Thursday, October 28, 2010

Venezuela: From “Backyard” to Multipolar World





A successful tour of 7 countries in three continents made by President Hugo Chavez has produced 69 new agreements that will strengthen national development and consolidate the most powerful defense against imperial aggression: the union of nations and peoples.

The most influential ideologue of the twentieth century in the United States, Henry Kissinger, declared during the 1970s regarding the expansion of socialism in the region, “If the US can’t control Latin America, how can it dominate the world?” Today, Kissinger’s concern has returned to torment the US and imperial forces, but this time, their conspiring fist can’t seem to silence the awakening of nations in Revolution.

The US desperation during those years to subordinate countries in its “backyard” led to a series of coup d’etats, brutal dictatorships, sabotages, political assassinations, mass torture and disappearances, and the implementation of neoliberal, capitalist models that caused the worst misery, exclusion, poverty and alienation known in the region throughout history.

Under the limited US vision, strategies and tactics of aggression achieved their goal by the end of the century, and in almost all Latin American nations, with the exception of Revolutionary Cuba, subservient governments were put in place, hailing the US-imposed economic and political model of neoliberal representative democracy.

When a revolutionary Venezuelan soldier, Hugo Chavez, led a rebellion against the criminal, murderous and corrupt government of Carlos Andres Perez – a close ally of Washington – on February 4, 1992, the US underestimated him. A secret document from the Department of State, now declassified, commented on the event, stating “The coup attempt appears to have been the work of a group of mid level army officers…There is no indication of popular support for the coup plotters…”

At the same time, the US government recognized from its own surveys conducted in secret in Venezuela, “The incentive to follow support for Carlos Andres Perez is small; a recent poll showed him enjoying less than 20% of the electorate’s support…” In other words, the people did not support the neoliberal model imposed on their nation.

Another secret report from March 10, 1992 revealed Washington’s true concern regarding the popular uprisings in Venezuela, “A successful coup in Venezuela would be a serious blow to US interests in the hemisphere. Despite the short term negative impact on the poor and the middle class, we believe Carlos Andres Perez’s (CAP) economic policies are exactly what are needed to reform the Venezuelan economy…CAP’s overthrow would send a chilling message to the region about the viability of implementing economic reform.” [*Although the US classified the action as a “coup”, Hugo Chavez called it a “popular rebellion against a dictatorship disguised as democracy”].

Paraphrasing Kissinger, if the US couldn’t control Venezuela, how could it control the region? The principal US concern was not whether poverty would increase and the middle class would disappear, but rather whether the neoliberal model would be implemented, at any cost, because this would be the only guarantee of permanent US domination in the region.

When Hugo Chavez won office in Venezuela in 1998, Washington didn’t know what to do. The official policy was “wait and see” before acting. Imperial interests tried to “buy” the recently elected Venezuelan President several times, but their temptations didn’t bear fruit: Venezuela had chosen an irreversible path towards independence, sovereignty, dignity and revolution.

With the first changes – constitutional reform, a raise in oil prices and the rescue of OPEC – powerful interests were affected and US control over Venezuela decreased. The voice of Hugo Chavez began to be heard throughout the region, resonating with a rebellious song that inspired restless people’s movements.

PERMANENT AGGRESSION

Soon after, actions were initiated to try and neutralize what Washington had believed impossible: an anti-imperialist, socialist revolution in the XXI century, just south of the border.

A wave of aggressions struck Venezuela – the coup in April 2002, an oil strike and economic sabotage, assassination attempts, subversion, multimillion-dollar funding to opposition groups, elections meddling and a brutal psychological war executed through mass media – but they didn’t achieve their objective and revolutionary forces began to rise throughout the continent.

The birth of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americans (ALBA) in 2004 opened the path towards a new foreign policy based on cooperation, integration and solidarity. Relations between sister nations in the region began to grow, strengthening the ties between states that shared a collective vision for humanity, and building a new economic model of commerce and trade that promoted mutual benefits and development.

