domingo, 6 de abril de 2014

A small group of Maduro admirers send a letter to the U.S. Congress

They want Maduro here

An open letter to the U.S. Congress is only the latest in a series of shameless publications by a small group of university professors and Hollywood figures that support the Venezuelan narco-dictatorship. The same persons appear repeatedly in the diverse documents generated recently. They all share enthusiasm for the Cuban and the Venezuelan totalitarian governments. Although living in a democracy, they inexplicably support these autocratic regimes for reasons that properly belong into textbooks about Psychological Pathology.

The list of signatories of this open letter is:

Danny Glover, Oliver Stone, Tom Hayden, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Lisa Sullivan, Antonio Gonzalez, president, William C. Velasquez Institute; George Ciccariello-Maher, professor of Political Science, Drexel University; Arturo Escobar, professor of Anthropology, UNC, Chapel Hill; James Counts Early, Institute for Policy Studies Board of Trustees; Sujatha Fernandes, acting associate director, Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York; Daniel Hellinger, professor of International Relations, Webster University; Dan Kovalik, professor of International Human Rights, University of Pittsburgh School of Law; Steve Ellner, professor of History, Universidad de Oriente, Venezuela; Nicole Phillips, human rights lawyer, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Port-au-Prince, Haiti; John Womack, Jr., Harvard University Robert Woods Bliss professor of Latin American History and Economics, emeritus; Miguel Tinker Salas, professor of History, Pomona College; Sinclair Thomson, professor of History, New York University; T.M. Scruggs, professor emeritus, University of Iowa; Gilbert M. Joseph, Farnam professor of History and International Studies, Yale University; Gerardo Renique, associate professor, Department of History, City College of the City University of New York; Greg Grandin, professor of History, New York University.

Some of the members of this group are well-known to us, due to their dedication to sing the praises of the Venezuelan narco-dictatorship. Some of them have actually received significant amounts of money from the deceased dictator, Hugo Chavez. One, Danny Glover, received about $18 million from Chavez to do a picture about Haitian historical figure Toussaint Overture, no doubt promising him that the picture would be a subliminal pro-Chavez message. This film is still “in the makings”, after nine years or so, and we reasons to suspect that it will never be finished. Another, Oliver Stone, is the author of a documentary on Chavez for which he received a significant amount of money, in the millions of dollars. Others are university professors such as Daniel Hellinger, Steve Ellner, Miguel Tinker-Salas and Greg Grandin or authors of laudatory books about Chavez, such as George Ciccariello-Maher. Tom Hayden is a social activist, better known for having been married to Jane Fonda during her pro- Hanoi years.
This is the letter they sent to Congress, which I would like to comment:    

Dear Members of Congress,
We write to you out of a deep concern over the recent tragic events in Venezuela and because we believe that recent congressional action in response to these events is misguided and could actually worsen the situation. On Mar. 4, the House of Representatives passed Resolution 488 "Supporting the people of Venezuela as they protest peacefully for democratic change and calling to end the violence." The resolution is right to condemn violence and call for dialogue, but incorrectly portrays the government as the sole party responsible for the violence that has taken place and also paints an inaccurate picture of protestors' demands.

My comment: It would seem obvious to anyone that violence following peaceful protests by thousands of students, house wives and, even, children, is generated by the reaction of the armed forces of the regime. The protesters did not and do not   have weapons. The rubber bullets, the toxic gas, the rifles, the armored tanks, are all in on the camp of the regime. The graphic material that proves the repression by the armed forces and by bands of thugs controlled by the government is absolutely overpowering.  It was very revealing that Mr. Nicolas Maduro’s op-ed in the New York Times complained about the coverage of these events by the international press, which is unanimously critical of government brutality.  The international press is not subjected to censorship as is the case in Venezuela.
As The New York Times, Reuters and other outlets have reported, opposition protestors have engaged in acts of violence that have resulted in loss of life and injury. Rather than merely "protesting economic, social, and political concerns," as the resolution text states, many of these protestors are blocking roads, damaging public and private property and carrying out violent acts in a stated effort to provoke the immediate removal of the country's elected government. Given the passage of this resolution and the recent introduction of legislation that mandates targeted sanctions against Venezuelan officials (H.R. 4229), we wish to share with you a few well-documented facts about these protests in the hope that you can help promote a more balanced vision of the situation in Venezuela within Congress.

