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The Oligarchs Behind the “Humanitarian” Regime Change Network Now Exploiting Jo Cox’s Death to Push For UK Labour Split

Mint Press News

October 22, 2018

By Vanessa Beeley and Whitney Webb

 

Nick Grono at the Concordia Summit in September 2016 – The Power of Partnerships

LONDON — Jo Cox, the late Labour MP whose tragic death in 2016 shocked Britain and the world, has recently become a rallying cry for forces within the U.K. Labour Party who seek to weaken Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and to return the party to the pro-intervention Tony Blair era. As this article (the final installment of our three-part series) will show, this effort to manipulate Jo Cox’s death is the latest move in a wider effort to turn Cox’s legacy to the advantage of pro-intervention interests in Britain and abroad, particularly with regard to foreign intervention in Syria. While these moves — from support for “humanitarian” intervention in Syria to the drive to split the U.K. Labour Party — are cast as people-driven objectives, they are in fact oligarch-driven.

Previous reporting on Jo Cox and her legacy revealed that the Jo Cox Fund, set up soon after Cox’s death, was created by a group of four pro-interventionist “humanitarians” — Mabel van Oranje, Gemma Mortensen, Tim Dixon and Nick Grono — all of whom have a history of involvement, either directly or indirectly, in past regime-change operations. They are all also connected to some of the world’s most ardent imperialists, as well as to the Not for Profit Industrial Complex (NPIC).

The NPIC is effectively the money-laundering operation of the world’s most powerful industrialists. By creating a socially appealing “not for profit” NGO that serves to influence public opinion in the direction of the industrialist agenda, the global elite ensure a monopoly over the chosen market. The oligarchy uses the NPIC to manufacture public consent for the schemes and campaigns that will maintain their power, privilege and wealth. Why would they create an entity that would be detrimental to their survival and success?

The NPIC gives an unsuspecting public the illusion of choice and a stakeholding in resolving our world issues. The reality is that we are being persuaded to “choose” the options that benefit only the world’s most powerful influencers and ensure the exploitation of humanity to secure supremacy for the very few.

The four founders of the Jo Cox Fund, referred to in this article as the “Jo Cox Four,” have used this fund to promote — among other causes — the U.S. coalition-financed White Helmets, whose primary purpose has been to escalate unlawful NATO state-proxy and direct military intervention in Syria.

In addition, these individuals behind the Jo Cox Fund have used that foundation to apply strategies aimed at promoting foreign military intervention that were first perfected during the NATO intervention in the Balkans, as several of the creators of the Jo Cox fund promoted that military intervention to great effect.

In applying those strategies to the current conflict in Syria, these players have helped develop a massive public-relations machine with the White Helmets at its center, and programmed that machine to use Cox’s death to sanctify the controversial group and shield it from scrutiny. Now, they are using her death to justify the creation of a new Labour party to prevent the ascendency of the anti-intervention platform of current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

As this article will reveal, this NGO pro-Syrian-regime-change network — of which the Jo Cox Fund is part — is being promoted by powerful oligarchs with connections to the U.K., U.S. and Canadian governments. In the context of the call to partition U.K. Labour, the efforts driven by these billionaires show that they are hardly “people driven” and are instead being pushed by the same pro-intervention, monied interests that have long supported regime change in Syria and have since helped to weaponize Jo Cox’s death.


This is Part III of a three-part series on the life and legacy of Jo Cox and the posthumous fund set up in her honor. Read part 1 here and part 2 here. In this final part of the series, we focus on exploring the oligarchs who are driving the NGO and PR nexus aimed at manufacturing consent in Western nations for regime change in Syria, with a particular focus on how these oligarch-driven efforts are now fueling an effort to divide the U.K. Labour Party in order to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-war policies. Notably, those efforts within U.K. Labour are using Jo Cox and her highly manipulated legacy as a rallying cry.


 

The eBay billionaires and the Syria regime-change PR machine

As previous reporting has detailed, the Jo Cox Fund — the posthumous fund created soon after the late MP’s death — was formed by a group of four individuals who have long been involved in manufacturing consent for foreign “regime change” wars, first in the Balkans and now in Syria, and have been aided in this effort by massive funding from governments and elite billionaires. Yet, of those elite billionaires, some have promoted the Jo Cox Fund founders — and, with them, their pet projects such as the White Helmets — more than others.

One billionaire in particular stands out. One of the “eBay billionaires” who amassed a fortune as the online auction company’s first employee, Canadian billionaire and “philanthropist” Jeffrey Skoll not only shares past connections to the Jo Cox Four but has continuously used his massive wealth and his “charitable” foundation to promote them and their causes.

Indeed, the Skoll Foundation — a partner of USAID, a NPIC-leading U.S. government organization that has a reputation for funding U.S.-friendly subversive forces in foreign countries — has provided funding to the groups directly linked to Jo Cox founders, such as Crisis Action and Global Witness. And the associated Skoll World Forum has promoted the cause of Western-backed regime change in Syria — hosting the founder of the White Helmets, James Le Mesurier; the current leader of the White Helmets, Raed Saleh; the program director of the White Helmet parent organization Mayday Rescue, Farouq Habib; as well as all four of the founders of the Jo Cox Fund: Mabel van Oranje, Gemma Mortensen, Tim Dixon, and Nick Grono.

 

Who is Jeffrey Skoll?

Following on from his success at Ebay that ensured Skoll’s meteoric rise to the ranks of the billionaire elite, Skoll has capitalized upon that success to garner multiple awards from within the monied elite circles that he now inhabits.

Skoll has been awarded the Carnegie Medal for Philanthropy, which is considered to be the equivalent to the Nobel Peace Prize for philanthropy. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a big-business club that is described as a “foreign policy think tank” with centers in Washington, New Delhi, Moscow, Beirut and Beijing. Former President Jessica Matthews said that her aim was to make Carnegie the place where world thinking can be incorporated into thinking about U.S policy and to transmit that thinking to the global audience.

On the Carnegie board of trustees is Syrian oil magnate Ayman Asfari, a U.K. resident and financial contributor to the Conservative government that has been at the forefront of the U.S. Coalition war effort in Syria. Asfari has been instrumental in financing much of the PR industry, including the White Helmets, that builds the “regime-change” narratives that criminalize the Syrian government and its allies, an effort detailed in Parts 1 and 2 of this series.

Skoll established Participant Media (PM) in 2004. As with so many of the social-consciousness documentary production sites that have sprung up in recent times to alter our perception with beautifully crafted storylines designed to mobilize bias in a particular direction, PM claims to combine the “power of a good story well told with opportunities for real world impact.” PM joins the throng of billionaire-funded and -founded media and PR agencies of power.

Diane Weyermann is PM’s president of documentary film and television. Weyermann previously worked with Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, which has played a pivotal role in promoting the White Helmet Oscar-winning “documentaries.” For seven years Weyermann was the director of the Open Society Institute New York’s arts and culture program. Weyermann also launched the Soros Documentary Fund which later became the Sundance Documentary Fund in 1996.

Skoll has been made an Officer of the Order of Canada “for his generous commitment to social causes and for his innovative practice of philanthropy.” Very often the bridge between big business and government agencies is made by such ostensibly “philanthropic” activities of the capitalist entities and individuals.

The Canadian government reportedly led the organization of the recent evacuation of alleged White Helmet operatives out of southern Syria via Israeli occupied Syrian territory in the Golan Heights, before they were transported to Jordan and on to their countries of resettlement, which include Canada, the U.K., France and Germany.

The Canadian government has been a consistently staunch supporter of the White Helmets, backing their multiple bids for the Nobel Peace Prize despite protests from groups and individuals who campaigned against Canada joining with the France-U.K.-U.S. (FUKUS) alliance that has strongly pushed for the downfall of the Assad government. Canadian foreign policy has effectively aligned itself with the Syrian-linked philanthrocapitalist sector led by individuals like Skoll.

Skoll slots into the billionaire complex that underpins the White Helmet structure with ease. In 2015, Skoll had a “conversation” with Mabel Van Oranje on “Belief in a Collective Future.” Skoll has donated heavily to the Clinton Foundation and met with Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state during the early days of the conflict in Syria. The Skoll Foundation has partnered in at least 21 commitments to programs designed by the Clinton Global Initiative. In April 2012, Clinton met with Skoll and Sally Osberg of Skoll’s charity during a U.S State Department-sponsored forum on government-business partnerships. The same month, USAID, the State Department/CIA contractor for expanding U.S global influence, announced a partnership with the Skoll Foundation to invest in health, energy, governance and food-security innovations. USAID has also provided at least $31m in funding to the White Helmets in Syria via one of its preferred subcontractors, Chemonics.

Skoll united with British business tycoon Richard Branson and Mabel Van Oranje in the funding of The Elders. Van Oranje resigned from her position as CEO of The Elders in 2012. It was Skoll’s Participant Media that produced Al Gore’s 2006 apocalyptic movie An Inconvenient Truth. Gore was Bill Clinton’s Vice President from 1993 – 2001. Skoll’s investment management firm, Capricorn Investment LLC, also received a $35 million investmentfrom Gore following the film’s success, which the firm invested into hedge funds and private partnerships, helping to grow Gore’s now sizeable fortune. Skoll co-founded Capricorn Investment LLC with former Vice President of Goldman Sachs Stephen George.

 

Skoll Foundation and Forum

When we start to look more closely at the “storytelling” partners of the Skoll Foundation, we draw even closer to the White Helmet PR industry. Skoll partners with the Sundance Institute, the BBC, NPR and Doc Society–Flex Fund, among others. The Sundance Institute, the BBC and Doc Society are central to the production and promotion of the White Helmet movie campaigns, including the Netflix White Helmet documentary that won the Oscar in 2016 and then Last Men in Aleppo that was nominated for the Oscar in 2017.

These organizations are literally the architects of “humanitarian war” and the White Helmets are their centerpiece, the ultimate “story” that, if told well, will draw Western nations deeper into the quagmire of a failed regime-change war in Syria. As Vanessa Beeley wrote in Architects of Humanitarian War:

I believe it’s safe to conclude that there is a vast, well-financed PR machine operating behind the scenes of the White Helmet organisation, whitewashing their discredited image and mapping out their political, media and Hollywood trajectory – in lock-step with the PR campaign is a media defence force headed up by Channel 4, The BBC and The Guardian. The hub of the film and PR sector is Doc Society.”

Listed among the Skoll Foundation “awardees” are Crisis Action and Global Witness — again linking to the White Helmet PR apparatus. Crisis Action brings together Brendan Cox, Gemma Mortensen and Tim Dixon of the Jo Cox Four. Crisis Action’s role in the White Helmet marketing complex was explored in detail in Part 2 of this series. Global Witness connects back to Mabel Van Oranje, who is on the advisory board with Alexander Soros.

The annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship is organized by the Skoll Foundation in partnership with the Said Foundation, or more precisely the Said Business School. The Forum convenes 800 social entrepreneurs, influencers, policy makers, philanthropists and students to “learn, problem solve and build community.”  The Said Foundation is “partnered” by Ayman Asfari, previously mentioned in connection with the White Helmet marketing team, headed up by the Syria Campaign.

The Skoll World Forum (SWF) was established in 2004. One of the sessions in the 2018 Forum was on “The Art of Co-creation: a Storytelling Model for Impact and Engagement.” As we have mentioned previously, almost the entire White Helmet PR team and White Helmet leadership have been listed as contributors to the SWF. These include James Le Mesurier, former British MI6 agent who established the White Helmets in Turkey and Jordan while employed by ARK Group; Raed Saleh, former mobile-phone salesman, now leader of the White Helmets; Tim Dixon MD, of Purpose; Farouq Habib, project manager at Mayday Rescue; and Brendan Cox, Mabel Van Oranje, Gemma Mortensen, and Nick Grono. CEO and president of the UN Foundation Kathy Calvin is also a contributor alongside the White Helmet team, and her role in promoting the billionaire-supported “humanitarian” group is further investigated later in this article.

In 2017, the SWF brought together Brendan Cox, Tim Dixon and Gemma Mortensen in a session entitled “Mobilizing a Movement: More in Common,” which focused on the Jo Cox-inspired movement to enable more “inclusive societies that look past our differences and embrace our common humanity.”

During this talk Dixon alludes to the iconic image of Alan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Turkey, which launched the refugee “crisis” in September 2015. The timing of this campaign, so rapidly adopted by the Jo Cox four and their associated PR agencies and billionaire network, was curiously in lock-step with the timing of the Russian intervention in Syria at the behest of the elected Syrian government. During the televised talk, Dixon describes the image of Kurdi’s body as “a defining moment for the More in Common impetus.” Dixon’s cynical exploitation of Kurdi’s death to promote the causes of the Jo Cox Four, including the White Helmets, was exposed by a statement given by Kurdi’s aunt, Tima Kurdi, in February 2017, in Canada:

Regime-change policy has destroyed my country and forced my people to flee. [U.S. Congresswoman] Tulsi [Gabbard]’s message was exactly what I have been trying to say for years, but no one wants to listen. [..]If the West keeps funding the rebels, we will see more people flee, more bloodshed, and more suffering. My people have suffered for at least six years.”

Tima Kurdi established very quickly that the furor over the refugee crisis, generated by the shocking images of her drowned nephew, was nothing more than a marketing campaign designed to facilitate a reaction and military push-back against the Russian intervention that threatened to derail the U.S. Coalition plans to topple the Syrian government.

Watch TEDXSkoll video showcasing a female White Helmets operative:

 

The many hats of Pierre Omidyar

Undeniably a formidable force in the promotion of the “Jo Cox Four” and the White Helmets, Jeffrey Skoll is not the only eBay billionaire involved in manufacturing consent for Syria regime change or in promoting the activities of the founding members of the Jo Cox Foundation. Indeed, Pierre Omidyar — the founder of eBay who was responsible for hiring Skoll and allowing him to amass his fortune — also shares many of the same connections to these individuals and the “humanitarian” regime change network currently exploiting the death of Jo Cox.

Like Skoll, Omidyar is also increasingly well-connected to the U.S. political establishment and was directly involved in promoting regime change in Ukraine alongside the Obama era U.S. State Department. Omidyar has a close relationship to Obama, having attended the same elite Hawaii school and having made more visits to the Obama White House between 2009 and 2013 than Google’s Eric Schmidt, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, or Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. He also donated $30 million to the Clinton Global Initiative and directly co-invested with the State Department, funding groups – some of them overtly fascist – that worked to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014.

Even after Obama left office, Omidyar continues to fund USAID, particularly its overseas program aimed at “advancing U.S. national security interests” abroad. Omidyar’s Ulupono Initiative, a venture-capital fund that operates in his home state of Hawaii, cosponsors one of the Pentagon’s most important contractor expos, a direct connection between Omidyar and the military industrial complex that profits from U.S.-backed regime-change wars.

However, Omidyar’s very clear connections to the U.S. political establishment and U.S.-led regime-change efforts have often been obfuscated by reports on Omidyar’s “philanthropy.” Indeed, Omidyar has been heavily promoted as an “entrepreneurial” philanthropist, having won the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy and received accolades in the mainstream press for his unique “way of giving.”

