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Don’t get confused, in Ecuador the people support Correa and the Citizens’ Revolution

August 18, 2015

By Santiago Escobar

Ecuador Article

Photo: On April 15, the coordinator of Pachakutik, the political front of CONAIE movement,
met with banker and right-wing politician, Guillermo Lasso. Pachakutik and Lasso
agreed to rally against the government.

On August 13th, 2015 bankers, right-wing groups, few indigenous people, foreign funded NGOs, “radical leftists”, local and international corporate media, called to a general strike against the government of President Rafael Correa, but did not succeed in their destabilization attempts.

This plot started as a “marcha indigena” (“indigenous rally”) during which people supposedly marched over 700 kilometers across several provinces to finally reach the capital of Ecuador, Quito. However, in fact most participants traveled by SUV and gas-guzzling trucks owned by infamous CONAIE and Ecuarunari members. ‘Infamous’ because all their glory and revolutionary past vanished when these historic indigenous organizations succumbed to the old elites and joined the right wing agenda lead by banker Guillermo Lasso, who according to Wikileaks is a key contact and has strong ties to the US Embassy in Ecuador.

Don’t get confused the current CONAIE and Ecuarunari are no longer the same from the 1990s and 2000s when they stood up and fought against neo liberal governments.

Why they protest

In June 2015 wealthy elites claimed that two new bills aimed at addressing inequality and the concentration of wealth, would affect small business, families assets and all kind of entrepreneurship. In fact however, these bills would only impact less than 2% of the Ecuadorian population and no poor and middle class families. President Correa opted to temporarily withdraw the bills in an effort to promote a national debate around the pressing problem of inequality.

In this context the leadership of CONAIE and Ecuarunari not just met with banker Lasso, but also got public support from the notorious far-right mayor of Guayaquil, Jaime Nebot, the leader of Partido Social Cristiano (PSC). His PSC party has been linked to the disappearance and torture of labor, indigenous and student activists in the 90s. Part of the opposition group is also Andres Paez who has strong ties to Chevron Oil Corporation.

In this hodgepodge, Jorge Herrera head of CONAIE and Carlos Perez of Ecuarunari, both have used the same rhetoric as the ultra-reactionary Venezuelan opposition, calling to defend “freedom”, and fighting against a supposed dictatorship of Correa and to avoid becoming as Venezuela. Furthermore, both Herrera and Perez made statements against the proposed two new bills. Carlos Perez even stated that Ecuador and Venezuela are ‘like Germany and Italy’ (alluding to fascism), and that all current progressive governments in Latin America especially Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia are ‘fake leftists who are only making people poorer’.

Furthermore, these opposition groups have not accepted the invitation by Correa’s government to have an open and public dialogue, only confirming that this is part of a regional plan aiming to topple the revolutionary governments across Latin America. This real objective is also revealed by the opposition now calling the “marcha indigena” to become an indefinite general strike, which includes road blocks and violent rioters, perfectly synchronized on the heels of right-wing demonstrations against taxes on the ultra-rich.

Already in 2014 the president correctly identified that “People must prevail over capital,” adding that politics is about whose interest governments serve, asking the questions: “Elites or the majority? Capital or humankind? The market or society?

Policies and programs depend on who holds the balance of power.”

What the Correa administration has achieved

Ecuador now collects three times more in taxes than it did in 2006 (when tax evasion was rampant), allowing the government to invest in much needed infrastructure and services. As a result of this social change, President Correa has been rated as one of the most popular presidents in Latin America throughout his administration. Furthermore, political stability has returned to the Andean nation.

Correa and his supporters have won 10 elections since 2007. Promoting equality and tackling discrimination has also been given greater emphasis than in the country’s past.

This has boosted the use of different native languages, which were formerly endangered. Laws to protect minorities have also been implemented, including a law which compels companies to reserve four percent of jobs for people with disabilities, and other quotas for minority ethnic groups – such as indigenous communities and Afro-Ecuadorians – in order to narrow inequality gaps. The same has been applied in the country’s higher education system, where indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorean community inclusion has soared.

The government has also invested more than $200 million in Intercultural Bilingual Education in order to maintain and encourage indigenous languages since the start of the Citizen’s Revolution.
Also, with the new Media Law – approved in 2013 – the indigenous communities have greater access to community media. The law assigns 34 percent of the country’s radio and TV frequencies to community media. So far, 14 radio frequencies have been assigned to each of the country’s indigenous groups.

As an Ecuadorian migrant living in Canada for the past 6 years, every time I visit Ecuador I am able to see the massive re-distribution of wealth that has taken place. Now the majority of people have access to quality services. Especially the access to health and education needs to be highlighted, as 8 years ago this was only a privilege of the few. After decades of being one of the poorest countries in the region, the current government has undertaken a series of deep reforms, which have delivered remarkable changes for Ecuador’s long-excluded majority, particularly for indigenous peoples.

Before the citizen’s revolution, the Ecuadorian economy was collapsed forcing many to migrate, but today all Ecuadorian migrants are again part of the country being able to elect members of Parliament to represent our particular needs and create policies to make our lives better while living abroad. This allows us to maintain a real connection and participation with our homeland; and with numerous benefits in place for returning migrants, many are finally able to return home.

Ecuador’s fight for sovereignty has come at a price

Ecuador has shown an anti- colonial/imperialist foreign policy in order to tackle Western domination. The Correa government shut down the U.S. military base in Manta, asserted control over the country’s oil and other natural resources, taking them away from domination by multinationals, and canceled the punishing international debt. In the past three times as much was spent on debt repayment than on social services. Affecting big players in the financial world, specially US and European elites.

However, this fight for sovereignty has come at a price. On Sept. 30th 2010, a police strike ended up in a violent revolt against President Correa, who was held hostage and fenced in a hospital for several hours. Policemen openly called to assassinate President Correa the outcome of the clashes resulted in 10 deaths. Documents emerged showing massive U.S. funding for policemen and opposition groups, through USAID.

Despite this direct threat, Correa continued to assert an independent foreign policy; one of his boldest moves was granting Julian Assange asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012, a move that angered the U.K., Swedish and US governments.

Today the right wing opposition continues to receive funding from NGOs protecting US interests. According to the Bolivian and Ecuadorian heads of state, the “empire” is attacking Latin American nations with “soft coups”.

Bolivian President Evo Morales accused the Ecuadorean right of using Indigenous movements to topple President Rafael Correa, and urged them not to be treated like instruments.
“I want to tell my Indigenous brothers in Ecuador to not allow themselves to be used against the Ecuadorean government,” said President Morales

Today the rich fight against the government of the poor

When you have a well-organized plot implemented by small indigenous groups, bankers, right wing parties, “radical leftists”, local and international corporate media and the US Embassy against a revolutionary government of the people, you clearly have to choose a side.

During the coup against Allende in Chile there were only two sides. During the coup against Chavez in Venezuela there were only 2 sides. During the coup against Zelaya in Honduras there were only 2 sides.

Today in Ecuador, there are only 2 sides. The side of the people and the citizen’s revolution or the side of the right wing indigenous traitors that share the same ideas, speech and demands as the bankers and the elites.

As president Correa put it: “Before the poor had to fight against the government of the bankers. Today, the rich fight against the government of the poor, for the ‘crime’ of seeking a bit of social justice”.

 

[Santiago Escobar is an Ecuadorian citizen living in Canada since 2009. He has spent the last 4 years working on migrant workers’ rights with migrant farm workers in the Niagara region. Prior to this Escobar organized with Social Movements in both Ecuador and Venezuela implementing People’s Media platforms. In 2009 Escobar became a whistleblower in the environmental law suit against the Oil giant Chevron exposing Chevron’s corruption and dirty tricks operations in Ecuador. The evidence provided have been used in international courts exposing Chevron’s corruption. Escobar also serves as the coordinator of http://www.antichevron.ca/ campaign in Canada.]

 

 

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

TeleSUR

February 11, 2015

by teleSUR / Heather Gies and Cyril Mychalejko

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

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

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

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

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

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

Except it didn’t happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A pogrom by definition is an organized massacre.

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

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

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

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

Unmasking Social Media – Digital Democracy without Guarantees

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

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

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

Maria Corina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Further reading:

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

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

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

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

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

Art as a Weapon for Destabilizations | MTV Glorifies Venezuela’s Barricade Protests in New Reality TV Show

“Exploited youth are the sacrificial lambs of the ruling classes in the 21st century…. Those born into today’s ‘young world’ are indiscriminately lusted after and seduced by predatory marketing agencies bankrolled by the world’s most powerful corporations and oligarchs, via their foundations. Thus, in stealth synchronicity, the brilliant (albeit pathological) sycophants have created a world where corporate pedophilia runs rampant and indoctrination of youth is perfected and normalized. One cannot deny such a virtuoso performance. Nor can one deny the profound repercussions of such vulturesque exploitation.” – Cory Morningstar, Excerpt from the Divestment Series

WKOG admin: On September 17, 2015 WKOG published the article SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire. From the article:

“Utilizing the consumer culture’s celebrity fetish to sell war (and the illusory “green economy“) is a vital marketing strategy of Purpose. In the case of #withSyria, famed street artist Banksy has reworked his “Young Girl” famed graffiti stencil in support of the campaign.”

