Why Chavez’ Venezuela is the “threat of a good model”

Development of some economic/social indicators:

When Hugo Chavez came to power in ’98, the venezuelan GDP was at about 90 billion $. In 2010 Venezuela’s GDP was already 387 billion $.

In 2003 62% of Venezuelans were “below” the poverty line. Until 2009 the number reduced to 29%.

Total external debt stocks to GNI was 47% in 2003. In 2010 it was only 14%.

In 2003 unemployment was almost at 17%. In 2009 it was 7.6%.

Under-five mortality rate (the probability per 1,000 that a newborn baby will die before reaching age five) was 26.2 in 2002, in 2010 it’s 18.3%

In 2002, the merchandise trade as a share of GDP was 43.6%, in 2010 it’s 27.2%.

Life expectancy is higher now, Literacy rate rose up to 95%.

The most significant changes can be seen between 2003 and today. In 2003, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took control of Venezuela’s oil resources from the US.

Source

Libya: Illustrious corpses – the truth is always revolutionary

This is an absolute must-read analysis: one of the best reads in a long time — this correctly throws light on the blatant exposure of the numerous layers of gate-keepers from so many areas of life: media such as The Guardian and the New York Times to organizations such as Amnesty International and the United Nations, as well as journalists, intellectuals and activists…

by Toni Solo

September 25th 2011

Right now in Libya the UN recognized government and its NATO masters are bombing hundreds of civilians to death in Sirte, Bani Walid and Sabha. They have bombed schools and hospitals and murdered whole families. This infamy was sanctioned by the UN from the beginning and has been justified by many of the cream of international progressive intellectuals. It is long past time to identify and condemn these accomplices to the crimes against humanity in Libya committed by the Western elites and their puppet governments.

The colonial war against Libya has defined more sharply than ever the structures of knowledge, attitudes and behaviour that characterize progressive and radical intellectual production in Europe and North America. The war has thrown that production into crisis. It could not be clearer now that the class function of intellectual managers like Gilbert Achcar, Immanuel Wallerstein, Ignacio Ramonet and similar individuals is to neuter effective protest against corporate capitalism and imperialism.

The crypto-fascist Irish poet W.B.Yeats once wrote, “Did that play of mine send out certain men the English shot?” Intellectual managers like Achar, Ramonet and Wallerstein, Samir Amin, Atilio Boron, Ramzy Baroud and Santiago Alba Rico might ask themselves, “Did our work prepare the vicious NATO genocide in Libya?” Of course, the answer is “yes, it did”. They also seem to think that reality is perfectly all right.

They avow they seek radical social change and revolution in theory. But wherever processes have achieved genuine social change in the real world, as in the Libyan Jamahiriya, they attack them or, as in Venezuela, seek to mould them to their own narcissistic criteria. If one looks at the expressions of dissent privileged under corporate consumer capitalism they are all varieties of anarchism.

Of course they are. Anarchist anti-communism is a spoilt child doted on and nurtured by the capitalist elites– a nuisance, but a useful one and very much part of the laissez-faire family. Capitalism easily accommodates and co-opts fatuous slogans like “Another world is possible”. We can see what world they have in mind by looking at Libya. The intellectuals who supported the murderous racist Libyan renegades and NATO’s contract putsch-insurrection are a good example of how the process of co-optation and accommodation works.

They assimilate themselves into the rituals and processes of public life in the plutocracies of North America and Europe. They shift between academic life, non-governmental activity and participation in the mass corporate psy-warfare media and their alternative counterparts, the gatekeepers of permissible dissent. Libya has finally brought this reality out into the open in the most categorical way. One has only to look back at what influential intellectual managers produced around the time of the March 19th UN Resolution 1973.

Here’s Immanuel Wallerstein (http://www.iwallerstein.com/libya-world-left/ [1]) :

“The second point missed by Hugo Chavez’s analysis is that there is not going to be any significant military involvement of the western world in Libya. The public statements are all huff and puff, designed to impress local opinion at home. There will be no Security Council resolution because Russia and China won’t go along. There will be no NATO resolution because Germany and some others won’t go along. Even Sarkozy’s militant anti-Qaddafi stance is meeting resistance within France.”

Here’s Ignacio Ramonet (http://www.monde-diplomatique.es/?url=editorial/000085641287216818681110… [2]) :

“Under such circumstances, any other reasonable leader would have understood that the time to negotiate and give up power had arrived. But not Colonel Gadafi. At the risk of submerging his country in a civil war, the “Guide”, in power for 42 years, explained that the demonstrators were “youngsters Al Qaeda had drugged by adding hallucinogenic pills to their Nescafé”. And he ordered the armed forces to repress the protests with heavy gunfire and extreme force. The Al Jazeera channel showed military planes strafing civilian demonstrators.”

and

“One can be against the current structure of the United Nations, or reckon that its operations leave much to be desired. Or that the Western powers dominate the organization. These are acceptable criticisms. But for the moment the UN constitutes the only source of international law. In that sense, and contrary to the wars wars in Kosovo or Iraq which were never sanctioned by the UN, the current intervention in Libya is legal, according to international law; legitimate according to the principles of solidarity among democrats; and desirable for the international community which brings together people struggling for their liberty.”

