Re-Targeting Cuba: US Renews Effort to Squash Cuba

Source:  Counterpunch
March 20 2019

Re-Targeting Cuba.jpegPhotograph Source Detail of 1591 map of Florida and Cuba
User: SEWilco • Public domain

Embarked upon overthrowing Venezuela’s socialist government, the U.S. government now renews efforts to squash Cuba. The U.S. record of implacable hostility features terror attacks, military invasion, germ warfare, internal subversion, and almost 60 years of U.S. economic blockade. Devoid of natural resources ready for U.S. plunder, Cuba offends by having defended socialism and national independence. Now Title III of the U.S. 1996 Helms Burton Act joins an arsenal of weapons employed in what Cubans regard as genocidal aggression.

Inflicting suffering and destabilization

Helms Burton is complex but centers on tightening the economic blockade; preparing for a transition government; and by means of Title III, inflicting suffering and destabilization.  The latter is taking place now in Venezuela, by other means.

Title III opens the door for the former owners and the heirs of properties nationalized by Cuba’s revolutionary government to bring actions in U.S. courts to gain compensation for what they lost. Persons or companies presently occupying such properties, or profiting from them, and who are located in third countries, would be required by the courts to pay off the aggrieved parties. These live in exile, mainly in the United States. The courts would lack enforcement capabilities.

In 1966, when the law was introduced, the European Union and other critics insisted that the U.S. government delay implementation of Title III. It did so and for the next 23 years, at six month intervals, the United States did announce one six-month delay after another. But a new era dawned on January 16 when the State Department declared that this time suspended implementation would end at 45 days. Something was up.

On March 4 the State Department indicated that in 30 more days Title III would be applied to the foreign and Cuban “traffickers” in nationalized properties. Also Title III would, as of March 19, be extended to 200 Cuban enterprises controlled by Cuban security forces or state agencies, many of them connected with Cuba’s tourist industry. The U.S. government in November, 2017 had already put those facilities off limits to U.S. tourists.

Violation of Cuban sovereignty

As of early April, international investors, aid agencies, and business-persons active or looking to be active in Cuba will be facing vast uncertainties. The former owners of nationalized properties may be suing them in U.S. courts. Concerned about a slippery slope of U.S. disfavor, they may cease involvement with Cuba.  And what with unsettling news, foreign lenders may shy away from possibly risky loans for projects in Cuba.

RelatedCuban Ambassador to Jamaica: The US will keep on failing … civilized and respectful coexistence shall prevail

Title III promises what Cubans call “extraterritorial” effects. It further universalizes application of the U.S. blockade which, potentially involving all countries, violates their sovereignty.

But in a Machiavelliantwist, the State Department will apparently wield the “trafficking” charge selectively. Cuban analyst Reinaldo Taladrid Herrero explains:“The road to Havana passes through Caracas.” Specifically, “They are going to exempt all businesses of countries allied with the United States, above all Canada and the European countries …. Implementation will be centered on adversary countries like Russia, China, and Venezuela.” Others share his views.

Violation of International Law

Title III violates international law, according to Russia; Cuba solidarity groups have protested. A few business-oriented U.S. groups oppose Title III out of concern that future U.S. commercial ventures in Cuba would be vulnerable.

Cuba’s government argues that nationalization was and is legal according to international norms and court decisions in the United States.  Cuba has sought satisfaction from the United States for deaths and destruction due to U.S. assaults. Negotiations taking place briefly during the Obama era looked at balancing Cuba’s claims with U.S demands stemming from nationalization.

Title III means major trouble for Cuba. The government there is presently mounting an effort to bolster the nation’s economy. Foreign investors will asume a major role in the project. They would provide $2.5 billion annually toward building or refurbishing Cuban institutions, companies, and infrastructure. But any good will on their part may well evaporate once threats loom as to court actions in the United States.

Food imports

The availability to the Cuban people of food, health care, schools, building supplies, medicines, and transportation rests on loans and export income from abroad and on income from joint ventures with foreign entities. By 2014 Cuba needed $2.5 billion annually in direct foreign investment. The fact that food imports alone currently require an annual outlay of $2 billion suggests that current requirements are greater.

Title III contains the seeds for havoc in the event that Cuba’s government is no more and the United States takes charge. According to Cuba’s Granma newspaper, Cubans “would be forced to return, reimburse or pay U.S. claimants for the house in which they live, the area on which their communities are built, the arable land where they cultivate produce, the school where their children are educated, the hospital or polyclinic where they receive medical assistance.”