Let the pattern be duly noted. Of critical significance is that Rebel Music appears to brilliantly utilize/co-opt Indigenous voices to legitimize it’s brand.

Informacional Desnudo

December 19, 2014

By Z.C. Dutka

 

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Santa Elena de Uairen, December 18th, 2014. (Venezuelanalysis.com) – US entertainment channel MTV has signed a contract with a Venezuelan media group to purchase extensive footage of the violent anti-government protests that wracked the South American nation earlier this year, to be featured in the new reality series Rebel Music.

The footage, captured by citizen reporters with GoPro cameras, show masked and shirtless men throwing handmade grenades and wreaking general havoc in a coordinated effort to force president Nicolas Maduro’s resignation that lasted from February to May this year.

43 people were killed during that time, the majority while trying to clear rubbish from or cross the barricades set up by demonstrators. Numerous public institutions including hospitals, universities, and transportation agencies were also burnt down in protest.

Reporte Confidencial became known for editing the GroPro material nightly, adding in a pumping dubstep track befitting a London club scene, and posting the finished videos to YouTube, where they received thousands of views from around the world.

It is this material MTV now seeks to own.

The reality show Rebel Music claims to be inspired by young people who “are raising their voices to demand change for a better future…. often putting their lives on the line,” according to the show’s website.

With this premise, many Venezuelans fear the show’s narrative will grant hero status to those hardcore protestors- whose tactics were so violent they effectively drove away a majority of opposition supporters, according to polls.

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Image: Otpor in Venezuela, March, 2013

Video below: MTV presents OTPOR! with Free Your Mind Award at the 2000 MTV Europe Music Awards:


 

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Above: Veran Mati? wears Otpor! t-shirt during MTV Europe Awards, 2000

Furthermore, as the White House approves sanctions against Venezuelan government officials, others accuse the MTV program of dovetailing too neatly with US foreign policy.

 

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“The series seems to mix legitimate struggles of people who fight to keep their identities alive, or women who feel threatened by religious laws, in contrast with the protests of Venezuela and Iran, countries whose oil wealth the United States seeks to control,” Venezuelan political analyst Luigino Bracci wrote in an op-ed for Caracas newspaper Alba Ciudad last week.

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Above image: Facebook banner

The series, which first aired last month, will also feature voices of dissent in Myanmar, Iran, Senegal, Turkey and US Native American communities.

Bracci also opined that the segments seem carefully selected to avoid featuring any challenge to the United States government or the global capitalist system.

“To distract us from the protests of Ferguson, Mexico, Greece and Madrid, there is nothing better than directing our sights elsewhere,” he said.

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The US media has made no effort to hide its contempt of Venezuela’s socialist government since the Hugo Chavez’s election in 1999, while Chavez, in turn, repeatedly accused Washington of funding subversive movements to remove him from office.

Shepard Fairey and USAID

Bracci also pointed out the paradoxical use of red stars and other archetypal communist symbols, which he attributes to the show’s executive producer, Shepard Fairey.

Fairey is the pop art empresario behind the OBEY campaign and the red and blue stencil portrait of Barack Obama, which featured the word HOPE and was used universally throughout the US president’s initial campaign.

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MTV program show’s executive producer, Shepard Fairey

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Above: Shepard Fairey (right) with MTV World General Manager and Senior Vice President Nusrat Durrani (left). Image via Rebel Music

Though he calls himself apolitical, Fairey has been criticized for reproducing communist Cuban and Korean poster art with slight twists and selling them as his own. In a 2008 interview with the magazine Mother Jones, reporter Liam O’Donoghue also called the artist out on appropriating images from social movements, usually created by artists of color, and stripping them of their political messages.

In a promotional video, Rebel Music features Venezuelan reggae artist OneChot whose 2010 video for the English-language single “Rotten Town” generated controversy for its depiction of Caracas as an Inferno of crime and murder, replete with images of dead and dying children.

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Though the reggae singer also claims to abstain from politics, his music is more popular with Venezuela’s privileged class, the same sector that widely supports the opposition.

“You are not free of violence anywhere. That is why I fight for change in Venezuela,” OneChot says to the MTV cameras.

While many Caracas artists would be eager for such international exposure, some mistrust the pre-determined script many reality shows are known to possess, believing it may spell out further US defamation of Venezuela’s socialist leaders.

After being approached by MTV correspondents to represent the pro-Chavez version of events, underground hip hop artist Arena La Rosa announced her refusal on her Facebook page.

“My dignity and my ideas are worth more than a million [page] views, so I have wisely decided not to participate,” the chavista rapper said.

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Underground hip hop artist Arena La Rosa

On the same day La Rosa posted her response, the Associated Press released documents detailing the US government’s failed attempt at infiltrating the Cuban hip hop scene, by way of the developmental organization USAID.

According to the AP, Washington had sought to build a network of young people seeking “social change” to spark a resistance movement against the government of Cuban president Raul Castro.

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Incidentally, Maduro has accused numerous opposition leaders of attempting the same kind of subterfuge during February’s unrest. A committee of victims and their families has even assembled to seek justice from those public figures who they believe encouraged such extreme tactics.

Meanwhile, Venezuela will have to wait for the MTV segment to be released to understand how their high-stakes reality will be adapted to meet the lofty demands of broadcast entertainment.

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In similar fashion, Banksy has reworked his “Young Girl” famed graffiti stencil in support of the #withSyria campaign. [SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire]

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WATCH: The Do Gooders

Wrong Kind of Green

February 4, 2015

by Lisa Intee

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‘NGOs are increasingly motivated by self interest, they need money, they need to pay themselves in their jobs and in order to get those contracts they have to keep quiet about what’s going on and that’s really shitty to see. What they are doing is talking about it as a humanitarian crisis, when in fact what we have is a people where every aspect of their lives is being militarily and economically controlled and oppressed,’ said Ruthven.

This documentary was worth watching. The film maker, Chloe Ruthven, seems unclear about her aims in the documentary, nonetheless it is revealing. As one review put it: “As an investigative documentary, The Do Gooders is a failure. As a depiction of an interfering foreigner failing to help anyone, it’s a curiously honest account of the state of the world. The possibility that it doesn’t mean to be is even more revealing.”

Chloe begins by discussing the work her grandparents did as aid workers in Palestine and it seems that she is making a film about retracing their steps and examining the aid workers in Palestine today. It shows a place saturated with ‘internationals’, ranging from gap year style youths to bloggers and journalists, imposing either their ideas or cameras on people. It seems there is a whole industry set up to manage all this- from organisations to manage volunteers to bars and restaurants for foreigners to meet and mingle in after a day’s voluntourism. On a whole other level, there are the large ‘aid’ groups like USAID driving around in fancy cars funding dubious projects.

The direction then changes as the film maker hires Lubna, a Palestinian woman, to drive her and translate for her. Chloe stays in Lubna’s home in her bed, leaving Lubna to sleep on a mat on the floor whilst continually pointing her camera at Lubna. We then get to see the situation from the point of view of a Palestinian. Lubna makes a lot of remarks to Chloe that are insightful. She tells her “You are always interviewing white people” and takes her to interview Palestinian people. Lubna’s insight and comments and Chloe’s reactions are what make this documentary so revealing. Whilst Chloe shows the aid industry to be a self-serving sham for the most part, her own sense of entitlement is also revealing. When Lubna meets other Palestinian people and speaks to them in Arabic, Chloe feels left out and has a temper tantrum and storms off in tears. The comments Lubna has made along the lines of (paraphrasing) “why don’t you learn Arabic if you want to spend time here?” and (again paraphrasing) “I don’t think you see your white privilege” seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Towards the end, there is more questioning regarding the aquifers and road-building, showing the absolute injustices that Palestinians face. Lubna and Chloe then visit a community organisation run by Palestinian women who have refused funding as the funding comes with ties to it. This appears to be a rare example of a grassroots organisation. One reviewer (see below for link) points out: “At the moment there are 144 humanitarian organisations working in Palestine, of which 51 are UN agencies, 78 international NGOs and only 15 local organisations. Any local organisations require a number of internationals on their board to be deemed legit and get funding.”

What particularly stood out for me were two comments Lubna made. The first was along the lines of “Why do you come here to help, we don’t need help – we need Israel to stop occupying our land, why don’t you become activists in your own countries?” The second and most poignant was when Lubna sees a settlement for the first time and the contrast between the dry land and the irrigated and watered land in the settlement is acute. They are in a park in a settlement and the grass is green, there are trees and the houses look like expensive villas. Lubna is clearly in shock, biting back tears and says very simply: “This is apartheid”.

Watch the film: http://www.cultureunplugged.com/documentary/watch-online/play/51260/The-Do-Gooders

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aid, Internationalists and Self Interest in Palestine

Just a Platform

Oct 19, 2013

by Sav D’Souza

Chloe Ruthven’s excellent documentary The Do Gooders, which showed at this year’s London Film Festival, shed not an inconsiderable light on how ‘international aid’ works in operation in places such as Palestine.

The concept of “aid”, in its numerous guises, humanitarian, international, overseas, foreign or overseas all invoke a nice altruistic association but the reality as Ruthven found in Palestine is that aid is more about political control, power and influence.

