The Irish Times and Venezuela


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The Irish Times on Saturday 17th July published an article about Colombian claims that Venezuela is sheltering members of the FARC guerrilla group. This is an old chestnut that Colombia and the US revive from time to time, especially if there’s need to draw attention away from other news and particularly if it’s embarrassing news. There could be members of FARC in Venezuela as it is practically impossible to guard such a difficult border. Venezuela has suffered frequent incursions from the Colombian side but mainly by right-wing paramilitary death squads who regularly target Venezuelan trade unionists and community leaders. These death squads are linked to the Colombian army and have been carrying out this type of activity for many years in their own country. This is a model favoured by the US and was used to deadly effect in El Salvador.

At the end of 2009, according to the international Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre there were up to 4.9 million IDPs in Colombia, bringing it alongside Sudan as one of the two largest internal displacement situations in the world. An interesting point about FARC’s presence in Venezuela is that before President Chavez came to power the guerrilla group maintained an office in Caracas.

In the same article the Irish Times have also come up with another non-story about the Colombian military: the discovery of Swedish weapons in a FARC camp that the manufacturer said had been sold to the Venezuelan military. This transaction also predates the coming to power of Hugo Chavez. If the Irish Times would only check our updates.

The IT repeats the lie about food shortages being caused by economic mismanagement of the economy. This is in complete contrast to statements from the UN on the subject. In February this year the representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Venezuela, Francisco Arias Milla, said the Venezuelan government’s investment in domestic food production and regional food security will strengthen its ability and that of its neighbors to withstand the worsening global food crisis.

“The FAO recognizes the efforts of the national government [of Venezuela] to introduce policies, strategies, and programs to confront the global economic crisis and the volatility of food prices, and at the same time to protect the food and nutritional security of the Venezuelan people.”

Arias Milla identified Venezuela’s national subsidized food market, Mercal, its growing system of public cafeterias, and the state-run Venezuelan Food Production and Distribution company (PDVAL), which sells food at regulated prices, as examples of policies which “permit greater access to food for the most vulnerable strata of society.” There have been food shortages but the reasons are many. One being that Venezuelans have more disposable income, so are eating more. Another has been the efforts by large private multiples to cause shortages by hoarding and speculation.

As for mismanagement of the economy, of course there’s been some of that but unemployment is at a historic low, the newly nationalised (one year old) Bank of Venezuela has posted phenomenal results, which has brought it from being the third placed bank to number one. Access to free healthcare and education is now available to most Venezuelans. So it’s not all economic mismanagement.

The story that the Irish Times missed and which is an embarrassing situation for the US was, of course, the capture of the Salvadorian terrorist Francisco Chávez Abarca, an accomplice of Luis Posada Carriles. Carriles, who has been called the “Bin Laden of Latin America” is a nationalized Venezuelan who is wanted for an attack on a Cuban plane in 1976 that left 73 passengers dead.

He is currently in Miami where he is being protected by the U.S government. Contrary to international law, they refuse to extradite him. Abarca has confessed to being contracted by Luis Posada Carriles to carry out destabilizing acts in Venezuela in the run-up to the September National Assembly elections. Abarca is now talking and naming names, including his CIA handler and his Venezuelan contacts. He also has told of plans to assassinate opposition deputy Pastora Medina (of the Frente Humanista or Humanist Front) in an attempt to provoke a political backlash from opposition forces. Abarca also spoke of plans to bomb a Caracas plaza during the World Cup final. Mind you it’s only a small story!

The IT hasn’t mentioned the invasion of Costa Rica by 46 US warships and 7,000 Marines in direct violation of the constitution of that country  | . Another major Latin American story not being covered by the IT and indeed most of the Western press, is the continuing human rights abuses by the US backed regime in Honduras. These stories and the building of seven US military bases in Colombia which will ratchet up tension in all of Latin America, are surely worth more space than the constant focus on the Venezuelan economy.

It seems that the IT’s long negative campaign against Venezuela will continue and interestingly their article appeared one day after a statement on the same subject at a US State Department briefing.

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9 Responses

  1. Simon McGuinness

    July 26, 2010 4:00 pm

    A US invasion of Venezuela is threatened using Colombian puppets. A 30-day ultimatum was delivered by Colombia at an OAS meeting on 22 July which is due to expire on 21 August sometime after which a land invasion will begin.

    The reaction … the Irish Times shows it is ready to print whatever the anti-Chavez forces hand them without question or basic fact checking.

    This is just the start. All the Irish media will be “softened up” by false accusations of terrorism against Venezuela and such manufactured media incidents as false flag over flights of Venezuelan air space undertaken by US-friendly forces. Reports on these will be distributed via the usual sources AP, Reuters, Miami Herald, etc.

    Whether it will be masked by an Israeli attack on Iran, and/or a South Korean attack on North Korea in an “axis of terror” initiative remains to be seen. The target is the Venezuelan oil reserves. Its success will stabilize the US economy and stave off the double-dip recession that is otherwise likely. The effects on the Irish economy could be devastating.

    The key players in the unfolding drama are likely to be Brazil and China who’s intervention will be decisive. The EU response will be characterised by indecision and obfuscation. There will be no attempt to secure a UN mandate for illegal invasion this time.

    The Irish response will be interesting. The immediate withdrawal of the credentials of the US, Colombian and Costa Rica ambassadors will be the minimum response required of any sovereign state committed to the rights of small nations under the UN charter. Consideration of a UN defense force for Venezuela is mandated under that charter in response to any attempted invasion. A former Irish Foreign minister would have been the proposer, but Frank Aiken is dead.

    The invasion, like the 2002 coup against Chavez, will not be televised. If it succeeds, it will be followed by a reign of terror unlike anything we have seen so far in Latin America. Barrack Obama will wade chest deep in the blood of dead Venezuelans, it will be many decades, if ever, before the international media hold him accountable. The type of pro-Obama international media black-out that has characterised the bloodletting in Honduras since the successful US-lead coup will allow for a similar level of impunity to prevail. In fact, a supine media has emboldened the dormant state-backed terrorist forces that delivered the last bloodletting on behalf of the USA under the US “Condor Plan”.

    The purpose of the 10,000 US military personnel occupying the Port Au Prince airport in Haiti now becomes clear. It is to neutralise any air cover that Cuba decides to offer to the defense of Venezuela. The earthquake merely provided a convenient, if somewhat premature, cover for an operation many years in the planning.

    To fully understand what is going on, it will be necessary to listen very carefully to news coming from Cuba in the coming days and weeks.

    Relying on the Irish media will merely facilitate the same sleepwalk that preceeded Iraq.

  2. Simon McGuinness

    July 27, 2010 3:47 pm

    This is the first of the Irish Times’ and Reuter’s attempts to associate Venezuela with terrorism which I warned about yesterday:

    “Mr Kadir, arrested on board a flight to Iran via Venezuela, said he was on his way to a religious pilgrimage and was not doing anything related to the plot.”
    [ ]

    It is, of course, entirely irrelevant through what airport the terrorist suspect was routed on his way to his holidays.

  3. Robert Navan

    July 27, 2010 9:02 pm

    Basically I agree with much of what Simon McGuiness says in his comment but I’m not sure that the timetable is that rigid. The US and their partners in The Occupied Territories of the Middle East (aka Israel) do seem to be on the verge of some action against Iran. Should this be an all out attack, then Venezuela’s oil reserves will be of even greater importance, as such an action would surely cause huge disruption of oil supplies, worldwide. This in turn would send the price of oil through the roof, which in turn would deepen the financial depression.
    The BBC carried a report tonight of David Cameron’s visit to Turkey. Relations between Turkey and Iran have been getting closer recently and there have been reports of complaints from Turkish officials about Israeli involvement in the arming and training of Kurdish guerillas who attack targets inside Turkey. The Turks say this is by way of retaliation for their involvement with Iran. I wonder whether Cameron’s visit is to warn Turkey about siding with Iran in any action taken.
    I’m more baffled by the US and the North Koreans. Reports in the IT never stray from the line that the sinking of the Cheonan was by the North Koreans, despite the fact that much of the Asian media have from the start cast doubt on this. (See link from Asia Times ;-
    The only proof, so far is an unsigned report from a so-called international team.
    But why are the US, who are losing a war in Afghanistan and in another mess in Iraq, sabre rattling on three other fronts (Iran, North Korea and Venezuela)? It would seem to me that a campaign in either of the first two would severly stretch the empire. Venezuela holds no threat as it’s army is small and only have conventional armaments. Any thoughts out there?
    Let’s hope it’s all sabre rattling and even if it is, that achieves much as it keeps nations in a state of high alert and often having to spend much needed funds on defence. I saw a report today stating that fourteen million children go hungry in the US Is this the cost of war?

