practice in their reporting on Nicaragua demonstrably violates all of these definitions.

Their fact-finding or investigation is so heavily biased as to make it impossible for them to establish the facts. Consequently, thanks to this gross fact finding bias, their documentation is partial, often inaccurate and categorically incomplete. Nor do they show any sign of having done due diligence in monitoring consistently over time via ” investigation and documentation of a large and/or representative number of events” or the context of those events in Nicaragua.

Other theoretical considerations

Apart from these chronic procedural failures, other theoretical considerations cry out for clarification.

Global Witness say, “This report is based on research on killings and enforced disappearances of land and environmental defenders, who we define as people who take peaceful action to protect land or environmental rights”.

But in a bitter property dispute between competing communities, clarifying who is defending whose rights becomes a fundamentally important question. Certainly in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, unscrupulous Miskito community leaders are themselves involved in provoking these property disputes by illegally selling land to rural families migrating in search of a better life. Miskito gangs have attacked and murdered many such people, a factor not even mentioned by Global Witness. They completely evade the issue of identifying in a responsible, proportionate way whose rights are being violated.

Similarly, Global Witness state, “cases were identified by searching and reviewing reliable sources of publicly online information”. But  Global Witness obviously used heavily politicized criteria for deciding what is a reliable source, because not one single reference in their report on Nicaragua gives the Nicaraguan authorities’ side of the story and only one reference can fairly be described as ideologically independent. That renders completely incredible the phony Global Witness claim to systematic research.

They claim their investigation is systematic because “We set up search engine alerts using keywords and conducted other searches online to identify relevant cases across the world.” However, in the case of a small country like Nicaragua, a genuinely systematic search can readily be done covering a much wider range of sources than those accessed by Global Witness without recourse to modish, geeky “search engine alerts”. The poverty of sources evident in the report’s footnotes make Global Witness’s procedure look ridiculous.

Global Witness claim they “verify” the results of their investigation because “Where possible, we checked with in-country or regional partners to gather further information”. But they only cross-checked with ideologically and politically biased organizations, apparently using the same highly questionable, politically compromised sources they cite in their report.

Karl Popper, philosophical darling of the Open Society ideology embraced by Global Witness, explained over 50 years ago in “Conjectures and Refutations”  that verification is essentially authoritarian. He argued that a truly scientific investigation requires conjecture and falsification, a search for errors rather than for  justification.

If one goes along with Popper, it should surprise no one that Global Witness uses an essentially authoritarian methodology. Self-evidently, their job is not to discover the facts or to impartially establish the truth via a hypothetic-deductive Popper-style process , but to project a manipulative version of events justifying ideologically loaded interpretations favored by their corporate funders, an inherent bias understandably unacknowledged by Global Witness.

Nor is it surprising to learn from their account of their methodology, “While we have made every effort to identify and investigate cases in line with the methodology and criteria, it is important to add that our research mostly relies on public information and that we have not been able to conduct detailed national-level searches in all countries.”

That is not true either. Global Witness did not make “every effort” to investigate cases in line with their alleged methodology and criteria because they are flagrantly out of compliance with the definitions advanced by HURIDOCS.

A broader range of sources

Nor is is true that they were unable to conduct a detailed national-level search in the case of Nicaragua, because they could easily have included references from sources that contradict much of the information in the Global Witness report. The following is a brief sample of many other relevant sources, gleaned in a few hours searching on the Internet :

 

Even this very limited sample of sources, put together from just a few hours searching on the Internet, gives a very different picture to the one presented by Global Witness. So it is false of Global Witness to suggest they lack the resources to be able to stress test and falsify the version of events they have published in their report. Given the tremendous resources and the numerous skilled, experienced, talented people working at Global Witness, only abject intellectual dishonesty explains their failure to report faithfully on Nicaragua

Incoherent claims

Be that as it may, based on their cynically biased sources and their absurdly deficient methodology, Global Witness proceed in their report to make the following claims:

* 11 defenders killed in 2016 – making Nicaragua the most dangerous country in the world per capita

But, as independent journalist John Perry and others have pointed out, none of those people killed can fairly be described as having being killed for defending the environment. They were in property disputes and all of them were killed either directly or indirectly  in the course of those property conflicts. This is true in particular of the case cited by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH) , that of Bernicia Dixon Peralta, her husband Feliciano Benlis Flores and their 11 year old son Feliciano Benlis Dixon. Perry mentions some of the context. More context of the property disputes in the RAAN can be found herehere and here. Not a single person mentioned by Global Witness died in Nicaragua for defending the environment in the way that someone like Berta Cáceres did. Even so Global Witness have tended disingenuously to implicitly compare the situation in Nicaragua with that in Honduras, in particular with Berta’s murder.

The bad faith with which they do so is clear from the second claim in their report on Nicaragua:

* 10 of those murdered were indigenous people, with most killed in conflicts with settler communities over land. Meanwhile rural ‘campesino’ defenders faced threats, harassment and attacks, including for opposing the construction of an inter-oceanic canal.

Global Witness fails to make clear that groups from the indigenous Miskito people, whom Global Witness inaccurately portray as defenseless environmental defenders, are themselves guilty of murderous attacks against migrants settling land which in many cases the migrants apparently believed they had bought legitimately. Furthermore, the Global Witness report deliberately and falsely confuses the very specific situation of these property conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast with protests over the possible displacement of communities along the still to be exactly defined route of the proposed Inter-oceanic Canal 300 kilometers to the south. Global Witness unscrupulously frame their distorted version of events in the two regions to give the impression that in both cases the Nicaraguan authorities may in some way be directly or indirectly responsible for the violence.

In fact, even the New York Times has acknowledged in their otherwise generally hostile anti-Sandinista reporting that the Nicaraguan authorities do what they can with limited resources to protect the rights of indigenous peoples in the Northern Carribean Autonomous Region.

The situation along the route of the Canal is very different from that in the RAAN. Protests against the Canal are exploited by Nicaragua’s political opposition and groups participating in the protest demonstrations have damaged property and attacked police officers. In relation to this situation, completely separate from the property disputes more than 300km to the north, Global Witness claims:

* Activists were increasingly criminalized: foreign environmentalists were expelled, community leaders arrested and legislation passed restricting freedoms of speech and association.

However in the very next paragraph, the report quotes anti-Canal activist Francisca Ramirez saying, ““We have carried out 87 marches, demanding that they respect our rights and we have had no response. The only response we have had is the bullet.”

Thus, the Global Witness allegation that rights to freedom of association are restricted is immediately contradicted by Francisca Ramirez declaring her group has organized over 80 public demonstrations to express their views.

Similarly, Ramirez claims “The only response we have had is the bullet.” But, in the next paragraph, we learn “a member of her community lost an eye and another was shot in the stomach”.

Thus, after 87 demonstrations, some of which supposedly involved many thousands of participants and in which “The only response we have had is the bullet”, Ramirez cites precisely two people suffering serious injury and only one of them with a gunshot wound. Ramirez omits that the protesters on the marches she organizes go armed with machetes and home-made mortars. They block highways, intimidate ordinary people going about their business, damage property and attack police officers.

In no Western country would that be tolerated without, to put it mildly, a robust response from the police and security forces. Even so, Global Witness promote Francisca Ramirez’s account as if she and her movement were non-political and non-violent, which they are not. But Global Witness excludes those facts.

Likewise, as John Perry has pointed out, the foreign environmentalists expelled from Nicaragua were involved in a suspicious incident involving a small explosion. Again, a reasonable question to Global Witness is why they excluded this highly relevant information given that in Britain or the United States any foreigner, especially any non-white foreigner, involved in such a suspicious incident would face prosecution and a potential jail term under those countries wide-ranging anti-terrorist laws.

Inaccuracies and falsehoods

Mixed in with these disingenuous, incoherent claims, Global Witness also allege, presumably as supporting context, that the proposed Canal “would force up to 120,000 indigenous people from their land”. This outrageous falsehood is sourced from the pro-NATO, right-wing dominated European Parliament, but is categorically contradicted by the relevant multi-million dollar Environmental and Social Impact report by the extremely prestigious ERM company based in the UK. The falsity of that claim is further confirmed by the Canal concessionary HKND company’s representative Bill Wild who argues that the route of the Canal has been altered to take local concerns into account in such a way that fewer than thirty indigenous families will be directly affected.

Overall, ERM reckons that up to 7210 families or around 30,000 people are likely to be displaced along the whole route of the Canal, over 270 kilometres. The scandalously untrue figure quoted by Global Witness is propaganda from Nicaragua’s political opposition who are exploiting Ramirez’s quasi-celebrity status among Western environmentalists to amplify overseas the marginal support for their unpopular position against the Canal in Nicaragua. That fact is reflected in the incoherence of the arguments set out by Ramirez and her backers in Nicaragua’s political opposition.

If 120,000 people were really going to be displaced by the proposed Canal then the figure of 30,000 protestors from around the country the same political opposition regularly quote to describe national opposition to the Canal just does not add up. Quoting that same opposition figure, Global Witness state, “Francisca has rallied campesino groups from around the country who will be adversely affected by the canal to call for a meaningful say in its development. In June 2015, 30,000 people gathered for an anti-canal protest – Francisca organized 40 trucks so her community could attend.”

In Nicaragua, the cost of hiring a truck or a bus to carry 60 people or a similar amount of material goods on a round trip of 100km is around US$120, while a round trip of 300km costs about US$175. So hiring 40 diesel-guzzling trucks and buses with their drivers will have cost a minimum of US$4000. But Ramirez is an impoverished mother of five from a similarly impoverished community. Even if only one quarter of the more than 80 protests Ramirez says she has helped organized involved similar costs, the total amount involved runs into tens of thousands of dollars just for Ramirez’s community. Whatever the exact financial accounting, Ramirez is clearly supported by a great deal more than her own resources and those of her community.

Even so, Global Witness completely evade the obvious conclusion to be drawn from that incoherence implicit in their report. Namely, that Francisca Ramirez, far from being a simple altruistic community organizer defending her home is in fact a savvy political opposition activist promoting an inaccurate image of herself as well as concealing her real political agenda. Ramirez alleges that she and her family have been attacked and harassed. Supposing those accusations are true, no convincing evidence points to involvement of the government or the security forces and certainly not the HKND company in charge of planning and building the Canal. That contrasts with the situation of activists in Honduras or Guatemala who can in most cases offer reliable details with corroboration from witnesses to identify their assailants.

The press report cited by Global Witness contains no credible evidence from Ramirez except her say so, no corroborating evidence, no witnesses. Likewise the report’s reference to Frontline Defenders’ advocacy for Ramirez links to a summary profile including the false opposition propaganda, repeated by Global Witness, that the proposed inter-oceanic Canal has been imposed without consultation. But in fact preliminary consultations took place in July 2014 and subsequently a continuing consultative process has developed both before and after the publication of ERM’s Environmental and Social Impact Study, which recommended improvements to the consultation process which both HKND and the government accepted.

The Study did also criticize the handling of the expropriation issue and recommended that international standards be applied to any expropriation of land (reckoned to total 1359km2 of dry land out of Nicaragua’s total  area of 139,375km2) that may eventually be decided. Those ERM recommendations were accepted by the  government and HKND, and the subsequent consultative process has led to several important changes in the precise route of the Canal and to more detailed environmental studies which have been one reason for the delay in the Canal’s construction.

