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Purpose Goes to Latin America [Part II]

Purpose Goes to Latin America [Part II]

August 26, 2018

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer 

 

This is part II of  Purpose Goes to Latin America. [ Part I, published August 8, 2018]

 

Foreword:

In part one of our report Purpose Goes to Latin America ( August 8, 2018) we demonstrated how global powers orchestrate destabilization, war, economic and imperial domination via the facilitation of NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex. Specifically, we looked at how this successful strategy is unveiling itself in Latin America. We explored “New Power” as a new instrument of hegemony, whereby New Power exponents when mobilized, can be successfully manipulated to serve neoliberal forces in ways never before achievable.

We disclosed the fact that Purpose (the for-profit PR arm of Avaaz) has set up in Latin America with campaigns and projects underway in Brazil and Columbia. This is not a coincidence. In the ongoing destabilization effort being waged against Venezuela, Columbia is being used as a base to launch further aggression. [August 9, 2018: Colombia Can Not Lend Itself to a Foreign Intervention against Venezuela] Consider Purpose “movements” are not decrying the more than 300 assassinations of Colombian leaders over the last two years [Source], rather they are organizing Concordia Summits to facilitate an advancing privatization in Columbia (and the world at large), as they court right wing politicians  and oligarchs.  This can best be described as “power in white face”.

“In the presence of the so-called White Helmets on the border with the brother country, the first-class treatment given by the Colombian government to conspirators and provocateurs… While we condemn and denounce these grotesque maneuvers, we alert our people, the progressive and democratic peoples and governments of Latin America, the Caribbean and the world, not to allow more interference with sovereign Venezuela… Colombia can not lend itself to a foreign intervention against Venezuela. Our continent is a zone of peace and we must not allow ourselves to be deprived of that right.” — August 9, 2018:  Colombia Can Not Lend Itself to a Foreign Intervention against Venezuela [Emphasis added]

 

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Part II

Mobiles Coupled with Social Media Equal the Capture of Momentum by New Power

Source: GSMA Intelligence

This is where the lines between NGOs, internet and militarism begin to overlap and blur. In part one of this report, we discussed New Power at length as the new tool for expanding global hegemony. By the conclusion of this report, we will have explored the machinations of our new digital world, and how neoliberal and Imperial forces are using it to further colonization and drive economic growth – all under the guise of freedom, democracy and human rights. At this time, in the year 2018, we have come full circle to the inception of this blueprint, charted in 2007.

“This paper suggests that the rapid spread of information and communications technology (ICT) in the global south offers possibilities for democratic and social change unmatched since decolonization.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

In 2007, Res Publica completed a research and advisory project for the Gates Foundation titled Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation. (From the report: E-advocacy is the strategic use of ICT by individuals or movements to press for policy change.”) The Project Leader for the project was Res Publica and Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel.

“Moreover, penetration of these technologies can revolutionize advocacy long before they reach substantial percentages of the population. The President of the Philippines was deposed in 2001 in an SMS-organized mobilization he called a “coup de text” when just 15% of Filipinos had mobile phones.Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

 

However, there are formidable barriers to the realization of this opportunity. The digital divide is felt most acutely in sub-Saharan and South/Central Africa. While mobile phone penetration is growing rapidly even in this region, the promise of the internet and other ICTs is dimmed by regressive telecommunications policies and poor infrastructure. Across the global south, censorship and intimidation have shut off the internet as a source for social change in nations most in need of reform.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

The lead researcher for the project was Mary Joyce who worked for the Gates Foundation and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard. [Source]

“The study of e-advocacy in the global south is a new field and as such this report is based on the synthesis of different fields of expertise rather than the summarizing of existing research… e-Advocacy is the future of social change.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

Katrin Verclas, Executive Director of Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network, was one of two expert advisors to the project. In 2018 Verlas, named one of the Most Influential Women in Technology by Fast Company in 2011, was indicted by the U.S. Justice Department for fraud. [March 29, 2018: German Citizen Indicted For Major Fraud In Connection With A State Department Grant, March 29, 2018]

The second expert advisor, digital political strategist Alan Rosenblatt “built the Center for American Progress’s* social media program (2007-13) and trained nearly 20,000 people across the world in digital/social media strategy, including civil society leaders across the Arab world in 2009; executives at leading advocacy groups and news media outlets; Members of Congress and their staff; as well as a couple future kings.” [Source: LinkedIn] [*Founded/directed by John Podesta. After losing his congressional seat (D-VA), Res Publica/Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello, served as President and CEO of the Center for American Progress.]

“Network-centric mobile activism is seductively simple. Massive events can be created with little or no effort or cost.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

 

“If possible, fund the fringe, but if this is perceived as too high a risk then invite them to the table by including them in conferences and convenings.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

Case study authors included Rishi Chawla (Global Internet Policy Initiative), Atieno Ndomo (Bretton Woods, Unicef, WFP, UN),  and Priscila Néri (Researcher/Res Publica: “Wrote the case study on Brazil for the report “Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South”, commissioned by the Gates Foundation and published in 2007. The report paved the way for the launch of Avaaz.org, an international network focused on promoting global activism on a wide range of issues.” Source: LinkedIn. Néri is now with Witness). Gbenga Sesan (Harvard, Paradigm Initiative, Africa), and Idris Sulaiman (Research consultant for World Bank, now with WBCSD) were also authors.

Those in charge of reviewing the paper included Rob Faris, Research Director for the Internet and Society of Harvard and OpenNet Initiative (which is mentioned further in this report), and Janet Haven of the Open Society Institute. [1]

June 2017: Number of unique mobile subscribers worldwide hits 5 billion:

Source: GSMA Intelligence

Excerpts from the Gates project report under the heading “The Cellular Savior”:

“The mobile phone is changing the way the global south communicates. Even as the number of landlines grows slowly, the growth of mobile phones is sky-rocketing, changing the connectivity potential for the planet…. What these figures indicate is that mobile phones are a great opportunity for e-advocates who want to reach a mass audience, and the applications are endless. [p. 18]

 

“… After the successful implementation of SMS [short message service/text messages] campaigns at the national level, the Gates Foundation might decide to fund an international SMS campaign*. Unlike the local SCO partners of the pilot programs, an international campaign would partner with international advocacy organizations with strong technology programs like Greenpeace, Oxfam, and the new international e-advocacy organization Avaaz.” [p. 41] [*Highlighted text in original document]

 

“The Gates Foundation has the unique ability to lead this new front of social change. The foundation’s distinctive experience in providing access to technology and challenging inequality in the global south, combined with resources that rival many nations, make it an ideal trailblazer in the global promotion of e-advocacy. We the researchers, writers, advisors, and reviewers of this report urge the Gates Foundation to take on this historic role. [p. 5]

Here we can pause for a moment to reflect. Avaaz, et al were not working toward a goal of ensuring every person on Earth would have access to clean drinking water. Rather, they were united in a global undertaking to ensure everyone on Earth would have access to a mobile phone. There is a quote attributed to Vladimir Lenin, in which variations are known to most in the Western world: “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” Perhaps in the 21st century we should update it to “The Capitalists will sell us the mobiles with which we will hang ourselves.”

There is little doubt that if society had chosen not to purchase cell phones, our corporate overlords and oligarchs would have put them in cereal boxes for free. But of course, we lined up and paid for our own enslavement, just as Aldous Huxley so aptly prophesied in 1931.

“The goal of this funding strategy is to create a structure in which access to ICTs leads to a cyclical process of innovation and dissemination in e-advocacy which leads to social change. The final result of the implementation of ever improving e-advocacy methods is social change, achieved bit by bit through thousands of e-advocacy campaigns worldwide. E-advocacy is a powerful means for social change in the global south and the Gates Foundations has the unique ability to make that potential a reality.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

The Igarapé Institute

The Igarapé Institute was formed in 2011 as a “think and do tank” in Brazil. The stated purpose of the institute is “raising attention to the challenges of violence and insecurity across Brazil and Latin America.” It works with international organizations such as the United Nations and the Inter-American Development Bank toward changes in government policy. The institute is headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with staff in São Paulo, Brasília, Bogota and Mexico City.

Canadian Robert Muggah is the co-founder of the Igarapé Institute, SecDev Group, and SecDev Foundation.

The Igarapé Institute “supports a range of alliances, including with the CivCap group, UN, World Bank, World Economic Forum, World We Want and many others in civil society.” [Source] Key partners include Crisis Action and a wealth of United Nation divisions. A “shortlist” of its key partners that operate under the auspices of “peace and security” inclusive of Crisis Action, and the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect is extensive. Funders include Open Society Foundations, SecDev Foundation, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Virgin Unite. Honorary Igarapé board members include Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil, and Cesar Gaviria, former president of Colombia, both having served as key early architects of neoliberal reform.

Notable is the fact that the International Peace Institute (IPI) is cited as both a key partner and funder. Here we will divert, if only to once again demonstrate the nefarious interlocking directorate amongst the elite institutions which serve as the halls of power for empire and the advancement of colonial global domination. IPI is the discreet and upper level arm of the United Nations specializing in “multilateral approaches to peace and security issues”, working closely with the UN Secretariat and membership which has specific regional programs in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The IPI convenes “high-level panels” that focus on international affairs and armed conflicts in the international peace and security genre.

The IPI Vienna Seminar on Peacemaking and Peacekeeping is an annual event, held in Vienna, Austria since 1970. Notable documents from the 39th seminar (June 14-16, 2009) are the foreword, and preface for the paper “The UN Security Council and the Responsibility to Protect: Policy, Process, and Practice”.

March 1, 2011:

“The International Peace Institute (IPI) and the Diplomatic Academy Vienna have put together the first comprehensive analysis of the role of the UN Security Council in the ongoing process of implementing the responsibility to protect (RtoP).”

Authors of the paper include Susan E. Rice, former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Gareth Evans, President Emeritus of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group and co-chair of the International Advisory Board of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.[Full bio].

International lawyer Rita Hauser chaired IPI for 23 years, stepping down in 2016. Hauser’s background is extensive. On December 23, 2009, former US President Barack Obama appointed Hauser to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board while in 2001 Hauser was appointed by President George W. Bush to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Hauser is Chair of the Advisory Board of the International Crisis Group. In 2007, Hauser was elected to the Board of the Global Humanitarian Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, which was chaired by Kofi Annan. She has served as a director of many organizations including the RAND Corporation and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (London), as well as a former member of the Board of Advisers of the Middle East Institute. Hauser and her husband established The Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University, and she is Co-Chair of the Dean’s Advisory Board at Harvard Law School. She received the Award of the Women’s Leadership Summit at Harvard Law School in October 2008.[Full bio].

The modus operandi employed by “humanitarian NGOs” advocating for peace, security and “democracy”, falls somewhere between George Orwell’s euphemisms laid out in the 1949 publication 1984. Today we bear witness as “war is peace” dovetails with the term doublethink (“the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”) If we add in Jeremy Heiman’s New Power methods (see part 1), what we have is a world based more on fiction than reality. Aldous Huxley’s prophetic Brave New World written in 1931, almost pales in comparison to today’s blind servitude among the conditioned masses.

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.” —George  Orwell, 1984, published 1949

The following excerpt is from the IPI website. Published August 10, 2018, following the western-led failed coup attempt against Nicaragua:

“At the vanguard of Nicaragua’s uprising are the thousands of young protesters who have and continue to risk their lives. To them belongs the laurel for having exposed the path to dictatorship that, under a democratic veil, has been advancing in Nicaragua. The young protesters behind Nicaragua’s uprising do not belong to a political party, nor do they subscribe to any of the main political ideologies.”[Source]

It is important to highlight the very end of that statement: “[N]or do they subscribe to any of the main political ideologies.” Finally, a semblance of truth. The targeted youth, the 21st century sacrificial lambs for empire, are being socially engineered by entities such as Purpose and CANVAS (discussed further in this section) to organize not only against their own best interests, but in the interests of the ruling elites and global corporatocracy to which they will be further subjugated.

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The co-founder and executive director of Igarapé Institute is Ilona Szabó de Carvalho.  Carvalho’s bio is extensive. Since 2007 she has consulted with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), the UNDP, the EU, and several international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), conducting assessments across Latin America.

Co-founder Robert Muggah (Research Director and Program Coordinator for Citizen Security) has an extensive background consulting with the mainstream economic structures that impose financial dictates on the Global South, which are done in the best interests of profitability for multinational corporations and banks. “In 2010 he also co-founded the SecDev Foundation and Group – organizations devoted to cybersecurity and the digital economy, especially in the Middle East and Eurasia, and South Asia regions. He consults with governments, the UN, World Bank and firms ranging from Google to McKinsey” and “serves as a senior adviser to the Inter-American Development Bank, UN agencies, and the World Bank.” [Source] [Bio] [Emphasis added]

“In 2017, Igarapé’s research, analysis and commentary were featured in 7,647 news stories published in 107 countries and territories, effectively doubling the number from 2016 (3,206). Igarapé researchers produced 130 op-eds, published or reproduced in 275 media outlets around the globe. More than 1,500 stories appeared in the Brazilian media and nearly 2,500 stories were published in international news outlets… It also expanded its domestic and international profile through participation in 135 events, which included conferences, panels and lectures in 18 countries.” [Source: 2017 Igarapé Institute Activities Report]

To further illustrate the intermingling of the NGO network with these powerful entitites that comprise the global capitalist infrastructure, the  Igarapé Institute has given multiple keynote lectures at high-profile venues such as the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos and Dubai, TED and TED Global, and the UN General Assembly. The Igarapé’s research was featured in flagship publications of The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, the Organization for Economic Cooperation, the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the World Bank. [Source: 2017 Igarapé Institute Activities Report]

The Igarapé Institute has an operating income of $BRL6,352,059.00 ($USD1,547,486.45). [Source] This “operating income” is a direct result of the influx of funding from Open Society Institute and USAID. Additional financial support comes from IPI and Jigsaw (Google). [Source: 2017 Igarapé Institute Activities Report]

The number of Igarapé partners is extensive and includes the Purpose project Movilizatorio, Open Society Foundations, the Brazilian Ministry of Defence, Inclusive Security, United States, and Amnesty International Brazil. [Full list]

The following observation is of critical importance. From the book Enabling Openness: The Future of the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean by  International Development Research Centre, Canada, it is observed:

“Through the research conducted by Instituto Igarapé we have analysed many examples that reflect a significant move towards this new form of policy making. Through the Open Empowerment Initiative (OEI) –a joint research project with the SecDev Foundation of Canada, aimed at understanding the effects of “cyber empowerment” on the reconfiguration of the social, political and economic spheres in Latin America– we have observed an ever bigger role played by the democratising potential of new technologies. These have allowed civil society actors to make their voices heard and to become involved in areas of public interest that were once the exclusive domain of the state, such as public security….

 

These types of websites include: change.org, gopetition.com, petition24.com and peticiones24.com, thepetitionsite.com, signon.org, elquintopoder.cl, avaaz.org, sumofus.org, causes.com, getup.org.au and twitition.com.” [Section 3, Smart data, digital inclusion and interactive democracy: Reflections on the use of ICTs to enhance citizen security in Latin America by Gustavo Macedo Diniz][Emphasis added]

Of interest and perhaps unknown to the author is that the bulk of these “social change” websites have been created by the same and select group of individuals that inhabit elite circles. Audience and spheres of influence are of paramount importance here since it is the foundation of whose interests is ultimately at stake. With this in mind, we can note that many of the websites  are exclusively  written in the English language (as opposed to Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, etc.) Yet this doesn’t appear to be a barrier to the desired changes sought by the think tanks. Ultimately, this begs the question of who the target audience truly is. However, this is changing as international NGOs now shift their focus to developing countries to spread their message among the indigenous youth residing in critical hot spots in the Global South, which mirrors the online “clitcktivism” rampant in the Western world and its indoctrinated youth.

To further explore this line of questioning, we can delve into the Operations Newsletter compiled by Mr. Jeff Harley US Army Space and Missile Defense Command Army Forces Strategic Command G39, Information Operations Division. [Vol. 12, no. 04, February 2012] The compilation includes an article describing the  December launch (2012) of the State Department’s “virtual embassy” for Tehran, essentially a standard U.S. embassy website without a physical embassy standing behind it – which could be duplicated for Syria and any other potential geopolitical targets in the future. Also highlighted is Muggah’s SecDev in Syria:

“It’s difficult to measure how much effect sites like the virtual embassy have, Anderson said, but ideally they can present a clearer vision of U.S. society, culture and policy than what’s portrayed in Iranian state media.

 

“It’s basically the hearts and minds things,” he said.

 

The Damascus embassy’s website could easily be transitioned into something like the Tehran website, Anderson said, but would be stymied by a lower level of tech savvy in Syria.

 

About 20 percent of Syrians are online compared with about 30 percent of Iranians, according to the OpenNet Initiative, a joint project by Harvard, the University of Toronto and the SecDev Group, a Canadian security and development company. Syrian Internet is significantly less developed and more regulated, though, according to ONI.

 

A more important diplomatic tool than maintaining the website, Anderson said, will be maintaining a U.S. presence in social media. Ambassador Ford’s Facebook chats, for instance, could be done just as easily from Washington as from Damascus and would reach a wider audience.” [Emphasis added]

On March 12 , 2018 a lecture titled The Rise of Citizen Security in the Americas by Robert Muggah was to be presented by the University of Calgary Latin America Research Centre (later cancelled). In the event description along with Muhggah’s extensive background, it reads:

“Latin American and Caribbean societies are among the most violent on earth. With some exceptions, the problem appears to be worsening. Why? There is not one, but several explanations that account for the steady increase in violent crime across the region. In addition to widespread impunity and jarring inequality, a major part of the problem is connected to repressive and punitive approaches to tackling criminality.” [Emphasis added]

This is a glaring representation of the obvious modern paternalistic aspects of the relationship between North America and South America. Latin American and Caribbean societies are not among the most violent on earth. Rather, they are among the most exploited. Exploited by the hands that feed the non-profit industrial complex and institutions that hide the cold hard fact that US imperialism and the capitalist economic system are both founded and dependent on violence.

Examples of Muggah’s extensive collection of hit pieces written to disparage the governments of Nicaragua and Venezuela that continue fight back against foreign interference include:

  • It’s really hard to say which city is the world’s most murderous [in Venezuela], February 27, 2016, published by Agence France-Presse
  • Venezuela is on the brink of civil war. Here’s how its neighbors could stop it, August 2, 2017, published by PRI
  • Nicaragua was one of Latin America’s least violent countries. Now it’s in a tailspin, July 19, 2018, published by LA Times
  • The only way out of Nicaragua’s violent crisis rests in Ortega’s hands, July 19, 2018, published by the Globe & Mail
  • My Turn: Robert Muggah: Ortega cracks down on his people, July 24, 2018, published by Providence Journal

 

SecDev

Joining SecDev co-founder Robert Muggah is SecDev CEO Rafal Rohozinski. Rohozinski is a founder and principal investigator of SecDev and OpenNet. He serves on the advisory Board of the Canadian Association for Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), and, the Canadian International Council (Canada’s foreign relations council). He is a senior fellow for cyber security and future conflict at the British think-tank International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). IISS was rated as the tenth-best think tank worldwide and the second best Defense and National Security think tank globally in 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index. IISS works with governments, defence ministries and global organisations including NATO and the European Union.

“New Frontier in Defense”, February 2, 2017, “Rafal Rohozinski speaks with NCAFP member Edythe Holbrook after the program”.The National Committee on American Foreign Policy, Inc. (NCAFP) was founded in 1974 … It is a nonprofit policy organization dedicated to the resolution of conflicts that threaten U.S. interests. Toward that end, the NCAFP identifies, articulates, and helps advance American foreign policy interests from a nonpartisan perspective within the framework of political realism”. [Source] [Emphasis added]

In January 25, 2018, the French philosopher and author, Dr. Lucien Cerise  observed the blurred lines between digital “phishing” and behavioural change achieved via social engineering in the paper The Social Engineering of Identitarian Conflict:

“According to the famous computer hacker Kevin Mitnick, social engineering is the art of deception; it is essentially about playing on the credulity of others to modify their behavior, which is also what “phishing” is all about. The fact that the apex is perceived with trust or indifference allows it to be seen, but not as the architect of conflict. It is a matter of “hiding in plain sight”, a “royal art” and technique used by prestidigitators, illusionists, esoteric societies, and secret services.”

This is exactly what think tanks in collaboration with NGOs, global institutions and media are now being able to achieve with increasing precision. It is doubtful that such engineering, global in scale, could be achieved outside the digital age.

Like Dixon of Purpose, Muggah created a Syrian based anti-Assad #AmennySyria through The SalamaTech project, an initiative of The SecDev Foundation:

“The 8-week campaign was launched on July 1, 2014 by SalamaTech in conjunction with several partner organisations.

The campaign has already reached more than 480,000 people on Facebook alone.

 

Digital safety matters in Syria. Syrian netizens are being captured, tortured and killed because of their online activities. This threat comes not just from the Assad regime. Armed groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are also capturing and torturing people to access their online accounts. When a Syrian human rights defender (HRD) is captured, his or her entire network including friends and family, are exposed.”

The SalamaTech partners in its #AmennySyria “movement”, include Cyber Arabs ( a project of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting), Technicians for Freedom (now seemingly defunct), The Syrian Revolution Technical Guide (now seemingly defunct), The Office for Security Counseling of the Syrian Revolution (now largely inactive), and Orient News.[Source]

Another notable creation of SecDev is the digital awareness campaign, Salmatech Project which produced the Syrian project A Tale of Two Cities targeting the Canadian youth audience: “All Canadian participants in the Tale of Two Cities project will be required to undertake public speaking engagements within their schools or community groups, to share their new understandings… We are seeking Canadian partners – teachers, educators, donors – who would like to support the Tale of Two Cities effort.” [Source]

As the American left is besieged with the most intense Facebook censorship crackdown to date, consider the opposite set of rules for SalamaTech in the August 2014 “Special Report, A ‘Kingdom of Silence No More’: Facebook & the Syrian Revoltion”:

“Facebook has redefined community in Syria, both online and off. The communities that have emerged through social media provide a glimpse of what a post-Assad Syria might look like: diverse, divided and chaotic; but also empowered and connected – connected like never before, including across the sectarian and geographic barriers being increasingly erected by the war.”[Emphasis added]

Diverse, divided and chaotic; but also empowered and connected”… like Libya? From the most prosperous nation in Africa to an absolute failed state? It’s nothing less than tragic that the NATO-led invasion of Libya did not teach the West a thing about Western-backed regime change under the guise of “humanitarian intervention”.

“From the earliest days of the revolution, Facebook and YouTube served as indispensable platforms for Syrian non-violent activists to call for change and to organize. As Dlshad Othman states: “The internet has been central to the revolution in Syria. It brought us together. It taught us about our rights. It gave us freedom.” [p. 2][Emphasis added]

Here it is not only wise to ask the question as to who Dlshad Othman really is, in this modern day of NGO warfare, doing so is imperative. In 2012, Dlshad was chosen an Internet Freedom Fellow (one of six), a program funded by the U.S. State Department. Of interest is the fact that another chosen Internet Freedom Fellow, Andres Azpurua of Venezuela, was a RightsCon (Access Now) speaker in May of 2018 (“Information Controls in Latin America: Censorship in Different Layers and Nuances“)(information on RightsCon/Access Now follows.)

In a testament to the intermingling of modern day social media for neocolonial purposes of propaganda, the Twitter accounts utilized by SecDev foundation and SecDev Group follow affiliated organizations such as Citizen Lab, Global Voices, OpenNet Initiative, Freedom House, NED, US Embassy Syria, Rising Voices (Global Voices), Brookings, Rand, Global Citizen, Chatham House, Carnegie Endowment, Crisis Group, Igarapé Institute, the White Helmets, Omidyar Network, Skoll Foundatiom and Amnesty International Tech.

NGO Rebranding Exercises

As the Syrian Army (and her people) continues to defeat the seven-year long destabilization effort carried out by the most powerful military forces on Earth, The Syria Campaign (Purpose) saw fit to launch a new initiative (May 17, 2018) with a new branding strategy: Idlib Lives: The Untold Story of Heroes. Partnering with Peace Direct, the new PR campaign, peddled by the Guardian, included a new website, a new hashtag (#IdlibLives) and a new report bearing the same title.

Peace Direct US Board members includes Michael Ryder, former head of the UK’s Foreign Office’s Security Policy department, dealing with international defence and security, and Carolyn Makinson, former Executive Director of the International Rescue Committee. Staff are comprised of those affiliated with USAID, digital strategy and marketing firms, United Nations, etc. The UK division includes Eleanor Harrison, Chief Executive of GlobalGiving UK and patrons Scilla Elworthy. Elworthy assisted in the creation of The Elders Initiative (co-founded by Richard Branson) and acted as an advisor to Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Richard Branson. In 2002 she co-founded Peace Direct alongside Carolyn Hayman OBE. Other alliances include Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, and Dame Emma Kirkby. [Source]

May 26, 2018, The Guardian: Amid Syria’s horror, a new force emerges: the women of Idlib:

“Assad’s position was boosted last week when he finally achieved control of all areas around Damascus. The almost daily aerial bombardment of Idlib by Syrian and Russian forces is expected to be stepped up.

 

The regime has repeatedly used chemical weapons in Idlib. Despite this attrition, a new report, Idlib Lives – The Untold Story of Heroes, by the independent advocacy group the Syria Campaign and the international anti-war organisation Peace Direct [6]  paints an extraordinary picture of creative resilience and innovation in the teeth of appalling adversity – and at a time when the UN says international assistance and aid has fallen to critically low levels.”

The executive summary of the Idlib Lives report features extensive writings by Raed Fares, the Syrian face for the new campaign:

Raed Fares is the Syrian face for the new Purpose campaign

On November 6, 2015, Fares made an appearance at The Atlantic Council (a Washington think tank), where he was introduced by Ambassador Frederic Hof – former special advisor for transition in Syria to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the U.S. Department of State. [Source] A week prior to the Atlantic Council appearance, Fares met with US Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee.

Fares was a 2017 speaker for the Oslo Speaker Forum as was Srdja Popovic (CANVAS, Harvard, Otpor). He is the founder of “Radio Fresh”(the Kafranbel Media Center) which received funding from international groups including the Human Rights Foundation, and the U.S. State Department. [Source] Fares is also a speaker at the Arab Conference at Harvard (the largest pan-Arab conference in North America).

“In late 2011, Fares produced one that challenged Obama’s inaction and suggested the world would be better if George W. Bush were still president. ‘Obama’s procrastination kills us; we miss Bush’s audacity,'” — January 31, 2014, Raed Fares, Huffington Post

In the Dec 4, 2014 New York Time article Radio-free Syria, the reporter describes her interview with Fares in the back seat of an automobile with incredible candor, disclosing Fares dalliances with those directly aligned with the U.S. State Department:

“The two Americans in the front seat laughed. One, a 57-year-old named Jim Hake, is the founder and chief executive of Spirit of America, a nongovernmental organization with the explicit mission to support U.S. military and diplomatic efforts… The driver, Isaac Eagan, 33, is a U.S. Army veteran who works for Hake. Earlier that week, Fares had slipped over the Turkish-Syrian border to meet Hake and Eagan and collect 500 solar-powered and hand-crank radios that Spirit of America, working with the State Department, was giving to his radio station, Radio Fresh.”

Also undergoing a major re-branding exercise is the Purpose Syria Deeply which has been transformed into Peacebuilding Deeply.

