Monday, September 28, 2009

URGENT! MASSIVE REPRESSION IN HONDURAS- 45 DAY STATE OF EMERGENCY IMPOSED BY COUP REGIME

Yesterday, the coup regime in Honduras led by Roberto Micheletti decreed a 45-day state of emergency, suspending all constitutional guarantees, including freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of press and privacy. The Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, where President Zelaya remains in a state of refuge, has been surrounded by repressive regime forces for days now and is under siege. Tear gas bombs and high frequency sounds are being directed towards the embassy in an effort to torture Zelaya out of the building. These violent actions violate the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Consular Affairs, which accords embassies and consulates immunity and prohibits host countries from invading their territory or engaging in attacks against their personnel. On Saturday, September 26th, coup dictator Roberto Micheletti issued an "ultimatum" to Brazilian President Luis Ignacio "Lula" Da Silva, claiming that the coup regime would raid the Brazilian Embassy and strip it of its diplomatic immunity if the Brazilian government does not hand over President Zelaya to the regime. President Lula rejected the illegal demand.

Sunday's decree is a severe turn for the worse in Honduras, as a 45-day state of emergency will allow the coup regime forces to massacre and persecute Hondurans on a widespread scale without restraint by law. So far, since yesterday's decree, the death toll has risen above 100. Television and radio stations opposing the coup regime, such as Radio Globo, have been shut down and journalists have been detained and/or disappeared. The police and military under the coup regime's control are raiding poor communities seeking out supporters of President Zelaya and disappearing them. On Sunday, an Organization of American States (OAS) delegation that was heading into Honduras to attempt negotiations with the coup regime was prohibited from entry and turned back at the airport. Borders have been sealed.

This is an urgent call to activate all political and social emergency networks to organize support for the Honduran people and to further pressure the Obama Administration to withdraw immediately all its economic and military support to Honduras. Just last week, the Pentagon invited the Honduran military - under the control of the coup regime - to continue participating in training exercises with the United States. This is outrageous considering the Honduran military is principally responsible for the widespread human rights abuses taking place in the country since the coup was executed on June 28th. Furthermore, the State Department continues to provide USAID and other funding to NGOs and political parties backing the coup. All aid should be suspended and diplomatic relations and commercial ties should be immediately cut in order to suffocate the regime out of power. The Obama Administration's "ambiguity" and hesitation on Honduras has allowed for a viciously violent and repressive coup regime to dig its power deeper and has resulted in the deaths and injuries of hundreds of Hondurans. Those abuses and crimes are in large part a result of Washington's failure to cease its support for the brutal coup dictatorship.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT AGAINST PRESIDENT CHAVEZ REVEALED ON AL JAZEERA

AL JAZEERA EXCLUSIVE: Colombian Paramilitary Confirms Assassination Plan Against President Chávez, Contracted by Opposition Leader Manuel Rosales
Por Eva Golinger

During a recent news segment, Al Jazeera aired a video obtained from inside Colombia of the interview conducted by police investigators of incarcerated Colombian paramilitary assassin Geovanny Velasquéz Zambrano. During the interview, obtained exclusively by Al Jazeera, the Colombian paramilitary confirmed that a "wealthy Venezuelan politician" named Manuel Rosales, offered him $25 million to assassinate President Chávez by any means. The conversation with Rosales took place at a secret meeting in 1999 with several Colombian paramilitary leaders. Rosales said that he personally would be in charge of the plan to assassinate President Chávez, though the money would come from several sources. The Colombian paramilitary forces involved in the assassination attempt first went for training in Catatumbo, on the border with Venezuela. But in 2004, approximately 100 Colombian paramilitary forces were detained in a farm outside of Caracas belonging to an opposition leader, Robert Alonso, who has often called for the violent overthrow of the Chávez administration. The Colombians were detained and accused of a plot to assassinate the President. They were found with military uniforms, weapons and sufficient ammunition to cause serious damage in the country. Robert Alonso, a Cuban-Venezuelan and brother of the famous actress Maria Conchita Alonso, fled in exile to Miami, where he has remained ever since, continuing to plot violently against President Chávez.

On the video aired by Al Jazeera, the Colombian paramilitary confirms that currently there are around 2500 Colombian paramilitary forces inside Venezuela with the objective of assassinating President Chávez and destabilizing the country.

