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    Default Re: Turmoil in Venezuela

    Voltaire Network
    6 September 2019


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    In August 2018, the international press reported on a massive exodus of Venezuelans fleeing the famine and chavist dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro. There were 18,000 to cross the border each day. At the time, the UN predicted that there would be 5.3 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees throughout Latin America by the end of 2019. There was a major crisis.

    Alas! These figures were pure propaganda: the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees has just published its official statistics as at December 31, 2018.
    • 57% of the world’s refugees came from Syria (6.7 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million) and South Sudan (2.3 million).
    • Venezuelan refugees represented only 341,800 people (many of whom have since returned to their country).
    The campaign of media disinformation, relayed in all the allied states of the Pentagon, was initiated in preparation for the destabilization operation targeting the Venezuelan State that began in December 2018. It was intended to convince the nationals that they no longer had a future at home and the people abroad that President Maduro was illegitimate.

    This is a clear application of the theory of "migrations as weapons of war" [1].

    Translation Roger Lagassé

    References:

    [1] “Strategic Engineered Migration as a Weapon of War”, Kelly M. Greenhill, Civil War Journal, Volume 10, Issue 1, July 2008.

    "Understanding the Coercive Power of Mass Migrations,” in Weapons of Mass Migration : Forced Displacement, Coercion and Foreign Policy, Kelly M. Greenhill, Ithaca, 2010.

    “Migration as a Coercive Weapon : New Evidence from the Middle East”, in Coercion : The Power to Hurt in International Politics, Kelly M. Greenhill, Oxford University Press, 2018.
    Last edited by Hervé; 6th September 2019 at 16:02.
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Venezuela

    Trump Regime Training Paramilitaries to Attack Venezuela?

    By Stephen Lendman Global Research,
    September 06, 2019


    Washington wants Bolivarian Venezuela transformed into a US vassal state — to eliminate its social democracy and gain control over its vast oil reserves, the world’s largest.
    On Wednesday, the Trump regime earmarked over $120 million for Colombia.

    Masquerading as “humanitarian assistance” for Venezuelans in the country, what’s planned may be something similar to US Central American paramilitary wars in the 1980s.

    Edward Herman once explained that if US imperial aims go unchallenged, its ruling authorities will “continue to escalate violence (against targeted nations) to preserve military mafia/oligarch control” — state terrorism on a global scale.

    If the Trump regime intends waging a cross-border paramilitary war on Venezuela, the toll could be horrendous.

    In the 1980s, over 50,000 were slaughtered in El Salvador, more than 100,000 in Guatemala, over 200,000 in the country earlier and since the 1990s, thousands more in Nicaragua.

    Mass slaughter was compounded by torture, rapes, mutilations, disappearances, and assassinations — on the phony pretext of combating communism.

    Today US Latin America regime change tactics are directed against Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela’s social democracy, a notion its hardline ruling authorities abhor and want eliminated everywhere.

    On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said
    “alleged Venezuelan refugees (are) receiving training (in Colombia) to provoke violent acts in Venezuela,” adding:

    Many were “transferred to a British military base in Guyana, but the truth is that these are people who came to receive training and integrate sabotage and spy groups.”
    Guyana and Venezuela share a common border. US and UK troops are in the neighboring country on the phony pretext of aiding its government.

    According to US Air Force General Andrew Croft,
    “Guyana is going to become a larger player in this region, both economically and politically in the future, so it’s important that we are closely tied with them,” adding:

    “What we leave is an enduring, physical presence in addition to the partnerships that we build.”

    “Guyana sits in a strategic location on the north edge of South America and on the Caribbean.”

    “That’s what makes it important. Also, as political change happens in the nation and they become more aligned with us, it’s important for us to make those personal relationships not only through the embassy, but also through the military and the Guyana defense force, which is currently about 3,000 strong with the intent to nearly double it in the upcoming years.”
    US and UK troops in Guyana are involved in Trump regime efforts to replace Venezuelan social democracy with US-controlled fascist puppet rule.

    Zakharova stressed that US forces in nations bordering Venezuela are all about “caus(ing) destabiliz(ing) and violent acts” cross-border.

    On Wednesday, Venezuelan President Maduro said the US is plotting a new conspiracy against the Bolivarian Republic from neighboring Colombia, adding:
    “Yesterday, I declared the orange alert level for all branches of the Armed Forces…to protect the sovereignty and peace of Venezuela.”

    “And the military forces are already being deployed (to the Colombian border). Now, we are going to deploy our rocket air defense system from 10 September to 28 September.”
    Days earlier, Maduro said large-scale military drills will be held near Venezuela’s border with Colombia to protect against hostile cross-border actions.

    In late August, the Trump regime established a so-called Venezuela Affairs Unit (VAU) in Bogota, Colombia.

    Its mission is all about aiming to oust legitimate Venezuelan President Maduro, wanting hardline/anti-democratic US-controlled puppet rule replacing him.

    Several cross-border attacks were foiled, including an attempt to detonate an explosive at the Justice Palace in Caracas.

    On Thursday, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez accused Trump regime-designated puppet/usurper in waiting Guaido of transferring Venezuelan bonds to the US and other nations, adding:
    “The Venezuelan people know who Juan Guaido is. He does not (represent) a political project. (He’s a front man for) a criminal group.”
    In July, Venezuela’s Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez said two Guaido security guards were seized, trying to sell stolen National Guard weapons ahead of the failed April 30 coup attempt.

