Tag Archive | South America

Trump Threatens ‘Strong Actions’ against Venezuela*

Trump Threatens ‘Strong Actions’ against Venezuela*

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened Venezuela with “strong economic actions.” | Photo: Reuters

Maduro defends the Bolivarian process from interference by Western capitals.

In the wake of Sunday’s national dry run vote for the National Constituent Assembly or ANC, President Nicolas Maduro has defended Venezuela’s “dignity and sovereignty” against threats by U.S. President Donald Trump, who issued a statement Monday describing Maduro as “a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator.”

“If the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions.”

Trump’s threats were repeated by the U.S. State Department which released a statement calling on “the Government of Venezuela to abandon the proposed National Constituent Assembly. ”

The threats come after record high numbers turned out to participate in a historic dry run vote for the ANC, which is aimed at easing tensions and creating a more representative constitution. Despite the mass show of public support, the event was largely ignored, as international leaders continued to criticize the Venezuelan government and demand immediate elections.

Voting in the dry run vote carried on until late evening. | Photo: teleSUR

 

White House spokesman Sean Spicer called on Miraflores to cancel the ANC and convene “free and fair elections.”

E.U. diplomat Federica Mogherini likewise urged Maduro to suspend plans to convene the ANC, noting that the move would be “an important gesture” toward de-escalating tensions.

This message was echoed by Spanish President Mariano Rajoy and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who penned an opinion piece for Spanish newspaper El Mundo criticizing the Venezuelan government.

President Maduro has reacted sharply to the criticism, telling Rajoy “get your nose out of Venezuela” while reminding the “insolent” Mogherini that “Venezuela is a free, sovereign country … not a colony of Europe.”

In defense of the ANC, Maduro recounted the Battle of Ayacucho in Peru, a concluding military victory of the Latin American revolutionary wars, when the forces of Grand Marshal Antonio Jose de Sucre decisively forced the Spanish Empire to surrender and end its rein over South America.

“Ours is a Constituent Assembly for independence, sovereignty and national dignity,” Maduro claimed.

“Let Europe say what it wants to say, we do not care what Europe says. We care about this land, our dignity, the land of the liberators of the Americas!”

The dry run vote was held Sunday in anticipation of the official July 30 vote for the National Constituent Assembly.

Given the surge of right-wing protest violence, Tibisay Lucena, president of the CNE, said Sunday that the voting exercise was particularly important to ensure that the voters can exercise their right to vote in safe conditions. She explained that part of the exercise was to identify those localities within the municipalities where the safety of voters could be threatened during the electoral event.

“We continue to evaluate measures that protect the lives and physical safety of voters because there have been expressions of fear about going to vote … We assure people that we will continue to look for measures so that they can come out and vote peacefully on voting day,” Lucena said.

Voters form queues ahead of the opening of polling booths. | Photo: AVN

 

Voters wait outside one of the polling stations. | Photo: AVN

 

While there were some reports of violence, the dry run vote was largely carried out in a festive mood. Some 496 polling centres were authorized in all the municipalities of the country, 55 of which functioned as pilot centres, according to the National Electoral Council. Nearly 1,942 voting machines were deployed in the dry run to help voters learn how to use the machines.

“It is clear that the majority of Venezuelans want peace, dialogue and a future,” Jorge Rodriguez, head of the Zamora 200 Campaign Command, said at a press conference, noting the unprecedented nature of the turnout.

“Today a new machine has been born, one that will push forward a new history, a new dawn.”

The dry run vote for the National Constituent Assembly coincided with a symbolic referendum called by the opposition which asked people to vote whether they want a constituent assembly or not; whether they want the armed forces to support the existing constitution and the decisions of the national assembly; and whether they want immediate general elections.

Venezuelans in other parts of the world as far as Miami, New York City and Spain also participated in the non-binding referendum.

Opposition leaders claimed that more than 7 million Venezuelans participated, 98% of whom opposed the assembly, but short of the 11 million they had hoped for in a country of just under 20 million eligible voters.

Source*

 

Related Topics:

Search Venezuela Opposition Destroy 50 Tons of Food*

CARICOM Deals a Blow to U.S. Plans for Regime change in Venezuela*

Countries around the World Condemn Attack in Venezuela*

Indigenous Guatemalan Campesinos Show Solidarity with Venezuela Govt*

Venezuela Top Court Confirms Constituent Assembly Will Go Ahead*

Route of Coup against Venezuela Begins at ExxonMobil*

Russia Helps Venezuela Fight Opposition’s ‘Economic War’*

The Strategy behind Washington’s Destabilization of Venezuela*

Venezuela Oil Union Workers Back Maduro’s Constituent Assembly*

Tensions on the Rise As U.S. Announces Military Drills Near Venezuela*

CARICOM Deals a Blow to U.S. Plans for Regime change in Venezuela*

CARICOM Deals a Blow to U.S. Plans for Regime change in Venezuela*

By Gerald A. Perreira

Before U.S. diplomats offer any criticism or advice to Venezuela or any other state on issues of democracy and human rights, they should first examine the behavior of their own government in relation to their undemocratic practices and policies, both internally and around the world, and their endless list of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, recently tweeted that the “U.S. State Department deployed its ambassadors in the region to attack Venezuela. We come with renewed vigor to defeat them at the OAS.”

So said, so done. The U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway, spewed the U.S. false narrative regarding Venezuela in our local newspapers. US ambassadors in a number of other Caribbean countries did the same. It was a coordinated attempt to mislead the people of Guyana and the region about what is really happening in Venezuela, and to apply pressure on members of CARICOM (Caribbean Community) and the OAS (Organization of American States) to succumb to U.S. calls for intervention, with the aim of overthrowing the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro.