Frontline Defenders’ advocacy of Ramirez, cited by Global Witness, is based on her own account of events with no apparent attempt at corroboration despite the role of Ramirez as a front person for an anti-government campaign openly supported and facilitated by Nicaragua’s political opposition. In the course of framing their benign, heroic account of Francisca Ramirez, Global Witness present an account of the Canal’s origins and procedural progress which repeats virtually word for word the extremely hostile and systematically disingenuous interpretation of Nicaragua’s political opposition.

Garbage in – Garbage out

Winding up their version of the falsehoods, disinformation and propaganda copied from Nicaragua’s political opposition, Global Witness assert, “Resistance to the canal takes place against a terrifying backdrop of multiple murders in indigenous communities elsewhere in the country which have stood up against the arrival of agricultural settlers and demanded the government guarantee their land rights. Even requests by the Inter-American human rights system haven’t spurred the government into protecting community activists from being disappeared, mutilated and murdered.”

But, as is clear from reviewing a wider selection of sources of information in relation to the complicated land situation in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, indigenous people themselves are responsible for murderous violence and their own leaders are implicated in corrupt land dealings. It is simply untrue to label the murders as being generically the result of attacks on community activists in the sense in which that term is commonly understood. The general consensus is that the Nicaraguan government has done more than any government in the region, with the possible exception of Venezuela, to protect indigenous people’s land rights with almost a third of the national territory designated as indigenous peoples’ communal land. Global Witness’s allegations on that score are demonstrably inaccurate and grossly unfair.

Similarly, the suggestion that the Canal protest movement is vulnerable to the kind of murderous violence prevalent in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region is egregiously false. The protesters themselves have used violence and intimidation against the general population to carry out their protest actions, so far, thankfully, with no fatalities.

In summary, the Global Witness report in its section on Nicaragua uses politically and ideologically prejudiced sources which could readily have been supplemented with sources offering a contradictory account. The sources used themselves do not always corroborate the claims made in the report. Apart from the ideological bias, various substantive inaccuracies render the report extremely unreliable. The report’s conclusions are flawed because its initial premises are false – Garbage In, Garbage Out.

It remains true that there are serious property conflicts in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region which the government is attempting to address despite a lack of administrative, judicial and security resources, against an intricate social, economic and political context and also the constantly changing opportunistic interaction of corrupt business interests with local indigenous peoples’ leaders, and unscrupulous local officials.

In the case of Nicaragua’s proposed Interoceanic Canal, it is true various issues, including the issue of expropriation, have to be clarified. Protestors claim they want dialog, but Francisca Ramirez sets the precondition that the Canal be scrapped.

The Canal’s critics never acknowledge that Nicaragua is already suffering chronic environmental degradation. The government and many environmentalists argue that the Canal will provide Nicaragua with the resources it needs to reforest deforested areas, better manage its water resources and reverse the current deterioration in Lake Nicaragua, while at the same time helping to reduce poverty.

Foreign and national environmentalists offer no viable proposals to enable Nicaragua to reverse the socio-economic and climate processes already driving accelerating environmental degradation in the country.

Protestors against the Canal exaggerate the number of people likely to be displaced by its construction and often dishonestly claim people affected by displacement will not be compensated. Meanwhile, they themselves are among those responsible for the environmental degradation that will definitely get progressively worse without the resources the Canal is projected to provide.

Corporate funders and the elite NGO revolving door

Featured photo in the Washington Life Magazine (“The insider’s guide to power. philanthropy and society since 1991”) by Tony Powell. Global Witness CEO Gillian Caldwell (far right) sits beside Manana Freyre. Freyre is the 20th General Counsel and Senior Vice President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. [Source] Berim Fellows Program. Hendi Residence. November 21, 2014.

Manana Freyre, Gillian Caldwell. Photo by Tony Powell. Berim Fellows Program. Hendi Residence. November 21, 2014. “WASHINGTON LIFE is the premier luxury-lifestyle magazine in the National Capital Region, published since 1991 by well-connected life-long Washingtonians who have exceptional insight into the community. Through our established social networks, loyal readership base and long standing relationships, WASHINGTON LIFE offers its advertisers a unique way to target discerning consumers.”
 

Few plausible explanations except intellectual dishonesty offer themselves for the desperate failure of Global Witness, firstly to adequately research the issues involved or, secondly, supposing they in fact did so, to acknowledge the complexity of the issues they examine. Global Witness frankly explain in their financial statement for 2016, they had income of over US$13 million. So they do not lack resources. Similarly, their Board, their Advisory Board and their CEO are all very experienced, smart, talented people. So even if they depend on younger inexperienced staff to do the research, their senior staff presumably review the product before publication. Lack of experience is not a reasonable explanation for the report’s glib dishonesty and inaccuracy.

A review of Global Witness funders reveals that for 2016 the two biggest funders were the Open Society Foundation of George Soros associated with the numerous so called color revolutions in support of NATO country government foreign policy objectives and the Omidyar Network of Pierre Omidyar whose links with US intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton are well known. Less well known is Omidyar’s support for NGOs that fomented the successful right wing coup in Ukraine. The complete list of Global Witness funders is available in the financial statement for 2016 on their web site. That document reports that in 2016 Global Witness received US$3.4 million from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, US$1.5 million from Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, US$840,000 from the Ford Foundation and over US$3 million from various European NATO governments plus Sweden.

All of these funding sources are unrelenting ideological opponents of Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. A broad pro-NATO bias is very clear in the composition of the Global Witness Board and Advisory Board and CEO. Their profiles make clear they are almost all luminaries from the Western elite neocolonial non governmental sector, while many have a strong corporate business background as well. Just as there is a revolving door between government and corporate business and finance in North America and Europe, so too there is also a revolving door within that region’s elite NGO sector, a sector very clearly serving NATO country foreign policy goals.

Cory Morningstar has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like US based organizations like Avaaz and Purpose. In the case of Global Witness, their Board member Jessie Tolka is also a board member of Purpose and too of 350.org: Current Global Witness CEO Gillian Caldwell was also a very successful Campaigns Director of Sky1, now merged into 350.0rg. Cory Morningstar argues, “the most vital purpose of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) has not been to destroy the ecocidal economic system that enslaves us while perpetuating and ensuring infinite wars. Rather, the key purpose of the NPIC is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose from being dismantled. Hence the trillions of dollars pumped into the NPIC by the establishment.”

Confirmation of Cory Morningstar’s argument can be found in the history of Global Witness itself. For example on Libya, despite their superficial anti-corporate gloss, Global Witness relentlessly apply NATO country government criteria here and here. Also on Ukraine, Global Witness project the same anti-corporate message while simultaneously reinforcing NATO country government propaganda. Global Witness has also received US National Endowment for Democracy grants in Cambodia and in Liberia.

Also, a decade ago, writers Keith Harmon Snow and Rick Hines questioned Global Witness’ corporate links in relation to the “Blood Diamonds” controversy and the organization’s role in relation to De Beers and also Maurice Templesman’s diamond companies. No doubt more thorough research would reveal information casting similar doubt on Global Witness’s integrity and independence.

Conclusion

This latest Global Witness report in relation to Nicaragua is  important because it is so readily falsifiable. It thus presents a clear litmus test : no news and information media can use the Global Witness report’s material in relation to Nicaragua without compromising their credibility.

The bias and inaccuracies in the section on Nicaragua in the Global Witness 2017 report call into doubt the integrity of the whole report. No news or information media interested in accuracy or honest reporting can conscientiously rely on Global Witness as a source without thorough cross checking and systematically comparing, contrasting and evaluating information from sources giving a different account of the events and issues in question.

Global Witness is neither independent nor trustworthy. It clearly has a strong but unacknowledged neocolonial political agenda promoting the regional policy goals of NATO country governments, while, conversely, attacking governments and other regional actors opposed to those goals.

NGOs like Global Witness, International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International and so many others, self-evidently fabricate psychological warfare inputs serving NATO country government policy, itself shaped by the same corporate elites that fund the class of NGOS of which Global Witness is a part.

They operate as the soft, extramural arm of NATO country governments’ foreign policy psychological warfare offensives, targeting liberal and progressive audiences to ensure their acquiescence in overseas aggression and intimidation against governments and movements targeted by NATO. To that end, they deceitfully exploit liberal and progressive susceptibilities in relation to environmental, humanitarian and human rights issues.

Their psychological warfare role supporting the NATO government’s aggressive destabilization of Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria in 2011, of Ukraine in 2014,  and the NATO country government’s low intensity war against Venezuela ever since 2013, as well as the campaign against Cuba over five decades, has been unmistakable.

More broadly their systemic ideological role is very obviously to protect and defend global corporate capitalism while superficially and selectively questioning and criticizing some of its worst abuses. Cory Morningstar’s insight bears repeating “the key purpose of the non-profit industrial complex is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose”.

The coverage of Nicaragua in the latest 2017 Global Witness report is a text book example of that sinister fact.

Soft Coups in Latin America: How Left-Liberal Alternative Media & Environmental NGOs Help the US in Bolivia & Ecuador

Chicago ALBA Solidarity

October 9, 2015

by Stansfield Smith

 

ALBA Chicago

The US now engineers “regime change” not so much by using the military, in part because of their military quagmires in the Middle East, in part because Obama has sought to give a new face and new credibility to the Empire after the damage it suffered during Bush years. The US relies on soft coups: media campaigns and mass demonstrations against “corruption,” for “human rights,” “democracy,” “freedom,” aimed at the target government. The US makes skillful use of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to carry out its plans, which often appeal to cherished liberal-left values and sentiments.  The leadership of these soft coups and color revolutions are made to seem just like us, with our liberal Western values. Overlooked or concealed are the actual political and economic plans the leaders of these movements will implement – first defeat the dictatorship and then all else will later fall into place.  As a result, many people opposed to US military interventionism are taken in, many often willingly.

Progressive Latin American governments are one target for soft coups engineered by the US.  The US seeks to overthrow democratically elected presidents through media campaigns of lies and half-truths, inciting social discontent, delegitimizing the government, provoking violence in the streets, economic disruptions and strikes.

For those opposed to all US intervention, particularly those of us living in the US, we are called upon to expose these new methods of soft coup interference. The standard practice involves the role of USAID, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI) in helping to finance NGOs to do their dirty work.  NGOs have become the humanitarian face of imperialist intervention.

Behind the rhetoric of “democracy promotion,” Washington aims to impose neoliberal regimes that open their markets to the US without conditions and align themselves with US foreign policy. While these goals are known by the leaders of the US backed “color revolutions,” they are not shared with, let alone accepted by their followers. When these takeovers do succeed, citizens soon rebel against the new policies imposed on them, but it is too late to turn back.

The US government has long sought to overthrow socialist Cuba and the anti-neoliberal and anti-imperialist ALBA governments of Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, and re-establish neocolonial governments. In the cases of President Correa of Ecuador and Evo Morales of Bolivia, this goes back to before their first runs for presidency.  Green Left Weekly ran a series of articles on continuous US efforts to get rid of Correa, even before he came into office.[1] No serious article on the conflicts in Correa’s Ecuador can omit the ten year US effort inside Ecuador to get rid of Correa.

Any serious analysis of what is happening in a Third World country, whether a progressive one or not, must start with the role Western imperialism has played. Otherwise, the analysis does not clarify the causes of the problems, but just indirectly gives cover to US imperialism.