Although assassination attempts against President Chávez have been denounced on several occasions, the international press and Venezuelan opposition have largely ridiculed such claims. Nevertheless, the presence of Colombian paramilitary members inside Venezuela is widely known. This new revelation, from the mouth of one of the participants, confirms what Venezuela has been denouncing for some time: Colombia has been infiltrating paramilitary forces into the country to destabilize, from the inside, and assassinate the President, when and where possible. This information also confirms that Manuel Rosales did not flee Venezuela and request political asylum in Peru because he was facing corruption charges, but rather because he feared the truth would come out one day about his participation in a plot to assassinate the President. With this information, the Venezuelan government has the right to request Rosales' extradition from Peru, since political asylum cannot be granted to criminals.

See the original Al Jazeera segment here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGprwzQ5UoU&feature=player_embedded#t=142

Monday, September 21, 2009

ZELAYA IS BACK IN HONDURAS - JUST ANNOUNCED!!

President Zelaya is back in Honduras - this just confirmed after a live telephone conversation took place between President Chávez and President Zelaya. The ousted Honduran president has apparently returned to Honduras and made it to the capital city of Tegucigalpa after 2 days of traveling through the mountains and countryside. He is now at the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, waiting to complete his return to power. The coup regime has yet to respond. Zelaya was ousted in a military coup and forced into exiled on June 28, 2009 and has been struggling to return ever since. The people of Honduras have remained in the streets resisting the brutal repressive coup regime, led by Roberto Micheletti, now for almost 3 months. The world community has condemned the coup regime yet has failed to force it to cease its illegal occupation of the Honduran government and allow Zelaya's return to power. Despite Washington's minimal efforts to publicly portray its pressure of the coup regime, it has continued to fund the political parties and NGOs backing the coup, and the Pentagon has continued to fund, train, arm and engage the Honduran military, largely responsible for the coup and the subsequent state of repression. The US occupies a large military base outside of Tegucigalpa, in Palmerola, Soto Cano, which it considers one of its most important operational bases in the region. The airplane carrying President Zelaya illegally took off from this military base on the morning of the coup, with the full knowledge and approval of the Pentagon's forces stationed at Soto Cano.

Zelaya's return to Honduras has been long awaited and fought for by the international community, but particularly by the Honduran people. President Chávez announced that he will activate a plan with other regional governments to ensure Zelaya's safety and full transition back to power. This action comes just as the 64th General Assembly meeting of the United Nations is taking place in New York City, where the majority of Latin American presidents are expected to attend. The Honduran coup was one of the main issues to be addressed at the United Nations meeting.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

US State Department Bankrolls Young Venezuelans to Slander against Chávez in the USA

US State Department Bankrolls Young Venezuelans to Slander against Chávez in the USA

US State Department Bankrolls Young Venezuelans to Slander against Chávez in the USA
By Eva Golinger. Translated from Spanish into English for Axis of Logic by Iris Buehler and revised by Les Blough
Axis of Logic (English); Rebelión (Spanish)
Thursday, Sep 10, 2009


In the midst of an international campaign launched against President Chávez, carried out by the extreme Right from Colombia and supported by Washington, the US State Department has organized and financed the trip of eight young Venezuelan politicians to the USA in order to denounce the Venezuelan government and to strengthen the links between young US Republicans and the Venezuelan Right. The eight young Venezuelan men and women have been selected by the US State Department as part of the program “Democracy for young political leaders”. It is a project of the interchange program “International Visitor Leaders - Venezuela”, which is being used by the Washington administration to recruit and train political actors who would later on promote the North American agenda in Venezuela.

The trip to the USA, during which the young Venezuelans were accompanied by US State Department representatives, lasted three weeks, from August 17th to September 4th. They visited different US cities, meeting with political groups and institutions apart from meetings with the communication media and Washington agencies. The US State Departments' International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) (1) was created by Washington as part of a propaganda initiative aimed at recruiting spokespersons and international political actors willing to promote the imperial agenda. During the program, the participants attended training workshops conducted by political representatives of the USA on representative democracy, freedom of the press (à la USA), and reinforcement of political parties and leadership, amongst other topics.