U.S. diplomats in Guyana, and for that matter throughout the Global South, are not diplomats in the strict sense of the word, and can be better described as political activists. They are constantly meddling in the internal affairs of the country they are stationed in, giving directives to the compliant neo-colonial regimes and actively undermining and destabilizing independent and anti-imperialist governments, such as the government in Venezuela.

This latest U.S. psych-ops came just after the May 31st meeting of the OAS in Washington DC and just prior to the June 19th OAS meeting in Cancun, Mexico, where CARICOM member states took a firm and united anti-interventionist position in relation to the current situation in Venezuela, delivering a resounding defeat to the interventionist approach advocated by the U.S., Mexico, Peru and Panama,

Following the June 19th OAS meeting, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, said:

“Today we come with the strength of our people who took to the streets to denounce the interventionism of the Organization of American States, we come with the force of the rain of our commander Hugo Chavez. Independence and sovereignty triumphed today over the United States of America, with its brutal pressure, with its gross extortion, with its maneuvers…”

She added that the call for intervention encourages the “most violent, anti-democratic factions in our country,” and she thanked the Caribbean nations for their “deeply principled stand.”
In his letter and articles, U.S. ambassador, Perry Holloway, had the temerity to lecture Guyana and other member-states of the OAS about their obligation to democracy and human rights. He stated that:

“The diverse family of nations in the Americas recognizes democracy is a part of our collective DNA. Sixteen years ago in Peru, we underscored this principle with the adoption of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, affirming the right of the peoples of the Americas to democracy and obligating our governments to defend that right.”

I suggest that before U.S. diplomats in the Caribbean and the Americas offer any criticism or advice to Venezuela or any member-state of the OAS on issues of democracy and human rights, they should first examine the behavior of their own government in relation to their undemocratic practices and policies, both internally and around the world, and their endless list of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Trump lays bare sham democracy

The only positive aspect of Trump’s presidency is that it is exposing, once and for all, the sham that parades as U.S. democracy and concern for human rights. The entirely undemocratic nature of U.S. internal and foreign policy is clear to all in 2017. Even that minority of citizens on this planet who still held out some hope that the U.S. resembled anything close to a democracy, have now seen through the façade. American political philosopher, Sheldon S. Wolin, in his brilliant work, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, renders a devastating critique of US democracy and is a vital read for anyone who wishes to understand the latent fascism that underpins the politics of this Empire.

Former U.S. Attorney-General, Ramsay Clark, had this to say:

“We’re not a democracy. It’s a terrible misunderstanding and a slander to the idea of democracy to call us that. In reality, we’re a plutocracy, a government by the wealthy.”

He compared President George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler, and is on record as saying at the outset of the US invasion of Iraq, that it “will be genocide again,” adding that “the greatest crime since World War Two has been U.S. foreign policy.”

As I watch the hue and cry over Trump’s actions, it reminds me of Adolph Hitler’s response to Europe’s criticism of his policies. He told them: “I am only doing out in the open what you have been doing behind closed doors for centuries.”

A meme that was circulated at the end of Obama’s presidency said it best:

“Only in shallow, self-absorbed, privileged America could a leader drop 26,000 bombs on seven countries in a single year, and have citizens mourn the end of his term because he looked and sounded classy while doing it.”

The illusion highlighted in this meme picks up on the public relations stunt that has become a hallmark of the U.S. establishment, and which Sheldon Wolin identifies as a major feature of the “inverted totalitarianism” that exists in the U.S. today. He describes “inverted totalitarianism” as a state of affairs where a small ruling elite (the 1%) have established an authoritarian society which benefits them exclusively. In this society, corporations have corrupted and subverted democracy, and natural resources and labor are seen as mere commodities to be exploited for huge profits.

This status quo is maintained by a sophisticated propaganda machine that lulls the majority of people into apathy. Central to reinforcing this hegemon is a tightly controlled corporatized media, a mouthpiece for the establishment, that is constantly spinning fake news and false narratives, and emphasizing rabid consumerism, individualism and the politics of personality and sensationalism. Wolin, like Clark, compares modern day USA to Nazi Germany, pointing out that the form is different but the essence, that is, fascism, is the same.

Friendly fascism

Thirty-seven years ago, political scientist, Bertram Gross, coined the term “friendly fascism” and predicted the Orwellian reality we are witnessing today in the U.S. His thesis converges with the conclusions reached by Wolin, Clark and others.

In his farewell address at the end of his presidency in 1961, Republican Dwight Eisenhower, warned the American people about the dangers of the “Military Industrial Complex”, the control it exerted and its ability to, in his words, “weaken or destroy the very institutions and principles it was designed to protect.” This has surely come to pass.

So, before U.S. diplomats such as Perry Holloway attempt to discredit the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, initiated by one of the most revered freedom fighters in the Americas, the late Hugo Chavez, and led today by President Nicolas Maduro and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela with the support of the majority of the people of Venezuela, they would do well to take a long and hard look at the crisis of democracy in their own country.

Let Mr. Holloway explain to Guyanese and the citizenry of all member-states of the OAS why, in 2017, Africans in the U.S. continue to be gunned down in the streets on a regular basis.
Let him explain to us why the U.S. has the largest number of persons imprisoned per capita in the world, and why the prisoners are disproportionately made up of Africans, Indigenous and other people of colour, before he points the finger at a revolution that has lifted African and Indigenous Venezuelans out of debilitating discrimination and poverty.

Let Mr. Holloway address the situation of U.S. political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal, Jamil Al-Amin (formerly Rap Brown), Leonard Peltier and so many others who are languishing in U.S. prisons before he speaks of Venezuela’s human rights record.

Let the U.S. Ambassador focus on the shocking poverty and illiteracy statistics emerging from his own country, before he points the finger at the Bolivarian revolution which has made unprecedented gains in eradicating poverty and illiteracy amongst the masses of Venezuela’s poor. Anyone who visited oil rich Venezuela prior to the Bolivarian revolution can testify to the abhorrent conditions and the repressive measures used to subjugate the majority of Venezuelans, and in particular, African and Indigenous Venezuelans.

