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!

Did Washington try to prevent Bolivia from launching a satellite?

tksat-launch.jpg

A Chinese rocket carries the Bolivian satellite, Tupac Katari, into space. And without the help of the Chinese, it’s hard to imagine Bolivia ever getting such a thing off the ground. But they did, and the fact that they did is no thanks to the usual suspects…who, as is their wont, seem to have interfered even here, if what Evo says is true:

Evo Morales announced that he would reveal a “secret” that he “had kept for a long time” in order to put a stop to the “blackmail” by the United States of other countries when it comes to transference of technology.

Morales explained that during the construction of the satellite “Tupac Katari”, China informed Bolivia that, despite signed agreements for technological co-operation with the United States, the US had refused to supply the necessary components for the communications satellite.

“They told us that the US did not want to sell or transfer technology to Bolivia, so we (referring to himself and vice-president Álvaro García Linera) asked ourselves: Now what are we going to do?” Morales said, according to the Bolivian newspaper La Razón.

The Bolivian leader says they decided to take the problem to China, where Tupac Katari was being built. “We told them that they had to give it to us because there was a commitment, but what confidence could Bolivia have in China?

“I don’t know what agreements China has with the United States, but they informed us that they had not completed our communications satellite with US technology, but with French,” Morales concluded.

Morales considers that Washington must be boycotting La Paz, because “if the satellite had been for Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia or other countries, there would not have been any US veto” on selling the technology.

The Bolivian government has already begun designing a project to build a prospecting satellite for natural resources, and has planned to launch a second one for communications, following the success of last December’s launch of Tupac Katari, according to an official source today.

Speaking to the EFE press agency, Iván Zambrana, the director of the Bolivian Space Agency (ABE), emphasized that the Tupac Katari satellite project has been both a commercial and a technical success.

He noted that the launch was “near-perfect” and that later tests demonstrated that the satellite had reached “100 percent of its capacities in orbit and is functioning according to the specifications of its design.”

As for its commercial side, Zambrana noted that its success is “greater” than initially expected, since it was calculated that in the first year it would take up a third of the satellite, but is now using “almost half”.

“This indicates to us that it will reach full capacity in maybe two or three years, and we have to think of a second communications satellite, alongside the project of an observation satellite which is already planned for this year,” said the ABE director.

He added that the project is expected to be completed “on paper” by the end of this year, so that next year negotiations can begin to get the second Bolivian satellite plan off the ground.

Bolivian authorities want the new satellite to be used for natural-resources exploration. It will be operated by the ABE and the data generated will be turned over to those specialized in processing them.

According to Zambrana, it is expected that construction will begin in 2016 or early 207, with an eye to putting it in orbit within three or four years.

As the project is still in the design phase, there is no cost estimate as yet, but ABE figures that it will be “less than 100 million US dollars.” The Tupac Katari (TKSAT-1) project cost $300 million.

Nor has it yet been decided which country will be in charge of building the satellite, since “there are not many” who have the capacity to build such devices.

“Obviously China is already a partner we have had, and with whom things have gone very well for us, but there are also countries such as France and Russia who traditionally have a great space culture, and even the United States,” said Zambrana.

At the moment, the Tupac Katari satellite has contracted its services to the state-run Bolivian Telecommunications Company (ENTEL), and Bolivia TV, and the private telephone company Viva. There are also negotiations with ten other entities, among them TV channels, oil companies, and state organisms, all interested in using the services of TKSAT-1.

Translation mine.

What? The US is conspiring to keep South American countries poor and backward, the better to trick, blackmail and exploit them? I’m shocked. SHOCKED, I tell you!

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.