‘NGOs are increasingly motivated by self interest, they need money, they need to pay themselves in their jobs and in order to get those contracts they have to keep quiet about what’s going on and that’s really shity to see. What they are doing is talking about it as a humanitarian crisis, when in fact what we have is a people where every aspect of their lives is being militarily and economically controlled and oppressed,’ said Ruthven.

Two aspects of the “valuable infrastructure” that Ruthven delved into were roads and water in the occupied West Bank.  Roads it seems benefit US construction contractors and people with business and assets and not directed to what local disadvantaged people need or desire. Ruthven highlighted a more sinister aspect too – how when roads are built they cut of Palestinians, effectively by building two roads, an ‘apartheid road system’ as it has been called. ‘By using the main artery roads and preventing Palestinians from using them by this kind of road blocking system. Every time the Israelis build a bit of new road in the West Bank for the settlers, they cut off the village roads that come down and join that central road and so Palestinians can’t actually access it even though it’s in the territory,” said Ruthven. “At the same time USAID are also building Palestinian roads that are taking Palestinians further away from the main artery roads, and yet telling the Palestinians they are coming to help them” added Ruthven.

aid to palestineImage Labour2Palestine via Flickr

Then there is huge amounts of money spent on flashy water pump systems, complete with typical USAID obligatory PR fanfare overdrive, which in practice appear nothing more than a grand vanity project. As Ruthven explained ‘All the engineers know that there is no water, it’s like you can build the flashiest Ferrari engine but if there is no petrol! In my probing it became clear that everyone knows this up front so it’s not like they made a mistake.’ In her movie Ruthven is seen having just such a discussion with an engineer about water in the region, the engineer telling her about the situation resulting from the Oslo agreement which meant that Israel was assigned two aquifers and Palestine one, adding that when Palestinians want to drill or do anything to get more water they have to ask for Israeli permission which is invariably refused. It was at this point in the film that a USAID representative nervously efficiently calls time on the conversation.   In 2009 an Amnesty International report was highly critical of the  “discriminatory water policies and practices are denying Palestinians their right to access to water.”

US AID Palestine Image US Army Africa

One of the main issues around aid to Palestine, but that could also be just as applicable for numerous other countries, is that it comes with strings attached and so is deeply politicised. Current systems of aid provision are carefully controlled and managed and dictated by Western organisations that know best. Not really much democracy at play in the sense of what local people think, want or need.

ngos palestine

Already living in an occupied land which is both restrictive and prescriptive, Palestinians have to deal with “Do Gooders”, the entourage of “internationalists”, NGOs and the likes of USAID, when what Ruthven’s film shows is that want they want is the right to self determination, to work out between themselves how to improve their lives on a daily basis and look to the future. Too much to ask for? Maybe they lack the wisdom of the more sophisticated westerners to achieve this?

women organisations palestine Image www.dalia.ps

A good example of what can be achieved is a grassroots organisation called the Dalia Association. Dalia is a Palestinian community foundation which is addressing and reacting to the problems they face by involving people in the decision making process, using resources to try and achieve their goals and being self accountable as a community and not external bodies.  Ruthven went to visit the organisation  in her film where she interviewed a member of the organisation who told her that they had refused to sign a potential grant application worth $200,000 as it stipulated that there could be no ties to organisations such as Hamas.

palestine and israelImage disbona via Flickr

Although Hamas is seen as a political party that has support all over occupied Palestine and means different things to different people in the region any association to them means that your organisation will not get funded, and individuals will not get a job working with the Internationalists due to Hamas being deemed a terrorist organisation.

At the moment there are 144 humanitarian organisations working in Palestine, of which 51 are UN agencies, 78 international NGOs and only 15 local organisations. Any local organisations require a number of internationals on their board to be deemed legit and get funding.

Palestinians seem to be having a different conversation between themselves about what they need and want than that which are being offered through foreign aid. Tired of the same old status quo which ultimately does nothing than continue the cycle of aid dependence and control, grassroots organisations like Dalia are trying to forge a different way.

 

The Intercept’s Interference: Notes on Media, Capitalism, & Imperialism | Part II: Non-Governmental Force Multipliers

Cats, Not War

April 6, 2014

civil-participation-in-policy-making-ucranian-examples-3-638

In wondering whether Marcy Wheeler could plausibly claim legitimate doubt about the activities of Pierre Omidyar’s NGO in Ukraine, Tarzie asked whether an NGO could ever be anything other than an arm of soft imperialism. The answer to that latter question is actually yes, conceivably and even probably, although I can’t think of any such NGOs off the top of my head. The reason to believe that an NGO can be something other than a soft arm of imperialist power is that there are just so damned many of them. To shine a light on this, we have Eyal Weizman, to whose work I will return several times in this post. He offers specifics on the explosion of NGOs in just a few slivers of the world:

‘While in 1980 there were about 40 NGOs dealing with the Ethiopian famine, a decade later 250 were operating during the Yugoslavian war; by 2004, 2,500 were involved in Afghanistan.’

One must now imagine how many NGOs are operating worldwide. They serve a wide range of purposes, receiving money from a wide range of donors. The question as it pertains to Marcy Wheeler and The Intercept more generally is not about any old NGO; it’s about an NGO funded by USAID, a worldwide organization that shares funding and partnerships with the CIA and the State Department, and, in Ukraine, an oligarch, Pierre Omidyar. Therein lies the proper question: can this specific kind of NGO ever be anything other than the soft arm of imperialism? Of course not, I say.

A ‘transparency’ NGO against a rival regime of the United States plays a very particular role, which is why I mentioned multiple locales of NGOs in my last post about The Intercept. The meaning of an NGO funded by USAID in Ukraine is quite different from the meaning of a humanitarian NGO operating in the West Bank. The first is, in Ames’ words, ‘a force multiplier’ for the goal of regime change; the second is mainly a humanitarian agent, very often nominally aligned against Israel’s military occupation, or at least against the general spirit of it, but nonetheless tolerated by Israel. In both cases, the NGOs, as I mentioned before, obscure class consciousness; the reason is that the fascist state–as an absorber of superfluous capital and, through its police forces, protector of private property–is fundamentally opposed to the emergence of the communistic movements of the societies they are tasked with governing, by which I mean controlling and containing.

I’ll begin with the Israeli case and then work back to Ukraine. In the case of Israel, NGOs exist in lieu of the military policies and architecture that have ghettoized hundreds of segments of society within historic Palestine. Palestinians have been separated from Israelis; Druze have been separated from Palestinians; Palestinians have been separated from Palestinians (think of the distance between Gaza and the West Bank); Palestinians have been separated from Ethiopian refugees, which have in turn been separated from Israeli Jews, and you are beginning to get an idea of the utter fragmentation that Israel’s divide-and-conquer strategies have produced. But one more fragmentation must be mentioned, among the most crucial: class fragmentation, which includes even the strategic placement of the Israeli working and under classes in relation to the upper classes. In physically organizing its society according to relatively modern identities it’s helped to shape, Israel has thus far successfully thwarted communistic threats to its power (albeit not very often with ease), and that success increases if these respective identity groups embrace as political projects in themselves the various identities given to them by power. The political dilemma of identity cannot be ignored, as there are real differences between the marginalization of the Israeli working class and that of Palestinians under Israel’s racializing project. (As the Palestinians experience a more advanced form of alienation, it is the job of the Israeli working class to offer proper solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.) But this is not to say that the procurement of identity makes for a worthy political end goal in itself. Should these groups treat identity formation as a critique and a resistance in itself, they will, as subjects of Israeli power, from Israeli working classes to the Druze to the Palestinians, overlook the demands of their own struggles, as well as the possibilities hinted at by famed Palestinian revolutionary Ghassan Kanafani in a 1972 interview (a possibility again hinted at by the Qassam Brigades on November 17, 2012, as mentioned in the above-linked article by Max Ajl):

‘So you do see contradictions within the Israeli population which can divide them in the future, and provide the Palestinian resistance with allies within Israeli society?

‘Of course. But this will not happen easily. First of all, we must escalate the revolution to the stage where it poses an alternative to them, because up to now it has not been so. It is nonsense to start talking about a ‘Democratic Palestine’ at this stage; theoretically speaking it establishes a good basis for future debates, but this debate can only occur when the Palestinian resistance is a realistic alternative.

‘You mean it must be able to provide a practical alternative for the Israeli proletariat?

‘Yes. But at the moment it is very difficult to get the Israeli working-class to listen to the voice of the Palestinian resistance, and there are several obstacles to this. These include the Israeli ruling class and the Arab ruling classes. The Arab ruling classes do not present either Israelis or Arabs with a prospect of democracy. One might well ask: where is there a democracy in the Arab world? The Israeli ruling class is obviously an obstacle as well. But there is a third obstacle, which is the real, if small, benefit that the Israeli proletariat derives from its colonialist status within Israel. For not only is the situation of Israeli workers a colonialist one, but they gain from the fact that Israel as a whole has been recruited to play a specific role in alliance with imperialism. Two kinds of movement are required to break down these barriers, in order for there to be future contact between an anti-Zionist Israeli proletariat and the Arab resistance movement. These will be the resistance movement on the one hand and an opposition movement within Israel itself; but there is no real sign of such a convergence yet, since, although Matzpen exists, what would be necessary is a mass proletarian movement.’

