Friday, May 25, 2007

Is the venezuelan TV channel RCTV being closed?

[VIDEO] Is the venezuelan TV channel RCTV being closed?
By Hands Off Venezuela
Friday, 04 May 2007
The non-renewal of the licence to RCTV on the part of the Venezuelan government on May 27, has unleashed a campaign in the international media alleging that there is no freedom of expression in Venezuela. This 25 minute documentary explains the background to this decission. See also the Venezuela Information Office Fact-Sheet on RCTV

Press Freedoms in Venezuela: The Case of RCTV


In late 2006, the Venezuelan government announced its decision not to renew the 20-year broadcasting license of Radio Caracas Television (RCTV). Though the television station will no longer operate on the open-access airwaves, cable and satellite broadcasts will still be permitted. Though the decision has faced criticism by those who claim it is a move to restrict press freedoms, most governments worldwide enjoy the constitutional right to regulate media licensing, including that of the U.S. RCTV’s non-renewal does not violate legal norms in Venezuela, nor does it significantly alter the balance of power in Venezuela's vociferous, opposition-affiliated and privately-owned media. The decision forms part of a larger policy program for democratizing Venezuela's airwaves.

The Grounds for Non-Renewal

Historically, RCTV has demonstrated extremely poor business conduct and its frequent legal infringements comprise the most important reasons for the non-renewal decision. An op-ed by Bart Jones of Newsday appearing in the Houston Chronicle asserts that "it's doubtful [RCTV's] actions would last more than a few minutes with the FCC [in the U.S.]."[i] In fact, RCTV has often faced legal sanctions for its poor practices, and indeed has been closed or fined numerous times by various administrations, including President Chavez's most recent predecessors. The television station is also in default for tax payments spanning a three year period.[ii] This most recent decision is not an isolated case, but is the first opportunity the government has had to reconsider its licensing since the 20-year contract began.

RCTV's Legal Offenses
  • 1976 - Closed for 3 days Tendentious news coverage
  • 1980 - Closed for 36 hours Sensationalist programming
  • 1981 - Closed for 24 hours Airing pornographic scenes
  • 1989 Closed for 24 hours Airing advertisements for cigarettes
  • 1991 - Programming suspended Program "La Escuelita" suspended

Most importantly, in 2002, RCTV ran ads encouraging the public to take to the streets and overthrow the democratically elected president. Once Chavez was forcefully removed from office, the station continued to collude with the coup government by conducting a news blackout. In fact, one of the managing producers of Venezuela's highest-rated newscast, the RCTV program El Observador, testified that he was instructed by RCTV's owner, Marcel Granier, on the day of the coup to show "No information on Chávez, his followers, his ministers, and all others that could in any way be related to him."[iii] RCTV falsely reported that President Chavez had resigned, and, when Venezuelans took to the streets demanding his return two days later, the station aired cartoons. [iv]

The Legal Right not to Renew

The Venezuelan government, like most others worldwide, has the constitutional right to make decisions regarding all public broadcasting. In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) makes decisions regarding the licensing of broadcasters. As in Venezuela, that agency has the power to grant broadcasting rights to any outlet, and to deny those rights to broadcasters that do not comply with legal guidelines. Surprisingly absent from debates around RCTV is the fact that our own FCC has closed three TV stations due to legal infractions since 1969: WLBT-TV in Mississippi, CBS affiliate WLNS-TV in Michigan, and Trinity Broadcasting in Miami. In Venezuela, access to the broadcast spectrum is granted and regulated in accordance with the Organic Law of Telecommunications contained in constitutional Article 156.

Democratization of the Airwaves

The decision not to renew RCTV's broadcasting license will allow for a broader democratization of Venezuela's airwaves, offering access to the broadcast spectrum. RCTV has long had a disproportionate influence in the Venezuelan media by maintaining the most powerful broadcasting signal in the country for more than 50 years and is currently one of two private channels that together claim 70% of all TV revenues each year. RCTV's non-renewal will allow for a redistribution of the airwaves, and may be used to provide community programming and public television, allowing new voices and views to be heard in Venezuela.

Revenue shares of television companies in 2006

The Opposition and Freedom of Expression

With President Chavez's landslide electoral victory as an alternative to the two major political parties in 1998, the privately-owned media in Venezuela assumed the role of the traditional political parties, and became an outlet for them to challenge and derail the actions of the newly elected President.[v] The fact that the media – which is majority privately owned – is closely associated with the opposition is undisputed and may shed light on why the government’s decision not to renew RCTV’s license is currently being criticized.

In 2002, Human Rights Watch found that, "Far from providing fair and accurate reporting, the media by and large seek to provoke popular discontent and outrage in support of the hard-line opposition." [vi] Several journalists have even noted, "the five main privately owned channels—Venevisión, Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV), Globovisión, Televen and CMT—and nine out of the 10 major national newspapers, including El Universal, El Nacional, Tal Cual, El Impulso, El Nuevo País and El Mundo, have taken over the role of the traditional political parties, which were damaged by the president’s electoral victories. Their monopoly on information has put them in a strong position. They give the opposition support, only rarely reporting government statements and never mentioning its large majority…Their investigations, interviews and commentaries all pursue the same objective: to undermine the legitimacy of the government and to destroy the president’s popular support…the media is still directly encouraging dissident elements to overthrow the democratically elected president – if necessary by force…”[vii]

The Venezuelan private media plays a controversial role in the political life of the country, but not all human rights organizations cite a deterioration of freedom of expression.[viii] The Venezuelan government has respected and defended civil liberties, including freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and the RCTV non-renewal does not constitute an infringement on press freedoms.

Media Ownership in Venezuela
Television Of 81 stations … 79 (97%) are privately owned
Radio Of 709 stations … 706 (99%) are privately owned
Newspapers Of 118 companies … 118 (100%) are privately owned

[i] "Chavez as Castro? It's not that simple in Venezuela," Houston Chronicle, February 7, 2007.
[ii] "RCTV ha sido el canal más sancionado en Venezuela," Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias, March 29, 2007.
[iii] “Venezuela’s Media Coup” by Naomi Klein, The Nation, February 13, 2003.
[iv] Eva Golinger, "The Media War Against the People: A Case Study of Media Concentration and Power in Venezuela," in Olivia Burlingame Goumbri, ed., The Venezuela Reader: The Building of a People's Democracy (EPICA, 2005).
[v] Golinger, p. 91.
[vi] "Venezuela's Political Crisis," Human Rights News, Human Rights Watch, October 9, 2002.
[vii] Maurice Lemonine, Le Monde Diplomatique, August 2002.
[viii] Maurice Lemonine, "How Hate Media Incited the Coup Against the President," in Gregory Wilpert, ed., Coup Against Chavez in Venezuela (Fondación Venezolana para la Justicia Global, 2003), p. 158.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Keith Olbermann - Special Comment

The entire government has failed us on Iraq

Venezuela: The Times They Are A-Changin’

Written by Gabriel Ash
Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Venezuela is changing. Fast. No other word captures the speed and magnitude of change as well as that weighty word--‘revolution.’ This is indeed the word used by many of the Venezuelans I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing during ten days in March. Venezuela is undergoing a ‘Bolivarian’ revolution. But what does 'Bolivarianism' entail?

Contrary to the image often portrayed in the foreign media, Chavez has gone overboard in seeking to include as many as possible in the Bolivarian state. He has time and again extended an olive branch to his enemies.

To be honest, Zhou Enlai’s quip about the results of the French Revolution—that it is ‘too early to tell’—is doubly applicable to Venezuela. Radically different constituencies, political visions and potential futures are today co-existing more or less harmoniously within the dramatic process of change. This is perhaps inevitable. But some of the wide ranging ambiguity about the future direction of Bolivarianism has to do with Chavez’s crucial strategic choice in favour of peaceful social change. Contrary to the image often portrayed in the foreign media, Chavez has gone overboard in seeking to include as many as possible in the Bolivarian state. He has time and again extended an olive branch to his enemies.

For example, immediately after the failed coup against him, his first act was to guarantee the constitutional rights of the coup leaders, none of whom have been harmed. Likewise, he has consistently avoided using military and police forces under his command to repress the opposition, and had been exceedingly cautious towards foreign companies and investors. Some of his strongest supporters therefore consider Chavez excessively soft. The ideological message of Bolivarianism is straddling this society -- deeply divided by class -- with a strong Venezuelan and pan-latinoamerican nationalism. The ambiguity is patently visible in the street iconography of Caracas, which combines the faces of the aristocratic liberal Simon Bolivar and the radical communist Che Guevara, both sharing the landscape with huge billboards of fashionable young women advertising beer.

Yet if the future is foggy, the present is dramatically clear. Under pressure from Venezuela’s poor, on whose support Chavez’s political survival depends, the government moved decidedly leftwards over the course of the last few years. This leftward move consists in two processes: democratization and redistribution.

First, redistribution. Having wrestled control of the national oil company from the old oligarchy, Chavez redirected a portion of Venezuela’s significant oil revenues to new social projects, called missions, each targeting a specific social privation. The bulk of the resources were earmarked for non-cash benefits such as education and health. But government policies have also helped more people to move out of the informal economy and take formal jobs, affecting a significant rise in cash wages for the poorest workers. An international chorus of snickers erupts whenever these social spending programs are mentioned. Most completely miss the point. Is there corruption? Inefficiency? Probably. But by relying on the army, the national oil company, and ad hoc communal organizing rather than on the traditional state bureaucracy, the social missions manage a level of efficiency that is quite stunning.

