This week has seen a ramping up by U.S. imperialism and the Colombian government of what Venezuela has called a cheap "humanitarian aid" show. It kicked off with a photo flashed around the world of an empty six-lane bridge linking Colombia and Venezuela with the trailers of three transport trucks placed across it, blocking all six lanes. The photo was used by CNN and other monopoly media to accuse President Nicolás Maduro of preventing humanitarian aid from entering Venezuela from the Colombian border city of Cúcuta where, all week long, truckloads of goods -- auspices of USAID -- were shown arriving. A little investigation revealed that the bridge, a joint project of the Venezuelan and Colombian governments, has never been open since it was completed in 2016 and that there are two other functioning bridges nearby.
The use of what is called "aid" to intervene in countries it has targeted for regime change is something the U.S. specializes in. The person appointed by Donald Trump to spearhead the current aggression against Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, is the same liar and war criminal who organized the shipping of weapons under the cover of "aid" to assassins the U.S. illegally funded and armed to massacre innocent people and those resisting its dirty Contra war in Nicaragua in the 1980s.
In what has been referred to as a "test" of the
Armed Forces, U.S. puppet Juan Guaidó, calling himself the
"president in charge" of Venezuela, has announced that on
23 the "humanitarian aid" the U.S. has been depositing at the
Colombian border will enter Venezuela "no matter what." How he
proposes to make that happen beyond issuing ultimatums to the
Bolivarian Armed Forces that they have until then to mutiny
against their Commander-in-Chief, Nicolás Maduro, is open
speculation. Guaidó has already let it be known that he
prepared to call for a U.S. military intervention if necessary to
rescue his fraudulent "transitional" government.
The latest reports are that this weekend three
Force C-17 cargo planes landed in Cúcuta with more USAID
packages to add to those already deposited in warehouses there.
operations are either in progress or planned in Roraima State in
close to the Venezuelan border and the Caribbean island of
Curaçao where the U.S. has an Air Force base.
Venezuelans are denouncing all these machinations as psychological warfare aimed at convincing naive minds (especially outside the country), unaware of the reality, that the U.S. coup is a virtual fait accompli; that the Bolivarian Armed Forces are defecting in droves to Guaidó and his imaginary government or -- because there is no evidence of this -- are waiting to make their move as soon as the first dominoes fall. Unfazed, the Venezuelan government has said it will not allow entry into the country of so-called humanitarian aid from the U.S. government or others participating in the illegal economic, financial and commercial blockade and theft of Venezuela's overseas assets, saying Venezuelans are not beggars. It has also made clear that it, along with the organized Venezuelan people, stand ready to defend the country against any attempt to invade its territory by land, sea or air.
Colombian President Weighs In
During an official visit to Washington this week Colombian president Ivan Duque, the protégé of Alvaro Uribe Velez, past president and an avowed enemy of peace and reconciliation in his own country, made a number of provocative assertions. Among other things he went to the U.S. to accept an award from a group of anti-Cuba mercenaries for his alleged defence of democratic values in the region and to hold talks with Donald Trump. While he was there he announced that the Lima Group will meet in the coming week in Bogotá.
In a joint statement, Trump and Duque said their countries are working together to provide aid to Venezuelans in need and that both would work with "the Guaidó government" to restore freedom, democracy, and prosperity to Venezuela. They stated that the U.S. and Colombia stand side by side with many other nations "in the face of any provocation by the illegitimate, former dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and those who work on his behalf to undermine the security and safety of the region."
In an interview with Fox TV, Duque said he would
support caravans Juan Guaidó is organizing to bring
"starving Venezuelans" on February 23. He also invited shipments
what he called humanitarian aid from all those who wished to send
adding that "we must ensure it reaches Venezuela." He said
Nicolás Maduro's refusal to accept the phony "humanitarian
sent by the U.S. was a crime against humanity. Everything he said
in the face of statements made by the Red Cross and UN officials
what the U.S. has been organizing at the border, with his
connivance, should not be mistaken for a humanitarian gesture but
served only to discredit the notion of what humanitarian aid is.
of comparison, the Venezuelan Health Ministry took delivery of
tonnes of real humanitarian aid on February 15. TeleSUR reports
U.S.$28 million worth of medical equipment and spare parts
international partners in Cuba, China, Russia, Palestine, Turkey,
others” arrived by ship in the port of La Guaira.
Another thing Duque did was repeat the lying script of the Lima Group that Nicolás Maduro is isolated, with "the whole international community" agreeing he is "a dictator," "illegitimate" and needs to step down. Revealing what he meant by the international community, Duque named the U.S., Canada and others who he claimed made up "the great majority" of countries of the hemisphere (with no evidence of that) and of the European Union. According to this racist logic over a dozen Caribbean countries, including Cuba, Mexico, Bolivia, Nicaragua and others in the Americas, as well as China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and many others all over Asia and virtually all of Africa are not part of "the international community" -- nor of course are millions of patriotic Venezuelans and citizens in their hundreds of millions around the world who surely oppose violations of the UN Charter and calls for the violation of Venezuela's constitution by governments claiming to act in their names. Wishing them all away is one thing, but making it happen is quite another.
1. The group that sponsors the Oswaldo Payá Freedom and Life Award says Duque was chosen for his activism in the Lima Group and "for raising his voice in defence of just and democratic institutional values." He was also chosen for "the exemplary solidarity that he has shown, giving refuge to thousands of Venezuelans who have escaped tyranny in their homeland." The group's leader is quoted in an article about Duque getting the award saying that "the Cuban dictatorship is the destabilizing centre in the hemisphere and the cause of the Venezuelan democratic collapse."
