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

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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…

Quotable: Bill Maher on changing times

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I don’t agree with Bill Maher on everything, but he’s spot-on here, as far as his analysis goes. Purchasing power has been so eroded that North Americans are turning into virtual serfs. Living wages? What are THOSE? Increasingly rare, if not impossible, to make if you’re working class…and the middle class, created by fair pay and progressive taxation, is doing a fast disappearing act, too. A pity Bill’s not quite connecting the dots to the fact that the rich are getting off scot-free when it comes to taxes, as well as the obscene profits they’re pulling in thanks to the increasingly low wages they’re paying the people who actually make their money for them. Without social services, any wage is bound to be too little…unless, of course, you’re a 1%er, in which case you’re making way too much even as you sleep.

“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!

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

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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.

María Corina Machado, the patriotic…Panamanian?

machado-bush

The other day, I saw that a certain right-wing Venezuelan parliamentarian, legendary for whining to anyone who will listen (including the Shrub, above) about how her country’s been ruined, had spoken to the OAS using Panama’s seat. At the time I wondered how that could be — and why was that even allowed? She wasn’t allowed to kvetch about Venezuela, so that much was good. But what the hell was she doing there when she had a parliamentary seat back home to occupy? Why was she neglecting her own duties?

Well, mystery solved:

The president of the Venezuelan national assembly, Diosdado Cabello, informed on Monday that María Corina Machado had quit being a deputy of the Republic upon accepting and exercising her duty as alternative representative of the government of Panama before the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington.

Cabello pointed out that the right-wing spokeswoman violated Article 191 of the Venezuelan constitution, which states: “Deputies of the National Assembly may not accept or exercise public charges without losing their investiture, except in cases of docent, academic, accidental or assistant activities, always without exclusive dedication.”

“Being there (in the OAS), Ms. María Machado made declarations, actions, petitions, as a funcionary of the Panamanian government. That is public, notorious and communicational, when she acted she was accepting any duty the Panamanian government gave her,” said the president of the Venezuelan parliament, who also read out Panama’s communiqué to the OAS, in which Machado’s accreditation was solicited “as an alternate representative of the delegation of the Republic of Panama before the OAS, as of this date (March 20, 2014).”

Cabello said that this was not an accidental nomination, not for one day but “as of this date”, and Machado currently occupies a seat as alternate representative of Panama before the OAS.

Machado also violated Article 149 of the Venezuelan constitution, which states: “Public functionaries may not accept charges, honors or recompense from foreign governments without the authorization of the National Assembly.”

“That would be a violation of Article 149, because being a public functionary, she accepted a charge from a foreign government without the authorization of the National Assembly,” Cabello pointed out, referring to Machado’s nomination to the OAS, where she expressed her support for violent actions perpetrated inn certain sectors of the country from February 12 onward, on the part of shock-groups of the Venezuelan right, which have caused the deaths of more than 30 persons, as well as much damage and destruction, with the objective of unseating the government of President Nicolás Maduro, elected by the majority of the people.

The right-wing spokeswoman, the National Assembly president pointed out, represents “a government hostile to the government and people of Venezuela”.

On March 5, the Venezuelan government decided to suspend political, diplomatic and economic relations with Panama, following the interference of the government of Ricardo Martinelli in Venezuela’s internal affairs, and having promoted sanctions against Venezuela at the OAS.

Cabello recounted that last week, the Attorney General of Venezuela had received proofs in order to initiate an investigation and trial against Machado, on presumption of involvement in crimes against the independence and security of the nation, calls to violence, instigation to crimes, terrorism, violations of the Constitution, and treason, with the objective of promoting a coup d’état and foreign intervention in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

With the objective of rescinding her parliamentary immunity, the president of the National Assembly, along with the socialist bloc, presented the Attorney General with documents which give evidence of the alleged ties of Machado to the events in question.

On Monday, the deputy stated that now there was no need to strip Machado of parliamentary immunity, “because according to Article 191, according to this nomination (on the part of Panama), and according to her own actions and behavior, Ms. Machado has ceased to be a [Venezuelan] deputy.”

Cabello said that the opposition spokeswoman had the right to express herself and associate as she liked, but not to violate the national consitution.

He added that the now ex-deputy, who had signed the Carmona Decree which derogated all the powers of the Republic on April 12, 2002, will no longer have access to the Parliament, and her seat will be occupied by a replacement deputy, with all attributions according to law.

