Thursday, July 16, 2020


Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace, Justice, and Ecology
 (This is the second newsletter specifically on Venezuela, but OMNI’s Latin America newsletters have included books and articles on Venezuela and reports relevant to recent US subversion of its elected government.  .  See  )  
US Government’s Illegal Meddling
   Arrest of Venezuelan Embassy Defenders
   Food Shipment Seized
US Corporate Media For “Regime Change”
     Alan MacLeod’s book: Bad News from Venezuela
     Matt Taibbi, “Mainstream Media War Makers…”
     Dave Lindorff, US MM Falsely Claim 50 Countries Back Guaido
     Teddy Ostrow, No Elite Pundits from Sample Oppose Illegal Overthrow
 Defenders of Venezuela in US, example: 
      Code Pink
International, example:
History of US Imperial Domination
     Daniel Immerwahr’s new book, How to Hide an Empire
Newsletter #1

Vijay Prashad looks at the purpose and impact of sanctions against Venezuela.
Source   share on Twitter Like The plot to kill Venezuela on Facebook

Illegal Arrest of Embassy Protectors
A note from  Sue Skidmore in response to Newsletter #1:
US Illegally Evicts Protectors From Venezuelan Embassy - Truthout
Apr 25, 2019 - Arresting Members Of The Embassy Protection Collective Would Be Unlawful .
Venezuela Accuses U.S. of Violating Vienna Convention After 4 Activists Arrested Inside D.C. Embassy  May 16, 2019
Sue Skidmore
11:16 AM (15 minutes ago)
to me, Gladys, OMNI
A conversation with the four last embassy protectors who were arrested yesterday and released from jail today. So much love for these brave people! #HandsOffVenezuela

Venezuela food shipment destined for Venezuela seized due to U.S. blockade. (8-13-19).
The ship was seized in the Panama Canal according to the Venezuela government.
Source    share on Twitter Like Venezuela food shipment destined for Venezuela seized due to U.S. blockade on Facebook


