China, Russia Call for Respecting Venezuela Elections, Condemn US Intervention

Source:  TeleSUR
May 21 2018

maduro wins may 2018 2

President Nicolas Maduro won the Venezuelan presidential elections Sunday, gaining a second presidential term for six years with more than 5.8 million votes.

A day after the Venezuelan general elections, China and Russia called on Monday for respecting the country’s democratic process and rejected attempts of interfence by the United States and other regional powers.

RELATED:  Cuba: Diaz-Canel, Raul Castro Congratulate Maduro

“The parties involved must respect the decision of the Venezuelan people,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang at a press conference in Beijing, as he encouraged resolving any dispute through legal channels, EFE reported.

Kang affirmed China’s policy of not interfering in internal affairs of other countries and was convinced that the Venezuelan government and citizens will be able to resolve the issues.  “China will address the relevant issues in accordance with diplomatic practice,” the spokesman added.

Victory for Maduro despite open US interference

President Nicolas Maduro won the Venezuelan presidential elections Sunday, gaining a second presidential term for six years with more than 5.8 million votes, the country’s National Electoral Council (CNE) reported.

The opposition candidate, former governor, Henri Falcón came second after Maduro – and the evangelical expiator Javier Bertucci have made accusations of irregularities.

Maduro’s win comes at a time when the United States and its right-wing regional allies as well as several European governments have made several attempts to intervene in Venezuela’s presidential elections through sanctions and boycott calls against the Venezuelan election saying they won’t recognize the results, policies that were rejected by the Russian Foreign Ministry Monday.

“We regrettably have to note that in these elections, in addition to the two traditional participants, that is, the Venezuelan people, the electors, on the one hand, and on the other the candidates who presented their programs … there was a third participant, the governments who openly called for a boycott of the vote,” said Alexánder Schetinin, director of the Latin American Department of the Foreign Ministry.

Schetinin also added that Russia is often accused of meddling in other countries’ elections but in Venezuela’s case, some countries have meddled indiscriminately.

He added that some countries put obstacles “among others to hinder the voting in their territories of Venezuelans who are abroad.”

“And even worse when a whole series of governments, including the one you are appointing (United States), a priori declared that they would not recognize the results,” he said during a press conference, the Interfax news agency reported.

“The elections have been held and their results have an irreversible character: two-thirds of the votes went to the current president of the country, Nicolás Maduro,” he concluded.

Latin American support

While Many countries in Latin America have recognized the Venezuelan elections and congratulated President Maduro, such as Cuba, Bolivia and El Salvador, right-wing governments in the region have dismissed the vote as “illegtimate” echoing statements by the U.S. and Canada and some Western countries who had dismissed the vote and teh results before the election had even taken place.

The so-called Lima Group plus Canada issued a statement Monday saying it did not recognize the legitimacy of Venezuela’s presidential election. The statement said the countries would call their ambassadors back from Caracas for consultations and hold a meeting to coordinate a regional response to what they call “crisis” in Venezuela. They also said they would seek a new resolution on “the situation” in the South American country.

Such attempts of interference into Venezuela’s internal affairs have repeatedly been rejected over the past few months by the government in Caracas as well as left-wing governments in the region.

The Lima Group includes Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Santa Lucia, Canada, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Maduro’s Victory is ‘Liberation of All the Americas’

Source:  TeleSUR
May 21 2018

maduro wins may 2018.jpg

The Dominican Committee of Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela said Maduro’s win is a victory for Latin American and Caribbean peoples.

The Dominican Committee of Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela issued a statement to congratulate “Comrade Nicolas Maduro” on victory in the Venezuelan presidential elections.

RELATED:   Bolivia’s Morales: Maduro’s Victory a Triumph Over Intervention

“The Dominican Republic celebrates the recent victory with all of Venezuela, all Venezuelans, and all Latin Americans despite imperialist threats and the isolated echoes of its deceptive allies,” the Committee of Solidarity expressed.

The organization reiterated solidarity with the people of the Bolivarian Republic, citing Maduro’s win as a victory in the continued fight of Latin America and the Latin American and Caribbean peoples.

The committee also said that the endurance of the “revolutionary Chavista and socialist” mantra was a positive move towards the “liberation of all the Americas.”

Members of the Dominican Committee of Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution.

The statement added that President Maduro’s victory is demonstrative of the people of Venezuela’s commitment to commemorating the ideals of Commander Hugo Chavez – a future of peace, unity, and solidarity among Venezuelans, and by extension all Latin American and Caribbean peoples.