My commentary: These paragraphs grossly distort the facts. International reporting coincides in the repressive nature of the government forces. This is very well documented and the U.S. Congress should not be led astray by these irresponsible allegations. Repression came first, then, came barricades.

In the last five weeks, over two-dozen people have been killed in violent incidents related to opposition protests. Some of these have been opposition protesters and some of them appear to have died due to the actions of government forces. However, it is important to note that more than half of the dead (as of Mar. 13), however, have not been opposition protesters, but have either been government supporters, National Guard officers, or people who have been killed at the barricades - either driving into them, or shot while trying to remove them. A few ghastly cases resulted in the decapitation of motorcyclists who rode into wire that opposition protesters had tied across the road. All such deaths and violence are lamentable. But recent statements and the text of H. Res. 488 focuses exclusively on violence carried out by those in the employ of the Venezuelan government, while ignoring the equally lamentable deaths of those who support the government, or who were essentially bystanders.

My commentary: The truth about the deaths is, again, very well documented. They number 39 people, many more than as reported in the letter.  About 75% of the victims belong in the opposition camp. Only one motorcyclist has been killed in the manner mentioned. Armed motorcyclists, by the way, represent one of the main weapons of the regime. They are civilians trained to kill and harass Venezuelans and have been called “main defenders of the revolution” by the government. 

It is also commendable to denounce actions by the Venezuelan government or any other government that infringe on human rights such as freedom of association and freedom of speech. H. Res. 488 notes the number of people "unjustly detained" in connection to the protests, including opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, condemning "politically motivated criminal charges to intimidate the country's political opposition." Yet many protesters have not been peaceful, as clearly shown by much of the media coverage. Protesters have shot and killed people trying to remove barricades, including Chilean national Giselle Rubilar Figueroa on March 9, National Guard officers and others. They have burned buildings and Metro stations. They have assaulted journalists (as Reuters reported on March 12).

My commentary: Killing, torturing and repression are being carried out by the Police, the National Guard and the urban thugs mentioned above. The evidence is so overwhelming that there is no need to report a few specific cases.  Senator Marco Rubio already showed some of this material in a recent speech on Venezuela. Foro Penal Venezolano, a human rights organization in Venezuela, see , reports 18 cases of torture and 539 arrests, including the case of Juan Manuel Carrasco, sodomized by members of the National Guard. The United Nations, see:,  reports 39 deaths, 608 wounded and 192 people in prison as of today and its Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demands the protection of human rights.  About 120 cases of human rights  violations have been reported by the Foro Penal Venezolano from the State of Táchira, one of the many areas of the country where protests are taking place (El Nacional, April 4, 2014).        

Considering that not all the protesters in Venezuela are peaceful and engaged in lawful activity, the Venezuelan government may have legitimate reasons for arresting and detaining a number of them. This includes some higher-profile opposition figures. The Venezuelan government sought the arrest of retired General Angel Omar Vivas Perdomo in relation to his Tweets advising protesters to string wire across streets at a height of 1.2 meters in response to pro-government motorcyclists. After the deaths of two motorcycle riders from riding into wires, security forces went to Vivas Perdomo's house. He emerged on his balcony carrying a large assault rifle and engaged in a stand-off, and ultimately the officers left without arresting him.

My Commentary: the case of general Angel Vivas Perdomo is very illustrative. This military officer was actually dismissed from the Armed Forces when he refused to salute: “Fatherland, socialism or death”, since he considered this partisan salute to be incompatible with the constitutional mission and apolitical nature of the Armed Forces. The letter fails to report that when the government tried to put him in prison the entire neighborhood defended him and forced the Venezuelan military/police to retreat.  