Political terrorism

Cuban Journalist Lázaro Barredo, formerly editor of Granma,summarizes“Helms Burton literally has no precedents in the legal history of the United States. [It] constitutes an attack on sovereignty within the international community [and] represents political terrorism.” Helms Burton would “extend U.S. jurisdiction to other countries in an extraterritorial manner with the perverse intention of frightening, scaring, blackmailing, or dissuading persons interested in investing in Cuba.” We see a decision “to repossess the island, annex it, and move it toward total subordination to the United States.”

This report closes with a condemnation of the generalized cruelty and cynicism that is rooted in the strategic thinking of U.S. power brokers.For example, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, presiding at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on March 7, heard testimony from “Cynthia Arnson of the US-funded Wilson Center.” She “agreed with Rubio that ‘widespread unrest’ is useful, but cautioned that … ‘starving people don’t get out in the streets.’” In other words, a little starving is OK, but not too much.

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More articles by:W. T. WHITNEY

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.

 

The Helms-Burton is not applicable in Cuba

Source: Granma
May 17 2019

by: Yudy Castro Morales | internet@granma.cu

the helms burton is not applicable to cubaPhoto: José Manuel Correa

“The Helms-Burton Act is not applicable in Cuba; in the first place, because it is a law of the United States and therefore its jurisdiction, its range of action, is the United States. No sovereign country that respects itself would allow the extraterritorial application of a U.S. law in its territory. In addition, in our case, Cuba has a law approved in 1996 that declares the Helms-Burton Act null and void.”

Carlos Fernández de Cossío 2.jpgThis is how Carlos Fernández de Cossío, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ general director for the United States, explained the situation, which is worth repeating for those with doubts about this famous law’s lack of validity. This legal creation, meant to strangle the Cuban economy, is well-known precisely because of its extraterritoriality, and its disrespect for international law.

A violation to Cuba’s sovereignty

The Helms-Burton Act is, above all, a violation to Cuba’s sovereignty, which purports to compensate potential claimants of U.S. properties nationalized in Cuba after the triumph of the Revolution. This barely exceeds the category of a pretext, although it is probably the argument that has caused the most turmoil, since it implies potential damage to third parties. This has been enough to intimidate those who can be intimidated and creating uncertainty.The essential nature of the law, as several experts have noted, lies in its colonizing spirit, in its expansionist hunger in the most faithful imperial style.

This “legislative instrument” denies, in terms of sovereignty, everything that Cuba has conquered for its people, enshrined in its Constitution with the majority support of the people.Cuba’s Magna Carta, which we Cubans approved, of our own free will, states in its first article, “Cuba is a socialist state of law and social justice, democratic, independent, and sovereign, organized with all and for the good of all as a unitary and indivisible republic, founded on work, dignity, humanism, and the morality of its citizens for the enjoyment of freedom, equity, equality, solidarity, wellbeing, and individual and collective prosperity.”And the sovereignty which this law is intended to violate “resides intransferably in the people, from whom all state power emanates.” Thus the Helms-Burton has no legitimacy, nor do such international relations, which are to be based, according to the Constitution, “on the exercise of sovereignty and anti-imperialist, internationalist principles, to serve the interests of the people.”

No negotiation under coercion

Article 16 reaffirms that “economic, diplomatic, and political relations with any other state can never be negotiated under aggression, threat, or coercion,” and reiterated is the aspiration for “an honorable, true, and valid peace for all states, based on respect for independence and sovereignty of the peoples and their right to self-determination, expressed in the right to freely chose their political, economic, social, and cultural system, as an essential condition to ensure peaceful coexistence among nations.”

Likewise established is the commitment “to strictly abide by the principles and norms of international law, in particular equality of rights; territorial integrity; the independence of states; no use or threat to use force in international relations; international cooperation for mutual, equitable benefit; the peaceful resolution of conflicts on the basis of equality, respect and other principles proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.”

Cubans are governed by our own laws

The Helms-Burton obviously advocates the contrary, but Cubans are governed by our own laws.

The Constitution also “condemns imperialism, fascism, colonialism, neocolonialism, and other forms of domination, in any of their expressions.” Is not any attempt to implement the Helms-Burton meant to impose subjugation?