Venezuela’s successful electoral process, the release says, incubates the strengthening of Interamerican institutions like Unasur, ALBA, and Celac by reinforcing the democracy between its national institutions.  The solidarity committee noted that President Maduro is embarking on a new six-year term confirming the will of the Venezuelan people to be free,indepemdent,sovereign and socialist.

In conclusion,, the organization highlighted a shared triumph with fearless people of Venezuela, Maduro, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela as well as Latin America and the wider Caribbean.

 

US Interventions in Latin America Continue and Intensify

Source:  The Real News Network
May 6 2018

Transcript

GREG WILPERT: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Greg Wilpert coming to you from Quito, Ecuador.

Ten years ago, most of Latin America was governed by center-left progressive or even leftist governments. For example, Cristina Fernandez in Argentina, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, and Lula da Silva in Brazil, just as an example. And Hugo Chavez, of course, in Venezuela. Since then, the so-called ‘pink tide’ has receded quite dramatically. Of these 10 governments that were left of center, only four remain. Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia, Vazquez in Uruguay, and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. What happened? Some would argue that the U.S. played an important role in at least some of these changes.

Joining me to explore the role of the U.S. in Latin America is Mark Weisbrot. Mark is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and is the author of the book “Failed: What the Experts Got Wrong About the Global Economy.” He’s also the president of the organization Just Foreign Policy. Thanks for being here again, Mark.

MARK WEISBROT: Thanks, Greg. Thanks for having me.

GREG WILPERT: So before we get into the role of the U.S. in Latin America, it’s useful maybe to take a quick look at the impact that the leftist or center-left governments had on Latin America. What would you say were the main achievements or the main consequences of their governments in some of those countries?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, if you look at the region as a whole, the poverty rate dropped from 44 to 28 percent. That was from around 2003-2013. And that was after the two decades prior where poverty had actually increased, there was no progress at all. So that was a huge change, and it was accomplished in different countries in different ways. You know, there were large increases in public investment in Bolivia and Ecuador. In Brazil you had also some increase in public investment , big increases in the minimum wage. You know, every country did different things to help bring healthcare, and increase, in some countries, education, access to education. And there were a whole lot of reforms. Changes in macroeconomic policy. Getting rid of the IMF.

So there were a lot of different things that these governments did that prior governments were either unable or unwilling to do to improve people’s living standards during a period of higher economic growth, which they also contributed to.

GREG WILPERT: And so how has Latin America changed now since then, when right-wing governments took over most of the continent?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, you have different things that have changed. I mean, one is, of course, they’re implementing, as you would expect, right-wing reforms. Trying to cut pension system, the pension in Brazil, passing a constitutional amendment which, you know, even most economists in the world wouldn’t support in Brazil, which prohibits the government from increasing spending beyond the rate of inflation. You have, you know, huge increases in utility prices in Argentina, laying off thousands of public sector workers. So everywhere where the right has come back, you do have some regressive changes.

GREG WILPERT: And so how has the U.S. contributed to these changes, and what goals would you say is the U.S. pursuing in the area?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, I think the U.S. has contributed in so many ways it would take an hour at least to summarize just some of this history. But I think the U.S. has been involved in, in most of these countries in various ways. Obviously in Venezuela they’ve been involved since the coup in 2002, and they tried to overthrow the government and tried to help people topple the government on several occasions there. In Brazil they supported the coup against Dilma, the parliamentary coup. So they didn’t do that strongly, but they sent enough signals, for example, I’ve mentioned this before on this show, right as the House was voting to impeach Dilma without actually presenting a crime that she committed, the head of the Foreign Relations Committee from the Senate came and met with the number three official from the U.S. State Department, Tom Shannon. And then of course in August of that year, the Secretary of State John Kerry went down there and had a press conference with the Acting Foreign Minister Jose Serra. And they, of course, talked about how great relations with the U.S. were going to be before Dilma was actually removed from office. So these were ways of endorsing the coup.

And of course, the Department of Justice contributed to , the FBI, the Department of Justice contributed to the investigation that was instrumental in imprisoning Lula. Now, what they did in that investigation we don’t know exactly, but we do know enough about it to know that it wasn’t a neutral investigation. That is, the investigation did end up decapitating the Workers’ Party for now, first helping get rid of Dilma, but more importantly, or more substantially, in terms of its contribution, they they helped put Lula in prison and prevent him from running for office.

