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Two Minute Hate

A Culture of Imbeciles

Getting It Right: Hugo Chávez and the “Arab Spring”

Zero Anthropology

April 14,  2013

by Maximilian Forte

 

“The new Libya has apparently placed racist atrocity in the pantheon of “human rights.” All those who wash their mouths with terms like “genocide prevention” have apparently left the room. With a new Libya come new spelling conventions: the correct way to spell “oppression” is now liberation. What part of this Arab Spring do you support?”

 

chavezgaddafi

Some opening vignettes might set the right tone for properly appreciating the question of “who was right” about the so-called Arab Spring. (The notion of there having been an “Arab Spring,” a term first coined by U.S. neoconservatives such as Charles Krauthammer back in 2005, is one that has been subject to radically diverse interpretations, from marking in generic terms some sort of struggle for “freedom” and “democracy” [as if there is only one kind of democracy], to views of a covertly directed process of U.S. political intervention, and direct military intervention. Nonetheless, this article is aimed at those who, even now, are still enchanted with the positive aura of the Arab Spring idea.) As usual, my focus will be on Libya.

Human Rights Watch Lies about Chavez and Venezuela

Human Rights Watch Lies about Chavez and Venezuela

Answering the slanders

LiberationNews.org

March 21, 2013

Chávez had a broad mandate from the masses of people not only to create social programs but to transform society.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez Frias has died, and true to form, the vultures are circling. The establishment press and so-called “human rights” organizations are dusting off all the old slanders and lies in new articles and reports. In this alternative version of history, Chávez was an incorrigible, populist autocrat, whose sunny-sounding vision of uplifting the poor was nothing but a façade covering a corrupt, decaying dictatorship offering only the opposite of its promises.

While a few pundits have the decency to obliquely mention a few of the achievements of the Chávez government, others have absolutely no shame. Human Rights Watch, for instance, self-appointed defender of all that is right and good, has truly outdone itself—publishing a denunciation of Chávez that, paying no attention to context, ignores all signals that point to social progress and speeds right past good taste.

In fact, despite the name, HRW has written a report that will be warmly welcomed in the camp of the serial violators of human dignity banded together in the Venezuelan opposition movement as well as in Western imperialist capitals. 

The New Propaganda is ‘Liberal’

The New Propaganda is ‘Liberal’

Today’s “message” of grotesque inequality, social injustice and war is the propaganda of liberal democracies. By any measure of human behavior, this is extremism.

When Hugo Chavez challenged it, he was abused in bad faith; and his successor will be subverted by the same zealots of the American Enterprise Institute, Harvard’s Kennedy School and the “human rights” organisations that have appropriated American liberalism and underpin its propaganda.

March 19, 2013

By John Pilger

What is modern propaganda? For many, it is the lies of a totalitarian state.

In the 1970s, I met Leni Riefenstahl and asked her about her epic films that glorified the Nazis. Using revolutionary camera and lighting techniques, she produced a documentary form that mesmerised Germans; her Triumph of the Will cast Hitler’s spell.

Statement of the Revolutionary Government: Farewell, Commander

Statement of the Revolutionary Government: Farewell, Commander

March 5, 2013

Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations

It was with profound and searing grief that our people and the Revolutionary Government learned about the decease of President Hugo Chávez Frías and are therefore preparing to pay a heartfelt and patriotic tribute to him, for he will go down in history as a Hero of Our America.

We convey our sincere condolences to his parents, brothers, daughters and son as well as all of his relatives, whom we feel are already ours, for Chávez is also a son of Cuba, Latin America, the Caribbean and the whole world.

In this moment of profound sorrow, we share our deepest feelings of solidarity with the brother people of Venezuela, whom we will continue to accompany under any circumstances.

The Bolivarian Revolution will be able to count on our resolute and unrestricted support at these difficult moments.

We reiterate our support, encouragement and confidence in victory to our comrades of the Bolivarian political and military leadership and the Venezuelan Government.

President Chávez has been waging an extraordinary battle throughout his young and fruitful life.  We will always remember him as a patriotic military to the service of Venezuela and the Bigger Homeland; as an honest, clear-sighted, audacious and courageous revolutionary fighter; as a leader and supreme commander in whom Bolivar reincarnated in order to conclude what he had left unfinished; as the founder of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America and the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States.

His heroic and indefatigable struggle against death is an insuperable example of firmness.  The admirable commitment shown by his doctors and nurses have been a feat of humanism and dedication.

The return of the President to his beloved Venezuelan homeland changed the course of history.  “We have a homeland”, he exclaimed, filled with emotion, on December 8 last, and he returned to his homeland to confront the biggest risks imposed by his disease.  Nothing and no one could ever take away from the Venezuelan people the homeland that they have recovered.

The work of Chávez emerges undefeated before our eyes.  The achievements attained by the revolutionary people who saved him from the coup orchestrated on April of 2002, who have followed him without hesitations, are already irreversible.

The Cuban people considers him to be one of its most outstanding sons and has admired, followed and loved him as if he were its own. Chávez is also Cuban! He also suffered our difficulties and problems and did everything he could, with extraordinary generosity, especially during the harshest years of the Special Period.  He accompanied Fidel as a true son and forged a very close friendship with Raúl.

He excelled in all the international battles against imperialism, always in defense of the poor, the workers and our peoples.  Filled with passion, persuasively, eloquently, ingeniously and excitedly he spoke from the roots of the peoples; he sang our joys and recited our passionate verses with ever-lasting heroism.

