El Narco’s dirty war

santos-uribe

If anyone ever had their doubts about El Narco Uribe’s capacity for treachery, get a load of the latest. It looks like his former second-in-command has turned on him…or is it the other way around?

The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, denounced the attack against him by the Democratic Centre, party of ex-president Álvaro Uribe, which has intensified during his campaign for re-election.

“That Democratic Centre, which at bottom is extremely right-wing, is turning to something I never imagined: some guys with black shirts trying to sabotage my campaign appearances,” said Santos in an interview with the BBC.

He emphasized that “that is a type of neo-Nazism, of neofascism, and all it causes is polarization and hate.”

Santos recalled that in recent legislative elections, “Uribe hoped to win 40% of the Congress. He got 12%.”

Santos said that with this result, Uribe “won’t have the capacity to block any law, not even to veto a policy. They’ll make noise, but it’s all right that they do so, that’s part of democracy. And that they express their opinions through democratic channels.”

Santos explained that along with actions against him during his campaign leading up to the elections on May 25, Uribe’s party are attacking the peace process underway with the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), in Havana, Cuba.

“They are trying to manipulate many sectors, and with lies. With false rumors. For example, they’re telling the military that they will be reduced to their most minimal expression. To the police, they’re saying that their pensions will be taken away and given to the guerrillas,” Santos denounced.

He added that “they’re waging a dirty war. And this is silencing people and doing harm.”

Translation mine.

“Neo-Nazi”. “Neofascist”. Those are quite the accusations to hurl against one’s own former colleague. Especially in ultra-conservative, ultra-murderous Colombia, where people have been killed for less. I wouldn’t do it unless I had an army of bodyguards, like Juan Manuel Santos has.

And I very much doubt that he’s doing so lightly. This is not just overblown campaign rhetoric; it’s a bald statement of fact. Uribe’s a dangerous fascist, with his own private army of paramilitaries and mercenaries. He has no qualms about sending them over the border to Venezuela to “assist” the fascists there in trying to topple the Maduro government. And he is secure in the knowledge that no one in Washington, the OAS, the IACHR, or any other body of international law will touch him. After all, he’s been acting with Washington’s blessing ever since his narcotrafficking days, when he was known as “El Doptor Varito”. That was when the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar Gavíria was still alive, and lending Alvarito his private helicoptor to tool around in. At the same time, he was known to the DEA as “Associate 82″. Escobar got killed, but Uribe escaped with his skin intact. Now what do you suppose the odds of that are, unless someone somewhere in the bowels of Washington had decided that Uribe was worth more to them living than dead, and told the DEA to lay off him?

So we can see that Uribe is operating as an untouchable, and there is nothing he won’t do, because there is nothing Washington will do to stop him. Including a dirty war in which literal blackshirts get sent out to sabotage Santos, his former successor and now prime rival, in any way they can. Including all manner of gruesome and quintessentially Colombian intimidation, no doubt.

Meanwhile, I have to say I’ve been watching Santos ever since he took over as president, and been pleasantly surprised by him. He’s been a good neighbor to Venezuela, playing nicely first with Chavecito and now Madurito. He’s been giving off all the right signs and signals, even engaging the FARC and ELN in good faith. The Havana peace talks are still on, despite numerous efforts at sabotage on the part of the far-right (and, no doubt, their Washington puppetmasters).

My only complaint about Santos is that he doesn’t lock Uribe and all his henchmen up, but that only goes to show that Uribe’s power goes a lot further than Colombia, and that he enjoys protection from outside the country. Enough that even the current president, who ought to have all the power at his disposal, and who could send in the troops on him at any time, is instead limited to denouncing him before the media. And no doubt hoping that things don’t get any worse. It’s enough that even dismal election results don’t seem to faze him. And that bodes worrisomely for democracy in Colombia, if indeed it exists there at all.

The ironies of the Venezuelan opposition, part 49

Remember this video? Remember how Ramón Muchacho, the mayor of Chacao, was all for the putsch just a few short weeks ago?

Well, that was then. This is now, and Ramoncito Muchachito is suddenly against what he used to be all for. And no less than the president of the land has made a very pointed note of it:

On his show, “in Contact With Maduro”, the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, revealed that the mayor of Chacao, Ramón Muchacho, sought the government’s help to solve the problem he created, and carry out the raids which took place early Monday morning in the municipality.

