lunes, 17 de febrero de 2014

COHA's disgraceful report on Venezuela


A report by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a Washington based organization is full of lies about Venezuela. This piece is written by COHA’s non-identified staff. This organization was founded by Larry Birns almost 40 years ago, and has made the attacking  of U.S. democracy and the eulogizing of  leftist Latin American dictators one of its main objectives.   Birns has supported Castro and, in later years, has become a propagandist for the so-called Bolivarian Revolution and for the now deceased Hugo Chavez. Larry is 85 years old and possibly can no longer exercise much quality control in his organization.  Many of the products of COHA in the last years have been very mediocre pieces of research. Now I see they have been at it again, with this piece on Venezuela, which title says it all:    

By: COHA Staff
The piece starts by saying:  
“The Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) views with great alarm the violence perpetrated against the democratically elected government and civilians in Venezuela that has resulted, as of February 12, 2014, in three confirmed deaths, 61 persons wounded and 69 detained. The carnage and destruction in Caracas on Wednesday comes on the heels of generally peaceful marches held on the 200th anniversary of the battle of La Victoria, a battle in which students played a critical role in a victory against royalist forces during Venezuela’s war of independence. While some groups of students marched in celebration of the Day of the Student, anti-government demonstrators used the occasion to protest episodic shortages of some basic goods, persistent crime, and to demand the release of students who had been arrested in earlier demonstrations”.
Comment by Gustavo Coronel: This introductory paragraph already reveals either abysmal ignorance of what is happening in Venezuela or plain dishonesty. It would suggest that the deaths, the wounded and the imprisoned are the result of violence of the protesters against the government when, in fact, the opposite is true. The weapons and the brute force have been on the side of the Cuban and Venezuelan soldiers while the protesters are unarmed and peaceful. COHA speaks of the demonstrations as being held to protest “episodic shortages” of goods in the country when the truth is that the country has been in a permanent situation of basic good shortages, due to the total paralysis of domestic production and the collapse of imports by the government.

COHA continues:  
“The vicious street attack near the national headquarters of the prosecutor’s office in Caracas came after several days of often violent anti-government protests in the streets of Aragua, Lara, Mérida and Táchira. [1] Some of these protests included the use of rocks, guns, and Molotov cocktails, and were largely directed against government buildings, the public (pro-government) television station Venezolana de Televisión, vehicles and other property, the police, and civilians”.
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. This paragraph sounds like written by the Venezuelan government’s spin experts, who are mostly Cuban. The truth is that, after years of total dedication to electoral means, in a country in which elections are controlled by the government, many frustrated Venezuelans have taken to the streets, as it has happened in many other countries where dictatorships leave no other alternative. The bulk of the original protesters are High School and University students, increasingly joined by common citizens. The government is sending against them their hordes of urban terrorists, riding motorcycles and heavily armed.  They are the so-called “Colectivos” and Tupamaros, thugs which Prison Minister, a sociopath called Iris Varela, define as “the main defenders of the revolution”. Of the three dead two were university students, one a member of the urban terrorists, killed by “friendly” fire, as published reports have demonstrated.   
Says COHA:
“The term “colectivos” is being used in this context to evoke a pejorative image of Chavistas who are associates of collectives… Also, the generally anti-government flavor of the attacks indicates that the main culprits are more likely extreme elements of the opposition. It stretches the bounds of credibility to argue that the government would seek to destabilize itself when it has come out the winner in two important elections (presidential and municipal), has made reducing violence and crime a top priority, has recently met with opposition mayors to find ground on which to cooperate, and seeks a peaceful implementation of the government’s six year plan (Plan de la Patria)”.
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. This is pitiful.  The term Colectivos is the term used by the government to call those groups, not a “pejorative” term used by the opposition. The authors of this piece cannot understand, or do not want to understand, that the protests were against the disastrous situation of the country and that violence erupted when the government thugs and soldiers repressed the peaceful marches. Of course the protests are against the government! The government has chosen to repress them violently because is in their nature to do so. There is no such a thing as a sincere desire to reduce crime in a country which is now one of the three most violent in the world, where armed thugs and the government’s police are assassinating 25000 Venezuelans every year. The authors of the piece refer to the Plan de la Patria but it is clear that they have not read it. I have read it and I can say with property that this document is piece of ideological trash, which represents a totally unconstitutional attempt at perpetuating the dictatorship in power. I have written a series of articles in my blog analyzing this abusive document and I challenge COHA to a public debate on its contents.  

COHA adds:
“Venezuelans who are now mobilizing in the barrios of Caracas have seen a similar set of events unfold during the prelude to the coup of 2002 against the democratically elected former President Hugo Chavez, so they are not likely to be taken in by the opposition’s skewed version of events. On the contrary, the killings have ignited calls from the Chavista base for strong government intervention to bring a halt to the violence and punish both the intellectual authors and the direct perpetrators of these crimes.  A number of student leaders, both pro and anti-government, have spoken out against the violence., and the more ostensibly moderate elements of the opposition that have called for peaceful marches have also condemned the violence. Former right wing MUD candidate for President and current governor of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, who participated in a pro-opposition student march, has distanced himself from the ultra-right, declaring on twitter “”We condemn the violence. Violence will never be our path. We are sure that the large majority reject and condemn this!” [5] While it is uncertain whether Capriles’s statement signals a growing breach within the opposition leadership over strategy and tactics, his statement correctly reads the aversion to violence of the large majority of Venezuelans”.
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. In this long paragraph COHA pretends to depict the protests as the work of isolated, right wing groups, which are repudiated by the “popular” sectors. In fact, there is no civil war going on in Venezuela. So far, this is a struggle between common, mostly middle class citizens and government armed thugs and soldiers, many of whom are Cuban. The poor are sitting on the fence.  It is true that opposition leader Henrique Capriles has shown himself adverse to the people taking to the streets, preferring a dominantly pro-electoral strategy,  he actually participated in the February 12 march and has been convoking a new march at this very moment. Other opposition leaders, such as Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina Machado and Antonio Ledezma are in full support of the protests and Lopez is calling for a massive march to take place Tuesday, February 18.  I am sure that, If COHA had been reporting on Poland during the times of Solidarity, they would have labelled this group as extremist and terrorist, while the communist government of Jaruzelsky would have been defined as the victim of Solidarity’s violence. This is what Larry Birns is all about.