The tens of thousands of Cubans who work in Venezuela will pay tribute to him through the fervent accomplishment of the international duty and will continue to accompany, with honor and altruism, the heroic deeds of the Bolivarian people.

Cuba will remain forever loyal to the memory and the legacy of Commander President Chávez and will continue to pursue his ideals in favor of the unity of the revolutionary, integration and independence forces of Our America.

His example will guide us in our future battles.

Ever Onwards to Victory!

 

The world mourns Chavez with respectful states (Haiti, Cuba, Uruguay, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Peru, Belarus, Iran, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, China and Nigeria) decreeing multiple days of national mourning.

The following is a list of articles/tributes (in progress)(no particular order):

  1. Evo Morales: Chavez is More Alive than Ever, Prensa Latina, La Paz, March 6, 2013
  2. Images: En fotos y videos: las impresionantes tomas aéreas de la despedida del presidente Hugo Chávez, Noticias24, Venezuela
  3. Chavez’s Triumph, by ANDRE VLTCHEK, Counterpunch, March 6, 2013
  4. El comandante has left the buildingBy Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, March 6, 2013
  5. Hugo Chavez: New World Rising – Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report, March 6, 2013
  6. Not One Step Backward, Ni Un Paso Atrás, Preparing for a Post-Chávez Venezuelaby George Ciccariello-Maher, Counterpunch, March 6, 2013
  7. HUGO CHAVEZ, EL LIBERTADOR, Mohawk Nation News, March 6, 2013
  8. Hugo Chávez kept his promise to the people of Venezuela – Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Guardian.co.uk, March 6, 2013
  9. On the Legacy of Hugo Chávez, Greg Grandin, The Nation, March 5, 2013  The Achievements of Hugo Chavez, by Carles Muntaner, Joan Benach, Maria Paez Victor, Counterpunch, Dec 14-16, 2012
  10. Two Deaths in Venezuela Weightier than Mount Tai, onkwehonwerising, March 6, 2013
  11. Cuba: Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro’s Lost Heir, Havana Times, March 5, 2013
  12. Cuba Mourns Hugo Chavez, Havana Times, March 6, 2013
  13. The War You Don’t See, John Pilger
  14. Statement of the Revolutionary Government: Farewell, Commander – Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations, Wrong Kind of Green., March 6, 2013
  15. Hugo Chavez 1954-2013, Jody McIntyre, March 6, 2013
  16. Hugo Chavez – undefeated, Derrick O’Keefe, Green Left, March 6, 2013
  17. Hugo Chavez’ legacy in Haiti and Latin America,  Kim Ives, Haiti Liberte, March 6, 2013
  18. Hugo Chavez: How he brought heating oil to Native Americans, Censored News, March 6, 2013
  19. Robert Free ‘Remembering Hugo Chavez’ Part II Amazon, Censored News, March 6, 2013
  20. Hugo Chavez, Dream Maker, Eva Golinger, Venezuelan Analysis, March 7, 2013
  21. Chavez Isn’t Dead, He Lives On with Bolivar and Mart, Elio Delgado Legon, Havana Times, March 7, 2013
  22. A Salute to Hugo Chavez: Revolutionary, Ally, Martyr, Percy Francisco Alvarado Godoy , Descubriendo verdades, March 7, 2013
  23. “Comandante, donde esté usted, gracias, mil veces gracias”: Nicolás Maduro, Cuba Debate, March 5, 2013
  24. Excellent Compilation of articles, Venezuelan Analysis
  25. Chávez’s Chief Legacy: Building, with People, an Alternative Society to Capitalism, Marta Harnecker, Monthly Review, March 7, 2013
  26. Chavez Beats the Devil, Again, Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report, October 9, 2012
  27. In Death as in Life, Chávez Target of Media Scorn, His independence, help for Venezuela’s poor will not be forgiven, Fair Media Advisory, March 6, 2013
  28. Chavez, une autre victime de la CIA?, Iran French Radio, March 7, 2013
  29. Outpouring of Solidarity Statements and Condolences for the Venezuelan People [+Photos], Venezuelan Analyses
  30. The Chávez victory will be felt far beyond Latin America, Seumas Milne , The Guardian, October 9, 2012
  31. Venezuela orders U.S. Embassy attache to leave country, LA Times, March 5, 2013
  32. Chavez, Craig Murray, March 6, 2013
  33. Remembering Hugo Chavez: An Eternal Friend of the Caribbean, Kevin Edmonds, NACLA, March 7, 2013
  34. Hugo Chavez was a humble man who transformed the world – Rick Rozoff, John Robles, March 7, 2013
  35. Hugo Chavez, Anti-Imperialist Stalwart: 1954-2013, Antonio Moren, Anti-Imperialism.com, March 7, 2013
  36. Malcolm X Grassroots Movement & New Afrikan People’s Organization Statement on the Passing of President Hugo Chavez Frias, March 8, 2013, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
  37. U.S. and Canada Isolated as Latin American Leaders Acknowledge Chávez’s Regional Leadership, March 8, 2013, Sara Kozameh, Center for Economic and Policy Research
  38. Hugo Chávez Frías: An Unforgettable and Victorious Permanence, Maximilian Fort, Zero Anthropology, March 8, 2013
  39. Comunicado, Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, March 8, 2013
  40. “Commander, they could not beat you, they will never beat us”, Caracas, March 8, 2013, AVN.
  41. A red salute to Comrade Hugo Chavez!, Red Youth, March 6, March 8, 2013
  42. Mohawk Women rallied with Hugo Chavez against Colonial Oppression,  Censored News, March 8, 2013
  43. Why Do Venezuelan Women Vote for Chavez?, Maria Paez Victor, Counterpunch, April 25th 2012
  44. Hugo Chavez proves you can lead a progressive, popular government that says no to neo-liberalism, Owen Jones, The Independent, Oct 8, 2012
  45. The Future of the Human Race | The Most Eloquent Speech to the United Nations in 2011, Canadians for Action on Climate Change, Nov 18, 2011
  46. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Chavez: Inside the Coup [If there was ever an inspiring  film – this is it. If you have never watched it before it is essential viewing. It clearly demonstrates how imperative it is to understand manipulation by media, who are, like the non-profit industrial complex, an extension of hegemonic rule. Further, the film demonstrates the power of the people when it is understood that power concedes nothing without demand.]

