Category Archives: English

Posts in English or with significant English parts

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.

I accuse the Venezuelan regime of Crimes Against Humanity

I accuse the Venezuelan dictatorship under Nicolás Maduro of Crimes Against Humanity, including the crimes of murder, persecution, and torture of dissidents. To substantiate the accusation I’ve made this video with clips from two sources: Words spoken by Roy Chaderton, the Venezuelan ambassador to the OAS, expressing hatred for dissidents (he uses the word “squalid” as is customary by the regime), talking about shooting the dissidents in the head, and saying that the dissidents’ heads are empty. The second video (actually two from different angles) show how regime thugs (so-called “colectivos”) execute a young unidentified man by shooting him in the head, possibly a dissident (this was posted on Feb 25, at a time when about a dozen dissidents were executed by being shot in the head by the police, national guard, and ‘colectivos’). The video is extremely graphic as it shows the head being blown off.

Prima facie evidence of Crimes Against Humanity

For the record, I use the word “dissident” here as a neutral term for those who express dissent with the regime. They are, however, of two different kinds: The “opposition,” who still believes that the only way to get out from under this criminal regime that controls all aspects of the state and who has repeated ad nauseam that they will “never” cede power to the opposition, is by defeating them in elections, even though they are aware that the elections are completely fraudulent. And secondly, the “resistance,” who reject the idea of participating in elections that are un-winnable, against a tyranny that openly says it would rather start a civil war than cede power, and instead advocate for the use of the method of non-violent resistance as the best strategy for defeating this rule of horror. The dozen or so ‘dissidents’ who have been murdered by head-shots the last few weeks have been from the resistance, not from the opposition. For Spanish-speakers this is a very enlightening debate between the resistance and the opposition, recorded March 10: Debate Resistencia – Oposición.

SOUNDCLOUD HELPS DICTATORSHIP

A dictatorship uploaded a file to SoundCloud obtained by unconstitutionally wiretapping a phone. The person had to go into hiding and that means, of course, not using internet or any other means of electronic communication, since anything of that nature can be used for tracking by said dictatorship. So I reported the file to SoundCloud and told them about the situation. This is their reply: “As you are getting in touch on behalf of another person, please ask them to contact us directly so that we can help ASAP.” I replied and repeated that it is impossible for the person in question to get in touch with them due to being in hiding from the perpetrators of the recording. No reply.

Holodomor in Venezuela?

Are we facing a Holodomor in Venezuela, genocide by hunger? The food supply is now critical, many are simply unable to find any food whatsoever. However, the regime is not addressing this situation by providing food. Rather, they are militarizing the country, including the shops. Many stores are now completely empty (see video at end). We have seen in recent days lines to grocery stores forming the evening before, and some claim to have stood days in line just to get in, only to find empty shelves. Yesterday a video came out of how a group of young men were arrested within seconds for protesting at a food line, and an elderly man was taken into custody for just wearing a sign with government-critical words.

The behavior of Maduro, a puppet of Castro, suggests that the food shortage is intentional. Everything indicates that they intend to repeat the method that Stalin used in Ukraine to subdue their rebellion in the early 1930’s: Starve them to death.

The regime’s only response so far has been to increase the brutality in the repression against those who protest against the lack of food. Yesterday it was leaked that the military commander of Maduro (and thus Castro), Padrino Lopez, allegedly has given orders to not allow any protest at the food lines, but to disappear those who protest in any way, shape or form against the regime.

Operación Libertad Venezuela (OLV) is making a poll on Facebook right now, and the preliminary results are that about one in three at present is hungry due to the food shortage, and says that there is no food to be found where they live. Almost all the respondents say that they have food for at least 2 days in the house, but that it is hard or impossible to find food to buy.

A new age of fundamentalism

Before each of the two world wars, there seems to have been an age of fundamentalism. Today, again, we seem to have entered into an age of fundamentalism: The self-proclaimed “islamic” state that is anything but; the Maduro puppet regime in Venezuela that is willfully ignoring reality; Putin’s conquest by military force of parts of Ukraine and sticking to his guns as the proverbial ship is sinking; Christian fundamentalism in USA; Moslem in Pakistan and elsewhere; Jewish in Israel; and so on. Hardened positions, and in some of these cases an outright refusal to accept progress.

The core of fundamentalism is this ideological refusal to embrace progress. It is clear that the opposite of “progressive” is “fundamentalist”. The strategy of the fundamentalists is to portray the progressive as a small minority. In reality, of course, all except the fundamentalists themselves are progressive, because it is in the very nature of man to seek progress.