Within the primarily Palestinian space of the West Bank, countless NGOs have cropped up, which leads to another Tarzie question: can’t the Israeli working class work with NGOs in the West Bank? The answer is, once again, conceivably, but that’s as far as it goes. This has not been the case, and we must account for the reasons. The first question worth asking is, why does Israel, a state that typically gets away with whatever brutality it wishes to exact, tolerate so many NGOs working nominally against it in territories under its direct military control? Answering that question requires another question: what do these NGOs do? There are two primary types of NGOs in the West Bank: humanitarian ones, those which offer general health supplies to the brutalized Palestinian population, and informational NGOs, those which provide the brutalized population with a space for political organization, things like publishing pamphlets and setting up lectures and panel discussions.

The humanitarian NGOs working in Palestine have, according to Weizman, adopted an essentially theological ethos to address the issue of suffering. (This would not be the first or only time social justice movements have adopted monotheistic tenants to meet the world’s problems; I hope to address this in a future post.) Weizman proposes that the main theological presupposition animating humanitarian impulse in an occupation situation is St. Augustine’s principle of lesser evil: lesser evils are to be tolerated when they are deemed unavoidable. More:

‘The lesser evil is the argument of the humanitarian agent that seeks military permission to provide medicines and aid in places where it is in fact the duty of the occupying military power to do so, thus saving the limited military resources. The lesser evil is often the justification of the military officer who attempts to administer life (and death) in an “enlightened” manner; it is sometimes, too, the brief of the security contractor who introduces new and more efficient weapons and spatio-technological means of domination, and advertises them as “humanitarian technology”. In these cases the logic of the lesser evil opens up a thick political field of participation bringing together otherwise opposing fields of action, to the extent that it might obscure the fundamental moral differences between these various groups. But, even according to the terms of an economy of losses and gains, the concept of the lesser evil risks becoming counterproductive: less brutal measures are also those that may be more easily naturalized, accepted and tolerated—and hence more frequently used, with the result that a greater evil may be reached cumulatively.’

So there it lies. A calculation that seeks to alleviate a suffering tacitly accepts the endurability of that suffering and ultimately prolongs it. The Israeli ruling class is, like most imperialists, not stupid; it knows that humanitarian NGOs pose zero threat, and so it tolerates them.

Informational NGOs in the West Bank are more so the hangouts of those foreigners too politically savvy to get caught up in the obvious pitfalls of liberal humanitarianism, which is really just so Daily Show and Obama ’08. Here is where young foreigners of a more radical bent can go to exchange political ideas with Palestinians, perhaps even to set up times and dates for attending demonstrations so that they can make themselves useful by obstructing an IDF’s soldier’s path when he attempts to arrest a Palestinian. And these young internationalist activists will likely help with lectures from guest speakers around the world and will help to publish pamphlets detailing the harsh realities of Israeli occupation. It is telling how these outlets are staffed so overwhelmingly with volunteers from around the world, as opposed to Israeli proles, but not necessarily surprising. This is the class makeup that can be expected in the wake of Israel’s forcible fragmentation of the society underneath it: the class makeup of the propaganda NGO is first of all a function of Israeli structure. After all, who can afford to take up life in the West Bank, an area deprived of water and job opportunities (outside these NGOs, of course) and right to movement? Not Israeli proles, generally speaking, but rather upper class students from the United States and Europe. And Israel tolerates this form of Palestinian political expression because it allows Palestinians a vent for their frustrations without forming the kinds of political bonds that can easily (if at all) upend the Zionist system. In this sense, these NGOs play the same role as state-sanctioned demonstrations in the United States, allowing people the illusion of impact because people are, at the end of the day, ‘doing something.’ There simply is no comparison between a bond formed between a Palestinian and an international student only in Palestine for a semester or two (and with a bright future to lose) and a bond formed between a Palestinian and an Israeli worker condemned to existence in Israeli society for the long haul. Not all bonds are equally dangerous.

The role of NGOs in places where the U.S. desires regime change is markedly different, because the situation is markedly different. Admittedly, when examining the situation in Ukraine, claims about U.S. regime change require more work to prove, because the policy there is less overt than was regime change in, say, Iraq. As I mentioned in a previous post, this is the main dilemma of detailing imperialism in the age of Obama. But it is worth noting still that even in those instances of overt regime change, brought about through land invasion and long-term occupation using ground troops, NGOs played an important role in U.S. policy. To quote Weizman once again, ‘After the fall of Baghdad in 2003, American NGOs funded via USAID were informed by the US Administration that “their cooperation was linked inextricably to America’s strategic goals.”‘ Weizman notes that Colin Powell referred to these NGOs operating in Iraq as a ‘force multiplier,’ which perhaps explains where Mark Ames picked up the phrase.

One way of knowing that Pierre Omidyar knew what he was getting into when he decided to share an investment with USAID in Ukraine is that USAID’s worldwide purpose is openly available knowledge, especially to those money men with a direct financial interest in USAID’s purpose. Powell and the ‘U.S. administration’ acknowledged it. If one fails to be satisfied by the open declarations of the U.S. regime, one can of course consult its ‘private’ correspondences about USAID, revealed in leaked Wikileaks cables. As with open declarations, the private dialogues of the U.S. regime are loaded with euphemism; ‘regime change’ is described as a ‘transition to democracy.’ Over at the Anti-Empire Report, William Blum quotes a cable mentioning USAID’s activities in Venezuela:

‘During his 8 years in power, President Chavez has systematically dismantled the institutions of democracy and governance. The USAID/OTI program objectives in Venezuela focus on strengthening democratic institutions and spaces through non-partisan cooperation with many sectors of Venezuelan society.’

Blum goes on to describe these initiatives as ‘a transition from the target country adamantly refusing to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs to a country gladly willing (or acceding under pressure) to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs.’ These initiatives were to be taken against Chavez and ‘his attempt to divide and polarize Venezuelan society using rhetoric of hate and violence. OTI supports local NGOs who work in Chavista strongholds and with Chavista leaders, using those spaces to counter this rhetoric and promote alliances through working together on issues of importance to the entire community.’ Eventually the cable becomes mercifully frank about the efforts USAID and OTI must take against this hateful rhetoric (also know as class conscious agitation): ‘1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez Internationally.’ Sounds like a recipe for regime change to me.

As I mentioned in my previous article, NGOs participate in PsyOps. Among the most common forms of PsyOp is the attempt to convince a subject population (or potential subject population) that the United States supports it. One way this is done is by providing aid to underclass populations; the example I provided was the aid Junglas provide to rural Colombians. As these PsyOps are simple and common, one can easily learn about them–and USAID’s role in them–by doing a simple Wikileaks search. Here USAID’s PsyOps efforts in Nigeria are described:

‘Nigerians reacting to Mission-sponsored media reports June – September 2003 on U.S.-Nigeria partnership successes on health, HIV/AIDS, agriculture, education, and conflict resolution, say they are amazed at the level of support given to Nigeria by the U.S. Government.  They expressed similar sentiments on their assessment of media reports on the Ambassador’s Self-Help and the Ambassador’s Girl Scholarship programs, as well as the Widernet’s university interconnectivity program.  The positive impact of the success stories was clearly evident during the recent defeat of stiff conservative northern opposition to the August polio vaccination rounds.  Reactions have been very positive on USAID’s contributions towards revival of agriculture, especially gum arabic trade, and the LEAP program to upgrade primary educational standards in northern Nigeria.  The Basketball for Peace Project is another success story that Nigerians say they value greatly because the program targets jobless youths in the crisis-prone Kaduna State.  Radio listeners, television viewers and Hausa readers in 19 northern States, including conservative Muslim radicals in Nasarawa, Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Katsina, Borno, Plateau, Zamfara, and Jigawa States, say the success stories surprised them because they never knew the U.S. was doing so much for Nigeria. Hopefully, these images may change some of their negative views about the U.S.’

I especially like this example because it includes mention of a basketball program–my Colombia example included mention of basketball courts constructed for poor Colombian youth. So because the function of USAID’s programs is so obvious, it is reasonable to say that Omidyar knew what he was getting into when he decided to collaborate with USAID in Ukraine. So reasonable that it is not necessary to assume anything. USAID’s goals in Ukraine are clearly described in other leaked cables; they are economic goals in which any sensible billionaire would interested–the most salient example being intellectual property rights to be ensured by the World Trade Organization, that is, ‘types of intellectual property rights that will be protected by the State Customs Service… or the customs regimes in which Customs will intervene to protect these rights. Customs reform that is anchored into a modern code consistent with international standards, will be critical for greater market integration.’ In other words, in order for international investors to make profits off of investments in Ukraine, the legal standards must first exist by which corporate conduits can extract those profits and deliver them to individual oligarchs. If you’re wondering how intellectual property accomplishes this, do yourself a favor and read Kevin Carson’s definitive essay on the subject.

Those are just a few examples. I. Could. Go. On. All. Fucking. Day. About. This. USAID. Shit.

We know what kinds of interests Omidyar held in the Ukraine, and we know even more about the means by which he tried to secure them. But even if we didn’t know these matters exactly, we’d have enough information to reach reasonable conclusions about the activities of this billionaire. That some progressive journalists think we don’t seems to me, well, counterintuitive. Either that, or the effect of a billionaire buying progressive journalists is that progressive journalists cease to be skeptical of billionaires, which rather cancels out the ‘progressive’ part. It’s a matter of rich men removing ‘Eat the Rich’ from the political program, for self-explanatory reasons. In addition to that, the employees of rich men are marshaling group acceptance and ostracizing those hungry for the rich. More on that, specifically on our favorite celebrity journalist, Glenn Greenwald, in the next and final post of this series. See you tomorrow for that one, everybody.

