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US urged to curb militarization in Latin America page 7

Latin Americans shine at UN As the 68th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City got underway this week, the delegations from Latin American fired up the meeting by planting clear, strong, and unequivocal challenges to US hegemony and pushing for a democratic restructuration of the international body. In a unified fashion, Latin American leaders spoke out in favor of a peaceful resolution to the USgenerate crisis in Syria, while condemning not just the use of chemical weapons there, but anywhere. page 5

Obama at the UN: A defense of imperial aggression page 8

Friday, September 20, 2013 | Nº 176 | Caracas | ENGLISH EDITION/The artillery of ideas

Venezuela and China forge “strategic alliance of the future”


Venezuela makes arrests in Air France drug case Nearly a dozen officials were arrested in Venezuela after 1.3 tons of cocaine were found on an Air France flight. page 3 Integration

Venezuela signs UN accord to protect the disabled The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was signed at the UN. page 4 Politics

More US-Venezuela tensions Venezuelan President Maduro cancelled his UN trip after visa and flight problems caused by the US. page 6

Venezuelan head of state Nicolas Maduro has strengthened his country’s strategic alliance with China, signing 27 agreements worth over $20 billion during a state visit to Beijing. “We’ve sealed the strategic alliance of the future, an alliance for economic development, prosperity, and the happiness of our peoples”, declared Maduro as he left China on Tuesday. The state visit, running from September 21 to 24, was Maduro’s first to the Asian nation as Venezuelan President. Pg. 2

India & Venezuela to grow energy relations Citing the “increasing appetite” for crude at Indian refineries, India’s minister for petroleum and natural gas has requested long-term supplies from Venezuela. M. Veerappa Moily met with Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s minister of energy and mines, who led a delegation to India for a review of cooperation in the hydrocarbons sector.

Indian representatives cited difficulties related to pricing and signing of term contracts for importation of crude from Venezuela. Ramirez encouraged Indian companies to increase participation and invited them to attend a meeting in Venezuela Oct. 7-9. Ramirez assured his audience that all issues would be discussed in detail to arrive at mutually acceptable solutions. Both agreed to completing a comprehensive package that would also include participation by Indian companies in providing expertise for infrastructure and technology, and for boosting trade in goods and services.

INTERNATIONAL US citizens laud Maduro’s peace initiatives T/ Minci In the context of Syria being the main topic on the agenda for the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, US citizens have been lauding President Nicolás Maduro’s initiatives for peace. Les Sumner trusts that the General Assembly will take important measures relating to Syria, as well as reach a global consensus on what needs to be done to eliminate chemical weapons. He lauded the calls for peace from President Maduro and Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Any peaceful measure that can be taken to stop the massacre is valid. I want to see consensus in policies from the US, Europe and South America: Venezuela, Colombia … to reach an accord to solve this peacefully”, he said. Another US citizen, Marcella Lowney, appreciates that Maduro fights for equality and the rights of the people not only at a national level, but internationally as well. Puerto Rican Daniel Sanchez, who grew up in the US, noted that the most important issue at hand for the UN was the situation between Syria and the United States, and that he supports Venezuelan and Russian peace proposals. He suggests that there is a chance that US President Barack Obama will stop an intervention in Syria and adopt the more peaceful stance shown by countries like Venezuela and Russia. “Nobody wants war. The world wants to live in peace”, he said. Fellow Puerto Rican Juan Camacho knows that the UN must address the Syrian Conflict. “We want peace. Why would we go to war when what we need is aid and food?” he questioned.

2 Impact | .ŽsFriday, September 27, 2013

The artillery of ideas

Venezuelan President Maduro seals “strategic alliance” with China T/ Ewan Robertson P/ Presidential Press


enezuelan head of state Nicolas Maduro has strengthened his country’s strategic alliance with China, signing 27 agreements worth over $20 billion during a state visit to Beijing. “We’ve sealed the strategic alliance of the future, an alliance for economic development, prosperity, and the happiness of our peoples”, declared Maduro as he left China on Tuesday. The state visit, running from September 21 to 24, was Maduro’s first to the Asian nation as Venezuelan President. On Sunday the XII meeting of the Venezuela – China High Level Mixed Commission took place, during which accords were signed representing over $20 billion of Chinese investment in Venezuela. In petroleum, state oil companies Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and China’s CNPC will develop a new project in the Junin 10 bloc of the Orinoco Belt worth $14 billion, which will produce 220,000 bpd. An agreement was also reached to form a mixed company between PDVSA and SINOPEC to exploit the Junin 1 bloc. Meanwhile the Chinese Development Bank approved a new credit line of $5 billion for Venezuela, which will be administered by the Venezuela-China Joint Fund, established in 2007. “With this credit we will finance [projects in] housing, agriculture, transport, industry, highways, electricity, mining, healthcare, science and technology”, Maduro announced through Twitter. Another important investment commitment from China is assistance and funding of $700 million for a project to map out mining sites in Venezuela, and for the engineering, study and feasibility for the mining of the Las Cristinas gold deposits, one of the biggest in the region. In an agreement signed between Venezuela’s state petrochemical company Pequiven and the Chinese Export-Import Bank (Eximbank), China will invest $391 million in the construction

decadent capitalist neoliberal formulas of the past”.