The work of Eva Golinger (until recently*) and Federico Fuentes of Green Left Weekly, are models of progressive intellectuals, defending the peoples and countries of Latin America. They have exposed the role of USAID and NED in corrupting particular indigenous groups in Bolivia and Ecuador: during Bolivia’s TIPNIS protests, with Pachakutik, Conaie and the Yasunidos in Ecuador. They have exposed the role of the US financed environmental NGOs in these countries, such as Fundacion Pachamama, Accion Ecologica, Amazon Watch. [* She now seems to have more in common with the liberal-left alternative media criticized  below. https://chicagoalbasolidarity.wordpress.com/2017/08/19/correcting-eva-golinger-on-venezuela/]

This does not mean some indigenous and environmental groups have legitimate concerns. The problem occurs when the US funds leaders of groups to manipulate their members in order to exacerbate the problem. In the 1980s, the US used the Miskito Indian groups in Nicaragua to foment armed conflict with the Sandinistas. This does not mean the Miskitos did not have legitimate grievances, they had, but these were manipulated by the US to further its goal of overthrowing the Sandinistas. Likewise, indigenous peoples in Ecuador and Bolivia have legitimate concerns about development projects in the TIPNIS or Yasuni, for instance, but are deliberately used by US agencies to foment rebellion against their governments.

Using indigenous and environmental groups to attack their governments is a key part of the US government’s anti-Correa and anti-Evo Morales campaign. Unfortunately, consciously or not, this campaign is furthered in various alternative media centers, and can be seen in UpsideDownWorld, NACLA, In These Times, ROAR, CommonDreams, Jacobin, WagingNonViolence, Alternet, MintPressNews, even Naomi Klein, and recently Real News Network.

Too often, when liberal-left alternative media [2] address Latin America, we find articles legitimizing the views of these same US influenced environmental NGOs and related indigenous groups. This media has to some extent become a transmission belt for US propaganda, as knowing or unknowing participants in soft coup operations against these countries.

We find these alternative media outlets voicing and even being mouthpieces for US connected indigenous organizations and environmental NGOs, defending their protests against Evo Morales and Rafael Correa. For instance, Upside Down World has criticized Evo over TIPNIS, discounted the 2010 coup against Correa as not being a coup (the same line as the US government), defended the rightwing protests against Correa, and objected to the closing of US backed NGOs.

Covering up US Interference in Bolivia

In NACLA Emily Achtenberg wrote over ten articles on the Bolivian TIPNIS highway conflict and barely mentioned the close coordination of the protest leaders with the US Embassy. This is not simply an oversight, it is a cover-up.

“It’s not the first time that Morales has accused protest movements—including the TIPNIS marchers—of links to outside forces (such as the U.S. Embassy and right-wing opposition groups) who are seeking to destabilize his government. Protest leaders view these allegations largely as a tactic to undermine their credibility and mobilize support for the government.”[3]

Achtenberg avoids presenting the evidence of US government interference, and instead points the finger at Evo Morales.

She goes further in another article:

“A few telephone calls [between the US Embassy in Bolivia and the protest leaders] hardly prove a conspiracy, and many familiar with WikiLeaks cables accept that Embassy personnel routinely maintain contact with diverse social sectors. Serious concerns have been raised about the government’s potential violation of privacy laws in obtaining telephone records without a court order” [4]

Exposing the US role in the march takes a back seat to repeating US concerns over the Bolivian government’s alleged violations of privacy laws.

Ben Dangl follows Achtenberg in similar apologetics for the US role in the TIPNIS protests in his article in Upside Down World, “The Politics of Pachamama: Natural Resource Extraction vs. Indigenous Rights and the Environment in Latin America.” [5]

Contrast this with an article by Nil Nikandrov defending Bolivian sovereignty:

“According to journalist and author Eva Golinger, USAID poured at least $85 million into destabilizing the regime in the country. Initially, the US hoped to achieve the desired result by entraining the separatists from the predominantly white Santa Cruz district. When the plan collapsed, USAID switched to courting the Indian communities with which the ecology-oriented NGOs started to get in touch a few years before. Disorienting accounts were fed to the Indians that the construction of an expressway across their region would leave the communities landless, and the Indian protest marches to the capital that followed ate away at the public standing of Morales. It transpired shortly that many of the marches including those staged by the TIPNIS group, had been coordinated by the US embassy. The job was done by embassy official Eliseo Abelo, a USAID curator for the Bolivian indigenous population. His phone conversations with the march leaders were intercepted by the Bolivian counter-espionage agency and made public, so that he had to escape from the country while the US diplomatic envoy to Bolivia complained about the phone tapping.” [6]

Federico Fuentes noted USAID funding behind the TIPNIS protests:

“The Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of the Bolivian East (CIDOB), the main organisation behind the march, has no such qualms [about its connection to the US]. It boasted on its website that it received training programs from the US government aid agency USAID. On the site, CIDOB president Adolfo Chavez, thanks the “information and training acquired via different programs financed by external collaborators, in this case USAID”.

He brought to light what Achtenberg and Dangl seek to conceal:

“neither of the Internet statements [an anti-Evo Morales Avaaz petition and September 21, 2011 letter to Morales signed by over 60 environmental groups]  mentions the protesters’ support for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program. REDD is a grossly anti-environmental United Nations program that aims to privatise forests by converting them into “carbon offsets” that allow rich, developed countries to continue polluting.

 

Some of the biggest proponents of this measure can be found among the NGOs promoting the march. Many of these have received direct funding from the US government, whose ambassador in Bolivia was expelled in September 2008 for supporting a right-wing coup attempt against the elected Morales government.

 

Rather than defend Bolivia’s sovereignty against US interference, the letter denounces the Bolivian government for exposing connections between the protesters and “obscure interests”.

 

These “obscure interests” include the League for the Defense of the Environment (LIDEMA), which was set up with US government funds….

 

Secret US diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks and declassified US government files have conclusively shown that USAID directly targets indigenous communities in a bid to win them away from support for Morales and towards supporting US interests.” [7]

Western financed NGOs, such as Avaaz, Amazon Watch and Democracy Center, serve to provide a “left” cover to the global 1% campaign for “regime change” in Bolivia and Ecuador. They seek to demonize Evo Morales and Rafael Correa, thereby undermining the opposition of progressive people’s in the West to their engineering a “soft coup” in these countries.[8]

In 2011 Amazon Watch carried out an even more vociferous and dishonest propaganda campaign against Evo Morales’ Bolivia, claiming to defend the TIPNIS and indigenous rights in Bolivia. Again, no mention is made of the US role in the protests, nor that Evo’s government had a number of the police responsible for the unauthorized violence of the protest marchers fired, nor that Evo agreed to the protestors’ demands.[9]

Funders of Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network (RAN) include: Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (which works with NED), Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, The Overbrook Foundation, Moriah Fund (directors connected with USAID and Bill Clinton’s administration), Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The David & Lucile Packard Foundation.[10]

In 2013, Pedro Nuni, one of the central leaders of these TIPNIS protests, defended by much Western alternative media, announced he was joining a rightwing party.[11] This, this alternative media conveniently forgot to mention.

Passing knowledge of Latin American history informs us it is ludicrous to think the US does not play a role in coups and protest movements against progressive governments. We ask how any writers and websites considering themselves honest, would not bring these US connections to light.

US coups and attempted coups pose are as constant in Latin America today as they were decades ago:  Chavez in Venezuela (2002, 2003), Aristide in Haiti (2004), Evo Morales in Bolivia (2008),  Zelaya in Honduras (2009), Correa in Ecuador (2010), Lugo in Paraguay (2012), Maduro in Venezuela (2013, 2014), and a wave of coup attempts this past summer (2015) in Ecuador, Bolivia,  Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and Christina Fernandez in Argentina, Sanchez Ceren in El Salvador. US coup-plotting remains a continuous constant threat to the sovereignty of the Latin American peoples.

Ecuador: Covering Up the US Role in the 2010 Coup and US Infiltration of Indigenous and Environmental Groups

As in Evo’s Bolivia, a central ingredient of the US anti-Correa campaign involved using indigenous groups and environmental NGOs to attack the Correa government, a campaign reflected in media outlets such as Upside Down World, NACLA and NGOs like Amazon Watch.

In Ecuador, we can see these apologetics for the US Empire in reports on the September 30, 2010 coup attempt against Rafael Correa. At the time, Upside Down World approvingly published CONAIE’s (Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador) statement on the attempted police coup against Correa, which made no mention of US involvement, and blamed President Correa for the political conflict that led to the coup.[12]

Marc Becker, a regular contributor on Ecuador for Upside Down World, posted a statement by, Pachakutik (the political wing of CONAIE) delegate Lourdes Tiban of Ecuarunari, which he called “maybe Ecuador’s most radical indigenous movement.” Tiban’s Ecuarunari statement, issued during the attempted coup, actually called for overthrowing President Correa: “the only revolutionary alternative is to fight against supporters of the [Correa] dictatorship.”

In contrast, Evo Golinger and Jean Guy Allard made clear the US role in the attempted coup against Correa. Allard pointed out the US infiltration of the police, who led the coup, as well as the armed forces.[13]

Golinger exposed the USAID and NED connections with indigenous groups such as CONAIE and in particular Pachakutik, which backed the coup:

“During the events of September 30 in Ecuador, one of the groups receiving USAID and NED financing, Pachakutik, sent out a press release backing the coup-plotting police and demanding the resignation of President Correa, holding him responsible for what was taking place.  The group even went so far as to accuse him of a “dictatorial attitude.”  Pachakutik entered into a political alliance with Lucio Gutiérrez in 2002 and its links with the former president are well known:” [14] [15]

Golinger also publicized the School of Americas graduate involved in the coup, the role of the high level CIA agent Norman Bailey, and that of indigenous leader Lourdes Tiban’s ties with Norman Bailey, USAID/NED and the Ecuadoran business class.[16]

Golinger showed that many Ecuadoran organizations, some linked to the indigenous movement and directed by National Assembly member Lourdes Tiban, received funding from USAID and NED to destabilize the government of President Rafael Correa. Tiban, of the Pachakutik Party, is part of the Indigenous Enterprise Corporation, an organization that “actively” receives funding from USAID.

Yet even today Upside Down World remains a strong defender of these two USAID connected indigenous groups in Ecuador, even after their participation in the violent right-wing protests against Correa in summer 2015.

Ecuador ‘s Closing Down of Fundacion Pachamama NGO

In 2014 NACLA and Upside Down World supported the campaign in defense of Fundacion Pachamama, a US funded NGO in Ecuador. This NGO, involved in opposing oil drilling in the Yasuni National Park, had been shut down by the Ecuador government.

In the Yasuni, the Correa government proposed opening a mere 200 hectares (the actual size to be affected contested by some) to oil drilling, within the million-hectare park. In comparison, Canada’s tar sands mining/strip-mining will destroy 300,000 hectares of the Canadian Boreal Forest, 1500 times the size of the land to be affected in the Yasuni. Canada is now the world’s leading country in deforestation.

President Correa offered to refrain from exploiting the oil reserves within the Yasuni in exchange for 50% of the value of the reserves, or $3.6 billion. During the six-year history of the initiative, only $336 million had been pledged, and of that only $13.3 million had actually been delivered.