As a small example, take the latest mission, ‘energy revolution,’ announced in November 2006. Its first project was to change all the light bulbs in Venezuela (52 million of them) to energy efficient ones by the end of 2007. The goal is to reduce the consumption of oil in electricity generation by about 25 million barrels a year, and cut a typical family’s monthly expenses by $4.6 (a non-trivial sum in the poor neighborhoods). The distribution of free bulbs is carried out by different means: youth organizations, community councils, and reserve units. By mid February 2007, over 30 million bulbs have been distributed, 10% faster than planned. The white glow that rises at night from both the poor neighborhoods and the houses of the better-off confirms the statistics.

More complex missions, such as mission Robinson and Riba, which provide adult primary and secondary education with Cuban help, have been no less spectacular. "Proofs" that these missions are bogus are a dime a dozen in the Western media. Yet in Venezuela, even fierce Chavez’s critics I spoke with conceded that the missions were having a strongly positive effect on the life of the poor. The change is fast and visible. In a peasant community’s primary school in western Venezuela, I saw the preparation for an internet room for both the pupils and the larger community. In the nearby high school—a school that only a few years ago did not exist—students who divided their time between the classroom and their families’ coffee fields talked of going to university.

Another common criticism is that the missions are not sustainable because they depend on oil prices remaining high. No doubt a drop in oil prices would force the government to cut spending (leaving aside the unresolved question as to whether high oil prices are themselves sustainable or not.) However, the thousands of people who learned to read during the oil boom would remain literate even if oil prices dropped. Nor would such a drop deprive the beneficiaries of an oil-financed cataract removal. A more enlightened view would note that access to such basic services as dental and eye care is valuable in itself.

But even if one were to look at Venezuela from the most narrow-minded economic perspective, one that only values economic growth, it would be impossible to find an oil-producing country that uses its oil bonanza in a better way. Improving health, education, housing and infrastructure contributes more to prosperity and overall economic growth than the preferred choice of conventional wisdom—hoarding a large portfolio of U.S. bonds.

The proof is in the pudding. Caracas is booming. Fancy consumer malls are mushrooming, trendy shops and restaurants ring the cash register. In one mall, strongly anti-Chavez store managers expressed gloom and resignation about the government’s economic policies while conceding that business was excellent. But in a restaurant off the airport highway, the owner, a man of humble background, took us with pride through the private orchard from whose fruits he serves fresh juice to his customers, and explained the situation thus:

"Chavez is good for people who want to work….they dislike Chavez because the government now collects taxes from businesses."

The opposition to Chavez is surely more than just about reinvigorated tax collection; a recent (and perhaps not fully trustworthy) survey shows a loss of income over 20% at the high end of the extremely skewed income pyramid. But there is little doubt that the boost to the income of poor households (80% of the population) is driving Venezuela’s impressive economic expansion (9.4% in 2006) and also trickling up significantly to the better-off, especially those in the fast expanding retail sector—the delivery period for a new imported car, including luxury models, can be longer than six months.

The democratization focus of the Bolivarian revolution involves structural changes to both politics and economics. Politically, those measures that help the foreign media paint Chavez as an autocrat are precisely those perceived in Venezuela as means of political decentralization and democratization—

· the rule by decree,

· the formation of a unified party, and

· the direct executive control of funds.

To understand the paradox, it is necessary to grasp the historical context: the political parties, the parliament and the governmental bureaucracy have been, and still are, bastions of corruption, clientelism, providing the main interface between political power and economic wealth. It is quite possible in theory that the creation of alternative political mechanisms under Chavez’s personal rule will lead to a new centralization of autocratic power. But mitigating that danger is the new sense of political entitlement of commoners, a deep cognizance of their own rights, and foremost the right to organize and take control over decisions that affect their lives. Encountering the strength of this democratic consciousness, fostered by education, public awareness campaigns, Chavez’s speeches, and the recurrence of popular mobilizations, is one of the most intense experiences one has as a visitor to Venezuela today. While Chavez is the undisputable hero of this popular awakening, the latter is anything but a docile body of followers. On the contrary. Visiting a community center in Barquisimeto, we saw a local TV and radio station run by locals. The organizers were supposed to be trained by a professional government manager. Relations with the official boss however soured quickly and the community expelled the imposed manager, locking her out of the building. It took a month of struggle, but the new locally chosen administration was eventually recognized as legitimate. He would be a strange autocrat who encouraged small communities to run their own TV and radio station, free of government control. But this is exactly what the current government’s policy is. Finally, the most important political development following the last elections is the plan to constitutionally empower local councils (of 200-400 households each) to take control of budgetary priorities and local services. This institutionalization of participatory democracy would irreversibly transform Venezuelan politics.

The linchpin of the change is economic structure is the fast growth in co-operatives—worker managed businesses with a variety of internal democratic structures. The co-operative movement in Venezuela predates Chavez. However, with government support, this form of economic organization changed from a radical but marginal element to a significant component of the economy. Already in 2004 4.6% of jobs in Venezuela depended on co-operatives. By extrapolation, the over 100,000 co-operatives operating today in Venezuela probably account for 15% of jobs.

Government help consists in technical support, managerial training, loans on preferential terms and often the rent-free provision of facilities. There are co-operatives everywhere, from street vendors to textile manufacturing, from organic agriculture and up to the hotel we stayed in, which used to belong to the ministry of tourism and became a co-operative in 2001. The hotel’s kitchen workers explained that most decisions were taken by general consultation but an executive committee elected for three year terms was in charge of salaries. Building successful cooperatives in Venezuela is not easier—indeed is probably more difficult—than starting a viable business anywhere. There is bureaucracy, corruption, competition, personal frictions, lack of capital, lack of know-how, etc. Time will tell how many of these co-operatives survive. It is too early to declare that Venezuela has found a cure to the endemic poverty of the urban slums that weighs so heavily on the Third World. But the Venezuelan experiment is not only real, serious and popular, but also quite uniquely so in the world.

One thing the many co-operative members we met had in common was that they were all glowing with pride about their work. Finally, it is worth mentioning that co-operatives are not the only form of entrepreneurship blossoming in Venezuela. The government is pushing banks to make more small business loans to the poor, and a general sense of optimism is both palpable and reflected in surveys. We visited the home of a woman who had recently turned the front of her slum house into a general shop and ran into a young man who was planning to start a tourist business in the mountains. How unwelcome multinationals like Verizon are in Venezuela is an open question, but there is clearly a new feeling of opportunity for regular people to work and to improve their lives.

There is a lot to be fearful about in Venezuela—the high level of crime, the dead weight of entrenched corruption, the unresolved tension between consumerist and socialist values, the danger inherent in Chavez’s outsized shadow, and not the least the certain intensification of U.S. destabilization efforts. But outside the small pockets of privilege and affluent ressentiment, the Venezuela I saw is not in the grip of fear. On the contrary, it is in the grip of hope, pride and an infectious sense of self-confidence and ownership.

Reproduced with permission from Sanders Research Associates

The Bushies Just Make it Up: Iraq & al-Qaeda

Bush was out there again on Wednesday trying to link Iraq to al-Qaeda and maintaining that the US was mainly fighting it in that country. In fact, No Mahdi Army Shiites are al-Qaeda. Almost all Sunni Arab guerrilla cells are Baathist or Salafi rather than al-Qaeda. Probably of 100,000 guerrillas fighting in Iraq, perhaps 2% could be categorized in some vague way as "al-Qaeda" if you take that term as referring to a franchise. They are mainly foreign fighters and if the US left Iraq, the local Sunni Arabs would slit their throats. Some slitting is going on even now, and the Bushies celebrate that while not seeming to recognize the implication that "al-Qaeda" doesn't amount to anything as an Iraqi political force.

But this making up things out of thin air is typical of W.'s Propaganda Presidency, or what Chris Floyd calls the "powerful odor of mendacity."

And all along the Bushies have invoked al-Qaeda with regard to Iraq. It doesn't matter what the real situation in Iraq is. Is it ruled by secular Sunni Arab nationalist Baathists who are afraid of al-Qaeda according to documents Bush himself captured and released? Nevertheless, Bushies find al-Qaeda in Iraq. Is Iraq dominated by Shiites allied to Iran? Bushies find an alliance with al-Qaeda. Like tax cuts, it is the answer to every problem.

On 25 July 2002, Doug Feith's Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (OUSDP) issued a statement linking al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein through a Dutch company named Vlemmo NV.

This sort of allegation was typical of Feith, who had been asked in January of 2002 to come up with material on the [imaginary] relationship of Bin Laden and Iraq by his superior (who had hired him apparently for this sort of purpose), Paul Wolfowitz.

Feith had been investigated by the FBI earlier in his career as a possible Israeli intelligence asset and was raised in a fringe, far-rightwing Zionist family. His father was a member of Betar, the organization devoted to teachings of fascist Zionist thinker Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky and to "Greater Israel" expansionism. Persons in this tradition often believe that Israel extends into Iraq itself.

Now it turns out that Feith just made up the Vlemmo firm. According to the Netherlands Foreign Minister, it does not exist. . Just like virtually none of the things Feith peddled to us has has any reality. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz put Feith in a position to lie our troops into harm's way, as the number three man in the Pentagon. Feith bears responsibility for his lies and fabrications. His superiors are even more culpable.


“If the world is upside down the way it is now, wouldn’t we have to turn it over to get it to stand up straight?” - Eduardo Galeano

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. -- Edward R. Murrow

The Utter Futility of Lesser Evilism

by Kim Petersen / May 24th, 2007

“By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!”
– George H.W. Bush

US Congressional Democrats, in “a wrenching reversal,” backed down on their demand for a timetable on the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.1 It flies in the face of the electoral will of Americans expressed in 2006, and it exposes, again, who the master of the Democratic Party is.