of a maritime port at Moron, Carabobo state, for the export of Venezuelan urea and ammonia. In a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday, Maduro highlighted Venezuela’s commitment to “ratify and widen the strategic alliance and joint development of mutual resources that our dear Comandante and eternal father Hugo Chavez knew how to construct”. For his part, Xi Jinping welcomed the state visit as “a boost so that relations [with Venezuela] can ascend to a new level”. Accords were also signed in the areas of education, agriculture, culture, technology, di-

saster response and diplomatic cooperation. An agenda for cultural exchange between the two governments was agreed for 2014-2016, with Venezuela hoping to attract more Chinese tourists. In 2014 the two countries will mark the 40th anniversary since diplomatic relations began. During Maduro’s visit he also engaged in a range of other official engagements. On Monday the Venezuelan President addressed members of the Chinese Community Party on the topic of “the Construction of Bolivarian Socialism”, where he described the current era as “the search for the socialist alternative of the 21st century, from the old and

Venezuelan-Chinese relations have greatly expanded over the previous decade. A “strategic relationship” was pursued with China from 2003 by former President Hugo Chavez, who saw China as a partner for economic development and as part of a new “multi-polar world order” to counteract the hegemony of the United States. China likewise has engaged with Venezuela as a source of oil to fuel its rapid industrialization and as an important partner in the South American region. As a result, since 2003 China has provided Venezuela with $36 billion dollars in credit for domestic investment, $20 billion of which has already been paid back in the form of oil shipments. In return Venezuela has increased oil shipments to China as part of the diversification of its export markets, and is currently committed to sending 640,000 barrels per day (bpd), 264,000 of which are used for credit repayment. Meanwhile the signing of over 300 accords has seen cooperation deepen in all fields, with bilateral trade increasing from $350 million in 2000 to $23 billion last year.

Further, Venezuela’s Simon Bolivar and Francisco de Miranda satellites were both built and launched with Chinese assistance. On Sunday President Maduro offered a speech in Beijing where he proposed that both governments form a special planning commission to map out the development of Venezuela’s alliance with China over the next ten years. “Let’s visualize the next ten years in each area of cooperation under the principles we’ve constructed; of mutual benefit, shared gain, gradualism, perfect planning and maximum efficiency”, he said. The Venezuelan President also predicted that by the end of the current decade Venezuela will have established a “21st century socialist” economic model. “Venezuela will be riding upon the longed-for dream of economic development, economic sustainability, [and] diversification, and I’m sure it will be riding alongside it’s brother, the People’s Republic of China”. Maduro argued that one of the main challenges for Venezuela’s economic development is to overcome dependence on oil exports, and as such held that agreements signed with China were a “commitment and a challenge”. “It’s with China, as Comandante Chavez visualized twenty years ago, that Venezuela will move through the 21st century as a century of development, opportunity and diversification”, he added.

“INSINCERE” OPPOSITION CRITICISM REJECTED While Venezuela’s executive train was in Beijing, the right-wing opposition at home criticized bilateral relations as “selling Venezuela” to the Chinese. One of the most prominent opposition figures making such comments was lawmaker Maria Carina Machado, a hard line conservative who participated in the 2002 coup attempt against the Chavez government and held a private meeting with George W Bush in 2004. Pro-government lawmaker Robert Serra responded to the comments on Monday, saying that the opposition had “lost all manner of sincerity”. Speaking on public channel VTV, he added, “Just look at with whom they left the responsibility to say we are selling the country…the person [Maria Corina Machado] that went and knelt down before the most public murderer that the United States as ever seen, George Bush junior”.

.ŽsFriday, September 27, 2013

The artillery of ideas

| Security


Fight against crime will allow development of tourism explains Interior Minister T/ Paul Dobson P/ Agencies


here can’t be full exploitation of the potential of tourism without citizen security”, so declared Commander of the Police Forces, and Minister of the Interior, Justice and Peace, Rodriguez Torres this week, speaking from the tourist destination of Falcon. The Minister underlined the necessity of tackling crime levels to facilitate the opening of the numerous tourist destinations that Venezuela has, both to local and international tourists. Venezuela is considered one of the most potential nations in Latin America for tourism, boasting Caribbean coastline, Amazon rainforest, Andean Mountains, desert, plains, some of the most diverse flora and fauna, and of course the highest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls. However worries about security have held international tourism back in recent years. Falcon State, he explained as an example, is “that which counts with the highest potential for the development of tourism in the country”, with its stunning Caribbean beaches and islets. However