(With files from Venezuelanalysis, CubaDecide.)
General Endes Palencia Ortiz of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Guard.
On February 5, the Venezuelan National Guard seized the assault weapons at the airport in a routine customs check carried out by the National Integrated Service of Customs and Tax Administration (SENIAT), according to a statement by the Carabobo state governor's office. U.S. arms have been embargoed from Venezuela since 2006.
According to a detailed report from McClatchy News, quoting the governor's statement, the contraband shipment included 15 AR-15 assault weapons, a Micro Draco semi-automatic pistol with a jumbo magazine, a Colt 7.62 rifle, two telescopic sights, three rifle scopes, 118 ammunition cartridges and stands for long-range targeting and sniping. Also found were 90 wireless military-grade radio antennas and six iPhones. 21 Air's Boeing 767 has a payload capacity of 42 tons. What else was carried or unloaded, if anything, has not been revealed, nor what was unloaded at the freight terminal in Medellín, Colombia.
"This materiel was destined for criminal groups and terrorist actions in the country, financed by the fascist extreme right and the government of the United States," General Palencia Ortiz was quoted as saying. He added that the information was now in the hands of a national prosecutor. He did not reveal whether any prior shipments had been intercepted.
Similar arms caches destined for opposition forces in Venezuela were intercepted in 2014.
1. "Air America: Venezuelan officials find large cache of weapons at airport delivered from Miami," Tony Seed's Weblog, February 11, 2019.
2. Abrams later gave the green light to the attempted coup d'état of the popular government of Hugo Chávez in 2002, was involved in the planning of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and then joined the board of the National Endowment for Democracy, which has funnelled millions of dollars to the opponents of the Venezuelan government.
Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/contra Matters: Chapter 25: United States V. Elliott Abrams: November 1986, 8/4/1993.
Addressing a celebration on February 15 marking the bicentenary of the Angostura Conference -- where in the midst of the fight for independence from Spain, Latin American liberator Simon Bolívar delivered a famous speech -- President Nicolás Maduro said the [U.S.] empire has gone mad, believing that the times of the 20th century gunboats and coups can be revived. But, he said, Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution is giving the world an exemplary class in politics on how to defend one's homeland at a decisive moment for its self-determination. He said the White House has entered an impasse, its coup d'état has failed and that the only way to resolve political controversies and find possible solutions is through dialogue, understanding and respect. He said he is at the disposal of the Montevideo Mechanism put forward by Mexico, CARICOM, Uruguay and Bolivia on February 6, prepared to come with constructive proposals to seek peace and harmony in Venezuela.
(Ministry of People's Power for Foreign Affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Prensa Latina)
On February 14, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, accompanied by counterparts from several other countries, large and small, announced that a new group of UN member states making up the majority of the world's population have come together out of a common concern for the need to maintain respect for the principles of international law. The group held a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York. Reading a statement on the group's behalf, Arreaza announced the countries are launching a new diplomatic initiative to defend the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, and the right of peoples everywhere to live in peace, without interference and free from the threat or use of force. He said that the group will be organizing a strategy not just for the defence of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and its people but in the interests of peoples everywhere.
Minister Arreaza referenced relevant articles of the UN Charter:
- Respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace (Article 1.2);
- Respect for the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members (Article 2.1);
- Settle international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered (Article 2.3);
- Refrain in international relations from the threat or use of force against a State (Article 2.4);
- Respect the territorial integrity or political
independence of any States (Article 2.4); and
- Non-intervention in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state (Article 2.7).
Arreaza called on all the member states of the UN to unite in defence of international law as the only guarantee of the peaceful coexistence of humankind.
After concluding the announcement on behalf of the new group, Arreaza said the principles cited and other aims of the UN Charter are being openly violated by foreign powers interfering in Venezuela's affairs. "We are a sovereign country, we are going to protect our people in spite of all the threats," he said. Addressing media outlets, who he said have joined the interventionist campaign, he asked that they cease their rhetoric and not contribute to the bloodshed in Venezuela.
(Ministry of People's Power for Foreign Affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Prensa Latina)
If I know anything, it is about people, because like yourselves, I am a man of the people. I was born and raised in a poor neighbourhood of Caracas. I was forged in the heat of popular and union struggles in a Venezuela submerged in exclusion and inequality. I am not a tycoon, I am a worker in thought and heart. Today I have the great privilege of presiding over the new Venezuela, rooted in a model of inclusive development and social equality, envisioned by Commander Hugo Chávez since 1998, inspired by the Bolivarian legacy.
We are living in a historic moment. In the coming days the future of our countries will be defined, as one of war or peace. Your national representatives in Washington want to bring to your borders the same hatred they sowed in Vietnam. They want to invade and intervene in Venezuela -- they say, as they said then -- in the name of democracy and freedom. But it's not like that. The story of the usurpation of power in Venezuela is as false as the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It is a false case, but it can have dramatic consequences for our entire region.
Venezuela is a country that, by virtue of its 1999 Constitution, has broadly expanded the participatory and protagonistic democracy of the people and, something unprecedented, is today one of the countries that has held the largest number of elections in the last 20 years. You might not like our ideology or the way we look, but we exist and we are millions.