The mere fact that US occupation forces, British occupation forces, client states’ scanty give-a-veneer-of-coalition forces, and mercenaries are still being repulsed in Iraq by lightly armed guerrilla fighters, that the bombardment of the “safe” Green Zone is increasing, that Basra is spiraling, that the “surge” is sputtering, and that the US-UK are looking for a way out not of their choosing or timing, is clear evidence that the “war” is lost. It demonstrates a limitation of the hyperpower: it can wreak destruction from afar, but it is vulnerable when it attempts to impose occupation.

So what prevents the US from immediately pulling its troops completely out from Iraq?

With the end of the Bush administration approaching, Republicans are interested in preserving party fortunes and Bush is scrambling for a face-saving presidential legacy. The self-proclaimed war president dug a Sisyphean hole for himself when he foolishly declared the aggression against Iraq to be a mission accomplished. It is not just an invasion-occupation lost in Iraq; there is also the invasion-occupation that is also lost in Afghanistan. The neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century laid out its military policy in the paper “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” which warned that “even a small failure like that in Somalia or a halting and incomplete triumph as in the Balkans can cast doubt on American credibility.”2

For the Democrats, a troop withdrawal timetable would have hamstrung candidates running for the presidency. It would have put them at odds with their campaign funders (many from the Jewish lobby who support aggression in the Middle East) and the US voters (who now favor removing the forces from Iraq).

What Bush Jr. has done is bring back in full force what his father claimed to have vanquished forever: Vietnam syndrome. A resurrected Vietnam Syndrome will hinder American militaristic ambitions.

Despite the fact that the imperialistic invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are failed, Washington feels compelled to persist. There is so much at stake:

  • • control of oil. Imagine the shock among US oil oligarchs at seeing the oil in Iran and Iraq being under predominantly Shi’a control
  • • the future of permanent US bases in Iraq. It will be interesting to see how these bases without US forces would be explained
  • • lessons learned: resistance is not futile. Opponents of western imperialism know to develop a deterrent defense, that US occupation forces can be defied and defeated
  • • a potential backlash at the Jewish lobby that goaded the US regime to attack Iraq and is pressing for an attack on Iran
  • • implications for the Zionist occupation of Palestine: will the US continue to pursue a Israel-Palestine policy that supports the theft of land from Palestinians and slow-motion genocide against them? What will the defeat of US occupations forces in Iraq and Israeli occupation forces in south Lebanon portend for the the Zionist occupation of Palestine?
  • • the power of the corporate-political duopoly. Halliburton, Bechtel, and the military-industrial complex profited immensely from unleashing US violence abroad. In the meantime, wealth has been further concentrated among the wealthy few while social programs have been gutted. Will the shrinking middle class and expanding poor classes remain quiescent?
  • • the continued domination of the corporate-political duopoly. The Democrats have stood steadfastly during the Bush presidency behind the Republicans’ malapropistic “war on terrorism.”

What is palpable is that there are negligible differences between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party regarding corporation-driven and Zionist imperialisms. The two parties are colluding, and, hence, they can be regarded as the same.3

It is clear that Saddam Hussein was duped into attacking Iran and bleeding both countries for eight years. This belligerent policy served naught domestically in the US. But it served US corporate-political and Zionist purposes. Later, the Iraqi government was presented with a false green light to attack Kuwait, which was pressuring Iraq for a speedy repayment of loans used to fight Iran (something that served Kuwaiti oligarchic interests as well) and also, reportedly, slant drilling into Iraq’s Ramallah oil field. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait presented the contrived opportunity for president H.W. Bush to punt Vietnam Syndrome — with the aid of a 28-country coalition.

The Republican administration strong-armed UN Security Council backing for a resolution imposing a punishing disarmament and sanctions regime on Iraq. The Democratic administration of Bill Clinton did not waver an iota on the lethal sanctions regime; US official Madeleine Albright even admitted that the killing of half-a-million Iraqi children was worth attaining US foreign policy goals.

It is transparent that there is little to distinguish Democrats from Republicans on a most substantive matter: aggressive foreign policy. US foreign policy terrorizes, tortures, and violently kills people abroad. This policy did not begin with the “war on terrorism.” It has been around for a long time and is central to US hegemonic aspirations throughout history up to today.4

People who viewed the Republican party, especially while “led” by George W. Bush, as a great evil, identified the logical recourse to be voting for the Democratic Party, reasoning that whatever pain the Democrats inflicted on others would be less than Republican-inflicted pain: something akin to a quick death versus a lingering death. In the end the victim is dead anyway.

The tactics used to prevent or hinder the candidacy of third party contender Ralph Nader in 2004 was condemnatory of the Democrats. What kind of presidential slate did the Democrats offer? A man who vowed to boost troop levels and did nothing to placate the antiwar population. Even the propeace candidate Dennis Kucinich did an about-face and pledged solidarity to his warmongering leader John Kerry.

A Democratic Party breakthrough came in 2006 when they regained the Congress and Senate over public disaffection with US troops dying and being maimed in Iraq. Deluded people expected a change of course, that Democrats would parlay the antiwar sentiment to buttress their chances for a breakthrough in 2008.

Progressives see little attraction in the Republican Party. However, on the flip side of the corporate duopoly, Americans and the world public are presented with the bathos of Democratic presidential contenders prostrating themselves before the Mammon of the Jewish lobby. These candidates mouth platitudes of undying fealty to a foreign state, a state spawned through ethnic cleansing (similar to the US) that cares little for the US that provides sophisticated weaponry and generously pumps billions of dollars into it.5 The US wields its UN Security Council veto in a most irresponsible and self-damaging manner to protect the serial violations of human rights by Israel. This Israel-centric foreign policy means continuing the occupation of Iraq and not “taking anything off the table” regarding Iran.

The foreseeable result: Iraq Syndrome will be indelibly stamped on the American consciousness for years to come.

In November 2007, the American voter will be presented an option. A vote for either the Republicans or Democrats will, in effect, be a prowar vote. For peace to prevail in the policy of the United States, lesser evilism must be consigned to the political scrap heap. Only a propeace “third” party will set the US on a new path. Outside of a revolution, the election of a propeace “third” party is the only feasible direction on the horizon for Americans truly interested in steering their country toward peace and restoring the ensanguined US reputation.

  1. Carl Hulse, “Democrats Pull Troop Deadline From Iraq Bill,” New York Times online, 21 May 2007. ↑
  2. Thomas Donnelly, Donald Kagan, and Gary Schmitt, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century” (Washington, DC: The Project for a New American Century, September 2000): 5. ↑
  3. Frederick H. Gareau, State Terrorism and the United States: From Counterinsurgency to the War on Terrorism (Clarity Press, 2004). ↑
  4. William Blum, Rogue State (Common Courage Press, 2000). ↑
  5. Is caring typified by spying on one’s friends, the sinking of the USS Liberty, the plan to bomb US buildings in Egypt, and urging the US to put the lives of its citizens on the line and having the US’s international reputation besmirched? ↑

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at:

México: Declaración del III Foro Nacional en Defensa del Maíz Nativo

Para pensar juntos cómo enfrentar y resistir las agresiones que hace muchos años vivimos las comunidades indígenas, las organizaciones indígenas y campesinas y organizaciones de la sociedad civil nos reunimos por tercera vez (del 14 al 17 de mayo de 2007) en Cenami delegados, representantes, comuneros, ejidatarios y miembros de organizaciones procedentes de Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, Jalisco, Puebla, Estado de México, Veracruz, Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, Guerrero, el Distrito Federal, Perú y Brasil, en torno a la defensa de nuestros maíces, territorios y comunidades.

Tenemos varios años de estar al pendiente de las amenazas que se ciernen sobre nuestro maíz y nuestras comunidades. Primero acordaron la liberación del maíz y frijol en el TLCAN, dejando a los campesinos mexicanos en el olvido, a expensas de las grandes transnacionales de semillas y alimentos. Después hicimos los análisis y los diagnósticos en nuestras milpas para confirmar la contaminación del maíz transgénico a algunos de nuestros maíces nativos, que el gobierno se empeñó en negar. Hemos visto también cómo desde las leyes como la Ley de Bioseguridad y la Ley de Organismos Genéticamente Modificados, junto con otras iniciativas en agua, bosques, minas y medio ambiente, buscan crear un marco jurídico favorable a la agricultura comercial y a las nuevas tecnologías, olvidándonos a los pequeños productores y a nuestras formas tradicionales de hacer la milpa.

En estos días hemos visto que se viene un horizonte nuevo y más agresivo para nuestros pueblos: quieren abrir el campo mexicano a la experimentación transgénica porque así tendrían la posibilidad de introducir violentamente la tecnología Terminator y los agrobiocombustibles. Con la tecnología Terminator buscan sembrar la muerte, impidiendo que guardemos nuestras semillas y nos volvamos a reproducir; quieren que cultivemos biocombustibles para alimentar a las máquinas, aunque esto signifique que las comunidades dejemos de comer y vivir del maíz.

Estamos preocupados en las comunidades porque cada vez es más difícil entender las lunas, las aguas, los animales y el territorio como lo hacíamos antes con nuestros saberes y conocimientos tradicionales. Vemos ahora que el cambio climático lo han hecho discurso y excusa para justificar su ambición y para amenazarnos nuevamente. Las transnacionales, apoyadas por el gobierno, dicen que la única manera de solucionar el cambio climático y la crisis energética es sembrar agrobiocombustibles y transgénicos en todo el mundo. Las industrias energética, automotriz y agrícola, que son las culpables del calentamiento del planeta, quieren ahora que cultivemos agrobiocombustibles para ellos tener más ganancias a costa de nuestra alimentación, nuestra autonomía y de nuestras historias y costumbres.

