Archives

Tagged ‘Catholic Church‘

WATCH | New Power: How the West is Orchestrating Social Media to Capture Latin America

 

In this excerpt from an exclusive interview with Max Blumenthal (the Gray Zone), Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega describes the impact of the social media campaigns unleashed against the Sandinista Government in an attempted coup. [July 30, 2018]

 

Transcript:

Max Blumenthal: “You’re speaking about a war in the streets but there was also an information war. Many of your supporters have complained about manipulation, there’s even a popular song Mentira about the wave of what they consider fake news. I want to play you a message that was sent by whatsapp  to millions of young Nicaraguans on April 19th which claimed to be a recording from Apali. [plays recording] I also spoke to students who were in Apali at the time and they described a scenario totally different than what was described in that message with explosions going off, police coming in to burn everyone alive. I want to ask you about your communication strategy in the early days. Were you too quiet?”

President Daniel Ortega: “What we lived through in the war against Somoza, the war the U.S. imposed upon us in the 80s was… the communications at time with the media I mean as in television, newspapers, radio, and that gave Nicaragua of course a negative image and it was part of the war against Nicaragua. When we came back to government in 2000, a short time thereafter, a movement of retirees began that didn’t have at the time, coverage from the National Social Security Institute because they hadn’t paid the 15 years, they hadn’t paid their full quota, over the 15 year period. And when we came into government the Social Security system was already in great difficulty. But because we’re sensitive to social issues we needed to come up with a just answer [and] began to think now what could we do, how can we help these retirees…  but these retirees were barely out on the street when suddenly a hashtag came out called OCUPA INSS* which is the social security Institute building and that went viral internationally and suddenly we found ourselves confronted by this sort of embryo of a force through the social networks that was really quite powerful actually. And when the situation… because then the people came, you know people, young people who had been hearing this on the, through social media came down to the Social Security Institute building and they went into the building and many of these were really the supporters of the very same parties and governments that had been in power in the 17 years when the retirees were not getting any money if they hadn’t filled their entire quotas, and that was also the first time that the leaders of the Catholic Church, it got involved in a conflict of this nature, because they too, went there then to the Social Security Institute and you know talking with the young people who were there and discussing also with the Sandinista young people who were there who were in favor of the old people who needed to get some money but were of course against the attacks the government was suffering, as though we had been against the these people getting their quota. So what we did was, we did incorporate them, but of course that weakened the Social Security system even more. But that was our first experience than with all kind of media you’re talking about. The second serious one we had was the fire at Indio Maíz just this past March and there it was a lot stronger even because they had of course had been using the social networks throughout, attacking the government on any number of issues, and so we started realizing we had better get with it and become interested in this whole social network thing, and get involved, so as to defend just positions. So they were very, very strong and internationalized the issue of this forest fire. That you know the Sandinistas are destroying, in fact, put the fire [there] themselves, put the fire there themselves. And one could see that this was being articulated with other movements here in the cities. They were obviously already thinking in broader terms that was pointing in the direction, and finally did, but no, it did occur to us that this was going to end up being an attempted coup d’etat. We just thought it was one more battle in which they were trying to drag the government down and they were trying to degrade the government. But I mean we had firefighter experts here and they, they told us it would take months to put it out. So that it was going to be very, very, difficult to put out. And we thought this is going to be, and of course the international repercussions on sensitive issues such as the environment. And then rained. It’s a very, very, rainy area. It rained intensely. And that was it. They couldn’t continue with that banner.”

Max Blumenthal:But the social media continued. Do you think you responded effectively enough?

President Daniel Ortega: “Well I think we have to strengthen our networks, locally. And of course with the people. With workers, young people, women, teachers, to defend ourselves. And the good things. And I’ll point out the good things that this process has done. And it is also absolutely critical to internationalize this because they have been able to internationalize their [destabilization campaign].”

+++

Excerpt from Purpose Goes to Latin America Part II, Higher Learning : The Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (Otpor):

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

Purpose Goes to Latin America [Part II]

 

 

 

REFLECTION: APRIL 11, 2002 | Venezuela: Coup and Countercoup, Revolution

REFLECTION: APRIL 11, 2002 | Venezuela: Coup and Countercoup, Revolution

Above: 11 avril 2002: le coup d’Etat a commencé, les rues de Caracas s’embrasent.

PRESIDENT CHAVEZ RETURNS TO THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE IN CARACAS.

Above: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (C) salutes on arrival at the Miraflores palace April 14, 2002.

