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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: The Cases of Ecuador and Bolivia

Chicago ALBA Solidarity

October 8, 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 NGOs to carry out its plans, which often appeal to cherished liberal-left values and sentiments.  The agents of these revolutions seem just like us, with our Western liberal values. Left aside are the actual social and economic plans they will implement – it is all a rush to win democracy, then all else will later fall into place.  As a result, many people opposed to US military interventionism are taken in, many often willingly.

The progressive Latin American governments are targets 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, NED, IRI, NDI in financing 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 which align themselves to 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 (GLW) 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 an oppressed “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, Federico Fuentes of GLW 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.

A key part of the US anti-Correa and anti-Evo Morales campaign involves using indigenous and environmental groups to attack their governments. Unfortunately, consciously or not, this campaign is furthered in various alternative media centers, and can be seen in UpsideDownWorld [USDW], NACLA, and recently even Real News Network.

Too often, when liberal-left alternative media, such as NACLA, USDW, In These Times,[2] ROAR, even Naomi Klein, address Latin America,  we find articles representing and defending  the perspectives of these same US influenced environmental NGOs and related indigenous groups. This media has to some extent become transmission belts for US propaganda, as willing or unwilling participants in soft coup operations against these countries.

We find these alternative media outlets 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 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 of 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 Upside Down World’s “The Politics of Pachamama: Natural Resource Extraction vs. Indigenous Rights and the Environment in Latin America.” [5]

Contrast this with a website 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 brings to light what Achtenberg and Dangl seek to conceal:

“neither of the Internet statements [an anti-Evo Morales Avaaz petition and September 21 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 in the West, thereby undermining progressive opposition 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. No mention is made of the US role in the protests, the fact that Evo’s government had a number of the police responsible for abuse fired, or 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, one of the leaders of these TIPNIS protests, defended by Western based alternative media, announced he was joining a rightwing party.[11] This was conveniently not mentioned in this alternative media.

Someone educated about Latin America knows it is ludicrous to think the US plays no role in coups and protests 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 as well as US Infiltration of Indigenous and Environmental Groups

Hypocrisy on the Yasuni, Concealing US Fundacion Pachamama, NGOs, CONAIE, Pachakutik

As in Evo’s Bolivia, a central ingredient of the US anti-Correa campaign involves using indigenous groups and environmental NGOs to attack the Correa government, a campaign reflected in alternative media outlets such as Upside Down World, NACLA, sometimes even in Real News Network.

In Ecuador, we can see this apologetics for the US Empire in reporting on the September 30, 2010 coup attempt against Rafael Correa. At the time, Upside Down World approvingly published CONAIE’s statement on the attempted coup against Correa, which made no mention of US involvement, gave no word of support for the elected president, and blamed President Correa for the political conflict that led to the coup.[12] Marc Becker, a regular Upside Down World writer on Ecuador, posted a statement by Pachakutik 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 exposed the US role in the attempted coup against Correa, Jean-Guy Allard pointed out the US infiltration of the police (who led the coup) and armed forces.[13]

Golinger exposed the USAID/NED connections of 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 pointed out 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, receive funding from USAID and NED to destabilize the government of President Rafael Correa. Tiban, of the Pachakutik Party (political wing of CONAIE) 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.

Closing Down Fundacion Pachamama

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, was 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.

Where were these environmental NGOs when Ecuador advocated for the Yasuni Initiative?  The Correa government of Ecuador 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 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]  Morningstar: “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 included, in Ecuador: Accion Ecologica, CEDENMA; in the US: 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.

The pro-imperialist inroads made into progressive movement by the US anti-Correa campaign is illustrated by who co-signed this defense of  the USAID funded group: Acción Ecológica, Greenpeace International, 350.org, Amazon Watch, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Friends of the Earth US, Global Exchange, IFIP – International Funders for Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Environmental Network, Move to Amend Coalition, New Energy Economy, Pachamama Alliance, Rainforest Action Network, Soul of Money Institute, Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus, Womenrise for Global Peace, World Temperate Rainforest Network.

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 what Western NGOs are about: ‘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]

[1] The Pachamama Alliance website creates an emotive hook/storyline that it was the Achuar who first decided to “reach out to the modern world”: “In the 1990’s, facing oil development on their ancestral lands, Achuar elders decided to reach out to the modern world that was threatening their very existence. They issued a call for allies who would work to ‘change the dream of the modern world’ and transform the culture of overconsumption driving the destruction of the rainforest. The Pachamama Alliance was created as an answer to their call.” The reality is slightly less poetic. 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 against Correa for closing it. This includes NACLA and Upside Down World, where 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, serving 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. A completely colorless 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 Correa and Evo Morales by US funded environmental NGOs and some indigenous groupings, it is necessary to note, as Linera did in his article that these non-governmental organizations 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 the 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]

NACLA and Amazon Watch on the August 2015 protests in Ecuador, 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 the government.[29]

NACLA’s disinformation manifest itself again in summer 2015. NACLA and Upside Down World ran articles by Manuela Picq, the anti-Correa foreign journalist kicked out of the country.