Does the Ambassador truly believe that his letters and articles, full of the usual delusional and empty rhetoric, would convince any of us that his government is concerned about democracy and human rights in Venezuela, or anywhere in the world for that matter, after we have witnessed the apocalyptic events in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and the list goes on?

Does Mr. Holloway think we have forgotten our own history in the Americas and the Caribbean, including the U.S. orchestrated coups that overthrew the democratically elected governments of President Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, President Salvador Allende in Chile, Prime Minister Maurice Bishop in Grenada, President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras and the constitutional coup against President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil? What about the removal at gunpoint of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide by U.S. military personnel in Haiti?

There is not the space in a single article to even list the U.S. crimes in our region. Just to chronicle them warrants a book. If we were to list U.S. crimes against the whole of humanity, we are looking at a library of books. The U.S. Empire and the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch Empires that preceded it, have been without doubt the worst examples of terrorism in all of human history.

In his letter and article, Mr. Holloway advises that “when a government breaks with democracy, we must act in solidarity with its people, not through intervention or interference, but with diplomacy and mediation among all parties to help find a peaceful, democratic, and comprehensive solution.” Tell us Mr. Holloway: Are the examples listed above your idea of diplomacy and mediation?

These governments were not removed because of their lack of democracy or abuse of human rights. They were removed, like countless others throughout the Global South, because they were attempting to free their country from the clutches of the Empire, and liberate their wealth and resources so that they might benefit the masses of their people. Our own founding fathers in Guyana, Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham, were subjected to the same destabilization tactics at the hands of the U.S. government and it’s CIA.

Empire loses its grip

The U.S. and its diplomats need to understand that with the advent of the internet and the availability of information in this day and age, the Empire has lost all credibility. There is no one left on earth who can be misled by their hollow and hypocritical rhetoric. Do not be fooled by those who dare not speak openly — they are afraid of losing their visas and even worse reprisals. Regardless of their cowardice and silence, everyone knows that the Emperor is naked. Behind closed doors, even those satraps who publicly profess their allegiance, such as the Saudis, snigger and jeer at the hideous state of affairs in the United States of America.

As the U.S. Empire crumbles, its vampires, who have sucked the blood of the sufferers for so long, are in panic mode because, despite their descent into blatant authoritarianism and fascism, they continue to lose their grip on the terrifying world they have created, as it spins more and more out of control. The ugly death squads such as Al Qaeda and ISIS, the very Frankensteins of their own making, are turning right back on them. As Malcom X observed so long ago, the chickens must come home to roost. One cannot keep up with the number of attacks in the US and Europe.

One of the vampires, largely credited with creating Al Qaeda, a former U.S. National Security Advisor, and founder of the Rockefeller-controlled Trilateral Commission, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in a speech to British elites at Chatham House in 2008, spoke volumes when he said:

“…new and old major powers face still yet another novel reality, in some respects unprecedented, and it is that while the lethality of their power is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at an historical low…I once put it rather pungently, and I was flattered that the British Foreign Secretary repeated this… namely, in earlier times, it was easier to control a million people than physically to kill a million people. Today, it is infinitely easier to kill a million people than to control a million people.”

The majority of CARICOM countries are governed by neo-colonial political outfits and even they voted against U.S. plans for regime change in Venezuela.”

The current U.S. administration, like its predecessors, whether Democrat or Republican, is involved in just that, killing millions of people all over the world in its bid to control, and trying desperately to convince us of the absurd notion that that they are doing this in the name of democracy and human rights. Trouble is, no one is buying it? The majority of CARICOM countries are governed by neo-colonial political outfits and even they voted against U.S. plans for regime change in Venezuela. The playbook is old and tired. Donald Trump just tied up an arms deal worth 350 billion U.S. dollars with the corrupt and entirely undemocratic regime of Saudi Arabia, a regime that is without doubt the main proliferator of the ideology of Wahhabism and the movements intent on imposing this ideology worldwide, such as Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al Nusra Front and ISIS. All these weapons to a government that is funding terrorism worldwide and committing genocide in Yemen.

And, when the power struggle between the Saudis and the Qataris surfaced, Trump paid lip service to the manufactured war on terror by publicly condemning Qatar’s support for terrorism, and days later sold the Qataris U.S. military hardware worth 12 billion dollars. In light of this hypocrisy and blatant disregard for the victims of these rogue states and their global terrorist network, can you really expect us to believe that your concern with Venezuela is about lack of democracy and human rights?

No shame

Finally, to Mr. Holloway and his cohorts throughout the region, your expressed shock and horror about the so-called spillover from Venezuela’s current predicament was perhaps the most shameful part of your missive: “The spillover effects from Venezuela’s crisis are serious and growing, whether it is irregular migrant flows to countries in our region or the increasing flow of arms and criminal activity that affect the Caribbean in particular.”

This is rich coming from the people who illegally invaded Libya, murdered the Libyan leader and freedom fighter, Muammar Qaddafi in the street, and in so doing, destroyed the most prosperous and democratic nation on the African continent, causing a migration crisis of a magnitude never seen before. Your government handed over the nation of Libya to a conglomerate of thugs, criminals, terrorists and reactionary warlords, and this spillover continues to wreak havoc throughout Africa and the Arab Region six years on. Before you concern yourself with any spillover in the Caribbean, please deal with the spillover from your criminal invasion of Libya, a spillover that only this month reached Manchester, England.

In Guyana, the Americas and throughout the Global South, the masses of people are sick and tired of the same old playbook — the one that is in fact the cause of the current situation in Venezuela. But then, that is part of the devil’s own script, cause the problem and then come to us as savior, with a solution. It plays like this: the U.S., through its infamous web of security agencies, NGOs, Aid Agencies, think-tanks and other Trojan horses, destabilize, sow confusion and do everything in their power to overthrow any government and subjugate any people that refuse to obey Empire. Recently, more than 300,000 Venezuelans took to the streets in support of President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution.

