Won’t Somebody Stop This Madman?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez inaugurated a new social program known as a “mission” on Saturday, which focuses exclusively on the health of Venezuelans who have disabilities.

Chávez explained Saturday that the new mission will be carried out partially by students in the Venezuelan-Cuban School for Communitarian Integral Medicine. These students do their residency and internships in small clinics in poor communities, systematically recording medical histories in communities with no previous access to health care. Last week, Chávez met directly with communitarian integral medicine students and announced the doubling of their monthly grant for living expenses to 500 bolivars ($233).

Socialised medicine, ending the marginalisation of those with disabilities? Oh the depravity!

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Uribe’s Hubris

“The Israel of Latin America”

Well that is what Chavez quipped as he referred to Colombia’s assault on a FARC group in Ecuador, adding-

“Colombia is a terrorist state that is subject to the great terrorist, the government of the United States and their apparatus,” 

No words minced there, the attack turns out to be a lot bigger operation than a quick ground attack-

Investigations on the part of the Ecuadorian authorities show there was no combat on the side of the FARC unit which was attacked. With the exception of three of them keeping guard, the 18 killed were asleep in their undergarments; none of the guerrillas had the opportunity of fighting or surrendering. The arms in the camp were piled up. They did not have the chance even to reach for their rifles and grenades; they were massacred while asleep.

After the bombing from these aircraft, several ‘Supertuscan’ helicopters of the Colombian air force came in and from these the attack on the FARC camp in Ecuadorian territory continued. The helicopters landed special commandos who finished off the injured guerrillas. As the bullet wounds in the bodies of the majority of the guerrillas show, many of them were piled up in a part of the camp and killed from behind. Even the photographs taken by the Colombian government of Raul Reyes’ body show he had a shot on the left side of his face.

Information coming from Ecuadorian military intelligence indicates that the country’s air space was not only violated on the dawn of March 1 but also that on the dawn of March 2 there was another incursion of the helicopters with night vision equipment to pick up members of the armed forces and Colombian police still in Ecuadorian territory. The position of the trees brought down by the bombardment, the multiple bullet holes on them, as also the position of the bodies, demonstrate that while the FARC was guarding the camp on the northern side facing the Colombian frontier, the air incursion happened from the south, which indicates that the Colombian air force intruded without permission or notification, contravening all international norms about Ecuadorian air space.

Washington is of course backing Uribe to the hilt, he is their kind of guy-

After years of increased violations of civilian human rights, the ongoing suppression of trade-unionism, assassinations of left-of-centre activists and politicians, and a political reality that has witnessed 75 governors, mayors and Congressional politicians alleged or found guilty of having direct links to the paramilitaries- including Vice-President Francisco Santos Calderón and his cousin Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos and President Uribe’s brother Santiago and their cousin Senator Mario Uribe-now the Colombian state has deemed it necessary to illegally encroach upon those nations that deviate from their ideological model of political and economic centralization. 

FARC while no angels, have been designated as terrorists for political and strategic reasons-

Characterizing the FARC-EP as a foreign terrorist organization dramatically alters the dynamics of the peace process in favour of a killer state. Stipulating that the FARC-EP is terrorist results in the inability for legal peace negotiations to take place between the FARC-EP and any government that subscribes to the categorization. According to James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer, promoting the FARC-EP-and its supporters-as terrorists “puts them on the list of targets to be assaulted by the US military machine” and “thus subject to total war.” 

And the timing of this attack might be about Uribe’s domestic agenda-

The actions of March 1 took place days before a major international demonstration scheduled for March 6. Promoted by The National Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes (MOVICE), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and countless social justice-based organizations, March 6 has been set as an international day of protest against those tortured, murdered and disappeared by the Colombian state, their allies within the paramilitary United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) and the newly-reformed Black Eagles. Recently, President Uribe’s top political adviser, José Obdulio Gaviria, proclaimed that the protest and protesters should be criminalized.

