Clip ‘n’ Save: Why are we in Afghanistan?

From plastic back to oil

Akinori Ito has invented an amazingly simple (and small, and inexpensive to operate) machine that recycles plastic safely back into the oil from whence it came. In Japan there isn’t a lot of space to spare, much less for garbage dumps. And Japan has no native oil deposits either, so any petroleum — for plastic, fuel and chemicals — must be imported. For those reasons, recycling is a much higher priority there than it is here. Ito’s machine can be used anywhere there is electricity, and converts one kilo of plastic into approximately one litre of oil, using one kilowatt-hour of electricity. I’ve often wished there were some means of disposing safely of all the plastic that gets thrown out along the roadsides where I live, so this machine sounds like something I’d definitely use if it ever became available here. And with tar-sands pollution and the dangers of massive pipelines becoming a greater menace every day, it seems like a much better idea all around.

One more reason to piss on Thatcher’s grave


Just in case you needed one, here you go: The evil old bat was also part of putschist plans against Venezuela. I was alerted to this story by a piece on Aporrea yesterday, which is basically an abbreviated translation of this Guardian piece. Here are the “money” bits about ol’ Maggie and her equally rotten son, “Sir” Mark, who also tried (and failed) to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea, another oil-rich nation with a disobedient leader, in 2004:

Details of the meetings between [former SAS officer Simon] Mann and Baroness Thatcher, held in the lead-up to the attempted coup, were originally due to be published in Mann’s memoir, Cry Havoc, which came out in 2011. This section was removed on the advice of the publisher, John Blake. However, an early manuscript of the book has been obtained by the Observer and its full claims can be revealed for the first time.

Thatcher’s mental capacity was already on the wane in 2003 – the year her husband, Denis, died – when the conversations are said to have occurred. Their content will prove embarrassing for her son as he prepares for his mother’s funeral on Wednesday.

Mann had known Thatcher for a number of years by this time: the two were introduced by Sir Mark, who was a neighbour of his in Cape Town. Recording a meeting that took place in the first-floor sitting room of Thatcher’s home in Chester Square, in London’s Belgravia, in autumn 2003, Mann says it became clear that the former Tory leader knew and approved of the plans for the Equatorial Guinea coup, describing them as “jolly good”.

He writes: “Maggie asks me how ‘their’ money is being handled. I reassure her that it is going through an air ambulance joint venture, separate to any other investment. Maggie talks about the Docklands redevelopment in London. How everything had to be razed to the ground first.”

In a later conversation in South Africa, Thatcher is said to have commented: “I do hope you’ll be getting on with this job of yours soon, Simon. We mustn’t let anyone down, must we?”

Thatcher is also said to have asked whether Mann had yet met a group, led by a man called Sanchos, who were seeking to remove Chávez from Venezuela. Mann writes: “No – I hadn’t: but, Mark says, we are seeing him next day, in Eaton Place, just next door.”

He continues with Thatcher’s reply: “‘Good. Well, I hope that goes well too.’ She looked at me with her imperial gaze. ‘We must always look after our friends, Simon … as I’m sure you know.'”

That sounds like her, all right. In fact, it sounds totally in character for the greedy, conniving, frankly evil “Iron Lady” who defended Pinochet, even when she knew full well what he was doing to political dissidents (read: LEFTISTS) in Chile. That “scorched earth” approach is vintage Shock Doctrine crapitalism, and it characterizes literally everything she did. Rip it up, tear it down, build shoddy glittering gimcracks where docklands — or entire sovereign nations — used to be.

And yeah, I can see how that embarrassing passage was removed. Maybe now, that chickenshit publisher will finally locate his spine and gonads and reinstate the incriminating bits. And reissue the book unabridged; it deserves a wider readership. Let the world know what mercenaries, terrorists and imperialists REALLY do. And let the chips fall wherever they may. If that means some Tory (and “New” Labour) heads rolling in the British Houses of Parliament, so much the better.

And maybe Mark Fucking Thatcher will finally get some well-deserved prison time. A “mere investor” indeed! When someone financially backs a coup against not one but two presidents, in the name of oil, he’s not a “mere” anything. He is looking to get his money back with more interest than is conscionable even by the lax rules of modern casino capitalism. He is a putschist, plain and simple. He belongs locked up for the rest of his miserable unnatural life.

And so did his horrid mother, for whom justice will only come in the form of unkind histories now.