Its 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, regional affiliate of the CONAIE, and was herself a participant in the protests. These were not peaceful protests, but violently attacked the police when they could not break through police lines to take over the presidential palace.  Picq herself denied she was mistreated by the police.[32]

The August protests were deliberately misrepresented in Upside Down World 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.

http://www.larepublica.ec/blog/politica/2015/06/17/conaie-otras-organizaciones-suman-movilizaciones-todo-pais/

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 Question of So-Called “Extractivism”

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

The term “extractivism” conceals the real crime: the corporate raping of the resources of the oppressed Third World and the pollution it inflicts on the environment and people living there. The 500 year imperialist pillaging of oppressed nations’ natural resources using almost slave labor conditions lies obscured. The real issue hidden by behind the term “extractivism” is who controls the natural resources of oppressed nations:  the imperial powers or these nations themselves. The central class issue of “extractivism” is buried: who uses natural resources for whose interests, who benefits, who suffers. Lies buried is that Bolivia and Ecuador have taken control of their natural resources from imperialist corporations, and use the wealth produced to improve the lives of their peoples.

While Latin America has moved in a continuing anti-imperialist, anti-neoliberal direction, and the ALBA countries have implemented social programs benefiting the disadvantaged, many previous US supporters of Latin America sovereignty have moved in a direction hostile to this process.

Writers in Upside Down World, for instance, claim that the indigenous of Ecuador are opposed to “extractivism.” However, CONAIE, while opposing industrial scale mining, defend “artisan” mining. This type of mining killed 300 people at an “artisan mine” landslide in 1993. This type of unregulated mining also has unregulated environmental effects

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]

Also concealed by this “progressive” media is the far from anti-extractivist motivations behind some of the indigenous protests in August 2015. In Macas, an area of intense protests, a key issue was actually the government’s opposition to building a road through an ecologically sensitive area.

Moreover, the previous CONAIE president, Humberto Cholango, 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 USDW and NACLA are not informed of 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.

Historic debts

To overcome Ecuador’s [or Bolivia’s, or Venezuela’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. The proposal involves Ecuador agreeing to leave Amazonian oil reserves in the ground. In return, it asked Western governments and other institutions to provide Ecuador with funds equivalent to 50% of the values of the reserve, about US$3.6 billion. Ecuador was only offered a paltry $116 million.

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 [and other oppressed nations] … 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 not to simply oppose “imperialist meddling” but 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 publications to take a similar stand, even if watered down, is nothing other than apologetics for imperialist interference. For these publications 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 of an oppressed “Third World” country, whether progressive or not, 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 crimes of imperialism against the people.

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 progressive ALBA countries defending their national sovereignty by shutting down what Bolivia Vice-President Linera called “foreign government financed organization NGOs” operating in their countries.

The stated USAID budget for Latin America is $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 backhandedly cooperating with the US soft coup plotters, claiming Correa and Evo Morales are oppressing the “Indigenous,” destroying the Amazon,  repressing leftwing political opponents. This alternative media paints US collaborators in Bolivia and Ecuador as defenders of free expression, defenders of nature, defenders of the indigenous. Even worse, much of this propaganda against Evo and Correa appears only in the alternative press, what we consider our press. Many of the people who were our allies, or allies on many other issues even today, are on the other side of the fence.

Now we are too often presented with this kind of material in NACLA that actually gives some cover and legitimacy to the US interventionist program in the ALBA countries. It makes clear how the US government’s “talking points” on the leaders of the progressive ALBA bloc have worked their way into supposed-to-be progressive alternative media writing on Latin America[44]:

That the US government has used indigenous groups against progressive governments is not a new strategy. Even back in 1600s Massachusetts, it effectively using one indigenous people against another in order to destroy both to further its colonial interests.

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, which they had, but these legitimate grievances 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. This undermines their legitimate grievances.

Nil Nikandrov in his article “US Trojan Horses in Venezuela” stated “representatives of 55 Venezuelan NGOs called the international community to rise to the defense of democracy in the country at a media event in Miami, charging Hugo Chavez with threatening democracy, neglecting human rights, and igniting a civilian conflict in Venezuela.” Quite similar to the line propagated against Correa.[45]

Bolivia

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2016/06/09/the-us-is-preparing-to-oust-president-evo-morales.html

Amazon Watch on Bolivia

In 2011 Amazon Watch carried out similar propaganda, though not as completely baseless, against Evo Morales’ Bolivia.

https://thewrongkindofgreen.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/about-u-s-amazon-watch-take-action-help-stop-police-repression-in-bolivia/

https://intercontinentalcry.org/through-the-looking-glass/

“a new form of psywar has emerged in the form of false hope. With unlimited funding and organizational support from foundations like Ford, Rockefeller, Gates and Soros, U.S. Government propaganda now has a vast new army of non-profits that, along with corporate media and academia, serve as both a third wing of mass consciousness and a fifth column for destabilization campaigns worldwide.”

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.

NACLA, UpsideDownWorld, with regards to Ecuador, have often become vehicles to echo the attacks on this ALBA government of Correa made by the same bloc of organizations that have received US funds. This is not to say these media outlets may also receive USAID money.

We are not presented with explanations by government leaders, such Linera’s article on the TIPNIS. Emily Achtenberg gives a very skimpy summary in her writing on the TIPNIS conflict, but she cannot bring herself to refer to US Embassy interference and coordination in the conflict.