    The above offenses and many others beg the question. Why hasn’t Venezuela held Guaido accountable for his lawless actions — notably sedition and treason against the state?

    *

    The original source of this article is Global Research
    Copyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2019
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Venezuela

    Venezuela prosecutors probe opposition leader Juan Guaido for ‘high treason’

    RT
    Published time: 6 Sep, 2019 16:36
    Edited time: 6 Sep, 2019 17:06
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    © Reuters / CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS

    A criminal investigation has been launched into Venezeulan opposition leader Juan Guaido and several key advisers after the government led by President Nicolas Maduro accused them of acts of treason.

    Venezuelan Prosecutor general Tarek Saab announced the move on Friday. Guaido was allegedly involved in negotiating away Venezuela’s “historical claim” to the territory of Esequibo, which is formally under the administration of Guyana.

    On Thursday, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez offered evidence in the form of phone records in which adviser Manuel Avendaño allegedly discussed with Venezuelan- American diplomat Vanessa Neumann relinquishing claims to the Esequibo region.

    “The criminal organization headed by Juan Guaidó had initiated concrete actions to illegally appropriate Venezuela's assets, financial resources, Venezuelan gold, Venezuelan debt, to enrich themselves and to serve transnational interests,” Rodriguez said.

    A vestige of South America’s colonial history, the dispute over Esequibo is long in the making, dating back centuries to squabbling between the Spanish, Dutch, and eventually British Empires. In the 20th century Venezuela and Guyana have been trying to settle the matter through UN. More recently, however, conflict over the territory has been tied to natural resources, eyed by companies like ExxonMobile.

    Last year, a standoff broke out between the Venezuelan Navy and vessels of the energy firm searching for oil in the region with Guyana’s permission, forcing the surveyors to turn back.
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Venezuela

    Mastercard Blocks Two Venezuelan Banks

    A Chinese contractor has also suspended work on an oil expansion project.

    By Ricardo Vaz and Lucas Koerner Global Research, September 08, 2019

    Venezuelanalysis.com
    6 September 2019



    US-based financial services company Mastercard has cut service to two Venezuelan banks sanctioned by the Donald Trump administration.

    Effective this past Wednesday, clients of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces Bank (BANFANB) and the Agricultural Bank of Venezuela have been cut off from Mastercard’s international payment platform.

    The move comes just weeks after a US executive order freezing Venezuelan government assets in the United States and prohibiting all dealings with the Venezuelan state and its associated entities. The decree authorizes Mastercard, Visa, and other financial service firms to continue activities in Venezuela until March 22, 2020. Mastercard has yet to issue a public statement regarding its unilateral decision.

    For its part, BANFANB issued a statement Wednesday accusing Mastercard of committing a “flagrant violation of our clients’ human rights.”

    The state bank further announced that as of Wednesday evening it had succeeded in reconnecting its credit cards to 60 percent of the Venezuelan banking system.

    The Agricultural Bank of Venezuela has yet to issue a public statement.

    Earlier this year, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) likewise sanctioned Venezuela’s Central Bank and three other state banks.

    In response to Mastercard’s pull-out, Venezuela’s National Superintendence of Banks held meetings Wednesday with banking and financial service representatives to discuss progress in building an independent financial infrastructure. Several payment platforms are under development, including the Suiche Nacional and the C2P, while a biometric payment system is currently in a trial period.

    Mastercard’s decision came on the heels of a Chinese oil contractor halting expansion work in Sinovensa, a joint venture between Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and its Chinese counterpart, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). China Huanqiu Contracting and Engineering Corporation, an affiliate of the CNPC, reportedly notified Sinovensa it was suspending work from September 3, citing US $52 million in unpaid invoices.

    Sinovensa had recently announced plans to expand a crude blending facility by 57 percent, to a total output of 165,000 barrels per day (bpd). The joint venture is located in Venezuela’s Orinoco Oil Belt. At the time of writing there has been no official confirmation from PDVSA or the CNPC.

    Venezuela’s oil industry has seen output decline sharply in recent months as a result of corruption, brain drain, a lack of maintenance and mismanagement, and especially US sanctions.

    An oil embargo imposed in late January blocked all imports of Venezuelan oil by US refineries, leading output to fall by over a third in February and March. The embargo was expanded in August to all sectors of the Venezuelan economy, with the US Treasury also threatening secondary sanctions against foreign companies that trade with Caracas.

    The latest measures have resulted in the CNPC cancelling three oil shipments in August, reportedly worth around 5 million barrels. A joint venture involving US oil giant Chevron is likewise in danger, with a sanctions waiver due to expire in October.

    The fallout from the latest sanctions coincided with a report from the opposition-controlled National Assembly that monthly inflation was 65.2 percent in August.

    According to the legislative body’s finance commission, inflation crept back above the 50 percent hyperinflation threshold for the first time since February. The country had previously suffered 16 consecutive months of hyperinflation. The Venezuelan Central Bank released figures in May after a three-year hiatus, likewise dating the end of hyperinflation in March, but no further statistics have been released since.

