Noam Chomsky on the crude reality of the US war in Afghanistan
Pg. 8 | Opinion
FRIDAY August 6, 2010 No. 23 Bs. 1 Caracas
A delegation of US educators found inspiration in Venezuela’s inclusive, participatory education model Pg. 7 | Interview
ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas
Obama’s broken promises
Lula’s In Town
Hope for a change in US policy towards Venezuela has faded
A famous handshake between Presidents Chavez and Obama raised hopes the new administration in Washington would lighten the aggressive stance against Venezuela assumed in Washington during the Bush administration. During their brief exchange last year, Obama told Chavez his government wouldn’t “interfere” in Venezuela, and he assured leaders throughout the region that Washington would engage in “respectful” relations with its neighbors. But an increase in US military power in the region combined with millions poured in to opposition groups in Venezuela and nations such as Bolivia and Ecuador, shows those promises have been broken.
Colombia’s Civil War
Coverage in mass media of the Colombian government’s latest accusation against Venezuela for allegedly harboring “guerrilla camps” has largely ignored the roots and causes of Colombia’s 60-year old civil war. Leftwing groups and right-wing paramilitary death squads connected to the political elite have ravaged the South American nation and left tens of thousands displaced, and thousands murdered, tortured and persecuted.
China and Venezuela Strengthen Ties The two nations solidified 19 joint agreements in energy, agriculture, science and technology.
Venezuela in the Market of the South Mercosur met this week in Argentina, Venezuela will soon be a full member.
Telesur reaches five continents
On its five-year anniversary, the Television of the South is making its voice heard around the world.
Venezuela at the forefront in the struggle against hunger
enezuela’s successful struggle against hunger and malnutrition has merited the recognition of international organizations, which have applauded the South American nation’s efforts to guarantee food sovereignty. “The right to food is a sacred, fundamental human right”, declared Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua during the inauguration of a state subsidized food distribution center this week. Over the past few years, the Venezuelan government has created two nationwide food distribution markets,
Mercal and PDVAL, and two supermarket chains, Bicentennial Supermarkets and Bicentennial Shops. Jaua remarked that these state subsidized food distribution networks have provided access to high quality food at low prices for people across Venezuela. “The idea is to continue improving nutrition levels of Venezuelans, and extend these successful programs to other areas that are essencial for quality of life”, emphasized Jaua. In recent years, private supermarkets have hiked up prices of food items, making many basic products
unaccessible to Venezuelans. In some cases, as a form of protest against the government, shop owners and private distributors illegally hoard products in order to increase demand and force inflation. The new state subsidized markets are alleviating this situation by offering the same products, in abundance and at affordable prices. The new distribution center for PDVAL, inaugurated this week, provides 10 tons of food per day and offers more than 100 products. It forms part of 100 centers of the PDVAL network nationwide.
razilian president Luis Ignacio “Lula” da Silva visited Venezuela this Friday, as part of the trimestral meetings held between the two nations. In addition to overseeing the ongoing implementation of multiple economic, technological, agricultural and energy agreements between both countries, Lula came with an agenda for peace. “President Lula is going to reiterate his readiness to facilitate a resumption of dialogue between Colombia and Venezuela and to rebuild ties between their two governments”, Lula’s spokesman Marcelo Baumbach told reporters on Thursday. “The President believes this is important for the transformation of a South American area free of tensions and conflicts”. Nestor Kirchner, Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), also was present in Venezuela this Thursday and Friday to advance dialogue on peace negotiations with Colombia. Kirchner met with President Chavez privately on Thursday to solidify a regional agenda for peace. Foreign Ministers from UNASUR met last Thursday in Ecuador on the Colombia-Venezuela conflict to initiate a continental peace plan, presented by Venezuela. President Lula is expected to attend the presidential inauguration of Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia on Saturday, as well as a farewell dinner for outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Friday evening.
| No 23 • Friday, August 6, 2010
The artillery of ideas
US Interference in Venezuela keeps growing Despite President Obama’s promise to President Chavez that his administration wouldn’t interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs, the US-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is channeling millions into anti-Chavez groups
$50,000 2009) and the Gumilla Center Foundation ($63,000). Others, such as the ‘Miguel Otero Silva’ Cultural Foundation ($51,500 2008 and $60.900 2009) and the unknown Judicial Proposal Association ($30,300 2008), have used NED funds to “conduct communications campaigns via local newspapers, radio stations, text messaging, and Internet, and distribute posters and flyers”. In the last three years, an opposition student/youth movement has been created with funding from various US and European agencies. More than 32% of USAID funding, for example, has gone to “training youth and students in the use of innovative media technologies to spread political messages and campaigns”, such as on Twitter and Facebook.