They are not so much defenders of the progressive countries as First World academic critics. For instance, NACLA can run an article criticizing Bolivia and Ecuador shutting down NGOs:

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

“Rejecting the necessity for unequivocal solidarity against imperialism, many “activists” ignore the fact that 1) a multitude of Caribbean/Latin American states, as well as any region in the Global South that had exploitable resources, have been colonized and exploited for centuries, 2) the very people at the forefront, condemning the “extractivists,” are the very people purchasing and using what is extracted (the “extractivist” states themselves use and emit almost nothing of what they extract, with the money being used to lift citizens out of extreme dire poverty), 3) these states are also very much trapped within the industrialized capitalist economic system; they do not exist in a vacuum, 4) reparations have not been made to these states who contributed essentially nothing to the planetary crisis, 5) the leaders of these states must (usually within 1-2 terms) face the daily and very real possibility of CIA-plotted assassination, destabilization and coups while satisfying a populace seeking the most basic of life necessities and economic stability, and 6) by siding with U.S.-financed NGOs such as Pachamama Alliance, Amazon Watch, etc., one is NOT in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples. Rather one is (yet again) reabsorbed by the very system we claim to oppose – reabsorbed by the very system and hegemonic rule that is destroying Indigenous Peoples and whole cultures across the entire globe.” [46]

We see in the Dissent magazine article, “Beyond the Petrostate: Ecuador’s Left Dilemma,” the author, Thea Riofrancos, tries to blame Correa for his death, not the mining company.[47] She also jumps on the bandwagon to blame Correa for “extractivism,” a “sin” evidently only committed by one country, Correa’s Ecuador. When it comes to the real issue, the real, actual crime, corporate raping of the land and environmental pollution, as with the case of Chevron, the author barely mentions it.

Nor does the article mention NED, USAID, and Western NGO funding of environmental and indigenous groups in Ecuador. Nor mention the alliance of these groups with the rightwing during the violent demonstrations in the summer of 2015. Nor question the violence of the demonstrators. [48] The article is written as if US imperialism is not an important player in the events in Ecuador.  For any serious analysis of important political events in a Third World country, the starting point has to be the role of US imperialism. Otherwise, it is covering up its role.

This is part of the very traditional arrogant Yankee attitude that many US leftists share with the US imperialists: we know better how to do things than you do, we are the best interpreters and defenders of democracy and human rights.

 
 

[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 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

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

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

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

Violence, disinformation, outright lies and anti-government propaganda

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] Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA | Part IV of an Investigative Report

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

[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; and 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

[45] http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/02/20/us-trojan-horses-in-venezuela.html

[46] http://www.theartofannihilation.com/fundacion-pachamama-is-dead-long-live-alba-part-iii/

[47] https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/riofrancos-beyond-petrostate-ecuador-left-dilemma

[48] http://www.importantcool.com/murder-amazon-guardians-quest-correa/

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.

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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

Newly Elected Argentinian President Mauricio Macri Trapped «In the Net» of Populism

Strategic Culture Foundation

November 29, 2015

By Nil Nikandrov

From left: Presidents Evo Morales, Bolivia; Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina; José Mujica, Uruguay; Dilma Rousseff, Brazil; and Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela, in 2013. (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert/PR.)

From left: Presidents Evo Morales, Bolivia; Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina; José Mujica, Uruguay; Dilma Rousseff, Brazil; and Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela, in 2013. (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert/PR.)

Mauricio  Macri, the newly elected President of Argentina, will take the office on 10 December. This Liberal-Conservative politician, the leader of Republican Proposal (Spanish: Propuesta Republicana, PRO), a center-right political party, has won as a result of a fierce battle with Daniel Osvaldo Scioli, the candidate from the Front for Victory, the ruling left-wing Peronist electoral alliance.

Neither candidate managed to win the vote outright, forcing a run-off – the first in the country’s history. Macri won 51.4 per cent of the vote to 48.5 percent for ruling party rival Daniel Scioli. The gap is narrow, but Argentinian channels and radio stations were biased predicting the Macri’s victory from the very start of the race.

Daniel Scioli admitted defeat to his opponent even before the final count of the votes. «I respect the popular will, which has chosen an alternative», he said. Sciolli congratulated Mauricio Macri and his team on the victory and wished them good luck. He did not sound dramatic. The Front for Victory ruled the country for 12 years. Under the direction of Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) and then his wife Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (2007-2015) Argentina went through the difficulties inherited after the years of bloody military dictatorship and neoliberal experiments. The «kircherists» can be rightfully proud of their social-economic achievements and the fundamental and consistent policy aimed at protection of national interests.

The Mexican La Jornada editorial clearly explained what has recently happened in Argentina:

«The yesterday’s defeat should not be perceived as the refusal of Argentinians to do justice to the achievements of 2003-2015. It’s rather the result of internal and external factors that exist in the national context of the situation in the Western Hemisphere. Tycoons persistently tried to destabilize the governments led by the Kirschners, they were constantly under media attacks. Foreign interference also took place. And not only that. The powers that ran out of steam [el desgaste], the reduced demand for mineral resources led to economic slump, there were cases of corruption in the government… Experts agree that the triumph of Macri, as he moves to Casa Rosada [the executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina – translator’s note], will bring the country back to neoliberal politics that resulted in devastation at the beginning of this century to spark a serious economic crisis undermining the government’s credibility and ability to govern».