“There are the people of Chacao, suffering so much that mayor Ramón Muchacho made some puzzling political declarations. He’s been nominated for the Guinness world record for most confusing statements by a mayor in many years. He said he doesn’t understand why the people are protesting. But he promoted that,” said Maduro.

“I’m very worried about the families living in Chacao, who have been victims of their own mayor, who is irresponsible and belongs to these violent groups,” the president said.

[...]

Maduro recalled how in declarations recorded by the residents of Chacao, Muchacho stated that “It’s only a matter of weeks before the government falls”.

“We have had to go and resolve, by request of Ramón Muchacho, the problem he created, because the raids carried out today — Tuesday — were in collaboration with the Chacao Police and the Bolivarian National Police to protect the locals who want to live in peace,” added Maduro.

The minister of the Interior, Justice and Peace, Miguel Rodríguez Torres, explained that the capture of 9 vandals was possible thanks to an intelligence operation carried out over some 20 days, in which videos and recordings were seized that made the raids possible.

“We have advanced in terms of security” after detecting the presence of armed groups in the Santa Fe area in Baruta, in the state of Miranda, said the president.

In Chacao, authorities are still on the trail of 15 citizens. “They will go behind bars. Let them not think they can make a mockery of the law,” warned President Maduro.

Translation mine.

So yesterday’s raids must be more than a little embarrassing to the Muchacho in question. And more than a little funny to the Bolivarians, who at least get something to chuckle about, what with all this 180-degree opposition spinning and all.

More violent “protesters” arrested in Venezuela

rodriguez-torres

Well, well. Looks like Venezuela’s infamous guarimbas are about to be several persons lighter, if a certain highly effective justice minister has anything to say about it:

The Venezuelan minister of the Interior, Justice and Peace, Miguel Rodríguez Torres, informed that a man known as “El Chino” has been captured after paying five thousand bolivars a week to other persons who participated in “protests” in the Chacao sector of eastern Caracas.

Rodríguez Torres added that thanks to the work of the intelligence services, early this morning ten raids were carried out, and nine people were detained, “about whom there is sufficient proof to incriminate them in the organization of terrorist acts in Chacao.”

He added that “15 raids are still to come in the days ahead to close this chapter so that the people of Chacao can return to their habitual life.”

He stated that there is proof that during the violent demonstrations in Chacao, young people consumed “crispy”, or transgenic marijuana, which was distributed in order to “raise their spirits”.

Concerning the raids, Rodríguez stated that three were carried out in Chacao, one in Prados del Este, one in Propatria, one in Caricuao, and the rest in other zones of the capital.

“Not everyone who is there is from the municipality. Among the detained, there are lawyers and some business owners who gave material aid to the insurrections,” he added.

Translation mine.

Recall that I blogged some weeks ago about “young student” putschists receiving 5,000 bolivars a week to “protest”. Where did that money come from? Well, looks like we have a few answers. I don’t kid myself that they have anywhere near all of the culprits, mind you…but at least the denizens of one wealthy and ungrateful part of the capital city will at last be able — or forced? — to live normal lives again.

And I can’t help chuckling about the “crispy” marijuana. I guess that explains this:

miguelitos

Homemade spike belts…and munchies? What a combination!

The ironies of the Venezuelan opposition, part 48

oppo-peaceful-work

“Oh son, I’m so proud of your ‘peaceful work’!”

(Yes, I realize this is an old image. Unfortunately, WordPress’s latest update is one big nest of bugs, and one is that it doesn’t let me add new image files. Until they fix it, this will have to do. At least it fits the subject matter!)

Howdy, folks, and welcome to the latest installment of VenOpIronía, where we see how every bite the oppos try to take out of Madurito and his government…comes back to bite them:

Losses in the millions and damages done by violent “protests” to hundreds of small, medium and large-sized businesses on the Avenue Las Américas in the capital city of the western state of Mérida have caused a turnaround in the destabilizing discourse of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry there.

The organization’s leadership took a political position last February 25, releasing a communiqué in which they declared support for the “exit” which sectors of the far right promoted, intending to depose the majority-elected government of Nicolás Maduro through violence and terrorism.