Here’s Gilbert Achcar (http://www.zcommunications.org/libya-a-legitimate-and-necessary-debate-f… [3]) :

“The idea that Western powers are intervening in Libya because they want to topple a regime hostile to their interests is just preposterous. Equally preposterous is the idea that what they are after is laying their hands on Libyan oil. In fact, the whole range of Western oil and gas companies is active in Libya: Italy’s ENI, Germany’s Wintershall, Britain’s BP, France’s Total and GDF Suez, US companies ConocoPhillips, Hess, and Occidental, British-Dutch Shell, Spain’s Repsol, Canada’s Suncor, Norway’s Statoil, etc. Why then are Western powers intervening in Libya today, and not in Rwanda yesterday and Congo yesterday and today? As one of those who have energetically argued that the invasion of Iraq was “about oil” against those who tried to outsmart us by saying that we were “reductionists,” don’t expect me to argue that this one is not about oil. It definitely is. But how?

My take on that is the following. After watching for a few weeks Gaddafi conducting his terribly brutal and bloody suppression of the uprising that started in mid-February — estimates of the number of people killed in early March ranged from 1000 to 10,000, the latter figure by the International Criminal Court, with the Libyan opposition’s estimates ranging between 6,000 and 8,000 — Western governments, like everybody else for that matter, became convinced that with Gaddafi set on a counter-revolutionary offensive and reaching the outskirts of Libya’s second largest city of Benghazi (over 600,000 inhabitants), a mass-scale slaughter was imminent.”

Counterfactual perception management

One could quote many more examples of the intellectual dishonesty, ignorance, stupidity, arrogance and cynicism of these prestigious writers and others like, for example, Santiago Alba Rico, Atilio Boron, Ramzy Baroud and Samir Amin. But the extra bulk of documentation would add nothing to the overall picture of narcissistic collaboration with the dominant NATO corporate psy-warfare machine. Nor is it worth dallying over the role of NATO’s favourite gatekeepers of permissible dissent like Counterpunch, ZNet, Rebelión and other similar alternative information web sites.

Those sites did their job of muting and censoring effective discussion and argument at crucial moments prior to the March 19th vote in the UN Security Council and around the decisive event of NATO’s ground invasion of Tripoli in August. A tiny handful of writers, among them John Pilger and Tariq Ali, spoke out against the war. But even they still swallowed hook, line and sinker the NATO psy-warfare caricature of Muammar Al Ghaddafi as a blood-on-his-hands dictator-clown.

While the individual errors of Achcar, Wallerstein and Ramonet may vary, all of them start from the central premise of NATO’s psychological warfare offensive, namely, that Libya was a dictatorship overthrown by a popular revolution. As part of their suspiciously coherent perception management of events in Libya, all these NATO psy-warfare collaborators omit the following facts:

• prior to March 19th the Libyan Jamahiriya had called for negotiations and a UN fact-finding mission – rejected both by the renegades and the dominant powers in the UN;
• the only reliably confirmed information about events in Libya between February 17th and March 19th came from the Libyan government the Libyan government’s account was confirmed by testimony from both Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Chief of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen as well as by Russian military intelligence prior to the March 19th Resolution 1973.
• there was never any reliable evidence of the Libyan Jamahiriya bombing or machine gunning peaceful demonstrations in February or March;
• on the other hand credible accounts of racist pogroms and lynchings by the Libyan renegades were available from the very start of the events in Benghazi in February ;
• the African Union’s constant insistence from the very start of the conflict on a negotiated peace was welcomed by the Libyan Jamihiriya;
• the devastating role played by international sanctions imposed on the basis of the flagrant fabrication of Libyan involvement in the Lockerbie terrorist atrocity badly affected Libya’s development between 1992 and 2003;
• by 2011 Libya’s population enjoyed an unparalleled high standard of living relative to the rest of Africa;
• US$200bn in funds were saved by the Libyan Jamahiriya and administered for the benefit of the Libyan people and impoverished African countries;
• the Libyan Jamahiriya promoted innumerable significant and strategic development initiatives in other African countries;
• prior to their NATO supported putsch- insurrection, the currrent renegade leaders promoted corporate friendly Western neoliberal policies that were firmly resisted by Muammar Al Ghaddafi
• once they realized Maummar Al Ghadafi was resisting deepening neoliberal reforms, NATO planned and carried out the Southern Mistral war game in which they practised a military assault against Libya

Analysis with feet of clay

One could go on delving into more detail to rebut all the false claims and hypocritical assertions made by NATO psy-warfare fellow travellers like Ramonet, Achcar and Wallerstein. But it is enough to look at the excerpts quoted above to see how skewed, disingenuous, arrogant, cynical and downright baseless their arguments are. These are classic characteristics of NATO country perception management against targets from the Cuban revolution to the UN supported coups in Haiti and the Ivory Coast

Immanuel Wallerstein completely failed to predict the course of events in Libya in the most abject and ridiculous way. The UN Security Council did pass a resolution. NATO did resolve to go to war. President Sarkozy easily secured his country’s approval for French armed forces to participate in NATO’s colonial war.

