If you’ve been following Venezuelan politics, you’ve probably seen the handiwork of this man, even if you haven’t seen HIM. And if you find his habit of wearing black melodramatic and more than a little douchey, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. His campaigns are even more so…and now, their creepy author has been uncloaked:
His name is Juan José Rendón, and he calls himself J.J. Rendón. Although born a Venezuelan, he says he has no country, and in supposed mourning, always dresses in black. Rendón lives in Miami, Florida, and from there has been the creator of the dirty campaigns which have characterized the representatives of the South American right wing.
During the last 27 years, he has advised the presidential campaigns of Enrique Peña Nieto, Juan Manuel Santos, Alvaro Uribe Vélez, and Porfirio Lobo, among others. The discrediting and tarnishing of his clients’ adversaries is his principal strategy.
One strategy, which Rendón has openly admitted to applying, is the “Three Ss”, in which false information concerning the sexuality, health and salary of the targeted individual is created in a campaign of discredit.
In an interview with Colombian journalist María Jimena Duzán, Rendón said that his proposition is to “shatter” the adversary and that it is a business for him, one that brings to the table the latest campaign by sectors of the Venezuelan right.
The dirty campaign against the quality of drinking water, as well as the attacks questioning the health of Hugo Chávez, starting in July 2012 by various opposition parties and media, were the work of J. J. Rendón.
In the same interview with Duzán, Rendón admits to being an anti-ethical advisor because “that ethical thing is for the philosophers.”
As far as Venezuela is concerned, it appears that his only connection with it is his closeness to the opposition, directly with the “Democratic Unity Table” (MUD), for whom he designed campaigns of instigation, destabilization, and discreditation of the national government.
Even if the local opposition has wanted to conceal the intervening hand of Rendón in its constant wave of campaigns to promote destabilization, there is a very close link with Henrique Capriles Radonsky.
“Have you been working in the campaign of Henrique Capriles?” Jaime Bayly asked him, two days before the elections of October 7, to which the “king of black propaganda,” as the Mexican, Ramón Betancour, called him, replied: “What do you think?” “It’s gone very well for you since you’ve taken on the campaign of Henrique Capriles!” commented the Peruvian TV host, who constantly mocked the Venezuelan political process.
The planting of the idea of a supposed “electoral fraud” was another of Rendón’s ideas, and it was precisely that which brought him to public awareness in 2004, as a pusher of that line of propaganda after the opposition defeat in the recall referendum of 2004.
Rendón has worked on 22 campaigns and claims he has only lost one. His most famous defeat was that same recall referendum of 2004, against Comandante Hugo Chávez. After that he abandoned Venezuela to take up residence in the United States.
Well, now you know why he wears black (and probably doesn’t cast a reflection or a shadow, either). Chavecito pretty much drove a stake through his heart, or rather the shrunken remnant thereof. Yet, perversely, he’s still walking this Earth, while Chavecito has gone on to blessed immortality. Unlike most vampires, Rendón hasn’t yet bitten the dust. But maybe shining a bright light on him will send him scuttling back under the rock from whence he came.
We can only hope, eh?
Prostituted girls on the streets of Medellín, Colombia. The crime-pocked streets of that cocaine-infested city are not the only places in that land where children are sexually exploited and enslaved, as El Tiempo’s sub-editor, Jineth Bedoya Lima, reports:
Mireya’s life has been so rough, violent and bitter that at 13, she already feels 40. A night of “bad business” left her with a scar that outlines her right eyebrow, runs down her cheek, and ends near her mouth. “I had 72 stitches, but I worked on the scar with mortician’s paste, and it doesn’t look so bad,” she says, looking at herself in a tiny piece of glass that she uses for a mirror.
Her days are full of glue, which she sniffs to forget the hunger and the abuses of the clients, or the long work days with drunken miners and assailants in the clandestine camps in the lowlands of Atrato, between Murindó (Antioquia) and Carmen del Darién (Chocó).
In these ancestral lands copper and gold aren’t the only things being exploited. There are bodies which have not even reached their maturity, which are also being used by human trafficking networks, forced prostitution, and sexual exploitation. But that’s not all. El Tiempo has also documented how, in mining regions throughout Colombia, criminal groups are doing a parallel trade which does not limit itself to extortion or deforestation.