The opposition held a demonstration that attracted 50,000. Of course, in your United States, the corporate media is reporting just the opposite. By the admission of your own president they are the purveyors of fake news and this is just another example of your country’s lack of democracy. The bottom line is this Mr. Holloway: your country and its government is no way fit to point the finger at anyone when it comes to infringement of democracy, democratic values and human rights.

In your letters and articles you ask:

“If these things were happening in our own countries, would we not want the rest of our American family of nations to speak out, and reach out, to help restore fundamental democratic freedoms and respect for constitutional institutions?”

In your own words you proclaim that: “The Organization of American States has for decades provided a forum to discuss our greatest challenges and take action together to address them. The challenge before us today is the death spiral of democracy in Venezuela.”

What you say in the two quotes above is correct except for one thing, the challenge before us today is not the death spiral of democracy in Venezuela, it is the death spiral of democracy in the United States and an evil Empire spinning out of control.

You are right — the OAS should take immediate action to prevent further terrorism and turmoil because the spillover worldwide from the crisis in the United States is serious and growing.

Source*

Related Topics:

Countries around the World Condemn Attack in Venezuela*

Caribbean People do not Need Instruction from US on Venezuela Crisis*

Indigenous Guatemalan Campesinos Show Solidarity with Venezuela Govt*

Venezuela Top Court Confirms Constituent Assembly Will Go Ahead*

Route of Coup against Venezuela Begins at ExxonMobil*

Russia Helps Venezuela Fight Opposition’s ‘Economic War’*

The Strategy behind Washington’s Destabilization of Venezuela*

Temer Formally Accused of Corruption*

Temer Formally Accused of Corruption*

Brazilian Coup President Michel Temer

 

Temer could be suspended for 90 days while awaiting impeachment proceedings.

Brazil’s Attorney General Rodrigo Janot formally accused President Michel Temer and his aide Rodrigo Rocha Loures of corruption Monday, charging them with receiving bribes from meatpacking giant JBS, according to O Globo.

Janot sent the request for charges, with additional documents to follow on Tuesday, to the country’s Supreme Court, which will then send them to the lower chamber of Congress.

By law, criminal charges against a sitting president have to be approved by two-thirds of the lower house and only then can the Supreme Court issue a conviction. If approved by the lower house, Temer could be suspended for 90 days while awaiting impeachment proceedings.

In that possible scenario, current House Speaker Rodrigo Maia would assume the presidency.

According to a poll by Estadao, Temer might not have the support of lawmakers to block the process.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s federal police recommended charging Temer with obstruction of justice Monday, according to an official report.

Temer faces several accusations of corruption and spying, and according to Reuters, Janot will consider treating each investigation separately instead of presenting them all together, a move that could weaken his defense strategy.

The embattled politician, who was one of the main architects of a similar procedure against former President Dilma Rousseff, has been marred by endless political scandals revolving around the Operation Car Wash, or Lava Jato, investigations. In May, a wiretapped conversation with businessman Josley Batista, chairman of JBS, the largest meatpacking company in the country was released which appeared to reveal Temer endorsing a bribe to potential witnesses in the investigation.

In the recording, Temer was heard saying after being informed that hush money was being paid to the former head of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, “Look, you’ve got to keep that up.”

Last week, Brazilian federal police handed over their investigation to the court alleging that Temer accepted bribes in exchange for political favors from JBS. Police have also confirmed the authenticity of the recordings, which Temer insists have been tampered with.

Temer also denied other allegations, a report in a national magazine claiming that the country’s secret security service, known as Abin, spied on the judge in charge of the same corruption probe.

Temer’s numerous complications have led to a plummeting of support.

The survey by the Datafolha polling institute shows just 7 percent of those questioned approved of his administration, down from 9 percent in April.

Source*

Related Topics:

Brazil Court Continues to Delay Case That Could Unseat Temer*

Brazil’s Temer Defies Calls to Step Down over Wiretap Scandal*

Brazil’s Key Corruption Judge Who was Killed in a Plane Crash Demands Investigation and Protection from Temer*

Key Temer Aid Resigns as Scandal Closes in*

‘Out Temer!’ Brazil Social Movements Protest Undemocratic Govt*

Court Rules in Favour of Brazilians Protest Against Temer inside Olympic Venues*

Brazil’s Coup President Michel Temer to Lift Ban on Foreign Ownership of Land*

Brazil Revolts as Michel Temer Forces Austerity, U.S. Dirty Tricks Exposed*

Brazilian Police Fire Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets at Anti-Temer Protesters*

Brazil Explodes in Fight against Temer Coup Government*

Guyana President joins Muslims for Ramadhan Iftar*

Guyana President joins Muslims for Ramadhan Iftar*

President David Granger (seventh from right), British High Commissioner Greg Quinn (second from right) and members of the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana during prayers

 

 

By Ray Chickrie

President David Granger joined the Muslim community of Guyana on Sunday to break the Roza or fast that the Muslim community in Guyana is observing because it is the month of Ramadhan.

The British High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn and his wife also joined Granger at the Iftar dinner.

Granger spoke at the Ramadhan Iftar dinner, which was held at the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana’s (CIOG) headquarters in Georgetown.

“Guyana is a multi-cultural country. We can be proud, however, of our religious tolerance and social cohesion. Guyanese must do as we are doing this evening; we are eating dates and breaking bread to acknowledge one another’s differences and to share our common humanity,” the president said.

Since coming to office, Granger has heaped praise on the Muslim community of Guyana for its charitable work and community activism.

He said that Ramadhan also promotes the virtues of fellowship and friendship.

“Service to God strengthens relations with others through acts of compassion and sympathy,” the president said.