Wallerstein demonstrated complete idiocy in his appraisal of events in March 2011. We can add his illustrious corpse to the Ship of Fools adrift over Libya full to the gunwales with NATO dupes who got things completely wrong on Libya. Wallerstein’s fatuous patronising arrogance duped him into hopeless error. By contrast, the appraisal of the facts by Fidel Castro and President Hugo Chavez was absolutely right.

The falsehoods of Ignacio Ramonet

Ignacio Ramonet completely misrepresented the nature of the events in February in Benghazi. No reliable evidence indicates that peaceful demonstrators were fired on. At the time, the Libyan government’s account was confirmed by testimony from both US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and the US armed forces Chief of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, as well as by Russian military intelligence prior to the March 19th Resolution 1973. Now the highest estimates of deaths as a result of the armed insurrection in Libya between February 17th and March 19th are around 250.

Ramonet got things wrong because he took as his source a notorious NATO propaganda outlet, the UK Guardian newspaper. The Guardian’s foreign news coverage is at least as cynical and skewed as that of El País or Le Monde. Ramonet also relied on the Qatar dominated Al Jazeera, now overwhelmingly staffed by staff who previously worked with NATO country mainstream corporate media.

It is not as strange as it seems that a supposed radical like Ignacio Ramonet should ignore the entire history of imperialist interventions over the last 200 years. At one time Ramonet was extremely proud of his work promoting the World Social Forum. That body is thoroughly compromised by its links to corporate funders.

On Libya, Ramonet also dishonestly suggests as a fact something he most certainly does not know, namely that Muammar al Ghaddafi ordered the use of extreme force against peaceful demonstrators. That suggestion is pure propaganda as is his selective quote of Muammar al Ghaddafi’s comments at the time.. To write as Ignacio Ramonet then did, that UN Resolution 1973 was legal, legitimate and desirable, takes self-serving cynicism to its very extremes.

Former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates had already pointed out correctly that enforcing a no fly zone necessarily involved military aggression. But the UN Charter specifically rules out military action except in self-defence. Hence President Obama’s counterfactual statement that the United States is not at war against Libya. So much for United Nations legality.

In any case, Resolution 1973 calls for a peaceful negotiated solution. That option proposed by the Libyan government and the African Union and by Latin America’s ALBA bloc of countries had already been rejected by the Libyan renegades. They rejected negotiations on the strength of the support they were getting from the very governments who cynically passed the Resolution knowing neither they themselves nor the renegades had any intention of seeking a peaceful settlement.

Ramonet argues that the UN blank cheque for intervention was legitimate in terms of democratic solidarity. Here we come up against a fundamental contradiction of the international neocolonial Left. Igancio Ramonet, a famous critic of corporate capitalism, tacitly accepts, after all, that North America and Europe are composed of democracies and he explicitly describes the Libyan Jamahiriya as a dictatorship.

But it is the Libyan Jamahiriya that carefully saved and invested hundreds of billions of dollars which it then used very clearly for the benefit of the Libyan people and other African peoples. On the other hand, it is the rotten-corrupt plutocracies of Europe and North America that have sucked dry their peoples so as to enrich a tiny corporate elite of crooked bankers and speculators and to protect their criminal financial system. The democratic solidarity Ramonet is talking about is no more than a narcissistic construct conjured up to justify his ideological prejudice against the Libyan Jamahiriya.

To conclude, as Ignacio Ramonet then does, that the UN Resolution 1973 was in any way desirable is plainly disingenuous folly. The terms of Resolution 1973 left matters wide open to whatever interpretation the North American and European governments concerned chose to put on it. No serious observer expected anything less than the ruthless application of force to support the racist putsch-insurrection struggling for existence in Benghazi.

That putsch-insurrection completely lacked popular support in the rest of Libya. Like Achcar and Wallerstein, Ramonet ignored plenty of readily available information that indicated those very facts which have been confirmed over and over again since March 19th 2011. Ramonet’s reputation is one more illustrious corpse in the Ship of Fools illuminated by the flames of NATO’s genocide in Zliten, Tripoli, Sirte and Bani Walid.

Gilbert Achcar – psy-warfare operative

Gilbert Achcar’s is perhaps the most egregiously dishonest and overt case of collabroation in NATO’s psychological warfare against the Libyan people. With regard to Libya, Immanuel Wallerstein turned out to be a dunderhead and Ignacio Ramonet, more than anything, a narcissistic disingenuous buffoon. But Gilbert Achcar’s position is one carefully politically calculated in the most absolute bad faith.