Also ruled out are “direct or indirect intervention in the internal or external affairs of any state, and therefore, armed aggression, any form of economic or political coercion, unilateral blockades that violate international law, or any type of interference or threat to the integrity of states.”

We already know, based on our 60 years of experience, that the unilateral blockade is one of the keys to our northern neighbor’s foreign policy. In fact, the Helms-Burton codifies in law this policy and extends its impact internationally.

A mockery of international norms

Cuba’s Constitution insists on maintaining and fostering “friendly relations with countries which, having a different political, social and economic regime, respect our sovereignty, observe the norms of coexistence among states, and adopt a reciprocal attitude with our country, in accordance with the principles of international law. “But what is the Helms-Burton Law if not a mockery of international norms, of every elementary principle of coexistence among nations?The Magna Carta indicates that the Cuban state will, “promote multilateralism and multipolarity in international relations, as alternatives to domination and political, financial, and military hegemony or any other manifestation that threatens the peace, independence or sovereignty of peoples.”In other words: Cuba rejects each and every one of the postulates put forward by the Helms-Burton Act.

The implementation of its Title III

The Helms-Burton purports to establish the blockade as perpetual. The implementation of its Title III, suspended through May 2, reinforces and tightens the blockade. A new measure set up for failure, at a time when Cuba is precisely focused on attracting foreign investment, and diversifying, broadening its markets, not cutting them off.

In fact, the Constitution establishes this with great clarity: “The state promotes and provides guarantees for foreign investment, as an element important to the country’s economic development, on the foundation of protection and rational use of natural and human resources, as well respect for national sovereignty and independence.”

miguel diaz canel 20.jpgThese guarantees, as noted by the President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, on his official Twitter account, are established in Foreign Investment Law 118, and Law 80 on the Reaffirmation of Cuban Dignity and Sovereignty, despite the aggressive escalation and uncertainty that the illegal Helms-Burton Law causes.

And speaking of guarantees, Cuba’s Constitution explicitly reiterates that the socialist property of the entire people includes “lands not owned by individuals or cooperatives, the subsoil, mineral deposits, mines, forests, waters, beaches, means of communication, and both living and non-living resources within the Republic’s exclusive economic zone.”

Also included are “other assets such as infrastructure of general interest, the principal industries, and economic and social installations, as well as others of a strategic importance to the country’s social and economic development.”

“These assets are nontransferable and their ownership can only be altered in exceptional cases, with the approval of the Council of Ministers, provided that they are to be destined for the economic and social development of the country and do not affect the political, economic, and social foundations of the state.”Have you thought about whether your children’s school was one of the properties that someone could claim; or the hospital you go to, the bank, the stadium, the market…?Probably not, because we rarely waste time on such nonsense.The Helms-Burton Act is disconcerting. No doubt. Nonetheless, as emphasized by the Constitutional principles that govern the country’s entire legal system, “Cuba repudiates and considers illegal and null any treaty, concessions or pact agreed upon under conditions of inequality, or that ignore or diminish our sovereignty or territorial integrity.”

Russia Puts Up Strong Support for Venezuela

Source:  Prensa latina

May 6 2019

Lavrov y Arreaza.jpgRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Venezuelan peer Jorge Arreaza,
Russia has made clear it supports the legitimate and constitutional government of President Nicolas Maduro after the failed US-backed coup attempt of April 30.
After meeting on Sunday in Moscow with his Venezuelan peer, Jorge Arreaza, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov underscored Moscow’s support for Maduro administration ‘principled, consistent and firm’.‘We now see an unprecedented campaign, led by the United States, to overthrow the legitimate authorities of Venezuela. We condemn this campaign for violating the principles of international law,’ Lavrov stressed.

Lavrov further said Russia never meddles in the domestic affairs of other states, ‘and we urge all others to act precisely like this’, he added.

Attempts at a forced change of power in Venezuela undermine the crisis settlement process and carry a risk of catastrophe, the Russian minister warned.

Attempts to forcibly change the government in Caracas, of course, have nothing to do with the democratic process, but only hamper the prospects for a political settlement of the crisis, and the continuation of this line is fraught with the most serious consequences’, Lavrov added.

He stressed that Moscow condemns the unprecedented US campaign aimed at overthrowing the legitimate Venezuelan government.

The minister went on to say that Moscow and Caracas are set to strengthen their strategic cooperation.