Among those the Venezuelan authorities have arrested are 14 members of the security forces. It is also notable that as soon as evidence emerged that members of Venezuela's intelligence service (SEBIN) had been involved in shooting at protesters - apparently killing one - President Maduro fired the head of the agency and eight other officers were arrested. In another case, the driver of a truck who struck and killed a student protester was arrested and charged with homicide.
The concern for human rights in Venezuela expressed in the resolution is admirable, but to only focus on the deaths of protesters while ignoring the killings of pro-government and other individuals by protesters politicizes and undermines effective promotion of human rights. Targeting only the Venezuelan government and condemning it while depicting the protesters as uniformly "peaceful" and "non-violent" is akin to saying you want to break up a fight by holding back the arms of one brawler while the other continues to throw punches at him. This is undoubtedly why the U.S. administration's proposals for action on Venezuela at the OAS have fallen on deaf ears: the U.S. government's version of events seems far removed from reality and what has been reported in the international media.

My Commentary:  The brawl in Venezuela involves someone armed to the teeth (the regime) and another unarmed (the protesters) , a highly asymmetrical affair. The shameful event at the OAS, where Deputy Maria Corina Machado was not allowed to speak, has a different explanation. The OAS today is an organization controlled by the Venezuelan regime through the votes of the ALBA countries and of the members of the Caribbean Community, CARICOM.  The Venezuelan regime provides them with subsidized oil at a huge loss to the nation. Such handouts have converted them into political satellites. This is why the OAS is now a totally discredited organization.

Portions of the letter have been omitted due to its irrelevancy.

…..If U.S. members of Congress want to assist Venezuela in resolving this current situation of violent unrest, they should urge other opposition leaders to come to the table in good faith.
Venezuela is a democracy, as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently affirmed in public statements on the situation, saying, "No one would argue that it isn't." Voter enfranchisement and participation has greatly increased in recent years, and former president Jimmy Carter has called Venezuela's electoral system "the best in the world." Freedom of the press is also alive and well in Venezuela, where the vast majority of media (including TV stations) remains privately owned and regularly gives voice to the opposition, as the New York Times recently admitted in a correction.

My Commentary: These paragraphs actually border on the dishonest. The letter quotes a selected portion of what Mrs. Clinton said. Her complete sentence was: It’s a democracy. No one would argue that it isn’t,” Clinton said, but she added:  “But a democracy doesn’t just mean an election. A democracy means a free press. Protecting the rights of opponents. Protecting a free economy. Having an independent judiciary. So other than elections, there aren’t very many characteristics of a real democracy right now in Venezuela.” We can add that even elections are mostly controlled by the regime since the Board of the National Electoral Council is made up of government followers. The letter repeats Carter assertion to the effect that the Venezuelan electoral system is the best in the world. I say, once more, that Carter is a bad word in Venezuela, a persona non grata, since the Carter Center is perceived to be in bed with the Venezuelan regime. Recently a sugary book on Chavez by Mr. George Cacciarello- Maher, one of the persons signing this letter, was presented in an event at the Carter Library, next door to the Center. Congress should ask if they have received donations from the Venezuelan government.   

Finally, we feel that targeted sanctions against the Venezuelan government - as stipulated in H.R. 4229 (introduced on March 13, 2014) - is both a gross over-reaction to the alleged repression in Venezuela and uncalled for given that, as mentioned earlier, authorities have taken judicial action - including arrests and investigations - to address alleged abuses carried out by security agents. Rather than contribute to peace and dialogue, this legislation will only create more tension between the U.S. and Venezuela and will weaken U.S. efforts to promote constructive dialogue between government and opposition actors. Thank you for your concern for human rights, peace and democracy in Venezuela.
My Commentary: I hope the U.S. Congress will see through this letter since it represents a highly biased position by a group of friends of Latin American dictators. The admiration of leftist university professors and some Hollywood actors for strong men and autocratic governments is not new. Similar groups existed in support of the criminal Cuban “revolution”. This letter points to a resurgence of this aberrant posture, a proof that ideological fanaticism can destroy true academic values, which include the search for truth in a free and democratic intellectual environment.   

9 comentarios:

david1952000 dijo...

All of these idiots should have to go live under the Marxist system they espouse. They would be back in the US faster than a balsero.

Anónimo dijo...

