Morales Slams Supporters of Venezuela’s Opposition Plebiscite

Source:  TeleSur
July 15 2017

Evo Morales 22.jpg

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales | Photo: Reuters

The Venezuelan Foreign Minister has thanked Bolivia for the support expressed by “the great leader of South American peoples.”

A “coup attitiude” against a democratically elected government

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales says those who want to give legitimacy to Sunday’s unconstitutional plebiscite called by the Venezuelan opposition have a “coup attitiude”.

Morales made the comment on Twitter, adding that Venezuela’s government has been democratically elected and attempts to label it a dictatorship are cynical.

The opposition has been trying to gather more support for its non-binding vote on the administration of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.

CNE regards the plebiscite as illegitimate

Several former regional leaders have arrived in Caracas ahead of Sunday’s unrecognized ballot.

The ex-Presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia and Costa Rica have been invited by the opposition-led National Assembly.

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council, CNE, regards the plebiscite as illegitimate.

It’s overseeing a dry run, also on Sunday, ahead of the election for the National Constituent Assembly.

OAS interfering in Venezuela’sdomestic affairs

Earlier in the week, Morales reiterated his criticism of the Organization of the American States and its Secretary General Luis Almagro for interfering in Venezuela’s domestic affairs.

The Bolivian President said Almagro’s decision to back the plebiscite shows that individual nations’ human rights records are judged differently depending in their governments.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada responded on Twitter to say that his government was grateful for the support expressed by “the great leader of South American peoples.”

Moncada added, “Bolivia’s courage and solidarity will always remain in the memory of the Venezuelan people.”

Nicaragua Demands OAS Head Step Down over Abuse of Post

Source:  TeleSUR
June 15 2016

nicaragua demands oas head steps down.jpg

Denis Moncada Colindres (R), Nicaraguan representative to the OAS, called for the OAS secretary-general, Luis Almagro to step down. | Photo: OAS / Reuters

The representative from Nicaragua said Luis Almagro’s behavior was “illegal, disrespectful and arrogant” and made him unfit for office.

The recent actions by the secretary-general of the Organization of American States took center stage Wednesday when the representative from Nicaragua requested Luis Almagro step down for his repeated interference in the domestic affairs of Venezuela.

RELATED: Amid Criticism of Its Head, OAS Meets on Sustainability and Indigenous Rights

“This repeated behavior of the secretary-general of the OAS disqualifies him to continue in his role and Nicaragua expects, in order to wash the stains and shame of the Organization of American States, that the Secretary-General Mr. Almagro put forward his irrevocable resignation to this plenary meeting today in the Dominican Republic,” said Denis Moncada Colindres, the Nicaraguan ambassador to the OAS.

Illegal, disrespectful and arrogant

Moncada said Almagro’s behavior was “illegal, disrespectful and arrogant” and made him unfit to hold the diplomatic position.

The Nicaraguan representative added that his country believed Almagro was “abusing his post” by acting in an interventionist manner, which risked negatively affecting the stability of the Venezuelan government.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said her country had made a formal petition to the OAS to “evaluate” Almagro’s behavior. This request will be considered by the permanent council of the regional body.

Rodriguez emphasized that Almagro had overstepped the bounds of his role, that the secretary-general plays an administrative role at the service of member-states and not a protagonist role as Almagro has done.

RELATED: Ecuador Pushes to ‘De-Politicize’ OAS Human Rights Body

Almagro’s has attempt to suspend Venezuela from the organization

Almagro has received harsh rebukes from various Latin American and Caribbean governments for recent actions and statements including an undiplomatic letter addressed to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Almagro has attempted to invoke the so-called “Democratic Charter” to suspend Venezuela from the organization, but member states instead voted unanimously to back mediated talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition members.

“We leave very happy, we have defended the sovereignty and independence of our country,” said Rodriguez.

Almagro isolated

The 46th General Assembly of the OAS has served to isolate Almagro at the regional body, even from the United States and U.S-friendly governments in Latin America.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. opposed the application of the Democratic Charter against Venezuela and instead said he would send a high-level delegation to Venezuela to smooth relations.

Last month, Ecuador said it too was considering asking for Almagro to step down over his undiplomatic behavior. Almagro, however, largely brushed off the criticism.

Evo Morales Says the OAS Is Biased Against Latin America’s Left

Source:  TeleSUR
August 30 2016

evo morales says the oas is biased.png

OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro (L) and Bolivian President Evo Morales | Photo: Reuters

The president of Bolivia suggested that the Washington-based OAS is pursuing a right-wing agenda in the Americas.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said Tuesday that the secretary-general of the Organization of American States, OAS, is biased and doesn’t defend leftist governments in the region that are under attack.

RELATED: Nicaragua Demands OAS Head Step Down over Abuse of Post

Morales said OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro supports only right-wing governments while attacking left-of-center leaders like Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Last week, Morales criticized Almagro for releasing a letter of support addressed to a head of the Venezuelan opposition, Leopoldo Lopez, a promoter of a recall referendum against Maduro. Lopez led violent protests in 2014 in Venezuela, known as guarimbas, that left 43 people dead and over 800 wounded.

“Where is Almagro? When there’s a conspiracy against leftist democratic governments we don’t see Almagro, he only appears to defend the right-wing.”

Maduro has repeatedly denounced foreign interference in Venezuela that, according to him, is orchestrated by the United States government, the secretary-general of the OAS and the opposition in Venezuela’s National Assembly, among others.

RELATED: OAS Meets amid Strong Criticism from Latin America’s Left

“Brother Almagro, don’t be a spokesman for the North American empire. To ask for international intervention is a colonial and undemocratic attitude,” Morales said on Aug. 23.

Almagro took an unprecedented step on May 31 by trying to use the Democratic Charter against the government of Venezuela in response to the economic and political crisis in the country. He has also moved to suspend the country from the international organization.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez alleged Almagro used his privileged position in the organization to promote a “coup” in Venezuela.

Morales also said Tuesday he would recall Bolivia’s ambassador to Brazil if suspended president Dilma Rousseff is impeached by the Senate to protest what he portrayed as an attack on democracy.

The US Spent $33 Million on Haiti’s Scrapped Elections — Here is Where it Went

Source:   Cuba – Network in Defense of Humanity,  Center for Economic and Policy Research
July 2 2016

clinton y martelly.jpegHaiti’s electoral council announced yesterday that new first-round presidential elections would be held in October after a commission found widespread fraud and irregularities in the previous vote. The prospect of the new vote — to be held alongside dozens of parliamentary seats still up for grabs, has raised questions about how it could be funded. The previous elections — determined to be too marred by fraud and violence to count — cost upward of $100 million, with the bulk of the funding coming from international donors.

But now, donors are balking. Last week the State Department’s Haiti Special Coordinator Ken Merten said that if elections are redone “from scratch” then it would put U.S. assistance in jeopardy. It “could also call into question whether the U.S. will be able to continue to support financially Haiti’s electoral process,” Merten added. In a separate interview, Merten explained:

We still do not know what position we will adopt regarding our financial support. U.S. taxpayers have already spent more than $33 million and that is a lot. We can ask ourselves what was done with the money or what guarantees there are that the same thing will not happen again.

So, what was done with the money? Could the same thing happen again?

Many millions of that money never went to electoral authorities, but rather to U.S. programs in support of elections

To begin with, that figure seems to include money allocated in 2012 – years before the electoral process began. Local and legislative elections, which former president Michel Martelly was constitutionally required to organize, failed to happen. A significant share of this early funding likely went to staffing and overhead costs as international organizations or grantees kept their Haiti programs running, despite the absence of elections. It’s also worth pointing out that many millions of that money never went to electoral authorities, but rather to U.S. programs in support of elections.

USAID  grant

In April 2013, USAID awarded a grant to the DC-based Consortium for Elections and Political Processes. In total, $7.23 million went to the consortium before the electoral process even began. An additional $4.95 million was awarded in July 2015, a month before legislative elections. The consortium consists of two DC-based organizations, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). In a January report to Congress, the State Department explained further what some this money went towards:

  1. “the creation and implementation of twenty-six Electoral Information Centers (EICs) … to provide information to the general public on the electoral process”
  2. “training more than 100 journalists in several departments on topics such as the international standards for elections …”
  3. “Funding through INL supported election security.”
  4. “USAID also supported the creation of a new domestic election observation platform that helped build greater transparency into the electoral process by establishing a grassroots coalition of reputable and well-trained domestic observers …”

Questionable returns

Some funding also went to increasing women’s participation in the electoral process. But it’s questionable what the return on that $12.18 million really was. Not a single woman was elected to parliament — though it now appears as though at least one was elected, only to have her seat stolen through the bribing of an electoral judge. In terms of providing information to the public about the elections, participation in both the legislative and presidential elections was only about a fifth of the population.