Venezuela has been trapped in a political crisis since January, when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president, challenging the outcome of the country’s last presidential election.

The move was promptly backed by the United States, which vowed to support Guaido and imposed a row of sanctions against the Latin American country, seizing billions of dollars’ worth of the country’s oil assets, Sputnik News recalled.

Moreover, a number of senior US officials, including President Donald Trump, have repeatedly stated that all options remain on the table with regard to the Venezuelan crisis, including military action.

Maduro: Loyal Military Defeated the Coup Attempt

Dear military comrades of the General Staff, I would like to congratulate you for the courageous loyal and enormously wise attitude with which you have led the resolution and the defeat of the small group that tried to fill with violence in the coup plot and I ask the people of Venezuela to give a round of  applause to the national Bolivarian armed forces, who are loyal, firm, obedient disciplined and who serve the constitution and the commander in chief. [Applause]  (Google translation)

Jimmy Carter Lectures Trump: US Is ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’

Source:  TeleSUR
April 13 2019

jimmy carter 3Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter makes remarks at a luncheon following
a morning symposium for the 25th anniversary of the Camp David Peace
Accords between Israel and Egypt. | Photo: Reuters

 The former president says peaceful China “ahead of us in almost every way.”

The only U.S. president to complete his term without war, military attack or occupation has called the United States “the most warlike nation in the history of the world.”

RELATED:  US Marks Anniversary of Its Defeat at Bay of Pigs by Imposing New Sanctions Against Cuba

During his regular Sunday school lesson at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia, Jimmy Carter revealed that he had recently spoken with President Donald Trump about China. Carter, 94, said Trump was worried about China’s growing economy and expressed concern that “China is getting ahead of us.”

Carter, who normalized diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing in 1979, said he told Trump that much of China’s success was due to its peaceful foreign policy.

“Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody?” Carter asked. “None, and we have stayed at war.” While it is true that China’s last major war — an invasion of Vietnam — occurred in 1979, its People’s Liberation Army pounded border regions of Vietnam with artillery and its navy battled its Vietnamese counterpart in the 1980s. Since then, however, China has been at peace with its neighbors and the world.

Carter then said the U.S. has been at peace for only 16 of its 242 years as a nation. Counting wars, military attacks and military occupations, there have actually only been five years of peace in US history — 1976, the last year of the Gerald Ford administration and 1977-80, the entirety of Carter’s presidency. Carter then referred to the US as “the most warlike nation in the history of the world,” a result, he said, of the US forcing other countries to “adopt our American principles.”

China’s peace dividend has allowed and enhanced its economic growth, Carter said. “How many miles of high-speed railroad do we have in this country?” he asked. China has around 18,000 miles (29,000 km) of high speed rail lines while the US has “wasted, I think, $3 trillion” on military spending. According to a November 2018 study by Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, the US has spent $5.9 trillion waging war in Iraq,

Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nations since 2001.

“It’s more than you can imagine,” Carter said of U.S. war spending. “China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they’re ahead of us. In almost every way.”

“And I think the difference is if you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure you’d probably have $2 trillion leftover,” Carter told his congregation. “We’d have high-speed railroad. We’d have bridges that aren’t collapsing, we’d have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of say South Korea or Hong Kong.”

While there is a prevalent belief in the United States that the country almost always wages war for noble purposes and in defense of freedom, global public opinion and facts paint a very different picture. Most countries surveyed in a 2013 WIN/Gallup poll identified the United States as the greatest threat to world peace, and a 2017 Pew Research poll found that a record number of people in 30 surveyed nations viewed US power and influence as a “major threat.”

The U.S. has also invaded or bombed dozens of countries and supported nearly every single right-wing dictatorship in the world since the end of World War II. It has overthrown or attempted to overthrow dozens of foreign governments since 1949 and has actively sought to crush nearly every single people’s liberation movement over that same period. It has also meddled in scores of elections, in countries that are allies and adversaries alike.

Brett Wilkins is an independent journalist and activist based in San Francisco. His work, which covers issues of war and peace and human rights, is archived atwww.brettwilkins.com. 

Ecuador vs. Assange: One Year Silenced

Source:  Angel Fox’s blog

 

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It seems that in recent days, Ecuador has become more tyrannical towards Assange than Britain is. With the recent terrible visit that Cassandra Fairbanks had and threats from the government to increase their protocol against Assange, it seems the country that once gave him asylum and support has turned on him. In fact, due to the US government coercing Ecuador, Moreno and his colleagues view Assange as an enemy. By gagging Assange for 8 months without visitors, phone or internet, the Ecuadorian government violated international law and literally tortured a man they gave refugee status.

When Julian’s lawyers took his treatment to the International American Court of Human Rights, the United States government threatened to stop funding them. 9 US Senators urged the defunding in December of 2018 but the timing is actually unusual and though it may be coincidental, seems to be fishy. Especially with the court ruling in Ecuador’s favor on his recent treatment.

In fact, a recent threat of arrest by Ecuador has circulated over the INA papers and the alleged offshore corruption. The problem with that is simple. Wikileaks simply retweeted articles that were already available on social media. They did nothing that we as individuals don’t do on a regular basis.

wl replica.png

wl fm threat.png

Regularly, Ecuador shows that it does not value free press or free speech by threatening Assange whenever their own corruption is exposed. Former President Correa of Ecuador has been quoted as calling Assange’s treatment torture on various occasions and has called out on Twitter the various crimes committed by Moreno’s own administration. In fact, recently a report was released that Moreno’s approval rating has plummeted to 17%!

D26fkdGXgAA-gMv.jpg

During Cassandra Fairbank’s horrible visit where she was locked in a room, the evidence of the further persecution of Assange was evident. (Article seen here). One of her first statements appears below:

“The room was inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Julian Assange currently lives under the ostensible protection of political asylum. Yet the WikiLeaks publisher was barred from entering the room, where he was supposed to join me for a pre-approved meeting because he refused to submit to a full-body search and continuous surveillance.”

Assange was quoted as saying,

“I don’t want to do the body scan. It is undignified and not appropriate,” I heard Assange say. “I am just trying to have a private meeting with a journalist.”

Further into the article, she explains how she was locked into the meeting room for over an hour and then taken to the lobby to wait while the current ambassador and Assange met. The overheard argument before staff muffled it with a television and a fan included the following:

“You have been illegally surveilling me,” Assange sternly insists.

“I want you to shut up,” the ambassador says.

“I know you want me to shut up — the Ecuadorian president has already gagged me,” Assange fired back. “I am banned from producing journalism.”

Being a political refugee does not mean you are treated as criminal or prisoner. You have the same rights as anyone else should, yet Ecuador has been torturing Assange psychologically for over a year now. They have put in place protocol which takes away his right to do his job as a journalist. They have removed his right to free speech and are now attempting to punish him for retweets by Wikileaks from other media sources. This is not only cruel and unfair but it is illegal.

Another statement made by Assange during the argument was this:

“You are acting as an agent of the United States government and preventing me from speaking with a US journalist about these violations,” Assange demanded. “What kind of sovereign state allows its ambassadors to be interrogated by another nation? No self respecting state does that!”

“You have been working with the US government against me, it’s disgraceful! You are an agent of the US government, and there will be consequences for your illegal acts,” Assange continues.

Something must be done to free this man!

However, no matter the treatment Assange has not given in. He knows if he does, it will set a precedent for the persecution and prosecution of other journalists now and in the future. He remains strong even when it would be easy to bow. He is a modern day hero and we all must stand up for his rights now or lose our own!

#FreeAssange

Manufacturing A Crisis In Venezuela

Source:  Popular Resistance
By Eva Bartlett, Informationclearinghouse.info

EDUCATE!
massive pro govt rally

 

Above Photo: A massive pro-government rally on March 16, Caracas. ©  Eva Bartlett

US IS MANUFACTURING A CRISIS IN VENEZUELA SO THAT THERE IS CHAOS AND ‘NEEDED’ INTERVENTION

March 30, 2019 “Information Clearing House“ –  Venezuela is America’s current target for mass destabilization in the hope of installing a puppet government.

America has for years been waging an economic war against Venezuela, including debilitating sanctions which have dramatically affected the state’s ability to purchase medicines, and even mundane replacement parts needed in buses, ambulances, etc. Alongside the economic war there has been a steady propaganda war, but in recent months, the propaganda has escalated dramatically, from corporate media to US political figures.

Venezuela is described as “the country pilots are refusing to fly to,” as per a March 18, 2019, AP article on American Airlines cancelling all flights to Venezuela, containing scary phrases like “safety concerns” and “civil unrest.

