Sunday, May 18, 2008

Two recent interviews with yours truly

FYI, in case anyone is interested, Jean-Guy Allard has published an interview with me in English in Granma International, in French in Le Grand Soir and in Español on Granma de Cuba.

Fred Fuentes published this interview with me on Green Left Weekly from Australia.

If anyone is interested in interviews or speaking engagements please contact me at [email protected] or [email protected]

THE WAR MACHINE: OR HOW TO MANIPULATE REALITY


The War Machine: Or How to Manipulate Reality
By Eva Golinger


Interpol’s Creativity

Since 2002, the Pentagon has been seeking evidence that intimately relates President Chávez and his government with the FARC. Top secret documents from the Department of Defense (that we have desclassified under FOIA) evidence that the Pentagon has been unable to find proof of a clandestine, subversive relationship between the Venezuelan government and the FARC. The sources used in some Pentagon documents that attempt to show such a relationship are completely unreliable, since they are mass media outlets from Venezuela and Colombia, such as Globovisión, Caracol, El Universal and El Nacional - all of whom are aligned with the opposition to Chávez.

When the Colombian government bombed the FARC camp in Ecuador on March 1, killing two dozen people in an illegal incursion onto Equatorian territory that was condemned by the Organization of American States (OEA) and only supported by the United States (suprise!), it was all they could do to produce evidence they had been seeking for six years. Just hours after the illegal invasion and massacre (during which 5 innocent Mexican visiting students were killed), the head of Colombia’s National Police, General Naranjo, was announcing they had “found” a “laptop” that belonged to Raul Reyes, the FARC commander killed in the bombing, and that the computer contained information that showed a link between President Chávez and several members of his government, and the handover (or offering) of weapons and money to the FARC. (Now we would have to ask how the Colombian police found that key information so quickly amongst the more than 39,000 word files and several million documents contained on the computers that the INTERPOL report says it would take 1,000 years to read). All of sudden, evidence was found that not even the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency or the world’s top spies could encounter during years of secret missions, agent recruiting and handling and psychological operations; that Chávez was going to sell uranium to the FARC to make dirty bombs; that Chávez promised somewhere between $250-$300 million to the FARC; that he gave them weapons; and that together they sought to overthrow Uribe’s government and install a FARC marxist state.

That mysterious machine contained anything the Empire could ever have dreamed up to bury the Venezuelan government and declare it over and done with.

But, there was a big problem: since the machine had been in the hands of the Colombian government - confessed adversary of its Venezuelan neighbor - and the “Documents” that evidenced the relationship with President Chávez were actually just texts written in Word, without signature or seal, there was little faith in their credibility. How easy it is to just write a document in Word on some computer and say it was written by someone else! Word documents don’t have original signature. If they had found - say - a diary or a journal written by the hand of Raul Reyes, then the situation would be quite different, but a bunch of texts in Word? Emails? In today’s world, electronic information is unreliable. Computers can been manipulated from a remote source. Any decent hacker or computer techie can enter into a system and alter whatever, without leaving fingerprints.

So, Colombia did the intelligent thing. They said - lets let an uninvolved third party evaluate the computers to determine whether they have been manipulated or not by us. And that’s when Interpol came along.

The Secretary General of the International Police (INTERPOL), Ronald Kenneth Noble, is an ex US Government employee, and he was First Undersecretary of the Department of Treasury in charge of the Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Center for Federal Law Enforcement Training, the Network of Financial Crimes Control and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (which, by the way, is the entity in charge of enforcing the blockade against Cuba and the prohibition of US citizens to travel there). Noble has been Secretary General of INTERPOL for 8 years (two terms), and it was he who was in charge of supervising the authentication of the “evidence” obtained by the Colombian government in the FARC camp.

INTERPOL was charged with a pretty limited and subjective mision, that was to “Examine the user files on the eight seized FARC computers and to determine whether any of the user files had been newly created, modified or deleted on or after 1 March 2008.” INTERPOL did not occupy itself with verifying the origin, accuracy or source of those files or computers, which means that reasonable doubt still remains regarding the true authorship of that data. INTERPOL took for granted that the machines and the evidence pertained to Raul Reyes and the FARC, which in legal terms prejudices the entire investigation because it shows that from the beginning, INTERPOL had already taken the side of the Colombian government.

INTERPOL’s report
states specifically that the scope of their forensic examination was limited to a) determining the actual data contained in the eight seized FARC computer exhibits, b) verifying whether the user files had been modified in any way on or after 1 March 2008, and c) determining whether Colombian law enforcement authorities had handled and examined the eight seized FARC computer exhibits in conformity with internationally recognized principles for handling electronic evidence by law enforcement.” [Interpol Report, page 7].

Subsequently, INTERPOL’s report confirms that the “verification of the eight seized FARC computer exhibits by INTERPOL does not imply the validation of the accuracy of the user files, the validation of any country’s interpretation of the user files or the validation of the source of the user files.” [Interpol Report, page 9].

So, INTERPOL only examined and verified whether the data contained on the computers had been created, modified or deleted after March 1 when it was publicly in the hands of the Colombian government. And although in their own report, INTERPOL concludes that access to the machines between March 1 and March 3 by the Grupo Investigativo de Delitos Informáticos of the Colombian Judicial Police (DIJIN) “did not conform to internationally recognized principles for handling electronic evidence by law enforcement” [Page 31], Secretary General Noble justifies that violation and the modifications made by the DIJIN as part of the difficulties encountered by those law enforcement who “are first on the scene”.

