VENEZUELA REPORT BACK LIVESTREAM THURSDAY March 21, 2019 7 PM


When we talked with Venezuelans they told us how pleased they were people from the United States were in Venezuela and could see what was really happening in their country. They wanted us to return to the United States and tell the truth about Venezuela — that is exactly what we will be doing.

There is more false information in the US mass media than there is the truth. The people of the United States are being misled in order to create support for the Trump intervention in Venezuela which includes the economic war, an attack on the electrical system and the threat of war and militarism.

We will report on what we saw in Venezuela. When the US was claiming there was widespread civil unrest when in fact there was calm. When the US claimed there were people starving and homeless, we saw healthy people, food distribution programs, urban food gardens and millions of social housing units built in the midst of an economic war. There were no starving Venezuelans.

While the US pushed the farce Juan Guaido as a coup president, the reality was Guaido’s self-appointment violated the Constitution of Venezuela. Guaido is the butt of jokes in Venezuela with very little support among the population while Maduro is seen as working for the necessities of people and fighting against US imperialism.

The peace delegation was organized by the US Peace Council and COSI (the Committee for International Solidarity). We spent time in the barrio’s, shantytowns, on the streets, food cooperatives and at rallies and talked to many Venezuelans.

We will also report on a 90-minute private meeting our delegation had with President Maduro, as well as meetings with the National Electoral Council, the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Urban Farming, Ministry of Peace and the Health Ministry.

Join us so you can learn what is really happening in Venezuela and share the information widely.

The panel will include:

Margaret Flowers, co-director of Popular Resistance

Kevin Zeese co-director of Popular Resistance

Joe Lombardo, national organizer of the United National Antiwar Coalition
Original Article: https://popularresistance.org/venezuela-report-back-livestream-thursday-7-pm/

Another report direct from Kevin Zeese: https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2019/03/greens-report-on-their-peace-delegation-to-venezuela/

Upcoming Peace Actions  

The Green Party Peace Action Committee (GPAX) has endorsed back-to-back anti-war demonstrations in DC. (see below.)  These actions are important and we would like to have a strong Green Party presence.  There will also be local peace actions we need to support and help organize.

I have proposed that the party members help organize Anti-War Teach-Ins:

“From Yemen to Venezuela US Aggression Must End”.

There is a great need for peace education and outreach. Most Americans have little understanding of why we are at war and are fatigued by how long these wars have been going on. The peace movement needs to reach out to new constituencies..

I propose that we encourage peace groups to organize anti-war teach-ins on college campuses and in communities in the coming months.

  1. HANDS OFF VENEZUELA! 

NATIONAL MARCH ON WASHINGTON 

SATURDAY, MARCH 16: See below.

  1. Mobilization to Oppose the North American Treaty Organization(NATO).

Saturday, March 30, 2019
Lafayette Park (across from the White House)
Washington, DC1:00 PM ET

Historically, massive protests have taken place in major cities during NATO meetings and summits. 2019 will be no exception.

Additional actions will take place on April 4, 2019 at the opening of the NATO meeting. April 4th marks the 51st anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. In a grotesque desecration of King’s dedication to peace and his fight against racism, poverty and war, military leaders will gather and celebrate NATO’s 70th anniversary at their annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

This is nothing short of a deliberate insult to King.

Since its founding, NATO has succeeded in being the world’s deadliest military alliance. As the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. once correctly asserted, the U.S. government is “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” Hundreds of thousands of people have died in U.S./NATO-led wars in places like Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yugoslavia.

March on the Pentagon invites you to join us in opposing NATO with UNAC. As the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

So let’s be loud. No to NATO. U.S. and NATO wars must end.

Learn more at No2NATO2019.org.

The Steering Committee for the March 30th Anti-NATO Mobilization:

  • Bahman Azad, Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases • Ajamu Baraka, Black Alliance for Peace • Leah Bolger, World Beyond War • Alison Bodine, Mobilization Against War and Occupation • Gerry Condon, Veterans For Peace • Miguel Figueroa, Canadian Peace Congress • Sara Flounders, International Action Center • Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance • Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ • Madelyn Hoffman, U.S. Peace Council • Tarak Kauff, Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases, Veterans For Peace • Marilyn Levin, UNAC • Joe Lombardo, UNAC • Tamara Lorincz, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace • Jeff Mackler, West Coast UNAC • Alfred L. Marder, U.S. Peace Council • Sarah Martin, Women Against Military Madness • Nancy Price, WILPF-US Section • Paul Pumphrey, Friends of the Congo • Cindy Sheehan, March on the Pentagon• Paki Wieland, CODEPINK • Phil Wilayto, Virginia Defenders • Ann Wright, Veterans For Peace, CODEPINK • Rev. Bruce Wright, Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign and Refuge Ministries • Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance

NATIONAL MARCH ON WASHINGTON SATURDAY, MARCH 16:

HANDS OFF VENEZUELA
White House, Washington, D.C.