Hacking Conflict

In 2015 a #HackingConflict #Diplohack Challenge was co-organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the NetherlandsThe SecDev Foundation (Canada) and the Canadian International Council. It was promoted in the following way: “The event will emphasize the political like-mindedness of Canada and the Netherlands in international affairs, and the vast potential for creative, political cooperation to solve difficult global challenges… Specific resources relevant to the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine – such as social media data streams – will be available for teams that choose to use them…. Please note that the #HackingConflict #DiploHack challenge will be by invitation only.” [Source] [Emphasis added]

The particpating groups that comprised the “Hacking Conflict Teams” submitted proposals, that included Disrupt the Chain: End Barrel Bombs in Syria and Chorus : Joining voices to combat sexual violence in Syria.

Under the banner Flash Notes from Syria, SecDev Foundation produces publications such as  Facebook Prison: Testimonies from Syria , A “Kingdom of Silence” No more: Facebook & The Syrian Revolution and A Risky Business: The Internet, Circumvention and Iran’s Digital Generation.

Cyber Dialogue

 “The [2014] Cyber Dialogue conference, presented by the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, convened an influential mix of global leaders from government, civil society, academia and private enterprise to participate in a series of facilitated public plenary conversations and working groups around cyberspace security and governance.” [Source]

Significant attendees among the cabal of participants from the 2011 Cyber Dialogue conference were Brett Soloman, [2] former campaign director for Avaaz and Purpose Action Board of Directors and co-founder of Access Now, as well as Ron Deibert and  Rafal Rohozinski from SecDev:

“Ron Deibert (PhD, University of British Columbia) is Associate Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies and the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary research and development hothouse working at the intersection of the Internet, global security, and human rights. He is a co-founder and a principal investigator of the OpenNet Initiative and Information Warfare Monitor projects. Deibert was one of the founders and (former) VP of global policy and outreach for Psiphon Inc. and a founder of SecDev.cyber.” [Source] [Emphasis added]

 

“Rafal Rohozinski is one of Canada’s thought leaders in the field of cybersecurity. He is the founder and CEO of The SecDev Group and Psiphon Inc., and his work in information security spans two decades and 37 countries, including conflict zones in the CIS, the Middle East and Africa. In 2005-2006, Rafal served as an embedded Chief Technical Advisor to the Palestinian Authority. He is a senior scholar at the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto and previously served as director of the Advanced Network Research Group, Cambridge Security Program, University of Cambridge. He is a senior research advisor to the Citizen Lab, and together with Ronald Deibert, a founder and principal investigator of the Information Warfare Monitor and the OpenNet Initiative.” [Source] [Emphasis added]

Other 2011 participants included Rex Hughes, a cyber defence advisor to NATO, James P. Farwell,  consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense, Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy, and scores of representatives with military, state and “cyber defence” backgrounds. In addition, the far-reaching list of think tanks, NGOs and institutions included Open Society, USAID, Access Now, Freedom House, and National Defence Canada. [Full list of 2011 participants]

To illustrate the fact that this is an ongoing process of domination, we can look at a similar conference that took place in 2015. The RightsConocation conference took place in Asia (Manila) which is detailed in the following excerpt: “Hosted by Access Now, RightsCon is where the world’s business leaders, technologists, engineers, investors, activists, human rights experts, and government representatives come together to build partnerships, shape global norms, showcase new technologies, and confront the most challenging issues at the intersection of human rights and technology. More than an event, RightsCon is a global community with thousands of leading voices across stakeholder lines.” [Source]

Avaaz and the SecDev Foundation were key participants in a massive cast of those that today shape the world – and infiltrate our “hearts and minds”.

According to Avaaz’s Brett Solomon, Executive Director of Access who hosted the event:

“The conference is taking place at a time when governments, companies, technologists, and human rights activists are dealing with a range of pressing issues in the Southeast Asia region.  From Singapore to Malaysia, Myanmar to Hong Kong, Southeast Asia’s 600 million people are coming online rapidly, and its businesses and consumers are making innovative use of technologies to develop their economies and to expand activities online. This explosive growth has huge ramifications for human rights.”[Source]

The 2018 RightsCon event took place in Toronto, Canada with a speaker list so extensive, it is six pages long.

“Born out of the aftermath of the 2009 Iranian election, Access uses cutting edge technologies to help people living behind the firewall, provides thought leadership on the new frontier of digital rights and mobilizes a global citizens’ movement of 300,000 people in over 100 countries.” — Cyber Dialogue 2012 participant webpage

Open Empowerment Initiative: Latin America

The Open Empowerment Initiative (OEI) is a partnership between Muggah’s SecDev Foundation (Canada) and the Igarapé Institute (Brazil), which not coincidentally was also co-founded by Muggah. Its said mission is to “investigate how cyberspace is shaping citizen action and state-society relations in LatinAmerica. The third partner in this modern day NGO “axis of evil” is the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a Canadian Crown corporation established by an act of Parliament in 1970 to help developing countries find solutions to their problems. Most of IDRC’s funding comes from annual appropriations from Canada’s Parliament. IDRC also receives funds from other sources, such as foundations and other Canadian and international organizations. [Source]

From the SecDev website, Open Empowerment Initiative: Latin America:

“The past twenty years have seen the greatest expansion of information in the history of humanity. We now create more information in two days than we did from the dawn of civilization. Two-thirds of humanity are now connected to the internet. There are more cell phones than people on the planet. Computing power doubles every 18 months. The cost of communication continues to fall.

 

We live in revolutionary times…

 

Institutions are under stress as digital natives — those born into a 24×7 online world — flex their political muscles. Empowerment in the wired world is not constrained by borders or convention.  Street protests in Brazil and the regional narco-economy share commonalities. They are made possible by friction free communication that enables coordination without hierarchy and lowers the barriers of entry into the global marketplace.” [Source] [Emphasis added]

As we have barely scratched the surface upon the matrix of allied NGOs, cyber firms, military institutions, think tanks, institutions, states and media, working  in tandem to remake the world in the image of the West, the following excerpt from the paper The Moment of Truth – A Portrait of the Fight For Hard Net Neutrality Regulation by Save the Internet and Other Internet Activists by Strand Consult, July 2016, sheds much needed light on the barren, manufactured “movements” of the 21st century:

“Activist causes could not be achieved without a significant investment in digital tools and technologies. This includes a database of users and associated marketing and communications technologies to engage the user bases. Activists organizations and political parties have been honing these tools over the last decade with regard to net neutrality. A 2006 article describes net neutrality as “the brainchild of the likes of Google and Amazon.com, which want to offer consumers things like high-speed movie downloads, but don’t want to pay the network operators a fee to ensure what in the industry is called “quality of service”– i.e. , ensuring the consumer gets what he pays for quickly and reliably.”  The article describes the founding of a “Data Warehouse” by Hillary Clinton political adviser Harold Ickes, a fundraising list service and data mining operation. The $11.5 million investment was supported primarily by Soros, Google and Amazon. Former Democratic National Committee Director of Engineering Nick Gaw explains in a video how the data warehousing function runs on Amazon Web Services to enable Democratic party members to be elected at local and national level and to mine the information of its voters. Gaw is now the Senior Technology Advisor for Avaaz.org, an online platform to conduct online activist campaigns including European campaigns against Brexit, Donald Trump, and Monsanto’s Glyphosate. The website notes some 44 million members. Avaaz was founded by Brett Solomon [3], now Executive Director of Access, a net neutrality advocacy…

 

With well-funded, globally coordinated, digitally sophisticated campaigns, SavetheInternet and related Internet activists have succeeded to deliver hard net neutrality regulations in some 50 countries. Internet activism is an industry; “digital prostitutes” who will lend their support to corporate-inspired causes are available for hire; and net neutrality activism has received hundreds of millions of dollars of support from corporate and foundation funders intent on protecting their financial portfolios and business models. US-based net neutrality activists franchise and broker their activism models and concepts to a variety of activist entrepreneurs around the world.” [Emphasis added]

[Also see the June 20, 2016 Disruptive Views review titled Moment of Truth – the fight for hard net neutrality regulation]

OpenNet Initiative was created as a collaborative partnership of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and the SecDev Group in Ottawa. [Source]

Responsibility to Protect

From 2008 to 2015, More In Common (a Purpose project) co-founder Gemma Mortensen served as executive director of Crisis Action. The Deputy Executive Director for Crisis Action, Nicola Reindorp has contributed extensively to the Responsibility to Protect doctrine: “There, she led Oxfam’s global campaigning on conflict and humanitarian crises, working alongside allies in government and civil society to achieve the historic agreement by world leaders that they have a responsibility to protect populations from genocide and crimes against humanity, at the 2005 UN World Summit. From Oxfam, Nicola moved to set up the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.” Prior to this, Reindorp was an advisor for Avaaz. [Source]

Nicola Reindorp of Avaaz, Jonathan Hutson of Enough, 2011: “The bishop presented an Avaaz petition to the Security Council with nearly half a million signatures, calling for Security Council members to take urgent action to halt ongoing human rights violations in South Kordofan and other parts of Sudan.”  [Source]

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[Crisis Action Who We Work With – Our Network, Crisis Action Who We Work With – Core Partners, Crisis Action Who We Work With – Campaign PartnersCrisis Action Who We Work With – Funders

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Prior to founding Avaaz, all co-founders of this organization share a vital common They all share a background working in one capacity or another for the United Nations. Over the decades they have only strengthened and utilized this relationship to serve the elite classes and empire as a whole.  A prime example of this relationship is Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello, who worked as a legal adviser to the UN and related bodies in Sierra Leone, Darfur and Afghanistan and later became a US congressman helped into power by former US president Barack Obama. Another person of prominence is Avaaz co-founder Andrea Woodhouse, who formerly worked for both United Nations and the World Bank (where she continues today).

The following excerpt is from the journal article, Power of the iMob authored by Andrew Marshall, a media consultant and former journalist  who worked for Avaaz as a paid consultant in 2009.[Source: The World Today, Vol. 68, No. 3, April & May 2012 published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs]:

“Avaaz, ultimately the largest and most global of the dot-orgs, also came out of MoveOn and its alumni. Individual co-founders included Ricken Patel (Avaaz’s Canadian executive director); Tom Pravda, a former British diplomat; Tom Perriello, who had worked as a legal adviser to the UN and related bodies in Sierra Leone, Darfur and Afghanistan and later became a US congressman; Pariser, formerly of MoveOn; Andrea Woodhouse, formerly of the United Nations and the World Bank; and Australians Madden and Heimans. 38Degrees, the next in the family, was launched in May 2009 as a British parallel to GetUp! Founders included Ben Brandzel, formerly of MoveOn; Gemma Mortensen of Crisis Action; Paul Hilder, also of Avaaz; and Benedict Southworth of the World Development Movement. Most of these people had worked with government or international organisations abroad. Madden had served as an army officer, and worked for the World Bank in East Timor and the UN in Indonesia. Heimans had worked for McKinsey. Others had been with NGOs. Patel, for example, had been with International Crisis Group in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan and Afghanistan. Several had been at elite academic institutions…

 

The dot-orgs are also growing up and moving beyond an online-only presence: indeed they would say that online was never the point. In Syria, Avaaz provided cameras and satellite communication gear to help the opposition to get its story out. This isn’t coincidence. Patel’s movement may for many people symbolise technology and geekdom, but Patel is much more interested in what technology can actually achieve. The organisation has for some years experimented with the use of new technologies to help activists communicate, broadcast, witness and report atrocities and bring in intervention” [Source]

This is most revelatory since this sentiment is not expressed by an outsider, but someone who has been immersed in the Non-Profit Industrial Complex.

The background into both Avaaz and Purpose has been documented extensively. Further reading of the 2012 investigative series is required reading for legitimate activists and movements in the global south.

Higher Learning : The Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (Otpor)

Harvard’s Pied Piper: On Friday, April 13, Srdja Popovic officially became the 53rd Rector of the Scotland’s first university. (via St Andrews).

Part 4 of the 2017 investigative series on Avaaz analyses the role of Harvard University in global destabilization campaigns via the churching out of “activists”, “thought-leaders”, think tanks and doctrines at large. Of particular interest is Srdja Popovic, cofounder of Otpor, now rebranded as Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) and his position at Harvard Kennedy School as Lead Instructor for the Harvard “executive education” program, Leading Nonviolent Movements for Social Progress.  Popovic leads the course with Otpor co-founder Slobodan Djinovic.

Djinovic established one of the first internet companies in Serbia (MediaWorks) which since merged with two other providers to form Orion Telekom where Djinovic serves as the CEO. [Source] Djinovic  is a counselor of the World Bank and a co-founder of the ICT Hub (information and communications technology, closed in 2008). According to the Financial Times: “Djinovic is a good-looking former basketball player with an MA in international relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in the US, and has a self-possessed, confident air. He founded Serbia’s first wireless internet provider and could be a Silicon Valley mogul if he wanted to, but instead he gives half of what he earns to keep Canvas afloat. (The other half comes from various NGOs and the UN.)”

OTPOR! Is the organization credited with the overthrow of  Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic in 2000 and has since played a leading and pivotal role in Western backed “coloured revolutions“.

“CANVAS  has welcomed interns from Harvard University since 2013.”— CANVAS website

Harvard is not alone. Popovic and his regime change squadron now engage with some of the world’s most prestigious universities, including  the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, Rutgers (NJ), Colorado College, University of Essex, Northeastern University, Grinnell College, Georgetown University, United States Air Force Academy, Belgrade University, Rutgers University, George Washington University, Syracuse University, University of Alabama, University of Virginia, University College London, Arcadia University, George Mason University, Bayerischer Rundfunk, University of Notre Dame, Yale University, St. Michael’s College, Loyola University, Watson University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, Freie Universität Berlin, Universität Heidelberg, and University of Colorado Boulder. CANVAS courses and intern programs with many of the aforementioned universities are  ongoing.

“Akin to the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, today’s so-called environmental leaders and human rights activists are not (yet) genetically engineered, rather they are socially engineered experiments decanted from Harvard, Yale, Rockwood Leadership Institute and other institutions of indoctrination that serve and expand the global hegemony. One could theorize that today’s 21st century activism is a new process of mimesis – the millennial having assimilated into spectacle – far removed from both nature and reality.” — The Pygmalion Virus in Three Acts [2017 AVAAZ SERIES | PART II]

Amongst CANVAS’s partners are the Albert Einstein Institution, the Article 20 Network, New Tactics, Humanity in Action, Partners Global, the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), and Project Shield. Otpor/CANVAS funders/affiliates include National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Freedom House, US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Republican Institute (IRI).

On February 27th, 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files which consisted of over five million e-mails from the Texas headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor. Disclosed emails revealed that Popovic had an extremely close relationship with Stratfor. [Dec 3, 2013: Globally Renowned Activist Collaborated with Stratfor]

Twitter accounts followed by CANVAS (only 267 as of this writing, accessed August 25, 2018)  include the Avaaz NGO and Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel (8th and 9th follows), Avaaz’s Emma Ruby-Sachs and Luis Morago, Purpose, Purpose Europe co-founder Tim Dixon, 350.org, and numerous Occupy accounts.

Srdja Popovic of CANVAS

Six-figure salaries and the ties that bind: Riga, Latvia, 2014: “Before Biko, Peter [Gabriel] brought onstage some special people working for human rights: Yvette Alberdingk-Thijm of Withness, Leif Coorllim of CNN Freedom Project, Jennifer Morgan of World Resources Institute, Emma Ruby Sachs [Deputy Director] of avaaz.org, Ellie Feinglass of  Namati Mozambique, and Srdja Popovic of CANVAS Serbia.” Peter Gabriel Back to the Front Tour [Source: TONY LEVIN’S WEBSITE AND ROAD DIARY]

Following in the footsteps of Avaaz co-founders Jeremy Heimans and Ricken Patel, in 2014 Popovic was listed as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum in Davos. In 2011, Foreign Policy Magazine listed Popovic as one of the “top 100 Global Thinkers”(joining Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel in 2012) for “inspiring the Arab Spring protesters”.

CANVAS: “Where We’ve Been”

On the CANVAS website, the “educational institution” documents governments being crushed by foreign/Western interference and ongoing destabilization efforts against targeted states such as the recent failed coup attempt against Nicaragua:

“#SOSNicaragua – Is the Ortega Murillo Dynasty Crumbling ? -The protests may have started in response to a social security system reform. What follows, however, will be determined by the population, fueled by repression, discontent, and poverty. A people that hasn’t been this fearless for 30 years. And as fake metal trees are falling to the ground, a population armed with social media is on the rise.” [Source]

VIDEO: New Power: How the West is Orchestrating Social Media to Capture Latin America. In this excerpt from an exclusive interview with Max Blumenthal (the Gray Zone), President Daniel Ortega describes the impact of the social media campaigns unleashed against the Sandinista Government in an attempted coup. [July 30, 2018]

 

“… but these retirees were barely out on the street when suddenly a hashtag came out called OCUPA INSS* which is the social security Institute building and that went viral internationally and suddenly we found ourselves confronted by this sort of embryo of a force through the social networks that was really quite powerful actually. And when the situation… because then the people came, you know people, young people who had been hearing this on the, through social media came down to the Social Security Institute building and they went into the building and many of these were really the supporters of the very same parties and governments that had been in power in the 17 years when the retirees were not getting any money if they hadn’t filled their entire quotas, and that was also the first time that the leaders of the Catholic Church, it got involved in a conflict of this nature…” —  President Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua 

[The @OccupaInss twitter account contains what could be said, the key architects of the destabilization movement (396 following, 15k followers, with 52, 274 “likes”on Facebook. Accessed August 24, 2018). The account follows three international NGOs. Two being Avaaz and Amnesty International (as well as Amnesty International Press – @Amnestypress ). Also followed is the US Treasury Department, the Organization of American States (OAS) (a colonial thorn in the side of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua), the U.S. Department of State Spanish twitter account. The third international NGO followed is Bianca Jagger, President and Chief Executive of the Bianca Jagger of the Human Rights Foundation under the twitter account Bianca Jagger Nicaraguense por gracia de Dios with 69.5k followers.]

[For an accurate assessment on Nicaragua, one can read the TeleSUR article Nicaragua’s Sandinista Achievements Baffle World Bank, IMF, August 31, 2017]

CANVAS publishes weekly reports (the first published June 12, 2017) highlighting political hot zones and states targeted for regime change including Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Maldives, and Cambodia.

Srdja Popovic twitter account

Commencing in 2018, states featured in the CANVAS spotlight include Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua (which has received highlighted weekly coverage since April 20, 2018). As this article is focused on the influx of NGOs in Latin America to meet Imperial objectives, it is critical to note that Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela represent the primary targets for destabilization in Latin America at this time. [See the CANVAS analysis on  Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela.]

“On the level of a bottom-up approach, opposition leaders like María Corina Machado have advocated for popular protest and resistance as the best way to topple the Maduro government. This would require more than just street protests and would need to be an all-encompassing effort from all sectors of society.” — p. 35, CANVAS, Analysis on situation in Venezuela, August 2016

CANVAS states that regarding the Venezuela “uprising”, “the student movement was the primary group involved in the 2014 anti-government protests”. CANVAS acknowledges the protests contained “virtually no representation of the majority class in Venezuela”:

“However, although the opposition has used grassroots campaigning to gain the support of the poor in the past, they seem to be losing their sense of what the poor majority wants. This was evidenced most visibly in the 2014 protests, where the largely student-based middle class population marched, with virtually no representation of the majority class in Venezuela, the poor. This was because the opposition has chosen to advocate for changes unfamiliar and of less concern to the poor than more pressing issues like supply shortages, unemployment and rampant violent crime. However, the structure of the opposition and methodology is well developed, and would be instrumental in disrupting the regime, especially if they were to realign their goals with the poor in mind.” — p. 34, CANVAS, Analysis on situation in Venezuela, August 2016 [Emphasis added]

CANVAS is incorrect in its conclusions that the absence of the majority “was because the opposition has chosen to advocate for changes unfamiliar and of less concern to the poor than more pressing issues like supply shortages, unemployment and rampant violent crime.” The truth is that the Venezuelan majority, under attack for decades by the West, has developed a deep understanding of colonialism, imperialism and Western interventionism. A knowledge lost on most all Western society. The “pressing issues like supply shortages, unemployment and rampant violent crime” are recognized across Venezuelan society as the direct and deliberate destabilization efforts orchestrated by foreign interests.

Simultaneously, the Venezuelan youth targeted by CANVAS are those belonging to the middle/upper classes, who, indoctrinated by the false illusion of the American Dream, have a deep desire to be assimilated into the Western culture. The truth is that the majority of Venezuelans support the Maduro government, demonstrating remarkable, strength, courage and endurance to the relentless destabilization efforts orchestrated by the west, that continue to this day.

Video: Licking the Imperial Boot: The Ongoing Destabilization of Venezuela with Srdja Popovic:

 

Regarding Bolivia, CANVAS appears even more desperate.  The CANVAS analysis on Bolivia utilizes reports from Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, US Department of State and Amnesty international (all instruments of empire), to present its misleading arguments. As an example, the report states “…racism is rife in the country according to Freedom House, especially against indigenous groups” and yet in reality, almost the entire population in Bolivia is indigenous, including President Evo Morales himself.

Incredibly CANVAS tries to diminish this fact and frame it as a psyop against the Bolivian people, by lauding Andrés de Santa Cruz as the first true Indigenous president of Bolivia:

“The protest movement then also paved the way for Evo Morales’ Presidency. After losing his first Presidential race against De Lozado in 2001, Morales was elected President of Bolivia in late 2005, “on a wave of a popular and indigenous rebellion against neoliberal privatizations and for popular (Bolivian and indigenous) sovereignty”. He thus became what the country believed to be its first head of state of indigenous origin. This idea is, however, part of the very well managed propaganda created by the government around Morales’ image. He was not the first indigenous president of Bolivia; that title belongs to former president Andrés de Santa Cruz Calahumana. The political propaganda created to legitimize Morales’ image has taken advantage of Bolivia’s poor education system to repeat this lie enough times that it has become an accepted fact by the general public, and the few historians that have dared to challenge this idea have been silenced by state media.” — CANVAS, Bolivia, Country Anylsis, p 3

Santa Cruz, the president of Bolivia from 1829 – 1839, was born into a family of the colonial nobility. His Spaniard father, José Santa Cruz y Villavicencio, married Juana Basilia Calahumana, a heiress of a rich mestiza family said to be a descendant of the Incas. At the time of birth, Andres de Santa Cruz was classified in his baptismal certificate as Spanish, a term used in the colonies to refer to the white race. This is not to say that Santa Cruz did not play an integral part for Bolivia’s independence. It is only to say that the fact CANVAS highlights this historical background, which is a historical inaccuracy at best and a lie at worst, is a simple imperialist tactic to marginalize Morales’ achievements (not to mention the deliberate negating of ethnicity and class divisions).

Morales “image” as CANVAS calls it, is simply a reflection of the man with most humble origins. Born to an Aymara family of subsistence farmers, Morales was raised in the small rural village of Isallawi in Orinoca Canton. One of seven children, only he and two siblings, survived past childhood. [Source: The Extraordinary Rise of the First Indigenous President of Bolivia]

On January 10, 2018, CANVAS published the article Crumbling Democracy and Protest Movements in Evo Morales’ Bolivia:

“In the last week of 2017, CANVAS wrote about the rising tension in Honduras, after the November 2017 elections turned into a true stand-off. A little further south, in Bolivia, citizens also face an increasingly authoritarian government. As President Evo Morales tries to sideline the country’s constitution to assure himself of another term in office, Bolivian citizens are rising up to restore democracy in their Andean country, using nonviolence as one of their main weapons…

 

Finally, the nature of the protest-movement opposing the Morales-administration has also fundamentally changed. In the past, movements have backed particular individuals and their battle to facilitate Morales’ fall from the throne. But the Bolivian population has turned its eyes to younger generations looking for new leaders, with new developments mainly concentrated in the city of Santa Cruz. Currently, citizen platforms are organizing themselves in a singular, horizontal group of socially coordinated movements, which seek to “empower not any one individual but the message of struggle for democracy itself,” according to Vaca Daza.

 

In line with this new strategic direction, over 15 platforms and independent activists united themselves with a manifesto on December 29th. A broad coalition of student unions, female civic resistance groups, health workers, environmental groups and democracy activists pledged to build on the active and interventionist tactics of nonviolent resistance to “resist the tyranny” and called on fellow citizens to join them in making their voice heard. CANVAS will be following the developments in Bolivia closely!”[Emphasis added]

Note that CANVAS inadvertently points to the new hub of “activism” as being “mainly concentrated in the city of Santa Cruz.” CANVAS omits the fact that 1) Santa Cruz, has long been known as home to the powerful economic elite, right-wing political organizations, and 2) the racism Otpor utilizes for its own unjust cause, stems from the “light-skinned” Santa Cruz populace: “Racism is not admissible in the world in the 21st century, but it must be known that it is being promoted in Bolivia by sectors of the population which are economically powerful. These groups, today settled in the region of Santa Cruz, many of them offspring of immigrants from Europe, Asia and the Middle East have appropriated the indigenous identity of Santa Cruz, known as “camba” and this is being used to show racial supremacy over the “colla” and “chapaco” (indigenous people of the West and South of Bolivia)… This discourse, which is being used to paint both the President and the process of political change as a force for ill, has created an atmosphere which is intended to breed conditions for social and racial violence towards Bolivia’s indigenous and working classes.” [Source]

This type of tactic is what we have previously witnessed in various regions when it comes to Western NGOs and media forces. They exploit existing societal fractures in order to provoke violent conflict for various political and economic gains. Where fractures don’t exist, they are created. If ever there is evidence of what it looks like – to seize and utilize existing hate, racism and divisions within the confines of a state – for geopolitical gain, a key methodology that CANVAS is exploiting to its fullest, one needs to look no further than the 2014 coup in Ukraine: “Ukraine on Fire by Igor Lopatonok (Executive producer Oliver Stone) provides a historical perspective for the deep divisions in the region which led to the 2004 Orange Revolution, 2014 uprisings, and the violent overthrow of democratically elected Yanukovych. Covered by Western media as a people’s revolution, it was in fact a coup d’état scripted and staged by nationalist groups and the U.S. State Department. Investigative journalist Robert Parry reveals how U.S.-funded political NGOs and media companies have emerged since the 80s replacing the CIA in promoting America’s geopolitical agenda abroad.”

 

In 2014 CANVAS was listed as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates: “Reasons for the inclusion of Serbian non-profit CANVAS is widely understood around the region. Last December, the Kuwaiti National Security Agency released a social media video explaining the role of CANVAS in promoting dissent in the state. Furthermore, security agencies in the region are closely monitoring members and affiliates of the group, however no official stance has been taken until now.” [Source]

Yet, as old as Otpor may be, rebranded and repackaged under the sophisticated pretext of academia, CANVAS  is just getting started. CANVAS has launched BUILD A MOVEMENT (BAM):

“(BAM) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to researching and spreading knowledge on the methods of nonviolent, grassroots activism to promote democracy, human rights and social change.

 

On the ground with activists, on university campuses, with policy-makers or in the media, Build A Movement aims to strengthen the capacity of people-power movements and civil society around the world, not only to challenge authoritarianism and injustice, but to ensure durable transitions to democracy…

Over the past decade, BAM staff and trainers have worked in dozens of countries, including Venezuela, Syria, Ukraine, Cambodia, Burma, Zimbabwe, and Egypt, and trained thousands of activists fighting for democracy, transparency, accountability, human rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, environmental protection, racial justice and social justice. BAM instructors have also taught courses at U.S. universities such as the Harvard Kennedy School and New York University.