And in other countries, in Paraguay, the U.S. helped in the consolidation of that parliamentary coup by organizing within the Organization of American States. In Honduras is probably the biggest role that the U.S. has played, both in consolidating the military coup in 2009, Hillary Clinton acknowledged her role in making sure that President Zelaya, the democratically elected president, would not return to office, and then more recently in November they helped consolidate the results of an election which pretty much all observers regarded as stolen.

Those are just a few of the examples. I mean, I guess I didn’t even mention Argentina, where other branches of government were involved as well as the executive, but the executive cut off lending from multilateral development banks such as the Inter-American Development Bank, and tried to block loans at the World Bank, as well. And they restored everything as soon as the right-wing government was elected. And then there was Judge Griesa in New York, who took all of Argentina’s, over 90 percent of Argentina’s creditors, hostage in order to squeeze them so that the government would pay off the vulture funds. And this was very political, because he also lifted the injunction as soon as you had the right-wing government.

And I think this is very important, because obviously it’s not necessarily a conspiracy of all these branches of government. The legislative branch was involved in this as well, in the United States. But they all have the same mindset, and they’re all trying to get rid of these left governments, and they had a massive contribution. I mean, Argentina, that did contribute to the downfall of Cristina Kirchner. It contributed to balance of payments problems that they had there. So this was important, and it’s totally ignored here in the United States.

GREG WILPERT: And then why was it ignored in the United States? I mean, what is it about U.S. media coverage, and why is there so little coverage of U.S. role and Latin America?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, you know, maybe you should interview some of the reporters who cover it, if they’re willing to answer that question. I think that it’s it’s complicated in some ways, but in some ways it’s very simple. First of all, for U.S. intervention anywhere in the world they have a kind of a smoking gun standard. So you know, we have in our criminal justice system the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. But this is a much higher standard. So nothing is really discussed in terms of U.S. intervention unless it’s really a smoking gun, where they’re caught red-handed in a way that nobody could deny. And that almost never happens.

So in Venezuela, for example, in 2002 when you had the coup, you had State Department and CIA documents which documented the involvement of the United States. They helped fund and train the people who did the coup, and they made statements following the coup that they knew were false in order to help the coup consolidate itself, and they failed in that case. But you know, in Haiti in 2004, which I hadn’t even mentioned, they took the president and put him on a rendition plane, and flew him out of the country. That was in broad daylight.

But in any case, they have a story that’s not at all believable, and the press kind of accepts that and never looks back. Whenever they mentioned, you know, Chavez complained about the coup, and it was a major obvious source of bad relations with Venezuela, but they always just reported it as an allegation of a figure that they of course were discrediting at every turn.

So that’s kind of how they report all of these. When they report the facts at all, they put it in the context that makes it look like there wasn’t any intent, or any real effect of U.S. policy in the region. But mostly it’s like reporting on Ukraine and never mentioning Russia, you know, it’s as if the United States doesn’t have any real influence in the Americas, and of course anybody knows they have an enormous influence.

GREG WILPERT: So what would you say are some of the implications for the foreseeable future of this U.S. policy towards Latin America?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, right now, of course, they’re still involved. And you have intervention in Mexico, for example. U.S. officials have already said how worried they are that AMLO, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is the frontrunner in the upcoming election in July. And he’s probably going to win, but they’re already trying to undermine him, lobbying accusations of Russia involvement, which is the new trend. Of course, completely unsubstantiated. In Venezuela they’re doing something probably never done in the last 50 years, openly calling for a military coup, and actually a financial embargo they’ve put in place, and threatening even a worse embargo if they don’t get rid of the current government. So that’s, I think, a more aggressive form of intervention than you had even under the prior administrations.

And they’re pretty open about it. And again, most of the media seems to treat it as a non-issue. In fact, that’s actually a very important example, because there’s an election going to take place in a couple of weeks, and the media is pretending that it’s not really an election. But you have a credible opposition candidate who’s leading in the polls, and they’ve reached agreement with the government on a set of procedures which are similar to almost all the other elections they’ve had for hte last 20 years, and a set of guarantees, which of course, the candidate Falcon won’t recognize the election if they don’t follow them. So you have a real contested election, but the U.S. government has decided they don’t want that, and the hard-right opposition is in line with them, and so they’re all pretending there’s no election at all, because they’re committed to a strategy of violence, of regime change.

GREG WILPERT: OK. We’ll certainly continue to follow this, especially the U.S. role in Latin America. I was speaking to Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Thanks again, Mark, for joining us today.