One of Omidyar’s charitable groups, the Omidyar Network, has given large grants to George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (where Jo Cox Fund founder Mabel van Oranje once worked) and the Tides Center, and has collaborated with the U.K. government and the Ford Foundation. Notably, another arm of Omidyar’s charitable network, Humanity United, provided a considerable portion of the funds that established the Clinton-promoted Freedom Fund, whose inaugural CEO was Nick Grono, one of the founders of the Jo Cox Fund.

Another “philanthropic” project of Omidyar’s is the New York-based publication, the Intercept. That publication was largely founded with the intent of publishing the leaked U.S. government documents provided by Edward Snowden, but over 90 percent of those leaks have yet to be made public  over five years after the Intercept’s founding, leading critics to accuse Omidyar of seeking to “privatize” those leaks.

Yet, of the documents that have been published, one published last year exposed the opposition paramilitary group, the Free Syrian Army, as taking marching orders from the Saudi royal family. However, that document was published by the Intercept only after the U.S. State Department itself began to report more honestly on the nature of these so-called “rebels,” even though the Intercept had the document in its possession since 2013.

Furthermore, Intercept writers covering Syria frequently promote Syrian “rebels” and the opposition while also promoting pro-regime change talking points. For instance, Murtaza Hussain – a long-time writer at the Intercept – has written numerous stories downplaying the terrorist and Wahhabist elements of the Syrian “rebels.” In the last three years, Hussain has written pieces portraying known Al-Qaeda propagandists, such as Bilal Abdul Kareem, and Al-Qaeda-linked organizations, such as the White Helmets, in an overwhelmingly positive light — failing to mention in both cases the significant evidence tying these entities to known terrorist groups.

In another piece, published in August 2016, Hussain gave voice to al-Nusra Front leadership in a lengthy interview that largely whitewashed the group’s Wahhabist leanings and links to terrorist acts in Syria. In September 2016, on Twitter, Hussain asserted that Saudi Arabia’s funding of armed factions was not necessarily “good” but that “there is little to indicate they contribute to terrorism.”

Hussain is by no means the only Intercept writer who has taken such a pro-opposition stance regarding Syria. A now infamous Intercept piece on Syria, published last September, committed glaring factual errors on basic facts about the war, while also mistranslating a speech given by Assad so as to link him to American white nationalists. In addition, last year, the paper hired Maryam Saleh, a journalist who has called Shia Muslims “dogs” and has taken to Twitter in recent months to downplay the role of the U.S. coalition in airstrikes in Syria. Saleh also has ties to the U.S.-financed propaganda group Kafranbel Media Center, which also has close relations with the terrorist group Ahrar al-Sham.

Even “anti-interventionist” Intercept journalists like Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald have come under fire this past year for allegedly promoting inaccurate statements that supported pro-regime-change narratives in Syria, particularly in regard to an alleged chemical-weapons attack in Douma. That attack is now widely believed to have been staged by the White Helmets.

Given Omidyar’s connections to the political establishment, his past efforts aimed at affecting Western-backed regime change, and the way in which the publication he owns has peddled misinformation on Syria, Omidyar — like Skoll — is very much a part of “humanitarian” regime-change complex that uses billionaire “philanthropy” as a disguise for the manipulation of public sentiment in order to justify foreign military intervention to a Western audience.

 

UN Foundation, Concordia Summit and the White Helmets

Image result for Nick Grono Concordia Summit

Nick Grono also attended the Concordia Summit in September 2016 – The Power of Partnerships

Three months after Jo Cox’s murder in September 2016, two of the Jo Cox Fund originators — Tim Dixon of Purpose and Nick Grono, CEO of the Freedom Fund — took part in the annual Concordia SummitDixon was a key participant in the Private Sector Forum on Migration and Refugees, with a focus on the Purpose-”incubated” refugee and migration hub. Their objective? To change hearts and minds in Europe in relation to the refugee “crisis” — a Syria-centric “crisis” that has been largely manufactured and sensationalized with the aim of criminalizing the Syrian government. The reality is that Syrian refugees are returning to Syria as vast swaths of Syrian territory is liberated from Western-backed terrorist occupation.

Brendan Cox was also a speaker at the 2016 event, as were many other supporters of U.S. Coalition intervention in Syria: Lina Attar, of the Karam Foundation; President and CEO of International Rescue Committee, David Miliband; Lara Setrakian of News Deeply, a “rebel”-partisan media outlet funded by Ayman Asfari; George Soros; Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner; and Hans Vestberg, UN Foundation board member —  to name a few.

Tim Dixon attends the 2016 Concordia Summit. (Photo: Concordia Summit website)

This is taken from the Purpose website in 2015:

Purpose is proud to have served as a first time programming partner for the 2015 Concordia Summit. Now in its fifth year, the Summit convenes the world’s preeminent thought leaders and decision makers to address the most pressing global challenges by highlighting the potential that effective cross-sector collaboration can have in creating a more prosperous and sustainable future.”

Jeremy Heimans, the co-founder and CEO of Purpose, spoke at this event. Their session, “IntroducingNew Power in a Multi-stakeholder World,” featured an exciting line-up of speakers, each pioneering change in their respective industries in innovative ways. The focus was on the “civil society” sectors and their ability to implement transformation via peer-driven participation campaigns. Tapping into global energy and human agency was order of the day. One of the panelists, Scott Heiferman, promoted his model “Meet Up,” which harnesses the power of people-to-people networking: “How can you empower people to turn to each other – how can you unlock that most beautiful phenomenon?”

Jeremy Heimans is also co-founder of an organization, Avaaz, that “unlocks that phenomenon” and harnesses the power of peer participation in influencing public opinion — particularly on Syria, as covered previously in our series of articles.

True to form, Purpose produced a report in May 2017, “Understanding the Conflicted Middle: European Public Opinion towards Refugees,” shifting hearts and minds on refugees and migrants in Europe. While this report presented a number of symptoms and remedies, it does not investigate the root cause of the global refugee crisis, which is due, to a great extent, to the U.S. policy of military intervention globally that results in the mass exodus of peoples from war-torn nations into Europe. There, these refugees are weaponized to manufacture consent for further Western military intervention by organizations that claim to be protecting their interests.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations H.E. Filippo Grandi; Founder and Chair, Soros Fund Management, and the Open Society Foundations, George Soros; and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada, John McCallum attend 2016 Concordia Summit – Day 2 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 20, 2016 in New York City. (Ben Hider/Getty Images North America)

Concordia’s annual report in 2016 described this summit as the “largest and most ambitious event to date, bringing together over 2000 thought leaders from across sectors, including General David Petraeus and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright … and philanthropist George Soros.”

Albright rose to notoriety with her dismissal of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children as being “worth it” when the U.S. imposed punishing and lethal economic sanctions on Iraq leading up to the first Iraq war in 1991 — sanctions that have, in part, persisted until today.

The Concordia Summit was established in 2011, just as the questionable “Arab Spring” was causing shock waves across the Middle East region. It was designed as an establishment intersection, a hub of global elite influencers and transformers. Cory Morningstar, an expert on the “smart power” complex, noted that the Concordia Summit was modelled on the success of initiatives such as the Wall Street Journal CEO Council and the Clinton Global Initiative: “Mathew Swifte (Chairman and CEO) and Nicholas Logothetis founded the Concordia Summit in February 2011 […] Swifte studied under global ‘leaders’ such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright..”

“The 2011 keynote address for Concordia (‘Cross-sector collaboration as a means of combating extremism and terrorism’) was given by U.S. President George W. Bush; followed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2012; and Andrew Liveris, President, Chairman & CEO of The Dow Chemical Company in 2013.” ~ from article by Cory Morningstar, Purpose Goes to Latin America

The 2018 Concordia Summit just took place in September at the Grand Hyatt, New York, describing itself as “The largest and most inclusive nonpartisan forum alongside the United Nations General Assembly.” The line-up of soft-power magnates and establishment political and capitalist moguls was impressive. The summit featured the cross-fertilization of influencers, decision-makers and opinion-formers across a multitude of sectors, who came together to ensure the “next generation of partnership-builders” would be shaped in their image with their agenda indelibly imprinted upon the future. In its own language, from the Concordia Annual Summit 2018 overview“The 2018 Concordia Annual Summit will provide a powerful forum to catalyze action through shared value approaches and social impact objectives.”

In 2018, UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) joined forces with Concordia as a “programming partner.” This was not the first time they had collaborated. In 2016, UNHCR also took a central role at the Concordia Summit. In the words of Matthew Swift, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Concordia:

The mission of UNHCR is truly one of the core values of Concordia’s work. The commitment to ensuring that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge, having fled violence, persecution, war or disaster at home is a subject we’ve heavily focused on in the past, and we look forward to continuing these calls to action at the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit.”

Other “programming partners” in 2018 included the NATO-aligned think-tank, the Atlantic Council; the George W. Bush Institute; Open Society Foundation; U.S Chamber of Commerce; U.S State Department (Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships); U.S Global Leadership Coalition; and the Wilson Center, a Washington-based global issues research center. The Concordia Annual Summit appears to be a thinly disguised cartel established to promote U.S private- and public-sector interests far into the future, with potentially devastating consequences for the countries where such policies will be implemented by the world’s elite “philanthro-capitalists.”

Perhaps more remarkable is how Concordia gathers together so many of the players in the decades-long campaign to destabilize Syria and topple its elected government from power. Players who would capitalize upon the assassination of Jo Cox to appropriate public funds and direct them into financing elements of the regime-change project in Syria such as the Al Qaeda-linked White Helmets.

 

Kathy Calvin and the UN Foundation

The UN connection extends beyond the role of the UNHCR, with the attendance of Kathy Calvin at the 2016 Concordia Summit. Calvin is the CEO and president of the United Nations Foundation. Calvin, Mabel Van Oranje and Jeffrey Skoll intersect on the Advisory Council of the Elders — alongside British entrepreneur and billionaire Richard Branson and Sally Osberg, who is the president and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. Once more, we see how the star-studded cast of the movement-building and social-change engineering world overlap and circulate in the ever expanding and interwoven spheres of influence.

In a 2011 interview with Forbes, Calvin laid out the objectives of the UN Foundation:

[The UN Foundation is a construct designed to bring together] some of the brightest entrepreneurs under 40 through the Global Entrepreneurs Council to take the UN and the UN Foundation – and our campaigns, partnerships, and programs – to the next level of innovation and impact. They are the next generation of entrepreneurs who understand that working with the United Nations is good for the world and for business. These innovative thinkers will help us engage with new generations to help the UN create 21st century solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems.” (emphasis added)

It would appear that Calvin is suggesting that the influence of the UN be exploited to expand U.S. private-sector business interests worldwide.

The UN Foundation came into existence in 1998 with a $1 billion commitment from former vice chairman of Time Warner and founder of CNN Ted Turner. His investment in the UN Foundation was described as his “gift for the future of Humanity.” Turner believed that the UN Foundation would “catalyze a new movement in philanthropy.”

The list of UN Foundation’s partners is another glittering array of the world’s most powerful foundations and individuals. The Skoll Foundation is on that list alongside AOL, Google, Royal Dutch Shell, Walt Disney, Unilever, and the governments of the U.S, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Australia, UAE, U.K. and the World Bank. UN Foundation is the heavyweight of philanthropy, backed by billionaires from a vast spectrum of market sectors and political backgrounds.

 

Ted Turner and Calvin’s connections to Clinton

Ted Turner endorsed Hillary Clinton’s election campaign in 2016. Time Warner was among the myriad of media moguls who financed the failed Clinton campaign to the tune of $50,000 – $100,000, according to statistics published by Politico. CNN reporter Larry King was once caught on open-mic in the early 1990s telling Bill Clinton that “Ted Turner would serve” him. A report in the Washington Times cited Turner as saying “Hillary Clinton is one of the smartest and most powerful people in the world.” Turner praises Clinton uncritically, ignoring her record as one of the most malevolent war-hawks of our generation. It is Clinton’s gleeful celebration of Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi’s sodomization and murder by the U.S.-supported “rebels” that has come to symbolize the moral vacuum of the U.S. neocon foreign policy — policy that also serves the billionaire corporatocracy presided over by moguls such as Ted Turner.

Calvin’s connections to the Clinton clan also run deep. In 2013, the UN Foundation and its Global Entrepreneurs Council announced the “MY World Global Initiative” at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting. According to the UN Foundation website:

MY World looks beyond 2015 – the endpoint for the current Millennium Development Goals – to engage people from all parts of the world and ensure their views will be part of the global conversation about the post-2015 global development agenda. To date, approximately one million people from 194 countries have contributed to MY World, and the UN Foundation is committed to helping secure one million more.” (emphasis added)

United Nations Foundation, Michael Bloomberg, Kathy Calvin on far right with Chelsea and Hillary Clinton. New York 2014. Signalling new initiative between Clinton Foundation, UN Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies. (Photo: Zimbio)

In 2014, Hillary Clinton, Kathy Calvin and Michael Bloomberg formed a new partnership to “close gender gaps.” Bloomberg is reported to be the eighth richest man in the U.S., with a net worth of $48.9 billion (2018) — a “philanthrocapitalist” whose causes range from gun control to climate change. The event, which took place on December 15, 2014 at Bloomberg Philanthropies in New York, sought to:

[H]ighlight the work of Data2X – a partnership launched by Secretary Clinton in July 2012 to identify and spur efforts to fill gender data gaps – and unveil new partnerships to improve data collection and use for women and girls. Better gender data are needed to guide policies, set targets, and monitor progress for women and girls.” (emphasis added)

Calvin’s links to the PR and media industries pre-date her appointment as CEO of the UN Foundation. Listed in Fast Company’s “League of Extraordinary Women,” before joining the UN Foundation in 2003, Calvin was President at AOL Time Warner Foundation, responsible for its “philanthropic” activities. Immediately prior to joining Time Warner, Calvin was Senior Managing Director at Hill and Knowlton. Hill and Knowlton is perhaps best known for its production of the hoax “incubator baby” story that provided the “humanitarian” pretext for the first Gulf War — later exposed, as recounted in The Diabolical Business of Global Public Relation Firms, as an elaborate staged event:

Before the first Gulf War, a fake news propaganda spectacle took place courtesy of WPP’s Hill & Knowlton. They were hired by Citizens for a Free Kuwait and eventually received nearly $10.8 million to conduct one of the most effective public relations campaigns in history. Hill & Knowlton helped create a national outrage against Iraq by publicizing the horrifying events supposedly caused by Iraqi soldiers during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.”

Interestingly, this connection then extends to Tim Dixon and Purpose New York. In September 2014, Purpose welcomed Josh Hendler as Chief Technology Officer. Just prior to joining Purpose, Hendler had held the same position at Hill and Knowlton Strategies.

Hendler’s mission was to “… develop the next-generation of tools to empower people across the globe to build movements…” (emphasis added).

Promotional image taken from the B-Team website.

Kathy Calvin has recently teamed up with billionaire Richard Branson on the Virgin Unite Foundation-incubated B-Team. Calvin is one of the 23 leaders whose mission is to “deliver a Plan B that puts people and planet alongside profit.”  The B-Team is managed by none other than Purpose. 

Branson, the Virgin tycoon, paid tribute to Jo Cox on his website in 2016. In this message, Branson presented a thinly veiled political message alluding to the “More in Common” movement that would shortly be established by Brendan Cox. Cox resigned from his position as director of More in Common in February 2018, following allegations of sexual harassment.