However, this trip in particular takes place at a moment when the international Right, together with Washington, is carrying out a smear campaign against the Venezuelan government and the Bolivarian Revolution, with emphasis on the figure of President Chávez. In this context, the young Venezuelan men and women, paid and accompanied by the US State Department during their visit, issued statements to the US press, attacking, accusing, and trying to discredit President Chávez and the policies of the Venezuelan government. One of the Venezuelan students, Gabriel Alejandro Gallo Garrido, Director and Coordinator of the National Students Parliament of the capital district, declared to the US press that “We [in Venezuela] don't know how a democracy works... the socialist model of President Hugo Chávez is a joke, and he [Chávez] is lying when he says that he guarantees medical assistance and health for all citizen... The Cuban doctors are no specialists and only provide preventive care”.

Also José Igancio Cayetaño Güedez Yépez, the young vice-president of the political party Un Nuevo Tiempo in the State of Lara, declared to the US press that “the United States has the world's best model of democracy…at least [the USA does] have a system…in Venezuela for someone like me who opposes Chávez, we don't have anything…”.

The visit of the young Venezuelans supported by the US State Department takes place exactly at a moment when the Venezuelan opposition is once again trying to promote destabilization in the country in order to attract international attention. They carried out various violent demonstrations against the recently passed Education Law (Ley Orgánica de Educación, LOE) and a rally titled “No more Chávez” (“NO MÁS CHÁVEZ”) aimed at inciting hatred, violence, destabilization, and the assassination of President Chávez.

It is extremely worrisome that by now the US State Department would overtly finance young men and women who belong to the Venezuelan opposition to make them go to the United States to slander their country and their president. In fact, this is an act that converts these eight men and women into Washington's agents, carrying out a US State Department-funded, destabilization campaign against the Venezuelan government. The young Venezuelans have also been promoting the NO MÁS CHÁVEZ-rally from the USA during their visit. This link doubtlessly confirms that Washington actually is behind the international campaign aimed at vilifying President Chávez and promoting hatred and violence against him as well as his assassination. In addition, this confirms that the US State Department continues to actively finance the opposition's student movement in Venezuela and the political party Un Nuevo Tiempo. These two organizations are the main promoters of destabilization in the country.

The eight young Venezuelan men and women who are being financed by the US State Department on this occasion include:

Zaimar Yulieth Castillo Carvajal, Secretary of Inter-Institutional Affairs of the Venezuelan Law Students Federation (Secretaria de Asuntos Inter-Institucionales de la Federación de Estudiantes de Derecho de Venezuela, FEDEVE);

Gabriel Alejandro Gallo Garrido, Director and Coordinator of the National Students Parliament for the capital district (Director y Coordinador del Parlimento Nacional Estudiantil por el Distrito Capital);

José Ignacio Cayetano Guedez Yépez, Vice-President of the political party Un Nuevo Tiempo in the State of Lara;

Angel de Jesús Paredes Monsalve, member of the Students Council of Political Science, Universidad de Los Andes;

Victor Martin Pérez Moreno, Founding Member, Leader and Coordinator of the Students Movement of the Universidad de Oriente (Líder Fundador y Coordinador del Movimiento Estudiantíl en la Universidad de Oriente);

Anais de los Ángeles Plaza Izquierdo, Coordinator of the National Student Movement, Un Nuevo Tiempo (Coordinadora de Organización del Movimiento Estudiantil Nacional, Un Nuevo Tiempo);

Danny Alejandro Ramirez Contrera, Advisor, Special Security Program of the city of San Cristobal, in the State of Táchira; and

Aimara Tibisay Rivas Palacios, Assistant President of the Federation of University Centers of the Universidad de Los Andes, Mérida (Asistente Presidente de la Federación de Centros Estudiantiles Universitarios of the Universidad de Los Andes, Mérida).
Translator's note:

(1) T.n.: See the information provided at the US State Department's website: Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs: International Visitor Leadership Program.

Original Source in Spanish: Rebelión El Departamento de Estado financia jóvenes venezolanos para hablar mal de Chávez en EEUU; published on September 4th, 2009.

This article has been translated from Spanish into English for Axis of Logic by Iris Buehler and revised by Les Blough, who are members of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Venezuela is the one spot in the world where there is optimism

Venezuela is the one spot in the world where there is optimism

Interview with Josh Simpson and Benji Lewis, two ex US soldiers who fought in combat in Iraq and now publicly oppose Washington’s Global War on Terror
By Eva Golinger

Eva Golinger (EG): Why did you join the Armed Forces in the United States?

Josh: I was really interested in history, in a patriotic sense, World War II, Vietnam.