Macri said he won the presidential race because the people were tired of economic and financial problems, the growing crime rate and corruption. Mass media echoed this thesis highlighting the results of the presidential race. What about the «new deal» promised by Macri in his victory speech? He is seasoned enough not to make any bombastic statements. Macri only called on Argentinians to work together joining efforts to meet the interests of the country and ensure a bright future. «This is the beginning of a new era that has to carry us toward the opportunities we need to grow and progress», Macri noted. Somehow, he left behind the populist mimicry actively used during the final stage of the race. Macri promised equal access to health care, free medicine for low-income seniors, the eradication of poverty, the creation of another one and a half million jobs and homes for all the needy.

In the victory speech Macri slightly mentioned the issue of overdue reforms, which would certainly spark social tensions, if implemented. The commercial and financial elite of Argentina, land owners, the military, a large part of middle class and the activists of non-government organizations expect Macri to do away with «populist structures». They want him to adopt more confrontational approaches and implement the policy of «open economy». Perhaps, the first thing he would do is the liberalization of currency market that would lead to devaluation of peso.

Macri promised to build Argentina with zero poverty, intensify the fight against drug trafficking and boost international cooperation to have good relationships with all countries. «We want to work with everyone. We know that the Argentine people have much to bring to the world», he said. It can be said now that Macri will not be able «to work with everyone». Not once he made unfriendly remarks toward the Bolivarian government of Venezuela and President Nicolas Maduro during the presidential race. The Macri’s meetings with Venezuelan opposition are used by US propaganda for subversive activities against the «Maduro regime». Macri continues to sound hostile towards the Venezuelan government after the race is over.

The newly elected president said he would propose that Mercosur, the trade bloc of South American nations, suspend Venezuela for its «undemocratic» actions against opposition politicians. What exactly does he mean? Some members of opposition took part in armed attacks. Over 40 people lost lives, as a result, including police. Obviously, the Macri’s statements are of provocative nature, because the Argentina’s neighbors, such as Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, as well as some other countries led by left wing democratic governments, will inevitably get involved in the conflict. As a result, the process of regional integration will be negatively affected at the time the region is going through hard times.

The ongoing financial and economic crisis has affected everyone. Macri will raise the stakes launching neoliberal reforms and inserting changes into the foreign policy. The support of the United States administration is guaranteed. Macri has been loyal since 2007 when he met Mike Matera, a CIA agent. Back then he called on the US embassy to take a tougher stand against then President Nestor Kirchner and then Christina Kirchner.

The new president of Argentina is a 100 percent pro-US politician. Some experts predict he won’t deteriorate the relations with Moscow and Beijing. These optimistic predictions should be taken with a grain of salt. Christina Fernandez and her government have done a lot to spur the progress in the Russia-Argentina relations and cement the bilateral strategic partnership as was agreed by the presidents of Russia and Argentina in April 2015.

It’s all in the past now. The situation has changed: Argentina, like other states led by left wing governments, is facing economic hardships. Its geopolitical position is negatively affected. For Macri, the cooperation with the United States is a natural thing to do. Some political scholars believe that the Macri’s win in Argentina ends the era of Christina Fernandez. On December 10, she’ll move out of the presidential palace. But it’s hard to imagine she’ll keep out of politics to become a passive bystander, especially now as the Sciolli suffered a defeat and the Front for Victory is in opposition.

Starting from December 10 President Macri will have to establish working relations with the opposition in the National Congress, where the Front for Victory and its allies dominate in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Argentine National Congress, and the Senate, the upper chamber of parliament. It’s hard to believe that Christina Fernandez and her supporters will let Macri destroy everything that has been created during so many years. A great effort was applied to ensure social stability, national progress and the well-being of the people. They won’t let it go down the drain. Any attempts «to cut» social benefits and state expenditure will spark mass protests.

The supporters of «Kircnerism» believe that shifting the foreign policy priorities is fraught with the loss of independence and national sovereignty. As Macri takes office, the Pacific Alliance and other geopolitical projects initiated and controlled by the United States will be given priority over other Latina American integration projects. Not «kircherists» only, but all those who support national interests, will fiercely oppose it.

 

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

Wrong Kind of Green

November 18, 2015

By Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer

Beautifu Burundi

Beautiful Burundi, “the Beating Heart of Africa” is situated almost in the centre of Africa with a shape like a heart. It’s located between Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda. Burundi is home to the Lake Tanganyika which is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest, after Lake Baikal in Siberia.

United Nations Development Program Press Release, October 30, 2012: “The normalization of political life has been a remarkable achievement in Burundi, said Rosine Sori-Coulibaly, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General in Burundi. Burundi’s remarkable development achievements are coming just seven years after the civil war ended… free, fair and peaceful elections took place in 2005 and 2010 and safety and security has been reinforced across the entire national territory.”

“Burundi holds 6 percent of the world’s nickel reserves, with Musongati ranked as one of the 10 largest known deposits of the metal that have yet to be developed… The East African nation produces small amounts of tantalum, gold, limestone, niobium, tin and tungsten and also has deposits of copper, the U.S. Geological Survey says on its website.” [Bloomberg Business, June 23, 2014]

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avaaz burundi

Above: Avaaz Burundi campaign echos the organizations previous campaigns calling for immediate sanctions and interventions in both Libya and Syria while simultaneously demonizing the leaders of the targeted countries for destabilization. From the petition: “But there’s time to stop another tragedy, if we intervene right now.” [emphasis in original] [Source]

Avaaz Co-Founder Tom Perriello

On July 6, 2015 it was announced by the U.S. State Department that Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello would be fulfilling his role for the expansion of U.S. imperialism as special envoy for the African Great Lakes region and the Congo-Kinshasa:

“Secretary of State John Kerry announced Monday that former Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) will serve as the Obama administration’s special envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa, an appointment that covers Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.”