On March 9, American cancelled my Miami-Caracas flight on the basis that there wasn’t enough electricity to land at Caracas airport. Strangely enough, the Copa flight I took the following day after an overnight in Panama had no problem landing, nor did Copa flights on the day of my own cancelled flight, according to Copa staff.

The cancellation of flights to Venezuela then lends legitimacy to the shrill tweets of Marco Rubio, Mike Pence, John Bolton, and the previously unknown non-president, Juan Guaido.

I’ve been in various areas of Caracas since March 10, and I’ve seen none of this “civil unrest” that corporate media are talking about. I’ve walked around Caracas, usually on my own, and haven’t experienced the worry for my safety corporate media is telling Westerners they should suddenly feel more than normal in Venezuela.

In fact, I see little difference from the Venezuela I knew in 2010 when I spent half a year here, except the hyperinflation is absurdly worse and in my absence I missed the years of extreme right-wing opposition supporters street violence – a benign term for the guarimbas which saw opposition supporters burning people alive, among other violence against people and security.

So it strikes me that the decision of American Airlines to stop flying to Venezuela is not about safety and security issues, but is political, in line with increasingly hollow rhetoric about a humanitarian crisis that does not exist, even according to former UN Special Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas.

I asked Paul Dobson, a journalist who has lived in Venezuela the last 14 years, if anything like this had happened before. Turns out it has, also at a very timely moment.

At the time of the National Constituent Assembly elections, July 30, 2017, the major airlines – including Air France, United, American, pretty much all of the European airlines – suspended their flights one day before the elections, citing “security reasons.” Most of the services were reopened about four days after the elections, some of them two weeks after the elections.

So were there ‘security concerns? I asked Paul.

This was towards the end of street violence (guarimbas) that had been going on for six months in the country. Why didn’t they suspend their activity six months before, two months before? They did it the day before the elections, clearly trying to influence votes and the way that people see their country internationally. There were no extra security concerns that day than any day over the last 6 months. So, there was really no justification for it. And it caused massive problems on the ground, around elections.”

America Manufactures Crises; Venezuelans Respond With Calm

On February 23, a month after a previously largely-unknown, US-backed man named Juan Guaido claimed he was the president of Venezuela, there was a short-lived period of instability at the Venezuelan border with Colombia, when America insisted on forcing aid trucks into Venezuela.

Aid trucks that burned that day were the result of attacks of masked young men on the Colombian side, and not from the Venezuelan military as western corporate media and Marco Rubio would have you believe. Less-known is that the ‘aid trucks’ contained very odd humanitarian aid, including nails and wire.

Were their fake concerns genuine, the US could have done what Cuba, China, and Russia, among others, have done and send the aid through appropriate channels, like the UN and the Red Cross. America’s attempt to ram trucks through Venezuela’s border has been revealed as the cheap propaganda stunt that it was.

A couple of weeks later, suddenly there was a very timely country-wide power outage for six days, affecting most things in Venezuelan infrastructure and life, a reality that Palestinians in Gaza have been living since at least 2006 when Israel bombed their sole power plant, never since allowing them to import the parts needed to adequately repair it.

When I lived in Gaza, I grew accustomed to outages of 16-22 hours a day, for months on end. Near-daily sustained 18 plus hour power outages continue in Gaza, but that’s not something the regime-change squad were or are outraged about.

Western media coverage of the blackout was tabloidesque, claiming without any proof whatsoever that 300 people had died due to the outage,portraying Venezuelans collecting water from a spring at the Guaire river in Caracas as collecting dirty sewage water, looting (which actually occurred in the Western border city of Maracaibo and not in Caracas, unless there were localized and unreported incidents), and in general blaming the Maduro government for everything under the moon.

Talking with journalists of Mision Verdad, an independent Venezuelan investigative news site, I learned that one of the targets of looting was a mall in Maracaibo, where electronics were the items of choice, not food. Another incident reportedly involved looting beer and soft drinks. Odd behaviour for a starving people in a humanitarian crisis.

When I arrived three days into the outage, aside from darkened buildings, empty streets, and in following days long lines at water dispensaries and ATMs, I saw no instability. Instead, I saw and learned of Venezuelans working together to get through the drastic effects of the power outage.

I learned at the Ministry of Urban Agriculture of how they took vegetables and crops to hospitals and schools during the electricity outage, but also of how urban agriculture has become an act of resistance in a climate of war and fake news. At a circular plot next to a social housing block I saw young men and women working the land, bursts of lettuces, herbs, beetroots, spinach, and peppers, as well as plots still being planted.