it has “a serious problem with crime” which is hindering its development. “This is where we come in, the Plan Secure Nation”, explained the Police Chief. “It is our responsibility, the security forces, to safeguard the tourist destinations and guarantee tourists security”. In recent weeks, numerous pilot programs have got off the ground which will train police forces in tourism, teaching them, amongst other things, how to treat a tourist, how to safeguard a tourist hotspot, and what special problems tourism brings in the security field. “The (training) program looks to promote the integral security of na-

tional and international tourists”, explained the Minister for Tourism, Andres Izarra. Both the National Bolivarian Police Force (PNB) and the National Experimental University of Security (UNES) will be collaborating in this training drive, which forms part of the Great Mission ‘A Life to All Venezuela’ and its subprogram ‘Plan Secure Nation’ so launched by President Maduro. The dean of UNES, Soraya El Achkar, explained that the principal training school for the police forces is committed to “developing programs of tourism which allow us to attend to

Venezuela makes arrests after French authorities make record cocaine haul T/ Ryan Mallett-Outtrim enezuelan authorities have arrested eight military personnel in connection to 1.3 tons of cocaine found on an Air France flight from Venezuela. On Saturday, French officials announced that 31 suitcases filled with cocaine had been seized at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. French Interior Minister Manuel Valls estimated that the haul’s street value was around 50 million euros, though some estimates by legal sources have been as high as 200 million euros. The flight had arrived in Paris after departing on September 10 from Caracas. On Sunday, Venezuela’s public ministry announced that three arrests had been made. The Bolivarian National Guard’s (GNB) sergeants Víctor Sanabria Ramírez and Nelson Rojas Rodríguez, along with Lieutenant Jose Gonzalez Ruiz appeared in court this week. “These are the first arrests”, Justice and Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez told state broadcaster VTV earlier this week.


Then on Tuesday, five more GNB troops were arrested including a lieutenant colonel, along with an airport security guard and a baggage handler. Rodriguez stated that from China, President Nicolas Maduro called on authorities to “apply the maximum weight of the law to those responsible”. “Our desire is fierce and strong, and we will bring the full weight of the law to any official ...responsible for this”, Rodriguez affirmed. According to the minister, it is “almost obvious” that airline or airport staff may have been complicit in the alleged smuggling operation. “We are investigating how the drugs came to Maiquetia (International Airport) and how they could get on the plane without being detected”, he said. “How could a cocaine shipment reach France and get taken out without going through the normal controls?” He questioned. This week, investigators began reviewing footage from security cameras at the Maiquetia airport. Already, however, over 20 people have been

questioned in relation to the incident, according to the minister. In a press release, Air France stated that it was unaware of how the drugs were allegedly smuggled aboard the flight last week, but indicated that it has launched its own internal investigation. “Pending the results of these investigations, immediate measures have been taken to enhance our checks of baggage and goods on departure from certain sensitive destinations”, the statement read. According to French police, the suitcases were registered under false names that didn’t match up with the flight’s passenger manifest. Valls described the haul as “the biggest seizure of cocaine ever made in mainland France”. The minister also stated on Monday that “several members of a criminal organization” had been arrested by French authorities. The arrests were made due to an international effort by authorities in France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, Valls has said. According to Rodriguez, the alleged smuggling operation was lead by a

the security needs in the points with the highest flow of tourists”. Furthermore, UNES is “thinking about offering a Higher University Diploma in Tourism Police, with the idea of strengthening the tourism industry”. The pilot training will start in the States of Nueva Esparta, Aragua, Falcon, and Sucre along the Caribbean coastline, the Andean State of Táchira, and the Amazon. The course lasts six months and will eventually be deployed in all of the States, which have potential in tourism. “This (past) Saturday, International Day of the Beaches, we start(ed) the training in tourism of the PNB in Aragua”, tweeted Governor of the entity, and ex- Interior Minister, Tareck El Aissami. Izarra underlined that the training in tourism of the security forces is perfectly in line with international standards, and that he has achieved “the participation of the World Tourism Organization to accompany us, which will allow us to impart this training according to international standards”. Tourist Police are common in other Latin American holiday destinations such as Buenos Aires and Bogota.

European group who buy narcotics in South America.

VENEZUELA’S FIGHT AGAINST COCAINE United Nations monitors do not consider Venezuela a cocaine producing country. The coca leaf, from which the narcotic is derived, is mostly grown in countries like Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. However, Venezuela’s geographic position makes it a convenient transit route for cocaine bound for North American and European markets, according to some narcotics analysts. Washington has become increasingly critical of Venezuelan counter-narcotics efforts, particularly since the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was removed from the country in 2005 under former President Hugo Chavez, following allegations that DEA agents had engaged in espionage. However, according to President Nicolas Maduro, since 2005 Venezuela has significantly improved its antidrug efforts. Last year, one of Colombia’s most infamous druglords Daniel “Crazy” Barrera was captured in Venezuela by local security forces working alongside Colombian, US and British counterparts. Along with Barrera, between 2006 and 2013 the heads of more than 100 narcotics organizations have been apprehended by Venezuelan authorities, according to the National Anti-Drug Office (ONA).

