Category Archives: English

Posts in English or with significant English parts

The Venezuelan Holodolencia

In Venezuela the regime is executing a deliberate policy of extermination by the denial of access to basic health care and medicines. This leads to a large amount of preventable deaths in many diseases, from tropical fevers leading to death by lack of acetaminophen, to cancer for lack of treatment in the early stages. The deaths are not random but are used as a political tool against dissidents. The regime is also executing a Holodomor, extermination by starvation, but that seems to be less effective, probably because in the tropical climate of Venezuela there can be many harvests a year; unlike Ukraine, where there is only one, and the regime successfully confiscated all seeds during the winter.

I suggest the term “Holodolencia” in analogy with “Holocaust” and “Holodomor”. Holocaust is from Greek and means “all burned”, and Holodomor is from Ukrainian and means “starvation-murder”. The word Holodolencia is created by keeping “holo-” from the previous words for genocide, and adding the Spanish word “dolencia” which means ‘disease,’ ‘illness,’ since the genocide consists of making a not very serious condition lethal by denying basic health care.

The method by which the regime is denying basic health care is as follows: First, declare that health care is a human right that all should have. Second, declare that the government shall be responsible for it, and create a national system but designed to support the regime base only. Third, take control over all imports and manufacturing of supplies to the private clinics, and deny them supplies and medicines so that they gradually stop functioning and have to cease their activities.

At present, the regime is prohibiting the import of medicines, it is actually forcing importers to burn medicines, and it is denying import for humanitarian reasons. Donated medicines that arrive to hospitals are ceased and destroyed. Predictably, the deaths are sky-rocketing. This Holodolencia may be more effective in Venezuela than the simultaneously executed Holodomor.

The Greatest Sea Journey Ever Made

One hundred years ago today, Sir Ernest Shackleton set out on a rescue journey from Elephant Island, the Antarctic, in the 22 foot lifeboat James Caird, to the whaling stations in Grytviken, South Georgia, over 700 nautical miles away (over 1300 km or 800 statute miles). With a crew of five sailors, supplies for 4 weeks, he set out in a rescue operation to get help for the rest of the crew who had been stranded in the Antarctic since their ship Endurance sank in the pack ice on November 21, 1915. The expedition had left South Georgia on December 5, 1914.

My grandfather was a whaler in Grytviken from 1919 to 1921 so I heard the stories directly from someone who had been on South Georgia—although he didn’t arrive until after Shackleton had left, and he left before Shackleton returned in 1922 only to die from a heart attack and be buried in Grytviken.

Launching the James Caird on Elephant Island, April 24, 1916.
Launching the James Caird on Elephant Island, April 24, 1916.

Miraculously the James Caird arrived to South Georgia after 17 days on the roughest ocean of the world, the Southern Ocean. This was beyond the Roaring Forties, this was the Screaming Fifties, as the whalers on South Georgia knew it. They had to ride out hurricane-force winds in view of the island before they could land. But they landed on the west coast, and Grytviken is on the east coast.

A smaller team of three made the crossing over the glacier-covered mountains, making the 51 km in 36 hours. From Gytviken a boat was sent to rescue the other 3, and the remaining 22 men on Elephant Island were rescued on August 30, 1916, with the assistance of the Chilean navy.

The journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia (Sydgeorgien).
The journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia (Sydgeorgien).

For more information about Sir Ernest Shackleton see this Wikipedia article.

By the way, Grytviken is a Scandinavian word that means “pot bay” and was so named because that’s where they boiled the whales. While whales were still processed on shore, there was government control over the harvest, but later in the 1920’s floating whaling stations were built, and that is what totally destroyed the whale populations. In the 1930’s and forward my grandfather, Knut “Attarparn” Nilsson, was an advocate against this form of whaling because he had seen first hand how harmful it was to the whale stock.

Why there will be war in Venezuela

The people of Venezuela don’t want Maduro as president. In fact, the opposition has been a majority since 2002, but the regime has stolen the elections to hold on to power. In the parliamentary elections on Dec 6, 2015, the opposition won an absolute majority but only because the military threatened a coup d’état if the regime stole more votes than required to hold on to just under one third of the seats.