JUNE 27, 2018
Why Venezuela Reporting Is So Bad
Review of Alan MacLeod's Bad News From Venezuela
Bad News From Venezuela
Alan MacLeod’s Bad News From Venezuela
For almost 20 years, the US government has been trying to overthrow Venezuela’s government, and establishment media outlets (state, corporate and some nonprofit) throughout the Americas and Europe have been bending over backwards to help the US do it.
Rare exceptions to this over the last two decades would be found in the state media in some countries that are not hostile to Venezuela, like the ALBA block. Small independent outlets like also offered alternatives. In the US and UK establishment media, you are way more likely to see a defense of Saudi Arabia’s dictatorship than of Venezuela’s democratically elected government. Any defense of Venezuela’s government will provoke vilification and ridicule, so both Alan MacLeod and his publisher (Routledge) deserve very high praise for producing the book Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting. It took real political courage. (Disclosure: MacLeod is a contributor to, as am I.)
MacLeod’s approach was to assess 501 articles (news reports and opinion pieces) about Venezuela that appeared in the US and UK newspapers during key periods since Hugo Chávez was first elected Venezuelan president in 1998. Chávez died in March 2013, and his vice president, Nicolas Maduro, was elected president a month later. Maduro was just re-elected to a second six-year term on May 20. The periods of peak interest in Venezuela that MacLeod examined involved the first election of Chávez in 1998, the US-backed military coup that briefly ousted Chávez in April of 2002, the death of Chávez in 2013 and the violent opposition protests in 2014.
MacLeod notes that US government funding to the Venezuelan opposition spiked just before the 2002 coup, and then increased again afterwards. What would happen to a foreign government that conceded (as the US State Department’s Office of the Inspector General did regarding Venezuela) that it funded and trained groups involved with violently ousting the US government?
MacLeod shows that, in bold defiance of the facts, the US media usually treated US involvement in the coup as a conspiracy theory, on those rare occasions when US involvement was discussed at all. Only 10 percent of the articles MacLeod sampled in US media even mentioned potential US involvement in the coup. Thirty-nine percent did in UK media, but, according to MacLeod, “only the Guardian presented US involvement as a strong possibility.”
Venezuelan Media: Caged or Free?
Source: Alan MacLeod
As somebody who regularly reads Venezuelan newspapers and watches its news and political programs, I thought the most powerful evidence MacLeod provided of Western media dishonesty was a chart showing how Venezuela’s media system has been depicted from 1998–2014. Of the 166 articles in MacLeod’s sample that described the state of Venezuela’s media, he classified 100 percent of them as spreading a “caged” characterization: the outlandish story that the Chávez and Maduro governments dominate the media, or have otherwise used coercion to practically silence aggressive criticism.
There is a bit of subjectivity involved in classifying articles in a sample like MacLeod’s. From my own very close reading of the US and UK’sVenezuela coverage over the years, I’m sure one could quibble that a few articles within MacLeod’s sample contradict the “caged” story; perhaps reducing the percentage to 95 percent, but that would hardly assail his conclusion. It is truly stunning that Western journalists can’t be relied on to accurately report the content of Venezuelan newspapers and TV. How hard is it to watch TV and read newspapers, and notice that the government is being constantly blasted by its opponents? No background in economics or any type of esoterica is required to do that much—simply a lack of extreme partisanship and a minimal level of honesty.
MacLeod acknowledges that the Carter Center has refuted a few big lies about the Venezuelan government, including the one about government critics being shut out of Venezuela’s media, but he also reminds us that a week after the perpetrators of the 2002 coup thanked Venezuela’s private media for their help installing a dictatorship, Jennifer McCoy (America director for the Carter Center at the time) wrote an op-ed for the New York Times (4/18/02) in which she said that the “Chávez regime” had been “threatening the country’s democratic system of checks and balances and freedom of expression of its citizens.” Venezuelan democracy deserved much better “allies.” The Carter Center may have sparkled at times compared to the rest of the US establishment, but it’s a very filthy establishment.
Drawing from the work of Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky, MacLeod provides a structural analysis of why coverage of Venezuela has been so terrible. Corporate journalists, with rare exceptions, reflexively dismiss common-sense analysis of their industry. Chomsky and Herman therefore resorted to proving various common-sense propositions, identifying “filters” that distort news coverage in ways that serve the rich and powerful. For example, it matters who pays the bills. (In other news, water is wet.) Corporate-owned, ad-dependent media will tend to serve the agenda of wealthy owners and corporate customers who provide the bulk of the ad dollars. Such media will usually hire and promote people whose worldview is compatible with the arrangement. That greatly reduces the need for heavy-handed bullying to enforce an editorial line.
Business pressures also drive media outlets to cuts costs, and therefore rely on governments and big corporate outfits as cheap and readily available sources. Losing “access” by alienating powerful sources therefore becomes expensive, even before you consider other forms of flak that powerful people can apply.

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone (via Bob Billig, 5-17-19)
The American commercial news landscape, in schism on domestic issues, is in lockstep here. Every article is seen from one angle: Venezuelans under the heel of a dictator who caused the crisis, with the only hope a “humanitarian” intervention by the United States.
There is no other perspective. Media watchdog FAIR just released results of a study of three months of American opinion pieces. Out of 76 editorials in the New York Times, Washington Post, the “big three Sunday morning talk shows,” or PBS News Hour, zero came out against the removal of Maduro.  Rolling Stone wrote:
“Corporate news coverage of Venezuela can only be described as a full-scale marketing campaign for regime change.”

What 50 countries are backing Guaidó?

Who knows? Who cares? If the Media Claim 50 Countries Reject Venezuela’s Elected President and Repeat It Enough It Must Be True