    August’s price rises came alongside an over 100 percent devaluation of the bolivar, both in the black market and the official exchange rate. The Venezuelan Central Bank lifted foreign exchange controls in May, allowing banks to set up “exchange tables,” but the measure has not deterred the continued devaluation of the official currency.

    The liberalization of exchange controls, alongside a constriction of the quantity of bolivars in circulation, have been credited for the slowdown of inflation in the first half of 2019. However, some economists have warned that the measures have led to a contraction of demand, resulting in longer-term stagnation.

    *

    Ricardo Vaz reporting from Lisbon and Lucas Koerner from Venezuela.

    The original source of this article is Venezuelanalysis.com
    Copyright © Ricardo Vaz and Lucas Koerner, Venezuelanalysis.com, 2019
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Venezuela

    Major Venezuelan oil company registers office in Moscow, facilitates oil trade with China, India

    RT
    Thu, 12 Sep 2019 00:25 UTC


    Cutouts depicting images of oil operations are seen outside a building of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA in Caracas, Venezuela. © Reuters / Carlos Garcia Rawlins

    Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, has registered its office in Moscow. The move comes after Russian state oil major Rosneft last month became the main trader of Venezuelan crude.

    "We've registered PDVSA in the Russian jurisdiction," Venezuela's minister for oil Manuel Quevedo told reporters on Wednesday. In July, Quevedo stated that Russia had asked PDVSA to register its own legal entity in the country to help ensure the work of the Moscow representative office of the company.

    The PDVSA office was opened in Moscow in March, on the instruction of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. It replaces the company's Portuguese branch.

    According to the SPARK system, on August 6 PDVSA Rusia LLC was officially registered in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities (USRLE). Its owners are Venezuelan PDV EURO-ASIA SA (98%) and its Cuban subsidiary PDVSA Cuba (2%). PDVSA Rusia's main activity in Russia is registered as business and management consulting.

    PDVSA's registry in Moscow comes after Rosneft became the main trader of Venezuelan crude in August, facilitating shipping of the country's oil to China and India. It took some 40% of PDVSA's exports in July and over 66% in August, according to the firm's export programs and the Refinitiv Eikon data. This came as an attempt to help Venezuela, where oil accounts for more than 95 percent of export revenue, to ease losses due to US sanctions.

    Washington imposed its first batch of sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry in January, in an attempt to oust President Nicolas Maduro, whose re-election in late 2018 was viewed by the United States and some Western governments as illegitimate. Instead, they recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country's rightful head of state.

    Both Russia and China, Venezuela's second largest oil buyer, have called the US sanctions against the Latin American country unilateral and illegal.

    In August, Washington imposed a new set of sanctions on Venezuela, with warnings that it would take measures against any company which is "materially assisting" Maduro's government. The US administration also froze all Venezuelan government assets in the United States.

    Due to sanctions, overall exports of crude and refined products by PDVSA and its joint ventures declined last month to some 770,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 992,565 bpd in July and 1.13 million bpd in June, according to Reuters data.
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Venezuela

    Leaked photos of US-puppet Guaidó with Colombian narcoparamilitaries emerge

    Paul Antonopoulos Fort Russ News
    Fri, 13 Sep 2019 00:00 UTC


    Venezuelan opponent Juan Guaidó took pictures with Colombian narcoparamilitary leaders while reportedly receiving help from them to cross his country's border with Colombia in February.

    The photos were made public by the accusation of Wilfredo Cañizares, activist and leader of the Colombian Non-Governmental Human Rights Organization Foundation for Progress in the North of Santander (FPNS). According to Cañizares, the mysterious passage of Guaidó from Venezuela to Colombia was made with the help of Colombian criminals.

    On the occasion, Juan Guaidó went to the neighboring country to attend an event called Venezuela Aid Live, whose purpose was supposedly to bring humanitarian aid to Venezuela from Colombian territory in February this year, but revealed just to be a big financial scam. Guaidó had been banned by the Venezuelan courts from crossing the border.

    In the photos posted on Wilfredo's Twitter, you can see Guaidó with Albeiro wolf Quintero, known as Brother, and John Jairo Durán, known as El Menor, both leaders of the Los Rastrojos criminal organization. The photos were taken on February 22, the day before Guaidó attended the event that took place in Cucuta, Colombia.

    Quote
    WILFREDO CAÑIZARES @wilcan91

    Lo dijimos desde el primer día: la entrada a Colombia el 23 de febrero del sr @jguaido fue coordinada con los Rastrojos. Aquí están alias el brother armado, y el segundo al mando de este grupo paramilitar, alias el menor.


    1:14 PM - Sep 12, 2019
    "We said it from day one: the entrance to Colombia on February 23 of Mr @jguaido. It was coordinated with the Stubble. Here are the armed brother, and the second in command of this paramilitary group, aka the youngest," Wilfredo said on Twitter.
    From day one we said that Juan Juan Guaidó took pictures with Colombian narcoparamilitary leaders's entry on February 23 in Colombia was coordinated with Los Rastrojos. Here are Brother Armed and the second in command of the paramilitary group, El Menor.

    Criminal organization

    According to Alberto Ravell, spokesman for Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan deputy and opponent did not know who were the people who helped him cross the border.