Cory Morningstar notes, “The fact of the matter is, if NGOs had campaigned for Yasuni …rather than working behind the scenes with corporate interests and leading greenhouse gas emitting  states … perhaps our situation today would be far different. But of course, this is not why the non-profit industrial complex exists.”[17]

USAID shut down its offices in Ecuador in 2014, a year after it was expelled from Bolivia. Even mainstream newspapers gave a more or less factual account:

“Correa in June [2013] was granted wide-ranging powers to intervene in the operations of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which often receive funding from USAID. The decree also created a screening process for international groups wanting to work in the country.

 

In early December [2013] the government shut down environmental NGO Fundación Pachamama after it was alleged that the group disrupted public peace while protesting oil drilling in the Amazon region. Pachamama was receiving funding from USAID.”[18]

Nevertheless, despite what is a question of Ecuador asserting its national sovereignty against foreign interference, an international campaign against Correa was organized in response.[19] Of this Cory Morningstar wrote “It is essential to note that none of the NGOs (over 100 at this point) participating in the Pachamama “solidarity” campaign disclose the fact that the Pachamama Foundation is financed by US interests.”

Signers of the international petition addressed to Correa by defenders of this USAID funded Foundation included Ecuador’s Accion Ecologica and CEDENMA. In the US it included 350.org, Amazon Watch, Citizens Climate Lobby, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Friends of the Earth US, Global Exchange, Move to Amend Coalition, Oakland Institute, Pachamama Foundation, Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace International, International Funders for Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Environmental Network, New Energy Economy, Womenrise for Global Peace.

We find environmental NGOs operating in the US in a similar manner. For instance, the Huffington Post reported in 2014 that the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, Environmental Defense Action Fund, and the League of Conservation Voters actually donated tens of thousands of dollars to pro-Keystone XL pipeline politicians. It also became known that Sierra Club secretly took $25 million from the fracking industry.[20]

Who Funded Fundacion Pachamana?

Morningstar explains: “Fundación Pachamama was set up in 1997 as the Pachamama Alliance (founded in 1995) “sister organization,” situated in Ecuador. The Pachamama Alliance is a heavily funded U.S. NGO. Past donors include the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Revenue has increased from U.S. $1,911,036.00 in 2006 to U.S. $3,461,600.00 in 2011 (2011 form 990) with over $1 million focused exclusively on both Ecuador and Bolivia (grantmaking $706,626.00 / program services $391,622.00) in 2011.”

Pachamama was not just a US financed NGO, but served as a business:

“The Pachamama Alliance was created as a partnership with the Achuar to help organize and support a new multi-million dollar tourism development for which Indigenous Peoples needed to be trained in western commerce, the service industry, the English language and marketing. In essence, the Achuar were to be carefully integrated with the modern world.

 

The exclusive tourism development was to be located in pristine Indigenous territory in Ecuador. The Pachamama Foundation is also a partner of USAID-WCS (U.S. Agency for International Development – Wildlife Conservation Society) whose interests lie in “the growing markets and opportunities derived from environmental services including the REDD initiative (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries)…” (2009).”[21]

 

“Robin Fink is the Program Director at Fundación Pachamama (since November 2009) and Board Member at the Runa Foundation (Fundación Runa) (May 2012 to present). [22] In her role at Pachamama Alliance, Fink works closely with the Indigenous Achuar of the Ecuadorian Amazon. The associated Runa Corporation president [Tyler Gage] said “… we also receive about $500,000 from USAID, from the US government, the Andean Development bank, the German government, a couple other NGOs who were very impressed by our model.”  [23]

Wain Collen, Education Director of Fundación Pachamama, explained the function of these Western NGOs: ‘NGOs who aim to help indigenous communities most often end up causing more problems than they solve, ‘Our advisors and industry experts continue to remind us that above all, we need to run a successful business, regardless of how social it is. Without a strong, successful business we can’t generate any benefits for anyone.”[24]

“The Pachamama Alliance was created as a partnership with the Achuar to help organize and support a new multi-million dollar tourism development for which Indigenous Peoples needed to be trained in western commerce, the service industry, the English language and marketing. In essence, the Achuar were to be carefully integrated with the modern world.”[25]

This US funding of Fundacion Pachamana was concealed in the campaign protesting Correa’s shutting it down. NACLA and Upside Down World were participants, and one writer, Marc Becker, referred to the Fundacion as a “fair trade group.” NACLA still refers to Fundacion Pachamama as an “environmental and human rights organization.”[26] This was a deliberate misrepresentation to their US audience, and serves the interests of those seeking to smear Correa and turn sentiment against the Citizens Revolution.

The USAID-environmental NGO connection in Ecuador was known years before the failed 2010 coup against Correa. An institutional, academic research study, entitled Globalization, Philanthropy and Civil Society: Protecting Institutional Logics Abroad  had pointed out USAID and US corporate NGO funding of these Ecuadoran NGOs – before any actions had been taken against them by the Ecuadoran government:

“Nature Conservancy’s Amazon Program, both based in Brazil; or CDES (the Centro para Desarrollo Economico y Social) and Fundacion Pachamama, both Ecuadorian-based partner organizations of U.S. NGOs…. They collaborate on a regular basis with U.S. organizations, however, and remain dependent on funding from Northern sources- from the World Bank or Global Environment Facility, from US foundations, from USAID, or from their American mother/partner NGO. US NGOs have also influenced the development of new organizations in the Amazon region by influencing the agenda of USAID and large foundations such as the Ford and Moore foundations, which have become some of the most important sources of financing for new NGOs and grassroots organizations in the Amazon.”[27]

Given the propaganda campaign directed at Presidents Rafael Correa and Evo Morales by US funded environmental NGOs and some indigenous groupings, it is necessary to note, as Alvaro Linera did in his article on TIPNIS that these NGOs operating in these countries are not non-governmental organizations, but foreign government organizations, and that any government defending its national sovereignty needs to control them, or face the consequences of further coup-plotting.

 Accion Ecologica

Correa also shut down – temporarily– the US funded anti-Correa “environmental” NGO, Accion Ecologica. Even journalist Naomi Klein joined this other anti-Correa campaign, calling the government’s decision to shut it down as “something all too familiar: a state seemingly using its power to weaken dissent.”[28]

Painting the  Summer 2015 Rightwing anti-Correa protests as Progressive, and the case of Manuela Picq

The Accion Ecologica website, like Amazon Watch and NACLA, presented a deliberately distorted account of the violent right-wing protests in Ecuador in the summer of 2015, falsely blaming violence on the government.[29]

NACLA and Upside Down World ran articles by Manuela Picq, the anti-Correa foreign journalist kicked out of the country. NACLA’s front page had links to a Change.org petition about Manuela Lavinas Picq[30], the professor alleged to be beaten up and arrested by Ecuadoran police during the August 13 Quito protests.

The petition said:

“We the undersigned demand that Manuela Lavinas Picq’s order for deportation from Ecuador be rescinded immediately. Manuela Lavinas Picq was beaten and arrested in Quito on Thursday, August 13.  Manuela was participating in a legal, peaceful protest as a journalist.  At the time of her arrest, she was in the company of other journalists and photographers and was unarmed.”[31]

Signers included Amazon Watch.

Manuela Picq was a foreign journalist, married to a leader of the protests, Carlos Pérez, president of Ecuarunari, organization of Lourdes Tiban, and was herself a participant in the protests. These were not peaceful protests, but violently attacked the police in attempts to break through police lines to take over the presidential palace. Picq herself actually denied she was mistreated by the police.[32]

The August protests were deliberately misrepresented in Upside Down World and similar left-liberal websites as being progressive protests by indigenous groups.[33] In fact, they were violent protests in alliance with the Ecuadoran right-wing, part of fight against the proposed increase in inheritance tax on the rich. Concealed was the fact that CONAIE leaders supported the June 2015 right wing protests against Correa’s proposed inheritance tax on the rich.

In an interview published on June 17, 2015 in the context of a right wing uprising against the inheritance taxes, CONAIE’s president falsely claimed “this inheritance law affects the majority of the Ecuadoran population, it is not true that it is directed only at two percent of the population.” [34] CONAIE also opposed the law nationalizing water, seeking to leave in place the 1990s law privatizing water.[35]

Amazon Watch’s falsifications of the August 2015 protests surpassed what could be expected on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page with an article subtitled “While police massacre indigenous protesters and citizens, the Government of Rafael Correa dances in the Presidential plaza”:

“The discourse it promoted for eight years at national and international levels, which favored its image as a socialist government and defender of rights for indigenous peoples and Mother Nature, has proven to be a sham.”

 

”All of the rights won by the indigenous nationalities have been repealed, just as the system of bilingual intercultural education, indigenous health services, economic funds, and political organization.”

 

”During the March for Peoples Dignity on August 13, 2015, the Government prepared an impressive display of security forces, police, and military. Violent confrontations with citizens ensued and resulted in numerous people disappeared, imprisoned, tortured, and dead across the country.”[36]

This outright fabrication is belied by the actual reporter film of the events.[37]

 The Issue of  Extractivism in Ecuador and Bolivia

Correa’s Ecuador and Evo’s Bolivia are both widely criticized by Western environmental and indigenous supporting groups for practicing “extractivism,” the reliance on exporting natural resources (oil, gas, mining) as a tool for development. We may search far and wide for a similar stream of criticisms of “extractivism” taking place in pro-imperialist governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Nigeria, Indonesia, Mexico, the Congo, or even Alberta. In these latter countries, the wealth from the natural resources ends up as corporate profits or in Western banks. In contrast, Ecuador and Bolivia have nationalized their national resources, and reversed the percent of the profits that go to the state vs foreign corporations, from 10-15% before to 85-90% now, and use this wealth to fund programs benefitting the 99%.  Is this the real reason they have become targets for the evils of “extractivism”?

The very term “extractivism” conceals the real crime: imperialist countries’ raping of the resources of the  Third World and the destruction it inflicts on the environment and people living there. The 500 year Western pillaging of oppressed nations’ natural resources using semi-slave labor conditions lies obscured. The real issue, deliberately unclarified by the term “extractivism” is: Who controls the natural resources of oppressed nations — the imperial powers or these nations themselves? The fundamental class issue of the term “extractivism” is buried: who uses natural resources for whose interests, who benefits and who suffers.  The term “extractivism” ignores that Bolivia and Ecuador have taken control of their natural resources from imperialist corporations, and now use the wealth generated to improve the lives of their peoples not the bottom lines of Western corporations.

While Latin America has moved in an anti-imperialist, anti-neoliberal direction, and the ALBA countries have implemented social programs benefiting the historically disadvantaged, particularly the indigenous, many previous US supporters of Latin America sovereignty have moved in a direction hostile to this process. National development is attacked as “extractivism,” as threatening the environment and the indigenous supposedly untouched by Western civilization. Representing historically oppressed and excluded peoples in the national government is painted as “co-opting social movements.” Chinese developmental aid to these countries, now increasingly boycotted by Western banks and corporations, is painted as “submitting to Chinese imperialism.”

Upside Down World and similar liberal-left media, for instance, claim that the indigenous of Ecuador are opposed to “extractivism.” However, during the August 2015 protests against Correa, one CONAIE group actually protested because government stopped a project because of its potential environmental damage:

“in the Southeastern province of Morona Santiago, a group of Indigenous Achuar people have protested for the third consecutive day in front of the governor’s building, responding to the call by the opposition-aligned indigenous confederation CONAIE. The Indigenous group’s main complaint regards the federal decision to suspend the environmental license, preventing the province from continuing the work on the Taisha road. Earlier in June, the Ministry of Environment imposed sanctions against the provincial government of Morona Santiago, revoking its environmental license and imposing a $70,800 fine over environmental damages caused during the Macuma-Taisha road project.” [38]

Do not expect this alternative media to inform us that these indigenous were protesting Correa because of the government’s opposition to building a road through an ecologically sensitive area.