I address these words to the people of the United States of America to warn of the gravity and danger of some sectors in the White House considering an invasion of Venezuela, with unpredictable consequences for my country and for the entire American region. President Donald Trump also intends to disrupt the noble dialogue initiatives promoted by Uruguay and Mexico, with the support of CARICOM, for a peaceful solution and dialogue in favour of Venezuela. We know that for the good of Venezuela we have to sit down and talk because to refuse to dialogue is to choose the path of force. Keep in mind the words of John F. Kennedy: "Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate." Are those who do not want to dialogue afraid of the truth?
The political intolerance towards the Venezuelan
Bolivarian model and the appetite for our immense oil resources,
minerals, and other great riches, has prompted an international
coalition, headed by the U.S. government, to commit the serious
insanity of militarily attacking Venezuela under the false
pretext of a
non-existent humanitarian crisis.
The people of Venezuela have suffered painful social wounds caused by a criminal commercial and financial blockade, which has been aggravated by the seizure and theft of our financial resources and assets in countries aligned with this demented onslaught.
And yet, thanks to a new system of social protection, of direct attention to the most vulnerable sectors, we proudly continue to be a country with a high human development index and one of the lowest inequality indices in the Americas.
The U.S. people must know that this complex multifaceted aggression is carried out with total impunity and in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations, which expressly outlaws the threat or use of force, among its other principles and aims, for the sake of peace and friendly relations between Nations.
We want to continue being business partners of the people of the United States, as we have been throughout our history. Your politicians in Washington, on the other hand, are willing to send your sons and daughters to die in an absurd war, instead of respecting the sacred right of the Venezuelan people to self-determination and to safeguard their sovereignty.
Like you, people of the United States, we
are patriots. And we shall defend our homeland with every piece
soul. Today Venezuela is united in a single clamour: we demand a
to the aggression that seeks to suffocate our economy and
suffocate our people, as well as the grave and dangerous threats
military intervention against Venezuela. We appeal to the good
U.S. society, a victim of its own leaders, to join our call for
let us be all one people against warmongering and war.
Long Live the Peoples of America!
(February 6, 2019, Slightly edited for style by TML.)
The Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Cuba condemns the escalation of pressures and actions of the U.S. government in preparation for a military adventure under the guise of a humanitarian intervention in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and calls on the international community to mobilize in order to prevent its consummation.
Between February 6 and 10, several military transport aircraft have been flying to the Rafael Miranda Airport in Puerto Rico; the San Isidro Air Base in the Dominican Republic and to other Caribbean Islands that have a strategic location, most certainly without the knowledge of the governments of those nations. These flights took off from U.S. military facilities from where Special Operation Troops and U.S. Marine Corps units operate. These units have been used for covert operations, even against leaders of other countries.
Media and political circles, even in the U.S., have revealed that extremist figures of that government with a long history of actions and slanders aimed at causing or instigating wars, such as John Bolton, U.S. National Security Advisor, and Mauricio Claver-Carone, Director of the National Security Council's Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs, counting on the connivance of Marco Rubio, Senator of the anti-Cuban mafia of Florida, designed, directly and thoroughly organized and obtained the funds, from their posts in Washington, for the attempted coup d'état in Venezuela by means of the illegal self-proclamation of a president.
They are the same ones who, either personally or
Department, have been putting brutal pressure on numerous
governments to force them to support the arbitrary call for new
presidential elections in Venezuela, while promoting recognition
usurper who barely earned 97,000 votes as a
parliamentarian, against the more than 6 million Venezuelans who
elected Constitutional President Nicolás Maduro Moros last
After the resistance put up by the Bolivarian and Chavista people to the coup, evidenced by the mass demonstrations in support of President Maduro and the loyalty of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces, the U.S. Government has intensified its international political and media campaign and strengthened unilateral economic coercive measures against Venezuela, among them the blocking of Venezuelan funds in third countries' banks, which are worth billions of dollars; and the theft of the oil revenues of that sister nation, which are causing grave humanitarian damage and harsh deprivation to its people.
In addition to this cruel and unjustifiable
intends to fabricate a humanitarian pretext in order to launch a
military aggression against Venezuela and is seeking to introduce
the territory of that sovereign nation -- by resorting to
intimidation, pressure and force -- to alleged humanitarian aid
which is a thousand times inferior, compared to the economic
damage provoked by the siege imposed from Washington.
The usurper and self-proclaimed president shamelessly announced his disposition to call for a U.S. military intervention under the pretext of receiving the aforementioned humanitarian aid; and has described the sovereign and proud rejection of that manoeuvre as a crime against humanity.
U.S. high officials have been arrogantly and blatantly reminding us all, day after day, that when it comes to Venezuela, all options are on the table, including military action.
In the process of fabricating pretexts, the U.S. government has resorted to deception and slanders, for it presented a draft resolution at the UN Security Council, which cynically and hypocritically expresses deep concern about the human rights and humanitarian situation, ... the recent attempts to block the delivery of humanitarian aid, the millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, the excessive use of force against peaceful protesters, the breakdown of regional peace and security in Venezuela, and urges it to take the necessary steps.
It is obvious that the United States is paving the way to forcibly establish a humanitarian corridor under international supervision, invoke the obligation to protect civilians and take all necessary steps.
It is worth recalling that similar behaviours and pretexts were resorted to by the U.S. during the prelude to the wars it launched against Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya, which resulted in tremendous human losses and caused enormous suffering.
The U.S. government attempts to remove the biggest obstacle -- the Bolivarian and Chavista Revolution -- to the imperialist domination of Our America and deprive the Venezuelan people of the largest certified oil reserve on the planet and numerous strategic natural resources.