COHA continues:
“Speaker of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, accused armed right wing groups for the killings, saying, “They are fascists, murderers, and then they talk about dialogue.”  In an interview with TeleSUR, Foreign Minister Elías Jaua has declared that, “there are fascist groups that are defending transnational interests that seek an end to the sovereign and independent management  of the natural resources, just as they have done ever since the arrival of Commandante (Hugo) Chavez fifteen years ago.” .  He alleged that Leopoldo López was the “intellectual author of the deaths and injuries in Caracas.”.  On February 13, El Universal reported that a warrant had been issued by a Caracas judge for Leopoldo López’s arrest on charges that include homicide and terrorism”.
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. This is clear evidence of the macabre side COHA has chosen to support. For the information of the readers, Diosdado Cabello is number two in the government’s hierarchy and was one of the accomplices of Hugo Chavez in the bloody coup of February 1992 that produced 200 innocent deaths. Now, that was an armed coup against a democratic government, not a civic protest against a dictatorial regime, as is the case today. Cabello is a well-known thug and has no moral authority to term anyone as a “killer”, especially as this is untrue. For the information of the readers, Nobel prize winner Oscar Arias, John Kerry, The UN, members of the Canadian Parliament, Marco Rubio, the Interamerican Human Rights organization, the European Union and a growing number of personalities across the world are condemning the repression led by the Venezuelan regime.  President elect Bachelet has said: ”I repudiate repression in all its forms. Venezuela must hold a plebiscite. My greatest rejection of (President) Nicolas Maduro. You do not attack the people“, condemning the iron hand of riot police and the attacks by armed gangs against the students' massive demonstration, which left at least three people killed and over sixty injured.
 In favor of the regime is Castro’s Cuba, Daniel Ortega, discredited Cristina Kirchner and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, all of whom depend largely on Venezuelan oil money to keep going. And, now, COHA.
A Spanish proverb is fitting:  “tell me who your friends are and we will tell you who you are”.   
This was the february 12 march
 COHA ends this way:
“The moderate response of Maduro to what he takes to be an attempted coup,should not be mistaken for a lack of resolve.  Nor should this challenge by the extreme right sabotage the attempts by Maduro to build national unity with the more moderate opposition in the fight against crime.  The current clash between revolution and counter revolution reflects an underlying dialectic between two different visions of the social and economic spheres. The Chavista counter offensive in the economic war has seriously called into question the priority of the claims of private property over the claims of human life and development for all citizens. We can expect the government counter offensive, the struggle for food sovereignty, and the building of communes to continue unabated, despite challenges, sometimes violent, from the hard liners on the right. For the formerly excluded and dispossessed, for those working towards building 21st century socialism, there is no turning back”.
Comment by Gustavo Coronel. This shameless statement places COHA squarely in the category of fellow travelers. The tone of the statement suggests that it is a piece made to order. Congratulations, Larry!  Contrary to what COHA says there is no “economic war”, only economic incompetence on the part of the government and certainly no struggle for food sovereignty. The Venezuelan regime is in shambles, rotting away, as any impartial observer can testify to. Please take a few minutes to read, for example, this Bloomberg’s piece, in:   
To save readers some time let me give them some statistics mentioned by Bloomberg’s report:
·        At least three airlines have grounded flights to and from Venezuela so far this year, in part because the nation's government owed the carriers $3.3 billion
·        Toyota Motor Corp. is halting production in Venezuela, while Ford Motor Co. is reducing output. A mere 722 vehicles were sold in a country of almost 29 million people last month
·        In the last six months 12 papers have shut and more than a dozen might cease publication if the government doesn’t sell the newspapers enough foreign exchange to pay for imported paper.
·        The central bank’s foreign exchange reserves fell to a 10-year low last month. And Venezuelans eager to safeguard their money from annual inflation of 56 percent are evading capital controls to transfer as many dollars as they can overseas
·        A greenback in the black market now goes for 84.2 bolivars, or 13 times the official rate.
 There is much more such as, for example, the financial and ethical collapse of the Venezuelan oil company, PDVSA.
I challenge COHA to a public debate on this and other Venezuelan related issues.

2 comentarios:

Jacob Sulzbach dijo...

So long as Larry Birns remains Director of the COHA we will continue to hear of the greatness of Hugo Chavez, who Birns once described as "one of the greatest heroes of the age."

Birns, who was a UN Economic Commission member in Chile during the Allende years, has a lot of personal prestige vested in the "success" . . . cough, cough of Chavismo, so I don't think we can expect any kind of a realistic appraisal of what is going down from COHA under his "leadership," such as it is.

And I also do not expect to hear Larry Birns take you up on your challenge Gustavo, good idea though it was.

Gustavo Coronel dijo...

I have been trying for years now to debate publicly with some of the government figures or with their hired guns, to no avail. The problem with satrapies is that they are not interested in debating, nor are they prepared for that. They just like to order people around.