Saturday, May 9, 2009

New President, New Mission, Same Sinister Objectives

After a week long tour of Bolivia, investigating and reporting on Washington's "soft war" in the Andean country, Eva Golinger was back in Caracas the other night to unveil the republication of her latest book, La Telaraña Imperial: Enciclopedia de Injerencia y Subversión (The Imperial Web: Encyclopedia of Interference and Subversion). Equally inspiring as her last two books, this co-authored piece of work is an exhaustively researched compilation of who's who in the complex network of global economic and political control. Once again utilizing her expertise in weilding the Freedom of Information Act as a citizens' tool for staying vigilant about the actions and intentions of international actors and private organizations, NGOs and think tanks, Golinger exposes the truth behind this sinister web of global cooperation and their objective of total control over us, the earthly masses, the average man, the average This non-linear read features such monumentaly influencial people as David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, the three founders of the Trilateral Commission and in my mind, three of the most pyschologically diseased sociopaths on the face of the planet. The Trilateral Commission represents itself as an altruistic think-tank determined to confront and solve the latest challenges to the cooperative economic structures between North America, Europe and Japan, but the website does little to mask its ambiguity or blunt the uneasy sense that this group is nothing more than a filthy rich gentleman's club (sorry, "private citizens") who are working very hard to maintain and expand their spheres of control over global economic and political entities. The book spares no seemingly altruistic institute or feathery-titled foundation from the unveiling of their deception, nor any talking head from the revelation of their true substance; the entry for George W. Bush is appropriately three sentences long: "President of the United States of America from 2001 until 2009. Republican from the state of Texas, son of George H.W. Bush and ex-governor of Texas. Responsible for the wars in Iraq and Afganistán." What more could possibly be worth mentioning, the guy was a bumbling moron with the IQ of jello, who was able to capture the minds and hearts of uneducated and dangerously dogmatic religious republicans and implement the strategies of the real power brokers. These same power brokers are also secretely pulling the strings of the Obama Administration. His campaign was a perfect preview of things to come: an empty promise for change, a world of hope and a smile. Obama's hope is dangerous because it has nothing to do with change. Instead, it convinces people who don't know any better to accept a shitty today for the promise of a better tomorrow, because with hope anything can happen. What he forgot to mention is that nothing happening at all is an equally likely scenario. But so is revolution, only it won't happen through hope, it will happen through action, determination and faith in the dynamic spirit and inherent goodness in humankind.

The world wide revolution has already started, only you wouldn't know it from your coffeeshop patio in the North, sipping lattes with the morning paper. The revolution is happening right now across the global South, smoldering in the ashes of villages that stood in the way of the neoliberal machine, boiling in the blood of the dispossessed, people who lost their history and the cultural mirrors that tell them who they are and where they should be going. The revolution in Venezuela, or Bolivarian Socialism, is a complex and contentious social phenomenon that is leading a monumentous push by the new Latin American left to take back what has been stolen from them since Columbus landed in Jamaica all those years ago: resources, sovereignty and dignity. It's easy to criticize Chavez' 21st Century Socialism, accusing it of exacerbating corruption and violence, or challenging the true depth of its commitment and the extent that it is actually redefining the essence of the collective consciousness of the Venezuelan people, or questioning why millions in oil revenue (or the oil itself) is given away to other countries when people inside this one are marred by poverty. But the other side of Venezuela's story, what's going on right now behind the scenes and what's happened in the past to necesitate and explain the events of today, is rarely talked about, little known and never, ever reported on by mainstream media here or abroad.

Interference and subversion. The "soft war" that has been waged against Latin American for decades (alongside periodic small-scale, CIA-sponsored warfare) cannot be excluded from any legitimate enquiry into the objectives and the actions of the Venezuelan government. One of the principle villains in Golinger's research is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a US-based foundation that operates internationally with the ironic objective of strengthening and spreading democratic processes around the world. While claiming to be funded exclusively by private entities, NED receives Congress-approved funding through the Department of State to funnel money to foreign political parties that stand in oppostion to democratically elected socialist/left-wing governments with economic agendas that put the domestic needs of their citizens above the contracts of exploitative multinationals. Among other organizations, the NED has put millions of dollars into the pockets of opposition political parties in Venezuela. In the game of dirty politics, the gift of money doesn't come without a wishlist: take out Hugo Chavez. The short-lived, failed coup attempt in April 2002 was virtually orchestrated by discontent voices in Washington, through the transfer of intelligence and strategy and the money to make it all happen. Watch The Revolution Will Not Be Televised or read Golinger's first book The Chavez Code to understand the full story. The NED, USAID, Sumate, and a host of other groups continue to operate illegally within Venezuela, implementing a strategy of interference and subversion in a "soft war" against the hearts and minds of the people through media control and pyschological operations (PSYOPS) to create internal division among the people and exploit the problems within the Chavez government.

The balance of power has already changed and Latin America is quickly emerging as a global superpower with Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba, among other nations, providing the leadership and the courage to confront their shared northern aggressor with its doctrines of "Manifest Destiny" and "Project for a New American Century", which seeks to reimpose relationships of subjugation across America's "backyard", to borrow the words of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Please, don't believe the lies about Venezuela and Chavez that are fed to you by mainstream media. Search around and find out for yourself. Viva la Revolución!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

International Workers Day

In much of the world, the corporatocracy's global assault on labor, employment and immigration hardly make International Workers Day a time for celebration. Instead, across much of the western world, May 1st is marked by strikes, protests and general discontent at the abysmal failures of neoliberalist policies to live up to their promises. In the US, misguided regional trade policies and persistent belief in the American dream have exacerbated the immigration issue and the country continues to witness a steady influx of illegal aliens. With numbers of 12 million strong, these workers have become an integral part of many economic sectors, especially in the South, with the supply of cheap labor they lend to industries like agriculture. Remove them and the economy would collapse even further than it already has. Yesterday in LA, thousands of supporters took to the streets to press for immigration reform, a burning issue that failed to pass Congress during the Bush era. In the midst of violent clashes between riot police and protesters in Turkey, the call went out in Istanbul for an end to fascism and repression and the need to implement socialist policies. The people of Taipei took to the streets to demand a response to soaring unemployment and falling wages. The new global pandemic is not Swine Flu. It is, and it always has been, capitalism's inability to provide the people of the world with the basic necessities of life, dignified employment and happiness.

It seems that only in the socialist South do workers have reason to celebrate. While in attendance for the May 1st celebrations in Cuba a few years back, where I witnessed what was to be Fidel's final infamous 5 hour speech, the people told me that upwards of one million Cubans descend on Plaza de la Revolution, half the population of Havana. In Venezuela, yesterday's Día de los Trabajadores was celebrated by the token march down Avenida Libertador of red-clad Chavez supporters, praising the achievements of their unique socialist revolution. I did not attend, but undoubtedly and in characteristic fashion, it was loud, passionate, a little bit drunken and with a suspicious, hard to define quality of obligation. Yet on the whole, workers, peasants and pretty much everyone except the upper class have ample reasons to celebrate as they've benefited greatly from the recent social reforms. Part of those reforms is the PDVAL program, a food security initiative whereby the state (through PDVSA, the national oil company) provides staple foods to the public at regulated prices. Although plagued by what I've come to understand as trademark Venezuelan, and not merely PSUV inefficiencies, the PDVALs are extremely popular and citizens line up early to get the best choice of the day's harvests. The most recent addition to the PDVAL family is a temporary location in the Bellas Artes district that speciliazes in dairy products. Along with agriculture, domestic dairy production has suffered enormously since the discovery of oil and the industry is marred with persistent neglect. This becomes most evident when surveying the Mision Mercal food stores and the PDVALs, rows of empty shelves with no milk powder in sight. Even conventional supermarkets, selling milk powder at 3 times the price, experience occasional shortages. These conditions, along with the desire to hamper the state's effort to improve food security, are what prompted the biggest food retailers in the country to hoard foodstocks, leading to a series of warehouse inspections, fines and stricter regulations on the processing and sale of staple foods. As trivial as it might seem, the significance of the powdered milk issue cannot be understated, a fact that Chavez himself has attested to. After the failed 2004 referendum attempt, he stated that the loss can be attributed to the state's inability to fill the shelves of Mercals and PDVALs with powdered milk, and had they succeeded in their epic last ditch effort, the vote would have swung in their favor. A friend of ours, who works for an international food wholesaler partially responsible for stocking the Mercals, tells the story with the same suspense and consequence you'd expect from a Vietnam veteran. Diplomats working and sleeping in a cargo airport in Brazil for 2 months, sending plane after plane full of powdered milk back to Caracas at nearly $200 a kilo in air freight. Apparently PDVSA officials were given the word to devote 2 million dollars to filling those sad, empty shelves and bring milk to the homes of Chavez supporters in time for voting day. Beyond the political motivation of this one incident, the government is truly devoted to making Venezuela food secure, but problems and inefficiencies with roots far deeper and older than Chavez' revolution continue to thwart one iniative after the other.

Yesterday milk products were once again at the forefront of politics, only this time linked to expressions of frustration, hatred and ignorance and not signs of goodwill. In a series of events eerily similar to those of the short-lived coup d'etat in april of 2002, there was a last minute change to the route of the opposition march, which was organized in protest of what they consider to be a dictatorial regime. Apparently spurred on by opposition mayor of Libertador, the largest municipality of Caracas, the protestors broke through a police blockade meant to buffer between pro and anti-government supporters, on their way to the National Assembly building. But fortunately, unlike the coup, the worst results of the violent clashes between demonstrators and police forces were some injuries and the senseless destruction of government property and not the loss of human life. The victim: the new PDVAL at Bellas Artes that provides Caraqueños with subsidized dairy products. In the wake of the opposition march, the temporary structure was badly vandalized, with 75% structural damage reported. The walls were torn off, the outside refrigeration units were smashed up and several people were dousing it in gasoline to burn it to the ground until the janitors from inside were able to chase them off with the help of some sympathetic passersby.

In Caracas, everyone is critical of everyone else and nobody wants to accept any of the blame for the violence, corruption and ignorance that rage out of control, making the city notoriously dangerous, inefficient and virtually ungovernable. At times you feel trapped in a massive lawless valley that's slowly sinking further and further into the mountain. If you're angry about your government, put your energy towards addressing one of the problems that stand in the way of an open and sincere dialogue between all parties in the political spectrum. Without even a semblance of constructive dialogue, criticisms become dangerous, ruthless, absurdly unfounded and start manifesting into physical acts of sabotage and violence. Ignorance and education, the overabundance of and lack of respectively, are two of the greatest obstacles standing in the way of a tolerant and more peaceful Venezuelan society, so I implore you, the Caraqueños, the people with whom I've shared a common home for over 6 months, to look within, analyze the nature of your criticisms, try to see the good in everything and please, just let the people have their damn milk!