Recommended websites:

R.I.P Hugo Chavez

President Hugo Chavez, beloved by millions, has passed away. Rest in peace, amado Comandante.

RIP Hugo Chavez

Desperate for Destabilization in Venezuela, US Funded OTPOR Rears It’s Ugly Head

“We had a lot of financial help from Western nongovernmental organizations. And also some Western governmental organizations.” Slobodan Homen, Otpor, 2000

 

Otpor logo

 

“Just how much money backed this objective is not clear. The United States Agency for International Development says that $25 million was appropriated just this year. Several hundred thousand dollars were given directly to Otpor for “demonstration-support material, like T-shirts and stickers,” says Donald L. Pressley, the assistant administrator. Otpor leaders intimate they also received a lot of covert aid — a subject on which there is no comment in Washington.” Who Really Brought Down Milosevic? New York Times, Nov 26, 2000

 

Otpor, as reported by the New York Times, was a well-oiled movement backed by several million dollars from the United States via the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Otpor (now calling itself CANVAS) has since been most instrumental in the recruiting and training behind the imperialist destabilization campaigns crushing sovereign states, and the far from spontaneous “Arab Springs”.

“The tranquility prevailing in Tachira, Venezuela, was interrupted a few days ago by violent right wing youth groups that are sponsored by foreign NGOs. The so-called “white hands” that do not recognize the government and the vice president, Nicolas Maduro, as well as the decision by the Supreme Court of Justice allowing President Chavez to take oath before this judicial institution. COPEI Party, the Popular Will Party and the first justice party are encouraging sabotage and terrorism in the state of Tachira. They are wishing for a person to die or be injured, but we will not allow it. … [Source: TelesSUR]

In the following video published January 14, 2013, at exactly 1:07 in, the Otpor symbol on the t-shirt of the “protestor” is clearly identifiable.

Democracy Promotion: America’s New Regime Change Formula

 

“On a trip to South Africa to train Zimbabweans in 2003, Djinovic and Popovic decided to establish CANVAS.  … Djinovic had founded Serbia’s first wireless Internet service provider in 2000 and was well on his way to becoming a mogul. Today he is head of Serbia’s largest private internet and phone company and funds about half of CANVAS’s operating expenses and the costs for half the training workshops out of his own pocket. (CANVAS has four and a half staff employees. The trainers are veterans of successful democracy movements in five countries and are paid as contractors. CANVAS participates in some workshops financed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United Nations Development Program, an international NGO called Humanity in Action, and Freedom House, an American group which gets its money from the U.S. government. But CANVAS prefers to give Washington a wide berth, in part due to Otpor’s experience. Like the entire opposition to Milosevic, Otpor took money from the U.S. government, and lied about it. When the real story came out after Milosevic fell, many Otpor members quit, feeling betrayed.” – REVOLUTION U – FOREIGN POLICY FEATURE, FEB 16, 2011, BY TINA ROSENBERG

 

Otpor has also surfaced in North America’s Occupy Wall Street and 350.org

Image on far left: In 1998 the Otpor logo appears in Belgrade. Image on left: Otpor logo as found on the New York Occupy Wall Street Official website (2012),  featured above an Avaaz destabilization campaign against Syria. (screenshot below). Read more about Avaaz here.

 

350.org presents Otpor

350.org | Sept 22 and Sept 29 2011, Creative Activism Thursdays Srdja Popovic and Slobo Djinovic Lecture

“Due to the widespread interest in the Creative Activism Lecture Series this fall, and in order to better accommodate all guests, RSVP is required; please show up early. If you don’t RSVP, you can still show up and we’ll let you in 5 minutes before the lecture starts if there’s room. Note: immediately after the lecture, the audience will head down to #occupywallstreet!”

ICT and the CIA

Intercontinental Cry

By

Nov 8, 2012

 

Reading today’s editorial by Jenni Monet at Indian Country Today, I was taken aback by the misleading headline and demonizing rhetoric of her character assassination of Venezuelan President Chavez. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought ICT was working for the CIA.

As I noted in my comment on her lengthy and vitriolic criticism of Chavez,

While Chavez, like any head of state, needs to be scrutinized for abiding by international human rights law, the assumption that determinations by OAS or the UN human rights bodies are somehow above politics is not born out. If the standard for human rights compliance is abiding by human rights declarations and conventions, then few countries in the world come up short more often than the United States.