November 6, 2015:

“He will communicate the U.S. government’s alarm at violence by government and non-government actors inside of Burundi, and the recent dangerous rhetoric by the Burundian government…” [U.S. Department of State Press Release: Special Envoy Thomas Perriello’s Travel to Burundi and the Great Lakes Region, Source]

 

obomberandtom

U.S. President Barack Obama with Avaaz co-founder and (former) U.S. Representative Tom Perriello. “Perriello is a former U.S. Representative (represented the 5th District of Virginia from 2008 to 2010) and a founding member of the House Majority Leader’s National Security Working Group.” [Further reading: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I, Sept, 24, 2012]

Tom P and Kagame

Above: “Butcher of the Great Lakes” President of Rwanda Paul Kagame with Tom Perriello, US Special Envoy for Great Lakes Region – Kigali, August 19, 2015 [Photo Source]

Mineral Wealth and Political Leverage

Power 1

Intimate relations: President Obama with his National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, June 5, 2013. From 2005-2006 Power worked in the office of U.S. Senator Barack Obama as a foreign policy fellow, where she was credited with sparking and directing Obama’s interest in the Darfur conflict. [Source: Rolling Stone]

Nov 8, 2015: Will the West Create its Next Failed State in Burundi?

‘After Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s ultimatum to insurrectionists to lay down their arms, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, and the International Crisis Group, a think tank headed by Western military, government and corporate officials, warned of massacres like those in Rwanda in 1994. In contrast, Charles Kambanda, Rwandan American attorney and former professor at the National University of Rwanda, describes the conflict as political and its larger context as an East/West power struggle for resources.

 

Charles Kambanda: What is really happening in Burundi is no different than what happened in DRC, in Congo. We have these multinational corporations, Western corporations, fighting for natural resources in that region. The best way for these companies to conquer these natural resources is to create a situation where no government is in control. Burundi is now known for a type of natural resource called nickel and they say six percent of the world’s nickel is in Burundi. And if we want to remember the geography of that region, Burundi borders with Congo, and Congo, the other side, is so rich in minerals. So we have these corporations fighting to control Burundi, to create a failed state in Burundi, so that they can get involved in illegal business in that region.” [Source]

The role of Avaaz, Purpose Inc. (the for-profit PR arm of Avaaz), and Avaaz co-founders in U.S./E.U. led destabilizations/invasions across the globe is now extensively documented. Burundi serves as a rinse, rather, repeat performance, only with far less notoriety/interest.

 

Video: April 11, 2015: Démonstration de force en faveur du 3ème mandat de Nkurunziza. Massive and entirely peaceful demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of government supporters have been completely ignored. [Source]

May 16, 2015, Are the US and the EU Sponsoring Terrorism in Burundi?

“The US-funded media disinformation campaign is part of the prelude to the mobilization of street protests against the government that can be presented to the world as a ‘popular uprising’against a ‘dictator’ who is ‘killing his own people’ It is a techinique that has been perfected by US ‘democracy’and ‘civil society’ NGOS….

 

In the case of Burundi, the African Union should have denounced the diabolical terrorist and media disinformation campaign against a young democratic country which has just emerged from a civil war. The fact that they did not shows that they have sided with the enemies of Africa. It is hardly surprising that truly independent, post-colonial countries such as Eritrea will have nothing to do with the sham called the African Union.”[Source]

October 3, 2015, Burundi Accuses Rwanda of Training Rebels for Cross Border Attacks

Kagame and his team want to provoke a genocide in Burundi: “Kagame and his team want to provoke a genocide in Burundi in order to put in power in Burundi the same group as the group which is in Rwanda. Everybody can see that. It is not complicated to see…. this would be the fourth Hutu president assassinated in this region since 1993.”  [Source]

Feb 21, 2014: U.S. State Department announces Perriello’s departure from the Center for American Progress:

“Former Rep. Tom Perriello is leaving the Center for American Progress to head the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and development Review, which analyzes U.S. diplomatic and development efforts abroad.”

 

Turns out Perriello,  and Secretary of State John F. Kerry go back a long way. Perriello, then a 22-year-old, worked on Kerry’s 1996 Senate campaign, working on getting out the environmental vote. Seems they began private talks nearly a year ago about Perriello’s coming over to the State Department. [Source]

While Avaaz stokes the fear of “another Rwanda” it is critical to note the role of the Center for American Progress to which Perriello recently served as both president and CEO, in the Rwandan Genocide. ” The simple tale of good and evil was told to the world by Samantha Power” [Source: The Deluge Film Press Release]

 

 

Human rights investigator and award-winning journalist Keith Harmon Snow, describing the U.S. Center for American Progress and its use of propaganda in portraying Africa in order to protect and further U.S. interests/ foreign policy objectives. Within the lecture, Snow discusses the psyops/propaganda strategically orchestrated behind the “Save Darfur” campaigns/movements which, in 2004, began to saturate the populace. At the helm of this “movement” was “The Center for American Progress”.

