Russia wants a navy base. Period. It’s not a mystery. If you understand that Putin is supporting Assad for the purpose of having a navy base with a harbor that doesn’t freeze in the winter, and that is not cut off from the rest of the world by straights guarded by NATO, then Russia’s behavior becomes totally predictable and understandable.
How do I know this? Easy. Putin said as much. In 2008 if my memory does not fail me, he announced plans for a new oceanic fleet by 2020, with navy bases in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Venezuela. Then came the Arab Spring and wiped away Kadaffi in Libya, and created civil wars in Syria and Yemen.
Russia already had a small base in Syria that seemed about to be lost, just like Sevastopol in Crimea would be lost when the treaty with Ukraine expired. Which is why Putin installed his man as president, but he was ousted in an uprising in 2014. So Putin invaded Crimea in order to hold on to Sevastopol. After that victory he turned to Syria and decided to hold on to that base as well, which is why he has backed Assad for a year now. Another stop gap measure has been a cooperation with Iran, using one of their bases in the Indian Ocean.
Libya and Yemen are out of reach now, but Venezuela is un unknown case. The area where the base presumably would be built has been closed off for civilians, and there are a lot of work going on under foreign direction. Not Russian though, but Asian. Tensions have gone high recently when foreign work leaders have pushed local crews beyond what they deem acceptable.
Earlier this month the European Parliament adopted a statement regarding Venezuela, and in particular the case of judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni, who has spent the last 7 months in jail totally against the law.
The statement, available in all EU languages, is largely devoted to the case of judge Afiuni, who was imprisoned just because Chávez said so, in his TV program. He made it clear that he wanted her in jail for 30 years, and that he wanted the Congress to retroactively change the law so she could be convicted to a longer penalty. The fact that no evidence has been found for her alleged crime has not motivated her release.
The European Parliament made it clear that they consider the rule of law in Venezuela to be suspended, and goes as far as to use the word condemn. The parliament “Condemns the public statements made by [Hugo Chávez], insulting and denigrating the judge, demanding a maximum sentence and requesting a modification of the law to enable a more severe penalty to be imposed; considers that these statements are aggravating the circumstances of her detention and constitute an attack on the independence of the judiciary by the President of a nation, who should be its first guarantor”.
In the statement the body also “Calls on the Venezuelan Government, with a view to the parliamentary elections on 26 September, to respect the rules of democracy and the principles of freedom of expression, assembly, association and election, as well as to invite the European Union and international bodies to observe these elections.”
It is not likely Hugo will comply. Just four days later, July 12, Chávez sent a, shall we say, diplomatic signal back to the EU, by having his political police arrest a man who has been his political opponent ever since Chávez was released from prison after his failed military coup in 1992: Alejandro Peña Esclusa.
Perhaps the neo-communists thought Mr Peña would be an easy target, given how he has been the victim of a slander campaign by communists for years. However, his arrest may have backfired, giving much increased global publicity about the true nature of the regime.
One year ago, when president Zelaya was deposed in Honduras, the star of Chávez was still high in Europe. Europeans in general (including media) did not believe the statements from Honduras that Chávez was behind the illegal plans of Zelaya, which is what caused the Supreme Court to order the arrest of the latter.
However, on July 26, 2009, I published an article on this blog that, it appears, brought a news story from Colombia to the attention of media in Sweden. The Swedish title of the article was, in translation, Chávez’s generals gave Swedish anti-tank weapons to terrorists. It was based on an article in Semana that cited facts found on the infamous FARC computer, and verified with the Swedish authorities, proving that weapons type AT-4 sold from Sweden to Venezuela had ended up in the hands of FARC, by the help of Venezuelan generals.
My modest contribution was simply to put this explosive news (pardon the pun) under the nose of the Swedish editors. Within hours all media had the story, and before lunch the government had taken the decision to stop indefinitely the export of Swedish weapons to Venezuela.
Today the star of Chávez in Sweden is decidedly much closer to the ground, if not already below it. The politically motivated arrest of judge Afiuni and Mr Peña Esclusa are perhaps the most visible cases, but they are just two out of many political prisoners in Venezuela today. Another problem is that the “arbitrary confiscation and expropriation, involving more than 760 enterprises since 2005 … undermine the basic social and economic rights of citizens” as the EU parliament put it.
Alejandro Peña Esclusa has argued since last year that the Venezuelans should learn from Honduras, that it is possible to peacefully stop a developing dictatorship by applying the laws and follow the constitution. Indira Ramirez de Peña has said in the TV program LA NOCHE in Colombia, after her husband’s arrest, that the example of Honduras scares Chávez, and that this is the reason her husband was arrested; to stop him from spreading the knowledge to the Venezuelan people of how they can defeat Chávez peacefully. Personally I would suggest that they also study and learn from how the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania made themselves free from the Soviet Union in the so-called singing revolution.
Venezuela is increasingly developing into a totalitarian state. Although it is not there yet, the developments and signals this summer have been very worrisome. If Chávez looses control over the parliament on September 26, he will no longer be able to rule as a dictator. There is nothing that indicates that he is prepared to take that risk. He is refusing to allow election observers from Chile, for instance. He has made it clear that he intends to exercise control over the only remaining opposition TV news channel, Globovision. Furthermore, even if the opposition wins, Chávez has already prepared to castrate the parliament by not giving them budget responsibility.
There is thus not much that speaks for Venezuela being a democracy today.
