President Maduro: An open letter to thePeople of the USA

Nicolas Maduro writes:

“If I know anything, it is about peoples, such as you, I am a man of the people. I was born and raised in a poor neighborhood of Caracas. I forged myself in the heat of popular and union struggles in a Venezuela submerged in exclusion and inequality. I am not a tycoon, I am a worker of reason and heart, today I have the great privilege of presiding over the new Venezuela, rooted in a model of inclusive development and social equality, which was forged by Commander Hugo Chávez since 1998 inspired by the Bolivarian legacy.

We live today a historical trance. There are days that will define the future of our countries between war and peace. Your national representatives of Washington want to bring to their borders the same hatred that they planted in Vietnam. They want to invade and intervene in Venezuela – they say, as they said then – in the name of democracy and freedom. But it’s not like that. The history of the usurpation of power in Venezuela is as false as the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It is a false case, but it can have dramatic consequences for our entire region.

Venezuela is a country that, by virtue of its 1999 Constitution, has broadly expanded the participatory and protagonist democracy of the people, and that is unprecedented today, as one of the countries with the largest number of electoral processes in its last 20 years. You might not like our ideology or our appearance, but we exist and we are millions.

I address these words to the people of the United States of America to warn of the gravity and danger that intend some sectors in the White House to invade Venezuela with unpredictable consequences for my country and for the entire American region. President Donald Trump also intends to disturb noble dialogue initiatives promoted by Uruguay and Mexico with the support of CARICOM for a peaceful solution and dialogue in favor of Venezuela. We know that for the good of Venezuela we have to sit down and talk because to refuse to dialogue is to choose strength as a way. Keep in mind the words of John F. Kennedy: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate”. Are those who do not want to dialogue afraid of the truth?

The political intolerance towards the Venezuelan Bolivarian model and the desires for our immense oil resources, minerals, and other great riches, has prompted an international coalition headed by the US government to commit the serious insanity of militarily attacking Venezuela under the false excuse of a non-existent humanitarian crisis.

The people of Venezuela have suffered painfully social wounds caused by a criminal commercial and financial blockade, which has been aggravated by the dispossession and robbery of our financial resources and assets in countries aligned with this demented onslaught.

And yet, thanks to a new system of social protection, of direct attention to the most vulnerable sectors, we proudly continue to be a country with high human development index and lower inequality in the Americas.

The American people must know that this complex multiform aggression is carried out with total impunity and in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations, which expressly outlaws the threat or use of force, among other principles and purposes for the sake of peace and the friendly relations between the Nations.

We want to continue being business partners of the people of the United States, as we have been throughout our history. Their politicians in Washington, on the other hand, are willing to send their sons and daughters to die in an absurd war, instead of respecting the sacred right of the Venezuelan people to self-determination and safeguarding their sovereignty.

Like you, people of the United States, we Venezuelans are patriots. And we shall defend our homeland with all the pieces of our soul. Today Venezuela is united in a single clamor: we demand the cessation of the aggression that seeks to suffocate our economy and socially suffocate our people, as well as the cessation of the serious and dangerous threats of military intervention against Venezuela. We appeal to the good soul of the American society, a victim of its own leaders, to join our call for peace, let us be all one people against warmongering and war.

Long live the peoples of America!

Nicolás Maduro
President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”

by Alfonso

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Trump-Appointed Venecuela Coup Leader, Plans Neoliberal Capitalist Shock Therapy.

By Ben Norton

Venezuela’s US-appointed coup leader Juan Guaidó plans to privatize state assets and give foreign corporations access to oil, the Wall Street Journal admitted.

“Guaidó plans to implement the neoliberal capitalist shock therapy that Washington has imposed on the region for decades.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Venezuela’s US-appointed coup leader Juan Guaidó has already drafted plans for “opening up Venezuela’s vast oil sector to private investment” and “privatizing assets held by state enterprises.”

The report confirms what The Grayzone previously reported .

“Juan Guaidó, recognized by Washington as the rightful leader, said he would sell state assets and invite private investment in the energy industry,” read the Wall Street Journal’s January 31 article.

The paper noted that Guaidó plans “to reverse President Nicolás Maduro’s economic polices,” explaining:

“Mr. Guaidó said his plan called for seeking financial aide from multilateral organizations, tapping bilateral loans, restructuring debtand opening up Venezuela’s vast oil sector to private investment. It includes privatizing assets held by state enterprises … He also said he’d end wasteful state subsidies and take steps to revive the private sector.”

In other words, Guaidó plans to implement the neoliberal capitalist shock therapy that Washington has imposed on the region for decades.

“Guaidó seeks to adopt an aggressive “structural adjustment” program.”

Using funding from US-dominated international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Venezuelan coup leader seeks to adopt an aggressive “structural adjustment” program, enacting the kinds of economic policies that have led to the preventable deaths of millions of people and an explosion of poverty and inequality in the years following capitalist restoration in the former Soviet Union.