The Center for American Progress, is closely connected with the same players that founded and financed Avaaz. Today, with Avaaz at the forefront, the non-profit industrial complex has been appointed trusted messenger of a grotesque and disturbing ideology; nothing less than a complete reflection and validation of the U.S. administration’s rhetoric intended to justify the annihilation and occupation of sovereign states under the false pretense of “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect”.


 

December 29, 2004: “Over two days in early December approximately three-dozen religious activists met at the Washington office of the Center for American Progress, a recently formed think tank headed by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta. The Res Publica-driven agenda for the closed-door gathering included sessions on “building the movement infrastructure” and “objectives, strategies and core issues.”

Res Publica was founded by Tom Perriello, Ricken Patel and Tom Pravda.

Avaaz was founded by Res Publica, MoveOn.org, Executive Director Ricken Patel, Tom Perriello, Tom Pravda, Eli Pariser (MoveOn Executive Director), Andrea Woodhouse (consultant to the World Bank) Jeremy Heimans (co-founder of GetUp! and Purpose), and Australian entrepreneur David Madden (co-founder of GetUp and Purpose) who is the spouse of Woodhouse. Both Madden and Woodhouse took up residence in Burma [Myanmar] [March 23, 2013: Western Media Celebrates Faux Progress in Myanmar] Madden has co-founded a marketing firm, Parami Road in Myanmar: “Our clients are mostly international companies entering Myanmar and they demand an international standard of work.”

Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello served as president and CEO of Center for American Progress from December 2011 to  to February 2014.

Perriello and Patel also co-founded and co-directed DarfurGenocide.org which officially launched in 2004.

“DarfurGenocide.org is a project of Res Publica, a group of public sector professionals dedicated to promoting good governance and virtuous civic cultures.” Today, this organization is now known as “Darfurian Voices”: “Darfurian Voices is a project of 24 Hours for Darfur.” The U.S. Department of State and the Open Society Institute were just two of the organizations funders and collaborating partners. Other Darfurian Voices partners include Avaaz, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Centre for Transitional Justice, Darfur Rehabilitation Project, Humanity United, Darfur People’s Association of New York, Genocide Intervention, Witness, Yale Law School, The Sigrid Rausing Trust and the Bridgeway Foundation.

Despite the carefully crafted language and images that tug at your emotions, such NGOs were created for and exist for one primary purpose — to protect and further American policy and interests, under the guise of philanthropy and humanitarianism. Of all the listed partners of DarfurGenocide.org, with exception of one located in London England, all of the entities involved are American and based on US soil. [Source]

Empire is Closing on on Burundi

Today the Obama administration is frothing at the mouth over the imperial capture of Burundi.

November 15, 2015:

Samantha Power Tweet

To view video, click above screenshot.

The Deluge is a film in progress, undertaken to reveal the truth about invasions, insurgencies, and civil wars that have engulfed the Great Lakes Region of Africa, most of all Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during the past 20 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media Coup? The Vile Virality of Venezuela’s Opposition

TeleSUR

February 11, 2015

by teleSUR / Heather Gies and Cyril Mychalejko

“But it’s no coincidence that social media has become a key instrument of opposition propaganda. Rather, it’s a concerted strategy that has at least partial roots in the U.S. attempt to foment chaos and instability in Venezuela. U.S. sources such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) heavily fund Venezuelan opposition forces and provide “democracy” training for opposition student groups, which has included training in social media use. In 2013, NED provided a total of $1,752,300 in grants to Venezuela in various program areas including $63,000 for “Emerging Leadership, Communication, and Social Networks” and another almost $300,000 for “Training and Communication Skills for Political Activists,” including training in the use of ICTs, or internet communication tools.”

guarimbas_violence.jpeg_1718483346

Venezuela’s opposition took to social media to manipulate the international media into portraying right-wing protesters as victims of violence, rather than the perpetrators. | Photo: AVN

On the anniversary of the outbreak of violent right-wing protests, teleSUR examines the role of social media in fomenting violence and misinformation.

Last February the world recoiled in horror after photos and testimonies allegedly showing and describing Venezuelan state violence against opposition protests spread through Twitter and Facebook. One viral article even declared a “tropical pogrom” was underway in the South American nation.

The Twitter hashtag #SOSVenezuela immediately emerged as a cry for help to the world to intervene.

The international media, especially in the United States, jumped at the opportunity to paint Venezuela in a negative, albeit misleading, light. And even some well-meaning folks on social media, without a comprehensive knowledge of Venezuelan politics, were seduced by the dramatic images and descriptions that seemed to chronicle peaceful protesters being repressed by Venezuelan government forces.

Except it didn’t happen.

Some of the most egregious and gruesome photos were fakes; they were photos taken from other parts of the world and passed off as being from Venezuela. A few others were indeed from Venezuela, but from a different year and different context.

“The opposition protests of 2014 were really decisive proof of both the strategic usefulness and the powerful dangers of social media,” George Ciccariello-Maher, Professor of Politics at Drexel University and author of “We Created Chavez,” told teleSUR. “False images and manipulated claims spread and circulated like wildfire, and while it was possible to discredit some – for example, images from other countries, other periods in history – by the time one was debunked, a dozen had emerged in its place.”