It came at an opportune time, because there’s been criticism of Uribe Velez for not really carrying out serious measures to release the hostages that the FARC have been holding for some time now. Just last week, four hostages were released by the FARC to the Venezuelan government because of the intervention of Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan government. And those people, when they got to Venezuela, those people who were in captivity for five, six years, immediately started criticizing and calling into question Uribe Velez’s positions 

The military assistance that the United States has directed has been presented as a counter-narcotics aid package of over $5 billion over the last eight years in Plan Colombia. But there’s no doubt that it has been really geared towards attacking the guerrillas. It’s been a counterinsurgency assistance package that continues to maintain the same levels that it did even in 1999 and 2000, when Plan Colombia first started. 

Which is sort of, could be good news (domestic repression, Uribe’s ego, imperialism and state terror aside) as it doesn’t relate to a deeper motive of regional war to benefit America and its allies, but the criminal disregard of Ecuador’s sovereignty and Uribe’s alliance with Washington have created a risk of conflict. The antagonism towards non US aligned states and leftists informs all the corporate reporting of this, one view is despite shiny new Russia weapons the Venezuelan military are no match for the ‘battle-hardened Colombian troops‘ and their US allies. Or should that be Colombians are no match for internal and external war- two borders and an insurgency. And then there appeared another ‘laptop of death’ claimed to be Paul Reyes and captured by the Colombians and suddenly a chorus of nuclear terrorism is being hawked around the place- Colombia says some documents suggest the rebels have bought and sold uranium– As Rafeal puts it Imperial Pet Stalks the Land. Certainly the Uribe regime prefers killing their opposition rather than negotiation-

Careful analysts of the Colombian situation continue to debate whether the Colombian state is pre-fascist or actually fascist. It is certainly neither humane nor actually democratic. 

However the closed borders impede the large volume of trade between Colombia and Venezuela- $6 billion per year in trade, with Venezuela importing cars, beef and medicine from its neighbor. Colombia imports chemicals, iron and plastic from Venezuela.- And Colombia’s stock’s are falling. But Uribe enjoys great popularity playing this as Bush does, as a war on terror-

The case is being presented as a justified incursion into Ecuadorian territory in pursuit of terrorist groups that haven’t been persecuted by the Ecuadorian government. This is basically the position of the government. And as I say, both the media and opposition parties have also fully supported the decision of the government to present the case in this way.

So Uribe might be happy this has helped defuse the coming demonstrations against his abuses but the reaction might be more than he bargained for and is the Empire’s already overstretched military ready to back up its proxy? So rather than Colombia being Latin America’s Israel, Uribe is Latin America’s Bush, but it would be better if Colombians didn’t have to learn that via a bloody quagmire.

Exxon Attacking Venezuelan Oil Nationalisation

“If you end up freezing (Venezuelan assets) and it harms us, we’re going to harm you,” Chavez said. “Do you know how? We aren’t going to send oil to the United States. Take note, Mr. Bush, Mr. Danger.”

Exxon Mobil has gone after the assets of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA in U.S., British and Dutch courts as it challenges the nationalization of a multibillion dollar oil project by Chavez’s government.

A British court has issued an injunction “freezing” as much as $12 billion in assets.

“I speak to the U.S. empire, because that’s the master: continue and you will see that we won’t sent one drop of oil to the empire of the United States,” Chavez said during his weekly radio and television program, “Hello, President.”

“The outlaws of Exxon Mobil will never again rob us,” Chavez said, accusing the Irving, Texas-based oil company of acting in concert with Washington.

Chavez has repeatedly threatened to cut off oil shipments to the United States, which is Venezuela’s No. 1 client, if Washington tries to oust him. Chavez’s warnings on Sunday appeared to extend that threat to attempts by oil companies to challenge his government’s nationalization drive in courts internationally.

“If the economic war continues against Venezuela, the price of oil is going to reach $200 (a barrel) and Venezuela will join the economic war,” Chavez said. “And more than one country is willing to accompany us in the economic war.”