MARK WEISBROT: Thank you, Gregory.

GREG WILPERT: And thank you for joining the Real News Network.

Brazilian Presidential Candidate Lula on Facing Jail as He Runs for President Again

Source:   truth-out.org / Democracy Now!
March 19 2018

by Amy GoodmanDemocracy Now! | Video Interview

We continue our conversation with former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the highly popular former union leader who is running for president in this year’s election even as he is facing a possible prison term on what many believe to be trumped-up corruption charges tied to the sprawling probe known as “Operation Car Wash.” Lula was convicted of accepting a beachside apartment from an engineering firm vying for contracts at the state oil company Petrobras. But many of Lula’s supporters say the conviction was politically motivated. President Lula responds to the charges against him. “We’re awaiting for the accusers to show at least some piece of evidence that indicates that I committed any crime,” he notes.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, as we continue our exclusive, a conversation with Brazil’s former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as Lula. The highly popular former union leader is running for president in this year’s election but is facing a possible prison term on what many believe to be trumped-up corruption charges tied to a sprawling probe known as “Operation Car Wash.” Lula was convicted of accepting a beachside apartment from an engineering firm vying for contracts at the state oil company Petrobras, but many of Lula’s supporters say the conviction was politically motivated.

The Intercept recently reported, quote, “The indictment against Lula is rife with problems. The apartment’s title was never transferred to Lula or his associates; he and his wife never used the property; the prosecution could not identify an explicit quid pro quo or benefit related to Petrobras; no official or internal documentation linking Lula to the apartment was produced; and the case rests almost entirely on the testimony of the executive who hoped to gain sentencing leniency for his cooperation,” unquote.

During the interview on Friday, President Lula responded to the charges and conviction against him.

 

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] I was not accused of corruption. I was accused because of a lie in a police investigation, a lie in an indictment by the Office of the Attorney General, and in the judgment of Judge Moro, because there is only one evidence, of my innocence, in this entire trial, which my defense counsel explained in a magisterial manner. We are awaiting the accusers, for the accusers to show at least some piece of evidence that indicates that I committed any crime during the period that I was in the presidency.

Now, what is behind that is the attempt to criminalize my political party. What is behind that is the interest in a part of the political elite in Brazil, together with a part of the press, reinforced by the role of the judiciary, in preventing Lula from becoming a candidate in the 2018 elections. And I continue challenging the federal police, the Office of the Attorney General. I continue challenging Judge Moro and the appellate court to show the world and to show Brazil a single piece of evidence of a crime committed by me. The behavior of the judiciary in this instance is a political form of behavior.

AMY GOODMAN: Mr. President, last year, the ousted President Dilma Rousseff said, “The first chapter of the coup was my impeachment. But there’s a second chapter, and that is stopping President Lula from becoming a candidate for next year’s elections.” Do you see it the same way, that this is the final chapter of the coup, if your conviction is upheld, that you will be prevented from running in the October elections?

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] Amy, the Workers’ Party, in 12 years in the government, at the helm of the government in Brazil, was able to do many things that had never been done at any time in the 20th century. In this country, in 12 years, we brought 40 million people into the middle class. We drew 36 million people out of poverty. While Europe was shedding 62 million jobs as of the 2000 date, we created 20 million jobs in the formal sector in this country. For 12 years, all Brazilian workers were able to overcome inflation. It was the time of the greatest economic growth in the history of Brazil. It was the most distribution of income in the history of Brazil. To give you an idea, in 12 years, 70 million people began to use the banking system who had never walked into a bank.

And when they got rid of Dilma, they did want Lula to come back, because they know that the relationship between the Brazilian people and President Lula was the strongest relationship that the people of Brazil had ever had with a president in the entire history of the country. And even more important, they know I am absolutely certain that the best way to ensure economic recovery in Brazil is to lift up the working people of this country. They know that I know how to do that. Now that the poor people had jobs, had a salary, were studying, were eating better, were living — had better housing, when that happens, the economy grows again, and we can become the most optimistic country in the world and the happiest people in the world. And, Amy, that is why I want to be candidate for the presidency of Brazil, to show that a mechanic who doesn’t have a university degree knows better how to take care of the Brazilian people than the Brazilian elite, who never looked after the welfare of the Brazilian people.

AMY GOODMAN: President Lula, why did you decide to run for president again?

