Government of Venezuela and Opposition will continue Dialogue in Norway.

Government of Venezuela and Opposition will continue Dialogue in Norway.
 Telesur | May 25, 2019
 
Translation
"Our delegation leaves for Oslo with a willingness to work on the agreed-upon comprehensive agenda and move forward in building good agreements," said President Nicolás Maduro.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro confirmed on Saturday that a government delegation will travel next week to Oslo (capital), Norway, to continue the process of open dialogue with the opposition.

The official representation will be headed by Chancellor Jorge Arreaza, the Minister of Communication and Information, Jorge Rodríguez, and the Governor of the state Miranda, Héctor Rodríguez, informed the Head of State.

"I thank the Government of Norway for its efforts to advance the dialogues for peace and stability in Venezuela, and our delegation leaves for Oslo with a willingness to work on the agreed-upon comprehensive agenda and move forward in the construction of good agreements," the president said. Venezuelan through his account on the social network Twitter.


Agradezco al gobierno de Noruega por sus esfuerzos para avanzar en los diálogos
 por la Paz y la estabilidad de Venezuela. Sale hacia Oslo nuestra delegación con
 buena disposición para trabajar la agenda integral acordada y avanzar en la 
construcción de buenos acuerdos. pic.twitter.com/8WMEZiNCuz
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) 26 de mayo de 2019


Earlier this Saturday the Norwegian Foreign Ministry also ratified the continuation of the talks and reiterated its commitment to "continue supporting the search for a solution agreed between the parties for Venezuela."

"Norway praises the parties for their efforts and appreciates their willingness," Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said in an official statement.

On the other hand, in a new act of interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela, the State Department of the United States Government (USA) issued a text during the day rejecting the Venezuelan dialogue process.

"Previous efforts to negotiate the end of the regime and free elections have failed because the regime has used them to divide the opposition and buy time, we believe that the only thing that can be negotiated with Nicolás Maduro are the conditions of his departure," says the American statement.

[And echoed by Marco Rubio:]


Past negotiations with #MaduroRegime failed because they used them 
to divide the opposition & gain time.
I hope #OsloTalks can help make progress towards the return of democracy 
to #Venezuela. But any election conducted with #Maduro in power will not 
be a free & fair one.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) 26 de mayo de 2019


The talks initiated in mid-May in Norway have received the support and congratulations of the United Nations (UN) and its secretary general, António Guterres, who has shown willingness to collaborate in the process.

The Venezuelan government has insisted on the path of dialogue as the alternative to resolve political differences in the country and reach an agreement on peace and reconciliation. However, in line with the White House some opposition sectors insist on the ignorance of the legitimate authorities and opt for a foreign military intervention. SOURCE

Laura Wells Reports: Venezuela Reality and US Options.


Uploaded by Green Vigilante Media | Published on May 24, 2019.

Canada's meddling in Venezuela.

Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela. [Republished]
By Yves Engler
Counterpunch | May 24, 2019

Why does the dominant media pay so much attention to Russian “meddling” in other countries, but little to Canada’s longstanding interference in the political affairs of nations thousands of kilometres from our borders?

The case of Ben Rowswell illustrates the double standard well.

The current Canadian International Council President has been the leading non-governmental advocate of Ottawa’s quest to overthrow Venezuela’s government. In dozens of interviews, op-eds, tweets and ongoing speaking tour the former ambassador has put a liberal gloss on four months of naked imperialism. But, Rowswell has been involved in efforts to oust Nicolas Maduro since 2014 despite repeatedly claiming the president’s violation of the constitution two years ago provoked Ottawa’s recent campaign.

A March 2014 Venezuela Analysis story suggested the early adopter of digital communications was dispatched to Caracas in the hopes of boosting opposition to a government weakened by an economic downturn, the death of its leader and violent protests. Titled “New Ambassador Modernizes Canada’s Hidden Agenda in Venezuela”, the story pointed out that Rowswell immediately set up a new embassy Twitter account, soon followed by another titled SeHablaDDHH (Let’s Talk Human Rights), to rally “the angry middle classes on Twitter.” The article noted that “Rowswell is the best man to encourage such a ‘democratic’ counterrevolution, given his pedigree” in digital and hotspot diplomacy. According to a March 2014 Embassy story titled “Canada dispatches digital diplomacy devotee to Caracas”, just before the Venezuela assignment “Ottawa’s top digital diplomat … helped to establish a communications platform for Iranians and Iranian emigrants to communicate with each other, and occasionally the Canadian government, beyond the reach of that country’s censors.” Previously, Rowswell was chargé d’affaires in Iraq after the 2003 US invasion and headed the NATO Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar during the war there. An international strategy advisor in the Privy Council Office during Stephen Harper and Jean Chrétien’s tenure, Rowswell created Global Affairs Canada’ Democracy Unit. Rowswell also worked with the Washington based Center for Strategic and International Studies, whose board of trustees includes Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, and the National Democratic Institute, which is part of the US National Endowment for Democracy that performs work the CIA previously did covertly.