Moreover, the previous CONAIE president, Humberto Cholango,  has said  “Many nationalities of the Amazonia say “look, we are the owners of the territory, and yes we want it to be exploited.”  These agree with Correa, and the majority of Ecuadorans, that to leave valuable natural resources untouched while people go without schools, roads,  medical care, employment, hurts their own interests. [39]

Readers of Upside Down World and NACLA will not read this, and are instead told the protests were against “extractivism” and for Original Peoples’ language rights. (The Ecuador government actually recognizes fourteen separate Original People languages).

In Ecuador: New left or new colonialism? Fred Fuentes writes:

“No government, even one that comes to power on the back of an insurrection and that destroys the capitalist state, would be able to meet the needs of the Ecuadorian people while at the same time halting all extractive industries. However, it can attempt to strike a balance between protecting the environment and industrializing the country, providing free education and health care for all, empowering the people to take power into their own hands. The difficulty of such a task means mistakes will be made, but also learnt from.

 

To overcome Ecuador’s legacy of dependency on extractive industries, rich imperialist nations will need to repay their historic debts to Ecuador’s people. The lack of any willingness to do so has been shown by the response from foreign governments to the bold Yasuni Initiative launched by the Correa government in 2007….

 

Until rich countries are held to account for the crimes they have committed against oppressed Third World nations no opponent of imperialism can legitimately denounce the Ecuador or Bolivia government for using wealth from its natural resources to meet peoples’ needs.

 

Environmental concerns are valid, but so are the very real needs of people to be able to access basic services that many of us take for granted. And we should never forget who the real culprits of the environmental crisis are.

 

Rather than diverting attention from these Western powers and onto anti-imperialist Latin American governments, we should focus on the real enemies we and the peoples of the oppressed nations face in common. Their fate is intertwined with our fight at home against Western governments and their corporate bosses.” [40]

Fuentes writes elsewhere:

“Our task is to oppose imperialist [interference], but “The challenges Bolivia… they are a direct result of centuries of colonialism and imperialist oppression, which have entrenched Bolivia in its role within the world economy as a dependent raw commodity exporter. Any chance Bolivia has of moving in a post-capitalist and post-extractivist direction depends on the creation of a new global order, starting with the reshaping of hemispheric relations. This is precisely what the Bolivian government has attempted to do….the main way we can help Bolivia’s social movements is still by winning over working people in the North to a position of solidarity with Bolivia. And the best way to do this is… to build an international movement against the imperialist system…[We must focus on] explaining why, as long as imperialism exists, Bolivia’s process of change will undoubtedly continue to face tremendous obstacles and dangers…. ‘only a popular uprising of unprecedented scale will prompt nations of the Global North to take their responsibility to the rest of the globe seriously, and constrain the coercive forces that constrain states like Bolivia.’”[41]

Conclusion

We expect the corporate media to conceal the impact of Western pillaging on the oppressed Third World countries, and to participate in the West’s on-going efforts to return pro-Western neoliberal governments.  However, for liberal-left media and organizations to take a similar stand, even if watered down, is nothing other than apologetics for imperialist interference. Not to emphasize imperialism’s historic and continuing exploitive role is not simply dishonest, not simply apologetics, but also shows a basic lack of human feeling and solidarity with the peoples of the Third World.

Any serious analysis, whether progressive or not, of an Third World country must start with the role Western imperialism has played. If not, the analysis does not clarify the causes of the problems their people face, but indirectly gives cover to the criminal impact of imperialism against the country.

Too many articles are written on the events in Ecuador and Bolivia in the alternative media as if US imperialism is not an important player. These alternative media sources actually advocate for indigenous groups and environmental NGOs which are USAID and US corporate financed. And they criticize these countries for defending their national sovereignty by shutting down what Bolivian Vice-President Linera called “foreign government financed organization NGOs” operating in their countries.

The stated USAID budget for Latin America is said to be $750 million, but estimates show that the secret part of the funding, partly in the hands of the CIA, may total twice that.[42] This information, and how this money is spent, ought to be a focus of any liberal-left alternative media purporting to stand up for the oppressed peoples of the Americas.

In June 2012, unlike NACLA, et al, the foreign ministers of the ALBA countries were quite clear on the devious work of USAID in their homelands in their June 2012 resolution:

“Citing foreign aid planning and coordination as a pretext, USAID openly meddles in sovereign countries’ domestic affairs, sponsoring NGOs and protest activities intended to destabilize legitimate governments which are unfavorable from Washington’s perspective. Documents released from the US Department of State archives carry evidence that financial support had been provided to parties and groups oppositional to the governments of ALBA countries, a practice tantamount to undisguised and audacious interference on the US behalf. In most ALBA countries, USAID operates via its extensive NGO networks, which it runs outside of the due legal framework, and also illicitly funds media and political groups. We are convinced that our countries have no need for external financial support to maintain the democracy established by Latin American and Caribbean nations, or for externally guided organizations which try to weaken or sideline our government institutions.” [43]

We find some liberal-left alternative media knowingly or unknowingly giving legitimacy to US soft coup plotting,  painting US collaborators in Bolivia and Ecuador as defenders of free expression, defenders of nature, defenders of the indigenous. The US government’s “talking points” on the leaders of the progressive ALBA bloc have worked their way into liberal-left alternative media, which echo the attacks on these governments by the organizations that have received US funds.[44]  That is not to say that Amazon Watch or Upside Down World or NACLA are themselves funded by the US government – if it somehow exculpates them that they do this work for free. Even worse, much of this propaganda against Evo and Correa appears only in the liberal-left alternative press, what we consider our press. Many of the people who were our allies, or allies on many other issues today, are on the other side of the fence.

As Cory Morningstar wrote:

“In retrospect, most anyone can and will easily condemn the colonizing of natives by missionaries in the 18th and 19th centuries. Yet, today, with NGOs having fulfilled this role to continue the practice into the 20th and 21st centuries – we collectively refuse to acknowledge it. We ignore it. We even defend it. The white paternalism continues with the blessing of the liberal left. ‘Maybe they are good!’ the liberal left cries. ‘Maybe the Indigenous communities like them!’ We can observe the photos of missionaries and their ‘subjects’ in the past. There appears to be no resistance. Yet, we still comprehend that this was wrong.”

But not only do liberal-left alternative media and NGOs let themselves become conveyer belts for US regime change propaganda. It also illustrates what many who consider themselves on the left still have not come to terms with:  their own arrogant traditionally white attitude that they share with Western colonizers and present day ruling elites: we know better than you what is good for you, we are the best interpreters and defenders of  your democracy and human rights. That is why they criticize Third World governments that are progressive or independent of US control – targets for US regime change and color revolution. In contrast, genuine support for the peoples of the Third World means basing yourself in opposition to imperialism and exposing US attempts to overthrow governments and undermine movements seeking to break free from the Western domination.

 

[1] Green Left Weekly series on Correa and WikiLeaks:  https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/57531

[2] http://inthesetimes.com/uprising/entry/14202/indigenous_movements_clash_with_latin_americas_left_turn/

More liberal-left alternative media articles attacking Ecuador:

Amazon’s Female Defenders Denounce ‘Macho’ Repression and Demand Rights

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/10/19/amazons-female-defenders-denounce-macho-repression-and-demand-rights

Ecuador Moves to Close Leading Environmental Organization as Part of Crackdown on Civil Society

https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2016/12/21/ecuador-moves-close-leading-environmental-organization-part-crackdown-civil

Ecuador’s social movements push back against Correa’s neoliberalism

https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/ecuadors-social-movements-push-back-against-correas-neoliberalism/

How protests forced Ecuador’s upcoming runoff presidential election

https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/ecuador-protests-forced-runoff-elections/

People vs. Big Oil: A Mosaic of Oil and Attack Dogs

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/38240-people-vs-big-oil-part-ii-a-mosaic-of-oil-and-attack-dogs

New Witch Hunt in Ecuador Against Indigenous and Environment Defenders

http://www.alternet.org/environment/new-witch-hunt-ecuador-against-indigenous-and-environment-defenders

“Beyond the Petrostate: Ecuador’s Left Dilemma,” the author raises some other issue against Correa. https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/riofrancos-beyond-petrostate-ecuador-left-dilemma           Christian Tym answers this very well in reply to Guardian smears on Correa. http://www.importantcool.com/murder-amazon-guardians-quest-correa/

Deep in the Amazon a Tiny Tribe is Beating Big Oil

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/312-16/28648-deep-in-the-amazon-a-tiny-tribe-is-beating-big-oil

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/together-with-earth/deep-in-the-amazon-a-tiny-tribe-is-beating-big-oil

http://www.coha.org/corrupted-idealism-bolivias-compromise-between-development-and-the-environment/

(which, for instance, pushes the story  of  “the unanimous rejection by indigenous communities of a highway constructed through TIPNIS”)

Ecuador To Sell One Third Of Pristine Rainforest To Chinese Oil Companies http://www.mintpressnews.com/213663-2/213663/

[3] https://nacla.org/blog/2012/7/2/bolivia-tipnis-marchers-reach-la-paz-following-police-strike-and-coup-allegations

[4] https://nacla.org/blog/2011/8/26/bolivia-tipnis-marchers-face-accusations-and-negotiations

[5] http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/4816-the-politics-of-pachamama-natural-resource-extraction-vs-indigenous-rights-and-the-environment-in-latin-america  

[6] http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/09/26/end-to-usaid-spying-looms-in-latin-america.html

https://globalintelnews.wordpress.com/author/globalintelnews/page/8/

[7] http://boliviarising.blogspot.com/2011/09/bolivia-ngos-wrong-on-morales-and.html

[8] For instance:

“The Democracy CentreAvaaz and Amazon Watch are the main three NGOs, heavily funded by U.S. interests (Rockefellers, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Ford Foundation and Soros to name a few), who led the recent International campaign in which they denounced and demonized Bolivian Indigenous leader Evo Morales and his government. This destabilization campaign focused on the TIPNIS protests. A violent confrontation between TIPNIS protestors (influenced/funded by U.S. NGOs/USAID/CIDOB) and the police was the vital opportunity needed in order to execute a destabilization campaign that the U.S. has been strategically planning.”

https://thewrongkindofgreen.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/u-s-funded-democracy-centre-reveals-its-real-reason-for-supporting-the-tipnis-protest-in-bolivia-redd/

[9]  http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2011/09/29/about-u-s-amazon-watch-take-action-help-stop-police-repression-in-bolivia-2/

[10]  http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Amazon_Watch

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2011/09/29/about-u-s-amazon-watch-take-action-help-stop-police-repression-in-bolivia-2/

[11]  http://www.la-razon.com/nacional/Pedro-Nuni-lideres-regionales-proyecto_0_1946805357.html

[12]  http://upsidedownworld.org/main/ecuador-archives-49/2717-conaie-on-the-attempted-coup-in-ecuador

[13] https://machetera.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/quitos-police-cia-breeding-ground/

http://www.rebelion.org/noticias/2010/10/114032.pdf

[14] http://machetera.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/behind-the-coup-in-ecuador/

[15] Eva Golinger: “CONAIE blamed Correa for the coup, saying he was responsible for the crisis. By doing that while the coup is in action, it justifies it.” http://www.chavezcode.com/2010/10/evidence-of-ned-fundingaid-to-groups-in.html

[16]  http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2010/10/04/veterano-de-la-cia-detras-del-golpe-en-ecuador/#.VjECqLerTIV

USAID is Behind the Ecuadorian Organizations Seeking to Destabilize the Government Coup in Ecuador – by Eva Golinger

http://www.contrainjerencia.com/?p=20735 states:

Eva Golinger, U.S. writer and researcher, told the state news agency Andes, that many Ecuadorian organizations, some linked to the indigenous movement and directed by National Assembly member Lourdes Tibán, receive financial funding from the State Department the United States, through USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and NED (National Endowment for Democracy) to destabilize the government of President Rafael Correa.

