Category Archives: Analysis

Facts, background, research

Chávez y su guerra por sobrevivir

El presidente de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, ha tomado algunas posiciones abiertas y encubiertas últimamente que puede haber sorprendido a muchos, como el apoyo a Gaddafi en Libia, y reiniciar la insurrección en Honduras. Sin embargo, pensando un poco más adelante en este juego de ajedrez, su estrategia se hace evidente. Él simplemente está tratando de posicionarse para sofocar un levantamiento popular que se está gestando en Venezuela. Está usando un arsenal de herramientas para hacer esto, desde romper la cadena de revoluciones triunfantes en el mundo árabe, hasta socavar la paz y la seguridad en Honduras.

En diciembre del 2010 en Venezuela hubo fuertes demostraciones anti-gobierno, tanto en provincia como en la capital. Hugo Chávez desplegó las fuerzas de seguridad en contra de ellos ridiculizándolos como irrelevantes y totalmente incapaces de detener su proyecto socialista. Ni siquiera el hecho de que la mayoría de los votantes rechazaron sus políticas lo disuadió. Sus aliados en la nueva Asamblea Nacional que tomo posesión el 5 de enero lo único que demostraron fue contención hacia los que no estaban de acuerdo con ellos, faltándole el respeto a los principios de conducta que son comunes a todos los parlamentos democráticos. El 23 de enero Chávez dijo en un mitin del partido oficialista en las afueras del palacio presidencial que nada detendría la revolución socialista, mientras que los medios de comunicación descartaron como insignificante a la gran concentración al otro lado de la ciudad.

Sin embargo, el 25 de enero, comenzó el levantamiento en Egipto. Túnez pudo ser visto como un evento solitario, pero ahora probaba ser contagioso. La gente también hablaba sobre Libia. Chávez seguramente le avisó a su amigo, como él lo llama, Moammar Gaddafi, sobre cómo él había detenido exitosamente un levantamiento similar tiempo atrás, el 11 de abril, 2002. En Venezuela, esto se conoce como Plan Ávila. Consiste en disparar proyectiles verdaderos a una demostración pacífica. Hugo Chávez tenía al menos 57 personas armadas posicionadas en una emboscada, y en la tarde mataron 19 personas e hirieron 150. Había francotiradores que podían acertar disparos a la cabeza desde techos de edificios, y personal con pistolas disparando sin blanco fijo desde un puente sobre la calle. La propaganda de Chávez luego atribuyó que la masacre había sido orquestada por la oposición para obligarlo a renunciar. No está claro si él renunció voluntariamente o fue forzado a hacerlo, pero luego fue ayudado y fue entonces cuando declaró que había sido un golpe de estado –pasando por alto su propia culpa en la masacre. Mientras se llevaba a cabo la masacre, Chavez estaba “en vivo” por todos los canales de TV después de haberles ordenado transmitir su alocución (la famosa cadena). Sin embargo, varios de los canales dividieron sus pantallas, con Chavez declarando que todo estaba en calma en la mitad de la pantalla, y con imágenes en vivo del baño de sangre fuera del palacio presidencial en la otra mitad.

Uno pudiese sospechar que Chávez le avisó a su amigo en Libia que el Plan Ávila funciona, siempre y cuando se asegure de que no hay medios de comunicación presentes. Tal cual hizo Gaddafi, mientras él y sus esbirros le disparaban a una multitud desarmada con granadas explosivas anti-aéreas. Usando cañones antiaéreos que, según una fuente del gobierno de Chávez que fue citado anónimamente en internet, les fueron entregadas a Libia por Venezuela en el presente mes (Marzo, 2011).

Sin embargo, así como Chávez falló en el 2002, también lo hizo Gaddafi en el 2011. Los medios de comunicación social se convirtieron en su talón de Aquiles. Las imágenes se regaron por todo el mundo y el levantamiento de Libia se intensificó.

Mientras, el éxito de las revoluciones pacíficas en Túnez y especialmente en Egipto le han dado nueva esperanza a los disidentes de Venezuela y Cuba. El régimen de Castro está tan preocupado que salieron en TV acusando a USA de instigar un levantamiento via medios de comunicación social, algo que por supuesto solo contribuyó a que la gente de la Isla este más pendiente de esto. En Venezuela, la Operación Libertad comenzó como una huelga de hambre liderizada por los estudiantes para exigir la liberación de los presos políticos. Al principio muchos dudaban que ellos tuviesen éxito, pero después de varias semanas se las arreglaron para obtener atención del gobierno y ahora han conseguido concesiones significativas y varios liberados de muy alto perfil.

Aunque la semana pasada hubo una reacción violenta de retroceso. Un juez había ordenado la liberación de Carlos Chancellor, pero fue detenido en la puerta con la orden de otro juez, y los activistas y medios que esperaban afuera fueron golpeados y arrestados. Esto llevó a llamadas de ayuda via Twitter y Facebook. En el lapso de una hora los activistas fueron liberados y dentro de las siguientes 12 horas el prisionero fue liberado, esta vez de verdad. Obviamente el régimen está hilando muy cuidadosamente. El cambio, comparado al tiempo previo a la revolución tunicina es asombroso.