EG: A romantic vision?

Josh: Yes, even Vietnam, I thought it was a one time thing. I didn’t know about CIA involvement in Latin America, or Mossadegh – that’s common, most people from the US don’t know those things, especially when you are 17. I ended up joining the military also for economic reasons. I joined in July 2001 and was in basic training when Sept. 11th happened, and everything changed.

EG: What did you think?

Josh: I was nervous but excited. I happened to join the military when something big in history was happening. I didn’t understand why 9/11 happened, why we were attacked. I guess that people just hated us for being for Americans. If I had to go to war to defend my country I was totally prepared to do that. I didn’t end up going to Afganistan because I was in the second striker brigade, and so by the time I ended up going to Iraq I was already against the war. Today I believe they are all imperialist wars, but then I didn’t support the war, but figured I would still go because I had to go and I didn’t know people were resisting.

EG: Do you mean soldiers resisting or people against the war?

Josh: I didn’t know there was an anti-war movement. I was in the desert in California on a military base, and in the military we never knew there was a huge opposition to the war in the US, the media didn’t cover it. I think there were tactical errors made in the US by the antiwar movement, if people would have stopped military shipments from leaving the country instead of just marching in the streets, if people would have blocked railroad tracks and ports, this war would have never started.

EG: Benji, why did you join the military?

Benji: I came from a military family. I was encouraged by my mother and father join. I joined the military to help people. I entered boot camp in the Marine Corp in March 2003. I was 17 ½ years old. Once I joined I realized it was a bad idea and thought, what did I do?

EG: When the war started?

Benji: As I was in bootcamp the invasion was happening and we would see video clips of it set to heavy metal music to get us riled up. It was disturbing. Before every class in bootcamp they would show videos of people getting shot, killed, set to heavy metal music, and then as we were invading Fallujah, the PSYOPS (pyschological operations) units weren’t pointing the speakers at the people in Fallujah, they were pointing the speakers at us, playing the same music as they did in bootcamp. I distinctly remember being agitated and edgy before we invaded the city. It became clear to me that military indoctrination is much deeper than it appears to be on the surface.

EG: When did you go to Iraq, Josh?

Josh: September 2004 to September 2005.

EG: What did you think when you were going there?

Josh: I was against the war but at the same time figured we already started the war and so should see it through and help the country rebuild. It was hard to think about. I was in charge of interrogations in Irak. And Source Operations, running sources to get information. I was in Mosul, Iraq. In Iraq, 95% of those detained and interrogated were innocent. The interrogations agitate the population against you. If they weren’t terrorists or insurgents when detained, they will be afterward! The reason why 95% are innocent and still detained is because the way to measure succes in Iraq, unlike in Vietnam where it was a body count, is based on the number of detainees. It doesn’t matter if they are women or children or innocent. I didn’t participate in physical torture and beat detainees. But I did participate in psychological torture.

EG: But you knew torture took place?

Josh: I saw the victims of the torture. The bruises and lashes all over their bodies came from somewhere. We would send the detainees to the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Militia that were working with us and they would do the torture for us. I had concerns about that especially because torture doesn’t work well for getting information.

EG: Benji, you were in Fallujah during the Blackwater scandal?

Benji: Right after. I was sent to Fallujah and there was excitement because it was right after the Blackwater scandal and we were on a mission of revenge. No one told us what had really happened except that US citizens had been killed by the Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah. So I was excited because I was going to be in a mortar unit and would be able to do what I was trained to do, we were going to utilize our mortars. We thought we were going to Fallujah to neutralize an insurrection, but they didn’t tell us that the entire city had already been bombed by the US for about a week and a third of the population was already displaced or dead. We were being told that this was a mission of revenge, we didn’t know they were Blackwater mercenaries that had been killed, we were told they were just US citizens. Several batallions of marines were unleashed on the city from every angle. It was a seige. There were thousands of us that assaulted Fallujah. We surrounded them and cut off their electricity and water, we bombed Mosques.

EG: The military wasn’t giving the soldiers any kind of information?

Benji: Hearts and Minds is double rhetoric. You have to first control the hearts and minds of the troops committing these atrocities before sending them to war. You have to lie to them otherwise you can’t fight these kinds of wars.

EG: How did you perceive the resistance of the Iraqi people?

Josh: They were terrorists, radical, islamic fundamentalists, not people fighting for their country, that’s what we were told.

