Saturday, June 02, 2007

Vietnam - the American Holocaust

part 1/3

part 2/2

part 3/3

Children: victims of Agent Orange

American Nazis in Vietnam

A short clip from the video - Vietnam: American Holocaust

We're The Cops Of The World

How George W Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power

If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier .... just as long as I'm the dictator.
George (My Grandpa helped launch the Nazi Party) Bush

Rumours of a link between the US first family and the Nazi war machine have circulated for decades. Now the Guardian can reveal how repercussions of events that culminated in action under the Trading with the Enemy Act are still being felt by today's president.

George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.
The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.

The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator's action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

The debate over Prescott Bush's behaviour has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady internet chatter about the "Bush/Nazi" connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis' plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler's rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.

Remarkably, little of Bush's dealings with Germany has received public scrutiny, partly because of the secret status of the documentation involving him. But now the multibillion dollar legal action for damages by two Holocaust survivors against the Bush family, and the imminent publication of three books on the subject are threatening to make Prescott Bush's business history an uncomfortable issue for his grandson, George W, as he seeks re-election.

While there is no suggestion that Prescott Bush was sympathetic to the Nazi cause, the documents reveal that the firm he worked for, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), acted as a US base for the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the 1930s before falling out with him at the end of the decade. The Guardian has seen evidence that shows Bush was the director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen's US interests and he continued to work for the bank after America entered the war.

Bush was also on the board of at least one of the companies that formed part of a multinational network of front companies to allow Thyssen to move assets around the world.

Thyssen owned the largest steel and coal company in Germany and grew rich from Hitler's efforts to re-arm between the two world wars. One of the pillars in Thyssen's international corporate web, UBC, worked exclusively for, and was owned by, a Thyssen-controlled bank in the Netherlands. More tantalising are Bush's links to the Consolidated Silesian Steel Company (CSSC), based in mineral rich Silesia on the German-Polish border. During the war, the company made use of Nazi slave labour from the concentration camps, including Auschwitz. The ownership of CSSC changed hands several times in the 1930s, but documents from the US National Archive declassified last year link Bush to CSSC, although it is not clear if he and UBC were still involved in the company when Thyssen's American assets were seized in 1942.

Three sets of archives spell out Prescott Bush's involvement. All three are readily available, thanks to the efficient US archive system and a helpful and dedicated staff at both the Library of Congress in Washington and the National Archives at the University of Maryland.

The first set of files, the Harriman papers in the Library of Congress, show that Prescott Bush was a director and shareholder of a number of companies involved with Thyssen.

The second set of papers, which are in the National Archives, are contained in vesting order number 248 which records the seizure of the company assets. What these files show is that on October 20 1942 the alien property custodian seized the assets of the UBC, of which Prescott Bush was a director. Having gone through the books of the bank, further seizures were made against two affiliates, the Holland-American Trading Corporation and the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation. By November, the Silesian-American Company, another of Prescott Bush's ventures, had also been seized.

The third set of documents, also at the National Archives, are contained in the files on IG Farben, who was prosecuted for war crimes.

A report issued by the Office of Alien Property Custodian in 1942 stated of the companies that "since 1939, these (steel and mining) properties have been in possession of and have been operated by the German government and have undoubtedly been of considerable assistance to that country's war effort".

Prescott Bush, a 6ft 4in charmer with a rich singing voice, was the founder of the Bush political dynasty and was once considered a potential presidential candidate himself. Like his son, George, and grandson, George W, he went to Yale where he was, again like his descendants, a member of the secretive and influential Skull and Bones student society. He was an artillery captain in the first world war and married Dorothy Walker, the daughter of George Herbert Walker, in 1921.

In 1924, his father-in-law, a well-known St Louis investment banker, helped set him up in business in New York with Averill Harriman, the wealthy son of railroad magnate E H Harriman in New York, who had gone into banking.

One of the first jobs Walker gave Bush was to manage UBC. Bush was a founding member of the bank and the incorporation documents, which list him as one of seven directors, show he owned one share in UBC worth $125.

The bank was set up by Harriman and Bush's father-in-law to provide a US bank for the Thyssens, Germany's most powerful industrial family.

August Thyssen, the founder of the dynasty had been a major contributor to Germany's first world war effort and in the 1920s, he and his sons Fritz and Heinrich established a network of overseas banks and companies so their assets and money could be whisked offshore if threatened again.

By the time Fritz Thyssen inherited the business empire in 1926, Germany's economic recovery was faltering. After hearing Adolf Hitler speak, Thyssen became mesmerised by the young firebrand. He joined the Nazi party in December 1931 and admits backing Hitler in his autobiography, I Paid Hitler, when the National Socialists were still a radical fringe party. He stepped in several times to bail out the struggling party: in 1928 Thyssen had bought the Barlow Palace on Briennerstrasse, in Munich, which Hitler converted into the Brown House, the headquarters of the Nazi party. The money came from another Thyssen overseas institution, the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvarrt in Rotterdam.

By the late 1930s, Brown Brothers Harriman, which claimed to be the world's largest private investment bank, and UBC had bought and shipped millions of dollars of gold, fuel, steel, coal and US treasury bonds to Germany, both feeding and financing Hitler's build-up to war.

Between 1931 and 1933 UBC bought more than $8m worth of gold, of which $3m was shipped abroad. According to documents seen by the Guardian, after UBC was set up it transferred $2m to BBH accounts and between 1924 and 1940 the assets of UBC hovered around $3m, dropping to $1m only on a few occasions.

In 1941, Thyssen fled Germany after falling out with Hitler but he was captured in France and detained for the remainder of the war.

There was nothing illegal in doing business with the Thyssens throughout the 1930s and many of America's best-known business names invested heavily in the German economic recovery. However, everything changed after Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Even then it could be argued that BBH was within its rights continuing business relations with the Thyssens until the end of 1941 as the US was still technically neutral until the attack on Pearl Harbor. The trouble started on July 30 1942 when the New York Herald-Tribune ran an article entitled "Hitler's Angel Has $3m in US Bank". UBC's huge gold purchases had raised suspicions that the bank was in fact a "secret nest egg" hidden in New York for Thyssen and other Nazi bigwigs. The Alien Property Commission (APC) launched an investigation.

There is no dispute over the fact that the US government seized a string of assets controlled by BBH - including UBC and SAC - in the autumn of 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy act. What is in dispute is if Harriman, Walker and Bush did more than own these companies on paper.

Erwin May, a treasury attache and officer for the department of investigation in the APC, was assigned to look into UBC's business. The first fact to emerge was that Roland Harriman, Prescott Bush and the other directors didn't actually own their shares in UBC but merely held them on behalf of Bank voor Handel. Strangely, no one seemed to know who owned the Rotterdam-based bank, including UBC's president.

May wrote in his report of August 16 1941: "Union Banking Corporation, incorporated August 4 1924, is wholly owned by the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart N.V of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. My investigation has produced no evidence as to the ownership of the Dutch bank. Mr Cornelis [sic] Lievense, president of UBC, claims no knowledge as to the ownership of the Bank voor Handel but believes it possible that Baron Heinrich Thyssen, brother of Fritz Thyssen, may own a substantial interest."

May cleared the bank of holding a golden nest egg for the Nazi leaders but went on to describe a network of companies spreading out from UBC across Europe, America and Canada, and how money from voor Handel travelled to these companies through UBC.

By September May had traced the origins of the non-American board members and found that Dutchman HJ Kouwenhoven - who met with Harriman in 1924 to set up UBC - had several other jobs: in addition to being the managing director of voor Handel he was also the director of the August Thyssen bank in Berlin and a director of Fritz Thyssen's Union Steel Works, the holding company that controlled Thyssen's steel and coal mine empire in Germany.

Within a few weeks, Homer Jones, the chief of the APC investigation and research division sent a memo to the executive committee of APC recommending the US government vest UBC and its assets. Jones named the directors of the bank in the memo, including Prescott Bush's name, and wrote: "Said stock is held by the above named individuals, however, solely as nominees for the Bank voor Handel, Rotterdam, Holland, which is owned by one or more of the Thyssen family, nationals of Germany and Hungary. The 4,000 shares hereinbefore set out are therefore beneficially owned and help for the interests of enemy nationals, and are vestible by the APC," according to the memo from the National Archives seen by the Guardian.


Jones recommended that the assets be liquidated for the benefit of the government, but instead UBC was maintained intact and eventually returned to the American shareholders after the war. Some claim that Bush sold his share in UBC after the war for $1.5m - a huge amount of money at the time - but there is no documentary evidence to support this claim. No further action was ever taken nor was the investigation continued, despite the fact UBC was caught red-handed operating a American shell company for the Thyssen family eight months after America had entered the war and that this was the bank that had partly financed Hitler's rise to power.

The most tantalising part of the story remains shrouded in mystery: the connection, if any, between Prescott Bush, Thyssen, Consolidated Silesian Steel Company (CSSC) and Auschwitz.

Thyssen's partner in United Steel Works, which had coal mines and steel plants across the region, was Friedrich Flick, another steel magnate who also owned part of IG Farben, the powerful German chemical company.

Flick's plants in Poland made heavy use of slave labour from the concentration camps in Poland. According to a New York Times article published in March 18 1934 Flick owned two-thirds of CSSC while "American interests" held the rest.

The US National Archive documents show that BBH's involvement with CSSC was more than simply holding the shares in the mid-1930s. Bush's friend and fellow "bonesman" Knight Woolley, another partner at BBH, wrote to Averill Harriman in January 1933 warning of problems with CSSC after the Poles started their drive to nationalise the plant. "The Consolidated Silesian Steel Company situation has become increasingly complicated, and I have accordingly brought in Sullivan and Cromwell, in order to be sure that our interests are protected," wrote Knight. "After studying the situation Foster Dulles is insisting that their man in Berlin get into the picture and obtain the information which the directors here should have. You will recall that Foster is a director and he is particularly anxious to be certain that there is no liability attaching to the American directors."

But the ownership of the CSSC between 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland and 1942 when the US government vested UBC and SAC is not clear.

"SAC held coal mines and definitely owned CSSC between 1934 and 1935, but when SAC was vested there was no trace of CSSC. All concrete evidence of its ownership disappears after 1935 and there are only a few traces in 1938 and 1939," says Eva Schweitzer, the journalist and author whose book, America and the Holocaust, is published next month.