“Hugo Chávez Frías has been the recognizable face of the global anti-imperialist movement, inspiring revolution when the elites said history had ended. Venezuela and Comandante Chávez instead made new history, in the face of neoliberal exploiters and interventionists, showing the rest of us outside Venezuela how much more we can and should do, besides resigning ourselves to occasional protests. Chávez’s anti-imperialism was consistent, coherent, and a powerful body of thought and practice that resisted intimidation and appropriation. Where the left has been vanquished, tamed, or misdirected in so many parts of the global North, Chávez was a reminder that we can draw fresh ideas from the answers provided by the South. I will always love Hugo Chávez, I will always miss him, he will never be forgotten. Thank you beloved Venezuela for your great gift to the world!” — El regalo revolucionario de Venezuela para todo el Mundo, Maximilian Forte, March 17, 2013 [Sources: Encircling Empire | Mensaje a Chávez]

Let us take a moment to reflect.

Postcards from the Revolution

April 11, 2010

by Eva Golinger

Venezuela commemorated the eighth year anniversary of the coup d’etat backed by Washington that changed the bolivarian revolution forever

In just 47 hours, a coup d’etat ousted President Chavez and a countercoup returned him to power, in an extraordinary showing of the will and determination of a dignified people on a revolutionary path with no return. The mass media played a major role in advancing the coup and spreading false information internationally in order to justify the coup plotters’ actions. CIA documents revealed US government involvement and support to the coup organizers.

When Hugo Chavez was elected President in 1998, the Clinton administration maintained a « wait and see » policy. Venezuela had been a faithful servant to US interests throughout the twentieth century, and despite the rhetoric of revolution spoken by President Chavez, few in Washington believed changed was imminent.

But after Chavez followed through on his first and principal campaign promise, to initiate a Constitutional Assembly and redraft the nation’s magna carta, everything began to change.

The new Constitution was written and ratified by the people of Venezuela, in an extraordinary demonstration of participatory democracy. Throughout the nation in early 1999, all Venezuelans were invited to aid in the creation of what would become one of the most advanced constitutions in the world in the area of human rights. The draft text of 350 articles, which included a chapter dedicated to indigenous peoples’ rights, along with the rights to housing, healthcare, education, nutrition, work, fair wages, equality, recreation, culture, and a redistribution of the oil industry production and profit, was ratified by national referendum towards the end of 1999 by more than 70% of voters.

Elections were immediately convened under the new constitutional structure, and Chavez won again with an even larger majority, around 56%. Once in office in 2000, laws were implemented to guarantee the new rights accorded in the Constitution, and interests were affected. Venezuela assumed the presidency of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), with oil at approximately $7 USD a barrel. Quickly, under Venezuela’s leadership, which sought to benefit oil producing nations and not those supplied, oil rose to more than $25 USD a barrel. Washington was uneasy with these changes, but still was « waiting to see » how far the changes would go.

Changes Washington Disapproved

In 2001, the Bolivarian Revolution proposed by President Chavez began to take form. The oil industry was in the process of being restructured, hydrocarbons laws were passed that would allow for a redistribution of oil profits and Chavez was recuperating an industry – nationalized in 1976 – that was on the path to privatization. An opposition began to grow internally in Venezuela, primarily composed of the economic and political elite that ruled the country throughout the prior 40 years, now unhappy with the real changes taking effect. Aligned with those interests were the owners of Venezuela’s media outlets – television, radio and print, which belonged to the old oligarchy in the country.

In early 2001, President Chavez attended the Summit of the Americas meeting in Quebec, Canada. By now, Washington had undergone its own changes and George W. Bush had moved into the White House. President Bush also was present at the meeting in Quebec, and there announced the US plan to expand free trade throughout the Americas – the Free Trade of the Americas Act (FTAA). Hugo Chavez was the only head of state at the summit to oppose Washington’s plan. It was the first showing of his « insubordination » to US agenda.

Later that year, after the devastating and tragic attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, Washington began a bombing campaign in Afghanistan. President Chavez publicly declared the bombing of Afghanistan and the killing of innocent women and children as an act of terror. « This is fighting terror with more terror » he declared on national television in October 2001. The declaration produced Washington’s first official response.

US Ambassador to Caracas at the time, Donna Hrinak, paid a visit to Chavez in the presidential palace shortly after. During her encounter with the Venezuelan President, she proceeded to read a letter from Washington, demanding Chavez publicly retract his statement about Afghanistan. The Venezuelan head of state declined the request and informed the US Ambassador that Venezuela was now a sovereign state, no longer subordinate to US power.

Hrinak was recalled to Washington and a new ambassador was sent to Venezuela, an expert in coup d’etats.