Yoani Sánchez and the ZunZuneo scandal

yoani-dinero

So, you thought that Yoani Sánchez and her “popular” anti-Castro blog were all that and a bag of Doritos, did you? Well, you may want to think again. Because there is a connection between her and the dearly defunct ex-parrot that is ZunZuneo, and a real Cuban blogger, Norelys Morales Aguilera, has laid it out for us:

While US vice-president Joe Biden was talking about his meeting with his country’s Cuban-born blogger, Yoani Sánchez, the Associated Press (AP) was revealing the scandal of how the US government created a communications network designed to undermine the government of Cuba, using shell companies constituted in secret and financed by way of transactions with foreign banks, and in which the US Agency for International Development (USAID) participated: a “Cuban Twitter” called ZunZuneo.

CNN and other sites claimed that the meeting was to discuss topics related to freedom of expression on the Caribbean island, according to Biden’s official Twitter account. With the picturesque mystery that accompanies the US blogger, no details of the meeting have been revealed. A representative of the White House, in an e-mail to HuffPost Voices, stated that “I can only confirm that the Vice-President met with Yoani Sánchez, but beyond that information, there are no additional details.”

The links between Yoani and the Washington-designed network have collapsed under their own weight. The AP report did not mention by name whom Washington had assigned the task of interpreting the “buzz” of this illegal interference operation which as cost several million dollars of taxpayers’ money, which the Miami “Duende” immediately made vanish.

The blogger has always denied any relationship between herself and the US government, or its interests section on the island, but a cable from their diplomatic seat in Havana, on November 27, 2006, spoke of a meeting in the home of a US diplomat with young Cubans, to watch and discuss a documentary about the fall of [former Serbian leader Slobodan] Milosevic and the OTPOR movement. And on top of that, in 2011, information came to light of meetings with the then US interests chief Michael Parmly, although Obama never met with the blogger.

So we know that Yoani was more of a cyber-saboteur than a journalist, as is also demonstrated by her many travels and her lack of the journalistic rigor needed to tell true stories.

One would lack the most elementary logic if one denied the role of the made-in-USA blogger when the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives designed the plan to promote “democratic change in Cuba” in 2009, using text messaging to send political messages and call for massive demonstrations at short notice, or “flash mobs”.

[...]

An analysis of the data of Yoani’s Twitter account, @yoanisanchez, by the website Followerwonk.com, revealed an impressive amount activity in the account from 2010 onwards. Starting in June 2010, Sánchez was attracting over 200 Twitter followers a day, sometimes as many as 700 a day.

By the same means, it was discovered that some 50,000 followers of Sánchez were in fact fake or inactive accounts, to create the illusion that she enjoyed great popularity in the social networks. In fact, of the 214,063 followers of her account in 2012, 27,000 are “eggs” (no photo), and 20,000 have the characteristics of fake accounts with no activity (0-3 messages as of the account’s creation).

Of the fake followers of Yoani Sánchez at that time, 3,363 had no followers, and 2,897 only followed Sánchez. Some accounts had very strange characteristics: no followers, only Yoani Sánchez and yet they had sent more than 2,000 messages.

This operation, intended to create a fictitious popularity on Twitter, is impossible to perform without Internet access, which Sánchez swore up and down that she did not have. It also requires technical support, as well as a considerable budget. According to an investigation by the Mexican daily newspaper La Jornada, “They paid up to $2000 for an army of 25,000 fake followers, and for 500 profiles, managed by 50 persons, it would have cost between $12,000 and $15,000.”

Translation mine.

And that’s not even getting into the vast budget it must have taken for Yoani’s blog to be translated, by human hands, into over a dozen different languages. Or the fact that it’s on dedicated servers in a country that is most certainly not Cuba. Machetera has all the details, so if you’re wondering, clicky through and happy reading.

Meanwhile, here’s CubaInformación’s take on the whole scandal:

US vice-president Joe Biden picked a bad moment to meet with his Cuban collaborator, blogger Yoani Sánchez. Almost at the moment the Zunzuneo scandal broke: a social network for sharing messages with cellphones on the island which was created by the US government to provoke social revolts in Cuba after the fashion of the “Arab Spring”.

As one can read in the journalistic investigation by the AP news agency, “strategic documents…show that Yoani Sánchez was one of the personalitites” who used the ZunZuneo messaging platform to transmit their microblog on Twitter.

To be sure, Yoani Sánchez — so critical of the supposed lack of transparency on the part of the Cuban government — refused to respond to the questions of the reporters who published said investigation.

Let’s recall what ZunZuneo is: In 2009, the so-called Office of Transition Initiatives, of USAID (the US Agency for International Development) designed a messaging network for Cuban mobile devices as part of its strategy for “democratic change in Cuba”. It functioned until 2012, when the funding ran out. There were thousands of messages, aimed at young people, about sports or fashion, meant to create a loyal public at whom the second phase would later be directed: that of political messages and calls to join protests against the government.

The assignment of a million dollars to this Washington program concided with the explosion of popularity of the twitter account of blogger Yoani Sánchez. At that time, Sánchez — supposedly from a slow connection from Cuba — managed to snag up to 700 different Twitter accounts a day, and tens of thousands of followers who — later — were found to be fake. Evidently, this strategy for artificial popularity has a structure with a whole lot of money behind it.

Riddle me this: if Washington had dedicated $200 million to similar anti-Cuba propaganda campaigns from 1997 to 2011, and ZunZuneo cost only $1 million, where did the other $199 million go?

Translation mine.

‘Tis a pertinent question, no?

Finally, a little bonus, and this one comes with an ironic punchline:

Cuba plans to open social networks of its own to counteract the actions of platforms such as ZunZuneo, created by the US government, according to an announcement from a functionary of the island.

“Our idea is that no one has to an invent a service for our users,” but “that the enterprise can put in place all possible services to prevent that these things occur,” said Daniel Ramos, the head of the department of Security for the state telecommunications company ETECSA.

ETECSA has “a very broad plan” to offer different types of services, added Ramos during a press conference.

[...]

Ramos affirmed that ZunZuneo, like another similar network called Piramideo, which remains active, “was created to attack Cuban networks,” and said that ETECSA will investigate “the way and form used” by those platforms to access databases of ETECSA clients.

“ETECSA condemns the use of illicit telecommunications against its networks and users,” said Ramos, adding that “all these manifestations generate an over-use of the capacities of the Cuban cellular network”, which “harms the quality of service.”

Cuba has demanded that the United States “cease its illegal and covert actions” against the island, in response to the revelations over ZunZuneo.

Translation, again, mine.

So, there you go. Now there’s gonna be a Cuban Twitter for real. And Cuba will be improving and expanding its own Internet services to accommodate it, so there will no longer be any service crashes due to overloading by outside meddlers.

Bet no one in Washington saw THAT coming!

ZunZuneo: the scandal widens

zunzuneo

If the CIA and USAID thought that their bastard offspring, ZunZuneo, the failed “Cuban Twitter”, was going to be just a brief blip on the radar, they can think again. The scandal just widened to two more countries.

First up, Costa Rica:

The Costa Rican newspaper, La Nación, confirmed that the leader of the ZunZuneo operation, an illegal network financed by the US government against Cuba, was Joseph “Joe” Duke McSpedon, and had a base of sorts in the nation without the authorities knowing about the project.

McSpedon was accredited in San José while working for USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, a division created after the fall of the Soviet Union to defend US interests in political surroundings which were changing quickly without having to deal with the usual bureaucracy.

The project was planned and the launch of the network was managed in Costa Rica, said the newspaper.

Immigration registries obtained by La Nación showed that McSpedon came to Costa Rica on 42 occasions between 2009 and 2011, on commercial and private flights.

There were also two more people working on the project in San José, contracted by Creative Associates, a Washington consulting firm.

They are Noy Villalobos Echeverría, who stayed in Costa Rica for periods of up to three months, according to immigration documents, and his brother, Mario Bernheim Echeverría, a young programmer who developed the system for sending mass messages to Cuba.

The team in charge of the project began to operate in 2009 from a secret office in San José, according to AP. However, according to La Nación, USAID has had no official representation in Costa Rica since 1996.