Believing he was sent to conspire with the opposition, Caracas refused to confirm Rowswell’s appointment as ambassador. Former vice president and foreign minister José Vicente Rangel twice accused Rowswell of seeking to overthrow the government. On a July 2014 episode of his weekly television program José Vicente Hoy Rangel said, “the Embassy of Canada appears more and more involved in weird activities against the Venezuelan constitutional government.” The former Vice President claimed Canada’s diplomatic mission helped more than two dozen individuals of an “important intelligence organization” enter the country. Three months later Rangel accused Canadian officials of trying to destabilize the country by making unfounded claims Maduro supported drug trafficking and gave passports to terrorists.

In early 2015 then president of the National Assembly (not to be confused with Venezuela’s president) Diosdado Cabello accused the Canadian embassy of complicity in a failed coup. According to Cabello, an RCMP official attached to the embassy, Nancy Birbeck, visited an airport in Valencia with a member of the UK diplomatic corps to investigate its capabilities as part of the plot.

The president of the National Assembly also criticized Rowswell for presenting a human rights award to anti-government groups. Cabello said the ambassador “offered these distinctions to people of proven conspiratorial activity and who violate the fundamental rights to life of all Venezuelans.” At the embassy during the award ceremony were the lawyers and wife (Lilian Tintori) of Leopoldo López who endorsed the military’s 2002 coup against President Hugo Chavez and was convicted of inciting violence during the 2014 “guarimbas” protests that sought to oust Maduro. Forty-three Venezuelans died, hundreds were hurt and a great deal of property was damaged during the “guarimbas” protests. Lopez was a key organizer of the recent plan to anoint Juan Guaidó interim president and Tintori met Donald Trump and other international officials, including the prime minister and many others in Ottawa, to build international support for the recent coup efforts.

Rowswell appears to have had significant contact with López and Guaidó’s Voluntad Popular party. He was photographed with Voluntad Popular’s leader in Yaracuy state, Gabriel Gallo, at the embassy’s 2017 human rights award ceremony. Gallo was a coordinator of NGO Foro Penal, which was runner-up for the embassy’s 2015 Human Rights Award. (The runner-up for the 2012 award, Tamara Adrián represents Voluntad Popular in the national assembly.)

The embassy’s “Human Rights Prize” is co-sponsored with the Centro para la Paz y los Derechos Humanos. The director of that organization, Raúl Herrera, repeatedly denounced the Venezuelan government, saying, “the Venezuelan state systematically and repeatedly violates the Human Rights of Venezuelans.”

The “Human Rights Prize” is designed to amplify and bestow legitimacy on anti-government voices. The winner gets a “tour of several cities in Venezuela to share his or her experiences with other organizations promoting of human rights” and a trip to Canada to meet with “human rights authorities and organizations.” They generally present to Canadian Parliamentary Committees and garner media attention. The Venezuelan NGOs most quoted in the Canadian media in recent months criticizing the country’s human rights situation — Provea, Foro Penal, CODEVIDA, Observatorio Venezolano de la Conflictividad, Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones, etc. — have been formally recognized by the Canadian embassy.

During Rowswell’s tenure at the embassy Canada financed NGOs with the expressed objective of embarrassing the government internationally. According to the government’s response to a July 2017 Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade report on Venezuela, “CFLI [Canadian Funding to Local Initiatives] programming includes support for a local NGO documenting the risks to journalists and freedom of expression in Venezuela, in order to provide important statistical evidence to the national and international community on the worsening condition of basic freedoms in the country.” Another CFLI initiative funded during Rowswell’s tenure in Caracas “enabled Venezuelan citizens to anonymously register and denounce corruption abuses by government officials and police through a mobile phone application.”

Just after resigning as ambassador, Rowswell told the Ottawa Citizen: “We established quite a significant internet presence inside Venezuela, so that we could then engage tens of thousands of Venezuelan citizens in a conversation on human rights. We became one of the most vocal embassies in speaking out on human rights issues and encouraging Venezuelans to speak out.”