In a speech, Juan Guaidó even echoed rhetoric that is popular among US conservatives: “Here, no one wants to be given anything.”

It is clear that the coup leader’s priorities reflect those of Venezuela’s capitalist oligarchs and right-wing politicians in the United States. Economic liberalization is the Venezuelan opposition’s first and most important goal; democracy is just a pretense.

This article previously appeared on The Grayzone Project site.

by Alfonso

 

The Paralyzed Opposition

In view of Trump’s current coup attempt in Venezuela, Bernie Sanders and the Democrats fail.

With breathtaking speed and without regard to applicable law, the “Western powers” are advancing the coup d’état in Venezuela. Ten days ago, when Trump publicly signaled his support to the coup d’étatists, left-wing hopeful Bernie Sanders remained silent for a whole day. When he finally made a statement, he merely confirmed Trump’s position. He made it clear that even the US Democrats offer no alternative to Trump’s naked aggression. Shamus Cooke analyses precisely what this attitude means. Imperialist efforts abroad are not only illegitimate and inhuman, but also worsen living standards in the USA itself. After all, they devour much-needed money for social reforms.

If Trump drives the coup forward, he risks not only the welfare of the American and Venezuelan people, but also his credibility on the international stage. For while Elliot Abrams, who was already involved in the Iran-Contra affair, is working as a new “special envoy” on the completion of the coup, a militarily trained resistance supported by the spirit of the revolution is forming among the Venezuelan working class. There is the threat of a bloody civil war that threatens democracy – in Venezuela and the USA alike.

When Trump announced his support for the unfolding coup in Venezuela, Bernie Sanders remained silent for 24 hours. This is important because a coup is won or prevented in the first moments or hours; during a coup, a day can feel like a month or more. With every hour Bernie’s silence roared louder. So much hung in the balance with Trump at home and abroad, so much so that the touch of a single finger could have made the difference – but Bernie refused to lift his own. Of the many Democratic Party presidential candidates, only Tulsi Gabbard made a clear statement condemning the coup, while the favorite of the left, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, limited her criticism to a re-tweet.

While U.S. politics fought fierce battles over the government’s standstill, Trump’s coup gave the Democrats a dagger and an open flank, but they refused to stab; instead, they returned the weapon so it could be used against the democratically elected government of Venezuela. Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats went a step further and cheered on their commander-in-chief by using their platform to attack President Maduro. Trump’s position was strengthened accordingly. Instead of condemning him for violating international law, he was made to look like a responsible statesman leading a “coalition” of countries opposed to an “authoritarian dictator. The vehemently anti-Trump section of the US media closed its ranks in his favor – as it was difficult to find a dissenting opinion.

In this context, Trump was placed in an excellent position to win the war over the government’s shut down – at least until the courageous actions of airport employees quickly ended the drama. But Trump has certainly learned an important lesson: The Democratic Party’s “resistance” crumbles at critical moments when a conflict breaks out abroad, which will help promote more such moments in the future.

Bernie’s finally tweeting!

After an agonizing day of silence, Bernie finally found his voice – by tweeting three times. But their content was revealing and emphasized the weakness that had kept him silent during the first decisive day. Tweet number 1 was basically a point-by-point plagiarism of the lies Trump had used to justify the coup. Bernie tweeted: “The Maduro government has brought violent repression to the civilian population of Venezuela, violated the constitution by dissolving the National Assembly, and was re-elected last year in an election that many election observers say was rigged. The economy is a disaster and millions are leaving the country.”

Instead of attacking Trump’s coups, Bernie attacks the victim. Bernie’s assertion that the election was rigged is pure slander, as Venezuela’s elections are widely ranked among the best in the world. Every time the opposition in Venezuela believes it will lose an election, it “boycotts” it, with the opposition so divided during the last election that some boycotted participation and others supported two different anti-Maduro candidates. So, every halfway objective observer knew that Maduro would win an easy and fair victory. By providing Bernie Trump with this ammunition – the central justification for the coup – the senator simply makes himself an accomplice to a crime. Moreover, Bernie’s assertion that Maduro “dissolved the National Assembly” is not true either. Although the actual procedures were complicated, it was the Venezuelan Supreme Court – not Maduro – that dissolved the National Assembly in 2017 in response to blatant violations of the law that turned the pro-opposition National Assembly into a malfunctioning institution that only passed laws that unconstitutionally attacked Maduro’s government.

Venezuela has been in a state of dual rule since 2017, when a united government was torn in two by the pressure of class struggle and the incessant gimmicks of a US-based opposition bent on overthrowing the government. As for Bernie’s reference to the economy as “a disaster,” he certainly knows that US economic sanctions, pro-opposition immigration policies, and political threats have much to do with the situation. But he has chosen to ignore these crucial factors as they strengthen the anti-Maduro sentiment.