Branson also supports Nick Grono’s Walk Free Foundation, alongside Tony Blair, Hillary Clinton, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and Bill Gates. Grono is one of the Jo Cox Four. Branson has also promoted the Netflix White Helmet documentary, describing it as offering “real insight into the horror and humanity, happening right now in Syria.” Many of the 20 documentaries promoted by Branson as must-watch reports have been produced by Skoll Foundation’s Participant Media. Another example of the reach and power of the billionaire PR industry.

In a separate report, Vanessa Beeley mapped out the intricate PR and film production processes that propelled the White Helmet movies to international acclaim and award ceremonies. She writes, in Architects of Humanitarian War:

White Helmet propaganda has seduced droves of human beings with a genuine humanitarian reflex that has been exploited by this “centre-piece” perception-changing construct. The story told by the White Helmet media and PR agencies has elevated this Al Qaeda support group to celebrity cult status. The world has fallen in love with what should most horrify it, while the people of Syria have their voices asphyxiated by Hollywood glamour and transformational mass communication.”

Yet again, we see how the web of billionaire philanthrocapitalism functions and how it builds its platforms of influence and behavioral-change power base. The components of this web are interchangeable — mobile and flexible, able to move swiftly and effectively, powered by billionaire resources and financial monopoly of the desired market sectors. It is a formidable force for change in this world, but accountable to none. Thus questions must be asked as to who benefits most from the changes their apparatus will impose upon some of the poorest nations in this world and their poverty-stricken or war-displaced citizens.

The White Helmets benefit from the Billionaire Network

The Social Good Summit (SGS) is held annually during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) week. A gathering of elite change manufacturers and global policy makers who desire to shape the future we apparently want to live in by 2030:

A dynamic exploration of the world we want to live in by 2030, the Social Good Summit will focus on how we can unlock technology’s potential to make the world a better place.”

The SGS is organized in partnership with the UN Foundation, the UNDP (UN Development Programme), Ted Turner-funded media website Mashable, multinational investment bank UBS, Zionist cultural non-profit 92Y, and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

The 2017 SGS was clearly a vehicle to further promote and iconize the White Helmets, combining political elite with celebrity cult elements that reinforced the stellar, Oscar-winning status of the faux “humanitarian” group.

Connie Britton with Khaled Khatib and Moustafa Munir at the Social Good Summit 2017. (Photo: Instagram)

Connie Britton, actress and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, uncritically promoted the group’s carefully cultivated reputation as “civilian do-gooders” during an interview conducted at the summit. The White Helmet representatives Britton interviewed were Khaled Khatib and Mounir Mustafa. We have spoken about Mustafa’s links to armed groups in Syria in Part 2 of this series.

Despite having the term “social good” in the name, the organizations behind the SGS, as well as its promotion of weaponized “humanitarian” constructs like the White Helmets, again reveal a powerful billionaire-driven PR industry which seeks to manipulate the innate human desire to “do good” and benefit the collective into supporting policy moves — such as regime change abroad — that benefit only the global monied elite.

 

Using Jo Cox to divide the Labour Party

A more worrying development that has emerged from the exploitation of the murder of MP Jo Cox is the apparent attempt to divide the already beleaguered Labour Party and to undermine its leadership, in particular Jeremy Corbyn.

Cox herself turned against Corbyn shortly before she was killed in 2016 and was forced to apologize after a newsletter had been circulated by one of her aides with the headline “Why I knifed Corbyn.” Two weeks prior, Cox had co-written an article with Neil Coyle in the Guardian, expressing regret over nominating Corbyn and dissatisfaction with his leadership.

Shortly after Cox’s murder, billionaire Branson came into conflict with Corbyn over the privatization of the rail services in the U.K. Corbyn was pushing for public ownership and this came into direct confrontation with the business objectives of Branson’s Virgin empire.

On many fronts Corbyn is challenging the establishment paradigm. As journalist Jonathan Cook explained, “Corbyn is being destroyed, like blowing up a bridge to stop an advancing army.” Part of the advancing army is Corbyn’s apparent determination to investigate and bring an end to military intervention by the British government and its allies. This has set the cat among the Syria “regime-change” pigeons, who have striven towards the destabilization of Syria for at least eight years, many for longer.

When the Labour MP and close ally of Corbyn, Chris Williamson, tweeted his support for the co-author of this report, Vanessa Beeley, the NATO-aligned twittersphere was outraged. Oz Katerji, long-time supporter of the Syrian “revolution” and vocal detractor of the Syrian government, rose to blow up the bridges in an article for the New Statesman.

Katerji has close ties to NATO-aligned “research” website Bellingcat, which has been instrumental in maintaining international pressure upon the Syrian government by supporting the chemical-weapon narratives generated by the White Helmets. Bellingcat’s founder, Eliot Higgins, is employed by the Atlantic Council, which is funded by the U.K., UAE, and U.S. weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin, among others. Katerji is closely involved with the refugee “crisis,” on the “frontlines” as a team member of the Help Refugees NGO. The common factors that link all members of the war-for-peace-in-Syria cartel become more blatant as we delve deeper into their activities and connections.

Help Refugees is supported by none other than Soros’s Open Society Foundation and the Radcliffe Foundation, led by by philanthro-capitalist billionaire Frank Giustra, among other influential foundations. (Giustra’s connections to the billionaire network were covered in Part 2 of this series)

Katerji is also a dedicated promoter of the White Helmets, often seen attacking comments on Twitter that provide evidence of the White Helmet affiliations to extremist groups, including Nusra Front and ISIS. Katerji has been hosted by the Fabian Society in the House of Lords to discuss the refugee “crisis” in relation to Syria. Jo Cox’s connections to the Fabian Society are examined in Part 1 of this series.

In the New Statesman article, Katerji invoked the name of Jo Cox to effectively divide the Labour party along clearly defined lines. On one side, those Labour MPs who will not swing into war on the coat-tails of the Conservative Party, on the other those who would align themselves with the Blairite policies of “intervention at all costs.” Jo Cox is being used as a banner under which the Blairites can renew their campaigns to “do more” in Syria, which effectively signals greater military and economic pressure upon the Syrian people and perpetual war. For the Blairites, war can be prevented only by the departure of the Syrian Government and its replacement with an Islamist regime that would signify the end of Syria’s secular culture. This is an agenda that is not aligned with the wishes of the majority of the Syrian people, a fact that is apparently of no consequence to the “Jo Cox party.”

Oz Katerji delivering ambulances to Raed Saleh, leader of the White Helmets, in terrorist-occupied Idlib. (Photo: Raed Saleh Twitter)

The title of Katerji’s hit piece, indirectly aimed at Corbyn, was “Labour can be Jo Cox’s party or Chris Williamson’s – it cannot be both.” His article ends with the claim that there is a “war for the heart of the Labour party underway; ultimately Labour cannot be both the party of Jo Cox and the party of Chris Williamson. If Williamson’s latest endorsement receives no censure from the Labour leader’s office, the answer to that question will be heard loudly and clearly all the way from Westminster to Damascus.”

Watch Oz Katerji heckle Corbyn at a Stop the War Coalition conference in London in 2016:

Katerji is right in one way, but what is happening is a much bigger war. It is a war against humanity. A war during which we must connect ourselves even more closely to the peoples of nations under attack by the perpetual war industry sustained by the billionaire network. The powers that be are exploiting every possible avenue to demonize those who would challenge their agenda. From “anti-Semitism” to “genocide denial,” they are weaponizing tragedy and history to serve their own purposes. As Jonathan Cook puts it:

The corporate elites have no plan to go quietly. Unless we can build our ranks quickly and make our case confidently, their antics will ensure the paradigm shift is violent rather than healing. An earthquake, not a storm.”

 

Chuka Umunna’s new think tank

Beyond Katerji’s invocation of Jo Cox as a justification to divide U.K. Labour and return it to the pro-intervention party it once was under the leadership of former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, there is considerably more evidence that the same billionaire-led “humanitarian” regime-change network working to promote regime change in Syria is also intimately involved in the effort to divide the party. Look no further than Labour MP Chuka Umunna.

Umunna has long been a vocal critic of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, whom he has likened to “nasty trolls” for opposing war abroad. Umunna has long staunchly supported U.K. military adventurism, consistently supporting the deployment of U.K. military forces abroad as well as supporting regime change in Syria and the bombing of that country. Indeed, Umunna’s pro-intervention stance is so well defined that former U.K. Prime Minister and pro-interventionist Tony Blair once promoted Umunna to be the future leader of the Labour party.

More recently, Umunna has played a critical role in the anti-Semitism smear campaign targeting Corbyn, calling Corbyn’s Labour “institutionally racist” despite Corbyn’s long past as an anti-racism campaigner. The anti-Semitism issue was also used by Umunna to cast doubt on Corbyn’s ability to lead the party, and to promote a split of that party if Corbyn continued on in his current role as leader.

Given Blair’s past endorsement, Umunna seems poised to lead a new Blairite Labour spin-off if efforts to divide the party are successful. In this context, it is important to note that Umunna himself is directly connected to the same billionaire-led nexus that includes the humanitarian “regime-change” network that has been the focus of this series.

On October 15, Umunna announced via a column in the Independent that he would be chairing a new “progressive” think tank, Progressive Centre UK. However, as Umunna’s own column reveals, the Streatham MP repeatedly conflates “progressivism” with the “centre-left,” which Umunna defines as the politics of neo-liberal corporatists like Tony Blair, Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau.

While Umunna’s new think tank does not yet describe its funding or its partners, it does openly note that it is proudly part of the “Global Progress” network, which is an outgrowth of the Global Progress Initiative (GPI). GPI was created in 2009 by the Center for American Progress, a U.S. think tank led by John Podesta, long-time Clinton associate and chair of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign, as well as another Clinton confidante, Neera Tanden. GPI promotes former neo-liberal leaders like Tony Blair of the U.K., Bill Clinton of the U.S., Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark, Justin Trudeau of Canada, and Ricardo Lagos of Chile as “progressives.”

Notably, Umunna’s ties to John Podesta and the Clintons precede the creation of this new think tank, as Umunna reached out to Podesta, then chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and offered to advise Clinton campaign staff on how to beat the “American Jeremy Corbyn,” U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.

Umunna’s Progressive Centre UK makes it clear that is the U.K. branch of the Global Progress network, as it promotes its partners as the Global Progress network’s other branches in Canada (Canada2020), Italy (Volta) and France (Terra Nova). The Progressive Centre UK’s Italian partner, Volta, does not have a single Italian on its advisory board, despite being an Italian political think tank. Its advisory board includes former Senior Adviser for Innovation to Hillary Clinton, Alec Ross; former U.K. Labour politician and minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, David Miliband; French-born Murdoch lobbyist, Frederic Michel; and former Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Notably, David Miliband was once promoted as the “stand-in” for Jo Cox’s seat in Parliament following her murder and encouraged by Blairites within the Labour Party to challenge Jeremy Corbyn for leadership of the party.

Thorning-Schmidt’s inclusion in this network is also important given that she is currently CEO of Save the Children, where Jo Cox once worked, as did Brendan Cox until his “inappropriate behavior” was exposed. Thorning-Schmidt is a board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations alongside Mabel van Oranje. She is also a member of the board of the International Crisis Group (ICG) alongside George Soros; former Treasury Secretary under Clinton, Larry Summers; and Frank Giustra, among others.

As mentioned in Part 2 of this series, ICG and Save the Children — which both are intimately linked to Thorning-Schmidt — are part of the Crisis Action network, which is directly connected to the Jo Cox Four through Gemma Mortensen, Brendan Cox, and Tim Dixon, as well as Mabel van Oranje. Thorning-Schmidt’s connections are even more notable in the context of the push to divide the U.K. Labour party, given that she is married to Stephen Kinnock, a U.K. anti-Corbyn Labour MP who led the original efforts to split the Labour party following concern over Corbyn’s rise.

Like Volta, the Global Progress Network’s Canadian branch, Canada2020, is similarly problematic. While casting itself as an “independent” and “progressive” think tank, it proudly lists its partners as multinational corporations including Facebook, Google, Amazon, General Electric, massive multinational mining conglomerate Rio Tinto, Mastercard, and Shell Oil. Canada2020 recently hosted the Global Progress summit that Umunna promoted in his column announcing Progressive Centre UK. Umunna attended that summit, which was also attended by Tim Dixon of the Jo Cox Four, as well as Ben Scott of the Omidyar Network and John Podesta himself.

Though the newly-minted Progressive Centre UK has yet to host an event or make its donors and partners public, the other branches of the Clinton-linked Global Progress Network make it clear exactly what this new Umunna-led group will support and with whom it will associate.

 

Conclusion: Much exposed, much delving yet to do

The Jo Cox Fund, set up following the MP’s sudden and tragic death, formed the basis for the oligarch-backed NPIC network that would weaponize Cox’s death in order to promote pro-intervention policies and to attack actual progressive politicians in the U.K. Labour party who would oppose such British allied intervention abroad.

In their efforts to promote and enact regime change abroad, particularly in Syria, the Jo Cox Four have used their connections to the global elite and elite-funded “humanitarian” organizations to exploit the sympathy and outrage provoked by her death in order to manufacture consent for the pro-intervention policies that are the hallmark of the Blairite wing of U.K. Labour.

However, as the myriad connections between this “humanitarian” regime-change network and elite billionaires show, these policies are supported and designed not by the people but by oligarchs and the political elite. Only by masking their otherwise unpopular policies in the cloak of Jo Cox’s tragedy, and humanity’s natural empathy for good samaritans and the downtrodden, has this small group of powerful individuals been able to launder disastrous wars and military adventurism as “the right thing to do.” The Jo Cox Fund and the four individuals behind it truly exemplify the group of “middlemen” who engineer this manipulation at the behest of some of the world’s richest and most controversial figures.

Though over two years have passed since Cox’s murder, her death continues to be weaponized to suit this same agenda. Now, the global elite continue their fight to oust Jeremy Corbyn from power, fearful that the political triumph of a pacifist will greatly complicate their plans to keep the U.K. embroiled in endless wars abroad, serving their ever expanding economic and global power ambitions.

Yet they can succeed only by hiding their true role in their efforts to oust Corbyn and weaken Labour by dividing it. That is the precise reason that these oligarchs, through their vast fortunes, have constructed a massive inter-connected network of “humanitarian” organizations to convince us that their policies are “people-driven” when they are really “oligarch-driven.”

However, such efforts can bear fruit only under cover of darkness. Only by shining light on this nefarious network, as we have begun to do here, can the public be warned that they are being deceived. No one knows better than the oligarchs that a well-informed public is the greatest threat to their neoliberal policies, their wars, and their ultimate goal of global market monopolies and resource supremacy.

While this investigation has revealed many aspects of this oligarch-driven network, it has only scratched the surface. More work in this field is needed and we encourage any and all inquiring minds to delve deeply into this billionaire-built “humanitarian” regime-change network, exposing its true motives and its manipulative bias mobilization techniques that threaten all our futures.

 

 

[Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team. You can support Vanessa’s journalism through her Patreon Page.]

[Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.]