Silesia was quickly made part of the German Reich after the invasion, but while Polish factories were seized by the Nazis, those belonging to the still neutral Americans (and some other nationals) were treated more carefully as Hitler was still hoping to persuade the US to at least sit out the war as a neutral country. Schweitzer says American interests were dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The Nazis bought some out, but not others.

The two Holocaust survivors suing the US government and the Bush family for a total of $40bn in compensation claim both materially benefited from Auschwitz slave labour during the second world war.

Kurt Julius Goldstein, 87, and Peter Gingold, 85, began a class action in America in 2001, but the case was thrown out by Judge Rosemary Collier on the grounds that the government cannot be held liable under the principle of "state sovereignty".

Jan Lissmann, one of the lawyers for the survivors, said: "President Bush withdrew President Bill Clinton's signature from the treaty [that founded the court] not only to protect Americans, but also to protect himself and his family."

Lissmann argues that genocide-related cases are covered by international law, which does hold governments accountable for their actions. He claims the ruling was invalid as no hearing took place.

In their claims, Mr Goldstein and Mr Gingold, honorary chairman of the League of Anti-fascists, suggest the Americans were aware of what was happening at Auschwitz and should have bombed the camp.

The lawyers also filed a motion in The Hague asking for an opinion on whether state sovereignty is a valid reason for refusing to hear their case. A ruling is expected within a month.

The petition to The Hague states: "From April 1944 on, the American Air Force could have destroyed the camp with air raids, as well as the railway bridges and railway lines from Hungary to Auschwitz. The murder of about 400,000 Hungarian Holocaust victims could have been prevented."

The case is built around a January 22 1944 executive order signed by President Franklin Roosevelt calling on the government to take all measures to rescue the European Jews. The lawyers claim the order was ignored because of pressure brought by a group of big American companies, including BBH, where Prescott Bush was a director.

Lissmann said: "If we have a positive ruling from the court it will cause [president] Bush huge problems and make him personally liable to pay compensation."

The US government and the Bush family deny all the claims against them.

In addition to Eva Schweitzer's book, two other books are about to be published that raise the subject of Prescott Bush's business history. The author of the second book, to be published next year, John Loftus, is a former US attorney who prosecuted Nazi war criminals in the 70s. Now living in St Petersburg, Florida and earning his living as a security commentator for Fox News and ABC radio, Loftus is working on a novel which uses some of the material he has uncovered on Bush. Loftus stressed that what Prescott Bush was involved in was just what many other American and British businessmen were doing at the time.

"You can't blame Bush for what his grandfather did any more than you can blame Jack Kennedy for what his father did - bought Nazi stocks - but what is important is the cover-up, how it could have gone on so successfully for half a century, and does that have implications for us today?" he said.

"This was the mechanism by which Hitler was funded to come to power, this was the mechanism by which the Third Reich's defence industry was re-armed, this was the mechanism by which Nazi profits were repatriated back to the American owners, this was the mechanism by which investigations into the financial laundering of the Third Reich were blunted," said Loftus, who is vice-chairman of the Holocaust Museum in St Petersburg.

"The Union Banking Corporation was a holding company for the Nazis, for Fritz Thyssen," said Loftus. "At various times, the Bush family has tried to spin it, saying they were owned by a Dutch bank and it wasn't until the Nazis took over Holland that they realised that now the Nazis controlled the apparent company and that is why the Bush supporters claim when the war was over they got their money back. Both the American treasury investigations and the intelligence investigations in Europe completely bely that, it's absolute horseshit. They always knew who the ultimate beneficiaries were."

"There is no one left alive who could be prosecuted but they did get away with it," said Loftus. "As a former federal prosecutor, I would make a case for Prescott Bush, his father-in-law (George Walker) and Averill Harriman [to be prosecuted] for giving aid and comfort to the enemy. They remained on the boards of these companies knowing that they were of financial benefit to the nation of Germany."

Loftus said Prescott Bush must have been aware of what was happening in Germany at the time. "My take on him was that he was a not terribly successful in-law who did what Herbert Walker told him to. Walker and Harriman were the two evil geniuses, they didn't care about the Nazis any more than they cared about their investments with the Bolsheviks."

What is also at issue is how much money Bush made from his involvement. His supporters suggest that he had one token share. Loftus disputes this, citing sources in "the banking and intelligence communities" and suggesting that the Bush family, through George Herbert Walker and Prescott, got $1.5m out of the involvement. There is, however, no paper trail to this sum.

The third person going into print on the subject is John Buchanan, 54, a Miami-based magazine journalist who started examining the files while working on a screenplay. Last year, Buchanan published his findings in the venerable but small-circulation New Hampshire Gazette under the headline "Documents in National Archives Prove George Bush's Grandfather Traded With the Nazis - Even After Pearl Harbor". He expands on this in his book to be published next month - Fixing America: Breaking the Stranglehold of Corporate Rule, Big Media and the Religious Right.

In the article, Buchanan, who has worked mainly in the trade and music press with a spell as a muckraking reporter in Miami, claimed that "the essential facts have appeared on the internet and in relatively obscure books but were dismissed by the media and Bush family as undocumented diatribes".

Buchanan suffers from hypermania, a form of manic depression, and when he found himself rebuffed in his initial efforts to interest the media, he responded with a series of threats against the journalists and media outlets that had spurned him. The threats, contained in e-mails, suggested that he would expose the journalists as "traitors to the truth".

Unsurprisingly, he soon had difficulty getting his calls returned. Most seriously, he faced aggravated stalking charges in Miami, in connection with a man with whom he had fallen out over the best way to publicise his findings. The charges were dropped last month.


Buchanan said he regretted his behaviour had damaged his credibility but his main aim was to secure publicity for the story. Both Loftus and Schweitzer say Buchanan has come up with previously undisclosed documentation.

The Bush family have largely responded with no comment to any reference to Prescott Bush. Brown Brothers Harriman also declined to comment.

The Bush family recently approved a flattering biography of Prescott Bush entitled Duty, Honour, Country by Mickey Herskowitz. The publishers, Rutledge Hill Press, promised the book would "deal honestly with Prescott Bush's alleged business relationships with Nazi industrialists and other accusations".

In fact, the allegations are dealt with in less than two pages. The book refers to the Herald-Tribune story by saying that "a person of less established ethics would have panicked ... Bush and his partners at Brown Brothers Harriman informed the government regulators that the account, opened in the late 1930s, was 'an unpaid courtesy for a client' ... Prescott Bush acted quickly and openly on behalf of the firm, served well by a reputation that had never been compromised. He made available all records and all documents. Viewed six decades later in the era of serial corporate scandals and shattered careers, he received what can be viewed as the ultimate clean bill."

The Prescott Bush story has been condemned by both conservatives and some liberals as having nothing to do with the current president. It has also been suggested that Prescott Bush had little to do with Averill Harriman and that the two men opposed each other politically.

However, documents from the Harriman papers include a flattering wartime profile of Harriman in the New York Journal American and next to it in the files is a letter to the financial editor of that paper from Prescott Bush congratulating the paper for running the profile. He added that Harriman's "performance and his whole attitude has been a source of inspiration and pride to his partners and his friends".

The Anti-Defamation League in the US is supportive of Prescott Bush and the Bush family. In a statement last year they said that "rumours about the alleged Nazi 'ties' of the late Prescott Bush ... have circulated widely through the internet in recent years. These charges are untenable and politically motivated ... Prescott Bush was neither a Nazi nor a Nazi sympathiser."

However, one of the country's oldest Jewish publications, the Jewish Advocate, has aired the controversy in detail.

More than 60 years after Prescott Bush came briefly under scrutiny at the time of a faraway war, his grandson is facing a different kind of scrutiny but one underpinned by the same perception that, for some people, war can be a profitable business.

It's not RCTV--it's the oil, stupid!

Shh...we don't use no bad fucking language around here, kapister? This site is censored, after all. It must be; after all, I'm a pro-Chavez socialist, therefore I must have something against free speech!

Oh, bullshit.

An opinion writer at, Ivana Cardinale, has pinned down the real reasons why the US is so "concerned" about all those nationalizations--and the non-renewal of broadcast licence to a right-wing TV station whose main contribution to Venezuelan culture has been its soap operas. Here's a snip:
We Venezuelans are on the point of witnessing a coup d'etat against our president for the third time. The reason for this latest coup is NOT the end of RCTV's broadcast licence, much less the brothel of expression which we see and hear daily thanks to the media whores. RCTV is the mask Washington needs.

The State Dept. NEVER assassinates presidents or destroys governments over the end of a foreign channel's broadcast licence. Bush couldn't care less about RCTV or Granier.
The only thing that would move the empire to commit assassinations and coups d'etat in other countries is ENERGY, and failing that, natural resources.


The real reason is the nationalization of the Orinoco oilfields which happened about a month ago. Nothing more, nothing less. It's the ORINOCO, THE BIGGEST RESERVE IN THE WORLD. But...does no one see that?

The measures taken by Chavez infuriated Bush, drove him and his transnational oil buddies crazy. Had Chavez not nationalized the Orinoco reserves, believe me, the country would be totally calm and no one would care about RCTV or mobilize students to protest on behalf of the media whorehouse.

When Chavez nationalized [phone company] CANTV and Caracas Electricity, the empire was pretty pissed, but the nationalization of the Orinoco reserves was the final straw. Chavez dared to put a stop to the theft of our energy on the part of the "greengos". That was sufficient motive for the US State Dept. to assassinate or overthrow Chavez.

Translation mine.Link

I think Ivana has nailed it. Freedom of speech be damned; anyone who's seen a sampling of RCTV's "speech" would agree that their trashy programming isn't worth funneling US taxpayer money to dubious "student groups" (many of them headed by suspiciously over-aged "students"!)

And, in fact, free speech was never the issue. No more than free enterprise was the issue when CANTV and Caracas Electricity were nationalized. Both those decisions were "of grave concern" to Washington, but for the people of Venezuela, they were very popular and long overdue. Since CANTV was nationalized, President Chavez has announced that its rates will be cut and its coverage expanded to areas lacking regular phone service. Moreover, there will be more landlines. Venezuela has an inordinate number of cellphones, since the landline service there has been sporadic and unreliable--thank you, Free Enterprise, for another fine fuck-up. (And thank you, Chavecito, for having the cojones to un-fuck it.)

