Best and funniest headline all week, in my opinion. What happens when millions of everyday people use Carnival for vacations at the beach instead of either joining the opposition on the streets, or marching in support of the democratically elected government? Well, as for the MSM, the headlines announce: ‘thousands march despite holiday!’ (yes, even Raw Story).
Ewan Robertson has more from Mérida, including one protester saying ‘We want the street to remain active; if the protests are peaceful then people get tired.” Hmmm… and:
‘Also today, right-wing legislator Maria Corina Machado and Metropolitan Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, led a march to the Venezuela office of the Organisation of American States (OAS). Describing the situation in Venezuela as “the assassination of a democracy”, they demanded that the OAS debate events in Venezuela and support the opposition with a “firm reaction”.
“If the OAS turns its back on Venezuela in these hours it won’t just be betraying Venezuela, it will be burying the OAS,” argued Machado, who participated in the short-lived 2002 coup against former president Hugo Chavez.’
TRNN’s early coverage of the protests trying to force out Maduro (or stage a second coup against Chavismo) were framed in MSM-Imperium-speak, but they’ve apparently recalibrated. Kudos to them.
And yes, it seems that not only Leopoldo Lopez’s friends boycotted the peace talks that began Feb. 27, but so did Henrique Capriles and MUD. Right-wing Capriles had been attempting to recast himself as ‘the moderate’, vacillating between renouncing violence and attempting to find common ground with the government. And when Capriles is ‘the moderate’, look out for Lopez and friends.
Lopez, friend of the CIA and part of the insurrection that kidnapped and jailed Hugo Chavez for several days in 2002, is also good friends with Álvaro Uribe, former President of Colombia, alleged to have close ties to the Medellin Cartel. It was cohorts of Uribes’ who the Maduro government had charged had been looting warehouses of basic foods and necessities, and either dumping them or taking them to Colombia.
While proof of that would be hard to discover, it does jibe with the documents leaked to attorney Eva Gollinger concerning ways to ‘destabilize Venezuela and undermine the Mauro government.
“The suggested aims in the plan are especially geared towards the municipal elections on December 8,” writes the document. In the elections the Venezuelan population will choose 335 mayors, 2,435 municipal councilors, 69 local indigenous representatives, 2 mayors and 20 district councils.
The strategies to be employed include: “creating crisis on the streets, facilitating the intervention of North America and NATO forces with the Colombian army,” power cuts, food shortages, support and financing of the political opposition.”
Oopsie; Chavismo candidates won most elections handily, of course.
No doubt you’ll remember that Snowden’s SIGINT documents published at the NYT showed that VZ had been accorded a special status by the spooks:
‘The NSA’s objective with Venezuela in 2007 as an “enduring target” was to enable US “policymakers in [sic] preventing Venezuela from achieving its regional leadership objective and pursuing policies that negatively impact US global interests”. The NSA focused on providing “US decision makers with a holistic SIGINT perspective of regional trends and developments, assessing and/or predicting strategic direction, plans, intentions and capabilities that impact US interests”.
The NSA was, in general, focused on Venezuela’s regional power and “[Hugo] Chavez’s progress in his initiatives to pursue regional power objectives in the political, economic, energy, and ideological arenas”. The NSA that year also decided to focus on assessing Venezuela’s “regime stability, particularly in the energy sector” and the “depth and breadth” of its relations with Iran, Cuba, China, and Russia.
The other countries it decided were “enduring targets” were China, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, and Russia.”
Because Bolivarism is sincerely dangerous to the Oligarchs, and must be crushed before it can take deeper root among the people. And: because oil.
In ‘Venezuela is not Ukraine’, Mark Weisbrot, frequent writer at the Guardian on VZ, debunks a number of the MSM hysterical claims against the current governments under Chavismo, including:
‘The New York Times had to run a correction last week for an article that began with a statement about “The only television station that regularly broadcast voices critical of the government …” As it turns out,all of the private TV stations “regularly broadcast voices critical of the government”. And private media has more than 90% of the TV-viewing audience in Venezuela. A study by the Carter Center of the presidential election campaign period last April showed a 57 to 34% advantage in TV coverage for President Maduro over challenger Henrique Capriles in the April election, but that advantage is greatly reduced or eliminated when audience shares are taken into account.’