INTERPOL says its role was “exclusively technical” yet Secretary General Noble began his press conference on May 15 with a very partialized political discourse in favor of the Colombian government and condemning the FARC as drugtraffickers and terrorists. When asked by a journalist from TELESUR whether he could confirm the source of the evidence, Noble blurted our “I can say with certainty that the computers came from a FARC terrorist camp…” The journalist asked if they belonged to any person in particular, and Noble responded “yes, the now dead Reyes…”

If we return to page 9 of the INTERPOL report we can clearly read the statement: “the verification of the eight seized FARC computer exhibits by INTERPOL does not imply the validation of the accuracy of the user files, the validation of any country’s interpretation of the user files or the validation of the source of the user files.”

So, how did Mr. Noble know the computers belonged to Raul Reyes if INTERPOL did not analyze their origen?

In the end, INTERPOL can say that technically those computers were not modified or altered after March 1, but that tells us nothing concrete that could serve as legal evidence in a court of law. We don’t know the source of those machines. We don’t know who created the documents, text and data on those computers. There is no way whatsoever to authenticate the information contained on the thousands of Word documents and emails on those computers. They could be stories, wishes, dreams, prayers or fantasies. What they are not is actual hard core proof of a crime.

And as no surprise, the US government has expressed its “concern” over the INTERPOL report and the “ties between the Venezuelan government and the FARC.” (The US government is always “concerned” when it comes to Venezuela. First, Ambassador Donna Hrinak expressed her “concern” over President Chávez’s statements criticizing the US bombing in Afghanistan in October 2001, and months later came the coup d’etat against Chávez. Then it was Ambassador Charles Shapiro who expressed his “concern” about the political crises and the divisions in the country and soon after we had the economic sabotage of the oil industry in December 2002. Later we had Ambassador William Brownfield saying he was “concerned” about the increase in drug transit and the threat to freedom of expression, and we had street violence, an increase in funding to the opposition, and the White House certified Venezuela as a nation “not cooperating” with counterdrug measures and the war on terror. And now what?)

First, the spokesperson for the Department of State, Sean McCormack stated on May 16 that “this is a motive of concern for us. It’s a concern for the people of Colombia and the government of Colombia…Right now our intelligence community is analyzing the INTERPOL report…You don’t have to look far beyond the many news reports that we have seen recently based on the information found in those laptops and other information…” (Right, when the news media says something in sync with Washington’s foreign policy, it’s pointed to as a valid source, but when they criticize Bush’s policies on Irak or discover inconsistencies with the administration, then they say the media are biased and unrealiable).

The next day, the normally low profile (for now) US Ambassador in Venezuela, Patrick Duddy, appeared on Globovisión declaring that “elements of concern” exist in the documents found on Raul Reyes’ laptop and that “we respect what Interpol has presented and we remind you that there is already a ton of material that has come out in the press and there are elements of conern, but also there is a lot of information and the agencies that have access to it will analyze it.” Of course his statement is identical to that of the Department of State, and that’s no coincidence - that’s because the embassies all receive a “Western Hemisphere Press Guidance” sheet telling them exactly what to say!

So, the next step will be when the CIA, the Pentagon and other official Washington representatives “certify” the information on the computers and launch all kinds of additional accusations towards Venezuela - now with “proof”, even if invented. Wasn’t the power point presentation that Colin Powell so assuredly presented before the UN Security Council regarding the weapons of mass destruction in Irak considered “proof”? So, now we have laptops with non-authenticatible documents that will be used as “evidence” to place Venezuela on the state sponsors of terror list or worse, justify some kind of military incursion onto Venezuela territory to safeguard the world from terrorists.

The Fourth Fleet of the Navy has already been activated, something not seen since World War II, and will be patrolling and coordinating military activity in the Latin American region. Last month, SOUTHCOM launched Operation Enduring Freedom - Caribbean and Central America - which deployed an elite batallon of National Guard and navy ships into the region to prepare strategies to detect and defend against terrorist threats in the region.

In the end, INTERPOL achieved what Washington hasn’t been able to do for years: invent the way to “validate” some kind of bogus evidence against Venezuela that will jusfity US aggressions and possibly the next military intervention.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Chronology of the 4th Generation War Against Venezuela

The US Government is waging war on Venezuela - not your typical, traditional war, but a modern, asymmetric - 4th Generation War - against President Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution. Below is a presentation I created regarding the pattern and escalation of US Government aggression against Venezuela, with clear quotes and cites as evidence to back up this claim.

OBJECTIVE

Relate Chávez with:

*Drug trafficking
*Terrorism
*A Dictatorship
*An Arms Race
*Money Laundering
*A Threat Against Regional Security

Actions
2002-2006

*The coup d’etat against Chávez in 2002
*The “lockout” and economic sabotage from December 2002 to February 2003
*The “guarimbas” of 2004
*The Recall Referendum of 2004
*Electoral Intervention in 2005 and 2006
*An increase in US military presence in the region during 2006-2007

Change in Strategy

-After the victory of President Chávez in the recall referendum of 2004, the US toughened its position towards Venezuela increased its public hostility and aggression against the Venezuelan government.

-January 2005: “Hugo Chávez is a negative force in the region.” -Condoleezza Rice

-March 2005: “Venezuela is one of the most unstable and dangerous ‘hot spots’ in Latin America.” -Porter Goss, ex-Director of the CIA

-March 2005: “Venezuela is starting a dangerous arms race that threatens regional security.” -Donald Rumsfeld, ex-Secretary of Defense

-March 2005: “I am concerned about Venezuela’s influence in the area of responsibility...SOUTHCOM supports the position of the Joint Chiefs to maintain ‘military to military’ contact with the Venezuelan military…we need an inter-agency focus to deal with Venezuela.” -General Bantz Craddock, ex-Commander of SOUTHCOM

-July 2005: “Cuba and Venezuela are promoting instability in Latin America…There is no doubt that President Chávez is funding radical forces in Bolivia.” -Rogelio Pardo-Maurer, Assistant Sub-Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere

-July 2005: “Venezuela and Cuba are promoting radicalism in the region...Venezuela is trying to undermine the democratic governments in the region to impede CAFTA.” -Donald Rumsfeld, ex-Secretary of Defense

-August 2005: “Venezuelan territory is a safe haven for Colombian terrorists.” -Tom Casey, spokesperson for the Department of State

-September 2005: “The problem of working with President Chávez is serious and continuous, as it is in other parts of the relationship.” -John Walters, Director of the National Policy Office for Drug Control.