Benji: The military indoctrination is so sophisticated – you are even cut off from members of your own batallion, you can’t ask questions, the only thing that matters is to protect yourself and your batallion. There are no politics. The first thing you learn is not to question, keep your thoughts to yourself.

EG: Didn’t you know it was a war for oil?

Benji: The only reason you are there is to protect the person to the left and right of you. Everyone knew about the oil but your only mission is staying alive and keeping your friends alive.

Josh: You think you’re helping the Iraqis. That’s what you’re told.

EG: Why did you leave the military?

Josh: I was active duty for 5 years then I signed up for another 3 years as a reservist. I didn’t want to go back to Irak. I was told that if you join the reserves you can get a nice bonus and you won’t be deployed for two years. I was naive thinking the war in Irak would be over in two years.

EG: Why would you join the reserves and train people to go to war in Iraq if you were against the war?

Josh: I justified that by thinking I was keeping them safe by training them well. They had to go anyway. But it got to a point when I couldn’t look myself in the mirror anymore, I was disgusted with myself. I was basically stuck in a moral dilemna. I want to be proud of my actions, proud of what I am doing, but honestly, I wasn’t. I started college at the same time. I was studying political economy at Evergreen University, learning about US imperialism.

EG: Did people in your class know you were in the military? What did they say to you?

Josh: Yes, but people knew I was opposed to the war.

Benji: The “support the troops” campaign has altered everyone’s perception.

Josh: I’m actually opposed to that campaign. People should have been more confrontational with the troops.

EG: Like in Vietnam.

Benji: The “support the troops” campaign was engineered to allow for indirect acceptance of the war.

Josh: People are scared to criticize the troops, it’s considered the most blasphemous thing in the world. At the same time, if you are never criticized than you will never know that what you are doing is wrong.

Benji: You can’t criticize the troops. It’s a poverty draft, these kids just do it because they have no other way out of poverty.

Josh: But you have to criticize them, because they will say they are just following orders, but that’s bullshit, the Nazis were just following orders too. The military is fascist, it’s basically blind, unquestioning obedience. Then they try to tell you that the blind obedience is some form of courage and bravery. It’s much easier to go with the current than against it. While I was at Evergreen I was learning something different than what I was told in the military. I got to the point where morally I couldn’t just be opposed to the war, I also couldn’t even participate in the military or train other soldiers to go kill people in a racist war. I was told in January 2008 that I was going to be deployed to Irak and I decided I wasn’t going to go back. I was already speaking out against the war and blocking military shipments, I was active in direct action against the war. I was building barricades in the streets of Olympia to block military shipments from going out of the US ports to Irak, and for the first time I felt like I was fighting for something I actually believed in. It makes me cry to think about this. I was in the military for five years and never had the chance to fight for something I believed in.

Benji: Which is why you join the military, to fight for something you believe in!

Josh: The fact that I was finally fighting for something I believed in, against the war, was such a great feeling. I joined Iraq Veterans Against the War and other resistance groups against the war. I helped start the GI coffee house, Coffee Strong. The GI coffee house is right off the military base Fort Lewis in Washington.

EG: Benji, why did you leave the military?

Benji: After my first tour in Iraq I was disillusioned and after my second deployment it was obvious. We referred to our ourselves as occupiers. When I got back from the second tour I was convinced that I wouldn’t go back. I volunteered to be an Urban Combat Instructor. I trained several urban combat batallions and one of my teams ended up in Haditha, massacring hundreds of innocent Iraquis in a 3-day exercise. That’s on my conscience. And it’s really sad, people in the marine corp are doing cocaine before morning exercises. After a year, I decided I didn’t want to go back to Irak. I had no idea there was a resistance movement. When you get out, you want to put it all behind you. You don’t want to think about it, you don’t want to remember it, you just want to live a small, quiet life.

Benji: I moved to Oregon and met people from Veterans for Peace. I learned that you don’t have to go back, you can resist. I joined Courage to Resist and I began to broaden my work and speak out against the wars in Afganistan and Iraq.

EG: Why did you come to Venezuela?

Benji: South America is in a position to resist the economic collapse in the US. We also have plans to set up a safety net for friends and people in the US in case the US does turn into a bigger police state domestically. If there is a larger war coming on the planet the people have to choose sides and this is the side I want to be on.