4 Integration | .ŽsFriday, September 27, 2013

The artillery of ideas

Venezuela and South Africa pledge to deepen bilateral cooperation T/ Ryan Mallett-Outtrim P/ Agencies outh African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Emily Nkoana-Mashabane has praised Venezuela’s efforts to eradicate poverty, following a meeting with Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Elias Jaua last week. “There are many lessons we can learn from [Venezuela]”, Nkoana-Mashabane stated last Thursday, according to AVN. “We can eradicate poverty, we can share in the experience of how to benefit from mineral resources”, she said. In particular, NkoanaMashabane highlighted Venezuela’s efforts to reduce hunger. In June, Venezuela was awarded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for more than halving hunger. “People must have food security in order to defend themselves financially”, Nkoana-Mashabane stated. Along with poverty alleviation, according to the South African Government News Agency, the “purpose of the visit [was] to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation in the areas of energy, mining, agriculture, education, as well as arts and culture”. The two ministers also reportedly discussed a proposed Africa-South America Cooperation Fund, aimed at boosting trade between the two continents. Another item on the agenda was discussion of ways to deepen ties between the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and its South African counterpart, PetroSA. Nkoana-Mashabane also met with Venezuelan Minister for Defense Carmen Melendez to discuss possible future bilateral defense initiatives. In a press release, the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation described the trip as “successful”. “The visit has gone a long way towards solidifying political, economic and cultural relations between South Africa and Venezuela”, Nkoana-Mashabane stated. Following his meeting with the South African minister, Jaua spoke of the historic importance of Africa to Venezu-


ela. “The supreme Comandante Hugo Chavez vindicated our African origins and overturned a colonial discourse of the mother Spain to a mother which is Africa and to our indigenous peoples”, Jaua stated. “From that recognition of our cultural roots, Chavez developed a strategy of rapproche-

ment and cooperation with the peoples of Africa”, he said. Under former President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela pursued deeper trade and diplomatic ties with the African continent. In 2005 Venezuela had 10 embassies in Africa, in 2008 it had 18. Today, there are 30 Venezuelan embassies across the

continent. Chavez himself also traveled to a number of African states never previously visited by a Venezuelan President, including Algeria, Libya, Mozambique, Angola, Mali, Gambia and Benin. Venezuela’s renewed interest in the continent came during a period of expanding in-

Venezuela signed UN document for the protection of people with disabilities

T/ Venezuelan Mission to the United Nations P/ Presidential Press


enezuela signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol Tuesday at the seat of the UN in New York.

The adoption of this UN instrument began in 2006, and it came into force in 2008. This convention reaffirms that all persons with disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental liberties. At the event, the Venezuelan Permanent Representative to the UN Samuel Mon-

cada said in his speech the following: “the signing of this document is a cornerstone in the social and revolutionary project that Venezuela is going through, in support and defence of the fundamental rights of the people with disabilities. Venezuela has created legal instruments which protect

tercontinental trade between Africa and South America. In 2002 trade between the two continents was worth around US$7.2 billion; by 2011 that figure had ballooned to roughly US$39.4 billion. Today’s trade relationship between South Africa and Venezuela is based largely on raw materials. South Africa’s main export to Venezuela is Ferro-vanadium, while Venezuela supplies South Africa with oil. In 2008, the two countries signed a Framework Agreement on Cooperation aimed at boosting trade and diplomatic relations. This week, Venezuela engaged in further talks with African leaders at a meeting of foreign ministers of the Africa-South America Cooperation Forum, which occurred on the sidelines of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly. According to Nkoana Mashabane, the two ministers intend to meet again in early 2014. “There are a lot of commonalities between our two countries as we are both developing countries. Our cooperation is guided by the principles of mutual interest, economic development and total eradication of poverty”, the South African minister said.

people with disabilities, such as the People with Disability Act of 2006, which among other aspects states that people with disabilities must have access to free medical assistance; better access to public transport and adequate representation in the work place”. Ambassador Moncada added in his speech that, “in the past, many children could not attend school because the country did not have adequate infrastructure to take care of them, due to their disabilities. However, in recent years, the revolutionary Government of Venezuela has delivered 400 purpose-built public school classrooms designed to accommodate the disabled. These classrooms have allowed more than 3,800 children with disabilities to attend school”. In addition to the People with Disability Act, the Venezuelan Government set up Mission Jose Gregorio Hernandez in 2008, which on provides immediate care to the people with disabilities, and trains medical doctors and physical therapists in the causes, prevention, treatment and social aspects of disabilities.

.ŽsFriday, September 27, 2013

The artillery of ideas

| International


UN General Assembly: Southern pacifists shine as Northern Nobel Peace Encourages war

T/ Paul Dobson P/ AFP


s the 68th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City got underway this week, the delegations from Latin American fired up the meeting by planting clear, strong, and unequivocal challenges to US hegemony and pushing for a democratic restructuration of the international body. Contributions from Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay were publicized live on Telesur, while Venezuelan President Maduro was conspicuous by his absence, despite a planned visit which was cancelled at the last minute.