 

Further Reading:

Introduction: The Intercept’s Interference: Notes on Media | http://catsnotwar.blogspot.ca/2014/03/the-intercepts-interference-notes-on.html

Part 1: Financial Capital is Destructive Capital | http://catsnotwar.blogspot.ca/2014/04/part-i-financial-capital-is-destructive.html

Part 2: Above

Part 3: A Return to Conspiracy and Its Theories | http://catsnotwar.blogspot.ca/2014/04/part-iii-return-to-conspiracy-and-its.html

 

WikiLeaks’ Quito Cables Show How US Worked Against Correa

Green Left Weekly

September 8, 2014
By Linda Pearson
President Rafael Correa in Otavalo in northern Ecuador in 2011. Cables show the US embassy ‘warned our political, economic, and media contacts of the threat Correa represents to Ecuador’s future’ ahead of the 2006 elections. Photo by Miguel Romero via Wikipedia.

In the months leading up to Ecuador’s October 2006 presidential election, the US Embassy in Quito claimed to be impartial.

Rather than supporting one particular candidate, then-US ambassador Linda Jewell said the embassy only wanted to help facilitate “a fair and transparent electoral process”.

However, diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks show that behind the rhetoric of “democracy promotion”, the embassy sought to stop the election of “dark horse populist, anti-American candidate Rafael Correa”.

Correa’s support for a Citizens’ Revolution did not accord with the US’s vision for Ecuador. The US Embassy in Quito had worked to undermine Correa during his brief term as finance minister in 2005.

In an August 2006 cable entitled “Ecuador Election: What’s at Stake”, Jewell wrote: “While none of the candidates will return the bilateral relationship to the halcyon days when then-president-elect Lucio Gutierrez declared himself our ‘strongest ally in Latin America’, none of the top contenders would affect USG interests as thoroughly as Rafael Correa.”

Gutierrez may have been loved by the US government, but opposition to his neoliberal policies led to his overthrow in a popular uprising in 2005.

Opposing Correa

In regard to Correa, the embassy was specifically concerned about his promise to “cut off his hand before signing a renewal” of the US lease on the forward operating military base at Manta.

The embassy also judged that Correa was the “candidate most likely to get run out of office”, as he had promised to confront Ecuador’s unpopular Congress and powerful political parties.

However, the ambassador wrote, Correa “has staked out his harshest positions on economic issues, and his election would derail any hope for more harmonious commercial relations with the United States”.

Correa had promised to break with the neoliberal policies of his predecessors. Instead, he called for a more regulated economy and government control over the exploitation of Ecuador’s oil resources.

Moreover, he had said he would relegate the idea of a free trade agreement with the US “to the trashcan of history”.

The ambassador wrote: “We would expect Correa to eagerly seek to join the Chavez-Morales-Kirchner group of nationalist-populist South American leaders.”

A cable from November 2005 entitled “Ecuador Elections, One Year Out”, laid out the Embassy’s strategy to influence the presidential elections.

The cable cautioned that because of “political sensitivities” to US interference, “it would be neither politically wise nor programmatically effective to invest significant USAID resources in public presidential debates or other high-profile activities”.

Covert interference

An “election working group” had been formed by staff from the Embassy and USAID to come up with a more suitable strategy.

The embassy planned to “Monitor presidential campaigns for effects on USG interests, and build relationships with major presidential candidates and staffs”. Over the next year, embassy officials met frequently with Ecuadorian political parties, business leaders and academics to share views on the election and the prospects of a Correa victory.

Cables from this period variously described Correa as a “brash leftist ‘outsider’”, “a stalking-horse for Chavez” and a “disaster for Ecuador’s development prospects”.

To “encourage sound economic policies”, the November cable suggested “sponsoring forums for candidates to participate in to discuss economic issues/policies”.

The cable also suggested that “Focusing USG efforts on promoting voter education and public awareness about congressional candidates could help encourage Ecuadorians to elect more effective and responsible representatives”.

Several cables emphasised the importance of trying to influence Ecuador’s “lower classes”. Poorer Ecuadorians, according to the ambassador, “by virtue of their numbers, will select Ecuador’s next government at the polls in October”.

She suggested that “effective Embassy outreach to the lowest classes could conceivably help blunt the appeal of anti-American candidates”.

In August 2006, the ambassador wrote, “there are few signs that Ecuadorians or their candidates understand the dangers of supporting ‘populist politicians who promise magic solutions that haven’t worked anywhere.’

“We will be alert to signs that Ecuador’s poorest voters break toward Correa in the final weeks of the campaign.”

Another cable written by the ambassador said the US planned to spend a total of US$884,000 on the presidential elections. This included $384,000 to “fund civil society civic education and debates and monitor campaign spending”.

A further $300,000 was allocated to fund “domestic observation and quick counts”, and $200,000 to Ecuador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

According to its website, the US Congress-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) spent more than $1 million in Ecuador in 2006.

The largest portion of this, $350,000, was allocated to the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. It was to provide “technical assistance” to Ecuador’s “largest and most representative political parties”, which opposed Correa.

The NED was founded during the Cold War in 1983 to give the veneer of legitimacy to “political operations” previously carried out secretly by the CIA.

While claiming to be “dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world”, the group is better known for destabilising democratically elected government that threaten US interests.

Recent examples include the Ukraine, where NED projects helped foment opposition to ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

Backing Noboa

Concern over avoiding a backlash against open interference in Ecuador’s presidential election did not stop the US Embassy trying to work against Correa behind the scenes.

In August 2006, the ambassador wrote: “Beyond supporting a clean electoral process … we have few levers to influence Ecuadorian voters. Ecuador’s media elite is hyper-sensitive to perceived internal meddling, so overt attempts to influence voter decisions is fraught with risk.

“Privately, however, we have warned our political, economic, and media contacts of the threat Correa represents to Ecuador’s future, and have actively discouraged potential alliances which could balance Correa’s perceived radicalism.”

In October 2006, banana billionaire Alvaro Noboa won the first round of voting with 27% of the vote. Correa came second with 23%, followed by Gutierrez’s brother, Gilmar Gutierrez.

US diplomats tried to persuade the Gutierrez brothers and their Patriotic Society Party to back “right-of-center alternative” Noboa in the second round run-off, in order to defeat Correa.

In contrast to Correa, Noboa promised that if elected he would sign a free trade agreement with the United States and would not seek enhanced relations with Venezuela or Cuba.

Noboa also said he would negotiate a settlement with US oil company Occidental Petroleum, whose contract had been terminated and assets repossessed by the outgoing Palacio administration in May 2006.

The US ambassador met with the Gutierrez brothers on October 30 to “gauge potential Patriotic Society Party (PSP) support for Alvaro Noboa’s candidacy”.

According to a cable about the meeting, the ambassador warned the Gutierrez brothers that “a Noboa victory, while possible, was by no means a certainty” and a “Correa victory would threaten progress made under the Gutierrez government to put Ecuador’s economy on a solid footing”.

The cable reported that the ambassador had told Lucio Gutierrez that he could “protect this legacy by helping Noboa consolidate his lead in the polls, and break the cycle of political instability Gutierrez fell prey to by working together in the new Congress”.

The embassy’s deputy chief of mission added that the Gutierrez brothers “could make an enormous contribution by helping to counter Correa rhetoric and educate voters about the benefits of market-based economic principles and the FTA with the U.S.; PSP interests were clearly more aligned with Noboa”.

However, US overtures were to no avail. The Gutierrez brothers, according to the embassy, were too “consumed with their revenge agenda”.

Lucio Gutierrez was demanding legal action be taken against those who deposed his government in exchange for his party’s support in the second round of voting. According to the cables Noboa publicly agreed to this but refused to include Palacio among those to be prosecuted. This left the Gutierrez brothers feeling “miffed”, and they ultimately declined to endorse either Noboa or Correa.

 

 

[This article is the third of an ongoing series exploring diplomatic cables from the US Embassy in Ecuador published by WikiLeaks. The articles are based on about 1000 cables that have mostly not been reported on in English before.]

 

Ex-CIA Agent Reveals how Venezuelan “Students” Get Putschist Training

Aporrea | News of  the Restless

March 25, 2014

By 

Entrevista a Raúl Capote

Who is this man, and why does the CIA fear him? Because they thought he was one of theirs, and it turns out he’s quite the opposite. And now he’s spilling the beans on them. Read on:

In a recent interview in Havana, a former CIA collaborator, Cuban Raúl Capote, revealed the strategy of the CIA in Venezuelan universities to create the kind of destabilizing opposition student movement the country is currently facing. He also discusses media manipulation, and alleges that one of the U.S. diplomats that President Maduro expelled from Venezuela last September was in fact a CIA agent. The following translation and notes were made by Sabina C. Becker. Original interview in Spanish here.