Speaking to Andes, Golinger reiterated that the Assemblyperson Lourdes Tibán, of the left Pachakutik Party (political wing of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities, CONAIE) is part of Indigenous Enterprise Corporation, an organization that “actively” receives funding from USAID.
The group, of which is Tibán a founder, is  advised by a veteran of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Norman Bailey, who two years ago was head of a special intelligence mission of the U.S. government Cuba and Venezuela, said Golinger. Another group funded by USAID is “Citizen Participation,” said the researcher, who studies U.S. interference in the countries of the region.
When asked by journalist whether she repeats the accusation against Assembly person Tibán, Golinger said she found evidence that the Assemblyperson is funded by USAID.

“I found what are proofs of it. I do not know if she denies it, but it is impossible to for her to deny it when there is evidence ¨ Golinger said.

As evidence, the writer and researcher said that ¨ Tibán belongs to an organization that has received funding from U.S. agencies such as the NED, as well as the USAID, a financial arm of the Department of State. If I remember correctly, she belongs to one of these groups which has on its board a veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, Norman Baily. He is a longtime member of the U.S. intelligence community, and is an advisor to this organization belongs (Indigenous Enterprise Corporation), of which Tiban is founder.¨

“Beyond that I do not know Tibán receives funds personally, but she does belong to an organization that receive funding from U.S. government agencies.¨

Golinger insisted that the resources Tiban receives from the State Department of the United States she uses to destabilize democracy.

“Veterano de la CIA, detrás del Golpe en Ecuador”, por Eva Golinger

http://mercosulcplp.blogspot.com/2010/10/veterano-de-la-cia-detras-del-golpe-en.html

https://machetera.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/behind-the-coup-in-ecuador/

see also Golinger and Oscar Heck in http://www.chavezcode.com/2010/10/evidence-of-ned-fundingaid-to-groups-in.html     

Violence, disinformation, outright lies and anti-government propaganda

http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=84531

VHeadline writer Oscar Heck tells us:

In recent days, in Ecuador, there has been an indigenous movement against the Ecuadorian government’s National Assembly reading/review of Ecuador’s new Water Laws, which, as far as I know, under their constitution, obliges the Ecuadorian government to be the sole custodian of water resources.

This issue seems to be clearly understood by most Ecuadorians … yet a small group of Natives from near the Cayambe region, close to Quito, has started demonstrations (some violent or violence-provoking) accusing the Ecuadorian government of trying to “privatize” the water and seeking to pass laws to not allow local water commissions any say in the use and distribution of water resources.

The protests are organized by an indigenous group called the Confederation Of Indigenous Nationalities Of Ecuador (CONAIE). The assumptions propagated by the likes of CONAIE, that the government will privatize the water resources and/or no allow local water commissions, are completely false according to Rafael Correa.

It is as if something or someone somewhere in that region is implanting lies into the minds of the locals … just like the NED-financed Venezuelan organizations (CTV, Fedecamaras, Primero Justicia, Sumate, CEDICE, etc.) are paid by the US government to lie to the public and manipulate information in order to create unrest … and subsequent violence … to then blame or vilify local government.

So, what is CONAIE?

CONAIE was formed out of the union of two already existing organizations, ECUARUNARI and CONFENIAIE.  ECUARUNARI, the regional organization of the Sierra that has been functioning for over 20 years, and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon(CONFENIAE), formed in 1980, created that same year the National Coordinating Council of the Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, CONACNIE.”

Now, since I highly suspect that CONAIE is financed, influenced, controlled or infiltrated in some fashion by the US government, I decided to go through the NED’s website.  I found the following (and more):

Grantor: NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY (NED)

Grantee: Corporación Instituto Empresarial Indígena del Ecuador (Indigenous Enterprise Institute of Ecuador) (IEIE)

Country(ies): Ecuador

Region: Latin America and the Caribbean

Subject(s): Business and Economics

Grant Awarded: 2006

Amount: 67,955

Grantor: NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY (NED)

Grantee: Fundación Q’ellkaj (Q’ellkaj Foundation)

Country(ies): Ecuador

Region: Latin America and the Caribbean

Subject(s): Youth

Grant Awarded: 2006

Amount: 91,256

So what is the, Corporación Instituto Empresarial Indígena del Ecuador?

And what is Fundación Q’ellkaj (Q’ellkaj Foundation)?

I decided to look into it and found more than I expected.  I went to the website of Corporación Instituto Empresarial Indígena del Ecuador, which is actually Corporación Empresarial Indígena del Ecuador … or CEIE … a not-for-profit organization founded in 2005 by Ángel Medina, Mariano Curicama, Lourdes Tibán, Fernando Navarro, and Raúl Gangotena.  Their website also states that Norman Bailey is one of their honorary members.

And who are the other characters involved in the CEIE? According to their website, I quote excerpts in Spanish:

ANGEL MEDINA“ … fundador y presidente de la Fundación Q´ellkaj …”

FERNANDO NAVARRO “ … Presidente de la Federación de Cámaras de Comercio del Ecuador…”

RAUL GANGOTENA  “… Tiene relación con los siguientes organismos internacionales: Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, International Forum for Democratic Studies, National Endowment for Democracy … Embajador del Ecuador en los Estados Unidos … Actuó como consejero para la Subsecreataría de Defensa en 2001 …”

LOURDES TIBAN “… Asesora del Consejo Político de la ECUARUNARI … la Declaración de los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas en Washington DC …”

Below are the connections I can find between the information found on the NED and CIEI websites and CONAIE (who are the ones organizing the anti-government protests are in Ecuador):

-Lourdes Tiban, who is one of the co-founders of CIEI worked with ECUARUNARI, which was one of the founding organizations of CONAIE.

-Both CIEI and Q´ellkaj receive NED financing. Angel Medina is/was founder and president of Q´ellkaj and co-founder of CIEI … and he works with Lourdes Tiban, who was involved with ECUARUNARI, a member organization of CONAIE.

-Raul Gangotena, another co-founder of NED-financed CIEI, has/had direct links with the NED and works with Lourdes Tiban, who has/had links to ECUARUNARI, which has/had links to CONAIE.

-Fernando Navarro, another co-founder of CIEI, was president of the Ecuadorian federation of chambers of commerce. The Federación de Cámaras de Comercio del Ecuador is the equivalent to the NED-financed Fedecamaras in Venezuela, one of the organizations which headed up the violent coup against democratically-elected Chavez in 2002 and the subsequent violent economic sabotage of the country in 2002 and 2003. Since he was probably a highly influential person, then he probably still is a highly influential person.  Since he works/worked with Lourdes Tiban, and since Lourdes has/had links to ECUARUNARI (indirectly CONAIE), then he may have influence over CONAIE.

At least one person at another Ecuadorian NED-financed indigenous organization (CIEI), has or has had links with CONAIE.  CIEI was coincidentally created in 2005, not long before Rafael Correa was elected president of Ecuador. Norman Bailey, who was present at the White House when the NED was created, is a member of CIEI.

Oscar Heck

oscar.heck@vheadline.com

http://www.vheadline.com/heck

Marlon Santi

PRESIDENT, CONAIE

Delfín Tenesaca

PRESIDENT, ECUARUNARI

Tito Puanchir

PRESIDENT, CONFENIAE

Olindo Nastacuaz

PRESIDENT, CONAICE

From Eva: “Organizations in Ecuador such as Participación Ciudadana and Pro-Justicia [Citizen Participation and Pro-Justice], as well as members and sectors of CODENPE, Pachakutik,CONAIE, the Corporación Empresarial Indígena del Ecuador [Indigenous Enterprise Corporation of Ecuador] and Fundación Qellkaj [Qellkaj Foundation] have had USAID and NED funds at their disposal.”

[17] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2015/05/16/fundacion-pachamama-is-dead-long-live-alba-part-ii/

[18] http://www.minnpost.com/christian-science-monitor/2013/12/odds-ecuador-usaid-moves-leave (Interestingly, the newspaper the next day made a retraction that Pachamana was currently receiving USAID money).

[19] http://www.pachamama.org/news/we-stand-in-solidarity-with-fundacion-pachamama-in-ecuador    Amnesty International organized a similar campaign.

[20] https://orionmagazine.org/2012/03/breaking-up-with-the-sierra-club/

[21] https://intercontinentalcry.org/fundacion-pachamama-dead-long-live-alba-part-investigative-report/  (part 1)

[22]“Other foundation advisors include:  include Yolanda Kakabadse, president of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) since 2010, Trustee of the Ford Foundation, President of International Union for Conservation of Nature (1996-2004); Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF (2005-2010, US Secretary of Agriculture (2001-2005), named 46th most powerful woman by Forbes in 2009; Doug Hattaway, president of Hattaway Communication since 2001, Senior Communications Adviser for Hilary Clinton (2008); Michael Conroy, Board Chair of Forest Stewardship Council since 2010, Board Chair of Fair Trade USA (2003-2010; Jacob Olander, Director of Forest Trends’ Incubator since 2008, Co-founder of EcoDecisión since 1995, Expert in conservation finance and payments for ecosystem services; Florencia Montagnini, professor of Tropical Forestry at Yale University since 2001, research advisor to the Smithsonian Institute’s PRORENA program since 2001, expert in tropical forestry and agroforesty systems.

Runa foundation advisor Yolanda Kakabadse, of WWF, just happens to also be a member of the Environmental Advisory Board of CocaCola.” (ibid.)

[23] (part 4)

[24] (part 7)

[25] Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA | Part I of an Investigative Report

[26] https://nacla.org/news/2015/11/02/criminals-or-citizens-mining-and-citizen-protest-correa%E2%80%99s-ecuador

[27] Sandra Moog: “Exporting Institutionality” in Globalization, Philanthropy and Civil Society: Protecting Institutional Logics Abroad (2009)  p. 279

[28]  Quoted in Paul Dosh and Nicole Kligerman, “Correa vs. Social Movements: Showdown in Ecuador,” NACLA Report on the Americas, (September 17, 2009), https://nacla.org/node/6124;

Naomi Klein, “Open Letter to President Rafael Correa Regarding Closure of Acción Ecológica,” March 12, 2009

[29] see http://www.accionecologica.org/component/content/article/1868-carta-a-la-comunidad- -ecuatoriana-en-relacion-al-levantamiento-y-la-represion-generada-

[30] Her Facebook page has posts supporting all the pro-business elite protests against Correa and his proposal to raise taxes on the rich.

