Friends of Venezuela denounce the actions of the OAS Secretary General

Press Release
Friends of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

October 13 2017

WE DENOUNCE  LUIS  ALMAGRO’S LATEST  UNLAWFUL  INTERVENTION  IN  THE  AFFAIRS  OF  VENEZUELA

bolivarian republic of venezuela.jpgFriends of Venezuela denounce the actions of the Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro, who, today — the 13th of October 2017 – in Washington DC in the United States of America (USA), purported to swear in the members of a so-called “parallel” Venezuelan Supreme Court, in gross violation of the principles of international law and sovereignty.
Almagro’s actions are nothing less than a gross and offensive attempt to frustrate the Venezuelan people’s peaceful and democratic process !
On the 30th of July 2017 we were all inspired by the Venezuelan people’s courage, when over 8 million people participated in the elections for a National Constituent Assembly, and thereby halted the campaign of orchestrated violence that sectors of the political Opposition forces in Venezuela had inflicted on the nation.
The peace-loving peoples of the world looked on at this spectacle, inspired by the Venezuelan people’s assertion that the only path forward is a democratic and constitutional one.
Today’s unlawful events in Washington, on the other hand, are an ugly and repugnant repudiation of the Venezuelan people’s openly expressed desire for peace and constitutionality, and reflect illicit interference by external forces in the sovereign processes of Venezuela.
While this takes place in Washington D.C., in Venezuela itself, members of the Government, the Opposition and other relevant entities campaign for gubernatorial elections that will take place this Sunday the 15th of October. Furthermore, after many efforts by the Government to establish dialogue, the Venezuelan political opposition has finally agreed to begin talks in a peaceful and lawful manner. In light of this background, one is forced to ask why– at this time of all times– is Almagro carrying out an activity that can only be described as an illegal and destructive intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela?
How can a multilateral organization like the OAS justify swearing in an illegitimate Supreme Court in the territory of a foreign country? This is a travesty beyond all comprehension, and the member states of the OAS would be well advised to take immediate steps to dismiss the organization’s unprincipled and errant Secretary General.
Today’s actions at the OAS disrupt Latin America and the Caribbean’s shared commitment to self-determination and to the sovereign equality of all states, and must be condemned by all right thinking and peace-loving people.
We encourage all Venezuelans to go out and vote in numbers in the gubernatorial elections scheduled for Sunday the 15th of October!
Indeed, we say to the Venezuelan people:- The world celebrates your determination to defend a democratic model that is participatory and protagonist. And we stand with you in safeguarding our region as a Zone for Peace, in keeping with the “Havana Declaration” approved by the Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
Long live the Bolivarian Republic and the Bolivarian Revolution!

Friends of Venezuela

What did Che Guevara Fight For?

Source:  Moorbey’s Blog / The Dawn News

September 26, 2017

Che Guevara’s daughter reminds us of the reasons behind his revolutionary struggle

By: Aleida Guevara March

che 5.jpgPhoto credit: Politico Scope

In order to speak about the Che Guevara we need time and space, but in order to explain his existence in our times we just need to look around us. If we ask what he was fighting for, the immediate answer is: for a better world. But what does this mean? Decent houses for everyone, free and high-quality education in equal conditions, accessible healthcare for all of the population, peace that would enable us to destine the available resources to research how to have better life. But, what do we really have?

Che’s view of youth

To Che Guevara, youth is the clay with which we can model the New Man. But, what are we actually doing to youth? What kind of life are we offering them? What example are we setting for them? Who can inspire them to perfect their conduct? These are many questions and there are practically no answers—at least not the answers that youth need.

He said: “How long will we continue to have this order that is based on an absurd sense of caste—that is a question I can’t answer, but it is time for our rulers to dedicate less time to propagandizing their virtues as a regime and destine more money—much, much more money—to fund works for the benefit of society”.

What do you think about that? We could say the same thing to many rulers who do a bad job at governing many of our peoples, to begin with.

“… but those people who tackle things head on, who lead by example—to follow or to get others to follow you is a difficult task at times, but it is enormously easier than to push other to get them walking…”

Where do we want to go? What do we need? If we don’t fight for what we need, who will do it for us? It is undeniable that we have strength and courage, but we need unity, we need to organize that strength in order to conquer what we need to modify what doesn’t work, at least for the majority of the people.