$1 million to the OAS

The money spent on local observers may have been more successful, but not for U.S. interests. The local observer group, the Citizen Observatory for the Institutionalization of Democracy, led by Rosny Desroches, agreed with other local observation missions that a verification commission (opposed by the U.S.) was needed to restore confidence in the elections. The U.S. spent millions training local observers, only to later ignore their analysis. Instead, the U.S. has consistently pointed to the observation work of international organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the EU. The U.S. also provided $1 million to the OAS for their observation work.

4 out of every 10 dollars went to overhead, staff in Washington DC or to the expatriate country director who made more than a quarter of a million dollars

Perhaps it’s not a surprise the funding didn’t have the intended effect. A 2012 evaluation of NDI conducted by Norway’s foreign development agency found that about “4 out of every 10 dollars” went to overhead, staff in Washington DC or to the expatriate country director who made more than a quarter of a million dollars.

The U.S. contributed $9.7 million to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) “basket fund” for elections. The UNDP controlled the pooled donor funds and also funds contributed by the Haitian government (more than any other individual donor). Funds were used to print ballots, train workers, and for other logistical operations. However, it’s important to note that $3 million of these funds were distributed in 2012 and 2014, well before any election would take place.

$7.57 million went to the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

An additional $7.57 million went to the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for logistical operations for the elections, mainly distributing and picking up ballots before and after the election. After the August legislative elections were plagued by violent groups that shut down voting, UNOPS shifted strategy for the October election. In certain “hot spots,” ballots would not follow the normal procedures for transportation to the tabulation center, instead, UNOPS would bypass the chain, picking up electoral information at 67 voting centers and bringing the materials straight to Port-au-Prince. According to diplomatic sources, UNOPS threatened to pull out entirely if additional funds for this measure were not given. The U.S. awarded $1.8 million to UNOPS on September 29, 2015.

An additional $1.77 million was given to UNOPS in December, but the second-round presidential election never took place. Though it was clear to many that the elections would not be held given widespread condemnation by local observers and civil society groups, the U.S. and others in the international community insisted the second round go ahead. With protests increasing, they moved forward and distributed electoral materials for an election that was never going to happen. This strengthened Martelly’s bargaining power over the opposition, but meant millions of dollars were spent for no reason.

Funding to UNOPS, UNDP, OAS, IFES and NDI totaled $30.45 million

In total, funding to UNOPS, UNDP, OAS, IFES and NDI totaled $30.45 million. This is the vast majority of the $33 million the U.S. says it contributed to the electoral process. Additional funds were also awarded through the State Department for election-related security.

So yes, the U.S. spent over $30 million on Haiti’s elections, but not all of that went directly to the elections or was even spent wisely in supporting them. It’s clear it would take far less for the U.S. to support a Haitian-led electoral process next October. And perhaps the best reason for the U.S. to continue to fund the election, if Haiti requests such support, is that it was the U.S. and other actors in the international community that pushed ahead and put millions of dollars into a fatally flawed electoral process that Haitians have now determined was irreparably marred by fraud. The problem is not that Haitian’s wasted U.S. taxpayer dollars by scrapping the election results; it’s that the U.S. was throwing good money after bad. That’s something that can be fixed.

Ecuador’s Rafael Correa: CELAC Should Replace OAS

Source: TeleSUR
January 20 2016

rafael correa in Macas.pngEcuadorean President Rafael Correa greets citizens in Macas, Ecuador, during a visit on Jan. 19, 2016. | Photo: Presidency of Ecuador

The Ecuadorean president argued that forcing Latin American countries to travel to Washington to settle disputes is an outdated model for the region.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said Wednesday that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, known as CELAC, should replace the Organization of American States as the regional integration mechanism for Latin America.

“Our perspective is that we hope that CELAC replace the OAS very soon,” said Correa during a press conference in the Presidential Palace in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito.

Correa reiterated his opinion that it is not appropriate that Latin American and Caribbean states have to travel to the OAS headquarters in Washington, instead of being able to settle disputes on their own turf.