Todas estas amenazas forman parte de un modelo más grande, el neoliberalismo, que sólo reconoce a los agroindustriales y cuyo objetivo es destruir la cultura del maíz. Los pueblos vivimos esto como un atentado porque atacar al maíz significa atacar a las comunidades. El maíz es la base de nuestra alimentación y de nuestras tradiciones. Los campesinos e indígenas que cultivamos el maíz le estorbamos al sistema, porque el que siembra comunitariamente consume lo que cultiva, pero ellos quieren que no seamos autosuficientes en nuestra alimentación, quieren que no sintamos el territorio y el maíz como sagrados. Quieren que olvidemos que el maíz, el territorio y la comunidad son la vida de los pueblos y que nos integremos a la cultura del dinero. Y si no lo hacemos, pretenden desaparecernos como pueblos y como campesinos.

Nos damos cuenta que los gobiernos entienden el territorio como una tabla rasa, sin diferencias, y buscan dos maneras de acabarlo: hacerlo producir por producir o no tocarlo ni vivirlo. Para los gobiernos es más útil el territorio deshabitado y por eso buscan que la gente salga de sus comunidades: porque así pueden aplicar proyectos carreteros, turísticos, programas de mejoramiento de la ganadería y de “semillas mejoradas” o transgénicas y proyectos productivos para el mercado, no para los pueblos. Luego premian a los que se van fuera con programas como el “Casa Digna al Jornalero” y engañan con miserias a los que quedan, como el “Oportunidades”. Enseñan a nuestros jóvenes en otros modos con sus programas educativos para que ya no quieran vivir en las comunidades, en el campo, para que ya no quieran sembrar y que rechacen su origen y sus costumbres; no les enseñan a responder a las inquietudes de nuestras comunidades, con nuestros conocimientos y tradiciones. A todo esto, le dicen desarrollo y progreso, pero nosotros sólo vemos miseria, migración y muertes como resultado.

Estamos claros por nuestra reflexión y nuestra experiencia que con un poquito de mazorcas resistimos y que la mejor manera de defender el maíz es sembrarlo. Hemos decidido que la autosuficiencia, el tener maíz para comer las comunidades, es más importante que el dinero, por lo que decimos nuestra palabra:

1. Reiteramos nuestro rechazo a la apertura a la experimentación transgénica, así como a la tecnología Terminator.

2. Exigimos la salida total de los transgénicos de México y por lo tanto la prohibición tajante de la tecnología Terminator en nuestro país.

3. Rechazamos enérgicamente los agrobiocombustibles en el campo mexicano por muchas razones: porque no resuelven ni el cambio climático ni la crisis energética; porque mantienen el mismo modelo que destruye la naturaleza; porque sólo sirven para beneficio de unos pocos y son una estrategia para vender más autos; porque convierten los cultivos en máquinas y a los campesinos en trabajadores asalariados; porque no responsabilizan a los verdaderos culpables del cambio climático; porque quieren impedir que sembremos para comer y así hacernos dependientes y esclavos; porque buscan que en el campo nos hagamos de ciudad y consumamos alimentos enlatados, despensas transgénicas y comida de fuera que está contaminada.

4. Reivindicamos que la producción para el autoconsumo de nuestras familias y nuestras comunidades es la mejor alternativa para la defensa de los pueblos y la construcción de nuestra autonomía.

5. Pedimos respeto a nuestros tiempos de siembra, nuestras fiestas, nuestras ceremonias y celebraciones y nuestras costumbres de cuidar y vivir con el maíz y la naturaleza.

Hemos acordado que, al interior de nuestros pueblos, comunidades y organizaciones, vamos a tomar las medidas de:

1. Fortalecer la producción del maíz sólo para autoconsumo, sin vender lo que sobre porque no sabemos qué trato le van a dar los comerciantes.
2. Reforzar nuestras asambleas comunitarias y ejidales, así como a nuestras autoridades y cargos tradicionales para cuidar nuestros territorios.

3. Darles ánimos a los jóvenes para quedarse en las comunidades y ponerse al servicio de las asambleas, en vez de esperar a que los ricos vengan a darles trabajo o salgan a buscarlos en las ciudades.

4. Atender y cuidar al maíz para que esté en todas las ceremonias, en todas las familias, en todas las comunidades.

5. Promover los intercambios de semillas entre familias y comunidades.

6. Recuperar técnicas y herramientas tradicionales y agroecológicas de nuestras comunidades.

7. Dejar de usar fertilizantes, pesticidas y químicos que dañan la tierra.

8. No vender terrenos a gente de afuera y someter las ventas a acuerdos de asambleas.

El maíz sigue siendo el centro de la vida, de la inteligencia y de la sabiduría. Si seguimos haciendo nuestro cultivo como nosotros sabemos sin meternos en la otra tecnología, la práctica de la agricultura tradicional va a seguir adelante en la historia y nosotros seguiremos también adelante con la ayuda del maíz.

Mexico, DF, a 17 de mayo de 2007

la lista:

Cuba frente al Imperio - Para los sordos que no quieren oír: Fidel Castro Ruz

Cuba frente al Imperio
Para los sordos que no quieren oír
Fidel Castro Ruz

Síntesis de lo que declaró la FAO el 16 de mayo del 2007 en Roma, sede central de la institución.

La producción mundial de cereales va camino de alcanzar en el 2007 un nivel récord. A pesar de eso, los suministros apenas alcanzarán a cubrir la creciente demanda impulsada por el desarrollo de la industria de los biocombustibles.

Los precios internacionales de la mayoría de los cereales han subido de forma significativa en 2006-07 y la previsión actual es que se mantengan altos en 2007-08, según el correspondiente informe “Perspectivas de cosechas y situación alimentaria”. Se prevé que la factura por la importación de cereales en los países de bajos ingresos y déficit de alimentos se eleve a cerca del 25 por ciento en la actual temporada.

Está previsto que el rápido crecimiento de la demanda de etanol elaborado a partir de maíz eleve un 9 por ciento la utilización industrial de granos en 2007‑08.

Las perspectivas para la cosecha mundial de trigo han bajado ligeramente desde la previsión elaborada en el informe de abril.

En el norte de África está previsto en el 2007 un acusado descenso de la producción de cereales, a causa de la sequía que ha afectado a Marruecos y que puede reducir a la mitad la producción de trigo del país magrebí.

En África meridional se espera una cosecha reducida por segundo año consecutivo. En Zimbabwe se prevé un fuerte aumento del precio del maíz, un alimento básico para millones de personas, a causa de la sequía.

Malawi contará con excedentes para la exportación tras una buena cosecha.

Un elevado número de campesinos vulnerables en Bolivia requieren ayuda de emergencia tras los daños en los cultivos y el ganado provocados por la sequía y las inundaciones en el 2007, que afectaron la campaña agrícola.

El rebrote de la violencia en Somalia meridional ha provocado el desplazamiento de cientos de miles de personas, y puede reducir la superficie de tierras cultivadas.

Una previsión inicial y provisional de la FAO para la producción mundial de arroz en el 2007 apunta a una cosecha ligeramente superior con unos 422 millones de toneladas, que igualará el récord alcanzado en el 2005.

Excluyendo a China e India ―los principales productores― la suma de las cosechas de cereales de los restantes países descenderá.

Se reconoce por la FAO las consecuencias de producir combustible utilizando los alimentos como materia prima. Algo es algo.

Pero también es muy notable la noticia de que el Congreso de Estados Unidos determinó la sustitución en sus oficinas de 23 mil bombillos incandescentes por bombillos fluorescentes. Se afirma que familias norteamericanas por iniciativa propia decidieron cambiar 37 millones de bombillos incandescentes por fluorescentes. En unos pocos meses los 37 millones de bombillos cambiados ahorrarán el gasto equivalente en gasolina de 260 mil automóviles. Calculen el ahorro en combustible cuando sean sustituidos miles de millones de bombillos incandescentes.

Hago un paréntesis para abordar un tema que tiene que ver con mi persona, y les pido excusas.

Los cables hablan de una operación. A mis compatriotas no les agradaba que yo explicara en más de una ocasión que la recuperación no estaba exenta de riesgos. En general, hablaban de una fecha en la que aparecería públicamente y vestido con mi uniforme verde olivo de siempre. Pues bien, no fue una sola operación sino varias. Inicialmente no hubo éxito, y esto incidió en la prolongada recuperación.

Dependí durante muchos meses de venas tomadas y catéteres por los cuales recibía una parte importante de los alimentos, y no deseaba desagradables desengaños para nuestro pueblo. Hoy recibo por vía oral todo lo que requiere mi recuperación. Ningún peligro es mayor que los relacionados con la edad y una salud de la cual abusé en los tiempos azarosos que me correspondió vivir. Hago por ahora lo que debo hacer, especialmente reflexionar y escribir sobre cuestiones a mi juicio de cierta importancia y trascendencia. Tengo mucho material pendiente. Para filmes y fotos que requieren recortarme constantemente el cabello, la barba, el bigote, y acicalarme todos los días, no tengo ahora tiempo. Tales presentaciones, además, multiplican las solicitudes de entrevistas. Les digo a todos simplemente que he ido mejorando y mantengo un peso estable, alrededor de los 80 kilogramos.

Trato de que las reflexiones sean más breves para no robar espacio a la prensa escrita ni a los noticieros de la televisión. Todo el resto del tiempo lo empleo en leer, recibir información, conversar telefónicamente con numerosos compañeros y realizar los ejercicios de rehabilitación pertinentes. No puedo decir y criticar todo lo que conozco, porque de ese modo serían imposibles las relaciones humanas e internacionales, de las cuales nuestro país no puede prescindir. Pero seré fiel a la divisa de no escribir nunca una mentira.