One example is a photo that showed a police officer roughly pulling a protester in a headlock. An accompanying tweet with the photo said “SOS repression in Venezuela URGENT that this photo go around the world.” However, the photo was a fake, dating back to 2011 student protests in Santiago, Chile.

Another particularly odious example claimed to show a Venezuelan police officer forcing a protester to perform oral sex on him. However, the photo, which was posted by Venezuelan actress Amanda Gutierrez, was from a U.S.-based porn site, something the actress later apologized for doing to her 228,000 Twitter followers. Her apology setting the record straight didn’t receive near as much attention as the original misinformation she posted with the photo.

A less inflammatory and more humanizing photo showed a young woman with her hands on the arms of an officer in line of riot police, her face obviously distressed as if crying and pleading with the officer. The photo was tweeted with the text, “You and I are both Venezuelan my buddy.” However, the heartwarming photo, purportedly showing the humanity of opposition protesters, was a complete farce. The photo was actually from protests in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2013.

As Ciccariello-Maher explained, “In a place as politically divided as Venezuela, where the opposition exists in a sort of echo chamber that always repeats the same mantras about electoral fraud, dictatorship, etc., this (social media use) proved to be powerfully dangerous, since it mobilized the extremists who simply took to the streets on the basis of something they already believed to be true.”

So why was the corporate media so willing, if not incautious, to use these and other tweets as fact in their reporting? As Steve Ellner, long time analyst of Venezuelan history and politics and author of “Latin America’s Radical Left: Challenges and Complexities of Political Power in the Twenty-First Century,” told teleSUR: “The international corporate media are experts in presenting unreliable information disguised as viewpoints. By doing so they promote opinions, or at least doubts, among millions of people who do not have ready access to more reliable information.”

According to Ellner, using Twitter as a journalistic source is a “useful tool” for corporate and international media, and quoting right-wing tweets as insider opinions to present an on-the-ground and supposedly balanced view “has been applied to the Venezuelan case in a big way.”

The narrative in much international mainstream news coverage during this wave of extreme right-wing political violence was that the opposition was forced to take to social media as a result of a dictatorial media blockade in Venezuela that prevented opposition voices and views being heard in traditional media. But analysts argue that this is not the case.

“The opposition protests of 2014 were really decisive proof of both the strategic usefulness and the powerful dangers of social media.”

Ciccariello-Maher explained that the Venezuelan government “has successfully reined in some of the most extreme elements” of the press since private media helped orchestrate the attempted coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002, but “there is no media blockade in Venezuela.” Rather, he characterized it as “a nuanced debate around the right of people to accurate media and the responsibility of the private sector in providing this.”

Julia Buxton, Professor of Comparative Politics in the School of Public Policy at the Central European University in Budapest, understands the Venezuelan media context similarly. With this backdrop, she said in an interview with teleSUR, “The lack of an articulated (opposition) platform has less to do with media censorship and restriction than the simple fact of the absence of a plan.” Buxton observed that “opposition supporters have not used Twitter to discuss or disseminate ideas, but to abuse and insult.”

But one plan the opposition did have was to use all of its media and social media platforms to frame the narrative of what was happening in Venezuela internationally. In a Feb. 20, 2014, article that went viral, “The Game Changed in Venezuela Last Night – and the International Media Is Asleep At the Switch,” writer Francisco Toro, founder of the right-wing opposition blog Caracas Chronicles, called on international media to pay attention to the “state-hatched offensive to suppress and terrorize its opponents” in Venezuela. Toro’s article received hundreds of thousands of Facebook likes and shares and tens of thousands of tweets. Toro, a former New York Times stringer who resigned after being outed as an active opposition member, yet who afterward was still afforded regular columns and blog posts with the same paper, wrote about “state-sponsored paramilitaries” who were “shooting at anyone who seemed like he might be protesting” that he claimed resulted in what amounted to a “tropical pogrom” the previous evening.

This “pogrom” resulted in the death of one person – not that night mind you, but four days later as a result of injuries.

When pressed by media critics Keane Bhatt and Jim Naureckas on Twitter, Toro admitted to “overstatement in the heat of the moment.” He even took to the pages of his website to write that “it has since become clear that the violence that night left … just one fatality, and so did not rise to the commonly understood definition of a ‘pogrom’.”

A pogrom by definition is an organized massacre.

However, the damage was done. In contrast to the hundreds of thousands of people his original piece reached, his correction was shared 14 times on Facebook and 12 times on Twitter. Such is the norm on social media, where sensational misinformation seems to consistently attract more attention than corrections.

Another example of strategically viral content was a YouTube video called “What’s going on in Venezuela in a nutshell,” made and narrated by a young Venezuelan college student living in the U.S. Despite the fact that the video was rife with false and misleading information, the deceptively innocent cry for help made good fodder for social media “clicktivism” and quickly reached viral proportions. It garnered over 3 million views on YouTube and was widely shared on other social media platforms. In addition to exaggerating statistics, such as “millions of homicides” occurring in the country each day, which would have wiped out the whole population of Venezuela within a month, she also lied about protesters being killed, protesters being peaceful, and that there is press censorship in the country. Nevertheless, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper featured the video on its website, lauding it for bringing “the plight of student protesters in Venezuela to global attention.”