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] The truth is, I have still not decided, Amy. The ones who are deciding are the Brazilian people. Look, all of the public opinion polls in Brazil, month after month — and there are several of them — in all of them, I’m in first place. And so, I’m beginning to be the candidate who has the lowest negatives and the possibility of becoming a candidate and winning on the first round, and this is making my adversaries very uncomfortable. And I am sure, Amy, that at the Supreme Court I will be acquitted and that I will be candidate, and Brazil could once again be a protagonist in international policy, the economy could grow again, create jobs and improve the quality of life of the people. This is something I know how to do very well.

AMY GOODMAN: If the case does not go well for you in the Supreme Court, would you consider stepping aside?

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] First of all, Amy, I’m very optimistic, very optimistic. Now, if that were to happen and I was not able — were not able to be a candidate, if my name is not on the ballot, I think that the party would call a convention and discuss what to do. I am going to require that and call for justice to be done in the country.

Now, if my innocence is proven, then Judge Moro should be removed from his position, because you can’t have a judge who is lying in the judgment and pronouncing as guilty someone who he knows is innocent. He knows that it’s not my apartment. He knows that I didn’t buy it. He knows that I didn’t pay anything. He knows that I never went there. He knows that I don’t have money from Petrobras. The thing is that because he subordinated himself to the media, I said, in the first hearing with him, “You are not in a position to acquit me, because the lies have gone too far.” And the disgrace is that the one who does the first lie continues lying and lying and lying to justify the first lie. And I am going to prove that he has been lying.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, you raise two issues, President Lula: the media as prosecutor and the judge as prosecutor. Can you talk about both? Start with the media.

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] Well, Amy, it’s important that you come to Brazil to see what’s happening with the Brazilian press. I was president for eight years. Dilma was president for four years. And for 12 years, all the press did was to try to destroy my image and her image and the image of my party. I have more negative subject matter about me in the leading television news program of Brazil than all of the presidents in the whole history of Brazil. In other words, it’s a daily attempt to massacre me, to tell untruths about Lula, about Lula’s family. And the only weapon that I have is to confront them. And they’re irritated, because after they massacred me for four years, any opinion poll by any polling institute showed that Lula was going win the elections in Brazil.

Now, second, the Office of the Attorney General and the Car Wash scandal. I respect very much the institution. I was a member of the constitutional assembly, and I helped to strengthen the role of the Office of the Attorney General. But it created a task force, organized by a prosecutor, who went to television to show a PowerPoint, and said that the PT, the Workers’ Party, was established to be a criminal organization, that the fact that Lula was the most important person in the PT meant that he was the head of a criminal organization.

And on concluding the indictment, he simply said the following: “I don’t have evidence. I don’t have evidence. I have conviction.” I don’t want to be judged by the conviction of the prosecutor. He can keep his convictions to himself. I want whoever is prosecuting me to come forward in the proceeding and to tell the people of Brazil what crime I committed. The only thing, Amy, that I really want now is for the merits of my trial to be judged. I want him to discuss it. I want him to read the prosecutorial brief and the defense brief, and then make a decision. What I really want at this time is that justice be done in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: The candidate polling second in Brazil’s elections is a far-right-wing congressman and former soldier named Jair Bolsonaro. He’s been called the “Brazilian Trump.” Can you talk about who he is, what he represents, and if you understand there’s any communication between him and the US government right now?

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] I cannot. I cannot level accusations against an adversary. The only thing that I would like is to have the right to run in the elections here in Brazil, to win the elections and to recover the right of the Brazilian people to live well. I cannot pass judgment on the president of the United States, just as I cannot pass judgment on the president of Uruguay, and much less can I pass judgment on my adversaries.

AMY GOODMAN: But if you can explain what he represents, how you differ from him?

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] He is a member of the federal Congress. He was an Army captain in the Brazilian Army. The information that we have is that he was expelled from the Brazilian army. And his behavior is far-right-wing, fascist. He is very much prejudiced against women, against blacks, against indigenous persons, against human rights. He believes that everything can be resolved with violence. So, I don’t think he has a future in Brazilian politics. He has the right to run. He speaks. He projects a certain image to please a part of the society that is of the extreme right. But I don’t believe that the Brazilian people have an interest in electing someone with his sort of behavior to serve as president of the republic.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think he was happy with Marielle’s death?

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] I think so, because he’s preaching violence every day. He preaches violence. He believes that those who defend human rights are doing a disservice to democracy. He thinks that those who defend women’s rights are doing a disservice to democracy, likewise those who defend the rights of the black community. He is against everything that is discussed when one is talking about human rights.