Fidel Castro Ruz
23 de mayo del 2007


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Unmasking of the Authoritarians By Manuel Valenzuela

Phoenix Rising

05/23/07 "ICH" -- -- Can you smell the putrid fumes of authoritarianism rising like smoke from burning trash, filling our senses with the toxins of despotism? Do you see these clouds of tyranny surpassing the morning horizon, their darkened haze making blind our eyes, deaf our ears and ignorant our minds? Can you hear the America of yesterday screaming in agonizing pain as the cancer of the authoritarian personality slowly devours her from within? If so, you are not alone, for evolving within our shores since 9/11 lies a most ominous and frightening reality, namely, the rise and acceptance of American-style authoritarianism.

Conceived through the neoconservative Mein Kampf, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” birthed through the controlled demolition of skyscrapers that gave rise to the New Pearl Harbor and nurtured through the psychological war of fear and terror upon the American populace, conveniently labeled the War on Terror, authoritarianism, and an absolute belief in it, has planted itself firmly upon American shores. The emergence of this pathogen, – for that is what it is – usually contained and restrained within the minds of millions of individuals, has dramatically shifted the personality and beliefs of American society, perhaps forever altering the makeup and psyche of the nation.

Thanks in large measure to an overwhelming propaganda campaign by the neocon controlled corporatist media, an onslaught of manipulation upon the American populace has resulted in the acceptance of authoritarian tendencies in a large segment of the citizenry. In present day American media, neocon anchors, reporters, talking heads and stenographers are allowed to parade uninterrupted and unobstructed, day after day, parroting neocon talking points and propaganda, stirring fear and insecurity and hatred and anger, hiding truth and disseminating fictions, all systemically done to condition the people into accepting Machiavellian-style governance.

For in the neocon ideology, democracy is but a hindrance, an obstacle to be eliminated, for the will of the people interferes with the decisions of those in power. Democracy, therefore, must become a charade, an illusion designed to convey in the masses the feeling that their votes count, that their voice is heard. In fact, the opposite is true, for only those that count the votes have their voice heard. The neocon belief structure believes that in order for leaders to govern effectively, freedom and rights must be curtailed, and the people must be subjected to surveillance and greater police powers. Hence, America’s quite obvious flirtation with authoritarianism. Truth is anathema in the neocon lexicon, for the people must be kept in the dark at all times, for we are too stupid to know better. This is why truth was the first casualty of 9/11. The lie, too, is a fundamental principle of neocon dogma and, as such, is used repeatedly and consistently to catapult the propaganda. The noble lie is thus created by the delusional to keep the people from knowing uncomfortable and harsh truths. This is done in our interest and for our protection, of course.

Using the corporatist media to hide truth, engender perpetual lies and create new realities, the neocon movement is methodically molding together an army of virulent warmongers, submissive and acquiescent to the dictates of the state, choosing the sacrifice of rights and freedoms in order to have security and so-called protection. The neocons are using the media, in print, radio and television, to reach out to and condition the weak minded among us, those who lack the courage and conviction to make extinct fear, those who prefer to live in the comfort of fiction rather than confront the difficulty of reality. The neocon movement, desiring imperial hegemony and perpetual war, seeking destruction of Israel’s enemies, wishing for an authoritarian state lead by a benign dictator, is thus using a vast arsenal of propaganda to create millions of subservient and loyal followers. They are molding a standing army of authoritarian personalities.

Throughout history the authoritarian personality has risen like a phoenix from the short silences of peace we offer ourselves between outbreaks of human wickedness. It rises to the zenith of our skies when fear and insecurity thrive, when scapegoats are chosen, when hatred and anger abound. It congregates within the elements of xenophobia, jingoism and patriotism, demanding the arrival of a police state or the permanency of dictatorship. It falls easily to the propaganda of the state and the manipulations of the media, for fear and cowardice blind reason and logic. Embedded in the psyche of millions of human beings, the authoritarian personality awakes and hibernates according to the patterns of human interaction and the manipulations of our leaders, rising regardless of time or place, ethnicity or religion.

Its sinister intent does not reside inside every human being, however, but lingers like a personality trait, born through the intertwined connections of genetics or molded by the fated circumstances of environment. Yet it exists in the human condition nonetheless, to the great detriment of our species, for its power grants sustenance to criminality and immorality, to those leaders of man who inevitably lead the human race spiraling to the nadir of wickedness. It escapes the shackles which peace places on it and quickly assembles its army of like-minded personalities, conjoining in confluence towards the adoration of leadership and submissiveness to the state. Its large numbers guarantee that the Goebbels’ of the world succeed in bridging commonalities and connecting energies. Its large numbers guarantee that the Hitler’s of the world never go extinct, always finding a warm and gentle welcome among the army of authoritarian personalities.

The authoritarian personality is reincarnated with New Pearl Harbors and all commensurate acts of state terror upon the populace. It awakens with the neocon manipulation of emotion, psychology and behavior, with the corporatist media acting as the hypnotizing glow giving instruction to the millions whose only comfort from fear is the supposed authority of the state. With the awakening of the authoritarian personality through external threats, catalyzing events and selection of alien enemies, a lust for violence and a hunger for blood soon emerges. With fear imprisoning the reason and logic of millions, warmonger leaders can easily proceed with long-standing plans for imperial hegemony abroad and authoritarian principles at home. As long as humans exist, the authoritarian personality will linger, those taking advantage of its weak minded psychology will thrive and the threat of authoritarianism will, as always, remain to wreak havoc upon humankind.

Tectonic Shifts

In a sense, the architects of 9/11 and the fictional war on terror have been triumphant in the implementation of their Machiavellian plans. In the six years since 9/11, the People have been impotent and unwilling to act as the nation has plunged, rather purposefully, into the throes of authoritarianism. Laws marketed as offering protection and security from terrorism have instead been used to dismantle the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Civil liberties continue to be eviscerated, while freedoms once thought sacrosanct continue to be made extinct. The power of the executive continues to grow in strength, in essence creating a leader with dictatorial powers. Against the will of the People wars continue to be waged, occupations continue to exist. An emerging police state continues to evolve, seemingly without hindrances. Hundreds of billions of dollars continue to be allocated to the military-industrial-energy complex, just as they are taken away from education, healthcare and social services, all while the treasury continues to be pillaged.

The nation has systematically been made to shift away from its centrist traditions and has, thanks to the machinations of the cabal of criminality, instead taken a sharp, authoritarian and extreme right, headed into the realm of despotic undercurrents. Today, the neocon agenda and ideology now commands the centers of power, as well as the platform of two-headed hydra, that political duopoly feeding from the same hand, enslaved to the same master. The Republican Party has become a party of fascists, while the Democratic Party is now where true conservatives seek refuge. Sadly, this political duopoly serves not the People, but corporatist elements and the elite, becoming parties of money, power and corporations. Progressives, dissenters and truth seekers, meanwhile, are now seen as enemies of the state, while the army of authoritarian personality is the new Republican base.

For whatever the outcome of the Iraq debacle, America is now firmly entrenched in the desert of Mesopotamia, to remain there for decades to come. This naturally amplifies all future confrontations with China and Russia, for Iraq is now one giant forward operating base, an aircraft carrier destined to serve as a staging ground to protect, conquer or acquire resources or lands deemed to be in the national security interest. Meanwhile, the pretenders to the throne of the Empire, those from the political duopoly, enslaved to the corporatist world and the interests of Israel, along with the lifelong cheerleader still in power, continue to threaten Iran with military force, using, once again, the illusory threat of WMD – this time nuclear weapons – even though Iran poses no threat whatsoever to America.

While transforming America into an authoritarian enclave even Machiavelli would be proud of, the architects of 9/11 and the fictional war on terror also assured themselves, and the military-industrial-energy complex (MIEC), of a nation that is fundamentally now, more than ever, a militarized Empire. The tragedy of 9/11 has militarized the nation, along with millions of its citizens, and has enabled the MIEC to pillage and plunder the national treasury, converting American ingenuity into a conduit of death and destruction. America now spends more in one year on military equipment than the entire world put together, and this will only increase in the years ahead as expenditures for the military only continue to grow. The neocons would not have it any other way, for perpetual war naturally leads to perpetual profit.

The last six years have forced leaders of both parties to become much more militant in their ideology and platform. The genius of 9/11, besides shifting the nation in the direction of authoritarianism, besides allowing the Empire to attack, invade and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, is that it forced and exerted a tremendous amount of pressure on both parties to never relent and never put a stop to the fictional war on terror. To do so would be political suicide, for the electorate, fearing for their lives and security, demand a stronger military and security apparatus. For both parties, there thus exists a competition to outdo one another in terms of offering the best policy for protecting the so-called Homeland, for fighting the “war on terror,” and for defeating all enemies of the nation, be they real or imagined.

Defense spending, in the wake of two parties force fed with bravado, filled with testosterone, obligated into ever-greater promises of militarization, will ultimately, and conveniently, only continue to increase. Under such auspices, then, 9/11 assured the MIEC of a perpetual stream of money and profit, the Pentagon of ever-increasing power, the elite of greater wealth, and the corporatist world of incessant growth and greater control over the lives of the masses.