Washington Organizes the Coup

As Washington’s concern grew over the changes taken place in Venezuela, and the insubordination of the Venezuelan President, business groups and powerful interests inside Venezuela began to contemplate Chavez’s removal. Those running the state-owned oil company, PDVSA, were adamant to defend their positions and control over the company, as well as their mass profits, which instead of being invested in the country were being coveted in the oil executives’ pockets.

A US entity, created by US Congress in 1983 and overseen by the State Department, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), began to channel hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups inside Venezuela to help consolidate the opposition movement and make plans for the coup. School of the Americas-trained Venezuelan military officers began to coordinate with their US counterparts to organize Chavez’s ouster. And the US Embassy in Caracas, with the recently arrived Ambassador Charles Shapiro, was helping to put the final touches on the coup d’etat.

« The right man for the right time » in Venezuela, said an Embassy cable sent to Washington in December 2001, referring to Pedro Carmona, the head of Venezuela’s Chamber of Commerce, Fedecamaras. Carmona was signaled out as the « president-to-be » after the coup succeeded. That December 2001, oil industry executives led a strike, and called for Chavez’s resignation. Their furor began to grow in early 2002 and by March, the strikes and protests against President Chavez were almost a daily occurrence.

The NED quadrupled its funding to Venezuelan groups, such as Fedecamaras and the CTV labor federation, along with a series of NGOs plotting Chavez’s ouster. A State Department cable from the first week of March 2002 claimed « Another piece falls in to place » and applauded the opposition’s efforts to finally create a plan for a transitional government : « With much fanfare, the Venezuelan great and good assembled on March 5 in Caracas’ Esmeralda Auditorium to hear representatives of the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV), the Federation of Business Chambers (Fedecamaras) and the Catholic Church present their ‘Bases for a Democratic Accord’, ten principles on which to guide a transitional government ».

Soon after, a March 11, 2002 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) top secret brief, partially declassified by Jeremy Bigwood and Eva Golinger through investigations using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), revealed a coup plot underway in Venezuela. « The opposition has yet to organize itself into a united front. If the situation further deteriorates and demonstrations become even more violent…the military may move to overthrow him ».

Yet another CIA top secret brief from April 6, 2002, just five days before the coup, outlined the detailed plans of how the events would unravel, « Conditions Ripening for Coup Attempt…Dissident military factions, including some disgruntled senior officers and a group of radical junior officers, are stepping up efforts to organize a coup against President Chavez, possibly as early as this month…The level of detail in the reported plans…targets Chavez and 10 other senior officials for arrest…To provoke military action, the plotters may try to exploit unrest stemming from opposition demonstrations slated for later this month… ».

A Corporate-Media-Military Affair

National papers in Venezuela headlined on April 10-11, 2002 that the « Final battle will be in Miraflores », the Venezuelan presidential palace, hinting that the media knew the coup was underway. That April 11, a rally began at the PDVSA headquarters in Eastern Caracas. The rally turned into a march of several hundred thousand people protesting against President Chavez and calling violently for his ouster. Those leading the rally, the presidents of the CTV, Fedecamaras and several high level military officers who had already declared rebellion just a day before, directed the marchers towards the presidential palace, despite not having authorization for the route.

Meanwhile, outside the presidential palace, Chavez supporters had gathered to support their President and protect the area from the violent opposition marchers on the way. But before the opposition march even reached the palace or the area near the pro-Chavez rally, shots were fired and blood began to spill in both the pro- and anti-Chavez demonstrations. Snipers had been placed strategically on the buildings in downtown Caracas and had open fired on the people below.

Pro-Chavez supporters on the bridge right next to the palace, Puente Llaguno, fired back at the snipers, and the metropolitan police forces, who were firing at them. A Venevision camera crew, positioned near the pro-Chavez rally, took images of the firefight and quickly returned to the studio to edit the material and produce a breaking news story showing the pro-Chavez supporters firing guns with a voice-over stating they were firing on « peaceful opposition protestors ». The images were rapidly reproduced and repeated over and over again on Venezuelan national television to justify calls for Chavez’s removal. The manipulated images were later shown around the world and used to blame President Chavez for the dozens of deaths that occurred that April 11, 2002. The truth didn’t come out until after the dust had settled and the coup was defeated. The television crew had been told to take the footage and manipulate it, under direct orders from Gustavo Cisneros, owner of Venevision and a variety of other media conglomerates and companies, and also the wealthiest man in Venezuela.

The high military command turned on President Chavez and took him into custody. He was taken to a military base on an island off Venezuela’s coast, where he was either to be assassinated or sent to Cuba. Meanwhile, the « right man for the right time » in Venezuela, Pedro Carmona – designated by Washington, swore himself in as President on April 12, 2002, and proceeded to read a decree dissolving all of Venezuela’s democratic institutions.