Raúl Capote is a Cuban. But not just any Cuban. In his youth, he was caught up by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). They offered him an infinite amount of money to conspire in Cuba. But then something unexpected for the US happened. Capote, in reality, was working for Cuban national security. From then on, he served as a double agent. Learn his story, by way of an exclusive interview with the Chávez Vive magazine, which he gave in Havana:

Q. What was the process by which you were caught up?

It started with a process of many years, several years of preparation and capture. I was leader of a Cuban student movement which, at that time, gave rise to an organization, the Saiz Brothers Cultural Association, a group of young creators, painters, writers, artists. I worked in a city in southern-central Cuba, Cienfuegos, which had characteristics of great interest to the enemy, because it was a city in which an important industrial pole was being built at the time. They were building an electrical centre, the only one in Cuba, and there were a lot of young people working on it. For that reason, it was also a city that had a lot of young engineers graduated in the Soviet Union. We’re talking of the last years of the 1980s, when there was that process called Perestroika. And many Cuban engineers, who arrived in Cuba at that time, graduated from there, were considered people who had arrived with that idea of Perestroika. For that reason, it was an interesting territory, where there were a lot of young people. And the fact that I was a youth leader of a cultural organization, which dealt with an important sector of the engineers who were interested in the arts, became of interest to the North Americans, and they began to frequent the meetings we attended. They never identified themselves as enemies, or as officials of the CIA.

Q. Were there many of them, or just always the same person?

Several. They never presented themselves as officials of the CIA, nor as people who had come to cause trouble, or anything.

Q. And who do you suppose they were?

They presented themselves as people coming to help us and our project, and who had the ability to finance it. That they had the chance to make it a reality. The proposal, as such, sounded interesting because, okay, a project in the literary world requires that you know a publisher, that you have editorial relations. It’s a very complex market. And they came in the name of publishers. What happened is that, during the process of contact with us, what they really wanted became quite evident. Because once they had made the contact, once they had begun frequenting our meetings, once they began to promise financing, then came the conditions for being financed.

Q. What conditions did they demand?

They told us: We have the ability to put the markets at your disposal, to put you on the markets of books or sculpture or movies or whatever, but we need the truth, because what we’re selling in the market, is the image of Cuba. The image of Cuba has to be a realistic one, of difficulties, of what’s going on in the country. They wanted to smear the reality of Cuba. What they were asking is that you criticize the revolution, based on anti-Cuba propaganda lines, which they provided.

Q. How big was these people’s budget?

They came with an infinite amount of money, because the source of the money, obviously, we found out over time from whence it came. For example, there was USAID, which was the big provider, the overall contractor of this budget, which channeled the money via NGOs, many of them invented just for Cuba. They were NGOs that didn’t exist, created solely for this type of job in Cuba, and we’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars. They weren’t working on small budgets. To give you an example, at one time, they offered me ten thousand dollars, just to include elements of anti-Cuba propaganda, in the novel I was writing.

Q. What year are we talking about?

Around 1988-89.

Q. How many people could have been contacted by these people, or captured?

In reality, their success didn’t last long, because in Cuba there was a culture of total confrontation with this type of thing, and the people knew very well that there was something behind that story of them wanting to “help” us. It was nothing new in the history of the land, and for that reason, it was very hard for them to get to where we were. In a determined moment, around 1992, we held a meeting, all the members of the organization, and we decided to expel them. They weren’t allowed to attend any more of our meetings. Those people, who were already coming in with concrete proposals, and also preconditioned economic aid they were giving us. What happened is that at the moment we did that, and rejected them, we expelled them from the association headquarters, then they started to particularize. They began to visit with me, in particular, and other comrades as well, young people. With some they succeeded, or should I say, they succeeded in getting some of them out of the country as well.

Q. What kind of profile were they looking for, more or less, if any kind of profile could be specified?

They wanted, above all at that time, to present Cuba as a land in chaos. That socialism in Cuba had not managed to satisfy the needs of the population, and that Cuba was a country that socialism had landed in absolute poverty, and which, as a model, no one liked. That was the key to what they were pursuing, above all, at that time.

Q. How long were you an agent of the CIA?

We were in this initial story until 1994. Because in 1994, I went to Havana, I came back to the capital and here, in the capital, I began to work for the Union of Cultural Workers, a union which represented the cultural workers of the capital, and I became more interesting yet to them, because I went on to direct — from being a leader of a youth organization with 4,000 members, to directing a union with 40,000 members, just in the city of Havana. And then, it gets much more interesting. Contacts followed. In that period there appeared a woman professor from a new university who came with the mission of kick-starting the production of my literary work, to become my representative, to organize events.

Q. Can you give her name?

No, because they used pseudonyms. They never used real names. And that type of work, promoting me as a writer, was what they were very interested in, because they wanted to convert me into a personality in that world. Promoting me now, and compromising me with them in an indirect manner. And then, in 2004, there arrived in Havana a person well known in Venezuela, Kelly Keiderling. Kelly came to Havana to work as Chief of the Office of Press and Culture. They set up a meeting. they arranged a cocktail party, and at that party I met with 12 North American functionaries, North Americans and Europeans. They weren’t only North Americans. All of them people with experience, some also inside the Soviet Union, others who had participated in training and preparation of the people in Yugoslavia, in the Color Revolutions, and they were very interested in meeting me. Kelly became very close to me. She began to prepare me. She began to instruct me. I began to receive, from her, a very solid training: The creation of alternative groups, independent groups, the organization and training of youth leaders, who did not participate in the works of our cultural institutions. And that was in 2004-5. Kelly practically vanished from the scene in 2005-6. And when I started to work, she put me in direct contact with officials of the CIA. Supposedly, I was already committed to them, I was ready for the next mission, and they put me in touch with Renee Greenwald, an official of the CIA, who worked with me directly, and with a man named Mark Waterhein, who was, at the time, the head of Project Cuba, of the Pan-American Foundation for Development.

This man, Mark, as well as directing Project Cuba, had a direct link to Cuba, in terms of financing the anti-revolutionary project, as well as being involved in working against Venezuela. That is, he was a man who, along with much of his team of functionaries of that famous project, also worked against Venezuela at that time. They were closely connected. At times it took a lot of work to tell who was working with Cuba, and who was not, because many times they interlocked. For example, there were Venezuelans who came to work with me, who worked in Washington, who were subordinates of the Pan-American Foundation and the CIA, and they came to Cuba to train me as well, and to bring provisions. From there arose the idea of creating a foundation, a project called Genesis.

Genesis is maybe the template, as an idea, of many of the things going on in the world today, because Genesis is a project aimed at the university youth of Cuba. They were doing something similar in Venezuela. Why? The idea was to convert universities — which have always been revolutionary, which have produced revolutionaries, out of those from which many of the revolutionaries of both countries came — and convert them into factories for reactionaries. So, how do you do that? By making leaders. What have they begun to do in Venezuela? They sent students to Yugoslavia, financed by the International Republican Institute (IRI), which was financed by USAID and by the Albert Einstein Institute, and sent them, in groups of ten, with their professors.

Q. Do you have the names of the Venezuelans?

No, we’re talking of hundreds being sent. I spoke with the professor, and watched one group and followed the other. Because they were working long-term. The same plan was also in place against Cuba. Genesis promoted, with in the university, a plan of training scholarships for Cuban student leaders and professors. The plan was very similar. Also, in 2003, they prepared here, in Havana, a course in the US Interests Section, which was called “Deposing a leader, deposing a dictator”, which was based on the experience of OTPOR in removing Slobodan Milosevic from power. And that was the idea, inside the Cuban university, to work long-term, because these projects always take a long time in order to reap a result. For that reason, they also started early in Venezuela. I believe as well — I don’t have proof, but I believe that in Venezuela it began before the Chávez government, because the plan of converting Latin American universities, which were always sources of revolutionary processes, into reactionary universities, is older than the Venezuelan [Bolivarian] process, to reverse the situation and create a new right-wing.

Q. Did the CIA only work in Caracas?

No, throughout Venezuela. Right now, Genesis has a scholarship plan to create leaders in Cuba. They provide scholarships to students to big North American universities, to train them as leaders, with all expenses paid. They pay their costs, they provide complete scholarships. We’re talking 2004-5 here. It was very obvious. Then, those leaders return to university at some time. They’re students. They go to end their careers. Those leaders, when they end their student careers, go on to various jobs, different possibilities, as engineers, as degree-holders in different sectors of Cuban society, but there are others who go on constantly preparing leaders within the university. One of the most important missions of the university leaders was to occupy the leadership of the principal youth organizations of the university. In the case of Cuba, we’re talking about the Union of Communist Youth, and the University Student Federation. That is, it was not to create parallel groups at that time, but to become the leaders of the organizations already existing in Cuba. Also, to form a group of leaders in the strategies of the “soft” coup. That is, training people for the opportune moment to start the famous “color revolutions” or “non-violent wars”, which, as you well know, have nothing to do with non-violence.

Q. What were they looking for in a professor, in order to capture them?

Professors are very easy. Identify university professors discontented with the institution, frustrated people, because they considered that the institution did not guarantee them anything, or didn’t recognize their merits. If they were older, even better. They didn’t specify. Look for older persons, so you can pick them. If you send a scholarship plan, or you send it and, first crack, they receive an invitation to participate in a great international congress of a certain science, they will be eternally grateful to you, because you were the one who discovered their talent, which has never been recognized by the university. Then that man you sent to study abroad, if you’re from his university, and participating in a big event, and publish his works, and constructing him a curriculum. When that person returns to Cuba, he goes back with a tremendous curriculum, because he has participated in a scientific event of the first order, has passed courses from big universities, and his curriculum reaches to the roof, then the influence he could have in the university will be greater, because he could be recognized as a leading figure in his specialty, even though in practice the man could be an ignoramus.