It would be impossible to forget the sad and painful history of U.S. military interventions perpetrated more than once in Mexico, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Honduras and, most recently, Grenada and Panama.
As was warned by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz on July 14, 2017: The aggression and coup violence against Venezuela harm all of Our America and only benefit the interests of those set on dividing us in order to exercise their control over our peoples, unconcerned about causing conflicts of incalculable consequences in this region, like those we are seeing in different parts of the world.
History will severely judge a new imperialist military intervention in the region and the complicity of those who might irresponsibly support it.
What is at stake today in Venezuela is the sovereignty and dignity of Latin America and the Caribbean and the peoples of the South. Equally at stake is the survival of the rules of International Law and the UN Charter. What is being defined today is whether the legitimacy of a government emanates from the express and sovereign will of its people or from the recognition of foreign powers.
The Revolutionary Government calls for an international mobilization in defence of peace in Venezuela and the region, based on the principles enshrined in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, which was adopted by the Heads of State and Government of CELAC in 2014.
It likewise welcomes and supports the Montevideo Mechanism, an initiative promoted by Mexico, Uruguay, the Caribbean Commonwealth (CARICOM) and Bolivia, which seeks to preserve peace in Venezuela based on the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of States, legal equality of States and the peaceful resolution of conflicts, as stated in its recent Declaration.
It welcomes the positive consideration given to said initiative by President Maduro Moros and the international community and expresses its concern about the categorical rejection by the U.S. government of the initiatives of dialogue promoted by several countries, including this.
The Revolutionary Government reiterates its firm and unwavering solidarity with Constitutional President Nicolás Maduro Moros, the Bolivarian and Chavista Revolution and the civic and military unity of its people and calls upon all peoples and governments of the world to defend Peace and put up a joint opposition, over and above political or ideological differences, to a new military and imperialist intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean which will harm the independence, sovereignty and interests of all peoples from Rio Bravo to Patagonia.
Havana, February 12, 2019
(Slightly edited for style and grammar by TML.)
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador explained his government's position on the situation in Venezuela earlier this week in response to a call by members of the Venezuelan opposition that Mexico abandon its position of recognizing President Nicolás Maduro's government. López Obrador reiterated what he has said before, that it is not a question of his opinion, but what Mexico's constitution calls for.
Our position, he said, is defined by the constitution, which establishes in its article 89, that the country's foreign policy is based on the principles of non-intervention, self-determination, peaceful solution of controversies, cooperation for development, and the protection of human rights.
That is our position and it has to do with our history, he said. It may be that other nations with another history see that as something superficial, he added, that can be changed according to circumstances, but for us it is part of the lessons of history. He said that is the meaning of Benito Juárez's phrase that among individuals, as among nations, peace means respecting the rights of others. That is my position and it will continue to be the position of Mexico's government, he said.
López Obrador said his government wants the sides in Venezuela to talk, for there to be a peaceful solution, with no use of force and no violence, and an opportunity for diplomacy and dialogue. On the issue of humanitarian aid, he said it should not be mixed with political or ideological positions. He said, in his opinion, the UN should be used for this and all humanitarian aid given to the Venezuelan people as well as to others worldwide who have need of it.
As part of the brutal information war on Venezuela and other questions, Global Affairs, the Canadian foreign affairs ministry, denied accreditation to the South American news agency TeleSUR and blocked it from covering the highly irregular meeting of its Lima Group in Ottawa on Monday, February 4. In addition, three Russian news agencies were prohibited from attending the official press conference.
On February 3, TeleSUR, which describes itself as "a news outlet that provides coverage on a historically underreported range of topics with a focus on the Global South," reported that no reasons were given for the denial.
Canada's foreign ministry issued the same terse response to Russian media outlet Sputnik News as it did RIA Novosti's application for press credentials for the meeting: "Thank you for your interest in the 10th ministerial meeting of the Lima Group in Ottawa. This letter is to inform you have not been accredited as media." It leads one to ask what is really on the agenda of the closed door meeting that Global Affairs and the Lima Group have to hide? What is the criteria for this seemingly unprecedented provocation of a Cold War type? What gives this government the right to decide which are the legitimate news agencies and journalists? This act sets an extremely dangerous precedent.
Different reasons for denying credentials are being given by Global Affairs, which are incoherent, inconsistent and contradictory. The CBC reported "A Canadian government official told CBC News that TeleSUR was not granted access because it is a state-sponsored propaganda outlet." The CBC is a state-owned Crown corporation.
TASS, the Russian media agency, whose correspondent is resident in Ottawa, was also denied credentials. President of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery Philippe-Vincent Foisy, a Radio-Canada reporter, told CBC News that ITAR-TASS is an accredited member of the gallery and the failure to accredit the outlet was a source of concern. "The gallery will be seeking explanations from [Global Affairs Canada] to safeguard the access expected for gallery members. If ITAR-TASS was indeed denied accreditation it is problematic," he said. "I would note that Canada could set an example for all by embracing access to reporters even from state press agencies or others they don't necessarily agree with, as long as there are no security concerns."
In addition, Richard Walker, Canadian spokesperson for the Lima Group, according to Sputnik, had responded by saying that the Russian news outlet was rejected for a "lack of respect to the Canadian Foreign Minister." Canada commits despicable acts and then its thin-skinned representatives fear the words that describe them. It would have been odd indeed if the Russian journalists and media had not been disrespectful to a government that is a member of a military bloc that has massed tens of thousands of troops on its borders, and votes against UN resolutions condemning the glorification of Nazis. If "lack of respect" was a crime, few journalists in Canada would survive.