By Dave LIndorff, May 16, 2019, Information Clearing House ,
- American media still refer to Juan Guaidó, America’s hand-picked “legitimate leader” or “legitimate president” of Venezuela, as having an “administration.”
The truth is that his “administration” — consisting of advisors and other opposition leaders — are all either arrested and being held by the government, hiding, seeking asylum in various foreign embassies (Spanish, Italian, Brazilian and Argentinian) in the capital of Caracas, or have fled to other countries like Brazil and Colombia.
Guaidó, apparently a government of one, has so far avoided arrest probably because the elected Venezuelan President Maduro doesn’t want to give the US an excuse to try and rescue him, or to launch military actions of some kind against Venezuela as the White House keeps threatening to do.
Clearly, in calling for US military intervention, Guaidó has both demonstrated almost his total lack of backing among the masses of Venezuelan people, as well as his desperation, given most Latin Americans’ visceral resentment of US interventions in their country, all of which have been designed to put autocrats or even military juntas in power, and many of which have openly overthrown popularly elected governments, as in Guatemala, Chile, Brazil, Nicaragua, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and elsewhere.
None of this gets reported in the US. Only recently has the New York Times, always a reliable backer of US imperial policy in Latin America, at least hinted at the possibility that the reason Maduro remains president and that Guaidó’s efforts to oust him are failing for abysmally could be that the Venezuelan people want him to stay president, and do not want a US-backed coup or a US military intervention to replace him.
At this point the huffing and puffing coming from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and especially from the White House National Security Advisor and chief militarist blowhard John Bolton, are looking pretty pathetic, with Bolton trying to sow dissension and distrust by hinting that Maduro “better not trust” his own generals’ loyalty, and by offering rewards to those generals willing to abandon Maduro.
It is an indication of the United States’ declining power and influence in Latin America that few outside the US with its insular mass media believe that the US would or even could successfully invade Venezuela and impose a government on that country of 32 million (a number that keeps declining as the upper middle class and rich flee).
If anything, US sabotage and threats and US backing for a government of the wealthy are probably galvanizing support for Maduro. While people in the US, if they are paying any attention at all to events in Venezuela, may believe that Maduro is a corrupt thug, people in Venezuela itself, and in most of Latin America know full well that the main problems in that oil-rich country have to do with the collapse in oil prices since the heady days of Hugo Chavez when it was going for $100 a barrel, to American efforts to block Venezuela from exporting its oil now, and to freeze or even seize Venezuelan assets and oil receipts from the oil it does manage to export, and to other forms of economic warfare engaged in by the United States. As in Cuba, this kind of strategy by the US only works to build support for the country’s existing government.
At some point Guaidó is going to go. He will either be written off by the US media — his main backer — or will be arrested. Probably the latter will follow the former since once he’s recognized as an impotent charlatan, his arrest will not make him a martyr for the opposition. Already he has lost what public support he had as Venezuela’s wealthy abandon the country for Florida. As well, the “50 countries” that we in the US keep hearing which supposedly back Guaidó as Venezuela’s “legitimate leader” are realizing that they were hoodwinked by the US, and are mostly calling for a calmer response to the crisis in Venezuela, refusing to buy into US military threats against the Maduro government. Nobody mentions that over 140 countries in the world support Maduro as the leader of Venezuela.
In truth it’s impossible to find that list of “more than 50 countries” backing a self-proclaimed and unelected Guaidó as Venezuela’s president. The closest I could find by working google searches was a map produced by Bloomberg News listing 13 countries besides the US as supporting Guaidó. These included Canada, the UK, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. That is 13 plus the United States. Listed as supporting Maduro as elected President are Russia, China, Turkey, Bolivia, and Cuba, though I believe Bloomberg neglected to mention Nicaragua, a strong Maduro backer, which would make it six.
For a time, most of the countries of Europe were lining up behind Guaidó, particularly after Germany announced that it was recognizing him as the new interim leader of Venezuela in late January, and ousted the country’s ambassador, but then by late March Germany was having second thoughts, and rejected the person sent there by Guaidó to assume the position of Venezuelan ambassador. At this point except for the UK, the countries of Europe, along with Mexico and Uruguay are simply calling for a dialogue and a negotiated solution to the Venezuela political crisis, and in addition to opposing any talk of military action or a coup, are seeking nothing more than a new election (which Maduro would probably win, given the alternative of the return of a government of the rich). They’re no longer really backing Guaidó.
The reporters who continue to refer to “more than 50 countries” calling for Maduro’s ouster all must be using the same wrong news clip or some dated State Department press release.  (I asked the State Department for an updated list today but so far none has been sent to me, though it would appear it shouldn’t take long to compile.)
Investigative reporter Dave Lindorff, a long-time Nation contributor, is author of several books, most recently The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin’s Press, 2006) and is founder of the online newspaper ThisCantBeHappening!