As for supposedly trustworthy NGOs like Human Rights Watch, their complicity in US State Department propaganda aimed at furthering US hegemony at the expense of indigenous sovereignty and human rights should give us pause in knee-jerk reactions to demonizing rhetoric with loaded, red-baiting terms. Leave that to warmongering proteges of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, like the new head of Amnesty International Suzanne Nossel.

FRANCE’S “LEFT” SILENCES ANTI-WAR ACTIVIST JEAN BRICMONT

The War on Freedom of Speech

by Alexandra Valiente

September 25, 2012

Libya 360


Belgian theoretical physicist Jean Bricmont

Gearóid Ó Colmáin

Every year the French communist Party ( PCF) organizes the Fête de l’Humanité in Paris, a left-wing festival where concerts are held and communist parties from all over the world erect stands to exchange books, pamphlets and ideas. Many authors, journalists and intellectuals are invited every year to participate in debates on philosophy, culture, politics and current affairs.

But this year will probably be remembered for the important debates the attendees of the festival were not allowed to have. Two authors, Belgian theoretical physicist Jean Bricmont and French author Caroline Fourest, were forced to cancel their talks due to intimidation and threats from organisations calling themselves “Antifa” and “Indigènes de la République,” respectively.

Caroline Fourest is a pro-Israeli reactionary who masquerades as a “left-wing” feminist. Her invitation to the festival to discuss the rise of Islamic extremism and the French far right upset many on the Left.

Reactionary and Islamophobic Fourest most certainly is, but preventing her from speaking not only gives credence to her erroneous theories but violates her constitutional right to freedom of speech.

When Fourest was about to speak the dangers of Islamic extremism and the rise of the Front National, France’s far Right party, a group calling themselves “les Indigènes de la République” entered the tent where Fourest was speaking and began to throw objects on the stage. Some protestors even attempted to assault her.

Soon the tent was occupied by the protestors who shouted slogans against racism and Islamophobia. The protestors proceeded to occupy the stage whereupon the audience shouted back “liberté d’expression!” (freedom of expression). The confrontation between the conference attendees and protestors continued for about 20 minutes with each side calling the other “fascist.”

The Indigènes de la République protestors won out, however, when the debate was canceled and Caroline Fourest was escorted by bodyguards to a nearby vehicle.

The following day Belgian physicist, author, and intellectual Jean Bricmont was due to give a far more important talk on the crisis in Syria and the specious discourse of “humanitarian intervention” propagated by the mainstream media to justify wars of aggression.

For many years, Bricmont has been a critic of the politics of military interventions undertaken under the pretext of protecting “human rights.” Bricmont’s heresy on this issue and his anti-Zionism has made him a pariah in the fashionable salons of France’s “respectable” intelligentsia.

The Belgian physicist’s unequivocal anti-imperialist stance has also made him the target of a vile defamation campaign on the internet and in the mainstream French media where he has been called a “rouge-brun,” a brown-shirt red, a “confusioniste” etc.

Furthermore, the more extremist fringes of the internet’s thought-police have singled out Bricmont for special attention. A few days prior to the fête de l’Humanité, an “anti-fascist” anarchist organization called Antifa launched a campaign on Indymedia against Bricmont’s attendance at the festival, where they threatened to assault him if he spoke about humanitarian intervention. In the insane world of Antifa activism, Bricmont’s opposition to NATO-fomented terrorism in Libya and Syria makes him a “fascist.”

Antifa is just one of the international anarchist groups currently being used by the intelligence agencies of imperialist states to sow confusion and chaos among the ranks of disaffected youth, inciting them to mindless, violent acts that serve the agenda of an ever-encroaching police state. This organization, in particular, targets intellectuals who denounce Zionism as well as alternative media outlets which expose the mechanisms and institutions that promote US imperialism throughout the world. It does all this under the guise of “anti-fascism”.

Due to the simple-mindedness of their beliefs and stupidity of their actions, Antifa tend to attract naïve and angry youths who turn up at demonstrations in black hoodies in order to provoke police crackdowns and sabotage any meaningful resistance to the current political order. In other words, Antifa are a group of useful idiots, whose real agenda is to promote fascism under the guise of “anti-fascism.”

Bricmont was informed of their campaign and asked the management of the festival to provide him with appropriate security. The festival managers assured the Belgian scientist that he would have protection. However, one hour before Bricmont was about to speak, he received notification that the talk was cancelled. The violent threats of the Antifa agents provocateurs provided Pierre Laurent, general secretary of the PCF with the perfect pretext to cancel Bricmont’s heretical lecture. Allowing Bricmont to speak would have shown up the PCF for the right-wing, imperialist sham that they are in the eyes of their ever dwindling supporters.

The festival management had decided they could not provide security for the Belgian physicist in the event of an attack by the “Antifa” protestors. However, the pro-war, pro-Israeli pundit Caroline Fourest was provided with full protection by the festival management, in spite of similar threats having been made against her.

This was hardly surprising, considering that the l’Humanité newspaper was the organizer of the festival. L’Humanité has given full support to NATO’s destabilization of Syria since violence broke out there last year, publishing the same war propaganda as its “right-wing” competitors.