As if all this is not enough, Colombia has now presented evidence for large guerilla bases in Venezuela, belonging to FARC and ELN, organizations that are classified as terrorist groups by the EU and US, and which are major players in the smuggling of cocaine to Europe and North America. Chávez reacted with fury to the news, rather than – as a democratic leader would have done – promise to rout them out. This shows that beyond reasonable doubt Chávez is in cohorts with those narco-terrorists. In other words, Venezuela is a state sponsor of terrorism.
It would not surprise me if those who defended Chávez in relation to the crisis in Honduras last year are now mighty red-faced. Unless, of course, they already were red… If you go back and read comments on this blog, you may get a good laugh.
Venezuela’s president, or dictator – depending on whom you ask – Hugo Chávez Frías, has declared that according to him, the government now owns a minority stake of 25.8% in Globovisión, and insists that he has the right to appoint a director. The person he has in mind is Mario Silva, a talk show host on state TV who is using his platform to vilify Globovisión.
The majority owner of Globovisión, Guillermo Zuloaga, says to Miami Herald that the claim is “absurd” and that Chávez has his facts wrong.
Last month an arrest warrant was issued for Mr. Zuloaga and his son, who fled the country and are now, reportedly, considering seeking political asylum in the US.
Globovisión is the last TV-network critical of Chávez that remains in Venezuela. They reach 42% of the population with 24-hour news that has a critical angle to the regime.
On September 26 parliamentary elections will be held. If Chávez follows through on his intentions, there will be no free and fair elections, since free and fair elections requires a free debate, which requires that there is more than one voice in media.
Judging from the acts of Chávez this year, he is getting increasingly desperate in his efforts to remain in power. The last parliamentary elections 5 years ago the opposition unwisely boycotted, giving him an easy victory. This time they are instead united behind a single candidate in each precinct.
In February Chávez had the judge María Lourdes Afiuni imprisoned for setting a person free after three years without trial. He was released since the prosecutor consistently failed to show up at scheduled trials. Although the law says he couldn’t be held for more than two years, his release caused Chávez to get furious on TV, and order her incarceration. This caused the European Parliament to issue a condemnation of Venezuela on July 8, 2010 and calling for them to be invited to monitor the elections September 26. To which as we have seen, Chávez responded by figuratively giving them the finger, arresting his outspoken political opponent Alejandro Peña Esclusa on patently false charges, on July 12.
In March one of Chávez’s judges had an opposition politician imprisoned just for demanding an investigation (on Globovisión) of the accusations made by a Spanish judge regarding possible contacts between the Venezuelan government and drug-smuggling and terrorist organizations such as FARC and ETA.
Unless very drastic measures, and extreme pressure is put on Venezuela now, there seems to be no hope for democracy this year. There must be a free opposition media, and there must be independent election observers, both during the election campaign and the actual election and vote counting. However, remember Stalin’s words, “it is not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes.” Venezuela uses its own, state-controlled electronic voting machines.
It may be that the only way the Venezuelan people can get rid of Chávez is through a legal process that does not involve elections. The fact that such a process can work, peacefully, has been demonstrated many times the last 20 odd years, from East Germany to Honduras. There is no reason why it would not work also in Venezuela.
Last edited 11:10, created 10:08 – Three days ago, the Italian Wikipedia article about Alejandro Peña Esclusa consisted almost entirely of clearly libelous and false claims. Over a period of 3 days the editors have refused to remove the libelous claims, blocked attempts by other users both to remove the libel, and efforts to introduce Peña’s self-confessed political opinions as a balance.
As reported the other day (English, Swedish), Alejandro Peña Esclusa is an anti-communist politician and activist imprisoned by Hugo Chavez on July 12, 2010, on manufactured and laughable terrorist charges, and held by a kangaroo court. The Wikipedia article about him in Italian was a pure hit-job, accusing him of attempted murder, for being a coupster, fascist, anti-semite, racist; most either without source, or sourced to statements by political enemies. A big effort yesterday to incorporate well sourced and NPOV (neutral point of view) material from the English Wikipedia article immediately got deleted. For good measure, the user got blocked from doing further edits. Another user re-inserted it and it again got deleted. The libelous text was reinserted. Little does it help that it was flagged as biased and lacking credible sources, when some of it was patently false and libelous.
Here is an example of the reinserted text, as it stands at 10:24 today: “Nel suo programma politico attuale propugna oggi il rovesciamento violento dei governi di centro-sinistra latinoamericani e il ritorno di dittature militari.” In translation, “In his present political program he is advocating the violent overthrowing of the center-left governments of Latin America and the return of military dictatorships.” No source is provided. In spite of repeatedly providing quotes from Peña, video-recordings where he himself states that he opposes violence, to the editors, they let the libelous statement stand, and delete the refutations. The quoted text mentions “center-left governments,” which should have been a warning flag for the editors, being the terminology of Hugo Chávez’s “Bolivarian Revolution” and “Socialism in the XXI Century.” Neutral observers rarely consider governments that socialize companies “center”.
A link to a video where Peña Esclusa himself declares that he denounces violence as a political method was provided, but rejected by the editors. Here is a quote from another website under his control: “the Venezuelans ought to become inspired by the Honduran model, and strive for a change of government as soon as possible, through pacific, democratic, and constitutional means–and not just electoral–to avoid a national tragedy” (my emphasis). To allow the unsourced claim to stand, in complete contradiction to his own clearly stated and sourced political ideology (in the translated article), is beyond incompetence. It is either deliberate libel, or libel through gross negligence, since the concerns had been clearly pointed out in the discussion page.
The history of the increasingly frustrating efforts to make the administrators (admin for short, i.e., the Wikipedia term for editors) agree to remove the libelous claims can be read on the discussion page and the history page on Italian Wikipedia.
