Venezuela - the beat goes on

An ex-general of Venezuela interviewed on CNN said his country is being taken over by Cuban military. It made me wonder.

Later I read this rather interesting comment,

"Where is the outcry of the free world about the invasion of Cuban troops in Venezuelan soil? The silence or omission of the press about this..." by Susana Font-Fontenot, NYT (2/25)

This petroleum-rich neighbor would certainly be a feather in Cuba's cap, assuming they could keep a string of Ma-burros in the presidency there, and an army of street toughs as their dupes.

As for the protests and police overreaction, it seems to have had a simple beginning:

"The crisis started on Feb. 4, when a group of student activists in the Andean city of San Cristóbal took to the streets to protest the crime wave ravaging their campus. The Police Department’s failure to respond to the sexual assault of a first-year student sent students out en masse to demand that the state protect them. The government’s response was a brutal police crackdown, not against the rape suspect, but against the student protesters."

It wasn't just riot police overreacting.

"The government has also mobilized its sprawling propaganda apparatus — newspapers and radio stations, half a dozen TV stations, hundreds of websites — in a concerted campaign of vilification to demonize the protest leaders as a shadowy fascist cabal in cahoots with American imperialists."

Protesting students chant:

“No way! No way!

I’m not going to take

The Cuban-style dictatorship

You’re shoving in my face.”

reported by Francisco Toro, 2/24 NYTimes, (his website: Caracas Chronicles)

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OAS Resolution

There is an OAS resolution with regard to Venezuala. See it in Spanish or English.

From the resolution:

Its appreciation, full support, and encouragement for the initiatives and the efforts of the democratically-elected Government of Venezuela and all political, economic, and social sectors to continue to move forward with the process of national dialogue towards political and social reconciliation, in the framework of full respect by all democratic actors for the constitutional guarantees of all.

I initially heard about it from a tweet that emphasized that it did not say what the US or Canada wanted.

Check the footnotes

They mention Panama and the US.

How and why article

If we read the US mainstream media we quickly forget that Venezuela is a democracy with one of the best voting systems in the world, a popular government and frequent elections. An article in Truth-Out is a big help in explaining what is happening and why it is happening now.

Last December, Venezuela held municipal elections that the opposition purposely turned into a referendum on the Maduro presidency. Despite the opposition’s winning of several important areas in Caracas and the city of Maracaibo the government sponsored coalition (Polo Patriotico) won over 70% of the country’s municipalities. The election results revealed that the opposition had not won over the majority despite the country’s serious economic problems and the loss of the charismatic Hugo Chávez as leader of the left.

There is a lot in the article including the tactics being used by the radical right to attempt to make Venezuela ungovernable. And, possibly more important, why the press is not out there documenting what is really happening. The article doesn't whitewash real economic problems -- it just offers real insight into the fact that the majority continues to support the democratically elected government.

Maburro breaks diplomatic ties...

On the first anniversary of the death of the Hugorilla, beloved to all (sic), Maburro broke diplomatic ties with Panama for having the temerity to request an OAS meeting regarding the mess that is Venezuela.

Apparently Panama is, according to the bus driver cum Presidente, a lackey of the imperialists and part of a (vast?) right-wing conspiracy to bring down his [non-functional] government.

The question on my mind is why doesn't Maburro break diplomatic relations with the Empire? Why doesn't he stop selling his (dirty-sulfurous-costly-to-refine) oil to the Empire?


Suppose Panama closes the canal to Venezuela? Where would Nicaragua turn for oil?

Yesterday's news commentary

"While European and American diplomats have flooded into Ukraine ..., Venezuela’s crisis has been largely ignored by the outside world." (89-year-old Jimmy Carter might visit in April. The Pope had commented on it.)

"... Latin America (has) changed in the Chávez era. The United States has lost almost all leverage. Made into a propaganda whipping boy by the regime, it has mostly responded by backing away."

Jackson Diehl, WashPost

"This is the Age of Reluctance, a time when American power is dominant but no longer determinant. Americans have turned inward. The president must lead."

Roger Cohen, NYTimes

It's an opportunity

Latin America has become more united -- mostly because they have become more able to meet all their own needs. The most obvious example is Brazil because of its industrial out from Stihl chain saws to Mercedes buses but most of the region is no longer what we thought of as the third world. Europe, of course, is more integrated by the EU. It's a time when might makes right is much harder to make work.