Can you imagine the hue and cry if a Venezuelan ambassador said something similar about Canada? In recent months there have been a number of parliamentary committee and intelligence reports about Russian interference in Canada based on far less. Last month Justin Trudeau claimed, “countries like Russia are behind a lot of the divisive campaigns … that have turned our politics even more divisive and more anger-filled than they have been in the past.” That statement is 100 times more relevant to Canada/Rowswell’s interference in Venezuela than Russia’s role here.

Recently Rowswell has been speaking across the country on “How Democracy Dies: Lessons from Venezuela and the U.S.”

I wonder if the talk includes any discussion of Canadian diplomats deployed to interfere in other country’s political affairs?


More articles by:
Yves Engler’s latest book is ‪"Canada in Africa: 300 years of Aid and Exploitation."

US Economic War On Venezuela Targets CLAP Food Program....


Uploaded by The Last American Vagabond | Published on May 24, 2019.

1. Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela. By Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs, April 2019
2. “Hunger, desperation, and overthrow of government”…US policy since 1960.
3. US Economic War on Venezuela Targets CLAP Food Program Relied on by Millions. By Alexander Rubinstein.

Sanctions ‘hurt the most vulnerable’ in Venezuela.


Uploaded by RT America | Published on May 24, 2019.

The Impact of Sanctions on Venezuela's Food Supplies.


Uploaded by TeleSUR English | Published on May 24, 2019.
.

US hospital ship will assist 11 countries in response to Venezuelan crisis.

By Jim Wyss
El Nuevo Herald | 24th May, 2019.

Translation:
The USNS Comfort, a hospital ship of the US Navy, is floating near Riohacha, Colombia, where it cares for the most needy, including Venezuelan migrants. Among the crew there are 14 Venezuelan doctors.

Eleven countries, including Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Panama, will benefit from the medical assistance mission to be carried out by a Navy hospital ship to respond to the effects of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, the Southern Command said Thursday.

The USNS Comfort doctors will also provide their services on board or at local medical institutions in Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago.

"This deployment responds directly to the crisis provoked by the regime of (Nicolás) Maduro," said Admiral Craig Faller, head of the Southern Command, in a statement released Thursday on the mission, which had been announced last week. may.

The Southern Command so far has not reported the countries in which this mission will be developed for five months and has not yet said the exact date of departure of the Comfort, which is based in Norfolk (Virginia), although it will be in the middle of June.

"The Comfort medical teams will work together with the medical professionals of the host nations who have absorbed thousands of Venezuelan migrants and refugees," Fuller said.

"The Venezuelan people flee desperately from their homeland in search of a better way of life. We are committed to finding ways to support the Venezuelan people and our regional partners who share the goal of seeing a legitimate and democratic government reinstated in Venezuela," said the head of the Southern Command.

This is the seventh deployment of the Comfort since 2007.

The previous mission took place between October and December 2018 in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Honduras, lasted 11 weeks and helped more than 26,700 patients in need.

According to the statement, 599 surgeries were carried out on board.

As with the last deployment, the plan is to send medical professionals from partner countries to join the effort to provide medical care to patients.

It seeks to help "relieve the pressure in the national health systems" of the countries that have hosted the millions of Venezuelans who have fled the political, social and economic crisis in their nation.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) this week, there are already 3.7 million Venezuelans who have left their country, due to an unprecedented political, social and economic crisis in the oil nation. SOURCE

Germany declines to recognize Juan Guaido's Berlin emissary.


Uploaded by antikriegTV | Published on May 22, 2019.

On April 28, 2019, the following resolution was passed by a large majority at the Aufstehen-Congress in Berlin:

"Nicolas Maduro is the legitimately elected president of Venezuela. Aufstehen-Berlin requires the federal government to cease all support for Juan Guaido. Our demand is based on international law, in particular the UN Charter." SOURCE

Daily Sabah | 09.02.2019

The international recognition of Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó could amount to interference in the country's internal affairs, experts at Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, have said.

There are "strong reasons" for this assumption, the experts said in a report which AFP news agency obtained Saturday.

"Thus, the question whether interference in internal affairs in the present case qualifies as an inadmissible intervention remains entirely justified."

The report, commissioned by the Left Party at Bundestag, emphasized whether this "early recognition" was admissible under international law.

This recognition issue arises "before a new state authority is enforced," the reports says, but adds that the verdict on whether a new state power is "decisively enforced" depends on political discretion.

Whether the "real prerequisites" for early recognition were present could not be established "with the available means," the experts admitted in the report.

Andrej Hunko, a lawmaker from the Left Party, said the report confirmed his views that the recognition of Guaido was contrary to international law.

"The German federal government could have mediated," explained Hunko, adding "Instead, it discredited itself with its one-sided partisanship."

Underlining that Guaido currently has no real power in Venezuela, Hunko warned that acknowledging him as president only further intensifies the conflict.

Similarly, a Venezuelan Supreme Court justice said Friday that National Assembly leader Juan Guaido's decision to declare himself interim president was "null and void".

In a statement, Justice Juan Mendoza said Guaido's interim government conflicts with the country's constitution and he is usurping presidential powers.

The court has already barred Guaido from leaving the country and frozen his bank accounts.

Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10 when President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.

Tensions rose when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself acting president on Jan. 23, a move which was supported by the U.S., Germany and many other European and Latin American countries.

Russia, Turkey, China, Iran, Bolivia and Mexico have put their weight behind Maduro.

DW | 28.03.2019

As Venezuela's self-appointed interim president, Juan Guaido has named diplomats to 10 EU countries. The German government considers Guaido Venezuela's president, but it hasn't confirmed Otto Gebauer as ambassador.

In a video posted online dated March 16 and shot in Cologne, Otto Gebauer criticizes the government of acting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, discusses the details of a recent conversation with Marian Schuegraf, the German Foreign Ministry's commissioner for Latin America and the Caribbean, and emphasizes the urgency of working with the industrial manufacturer Siemens to reduce power outages back in Venezuela. The on-screen text refers to Gebauer as "Venezuela's ambassador to Germany." He holds no such title.

The German government will not recognize Gebauer as ambassador. For the purposes of conducting official talks, on March 13 the government described him as the "personal representative of interim President Juan Guaido" and, in a request for clarification from the opposition Left party, added that "further steps are not currently planned."

"I believe that this decision is comprehensive, pragmatic and proportionate to the situation," said Helge Lindh, a Social Democrat and member of the Bundestag's parliamentary group for the Andean nations. "Given the difficult situation in Venezuela, there is simply no perfect solution. It is not something inconsequential, but rather diplomacy in the narrowest sense of the word."

Spain has lobbied its fellow European Union members to not grant Guaido's emissaries diplomatic status. "Recognizing Guaido was a political decision and a signal," Lindh said. "But, in the current situation, it doesn't make sense to confirm Guaido's shadow ambassadors, as that ignores the fact that the power remains with Maduro and his system."

The fact that interim presidents have a maximum term of 30 days under Venezuelan law has also become increasingly problematic for the German government and Guaido's other international supporters. That period expired in February. Elections are not yet an option. "In the view of the federal government, the political parameters have not been fulfilled," according to Germany's Foreign Ministry.

The situation has become paradoxical: Venezuela has simultaneous ambassadors in Germany, but the government will not carry out official talks with either of them. "This cannot be a long-term situation in which we continue like this for years," Lindh said.

At a minimum, the Left party has praised the decision not to recognize Gebauer as Venezuela's ambassador. "The government's decision is correct as dispatching of new representatives for Venezuela is based on the recognition of self-appointed President Juan Guaido in violation of international law," said Heike Hänsel, the member of the Bundestag's foreign affairs committee who lodged the official request for clarification on Gebauer's status. She had previously criticized the government's decision to recognize Guaido as Venezuela's president.

A Bundestag inquiry concluded that recognizing Guaido as Venezuela's president was questionable at best in the eyes of international law. The decision not to recognize Gebauer as ambassador could be seen as a matter of course correction. "This proves the absurdity of Germany's Venezuela policy," Hänsel said. "Recognizing Guaido maneuvered out of the bounds of international law and this rows it back again."

The shift in EU foreign policy "contrary to the line of the Trump administration, which had unfortunately been supported by the Foreign Ministry," is overall positive, Hänsel said. "Even the federal government is very slowly acknowledging that the contradictions are becoming ever larger and is now attempting damage control." She said the decision not to recognize Gebauer as ambassador was "a first step toward the observance of international law" and added that Germany's government must now reorient its policy toward finding a political solution in deeply split Venezuela.


'Unfortunate' foreign policy


Hans-Joachim Heintze, a jurist and professor at the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict at the Ruhr University Bochum, describes the Foreign Ministry's policies toward Venezuela so far as "unfortunate." Heintze said Germany's government had recognized Guaido "prematurely and thereby robbed itself of certain possibilities."