Q. And how effective were these types of captures, that type of missions they came to accomplish here?

In the case of Cuba, they didn’t have much of a result. First, because there was a most important reason, because I was the one directing the project, and I, in reality, was not an agent of the CIA, I was an agent of Cuban security, and so, the whole project passed through my hands, and they thought I was the one who would execute it. And the plan always passed through the work I was able to do, and what we did was slow it down as much as possible, knowing right away what was being planned. But just think, the goal of their plan, they were calculating for the moment in which the historic figures of the Revolution would disappear. They were figuring on a five- or ten-year term, in which Fidel would disappear from the political scene, and Raúl, and the historic leaders of the land. That was the moment they were waiting for, and when that happened, I was to leave university, with all the support of the international press and that of the NGOs, USAID, and all the people working around the CIA’s money, and that there would arise an organization which would present itself before the light of the public, as an alternative to what the Revolution was doing. That is what was to have happened with the Genesis Foundation for Freedom.

Q. What is that Foundation?

The Genesis Foundation for Freedom was to have a discourse, apparently revolutionary, but the idea was to confuse the people. The idea is that they would say they were revolutionaries, that what they wanted was to make changes in the government, but, when it comes to practice, when you get to the essence of the project, when you ask yourself “What is the project?” the discourse was, and the project was, exactly the same as those of the traditional right-wing. Because the changes they promoted, were the same that the right-wing, for a long time, has been promoting in the country. In practice, they almost had their big opportunity, according to their criteria, in 2006, when the news came out on TV that Fidel, for health reasons, was stepping down from his governmental responsibilities, and they have always said that the Cuban Revolution would die when Fidel died. Because the Revolution was Fidel, and on the day Fidel was no longer there, either by dying or leaving government, the next day the Revolution would fall. And they calculated that there would be internal confrontations, that there would be discontent with this or that. Calculations that I don’t know where they got them from, but they believed it. And in that moment, they believed that the time had come to act.

Q. We’re talking about 2006. What was the plan?

They called me automatically. We met, the CIA station chief and I, here in Havana. Diplomatic functionaries also showed up, and one of them said to me, we’re going to organize a provocation. We’re going to organize a popular uprising in a central neighborhood in Havana. There will be a person going there to rise up for democracy, and we’re going to execute a group of provocations, in different locations, in such a way that Cuban security forces will be forced to act against these people, and later we’ll start a big press campaign and start explaining how all of this will function. The interesting part of that, what really caught my attention, was this: How was it possible that a functionary of the US Interests Section could have the power to call upon the principal media, and that those people would obey with such servility? It was really attention-getting. The idea was — and I even told them this — what you’re telling me is just crazy. This man you mentioned to me, called Alci Ferrer — the guy they picked, a young agent, a doctor — they picked him to be the ringleader of the uprising. I told them, that guy won’t budge anyone. No one is going to rise up in the centre of Havana. The date they picked was none other than Fidel’s birthday, and they told me that day! And I said, Look, buddy, if that man, on that day, decides to go make proclamations, or to start some kind of uprising in the middle of Havana, the people are going to respond harshly. It’s even possible that they might kill him. Why, how could you put him in a humble working-class neighborhood to start those things, the locals…And he told me, flat out, the best thing that could happen for us is if they kill that man, it would be perfect, and they explained to me what would happen. All he had to do was provoke. They would go into the street, and there would be a clash there. If that happened, the press would do the rest, and they told me, we’re going to start a huge media campaign to demonstrate that there is chaos in Cuba, that Cuba is ungovernable; that in Cuba, Raúl is unable to hold the reins of government; that the civilian population is being killed; that students are being repressed in the street, and the people in the street, that the police are committing crimes. What a resemblance to Venezuela! It’s not a coincidence. It’s like that.

Q. So, what was supposed to happen in those circumstances?

Once all the opinion matrices were created, and all the media matrices had constructed that image, the whole world was supposed to have the image of Cuba as a great disaster, and that they’re killing the people, that they are killing them all. Then, my organization was to complete the final task.

Q. What was the final task?

Well, to gather the international press, in my capacity as a university professor, and as a writer, and as a leader of that organization, that I go out publicly to ask the government of the United States to intervene in Cuba, to guarantee the lives of the civilians and to bring peace and tranquility to the Cuban people. To speak to the country in the name of the Cuban people. Just imagine that!

That plan fell apart on them. It gave them no result, but as you could see, later, the way the war in Libya went, and the way it was set up. More than 80% of the information we saw, was fabricated. They’re doing the same in Syria, and they’ve done the same in Ukraine. I have had the opportunity to converse with a lot of Ukrainians, since they were in the bases. People in favor of uniting with Europe. I tried to talk with them these days. Trying to find out, what are those processes like? And they were surprised at the images which were transmitted around the world. What happened in Miami, and they themselves said so, but we’ve been protesting there, but those things that appear on TV, that was a group, or rather, there were sectors, there were places where there were right-wing groups, of the very far right, where there were incidents of that type, and where they burned things, but the greater part of the demonstrations didn’t have those characteristics. Or that this is, once more, the repetition of the scheme, using all the communication media.

Q. The relationship between the CIA and the embassies, in the respective lands, are they direct, then?

Yes, completely direct. In every embassy in Latin America, all the US embassies have CIA officials, working within them, using the façade of diplomatic functionaries.

Q. From what you know, is there a greater CIA presence in the region?

Well, at a certain moment, Ecuador was a major power in that, it had a strong concentration of them, and of course, Venezuela, because in 2012, when I attended the Book Fair in Caracas, all those people who had worked with me against Cuba, all the CIA officials, including Kelly Keiderling, were in Caracas at that time. And I was on a TV show, on VTV, where we talked about this subject, being very careful, because we were talking about two countries who have relations. That’s not the case with Cuba, or rather, Cuba has no relations with the United States. That’s a declared enemy. But we were talking about functionaries who had diplomatic relations, and it was very awkward to do it, without having concrete proofs you could present. However, the interview happened, and the denunciation was made of what was going on. Kelly Keiderling is an expert in this type of war. I have not the slightest doubt. When one follows the itinerary she has, in the countries where she’s been, and when I was in that type of conflict.

She has toured a series of countries in the world where very similar situations have occurred, like what she tried to do in Venezuela. And when you analyze Venezuela, and what has happened nowadays and the way in which she has acted, I think that in Venezuela, the characteristic that has been that they are tremendously aggressive in the manipulation of the information. Tremendously aggressive. To the point where you say it’s a blunder, because there are images which are so obviously not from Venezuela. I saw a very famous one, in which a soldier appears with a journalist, with a camera.They are Koreans. It’s an image from Korea. They’re Asian. They don’t look like Venezuelans at all. Also, the uniforms they wear. They’ve been very aggressive with that image which has projected what’s going on in Venezuela to the world. The greater part of the world’s people, this image is the one they’re seeing, of what they’re trying to say.

Q. They control the media. Do you know any case of any journalist which has been, as you have seen, known or unknown, which you have seen in the process of training?

No.

Q. CNN, for example?

No, there was a guy who had a lot of ties to me at the time here, who served as a link for meeting an official from the CIA., Antony Golden, of Reuters. But, all right, he was an element independent of Reuters. CNN has always been very closely linked to all these things. CNN, from its first moments of operation, above all this latest step, and above all, CNN en Español, has been an indispensable tool for these people, but the problem is that you have to understand one thing: to understand what’s going on, and to be able to mount a campaign, you have to understand that nowadays, there is no TV station that acts on its own. There are the conglomerates, and the communications conglomerates — who directs them? Because, for example, Time Warner and AOL, and all those big communications companies — cable TV, movie TV, TV in general — who is the boss, in the end? Here it’s Westinghouse, there it’s General Electric. The same who build warplanes, the same US arms industry, the same people who are the owners of TV networks, movie studios, publications, book publishers. So, the same guys who produce warplanes, the cookie you’ll eat at night, that presents an artist to you, are the same who rule the newspapers of the entire world. Who do these people answer to?

Q. When you see what’s happening in Venezuela, and you compare it with what you did here [in Cuba], what conclusion can you draw?

It’s a new strategy, which they’ve been developing based on the experience they’ve had all over the world, but I see, I’m convinced, that they’ve only gotten results when people in those places don’t support the revolution. They managed it with Milosevic, because Milosevic was a Yugoslavian leader whose image had fallen far, thanks to things that happened in Yugoslavia. The same happened in Ukraine, because Yanukovych was a man with very little popular support, and it has given results in other places where the governments had little support from the people. Wherever they have a legitimate government, a solid government, and people disposed to defend the revolution, the plan has failed on them.