-November 2005: “The assault on democratic institutions in Venezuela continues and the system is in serious danger.” -Thomas Shannon, Sub-secretary of State

Escalation in Aggression 2006
The War Machine

-2 February 2006: “Presidente Chávez continues to use his control to repress the opposition, reduce freedom of the press and restrict democracy….it’s a threat.” -John Negroponte, ex-Director of National Intelligence

-2 February 2006: “We have Chávez in Venezuela with a lot of money from oil. He is a person who was elected legally, just like Adolf Hitler...” - Donald Rumsfeld, ex-Secretary of Defense

Connection with Terrorism

-16 March 2006: “In Venezuela, a demogoge full of oil money is undermining democracy and trying to destabilize the region.” -George W. Bush

-June 2006: “Venezuela’s cooperation in the international campaign against terrorism continues to be insignificant...It’s not clear to what point the Venezuelan government offered material support to Colombian terrorists.” - Annual Report on Terrorism, Department of State

Increase in Military Presence

-March-July 2006: The US military engages in four major exercises off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea, with support from NATO, and based at the US air force base in Curaçao. A permanen military presence is established in the Dominican Republic and the bases in Curaçao and Aruba are reinforced.

-July 2006: “Venezuela, under President Hugo Chávez, has tolerated terrorists in its territory...” -Subcommittee on International Terrorism, House of Representatives

Increase in Subversión

-The US Embassy in Caracas establishes the “American Corners” in 5 Venezuelan States (Lara, Monagas, Bolívar, Anzoátegui, Nueva Esparta), to act as centers of propaganda, subversion, espionage and infiltration.

-Ambassador Brownfield intensifies his public hostility towards the Venezuelan government

-The Embassy begins to promote separatism in the State of Zulia

-Funding of opposition groups via USAID and NED doubles

Chávez = “dictator”

-At the beginning of 2007, Venezuela is severely attacked in the international media & by US government spokespersons for its decision to nationalize the Cantv, the Electricity of Caracas and the Faja Orinoco oil fields.

-In May 2007 the attack intensifies with the decision to not renew the public operating concession to RCTV.

-A powerful international media campaign is initiated against Venezuela y President Chávez.

-The “food shortage” and “hording” strategy begins as part of an economic sabotage.

Chávez = “repressor of Human Rights”

-The USA foments, funds and encourages the right-wing student movement and helps to project their favorable image to the international community in order to distort the perception of President Chávez’s popularity.

-Groups like Human Rights Watch, Inter-American Press Association, Reporters without Borders accuse Venezuela of violating human rights and freedom of expression.

Increase in aggressions Cases: Colombia and the “maletín”

-5 August 2007: President Chávez commits during an Aló Presidente to contribute towards a humanitarian agreement between the FARC and the Colombian government

-6 August 2007: The case of the “maletín” (briefcase full of $800,000) is exploited in international media in an attempt to involve Chávez and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in an act of corruption and money laundering.

-15 August: President Chávez announces the Constitutional Reform

-30 August: Chávez pardons 41 paramilitaries imprisoned in Venezuela since 2004 for rebellion and attempted assassination

-31 August: Uribe accepts Chávez’s mediation in the humanitarian peace agreement

-17 September: Bush/USA classifies Venezuela as a nation “not cooperating” with the war against drug trafficking, for the third year in a row

They Launch the attack

-25 September: Condoleezza Rice declares the US is “concerned about the destructive populism” of Chávez

-26 October: A US nuclear submarine arrives in Curazao to presumably engage in espionage

-21 November: Uribe unilaterally terminates Chávez’s mediation in the humanitarian peace accord

-27 November: “Operation Tenaza” is made public (a plan to promote fear and violence during the days before the referendum on constitutional reform)


MEDIA WAR

-The media campaign against Chávez intensifies in national and international media:

*Chávez is a “de facto” dictator
*There is no freedom of expression
*There is no private property
*Human rights are violated and repressed


Increase in aggressions 2007

-2 December: We lose the referendum, but Chávez accepts the lose with grace and foils the campaign to demonize him as a “dictator”

-12 December: The FBI detains 3 Venezuelans and 1 Uruguayan in Miami accused of being “agents of the Venezuelan government” in the case of the “maletín”

-24-30 December: “Operation Emmanuel” begins to liberate 3 hostages held by the FARC

Uribe’s Sabotage

-31 December: Uribe announces that he has the child Emmanuel in custody and that he is not with the FARC in an attempt to ridicule and discredit Chávez, but Chávez acts gracefully and is content the boy is safe, and he proceeds with the liberation process of Clara Rojas and Consuelo González

-10 January 2008: After Uribe sabotages the hostage liberation with military operations in the region, the FARC release Clara Rojas and Consuelo González to President Chávez’s custody

The “meetings and visits” between the USA and Colombia begin one after the other...