The US' disastrous Venezuela policy ought to have served as a warning for Germany's government, Heintze said: "The United States has always very prematurely and very intensely interfered in Latin America. Ask yourself what kind of reputation the US has in Latin America nowadays. Germany should have operated more cautiously."

Heintze said the decision not to recognize Gebauer as ambassador represented a sort of caving by Germany's government. "External efforts to influence states' internal policies are always unfavorable," he said. Germany has only managed to cultivate relationships with and build channels to opposition figures, Heintze said, "and now Berlin sees that the situation in Venezuela will not be so quickly clarified."


Imprisoner-cum-ambassador


Ultimately, Germany's government may have done Guaido a favor. Gebauer is an incendiary figure in Venezuela. He was imprisoned for six years, three months and 25 days for his direct role in the effort to overthrow Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's previously democratically elected president, in 2002.

Gebauer, a former military captain, was a member of the commando unit that took Chavez to La Orchila island and held him prisoner. "I Saw Him Cry" is the book Gebauer wrote after holding the president in custody.

You don't have to oppose Guaido to wonder whether he might not have been able to come up with a more diplomatic figure. "Gebauer doesn't conform to our ideal image of an unblemished democrat," Lindh said. Anyway, he added, "the federal government would not have recognized anyone else as Venezuela's ambassador either." SOURCE

Who’s Behind the Pro-Guaidó Crowd Besieging Venezuela’s D.C. Embassy?




The intimidation tactics by the pro-coup embassy besiegers not only failed to deter the peace activists around the embassy, they left Venezuela’s D.C.-based opposition with a serious PR problem. After a week of hateful outbursts, a handful of marketing strategists emerged as de facto spokespeople for the mob.
By Jeb Sprague and Alexander Rubinstein
MintPress News | May 17, 2019.

After a rough and revealing start, the reins of the campaign to seize Venezuela’s embassy in Washington are being taken over by a group of well-connected marketing and online strategists.
 
In this article, we will examine the backgrounds of these individuals, the platforms they use to disseminate their message, and the tactics they have employed to clamor for an embassy seizure that violates international law. We will also address how they may stand to benefit directly from an escalation of Washington’s hybrid war and a potential regime-change scenario in Venezuela.

Washington serves as a magnet for many elite and upper-middle-class professionals from countries that have been targeted by U.S. regime-change efforts. In their home countries, some of these elements may function as the shock troops or intellectual beacons of empire, forming the front lines of American-backed color-revolution-style destabilization campaigns. In the U.S., some upwardly mobile members of the diaspora also become lobbyists for regime change. They position themselves as the true voices of “the people” of their nation, while the poor and working class majorities of those countries are left behind, ignored by the corporate media and unable to travel north.

 This sensibility is perfectly reflected by the crowd of pro-coup Venezuelan exiles and diaspora members that has besieged the Venezuelan Embassy in a bid to starve out the American activists who have staged a round-the-clock protest inside.
 
In early April, peace activists were invited by Venezuela’s government into its embassy in D.C., after the Trump administration ordered the country’s diplomats to depart. Over twenty wound up taking up residence in the embassy, hoping to prevent an illegal seizure of the building.

On April 30 – the same day self-proclaimed “president” Juan Guaidó staged a failed military coup – pro-Guaidó Venezuelans initiated their siege of the embassy. As they converged on the premises, some unleashed a wave of violent, misogynistic, and racist attacks on peace activists both inside and outside the building. 

Some of the pro-Guaidó militants are believed to have since carried out physical attacks, made death threats, and harassed the family members of embassy defenders. Some are also believed to have committed acts of property destruction, wrecked the tents of activists, and ransacked an embassy office while promoting ultra-Zionism and praising President Donald Trump and the police. TeleSUR’s correspondent Alina Duarte has faced a torrent of threats from some of the pro-Guaidó extremists, returning home one night to find that someone had attempted to break into and enter her apartment.


The intimidation tactics not only failed to deter the peace activists around the embassy, they left Venezuela’s D.C.-based opposition with a serious PR problem. After a week of hateful outbursts, a handful of marketing strategists emerged as de facto spokespeople for the mob. They are now delegated for interviews with national media outlets, deploying a combination of liberal-sounding language and identity politics to deflect from the presence of violent, sociopathic elements within the mob, some of whom will also be identified in this article.