 

Beyond training, BAM supports front line activists by developing educational material on movement building and technological tools to evade surveillance, censorship and harassment.” [Source]

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When a Western society collectively celebrates an African leader beloved by his people (including Nelson Mandela)being sodomized and murdered, only to then mourn the death of a war criminal, the society is not only grounded in ignorance, it is collectively, ethically and morally bankrupt. All the so-called “higher education” in the world will not make this fact any less so. Our so called “environmental NGOs” purport to “fight for the climate” and “save the bees” all while playing key roles in the annihilation of whole countries, complete with all the biology and life they formerly encompassed. Simultaneously “human rights NGOs”, sitting at the table with the world’s most imperial institutions, create the acquiescence needed to bomb countries to smithereens, inclusive of the women and children that live in them, while Yemenis, Palestinians, Congolese and Haitians are ignored with not a trace of outcry to be found. The fact that Purpose and The Rules co-founder Tim Dixon, enjoys reading Ronald Reagan biographies in his spare time, yet is upheld as a radical leader of social movements, reveals more about the left and it’s “movements” than can ever be articulated in this report. Welcome to the 21st century non-profit industrial spectacle.

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And finally, we come full circle, back to the technology that will further serve Western interventionism: enter the Whistler cell phone app.

The CANVAS WHISTLER Mobile Application

“BAM is now expanding in the digital realm, providing digital security training and developing Whistler, a mobile application designed to enhance the digital and physical safety of activists.” — Tech Nonprofit Directory

In partnership with PartnersGlobal (“Together For Democratic Change”), Jigsaw (Syria Defection Tracker), Wickr Foundation, Build a Movement (CANVAS) and National Democratic Institute, CANVAS has launched the “Whistler” app for “activism”.

Jigsaw is the relatively new name of Google Ideas (rebranded in 2016) which came under scrutiny for its links with the US State Department and its regime change activities. It is a tech incubator created by Google, and currently operated as a subsidiary of Alphabet which was created in 2015 to serve as the parent company of Google.

Jared Cohen is the founder and CEO of Jigsaw (as well as the former founder and director of Google Ideas). Cohen is firmly established in the crème de la crème of the upper echelon having served on the Policy Planning Committee at the US State Department for both the Obama and Bush administrations (“state department innovator”), as well as an advisor to both Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. He is also recognized as an Adjunct Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. [Source] Cohen is also the co-founder of Movements.org. (the Alliance for Youth Movements rebranded in 2011) – an NGO “created to help online organization of groups and individuals to move democracy in stubborn nations”. Movements.org is funded through  public-private partnerships with the US State Department as the organization’s public sponsor.” [Source]

“This is the beauty of the new media. There is no way to control it.”— Srdja Popovic

Popovic states there is no way to control the “new media” (another take on New Power). What this really means, is that the non-submissive governments targeted for destabilization have no way of controlling what Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega described this past month in the failed coup attempt as an “embryo of a force”. CANVAS et al instigate the momentum, then capture it, effectively orchestrating the uprisings out of both mind and sight. The momentum of the people, manipulated by the elite forces, become the agents of their own cataclysmic decent into the neoliberal noose of imperial servitude.

In 2013 Google Ideas hosted the “Conflict in a Connected World Roundtable Series”, in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center of Preventative Action. One can see from the summary report that the main focus of the series is the role of social media in destabilization campaigns:

“Regardless of any changes to future sanctions regimes, the importance of social media in the conflict is already enormous. In particular, the Syrian civil war has been understood by foreigners almost exclusively through the lens of social media. With limited ability for journalists to enter the country, the world has watched the evolution of the conflict on sites like Facebook and YouTube, where literally hundreds of thousands of amateur videos have been uploaded since the war began.” [Source]

People’s Intelligence

Whistler is not alone in its quest to dominate technologies’ relatively new foray into “activism”.

“USAID, Humanity United and OpenIDEO have partnered to pursue ways to prevent mass atrocities – that is, deliberate mass violence against civilians.” — The challenge, OpenIDEO website

OpenIDEO informs that “[t]oday, 1.5 billion people are living in countries affected by violent conflict. And since 1945, 67% of mass atrocities have occurred within the context of armed conflict, which makes these areas difficult to access.” What it omits is the fact that almost all large scale violence to humans on this Earth is caused by imperialism, colonialism and the capitalist industrial economy. Foreign interference ensures all three are kept alive and thriving.

Answering this challenge, apparently inspired by Avaaz, is People’s Intelligence.

“People’s Intelligence is an “Alert” winner of Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention sponsored by Humanity United and USAID.”

In September 2013, with the authorization of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the non-profit foundation Stichting People’s Intelligence was established to develop and implement the People’s Intelligence mobile application. The application “automates the collection of relevant human rights and humanitarian information from hard to access areas using crowdsourcing and “dumb” mobile phones.”

The application is in its demo stage and can be found here.

“We welcome your hard earned currencies as well as your time and skills. In the first phases of the project you can help us design and develop PI version 1.0 to be deployed in countries where human rights need defending and humanitarian crises unfold.” — PI website

The founder of People’s Intelligence is Christophe Billen who began his career as an intern for the UN in Haiti during the crisis which removed Aristide from power in 2004. Billen has a lengthy background in security having worked as a Political Affairs officer for the United Nations in many field offices in areas of conflict (i.e foreign interference) for the United Nations MONUC (Ituri, Mahagi, Kwandroma and then Aru). He was  also “appointed to head the Lord’s Resistance Army coordination cell which monitored LRA’s activities and coordinated the responses of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Sudan and the D.R. Congo.” Billet worked as a consultant for Open Society Foundations where his work informed the design for the “People’s Intelligence” concept. [Source: LinkedIn] He now works as analyst for the International Criminal Court where he oversaw a unit “which monitored and analysed occurrences of crimes across several countries including Afghanistan, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Georgia, LRA affected areas, D.R. Congo and Libya.”

 “The main beneficiaries will be the victims and witnesses who will have their voices heard and receive actionable information in return for quality information as well as partnering organizations who will become better informed and equipped to decide where to allocate resources and coordinate their efforts.”PI website [Emphasis added]

People’s Intelligence has partnered with Amnesty International, the Liberia Peacekeeping Office, Universiteit Leiden, Participatory Systems and Free Press Unlimited. It is funded by HIF, elrha and USAID. [Source] The advisory board includes United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Open Society Justice Initiative, Amnesty International and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. [Full list]

Amnesty International has signed a letter of intent that “once PI reaches operational maturity and conforms to Amnesty’s needs and requirements to make use of it in pursuit of their mandate.” [Source]

+++

As the Earth’s final remaining resources continue to be depleted at an accelerated rate, as Imperial powers fight to exercise global domination, those living in geopolitical hot zones, can expect the West and it’s bourgeoisie army of  “young leaders” to orchestrate the installation of “democracy” forcefully and strategically driven in to the very fabric of their sovereign nations. In-between Ted Talks, high level meetings at the UN, university lectures, and Starbuck lattes, the Harvard hit squad will carry out their marching orders dressed in Armani suits.

The options for outmaneuvering the tried and true methods of subjugation are limited. You can 1) run for your life  2) target those who bank on your naïveté and have sold you down the river with no systemic change 3) do nothing and be crushed by imperial forces and 4) organize like your life depended on it. Number one is not a good option since there is nowhere to run. Number two is affirmative action without freedom and self-determination. Number three means certain oppression. Number four is the only salvation.

It is not for those of us in the West to decide what options or measures are taken, this must only be afforded to those who will bear the consequences of each and every action – that is the citizens that comprise the homeland of the targeted state. What we are speaking of is self-determination. A simple moral code that colonial agents of empire are unable to grasp, and unwilling to accept.

+++

As we reach the conclusion of this report, it is vital to make clear that this analysis is not in any way suggesting “that nonviolent resistance should not have a central role in any revolutionary struggles for social change, only that the twisted imperial-friendly narrative of nonviolence promoted by such individuals should be treated with extreme caution by all activists who wish to avoid being oppressed by US backed dictatorships or their latest equally toxic  manifestation, US managed ‘democracies.” [CANVAS[ing] For The Nonviolent Propaganda Offensive: Propaganda In The Service Of Imperial Projects, March 26, 2011]

+++

Che Guevara, First Latin American Youth Congress, July 28, 1960:

“There are government leaders here in Latin America who still advise us to lick the hand that wants to hit us, and spit on the one that wants to help us. [Applause] We answer these government leaders who, in the middle of the twentieth century, recommend bowing our heads. We say, first of all, that Cuba does not bow down before anyone…

“We, who belong to the Cuban Revolution-who are the entire people of Cuba-call our friends friends, and our enemies enemies. We don’t allow halfway terms: someone’s either a friend or an enemy. [Applause] We, the people of Cuba, don’t tell any nation on earth what they should do with the International Monetary Fund,for example. But we will not tolerate them coming to tell us what to do. We know what has to be done. If they want to do what we’d do good; if not, that’s up to them. But we will not tolerate anyone telling us what to do. Because we were here on our own up to the last moment, awaiting the direct aggression of the mightiest power in the capitalist world, and we did not ask help from anyone. We were prepared, together with our people, to resist up to the final consequences of our rebel spirit.”

 

Endnotes:

[1] Other reviewers included Helen King ( Shuttleworth Foundation), Paul Maassen (Hivos), Sascha Meinrath (IndyMedia, founder of Open Technology Institute), and Russell Southwood (CEO of Balancing Act Africa).

[2] Brett Solomon is the cofounder and Executive Director of Access—a non-profit human rights organization focused on digital freedom (formerly Access Now). Access’ mission is to ensure open global internet access and an uncensored and secure digital sphere by working to create a world where citizens can be active participants in their future by freely seeking, receiving and imparting information digitally. Prior to Access, he was the Campaign Director at Avaaz.org, and before that, the first Executive Director of GetUp!. He holds a Bachelors of Law at the University of Sydney and a Masters in International Law at the University of NSW. He founded the International Youth Parliament and has worked for both Oxfam Australia and Amnesty International Australia.” [Source]

[3] According to our research Brett Solomon was the campaign director for Avaaz from 2008 -2009.

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of GreenThe Art of Annihilation, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

WATCH: Vanessa Beeley Exposes the White Helmets

Corbett Report

February 7, 2018

 

“For the past two years, Vanessa Beeley has been doing on-the-ground reporting in Syria exposing the lies of the NATO powers and their terrorist proxies. Her work on the White Helmets in particular has drawn the ire of the warmongers and their media mouthpieces. Today we talk to Beeley about the true nature of the White Helmets and the well-funded PR campaign that seeks to defend them.” [Corbett Report]

 

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

Chicago Alba Solidarity

January 4, 2018

by Stansfield Smith

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Social Programs to Eliminate Poverty

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

Here are some of the measures to combat poverty:

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

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

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

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

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

Gains for Rights of Original Peoples

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

Gains in Education and Health Care

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

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

Land Distribution and Food Self-Sufficiency

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

US Interference and Regime Change Attempts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USAID and NED Funding of Oppositional Forces

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

The Issue of  “Extractivism” in Bolivia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Environmental Achievements

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

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

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

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

Bolivia as a center of anti-imperialist social movements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Challenges Facing The Process of Change

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and El informe de 2007 de la USAID

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Avaaz Goes to Myanmar

Avaaz Goes to Myanmar

September 8, 2017

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

“Good fucking luck with the World Bank ‘supporting’ your transition to democracy. Soon, the ADB (Asian Development Bank) will come and do the same – if it hasn’t already. Everyone falls for the utterly stupid. Mad world.” – Philippine citizen/activist Kristine Alvarez in response to the announcement “World Bank OKs first Myanmar aid in 25 years”, November 2, 2011

Andrea Woodhouse poses for a portrait on the new bridge on Sule Pagoda road, downtown Yangon. (C) Chiara Luxardo

 

In the book NGOs – The Self-Appointed Altruists (written in 2002 and updated in 2011) the author observes:

“NGO’s in places like Sudan, Somalia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Albania, and Zimbabwe have become the preferred venue for Western aid – both humanitarian and financial – development financing, and emergency relief. According to the Red Cross, more money goes through NGO’s than through the World Bank. Their iron grip on food, medicine, and funds rendered them an alternative government – sometimes as venal and graft-stricken as the one they replace.”

 

“The elites like this model, but it’s fragility is evident. Cancun itself can only take so many more category 5 hurricanes before it will be retired like Mazatlan or Atlantic City. When this happens, new frontiers of commodified leisure, whether in Colombia, Sri Lanka or Myanmar, will be developed, but even so the economic and political costs of the 2 degree Celsius average temperature rise that the world leaders have deemed acceptable are staggering.” — Normalizing Catastrophe: Cancun as Laboratory of the Future, Dec 18. 2010

In the March 3, 2017 article Yangon, Myanmar: World Bank Specialist Goes Back to Beginnings the Financial Times published a full feature on Avaaz co-founder Andrea Woodhouse. The article covers the following events.

In 2008 Avaaz co-founders Andrea Woodhouse and her husband David Madden went to Myanmar. According to Woodhouse, she carried out post-disaster work for nine months following Cyclone Nargis for “a body comprising the government, the UN, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations”. During this time, Woodhouse states there were “no credit cards, no ATMs and a SIM card for a mobile phone cost roughly $1,500.00.”

Former United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Aung San Suu Kyi and her staff at her home in Rangoon on November 19, 2012. Source: (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Neoliberalism would soon follow. In 2012, Woodhouse would relocate to central Yangon “to settle as a social development specialist for the World Bank, which was re-engaging with Myanmar after an absence of more than 20 years” with her spouse and Avaaz co-founder David Madden. Not so coincidentally, Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, US and EU sanctions began to lift and “market liberalisation” was under way. Between 2011 and 2015 the cost of renting a typical apartment more than doubled with landlords catering to the wave of foreign money by demanding a full years rent up front.

In the Montessori school where Woodhouse’s child attends (“one of maybe two expats in a class of about 15 to 20 children”) the school teaches in English rather than Burmese. Living in one of the poorest countries in Asia, wealthy expats (inclusive of Woodhouse and Madden) and Myanmar elites travel abroad for medical treatment and child birth. Woodhouse acknowledges her children are  “extremely privileged”.

August 18, 2017, The FINANCIAL — “The Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the World Bank today signed a US$200 million credit for a First Macroeconomic Stability and Fiscal Resilience Development Policy Operation…. The terms for the IDA credit include a repayment period of 38 years…” [Source]

“In 2012 if we went to a restaurant popular with expats, we would probably recognise everyone there. Now we wouldn’t know a single person.”— Andrea Woodhouse

The vast majority of expats rent. Typical two-bedroom, serviced apartments in the capital cost about $5,100 per month. Parliament passed a new condominium law, which gives foreigners rights to purchase flats, in January 2016.

Avaaz Co-founder David Madden in Myanmar

  

Avaaz and Purpose co-founders Jeremy Heimans (l) and David Madden: “Jeremy Heimans and David Madden founders of Get Up! Action for Australia, at Old Parliament house in Canberra on Friday, 29th July, 2005.” THE AGE NEWS Picture by PENNY

“After years of isolation, Myanmar is opening up. Opportunities abound. However international companies have little experience here and local firms have little experience working with them. Parami Road meets this need.” — Parami Road Website

As first noted in the 2014 article, SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire, David Madden, co-founder of both Avaaz and New York consulting firm Purpose, has also co-founded the marketing firm Parami Road in Myanmar (“Our clients are mostly international companies entering Myanmar and they demand an international standard of work”) as well as the tech firm Phandeeyar – a 6000 square foot ICT hub in the heart of downtown Yangon. Launched with the support of several sponsors in 2014, including Internews and Phandeeyar (previously operated as Code for Change Myanmar), it is important to note that the key partners of Phandeeyar are USAID, the US State Department, U.S. Mission to ASEAN, and the  US-ASEAN Business Council. [Source]

“A serial entrepreneur who co-founded the global campaigning website Avaaz.org and U.S.-based digital strategy agency Purpose, among others, the Harvard-educated Madden believes technology is essential for Myanmar’s development.” — July 8, 2015, Myanmar Now

Simply stated, Madden plays a vital role in bringing western ideologies and foreign investment to the doorstep of Myanmar. As a co-founder of Avaaz, an NGO that specializes in behavioural change, Madden’s hashtag for his tech firm (“human Capital Development”) sums up the goal: social impact (#socialimpact MM). Of course, Madden cannot achieve this alone, thus he is joined by thousands of NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex:

“Estimates vary widely on the number of local NGOs in Myanmar. An article claimed more than 10,000 such groups, while another study conducted in 2003 by Save the Children—the first detailed look at civil society in Myanmar—estimated there were 270 local NGOs at that time. Regardless of the number, there is a vibrant and growing nongovernment sector encompassing a range of interests and approaches throughout the country. International NGOs are increasingly active in Myanmar, working in humanitarian response and longer-term development in a multitude of sectors, including the environment, health, education, livelihoods, rule of law, advocacy, and civil society capacity building. International NGOs, present in small numbers since the 1990s, have entered Myanmar in two recent waves: in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, and since the forming of the new government in early 2011.” — Civil Society Briefs Myanmar

A key function of Madden’s tech firm is not unlike that of MoveOn.org (a co-founding NGO of Avaaz) and its relationship with the US Democratic party, which is to focus on building Myanmar’s voter registration. It’s other key function is to pitch business opportunities to investors. In September of 2016, the tech firm launched the “Phandeeyar accelerator”.  According to Forbes (October 31, 2016), the “accelerator” provides $25,000 in seed funding, mentoring and free office space in Phandeeyar’s 6,000-square-foot building. Participants also receive “$200,000 worth of strategic services, including access to Amazon Web Services, free English classes and a range of other benefits. They’ll also have the opportunity to pitch investors who Madden describes as ‘serious about the Myanmar market.'” Madden foresees startups that establish themselves “could be poised for explosive growth in the next several years as the economy continues to accelerate.”

“Madden said that some had been hesitant, waiting to see how State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s rise to power would play out. But confidence is growing following the peaceful political transition, and the U.S.’ decision to ease sanctions in recent years has inspired much interest in the country. McKinsey Global Institute estimates that Myanmar’s economy has the potential to reach $200 billion in 2030, more than tripling from $45 billion in 2010. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, run by the U.S. government, issued the first installment of $250 million loan to the telecommunication company Apollo Towers Myanmar in June. Microsoft is working with the Myanmar Computer Company to help 100,000 people develop IT skills within the country. And the country saw a strong performance from its first listed stock earlier this year, indicating potential for future growth. Investment opportunities abound, with deep needs across the energy, tourism and infrastructure markets, according to the British Chamber of Commerce.” —This Tech Accelerator Is Betting That Myanmar’s Startup Scene Is Set To Explode, Forbes, October 31, 2016 [Emphasis added]

In 2017, the Phandeeyar Accelerator’s Demo Day hosted over 200 local and international investors. The list included 70 venture capital investors (VCs) and mentors including Red Dot Ventures, Digital Ventures, and Omidyar Network. Note that although the official language of Myranmar is Burmese, spoken by 70-80% of the population, all Burmese speaking in the Phandeeyar demo day video are speaking English. Far be it for Anglo “leaders” to make any concerted effort to speak Burmese, let alone learn the language. This of course is colonization in one of its most accepted and blatant forms. This point is further validated by the fact that Edulink Australia (specializing in English proficiency) is a strategic partner of Phandeeyar.

Madden is not the only expat poised for explosive growth in Myanmar. With the global capitalist economic system hovering close to stall speed, the world’s most powerful corporations are desperately searching for new markets. Myanmar is the “new sweet spot” for the most egregious corporate entities:

“Still, the country’s young, inexpensive workforce and low living standards offer huge potential for growth. GE, on its website, describes Myanmar as a “new sweet spot” for growth in Southeast Asia. Some other major U.S. brands got a head start, including Coca-Cola, which has a factory producing for the local market. Ball Corp. has a factory in Yangon’s Thilawa Special Economic Zone making cans for Coca-Cola. MasterCard is expanding in the area of ATM cards. GE is active in energy and other sectors and leases Boeing 737-800s to the country’s national airlines. ConocoPhillips and Chevron have stakes in oil and gas exploration and development. Some U.S. businesses, like Caterpillar, have distribution tie-ups in Myanmar with local or other foreign companies.” [October, 2016, Source]

 

Above: Phandeeyar headquarters

On June 3, 2016 it was announced that Phandeeyar secured a $2 million follow-on investment from Omidyar Network. [Source: Deal Street Asia] Omidyar Network first invested in Phandeeyar in 2014 with other investors and aid givers including the Schmidt Family Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, USAID and Google. Deal Street Asia also reports that “[A]part from Phandeeyar, Omidyar Network has invested in Proximity Designs, Open Myanmar Initiative (OMI), Myitmakha news agency, Yangon Journalism School, Global Witness and Namati in the country.”

Financiers of Madden’s entrepreneurial tech operations and innovations also include Internews, Facebook, the United States Embassy, Hewitt Packard, Samsung, the US State Department, Pact, Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID), The Asia Foundation, KBZ Bank and Red Dot Ventures. Strategic partners include (but are not limited to) telenor, wave money (telenor, Yoma Bank), Fb Start, AWS Activate (Amazon), JobNet, Microsoft BizSpark, Today Ogilvy Myanmar (“we make brands matter”), Edulink Australia (specializing in English proficiency) and PwC.

The Innovation Marketplace is a joint initiative by Phandeeyar and FHI 360, and supported by USAID in which a primary focus is “mobilization of popular support for social change.”

And while the rich get richer:

“Land laws were changed in 2012 and 2013 to make it easier for the government to facilitate land grabs and many segments of the rural population have seen their homes demolished and their paddy fields ruined to make way for foreign development projects. Farmers like Umya Hlaing have been left without land with, “no conversation, no replacement land, no adequate compensation.” [January 30, 2017, Source]

The Ultimate Balancing Act

Here one must note that while Myanmar opens its arms to neoliberal foreign policy, it simultaneously transitions into a playground for the rich – all while the tensions and killings between the Muslim Rohingya, the Buddhist Rakhine, the Burmese authorities, Burmese government and its military escalate. As the so-called human rights NGOs (which are actually in servitude to empire) turn up the volume on this crisis, we must acknowledge there is much more going on behind the scenes that we, in the west, are not cognizant of. For example, terrorist factions such as Islamic State and Al Qaeda have embedded themselves into various Rohingya organizations such as the Rohingya Liberation Organization and the Rohingya Solidarity Organization. The well-documented atrocities and killings of Buddhist Rakhine by the Rohingya go unreported by mainstream media. This has undoubtedly been orchestrated, at least in part, by foreign interests. Exploiting existing divisions is key to controlled chaos and destabilization. Where divisions do not already exist – they are created.


Above: Avaaz campaign

Above: Avaaz training Buddhist Monks:A young student and monk take part in a non-violence training program – they cannot show their faces for fear of being identified by the military.” Source: Avaaz website

The said contention surrounding the Rohingya is the issue of legal citizenship (sovereignty and nationality) verses refugee/migrant status. This ongoing crisis is then conflated with the religious components. The fact that this is a basic human rights issue is then lost. Further, “Harsha Walia, a social justice activist and journalist, tells us that borders are constructs and that they serve an imperialistic purpose. Borders represent practices used to legally coerce displaced migrants into precarious labor and criminalized existence. In her work, Undoing Border Imperialism, Walia offers a framework termed ‘border imperialism,’ which is a system that controls the flow of people, themselves fleeing the military or economic violence of empire, who are racialized and economically exploited by their illegalization.” [Source: Borders: Imaginary Lines, Real Exploitation]

What is notable here is that fact that although Avaaz has produced a campaign to bring attention to this tragedy, never do they ask for the world to demand the implementation of a no-fly zone as they have done in countries that reject imperial dominance. It appears as though, if Myanmar does not continue to kowtow sufficiently to foreign interests, an intervention with a no-fly-zone on could easily be the next campaign demand for NGOs to rally behind. However, this is most unlikely as the full transition of Myanmar to western ideologies is already well underway with foreign investment now pouring in. Regardless of the geopolitics involving China and Asia as a whole, the fact is the World Bank has already sunk it’s teeth in. There is simply too much to risk with a full raze of the landscape. Indeed, the Myanmar crisis will prove to be a problematical balancing act of sabotaging Chinese interests while simultaneously attracting foreign investment from western corporations. If necessary, a coup is far more likely to be orchestrated by foreign interests. The crisis being highlighted by international NGOs should be seen as more of a threat – pressure upon Aung San Suu Kyi to ensure complete subservience more than anything else. The key factor is this: interventions by imperial states are never based on protecting human rights.

Also, to be taken into account, is the power struggle between the declining United States and new superpower China. First, consider the massive investment into Myanmar by China:

 “But the total $248 million U.S. companies have committed since 1988 amounts to less than 1 percent of total foreign investment of about $60 billion. China has invested more than $25 billion, according to Chinese figures.” [October 2016, Source]

Secondly, consider the crucial energy aspect:

 “After the massive Rakhine energy reserves were discovered in 2004 they attracted China’s attention. By 2013 China completed oil and natural gas pipelines, which connect Myanmar’s port of Kyaukphyu with the Chinese city of Kunming in Yunnan province.” [Source]

Dmitry Mosyakov, director of the Centre for Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, sums it up as follows:

“First, this is a game against China, as China has very large investments in Arakan [Rakhine] Second, it is aimed at fueling Muslim extremism in Southeast Asia…. Third, it’s the attempt to sow discord within ASEAN [between Myanmar and Muslim-dominated Indonesia and Malaysia]. — [Source]

Myanmar-to-China Crude Oil & Gas Pipelines

The Myanmar-China crude oil and gas pipelines were designed to carry more than 22 million tons of oil and more than 420 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year was to commence operations in 2013. On April 11, 2017, the Financial Times announced that China and Myanmar would open long-delayed oil pipeline after being suspended for years, fraught with delays and conflict. “Once fully operational, the pipeline from Made island in Rakhine state can supply almost 6 per cent of China’s crude oil imports. The gas line is already in use.” On May 20, 2017 India of Times reported that “China-Myanmar oil pipeline opens enhancing tie: The oil reached Ruili, a border city of in China’s Yunnan Province at 4 p.m. on Friday according to the state owned China National Petroleum Corporation, which built the pipeline.”

Map: Oil & Gas Journal, 2012

Near-term pipeline plans grow, longer-term projects sag – Oil & Gas Journal, February 6, 2012:

“Myanmar awarded China National Petroleum Corp. exclusive rights to construct and operate the proposed Myanmar-to-China crude oil pipeline. This line and a companion natural gas pipeline would transport hydrocarbons from the Bay of Bengal across Myanmar to southwestern China (Fig. 4). Plans call for the 440,000-b/d crude pipeline to run between Maday Island in western Myanmar through Ruili in China’s southwestern Yunnan province and on to a new 200,000-b/d refinery in Anning. Both the pipeline and refinery are to begin operation by 2013. CNPC began building a large oil import port at Kyaukpyu, Myanmar, in October 2009 to serve as the pipeline’s input point. The port will be able to receive vessels up to 300,000 dwt and will have storage capacity of 600,000 cu m.”

The natural gas pipeline is scheduled to begin carrying 12 billion cu m/year to southwestern China in 2013. Route preparation began in mid-2010, with the first pipes welded in August 2011. The pipeline will parallel the route of the crude pipeline to Ruili. From there it will run to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, before extending to Guizhou and Guangxi in South China.

The crude line will transport oil carried by tanker from the Middle East, while the gas line will carry material from Myanmar’s offshore A-1 and A-3 blocks. Total estimated project costs are $1.5 billion for the oil pipeline and $1.04 billion for the gas pipeline.

The new pipelines will give China better access to Myanmar’s resources and will speed deliveries and improve China’s energy security by bypassing the congested Malacca Strait, which currently ships most of China’s imported crude oil.”

Here it is important to note that 90% of the crude oil going through the Myanmar-to-China pipeline is designated for China – while the bulk of the ecological devastation and social impacts/displacement, has been placed on the Myanmar ecosystems and most vulnerable populations.