SYRIA In a unified fashion, Latin American leaders spoke out in favor of a peaceful resolution to the US-generate crisis in Syria, while condemning not just the use of chemical weapons there, but anywhere. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez told the Assembly, “there are no just wars, the only justice is in peace”, and compared those pushing for war to those who activated the chemical weapons by asking, “What difference is there between death by chemical arms or by bombing?” Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff asserted that, “we reject unilateral interventions… which only aggravate the political instability in the regional and increase human suffering”.

The poetic contribution of the Uruguayan President Jose ‘Pepe’ Mujica stressed the role of humanity in its own development, and explained that the path to follow must be one of peace: “man, while he lives in a climate of War, lives in prehistoric times, pitting man against man”.

UN REFORM “We can’t live in a world where everything depends on what just 1 or 2 people decide”, explained Kirchner, referring to the antidemocratic nature of the UN Security Council. We need “a genuinely democratic world”. “There is a necessity to reform and amplify the Security Council”, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala added, so as to “much better reflect the realities of the 21st century”. Chilean President and US ally, Sebastian Piñera, backed also the calls: “At the end of the day, if we push for democracy, dialogue, and participation when governing our countries, I don’t see any reason not to apply these same principles and values when adopting decisions which affect the entire world”. The main candidate to be included as a permanent member of an extended Security Council is Brazil, who told the Assembly, “The council should urgently look for independent and constructive voices. Only if we increase the number of permanent and non-permanent members and we include

those countries which are in a process of development will we be able to solve and overcome the lack of representation and legitimacy”. From Venezuela, President of the Latin American Parliament, Rodrigo Cabezas agreed. “The General Assembly should be established as the maximum voice… and it should be based on the concept of 1 country, 1 vote, so that if the General Assembly takes a decision, then the Security Council cannot come and modify it”.

RELOCATION Referring to recurrent CIA backed attempts on the lives of anti-imperialist Presidents, Bolivian President Morales proposed a relocation of the UN away from US soil for security reasons. “Truly, here we don’t feel safe… I am seriously asking the Presidents to think about changing the headquarters”. Furthermore, the location encourages the US to behave like the boss of the UN, he explained. “As he is the head of the household, President Obama speaks as the policeman, as the boss, as the owner of the world”.

US CYBER-SPYING Following leaked evidence of CIA spying on Brazilian oil firms last week, President Rousseff launched a scathing attack on the US. It is “a violation of our Human Rights and a lack of respect for the sovereignty of our nation”, she declared.

“What we have in front of us is a grave case of the violation of civil liberties, a case of invasion, of the collection of confidential and secretive information related to business dealings”. She went on to demand “explanations, apologies, and guarantees that this won’t happen again”. Barak Obama, speaking directly after her blasting speech, made no mention to the case, nor offered any apology or justification for his government’s actions. Unanimously, the Latin American Presidents backed her criticisms and calls for action against the arrogant stance of the US. President Fernandez described the US as being “off the lease”, and Morales affirmed, “there is a lot of cynicism when Obama speaks of justice, of liberty, of peace, as if he were the owner of the planet. Here there are no owners of the planet, each country has its own sovereignty and dignity”. The Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño, speaking outside of the UN meeting, described Obama’s contribution as “more like thirty minutes of a world police report”.

CAPITALISM IS THE PROBLEM In an eloquent contribution; Uruguay President Mujica injected a touch of humanism and environmentalism to the meeting, criticizing capitalism for reducing us to consumers, sewing

anti-values responsible for warmongering, and restricting human and scientific development while destroying the environment. “I am from the south, and I come from the south to this assembly… I bring with me the millions of poor countrymen in the cities of Latin America, which is the common nation we are making. With original cultures trampled over, the remains of colonialism, with useless blockades, with the consequences of electronical vigilance which doesn’t do anything else other than sew a lack of trust which envenoms us. I come with the giant social debt, the need to defend the Amazon, and of Colombia which will achieve its peace”, Mujica told the Assembly. “We believe that the world is crying out for global rules… for a brutal cultural change… neither the great States, nor the transnationals, and definitely not the financial system should govern the human world”, he asserted. “Combatting the dirty economy, the drug running, the robbery and fraud, the corruption, contemporary plagues stemming from these antivalues, this is what makes us happy, which enriches us”. Other issues raised by the Latin American nations were the defense of the Palestinian demands for Statehood; the failure of Chevron to pay $19 billion to the Ecuadorian Government for damages in the Amazon rainforest; and the drive for peace in Colombia.