By Coalition of Signers, ANSWER Coalition

“People Of The U.S., I Ask For Your Support To Reject The Interference Of Donald Trump’s Government In Making My Homeland A Vietnam In Latin America. Don’t Allow It!”  President Nicolas Maduro, January 31, 2017.

On Saturday, March 16, thousands of people will march in Washington, D.C. against the Trump administration’s effort to engineer a coup in Venezuela and a new devastating war there. The aggressive policy against Venezuela repeats the ugly pattern of wars for regime change in the oil-rich countries of Iraq and Libya. National Security Advisor John Bolton is reading from the same script, declaring a “troika of tyranny” in Latin America (like the “axis of evil”) as a precursor for regime change first in Venezuela, and then Cuba and Nicaragua. Trump has always said that the “mistake” of the Middle East wars was that the U.S. didn’t “take the oil.”

It is time to stand up and with a clear voice say NO to the newest example of the “Monroe Doctrine,” which the U.S. government has used for over two centuries to repeatedly invade Latin America and Caribbean, control its politics and extract its resources.

The White House aims to overthrow the government of President Nicolás Maduro and replace him with Juan Guaidó. Guaidó is a U.S.-trained operative who was unknown to the vast majority of Venezuelans before he proclaimed himself president — at Vice President Mike Pence’s urging. Although Guaidó has the backing of Trump, the CIA, and the Republican and Democratic Party leaderships alike, huge numbers of Venezuelans have marched to reject this coup and defend their independence.

On March 16, the people of the United States will come together to say:

  • U.S. hands off Venezuela!
  • NO to the coup — the U.S. does not have the right to select other country’s leaders!
  • NO to the sanctions, oil embargo and economic war on Venezuela that aims to cause suffering for ordinary people in the country.
  • NO to intervention and war from the U..S. and their proxies in the region.

Initial signers:

  • ANSWER Coalition
  • CodePink
  • Black Alliance for Peace
  • Alliance for Global Justice
  • Popular Resistance
  • Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee
  • Haïti Liberté
  • International Support Haiti Network
  • Popular Education Project
  • Abby Martin, journalist, The Empire Files
  • Dr. Jill Stein, 2016 Green Party presidential candidate
  • Dr. Jared Ball, Prof. of Communication Studies, Morgan State Univ., imixwhatilike
  • Medea Benjamin, activist and author, CodePink
  • Cindy Sheehan, activist and author, Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox
  • Berthony Dupont, Director, Haïti Liberté
  • Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, constitutional rights attorney
  • Max Blumenthal, journalist
  • Ajamu Baraka, National Organizer, Black Alliance for Peace
  • Mike Prysner, Iraq War veteran, producer, The Empire files
  • Dr. George Ciccariello-Maher, author
  • Dr. Anthony Monteiro, Saturday Free School
  • Dr. Jodi Dean, author, Prof. of Political Science, Hobart & William Smith Colleges
  • Gloria La Riva, National Coordinator, Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee
  • Kim Ives, journalist
  • Anoa Changa, host, The Way With Anoa
  • Dan Cohen, journalist and filmmaker
  • Chuck Kaufman, National Co-Coordinator, Alliance for Global Justice
  • Eugene Puryear, Stop Police Terror Project
  • Jeanette Charles, International Solidarity Liaison, Venezuela Analysis
  • Lucas Koerner, Editor and Analyst, Venezuela Analysis
  • Margaret Flowers, Co-Coordinator, Popular Resistance
  • Kevin Zeese, Co-Coordinator, Popular Resistance
  • Dan Kovalik, author and human rights lawyer
  • Mahdi Bray, National Director, American Muslim Alliance (AMA)

Brian Becker, National Director, ANSWER Coalition

VENEZUELA: WHAT ACTIVISTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE US-LED COUP

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance

| , NEWSLETTER

Above photo: John Zangas, DC Media Group.

Two things stand out about the US coup in Venezuela. First, it is unusually open. Typically, the US tries to hide its coups. Second, the coup is built on a series of obvious falsehoods, yet the bi-partisans in Washington, with a few exceptions, keep repeating them.

