Venezuela’s Elections: Courage in the Face of Economic and Psychological War

December 4, 2015 at 4:45 PM

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It is important not to overlook the very real economic war being waged by the U.S. and its allies in Venezuela and throughout Latin America.

This morning I saw the sun rise over Venezuela from 30,000 feet, my flight descending to Caracas in the early dawn light. As the darkness retreated, a rugged, majestic coastline came into view: the small waves lapping against the rocky shore, perceptible only by a thin streak of white foam set against the dark brown of rock, and deep green of the lush hillside just above it.

This was my first glimpse of Venezuela, a country I have been following since the early days of my political development, when a man named Hugo Chavez was elected and shook the very foundations of Latin America, challenging the hegemony of the U.S. Empire in its own “backyard.” Soon I was in the airport, sipping strong coffee from a small plastic cup with a few members of my delegation from the U.S. and Canada. We all came to the Bolivarian Republic to bear witness to the all-important elections scheduled to take place Sunday, as well as the violence and destabilization that is likely to follow if the U.S.-backed opposition loses.

From the back seat of the car taking us from the airport to the center of Caracas, I gazed out the window, drinking in the landscape, the people, the juxtaposition of modern public housing high rises and small, dilapidated homes lining the hillsides. But as I observed the surroundings, there was one pair of eyes that seemed to be gazing back: El Comandante.

Chavez is larger than life in Venezuela, a country where “Chavismo” is both a movement and an ideology, one rooted in the legacy of this hero and leader, even in death. His face adorns billboards. His signature is plastered on the sides of buildings. His eyes have literally come to be the symbol of the PSUV, the Venezuelan socialist party that he built into a political force in the Bolivarian Republic (also a Chavez creation) and throughout Latin America.

But one cannot help but be struck by the difficulties the country now faces. Many basic necessities of life such as deodorant, sunscreen, and toilet paper are either missing from store shelves, or are in such short supply that lines wrapping around the block are a common sight at busy drug stores in the city. Inflation has wreaked havoc on daily life for ordinary Venezuelans who have been forced to wait for hours at the ATM just to withdraw Bolivars whose official exchange rate is 6.5 to 1 U.S. dollar, while the unofficial rate is hovering around 800 to 1. Even the cafes and restaurants that line the major avenues of Caracas are often out of basic foods such as beans, pork, and more. For someone with visions of hot, steaming arepas (Venezuela’s signature food) filled with juicy pernil (shredded pork) dancing in my head in the days leading up to my trip, the lack of such staples was a major realization of just how dire the economic situation has become.

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Terror in Mali: An Attack on China and Russia?

November 27, 2015 at 3:14 PM

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Coming on the heels of the terrorist attack in Paris, the mass shooting and siege at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, the capital of the African nation of Mali, is still further evidence of the escalation of terrorism throughout the world. While there has already been much written about the incident in both western and non-western media, one critical angle on this story has been entirely ignored: the motive.

For although it is true that most people think of terrorism as entirely ideologically driven, with motives being religious or cultural, it is equally true that much of what gets defined as “terrorism” is in fact politically motivated violence that is intended to send a message to the targeted group or nation. So it seems that the attack in Mali could very well have been just such an action as news of the victims has raised very serious questions about just what the motive for this heinous crime might have been.

International media have now confirmed that at least nine of the 27 killed in the attack were Chinese and Russian. While this alone would indeed be curious, it is the identities and positions of those killed that is particularly striking. The three Chinese victims were important figures in China’s China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), while the Russians were employees of Russian airline Volga-Dnepr. That it was these individuals who were killed at the very outset of the attack suggests that they were the likely targets of what could perhaps rightly be called a terrorist assassination operation.

But why these men? And why now? To answer these questions, one must have an understanding of the roles of both these companies in Mali and, at the larger level, the activities of China and Russia in Mali. Moreover, the targeted killing should be seen in light of the growing assertiveness of both countries against terrorism in Syria and internationally. Considering the strategic partnership between the two countries – a partnership that is expanding seemingly every day – it seems that the fight against terrorism has become yet another point of convergence between Moscow and Beijing. In addition, it must be recalled that both countries have had their share of terror attacks in recent years, with each having made counter-terrorism a central element in their national security strategies, as well as their foreign policy.

And so, given these basic facts, it becomes clear that the attack in Mali was no random act of terrorism, but a carefully planned and executed operation designed to send a clear message to Russia and China.

Continue reading the article here

 

Syria: Turkey Supports Terrorism, Attacks Russia; US-NATO Continue Drive for Regime Change

November 25, 2015 at 10:49 AM

Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.org appears on WBAI’s Morning Show (Nov. 25, 2015) to discuss the situation in Syria after Turkey shot down a Russian jet. Draitser explains the nature of US and Turkish support for terror groups in Syria, the importance of the Syria-Turkey border region, and the agenda for US-NATO in Syria. He also discusses the rich historical record of US support for terrorism, and how Washington uses it as a weapon in pursuit of its foreign policy objectives. (Length: roughly 16 minutes)

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US-NATO Escalation in Syria? Turkey Downs Russian Jet

November 24, 2015 at 5:39 PM

Eric Draitser appears on KPFA (94.1FM – Berkeley, CA) to provide his analysis of Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet along the Turkish-Syrian border. Draitser argues that Turkish President Erdogan used this pretext to attack Russia for destroying the terrorist groups and infrastructure that Turkey has long been supporting. He also explains Turkey’s regional ambitions of hegemony, the reason it has been set on destroying Syria, and how Russia might respond. All this and much more in this 20 minute interview.

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Terror in Europe: How US-NATO Foreign Policy Has Brought Terrorism to the EU

November 24, 2015 at 5:06 PM

Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.org provides his commentary (Nov. 22, 2015) on the latest developments in Europe as Belgium responds to a possible imminent terror attack. Draitser explains that US-NATO support for terrorism in Syria has created a jihadist monster which is now targeting Europe itself. He notes that the Paris attacks have cause some shifts in terms of policy in France and the US, but that it is unlikely to change Washington’s agenda of regime change for Syria and support for terrorism in Syria and internationally.