The opportunity is for the US to try to lead by example. There are lots of areas where the might industry could be producing things that would improve life for joe average. For example, instead of Boeing making cruise missiles they could be designing transportation systems. We have used a criteria system where cruise missiles don't have to be cost-effective but we won't build a light rail system unless we can show that it will pay for itself.

I translate that into being willing to blow up someone else's government we don't like but not being able to cut Joe Average's commute to work from one hour to 15 minutes. Helping Joe Average can be an example.

Global capitalism

. . . has seen Latin America as an attractive place to invest, not just due to low labor cost due to a history of serfdom. All that sun & sand, fertile soil & beautiful women, in places near the bottom of the economic dogpile, makes for great growth potential. R.O.I. Profit.

Don't be so quick to throw out the profit motive. It's the US gov't that makes making missles & drones profitable. Why? Fear. They see the whole feckin world, except the Brits & Irish, as being anti-American. They're out to destroy the USA, Bubba. And the poorest Latinos risk all they're worth for a chance to work like better-paid slaves here.

I'm all for greater infrastructure investments - everywhere. But somebody has to pay for 'em. Who? Solution: make all on this continent Americans, open all borders (no customs, no migra), make the actions of gov't transparent to all who care to check, and tax the rich everywhere far past the point where they start squealing.

make all on this continent Americans

What? and make all Ukrainians Russians?

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)

just those in the Crimea . . .

No, we need enemies. Who else could gov'ts blame for the deep septic holes the dig themselves into?

Hey, the ol' USA is slowly but surely becoming Latin-Americanized, altho some refer to all those migrants upon whom the economy depends as "los burros de Troya" (Trojan donkeys, if you will). And that latino families in the States love & support kids all thru life (versus referring to them as rug-rats & being happy to see them gone) - all of which is changing electoral demographics. Just think of what Cuban-Americans were able to do in Florida (& beyond), then multiply by 50.

And the proud Latinos of the south are becoming more gringo-like daily, what with all the Disney movies, cable TV & internet. And burgers, fried chicken, obesity & diabetes, cars, trucks and supermarkets, &c. Heck, most schools here require that they learn 'Ingles'. Imaginate! And all the confused latino intellectuals struggling so to understand a post-Marx world, and that America has become so socialistic it's taking care of large numbers of their Latin American poor. Sometimes it don't seem fair to all the petty political power lords.

Boeing makes too much from things that blow up

The advantage of weapons is that they blow up rather quickly and the military industrial complex needs new ones. A very well built transportation system is good for probably 30 years with maintenance. Not the win that crashing a few jets in training and combat is.

Rebecca Brown

Tyranny Will Win Out

if given the chance . .

Putin is a young man, the eastern half of Ukraine will probably be ceded to Russia eventually. He has visions of a Russian empire. If Putin has to create alliances with some of the tinpots in the Caribbean to achieve that goal, well, the US has done the same or worse.

OUR president dreams of more food stamps, and playing basketball with Reggie. A pretty low bar. Snowden might have made the right choice.

While Ortega will probably be a benevolent tyrant, some familiar successor might not be. Venezuela, and now with Ecuador's Correa doing an "Ortega", will move in that direction. The Venezuelan students see that handwriting on the wall.

The hypocrisy of Assange' WikiLeaks and Correa's repression of the press in his country has always amused me,,, not that there isn't plenty of hypocrisy in our country.

We isolated Cuba precisely because it was a police state and a tyrannical regime. Cuba is not a bad place to live as long as you towed the line. They did a lot of things right: education, healthcare, economic equality. Step over the line and you spent some time with your head in a bucket of filth, gasping for air. Nicaragua has done a bit of that in the past . . . . .it seems Ortega's challenge is to manage the economy to minimize discontent, and provide opportunity --as long as it's under the FSLN umbrella.

It's true, Boeing's defense systems business is enormous. They made large profits retrofitting conventional weapons with more precise guidance systems. This has meant more bad guys killed, and less collateral damage to women and children. They are a well run outfit, take good care of their employees.