Achcar is Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at Britain’s Foreign and Colonial Office’s extra-mural School of Oriental and African Studies. He has taught in France and Britain for over 30 years now. Only the most naive would believe Achcar has not been utterly co-opted by his environment. His remarks on Libya demonstrate his moral and intellectual capitulation as a colonialist apologist to a fault.

“The idea that Western powers are intervening in Libya because they want to topple a regime hostile to their interests is just preposterous.” It is very rare for a NATO psy-warfare operative to out themselves like this. Self-evidently, it is Gilbert Achcar’s view that is truly preposterous, suggesting the Western regimes intervening in Libya have done so for any other reason than that the Libyan Jamahiriya blocked their plans on several fronts.

Achcar continues to out himself as a NATO apologist by shamelessly citing as categorical fact the most extreme and ridiculous figures of civilian deaths at the hands of the forces of the Libyan Jamahiriya with absolutely no basis in any legitimate reporting or investigation. “Estimates of the number of people killed in early March ranged from 1000 to 10,000, the latter figure by the International Criminal Court, with the Libyan opposition’s estimates ranging between 6,000 and 8,000.”

Only a NATO stooge would expect to be taken seriously when citing the International Criminal Court as a reliable source. As it turns out, the ICC on this matter has been completely discredited, along with its other ridiculous lie about allegations of mass rape by Libyan army troops on Viagra. The illustrious corpse of the ICC’s Luis Moreno Campo’s reputation, or its desiccated remains, joins those of Wallerstein, Ramonet and Achcar and their accomplices in the NATO fellow-travellers funeral Barge-of-Fools going up in flames in the sands of Libya.

The facts now established and accepted by all but NATO collaborators like Gilbert Achcar are that the Libyan security forces did not fire on unarmed demonstrators. Respected human rights organizations put the number of fatalities as a result of the armed insurrection between February 17th and March 19th at around 250. So it was extremely unlikely that Achcar’s scare of “mass-scale slaughter” was in any way likely, especially since the Libyan authorities were offering to negotiate. What is indeed absolutely clear is that Achcar is a fully committed psy-warfare operative in NATO’s war against Libya and everyone who expresses solidarity with the Libyan Jamahiriya.

Intellectuals and counterintelligence

In the 1950s and the 1960s, the CIA and its fellow intelligence agencies invested a great deal of money and resources suborning intellectuals in Europe and in North America. The story of Encounter magazine and the career of the poet Stephen Spender in Britain is emblematic. Other examples abound. It would be extremely foolish to think the same practices have not persisted and become more sophisticated into the present day.

An example of the way the counter-intelligence network of outright NATO collaborators and fellow travellers works has come to light in relation to Libya. One of the gatekeepers of permissible dissent, the Spanish web site Rebelión, prominently featured an article by Santiago Alba Rico. Like Achcar, Alba Rico is a prominent academic, a specialist on the Arab world in the best traditions of Orientalism. Alba Rico demonstrates that Edward Said’s critical concept of Orientalism can readily involute upon itself for the purposes of neocolonial propaganda.

In the course of his article Alba Rico writes of the situation’s complexity only to drastically simplify it in favour of his point of view. “Even Nato is aware of this complexity as is demonstrated by the fact – as Gilbert Achcar has pointed out – that Libya has been bombed very little, with the aim of lengthening the war and trying to achieve the defeat of the regime without truly breaking with it.” One pictures Achcar and Alba Rico in places like Zliten, or Sirte telling the mourning relatives of dead NATO victims there to stop crying, “After all, you’ve only been bombed a little…”

Only a shameless apologist for NATO would attempt to allege that Libya has been bombed “very little”. On cue, Alba Rico seizes on this and uses Achcar’s grotesque cynical falsehood to pad out his own apology for the colonialist onslaught against the Libyan Jamahiriya. At this point, it is possible to move on from the lies and hypocrisies of these NATO collaborators and fellow travellers and look at their claims for their own intellectual and ethical standards.

One useful source of information about what has really been going on in Libya beyond NATO psy-warfare disinformation reports has been Leonor Massanet. Someone who worked with Rebelión until very recently has confirmed that Santiago Alba Rico engaged in deliberate behind-the-scenes character assassination of Leonor Massanet. Alba Rico’s aim, in which to some extent he clearly succeeded, was to discredit Leonor because her plausible and credible account of events in Libya contradicted his own thoroughly false analysis.

When one comes across cases of people being turned into non-persons or being calumnied in this way, one is at the limits of legitimate intellectual disagreement. Beyond that frontier one, is then dealing with the abuse of power for counter-intelligence purposes to neutralize effective dissent. Right now, the whole world is a vast mess of low-intensity conflict and outright war. The Western elites are determined to dominate the world’s peoples and their natural resources. The activities of NATO fellow-travellers like Gilbert Achcar and Santiago Alba Rico are far from innocent or coincidental.