oreign intervention is not only executed through military force. The funding of “civil society” groups and media outlets to promote political agendas and influence the “hearts and minds” of the people is one of the more widely used mechanisms by the US government to achieve its strategic objetives. In Venezuela, the US has been supporting anti-Chavez groups for over 8 years, including those that executed the coup d’etat against President Chavez in April 2002. Since then, the funding has increased substantially. A May 2010 report evaluating foreign assistance to political groups in Venezuela, commissioned by the National Endowment for Democracy, revealed that more than $40 million USD annually is channeled to anti-Chavez groups, the majority from US agencies. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was created by congressional legislation on November 6, 1982. It’s mandate was anti-communist and anti-socialist and its first mission, ordered by President Ronald Reagan, was to support anti-Sandinista groups in Nicaragua in order to remove that government from power. NED reached its goal after 7 years and more than $1 billion in funding to build an anti-Sandinista political coalition that achieved power. Today, NED’s annual budget, allocated under the Department of State, exceeds $132 million. NED operates in over 70 countries worldwide. Allen Weinstein, one of NED’s original founders, revealed once to the Washington Post, “What we do today was done clandestinely 25 years ago by the CIA…” VENEZUELA Venezuela stands out as the
Latin American nation where NED has most invested funding in opposition groups during 2009, with $1,818,473 USD, more than double from the year before. In a sinister attempt to censure the destination of funds in Venezuela, NED excluded a majority of names of Venezuelan groups receiving funding from its annual report. Nonetheless, other official documents, such as NED’s tax declarations and internal memos obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, have disclosed the names of those receiving its million dollar funding in Venezuela. Of the more than $2.6 million USD given by NED to Venezuelan groups during 2008-2009, a majority of funds have gone to organizations relatively unknown in Venezuela. With the exception of some more known groups, such as CEDICE, Sumate, Consorcio Justicia and CESAP, the organizations receiving more than $2 million in funding appear to be mere façades and channels to distribute these millions to anti-Chavez groups. Unknown entities such as the Center for Leadership Formation for Peace and Social Development received $39.954 (2008) and $39.955 (2009) to “strengthen the capacity of community leaders to participate in local democratic processes”.
For several years, the Civil Association Kapé Kapé, which no one knows in Venezuela, has received grants ranging from $45,000 (2008) to $56,875 (2009) to “empower indigenous communities and strengthen their knowledge of human rights, democracy and the international organizations and mechanisms available to protect them”. In a clear example of foreign interference, NED funds were used to “create a document detailing the human rights violations perpetrated against them and denounce them before international organizations”. In other words, the US funded efforts inside Venezuela to aid Venezuelans in denouncing their government before international entities. FUNDING STUDENT MOVEMENTS A large part of NED funds in Venezuela have been invested in “forming student movements” and “building democratic leadership amongst youth”, from a US perspective and with US values. This includes programs that “strengthen the leadership capabilities of students and youth and enhance their ability to interact effectively in their communities and promote democratic values”. Two jesuit organizations have been the channels for this funding, Huellas ($49,950 2008 and
FUNDING MEDIA AND JOURNALISTS NED has also funded several media organizations in Venezuela, to aid in training journalists and designing political messages against the Venezuelan government. Two of those are the Institute for Press and Society (IPyS) and Espacio Publico (Public Space), which have gotten multimillion dollar funding from NED, USAID, and the Department of State during the past three years to “foster media freedom” in Venezuela. What these organizations really do is promote anti-Chavez messages on television and in international press, as well as distort and manipulate facts and events in the country in order to negatively portray the Chavez administration. The Washington Post recently published an article on USAID funding of media and journalists in Afghanistan (Post, Tuesday, August 3, 2010), an echo of what US agencies are doing in Venezuela. Yet such funding is clearly illegal and a violation of journalist ethics. Foreign government funding of “independent” journalists or media outlets is an act of mass deception, propaganda and a violation of sovereignty. US funding of opposition groups and media inside Venezuela not only violates Venezuelan law, but also is an effort to feed an internal conflict and prop up
n Tuesday, statements made by designated US Ambassador to Venezuela, Larry Palmer, on Venezuelan affairs were leaked to the press. Palmer, not yet confirmed by the Senate, showed low signs of diplomacy by claiming democracy in Venezuela was “under threat” and that Venezuela’s armed forces had “low morale”, implying a lack of loyalty to the Chavez administration. Palmer additionally stated he had “deep concerns” about “freedom of the press” and “freedom of expression” in Venezuela and mentioned the legal cases of several corrupt businessmen and a judge, which Palmer claimed were signs of “political persecution”. Palmer questioned the credibility of Venezuela’s electoral system, leading up to September’s legislative elections, and said he would “closely monitor threats to human rights and fundamental freedoms”. He also stated the unfounded and unsubstantiated claims made by Colombia of “terrorist training camps” in Venezuela was a “serious” and real fact obligating Venezuela to respond. Palmer affirmed he would “work closely to support civil society” groups in Venezuela, indicating an intention to continue US funding of the opposition, which the US consistently has referred to as “civil society”. These statements are a clear example of interference in internal affairs in Venezuela and an obvious showing that Obama has no intention of following through on his promises.
political parties that long ago lost credibility. This type of subversion has become a business and source of primary income for political actors promoting US agenda abroad. T/ Eva Golinger
The artillery of ideas
No 23 • Friday, August 6, 2010 |
Colombia’s civil war: The making of a paramilitary state Mainstream media’s distorted coverage of hypocritical attempts by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe –backed by the US government– to put pressure on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for the alleged presence of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) camps in Venezuelan territory is an injustice to the Colombian and Venezuelan people
olombian governments have all had US support - moral, military and monetary – for policies and strategies that have ensured the country’s civil war continues and illegal armed groups persist. Last week FARC leader Alfonso Cano announced to his country’s next president, Juan Manuel Santos, that his organization would seek a negotiated political solution to the decades-old conflict. For over 60 years, there have been ways to achieve a political solution to the conflict, but Colombian ruling elites and the US government have prefered civil war to social justice.