The Taliban will very shortly take over Afghanistan again. I mourn for the next generation of young girls who will never have the chance to go to school. At least the country isn't big on genital mutilation. Probably the biggest geopolitical mistake of my generation was losing our focus in Afghanistan with our invasion of Iraq. Had we spend that treasure in Afghanistan, we might have accomplished some generational changes.

sad part about russia

with their sad legacy of tsarism and communism, they should have taken a time out and do what Japan did after WW2, undo their past politics and build a strong economy and democracy. Seems they are going for a Post-marxist empire. Watch out world, here come the Ruskies!

Drones are neat--Drones save lives.

``Socialism works fine until you run out of other peoples` money``

Margaret Thatcher

Japan had a pre-war start on democracy

and MacArthur who basically did land reform (broke down the feudal estates and gave the land to the peasants) and legalized any party that wasn't actively caught with guns in their hands trying to throw out the Americans (he legalized the Japanese CP, which is a very interesting CP and part of the loyal opposition that keeps Japan from sending all memories of WWII down the memory hole).

Japan went through a revolution in the 19th Century and some of the adventures in the 20th Century were perhaps still working out that. The Navy was much less convinced that the East Asian Co-Properity Sphere was a good thing and Yamamoto basically was told to plan Pearl Harbor or get tried for treason.

Countries have their own histories. Japan got thoroughly occupied. Russia hasn't been occupied by anyone since the Tartars. For that, they destroyed Genghis Khan's spirit lance when they got their hands on it in the 1960s.

Rebecca Brown

Bankers' war

It has all the ingredients; poor economic conditions, foreigners stirring up locals and donating $ billions to opposition oligarchs, the IMF, and an enemy to demonize. Understandably, Russia is interested in the Crimea where the home port of their Black Sea fleet is located.

Naturally, the newly appointed former Central banker PM follows the IMF's bidding, so on Monday, they auction off Ukraine's national oil and gas company. Who needs drones when you can strike with such surgical precision to steal another country's oil & gas?

The only positive news is that the sides are meeting. And in what seems like a boondoggle, they're meeting now, in Paris in the springtime. :-)

" ...Bottom line: all governments suck. ..."

Finally something we can all agree on!

Humans are tragic

The species has some features that may be bugs. Governments are made up of humans, humans are flawed.

The arguments against the left governments of various flavors need to show a real alternative to them, and it's not in the past of any of these countries. Most Europe was in as much of a hole in the 19th and 20th Centuries until after WW II, and a mixed economy was what seems to have worked in getting them out. What appears to work is a higher tech culture in a country with lots of natural resources. Jump starting an economy from oil/coal/iron ore works -- see Mexico. Jump starting an economy from nada requires Swiss levels of political maneuvering in a Europe that crazy for 400 years. What's needed here is someone with high level skills at playing the super powers off against each other for the win, without blowing any one of them off to the point of funding the opposition.

The trick is to make everyone relatively happy and convinced that this system is the best of all possible systems. If people are starving in the street, anyone who promises killing their enemies and making the world a better place for them tends to be all too interesting as a solution. See Mao. Systems that do provide basic education, health care, systemic infrastructure work (they're doing some of that right now outside my door), and public works projects tend to look better than systems that don't.

There are a number of ways to get from a basic agricultural economy with hand labor to a complex economy that has surpluses enough to support social programs and good education -- Japan basically had an emperor who allied with the peasantry and merchants against the nobility, who were happy being on top with a puppet emperor. The US destablized that with Perry's ships, and Japan worked out a system of state-funded capitalism that seems to have worked quite well until it clashed with the British Empire in the fight for access to raw materials in Asia. Japan lost WWII, but like Germany, came out with a very high tech culture (and so little interest in agriculture in the present generations that farm land was surprisingly cheap when I asked an expat living there about it).

Humans ruin any utopian system. We need another species of sophonts. :).

Rebecca Brown

TRNN report

Here is a bit more from people who are actually there from TRNN.

SULLIVAN: Yes. You know, that really speaks to my situation. I've lived in Venezuela for almost 30 years, but I was actually away. I was in Guatemala when the protests began on February 12. I've only been back for a week. So I was not here for, really, the beginning and perhaps the strongest outpour of these--what we call the guarimbas, these really--these blockades.

However, you know, from the outside, I thought Venezuela was a country that was totally falling apart with its civil war, reminiscent of what I had lived in 1989, what we called the Caracazo, or the phase leading up to the coup in 2002.

