February 23, 2018
The Bolivarian social and political movement first led by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and holding state power since1999 has long faced U.S. assaults. They’ve ranged from U. S. support for an unsuccessful military coup in 2002, backing for violent street disturbances, U.S. moneys assigned to political opponents, and U.S. economic sanctions against Venezuelan political leaders. Now the U.S. government may be on the verge of blocking Venezuelan oil sales in the United States.
One avenue for altering Venezuela’s government seems to be closing. Political forces rooted in Venezuela’s business class and mobilized against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are flailing. But another has yielded results. Years of shortages at the hands of bankers and commercial interests have led to suffering and distress such that serious destabilization, their goal, may be at hand. Terrible inflation and real hardship for most Venezuelans may be the cue for military intervention billed as humanitarian.
It’s evident from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit February 1-8 to Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, and Jamaica that the United States sees action ahead, and soon. In Austin, Texas, en route, he noted that, “The corrupt and hostile regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela clings to a false dream and antiquated vision for the region that has already failed its citizens.” He noted that, “In the history of Venezuela and in fact the history in other Latin American and South American countries, oftentimes it’s the military that handles that, that when things are so bad that the military leadership realizes they just – they can’t serve the citizens anymore, they will manage a peaceful transition.”
A day later in Mexico City he charitably mentioned that, “If President Maduro would return to the Venezuelan constitution, restore the duly elected assembly, dismantle the illegitimate constituent assembly, and return to free, fair elections, then he’s happy to stay.”
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, never shy about regime change in Venezuela, tweeted that, “The world would support the Armed Forces in Venezuela if they decide to protect the people & restore democracy by removing a dictator.”
But as Tillerson arrived in Colombia on February 6 there was a snag. Having negotiated intermittently for two years, representatives of Venezuela’s government and of rightwing opposition parties, meeting in the Dominican Republic, had reached an agreement. It called for “rejection of foreign intervention,” electoral guarantees, common defense against economic sanctions, and “end of economic warfare.” The negotiators agreed also on a date for upcoming presidential elections.
Then Julio Borges, representing the opposition negotiators, took a telephone call from Tillerson in Bogota. He was ordered to call off the agreement.
On February 13, the Lima Group – Latin America and Caribbean nations supporting U.S. neo-liberal objectives – announced they wouldn’t recognize the results of Venezuela’s presidential elections set for April 22. Polling data gives President Maduro a 55 percent advantage.
At that meeting the Peruvian foreign minister disinvited President Maduro from attending an Organization of American States summit meeting in April hosted by Peru.
Admiral Kurt Tidd, head of the U.S. Southern Command, met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and other officials in Bogota on February 8-9. Venezuela presumably was on the agenda. Testifying before the Senate Armed Forces Committee in 2017, Kidd opined that, “The growing crisis in Venezuela could eventually require a regional response.”
Colombia is taking the lead in publicizing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Officials point to thousands of hungry and destitute Venezuelans crossing into Colombia’s eastern cities and departments. In fact, many are Colombians who long ago had moved to Venezuela because of threats to their survival in Colombia.
Santos is anathema to defenders of the Bolivarian process. He “has opted to be the spokesperson for the White House with its constant aggression,” according to former Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vincent Rangel, and “He’s mixed up in our internal politics on a daily basis, and brazenly so.”
In recent weeks Colombia’s government has sent 3000 troops to Cúcuta and Catatumbo, regions on Colombia’s border with Venezuela. Extra paramilitary forces are moving in. In January the United States sent 415 marines to Panama. They will be staying until June, 2018 as part of the military’s humanitarian intervention program called New Horizons. U.S. troops have long been in place in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curazao, Dutch-owned islands located off Venezuela’s northern coast. Brazil is deploying soldiers to its northern border with Venezuela. The United States has its own troops and military bases in Colombia.
The U.S. Southern Command in November organized training exercises for U.S. Brazilian, Peruvian, and Colombian troops in Tabatinga, a Brazilian town on the Amazon River. They were preparing a base to be available for future humanitarian operations.