The Lima Group is a self-appointed grouplet of countries cobbled together by Canada and Peru in August 2017 outside the United Nations and outside the Organization of American States. Its sole aim is to unify the external and internal forces aiming for regime change of the constitutional government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in violation of international law and the UN Charter. The U.S. and Canadian governments have launched an international information campaign to champion this objective that utilizes their diplomatic missions, the internet, social media, and the monopoly mainstream media networks. In parallel, U.S.-owned and operated "social media" monopolies, using conspiracy theories and propaganda masked as "intelligence," are intensifying censorship of news and thought about Venezuela.
At the February 4 press conference announcing the illegitimate coup plan of the Lima Group, Freeland self-righteously declared to the Canadian and international media, referencing a protest of two women who had gained access to the press conference, that it showed that "here in Canada we are a democracy. We respect all points of view" -- in contrast to Venezuela, the "dictatorship." She seems to think that Canadians have forgotten the armed force used against Unist'ot'en Indigenous people just last month in British Columbia or the 1,200 people brutally arrested opposing the G-20 Summit in Toronto in 2010.
In its report on the meeting of the Lima Group on February 5, the Globe and Mail reported yet another reason for the censorship: "A senior Canadian government official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said Russian media outlets Sputnik, RIA Novosti and TASS as well as Venezuelan state-owned television station, TeleSUR, were denied access to the Lima Group meeting [February 4] because of concerns they would spread misinformation about the event." So much for "respecting all points of view"!
The accusation of "misinformation" by foreign media aims to divert from the disinformation being carried by the state and the media in its service and its aim to block the empowerment of the people -- in this case how should Canadians discuss and work out solutions to the intervention and aggression by the government in the internal affairs of other peoples and nations. The idea of deception by Russian media in Canada fits perfectly with ongoing government attempts to present public opinion against intervention in Venezuela, U.S. war plans, and NATO as "foreign" and a danger to "national security" on the road to criminalizing it.
Apart from at no time actually explaining just what is meant by its insinuation of "misinformation," the Global Affairs modus operandi is sleazy and the rationale offered by the anonymous and unauthorized "senior Canadian government official" is as unconvincing as the irregular Lima Group; nothing is open and aboveboard.
Over the past year, Freeland, an ex-journalist for the financial media (The Financial Times, The Economist, The Washington Post and The Globe and Mail) and hence somewhat experienced in fashioning false narratives, has made headlines speaking out on behalf of the "courageous" Jamal Khashoggi of the Washington Post (previously a censor for the Saudi regime) and a blogger from Saudi Arabia, and two Reuters journalists in Myanmar in South Asia. Why are these journalists more equal than other journalists? It is a matter of concern that the Canadian government has been virtually silent about the scores of murdered, beaten, arrested, disappeared or deported journalists in Ukraine (from Ukrainian, British, Italian and Russian news agencies), Palestine and South America. It does not consider these journalists part of what it decrees to be the "international community" nor working in its service. The official silence speaks volumes about a contempt for democratic freedom of expression, conscience and information. The extrajudicial killing of journalists is a violation of human rights and international law given impunity by the Government of Canada and Global Affairs.
Nevertheless, the question today arises as to whether or not Global Affairs deems TeleSUR and the three Russian media agencies providers of "fake news" and on the basis of what criteria.
While Global Affairs and the Trudeau government fulminate against "dictatorship" in Venezuela and "fake news," the censorship of foreign news agencies and journalists is part of the dictate being wielded by the government according to NATO edict, as well as the private media monopolies, including social media in their service, to disinform and wreck public opinion in Canada and the Americas, and thus disempower people.
The role and responsibility of journalists cannot be understated either. For example, on a CBC panel on the evening of February 4, John Paul Tasker of CBC News, who admitted that the hoped-for defections from the Venezuelan military "are not serious," openly stated that Canada should intensify its sanctions against Venezuela. "We have to tighten the screws on the people, hit them where it hurts, in the pocket books." This propaganda is a crime against humanity.
The response so far to the arbitrary actions of Global Affairs towards media agencies and journalists is lamentable. None of the journalists assembled at the press conference in Ottawa demanded an accounting from Freeland. The Globe and Mail on February 5 falsely described TeleSUR as a "state-owned television station," as if to justify the denial of accreditation by Global Affairs. The monopoly corporation which runs The Globe and Mail, with major business interests well outside the news business, apparently does not censor news, publish disinformation or blacklist journalists. On World Press Freedom Day 2018, the Toronto Globe and Mail devoted its entire front page to memorializing journalists who had been killed in the preceding year. Noticeably absent were journalists of Russian, Ukrainian, Palestinian, Syrian and Latin American origin.
Canadian journalists should reject the official mantra that journalists must be and are "neutral" as if they are deer frozen in the headlights or stenographers of power. They must speak out as well in support of TeleSUR and other news agencies, rather than discrediting them on the basis of the country of their origin or their employer. There is no journalist who has been denied accreditation nor expelled from Venezuela and the Russian Federation on the basis of employment with the "state-owned" Canadian Broadcasting Corporation nor for "lack of respect" of a foreign minister. What's fair is fair, no?
1. According to Wikipedia, TeleSUR "is a Venezuela-based, multi-state funded, Latin American terrestrial and satellite television network headquartered in Caracas," launched in 2005 as "a socialist answer to CNN."