Counter-Coup and Revolution

As the Venezuelan people awoke to television networks claiming « Good morning Venezuela, we have a new president » and applauding the violent coup that had occurred a day earlier, resistance began to grow. Once the « Carmona Decree » was issued, Venezuelans saw their worst fears coming true – a return to the repressive governments of the past that excluded and mistreated the majority of people in the country. And Chavez was absent, no one knew where he was.

Between April 12-13, Venezuelans began pouring into the streets of Caracas, demanding a return of President Chavez and an ouster of the coup leaders. Meanwhile, the Bush administration had already issued a statement recognizing the coup government and calling on other nations to do the same.

But the coup resistance grew to millions of people, flooding the areas surrounding the presidential palace, and the presidential guard, still loyal to Chavez, moved to retake the palace. Word of the resistance reached military barracks throughout the country, and one in Maracay, outside of Caracas, acted quickly to locate and rescue Chavez and return him to the presidential palace.

By the early morning hours of April 14, Chavez had returned, brought back by the will and power of the Venezuelan people and the loyal armed forces.

These events changed Venezuela forever and awoke the consciousness of many who had underestimated the importance and vulnerability of their Revolution.

[Eva Golinger, winner of the International Award for Journalism in Mexico (2009), named “La Novia de Venezuela” by President Hugo Chávez, is an Attorney and Writer from New York, living in Caracas, Venezuela since 2005 and author of the best-selling books, “The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela” (2006 Olive Branch Press), “Bush vs. Chávez: Washington’s War on Venezuela” (2007, Monthly Review Press), “The Empire’s Web: Encyclopedia of Interventionism and Subversion”, “La Mirada del Imperio sobre el 4F: Los Documentos Desclasificados de Washington sobre la rebelión militar del 4 de febrero de 1992” and “La Agresión Permanente: USAID, NED y CIA”. Since 2003, Eva, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and CUNY Law School in New York, has been investigating, analyzing and writing about US intervention in Venezuela using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain information about US Government efforts to undermine progressive movements in Latin America. ]

Essential Viewing: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Chavez: Inside the Coup

 “We do not need to look for the bronze or marble, because Chavez, the statesman and military figure who roars, laughs, sings and smiles, is sculpted in living flesh into the skins of all colors, in the hair of all textures, and in the bones of all the Venezuelans that he liberated”–Roy Chaderton, Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the OAS

TIPNIS: Religion in Bolivian Politics

Bolivian Newspaper Cambio, July 4,2012

Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti

 

It’s not strange to find in history innumerable examples of peoples totally hypnotized by religious beliefs who attack other peoples, murdering and establishing bloody dictatorships, all in the name of God. Religious fundamentalism seems to be the most efficient mechanism to create armies of automatons out of human beings who would otherwise be rational individuals with full use of their free will. But the words “armies” and “automatons” are too harsh to be used openly in a method of mass control that is based on obedience, and religions prefer to use terms such as sheep, flocks, and pastors.

Religion, invented and manipulated by human beings, has become the perfect mechanism to deprive human beings of rationality, and to keep them from seeing, for example, scientific evidence of their origin and of that of the universe, in order to force them to blindly follow commandments, rites, and mysteries, all of them represented by powerful symbols capable of causing terror in the most valiant of mortals.

The Cross is, for Catholics, the most powerful of those symbols, because it represents an instrument of torture than no human being can resist. It is morbid because it represents not the resurrection of Jesus but his torture, his agony, and his slow death. Neither was it invented exclusively to execute Jesus, but rather it was the method in common use by the Romans of that era. To continue to utilize that symbol in the 21st Century is a purposeful decision to tie us to the atrocities of the past, a psychological torture perpetrated by the Catholic Church against all of us, its faithful. It is very harmful and should be illegal, as are all other psychological abuses, the more so as it is against humanity.

To understand how perverse and retrograde is the use of that symbol, one must understand that, if Jesus had died, for example, in what is now Chile, during the Spanish conquest, the symbol of the Catholic churches would be, instead of crucifixion, impalement: the use of a huge stake set into the ground, leaving a pointed end on which was made to sit, among others, the Mapuche leader Caupolicán, traversing him from end to end, then leaving him exposed to the public in order to create terror.

The merchants of religious symbols would have become millionaires had Jesus died during the Holy Inquisition, because its methods of torture and murder were innumerable. It is hair-raising today to simply see the photos of instruments such as the Judas Cradle, the Head Crusher, or the Vaginal Pear, the latter of which was introduced into men and women and forced open by a screw mechanism; but, to judge by the morbidity demonstrated by Catholics, the most popular was perhaps the Iron Maiden, the sarcophagus with iron spikes inside the cover, into which the priests forced live “infidels” and closed the door under pressure.