The first mentioning of the problem was made on the discussion page 2010-07-17 18:01 CEST, with the following message: “This page appears to contain potentially libelous claims without source, that should be removed immediately – this needs to be addressed by an editor in Italian wikipedia.” The rules for articles on living persons in English Wikipedia (there is no Italian translation) clearly states that one should delete such text immediately, but out of courtesy a chance was given to the Italian users to correct the page first. When after 4 hours nothing had happened, all libelous and unsourced claims were removed. That only left one sentence in the article – which goes a long way to show how biased it was.
This delete was undone within 5 minutes by user L736E, an admin who in the discussion kept insisting that Italian Wikipedia had different rules than English Wikipedia, although he never managed to provide a link to the rules. This is his reply: “Sorry guy but in Wikipedia in italian there’s no such rule that “libelous claim should be deleted IMMEDIATELY”.” He later edited his reply to, “Sorry guy but “libelous claim should be demonstrated and presented as such.””
Among the libelous claims that he re-instated was this: “On April 12, 2002, Peña Esclusa participated in the failed coup d’état in Venezuela.” No source for this statement was given. The fact is that he was arrested and promptly set free. The judicial principles are that if the prosecution of a person is dropped, then he is to be regarded innocent, just as if he been declared innocent by a court of law. This sentence in the article was thus demonstrably libelous. Being from the person’s ideological enemies, the communists, it was also communist propaganda. There was thus every reason to either remove it, or rephrase the text to state that it is an accusation from his political enemies. But it had to be done immediately, not “mañana”.
However, when the communist propaganda-nature of the libelous statements was pointed out to admin L726E, he took the argument as a personal attack against him(!). As a result, another admin, calling himself Vito Giulio-Claudio at the time, blocked not just further edits but also all discussion and messages.
These admins claim that the Italian version of Wikipedia entirely lacks rules for protecting innocent persons against libelous attacks with unsourced statements the way the English one does. In their words, the English rules do not apply to them. But on the English page on Biographies of living persons, it says, “This page documents an English Wikipedia policy, a widely accepted standard that all editors should normally follow” (my emphasis). Their word normally links to a common sense clause, which instructs the editors to use common sense, based on the “Ignore all rules-rule,” which says, “If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.”
The Italian admins thus have all the clout they need to stop the libelous attacks on Alejandro Peña Esclusa, but instead they chose to use their clout to keep the libel in place by avoiding fundamental changes.
The Wikipedia Foundation would be well advised to permanently block those irresponsible administrators who let libel stand, especially in a case like this, when the person’s life quite literally is in the balance–and just might depend on the veracity of that information.
Footnote: Wikipedia in June announced that they would open up some 2000 hitherto locked articles to make editing easier, including many biographies of living persons (source DN).
Example of Chávez’s propaganda, added 11:10: The new house organ of Hugo Chávez from 2009, Correo del Orinoco, has published an article in which they discuss a video of Alejandro Peña Esclusa talking in a church in 2007. In effect, what he is saying is calling for the congregation to follow the constitution and to protest peacefully. This is their way of demonstrating that Peña is a dangerous terrorist(!). If this is the most incriminating evidence they have, they have nothing. In other words, what the propaganda outlet suggests between the lines, is that to even be opposed to Chávez’s socialist revolution legally and peacefully is unacceptable, and deserves to lend a person in jail.
I måndags kväll kastades Alejandro Peña Esclusa i politiskt fängelse av Hugo Chávez Frías, diktator i Den Bolivarianska Republiken Venezuela.
Om detta har jag ännu inte sett ett ord i svenska media. Skandal! Om han kan kastas i fängelse utan att det uppmärksammas, då kan vem som helst kastas i fängelse utan att någon bryr sig.
Vem är då Peña Esclusa?
Han gav ut en bok 1994 i vilken han avslöjade Chávez som en marionett för Castro på Kuba, och för den marxistiska knarkgerillan FARC i Colombia, vars uppgift det var att sprida marxismen över hela den latinamerikanska kontinenten. Kom ihåg att detta var bara 2 år efter Chávez misslyckade militärkupp, och långt före någon av dem hade ställt upp som presidentkandidater. Det gjorde de bägge två år 1998. Chávez vann.
Sedan dess har den nu fängslade ingenjören och demokratiförkämpen oavtröttligt försökt motarbeta den kommunistiska komplotten med alla till buds stående lagliga och demokratiska medel. Han är ledare för UnoAmérica, en paraplyorganisation för ca 200 ideella organisationer som slåss för att försvara demokratin i sina respektive länder över hela Latinamerika. Han deltar själv i opinionsbildning över hela kontinenten, till exempel i El Salvador där han varnade för länkarna mellan den gamla gerillan FMLN och Chávez. Trots det vann de, och en salvadoran figurerar i arresteringen av Peña Esclusa, som en påstådd terrorist som framkastade falska anklagelser om inblandning innan han gömdes undan på Kuba.
En av de mera uppmärksammade aktionerna var när Peña Esclusa i augusti 2009 anmälde Chávez till Internationella Brottsmålsdomstolen (ICC) i Haag, för hans inblandning i försöken att kullstörta Honduras statsskick, och för att senare, när försöket stoppades av landets demokratiska institutioner, ha hotat med militär intervention för att återinsätta Zelaya. För att ha gjort denna anmälan till åklagare vill Chávez ha honom dömd för landsförräderi.
Varför arresterades han?