However, since then the executive has made it abundantly clear that it has no intention of respecting the parliament or the laws it passes, and has ordered the supreme court to strip the parliament of its powers. At the same time the regime continues its blatant violations of human rights, amounting to prima facie crimes against humanity, for instance the butchering on 28 persons in a mining town and the parading of the chopped up corpses in town to saw fear. Witnesses say that this was done by the governor’s police force.

Non-violent struggle could have been effective but it is failing in Venezuela for lack of resources. It is impossible to rally enough people because of lack of basic resources for communication, such as paper and ink for flyers. The rallying cries only reach a small minority, and most of them stay away out of fear. Social media have been stifled too, by a law making it illegal forwarding the messages from the non-violent resistance.

After a decade of harsh punishment for any dissent, the fear is deeply engrained. The punishment is a matter of life or death. Just yesterday an acquaintance died 5 days after running out of medicine. The regime is withholding medicines and urgent medical care from dissidents. This amounts to a genocide of political opponents. A Holodomor by starvation is also being executed, but with less success: The regime has tried to ration the food like Staling did in Ukraine in the winter of 1932, but Venezuela is a tropical country with harvests year-round in less than two months from sowing, so it’s hard to starve its people to death.

One of the reasons why Gene Sharp developed the non-violent method as an alternative was because it would be cheaper and more feasible, lacking access to weapons. However, in Venezuela the regime has managed to all but eliminate the availability of resources for non-violent struggle, while at the same time inundating the country with weapons. It has the world’s highest murder rate, and most of it is by handguns. The slum is full of weapons. They have told me it’s easier to buy military explosives in the slum than it is to buy food!

This combination of utter despair, and the armed struggle being relatively more feasible in relation to non-violent struggle, means that the balance has shifted. The non-violent struggle in 2014 was beat down by hard military force. The Venezuelan people had to make a strategic retreat in order to arm themselves. Unless the regime sees the fiery script in the sky and dramatically changes strategy, war is probably coming to a South American country near you pretty soon.

Venezuela becomes totalitarian

On the south shore of the Caribbean Sea a totalitarian communist state is new being consolidated. On August 19th, Venezuela’s dictator Nicolás Maduro introduced a State of Emergency in five municipalities on the border to Colombia, and closed the border. He also started expelling Colombians from all over the country. Six paragraphs of the constitution were suspended. Apart from the usual four (the inviolability of the home, the right to private communications, the right to freely move about and to leave and enter the country, and the right to peacefully assemble) two more were suspended: The prohibition against using firearms and chemical weapons against peaceful protesters, and the right to do business.

Estado de excepcion Tachira

On the night of September 7th, this was extended to three municipalities in the northern end of Zulia state. The following day the regime (using a combination of twitter bots, hired staff and supporters who are being systematically brainwashed in workshops) launched the hashtag #CierreTotalDeLaFrontera (total closure of the border). The next day (today) they launched #NuevaFronteraDePaz (new border of peace), suggesting that peace will be achieved by closing the border.

CierreTotalDeLaFrontera

They conveniently forgot that the violence of the past largely was caused by the regime allowing several Colombian terrorist groups to have their bases on Venezuelan soil (FARC in Zulia state, ELN in Apure state). Furthermore, the smuggling that they want to stop, was carried out with the permission of the armed forces, who charge a fee for each load. In other cases it was the military themselves who did the smuggling over the border, closing it down for a few hours to have the zone for themselves.

Dictator Maduro is implementing the same policies in Venezuela that Stalin did in the Soviet Union, and which led to the Holodomor.
Nicolas Maduro is implementing the same policies in Venezuela that Joseph Stalin did in the Soviet Union, and which led to the Holodomor, genocide by starvation.

While this is going on at the border, the regime is also cracking down on the private vendors who have been buying at government stores at regulated prices, and resold it at free market prices. These so-called bachaqueros have been sharply attacked by the dictatorship, accusing them of causing the shortage of regulated products, an accusation that the average Venezuelan does not buy into.

Eighty "bachaqueros" were arrested in Puerto La Cruz, Anzoategui, the other day for "speculation" and their merchandize was seized.
Eighty “bachaqueros” were arrested in Puerto La Cruz, Anzoategui, the other day for “speculation” and their merchandize was seized.