But the major media here are either paid propaganda organs or useful idiots. (The right-wing bloggers are both of the above, and often just plain idiots.) They keep overlooking the fact that RCTV had a rap sheet longer than your arm. Its licence to use the public airwaves was simply expired, and it is not being renewed for various reasons--everything from infractions against anti-porn and anti-violence laws passed before Chavez, to labor abuses including non-payment of its own hard-working talent, to--what was that last one again? Oh yeah, TREASON.

Just ask yourselves, people--if FOX News Channel were broadcasting 24/7 incitements to oust Bush, how long do you think they'd stay on the air? Do you suppose anyone would wait till THEIR licence was up for renewal before deciding to yank it? That channel is putrid and filthy, lousy with labor abuses (Bill Oh-Really, phone-molesting his producer, comes to mind) and rife with lies and lying liars, but how lucky for them that they're firmly attached at the lip to BushCo's collective scrotum. Even their token Democrats are, for the most part, mealy-mouthed go-alongs, the kind of cowards who'd never say shit even if they had a mouthful of it. No chance that they'd ever offend Der Bushler, except accidentally.

And no chance that they'd ever look hard at the truth. Just ask Jane Akre and Steve Wilson; bless their hearts, they tried. FUX shafted them most shamefully, and in the process it was determined that the US news media can lie and the law won't compel them to be truthful.

I bring that all up not as a digression but as a way of backing my truck into the truth. If the US media can legally lie about a major corporation and its unsafe products--in the case of FUX, it was Monsanto and its bovine growth hormone, Posilac--what else are they not legally obligated to be truthful about?

Surely not, oh, say, Hugo Chavez and RCTV, and the real reason for all this hoopla, which is not the silencing of Venezuela's oldest TV station?

Surely not the nationalization of the Orinoco oilfields, and the relegation of all foreign firms pumping oil there to junior-partner status in joint ventures with Venezuela's national oil company, PDVSA?

Surely not the fact that broadcast licences have been yanked in several other countries, all to no foreign fanfare at all, let alone alarm bells in Washington?
And surest of all--the fact that free speech has dick-all to do with this in reality?

If "free speech" means the right to lie with impunity, then yeah, free speech is definitely under threat in Venezuela. But if it means the right to state one's opinion and be heard, and to have a participative say in democracy, then no, FUCK NO, it's NOT under threat in Venezuela at all. Quite the contrary. The station that went up on Channel 2 (RCTV's old roost) is far more democratic and free of speech than RCTV ever was. Its content is generated by a greater spectrum of people. Its purpose is to give voice to the Venezuelan people--to show the country as it really is. This stands in sharp contrast to RCTV, whose only purpose, so far as I could tell, was to stuff the already well-lined pockets of Marcel Granier, and to be his faithful mouthpiece.

And if Granier said something was to be muzzled, like say Chavistas, by God, the gags came out fast. Ask Andres Izarra about that "cero Chavismo en pantalla" policy sometime. Now that he works for another network--the multinational TeleSur, South America's answer to CNN--he is free to talk. Mind you, in order for him to do so, it was first necessary for that evil, wicked media-censoring Chavez to set up a whole new channel, AND get other countries to sign on as co-sponsors. Seems a rather long way to go to assure freedom of speech, but it sure as hell beats getting a bunch of "student leaders" with money from the US State Dept. to whip up a guarimba, doesn't it?

And if you're gonna fling phrases like free speech around, it would behoove you to meditate long and hard on what it means to use it. Starting with a single word that's harder to spit out, mainly because it's harder to swallow: RESPONSIBILITY. Responsibility to use your speech in the service of freedom, not bullshit. Responsibility to tell the truth, the whole truth. You have the right to have your own opinion--which we all do--but you are not entitled to your own facts. Any news outlet that reports only the RCTV side of the story, and not what's really behind it, is fucking with the truth. It is well established that RCTV and its cohorts, Globovision, Venevision and Televen (among others) have been doing that for some time--aided and abetted by the tentacles of the US Senate, the State Dept., the CIA and numerous North American news outlets and supposed human-rights organizations like Reporters Without Borders. Part and parcel of true freedom of speech is holding them accountable for that.

But then again, this is really not about free speech, which is in no danger in Venezuela. It's about the oil, stupid. The only three-letter four-letter word in the vocabulary of the free-speech fascists, it seems.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

¡Rumbo a la Revolución Bolívariana! - PSUV: Democratic Politics of the Future with Participation and Popular Support at Its Heart.

by Paul Haste / May 30th, 2007

President Chavez’s call to unite the Venezuelan left in the Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV) came after his third, crushing, election win on 3 December 2006.

The media in America immediately, and falsely, claimed the President intended to outlaw all political parties, and US newspaper editorials continued their strikingly unoriginal echoing of the Bush administration’s opposition to the Bolívarian revolution, to claim that Venezuela would soon become a single party state.

What Chávez had actually declared was the formation of a new revolutionary party to attempt to unite the Venezuelan left. No rightist or opposition parties would be closed or banned, and even the leftist parties currently forming part of the Bolívarian coalition would be free to choose to unite in the new party or not.

One of Chavez’s intentions was to try to avoid sectarianism and political infighting within the governing coalition, and to avoid implications for clientilism associated with the discredited COPEI and Acción Democrática regimes of the past, when political party bosses dispensed favors to their supporters.

Although Chávez’s own Movimiento Quinta República (MVR) party won 42% in the elections, and organizes the great majority of Bolívarian revolution activists, other militants, union workers and communists were organized in small, splintered political parties that together contributed another 20% to the vote to re-elect Chávez.

At a 15 December 2006 political meeting in Caracas, Chávez recalled that a splintered left coalition allowed the contradictions between diverse political parties in Chile to divide President Salvador Allende’s progressive government, letting the right take advantage and depose him in a military coup.

Chávez, having defeated one US inspired coup through the collective force of Venezuelans taking over the capital, Caracas, believes ‘there is no time to lose’ to unite the various political parties supporting the Bolívarian revolution into a single force.

The president immediately dissolved his own MVR organization into the PSUV after the election, and called on all the other organizations that supported his re-election to call congresses and meetings to put his proposal to a vote among their party members.

Completely contrary to the American media’s unoriginal cartoon image of the Venezuelan revolution, President Chávez made clear that ‘no-one should feel obliged to join the PSUV,’ and in his own characteristic style, Chávez compared the act of joining the new party to the ‘act of love’, telling activists in the other parties comprising the Bolívarian coalition that, ‘if you don’t feel it, it’s better not to do it… it is not obligatory, and we are not going to reject you if you don’t.’

Nine leftist parties have now decided to participate in the PSUV, but the largest organisations in the coalition — the Communist PCV, Patria Para Todos (PPT), and Por La Democracia Social (Movimiento Podemos) — took the decision to remain independent while continuing to support the revolution.

In the case of the Venezuelan Communist Party, which originated in 1931 and endured persecution under the dictators Juan Vicente Gómez in the Thirties and Marcos Pérez Jiménez in the Fifties, the reluctance to unite in the PSUV reflects a long history of independent activism.

The PSV’s popularity has surged under Chavez’s presidency due to its active participation in the Bolívarian revolution, and last year a member of the Central Committee, David Velásquez, became the first Communist to be appointed to a cabinet position.

After a Communist Party congress in March to discuss the president’s invitation to unite in the PSUV voted to remain independent, PCV leader, Oscar Figuera, declared that the party would still continue to be part of the Venezuelan revolution, and will contribute to the PSUV’s ‘construction’, but ‘without dissolving the Communist Party’.

PCV president, Jerónimo Carrera, 84, who was imprisoned three times under Pérez Jiménez’s dictatorship, declared that the party ‘will wait for the moment… it is not possible to dissolve the Communist Party into a new organization that still doesn’t have democratic structures or a program. The Communist Party continues to exist.’

Despite this, the congress resolved to delegate activists to assist in building the PSUV, and the PCV intends to present its opinions to the new party to be considered for incorporation into the PSUV’s policies, in the hope that the new party will have strong Marxist credentials.

However, some communists believe their party is missing an opportunity to strengthen the Bolívarian revolution, and in the face of individual members, including 13 on the Central Committee, joining the PSUV, the PCV has been obliged to declare that ‘double militancy is not permitted’ — effectively expelling these activists.

Similar difficulties have arisen in the Patria Para Todos (PPT) party — heirs to the leftist opposition La Causa R (Radical Cause) party that had opposed the corrupt COPEI and Acción Democrática governments since 1971. The PPT won a 5% vote in December 2006 to contribute to Chavez’s re-election, and its decision not to unite in the PSUV has caused prominent leaders such as union organizer and former Caracas mayor Aristóbulo Istúriz, and former foreign minister Alí Rodríguez Araque, to leave the party.

The third significant party to decide not to unite, Podemos, justified its decision claiming that Chávez intended to use the PSUV to close political space in Venezuela. ‘We don’t participate, and we will never participate in pensamientos únicos (a single line of thinking),’ said the party’s president, Ismael García, ‘because Venezuela is a diverse society.’

President Chávez criticized Podemos for this claim, suggesting that some PSUV critics were ‘raising the flags of the right,’ and forcefully stated that he wanted the revolution to encourage a ‘debate of ideas’ to counter ‘capitalism’s pensamientos únicos.’

Following the president’s criticism, several Podemos congressional deputies and state governors left their party to unite in the PSUV, declaring that Podemos’ 7% share of the December vote was not a sectarian, or separate vote, but a vote for Chávez and the revolution.

The Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, which these dissidents and the remaining nine leftist parties have united to create, ‘should be the most democratic political party in Venezuelan history’, Chávez declared after his re-election, ‘there have been too many leadership appointments from above, including by me, but the PSUV’s leaders will be elected from the base. Choose the people you have faith in — there shouldn’t be the same faces as always — a new party needs new leaders.’

Activists uniting in the PSUV believe the president will be more responsive to decisions and demands made through a single, united democratic party, rather than to those made by individual supporters or activists in various splintered coalition partners, but more than this, Chávez is encouraging Venezuelans to raise their sights and take their political participation further.

‘Make the PSUV a party that doesn’t just fight elections,’ Chávez wrote in a pamphlet distributed to the hundreds of thousands of workers who took to the streets all over Venezuela on International Workers’ Day, ‘make it more a party that can fight the battle of ideas… one for which we should study, read and discuss the way forward.’