According to the PCF’s international affairs spokesman Jacques Fath, the only solution for peace is Syria is the fall of Assad. Fath, of course, made no mention of NATO’s death squads, who have been killing both innocent civilians and security forces since March 2011, facts that have even been verified by many independent journalists and admitted by the Arab league’s observer mission.

Neither of Syria’s communist parties was invited to the festival. Both the Communist Party of Syria (Bakdash) and the Communist Party of Syria (Faisal Aka Unified) won 11 seats in the parliamentary elections that followed the implementation of Syria’s new democratic constitution in May this year.

Both parties have consistently denounced NATO and Gulf-state fomented terrorism against their country since the outbreak of violence in Daraa in 2011. Neither party was allowed to erect a stand at the French communist festival. Instead representatives of the pro-war Syrian opposition were represented.

Those who believe that Jean Luc Melanchon’s Front de Gauche (the French “far Left” party which won 11 percent of the vote in last year’s parliamentary elections) represents some form of alternative to the status quo, would do well to remember that Melanchon and the Front de Gauche SUPPORTED NATO’s intervention in Libya last year. This is an organization which claims to oppose NATO. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The supporters of Melanchon — a demagogue who likes to prop up his left-wing credentials by pretending to support president Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and other centre-left governments in Latin America- do not seem to realize that the ALBA countries all supported Libya’s colonel Gaddafi last year and now openly declare their support for President Bachar al-Assad in his struggle against NATO, and Gulf-state funded terrorism.

While President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela sought to mediate in the Libyan crisis in 2011 in order to prevent military aggression against the country, a mediation welcomed by the Libyan government — and which could have prevented war — they received absolutely no help from Jean Luc Melanchon, who now vaunts himself as an anti-imperialist. Melanchon is a dastardly liar and a political fraud of the highest order.

One would not have to be a physicist like Jean Bricmont to see and understand the horrible reality of NATO’s proxy war in Syria, but what an inconvenient interruption it would have been if the would-be communists of this year’s festival were to be confronted with the naked, mephitic truth about NATO’s humanitarian wars, and the left-wing dupes who support them. Bricmont had to be silenced.

France’s extrême gauche are nothing more than a contemptible, motley crew of cowards, liars, and fools, whose inflated egos and vacuous slogans adequately reflect the all-pervasive cynicism of the corrupted petty-bourgeois class they represent.

But there is another reason for Bricmont’s ostracism from respectable French society; he is a scientist who is capable of applying critical thought to everyday issues that affect the common citizen. In other words, unlike his elitist and conformist colleagues in academia, for whom, peer–reviewed papers, tenure, and social respectability count more than scientific truth; Bricmont represents the type of scientist capable of applying his microscope to the laws that govern civil society — laws whose flagrant violation by Western governments the neo-scholastic monks of postmodern academia conveniently ignore.

In the days following the festival Caroline Fourest’s expulsion was widely bruited in the French mainstream media, who vociferously denounced the violation of her “freedom of expression.”

Fourest is one of the most prominent propagandists for the New World Order, and such is her ubiquity across the French media complex, that she has become a household name. The war-mongering Fourest has been presented as a martyr of human rights, feminism and free speech, thanks to the useful idiots of Antifa. Needless to say, the war-mongering harpies of France’s mainstream media made no mention of the violation of Jean Bricmont’s freedom of speech.

If Fourest, Antifa, the PCF, Front de Gauche, and the entire pseudo-leftist French establishment had their way, Bricmont and his ilk would never again be allowed to speak in a public platform. For what he has to say would expose them for the fakers, imperialist collaborators, and the loud-mouthed nincompoops that they are.

Those activists who admire and those who detest Caroline Fourest can scream “fascist” to one another to their heart’s content in their zany, infantile theatre of the absurd. But it is they who are opening the path for a seizure of power by the extreme Right in this country, as the real fascists in Marine Le Pen’s Front National will easily capitalize on their buffoonery. For, who can blame a simple working class voter for being seduced by the mendacious arguments of Marine Le Pen when there are none but prattling fools to oppose her?

This is not the first time genuine anti-war activists were prevented from speaking in France. Michel Collon, a Belgian journalist, author and editor of a news and analysis website InvestigAction was prevented from speaking at the Bourse du Travail in Paris on November 9, 2011 by the Antifa agents provocateurs. These groups serve the imperialist state by preventing the public from engaging in serious debate about France’s foreign wars.

Other political organizations which have been attacked by the “Antifa” agents provocateurs are the URCF, l’Union de Révolutionaires -Communistes de France and the PRCF, Pôle de renaissance communiste en France.

These organizations have some former heroes of the French Resistance among their members, real fighters against fascism. The president of the PRCF is Léon Landini, a combatant in the French resistance during the Second World War, who was responsible for the killing of over 40 Nazi soldiers, the destruction of 300 Nazi vehicles and dozens of attacks against Nazi railway carriages. The URCF and PRCF are now the main political organizations in France militating for the construction of a real communist party.

Unlike the fakers in the Front de Gauche, PCF, NPA and other organizations, the URCF and PRCF have given their full support to the Syrian communist parties of Syria in their fight against fascist aggression by NATO and the Petro-monarchies of the Gulf states and have unequivocally denounced the lies and disinformation against Syria of the reactionary French press.

It is one of the most egregious propaganda achievements in recent history that those who expose the lies that trick the public into perceiving wars of aggression as humanitarian operations are denounced as “fascists”, while those who bang the drums of war are considered to be “left-wing” and “progressive”. This is the general pattern set by the French media complex and genuine anti-imperialist intellectuals have paid the price by being subjected to a veritable witch hunt for their theoretical heresies.