It seems that all except the communists themselves consider the shortage to be caused by the following government policies: The regime confiscating and closing farms so that the domestic production decreased to a trickle; the regime confiscating food production companies and running them in a very inefficient way; the inflation and the unsustainable exchange rate and lack of hard currency, which has meant that farmers and producers are unable to import necessary spare parts and raw materials, thus further decreasing production; and the regulated prices which means that the producers are unable to charge enough to cover the cost of production, thus further decreasing output. All the actions the regime is taking to “solve” this problem are related to distribution (prohibiting transporting food, prohibiting the stockpiling of food, rationing sales, price control), while none is aimed at increasing production of food, or enabling the importation of more food by improving the trade balance.

Venezuela is a narco-oil-state that has been heavily armed by Russia and China, and is backed up by the security services of Cuba and Iran. The leadership has become outlandishly rich by systematically skimming the oil revenues, and by engaging in drug trafficking using the military and other state resources. Just one example, one of Hugo Chávez’s daughters allegedly has a fortune of $4 billion dollars, with a B.

The development of Venezuela under Nicolas Maduro resembles quite a bit the development of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. After a few years under the 1920’s when Stalin allowed “bachaqueros”, they were cracked down on in the early 1930’s. Just like in Venezuela today, people were prohibited from storing food, from transporting food, from traveling, and from doing private enterprise. In the Soviet Union this policy led to the Holodomor with around 10 million dead. In Venezuela the food shortage has been present for years but is gradually deteriorating. The new policies, which allegedly are introduced to solve the problem, instead run the risk of creating a holodomor in Venezuela, if nothing is done to stop this madness.

Putin wants Greece

Today the Greek people have voted whether to accept an economic help package from the EU and IMF. Judging from the incompetent way in which the marxist PM Tsipras has managed the negotiations, and now called this referendum in which he encouraged people to vote ‘no’, coupled with his attitude that Greece can get help from Russia and China instead, I cannot but suspect that the whole game plan from Tsipras has been all along to bring Greece out of Europe, and into the bosom of Putin’s neofascist Russia.

For Putin it would be an enormous geopolitical victory to get Greece as an ally; the biggest geopolitical victory since conquering Ingermanland from Sweden so that they could build St. Petersburg there 300 years ago. That victory gave Russia an access to the sea in the west, so that could build a Baltic Sea navy. Putin has now conquered part of Ukraine so that he can keep the navy base in Sevastopol, Crimea, but it is still cut off from the world oceans by the Bosporus, through Turkey. For that reason he has for years been striving to get a navy base overseas, in Libya, in Syria, in Yemen, in Venezuela. All of those have been frustrated, except Venezuela where it remains viable as long as Maduro manages to hold on to power – which he does at gunpoint. If he manages to lodge Greece away from the EU and later from NATO, he would drastically change the balance of power in the Mediterranean.

Russia aims to have a global naval presence by 2020, but after losing access to several countries where they had planned to build the necessary overseas navy bases, civil war broke out in those countries. What a coincidence! Black marks Russia and its closest allies.
Russia aims to have a global naval presence by 2020, but after losing access to several countries where they had planned to build the necessary overseas navy bases, civil war broke out in those countries. What a coincidence! Black marks Russia and its closest allies.

Diosdado Cabello’s End Game

Update 2015-06-15: Rumors say that the photos from Brazil were fake, that he didn’t go to that country, only to Haiti, and that he indeed was negotiating stabbing Maduro in his back, with a transitional government and protection for himself. Which obviously the U.S. government cannot give, since the judicial system in the U.S. does not obey the executive branch, and he is investigated for drug trafficking.

Venezuela is today governed (or some say not) by an un-holy alliance of a puppet of communist Cuba (the president, Nicolás Maduro), and of a drug king-pin (the speaker of the parliament, Diosdado Cabello). The U.S. knows that Mr. Cabello is the perhaps most important narco in the world today, and they will be going after him with all they’ve got. Cabello in turn knows that Maduro is incompetent, and that his regime is doomed to fail. Venezuela completely lacks an economical foundation apart from exporting petroleum, and the oil prices are not going to recover any time soon. So what are Cabello’s options? Short of spending the rest of his life in prison, he only has two, take power or seek asylum.