This neatly reveals the political totalitarianism of the corporatocracy, people who work for corporations will often not think that what they do is any more than their job/career. When they vote, that’s politics, but not what they do for many hours every weekday. Thus reinforcing the false assumption that the current global capitalism is some kind of common-sensical natural order and democracy is really just choosing different management styles. As if something you do once every few years for a few minutes is somehow more powerful than that which you do for thousands of days between each election. Thus the scam of pretending capitalism=democracy thrives.
But here a political and economic war is taking place where a global corporation closely allied to national governments and military power is attacking a sovereign nation. Support Hamas and you will be called a terrorist, but work for Exxon? Well that’s just a job, innit?

Bank Of The South

Curiously the news of the launch of this bank as an alternative to the World bank/IMF/Washington consensus has not been greeted with cheers of joy from the Church of the Free Market, somehow forgetting that ‘competition’ stuff from their ideology …as the masks fall from their colonial faces.

“The bank is a political fact and is part of an economic war that is also social and ideological,” Chavez said. “We don’t have money? We do, but it’s deposited in banks of the north, in US treasury bonds … in euros, in yens. The time has arrived to begin to bring these resources to the region,”

Chavez earlier blasted the IMF, describing it as “a curse” on the region, and slammed its “shock politics that have spread hunger, misery, poverty and violence to our peoples.”

Brazil’s Lula said the regional bank “will finance projects in key economic sectors such as infrastructure, science and technology, and bring more balance to the region.”

Brazilian government spokesman Marcelo Baumbach added that the new institution “will play a significant role in regional integration and in consolidating the Union of South American Nations.”

Ecuador’s Correa said that the Bank of the South will help Latin America break out of its financial chains. “Its a huge step on the road to Latin American integration. We have a common past, now its time we aim for a common future,” Correa told reporters.

Bolivia’s Morales said the bank would help South America develop its own currency and resist the pressures of international lending institutions that demanded the privatization of state-owned companies in return for their loans.

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Chavez Fails To Make His Case

Caracas, December 3, 2007 – Venezuela’s National Electoral Council Announced at 1:15am that the No vote against the President’s constitutional reform proposal lost 49.3% to 50.7%, with 45% abstention. Chavez conceded that the reform proposal lost “for now.”

The vote was divided into two blocks, whereby the first block included Chavez’s 33 proposed article changes and the second block included changes proposed by the national assembly. The second block lost with a slightly higher margin, with 51.0% for “No” to 49.0% for “Yes”.

Such is democracy and that is the point while reported as a the last chance to save Venezuela from a gerbillion years of Chavez commufascist rule! It was a referendum on constitutional changes, not an election not a coup (ahem, looking at no one in particular Florida & Ohio). An open public vote and he accepts he lost it (looking at no one in particular, ahem, Bush) and while I reckon he would have won the vote if there hadn’t been generously backed right wing opposition this shows a dynamic and messy democratic process at work so it would be nice to see some less biased coverage internationally. Chavez is doing something new and different, he may be overly strident which allows for caricatures, but ask any left wing Latin American leader of the past -oh you can’t, they have all been killed in US backed coups- America wants to control its ‘backyard’ and a country wanting to stand on its own sovereign soil and makes its own decisions is constantly under threat. While Chavez is demonised by conservative capitalists & their corporate media shills (including this hilariously deranged op-ed by Donald Rumsfeld -who apparently won’t be held accountable for war crimes because Sarko leaned on the judiciary and they invented an immunity for heads of state/officials. See? Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot would have been absolved by that precedent! Woohoo!)  he gave his people what they routinely deny countries under the torture regimes they back, a vote (looking at no one in particular, ahem, Pakistan).

Operation Pincer- Another US Backed Coup In Venezuela?

Update: Now in the corporate media although they studiously avoid ‘CIA’ or quoting any of the document.