“… to be quintessentially human, to be so human that we approach the best qualities of humanity, to purify what’s best in mankind through work, study, the exercise of continuous solidarity with the people and with all the peoples in the world…”

“… to develop sensibility to the maximum, to the point that we feel distressed when a man is killed in any corner of the world, and to feel enthusiasm when in any corner of the world a new flag of freedom is risen”.

That’s what we want for our youth, and it is very important to keep it in mind it now that we’re raising our voices to claim for the life of a young man like Santiago Maldonado, who recently disappeared in Argentina for being on the side of the Mapuche people and defending their rights. What message are they trying to send with the forced disapparition of this young man? Fear, that’s what they want us to feel in order to paralyze us, to silence us.

We can and must fight for that better world

I remember the first time I was in Brazil. Imagine this young woman arriving in Sao Paulo and being told to not roll down the window of the car she’s travelling in, who feels fear for her driver whenever the car has to make a stop at a corner, which is when they assault you, who sees the eyes of a child high on drugs asking for something to eat—my reaction was immediate and I repeat what I said back then: it is better to die trying to change that reality than to avoid dying of hunger. But then I remembered that I come from a different culture, a different people, where the life of a human being, and especially of a child, is sacred, it is the most important thing. I thought I was reacting like this because I am Cuban, and I was raised by the socialist Revolution that we have, but I was wrong.

Later on in my journey I met Mrs. Rosa, in Rio Grande do Sul. She’s a member of the Landless People’s Movement of Brazil. This humble peasant not only said what I was thinking, but she died defending a piece of land with which to feed her children. Mrs. Rosa proved to me that we indeed can and must fight for that better world, no matter where we come from, or which culture we carry with us—what matters and what prevails is the need to live.

“Let me tell you, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love. It is impossible to think of a true revolutionary without this virtue” .

A virtue that is indispensable to be able to give our best for a just cause, even risking our lives. I truly believe in this and I have seen it in the dedication of many men and women, luckily, in many parts of the world.

“And we, the exploited of the world, what role do we play? The peoples of three continents are watching and learning their lesson from Vietnam. Because, with the threat of war, imperialists blackmail the entire humanity: not fearing war is the right answer”.

“Under the slogan ‘We Won’t Allow Another Cuba’ there’s a hidden possibility of widespread aggressions, such as the one perpetrated against Dominican Republic or, previously, the Panama massacre, and the clear sign that yankee troops are willing to intervene anywhere in Latin America where the established order is altered and their interests are threatened”.

The OAS and the UN

“This policy has almost absolute impunity: the OAS is a comfortable mask, however discredited; the UN has a degree of incompetence that borders ridicule or tragedy; the armies of every country in Latin America are ready to intervene to crush their peoples. The internationale of crime and betrayal has been formed de facto”.

Luckily for us, it is not like that anymore for all the peoples, but unfortunately in many the army is still a tool to crush the just claims of our people and one wonders where these men come from, who attack their own people. We’ve seen pictures of these uniformed men repressing demonstrations, attacking youth, women and even children without vacillation, and what do the Magna Cartas say about this? Because I know for a fact that many of them state that the army exists to defend the people and what happens in fact is exactly the opposite—so, whose side is violating the law?

When reading Che’s words today, 50 years after his death, many things still resonate with what we see day to day, the relevance of his thoughts is strong and we should turn to him for answers more often.

There’s plenty to do, and the road is long and difficult, but we can and we must change many things to achieve the full dignity that human beings require in order to live. I always remember something that an Argentine mother had written on the tombstone of her daughter when she found her remains: “if I die, don’t cry for me; do what I did and in you I’ll live”. That is exactly what we owe to the men and women who have given their strength to us through their example, and encourage us to take action. Go on comrades, let’s live in such a way that, when our days come to an end, we don’t feel pain for the years that passed in vain, let’s feel the joy of leaving something beautiful for those to come.

Until Victory Always!

aleida guevara 2.jpg

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.