Here we are faced with the reality of the thorough hypocrisy of the co-opted alternative news and information media. All of them, whether it’s Rope-a-dope [4], Zzzz [5] or Sumisión [6] purport to deliver reliable factual information from a variety of viewpoints. All of them are infested with hypocritical self-regarding phonies who readily suppress views they dislike. They all engage in what Gilbert Achcar would term “Stalinist” censorship and the making of non-persons. Leonor Massanet is far from being the only victim of this pernicious deceitful managerial counter-intelligence manipulated culture.

Psy-warfare’s next offensive : ALBA

Psychological warfare is a vital component of total war. All through the 1980s and 1990s the North American and European NGO sector was systematically co-opted by NATO country governments to serve NATO propaganda ends. In effect, they are the soft extra-mural arm of their countries’ Foreign Ministries, and routinely project those countries’ foreign policies. That reality has been very well documented. It is as true of the structures available to progressive intellectual workers as it is of the NGOs that employ progressive aid and development workers.

The alternative media’s coverage of NATO’s contract putsch-insurrection against the Libya Jamahariya has demonstrated this with the most startling clarity. Along with the Libyan Jamahariya, other perennial victims of their deceit and hypocrisy have been the Sandinista Front for National Liberation in Nicaragua, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia as well as national Communist Parties in general. Presumably, other people devoted to other causes and issues will have had identical experiences.

It is a fact that neocolonial intellectual and cultural networks tend to dominate international anti-imperialist intellectual production. Their members have a vested interest in maintaining the class structure inherent to that production, one that effectively censors argument and maintains strictly policed parameters. The colonial invasion of Libya has demonstrated with absolute clarity that effective anti-imperialism – for example by the FSLN in Nicaragua or the PSUV in Venezuela – is under threat from both the right and the neocolonial left.

After Libya, a likely future target will be Nicaragua. But the NATO elites view Nicaragua as simply an hors d’oeuvre for the main course, Venezuela. The battle for Venezuela began back in 2002 and will get more and more fierce once President Hugo Chavez wins re-election ten years on, in 2012. The international neocolonial Left is hard at work sawing the floor away from under the Sandinista revolutionary process in Nicaragua. Nor is it in any way controversial to say they are busy trying to co-opt the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela. Libya has shown they are capable of any infamy.

SOURCE

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s Speech to the UN

Caracas, Venezuela

September 26th, 2011

Your Excellency, President of the General Assembly:

Honorable Representatives of the Peoples of the World:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I address these words to the United Nations General Assembly, to this great forum where all the peoples of the earth are represented, to express Bolivarian Venezuela’s truths and to reassert our inalienable commitment to justice and equality, that is to say, to peace.

Peace, peace, peace… We do not look for the peace of the cemetery, as said Kant ironically, but a peace based on the most zealous respect for international law. Unfortunately, the UN, through all its history, instead of adding and multiplying efforts in favor of peace among nations, ends up supporting, sometimes through its actions and other times by omission, the most ruthless injustices.

It should always be remembered that  “saving future generations from the scourge of war” is mentioned in the Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations – it’s just a dead letter. From 1945 on, wars have done nothing but inexorably increase and  multiply themselves. We see, once again, Libya destroyed and bloodstained by the will of the powerful.

I want to call on the governments of the world to reflect: since September 11th, 2001, a new and unprecedented imperialist war began, a permanent war, in perpetuity.

We have to look directly at the terrifying reality of the world we live in. It is necessary to ask a series of questions on the basis of the risks and threats we  face: Why is the United States the only country that scatters the planet with military bases? What is it afraid of to allocate such a staggering budget for increasing its military power? Why has it unleashed so many wars, violating the sovereignty of other nations which have the same rights on their own fates? How can international law be enforced against its insensible aspiration to militarily hegemonizing the world in order to ensure energy sources to sustain their predatory and consumer model? Why does the UN do nothing to stop Washington? If we answer these questions sincerely we would understand that the empire has awarded itself the role of judge of the world, without being granted this responsibility by anyone, and, therefore, imperialist war threatens us all.

Washington knows that a multi-polar world is already an irreversible reality. Its strategy consists ofstopping, at any price, the sustained rise of a group of emerging countries, by negotiating great interests with its partners and followers in order to guide multipolarity along the path the empire wants. What is more, the goal is to reconfigure the world so it is based on Yankee military hegemony.

Mankind is facing the very real threat of a permanent war. The empire is ready to create the political conditions for triggering a war anywhere, and the case of Libya proves it. Within the imperial view of the world, the well-known Clausewitz’s axiom is being reversed: politics is the continuation of war by other means.

What is behind this new Armageddon?: the absolute power of the military-financial leadership which is destroying the world in order to accumulate ever more profits; the military-financial leadership which is subordinated, de facto, to an increasingly larger group of States. Keep in mind that war is capital’s modus operandi: the war that ruins the majority and makes richer, up to the unthinkable, a few people.