First, we will correct the falsehoods so readers are all working from the same facts. Second, we will describe how this coup is being defeated. It will be another major embarrassment for the Trump administration and US foreign policy.

It is important to understand Venezuela has become a geopolitical conflict as Russia and China are closely allied with Venezuela. China and Russia coming into the backyard of the United States challenges the antiquated Monroe Doctrine.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and the second largest gold reserves, as well as diamonds and other minerals such as coltan (needed for electronic devices). And, Venezuela is taking over as president of OPEC and will be in a position to push for oil payments in non-dollar currencies or in cryptocurrencies, a major threat to the US dollar.

A protest outside the United States Consulate in Sydney on January 23 to demand no US intervention in Venezuela. Photo: Peter Boyle

Correcting the Record

There are a series of false statements repeated by DC officials and corporate media to justify the coup that are so obvious, it is hard to believe they are not intentional. In his two-paragraph comment on the coup, even Senator Bernie Sanders repeated them.

1. Truth: President Nicolás Maduro is the legitimate president.

President Maduro was re-elected on May 20, 2018, in response to the opposition demanding an early election. The legitimacy of the election of Maduro is so evident that it must be assumed those who say he is illegitimate are either intentionally false or ignorant. The election was scheduled consistent with the Venezuelan Constitution and in consultation with opposition parties. When it became evident that the opposition could not win the election, they decided, under pressure from the United States, to boycott the election in order to undermine its legitimacy. The facts are 9,389,056 people voted, 46% of eligible voters. Sixteen parties participated in the election with six candidates competing for the presidency.

The electoral process was observed by more than 150 election observers. This included 14 electoral commissions from eight countries among them the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America; two technical electoral missions; and 18 journalists from different parts of the world, among others. According to the international observers, “the elections were very transparent and complied with international parameters and national legislation.”

Venezuela has one of the best electoral systems in the world. Voter fraud is not possible as identification and fingerprints are required for each voter. Voting machines are audited before and immediately after the election. Venezuela does something no other country in the world does — a public, citizen’s audit of a random sample of 53% of voting machines that is televised. All 18 parties signed the audits.

Maduro won by a wide margin, obtaining 6,248,864 votes, 67.84%; followed by Henri Falcón with 1,927,958, 20.93%; Javier Bertucci with 1,015,895, 10.82%; and Reinaldo Quijada, who obtained 36,246 votes, 0.39% of the total.

This same voting system has been used in elections that Maduro’s party has lost in governor’s and legislative elections. Venezuela is a real democracy with transparent elections. The United States could learn a good deal about real democracy from Venezuela.

2. Truth: The economic crisis is caused by outside intervention, internal sabotage and the decline in oil prices.

There is no doubt the economic situation in Venezuela is dire. The cause is the economic war conducted by the United States, the major decline in oil prices and economic sabotage by the opposition. In essence, the United States and opposition created problems in the Venezuelan economy and now say Maduro must be replaced because of problems they created.

Oil was discovered in Venezuela in the early part of the 20th Century and has dominated the economy since then. The Dutch Disease, the negative impact of an economy based on one natural resource, causes a sharp inflow of foreign currency, which raises the value of the country’s currency, making the country’s other products less price competitive. It is cheaper to import products rather than create them. This makes it more difficult for segments of the economy like agriculture and manufacturing to develop.

Chavez/Maduro sought to diversify the economy. They put in place thousands of communes and hundreds of thousands of people working in cooperatives to build agriculture and manufacturing. When the global price of oil was cut by more than half, it collapsed Venezuela’s public finances undermining these efforts. The economic war by the US made it difficult for Venezuela to borrow and trade with some countries.

Economic sanctions against Venezuela began under President Obama, and the Trump administration escalated them with financial sanctions. United States sanctions cost Venezuela some $6 billion since August, according to an October analysis. Measures against the nation’s oil industry have prohibited the Venezuelan majority-owned company, CITGO, from sending profits back to Venezuela, a $1 billion loss to the government yearly. Now, the Bank of England is refusing to return $1.2 billion in gold reserves after US officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, lobbied them to cut Venezuela off from its overseas assets.

The US economic war and sabotage of the economy by business interests has been exposed as part of the effort to remove Maduro by creating social unrest and lack of confidence in the government.  This has included hoarding of goods, storing essentials in warehouses and selling Venezuelan goods in Colombia.

In September 2018, Venezuela pointed to a false media campaign exaggerating migration from Venezuela. They highlighted statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to affirm that Venezuela has the fewest volunteer migrants in the continent. They pointed out 5.6 million Colombians have fled violence in their country and live in Venezuela. Venezuela has programs that have helped thousands of Venezuelans return home.