¿Significa esto que Chávez se ha vuelto demócrata? No. Desde hace dos semanas ha habido una nueva ola de protestas callejeras, vías obstruidas y actividades anárquicas generalizadas por la que se hace llamar resistencia en Honduras (el FNRP). Hay una razón muy fuerte para creer que Chávez los financia y que estas acciones son cometidas bajo sus órdenes. ¿Que gana él con esto?

Pienso que él necesita algo para distraer. Lo que más quiere es provocar la reacción del gobierno de Porfirio Lobo a la que sus medios de comunicación pueden voltear como violencia de la derecha en contra del pueblo (el ministro de información de Chávez también es el director de TeleSur). El necesita algunas “noticias” que refuercen el prejuicio de que América Latina está llena de militares golpistas y dictadores en potencia a quienes no les importa el pueblo. Si él se las puede arreglar para hacer rodar esa historia, podría entonces justificar la toma de medidas enérgicas en casa culpando a los disidentes de ser aliados de los “golpistas” en Honduras. Esta es la estrategia de su juego.

Fallaría, por supuesto, porque Chávez ha perdido su credibilidad. Lo mismo que TeleSur, después de darle soporte a Gaddafi. Además, Honduras entiende el mapa del juego. Ellos entienden que el enemigo real no es FNRP ni el sindicato de maestros, sino Hugo Chávez y Fidel Castro. Ellos saben que la mejor defensa es el ataque, y el mejor ataque es que salga LA VERDAD y colocarla en Internet y las redes sociales. Ellos están conscientes de los vastos recursos que Castro y Chávez gastan en personal pagado para editar sitios donde la gente colabora con los escritos, como Wikipedia, para promover su versión de la historia (ej., llamando a la masacre del 2002 “golpe de estado”). Todos los demócratas de América Latina están despertando gradualmente a la realidad que la amenaza Trotskyiana de Cuba debe ser enfrentada trabajando e interactuando en las redes de comunicación social, y colaborando mas allá de nuestras fronteras, tal cual lo hacen los comunistas. Está sucediendo mientras usted lee esto.

Chávez’s War of Survival

Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez has taken some overt and covert positions lately that may have surprised many, such as supporting Gaddafi in Libya, and restarting the insurrection in Honduras. Yet, by thinking a few moves ahead in the game of chess his strategy becomes apparent. He is simply trying to position himself to quell a popular uprising that is brewing within Venezuela, and he is using an array of tools to do this, from breaking the chain of successful revolutions in the Arab world, to undermining peace and security in Honduras.

In December of 2010 there were strong anti-government demonstrations in Venezuela, both on the country-side and in the capital. Hugo Chávez deployed the security forces against them and ridiculed them as being irrelevant and totally unable to stop his socialist project. Not even the fact that a majority of the voters had rejected his policy deterred him. His allies in the new congress that took office on January 5th showed nothing but open contempt at those disagreeing with them, and disregarded the principles of conduct that are commonplace in democratic parliaments. On January 23rd Chávez said in a party rally outside the presidential palace that nothing would stop the socialist revolution, while the media dismissed as insignificant the large opposition rally in the other end of town.

However, on January 25th the uprising in Egypt started. Tunisia could be seen as an isolated event, but now it proved to be contagious. People talked about Libya, too. Chávez surely advised his friend, as he calls him, Moammar Gaddafi, how he had successfully stopped a similar uprising back on April 11, 2002. In Venezuela it is known as Plan Avila. It consists of shooting with live ammo into the peaceful demonstration. Hugo Chávez had at least 57 armed persons positioned in an ambush, and in the afternoon they killed 19 persons and injured some 150. There were both snipers who could deliver head shots from roof tops, and staffers with pistols shooting without aiming from a bridge over the street. Chávez’s propaganda later claimed that this massacre had been orchestrated by the opposition in order to make him resign. It is not clear whether he actually resigned voluntarily or was forced to, but later he was helped to return and then he declared that it had been a coup d’état – while ignoring his own culpability in the massacre. While the massacre took place Chávez was on live TV on all channels, after having ordered them to broadcast his speech (a so-called cadena). However, several of the channels went into a split-screen, with Chávez declaring that all is calm on half the screen, and live images of the bloodbath outside the presidential palace on the other half.

One may suspect that Chávez advised his friend in Libya that Plan Avila works, just as long as he makes sure there is no media present. Which is just what Gaddafi did, as he had his henchmen fire into the unarmed crowd with exploding anti-aircraft grenades. Using guns that, according to a source in Chávez’s government that was quoted anonymously online, were delivered from Venezuela to Libya in the present month (March of 2011).

However, just like Chávez failed in 2002, so did Gaddafi fail in 2011. Social media became his Achilles heel. The images spread over the world and the uprising in Libya intensified.

Meanwhile, the success of the peaceful revolutions in Tunisia and especially Egypt had given new hope to the dissidents in both Venezuela and Cuba. The Castro regime is so concerned that they went out on TV and accused the U.S. of instigating a popular uprising via social media, something that of course just contributed to making more people on the island aware of it. In Venezuela, the Operacion Libertad started as a student-led hunger-strike to demand the release of political prisoners. At first many doubted that they could succeed, but after several weeks they managed to get attention from the government and have now managed to get significant concessions and several high-profile releases.