1948-1964 LA VIOLENCIA, DICATORSHIP AND THE FARC The current conflict began just over 62 years ago as a consequence of the long-standing, bitter rivalry between the two main parties of the time, the Liberals and the Conservatives. On April 9, 1948, Liberal candidate for the 1950 presidential election, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, was murdered in Bogota. He was expected to win the election and was popular with the poor and working classes. The people of Bogota erupted in reaction to his assassination. They blamed the Conservatives for his murder and the tensions between the two parties exploded. Former FARC leader Manuel Marulanda, who died in 2008, was one of many rural workers who formed armed groups linked to the Liberal Party to defend themselves against forced displacement from Conservative Party militias that took power. These were
paid nearly $2 million USD to paramilitaries for “protection”. Later, Chiquita was fined by a US court after admitting links to the paramilitaries. In 1997, the paramilitary groups formed the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), to centralize operations across Colombia. The peace talks with the FARC collapsed without a deal in 2002.
the forerunners to the present-day left-wing guerrillas and rightwing paramilitary groups. In 1958, a deal between the leadership of the two parties, termed the “National Front”, supported by the US government of the time, brought an end to the fighting between the Liberals and Conservatives. The parties had agreed to alternate power in the country. A corrupt, repressive political dictatorship was installed, lasting up until the 1980s. Both parties had similar policies – the country’s resources, land, oil, minerals and coffee, would remain in the hands of the elites and multinational corporations. There was no local democracy and all other political parties were banned from taking part in elections. The majority of Colombians were forced to remain impoverished and politically powerless. These conditions led Marulanda and his fellow workers and farmers to form the FARC in 1966, in order to fight against the oligarchy and the imposition of imperialism, and struggle to achieve democracy and social justice. The FARC and its progressive demands became popular in rural areas and by the 1980s, the group had infiltrated urban centers. Certain sectors of the political elite were beginning to feel they had to make a deal with the left-wing organization.
ment in the face of growing insurgency. The FARC and the ELN (National Liberation Army), a smaller guerrilla organization, engaged in peace talks with the government. A ceasefire was achieved at the end of 1984. Electoral reform enabled - as a result of the peace talks – the formation of a new political party, the Patriotic Union (UP). The UP was a broad a party of the left and the bulk of its members came from communities, social movements and labor unions. The party was also a vehicle for FARC soldiers to put down their arms and enter the political arena. But the leadership of the Colombian army and many in the ruling elite were completely opposed to the peace process. They planned a murderous response using the army and the right-wing paramilitary organizations against all who joined the Patriotic Union. By the end of the 1980s, 4,000 members of the Patriotic Union and thousands of trade unionists had been murdered and many thousands of victims’ family members had been left emotionally scarred. A large section of Colombian elites demonstrated they were opposed to conceding any democratic political space to left-wing parties or ideas. In 1987, the FARC pulled its members out of the UP and withdrew from the peace accord.
1980s: THE EXTERMINATION OF THE PATRIOTIC UNION In 1982, new Colombian President Belisario Betancur made it clear he sought a political settle-
1990s: FARC & PARAMILITARY EXPANSION In 1998, Andres Pastrana was elected president and brought hopes for an end to the conflict
after commencing a peace process with the FARC. However, he also signed the disastrous Plan Colombia military-aid package with the US government. The FARC and the paramilitaries grew in strength and power due to involvement in the cocaine industry. The FARC began to use conventional tactics, confronting the army head on. In 1998, only a week before the Pastrana peace talks began, they mounted a three-day siege in the city of Mitu, leaving 61 police, 24 soldiers and 10 civilians dead. Sixty-one uniformed men were kidnapped. Paramilitary violence was much worse. According to United Nations High Commission for Refugees, as a consequence of paramilitary violence against civilians, Colombia was second in the world for people being forceably displaced. PARAMILITARY STATE In 1994, the government set up civil-defense groups that legalized paramilitary organizations and incorporated them into the state system. At this time, Alvaro Uribe was governor of Antioquia and he was an enthusiastic supporter of the program. The paramilitaries were also protecting foreign companies operating in Colombia from FARC attacks and from the demands of workers and local communities where they were located. Paramilitaries murdered 4,000 trade unionists between 1986 and 2000 and maimed, tortured and displaced untold numbers of activists. US fruit company Chiquita