ALBA TO A MULTIPOLAR WORLD

From ALBA, the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) was born with the objective of forging regional trade and creating a continental bloc of power capable of confronting world challenges.

As the Revolution in Venezuela grew, US aggression increased. In 2005, Washington launched an international campaign to “isolate the Venezuelan government” and classify it as a “rogue state”. “Hugo Chavez is a negative force in the region”, declared Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in January 2005, beginning the bombardment of lies about Venezuela before world opinion that hasn’t ceased to date.

One year later, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld compared President Chavez to Hitler, and together with the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, they denominated Venezuela the “largest threat to US interests in the region”. That year Venezuela was placed on a list of nations “not fully collaborating with the war on terror” and a US-imposed sanction prohibited the sale of defense equipment with US technology to the South American nation.

Chavez, recognizing the attempt to debilitate his armed forces, sought out other partners who weren’t subjected to US domination. Russia was the first country to offer to replace Venezuela’s military supplies.

For the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, a Latin American nation began to build ties with Russia, without US involvement. The initial purchase of defense equipment opened the door to a new commercial and strategic relationship between Venezuela and Russia, thanks to the US embargo.

After Russia, Venezuela began to build relations with China, Belarus, Iran, Japan, Syria, Libya, India and other African, Asian and European nations. Chavez’s foreign policy initiated a radical transformation in the region and put Venezuela on the world map. “It was about radically changing the rules of the game: we wanted to relate to the world and not just one part of it. In reality, we were just learning how to walk with our own feet on the international stage. Don’t forget that before, we didn’t have our own foreign policy. Our foreign policy was directed by Washington”, explains President Chavez.

CHANGING THE BALANCE OF POWER

Chavez’s tour to Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Iran, Syria, Libya and Portugal, from October 13-24, 2010, is a sign of a new multipolar world on the horizon. Of the 69 agreements signed with these nations, Venezuela will have numerous valuable benefits, including the construction of tens of thousands of homes for Venezuelan people, agricultural development, economic growth, energy production, new industries, diverse exports and strategic, balanced relations with other nations – all for the maximum benefit of the people of Venezuela.

Not one of the 69 agreements contains exploitative elements that could cause disadvantage for Venezuela. The foreign policy of the Chavez government doesn’t permit exploitation or capitalist contamination that could harm the South American nation.

For example, in Belarus, Venezuela won’t just buy heavy cargo mining trucks and public transport vehicles, but also will create joint ventures with Belarussian companies to establish factories in Venezuelan territory, assuring technological transfer which will aid in the diversification of Venezuela’s industries and the creation of jobs for the Venezuelan people.

IN A MULTIPOLAR WORLD, THERE CAN BE NO EMPIRE

“Venezuela must objey”, declared President Obama in reference to the agreement with Russia to develop nuclear energy for peaceful use. “We are monitoring the agreements between Venezuela and Iran to see if they violate the sanctions”, announced Philip Crowley, State Department spokesman, as though Washington was still the world police.

The desperate tone eminating from the White House is the product of its weakening global power – the Empire’s time is up and a new multipolar world has been born. Kissinger’s nightmare has come true – the US can’t dominate Latin America anymore, and much less the world. The revolutionary Venezuelan soldier they once underestimated has become a symbol of resistance against US hegemony, and is inspiring millions who seek a better world.

T/ Eva Golinger

Thursday, October 7, 2010

EVIDENCE OF NED FUNDING/AID TO GROUPS IN ECUADOR INVOLVED IN COUP AGAINST CORREA

THIS DOCUMENT FROM AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTE (NDI) AND THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY (NED) CLEARLY EVIDENCES HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR MEDDLING IN ECUADOR'S POLITICS AND INFILTRATION OR RECRUITMENT OF ELEMENTS WITHIN PROGRESSIVE AND INDIGENOUS POLITICAL MOVEMENTS, SUCH AS PACHAKUTIK, RED ETICA Y DEMOCRATICA (RED) AND CONAIE, WHO SUPPORTED THE COUP D'ETAT AGAINST PRESIDENT RAFAEL CORREA LAST THURSDAY.