Socialism strengthens economies, as demonstrated in Portugal. Indeed, one criticism of Venezuela is that the Bolivarian Process is moving too slowly to put in place a socialist economy. There is a need for more sectors to be nationalized and put under democratic control of the people.

3. Truth: The opposition is violent, not the Maduro government.

Opposition protesters have been extremely violent. One tactic of the opposition was to be violent and then film the government’s response to make the government look violent. When Abby Martin was confronted by opposition protesters, they told her, “Do not film anything that we do. Just film what the government does to us.” She reported on the violence saying, “the vast majority has been caused by either indirect or direct violence by the opposition.”

Martin reports the opposition attacked hospitals, burned down the Housing Ministry, assassinated Chavistas and attacked citizen communes such as an art commune that gave free dance and music lessons to local children. Afro-Venezuelans were burned alive. Protesters pulled drivers out of buses and torched the buses. When photos and videos of opposition violence were put on social media, Martin and her colleague, Mike Prysner, became the target of a false media campaign on social media. The opposition did all they could to prevent them from reporting the truth using hundreds of death threats and threats they would be lynched.

In 2017, Venezuela Analysis reported that violent opposition protests included an attack on a maternity hospital endangering the lives of more than 50 newborn babies. Another report described the opposition using snipers to shoot government officials and civilians. Opposition newspapers urged that blunt objects be used to “neutralize” pro-government protesters, resulting in serious injuries and death.

Steve Ellner also reported that violence was coming from the opposition. He pointed to attacks at grocery stores, banks, buses, and government buildings.  Other commentators described specific incidents of violence by the opposition including killing people. Maduro ordered the arrest of a retired general who tweeted how to use wire to decapitate people on motorcycles, which happened, and how to attack armored vehicles with Molotov cocktails.

Documents show that violence was the opposition’s strategy. They sought to “Create situations of crisis in the streets that will facilitate US intervention, as well as NATO forces, with the support of the Colombian government. Whenever possible, the violence should result in deaths or injuries.”

The tales of government violence are rooted in lies. The government’s response was Maduro calling for a peace conference describing it as “a national peace conference with all the country’s political sectors … so we Venezuelans can try to neutralize violent groups.”

4. Truth: The National Assembly acted in violation of the law and is in contempt of court.

The National Assembly is not the only democratic body in Venezuela. Indeed, its actions since the opposition won a majority have violated the law and protected the violence of the opposition with an embarrassing amnesty bill.

On December 6, 2015, the opposition won a parliamentary majority in the Assembly. There were allegations of vote buying in Amazonas state that were investigated by the National Electoral Council, another branch of the government. The Supreme Court barred four legislators from Amazonas taking office, two from the opposition, one allied with the opposition and one from the ruling party. The National Assembly allowed three candidates to take office. The Assembly has been held in contempt of court since July 2016 and their decisions were nullified.

Before the court ruling, the Assembly passed an amazing amnesty law, which granted amnesty for crimes the opposition has committed since 1999 (Chavez’ election). The law is an admission of guilt and provides a well-organized catalog of crimes including felonies, crimes committed at public rallies, terrorist acts involving explosives and firearms and undermining the economy. They essentially admitted exactly what Chavez/Maduro have claimed — crimes to overthrow the government for 17 years. Venezuela’s Supreme Court ruled the amnesty law was unconstitutional. Inaccurately, the Trump administration calls the Assembly Venezuela’s only remaining democratic institution.

This January, a subsidiary of the state oil company asked the Assembly to intervene claiming the president cannot make reforms to mixed public-private oil businesses without the prior approval of the National Assembly. On January 16, the court ruled that the Assembly was still in contempt of court and could not act. This is also when the Assembly elected Juan Guaidó as their president, who would later appoint himself President of Venezuela, as part of the US-led coup. Guaidó’s election to head the legislature was illegal and nullified by the court.

The Assembly still exists but remains in a state of contempt of the judiciary. It can rectify the situation by removing the lawmakers accused of electoral fraud. The Assembly refuses to do so because their goal is to remove Maduro from office and they need a super-majority to do so.

Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK disrupts Mike Pompeo at the OAS. Press TV.

A Timeline of the US Coup in Venezuela

In “Anti-Maduro Coalition Grew from Secret Talks,” the Associated Press explains the coup was “only possible because of strong support from the Trump administration, which led a chorus of mostly conservative Latin American governments that immediately recognized Guaidó.”