There have been many cases of media outlets deliberately misreporting what is occurring in Venezuela. One example is the continued misrepresentation of media ownership in Venezuela. More than 70 per cent of the media in Venezuela is privately owned, with 25 per cent being in community hands and only about five per cent being controlled by the state. Forty per cent of households have cable TV -- giving access to Fox and CNN en Espanol. Almost all private media have shown bias in favour of the opposition. A study of the three main private TV stations conducted by the Carter Centre during the 2013 presidential elections, found they dedicated 79 per cent of their election coverage to opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.
In response, TeleSUR pushed back. It pointed out:
"In a recent Supreme Court case from November 2018, Canada's Supreme Court ruled unanimously against a journalist for Vice Canada, Ben Makuch, over his reporting on Islamic State Group terror cell member Farah Shirdon, a Canadian citizen turned Islamist fighter. By court ruling, Makush was required to hand over all documents related to his story which 'sets an extremely worrying precedent and is a blow to press freedom in Canada,' according to Alexandra Ellerbeck, Committee to Protect Journalists' (CPJ) North America program coordinator.
In another case from 2017, TeleSUR notes, "the Canadian police forces were accused of monitoring at least seven journalists, getting access to cellphone records, in a bid by Quebec provincial police to help them solve the case of an informant among their ranks. Canada's denial of press credentials thus follows a pattern of attacks against any journalism that doesn't fall completely in line with government directives."
Along with police spying on journalists, TeleSUR might have added that there is no law guaranteeing freedom of the press in Canada, much less protecting sources.
2. TASS, founded in 1904, is the largest Russian news agency and one of the largest news agencies worldwide, along with Reuters, the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse. TASS is registered as a Federal State Unitary Enterprise, owned by the Government of Russia. Headquartered in Moscow, TASS has 70 offices in Russia and in the Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as 68 bureaus around the world.
The RIA Novosti news service and Sputnik, a multimedia platform, are both owned by Rossiya Sevodnya, a news agency owned and operated by the Russian government, created by an Executive Order of the President of Russia on December 9, 2013. According to the Decree of the President of Russia, the mandate of the new agency is to "provide information on Russian state policy and Russian life and society for audiences abroad." Rossiya Sevodnya was in charge of accreditation of journalists for the 2018 FIFA world championship, a process which went without controversy.
In response to Canada denying credentials to attend the meeting of the Lima Group, Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Sputnik, stated:
"In Canada, they have officially said that they [Sputnik journalists] were denied access to the meeting in Venezuela because our correspondent had not been kind enough to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The entire editorial board has tried for a long time to understand and find out what happened, what the incident was -- and we have not found or remembered anything. Perhaps it was because of the critical articles published by us on Canada's foreign policy, which probably offends the minister. The most critical thing we have found was that one of our authors wrote that Canada became a 51st U.S. state, which largely is fair."
3. Just days before the journalists were barred from the Lima Group's press conferences on Venezuela, Twitter confirmed it had deleted thousands of social media users' accounts. A total of 1,196 Twitter accounts based in Venezuela, suspected of attempting to "influence domestic audiences," were purged in January and a further 764 accounts deleted the week before the Lima Group meeting. Twitter claims its mass purge of accounts was for "engaging in a state-backed influence campaign," though as the website venezuelanalysis.com points out it also admits: "We are unable to definitively tie the accounts located in Venezuela to information operations of a foreign government against another country."
This growing pattern of censorship on Venezuela by the U.S. virtual monopolies was most intense in August 2018, in the context of the attempted assassination by armed drones of President Nicolás Maduro and the entire leadership of the Venezuelan state on August 4. The U.S. government and the media in its service promoted conspiracy theory allegations that the assassination was staged. Fox Sunday News declared, in an interview with U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, "Venezuela's government routinely accuses opposition activists of plotting to attack and overthrow Maduro, a deeply unpopular leader who was recently elected to a new term in office in a vote decried by dozens of nations."
CBC and CTV National News all but openly declared that the assassination attempt simply did not happen. (For the response of the media and politicians encouraged by the attempted murder of President Maduro, see "Venezuela: Politics of Assassination," by Tony Seed, August 5, 2018.)
On August 9, 2018, Facebook suspended the page
Venezuelanalysis.com without credible explanation, targeting a
site that showcases articles sidelined by the mainstream media
Venezuela, with the intent of challenging the regime change bias
such media. The news site observed
it was part of a wider censorship spree in the U.S. that stems
the orchestrated hysteria around Russiagate. It was later
restored, after an official appeal, without explanation. Facebook
also deleted the page for Venezuela's TeleSUR just a few days
later for the second time in 2018, in what began to appear as a
concerted campaign of censorship against sites supporting the
legitimate government of Venezuela. TeleSUR's page was
reinstated a few days later, without an explanation as to why it
had been deleted.
The move appeared part of a Facebook purge, advised by the "Digital Forensic Lab," which is associated with the Atlantic Council, a political wing of NATO based in New York City.
In September 2018, U.S.-owned "social media" continued their campaign of censorship against Venezuelan government accounts and those supporting the Venezuelan government. Twitter, without explanation, blocked the account of the Presidential Press of Venezuela. (Thanks to Maximilian Forte, Encircling Empire, for some of the links.)
The implementation of a system of censorship is being placed in the hands of Facebook and Google. The social media mega-giants have been presenting themselves as a legitimate force to police political discourse. This places censorship outside of the public domain, beyond the reach of public mechanisms that are supposed to provide recourse to such an abuse of police powers.