Chávez = “arms race”

-17 January: Admiral Mike Mullen, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces meets with Uribe, Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos, US Ambassador William Brownfield y and the Commander General of the Colombian Armed Forces Fredy Padilla de León and declares during a press conference that he is “concerned about the arms purchases made by Chávez” and expresses that this could “destabilize the region.” He expresses complete support for Colombia and Uribe.

Chávez = “drug trafficker”

-19 January: John Walters, the US Anti-Drug Czar meets with Uribe in Colombia, together with 5 US congresspersons and Ambassador Brownfield, and declares Venezuela a nation “complicit with drug trafficking” that presents “a threat to the US and the region”. He also expresses his wish that the Free Trade Agreement between the US and Colombia be ratified by Congress soon.

-24 January: Condoleezza Rice visits Colombia, together with Sub-Secretary of State Thomas Shannon and 10 congress members from the democratic party to push the FTA and back Colombia in its conflict with Venezuela.

-25 January: Moíses Maionica declares himself “guilty” in the case of the “maletín” and “admits” to acting as an “agent of the Venezuelan government”

-28 January: President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address emphasizes the importance of the FTA with Colombia alerts to the threat of “populist” and “undemocratic” governments in the region.

-February: SOUTHCOM sends the Navy’s “4th fleet” to the Caribbean Sea (a group of war ships, submarines and aircraft carriers that haven’t been in these waters since the Cold War)

-1 February: The US Justice Department publicly implicates General Henry Rangel Silva, Director of the DISIP (civilian intelligence force), in the case of the “maletin”

-3 February: The magazine Semana from Colombia publishes an article tying General Hugo Carvajal, Director of Military Intelligence, with the FARC and drug trafficking

Chávez = “threat to US national security”

-5 February: The Director of National Intelligence, General Mike McConnell, publishes the Annual Threat Report which classifies Venezuela as the “principal threat against the US in the hemisphere”

-4-5 February: A high level meeting between the Commanders of the Colombian Navy and Army and the US Marines in Mayport, FL

-7 February: Exxon-Mobil tries to “freeze” $12 billion of Venezuelan assets in London, Holland and the Dutch Antilles as part of an economic sabotage

-8 February: General Mario Montoya Uribe, National Commander of the Colombian Army, visits the US Army South Command for a “briefing”.

-27 February: A Report on Present Threats to National Security of the Defense Intelligence Agency classifies Venezuela as a “national security threat” to the US.

Each time the FARC frees hostages, the US attacks Chávez

-27 February: The Farc release 4 hostages, Luís Eladio Pérez, Gloria Polanco, Jorge Eduardo Gecham and Orlando Beltrán, to Presidente Chávez’s custody.

-29 February: A Department of State report accuses Venezuela of being a country that permits “the transit of illegal drugs”, “money laundering” and being “complicit with drug trafficking.”

Colombian Aggression

-29 February: Rear Admiral Joseph Nimmich, Director of the US Joint Interagency Task Force, meets in Bogotá with the Commander General of the Colombian Armed Forces.

-1 March: The Colombian army invades Ecuatorian territory and assassinates Raúl Reyes and a dozen others, including 4 Mexicans, at a FARC camp in the jungle near the border.

Attempt to tie Chávez with terrorism

-2-3 March: General Jorge Naranjo, Commander of Colombia’s National Police, declares that laptop computers rescued from the scene of the bombing that killed Reyes and others evidence that President Chávez gave more than $300 million to the FARC along with a quantity of uranium and weapons. No other evidence is produced or shown to the public. Ecuador is also accused of supporting the FARC.

-2 March: Venezuela mobilizes troops to the border with Colombia

The US mobilizes

-4 March: The US Navy sends the Aircraft Carrier “Harry Truman” to the Caribbean Sea to engage in military exercises to prevent potential terrorist attacks and eventual conflicts in the region.

-4 March: President Bush states the US will defend Colombia against the “provocations” from Venezuela.

-4 March: Uribe announces he will bring a claim before the International Criminal Court against President Chávez for “sponsoring genocide and terrorism”.

Chávez = “money laundering”

-4 March: Carlos Kauffman declares himself “guilty” to acting as an “agent of the Venezuelan government” in the case of the “maletín.”

-5 March: The US Federal Prosecutor announces that a Venezuelan Vice-Minister of Interior and Justice is implicated in the case of the “maletín”.

Chávez = TERRORISM

-10 March: President Bush requests his team of lawyers and advisors review the possibility of placing Venezuela on the list of “STATE SPONSORS OF TERRORISM” together with Cuba, Iran, Syria and North Korea. This classification will seriously affect the commercial relations between the US and Venezuela since commerce between the nations will be prohibited. Such a classification will also justify the application of the “Bush Doctrine” - Preventive War - that could result in an invasion or other type of aggression against Venezuela.

-18 March: President Bush declares:"The regime in Caracas has railed against America, has forged an alliance with communist Cuba, has met with FARC leaders in Venezuela, has deployed troops to the Colombian border. In the process, regime leaders have squandered their oil wealth and left their people to face food shortages.

Recently when Colombian forces killed one of the FARC's most senior leaders they discovered computer files that suggest even closer ties between Venezuela's regime and FARC terrorists than we previously knew. Colombia officials are investigating the ties, but this much should be clear: The United States strongly supports, strongly stands with Colombia in its fight against the terrorists and drug lords."