He has recently been traveling to Brazil and Haiti. In Brasil he met with President Dilma Rousseff, and in Haiti with Thomas Shannon, Counselor of the Secretary of State of the USA. These trips don’t sound like those made by someone planning a coup d’État; rather, they seem like the moves of someone planning a negotiated exit. That exit might be to hand over Maduro to the U.S., in return for a peaceful retirement in Brazil. Only time will tell.

Thomas Shannon, President of Haiti Michell Martelli, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez, and Diosdado Cabello
Thomas Shannon, President of Haiti Michell Martelli, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez, and Diosdado Cabello

At the same time the rapprochement between Cuba and USA must be seen by Cabello as a possible intent to have Maduro stab him in his back. As long as the regime was sustainable the un-holy alliance held up, but when it comes time for it to end, all bets are off. Will one betray the other, or will both go down together with the ship?

Is Cabello negotiating with USA to stab Maduro in his back? Is Maduro through Castro negotiating with USA to stab Cabello in HIS back?
Is Cabello negotiating with USA to stab Maduro in his back? Or is Maduro through Castro negotiating with USA to stab Cabello in his back? (The photo has been edited by the author.)

Virgen Mary appears to the hunger-strikers at the UN

The night between Wednesday and Thursday this week, between 2 and 3 AM, the Venezuelans in hunger strike in front of the UN building in New York, saw and photographed an appearance of Virgin Mary as “Divina Pastora“. Their demands are for liberty and democracy in Venezuela, the release of all political prisoners; the end of torture, repression, and censorship; free and genuine elections, and all other rights that are guaranteed by the UN declaration of Human Rights. Here is the picture that the photographer sent me, published here for the first time:

Foto © Eduardo Bavaresco, 2015
The HT of the hunger-strike is #HambreXLibertad, hunger for freedom. Photo © Eduardo Bavaresco, 2015

On Thursday the original hunger-striker, mayor of San Cristobal, Daniel Ceballos, ended his hunger strike when the regime agreed to release 11 students held as political prisoners. The non-violent resistance movement is still waiting for the names of those released.

Russia’s global ambitions

Take a good look at the map below. It shows Russia’s existing and planned Navy Bases as of 2008, mapped together with wars and border conflicts in 2015. In 2008 Putin announced plans for navy bases in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Venezuela. The first three had to be aborted due to the Arab Spring. Civil war erupted in Syria, and later in Libya and Yemen as well. Russia entered into an agreement with Iran to use one of their navy bases instead. Iran is supposedly helping the Houthi rebels in Yemen. A connection? And is there a similar link with the anti-US rebels in Libya? The other week top level Russian militaries visited Venezuela, a country dependent on Russian military expertise for its defense. In late May the regime publicly claimed sea areas off the disputed part of Guyana, and shortly after Putin appeared with dictator Maduro saying that Russia is defending Venezuela in case of an attack. The final hot spot on the map are some Japanese islands that Russia has occupied since WWII.

Russia aims to have a global naval presence by 2020, but after losing access to several countries where they had planned to build the necessary overseas navy bases, civil war broke out in those countries. What a coincidence! Black marks Russia and its closest allies.
Russia aims to have a global naval presence by 2020, but after losing access to several countries where they had planned to build the necessary overseas navy bases, civil war broke out in those countries. What a coincidence! Black marks Russia and its closest allies.

Apart from this Russian navy plan, China is also building up a global navy, with its own territorial disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea. They have already completely covered 8 km2 of coral reefs with sand in order to create military bases in what the Philippines consider their waters, in the Spratly Islands. As was the case in the past millennia, at stake is the control over the trade routes on the seas.

USA must change drug policy for national security reasons

I argue that the War on Drugs has created a huge problem for the Americas. In the United States it has led to the creation of a large prison population, social conflicts, violence, a flood wave of illegal immigration, and lately a threat to national security. In Latin America it has led to the destruction of a normal economy, corruption, rampant crime, nations on the point of becoming failed states, the highest murder rates on the planet, and a decrease of the standard of living. How has this happened?

It seems clear that the drug trade just follows supply-and-demand economics. As long as there is demand at a given price point, the market will assure that there is supply. The U.S. policy is targeted at destroying the supply, which obviously is not going to work, ever. When the drug prices rise due to the war on drugs, the calculus for the farmer in the jungle changes in the wrong direction. Cultivating coca becomes more attractive, not less, compared to the alternative crops. To understand this we can look at the economical geography.

The center of the economy is USA, and to be precise, the central business district of New York: Wall Street. There are also second, third, forth level centers, and so on. The farther away from the center we go, the lower is the land value, and the higher is the cost of transportation to the center where the consumers and the demand is. This means that people live in the first ring outside the center, and commute to work. Farther outside, in the Midwest, is farmland for cultivating grains and potatoes, crops that are relatively bulky and expensive to transport long distances. Still farther away are the cattle ranches. Their goods have a higher value per pound, and can support the longer transport routes, while at the same time requiring large, low-value farmland for their production. That is, the farthest away we will find the crop with the largest land requirement, the lowest weight, or the highest price per unit weight, and that is capable of surviving the transport. Pepper from India is a good example. Cocaine from South America fits the same bill, and it means that coca is just about the only crop that a South American farmer can grow that will earn him hard cash from the high-rollers on Wall Street!

The more the DEA cracks down on the drug trade, the more the price rises, and the more attractive it becomes to grow and smuggle it. More money is brought in for protecting the business, which means more corruption, more weapons, more violence, all of which are costs of doing business for the narcos. The amount of money involved makes the GDP of many Latin American countries look like petty cash, which means that the narcos often can buy the police, the military, and even the presidency. With control over nations they can change international policy as well, and use the tools of sovereign states to challenge the national security of the USA. They have set up terrorist training camps, and they have most likely infiltrated terrorists into the United States already. All with money that American drug users willingly have given to them in exchange for chemicals that do damage to their brains. Incredible but true.

If cracking down on supply does not work, then what? It’s elementary, my dear Watson. It’s already been implemented in Sweden, for instance: All one has to do to kill a business is to remove the demand. In this case it’s all about treating the drug addicts so that they get over their addiction. Once their addiction is gone they will not buy drugs, and the cartels will eventually go bankrupt for lack of income. It’s so simple in theory, and it has succeeded in Sweden, so why hasn’t the U.S. implemented this policy?

Good question. Maybe it’s because of lobbyists who prefer solutions that generate violence without end, so that their clients can continue to sell weapons for ever and ever? Maybe it’s because the treatment has to be paid for by someone, and obviously the drug addicts are not going to want the treatment, much less want to pay for it. In Sweden health care is universal, paid for by taxes, so it makes economical sense for the insurer (the State) to treat a drug addict for his addiction now, at a lower cost, than have to treat him in the future for probably more serious things, plus have to spend large amounts on policing, legal system, prisons, and losses to crime, if he is not treated. Let me rephrase that.

In Sweden the cost of treatment and the cost of non-treatment are absorbed by the same entity, the State, which makes the cost-benefit of treatment attractive. In the U.S. the cost of treatment and the cost of non-treatment are absorbed by different entities, so there is no clear incentive for prevention. However, there may be no other choice left.

With floods of immigrants coming to the U.S. fleeing rampant drug violence in Latin America, with Venezuela at the threshold of becoming a failed state and risking a humanitarian catastrophe, with between a half dozen and a dozen democracies in Latin America having been turned into dictatorships by narcos, with infiltration of all the worst enemies of the U.S. in Latin America through these nations, with the risk of terrorism and nuclear proliferation in drug dictatorships, the national security threat is so great that I am postulating that compulsory treatment of drug addicts might be a matter of U.S. national security.

The Venezuelan resistance movement

The other day Reuters wrote an article called “Venezuelan ‘Resistance’ Movement Struggles to Bruise Maduro” (in Spanish here). Since they quoted me at the end I would like to clarify that their description of the resistance movement does not agree with how I see it. This is what they quoted me as saying:

Ulf Erlingsson, a Swede and former aid worker, helped found the [Operación Libertad Venezuela (‘Operation Freedom Venezuela‘)] web site four years ago after becoming convinced Venezuela was a nefarious influence.
“This is a criminal regime run by a foreign power, Cuba,” he told Reuters. “So there is nothing illegal in fighting them.”