THE URIBE YEARS Uribe was elected President of Colombia in 2002, just in time to take charge of Plan Colombia funds and use them for all-out war – backed by Bush - against the FARC. Interestingly, he took a different approach to the paramilitaries. In 2005, Uribe introduced the Orwellian Law for Justice and Peace, which he argued would help bring peace to Colombia by demobilizing paramilitary forces. The law allowed for paramilitary crimes to be characterized as political, which meant extradition could be avoided under Colombian law. Under the law, paramilitaries could confess to heinous crimes and be given an amnesty or a light prison sentence. So far over 30,000 paramilitaries have allegedly demobilized, but several domestic and international human rights organizations have said the majority of them have rejoined different groups and the law just forced a restructuring of the death squads rather than end them. The so-called “para-politics” scandal in Colombia in 2006 unveiled links of paramilitaries with the highest levels of government. The seizure of a laptop from paramilitary leader Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, provided evidence of congressional and executive branch links to paramilitaries. As a result of the evidence, 140 members of the armed forces, 209 politicians –including 120 mayors and 28 senators– were arrested, including a cousin of Uribe. The US has given almost $10 billion USD to Colombia in military and security aid since 2000, therefore contributing to the consolidation of a “paramilitary state”. Last year, the US signed a contract with Uribe for its armed forces to use seven military bases across Colombia. T/ Steven Mather
| No 23 • Friday, August 6, 2010
The artillery of ideas
Venezuela and China further strengthen relations The two countries solidified funding for new Venezuelan development projects in the areas of energy, agriculture, and oil
he $4 billion dollar financing that Venezuela has secured from China is the first allocation of a $20 billion credit line agreed upon by the two nations last April. Nineteen initial projects will be carried out with the first disbursement of funds, explained Venezuelan Vice President, Elias Jaua. Jaua spoke about how Venezuela’s relationship with countries such as China is providing an alternative to international financial institutions dominated by US interests, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. “We are not accepting loan conditions anymore like those that past Venezuelan governments signed with the International Monetary Fund. Rather, we are obtaining financing sources that are durable and trustworthy, based on respect for our sovereignty”. MULTIPOLAR WORLD Jaua said the credit line, the largest granted by China to any nation in the last 50 years, represents the
fruits of the Venezuelan government’s multi-polar foreign policy. “The benefit of international policies carried out by the government of Venezuela, based on conditions of respect, sovereignty, and institutionality is clear”, he stated. Of the 19 projects to be realized with the funds, 4 are related to the strengthening of Venezuela’s energy sector. Over the past year, the country has suffered frequent
blackouts as the result of an electricity crisis caused by drought, heightened demand and outdated infrastructure. According to Jaua, the energy projects will be focused on revitalizing the electric system and consolidating generation and distribution in order to overcome the crisis. GROWING RELATIONS The Chavez administration has
made bolstering its cooperation with China one of its foremost foreign policy priorities. Trade between China and Venezuela has increased exponentially over recent years, from less than half a billion dollars in 2003 to approximately $5 billion in 2008. In 2008, China assisted Venezuela with the construction and launching of its first telecommunications satellite and more recently,
it has provided technical assistance and training for hydroelectric and thermoelectric infrastructure improvements. The relationship between the two nations has been based primarily on Venezuela’s export of oil and China’s cooperation in agricultural and industrial development in Venezuela. Venezuela currently exports nearly half a million barrels of oil to China daily and President Chavez said the goal is to reach 1 million barrels by 2013. The two governments have formed a joint petroleum company to exploit oil reserves in Venezuela’s Orinoco Belt, a region that has the largest untapped oil reserves in the world. Ten of the 19 new projects to be undertaken as a result of the new credit line being provided by China will focus on agricultural development in Venezuela. This includes advancing rice and corn cultivation in the states of Apure, Barinas, the Amacuro Delta, and Guarico as well as projects related to agro-industrial development such as the elaboration of irrigation systems. Mining and basic industries will also see further investment as will the manufacture of computer and cellular phone components. T/ Edward Ellis
Economic warfare against North Korea
uch has been written about the sinking of the South Korean ship Cheonan, and the evidence is widely regarded as clearly pointing to North Korean culpability. In the Western press, the case has generally been presented as solid and irrefutable. Yet, doubts persist. Recently two Korean-American physicists conducted several experiments to verify the South Korean government’s chemical analysis. What they found were results quite at variance with the reported conclusions. A team of Russian naval military experts visited South Korea to examine the evidence. There was good cooperation during the visit, and then the Russians returned home where they spent several weeks in analyzing the data. Russia informed North Korean officials that it did not trust the results of the South Korean investigation. “The Russian delegation
said if the truth is revealed, then South Korea and the US could be caught in an awkward position”. In an explosive recent development, the South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh obtained a copy of a Russian document summarizing their investigators’ findings. The Russians agreed with the South Koreans that the Cheonan sank as a result of a non-contact external explosion. No definitive determination could be made as to the cause of the explosion, but the Russians felt that the most likely explanation was that after the Cheonan damaged its propeller by sailing too close to shore, it struggled to maneuver into deeper waters, where it struck a non-contact sea mine. “The area of the ship’s accident is at risk of ocean mines, which is indirectly proven by the fact that the docking locations and voyage paths are restricted to the west seacoast of the Korean Peninsula”.