America has become more militarized, for a new enemy has been created, marketed and launched. Of course fighting this new enemy conveniently allows the state to launch preemptive attacks and invasions wherever and whenever the dreaded bogeyman appears, granting warmongers a pretext to conquer the resources and lands it seeks. With an ambiguous enemy, unseen and hidden, belonging to no nation or land, intent on destroying our way of life, hating our freedoms and democracy, lurking behind every street corner and underneath every bed, the illusion of needed security, as always provided by the state, will methodically eradicate our rights and freedoms, altering the landscape of America from one of liberty to one of a burgeoning police state. The more we are made to fear, the more insecure we are made to feel, the greater the assault on our civil liberties and rights will become. With every threat, with every act of terror, real or concocted, our freedoms as Americans will dissipate, transforming our lives, corralling our destinies, controlled via the mechanisms of authoritarianism. This, sadly, is the future that awaits us.

Altered Duopoly

What was once known as the Republican Party has mutated into an authoritarian and corporatist political entity, since 9/11 shifting to the extreme right of the political spectrum. That is to say, it has morphed itself into a political arm of the Pentagon and of the authoritarian elements presently ensconced throughout government and the corporate world. The Republican Party of yesteryear has ceased to exist. In its wake now lies an entity that has shred the Bill of Rights, burned the Constitution, made legal torture, once-illegal wiretapping, domestic spying and false imprisonment and made illegal various aspects of free speech, freedom of assembly and due process. It is this party which has declared habeas corpus null and void, has spat upon the Geneva Convention and international law, and has embarked on the ideology of the neoconservative movement. It is this party that now applauds lies and deceit, fictions and myths, and castigates truth and reality. It is this new party that mocks true and honest conservatives, vilifying them when they speak inconvenient truths.

As a result, millions of loyal Republicans, most honorable and good people, (most liberal and progressive on most issues, yet through years of fear, conditioning and manipulation turned to support the Republican platform) do not recognize what was once their party. To millions of lifelong Republicans who do not subscribe to the neocon delusions of imperial hegemony, offensive, preemptive warfare, military buildup and the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Republican Party has long since been made extinct. To them, their party is unrecognizable, becoming a mutated monster of Machiavellian ideology.

The party has transformed itself into a purveyor of human wickedness, with its cast of pretenders to the 2008 throne trying to outdo themselves in a competition of who could become more immoral, debased and criminal. From doubling Guantanamo – where it has been proven that most prisoner are innocent – to allowing torture in interrogations – when torture to extract confessions does not work – to unleashing more wars of conquest to making extinct more civil rights and freedoms, today’s cast of pretenders sound more like Nazis than Republicans. Fear, fear and more fear has become the Republican selling point, its one and only platform, the only way it can maintain tens of millions of authoritarian personality-types from returning to hibernation. In macabre symphony it has tried to monopolize and abuse the horrors of 9/11, constantly regurgitating its memories in hopes the American people can continue to be manipulated.

Catering to the base has never been so much fun, being that millions of authoritarian personalities have become blood-thirsty warmongers whose once hidden racism, xenophobia and lust for violence have suddenly sprouted from the clouds of 9/11. Hating has never been so much fun, either, nor openly accepted and praised. The hatred and unjustifiable anger millions of authoritarians have for Iraqis, or all Arabs for that matter, not to mention Persians and Afghanis, – people who had nothing to do with 9/11 and thus remain innocent – is a traditional trait of authoritarians everywhere.

Once the state and its corporatist press select a convenient enemy to scapegoat and unleash a barrage of propaganda to condition the authoritarian personality masses, the army of authoritarians easily lines up behind the charades of the state. Because authority dislikes Arabs, because it blames them for 9/11, the army of authoritarians will exhibit hostility against Arabs. Because racists and xenophobes in power use Latino undocumented workers as scapegoats for society’s ills, the army of authoritarians will likewise exhibit hostility to these minorities, especially if it is believed that this group might threaten or change traditional values. Combined with ignorance and manufactured consent, an authoritarian personality will ignite the flames of hatred and anger against the enemy of leaders or of the state.

The same principle applied today was also used back in World War Two, when the Nazis used undesirable minorities and dissenters as scapegoats for Germany’s problems, creating enemies so as to push forward the interests of the state. In short order, Germany’s authoritarian personalities unleashed human wickedness on these chosen scapegoats. For regardless of nation or region, time or place, authoritarian personalities are everywhere, their debased morals sequestered in hibernation until that moment when the right buttons are pushed and levers pulled, when New Pearl Harbors are created and malfeasant leaders rise to power.

The Democratic Party too has been struck by the virus of authoritarianism, becoming since 9/11 a conservative party far removed from its liberal and progressive values. Sure, it still clings to some of the progressive ideals that are wedge issues, nothing but illusions that have always been used by both parties to divide and conquer the people. Yet, fundamentally, as the party outside the confines of power when 9/11 occurred, it has had to rebrand and refashion itself in the image of the old Republican Party, in order to remain politically viable, with its moderates shifting further right, with its leadership embracing corporatism and even neoconservativism.

Left in the wake of this Democratic movement towards the right is the progressive left, which has been hemorrhaging thanks to its complete abandonment by the party. Sensing, rather correctly, that the mood and political spectrum of the republic has shifted further right, or more conservative, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Democratic Party has itself adjusted and evolved in this same direction, cognizant of the fact that to fail to do so risked impotence and extinction.

Today, it competes with the new Republican Party over who can thump its chest the strongest and loudest, who can yell and scream the loudest, and who has the biggest scrotum and penis. As a result, and in order to stay within the margins of the militant, criminal Republicans, the Democratic party has made the decision to become more pro-military, thereby embracing warmongering as ideology and the MIEC as a bedfellow. Combined with the warmongering demands by its master, the Israel Lobby, the Democrats have become vociferous cheerleaders for bravado, threats and the possible attack of Iran.

The Democratic Party, sensing the shifting winds of power, smelling presidential and even Congressional victory in 2008, has decided to do nothing with the many laws and regulations that inhibit Americans’ freedoms, rights and liberties. It has decided to do nothing to overturn or destroy Patriot Acts One and Two, the Military Commissions Act, Guantanamo and its many gulag brethren, signing statements powers, and the rising growth of the unitary executive the Bush administration has methodically created. It sees the growing power of the executive branch, senses it will indeed take possession of this branch in 2008, and salivates at the thought of controlling the unitary executive.

Once it has control of the presidency, it can begin to implement all the promises of protecting and defending the “Homeland,” the better to market itself to the people as doing a better job at national security. It can begin to exhibit its machismo and testosterone abroad, perhaps flexing its muscles by attacking impotent third world nations, finally destroying the myth that it is weak on foreign policy and national security. In the meantime, it will appease the MIEC with greater defense spending, the Israel Lobby with continued one-sided support for Israeli apartheid and Iranian intervention, and the corporatist elite through the continued erosion of power of the people. With the neocon movement slowly and clandestinely shifting away from Republican circles and towards those of the Democratic Party, in essence aware of which party will hold power soon, and with so many Democratic pretenders fully embracing the guiding light of the neocon movement, imperial hegemony will continue abroad, facing down all potential rivals, and the path towards authoritarianism will only widen on the home front.

Invariably, the shift rightward will continue in the years ahead, spearheaded by fear, terror and propaganda, taking the duopoly with it, tipping a now unbalanced fulcrum away from centrality and in the direction of authoritarianism, and corporatism. The descent of America into unchartered and unwelcome waters is only now beginning.

House of Little Goebbels

What the neocons have long envisioned is slowly, but surely, coming to fruition, for the foundations that once held America in balance has been damaged. Today, again as a result of 9/11, the fictional war on terror, the marketing of Arabs as enemy extraordinaire and the complete manipulation by fear and insecurity of the citizenry, a shift in the magnetism of opinion has created an America that has become more conservative, right-wing and thus, much more tolerant of authoritarian precepts and policies. As explained above, much of the nation has shifted hard towards the extreme right, that is to say towards an embrace of fascism, a result of incessant fear, insecurity, terror, jingoism, patriotism and war bombarded into our everyday lives.

In fact, the conditioning and manipulation of the American mind that began with 9/11 and has yet to cease, and which was designed to condition us into accepting the fast approaching authoritarianism, has hit us like a blitzkrieg, a constant and perpetual barrage of opinion, sound bites, images and carefully orchestrated propaganda disseminated through the greatest tool of brainwashing ever invented, namely, the television.

Today the corporatist media is saturated with the talking heads and stenographers of the neocons, corporatists and authoritarians, all paid to embed into our minds the propaganda and manipulations of the cabal of criminality. Using our sophisticated and fancy flat screens and HD televisions against us, the corporatist/neocon media is thus using every tool at its disposal to dumb down opinion, alter the meaning of words and precepts, and condition us into accepting growing limitations to our freedoms and rights we enjoy as Americans.

Most egregious of all is FOX News, a fascist propaganda machination masquerading as a news and media channel. Owing its success to the incessant jingoism, patriotism, war cheerleading and fear mongering in the days and years after 9/11, FOX News has only served to brainwash, condition and make ignorant millions of authoritarian personalities. This network has accumulated a collection of the most vile, despicable and nefarious authoritarian personalities in the country, a group of little Goebbels’ who are proud to serve as propaganda loudspeakers and stenographers of the emerging American corporatist state. This collection of immoral midgets and schizophrenic sycophants has made the Nazi propaganda machine look like the Brady Bunch.

These charlatans have regressed debate so much in America, they have devolved political opinion so enormously, they have dumbed down the population to such a high degree, yet have become successful because they satiate the very craving and appetite of the authoritarian personality that longs to hear the talking points of tyranny rising and fascism spreading. Indeed, the authoritarian personality seeks comfort and security in the demented and delusional opinions of FOX News personalities, needing the validation of beliefs to assuage his insecure and feeble mind.