Efter att i åratal förgäves ha försökt hitta någon anledning att fänglsa honom blev Chávez desperat, nu när valen den 26 september närmar sig och oppositionens styrka hela tiden tilltar. Därför kidnappade de en salvadoran vid namn Chávez Abarca i Guatemala och flög honom mot hans vilja till Venezuela, enligt dennes hustru. Enligt Venezuela kom han själv dit, inbjuden att genomföra terroristattacker, men utan att veta något eller ha några planer; det skulle han få på plats, sa han. Han pekade ut kontaktpersoner enligt Venezuela, och Peña Esclusa var en av dem. Innan någon annan kunde intervjua honom flögs han till Kuba och gömdes undan.
Alejandro Peña Esclusa förstod naturligtvis att han skulle bli arresterad, så han spelade in en video i vilken han presenterade sin version av sakernas tillstånd för världsopinionen (med engelsk text del 1, del 2). Hans hustru Indira Ramirez de Peña har redogjort för hur påstådda sprängämnen planterades i deras 8-åriga dotters skrivbord vid husrannsakan. Hon påpekade också det absurda i att hennes man skulle ha förvarat sprängämnen i sitt hem även efter att han på video talat om för hela världen att han förväntades att bli arresterad inom ett dygn. Lögnen är totalt absurd (se t ex det colombianska TV-programmet LA NOCHE i onsdags kväll, i vilket hon har sällskap med ex-president Micheletti via satellit från Honduras).
Den egentliga anledningen till arresteringen är naturligtvis som ett led i strävan att vinna valet den 26 september. Alla som vågar tala klartext är ett hot, och de tas om hand på det vis som diktatorer känner bäst: Med olagliga medel. Även majoritetsägarna i den enda kvarvarande regimkritiska TV-kanalen som når hela landet (42% av befolkningen) är efterlysta, men de har sedan länge flytt landet och uppges nu överväga att söka politisk asyl i USA.
Det råder inte längre någon tvekan om att Hugo Chávez Frías är en diktator. Och just så kallade Micheletti honom igår: Herr diktator Hugo Chávez. På en direkt fråga vad han tyckte om mannen svarade den honduranska ex-presidenten att även om Chávez kallar honom för “goriletti” så föredrar han att inte svara med samma mynt, för han vill “inte förolämpa aporna”.
På ett mera allvarligt plan så uttalade Micheletti sin bestörtning över den brist på reaktion som vi sett från människorättsorganisationer på detta uppenbara och mycket grava övergrepp. Han påpekade hyckleriet som vi ser, även i media och, verkar det, till och med hos regeringar, då de aldrig var sena att anklaga Honduras legitima regim för påstådda övergrepp utan att vänta på fakta, men samtidigt inte säger ett pip (eller som i APs fall bara framför versionen från Chávez propaganda) när Chávez begår uppenbara övergrepp mot mänskliga rättigheter.
Jag kan förstå varför Sverige kröp för Hitler, men varför krypa för Chávez? (Att vänsterpartiet stödjer kommunistiska diktaturer med skattepengar har naturligtvis ideologiska förtecken, men jag talar om de andra, i den politiska mittfåran.) Jag hörde också igår, men minns nu inte vem som sa det (möjligen hans hustru, möjligen Alejandro själv, kanske någon annan) att Brasiliens president Lula da Silva framstår som strategen, figuren i bakgrunden som drar i trådarna, medan Chávez är den som skickas fram i rampljuset. Det vore i så fall strategiskt klokt av da Silva, för ända tills då Zelaya tog sig in på deras ambassad i Tegucigalpa så hade hans politiska inställning inte riktigt kommit fram. Nu är den dock solklar. Brasilien under da Silva är lika rabiat som Den Bolivarianska Republiken Venezuela (som Chávez låtit döpa om den till), när det gäller Honduras. Fullständigt oresonabel är karln, bryr sig inte ett dyft om fakta. Lyckligtvis är det snart presidentval i Brasilien och oppositionen delar inte hans syn.
Varför tog jag upp Brasilien? JAS. Så länge Sverige tror sig kunna sälja JAS Gripen till Brasilien så har de (verkar det) veto-rätt över Bildts utrikespolitik. Tänka sig, det heter att vi skall ha egen vapentillverkning för att kunna ha en egen utrikespolitik. Istället böjer vi oss för Brasilien, en reell allierad till Kuba, Ryssland och Iran, förutom Venezuela.
Om priset är att vi låter en demokratiförkämpe ruttna i ett politiskt fängelse, och ett land som försvarar sin suveränitet med fredliga och demokratiska medel bli utkastat ur den internationella gemenskapen, ja då har vi ingen moral.
Update 2010-07-19 10:31 – A report from Alejandra Peña Esclusa, from inside his prison on July 17, in Spanish, has been published at Fuerza Solidaria.
Last updated 2010-07-15 09:36, first published 2010-07-13 11:34 ET: Alejandra Peña Esclusa, director of UnoAmérica, former presidential candidate (in 1998), was detained in his house Monday evening in Venezuela, according to information from his wife. Only hours earlier, Peña Esclusa had posted a video editorial online, which explains the situation (here with English subtitles, part I, part II). He predicted that he would be arrested the next day, but he was arrested just hours later. It makes that video essential for reporters to see since it provides his point of view, as a counterweight to the propaganda lies from the dictatorship in Venezuela.
Peña Esclusa is accused of having links with terrorism. The other day an alleged terrorist from El Salvador was shown on TV in Venezuela, but the opposition sniffed out that something wasn’t right with the story. This Chávez Abarca confessed too easily, was only allowed to be interviewed by TeleChávez (aka TeleSur), and his story was not credible. The Venezuelan regime said that Abarca was arrested when arriving in Venezuela for carrying out terrorist acts, but Mrs. Abarca said that her husband was kidnapped in Guatemala and brought to Venezuela against his will. He was then immediately flown to Cuba and stuffed away in Castro’s GULAG, unavailable for questioning.