Encouragement of Trump’s lies

Bernie’s second tweet further strengthened the first and underpinned Trump’s action:

“The United States should support the rule of law, fair elections and self-determination for the Venezuelan people. We must condemn the use of force against unarmed demonstrators and the suppression of dissent.

The “unarmed demonstrators” Bernie talks about here are the rich opposition’s shock troops who tried to overthrow the government and led violent, deadly protests in 2017, killing more than 100 people, including at least four Maduro supporters burned alive by the opposition. Bernie knows for a fact that the opposition in Venezuela is neither peaceful nor democratic. In his third and final tweet, Bernie finally expresses his half-hearted “opposition” to Trump’s coup: “But we must listen to the lessons of the past and not engage in regime change or support for coups – as we have done in Chile, Guatemala, Brazil and the Dominican Republic. The US has a long history of inappropriate interference in Latin American countries; we must not go down that road again.”

Neutrality benefits the oppressor.”

In truth, Bernie’s position is a signal to Trump that he can count on no organized opposition to the coup and that the Democrats will limit their reaction to the coming bloodshed to criticism of Maduro.

Why imperialism matters

The question of imperialism is not an abstract one that only concerns people in underdeveloped, “exotic” countries like Venezuela. In truth, the US government’s policy of interference has a direct daily impact on US residents – ruining their living standards and at the same time making their children’s future even worse. Money spent abroad – and the policies it creates – always affects opportunities at home. Because taxpayers’ money used to destroy other governments cannot be used to make Bernie’s proposals – like health care for all, free university education, a Green New Deal, and so on. A central reason for the remarkable social systems of Western European countries is the small size of their military.mWar spending acts like an endless guaranteed veto on social programs that people in the US desperately want but are always denied – a true example of oppression abroad restricting our freedom at home.mThe article “Does Bernie Sanders’ Imperialism Matter” argues that “is Bernie Sanders’ imperialism important”?

“Imperialism is a spectrum that haunts social progress and reappears in countless forms to channel an endless stream of resources into wars abroad. This inhibits domestic spending and distracts from the demands of the working class. A new military “crisis” will always seek to take precedence over domestic considerations.”

Will the coup fail?

Some observers already dismiss Trump’s coup as a failure, as the Venezuelan military seems to be united in its support for Maduro. But the coup d’état machinery continues. US allies in Europe – France, Germany and Spain – have given Maduro eight days to hold new elections, otherwise they will recognize Juan Guaidó as president. (This article originally appeared on 29.01.2019; translator’s note) Of course, no country can hold elections within eight days; the demand simply serves as a pretext to force the coup. That European powers follow Trump into the abyss around Venezuela means that Trump has invested some political capital to persuade them to act. This coup is a significant investment that will demand compensation. The states that follow Trump usually do not break international law in such a sensational way because it is risky; therefore, the Europeans must be convinced that Trump will actually complete the coup and ensure Maduro’s downfall. Otherwise, Germany will recognize a man as president who hides shamefully underground to escape capture like an ordinary criminal.

Should Trump fail to complete the coup, the US would lose crucial credibility and it would be harder to find allies for such adventures next time. If the US recognizes a president who never becomes president, it would have political and economic consequences. For example, the US cannot afford to be a weak player on the international stage, while actively threatening China and Russia and still involved in the Syrian war, which is influenced by many states. The major powers are vehemently courting allies, and a failed coup makes one of them less competitive. A country that uses its military as a central political lever cannot afford to paint a weak picture. This is a major reason why so many of the establishment’s actors were angry at Trump for “not finishing the job” in Syria and leaving Assad in power. Since then, Trump has been hesitant.

The “Salvador Option”

Trump is therefore bound to this new venture, which will deepen in the coming days and weeks. Many expect Trump to use the “Syrian Option” – formerly known as the “Salvador Option” – which begins with the arming and training of anti-Maduro militias and ends with attacks on the government and/or pro-Maduro forces, creating the “need” for US intervention to ensure “law and order”. The rehearsals for this strategy were conducted as early as 2017, when the above-mentioned violent protests unleashed themselves, but did not provoke a crisis large enough to justify US military intervention. Such conspiracy theories were immediately believed when Trump announced during the coup that he had a new “special envoy” for Venezuela, the infamous Elliot Abrams. Abrams became known for his role in the Iran-Contra affair. He belonged to the inner circle at the center of the affair and broke laws, and he publicly stood up for the death squads – or “Contras” – who terrorized Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador; here the term “Salvador option” was born. Abrams was condemned for his role in the Iran-Contra affair, but as anticipated pardoned by George H.W. Bush – who used his office as Reagan’s vice-president to push Iran-Contra forward. In his new position, Abrams will focus on accelerating and completing the coup by holding talks with the Venezuelan military and key opposition figures, cobbling together groups willing to escalate the coup, and undoubtedly conspiring with hostile neighbors Colombia and Brazil, who can easily be lured into conflict for even the smallest concessions – Colombia has been involved for several years. Promises will be made to Venezuelan military members, who, after changing sides, will become better known as new leaders of the newly created Venezuelan military.