As for the recovered torpedo components, the Russian investigators reported, “It may be possible that the presented torpedo part was made in North Korea, but the ink mark is inconsistent with the normal standards of marking. Visual examination of the torpedo part indicates that the torpedo had been in the water for more than six months”. In other words, long before the Cheonan sank. “We do not conclude that this particular torpedo was launched to and impacted on the Cheonan ship”. North Korea may well be correct when it claims that it had nothing to do with the Cheonan’s fate. But who needs an ironclad case when there are geopolitical goals to be achieved? The State Department and Department of Treasury plan to expand the list of businesses and organizations subject to sanctions, freeze bank accounts, work with various for-
eign governments to stop North Korean trading companies from doing business, impose travel restrictions, and implement a host of other measures. As a consequence of blacklisting North Korean organizations and individuals, a diplomatic source says the US will suspend ties with any banks dealing with them. “Think of Citibank or Bank of America suspending business ties with Bank of China or Bank of Shanghai. That will be a great burden to China”. Already existing sanctions have caused a shortage of raw materials, says Korean economic analyst Cho Boo Hyung, which has led to reduced output. And a decrease in food production will trigger negative economic growth. Cho feels that additional sanctions could produce another famine in North Korea, comparable to that of the 1990s. President Lee Myung-bak of
South Korea has also seized the opportunity presented by Cheonan’s sinking to further his goals. As a long-time opponent of the Sunshine Policy of his two predecessors, Lee never hid his ambition to dismantle all of the progress that had been made in recent years with relations between the two Koreas. No sooner had Lee taken office than he cancelled and froze several agreements signed with North Korea by former President Roh Moo-hyun. A broad-based international investigation needs to take place, and its results made fully public. The 46 sailors who lost their lives when the Cheonan sank deserve the truth, whatever it may be. As do the peoples of both Koreas, whose future is intertwined in so many ways. But geopolitical considerations guarantee that no such international probe will take place. T/ Gregory Elich
The artillery of ideas
No 23 • Friday, August 6, 2010 |
Venezuela: On the path to full membership in Mercosur V
enezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro affirmed that his country already “feels like a full member of Mercosur” during the 39th Meeting of the Common Market of the South in San Juan, Argentina this week. “We are already part of the structures of Mercosur which have been growing and diversifying. We are in an advanced integration process at all levels”, explained Maduro. Mercosur was founded in 1991 as a regional trade body between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Venezuela became an associate member of the group in 2005 and since 2006 has been in the process of being admitted to the trade block as a full member. Maduro pointed out that before his country joined the organization, Venezuela had “practically no important commercial activity with Mercosur nations, as all our activities were with the north”. Over the past 4 years, trade between Venezuela and Mercosur countries has increased to $28 billion USD and joint investments have reached more than $100 billion USD, the Foreign Minister informed.
ONLY PARAGUAY REMAINS For Venezuela and other associate countries such as Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia to join Mercosur as full member states, the congress of each full member country must approve its admission.
“We deeply want to construct peace – a just peace in South America. We want to overcome all armed conflicts and wars which might exist in South America”. During the Foreign Ministers’ meeting held on Monday, Maduro expressed hope over the progress being made on a peaceful resolution with Colombia. “We’re optimistic about the declarations that have been made from some insurgent groups, functionaries of the new [Colombian] government, and spokespeople from organizations such as the Catholic Church and some political parties… We insist on the need for peace. The only war that persists in South America is the internal war in Colombia which directly affects us as a neighbor”, indicated Maduro. Paraguay is the only remaining country that has not yet approved Venezuela’s inclusion. Maduro called on the Paraguayan congress to ratify Venezuela’s full membership, exhorting lawmakers to take a closer look at the social and economic strides Venezuela has made over the years. “We are making a fraternal and sincere call to all [Paraguayan] political and business sectors that they open their hearts and minds and see the Venezuela of today”, he exclaimed.
In August and September, Venezuela will hold meetings with Paraguayan business leaders “to advance towards an economic plan of cooperation”. PEACEFUL RESOLUTION WITH COLOMBIA The current crisis in relations between Colombia and Venezuela was also discussed during the meetings. Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo called for a peaceful resolution of the heightened tensions between the two neighboring states.
“No reasons exist in the South America of 2010 that warrant any other path than the path of peace and respect for international law. We share an irrevocable desire for unity, solidarity, and sovereign development”, Lugo said. “We are sure that there will be a peaceful, complete, and lasting solution to the controversies between these two brother governments. It’s only a question of time”, added the Paraguayan President. For his part, Foreign Minister Maduro concurred with the Paraguayan head of state.
OTHER OUTCOMES As an economic outcome of the meetings, member countries eliminated the double charging of tariffs on non-Mercosur goods and created a mechanism to redistribute customs revenues. The measure pushes the trade block closer to the customs union it was founded to be and compensates poorer countries, such as landlocked Paraguay, who would otherwise lose revenue from the inability to charge tariffs on certain goods. T/ EE
Venezuela secures borders, wary of Colombian intentions
n response to the detection of increased Colombian military aircraft near the border with Venezuela, Venezuela created ten special military zones along its border to defend against any potential armed aggression. “It is with much concern that we have detected a substantial increase in aircraft flying near our border with Colombia”, President Chavez revealed last Friday. The flights were detected on the Colombian side of the border in the zones of La Guajira, La Fria, and Alto Apure, as well as in areas near Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire in the Caribbean. The flight patterns indicated the aircraft were possibly carrying out spy missions rather than following direct routes, said Chavez.