Last week there was a backlash, though. A judge had ordered the release of Carlos Chancellor, but at the door he was stopped on the order of another judge, and the activists and media waiting outside were beaten and arrested. This let to calls for help via Twitter and Facebook. Within an hour the activists were released again, and within 12 hours the prisoner was released, for real. Obviously the regime is threading very carefully. The change compared to pre-Tunisian revolution is staggering.

Does this mean that Chávez has become democratic? No. Since 2 weeks back there has been a new wave of street protests, road blocks, and general anarchist activities by the so-called resistance in Honduras. There is strong reason to believe that Chávez finances them, and that this action was commenced on his orders. What does he gain by this?

My take is that he needs a distraction. What he wants most of all is to provoke some reaction from the government of Porfirio Lobo that his media can spin into it being right-wing violence against the people (his minister of information is the head of TeleSur). He needs some “news” that enforces the prejudice that Latin America is full of military golpistas and wannabe dictators who don’t care about the people. If he can manage to get such a story running, then he can justify a crackdown at home by blaming the dissidents of being allied with the “golpistas” in Honduras. That is his game plan.

It will of course fail because Chávez has lost his credibility. And so has TeleSur, after backing Gaddafi. Plus Honduras understands the lay of the land. They understand that the real enemy is not FNRP of the teacher’s union, but Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro. They know that attack is the best defense, and the best attack is to get the TRUTH out on the internet and in social media. They are aware of the vast resources that Castro and Chávez spend in having paid staff editing collaborative sites such as Wikipedia, to promote their version of history (i.e., calling the 2002 massacre a “coup d’état”). All of democratic Latin America is gradually waking up to the reality that the Trotskyist threat from Cuba has to be fought by networking in social media, and collaborating across borders just like the communists do. It is happening as you read this.

Created 14:17, last updated 16:52.

Long-standing ties Gaddafi – Chávez?

After Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez’s defense of “his friend” Gaddafi yesterday, it may be worth considering just how long and deep their friendship is. Since the 1970’s there was a strategy among the revolutionary left in Venezuela to infiltrate the armed forces as a way to power. On January 21, 1991, the UN Security Council condemned Libya for its part in the bombing of the airplane over Lockerbie in Scotland. On February 27, 1991, Colonel Chávez led an unsuccessful coup attempt in Venezuela. On March 31, 1991, the UN Security Council passed an arms embargo and travel ban on Libya, under the chairmanship of Venezuela’s ambassador to the UN, Diego Arria.

The resolution specifically called for Libya to stop supporting terrorism, which Gaddafi refused until 2001. Returning to Venezuela, Chávez was sworn in as democratically elected president in 1999.

Both Libya and Venezuela are oil-producing nations which, under Gaddafi and Chávez respectively, have been very generous in donating money to groups and governments that are solidly anti-USA. This has been more important for them than the well-being of their own people. Sure, Chávez has thrown some crumbles to the poor, to keep up a base of support, which has not been very expensive to buy considering the poverty that existed (and let this be a warning to other democracies: Having a big social gap is a security threat!). But the big money has gone abroad, and into Chávez’s own pockets.

It is not far-fetched to suspect that Gaddafi was helping the terrorist revolutionaries in Venezuela. Nor is it far-fetched to suspect that he in some way encouraged Chávez’s military coup d’état attempt in 1992. If he did, then of course Hugo Chávez would be reluctant to turn against him in this situation. It would, in my opinion, explain his words, and the way he has used his propaganda-TV-channel TeleSur, which has traveled around in Libya in Venezuelan diplomatic cars during this conflict, spreading pro-Gaddafi propaganda in Latin America.

Analysis of Egypt

Yesterday Mubarak promised to not run in the September elections, thus creating the chance for an orderly transition to democracy, with time for election campaigning and such things that are necessary. Unfortunately ElBaradei went out in public and rejected that offer. It was a mistake of huge proportions.

The alternatives for Egypt are (1) continued dictatorship under Mubarak, (2) a new dictatorship probably of the Islam extremist kind, and (3) democracy. It seems the military are in favor of alternative 3. However, they realize that if the dice are thrown up in the air now, they may well land on alternative 2 instead. Every statesman in the world realizes that. Does ElBaradei know something outsiders don’t, or did he commit a big political blunder?

Because of ElBaradei, at least to a significant extent, people stayed on the streets. Today the thug crackdown on the demonstrators started. It is the same method used by Chávez to great effect; send in civilian-dressed security personnel to use violence against the demonstrators anonymously. We must assume that they are police in civilian clothes. When Chávez did that in April 2002 he forgot to tell all the uniformed personnel, so some of them ended up shooting and killing some of the thugs, for which they are now serving 30 years in jail (they are thus the first political prisoners of Venezuela of the present dictatorship).