However, in the last month and a half, groups of vandals have devastated the community and its merchants with the closure of the avenues, Las Américas and Los Próceres.

Marcos Delgado, president of the state Chamber of Commerce, informed that the preliminary estimates for merchants in the sector run into the millions.

“Definitively, calling for violence is calling for a civil war, and that is not the way for any country,” said Delgado, referring to the persistent calls to actions on the street on the part of spokespersons of the Voluntad Popular party.

Economic setbacks currently experienced by merchants on the avenue Las Américas, caused by roadblocks and vandalism still persisting on that main artery, have moderated the discourse of the chamber, such that it has warned of losses greatly in excess of five million bolivars a month.

“We must all recover peace in the city, political differences must be resolved in other ways, with other actions. Interrupting the free transit doesn’t seem to us an appropriate means of action, because it affects the merchants too greatly. Violent acts have led to nothing, only anarchy and destruction of public and private property,” said Delgado in an interview with the AVN news agency.

Delgado pointed out the case of the Garzón supermarket chain, a large food distributor whose flagship store on the avenue Las Américas, which employs 500 persons, as been closed since April 4 due to permanent siege and looting attempts, with monthly losses estimated at 4 million bolivars in wages and salaries alone.

Between February 17 and April 4, Garzón Supermarkets operated part-time, generating just 10% of its usual sales, due to the blockade of the avenue by violent groups.

According to Delgado, a return to normal operations and repair of the damage caused by looting to commercial infrastructure could take up to 90 days.

At present, violent groups have affected over 300 businesses and thousands of residents by way of what the Chamber of Commerce described in February as “peaceful protests by the glorious students and civil society”, according to the communiqué released at the time.

In the estimated 3 square kilometres surrounding the avenues of Las Américas and Los Próceres, at least eleven violent blockades have impeded free transit, curtailing the right to work, health, recreation, peace and education for thousands of Mérida’s people.

In the remainder of the state, the people maintain their normal rhythm of life, despite a scarcity of supplies and vehicular congestion generated by the closure of the two important arteries by violent groups.

Translation mine.

So we can see that not only are the violent uprisings by a very small group of well-to-do “students” (not all of whom are students, as we have seen) have not only failed to unseat Madurito and the other elected Bolivarians of his government, but they are also doing damage to the very entities that originally supported those “peaceful protests” (the majority of which are far from peaceful): namely, the business sector, the capitalists who would have been only too happy to have the bad old days of real shortages, real riots and real government crises back.

And how ironic is it that those who “peacefully” protested an alleged scarcity of goods and freedoms in the land have in fact CREATED that scarcity themselves? Isn’t it funny how those who have been paid thousands of bolivars weekly to generate violence are now costing their commercial supporters in the millions?

Most ironic of all is that these efforts have overwhelmingly failed to convince the poor, who voted for Madurito and Chavecito in the first place, that the socialist way of life is the way to more poverty. Instead, all it’s done is tear the last shreds of the “benevolent” mask off of capitalism and its local proponents, who are now left scrambling to restitch the scraps into something remotely convincing. While they may be able to whitewash their own cheerleading role in the catastrophe somewhat, I doubt they will ever get back the public’s trust, if they even had it to begin with.

Now those same sad clowns are going to come begging the government for more money to help them repair their premises and recoup their losses, because Uncle Sam’s multimillion-dollar budget for disruption, delivered through USAID, ironically doesn’t allow for things like this!

If only it all hadn’t left in excess of 40 dead, with more still to come, I’d be laughing so hard.

Another black eye for Maricori

maricori-black-eyes

No, Maricori hasn’t suffered any violence at the hands of anyone lately. If she had, she wouldn’t be able to see out of those eyes, much less glare like that. Nobody has laid a finger on her. This photo is not meant to be taken literally. She just got her second metaphorical black eye of the week, at the hands of a group of Europarliament deputies:

On Wednesday, several Euro-deputies denounced in an open letter the “lobby” against the government of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro, which according to them is being brought by opposition member María Corina Machado in the Europarliament.

“We denounce before international public opinion the intent being carried out these days of seeking support in the European Parliament for putschist manoeuvres against the legitimate, democratic government of Venezuela”, state the signatories of the letter.