In response, Venezuela will deploy troops in military “districts” that operate together to form “integral defense zones” along its 1,400 mile (2,250 km) border with Colombia. The Venezuelan military have been on alert since July 22nd when Colombia brought accusations before the Organization of American States (OAS) that Venezuela tolerates the presence of Colombian guerrillas in its territory. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez severed diplomatic relations with Colombia, saying the accusations were aimed at setting the basis for a future military intervention by Colombian forces, with the support of the billions of dollars in military aid that the US government provides to its primary South American ally. Chavez reiterated this interpreta-
tion of events on Friday. “The strategy of the US for which Colombia serves as a player, is for the war [in Colombia] to be internationalized, in order to have the excuse to intervene in Venezuela”, he said, referring to the civil war between the Colombian government and guerrilla insurgents that has raged since the 1960s. As a result of Colombia’s war, Venezuela has been a victim of the presence of paramilitary squads linked to the Colombian government, increased drug trafficking carried out by the paramilitaries and insurgents, and the influx of an estimated 4.5 million Colombians fleeing the violence. In official statements, Colombia denied plans to attack Venezuela and said its aircraft have remained in Colombian territory.
“Colombia has never thought of attacking the fraternal people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”, a press release from the Colombian Office of the President stated. A Foreign Relations Ministry statement, released separately, said, “Based on precise information provided by the Ministry for National Defense, no Colombian military helicopter or aircraft has flown over Venezuelan air space”. Last October, Colombia signed a military deal with the US to allow an increase in US troop presence on seven Colombian bases and to step up espionage and military operations across the South American continent, according to official US Air Force documents. Just days ago, the Colombian military installed a new air base
in the Casanare province. The base will host aircraft that will carry out transport, intelligence, and combat missions in Casanare as well as Arauca province, which borders Venezuela’s Apure state, according to an official statement of the Colombian Armed Forces. In 2009, Colombia increased military expenditure by 11% and its military spending as a percentage of GDP was the greatest in the region. Venezuela reduced its military spending by 25% last year, and occupied fifth place in the region in military spending as a percentage of GDP, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. T/ James Suggett www.venezuelanalysis.com
| No 23• Friday, August 6, 2010
The artillery of ideas
A worker-run energy plan in Venezuela More than 140,000 Caracas residents will benefit from the worker-led recovery of an abandoned power plant on the outskirts of Caracas
of the power plant La Mariposa represents part of an overall government strategy to improve and diversify the electric sector of the country. “We will be installing at least 15,000 additional megawatts until the year 2015”, affirmed Vice President Jaua. According to Jaua, the government has been able to achieve the addition of 1,087 MW to the National Electric System in the past six months.
uring an inspection of the power plant La Mariposa, Venezuelan Energy Minister Ali Rodriguez reported that the facility would soon have the capacity to produce 45 megawatts (MW) of electricity, enough to supply the residents of the neighborhood of Altos Mirandinos and southeast Caracas. The plant was taken over by Venezuelan workers in March in response to the electricity crisis that had been affecting the country over the past year. “In addition to reestablishing the machinery that was inactive, we are installing a new generation capacity to satisfy the demand that we foresee due to population growth, industrial development and an improving living standard for residents of the country”, explained Vice President Elias Jaua last Thursday. Cuban workers from their country’s Electric Union have assisted the Venezuelans in the rehabilitation of the plant, which had been neglected for more than 20 years. “This is an example of the political decision that President
Hugo Chavez has taken to involve workers of the [electric] sector in the solution to the national electric emergency. Together, with the support of Cuban workers, the job has been completed of rehabilitating facilities that were totally abandoned and discarded by former governments as a way to advance the privatization of the electric sector”, Jaua said. DEPENDENCE ON HYDROELECTRIC POWER Seventy percent of electricity in
Venezuela is hydroelectric, generated by the Guri Dam in the state of Bolivar. When a prolonged drought significantly reduced the dam’s water level earlier this year, the supply of electricity in the nation could not meet rising demand, resulting in frequent power outages across the country. Claiming they had the skills and knowledge to help pull the country out of the crisis, workers from the state-run national electricity corporation Corpoelec took to the
streets last September to demand greater participation in the management of the company. According to the workers, many of the problems associated with the crisis were the product of excessive bureaucracy in Corpoelec. Last December, the government signed an historic, industry-wide collective contract with workers, establishing the parameters for greater worker involvement in the management and decision-making processes of the company. The worker-led revitalization
ENERGY PLAN Electricity Minister, Ali Rodriguez, spoke during the inspection about steps that need to be taken to avoid problems in the future. “We are honest about the fact that there are problems that still need to be resolved, problems in which we have involved workers to advance the transmission systems and in some cases distribution. We are renovating the entire Venezuelan electric system”. Part of the renovation includes an energy plan in the western state of Zulia, which according to the government, will add 3,000 MW and cover the total demand of the state. In the Andean region of the country, a new dam and generating plant are under construction to add another 500 MW. T/ Edward Ellis
Telesur expands to Europe, Middle East and Africa
n agreement signed by the multi-state television channel Telesur to incorporate its signal into the Hotbird 8 satellite will allow Latin America’s voice to reach more than 123 countries in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Telesur President Andres Izarra explained the station would establish correspondents in Madrid, Spain, and in Africa, and already has one bureau in Syria covering Middle Eastern affairs. Izarra also announced that as of this week, Telesur is available in digital format throughout Argentine. However, the station is not available for most Argentines due to obstacles imposed by media monopolies in the South American nation. The current government of Cristina Fernandez in Argentina is pursuing efforts to democratize