Zero Percent of Elite Commentators Oppose Regime Change in Venezuela.  TEDDY OSTROW.   From FAIR, Publisher of Extra!, APRIL 30, 2019
The title in FAIR’s print edition of Extra! (June 2019) which I read is “Elite Media Allowed No Dissent on Regime Change for Venezuela.” –Dick]NYT: As the Crisis in Venezuela Grows, the Options Narrow
From the beginning, elite media have worked strenuously to narrow the options available for consideration (New York Times4/3/19).
A FAIR survey of US opinion journalism on Venezuela found no voices in elite corporate media that opposed regime change in that country. Over a three-month period (1/15/19–4/15/19), zero opinion pieces in the New York Times and Washington Post took an anti–regime change or pro-Maduro/Chavista position. Not a single commentator on the big three Sunday morning talk shows or PBS NewsHour came out against President Nicolás Maduro stepping down from the Venezuelan government. 
Of the 76 total articles, opinion videos or TV commentator segments that centered on or gave more than passing attention to Venezuela, 54 (72 percent) expressed explicit support for the Maduro administration’s ouster. Eleven (14 percent) were ambiguous, but were only classified as such for lack of explicit language. Reading between the lines, most of these were clearly also pro–regime change. Another 11 (14 percent) took no position, but many similarly offered ideological ammo for those in support.
The Times published 22 pro–regime change commentaries, three ambiguous and five without a position. The Post also spared no space for the pro-Chavista camp: 22 of its articles expressed support for the end to Maduro’s administration, eight were ambiguous and four took no position. Of the 12 TV opinions surveyed, 10 were pro-regime change and two took no position.
(The Times and Post pieces were found through a Nexis search for “Venezuela” between 1/15/19–4/15/19 using each paper as a source, narrowed to opinion articles and editorials. The search was supplemented with an examination of each outlet’s opinion/blog pages. The TV commentary segments were found through Nexis searches for “Venezuela” and the name of the talkshow during the same time period, in the folders of the corresponding television network: NBC News/CBS News transcripts, ABC News transcripts, and PBSNewsHour. Non-opinion TV news segments were omitted. The full list of items included can be found here.)
Corporate news coverage of Venezuela can only be described as a full-scale marketing campaign for regime change. If you’ve been reading FAIR recently (1/25/192/9/193/16/19)—or, indeed, since the early 2000s (4/18/02Extra!11–12/05)—the anti-Maduro unanimity espoused in the most influential US media should come as no surprise.
This comes despite the existence of millions of Venezuelans who support Maduro—who was democratically elected twice by the same electoral system that won Juan Guaidó his seat in the National Assembly—and oppose US/foreign intervention. FAIR (2/20/19) has pointed out corporate media’s willful erasure of vast improvements to Venezuelan life under Chavismo, particularly for the oppressedpoor, black, indigenous and mestizo populations. FAIR has also noted the lack of discussion of US-imposed sanctions, which have killed at least 40,000 Venezuelans between 2017–18 alone, and continue to devastate the Venezuelan economy.
Many authors in the sample eagerly championed the idea of the US ousting Maduro, including coup leader Juan Guiadó himself, in the Times (1/30/19) and Post (1/15/19), and on the NewsHour (2/18/19).
The Times made its official editorial opinion on the matter crystal clear at the outset of the attempted coup (1/24/19): “The Trump administration is right to support Mr. Guaidó.” Followed by FAIR’s favorite Times columnist, Bret Stephens (1/25/19):
The Trump administration took exactly the right step in recognizing National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s constitutionally legitimate president.
It’s generally a nation’s supreme court that has the final say on who is constitutionally legitimate, but in this case they can apparently be overruled by a foreign government—or a foreign newspaper columnist.
The Post editorial board also joined Team Unelected President (1/24/19):
The [Trump] administration’s best approach would be to join with its allies in initiatives that would help Venezuelans while bolstering Mr. Guaidó.

Review US history of domination of Latin American.  Remember the Monroe Doctrine and the Bolivarian Revolution.  Trump’s Cold War attacks on socialism and Latin American socialist countries and attempts to associate them with Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, and their efforts to distance themselves to protect their social reform platform.  
Support all Democratic candidates for president who oppose US imperialism and support social reforms that serve the people. 
Examine what public school history books say about the Monroe Doctrine.    Ask the US electorate to reject the Doctrine. 