AMY GOODMAN: We continue with Brazilian presidential candidate, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in 30 seconds.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

AMY GOODMAN

Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on more than 1,100 public television and radio stations worldwide. Time Magazine named Democracy Now! its “Pick of the Podcasts,” along with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

RELATED STORIE

The End of Electoral Contests in Latin America?

Source:  La Santa Mambisa

March 12 2018

by Alfredo Serrano Mancilla

(Translated by Keith Ellis)

the end of electoral politics.jpeg The contest in Latin America is no longer primarily electoral. The conservative rollback has other mechanisms that are not necessarily the ballot box. The chosen route is almost always something else.  Each case is different: it all depends on the country in question.  They use one tool or another depending on the scenario and on what tools are available.

Each context determines the method of intervention chosen to block or eliminate the progressive forces.  If they still have control of the Judicial Power, that path is used to proceed against them.  If what they enjoy is Legislative Power, a parliamentary coup is what is resorted to.  And always, wherever it may be, Economic Power and the Power of the Media act in unison.  The first will use all its weapons to disrupt whatever economic and social equilibrium has been achieved; and the second will undermine the image with falsehoods or fake news that end up being part of the destructive common sense.  And from this list of powers the Power of the “International Community” is never missing, for it is always ready to apply all the possible forms of pressure to delegitimize progressive options, whenever they can, or legitimize undemocratic options that are suitable for their interests.

  • In Brazil, the stupid judicial excuse they are putting forward shows that they are clearly not going to allow Lula to take part in the elections. Before that, they had already removed Dilma from the presidency, by means of a parliamentary coup using the ridiculous pretext of “fiscal manipulation.”  Judicial and Legislative Powers, together with Economic and Media Powers, and with the power of international complicity, are all combined for a “win” without them having to go through polls.  Temer governs as a democrat despite not having to present himself as a presidential candidate.
  • Ecuador, a different scenario and different methods. Correa’s successor was used to prevent his party, the “Revolution of the Citizenry,” from continuing in power.  Thanks to a pact between the current president Lenin and the old democratic party, there was an agreement made, without consulting the Constitutional Court, that had the sole objective of preventing Correa from participating in a new presidential contest. Thus, a new model: the rollback from within.  The opposition took part in the elections and lost.  But that was no obstacle to its winning the political battle, thanks to the resentment—of Lenin and of a certain part of his party—against Correa.  The banking sector and all the media joined the new rollback consensus with the intention of ending the progressive cycle embodied in the figure of Correa.
  • In Argentina, there was quite a notable communicational and economic onslaught, but the electoral route was sufficient to put an end to the Kirchner period. The opposition had an advantage: Scioli, her successor, not Cristina, was the candidate.  The opposition just barely won.  And then quickly brought on judicial arrests, open trials, biased press coverage.  It is still too early to know how the presidential dispute will turn out in 2019.  But if it is necessary to prevent Cristina, or any other potentially winning candidate, from contesting the election, let no one doubt that the attempt will be made to do it in a judicial or parliamentary way.
  • In Venezuela everything is being amplified.  The latest development has been the most evident: the opposition has definitely decided not to participate in the elections.  It has thus demonstrated that it has no interest in the electoral route for achieving political power.  In fact, in this country, in 2002, an orthodox coup d’état was attempteda running unconventional coup has been tried, along with a sustained high-intensity economic war (via prices and shortages); there has been violence in the street causing many deaths; social uprising has been tried in order to overthrow the president; there have been US decrees, threats and a blockade; the whole gang has been deployed (OAS, European Parliament, Lima Group, Mercosur, Country Risk, International Banking). And now, finally, they have the idea of not participating in elections.  Strange democrats these, who do not believe in democratic rules when they anticipate losing.  The interesting thing about this case is that in Venezuela, the current government is fully aware that the field of dispute is as much in the electoral as in other areas.  And this allows Maduro to be a “survivor” in this new phase.
  • In Bolivia,something similar happened.  The recall referendum was obstructed by a reality show that hurt the popularity of Evo.  The heavy artillery will come ahead of the presidential election in 2019.  However, the president has understood for some time, since the attempts at democratic interruption at the stage of the Constituent Assembly, that this dispute is multifaceted. It does not mean that it will be easy, and everything is possible from now on.  But so far, Evo aims to be the other “survivor” to this rollback onslaught.  He has overcome the last great obstacle: finding the legal mechanism that would allow him to stand for re-election.  He was aware that, because of it, he would be criticized, but he preferred this to putting in jeopardy the continuity of the project.  It was a wise decision to continue moving forward with the approval of the Bolivian people.