The NGOisation of Nicaragua

Ymgyrch Cefnogi Nicaragua Cymru – Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign

August 6, 2018

 

A woman sweeps the Cuba Plaza backdropped by a mural depicting Cuba’s former President Fidel Castro and Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, in Managua, Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

It looks like the worst of the violence in Nicaragua is over. It would seem that the self-declared aim of the opposition – to remove Daniel Ortega from power – has failed, at least for now. Though it is likely that there will be sporadic outbreaks of further violence, both sides will now examine the reasons why protests over pensions turned into violent confrontation which led to 300 dead, and what looks like a soft coup (see here for an on the spot account by a US human rights activist) .

After the initial protests and deaths, the opposition coalesced around the Alianza Civica. Many of the players in this unlikely alliance came from the business sector (previously happy to sit down with the Sandindistas); civil society; and students. Some of the organisations were directly funded by the National Endowment for Democracy. Others had decided the wind was now blowing against the Ortega Presidency, and it was time to jump ship. All were held together by the ‘mediation’ of the Catholic Church. Ironically, the church could be said to have sown the seeds of a lot of the discontent with the Sandinista government when they manoeuvred to get rid of the right to abortion three weeks before the Presidential election in 2006, which the FSLN won after 16 years out of power.

Contradictions in the Nicaraguan opposition

If you want to find out what the opposition hoped for, you can do no worse than read this by Azahálea Solís (who was part of the National Dialogue), written shortly after the National Dialogue talks broke down at the end of May. The reality is this was the high point in the opposition to the Ortega government, with a single demand for him to step down with elections to follow quickly.

This was explicit from the beginning. Miami-born student leader Lesther Aleman received widespread praise from some sections of the Nicaraguan and international press when he told Daniel Ortega in the first Dialogue meeting: “This is not a dialogue table, it is a table to negotiate your departure, and you know it very well because it is the people who have requested it!… Surrender before the entire population!”

By the end of the third meeting at the end of May opposition organisations were actively encouraging a military coup. On June 1 electoral observation organisation Etica y Transparencia called on “the corresponding authorities to ensure the appearance in the courts of these two (Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo) thus-far alleged criminals” and on the Army to “ensure implementation of the prompt and necessary arrests, as well as  a fair trial.” Etica y Transparenica have long received National Endowment for Democracy funding through the National Democratic Institute. In 2012 one of EyT’s leading lights made the jump in the other direction after 11 years with Etica y Transparencia. Abril Perez became a Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, where she still works today.

Seen from two months on, it’s easy to see that if the opposition had not obsessed with removing Ortega here and now via a soft coup, instead of making changes to the electoral system and timetable (which was already being discussed with the Organisation of American States), then they would now be in a strong position. The OAS said that electoral reform proposals would be presented to the government in January 2019.

Instead, the Alianza went down the road of more road blocks, more confrontation, more economic pain. Or what Michael Healy, one of the business leaders in the National Dialogue, stated: “We are willing to pay the price [of continued street conflict] to see Ortega leave.” The reality was, of course, it wasn’t Healy and his fellow members of the Alianza who were paying the price on the streets. Their position is comprehensively taken apart here, describing the contradictions which existed within the Alianza.

Contradictions at home

Those same contradictions exist with those who having been supporting the opposition outside of Nicaragua – Wales and the UK included. At first glance their criticism of the FSLN governments since 2007 comes from the left. Ortega has betrayed Sandinismo, with Nicaragua’s neo-liberal ‘navigation of capitalist waters’ (as one journalist described it to us in February). It is curious then to see SOSNicaraguaUK re-tweeting messages from Florida Republican Congress members, some of the most reactionary in the US. Stranger still to see them re-tweeting Trump Vice President Mike Pence, who’s politics are straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale. The VP for Gilead has called for the removal of a string of governments in Latin America.

Many of the opposition supporters in the UK have had long relationships with Nicaraguan NGOs. Many of the NGOs sprung up after the chaos that engulfed Nicaragua when the revolution ended in 1990. The huge experiment in participatory democracy in 1980s Nicaragua cleaved into two halves – a ‘professional’ NGO sector which attracted foreign funding, and grassroots organisations (‘GROs’, like the co-operatives, unions and the Movimiento Comunal) which were left to themselves. Their fates couldn’t have been more different. From 1990 to 2005 NGO numbers grew from 300 to 2,000, and their funding grew from $90 million in 2000 to $289 million in 2005. GROs fared less well. Trade union membership fell from 22% in 1989 to less than 8% in 2008. The number of co-operatives fell from 3,800 to 400 in 1999 (see here for an excellent analysis of the NGOisation of Nicaragua). The success of the NGOs were due to neo-liberal programmes emphasising the sector over governments, and many of the brigadistas during the 80s moving into positions within aid and funding agencies, and channelling funds to ‘trusted partners’ in Nicaragua.

To a great extent this has been reversed since the FSLN regained power in 2007. Trade unions membership has grown considerably, and the number of co-operatives has passed 4,500. At the same time the funding of NGOs in Nicaragua has been squeezed, as donor countries have either chosen to prioritise other regions, or have refused to support an Ortega-led Nicaragua.

Accountable to whom?

What has all this got to do with the unrest? Many of Nicaragua’s NGOs have thrown in their lot with the opposition. Many of the grassroots organisations – like the ATC, the Co-operative sector, and the Movimiento Comunal – have continued to call for support for the National Dialogue. Unlike the trade unions, these three have no formal link with the FSLN. On many occasions they have challenged the government on their policies. But they still were quick to support the dialogue.

The difference between the NGOs and GROs is striking for a very important reason, one which was highlighted by the research above. The grassroots organisations are constituted from the ground up, accountable to their members, and speak on their behalf. The NGOs have no formal accountability to their beneficiaries (they rarely have members), and are more accountable to their donors than Nicaraguans. As we have noted elsewhere, many of the most vocal organisations in the opposition have received over $4 million from the National Endowment for Democracy over the past four years. Even more striking, USAID pumped $31 million into Nicaragua last year.

What is puzzling is that many of the supporters of SOSNicaraguaUK know this. Many have visited Nicaragua for decades, have long lasting friendships within the NGOs, but have also worked with the grassroots organisations.

So why have they decided to privilege the viewpoint of the NGO sector, whilst ignoring independent organisations in Nicaragua which are democratic and bottom-up, and who call for a National Dialogue as the best way to avoid further bloodshed in the country? Here are some of the views from Nicaragua they don’t share.

Extract from Statement by ATC, May 17 (Association de Trabajadores del Campo has 52,000 members, and is a member of Via Campesina)

Historically, the ATC has been a participant in the Sandinista struggle. In truth, we have not felt consulted or represented by the current FSLN government. The current coup attempt makes use of these historical contradictions and is trying to co-opt the symbols, slogans, poems and songs of Nicaragua’s Sandinista Revolution, since of course the rightwing has none of its own. However we may feel about Daniel Ortega, the ATC would never contribute to making chaos and sowing violence in order to force the collapse of the democratically elected government in order to install a more docile, Washington-friendly neoliberal government. There are clearly real frustrations in sectors of the
population, especially youth, and if these sectors are unable to find popular organizing processes, they will end up being the cannon fodder for a war, which would be the worst possible situation for the Nicaraguan people.

Extract from statement by SOPPEXCCA, July 12 (SOPPEXCCA is a second tier co-operative with 15 co-operatives made up of 650 families. Similar statements have been issued by the co-operative sector body CONACOOP).

‘The UCA SOPPEXCCA, as an entity of organised small producers, promotes a culture of peace, harmony, respect for the law and democratic participation.

We therefore give our support to peaceful solutions and call for an end to the culture of violence generated in our country owing to the events that we are experiencing and which affect us both individually and collectively, since the peace that we enjoyed in our Nicaragua disappeared in the most abrupt and tempestuous fashion.

We feel the grief of many Nicaraguan families who have lost loved ones, tranquillity and have to face up to the consequences.

We, as Nicaraguans, will also face consequences as it is evident that there will be an economic slowdown that will affect the majority of our people, especially the poorest families, the majority.

Sadly, many dreams are being left behind as we wait for the shining light of peace to emerge again; reconciliation and work will be our standard bearers as we endeavour to lift our country out of the poverty levels we find ourselves in.

U2’s Bono and The CIA: The Dangers of Celebrity Activists

American Herald Tribune

August 2, 2018

By Thomas C Mountain

 

U2’s Bono picked a Capo Grande from the US intelligence community to run his “One” NGO, choosing Gayle Smith, who as Senior Director of the US National Security Council and Special Advisor to President Barack Obama used to tell the CIA what to do, especially when it came to Africa.

Ms. Smith, also known as “Obama’s Quiet Consigliere”, is infamous for her heart felt eulogy based on over 30 years of friendship at the funeral for Meles Zenawi, today Ethiopia’s “No.1 Most Hated Person”.

Previously head of USAID, known in Cuba as USCIA, Ms. Smith got her start putting time in the front lines for the agency, fresh out of college, spending years as a “journalist” (clergy and journalists are two of the CIA’s favorite covers) in the Horn of Africa of all places.

After years of paying her dues “where diarrhea is a way of life”, she became a favorite of Madeline Albright and was awarded the Chief of Staff position at USAID in 1994 only three years after ending her journalism career. Think about it, “Award Winning Journalist” to day to day control of some 10,000 employees and Billion$ to spend in only 3 years? USAID or USCIA?

+++

Bono, who recently found himself forced to apologize after his “One” staff in South Africa sued them for sexual harassment, makes sure those that labor for his good causes are well compensated, at least at the top, with Ms. Smith pulling down close to $500,000 a year.

Speaking of ethics Bono’s name turned up in the Panama Papers, hey, the guy hates taxes, who doesn’t?

Of course for NGO’s fighting on the right side, fat salaries and juicy perks are S.O.P. with “overhead” accounting for 50% or more of expenditures.

Gayle Smith has put the CIA and a pretty impressive list of NGO’s on the same page and was the person most responsible for founding the Center for American Progress, whose boss, John Podesta chaired the Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign. Then there is the Enough Project as in “Enough of the CIA’s Enough Project in Africa” and its mouthpiece, George Clooney, founded by Ms. Smith and infamous for occasionally emitting brays of outrage regarding some crime in Africa, often times over matters long past. Does the name John Prendergast ring a bell?

Ms. Smith’s proved her value to the Clinton Mafia as head of the Africa desk at the National Security Council in 1998-2000 under Tony Lake, Clinton’s National Security Adviser, when the Ethiopian gangster government under Meles Zenawi invaded Eritrea, a crime today’s Ethiopian P.M. has apologized for. Close to 150,000 dead and 40% of Eritreans refugees, Gayle Smith and Tony Lake were out to get newly independent Eritrea on its knees where it belonged and tried to use Ethiopia to do its dirty work. And when war didn’t work they brought on UN Security Council sanctions against Eritrea in 2009 when Ms. Smith returned to the White House as “Barry O’Bomber’s” right hand and saw that Susan Rice was turned loose at the UN to threaten and cajole enough votes at the UN Security Council.

The history of most of the crimes directed by Gayle Smith remain buried deep in the bowels of the US intel community, with yet unknown acts of sabotage and destabilization committed by “humanitarians” working for the USAID in politically troubled spots on the planet.

One thing is for sure that when celebrity activists like Bono and George Clooney get involved in the 3rd World, those supposedly benefiting by their charity had better watch out for celebrity wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing

.

*(Bono Vox (U2) Toronto Int. Film Festival 2011 Image credit: Marco Manna/ flickr)

 

 

[Thomas C. Mountain is an independent journalist in Eritrea, living and  reporting from here since 2006. See thomascmountain on Facebook or  best contact him at thomascmountain at g mail dot com.]

Purpose Goes to Latin America

Purpose Goes to Latin America

August 8, 2018

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

 “How do global powers orchestrate destabilisation and war? And how are propaganda constructs like the White Helmets brought to life? The only way to even begin to answer those questions is to follow the money, analyse the networks and interrogate the messaging. In ‘Purpose goes to Latin America’ Cory Morningstar, with Wrong Kind of Green’s Forrest Palmer, show how New Power exponents like Jeremy Heimans operate through elite networks, with seemingly endless incubations, to shape and capitalise upon ongoing destabilisation/humanitarian war/regime change. We are shown how Heimans and his networks are most concerned with the economics of behaviour change, attention metrics and shaping public narratives framed as giving “consumers” “opportunities to shape their own future”. We are shown how New Power exponents are socially engineering consent for the endless consumer economy, but sell themselves as pioneers of ‘change’ and builders of social movements for ‘the people’ when clearly it is neoliberal forces that call the tune. Morningstar and Palmer’s explication of the networks, funders, and talking points being deployed shows that the very same New Power exponents who delivered for the global elites in Syria are preparing to deliver more of the same in Latin America.”— Australian activist, Wrong Kind of Green Collective, Michael Swifte

 

Purpose website: “Purpose moves people to remake the world.”

Preface:

Both Avaaz and for-profit sister organization, Purpose, have been key players in building mainstream acquiescence both domestically and internationally for the destabilization of sovereign states.

This pattern goes back to at least 2004 when Avaaz co-founders campaigned for foreign intervention via a no-fly zone on Darfur under the auspices of Res Publica, an NGO founded by Tom Perriello (co-founder of DarfurGenocide.org, later U.S. Congressman), Ricken Patel (consultant for the United Nations, co-founder of DarfurGenocide.org) and Tom Pravda (U.K. diplomat, U.S. State Department). In 2007, these same individuals founded Avaaz in addition to Ali Pariser (MoveOn), Andrea Woodhouse (World Bank) and spouse David Madden (World Bank). Co-founders of Purpose include David Madden as well as James Sleezak. Purpose Europe was co-founded with Tim Dixon, who has co-founded seven organizations since 2010 including The Syria Campaign, The Rules, Movilizatorio (MOV) and the Jo Cox Foundation.

[To view the full bios and interlocking mind map, see Appendix I, attached to this report.]

In addition to the aforementioned individuals, Avaaz was also co-founded by parent organizations MoveOn and Res Publica with financing from George Soros’ Open Society Institute (OSI). Assistance was also provided by OSI’s Arych Neier. Aryeh Neier is President Emeritus of the Open Society Foundations and served as President from 1993 to 2012. He is the co-founder of Human Rights Watch (1988) which was founded in 1978 as the U.S. Helsinki Watch Committee, financed by the Ford Foundation.

“Other key elements of the international mobilization include Avaaz, which is already an OSI grantee and close collaborator.” — Memorandum, Cc: George Soros, Aryeh Neier, Jonathan Soros from Nancy Youman, “Recommended next steps for OSI on climate”, July 10, 2009; revised August 10, 2009

 

 “When we created Human Rights Watch, one of the main purposes at the outset was to leverage the power, the purse and the influence of the United States to try to promote human rights in other countries.” — Aryeh Neier [Source]

On January 16, 2007, the article Avaaz.org: MoveOn Goes International [Avaaz MoveOn Goes International] discloses the following: 1) MoveOn and Res Publica are the founding/parent NGOs of Avaaz, 2) the MoveOn model developed a new small-donor base for Democratic candidates, and helped win a number of key elections, 3) OSI was confirmed to have given financial backing to Avaaz for its start-up and, 4) there were no corrections or retractions by the author. Supporting evidence to the above is provided regarding the Avaaz launch by people integral to its conception. In the article, comments were made by Paul Hilder (recognized as an Avaaz co-founder at this early stage) and Lee-Sean Huang. Huang was a campaigner for Res Publica and Avaaz from 2006-2007. He then went on to Human Rights Watch (2007-2008), United Nations (consultant, 2013-2015) and Purpose (2009-2016) to his current role as “Head of Community” at New Power. Neither Hilder nor Huang disputed any of the authors findings.