Since August 2017, Donald Trump has been saying that military interventionagainst Venezuela was a distinct possibility. AP describes this as a “watershed moment” in the coup planning. They report Trump pressuring aides and Latin American countries to invade Venezuela. In September, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration had been meeting with coup plotters since mid-2017.

The Wall Street Journal reports Trump has long viewed Venezuela as one of his top-three foreign policy priorities, with Iran and North Korea. Trump requested a briefing on Venezuela on his second day in office, talking of the immense potential of Venezuela to become a rich nation through its oil reserves. AP reports that Trump “personally sparked” this as he brought up regime change in Venezuela in every meeting with Latin American leaders.

After Maduro was re-elected, administration plans began taking shape, driven in part by key members in the National Security Council and anti-Maduro advocates in Congress like extreme interventionist Senator Marco Rubio.

On November 1, John Bolton zeroed in on Latin America, calling Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela a “troika of tyranny.” On January 2, Bolton met with his Brazilian and Colombian counterparts to collaborate to “return Venezuela to its democratic heritage.”

On January 10, Maduro was sworn in for his second term, Pompeo spoke with opposition leader Guaidó, pledging support. Canada also played a key role, AP reports that Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to Guaidó the night before Maduro’s inauguration offering Canada’s support. This was 13 days before Guaidó announced he was president of Venezuela.

On January 12, the State Department backed Guaidó’s move to invoke his authority as president of the assembly, saying, “It is time to begin the orderly transition to a new government.” On January 15, the National Assembly declared Maduro as illegitimate. The Trump administration worked to get allies lined up to support Guaidó’. By January 18, the Venezuela Foreign Minister was describing a US coup in progress.

The night before Guaidó’s announcement on January 23, Vice President Mike Pence put out a video message encouraging Venezuelans to overthrow their government, saying, “We are with you. We stand with you, and we will stay with you.” Guaidó also received a phone call from Pence the night before he appointed himself president where he pledged that the U.S. would back Guaidó.

Guaidó declared that Maduro’s government was illegitimate and he was assuming the presidency. In a well-coordinated charade, almost instantly, Trump recognized Guaidó as the country’s rightful leader. To further demonstrate the preconceived, tightly coordinated and efficiently carried out the coup, US allies, among them Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Peru, quickly recognized the coup president.

The Trump administration is claiming Guaidó represents the lawful government and is entitled to all Venezuelan revenues. The State Department notified the Federal Reserve that Guaidó is the agent for access to Venezuelan assets in US banks.

Nearly as quickly, Maduro drew statements of support from Russia, China, Turkey, Mexico, Cuba, Bolivia, and others. The Venezuelan Supreme Court called for an investigation into the National Assembly and Guaidó, regarding the illegal usurpation of Executive power. The Venezuelan military announced it supported Maduro and Russia warned the US not to intervene militarily.

On January 25, the Organization of American States, which is traditionally a US tool, rejected a resolution to recognize Guaidó. Medea Benjamin of CODE PINK interrupted Pompeo at the OAS holding a sign that said: “a coup is not a democratic transition!” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza thanked Benjamin, saying, “With her protest, she revealed the macabre coup plan against Venezuela, we will always prevail, thank you!” Eighteen countries defeated the proposal.

At the UN Security Council meeting on January 26, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the United States of attempting “to engineer a coup d’etat.” He demanded to know whether the Trump administration “is ready to use military force” against Venezuela. European countries gave Venezuela eight days to hold an election, a suggestion Venezuela rejected. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Venezuela an “illegitimate mafia state.” He accused Russia and China of trying “to prop up Maduro.”

Both China and Russia have told the US not to intervene in Venezuela’s internal affairs. In December, Russia sent two nuclear-capable strategic Tu-160 bombers to Venezuela along with an An-124 heavy military transport plane and an II-62 long-haul plane. As of December, Russia has one brigade in Venezuela and was discussing sending a second military brigade to Venezuela even before the coup due to the continued threat of intervention from the United States.

China has lent over $50 billion to Venezuela through oil-for-loan agreements over the past decade and has become a partner in the Venezuelan oil industry. In December, seven months since signing a financial business venture with China, Venezuela’s oil production has doubled to 130,000 barrels per day. The take-over of Venezuela’s oil would also be an attack on China. China and Venezuela signed 28 bilateral strategic cooperation agreements on September 14 in the areas of oil, mining, security, technology, finance, and health.

Demonstrating the nature of the coup president, the first acts that Guaidó took were to seek a loan from the International Monetary Fund, which would put Venezuela in debt to western bankers and under their control, and to privatize the Venezuelan oil industry, which would rob Venezuela of the funds being used to lift up the poor and working class.