OBJECTIVES

• Persuade the US Congress to ratify the FTA with Colombia
• Maintain the US military base Manta (destabilizing Correa’s government)
• Contain the influence of Chávez in the region and impede Latin American integration
• Promote a “transition” in Cuba
• Stop the constitutional processes in Bolivia and Ecuador
• Eliminate the FARC
• Encourage a military conflict in the region to justify international intervention and guarantee US control over oil and gas reserves in the region, of course overthrowing Chávez, Evo and Correa in the meantime

Sunday, March 9, 2008

THE PEACEMAKER




PERHAPS the most misrepresented and demonized figure in the media today, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, recently became a symbol of peace and diplomacy at the Rio Group Summit in Santo Domingo this past March 7. Chávez’s diplomatic, affectionate tone and his call to peace between sister nations calmed tensions between Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which just hours before had been on the brink of war after Colombia unilaterally violated Ecuador’s territory without permission or notification in order to bomb and assassinate a leader of the Fuerzas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) who was camped with a group of visiting Mexicans on the Ecuatorian side of the border. All those stationed at the FARC camp were killed, with the exception of three women, including one Mexican, who were injured and left by Colombian soldiers to die but were later rescued by Ecuatorian armed forces. Chávez, who had ordered his troops to the Colombian border and warned President Uribe of Colombia that a similar attempt to violate Venezuela’s sovereignty would be met with force, was quickly labeld by the international media as a “warmonger” and “responsable” for the conflict in the region. Colombia’s government, publicly backed by President Bush himself, accused Chávez and President Correa of Ecuador of aiding and funding the FARC, a group labeled “terrorist” by the United States, Colombia and the European Union, and even went so far as to implicate Chávez in the proposed sale of uranium to the FARC in order to build dirty bombs. These unsubstantiated - and extremely dangerous - allegations fall right in line with the increased efforts of the Bush Administration to label Chávez’s Venezuela as a nation that supports “drug trafficking”, “terrorism” and “money laundering”, and to classify Chávez as a “dictator”, “authoritarian” and “threat to U.S. interests.”

Debunking the Chávez myth is not as easy as it should be. Coverage of President Chávez and Venezuela is negative and distorted in 90% of major media outlets in Europe, Latin America and the United States. An analysis of the Washington Post editorial page during the past year shows that of the twenty-three editorials or OpEds specifically written about Venezuela, only one - written by Venezuela’s Ambassador to the US - presented a balanced vision of the South American nation’s political and economic situation. President Chávez was labeled as a “dictator”, “autocrat”, “strongman” or “despot” on ten occasions and references to his government as “dictatorial”, “authoritarian” or “repressive” were made in almost every article. Even worse, the Washington Post perpetuated the falsehood of Venezuela’s relationship with terrorism in almost a dozen editorials during the last year.

None of these claims about Venezuela and President Chávez’s slippery slope towards a terrorist dictatorship have ever been seriously substantiated with real evidence. In fact, a frightening parallel can be drawn between the Bush-Cheney lies about weapons of mass destruction in Sadaam Hussein’s Iraq and the false allegations about Chávez’s Venezuela funding and arming Colombian terrorists and facilitating drug trafficking and money laundering. The mere reference made by President Uribe regarding a possible sale of uranium to the FARC to build bombs is eerily reminiscent of Pat Robertson’s outrageous claims in 2005 that President Chávez was building a nuclear bomb with Iran to blow up the United States. While ridiculous, such allegations justified the U.S. invasion of Iraq after government officials hammered the false claims into public opinion and the media recycled lies. Those cynical or too naive to believe that a similar aggression could occur against Venezuela need only remember the U.S. invasion of socialist Grenada in 1983 or the bombing and invasion of Panamá in 1989. In both instances, neither government represented a real threat to the U.S., and in both cases, myths about “dangerous dictatorships” were perpetuated in the media in order to justify the unilateral attacks. When the truth comes out years later, as is the case with Iraq, U.S. officials offer insincere apologies and shrug it all off as “in the past” and anyway, they were all bad guys.

Over the past year, the U.S. State Department has classified Venezuela as a nation “not collaborating” with either the “war on drugs” or the “war against terrorism”. The Pentagon and the intelligence communities released reports earlier this year citing Venezuela as a “major threat to U.S. national security” and have proposed beefing up military presence in the region. The White House and Congress have increased USAID and National Endowment Funding to opposition groups in Venezuela in an effort to rebuild ailing conservatives that favor a U.S. agenda. International media portray Chávez as “public enemy #1” and the leader of a Latin American “axis of evil” that is threatening regional stability. Meanwhile, poverty in Venezuela has been reduced by more than 50% under the thrice-elected President Chávez, 100% of Venezuelans have access to free, quality health care and education beyond the doctoral level, voter participation has skyrocketed to unprecedented, historical levels and more new hospitals, schools, highways, bridges, railways and industries have been built since during the entire 40-year period of “representative democracy”. And to top it all off, Chávez has negotiated the release of six hostages held by the FARC for more than five years, helped pay off Venezuela’s, Argentina’s and Nicaragua’s foreign debt and established regional initiatives such as Telesur, the Bank of the South, PetroCaribe, UnaSur (Union of South American Nations) and ALBA, a cooperative trade agreement between Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia.

Hugo Chávez is a man of peace. The question to ask is why the Bush Administration and mass media continue to portray him as an evil dictator. But we all know the answer to that: Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. So what we really need to be asking is why public opinion - you - allow the perpetuation of this dangerous myth?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

FOUR FARC HOSTAGES JUST RELEASED TO VENEZUELANS



Luis Eladio Pérez, Gloria Polanco, Jorge Eduardo Gechem and Orlando Beltrán have just boarded the airplane in Venezuelan territory after having been released by the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias Colombianas Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) in a unilateral humanitarian gesture for peace in Colombia. We are expected to receive Luis, Gloria, Jorge and Orlando at approximately 6pm, Venezuelan time, in Maiquetía airport outside of Caracas, where their family members are anxiously waiting. This humanitarian gesture is a result of the international solidarity and humanistic foreign policy of the government of President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and the incredibly persistent and determined work for peace that Colombian Senator Piedad Córdova has been pursuing for over a decade.