Politics |

.ŽsFriday, September 27, 2013

The artillery of ideas

Venezuela rejects US version of Maduro airspace prohibition dispute T/ Ewan Robertson P/ Agencies

Meanwhile, Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez called US conduct “unjustifiable, arbitrary and unfriendly, which offends the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean”. Rodriguez said that CELAC member states were discussing the issue, and would bring it up at the UN General Assembly meeting. Cuba is currently the pro tempore president of the CELAC. The fallout comes after Evo Morales’ presidential plane was denied airspace access by four European countries in July, under supposed suspicions that the flight harboured ex-NSA intelligence leaker Edward Snowden. Further, this week Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff cancelled her scheduled state visit to the US in October, apparently due to concerns over the US spying activities toward Brazil revealed by Snowden’s leaks. Venezuelan relations with the US have remained distant, and the two countries have not had an exchange of ambassadors since 2010. The brief attempt to improve relations following Maduro’s election in April was brought to a close by Venezuela in July, after the US new ambassador to the UN made “unacceptable and unfounded” comments about the Venezuelan government.


enezuela has rejected the United States’ version of events in the dispute over President Nicolas Maduro’s passage through US airspace last Friday. The diplomatic fallout reached media attention when Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua told reporters that President Maduro had been denied permission to fly through US airspace. According to Venezuelan officials, the presidential flight was prohibited from passing over Puerto Rico, with President Maduro considering changing the flight path to reach Paris, France. However after hurried diplomatic talks permission was eventually granted for the flight to pass through US airspace. The flight’s final destination is Beijing, China, where Maduro will conduct a state visit. US STATEMENT In a diplomatic statement emitted Friday by the United States Embassy in Caracas, the US denied prohibiting the Venezuelan President’s passage through its airspace, and blamed any delays in granting passage on the Venezuelan government for not “properly submitting” the flight request. The statement said that Venezuela had only submitted the international flight request with one day’s notice, when three are required. Further, the US diplomats argued that approval was delayed because “the [presidential] plane in question was not a state aircraft, which is required for diplomatic clearance”. “We advised Venezuela on the correct way to get the clearance and notified their authorities last night that permission was granted”, the statement read.

RESPONSE Venezuela’s top diplomat in Washington, Calixto Ortega, rejected the US version of events, affirming in a call to state channel VTV that the US had indeed denied Maduro’s passage through its airspace. “The permission was denied. I have the denial in writing. We had to have a series of conversations [to gain clearance for the flight]”, he said.

Ortega also disagreed with the arguments put forward for the delay in granting permission to enter US airspace, explaining that the plane, route and flight request were exactly the same as in June when Maduro passed over Puerto Rico en route to Italy for a diplomatic tour of Europe. “It’s the same plane, with the same crew, and exactly the same route made, [and in June] a permission request [was] immediately approved”, he explained. The Venezuelan diplomat argued that Venezuela would need to keep “very aware” of the possibility such moves by the US in the future, saying that “they took us by surprise”. He also criticized press in Europe for favoring the US version of events in the dispute. In addition, Ortega voiced concerns that the US would repeat last night’s action during the following week, when Maduro had planned to travel to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting. Venezuela has further accused the US of denying visas to members of its delegation to the UN gathering. Samuel Moncada, Venezuela’s ambassador to the UN, sent a letter to UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon re-


questing the UN ensure the US “strictly fulfill its international obligations”. In the letter, Moncada accused the US government of “deliberately delaying the approval of entry permits” to members of Maduro’s diplomatic team, and of trying to “create logistical barriers…to his [Maduro’s] visit”. US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf denied the accusation, stating to journalists, “No visa has been denied to the Venezuelan delegation to the United Nations General Assembly this year”.

INTERNATIONAL CONCERN The apparent denial of President Maduro’s request to fly through US airspace has gen-

erated criticism from Venezuela’s regional allies. Bolivian President Evo Morales requested an “emergency meeting” of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), saying that he would propose that all member states of the bloc withdraw their ambassadors from the US in protest. CELAC brings together every state in the Western Hemisphere with the exception of the US and Canada. “If it’s with Maduro, it’s with everyone. The United States must know that if it messes with Maduro, it messes with the whole Latin American people…because this is about the unity and sovereignty of our peoples”, he said.

President Maduro abruptly cancelled his trip to the UN General Assembly in New York due to a perceived unsafe situation with the United States. Though he was scheduled to speak before the General Assembly on Wednesday, his plane diverted in flight returning from a state visit to China, and instead of landing in New York, flew directly to Caracas. Maduro had numerous biltateral meetings planned at the UN as well as an anticipated gathering with local grassroots organizations and activists in the Bronx. His cancellation raised concerns about whether or not United Nations headquarters should be moved to a more neutral country so as not to endanger or place obstacles to the visits of delegations with unfriendly US relations.