When Maduro falls

Abram’s approach will quickly lead Venezuela into a particularly bloody civil war, as much of the military has learned its trade under Chavez and a majority of these people are still strongly attached to the revolution and its principles. Chavism is also strengthened by the still growing Bolivian national militia of Venezuela. Here, hundreds of thousands of working class members have received military training, some of which was aimed at preparing the country for exactly the kind of coup that is underway. The Venezuelan working class will not tacitly accept a right-wing dictatorship and has both the means and the organizational structure to resist and win.mBut should Maduro’s government fall, the far-right opposition will aim to roll down the progress achieved under the Chavez and Maduro governments: rapid mass privatizations will follow, while the currency crisis will be resolved on the backs of the working class. The scale of the political and economic “corrections” will demand an enormous toll of blood as the working class organizations oppose the attacks on their living standards, democracy and dignity. The would-be president Juan Guaidó has already discussed plans to accelerate the privatization of Venezuelan oil. He also wants to turn to the IMF for austerity measures, which will demand nothing less than its typical “restructuring” stimulus programs that will attack the social programs created by Chavez and Maduro. Ironically, it was IMF austerity measures that sparked the Venezuelan Revolution almost 30 years ago in the form of the Caracazo uprisings.nIf democracy abroad can be so easily destroyed, this empowers anti-democratic forces at home.

The military-industrial complex of the USA is just as encouraged as the extreme right-wing political actors there, the most hard-boiled supporters of militarism and “trumpism”. By coups d’état fascist governments abroad, they create new allies for trumpism from forces that could have been allies of the left. These are the hidden yet real consequences of Bernie’s inaction. It serves to play down the significance of imperialism at a historic moment for the Western hemisphere.

 

Translated from German by Alfons

The the Russian program “News of the Week”

The motives of the USA for its support of the coup d’état in Venezuela were questioned and the historical background was illuminated. I translated the article.

Start of translation

President Maduro is therefore in favour of dialogue with the opposition and external interference in Venezuelan affairs is perceived as impertinence. “We return to neo-colonialism when orders are given from a European capital or from Washington to any country in Asia, Africa, Latin America or the Caribbean. Who do they think they are, that they want to make decisions here? We don’t accept any ultimatum from anyone in the world, we don’t accept blackmail,” Maduro said. And really, on what basis are the countries of the West asking Maduro to resign? It is particularly piquant when French President Macron declares that Maduro should “disappear”. Macroon’s popularity was only 28% in January. Maduro was inaugurated in January after elections in which he received 68 percent of the votes. So, which of these two “Ms” should “disappear”?

Meanwhile, the US openly set course for the overthrow of Maduro. Thus the accounts of the largest Venezuelan oil company were frozen and the transfer of part of the assets of the Venezuelan government into the hands of the fraud Juan Guaido was decided. According to US security consultant Bolton, the USA froze 7 billion dollars of the Venezuelan oil company. Imagine that: The USA expropriates the money of another state and arbitrarily gives it to some runaway uncle, who Washington himself has appointed as president of this state! For Russia, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has declared: “We understand that the United States, to put it simply, has “licked blood” and is publicly heading for an illegal regime change. Nevertheless, international law must be valid and should be defended by all available means.”

Meanwhile, China and Russia support Venezuela and continue economic cooperation with it. I named China first because it is the largest lender and investor in Venezuela. It’s about 70 billion dollars. Second place goes to American investors and lenders. According to Reuters, they “buried” about 50 billion dollars in Venezuela. Russia’s share is much lower. Money is important, but there are still things that are more valuable than money. These are principles. One of them is non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. America, for example, doesn’t like the idea of someone interfering in its elections, so why do Americans interfere so cynically and ruthlessly in Venezuela’s affairs?

There is again a lot of talk about the Monroe Doctrine. The President of the United States in the 1820s was James Monroe. He then proclaimed the doctrine according to which the two American continents are the zone of influence of the USA and the USA, in return, does not interfere in the zone of influence of the European countries on the other side of the world. But if you will allow me, they only insist on Monroe’s doctrine when it comes to Venezuela. When talking about Syria or Iraq, for example, they suddenly forget this doctrine. Sometimes it’s true, sometimes it’s not. Yes, now life in Venezuela is difficult. Maduro’s socialist methods, i.e. the direct distribution of food or the nationalisation of companies which, in the government’s opinion, sell their goods overpriced, are popular with the people, but have achieved the opposite of what was the goal. They have led to shortages, galloping inflation and a noticeable exodus of people from the country. But a coup is not medicine either. The country needs a dialogue within Venezuela and a joint search for a way out.