Josh: Venezuela is the one spot in the world where there is optimism. This country is moving in a good direction. In Venezuela there is a lot of really great work going on.

EG: What would you say to the Venezuelan people about the US military buildup in Colombia?

Josh: Be prepared. Neighborhood and popular militias are the most effective way to deter the US – it’s working in Irak, and Afganistan. People with rifles can hold out forever. You’re not going to be able to defeat the US military with tanks and airplanes because they have more than all countries in the world combined. Live up to the creed, socialismo o muerte! Capitalism is in a major state of decline and it’s going to lash out. We have to fight it however we can, it’s the only way to exist. If Venezuela was attacked, and there was an Abraham Lincoln Brigade to defend Venezuela, I would come here in a heartbeat.

Benji: To me it’s obvious the US is gunning for Latin America. Latin America is one big resource for the US, that’s all they see, they see the people as a nuisance. The only thing the US is good at is invading other countries, that’s the only export the US still has, invasion.

Josh: It’s the war that never ends.


PROFILES

• Josh Simpson, 27 years old, was a Sargeant in the US Army Counterintelligence Division. He was in charge of interrogations and source operations in Mosul, Iraq from 2004-2005. His actions resulted indirectly in the deaths of hundreds of Iraquis. Today, Josh is the president of the Fort Lewis Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and is co-founder of Coffee Strong, a GI Coffee Shop that seeks to mobilize soldiers against the war. Josh earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Economy from Evergreen University in 2008 and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Teaching at the same institution. He speaks across the US against the war and US imperialism and is very active in blocking military shipments from leaving the US as a form of direct action war resistance.

• Benji Lewis, 24 years old, is an ex Marine Infantry soldier who did two tours in Iraq, both to Fallujah from 2004-2005. His M-16 mortars killed over 500 people in Fallujah during a three month period. Today, Benji is an outspoken anti-war, anti-Empire activist in Oregon. He is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and Courage to Resist. He speaks throughout the US against the war and organizes soldiers to resist deployment to Iraq and Afganistan. Benji is studying English Literature and Philosophy at Lynn-Benton Community College in Corvallis, Oregon and plans to learn Spanish.

This interview was conducted during their first visit to Venezuela as part of an anti-war, pro-peace delegation from the Portland Latin America Solidarity Coalition.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chávez at Venice Film Festival for Premier of Oliver Stone's South of the Border




Oliver Stone's Hugo Chavez Film Makes Venice Premiere

VENICE, Italy — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez received a movie star welcome Monday at the Venice Film Festival, where he walked the red carpet with director Oliver Stone for the premiere of the documentary "South of the Border."

Hundreds of admirers, some chanting "president, president," gathered outside of the Casino for the leader's arrival. A few held up Venezuelan flags and a banner in Spanish that read "Welcome, president."

Chavez threw a flower into the crowd and touched his heart, and at one point took a photographer's camera to snap a picture himself. Security outside the Casino was tightened in advance of his arrival with military police checking bags.

Chavez praised Stone's work for depicting what he said were improvements made across Latin America.

"Rebirth is happening in Latin America, and Stone went to look for it and he found it," Chavez told reporters. "With his cameras and his genius, he's captured a good part of that rebirth."

Stone says "South of the Border" is meant to illustrate "the sweeping changes" in South America in recent years as a direct counterpoint to what some say is Chavez's depiction as a dictator by U.S. and European media.

Stone spent extensive time with Chavez for the 75-minute documentary, which is premiering at the Venice Film Festival on Monday, and also interviewed the leaders of Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Cuba and Paraguay, whom Stone said "are on the same page" as Chavez.

"He's a guy you should meet and get to know. ... He's the star of the movie," Stone said in an interview before the premiere.

Stone said he wanted to illustrate changes that put leaders in many South American countries in power who represent the majority of their populations, a movement started with Chavez. He cited Bolivian President Evo Morales, the first Indian to be elected president, and Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a well-known trade unionist.

"If you look now, there are seven presidents, eight countries with Chile, that are really moving away from the Washington consensus control," Stone said. "But in America, they don't get that story."

Stone was invited to Venezuela to meet Chavez for the first time during the Venezuelan leader's aborted rescue mission of Colombian hostages held by FARC rebels. The mission was aborted, but Stone said the Chavez he met was different than some U.S. media depictions.

He returned in January to interview Chavez, and continued on to four other countries to interview Chavez's allies, with Cuban and Ecuadorean leaders joining him in Paraguay.