the media and provide for more open access for citizens. Telesur was created on 2005 as a joint venture between Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Its mission is to offer a different view of events that occur in Latin America, with reports by journalists and regular people who provide a real perspective from the eyes and voices of Latin Americans. Already, Telesur is transforming the way important events are portrayed worldwide. The station was the only network on the ground in Honduras during last year’s coup d’etat against President Manuel Zelaya. It’s also covered hostage releases in Colombia, the discovery of mass graves with thousands of bodies that were assassinated at the hands of Colombia’s armed forces, and the tragic Haitian
earthquake – all from and in depth and humanistic perspective. OBSTACLES Media monopolies that control the distribution of television stations in Argentina, Mexico, and the United States, have been hin-
dered the transmission of Telesur in these countries. Izarra said the station’s board of directors is planning strategies to thwart the effects of this situation and to seek access to the audiences in these nations. “In Mexico, it’s been very hard
to broadcast because of the media company Televisa, which controls the entire industry. A similar situation is happening in Argentina, where we are fighting for a space on the networks. But with the actual process of democratization of media being carried out by the Argentinian government, we can now expect to move forward”, he said. Izarra explained that in the United States, the transmission of Telesur is available through satellite, but companies that control satellite television, such as Direct TV, have refused to include the station. “The companies who control Direct TV won’t include Telesur in their transmission packages, but they do include Globovision (an anti-Chavez channel in Venezuela). It’s a political decision”. T/ Bolivarian News Agency
The artillery of ideas
No 23 • Friday, August 6, 2010 | |
“Venezuela has a free and dynamic exchange of ideas” Last week a delegation of US educators from the Mayor’s Office in Oakland, California, visited Venezuela to exchange ideas and experiences with public education institutions and to gain a better understanding of the various levels and forms of public education in Venezuela. We spoke with delegation leader Roy Wilson from the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center in Oakland
hat did you find most interesting in Venezuela? The methodology of formal learning impressed all of us. At all educational levels, and especially within the missions dedicated to education, the method of inclusion impressed us. There is an inclusion of formerly excluded sectors of society. The poor, low-income workers, AfroVenezuelans and the Indigenous communities have actively and massively integrated into formal learning structures. And within the schools and missions students are integrated into the learning process at all levels. They participate in curriculum decisions, teaching, and in administration of the educational institution. Also, the content of the curriculum at all levels aims at assisting the individual in becoming a well-rounded, conscious and participatory citizen; one that engages life from his/her nobler self, capable of sympathy, social affection and solidarity. The educational process thus permits group development, neighborhood development and the development of a nation of citizens who participate in their own lives and in guiding or directing their government toward more inclusion, peace and even a stronger democracy. In the US, most media portray President Chavez as a dictator, did you find Venezuela to be a dictatorship? No. When defining dictatorship we think one of the primary
characteristics is the suppression of ideas, especially ideas contrary to those of the government. This definition includes censorship and the banning of newspapers or magazines and other forms of expression. We can see clearly that a free and dynamic exchange of ideas and ideologies is present among the people, in the schools and within other social entities such as unions and faith based organizations. We even saw billboards along the highways expressing what we would call “attacks” against the government. What most impacted you in the communities and schools you visited? We are very impressed at the community spirit and happiness of the people. Much of the work in the missions, for example, takes place in the evenings after work. Many of the instructors and most of the students work regular jobs during the day. That is, most of the instructors are volunteers. Among the students and instructors exists a very high level of community spirit, cooperation and mutual respect. This attitude brings everyone together. It draws together in the same class room those who are excelling and those still getting their bearings in the learning process creating a moving and inspir-
“...In the US, the picture of Venezuela put forth by all the major media, the government and many universities and colleges portrays Venezuela as an oppressive, brutal dictatorship” ing aura of community cohesion and fraternity. Do you think what’s happening in Venezuela could inspire people in the US to make political changes? We think that many aspects of Venezuela’s revolutionary process hold the potential to inspire us in the United States. Realistically, the process of connecting to those aspects is difficult from a pragmatic sense. First, it is difficult to visualize Venezuela accurately because, in the US, the picture of Venezuela put forth by all the major media, the government and many universities and colleges portrays Venezuela as an oppressive, brutal dictatorship. These are lies. So we, citizens of the United States have the hard task of providing an honest and accurate photo of the government
and people of Venezuela. We think that is a practical task that will take hard work, sacrifice and what Dr. King calls, the development of “otherinterestedness”. Secondly, many of the major changes in Venezuela society, such as those dramatic changes of inclusion and democracy within the educational system, requires great changes in both the conduct and consciousness of many US citizens and organizations. In other words, Venezuela offers much to learn and inspires us immensely, and this learning and inspiration helps visualize changes in our society that require dedicated individuals capable of sustained, disciplined work to organize and educate tens of thousands. The governments of the US and Venezuelan are not on very good terms. Right now, Venezuela perceives US military buildup in the region and certain statements coming out of the White House and State Dept as threatening. Do you think that the people of the US can change this, if so, how? Yes. As we suggested, this will require education, organization and mobilization. It is obvious that the people of the United States have not successfully orga-