Right now, there is a very serious threat to global peace: a new cycle of colonial wars, which started in Libya, with the sinister objective of refreshing the capitalist global system, within a structural crisis today, but without any limit to its consumerist and destructive voracity. The case of Libya should alert us to the attempt to implement a new imperial kind of colonialism: that of military interventionism backed by the antidemocratic organisms of the United Nations and justified on the basis of prefabricated media lies.

Humanity is on the brink of an unimaginable catastrophe: the world is marching inexorably toward the most devastating ecocide; global warming and its frightening consequences are announcing it, but their perspective on the ecosystem, which resembles the ideology of the conquistadors Cortés and Pizarro, as the influential French thinker Edgar Morin rightly pointed out, pushes them to continue degrading and destroying. The energy and food crises are sharpening, but capitalism continues to trespass all the limits with impunity.

Given such a meagre outlook, the great U.S. scientist Linus Pauling, awarded the Nobel Prize on two occasions, continues enlightening our path: “I believe that there is a greater power in the world than the evil power of military force, of nuclear bombs  — there is the power of good, of morality, of humanitarianism. I believe in the power of the human spirit”. Let us mobilize all the power of the human spirit: it is time now. It is imperative that we unleash a great political counter-offensive in order to prevent the powers of darkness from finding justifications for going to war, from unleashing a widespread global war through which they attempt to save the western capital.

Venezuela calls for the establishment of a broad alliance for peace and against war, with the supreme aim of avoiding war at all costs. The warmongers, and especially the military-financial leadership that sponsors and leads them, must be defeated.

Let’s build the balance of the universe foreseen by the Liberator, Simón Bolívar – the balance that, according to his words, cannot be found within war; the balance that is born out of peace.

It is necessary to remember that Venezuela, alongside the member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), was actively advocating for a peaceful and negotiated solution to the Libyan conflict. That is also what the African  Union did. However, in the end, the logic of war decreed by the UN Security Council and put into practice by NATO, the armed wing of the Yankee empire, was imposed. The logic of war having its spearhead in corporate mass media: let us bear in mind

that the “Libyan Case” was brought before the Security Council on the basis of an intense propaganda by the western mass media, who lied about the alleged  bombing of innocent civilians by the Libyan Air Force, not to mention the grotesque media setting of the Green Square of Tripoli. This premeditated bunch of lies was used to justify irresponsible and hasty decisions by the Security Council, which paved the way for NATO’s military regime change policy in Libya.

It is worthwhile to ask: What has the no-fly zone established by Security Council resolution 1973 become? How could NATO perform more than 20,000 missions against the Libyan people if there was a no-fly zone? After the Libyan Air Force was completely annihilated, the continued “humanitarian” bombing shows that the West, through NATO, intends to impose their interests in North Africa, turning Libya into a colonial protectorate.

How can we say that an arms embargo was imposed on Libya when it was NATO itself that introduced thousands of heavy weapons to support a violent upheaval against that country’s legitimate government?

The embargo was, of course, meant to prevent the Libyan government from defending its sovereignty.

This demonstrates, once again, the cruel logic of international relations, where the law only applies to the weak. What is the real reason for this military intervention?: Recolonizing Libya in order to capture its wealth.

Everything else is related to this goal.  “Nobody colonizes innocently,” as the great Martinican poet Aimé Césaire said, quite rightly, in his extraordinary essay called “Discours sur le colonialisme.”

By the way: the Residence of the Venezuelan Ambassador in Tripoli was invaded and looted, and the UN kept it to itself, remaining ignominiously silent.

We call for the immediate cessation of bombing operations in Libyan territory. Similarly, we will continue calling for respect for international law in the case of this sister nation. We will not remain silent in light of the evil intention of destroying the basis of its sense and reason. Therefore, we ask this Assembly: Why is the Libyan seat in the UN granted  to the “national transitional council,” while the admission of Palestine is blocked by ignoring, not only its lawful aspiration, but also the existing will of the majority of the General Assembly? Venezuela hereby ratifies its unconditional solidarity with the Palestinian people and its total support for the Palestinian national cause, which naturally includes the immediate admission of Palestine as a full member state within the United Nations.

And the same imperialist pattern is being repeated regarding Syria. If some permanent members of the Security Council had not taken the firm stance that was missing in the case of Libya, it would have authorized shooting missiles and bombs in Syria.

It is intolerable that the powerful of this world intend to claim for themselves the right to order legitimate and sovereign governments’ rulers to step down. This was the case in Libya, and they want to do the same in Syria. Such are the existing asymmetries in the international setting and such are the abuses against the weakest nations.

It is not for us to bring forward a conclusive judgment about the national situation in Syria; first, because of the inherent complexity of any national reality and, second, because only the Syrian people can solve their problems and decide their fate in light of the people’s right to self-determination, which is an inalienable right in all respects.

If we direct our eyes to the Horn of Africa we will witness a heartbreaking example of the UN’s historical failure: most serious news agencies report that 20-29,000 children under the age of 5 have died in the last three months.