4. For an indepth discussion on the "Weaponization" of social media, see "NATO on Social Media -- The Threat to Liberal Democracy," TML Weekly, February 24, 2018 -- No. 7.
The utter lawlessness by the U.S. government at the Mexican border is increasing. It includes the president using police powers to impose long-term detention of children in tent camps and extremely cold and unfit facilities; targeting families of the children for deportation though they have committed no crime; continued separation of families, branding parents as gang members; use of tear gas against unarmed families; refusing medical and legal support; and use of troops for immigration purposes. The lawlessness continues despite court orders, further showing that rule of law has been eliminated and police powers prevail. The same can be said of Congressional refusal to take action and instead support or conciliate with the broad attacks on human rights.
In his State of the Union U.S. President Trump continued claiming an invasion is taking place and announced that he is sending another 3,750 troops to the border, putting the total at more than 10,000. New Mexico withdrew its National Guard troops in protest, saying "New Mexico will not take part in the president's charade of border fearmongering."
House leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Chuck Schumer and others are planning a "smart" border wall, with yet more drones and spy towers and other means to target and repress people both sides of the border. It is estimated to cost as much or more than the $5 billion Trump has been demanding. It is also just as racist, arbitrary and unjust as a physical wall. The issue here is that government cannot be relied on to solve any of the problems as it remains dysfunctional and deeply mired in the increasingly bitter factional fights among the rulers and their political representatives.
Trump also hinted that he may well target the Mexican government, saying in his speech that they are providing buses and trucks to bring migrant families to the border. Given his readiness to use force and intervene, the increased numbers of troops are a serious threat to people both sides of the border.
The U.S. has a long history of invading Mexico, particularly at times like the present, when the existing civil war is threatening to become open warfare. Trump is acting to ensure the agents from Custom and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are prepared to do his bidding and carry out illegal and inhumane actions. The operation at the border is a live exercise in doing so. He is striving to do the same with the military, while also bringing all the state and local forces under military command.
In a situation of civil war, who controls the armed forces is a critical issue and the president is acting to ensure that control remains with the president. The objection of New Mexico within the situation, and possibly others in the weeks to come, indicates that the states may well refuse to participate and reserve their National Guard troops for their purposes.
Within this situation, rejecting the notion that troops and drones and spying can in any way provide security is critical. Experience readily shows that what is occurring at the border is greater insecurity, violence and chaos for all concerned. Joining with Pelosi and Schumer for their border wall, or expecting the new Congress to somehow escape its dysfunctional character will not solve problems.
The united actions both sides of the border and the internationalist spirit developing show what is needed. It is by stepping up the fight to defend the rights of all, strengthening unity in action and organizing for a new direction for political affairs that security can be found.
Remove All Troops and Drones from
Our Security Lies in Our Fight for the Rights of All!
Voice of Revolution is a publication of the U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization.
55th Annual Munich Security Conference
The 55th annual Munich Security Conference (MSC) is being held February 15-17. It follows a related conference, the Munich Cyber Security Conference (MCSC), held on February 14. The MSC claims to be "the world's leading forum for debating international security policy." Participants are said to include some 450 "high-profile and senior decision-makers as well as thought-leaders from around the world, including heads of state, ministers, leading personalities of international and non-governmental organizations, high-ranking representatives of industry, media, academia, and civil society." This is similar to the Halifax International Security Forum's sanitized portrayal of itself, which covers up its aggressive nature. The warmongering objectives of the MSC are not lost on the German people and other peoples of Europe, who are again holding anti-war actions throughout the conference, as they have done in previous years.
The MSC was founded on the basis of a Cold War
initially by the U.S., Germany and other NATO members, to advance
and NATO interests, especially opposition to the peoples'
empowerment. Its participants typically include many responsible
imperialist aggression and war crimes. According to this outlook,
peoples of the world and their striving for justice, national
liberation and the flourishing of the human person are not even
considered, even though it is working peoples of the world and
striving that are the decisive factor which opens the path of
Each year, the MSC issues a security report, in which it details what it considers to be important issues and how NATO and allied countries should respond. The title of this year's report, "The Great Puzzle: Who Will Pick Up the Pieces?" conveys the MSC's dismay at the state of the world today, where the old Cold War arrangements and liberal democratic institutions can no longer be made to function. As one reads the report, it becomes clear the crisis facing the European wing of NATO is that it considers it no longer has a reliable partner in the U.S. under the current Trump administration, and therefore has to "pick up the pieces."
In the report's foreword, MSC Chairman Wolfgang
Ischinger puts the finger on the U.S. President's attempts to
tri-polar axis which leaves Europe out of the equation. He states
"the world is not just witnessing a series of smaller and bigger
crises, but that there is a more fundamental problem. Indeed, we
to be experiencing a reshuffling of core pieces of the
order. A new era of great power competition is unfolding between
United States, China, and Russia, accompanied by a certain
vacuum in what has become known as the liberal international
Others are quoted in the report expressing opinions in a similar vein:
"Germany's four-term Chancellor Angela Merkel concedes that 'the well-tried and familiar framework of order is under strong pressure at the moment.' According to Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the situation is even worse: 'That world order that we once knew, had become accustomed to, and sometimes felt comfortable in -- this world order no longer exists.' Many also believe that what is known as the liberal international order has been damaged to such a degree that it is hard to return to the status quo ante. As French President Emmanuel Macron puts it, this is not 'an interlude in history before things return to normal [...] because we are currently experiencing a crisis of the effectiveness and principles of our contemporary world order, which will not be able to get back on track or return to how it functioned before.'"