The military in Egypt surely know this. If they defend the civilians and leave Mubarak in power, they go to jail. They would thus have to depose Mubarak in order to defend the civilians. But if they do that, they also know, from Honduras 2009, that they will be called “golpistas” and not recognized by the global community. It was a dragon-seed for the UNGA to label the deposing of Zelaya a coup d’État, as I wrote in February 2010 and again in May 2010.

The US and the EU should immediately lift the phone, call the military in Egypt and tell them, “we promise to recognize the interim government, as long as it is civilian and free elections are held before the end of the year, even if Mubarak is removed by the military, provided that you stop the bloodbath in Cairo.” The precedent from Honduras has to be undone before it causes more damage.

¿Porqué difamar a Peña Esclusa en Italiano?

Existe solo una explicación creíble a la pregunta porqué Alejandro Peña Esclusa quede difamado solo en Wikipedia en italiano, y no en español o inglés, por ejemplo: Para influir a la iglesia Católica. Lógicamente, esto significa que Chávez y su consejeros en el gobierno Cubano considera el Vaticano un adversario importante. ¿Y porqué no? Es la única organización con una presencia en todo el país, el único que puede difundir la verdad en toda Venezuela cuando los medios de comunicación han sido censurados.

Chávez es amigo de Putin en Rusia, y Putin es amigo de Berlusconi en Italia. Los tres son corruptos en escala astronómica, los tres son obsesionados en controlar el mensaje en los medios. Los tres tienen sus propios imperios de media para difundir su propaganda.

Wikipedia tiene que ser un peligro para ellos. Sin embargo, cada uno puede editarlo, los subordinados de los corruptos también. Es fácil emplear un ejercito de usuarios, o mejor aun, indoctrinarles para hacerlo sin pago. “Idiotas útiles” como les llamaban los bolcheviques.

Afortunadamente, el Cardenal Urosa Savino en Venezuela no se deja engañar. Sin embargo, como vimos en Honduras, el Papa en Roma no necesariamente escucha a su propio gente en el país. Aunque el Cardenal dijo claramente que no fue un golpe de Estado en Honduras junio 28, 2009, pero un destitución legal de un presidente (por haber tratado de derrocar la Constitución), el Papa no repitió esa verdad.

Queda claro que la difamación de Alejandro Peña Esclusa en Wikipedia en italiano se hace con el mismo propósito: Para hacer el Vaticano perder la confianza en su propio Cardenal en Venezuela. Espero que el Papa sea mas sabio que de caer en esas mentiras, y mas bien defiende a los derechos de Peña Esclusa de no ser difamado, y lo toma como ejemplo de la importancia de tener mucho cuidado en los argumentos y en como trataremos a los demás.

Bondeuppror i Venezuela sprider sig

Finansierat av oljeinkomster driver Venezuelas president Hugo Chávez en vänsterpopulistik politik, med USA som yttre fiende, och med Kuba, Iran och Ryssland som axelmakter. Inrikespolitiskt är hans retorik den vanliga marxistiska, med hatiska utfall mot kapitalister och lantägare, och hans politik är att gradvis strypa yttrandefrihet, demokrati, mänskliga rättigheter, och att konfiskera tillgångar succesivt så att befolkningen inte provoceras att göra signifikant motstånd. Men denna gång kanske han gått för hårt och fort fram: Den snabbast stigande hashtagen på twitter i Venezuela var på morgonen “statskupp” (#GolpeEstadoVE), syftande på att Chávez genomför en de facto statskupp av samma slag som Adolf Hitler gjorde våren 1933.

Vattenkanon mot demonstranter, Caracas, Lilljulafton 2010
Vattenkanon mot demonstranter, Caracas, Lilljulafton 2010

Sedan flera år har det pågått konfiskering av företag i Venezuela. I åtminstone ett år har konfiskeringarna också omfattat bondgårdar. De konfiskerade gårdarna har ofta lämnats i träda efter att boskapen slaktats. I fredags slog jordbruksverket, understödda av gendarmer och militär, till mot 47 bondgårdar söder om Maracaibosjön, i delstaten Zulia.

Chávez kallar det expropriering, men alla vet att det är ren och skär konfiskation. I TV-tal påstår han att bönderna inte äger marken, att de inte brukar den, att de är slavdrivare, samt att förmännen i den trakten fortfarande har som tradition att ta oskulden från arbetarnas döttrar. Kanske det finns någon som tror honom, men de har nog inte tillgång till internet och twitter.

Från av gårdarna, El Peonío, en mjölkgård med tiotusentals hektar mark, tusentals kor, hundratals anställda, och en 94-årig ägare vid namn Jesús Meleán, blev militären dock handgripligen utkastade. Detta blev startskottet för ett spontant bondeuppror.

Vägar blockerades och budkaveln gick, med början i torsdags. Informationen spred sig som en löpeld på twitter, men i media var det tyst. Bondeorganisationer höll möten och beslutade sig för att gå i strid för alla de konfiskerade gårdarna. Andra grupper i delstatshuvudstaden Maracaibo höll ett stormöte i söndags och bildade Zulias Demokratifront, för att försvara lag och rätt mot staten. TV sände från dessa möten, men Chávez hejdukar såg till att blockera alla viktiga delar med meddelanden, typ Anslagstavlan. Detta drabbade till exempel delstatens guvernör, när han i sitt tal i hårda ordalag kritiserade Chávez politik.

Tack var twitter, och andra sociala media på internet, spred sig dock budet om ett folkligt motstånd fort. Folk tog till gatorna, och på måndagsnatten genomfördes en kastrullbankning. Idén är samma som användes i Iran vid revolutionen mot shahen: att folk skall (anonymt) kunna avgöra hur pass starkt motståndet mot regimen egentligen är. I många städer stod folk till och med på gatan och bankade, i andra, mindre, orter var det ännu tyst. Internet har sina begränsningar i ett fattigt land.

Själv har jag följt utvecklingen på twitter kontinuerligt sedan den 16 december, då hashtagen #SOSinternetVE blev den ledande i världen. I flera dagar stod den 94-årige Jesús Meleán som en symbol. Genom att säga till militärerna som kommit för att ta hans gård att det finge bli “över hans döda kropp” väckte han en moståndsanda hos de modlösa.

Detta mod var på väg att förbytas i förtvivlan då Meleán gick med på att sälja gården (om än till ett hutlöst pris) till Chávez hejdukar i måndags. Uppgivenheten spreds på twitter, “alla har ett pris”. Det var naturligtvis Chávez avsikt; genom att kompromettera symbolen uppnådde han det han aldrig hade kunnat uppnå med att fängsla eller köra över honom. Men segern blev kortvarig.

Fler och fler tweets började tala om att Meleán och hans gård var inte det striden handlade om. Då Chávez också erbjöd att återlämna 16 gårdar höll jordbruksrörelsen fast vid att samtliga 47 skulle återlämnas, annars fortsatte de stridsåtgärderna.

Under tiden kom det nya uppgifter från kongressen om nya lagar som antogs dagligen med många inskränkningar av friheter och rättigheter. Den pågående upprorsandan omformades. Det började smyga sin in antydningar om att man måste gå längre än till bara protest.

Under onsdagen började kvittrandet allt mer handla om regimskifte, att Chávez måste ut. På eftermiddagen släppte folk texter med uppmaning till civil olydnad och organisering, detaljerade planer, instruktioner, och beräkningar att det behövs 500.000 man för att få erforderlig effekt.

Bland de rykten som florerat, och vars tillförlitlighet jag naturligtvis inte kan kontrollera, kan nämnas att bönderna vars gårdar konfiskerats identifierat 30 medlemmar av FARC bland statens utsända. FARC är en i Sverige terroriststämplad knarkgerilla som verkar i Colombia, men som har en fristad på den venezolanska sidan gränsen (där aktionerna skedde).

Vidare nämndes i ett antal tweets att militärerna i aktionen stod under kubanskt befäl. Detta var, enligt kvittrarna, ett tecken på att venezolanska militären i stor utsträckning är ovillig att medverka i sådana omoraliska aktioner. Andra uppgifter förtäljer att en stor majoritet av landets militär skulle ställa sig på grundlagens sida mot Chávez om det kom till att välja. Det gäller dock inte den högste chefen för militären; han har klart sagt att han skulle inte acceptera att någon annan än Chávez blev president efter valet 2012.

Det uppror som gror vilar på principer om icke-våld, på att följa grundlagens anda (men inte de grundlagsvidriga lagarna), och har som mål att återetablera demokratin och mänskliga rättigheter i Venezuela. Personligen tror jag dock inte att Hugo Chávez avgår frivilligt; jag tror att han kommer att säga om presidentpalatset som Jesús Meleán sa om sin gård: Över min döda kropp.

Det faktum att hans agerande de senaste dagarna klassificerats som statskupp av både oppositionen och flera inflytelserika observatörer utomlands ändrar dock ekvationen. Det är inte längre någon risk att militären anklagas för statskupp om de avsätter honom; de riskerar inte den isolering som Honduras råkade ut för (där var det Chavez som varnade för en förestående militärkupp som ett sätt att förhindra den). Med tanke på detta skulle det inte förvåna mig om Chávez blir avsatt av militären inom de närmaste dagarna – men det krävs att omvärlden tydligt säger ifrån att Chávez genomför en statskupp.

Är Carl Bildt beredd att tala klarspråk? Kan Du säga “Hugo Chávez genomför just nu en juridisk statskupp av samma slag som Adolf Hitler gjorde våren 1933”?

Chavistas: They Think They Are Free

One of the best books about the Third Reich, Hitler’s Nazi Germany, is “They Thought They Were Free – the Germans 1933-45” by Milton Mayer (1955). Using some enlightening excerpts I will compare Nazi Germany to Bolivarian Venezuela; the political strategy of Adolf Hitler to that of Hugo Chávez.

A philologist who lived through Nazi Germany recollects in the book: “You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote.” These are things that the citizenry of Bolivarian Venezuela are all too familiar with. Chávez constantly repeats that it is democratic socialism, popular democracy. And voting, yes, they can vote. If they vote wrong he will let them vote again until they vote right. And if that is not possible, as in the last parliamentary elections, he uses a crisis as an excuse to create an enabling act so he doesn’t depend on the parliament. Just like Hitler.

