National Mobilization to Oppose NATO, War

Still Media From Venezuela Support In DC

Thank you for all who have stood up to the corporate hegemony and the U.S. oligarchy, NATO, War and their evil plans for the people of Venezuela.

Remember it is always the children and the women that suffer most.
Peace is possible.

Wage Peace At Wars Pace.

Slideshow and Download

Credits and Thank you Ted Majdosz

https://photobyted.smugmug.com/SOAW/National-Mobilization-to-Oppose-NATO-War-and-Racism/

 

WBW News: Unwelcoming NATO Video

E-NewslettersWorld

It’s almost time to unwelcome NATO!

Watch and share this new video about our upcoming events on April 3rd and 4th.

We now know where the NATO nations’ foreign ministers will be meeting on the 4th as well as what NATO will be up to on the 3rd. We’ll be publicly unwelcoming NATO on both the 3rd and 4th. Check out our plans and join in atnotoNATO.org. To be in on the planning for the 4th, sign up for and attend the preparations on the 3rd.​​

Our plans for an awesome peace festival on April 3rd include an amazing lineup of speakers, musicians, comedians, nonviolent action trainers, and facilitators of artistic creation in preparation for April 4. We’ll be livestreaming from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. ET at youtube and facebook.

LEARN MORE AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT

Other No to NATO events in Washington DC:
Saturday, March 30 @ 1:00 p.m. Rally at Lafayette Park
Saturday, March 30 @ 7:30 p.m. Songs of Struggle
Sunday, March 31 Concert for Peace and to End War
Sunday, March 31 
Anti-NATO Conference
Monday, April 1 
Meeting of the International Network “No to War – No to NATO” at the AFSC Office 1822 R St. NW 10:00 to 3:00
Tuesday, April 2 No to NATO – Yes to Peace and Disarmament Counter-Summit
Thursday, April 4 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Black Alliance for Peace program at Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, 5301 N Capitol St., NE, Washington D.C. “No Compromise, No Retreat in the Fight to End Militarism and War”

Lodging for the nights of 2nd and 3rd is available.

Other No to NATO events elsewhere:
March 21-27: Solidarity trip to Belgrade
March 25: Canada out of NATO in Hamilton
March 27: Canada out of NATO in Toronto
March 30: Yes to Peace – No to NATO in Toronto
March 30: Conference and Rally in Saskatchewan
March 30: No to NATO action, Parliament Hill, Ottawa
April 4: No to NATO events in Oslo, Norway
April 7: Conference in Florence, Italy
Monthly: NATO protests in Toronto

Original Post: https://worldbeyondwar.org/wbw-news-unwelcoming-nato-video/

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/

U.S. Peace Activists in Venezuela: Nothing to Fear

U.S. Peace Council in Venezuela.
Send it to your TV and newspapers and all your social media. We must stop the US from doing this to Venezuela.

The Black Alliance for Peace joined activists from peace organizations based in the United States to embark as a delegation to Venezuela to uncover the truth. They are reporting to you today, the day they were supposed to fly back to the United States. While American Airlines refuses to fly to Venezuela because of so-called danger, this delegation found the embattled country pleasant and safe.

Video credit: Popular Resistance

Learn more about the U.S. intervention in Venezuela: https://blackallianceforpeace.com/newsletter/bapheadstovenezuela

Yemeni War Deaths Have Been Underestimated by 5 to 1

Civilian casualties in the three-year horror in Yemen has been vastly underestimated by mainstream organizations, reports Nicolas Davies.

Total Deaths in Yemen
Top More Than 100,000

By Nicolas J. S. Davies

An NGO responsible for reporting on war deaths in Yemen has acknowledged that it has underestimated the casualties in the three-year-old conflict by at least five to one.

Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project had originally estimated that about 10,000 people had been killed in the war in Yemen, roughly the same number reported by the World Health Organization. WHO surveys are regularly cited as estimates of war deaths in Yemen by UN agencies and the world’s media.  But ACLED now estimates the true number of people killed in Yemen is probably between 70,000 and 80,000.

ACLED’s estimates do not include the thousands of Yemenis who have died from the war’s indirect consequences, such as starvation and preventable diseases like diphtheria and cholera. UNICEF reported in December 2016 that a child was dying every 10 minutes in Yemen, and the humanitarian crisis has only worsened since then.  At that rate the total of all deaths caused directly and indirectly by the war must by now be more than one hundred thousand.

Yemen: More civilian deaths than previously reported. (Abdo Hyder/AFP/Getty Images)

Another NGO, the Yemen Data Project, revealed in September 2016 that at least a third of Saudi-led airstrikes, many of which involve U.S.-built and (until Friday U.S.-refueled warplanes) using U.S.-made bombs, were hitting hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, and other civilian targets. This has left at least half the hospitals and health facilities in Yemen damaged or destroyed, according to the Yemen Data Project, leaving them hardly able to treat the casualties of the war or serve their communities, let alone to compile meaningful figures for the WHO’s surveys.