.ŽsFriday, September 27, 2013

The artillery of ideas

T/ Jim Lobe -IPS P/ Agencies


he United States needs to phase down its drug war and tighten the reins on its cooperation with local militaries and police in Latin America, according to a new report released Wednesday by three influential think tanks. Of particular interest is the increase in training deployments to Latin American and the Caribbean by the Special Operations Forces (SOF) – elite units like the Army’s Green Berets and Navy SEALS – due in part to the US withdrawal from Iraq and drawdown from Afghanistan. Over the past decade, SOF ranks have more than doubled to about 65,000, and their commander, Admiral William McRaven, has been particularly aggressive in seeking new missions for his troops in new theatres, including Latin America and the Caribbean where they are training thousands of local counterparts. “You can train a lot of people for the cost of one helicopter”, Adam Isacson, an analyst with the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), told IPS. He noted that the increased investment in SOF was part of a much larger Pentagon strategy of maintaining a “light (military) footprint” in countries around the globe while bolstering its influence with local military institutions. The Pentagon, however, is much less transparent than the State Department, and its programs are often not subject to the same humanrights conditions and do not get the same degree of Congressional oversight. Moreover, McRaven has sought the authority to deploy SOF teams to countries without consulting either US ambassadors there or even the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), making it even more difficult for civil society activists to track what they’re doing and whether they’re working with local units with poor human-rights records that would normally be denied US aid and training under the so-called Leahy Law. Last summer, according to Isacson, McRaven’s command even tried to work out an agreement with Colombia to set up a regional special operations coordination center there without consulting SOUTHCOM or the embassy.

| Analysis


US urged to curb militarization in Latin America

“What these developments mean is that the military role in foreign policy-making is becoming ever greater, and militaryto-military relations come to matter more than diplomatic relations”, he said. “What does that mean for civil-military relations not only in the region, but also here at home?” The 32-page report, entitled “Time to Listen”, describes US policy as “on auto-pilot”, largely due to the powerful bureaucratic interests in the Pentagon and the Drug Enforcement Administration and their regional counterparts that have built up over decades. “The counter-drug bureaucracies in the United States are remarkably resistant to change, unwilling to rethink and reassess strategies and goals”, said Lisa Haugaard, director of the Latin America Working Group Education Fund (LAWGEF) which released the report along with WOLA and the Center for International Policy (CIP). The report also noted that new security technologies, including drones, whose use by the US and other countries is growing quickly throughout the region, and cyber-spying of the kind that prompted this week’s abrupt cancellation by Brazilian Presi-

dent Dilma Rousseff of her state visit here next month, pose major challenges to the security environment and civil liberties in the region. Total US aid to Latin America hit its highest level in more than two decades in 2010 – nearly 4.5 billion dollars – due to the costs of the “Merida Initiative”, a multi-year programme for fighting drug-trafficking in Mexico and Central America, and a major inflow of assistance to help Haiti recover from that year’s devastating earthquake. But aid fell sharply in 2011 – to just 2.5 billion dollars – and is expected to decline to just 2.2 billion dollars in fiscal 2014, which begins October 1. Military and security assistance also reached its height in 2010, at 1.6 billion dollars, but has since declined to around 900 million dollars, largely as a result of the phase-out of Plan Colombia and the Merida Initiative. Central America is the only sub-region in which aid, including non-security assistance, is increasing significantly. But Isacson says dollar amounts can be deceptive, and while “big ticket” aid packages are down, “other,

less transparent forms of military-to-military co-operation are on the rise”, in part due to the migration of many programmes’ management from the State Department, which has more stringent reporting and human rights conditions, to the Pentagon. A troubling trend, according to the report, is that some countries, especially Colombia, have begun training military and police forces in their neighbours, often with US funding and encouragement. In that respect, these thirdcountry trainers act as private contractors who are not subject to US human-rights laws and whose cost is a fraction of that of their US counterparts. Despite their security forces’ own highly controversial human rights record, Colombian officers have been given major roles, for example, in Washington’s Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) and the Merida Initiative, as well as in Honduras’ police reform, according to the report. “Bringing the military into the streets can result in grave human-rights violations”, according to Haugaard who

also noted US involvement in poorly designed and heavyhanded counter-drug operations, such as one in Honduras last year in which four passengers in a river taxi were killed by a joint Honduran-DEA operation. Washington’s record has not been all bad, according to the report, which praised the Obama administration’s insertion of human rights into its high-level bilateral dialogues with Mexico, Colombia, and Honduras and its emphasis on the importance of civilian trials for soldiers implicated in serious rights abuses in Colombia and Mexico. The administration has also taken some steps to strengthen enforcement of the Leahy Law, which denies US aid and training to foreign military units that are credibly accused of serious rights abuses, according to the report. Still, Washington’s own human rights record, including its failure to close the Guantanamo detention facility, its newly revealed extensive surveillance programmes, and a drone policy that justifies extra-judicial executions opens it to charges of double standard, the report noted.