It is envisaged that elections will take place in July for the PSUV’s leadership and for delegates to the first party congress, to be held in August or September. The political program and priorities decided at this congress will then have to be ratified in an all-party ballot in November.

Inscriptions to the PSUV are already estimated to have reached more than 1,000,000, while some Bolívarian government officials are anticipating that three million PSUV members will eventually be registered when the first congress is held.

It’s clear that the revolution’s reality is far from the black and white caricature the American press constantly represents. It is also obvious that President Chávez’s united party initiative represents a more democratic and inclusive vision of participatory politics than the United States’ corporate parties, millionaire candidates and exclusive politics of a self-selected elite could ever do.


El discurso de la unidad, Hugo Chávez Frías, Caracas, 15 de Diciembre de 2006

Para la bancada roja la doble militancia es una ‘ambiguedad inaceptable’, Últimas Noticias, Caracas, 11 de Mayo de 2007

Marxismo, Leninismo, Bolívarianismo, Pedro Dumo, Caracas, 1969

Partido Comunista: Somos parte del proceso revoluciónario venezolano y no nos disolvemos, report in Tribuna Popular, Caracas, 8 de Mayo de 2007

Chávez aclara: No rechazamos a los que no quieren afiliarse al PSUV, report in Aporrea, Caracas, 6 de Mayo de 2007

Comunistas venezolanos definen postura ante partido unido, report in Prensa Latina, La Habana, 5 de Marzo de 2007

Rodríguez: PSUV es una necesidad estratégica, Agencia Bolívariana de Noticias report in, Caracas, 12 de Mayo de 2007

Se resisten comunistas venezolanos para integrar partido único, AP report in El Universal, México, 4 de Marzo de 2007

El partido de la Revolución será el más democrático de la historia, Jorge Rodríquez, Agencia Bolívariana de Noticias report, Caracas, 20 de Abril de 2007

‘Patria, socialismo o muerte,’ Valentina Lares Martiz, El Tiempo, Bogotá, 11 de Enero de 2007

¡Uh, ah, Chávez no se va! Reportaje, Semana, Bogotá, 11 de Diciembre de 2006

Más de 1 millón de militantes captó el PSUV, Últimas Noticias report on, Caracas, 15 de Mayo de 2007

Paul Haste is a union organizer from London who is currently living in Bogotá to improve his Spanish. He can be reached at

Revolución Bolivariana vs. RCTV - La pelea del siglo XXI

por Juan Carlos Camaño*

Hace unos meses el presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, dijo, sin temor al que dirán, ni a lo que harán sus enemigos, que el proceso que él lidera se inscribe, decididamente, en la construcción del Socialismo del Siglo XXI. Más claro –según se acostumbra a decir- echarle agua. Eso dijo Chávez, triunfador incuestionablemente democrático en cuanto acto electoral haya sido atravesado por los venezolanos en la última década.

30 de mayo de 2007

Sin embargo, como era de esperar –siempre es de esperar- saltándose la constitución e infinidad de argumentos jurídicos internacionales, los dueños de Radio Caracas de Televisión Venezolana (RCTV), a los que se le acabó el tiempo de “su propiedad” sobre una franja del espacio radioeléctrico, pusieron el grito en el cielo, reclamando seguir siendo dueños del aire. Algo que, cada vez es más escaso y, por cierto, más contaminado, pero así y todo propiedad social, propiedad de todos y de nadie en especial.

En la apertura de las recientes jornadas –convocadas por Telesur- para debatir sobre el derecho que tiene todo ciudadano a informar y estar informado, Chávez –en su discurso de apertura de las jornadas- dijo, de viva voz, que la renovación de la concesión pretendida por los dueños de RCTV solo sería posible si él dejara de ser presidente. En buen romance: “tendrán que pasar por sobre mi cadáver”. Socialismo Siglo XXI o continuidad del Capitalismo Salvaje. Ni más, ni menos.

Sin lugar a dudas, asistimos a un combate que no admite medias tintas. Es a todo o nada. Porque lo que hace al centro de la disputa, tal cual lo saben y lo ejercitan los dueños de RCTV, es el futuro de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela y no el futuro de un canal de televisión. La sociedad será “Socialista”, como alienta Chávez y una importante mayoría del pueblo que lo vota, acompaña y respalda, o la sociedad recreará de lleno el “Capitalismo” voraz y rapaz, gobierno de los ricos, por los ricos y para los ricos. Al cabo, el habitat en el que se movían, como peces en el agua, las ocho familias adueñadas de RCTV, hasta el pasado día 27 de mayo: día en que cayó –como en cualquier lugar del mundo- una concesión que duró más de cincuenta años.

El destino de RCTV incluye, claro que sí, la discusión sobre la propiedad del espacio radioeléctrico y las atribuciones de un estado respecto de cuáles son los límites de uso de la propiedad social y/o privada del aire. Pero sería francamente mezquino pretender que el tenor de la disputa citada obedece a un quitame, o no, de allí un canal de televisión. Tan mezquino como absurdo sería aceptar que los dueños de RCTV se propongan –como lo hacen- y se les crea que lo son, los adalides de la libertad de expresión. Son, porque las evidencias del año 2002 todavía están a la vista, golpistas contra Chávez. Son los golpistas que golpearon, junto a otros empresarios y políticos históricamente dedicados a rifar vilmente la vida de millones de niños, mujeres y hombres de Venezuela, a Chávez y a su gobierno.

Y serán, a no dudarlo, los que jamás dejarán de conspirar a favor de sus privilegios junto a sus socios internacionales, hoy preocupadísimos porque “la libertad de expresión” de los dueños del dinero ha sufrido un revés a manos del “atrevimiento” popular. Y, también a no dudarlo, seguirán adelante con su ideología -pretendiendo disimularla en el apoliticismo del “profesionalismo objetivo”- para que caiga Chávez, quien tanto dolor de cabeza les trae a ellos y a sus mandantes: las cúpulas del Pentágono y del petróleo, en EE.UU.

A no olvidarse que la llegada de Chávez al gobierno de Venezuela abortó, entre otras supuestas pequeñeces, de similar porte, que la fuente de recursos más importante del país –el petróleo- le fuera concedida definitivamente a empresas estadounidenses, piloteadas por hombres de negocios pertenecientes, algunos de ellos, a la tristemente famosa CIA. O sea, la feroz central de inteligencia norteamericana que, además de alentar y participar de golpes de estado en la región, y el mundo entero, sigue su macabra tarea de espionaje y torturas en pequeños y sofisticados campos de concentración desparramados en distintos puntos de la globalización neoliberal: especialmente en Europa.

Por eso –y a falta de políticos que puedan derrotar a Chávez democraticamente- los dueños de RCTV se encaraman en la cresta de la ola antichavista sumando al interior de Venezuela toda la adhesión que pueden mediante el dinero y la defensa, efectista y ramplona, de programaciones populares; y por fuera, en la arena internacional, sumando lo que les permita el largo brazo de su ideología sistémica y el para nada desdeñable brazo armado del Pentágono y la mismísima Casa Blanca.

Entonces, de un lado del cuadrilatero la aparatología mediática de la globalización neoliberal, de las transnacionales informativas-comunicacionales, y sus apoyaturas logísticas, con significativo poder de fuego, conscientes de que su pupilo –RCTV- debe salir airoso: si no es hoy, mañana. Por él, por un pupilo alzado por las calles de Caracas, se hacen flamear banderas de “libertad de expresión”, un abstracto esgrimido como paradigma de derecho universal, aunque lo gocen no muchos más que los amos del dinero.

Y en el otro rincón, la mayoría del pueblo de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela y su presidente. Ambos, pueblo y gobierno, con la decisión de caminar el camino del Socialismo del Siglo XXI hartos del desplante, las mentiras y las violaciones de aquellos que se erigen –en defensa de sus privilegios- en el poder de facto y en protectores de libertades que no son más que cárceles de la conciencia de las mayorías y alimento de la alienación consumista.

Juan Carlos Camaño
Periodista. Presidente de la Federación Latinoamericana de Periodistas (FELAP)

Paramilitares se enfrentan a la Sedena por Nancy Flores

Bastión del grupo armado antizapatista Paz y Justicia, la comunidad de El Limar (Chiapas) se enfrenta ahora judicialmente al Ejército: los pobladores exigen la restitución de las tierras donde se asienta un campamento de la Sedena; mientras esta última acusa a los ejidatarios de “atentar contra su honor”, amenaza con promover un juicio por difamación y acelera la expropiación ilegal del terreno.

30 DE MAYO DE 2007

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. En lo que podría constituir un rompimiento entre el Ejército Mexicano y un sector simpatizante del grupo paramilitar Paz y Justicia, ejidatarios de El Limar, municipio de Tila, exigen judicialmente a la Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional (Sedena) la restitución de más de ocho hectáreas.

En el terreno en litigio se asienta la base de operaciones El Limar, adscrita a la compañía de infantería no encuadrada de la 39 zona militar, desde donde se suelen explotar granadas en forma “accidental”, incluso en el perímetro de la población, señalan los habitantes.

En el expediente del juicio 1144/2006, radicado en el Tribunal Unitario Agrario con sede en Tuxtla Gutiérrez, también se da cuenta de otros excesos de la tropa, como la realización de disparos al aire durante las madrugadas y el acoso sexual en contra de las mujeres, particularmente menores de edad, a quienes los soldados intentan prostituir.

Además, las autoridades ejidales de El Limar acusan que en la comunidad se acrecientan las infecciones venéreas por culpa de los efectivos del Ejército. Y también los denuncian por causar daños a la moral y exhibicionismo: “al estar ebrios, hacen sus necesidades fisiológicas sin pudor ni recato alguno a la vista de la población”.

De acuerdo con información de los residentes, de 1996 –año en que se instaló el cuartel– a la fecha se tiene un registro de 32 niños hijos de soldados. Ante estos señalamientos, la Sedena dice ser objeto de “ofensa, mediante la difamación, o sea, el descrédito ante terceros”.

Sin iniciar investigación alguna, y a pesar de que El Limar no es el único sitio en el país donde se hacen públicos los abusos de los soldados en contra de la población civil (recurrentes en zonas militarizadas, donde incluso se han registrado violaciones sexuales y muertes), la Defensa Nacional deslinda a sus efectivos.