ECUADOR: WHAT REALLY HAPPENED






By Eva Golinger

On the morning of Thursday, September 30, 2010, the city of Quito, capital of Ecuador, awoke in chaos. Groups of rebellious, armed police had taken over several areas of the city, disrupting transit, burning tires and violently protesting what they alleged was an unfair law set to cut their wages.

In an attempt to quell the situation, President Rafael Correa, immediately decided in-person dialogue would be the best way to explain to the insubordinate and rioting police officers that the law they opposed was actually going to improve their wages, benefits and overall job security.

Around 9:30am, Correa informed his entourage he would be going to the police Regiment Quito Number One to talk to the officers. Upon his arrival, police were yelling and shouting at him, many wearing hoods and gasmasks covering their faces. The Ecuadoran President opted to grap a microphone and address the angry crowd, trying to explain the benefits of the new law to them while also pointing out that clearly, they were being deceived and manipulated by interested forces seeking to desestabilize the country and his government.

The police wouldn’t listen to reason. They continued to demand Correa retract the law, while, weapons drawn, they fired tear gas at him and threw rocks and other hard items towards him and his entourage. Realizing no dialogue was possible under the circumstances, Correa defiantly exclaimed that he would not bow down to such pressure through violence and force. His government would stand by the law. “Kill me if you want, but I will not be forced to act through violence”, he declared before the crowd of armed, enraged police.

Some took his challenge seriously. As his security team tried to escort him from the scene, President Correa was hit and attacked by several police officers and items hurled from the angry crowd. A tear gas bomb almost grazed his head, while the mob around him tried to kick him in his recently-operated knee, because of which he was still walking with a cane. Official recordings later revealed that during those tense and dangerous moments, police officers called out to “kill him” on their radios. “Kill the President”, “Kill Correa”, “He won’t get out alive today”, ordered the higher-ranking officers on the internal police patrol radios.

“Kill them all, open fire, shoot them, ambush them, but don’t let that bastard leave”, said police over the radios, referring to the President and the team of ministers and secret service that accompanied him. “Kill that ‘s.o.b’ Correa”, they shouted, with clear intention to assassinate the head of state.

The President’s people barreled through the crowd, carrying him out while pushing back the violent police with force. Because of the toxic inhalation of gases during the incident, President Correa was taken to the nearby military hospital. Once inside, military and police forces involved in the rebellion wouldn’t let him leave.

“You’re not leaving here until you sign”, they ordered their Commander in Chief, indicating he sign a paper retracting the law they disliked. But Ecuador’s head of state held his position. “Through force, nothing. Through dialogue, everything”, he declared.

Days after, President Correa reflected on that moment. “I sincerely believed I wasn’t going to get out alive. I felt sorry for my family. More than fear, I felt serenity and sadness that we had arrived to this point”, he confessed before international media during a press conference after the whole ordeal ended.

COORDINATED COUP

As the President was held hostage in the hospital, military forces shut down Quito’s air force base and halted all flights from the international airport. The coup was beginning to take shape.

As thousands of Correa’s supporters filled the streets to protest the coup, they were met by police violence and repression. Security forces also impeded pro-Correa parliament members from accessing the National Assembly. Hours later, political groups supporting the coup violently forced their way into Ecuador’s state television station, Ecuador TV, to air their intentions and accuse President Correa of provoking the national crisis.