    Los Rastrojos is a criminal organization that profits from drug trafficking and the illegal gold trade in Colombia, reported the Semana Web site.


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    Default Re: Turmoil in Venezuela

    Driving to Colombia? New photos show Juan Guaido in car with ‘drug cartel gangster’

    RT
    Published time: 20 Sep, 2019 08:37
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    FILE PHOTO. Juan Guaido during a news conference in Cucuta, Colombia February 23, 2019. ©REUTERS / Luisa Gonzalez

    A Venezuelan official has published photos that he says are further proof of ties between the country’s self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido and a drug cartel member, who allegedly helped him sneak into Colombia.

    In January, Guaido declared himself the rightful head of state in Venezuela and has since made several failed attempts to actually seize power in the Latin American nation, with Washington backing the effort. During one of them in February, he traveled to neighboring Colombia to attend a concert and lead a column of trucks containing US-provided ‘humanitarian aid,’ which was ultimately stopped by Venezuelan border guards.

    Last week, a Colombian NGO published photos showing the would-be president and two other people, who were identified as members of Los Rastrojos, a paramilitary criminal organization operating on the border between Venezuela and Colombia. It was alleged that Guaido had crossed the border with the help of the gangsters.

    On Thursday, more photos apparently confirming the theory were published in Venezuela. One shows a smiling Guaido hugging a bulky man identified as Jonathan Orlando Zambrano Garcia, aka ‘Patron Pobre,’ a Los Rastrojos mid-tier commander. He was driving Guaido, who could be seen sticking out of an open door of the car.

    Quote
    William Castillo B @planwac

    #NuevasImágenes. Ya lo de las "incómodas" fotos de Guaidó con los paracos y narcos parecen imágenes de la Convención Anual de Los Rastrojos Corporation. No faltó ni uno de los jefes para anotarse en la fiesta de selfies con el mimado de Iván Duque.

    6:33 PM - Sep 19, 2019
    Guaido’s clothes in the photos are the same that he wore during his trip to Colombia in February. The images were first revealed by ‘Con el Mazo Dando,’ a TV program hosted by Diosdado Cabello, an influential Venezuelan MP.
    Cabello also reported that Los Rastrojos had tried to kill a man known as ‘El Menor,’ one of the two cartel members shown alongside Guaido in photos that emerged last week. He said that assassins had failed to find him and instead killed his parents and two other family members in what he called an obvious attempt to cover up the scandal.

    After the initial allegation emerged, Guaido denied that he had received any help from Los Rastrojos and said the two members were among hundreds of people with whom he posed for selfies after crossing the border. Colombian authorities, who support Guaido’s claim in Venezuela, confirmed that the two individuals were members of the organization, but said that the opposition leader was not accompanied by any criminal during his visit to the country.

    The ties between the man in the new pictures and Los Rastrojos, however, are less clear. According to Colombian newspaper El Espectador, Colombian border guards don’t believe him to be part of the criminal organization.

    Los Rastrojos are one of several paramilitary groups operating in the border area. They are involved in various crimes including illegal mining, racketeering, trafficking of drugs and gasoline, kidnappings and assassinations.
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Venezuela

    National Unity in Syria and Venezuela

    by Thierry Meyssan Voltaire Network |

    Damascus (Syria) | 24 September 2019

    As we alone announced at the beginning of the month, a decisive step towards peace was made simultaneously in Syria and Venezuela on September 16th. The two nations no longer force themselves to negotiate with terrorists, but their governments have undertaken to build a new regime in conjunction with their patriotic opposition.

    Presidents Bashar al-Assad and Nicolás Maduro.

    The future of Syria and Venezuela are being played out simultaneously and in parallel. This is normal, because the origin of these conflicts is not local, it is the strategy of the Pentagon of destruction of the state structures, first in the "Enlarged Middle East", then in the "Basin of the Caribbean" "(Rumsfeld / Cebrowski doctrine [1]).

    The situation and capabilities of the two states are very different, but their resistance to global imperialism is identical. Hugo Chávez (president from 1999 to 2013) was the voice of the peoples of the periphery in the face of the ambitions of transnational corporations. Disappointed by the Non-Aligned Movement through which, at the end of the Cold War, some members became vassals of the United States, Chavez had thought with President Bashar al-Assad to refound the Movement of free allies on a new basis [2]. To those who wondered about the time needed to carry out this ambitious task, the Venezuelan President responded by anticipating that his Syrian counterpart would take his place on the international scene. He also added, in the five-year plan from 2007-2013 that he authored, instructions to all the administrations of his country to support this distant political ally: Syria [3].

    The war raged for eighteen years in the wider Middle East and for eight years in Syria. Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are already destroyed. Yemen is hungry. Regarding Syria, a government in exile has been recognized by the United States and a handful of its allies. All the country’s assets in the West have been seized. An alternative government replaced the constitutional government with the Arab League. And the regional vassals of the Pentagon have placed themselves under NATO’s orders.

    The premises of the war are already well advanced in the Caribbean Basin, particularly in Nicaragua and Cuba. Regarding Venezuela, a self-appointed president has been recognized by the United States and a handful of its allies. All Venezuelan assets in the West have been seized. An alternative government replaced the constitutional government with the Organization of American States (OAS). And the regional vassals of the Pentagon have reactivated the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Tiar).