They are the Spanish Euro-deputies Vicente Garcés, Dolores García Hierro and Andrés Perelló, all of the PSOE, and Willy Meyer of the IU, as well as Italian liberal Gianni Vattimo.

Machado and the director of the TV news channel NTN25, Claudia Gurusatti, appeared this week before the External Affairs Commission of the European Parliament, and met with representatives of various parliamentary groups.

According to the signatories, “the European right-wing is using the Parliament to take positions which violate the efforts toward peaceful national dialogue, made by the government of Venezuela and the regional institutions of Latin America.”

They state that Machado “supported the failed coup d’état against president Hugo Chávez in 2002″.

The Venezuelan opposition member asked the Europarliament to send a delegation of deputies to her country to “see firsthand the repression of the Maduro government”.

Translation mine.

So it’s not just Willy Meyer now, but several others…and not only from Spain, but Italy as well.

At this rate, Maricori shouldn’t be too surprised when the Europarliament decides to do what the OAS did when she pretended to represent Panama, and ignore her blatant, and increasingly clownish, media show.

The ironies of the Venezuelan opposition, part 47

ven-tupamaros

Actual Venezuelan Tupamaros, above, aren’t afraid to display their colors and logos and flags. This is in stark contrast to their ideological opponents, whose name isn’t the only thing ironic about them:

Ismael León, the national director of the opposition party “Voluntad Popular” (“Popular Will”, VP), presented a series of photographs, purportedly about the Revolutionary Tupamaro Movement (MRT), accusing them of being an armed party.

The national directorate of the MRT denied it via their Twitter account, @TupamaroMRT, in which they assured that the photographs published by León were not of members of the Tupamaro party.

On VP’s Twitter account, they claimed that the armed persons seen in the photographs are from the MRT, stating that the subjects are wearing hoods with colors alluding to the pro-government organization.

The VP directorate claims that their own party was born of social actions, while that of the MRT was born of weapons. One thing that the persons who know of the social activities of the Tupamaros might want to question, since the MRT party is characterized by a struggle to make the most impoverished communities visible through cultural, social and political activities.

Translation mine.

Obviously, Voluntad Popular represents nothing near half of the popular will, since the Bolivarian parties (supporting Nicolás Maduro) got more than half the vote in the last presidential and municipal elections. So there’s one irony.

The other? The fact that VP actually has its origins in armed putschism. Leopoldo López, its official leader, is currently in jail for that. It is most certainly NOT a party of social actions, unless by “social action”, you mean strategic bribery around election time. And terrorism after your party invariably loses. In which case, yeah, they’re a party of social action, all right.

But back to the MRT, the Tupamaros of Venezuela. These should not be confused with the Uruguayan guerrillas of the same name, who DID wage an armed struggle…way back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were rounded up, jailed and tortured by the US-complicit government of the day. The movement ceased its activities long after, with members either imprisoned, gone to ground, or having fled the land. Today, one former Uruguayan Tupamaro is president: Pepe Mujica, himself a prisoner back in the bad old days. But the Tupamaros as an armed urban guerrilla movement are no more in Uruguay, and in Venezuela, the group named after them is not an armed guerrilla movement either…even though their enemies would love to paint them as such:

jose-bombace-tweet

José Ignacio Bombace tweets back at the VP liars:

“@VoluntadPopular That photo is NOT of the @TupamaroMRT. Here’s the link to the page they took it from…”

And the official Tupamaro tweeter sez:

tupamaro-tweet

“Origin of the photos. Neither our colors nor our logos in them. @VoluntadPopular [are] desperate clowns.”

tupamaro-tweet2

“@VoluntadPopular Wrong again! Here’s the link…and the photo.”

So there you go. For a bunch that are trying so desperately to tweet out the “truth” about Venezuela (note the quotes, there for a reason), the party of un-Popular Will sure has to resort to an awful lot of bullshit.

PS: And for added hilarity at the oppos’ expense, here’s a Google translation of a recent screed by Benito Mussolini’s great-granddaughter in defence of the poor widdle dears, saying they just want a better life, an education, food, etc. Yup, nothing says democratic credibility quite like a fascist scion, defending other fascist scions by claiming they’re not fascists, they’re just hungry! (Which, of course, is not true either. Ruffles chips are too expensive for poorer Venezuelans to afford, after all.)