The report is based on a pretense that the international order subject to globalization is somehow democratic and rules-based if only the Trump administration would play fair. The "leadership vacuum" mentioned in the foreword refers to the U.S. under the Trump presidency, which is explicitly and repeatedly referred to in the report:
- "[...] the U.S. effort to rally 'the noble nations of the world to build a new liberal order' and to oppose authoritarian great powers would be far more credible if President Trump and his administration did not display an irritating enthusiasm for strongmen across the globe."
- "The disdain for international institutions and agreements has repeatedly pitted the U.S. against its major allies in recent years. What these allies see as the only way to tackle global problems, Trump rejects as 'the ideology of globalism.'"
- "In this context, both analysts and policymakers have called on the major liberal-democratic allies of the United States to compensate for the lack of stable U.S. leadership. Countries usually mentioned are the other members of the G7 -- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom -- as well as Australia, South Korea, and the European Union as a whole."
Those the MSC calls on to step up in the absence of that U.S. are also mired in their own crisis and the worldwide crisis of what are called the liberal democratic institutions. Take Canada for example, where the cartel political parties block the people from having any say in the affairs which affect them, and more and more the government is one of police powers.
The MSC, NATO and others are part of the forces that subscribe to the end-of-history thesis, which considers liberal democracy to be the final stage of human society. It is in crisis because real life reveals that liberal democracy, which is supposed to underpin the international system, has failed. Even recognizing this much, it still sees no other option but to try to reanimate liberal democracy, because the end-of-history outlook provides no alternatives. In its report, the MSC writes:
"This is thus the great puzzle: Are we witnessing a great reshuffling of the pieces of the international order? Will the defenders of the post-1945 international order be successful in preserving its main elements and piecing at least some of them back together? Or will the world continue to move closer to, as former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has warned of, a 'perfect storm,' the cumulative effect of several crises happening simultaneously that could destroy the old international system before we have even begun to build a new one?" (TML emphasis.)
The MSC's desperation is such that it goes so far as to write:
"In his Prison Notebooks, the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci wrote: 'The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.' In a way, this is an apt description of world order today."
Quoting Gramsci does not save the MSC and the virulently anti-communist forces it represents from their dilemma because they are not in the service of the New. The crucial part of the analysis, which is properly attributed to Karl Marx, not Gramsci, is that the working class must constitute the nation and vest sovereignty in the people. It must complete the democratic revolution so as to eliminate the role of privilege once and for all in decision-making. This the MSC dares not say.
Much of the MSC's report is preoccupied with the role of China and Russia in the world today which makes its preoccupation essentially no different to those of the Trump administration. China's activities for trade and foreign relations, such as the Belt and Road Initiative, are deemed to encroach on NATO territory and constitute a threat to NATO influence and hegemony over Europe and Asia as well as Africa.
Likewise, the overwhelming decision of the people of Crimea to join Russia is turned on its head and called "Russia's annexation of Crimea," with hysteria created about "Russian troops" being spotted operating in Crimea.
The governments of other countries, such as Syria and Venezuela, are similarly slandered, to justify foreign interference and regime change. So too, the peoples of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean are viewed with condescension as "fair game." In this regard, the MSC reveals its concern to effectively compete with the U.S. interests to acquire the spoils for the narrow imperialist private interests it seeks to serve against those of the U.S. imperialists.
In other words, all that do not or cannot be made to submit to U.S. or NATO dictate, are singled out by the MSC.
What is clear is that the world faces great
this period when the old arrangements have degenerated, and the
working peoples of the world and their organizations continue
their striving to bring into being new human-centred
arrangements that put an end to exploitation, oppression and war.
Bodies like the MSC cannot provide an answer, and are in fact
part of what is blocking the new from coming into being and pose
a real danger to those forces working for social progress. Only
the working people can provide the renewal that humanity
(Photos: Aktionsbündnis gegen die NATO-Sicherheitskonferenz)
Cyber warfare and espionage are inextricably linked to imperialist war and aggression and inter-monopoly competition today. Thus, the fifth annual Munich Cyber Security Conference (MCSC) took place February 14, the day before the Munich Security Conference began. Held under the theme "Security Meltdown -- Paradigm Shift Needed," its focus was cyber security for private interests and monopolies.
A February 6 press release informed that some 200 "international decision-makers from politics, business and science" would take part to discuss "new cyber security practices and security strategies in a changing threat landscape."
"We need a paradigm shift in our security thinking. At the MCSC, we want to discuss with representatives of the various industries how to deal effectively with the growing and complex cyber risks, while minimizing the vulnerability of business to malfunctioning IT systems and digital threats," said Dr. Walter Schlebusch, head of the Munich Security Network, in the days leading up to the conference.
The MCSC says that "the pressure to act is evident in the worldwide dramatic increase in cyber attacks and cyber crime, which cause billions of euros in damages, and endanger the further digitization of the economy and society. But investing in more security alone is not enough. Dealing with today's cyber risks requires new thinking and management approaches, which will be discussed at the MCSC."
The conference program said that its proceedings included several panel discussions. The focus was to include addressing the following questions: What role does the human factor play in cyber security? What are the impact and benefits of new technologies on cyber security? Can more safety and information transparency be achieved in the use and exploitation of data? Can integrated risk management promote more cyber resilience and new management approaches in organizations?
Website: www.cpcml.ca Email: firstname.lastname@example.org