In Guayaquil, looting and rioting was rampant, and insubordinate police also joined the rebellion. Several anti-Correa organizations began to emit declarations calling for President Correa’s resignation and to dissolve his government and parliament. Some of these organizations, such as the indigenous coalition Pachakutik, have members and sectors that receive funding from US agencies, including USAID, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

During an interview on CNN from Brazil, former president and coup-leader Lucio Gutierrez called for President Correa’s resignation and blamed him for the situation in the country. Hours before, Correa had implicated Gutierrez in the coup attempt underway. “I reject the accusations made by President Correa and deny that a coup attempt is taking place. It’s just a police protest and a demonstration of the terrible economic policies of Correa in Ecuador”, said Gutierrez, adding, “This could be a self-imposed coup, like Hugo Chavez did, many international media are doubting he was kidnapped”. (Note: A coup was executed against Venezuelan President Chavez in April 2002 by an opposition coalition of dissident military officers, business leaders, political groups and private media, supported by the Bush administration. It failed after 48 hours, though Chavez was held hostage by coup forces until he was rescued by loyal military officers).

Gutierrez himself was ousted by popular rebellion and imprisoned for corruption just two years after taking office in 2003. Since then, he has run against Correa in the presidential elections. Last year he lost to Correa’s 55% landslide victory, taking only 28% of the vote.

After the coup on Thursday, President Correa reiterated his claim that Gutierrez was one of the forces behind the destabilization attempt. “Clearly Patriotic Society (Gutierrez’s party) and the Gutierrez brothers are behind this”. The Ecuadoran head of state also blamed right-wing US groups for supporting the coup. “Just like in Honduras, opposition groups in Ecuador receive funding from ‘right-wing’ organizations in the United States”, he declared.

USAID, NED, NDI and other US agencies operate multimillion-dollar programs in Ecuador to fund and train political parties, organizations and programs that promote US agenda throughout the country. During both the 2002 coup in Venezuela against President Hugo Chavez and the 2009 coup against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, groups perpetuating the destabilization received US funding and support.

DRAMATIC RESCUE

After nearly eight hours held hostage by violent police forces, President Correa was rescued in a late night operation by Special Forces. The heavily armed camaflouged military forces raided the hospital, engaging in dangerous cross-fire with police involved in the coup. The President was secured and taken out in a wheelchair, while the bullet fire continued. His car was hit several times with bullets, in a clear attempt to assassinate him.

At least ten people were killed and over 200 injured during the coup attempt.

Afterward, President Correa was received at the Presidential Palace by hundreds of supporters who cheered him on, expressing their indignation at the events of the day, vowing to “radicalize” their “citizen’s revolution”, as Correa’s policies are termed in Ecuador.

Throughout the day, regional leaders expressed their condemnation of the coup attempt and reiterated absolute support for President Correa. Near midnight, South American heads of state from Bolivia, Colombia, Uruguay, Peru and Venezuela gathered in Argentina for an emergency UNASUR meeting to back Correa and seek solutions to the crisis. They embraced with relief as the images of Correa’s rescue were broadcast across the continent on Telesur, Latin America’s television station.

The coup had been stopped, but the forces behind it still remain active. Ecuador imposed a state of emergency last Thursday, which was extended this week through Friday. As the dust settles on the attempted coup, the parties and actors involved become more visible.

US-funded organizations, big business interests, police and military trained at the US School of the Americas, Cold War relics from US agencies, including Norman A. Bailey, veteran intelligence specialist working closely with opposition groups, and politicians such as Lucio Gutierrez, a strong Bush-ally, were all involved in trying to overthrow Rafael Correa’s government. They failed this time around, but the threat remains. Ecuador hasn’t seen its last coup d’etat.

T/ Eva Golinger

Friday, October 1, 2010

BULLET THAT HIT PRESIDENT RAFAEL CORREA'S ROOM



DURING THE ATTEMPTED COUP YESTERDAY IN ECUADOR AGAINST PRESIDENT RAFAEL CORREA, BULLETS HIT THE ROOM HE WAS SEQUESTERED IN DURING THE LATE NIGHT RESCUE OPERATION. INVESTIGATORS CONCLUDED COUP FORCES WERE ATTEMPTING TO ASSASSINATE HIM BEFORE HE COULD BE RESCUED. THE CAR THAT TOOK HIM BACK TO THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE WAS ALSO HIT WITH SEVERAL BULLETS, INCLUDING ON THE SIDE WHERE HE WAS TRAVELING.

