Category Archives: Colombia

Why Trump Is a Disaster: Latin American Foreign Policy

Zamfir: I’m surprised you have a strong preference for Democrats over Republicans. To me it seems like a hopeless choice. If you vote Republican you’re voting for one set of evil elite interests, but not explicitly against your biology and cultural heritage; if you vote Republican you’re voting for another set of evil elite interests, and explicitly against your biology and cultural heritage.

Hard to pick between those two! What is the real advantage in voting Democrat in your opinion? (I guess I’d vote for Bernie, but then again I’d vote for Trump for similar reasons… Not that I expect either one would ever do much on anything I care about.)

He rolled back our open policy on Cuba, another example of his hatred of the Left. He said Cuba did sonic attacks on our diplomats. It’s a lie. They don’t even understand the technology needed to do something like that.

Trump supported an obviously stolen election in Honduras and the next day directed a lot of foreign aid their way. It’s a death squad dictatorship where the murder the people all the time so the rich can stay in power.

Trump supports Colombia and he has just made Colombia, the most right-wing country on Earth, a member of NATO! It is a death squad dictatorship, the worst one on Earth, that kills the people almost every other day. The rebels disarmed but now the government comes out and murders the people all the time and there’s no way for the people to fight back.

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The Rich Only Support Democracy when the Elected State Serves their Class Interests, Otherwise They Try to Overthrow It

Zamfir: Thanks Robert. I appreciate the site, and it’s nice to feel welcome.

Obviously one problem in discussing this is that terms like ‘left’ and ‘right’ or ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ have been given all kinds of different meanings. If economic conservatism is identified with free market ideology then I’m pretty ambivalent about that, at best. And if it’s identified with support for whatever this internationalist economic system is that we have now, I’m against it.

I find it very weird that people who are conservative about social and cultural issues often support “economic conservatism” of that kind. It’s so clear that these things are incompatible! Anyway I certainly have no problem with socialism per se. I would only disagree with certain versions, or cases where I believe socialism ends up being destructive of healthy families and cultures (in much the same way that capitalism can be).

As for democracy I’m not sure what I think about it. I think I’m a reactionary to the extent that I don’t believe that democracy, or any other specific system or procedure, is always good or always essential to a good society. My sense is that some democracies or kinds of democracy are fine, while others are really bad. It all depends on some many factors aside from the system or procedure itself.

I do want a society where the interests of most people, including the poor, are taken into account fairly. But I don’t see any reason why that could never happen in a non-democratic state. Or, more precisely, for anything that’s good about some democracies, I don’t see why certain non-democratic regimes couldn’t also have those good things; it would all depend on other factors such as the culture and history of the people, their typical behavior and beliefs, etc.

So I guess I’d support coups against democratic regimes in some cases–though things would have to be pretty bad–and also against non-democratic regimes in some cases. I don’t think coups are always bad. (In fact, that’s one thing that seems silly about a lot of rigid ‘conservative’ ideology–the wish to preserve order and the status quo no matter how terrible it’s become…)

You say the rich don’t support democracy. I wonder if that’s true. Maybe they don’t support the ideal of democracy, for the reasons you mentioned. But, again, bearing in mind the looseness of terminology here, they sure do seem to support systems that we normally call “democratic”. Is the US a democracy in your view?

Are England or Ireland or Canada democracies? If so, then I don’t agree that the rich never want democracy. My sense is that they long ago figured out how to manipulate these kinds of systems to get the results they want. They manage the perceptions and values of the masses so that they always end up “freely choosing” the same garbage that the elites wanted all along.

A good question is whether this is an inevitable feature of democracy. (I don’t know the answer.) It could be that in any feasible form of democracy, no matter how close it gets to the ideal, you end up with powerful interests rigging the process to maximize their own wealth and power. And I don’t like that, because I want the interests of ordinary people to be taken into account. Ironically, then, I’m skeptical about many forms of democracy because I think the masses deserve to have a say.

So I’d be against democracy in cases where ‘democratic’ systems are hijacked by elites and used against the people. That’s what’s happening in most of the western world, I’d say. Not to say I’d support a coup in this situation–and certainly not if the point of the coup was to install an even more extreme form of exploitation. But I’m not entirely sure what to say about democracy. I think the reactionary critique has merit. (But then, don’t communists also criticize democracy for roughly similar reasons?)

The Communist view is that seeking power peacefully would be a great idea except the ruling classes will never allow it to happen. They say that power never gives up without a fight, and I believe that they are correct. Nevertheless, most Communists support Venezuela, Nicaragua and only leftwing democratic countries. But the Communists would say, “Look what happens why you try to take power peacefully. You get Nicaragua, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Honduras, Haiti, and even Argentina.”

The ruling class will just overthrow the democratic Left state any way they can, always using anti-democratic means to do so. That’s why Lenin called people who supported the peaceful road to socialism “parliamentary cretins.” He thought it was a great idea but it would never work because the rich would never allow the Left to take power peacefully.

The Communist view is also that you never have democracy under capitalism anyway, as the capitalists and the rich always ending ruling the state one way or another through all sorts of means. And yes, the rich and the capitalists always take over all the media in any capitalist country as you said, they use it to shape the view of the people to support the class politics of the rich. Such support being called false consciousness.

Gramsci said that the ruling class took over the entire culture in capitalist countries and brainwashed the masses into supporting the project of the rich. They did this via cultural hegemony. Marx said that the culture of the rich is always the popular culture in any capitalist country. So the ruling class turns all of us into “little rich people” or “little capitalists” to support their project. They brainwash us into thinking we are the same class as the rich and that we are all capitalists ourselves, so we should support Capital. These are lies, but most Americans are easily fooled.

Ralph Nader called this “going corporate” or “thinking corporate.” He says that in the US, most people adopt the mindset of the corporations and think of themselves are part of the corporate structure whether they are or not. If everyone is part of the corporate structure, then what’s good for corporations is good for all of us, which is the project of the Republican Party, neoliberalism everywhere, the Latin American rich, etc. It’s a big fat lie, but people want to be rich and a lot of workers want to think of themselves are busy little capitalist money-making, go-getter, can-do, Bossterist entrepreneurs because it seems to cool to own your own business.

And the Communists would call this false consciousness and their argument would be that under capitalism, most people adopt false consciousness.

I think in the US, the rich see the tide coming and the rule of the rich is going to end so they want to lock in as much of the state as possible by stacking the courts, gutting the safety net, massive tax cuts that will be impossible to get rid of, and that Constitutional Convention they are two states away from getting where they want to rewrite the whole US Constitution to lock in rule by the rich for as long as possible. The rich see the writing on the wall. That’s why they came up with the computerized elections scam, so they could steal elections as long as people kept voting against the rich.

The gerrymandering of districts now makes it almost impossible to get rid of Republican majorities on state representatives in the House and in Senators and Assemblymen in the states. It’s all locked in.

So as the rich saw the tide turning and demographics moving against them, they instituted a full court press to do all sorts of extremely anti-democratic stuff to stay in power. If the people would just vote for them anyway, they would not have to do that, but apparently most Americans have now turned away from the politics of the rich, so the rich will have to lie, cheat, and steal to stay in power from now on.

Also they elected Donald Trump, by far the most corrupt, authoritarian and even outright fascist leader this country has ever had. And this follows too. Whenever there is a popular movement against the rich and the capitalists, the rich and the capitalists always, always, always resort of fascism to stay in power. This has been proven endlessly over time, even in Europe. Trotsky had some great things to say about this. Check out “Thermidor.” Trotsky truly understood what fascism was all about. It is a desperate last ditch move by the ruling class to seize power in the face of an uprising from the Left.

The rich and the capitalists are determined to stay in power, by hook or by crook, by any means necessary, and they will lie, cheat, steal and kill as many people as they have to just to keep the Left out of power. They simply will not allow the Left to rule. They must rule and if they are out of  power, they will use any antidemocratic means to get power back.

Which is the story of the CIA, the Pentagon and 100% of US foreign policy since 1945 and even before then. Read Samuel Butler.

I mean, we on the Left generally allow the Right to take power if they do so democratically. Sure they destroy everything like they always do, but most of us are committed to the democratic means of seeking power. Even most Communist parties will not take up arms against any rightwing government, saying they prefer to seek power by peaceful means. Typically, the CP will issue a statement that the nation is not in a revolutionary situation right now. There are objective conditions under which a nation is said to be in a revolutionary situation. I’m sure you can recall a few. It is then and only then that most CP’s will go underground and issue a call to take up arms.

Frankly, almost all Left insurgencies postwar were defensive. The Left allowed the Right to take power and then the Right started running around killing people. Usually the Left sat there for a while and let themselves get killed before taking up power. I know the Viet Cong just sat there from 1954-1960 while the rightwing Vietnamese government ran amok in the countryside, murdering 80,000 Communists in six years. They kept asking the North Vietnamese for permission to take up arms, but the North kept denying it.

The Colombian, Salvadoran and Guatemalan guerrillas only took up guns after the state had been running about murdering them unarmed for years. The Salvadoran guerrillas said they got tired of sitting in their homes waiting for the rightwing state to come kill them, and they decided that if the state was going to come kill them anyway, they might as well pick up a gun and defend themselves. They also took up arms because the Right kept stealing elections by fraud.

The Right had cut off all methods of seeking power peacefully, so the Left picked up guns. The message is if you elect a leftwing government, sooner or later the Right will overthrow it and then there will be a reign of terror where many Leftists will be murdered. Knowing that, if you were a Leftist in some country, would you not be afraid to put the Left in power knowing you stood a good chance of being murdered once the inevitable rightwing coup took place?

The Colombian and Honduran governments only stay in power by killing people. Lots of people. The Greek Communists only took up arms after the government had been killing them for some time.

Also once a Left government is overthrown by the rich and the capitalists, the new Rightist government institutes a reign of terror where they slaughter the defeated Left for many years. This went on for decades after 1954 in Guatemala, and it goes on still today. After Aristide was overthrown, the rightwing government murdered 3,000 of his supporters.

After Allende was overthrown, Pinochet murdered 15,000 people over a decade and a half. A threat from the Left prompted the Indonesian government to fake a Left coup and murder 1 million Communists in a couple of months. Even before the Korean War broke out, from 1948-1950, the South Korean government killed hundreds of thousands of Communists in the South.

As they withdrew when the North attacked, the South Koreans killed South Korean Communists everywhere they went. After the fascist coup in Argentina, the government decimated the Left, murdering 30,000 mostly unarmed supporters of the Left. The same thing happened in Bolivia with the Banzer Plan when Hugo Banzer took power after the tin miners briefly sought power. The new rightwing government in Brazil is already starting to murder members of the former Left ruling party. They’re not going to stop.

After the fascist coup in Ukraine, the Communist Party was outlawed and many of its members were murdered. War was declared on labor unions. Workers in one union were chained to a heater inside the building and the building was set on fire.

The party supported by half the population (the Russian speakers and their supporters) the Party of Regions, was outlawed, a number of its deputies were murdered and there were attempts to murder the leader of the party, lastly by setting his house on fire which set his neighbor’s house on fire instead. He fled to Russia. Now half the population and all of the Russian speakers had not party to represent them, which is why they took up arms. They were locked out of power.

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Should the Rich and the Reactionaries Be Given Rights?

Sisera: So what does that mean then? You believe rich people are inherently oppressors who don’t deserve rights but then White men are okay?

Most of them are oppressors, of course. Don’t you even understand class politics or the nature of capitalism at all. Those rich people who are pursuing their economic self interests in the class war, well of course they are our oppressors. The oppressors of me and mine anyway. I suppose they see us as oppressors.

Marxist theory doesn’t say that anyway. It just says that when the rich pursue their self interests in the class war, everyone who’s not rich gets fucked. You want to call that oppression? You are welcome to. If you side with the rich, you are an idiot. Why would you side with your class enemies. Most of them are oppressors, of course. Don’t you even understand class politics or the nature of capitalism at all.

Those rich people who are pursuing their economic self interests in the class war, well of course they are our oppressors. The oppressors of me and mine anyway. I suppose they see us as oppressors. Marxist theory doesn’t say that anyway. It just says that when the rich pursue their self interests in the class war, everyone who’s not rich gets fucked. You want to call that oppression? You are welcome to. If you side with the rich, you are an idiot. Why would you side with your class enemies?

The rich are our class enemies. Does that mean they oppress us? I dunno. When they’re in power, they screw us over. All of the rich hate democracy, lie like rugs, and support violence, murder, terror, genocide, coups, and dictatorships anywhere the people take power.

Personally, I think all conservatives and reactionaries are pure filth. I wish they would all drop dead tomorrow. That way they would be where they belong: in graves. They’re nothing but pure garbage. Show me a reactionary or conservative anywhere on Earth that’s actually a human and not a lying, sadistic, murderous piece of scum. There aren’t any!

In a democratic society, of course the rich get their rights, but they abuse the fuck out of them, and anytime they people take power, the rich start using violence, coups, death squads, rioting, judicial and legislative coups, etc. to get their way. We let the rich take power all the time. They won’t let us take power at all. I’m glad the Chinese Communists took away the rights of the reactionaries.

Look what would happen if they had rights? See Venezuela, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Honduras, Haiti, Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Philippines? That’s what happens when you give the rich and the reactionaries any rights at all. Right now they would be burning China to the ground like they are doing to Venezuela and Nicaragua because they are furious that a people’s government got put in.

If that’s the way they are always, always, always going to act, why give them rights? So they can destroy your country and take down any democratically elected government they don’t believe in?

They try to destroy by antidemocratic means any people’s or popular government any time it gets in.

And when they take power themselves, they usually put in a dictatorship.

This is what happens if they don’t get their way and the people elect a democratically elected people’s government:

Attempted coups by street violence: Nicaragua, Ukraine, Syria, and Thailand.

Attempted coups by economic warfare: Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Nicaragua.

Coups by legislative means: Paraguay and Brazil.

Attempted legislative coup: Venezuela.

Coups by judicial means: Brazil.

Coups by direct overthrow of the state: Honduras, Haiti, Venezuela, and Egypt.

Attempted coups by direct overthrow of the state: Ecuador and Bolivia.

Coup by insurgency: Haiti.

Attempted coup by insurgency: Syria.

Coups by direct invasion: Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Panama, Libya, and Grenada.

This is what happens every time they get into power, especially if they take over a people’s government: 

Right-wing death squad authoritarian regime installed: Honduras*, El Salvador, Argentina, Brazil*, Guatemala*, Chile, Philippines*, Uruguay, Bolivia, Indonesia*, and Ukraine*.

No I don’t have a problem taking away rights from reactionary fucks! Why should we give them rights? Give me one reason! One! One reason!

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Why Do Some Countries Lack a Class Conscious Working Class?

John Engelman: Contrary to what Karl Marx said, for most people most of the time loyalties of nation, race and ethnicity are stronger than loyalties of class. The working class in the United States has always been more diverse than the working class in European countries. It is becoming more diverse with the influx of non whites.

To get class consciousness you really need a homogeneous working class. It helps if the working class is ethnically distinct from the upper class. In Scotland the upper class is English, or Anglicized Scottish. That is to say Scottish, but educated in England, and often speaking with English accents.

The clear majority of Scots vote for the British Labour Party. English workers are more likely to vote for the British Conservative Party.

The argument is circular in a sense because as you look around the world, generally what you see in most cases is an ethnically homogenous working class.

Would you describe the working classes of Latin America as homogeneous or diverse? They seem to be a mixture of White, Indian and Black and the mestizo, mulatto and Zambo mixtures, correct? Yet the diverse working classes down there have high working class consciousness despite their diverse nature.

Aren’t North African and Gulf countries fairly mixed between Blacks and Arabs?

Certainly in Arabia, lands with diverse working classes of Kurds, Arabs and Iranian working classes are all very left.

I believe Sri Lanka even with the vicious Tamil versus Sinhalese war, the diverse working class is leftwing. In Burma the working class is very left although there have been wild ethnic wars sputtering on for decades.

In Russia and other nations of the former USSR, there are many ethnic minorities, but the workers are still working class.

A recent exception is Ukraine where workers have gone radical Right. The former Yugoslavia is still very leftwing even after all of the ethnic conflict and even slaughter of past years. Spain’s working class is very radical despite an armed conflict in the Basque region and separatists in Catalonia. The different religions hate each other in North Ireland, but the Scottish Protestant workers are as class conscious as the Irish Catholic ones. Switzerland is divided between three ethnic groups – French, Germans, and Italians – yet it is a very leftwing country.

The extreme tribalism in Africa has not prevented the working classes from being class conscious.

Is the working class of England voting Tory yet? Or do you just mean that they are more likely to vote Tory than the Scots are?

Most workers in Europe, Arabia, North Africa, Africa, the former USSR, China, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Japan, South Korea, Nepal are the same ethnicity as the ruling classes of those places, yet workers have a high degree of class consciousness in all of those places.

The places where working class consciousness has been harder to develop were those that had a Chinese ruling class as in Philippines and Indonesia.

I think we need to come up with some better theories about the poor class consciousness of the US working class. If you are looking for examples elsewhere, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Australia, the Baltics and Colombia are places with quite poor working class consciousness.

In Australia it is recent as US style conservatism is imported.

A similar trend is underway in Canada and has been since Thatcher in the UK. But the UK is in nearly a revolutionary situation. A lot of the working classes are militant and radicalized, while a lot of the country has at the same time gone Tory. When Thatcher died, there were anti-rich riots in housing estates across the land. Thatcher was burned in effigy in the streets. Can you imagine that happening in the US?

The recent riots in the UK also had a class undercurrent. I was dating a British woman at the time, and she told me that local storeowners who treated the community well were spared by rioters. Rioters focused on stores selling upscale goods to the rich. Many corporate outlets were also smashed.

She told me that a number of those outlets had a reputation for not paying taxes to the UK by hiding money offshore. She said the rioters knew who those companies were, and they were brutally singled out. Many outlets were burned to the ground. Can you imagine heavily Black rioters in the US having class consciousness like that?

The Baltics are a case of entire nations full of complete idiots who hate Communism so much that they went into an extreme overreaction against Communism and turned against anything socialist, left, liberal or mildly progressive. Fascist heroes including many Nazis with a lot of Jewish blood on their hands were celebrated. Communist parties were outlawed, and Russian minorities were viciously maltreated.

Radical rightwingers were elected in all of these lands, and Chicago Boys Friedmanite experiments were undertaken. The results were predictable. In the recent economic crash, the most neoliberal European countries were the most devastated of all. Estonia was eviscerated, and Latvia was almost wiped off the map. 1/3 of the Latvian population left the country, including almost all of the educated people.

The Philippines and Indonesian cases are up for discussion, but these are Latin American situations of a ruling class of a different ethnicity than the working classes holding forth brutally and anti-democratically over the people. In addition, the workers have little consciousness.

Taiwan has a similar legacy where extreme hatred of Communism resulted in being ruled by reactionary fascist anti-Communists for decades. There is a nascent Left now, but it has little power yet. The wealth of the country seems to have gotten in the way of working class consciousness. Probably the extreme anti-Communism helped too, as any working class movement could be quickly portrayed as Communist.

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Why the US Working Class Is Not Radicalized

Radicalized meaning having any sort of working class or class consciousness at all. Radicalized meaning pro-worker. Yes, believe it or not, the US working class is not even pro-worker. The US working class is actually anti-worker!

The problem is that we do not have a tradition of working class radicalism here as in Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. Working class people in all of those countries are radicalized and pro-worker with a high state of class consciousness and they usually vote for pro-worker political parties.

Mexicans, however, are profoundly depoliticized.

Nevertheless, you can argue as my mother does when I asked her why the Central American revolutions were not spreading to Mexico, to which she responded that “The Mexicans already had their revolution.” And though the Left neglects to see it this way, the Mexican Revolution was definitely one of the great leftwing revolutions of the 20th Century, at least as good as the Russian Revolution and without many of the problems. Most people don’t realize how horrible feudal life was in Mexico before the Mexican Revolution. If I told you what it was like, you would quit reading and call me a liar. It was that bad.

In Latin America, your average proletarian, working class person, who, let’s face it, is not real smart, is often ideologically Leftist, as they have been politicized by powerful leftwing movements. There are no powerful leftwing movements in the US to do this, so the non-White working classes are not radicalized. They are liberalized but not radicalized.

The White working classes are actually ideologically Rightist, which makes no sense at all of course.

However, I have met many Salvadorans here. I tell them that I used to support the FMLN revolutionaries down there and that I even used to contribute to their weapons fund. It’s actually true. I would meet a guy in a sleazy Salvadoran bar in Lafayette Park and give him a check to some weird cryptic organization. They are hesitant at first but then they break into wide smiles. Even those who did not support the FMLN don’t really care that I did. That movement was radical Left but had huge support across society because Salvadoran society is very unfair.

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Regime Change Fails: Is a Military Coup or Invasion of Venezuela Next?

Great article from Global Research on US machinations against Venezuela. I am not sure if the US would invade Venezuela, but under Trump, all bets are off. The man is a lunatic and so is his insane political party and he and they are capable of anything. However, if we invaded Venezuela, it would set off a big war because a lot of Venezuelans would fight back.

Chavez has distributed guns and all sorts of arms to his supporters in the barrios and rural areas. These Chavista militias train all the time.

The Venezuelan Military would not surrender. Chavez purged the ranks of all of the rightwingers and he stacked the officer corps with his supporters. This was after the first coup when the officer corps supported the coup but the rank and file soldiers did not. That and countless armed masses marching on government buildings reversed the coup quite quickly.

Speaking at his alma mater, the University of Texas, on February 1, Secretary of State Tillerson suggested a potential military coup in VenezuelaTillerson then visited allied Latin American countries urging regime change and more economic sanctions on Venezuela. Tillerson is considering banning the processing or sale of Venezuelan oil in the United States and is discouraging other countries from buying Venezuelan oil. Further, the US is laying the groundwork for war against Venezuela.

In a series of tweets, Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican from Florida, where many Venezuelan oligarchs live, called for a military coup in Venezuela.

How absurd — remove an elected president with a military coup to restore democracy? Does that pass the straight face test? This refrain of Rubio and Tillerson seems to be the nonsensical public position of US policy.

The US has been seeking regime change in Venezuela since Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998. Trump joined Presidents Obama and Bush before him in continuing efforts to change the government and put in place a US-friendly oligarch government.

They came closest in 2002 when a military coup removed Chavez. The Commander-in-Chief of the Venezuelan military announced Chavez had resigned and Pedro Carmona, of the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce, became interim president. Carmona dissolved the National Assembly and Supreme Court and declared the Constitution void. The people surrounded the presidential palace and seized television stations, and Carmona resigned and fled to Colombia. Within 47 hours, civilians and the military restored Chavez to the presidency. The coup was a turning point that strengthened the Bolivarian Revolution and showed people could defeat a coup and exposed the US and oligarchs.

US Regime Change Tactics Have Failed In Venezuela

The US and oligarchs continue their efforts to reverse the Bolivarian Revolution. The US has a long history of regime change around the world and has tried all of its regime change tools in Venezuela. So far they have failed.

Economic War

Destroying the Venezuelan economy has been an ongoing campaign by the US and oligarchs. It is reminiscent of the US coup in Chile which ended the presidency of Salvador Allende. To create the environment for the Chilean coup, President Nixon ordered the CIA to “make the economy scream.”

Henry Kissinger devised the coup, noting a billion dollars of investment were at stake. He also feared the “the insidious model effect” of the example of Chile leading to other countries breaking from the United States and capitalism. Kissinger’s top deputy at the National Security Council, Viron Vaky, opposed the coup, saying,

“What we propose is patently a violation of our own principles and policy tenets .… If these principles have any meaning, we normally depart from them only to meet the gravest threat . . . our survival.”

These objections hold true regarding recent US coups, including in Venezuela and Honduras, Ukraine, and Brazil, among others. Allende died in the coup and wrote his last words to the people of Chile, especially the workers, “Long live the people! Long live the workers!” He was replaced by Augusto Pinocheta brutal and violent dictator.

For decades the US has been fighting an economic war, “making the economy scream,” in Venezuela. Wealthy Venezuelans have been conducting economic sabotage aided by the US with sanctions and other tactics. This includes hoarding food, supplies and other necessities in warehouses or in Colombia, while Venezuelan markets are bare. The scarcity is used to fuel protests, e.g. “The March of the Empty Pots,” a carbon copy of marches in Chile before the September 11, 1973 coup. Economic warfare has escalated through Obama and under Trump, with Tillerson now urging economic sanctions on oil.

President Maduro recognized the economic hardship but also said sanctions open up the opportunity for a new era of independence and “begin the stage of post-domination by the United States, with Venezuela again at the center of this struggle for dignity and liberation.” The second-in-command of the Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello, said,

 “[if they] apply sanctions, we will apply elections.”

Opposition Protests

Another common US regime change tool is supporting opposition protests. The Trump administration renewed regime change operations in Venezuela, and the anti-Maduro protests which began under Obama grew more violent. The opposition protests included barricades, snipers, and murders, as well as widespread injuries. When police arrested those using violence, the US claimed Venezuela opposed free speech and protests.

The opposition tried to use the crackdown against violence to achieve the US tactic of  dividing the military. The US and Western media ignored opposition violence and blamed the Venezuelan government instead. Violence became so extreme it looked like the opposition was pushing Venezuela into a Syrian-type civil war. Instead, opposition violence backfired on them.

Violent protests are part of US regime change repertoire. This was demonstrated in the US coup in Ukraine, where the US spent $5 billion to organize government opposition, including the US and EU funding violent protesters. This tactic was used in early US coups like the 1953 Iran coup of Prime Minister Mossadegh. The US has admitted organizing this coup that ended Iran’s brief experience with democracy. Like Venezuela, a key reason for the Iran coup was control of the nation’s oil.

Funding Opposition

There has been massive US investment in creating opposition to the Venezuelan government. Tens of millions of dollars have been openly spent through USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy, and other related US regime change agencies. It is unknown how much the CIA has spent from its secret budget, but the CIA has definitely been involved in Venezuela. Current CIA director, Mike Pompeo, said he is “hopeful there can be a transition in Venezuela.”

The United States has also educated leaders of opposition movements, e.g. Leopoldo López, was educated at private schools in the US, including CIA-associated Kenyon College. He was groomed at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and made repeated visits to the regime change agency, the National Republican Institute.

Elections

While the US calls Venezuela a dictatorship, it is in fact a strong democracy with an excellent voting system. Election observers monitor every election.

In 2016, the economic crisis led to the opposition winning a majority in the National Assembly. One of their first acts was to pass an amnesty law. The law described 17 years of crimes including violent felonies and terrorism committed by the opposition. It was an admission of crimes back to the 2002 coup and through 2016. The law demonstrated violent treason against Venezuela. One month later, the Supreme Court of Venezuela ruled the amnesty law was unconstitutional. US media, regime change advocates and anti-Venezuela human rights groups attacked the Supreme Court decision, showing their alliance with the admitted criminals.

Years of violent protests and regime change attempts and then admitting their crimes in an amnesty bill have caused those opposed to the Bolivarian Revolution to lose power and become unpopular.  In three recent elections Maduro’s party won regional, local and the Constituent Assembly elections.

The electoral commission announced the presidential election will be held on April 22. Maduro will run for re-election with the United Socialist Party. Opposition leaders such as Henry Ramos and Henri Falcon have expressed interest in running, but the opposition has not decided whether to participate. Henrique Capriles, who narrowly lost to Maduro in the last election, was banned from running for office because of irregularities in his campaign, including taking foreign donations. Capriles has been a leader of the violent protests. When his ban was announced he called for protests to remove Maduro from office. Also banned was Leopoldo Lopez, another leader of the violent protests who is under house arrest serving a thirteen year sentence for inciting violence.

Now the United States says it will not recognize the presidential election and urges a military coup. For two years, the opposition demanded presidential elections, but now it is unclear whether they will participate. They know they are unpopular, and Maduro is likely to be re-elected.

Is War Against Venezuela Coming?

A military coup faces challenges in Venezuela, as the people, including the military, are well educated about US imperialism. Tillerson openly urging a military coup makes it more difficult.

The government and opposition recently negotiated a peace settlement entitled “Democratic Coexistence Agreement for Venezuela.” They agreed on all of the issues including ending economic sanctions, scheduling elections, and more. They agreed on the date of the next presidential election. It was originally planned for March, but in a concession to the opposition, it was  rescheduled for the end of April. Maduro signed the agreement even though the opposition did not attend the signing ceremony. They backed out after Colombian President Santos, who was meeting with Secretary Tillerson, called and told them not to sign. Maduro will now make the agreement a public issue by allowing the people of Venezuela to sign it.

Not recognizing elections and urging a military coup are bad enough, but more disconcerting is that Admiral Kurt Tidd, head of Southcom, held a closed door meeting in Colombia after Tillerson’s visit. The topic was “regional destabilization,” and Venezuela was a focus.

A military attack on Venezuela from its Colombian and Brazilian borders is not far fetched. In January, the NY Times asked, “Should the US military invade Venezuela?” President Trump said the US is considering US military force against Venezuela. His chief of staff, John Kelly, was formerly the general in charge of Southcom. Tidd has claimed the crisis, created in large part by the economic war against Venezuela, requires military action for humanitarian reasons.

War preparations are already underway in Colombia, which plays the role of Israel for the US in Latin America. The coup government in Brazil increased its military budget 36 percent and participated in Operation: America United, the largest joint military exercise in Latin American history. It was one of four military exercises by the US with Brazil, Colombia, and Peru in Latin America in 2017. The US Congress ordered the Pentagon to develop military contingencies for Venezuela in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

While there is opposition to US military bases, James Patrick Jordan explains, on our radio show, the US has military bases in Colombia and the Caribbean and military agreements with countries in the region; and therefore, Venezuela is already surrounded.

The United States is targeting Venezuela because the Bolivarian Revolution provides an example against US imperialism. An invasion of Venezuela will become another war-quagmire that kills innocent Venezuelans, US soldiers, and others over control of oil. People in the United States who support the self-determination of countries should show solidarity with Venezuelans, expose the US agenda, and publicly denounce regime change. We need to educate people about what is really happening in Venezuela to overcome the false media coverage.

Share this article and the interview we did on Clearing The FOG about Venezuela and the US’ role in Latin America.  The fate of Venezuela is critical for millions of Latin Americans struggling under the domination of US Empire.

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers are co-directors of Popular Resistance where this article was originally published.

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How the Right Uses Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric to Further Its Reactionary Goals

I am not going to discuss here the rightwing use of anti-immigration policy as a way of politicizing racism, nor as a means of splintering the working class and getting a lot of workers to vote for the parties of the ruling class by voting for rightwing anti-immigrant politicians. Both of those are well-known goals of anti-immigrant discourse.

Not that anti-immigrant discourse is all bad. There are times when immigration is out of control and things need to be brought under order. The use of foreign workers are temporary low wage scabs to increase profits, the abuse of the refugee program, large numbers of problematic immigrants coming to a country, immigrants straining government services, illegal immigrants, environmental degradation by mass immigration, changing the nation’s ethnic and cultural character via mass immigration of foreigners, all of these things are examples of some of the negative effects that can occur via unregulated or poorly regulated immigration.

What I wish to talk about here is something different: anti-immigration rhetoric as a rightwing diversion from rightwing projects, in this case to dismantle the state.

A wildly corrupt and outrageous rightwing parliamentary coup followed by a blatantly corrupt trial of the head of the former president resulted in a hard rightwing putschist state pursuing a radical reactionary project of dismantling all of the progressive reforms of the leftwing PT government under President Lula. Since then, public institutions have been systematically defunded even when they were already underfunded to start with in part because Brazil has never once taxed the rich in its entire existence as a nation. So public services are collapsing due to defunding in the same way that public entities collapsed under rightwing Sam Brownblack in Kansas and the NHS is presently collapsing in the UK due to a death by a thousand cuts via the Tory government.

Public frustration over the collapsing state is at a high level. At the same time, many new immigrants have been coming into Brazil due to the rightwing and US-created collapse of the economy there.

You need to understand about immigration in Latin America. It does not have the racist overtones of the debate here in the US about immigration. Also the income differences between the countries of Latin America are not vast. Latin American nations consider all Latin Americans to be part of a single ethnic mixed race people sharing a single Latin American basic culture. In many countries, the immigrants speak the same language as the residents. This makes even mass immigration much more of a “meh” issue in Latin America than it is here. All Latin Americans are brothers, ethnically, culturally and often linguistically, so why not let your brothers into your house when they desire shelter from a storm?

Hence, even White Argentina has been taking in large numbers of mestizo immigrants from Peru and Bolivia lately with a promise to soon legalize them all. Even heavily White Costa Rica has taken in 1-2 million mestizos from its neighbors who are either impoverished or devastated by street crime with an apparent promise to normalize most of them. Venezuela took in many Colombians fleeing war and poverty without batting an eye, and Colombia took in many rightwing Venezuelans fleeing Chavismo. Except in Mexico, immigrants are seldom deported in Latin America. The idea is to house, integrate and even legalize them as soon as possible.

Nevertheless, the line of Venezuelan immigrants has turned into a flood in some cities.

Brazil’s rightwing gangster state has made clever use of the problems of mass Venezuelan immigration by deviously blaming the collapsed public services (devastated and defunded by rightwing evisceration) on the masses of Venezuelan immigrants! This is apparently not true at all. The immigrants are not overwhelming public services and causing them to collapse. Instead the public services are collapsing via gutting by the rightwing state.

But the government has the people whipped into a wild nativist frenzy over this. This is in spite of the fact that Brazilians and Venezuelans are probably little different ethnically – both being some mixture of Black, White, and Indian. The result has been daily attacks on Venezuelan immigrants in some cities and most recently a spate of high profile arson attacks on buildings housing Venezuelan immigrants.

This could be called attacks on immigrants as a diversion from anti-people rightwing projects. It’s a way of getting people to look the other way and scapegoat innocent people while the state is dismantled by the rich.

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A Motto of the Alt Left, Via Liberation Theology

La gente, unida! Jamas sera vencido!

The people, united! Will never be defeated!

– An old Castroite Marxist revolutionary chant from Central America and South America, with roots back especially to the great Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the FMLN in El Salvador (who I used to buy guns for), the URNG in Guatemala, probably the ELN in Colombia, and probably the great FARC in Colombia.

All of these movements except the FARC were “Christian Communists” or “Catholic Communists.” Most of the rank and file guerrillas all the way up to the leadership were Catholics. In Nicaragua, leader Daniel Ortega was and still is a practicing Catholic and one of the top leaders of the Sandinistas was Tomas Borge, a Catholic priest. The ELN was led by a former Catholic priest named Camilo Torres, who traded his frock for an AK-47 and led a guerrilla group in the mountains of northwestern Colombia. He was killed soon after he started the ELN in 1964. The ELN has never renounced its Catholic roots and is a de facto “Catholic Marxist” organization.

 

The Eastern Catholic Church or Eastern Orthodox have been much more progressive than the  Catholic hierarchy, but that was not so at the  beginning of the century when the Cheka executed over 12,000 top ranking Orthodox officials in first several years of the Revolution. The Russian Orthodox Church or at least many believers are quite leftwing these days. They often hobnob with Communists, Leftists and even monarchists. Even the monarchists are pretty leftwing in Russia today.  Russia is a place where everyone is leftwing. There is no Right in Russia. Well actually there is,  but the Right has only 10-15% support. Putin’s party is defined as “Russian conservatism” but Putin says he still believes in the  ideals of Communism and socialism which he regards as very similar to the Biblical values of the Russian Orthodox Church. This marriage is not unusual and high ranking Church officials even today regularly make pro-socialist and pro-Communist remarks. Sort of ” Jesus as a Bolshevik” if you will. Stalin himself was studying to be a priest in a sen\minary of the Georgian Orthodox Church when he gave it up to be a full-time bank robber/revolutionary.  The thing is that you cannot understand Stalin at all until you understand his deep background in the Orthodox religion. Although Stalin called himself an atheist, he remained deeply Orthodox in  his mindset until he died. He ever revived the Church during and after the war for patriotic reasons. Stalin was very much a social conservative and his social conservatism was deeply inflected by his Georgian Orthodox seminarian roots, which he never renounced.

The Orthodox Christian churches of the Arab World have always been leftwing, along with the Church in Iran and Turkey. George Habash, founder of the Marxist PFLP in Palestine, was a Greek Orthodox. Many of the rank and file even of the PFLP armed guerrilla have always been Orthodox Christians. The Greek Orthodox SSNP in Lebanon and Syria are practically Communists. Interestingly, this was the first group to widely use suicide bombings early in 1982 and 1983 in the first years of the Lebanese Civil War. Most of the first suicide bombings, up to scores or hundreds in first few years, were by Communists, often Christian Orthodox Communists. Many of these suicide bombers were even women. It was only later that the Shia adopted the technique.

The man who created the Baath Party, the Iraqi Michel Aflaq, was an Orthodox Christian. The party had Leftist roots as an officially socialist party. Tariq Aziz, high-ranking member of Saddam’s Baath party, was an Orthodox Christian and a Leftist. Assad’s party in Syria is a Leftist party. Most Syrian Orthodox Christians are strong supporters of Assad, the Baath Party and Leftism. Recently the Syrian Defense Minister was a Christian.

The few Orthodox Christians left in Turkey are typically Leftists.

Many Greek Orthodox are Leftists. Serbian Orthodox laypeople and hierarchy long supported Milosevic, who was a Communist.

The Russians who violently split away from Ukraine in the Donbass were so Leftist that they called their new states “people’s republics.” Most of the leadership and the armed forces are Orthodox Christians. The armed groups had priests serving alongside in most cases. They often led battlefield burials for the troops.

There are deep roots of this sort of thing in Russia. Tolstoy is very Christian in an Orthodox sense, but he is also often seen as a socialist. Dostoevsky’s work is uber-Christian from an Orthodox point of view and he is not very friendly to radicals. However, before he started writing, he was arrested for Leftist revolutionary activities and sentenced to prison in Siberia. Most of his colleagues were hanged and Dostoevsky only barely escaped by the tip of his nose. Dostoevsky was not very nice to the rich either. No Russian writer of that time was, not even Turgenev. The rich destroyed 19th Century Russia. Anyone with eyes can see that. It would have been hard for any artistic heart above room temperature to not hate the Russian rich and feel sympathy for the peasantry. Turgenev’s first books were paeans to the Russian peasantry, and he was raised on an estate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Liberation Theology: Jesus Christ as Marxist Guerrilla in the Jungle with a Machine Gun

From the Sandinistas of Nicaragua to the URNG of Guatemala to the guerrilla column in Honduras led by the Irish Catholic priest in 1983 to Father Aristide’s Lavalas in Haiti to the ELN in Colombia to the Chavistas in Venezuela, all of these radical leftwing groups had one thing in common: they all came out of Liberation Theology, more or less a “Jesus Christ, Marxist guerrilla in the jungle with a machine gun” type of armed to the teeth Catholicism.

Liberation Theology came out a movement of Professors of Pedagogy in Brazil in 1964, especially an influential book written by a priest named Gutierrez. The argument was that teaching in Latin America was an overtly political act, and teachers should ideally by Leftist revolutionaries. Out of this flowed many documents laying out Liberation Theology or “the preferential option for the poor.” It was most powerful among lay workers, of which there are many in Latin America. In heavily Catholic areas, Catholic lay workers are nearly an army.

The French Communist Party in  France long had Catholic roots as did the PCI in Italy. Near the end of his life, Fidel Castro praised Catholicism and said he was a “cultural Catholic.” Hugo Chavez and the Chavistas were of course a ferocious part of the Catholic Left. Chavez Leftism was heavily infused with the social teachings of the Catholic Church.

Even the viciously anti-Christian Sendero Luminoso in Peru had many supporters in the Catholic Church, mostly at the lay and priest level but surprisingly all the way up to the bishop level. Sendero killed many reactionary Protestant missionaries in their war, but they left the priests alone.

The great Edith Lagos, a 19 year old year revolutionary woman who led one of the first Sendero columns, was killed in battle in 1982. Her funeral in Ayacucho at night a bit later attracted 30,000 visitors, nearly the entire population of the town. Everyone was in line for the funeral – the local police, the local government and of course the entire local  Catholic clergy. The line wormed all through the city for hours far into the night. She was treated to an actual Catholic funeral right there in the church led by the local priest. Her casket stood next to the priest as he delivered his sermon. It had a Sendero Communist flag on it.

A communist flag on a coffin in a Catholic church! The crowd then filed out through the town to the graveyard where she was buried in the middle of the night. Her tomb exists to this day, although it has been repeatedly bombed by reactionaries. Local Indians make patronages to the tomb on a regular basis, leaving flowers at it. Rumor has it that she has obtained informal sainthood and is now Saint Edith Lagos in the local Catholic Churches.

FARC called itself officially atheist, although they had the support of many priests in the countryside where the FARC held sway. Nevertheless, most FARC rank and file were Catholics.

In Paraguay, a former guerrilla was elected president. He was also a former Catholic priest.

The armed Marxist Left in Uruguay and Brazil also had deep links to the Catholic Church.

In the US, we have something called Cold War liberals. This is the pathetic Left of the United States,  people who would be rightwingers or center-right anywhere else on Earth.

 

 

 

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Jesus Was a Socialist

Modern Protestant Prosperity Doctrine is such a perversion of the spirit of Christianity that it can only be seen as a heresy.

Jesus famously said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into Heaven.” This comment is very poorly understood – most seem to think he is talking about a camel actually walking through the eye of a sewing needle, which is of course not possible. However, at the time, “The Eye of the Needle” was a pass high in the mountains of Palestine. It was indeed passable, but it was such an ardous climb over such rugged mountains that many camels simply could not hack the trek and were not able to accomplish the journey. Hence, it was possible for a camel to go through the Eye of the Needle, but it was not an easy task at all, and many simply could not cut it. And so it was with the rich and their chances of heavenly grace and redemption according to Jesus.

Liberation Theology, the Catholic doctrine of the Social Gospel updated and radicalized in Latin America to “Jesus with a machine gun” was utilized by many armed guerrilla groups as a religion of revolution, even armed revolution.

The philosophy of this doctrine was to preach for “the preferential option of the poor,” and this is right in accord with Catholic Social Gospel if not a supercharged form of it. It is seen in Latin America as a nearly subversive and even insurrectionist doctrine, and in a sense it is, although most LT preachers and lay people are not armed.

In fact, Venezuelan Bolivarianism or Chavismo was profoundly influenced by Liberation Theology and there is evidence that many of the other New Left regimes in Latin America were also. LT was a huge influence on the Sandinistas, the FMLN guerrillas and now politicians in El Salvador, the ELN in Colombia (founded by an actual priest with a machine gun, Camilo Torres), the PT of Lula and Dilma Youssef in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia, possibly Correa in Ecuador and certainly Paraguay under Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, a former priest and guerrilla who ruled that land until a US sponsored coup removed him.

The Lavalas Movement in Haiti of Jon Bertrand Aristide, also removed in a US-sponsored coup, was profoundly influenced by LT; in fact, Aristide himself was a preacher of Liberation Theology.

In recent decades, there has been a lot of discussion in Cuba about a “Catholic Communism” and now that believers may join the party, this movement seems to be on an upswing. The novel doctrine was that Catholicism and Marxism were indeed compatible with each other instead of being oxymoronic. Castro himself stated that he was a “social Catholic” a few years before he died.

The extent to which LT has influenced the regimes of Batchelet in Chile or Fernandez in Argentina, the former guerrillas in power in Uruguay under Jose Mujica, or Ollanta Humala in Peru is not known, although there were many LT preachers in Peru a few decades ago, and incredibly enough, many priests actually supported the Shining Path.

But the Social Gospel, Liberation Theology, and the “Catholic Communism” that developed in some European lands in the 20th Century have much more in common with a pure interpretation of Jesus’ teaching than the individualist and materialist Protestantism that developed in the US. “Jesus was a socialist” always makes more sense than “Jesus was a capitalist,” although most Evangelicals are loath to admit this. Nevertheless, they squirm and act uncomfortable when you bring it up, so it shows that on some level they at least worry it is true.

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