The censorship of Jean Bricmont by the left liberal establishment is deeply indicative of the perilous direction French society is currently taking. It is the road to a new form of totalitarianism, where critical thought is murdered by platitudes,empty, effete slogans, and the meaningless newspeak of the ruling group mind.

The unconscionable, dishonest and dastardly behavior of the petty bourgeois leftists, if unchecked, will inevitably lead to a grim dénouement in this tragic-comic farce that is contemporary France.

FLASHBACK: Full Disclosure: Buying Venezuela’s Press with US Tax Dollars

The US has been covertly funding opposition-aligned journalists in Venezuela, says Jeremy Bigwood.

Jeremy Bigwood is an investigative reporter whose work has appeared in American Journalism Review, The Village Voice, and several other publications. He covered Latin American conflicts from 1984 to 1994 as a photojournalist.

This article is reproduced, excluding endnotes, from NACLA Report on the Americas (September/October 2010). *Third World Resurgence No. 240/241, August-September 2010, pp 66-69

THE US State Department is secretly funnelling millions of dollars to Latin American journalists, according to documents obtained in June under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The 20 documents released to this author – including grant proposals, awards, and quarterly reports – show that between 2007 and 2009, the State Department’s little-known Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour (state.gov/g/drl) channelled at least $4 million to journalists in Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, through the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF, padf.org), a Washington-based grant maker. The documents shed light on one small portion of the overall US effort to covertly fund journalists all over the world.

The records released thus far pertain only to one particular programme, called ‘Fostering Media Freedom in Venezuela’, for which the State Department gave PADF $700,000 for the period 2007-09. The programme provides journalism grants to unnamed individuals and sponsors journalism education programmes at four regional universities. In carrying out this project, PADF collaborated with Venezuelan media NGOs associated with the country’s political opposition, only two of whose names were not redacted from the declassified documents. It is unclear whether the programme has continued. If it has, and the State Department gave PADF the previously awarded amount, the US government will have spent almost $1.5 million on journalism development in Venezuela since 2007.

Both the State Department and PADF declined to comment for this article.

‘Fostering Media Freedom in Venezuela’ is just one small component of the US government’s covert funding of foreign news outlets and journalists. Not only the State Department but also the Department of Defence, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), and the US Institute for Peace (USIP) all support ‘media development’ programmes in more than 70 countries. The US government spent $82 million in 2006 alone on global media initiatives (not counting money from the Pentagon, the CIA, or US embassies), according to a 2008 NED report.

These government entities fund hundreds of foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs), journalists, policy makers, journalist associations, media outlets, training institutes, and academic journalism faculties. Grant sizes range from a few thousand dollars to millions. For some groups and individuals, the funding can come from more than one US government source and can be disbursed either directly from a US embassy or through intermediaries, which are usually US subcontractors or ‘independent international non-profit organisations’, like PADF.

By serving as an intermediary, PADF has until now hidden the State Department’s role in developing Venezuelan media – one of the political opposition’s most powerful weapons against President Hugo Ch vez and his Bolivarian movement. Neither the State Department, PADF, nor the Venezuelans whom they fund have disclosed the programme’s existence. Yet, as one document notes, the State Department’s own policies require ‘all publications’ that it funds to ‘acknowledge the support’. The provision was simply waived for PADF. ‘For the purposes of this award,’ the document reads, ‘ …the recipient is not required to publicly acknowledge the support of the US Department of State.’ The document does not explain how the programme’s purposes – which, among other things, include establishing professional norms in journalism – do not require PADF or its ‘subgrantees’ to acknowledge that they are funded by the US government.

Although $700,000 may not seem like a lot of money, the funds have been strategically designed to underwrite the best of Venezuela’s news media and recruit young journalists. The documents detail a series of grants doled out to unnamed individual journalists, including two kinds of grants ‘for innovative reporting and investigative reporting’, with the winning content disseminated online ‘and to selected independent media audiences’. We don’t know who won these grants, but we do know that they were substantial. One of them consisted of 10 one-year grants of $25,000 each. For many journalists, especially in Latin America, $25,000 a year is a high salary. PADF also holds ‘2 competitions, one per year, for a total of $20,000 in funding awarded to at least six entries’.

PADF’s Venezuela programme also supports journalism education, which is undertaken to produce investigative work ‘via innovative media technologies’. This grant supports ‘a series of trainings for local journalists focused on the basic and advanced skills of Internet-based reporting and investigative reporting’, aiming to engage ‘a wide range of Venezuelan media organisations and news outlets, including four university partners’. A quarterly report from January-March 2009 mentions courses at Andr‚s Bello Catholic University, the Metropolitan University, the Central University of Venezuela, and Santa Mar¡a University. PADF proposes targeting universities in the capital city of Caracas as well as regional campuses in ‘the Andes, Center East, Zulia and the Western region of the country’.