Not only should they see through the BS spewed in this letter, but they should consider investigations into improper involvement with this soon to be cuban colony, and all the puppets who signed it. Follow the money trail and you will surely find improper financial transactions and untaxed dispersements. I am sure though that Stone and Glover properly claimed their millions on their taxes while enjoying the comforts of living within the U.S.(sic). It may seem extreme, but sometimes words can be just as damaging as bullets if in the wrong hands. Hold them accountable for their paid statements.

Didn't see Sean Penn's signature. Did he suddenly grow a conscience, or did his paid support stop with chavez's heartbeat?


Anónimo dijo...

Los usuales left-wings aodradores del dictadores de izquierda. Me permito el abuso de publicar aquí, por partes, un escrito que intenté poner en el NYT como comentario a uno de sus reportajes sobre Venezuela. Sobrepasa el núemro de caracteres permitidos, así que no lo pude publicar. Luego se lo envíe a Amampour luego de su entrevista. No tengo blog ni escribo en otros sitios.

A Series of Unfortunate Events
I borrow part of the title of a film by Jim Carrey. A summary of the facts:
The old regime, corrupted, populist, and without compass, had lost the favor of the people.
In 1992, a Lieutenant Colonel leads a bloody coup, which fails. This military, Hugo Chavez, surrenders in front of TV cameras. A country that demonstrates not having passed its past of caudillismo, fell in love with him, infatuated.
Chavez goes to prison. His place of detention becomes a kind of sanctuary where former guerrillas, communists, university professors and left wing intellectuals, opportunistic people and even former members of the main AD and COPEI parties procession to honor him.
Chavez never goes to trial. He gets the dismissal of his cause and he is released from prison. Then, he travels to Cuba where he gives a speech in front of the dictator Castro in the University of Havana. He looks haunted by the tyrant. This will result in the most expensive infatuation of human history.
In 1998 he participated in the elections and won them. The old regime recognizes him as the winner and he becomes president. A new Constitution is written. In a military parade, he says that if a person is hungry has the right to steal.
He began to expropriate and the country sees what seem the first signs of an attempt to revive the communist monster. His government is a mix of peronism (he is Peron and Evita in the same person), Latin American caudillismo, populism, marxism, fascism and militarism (communism is not but a left wing fascism).
Cubans have begun to exert their influence. In 2002, a huge street demonstration in Caracas deposes Chavez. The plutocrats and arrivistes take advantage of the situation, the street movement is defeated and Chavez is returned to power, with the main role of general Baduel, currently a prisoner of the regime.
The struggle continues. When Chavez is in trouble he calls for dialogue. But it is always to gain time. He follows in his preaching of hatred. In 2004, according to the 1999 Constitution, opposition gathered signatures for a recall referendum. The Supreme Court interprets the Constitution and becomes the referendum a plebiscite. Fidel Castro encouraged Chavez to create the Missions, development of populism created by the old party AD. He wins the referendum amid great doubts about the cleaning of the process.

Anónimo dijo...


The Cuban people increase their influence. It is not only the social missions. Registries and notaries are controlled by Cubans. Insight into the forces armed is impossible to hide. Cuba flag is hoisted in public places, even in Miraflores, headquarters of the president ( At the same time, Chavez continues to ideologize military and create heavily armed paramilitary groups that will serve him as a shock force (they are acting right now).
In 2005 the opposition withdraws from the parliamentary elections. Abstention is gigantic, reaching the unthinkable figure of 75%. Some people even suggest a near 90% abstention. Where are Chavez supporters? Suspicious minds. The King is naked.
Expropriations continue as well as agreements with other countries, burdensome: Cuba receives more than 100,000 barrels of oil daily, practically for nothing but invasion in the form of “missions”. This explains why Cubans are so involved in the current conflict: Cuba tyranny survives subsidized by Venezuela.
However, Chavez still has money. A price of a barrel of oil to $100 allows him to manage a sum thousand millionaire at will. Budgets are calculated at $60 per barrel. Nobody knows how the rest is used, but everybody suspects it. More corruption than ever, in a country with a tradition of corrupt rulers in the past. The regime has squandered a fortune greater than the income of the entire history of Venezuela, since Columbus came to our shores, until 1999.
In 2007, Chavez referendum tries to transform Venezuela into a socialist country, by changing 69 articles of the Constitution. He lost by a narrow margin, although rumors suggest that the difference is much greater in favor of the no. Very angry, he tells, surrounded by military, on national television broadcasting, that they have obtained a "victoria de mierda" (very rude expression). In 2009, through another referendum, he gets the desired indefinite re-election. The electoral system is so controlled that one of the Presidents of the electoral body, Jorge Rodriguez, has been Executive Vice President of the Republic, Mayor of Caracas and Coordinator of the PSUV, the Chavez’s party. Immoral.
Parliamentary elections in 2010. This time the opposition is involved. The regime applies the gerrymandering and with 48% of the popular vote gets 60% of the seats at the National Assembly.
The rest is recent history. Chavez, suffering from cancer, surrenders to Cuban medicine. He dies. He leaves a legacy of economic and social problems which ignited protest his successor is trying to appease with bullets. It is the end of the chavista delusion, hangover after 15 years of drunkenness. Highest inflation in the hemisphere, there is a monstrous external debt; there is no creation of jobs, on the contrary, every day they are lost; there are no dollars, but the regime prefers to continue subsidizing Cuba; Venezuela's problems can wait. They ran out of money. There is shortage of food and medicines, worsening every day. This problem affects not only the middle class but also the poor.

Anónimo dijo...


For months, people have suffered from the shortage and queues occur in sectors of middle class but also in poor sectors, only that they live under threat. One of the slogans most used by the regime, "towards food sovereignty" is paradoxical: they have destroyed agriculture and Venezuela imports practically all. The only thing Venezuela produces is oil, declining (most of it, purchased by the hated “Empire”, USA). And there is corruption. They import rotten food (
Add to the economic issue, the problem of insecurity. Today are calculated around 60 daily deaths due to this problem of crime unleashed. In 15 years, are estimated, because the official figures are carefully hidden, more than 200 thousand people killed by murder.
The government exercises tight social control on the poorest sectors and, especially, in rural areas. When there are elections, there are places with 200 voters, and 200 “vote” for Chavez, something statistically very improbable to occur. It is either fraud or fear, probably both of them. It is not only control on the poor. The regime looks for a “new communicational hegemony” (read: propaganda), simply meaning the closure of television stations, censorship and self-censorship on the other TV stations and radio, and newspapers suffocation due to lack of access to dollars to buy raw materials. Only Internet and the social networks are windows for freedom.
Chavez, in a decision possibly made under the Castro’s influence, designates Nicolas Maduro as his successor. Maduro, a bus driver, has no professional qualification other than being even more obedient to Castros’ will. He wins a disputed election on charges of fraud and lack of fair play. He might have been indoctrinated in Cuba, during his youth ( This might explain his reluctance to establish a real dialogue with the opposition -rather, the impossibility- or even to resign to the presidency and the criminal repression he is exerting against the people, mostly young students, in the streets, using methods to control manifestations that are condemned worldwide.
It has always been a slogan of Chavez's supporters that the revolution is here to stay and that they will never leave the power; they also say that they are going to deepen the revolution. Chavista representatives have physically assaulted opposition representatives, including women. They are always threatening or assaulting opponents everywhere. Nicolas Madura, via an Enabling Law, got powers to establish a “Communal State” (are not you familiar with this? I am; it is a way to say “communism”). It allows him to approve the “Plan de la Patria” (Homeland Plan), same content of the socialist/communist reform rejected by referendum in 2007. They say they are building the “Venezuelan via to socialism”, something that simply does not exist in the Constitution and is deeply rejected for almost everyone, including the chavistas (focus groups have consistently shown this); Chavez used to say that they were building “socialism of XXI century”. Can people, especially younger ones, accept this without rebelling?

Anónimo dijo...