Maricori’s European flop

That’s Euro-deputy Willi Meyer, talking to Telesur about the latest unwelcome incursions of a certain crappy politico from Venezuela. Not content with her epic fail in Panama’s seat at the OAS, and her pitiful attempt to get back into her former parliamentary seat in Caracas, Maricori has found a new outlet for her increasingly desperate frustrations:

Willy Meyer, the vice-president of the External Affairs Commission of the European Parliament, rejected yesterday’s visit by Venezuelan ex-deputy María Corina Machado, which was part of her agenda to discredit the government of Nicolás Maduro and promote foreign interference in Venezuela.

Meyer lamented that space had been given in this instance to Machado, whom he characterized “as having taken a putschist step and who is always inspiring violence, instead of promoting a poltical dialogue.”

“It is inadmissible to use the Parliament and the External Affairs Commission to give a platform to putschists, who incite violence,” Meyer said.

In an interview with Telesur, Meyer called Machado’s speech a media circus, and questioned to commission for permitting the ex-deputy to participate in the European Parliament.

Meyer also denounced that with this tour of Europe, María Machado is seeking support from the right-wing and the “troika” formed by the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Community.

Translation mine.

So Maricori hasn’t yet given up trying to convert Venezuela back to the imperial system, and she’s going straight back to the imperial roots in Europe to try to drum up support for her failing efforts. On the bright side, she’s had no success in the Americas, beyond Washington and Miami (and, shamefully, Panama); everyone else has been shutting their doors and plugging their ears the moment they saw her long face coming.

No word on how the Troika received her. Probably they’re too embarrassed to talk about it; I would be, in their collective shoes.

A metaphor for the entire Venezuelan opposition

Watch what happens when a bunch of peaceful student demonstrators try to launch the Illudium Q-36 Space Modulatorrrrr by human slingshot:

“Where’s the kaboom? There’s supposed to be an Earth-shattering KABOOM!”

And so there is…but it isn’t where they intended it to be. Ha, ha.

“Cuban Twitter” is an epic fail

You can’t log on to ZunZuneo anymore; the social network with the hummingbird logo (and the onomatopoeic name referencing its hum) is now an ex-parrot. Can you believe, though, that the US State Dept., working through its USAID arm, tried to position it as a “Cuban Twitter”, an alternative that would eventually foment a counter-revolution?

Yeah, that went well.

AMY GOODMAN: Peter Kornbluh, you met with Alan Gross. He has been in prison in Cuba for, what, now I think he’s in his fourth year of prison. This is back in 2010, about the time that this program was starting, and he was arrested by the Cuban authorities for setting up a satellite communications network in Cuba as part of USAID’s Cuba Democracy and Contingency Planning Program. Is there a link?

PETER KORNBLUH: Yes. This is all part of a broader USAID effort to use the Internet, to use modern social media communication systems, to both network Cubans and then have an independent communications vehicle to Cubans on the island through which messages can be sent when unrest occurs, both to spur unrest and then to basically be able to communicate with leaders of the opposition to the Cuban government. And Alan Gross’s project was very similar, although it was—it had a different technological dynamic than the Twitter account, but it was the same idea: You create a network, you build a base of independent communications, and then later you can have people use those communications and receive communications from the United States in a way that gets around the controls of the Cuban government.

Alan Gross was arrested in December of 2009. I believe that this program probably was in the works, this Twitter program, all throughout 2009 also and may well have derived from the very end of the Bush administration. The Bush administration really wanted to help the Republican Party and help Jeb Bush in Florida, eventually, by pushing forward with covert operations and pro-democracy operations, and they started throwing even more money at USAID to do this. But one of the elements that we’ve learned here is that even after Alan Gross was arrested and Congress began to very forcefully scrutinize these types of surreptitious, certainly clearly covert operations being run out of USAID, USAID did not stop them. They continued and escalated this very Twitter-like program that we’re now learning about.