We are definitely facing another historical phase of the 21st century in this “Contested Latin America”. The electoral aspect counts, but it is not the only path chosen in order to end the progressive cycle.  Some have always known it, and others have learned it by having suffered it in their own experience. The field of political dispute is more and more complex: votes are necessary, but so are economic, media, legislative, judicial and international power. And military power, although it seems a matter of the past, we should never ignore it, because it is always more present than we imagine.

Chávez lives on in the unity of revolutionaries

Source:  Granma
March 12 2018

Fidel, Raúl, Chávez and Maduro: Four giants of our time. Photo: Anabel Díaz

Five years after his passing, neither the figure or legacy of Hugo Chávez have been forgotten, because the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, together with other liberators who have passed through these lands, will be there right beside progressive forces in his country and Our America as they continue their struggles.

From his native Venezuela to Cuba, which welcomed him as a son, various tributes were held to recall not the death, but the life of this tireless revolutionary.

In the Cuban capital, Chávez was honored in a ceremony at the University of Havana’s Aula Magna, which saw the participation of Dr. Eusebio Leal, Havana City Historian; Venezuelan Ambassador to Cuba Alí Rodríguez Araque; members of the diplomatic corps and various friends of the Bolivarian Revolution.

There, Leal, one of the first Cubans to meet Comandante Chávez, recalled the conversation he had with the Venezuelan leader during their last encounter, during which Chávez stated: “I want to live, for my homeland and for Cuba.”

Nor could the historian forget to mention the strong ties between two great men that fought for Cuba and Latin American and Caribbean integration, recalling the great friendship that existed between these “two forces of nature” – Chávez and Fidel Castro.

Such was the strength of the bond between Chávez and Cuba, that Fidel described the former President of Venezuela as the island’s greatest friend, the Cuba intellectual recalled, who went on to note that despite having other friends and acquaintances, some self-interested, Cuba never had as good and selfless a friend as Chávez.

Just like every March 5, the people of Venezuela gathered at the Cuartel de la Montaña to pay tribute to Chávez.Photo: AVN

A man who stood in solidarity with the people of Latin America, we are indebted to Chávez, and it is our moral duty not to betray him, stated Leal.

The Havana City Historian, citing José Martí, stressed that “Death is not real when one’s life work is fulfilled,” and explained, in a touching speech, that we must remember the victorious Chávez; the Chávez that in the midst of a torrential downpour, and in ill health, was able to give everything and draw strength from his own weakness.

Meanwhile, the people of Venezuela awoke early this Monday, to commemorate five years since the passing of Comandante Hugo Chávez, and just like every March 5, they gathered at the Cuartel de la Montaña to pay tribute to the man, father, friend and Bolivarian leader.

Also present there just before the beginning of the 15th ALBA-TCP Summit, was another key figure of Latin American and Caribbean integration and dear friend of Chávez, Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Regarding his comrade in the struggle, the indigenous leader had nothing but words of praise: “We will never again see these qualities anywhere in the world.”

And there, just as happens every day at the Cuartel de la Montaña, also known as Cuartel 4F – in reference to the civil-military rebellion led by Chávez on February 4, 1992 – a canon salute was held at 4:25 p.m., marking the time the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution died.

Heads of State attending the 15th Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-People’s Trade Agreement at Miraflores Palace, as well as people from across the world, also paid tribute to Chávez this March 5.

In Nicaragua, thousands of citizens including members of government and Sandinista youth, gathered in the center of Managua, where a rose was laid in remembrance of a great friend of the country and of President Daniel Ortega.

Meanwhile, a photographic exhibition was inaugurated at the Venezuelan Embassy in Beijing, featuring images of the Cuartel de la Montaña, where the remains of the Bolivarian Comandante rest.

Social media also offered a platform to remember and honor Chávez, with users sending heartfelt messages under the hashtag #A5AñosDeTuSiembraComandante throughout the day.

The legacy of Hugo Chavez

Reblogged from La Santa Mambisa

chavez' legacy

by Atilio Borón

Today, March 5, five years have passed since the physical disappearance of Hugo Chávez Frías and it is fair and necessary to provide a brief reflection on the legacy left by his presence in Venezuela and in Latin America and the Caribbean.