The appointment by Mike Pompeo of Elliott Abrams as the person in charge of overseeing operations “to restore democracy in Venezuela” is an ominous sign. It is scandalous and demonstrates the most extreme elements of the US establishment are leading the charge. Abrams was convicted during the Iran-Contra scandalsupported US-backed death squads in Guatemala and El Salvador in the 1980s, played a key role in the Reagan administration support for the murderous Contras in Nicaragua and was the person who gave approval for the US-backed coup in Venezuela in 2002.

Analyst Vijay Prashad writes the coup violated the charters of the United Nations and of the Organisation of American States and describes efforts to call on the military to rise up against the government have failed. The Trump administration is now threatening a total oil embargo on Venezuela and is leaving the “military option” open.

The concerted campaign by the US and Canada to install Juan Guaidó as the new ‘self-declared’ interim President of Venezuela has been met with initial failure. Unfortunately, the illegal and undemocratic attempts to destabilize the country and overthrow the democratically-elected President will continue with harmful consequences. The people of Venezuela are rising once again to defend their country against hostile foreign intervention. It is essential that we support them in this fight. Many groups are holding solidarity rallies and issuing statements of support. Find rallies and protests here and here.

While Sanders got all the facts wrong about Venezuela, he did reach the right conclusion: “The United States has a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries. We must not go down that road again.” People in the United States have an important role to play in supporting Venezuela and defeating the coup.

Original article: https://popularresistance.org/venezuela-what-activists-need-to-know-about-the-us-led-coup/ 

Statement of support for Nicolás Maduro and against intervention in Venezuela

The Executive Secretariat of the São Paulo Forum expresses its profound rejection of the decision of the Government of Donald Trump, of Canada and of several Latin American countries to support the illegitimate presidency of the opposition Juan Guaidó in Venezuela, contrary to the popular decision expressed in May 2018, when the people democratically elected compañero Nicolás Maduro for the presidency of the country.

The elections of 2018 were legitimate and recognized by various sectors of Venezuelan society, including the opposition. The Venezuelan political-electoral system assures the population a broad voting right and has transparency and verification mechanisms. He was praised by the former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, and now by the former president of the Spanish government, José Luís Zapatero, who joined the delegations of international electoral accompaniment.

The group that now wants to assume the command of the country is a minority group and does not accept the popular demonstration. This group uses the support of the Trump Government and its puppet governments in the region. Trump has already demonstrated on several occasions that he does not respect the sovereignty of other countries and international agreements, in addition to having attitudes that are openly opposed to peace and dialogue for the resolution of conflicts.

We call the countries of the continent to respect the sovereign decision of the people and the principle of nonintervention.

Together in the São Paulo Forum, we will fight for the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to reach their full sovereignty and independence!

Monica Valente
Executive Secretary
São Paulo Forum

COMBAT VET, WEST POINT GRAD FORCED TO RESIGN FOR SUPPORTING ECONOMIC & RACIAL JUSTICE

By Spenser Rapone, Truthdig.com
RESIST!
Original Link: https://popularresistance.org/combat-vet-west-point-grad-forced-to-resign-for-supporting-economic-racial-justice/

Above Photo: Fist raised, Spenser Rapone displays a slogan written inside his cap after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in May 2016. (Courtesy of Spenser Rapone via AP)

Editor’s note: On the outside, Spenser Rapone’s West Point graduation uniform looked like all the other cadets’. Underneath his dress uniform, however, was evidence of his political views: a T-shirt bearing Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara’s image, and a cap that read, inside, “Communism will win.”

The shirt and hat made waves in the U.S. military community after Rapone posted photos of them on social media in September, and now he has been given an “other than honorable” discharge. According to The Associated Press, he was charged with “conduct unbecoming of an officer” after an Army investigation determined that he “went online to promote a socialist revolution and disparage high-ranking officers.”

In the following statement for Truthdig, Rapone explains his political beliefs.

I am a combat veteran with the First Ranger Battalion, a recent graduate of West Point and a former second lieutenant who was stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y. Since identifying myself as a socialist, there has been much controversy generated by a number of my public statements.

It began with my post on social media, in which I expressed my full and enthusiastic support of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his fight against racial injustice, white supremacy and police brutality. After revealing a picture of myself in uniform with the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick, I was met by solidarity from my fellow soldiers, as well as harsh blowback from my chain of command.