Stone is best known for his dramas, but he also has made four documentaries, including "Comandante," the 2003 documentary based on a meeting with Cuban leader Fidel Castro, which the director says in many ways led him to Chavez.

"I used the real man," Stone said. "I hope you realize how dynamic he is in the movie. What I like about the film is you see how sincere he is on camera. You don't see a guy who is a phony. He's not a dictator."

Stone had said he spent "several hours here and there" with Chavez. The movie shows him at Chavez's enormous desk and visiting the president's childhood home, where he rides into the frame on a child's bicycle, which breaks under his weight. He immediately offers to pay for it. Footage also shows Chavez driving his own vehicle and stopping to greet supporters.

Stone said he didn't see it necessary to present the opposition's case in his film.

"A dark side? There's a dark side to everything. Why do you seek out the dark side when the guy is doing good things?" Stone asked. "He is a democrat and there is opposition to him, and he's not perfect. But he is doing tremendous things for Venezuela and the region."

Chavez's critics accuse him of growing increasingly authoritarian while sidelining key opponents and trying to clamp down on the private media.

Opponents also say Chavez's international crusade against U.S. influence is misguided, and accuse him of ignoring problems at home ranging from rampant crime to corruption.

Stone concedes that Chavez "says things unnecessary to provoke. I think he doesn't have to do that." But he said his opinion of Chavez only improved during the making of the documentary.

"People forget that he cut the poverty rate by one half," Stone said. "People in Venezuela are getting an education, they are getting health care and welfare. He actually delivered on what he said he would."

The movie's screenwriter is Tariq Ali, the British-Pakistani historian who most recently wrote "Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope" and it was produced by Fernando Sulichin. Stone also was advised by economist Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

"South of the Border" is showing out of competition at the Venice Film Festival, which ends Saturday with the awarding of the Golden Lion.

Friday, September 4, 2009

CEPR Release: State Dept Steps Against Honduran Coup Don't Go Far Enough

State Department Steps Against Honduran Coup Don't Go Far Enough
For Immediate Release: September 3, 2009


Washington, D.C.- The U.S. State Department issued a release today announcing "the termination of a broad range of assistance to the government of Honduras as a result of the coup d'etat that took place on June 28."

"The State Department is responding to pressure, but it's still not clear if the Obama administration is serious about dislodging the coup regime that it continues to support with military and economic aid," said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of CEPR.

State Department spokesman Fred Lash told CEPR that total U.S. assistance to Honduras was $100 million and today's decision affected $30 million: this included $8.96 million from the State Department, $9.4 million from USAID, and $11 million from the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) (which will not be officially cancelled until its Board meets next week).

"There is still quite a bit of money that is not food assistance or anything that poor people need that continues to flow to the dictatorship," said Weisbrot.

"Also, the State Department still hasn't officially determined that a military coup took place in Honduras," he added.

Weisbrot also noted that the International Monetary Fund decided just a few days ago to give Honduras more than $160 million. Since the United States has a veto over IMF decisions, this will be seen by the coup regime as a decision of the U.S. government.

"The IMF money, which is a huge amount of money for Honduras, will more than compensate for any cuts in U.S. official aid."

The World Bank paused lending to Honduras two days after the coup, and the Inter-American Development Bank did the same the next day. More recently the Central American Bank of Economic Integration suspended credit to Honduras. The European Union has suspended over $90 million in aid as well, and is considering further sanctions.

According to the release, "The Department of State further announces that we have identified individual members and supporters of the de facto regime whose visas are in the process of being revoked."

The State Department would not release the names of those whose visas may be revoked.

The release also states: "we would not be able to support the outcome of the scheduled elections [in Honduras]. A positive conclusion of the Arias process would provide a sound basis for legitimate elections to proceed."

This decision on elections brings the United States closer to other countries in the hemisphere, who have stated that they will not recognize elections conducted under the coup government.

However, Weisbrot noted that the 3-month election campaign period has already started, and it is taking place under conditions of political repression and media censorship.