Behind the mining titles which have generated so much controversy in the last year, behind illegal mining and armed groups taking advantage to maintain a source of financing, there is a crime which no one has attacked and which, for those regions, is practically part of the landscape. Officials assured us that wherever there are masses of men, there is prostitution, and since it is the oldest profession in the world, there is no cause for alarm.
But the truth is that dozens of girls, none of them over 16, have been enslaved sexually and are now part of a statistic that no one has clearly counted. There is no plan on the part of the state to save them from exploitation.
Mireya began travelling by bus every Wednesday from a corner in the neighborhood of Cuba, in Pereira, when she was 11 years old. Her mother, who is in jail for selling bazuco [cocaine paste] and marijuana in a “stewpot” in the centre of the city, sold her to a man who was recruiting “workers”. That was in March of 2011. “I don’t know how much money Mona [Mireya's mother] got, but she packed a t-shirt for me, some underwear, a pair of shorts, and she gave me a thousand pesos to tide me over along the way.” That day Mireya began her journey, from the hands of the man who bought her, into horror and abuse.
Her story just flows, as if she were telling what had happened on a bad day and remains paradoxically imbued with a profound innocence. Her youth helps her to rise above the assaults she suffers, because she believes that this is the life she “must” live. The girl only nods her head when asked if she knows that she has rights and that the law is supposed to protect her.
After several days’ journey, in March 2011, Mireya was brought together with 11 other minor girls. She remembers that “one of them had just turned nine years old and still talked baby talk”; the five who were virgins were separated from the group and on Saturday night, were brought to four miners. “They were more or less old. First they made us drink aguardiente [hard liquor, similar to whisky], and later…it all began.” No tears. This girl’s words are only laden with desperation.
One could say that Mireya is a survivor of what is happening in one sector of Careperro. This mountain is home to one of the largest gold deposits, and experts say that it is the entryway to a gigantic vein of copper that crosses the Andes, all the way from Chile.
There are now 16 legal mining titles in the zone, which span territories of black and indigenous communities, most of them in the hands of a US-based company, where there is a relative degree of control. However, around the illegal mines, which have no legal title, there are camps on the weekends which play host to young girls and teens who are offered in mobile brothels.
“In the towns where the mines are, near the municipal offices, the brothels are outside the towns, in houses, and it’s easy to control them, but in the mines which are in the middle of the mountains, you can get away with anything,” said an army official of the zone.
And one of the bottlenecks of the problem is which responsibility each authority bears. “We’re not competent to deal with minors. That’s the responsibility of the police,” said the soldier. Meanwhile, the police say that the mines are in rural areas difficult to access, which are the jurisdiction of the army. So the prostitution networks can operate widely, without problems, and with an often permissive attitude from the civil authorities.
But this is not only a problem in the border regions of Chocó and Antioquia. In Córdoba, in the area of Nudo de Paramillo and in Ayapel, there are also centres of sexual exploitation. And in the northeastern zone and the valley of Cauca, near the gold mines, there is another critical point.
The final point is in Guainía, where the extraction of coltan has also unleashed a wave of prostitution, which is not new but which in recent months has affected several indigenous communities, because their girls have ended up being exploited.
The paradoxical thing about this illicit growth is that no functionary wants to talk about it publicly, “because there are no documented cases”, but when one turns off the recording device, they acknowledge the problem and even tell stories of what goes on in their zones.
How do these networks of sexual exploitation and forced prostitution function near the mines? A source from Army Intelligence has been documenting for several months how from Cartagena, Pereira, Medellín, Armenia and Cali, there are “hooking offices” moving minors and prostitutes up to 26 years of age.
The most alarming thing is that these criminal networks have built encampments near the mines, to “offer entertainment services to the workers”. They tell this to the girls to justify the abuses.
“The information is fragmented because the interviews we’ve managed to do have taken place in security centres, and we have to admit it: at the moment we take into custody a demobilized guerrilla, a prisoner or an informant, the first priority is to ask about illegal groups, drug or weapons trafficking. But rarely or never do we pay attention to women’s issues,” admits an investigator.
His frankness makes clear that there is no plan to confront the problem.
From the testimonies of several young girls and teenagers, El Tiempo has reconstructed the routes the exploiters take for “supplying” the demands of hundreds of miners who, according to the police, spend all their weekly earnings on liquor and prostitutes, many of them underage.