Chilean copper miners go on 24-hour strike


Remember how, a few years ago, Sebastián Piñera was hailed by a gullible world media as a hero for the rescue of a group of miners who were, in fact, rescued by their own resourceful comrades? Well, today we see hard evidence of just how much of a miners’ hero Piñochetera ain’t. This is major, folks:

Workers from the National Copper Corporation (CODELCO) and private mining companies in Chile have decreed a 24-hour strike for today, to reclaim workers’ benefits and what they call the “renationalization” of the industry.

The strike was called by the Federation of Copper Workers (FTC), and the Miners’ Federation of Chile (FMC), a work-stoppage that they consider historical, in that it synchronizes the actions of one of the unions at CODELCO and the syndicate active in the private industries.

On March 15, the FTC announced that the national strike would be carried out in all of CODELCO’s facilities, in rejection of a process of “covert privatization”, among other reasons.

According to the union, the 24-hour work stoppage was decided “as a result of weariness over the arrogance, high-handedness and blatant inefficiency of the executives towards the workers and the country.”

The call to strike was announced after the closing of an extraordinary congress of the syndicate, which made the determination in order to repudiate and demand changes and rectifications to a conjuncture of situations which affect the workers of CODELCO.

“When they don’t respect you or the collective agreement you signed, when there are problems with the governance of the business that affect workers, there is no doubt that measures must be taken,” said Raimundo Espinoza, president of the FTC, a union consisting of 16,000 workers.

The syndicate opposes the continued out-contracting of CODELCO functions, a process considered to be a covert privatization of the activities of the state company.

In contrast to that dynamic, the union considers it necessary to make substantial changes to the mining politics of the land, a process they call renationalization.

For their part, the Copper Workers (CTC) expressed solidarity with the FTC strike, after deeming it necessary to hold a large short-term nationwide strike in the copper sector.

Cristian Cuevas, the president of the CTC, announced that the union, which brings together more than 30,000 contract workers for the state company and another 10,000 from the private sector, shares the demands of the FTC, and the call to mobilize, even though they have their own agenda.

The minister of Mining, Hernán de Solminihac, issued a call to dialogue, and noted that the contribution of the mining sector to the national budget is considerable.

With the pressure on CODELCO, which is the largest copper producer in the world with some 5.6 million tonnes per year, one-third of the world’s copper supply is now at stake.

Along with the work-stoppage in the state company, the strike includes the Minera Escondida, operated by the Anglo-Australian corporation BHP BIlliton; Collahuasi and Anglo American Sur, administrated by the Anglo American corporation; and the Chilean company, Antofagasta Minerals, among others.

Translation mine.

Copper is to Chile what oil is to Venezuela, but Chileans haven’t seen the benefits trickle down because, thanks to Pinochet and the Chicago Boys and their ironically named “miracle”, the government has seen fit to slash the public sector to the point where, like the average working-class Chilean, it’s all but dead. Education and healthcare and even pensions are privatized, and unless one is awfully rich to begin with (with an inherited copper mine to one’s name, perhaps), they are all terrible. It’s not just the Chilean miners who are on strike; the Chilean students have been striking for years already for a better education system, a public one which is free and of good quality (as opposed to the expensive, shitty private system they have now.)

It’s not hard to see, given that Chile produces one third of the world’s total copper, how a proper nationalization of the industry, with proceeds going toward social programs as oil money does in Venezuela, would make all the difference…and work a REAL economic miracle. I hope these workers are ready to bunker down, though, because it’s going to take much more than just a one-day strike to make real changes in this ghastly situation.

Short ‘n’ Stubby: Ms. Manx takes on oil spills


Listen! Do you hear that loud and urgent meowing? It means Ms. Manx is back from a longer than usual hiatus with her latest catch. No, not mice. She’s got links to share. And this time, the Stumpy Cat has come back with sticky black goo on her paws. She’s going to need help getting that off! Good thing I’ve got some Dawn dish soap, eh kitty?

And it’s a good thing these beavers in Utah got rescued by some kind wildlife folks who also stock up on the stuff just in case. Can you believe they built a dam that helped contain the diesel oil spill? That’s what beavers do best. They do a better job building dams than the humans do building pipelines, says Ms. Manx, cattily.

And while we’re on the subject of humans who build crappy pipelines, ExxonMobil just got off on the most technical of technicalities. The Stumpy Cat thinks that’s not right. She also thinks that if they won’t pay into a cleanup fund, why, they should just pay for the clean-up all on their own, which will cost them a lot more. And which, frankly, they can afford to pay…and indeed, DESERVE to pay.

And speaking of those who deserve to pay, our cyberkitty would also like to draw your attention to the Canadian Imperialist Bank of Commerce. These wanking banksters, unlike the average Canadian, stand to gain from the building of a tar sands pipeline. And they’re whining and boohoo-ing about how much they’re losing every day that that pipeline isn’t being built and its bituminous contents aren’t being spilt. It all sounds very impressive and persuasive…until you realize that they just pulled those numbers out of the same orifice banksters usually pull their projections from.

BTW, for those who are trying to keep track of all the oil spills from this week alone, they are:

One in White River, Ontario;

One in St.-Jerôme, Québec;

and of course, the no-fly zone that is Mayflower, Arkansas. Guess that shocking aerial footage was getting in the way of Exxon getting off easy, eh?

And finally, Ms Manx really likes this Lee Camp dude, who sums up the problem with oil pipelines so succinctly:

The ironies of the Venezuelan opposition, part 1


Well, hi there, Majunche Capriles Radonsky! So nice to see you looking so perky. Bet you think you’ve got an easy victory ahead of you now that your true rival is in his coffin. And you’re no doubt grinning because you’ve got all of Washington and Miami and all the appropriate CIA stations behind you, too. Well, don’t get too smug, little Majunche. I’m gonna translate some things that will show people in the English-speaking parts of the world a thing or two they wouldn’t see otherwise. Namely, just what hollowness and ugliness is behind that cute little monkey grin of yours. And a few of the ironies of your soon-to-be-failed rerun of your presidential campaign, too. Get ready, Majunche, because here comes the first:

On Twitter, as well as by way of the opposition media, such as, the organizers of the campaign of Henrique Capriles Radonski, candidate for the presidency of Venezuela on behalf of the régime of Barack Obama and the “Democratic Unity Table” (MUD), announced Tuesday that the command of their campaign will be called “Comando Simón Bolívar”.

Not only the name of the command has been inspired by ideas derived from and driven by Chavismo, but the director himself is an old “Chavista” and the current governor of Lara state, Henry Falcón.

The idea may have been conceived in the US during the recent trip there by Capriles, who was there to meet with authorities of the Obama régime and plan a possible “régime change” in Venezuela.

The name of the command surprised many, given the fact that the opposition removed from the presidential office in Miraflores Palace a portrait of the Liberator, Simón Bolívar, shortly after executing the coup d’état against Hugo Chávez on April 11, 2002.

One of the first measures taken by the opposition supported by Capriles, on April 12, 2002, was to remove the word “Bolivarian” from the name of the Republic.

Also, unanimously, the leaders rejected the placement of the eighth star on the national flag, which the Liberator, Simón Bolívar, himself had solicited.

Following the Washington line on how to touch the sensibilities of Chávez’s followers, the director of the opposition campaign, Henry Falcón, said today that “the best tribute to the memory of Hugo Chávez is to act with truthfulness and respect.”

The original program of the government of Washington’s candidate announced a supposed continuation of all the social missions created by the late president, Hugo Chávez.

The function of the command was equally inspired by North American ideas. Just like the US, where every state has its own laws and functions independently, “this will be a completely decentralized campaign,” announced Falcón.

Isn’t that funny, Majunche? You and your chef de mission, Henry Falsón, as he’s come to be known for reasons good, just can’t seem to beat Bolivarianism. So you have to JOIN it. After 14-odd years of rejecting Bolívar, suddenly you’re kneeling at his feet like a couple of penitents seeking absolution. Chavecito is having a good laugh at you from the grave, and he’s not even buried yet! Meanwhile, here’s how you and your “commando” treated their namesake 11 years ago, when you pulled that coup:


I always wanted a portrait of Bolívar for in the john, myself.

And that’s not all. Yesterday I found that Globomojón is up for sale. Guess it’s lost its sense of purpose now that the object of all its hate is no longer there for it to kick around. You’d think that the triumph of the forces of evil, sorry, CAPITALISM would be celebrating this victory with a huge upsurge in stock prices and profits and all that crap. But no, the air’s all gone out of that particular bubble, with nothing left to go pop:

The private channel, Globovisión, “did everything” so that the opposition would win the presidential election of October 7, 2012, which was won by the revolutionary (and now deceased) candidate, Hugo Chávez.

So said the president of the channel, Guillermo Zuloaga, in a letter sent to all the workers of the television enterprise, to inform them that there is an offer to buy the channel.

“Last year, I took the decision to do everything in our power, at the risk of the capital of the shareholders and aware of the implications this attitude could carry, to ensure that the opposition would win the elections in October,” wrote Zuloaga in the missive, published by the channel’s website.

“At Globovisión we did everything extraordinarily well, and we almost succeeded; but the opposition lost,” wrote Zuloaga. (Could it be that they are not of the opposition?)

Zuloaga, a fugitive from Venezuelan justice, said that Globovisión had become “an inviable business”. (Undoubtedly the business is inviable wherever one looks, above all when it comes to ethical solvency.)

Zuloaga said that in this situation, “they have oblliged me to seek possible solutions to our dilemma. I’ve met with various persons and groups, without success, and three weeks ago, I was contacted by Dr. Juan Domingo Cordero.”

Zuloaga writes that Cordero made him “a proposition, which while not what the shareholders would have hoped for, I am obliged to accept since it permits a solution so that Globovisión will stay on the air and be able to maintain our payroll of nearly 500 persons.”

He indicated that the negotiation is ready to close this week, but before the announcement that there would be a presidential election on April 14, “I took the decision to make the firm and irrevocable condition that the turnover would take place after the election.”

Zuloaga is wanted by the authorities for usury and criminal conspiracy, following a finding by police on May 21, 2009, that there were several vehicles at his home whose presence there could not be justified.

Some backgrounder is necessary here. Besides being president of Venezuela’s equivalent of FUX Snooze, Guillermo Zuloaga is also the country’s sole importer for Toyota, and the owner of several Toyota sales concerns. The “usury” in question refers to his illegal storage of dozens of Toyotas in his home garage, where they were being hidden so that the few sitting for sale on his car lots would become artificially expensive. It’s a cheesy form of speculation, basically. And it’s something that I’m sure the Japanese owners of the Toyota corporation must be frowning on, as it keeps their merchandise from selling in a timely manner and in that sense, is holding up the production line. Not to mention the profits it’s costing them. If I were sitting in Toyota’s head office right now, and this came across my desk, I’d be on the horn to Venezuela this minute, and what I’d have to say would be unprintable. What major automotive corporation wants a crook heading up the local importer, after all? That shit’s bad for business. Especially since Chavecito’s Venezuela is one where more people can afford cars now that the oil wealth has finally begun to trickle down in earnest. Who’s gonna buy Toyotas if it’s known that Venezuela’s importer of that make is a crook and a putschist?

And therein lies another of the ironies of the opposition. Socialism has been good for their business, but rather than just count the money, shrug and be glad, they’re actively cutting off their noses to spite their faces. And all because they don’t own the country outright, to ruin as they please, and then fuck off to Miami when it gets truly unbearable in Caracas, Maracaibo, or wherever they squat. Anything but admit that Chavecito was right, and that his reign was very, VERY good for Venezuela.

Well, if you want to go on being wrong, guys, have at it. I’m not going anywhere. I’m just gonna sit here totting up the ironies as they cross my line of sight, and grinning, and waiting for the 14th, when President Maduro (whom I will have to give a good nickname) takes office in earnest…and drives his campaign bus right over the backs of Zuloaga, Majunche and anyone else who tries to get in the way.


Greg Palast remembers Chavecito

Thom Hartmann interviews Greg Palast, who knew Chavecito as well as any journalist ever could. Incorruptibility counts hugely with Greg Palast; as a fiercely independent journalist himself, he hates being beholden to anyone. So it’s significant that he doesn’t hesitate to admire Chavecito for refusing to be bribed! That, and the redistribution of wealth, and oh yeah: Chavecito’s enormous intelligence. Anyone who thinks Chavecito was a “buffoon”, go talk to Greg and let him set you straight. He says with no hesitation that Chavecito is “the smartest guy I ever met”. Not a saint, mind you, but a damn good and intelligent leader. One who made a lot of difference to Venezuela, a difference you can actually see, even in the poorest parts of Caracas.

So, what are his criticisms of the late leader? Well, he disagrees with Chavecito’s letting the coupmongers of 2002 go to, as he puts it, “play with their money in Miami”! I agree with Greg there myself. If it were up to me, I’d have buried those bastards all with my bare hands. And I am as democratic a socialist as you will ever find anywhere; I don’t even believe in the death penalty, but for them, I’d cheerfully make an exception! They committed high treason, they murdered innocent people, they nearly murdered a popular elected leader, and they should, by rights, be rotting for it, along with every US military attaché, diplomat and businessbastard who supported the coup. Think of the message THAT would have sent!

But Chavecito being the kind of awesome guy he was, he magnanimously refused to throw the book at them. And as crazy as that may sound to Greg, me and probably you too, it turns out to be of the “crazy like a fox” persuasion. Because anyone who wants to single him out as a draconian dictator will have to confront the fact that he let all his enemies run around unfettered, like the silly chickens they are, squawking loudly about their so-called lack of freedom and free speech (!!!) while he got on with the business of changing Venezuela for the better.

And he did. Oh boy, did he ever. And he turns out not to have needed any help from the traditional ruling classes at all. So much for their “natural superiority”! Those oligarchs may have nearly all the money in Venezuela, but their brainpower is inversely proportional to it; even the best plans of their doofy (and crooked) leaders, like Manuel Rosales (remember him? He’s Peru’s problem now!) have never been more than bad copies of Chavecito’s oil-powered public welfare programs. Which have worked so well that extreme poverty is now virtually extinct in Venezuela, while overall poverty is less than half of what it was, unemployment is also cut by half, illiteracy is zero, and healthcare and education free and open to all. And it’s all been paid for by the revenues of that Venezuelan oil, the same that the coup was launched over in the first place. Here’s some more of Greg, this time talking to Paul Jay on The Real News:

And who’s mad that the oil money isn’t flowing to their pockets? Those same stupid, inbred oligarchs who have the unmitigated chutzpah to question the constitutional order they had no problem violating in April 2002. And some truly nasty, shadowy buzzards in the US, too: the Koch Brothers. Whose money, not coincidentally, is propping up a lot of media campaigns against the ‘Cito. Still. Even on the edge of his grave, they can’t stop hounding him. Or defaming him.

The comforting thing is, no one will mourn any of these vultures when THEY are gone. Compare and contrast that with Chavecito…

Good luck finding a more popular leader anywhere.

Quotable: Julian Bond on the Keystone XL pipeline


Yes, pipelines absolutely ARE a civil rights issue. Just ask anyone, native or or not, black or white, whose land is being expropriated by corporate interests without so much as a by-your-leave.

How Mario Vargas Llosa fictionalized a massacre


Bodies of the victims of the massacre of Uchuraccay, Peru. Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel prizewinner, failed presidential candidate, and all-around pompous twit, didn’t kill them, but he has a lot to answer for. After all, it is he who helped to sweep the truth about their deaths under a very large rug:

On January 26, 1983, eight journalists and an Andean guide were brutally massacred. This crime was perpetrated in the community of Uchuraccay (Ayacucho), by campesinos directed by the Peruvian Navy. With this crime, the government and the Armed Forces gave evidence of the use of peasant bands in the couterinsurgency war against the Maoist guerrillas of the Shining Path. With this crime, the government inaugurated the “strategic villages” against subversion. It all took place during the reign of Fernando Belaúnde Terry (1980-85) of the right-wing Popular Action party (AP), which collaborated during the 1990s with the government of Alberto Fujimori.

The journalists had arrived in the area to investigate the killings of several presumed members of the Communist Party of Peru, among them some minors, by members of the neighboring community of Huaychao. The armed forces had begun to use the tactic of organizing peasant communities against the guerrillas, much like the United States in Vietnam, and later in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Colombia.

The journalists were bludgeoned to death with sticks, stones and hatchets. After the massacre, an investigative commission was created, with (now) Nobel prize-winning writer Mario Vargas Llosa presiding. The investigative commission determined that the locals of Uchuraccay had believed the journalists to be members of the Shining Path, confusing their cameras with rifles. The commission concluded that the massacre was a product of the existence of “cultural differences between the Quechua-speaking peasants and the urban journalists”, and that “the Armed Forces had no responsibility in the incident”.

“We are all culpable,” said Vargas Llosa in his final conclusion.

These conclusions contradict all the evidence. During that time, the Armed Forces held military control of the region. Uchuraccay was controlled by the Navy. The militaries attempted to organize peasant communities against the Shining Path, and were in direct contact with the peasants, controlling them and organizing them for anti-guerrilla warfare. The official version said that the peasants of Uchuraccay had confused the journalists’ photographic cameras with weapons. But it was known that many local peasants had done obligatory military service, and could not have confused a rifle with a camera.

In this way, Vargas Llosa’s commission absolved the politicians of the systematic violation of human rights as a pillar of the Peruvian state’s counterinsurgency strategy, and exculpated military murderers, covered up a massacre, and, in this way, many others, and legitimized the militarization of the Peruvian countryside.

In exculpating the military, Vargas Llosa became an accomplice in the massacre of Uchuraccay.

To cover up the crime, the Peruvian author tried to give the massacre a literary tone. In an interview later on, Vargas Llosa claimed that the massacre had been a product of the existence of “two Perus”, one composed of those who lived in the twentieth century, and another, such as the people of Uchuraccay, who lived in the nineteenth or even the eighteenth century.

The facts later confirmed suspicions as to the responsibility of the Armed Forces. 135 of the villagers of Uchuraccay died in the years after that, most of them “disappeared” by soldiers who intended to dispose of all vestiges of responsibility in the massacre of the journalists. The families of the victims had repeatedly complained that they had been threatened and pressured not to make any denunciations toward clearing up the massacre.

In spite of this, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, created to investigate crimes committed during the civil war between 1980 and 2000, upheld the thesis of the Vargas Llosa commission, and exculpated the Armed Forces. It is one of the clearest cases of how the Truth Commission has served to write an Official History of the civil war, absolving the military, police or paramilitaries, or to minimize their responsibility in the murders, massacres, disappearances and tortures of Peruvian citizens.

Later investigations shed new lights and demonstrated the co-responsibility of the Armed Forces in the massacre. Fernando Fuchs Valdez investigated the case and revealed details of the military’s part. According to his investigations, the military not only encouraged the massacre, but also set the trap for the journalists and their guide. The region was full of intelligence agents who informed the peasants of Uchuraccay of the arrival of the journalists and gave them the orders to kill them. Those responsible for the massacre were President Fernando Belaúnde as commander in chief of the Armed Forces; General Clemente Noel, chief of the Military Command of Huamanga, capital of Ayacucho; naval officer Duffo, military commander of the province of Huanta, and his lieutenant, Artaza Adrianzén. The Vargas Llosa commission and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are responsible for covering up the massacre.

In 2010, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, with head office in San José, Costa Rica, declared admissible the suit filed by the families of the massacre victims. This so that the Peruvian government would finally act to correct the irregularities in the judicial investigations into the massacre at Uchuraccay.

It has now been 30 years of lies and systematic terrorization of the victims’ families in an effort to conceal those truly responsible, and selective assassination of witnesses. This infamous history began with the report of the Vargas Llosa commission, which distorts and conceals information, silences the families, exonerates the military, and absolves the Belaúnde government of all blame. On January 26, the anniversary of the massacre of Uchuraccay, there remain bloodstains on the biography of Mario Vargas Llosa, whose pen and fame have served to cover up for the military assassins.

Translation mine.

You may recall that Vargas Llosa, on numerous occasions, saw fit to bow and scrape to other fascist criminals than Fernando Belaúnde Terry. He’s also attempted to interfere in Venezuelan politics, repeatedly and hypocritically denouncing the supposed offences of Hugo Chávez against democracy. And for whom did he do this? A bunch of putrid old putschists with direct ties to the various governments of the Fourth Republic and their massacres, which look a lot like what happened in Peru at Uchuraccay.

Back in the 1960s, the Venezuelan government, nominally democratic but in fact a puppet régime controlled by the CIA and the foreign oil barons, was under siege by various bands of leftist hill-guerrillas. The guerrillas knew the real nature of the government, and they had considerable popular support. They were angry that the same two parties alongside whom they had fought for democracy had effectively marginalized and excluded them once the last official Venezuelan dictator, Marcos Pérez Jiménez, was out of the way. They were determined to do away with the false democracy of the pact of Punto Fijo and the Fourth Republic, and usher in a Fifth Republic, in which true democracy would hold sway, and the oil barons and the CIA would be sent packing.

The government of Hugo Chávez is the first of that Fifth Republic. In fact, it was born under the name of the “Fifth Republic Movement” (MVR, to use its Spanish acronym), a small progressive party that merged with several others to form the PSUV, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. It has been praised by no less than Jimmy Carter as a strong democracy with the cleanest and most transparent elections in the world.

But Chávez was not a guerrilla. In fact, he got HIS military start in the 1970s as commanding officer of an army outpost near the Colombian border, a region supposedly riddled with guerrillas who had spilled in from the civil war in the neighboring country. But the guerrilla insurgency he had been sent to combat, he soon learned, was nonexistent. In fact, the leftist guerrilla movements of the previous decade had been largely suppressed and disbanded years before. The victims of the military raids in the border region turned out to be nothing but Venezuelan peasants. The Venezuelan military was killing its own.

The realization that he was serving a corrupt, murderous government made an indelible impression on the young Chávez. But he was in no position to do anything about it yet. Instead of immediately launching an uprising, he started a Bolivarian movement with his fellow officers, adding like-minded soldiers as they came. In this way, he managed to gradually build up support for a rebellion even as he and his colleagues rose through the army ranks. By the time of the Caracazo, in late February and early March of 1989, the Bolivarian movement in the military had branched out to include civilians and ex-guerrillas as well, but still not enough of either.

The Caracazo took them all by surprise. It would have been a golden opportunity for Chávez and his confederates to step in and take a lead, but the spontaneous protests were too sudden and chaotic for that. Worse, the government of Carlos Andrés Pérez ordered the military to join the police in repressing the demonstrations. More than a thousand Venezuelans lost their lives and were hastily buried in mass graves. (The effort to identify these victims and tally the full death count is still ongoing.)

But the Caracazo served as a catalyst. The Bolivarian movement grew even more in its wake as disgruntled soldiers, hearing rumors of a group of officers plotting an overthrow, approached Chávez. Many of them were in tears over having had to fire on their own people, poor displaced ex-campesinos many of them, from the hillside barrios surrounding Caracas. By the time February 4, 1992 rolled around, there appeared to be enough support for Chávez to judge that it was time to make his move. The tanks began to roll in the wee hours of the morning; news footage from the time shows one of them driving up the steps of the government palace, Miraflores, banging its cannon on the doors like a battering-ram. The intention was clear: to get rid of CAP by any means necessary.

The rebellion failed to dislodge CAP; Chávez and company went to jail. The following year, CAP was impeached for embezzlement of government funds, and sent packing. By the time he got out of prison in 1994, Chávez had become a bona fide national hero. The Bolivarian movement had matured during his imprisonment.

The rest is democratic history. Venezuela is the great success story among South American nations seeking mass-movement democracy. In 1999, its very constitution was rewritten by popular mandate, and voted and ratified by the people. Moreover, the Chávez government has spearheaded the campaign to uncover the massacres of the Fourth Republic — not only the Caracazo, but Yumare and Cantaura, as well. You can’t get much more democratic than that.

Meanwhile, Peru is still struggling for its own democracy. The guerrilla wars from the 1960s to the present have borne no fruit there. A series of repressive, militarized governments have corrupted and co-opted the peasants so that they could never become part of a leftist movement. It appears that appeasing foreign corporations and their rapacious hunger for resources is more important to the Peruvian government than the well-being of its own people, regardless of who is elected president. Even Ollanta Humala, for a time the best hope of the left, has fallen victim to the syndrome.

And of course, there’s that failed former candidate, Mario Vargas Llosa…whose thwarted presidential bid irked him so much that he fucked off for Spain shortly after his defeat. Perhaps he considered his oh-so-poetic “we are all criminals” cover-up job a thankless task? If so, I’d say he got precisely the thanks he deserved. Peru’s democracy may be weak and shaky and all too prone to “market” forces, but the people were at least smart enough to vote against a slick weasel who, it turns out, elided a very dark and dirty chapter in their nation’s history. By the time the last chapter of Vargas Llosa’s life is written, he will go down not as an impeccable Nobel laureate so much as a clay-footed idol who crumbled hideously under pressure.

Now, the truth is finally coming out, but the popular rage has yet to come to a head. What future government will do for Peru what Chávez is doing for Venezuela?

Spanish paper speculates, anglo whore media runs with it.


“Doctors have already told the Chávez family that he will not recover. Venezuelan government to announce in the next few days the incapacity of the president, who has lost his voice.”

O RLY? Film at 11…

The Spanish newspaper ABC claims to be certain of the deteriorating health of Bolivarian leader Hugo Chávez, and affirms that he is no longer in any fit condition to govern. The latest article, called an “exclusive” by the paper, attempts to reawaken controversy over the future of Chávez.

According to ABC, the Venezuelan leader has lost his voice, and will not recover; the Government of Venezuela could make the announcement of the president’s incapacity in the coming days.

This information comes just as the president marks three months since his departure for Cuba, where he is receiving treatment for cancer.

Chávez’s health has spawned other so-called “exclusives”, even though the information published has all turned out to be false.

Near the end of January, another Spanish daily, El País, published a photo, claiming it was a picture of Chávez intubated on a hospital bed.

However, it was actually a capture from a video on medical practices published on YouTube in 2008, showing a patient physically resembling the Venezuelan head of state.

Venezuelan authorities termed that action a “transnational media power offensive against the Bolivarian Revolution and Comandante Chávez, a campaign using the press as spearhead.”

According to numerous experts, this type of media attack against the Venezuelan president will not cease until Hugo Chávez reappears in public.

In the opinion of political analyst Basem Tajeldine, the major international media are “experts in manipulation, entrapment, and lies.” Tajeldine adds that “we have already seen in the past how they have taken a line of action in demonizing the Bolivarian Revolution.”

Translation mine.

Meanwhile, what arrives in my inbox today but this, this and this…all, basically, just anglo media douchebags, pimping the hell out of the bogus “exclusive”. Haven’t they learned anything from the disgrace of El País?

Nope…apparently not.

So why are they making asses of themselves yet again? Well, it’s all in an effort to sow confusion and doubt, and maybe build support for a US-led “democracy promotion” effort that could only result in another fascist coup, like the one in Honduras in ’09. (Or the failed one in Venezuela, in ’02. The one that turned around in less than 48 hours. How soon they forget!)

But really, what they’re doing is just a vast waste of money, time and effort. If they were smart, they’d cut it the fuck out and just stick to plain old reporting. But that would mean reporting that Venezuela is now long accustomed to REAL democracy and independence, rather than banana republicanism and oil-state client status. The people have spoken; Chávez or no Chávez, the revolution is going to go on, and the Bolivarian constitution is not about to be circumvented by any opposition calls for new elections. Even if he doesn’t make it back, his vice-president is still legally authorized to govern in his place…and if he becomes unable to carry out his duties, the president of the National Assembly will take over, per the constitution. Like it or not, Venezuela will never again be ruled by a US-friendly puppet dictator (masquerading as a “democrat”!) from the oligarchy.

And the Venezuelan people will not be swayed by Operation Mockingbird, either; they are so onto the CIA and its media gambits that it’s downright hilarious to see shit like this still going on at this late stage of the game (and in the age of Wikileaks, too!)

I would also like to point out here that Chávez has just recovered from a respiratory infection, and that his much-trumpeted loss of voice is actually just a temporary result of having been intubated for a longer period of time. When he had the infection, the crapagandists were already writing his obituary, prematurely. If he were really going to die, I expect that a respiratory infection would have been enough to do it. Pneumonia, when fatal, is a rapid killer; it takes most of its victims within hours or days, not weeks…or two fucking months. That’s the amount of time it takes to clear in someone whose immune system is compromised, eg. a cancer patient. (Like, oh, say, Chavecito.)

I have to say this: As much as I despise all these corporate presstitutes and their crapaganda, I hope none of them ever have to go through a long, difficult and involved cancer treatment themselves. But I’m sorely tempted to wish it on them…because if they did, they might finally gain some scientific insight into the condition, and maybe (mirabile dictu!) some empathy for a man about whom they obviously know nothing, but just love to hate. (Yeah, I know…I’m dreaming. They’ll probably just die unregenerate. And stupid.)

Meanwhile, Chavecito’s recovery continues. Call me a crazy Canuck, call me a Chavista, hell — you could even call me Shirley, but I’m gonna take the word of his government deputies over some crappy Spanish gossip rag that probably never got any of its hacks within a mile of the Cuban coastline. He’s gonna make it.*

And oh boy, am I ever gonna rub these Koch-suckers’ noses in it when the ‘Cito returns to his presidential desk in Caracas safe and sound, and vocal as ever.

*And if you doubt me, read this. (You’re welcome!)