    The war is ending in Syria because the Russian military presence makes it impossible to send new troops against the country; whether they are regular US soldiers, mercenaries officially engaged by the Pentagon, or jihadists unofficially engaged by NATO allies. But the victory of the Syrian Arab army against tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries does not mean peace.

    Peace is possible in Syria as in Venezuela only on the condition that society, fractured by the war on the one hand or by war preparations on the other, be repaired. In Syria, this involves the drafting and adoption of a new constitution, as provided for by resolution 2254 four years ago. In Venezuela, this will happen by creating a national unity regime associating Chávistes and patriotic opposition. In both cases, the difficulty is to remove the mercenary opposition who, paid by the United States or their allies, will stop at nothing, and to mobilize the patriotic opposition, always present in the country and concerned with preserving the nation.

    With the agreement of President Trump and despite opposition from Pentagon generals and State Department diplomats, Syria and Venezuela advanced on this path on September 16th. On the same day, Iran, Russia and Turkey announced the constitution of the "Syrian Constitutional Commission" [4], and Venezuela announced the opening of a "Dialogue Table" bringing together representatives of the Government and the patriotic opposition [5]. This replaces the negotiations that the constitutional government had conducted in Barbados, in the presence of Norwegian mediators, with the representatives of the self-proclaimed President, Juan Guaidó; negotiations that he had already declared "exhausted" and that he himself had left. Identically, the Syrian Constitutional Commission has put an end to the negotiations that the government had been conducting for years with the "moderate" jihadists under the auspices of the UN.

    In Syria, the principle of the National Union has gradually been imposed since the beginning of the war. In 2014, President Assad managed to organize a presidential election in accordance with international standards of democratic regimes. But this is a novelty in Venezuela where all are not yet convinced. A previous attempt at union, initiated by Pope Francis, had failed. This time, in a few hours, the negotiators managed to agree on almost everything claimed by Juan Guaidó, but he refused to act. The Chávists have ceased to practice the empty chair in the National Assembly; the Electoral Commission is undergoing reform; the deputy speaker of the National Assembly, who was detained, has been released; etc.

    This considerable advance was made public during the absence of the US National Security Adviser. The replacement of John Bolton by Robert O’Brien favors a new conversation in Washington. The two men have the same ideological references, "American exceptionalism", but opposite styles: the first threatened the whole Earth with war, the second is a professional negotiator.

    The European Union and the Lima Group, who do not have the pragmatism of President Trump, condemn these advances because supporters of terrorism are excluded: the "moderate" jihadists and Juan Guaidó’s Guarimberos.


    Translation Roger Lagassé


    References:
    [1] The Pentagon’s New Map, Thomas P. M. Barnett, Putnam Publishing Group, 2004. “The US military project for the world”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 22 August 2017.

    [2] “Assad and Chávez call for the creation of a Free Allied Movement”, Voltaire Network, 29 June 2010.

    [3] Proyecto Nacional Simón Bolívar. Primer Plan Socialista (PPS) del Desarrollo Económico y Social de la Nación (2007/2013), Presidencia de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela.

    [4] “Joint Statement by Iran, Russia and Turkey on the International Meeting on Syria”, Voltaire Network, 16 September 2019.

    [5] «Venezuela : Mesa Nacional», Red Voltaire, 26 de septiembre de 2019.


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    Default Re: Turmoil in Venezuela

    This announcement coincides with Maduro’s visit to Moscow to meet with Putin.

    Quote Russian companies may invest $1bn in Venezuelan mining projects
    Published time: 25 Sep, 2019 15:16

    Russian miners are interested in mining gold and diamonds in Venezuela and may invest up to $1 billion for mining projects in the country, Russian media reported as the leaders of the two countries met in Moscow on Wednesday.
    “According to Venezuela's estimates, Russian investments may reach around $1 billion,” documents for the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro read, as cited by TASS.

    During Maduro’s previous visit to Russia, in December 2018, the two countries signed a memorandum of cooperation in geology and mineral resources, allowing Russian firms to mine in the Bolivarian Republic.

    Various US sanctions against Venezuela did not stop Russia from taking part in joint exploration and production projects. For example, Russia’s major oil company Rosneft cooperates with Venezuela’s state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, jointly developing five energy projects. Overall geological reserves in the joint ventures amount to 80 million tons of oil. Other companies such as Gazprom Neft, Gazprom and Inter RAO are also involved in energy projects in the country.

    The two countries also enjoy promising industrial cooperation, with Russia's Kamaz delivering trucks, bus chassis and spare parts to the country. Russia also supplies the South American state with grain. Last year, more than 254,000 tons worth $57 million were exported, and there are plans to more than double the shipments to reach 600,000 tons in 2019.

    In January, the Trump administration slapped Venezuela’s oil sector with sanctions. Oil production accounts for most of the country’s revenues. At the same time, Washington vocally supports opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president and has been calling for the ousting of elected President Nicolas Maduro.
    From: https://www.rt.com/business/469598-r...mpression=true
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Venezuela

    US sanctions wreak havoc on Venezuela as Washington plays ‘lifesaver’ with aid dollars

    RT
    Published time: 26 Sep, 2019 04:57
    Edited time: 26 Sep, 2019 09:16
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    © Reuters / Nacho Doce

    Despite years of devastating US sanctions on Venezuela, White House officials have painted themselves in the role of savior for the country, lavishing favored political operators with millions in aid as average citizens suffer.