The Strategic Expansion of Globalization & Capitalism

In this Friday, Oct. 7, 2016 photo, a sign of KFC’s grinning Colonel Sanders and his goatee is lit outside its outlet in Yangon, Myanmar. The end of most U.S. sanctions against Myanmar is raising hopes western businesses will join the rush to invest in Myanmar that up to now has been dominated by China and other Asian countries. But much hinges on how the government, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, reshapes the country’s outdated laws and other policies. (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)

 

Here it is critical to acknowledge that empire’s strategic plans for expansion are designed years and even decades in advance. Consider that the co-founder of Avaaz Ricken Patel has been involved in Burmese activism since 2001 – 6 years prior to the founding of Avaaz – and also prior to co-founding Res Publica (a founding NGO of Avaaz) with Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello:

“…I have worked for years in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, and Afghanistan for international organizations, and I first got involved in Burma activism in 2001, so I had some experience to bring to understand the dynamics and the groups involved.

 

From the start, we recognized that granting money well, monitoring its expenditure, and following up is a demanding activity that requires professional support. Avaaz is a campaigning organization and not in this business. So we chose a foundation partner with long experience supporting the Burmese people to advise and administer our community’s donation. That group is the Open Society Institute, one of the largest and most respected foundations in the world. OSI is taking no overhead on the funds we are granting to Burmese groups, and has also increased its own support to this cause in 2008.” [Source]

It is also vital to recall George Soros (a key financial backer of Avaaz at its inception) has long had his eye on Myanmar.  The 2003 Council of Foreign Relation’s report titled “Burma: Time For Change,” (“Report of an Independent Task Force Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations”) summarized the intentions: “[T]hese recommendations are intended to inform U.S. government actions as well as to increase U.S. cooperation with other countries, especially in Asia, to bring about a long overdue political, economic, and social transformation of Burma.” The independent task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations included 21 task force members (inclusive of George Soros) who were representative/associates of the following organizations, corporations and institutions:  Human Rights Watch, Goldwyn International Strategies (an international consulting firm focusing on the geopolitics of energy), the Unocal Corporation (oil and gas), liaisons for Vanity Fair, New York Times, New Republic, U.S News, World Report, The Economist,  the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations Network, Soros Fund Management, the World Bank, Amnesty International, National Security Council, the Millennium Development Goals, Psychiatry and Public Health, Refugee NGOs, and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

The seven organizations/institutions represented by eight task force observers were The Century Foundation, The Asia Foundation, U.S. Department of State, Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. House of Representatives, International Crisis Group and the United Nations Department of Political Affairs.

As a side note, the report also demonstrates the extent to which the international NGOs work hand in glove with imperial states, funneling funds through NGOs rather than governments. This demonstrates the blatant paternalism unabashedly embedded in the policy of Western governments:

“According to the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, current U.K. policy is to deliver “targeted, transparent, and accountable assistance to ordinary Burmese people through the UN, international NGOs, and not through the Burmese authorities,” — The Council of Foreign Relation’s (CFR) 2003 document entitled “Burma: Time For Change,” [Source]

And while those in Ivory Towers, who have succeeded in decimating the natural environment in their own countries, transform Myanmar into a country that will reflect not only Western values but also the vapid western waste and consumption… and while rich expats rent apartments for USD $3,000 – $8,000 per month… consider the residents of 555:

“Like many others, he moved to Yangon to look for work in the sprawling shantytowns that have grown up on the outskirts of the city. The suburbs are centers of industries that have begun to boom since Myanmar opened to the world in 2011. Factories cordoned off behind iron gates produce everything from salt to garments. But with a new government in power since April, the 555 residents are among hundreds of thousands of informal settlers facing an uncertain future as displacement looms on the horizon again.

 

Nay Shwe moved to Hlaing Tharyar in 1996 as a construction worker employed to build the upmarket Pun Hlaing Golf Course — a gleaming image of wealth right next door to the slums. He rifled through a plastic wallet to pull out a crumpled, yellowed letter granting permission for himself and several other laborers to live near the grounds. At the time, there was little more than vacant scrubland. “We have endured hardships since that time until now,” he says. “We had to pump much sand from the river to live here.” Subsequent years brought tussles over the land. In 2012, he spent six months in prison for organizing protests against a planned forced eviction that was eventually suspended…

 

“When we describe the slums we always describe the negative things,” says Slingsby. “We never look at the positive things. These people are great survivors. … Somehow they manage to survive. Somehow a lot of them send their children to school and even to university. Who built the houses? The people built houses themselves.”

 

When their kids were turned away from the official schools, the 555 residents simply built their own. They recruited their own volunteer teachers. On a recent morning, a group of village elders, all men, stood outside and admired their handiwork. Like most of the structures in the area, the single-story school is propped up on wooden stilts to protect it from the rising water.

 

“So flooding is a problem here, but we can build a concrete road, so flooding for two or three hours is OK for us,” says Hla Htay. 555 might not exist, officially, and it might not be good land, but it is home.

 

“We prefer living here because it is the nearest place to our work, to the factories, so here we can build everything by ourselves,” he says. “We can build our houses. If we need to move somewhere provided by the government it will be expensive. … It will be a lot of rules.” [July 18, 2016, Evicting the Residents of 555]

The word Avaaz apparently translates to “voice”. Unfortunately, Avaaz is a voice for the elite power structures that keep the world at large enslaved. Avaaz is a slap in the face to the self-determination of citizens in sovereign countries everywhere. It must be recognized that those who continue to support this organization, with full knowledge of its elite formation, share these paternalistic Western values.

 

 

Further reading:

  • China Kunming to Myanmar Kyaukpyu DWP pipelines to open in June 2013, January 23, 2013
  • Myanmar, la Cina assetata di petrolio costruisce un porto e un gasdotto: in fuga migliaia di pescatori locali e 23 villaggi fantasma, February 5, 2015
  • Geopolitics of Rohingya Crisis, September 3, 2017
  • The Rohingya Crisis: Conflict Scenarios And Reconciliation Proposals, September 7, 2017

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

Propaganda: How Neocolonial Progressives Support Western Imperialism

Libya 360 | Tortilla con Sal

January 7, 2017

20 July 1979: Nicaraguan leftist Sandinista rebels exult in Managua after entering the city and overthrowing Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. General Somoza whose family ruled Nicaragua since 1933, finally surrendered 20 June to the Sandinista rebels. Somoza left a country devastated by civil war, with thousands of people killed in June and July 1979 and half a million, one-fifth of the country’s population, displaced from their homes. Somoza was assassinated in exile in Asuncion, Paraguay in 1980 by a left-wing Argentinian Trotskyst rebel group. Picture: AFP/Getty

 

Across the region, the legitimate struggles of indigenous peoples are being coopted by Western NGOs and media to serve the psychological warfare offensive of the US government and its allies against progressive governments in Latin America.

 

Almost all Western reporting of foreign news constitutes a permanent drip-feed of poisonous disinformation accumulating into a deep, broad, toxic propaganda wave drowning out rational critical analysis. That process has been very clear in reporting of international affairs from Libya to Ukraine, to Venezuela and Syria – anywhere the interests of Western elites encounter resistance. The collaboration of alternative media in that process has been evident in Libya, Syria and Ukraine and is certainly very evident in the case of Nicaragua.

Here, the constant underlying false message is that President Ortega is a dictatorial leader crushing dissent in Nicaragua to impose an anti-democratic regime run by his family. This false message creates a context justifying arbitrary measures by the US authorities and their allies, like the recent NICA legislation, attacking Nicaragua’s economy and intervening heavily in the country’s internal affairs in favor of Nicaragua’s right wing opposition. To flesh out that keynote psychological warfare message, Western media attacks focus on whatever current events they can manipulate to align with the overall falsehood.

All through 2016, the attacks consisted mainly of distorted or downright false reports covering the 2016 national elections. But two other associated media offensive fronts have been established, namely, developments relating to the proposed Interoceanic Canal and also continuing land conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast. A good example of the complete collapse of conventional reporting standards in Western progressive media is this headline news summary from Democracy Now of a recent protest demonstration against Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal:

“In Nicaragua, activists say federal police attacked a campesino caravan heading to the capital Managua Wednesday, opening fire with both live and rubber bullets and throwing tear gas. The caravan was heading to the capital to protest the construction of a $50 billion canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Campesinos say the project could displace up to 120,000 people.”

Democracy Now’s editors ran this classic psychological warfare propaganda beneath a photograph supposedly of a rural worker wounded in an allegedly peaceful protest. Democracy Now omits that six police officers were reported to be wounded after being attacked by violent protesters. The summary report also omits that the “activists” are militant anti-Sandinistas of the misnamed MRS Sandinista Renewal Movement, funded by the US and allied governments and associated NGOs. Likewise, the suggestion that 120,000 people may be displaced by the proposed Canal is completely false, the real figure is under 10,000 people, all of whom are entitled to complete indemnification.

A flurry of reports in corporate and alternative media alleged that the government of Daniel Ortega tried to repress national protests against the Canal timed to coincide with a visit to Nicaragua’s capital Managua by Luis Almagro, right wing Secretary General of the Organization of American States. In fact, it seems that only the incident in Rio San Juan involved violent exchanges between protesters and the police. The national demonstration itself passed off peacefully, with a modest total of several thousand people demonstrating in Managua’s center against the proposed Canal.

The incident in Nicaragua’s south-western Rio San Juan department provoked angry condemnation from the local bishop Socrates René Sándigo, certainly no friend of the Sandinista government. Bishop Sándigo remarked, “The MRS has always been out there manipulating our rural families and non governmental organizations who involve our rural workers in demands that may well be legitimate but they take these rural workers and put them at the head of their attacks...” Given that context, Democracy Now’s headline summary can be seen as all of a piece with its similarly false reporting, for example, of the conflict in Syria, favoring anti-Russian US government propaganda.

Much less prestigious than Democracy Now, the Intercontinental Cry web site purports to represent the views and interests of indigenous peoples around the world. But in the case of Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast its reports are written in the worst neocolonial tradition by North American academics and writers with a very clear anti-Sandinista agenda . One of these writers is the PhD anthropologist Courtney Parker whose widely published inaccurate report in July 2016 carefully omitted relevant information inconvenient to her account. International Cry later supplemented Parker’s July report with a disingenous, misleading attack on us at Tortilla con Sal, evading our criticism that they recycle propaganda of the local Yatama political party, effectively covering up Yatama’s own role in the violent events Parker and others fail to report fairly and honestly.

To make their phony case against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, Intercontinental Cry’s reports consistently omit two essential facts. Firstly, Nicaragua’s Sandinista government under Daniel Ortega is the first administration since the revolutionary Sandinista government of the 1980s to guarantee indigenous people’s land rights. As a result, indigenous peoples in Nicaragua now have statutory land rights to a third of Nicaragua’s national territory. So it is completely counterfactual and deceitful of Intercontinental Cry to publish reports implicitly claiming that the Sandinista government deliberately seeks to deprive indigenous peoples of their land. Intercontinental Cry’s reports are based on allegations of Yatama political party supporters whose leadership themselves have faced serious allegations of complicity in the illegal sale of their own peoples’ land.

The second fact obscured by Intercontinental Cry’s reports is that Yatama is not the only representative of the region’s Miskito and other indigenous peoples. In 2013, a large group of the region’s Miskito population rejected the Yatama leadership and now support the Myatamaran political movement allied with the Sandinista government. That omission indicates just how skewed and neocolonial Intercontinental Cry’s reporting on Nicaragua really is by creating an inaccurate, image of a united Miskito people, hapless victims of relentless alien oppression. The history of the Miskito people itself shows up that kind of account as a ridiculous neocolonial construct. Reports in Intercontinental Cry seem to deliberately omit the fact that extremist Miskito groups have attacked and murdered rural workers’ families in the area in conflict.

Historically, some components of the Miskito people allied with British colonial forces and were themselves cruel oppressors preying on weaker ethnic groups to sell them as slaves to British plantation owners in Jamaica and other British Caribbean colonies. Furthermore, Miskito groups in Jinotega along the Rio Wangki, have a somewhat different history to that of Miskito groups along Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast. So even in historical terms it is false to suggest that the Miskito indigenous people share a uniformly homogenous history and cultural identity. None of that is reflected in the neocolonial accounts rendered by the writers for Intercontinental Cry.

To the contrary, despite the complicated political reality in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, Courtney Parker’s July report and Brett Spencer’s November 11th report both falsely suggest that Yatama is the only organization representative of Miskitos in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast and the only opposition movement to the Frente Sandinista Front for National Liberation. In fact, the right wing Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC) has always had significant support in the interior of the northern Caribbean region area and won a seat in the legislative elections along with Yatama’s caudillo Brooklyn Rivera. The third seat was won by the FSLN.

Both Courtney Parker and Brett Spencer write essentially as propaganda shills for Yatama, portraying Yatama’s violent supporters as victims. Spencer manages that difficult task even in his report on how Yatama destroyed and looted the offices of the regional authority in Bilwi and violently intimidated local people and businesses. Spencer in particular implicitly tries to justify those attacks by alleging that Yatama caudillo Brooklyn Rivera “was ousted from office in September of 2015, following a rise in violence over an endemic land conflict between the Miskito and Sandinista settlers known to the Miskito as colonos.”

Spencer neglects to mention that Rivera was stripped of his status as a legislator following very serious allegations that he and his Yatama colleagues were illegally selling Miskito land. Spencer turns that reality on its head by alleging that the rural farming families trying to settle Miskito land sold to them illegally are “Sandinista”. Intercontinental Cry have no factual basis at all for publishing that kind of malicious smear which is pure Yatama propaganda diverting attention away from the questionable dealings of their leadership. For her part Courtney Parker published another pro-Yatama propaganda piece exploiting the terrible murder of three members of a family on their isolated farmstead. Parker suggests on the basis of hearsay that the murder was committed by marauding settlers, arbitrarily excluding the possibility of inter-ethnic violence by Yatama extremists or some other sinister interests.

Despite Intercontinental Cry’s very clearly biased coverage of the complex conflict in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, their team of writers has still managed to co-opt other alternative media so as to broaden the reach of their attacks on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Influential progressive Western alternative outlets like Truth Out and the Ecologist published Parker’s flawed reports which break just about every rule of academic rigor and basic reporting. Intercontinental Cry’s editors have finally explicitly acknowledged their anti-Sandinista agenda, overtly attacking Telesur, and openly avowing their sympathy with US and allied government funded Nicaraguan anti-Sandinista NGOs and media like Confidencial and CENIDH.

Given that clear ideological alignment it was perfectly natural for the neocolonial progressives at the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) to publish yet another propaganda attack on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government this time authored by International Cry writer Brett Spencer and US anthropologist Laura Hobson Herlihy. Their NACLA article repeats every main talking point of the US sponsored centre right Nicaraguan opposition as follows:

 

NACLA, Brett Spencer and Laura Hobson Herlihy offer precisely zero evidence for their claims of electoral fraud apart from the claims of Yatama leader Brooklyn Rivera. The apparently authoritiative link by the foreign funded CENIDH human rights outfit leads to a fact-free opinion piece by veteran anti-Sandinista Carlos Tunnerman Bernheim. NACLA’s article alleges inconsistencies in results published in Nicaragua’s official La Gaceta and the Electoral Council’s web site apparently in ignorance of the Electoral Council’s reporting procedures which consists of presenting first preliminary results, then provisional results and, only when all challenges have been processed, the final results.

Here are the final results from the Electoral Council’s web site which enables visitors to scrutinize results right down to those of the local voting centres. The Yatama party for which Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer propagandize is a regional party which only participates in Nicaragua’s departmental elections for the National Assembly. The results completely contradict Yatama’s claims of electoral fraud. In the three municipalities where indigenous people predominate, Yatama prevailed easily against a strong minority vote in favor of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation.

But only in Prinzapolka did Yatama get a really overwhelming vote of over 60%. In the region’s interior so-called mining municipalities, Siuna, Rosita and Bonanza, Yatama was wiped out. The main opposition there came from Nicaragua’s national right wing parties led by Maximino Rodriguez’s Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC) which maintained its traditional support, including winning overall in the municipality of Mulukuku. Here are the departmental legislative election results for Nicaragua’s North Caribbean region in which Yatama participated:

Bilwi Waspan Prinzapolka Rosita Siuna Bonanza Mulukuku Average

Yatama

51 57 63 6 0.6 4 1.4 30.26

FSLN

42 38 27 72 68 85 43 55.33

PLC

2.9 2 1 17 29 7 51 9.81

 

In the other elections where the Yatama party was not involved, the Yatama vote went mainly to the traditional right wing parties, especially the PLC, which may or may not indicate Yatama’s broader ideological position:

Presidential elections: FSLN 73%; PLC 19%; Other right wing parties 8%.

National legislative elections: FSLN 65.86%; PLC 15.3%; Other right wing parties 18.89%.

Central American Parliament elections: FSLN 74.3%; PLC 18.86%; Other right wing parties 6.84%.

Yatama claim to have an important presence in the Nicaragua’s Southern Caribbean region but in the municipalities Yatama contested there, they were wiped out by support for the right wing PLC as the departmental legislative election results for the region where Yatama participated clearly indicate:

La Cruz
Grande
Laguna de Perlas Bocana de Paiwas El Tortuguero Bluefields Kukra Hill Average

PLC

65 25.06 62.93 81.77 16.56 20.81 45.35

FSLN

30 52.85 32.61 16.75 59.9 73.54 44.27

YATAMA

0.65 18.89 0.2 0.19 15.46 3.05 6.4

 

That was the reality of the elections beyond NACLA’s vague, hazy propaganda message and the predictable complaints of Nicaragua’s inept, dishonest political opposition parties, duly parroted by Western media.

A look at NACLA’s other anti-Sandinista allegations reveals how disingenuous is the case they are trying to make. The allegation that the National Assembly abolished term limits in 2014 is categorically false. The link in the NACLA article leads to an ill-informed, factually incorrect report from the pro-US government Qatari news outlet Al-Jazeera which writes “The latest reform would allow President Daniel Ortega to follow in the footsteps of his ideological ally, late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and a string of other Latin American nations to give presidents power extending beyond their traditional limits.”

In fact, the term limits for almost all Nicaragua’s institutions, the Presidency, the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Electoral Council and the Auditor General’s office all remain unchanged at five years. Rather than checking their facts, NACLA and Al Jazeera have lazily recycled the false accusations of Nicaragua’s miniscule centre right social democrat movements who have proved incapable of developing a credible political opposition to Nicaragua’s Sandinista government under Daniel Ortega. By linking to this inaccurate Al Jazeera report, NACLA, Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer show up the categorical falsity of their argument.

Equally false is their accusation that no foreign observers took part in Nicaragua’s electoral process. In fact, a group of extremely prestigious foreign electoral specialists accompanied the whole process starting in May 2016. Their reportthoroughly vindicated the professionalism and impartiality of Nicaragua’s electoral authorities throughout the electoral process as well as the efficiency and transparency of the elections on November 6th. The neocolonial demand by Western progressives for foreign electoral observers is one not raised in the case of the United States or other Latin American governments like  Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay whose example Nicaragua has now followed by excluding a role for interventionist electoral observation missions.

Similarly, the accusation that Daniel Ortega effectively ran unopposed is belied by the NACLA report itself and the election results too. Nationally the total opposition vote would have been well over 30% if the right wing parties had overcome their petty internecine divisions, thus enabling a much more effective opposition in the legislature. As has been the case for years now, the weakness of political opposition to the FSLN government in Nicaragua resides in the right wing’s own divisions and their inability to mount a credible political program capable of matching the success of President Ortega’s Sandinista government’s National Development Plan.

Turning to the falsehood that President Ortega’s family occupy high governmental positions, the reality is again completely different from NACLA’s mendacious assertion. Four children from Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo’s family work in posts associated one way or another with the government. None of them occupy ministerial positions. Rafael Ortega works as a personal assistant to Daniel Ortega. Daniel Edmundo Ortega heads the Sandinista media outlet El 19 Digital. Camila Ortega is a personal assistant to her mother Rosario Murillo. Laureano Ortega is an executive of Nicaragua’s investment promotion authority ProNicaragua. None of them has an executive position at the head of any central government Ministry. NACLA’s accusation is completely false.

Laura Herlihy-Hobson and Brett Spencer follow up the falsity of their broad accusations against President Ortega’s Sandinista government by repeating the claims made by Courtney Parker and Spencer in Intercontinental Cry’s series of articles through 2016. They even allege that “settlers have invaded and now illegally occupy half of the Muskitia rainforest region”. The link there is to a New York Times article that offers nothing to support the claim in Herlihy Hobson’s and Spencer’s NACLA article.

To the contrary, the New York Times article shows the Nicaraguan government is trying to combat the violent land conflicts in the northern Caribbean Coast but with limited success. Nor does NACLA offer any other support for their article’s false allegation. More clearly than in the Intercontinental Cry series of psy-warfare articles, Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer cursorily acknowledge the controversial role of Yatama leader Brooklyn Rivera. But they play down the political opportunism that has marked Rivera’s career ever since his days as a collaborator with the US government funded Contra terrorist campaign in the 1980s.

An interesting point from the NACLA article which will certainly figure in similar future psy-warfare attacks is the effort to link the land conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast with opposition to the proposed Interoceanic Canal, even though the Canal lies many hundreds of kilometres to the south of Yatama’s strongholds. The NACLA article and its writers studiously avoid noting that the Nicaraguan authorities have already reached agreement with indigenous people’s organizations in the areas likely to be affected by the route of the Canal. But the efforts to connect Yatama to the Canal protests tie in with Democracy Now’s dishonest coverage of the most recent Canal protest, representing a coordinated alternative media agenda similar to that of Western corporate media. That agenda is very clearly one of neocolonial divide and rule, fomenting violence in any countries with a progressive government, not just Nicaragua but in the other Bolivarian Alliance countries like Bolivia, Ecuador and, most notoriously perhaps, Venezuela.

NACLA’s and Intercontinental Cry’s blatant propaganda in defense of Yatama’s repeated aggressive violence promotes Yatama’s sectarian political agenda in a self-serving, sensationalist way evidently calculated to maximize the potential for conflict. This is very much in line with the experience of the Ecuadoran government, faced with vicious attacks from the CONAIE indigenous people’s organization or the experience of the Bolivian government faced with murderous attacks by indigenous mining cooperative organizations.

Across the region, the legitimate struggles of indigenous peoples are being coopted by Western NGOs and media to serve the psychological warfare offensive of the US government and its allies against progressive governments in Latin America. That is why it is entirely correct to characterize as neocolonial the psychological warfare role of supposedly progressive alternative media that recycle propaganda material like that of Intercontinental Cry.

“White Helmets” in Venezuela

May 3, 2017

Editorial Comment by Internationalist 360:

As the dirty war against the Venezuelan people unfolds at a swift and ruthless pace, the best accounts and analysis are not available in English. The report below is an example of critical information that we need today.  I am confident that readers can both understand what is said and make allowances for the fact this is run through a translator.

A.V.


A new star has been born on the scrawny firmament

Investigative Report by Misión Verdad
Approximate Translation from Original Spanish by Google

They say to be there, in the line of contact, risking the skin, fighting against so many adverse factors in a moment of adrenaline and high tension. You see them attending to the victims, you see when they say that they act disinterestedly, mystically, a question of vocation, of trade, and by custom the “noblest of all”: to guard life, health. Something universal.

They say that they were born in adversity, they impact, they move their people. They exalt feelings (without frontiers), stand on the side of the weak, assist them. But they would also come to the fort if they needed it, they say. They are untiring. They are gaining the applause of all. They receive centimetraje in the means. The awards and recognitions await in the near future.

They become untouchable, sacred, angelic.


Thus, without fault in the story, a squad of rescuers, doctors, medical students, but above all uuu-niversitarios: the “white / green cross helmets” emerge without fault, inserting themselves within the Venezuelan and international informative landscape, Of the current political context.

And the strong advertising campaign that promotes them will be anything but innocent. It contains all the symbolic elements, places all the necessary signs and stimulating data that draw a “noblisima” cause.

But the adage says: if it is a story, it sells. We think of images, emotions and stimuli in the first place; Then the brain shapes it in its rational scheme. And not the other way around. That is the tactic with which a product is placed in the market.

Apart from precipitating a priori judgments about the composition of the rescue group, which has become one of the central protagonists in the insurrectional actions of the coup plot, and assuming in advance that the same operative principle is reproduced in which many people Are incorporated and stimulated by what they conceive as nobility or goodwill, just as many people are lumpy in mobilizations whose main operators act with a different and different political intention.

And, in the context of the new information landscape that has developed in the actions of the last month, other signs and data seem to guide everything in another direction.

Of the political as “spot” advertising

“We have no political color, the medicine has no color and we are there to care for whoever is injured, because that is what the Hippocratic oath tells us, we are to care for whoever needs us,” said Daniella Liendo, for all Practical effects spokesman of the group, in an interview with Panampost , signed by Sabrina Martín.

“There are more than 50 volunteer medical students who risk their lives to save those who are constantly demanding democracy in their country,” he says in another point in the same interview. Of his words that even at this point could be admitted approximate to neutral. “We have been growing a lot, people have given us incredible support and now when the demonstrations started we wanted to take up that initiative.”

And at this point the contrast between an alleged objectivity and defined political positions begins:

“The first aid brigade UCV was born at the time of the protests for ‘La Salida’ in 2014, and revived on Tuesday April 4, when the opposition called the first mobilization after knowing the sentences of the Supreme Court of Justice Which officially annulled the competencies of the National Assembly, already caught up in fact, “Liendo says this time for a work with a clear profile of publicity for El Encouragement, in this case signed by Maria Emilia Jorge M.

Organized from another similar political operation, “The Exit” of 2014, can already be circumscribing the sphere of political and ideological identity. A context. “It is not the same to take care of an injured person in an emergency of a hospital that to attend to him in these manifestations in which we are basically in a war”, maintains Liendo in Panampost, with such turn of nut.

The works reviewed for this research coincide in the same “interpretative” traits: youth, freshness, presumed spontaneity, disinterested virtuosity, and unselfish courage. This (deliberately) generalized impression also contributes the projection that they have been having in social networks.

Bring in reputed figures for their experience in putting together dirty information operations, such as Braulio Jatar , the well-known astróloga and web star Venezuelan-Mayamera Mía Astral, or the new 2.0 organizations of the trendiest, such as the Facebook account Trending Tropic . In what is accused, too, an accusatory, elaborate work. More professional than usual.

donaldo_b

 

 In the image above, consecrated visually by Donaldo Barros, one of the influencers “of weight.” The image below speaks for itself.

 “Before they were 100 chamos who always stayed at the moment of repression, now they are the same 100 chamos, plus the student movement, the leaders of the opposition and the civil society. The departure of a political party of power, now the motives are different: we need people to stop starving, to get medicines to the country, people ask for social change, Liendo analyzes, “according to the note from El Encímulo.

Another disinformation, mystifying element, if you will, is in the number of activists who are assumed part of the grouping. The Stimulus (April 11) talks about 21 volunteers. Panampost, whose work is also on the same date (April 11), already speaks of “more than 50”. Effect Cocuyo puts them in “more than 80” on April 17 .

Reuters, replicated by La Patilla , already speaks of 120 for April 26, the same as the portal France 24 (in English). Both reports offer more than a coincidence: in addition to the voluntary figure, the respective reports come out the same day, with a very similar description of situation, between chaos and “objective” glorification.

Between the chaos and the violence, “the Green Cross arrived”, narrates the report of France24, signed by Esteban Rojas. “When a group of them walks through a protest, protesters stop their cries of ‘No more dictatorship!’ And they begin to cheer them up with cheers and cheers from ‘heroes!’ “Describes Alexandra Ulmer’s work for Reuters.