Friday, September 27, 2013 | Nº 177 | Caracas |


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Obama at the UN: A defense of unilateral aggression T/ Bill Van Auken


S President Barack Obama delivered his 5th address to an opening session of the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, mixing sanctimonious rhetoric about democracy and humanitarianism with naked threats of US military aggression. While the media obsessed over whether the US president would stage a handshake with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani—a meaningless gesture that the Iranians reportedly rejected—the real content of Obama’s 50-minute address was the elaboration of a foreign policy doctrine under which Washington arrogates to itself the right to militarily intervene in the Middle East as it sees fit to protect its “core interests”. The speech made clear that the “turn to diplomacy” in relation to both Syria and Iran represents not some fundamental turn away from the predatory policy pursued by US imperialism in the region through the wars of the last decade, but rather a tactical shift imposed upon the Obama administration by the emergence of overwhelming and unanticipated popular hostility to yet another war of aggression in the Middle East. This political reversal accounts for the decidedly defensive, at times self-pitying tone of Obama’s address, which was replete with complaints about Washington being maligned and misunderstood. Before concentrating on the targets for imminent US aggression—Syria and Iran—Obama claimed credit for creating a “more stable” world during his five years in the White House. He pointed to the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq—forced upon Washington by Iraq’s refusal to sign an agreement granting US forces immunity for war crimes—and the impending end of the war in Afghanistan, where the Pentagon is planning to leave up to 20,000 troops and maintain permanent bases. He boasted that his administration had “limited the use of

drones so they target only those who pose a continuing imminent threat” and to where “there’s a near-certainty of no civilian casualties”. This is nonsense. In Pakistan alone, it is estimated that more than 2,500 people have been killed in drone strikes, most of them civilians and the vast majority under Obama. The US president’s emergence as “assassin-in-chief”, ordering remote-control murders, is the starkest manifestation of US imperialism’s global criminality. The US president also took credit for “working diligently to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay,” which remains open near-

ly five years after he promised to close it, with detainees subjected to the torture of forced feeding and men the CIA tortured being placed on trial for their lives before military tribunals. In spite of these supposed conquests for peace and stability, Obama acknowledged that “dangers remain”, including Al Qaeda terror attacks, sectarian conflict and “the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction”. All of these trends, he claimed, converged most powerfully in Syria. No one would suspect from the US president’s remarks that Washington is employing and

arming Al Qaeda in Syria, as it did in Libya in 2011, as a proxy force in a war for regime change, or that it has deliberately stoked sectarianism, together with its reactionary Arab allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar, for the same purpose. The US president reiterated his unsubstantiated claims that the regime of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the August 21 chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus and defended his “willingness to order a limited strike” on Syria, because of his determination that it was “in the national security interests of the United States”. While claiming that evidence of the regime’s guilt in the August 21 incident was “overwhelming”, Obama offered no explanation of why Washington has refused to present its proof to the United Nations. Both the Syrian regime and Russia have charged that US-backed “rebels” staged the attack in order to blame it on the regime and provoke a US military intervention. Chiding Russia for its opposition to a unilateral and illegal US war on Syria, Obama stated: “We’re no longer in a cold war. There’s no great game to be won, nor does America have any interest in Syria beyond the wellbeing of its people”. There is a long history of the US bombing people for their own “well-being”. That other interests underlie these interventions goes without saying. Obama’s reference to the “great game”—the term used to describe the rivalry between British imperialism and the Russian empire over dominance in Central Asia—is telling. Precisely such predatory aims are involved in Syria, where Washington seeks to overthrow the Assad regime and replace it with a puppet government, as a means of isolating and weakening Iran, which it sees as a rival for hegemony in the energy-rich and strategically vital regions of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia.

Obama insisted that the deal reached between Washington and Moscow on the chemical disarmament of the Syrian regime be backed up with a “strong Security Council resolution” with “consequences” for Syria if it fails to meet the timetable set for destroying the weapons. Washington and its allies are pushing for a Chapter 7 resolution that would authorize military force. Russia has insisted it will veto any such measure. “If we cannot agree even on this”, Obama said, “then it will show that the United Nations is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws”. This is pretense he intends to use for justifying a unilateral US military attack. Much of the rest of Obama’s speech dealt with Iran and unsubstantiated US allegations that it is developing nuclear weapons. Despite his statement that “the diplomatic path must be tested” in US-Iran relations, Obama’s remarks consisted largely of ultimatums to Tehran, the implicit threat of military force and no concrete offer to lift the decades of US-driven sanctions that Rouhani in his own speech to the General Assembly described as “violent—pure and simple,” adding, “It is the common people who are victimized by these sanctions”. At the heart of Obama’s speech, and belying all its democratic and humanitarian blather, was a blunt definition of “US policy toward the Middle East and North Africa”. “The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region”, he said. First and foremost among these interests was “the free flow of energy from the region”. He also listed terrorism and weapons of mass destruction—the phony pretexts for the US invasion of Iraq—adding that “wherever possible” Washington would “respect the sovereignty of nations”, and wherever not, “we will take direct action”. That Washington’s militarist policy is stated so nakedly before the United Nations is one more indication of the uncontrolled eruption of US imperialism and the growing danger that US threats against Syria and Iran could turn into a regional war and even a global conf lagration.

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