Behind the Coup in Ecuador – The Attack on ALBA




By Eva Golinger

Translation: Machetera

The latest coup attempt against one of the countries in the Bolivarian Alliance For The People of Our America (ALBA) is attempt to impede Latin American integration and the advance of revolutionary democratic processes. The rightwing is on the attack in Latin America. Its success in 2009 in Honduras against the government of Manuel Zelaya energized it and gave it the strength and confidence to strike again against the people and revolutionary governments in Latin America.

The elections of Sunday, September 26th in Venezuela, while victorious for the Venezuelan United Socialist Party (PSUV), also ceded space to the most reactionary and dangerous destabilizing forces at the service of imperial interests. The United States managed to situate key elements in the Venezuelan National Assembly, giving them a platform to move forward with their conspiratorial schemes to undermine Venezuelan democracy.

The day after the elections in Venezuela, the main advocate for peace in Colombia, Piedad Córdoba, was dismissed as a Senator in the Republic of Colombia, by Colombia’s Inspector General, on the basis of falsified evidence and accusations. But the attack against Senator Córdoba is a symbol of the attack against progressive forces in Colombia who seek true and peaceful solutions to the war in which they have been living for more than 60 years.

And now, Thursday, September 30th, was the dawn of a coup d’etat in Ecuador. Insubordinate police took over a number of facilities in the capital of Quito, creating chaos and panic in the country. Supposedly, they were protesting against a new law approved by the National Assembly on Wednesday, which according to them reduced labor benefits.

In an attempt to resolve the situation, President Rafael Correa went to meet with the rebellious police but was attacked with heavy objects and teargas, causing a wound on his leg and teargas asphyxiation. He was taken to a military hospital in Quito, where he was later kidnapped and held against his will, prevented from leaving.

Meanwhile, popular movements took to the streets of Quito, demanding the liberation of their President, democratically re-elected the previous year by a huge majority. Thousands of Ecuadorans raised their voices in support of President Correa, trying to rescue their democracy from the hands of coup-plotters who were looking to provoke the forced resignation of the national government.

In a dramatic development, President Correa was rescued in an operation by Special Forces from the Ecuadoran military in the late evening hours. Correa denounced his kidnapping by the coup-plotting police and laid responsibility for the coup d’etat directly upon former President, Lucio Gutiérrez. Gutiérrez was a presidential candidate in 2009 against President Correa, and lost in a landslide when more than 55% voted for Correa.

During today’s events, Lucio Gutiérrez declared in an interview, “The end of Correa’s tyranny is at hand,” also asking for the “dissolution of Parliament and a call for early presidential elections.”

But beyond the key role played by Gutiérrez, there are external factors involved in this attempted coup d’etat that are moving their pieces once again.

Infiltration of the Police

According to journalist Jean-Guy Allard, an official report from Ecuador’s Defense Minister, Javier Ponce, distributed in October of 2008 revealed “how US diplomats dedicated themselves to corrupting the police and the Armed Forces.”

The report confirmed that police units “maintain an informal economic dependence on the United States, for the payment of informants, training, equipment and operations.”

In response to the report, US Ambassador in Ecuador, Heather Hodges, justified the collaboration, saying “We work with the government of Ecuador, with the military and with the police, on objectives that are very important for security.” According to Hodges, the work with Ecuador’s security forces is related to the “fight against drug trafficking.”

The Ambassador

Ambassador Hodges was sent to Ecuador in 2008 by then President George W. Bush. Previously she successfully headed up the embassy in Moldova, a socialist country formerly part of the Soviet Union. She left Moldova sowing the seeds for a “colored revolution” that took place, unsuccessfully, in April of 2009 against the majority communist party elected to parliament.

Hodges headed the Office of Cuban Affairs within the US State Department in 1991, as its Deputy Director. The department was dedicated to the promotion of destabilization in Cuba. Two years later she was sent to Nicaragua in order to consolidate the administration of Violeta Chamorro, the president selected by the United States following the dirty war against the Sandinista government, which led to its exit from power in 1989.

When Bush sent her to Ecuador, it was with the intention of sowing destabilization against Correa, in case the Ecuadoran president refused to subordinate himself to Washington’s agenda. Hodges managed to increase the budget for USAID and the NED [National Endowment for Democracy] directed toward social organizations and political groups that promote US interests, including within the indigenous sector.

In the face of President Correa’s re-election in 2009, based on a new constitution approved in 2008 by a resounding majority of men and women in Ecuador, the Ambassador began to foment destabilization.

USAID

Certain progressive social groups have expressed their discontent with the policies of the Correa government. There is no doubt that legitimate complaints and grievances against his government exist. Not all groups and organizations in opposition to Correa’s policies are imperial agents. But a sector among them does exist which receives financing and guidelines in order to provoke destabilizing situations in the country that go beyond the natural expressions of criticism and opposition to a government.

In 2010, the State Department increased USAID’s budget in Ecuador to more than $38 million dollars. In the most recent years, a total of $5,640,000 in funds were invested in the work of “decentralization” in the country. One of the main executors of USAID’s programs in Ecuador is the same enterprise that operates with the rightwing in Bolivia: Chemonics, Inc. At the same time, NED issued a grant of $125,806 to the Center for Private Enterprise (CIPE) to promote free trade treaties, globalization, and regional autonomy through Ecuadoran radio, television and newspapers, along with the Ecuadoran Institute of Economic Policy.

Organizations in Ecuador such as Participación Ciudadana and Pro-justicia [Citizen Participation and Pro-Justice], as well as members and sectors of CODEMPE, Pachakutik, CONAIE, the Corporación Empresarial Indígena del Ecuador [Indigenous Enterprise Corporation of Ecuador] and Fundación Qellkaj [Qellkaj Foundation] have had USAID and NED funds at their disposal.

During the events of September 30 in Ecuador, one of the groups receiving USAID and NED financing, Pachakutik, sent out a press release backing the coup-plotting police and demanding the resignation of President Correa, holding him responsible for what was taking place. The group even went so far as to accuse him of a “dictatorial attitude.” Pachakutik entered into a political alliance with Lucio Gutiérrez in 2002 and its links with the former president are well known:

“PACHAKUTIK ASKS PRESIDENT CORREA TO RESIGN AND CALLS FOR THE FORMING OF A SINGLE NATIONAL FRONT

Press Release 141

In the face of the serious political turmoil and internal crisis generated by the dictatorial attitude of President Rafael Correa, who has violated the rights of public servants as well as society, the head of the Pachakutik Movement, Cléver Jiménez, called on the indigenous movement, social movements and democratic political organizations to form a single national front to demand the exit of President Correa, under the guidelines established by Article 130, Number 2 of the Constitution, which says: “The National Assembly will dismiss the President of the Republic in the following cases: 2) For serious political crisis and domestic turmoil.”

Jiménez backed the struggle of the country’s public servants, including the police troops who have mobilized against the regime’s authoritarian policies which are an attempt to eliminate acquired labor rights. The situation of the police and members of the Armed Forces should be understood as a just action by public servants, whose rights have been made vulnerable.

This afternoon, Pachakutik is calling on all organizations within the indigenous movement, workers, democratic men and women to build unity and prepare new actions to reject Correa’s authoritarianism, in defense of the rights and guarantees of all Ecuadorans.

Press Secretary

PACHAKUTIK BLOQUE”


The script used in Venezuela and Honduras repeats itself. They try to hold the President and the government responsible for the “coup,” later forcing their exit from power. The coup against Ecuador is the next phase in the permanent aggression against ALBA and revolutionary movements in the region.

The Ecuadoran people remain mobilized in their rejection of the coup attempt, while progressive forces in the region have come together to express their solidarity and support of President Correa and his government.