    Just one day after Washington announced a $52 million aid package for the Venezuelan opposition – pledging “full support” for ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US would devote another $119 million in aid for Latin America to assist those who have fled the crisis in Venezuela. A total of $36 million will be set aside for “life-saving programs” in Venezuela itself, and getting citizens “the help they deserve.”

    Quote
    Secretary Pompeo @SecPompeo
    · 17h
    Today at #UNGA, we announced $119M in aid for lifesaving programs in #Venezuela & the region, bringing total U.S. assistance for this ongoing crisis to $568M. We stand united w/ the Venezuelan people & remain committed to getting them the help they deserve. #EstamosUnidosVE

    Chen Weihua @chenweihua

    OMG. You deprived their people access to food and health and now you want to play savior. People are not fooled so easily.

    10:06 PM - Sep 25, 2019
    While Pompeo bragged that US spending now totaled around $568 million in the country, he did not attempt to untangle the knot of contradictory American policies imposed on Venezuela – which effectively break the country’s legs, while providing only a flimsy crutch to help it walk again.


    ‘Helping’ Venezuela starve?
    In late July, the US Treasury Department announced a new round of sanctions related to Venezuela. Unlike previous penalties, which largely focused on the energy sector and government officials, these targeted the country’s ability to feed itself. The sanctions were imposed on 13 international companies and 10 individuals involved in a food subsidy program known as CLAP, which provided a home-to-home grocery delivery service.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argued that the program constituted a “corruption network” which used “food as a form of social control,” though he did not explain how destroying the program with sanctions would help Venezuelans to eat.

    Weeks later, in early August – soon after President Trump said he was considering an outright “blockade” on the country – Washington seized a foreign vessel in the Panama Canal carrying a reported 25,000 tons of food aid destined for Venezuela, which Caracas slammed as “serious aggression.”

    An analysis published in April by economists Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), moreover, found that American sanctions may have contributed to up to 40,000 excess deaths in Venezuela since 2017. While the economists cautioned that it is difficult to precisely quantify the role of US sanctions in the excess death rate – especially given socialist Venezuela’s pre-existing economic woes – they said the sanctions were “virtually certain” to have made a “substantial contribution” to the grim figure.

    Venezuela’s political opposition – to whom many millions in aid have already been disbursed – have also proven to be less-than-honest brokers when it comes to the fate of US funds. In June, officials in opposition leader Guaido’s Popular Will Party were accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands in aid dollars, which they blew on high-end hotels, expensive clothes, alcohol and other luxury items. The US continues to dump millions into the opposition regardless.

    While Washington poses as Latin America’s liberator and claims to want nothing less than to end the suffering of the average Venezuelan, US “soft power” policies continue to grind the country’s economy into the dirt and inflict pain on its populace. Some “help.”

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    Default Re: Turmoil in Venezuela

    Maduro and Political Opposition Agreement Ends U.S. Coup Attempt in Venezuela

    By Paul Antonopoulos
    On Sep 23, 2019


    The Venezuelan government and some opposition parties established the National Dialogue Table to reach a resolution to end the political crisis that has gripped Venezuela since neoliberal opposition leader Juan Guaidó unconstitutionally declared himself interim president of the country with U.S.-backing on January 10. The establishment of the National Dialogue Table between the Government and the Advanced Progressive Party by former presidential candidate Henry Falcón, the Movement to Socialism (MAS), the Solutions Movement and the Hope for Change Conservative Party led by evangelist Javier Bertucci, has changed the dynamics of the political crisis in Venezuela, especially since the signatories agreed on two critical points – possible elections and the denouncement of U.S.-led sanctions.

    The five signatories agreed that socialist deputies be reinstated to the right-wing dominated National Assembly, along with the formation of a new National Electoral Council (CNE), to work with the Justice system to address the situation of detained politicians, the rejection of U.S. economic sanctions, the defense of Guyana Esequiba territorial dispute, and the roll-out of the oil-for-food exchange program.

    This cooperation between the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela led by President Nicolás Maduro and the mostly right-wing opposition will prove to be a devastating blow to Guaidó who was only constructed as a U.S.-backed coup mechanism. With the opposition often disunited, they were always at least loosely united around a common goal of overthrowing the socialist Bolivarian Revolution that began after the ascendency of Hugo Chávez to the Venezuelan presidency in 1999.

    The accession of career military officer Chávez to the presidency saw the beginning of what came to be known as ‘the Bolivarian Revolution’. The Chávez-led Bolivarian Revolution emphasized the redistribution of the country’s wealth by increasing the independence of the oil industry from international cartels. Importantly, Venezuela under Chávez became increasingly anti-hegemonic and opposed neo-liberalism and its institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Chávez also pushed for the economic and social integration of Latin America to make the region entirely independent from U.S. corporatist capitalism. This was to be achieved through initiatives like TeleSUR and The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

    Venezuela’s new-found sovereignty and majority control of its own oil since Chávez came to power has made it the target of U.S. aggression as the Latin American country threatens the control U.S. hyper capitalism has over the majority of the continent. Maduro replaced Chávez after his death in 2013 and continued the same economic and foreign policy of his predecessor. Because of this, the U.S. continues to employ all methods to stop the continuation of the Bolivarian Revolution.