“The affection and warmth shown by Venezuelans is what gives us strength to continue,” sentence, prefabricated and swallowed Rojas, in France24. Common places, television glorification, political candor, alleged superior intentions that reinforce the “objective” character of the “Venezuelan crisis” and of “peaceful protests.” Epic consolidation attempt.

Not inconspicuous, but rather delicate inconsistencies, which could be assumed as traces of tender premature labor (or bad confessional praxis): “They began to save lives even before they had a license to practice medicine in a care center, and without But they have been formed to do it well “( The Stimulus ). Detailing, in addition, the incorporation of volunteers of the school of odontology of the University Santa Maria (?).

“In the western state of Táchira, bordering Colombia, doctors wear civilian clothing and use pseudonyms to avoid being arrested or attacked by government officials,” notes Reuters’ work, adding a more delicate element in many ways.

They are, as will be seen below, an expression “of the vanguard” of the “humanitarian channel” that Luis Almagro has obsessively advocated from the OAS and the National Assembly in contempt.

The group’s Instagram account was activated on April 7th .

In recent days (this note was published on May 2), in the account of the same network was added the option to receive financing via Amazon and other financing platforms 2.0 style crowd funding . For this, they had to add in their offer to be identified as a company the identification as Medical Company / Medical Company, according to the filter through which their account is visited.

War is also a matter of marketing.

And if one of the rules of marketing is to impact, it is not a good idea that in the first failed attempts at advertising (the image was removed from your account), it might be more effective to place the gas mask on the older lady instead of the sacrificial Rescuer And do not do it on the stairs of the San Ignacio Shopping Center.

Political ties will always reveal the agenda (and stakeholders)

All the works consulted also show the same closure and the general “humanitarian” conclusion: “To return to have inventory, First Aid UCV made this Tuesday a collection of supplies and medicines in the church Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Las Mercedes, Caracas; But also have points of collection in Miami, Houston, Washington DC and New York, the United States, Panama City, Panama, Madrid and Barcelona, Spain, Bogotá, Colombia, and Lima, Peru “(El Encímulo).

Small de facto channels, micro “humanitarian channels” via “direct diplomacy” and “solidarity action”. But everything remains surface. Behind the veil, the details speak more clearly.

Daniella Liendo is a member of the student center of the Medical School of the Central University of Venezuela (UCV). It is also part of the NGO ” Doctors for Health “, a very active lobby in the accumulation (under what criteria?) Of figures, data and elements around the construction of the matrix of humanitarian crisis, lack of medicines (Product of “model failure”). The political connection always ends up revealing the usual suspects.

Behind all these formations is Deputy José Manuel Olivares (Vargas, Primero Justicia), president of the Health Sub-Commission and principal promoter of the ” Special Law to address the humanitarian crisis in health “, reverted by the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), for its regressive character and its obvious opening of floodgates towards “humanitarian intervention”.

 Law from which species such as Article 16 can be extracted: “The National Executive must receive all the International Humanitarian Aid that they offer to the Venezuelan State, even if it comes from an organization or State to which it has not been requested.”

Or for example 17: “The rejection of International Humanitarian Aid, requires in any case the previous authorization by the National Assembly, for which the National Executive must communicate to the legislative body the reasons why it intends to reject International Assistance Humanitarian.

The National Assembly shall decide, by a simple majority of its members, within two days after receiving the communication sent by the National Executive. The ruling of the National Assembly on the acceptance or rejection of the International Humanitarian Aid will be binding for the National Executive. “

Transfer of powers of last word that corresponds to other powers of the State, “soft” suppression of sovereignty, opening of a “humanitarian front” that would hardly deal with the transfer of medicines or medical equipment, but as a point of circulation of logistics equipment, Military, intelligence operators, etc.

Oenegización of the society, dissolution of political borders of the nation-state (Libya, once again). How many humanitarian interventions did Kosovo have in 1998? How much round of sanctions for the same purpose does this seemingly legal certification offer? How much is guaranteed by international law?

From this perspective, and on the syntax in exercise in the immediate reality, in spite of those who participate under the innocent bait of voluntarism (and not of those who obviously fulfill another mission), it is another front of money laundering that has much To do with information war and little with genuine concerns.

Cruz Verde, as you may recall, is also a well-known brand of cleaning products. The irony appears alone.

Shaping the message, “humanitarianism”, precedents

The operation against Venezuela is regional, geopolitical, global. The same thing, we have insisted to the point of being tired from this rostrum. The methods by which contexts and ways to orientate the situation towards “regime change”, the undermining of the social, the resumption of political control that consolidates the financial economy and force the planet’s hot spots towards the expected objectives .

Thus, it is inevitable to bring in this point the Syrian case, and within that, to the already renamed “White Helmets”. These multipurpose operators that only act in territories controlled by the jihadist entities, which have carried out more than one false file and with a clear anti-State orientation, its integral defense and its way of representing.

Its dubious “humanitarian work”, in the foreground, is inserted and strengthened from the logic of spectacle and the usual perceptual banalization of the transmission belt of corporate media interested in the overthrow of the government chaired by Bashar Al-Assad, Which then comes with the same logic of realignment and geopolitical subordination to Western interests.

As it is known, they were created by a former British intelligence officer, have been recognized, supported and promoted by how much prize is in the talk of opinion, while receiving moral certification by figures of Western politics and global celebrity. The same ones that today are filing batteries against Venezuela, under similar method.

In the immediate past, the “White Helmets” were the main source for the “Syrian government” chemical attack on Jan Sheyjun’s population, which led to direct US intervention by the Trump Administration , By bombarding with Tomahawlk missiles at the Sharyat airbase.

His dubious “humanitarian work”, on the other hand, has been dissected by a considerable batch of serious investigations, revealing the publicity construct and shedding light on its true nature, purpose, and membership in the humanitarian industrial complex that complements and whitens the actions Pure and hard political intervention.

The researches of Vanessa Beeley , Moon of Alabama , Patrick Henningsen, and even Max Blumenthal (hardly recognizable as a “pro-Assad” figure), are a necessary consultation. Beyond the obvious, for the effects of this work will be emphasized in other subyascentes functions of this class of operations:

  • The “White Helmets” or Syrian Civil Defense is a complex network of public relations firms, such as the renowned Purpose, heavy investments, dark figures from the oil world (including the Rockefeller Foundation) and the Syrian “exile” . It was partially created by the Office of Transitional Initiatives of USAID (with a first donation of $ 23 million among other donations), has received training from MI6 – the British Foreign Intelligence Service -, is financed by the taxes of the citizen gringos And English. Within this media advertising brokerage, as a high-level “simultaneous news placement” in various media, taxed (or taxed) other global action operations, such as the one led by the Avaaz portal, responsible for gathering signatures that requested An “Air Exclusion Zone” over Syria (ie direct and heavy military intervention), which led to its heightened evidence in the huge campaign against the liberation of Aleppo at the end of 2016. This last operation Others resound in the “meeting of signatures” against the Ombudsman, Tarek William Saab.
  • In the same way, they act as a non-state actor that assigns state tasks in the area of assistance and rescatismo, since, for example, the Syrian government does have its own civil defense body, specialized in disaster and disaster relief (Active in almost all the territory) and strongly depauperada by the economic blockade product of the sanctions. Similarly, it displaces, hegemonizes and criminalizes the action of other truly humanitarian groups, including the Red Crescent and the International Red Cross, as it also campaigns against the same action by the United Nations on this field of action. A global power that tries to impose itself on local, national.

In summary, scenarios of situations oriented to the Western public, seeking to convey the idea of genuine and legitimate the process of intervention via false flag operations, promoters of disinformation via disaster propaganda, transmitters of the idea of neutrality to be beyond politics.

It is evident everything that could be claimed in contextual jumps, since in operational “phases”, the insurrectional operation in Venezuela is not at the tragic and violent point (and in resistance) in the case of the Syrian Arab Republic . But the precedent, the model, remains.

Situations planned in larval stage?

Finally, as Mission Truth has developed, the panorama of the Venezuelan information battlefield has experienced a dramatic jump in strategies, tactics and methods to produce (dis) information about what happens on the ground, where the battle is Matter, entails, and is intended to climb the same dangerous path.

How much prefiguration and projection into the future have these kinds of operations as here analyzed? To what extent will the procedures that control the narrative be extended in both sphere 2.0, the news, and on the administration of the territory as a privileged scenery? We already saw a test balloon and its results with the incident of April 10 in Las Mercedes.

In recent days, again from his Instagram account, First Aid UCV denounced the treatment that a journalist of Venezolana de Televisión granted them, disregarding any agenda , any war context and appealing to international legislation to certify their selfless work.

If so, they should then also consider all the positive, promotional and exacerbated propaganda that the media clearly added to the coup plot are developing at this time, since it would do the same poor favor.

As a closure, reminder and alert, we will not put the video in which the “White Helmets” perform that simulated antics of the manequin challenge, but a simulacrum of railway accident carried out in England in 2015, as a clear demonstration of how far Can be reached, if you want, in the elaboration and conduction of a message:

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

Chicago ALBA Solidarity

October 9, 2015

by Stansfield Smith

 

ALBA Chicago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Covering up US Interference in Bolivia

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

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

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

She goes further in another article:

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

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

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

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

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

Federico Fuentes noted USAID funding behind the TIPNIS protests:

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ecuador ‘s Closing Down of Fundacion Pachamama NGO

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Who Funded Fundacion Pachamana?

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Accion Ecologica

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

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

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

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

The petition said:

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

Signers included Amazon Watch.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 The Issue of  Extractivism in Ecuador and Bolivia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Fuentes writes elsewhere:

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Cory Morningstar wrote:

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

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

 

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

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

More liberal-left alternative media articles attacking Ecuador:

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

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

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

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

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

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

How protests forced Ecuador’s upcoming runoff presidential election

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

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

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

New Witch Hunt in Ecuador Against Indigenous and Environment Defenders

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

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

Deep in the Amazon a Tiny Tribe is Beating Big Oil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[8] For instance:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Violence, disinformation, outright lies and anti-government propaganda

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

VHeadline writer Oscar Heck tells us:

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

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

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

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

So, what is CONAIE?

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

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

Grantor: NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY (NED)

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

Country(ies): Ecuador

Region: Latin America and the Caribbean

Subject(s): Business and Economics

Grant Awarded: 2006

Amount: 67,955

Grantor: NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY (NED)

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

Country(ies): Ecuador

Region: Latin America and the Caribbean

Subject(s): Youth

Grant Awarded: 2006

Amount: 91,256

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oscar Heck

oscar.heck@vheadline.com

http://www.vheadline.com/heck

Marlon Santi

PRESIDENT, CONAIE

Delfín Tenesaca

PRESIDENT, ECUARUNARI

Tito Puanchir

PRESIDENT, CONFENIAE

Olindo Nastacuaz

PRESIDENT, CONAICE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[23] (part 4)

[24] (part 7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Geldof and the Aid Industry: “Do They Know it’s Imperialism?”

Under the Mask of Philanthropy

March 29, 2017

by Michael Barker

[Author Michael Barker published the following article in the activist journal Capitalism Nature Socialism in 2014 (Volume 24, No.1, pp.96-110).]

The central role that celebrities maintain within global society provides a good illustration of the essentially hollow and manipulative nature of contemporary democracies. Corporate elites literally manufacture all-star celebrities, and acting through these malleable figureheads, freely flood the world with imperialist propaganda. Much like the economic forces acting to misguide politicians, institutional pressures ensure that only right-thinking individuals become trusted celebrities. However, the main difference between celebrities and politicians is that the public cannot exert democratic control over celebrities. Bob Geldof is no different in this regard, and as the consummate celebrity-power broker, he stands clear of many contemporaries as a pioneer of celebrity-led imperialism: acting effectively in the service of capital. It is for this reason that this article critically excavates such a largely overlooked history to help unearth an explanatory framework for understanding exactly why the ongoing tragedy of famines will never be solved under a capitalist framework.

Stephanie McMillan industry

Geldof first rose to fame in the 1970s as the lead singer of the Irish band the Boomtown Rats and, having learned how to play the music industry’s game to perfection, went on to become a rare beneficiary of the stifling culture industry. However, that was not enough for Geldof, and at the peak of his musical career he attempted to give something back to the world; call it something akin to musical social responsibility. For Geldof, this time of charitable maturation arrived in 1984 when, having been shocked by a news report about the ongoing famine in Ethiopia, he sought to harness his celebrity power and to direct it toward the challenge of solving global injustice. Such good intentions are all well and good, but seeing that Geldof explicitly set upon this task in a manner that ignored any systematic critique of the politics of exploitation, his actions ending up bolstering the very same unjust capitalist system that created the problem in the first place. In fact, a good case can be made that it is precisely the imperialism-lite of ostensibly good-intentioned liberal elites—whose activities are subsumed under the kind-sounding rhetoric of “philanthropy,” “democracy,” and “human rights”—that has facilitated the institutionalization of neoliberalism.

Celebrities and the Politics of Starvation

In our interconnected world, extended famines do not occur when harvests fail, or because there are too many mouths to feed; quite the opposite, they occur with unfortunate regularity precisely because geopolitical priorities place profit before people. Scrutinizing the case study provided by the Ethiopian famine is important, as not only did it mark Washington’s “first hundred-million dollar commitment to international disaster relief,” but the intervention has also provided a “blueprint for future policymakers to follow”. Thus, to advance a realistic and useful solution to starvation, one needs to look beyond the mainstream media’s propaganda of futility, and strive to examine the role of capital in catalyzing “natural” disasters. Celebrity activists cannot be relied upon in searching for such solutions; as embedded within capitalist networks of power, they tend to be amongst those few individuals least likely to engage in such a rational approach to problem solving.

victorian

Counter to the rational nature of anti-capitalist thought, the latest tried and (media) tested method of addressing capital’s wrong-doings is to harness the angry voice of a celebrity (or better still a group of celebrities) to rant and rave about individual greed. Illustrating this is the latest iteration of a longstanding trend that has seen capitalists harness the power of philanthropy to the extension and consolidation of capitalist relations worldwide. This smokescreen approach to social change channels public attention away from any discussion of meaningful issues, and ensures that capitalists are empowered to “solve” the very same problems they caused in the first place. Geldof is singled out in particular because he took this basic formula for corporate success and then pushed this model for celebrity-led reaction to such an extent that celebrities are now a vital part of the “aid” industry.

Geldof clearly does not interpret his own actions in such a negative way, and seems to believe that the moral suasion of celebrities can force the hands of the very same political and economic elites that sustain their careers. There may be a limited grain of truth in this way of thinking, but it is to state the obvious that a celebrity campaign to expose capitalist injustice is hardly likely to be instigated by corporate-sanctioned celebrities, let alone gain active elite support in corporate circles. Hence, a good case can be made that Geldof’s entire Band Aid/Live Aid phenomenon actually shifted:

the focus of responsibility for the impoverishment of the Third World from western governments to individuals and obscured the workings of multinational corporations and their agents, the IMF and the World Bank. Worse, it made people in the West feel that famine and hunger were endemic to the Third World, to Africa in particular (the dark side of the affluent psyche), and what they gave was as of their bounty, not as some small for what was taken from the of the Third recompense being poor World…. [A] discourse on western imperialism was transmogrified into a discourse on western humanism. [1]

Geldof’s own humanitarian campaign thus exemplified itself as a stereotypical attack on governments and the existing aid industry: the visual problem was identified (famine), blame was then squarely placed on the local (foreign) government, and a “new” uncorrupted form of charity was then promoted. Along with such myths, he also pushed the equally misleading idea that foreign governments allowed the famine to continue because they were apathetic. Geldof’s serviceable response to these “problems” was obvious; he had to force Western governments to care more for distant others and rail against the existing aid industry’s inefficiencies. In both instances, this meant that Geldof dismissed the primary institutional reason for the existence of the aid industry. This is because governments do not donate food out of generosity; rather their food distribution networks are considered to be an integral weapon through which they promote their foreign policies. Critical books that Geldof might have read at the time include Nicole Ball’s World Hunger: A Guide to the Economic and Political Dimensions (1981), Susan George’s How the Other Half Dies: The Real Reasons for World Hunger (1976), Teresa Hayter’s The Creation of World Poverty (1981), and Marcus Linear’s Zapping the Third World: The Disaster of Development Aid (1985).

Geldof book

Paradoxically, writing in 1986, Geldof was evidently aware (at the rhetorical level anyway) of the strategic use of aid:

Aid is given in direct proportion to how friendly a government is towards the donor. It is used as threat, blackmail and a carrot. This is wrong …. Aid by and large benefits the donor country as much as the recipient, more so in fact as it stimulates, by trade, the donor’s economy, but leaves the recipient aid-dependent. (Bob Geldof, Is That It?, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1986, p.318.)

However, such critical words never informed his actions.

Band Aid Imperialism

Considering the exploitative nature of government food aid, the actions of the glut of “Bloody Do-Gooders” that Geldof brought together under the remit of Band Aid in 1984 certainly need to be viewed in a critical light. [2] Released in December 1984, Band Aid’s humanitarian anthem “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” quickly became the fastest-selling UK single of all time and marked Geldof’s return to the public stage as a born-again humanitarian rabble-rouser. Reflecting on his initial experiences in his autobiography Is That It? (1986), Geldof acknowledged that the result of Band Aid’s fund raising “would be so small in the context of the problem that it would be like putting a tiny plaster on a wound that required twelve stitches” (p.223).

Do They Know It's Christmas

With the benefit of hindsight, I would suggest that this is an extremely bad misdiagnosis. A more accurate description of Band Aid’s work would be to say that they put a plaster over capitalism’s body politics and sutured the public’s eyes shut. Here, Geldof would vehemently disagree as he insists that Band Aid carried out its work without involving itself in regional politics. Such claims, however, are patently false, especially given the fact that he recruited some of Britain’s leading elites to serve as trustees of the charity, the Band Aid Trust, which was set up to distribute the funds raised in the course of his activism. [3]

So how did it all start? If one returns to the initial seven-minute BBC story broadcast on October 24, 1984 that fueled Geldof’s humanitarian impulses, it turns out that the two reporters who filed the report (Mo Amin and Michael Buerk) were working under the auspices of World Vision—a well-publicized, imperialist, evangelical Christian charity. World Vision exists as just one, often overlooked part of imperial counterinsurgency efforts carried out by conservative evangelists who wage “spiritual warfare” upon recalcitrant populations. Little wonder that the television report described Ethiopia as the scene of a “biblical famine,” which was the “closest thing to hell on earth”. Thus, it is appropriate that in the early stages of Geldof’s frantic organizing efforts, the head of World Vision UK, Peter Searle, “kept phoning” Geldof in a bid to influence his activities. Having never heard of World Vision, Geldof recalled that he was “very suspicious” of Searle’s offers of help, but he seems to have been reassured when told that “they were an excellent organization but with roots in the right-wing American evangelical revival.” As Geldof continues: “Later we backed several of their projects” (p.235), [4] but to be more precise, it should be noted that as reported in May 1986, the “largest sum spent so far [by Band Aid] on a single project, dollars 1m, went to the charity World Vision” for their work in the Sudan (“The Band’s Last Big Number/The Future of Band Aid.” The Sunday Times, May 11, 1986).

Lest one forgets, the Cold War was in full swing, and Ethiopia was in the grip of a protracted civil war against rebels of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Geldof thankfully recognized the existence of this war; but when he met the officials of the Ethiopian government’s relief commission, he told them, “It seems to me that your basic problem is one of PR.” He added that while “I may not know anything about famine … I do know a lot about PR.” The narrow solution as viewed through Geldof’s celebrity eyes was that Ethiopia should see the international media as their natural ally because, he continued, “once people in the West appreciate the scale of what is going on here you won’t be able to stop them from helping” (p.249). Geldof’s naivety certainly did not make him receptive to the contrary idea presented by members of the Ethiopian government, that the Western media were part of the problem, and that it had actually consciously acted against the best interests of their country. Further, given Geldof’s gross ignorance about Ethiopian politics, it is no surprise that he missed the fact that the Ethiopian government was deliberately withholding food aid from the “huge areas of Tigray where TPLF guerrillas held sway” because, as their acting foreign minister Tibebu Bekele made clear at the time, “Food is a major element in our strategy against the secessionists”. [5]

William Hogarth the_lottery

One might note that the only aid group active in Ethiopia at the time that challenged the hegemonic imperialist discourse of the famine was Médecins sans frontiers, and for doing so, they were promptly ejected from the country. At that time, the longstanding trend of manipulating humanitarian aid to serve the donor countries’ geostrategic interests is most clearly demonstrated in the provision of aid on the borders of Pakistan-Afghanistan and Honduras-Nicaragua during the 1980s. In the former case, Fiona Terry concludes, “Whether they believed they were neutral or not, NGOs that received US funding either in Pakistan or for cross-border operations were assisting the foreign policy strategy of the US government.” With respect to Honduran “aid,” some NGOs themselves were openly critical about such manipulations, and a report by Catholic Relief Services concluded, “The border relief programs are not designed to meet the long- or short-term interests of the Miskitos, but rather are designed for political purposes as a conduit of aid to the contras”. Interestingly in Ethiopia, Catholic Relief Services appear to have maintained a somewhat antagonistic stance vis-à-vis their role in promoting US foreign policy objectives but, despite rhetorical objections, still retained their prestigious position as the largest recipient of US disaster grants.

It is, therefore, far from surprising that more recent reports demonstrate that some of the relief monies entering Ethiopia were used to buy arms for the rebels via the TPLF’s aid front group, the Relief Society of Tigray (REST). The US government was of course well aware of this situation as a now-declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report written in 1985 makes clear. The report observes, “Some funds that insurgent organizations are raising for relief operations, as a result of increased world publicity, are almost certainly being diverted for military purposes”. Geldof, no doubt dismissed such possibilities as belonging to the realm of conspiracy theories, which is perhaps the reason he did not refuse an offer of aid from the shadowy employee of a former CIA agent. As Geldof recounts in his autobiography, the influential CIA agent in question was Miles Copeland, whose philanthropic-minded boss was the longtime Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, and whose militaristic background remained unmentioned by Geldof. Thus, Geldof adds, he was informed by Miles Copeland’s son, Stewart Copeland (the drummer in the rock group The Police), that:

Khashoggi was interested in donating some planes for us to use. On the eve of my departure for Ethiopia I met up with Khashoggi’s son who was passing through London. The planes would be for famine relief in the Sudan only, he said, and a meeting would be arranged between me and President Numeiri’s personal adviser, Baha Idris. It all seemed very complex, but the offer for the planes was firm, I was assured. (p.251) [6]

Then, while on his subsequent foray to the Sudan, Geldof had lunch with Andrew Timpson of Save the Children where his briefing provided:

… one enlightening piece of information. Adnan Khashoggi was said to have oil interests in the Sudan and a special relationship with President Numeiri which led him to getting a remarkably good return on his investment. It was said that if anyone could arrange a cease-fire in the civil war which was disrupting development in the oil field which was thought to be the biggest in black Africa, it was he. (p.252)

Alan Hardman

Geldof’s follow-up sentence is increasingly curious, but as far as he is concerned, that is the end of the story as he fails to return to this intriguing subject. He does, however, mention in passing that during the preparations for the Band Aid concert, “all the Band Aid office expenses were being paid for by a Malaysian oil millionaire called Ananda Krishnan” and, contrary to Geldof’s own personal intentions for the project, Krishnan “was interested in turning Band Aid into a permanent institution” (p.266). Such curious humanitarian contacts befit a man with little enthusiasm for challenging the legitimacy of powerful political interests. In Geldof’s own words:

[A]s in England, where I didn’t want to get involved in party politics, so too in Africa. ‘I will shake hands with the devil on my left and the devil on my right to get to the people who need help,’ I would say, when I first asked questions about the political complexion of some local government. That was crucial, for you could become bogged down in the myriad moral uncertainties of dealing with an imperfect political system. (p.318)

Geldof Versus the American Government?

Despite Geldof recognizing the fact that aid is regularly used by powerful governments “as threat, blackmail and a carrot,” in 1985, Band Aid strangely sought to gain the support of the best-organized imperialist aid agency in the world, the US Agency for International Development (AID). No need to worry about such incongruous behavior though, as Geldof would have us believe “the greatest single donor in the world” did not really know what it was doing in terms of coordinating its global operations. Geldof recalls that he “was frightened” that USAID “would have the better of me or have a better grasp of the facts.” “But they didn’t” he continues, “we were all tap dancing” (p.320). [7] This seems most peculiar, and I would argue that this interpretation of events owes more to his naivety than to reality, but either way this false impression certainly gave Geldof the confidence boost he needed to argue for their help. That said, he didn’t have to argue much, as USAID already knew his plans, as he “had stipulated the agenda before” he arrived in America. He recalled, “They knew that we were not prepared to leave without firm undertakings from them that they should match us on a dollar-for-dollar basis on some of our mutually beneficial projects” (p.322). So in the end, it is not surprising that the US State Department came through for Band Aid. The Ethiopian government, on the other hand, was, as Geldof reports, “not delirious to have help from US Aid” (p.323).

usaid-humanitarian-relief

Are we really to believe that it was Band Aid that manipulated the US government and not vice versa? If we just consider the quantitative issue of food aid, the total value of US aid for Ethiopia in fiscal 1983 was around $3 million; this then increased to some $23 million the following year, and then “jumped to more than four times that amount (about $98 million) between October 1 and December 1, 1984.” Given that approximately two-thirds of this last increase was committed after the initial National Broadcasting Company (NBC) broadcast of the famine in the United States (October 24, 1984), one way of interpreting this change would be to say this boost in aid was due to the change in media coverage and the resulting public outcry. Alternatively, one could just as easily interpret this change as illustrating that the media became more receptive to the issue once the US government signaled that they were increasing, and no longer decreasing, food aid to the region. This latter argument is evidenced by the fact that in March 1984, Senator John Danforth (Republican-Missouri)—who throughout 1984 played an important role in lobbying for famine relief in Ethiopia —successfully introduced a bill (H.J.Res. 493) that provided $90 million in food assistance for emergency food assistance for Africa. This money was not, however, freed up until an earlier bill (H.J.Res. 492), which aimed to provide $150 million to famine-stricken areas in Africa (which the $90 million represented part of) stalled, passing into law in July 1984, but only when proposed amendments to add covert funding for the Contras in Nicaragua had been dropped from the bill (African Famine: Chronology of U.S. Congressional and Executive Branch Action in 1984, Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service).

Counter to Geldof’s recommendation to Ethiopian officials that they only needed better PR to get their story out to the global public, US journalists had been attempting to air stories about the famine for some time, but they simply had no takers in the mainstream media. As far as the media were concerned, “It was not ‘new’ news, for the roots of the 1984 disaster lay in conditions known for years before the disaster hit the headlines”. However, by the end of the year, Ethiopia was now considered as being an issue that deserved political attention. One wondered if this was in any way related to ongoing attempts to coerce the Ethiopian government to accept more aid from the West. For example, it is interesting to observe that just after the increase in aid and media attention (in October), Reuters reported on December 1, 1984, how “The Marxist Government of Ethiopia has agreed to move toward a free market policy to improve the country’s agricultural production…” (“Ethiopians Consider Free Market.” The Globe and Mail, December 1, 1984). Thus, extensive economic and diplomatic pressure was clearly being brought to bear on Ethiopia well before the rise in media attention. By way of another example, the Italian government had its own important role to play in ramping up the political pressure, “and the Italian ambassador is generally credited with making it clear to Mengistu in early October 1984 that Ethiopia could not continue to suppress information about the famine, but must publicize it in order to attract Western relief”.