[31] https://www.change.org/p/rafael-correa-stop-the-deportation-of-manuela-picq

[32] http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Foreign-Academic-Detained-in-Ecuador-Riot-Faces-Deportation-20150816-0010.html

[33]  http://upsidedownworld.org/main/ecuador-archives-49/5422-ecuadors-new-indigenous-uprising

[34] http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=201393

[35] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2015/06/23/fundacion-pachamama-is-dead-long-live-alba-part-iii/

[36] http://amazonwatch.org/news/2015/0819-ecuadorian-government-violates-human-rights-and-the-constitution

[37] http://www.elciudadano.gob.ec/la-violencia-extrema-predomino-en-manifestaciones-del-13-de-agosto/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+elciudadanogobec+%28ElCiudadano.gob.ec+-+Sistema+Oficial+de+Informaci%C3%B3n%29

Also Federico Fuentes:  https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/59776

[38] “http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Ecuador-Opposition-Unions-Call-for-National-Strike–20150819-0033.html”

[39] https://lalineadefuego.info/2014/04/11/entrevista-a-humberto-cholango-dios-la-naturaleza-y-las-fuerzas-de-los-espiritus-de-los-lideres-van-a-proteger-para-que-la-conaie-no-caiga-en-manos-de-la-derecha/

[40] https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/51353

[41] Fred Fuentes, “Bad Left Government” versus “Good Left Social Movements”? in Latin America’s Radical Left” pp. 120-121

[42] see “USAID Spying in Latin America”  http://www.globalresearch.ca/usaid-spying-in-latin-america/5306679

[43] http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/7069

[44] https://nacla.org/blog/2013/12/31/close-ngos-asserting-sovereignty-or-eroding-democracy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Bolivia Miner Cooperatives’ Protests and the killing of the Bolivian Vice-Minister

 

The Bolivian cooperatives’ protests and their August 25 killing of the Bolivian Vice Minister of the Interior Rodolfo Illanes requires us to question our assumptions about cooperatives.  What are the Bolivian mining cooperatives? Most began during the Great Depression as miners banded together to work a mine in common.  However, like many cooperatives in the US that arose out of the 1960s, they have turned into small businesses. Regardless of their initial intentions, cooperatives existing in a surrounding capitalist environment must compete in business practices or go under.

The Bolivian mining cooperatives themselves underwent this process, and have become businesses whose owners hire labor.  Roughly 95% of the cooperative miners are workers, and 5% are owners.  It is common for the employed workers to be temps, or contracted out employees as we refer to them here. They have no social security, no job security, no health or retirement benefits.

The mining cooperatives made ten demands on the government, and during the second week of August, they announced an indefinite strike if the government did not meet their demands, later adding another 14 to the first 10.

The three most significant demands included rejection of the General Law of Cooperative Mines, which guaranteed cooperative employees the right to unionize, since they are not cooperative co-owners. The cooperatives owners did not want their workers represented by unions.

Reuters, and the corporate press, true to form, falsely claimed the opposite, that the cooperative miners were protesting against the government and demanded their right to form unions.

A second demand was loosening of environmental regulations for the mining cooperatives.

The third key demand was to revoke the law disallowing national or transnational businesses from partnering in cooperatives. At present cooperatives have 31 contracts with private businesses, most signed before the Evo Morales era.

The cooperatives want the right to form partnerships with multi-nationals and exploit the natural resources without the laws protecting the environment.  Opening the cooperatives to such privatization ran counter to what was voted on in the Constitution: “The natural resources are the property of the Bolivian people and will be administered by the State.”

The Evo Morales government nationalized Bolivia’s natural resources in 2006.  Because of this the government share of the profits with corporations from the sale of gas and other natural resources has risen from around 15% to 85%. Previously under neoliberal governments, about 85% of the profits went to corporations. As a result, the Bolivian state has gained an extra $31.5 billion through 2015, which it has used to develop industry, infrastructure, schools, health care and hospitals to the mostly Original Peoples population.  It has also provided many subsidies for the poor, benefiting 4.8 million Bolivians out of a population of just over 10 million. This has cut in half the number of Bolivians living in extreme poverty.

During the August cooperatives’ protests, the Evo Morales government had repeatedly stated it was open to dialogue, but pointed out it cannot violate the Constitution when faced with the demands of the cooperatives, which are thinking only of their personal profits.

Vice Minister Illanes went to meet with the miner cooperatives’ leaders of the FENCOMIN, Federacion de Cooperativas Mineras.  He was tortured and killed and so far 9 have been charged, including the President of FENCOMIN, who was a leader in the violent protests.

Before this, Bolivian TV broadcast news of rioting miners charging at police, hurling stones and even sticks of dynamite. The police responded with tear gas to disperse the protesters.  A number of police were injured during the protests. On August 24, two miners were shot at close range during the road blockades. If the police were responsible, it contravened the order of President Morales not only not to shoot, but to not bring firearms in the area of the road blockades.

Vice Minister of Coordination with Social Movements, Alfredo Rada, said after the murder that the issue of the mine cooperatives should be part of a national debate. He pointed out the cooperative workers are exploited by the owners, who have created a hierarchy inside the organizations for their private benefit. Rada added, “We respect true cooperativism, where all are equal, but these companies have been converted into semi-formal capitalist businesses.”

After the murder of Vice-Minister Illanes, Evo declared, “Once again, the national government has squashed an attempted coup.”  He added that the miners had planned to entrench themselves at the roadblocks they had established and that documents confiscated from the offices of the cooperative miners mention “overthrowing the government.”  He stated that some of the private business and cooperatives’ owners had deceived their workers.

The US has sought to undermine Evo Morales, going back to his first presidential election campaign.  Bolivia’s Cabinet Chief Juan Ramon Quintana stated over the past eight years the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has funded around 40 institutions in Bolivia including economic and social centers, foundations and non-governmental organizations, at a total amount of over $10 million.  US soft coup efforts reached their heights during the separatist movement by the rich white elite in the Media Luna, and during in the TIPNIS protests in 2011.

In the fall of 2015 the US developed the Strategic Plan for Bolivia to reverse the progressive popular changes in Bolivia and restore neoliberal-neocolonial rule. This was written by Carlos Alberto Montaner, a counter-revolutionary Cuban exile, US Congresspeople such as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, in charge of USAID for Latin America, and chief leaders of the Bolivian opposition.  One early result was the defeat of the Bolivian referendum to allow Evo Morales to run for president for a third term.

Venezuelan President Maduro has pointed out that the Dilma coup, the killing of the Bolivian minister, are part of an imperialist attack on the progressive governments of Latin America.  “It is a continent-wide attack by the oligarchies and the pro-imperialist right wing against all the leaders, governments and popular movements, progressive and revolutionary left” said Maduro. “With Dilma in Brazil, with Evo in Bolivia, Correa in Ecuador, with Daniel in Nicaragua and with all the peoples and social movements of Latin America, Venezuela is going to struggle for a sovereign, independent, humane, and popular future.”

So far the US anti-war, anti-interventionist movements have not strongly responded to the escalating US coup attempts against progressive elected Latin American governments.

[Stansfield Smith, Chicago ALBA Solidarity, is a long time Latin America solidarity activist, and presently puts out the AFGJ Venezuela Weekly.]

Let It Shine

Culture of Imbeciles

February 2, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

shine a light

Oskar Schlemmer | Der Taucher – costume from Das Triadische Ballett (The Triadic Ballet), 1922

 

Authentic human rights networks ought to be calling for the arrest and prosecution by the International Criminal Court of the leaders and agents of Avaaz, Purpose, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (essentially subsidiaries of convicted inside-trader George Soros’ Open Society Institute) for crimes against humanity. While these shady organizations (in tandem with the U.S. Government-funded National Endowment for Democracy and USAID) continue undermining international law at the behest of Wall Street, NATO and the Pentagon, we can at least shine a light on these voices of death. Sing along with us:

This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

avaazkilllhashtag

 

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website:www.jaytaber.com]

WATCH: The CIA and the National Endowment for Democracy

Video (1995) published March 1, 2012

Excerpt from the book Rouge State by William Blum:

“How many Americans could identify the National Endowment for Democracy? The NED was set up in the early 1980s under President Reagan in the wake of all the negative revelations about the CIA. Seemingly every other day there was a new headline about the discovery of some awful thing the CIA had been mixed up in for years. The Agency was getting an exceedingly bad name.

Something had to be done. What was done was not to stop doing these awful things. Of course not. What was done was to shift many of these awful things to a new organization, with a nice-sounding name – The National Endowment for Democracy. The idea was that the NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades – and thus eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities.

Thus it was in 1983, the National Endowment for Democracy was set up to “support democratic institutions throughout the world through private, non-governmental efforts.” In actuality, virtually every penny of its funding comes from the federal government, as is clearly indicated in the financial statement in each issue of its annual report.

Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, declared in 1991: ‘A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.'”

 

 

Gloria Steinem Discussing Her Time in the CIA:

 

SAMANTHA POWER, LOUISE MUSHIKIWABO & COLETTE BRAECKMAN BRING THE DEAD BACK TO LIFE, IN ORDER TO PERPETUATE A LIE

The Intense Western Media Assault on Burundi, its Toxic False-equivalencies & the Lying Mass Murderers Behind It

Urugaga

November 13, 2015

Gates Kagame Blair

President Kagame with Michael Milken, Bill Gates, Tony Blair and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles following the closing panel on Investing in African Prosperity at the Milken Institute Global Conference – Los Angeles, 1 May 2013

In recent days a fake letter claiming that the FDLR was in Burundi, working with President Nkurunziza to exterminate the Tutsia surfaced out of thin air, and was immediately promoted on social media by Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, Belgian Journalist/Rumour monger Colette Braeckman, and various Burundian opposition figures. This cynical choir of sinister characters claimed that this was the smoking gun they had long waited for, to prove that the FDLR was in Burundi working with President Nkurunziza to kill tutsis. According to these people, this was the final piece that gave President Kagame the right to march into Burundi to set things straight. All that was left, a decision by the UN Security Council,declaring Burundi a property of the UN/US where Kagame can lead his band of looters and pillagers to dispose of as they please. The task to bring this so called compelling evidence to the Security Council was assigned to the US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, who has been itching for a fight with Burundi for the last couple of years.

Samantha Power

Samantha Power

It turns out the letter in question was written on November 4th 2015, by an FDLR Commander by the name of Col. Kabuyoya who passed away several years ago, May He Rest in Peace. Now, unless, the UN wants to accuse the FDLR of running an army of Whitewalkers like in Game of Thrones (an unsettling thought for Kagame who apparently loves the HBO TV show) whereby its fallen soldiers come back to life to fight as fearless ghostly commandos, Col. Kabuyoya did not write any letters. lately; not to his enemies, not to his old comrades, let alone to a sitting President of a Sovereign Country which Burundi is, despite the madness that this trio from hell ( Louise, Samatha and Colette ) may want us to believe. Instead I am of the opinion that, this was supposed to be the equivalent of General Dallaire’s phony genocide fax which was debunked by the International Tribunal, and yet it is still being used by spin doctors such as Mushikiwabo and of course Dallaire himself, as having been a credible piece of evidence that a genocide was planned and executed by the former Rwandan Government.