En la contestación a la demanda agraria también advierte que los hechos expuestos generan “la animadversión y la pérdida de confiabilidad hacia la institución, al publicar o decir cosas mal intencionadas en contra de su buena opinión y fama como garante de la seguridad, tanto interior como exterior, de la nación”.

La Defensa Nacional -en voz del general brigadier de justicia militar y licenciado, en su carácter de ministerio público militar, Ramón Tovar Caballero- no omite descalificar la versión de los pobladores: “al prejuzgar dolosa e infundadamente la conducta del personal militar destacamentado en el inmueble al que se hace referencia, sin sustentarlo con ningún medio de prueba, se atenta contra el honor de dicha secretaría de Estado”.

Según la Sedena, la comunidad de El Limar pretende causarle “descrédito y deshonra, exponiendo a la opinión pública el desprecio”. Por lo que solicita a las autoridades que, en caso de no acreditar las “graves imputaciones”, inicie averiguación previa en contra de las autoridades ejidales y su representante legal Fernando García Martínez.

José Francisco Gallardo, general brigadier del Ejército y candidato a doctor en Administración Pública por la UNAM, explica que las comunidades indígenas de Chiapas están asentadas en los yacimientos de petróleo, de uranio, en zonas con biodiversidad muy rica y grandes depósitos de agua. Por ello, indica, el objetivo del gobierno federal es expulsarlos.

Para conseguir este fin, expone Gallardo, “el gobierno utiliza la técnica de guerra de baja intensidad, que incluye la provocación de desplazamientos de las comunidades: esto se logra hostigándolos, haciendo disparos al aire, prostituyendo a las mujeres, cooptando el sistema de comercio local, envenenando o ensuciando los ojos de agua”.

El general dice que en el fondo de estas acciones se encuentra el Plan Puebla Panamá, anunciado por Vicente Fox y retomado por el presidente Felipe Calderón. “Lo único que obstaculiza a este plan son las comunidades indígenas, sobre todo las zapatistas”.

El litigio

Desde el inicio de la contrainsurgencia, a El Limar se le conoció como bastión de Paz y Justicia, grupo armado que ha mantenido una estrecha relación con la Sedena, según lo documentado en 2005 por el Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (CDHFBC).

Sin embargo, tras el litigio agrario y el acercamiento de las autoridades ejidales con dicho centro de procuración de los derechos humanos, el vínculo entre adherentes de Paz y Justicia y militares parece estar, cuando menos, fracturado.

Michael Chamberlin, subdirector del Centro Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, explica que en la década de 1990 El Limar, fue un lugar donde Paz y Justicia obtenía armas y recursos. “Hoy, los priístas y no priístas, los paramilitares y no paramilitares, están pidiendo la salida del Ejército”.

De acuerdo con el expediente, del cual se posee copia, la comunidad exige “se condene a la Sedena a la desocupación y entrega a favor del núcleo agrario que representamos, la restitución del solar 1 manzana 35, con una superficie total de 8.62 hectáreas que actualmente ocupa el cuartel militar en la localidad de El Limar, municipio de Tila, Chiapas”.

Sin fijar aún el monto, las autoridades ejidales también solicitan el pago de una indemnización por los posibles daños causados, así como la cancelación de cualquier convenio que haya facultado al Ejército la posesión del terreno.

Con este último punto, los “limeros” pretenden invalidar el acta de acuerdo –fechada el 22 de julio de 1996 y signada por Carmelino Gómez López y Roberto Díaz Ramírez, entonces comisariado ejidal y consejo de vigilancia, respectivamente– que establece la donación de las 8.62 hectáreas para la instalación del cuartel militar.

Aunque dicho documento fue ratificado el 28 de julio de ese mismo año por la asamblea general, los ejidatarios no sólo se desisten de la concesión sino que denuncian haber sido presionados por sus líderes de Paz y Justicia.

A inicios de marzo pasado, el ex comisariado ejidal, Carmelino Gómez, testificó ante el Tribunal Unitario Agrario que sí firmó las actas de donación, pero aclaró que fue bajo la amenaza de muerte hecha por Diego Vázquez Pérez, líder del grupo armado antizapatista, quien se encuentra preso en el penal El Amate.

Expropiar la tierra

Con el conflicto judicial, la Secretaría de la Defensa ha acelerado el proceso de expropiación, que de por sí ya había solicitado, advierte Michael Chamberlin. De acuerdo con el oficio 18601, dirigido a la entonces secretaria de la Reforma Agraria, María Teresa Herrera Tello, el 15 de febrero de 2001 la Sedena pide que sea expropiado el terreno.

Como utilidad pública, la solicitud 12566/Sedena alude: “las actividades castrenses e instalaciones que se pretenden edificar tienen por objeto establecer la infraestructura necesaria que permita al instituto armado cumplir cabalmente con sus misiones constitucionales y legales, así como las órdenes del presidente de la República”.

Hasta la fecha, dicha petición se encuentra suspendida “porque el expediente no ha sido debidamente integrado, toda vez que hace falta el certificado parcelario de las tierras ejidales solicitadas en expropiación, mismo que obra en poder del Comisariado Ejidal”, indica el oficio 00001048, emitido por la representación especial de la Secretaría de la Reforma Agraria en Chiapas.

De aprobarse esta expropiación, el Ejército pagará al ejido El Limar tan sólo 158 mil 950 pesos por las 8.6 hectáreas, según el dictamen 06-06-108 secuencial G-38822, del Instituto de Administración de Avalúos de Bienes Nacionales.

José Francisco Gallardo refiere que las expropiaciones hechas a favor de la Defensa Nacional carecen de legalidad, pues el interés público al que apelan es la construcción de un cuartel. Además, reconoce que antes de obtener este beneficio, el Ejército se posesiona de terrenos que no son de su propiedad y que ello responde a la misma guerra de baja intensidad.

El Centro de Análisis Político e Investigaciones Sociales y Económicas tiene documentados 71 campamentos militares permanentes en el territorio indígena de Chiapas. “Sólo en territorio indígena”, destaca Ernesto Ledesma.

El investigador añade que en la actuación de los militares “hay impunidad total”. “Basta revisar qué oficial ha sido castigado en Chiapas. Ninguno. Hasta hoy, el caso de los militares que violaron a las tres mujeres en Morelia se mantiene en total impunidad”.

La defensa

La amenaza del Ejército en su contra, sobre un posible proceso judicial por haber “difamado” a la Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, motivó que a inicios de marzo pasado las autoridades ejidales de El Limar solicitaran asesoría al Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas.

De acuerdo con Rubén Moreno, adscrito al área de atención inmediata del CDHFBC y quien da seguimiento a este caso, el centro prepara la estrategia jurídica para la defensa de los ejidatarios.

El defensor adelanta que con los testimonios reunidos se está demostrando que hubo presión, y que las autoridades fueron amenazas para firmar el acta de donación. Por ello considera que hay suficientes elementos para determinar que el Ejército se posesionó de las ocho hectáreas en forma “dolosa, amañada y de mala fe”.

Rubén Moreno dice que, con las pruebas integradas hasta ahora, el Tribunal Unitario Agrario tiene elementos para darle la razón a los ejidatarios. “Los testimonios de la comunidad y de las ex autoridades deben ser un punto fundamental en la resolución del problema, para que el Ejército restituya las tierras”.

Previo a la promoción del juicio, los habitantes denunciaron estas acciones -que el general Gallardo identifica como estrategias de la guerra de baja intensidad- al entonces presidente de México, Vicente Fox. El 23 de mayo de 2003 y el 6 de junio de 2004 solicitaron al mandatario panista que conminara a la Sedena a retirar voluntariamente a su personal destacado en la zona. El 9 de enero de 2005 notificaron al ex gobernador Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía la decisión de expulsar a los militares de sus tierras.

Los oficios girados a las autoridades federal y estatal jamás fueron respondidos y mucho menos resueltos; por lo que, el 8 de septiembre de 2006, el presidente del Comisariado Ejidal, Vicente Hernández López, el secretario Ignacio Jiménez Pérez, el tesorero Mario López Martínez y el presidente del Consejo de Vigilancia, Visael Martínez Pérez, interpusieron la demanda en contra del Ejército.

Michael Chamberlin señala que “frente a esta invasión, a este poder y a esta impunidad que significa el Ejército hay muy pocos recursos de defensa para la gente, que tiene que vivir en una situación de militarización. Se sigue viviendo con temor, las mujeres no pueden salir solas a determinadas horas, hay detenciones de personas, toman recursos del ejido como pozos de agua o leña. Sí hay una afectación: en Chiapas no hay libertad de tránsito, de plena garantía de derechos. Es una situación de excepción que no va a terminar hasta que salga el Ejército”.

Casos como el de la fallecida anciana indígena Ernestina Ascencio Rosario, presuntamente violada por soldados en la sierra de Zongolica, Veracruz, revelan claramente que va a haber un marco de total impunidad. Si ya la tenía el Ejército, ahora va a ser plena y absoluta, porque la legitimidad de Felipe Calderón depende de las fuerzas Armadas, dice Ernesto Ledesma.

Publicado: Abril 2a quincena de 2007 | Año 5 | No. 77


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bush's New Middle East

By Mike Whitney

" ... under the sky
without hope
the self inside me dies ...

I will always be from nowhere
Without a face, without a history
from nowhere."

"Traveler without Luggage" by Abdul-Wahab Al-Bayyati

05/29/07 "ICH" --- - It's hard to know what Bush hopes to accomplish by backing the bloody siege of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, but one thing is certain; things are never as they seem. In an interview on Democracy Now last week, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh stated that, Fatah al-Islam---the group of Sunni extremists inside the camp--were getting material support from the Saudis, the Bush administration and members of the Lebanese political establishment.

So, the Bush administration is supporting terrorism?

That's right. Sy Hersh put it like this:

"The idea was to provide them (Fatah al-Islam) with some arms and some money and some basic equipment so -- these are small units, a couple hundred people. There were three or four around the country given the same help covertly, the goal being they would be potential enemies of Hezbollah in case of warfare".

But if Fatah-al-Islam is an American-Saudi creation than why is the Bush administration shipping weapons to Lebanon to help kill them? Is this is another example of "blowback"---the unintended consequences of a misguided foreign policy?

Yes and no.

While it is true that the US uses terrorist organizations to further its policy objectives (The US supported Bin Laden in Afghanistan, the KLA in Kosovo, the Mujahedin Klaq in Iran) the situation in Lebanon is a bit more complex.

Fatah al-Islam is comprised of Sunni radicals who were recruited from the other Gulf States to counterbalance Hezbollah. Now, it appears, they have outlived their usefulness and the Lebanese warlords have decided to eliminate them.

According to independent journalist Franklin Lamb, who is reporting from the battered Bedawi refugee camp, the charges against the group are purely fabricated. "There was no bank robbery" and "no heads were cut off". The allegations in the western press were merely a pretext for restarting the fighting. The siege of Nahr al-Bared is probably just Phase 2 of Israel's 34 Day War--- a conflict in which "Israel's air force, armed with U.S.-manufactured and -fueled F-16s, went on a rampage with more than 14 combat missions every single hour of the war, destroying, among other things, 73 bridges, 400 miles of roads, 25 gas stations, 900 commercial structures, two hospitals, 350 schools and 15,000 Lebanese homes." (Dahr Jamail)

The US-Israeli goals in Lebanon have never really changed. Israel wants a reliable client to its North and access to Lebanon's water supplies. They also want to crush their main enemy, Hezbollah, the Shiite resistance organization which has routed the IDF twice in the last 15 years.

Bush, on the other hand, is trying to destabilize the entire region using the madcap neocon strategy of "creative destruction". He thinks that if he can erase the traditional borders and create a fragmented Middle East, the transnational corporations will be able to control the region's vast resources.

Washington's allies in Beirut like the idea, too. Walid Jumblat, Sa'ad Hariri and Prime Minister Fuad Siniora"all believe that the outbreak of violence will only strengthen them politically.

Siniora "The Lionhearted"

It's interesting to watch how eager Siniora is to bomb of a defenseless refugee camp, when just months ago he was too afraid to deploy troops to the south of Lebanon to fight the invading Israeli army. Why is that?

Siniora showed his true colors during the 34 Day War. At one point he was photographed sipping tea with Condi Rice while Lebanese civilians in the south were being pelted with American-made bombs dropped from American-made F-16s. The Prime Minister has proved that he is every bit as worthy of Washington's praise as Karzai in Afghanistan or Abbas in Palestine.

But there's another reason for the present siege of Nahr al-Bared besides Siniora's newfound courage, that is, NATO wants to clear the area for another military airbase.

According to the Lebanese newspaper Al-Diyar:

"NATO has decided to join the Lebanese territories to North-African & African coast military region, to establish Military airbases". ... .

"American-German-Turkish military delegation toured and surveyed Akkar region, reported to the NATO headquarter in Brussels, mentioning that the military bases will contribute to the development and the economic recovery in the region, advising the government to focus on the financial aspect and positive reflection on the population of the region, giving the bases a name "Lebanese Army and Security training centre".

So, it looks like northern Lebanon has been chosen as the site for further NATO expansion in the Middle East. That means that NATO-planners must have agreed on a credible justification for evacuating the people who presently occupy the land. That's where Fatah al Islam comes in. The hobgoblin of terrorism always provides the perfect excuse for state sanctioned violence---in this case the group is being used to conceal a massive ethnic cleansing operation.

Iraqi poet and blogger Layla Anwar made these comments about the situation in Iraq, but they can be easily applied to Nahr al-Bared as well. She says:

"If you want to reconstruct a country, you need to eliminate its people and start anew right?

Like restoring the virginity to the land so you can build better and stronger fortresses. A brand new Iraq with a brand new population. A total Babel makeover.

You know, like the ones you see on these American TV reality shows. Revamped, relooked, redone...beyond recognition".

(Layla Anwar, "Aliens in Babel" An Arab Woman's Blues)

Anwar is right. The siege of Nahr al-Bared is an attempt "to eliminate people and start anew" by pushing 30 or 40 thousand Palestinians out of their homes and onto the streets so their foreign overlords can "build a stronger fortress".

It is a tragedy and the Bush administration has only added to the crime by providing arms and equipment to the Lebanese Army.

According to the U.K. Guardian:

"The United States has sent planeloads of arms and ammunition for the Lebanese army, as tension grows around the besieged refugee camp in the north of the country. The weapons were welcomed by members of the Lebanese government, who said they wanted the army equipped "to the teeth" in the face of threats of renewed violence."

The siege of Nahr al-Bared follows a familiar pattern that we have seen in Gaza, Falluja, Tel Afar and Samarra. The camp has been surrounded and cut off, snipers have been positioned on the rooftops, civilian areas have been shelled with impunity, and the bodies of the dead have been left to rot on the streets.

Sound familiar? It should. These are the basic contours of the Bush Doctrine as it is applied to the (remaining) independent states in the Middle East. The options for the victims are always the same: One can either pack up and find shelter in another filthy refugee-hovel or stay home and die. There's no other choice.

It's easy to see why the number of refugees in the region has swollen to more than 4 million people in just a few years. Most of them are the victims of US aggression in Iraq, but the trend is now spreading to Lebanon. Is this what Condi Rice meant when she announced the "birth pangs" of a "New Middle East"---a humanitarian crisis extending from the Mediterranean to the Caucuses?

Many people are wondering why the United Nations has remained silent while Bush ships more weapons to the frontlines and the Lebanese Army continues to pound away at the most densely populated area in the Middle East. Is it because the UN has become a rubber stamp for US-Israeli colonial ambitions in the region?

Face it; the UN's role is to feign concern for human rights while the US and its allies pursue their imperial goals. It's only gotten worse under the newly-appointed Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon. Moon has shown that he's incapable of being evenhanded and that he's little more than an American stooge. With less than a year in office, his credibility is already shot.

The only bright spot in this latest American-made catastrophe is the courage demonstrated by the victims. As Franklin Lamb says in his latest article "Inside Nahr el-Bared: Another Waco in the making":

"Amazing examples of humanity are happening here. There are many family connections between the two camps. Kids distribute and water bread when it arrives in cars from Beirut and elsewhere. Young girls picking up and caring for babies of people they don't know, helping old people find a place to sit and listen to them when they tell of what happened. I could be wrong but I have rarely witnessed the solidarity among people as I see here with the Palestinians. Clean, smart, patient, charming, funny, and caring toward one another-determined to return to Palestine."

Even though they've lost their homes, the Palestinians have raised themselves above the squalor and cruelty of their predicament and shown selflessness and bravery. That's a powerful statement about the affects of culture and national identity.

As the Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish says in his poem "Passport":

"My nationality resides in the hearts of all the people,
so go ahead and remove my passport!"

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at:


A few days ago, while analyzing the expenses involved in the construction of three submarines of the Astute series, I said that with this money "75,000 doctors could be trained to look after 150 million people, assuming that the cost of training a doctor would be one-third of what it costs in the United States." Now, along the lines of the same calculations, I wonder: how many doctors could be graduated with the one hundred billion dollars that Bush gets his hands on in just one year to keep on sowing grief in Iraqi and American homes. Answer: 999,990 doctors who could look after 2 billion people who today do not receive any medical care.

More than 600,000 people have lost their lives in Iraq and more than 2 million have been forced to emigrate since the American invasion began.

In the United States, around 50 million people do not have medical insurance. The blind market laws govern how this vital service is provided, and prices make it inaccessible for many, even in the developed countries. Medical services feed into the Gross Domestic Product of the United States, but they do not generate conscience for those providing them nor peace of mind for those who receive them.

The countries with less development and more diseases have the least number of medical doctors: one for every 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 or more people. When new sexually transmitted diseases appear such as AIDS, which in merely 20 years has killed millions of persons – while tens of millions are afflicted, among them many mothers and children, although palliative measures now exist – the price of medications per patient could add up to 5,000, 10,000 or up to 15,000 dollars each year. These are fantasy figures for the great majority of Third World countries where the few public hospitals are overflowing with the ill who die piled up like animals under the scourge of a sudden epidemic.

To reflect on these realities could help us to better understand the tragedy. It is not a matter of commercial advertising that costs so much money and technology. Add up the starvation afflicting hundreds of millions of human beings; add to that the idea of transforming food into fuels; look for a symbol and the answer will be George W. Bush.

When he was recently asked by an important personality about his Cuba policy, his answer was this: "I am a hard-line President and I am just waiting for Castro’s demise." The wishes of such a powerful gentleman are no privilege. I am not the first nor will I be the last that Bush has ordered to be killed; nor one of those people who he intends to go on killing individually or en masse.

"Ideas cannot be killed", Sarría emphatically said. Sarría was the black lieutenant, a patrol leader in Batista’s army who arrested us, after the attempt to seize the Moncada Garrison, while three of us slept in a small mountain hut, exhausted by the effort of breaking through the siege. The soldiers, fuelled by hatred and adrenalin, were aiming their weapons at me even before they had identified who I was. "Ideas cannot be killed", the black lieutenant kept on repeating, practically automatically and in a hushed voice.

I dedicate those excellent words to you, Mr. W. Bush.

Fidel Castro Ruz

May 28, 2007


Venezuela, RCTV, And Media Freedom: Just The Facts, Please

By: James Jordan

Lessons In Curtailing Media Freedom

There are a number of ways to curtail press freedom. You can charge a journalist with murder and put him on death row-Mumia Abu-Jamal, for instance. You can grant special favors, privileges, and access to corporate media giants while raiding and shutting down low-power, independent radio stations, which the FCC does with some regularity. You could arrest independent journalists at anti-war demonstrations-again, a regular occurrence. For instance, I recall my friend and Indy journalist, Jeff Imig, who has been repeatedly threatened with arrest, while recording anti-war demonstrations in Tucson, Arizona, for violating the statute against filming federal buildings. Jeff finally got arrested-for jaywalking! Corporate press, on the other hand, seems to have free reign to jaywalk and film federal buildings at these same events-behavior I and countless others have witnessed!

And then there is the Mother of All Media Manipulations: the blackout engineered by the Bush administration which blocks media from showing the arrival of body bags and coffins of newly dead soldiers "coming home" from Iraq.

Those are some pretty good ways of curtailing freedom of speech. And they're each and everyone home grown right here in the good ol' United States of America.

So what's the deal with Venezuela, anyway?

So, pardon me if I'm just a little astounded by all this noise in the media, the Bush administration, the Senate and the House, about how Venezuela is "attacking" free speech and independent media by not renewing the broadcasting license of RCTV. Perhaps even more disturbing is that this ridiculous assertion is being repeated even among some persons on the Left.

Just last week the Senate passed a condemnation of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' refusal to renew the license. Senate Resolution 211 was sponsored by Richard Lugar, (R-IN) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT), with vocal, and disappointing, support from presidential contenders Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barak Obama (D-IL). Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL) has introduced similar legislation into the House. Puerto Rico's delegate to the House, Republican Luis Fortuno has outspokenly supported this legislation, which is surprising, considering his complete lack of action or outcry when the FBI was harassing Puerto Rican journalists in 2006.

Anyway, who says bipartisanship is dead?

Joining in these condemnations are a whole host of so-called "press freedom" advocates, lead by the National Endowment for Democracy funded Reporters Without Borders. One would think that the iron hand has fallen and the crackdown has begun in Venezuela.

The facts, please?

Corporate media seems to regularly forget that along with freedom of press is the responsibility of presenting facts to back up their news reporting. Well, dear reader, you are in for a rare treat-a discussion of some actual facts.

The general situation is this: In April of 2002, there was a two-day, illegal coup carried out against Venezuela's electoral government, which involved the kidnapping and jailing of President Hugo Chavez. There were four major media outlets, along with others, who actively aided and abetted this coup (more later). In the intervening five years, none of them were closed, nor were any of their journalists incarcerated. Rather, the Chavez administration met with them, not to change their editorial slant, but to reach agreements preventing a repeat of such anti-democratic measure and the hyperbolic misrepresentation of facts, and also to discourage such continued infractions as the airing of pornography and cigarette commercials.

Another important fact is that the heads of the media-monopoly in Venezuela, including Marcel Granier -owner of RCTV, also participated in the economic sabotage that occurred between 2002-2003. Yet, no one went to prison for endangering the country's social and economic stability.

What is truly amazing is that it has taken five years for the Chavez administration to take action in any way against media that helped carry out this coup. Certainly, if the same thing happened in the United States, it wouldn't be tolerated. Just ask Aaron Burr or Timothy McVeigh what happens when folks plot against the existing, elected government. The fact don't get away with it, you get punished, and pretty severely. Getting their broadcasting licenses renewed would be the least of their problems.

When RCTV's broadcasting license came up for review, Pres. Chavez decided, after exhaustive research and study, not to renew the license. Chavez is legally responsible for renewing such licenses under laws which were enacted before he became president. The reasons given for not renewing the license cite RCTV's participation in the coup, plus the fact that RCTV leads Venezuelan media in infractions of communications laws. RCTV's problems pre-date the Chavez administration, having been censured and closed repeatedly in previous presidential administrations. RCTV leads Venezuela in its violation of communications codes, with 652 infractions.

Another interesting fact is that our corporate media and distinguished Members of Congress have neglected to mention that on April of 2007 the government of Peru did not renew the broadcasting licenses of two TV stations and three radio stations for breaking their Radio and Television laws. It is obvious that Venezuela continues to be a target.

What, then, are the facts behind the charges made by the Chavez administration?

On the morning of April 11th, 2002, the first day of the coup, the anti-Bolivarian opposition had started a march from the headquarters of the state owned oil company. Across town, supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution were gathered outside the presidential palace. Breaking with its previously announced plan, the opposition changed directions and headed to the presidential palace, greatly increasing the chances of a violent confrontation between the two opposing sides.

During the midst of this confusion, shots rang out from the rooftops, where snipers were firing on both crowds, resulting in the deaths of 18 persons, with 150 wounded. Reports on the opposition's four largest TV stations indicated the violence was the result of pro-Bolivarian gunmen, and this became the immediate catalyst "justifying" the coup.

However, the testimony of eyewitnesses and videos taken from other angles show that a much different scenario was actually taking place. The following transcript is excerpted from the video documentary, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, which was produced for television in Ireland. It sheds important light on the sequence of events. Note particularly the quotation included from RCTV News Correspondent, Andre Cesara.

NARRATOR: The opposition march was fast approaching and some in the vanguard seemed ready for a fight. With thousands of Chavez supporters still surrounding the palace a confrontation seemed imminent. Then at about 2:00 p.m., we saw the opposition march arrive. The army tried to act as a buffer between the two groups. [shouting]

NARRATOR: We moved back into the heart of the Chavez crowds when all of a sudden the firing started. [sirens]

NARRATOR: We couldn't tell where the shots were coming from, but people were being hit in the head. [gunshots]

NARRATOR: Soon it became clear that we were being shot at by snipers. One in four Venezuelans carry hand guns and soon some of the Chavez supporters began to shoot back in the direction the sniper fire seemed to be coming from.

WITNESS (in Spanish): One of the channels had a camera opposite the palace that captured images of people shooting from the bridge. It looks like they are shooting at the opposition march below, but you can see them, they themselves are ducking. They are clearly being shot at, but the shots of them ducking were never shown. The Chavez supporters were blamed. The images were manipulated and shown over and over again to say that Chavez supporters had assassinated innocent marchers.

ANDRE CESARA, RCTV journalist (in Spanish): Look at that Chavez supporter. Look at him empty his gun. That Chavez supporter has just fired on the unarmed peaceful protesters below.

NARRATOR: What the TV stations didn't broadcast was this camera angle which clearly shows the streets below were empty. The opposition march had never taken that route. With this manipulation, the deaths could now be blamed on Chavez.

There is no doubt, and no dispute, that RCTV and the three other largest corporate television stations (Globovision, Venevision, and Televen) aided and abetted the ensuing coup throughout the three day period it was being carried out. They knowingly broadcast false and manipulated information, including the lies that Bolivarian supporters instigated violence against demonstrators, and that Pres. Chavez, as a result, had willingly resigned and left the country. Pres. Chavez had not resigned. He had been kidnapped and was being held prisoner by traitors within the Venezuelan military.

During all this, RCTV hosted coup plotters, including co-leader Carlos Ortega of the corrupt and US government supported labor union, the CTV, and had broadcast Ortega's appeal rallying demonstrators to march on the presidential palace.

RCTV and its partners undertook a complete blackout on reporting any news relating to the more than a million citizens who had taken to the street and surrounded the presidential palace in defense of the democratically elected government of Venezuela. Rather than broadcasting this news, RCTV treated its viewers to reruns of Tom and Jerry cartoons and the movie Pretty Woman. Vice-Admiral Ramirez Perez spoke for all his fellow coup plotters when told a Venevision reporter, "We had a deadly weapon: the media. And now that I have the opportunity, let me congratulate you." His congratulations were premature, however, as multitudes of people in the street, with the aid of truly independent, community based media and patriots within the Venezuelan military were able to defeat this coup without firing a shot, returning Pres. Chavez to his rightful office on April 13, 2002.

On the Job at RCTV-Eyewitness, Andres Izarra Speaks

If any doubts remain as to RCTV's complicity in this coup, the voice of one of its own producers should lay them all to rest. Andres Izarra had worked as the assignment editor in charge of Latin America for CNN before being hired by RCTV as news production manager for Venezuela's highest ranked newscast, El Observador. Izarra says, quite clearly, "We were told no pro-Chavez material was to be screened". Later, RCTV officials would maintain that they could not film pro-Bolivarian demonstrations for security reasons. Even if that were true, Izarra notes, footage of these demonstrations was available from sources such as CNN. RCTV also continued broadcasting reports that President Chavez had willfully resigned and left the country, even though Izarra notes that they were receiving news to the contrary, and that Mexico, Argentina, and France had all issued statements condemning the coup and refusing to recognize the new government. Conversely, the United States welcomed this illegal government.

Izarra says the last straw came for him when, "We had a reporter in Miraflores and knew that it had been retaken by the Chavistas.[but] the information blackout stood. That's when it was enough for me, and I decided to leave". Asked what he thought the response should be to this level of disinformation, Izarra replied, "I think their licenses should be revoked". Having had enough of corporate media's complicity in blocking news reportage, Izarra now serves as head of Telesur, the joint news channel broadcast by the nations of Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, and Cuba.

As Patrick McElwee, of Just Foreign Policy, points out: "It is frankly amazing that this company has been allowed to broadcast for 5 years after the coup, and that the Chavez government waited until its license expired to end its use of the public airwaves." Despite their participation in the coup, the Chavez administration entered into repeated negotiations with RCTV and its partners, Venevision, Globovision, and Television to make sure that such crass manipulation of the news would not occur again, and about other infractions. RCTV refused to reach any agreements.

Despite the nonrenewal of its broadcasting license, cable and satellite broadcasts will still be available to RCTV; moreover they will continue to broadcast through their two radio stations in Venezuela. The new broadcasting license is being given to a public station, TVes-Venezuela Social Television, which will run shows produced mainly by independent parties. The station will be controlled not by the government, but by a foundation of community members, with one chair reserved for a government representative. TVes also hopes to reach into some of the most remote areas of the nation, not covered before by RCTV.

The coup government and media freedom-an alternative?

There is, indeed, an example that shows a real alternative to how Pres. Chavez and the Bolivarian movement deals with freedom of the media and freedom of speech. The two-day coup government of Pedro Carmona revealed that alternative.

But, first, let's quickly review the general state of media freedom in Venezuela under the presidency of Hugo Chavez. Shortly after Chavez became president, media law was reformed so that it became legal for anyone who could broadcast to do so. In the United States, many fans of underground and independent radio speak fondly of "pirate" radio-low powered, but illegal stations broadcast from small, "renegade" transmitters. There are no "pirate" radio stations in Venezuela, because such stations are legal. Rather, there is a significant Community Media movement-community based and non-profit media production centers run locally by community volunteers.

Corporate and opposition media also have great freedom in Venezuela. In fact, the radio and television airwaves, and the print media as well, continue to be dominated by corporations which support the opposition. There is no shortage of negative opinions and portrayals of Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution-in fact, these remain the standard among the for-profit news and entertainment industry. This concept is strange to those of us in the United States, where official party lines and major news sources are virtually indistinguishable from each other.

But while corporate and community media both retain enormous freedoms in Venezuela, the April 11-13th, 2002 coup, and the two day coup government, provide a much different example. Once interloper Pedro Carmona had declared himself President of Venezuela, among the very first actions taken by the coup government involved the suppression of Venezuela's non-corporate media. Police troops answering to Carmona raided and shut down Channel 8, the government TV station. They ordered the Catholic Church's Radio Fe y Alegria to play only music and not report national events, lest they also be shut down. Carmona's raiders also hit a number of Community Media centers, closing down, among others, TV Caricua, Catia TV, and Radio Perola. Fortunately, reporters from Catia TV and Radio Perola were able to escape and recapture their transmitters. Because of this, they were able to provide mobile broadcasts to the people of Venezuela of the news that RCTV and its partners were blacking out.