At the Fabricio Ojeda commune, in Catia—a western Caracas barrio of over 1 million people—residents spoke of the 17 tons of produce they generated a few years ago, then sold in the community at prices 30-50% lower than the average market price.

One of the commune leaders spoke of raising rabbits as an affordable, and easy to maintain, source of protein.

We’re trying to achieve self sustainability of this produce, for the community. This is what we’re doing against the economic war,” he said.

Two days ago, visiting the Caracas barrios of Las Brisas, I asked Jaskeherry, head of a colectivo (organized group of people) how the community had managed during the power outage.

We had a contingency plan with all the colectivos in the area to organize ourselves to help the people. My fridge is connected to a power bank. The community brought their meat here and I stored it. We brought a cistern here. Around 300 families were benefiting from this. Each community has their own colectivo that does things like this to help out.”

I’ve heard from several different people here that one reason for the lack of chaos is that Venezuelans have already dealt with US-instigated crises, and have learned to remain calm at such times, surely to the dismay of US pot-stirrers who hoped for scenes of chaos, the pretext to US intervention.

Manufactured Poverty; Support From & For Government

I’ve gone into a number of smaller and large supermarkets in the lower middle-class areas of Caracas, and in it’s upper middle-class regions of Chacao and Altimira. There is food, including luxury items, which Venezuela’s poor can’t afford.

And in some stores there are said to be empty shelves, although I haven’t yet seen this.The policies of private companies —including the largest, Polar, whose CEO opposition supporters wanted him to run against Maduro in the last elections – to hoard goods and create false shortages is well known. That said, this theme that there is no food is one continually pumped by Western corporate media, along with the “humanitarian crisis” claim.

To help the poorest, the government initiated a food box delivery program known by its acronym, CLAP, wherein organized communities distribute government subsidized food to 6 million of Venezuela’s poorest families.

The system is not perfect, and I’ve heard complaints of boxes being late in reaching some communities. However, I’ve been told—including by a woman I interviewed yesterday who herself works in CLAP distribution—that problems lie in corruption on a local level, individuals in communities not distributing fairly or evenly.

Hotheads like Marco Rubio, and script reading corporate media, try to maintain that President Maduro has little support. But massive rallies of support, and a notable absence of opposition rallies of recent, counter that propaganda.

On March 16, for two hours I walked with Venezuelans at their anti-Imperialist, pro-government march, filming them, speaking with them, hearing person after person insist on their support for their elected president, Maduro.

Many or most of those marching were from Caracas’ poorest communities, the darker skinned, Afro-descendant Venezuelans that are scarcely given a voice by corporate media, almost certainly because they are ardent supporters of the government and Bolivarian revolution.

When I asked about their feelings of corporate media coverage of Venezuela, people told me it wasn’t depicting the reality, “they make it up, it’s all lies, all lies. The only president we recognize is Nicolas Maduro. And we want this man, Juan Guaido, to be arrested immediately”.

A young tax lawyer told me:

We’re here to support our (Bolivarian) project. We don’t want any war. We want medicine for our people—we don’t want sanctions from any government that prevent us from purchasing medicine. It’s very difficult for us to bring what’s needed for our people.”

Leaving the still crowded demonstration, I went towards Caracas’ eastern districts, hoping to attend one of the three or four opposition actions that a local journalist told me they had been tweeting about. None panned out.

A few days later, I went to Bellas Artes metro, the same scenario transpired, I couldn’t find the opposition protest that I’d heard was planned. Eventually, in front of the National Assembly, I did film between 15-20 well-dressed men and women not doing much other than standing around. Eventually, most passed by security and onto the premises. I didn’t hear them issue, or attempt to issue, any opposition statement, nor was there any violence from or against them.

A mass of government supporters arrived on motorbikes. A nearby man told me that these women and men on bikes had come to preserve the peace. He said that opposition had said they would stage a provocation (his words match what the local journalist told me, based on tweets to that effect from opposition/supporters), and that the pro-government bikers were not going to allow that to happen.