Ethiopia was now the media’s number one story, but during the seemingly endless deluge of one-dimensional coverage, at no point did the mainstream media help the public understand what was happening by making any significant effort to explain the root causes of the famine. One would have been hard-pressed to have heard of the ambitious land reform program—launched in 1975 when the military Marxists (known as the Derg) rose to power—that was “very successful in eliminating large holdings, absentee landlordism and landlessness.” Similarly, there was no talk of how the Derg’s top-down control over their agrarian reform program had the net effect of “lessen[ing] farmer’s incentives for good natural resource management by decreasing both the security of land tenure and the profitability of agriculture”. Factors that combined with the prolonged civil war and the Derg’s massive resettlement program (which was undertaken in the wake of the 1984–1985 famine) exacerbated farmer land insecurity and mismanagement, which depressed agricultural production in Ethiopia’s time of need.

Banksy

Instead of providing historically-informed investigative journalism that explored such issues, the racist media delivered up a nightmarish story about a natural disaster of biblical proportions. This is an outcome that was entirely predictable given the propagandist nature of the mainstream media that was well aligned to celebrate the successes of the imperialist development narratives upon which the nongovernmental (NGO) aid industry operates. Thus, the media and the international aid community simply latched onto well-worn neo-Malthusian environmental degradation narratives to justify ongoing aid in the post-famine period (1985–1990). Likewise, little or no mention has been made of the deleterious effect that the Soviet Union’s policy of disengagement had on the nominally Marxist government.

Such an ill-informed development narrative was supremely useful to imperialist donors as it promoted an intervention in a geostrategically important region which “was narrowly technical, largely bypassed the Ethiopian government, was targeted directly on the rural poor and would be welcomed by the growing environmental lobby in Washington”. With respect to the utility of this massive influx of aid (for the people of Ethiopia), “in retrospect, it is clear that much of this effort was wasted or counterproductive.” It is not coincidental that it was during this golden period of “development” aid that the Derg “moved away from socialist agriculture”.

One might point out that neo-Malthusian arguments drawn upon in Ethiopia are intimately enmeshed with the ideological underpinnings of the mainstream environmental movement, which are especially in line with the environmental lobby in Washington. Indeed, since the 18th century, such specious logic has solidified yeomen service to imperial elites who falsely argue that humans simply cannot cultivate enough food to feed the entire human population. Thus, given Ethiopia’s positioning in the ongoing Cold War, it is appropriate that the leading proponents of neoliberal environmentalism played a major role in justifying the aid communities’ protracted interventions in the region. For example, from late 1984 to mid-1986, the executive coordinator of the United Nations Office for Emergency Operations in Africa was none other than , the immensely powerful former oil executive who, over the past four decades, has arguably done more than any other individual to promote the misnomer of sustainable development.

Capitalists for Just Exploitation

Old humanitarian habits die hard and, having already proved their ability to neglect the role of imperial power politics in global affairs, Geldof and his Band Aid friends have continued to act as willing implementers of capitalistic responses to capitalist-bred inequality. However, if one had to choose one Band Aid contributor who best followed Geldof’s own model of leadership on behalf of imperial elites it would have to be Bono, who in 2005 was voted TIME magazine’s Person of the Year alongside the well-known “humanitarian” couple Bill and Melinda Gates. After contributing to the Band Aid single and the Live Aid gig in 1985, Bono had even emulated Geldof’s commitment to the right-wing evangelical charity World Vision, and spent six weeks volunteering at one of their orphanages in Ethiopia. Bono’s overt commitment to Christian missionary work was then put on hold, that is, until 1997 when Jamie Drummond encouraged him to became a spokesperson for a church-based campaign known as Jubilee 2000, a group which was set up to campaign the canceling of Third World debt. Fresh from this spiritual revival, Bono then began spending weekends at the World Bank with his friend Bobby Shriver, who himself was an old colleague of the World Bank’s president, James Wolfensohn, having worked with him within the venture capital division of the Wolfensohn Firm.

Having gained his humanitarian apprenticeship under leading imperialists like Wolfensohn, it is fitting that economist Jeffrey Sachs completed Bono’s education. Bono, like Geldof, was pioneering new ground within the realm of celebrity activism, moving from the former archetypal celebrity-as-fundraiser to the realm of celebrity-as-corporate-lobbyist. With the zeal of a born-again zealot, Bono endeavored to work the circuits of power of the hallowed nonprofit-industrial complex, and in 2002 he turned to Geldof, who helped devise the name DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) to christen his and Bobby Shriver’s new group; this organization flourished with $1 million start-up grants flowing in from the likes of global democracy manipulator George Soros, software businessman Edward W. Scott, Jr., and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Once established, DATA recruited like-minded high profile corporate lobbyists, the two main ones being the Democrat AIDS activist /defense contractor lobbyist Tom Sheridan, and Scott Hatch, who formerly ran the National Republican Campaign Committee. Much like Geldof, Bono sees his work as bipartisan, that is, encompassing all political views as long as they stand firmly on the side of capitalism.

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In 2004, Bono extended his activist commitments, and with the backing of Bread for the World, the Better Safer World coalition, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation he created “ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History,” which merged with DATA in 2007 and is now known as ONE Campaign. All board members of ONE are leading representatives of the US power elite, but three who exhibit outstanding service to capitalist propaganda are president and CEO Michael Elliott (who most recently served as the editor of TIME International), board chair Tom Freston (who is the former CEO of Viacom and MTV Networks), and Joe Cerrell (who presently works for the Gates Foundation, but formerly served as the vice president of the philanthropy practice at APCO Worldwide and as assistant press secretary to former US Vice President Al Gore). A significant recent addition to ONE’s board of directors is World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is active on the board of Friends Africa where he sits alongside African “friends” like Jeffrey Sachs and the chairman of De Beers, Jonathan Oppenheimer. Yet another especially interesting ONE board member is Helene Gayle, who as a former employee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is now employed as the president of the leading international “aid” outfit, CARE.

Here, it is noteworthy to recall that CARE was formed by Herbert Hoover as the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe, and since its inception in 1945 has provided a valuable means of promoting imperialism via the strategic provision of food aid. Indeed, as Susan George suggests in her excellent book How the Other Half Dies: The Real Reasons for World Hunger (1976), Hoover was given the opportunity to form CARE primarily because he had demonstrated his ability to use food aid as a weapon during and after World War I. In fact, she suggests that Hoover was arguably the “first modern politician to look upon food as a frequently more effective means of getting one’s own way than gunboat diplomacy or military intervention”. As recent critical scholarship on the international role of CARE demonstrates, it still serves much the same imperial purpose that it was created to perform.

CARE thus provides a vital training ground for budding “humanitarians”; for instance, many of their former staff are involved in a relatively new venture known as Build Africa—a “charity” working in rural Uganda and Kenya that helps “young people” better themselves through learning about the wonders of “business enterprise.” One particularly significant trustee of Build Africa (who also heads their board of ambassadors/investment bankers) is the investment banker and private equity power broker Mark Florman, the CEO of the British Venture Capital Association. In addition to acting as one of the co-founders of the UK-based Center for Social Justice—a think tank that was set up in 2004 by the former leader of the Conservative party, Iain Duncan Smith [8]—Florman worked with Bob Geldof to raise $200 million to launch a private equity fund in 2012, called 8 Miles, with the aid of , which, bluntly put, aims to capitalize on Africa. According to the Financial Times:

Among others that Mr. Geldof has approached for advice on the [] venture is Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese-born telecoms tycoon turned philanthropist, and Arki Busson, the founder of hedge fund EIM. He has also discussed his plans with Tony Blair, the former British prime minister who sits with Mr. Geldof on the Africa Progress Panel, monitoring donor commitments towards increased aid to Africa. [9]

To flesh out the backgrounds of Geldof’s new friends, one might note that Mo Ibrahim was soon to be a board member of the ONE Campaign and is currently chair of the advisory board for an investment firm focused on Africa called Satya Capital; its small portfolio includes Namakwa Diamonds, a mining group whose board members notably include a former executive vice president of the notorious Barrick Gold. In 2004, Ibrahim founded the Mo Ibrahim Foundation “to recognize achievement in African leadership and stimulate debate on good governance across sub-Saharan Africa and the world.” In this context, “good governance” means implementation of neoliberal reforms. [10] Hedge fund tycoon Arki Busson, like Ibrahim, is well-versed in the power of philanthropic propaganda, and on the side of his main business interests he runs an educational charity known as Absolute Return for Kids (ARK), which is one of Britain’s powerful new academy chains that run academies on US charter school lines. In 2007, at ARK’s seventh annual fundraiser, Geldof and Tony Blair were in attendance, so it is suitable that ARK’s patrons include two close associates of Geldof’s. The first is the “human rights” crooner Sir Elton John, and the second is the former World Bank economist Dambisa Moyo.

Moyo is the author of Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa (2009), and she lividly expresses her humanitarian commitment through service on the boards of Barclays, SABMiller PLC, and the global independent oil and gas exploration and production company, Lundin Petroleum. [11] With “her total unflinching faith in markets as the ultimate solution and her silence on issues of social justice” Moyo’s book sits comfortably with the ambitions of the “Bono-Bob Geldof-driven development industry that is convinced that the ingredients of lifting the wretched of the earth out of poverty include higher economic growth, liberalised markets, good governance, better-funded NGOs and, most important of all, more aid”.

A Leftist critic of the aid industry (and of Geldof in particular) reminds us:

[t]o understand the Geldof phenomenon, we need to look historically at the role that Africa has played in the European imagination and in global capitalism. Geldof’s crusade and attitude is not new. He is only the latest in a long line of European men whose personal mission has been to transform Africa and Africans. David Livingstone, the celebrity of his day, embarked on a similar crusade in the late 19th century, painting Africa as a land of “evil,” of hopelessness and of child-like humans. His mission was to raise money to pursue his personal ambitions.

In this manner, “Livingstone’s and Geldof’s humanitarianism fits well with the demands of global capitalism as they serve to obscure distinct phases in the exploitation of Africa.

early bob

Close Your Minds and Give Your Money!

Contrary to the pleasant-sounding rhetoric accompanying the entire Band Aid phenomena, Band Aid and its offshoots have always worked closely with imperialist policy agendas. Thus, the Band Aid Trust still exists, with the most recent revival of their formula for deception being the Live8 concert, which was held in 2005, which again relied heavily upon the two most famous celebrity big hitters, Geldof and Bono. While Geldof and Bono’s initial approach to humanitarianism could at best be described as naïve, the power-struck duo are now quite obviously working hand-in-hand with neoliberal elites, not in solidarity with the poor and oppressed. So while the musicians involved in the first Band Aid project might argue that they were unaware of the means by which food aid is tied to imperialism, the same could be not true of the artists who participated in the monumental corporate aid bonanza that was Live8. After all, it was there that Geldof introduced Bill Gates to the millions watching Live8 as “the world’s greatest philanthropist”; George Monbiot appropriately observed, “Geldof and Bono’s campaign for philanthropy portrays the enemies of the poor as their saviours.”

Over the past three decades, the formidable Bono-Geldof tag-team has provided a vital propaganda service to ruling elites. On a broader level too, some argue that their celebrity activism is a natural corollary to the politics of privatization. C. Wright Mills, in his seminal book, The Power Elite (1953), dedicated an entire chapter to celebrities, observing that with the rise of national means of mass communication, “the institutional elite must now compete with and borrow prestige from these professionals in the world of the celebrity.” He thereby outlined the integral function that celebrity lives fulfill vis-à-vis the requirements of managing democracy, noting “the liberal rhetoric—as a cloak for actual power—and the professional celebrity—as a status distraction—do permit the power elite conveniently to keep out of the limelight”. Writing so many years ago, Mills was unsure as to whether the power elite would be content to rest uncelebrated; however, now, under neoliberal regimes of media and social management, the differences between interests of the jet setting crowd and other parts of the power elite have converged. Celebrities become political leaders and politicians become world class “actors,” while the real power behind these media-friendly figureheads remains in the hands of an increasingly concentrated economic elite.

Notes

1 For a musical critique of Live Aid see Chumbawamba’s album Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records: Starvation, Charity and Rock & Roll – Lies & Traditions (1986).

2 Geldof’s initial suggestion for Band Aid’s name was “The Bloody Do-Gooders.”

3 Geldof was also involved in the US version of Band Aid which under the organization of Harry Belafonte released the song “We Are the World” in March 1985, which became the fastest-selling American pop single in history. The Band Aid Trust was initially chaired by Lord Gowrie, then Minister for the Arts. Other founding trustees included Lord Harlech, the head of Harlech TV, Michael Grade, the controller of BBC1, Chris Morrison, the manager of Ultravox, Maurice Obserstein, the chairman of the British Phonographic Institute, John Kennedy, a pop industry lawyer, and Midge Ure (Geldof 1986 Geldof, B. 1986. Is That It? London: Sidgwick & Jackson. [Google Scholar], 256).

4 On his first visit to Ethiopia, Geldof bumped into another conservative religious “aid” worker, Mother Teresa (Geldof, Is That It? p.239), who according to Christopher Hitchens “has consoled and supported the rich and powerful, allowing them all manner of indulgence, while preaching obedience and resignation to the poor.”

5 One should look to Ethiopia’s recent past for similar examples that illustrate the political nature of famines. For example, “During the final two years (1973–1975) of the US-supported Haile Selassie regime, some 100,000 Ethiopians died of starvation due to drought. At least half the amount of grain needed to keep those people alive was held in commercial storage facilities within the country. In addition, Emperor Selassie’s National Grain Corporation itself held in storage 17,000 tons of Australian wheat which it refused to distribute. While commercial interests thrived by selling hundreds of tons of Ethiopian grain, beans, and even milk to Western Europe and Saudi Arabia, the Ethiopian government received 150,000 tons of free food from aid donors”.

6 Khashoggi was the arms dealer in the Iran-Contra scandal.

7 “The impact of food aid can only be understood within the context of the broader US aid programme. Two-thirds of the total aid package is security assistance: military aid and cash transfers to governments deemed ‘strategically important’ to the US national interest. So whatever worthwhile may be achieved by feeding some people or supporting some useful development efforts is far outweighed by the propping up of anti-democratic elites and regimes whose policies perpetuate inequality”.

8 It is interesting to note that the Executive Director of the Centre for Social Justice, Philippa Stroud, was recently employed by the charity known as Christian Action Research and Education, which is also known as CARE, and whose activities are separate from the aforementioned “aid” agency with the same acronym. The long-serving chair of Christian Action Research and Education is Lyndon Bowring, who is a council member of the conservative Christian group The Evangelical Alliance and a member of the board of reference of the equally zealous Christian Solidarity Worldwide that is very active in promoting “aid” in the Sudan.

9 The “core funding 2008–2010” for the Africa Progress Panel “comes from two sources: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).” Africa Progress Panel, available online at: http://www.africaprogresspanel.org/en/about/, accessed 11 January, 2012.

10 Mo Ibrahim is one of many elite counselors of a group called One Young World, which describes itself as “the premier global forum for young people of leadership calibre.” Bob Geldof is also counted as one of their counselors, and One Young World’s cofounder, marketing executive David Jones boasts of “work[ing] closely” with David Cameron and the Conservative Party in the UK and having been tasked to “create and lead the Tck Tck Tck, Time for Climate Justice Campaign.” For an insightful critique of this latter campaign, see Cory Morningstar’s “Eyes Wide Shut: TckTckTck Expose from Activist Insider.”

11 Lukas Lundin a board member of Lundin Petroleum serves as the chair of Lundin Mining, a corporation whose CEO, Phil Wright, is the former president of Freeport-McMoran’s Tenke Mining.

Forget Oscar: Give The White Helmets the Leni Riefenstahl Award for Best War Propaganda Film

21st Century Wire

March 2, 2017

by Patrick Henningson

1 White Helmets Oscar al Qaeda Terrorist

This has to be historic low for Hollywood and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In your average lifetime, everyone will get their share of war propaganda films. In America, it’s a kind of sacred tradition, where Hollywood does the job of revisionism, paving over an otherwise uncomfortable history with a new coat of stain. It’s necessary – not just to make us feel better about ourselves, but also to cover-up any inconvenient truths and high crimes of the state.

To be honest, when I first heard about this film being promoted by Netflix, I wasn’t surprised at all because ever since the Syria conflict began in 2011, the establishment media has gone out of its way to falsely promote it as a “civil war”, and have used the NGO known as the White Helmets which calls itself the ‘Syria Civil Defense’, as its primary media protagonist in furthering that narrative.

The fact that a documentary about The White Helmets received an Oscar Award simply confirms what a glorious bubble the entertainment industry resides in, and how easy it is these days for a documentary film to used for the purposes of propaganda and made to reinforce a mainly US-UK foreign policy project.

To Hollywood, it’s a feel good documentary, designed to make us feel good about a dirty war in Syria. But this is a level of distortion and spin that would make even Joseph Goebbels’ head spin.

In his essay published at Global Research, Dr. T.P. Wilkinson explains the liberal obsession with cosmetic revisionism:

“The “wrong war” thesis is elemental to what Carroll Quigley called “liberal imperialism” in his history of the Anglo-American establishment.[2] Liberal imperialists, to which the faux gauche (the descendants of Fabianism) also belong, do not oppose empire. They simply want it to be more aesthetically appealing, and lost wars are most un-aesthetic. So what is the liberal imperialist’s answer to unappetizing military defeats? It is cosmetic surgery.”

Expensive war propaganda in Hollywood is nothing new. High profile films like Zero Dark ThirtyAmerican Sniper and Argo were all released to much fanfare. Each of them fulfilled a role in forming a more perfect American narrative, and in some cases completely rewrote history altogether. But these were meant to be theatrical releases so naturally there’s a generous dose of artistic license taken by the director. Nothing unusual there. It’s what Hollywood does. These films also had some distance between the present day and wars which had already lapsed.

A veneer of integrity is always important. Hollywood still purports to put a lot of currency in the truth. During this year’s Oscars, The New York Times ran a TV ad (above) for the first time since 2010 entitled, “The truth is. . .”

 

This campaign is meant to decry fake news and its ugly cousin ‘alternative facts’ to show what high standards the mainstream media has – which demonstrates the delusional world the in which the establishment exists.  Earlier this month, I wrote an exposé showing exactly how the New York Times has been America’s perennial leader in running fake news for the purposes of advancing a war agenda. It’s ironic that this advertisement would run on a night when an Oscar would be given to one of the most egregious propaganda films of all time.Last Sunday night, The White Helmets, directed by Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara, took home an Academy Award for best documentary short. Unlike Argo, or American Sniper, this was a film about a war which is happening now, but this was not a conventional documentary film. The footage was provided by a terrorist-affiliated NGO based in Turkey, operating in Syria, and who is primarily funded by the US State Dept, the British Foreign Office, the Netherlands, and other NATO member and Gulf states to the tune of over $150 million and whose chief remit is producing US-led Coalition propaganda images for mass media consumption. The film, funded and distributed by Netflix, seems to be an extension of that remit.

Watch the film’s trailer here.

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Normally we think of documentaries as films that are supposed to speak truth to power, but this film does the opposite. It reinforces an Anglo-American establishment power structure responsible for one of the most violent, dirty wars in modern history. It reinforces a collection of lies placed on heavy rotation by the political and media establishments since the conflict began.

In every way, Syria is the wrong war. For the US and the UK, there’s much at stake – the legacies of two paradigmatic political figures, Barack Obama and David Cameron, along with the reputations of other architects of the west’s dirty war on Syria, like former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and British Foreign Minister William Hague. Back when the war was getting started, both Clinton and Hague were busy front-running their “Friends of Syria” whistle stop tour around the Middle East and Europe, securing Gulf cash commitments while grooming their hand-picked ‘opposition’ government in exile, holding court in various 5 star hotels in Paris, London and Istanbul. The US had tried this only a year earlier with Libya, and at the time in 2011-2012, they had every reason to believe that the Libyan formula could be repeated in Syria. Those hopes were dashed by early 2013, when it became apparent that Libya was officially a failed state. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of extremist foreign fighters and jihadi soldiers of fortune began pouring into Syria. It was an invasion. This was the West’s proxy army, ready to decapitate the government, dismember the state and destabilize the region – with the full blessing of Washington DC and its partners.

The Troika of Washington-London-Paris then doubled down by pouring billions of dollars in lethal weapons to various fighting groups laying in waiting in Turkey and Jordan, as well as those already active in Syria. There were a number of well-documented arrangements, but one of the most successful working models was for the CIA and its European NATO partners illegally supplying the weapons funnelled through Jordan and Turkey – and all paid for by Saudi, Qatari cash. All the while, the public were told by the US-led Coalition all of this was for the “moderate rebels” in Syria. These were meant to be the “freedom fighters” that Ronald Reagan referred to back in the 1980’s. As it turned out, these freedom fighters in Syria were a chip of the old block from the violent, psychopathic US-backed and CIA-trained paramilitary death squads which would wreak havoc and terrorise El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras. In Syria, they are much worse in fact, as they employed  a potent brand of warped, radical Salafi and Wahabist religious fervour as the central axis of their self-styled, Medieval nihilistic raison d’etre. Yes, these are the moderates, backed by the US, UK, France, Turkey, Germany, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, every other NATO member state, and of course, Israel, who has skill fully stayed out of the media firing line. It’s a collective project. Their mission: ‘regime change’ in Syria – to overthrow by force – the government in Damascus.

As dirty wars go, none is more filthy than this one. As the US and the UK are running point on public relations for this criminal enterprise, their big challenge has been selling it to their electorates. In order to justify the dirty war, a narrative has to be constructed and maintained. This requires a relentless negative public relations campaign demonizating the Syrian government and all of its agencies. The following talking points are therefore reinforced:

  1. Syria’s peaceful ‘Arab Spring’ uprising happened in 2011, and was violently squashed by the government.
  2. Assad is a brutal dictator, and is illegitimate.
  3. The Syrian government and its armed forces are deliberately killing their own people.
  4. The US-NATO and Gulf-backed armed ‘rebel’ opposition is legitimate.
  5. Syrian and Russian Airforce are only killing civilians, and not militant and terrorists.
  6. Terrorists do not exist in Syria, only “moderate rebels” and Syrians ‘fighting for freedom’.
  7. Therefore, Assad must be removed from power and replaced with a US-approved government.

Add to this, the entrance of Russia in the fall of 2015 at the lawful invitation of Damascus, and Russia can now be added to the demonization campaign.

These talking points are then repeated and recycled, over and over, and held up as justification for US-led, crippling economic and diplomatic sanction against the Syrian state, and the destructive policy of flooding the region with arms. In the summer of 2014, an added bonus for the US was inserted into the mix – the emergence of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Sham). The appearance of ISIS allowed the US to fly air sorties over Syria, allegedly to fight ISIS, although after 3 years the US has produced little if any verifiable progress in ‘defeating’ ISIS. In truth, the US had hoped that ISIS, along with the other al Qaeda affiliates, would somehow do the job of destabilizing Syria and overthrowing the government of President Bashar al Assad in Damascus. Meanwhile, on-script western media operatives and politicians alike still referred to them as “rebels” and “armed opposition” – violent radical terrorist groups like Jabbat al Nusra (Nusra Front), Arar al Sham, Nour al-Din al-Zinki, Jaish al-Fatah (The Army of Conquest), along with some radical remnants of John McCain’s ‘Free Syrian Army’. This was all part of the public relations con.

But that wasn’t enough. Washington and London needed a face for the evening news. They needed to personalize the conflict in order to help maintain the illusion of a “civil war” in Syria. This is where the White Helmets come in. A merry band of men, comprised of “ordinary citizens, from bakers to teachers to painters,” all donning the White Helmets to save humanity in this moment of turmoil. Raed Saleh, the group’s spokesman says his organization is guided by a verse in the Qu’ran: “To save one life is to save all of humanity.” No doubt a beautiful line, but like so many aspects of the White Helmets – it’s been applied cosmetically. Who would dare be so insensitive as to challenge such a perfect story? For war planners in Washington and London, the White Helmets provided the PR cushion they needed to help sell a filthy proxy war to western audiences. By creating and managing their own ‘first responder’ NGO, the US, UK and its stakeholder partners have been able to leverage public sympathies – enough to keep the project going, until the war was either won or lost, or until someone caught on to the scam.

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In his article in Counterpunch back in April 2015, Rick Sterling summarized the White Helmet roll-out and basic agenda:

“In reality the White Helmets is a project created by the UK and USA. Training of civilians in Turkey has been overseen by former British military officer and current contractor, James Le Mesurier. Promotion of the program is done by “The Syria Campaign” supported by the foundation of billionaire Ayman Asfari. The White Helmets is clearly a public relations project which has received glowing publicity from HuffPo to Nicholas Kristof at the NYT. White Helmets have been heavily promoted by the U.S. Institute of Peace (U.S.IP) whose leader began the press conference by declaring “U.S.IP has been working for the Syrian Revolution from the beginning.”

For the last 3 years, the White Helmets have existed for the singular purpose of producing thousands of propaganda segments – videos and images which reinforce the US-led foreign policy narrative for Syria. The brutal dictator Assad using his airforce against his own people, along with his evil Russian partners. Both are callously snuffing-out the fledging and therefore, the White Helmets’ primary financiers – the US State Dept (via USAID), the British Foreign Office, The Netherlands, along with other EU member states and Qatar. Since at least 2011, each of these nation stakeholders has had a vested interest in overthrowing the Syrian government and destabilizing Syria. In 2014, a number of independent researchers in the west began to catch the White Helmets’ unmistakable stench of dupery. Cory Morningstar’s article, “SYRIA: AVAAZ, PURPOSE & THE ART OF SELLING HATE FOR EMPIRE” (April 2014), and Rick Sterling’s piece for Counterpunch, “About Those Chlorine Gas Attacks in Syria,” and also the work of researcher Petri Krohn’s notable wiki site ‘A Closer Look at Syria‘ – first cracked the facade. They were followed by extensive investigations by Vanessa Beeley who has since produced a formidable volume of research and analysis on the White Helmets and other similar NGO projects, all of which are readily available on 21st Century Wire.

Any researcher working on a White Helmets documentary would have had access to all of this information, through a simple key word search.

Interestingly, mainstream media defenders of the White Helmets such as Michael Weiss, a senior fellow at NATO’s own propaganda think tank the Atlantic Council, as well as editor at the dubious Daily Beast, claim that criticism of the White Helmets is a Russian plot organized by Putin himself. Weiss’ conspiracy theory is expected considering his employer’s affiliation, but such typical hyperbolic accusations belie the fact that the first individuals to expose this pseudo NGO are not Russian, but rather independent writers and researchers from the US, Canada and Great Britain and why not – because it’s their tax dollars that is funding the White Helmets. It’s also worth noting that in December 2016 when the Nusra terrorist hold over East Aleppo was collapsing, it was Michael Weiss who is responsible for circulating bogus reports, including that women in East Aleppo were committing ‘mass suicide’ to avoid ‘mass rape’ by Assad’s soldiers. “Seventy-nine of them were executed at the barricades. The rest — everyone under 40 — were taken to warehouses that look more like internment camps. They face an unknown fate,” he said. “This morning 20 women committed suicide in order not to be raped.”

Weiss’ source for these sensational reports: terrorists in East Aleppo. This was just one of many fake news stories disseminated in the mainstream media. Weiss then went on to repeat the fabricated story to a global mainstream audience on CNN’s Don Lemon Show.

In reality, and according to countless first-hand on the ground eye witness testimonies collected by 21WIRE and other media outlets, as the Syrian Army began liberating East Aleppo, the so-called ‘moderate rebels’ promoted by Weiss and other western media operatives were using residents as human shields, and in some cases shooting residents who attempted to flee terrorist enclaves prior to government forces liberating the eastern half of the city.