“What does it mean that she is not a deputy? That she doesn’t have parliamentary immunity, she doesn’t have access to the National Assembly (as would any deputy), she can be directly investigated for all the things that have been taking place, and to that can be added, with more force — high treason,” stated Cabello.

Last Friday, at OAS headquarters, María Corina Machado received the rejection of the hemispheric organization, which decided not to make public her speech in the Ordinary Session of the Permanent Council.

In a customary debate over OAS meetings, Nicaragua proposed to hold a closed-door meeting, a proposal which received the support of 22 ambassadors of the member states, while 11 voted against and one abstained.

Following the vote, the Brazilian representative, Breno Dias da Costa, who voted in favor of the closed-door session, stated that this decision was not to “impede a dialogue, but to prevent a ‘show’ for an outside audience.”

Translation mine.

So, there you have it. MariCori wasn’t fired; she quit. She thought she was going to get a greater international platform for her crapaganda. But this move is gonna backfire on her, because the name of Martinelli and his government, just like that of her “democratic unity table” back home, is MUD.

Actually, it’s backfired already, as the rejection of the OAS ambassadors has clearly shown. Rather than let MariCori have an open bully pulpit, they moved to a closed-door session. And while she wasn’t shut out, she was forced to shut up about Venezuela, at least…a country in whose parliament, as of her appearance at the OAS in Panama’s seat, she is now persona non grata. Ha, ha.

The ironies of the Venezuelan opposition, part 45

oppo-thug-puerto-ordaz

A hooded opposition “protester” in Puerto Ordaz, mocking a local man who was tied up and abused for trying to clean up an illegal barricade on the street. As you can see, the victim is bound with steel wires, the same that have been used to kill several motorcyclists from poor and predominantly pro-government neighborhoods. There it is, for all you doubters…your peaceful, democratic, law-abiding Venezuelan opposition!

And here’s some more of that, too:

The Venezuelan opposition uses paramilitary terrorism as a new means of doing politics, and in these moments, the security bodies of the state are conducting raids and detentions of a paramilitary coup [gang] which came supplying armaments, revealed a deputy of the National Assembly, Andrés Eloy Méndez, on Tuesday.

During an interview with VTV, Méndez said he had all the proofs of this paramilitary group, which has provided weapons to snipers, as well as “hunting” rifles to assassinate civilians and military members, in his hands to show them to the country.

Méndez also revealed that the home of Carlos Yáñez, “jokeologist” of RCTV, had been raided for this reason, in the sector of Prados del Este in Baruta, Miranda. It was a centre of fabrication for clandestine weapons for paramilitary snipers, he said.

Méndez played back an audio in which Yáñez, alias “Camión” (“Truck”), spoke with Luis Raúl Ramírez over new terrorist plans, trafficking and adulteration of weapons, fabrication and distribution of lethal armaments, to the barricades and guarimbas.

“This country is facing a terrorist organization, paramilitary, co-ordinated by the violent opposition, which has participated in the recent violent events our land has lived through, which have left 36 dead to date,” said Méndez.

The minister of Communication and Information, Delcy Rodríguez, released the video of the conversation revealed by Deputy Méndez.

Translation mine.

Here’s Andrés Eloy Méndez, showing all the proofs:

And here’s the incriminating conversation in question:

But what am I saying? Everyone knows that the Venezuelan oppos are nothing but a peaceful student movement with no outside ties or ulterior motives beyond freedom and democracy, right? RIGHT???

High treason in the Venezuelan air force; three generals arrested

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro, addressing all of South America’s foreign ministers at the UNASUR summit today. He’s referring to these events from yesterday, in which three Venezuelan air-force generals were arrested for conspiring against the government.

It’s worth noting that all of UNASUR is behind Madurito, and that he’s repeatedly offered the opposition peace talks, all of which have been rejected. At this point, I think we can safely cut all the bullshit about “protests” and just call this month-long shitstorm what it really is: another coup attempt. Which is, mercifully, failing — and failing badly. The military was no doubt the putschists’ best hope, but the bulk of it is loyal to the government, and it shows in the fact that the traitors are now being captured. Madurito is finally getting down to brass tacks, and I have to say that he’s been awfully patient. Here in Canada, such “protests” wouldn’t have lasted a day.