Even comprehensive surveys of fully functioning hospitals would capture only a fraction of the violent deaths in a war-torn country like Yemen, where most of those killed in the war do not die in hospitals. And yet the UN and the world’s media have continued to cite the WHO surveys as reliable estimates of the total number of people killed in Yemen.

Dramatically Wrong

In a three-part series for Consortium News in April, I claimed that such estimates of civilian deaths in U.S. war zones were likely to be  dramatically wrong  because that is what epidemiologists have found whenever they have conducted serious mortality studies based on well-established statistical principles in war zones around the world.

Epidemiologists recently used some of the same techniques to estimate that about 3,000 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Studies in war-ravaged Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been widely cited by Western political leaders and the Western media with no hint of controversy.

Some of the same public health experts who had worked in Rwanda and Congo used the same methods to estimate how many people had been killed as a result of the U.S. and U.K.’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. In two studies they published in the Lancet medical journal in 2004 and 2006, they found that about 600,000 people had been killed in the first three years of war and occupation.

White and red flags, representing Iraqi and American deaths, in the quad of Oregon State University campus. (Wikimedia Commons)

Broad  acceptance of these results would have been politically disastrous for the U.S. and UK governments. It would also have further discredited the Western media that had supported the invasion of Iraq and were still blaming the Iraqi victims of the illegal invasion of their country for the violence and chaos of the occupation.  The British Defence Ministry’s chief scientific advisor described theLancet studies’ design as “robust” and their methods as “close to best practice,” and British officials admitted privately that they were “likely to be right.  The U.S. and UK governments nonetheless launched a concerted campaign to discredit them.

No Scientific Basis

In 2005, as American and British officials and their acolytes in the corporate media discounted his work, Les Roberts, the lead author of the 2004 study, told the UK media watchdog Media Lens, “It is odd that the logic of epidemiology embraced by the press every day regarding new drugs or health risks somehow changes when the mechanism of death is their armed forces.”

Roberts, at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health at the time of the 2004 study and now at Columbia, accurately said there was no legitimate scientific basis for the objections being raised to his work and its results. But it was not so odd that embattled political leaders would use all the tools at their disposal to try to salvage their careers and reputations—and to preserve the U.S. and UK’s future freedom of action to destroy countries that stand in their way.

By 2005, most Western journalists in Iraq were hunkered down in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, reporting mainly from the CENTCOM briefing room. If they ventured out, they were embedded with U.S. forces traveling by helicopter or armored convoy between fortified U.S.bases. Dahr Jamail was one of a few brave, un-embedded Americans reporting from Iraq. (He later named his book about his time there Beyond the Green Zone.) Dahr told me he thought the true number of Iraqis killed might well be even higher than the Lancet studies’ estimates and that it was certainly not much lower, as the Western propaganda machine insisted it was.

Unlike Western governments and the Western media in the  Iraq case, and UN agencies and the same Western media in Afghanistan and Yemen, ACLED does not defend its earlier, inadequate estimates of war deaths in Yemen. Instead, it is conducting a thorough review of its sources to come up with a more realistic estimate of how many people have been killed. Working back from the present, it now estimates that 56,000 people have been killed since January 2016.

Andrea Carboni of ACLED told Patrick Cockburn of The Independent newspaper in Britain that he believes ACLED’s estimate of the number killed in three and a half years of war on Yemen will be between 70,000 and 80,000 once it has finished reviewing its sources back to March 2015, when Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and their allies started the war.

But the true number of people killed in Yemen is inevitably even higher than ACLED’s revised estimate. As I explained in my Consortium News report, no such effort to count the dead by reviewing media reports, hospital records, and other “passive” sources, no matter how thoroughly, can ever fully count the dead amid the widespread violence and chaos of a country ravaged by war.

This is why epidemiologists have developed statistical techniques to produce more accurate estimates of how many people have really been killed in the world’s war zones. The world still waits for that kind of genuine accounting of the true human cost of the Saudi-U.S. war in Yemen and, indeed, of all America’s post-9/11 wars.

Original articles: https://consortiumnews.com/2018/11/12/yemeni-war-deaths-have-been-underestimated-by-5-to-1/

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/09/106941/

A earlier version of this article appeared on CounterPunch.

Nicolas J.S. Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He also wrote the chapter on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

War, what is it good for?

Op ed by Keith Brumley March 2019

 

Edwin Starr, in his 1970 hit single asked “War, what is it good for?” His catchy answer was “absolutely nothing!”

On the face of it Mr. Starr’s point seems obvious. But if so why has the United States engaged in seemingly endless war in places like Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan and Iraq, since Mr. Starr’s song hit the charts? Why are policy makers in Washington D.C. fomenting for more war in Venezuela and Iran? Apparently, war is good for something as the U.S. continues engaging it.

Perhaps our policy makers, being graduates of Ivy League schools, know something of war’s benefits of which mere commoners are unaware? Perhaps they believe endless war is a means to maintaining and sustaining the affluent lifestyle we enjoy in the Unites States?

One argument may be jobs. Isn’t it true the defense industry is a major source of jobs for Americans? After all, President Trump was willing to turn a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s murdering of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to keep an arms deal in place to “save American jobs.”