The problem with this is that I all the time am talking about nonviolent action, as it has been described by Dr. Gene Sharp (@GeneSharpaei) of the Albert Einstein Institution, while Reuters in their text describe only a minority part of the resistance, the so-called ‘guarimberos’, those who block streets as a form of protest.

When we created Operación Libertad Venezuela (OLV) as a project for liberation of Venezuela from Cuba, the term “resistance” was chosen since it aptly reflects the fact that it is a foreign invasion (albeit implemented through deceit, blackmail, corruption, and assassinations, not through military might).

The nonviolent strategy of struggle was chosen since it was deemed the most likely to yield the desired victory. The strategy is based on undermining the power of the enemy, not confronting him openly. The resistance has won significant victories in these four years, by converting several views which used to be dismissed as “conspiracy theories” into generally accepted “truths”, thus defeating the state propaganda lie:

1. The revelation that Cuba is in a position of control over Venezuela effectively occupying the nation

2. The destruction of the propaganda lie that there is no election fraud in Venezuela

3. The revelation that Venezuela is an electoral dictatorship (i.e., the opposition yields to the fraud rather than fight to claim their victories)

All these are victories by the resistance. The first one in the list was won through a street occupation outside the Cuban embassy in Caracas, after Chávez had died in Cuba but the regime still insisted that he was alive, and forged his name on laws. The occupation forced the regime to stage the “return” of Chávez, and the continued pressure forced them to admit that Chávez was dead, and to hold elections on April 14, 2013.

Through the live election coverage by OLV on April 14th, organized by Ana Diaz (former number two in the Venezuelan election authority CNE, and spokesperson for OLV), the resistance was able to expose the election fraud (point 2 in the list above) and force the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles to not admit defeat (he had admitted defeat in the previous election where there also was fraud). This caused the people to take to the streets en masse, which the regime met with violence.

After 2 days Capriles told people to go home, and that he would fight the battle in court, where he duly lost and with that, let the whole thing run out in the sand.

When the resistance (which is comprised of many groups and individuals, all fighting for the same objective) convened a global day of demanding the truth on June 2, 2013, the opposition coalition MUD surreptitiously sabotaged the action, even though it was made to defend the victory of their candidate.

When a day of protests was convened inside Venezuela September 14 on the 5-month day of the election, called “Día de Furia” (Day of Fury, a name I proposed since it hints to the inevitability of justice), the MUD again sabotaged by sending out SMS messages to all their activists prohibiting them from either participating or forwarding the information about the protest. Albeit this time several persons forwarded the message to OLV, and OLV’s other spokesperson, singer and actress Maria Conchita Alonso, denounced this action proof in hand on a live TV show in Miami, the Bayly show. Myself I confronted a Venezuelan political consultant who said, when I kept insisting on an answer, that “of course they would do that”.

The Venezuelan opposition is clearly playing hand in hand with the dictatorship, which is why the resistance is the only possible road to liberation of the country. Not all in the opposition coalition are on the bandwagon, though; those who are presently in jail are most certainly not. It is not clear to me why those who disagree with the way MUD is run don’t leave MUD and set up camp separately. A friend of mine, political consultant Eric Ekvall (RIP) even suggested to Maria Corina Machado that she ought to leave MUD, but she has not done so. I know what her reply was but I am presuming it was said in confidence so I won’t repeat it, let me just say that I believe she has the best intentions and is effectively part of that broad informal coalition that I consider the “resistance”. And in my personal opinion so are her fellow politicians in MUD Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma, both political prisoners at present.

So to sum up, the “resistance” in Venezuela to me is a broad coalition and includes millions of people, but only a tiny minority are openly exposing their participation. This is for self-preservation; the punishment from the state for being a dissenter is very severe. It would take a separate article just to start writing about that, let me just say that the majority of those in the visible core of the resistance have been victims of oppression for over a decade. Also, in the course of writing the Reuters article a number of the resistance members were murdered, but their families later denied that they were in the resistance, because they were threatened to be murdered they too if they said as much (in fact, one of them was murdered shortly before a planned interview with the Reuters reporter for the purpose of this article). The situation in Venezuela is very hard, and the Reuters article does not describe this reality in an unbiased way. Media who operate inside Venezuela (like Reuters) seem to have a very hard time to free themselves from the influence of the regime propaganda, unfortunately.