One route is the one between Cartagena and Antioquia. The intermediate point where the girls are collected is in Turbaco; there, generally, a bus takes the “express route” to Caucasia, and from there, they travel in public vehicles to Nechí, El Bagre, and Zaragoza.
“Last November 8 we had a situation at a checkpoint with several minor girls. They were heading for El Bagre (near Cauca), in a minibus. When we asked them why they were there, they claimed they were just passing through; later they said they had signed on as waitresses on a finca [large estate], but we already knew what was going on. We turned them over to the police, and they, in turn, to the ICBF. That’s all we know,” said a soldier. Even now he doesn’t know what happened to the girls.
Another infamous route for girls runs from Cartagena to Córdoba. Some get off at Ayapel; others, in the city of Montería and from there, to Valencia and Nudo de Paramillo. The modus operandi is the same: a bus or minibus, a fake story, and in the end, a camp or a house for abuse.
From Medellín there is another route, which carries girls to Chocó, or northeastern Antioquia, to Segovia and the Cauca valley, and from Medellín and Pereira to the edges of Antioquia and Chocó.
The authorities are also investigating what is happening to indigenous girls in the coltan-mining zone of Guainía, as well as the likely sale of minors, by their parents, in the emerald-mining area of Boyacá. But the drama of these girls is not only in the camps where they are enslaved and abused.
The chain of horror begins in the same streets where they are recruited. In the centre of Medellín, for example, the “Convivir” (extortion gangs) get paid a percentage of the girls’ earnings for letting them stand on a street corner. The girls are offered security in case a client doesn’t pay, and if they make trouble while under the influence of glue fumes, they are beaten and kicked out of the block. But these delinquents, who claim to maintain control of the streets, are the same contacted by the heads of the networks who seek “merchandise” to traffick into the mining areas.
“Without a doubt, most of the trade in the mines is controlled by the Urabeños. They buy girls in Cartagena or Medellín. Their own mothers offer them, and they make money off them,” says one of the investigators documenting cases. And in Antioquia, there is a name which everyone knows and remembers painfully: Jhon Jairo Restrepo, alias “Marcos”, formerly of the Carlos Alirio Buitrago Front of the ELN guerrillas. Now he is the chief of the Urabeños in the northeast, and one of the victimizers of girls and women.
But civil authorities claim not to know anything about him. At least, so says the mayor of Segovia, Jhony Alexis Castrillón, who would only say that “in this town there is no prostitution, because the women are very hot and don’t need to be paid.”
The same saddening response comes from various other entities of the state: “There is no sexual exploitation here,” said a functionary of the Centre for Attention to Victims of Sexual Violence (CAIVAS), to the police in Medellín.
And the case of “Marcos” in Antioquia repeats itself in Chocó with three men who each have four aliases, and who have taken it upon themselves to provide the “services” of minor girls in the camps less than three kilometres from the mines.
“They picked me up in Pereira, they took me on a bus to Chocó, all the way out into the jungle. I was there for two months in the camp. Four other girls travelled with me, but I never saw them again, I don’t know what happened to them…” says a 15-year-old girl, who was just 14 in the middle of 2012, when she was taken to the Atrato valley.
“Mile”, which she says is her street name, keeps looking around her as she speaks. Her sadness is evident as she tells what those eight weeks were like. “The guy who picked me up in Bolívar Square told me I would have food and a bed, and that I’d be paid at the end of the month. And I did have that, but at the end of the first two weeks, Leo (as she calls the man) passed me a hundred thousand pesos and told me that was the payment.
The next month, the same thing happened. “Mile” decided to take a risk and asked one of the miners, who was heading to Pereira, to take her along, and that she wouldn’t charge him anything for going to bed. He agreed. “The bus stopped before arriving in Pereira, the guy was asleep, and I stayed behind, I didn’t go back…”
She decided not to return to her city for fear that Leo would come back to kill her, and now she is on the streets of Medellín. Her body bears the marks of clients, thieves and drunks, who forced her at knifepoint to comply with any number of aberrant requests.
“Lots of things happen in the mines. In many parts of the country lots of things happen, but here the authorities and everyone say that we’re the whores…I, for example, feel like I’m not a person anymore…this happened to me and there’s nothing I can do.”