The book continues: “What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security.” Chávez has for long governed by surprise, taken decisions himself (God knows how), and presented them on live TV, to the surprise not only of the citizenry, but also of his own cabinet.

Further: “And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.” Replace Hitler with Chávez and it is equally applicable.

The excerpt continues: “This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.” It’s chilling reading if you have followed the recent events in Venezuela.

Jumping a bit now: “The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway.” Hitler did not have TV, so he couldn’t have done what Chávez is doing: An hour-long political entertainment TV shows every Sunday, Aló Presidente. In it, the president is diverting the audience with political rhetoric of the populist kind, giving them a feeling that they are part of the government process. It is all about diverting, of course. In reality they are further and further from it, just like the Germans.

The following longer excerpt is worth reading slowly, over and over again, especially for all Venezuelans:

To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have. And everyone counts on that might.

Your ‘little men,’ your Nazi friends, were not against National Socialism in principle. Men like me, who were, are the greater offenders, not because we knew better (that would be too much to say) but because we sensed better. Pastor Niemöller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing; and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something—but then it was too late.

Resist the beginning. Consider the end. Venezuela, it is not too late! But in a week it may be…

Chávez has confiscated businesses, industries, farms, without any uprising. But the past weekend something went wrong. At the farm El Peonío the workers threw out the military and the action failed. That gave time for a popular resistance to form. Since Chávez was at the same time attacking on many fronts (to hurry up and finish his consolidation of power in the lame duck session), too many Venezuelans were angered at the same time. This is a decisive moment. This is an historic opportunity to throw out the golpista Hugo Chávez.

However, out of respect for democracy and the rule of law, it has to be done constitutionally correct. Just like Manuel Zelaya, ex president of Honduras, was deposed in a constitutional way last year, for doing much the same things as Zelaya has done in Venezuela.

So is there a constitutional way to depose Hugo? I’m not a legal scholar, but I can read, and it seems to me that a case can be made.

What would be the strategy?

Step 1 is for people to take to the streets, do the cacerolazo at night, paint slogans on cars, and similar actions. The purpose of this is not to make Chávez change his mind; he won’t. The purpose is to show those having the power to depose Chávez that they have popular support. This step is crucial! If you want Hugo gone, you MUST show up in overwhelming force on the streets!

Step 2 is to surround the government with unarmed, peaceful civil disobedience, demanding Chávez’ resignation. He won’t resign, but that’s not the point. You will win if you just don’t give up – ever. Keep this principle in mind and you will win:

Things aren’t always what they seem to be.
You just have to keep doing the right thing,
and the circumstances will change before your eyes.

Weak Chávez Retreats Tail Between Legs

The standoff at the farm El Peonío, Zulia state, Venezuela, between some farmers and Chávez military, ended with Chávez sending an envoy to offer a huge payoff. Given the rumors that the military had to be led by Cubans since the Venezuelan officers refused to use military force to confiscate the land from a farmer in their own country, and the rumors that FARC terrorists were also leading the confiscations at many of the other 46 farms, the logical conclusion is that Hugo Chávez is standing increasingly alone.

Cacerolazo in Caracas.
Cacerolazo in Caracas.

After the election loss he is using the lame duck session to introduce full-fledged totalitarian rule, another clear sign of weakness.

Persistent rumors have it that a large majority of the Venezuelan military is against him. His use of Cubans in the recent actions suggests that he really is afraid that they might disobey him. Perhaps even rebel against him.

In this situation Venezuelans have banged pots this evening (twitter hashtag #cacerolazo is leading in Venezuela now), as a signal to judge how widespread the wish for a regime-change is. The same method was used in Iran and there it lead to the overthrow of the Shah.

Chávez has clearly demonstrated that he is not willing to accept democracy. He is not respecting the results. He is using every dirty trick in the book, and some not yet in the book, to sabotage the fundamental principles of democracy, including that of free speech. He has turned himself into a full-fledged dictator – and the courageous people of Venezuela are responding to the provocation by organizing a forceful defense of democracy and the rule of law.

El Peonío was not the end of this fight. It was not even the beginning of the end. It was just the end of the beginning – as Churchill might have put it. Tomorrow new actions are planned.

Media: SvD (Swedish)

USA may benefit from Cablegate

The leaking of thousands of diplomatic cables from USA by Wikileaks is of course an embarrassment for USA of giant proportions. However, it may actually benefit the country – especially its diplomatic service.

Now that a significant number has been released, we have got a number of revelations. An example: the US ambassador to Honduras, Charles Ford, considered in May 2008 then president Manuel Zelaya a threat to democracy. This was long before the latter started attempting to overthrow the Constitution of his country. In March 2009 Zelaya issued a decree about holding a referendum on a referendum on a Constituting Constitutional Assembly. The word “constituting” implies of course that the old constitution is thrown out first, which – self-evidently – is unconstitutional, undemocratic, illegal, and treasonous.