These initiatives have been undertaken with the collaboration of well-connected opposition NGOs that focus on media. Only one of the documents names any of these organisations – which was probably an oversight on the State Department’s part, since the recipients’ names and a lot of other information are excised in the rest of the documents. A 2007 document names Espacio P£blico (espaciopublico.org) and Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (ipys.org.ve) as recipients of ‘subgrants’. Neither of these organisations has disclosed its participation in the PADF Venezuela programme. On its website, Espacio P£blico describes itself as a ‘non-profit, non-governmental civil association that is independent and autonomous of political parties, religious institutions, international organisations or any government’ (emphasis added). The other ‘subgrantee’, the Venezuelan chapter of Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPyS-Ve), is a Peru-based journalism organisation funded by USAID and the NED. Both groups strongly criticise the Ch vez government for its alleged assault on free expression and other human rights in Venezuela.

The disclosure in July of these organisations’ collaboration with PADF led to calls in Venezuela for a public investigation, forcing Espacio P£blico and IPyS to issue statements on the matter. ‘In Venezuela, it is in no way a crime’ for NGOs to accept international financing, IPyS declared. The organisation denounced the revelations as the latest example in a series of ‘threats, slanders, and defamatory campaigns… put forward by [pro-Ch vez] political agents with absolute impunity’. This was little more than an attempt, IPyS emphasised, to paint the organisation and its allies as foreign agents of the US government. Espacio P£blico issued a similar statement from the National College of Journalists and the National Press Workers’ Union.

Neither statement addressed the real issue: the NGOs’ failure to disclose the US government’s funding of their activities. Moreover, the documents released thus far do not indicate that the Venezuelan journalists and students who participated in this programme were acting as direct ‘agents’ of the US government. Indeed, those who benefited from the PADF grants and education programmes may not have known that the State Department was funding them. And so far as we know, the State Department was not dictating editorial policy in Venezuela or providing its sponsored journalists with talking points. However, the NGOs that worked with PADF targeted their grants and training programmes at journalists who were disposed to pursue reporting that bolstered the US posture toward Venezuela – while never disclosing the source of their funding.

Traditionally, the leading ‘democracy promoter’ in Venezuela is USAID, followed by the NED, with about a third as much funding. In 2005 an FOIA request yielded documents showing that the two entities were underhandedly directing millions of dollars to Venezuelan opposition NGOs. At the time, USAID’s main intermediary was Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a Maryland-based contractor, along with smaller entities associated with the US government, including the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, and Freedom House. After these findings were published, DAI was forced to close its office in Caracas. With the USAID and NED covers blown wide open, the US government apparently sought new funding channels, at least one of which PADF has provided.

PADF’s main office is housed within the Organisation of American States (OAS), granting its officers privileged access to the big players in hemispheric affairs. Funded by various US government agencies and a few private sources – including Stanford Financial Group (recently under investigation for bad banking practices and its CIA connections) and ex-Cuban rum maker Bacardi – PADF has worked in Latin America and the Caribbean since 1962, generally focusing on economic development and disaster relief. Its mission statement, however, does leave open the possibility of getting into the ‘democracy promotion’ racket: The online mission statement says the organisation ’empowers disadvantaged people and communities’ not only ‘to achieve sustainable economic and social progress’ but also ‘to strengthen their … civil society’ (emphasis added). ‘Strengthening civil society’, like ‘promoting democracy’, is NGO-speak for meddling in another country’s politics, even promoting so-called regime change. As one of the documents notes, for example, PADF has worked in Cuba ‘with USAID and private funding to nurture the emergence of independent civil society and entrepreneurship and accelerate a democratic transition’ (emphasis added).

PADF emphasised its solid connections and years of experience in its bid to work as the State Department’s intermediary. In one grant proposal, the organisation described itself as ‘affiliated with the OAS’ and said it ‘operates independently of bureaucratic obstacles that could otherwise slow implementation and sub-grant approvals’. PADF added that it already had ‘over two years of experience working in Venezuela to strengthen local civil society groups working in close coordination with the local OAS office with an ongoing USAID/[Office of Transition Initiatives] grant’. It is ‘one of the few major international groups that has been able to provide significant cash grants and technical assistance to Venezuela NGOs’, the proposal said, adding: ‘To date we have provided over 10 grants to strengthen the institutional capacity of local groups that provides us with unique capability and experience to carry out the proposed… project.’

PADF furthermore advertised that it has access to many sources of cash flow: ‘In addition we can facilitate private sector cash and in-kind donations from both US and in-country donors to complement project resources, if and when needed. PADF’s partnerships with regional business and civil society associations and other regional groupings further enhance our capabilities. They provide for rapid access to international agencies, hemispheric leaders and networks of corporate donors and NGO partners.’ PADF even offered a novel way of evading the official Venezuelan exchange rate. ‘By using PADF’s new “bond swap” system to transfer funds to Venezuela,’ PADF noted, ‘we calculate that the additional local currency generated will be sufficient to meet all in-country expenses within the new US$ budget limit.’ In short, PADF offered its services as a dynamic money-laundering machine.

The revelations that the United States is funding journalism in Venezuela and elsewhere in the hemisphere come on the heels of a report released in May by the centre-right think tank FRIDE (fride.org), based in Madrid, which found that since 2002, the United States has funnelled an estimated $3 million to $6 million every year to ‘small projects with political parties and NGOs’ in Venezuela through an alphabet soup of shifting, intertwined channels. (The FRIDE report was removed from the group’s website soon after it was publicised in June.) Thus, the government support for media fits together with a larger, long-term US effort to strengthen its favoured political movement in Venezuela and elsewhere throughout the hemisphere in the era of Latin America’s ‘left turn’.