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The U.S. is orchestrating a coup in Venezuela that is likely to lead to bloodshed — even civil war. Instead of meddling in the internal affairs of another country, the U.S. should be supporting peaceful dialogue facilitated by mediators such as Mexico, Uruguay, and the Pope. We have seen the effects of past U.S. backed coups in Latin America — Guatemala in 1953, Chile in 1973, Honduras in 2009. It always turns out disastrous for the people — as is evidenced by people fleeing U.S.-orchestrated violence across Latin America and seeking refuge at the U.S.-Mexico border.
it is imperative Congress show opposition to unilateral military action by the president without prior Congressional authorization.
CODEPINK is part of the Venezuela Embassy Protection Collective, a group of organizations and individuals, residing and working in the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC at the invitation of the elected Venezuelan government. They are there to serve as an interim protectorate keeping the embassy safe from right-wing Guiado supporters, who have been harassing them and preventing the delivery of food and medicines into the building. Many of the activists have been assaulted but the police have been refusing to arrest the thugs surrounding the embassy. Contact your Congressional representative now to tell them to obey international diplomatic law and protect the integrity of the embassy, as well as ensure the safety of the peace activists.  
Please support the Embassy Protection Collective's efforts to keep the embassy in the hands of the elected government.
Legislation is underway in Congress to promote a peaceful solution. H.R. 1004 seeks “To prohibit the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities with respect to Venezuela.” Introduced by Representatives David Cicilline, this legislation makes it clear to President Trump that without congressional authorization — authorization he does NOT have — he may not use military force in Venezuela. Tell your representative in Congress to add their name to H.R. 1004.
Tell the New York Times, CNN, and MSNBC not to collaborate with the Trump-Abrams-Bolton PR stunt to weaponize humanitarian aid in order to foment violence for their coup on Venezuela. Tell them they have a responsibility to report accurately and truthfully.

Cuban “troops” saving lives in Venezuela
Cubans are truly committed to the principle of sovereignty, we are protective of our independence, and we would never do to others what we would not allow to be done to ourselves.   Source   share on Twitter 

The following passage is the conclusion of the review by Adrian Chen in Foreign Policy (April 8, 2019) of  Daniel Immerwahr’s  How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States (2019).
“. . .the dilemma of empire is as pressing today as it was in Mark Twain’s time. Donald Trump has made a lot of noise about winding down wars and withdrawing from alliances, but, seen from the far reaches of the pointillist empire, all of it seems as hollow as most of the other noises that issue from his mouth. Trump has shown little inclination to dismantle the world-spanning military apparatus that underpins America’s (yes, increasingly shaky) global supremacy.
The administration’s latest budget features a $750 billion increase in military spending, much of which would presumably support the nearly 700 U.S. military installations maintained today. And Trump does not seem particularly reluctant to use American military power to dictate events abroad. He shockingly made the good decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the quagmire in Syria only to address the crisis in Venezuela with a reckless bellicosity that threatens to entangle those forces again. In his incessant hinting at military intervention in Venezuela, Trump brings to mind the arch-imperialist Teddy Roosevelt’s idea of “big-stick” diplomacy — though no one would accuse Trump of speaking softly. A military intervention in Venezuela in the name of democracy would be as hypocritical, and likely as disastrous, as the campaign in the Philippines that got Roosevelt so hot and bothered. Now is as good a time as ever to familiarize yourself with the history of U.S. imperialism, if only to remember what an asshole Teddy Roosevelt was.”

Find examples of illegal US efforts to overthrow the elected government of Venezuela.  Broadcast them.  Explain why they are illegal.  Do you know where to stand?   See Sam Totten’s Dirty Hands and Vicious Deeds.  See OMNI’s US Lawlessness Newsletter #1:, #2 under construction.
Support critics of US imperial domination.  Buy their books, subscribe to the magazines that publish the articles.  They’re already doing to the good work; assist them.  Don’t let a book or magazine publisher go bankrupt.  If you don’t have time to read a book or magazine just now, give to someone who will.
Join the organizations working hard to change the US government for peace and justice. 
Identify the political candidates who seek peace and justice and ecology and send them money and offer your campaign support.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one among dozens of outstanding politicians seeking re-election.  See Emily’s List or any of the dozen other orgs. supporting pje candidates.

(This is the first newsletter specifically on Venezuela, but OMNI’s Latin America newsletters have included books and articles on Venezuela and reports relevant to recent US subversion of its elected government.  .  See  )  


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Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)

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