The great journalist Frida Modak, in her article, “To Die in Somalia,” reveals all the misery there, which is worse than that ravaging the rest of the vast region of the Horn of Africa, and which undermines the role of large international organizations, the UN in the first place. She writes: “What is needed to face this situation is $400 million, not to solve the problem, but just to address the emergency that Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia are going through. According to all sources, the next two months will be crucial to prevent more than 12 million people from dying, and the worst situation is that of Somalia.”

This reality could not be more atrocious, especially if, at the same time, we ask ourselves how much is being spent to destroy Libya. This is the answer of U.S. congressman Dennis Kucinich, who said: “This new war will cost us $500 million during its first week alone. Obviously, we do not have financial resources for that and we will end up cutting off other important domestic programs’ funding.”

According to Kucinich himself, with the amount spent during the first three weeks in Northern Africa to massacre the Libyan people, much could have been done to help the entire region of the Horn of Africa,saving tens of thousands of lives.

The reasons behind the criminal military engagement in Libya are not humanitarian at all: they are based on the Malthusian notion that “there are just too many people in the world” and they have to be eliminated by generating more hunger, destruction and uncertainty, and creating – at the same time –more financial profits. In this regard, it is frankly regrettable that in the opening address of the 66th General Assembly of the UN, an immediate appeal to solve humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa was not made, while instead we were assured that “the time has come to act” on Syria.

As of 2010, 19 UN General Assembly votes confirm the universal will demanding that the United States stop the economic and trade blockade against Cuba. Since all sensible international arguments have been exhausted, we have no choice but to believe that such cruel actions against the Cuban Revolution result from imperial arrogance in view of the dignity and courage shown by the unsubmissive Cuban people in their sovereign decision to determine their own fate and fight for their happiness.

From Venezuela, we believe it is time to demand of the U.S. not only an immediate and unconditional end to the criminal blockade imposed against the Cuban people, but also the release of the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters held hostage in the prisons of the American Empire for the sole reason of seeking to prevent the illegal actions of terrorist groups against Cuba, under the shelter of the U.S. government.

From Venezuela, we believe it is time to demand the United States not only the immediate and unconditional end to the criminal blockade imposed against the Cuban peoples, but also the release of the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters held hostage in the prisons of the American Empire for the sole reason of seeking to prevent the illegal actions that terrorist groups prepare against Cuba, under the shelter of the Government of the United States.

Mr. President of the General Assembly and distinguished representatives of the peoples of the world: We want to reiterate that it is impossible to ignore the crisis of the UN. Before this same General Assembly we expressed, back in 2005, that the UN model had been exhausted. Back then, we also expressed the urgent need for it to be rebuilt.

Up until now, nothing has been done. The political will of the powerful has prevailed. Certainly, the UN, in its current functioning, docilely serves their interests. For us, it is obvious that the UN is not improving, nor will it improve from the inside. If the Secretary General, along with the President of the International Criminal Court, take part in an act of war, as in the case of Libya, nothing can be expected from the current structure of this organization and there is no longer time for reform. The UN does not accept any reform whatsoever; the illness at its core is deadly.

It is unbearable that there is a Security Council that turns its back, whenever it wants to, on the clamor of the majority of nations by deliberately failing to acknowledge the will of the General Assembly. If the Security Council is some sort of club with privileged members, what can the General Assembly do?

Where is its room for manoeuvre, when Security Council members violate international law?

Paraphrasing Bolívar when he spoke of nascent Yankee imperialism in 1818, we have had enough of the weak following the law while the strong commit abuses. It cannot be us, the peoples of the South, who respect international law while the North violates it, destroying and plundering us.

If we do not make a commitment, once and for all, to rebuilding the United Nations, this organization will lose its remaining credibility. Its crisis of legitimacy will be accelerated until it finally implodes. In fact, that is what happened to its immediate predecessor: the League of Nations.

A crucial first step in rebuilding the United Nations would be to eliminate the category of permanent members and veto power within the Security Council. Likewise, the decision-making power of the General Assembly must be maximized democratically. We also require an immediate, in-depth revision of the UN Charter with the aim of drafting a new Charter.

Peoples of the World:

The future of a multi-polar world, in peace, resides in us, in the organization of the majority of the people on earth to defend ourselves against the new colonialism, in order to achieve a balance in the universe that is capable of neutralizing imperialism and arrogance.

This broad, generous, respectful, and inclusive call is addressed to all the peoples of the world, but especially to the emerging powers of the South, which must assume, with courage, the role that they are called on to play immediately.