The success of FOX News, with its group think mentality, its obvious distortions, manipulations and lies, its smearing of opposition, its virulent hate mongering and dissemination of extreme right-wing corporatist venom, has had the effect of spreading its corrosive propaganda to other networks as these seek to replicate Rupert Murdoch’s formula for success and profit. Consequently, these networks, in imitating the formula for success used by FOX, became conduits of propaganda and stenographers of the state, thereby exacerbating ignorance, compounding hatred and destroying free thought.

Acting as the Ministry of Truth, at a time of perceived and manufactured fear and terror, FOX News offered stability in an unstable world, drawing in millions of authoritarian personalities that needed to hear and see that the world, although inherently evil, was being protected by the state. Thus, FOX News became the main stenographer and defender of the party in power.

With millions of viewers tuning in, needing a fix of bravado and schoolyard bully newspeak and behavior, corporations wanting to cash in joined the FOX News orgy of hatred, fear mongering and xenophobia, spending millions of dollars so the army of authoritarian personality would watch their advertisements and invariably, purchase their products.

By appealing to the authoritarian personality at a time when to do so is appealing and expected, especially with the fortuitous luck of 9/11 having molded, created and awakened so many authoritarians in hibernation, FOX has helped push the nation down the precipice of authoritarianism, steering the nation’s mood to the hard, authoritarian right, and in the process shifting ideology towards the parameters of accepted despotism. For while the good Germans of yesteryear allowed the Nazi regime to flourish and commit monstrous atrocities, they did not have the power or scope or reach of a FOX News, corporatist media type propaganda machine from which to gather and be brainwashed. Indeed, their army of authoritarian personality, much smaller than ours, was conditioned on much less, without the use of television and its many powers of persuasion, yet it is America’s army of authoritarian personality that has been molded via the airwaves to become a dangerous and growing entity. The television has thus proven a most useful tool to the neocons, just as it is to any fascist regime.

But for the army of authoritarianism tuning in religiously on a daily basis, however, FOX would have never survived, thrived and grown to become the greatest tool of propaganda the nation, and the world, has ever seen. Like two organisms in a symbiotic relation, therefore, one entity fed the other, growing together in power and scope, sustaining each other through one entity’s addiction to insecurity and the other’s immediate and hypnotic fix.

So successful has the conditioning of FOX and its imitators been, so dangerous has the end result turned into, that today over 100 million individuals have been transformed into an army of authoritarians, their personality being such that easy followers of criminality do they become. At the drop of a hat, these individuals would chose slavery over freedom, security over rights, ignorance over knowledge, war over peace and tyranny over liberty. In a world of unintended consequences, the army of authoritarian personality can help turn freedom’s bells into fascism’s sirens.

Army of Authoritarian Personalities

To the authoritarian personality, those millions living among us as neighbors, friends, co-workers and family, the arrival of authoritarianism into our lives will be welcomed without even a hint of dissent. For these individuals believe everything emanating from their television monitors, treating those words spoken by stenographers and propagandists as sacrosanct and truth. To these millions, blind faith in government and in criminal leaders is a way of life, for the myths of the American state caring for its people, being an altruistic entity, is a certainty rooted in life-long brainwashing. To these millions, the myths of and faith in American exceptionalism are just as strong as those myths, faiths and beliefs in a primitive and unseen deity. To the authoritarian personality, the fables of American history, and of the American government, are deeply embedded in the mind, never able to be exorcised from within.

To this individual, the state is the ultimate arbiter of human interaction, and its leaders, the personification of religious deities themselves. Indeed, traumatic events such as 9/11 systematically alter the behavior and psychology of an authoritarian personality. This individual could mutate from moral and honorable man to warmongering and xenophobic psychotic. He could go from once being a thinking and knowledgeable person to easily brainwashed and manipulated, made to believe a vast array of lies and deceptions, creating a barricade within that prevents all truth and reason from entering. It is calamities such as 9/11 that like a snap of a finger transform normalcy and decency into hate and fear, causing the carrier of the authoritarian personality to alter his or her psyche. As if hypnotized by unrecognizable powers, this individual does not even become aware of his sinister and oftentimes self-destructive metamorphosis.

To the authoritarian personality, fear of Arab bogeymen, that dreaded evildoer known as al-Qaeda, marketed as seeking the complete destruction of America, controls all aspects of emotion and psychology, resulting in the complete submission of his mind to authority. Thus, if the state requests that a microchip be implanted into his head, he will immediately comply. If the state decides to suspend the Constitution, he will provide a flame. If Muslims, Arabs, dissidents and other undesirables are forced into ghettos or are rounded up, he will gladly volunteer. If curfews or checkpoints or martial law is declared, he will finally feel protection from fear. If his rights and freedoms are taken away, he will live life content. If the state desires to attack a foreign land, he will ask for the use of nuclear weapons. If the dear leader asks for volunteers to defend the homeland, he will immediately purchase a brown shirt. If he is told to be vigilant in his neighborhood, he will take that as instruction to spy on neighbors. If he is told his wife or mother are enemies of the state, he asks where to turn them in.

Such is the corrosive interaction between the authoritarian personality and the manipulative powers of the state. Such is the danger of authoritarian personalities intertwining their numbers with engineered, catalyzing events. Such is the potential damage of authoritarian personalities to tomorrow’s freedom that the sacrifice of their progeny’s long-term rights and liberties is a small price to pay for the short-term comfort of their own manufactured fears.

Authoritarian personalities are the submissive peons of power, the cowards of corporatism, and the blood-thirsty barbarians of warmongers. They are, quite simply, one of the greatest threats to the republic, a collection of intellectually hollow, willfully ignorant followers of criminality. Born natural followers, selfish and greedy, uncurious and apathetic, devoid of reason and logic, lacking courage and free-thought, unwilling to ever question authority, eager to place blind faith in both the unseen and the unproven, in adulthood becoming the ignorant sheeple easily obeying the dictates of leaders, with authoritarian tendencies running through their veins, these individuals have come out into the open, like cockroaches rising from the sewers, the propaganda and conditioning by the corporatist media becoming the hypnotic flute beckoning them forward.

This authoritarian personality, deeply embedded in the psyche of millions of individuals, for years buried, sequestered and controlled by the fictions and fantasies of the American Dream, was resurrected from the catacombs of the mind with the psychological war against the American people begun on 9/11. Like, zombies, the army of authoritarianism rose from the dead, thereby transforming America’s character for the worse. Crossing party lines, both Democrats and Republicans, liberal and conservative, from all socioeconomic, ethnic and religious groups, these individuals suddenly saw the world with different eyes. Millions became blinded to reality, building bubbles of infallibility from where truth was banished. The lies of the corporatist state became accepted through blind faith. Anyone who disagreed with the state or its leader became a traitor, a terrorist sympathizer, a treasonous enemy in the eyes of these people.

Spoon fed a potion of FOX News propaganda and corporatist manipulations, authoritarian personalities have fallen under the spell of neocon thinking. Unable to think for themselves, these people incorporate as their own any and all talking points spewed by the neocon, authoritarian media. Thus the lies and propaganda of corporatists and neocons becomes the belief and world view of these ignorant personalities. The views emanating from the talking heads and stenographers of authoritarianism are quickly embedded into the mindset of the authoritarian personality, who because of his great timidity is made to fear the dreaded, evil and dark skinned Arab enemy concocted by the creators of reality.

Possessing little logic or ability to reason, with fear controlling emotions and thoughts, this personality is quickly made to believe the lies, deceit, and deceptions of the neocon media, and thus eagerly accepts the destruction of his civil rights, freedoms and liberties in the name of security and state sponsored protection. This personality would rather live in a police state, serving under tyranny, rather than confront his own, and oftentimes manufactured fears and insecurities. He would rather remain ignorant than accept truth, preferring to dwell in fiction than in reality. Confronting the truth of his so-called leaders, along with the reality outside his bubble is unfathomable, lest his beautiful mind be molested of its fantasy and comfort.

Lacking conviction, strength, courage and bravery, all alien afterthoughts to him, this person would much rather live inside the comfortable charade created by the state than confront a reality of the world around him that might disrupt his delusions. He would much rather attach a meaningless car magnet “supporting the troops” than enlist to fight a war he approves of and wages from his comfortable couch, even as he supports leaders who care nothing for soldiers. This personality is made to cower in fear of an enemy created exclusively to control and oppress him, an enemy he purposefully refuses to know and understand, study, listen to and research, preferring to remain in darkness, preferring to believe the drivel emanating from his monitor than know the truth of the evildoer he hates so much yet comprehends so little.

The rise and spread of authoritarianism has been rapid and as yet unstoppable, growing from its 9/11 birth, reared through years of fear and terror conditioning, and maturing through perpetual wars, concocted enemies and eviscerated rights. Like a contagion passing from host to host, American authoritarianism is spreading, afflicting perhaps 100 to 150 million citizens, anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of the population, many of whom seem oblivious to the threats to their ways of life they themselves are engendering.

The New Pearl Harbor, besides acting as the catalyzing event needed by the cabal of criminality to unleash imperial hegemony, also acted as the hypnotizing awakening of authoritarianism, becoming the deafening siren triggering the emergence of a once hibernating authoritarian personality. With the rise of this army of authoritarianism also came a monumental shift in the direction of fascist tendencies and policies, so much so that at no other time in America’s history has the threat of fascism been more apparent, and prevalent.

This phenomenon also gives us pause, for in its existence can we see how the totalitarian monsters of the past were allowed to flourish, how they were allowed to unleash carnage upon the world. They also offer us a window into the future, into how tomorrow’s tyrants can be contained and stopped before they once more open the gates of human wickedness. And, of course, in the unmasking of the authoritarians we can also see the present, and how America has allowed herself to descend into the frontier of authoritarianism, the badlands of despotism.