I cried while I was translating this, much as I did during the last chapter of The Table Dancer’s Tale, which is also full of stories of girls prostituted by their own parents. Many of them are well under legal age, too. The difference between Mexico and Colombia is that the Mexican girls tend to work out of established houses, bars and nightclubs, which are more or less controlled environments, within the reach of local police; the Colombians are subjected to truly horrific conditions, in jungle encampments near the mines, which are in remote mountain locations and thus so much harder to escape. The police and the army both turn a blind eye, and only rarely intercept a “shipment” of human “merchandise” bound for the mining camps. How hard do the authorities need to be hit over the head to realize that this is a pervasive problem? Or are girls just so disposable in Colombia that literally anything goes, and that it’s “normal” for their own mothers to sell them to mafiosi? Do they rationalize the situation the way one brothel keeper in the stories of Gabriel García Márquez did, by writing over the doors of the establishment that the girls worked there because “they are hungry”? How many more girls are going to be exploited before someone makes the necessary political and economic changes that will make prostitution unprofitable for the traffickers who enslaved them?
Just think, people…perfectly capable gay couples are being denied the right to adopt while heterosexuals like this are…well, just READ:
A Washington state man accused of putting his infant daughter inside a freezer long enough for her body temperature to drop to 84 degrees was charged Tuesday with first-degree child assault, first-degree criminal mistreatment and interfering with the reporting of a domestic violence incident.
His bail was set at $1 million, NBC station KING5 of Seattle reported.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said the 6-week-old baby also suffered a broken arm and leg and a head injury.
Tyler James Deutsch, 25, and the baby’s mother live together in a trailer in the city of Roy. The mother left the child alone with Deutsch from about 1:30 until 3:30 p.m. Saturday, KING5 reported.
The prosecutor’s office said Deutsch told detectives he was tired and the baby was crying, so he put her in the freezer and closed the door, according to KING5.
The man then fell asleep and only woke up when the mother returned home.
And just think, professional homomphobes like the “good” folks of NOM will never say boo about this. Why? Because these two are straight, and heterosexuals, as we all know, are the only people who should be allowed to marry and have kids.
Even if they’re goddamn fucking stupid and can’t parent for shit.
The ex-dictator of Argentina, Jorge Rafael Videla, died today in the Marcos Paz penitentiary, where he was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity. He was 87 years old.
This morning, the wife of a soldier, Cecilia Pando, confirmed via Radio Once Diez: “Videla died in his sleep. Last night he didn’t want to eat supper because he was feeling ill.”
But judicial information indicates that Videla died in the bathroom of the federal prison’s unit for crimes against humanity. Since last night, he had been having stomach trouble. This morning, he got up, and as he was entering the washroom, he fell to the floor and died.
Videla was condemned to 50 years’ imprisonment for theft of babies. The sentence was handed down by the Sixth Oral Federal Tribunal, and was added to other previous sentences. Bignone, the last de facto president of the Argentine junta, received 15 years. The tribunal investigated 35 cases of children born in captivity.
Videla was born in Mercedes, in the province of Buenos Aires, on August 2, 1925. He became president following a military coup on the 24th of March, 1976, and remained in that post until 1981. Following the return to democracy in 1983, Videla went on trial and was sentenced to life in prison and stripped of his military rank for numerous crimes against humanity committed while he was in power.
Videla entered the National Military College on March 3, 1942, and graduated on December 21, 1944, with the rank of second lieutenant of the infantry. He attended the War Academy between 1952 and 1954 and graduated as an officer of the High Command. He was a member of the Secretariat of Defence between 1958 and 1960, and directed the Military Academy until 1962. In 1971 he rose to the rank of brigadier general and was named by Alejandro Agustín Lanusse as director of the National Military College. At the end of 1973, Comandante Leandro Anaya named him Chief of the High Command of the Army, and on August 27, 1975, President María Estela Martínez de Perón named him Commander in Chief of the Army.
On March 24, 1976, Videla, along with Emilio Eduardo Massera and Orlando Ramón Agosti, headed the military coup that deposed President María Estela Martínez de Perón, dissolved all political parties, and closed the National Congress, giving rise to the so-called “National Reorganization Process”.