Today’s US media sponsorship has deep roots in the history of North American interventionism. Clandestine US funding of media in various countries was first exposed in the 1970s during two congressional investigations convened after the Watergate scandal. Media had by then played a critical role in several US interventions in Latin America, especially after the 1954 invasion of Guatemala and overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz. During that formative operation, a radio station called La Voz de la Liberaci¢n broadcast messages denouncing Arbenz and cheerleading the invasion. It claimed to be Guatemalan but was in fact run by the CIA, airing from Honduras.

The ‘successful’ Guatemala operation quickly became a model emulated in subsequent interventions. As one CIA analyst put it in the 1980s: ‘The language, the arguments, and the techniques of the Arbenz episode were used in Cuba in the early 1960s, in Brazil in 1964, in the Dominican Republic in 1965, and in Chile in 1973.’ Over time, however, US propaganda became more sophisticated and more clandestine. Rather than produce and disseminate its own propaganda, the CIA funded private media companies and journalists, often providing them material to publish or broadcast. During the run-up to the 1973 coup that overthrew Chilean president Salvador Allende, for example, the CIA had established editorial control of El Mercurio, the country’s most prestigious newspaper, which ran constant articles and editorials against the Allende government and in favour of neoliberal economic policies.

As the research of Peter Kornbluh shows, the CIA in less than a year spent $1.95 million on El Mercurio, which was also funded by the ITT Corporation, the CIA’s main private collaborator in Chile. ‘Sustained by the covert funding,’ Kornbluh notes, ‘the Edwards media empire [which owned the paper] became one of the most prominent actors in the downfall of Chilean democracy. Far from being a news outlet, El Mercurio positioned itself as a bullhorn of organised agitation against the government.’ The newspaper was essential, even decisive, in setting the stage for the coup, as the CIA itself recognised. When asked in 2008 if the CIA still funds foreign journalists, agency spokesman Paul Gimigliano said, ‘The CIA does not, as a matter of course, publicly deny or confirm these kinds of allegations.’

After the congressional investigations in the 1970s, the burden of funding overseas media shifted to entities like USAID and the NED, the latter described by the New York Times as ‘a quasi-governmental foundation created by the Reagan Administration in 1983 to channel millions of Federal dollars into anti-Communist private diplomacy’. One of the NED’s first major projects was supporting La Prensa, a major pro-US newspaper in Nicaragua previously funded by the CIA. The NED began funding the paper in 1984 with a grant of two years for $150,000 through a Washington cutout called PRODEMCA.

By early 1987, NED delegations were openly visiting La Prensa. During the 1990 presidential campaign, NED provided the newspaper with at least $1 million, with much of the funding being funnelled through Venezuelan and Costa Rican pass-throughs. Thanks in part to this and other US democracy promotion initiatives, the pro-US candidate Violeta Chamorro – whose family owned La Prensa – was elected president in 1990.

Domestic manipulation

The US government’s use of news media to achieve political outcomes is not limited to efforts abroad. In January 2005 a series of reports revealed that various government agencies had doled out money to at least three US columnists who supported the Bush administration’s social policies, including the No Child Left Behind law and the Healthy Marriage Initiative. And in 2008, the New York Times revealed that the Pentagon had hired more than 75 retired military officers to appear on network and cable news shows to promote the Iraq war.

‘Records and interviews,’ the Times wrote, ‘show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse – an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.’ To date, none of the networks that featured these undisclosed Bush administration publicists – ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox – have mentioned the Times story, which won a Pulitzer Prize.

Although these commentators failed to disclose their arrangements with the US government, they at least presented themselves as editorialists. Yet perhaps the worst recent example of the US government’s meddling in news media anywhere involved Florida-based ‘reporters’ who covered Cuba, US-Cuban relations, and the Cuban American community. The story was first publicised in September 2006, when the Miami Herald reported that at least 10 South Florida journalists, including three staffers at the Herald’s Spanish-language sister paper, El Nuevo Herald, had been moonlighting for Radio and TV Mart¡, the Miami-based government broadcaster that targets Cuba with US propaganda. New documents released in response to an FOIA request and made public in June show that a handful of these journalists were working for the government while producing unerringly hostile coverage of five Cubans convicted of espionage in 2001. The lawyers for the Cuban Five, as they are known, tried unsuccessfully to have the trial moved out of Miami, where the unsequestered jury was likely to be exposed to the prejudicial coverage.

At a time when US journalism is widely acknowledged to be in decline – with thousands of people laid off from the industry since 2008 – it is ironic that the government has seen fit to pump millions of tax dollars into developing the profession elsewhere, even as calls for a government ‘bailout’ of domestic journalism are ignored or ridiculed as socialistic. Another irony is that undisclosed foreign state support for ostensibly independent reporting violates basic principles of journalism’s professional integrity, yet much of the US funding has been undertaken in the name of fostering professionalism and inculcating journalistic standards.

Reporters in Venezuela and elsewhere in the region can and should hold their governments to account. But they should be wary of grants and seminars administered through US-connected NGOs, since covert funding may in some cases cause unwitting recipients to break their countries’ laws. In the end, US officials will have to ask themselves if all this covert funding is really going to successfully help the opposition and ‘promote democracy’ – or whether it will simply backfire and reveal how in practice, Obama’s stated vision of hemispheric relations as guided by ‘mutual respect and common interests and shared values’ is little more than lip service.



 

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