The unmasking of the authoritarians commences with introspection and a look into the mirror, understanding how 9/11 affected each of us, studying how its subsequent barrage of propaganda and manipulations by the corporatist state altered our psychology and emotions, researching what its emotional effects and consequences were. By seeing 9/11 for what it is, an inside job whose purpose was a psychological war against us by a cabal of criminality intent on controlling our minds, we can better comprehend the individuals that comprise the authoritarian personality that have had such a pivotal role in our descent into authoritarianism. Perhaps we can learn how to prevent this army from rising again once it returns into prolonged hibernation.

In the end, introspections as a nation are a good thing, especially in times of universal deceit and criminality, for they teach us about ourselves and our neighbors. Perhaps next time, and there will be a next time, we will prevent criminality and the rising tentacles of authoritarianism from submerging us into the ocean of impotence. Perhaps, if we learn our lessons and our history, instead of ignoring both, we will be able to prevent another attempt to plunge us deeper into the abyss of fascism.

Only by knowing ourselves and our American personality better will we succeed. Only by understanding the manipulations and the propaganda of our masters, and how they affect us, will we be triumphant. Never in our history has a mirror been more needed. Never has its use been more sought.

What we might see reflected back might be uncomfortable, it might frighten and enrage us, it might send chills down our spine. Yet in this reflection we might also see hope, possibility and promise; we may see our true selves. By looking directly into the mirror, the unmasking of America can thus commence.

Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst and Internet essayist. His articles as well as his archive can be found at his blog, and at as well as at other alternative news websites from around the globe. Mr. Valenzuela is also author of Echoes in the Wind, a fiction novel. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at


“If the world is upside down the way it is now, wouldn’t we have to turn it over to get it to stand up straight?” - Eduardo Galeano

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. -- Edward R. Murrow

Venezuelan Authorities Warn of Destabilization Plans

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

By: Chris Carlson -

Mérida, May 23, 2007 (— In recent days, Venezuelan government officials have increasingly warned of plans to destabilize the country in the lead up to the May 27th protests in support of the private TV station RCTV. Authorities have warned of a U.S.-organized plan to infiltrate the country with Colombian paramilitaries, among other rumored plots. But President Chavez assured yesterday that the government would not allow them to achieve their goals.

Speaking in Caracas yesterday, Chavez made reference to rumors of destabilization plans that have circulated in recent days. Talk of plots against the government by opposition groups has increased as the date of the May 27th opposition protest approaches.

"There are groups that keep thinking that with riots, with Colombian paramilitaries, with rumors and media campaigns against the National Armed Forces that they will destabilize the country, but they won't do it, we won't allow it," assured Chavez during his speech yesterday.

Among the rumored plots is one revealed by Ex-vice president Jose Vicente Rangel last Sunday. Talking on his television show Jose Vicente Today, the ex-official reported that a joint U.S.-Colombian operation has been detected to infiltrate Colombian paramilitaries, including some expert snipers, into Venezuela. According to Rangel, the plot has the intention of assassinating government leaders and leaders of the opposition to create general instability in the country in what he called "a new phase in the dirty war against Venezuela."

Rangel also spoke of a second plan to infiltrate into Venezuela a Colombian drug lord to later be captured by Colombian authorities in order to accuse the Venezuelan government of providing him protection and to create "an international scandal." A similar plan to this one was carried out two years ago when a high official of the Colombian guerrilla group FARC was captured in Venezuela with the intention of accusing the Chavez government of providing aid to the FARC. In the ensuing crisis, Chavez temporarily broke off relations with the neighboring country.

Those behind the plans are Colombian drug-traffickers along with the "warlike elements of the North American government, headed by John Negroponte, the second-highest in the U.S. State Department, who recently visited Colombia," explained Rangel. Also involved in the plots is Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos who recently provoked a crisis between the two countries when he made declarations in Spain criticizing Venezuelan counter drug trafficking.

The Colombian government has denied the claims, assuring that the Colombian government is a friend of Venezuela and desires good relations with the neighboring country. Minister Foreign Affairs Fernando Araujo, speaking to the press on Monday, defended Santos, explaining that he "is totally respectful of Venezuelan institutions and the internal affairs of Venezuela."

Nevertheless, Venezuelan state intelligence has been on the lookout in order to diffuse any plans before they take place. On Monday, intelligence groups found various firearms and weapons that they say are connected to a destabilization plan motivated by the RCTV case.

Venezuelan Minister of the Interior Pedro Carreño announced at a press conference on Monday the arrest of two individuals in the possession of various weapons. Among the weapons were several sub-machine guns, three shotguns, and parts to a 762 caliber machine gun.

In addition, Carreño said that in a raid in the Caracas sector of Altamira another individual was detained under charges of "plotting against the security and defense of the nation."

Authorities found four rifles, three shotguns, six pistols, two revolvers, a rifle scope, four bombs, bullet-proof vests, among other related items. In the house of the subject authorities also found more rifles and shotguns, a crossbow, and a laptop computer with information of other weapons.

Carreño assured that the intelligence agencies are on alert and are prepared to diffuse "any situation that could hurt the political stability of the country, the security of the citizens, the stability of the institutions and, therefore, the internal peace of the Republic."

Venezuela to Lower Phone Rates 20% Following Nationalization

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Caracas, May 23, 2007 (— With the swearing in of the new board of directors for Venezuela’s main telecommunications company CANTV, which was recently nationalized, President Hugo Chavez declared that phone rates would be lowered by as much as 20%, among a number of other changes.

“We have nationalized [CANTV] after so many years [after privatization], but it will not become what it was prior to privatization, when it was a company of a capitalist state. Now we have to make a leap from a private capitalist company to a socialist state-owned company, which is not seeking profit, even when with a good management there will not be economic losses,” declared Chavez during yesterday’s ceremony, which was broadcast on all TV channels.

“More important than economic gain is the social gain – social service for the integral development of all inhabitants of Venezuela,” added Chavez.

The lowering of the phone rates will affect the company’s cell phone network, whose rates will be lowered in two phases, by 10% as of June 15 and another 10% as of August 15. Also, phone rates from land lines to cell phones will be lowered by 20% and rates between CANTV’s cell phones and the cell phone networks of other company’s will be lowered by 30%.

Chavez explained that this means that the current rates of $0.16 per minute for calls from land lines to cell phones would thus be lowered to $0.13 per minute. Local and long distance phone rates of land lines will also be lowered by 10% and 15% respectively.

According to Andreas Faust, an analyst with Banco Mercantil in Caracas, “In a way, the government, instead of paying a dividend to shareholders, will pay a dividend to customers,'' Faust said, according to Bloomberg. “It's a very populist move and will likely slow inflation a bit.”

As of January 2008 the newly nationalized company will expand its service into currently underserved and low-income areas with lower “solidarity” pricing for these areas. Currently Venezuela’s land line network reaches only 45% of the country’s households, whereby there is a large class divide, so that 80% of upper and middle class households (so-called sectors A,B, and C) have phone service and only 20% of working class and poor households (sectors D and E).

“Rest assured that since this government is socialist, we will include the maximum number of families possible [in the phone network],” said Chavez. Households with land line phone service are thus to be increased by 50%, from currently 2.7 million households to 4 million in the next year and a half. In the next few years 93% of Venezuelans would have access to land line phone service.

“CANTV will be present in all population centers with more than 500 inhabitants,” said Chavez. This expansion will be related to the rail system that Venezuela is constructing throughout the country, he added.

Cell phone service, though, will also continue to expand, so that in the next 18 months another two million cell phone customers will be added, for a total of 10.5 million by the end of 2008.

Chavez explained that under privatization CANTV focused mainly on expanding its cell phone system, at the expense of its land lines, which Chavez blamed on capitalist profit-seeking, at the expense of any social considerations. “The path of capitalism is the destruction of society, of division, of violence and beyond, the path of the destruction of the human species,” he stated.

Also included in the new business plan for CANTV is the supply of internet connections to all Venezuelan schools, so that by the end of 2007 5,200 Bolivarian schools will have internet access with a minimum of three computers each. By the end of 2008 all school will have access.

Finally, Chavez announced that as of early 2008 coin operated public telephones will be reintroduced in all of Venezuela. Over the past ten years CANTV had completely eliminated coin operated public phones, in favor of pre-paid card phones. The new coin phones will come with the monetary conversion that is planned for January 2008, whereby three zeros will be eliminated from Venezuela’s currency.

The three main new directors of CANTV are women, with Socorro Hernandez as president, Jacqueline Faria, the former Minister of the Environment, heading up the cell phone division Movilnet, and Annie Monage heading up the phone directory system Caveguias.

Communal Telecommunications Committees

Chavez also explained that in order to achieve the expansion plans he outlined, CANTV will need the help of the communal councils, which should form technical telecommunications committees. “Only with community participation will we achieve that these companies will be truly socialist,” said Chavez.

Tens of thousands of communal councils, which represent neighborhoods of 200 to 400 families, have been created in the past year and a half throughout Venezuela. Each communal council has a variety of committees that work on improving the neighborhood’s public services, such as water supply, health care, and community education programs. These work in conjunction with various state institutions, such as the water company, the community health mission Barrio Adentro, or the educational missions, such as Missions Ribas and Robinson.

In connection with this Chavez also mentioned that the new law on a national police, which will be passed soon, will not only create a national police force, but communal police as well, which would work in conjunction with the communal councils.


“If the world is upside down the way it is now, wouldn’t we have to turn it over to get it to stand up straight?” - Eduardo Galeano

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. -- Edward R. Murrow