Speaking on the significance of Iftar, Granger noted that, when shared with persons of other faiths, it represents the importance that Islam attaches to the acceptance of differences and promotion of religious tolerance according to a press release from the ministry of the presidency.

The CIOG’s director of education, Sheikh Moeen ul Hack, praised the leadership of the country for the respect it has afforded the Muslim community of Guyana. Muslims make up about 12% of Guyana’s population and they are Sunnis from the Hanafi, Turkish School of Islam.

“We will continue to play our role as Guyanese and as Muslims and we see our role as complementing that of the government,” the director assured the president.

He thanked Granger for supporting the CIOG’s education drive, noting that “education is the enemy of prejudice and, for us to move forward and to develop our country, our people will definitely have to be educated.”

Source*

Related Topics:

Displaced Refugees join Lebanese Mass Iftar to Mark World Refugee Day*

Egypt’s Ramadhan Street Banquet: Free Iftar Brings Hope*

Syria’s More Confident Assad gives Eid Prayers in Hama*

These 5 People don’t Spend Eid with their Families to make the Occasion Happier for Us*

Love for the Poor*

The Charity of Love

Generosity in Islam

The Quiet Miracle*

Europe Closes Borders to Refugees as Latin America Opens*

Europe Closes Borders to Refugees as Latin America Opens*

Colombia is home to the largest population of displaced people in the world, even more than from Syria or Iraq. | Photo: UNHCR

 

On World Refugee Day, teleSUR looks at some of the inclusive policies in Latin America in favour of those who have been displaced.

The population of displaced people in the world has reached its highest number in history.

Every three seconds, a person is forced to leave their home, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR. More than 65 million people have been displaced worldwide in 2016, and about half of them are children and teenagers.

But despite the crisis, rising anti-immigrant sentiments in Europe and Northern America continue to frustrate the global response. On World Refugee Day Tuesday, teleSUR looks at how refugees, facing tightened borders and other challenges in Europe, are turning to Latin America for support, as its laws and policies allow them to find shelter and a new life away from war and violence.

Latin America home to world’s largest displaced population

According to UNHCR, displaced Colombians are the largest population in the world seeking refugee. And the small country of Ecuador has received the largest amount.

A joint report published by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center and the Norwegian Refugee Council says Colombia has the largest internally displaced population in the world, with approximately 7.2 million people uprooted.

That is larger than those from other war-torn countries such as Syria with 6.3 million displaced and Iraq with 3 million.

Maria Clara Martin, the representative of the UNHCR in Ecuador, told teleSUR that is important to realize that a refugee is someone whose physical integrity is in danger and is forced to seek shelter elsewhere.

“A refugee doesn’t choose to leave their country, doesn’t want to leave their country, but generally has to leave their country,” Martin said.

“A refugee is not a migrant that comes to a country searching for a better life for economic reasons or for better opportunities, a refugee is a person that has to flee from his home, has to leave behind in many cases his family, friends, job due to persecution, from religious, ethnic, nationality, political reasons or from a conflict.”

The Colombian refugees have sought shelter for years as the South American nation has suffered over 50 years of a bloody internal civil war between armed rebel groups, government forces and right-wing paramilitaries that has killed some 260,000 people and victimized millions more.

On the other hand, fumigations with glyphosate in large areas with coca crops in Colombia and the impact on the health of the population by the chemicals used has increased the number of asylum applications.

The organization reports that Ecuador has received the largest number of Colombian refugees with more than 60,000. Venezuela is home to the second largest population with over 7,000 refugees and another 173,673 in refugee-like situations. According to the most recent census, some 720,000 Colombians live in Venezuela, though unofficial estimates put the number much higher. Panama and Costa Rica also host significant populations of Colombians refugees, according to UNHCR.

On average, 418 people cross the border between Colombia and Ecuador each month as refugees.

From 1989 to 2016, a total of 233,049 people applied for recognized of refugee status in Ecuador, most of them from Colombia, as 95 percent of those who are sheltered in Ecuador are Colombian citizens.

Renata Dubini, director of the Bureau for the Americas at UNHCR, told teleSUR that the organization is working to strengthen the assistance for vulnerable communities in Colombia, home of the largest internally displaced population in the world, even after the government signed the peace deal with the FARC to end 52 years of civil war.

Despite the historic peace accords, several security issues still loom large as the implementation of the deal rolls out, and Dubini said the UNHCR is focusing its strategy on the opportunity the end of the war could mean for the victims of the internal conflict, especially in rural areas.

“Many have tried to go back, but they are waiting for concrete changes, there’s a mistrust,” Dubini said.

“They need to feel they are welcome. Little by little we will see them returning, but we can’t push them to go back.”

Refugees seek shelter in the region

While Europe is establishing a closed door policy in the face of an unprecedented crisis and a massive influx of migrants fleeing war and conflict, Latin America and the Caribbean are considered to be a world benchmark in receiving refugees.

According to Dubini, there is a historic tradition towards refugees in the region.

“There is a strong political commitment in the region, the balance of the work we have done in the region is positive. Latin America has a long tradition in protecting refugees,” she said.

Statistics show there was a 257 percent increase in the number of asylum-seekers in the Caribbean region between the mid-2015 and mid-2016. Refugees came from nations within the region, such as Haiti, as well as from other countries including Colombia, Sri Lanka, Syria and Nigeria. Belize, the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago were the three main destinations for these refugees.

Those who reach Ecuador to apply for refugee status come from up to 70 nationalities, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen.

“The most common thing is to find refuge in the closest places to where one is, but in many cases they come from even further due to several reasons, but they’re always looking for security,” Martin explained, adding that personal safety, violence, armed conflicts, femicide, economic crisis or persecution could be cause for displacement.

“The biggest challenge (for refugees) is to integrate into a society,” Martin said, noting that Colombian refugees have an advantage of speaking the same language as Ecuadoreans, a challenge that refugees from other regions have to confront.