The president’s office of Costa Rica called the clandestine USAID operation to provoke social discontent in Cuba a “grave affront” to the land.

“It is necessary to investigate the case, it’s very grave. If it’s true, it’s a grave affront to Costa Rica. It’s a job for the Foreign Ministry. But of course we have to ask for an explanation,” said the minister of Communication, Carlos Roverssi, to La Nación.

The US diplomatic mission in San José refused to talk of the matter and only gave out the official communiqué from USAID, in which it admits its participation in the development of the ZunZuneo social network.

The secret office functioned separately from the US embassy. “It was an unusual operation which raised eyebrows in Washington,” reported AP.

Consulted by the Costa Rican daily, analyst Carlos Murillo opined that the government must solicit information from the United States “to determine if there was any violation in the activities which were realized by the project in the country.”

Translation mine.

And that’s not the only place that these three “amigos” from USAID have cropped up in Central America. They’re also well known in Nicaragua:

An employee of the US embassy in Managua participated in the network of anti-Cuba subversion known as ZunZuneo, while Nicaraguan intelligence was mocked, along with TELCOR, the telecommunications regulator of the land, according to local media.

According to the press offices, Mario Bernheim Echeverría, one of the principal programmers of ZunZuneo, was subcontracted by his brother, Noy Villalobos Echeverría, manager of Creative Associates International, under the auspices of USAID.

The daily newspaper, La Prensa de Nicaragua, stated that “it is known that Bernheim currently works for USAID Nicaragua; however; this has not been denied, nor confirmed by this office of co-operation.

La Prensa obtained the information that this systems programmer was a new employee in the US embassy, for which reason we contacted the embassy spokesman in Managua, Thomas Hamm, but we were directed straight to voice mail,” added the daily.

Joe McSpedon, a US government functionary, met in 2010 with a team of high-tech specialists — Bernheim Echeverría among them — to create this social network intended to undermine the government of Cuba.

Bernheim’s job was to create a text-messaging network for cellphones, which could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans, with the purpose of inspiring an uprising on the island.

The Nicaraguan brothers, Mario Bernheim Echeverriía and Noy Villalobos Echeverría, were fingered in an AP investigation, which would uncover this covert US government operation, as being the creators of the network, which mocked the control of Nicaraguan authorities.

One of the network’s bases of operation was in Managua, another in San José (Costa Rica) and one other, the USAID head office in Washington, according to the AP, declared its satisfaction in the way the network operated. It failed to achieve its objectives, but it functioned without Nicaragua’s government knowing what was going on.

According to the Nicaraguan newspaper La Trinchera, the Nicaraguan telecommunications regulatory body, TELCOR, “did not have the means to monitor an operation so sophisticated, leading one to think that the Nicaraguan state doesn’t have the ability to provide security to the country against information crimes.”

Translation mine.

Well, it seems that at the very least, the Nicaraguan government COULD take action against the Brothers Echeverría, since they are Nicaraguan citizens. Assuming, that is, that Washington won’t be supplying them with airline tickets to Miami, and expedited US citizenship. After all, Latin American scumbags, spooks and terrorists all have a funny way of falling up if they work for Washington…

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.

The ironies of the Venezuelan opposition, part 46

oppo-fancy-tent

“Come on out, stupid, Marcelo and the boys are here, showing off the tent we brought from Monaco. We’ve already ordered sushi and later we’re going out partying but we’re coming back to go on protesting too much!” #OccupyVenezuela? Hardly. Try a bad glamping trip. #fail

Up here in the northern hemisphere, people tend to take to the streets when the rich get too greedy and leave nothing to the rest of us. A few windows get broken, the cops round the protesters up and arrest them, and everything goes back to “normal” within a day or two. And, as Bruce Cockburn memorably sang, the trouble with “normal” is it always gets worse.

Well, in Venezuela, something very different happens. The trouble with “normal” there, is that it always gets better, and some who are already very well off don’t like that, so they organize some little “protests” of their own. Here are the youngsters from VTV’s Zurda Konducta, explaining how it goes…with a little help from two oppos making a rather revealing phone call:

For those who don’t know Spanish, here’s the basic gist:

Two “youth leaders” of the right-wing party Voluntad Popular (Popular Will, headed by Leopoldo López, currently in jail for criminal instigation), Israel Hernández and Javier González, are talking about how to get more kiddies into the street to protest the evils of Maduro & Co. Their method? Cash “incentives”.

Yes, that’s right. They get PAID to “protest”, illegally block roads (with tents!), and smash things in Venezuela! But only if you’re a rich right wing spoiled brat who’s already being handed everything in life on a silver plate. If you were poor and you tried this in a “middle-class” (translation: slightly less than filthy stinking rich, but only slightly) neighborhood, you’d get clobbered to death.

Marco Rubio’s dunderheaded lies

miraflores-guards

This photo of three Bolivarian National Guard soldiers was actually taken by AFP photographer Juan Barreto on November 19 of last year, while they were on duty guarding Miraflores Palace from the roof. This is a perfectly normal part of their job, and it’s hardly limited to Venezuela. The White House also has guards stationed on its roof at all times. But to hear a certain famously dimwitted US senator tell it, these three were somehow transmuted into undercover snipers in Táchira, far to the west of the capital, during the opposition riots this spring. And that’s just one of a whole pack of lies:

Um, Marco? You’d have to be a truly special kind of fool to believe that, because if they were undercover snipers, (a) you wouldn’t be able to see them at all onaccounta they’d be hiding, and (b) they wouldn’t be wearing a National Guard armband in plain sight, either.

And that’s not all the stoopid, either. Here’s a detailed list of the things Marco got so dreadfully wrong:

Marco Rubio, Republican senator for Florida, asked the US Congress on Thursday to sanction the government of Nicolás Maduro, alleging that in Venezuela there is repression and violation of human rights, in another attempt to damage the sovereignty of the land of Bolívar as hegemonic strategy of the US. CNN showed him saying “We are being threatened from our own backyard” and “What good is the OAS to us?” The video shows him proposing that the US not put any more taxpayer money toward the financing of the inter-American organism which, it seems, now does little to serve imperial interests.

Iguana TV took apart one by one the manipulations with which this senator tried to back up his arguments on two opportunities. Many of his phrases are part of the template which the far-right has tried to impose upon international opinion, while many other imprecise data give evidence of a poor investigation or one intentionally manipulated, and, finally, presents images out of context.

Manipulation #1: Leopoldo López in an armored car, “last week” (it was February 18, 5 weeks ago). Rubio pointed out that López was transported in an armored car but did not explain that this man — currently housed in the military penitentiary of Ramo Verde as of February 18 — was transferred in an armored vehicle of the National Guard because they were protecting the ultra-right-wing leader’s life. He had been threatened with death by his own opposition party — interested in generating chaos in the land — as recognized by his own wife, Lilian Tintori, as well as his father.

Manipulation #2: Rubio says that Leopoldo was detained “for protesting against the government”. López had been sought by the Prosecutor General of the Republic for criminal offences (public instigation, damage to property, intellectual author of a crime of arson, and associating to commit crime), after his irresponsible call for people to take to the streets to demand “the exit” of the democratically elected government of Nicolás Maduro.

Manipulation #3: The government of Venezuela are “Cuban puppets” because they give “free oil” so Cuban officials come to repress. This is another falsehood which, with no proof whatsoever, is cited by protesters every day. Mmost of these are persons of middle and upper-middle class from the four most populous cities of the land, trying to insult the Bolivarian National Guard of Venezuela by saying that they are Cubans. On the one hand, this shows xenophobia toward a brother people, and on the other, ignorance of the laws which do not permit that foreigners form part of Venezuela’s police or military bodies. But more importantly, they fail to realize that the overwhelming majority of those who choose to join the police or the National Guard are of humble origins, coming from working-class and poor barrios, small villages, or other humble parts of the land, in search of employment opportunities to feed their families.

Manipulation #4: The Republican senator claims that Génesis Carmona was assassinated by the national government and “civilian groups which they armed, another exportation of the Cuban model”. According to ballistics investigations, the 23-year-old model, Génesis Carmona, who was crowned as Miss Tourism, died of a bullet wound in the back which came from the opposition demonstration in which she marched in Carabobo.

Manipulation #5: Bassil DaCosta “passed away on February 11″. Another of Senator Rubio’s imprecisions is the image which shows the transfer of Bassil DaCosta — a student killed by a bullet wound — which according to the senator occurred on February 11, when in fact the international media know that this took place on February 12, the day the right-wing vandalism began. Also, it bears noting that the national government has shown every sign of seeking the truth, and guaranteeing justice in any case of human rights violation and supposed “repression”. What took place in the Caracas sector of La Candelaria on February 12 has been diligently investigated and there are persons in custody at this time. In fact, due to the terrible events in La Candelaria, President Maduro declared that the functionaries of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) who were present had disobeyed an order to stand down and that they are now detained, as of February 24, at the orders of the Public Ministry and the prosecutor’s office. Five functionaries of the SEBIN are under arrest for their presumed links to the deaths of Bassil DaCosta and Juan Montoya, which occurred on February 12 in La Candelaria. So Senator Rubio’s “investigation” has only shown a small part of the information, failing to recognize the judicial processes under way in Venezuela.

Manipulation #6: The senator claims that in Venezuela, “Twitter and Facebook were cut”. When in fact, day after day, the social networks are among the most-used means of communication in Venezuela, this right-wing media template claiming the “blocking” of these media sources on the part of the government is so ridiculous that you can draw your own conclusions. We will only emphasize that for the guarimberos themselves, Twitter, Zello, and Facebook are tools for going up against anti-imperialist governments like those of Venezuela, China, Russia, and others. And that just for that, Twitter took down 60 pages linked to the Bolivarian government and later declared it an “error”. Later, Rubio even contradicted himself: “I’ve sent tweets on all these topics which have been retweeted thousands of times by students.”

Manipulation #7: He also said that Venzuela had “run out CNN”. Not only has CNN not been kicked out of Venezuela, but it goes right on working its media terrorism. Members of the Bolivarian government have attended interviews with this channel in order to show what is really going on in the country. As well, president Nicolás Maduro accepted an interview request from the right-wing channel, as did governor Tareck el-Aissami via Skype, and also foreign minister Elías Jaua. However, it is known that CNN edited the interviews and omitted important parts of them which did not fit into the manipulative template of the US empire’s far-right lackeys. Also, right-wing representatives have been interviewed in full by journalists such as Cala: Lilian Tintori, wife of Leopoldo López; Cecilia Arocha, rector of the Central University of Venezuela, and others.

Manipulation #8: “Before that, they closed down all the independent media who criticized the government.” El Nacional, El Universal, Últimas Notícias, all are print media which not only criticize the government every day, but customarily present manipulated images and show only one side of the story. Venevisión, Televen, and Globovisión are television stations of the right, which criticize the national government with well-known programs where artists and journalists of the opposition express their opinions, such as “ChataingTV”, and “Shirley”. As well, many digital media who play a part in the media war are still at work. None of them have been closed.

Manipulation #9: With manipulated, anachronistic and decontextualized images, Rubio claims: “The Ministry of the Interior of Venezuela authorized snipers to go to Táchira, to shoot at demonstrators.” A tweeter, @Larissacostas, denounced that Rubio “used forged images in his delirium against Venezuela”, and explained that “Senator Marco Rubio lies when he shows photos claiming they were taken in Táchira, but one one of them is old, and another was taken on the roof of a military building called the General Aviation Command, located on a Caracas air base.”