With direct funding to the White Helmets from US-led Coalition countries already well in excess $150 million – international stakeholders expect a return on their investment. That return comes in the form of dramatic ‘search and rescue’ videos, some of which may have even been produced in Turkey, and which were then sent in  a highly coordinated fashion to the editorial desks of CNN, NBC, BBC, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian and others. At no time have any of these western or GCC-based ‘journalists’ ever queried the authenticity of the staged video and photographic productions supplied by the White Helmets. Mainly, their videos have been produced to promote a No Fly Zone, or ‘Safe Zones’ in Syria by creating the false impression that somehow Syrian and Russian air forces are targeting civilians in a Blitzkrieg fashion, using crude “barrel bombs”. Outside of the White Helmets propaganda, there is scant evidence of these ‘barrel bombs’ supposedly dropped by the ‘Assad Regime’ every day according to the White Helmets.

In the run-up to the White Helmets’ failed Nobel Peace Prize bid in October, CNN even went so far as to plant a fake story about a barrel bomb hitting a “White Helmets Center” in Damascus. Increasing attention has also meant that some people are beginning to question the group’s incredible claim at the time that it had somehow saved 60,000 lives since it started in late 2013. In one letter first published at Canadian Dimension, retired academic John Ryan, PhD, a retired professor of geography and senior scholar at the University of Winnipeg, challenged this narrative, saying:

“It is the White Helmets themselves who have claimed that they have rescued 60,000 civilians; this has not been verified by any other source. Despite such a classic conflict of interest, searching for independent evidence and disqualifying self-serving claims from belligerent parties in Syria has been ignored in much of the western media. As such, this claim by the White Helmets without any verification is next to meaningless.”

Despite the questions, the group continued to raise this figure by about 10,000 every two months. They now claim to have “Saved over 82,000 lives” since they were formed in 2013. Where are the list of names, dates, times, locations and medical reports – so as to corroborate and cross-reference the casualties with the alleged Syrian and Russian airstrikes? What’s the problem – can’t $150 million buy a little bit of administration for the White Helmets? At no point have they ever been able to produce any data to back up there outlandish numbers claims – so we can only conclude that this claim, like so many other claims by the group, are fraudulent. But when has Hollywood ever let facts and data get in the way of a good war propaganda story?

In addition, the White Helmets claim that they have trained some 3,000 ‘volunteers’ throughout Syria, and yet their training facility is actually located in neighboring NATO member state Turkey, on the outskirts of the city of Gaziantep. This is the same Gaziantep that’s been described in reports as “the home to ISIS killers, sex traders…”

‘CIVIL DEFENSE’ FRAUD

Vanessa Beeley’s investigation eventually took her to Syria, where she was able to track down the REAL Syria Civil Defense organization. The US and UK creation of the “White Helmets” required that they steal the name “Syria Civil Defense” from a real existing civil defense group based in Syria. Unlike the fraudulent western construct, the REAL Syria Civil Defense was founded 63 years ago and is a registered member of the International Civil Defense Organization (ICDO) based in Geneva. For the REAL Syria Civil Defence you dial “113” inside Syria. The White Helmets have no such number because they are not a real ‘search and rescue’ organization. Their whole existence is a fraudulent construct. Beeley spoke at length to the REAL Syria Civil Defense and what the crew told her was shocking. During the ‘rebel’ (terrorist) invasion in 2012 of East Aleppo, future members of the White Helmets arrived accompanied by armed terrorists to attack the real Syria Civil Defense headquarters. They stole equipment, killed and kidnapped real civil defense volunteers as part of their operation to loot and destroy the existing institution.

Real civil defense workers also detailed how terrorist ‘Hell Cannon‘ attacks had besieged the Old City of Aleppo, which lies right on the border with the Al Nusra front lines and was a regular target for the ‘rebels’ continuous indiscriminate attacks against residents. Resident testimonies have echoed the same story: while Hell Cannons terrorized the civilians of Aleppo, the White Helmets did nothing – probably because they were with the terrorists who were launching these attacks. Terrorist Hell Cannons use an assortment of containers – gas canisters, water heater tanks packed full of explosives, glass, metal and any other limb-shredding materials – these were fired indiscriminately into civilian neighborhoods throughout Aleppo. These crude artillery guns also just happen to have the exact destructive footprint as the alleged “barrel bombs” which the White Helmets and western media are repeatedly saying are being fired by the “The Regime” (Assad) against civilians.  If the White Helmets are to be believed, Assad’s Barrel Bombs have an impact the equivalent of 7.6 on the Richter scale. This outrageous claim was actually made by White Helmets founder James Le Mesurier on CNN. In fact, 7.6 on the Richter scale is the equivalent of a hydrogen bomb, we begin to get a picture of the scale of the lies which the western narrative has spinning and which they have come to reply on in order to prosecute this dirty war. Preserving this and other key pieces of fiction is central to the US, UK and George Soros funded public relations management of the White Helmets – and essential to their entire Syria narrative which has been described by American writer Rick Sterling as something akin to a “Feel Good Hoax.”

Forget about actual ‘search and rescue’. That’s not the primary function of this ‘NGO’. If you need to know one thing about the White Helmets it’s this: marketing. A central part of the marketing campaign is images of men with beards looking up at the sky – presumably waiting for the next barrel bomb, or the media’s favorite term – the “double tap” (apparently, this is when a sinister Assad or Putin pilot returns immediately after an airstrike just to have another crack at the White Helmets).

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ALWAYS LOOKING UP: ‘Waiting for the next barrel bomb.’

In most of their videos, you will also see a large number of bearded men in jeans and T-shirts just standing around on the sidelines, always watching the camera, or looking busy – as if they are cognisant that filming is taking place. When we showed some of these videos to real first responders we were normally met with shoulder shrugs and cynical laughs. People who actually work in this trade will tell you that filming on a first responder call is a luxury no worker really has – aside from maybe a GoPro helmet cam. It’s just not something anyone in their right mind would think about very much if there were really people in need of assistance – and yet, this is all the White Helmets do, all day, every day. They film and produce well-edited emotive videos. Another aspect real first responders will point out to us is that most of the time, the White Helmets often look like they don’t know what they are doing – indicating either a lack of training or experience – which seems to at least contradict their lofty claims of rescuing 82,000 people  in three and half years – certainly that would provide more experience for 2,900 ‘volunteers’ than any other search and rescue worker on the planet. In other words, the White Helmets mythology and pantomime is not very credible to any serious observer. But it seems to be good enough for a Netflix audience, and sadly, good enough for the Academy, too.

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AWARD-WINNER: “We got the shot! No need for any first aid spinal procedure here.”

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STAGED: Many of the White Helmets’ child ‘rescue’ images are simply ridiculous. 

The other mandatory feature in the White Helmets marketing imagery where men with beards are running to or from a scene, they’re always carrying children over their shoulder. Again, when we showed many of these images to actual rescue workers, we were met with puzzled looks. Firstly, why does 99% of the White Helmets marketing imagery only feature small children? Are there not any adults out of the “82,000 saved” to be rescued from the rubble? The White Helmets claim they were only operational in early 2014, so that’s an average of 75 persons per day, everyday. Considering the amount of people they claim to have trained, spread out over Syria, and where actual air sorties have been flown – it seems like a near mathematical impossibility. As the White Helmets provide no incident data for the alleged 82,00 persons saved, there is no way to validate there sensational narrative. Also, you will rarely, if ever see the $150 million British-trained rescue crew ever use a spinal injury backboard – opting instead to just yank the children by the arm and throw them over the shoulder. When we showed these images to real first-responder workers, they were deemed not credible. So it’s safe to conclude that the White Helmets only care about one thing: pictures and videos – wired via satellite to CNN, the New York Times, or the BBC’s news desk.

SMART POWER & THE NGO COMPLEX

Still, despite the group’s obvious links to the US and UK governments, and to known extremists and terrorists – the western media continues to entertain this NGO as if it were a legitimate ‘Civil Defense’ organization. The pseudo NGO strategy is part of an over-arching western strategy which is related to the term Smart Power (following on from Soft Power) where western governments create shadow state organizations designed to co-opt and ultimately usurp actual state agencies – in effect weakening the real civil body by replacing it with a fake version of the original.

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DECEPTION: Early on, the White Helmets used images of women in order to market crowdfunding campaigns to gullible western audiences. 

In the calculus of war planners in the US, UK and France, even if they were unsuccessful in toppling the Assad government in Damascus, these fake NGOs would still be operation in “rebel” areas in the hopes that they might be viewed as legitimate civil organizations and would then replace the real ones.

After 5 years, the US or European authorities could then cite these organizations as legitimate deliverers of public service, thus giving western governments a much-needed foothold in governerates inside the target nation, in this case, Syria. Similar projects have been undertaken to replace municipal police forces with the “Free Syrian Police“, as well as western and GCC-sponsored projects in terrorist-held Idlib to create uniformed civil cleaning staff, and so on. Why doesn’t Netflix make a documentary exposing that? If they did, that would be real filmmaking; instead what we get is more public relations promotion for a failed Western foreign policy.

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LA LA LAND: White Helmet filmmakers Joanna Natasegara and Orlando Von Einsiedel basking in the glory of a job well done. 

By now, it should be obvious how this propaganda cycle has been functioning, although apparently, not obvious enough for Netflix’s award-winning filmmakers Joanna Natasegara and Orlando Von Einsiedel. The fact that their beloved White Helmets stole their name from an existing, legitimate and internationally recognized first-responder agency show be cause for alarm. For any journalist researching the White Helmets, you would think the first port of call would be to speak to the official certified civil defense body. This is what 21WIRE and Beeley did. Why didn’t Natasegara and Von Einsiedel bother to check this obvious line of inquiry? The fact they didn’t might be proof that the intention on their film was not to make a legitimate documentary, but rather to glorify to US-led narrative of the ‘moderate opposition’. By definition, Natasegara and Von Einsiedel’s work cannot rightly be called journalistic but propagandist. By promoting a pseudo ‘NGO’ funded by western government, and by giving succor to extremists, their film is directed against the Syrian people – which exactly characterizes the US and UK foreign policy in Syria since 2011.

If Natasegara and Von Einsiedel deserve any reward today it should really be the Leni Riefenstahl Award for Best Propaganda Film.

But even Nazi war propaganda filmmaker Riefenstahl could hardly image propaganda on this scale – a third sector NGO and integrated media arm,  attached to dozens of governments, paramilitary military units, intelligence agencies, hundreds of corporate media outlets, and with a multi-million dollar crowd-funding facility. If nothing else, the White Helmets operation is impressive in its scope. It’s the west’s template for building a Shadow State in target nations. If it’s successful in Syria, this formula will be recreated in other marginal hot zones around the globe. That’s why the White Helmets are being guarded so closely by the western establishment.

DOUBTS OVER AUTHENTICITY

Boston Globe columnist Stephen Kizner was one of many journalists who expressed disappointment over the Academy’s selection:

There is also the problem of obvious staging in many of the White Helmets’ supposed video rescues. The following is perhaps one of the most ridiculous. As with so many of their videos, the editing is highly misleading. In the following “Rag Doll” clip, we first see two separate views of the three men working on the rescue site – and then the edit suddenly cuts to the miraculous rescue of charming little 4 year old girl – supposedly emerging from under tons of concrete and rubble from a collapsed building. Miraculously, she is not crying and looks immaculate, while holding an equally clean rag doll. Then the edit cut jumps, and a little 3 year old boy suddenly appears from the exact same spot. Both children appear to have sustained no injuries, nor any visible cuts or bruises, and no dust. Not bad for being buried under tons of concrete, gravel and dust. Incredible, but par for the course in the completely improbable “first-responder” reality show that is the White Helmets.Watch:

After reviewing this video, it’s difficult to deny that it has all the hallmarks of a staged production piece, designed to tug at the hearts of a western public – conditioned to accept this ‘first responder’ narrative as sacrosanct, for fear of appearing callous in the face of this media-driven, multi-million dollar No Fly Zone’ public relations campaign. This is not the only fraudulent video released by the White Helmets, but even the existence of one fraudulent rescue video should be grounds to question all the group’s material.

Again, the whole purpose of these video and photos is to influence public opinion against the Syrian and Russian governments. Therefore the core mission of the White Helmets media campaign is influence western and Gulf audiences. Its objectives are as follows:

  1. To create public disfavour against the Syrian government.
  2. Maintain crippling western sanctions against Syria.
  3. Gain sympathy for jihad, recruit new fighters from Europe, GCC, Asia and other regions.
  4. Fabricate ‘evidence’ used to implicate the Syrian government and its allies in war crimes.
  5. Reinforce the narrative that Syrian and Russian Forces are deliberately targeting civilians,hospital and schools – and not terrorists.
  6. Blame Syria and Russia for war crimes (when in actuality, these crimes are committed by rebel-terrorists, White Helmets). 

SYRIAN CURVE BALLS

Back in 2003, one man was responsible for delivering the WMD lies that helped to fabricate the US and UK case for invading Iraq. His name was “Curveball”. His motives weren’t exactly straight forward: “My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime’s oppression.”

In Syria, the west have been constantly farming a series of curve balls – on call and ready to deliver whatever the US State Dept or the British Foreign Office need in order to grandstand in front of the UN Security Council or on the floor of Parliament.

The New York Times reported that during March and April on 2015, the White Helmets claimed that at least 20 ‘barrel bombs’ containing chlorine were dropped in six towns in northwestern Syria. It almost sounded as if the the US and UK were so desperate to establish Assad as crossing the Red Line, that they would go so far as to fabricate a case that chlorine bombs were used by “the regime”:

“Frustrated with the Security Council’s impasse over the issue, rescue workers and doctors are now working to bring evidence of chlorine gas attacks directly to the French, British and American governments for testing. The aim is to give states a solid basis for action against the attacks, in the Security Council or through quieter diplomatic pressure, said James Le Mesurier, the British director of a nonprofit group, Mayday Rescue, that trains and equips the White Helmets, Syrian volunteers supported by the British, Danish and Dutch governments.”

At the time, White Helmet founder Le Messerier was heavily involved in trying to fashion together a chemical weapons case against the Syrian government. In 2015. The NYT stated:

“Going directly to governments that have pushed for Mr. Assad’s ouster creates its own challenges. His allies may dismiss their evidence as politically tainted and can point to recent chlorine attacks in Iraq for which the government there blamed insurgents, not to mention the discredited American claims of an Iraqi chemical weapons program that were used to justify invading Iraq. To deter allegations of tampering or falsification, Mr. Le Mesurier and three Syrian doctors involved said they systematically documented the chain of custody from collection to handover. They have plenty of cases to work with. Since March 16, in Idlib alone, the White Helmets have documented 14 attacks with 26 suspected chlorine barrels that sickened scores of people.”

In the end, none of  this stuck, most likely because the White Helmets’ ‘evidence’ was either fabricated, or the ‘rebels’ (terrorists) themselves were the actual perpetrators of chlorine, mustard or sarin attacks – a fact which was born out through multiple investigations already. Once again – more fraud perpetrated by the White Helmets on behalf of the US and UK governments.

In September 2016, the White Helmets were also instrumental in trying to assign blame for an incident where a UN Aid Convoy was attacked outside of the town of Urm al-Kubra, west of Aleppo. The west were quick to blame it on the Russian and Syria militaries – despite the fact there was no evidence to implicate them.

As if by magic, the White Helmets were the first on the scene videoing among the flames. A Syrian Arab Red Crescent warehouse was also said to have been hit. 21WIRE later reported that indeed, the White Helmets had helped to stage the said ‘Russian Bombing’ scene outside of Aleppo – which was automatically accepted by the western mainstream media, John Kerry, Samantha Power and others, as ‘proof’ of Russian and Syrian guilt.

HOLLYWOOD ‘CHANGE AGENTS’

1 ClooneyOne of the White Helmets documentary’s biggest advocates is none other than Hollywood actor George Clooney (image, left). In the run-up to the Oscars, Clooney, along with his wife – celebrity human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney, personally campaigned on behalf of the film. It turns out, Clooney’s interest is more than just that of an liberal activist. AP reported that Clooney is in the process of producing a feature-film version of the “White Helmets.” He stated:

“The White Helmets are the heroes. So if I can help them out at all, and people can know about it, in any way possible, that’s a good use of celebrity, I think.”

As a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Clooney seems to relish in his role of celebrity humanitarian. Unfortunately, fellow members of the Council include an impressive line-up of war criminals and other dignitaries, like Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger, as well as a chief architect of the collapse of Libya and the dirty war in Syria, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

However, judging by Clooney’s devotion to the White Helmets, it’s pretty clear that he is either ignorant of what he is supporting, or worse – he is using his public profile to push a Deep State agenda. In September 2016, Clooney managed to get an audience with John Kerry and the US State Department in order to promote his new “anti-corruption” NGO called, The Sentry. Not surprisingly, the establishment’s globalist information outlet the Daily Beast was on hand (along with a prime segment which aired on CNN) to get the word out. Editor John Avlon writes:

“Getting Americans to care about human-rights atrocities half-a-world away is hard. Getting them fired up about confronting the corruption that fuels those slaughters is an order of magnitude harder. But that’s what actor George Clooney and human-rights activist John Prendergast are aiming to do with their new project,The Sentry.”

The Sentry, is supposed to help the poor people of South Sudan by ‘taking aim at government corruption.’ Clooney goes on to demonize the South Sudan government as utterly corrupt and redeemable only by way of the international community’ – presumably through the International Criminal Court in the Hague. What Clooney will not tell his fawning public is the CIA’s role in fomenting unrest in Sudan prior to its rather convenient partition in 2010. We say convenient because splitting the country effectively cut-off port access and therefore oil pipeline access for South Sudan of which China has been a major partner on the exploration of energy. This was followed by a dirty war in South Sudan with much of the evidence pointing to the CIA. TeleSur English reports:

“The CIA is using a mercenary warlord named Riek Machar, who has a long history of ethnic massacres and mass murder to his credit, to try and overthrow the internationally recognized government of President Salva Kiir for the crime of doing business with rivals of Pax Americana, the Chinese.”

Again, we hear the familiar tropes about ‘child soldiers’ and ‘mass rape’, and how, “we must act now” – all part and parcel of the neocolonial “helpless Africa” narrative. Clooney’s partner John Prendergast delivers emotive plea:

“The war erupted, it was a fire that just raged across the land…They’ll use attack helicopters. They’ll use rape as a tool of war. They’ll recruit child soldiers and go in and send them as cannon fodder into villages to kill people. The worst human-rights abuses being committed in the world. And this is what South Sudan has dealt with because of this fallout between these thieves over the last 2½ years.”

Watch global policeman Clooney, flanked by his celebrity friend Don Cheadle, unveiling his “forensic investigation” implicating the government of South Sudan:

Interestingly, Clooney’s Sentry Project is nested under the globalist think tank, the Center for Advanced Defense Studies and bankrolled by John Podesta’s Center for American Progress – a Washington DC-based think tank with ties to the military industrial complex. Peace activist and author David Swanson outlined Sentry’s precarious connections to America’s defense industry here.Here, we can point out that the policy of ‘evicting Chinese influence’ from Africa was included in the military directives outlined in US AFRICOM immediately after its official launch in 2007-2008. Similarly, billions in direct Chinese investment in Libya was thwarted by NATO’s illegal abuse of UN Resolution 1973 which led to the complete collapse of the Libyan state. Very quickly, we can see that Clooney’s celebrated “crusade against corruption” is very likely part of a public relations smoke screen to conceal US clandestine efforts to isolate Chinese interests in the Sudans, while nudging forward US and transnational corporate policy in South Sudan, with the ultimate goal of regime change in that country.

You can’t help but be reminded here of another similar Deep State public relations ploy centered around the exact same location back in 2012. There’s no better example of how Hollywood’s do-gooder war is waged than Kony 2012, described in Atlantic Magazine as a viral video campaign which “reinforces a dangerous, centuries-old idea that Africans are helpless and that idealistic Westerners must save them.” Like with Clooney’s Sentry Project, KONY 2012 leveraged the power of media and celebrity to manufacture public consent through an emotive public appeal, and collected millions in public donations in the process. In this case, the antagonist was the illusive warlord Joseph Kony, leader of the Lords Resistance Army. The only problem was, at the time in 2012 no one had actually seen Kony in 6 years. Still, the campaign lobbied president Obama to deploy US forces to Uganda “find Kony” in order to “saving the children”. Despite the collapse of the project following a very public meltdown by the charity’s founder, Jason Russell, the US still went and deployed US military assets to Uganda under an expansion of US AFRICOM operations in Africa. Mission accomplished. The genius of this was that it concealed the genocide and crimes against humanity carried out by President Obama’s good friend and Uganda’s ‘President for Life’ Yoweri Museveni, whose crimes have since been well-documented in powerful independent non-CIA film production called a Brilliant Genocide. It turns out that Museveni is guilty of all the things and more – which the west had laid on the ghost of Kony. A brilliant deception. Of course, the irony of this is mostly lost on Hollywood’s humanitarian jet-set, all of whom thought KONY 2012 was such a great idea when it was first launched.

What Kony 2012 achieved on a ‘activist’ and public relations level is exactly what The White Helmets documentary is doing – an expensive smokescreen to hide the real horrors of a conflict, namely, the destructive policies of western governments and their local ‘partners’ which foment trouble and strife. In the case of Syria, it’s the US, UK, Turkey, France, and GCC support of violent, armed extremists – who the White Helmets are exclusively embedded with. The cynical use of the classic American gospel hymn, “When the Saints Go Marching In” as the documentary’s theme song by filmmakers Natasegara and Von Einsiedel speaks to level of manipulation of the narrative (see the bottom of this article, with numerous photographs of White Helmet ‘saints’).

Regarding the White Helmets project, Clooney revealed something else in his rhetoric when he remarked:

Clooney said that as a celebrity, “I can’t change policy … but I can make things louder.”

This is an example of the power-activist political set in Hollywood.

We find similar language in an interview with White Helmets director Joanna Natasegara in 2016, at the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Malaysia while promoting her Oscar nominated film Virunga and its new foundation. Natasegara refers to herself as an “Impact Producer” (aka Change Agent) using documentaries to make a big impact by reinforcing or pushing a narrative. In many ways, this is antithetical to the whole process of filmmaking, especially in the research and discovery stages, and in the investigative aspects of historical documentary filmmaking – which is about documenting events but also about looking below popular political narratives to gain deeper insights, and not pushing political or policy outcomes. Power-activism is personified by numerous online marketing campaigns calling for a No Fly Zone in Syria. At the Oscar ceremony, both Natasegara and Von Einsiedel called for ‘an end to the war in Syria’ which everyone can agree on, but it rings hollow next to the words of persons like US Congresswomen Tulsi Gabbard and Tima Kurdi, the aunt of 3 yr old Alan Kurdi who washed-up on a beach to become the face of the tragic face of the migrant crisis. Both Gabbard and Kurdi appeared on global media this week calling for the US and its Coalition allies to STOP sending arms, cash and support to extremists and terrorist ‘rebels’ in Syria. Only this can bring an end to the war and allow refugees to to return to Syria said both Gabbard and Kurdi. This plea is real and reflects the facts on the ground, as opposed to the fake narrative constructed by Natasegara and Von Einsiedel, which carefully whitewashes all clandestine involvement by US, UK and its partners (who created and are funding the White Helmets) which has aided in the systematic destruction of Syria over the last 6 years, not to mention the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands. It is no coincidence that many members  of the White Helmets have extremist ties, and the fact that this is being covered-up by Natasegara and Von Einsiedel who are literally portraying the group as “saints” – speaks to the level of deception involved in this story. Now we can see Natasegara’s modus operandi with making the White Helmets film; it’s not so much about documenting history in the conventional sense, so much as it is about ‘making an impact’ politically – on behalf of the governments who created the White Helmets, which veers into the area of propaganda again.

Watch Joanna Natasegara in an interview here from the 2016 IACC Conference:

On the surface, Natasegara appears to be waging the classic international liberal crusade by fighting against mining, oil, and poaching, in the poor, permanently ‘developing’ countries like the Congo. No one will argue that the level of corruption in African countries can be extreme in some cases, but what are the real causes of institutional corruption in those lands? Indeed, “Stopping” them (corrupt officials) in Africa, but doing little to stop them at the actual corporate level in London, Belgium, New York or Washington DC. In fact, many of the biggest corporate donors to these ‘good causes’ projects are connected to the very same corporate behemoth that activists purport to be fighting against. This cycle of power activism feeds into the cycle of neocolonialism – in what researcher Cory Morningstar so rightly refers to as “the wrong kind of green.” As it turns out, the IACC is funded by none other than Transparency International (T.I.), one of the main players in the globalist “anti-corruption” syndicate, which is very much linked to the work of Hollywood activists like Clooney. In the past, T.I. has been accused of cooking its own books in its anti-corruption investigations, including an incident in 2008 where the organization used falsified data to try and frame the Chavez government in Venezuela during one of its anti-corruption investigations. This is a good example of NGO smart power being used to undermine a target nation. Clooney and Natasegara are just two of the many public faces who represent this network.Back in 2016, when the Panama Papers story broke, seemingly out of nowhere, the mainstream media utterly failed in analysing what they were really looking at. Yes, there’s plenty of corruption and shady shell companies in Panama (but no word of the giant offshore corporate maze located in Delaware), but was the endgame of that supposedly independent ‘investigation’? Amid all the mainstream media hype and ‘anti-corruption’ grandstanding, researcher James Corbett was one of the only people who asked the right question: “So why does this new mega-leak seemingly only expose those in the State Department crosshairs or expendable others and not a single prominent American politician or businessman? And what does this have to do with the OECD’s plan for a global taxation grid?” (LISTEN to my full interview last year with James Corbett here)

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Nazi propaganda filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl.

Natasegara also goes on about using “activists” and “citizen journalists” to achieve the desired ‘impact.’ Here she is alluding to the scores of Syrian “activists” and the White Helmets, who have supplied western media outlets with the images our governments want in order to reinforce the official narrative. Natasegara is promoting the exact tool she utilized in the deceptive Netflix project where all of the alleged stock ‘rescue’ footage was supplied to producers by the White Helmets themselves. Natasegara claims to have trained 21 year old White Helmet ‘activist’ Khaled Khatib in Turkey before sending him into Syria to shoot much of the footage. NPR claims that he ‘risked his life’ to shoot the film for Netflix. Khatib was later blocked from entering the US to attend the Oscar ceremony in Los Angeles. So the Netflix producers had no way of independently verifying what they’ve been given – effectively relying on al Qaeda affiliated individuals to supply them with made-to-order ‘rescue’ footage.

How can they call this a documentary?

In this case, it didn’t seem to matter to Joanna Natasegara and her co-producer Orlando Von Einsiedel whether its real or staged, so long as the White Helmets narrative was achieved.

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Despite the claims by Netflix producers, Natasegara and Von Einsiedel – purpose was to reinforce the US-led Coalition fake narrative on Syria which has never resembled the facts on the ground. The US-UK establishment could not have hand-picked better tools for this job than Natasegara and Von Einsiedel. If they were real filmmakers interested in the truth, they would have paused to question why this group was founded by a senior British Military intelligence officer, James Le Mesurier, why it is based in Turkey and not Syria, and why the group only operated exclusively in Al Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria), Arar al Sham (al Qaeda affiliate) and ISIS-held areas in Syria, why are White Helmets members routinely pictured with weapons, and with terrorists. The answer is simple to anyone with half a brain and who is being honest: the White Helmets are composed of mainly partisan extremists. That’s a fact.