Weisbrot chastises the government on some things that require criticism, as well, but this information is quite counter to the conventional reporting:
‘Opposition leaders currently aim to topple the democratically elected government – their stated goal – by portraying it as a repressive dictatorship that is cracking down on peaceful protest. This is a standard “regime change” strategy, which often includes violent demonstrations in order to provoke state violence.
The latest official numbers have eight confirmed deaths of opposition protesters, but no evidence that these were a result of efforts by the government to crush dissent. At least two pro-government people have also been killed, and two people on motorcycles were killed (one beheaded) by wires allegedly set up by protesters. Eleven of the 55 people currently detained for alleged crimes during protests are security officers.’
He also shines a light on class divisions at Counterpunch, and writes about what he saw when he went to VZ in 2002:
‘It was December of 2002, and I was struck by the images on U.S. television of what was reported as a “general strike,” with shops closed and streets empty. So I went there to see for myself, and it was one of the most Orwellian experiences of my life.
Only in the richer neighborhoods, in eastern Caracas, was there evidence of a strike, by business owners (not workers). In the western and poorer parts of the city, everything was normal and people were doing their Christmas shopping – images unseen in the U.S. media. I wrote an article about it for the Washington Post, and received hundreds of emails from right-wing Venezuelans horrified that the Post had printed a factual and analytical account that breathed air outside of their bubble. They didn’t have to worry about it happening again’.
You may be familiar with how much media attention #SOS Venezuela has gotten; the many photos would be quite alarming, if you didn’t know who was behind the movement propaganda and funding, including USAID, NED, and OTI and any other NGOs in whose interest it is to stamp out socialism in the global south. Oh, and how cleverly images have been doctored to look like something they are not. Dr. Dawg?
Last but not least, when I read Ewan Roberton’s piece: ‘Venezuela Marks 25 Years Since “Caracazo” Uprising Against Neoliberalism’, and watched the video, the history brought tears to my eyes. I had not known any of it, and had been quite slow to realize that I had reflexively bought into the conventional wisdom about Chavez in my abject ignorance.
‘On 27 February 1989 protests, riots and looting broke out in Caracas and other cities across Venezuela. Half of the population lived in poverty at the time, and some who lived in extreme poverty resorted to dog food or spaghetti water to fill their stomachs.
The spark that set off the protests was the announcement of an IMF “structural adjustment package” by the government of Carlos Andres Perez, which had recently assumed office. Transport, fuel, and utilities prices were all to increase, while price caps on some basic goods were to be lifted.
This was part of a plan which would also privatise utility companies, remove import tariffs, lift exchange controls, liberate interest rates, and attempt to reduce the fiscal deficit.
To control the uprising, Carlos Andres Perez declared a state of emergency and sent the army onto the streets to quell the riots. In the massacre that followed, estimates of those killed range from 300 to 3,000.
Many consider that the political and social impact of the uprising and repression led to the downfall of the reigning two-party system and the election of Hugo Chavez as Venezuelan president in 1998.
Looking back, looking forward
“The people who were massacred 25 years ago are the revolutionary people that today are constructing Bolivarian socialism, that is being consolidated this century,” wrote President Nicolas Maduro on Twitter yesterday. “The people broke their bindings and said “enough of neoliberalism”. They were massacred but not defeated, and there began this revolution of the 21st century,” he continued.
“The rebellion was the push that was needed so that a revolution like the Bolivarian one came along…to get to where we are now, many fought, many had to go out that 27 February and say an overwhelming ‘no’ to neoliberal impositions and ‘no’ to inequality,” he said to AVN.
Below is a video of images from the Caracazo in remembrance of the events 25 years ago:
(cross-posted at My.firedoglake.com)