As before, in 1959, Fidel with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, Chávez’s irruption into the politics of his country quickly became internationalized and reached a continental projection. It would not be an exaggeration to say that in a forty-year period (remember that the Bolivarian assumed the presidency of his country in 1999) the contemporary history of Our America experienced those two political earthquakes that irreversibly modified the political and social landscape of the region.

Fighting for the Second and Definitive Independence

Chávez picked up the flags that had been raised by Fidel and with his martial exhortation to fight for the Second and Definitive Independence of our peoples, he enclaved them in the fertile terrain of the Bolivarian tradition.  With Chávez, that which portrayed Neruda’s verse when the Liberator said “I wake up every hundred years when the town wakes up” became a reality. And with the rebellion of 4F Chávez ended the lethargy of the people, a rebellion that, “for now”, had been defeated. But Chávez knew that this people was already getting ready to fight the great battles that had been summoned by Bolívar, re-incarnated in the bodies and souls of millions of Venezuelans and Venezuelans who took to the streets to install Chávez in the Miraflores Palace.

A revolution in consciences

The five years that have elapsed since its sowing provide enough perspective to evaluate the scope of its leafy and multifaceted legacy. The economic and social advances experienced by the Venezuelan people, today attacked with fierce savagery by the American debauchery and the infamy of their local lieutenants, are important but they are not essential. In our opinion, the fundamental, the essential thing is that Chávez produced a revolution in consciences, forever changed the heads of our peoples, and this is a more significant and lasting achievement than any economic benefit. Thanks to Chávez,

In his native country and in all of Latin America and the Caribbean, the idea became evident that the advances achieved in the last twenty years are irreversible and that any pretension to return to the past will face enormous popular resistances. The immense popularity of Chávez throughout the region reveals the depth of these changes experienced in the popular imagination.

Some say, with obvious malice, that the “progressive cycle” has come to an end. But the ventriloquists of imperialism in vain try to hide that the heroic resistance of Venezuelans to the brutal aggressions and attacks launched by Washington reveals, on the contrary, that despite the enormous difficulties and privations of all kinds to which the Chavist people are subjected, they will not tolerate a return to the past, to that “moribund constitution” that Chávez replaced with an exemplary piece of law. And that town resists, and it does so with such force that the opposition that asked for elections to end the government of Nicolás Maduro now does not want to compete because he knows that it will be devastated by a Chavista tsunami. His choice now is clearly extra institutional or, more clearly, insurrectional.

The people are resisting

The people are resisting in Venezuela, the Honduran people fought with incredible heroism, before the electoral farce mounted by “the embassy” in Tegucigalpa. Three months have passed since the proclamation of the triumph of Juan O. Hernández and the people remain in the streets protesting that obscene electoral robbery. As did the Mexicans before, for months, because of the robbery perpetrated against Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the 2012 elections. People who support the progressive and left candidates in Mexico (again with López Obrador) and in Colombia (Gustavo Petro); have displayed, as was shown in Chile with their abstention, their rejection of the electoral fraud mounted in the presidential elections.

The people are resisting also in Brazil, where Michel Temer, is the most unpopular president in recent history (with a level of approval of 3%, while his negative image is around 75%) and fight for honest elections with Lula as a candidate . And in Peru, where the government of Pedro P. Kuczinski was burdened by the evidence of the Odebrecht case and is shaken by the growing wave of discontent that runs through the country. The people in Argentina are resisting with determination and courage , placing on the defensive the government of Mauricio Macri and throwing thick shadows of doubt about the possible continuity of the government of Cambiemos after the elections of 2019.

No “end of cycle”

Here is the extraordinary legacy of Chávez: he changed the conscience of the people, triumphed in the “battle of ideas” claimed by Fidel and as a result of which in Latin America and the Caribbean the right can no longer win elections, with the lonely -and surely temporary – exception of Argentina. In other countries the empire must resort to the “soft coup” as in Honduras, Paraguay, Brazil; or to the most blatant fraud, as in Honduras and Mexico; or unloading its immense media power to frighten and confuse the population, as in Bolivia, or to mediate the corruption of the government of Mauricio Macri in Argentina; or appealing to the old Colombian record of assassinating the candidates of the opposition forces, just two days ago they tried to do it with Gustavo Petro, which leads the intention to vote in the suffering and endearing Colombia. And where there are still no leftist or progressive forces that are constituted as true alternatives, in the case of Chile, the popular response is the withdrawal and repudiation of that conservative and neocolonial political leadership. Conclusion: no “end of cycle”. The struggle continues while the right tries unsuccessfully to stabilize its restoration project, which until now is just that, a project.