In 2012 Wrong Kind of Green began to document the extensive research into the relationships and alliances behind Avaaz. This has resulted in two separate series. The first written  in 2012 and the second ongoing series commencing in 2017. (Side note: Although perhaps distressing, we implore citizens and activists alike, especially those in the Global South, to read both series.)

[September 10, 2012: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War]

[July 27, 2017: AVAAZ: The Globe’s Largest & Most Powerful Behavioural Change Network]

The research demonstrates the nefarious and hegemonic role of NGOs within the world’s existing power structure. The non-profit industrial complex serves hegemony as a sophisticated fine-tuned symbiotic mechanism in a continuous state of flux and refinement. The ruling elite channel an immeasurable amount of resources and tools through these organizations to further strengthen, protect and expand existing forms of  power structures and global domination, inclusive of white supremacy. This forms a symbiotic relationship between the non-profit industrial complex and the hand that feeds.  The outcome is soft power in its most efficient form.

Foreign policy, neocolonialism, imperialism, and intervention are all instruments that must be utilized with sharp precision to achieve these goals. It is for this reason that NGOs such as Avaaz and Purpose are given the tools, support and funding required to continuously expand and multiply. As such, they are key force multipliers in servitude to the quest of western dominance.

“The UNHRC, and its supportive NGOs such as the US-staffed and Soros-funded Human Rights Watch, impose a singular, Eurocentric definition of democracy whose implementation has not only blocked popular and direct forms of democracy, but also directly contributed to the generation of inter-ethnic strife in many post-colonies of the periphery.” — FORCE MULTIPLIERS THE INSTRUMENTALITIES OF IMPERIALISM, Maximilian C. Forte, 2015

Taking it Global: Strengthening & Expanding Current Power Structures Utilizing the Language & Principles of New Power

If power dominated through hierarchy and coercion – the emergent “new power” model dominates with influence and persuasion. And while this has been achieved for some decades now by the NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial, more and more  corporations, institutions and states, are now applying it to their business models. The key differences are that 1) the organizers remain invisible and 2), the populace is manipulated into believing that they control said movements.

At the helm of this new model is Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans. Purpose, the PR firm (with many arms) specializes in movement building and behavioural change.

Heiman’s vision is to organize “people not as citizens but as consumers” to further empower corporations and brands that he refers to as “the angels”. Partners include some of the world’s most powerful corporations, foundations and institutions including The Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, Unilever, Ikea, General Electric, Starbucks, TED, Oxfam, SEIU, WHO, Unicef, ACLU, British Telecom, the Concordia Summit and Nike. Collaborators include We Mean Business and The B Team which is registered to the address of Purpose New York. With strong ties and loyalties to many elite institutions and oligarchs such as Purpose partner the United Nations (where Heimans cut his teeth as in intern  in 1999), the Omidyar Network  a[1] and Virgin’s Richard Branson (founder of The B Team, The Elders, Carbon War Room, etc.), Purpose is now global with seven international offices operating in New York, San Francisco, London, New Delhi, Nairobi, Sao Paulo, and Sydney. This expansion is in line with new behavioural insight teams that are steadily proliferating in government buildings across the globe.

The New Power Structure, April 5, 2018, The New York Times:

“These organizations are often founded by what you might call disappearing organizers. Somebody comes up with a compelling concept, like TED or Black Lives Matter. The concept gives people a sticky group identity; many people think of themselves as Tedsters. The core idea is spreadable, actionable and connected — it allows participants to subcreate in local and flexible ways. Tedsters organize and attend over 20,000 local TEDx events. The founder doesn’t dominate the network so much as manage the community.”[Emphasis added]

Purpose Website

“The co-founder of GetUp! might be the most influential Australian in the world.” — The Monthly, April, 2018

March 31, 2018, Angels and Demons – Otherwise Known as the Conquerors and the Conquered:

The concept of “new power” has been named by CNN as one of ten ideas that can change the world. “Originally laid out as the Big Idea in Harvard Business Review and subsequent TED talk, new power offers a frame to understand the distributed and participatory models that are rising in business, life and society.” [OuiShareTV]

According to Heimans, “power traditionally functions as a currency, something valuable to which society wants to cling. The new power, on the other hand, works like a current: it is fluid. While the old forms of power are based on pyramidal forms and a power that goes from “top down”, the new power works in reverse, “as an “upload”. The new models of power are founded and inhabited by the coordination and agency of the masses, without participation these forms of power remain empty. These new models are collaborative platforms that need the active collaboration of their participants to survive.” [Source]

What the “new power” model actually represents is capitalism in its most efficient form. Citizens, en masse, are utilized, organized and mobilized to provide social media online content – which is then captured and exploited for increased corporate revenues – with no monetary compensation for their labour. Although such movements may appear to be “founded and inhabited by the coordination and agency of the masses” (Heimans) – they have been largely created, or co-opted, at or since inception. The “new power” “uploads” to an existing structure. The structure responds by “downloading” an illusion of capitulation in order to satisfy/empower the masses. Yet, by design, its true triumph is the achievement of the following: 1) creating/accelerating economic growth (i.e. market mechanisms),  2) consolidating added power into the hands of the West, 3)  the further insulating of the elite classes from all/any risk, 4) protecting and expanding the capitalist economic system, and 5) resolving issues only within the confines of the globe’s current power structures.

Never in history have such powerful conglomerates managed to foment and then seize the required labour to create billion dollar platforms and profits – for free, as they do today. Such fervor for the citizenry to bestow their labour to the elites classes is textbook “Brave New World.” Karl Marx’s theory of surplus labour is classically interpreted as the “extra labour produced by a worker for his employer, to be put towards capital accumulation.” It could be said (even in jest) that one good example of surplus labor in modern times is “the extra labour (physical) produced by the “prosumer”, the willing participants for the elite classes (via social media), to be put towards cultural appropriation and modification (in the form of social capital) with no ownership over the means of production (digital platforms).

Consider that while Western society criticizes the Bolivian government for legalizing child labour laws in order to protect working Bolivian children, it remains completely ignorant of the fact that the elite global corporatocracy is exploiting labour from their own Western children for free – via social media – in what we can call postmodern Western domination. A Brave New World model of “soft exploitation” – with no protection from adults whatsoever. [2] Hence while child labour is a respected part of Bolivia’s social conscience – the gross exploitation and manipulation of their own children and youth (that enriches corporations as opposed to enriching families) does not even register in our collective consciousness at all.

This direct line to youth via the cell phone surpasses all levels of social engineering on a scale never before imagined much less thought to be achievable. The art of storytelling, exploitation and manipulation, at once consolidated to create a youth populace in the image of superficiality and consumption. The Children of the West have been thrown to the wolves. A gift to our corporate gods.

As one of ten ideas that can change the world, embraced and highlighted by some of the world’s most powerful and elite  institutions, the false perception of grass roots mobilization seizing power (designed and financed by the oligarchs) is a strategic marketing maneuver designed to create a short-term euphoria that feels like victory. The perceived victory –achieved via “the deployment of mass participation and peer coordination” (Heimans) – is always made malleable to further protect – the identical powers. Hence, it is not “new power”, it is “old power” simply rebranded with more vapid methods of exploitation targeting and manipulating the target demographic, which is “millennials”.

According to Heimans what societies are experiencing and undergoing today is “a big war over values”. What is unspoken is whose values Heiman’s New York PR firm pledges allegiance to and is paid to expand: Western values.”

April 1, 2018, Forbes, Hashtag Movements Call for a New Type of Leader:

“Who “leads” #MeToo or #NeverAgain? It may not even be a relevant question. In New Power, out this week, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms acknowledge Ms Burke but add: “The movement felt ownerless — and this was the source of its strength….” [Emphasis added]

 

 

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The world is on fire. Latin America is no exception. The world is on fire. Latin America is no exception. From Haiti, to Venezuela, to Honduras, to Brazil, to Paraguay, to Argentina, Ecuador, to Nicaragua, to Cuba, socialist or left leaning governments of sovereign states that resist foreign interference and persevere in their lawful right to self-determination have been relentlessly targeted for destabilization and coups by empire. Some have thus far courageously withstood imperial powers (Venezuela, Nicaragua) and some have tragically not. Many continue to fight. Disguised within these efforts is the 21st century Trojan horse – the NGO.

Perhaps no one can articulate the transition of tactics and accelerating crises better than Gustavo Borges Revilla, director of the Venezuelan media project Misión Verdad:

“In 2015 we said that this new model of intervention would be used in Nicaragua and we state here in Havana in 2018, that Cuba is a country that could be a candidate to suffer this model of intervention. Which is nothing less than a reconfiguration of countries’ cultural identities, and the hijacking of values and principles characteristic of the Left for many years. I’m talking about human rights, solidarity, youth, categories that are being reconfigured by bodies like, just to give one example, the Open Society Foundation.” — La izquierda está consumida por la propaganda occidental [The Left is Consumed by Propaganda], Gustavo Borges Revilla, director of the Venezuelan media project Misión Verdad during the 24th Sao Paulo Forum in Havana, Cuba held July, 2018 [Source]

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Purpose Goes to Latin America

Behance: Branding and web design for Movilizatorio, a citizen engagement lab for Colombia and Latin America incubated by Purpose. [Source]

“We’re a strategy consultancy, a creative agency and a social movement incubator. Purpose builds and supports movements to advance the fight for an open, just, and habitable world. We use public mobilization and storytelling to help the leading organizations, activists, businesses, and philanthropies engaged in this fight, and we create campaigning labs and new initiatives that can shift policies and change public narratives when it matters most. Purpose is a Public Benefit Corporation.” [Source: LinkedIn]

Image: Movilizatorio, Instagram

In March 2017, the city of Bogotá, Colombia, was home to the first Global Summit on Social Innovation:

“The event, hosted by The Rockefeller Foundation, the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank Group and its local partner, Compartamos con Colombia, convened more than 65 Social Innovation Organizations from 5 continents. Taking advantage of this unique opportunity, the hosts of the event commissioned Movilizatorio—a civic engagement and social innovation lab for Latin America incubated by Purpose—to carry out research aimed at understanding the challenges that SIOs [social innovation organizations] face today and, based on evidence, propose new ways to address them. To develop this research, they also identified a sample of 42 SIOs that were the focus and source of information during the project.”

From the 2017 report Boosting Collaborative Impact-The Momentum for Social Innovation (Inter-American Development Bank):

Purpose moves people to remake the world. Driven by people, enabled by technology: Purpose builds movements and new power models to tackle the world’s biggest problems. A certified B Corp, we create and launch our own ventures, collaborate with the world’s leading organizations, and develop technology, tools, and content that move millions to remake the world. From climate change and global LGBT rights, to the food system and gun violence in America, we’ve launched some of the biggest and most successful experiments in movement building and mass participation in recent years.” [Emphasis added]

At the helm of this new summit is the Rockefeller Foundation, the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF, or FOMIN as the fund is known in Spanish), and Compartamos con Colombia:

“THE TEAM: This project was possible thanks to the sponsorship, advice, and constant accompaniment of the teams from FOMIN, The Rockefeller Foundation, and Compartamos con Colombia… The final report was consolidated by a team from Movilizatorio and Purpose, composed of Jessy Tolkan, Juliana Uribe, Lina Torres, and Nadya Hernández.”[Emphasis added]

Meanwhile, in Brazil, Purpose has been working with the Greenpeace Mobilization Lab (Mob Lab) on campaigns that include the City of Dreams voting campaign, the 1.5C Campaign (#1.5C Olympics) with the World Bank, The Bus of Dreams campaign, campaign Resista and “Content in the Periferias”.  The Mob Lab offers services that include “creating a rapid response system that leverages repression for your cause“. Greenpeace is the founder of GCCA, better known as TckTckTck, the umbrella organization that grossly undermined the most vulnerable states (such as Bolivia) being impacted by climate change at the United Nations Conference of the Parties (Copenhagen, 2009). GCCA/Greenpeace also organized the 2014 People’s Climate March with Purpose. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide]

Images: Movilizatorio, Instagram

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Blatant Paternalism

In February 2018 Movilizatorio in partnership with ACDI / VOCA and USAID Colombia , launched a test “Let’s go down to the tonito” (translated as “let’s lower our tone”, a seeming implication  that it is the fault of the defenseless for not extending an olive branch to its oppressor). Utilizing the latest advances in “behavioral economics”, the Behavioral Insights Team UK designed a test for Colombians to measure their levels of aggression. Following the test recommendations are offered that  are supposedly focused on improving their reactions to stressful situations, thus “betting on a more tolerant Colombia”. [Source] As an aside, one can only wonder about the public comfort level if a test of this nature was administered by a foreign NGO at the behest of a state agency such as China’s New International Development Cooperation Agency in partnership with The Russian Federation’s Official Development Assistance, to American citizens.

Further blatant Western paternalism is found in the 2017 BuildPeace report on the conference organized by Movilizatorio and partner NGOs including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation. [3]

Page 7 of 61 the report bears the subtitle “Not a White Man’s Burden”. It goes on to explain: “Every year at Build Peace, we bring up a concern about the articulation of innovation for peace as a new ‘white man’s burden’—in which it is the Global North that is the sole repository of knowledge, innovation and technologies for conflict transformation. That’s obviously not true, partly because capacities for peace exist in all contexts, but also because the problem of peace is one that is also relevant to the Global North.”

How gallant it is of the ruling elite to inform the global south that they ought not to be reliant on the peace directives of the Global North. The same Global North which has been responsible for world wars that have disaffected people who have no vested interest in the outcome and have been innocent victims by all participants.

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The report also highlighted the Build Peace Lab partnership between Build Up & Movilizatorio which has created the Build Peace Fellows program and Digital Steps – Supporting Syrian Innovators (both fellowship programs). The Digital Steps Fellowship is a collaboration between Build Up and the British Council Syria (Britain) and NaTakallam (We Speak), an initiative funded by the World Bank (via WeMENA) .