What doesn’t go viral on Twitter can obviously be just as important as what does.

Another example, in addition to Toro’s retraction, would be an article in the New York Times which offered a rare case of honest reporting. The article “Crude Weapons Help Fuel Unrest in Bastion of Venezuelan Opposition” (02/25/2014) reported that anti-government student protesters had “a variety of homemade weapons — mortars to lob small, noisy explosives, miniature firebombs, slingshots, clubs and nasty-looking things called Miguelitos made from hoses festooned with nails.” The article quoted 19-year-old Andryth Niño admitting that, “We’re not peaceful here.”

Unmasking Social Media – Digital Democracy without Guarantees

While opposition forces have maintained an ongoing presence on social media, renewed mobilization and destabilization campaigns characterize the lead-up to the anniversary of last year’s wave of violence. The opposition is mobilizing its bases, calling supporters to the streets for the Feb. 12 anniversary protests.

Supporters use the hashtags #12F and #YoSalgoEl12F to announce their participation in the right-wing opposition protests. Perhaps more interesting is the hashtag #YoSalgoPor (I’m going out for), which opposition supporters use to express their reasons and motivations for joining the Guarimba anniversary marches.

The majority of these #YoSalgoPor tweets say that the protesters will go to the streets for “all the fallen heroes” of the opposition struggle, or for “justice for the fallen ones” who cannot attend the marches this year. These tweets commemorate the apparent victims of government violence in the first round of Guarimbas last year. However the overwhelming majority of the 43 fatalities died as a result of the violent opposition protests and destabilized conditions the opposition helped provoke. At least 10 individuals were killed at opposition barricades alone, and several government security personnel as well as others were also killed, according to data collected by the U.S.-based Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Maria Corina

María Corina Machado is a leading figure of the Venezuelan opposition, was involved in the 2002 failed coup attempt, and was a main organizer of opposition protests last year. Her civil society organization, Súmate, accepted funds from the mainly U.S. Congress funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) .

As is the nature of social media, providing merely a snapshot without a broader context, these #YoSalgoPor tweets of course do not allude to the violence and fatalities caused by the right-wing opposition violence themselves. The most horrific among these fatalities included a woman being decapitated by barbed wire intentionally strung at the barricades by opposition extremists to cause danger to pro-government motorcyclists. A number of motorcyclists were indeed decapitated, several others motorists died crashing into barricades. At least three people were shot dead while attempting to clear away barricades. Six members of the National Guard were also killed.

These actions lived up to the goals of a strategic destabilization plan developed in 2013 by Colombian and U.S. organizations, including USAID, in collaboration with Venezuelan opposition leaders. As detailed in the leaked strategic plan published online by lawyer and journalist Eva Golinger, the opposition strategy was to “create situations of crisis in the streets that will facilitate U.S. intervention, as well as NATO forces, with the support of the Colombian government. Whenever possible, the violence should result in deaths or injuries” (emphasis added).

With disregard for their violent actions, #YoSalgoPor tweets portray the opposition as the victims of violence, rather than the perpetrators.

“The focus on youth has been a long running strategy, while the social media element is a more recent (and cheaper) instrument of soft power, which is … wholly deleterious to the interests of genuinely pluralistic and democratic voices.”

But it’s no coincidence that social media has become a key instrument of opposition propaganda. Rather, it’s a concerted strategy that has at least partial roots in the U.S. attempt to foment chaos and instability in Venezuela. U.S. sources such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) heavily fund Venezuelan opposition forces and provide “democracy” training for opposition student groups, which has included training in social media use. In 2013, NED provided a total of $1,752,300 in grants to Venezuela in various program areas including $63,000 for “Emerging Leadership, Communication, and Social Networks” and another almost $300,000 for “Training and Communication Skills for Political Activists,” including training in the use of ICTs, or internet communication tools.

“The focus on youth has been a long running strategy, while the social media element is a more recent (and cheaper) instrument of soft power, which is, in my opinion, wholly deleterious to the interests of genuinely pluralistic and democratic voices,” added Central European University’s Buxton. “As with all aspects of U.S. intervention in other countries, these forms of sovereignty violation – soft or hard, are most usually counter productive and as we see in other aspects of social media ‘wars’, they can lead to a more problematic blowback from even more radical oppositional forces and groups.”

In an era of extreme police brutality against political protest on a global scale, the equivocations that could be drawn based on this partial and misleading information are easy to make, particularly for those already poorly informed as a result of the mainstream media coverage of Venezuela.

Social media, particularly in a complex and poorly understood political context, can easily decontextualize events and perpetuate misinformation, often with the willing help of international media. Given historical tensions between Venezuela and the U.S. and other Western capitalist world powers, Venezuela is a particularly intriguing specimen for this kind of confirmation-bias reporting, and with the help of social media, misinformation abounds.

 

Further reading:

Pimping for Destabilizations: Shepard Fairey for Venezuela (USAID) | Banksy for Syria (Purpose Inc.) | Source

Retired General Calls on Venezuelans to Form Local Resistance Units: “Get Ready to Use your Firearms” | Source

Venezuela Coup Plotter, Leopoldo López Mendoza, Works for the CIA | Source

Psyops: Former Mandela lawyer to join defense of Venezuela’s jailed activist | Source