And the causes of economic hardship are not only to be found in the government’s current course. Until 1959, foreign oil companies paid only 26 percent taxes. This means that the profits of these foreign, and especially American and British, companies were three times as high as the share Venezuela received for its own oil. That was robbery! Therefore, in 1976, the entire oil industry of the country was nationalized. Now the Americans want to take advantage of the hour.

End of translation

by Alfonso

Venezuela and Western values

Those who want to realise freedom, the rule of law and democracy should start with themselves, within their own sphere of power and influence.

With his self-proclamation as interim president, Parliament President Juan Guaido has proclaimed himself leader of the opposition in Venezuela. His recognition by the leading forces of the West of values followed promptly. This has further intensified the power struggle between government and opposition that has been going on for years. Venezuela threatens to slide into a civil war.

Freedom, democracy and self-determination

In supporting the Venezuelan opposition, the Western community of values (WWG) is driven by nothing but the noblest motives in its public statements. Donald Trump stated: “The Venezuelan people have courageously taken the floor”(1). He also explains without digression the will of the people of Venezuela, namely nothing less than the typical Western values: “freedom and the rule of law”(2).

The EU, too, was not allowed to lag behind in defending Western values. Thus the Foreign Affairs Commissioner Mogherini hastened to inform the world and Venezuela itself: “On 23 January the people of Venezuela demanded democracy and the possibility to freely determine their own destiny”(3).

Imagine the outrage in the WWG if Russia, China or Iran were to interfere in the dispute between Trump and Pelosi in a similar way to what is now being done in Venezuela. What threats against Russia have been made solely by the hitherto unproven allegation of interfering in the American election campaign or of wanting to intervene in the forthcoming European elections? But the West is actively engaged in power politics in Venezuela, right up to the civil war, before the eyes of the world.

And what would happen if Russia threatened with sanctions in the area of gas and oil supplies to support the demands of the Yellow West in France? But the WWG has taken the liberty of threatening other peoples and states with sanctions, interventions and wars for nothing less than human rights, freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

How would one have reacted in the Catalonia conflict if Russia or China had stationed troops there and claimed airspace for themselves, as the WWG states do illegally in the Kurdish regions of Syria? Would the USA accept it inactively if Russian soldiers settled in neighbouring Canada or Mexico without the consent of the governments of these countries? Just remember how close the world was to a third world war during the Cuban crisis, because the Soviet Union wanted to take out the same thing that NATO and SEATO had done since their founding: the installation of missiles on the enemy’s doorstep.

Keeping your own house in order.

But WWG claims all this for itself on the basis of what it calls the “Western” values. But what makes them the typical “western” values or even the “only western” ones? In contrast to other peoples, are they part of a typical “western” DNA, i.e. quasi genetic, perhaps even racial? Are Western people perhaps a master race after all in the eyes of those who argue like this?

Do they believe themselves to be so superior to other peoples, societies and states that they claim to be allowed to missionize them with their own ideas of democracy and freedom and the rule of law, or even to have to missionize them? So do higher rights apply to the West of values because of the higher values that it believes it has at its disposal?

Would the states of the WWG want to be missionized by Russia, China or Iran, let their ideas of social coexistence be forced upon them? Would the West of values want to let itself be blackmailed by sanctions, instigated colour revolutions or even wars into a different lifestyle, a different politics? So why should other peoples and societies let the WWG put up with it? Only because he pretends to be value-oriented in his own opinion?

This is perhaps how one sees it in the WWG, but other peoples and societies see it differently. How else can it be explained that it is losing more and more influence in the world? The Taliban are becoming stronger and stronger in Afghanistan, to which the West’s blessings were to be brought by force of arms. They now control half of the country, forcing the Americans to negotiate the terms of their own withdrawal. In the Middle East, Russia has expanded its influence through its involvement in Syria to such an extent that the Americans are about to withdraw from the country. Relations between Russia and Turkey have improved so much that NATO’s cohesion is at risk.

But even within their own sphere of influence, the number of those who still find themselves in the Western image of the rule of law and democracy is constantly decreasing. For example, a Forsa survey states: “Almost all social institutions in Germany are losing confidence” and “such a widespread erosion of confidence has never been observed in the survey conducted over the last ten years”.(4)

Shouldn’t one rather put one’s own shop in order than want to bring salvation to other peoples that is missing in one’s own country? Those who want to realise freedom, the rule of law and democracy should start with themselves, within their own sphere of power and influence.

Ideal and material values

Or isn’t all this talk about values more about those values that you can get out of the ground and out of the market? Are these perhaps the values that the West so painfully misses in Venezuela? It’s precisely in this area that Chavez and Maduro have put a stop to the Americans. Many companies were expropriated because they wanted to let the wealth of the country benefit their own population and develop the economy according to their own ideas.

Isn’t the Western notion of freedom the same as it was before Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution, to be able to freely rule Venezuela again? In any case, Russia and China are becoming more and more important for Venezuela’s economy, not least because the Western sanctions regime prevents its own companies from trading more than the Venezuelan government itself. The importance of the Western economy for the country is declining more and more.