The Igarapé Institute (which will be discussed further in this report) also played a participatory if not leading role in the conference. [Source]

 

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Movilizatorio/Purpose: “Training Agents of Change in Latin America”

Image: Movilizatorio, Instagram

Movilizatorio (MOV) is co-founded by Tim Dixon, co-founder of Purpose Europe,  The Syria Campaign (White Helmets), The Rules (with Purpose co-founder Alnoor Ladha) and More in Common (Purpose). Australian born Dixon “trained as an economist and tech sector lawyer, built a leading Australian educational publishing business that was bought by Pearson in 2004 and worked as chief speechwriter and economic adviser for two Prime Ministers. He is/has served on the boards of the International Budget Partnership, the Jo Cox Foundation, Purpose Europe, The Syria Campaign, the Chifley Research Centre and faith-based justice organisation Sojourners.” [Source] Working between New York and London (and now Latin America) the World Economic Forum website credits Dixon to having led projects to build new social movements in more than 20 countries. [Source]


“MOVILIZATORIO is a citizen engagement and social innovation lab for Colombia and Latin America and is part of the Purpose Labs Network. We work to empower citizens and strengthen civil society organizations. We have an interdisciplinary team with experience in civic technology and have worked with organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, FOMIN, Compartamos con Colombia and the Swedish Cooperation Agency. Through our alliance with Purpose and The Behavioral Insights Team, we have access to international networks for research and development of civic technologies, as well as offices in Bogotá, Colombia and New York, United States.” [Source]

The Movilizatorio website cites the utilization of both mobilization and behavioural change as the key techniques to initiate change.[Source]

Allies include Purpose, Behavioural Insights Team (UK), Foundation CoronaAgencia Presidencial de Cooperación, Heart for Change and Compartamos Con Colombia. [Source]

Movilizatorio website

Movilizatorio, a “citizen engagement lab” (an alternative name applied to an NGO that utilizes studies in behavioural sciences) for Colombia and Latin America, is incubated by Purpose. By the end of 2016, Movilizatorio had gained a major presence in most of Columbia, built partnerships with major national and international organisations and NGOs and launched a digital platform for citizen participation that reached over 30k users within the first two weeks of launching. [Source]

Juliana Uribe Villegas is the Founder and Executive Director of Movilizatorio, the “citizen participation and social innovation laboratory of Purpose for Colombia and Latin America”. Prior to her role in Movilizatorio, Villegas was a Senior Strategist for Purpose, advising global entities such as Hewlett Foundation and Here Now (Purpose). Villegas is a graduate of Harvard University as a Master of Public Administration and Mason Fellow of the John F. Kennedy School of Government and of the University of Barcelona as Master Cum Laude in International Relations. [Source/full bio]

The project manager for Movilizatorio is Nadya Hernández Beltrán. During 2017, Beltrán was an International Center for Journalists Fellow at PeaceTech Lab in United States (November 14-16, 2017, US Professional Fellows Congress publication). [Bio]

Movilizatorio campaign leader Mario Alvarado is co-founder of Change.org in Colombia. [Bio]

Mariana Diaz Kraus is the Director of Partnerships and Strategy. Diaz is a lawyer and magister in political science. She holds a Master of Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (USA). [Bio] [Source]

Here we can pause to reflect on the ties of those stationed within the foreign NGOs that are proliferated throughout the Global South – to the prestigious universities, organizations and institutions that have been founded in the Western world. An interwoven network of relationships built upon centuries of colonialism and imperialism that continues to this day. In essence, a non-profit industrial complex equivalent of the *School of the Americas, where people from Latin America were/are schooled in the techniques of torture and humiliation in order to implement despotic rule for the purpose of enhancing the domination of the people for Western interests. The difference being that in this politically correct realm, the techniques of torture are replaced with the methods of soft-power. [*Now operating as Western Hemisphere Institute for Security cooperation (WHINSEC)]

In furtherance of its agenda, Movilizatorio has many projects and allies in place to meet  its objectives (assuredly influenced and/or managed by Purpose and other Western organizations).

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Avispero is the primary mobilization campaign for Movilizatorio. It is described as a community of agents of change (wasps) that transform behaviour.  As a sign of its establishment leanings, El Avispero received the Turner Award for Social Transformation in 2017, a satellite of the Nobel Peace Prizes name brand. [Source]

The second mobilization campaign is the designing of a social innovative network for the South. This project is being conducted in collaboration with MIF, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Rockefeller Foundation and involves 40 Labs from 5 continents.

The third campaign is the aforementioned Bajémosle al Tonito which focuses on testing the aggression of Columbians.

The forth is Diciendo y Haciendo, a project led by Movilizatorio across Colombia funded by Heart For Change (Purpose partner), the Embassy of Sweden and the United Nations Program for Development UNDP.

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More in Common

To demonstrate the interlocking directorate of the non-profit industrial complex, here it should be noted that Dixon’s More in Common co-founders include Gemma Mortensen and Mathieu Lefevre (CEO).

“More in Common is a non-profit organisation incubated by Purpose Europe. Purpose builds and supports movements to advance the fight for an open, just, and habitable world. The co-founders of More in Common are Brendan Cox, Tim Dixon, Mathieu Lefevre, and Gemma Mortensen.” — Executive Summart: Attitudes Towards Refugees, Immigrants, and Identity in France, July 2017, More in Common, Purpose Europe, the Social Change Initiative

Mortensen served as Change.org’s Chief Global Officer overseeing teams in 17 countries. Prior to this she held the position of Executive Director of Crisis Action, having led international campaigns on Iran, Burma, Gaza, and Sudan. Mortensen’s bio is extensive, having worked for the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations in New York and the European Commission in Geneva and Sudan. [Bio] [Source]

Based in Paris, Lefevre, with a background in economics, is a Senior Advisor to Purpose. As with many of his peers, Lefevre attended the Harvard Kennedy School and worked for the United Nations. From 2005 to 2010, Lefevre worked for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, serving in Lebanon and Afghanistan. [Source][Source]

Brendan Cox is a former Special Adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown whose wife Jo Cox (MP for Batley and Spen) was murdered on June 16, 2016. Former US President Barack Obama invited Brendan Cox and his two young children to the White House on September 23, 2016. Brendan Cox is yet another Purpose affiliate caught up in recent sexual misconduct allegations. “On February 17, 2018, Brendan Cox announced his immediate resignation from the Jo Cox Foundation and More In Common – the charities he launched to honour the memory of his wife – and apologised for the “hurt and offence” he has caused to women, saying he was “deeply apologetic” for his inappropriate behaviour.” [Source] The tangled web and exploitation of Joe Cox to benefit the Purpose construct, the White Helmets, continues to gain speed, in real life time. [The White Helmets, a 21st century NGO hybrid and “propaganda construct” (John Pilger), has been extensively researched and documented by independent journalists Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett and a small handful of others.]

As an example of backgrounds that comprise NGOs marketed as “activist” in ideology, consider the qualifications of Rukmini Giridharadas, Senior Strategist, More in Common US:

“Rukmini Giridharadas previously worked at Google, Change.org, and in US military intelligence studying how social media plays a role in war and conflict. She was educated at Brown University and Harvard Business School.”

In fact, Giridharadas worked for the United States Department of Defense. From 2009 – 2012  Giridharadas: 1) worked on a team developing intelligence assessments on how social technologies used in conflict situations around the world. Reports used to inform US policymakers and military leaders, 2) won funding to create a tool that would help team forecast geopolitical events using real-time data, 3) was selected to join team producing morning brief for President Obama and advisors, 4) with a small team of 40 analysts from government and private sector, went on month-long assignment to forecast future of social media and geopolitical trends. From group chosen as briefer to report findings to White House and Directorate of National Intelligence. [Source: LinkedIn]

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Meet the New Power – The Same as the Old Power

“Whoever mobilizes is going to win. And if you are understanding new power you can end up on top. Welcome to the new power world.”

The above quote is taken from the marketing video for the book titled New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World–and How to Make It Work for You (released April 3, 2018). The book authored by Jeremy Heimans (Avaaz/Purpose) and Henry Timms (92nd Street Y, a 143-year-old institution located in New York City) follows their prior publications: New Power: How It’s Changing The 21st Century (2018) and Why You Need To Know and Understanding ‘New Power’ (Harvard Business Review, 2014).

Timms is the creator and co-founder of Giving Tuesday, “a classic new power movement” [Source] funded by such giants as The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Facebook.

Image: Movilizatorio, Instagram

Having attended Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Heimans interned for the United Nations where his career began in 1999. [Source] Heimans then cut his teeth with the management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company. In 2007 he co-founded Avaaz. Purpose would follow two years later although the year of Purpose’s beginnings has been challenged in Australian Parliament. [4] In 2009 Heimans hired the first Purpose team member Andre Banks. The list of achievements (i.e. clients) of Purpose includes the Women’s Marches following Trump’s inauguration in 2017 and a strong relationship with Black Lives Matters. [Source] Purpose clients and partnerships include many of the most powerful institutions, corporations and manufactured/managed movements on the planet such as the United Nations/UNHCR, Google, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ikea, Unilever, Black Lives Matter, etc.:

“Heimans says that Purpose embraces “pragmatic idealism” and doesn’t adopt purist positions. “We like to say we can speak the language of an Occupy activist, a Facebook product manager and a UN technocrat.” It also speaks the language of Unilever and Nike, two of its corporate partners, as well as that of #MeToo. If a partner “veers off course” and does things that nobody at Purpose can support, “then we have to fire them”. This is underpinned by Purpose’s status under American law as a public-benefit corporation, a new legal structure that mandates companies to serve the wider society rather than simply its shareholders, giving an economic value to philanthropy.” [Source]

Oxfam is a key partner of Purpose. To this day, the Oxfam partnership and logo continues to be proudly displayed on the Purpose website.Here it is vital to observe Heimans and Timms co-optation of #MeToo language/values supposedly adopted by Purpose. In December 2017, 92nd Street Y the organization run by Heiman’s New Power co-author, Executive Director Henry Timms , chose Ari Shavit to deliver the keynote address to mark Israel’s 70th anniversary:

“When I learned this week that the 92nd Street Y is advertising admitted sexual predator Ari Shavit as their keynote speaker to mark Israel’s 70th anniversary, it became unambiguously clear that the insulated, powerful, and tone-deaf Jewish boys’ club is still running the show, to the detriment of women and all victims of sexual assault. On the most basic level, this decision ignores women as consumers. The idea that women and sexual assault victims would be horrified by this choice apparently did not occur to the organizers. That we would never come to an event like this doesn’t seem to matter. Whoever the victims of sexual abuse are – women and men alike – we are irrelevant. We are not even considered as potential attendees. It is a stunning dismissal of victims from the community.” — Seriously, 92Y – Ari Shavit Should Never Have Been Invited In The First Place, December 15, 2017

In the trillion dollar philanthropy industry, this type of open hypocrisy is called “wewashing” – something those in the non-profit are typically extremely fearful to be accused of.

From the May 3, 2018 article published by The Center for Effective Philanthropy, Philanthropy’s “New Power” Challenge:

“There is also the danger of what the authors call “WeWashing,” citing a term coined by a friend of theirs that refers to the danger of “using the language of the crowd without having any meaningful interest in engaging with it.”

But this isn’t the only instance of “wewashing” demonstrated by NewPower authors Timms and Heimans. Consider the recent sexual exploitation scandal by Oxfam, which made international headlines. [February 16, 2018, The Independent: “Oxfam was told of aid workers raping and sexually exploiting children in Haiti a decade ago.”] Oxfam is a key partner of Purpose. To this day, the Oxfam partnership and logo continues to be proudly displayed on the Purpose website. Further allegations have since emerged involving Save the Children and the United Nations [source] , with United Nations being not only the key partner to Purpose & Timms co-founded “movements”, but the building block of the non-profit industrial complex as a whole.

So much for Heiman’s statement “[I]f a partner “veers off course” and does things that nobody at Purpose can support, “then we have to fire them”. The appropriation of the said movement #metoo – by individuals that condone sexual predators and sexual misconduct in their own tight knit circles – is as vulgar and cold as it is arrogant. This superficiality on display is so egregious, it is blinding.

Video. April 13, 2018, “‘New Power’ authors Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms discuss “authenticity” and how people can obtain power in the 21st century”:

 

 

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Perhaps nowhere is Jeremy Heimans crème de la crème status more visible as in the recent high level event at the United Nations: The 6th Biennial High-level Meeting of the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) (United Nations Headquarters, New York, 21-22 May 2018):

“In a keynote address, Jeremy Heimans, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Purpose, noted that development cooperation was traditionally organized in an “old power” fashion, in which top-down dynamics were most prevalent.  In that structure, beneficiaries were not directly involved in the decision-making that would most affect their lives due to an unequal power dynamic and lack of agency.

 

Yet, a “new power” structure was emerging, he said, in which power was distributed more equally among stakeholders.  In that context, he underlined that more efforts must be undertaken to build institutions that fuelled citizens’ hunger to “take part”, pointing to online platforms as being highly effective at engaging people.  He noted that there was a lot that could be learned from such social movements, many of which were maximizing collective action dynamics.  In that connection, development cooperation should be shifted in a way that actively engaged people and gave them opportunities to shape their own future, he said.” [Source]

“Jeremy Heimans, Co-founder of Purpose, addresses the Development Cooperation Forum of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The theme of the forum is “The strategic role of development cooperation in achieving the 2030 Agenda: building sustainable and resilient societies. 21 May 2018, United Nations, New York”

Economic and Social Council 2018 session, plenary meeting
Development Cooperation Forum – Item 5 (c)
President /
DSG on behalf of SG
USG Desa
Keynote speakers

 

Economic and Social Council 2018 session, Plenary meeting
Development Cooperation Forum – Item 5 (c)
President /
DSG on behalf of SG
USG Desa
Keynote speakers

 

Designing a Network

On April 14. 2017 Open Ideo published the paper Mitigating the risk of conflict resurgence in Colombia through blended, structured finance and multistakeholder collaboration. The report focuses on funding the first stage of an investment-ready portfolio of outstanding community endeavours in Colombia via the creation/support of social enterprises.  The collaboration, in general terms seeks to “[C]onsolidate the integration and participation of [1] Government [2] the private sector and [3] the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country and a curated group of global actors.” Partners for the project include the expansive network of http://www.elavisperomov.org (Movilizatorio/Purpose) and http://socialab.com owners of the largest open innovation platform in the world with over 475,000 users.

Sponsors of Open Ideo include UKAID, USAID, Nike, Unilever, The Rockefeller Foundation, and Water dot org to name a few. [See below chart.]

Purpose Partners with Concordia Summit

Scott Heiferman (right), co-founder of Meetup with Jeremy Heiman (left), Source: Avaaz co-founder David Madden, twitter account

Purpose board member Scott Heiferman is CEO and a co-founder of Meetup which was recently acquired by WeWork  for a reported $200 million. [Source] Heiferman is a long time ally of Heimans (who advises Meetup), co-authoring articles for AOL/Verizon/Oath’s  Huff Post (2011, 2017) and cross-promoting one another in orchestrated speaking engagements.

A key example of such cross-promotion is the Concordia Summit.

 

“New power: “The ability to harness the connected crowd to get what you want” – Jeremy Heimans, co-founder Purpose/Avaaz [Source]

Concordia website screenshot: New Power in A Multistakeholder World

October 5, 2015, Purpose Website:

“Purpose is proud to have served as a first time programming partner for the 2015 Concordia Summit. Now in its fifth year, the Summit convenes the world’s preeminent thought leaders and decision makers to address the most pressing global challenges by highlighting the potential that effective cross-sector collaboration can have in creating a more prosperous and sustainable future.

 

Purpose Co-Founder and CEO Jeremy Heimans co-moderated a panel discussion along with Henry Timms, the Executive Director of 92Y and Co-Founder of #GivingTuesday. Their session, “Introducing: New Power in a Multi-stakeholder World,” featured an exciting line-up of speakers, each pioneering change in their respective industries in innovative ways.”

“We are particularly excited by Concordia’s unique opportunity to redefine the power of partnership during the U.N. General Assembly at our 2017 Annual Summit in September and throughout the year.” — 2017: A YEAR OF STRATEGIC GROWTH FOR CONCORDIA, A letter from the Co-Founders [Source]

The Purpose session included Scott Heiferman, co-founder & then CEO of Meetup, Nancy Lublin, the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders in 2007 and one of Fortune’s “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” in 2014, Jenny Abramson, founder and managing partner at Rethink Impact, a venture capital fund that partnered with UBS Wealth Management Americas in 2017 and, Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and former Special Assistant to Barack Obama.