Venezuela is now a colony of Cuba. Those who govern always have denounced “Yankee imperialism”. Today, their souls belong to Cuba's regime. Shamelessly, they are the real traitors to the Homeland. Not to mention their links with international drug trafficking.
Venezuela was a country of immigrants. People from all over came to remake his life, fleeing from wars and economic downturn. Today it is exactly the opposite. People migrate, especially the young who see no future: there are no jobs, there is no possibility of acquiring housing, there is no hope. The Minister of Education said “…It’s not like we (the government) are gonna take the people out of poverty so they become middle class and then turn into escuálidos” (derogatory term for opponents) ( )
More than 70 years of communism, countless millions dead, repression, suffocation of freedom, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung and his dynasty, the whole troop of communist leaders, the fall of the Berlin Wall were not enough. Whether Venezuela suffers this attempt to revive the monster or it is only a Cuba regime attempt to gain time while completing its transition to a system resembling current China and avoiding its complete fall, taking advantage of Venezuelan resources, it is obscene ( is the only reality.
Some people ask why the slums do not join the opposition demonstrations. They are controlled, they have fear and, why not, they are hopeless. However, the real question is why the poor do not join the demonstrations in support of chavismo. These declining manifestations are fabrications; the regime brings to Caracas hundreds of buses from all over the country with people who receive a payment (recruited for the occasion) or are forced to come (public officers) to the capital (
My country is ruined: economic ruin, social ruin and moral ruin.

Anónimo dijo...

SI Ud., Dr. Coronel o alguno de los distinguidos lectores consideran de algún valor ese escrito, puede usarlo sin ninguna clase de restricciones.

Jacob Sulzbach dijo...

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European empire in the late 1980's it took almost two decades for the adherents of the ideology of Socialist World Order to reconstitute themselves into a potent political force capable of shaping events in the underdeveloped nations of the southern portion of the Western Hemisphere.  And the single instructive example to which they always drew the world's attention to justify their cause was Cuba, but they only made their case popular because they could control the dissemination of information--read, they could lie under media protection--on the reality of life in that benighted society, which was never what it appeared in leftist propaganda.

Now; with the culmination of a new "socialist experiment" in Venezuela bearing its usual fruits of political repression, a deteriorating human rights situation, and a people standing on their own two feet demanding the attention of humanity, the adherents of the ideology of Socialist World Order find themselves struggling to hang on to the one thing that has given them a chance at political success up to now--control over the public dissemination of information.  They still have their supporters in the media, the New York Times comes immediately to mind, but their numbers are dwindling by the day as the internet-borne reality of what is happening in Venezuela reaches the world in what was once a trickle but is fast becoming a flood of information brought to us all by Twitter, online news sights, blogs, and emails that cannot be hidden.

Socialism for the 21st Century has nothing more to offer the world than its predecessors.  The people of Venezuela are making us hear it and those who have carried the day up to now under the cloak of media disinformation see the threat--either they reset the public debate to its former parameters of controlled discussion or the failure of "Socialist Model" will become all too evident once more.

That is what is behind the letter to the U.S. Congress.  It is a late attempt to reassert control over information about Venezuela, so that the debate can once again be "managed" by an ideologically-blinded elite who have always deemed themselves intellectually superior to the masses who live life in the real world and judge the results of policies on the basis of truth and common sense.

Let them keep trying.  Their inevitable failure will be another awakening that was only half-realized twenty years ago.  Not only do we need to undergo this experience, but so does the rest of the world in turn.

Anónimo dijo...

Thank you for dissipating the lies and side with the a Venezuelan myself, the distortion of the truth by radical liberalism is extremely hurtful to our fight for freedom and democracy. I know the Venezuelan freedom and the Venezuelan democracy...I lived there for 30 years!! I can compare/contrast with FIRST HAND experience because I lived through it. What Venezuela has and have been having for the past 15 years is not even's pure totalitarianism, political persecution and social harassment...the constitution has been mended several times to please the desires of ONE man: Hugo Chavez whom changed rules and laws at will without any opposition...private properties have been seized, taken or simply stolen under the encouragement of the government and for 15 years the Cuban Communists have been indoctrinating our children and schools...since Chavez's death, it is well known by Venezuelan that Raul Castro is the REAL Venezuelan ruler while Maduro serves as a smoke curtain.