IN DEPTH: CELAC: Building Regional Unity

The resurgence of right-wing politics

Correa also warned that the resurgence of right-wing politics in the region threatens to undermine the integration progress made in recent years.

“Experience has shown that beyond the ideological orientation of the government, integration is a common denominator,” said Correa, adding that the regional fight against poverty must continue to be a CELAC priority despite ideological differences between its members.

The president’s comments come ahead of the annual CELAC Summit, to be hosted in Ecuador next week at the UNASUR headquarters north of Quito.

Correa also announced plans to urge CELAC to support a U.N. initiative aimed at holding transnational corporations accountable for human rights abuses.

The proposed mechanism would be similar to the Hague International Court of Justice and act as a counterweight to the World Back investor-state arbitration that allows corporations to sue countries over policies that infringe on their future profits.

CELAC was founded in 2010 and is made up of 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Unlike the OAS, which was founded in 1948, CELAC does not include the U.S. and Canada.

Haitians Protest Arrival of ‘Interfering’ OAS

Source:  TeleSUR
January 31 2016

haiti protest.jpg

Protesters march during a demonstration against the electoral process in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. | Photo: Reuters

Protesters argue that the interference of the OAS not only helps the president in his plans but they blame the organization for fomenting instability in Haiti.  Opposition presidential candidates say the visit will deepen the crisis instead of resolving it.

Thousands of protesters filled the streets of Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince once again Sunday against the arrival of the Organization of American States (OAS), which demonstrators say should not interfere with the country’s already contentious elections.

The term of President Michel Martelly ends Feb. 7, but after canceling elections last Sunday the Washington-based OAS have been called in to supervise the resolution of the political crisis.

The delegates are expected to discuss how to conduct the next round of elections which have been indefinitely postponed.

But opposition presidential candidates say the visit will deepen the crisis instead of resolving it.

According to the eight opposition presidential hopefuls, the OAS seek dialogue with those the organization considers to be the “principal social and political representatives” and not with the people in general, who demand electoral justice and a peaceful transition.

“Down with the OAS”

Furthermore, protesters argue that the interference of the OAS not only helps the president in his plans but they blame the organization for fomenting instability in Haiti.

A protester carrying a banner reading “Down with the OAS” told teleSUR. “Martelly had four years to do the elections, but he didn’t do them. He’s got the support of the international community, and he still didn’t do it. Now he has to call the OAS to bring a solution to the crisis. Us Haitians, we are going to find the solution.”

On Wednesday, OAS approved a resolution on sending a special mission to Haiti in order to moderate the ongoing conflict between the opposition and the government, one week before the president is due to leave office.

As the elections last Sunday were canceled at the last minute, current President Michel Martelly asked the Washington-based organization to send a mission in order to avoid a power vacuum and to “preserve democratic rule.”

RELATED: Haiti: 2 State Officials Leave Electoral Council Amid Protests

Martelly supported his request with the Inter American Democratic Charter, as article 17 states that when the “government of a member state considers that its democratic political institutional process or its legitimate exercise of power is at risk, it may request assistance from the Secretary General or the Permanent Council for the strengthening and preservation of its democratic system.”

Although the resolution was officially approved “by consensus” without a vote, during the four-hour debate Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Brazil and Honduras opposed the idea that the OAS made a decision that day, as most Latin American leaders were attending the CELAC Summit in Quito, Ecuador.

WATCH: Haitians Demand President’s Resignation as Elections Postponed Again

Why Does Latin America Reject US Belligerence toward Venezuela?

Source:  TeleSUR
February 20 2015

by: Joe Emersberger

Even the OAS, until quite recently a reliable U.S. lap dog, rejected Washington’s sanctions against Venezuela. 

celac heads in costa ricaLatin American governments have been very united in rejecting the USA’s efforts to have the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela overthrown – and they’ve also rejected the U.S. government’s take on the human rights situation there. When a verifiable diplomatic record opposes U.S. policy, the corporate media (following the lead of US officials) will sometimes quote anonymous foreign “diplomats” who allegedly support the USA. But the more common tactic is to ignore the diplomatic record entirely. It’s a good way to avoid an awkward question. Why is the region so united against the USA?

The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) rejected the U.S. sanctions on Venezuela. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) also rejected them.

unasur y celac 1Even the OAS, until quite recently a reliable U.S. lapdog, passed a resolution of “solidarity” with Venezuela during last year’s violent anti-government protests.