“Many have to overcome the traumas that they bring with them, they’ve gone through very difficult situations, they’ve seen horrible things in many cases.”

Irene van Rij, head of UNHCR’s Field Office in the coastal city of Guayaquil, the country’s largest city where some 11.5 percent of the people who seek refuge in Ecuador are located, agreed that it’s often an uphill struggle for refugees who settle in the country.

“It’s never easy to be a refugee and come to a new country,” she told teleSUR.

“They no longer have the social support system that they used to have in Colombia, where they know their neighbours, where if they have a problem, they have their uncles or their aunts, and their entire family that they can rely on.”

When they come to Ecuador, said van Rij, they have to rely on themselves.

“We try to help them by building community centers, to bring together Colombians and Ecuadoreans who live in the same neighborhoods because people are just trying to move on with their life and ensure a better future for their children.”

In Ecuador, no one is illegal by law

Ecuador’s Constitution, considered one of the most progressive constitutions in the world after being drafted through a constituent assembly and approved in 2008, recognizes the principles of human mobility and universal citizenship, as well as the right of asylum and refuge for all.

The country’s pioneering “No one is illegal” immigration policy has become a trailblazing example for activists around the world who are pushing forward similar legislation in their own countries. Ecuador has had first-hand experience responding to the needs of its own migrants, as more than 2 million Ecuadoreans were forced to leave the country during the banking and economic crisis set off in 1999.

Former President Rafael Correa made support for migrants abroad a key issue for his administration, and after the country regained political and economic stability, his left-wing government invested in programs to encourage migrant to return home to Ecuador.

“If any country understands human mobility, it is Ecuador, because it itself has produced many people that have left and started to live in other countries and all these people also fall under the new Mobility Law,” van Rij, head of the Guayaquil field office, said.

Article 40 of the Ecuadorean Constitution recognizes the right of every person to migrate. “No human being shall be identified or considered as illegal because of his or her migratory status,” reads the text.

“People who are in asylum or refugee status will enjoy special protection that guarantees the full exercise of their rights,” continues Article 41. “The state shall respect and guarantee the principle of non-returning, in addition to emergency humanitarian and legal assistance.”

The Andean nation took its constitutional right to human mobility even further when the National Assembly approved unanimously in April the Organic Law of Human Mobility, which establishes rights and obligations for migrants, immigrants, persons in transit, those who require international protection and victims of crimes of human trafficking and illegal migrant trafficking.

According to Martin, the UNHCR has upheld Ecuador as an example and hopes the policy will start to reverberate more broadly around the world. “People have the right to be treated with dignity, to have security, education, to work with dignity, to live with dignity, health,” Martin said. “That is the meaning of not being illegal. You can’t penalize someone who is fleeing to save their life or for not having a passport.”

In Ecuador, there are no refugee camps, people are integrated,” said Martin.

For Martin, the work is tiring and difficult because the experiences refugees have endured are sometimes almost too intense to handle. But she says her hope is renewed each day as she learns about the positive experiences that many have had in the country after finding refuge in Ecuador.

“I met a group of Afro-Ecuadorean and Afro-Colombian women that had created an association and started their own business of selling textiles and clothes, and they were such a success that they were giving jobs to other Ecuadoreans” Martin said.

“Those are the stories that move you.”

Source*

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Brazil Court Continues to Delay Case That Could Unseat Temer*

Brazil Court Continues to Delay Case That Could Unseat Temer*

Michel Temer’s grip on power after being installed last year, through an impeachment process widely condemned as a group, is increasingly slipping. | Photo: Reuters

Temer is increasingly under pressure to resign, while court processes threaten to further jeopardize his executive power.

As multiple corruption scandals continue to swirl around Brazilian President Michel Temer and his government, the country’s top electoral court has re-launched a case that could remove the president from office over alleged illegal financing in his 2014 campaign as running mate to former President Dilma Rousseff.

The court entered its third day of sessions Thursday after deciding Wednesday to delay the final decision of whether or not to accept allegations that could lead to Temer’s removal from office.

The delays are in line with analysts’ predictions that the process could take weeks or even months as several judges have requested more time to study the case to continue the hearings. The final ruling, which does not have a deadline, could leave Brazil without a president for the second time in just over a year after the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff, a process widely condemned as a parliamentary coup.

Meanwhile, the government has said it is certain that Temer will be cleared of all charges by the court. The Senate-imposed president, whose approval rating has fallen to 8%, has said he will not step down despite widespread calls for his resignation as corruption allegations continue to come to light.

Just hours ahead of the scheduled start of the hearing Tuesday, Brazil’s federal police sent Temer Monday an interrogation document with a list of 82 questions as part of a separate investigation probing the president over accusations of corruption, organized crime and obstruction of justice.

Initially, Temer had 24 hours to respond to the questions, a deadline that ended Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. local time.

But his lawyers requested an extension as they argued it was “absolutely impossible to demand a manifestation of the President of the Republic in the short term of 24 hours.” The new deadline is set for Friday afternoon 5:00 p.m. local time.

As the election financing case moves forward and other corruption allegations continue to crash down around the president, protesters gathered outside the federal court in Brasilia to demand Temer’s resignation and call for direct elections to choose the next president of Brazil.

The accusations stem from an explosive wiretap, reported May 17, in which Temer was heard appearing to give his approval to bribes to buy the silence of the jailed former president of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, the chief mastermind behind the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff last year and a powerful witness in government corruption cases.

The conversation was recorded by Joesley Batista, chairman of JBS, the largest meatpacking company in the world, which was also involved in a large corruption scandal for bribing Brazilian politicians, as part of a bid to win a plea bargain deal with prosecutors.

The bribes were intended to keep Cunha silent about embarrassing secrets that could jeopardize the legitimacy of Temer’s presidency. In the leaked wiretap, Temer is heard telling Batista about the payments: “Look, you’ve got to keep that up.”