The FARC has stated today that this is the last unilateral release of hostages until the Colombian government ceases military operations in the areas where the FARC is residing. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has made NO gestures or taken any steps whatsoever to further peace in Colombia, but rather has agitated the crisis by increasing military offensive measures in the regions where FARC is known to operate. Were it not for President Chávez and the revolutionary process in Venezuela, these four individuals who have been held hostage for 7 years would not be free, nor would Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez have been released in early January after 5 years as hostages in the Colombian jungle.

The US Government has critized and smeared President Chávez's efforts for regional peace by trying to brand him as an "ally of terrorists and drugtraffickers". But time will show that the US Government funded and armed Plan Colombia has been the #1 instigator of war, conflict and misery in Colombia, whereas President Chávez's actions have brought peace, love and hope to the people of Colombia.

QUE VIVA VENEZUELA! QUE VIVA EL PRESIDENTE CHAVEZ!!!

Monday, February 25, 2008

LAGGING ON THE BLOGGING, SORRY!

My book on a major Paris bookstore bookshelf

So sorry for the slacking on the blogging, folks! The year 2008 has just started out in a whirlwind and I've been a bit busy. But I've also been caught between dreamworld and reality, trying to focus on finishing up my third book (name withheld for copyright purposes) and trying to write another, more personal tale. Sometimes, however, it seems that writing as fiction may be better than writing as real life, so as to avoid any blemishes or cause any public scandals (just kidding! kinda...)

Anyway, I was traveling a bit in France in January, and proudly found my book The Chavez Code - French version Code Chavez - displayed prominently on the shelf of Paris' largest bookstore. That made me feel good, not in a selfish way, but really feel good that the book is reaching wider audiences. Also, I just happen to love France and Paris, so I just felt good in general.

Speaking of books....Bush vs. Chavez is finally really for sale in the US! Monthly Review Press (the publisher) sells it on their website Please do buy and read it and recommend it to your friends!!! Bush vs. Chavez: Washington's War on Venezuela is the continuation of The Chavez Code, from 2005 to the end of 2006 and focuses on short - but detailed and well-documented - descriptions of Washington's latest strategies of aggression against the Bolivarian Revolution. PYSOPS, Asymmetric Warfare (Wizard's Chess), Media Terrorism, Secession, Invasion Plans - these are just a few of the scary gems I researched and detail in the book. Read it and let me know what you think.

So, relations between Venezuela and Washington haven't gotten off to a good start in 2008, in fact, things are worse than ever. Despite President Chávez's "3 R" New Year's Resolution to revise, rectify and re-impulse the revolution, Washington is not rewriting or rectifying its Venezuela strategy, in fact, its revising it and reimpulsing its level of aggressivity and threat against Venezuela. January started out with more slurs against President Chávez by different US government officials, including Drug Czar John Walters calling Chávez a "drug trafficker" (more or less), and Condoleezza Rice hurrying down to Colombia to cuddle with paramilitary leader (and head of state) Alvaro Uribe to express the US Government's full backing of Colombia in its difficulties with Venezuela. Despite more cocaine flowing out of Colombia each day, the US Government has now classified Colombia as "fully cooperative" with the war on drugs and Venezuela as "fully uncooperative". I guess "cooperative" refers to allowing US forces and allies to come in and facilitate the drug flow, since that's how it works under Plan Colombia and that's precisely what the Chávez government has refused to accept.

Hands up to Chávez for ensuring the release of Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez, two former captives held by the FARC in Colombia. Today, we are on the verge of seeing another 4 captives released to Chávez by the FARC in a unilateral showing of desire for peace and the consolidation of a humanitarian agreement with the Colombian government. Unfortunately, Uribe's government has stated it will not negotiate or agree to anything with the FARC. So, if it wasn't for Chávez, no one would get released and peace would never be on the horizon.

By the way, Uribe is pushing for yet another constitutional amendment to allow him to run again for president in 2010. Colombia's constitution pre-2004 only allowed for 1 presidential term of 4 years. Uribe pushed for an amendment to allow for a 2nd term reelection, which was passed despite heavy opposition, and he ran and won the presidency again. Now, he wants to amend the constitution to allow for a 3rd term. Do I hear cries of "president-for-life", "indefinite president", "dictator" or anything like that coming out of the US?????? Yet another double standard at play.

The US Directorate of National Intelligence and National Intelligence Director General Michael McConnell released its Annual Threat Assessment in early February and dedicated 3 1/2 whole pages to Venezuela - almost the same Iran, Syria, Irak and Russia got!!!! Boy has Venezuela really moved up on the list of US targets! Actually it's a pretty serious (and very scary) matter. Venezuela is now a direct military target of US defense and intelligence agencies as confirmed by this "threat assessment". Watch how this new classification plays out over the next few months. No doubt there will be an increase in US military presence in this region and a lot more bad mouthing of Chávez coming out of Washington - mark my words.

Meanwhile, ex-Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield, who moved next door to Colombia, can't seem to keep his mouth shut. He's talking more now about the Venezuelan government than he was when he was shacking up in Valle Arriba in Caracas. His latest statements about the drug trafficking "explosion" in Venezuela (since he left) made on a Colombian radio station, got him in to trouble with the Colombian government, which received a formal complaint from the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry about Brownfield's big and lying mouth. He apologized, but not for what he said, only for saying it on the radio.