What with Ríos Montt convicted and going to prison (and pulling a Pinochet to try to get out of it), and Videla dying there, this has been one good week for riddance to bad rubbish. Just a pity that none of the US spooks who aided and abetted these vile criminals will ever see justice.
Back in the day, a certain senile US president had this to say about a certain thug who was then in charge of Guatemala:
Well…today, a leading Mexican newspaper had this to say about the same thug:
I trust I don’t need to translate that.
María Corina Machado, May 2. Say, isn’t that the day she was supposed to be in hospital, getting her broken nose fixed? As you can see by the profile, it’s remarkably intact for someone with four alleged nasal fractures. No swelling, no bumps, no nothing. And her eyes aren’t black and swollen, as one would expect a post-op nose-job patient’s eyes to be. And she’s not in too much pain to go out glad-handing, either…
Oh dear. Poor, martyred MariCori. At this rate, she’s going to come home with the two black eyes she didn’t have when she left for Colombia just a few short days ago. Just look at the pummeling she and her whiny escualido pals took at the hands of the Colombian government!
Members of a commission of right-wing oppositionists, led by parliamentary deputy María Corina Machado, came with the hope of entering the Casa de Nariño [Colombia's house of government] to speak out against the unity and strength of Colombian-Venezuelan relations.
The escualido delegation was not received, and had to take their speeches against the Bolivarian government of Nicolás Maduro to the Congress, where their Uribista and conservative friends opened the floor for them.
It is clear that the right wing, financed and trained by the United States, is trying to convert Colombia into a beachhead for the destabilization of the Venezuelan government. They also insist on attacking the good relations between the two peoples, who prefer to continue consolidating their economic, social and peace relations.
Another failure in Colombia to add to the permanent defeat of the recalcitrant Venezuelan right…
Meanwhile, speaking of El Narco Uribe and ironies…what’s this about him hauling Maduro before the Human Rights Commission? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Especially since there are all those “false positive” deaths he has yet to account for? El Narco is a human rights violator, and on a grand scale.
It really does speak volumes as to what sort of “democratic” person MariCori is, to be hanging out with a genocidal, dictatorial, murderous, drug-trafficking fascist like El Narco…don’t you think?
“They caught me!”
Well, well, well, well, well. Who have we here? Why, it’s our old friend MariCori! You may recall how, the other day, she was wearing a whiplash collar and complaining of no fewer than four nasal fractures, allegedly sustained at the hands of some Chavista rabble. And how she travelled to Colombia a short time later, to kvetch to the usual fascist sympathizers (and, no doubt, collect a huge cash infusion from the usual gringo bagmen.)
Well, somehow, on the way to Bogotá, MariCori experienced what can only be called a miracle cure:
As is well known by the right-wing press and the putschist channel Globovisión, parliamentary deputy María Corina Machado was the target of a supposed aggression. Strangely, no one knows who dealt her the particular blow that caused four fractures to her nasal bones, and in spite of the “seriousness” of the injury, she didn’t have even a little black eye, as one normally would in such a case.
A few hours after the “incident”, the deputy flew to the capital of Colombia. But in mid-flight, an amateur photographer, one of those who abound everywhere thanks to cellphones, captured the moment of a “miraculous recovery”, which has rarely been seen documented photographically: María Corina freed herself of the “therapeutic collar”, and her little nose was as straight and white as ever.
Even so, the parliamentarian took advantage of the occasion to indulge in some cosmetic surgery which she had already put off for several years, due to her “hard work” as opponent of the Bolivarian government.
Gee, maybe I should ask MariCori what saints she prays to. It’s obvious that she has much more of a direct line to God than the rest of us mere mortals. (Or at least, to Washington…)
Meanwhile, MariCori’s co-religionist, Julio Borges, got enough of a black eye for both of them:
“I demand a recount of the beatings!”
PS: Here is what MariCori would look like with an actual broken nose (and corrective surgery):
As you can see above (and in last week’s entry), she looks nowhere near as bad as that.
First, a classic (rock) rendition of a familiar Mexican song:
And here’s a speeded-up version from three decades later, with really great guitars (and don’t miss the classical mariachi quartet at the end):
And now, the rebel version:
Gringo imperialism took it on the jaw a long time ago, as far as culture is concerned. The Mexicans aren’t merely coming back; they never left!