We have seen this movie before. Now, if you think I am being too tough on the ladies, they weren’t the only ones predicting doomsday for Burundi and calling for President Nkurunziza’s head. Luis Michel, the Belgian loud mouth who claims to know everything about Africa and the Africans took it to the airwaves and he accused President Nkurunziza of being the embodiment of evil leaving nothing to the imagination as to what he would like to see happen to the President, at the same time suggesting that Kagame is the Messiah who is going to deliver the Burundians from a President they just voted for overwhelmingly, just a few months ago, and the same UN that is scrambling to destroy the the President, did recognize his election. And of course, General Dallaire came out from whatever rock he’s been hiding under to give a motivational speech to a unit of the genocidal army (RDF) which he helped bring to power in 1994. The UN Mapping Report clearly states that what the RDF did inside Congo is genocidal in nature and a competent court of law should come to the same conclusion. It is unthinkable to imagine why a General who claims to oppose genocide would go hang out with these type of soldiers. Although his speech is only being promoted by the Kigali media, I can hardly believe his appearance in Africa around the time, the US is trying to coerce the world into taking over a Sovereign country for some mysterious social experiment to be a coincidence. For Dallaire to be back on the scene at this time is like a serial killer who goes back to the scene of the crime to relish in his or her macabre handiwork.

The western mass media assault on Burundi has been so intense that it will take a miracle for the Burundians to overcome the pressure to act out the media predictions, intentionally or unintentionally.

 Dallaire

Dallaire

 

Just like in 1994, the same individuals such as Colette Braeckman, Louis Michel and Dallaire are bent on creating a narrative that only the Government of Burundi is responsible for violent acts, even when we know that a General belonging to the opposition went on TV and claimed responsibility for a string of grenade attacks on civilians inside Bujumbura, terrorist acts by any standard. During the Security Council Meeting, everyone talked about hot political rhetoric from Burundian officials and they forgot to mention Louise Mushikiwabo and her boss’s incitement and threatening speeches against the Burundian government.

 

For the last two years Burundian opposition figures have used incendiary language meant to raise the specter of calamity, trying every trick in the book to connect the FDLR to the Burundian Government as a way to draw the Rwandese Army into an inter Burundian dispute that started as political and has now reached a point where Kagame threatens to invade and he is cheered on by his old groupies, such as Louis Michel and Colette Braeckman. Rwanda is now home to a Burundian opposition Radio Station that just one week ago ran a broadcast of a Burundian opposition activist who claims that Tutsis are Jews, and that it is their duty to drive the likes of Pierre Nkurunzinza into Congo or Angola or even further South. He goes on to state that if the Tutsis (Jews as he keeps insisting) attack the rest of the Bantus with the aim to subjugate them, Israel will send in a hundred thousand soldiers and heavy weapons to help them wipe out everybody and live happily ever after in a world free of ungodly people.

Louis Michel

Louis Michel

This kind of poisonous rhetoric, is going on in synch with multiple propaganda experts going around the world masquerading as human rights activists, using a conciliatory language and blaming all their country’s ills on President Nkurunziza. One such character was on Canadian TV the other day, accusing Nkurunziza of every nasty thing she could think of stopping short of calling him a baby eating monster. She called herself a peace loving mother, then got off TV and headed to a fundraiser where money was collected to buy more grenades to throw into crowded markets into Bujumbura, which of course the likes of Colette Braeckman blame on Nkurunziza without fact checking anything they hear. The Burundian opposition’s double speak is aimed at angering the hutu masses as it was done with Radio Muhabura in the 90’s, and creating international sympathy for their political cause, at the same time creating insecurity within the country, knowing full well that everything is going to be blamed on the Government.

Colette Braeckman

Colette Braeckman

This strategy worked for the RPF to perfection, and as a result the whole region has been in turmoil ever since, and more than 12 million people have lost their lives. Therefore, anyone who claims to care about the region to be engaged in this kind of politics, is outright criminal, and the international actors who are party to this are just as guilty. What is clear to me and most rational people is this: BURUNDI IS NOT RWANDA NOR GERMANY, PRESIDENT NKURUNZIZA IS NOT HITLER AND CNDD-FDD IS NOT THE THIRD REICH, TUTSIS ARE NOT JEWS, HUTUS ARE NOT GERMANS AND THE TIMES OF CONQUEST AND EMPIRE BUILDING HAS LONG PASSED, ANY ATTEMPT TO SUBJUGATE THE PEOPLE BY ANY BODY REGARDLESS OF THEIR FOREIGN BACKERS WILL MEET STIFF RESISTANCE AND IS DOOMED TO FAIL. THOSE WHO BLINDLY TAKE SIDES BEHIND THIS KIND OF POLITICS HAVE NOTHING TO OFFER TO AFRICA BUT PAIN AND SUFFERING/ IT IS UP TO THE BURUNDIANS TO SOLVE THEIR OWN PROBLEMS AND RWANDANS SHOULD SOLVE THEIR OWN PROBLEMS FIRST, BEFORE GETTING INVOLVED INTO BURUNDI.

The Empire’s War against Burundi: War Propaganda in Preparation for an R2P “Humanitarian Intervention”

Gearóid Ó Colmáin

December 23, 2015

by Gearóid Ó Colmáin

burundi flickr

Agriculture in the beautiful Burundi countryside. “The green patches are tea, and there’s some wheat in there too.” Photo: Jane Boles

Since April of 2015, the Republic of Burundi has been beset by a violent protest movement organised by NGOs financed by the United States and the European Union. These so-called ‘civil society’ organisations have engaged in mass murder, arson, and sabotage in a concerted attempt to spread anarchy in the country on behalf of neocolonial interests.

The Burundian government has become a target of Africom, US neocolonial rule in Africa, due to its independent development policies which advocate the creation of a strong state with a multi-vectored foreign policy. Important contracts have been signed in recent years with Russia and China for the exploitation of natural resources such as nickel. The country is also moving closer into the orbit of the BRICS countries.This is why it is being attacked by Western backed political subversion.

+++
avaaz burundi

Pierre Nkurunziza, the country’s president, is among the most popular leaders in Africa today. The reason for this is quite simple. Since coming to power in 2005, Nkurunziza has built more schools than all the combined rulers since independence. A keen ecologist, Nkurunziza is known to spend weekends working in the fields with peasants. He has initiated a vast tree planting programme to protect the country’s environment. The Burundian government intends to turn the country into a major exporter of fruit and free medical care for pregnant women has been provided in newly constructed healthcare centres throughout the country.

The pretext for escalating the destabilization of the country came when Nkurunziza sought a third term as president.US/EU backed opponents claimed that this was contrary to the constitution. However, the legal authorities of the country judged that it was not contrary to the nation’s constitution. Under international law, each nation state is responsible for the internal affairs of that country. However, when it comes to African countries, this principal is rendered null and void. Brussels and Washington have said Nkurunziza must go and have been fomenting instability in the country since 2006, a process that has accelerated since April of 2015.

Among his many achievements as president of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza has made community work on Saturdays mandatory in order to foster national voluntarism and a sense of civic spirit in a country just recovering from one of the twentieth century’s worse genocides. From 1993 to 2005, up to 4 million people were murdered during the French, Belgian and US-backed military dictatorship of generals Micombero, Bagaza and Boyoya. Nkurunziza’s Community Work Days have helped reconstruct a war-raved nation, creating a sense of self reliance, unity and social hope among his people. The project has already led to the construction of over 5000 schools in the country.

Beautifu Burundi

Situated in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Burundi is of major interest to multi-national corporations due to its rich agricultural land, natural resources and its strategic location near the some of the most mineral-rich lands on earth. Belgian and French neocolonial rule in Burundi involved stoking up ethnic tension between the Tutsi minority, favoured by Belgian colonialism and the majority Hutu population. Although the government has made every effort to reconcile the two communities, ensuring an ethnic balance in the military and state institutions, and notwithstanding the fact that there is no evidence of state-sponsored racial discrimination in the country, the Western corporate press have been attempting to create the impression that the Burundian government is threatening to exterminate the Tutsi minority. They do this by twisting almost every statement the government makes calling for calm and unity among all Burundians into incitment to racial hatred and genocide.The spreading of rumours that promote fear is a integral part of imperial destabilization techniques.

The Western powers never wanted Pierre Nkurunziza to take power. They understand that a leader who would be capable of uniting all the ethnicities in a country would inevitably pursue socially orientated policies inimical to Western corporate and geostratigic interests. Nkurunziza has repeatedly declared his intention to wipe out poverty in the country. Although the Burundian president is no Thomas Sankara, his concern for the livelihood of the poor makes him a danger to Western corporate interests.

Burundi Tweet Dec 19 3

In 2012, the French Ministry of Defense published a report in their journal Horizons Strategiques which warned about the dangers for French interests posed by a resurgence of the ‘politics of dignity’ in Africa. National sovereignty and panafricanist movements were cite as  presenting a grave danger to French control over African resources. This is why all African nations are being systematically destablised by mercenaries and pseudo ‘civil society’ movements working to effect regime change on behalf of neocolonialist interests. Most of these movements received generous funding from the US National Endowment for Democracy, a US think tank which works closely with the CIA to overthrow governments who threaten US imperial interests.This is precisely what is happening in Burundi.

Amnesty International is now publishing serious accusations against the Burundian government in the corporate press. This is an organization which claims to be independent yet has counted among its board members former US National Security Advisor Zbiigniew Bzrezinski, who stated to French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998 that he couldn’t care less regarding the CIA’s backing of terrorists in Afghanistan, as long as US geopolitical interests were served.

Amnesty International helped spread the racist lies about ‘African mercenaries’ during NATO’s propaganda campaign that preceded the carpet bombing and total destruction of that country in 2011. Amnesty international have been lying and lying  over and over again about Syria since NATO launched its war on the country in 2011, using proxy terrorist gangs. The human rights group have repeatedly blamed the crimes of Al Qaeda linked terrorists in Syria on the Syrian government.

Amnesty-International-Imperialist-Tool

Now the terrorist human rights organisation is sharpening its knives in preparation for the mutilation of another African nation resisting globalisation, resisting the Pentagon’s Africom, resisting neocolonial enslavement. Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are the avant garde of contemporary imperialism. They are, ipso facto, deeply complicit in genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

These organisations provide moral justification for devastating wars of aggression that murder hundreds of thousands of civilians, rendering millions more homeless and destitute. They are nothing less than evil doers and should be tried for their crimes by the Kuala Lumper War Crimes Tribunal, the only credible legal entity in the world today for the prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Amnesty’s mendacious report on the ‘crackdown’ on ‘peaceful protesters’ and ‘human rights’ activists in Burundi has now been released in order to provide justification for the invasion and occupation of Burundi by international ‘peace-keeping’ forces under the spurious UN doctrine of ‘responsibility to protect’, which translates as the responsibility of the global corporate polyarchy and its puppet governments to ensure that no nation, no matter how small or insignificant, dares challenge the self-proclaimed authority of their ‘global governance’.

 

[Gearóid Ó Colmáin is a journalist and political analyst based in Paris. His work focuses on globalization, geopolitics and class struggle. He is a regular contributor to Global Research, Russia Today International, Press TV, Sputnik Radio France, Sputnik English , Al Etijah TV , Sahar TV,and has also appeared on Al Jazeera and Al Mayadeen. He writes in English, Gaelic and French. Please donate to his new website and keep the truth flowing.]

 

Further reading:

Burundi: L’ingérence de Washington et de l’UE ne sont pas inévitables

Creating Failed States | Next up: Burundi

Avaaz Hones In On Burundi as Next U.S. Fait Accompli

Are the US and the EU Sponsoring Terrorism in Burundi?

Rwanda and Burundi : Who’s ‘promoting instability through violence’?

THE PURPOSE OF AVAAZ: CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY