Tories have wrecked Canada’s refugee system


Damage to a downtown Vancouver neighborhood by the racist Asiatic Exclusion League, September, 1907. In the last hundred or so years, it’s astonishing how little has changed, at least in the way our government treats non-white immigrants.

If you ever wondered how fucked-up our immigration policy has become, wonder no more. Just look at how our lovely right-wing government treats refugees from what is surely the most despised and ridiculed régime on the planet right now:

A recent decision by the refugee appeal tribunal to side with Ottawa and overturn a North Korean woman’s refugee status has sent shockwaves among asylum seekers who fled the Communist regime.

Minseo Kim, 45, and her daughter, Sangah Rhee, 2, came to Canada via South Korea in early 2013 and were granted asylum by the Immigration and Refugee Board in April.

However, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander successfully appealed the decision with the board’s newly established refugee appeal division, arguing that Kim and Rhee should not be recognized as refugees because North Koreans are automatically South Korean citizens.

Gee, you’d think such a bunch of fascists as we have in government here would never miss a chance to stick their fingers in the eye of Kim Jong-un. After all, he’s a dirty commie. But no, their own cheapskate capitalist tendencies have got the better of them:

Historically, North Korean refugees have had an acceptance rate over 50 per cent, peaking at 72 per cent in 2010. However, the number of claims has been steadily creeping up. In 2012 alone, 718 new claims were received, prompting concern from the federal government.

“Concern”? A few hundred refugee claims, back in the old days, wouldn’t have been cause for batting an eyelash. If these had been white Eastern Europeans back in the Cold War era, the government would have waved them though, and maybe even discreetly pumped them for sensitive information on their countries of origin, if they seemed in a position to give any.

As it is, this government is only too happy to import cheap Chinese labor for the tar sands and its associated pipeline projects. It’s hardly “concerned” about all the jobs Canadian workers stand to lose under those circumstance. So why make an issue of a few little Korean refugees? How much taxpayer money could they possibly eat up? Why are they so “concerned” that we are a more popular refugee destination of choice than our neighbor to the south?

At this rate, one wonders why we have a refugee policy at all. Why not bring back the old anti-Asian exclusion laws, if you’re going to be this irrational and hateful?

A pregnant woman from North Korea who is still waiting for a refugee hearing had her interim federal health coverage stripped in November, said Wright, because immigration officials deemed her a South Korean national. She gave birth at Sunnybrook hospital and is now $3,000 in debt.

“This is outrageous,” said Wright. “It just shows the mean-spiritedness of the government.”

Over the past year, Ottawa has designated 35 countries as “safe” for refugees and added South Korea to the list in May. It said it has no plan to put the “safe country” label on North Korea.

Given that North Korean refugees are treated as spies and enemy aliens in the “safe” South, this move could hardly be more cynical.

Did the CBC do propaganda-for-pay?

I dunno…you tell me:

I always did find that particular Mansbridge “report” awfully Harpo-friendly (and uncharacteristically so). And conveniently timed, too, as the above video says, with Pooty-Poot laying his own claims to the North Pole’s seabed and all that oil and gas underneath. Funny how the Harper Government™ always threatens to cut off the CBC’s funding on one hand, but then launders a cheque to the broadcaster through, of all things, a federal agency like Parks Canada (which is supposed to be promoting nature conservation, not oil and gas exploration!)

But then again, this is just so stinkingly typical for Harpo & Co. There just isn’t a thing they’ve touched that hasn’t turned rotten and corrupt under their oily, greasy, greedy fucking hands. Not one thing…whether it’s conservation agencies or our news media, who are supposed to be independent, after all.

The Snowden Affair, as seen from Venezuela and Ecuador

So far, Venezuela has not received any asylum request from Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor turned whistleblower who revealed that the intelligence agency is spying on pretty well everyone who’s got a telephone and/or internet access. But, says President Maduro, if Venezuela were to receive such a request, the response would be favorable:

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro made reference to the Snowden case in remarks made during a press conference along with his Haitian counterpart, Michel Martelly.

“Denunciations of espionage on the part of intelligence agencies in the United States should serve to change the world,” Maduro said.

What this young man did has been for the good of humanity. No one in the world should be spied on, said Maduro. “Snowden surprised the world in divulging denunciations over the violation of civil liberties in the United States,” he added, and asked: “What would happen if it were found out that Venezuela, a humble country, is spying on the entire world? We’d then have all the organisms, the [UN] Security Council, coming down on Venezuela.”

The young people of the US are with Snowden, who deserves all the humanitarian aid that can be offered. He has not sought asylum in Venezuela, but we are abreast of and watching his situation, said Maduro.

The Venezuelan president also said that in the United States, there are political asylum seekers who placed bombs in the Colombian and Spanish diplomatic installations in Venezuela, among them Luis Posada Carriles, a convicted and confessed killer, who caused the deaths of more than 70 young athletes on a Cubana de Aviación flight that departed from Caracas.

“Who deserves asylum: those who contribute to the world, or those who place bombs?” asked the president, referring to the crime in Barbados.

Translation mine.

Isn’t it ironic (and extremely interesting) that Luis Posada Carriles, a convicted terrorist, is walking free in the US even though he arrived there illegally and, by rights, should be either in jail there, or else extradited to Venezuela or Cuba for his crimes?

Meanwhile, several fugitives from Ecuador are also oozing around in Gringolandia, quite unpunished by US justice, even though they are wanted for crimes against humanity back home:

The ex-president of Ecuador, Jamil Mahuad; the bankers who caused the crisis of 1990, Roberto and William Isaías; and the ex-director of Ecuadorian army intelligence and US agent in Ecuador, Mario Pazmiño, are some of the Ecuadorians with criminal records whom the White House has granted refuge in recent years.

This information was revealed by Canadian journalist Jean-Guy Allard. In his article, Allard criticizes the morality of the US government, which expressed opposition to Edward Snowden receiving asylum in Ecuador while it “receives without the least scruple, and gives protection to, delinquents of Ecuadorian nationality.”

“The political and economic decisions taken by the Mahuad government generated, in addition to victims of savage repression, the flight of two million Ecuadorians into the exterior. Ecuadorian justice had already put out an arrest warrant for Mahuad in late 2011, in order that the embezzling ex-leader could be located and captured. A short time later, under US pressure, Interpol rejected Quito’s petition, which provoked protests in Ecuador, including from President Rafael Correa himself,” wrote Allard.

A few short weeks ago, a Florida judge, John Thornton, ruled in favor of the banker brothers, Roberto and William Isaías Dassum, owners of the failed Filanbanco corporation.

“The two delinquent financiers owed no less than $264 million to the people of Ecuador,” Allard added. The judge decided that the human rights of the two had been injured.

“This is a reality. There was an investigation, and they have a great many properties and investments in the United States, mainly in Miami, as they themselves stated; they now own a subsidiary of the CNN chain in Orlando, and in Tampa; they are opening a Latino channel in Miami; they have oil investments; they own a network of private schools; finally, they inaugurated intelligent buildings such as those in Coral Way,” said Ecuadorian lawyer Carlos Bravo on June 13, to the Andes news agency.

The Isaías brothers live in Cocoplum, the most exclusive neighborhood in Coral Gables, Florida, under the protection of the US government.

“Mario Raúl Pazmiño, ex-chief of Ecuadorian military intelligence, was expelled from the army for his collaboration with the CIA and his numerous ‘leaks’ of secret information to his US handlers, and for interfering with an operation against drug traffickers,” Allard continues.

“For years, Pazmiño, an ultra-right-wing militant, dedicated himself, along with several others of his ilk, to the so-called White Legion, a clandestine fascist group dedicated to attacking leftists. With help from the North,” Allard writes. “A traitor of the first order, Pazmiño informed his CIA chiefs during the bombardment of March 1, 2008, of a FARC camp in Angostura, in which 26 persons died, among them Raúl Reyes.”

“Granted asylum in the United States, Pazmiño never for a single instant stopped conspiring against the government of President Rafael Correa. Seven days before the attempted coup d’état in Ecuador, Pazmiño appeared as one of the leaders of a conspiratorial meeting in Miami, along with his parter, the torturer Gustavo Lemus. He was surrounded at the time by various Cuban counter-revolutionaries identified with terrorism, among them Carlos Alberto Montaner,” writes Allard.

Lemus, also in the US under CIA protection, is wanted in Ecuador for torture and accused of having covered up the murder of two teenagers when he was chief of the torturers in the Social Christian government of León Febres Cordero (1984-1988).

Again, translation mine.

So, it appears that there is a consistent pattern of stinking hypocrisy in the US as to who is a terrorist and who is a spy, and who is not. Edward Snowden ruined no economies, is not a torturer or an airplane bomber, killed no one and endangered no one’s life or security…yet he is wanted for “espionage” (on whose behalf, one wonders?) Meanwhile, all the slimiest scum of Latin America, which has a funny way of washing up on Florida’s shores, is living the sweet life there under federal protection…in spite of causing financial crises, perpetrating murder, torture, coups, and mayhem.

It just doesn’t get any further through the Looking Glass than that.

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.