To this day, I stand by my convictions, despite the efforts of ranking officers to pressure me into silence. I believe that standing up for the exploited and the oppressed is the most honorable thing we can do as people. No job should hinder or repress this pursuit, which is why I decided to resign my commission as an officer in the United States Army. My conditional resignation was denied by the secretary of the Army. Instead, the military forced me into either submitting an unconditional resignation or appearing before a board of inquiry—an adversarial trial in which a jury of senior officers would determine my fate. Rather than submit to the antics of what amounts to a show trial at best, I tendered my unconditional resignation. Passing judgment on me one last time, the military determined the character of my service to be “other than honorable.” Despite the brass prolonging my time in service, I have come to the conclusion that leaving the military altogether, whatever the circumstances, is the only moral way forward. During this ordeal, I have learned that I am far from alone in my feelings of disillusionment and betrayal within the rank and file of the U.S. military.

As a teenager, I believed the United States military was a force of good for the world. I thought that I signed up to fight for freedom and democracy, to protect my loved ones and my country from harm. My experiences showed me otherwise.

After bearing witness to the senseless destruction in Afghanistan during my combat deployment to Khost Province in the summer of 2011, I knew that our wars must be stopped. I was assigned to my platoon as an assistant machine-gunner. I took part in missions where human beings were killed, captured and terrorized. However, the horror wrought by the U.S. military’s overseas ventures is not limited to combat engagements alone. Some nights, we barely did anything at all but walk through a village. As such, the longer I was there, the more it became apparent that the mere presence of an occupying force was a form of violence. My actions overseas did not help or protect anybody. I felt like I was little more than a bully, surrounded by the most well-armed and technologically advanced military in history, in one of the poorest countries in the world. I saw many of my fellow soldiers all too eager to carry out violence for the sake of violence. There is no honor in such bloodlust; quite the contrary. I saw firsthand how U.S. foreign policy sought to carry out the subjugation of poor, brown people in order to steal natural resources, expand American hegemony and extinguish the self-determination of any group that dare oppose the empire. Idealistic and without a coherent worldview yet, I thought that perhaps pursuing an officer’s commission would allow me to change things and help put a stop to the madness. I was wrong.

It soon dawned on me how pervasive the military-industrial complex is. I studied, examined my own experiences and began to grasp more completely the horrors and impact of U.S. imperialism. Learning that over a million people have lost their lives since 9/11—the vast majority being innocent civilians—began to haunt me. Seeing that up to a trillion dollars a year were being diverted from education, health care and infrastructure in the U.S. to support our 800 military bases around the world began to feel increasingly maddening. Within the Army itself, one out of three women are sexually assaulted. The death of football player and later soldier Pat Tillman by friendly fire was covered up to sell a war. Generals responsible for war crimes—from the unbridled destruction of Afghan and Iraqi villages to the construction of torture prisons—are rewarded with accolades and political power. These sad and dishonorable truths increasingly grew impossible to ignore. The military was not the noble and selfless institution the commercials and Hollywood movies made it out to be—far from it.

At West Point, I soon found myself at odds with my future role as someone tasked with the responsibility of leading soldiers into battle. However, leaving West Point after my junior year would have meant returning to the enlisted ranks or finding a way to come up with a quarter-million dollars to pay the academy back. So I stuck it out, hoping I would find a way to reconcile this contradiction. Again, I was wrong. Upon returning to Fort Benning, Ga., to begin my training as an infantry officer following graduation, I was filled with dread. It was like I was in a place simultaneously familiar and unknown. There were things I noticed that my 18-year-old self could not have recognized before. Most strikingly, I observed the scope of the brainwashing within the ranks, from bald, buzz-cut, mostly teenage infantrymen fresh out of training, to college graduates eager to lead those naïve soldiers into America’s next war. I felt witness to a collective delusion—one that I was once a part of, but had somehow miraculously escaped. After nearly a year there, as I prepared to move to my new duty station at Fort Drum, one thing became clear: I cannot be a part of this any longer. I cannot kill or die for the U.S. military—no one should.

I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. My feelings and experiences are not an anomaly. I know, because I have had conversations with others who have expressed the same sentiments.

You are out there, and should you take the same steps that I have, I am with you. While the prospect is daunting, united together we have far more power than all of the generals and politicians combined. We possess the ability to grind this entire military machine to a halt. It is high time we live up to the trust and respect bestowed upon us by the people. Let our mutual love of humanity and our desire for liberation and peace be our guiding principles.

