Crack that Wiphala
Funding rightwing nutballs. Recruting Fulbright scholars as spies. Fanning the flames of Civil War. Everything you sort of figured the U.S. was doing in Bolivia has just been documented.
Funding rightwing nutballs. Recruting Fulbright scholars as spies. Fanning the flames of Civil War. Everything you sort of figured the U.S. was doing in Bolivia has just been documented.
Venezuela is a country where somebody will sell you a cold beer while you’re stuck in a traffic jam, which is sort of the definition of “free society” if you ask me. So nobody should be surprised that Human Rights Watch refused to list it among the world’s not-free countries yesterday despite no-doubt intense lobbying from the Bush Administration. And when asked why, HRW hilariously shot back, “We did not include Venezuela in the list of closed countries because it is not.” In other words: Bitch, please.
So when you consider that the list of fake democracies is made up almost exclusively of Bush BFF’s like Thailand, Pakistan, and the Russia of Vlad “I looked into his soul” Putin, you start to wonder whether this anti-Chavez campaign actually stems from oil at all, or if they just hate Venezuela for its freedom.
I actually received the following job announcement in my inbox from the super-shadowy Office of Transition Initiatives:
New OTI Position - Country Rep. Venezuela in Caracas, Venezuela (US Citizens Only)
USAID/OTI has just posted a new position for a Country Representative - Venezuela located in Caracas, Venezuela. Applications are due not later than February 22, 2008, at 5:00 p.m. EST.
This is a full-time Personal Services Contract (PSC) position at the GS-14 equivalent level. The position is open to U.S. Citizens only due to security clearance requirements.
For full information about the position and for instructions on how to apply, please visit www.globalcorps.com.
Please be sure to use both the OF-612 application form and as many OF-612 continuation sheets as necessary to fully document your work experience in detail. Submission of a resume in lieu of the OF-612 form will not be accepted. Both forms are available on the GlobalCorps website.
I say we all compete against each other for this great job and let the invisible hand decide! I’ve already submitted my letter of interest, posted after the jump. Feel free to use it as a model for your own!
Remember at New Year’s how the FARC was about release some hostages but the whole thing got scuttled at the last minute? That was because the trigger itchy Colombian government actually attacked the convoy, hostages and all, and then lied about it, according to the hostages. And you never would have known about any of this by reading the newspapers, so you should really stop reading newspapers, according to AlterNet.
"In the unlikely story that is America there has never been anything false about hope."
We pretty much breathe cynicism here at BoRev. Sometimes it's good just to breathe.
Ever since like, Scarface, the story of cocaine industry has been some variation of this: poor brown Colombians grow it and rich white Americans snort it and the whole thing is always the fault of people from neither of those countries. Sometimes it is the Nicaraguans and other times it is the Cubans but today of course it’s clear that the Venezuelans are at fault because they hate America and called our president the devil and we can’t let the next smoking pipe be a mushroom cloud now can we.
Anyway yesterday The Observer revealed all this in a story titled “Revealed! Chávez role in cocaine trail to Europe” only the revealing was done by a slew of anonymous government sources who refused to even reveal which governments they worked for but I’ll bet you a dime bag that they are “Colombia” and “The United States.”
And within hours writer/activist Toni Solo had revealed that the Observer’s revelations hadn’t been backed up by any relevant evidence but will probably “ooze into political processes like foreign policy committee deliberations in EU country parliaments and US Congress, greasing the way for Colombia’s narco-terrorist government to sustain foreign military aid,” ‘n stuff anyway, which is revelatory.
In case you hadn’t noticed, this week’s Bush Administration talking point on why you are supposed to fear Venezuela is on account of the “drugs.” It’s not that Venezuelans necessarily produce it or use it or anything, it’s more that they’ve refused to “cooperate” with the U.S. military on anti-drug initiatives like the Colombians do, which sort of helps explain why Venezuela isn’t a gun-running defoliated post-apocalyptic Mad Max on Meth kidnap factory like its next-door neighbor.
Apparently you’re supposed to come away from the CIA testimony on all this tut-tutting about how uncivilized the Venezuelans are, except haha the ding dongs brought it up in the same hearing where they admitted for the first time that our government has been waterboarding the fuck out everybody all this time, which is not only uncivilized but also sort of a war crime and now they’ll all have to go to jail and Chavez wins again!
BTW: If you’ve forgotten how bad it gets in Colombia, Oil Wars would like to remind you.
OMG the teenage son of the Venezuelan Ambassador to the United States was found hanging from a tree at his Maryland prep school and at first it they thought it had to do with all the “political turmoil” back home or maybe “Venezuelan brittle bone syndrome” but then it turned out that his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s guy friend were trying to blackmail him with a sex tape they’d made and he was going to report them to the school so they drugged him and made it look like a suicide!
I mean it didn’t happen for reals but it was on a two-year-old episode of Bones that re-ran on the teevee this week. And I’m totally going to have to work that phrase into conversation.
A Venezuela watcher and Wiki-nerd wannabe explains the frustration of knowing more about your topic than “respectable” media sources.
Former LA Times editor Andres Martinez is on vacation in Venezuela! And he’s writing about it for Slate! And be sure to not ever travel with this dude if you can avoid it! Seriously, we can be “ironic” and “snotty” with the best of them, but we still manage to be tolerable travel companions because WE DON’T BITCH AND MOAN ABOUT EVERY GODDAMN THING. So how’s it going? Let’s let him tell it, shall we?
Installment One: Caracas is ugly and Venezuelans are assholes and my hotel sucked and then I went to a movie and then I watched teevee.
Installment Three: A private guided tour of one of the world’s most beautiful and remote parks is WAY OVERPRICED and my Indian guide needs to “wean herself off the Nature Channel” and did I mention that this whole thing is costing too much money?
Installment Four: Opening sentence--“The worst thing about sitting in an uncovered canoe for hours being pelted by the rain as we made our way to Angel Falls was the fact that our bodies became a five-course meal for the millions of mosquitoes...” Honestly
Oh and did I mention that the series is titled “Vacationing in Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian Paradise" (did you catch the irony)? And that he runs into other rich tourists who share his opinions? And that the series is “ongoing.” Puke. I mean “hooray.”
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen sent a letter to the State Department Wednesday asking them to investigate whether Venezuela’s state oil company is helping Iran build a nuclear bomb because they both have oil and sometimes work together on oil projects. Pause. Pause. Pause. Ok let’s think this through:
Leaving aside the “Hey nuclear bombs don’t run on gasoline” factor, we come to this: If the State Department agrees with her logic, they would be forced under U.S. law to ban the sale of all Venezuelan oil to the United States, roughly 10% of our total imports. Now I’m not sure if you’ve paid attention to U.S. energy policy or foreign policy or domestic policy like, ever, but major supply disruptions and super-long gas lines fall somewhere near “establishing the Islamic Caliphate of Greater Nebraska” as a political goal, so good luck with your little campaign there, sister!
Granted, this may not rank up there in the pantheon of Ros-Lehtinen’s most jaw dropping policy flubs (because really, it’s hard to top the time she sprung four terrorists from a Panamanian prison or, say, when she was filmed encouraging people to assassinate Castro and then publicly declared the tape was a fake and then admitted that it wasn’t and she was just lying about it), but it’s one more anecdote to reinforce her reputation as America’s most lovably dangerous batshit crazy lawmaker.
So you always heard rumors that the State Department was recruiting spies among the Fullbright scholars and Peace Corps volunteers scattered around the world, and today adorable idealist John Alexander van Schaick (pictured!) blabbed all to ABC News. Stationed in Bolivia, he was asked by U.S. embassy officials to keep reports on all the Cuban and Venezuelan medical volunteers he ran into because of “the fight against terrorism” and all. And he was “appalled.” Good on you, dude!
But all this raises a number of important questions, not the least of which is what kind of fucked-up judgment does our retarded international spy network have? I mean look at this kid with his scruffy beard and his Che Vive hat for crying out loud! Somebody in your government took a look at him and was like, "There goes the next Ollie North." Hey hippie! Wanna come spy for The Man? Honestly we’re pretty fucking lucky the Bolivians have peaceful intentions or they would have conquered our ass by now.
Hi did you know that Venezuelan ECONOMY has tanked? And that they’ve run out of FOOD? And it’s just like in ZIMBABWE down there? And that they’re about to go to WAR with somebody although we’re not exactly sure who? And that Chavez was planning to DEFRAUD the electorate last December but was stopped only by the threat of MILITARY INSURRECTION? And that Venezuelans don’t even LIKE HIM anymore? And that the opposition has turned into DEMOCRATIC FORCE in the country?
Had you going until that last one sorta! Here’s a tip for reading the Washington Post: Jackson Diehl writes the paper’s unbylined foreign policy editorials. When the rest of the ed board refuses to back him, they make him put his name on it and move it to the right hand side of the page. When this happens, it’s usually a pretty good sign that he’s just making shit up. (They haven’t actually fact checked him since his rah rah Iraq war days, which prompted at least this dude to quit).
BTW the only independent updated study of Venezuela’s economy I know of came out last week and it, um, “notes continued progress in economic growth, poverty reduction, employment, and health and education indicators” and points out that “the Venezuelan economy does not fit the mold of an "oil boom headed for a bust," as frequently described by observers and analysts.” But don’t take the economists’ word for it. Jackson Diehl knows they’re all doomed.
Remember “The National Post”? That’s the Canadian journalistic brain trust that came really really close to launching WWIII a couple years ago with that fake story about Iran and Nazi badges?
Well this week they are reprinting Andres Martinez’s comically grumpy Venezuelan travelogue, only with one little modification. It’s now an opinion piece about Venezuelan politics. The text is exactly the same, only it now runs underneath a menacing picture of Chavez and this ominous lede:
Venezuela's Cracked Veneer: Hugo Chavez is a charismatic dictator. But he can't hide the fact that his 'Bolivarian' paradise is imploding in the usual Latin American way.
So, um, enjoy the good times all over again!
Exactly like Howard the Duck, and, um, the rest of us, Lincoln Chaffee is trapped in a world he never made. You may remember this good natured Rhode Islander with the bad haircut from the time he took over his beloved dead dad’s Republican Senate seat only was too cool to actually act like a Republican and started voting with the Democrats all the time which kind of ticked off the Republicans, only then it was the Democrats who overthrew him in a wave of anti-Republican sentiment.
Anyway it was all very weird and presumably there was a lesson in there for him and he learned it and is now extra sensitive to “political movements” around the world. Which makes him uniquely qualified to co-write this Op-Ed, published Monday in the Providence Journal. As it turns out:
Hey good advice! Oh and there is a hilariously stupid typo in the headline. Can you spot it? The story has been live on the Providence Journal’s website for like two days already and apparently nobody else has! They’ll probably fix it at some point, though, and you won’t have any idea what we’re talking about except that we’ve preserved it for posterity here.
>>> There are big time social movements in South America right now and they tend to reject U.S.-promoted economic orthodoxy.
>>> The changes are largely positive, like in Venezuela where “literacy has increased from 85 percent of the population to 99 percent. Health clinics now appear in even the poorest neighborhoods, granting access to free treatment.”
>>> While the press likes to ascribe the political transformation to charismatic leaders rather than social movements, that sort of analysis is pretty fucking insulting to the voters, who aren’t morons.
>>> In fact they are so not idiots that they are often critical of their charismatic leaders, which is sort of democratic and good.
>>> So maybe let’s us try a little “open, intelligent discussion” about all this.
Check out these ding dongs at Fox News redefine words like “dictator,” “narcotics” and, uh, “cocoa.” Welcome to our American conversation!
Hat Tip: Abiding in Bolivia blog
>>> Nikolas Kozloff exposes exposes the naughty dalliances between Venezuela, the International Republican Institute, and “John McCain’s big stick.”
>>> Patrick Irelan is so over his crush on Simon Romero.
>>> CBS begs the ex Mrs. Chavez to betray him for Valentines Day!
Boring NPR blah-blah show “Talk of the Nation” morphed into a subversive counter-cultural beatnik “happening” yesterday, as three guests who have actually been to Venezuela before were allowed to provide a detailed and nuanced analysis of Hugo Chavez for an entire half-hour. Oh and did I mention that this happened on Presidents Day? The holiday that is supposed to be about our presidents here in the USA and not other people’s?
But then I guess if you were actually home listening to NPR on America’s most beloved holiday and not out drinking beer or buying a mattress at ridiculously discounted prices you were probably a communist to begin with anyway.
Apparently something big happened in CUBA today and everybody’s TALKING ABOUT IT. The full directory of all the stupid shit they’re saying, after the jump...
So if you read newspapers (not literally of course—it’s just a rhetorical device) then you know that there are many key similarities between Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, mostly involving “evil” and “hating us for our freedom” and such. But did you know that there are also some differences too? Newspapers investigate…
>>> The Wall Street Journal informs us that unlike Castro, Chavez “won’t start revolutions in other countries,” but instead will “prove to be a nuisance by helping…Brazil's landless-peasant movement.”In other words, the two leaders are exactly the same except for their age and of course the fact that their economics, politics, foreign policies and press freedoms are opposite. Oh and the beard! They forgot the beard! And one’s on an island and the other isn’t. Dude I should totally be an analyst with the newspapers.
>>> And also he’s lots younger and lacks “revolutionary credentials and cachet in the Latin American popular imagination.”
>>> The Houston Chronicle says Chavez doesn’t “measure up” because he’s not a Communist and “Venezuela remains embedded in the world economic system.”
>>> And also because, “Chavez plays by the democratic rules, unlike his Cuban mentor who tolerated no dissent during his nearly half century in power.”
>>> And then there’s the fact that Latin American leaders like to get their photos taken with Fidel, while on the other hand the monarchical non-Latin American King of Spain once told Chavez to shut up. Different, see?
BTW: Looks like the WSJ link doesn’t work for everybody, bloody capitalist pig-humpers. Anyway we’ve excerpted the article, in its entirety, after the jump…
You may remember Alejandro Sanz as that guy who snuck up behind Shakira when she was chopping up the onions and then got it on with her on the table with all the vegetables flying all over the place. Apparently he’s a singer, too. A singer with one hell of a publicity team. For months now Sanz’s people have been firing off press releases claiming he’s banned from performing in Venezuela because of his political views, and for months news outlets have been reporting all this as if it were true. So we were all shocked when the Los Angeles Times actually bothered to look into his allegations and of course found that he’d been bullshitting us all this time:
>>> Back in October, when a story first circulated that a Sanz concert had been cancelled, it turns out that he’d only been denied the use of a government venue, which is sort of different. Rather than rescheduling the show, Sanz cancelled and sent out his first angry little presser.I know! Who could have guessed that an aging Latin crooner would stoop to cheesy exaggeration to draw attention to himself? And is Ricky Martin is the last one to live his life with integrity, openness and honesty? Oh wait.
>>> Last month Sanz said that “Venezuelan government officials” had declared him persona non-grata, essentially banning him from entering the country. As it turns out, the politicos in question were actually just “some municipal officials in Caracas,” people without enough clout to ban him from a crappy neighborhood, let alone an entire country.
>>> After months of negative publicity on all this, when President Chavez personally weighed in and offered to help Sanz stage his freaking concert in Caracas, “Sanz dismissed the invitation as a request for a command performance at the presidential palace, which it wasn't.”
Mark Penn will be gratified to learn that the whole “inevitability candidate” thing can be a winning strategy after all, and that some people realize that being related to a former president is like exactly the same thing as experience.
The internet. Its tubes run deep and people are always saying all kinds of interesting things on it. Like did you know….
>>> That Human Rights Watch often prefers to bitch about the small stuff while neglecting the big picture and this is especially true in Venezuela and Haiti?Ok that last one is slightly off topic but wow geez with a “g”.
>>> That Venezuela’s chamber of commerce might just be willing to do anything for attention these days including blowing up a cop?
>>> That the press keeps forgetting to mention that Alvaro Uribe is an unhelpful violence-crazed psychopath?
>>> That Gennifer Flowers has decided to sell off her archive of recorded phone sex conversations with a certain William Jefferson Clinton?
Ok we’ll admit that sometimes we’re a little hard on Simon Romero. In fact today the New York Times’ lazy little Caracas correspondent actually serves up a relatively well-researched accounting of a Venezuelan medical program that has, ahem, “helped more than 400,000 people recover from blindness or improve their vision” across Latin America. Four hundred thousand people.
Of course, being a “journalist” some days, Romero is duty bound to present the other side of the story, too (Some clinics have peeling paint! Some doctors wish they made more money!) but generally you come away from the story thinking, Amazing Grace that’s a lot of people not bumping into shit anymore. Nice, right?
Well somebody must have complained after it was first published yesterday in the Times’ sister publication, the International Herald Tribune, under the headline “Chavez’s Medical Diplomacy Wins Plaudits.” While this header was clear and descriptive and generally summed up the main point of the story, it didn’t make Venezuelans look stupid or incompetent or make Chavez look crazy or scheming or whatever their stylesheets tell them to do. So they changed it, and when the story ran in this morning’s New York Times, it read:
At long last, Ambassador William Brownfield has issued a heartfelt apology to everyone he's wounded with his terrible, terrible words. Up until last fall Brownfield's job involved fostering international understanding between the U.S. and Venezuela, and because that went so well he was transferred to Colombia, where a mutual love for cocaine and bloodshed have united our two countries in brotherhood since the Reagan/Escobar years.
Anyway he almost screwed that up too because of his “words,” although he is not exactly saying what they were, except that they involved “drugs” and “Venezuela” and almost caused an international incident. Anyway, he’s apologizing, only with this little caveat:
"I do not apologize for the words, because these words represent the stance, the opinions, the decisions of the Government I represent, but I indeed apologize, of course, for having caused a delicate, difficult moment for my host Government.”At any rate if you carry a U.S. passport it’s probably better if you just stay far, far away from Latin America for the time being. All I’m saying.
Without conditions. Say what you will about the bombastic Hugo Chavez, but he’s sort of turned into the hemisphere’s most gifted diplomat.
Hey remember those Venezuelan student movements? Those darling mop-headed urchins who represent the country’s greatest, whitest hope eh-vah and will usher in a new political era free from the baggage of the retarded grown-up opposition movements of the past because they believe in the democracy and the voting and all that? Well they’re having a march! An “Anti-Chavez” march! All over the world! On the same day! And it’s on: April 11th! Hey wait…
[Uh, kids—a little free advice from your Uncle BoRev: I don’t know what they taught you back in Serbia, but here in the Americas there is such a thing as “really bad symbolism.” And if you’re trying to represent yourself as a democratic movement, then you probably don’t want to stage your little march on the sixth anniversary of the day that those very same retarded grown up opposition leaders you’re trying to distance yourself from actually kidnapped your democratically-elected president, dissolved your constitution (along with your judicial and legislative branches), and installed evil skeleton man Pedro Carmona as dictator. Just my $.02 ‘k, bye.]
Anyway, it’s probably too late for them to reschedule now because they’ve got their adorable videos about it all over YouTube, which we can all watch and laugh
at along with after the jump.
It's hard to imagine that Hillary is so uninformed - and has such incompetent foreign policy advisers - that she doesn't know that President Hugo Chávez and his government have won multiple elections that were characterized as free and fair by international observers. But if she knows this, then she is lying.–Robert Naiman, in the Huffington Post.
An Oxford Analytica analysis of the Bush administration’s allegations of drug running in Venezuela contains this awesome concession:
Following Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' assumption of a high-profile role in hostage release negotiations in Colombia, there has been an escalation of critical statements from U.S. officials and media allegations of Venezuelan complicity in the drugs trade.Now read that again and tilt your head to the left for maximum absorption. The U.S. is spotlighting the Venezuelan drug trade because Chavez has been getting positive attention for freeing hostages. So if you thought there was no political motivation behind it all, YOU MUST BE HIGH! Snap! Zing! We got a million of ‘em…
...in their colons. Money quote, from Bloomberg:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's policies and higher oil prices have boosted purchasing power for poorer Venezuelans, increasing meat consumption among the Latin American country's 26 million inhabitants.
Did you know that the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing this week involving actual senators and tax dollars to determine whether or not the Venezuelan military had too many weapons? And that they found that, indeed, the country has "three or four times" more weapons than necessary? This was determined using a complex algorithm involving population concentrations divided into THEY JUST PULLED IT OUT OF THEIR ASS.
Venezuela, for the record, "continues to lag a considerable distance" behind other large Latin American countries in terms of military spending, according to a Center for International Policy study last year. (More analyses here and here). The United States, let’s just say, does not. But the extra hee-larious part came in the Q&A session, as described by Greg Weeks's blog:
· Venezuela might be helping the FARC, but all the evidence suggests the purchased rifles are going into armoriesWhew, I’m glad we had an Armed Services Committee hearing to clear all that up! Here are a few other things that might exist in Venezuela: volcanoes, lions, aluminum centrifugal tubes, marmite, space rockets, vampires, Elton John, and yellowcake. We’ll never know unless we guess!
· Venezuela "could very well be" destabilizing neighbors, but we have no evidence of it
· Chávez might have bought the weapons for domestic control, but we have no evidence of it
· As a topper, in Cuba the move from Fidel to Raúl may spark mayhem, but we have no evidence of it