Still, all of this is noticeably missing from Natasegara and Von Einsiedel’s storybook version of the White Helmets, which is inexcusable considering how there’s no shortage of readily available evidence pointing directly to White Helmets’ ties to terrorists. One has to assume that the filmmakers knew about the extremist links and the US-NATO funding of the group but chose to ignore this in favor of producing their expensive piece of propaganda, and as we saw this week, both were all too happy to lap up the awards – even though the fiction they created has aided in giving political cover to illegal weapons transfers by the west and GCC states and has also been instrumental in wrongly demonizing the Syrian government while further legitimizing US-led Coalition-backed terrorism in Syria.

Concealing the White Helmet fraud under the seemingly innocuous guise of “Free Speech”, “Free Press” or “Citizen Journalism” is the absolute dereliction of any journalistic inquiry or responsibility in vetting the footage supplied by the White Helmets.

“Freedom for journalists has to be absolute. There is no such thing as restrictions on media that work,” said Natasegara.

Apparently, Oscar winner Natasegara was not too keen on free speech after Youtube artist Tyranny Unmasked posted a video critical of the Netflix White Helmets trailer. It appears that Natasegara used YouTube’s communitarian censorship system to take down the video critical of her film. Watch:

Being British, one might hope that Natasegara could apply these lofty polemics to the UK – and ask why the government still controls journalists and press through the archaic practice of issuing D-Notices, or the government’s aggressive stance towards whistleblowers with UK authorities threatening imprisonment for simply handling leaked material, or perhaps even the Leveson Inquiry’s attempt at allowing state control over what’s left of the UK’s free press. Similarly, the anti-corruption crowd might consider challenging Barack Obama’s war on whistleblowing which saw freedoms roll back at a record clip over the last 8 years. Certainly, that’s no shining city on the hill, or a role model for the seemingly lowly, poor and hopelessly “corrupt” developing world nations that the globe-trotting Natasegara is after. Only last year, we learned how the Pentagon hired elite UK public relations firm Bell Pottingerpaying them $540 million to produce, among other items, fake al Qaeda propaganda videos – to further prop-up a failed US and UK foreign policy facade. Perhaps Natasegara, or Clooney could do an “anti-corruption” film explaining how many starving children could be fed for a month or how many schools could be built, or how many water wells could be drilled – with $540 million dollars of US taxpayer money.

That’s only one example to demonstrate how the NGO operatives ignore the mountains of institutional corruption in the US and Europe, and the destructive murderous military industrial juggernaut – in favor of trying to yank the rug out from under a government located in some poor African, Asian, or Middle Eastern country which the US and its partners have their eye on for regime change.

CROWD-FUNDING TERROR

One of the saddest parts of this whole story is also that the power of marketing and propaganda means that tens of thousands of unwitting members of the public have been duped into donating their hard-earned money for this dubious NGO. If the wider public knew what Aleppo residents already know – that the White Helmets function as a support group alongside known terrorists groups like Al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, Nour al-Din al-Zinki & ISIS and others (all known extremist groups operating inside of Syria),  the White Helmets would not be celebrated as humanitarian, but rather, they’d be condemned as a multimillion fraud, customized by the West in order to give cover to the illicit practice of arming and supporting ‘rebel’ terrorists by the US, UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others.

By all accounts, White Helmets video and photo propaganda has been instrumental in aiding in the recruitment of new terrorists – new fighters from the West, Middle East and Asia – who see the contrived news reports in their countries of origin and believe the false narrative being portrayed by mainstream media news agencies. In this way, you could say that because the media are not vetting any of this material and are defaulting into a Western foreign policy bias by spinning all of their stories into emotive productions that reinforce a NATO and GCC-led ‘regime change’ and completely contrived “moderate rebel” narrative – the media are complicit in helping to drive the recruitment of terrorists internationally. By anyone’s definition, they are providing material support and comfort to known violent, religious extremists terrorists. When you break it right down, that’s exactly what is happening here. Undoubtedly, Hollywood is guilty of this.

Lastly, to see the White Helmets fundamental terrorist connection, one need look no further than to its ‘President’ Raed Saleh.

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TERRORIST CENTRAL: Raed Saleh photographed with his close associate Mustafa al-Haj Yussef, leader of White Helmet Centre in terrorist-held Idlib province (Photo: al-Haj Yussef Facebook page)

Last month, 21WIRE investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley reported on White Helmet leader Raed Saleh’s close partner, Mustafa al-Haj Yussefleader of the White Helmets centre in the Al Nusra-occupied city of Khan Shaykhun, Idlib. The photo, above, clearly demonstrates the close relationship that Saleh shares with his friend and colleague Yussef, and apparently with the armed militant seen standing behind the two White Helmet leaders. On the 1st June 2014, White Helmet deputy Yussef called for the shelling of civilians during elections in Damascus.  He declares that this murderous act would be the “greatest declaration of revolution” .  

Is this the words of a “neutral, impartial, humanitarian”? Here we can see the White Helmets calling for direct violence against civilians who are doing nothing more than exercising their right to vote – in their own country. See the full story here.

So to even suggest that the White Helmets are “unarmed and neutral civilian volunteers” is tantamount to fraud. The fact that filmmakers Natasegara, Von Einsiedel and Netflix are using this false statement in their film and public relations material demonstrates outright deception on their part. 

It crucial to reiterate that the White Helmets are not a Syrian creation, but rather a product of US, British and NATO intelligence special project to use western conceived and western-funded NGO organizations to assist in the stated US-led Coalition foreign policy of ‘regime change’ for Syria by producing western and GCC-oriented propaganda designed to undermine the Syrian government and state. Founded by British military intelligence officer James Le Mesurier, a graduate of Sandhurst Military Academy. It is believed that all totalled including undisclosed funding and solicited donations, that the group has received well in excess of over $250 million dollars since coming online in late 2013. 

The following is list of known funding sources for the White Helmets as of October 2016:

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To anyone who bothers to look, the White Helmets extremist links are undeniable. Watch as Al Nusra and jihadi spokesman acknowledges the White Helmets as “Mujahadeen”:

Based on the evidence presented, and the images inserted below, one can safely conclude that at the very least, filmmakers Joanna Natasegara and Orlando Von Einsiedel and Netflix did zero due diligence when researching this multimillion dollar film production. Of course, that’s being generous. It seems more likely that they were fully aware that the White Helmets are attached to the multitude of extremist and terrorist groups – and conveniently ignored this fact in favour of constructing their propaganda narrative. Hence, a case could be made that these filmmakers and their distributor have knowingly provided promotion and political support to known terrorists – which is in direct violation of numerous US, European and International laws.

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White Helmet operative, seen here at a “moderate” extremist, Free Sryian Army, meeting in Idlib, clearly demonstrating political affiliation to a widely proclaimed non “moderate” militant group, unable to function without support from better armed & funded terrorist factions such as Nusra Front.  (Photo: Screenshot from video

Not only are the White Helmets embedded exclusively with extremists – they ARE extremists. Certainly, it is the choice of White Helmets members to also join extremist terrorist fighting groups, but by doing so, the White Helmets cannot rightly claim that their members are either neutral, nonpartisan, or ‘unarmed’. To claim otherwise constitutes cunning and deception on the part of the White Helmets and their promotional agents, including Netflix corporate marketing, and the film’s producers Joanna Natasegara and Orlando Von Einsiedel. If Netflix were to take this issue seriously, after reviewing readily available evidence they would remove this film from their distribution chain, and Natasegara and Von Einsiedel should return their award to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

The following are a series of over 50 visual exhibits which clearly indicate that the White Helmets are not neutral, and whose ranks are in fact filled with extremists, including those with memberships in US-Coalition-backed internationally recognized terrorist fighting groups operating throughout Syria… 

3.5 White Helmets Terrorists

White Helmet members are clearly pictured together with violent terrorists, and also taking part in heinous terrorists acts, as well as war crimes under the Geneva Convention:

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White Helmet-Terrorist fighting group dual membership:

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White Helmet-Terrorist fighting group dual membership:

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White Helmet-Terrorist group dual membership:

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As shown previously, a White Helmet speaking on behalf of the Western-backed ‘Opposition” pseudo state, in front of the “moderate” militant, Free Syrian Army, French colonial, “Syrian” flag:

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White Helmets with armed opposition acting in the role of ‘victim’ in the notorious staged “Mannequin Challenge” video:

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White Helmet-Terrorist group dual membership:

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White Helmet are armed:

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White Helmet with Terrorist disposing of mutilated bodies of Syrian National Army soldiers:

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White Helmet are armed and embedded with “rebel” (terrorist) fighters:

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White Helmet-Terrorist group dual membership:

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White Helmet with TerroristAl Nusra Front flying the terrorist flag:

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White Helmet-Terrorist group dual membership:

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US-UK funded White Helmets operatives gloating while taking part in kidnapping, torture and execution of Syrian National Army soldiers, a violation of Geneva Convention on war crimes:

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White Helmets pictured here working alongside with Nusra-ISIS terrorists:

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“Hand in Hand with Al Nusra” (al Qaeda in Syria):

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White Helmets -Terrorist dual membership:

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White Helmets -Terrorist dual membership:

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White Helmets -Terrorist dual membership:

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White Helmets -Terrorist dual membership:

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Possible White Helmets involvement of the Terrorist (by Nour al-Din al-Zinki) execution and beheading of 12 year-old Abdulla Issa:

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White Helmets -Terrorist dual membership:

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White Helmets -Terrorist dual membership:

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White Helmets -Terrorist dual membership:

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White Helmets -Terrorist dual membership:

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White Helmets -Terrorist dual membership:

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White Helmets -Terrorist dual membership:

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White Helmets embedded exclusively in ISIS and Terrorist-held areas:

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White Helmets -Terrorist dual membership:

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White Helmets ARE militants:

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White Helmets -Terrorist dual membership:

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Rebel media operative demonstrates support for ISIS in Syria:

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Here is a “opposition” media operative pictured together with 7 year-old Bana Alabed, the girl at the center of a highly coordinated agit-prop Twitter-media hoax where it was claimed Bana could speak English in 2016 when clearly she could not and her Twitter account was being run by adults for “anti-Regime”, “Anti-Russian” and “No Fly Zone” propaganda – all of which was blindly promoted by nearly every western media outlet including the BBC, CNNNBC, New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian and UK Telegraph, to name only a few. The Washington Post even went so far as to run the outrageous headline, How a 7-year-old Aleppo girl on Twitter became our era’s Anne Frank in a clear attempt to equate the liberation of Aleppo with the Jewish Holocaust of World War II.

Maybe filmmakers Joanna Natasegara and Orlando Von Einsiedel and Netflix will make their next documentary about Twitter sensation ‘Bana of Aleppo’? It certainly ticks all the same US-UK narrative boxes as the White Helmets…

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By blindly promoting the White Helmets, Hollywood celebrities like George Clooney and Ben Affleck are helping the terrorist cause in Syria…

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Special thanks to Clarity of Signal for collating White Helmets extremist evidence. 

Watch this video of White Helmets clearly alongside AL-QAEDA, torturing and carrying civilian to an untimely demise in Aleppo, Syria:

Watch this short documentary entitled, “The White Helmets – al Qaeda with a Facelift” by Steve Ezzedine for HANDS OFF SYRIA, drawing on research by Vanessa Beeley:

Watch this video presentation featuring Vanessa Beeley showing the White Helmets’ extremist links and criminality, and also eye witness reports of White Helmets abusing residents in East Aleppo:

 

[Patrick Henningsen is a writer, investigative journalist, and filmmaker and founder of the news website 21stCentury Wire.com. He is currently investigating issues on location in the Middle East and in Southern Europe. Patrick is a graduate of California State University at San Luis Obispo. Full Bio]

Bloodless Lies

The New Inquiry

November 2, 2016

By Lorenzo Raymond

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This is an Uprising, a widely celebrated new book about how social movements change history, distorts their histories to celebrate non-violence

The black revolt of 2014 was a turning point in how Americans discussed the use of force in social movements. In the pages of the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates acknowledged that “violence works.” Rolling Stone and the Huffington Post echoed much the same sentiment. Laci Green–a YouTube star and one of the “30 most influential people on the Internet,” according to Time–posted a popular video drawing favorable comparisons between the Ferguson riots and the revolution depicted in The Hunger Games. This sea change was led by the movement itself as African American youth in Ferguson rejected Al Sharpton and other older leaders, partly due to disagreement on strict nonviolence.

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Mark Engler and Paul Engler, This Is an Uprising. Nation Books. 2016. 368 pages.
The notable exceptions to this trend were those who spoke for the state. These parties advocated for nonviolent action in a most conspicuous way. On the eve on the announcement of the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson, the killer of Mike Brown, Attorney General Eric Holder solemnly intoned that “history has shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence.” In an ABC interview on the same day, President Obama urged that the “first and foremost” responsibility for Americans reacting to the verdict was to “keep protests peaceful.”

It shouldn’t be necessary to remind people of major public discussions from two years ago, but America is a notoriously forgetful nation. And when it comes to matters of protest, politics, reform, and revolt, many people are invested in this kind of forgetting. The stated purpose of Mark and Paul Engler’s new book This Is an Uprising (2015) is to work against this historical amnesia. The Engler brothers profess to build “a healthy movement ecology [which] preserves the memory of how past transformations in society have been achieved.” This is a worthy goal, and the brothers appear well-placed to realize it: one is a professional community organizer while the other is a fixture of progressive publications including Dissent and Yes! Magazine. The book has been praised effusively by lefty celebrities, including Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein, as the new authoritative text for mass civil disobedience. Yet rather than building on the nuanced understanding of street tactics that developed in the wake of Ferguson, the Englers selectively distort social movement history in a blind commitment to a particular kind of direct action.

The opening chapters are an introduction to the modern history of tactical pacifism as embodied in the practice of Martin Luther King’s Birmingham campaign and, later in the 1960s, by the theories of political scientist Gene Sharp. The authors contend that both these figures abandoned religious nonviolence to develop a rational, realist praxis known as “civil resistance,” not “pacifism.” The principle reason for this name change is that Gene Sharp rejected the P-word, arguing that the term only applied to private individuals operating from spiritual inspiration. The Englers affirm that Sharp’s “politics of nonviolent action” are distinct from pacifism because the latter is essentially apolitical.

What the Englers fail to acknowledge, however, is that virtually all the 20th century activists whom Sharp and his school hold up as role models did call themselves pacifists. A.J. Muste, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King, and even Daniel Berrigan (who for a time defied strict Gandhism by fleeing imprisonment after an act of property destruction) all called themselves pacifists. When scrutinized, the switch from “pacifism” to “nonviolent action” appears to be a case of re-branding in response to the poor reputation pacifism had among young people by the end of the 1960s. This was hardly the first time pacifism was renamed rather than critically challenged: Leo Tolstoy referred to the use of civil disobedience without violence as “non-resistance.” Gandhi rejected that name, but employed essentially the same strategy; Tolstoy and Gandhi exchanged correspondence and agreed on practically all points.

In the 21st century, the term du jour is “civil resistance” and sometimes “people power,” yet the method’s founding father is still considered to be Gandhi. It also seems significant that in spite of “breaking from the earlier traditions of moral pacifism,” as the Englers put it, many of the major proponents of civil resistance, from Gene Sharp to George Lakey to Bill Moyer to Chris Hedges, come from highly religious backgrounds.

In addition to a re-branding, “civil resistance” is also a misbranding. The term is adopted from Thoreau’s 1849 essay “On Resistance to Civil Government,” but his use of “civil” referred to the type of domestic government being resisted, not to the method of civility deployed. Thoreau himself later said that John Brown’s violent lack of civility was the best thing that ever happened to the abolitionist movement.

These contradictions aside, the Englers trace how “civil resistance” has become increasingly accepted in mainstream political science. To demonstrate this, they introduce us to Erica Chenoweth, now one of the most celebrated social movement theorists working in the field. Chenoweth got her start producing the widely cited study Why Civil Resistance Works (2011) in collaboration with Maria J. Stephan of the U.S. State Department. According to the Englers, the study proved that “nonviolent movements worldwide were twice as likely to succeed as violent ones.” But the sample size of the study is far too narrow to prove such a sweeping claim. There are no civil rights or labor struggles included in the Chenoweth data set, which is focused exclusively on regime change. And, as Peter Gelderloos pointed out in his book The Failure of Nonviolence (2013), the outcomes of the nonviolent revolutions cited by Chenoweth have little to do with social justice or liberation. At best they replace one oligarchy with another, with no radical change in social relations or even net gains in quality of life.

At one point, the Englers note that the same political science prize that Chenoweth won–the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award–was previously bestowed on Henry Kissinger. This, for them, is the height of irony: Chenoweth is, after all, the opposite of the Kissingers of the world. But while they may represent different sides of the aisle in terms of American political divisions, Chenoweth’s work is, in many ways, just as useful to the U.S. empire.

At the height of the Cold War, the government used Kissinger’s work to justify the “hard power” of the arms race and violent intervention against communist regimes. Today Chenoweth’s work helps to justify–and in this case, mystify–Obama’s “soft power” agenda of “democracy promotion” exercised through seemingly benign agencies like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP)–the former organization was recently caught covertly organizing against the Castro government in Cuba. And while direct U.S. government involvement with pacifist academics is a relatively new development–emerging in the mid-2000s, around the same time that Gelderloos first observed that “nonviolence protects the state”–their financial relationship goes back at least to Gene Sharp’s first doctoral work in the late 1960s, which was funded by the Department of Defense.

But if the American empire promotes strictly nonviolent movement-building to overthrow its enemies, wouldn’t that demonstrate that it’s as powerful a method as its proponents say it is? The short answer is no. When civil resistance works–and when the U.S. government deploys it abroad–it’s almost always in combination with more violent forms of pressure. To illustrate this, one need look no further than the Yugoslav movement to unseat President Slobodan Miloševi?, which figures prominently in Chenoweth’s famous study and takes up more than thirty pages in This Is an Uprising. In the Englers’ version, this regime change is primarily attributable to Otpor, a “leaderless” student group from Serbia. Otpor promoted nonviolence in the Sharpian model, with an official policy to submit to arrest and abjure any kind of self-defense, even when the police physically abused them. In this way, they won the sympathy of the public and even the Serbian establishment.

But Otpor didn’t operate in a vacuum. Not only did they overthrow Miloševi? in the period when he had just lost a war with NATO, but also, in the midst of Otpor’s campaign, Miloševi? was being challenged by the armed insurgency of the UÇPMB (successor group to the Kosovo Liberation Army). On top of this, militant groups in Montenegro threatened to secede if he was re-elected. The Englers quote Otpor veterans’ claims that the NATO raids undermined the opposition and strengthened the regime, but the record shows that Otpor prospered in the aftermath of the bombing. One prominent civil resistance study acknowledges that “a number of middle and higher-ranking police and army officers made secret pacts with the democratic opposition and helped the movement forward.” Furthermore, Otpor’s victory was not strictly nonviolent: Anti-Miloševi? protesters rioted in October 2000 when the president refused to concede the election. The Englers admit, in passing, that things “got a little out of hand,” but they fail to describe the full extent of the insurrection: not only was there arson and other property destruction in Belgrade, but also the fact that an Otpor supporter killed a civilian by driving over him with a bulldozer.

This cherry-picked example of civil resistance winning its demands occurred in a context where both NATO and an armed guerilla group simultaneously made the same demand. And yet, under today’s political science taxonomy, this is what’s considered a nonviolent victory. Such dubious classification is common in the civil resistance world: Peter Ackerman, the venture capitalist who has funded much of Gene Sharp’s work, once claimed that Ukraine’s Euromaidan movement should be considered nonviolent because only a minority of the protesters threw firebombs and brandished guns.

A good faith argument for pacifist success in such cases would credit the intervening factors as a diversity of tactics supporting a nonviolent core, or attribute it to what is known in social movement theory as the “radical flank effect,” which argues that the presence of radical militants in a social movement helps make the less militant actors seem reasonable and worthy of having their demands met. Yet not only do the Englers undervalue such phenomena, they actively denounce them.

In spite of primarily advocating for nonviolent direct action, the Englers express support for electioneering, stating that while it is a separate tactic, it can complement civil resistance. If they are genuinely non-ideological strategists, they should take the same position towards guerilla activity. But, while the Englers repeatedly speak of the need for movements to “escalate,” they jerk back from any overlap with property destruction. This flinching is excused with a fable of the radical environmental advocacy movement Earth First! in the 1990s. The Englers paint the picture of a movement with a macho fetish for violence that was set right by the influence of the more moderate feminist Judi Bari, who enforced nonviolence and built the populist Redwood Summer campaign of 1990, winning political victories against logging in the Pacific Northwest. This success, the Englers claim, was in marked contrast with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), the monkeywrenching eco-saboteurs who left defected from Earth First! after the rise of Bari.

The ELF is portrayed as a gang of clowns who accomplished nothing besides getting themselves imprisoned. Yet the Englers also tell us that “in the end, Redwood Summer did not produce immediate legislative gains.” The best they can claim for the nonviolent campaign is “a 78 percent drop in logging in national forests.” The ELF began carrying out its arson and sabotage attacks on the logging and tourism industries in the Pacific Northwest in 1996; these years of victory were among ELF’s peak years of activity, when it was clearly functioning as the radical flank of Earth First! But the Englers’ attitude towards militants is eliminationist, not just separatist: the ELF shouldn’t have just left Earth First!, they should have ceased to exist at all. Such absolutism is completely contrary to Bari’s actual policy: “Earth First!, the public group, has a nonviolence code,” she wrote in 1994, “monkeywrenching is done by [the] Earth Liberation Front […] Civil disobedience and sabotage are both powerful tactics in our movement.”

The double standards that the authors apply between violent and nonviolent actors undermine their claims of unbiased pragmatism. When pacifist organizers provoke violent repression, the Englers regard it as a necessary cost of the campaign–“leading proponents of civil resistance emphasize that strategic nonviolent action […] may result in serious injuries and even casualties”–but when black blocs draw repression, it’s completely unacceptable. ACT UP are praised as “desperate, aggressive, and often exceptional young men,” who had the courage to risk “potentially alienating the very people that advocates want to win over.” The ELF, on the other hand, are pictured as fanatics with no strategy. When the civil rights movement employed “often unpopular” tactics, generating “overwhelmingly negative” reaction in public opinion polls, this was admirable; when the Weather Underground and other Vietnam-era militants defied public opinion, they were simply out-of-touch adventurists (even though the latter’s action led to massive troop withdrawals and a constitutional amendment to lower the voting age).

The Englers, it must be noted, have attempted to apply their precepts, not merely theorize them. In the wake of Occupy Wall Street, they helped organize the 99% Spring campaign, a coalition dominated by Moveon.org that aimed to put “hundreds of thousands” of people in the streets to change foreclosure policy. Coalition spokesman and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) executive Stephen Lerner promised to “engage the millions of people we need to do [sic] to build the kind of movement we need at this time in history.” According to him, this was a job that Occupy was not capable of doing without their guidance. In the end, the 99% Spring mobilized a few thousand people–far less than Occupy did nationwide–and had no impact on banking foreclosure policies, which remained abysmal. More recently, the brothers were involved with a nearly identical coalition–Democracy Spring/Democracy Awakening–based around campaign-finance reform. Initially, Democracy Spring seemed more tactically ambitious with a program of organizing mass civil disobedience at the Capitol Building. However, press coverage of the arrests turned out to be so meager that most of the campaign’s supporters were left distraught.

As historians and theorists of social movement, the Englers might have been able to see this failure coming, since they actually describe a precedent for their ineffectual campaigns in This Is an Uprising. In his 1962 project in Albany, Georgia, Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) left a yearlong campaign with no tangible civil rights advances achieved. King had been thwarted by Chief of Police Laurie Pritchett, who capitalized on SCLC’s nonviolent strategy by avoiding any appearance of brutality and de-escalating conflict between police and protesters, thereby pre-empting any dramatic scenes that could draw national attention. King’s reputation within the movement declined until the spectacular victory of the following year’s Birmingham campaign. The Englers spend over twenty pages on Birmingham, promising to demonstrate just why it succeeded while Albany failed, but they never do.

In truth, the Birmingham campaign benefitted from having both a police force and a protest movement that was markedly less peaceful than in Albany. King wasn’t able to get consistent media coverage until after protests became, as Taylor Branch put it, “a duel of rocks and fire hoses.” One of King’s aides, Vincent Harding, later acknowledged that the black youth who came to dominate the campaign’s street action were “the children of Malcom X” and that their escalation to “a burning, car-smashing, police-battling response” marked Birmingham as “the first of the period’s urban rebellions.” Historian Glenn Eskew wrote that “the aftermath of national protest, international pressure, and inner-city riot convinced a reluctant Kennedy administration to propose sweeping legislation that, once passed as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, marked a watershed in race relations.”

Yet these events of the Birmingham campaign are never mentioned in the Englers’ book in any form. It is here that the brothers step into outright dishonesty: they know very well that the scholarly consensus on Birmingham is that the violent protesters made an invaluable contribution (Eskew’s book is one of their sources). Yet in spite of spending a tenth of their book’s text on Birmingham, they refuse to even acknowledge the violent protesters’ existence.

Such historical censorship rationalizes the choreographed civil disobedience that the Englers help organize today, which quarantines “good protesters” from “bad protesters.” This, in turn, enables the same counter-strategy that Laurie Pritchett employed so effectively against King in Albany. What the Englers call “discipline” is actually de-escalation that facilitates police crowd control. Indeed, there is now a fully developed police doctrine known as “negotiated management” based on the avoidance of direct conflict with protesters. The National Lawyers’ Guild official, Traci Yoder, has written that negotiated management “is in many ways more effective […] in neutralizing social justice movements” than overt state repression.

But while the brothers focus on the SCLC at length, they fail to discuss the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who, the brothers passingly admit, pushed SCLC into its most productively confrontational actions. This is not only because the history of SNCC began with Gandhian practice, but also because it rapidly progressed beyond it. Although its militancy is sometimes attributed to Black Power-era missteps, SNCC’s commitment to a genuinely grassroots politics led it to work with openly armed African Americans as early as 1961 in Monroe, North Carolina, as well as with more discreetly armed black peoples all over the South. By spring 1964, SNCC associates in Cambridge, Maryland were having gunfights with the National Guard and one of the group’s advisers, Howard Zinn, noted that the movement had reached “the limits of nonviolence.” But it was crucial that those limits were reached, or there wouldn’t have been a Civil Rights Act.

In spite of its name, SNCC’s principles always had less to do with nonviolence than with organizing from the bottom-up. The group’s guiding light was Ella Baker, arguably the most important African American leader of the 20th century. As many have noted, Baker preached neither strategic nonviolence nor strategic violence. Drawing from her decades of experience, Baker counseled SNCC organizers to distance themselves from institutional power; they might maintain dialogue with the establishment left–trade unions and NGOs tied into what she called “the foundation complex”–but they should be wary of entering into partnerships with them. Instead they should follow the lead of working-class communities on the ground. This repeatedly led SNCC organizers away from nonviolence. Then as now, serious movements make serious enemies (think of the shootings last year in Charleston and Minneapolis) and self-defense quickly becomes paramount for frontline activists. Baker’s longtime friend and biographer Joanne Grant recounted that as pacifism faded away in SNCC, Baker “turned a blind eye to the prevalence of weapons. While she herself would rely on her fists […] she had no qualms about target practice.” At the same time, the failure of peaceful reform logically led oppressed communities towards insurrection.

It is often said that without the guidance of an anti-authoritarian and non-ideological figure like Ella Baker, the Black Power militants of SNCC began to lose perspective. Yet it can equally be said that the pacifists lost their way as well. The cause of social justice in America has been suffering from believing the former but not reckoning with the latter for the past forty years.

 

[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City. Lorenzo blogs at Diversityoftactics.org]