The question remains: why is the United States focused on Venezuela? U.S. concerns have ranged from Venezuela as center for international drug trafficking, as safe harbor for Islamic terrorists, as owner of bountiful oil deposits no longer under U.S. control. Surely power brokers in Washington are no fans of a government claiming socialism as one goal and continent-wide unity as another. They were never happy with Venezuela’s promotion of regional alliances for the sake of social programs and protection of sovereignty.
The role of China in propping up Venezuela’s problem – ridden oil industry may be especially galling to the U.S. government, in part due to concerns that China is displacing the United States as Latin America’s main trading partner. Indeed, “In seven Latin American countries, China has surpassed the United States as the main destination for exports,” according to one analyst. And, “Eight Latin American countries now import more from China than they do from the United States.”
Surveying the scene, Ángel Guerra Cabrera, a Cuban political journalist living in Mexico, asserts that Venezuela “is the Spanish Republic of today.” As in the 1930s, “a decisive struggle is underway in Venezuela for democracy and self determination of the peoples.”
The United States should cut all ties with war criminal Israel
By Philip Giraldi
April 04, 2018, Information Clearing House –
If you want to understand what the “special relationship” between Israel and the United States really means consider the fact that Israeli Army snipers shot dead seventeen unarmed and largely peaceful Gazan demonstrators on Good Friday without a squeak coming out of the White House or State Department. Some of the protesters were shot in the back while running away, while another 1,000 Palestinians were wounded, an estimated 750 by gunfire, the remainder injured by rubber bullets and tear gas.
The offense committed by the Gazan protesters that has earned them a death sentence was coming too close to the Israeli containment fence that has turned the Gaza strip into the world’s largest outdoor prison. President Donald Trump’s chief Middle East negotiator David Greenblatt described the protest as “a hostile march on the Israel-Gaza border…inciting violence against Israel.” And Nikki Haley at the U.N. has also used the U.S. veto to block any independent inquiry into the violence, demonstrating once again that the White House team is little more than Israel’s echo chamber. America’s enabling of the brutal reality that is today’s Israel makes it fully complicit in the war crimes carried out against the helpless and hapless Palestinian people.
So where was the outrage in the American media about the massacre of civilians? Characteristically, Israel portrays itself as somehow a victim and the U.S. media, when it bothers to report about dead Palestinians at all, picks up on that line. The Jewish State is portrayed as always endangered and struggling to survive even though it is the nuclear armed regional superpower that is only threatened because of its own criminal behavior. And even when it commits what are indisputable war crimes like the use of lethal force against an unarmed civilian population, the Jewish Lobby and its media accomplices are quick to take up the victimhood refrain.
Last week, the Israeli government described the protests an “an organized terrorist operation” while Gazans are dehumanized by claims that they act under the direction of evil Hamas to dig tunnels and rain down bottle rockets on hapless Israeli civilians. The reality is, however, quite different. It is the Gazans who have been subjected to murderous periodic incursions by the Israeli army, a procedure that Israel refers to as “mowing the grass,” a brutal exercise intended to keep the Palestinians terrified and docile.
The story of what happened in Gaza on Friday had largely disappeared from the U.S. media by Sunday. On Saturday, The New York Times reported the most recent violence this way: “…some began hurling stones, tossing Molotov cocktails and rolling burning tires at the fence, the Israelis responded with tear gas and gunfire.” Get it? The Palestinians started it all, according to Israeli sources, by throwing things at the fence and forcing the poor victimized Israeli soldiers to respond with gunfire, presumably as self-defense. The Times also repeated Israel’s uncorroborated claims that there were gunmen active on the Gazan side, but given the disparity in numbers killed and injured – zero on the Israeli side of the fence – the Palestinian shooters must have been using blanks. Or they never existed at all.