Had Jesus died in the Andes during the Spanish conquest, the symbol would be perhaps the garrote, the chair with a rope at the neck and a tourniquet behind it, with which indigenous people were strangled as the tourniquet was turned. Or perhaps they would adore the four horses with which they dismembered Tupac Katari, also in public so as to generate terror and obedience to the sign of the Cross.

I ask the reader’s pardon for having to mention such cruelty, but that is the historic truth of the meaning of the methods of execution that have been used by empires with the complicity of religion. The problem is complicated when conservative politicians, desperate over their loss of power and influence, turn to religion as the last resort to intimidate the indigenous peoples who were tortured and subjected by the sword and the Cross. Such was the terror that the conquistadors created among the indigenous peoples by means of the Cross as a symbol, that today it should be a crime against humanity to continue to use this ancient programming from which the Bolivian indigenous peoples have not been able to free themselves.

Around 2003, when the Cruzan oligarchy still defended Sanchez de Lozada, and a group of indigenous people from the highlands marched on Santa Cruz(Holy Cross), to peacefully protest. The sugar-cane industrialists were preparing for a confrontation when some “brilliant mind” remembered the trauma of the Spanish conquest. ”Don’t forget that the Indian fears the Cross,” he said, and they solved the problem very simply. They made a large Cross and set it in the middle of the road. As it was at night, and darkness is good for exacerbating mysteries, they placed two torches beside the Cross and painted in front of it a white line of lime across the road. As predicted, the western indigenous were so shocked that they did not dare cross into “the land of the Holy Cross.” The anecdote is remembered clearly by Cruzan politicians, and they apply it constantly, shamelessly abusing the generalized fear of God and the power of the Church.

When Governor Ruben Costas visited President Evo Morales at the Palace of Government and saw the famous photograph of Che Guevara at the entrance of the office, he decided to return the President’s gesture, and invited him to the Governor’s office to have him sit down and photograph him in front of an enormous portrait of Jesus. What Governor Costas forgot was that Che was an anti-imperialist political figure, and therefore the political identification of Morales with his ideology made sense. Apparently, the Bolivian Right is so devoid of economic or political arguments, that it gets its hands on even the old religious programming of the Catholics to manipulate the will of the people, whom it considers, apparently, little more than a flock of sheep.

The same thing happened during the IX March of the CIDOB, because there, too, the adverse circumstances of acceptance coincide. In this case, it has been found that its leaders no longer represent anyone, and that they have been disowned by nine out of twelve communities of the TIPNIS: some as traitors, for having made political agreements with the Right that historically has abused them, and others for doing business with timber industrialists, exporters of exotic hides, foreign adventure-travel agencies, and even with gambling casinos. Now, when they lack rational arguments with popular support, they need for the contrary of rationality to be imposed, something like faith, so that the people will follow them out of obedience. It’s then that the Catholic Church conveniently appears, introducing God into partisan politics and, among other things, blessing for the IX March the symbols of the Cross and the Virgin to be carried as banners, or, rather, as shields, that they might not be resisted along the way.

So it is that once again the Cross defends the political interests of imperialism, which tries to keep isolated all of those communities for the simple reason that indigenous people are by nature anti-imperialist. The skillful media maneuver of making political use of religious symbols worked for the IX March, because despite its obviously sham character, it was respected throughout the whole national territory. The Bolivian indigenous people still suffer from the mental conditioning implanted by the torture of the conquest, by the theft of their free and warrior-like identity, and by the aberrant acculturation that they underwent, to be inserted into a society that enslaved them and forced then to submit and obey by mandate of the Cross.

I believe that the ecclesiastic authorities have committed a historic crime against the Bolivian indigenous people; that they owe, at the least, a public apology for what happened in the past. But I also believe that, still today, they continue to commit a crime by using that traumatic programming in order to manipulate the will of the indigenous in favor of the international Right and the interests of looting, which means subjecting the indigenous anew to foreign interests contrary to their own.

Apart from whether God exists as the Bible says, or there is no evidence of it, or whether that existence is no longer necessary to explain life according to science, something that we can all agree upon is that religion as created by humans has been bloody, inhuman, and cruel. Its complicity with totalitarian regimes has been shameful and can no longer be tolerated. Religion, if it wishes to find its bearings to continue to exist in these times of the liberation of knowledge, must cease to corrupt itself with political interventions, limiting itself to spiritual matters, leaving “to Caesar what belongs to Caesar”

 

%d bloggers like this: