Festive Left Friday Blogging: Today, we are ALL barbudos!

Yesterday, Contrainjerencia brought footage of the three remaining members of the Cuban Five coming home. You want to talk joyful reunions now, or would you rather just group-hug first? Awwwwww…

And here’s the story…

On Wednesday, the president of Cuba, Raúl Castro, received the three Cubans newly freed by the United States, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernández and Ramón Labañino, at Havana International Airport, as seen on local TV.

The leader appeared very happy, embracing the three agents several times, and he told them: “Proud of you for the resistance you showed, for your valor and the example that represents for everyone.”

Castro had informed at mid-day of the liberation of the agents, and of US contractor Alan Gross, imprisoned on the island since 2009, and of a US spy of Cuban descent, whose name was not revealed, in the same TV broadcast in which he announced the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States, after half a century of confrontations.

“General, we’re still emotional, we can’t get the words out, but above all, thank you,” said agent Gerardo Hernández, a graduate in International Relations who had been sentenced to two life sentences plus fifteen years in prison.

Especially emotional was the embrace between Hernández and his wife Adriana Pérez, who could not visit him in the US because Washington never granted her a visa.

For his part, Antonio Guerrero, who had been sentenced to 22 years in prison and five years’ probation, said: “Tell the Commander-in-Chief [Fidel Castro] that we’re here to go on doing what needs to be done.”

Recall that Guerrero, Hernández and Labañino were part of the group of five Cubans who were arrested in 1998 and sentenced in 2001 by a court in Miami, the last bastion of anti-Castro sentiment.

Cuba recognized them as agents, but specified that they were not spying on the United States, but on anti-Castro groups who were plotting terrorist attacks against the island, and the Cuban parliament declared the Five to be “Heroes of the Republic of Cuba”.

Translation mine.

What can I say but that it’s lovely that they’re finally all home, together again with family and friends? And that more than a decade and a half of injustice has finally been put right. There was never the slightest shred of evidence that the Five were spying on the US government or its military. The only way one could come to such a harebrained conclusion is if one accepts the notion that the batshit-loopy anti-Castro ex-Cubans of Miami as undeclared legislators, or US military/espionage agents — a conclusion the US authorities have strenuously denied even while taking advantage of their fanaticism for Washington’s ends.

Certainly the CIA’s role in the formation and training of everyone of those groups is no secret, though there have been all sorts of inept attempts to cover it up. The US military’s ties to the groups are likewise evident if one looks hard enough; where else would they get such distinctly non-civilian weaponry as bazookas?

But since the US government doesn’t want to admit that these ugly terrorist groups are their boys, well…they can’t have it both ways, eh? And in fact, the FBI was watching the terrorists, too, and even receiving information from various Cuban agents — loyal to Castro! — who had infiltrated the terror groups. The fact that they then turned on their helpful informants and put them in prison for over a decade is shameful, and it reflects badly on the Bureau, which has apparently changed little since J. Edgar Hoover’s day.

Was the FBI taking orders from someplace else? I don’t know, but I have my suspicions. It’s either that, or they completely bungled their job. Either way, it looks bad on them.

And either way, it’s good that now, the Cuban Five are free, reunited…and HOME.

And if Tony Guerrero’s words are any indication, they’re ready to get back to work at what needs doing — and there is sure to be plenty of that. You really can’t keep a good man down.

Especially not if he’s Cuban.

Hey Jian, it’s never too soon to contemplate a new career…

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You know, I really did wonder what they were going to do with that wall-size blow-up of Jian Ghomeshi that they took down from CBC headquarters a few weeks ago. I’m so glad it found a home. And in such a fitting place, too…

Dalhousie University in Halifax has launched an investigation into disturbing, sexually explicit Facebook posts attributed to male students in the faculty of dentistry, CBC News has learned.

The men were part of a Facebook group called the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen. The group was removed from Facebook late last week.

[…]

In one post, members were polled and asked, “Who would you hate f–k?” They were given two names to vote on.

Another post shows a woman wearing a bikini. The caption says, “Bang until stress is relieved or unconscious (girl).”

[…]

Their conversations also include jokes about using chloroform on women.

The words: “Does this rag smell like chloroform to you??” were superimposed on one photo.

In response to another photo of a bikini-clad woman, two members wrote: “Can you tell me what this chloroform smells like?” and “Does this mask smell like nitrous oxide to you?”

The group had at least 12 members.

Fine, upstanding “gentlemen” all, I’m sure. And yes, I’m certain that they can be trusted with nitrous oxide and other dental anesthesia, too.

There’s a Change.org petition to sign to get these bozos expelled, BTW. Please sign and share it.

Oh, and Jian? Here’s a little song you might like, as you consider your next career move…

It seems that you have quite a talent for causing pain yourself. And if Dalhousie doesn’t expel those other rapey guys, you might just have a ready-made clique to fit in with, too.

So, THIS happened.

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Cuban students celebrating the release of the remaining three members of the Cuban Five — Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero — who were freed and arrived on the island today. They are now with their families, and according to all local reports, are well and enjoying an emotional reunion. Two others, René González and Fernando González (no relations), have already been released — the former in 2011, when he was paroled, and the latter in February of this year, when he completed his sentence.

All five men were accused and convicted of espionage, although none of them were what one could properly call spies; all were antiterrorist agents of the Cuban government, and had uncovered terrorist plotting on the part of right-wing anti-Castro organizations in Miami. Rather than receive their shared information with the gratitude it deserved, the FBI colluded with the wrong side, and sent them to prison instead. It was one of the worst miscarriages of justice in international history, and today it was finally put right. The US has straight-up admitted that its anti-communist Cuba policy has been an epic failure, and is now seeking normalized relations with its island neighbor. Hence the freeing of the three remaining members of the Five, in exchange for Cuba releasing USAID agent Alan Gross, who has been imprisoned there for five years. It’s a nice goodwill gesture on both parts, and one dares hope it will lead to a whole lot more in future. (I, for one, would really love to see the permanent closure of Gitmo. Get on it, you guys!)

Meanwhile, actual spies and terrorists who have never been punished are still walking free. Chief among them is an ugly old coot named Luis Posada Carriles, a.k.a. the CubanaBomber. Before September 11, 2001, he was the author of the worst airline terrorist incident in history, along with the late Orlando Bosch; together, they planted a bomb on a Cubana jetliner that killed 73 civilians. Posada is still stinking up the gutters of Miami, despite being in the US illegally. He remains a national embarrassment, and one that’s gone studiously unaddressed by at least two administrations. Will he now be handed over to Venezuela or Cuba, both of whom want him for crimes against humanity? No word yet; stay tuned. If His Barackness is smart, he’ll hand the old motherfucker over. Two countries have been waiting long enough to finally bring him to justice, so here’s hoping he picks one. (I’m guessing he’ll pick Cuba, since the current policy in Washington is still to punish Venezuela by isolation and sanctions for not selling all its oil to the Texas barons for a song. Venezuela is no more isolated than Cuba — in fact, it’s been THE key player in bringing Cuba back into the Latin American fold — so this is just way too fucking funny.)

Meanwhile, in Colombia, something even more momentous has happened: The FARC have announced a unilateral, indefinite ceasefire, following the news of this sudden thaw in US-Cuban relations. Given that they’ve been at war with various more or less right-wing governments there for over 60 years, pretty much ever since the Bogotazo, this is HUGE.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that they came to this decision, and made this announcement, during a peace summit in Havana? El Narco must be steaming like a well-brewed cup of coffee, having been denied his victory in office, and having failed at his repeated putsch attempts ever since. All those paramilitaries and peasant massacres and false positives for nothing, boooooo hooooooooo.

So yes, Cuba is the big winner today, and on multiple fronts. The US has admitted that its unnaturally prolonged Cold War isolationist policy has failed. The bulk of Latin America, with one or two shameful exceptions (ahem, Colombia and Peru) has pulled behind Cuba, offering solidarity and fair trade through the ALBA alliance, as well as Mercosur. The dire climate of the post-Soviet Special Period, which the Miami mafia terrorists were hoping to capitalize on at the time the Cuban Five infiltrated their various rats’ nests, is long gone. Cuba is still surviving and thriving, albeit on a modest scale. They’re exporting doctors and educators and locally-made medicaments, and receiving Venezuelan oil (and Venezuelan oil expertise, too, as Cuba is sitting on some very promising offshore deposits that it’s looking to tap into).

Moreover, they have the political support of all the key Latin American leaders, while those who have tried to isolate Cuba remain isolated themselves, and are looking increasingly foolish for having done so. The Cuban government remains as it is, despite all US talk of “freedom” and “democracy” and “change” (note the quotes, there for a reason). Not one elected Cuban leader has been sacrificed in the making of this deal…and yes, they are all elected! This island nation will not end up like Puerto Rico, annexed and stripped of rights in exchange for — what, exactly? Creeping gringoization? The privilege of housing US naval bases? The fun of having to clean up after them, as the Puerto Ricans have had to do with Vieques?

Nope. Can’t happen. Won’t happen. The test of time has been stood. The Revolution has triumphed. Cuba is still Cuban, no matter what.

And that’s the way it’s going to stay, whatever comes next.

Venezuelan LGBTI rights activist murdered; activists seek equal rights under law

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Giniveth Soto and her spouse, Migdelis Miranda, holding their son. It will be a terribly hard holiday season now for Migdelis, as Giniveth was taken from her and their son most brutally on Saturday in the wee hours. The crime is still unsolved, and worse, it points to a lingering deficiency in Venezuelan law, too:

Giniveth Soto, lesbian, psychologist and Venezuelan activist for the human rights of the sex-diverse populatio, was brutally murdered in the early morning hours of Saturday, December 13, while working as a taxi driver to support her family.

Giniveth, who was also the niece of National Assembly deputy Fernando Soto Rojas, had married Migdelis Miranda a year and a half ago in Argentina. Together, they conceived a son with the help of artificial insemination, and he was born three and a half months ago, also in Argentina. The decision to marry, as well as to conceive a son who was born in a country other than their own were difficult decisions, but part of a clear and radical struggle for recognition of the dignity of loving relationships between persons of the same sex and/or gender, as well as legality and full inclusion for families formed by gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people, transsexuals, and intersex people (LGBTI) in Venezuela.

In Argentina, as of 2010, same-sex marriage is possible, for non-resident foreigners as well; also, Uruguay and Brazil, both members of Mercosur, have advanced significantly in the dignification of the citizenships and humanities of all persons, guaranteeing them equal rights, impacted by the leadership of Venezuela in a process of significant changes which has resulted in more than 15 years of full social inclusion.

The Bolivarian Revolution is based in the essential goal of defending and promoting the development of persons and respect for their dignity, guaranteeing the progressivity and pre-eminence of human rights, equality without discrimination, no subordination of any kind, social justice, and equality as basis for the construction of a just, egalitarian and peace-loving society. However, human rights for the LGBTI population have been rendered invisible by a system dominated by functionaries in service of a lay state, who use the Bible instead of the Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela to make decisions and justify discrimination, for which reason they must be removed from office.

With great bravery and courage, Giniveth militated in AC Venezuela Igualitaria, which represented the struggle in which she, along with her beloved spouse, joined, demanding that Venezuela recognize the right to register their Argentine marriage, and that the birth of their son be registered recognizing the maternity of both women, as expressed by Argentine authorities upon the birth of the boy in their land, as well as legislation in favor of the right for any two people who love one another to marry freely and with consent and live together without regard for their sexual orientation or gender identity. And she believed, with revolutionary consciousness, that these changes would only be possible under a Bolivarian socialist doctrine which promotes decolonization and depatriarchalization as key motors of a cultural change which would permit the cultivation of a truly egalitarian and just society.

However, she was not able to see these changes become reality. Under the Bolivarian government, there was evidently a process of discrimination and of profound psychological and moral violence, as regards requests made for social protection for her family, across the silence which pervaded between the decisions of the institutions of the state and her demands, a situation which repeates itself for thousands of Venezuelan families who cannot access the rights which seem to be privileges for certain models of family.

It is important to emphasize that when the Principal Registry Office and the National Electoral Council do not give positive responses to the requests for registration of the marriage of Giniveth and Migdelis, or for the registration of the birth of their son, they are exposing the juridical non-recognition of the Venezuelan citizenry of their son, and the non-protection of her spouse by rights which the institution of marriage awards to married couples (such as community property), leaving them only the protection of the laws of the Republic of Argentina, a country where they are subjects of full rights.

Her spouse Migdelis, demoralized and in tears during the wake, said: “Giniveth was right, we homosexuals are second-class citizens. I’m painted on the wall here; nothing I think or decide matters to anyone.” Meanwhile, Giniveth’s family decided to cremate a body which was the victim of a murder, and take away the ashes without consulting her spouse, at the same time as they said they understood and completely respected the relationship between the two women.

It is urgent to solve the murder of our valiant and unstoppable activist. A crime may not remain unpunished, and more so still if it is a crime that painfully afflicts the bases of the struggle for the defence of human rights of the Venezuelan sex-diverse population. It is imperative to do justice, but also it is critical to strengthen our public powers to guarantee the effective exercise of the right to live in freedom and equality, without discrimination or stigmas based in atavistic Judeo-Christian prejudices, without psychological or moral violence as consequences of a heterosexist, sexist and machista culture, in order to thus begin in Venezuela the socio-cultural change so longed for by her, developing concrete public policies such as the approval of the Equal Civil Marriage Law.

Translation mine.

In recognition of the need for equal rights and protection under law for Venezuelan LGBTIs, there was a demonstration this morning at 9 a.m. Activists called together by Giniveth’s group, AC Venezuela Igualitaria, as well as the Ejército Emancipador, gathered before the Legislative Palace, where the National Assembly meets, to request that National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello and the PSUV assembly members work to pass laws to protect and grant equal rights to the sex/gender-diverse community, in accordance with the principles set out by sections 2.2.4.2, 2.2.4.3, and 2.2.4.4 of the Bolivarian Constitution.

Chavecito himself said that “gays have a place in the Revolution, too”. That place cannot be secured by anything other than full equality. Otherwise, we’ll only end up hearing more stories like this, in which a same-sex spouse was shoved aside by blood relations and never consulted in the most basic matters, while a murder remains unsolved and the killer, whose motives and identity are still unknown at this hour, remains unpunished.

UPDATE: La Iguana TV reports that three parliamentarians have been designated to take on the equal-marriage legal project proposed by the activists. They are Modesto Ruíz, Dinorah Figuera and Eduardo Piñate. A petition of more than 20,000 signatures was delivered to the National Assembly last January, and it looks as though now, things are starting to speed up. Meanwhile, the Public Ministry has assigned the 48th national prosecutor, Víctor Hugo Barreto, and Caracas prosecutor Susan Ferreira, to investigate the murder of Giniveth Soto. Here’s hoping there’s plenty of action on that front, too.

Happy Human Rights Day!

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“We will impose sanctions on those who defend human rights!” Once more, a Venezuelan cartoonist — this time, it’s Uncas — hits the nail on the head.

And in honor of Human Rights Day, here’s another fine example of how the US doesn’t lead when it comes to human rights, it just crushes them underfoot, like Orwell’s boot stomping on a human face forever:

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today released the executive summary of its long-awaited “Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” describing in more than 500 pages a dysfunctional agency so unprepared to handle suspected terrorist detainees after 9/11, that the CIA bought into private contractors’ proposals for torture, and then lied to Congress, President Bush, the Justice Department, the public, and to itself about the purported effectiveness of the program.

The Senate release includes a 6-page foreword by committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a 19-page list of 20 specific Findings and Conclusions, and a 499-page Executive Summary which details the development of the torture program after 9/11. The longest single section of the Summary, from page 172 to page 400, eviscerates the CIA’s “eight primary CIA effectiveness representations” along with 12 “secondary” ones by showing either there was “no relationship” between the cited success and detainee information “during or after” the CIA’s use of torture, or that such information was otherwise available and even obtained prior to the use of torture.

Translation: TORTURE DOESN’T FUCKING WORK.

Also, THE CIA IS THE SAME EVIL BAND OF JACKALS AS IT WAS WHEN IT PLOTTED TO KILL JFK. IT HASN’T CHANGED ONE FUCKING IOTA.

And in addition to that, CAPITALISM + TORTURE = REALLY FUCKING EXPENSIVE MURDER MACHINE THAT DOESN’T EVEN FUCKING WORK.

Oh yeah, and on top of that, LIES, LIES AND MORE FUCKING LIES:

Including 2,725 footnotes to specific CIA documents, the Senate report shows a pattern of repeated factual inaccuracies by CIA in communications with the Justice Department (to get legal cover for the program), with the White House (including false information inserted in the President’s Daily Brief and one of President Bush’s major speeches), with the Congress (Appendix 3 starting on page 462 provides more than 30 pages of false statements in testimony by former CIA director Michael Hayden), and even inside the Agency itself.

THIRTY FUCKING PAGES OF BULLSHIT FROM MICHAEL FUCKING HAYDEN ALONE, PEOPLE. And it doesn’t end with him, either:

The report cites CIA documents showing CIA officers at the secret detention sites repeatedly protested the torture program — one interrogator called the program a “train wreak” [sic] and wrote “I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens.” But higher-ups, including CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Hayden, overruled objections and kept the program going until President Obama ended it in 2009. The head of CIA counterterrorism operations, Jose Rodriguez, even reprimanded CIA officers at one site for their protests, warning them to refrain from using “speculative language as to the legality of given activities” in CIA cables.

It’s not a question of who fucked up, at this point; the list of those who didn’t fuck up is infinitely shorter.

Of course, none of this comes as any great surprise to me; BushCo was a veritable fuck-up factory. It churned ‘em out assembly-line style, from start to finish. There is nothing that Weak ‘n’ Stupid touched that didn’t turn to ca-ca. Appropriately, for someone descended from royalty, ol’ Dubya sure does have the reverse Midas touch.

And there is no doubt in my mind that every torturer-jack of them belongs in The Hague, and locked up shortly after. But don’t take MY word for it…

A U.N. human rights expert said a report that the U.S. Senate released on Tuesday revealed a “clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush administration” and called for prosecution of U.S. officials who ordered crimes, including torture, against detainees.

Ben Emmerson, United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said senior Bush administration officials who planned and authorized crimes must be prosecuted, along with as CIA and other U.S. government officials who committed torture such as waterboarding.

“As a matter of international law, the U.S. is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice,” Emmerson said in a statement issued in Geneva. “The U.S. Attorney General is under a legal duty to bring criminal charges against those responsible.”

Unfortunately, THAT’s not going to happen. Practically the first thing His Barackness did upon setting foot in the Oval Office was to amnesty all these war criminals, torturers and murderers. Translation: NO HOPE OF A FUCKING PROSECUTION EVER. And, by the way, that’s illegal:

International law prohibits granting immunity to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture, he said.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the U.S. government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability,” Emmerson said.

Torture is an international crime and perpetrators may be prosecuted by any other country to which they might travel, he added.

Incidentally, that’s the very reason Henry Fucking Kissinger no longer sets foot outside of US soil. There’s an international warrant out for his arrest, for war crimes dating all the way back to the Vietnam War.

His Barackness would be well advised to reverse that amnesty now, if he doesn’t want to become complicit — and a war criminal, and suffer the same fate — himself. But — oops! — it’s already way too late for that.

Happy Human Rights Day, indeed, my US friends. How does it feel to live in a country where that phrase has become totally meaningless?

Two more accused in the Serra murder case

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Robert Serra, Venezuela’s youngest parliamentarian, and his girlfriend, María Herrera. Gone, but not forgotten…and justice will soon be served again in the case of their untimely deaths. This time, to two more individuals:

The Venezuelan Public Ministry has accused Danny Salinas and Wuadyd Pacheco for their suspected involvement in the deaths of National Assembly deputy Robert Serra, and María Herrera, on October 1 in the neighborhood of La Pastora, Libertador municipality, in the Capital District.

The 55th prosecutor of the Metropolitan Caracas Area, Miguel Ángel Hernández Salazar, accused Salinas of being a co-author in the crimes of aggravated homicide of the deputy, aggravated robbery, as well as homicide with malice aforethought for futile motives in the execution of an aggravated robbery against María Herrera, and association for the purpose of committing crimes.

In addition, the prosecutor presented the accusation against Pacheco as an unnecessary accomplice in the aforementioned crimes, and as author in the crime of associating for delinquent purposes.

Both crimes are listed in the Criminal Code and in the Organic Law Against Organized Crime and Financing of Terrorism.

In the writ presented before the 9th Control Tribunal of the Metropolitan Caracas Area, the representative of the Public Ministry requested admission of the accusation, ordered the trials of Salinas and Pacheco, and that they be held in custody in the headquarters of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), located in El Helicoide.

Aside from these two men, others recently accused are the Caracas municipal police officers Edwin Torres, Erick Romero and Raider Espinoza, as well as Carlos Enrique García.

Also tied to the double homicide and currently in jail are Jaime Padilla, Neira Palomino, Yusmelys Meregote, and Nadis Orozco, for their relations with the Colombian, Leiva Padilla Mendoza, who was apprehended in Cartagena, Colombia, on November 2, and who is currently awaiting extradition.

Translation mine.

So, it looks like El Colombia and his band of merry miscreants are going to have some sweating to do. Let’s hope that’s all of them.

Cops Behaving Badly: A cartoon that says it all

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Venezuelan cartoonist Vicman captioned this one “Meanwhile, in the land of liberty…”

You know you have a racist cop problem when Latin Americans, who have had their own problems along precisely those lines, can tell who’s the Kluker among your police ranks. And when they, who have historically been the racially policed (all the way from Washington, DC!), are now laughing and pointing at you.

Who’s your diplomatic guest there, Maricori?

Well, well. What have we here? US “diplomats” exercising their diplomatic impunity (no, not a typo, nor a misspelling) at a legal hearing for a disgraced Venezuelan right-wing politician? Sure looks like it…

“We have questions: What were you doing there, who invited him, why was the embassy of the United States watching us and giving orders to a mouthpiece?” asked the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, upon revealing a video that shows how a functionary of the US government was there as an observer during the appearance of María Corina Machado before the Public Ministry on December 3.

“This is disrespect and interference in the affairs of this land, it is a provocation to the Venezuelan government, they think they can scare us,” commented Cabello during his weekly show, Con el Mazo Dando.

The revolutionary leader exhorted the US government to observe what is going on in Ferguson, “how their police are killing children because they don’t like the color of their skin. These are the godfathers the guarimberos have, we denounce them before the world for their interference…the US Embassy is the CIA, the Pentagon, the same who gave money to Gaby Arellano to finance violent actions,” Cabello added.

Translation mine.

I said diplomatic impunity, not immunity, for a reason. The reason is simply this: US diplomats have a long and storied history of interfering in the internal affairs of countries where they are stationed. Cabello isn’t talking out his ass here; he’s simply stating what every Latin American already knows, and what Venezuelans know all too well. Philip Agee made that clear decades ago when he revealed that the CIA operates out of US embassies and diplomatic installations all over the globe, influencing local politics by covertly “supporting” (really, bribing and influence-peddling) local political parties and NGOs. Not only are they immune from prosecution for what can only rightly be termed crimes, they will never be punished. After all, they’re just following orders…

Was Philip Goldberg punished for trying to balkanize Bolivia, by fomenting a coup aimed not only at unseating Evo Morales, but KILLING him? Nope. He just got reassigned. And promptly fell up when it was his time to get his sorry ass promoted. Once a Company man, always a Company man. The Company takes good care of its loyal employees.

And this unnamed flunkie, whoever he is? Betcha he’ll get a plummy new job too. Having his cover blown on Venezuelan national TV is just a feather in the ol’ fedora for him. They have so much chutzpah, they don’t even care that they’ve been caught red-handed feeding their local trolls, of which Maricori is just one of several. Look for him soon at a CIA station near you.

And it hardly serves to intimidate the Venezuelan government if the CIA’s men-in-country blatantly spy on legal hearings, either. After all, this hearing was a public matter, and was announced several days in advance in the local press. If they think they can paint Venezuelan justice as some kind of star chamber, lacking in transparency, they can think again. These proceedings are all aboveboard.

And in any case, the CIA and the US government have nothing to say about the way justice gets done in Venezuela. After all, it’s not their fucking backyard.

It never was.

Maricori charged with conspiracy to commit treason

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“Deputy colleagues, I propose that we eliminate ordinary parliamentary sessions because I don’t mix with ordinary people.” Well said, Maricori…because where you’re going, you won’t be mixing with anyone for a good long time.

Finally, after more than a decade of relentless putschist machinations, a poor little rich girl is getting her just deserts. Maricori, who was barred from her seat in the Venezuelan National Assembly earlier this year due to participation in yet another coup attempt against an elected head of state, is now facing some serious jail time…

On Wednesday, December 3, the Venezuelan Public Ministry charged former parliamentary deputy María Corina Machado Parisca, 47, with having ties to a plan to disturb the peace and assassinate the president of the republic, Nicolás Maduro Moros.

The charges were laid at the 20th national prosecutor’s office, under the charge Katherine Harington, located in the Public Ministry’s head office on Urdaneta Avenue.

During the proceeding, the prosecutor charged Machado with the crime of conspiracy, established and sanctioned in Article 132 of the Penal Code.

According to the article, “anyone who, within or outside of national territory, conspires to destroy the republican political form of the nation, shall be punished with imprisonment of eight to sixteen years.”

Furthermore, the same article explains that “the same penalty applies to any Venezuelan who solicits foreign intervention in the interior politics of Venezuela, or requests that it occur in order to disturb the peace of the Republic, or that before its functionaries, or through publications made in the foreign press, would incite civil war in the Republic or defame its president, or assail any diplomatic representative or consular functionaries of Venezuela, for reasons of their funtions, in the country in which the act is committed.”

With the charges, Machado acquires the rights contemplated in Article 49 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Article 125 of the Organic Penal Process Code, concerning due process and the rights of the accused.

For these same crimes there are also arrest orders out for Henrique Salas Römer, Diego Arria Salicetti, Ricardo Emilio Koesling Nava, Gustavo Terre Briceño, Pedro Mario Burelli Briceño, and Robert Alonso Bustillo.

The Public Ministry has been conducting this investigation since March of this year, following denunciations by several parliamentarians of the National Assembly and one particular, who called for the opening of an investigation to determine penal responsibilities with respect to a plan to assassinate the President.

Translation mine.

Notice, too, that there’s a veritable rogues’ gallery of other leading opposition figures listed here. All of them are well-known far-right putschists who have openly called for the murders of two elected presidents. They are long overdue for criminal charges and trial. But first, they are all long overdue for confiscation of their passports. After all, we wouldn’t want to see them end up in Bogotá or Miami, would we?

Big bordello raid in four countries over human trafficking concerns

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Police vans outside the “Paradise” bordello in Stuttgart, Germany. This was not the only big bordello they raided; there were three others. But they hadn’t come to arrest the girls and women inside; instead, they were after those who had brought them there. Here’s the story, as told by EMMA:

On Sunday evening, 900 police officers swarmed four megabordellos, “model” homes, offices and cars all over Germany, Austria, Bosnia and Romania. They arrested two women and three men, one of whom is believed to be the press spokesperson of the “wellness” bordello “Paradise”, in Stuttgart.

The raid was organized by the city authorities and state criminal prosecutor’s office of Stuttgart, Organized Crime Division. It has to do with human trafficking and pimping, as well as betrayal.

Several of the arrested persons are suspected of having forced women under the age of 21 into prostitution, using the “loverboy” method. Men get very young girls to fall in love with them, and then send them to work on the “stroll”. First they claim to be in need, then they use force. (These women are also designated “voluntary” prostitutes under the old prostitution law, because they are doing it “for love”.)

One of the 15 persons in the crosshairs of the police belonged to the biker-style gang “United Tribunes”, of Stuttgart and Bosnia. During the raid, a pistol was also confiscated.

The accused are being held responsible “for recruiting and keeping guard over the young women”, according to a police press release. “On the basis of extensive communications, there is also the suspicion that investors have been led to invest in megabordellos under false pretences. The monies thus obtained were not just used for FKK [nudist] clubs, but also private purposes.”

Such megabordellos include the “Paradise” in Stuttgart and the “Wellness Oasis for Men” in Saarbrücken, which the owner, Jürgen Rudloff, and his “business manager”, Michael Beretin, opened in July, under heavy protest by FEMEN. The megabrothel on the French border extends over 4,500 square metres, has 30 rooms, and as many as 50 prostitutes per day. Today, it is one of 123 (!) brothels in Saarbrücken, the “prostitution capital” of Germany. No wonder that SPD mayor Charlotte Britz, as well as CDU state governor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, signed on to EMMA’s 2013 appeal against prostitution.

The principle of these “sex factories” — of which the Rudloff/Beretin team runs five — is for women as well as johns to pay admission, between 60 and 79 euros. The women pay an additional 25 euros in taxes, plus 23 euros for an overnight stay (most of them have no homes of their own). That is to say, they have to serve at least three johns in order to cover their debts to the bordello’s owners. And even then, they still don’t have a cent for themselves, never mind their pimps.

Just this past summer, “press spokesman” Beretin bragged to [German tabloid] Die Welt of his five megabordellos, their “family atmosphere, spotless cleanliness, retreat rooms, security personnel, and above all: transparent co-operation with the authorities.”

Today, the authorities seem to see it differently.

The mega-raid in the German red-light milieu, which is extensively ruled by organized crime, comes at just the right time: Right now, the grand coalition in Berlin is seeking advice toward a new prostitution law. The CDU/CSU party is for it, the SPD is still unsure.

Social Democrats, who once claimed to speak up for the rights of the rightsless of this world, still hesitate to sign on for raising the working age of women in prostitution to 21, for monthly health inspections, as well as requiring registration for the hundred-thousands of foreign poverty-prostituted women in Germany. Maybe this raid will finally bring the SPD to its senses.

Translation mine.

So, as you can see, German authorities are getting mighty tired of looking the other way (and just raking in the tax revenues) while mafias and biker gangs truck in women and girls by the thousands from poverty-ridden Eastern Europe to service these cheap bordellos. Cheap, that is, for the johns; for the women, as you can see, it’s horribly expensive. When you have to service three men just to cover the brothel’s expenses, and you haven’t even made a dent in your “debt” to your traffickers (who, of course, claim to “love” you, which has got to be the ultimate betrayal), well…it’s not a life that anyone would choose voluntarily. Even the crappiest normal job is infinitely preferable to this; it might not pay much, but neither does it demand much.

In prostitution (or rather, sex capitalism), which is far from lucrative for most of the women and girls working the German bordellos (and very lucrative, by contrast, for their owners), it doesn’t pay at all…and it costs an arm and a leg. There’s a huge demand for cheap sexual servicing, fed by an anything-goes porn culture which normalizes brothel-creeping for men. So there’s a constant demand for more girls, more turnover, more fresh meat.

For how much longer will this go on? Nobody knows…yet. But it seems the writing is on the sleazy wall. And no one who truly cares for the rights of the so-called “sex workers” can afford to turn a blind eye to the misery that brought these women and girls into this unsought-for line of work.