"Each day that goes by with the coup government in power makes it less likely that these elections could be considered legitimate," said Weisbrot. "Certainly the idea of moving the election up one month to October, which is part of the Arias accord, has to be abandoned."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

US Suspends some aid to Honduras as SOUTHCOM Commander confirms the plane that kidnapped Zelaya took off from the Soto Cano (US air base) in Honduras

Today's press statementfrom the Department of State

"Termination of Assistance and Other Measures Affecting the De Facto Regime in Honduras

Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 3, 2009

The Department of State announces the termination of a broad range of assistance to the government of Honduras as a result of the coup d’etat that took place on June 28. The Secretary already had suspended assistance shortly after the coup.
The Secretary of State has made the decision, consistent with U.S. legislation, recognizing the need for strong measures in light of the continued resistance to the adoption of the San Jose Accord by the de facto regime and continuing failure to restore democratic, constitutional rule to Honduras.

The Department of State recognizes the complicated nature of the actions which led to June 28 coup d’etat in which Honduras’ democratically elected leader, President Zelaya, was removed from office. These events involve complex factual and legal questions and the participation of both the legislative and judicial branches of government as well as the military.

Restoration of the terminated assistance will be predicated upon a return to democratic, constitutional governance in Honduras.

The Department of State further announces that we have identified individual members and supporters of the de facto regime whose visas are in the process of being revoked.

A presidential election is currently scheduled for November. That election must be undertaken in a free, fair and transparent manner. It must also be free of taint and open to all Hondurans to exercise their democratic franchise. At this moment, we would not be able to support the outcome of the scheduled elections. A positive conclusion of the Arias process would provide a sound basis for legitimate elections to proceed. We strongly urge all parties to the San Jose talks to move expeditiously to agreement."

NOTE: Humanitarian aid from USAID still continues to Honduras - so does the aid to "promote democracy", ie fund political parties, groups and NGOs involved in executing the coup and consolidating the dictatorial regime. So, don't see this as any great advance. The National Endowment for Democracy funds via International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute remain in effect and continue to those political groups that have publicly backed the coup regime. Same goes for the large majority (approximately 80%) of USAID funds to Honduras. So, really the DOS decision does not affect most of the funding to political groups in Honduras that promoted the coup.


Ironically, the US seems to be "coming clean" in its own manipulative way regarding the coup in Honduras. SOUTHCOM Commander, General Douglas Fraser, confirmed today what many of us suspected from day one of the coup, that the airplane that forced President Zelaya into exile after kidnapping him violently on June 28th from his residence, actually took off for Costa Rica from the Soto Cano (Palmerola) military base, which has been occupied and run by the Pentagon since 1954 (actively since the early 1980s). Here is a link to an article translated (not perfectly) into English. Strangely, not much English-language press is reporting this most important detail regarding the Honduran coup, which clearly shows US involvement and lying. Up until now the Pentagon had denied the Honduran president's airplane had landed at the Soto Cano (Palmerola) base...

For those who didn't believe in the beginning that the US had a major hand in the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras, the pieces are coming together now, from the belly of the beast.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009




Join our Facebook group EN PIE DE PAZ -- ON THE PATH TO PEACE

"EN PIE DE PAZ" -- "ON THE PATH TO PEACE"

4 de septiembre de 2009
Mobilización Mundial EN PIE DE PAZ y declaración de América Latina como ZONA DE PAZ y LIBRE de injerencia y bases militares de Estados Unidos.

4 September 2009
International Mobilization ON THE PATH TO PEACE, declaring Latin America as a ZONE OF PEACE, free of US military bases and intervention.

Los pacifistas somos más, marchemos y mobilizaremos por el amor, la solidaridad y la paz este 4 de septiembre.

Mobilize and march for peace, solidarity and justice this September 4th and help initiate a campaign to cease US military presence and aggression in Latin America.

Concentrémonos en todas las plazas de Bolívar y en las Embajadas y Consulados de Venezuela en todo el mundo.

Rallies ON THE PATH TO PEACE will be held in front of Venezuelan embassies and consulates throughout the world, JOIN US - THE ONLY DEFENSE AGAINST WAR AND AGGRESSION IS UNITY AND SOLIDARITY!

A través de la página podemos ir coordinando los diferentes grupos en cada país.

Si quieres ser coordinador de tu ciudad o tu país, escríbenos: enpiedepaz@gmail.com

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COORDINATE AN "ON THE PATH TO PEACE" CHAPTER IN YOUR COUNTRY, PLEASE WRITE US. AND SPREAD THE WORD. enpiedepaz@gmail.com

KNOWLEDGE IS OUR STRONGEST WEAPON.