Now the USA has tightened the sanctions against Venezeula. This is intended to help the opposition, which is to receive the proceeds from the oil trade. The situation for a change of power seems more favourable than ever before. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung notes with relief: “Maduro’s opponents are finally united”(5). When the leading medium of the ruling class in Germany talks about the “final game in Venezuela”(6) it’s clear what it’s all about. They want new political conditions in the country, conditions that meet the interests of the value West.

Confusion of the public sphere

Since Juan Guaido’s self-appointment as interim president, the media in Germany have been trying to justify his move and thus also their own support for a politically very questionable act. It is worth recalling here how, in contrast, the Western media and states condemned the proclamation of Puigdemont as President in Catalonia as unlawful. There was no struggle for understanding. On the contrary, the media and politicians tried to portray the actions of the Catalans as unconstitutional to their own people and to provide the corresponding justifications by the obligatory “experts”. Two comparable situations lead to different behaviour and judgement. So are the values not as indivisible as they are often tried to be? So aren’t they much more dependent on situation and interests than on ethics and law?

The Western media and governments try to give their own people the impression that it is about the Venezuelan people, their freedom, their interests. In reality they know, at least the Frankfurter Allgemeine as the leading medium, that it is different and hide it under a pile of information that explains little. The view that Guaido’s actions are justified is increasingly being worked out. The people of Venezeula want it that way and the country must be saved from destruction, according to the tenor of the media.

The country has been brought to the brink of the abyss primarily by the sanctions of those who now pretend to do everything they can to save it. And the people? The FAZ describes the mood among large sections of the population in a single paragraph, while it gives page by page space to all other aspects of the crisis: “The opposition, whose representatives come mainly from the upper social strata, has never had a strong connection to the people. Even today, most Venezuelans do not identify with the opposition parties.”(7)

This is almost at the end of a full-page article somewhere and says more about the situation than the many pages with which media consumers have tried to cloud their brains. However, it says a lot about the manipulation that media consumers are being subjected to in order to share the offered point of view and support the policy against Venezuela because they consider it to be right and fair.

translated by Alfonso

 

Harsh punishment helps China’s anti-drug campaign

publisched by the Observer

China’s Liaoning Provincial High People’s Court will accept and hear the case of appellant Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a Canadian citizen, on drug smuggling charges this Saturday. It is reported that the amount of drugs that he allegedly smuggled would astonish the public if announced.
The trafficking of drugs is a felony in China, especially when the amount is enormous. According to Chinese laws, anyone caught smuggling no less than 50 grams of heroin or methyl Benzedrine or smuggling more than 1 kilogram of opium may face death penalty.
That’s why the case has triggered large-scale debates over future fate of the Canadian. Yet how the debate goes on, felony is felony. Those who committed serious crimes in China are not entitled to mercy no matter where they came from.
Reports show that China seized 89.2 tons of drugs and solved 140,000 drug-related cases during 2017. “Over 5,500 drug production and trafficking gangs were busted, with 169,000 suspects arrested,” said Xinhua News Agency. The figures mirrored Beijing’s seriousness and accomplishments in anti-drug campaigns but also demonstrated the on-going threat of illegal drug trade and use that China is confronting.
Punishing harshly drug crimes showed China’s zero-tolerance on drug offenses, which extends the same treatment to both Chinese citizens and foreigners who crossed the red line on Chinese soil. Only in this way can the nation effectively stop illegal drug trafficking outside its doorstep.
After British man Akmal Shaikh was arrested in China for entering the country carrying 4 kilograms of heroin in 2007, he was executed despite appeals from British government. However, many British netizens hailed the move and one of them noted “Well done China. It’s a shame the UK doesn’t have the same courage to deal with people like that.” Hatred against drug traffickers is pretty much the same across the world.

Drug use is bringing about 500 billion yuan ($80 billion) direct economic losses annually in China. Crimes caused by drug abuse, such as suicide, self-destructing, sabotaging others, drug-driving and assaulting police occur from time to time.
A total of 362 policemen sacrificed their lives in cracking down on drug abuse in China in 2016, which means the country is losing one police every single day for drug crimes. When some people are still spending plenty of time talking about human right of drug smugglers, they are actually putting others lives, even the entire society at danger. When they care about the human right of those condemned criminals, what should people do to the human right of the victims and their families?
This is why China is resolutely fighting against drug traffickers, and why China still practices capital punishment against the crime. When the right of legal citizens can hardly be protected, any proposal to care about felons is equivalent to crimes.
China has not abolished the death penalty based on its own history and current conditions. It is China’s sovereignty and Beijing has the right to enact and enforce its own laws. Chinese courts are exercising increasing prudence in giving death penalty, yet it won’t give the wrongdoer a way out simply because the criminal is a foreigner.