“Held on September 19th and 20th at the Grand Hyatt New York, the 2016 Annual Summit was our largest and most ambitious event to date, bringing together over 2,000 thought leaders from across sectors including General (Ret.) David Petraeus, former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, Prime Minister of Greece, H.E. Alexis Tspiras, and philanthropist George Soros.” — Concordia 2016 Annual Report, Building Partnerships for Social Impact

Having observed “the effectiveness of the formats of the Wall Street Journal CEO Council and the Clinton Global Initiative (“the intersection of the power to convene”) [Source] Mathew Swift (Chairman and CEO) and Nicholas Logothetis founded the Concordia Summit in February 2011 as a nonprofit organization that can identify a societies “readiness and need” to engage in public-private partnerships (P3s). Swifte is on the U.S. Department of State’s Advisory Committee on Public-Private Partnerships (SAP3) and serves on the Global Advisory Board of i2Co School of Transformational Leadership. Swifte studied under global “leaders” such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and José María Aznar, the former President of the Government of Spain. [Source]

The first annual Concordia Summit on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, in New York. Photo by Ralph Alswang/The Concordia Summit

The 2011 keynote address for Concordia (cross-sector collaboration as a means of combating extremism and terrorism) was given by US President George W. Bush followed by former US President Bill Clinton in 2012 and Andrew Liveris, President, Chairman & CEO of The Dow Chemical Company in 2013. The 2014 annual summit focused on the future of American energy and economic growth in Latin America and featured a keynote conversation with former President George W. Bush and the “First Lady” Laura Bush.

The 2016 annual summit included Warren Buffett, Chief Executive Officer, Berkshire Hathaway,  Madeleine Albright, Chairman of the Board, National Democratic Institute and George Soros, Founder and Chair, Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Foundations. 2016 featured the launch of the Concordia Leadership Award. Purpose client/partner Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever was a recipient of the award.

Purpose Europe co-founder Tim Dixon, 2016 Concordia Summit

Joining those at the helm of the globe’s most powerful institutions, corporations, NGOs and states, as 2016 summit speakers is Per Heggenes the CEO of IKEA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies and client/partner of Purpose and the NGO Here Now (Purpose). Purpose Europe co-founder  Tim Dixon also made his way into the massive roster of elite speakers for the 2016 summit as did United Nations Kathy Calvin (member of both The B Team and Unilever CEO Paul Polman’s Business & Sustainable Development Commission with Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel). Of interest is that Calvin was a Senior Managing Director at Hill and Knowlton – the global public relations company commissioned to create the “incubator hoax” on the public that achieved acquiescence from the populace to wage the illegal war on Iraq before the deception was uncovered.

Kathy Calvin is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation. She is member of both The B Team (Purpose) and Unilever CEO Paul Polman’s Business & Sustainable Development Commission.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations H.E. Filippo Grandi, Founder and Chair, Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Foundations George Soros and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada John McCallum attend 2016 Concordia Summit – Day 2 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 20, 2016 in New York City. Sept. 19, 2016, Ben Hider/Getty Images North America

This summit also highlighted the “crisis” (i.e. US destabilization) in Venezuela. [5] The summit also focused on restructuring Concordia from a convening organization to one that actively builds partnerships. Concordia is now a  global convener, campaigner, and innovation incubator with over 50 heads of state, 600 corporate executives and 300 press. Over 20 trillion in private sector assets are represented. [Source]

Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever speaks at The 2017 Concordia Annual Summit at Grand Hyatt New York on September 19, 2017 in New York City. Riccardo Savi/Getty Images North America

“The ceremony also recognized the winner of the 2016 P3 Impact Award, a competition hosted by the University of Virginia Darden School Institute for Business in Society, and U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, that recognizes best practices of P3s that are improving communities around the world in the most impactful ways. The winning team, Project Nurture, is a partnership between the Coca-Cola Company, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and TechnoServe that developed an innovative solution to challenges in East Africa’s fruit market. While farmers across Africa struggle to lift themselves out of poverty, food and beverage companies have a hard time sourcing the agricultural products they need…” — Concordia 2016 Annual Report, Building Partnerships for Social Impact

The acceleration of privatization (global in scale) is being achieved via the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

“Partnerships Week (GPW) Partnership Practitioners Forum, under the theme, “Leveraging Innovation in Partnerships.” Together with the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Global Development Lab at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and PeaceTech Lab, Concordia co-hosted this flagship event to kick off GPW and brought together practitioners and global leaders to discuss the role of P3s in achieving the SDGs and explore their potential as shared value collaborators.”

 

[***Further reading on the privatization of the commons via the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: Building Acquiescence for the Commodification of the Commons Under the Banner of a “New Economy”***]

 

Aside from Purpose entering Latin American as a Trojan Horse, the goals of Purpose, in Columbia to start, for privatization are clear. Consider 2016 summit speaker Seth W. Miller Gabriel is the first Director of the Office of Public-Private Partnerships for the District of Columbia:

“AS PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA, I HAVE SEEN FIRST-HAND THE POSITIVE EFFECTS AND IMMENSE EFFICIENCIES THAT [PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS] HAVE ON CHANGING THE WORLD AND IMPACTING COMMUNITY.” -ÁLVARO URIBE VÉLEZ, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF COLOMBIA

Also from the report:

“The issues of transparency and accountability were a main theme in Concordia’s programming throughout 2016. At both the Concordia Americas Summit in Miami and the Annual Summit in New York, we held discussions on corruption and governance, with a particular focus on Latin America. Additionally, at the Annual Summit, Concordia partnered with the National Democratic Institute to host a session highlighting the political and economic stability in the Middle East as an example for other democratic transitions in the region.”

Here it is vital to note the job description for the Purpose Campaigner in Columbia:

Responsible for finding moments of global political crisis and building a campaign strategy where people all over the world can take action to demonstrate the power of public opinion over the international decision making process.” [Emphasis added]

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Social Good

The creation of the Social Good Summit (launched in 2012) is attributed to Heiman’s co-author of New Power, Henry Timms (92nd Street Y) in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ericsson, the United Nations Development Programme, and Mashable.

Following the Social Good Summit was the launch of the SocialGood “community”.  The founding partners of SocialGood include The Bill & Melinda Gates  Foundation, the Case Foundation, Caterpillar, Cisco, Enactus, Mashable, the Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Foundation, and the 92Y. [Source]

“Progress in the next 15 years and beyond—including effectively setting and achieving the next set of global development goals—can’t just be left to the same old power players. Now you can actively involve people in shaping these goals, using new participatory, transparent, and bottom-up new power models.

 

Tune into this high-level discussion with speakers including Sir Richard Branson, Kathy Calvin, Gary White and Matt Damon, Chris Elias, Jeremy Heimans, Hannah Jones, JR Kerr, Kumi Naidoo and Hans Vestberg to explore how these emerging models can help us shape our world in coming decades and envision a bolder #2030Now.

New Power +SocialGood is presented by +SocialGood and Purpose” — [Source]

Inspired by the annual Social Good Summit, IVA and ICom launched the annual Social Good Brazil Program in 2012. Partners include the United Nations and SocialGood. The Social Good Brazil keynote for 2017 was delivered by Henry Timms with Heimans as one of the international speakers. The 2018 summit requires pre-registration for those wishing to attend. With a donation of 400.00 or more, attendees will receive a free a gift package which includes a copy of the New Power book. [Source]

 

Next: Purpose Goes to Latin America Part 2: “This is where the lines between NGOs, internet and militarism begin to overlap and blur.”

+++

 

Appendix I: AVAAZ Mind Map Last Updated August 7 2018

End Notes:

[1] A recent development for Avaaz/Purpose co-founder David Madden (World Bank, etc.) and founder of the PR firm Phandeeyar in Burma, is his new affiliation with the social ventures investment company and Purpose partner Omidyar Network: “I’m going to be spending the next six months as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Omidyar Network. Omidyar Network, the philanthropic investment fund established by ebay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, is one of Phandeeyar’s key supporters. Phandeeyar isn’t the first tech hub that Omidyar has backed and it probably won’t be the last.” [Source]

[2] May 26, 2016: “Teens are spending nearly nine hours a day consuming media. And children ages eight to 12 are spending nearly six hours a day doing the same thing. Let’s say the average teen wakes up at 7 a.m. and goes to bed at 10 p.m. — that means that nine of their 15 waking hours are spent on their phones, computers, or tablets.” [Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/teens-average-phone-screen-usage-2016-5] | January 4, 2017: ” Teens now spend up to nine hours a day on social platforms, while 30% of all time spent online is now allocated to social media interaction. And the majority of that time is on mobile – 60% of social media time spent is facilitated by a mobile device.” [https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic]

[3] “Build Peace 2017 was possible thanks to the generous support of the people of the United States through their Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as Andes University, the PeaceNexus Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, New Markets Advisors, the Greater Bogotá Convention Bureau, the Agency of the GIZ in Colombia, and the United Nations in Colombia. The event was co-organized by Build Up and Policéntrico, with the support of Bogotá’s Town Hall through the Center for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation, the SOLE Colombia Foundation, the Ideas para la Paz Foundation, Peace Startup, TIC4GOOD, Movilizatorio, La Metro, INNpulsa Colombia, and Appiario.”

[4] “On the 13 April 2005, Purpose Campaigns, cofounded by Heimans and Madden, posted an ad describing itself as a new, progressive, political campaigning organisation. Noting the Win Back Respect campaign, the ad said: ‘Purpose Campaigns was established in 2005 to continue campaigning on important progressive issues, especially in the area of foreign policy, national security and global justice issues. Purpose Campaigns is currently involved in a variety of entrepreneurial political activities, including establishing a rapid response campaigning organisation designed to explode the myth of Republican primacy of national security.'” Source: https://www.openaustralia.org.au/senate/?gid=2016-09-13.16.3

[5] “The Summit was historically significant as it marked the first-ever meeting between Luis Almagro Lemes, Secretary General, Organization of American States, and Venezuelan human rights activist, Lilian Tintori, who spoke about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. As a result of the Summit, Mr. Almagro affirmed the Carta Democratica which outlines provisions and strategies for change in the country’s electoral process and, in turn, its fundamental rights.” [Source]

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

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

You can support the work of Morningstar and Palmer at Patreon.

 

 

 

Exposing Charities in Africa: Hypocrisy, Racism, Objectification

TeleSUR

June 24, 2015

 

 

9

Crimes list:

World Vision

* Last year, World Vision announced its decision to finally stop discriminating and hire LGBTI people. However, after the announcement saw sponsors withdraw donations – apparently more concerned about people’s sexuality than hunger, the decision was reversed and the organization continues to bring homophobia to the African continent.

* Its president, Richard Stearns, studied business administration and began his career doing marketing for several Fortune 500 companies. His wage with World Vision is almost US$400,000 a year. He has blamed poverty as often being a result of “fathers that aren’t around … Boys learn from their fathers what it means to be a good man.”

* Its publicity continues to be children-centered, simplistic, and individualistic. It tells little fairy tales: “In a nearby poverty stricken village … Mona, 11 years old, is teaching her brother a song, because Mona believes it doesn’t take much to live happily … with $39 Canadian dollars we can help people like Mona.” Cameras angle down at big-eyed children with one name and an easily digestible story of suffering, easily cured with money and religion.

* Gospel given with food: The U.S. evangelicals broadcast over their Christian Broadcasting Network and Trinity Broadcasting Network throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Save the Children

* An individualistic approach to a systemic problem. Donors choose the child they want to sponsor from a range of photos. This has many implications for the children, who become competitive with their friends who are chosen for sponsorship. The donor has the power to decide who will be more prosperous.

* In 2013, Save the Children and Britain’s biggest drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline joined hands, with GSK aiming to give the charity 15 million pounds (US$23.6 million). GSK pleaded guilty in 2012 to healthcare fraud, which involved promoting drugs, such as anti-depressants, for unapproved uses. It also fights to protect the patents of its HIV medicine, for example, which was developed using public funds, at the expense of affordable medicine.

* Like World Vision, the CEO of Save the Children, Carolyn Miles, also has a business and marketing background. In 2013 she was paid US$407,399.

* In 2014, war criminal Tony Blair was given Save the Children’s Global Legacy Award at a gala dinner in New York. Funnily enough, the year before, former adviser to Tony Blair and current Save The Children chief executive Justin Forsyth was among nine at the charity awarded US$250,000 in bonuses.

* In 2013 a whistleblower accused the charity of self-censoring criticism of energy corporations, such as British Gas, for fear of upsetting existing or future donors.

USAID

* A racist gem from USAID administrator Andrew Natsios, who was quoted in the Boston Globe in 2001 as saying Africans wouldn’t be able to successfully take HIV and AIDS treatment regimes because “Africans do not know what Western time is.” He allegedly said that many people in Africa “have never seen a clock or a watch their entire lives and if you say one o’clock in the afternoon, they do not know what you are talking about.”

* Last year USAID joined with real estate company Rockefeller to launch a US$100 million “climate resilience fund” for Asia and Africa, with the vague aim of making communities more resilient to disasters. The alternative could have been policy that reduces the U.S’s huge contribution to contamination and global warming: but that would affect profits.

Charities … as simple as white people’s individual goodness. They become saviors, while the denial of complexity, the simplistic advertising dehumanize and rob people in Africa of their dignity, agency, intelligence, and power.

* USAID has partnered with Monsanto to promote “biotechnology,” or genetically modified organisms. It launched the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project in 1991 to introduce GM crops, which benefit patent-holding companies like Monsanto and works to create dependence on U.S. corporations’ fertilizers and pesticides. USAID has invested millions in “biotechnology” in countries like Nigeria and Uganda and uses workshops on GMOs and other issues to promote policy change favorable to U.S. corporate interests.

* USAID’s slogan, “from the American people,” should be, “from U.S. corporations,” as it once claimed on its own website, “… the principal beneficiary of America’s foreign assistance programs has always been the United States. Close to 80 percent of the USAID contracts and grants go directly to American firms,” Grain.org reported. The USAID site also states that the organization works to promote “democratic” institutions (even though the U.S. is no model of democracy) and to “foster an environment attractive to private investment.” With its bureau for Africa located not there, but in Washington, D.C., Andrew Herscowitz, coordinator of the bureau, describes his position as “facilitating private investment to bring cleaner energy and electricity to millions across Africa.” Apart from the fact that that is another thing that the U.S. itself needs, its also another example of taking advantage of colonialism-caused lack of infrastructure to help companies make profits.

* Many governments find it hard to stand-up to USAID, as it functions as a mouthpiece of the powerful, warmongering U.S. Grassroots organizations, however, are often more willing to resist.

World Food Program

* Despite being the food assistance branch of the United Nations, and allegedly more neutral than some other charities, the WFP has corporate ties, and is problematic in similar ways to other charities

* It cooperates with USAID, Save the Children, and receives significant donations from Monsanto. In 2011 for example, the WFP held a donation drive in which each dollar raised would be matched by a dollar from Monsanto. Monsanto however, contributes to world hunger by making farmers dependent on their seeds and with destructive agricultural practices.

* WFP overlooks the role of big business in exploitation and causing poverty, instead promoting the private sector’s role in the so called elimination of hunger. It is part of the Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which was formed in 2012 to facilitate private corporations’ profiting from hunger and as excuse for the rich nations to wash their hands of any responsibility.