Most importantly, let us find common cause with the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Libya and so many others who have suffered at the behest of the United States. To those soldiers who I’ve heard from, and to those I haven’t yet, I hope that you too find the courage to lay your weapons down with me, and refuse your orders to kill and die for the benefit of a handful of ruling-class elites at the great expense of the rest of us. Freedom lies on the other side. Together, let us fight to put a stop to these endless trillion-dollar wars, and let us join our brothers and sisters around the world in putting a stop to all forms of exploitation, oppression and senseless violence.

 

NPR: U.S. Announces Its Withdrawal From U.N. Human Rights Council

June 19, 2018 5:09 PM ET

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaks Tuesday at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaks Tuesday at the Department of State in Washington, D.C.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

After more than a year of complaints and warnings — some subtle and others a little less so — the Trump administration has announced that the United States is withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley announced the decision in a joint statement Tuesday.

“I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from human rights commitments,” Haley told the media. “On the contrary, we take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”

The move comes as little surprise from an administration that frequently has lambasted the 47-member body for a gamut of perceived failures — particularly the dubious rights records of many of its member countries, as well as what Haley has repeatedly called the council’s “chronic bias against Israel.”

Haley harked back to a speech she delivered to the council one year ago this month, in which she laid down something of an ultimatum. At that point, she told members that they must stop singling out Israel for condemnation and must clean up their roster — which includes VenezuelaChina and Saudi Arabia, among others — or the council could bid the U.S. farewell.

“If the Human Rights Council is going to be an organization we entrust to protect and promote human rights, it must change,” she said. “If it fails to change, then we must pursue the advancement of human rights outside of the council.”

In the year that has elapsed since those speeches, such reforms never happened. Instead, she said, the council stayed silent on violent repression in Venezuela, a member state, and welcomed another country with a problematic record of its own, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“The council ceases to be worthy of its name,” Haley said, explaining the U.S. withdrawal. “Such a council in fact damages the cause of human rights.”

Trump’s diplomatic team is not the first within the U.S. to voice such criticism.

When the council was first established in 2006,the administration of George W. Bush withheld its membership over similar concerns. And when the Obama administration announced in 2009 that it would reverse course and seek membership, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the time, Susan Rice, said the decision was made out of a belief “that working from within, we can make the council a more effective forum to promote and protect human rights.”

Several U.S. critics, in condemning the decision Tuesday, echoed precisely this desire for reform as a principal reason to stay in the council, not leave it.

“The UN Human Rights Council has always been a problem. Instead of focusing on real human-rights issues, the council has used its time and resources to bully Israel and question Israel’s legitimacy as a sovereign state,” Rep. Eliot Engel, the ranking Democratic member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in a statement Tuesday. “But the way to deal with this challenge is to remain engaged and work with partners to push for change.

“By withdrawing from the council, we lose our leverage and allow the council’s bad actors to follow their worst impulses unchecked — including running roughshod over Israel.”

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said the U.S. focus on Israel’s treatment has actually caused American officials to lose sight of the good work the council has done elsewhere.

“The U.N. Human Rights Council has played an important role in such countries as North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan, but all Trump seems to care about is defending Israel,” Roth said in a statement to NPR. “Like last time when the U.S. government stepped away from the Council for similar reasons, other governments will have to redouble their efforts to ensure the Council addresses the world’s most serious human rights problems.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, seen earlier this year during a presentation on the conflict in Syria. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador Nikki Haley announced that the U.S. will be withdrawing from the council.
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

And Richard Gowan, a fellow at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation, told NPR’s Michele Kelemen that there is another potential issue muddying the waters of this decision: the recent condemnations leveled at the Trump administration’s immigration policies by international human-rights officials.

In a span of less than two months, U.S. officials have separated some 2,300 children from their parents after they crossed the border into the U.S., according to the Department of Homeland Security. And the administration’s policy has attracted a sharp rebuke from the U.N. high commissioner on human rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein.

“The thought that any State would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,” he said Monday, in comments opening the 38th session of the Human Rights Council.

Hussein pointed to criticism from the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who referred to the border policy as “government-sanctioned child abuse.” And the commissioner noted that the U.S. remains the sole U.N. member not to ratify the Convention of the Rights of the Child, a landmark agreement passed nearly three decades ago.

Pompeo, however, said the matter is simple: The U.N. Human Rights Council is not capable of fulfilling its mission without reform — and those desired reforms remain unfulfilled.

“The Human Rights Council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy, with many of the world’s worst human-rights abuses going ignored and some of the world’s most serious offenders sitting on the council itself,” he said Tuesday. “The only thing worse than a council that does almost nothing to protect human rights is a council that covers for human-rights abuses — and is therefore an obstacle to progress and an impediment to change.”

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