The video editorial also shows how this defamation has been going on for a long time. As one of the more egregious examples he shows footage of how he has vilified for defending the sovereign right of the Republic of Honduras to govern itself according to its own laws. Obviously this is within his role as chairman in UnoAmérica. He explained simply that since president Zelaya was attempting to overthrow the constitution (on orders from Hugo Chávez), the judicial system in Honduras had every right to remove him from office. (In fact, the civil servants did not just have the right to do it, they had a constitutional obligation to do it.) Thus, he concluded, it was not a military coup, and Micheletti was the constitutional president of the republic. For expressing this opinion, including before the International Criminal Court, he was charged with treason.
In an appearance on Colombian TV, LA NOCHE, Wednesday night together with Honduran ex-president Micheletti, Peña Esclusa’s wife Indira Ramirez de Peña said that her husband since 1994 has been denouncing Chávez’s plans to spread the Cuban revolution in Latin America, exposing him as a front man for Castro and the narco-guerilla FARC in Colombia. Recall that this is just 2 years after Chávez’s failed military coup in 1992. Peña Esclusa is effectively the main political opponent of the ruler, opposing his plans all over Latin America. She further pointed out that it is absurd that her husband would keep explosives in his apartment even when he knew that he was going to be arrested, as evidenced by the video he posted hours before.
Micheletti in no uncertain terms stated that the free and democratic countries of the world must stand up for the falsely accused, and that “his words are strong, his words are brave, and logically this scares Mr. Dictator Hugo Chávez.” Other quotes: “It’s inconceivable that when that mummy on Cuba is releasing political prisoners, this guy is putting new ones in.” About Hugo Chávez he said that men should not believe themselves Gods, and that even though Chávez calls him “goriletti” (combination of gorilla and Micheletti), he is not participating in the name-calling because he doesn’t want to insult the apes.
The dictatorship is consolidating itself
The parliamentary elections on September 26 have to be won by Chávez party for him not to lose control. He appears to be prepared to go to any length to “win” the elections. At what point shall his title change from “president” to “dictator”? I would say today. The last democrat to leave, turn off the light.
There is only one significant independent TV station left in Venezuela, Globovisión which reaches 42% of the households, and its majority owner Guillermo Zuloaga and his son went in hiding after an arrest order had been issued on trumped-up charges. See Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. They have now turned up in the US where they allegedly are considering applying for political asylum.
Edited 2010-07-13, originally posted 2010-07-12: During the defolding of the crisis in Honduras last year, someone posted a text written by Eva Golinger as a comment on this blog. I of course disapproved it, as it was stolen work, but I was impressed with the text nonetheless. So better late than never I googled her to see who this person might be.
It turns out she was born in the US of A, but with Venezuelan roots on her mother’s side, her Latin name thus being Eva Golinger Calderon. Wikipedia says she has a JD, a juris doctorate, from CUNY in 2003. However, a search for her dissertation thesis on scholar.google.com yields no hits.* She is frequently represented as an attorney, and has even given paid legal advise to Venezuela’s propaganda office in the US. Again, even this has been cast in doubt in early 2005, and it seems she had been disingenuous about her legal credentials. Apparently later in 2005 she was, however, registered as an attorney.
However, the shoddy quality of her legal analyses regarding Honduras strongly suggest to me that she has never been close to a doctor’s hat in any discipline. Unless it was made of tin foil, possibly.*
I am not talking about her political “analyses”, as in this piece, “Honduras: A Victory for Smart Power”. That text is opinion and guesswork, not fact and logic. The hilarious thing is that she congratulates president Obama, her “enemy”, for something he didn’t do. And she does not give the Hondurans credit for something that they actually did do, namely to take their destiny in their own hands.
No, when I talk about shoddy quality I mean this blog article, “Coup d’Etat Underway in Honduras”. In it Golinger clearly states that the Supreme Court of Honduras (CSJ) had ruled the poll that president Zelaya was planning illegal. Small wonder, as I don’t think there is a single country in which it is legal to hold a Constituting Constitutional Assembly, since that implies abandoning the existing State. However, this seems to completely escape the alleged juris doctor.
Her substandard fact-finding is also evidenced by this statement in the same sentence: “[Honduras] has a very limited constitution that allows minimal participation by the people”. She propably has never read their constitution. It is anything but limited in sheer size, being one of the longest in the world, and the republican form of government is rather similar to that in her native USA.
This leads me to question her academic competence. She looked (albeit superficially) at the facts, and drew the wrong conclusion from a legal point of view. She apparently lacks the intellectual tools for carrying out a legal analysis based on the law. Either that, or she choses not to deploy them.
Although no thesis showed up on scholar.google.com, there were several books written by Golinger. They all seem to deal with criticism of the US for its interventionist foreign policy, and defense of Bolivarian Venezuela for its policy. While some of the criticism – or even much – of the US may be justified, she seems to have developed a case of paranoia. To think that the US was behind the events in Honduras is clearly not a sign of sanity. Her twisted description of reality is tragic.
The many revoked visas suggest a certain degree of displeasure in Washington visavi Tegucigalpa, which totally seems to have escaped Golinger. Conversely, there was a proposal in Tegucigalpa of throwing out the US from their country since they did not trust the gringos any more, now that Obama seemed to side with Chavez. The real reason why Washington did not go further in pressuring Tegucigalpa was probably that Micheletti was squeezing back, in a place where Obama felt it. Not that they supported the legal action taken.
On the other hand, Golinger is unquestionably defending Chavez, even though evidence has come forth that he was behind the murders at the airport, and the staged media propaganda both there and in El Paraiso (1,2,3,4,5,6). But why shouldn’t she? After all, Chavez did use her as a mouthpiece for attacking the US, calling her “la novia de Venezuela”, ‘Venezuela’s girlfriend’, and she was and is a paid hand in Chavez’s propaganda machine. This year she got hired as editor for the English language edition Correo del Orinoco International, a leftist newspaper launched in 2009 and financially backed by the Venezuelan government.
To sum up, some on the Internet has Eva Golinger as a cross between a political prostitute and Tokyo Rose. I don’t know if that is true or not. But if it were true, it would be quite a defamation. Of Tokyo Rose.
* Update 2010-07-13: After Eva Golinger has pointed out that she is a registered “attorney” I started researching the US legal education system and realized that a US “JD” is something completely different than a Swedish “JD”. No wonder she has no research skills; a USAmerican Juris Doctor has never done any research. Golinger’s education is a basic 2-year law education. In my Alma Mater, the basic education at “Juridicum” is 4.5 years, and a Juris Doctor must study nominally 4 more years after that (but the real average is longer), a big part of which is taken up by original research (just like any other doctor, including yours truly). So, I was way too hard on her above. She probably just lacks the academic training to be able to make the analysis.
The deposing of the president of Honduras on June 28, 2009, has been interpreted in different ways by different groups. In this article I would like to offer the bigger perspective, and show how each of the other discourses fit into the bigger picture.
Honduras is the second poorest country in Latin America, after Nicaragua, its southern neighbour. A large part of the GDP comes from low-cost manufacturing for the US market, with bananas no longer being number one. The majority of the population lives below the poverty line. The other year, the Swedish government classified Honduras as the second most unequal country in the world, after Guatemala, its western neighbour. The present democratic constitution is from 1981. In that year an election was held during the last military rule, and the democratically elected president took office in 1982. The constitution is the longest surviving one in Honduras history, and it contains strict formulations to make new coups impossible. Yet, in 2009 the president was deposed. Honduras says it was because he tried to do a coup d’état and ran afoul of those strict prohibitions, while the rest of the world says that his deposing in itself was a coup d’état.
Zelaya’s original argument
President Zelaya, elected in 2005, wanted to help the poor people. They were being suppressed by the rich, and they had no democratic influence. The only way in which they could get influence was to write a new constitution, by holding a Constituting Constitutional Assembly (and thus throw out the old constitution).
Comment: this is exactly what Chávez and several other presidents in ALBA have done.
Nobody has explained in which way the existing constitution is to blame for the poverty, nor has anyone proposed what the new constitution would look like, or why a constituting assembly is required. The existing constitution can be changed by the elected representatives in Congress, and the president can propose changes – but he never did! There is only one relevant article that cannot be changed: The prohibition for the president to be reelected. Thus, the purpose of Zelaya’s policy must have been to enable reelection. Why is this important? Read on!
An alternative point of view
The poverty is rather a result of corruption, crime, a dysfunctional legal system, human rights violations, resulting in a somewhat failed State. The way out is to strengthen the rule of law, and the respect for the law. To overthrow the constitution, a patently unconstitutional act, would be totally counter-productive. Instead, the deposing of Zelaya by the rule of law was a good thing, that strengthened people’s belief in the State. The fact that many of his corrupt accomplices are now being prosecuted is a step in the right direction, but the fact that the present president is trying to stop the courts from doing this job is very discouraging. There is unfortunately a misunderstanding in the international community; they are effectively working to undermine the rule of law in Honduras, by pressuring Lobo to pressure the courts not to follow the law as they see it, but rather as the international community sees it (though they are no experts on Honduran jurisprudence).
The accusation that the US was behind the “coup”
This is based on two things: First that the US has supported military coups in Latin America and elsewhere in the past, and second that the US has a military base in Honduras (they are allowed to operate from the Palmerola, aka Soto Cano, military airport). Those making the accusation claim that the US acted to preserve its military base.
However, this is ridiculous on the face of it. First, since it was no coup according to Honduras. Second, since USA denies any involvement. Third, since even those having been accused of being behind the “coup” claim that USA made it clear in advance that Obama would not recognize the interim president, no matter how legal the procedure to replace Zelaya was. This stance was formulated by Senator John Kerry, according to my source. [UPDATE: A Senate staffer informed me that Kerry cannot have been the one to set this policy since they were not informed about the plans to depose Zelaya in advance. On the other hand, there are indications that the US ambassador to Honduras, Llorens, was personally strongly opposed to his country recognizing any interim president replacing Zelaya, also before Zelaya was deposed.]
Although in Kerry’s defense [or Lloren’s], he might just have been under the impression that there was no legal way to depose Zelaya, but that they were talking about a coup, the reason being that Honduras does not have the institution of impeachment. Rather, the president can be prosecuted and dealt with by the courts just like any other person.
The arguments of Zelaya sound plausible for many, but they are not his real motivation. During the election campaign he received some $50 million from a South American country. They were transferred via a bank in El Salvador. Once in office he sent them back, but the money was returned. The message was clear: We don’t want your money, we want you to follow our orders.
Your guess is as good as mine as to who the money came from.
Chávez has oil millions, he started the ALBA political block, and he is anti-USA. Someone also contributed money to the election campaign of Rafael Correa in Ecuador, who once elected threw out the US military base from that country, changed the constitution so he could be reelected, and joined ALBA. When Evo Morales was elected president in Bolivia he, too, changed the constitution and joined ALBA. Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua also joined ALBA, and plans to change the laws so he can be reelected. Chávez, of course, already has changed “his” constitution.