Manipulation #10: The case of Marvinia Jiménez. The senator showed photo in which you can see a National Guard officer committing an assault, but he did not inform that this woman is now in prison. The Attorney General herself, Luisa Ortega Díaz, announced the detention of Josneidy Castillo, who assaulted Marvinia Jiménez in La Isabelica, Valencia.

Manipulation #11: “The government response has been repression.” Let’s recall two important points here: (a) A large minority of Venezuelans has taken part in violent actions called guarimbas to “oust” the government in upper-middle-class zones where the opposition “governs” — Daniel Ceballos, mayor of San Cristóbal, Táchira; Gustavo Marcano, of Diego Bautista Urbaneja (Lechería), Anzoátegui; Eveling Trejo de Rosales, Maracaibo, Zulia; Ramón Muchacho, of Chacao, Caracas; Gerardo Blyde, Baruta, Miranda; and David Smolansky, El Hatillo, Miranda. The guarimbas are not peaceful protests; on the contrary, they are acts that violate the rights of the citizenry — such as the right to study, work and travel freely — and have been characterized mainly by burning tires, blocked public roads, “tolls”, stringing of trip wires (steel cables of narrow diameter) and the height of a motorcyclist’s neck, and burning oil spills on the highways to cause deadly accidents. (b) The government response has been to meet and have dialogues: a Truth Commission to investigate and bring justice to any violation of human rights, functionaries of the national guard and police detained. National Peace conference with diverse sectors: economic, political, culture, popular power, students, the indigenous, among others.

Manipulation #12: The case of María Corina Machado. The senator referred to the ex-deputy of the National Assembly, María Corina Machado, who has been one of the leaders of the opposition who called for the “exit” of the government by way of guarimbas, which have produced 37 deaths to date. He says that she had not been permitted to speak in last Friday’s session of the Organization of American States (OAS) and that she was expelled by the head of the parliament, Diosdado Cabello. What the US senator did not say is that in the case of this deputy, constitutional law was applied: According to Article 149 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, “Political and public functionaries may not accept charges, honors or payments from foreign governments without the authorization of the National Assembly.”

Translation mine. Linkage added.

At this point, I really have nothing more to say than this: Sit down and shut up, Marco. You have no idea what you’re babbling about.

Maricori, parliamentary putschist no more

maricori-guarimbera

Aww, Maricori…you mad? The true face of María Corina Machado is not so glamorous…especially now that her plans for a parliamentary putsch have been thwarted:

Disposed to generate chaos, as usual, Venezuelan ex-deputy María Corina Machado called for a demonstration at the Plaza Brión in Chacaíto, Caracas, following which she will try to be present in the National Assembly, during the day’s ordinary session.

“Tomorrow I will be at the National Assembly, and I will exercise my right, although with all the risks that implies,” said Machado.

“I am a deputy of the Assembly and I will be as long as the people want me to. I was elected by the people of Venezuela,” she announced, at the peak of adventurism.

The president of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, already said last week that Machado had been prohibited from entering the seat of legislative power.

The ex-parliamentarian, just barely returned from Peru, met with “young student” Gaby Arellano, to co-ordinate actions.

They expect to protagonize acts of violence in Chacaíto and Chacao, and to try early on to generate some kind of chaos in the Libertador district: “Car accidents”, spike belts, oil slicks, etc. Everything seems to indicate that they mean to follow the script of Kiev, Ukraine, where the fascists have taken over the parliament.

On Twitter, the hashtag “#PuebloPaLaAsamblea” has begun to trend.

We hereby alert the authorities to Plan Machado.

They will not pass!

Translation mine.

So, MariCori plans to exercise her “right” to be a parliamentarian? She automatically forfeited that when she neglected her parliamentary duties to represent Panama at the OAS. The Venezuelan supreme court has already ruled against her, so watch this space. I fully plan on posting pictures of her being barred, if any come to light.

¡No pasarán!

(Thanks, @jkid, for the link!)