Posted by Alfonso

 

World policeman? World terrorist!

The USA “can no longer be a world policeman,” said Donald Trump. “We no longer want to be exploited by countries that use us and our incredible military to protect themselves… We are spread all over the world. We are in countries of which most people have not even heard. Honestly, it’s ridiculous.”

What a blessing for humanity it would be if Trump would end the role of the USA as “world police”. But the empire will not allow that. Whether Trump understood it or not, the US has orbited 800 to 1000 military stations around the globe, aircraft carriers on the oceans and Russia and China to secure its world domination. They wage trade wars, covert wars, drone wars and bomb wars over raw materials and markets. After the Second World War, the USA left a trail of blood all around the globe with an estimated 20 to 30 million dead and are the “world terrorist”.

It is therefore only crying if the Western community of states fears that terrorism will increase again if the USA withdraws its troops from Syria. Conversely, it becomes a shoe. Terrorism will only be defeated if the “Western community of values” stops colonizing other countries, exploiting them and covering them with wars. The prerequisite is that the USA and the Western states understand that the wars they are waging with millions of deaths are the terrorism under which humanity suffers. And that the late actor Peter Ustinov was right: “Terrorism is the war of the poor and war is the terrorism of the rich”.

The “world police” can only be the UN, which, as it was intended when it was founded, would have police forces that could be deployed worldwide. Even if the USA comes up with the idea of attacking a country. One recognizes: Worldwide disarmament, above all of the superpowers, is the condition of the establishment of a “world police”.

by Oskar Lafontaine

Translated from German by Alfonso

It´s official. We lost the Cold War.

By Dana Milbank in the Washington Post.

Perhaps the timing of George H.W. Bush´s death last month was merciful. This way he didn´t have to see America lose the Cold War.

Bush presided over the Soviet Union´s collapse in 1991. But the triumph he and others earned with American blood and treasure over 71 years, defeating the Soviet Union and keeping its successor in check, has been squandered by President Trump in just two.

Trump unraveling of the post-war order accelerated this week when he announced a willy-nilly pullout from Syria, leaving in the lurch scores of allies who participated in the campaign against the Islamic Stat, throwing our Kurdish partners to the wolves, isolating Israel, and given Russia and Iran free rein in the Middle East. Then word emerged that Trump is ordering another hasty withdrawal, from Afghanistan. Trump´s defense secretary, retired Gen. Jim Matti’s, resigned in protest of the president´s estrangement of allies and emboldening of Russia and China.

The TV series “The man in the High Castle” imagines a world in which Nazis won World War II. But we don´t need an alternative-history show to imagine a Soviet victory in the Cold War. We have Trump.

Mattis, in his memorable resignation letter (a bookend to George Kennan´s “long telegram” of 1946 wrote: “We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances. Because you have the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”

Mattis spelled out the views of his that are apparently not “aligned” with Trump´s: “treating allies with respect”, believing in the 29 NATO democracies (Trump has repeatedly raised questions about NATO´s utility); respecting the 74-nation “defeat-ISIS coalition” (now to be abandoned in Syria); and recognizing threats from China and Russia, which “want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model ….at the expense of neighbors, America and our allies.

Republicans now profess to be alarmed. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has enabled Trump at every step, says he´s “particularly distressed.” Sem. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) sees “chaos.” But that is too little, too late. Turkey says it will postpone an invasion of Syria as U.S. forces leave – the better to “bury” our Kurdish allies. And Russian President Vladimir Putin exults: “American troops should not be in Syria and have been there illegally.

Indeed, a Soviet leader hardly could have outlined a better scenario than Trump has created for Putin: A rift between the United States and NATO allies over the future of the alliance.

A U.S. demand that Russia be returning to the Group of Seven, as Russia continues provocations in Ukraine.

A U.S. threat to pull out of the World Trade Organization, and a round of U.S.-imposed tariffs that severely weakened it.

A U.S. president abandoning human rights, accepting Saudi Arabia´s murder of a U.S.-based journalist and embracing repressive leaders around the globe.

A U.S. president creating a rift with Europe over Iran (the nuclear agreement) and climate change (the Paris accord).

A U.S. president embracing as “very honorable” North Korea´s brutal dictator without any tangible concessions on nuclear weapons.

A U.S.- launched trade war that, the Federal Reserve said this week, is partially responsible for cooling worldwide growth.

Lost confidence among Americas in elections, the Justice Department, the FBI, the courts and the free press.

And the loss of a bipartisan consensus against the Russian threat. Forty percent of Republicans called Russia an ally or friend in a Gallup poll, up from 22 percent in 2014.

Way has Trump squandered so much for so little? Maybe it´s because, during the 2016 campaign, Russia was privately negotiating a business deal in Moscow with him and releasing stolen documents that hurt his Democratic opponent. (Meanwhile, Trump was praising Putin and his campaign was softening the GOP platform on Russia.) Whether special counsel Robert Mueller III concludes there was a quid pro quo, Putin clearly has benefited from Trump´s presidency.