Did you all hear about the Peace Corp and Fulbright Scholars getting busted in Bolivia for spying?? Evo is just kicking some US spy ass these days. He's exposed US Ambassador Philip Goldberg on numerous occasions for spying, consorting with paramilitaries, funding Bolivian opposition groups illegally, trying to run illegal "special ops" units around Bolivia and now using Fulbright Scholars to spy on "venezuelans and cubans" in Bolivia. I think it is especially cool that Fulbright Scholar Alexander Van Schaick came forward about all this and exposed CIA dirty tactics. Read about it here.

OK, that's enough catching up for today. I hope to stay on track with the Blog more in the upcoming days and weeks. We have regional elections here in Venezuela this year and believe me, things are only going to get more intense.

Feel free to write in the comments sections any questions or suggestions on things to write about from the ground here in Caracas.

Chao!

Monday, December 31, 2007

DREAM AND ACT: A MESSAGE FOR 2008

The following is the Commencement speech that nobel-prize winning writer Toni Morrison gave at my university, Sarah Lawrence College, in 1993. It is my gift to you for the New Year.

"If you don't feed the poor, they will eat you. And the manner of their eating is as varied as it is ferocious. If you don't give them the help, them the courtesy, them the respect you had in becoming educated, then they will educate themselves. And the things they will teach, and the things they will learn, may destabilize all you know. And by education, I don't mean hobbling the mind, but liberating it. By education, I don't mean passing on monologues, but engaging in dialogue, listening sometimes, assuming sometimes that I have a history, that I have a language, a view, a specificity, assuming that what I know may be useful, may enhance what you know, may extend or even complete it.

My memory is as necessary to yours, as yours is to mine.

Before we look for a useable past, we ought to know all of it. Before we start reclaiming a legacy, we ought to know exactly what legacy is - all of it. And where it came from. In the business of education, there are no minorities, there is only minor thinking. Because if education requires tuition, but no meaning, it is going to be about NOTHING other than careers. If it's about NOTHING other than defining and husbanding beauty, isolating goods and making sure enrichment is the privilege of a few - then it can be stopped in the sixth grade - where everybody learned it. Or the Sixth century - where everybody had mastered it.

Well, what would it be like to live without that putrifying hatred that we have been told and taught was inevitable, natural among human beings? INEVITABLE, NATURAL, after a presence of what, five million years? After recording ourselves for four thousand years - we haven't thought of anything better than that? And which one of us was born that way? Which one of us prefers it that way? Hating or grabbing or despising. Racism is a scholarly pursuit. And it always has been. It's not gravity or the ocean tides. It's the invention of our minor thinkers. Our minor leaders. Our minor scholars. And our major entrepreneurs. And it can be uninvented. Deconstructed. It's annihilation begins with just dreaming about, visualizing it's absence. Lose it, and if it can't be lost at once or just by saying so - then BEHAVE as if it were. BEHAVE as if our free life depended on it. Because it does.

If I spend my life despising you because of your race, or your class, or your religion, then I have become your slave. If you spend yours hating me for similar reasons, it's because you have become my slave. I have your energy. I have your fear. I have your intellect. I can determine where you live. How you live. What your work is. I can determine your definition of excellence. And I can set the limits to your ability to love. Which means that I have shaped your life. That is the gift of your hatred. You are mine.

Well, now you may be asking yourselves - what is all this? I can't save the world. What about my life, you ask? I didn't come here for this. I didn't even ask to come here. I didn't ask to be born. You insisted on your life. That's why you are here. There is no other reason. It's too easy not to have been born. And now that you're here - you have to do something. Something you respect - don't you? Your parents may have wanted you. But they did not dream you up. You did that. I'm just urging you to continue the dream you started. Because dreaming is not irresponsible. It's first order - human business. It's not entertainment, you know. It's work. When Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "I have a dream," he wasn't playing. He was serious. When he imagined it, envisioned it, created it in his own mind - it began. Now - we have to dream too. And give it the heft and stretch and longevity it deserves. But don't let anybody convince you - this is the way the world IS and therefore must BE. Nobody prefers mindlessness. Appetites for self-murder can be erradicated. No addict or suicide wants to be one. Enemies, races, nations - they can live together. Anybody over eight years old has already witnessed the expedient, commecial, almost whimsical nature of national friendships.

I have seen resources commited to the disenfranchised, the discredited, the merely unlucky. And before we can reap the harvest of these resources, before legislation put in place could work, it was disassembled. That determined committment must be re-dreamed, re-thought, re-activated by me and you. Otherwise, as nationalisms and racisms solidify, as coasts and villages become and remain forces of turmoil and dispute, as eagles and doves hover over the remaining sources of the raw wealth of the earth - as guns and gold and cocaine topple grain, technology and medicine to win first place in world trade - if these things go on we will end up with a worth not worth sharing or even dreaming about.

What I mean to say is - we are already life. Chosen by ourselves - humans as far as we know - there aren't anymore - we are the moral inhabitants of the galaxy. Why trash that magnificent obligation after working so hard in the womb to assume it? You will be in positions that matter. Positions in which you can decide the nature and quality of other people's lives. Your errors may be irrevocable. So when you enter these places of trust and power - dream a little before you think and solve. So your thoughts, your solutions, your directions, your choices about who lives and who doesn't, who flourishes and who doesn't, will be worth the very sacred life that you already chose to live.

You're not helpless. And you're not heartless. And you / have / time."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas in Caracas

(Cartoon by Angél Boligan)

Caracas has been in a crazed consumer frenzy during the past 2 weeks. Finally, things are settling down since most people have left the City for vacation spots around the world and lots have gone to spend their holidays at the beach. The City, which normally is over-congested with traffic and madness, was in particular form after December 15 (payday). The traffic was un-mysteriously concentrated in huge jams around...the MALLS! Spend, spend, spend...buy, buy, buy...oh, and light of firecrackers day and night!!! The "bin ladens" and the "mother-in-law-killers", as the powerful cherry bombs are called, have been waking up the more peace-loving caraqueños in cold sweats since December 1, and probably won't stop until after the New Year.