ALBA is an anti-USA alliance named after Simon Bolivar. It has been suggested to become a military alliance, and it belongs in the far left politically. Although Chávez calls it a socialist revolution, it is probably more accurate to call it communist. They are armed by Russia and have contracted to get nuclear technology from Iran.
The hidden agenda
International politics is about influence. One way to get that is to project power. As is evident from the above map, USA and Russia (following the tradition of the Soviet Union) use different methods. Look for instance at the Guantanamo base on Cuba. USA retained that after the war with Spain. It is thus irrelevant who is running Cuba at present. Just like the colonial powers of centuries past had fortresses around the coasts of Africa and India, surrounded by other countries, USA has military bases in other countries surrounded by sometimes friendly, sometimes hostile nations.
Russia does not. Instead, they have “sold” top modern fighter jets to Venezuela, apparently intended to be operated by Russian pilots if they are ever needed.
As we see, the US strategy does not depend on the colour of the government in the country. It can be a democracy that shifts policy every 4 years, doesn’t matter. USA maintains control of its military resources.
Russia, on the other hand, is using a strategy that hinges on that the government remains faithful to Moscow. This does not work well in a country where the president cannot be reelected.
I think I need to say no more. It is pretty obvious why the Honduran constitution had to change, from Moscow’s perspective (and this explains why an alleged Russian agent was spreading anti-Honduran propaganda in the US press, doesn’t it?).
You know, I suspect that the real strategist behind this is Fidel Castro. The whole game plan seems so based on the Cold War strategy that he knew so well. And no wonder he wanted Barack Obama elected president; he must have figured out that he would not dare to stop him by using a military coup, so by just playing Obama into a corner where any attempt of stopping Zelaya would even appear to be a military coup, Chávez would win. However, he didn’t know the Hondurans, the proudest little nation in the world last year.
The attackers have far from given up. They try to get the head of the supreme court deposed so that they can alter the composition of the court. They also want Zelaya’s corruption charges counted as political crimes, so that they will be covered by the political amnesty extended to all in January 2010 (against the will of the vast majority of the Honduran people, but forced on them by the international community as a condition for recognition). With those two things in place, Zelaya could return and continue his work with overthrowing the form of government, whether he is working as an agent for Venezuela, Cuba, or Russia itself.
Honduras value lies in two fields: First, that they could get rid of a US base there. Second, that they could make the country a base for themselves instead.
It is clear that the presence of the US military base does not make Honduras safer; quite the opposite. It is the very reason why attacking the country’s democracy and sovereignty is so attractive for the communists.
In light of this, one might ask if it wouldn’t be in the interest of both Honduras and USA to discontinue the Palmerola base in Honduras, and instead equip and train the Honduran military to carry out the necessary drug traffic control. Or perhaps some other arrangement, as long as it does not involve a US base on Honduran soil, because that is a democratic weakness. A strong democracy in Honduras, that does not attract attacks from anti-democratic forces, also seems in the US interest.
Another key factor is to decrease the social tensions in Honduras. The elite has got the message. They have understood how their behaviour has undermined the safety of their country. The time for compromise and a new social contract is now. The poor have never had a better opportunity to negotiate, but they need to talk to their countrymen, and not listen to the foreign agitators and their Quislings.
Honduras is at a cross-roads. There is a good way to take, and a bad. But one thing they should not do. They should not listen to the international community. They should sit down in a closed room and make peace between themselves, and then stand united without any foreign influence. That is the meaning of free, independent, and sovereign.
Knarksmugglingen genom Honduras har det senaste året sprängt alla vallar. Det är den politiska krisen från januari 2009 till januari i år som har gjort Honduras till knarkflygarnas drömland (-ningsplats).
Enligt honduransk press kommer planen från Venezuela i huvudsak. De har så gott som alltid en registrering från Venezuela, ibland äkta, ibland falsk.
Enligt veckotidningen Semana i Colombia är det visserligen venezolanska plan många av dem, men flygningarna utgår från Colombia, helt nära gränsen. Planen stjäls i Venezuela eller Brasilien, och konverteras för att kunna ta mer last och flyga längre. Direkt efter starten flyger de in över Venezuela, för att inte Colombias flygvapen skall kunna komma åt dem. De flyger genom Venezuela till Karibiska Havet och vidare till Honduras i första hand. Bägge artiklarna ovan nämner namn på personer i denna knarkhandel.
Sedan Honduras knarktsar mördades i november har trafiken ökat mycket. Först nu i februari har USA bestämt sig för att åter igen samarbeta med Honduras för att försöka stoppa denna trafik, efter att sedan den 28 juni förra året i någon sorts barnslig protest ha vägrat låta honduranerna få använda de radaranläggnignar som USA har i landet. Säkerligen har hundratals ton kokain passerat Honduras på väg till USA under dessa månader, som en direkt följd av att USA har suttit på sin bak.
De flesta flygplan tankas och flygs ut igen. Några i månaden störtar och bränns (upp till 14 under en enda vecka!). Planen på dessa bilder tillhör den lilla minoritet som polisen fått tag på i tid. Det handlar om allt från enmotoriga Cessna till flermotoriga Antonov fraktflygplan som kan ta upp till 5 ton last. Omfattningen och logistiken runt detta, med flera flygplan om dagen, slår till och med Hollywoods vildaste fantasier. Detta är ett multinationellt storföretag.
Den vidare färden norrut går till Mexico. Från Honduras till Mexico är det bara några timmar med en snabbgående motorbåt, och på vägen finns det korallöar tillhörande Belize i vilka man kan söka skydd vid behov. Det finns gott om sådana båtar i Honduras, relativt öppna båtar gjorda för havsfiske, med en liten förruff, sådär 40 fot långa, och med tre till fyra utombordmotorer, var och en på sådär 200 hk till 250 hk. Dessa båtar ligger inte i hamn utan förvaras på trailer, dragna efter en amerikansk pickup. På båtmässan i Miami (sista dagen idag!) kan man se och köpa dessa nätta båtar. Förutom för utsjöfiske används de även som jollar på megayachts. Men det är en annan historia.
Uppdatering: Bara någon timme efter att detta skrevs meddelades det att Colombia och Honduras undertecknat ett avtal om samarbete för att bekämpa brottslighet. Det handlar förutom om knarksmuggling även om bland annat kidnappningar, ett annat omfattande problem i bägge länderna. Honduras har nu högst mordfrekvens i världen. För några år sedan var det Colombia (och däremellan Irak). President Uribe har lyckats minska brottsfrekvensen med ungefär hälften hittills.
Uppdatering: Ytterligare några timmar senare rapporterades det att Venezuela i lördags hittat en hangar med 28 knarkflygplan.
Uppdatering 2009-02-17: Colombia rapporterar att under en operation kallad “Fronteras” (“Gränser”) uppdagades det att flygtrafikledarna är i maskopi med knarkflygarna. De har arresterat 22 utlänningar i den så kallade “pilotkartellen”. Honduras myndigheter har hittat över 250 smugglingsleder från Venezuela som går genom landet. Drogtrafiken genom Honduras startades av colombianska knarksmugglare men kontrolleras nu i huvudsak av mexikanska karteller, och flygningarna utgår i huvudsak från Venezuela, enligt vad Honduras säkerhetsminister Oscar Alvarez meddelade Colombia i veckans möte. Mexikanska karteller är kända för att vara mycket benägna för våld, vilket säkerligen är huvudorsaken till att Honduras nu har världens högsta mordfrekvens.
The countdown to the final destiny of Venezuela’s de facto dictator Hugo Chávez may well have begun in the high halls of heaven. His grand plan was interrupted prematurely by the totally unscripted heroic deed of Honduras, where the Attorney General, the Supreme Court, the National Congress, and the Military Forces, in an unexpected feat did their duty to perfection (and a little bit beyond, in the latter case).
In a similar way, Adolf Hitler’s grand plan was interrupted prematurely when Britain honored their promise to Poland, and declared war after Nazi Germany invaded the Slavic nation (that coincidentally had financed much of Germany’s “economical miracle” with loans). Hitler’s armament plans were incomplete. He would not have his high seas navy ready until in 1942. The premature start of the war, from his point of view, may have been what caused him to loose it.
We must never forget how popular Hitler was in the 1930’s. It wasn’t until he took Czechoslovakia by betrayal in 1938 that his superstar status started to fade.
In a similar way, Hugo Chávez has gained a superstar status in European press. The warning signs have been ignored or dismissed. When Chávez tried to take over Honduras through his point man Zelaya, and the democratic institutions stopped it, the world sided with Chávez even though he threatened with military force both before and after the deposing of Zelaya. However, the event did offer an indication to Europe that Chávez was not the person they had thought.
Another warning came a month later, when it was discovered (and first reported in Sweden on this blog) that Swedish-made shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles, AT-4, that had been delivered to Venezuela almost 20 years ago had ended up in the hands of the leftist narco-guerilla FARC in Colombia. Within hours, Sweden stopped all weapons exports to Venezuela.
Further alarm was raised when Chávez made a tour to countries such as Syria and Russia, in a bid to acquire tanks, jet fighter planes, medium range missiles, and nuclear technology (from Iran). It became obvious that he was setting the stage for an axis against the usual allies, the U.S., the U.K., and other western democracies; no longer just a Latin American axis from Cuba to Tierra del Fuego, but a global axis that seems to have as only rule that “an enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
Hugo Chávez seems to have a propaganda ministry that is more ambitious and effective than that of Josef Göring himself. His talking points can be read in blogs in virtually all western countries, in many languages. He has to his disposal an international TV news network, Telesur, which is now cooperating with Al Jazeera.
This brings me to the last sign of the impending downfall. These news outlets and their appendages in the blogosphere are peddling totally ludicrous accusations against the U.S. in relation to Haiti. When it came to Honduras they accused the U.S. for the “military coup”, even though (1) the U.S. had informed ahead of time that they would not recognize whoever became president if Zelaya was deposed, and (2) it was no coup since the democratic institutions acted within the constitution in deposing Zelaya. Still, at least the accusation was plausible on its face.
But when it comes to Haiti, they accuse the U.S. of occupying the country militarily, and – and this is the tin-foil hat part – of having caused the earthquake in the first place.
If anybody reading this believes that it could be possible, I can assure you, as a geoscientist, that it is not. You might as well accuse them of having taken down the moon. It is as out-of-this-world lunatic as those who suggest the Antarctic was Atlantis “when it was ice free there 13,000 years ago”. Scientific evidence shows that it has been completely ice covered for 5 million years. Get my point?
So why does Chávez’s ministry of propaganda go out with something so outlandish? I can only think of one explanation: Desperation. The opportunity is starting to slip through his fingers, so he becomes desperate, just like Hitler did.
Yesterday’s demonstration against Chávez in Venezuela illustrates that his days may be counted. The danger is though, that he does something dramatic to hold on to it. This is not the time to let down the guard for that golpista.