While it is encouraging to see that the US had so much insight into what was going on, the really revealing part is what does not appear in the cable. There is no suggestion or hint that the US should interfere in any undemocratic way itself. Rather, Ford’s advice to his successor is simply to stay close to Zelaya and keep repeating what the US interests are. Not to stab him in the back, but to keep behaving like a friend, albeit without trusting that he is a friend, because Ford did not consider Zelaya a friend of the US.

Where is the “smoking gun” for the “coup d’état”? Nowhere to be found. If anything, this indicates that Zelaya was the architect of his own destiny, intent to follow his secret mantra: “Socialism or Martyrdom – as long as I get rich in the process”.

What this and many other cables show is that the authors of them are, in general, well intentioned, and that they really believe in democracy and development to mutual benefit. The authors being persons in the US diplomatic service.

The lack of indication of any conspiracy should put those theories to rest. They are not helpful. They just lead to frustration.

During the Honduran political crisis in 2009 I had the opportunity to see this from the receiving end, when I as a blogger was in close contact with the Micheletti administration, trying to get first-hand news. The Micheletti administration was, as we all know, the target of the mother of all conspiracy theories, that of a military coup supported by the US, with all its implications. I could see how this conspiracy theory was created by hostile propaganda, and then distributed around the world by well-meaning, but uncritical media, bloggers, twitters, opinion-makers, politicians, and so on.

From the cables we now know that the US diplomatic service was aware of the activities of their enemies (the Castro-Chávez-Ahmedinajad axis), but the global public opinion was not. The public opinion bought into the axis’ propaganda. The leaking of these cables thus offer an opportunity of transparency, that will enable Americans, Europeans, Australians, Indians, and citizens of all other democracies, to erase the conspiracy theories from there mental maps. The more of the cables are released, the stronger this effect, but for full effect all have to be released.

Here is the conundrum. Consider Julian Assange. He should know what the content is, and if there are traces of conspiracies. He is right now spreading a conspiracy theory that he was set up in Sweden, as a way to get to WikiLeaks. However, the facts of the matter do not support that interpretation (see earlier posts here the last week). Why does he spread a conspiracy theory to his followers, if he wants to promote transparency and the truth? It doesn’t make sense.

The simplest explanation is probably that Assange himself cannot make sense of the Swedish accusations. Genus relations in Sweden are a bit different, women are much more assertive of their right to their bodies – and especially women who have or are working with those issues. Which is the case for one of the women he had casual sex with. She has every right to do what she did. Without knowing all the facts nobody should conclude that there is a conspiracy behind this; on the face of it, it all makes perfect sense. And as Assange’s Swedish lawyer told the press, justice does work in Sweden, he is not worried about the outcome.

As I see it, Assange would have been much better off accepting to be sent to Sweden, do the interview with the prosecutor, and trust that the case will be dismissed for lack of evidence. Unless, of course, he got someone pregnant. The Swedish legislation is quite strict about fatherhood and responsibilities. Or if he is HIV-positive; to get him tested for this was the original reason why the women went to the police, but Assange has steadfastly refused. If he has nothing to hide, why doesn’t he cooperate? And if he has something to hide, it is disingenuous to spread conspiracy theories designed to bolster his image among his followers. Bad taste. Assange seems to be falling prey to the very corrupting influence of power that he claims to be fighting against.

In all of this, the US diplomatic service comes out the winner. I take my hat off to them, and hope that foreign relations is moved entirely back to the diplomatic service and away from the “empire’s” military, since they have lost a tremendous amount of goodwill after previous leaks.

War of the Nerds

We may be witnessing the beginning of a whole new form of civil war, waged in cyberspace, and thus not in any particular country. An appropriate name may be War of the Nerds, since it is being waged in front of the keyboard rather than in the field. The issue is for or against WikiLeaks. The initial battles of this war has been described by CBS News (Dec 3rd, Dec 8th). Here is a timeline.

A complicating plot in the war are the accusations of rape and sexual molestation that has been waged against Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, from two women in Sweden. This has led to conspiracy theories of links to CIA. After having read the little factual information that is out there (most of the facts are secret due to the ongoing investigation and privacy protection of the accusers), it seems to me that we are faced with a cultural misunderstanding.

WikiLeaks supporters (one may assume) have seen the accusations as so bizarre, and the prosecutor’s reaction as so out of proportion, that they have suspected a trap. Also Information Clearing House, in a piece that was an obvious Cuban propaganda article, accused one of the women of being a CIA operative.

The fact is that she is a Social Democrat, having a rather high position within an organization affiliated with the political party that ruled Sweden for much of the 20th Century, a party that is clearly anti-imperialist. She has visited Cuba and written critical of both the government of Cuba and of USA, instead expressing support for the social democrats on Cuba, a group that (according to her article) is not supported in any way by USA. She is also a feminist. To assume that she would be working for CIA reveals a tremendous ignorance about Swedish politics.