Q. And what phase do they enter when the plan fails?

They’re going to keep on doing it, they’ll go on perfecting it. We are the enemy. That is, Venezuela, Cuba, everything going on in Latin America as an alternative. We are the dissidents of the world. We live in a world dominated by capitalism. Where that new capitalist way of being dominates, so that now one can’t even call it imperialist, it’s something new, something that goes way beyond what students of Marxism wrote in history years ago. It’s something new, novel. It’s a power, practically global, of the big transnationals, of those megalopolies they’ve created. Therefore, we are the enemy. We are presenting an alternative project. The solution that the world proposes to us, is not that. We know how to do it, and Cuba, Venezuela, the ALBA countries, have demonstrated that it can be done, that one or two days more are nothing. The Cuban revolution has been in existence for 55 years, and with political will, it has achieved things that the US government, with all the money in the world, has been unable to do. So that’s a bad example.

And I’ve told my students: Can you imagine that the Indignants in Spain, the thousands and millions of workers out of work in Spain, that the Greeks, that all those people in all the world, know what we’re doing? Can you imagine that these people get to know who Chávez is? Or who Fidel is? Or of the things we’re doing here? Or the things we’re doing with so few resources, only the will to make revolution and share the wealth? What will happen to capitalism? How much longer will capitalism last, which has to spend billions of dollars, every day, to build its image and fool the people? What would happen if the people knew who we really are? What is the Cuban Revolution, really, and what is the Venezuelan Revolution? Because, if you talked to a Spaniard and asked him about Chávez, and he gives you a terrible opinion of Chávez, because it’s what they’ve constructed in his mind/ And you meet an unemployed person who tells you that Chávez is a bad guy, because the media have convinced him of that, but if these people knew how things really were! So they can’t allow that such formidable enemies as ourselves should be there, at the door.

Q. From the viewpoint of the national sovereignty of our people, how can we stop the CIA? We’ve already talked about the consciousness of the people, which is fundamental in these types of actions, but, in the concrete, how does one foresee the CIA’s work? What can be done? What recommendations do you have?

I think of a thing that Chávez said, and that Fidel has always said, that is the key to defeating the empire, and that is unity. It’s not a slogan, it’s a reality. It’s the only way you have of defeating a project like that. A project that comes from the Special Services and from capitalism. One can only do it with the unity of the people.

Q. Are we talking about the civilian-military?

Yes, unity in all senses. Unity based in diversity, in the peoples, but unity as a nation, unity as a project. Wherever the people are divided, there is another reality.

Q. Where do they have to concentrate? In what area must they concentrate forces to defend us from this type of actions, this type of attacks?

The army to defeat that is the people. I believe that the Cuban experience has taught that very well. There are experiences in the world which mark you very clearly. What has happened in the world, when the people have not been protagonists in defence of the Revolution? And when the people have been protagonists, what happened? And there’s the case of Cuba. We have managed to defeat the CIA and the empire millions of times, because the people have been the protagonist.

Q. Does the CIA use the databases of the social networks, and that sort of thing, to define their plans?

They’re the masters. They’re the masters of that. Fine, there are the denunciations of Snowden and all that has come out of Wikileaks, and all those things that are no secret to anyone, because we suspected, but it’s been demonstrated. It’s been demonstrated that the servers, the Internet, are theirs. All the servers in the world, in the end, die in the North Americans’ servers. They are the mother of the Internet, and all the networks and services are controlled by them. They have access to all the information. And they don’t hesitate to record it. Facebook is an extraordinary database. People put everything on Facebook. Who are your friends? What are their tastes, what movies have they seen? What do they consume? And it’s a source of firsthand information.

Q. Have you been in contact with Kelly Keiderling, after what happened in Venezuela?

No, I haven’t had contact with her. I don’t know what was her final destination, after what happened (she was expelled from Venezuela for meeting with and financing terrorists).

Q. With the experience she has, how far was she able to penetrate into Venezuela, and Venezuelan universities?

I am certain that she got quite far. She’s a very intelligent agent, very well prepared, very capable, and very convinced of what she’s doing. Kelly is a person convinced of the job she is doing. She is convinced of the justness, from her point of view, of what she is doing. Because she is an unconditional representative of capitalism. Because she comes from capitalism’s elite. She is organic of the actions she is doing. There is no contradiction of any kind. And, based on the experience of her work, of her capability, I am sure that she managed to get very far, and gave continuity to a job which is not just for now, it’s a job she will go on doing for a long time, to reverse the process in Venezuelan universities. What’s going on is that up to whatever point they can reach, in the long term, that is what will show the Bolivarian process, in the measure of which the people are aware of what could happen. If that fascist right wing becomes uncontrollable, it could get into power again.

Q. What kind of person who has contacts, who could reach the people, such as by being an activist in a movement, could be captured by the CIA?

They will find them, they will try to do it. If it’s a young person and a leader, they will try to capture them for their interests. We have to train our leaders. We can’t leave that to spontaneity, we can’t leave that to the enemy. So, if we leave them to the enemy, those are spaces which the enemy will occupy. Any alternative project that we leave unattended, any alternative project that we don’t realize the necessity of getting close to, that is a project that the enemy will try, by all means, to take advantage of. Using the enormous amount of money they have for that, which has no limits, in terms of resources to be used, because they are playing with the future and, above all, the young are the key.

The good thing is that the young are the present of Latin America. The Latin American revolution which is there, which is everywhere, is of the young. If not, fine, it will never have results, and if you manage to make young people think differently, if you succeed in getting these youngsters to believe that savage capitalism is the solution to all their problems, then there will be no revolution for Latin America. It’s that simple.

USAID & the Cuban Five: Criminalizing Counterterrorism, Legalizing Regime Change

RT

By Nile Bowie

June 16, 2014

A mural, depicting five Cuban agents held in prison in the U.S. for over ten years, in Havana (Reuters / Enrique de la Osa)

Posters with portraits of five Cubans jailed in the United States – Rene Gonzalez Sehwerert, Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, Fernando Gonzalez Llort, Ramon Labanino Salazar and Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez – are dispayed in front of the Cuba’s Consulate during a demonstration in support of Cuban revolution in Sao Pablo, Brazil (AFP Photo / Nelson Almeida)

The plight of five imprisoned Cuban counterterrorism officers, known collectively as the Cuban Five, has been the subject of a growing campaign to lobby Congress in favor of releasing the men.

The five officers were monitoring Cuban exile groups based in Miami with an established track record of orchestrating terrorist acts inside Cuba. The group had informed US authorities of their actions, and were not in possession of any weapons, nor did they engage in any act of espionage against the US or cause harm to any person.

In September 1998, the five officers were arrested by FBI agents and were accused of conspiracy to commit espionage. Their trial, which lasted over six months, became the longest in US history. Though the group was never directly accused of espionage, nor were any acts of espionage committed, the five Cuban men were sentenced to a total of four life sentences plus 77 years.

No fair trial

The men were initially kept in solitary confinement for 17 months, and were later imprisoned in five separate maximum-security prisons spread across the US without the possibility of communication with each other. Their case represents the first time in US history that life sentences were meted out on espionage charges.

The consensus among various legal experts and advocacy groups is that political and partisan considerations worked against justice and the five Cuban men were not given a fair trial. The trial was held in Miami, a region that is synonymous with maintaining open hostility toward the Cuban government, making it incredibly difficult to seat an impartial jury in such a politically charged atmosphere.

According to reports, the US government commissioned several Miami-based journalists to write negative stories to discredit the five defendants, which were widely publicized to influence public opinion. Moreover, the US government even recognized in writing that it was unable to substantiate the conspiracy to commit murder charges against Gerardo Hernandez, one of the five defendants.

During the lengthy appeals process, a three-judge panel in 2005 overturned all of the convictions on the grounds that the defendants had not received a fair trial in Miami, but Washington pressured the Court of Appeals in 2006 to reverse the decision.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also concluded that the imprisonment of the group was arbitrary, and urged the US government to correct the situation. Despite dissenting opinions from judges in the Court of Appeals, the US Supreme Court intervened in 2009 to announce its decision not to review the case of the five Cuban nationals, despite strong arguments made by their defense attorneys.

Undermining Democracy Abroad

Public Good Project

May 23, 2014

by Jay Taber

propaganda

Mass consciousness regarding the abuse of power by the U.S. Government, now in the news thanks to Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, has mostly focused on agencies that spy on innocent people using warrantless wiretaps and email intercepts. While these abuses by the National Security Agency and the Department of Justice are sometimes used against US citizens who challenge U.S. policy on such topics as imperial wars and corruption of governance by Wall Street, they are also used against elected U.S. officials, foreign diplomats, and United Nations personnel. As electronic data collection by commercial data brokers and identity theft criminals increasingly becomes a nuisance and menace, communications monitoring by the U.S. Government threatens free speech, peaceful assembly and the ability of civil society to hold government accountable.

Since the 1960s, the abuse of power by U.S. agencies like the FBI and CIA has become common knowledge. Their involvement in undermining the Civil Rights Movement at home and the human rights movement abroad is well-documented. Less well-known is the involvement of the U.S. State Department in the undermining of democracy abroad, through such programs like the National Endowment for Democracy, US Aid for International Development, and the United States Institute of Peace.

Personifying these fraudulent programs operating out of U.S. embassies in places like Bolivia, Libya and the Ukraine, is former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Armitage — who served at the State and Defense departments under George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush — is perhaps best known for leaking the identity of CIA secret agent Valerie Plame as retribution for her husband U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s contribution to the exposure of the fraudulent weapons of mass destruction rationale for the invasion of Iraq. While the yellowcake scandal was overshadowed by the Plame affair, it pointed to the systematic deception used by the State Department to justify overthrowing foreign governments.