Protesters with face masks of Brazil’s politicians. Photo: Reuters

 

Protest against Temer in Sao Paulo. Photo: Reuters

 

 

Police patrol in front of the federal court in Brasilia. Photo: Reuters

 

 

The president said the recording wasn’t proof of wrongdoing. He said that he didn’t report the bribery references to authorities because he did not believe them. The case was delayed as authorities investigated the source of the audio.

Attorney General Rodrigo Janot has accused Temer of corruption, criminal organization and obstruction of justice as a result of the wiretap. Temer separately faces accusations of irregular campaign financing and has also been named in the central corruption investigations, known as Operation Car Wash, probing a bribery scheme in the state-run oil campany, Petrobras.

According to the Brazilian Constitution, if Temer resigns or is dismissed, Congress must approve an indirect election in 30 days to choose the person who will continue the electoral period that Rousseff began in 2015 and that ends on Jan. 1, 2019. Tuesday’s electoral financing trial could unseat the president, or he could face an impeachment process over corruption accusations. Both processes would likely be lengthy.

Brazilians have taken to the streets to demand Temer’s resignation and for immediate direct elections to be held to allow Brazilian voters to elect the next president. Temer has reiterated that he will not be resigning.

According to a new poll released Monday by the country’s largest labor union, known as the CUT, nine out of 10 Brazilians prefer direct general elections and 75 percent reject Temer’s administration.

Source*

Related Topics:

Brazil’s Temer Defies Calls to Step Down over Wiretap Scandal*

Brazil’s Key Corruption Judge Who was Killed in a Plane Crash Demands Investigation and Protection from Temer*

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Brazil Coup Architect Eduardo Cunha Sentenced to 15 Years for Corruption*

Brazil’s Coup Government Moves to Scrap Environmental Regulations*

Brazil Just Approved 20-Year Spending Freeze to Punish the Poor*

Washington Rape of Brazil Begins*

Route of Coup against Venezuela Begins at ExxonMobil*

Route of Coup against Venezuela Begins at ExxonMobil*

By William Serafino

Zamora Plan

It’s April 18. The political climate is defined by a highly confrontational and warmongering tone of the Venezuelan opposition the day before a national sit-in (plantón) where, once again, violent acts were to be expected: destruction and confrontation with law enforcement.

President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech in the evening from Miraflores Presidential Palace. Along with Minister of Defense, General in Chief Vladimir Padrino Lopez, Vice President Tareck El Aissami and National Assembly member Diosdado Cabello announce the Zamora Plan to guarantee order and security in the country.

The decision was prompted after a U.S. State Department statement was released the same evening. The text openly supported the violence generated by clashes affiliated to the opposition agenda during the “plantón,” trying to intimidate key players of Venezuelan military and judicial institutions to allow these events so that they would avoid being the subject of incoming sanctions.

Among other important elements, the text pin pointed — without any evidence — the security apparatus, specifically the scientific police and the intelligence agency, of using torture and the state security forces to endorse the incursion of “collectives to repress the demonstrators.”

The anti-Chavista “planton” on April 19 left four people dead in different states of the country, including a sergeant of the National Guard in San Antonio de Los Altos, Miranda state.

Who is the head of the U.S. Department of State?

The current U.S. secretary of state — the foreign policy chief — is Rex Tillerson, a former general manager at ExxonMobil. Tillerson was the top manager of the company when former President Hugo Chavez made the decision to nationalize the Orinoco Oil Belt where the U.S. corporation had major projects.

Under Tillerson’s command, the U.S. company decided not to renegotiate its oil projects like the one belonging to Cerro Negro in Monagas with state-owned PDVSA, according to the new directives after nationalization. ExxonMobil sued PDVSA at the ICSID — the World Bank court to resolve investment disputes — seeking compensation in the amount of US$20 billion back in 2007.

After nearly a decade-long legal battle, reviews and appeals to various verdicts, on March 10, 2017, the ICSID decided that the lawsuit of ExxonMobil contained irregularities and freed PDVSA of paying any damages. The northern oil company suffered perhaps the biggest legal defeat of its history with this ruling in favour of the Venezuelan state.

Exxon Brand Politicians

ExxonMobil — as well as any other large international company from the United States — contracts politicians to exert influence within the structure of U.S. government according to their interests. So-called lobbying is legal in that country, and companies seeking to modify or pass laws for their benefit (tax exemption, removal of regulations, federal government subsidies, etc.) pay large sums of money to politicians (a large quantity of Republicans in the case of ExxonMobil) and lobby firms.

According to Open Secrets, in the 2016 cycle, the oil company invested financial resources to endorse more than a dozen politicians for these purposes. These included Donald Trump (current U.S. president, who appointed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state) with US$25,461, Marco Rubio with US$17,701 and Ed Royce with US$7,500.

Senator Marco Rubio from Florida and California Representative Ed Royce have not only introduced sanctions against Venezuela a key point in their legislative agenda, they have also met — on several occasions — with Venezuelan opposition leaders — such as Luis Florido, Lilian Tintori, Freddy Guevara, among others — to show them political support and diplomatic endorsement to the overthrowing agenda they lead on the ground.

Law S.3117: Financial support to Venezuelan opposition

According to Open Secrets, in 2016 ExxonMobil was one of the companies that paid (the website does not specify the amount) to lobby for the law S.3117 (Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs of the Law of Allocations of 2017), which establishes the funds and political objectives of the operations of the Department of State in key countries for the United States.

Money leaked to agencies such as the NED or USAID are based on that law. On May 3, 2017, under the leadership of Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan (another politician financed by ExxonMobil in 2016 with US$14,025), the law was sanctioned.

According to the official page of the Congress of the USA, the sponsor of this bill was South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who had the duty of lobbying for its execution according to the guidelines of its financiers.

