[Reader-list] Washington Post?!

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Mon Jul 30 20:03:19 IST 2012


Freedom Is Slavery, Popular Support Is Authoritarianism

By Lizzie Phelan

26 July, 2012
Lizzie Phelan Blog

The Washington Post’s double-speak

A recent article by The Washington Post’s Juan Forero entitled Latin
America’s new authoritarians is just the latest example of how the
imperialist’s media machine is relentlessly engaged in media warfare
against sovereign nations in the South, in order to fertilise the
ground for new or increased economic and military aggression against
them. Such psy-op campaigns also seek to influence events on the
ground in target nations, in this case in Venezuela ahead of the
October elections where all signs point to another resounding victory
for current President Hugo Chávez Frías.

The article is part of the psychological wing of what Nicaraguan based
website tortilla con sal terms the West’s “War on Humanity” in order
to convince the world of the moral superiority of the minority (the
Western elite/imperialists) over the majority so as to minimise the
threat of a mass organised effort to challenge that minority’s
increasingly doomed attempts to achieve total global hegemony.

Their morals, the minority argues through its vast propaganda network
which bombard the majority, are superior because they are universal
and therefore must be defended and achieved regardless of the cost,
including that of the destruction of entire nations, let alone
millions upon millions of lives, whose governments stand in the way,
Libya being the most recent example.

Inconvenient facts like the unrivalled criminal record of the NATO
powers/imperialists who claim moral superiority, must relentlessly be
legitimised, through the imperialist’s media (including The Washington
Post) and entertainment industry portrayal of NATO crimes as acts of
freedom, while acts of resistance and self-defence by their
adversaries which undermine that claim to moral superiority and the
total hegemony agenda, are presented as crimes against mankind.

And so looking through Forero’s lens, the sovereign nations of Latin
America, that are consolidating their freedom from western domination
through the continent's growing unification, are the emerging bogey
man that the US government should do something about.

His hook is Human Rights Watch's recent onslaught against Venezuela in
their report entitled Tightening the Grip which as the name screams
out is a document arguing that Chavez has become more authoritarian
then ever.

And in one fell swoop Forero takes all of the popularly elected
leaders of sovereign, progressive nations on the continent down with
the report on Chavez, with focus on those with the greatest support:
Ecuador’s Rafael Correa and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega.

Forero/HRW and the evil Venezuelan judiciary straw-man

In Venezuela the crux of the article’s venom, in line with the HRW
report, is aimed at the country’s judicial system. Neither the article
nor the report make mention of the Venezuelan government’s recently
published plan for the next six years which has a section entirely
devoted to the judicial system which outlines the government’s
intention to tackle that system’s “racist and classist character…and
impunity”. In the west such admissions only come after lengthy, meek
and costly public inquiries. Those governments would never dream of
acknowledging the racism, classicism and rife impunity so blatant in
their own systems without, for example, scores of embarrassing racist
murders, and sustained public pressure by victims’ families as
happened when a public inquiry “found” that the British police were
institutionally racist in the wake of the scandalous trial of Stephen
Lawrence’s murderers.

To make his case Forero cites the cases of two former judges who have
accused the Venezuelan government of rigging the judicial system. Top
government officials, he says would call ex-magistrate, Eladio Aponte
who has since sought exile in the US, and ask him for “favours”.
Forero conveniently fails to inform the reader that Aponte was
dismissed from his post because he faces charges of accepting money
from drugs traffickers and providing now jailed infamous drugs barron
Walid Makled with an identity card. During Makled’s trial he alleged
that he paid approximately $70,000 to Aponte. Nor does the article
mention that Aponte first fled to Costa Rica to evade trial, from
where he travelled to the US in a US Drug Enforcement Administration
plane, no less. Aponte has denied the allegations but provided no
evidence to support his denial. The Venezuelan authorities have said
they will present the evidence of their charges against Aponte.

Forero devotes just one sentence to mentioning that former judge Maria
Lourdes Afiuni, is facing trial after having “infuriated Chavez with
one of her rulings”. If more than 23 words had been devoted to the
case of Afiuni than perhaps some facts would have got in the way of a
good story, as the old adage goes. Because Afiuni, after making a
ruling where no prosecutors were present (contrary to the law) that
Eligio Cedeño, a financier who was charged with embezzling millions of
dollars and playing a role in other huge cases of corruption, be set
free immediately actually escorted him out of the courtroom and saw
him off onto a motorcycle where he began his escape ending up finally
in Miami. Regardless of the legality of Afiuni’s ruling, she
unilaterally violated the normal procedure of sending the defendant to
the court’s detention facility while the administrative procedures
regarding his release were completed. It is that scandal of such grave
proportions that infuriated the Venezuelan public and government, and
it is for that that Afiuni is facing trial.

The Washington Post includes a disclaimer paragraph, conceding that
“pro-American” leaders, like in Colombia have “weakened democratic
governance”. So Colombia is a weak democracy but Venezuela, Nicaragua
and Ecuador are authoritarian regimes? This is another total inverse
of the reality. Colombia, the continent’s (and one of the world’s) top
recipients of US military aid, boasting seven US military bases,
currently detains approximately 5,700 political prisoners and has an
eye-watering 3.6 million internal refugees. Such a bleak situation is
totally incomparable with the reality in non-US client states like
those The Washington Post and HRW have focused their ire on.

And indeed the most abysmal picture globally in terms of domestic
abuse of the judicial system is at the hands of the US regime.

Unlike in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador, in the US you can be
detained indefinitely without charge. One in every 48 men of working
age are behind bars and that figure excludes tens of thousands of
immigrants facing deportation and people awaiting sentencing. The US
imprisons five times more people than Venezuela, six times more than
Nicaragua and eight times more than Ecuador. While, the US tops the
list of global prison population rates, the other three are far behind
at number 98, 122 and 160 respectively.

Conditions inside US prisons are unrivalled, especially given that
some 2.3 million people squander in them. Sexual abuse rates are
staggering and corporations use inmates as cheap – to - free sources
of labour. This is 21st century systematic slavery in the “developed”
world and such a dangerous phenomenon means that there is actually a
huge monetary incentive for the corporate elite which pull the strings
of the US political system, to incarcerate more and more.

While Venezuela has pledged to tackle the racist character of its
judicial system, and has supported the creation of an array of groups
of African descent which will act as pressure groups to ensure that
the struggle against racism progresses, the US has historically
cracked down on African-American organizations that genuinely strive
for such progress. There is nowhere on this planet where the treatment
of Black people is worse than at the hands of the US regime, as
exemplified by the fact that of the US’ 2.3 million inmates, 46 per
cent are Black, despite that Black people make up just 13 per cent of
the US population.

But neither The Washington Post or HRW dedicate a report to
scrutinising the status of human rights in the US as they do with
their sexy “Tightening the Grip” headline for Venezuela and mention of
the US’ domestic abuses are buried in their annual world reports. That
is left every year for the Chinese to do.

While HRW has been busying itself propagandising for the fall of the
Syrian government on the back of a bunch of shaky youtube videos
purporting to show Syrian security forces using weapons against
peaceful protesters, regarding which head of the UN Human Rights
Commission investigating Syria, Paulo Pinheiro said: “YouTube isn't a
reliable means of investigation... There is manipulation of the
media”, there is no way it would mount a campaign for US regime change
on the back of this very real video, which only adds to the reams
before it, of US police opening fire on unarmed protesters in
California’s city of Anaheim.

Popular leader or repressive authoritarian?

Continuing with this drive to divert attention from who the greatest
enemies of humanity are, the undertone of Forero’s article is that the
Venezuelan masses who back Chavez are somehow not in full control of
their mental capacities, and this therefore is another sign of how the
power hungry Venezuelan government are hoodwinking its people.

And so he quotes one Venezuelan judge who talks about his loyalty to
Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution and Chavez, as an example of how
supporters of Chavez are everywhere, including in the country’s most
important institutions. The ridiculous logic seems to be that
popularity is dangerous because with people everywhere who support the
government, there will be less people to stand in the way of its
agenda, regardless of whether that agenda is to improve the lot of all
Venezuelans as it has proven hitherto to have done.

Forero patronisingly portrays the masses of poor Venezuelans like
sheep under the spell of a “captivating, messianic leader,” as though
they support Chavez for no other reason then being brainwashed by his
charisma. Even more abhorrent, is the use of academic Javier Corrales,
who authored a book about Chavez with the overtly racist title Dragon
in the Tropics, as a source to add to the shrill of voices claiming
that Chavez is abusing his popularity.

Never mind then that that popularity is a direct result of the facts
that since Chavez won his first election in 1999, that country which
had one of the world’s widest gaps between rich and poor has seen
poverty reduce by more than 50 per cent, illiteracy eradicated, tens
of millions now able to access free health care, millions more
participating in higher education for free, the creation of tens of
thousands of communal councils that give the population the
opportunity to participate in the political system, the emergence of
200,000 cooperatives, the emergence of an array of women’s, indigenous
and as mentioned African descendant organisations and much more. These
are the reasons why, like Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, when
Chavez speaks in open squares, something which the imperialists could
never dare to dream of, millions flock to hear him speak. This is why
they came again in their millions to defend him from the failed US
backed coup in 2002 and this is why they repeatedly vote for him in
their millions.

Far from consolidating power in few hands, both Nicaragua and
Venezuela are steadily moving to strengthen and expand the organs of
direct democracy. Venezuela’s communal council’s were cited above,
while in Nicaragua the Citizen’s Power model continues to improve the
ways in which local communities can make decisions about how
government money is spent in their municipalities. The connection
between that model and the recent statistics which showed the FSLN had
managed to halve extreme poverty in the second poorest country in the
Americas after Haiti, is clear. It is local people who know best the
needs of their community and as such it is them who decide where
government investment should be prioritised for huge infrastructure
development, i.e. road, house, roof and electricity development, and
social initiatives which have been targeted particularly at enabling
Nicaragua’s poorest women to become self-sufficient. The ruling FSLN
party has also expanded the number of local government
representatives, while not increasing the budget for their salaries.
This is a move which ensures more balanced representation and will cut
the salary of civil servants, to improve the monetary/social service
incentive of such a position in favour of the latter.