    With photos published last week of Guaidó smiling with two leaders of the dangerous Colombian paramilitary group, The Rastrojos, it is likely this triggered a move by the non-radical elements of the Venezuelan opposition. These images proved to be a turning point for the U.S.-backed opposition leader as not only do the photos show the intimacy Guaidó has with the criminal organization, that for years violated the Venezuelan economy and security on the border with Colombia, but it forced allied parties to be alienated from blatant criminality.

    Los Rastrojos began in 2006 as a private army of drug trafficker and by 2009 had become, according to experts, the largest drug and terrorism criminal organization in Colombia. The narcoparamilitary group has a strong history of murder, drug trafficking and extortion. It certainly does raise questions against Guaidó, especially as he has openly called for a coup against Maduro and for foreign military intervention.

    Therefore, Guaidó is just the latest extension of Washington’s attempts to stop the Bolivarian Revolution. However, with continued support from China and Russia, it can be argued that Venezuela would have collapsed under U.S. economic pressure. With Washington deeming Latin America to be “its backyard,” the increasing economic and military ties that Russia and China have with Venezuela has made the removal of Maduro all the more critical for the U.S.

    The emergence of the multipolar world with the rise of Russia and China brings an end to U.S. unilateralism. This means that the two Eurasian powers can challenge Washington in its “own backyard.” However, as Guaidó has failed to topple Maduro through political and economic means on behalf of the U.S., and the latest revelations that he is connected to criminal organizations, among many other controversies including the embezzlement of funds, it is likely that the separation of these opposition parties signifies the beginning of the end of the latest bout of U.S. aggression against Venezuela that has persisted since January.

    As the U.S. has failed to remove Maduro, Venezuela’s military ties and arms deals are only increasing with Russia and China. This suggests that the U.S. no longer has control of its so-called “backyard” as states are now capable of making independent decisions based on their states interests because of the rise of the multipolar world order. Therefore, this agreement between Maduro and the opposition can be seen as the beginning of the end of the U.S. dominance over Latin America.


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    Default Re: Turmoil in Venezuela

    Political persecution: Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal arrested months after reporting on Venezuelan opposition violence

    By Ben Norton The Grayzone
    Mon, 28 Oct 2019 00:00 UTC

    The Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal has been arrested on false charges after reporting on Venezuelan opposition violence outside the DC embassy. He describes the manufactured case as part of a wider campaign of political persecution.

    Max Blumenthal, the editor of the news site The Grayzone, was arrested on the morning of October 25 on a fabricated charge related to the siege of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC that took place between April and May.

    A team of DC police officers appeared at Blumenthal's door at just after 9 AM, demanding entry and threatening to break his door down. A number of officers had taken positions on the side of his home as though they were prepared for a SWAT-style raid.

    Blumenthal was hauled into a police van and ultimately taken to DC central jail, where he was held for two days in various cells and cages. He was shackled by his hands and ankles for over five hours in one such cage along with other inmates. His request for a phone call was denied by DC police and corrections officers, effectively denying him access to the outside world.

    Blumenthal was informed that he was accused of simple assault by a Venezuelan opposition member. He declared the charge completely baseless.

    "This charge is a 100 percent false, fabricated, bogus, untrue, and malicious lie," Blumenthal declared. "It is clearly part of a campaign of political persecution designed to silence me and the The Grayzone for our factual journalism exposing the deceptions, corruption and violence of the far-right Venezuelan opposition."

    The arrest warrant was five months old. According to an individual familiar with the case, the warrant for Blumenthal's arrest was initially rejected. Strangely, this false charge was revived months later without the defendant's knowledge.

    "If the government had at least told me I had a warrant I could have voluntarily surrendered and appeared at my own arraignment. I have nothing to fear because I'm completely innocent of this bogus charge," Blumenthal stated. "Instead, the federal government essentially enlisted the DC police to SWAT me, ensuring that I would be subjected to an early morning raid and then languish in prison for days without even the ability to call an attorney."

    Background to the embassy siege

    In April and May, Washington-backed Venezuelan coup leaders began taking over properties in the United States that belong to the internationally recognized government of Venezuela's democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro, in violation of international law.

    A group of activists responded by keeping a vigil inside the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC, in order to protect it from an illegal seizure by the US-supported coup leaders. The activists formed what they called the Embassy Protection Collective. The internationally recognized Venezuelan government gave them permission to stay in its embassy, which is its own sovereign territory under international law.

    In response, hordes of violent right-wing activists who support the Venezuelan opposition launched a de facto 24/7 siege of the embassy, preventing people, food, and supplies from entering the building.

    The Grayzone reporter Anya Parampil and Alex Rubinstein, a contributor to The Grayzone, were embedded in the embassy with several peace activists.

    Parampil and journalists including Blumenthal documented the right-wing mobs lashing out with racist and sexist invective as well as violence at Venezuelan solidarity activists who gathered outside the embassy to show support for the protectors.
    'This ginned up claim... is simply false'
    Court documents indicate the false charge of simple assault stems from Blumenthal's participation in a delivery of food and sanitary supplies to peace activists and journalists inside the Venezuelan embassy on May 8, 2019.