On Avila, the mountain overlooking Caracas, I saw long line of tankers being filled by mountain spring water to be distributed around the city and outside, with a long list of hospitals to be supplied. pic.twitter.com/uwr6QZtS2F

— Eva Bartlett (@EvaKBartlett) March 27, 2019

Height Of Hypocrisy And Irony; US To Ensure ‘Foreign Influences Are Not Controlling Venezuela’

The US has been forcibly exerting its foreign influence over Venezuela for years, to the detriment of the Venezuelan people it crocodile-tear purports to care about. Most Western corporate media do not mention the manifold adverse effects of the immoral sanctions imposed on Venezuela.

At the end of January, UN human rights expert Idriss Jazairy denounced the sanctions, clearly noting they are, “aimed at changing the government of Venezuela,” and that, “Coercion, whether military or economic, must never be used to seek a change in government in a sovereign state.”

On top of this, America recently withheld US$5 billion intended for the purchase of medicines and raw materials used in medical production, Venezuelanalysis reported, after already freezing numerous Venezuelan assets, apparently holding them for their groomed puppet would-be president, Juan Guaido.

Unsurprisingly, John Bolton recently again menaced Venezuela, reiterating Trump’s, “all options are on the table,” military intervention threat and as though hallucinating blathered on about foreign influence and Venezuela and keeping the Imperialist Monroe Doctrine alive.

In a meeting with the US Peace Council delegation in mid-March, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, spoke of the openly-hostile US leadership.

When you have such an administration saying almost every single day, ‘all the options are on the table.’ And they say the military option is not discarded, then we have to be prepared for all of the options.

We told Mr.Elliott Abrams, ‘the coup has failed, so now what are you going to do?’ He kind of nodded and said, ‘Well, this is going to be a long term action, then, and we are looking forward to the collapse of your economy.’”

President Maduro, in a meeting with the delegation, told us:

We do not want foreign military intervention. Venezuelan people are very proud of the national independence. These people surrounding president Trump—John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Marco Rubio, Elliott Abrams —every single day on Twitter, these guys are tweeting about Venezuela. Not about the US, the American people…they have an obsession with Venezuela, like a fatal obsession with Venezuela. This is extremely dangerous, and we need to denounce it and make it stop.

Having written extensively about the war propaganda and Imperialist rhetoric around Syria over the past eight years, this obsession is very familiar. As Alfred de Zayas, said in a recent interview:

If you call Maduro corrupt, people will gradually believe, he must be somewhat corrupt. But nobody reminds you that corruption in Venezuela in the 1980s and 90s – before Chavez, before Maduro – was rampant. The press is focusing only on Maduro, because the name of the game is to topple him.”

We’re seeing Syria (and Libya, Iraq…) all over again. The demonization of the leadership of a country America wants to dominate. The absurd rhetoric steaming daily from corporate owned media, pretty much in chorus. The troll army ready to attack with an energetic vitriol on social media anyone who dares to present a non-Imperialist perspective. And most worrisome, the acts of terrorism intended to hurt the people and incriminate the government.

Sadly, it seems the United States is ready to stoop to the same dirty tactics it and allies used against Syria over the past eight years: backing and collaborating with terrorists to attack the state. Indeed, last night while trying to finish this article, the power cut and remains off in many areas of the country.

Earlier this week, Information and Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez tweeted that the cause of this recent outage was an attack at the Guri Hydro complex, Venezuela’s central hydroelectric power plant and transmission area.

By today, electricity has partially been restored to Caracas.

I spent much of this afternoon riding on the back of a motorbike around Petare. The district is known as the largest “slum” in Latin America, an extended series of barrios, and is one of Caracas’ poorest and most dangerous areas. Wherever we rode, I looked for the humanitarian crisis corporate media insists exists. Instead, I found vegetables, fruit, chicken and food basics sold wherever I went, from the main square to hillside barrio of 5 of July (5 Julio).

On the hillside of Avila, the mountain overlooking Caracas, I saw at intervals while riding lines of people collecting spring water in jugs since the power outage has affected water distribution. I also saw lines of tankers, being organized by the municipality and with the military, to distribute water around the city and country. A chart listed over twenty hospitals designated to receive water.

The Venezuelan government has accused America of being behind both the March 7 outage and this week’s, stating the former was a combination of cyber, electromagnetic and physical attacks on the power grids (like the alleged secret US plan to do the same to Iran’s grid), and the latter a direct physical attack on the Guri complex, causing a fire at three transformers.

Clearly, the goal of such attacks is to create so much suffering and frustration among the public that there is chaos, and a “needed” US intervention.

The chaos has not happened, the people have refused it.