Why does fundamentalism appear? I don’t have the answer, but I would start looking into the process of progress. Some people are afraid of change, notably those with certain personalities, I will not say “disorder” but just certain types of personalities. They hold on to what they see as status quo, and insist that others do the same, or they don’t feel comfortable. Perhaps that is the origin, I don’t know, I’m just speculating now.

What can we do to prevent fundamentalism from getting destructive again, or even more destructive? This is an even better question that I have even less of an answer to, since it depends on the answer to the previous question. All I can say is that it is crucial to understand fundamentalism and to deal with it in an appropriate manner. In time.

Stop the political ebola

The present world order is based on the sovereignty and equality of states. This means that state A deals with state B regardless of how they deal with their citizens, because that is their sovereign prerogative. The only exception is if they start war or commit crimes against humanity. However, if they want to be a brutal dictatorship in which the leaders take all resources and leave the people in misery, that is their business. Why should we care?

There are several reasons to care. First, it affects us economically. Second, it’s a moral problem. But most importantly, it has turned out to be a huge security problem.

After the end of the Cold War, a new feature in global relations has appeared: The franchise of quisling regimes that come to power through outside help, election fraud either through corruption, illegal campaign contributions, or outright ballot stuffing, vote rigging, or electronic election fraud. Once in power they corrupt the system to perpetuate themselves in power. If necessary they change the constitution to allow their own reelection. The intelligence to enable this in Latin America comes from Cuba, and the military muscle comes from Iran and Russia, with a little help from Belarus. The economic muscle comes from China.

Until now this disease has been limited to Latin America, a continent that USA and Europe ignores at their own peril. However, now this “political ebola” has reached Spain. A populist party that is a carbon copy of the one in Venezuela is raising the possibility that the virus could spread to a new continent. As a side effect, these “zombie democracies” are now in majority in the Organization of American States, and have effectively destroyed that “immune system” of American democracy.

How is this possible? It’s possible because states deal with states, without much concern for the nature of that state. It’s as if the world body doesn’t have an immune system that detects the virus, and allows it in without concern for the DNA inside the virus. How could a body do this differently? Simply by analyzing the DNA and treating the virus differently depending on its DNA.

How does this translate to international relations? We could imagine the outside of the virus as the paraphernalia of a foreign state, while the DNA of that state corresponds to its Democracy, Non-interference, and Accountability (DNA). A country with bad DNA should be isolated. This means isolating first and foremost Cuba and Russia, because they are not democracies, they have no accountability, and they are interfering with other countries, establishing quisling regimes in them.

This network of quisling regimes, whose leaders sold his soul to the devil, electoral dictatorships that depend on the Cuban security service G-2 for their hold on power, includes Bolivarian Venezuela under Hugo Chávez, Ecuador under Rafael Correa, Bolivia under Evo Morales, Nicaragua under Daniel Ortega, Argentina under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and probably by now also Brazil under Dilma Roussef. Several other countries are possibly in the same category, but it’s not an easy thing to determine without a close examination. What is for sure is that most countries in Latin America are in immediate, yes immediate risk of falling into the zombie democracy category. And now also Spain.

This zombie democracy franchise is not new in itself. It was the dominating feature of European politics in the 1930’s. It’s not about socialism or fascism, it’s not about right or left; it’s about right and wrong, about democracy or dictatorship. Populism is anti-democratic, and it paints itself in any color as long as it is a popular color at that time and place. If the impopular government was leftist, the populist wave becomes fascist. If the impopular government was rightist, the populist wave becomes communist. But there is no difference between them, as evidenced by the fact that both Mussolini and Hitler started on the left and finished on the right.

What can the world do?

The infected nations should be isolated, like one isolates a patient sick in ebola. The concern should be with the people of foreign nations, not with their governments. There has to be a test: Does the government represent the people? If it doesn’t, treat them like Pariah.

Today the test is if the government is “legitimate”. What we need to do is to redefine what “legitimate” means. We also need to vigorously investigate the legitimacy of the democratic process in other countries. Those nations that deny access for such scrutiny should automatically be labeled undemocratic, and be treated as Pariah.

The most important practical effects of being an international Pariah shall be the requirement of visa for any visit to a democracy, and strict supervision of economical transactions to prevent the purchase of quisling candidates. This political ebola must be stopped, while there are still democracies around who can do it. This new world order places people first, not governments.