I think it’s very important, though, Amy, that we recognize one thing. Like the Alan Gross gambit, this Twitter operation failed miserably. It was a waste of money in the end, and now, with the revelations of it, are hurtful to the effort to kind of rebuild a U.S.-Cuban relationship, solve the problem of Alan Gross in prison in Cuba and the three Cuban spies that are still in prison in the United States, and get on with a relationship with Cuba that is a modern relationship that meets the national interests of the United States of America. And these regime change programs are only hurtful to those national interests.

Meanwhile, it’s not like the government of Cuba was unaware of what was really going on:

The denunciations of Cuban president Raúl Castro over the destabilizing efforts of the government of the United States against Cuba were corroborated with the revelation on Thursday of a plan to push Cuban youth toward counterrevolution, with participation of a US agency.

Washington planned the creation of a “Cuban Twitter” to undermine the authorities on the island, promoted by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), with shell corporations constituted in secret and financing from foreign banks.

The Associated Press (AP) stated on April 3 that it had access to over a thousand documents over the communications network ZunZuneo, whose proposition was to make itself popular with Cuban youth and later “push them toward dissidency”.

The AP stated that users never knew that the project was created by an agency of the US State Department, nor that US contractors were gathering personal data on them with the hope that the information could be used toward political ends.

On January 1, on the 55th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, president Raúl Castro denounced “attempts to subtly introduce platforms of neoliberal thinking and the restoration of neocolonial capitalism” in Cuba.

“They tried deceptively to sell to the youngest people the supposed advantages of disregarding ideologies and social conscience, as if those precepts did not precisely represent the interests of the dominant class in the capitalist world,” said the head of state in the southeastern city of Santiago de Cuba.

He then emphasized that with such efforts, they were trying “to introduce a rupture in the historic direction of the Revolution and the new generations, and promote uncertainty and pessimism about the future, all of that with the marked intent of dismantling from within the socialism in Cuba.”

Translation mine.

So you can see that the Brothers Castro have been watching this situation and keeping their people vigilant. I bet they feel vindicated by its failure, as they should. Cubans on the island neither want nor need a “Cuban Twitter”; the government isn’t barring them from using the real thing. How do I know? Because I’m following several Cuban tweeters myself. They can and do communicate freely with the outside world. The only real thing standing in the way of Cuban internauts is the lack of a budget for that, but that’s already changing; as part of the ALBA, Cuba is collaborating with Venezuela to improve Internet access for its citizens. Undersea cables are already being built, connecting Cuba with South America. ALBA will also help improve Internet service within the island itself.

So there’s really no place for USAID in all this, and they’ve blown a big wad of cash for nothing, on people who have no cause to sympathize (and who are constantly being informed by their own government and media as to why THAT is). Good job, State Dept., good job. When do you plan on removing that silly blockade, which is the only real barrier to normal relations between the US and Cuba? Because until you do that, all these propaganda campaigns are going to fizzle just like ZunZuneo.

BTW, the Democracy Now headline is a bit beside the mark. No, USAID is not the “new CIA”. It’s not a new agency at all. And it’s been working hand in glove with the CIA’s spooks for a very long time, as my translation of Raúl Capote’s interview shows. He, too, was a selected “beneficiary” of that big-budget “democracy promotion” shell game, at least until he blew the whistle and got the spooks and “aid” functionaries edged out of what he and his fellow Cubans worked so hard to build. That, too, is an object lesson in how not to win friends and influence people in Cuba!

Maricori — denied!

The other day I promised to post photos of María Corina Machado being barred from the National Assembly, where she was stripped of her parliamentary seat after suddenly turning up as an ambassador for Panama to the OAS, in contravention of at least two articles of the Venezuelan constitution. Well, here they are, and here she is:

maricori-barred

It didn’t matter what flag she wrapped herself in, security was not about to let Maricori through that door. They had already been alerted in advance to her little plan for a parliamentary putsch. This was as far as she got. There was no choice for Maricori but to leave…

maricori-mototaxi

…on the back of a mototaxi. (Note the antifascist, pro-revolutionary slogan painted on the divider; irony at its finest!) She didn’t seem at all comfortable about hanging on to the driver, even though safety would indicate that it’s a good idea to do so. Maybe because he was kind of brown and working-class, and thus, not her kind of people? Maybe. In any case, Maricori’s little show of being a Woman of the People is another epic fail in a long, long series of pitiful oligarchic media shows.

One wonders why any of them still bother.