There are three interrelated reasons for Latin America’s unity against the U.S. campaign to oust Venezuela’s government.

1) U.S. government claims about the human rights situation in Venezuela are false.

Venezuela has a much higher tolerance for protest and the expression of dissent than the USA.

Code Pink activists were recently ejected from a congressional hearing for staging a symbolic “arrest” of Henry Kissinger whom they called a war criminal. Kissinger (who really should have been imprisoned for mass murder decades ago) simply chuckled, but John McCain erupted at the spectacle: “Get out of here, you low-life scum” he barked. During the 2008 presidential debates, Obama and McCain each said they had Kissinger on their side and bickered over who could really claim him as an ally.

kissinger war criminal It was a sickening illustration of how remarkably constrained public debate is the USA, and explains why Code Pink feels justified in using mildly disruptive but completely non-violent tactics.

What if …

But imagine if Code Pink leaders wrote op-eds every few weeks for leading U.S. newspapers, made regular appearances on its largest TV networks where they spoke at length and were treated respectfully, and had leaders who were governors, legislators, and mayors. Under those hypothetical conditions, anger at them for interrupting hearings (though not as much anger as McCain’s) would be understandable.

Now imagine if Code Pink’s tactics also included major vandalism, killing police officers and setting death traps for motorists. One can only wince contemplating the extreme violence the USA’s political class would endorse against what it would unanimously call “low-life scum”, especially if black men were involved. The hypothetical I’ve outlined still leaves one thing out that applies to the leaders of last year’s violent protests in Venezuela. Imagine if Code Pink leaders had participated in the violent overthrow of the U.S. government.

The international press tries its best to depict the Venezuelan opposition, including its most violent elements, as if it were Venezuela’s equivalent to Code Pink. That follows the lead of the U.S. government where the only debate is over how much support to give the “inspiring” protesters. Propaganda is a powerful thing, but the truth does matter.

2) The US government has lost economic (and with it political) clout in the region.

From 1980-2001 the IMF was the key enforcer of economic policies known as neoliberalism, or sometimes the “Washington consensus”. The IMF was a source of loans but, more importantly, a gatekeeper to other sources. Real per capita GDP in Latin America and the Caribbean grew by a pitiful 7% in that period compared to over 80% in the preceding twenty years.

hugo chavez y cristina fernandezArgentina’s debt default of December 2001 was a major turning point. Assisted with loans from Venezuela’s Chavez government, Argentina boldly defied the “Washington Consensus” and quickly recovered. Defiance spread through the region with the election of numerous left of center governments and drastically shrinking IMF influence. The result was vastly improved economic growth in the region. By 2013, real per capita GDP in Latin America and the Caribbean was already about 50% higher than it was in 2001. Twelve years of widespread rebellion against Washington’s economic dogmas produced about seven times more economic growth than did over twenty years of obedience.

3) Most governments understand how easily they could be singled out for a similar U.S.-led vilification campaign based on distortions and lies.

manuel zelayaThe U.S. government backed the 2002 coup in Venezuela and directly perpetrated the 2004 coup in Haiti. The 2009 coup in Honduras ousted another democratically elected president, Manual Zelaya (photo left). Obama initially declared Zelaya’s ouster a “coup” that was “illegal”, but Obama’s government soon made it obvious to the region’s governments that it was glad the coup happened and helped it succeed. The corporate media in Canada and the USA routinely spread the lie that Zelaya had attempted to illegally extend his term in office. Lanny Davis, a paid lobbyist for Honduran businessmen who backed the coup, and a very close associate of the Clintons, played a key role in spreading that lie. Hillary Clinton was Obama’s Secretary of State at the time.

Zelaya’s government was far from radical. The message was sent loud and clear to the region’s governments that if any were overthrown by the far right the USA and Canada would help the people who overthrew them.

It is a great thing that U.S. clout in the region has declined. Nevertheless, the USA remains so much wealthier than Latin America that it would be foolish to dismiss the threat the USA still poses to democracy in the region. That threat would disappear if U.S. and Canadian citizens were much more widely informed about it. As always, spreading awareness is an uphill battle against a corporate media whose function is to impose ignorance.

Source:  Why Does Latin America Reject US Belligerence toward Venezuela?  TeleSUR