The other woman allegedly accuses Assange of having had unprotected sex with her while she was asleep. Since she was not in a position to say “no” it was not consensual, and thus it qualifies as rape in Swedish law (there are other accusations but the details are not public). Rape is a serious crime, so an international arrest warrant is not strange in this case. One does not need to resort to a conspiracy theory to understand what is happening; it is perfectly logical. Sweden and the Swedish women are acting from their laws and their frame of reference. For them it is completely irrelevant what happens in the US; US politics is not only irrelevant but unknown to them, to the extent that the very words left and right are associated to different sets of ideologies in Sweden and USA. To try to interpret their acts from a US perspective is as meaningful as the Chewbacca defense in South Park.

The simple explanation seems to be that Julian Assange behaved inappropriately in a culture he was not familiar with, and that this has nothing at all to do with WikiLeaks or the “War of the Nerds”. The threats of prosecution from the USA are not related in any way, shape, or form to the legal case in Sweden.

The War of the Nerds

Returning to the topic, what this is about is information, access to it to be precise. To deny others access to information is a prime tool for power. That includes wars. A dictator does not have to pretend, but in a democracy the power elite has to use some device to preserve their information superiority. A key tool is to classify information based on a self-proclaimed necessity for state security. In modern warfare, USA has declared an intent to have absolute global information superiority.

We can see three kinds of challenges to this objective by the US. First state actors. The Soviet Union was the only one that could stand a chance, but eventually they collapsed. This left USA as the sole superpower.

Second we have the terrorists. These are non-state actors that use physical means, in an asymmetric war. The problem is that the winner ultimately is the one that has the moral high ground, and since terrorists do immoral things, they can only get sympathy if the enemy does even more immoral things. For instance, ETA had a lot of support in the Basque areas during Franco’s dictatorship, but most of that support evaporated once democracy was introduced in Spain.

The third challenge is against the information infrastructure itself. This is where the hackers come in. This is the War of the Nerds. The opening salvo is to expose the truth, to reveal the hidden information. The reaction from the Empire must be to stop this leak, since its power is threatened by it. Of course, until the leak is severe enough, the Empire will not act, since it would make it look week. But when the leak really may hurt it, it will strike back.

Cablegate

The few cables that have been released so far have mostly contained gossip, things that are generally known to the politically savvy persons in the country that the cable was sent from. Only in some cases have embarrassing statements and secrets come out. In other words, if the Empire is upset it is not because of what has been leaked already, but because of what may come.

What could these secrets be? There is one obvious sore spot, a deep inflammation in the world of foreign policy, and that is Palestine. Most Americans support Israel, and thus their government does it. However, the American people support Israel only because they don’t know the truth. There can be little doubt that the American government knows the truth (Jimmy Carter has even written about it).

Americans tend to believe that Palestine was a largely empty land when the Jews, in the Zionist plan, started settling the land. They also tend to believe that those Jews were descendants of Jews that were forced to leave that same land thousands of years ago.

Arabs, on the other hand, know that Palestinians lived in Palestine already when the Jews first arrived over three thousand years ago, and that the Jews arrived as conquerors, their “God” allegedly having “given” them the land. They also know that at the end of the Ottoman Empire, there were about 10,000 Jews living in Palestine, in peace with a much larger population of Palestinians, and that there was no “empty land” in the country. Furthermore, they know that close to 1 million Palestinians were driven into exile when the state of Israel was established by the Zionists. They were driven from their homes, their lands, the graves of their ancestors. And they know that they still live in refugee camps to this day, in other Arab countries.

Returning to Cablegate, what dangerous secrets is it that the US government is hiding from its people?

The Palestinians that have been desperate enough to engage Israel as freedom fighters have been labeled “terrorists”. When the superiority of Israel became so extreme that guerilla warfare in Palestine saw rendered all but impossible, the asymmetrical war was continued outside Israel. Again they were labeled terrorists, now with more justification. When Arabs from other countries joined the asymmetrical war in sympathy with Palestine, the propaganda painted them as Moslem extremists. By implying a religious reason for their fight, the nexus with the conflict in Palestine was hidden from the US public.

If the cables shed light on how the US government conspired with either Israel of Zionists in fabricating this propaganda, it would be earth-shattering for international diplomacy.

It would, however, be good for peace and democracy.

As it stands, forces such as Ahmedinejad in Iran, Castro on Cuba, and Chávez in Venezuela, are exploiting the legitimate grievances of those who are disenfranchised by the US policy. They are courting them and pretending to be their friends. In reality, of course, they are evil forces, dictators, who are just shamelessly exploiting a weakness that the democracies have exposed.

That is why it would be best for peace and democracy to come clean, to be transparent, to wash the laundry and go on. Hold an election and get new people in, it’s a democracy, isn’t it?

It is hard to make predictions, especially about the future. However, WikiLeaks may have documents ready to leak that can expose not just the primordial propaganda lie since WWII, but also documents on the way banks operate, that may cause people to realize how the banks have been systematically stealing the profits from working men and women for decades. This creates a long list of potential enemies to WikiLeaks: The powers behind governments, the powers behind banks, the powers behind media, the powers that support Israel. In short, the entire US / EU power elite.

On WikiLeaks side we have the hackers. Forget Ahmedinejad / Castro / Chávez, they are just opportunists. The only ones with WikiLeaks are the normal, everyday Internet users. May the force be with you.