While it is true that companies like Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin make many billions of dollars manufacturing and selling their weapons to the Pentagon and countries like Saudi Arabia, profits are concentrated in the hands of the 1% – the CEOs and shareholders. War is “good” for them. Not so much for the rest of us. Certainly not for people on the receiving end of those weapons, like the war-torn victims of Yemen.

Professor Heidi Garrett-Peltier, in a 2017 studyLinks to an external site. published by Brown University’s Watson Institute, found that “federal spending on domestic programs in health care, education, clean energy and infrastructure creates more jobs, dollar for dollar, than military spending.” The reality, as David Swanson of World Beyond War notes, is “spending those same dollars on peaceful industries, on education, on infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people would produce more jobs and in most cases better-paying jobs.”

So it turns out, while war may be “good for” CEOs and shareholders of war profiteering corporations, it’s not for the rest of us. Taxpayers would get a bigger bang for the buck if we funneled money away from the Department of Defense and instead poured that money into funding Medicare for all, free college education, repairing and replacing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and enacting a “Green New Deal.” It would produce more and better jobs. And best of all, no more bombs ripping through school buses in Yemen.

Okay, but surely Americans are wealthier and happier because of our bellicose belligerence, right? Surely we enjoy lower “prices at the pump” and have a greater sense of security because of our endless wars?

In a word, no.

The U.S. contains roughly 5% of the world’s population but consumes nearly 30% of the world’s natural resources. If the rest of the world consumed like us we’d need several more planets to sustain all that consumption.

Even with all this consumption, the United States did not make the top 10 list of the World Economic Forum’s “happiest countries in the worldLinks to an external site.” in 2018 (we were 18th). That honor went to Finland, followed closely by Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Oddly, these countries aren’t making war on anyone at present. Perhaps the adage is true – “Anything war can do, peace can do better.”

The U.S. did lead the field in one area – anti-depressant use. Clearly endless war isn’t making us happier or more secure.

In fact, the imperialist policies of the United States make Americans less secure. It may seem strange but most people resent invading armies, drone strikes in the middle of the night, and covert CIA operations toppling their elected governments. That tends to make enemies, not friends.  

Imagine the friends the United States would have the world over if we spent even a third of the trillion dollar (yes, with a “T”) defense related budget to provide medicine, food, shelter, roads, bridges, and education to countries we presently bomb or occupy with military bases? Rather than being viewed as the most threatening country to world peaceLinks to an external site., the United States would be the most loved.

Bloated “defense” budgets and endless war does not produce “good jobs,” does not make us wealthier or happier, and does not make us more secure.

So, back to Edwin Starr’s question – “War, what is it good for?”

He was right. “Absolutely nothing!”

 

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 – how the coup is planned

– Kevin Zeese
Those in solidarity with Venezuela and opposed to US imperialist regime change need to understand what is planned in the US/oligarch coup so we can innoculate the US public to the misinformation that is going to be widespread.

We interviewed Dan Cohen who wrote a great article with Max Blumenthal on the ten-year effort by US regime change operatives to train the coup president Guaido, see The Making of Juan Guaidó: How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader.

Margaret Flowers and I interviewed Cohen on our podcast, one thing we learned was that there are 1,000 CANVAS operatives in Venezuela. CANVAS got its start with US-funded and organized color revolutions in the Soviet bloc. Cohen got this information from the person in Florida paying for them – a former president of the Venezuelan oil company before it was made into a publicly owned company. Listen to the podcast here, The Rise Of A Fake President In Venezuela.

The coup campaigners are using color revolution strategies in Venezuela. They are in the midst of a humanitarian aid campaign against Venezuela, an excuse for humanitarian intervention. See Venezuela: US Pursuing Humanitarian Aid Path To War. That’s right the US conducts an escalating economic war since 2004, starves the economy and brings suffering to the people and then “saves them” with humanitarian assistance. Grotesque. The US as a humanitarian savior is the narrative they are going to try and sell the US public and the world. It is a bubble of BS that needs to be pierced.
One of the tactics will be to set up “humanitarian pathways” in Venezuela. They intend to get the people protesting for humanitarian aid (of course it will be a subset of people who are involved in this fake coup and oppose Maduro, but the crowds will look large). Those CANVAS organizers are very likely in the process of doing that organizing right now. One news report said this would begin after February 12.
One goal of the humanitarian aid gimmick is to divide the military, i.e. make them choose between staying loyal to Maduro and fighting US imperialism or getting aid to people in Venezuela who are struggling. Color Revolution strategists know that dividing the military from the president is the most important ingredient to a successful regime change operation. It increases the success of the regime change significantly.

Those opposed to US domination of Venezuela need to be ready for this as the media is likely to be filled with images of Venezuelans calling for humanitarian aid. This will confuse people who do not realize this is orchestrated by US/oligarch regime change campaigners. This tactic will not be easy for Venezuela to combat. They are going to need a lot of help fighting back against US imperialism and an oligarch coup disguised as a people’s revolt.

Please share this with people who oppose US imperialism in Venezuela and elsewhere.

KZ
@KBZeese
Build power and resistance
Popular Resistance

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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