  4. William Wall

    July 28, 2010 11:35 am

    I don’t believe this stuff from Simon McGuinness and Robert Navan. I think it’s alarmist conspiracy theory and completely unreasonable. I see the USA increasing pressure against Chavez and Iran, but I doubt very much they want to fight another war at the moment, especially on their own doorstep and especially since they’re losing in Afghanistan.
    The initial article, though is excellent. I can’t understand (or maybe I can) the reporting in the IT about Venezuela – ditto for Rory Carroll in the Guardian.

  5. Simon McGuinness

    July 28, 2010 4:31 pm

    War is the only shot the US has left at retaining their economic power. The USA still produces over half of all the armaments sold globally each year (it is the only significant part of its manufacturing industry that has not been outsourced to China). 1 in 6 US jobs are directly involved in weapons manufacture&research and 1 in 3 jobs are indirectly dependent on military spending (both US and overseas). Selling weapons to governments at war is good for US business, so good in fact, that no other US manufactured export comes close. Fomenting wars is the basis of arms sales, so long as one of the belligerents is buying your weapon systems. Israel, South Korea and Colombia buy vast quantities of US weaponry. All three have emergency replenishment contracts in the event of an outbreak of war.

    In Jan/Feb 2002 no one believed that the USA and Britain were actually going to invade Iraq either. William Wall may have been one of the few – perhaps he could enlighten us?

  6. William Wall

    July 30, 2010 9:50 am

    Actually, Simon I did believe the the USA would go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. It looked to me to be inevitable – as it did for millions of other people, partly because every president of the USA had a war, and Bush needed one very badly for political and psychological (if it’s not too much of an exaggeration to attribute a psyche to him) reasons. Like millions I marched against the war, and I believe our marching helped to stop the rolling invasion of Syria that was planned by the Bush gang. Nor do I have any doubts that armaments are the main driver of American imperialism (though lets not exclude pornography from the list of big exports).
    However, I fail to see the connection between these historical and economic facts and the likelihood of an invasion of Venezuela and North Korea. NATO is losing in Afghanistan and the USA is overstretched. Nor do I think that Venezuela would be a pushover, as you seem to suggest. While many of the continent’s leaders do not like Chavez, I doubt that they would welcome an invasion. My biggest guess of all is that I don’t think Obama is up for it.
    Now, a coup is another matter…
    As regards the economic power of the USA, I think even its policy-makers accept that it will inevitably be eclipsed by China and possibly India and Brazil. The question for them is how to manage the decline so as to prolong the power of various elites, and to avoid social unrest, civil war or even revolution (or a military coup) in the next hundred years or so.

  7. Simon McGuinness

    July 30, 2010 7:19 pm

    William you seem to have the facts, you have just failed to connect them.
    The Venezuelan oil reserves – the largest on earth – will buy the US elites at least 50 years in which to avoid a revolution and preserve their power. That is why taking the Venezuelan oil at the point of a gun is precisely what they are about. They have the military power, they are prepared to kill to get oil and they don’t give a toss about the international reaction. The sooner they do it, the more likely they are to get away with it.
    Soon there will be to many powerful rivals (“eclipse” is too strong) to allow it to happen – its now or never.
    As for a “pushover” – Venezuela’s 5 operation F16 and 24 brand new Sukhoi fighter aircraft would be wiped out within the first 10 minutes of a US “shock and awe” attack and their multi-billion dollar air defense system contracted from Belarus is not yet operational.
    Until it is, the US military term “cakewalk” comes to mind. I’ll grant you that taking the Orinoco is one thing, holding it may be quite another. But then, it will be Colombian boys that take the lead in any ground operations, not Americans. Imperialists always prefer to get someone else – preferably poor brown people – to take the casualties for them.
    As for a US domestic coop, that was executed on November 22, 1963. Why do you think US military spending has never been cut since then and, on average, has doubled every 3 years?

  8. Simon McGuinness

    August 3, 2010 12:18 am

    An interesting article appears in this month’s Le Monde Diplomatique which suggests that the death squads demobilised from killing trade unionists and campesinos in Colombia have moved across the border into Venezuela where they are establishing private terrorist enterprises. They could also be establishing themselves for their next mission on behalf of their US paymasters – making sure the Chavistas never make it as far as the Miraflores Palace to free their president again.