From Latin America and the Caribbean, powerful and dynamic regional alliances have emerged, seeking to shape a regional democratic space, respectful of differences and eager to emphasize solidarity and complementarity in order to foster the ties that bind us and settle what keeps us apart politically. And this new regionalism allows for diversity and respects the various rhythms of nation. Thus, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) advances as an avant-garde experiment of progressive and anti-imperialist governments, seeking ways to break the prevailing international order and strengthening the capacity of the people to face, together, the prevailing powers. But this does not prevent its members from making an enthusiastic push for the consolidation of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), a political bloc that federates the 12 sovereign States of South America with the purpose of grouping them under what the Liberator Simón Bolívar called “a Nation of Republics.”

Furthermore, the 33 countries of Latin America and  the Caribbean are currently preparing to take the historic step of establishing a great regional entity that joins us all, without exclusions, where we  can together design the policies that will ensure our wellbeing, our independence, and our sovereignty, on the basis of equality, solidarity, and complementarity. Caracas, the capital of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is proud to host, next December 2nd and 3rd, the Summit of Heads of State and Government that will establish, definitively, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

The people of Venezuela place our hopes on a broad alliance among the regional organizations of the South, such as the Union of South American Nations  (UNASUR), CARICOM (the Caribbean Community), SICA (the System of Central American Integration), the African Union, ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) or ECO (the Economic Coordination Organization), and especially the cross-regional instances of coordination among emerging powers, such as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), which should become a pole of influence in coordination with the peoples of the South.

I want to conclude by remembering the great Venezuelan singer, Alí Primera. In one of his songs he asks us: “What is man’s struggle to achieve peace? And what peace, if they want to leave the world just as it is?” Today more than ever before, the worst crime against peace is to leave the world as it is: if we leave the world as it is, the present and future will be determined by perpetual war. On the contrary, to quote Alí Primera, achieving peace involves radically reversing all that impedes humanity from being humane.

Hugo Chávez Frías, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Negotiated Release of US Hikers from Iran

By Eva Golinger, September 22nd 2011

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has confirmed the release of Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer was in large part due to the request and mediation efforts of President Chavez

Iran’s release of US citizens Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer on Wednesday, September 21, made headlines worldwide, but little details were initially provided regarding the reasons behind their liberation. The Iranian Foreign Ministry has now publicy affirmed the release of Fattal and Bauer was in response to requests made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, along with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of state of Iraq and Oman.

The two US citizens were originally detained on July 31, 2009, along with Sarah Shroud, after they were caught by Iranian border guards who claimed they had entered Iranian territory without authorization. The three young US citizens alleged they were hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan, a touristy area for outdoor activities that borders Iran, and were kidnapped by the Iranian security forces while on Iraqi territory.

They were immediately taken to Tehran and jailed, accused of espionage and illegal entry into the country. After more than a year in detention, Sarah Shroud was released on $500,000 bail last September 14, 2010, on humanitarian grounds due to a health condition.

The trial against the three US citizens began on February 6, 2011, without the presence of Shroud, who remained in the US with her family, fighting for the release of her two friends, one of whom, Shane, became her fianceé while in prison. On August 20, 2011, Bauer and Fattal were convicted of “illegal entry” and “espionage” by the Iranian court and sentenced to a prison term of 8 years. Spying typically carries a death sentence in Iran.

During the past few weeks, rumors circulated regarding the imminent release of the two “US hikers”, as they’ve been referred to by news media. Their lawyer in Iran, Masoud Shafiei, had announced to the press that despite their 8-year sentence, they would soon be released.

In early September, Iranian President Ahmadinejad affirmed that by unilateral humanitarian gesture, he would request release of Bauer and Fattal, and on September 21, the two left the Iranian prison, where they had been held for more than two years, to finally go home.

VENEZUELAS ROLE

While the US government failed to facilitate in anyway the release of the three US hikers, Venezuela played a key role. Soon after the initial detention of the hikers, an informal request was made to President Hugo Chavez to intervene on behalf of the three US citizens, based on Venezuela’s close ties with Iran. Chavez, who formerly and successfully mediated the release of several hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2007-2008, including several US citizens, agreed to get involved.

Over the past year and a half, Venezuela has played a key role in mediating and negotiating the release of Bauer and Fattal. Pleas were also made directly to President Chavez requesting his involvement in the release of the hikers by US author Noam Chomsky and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, along with Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn and other allies of Venezuela.

While Chavez made the request to release Bauer and Fattal directly to President Ahmadinejad, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry dealt with the details of the mediation process for their liberation.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement a day after the release on Thursday, September 22, confirming the important role Venezuelan President Chavez played in the release of Bauer and Fattal.

“The statement said that after the completion of the judicial processing, the Islamic Republic of Iran released the other two on bail again due to Islamic kindness and affection and in order to show respect for the mediation efforts made by several world leaders, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and top authorities of several friendly states like Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Omani King Sultan Qaboos as well as a number of religious figures, who have all requested their freedom”, reported FNA.

According to Venezuelan officials, President Chavez’s involvement in mediating the release of Bauer and Fattal was a “pure, humanitarian gesture of solidarity”.

Once again, President Chavez has played a major role in assuring the freedom of US citizens imprisoned for different reasons around the world.

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