    The charge was manufactured by a Venezuelan opposition member who was among those laying siege to the embassy in a sustained bid to starve out the activists inside.

    "I was not party to any violent actions around the Venezuelan embassy," Blumenthal reiterated. "This ginned up claim of simple assault is simply false."

    According to court documents, Ben Rubinstein, the brother of journalist Alex Rubinstein, also participated in the non-violent and legal food delivery. Rubinstein was arrested over 12 hours later after the food delivery by Secret Service police officers.

    He spent 20 hours in jail, alongside Gerry Condon, president of Veterans for Peace, who was arrested after being brutalized by Secret Service officers for attempting to toss a cucumber inside an embassy window.

    "The opposition members made up these lies about Max and I know they're lying, and they are obviously using the government and police as tools to get revenge," Ben Rubinstein told The Grayzone.

    Retaliation for The Grayzone's reporting on the violent Venezuelan opposition
    Max Blumenthal reported extensively from outside the Venezuelan embassy in May. He filed a story explaining how "the pro-coup mob outside turned violent, physically assaulting embassy protectors, and hurling racist, sexist and homophobic abuse at others."

    Blumenthal documented an opposition activist breaking into and subsequently vandalizing the embassy, in violation of international law. He also reported on opposition members destroying the embassy's security cameras, while the authorities stood idly by.

    Quote
    Max Blumenthal‏Verified account @MaxBlumenthal

    Max Blumenthal Retweeted Peter Bolton

    To the left of the fascist is “Mohamed,” the right-wing vigilante who broke into the embassy two days ago and ransacked an entire room: https://twitter.com/realalexrubi/status/1123536909870010368?s=21 … @DCPoliceDept has taken no action beyond aiding and abetting this squalid mob

    Max Blumenthal added,
    0:08

    Peter Bolton @PeterRBolton
    Today outside the Venezuelan Embassy I witnessed a pro-coup demonstrator call a female Code Pink member a "****ing little bitch". #HandsOffVenezuela #Codepink #VenezuelanEmbassy #embassyprotectioncollective

    12:02 PM - 3 May 2019
    The Venezuelan coup regime's supposed ambassador to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, who is not recognized by the United Nations and the vast majority of the international community, helped to lead this aggressive mob as it besieged the embassy.

    The Grayzone's Anya Parampil exposed Vecchio to be a former lawyer for the oil corporation Exxon. The Grayzone has documented his close links to the US government, and has reported at length on accusations of corruption. Vecchio was a regular presence outside the DC embassy, appearing with his gaggle to stage manage the situation.

    The Grayzone has also published numerous exposés on Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó, who was selected by the US government to be the so-called "interim president" in Caracas, detailing his extensive ties to Washington and his notorious corruption.

    Blumenthal was arrested literally hours after The Grayzone published an article on USAID paying the salaries of Guaidó's team as they lobbied the US government.

    "I am firmly convinced that this case is part of a wider campaign of political persecution using the legal system to shut down our factual investigative journalism about the coup against Venezuela and the wider policy of economic warfare and regime change waged by the Trump administration," Blumenthal stated.

    If this had happened to a journalist in Venezuela, every Western human rights NGO and news wire would be howling about Maduro's authoritarianism. It will be revealing to see how these same elements react to a clear-cut case of political repression in their own backyard.
    Ben Norton is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker. He is the assistant editor of The Grayzone, and the producer of the Moderate Rebels podcast, which he co-hosts with editor Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Venezuela

    Quote Posted by Hervé (here)
    Political persecution: Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal arrested months after reporting on Venezuelan opposition violence

    By Ben Norton The Grayzone
    Mon, 28 Oct 2019 00:00 UTC

    The Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal has been arrested on false charges after reporting on Venezuelan opposition violence outside the DC embassy. He describes the manufactured case as part of a wider campaign of political persecution.

    Max Blumenthal, the editor of the news site The Grayzone, was arrested on the morning of October 25 on a fabricated charge related to the siege of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC that took place between April and May.

    A team of DC police officers appeared at Blumenthal's door at just after 9 AM, demanding entry and threatening to break his door down. A number of officers had taken positions on the side of his home as though they were prepared for a SWAT-style raid.

    Blumenthal was hauled into a police van and ultimately taken to DC central jail, where he was held for two days in various cells and cages. He was shackled by his hands and ankles for over five hours in one such cage along with other inmates. His request for a phone call was denied by DC police and corrections officers, effectively denying him access to the outside world.

    Blumenthal was informed that he was accused of simple assault by a Venezuelan opposition member. He declared the charge completely baseless.

    "This charge is a 100 percent false, fabricated, bogus, untrue, and malicious lie," Blumenthal declared. "It is clearly part of a campaign of political persecution designed to silence me and the The Grayzone for our factual journalism exposing the deceptions, corruption and violence of the far-right Venezuelan opposition."
    Thanks for this Hervé

    Wow, we knew the outlook for (fellow) journalists was looking bleak, but, persecution-on-toast (sic), this is not at all good.

    I need to get the smarts/lowdown on the legalese behind 'simple' assault
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