But, despite those obstacles, Caracas is beautiful in Christmas time! Especially with most of the people gone from the City!!! Lots of lights and decorations and celebrations everywhere. Venezuelans are a happy people who love to party!

President Chavez hsn't stopped to rest since the December 2 referendum vote. He's been traveling throughout Latin America and just finished up overseeing the Petro-Caribe summit in Cuba, which further solidifies the discounted petroleum agreement Venezuela inaugurated last year along with a dozen Caribbean nations. Petro-Caribe will provide low cost oil to neighboring nations, particularly poor ones like Haiti, in return for payment through goods and services. This is yet another aspect of Venezuela's foreign policy based on cooperation and solidarity.

The ridiculous "maletin" scandal that has been filling up airwaves and newspaper front pages during the past 10 days will be brought to surface yet again on December 28, when supposedly the 4 men detained in South Florida will have a hearing. So far, no evidence has been produced that actually demonstrates that these individuals were acting with the "direction" and "authority" of the Venezuelan government, which is a necessary step in order for the US Department of Justice to prove their case that the guys were acting as "agents" of the Chavez administration. So far, looks like a bogus case since the only connection proven between the detainees and the Venezuelan government are some very legitimate business deals. Imagine if every single person who did some kind of business with a foreign nation was considered an agent of that government! Most corporations, multinationals and even small and medium size businesses would be in danger then of violating US laws. The Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) of which these men are accused of violating, only applies to those individuals who are acting as agents under the direction and authority of a foreign government on US soil, and they have to be engaging in work relating to the political sphere (political activism or lobbying). This generally refers to lobbyists, public relations representatives, consultants (lawyers are exempt from FARA) and spies. Seeing as how those 4 men implicated in this scandal appear to be none of the above, looks like the case is just another attempt to smear the reputation of the Chavez government. No surprise that such dirty work is being done in the hands of the Bush administration and its Justice Department.

Anyway, if Chavez really wanted to give Cristina some money for her campaign, he would have just brought it himself on his own plane, which would never have been subject to search because of diplomatic immunity. He certainly wouldn't have authorized some sketchy mafiosa businessman to carry a briefcase full of cash on a private plane to Argentina. Please!!!!

The revolution doesn't rest for Christmas, I'll be working on finally finishing up my next book over the next 2 weeks. 2008 should be a year full of progress and achievements! The best gift of all is the contribution we each can make to building a more just and peaceful world.
Happy Holidays to all!!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Reflection and Revolution!

President Chavez with his new grandson, Jorge.

After the loss by a narrow margin of the referendum on the Constitutional Reform last Sunday, things are getting back to normal here in Venezuela. President Chavez's very graceful acceptance of the results has been an extraordinary showing of dignity and integrity to the world community, which had gotten used to calling him a dictator. Had the SI vote won by such a narrow margin, the opposition surely would have cried fraud and taken to the streets in violence. In fact, those scenarios were ready to go on Sunday, and the "guarimbas" (street violence & destabilization) was starting to begin that afternoon as the opposition prepared for a defeat. Believe me, the government and people were ready to defend themselves against the violence the extremist right-wing opposition had prepared for Sunday night, but Chavez made the right decision. He even admitted that had his reform won by a slight margin, he would't have accepted it. He would rather have peace in the country than a reform approved by a slim majority. What other head of state in the world would act in such a dignified, mature way??? Probably none. Certainly not Bush in the US who has won all his elections by narrow, questionable margins. Anyway, now is time to reflect on the elections, the campaign, the proposed reform, and analyze where errors were made and what can be improved.

The opposition here is still trying to say fraud was committed even though they won. They are beyond ridiculous. Extremists from the Un Nuevo Tiempo party are trying to claim the government committed fraud because the opposition exit polls and quick counts done by Sumate - a group funded by the USAID and NED - shows the opposition winning by 8 points instead of the 1.5 points that the official results show. So, when they lose, they cry fraud, and when they win, well, they also cry fraud. I think that Chavez's democratic credentials stand much stronger today than any member of the so-called opposition.

Be alert to happenings in Bolivia. Looks like the opposition there is heating up the streets and trying to overthrow Evo Morales' government. Tonight, Evo called for a recall referendum on his own presidency and that of the country's governors, most of whom are opposition. If that initiative takes place, things could get really ugly there. I may take a trip there soon to check out the scene and document some of the US intervention that is contributing to the destabilization of Evo's government.

It's December in Venezuela and Christmas is coming! The streets are full of decorations and lights and the traffic is unbearable. People are out spending their end-of-the-year bonuses and demonstrating that Venezuela is still as capitalist as ever, despite the opposition's constant whining about the imposition of a "castro-communist" state.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

VOTE CALM AND DEMOCRATIC IN VENEZUELA

Just a quick update. It's almost 6pm and the voting day is pretty much over. Most centers are beginning to tally up the figures and send them on to the National Elections Council (CNE) for final auditing and counting. We expect the first official report to be released within about 2 hours. I voted early this morning with little difficulties - there were some minor technical problems at the voting center where I voted, but CNE technicians quickly resolved everything and got the voting on track. There appears to have been a lot of participation- little abstention, despite what many polls had suggested. The Plan Republic, which is the defense and security operation that secures the electoral processes here, has detained approximately 50 people for electoral crimes (fraud primarily - voting with fake ID cards, usurping identities, etc.). But otherwise, there have been few incidents.

Venezuelans, as always, have spent the voting day peacefully in a joyful, festive environment.

Once results are in, the celebrations of victory will begin!!!