* WFP states on its website, “Cause related marketing generates support and awareness for your business … presenting a unique opportunity for companies to simultaneously do well and do good.” Other WFP corporate partners unqualified to fight hunger include Pepsico Foundation (objectifies women and spent US$1.7 million in opposing U.S. citizens’ right to know if food is genetically modified), Bank of America (2008 financial crisis) Yum (parent company of fake food restaurants KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), Caterpillar (proud demolisher of Palestinian homes), and Cargill (energy trading, crops and livestock: no self interest here, has had to recall a lot of its meat products for contamination, sued for extreme child exploitation on its cocoa bean plantations).

* Similar images such as this one using victimized, helpless children, and empowering the Western savior – “you can save lives.”

* Kenyan economist James Shikwati argued that WFP food aid was sometimes so big that it made it hard for local farmers to compete.

Clinton Foundation

The Clinton Foundation uses poverty in African countries as a public-relations tool for the families’ politicians and for the celebrities who donate to it. It focuses on health systems, not that Bill Clinton was able to do much for health in his own country: a reoccurring story with many charities. The charity is also used to foster business deals. The Clintons and celebrities conduct fly-by visits through African countries as a kind of ego parade of people pretending to care, with all attention on the “helpers” and none on the people of those countries.

* Earlier this year, the charity came under fire for not declaring tens of millions of dollars in foreign donations and in another unsurprising scandal this year, the Clinton Foundation worked closely with a pharmaceutical company to distribute “drastically substandard” antiretroviral drugs to third world countries that had no chance of helping HIV and AIDs patients, according to a Wall Street analyst.

Get Angry: Global Inequality Should Be Changed, and Charity Isn’t the Way

The thing about aid is that it always comes with conditions (working with businesses, practicing religion, spending money according to the dictates of the charity), it always involves the inequality of a much more powerful giver and a disempowered receiver, and it involves the powerful side thinking it knows better that the receiver about what they need and how to make that happen.

There’s little respect and a lot of condescension, as the boring rich try to show people in the apparently homogenous continent how to make wells, read the bible and make their own shoes. And, largely due to charities, the continent of Africa has become synonymous with poverty, starvation, tragedy – a homogenous blob of a continent of begging skinny children.

Charities simplify everything. They misinform. Solving poverty (which on the continent of Africa was due to the looting, interventions, social and economic colonization, and the constant stealing of local resources by those countries who tend to set up the charities in the first place) is as simple as white people’s individual donations. They become saviors, while the denial of complexity, the simplistic advertising dehumanizes and robs people in Africa of their dignity, agency, intelligence, and power.

Charities become competitive for money and are forced to convince their public they are dealing with the “most needy” and “deserving”. The advertising is never accountable to those people objectified by it.

Charities like the Clinton Foundation don’t deserve a pat on the back for given back a tiny proportion of what was stolen by the U.S. and Europe and their transnationals in the first place. Even less so when using poverty to dodge tax payments. Ultimately, such charities are a convenience for first world governments to outsource their social and political responsibility.

Unlike activist organizations, charities are undemocratic, alienating (donors are very disconnected from affected communities), and work over rather than with those communities. The big picture is the North (U.S, Europe, U.K, Australia, etc) has an undemocratic influence over the economies, resources, culture, and futures of countries in Africa – in addition to such influence through colonization, transnational resource robbing and so on already mentioned.

 

WATCH: Vanessa Beeley Exposes the White Helmets

Corbett Report

February 7, 2018

 

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

 

Bolivia’s TIPNIS Dispute: Example of How Liberal-Left Alternative Media Becomes a Conveyor Belt for US Regime Change Propaganda

Counterpunch

December 4, 2017

By Stansfield Smith

 

Pro-road CONISUR march

As has become a standard operating procedure, an array of Western environmental NGOs, advocates of indigenous rights and liberal-left alternative media cover up the US role in attempts to overturn the anti-imperialist and anti-neoliberal governments of Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Evo Morales in Bolivia.

This NACLA article is a recent excellent example of many. Bolivia’s TIPNIS (Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure) dispute arose over the Evo Morales government’s project to complete a road through the park, opposed by some indigenous and environmental groups.

As is NACLA modus operandi, the article says not one word about US and rightwing funding and coordination with the indigenous and environmental groups behind the TIPNIS anti-highway protests. (This does not delegitimize the protests, but it does deliberately mislead people about the issues involved).

In doing so, these kinds of articles cover up US interventionist regime change plans, be that their intention or not.

NACLA is not alone in what is in fact apologetics for US interventionism. Include the Guardian, UpsideDownWorld, Amazon Watch, so-called “Marxist” Jeffery Webber (and here), Jacobin, ROAR,  Intercontinentalcry,  Avaaz, In These Times, in a short list of examples. We can add to this simply by picking up any articles about the protests in Bolivia’s TIPNIS (or oil drilling in Ecuador’s Yasuni during Rafael Correa’s presidency) and see what they say about US funding of protests, if they even mention it.

This is not simply an oversight, it is a cover-up.

What this Liberal Left Media Covers Up

On the issue of the TIPNIS highway, we find on numerous liberal-left alternative media and environmental websites claiming to defend the indigenous concealing that:

The leading indigenous group of the TIPNIS 2011-2012 protests was being funded by USAID. The Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of the Bolivian East (CIDOB) had no qualms about working with USAID — it boasted on its website that it received training programs from USAID. CIDOB president Adolfo Chavez, thanked the “information and training acquired via different programs financed by external collaborators, in this case USAID”.

 

The 2011 TIPNIS march was coordinated with the US Embassy, specifically Eliseo Abelo. His phone conversations with the march leaders – some even made right before the march set out — were intercepted by the Bolivian counter-espionage agency and made public.

 

“The TIPNIS marchers were openly supported by right wing Santa Cruz agrobusiness interests and their main political representatives, the Santa Cruz governorship and Santa Cruz Civic Committee.” In June 2011 indigenous deputies and right wing parties in the Santa Cruz departmental council formed an alliance against the MAS (Movement for Socialism, Evo Morales’s party). CIDOB then received a $3.5 million grant by the governorship for development projects in its communities.

 

Over a year after the TIPNIS protests, one of the protest leaders announced he was joining a rightwing anti-Evo Morales political party.

 

The protest leaders of the TIPNIS march supported REDD (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). The Avaaz petition (below) criticizing Evo Morales for his claimed anti-environmental actions also covered this up. As far back as 2009 “CIDOB leaders were participating there in a USAID-promoted workshop to talk up the imperialist-sponsored REDD project they were pursuing together with USAID-funded NGOs.”

REDD was a Western “environmental” program seeking to privatize forests by converting them into “carbon offsets” that allow Western corporations to continue polluting. That REDD would give Western NGOs and these indigenous groups funds for monitoring forests in their areas.

These liberal-left alternative media and environmental NGOs falsely presented the TIPNIS conflict as one between indigenous/environmentalist groups against the Evo Morales government. (e.g. the TIPNIS highway was “a project universally[!] condemned by local indigenous tribes and urban populations alike”) Fred Fuentes pointed out that more than 350 Bolivian organizations, including indigenous organizations and communities, even within TIPNIS, supported the proposed highway.

CONISUR (Consejo de Indígenas del Sur), consisting of a number of indigenous and peasant communities within TIPNIS, backed by Bolivia’s three largest national indigenous campesino organizations, organized a march to support of the road. They argued that the highway is essential to integrating Bolivia’s Amazonia with the rest of the country, as well as providing local communities with access to basic services and markets.

The overwhelming majority of people in the West who know about the TIPNIS protests, or the Yasuni protests in Ecuador, where a similar division between indigenous groups took place, never learned either from the liberal-left media or the corporate media, that indigenous groups marched in support of the highway or in support of oil drilling.

Therefore, this liberal-left media is not actually defending “the indigenous.” They are choosing sides within indigenous ranks, choosing the side that is funded and influenced by the US government.

The TIPNIS conflict is falsely presented as Evo Morales wanting to build a highway through the TIPNIS wilderness (“cutting it in half” as they dramatically claim). There are in fact two roads that exist there now, which will be paved and connected to each other. Nor was it wilderness: 20,000 settlers lived there by 2010.[1]

 

Anti- highway march leaders actually defended industrial-scale logging within TIPNIS. Two logging companies operated 70,000 hectares within the national park and have signed 20-year contracts with local communities.

 

They often fail to note that the TIPNIS marchers, when they reached La Paz, sought to instigate violence, demanding Evo Morales removal. Their plot was blocked by mobilization of local indigenous supporters of Evo’s government.

If we do not read Fred Fuentes in Green Left Weekly, we don’t find most of this information. Now, it is true that some of the media articles did mention that there were also TIPNIS protests and marches demanding the highway be built. Some do mention USAID, but phrase it as “Evo Morales claimed that those protesting his highway received USAID funding.”

Avaaz Petition Attacking Evo Morales over TIPNIS

The TIPNIS campaign, which became a tool in the US regime change strategy, was taken up in a petition by Avaaz. It included 61 signing groups. Only two from Bolivia! US signers included Amazon Watch, Biofuelwatch, Democracy Center, Food and Water Watch, Global Exchange, NACLA, Rainforest Action Network.  Whether they knew it, whether they wanted to know it, they signed on to a false account of the TIPNIS conflict, placed the blame on the Bolivian government, target of US regime change, and hid the role of the US.

US collaborators in Bolivia and Ecuador are painted as defenders of free expression, defenders of nature, defenders of the indigenous. The US government’s “talking points” against the progressive ALBA bloc countries have worked their way into liberal-left alternative media, which echo the attacks on these governments by organizations there receiving US funds.  That does not mean Amazon Watch, Upside Down World or NACLA are themselves funded by the US government – if it somehow exculpates them that they do this work for free. Even worse, much of this propaganda against Evo and Correa appears only in the liberal-left alternative press, what we consider our press.

The USAID budget for Latin America is said to be $750 million, but estimates show that the funding may total twice that. Maria Augusta Calle of Ecuador’s National Assembly, said in 2015 the US Congress allocated $2 billion to destabilize targeted Latin American countries.

This information, how much money it is, what organizations in the different countries receive it, how it is spent, ought to be a central focus of any liberal-left alternative media purporting to stand up for the oppressed peoples of the Americas.

Yet, as Fuentes points out:  “Overwhelmingly, solidarity activists uncritically supported the anti-highway march. Many argued that only social movements — not governments — can guarantee the success of [Bolivia’s] process of change…. with most articles written by solidarity activists, they] downplay the role of United States imperialism…. Others went further, denying any connection between the protesters and US imperialism.”

Why do they let themselves become conveyer belts for US regime change propaganda?

Why did this liberal-left media and NGOs let themselves become conveyer belts for US propaganda for regime change, legitimizing this US campaign to smear the Evo Morales government?

Some of it lies in the liberalish refusal to admit that all international issues can only be understood in the context of the role and the actions of the US Empire. As if conflicts related to countries the US deems hostile to its interests can be understood without taking the US role into account. Some liberal-left writers and groups do understand this, just as they do understand they may risk their positions and funding by looking to closely into it.

It seems easier to not see the role the Empire plays and simply present a liberal-left “critique” of the pluses and minuses of some progressive government targeted by the US. That is how these alternative media sources end up actually advocating for indigenous groups and environmental NGOs which are US and corporate funded. They even criticize countries for defending national sovereignty by shutting down these non-governmental organizations, what Bolivian Vice-President Linera exposes as “foreign government financed organizations” operating in their countries.

Some of it lies in the widely held anti-authoritarian feeling in the US that social movements “from below” are inherently good and that the government/the state is inherently bad. The reporting can be informative on social movements in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia where the people struggle against state repression. But when these social movements in Ecuador or Bolivia were able to win elections and gain hold of some real state power, reporting soon becomes hostile and misleading. “Support social movements when they struggle against governmental power; oppose them once they win government power,” they seem to say. Their reporting slides into disinformation, undermining our solidarity with other struggles, and covering up US regime change efforts. UpsideDownWorld is an excellent example of this.

Some of it lies in what many who call themselves “left” still have not come to terms with: their own arrogant white attitude they share with Western colonizers and present day ruling elites: we know better than you what is good for you, we are the best interpreters and defenders of your socialism, your democracy, your human rights. They repeatedly critique real or imagined failures of progressive Third World governments – targets of the US.

Genuine solidarity with the peoples of the Third World means basing yourself in opposition to the Empire’s interference and exposing how it attempts to undermine movements seeking to break free from the Western domination.

Some of it lies in deep-rooted white racist paternalism in their romanticizing the indigenous as some “noble savage” living at one with nature in some Garden of Eden. Providing these people with schools, health clinics, modern conveniences we have, is somehow felt not to be in their best interests.

A serious analysis of a Third World country must begin with the role the West has played.  To not point out imperialism’s historic and continuing exploitive role is simply dishonest, it is apologetics, it shows a basic lack of human feeling for the peoples of the Third World.

A function of corporate media is to conceal Western pillaging of Third World countries, to cheerlead efforts to restore neocolonial-neoliberal governments to power. However, for liberal-left media and organizations to do likewise, even if halfway, is nothing other than supporting imperialist interference.

Notes.

[1] Linda C.  Farthing, Benjamin H. Kohl Evo’s Bolivia: Continuity and Change (2014: 52)

 

[Stansfield Smith, Chicago ALBA Solidarity Committee, recently returned from a SOA Watch, Task Force on the Americas delegation to Venezuela.]

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

Chicago Alba Solidarity

January 4, 2018

by Stansfield Smith

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Social Programs to Eliminate Poverty

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

Here are some of the measures to combat poverty:

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

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

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

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

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

Gains for Rights of Original Peoples

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

Gains in Education and Health Care

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

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

Land Distribution and Food Self-Sufficiency

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

US Interference and Regime Change Attempts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USAID and NED Funding of Oppositional Forces

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

The Issue of  “Extractivism” in Bolivia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Environmental Achievements

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

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

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

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

Bolivia as a center of anti-imperialist social movements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Challenges Facing The Process of Change

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and El informe de 2007 de la USAID

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Avaaz Goes to Myanmar

Avaaz Goes to Myanmar

September 8, 2017

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avaaz Co-founder David Madden in Myanmar

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Above: Phandeeyar headquarters

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

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

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

And while the rich get richer:

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

The Ultimate Balancing Act

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


Above: Avaaz campaign

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

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

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

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

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

Secondly, consider the crucial energy aspect:

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

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

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

Myanmar-to-China Crude Oil & Gas Pipelines

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

Map: Oil & Gas Journal, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Strategic Expansion of Globalization & Capitalism

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

Further reading:

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

 

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

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

Propaganda: How Neocolonial Progressives Support Western Imperialism

Libya 360 | Tortilla con Sal

January 7, 2017

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Bilwi Waspan Prinzapolka Rosita Siuna Bonanza Mulukuku Average

Yatama

51 57 63 6 0.6 4 1.4 30.26

FSLN

42 38 27 72 68 85 43 55.33

PLC

2.9 2 1 17 29 7 51 9.81

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

PLC

65 25.06 62.93 81.77 16.56 20.81 45.35

FSLN

30 52.85 32.61 16.75 59.9 73.54 44.27

YATAMA

0.65 18.89 0.2 0.19 15.46 3.05 6.4

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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