On November 26, 2007 the Venezuelan government broadcast and circulated a confidential memo from the US embassy to the CIA which is devastatingly revealing of US clandestine operations and which will influence the referendum this Sunday… The memo sent by an embassy official, Michael Middleton Steere, was addressed to the head of the CIA, Michael Hayden. The memo was entitled ‘Advancing to the Last Phase of Operation Pincer’…

The US operatives emphasized their capacity to recruit former Chavez supporters among the social democrats (PODEMOS) and the former Minister of Defense Baduel, claiming to have reduced the ‘yes’ vote by 6% from its original margin. Nevertheless the Embassy operatives concede that they have reached their ceiling, recognizing they cannot defeat the amendments via the electoral route. The memo then recommends that Operation Pincer (OP) [Operación Tenaza] be operationalized. OP involves a two-pronged strategy of impeding the referendum, rejecting the outcome at the same time as calling for a ‘no’ vote. The run up to the referendum includes running phony polls, attacking electoral officials and running propaganda through the private media accusing the government of fraud and calling for a ‘no’ vote.

The ultimate objective of ‘Operation Pincer’ is to seize a territorial or institutional base with the ‘massive support’ of the defeated electoral minority within three or four days (before or after the elections – is not clear. JP) backed by an uprising by oppositionist military officers principally in the National Guard. The Embassy operative concede that the military plotters have run into serous problems as key intelligence operatives were detected, stores of arms were decommissioned and several plotters are under tight surveillance.

The key and most dangerous threats to democracy raised by the Embassy memo point to their success in mobilizing the private university students (backed by top administrators) to attack key government buildings including the Presidential Palace, Supreme Court and the National Electoral Council. The Embassy is especially praiseworthy of the ex-Maoist ‘Red Flag’ group for its violent street fighting activity.

Any port in a storm eh? Anyways, if things start to go down as suggested by this memo we know what the deal is and this is genuine. The break down of the tentative relationship with Colombia and Uribe- the terrorist US & UK backed criminal- might signal word is out the empire is going to turn the referendum into a precipitating event for unrest and a takeover.

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No Fake Boobs For Chavez

Good man, I prefer quality not quantity ( ‘quan-tity’!) and I’m more of an ass man anyway. Ahem, the nexus of wealth and sexual attractiveness is not a happy or a good place.

President Hugo Chavez railed against a new trend in beauty-conscious Venezuela, giving girls breast implants for their 15th birthday. “Now some people think, ‘My daughter’s turning 15, let’s give her breast enlargements.’ That’s horrible. It’s the ultimate degeneration,” Chavez said late on Sunday on his weekly TV show that lasted a record eight hours.

Venezuela is well known for its beauty queens, who have regularly won world crowns, and many women have plastic surgery in the oil-rich country where there is widespread spending on consumer items that would be considered luxuries elsewhere. But Chavez, the anti-U.S., self-styled revolutionary who came to office in 1999, is seeking to change those attitudes to create what he calls the “new man” to build a socialist society in this South American nation.

Chavez complained about the new fad of giving the plastic surgery operation at 15 — when Latin Americans celebrate a girl’s coming-of-age — during a diatribe against what he says are Western-imposed consumerist icons such as Barbie dolls. While breast implants are advertised on TV and banks offer special credit lines for such operations, if girls do get the enlargements they are not expected to become sexually active afterward.

Venezuelans’ have a habit of avid consumerism since the 1970s oil boom in the OPEC nation. They have won the nickname of the “Give-Me-Twos” in the tourist destination of Florida for buying double the amount of typical consumers. Breast implants cost thousands of dollars in Venezuela. Chavez’s answer? He has told his supporters to give away any extra goods they do not need, urging them to leave out in town squares items such as fans or refrigerators.

“I am calling on your conscience, fathers of this country, mothers of this country, they are our sons, they are our daughters,” Chavez said. Still, Chavez, who happily describes himself as ugly, may struggle to change Venezuelans’ mind-set to spending on plastic surgery. In elevators, at huge, jam-packed shopping malls, women can be overheard openly boasting about their recent, conspicuous operations.