Another action taken by the Carmona government was to release the persons who had been arrested in connection with the sniper attacks that instigated the coup. Instead, coup forces arrested independent journalist Nicolas Rivera and accused him of participating in these attacks. The only weapon Rivera had had with him during these demonstrations was a tape recorder-obviously considered a threat by coup plotters. Rivera was freed after the two-day coup was defeated and democratic government was reestablished. However, the scars of his detention remained, with his face disfigured by the torture he had endured while incarcerated. Rivera's wife said that the forces that raided their home planted a sack of bullets on Rivera, beat both of them, and threatened to kill their children. Yet despite these attacks and threats to this journalist and his family, not one, single international organization in "defense" of press freedoms spoke out on behalf of Rivera. Perhaps it was in this case that Reporters Without Borders found its border.

Also silent about these attacks on freedom of speech and press were both houses of the US Congress, both parties, the Bush, there was no resolution of any kind condemning the attacks by the coup government on these freedoms. Could that be because coup leaders were funded by Congress, via USAID and the so-called National Endowment for Democracy, and were aided, abetted, and advised by the Bush Administration, the State Department, and the US military? Just maybe these factors were an influence.

Again: the Facts

While Representatives and Senators weep bipartisan crocodile tears about supposed threats to media rights in Venezuela; while US and Venezuelan corporate press crow about the "unfair" targeting of RCTV; while even some segments of the US Left express "concern" about press freedoms in Venezuela; an examination of the facts leads one to this clear conclusion: these folks are full of a substance that emanates from the hind end of a male bovine.

Fact: not renewing the broadcasting license of coup plotters, lawbreakers, and liars like RCTV is the kind of thing it takes to defend Venezuela and make it the haven of free speech, free media, and participatory democracy that it is today.

Want to learn more about the movement to change US policy toward Venezuela?
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“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

Bolívar to Take Asunción

by Paul Haste / May 29th, 2007

In 2008, Paraguay could replace the Colorado red of its past with a different shade of red: a revolutionary or Bolívarian red.

Former Catholic priest, Fernando Lugo Méndez, is almost certain to be the presidential candidate of a rising leftist opposition to the perpetual rule of Paraguay’s Colorado Party in the 2008 elections.

A May opinion poll in the Asunción newspaper Última Hora indicated that 40.8% of Paraguayans intended to vote for Lugo, against just 9% for the probable ruling party candidate supported by the current president, Nicanor Duarte.

Should Lugo be elected, Paraguay will become the latest Latin American nation to spurn the United States and reject the divisive neoliberal policies that have only further enriched an exclusive elite at the expense of the indigenous and workers.

That Paraguay, controlled since 1946 by the Colorado (or ‘Red’) Party — including the 34 year extreme right wing military dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner — should even contemplate joining Venezuela and Bolivia and most of Latin America in electing a progressive leftist as president, demonstrates just how far politics have changed on this continent.

Not since an attempted revolution against the fascist dictator Morínigo in March 1947, has Paraguay experienced such a concerted and united challenge for political control from the left. Since the rightist Colorado party’s victory in the civil war of that year, political repression, authoritarianism and single party rule had denied space to workers, their unions, and indigenous Guaraní, leftist and communist activists to organize or oppose the government.

Even after Stroessner was deposed in a military coup in February 1989, the Colorado Party has continued to rule Paraguay through patronage and corruption — utilizing their advantage of decades of elitist control of the country to manipulate successive presidential elections — with disastrous results.

The General who overthrew Stroessner, Andrés Ródriquez Pedotti, who had amassed a large fortune during the dictatorship, was accused of profiting from heroin trafficking and ultimately denied a US visa even though he was president. His successor, Juan Carlos Wasmosy, appointed Stroessner’s supporters to government positions and on leaving office was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 4 years’ imprisonment.

The next Colorado administration saw the Marzo Paraguayo events in March 1999, when then president, Raúl Cubas, tried to pardon General Lino Oviedo who had been imprisoned for attempting a military coup in 1996. Cubas’ own vice-president, Luís María Argaña, instituted impeachment proceedings against Cubas, but was assassinated in the capital, Asunción, sparking riots and demonstrations which Cubas attempted to suppress by putting tanks on the streets.

After eight protesters were killed by the military, representatives in Congress voted to dismiss Cubas from the presidency, but before the Senate could ratify the impeachment, Cubas resigned and fled to Brazil. Despite the resignation of the president and the assassination of the vice-president, the Colorado Party continued to hold onto power through the accession of Luís Ángel González, the president of the legislature — which the party controlled — to the presidency of the republic.

However, González did nothing to improve the Colorado Party’s miserable record — even using a stolen armored BMW as his official car while illegally transferring millions of dollars from the Central Bank to accounts in the US. As soon as he lost his legal immunity upon leaving office, he was charged with fraud and embezzlement, convicted, and sentenced last year to 8 years in prison.

The latest Colorado president, Nicanor Duarte, elected in 2003 with 38% of the vote, has so far taken a less excessive approach to governing, and has attempted to pursue a centrist political line in the face of Latin America’s shift to the left, but the institutionalized privileges and patronage of the longest continual ruling party in the world continue to pressure the president to appease the right.

This reluctance, or inability, to change policies favorable to Paraguay’s elite, while all Latin America continues to elect and reelect progressive presidents who reject US priorities, has encouraged the country’s left to take the offensive and start to disprove Paraguayan sociologist Bernardino Caño’s assertion that the country has a ‘cultural fear of change’.

In 2006, a 50,000 strong demonstration took over Asunción to protest Colorado Party rule, and unionized workers, and leftist and indigenous organizations began to unite behind a Catholic bishop from one of Paraguay’s poorest areas, Lugo Méndez, who was speaking out forcefully against poverty and inequality.

Praising Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s Bolívarian revolution for favoring the poor, Lugo, the ‘Bishop of the Poor’, as he is now popularly known, continually challenged Paraguay’s traditional elite, questioning why ‘there are so many differences between the 500 families who live with a first world standard of living while the great majority live in a poverty that borders on misery.’

Last December, Lugo renounced his ministry to participate in politics, not just to defeat the Colorado Party, but to ‘be more ambitious… to change the country.’ A forceful orator both in Spanish and Guaraní, the indigenous language that most Paraguayans speak, he declared that ‘united in our diversity… we will not allow our dreams to be frustrated.’

The response from Paraguay’s Catholic hierarchy was swift. ‘Monsignor Lugo is in a state of contempt, exposing himself to the punishment of excommunication,’ said the president of Paraguay’s Episcopal Conference, Monsignor Ignacio Gogorza, ‘Lugo does not have the permission of the Vatican to go into politics, so he is leaving Catholicism for poor choices… he cannot leave the cloth simply by resigning. His life devoted to religion is for one’s entire life.’

On February 1, the Vatican denied Lugo’s request to be laicized. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re wrote that Lugo must ‘remain in the clerical state,’ claiming that a bishop as a presidential candidate would be ‘a cause of confusion and division amongst the faithful and an offense to the laity.’

This indirect support for the Colorado Party from the Vatican has been further fueled by Lugo’s adherence to liberation theology — the ‘preferential option for the poor’ tendency within Catholicism that emphasizes a commitment to those less privileged — and which the official Church considers radical or revolutionary.

Although the Vatican’s rejection of Lugo’s resignation does not have legal force under Paraguay’s secular constitution, the closeness of the conservative Church hierarchy with the Colorado Party, and the Party’s control of the Supreme Court, Congress and Electoral Tribunal, could mean that Lugo’s presidential candidacy may be ruled invalid.

Lugo is undeterred, however, and returned to the streets in March with a 20,000 strong demonstration against the Supreme Court, whose justices are all members of the Colorado Party, calling on them to resign because of corruption and their partisan support for President Duarte.

Justice in Paraguay is ‘fast and cheap for the wealthy or those who have friends in power,’ Lugo told the demonstrators, ‘but new times are coming… a change can come in the short term… but we have to be aware to guarantee that the forces of chaos do not sabotage the awakening.’

The former priest continues to attract the almost unconditional support of many of the estimated 50% of Paraguayans who still live in poverty, and who have seen no gains from the failed neoliberal policies that the ruling party imported from the United States, but there are signs that support from the organized left in Paraguay is more qualified.

Communist Party activists have cautioned that workers ‘have to see what Lugo does, more than what he says,’ while the Popular Socialist Convergence Party points out that Lugo has considered an alliance with the traditional, and conservative, opposition coalition, Concertación Nacional, although no agreement has so far been formalized.

However, it is undeniable that most Paraguayans have expectations that the politics that Lugo says have ‘favored narrow, partisan interests over those of the nation’ will be defeated in 2008. United with organized workers and indigenous activists, the massive popular support behind Lugo’s challenge to the elite and their Colorado Party could finally end the control this privileged minority has had over Paraguay for the last 60 years.


Ex obispo en carrera a la presidencia, Gustavo Torres, Noticias Aliadas, Lima, 3 de Mayo de 2007

Paraguay’s ruling party faces threat of a populist bishop, Larry Rohter, New York Times, United States, 27 February 2007

La falta de justicia, Fernando Lugo Méndez, ABC Digital, Asunción, 12 de Abril de 2007

Obispo de los pobres candidato de Tekojoja, Ernesto Herrera, Tekojoja, Asunción, 23 de Diciembre de 2006

Duarte: Queremos cambiar la historia, interview, BBC Mundo, Asunción, 15 de Agosto de 2003

US military in Paraguay threatens region, Project Uncensored report, United States, 18 September 2006

Stroessner, Paraguay’s enduring dictator, dies, D J Schemo, New York Times, United States, 16 August 2006

Paraguay’s peculiar politics, Teo Ballvé, North American Congress on Latin America report in Upside Down World, United States, 12 April 2007

El ex obispo Lugo acepta unirse a la coalición opositora en Paraguay, EFE report in El País, Madrid, 2 de Marzo de 2007

El cura candidate, AFP report in Semana, Bogotá, 19 de Febrero de 2007

Paul Haste is a union organizer from London who is currently living in Bogotá to improve his Spanish. He can be reached at Read other articles by Paul.