Addressing the material and spiritual needs of the poor and
marginalised majority as the nations attacked by Forero have done and
are doing, is key to ensuring that they enjoy the conditions that
enable them to participate in democracy building. Meanwhile, in the US
and England, for example, the idea that citizens should be able to
have more say over policies that affect their local communities over
and above choosing from two or three parties that all represent the
same corporate interests every three or four years, which is really no
say at all, is unheard of.

In Libya, the wests preferred style of “democracy” has arrived on the
back of white phosphorous and Tomahawk cruise missiles, at the expense
of the system of direct democracy that was being built there, not to
mention tens of thousands of lives, millions of livelihoods, stability
and a level of development that brought the Libyan people the highest
standard of living in Africa.

Unmasking the missionary

But HRW has a track record of preferring to propagandise in favour of
destroying such progress in countries where the balance of power is
not in the favour of the NATO powers.

Since its founding in 1978 as Helsinki Watch by the Ford Foundation,
HRW has consistently promoted humanitarian intervention in countries
viewed as adversaries by the west. Most recently in Libya, HRW was a
signatory to the document that lead to Libya’s suspension from the UN
Human Rights Council, in violation of the UN’s own procedures, and the
subsequent Security Council Resolutions that led to nine months of
airstrikes supported by approximately 40 NATO countries.

Amidst its long and dirty history, HRW in 2010 announced that they
would be accepting $100 million from George Soros who is the honey-pot
behind some of the US’ most powerful think-tanks, lobby groups and
NGOs and therefore enjoys considerable clout in influencing the US’
imperialist foreign policy.

Others amongst HRW’s long list of malignant backers include the
Sandler Foundation which has given approximately $30 million to the
group. The foundation is the child of Marion and Herb Sandler who
themselves have been key donors of Democrats and helped found a number
of think-tanks and lobby groups including the Center for American
Progress, also funded by Soros and headed by John Podesta, White House
chief of staff under President Clinton. It is therefore unsurprising
that the foundation has consistently promoted US meddling in the South
including supporting the KONY2012 saga that called for military
intervention in Uganda on an entirely bogus pretext.

In short, if you follow the money of the NATO countries vast network
of think-tanks, lobbyists, NGOs, newspapers, news websites, news
channels, music and film industry, that of The Washington Post and HRW
included, it can almost always be traced back to a corporate or
“philanthropic” elite that have a vested interested in promoting NATO
countries global hegemony agenda.

I have noticed some surprise from people who discover the role of
organisations like HRW and Amnesty International. The
humanitarian-intervention discourse however is perhaps one of the
oldest tricks in western empire’s book, but it has only evolved its
disguise. This Global Research article was right to call western NGOs
modern “Missionaries of Empire” or as Black Agenda Report labelled
HRW, “Human Rights Warriors for Empire”. Accounts of the first English
presence in Africa, like those given in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall
Apart, show the insidious way in which missionaries following the
first carve up of Africa at the Berlin Conference would embed
themselves in African communities and prey on some points of tension
as an opportunity to promote the idea to minority sections of those
communities that their grievances with their community were examples
of suffering of the gravest degree, the cause of which was the moral
backwardness of their society and could be solved if they embraced the
only correct moral path, the English church. This splitting of the
community meant that by the time the disastrous consequences became
clear to all, and true suffering of the gravest degree felt, it was
too late.

NGOs operate in much the same way today, facilitating imperial designs
which only bring war, instability and misery first to the majority
people’s of the South behind the mask of those people’s “human
rights”. It is a mask however that is being ripped off, first with the
call by ALBA for member countries to expel US AID and its
representatives, and then this week with Russian President Vladimir
Putin signing a bill that will make all NGO’s that receive external
funding register as foreign agents, and most recently with Chavez
pulling Venezuela out of the OAS’ Inter-American Human Rights Court.
The OAS is of course another tool of western domination of the region,
a body that is supposed to promote democracy is itself undemocratic
and continues to violate the majority will of its members to end the
criminal blockade on Cuba.

Chavez’ decision to withdraw, he said, came, “out of dignity, and we
accuse them before the world of being unfit to call themselves a human
rights group." It is not unheard of for such groups to be barred by
governments in the South from their countries when they face actual
military aggression. But the war against such sovereign countries
begins long before direct military action. It begins in articles such
as Forero’s.

Lizzie Phelan is a freelance journalist specialising in the struggles
of peoples defending their countries against violations of their
sovereignty. Currently based in Nicaragua, she has reported from Syria
and Libya for Press TV and Russia Today as well as independently. In
Libya she was there until the NATO onslaught paved the way for the
rebels to invade Tripoli. She blogs at
http://lizzie-phelan.blogspot.in/ LIZZIE PHELAN'S YOUTUBE CHANNELS:
www.youtube.com/theliberatedzone AND
www.youtube.com/theliberatedzonetv. Visit her blog to donate support
her work



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