The Israelis reportedly also responded to “suspicious figures” on the Gazan side with rounds from tanks, killing, among others, a farmer far from the demonstrations who was working his field. Israeli warplanes and helicopters also joined in the fun, attacking targets on the Palestinian side. Drones flew over the demonstrators, spraying tear gas down on them. One recalls that the major Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014 included vignettes of Israeli families picnicking on the high ground overlooking the assault, enjoying the spectacle while observing the light-and-sound show that accompanied the carnage. At that time, more than 2,000 Gazans were killed and nearly 11,000 were wounded, including 3,374 children, of whom over 1,000 were permanently disabled.. If the current slaughter in Gaza continues, it would be a shame to forego the entertainment value of a good massacre right on one’s doorstep.
The reliably neocon Washington Post also framed the conflict as if Israel were behaving in a restrained fashion, leading off in its coverage with “Israel’s military warned Saturday it will step up its response to violence on the Gaza border if it continues…” You see, it’s the unarmed Palestinians who are creating the “violence.” Israel is the victim acting in self-defense.
The newspaper coverage was supplemented by television accounts of what had taken place. ABC News described “violent clashes,” implying that two somewhat equal sides were engaged in the fighting, even though the lethal force was only employed by Israel against an unarmed civilian population.
The backstory to the killing is what should disturb every American citizen. When it comes to disregard for United States national sovereignty and interests, the Israelis and their amen chorus in Washington have dug a deep, dark hole and the U.S. Congress and White House have obligingly jumped right in. Since June 8, 1967, when the Israelis massacred the crew of the U.S.S. Liberty, Israel has realized it could do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, wherever it wants, any time it wants, to anybody…including American servicemen, and the U.S. would do nothing.
Let me speak plainly. The existence of many good Israelis to who oppose their own government’s policies notwithstanding, the current Israel is an evil place that Americans should be condemning, not praising. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should not be receiving 29 standing ovations from Congress. He should be rotting in jail. Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy and dehumanization of the Palestinian people is nothing to be proud of. That the United States is giving this band of racist war criminals billions of dollars every year is a travesty. That the reputation of American has been besmirched worldwide because of its reflexive support of anything and everything that this rogue regime does is a national disgrace.
Gazans are demonstrating in part because they are starving. They have no clean drinking water because Israel has destroyed the purification plants as part of a deliberate policy to make life in the Strip so miserable that everyone will leave or die in place. And even leaving is problematical as Israel controls the border and will not let Palestinians enter or depart. It also controls the Mediterranean Sea access to Gaza. Fisherman go out a short distance from the shore to bring in a meager catch. If they go any farther they are shot dead by the Israeli Navy.
Hospitals, schools and power stations in Gaza are routinely bombed in Israel’s frequent reprisal actions against what Netanyahu chooses to describe as aggressive moves by Hamas. Such claims are bogus as Israel enjoys a monopoly of force and is never hesitant to use it.
Over in the other Palestinian enclave the West Bank, or what remains of it, the story is the same. Brutal heavily armed Israeli settlers rampage, poisoning Palestinian water, maiming and killing their livestock and even murdering local residents. Children throw stones or slap a soldier and wind up in Israeli prisons. The settlers are backed up by the army and paramilitary police who also shoot first. The Israeli military courts, who have jurisdiction over the occupied West Bank, rarely convict a Jew when an Arab is killed or beaten.
And here in America a bought-and-paid-for Congress continues to do its bit. Last week President Trump signed the so-called Taylor Force Act, part of the marathon spending bill, which will cut aid going to the Palestinian Authority while also increasing the money going to Israel. Back in January, Congress had also cut the funding going to support Palestinians who are still living in U.N. run refugee camps in spite of resolutions demanding that they should be allowed to return to their homes, now occupied by Israeli Jews. During the perfunctory debate on the measure, Congressmen were lied to by pro-Israel lobbyists who claimed that Arabs are terrorism supporters and use the money to attack Israelis.
I could go on and on, but the message should be clear to every American. There is no net gain for the United States in continuing the lopsided and essentially immoral relationship with the self-styled Jewish State. There is no enhancement of American national security, quite the contrary, and there remains only the sad realization that the blood of many innocent people is, to a considerable extent, on our hands. This horror must end.