In Helsinki, in front of the world, Trump accepted Putin´s word over that of U.S. intelligence agencies. Trump has chafed at aide’s insistence on Russia sanctions, and the few who could resist Trump´s pro-Putin instincts are gone: H.R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson, John Kelly and now Mattis.

Generations of Americans paid any price and bore burden, from Berlin to Saigon to Havana. Now, 29 years after the wall fell, Trump is handing Moscow the Cold War victory it could never win.

Comment on the journalist´s work:

This article shows how different the US is looking at itself. It wants to be the indispensable nation, which means that the only country on this earth is the United States of America. All other counties can go to hell, only we, the U.S. can do the right thing. This article shows the mainstream media, in the U.S. is so far out of thatch, that it will be almost impossible to go back to journalistic reporting, which means that you investigate before you make your conclusions.

by Alfonso

 

 

Putin has little understanding for Gorbachev’s decision in 1987 to sign the INF treaty

When Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan signed the INF Treaty in 1987, this led to the unilateral disarmament of the Soviet Union. This opinion was expressed on Tuesday by Russian President Vladimir Putin. In his own words, Putin does not quite understand what this was done for.

“Only God knows why the leadership of the USSR agreed to this unilateral disarmament, but that was done,” Putin said.

The Russian President recalled that the Soviet Union at that time had only ground-based medium and short-range missiles, while the US had also had sea- and airborne missiles of this kind. While the Soviet Union was disarming, the U.S. had continued to develop its systems not covered by the INF Treaty.

With a view to the planned withdrawal of the USA from the treaty, the Russian head of state warned against the “collapse of the entire security architecture”. At the same time, he allowed other countries to be included in the agreement.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had declared at the beginning of December that Russia had two months to “return to compliance with the INF Treaty”. If this does not happen, Washington will suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty, Pompeo said. US Deputy Secretary of State Andrea Thompson, for her part, said the US would call on Russia to abandon the 9M729 (SSC-8) missile or modify this system so that its range would not violate the provisions of the INF Treaty.

Moscow and Washington have repeatedly accused each other in recent years of violating the INF Treaty. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov remarked, Moscow has serious questions to the US regarding American compliance with the INF Treaty.

Moscow points out, among other things, that the US is deploying Tomahawk offensive cruise missiles in Romania and Poland, which the treaty prohibits. The Russian side also points out that the USA has developed attack drones and financed the research work for the construction of a land-based cruise missile.
Translatet from German to English by aöfonso

Pompeo’s arrogance apparent in intervention to press China to release two Canadians

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said two Canadian citizens being kept in custody by China are unlawfully detained and they should be returned. Pompeo made the accusation on Friday during a joint press conference after the US-Canada 2+2 ministerial meeting.

Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland also defended the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, as a decision made according to law not politics.

Earlier this week US President Donald Trump said he might step in if it is good for his country, implying that Meng’s case could be leveraged as a bargaining chip, which turns out to be an embarrassment for the Canadian government.

Canada is clamoring about how “unacceptable” it is for China to keep its people in custody, and still insisted that Meng’s arrest under US request was based on law. Ottawa is seeking support from the US, and also hopes other allies will join and step up the pressure on Beijing.

China’s judiciary is different from the US and Canada, so how could both countries be so sure that China’s detention of the two Canadians is illegal? Jurisdiction is an essential component of a country’s sovereignty. All foreign citizens in China, instead of holding the illusion that they can be protected by the laws of their home countries, must abide by the laws of China. Canadian and US foreign ministers must be fully aware of the basic principle.

The most important principle for communication between countries of different systems is mutual respect, without which there won’t be effective conversations. The US has been relentlessly employing long-arm jurisdiction, and Canada is willing to be its accomplice. Ottawa should reflect on its decision instead of blaming Beijing.

The world order is not an expansion of the legal systems and values embraced by the US and Canada. Different systems should be integrated in an inclusive environment. Insolence and arrogance, represented by the US and Canada through their blatant accusation of China, is the worst detriment to the world order.

The US and Canada have strong capability of using laws as weapons against other countries. Their propaganda machines and the Western media networks have the power to distort anything in their field. However, facts and principles are more powerful than any headline or frontpage story. China, a mega country, must make sure its national interests and security are strongly defended against any external forces.

Without compromising the bottom line, China also needs to make its law enforcement more transparent to the outside.

The US and Canada make an uproar that China’s detention of the two Canadians will jeopardize the country’s business environment. But Meng’s arrest makes a far bigger impact on the global business environment.

Canada should know that having the US’ support won’t make much difference. Fiddling with the Taiwan question is unlikely to put any pressure on Beijing. Ottawa must be aware that China has many cards to play, and going against Beijing is a bad idea. Staying away from the tensions between China and the US should be what it seeks.

By Alfonso