nized to end our nation’s current aggression toward many countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, for example). There is, perhaps, a difference with the aggression against Venezuela. For one thing, a great and growing force of democracy and solidarity exists between key governments in Latin America and among the people of all of Latin America. Secondly, the political power and role of the Latino community in the United States is growing rapidly. Some even suggest that the Latino community might be the base of a reconstructed Civil and Human Rights movement in the United States, and the Latin community is already much more aware and organized about the rights of Latinos, about immigration rights and the right to sovereignty. There is no guarantee about much in today’s complex world, but it seems like a good possibility that the people of the United States, who are gaining consciousness due to increased expectations from ourselves and our government regarding jobs, justice and environmental sustainability, can impact US aggression against Venezuela. T/ Eva Golinger P/ City of Oakland Delegation
FRIDAY August 6, 2010 No. 23 Bs. 1 Caracas
ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas
A publication of the Fundacion Correo del Orinoco Editor-in-Chief | Eva Golinger • Graphic Design | Arturo Cazal, Pablo Valduciel L., Alexander Uzcátegui, Jameson Jiménez • Press | Fundación Imprenta de la Cultura
The war in Afghanistan: echoes of Vietnam T
he War Logs--a six-year archive of classified military documents about the war in Afghanistan, released on the Internet by the organization WikiLeaks--documents a grim struggle becoming grimmer, from the US perspective. And for the Afghans, a mounting horror. The War Logs, however valuable, may contribute to the unfortunate and prevailing doctrine that wars are wrong only if they aren’t successful--rather like the Nazis felt after Stalingrad. Last month came the fiasco of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, forced to retire as commander of US forces in Afghanistan and replaced by his superior, Gen. David H. Petraeus. A plausible consequence is a relaxation of the rules of engagement so that it becomes easier to kill civilians, and an extension of the war well into the future as Petraeus uses his clout in Congress to achieve this result. Afghanistan is President Obama’s principal current war. The official goal is to protect ourselves from al-Qaida, a virtual organization, with no specific base -- a “network of networks” and “leaderless resistance”, as it’s been called in the professional literature. Now, even more so than before, al-Qaida consists of relatively independent factions, loosely associated throughout the world. The CIA estimates that 50 to 100 al-Qaeda activists may now be in Afghanistan, and there is no indication that the Taliban want to repeat the mistake of offering sanctuary to al-Qaeda. By contrast, the Taliban appear to be well-established in their vast forbidding landscape, a large part of the Pashtun territories. In February, in the first exercise of Obama’s new strategy, US Marines conquered Marja, a minor district in Helmand province, the main center of the insurgency. There, reported The New York Times’ Richard A. Oppel Jr., “The Marines have collided with a Taliban identity so dominant that the movement appears more akin to the only political organization in a oneparty town, with an influence that touches everyone”. “’We’ve got to re-evaluate our definition of the word `enemy’, said Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, commander of the Marine expeditionary brigade in Helmand Provin-
ce. `Most people here politically would be Under these circumstances, identify themselves like a conflict betit is not surprising that US as Taliban. We have to ween a minnow and readjust our thinking authorities are concerned that a whale, Pike recogso we’re not trying to nized. We therefore public support for the war in chase the Taliban out had to overcome the Afghanistan may erode of Marja, we’re trying NLF’s political force to chase the enemy by using our comeven further out’”. parative advantage, The Marines are facing a problem that violence--with horrifying results. has always bedeviled conquerors, one that Others have faced similar problems: for is very familiar to the U.S. from Vietnam. In example, the Russians in Afghanistan du1969, Douglas Pike, the leading U.S. gover- ring the 1980s, where they won every battle nment scholar on Vietnam, lamented that but lost the war. the enemy--the National Liberation FrontWriting of another US invasion--the Phi-was the only “truly mass-based political lippines in 1898--Bruce Cumings, an Asia party in South Vietnam”. historian at the University of Chicago, Any effort to compete with that enemy made an observation that applies all too
aptly to Afghanistan today: “When a sailor sees that his heading is disastrous he changes course, but imperial armies sink their boots in quicksand and keep marching, if only in a circle, while the politicians plum the phrase book of American ideals”. After the Marja triumph, the US-led forces were expected to assault the major city of Kandahar, where, according to a US Army poll in April, the military operation is opposed by 95 percent of the population, and 5 out of 6 regard the Taliban as “our Afghan brothers”--again, echoes of earlier conquests. The Kandahar plans were delayed, part of the background for McChrystal’s leavetaking. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that US authorities are concerned that public support for the war in Afghanistan may erode even further. In May, WikiLeaks released a March CIA memorandum about how to sustain Western Europe’s support for the war. The memorandum’s subtitle: “Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough”. “The Afghanistan mission’s low public salience has allowed French and German leaders to disregard popular opposition and steadily increase their troop contributions to the International Security Assistance Force”, the memorandum states. “Berlin and Paris currently maintain the third and fourth highest ISAF troop levels, despite the opposition of 80 percent of German and French respondents to increased ISAF deployments”. It is therefore necessary to “tailor messaging” to “forestall or at least contain backlash”. The CIA memorandum should remind us that states have an internal enemy: their own population, which must be controlled when state policy is opposed by the public. Democratic societies rely not on force but on propaganda, engineering consent by “necessary illusion” and “emotionally potent oversimplication”, to quote Obama’s favorite philosopher, Reinhold Niebuhr. The battle to control the internal enemy, then, remains highly pertinent--indeed, the future of the war in Afghanistan may hinge on it. Noam Chomsky Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the author of dozens of books on U.S. foreign policy. This article is from his monthly column for The New York Times News Service/Syndicate.