But, again, my experience, having arrived in Caracas about eight days ago, traveling around Caracas, downtown areas and here in Barquisimeto for the past week, you would be hard to know that it's the same country that's being portrayed in the international media. News report?

Had me going for a moment.

Yes, the consensus, as I read it, is that Maduro's government won't be toppled anytime soon. As badly as things are going for the many rich & large middle class who knew better times, there are a lot of poor for whom life is better. Those investments are now paying political dividends.

From yesterday's Washington Post, Laura Tillman and Nick Miroff wrote,

"Maduro and the United Socialist Party founded by Chávez control 20 of Venezuela’s 23 state governments, as well as the Supreme Court, parliament and, the most important, the military and the national oil company. In the poor and working-class barrios where Chávez provided new schools, medical clinics and subsidized housing, loyalty to the government remains strong."

"Opposition leaders have said they want to force Maduro out through legal means, but the Venezuelan constitution doesn’t allow for a recall process until 2016."

Maybe, But There

is definitely an agenda here,, read the one line bios of the contributors, and scan the sidebars: . . . ."Did The US Carry Out a Ukrainian Coup?"

I found this relevant in the comments:

“No sacaremos a la gente de la pobreza para que sea oposición”, afirmó ministro venezolano. Which translated means "We will not get the people out of poverty because they could become the opposition"

There seems to be quite a bit of this attitude in Nicaragua as well. We'll throw them a bone in terms of a bit better healthcare, electricity, food,, but we really don't want competition from the poor. And we like the wage we pay our maid and gardener.

Meanwhile the top 1% of the "socialists" live very high on the hog -as they do in Nicaragua, North Korea, Venezuela (but in all fairness, less so in Cuba). It's odd how the left is so supportive of dictatorships, as long as they are socialist or communist.

And for the right ...

And the right (and in my book that includes Obama) are so supportive of dictatorships as long as they are capitalist or corprotratic. (Yes, I just made that word up.) Case in point, silencing whistleblowers.

Bottom line: all governments suck.


is this the word you needed?

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)

Not that different from the US, then

Certainly true of the US South when I was a child.

One of the thing some people don't understand is that if the alternative to being rich and in charge is being poor and powerless, anyone with power and money is going to do any thing they can to keep that power and money. Politics left or right don't really matter.

However, it's really hard to argue with better health care, electricity, food if the alternatives are dying in childhood or in one's fifties or sixties, or starving to death, and having electricity helps a lot in studying.

Rebecca Brown

From truth-out

See the Truth Out article

This article seeks to address many of the common statements heard by the opposition and the US government about Venezuela because there are so many obviously false statements being made by both. The United States wants Americans to be confused because it does not want us to know that participatory democracy is possible, that people can be empowered to manage their lives and that there are alternatives to the big finance capitalism model that is failing in the United States.

Below are responses to four falsehoods followed by one truth you will not hear in the US media.

Executive summary

If you're short on time, here's the executive summary:

It's all the fault of the Empire in league with Corporate Media.

/summary [although I'm still chuckling that any intelligent person would link to the article or believe it was anything other than an amateurish hatchet job]

Thanks for your help

That is, at debunking the points the article made. You need to remember not all of us are as smart or well-connected as you are. :-)

CNN's Ireport also has an article

It could be these troops are there to protect Cuban interests such as it's embassy, but they could play a more active role as well. It would be nice to hear what the Obama administration's view is.

Another interesting article:

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)

Cuba is there to protect

Cuba is there to protect their oil nipple and the "revolution".

I Wish Them


I don't think BHO has the balls to help anyone; nor the interest in helping anyone but himself. Besides these are his fellow travelers. He wants to see Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea succeed, not fail. Not that many commies left in the world . .. .becoming endangered.

The US does have some assets in Colombia, and a pipeline into the country. Perhaps some help will come from that direction.

Cubans have a history of nasty torture,, just part of being a police state. Nothing personal.

last night

I was wondering if Colombia would take this opportunity to make a major move against FARC. With Venezuela being distracted right now, it may be a good time. Then again, a Colombian incursion into Venezuelan territory to attack FARC may just unite both sides in Venezuela against Colombia.

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)