The Senate report on the law highlights the importance of the U.S. State Department funding Venezuelan opposition groups (under the umbrella of “civil society” NGOs) with US$5,500,000 and other additional funds to bring political and economic reforms in Venezuela. At the same time, it stresses the importance that “regional organizations play in promoting reforms in Venezuela, in particular, the Organization of American States,” in addition to increasing the support of the Energy Security Initiative in the Caribbean to influence Negatively in the political and oil alliances of our country with the Caribbean.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson commented on April 19: “We are closely watching what happens in that country and working with others, especially through the OAS, to communicate our concerns to them,” surely referring to Uruguayan Luis Almagro as liaison and key operator of the American strategy for pressure within the organization.

The Caribbean bloc has played a key role in preventing U.S. allies from that organization definitively consolidate the international isolation of Venezuela.

But the attack on Venezuela reveals a geopolitical key: The U.S. urgently need to overthrow Petrocaribe not only to break the Venezuela’s international alliances but to transform the Caribbean into a powerful port to import liquefied U.S. gas (ExxonMobil is one of the leading exporters), leading to the continent’s energy and geopolitical domination. The coup against Venezuela is a maneuver to ensure the continent as an area of exclusive influence on the penetration of Russian and Chinese capital and investment.

Graham, during Juan Manuel Santos’ official visit to the White House in May, publicly offered war weapons to Colombia both to dissuade Venezuela and to prepare the neighboring country for an eventual “humanitarian emergency” or armed conflict.

Interest in Venezuelan Oil

As discussed previously, ExxonMobil’s oil reserves have suffered large reductions as a result of sanctions against Russia and the aging of strategic wells in the Middle East, a reality that affects its market capitalization and its dominance over the oil market.

This urgency leads ExxonMobil to seek extralegal procedures to conquer the huge reserves of oil and gas located in the Essequibo using the Guyanese government, an area claimed by Venezuela as part of its territorial sovereignty at the U.N.

But without a doubt, the incessant search for oil and gas in that territory expresses the superior objective of re-colonizing the Orinoco Oil Belt, in the format of “oil opening” that dominated Venezuela during the last stage of the 20th century. Conquering and securing the world’s largest oil reserves as a source of full supply, in a context of aggressive competition between oil companies and their geopolitical interests, is an increasingly urgent need the U.S. oil company wants to satisfy.

The crystallization of regime change is needed. Last month, an important group of experts from the think tank Council of Foreign Relations elaborated a set of recommendations to the U.S. government within the framework of this purpose.

In short, the viable options for a change of government in Venezuela proposed by the CFR (which has shaped U.S. foreign policy since the beginning of the 20th century) are to increase sanctions against key Chavista leaders, to push diplomatically from the OAS using neighboring countries such as Colombia and Brazil, and to demand that China and Russia withdraw their support of the Venezuelan government to intensify isolation.

The Trump Administration has fulfilled the vast majority of the CFR proposals as political routes to support the coup d’état agenda in Venezuela. The sanctions against the Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, the State Department’s pressures from the OAS and the latest sanctions against the Supreme Court are a sign of this commitment, or at least that the CFR does indeed influence certain decisions of the White House. The CFR is also funded by ExxonMobil.

Threat of sanctions against PDVSA

On Sunday, June 4, Reuters leaked comments from alleged White House officials regarding sanctions being assessed against the national oil sector.

According to Reuters, collaborators of President Donald Trump have been asked to present recommendations to sanction the Venezuelan oil sector “if necessary.”

Given that 95% of Venezuela’s foreign exchange earnings come from PDVSA, vital resources for the payment of foreign debt and imports of food and medicines, a possible oil embargo or, in its absence, sanctions that prevent oil exports to the U.S. and investment of foreign companies (threatened with suspension of licenses to operate in U.S. territory), would be a strong blow to the economic recovery plan of the Venezuelan government and the population at large by paralyzing an important income source.

A measure that could be politically costly to the U.S. (striving to convince the public that all efforts are for the well-being of the Venezuelan population) and a reversal of its effects in practice in the medium term, considering most likely oil sales to China or India would increase significantly, at the moment 60 percent of PDVSA’s export destinations.

It is not by chance that these threats are leaked when the Venezuelan opposition’s capacity for mobilization is showing signs of burning out, street violence hasn’t been capitalized into political victories inside the country or before the international community. If this cycle of political recession increases, ExxonMobil would be pressured to take action on its own. After all, they are the owners of the circus and have invested resources that they do not intend to waste.

Closing (in progress)

According to a report by The Daily Beast in early April, top executives of ExxonMobil and Shell met in Washington in the hope that Nicolas Maduro would step down to start privatization projects of the world’s largest oil reserves. It is possible that Reuter’s leak has relation to these meetings and the decisions that would have been taken there.

The coup d’etat against Venezuela was not decided by the Venezuelan opposition but by the largest oil company on the planet; the framework of action of someone like Freddy Guevara or Julio Borges is limited to their condition of subordinates. If intervention by delegation fails, direct intervention (on an economic and financial scale) using positions of power and spheres of influence in the U.S. government, are even less visible.

The oil company, which truly executes the bulk of the maneuvers, has the U.S. secretary of state, a portfolio of right-wing representatives and senators — including Donald Trump — with influence in Congress and lobbying firms to impose its political and economic interests as a U.S. foreign policy against Venezuela.

In Venezuela, not only political power is disputed, but the organization of a new political, financial and energy geography on a continental and planetary scale, within highly belligerant political environment. The fall of Venezuela, for ExxonMobil, is fundamental for that disputed center of geopolitical gravity to distance itself from Russia and China, taking control in a region with the greatest natural and energetic resources of the planet.

Determining who the adversary is key to understanding what we are currently facing.

Source*

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The Strategy behind Washington’s Destabilization of Venezuela*

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Venezuela Oil Union Workers Back Maduro’s Constituent Assembly*

Tensions on the Rise As U.S. Announces Military Drills Near Venezuela*