The well-groomed spokespeople for regime change

 

Dilianna C. Bustillos (also known as Dillianna Bustillos Vivas) has become a poster child for the pro-Guaidó mob. A senior manager at Oracle, she previously worked for MarketBridge and for the advocate marketing firm Influitive. Oracle, a computer technology corporation and one of the largest companies in the world, also works closely with aerospace and defense companies. In 2018 it had global revenues of $39.83 billion.

Bustillos previously volunteered with Visión Democrática, a pro-opposition Venezuelan lobbying outfit in D.C. that claims to focus on “democracy promotion” — code for regime change. Francisco Márquez, the executive director of Visión Democrática, is the political advisor to Juan Guaidó’s fake ambassador in Washington.

A fellow of the “Democracy in Hard Places Initiative” at Harvard’s Ash School for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Marquez has held meetings with Vice President Mike Pence and is a key figure of the pro-coup Venezuelan lobby in Washington. Visión Democrática also employs Carlos Figueroa, who attended a recent Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) meeting in Washington on the potential for a military invasion of Venezuela.

In her media interviews, Bustillos never reveals her top-level corporate marketing position nor her support for political groups that advocate for sanctions and U.S. intervention.

Rather, she has presented herself as just another concerned Venezuelan citizen, with nothing special to gain and no agenda beyond saving her country from the evildoers. In a media interview outside of the embassy, Bustillos claimed that she was “not for U.S. intervention.” Such claims have been accepted at face value by the New York Times, which wrote: “Mr. Guaidó’s supporters insist they are not making a case for American military intervention in Venezuela, but only want the Americans to leave a building that does not belong to them.

 A screenshot from the Vice video featuring Dilianna C. Bustillos (AKA Dillianna Bustillos Vivas)


However, Bustillos’s Twitter timeline reveals that she has openly advocated for U.S. sanctions, which we now know collectively punish the country’s population. She also openly supports Guaidó, who himself has suggested he would support a U.S. attack on his own country. Guaidó’s fake ambassador, Carlos Vecchio, has asked the head of the U.S. Southern Military Command to begin strategic and operational planning” towards intervening in the country. Support for a U.S. invasion has also been voiced by many other pro-coup/pro-Guaidó Venezuelan-Americans outside the embassy including one of the leaders of the crowd, Robert Nasser.

Some in the pro-Guaidó crowd have claimed that they want to see the embassy seized by Guaidó’s forces simply so they can renew their passports. However, an embassy for a government that does not exist and holds no territory in Venezuela would clearly have no ability to renew a passport. 

In fact, seizing the embassy is aimed at setting up a parallel government and pushing for U.S. invasion or civil war, but under the guise of diplomatic officialdom. This is where the contradiction of those who express themselves as the authentic voices of “the Venezuelan people” is exposed, as they support the collective punishment of Venezuelans through sanctions, internal destabilization, and U.S. intervention, while demanding that their countrymen and women be delivered from economic crisis. 


On cue, the pro-coup lobby tells people to follow the hashtag #AskAVenezuelan. Caracas Chronicles, a U.S.-based blog popular with anti-Chavista Venezuelan-Americans, has also promoted the hashtag. This hashtag and the website under the same name (www.AskAVenezuelan.com) have quickly become a marketing mantra for the pro-Guaidó lobby in D.C. 

Advanced marketing strategies have also been used by others seeking to escalate conflict, such as with the professional Syrian-American activists who called in recent years for U.S. military intervention in Syria. Some Nicaraguan-American groups in D.C. have also successfully promoted the financial strangulation of their country by the U.S. empire through the NICA Act.

#AskAnUpperClassVenezuelan

 

So who owns the website www.AskAVenezuelan.com? According to a search through godaddy.com, the website is owned by Nelli Romero, a computer repair consultant who also owns a company called MyTeks.com. On Twitter, Romero goes by Nellie Belén Izarza. The company’s site on Zoominfo claims it has an annual revenue of $4.2 million.

On her Linkedin page, under the name Nelli R., she describes herself as an expert in “political and social media engineering” in Washington, D.C.

Romero has also worked as a consultant and lobbyist with the liberal Sunlight Foundation non-profit. Yet, in old social media posts, Romero supported and hyped up the violent guarimba protests that resulted in numerous deaths. One tactic familiar to the guarimbas was the guaira, where pro-coup militants tied razor wire across streets that then resulted in the deaths of motorcyclists and passersby, some by decapitation.

 A screenshot of the LinkedIn page of Nellie Romero (AKA Nellie Belén Izarza)


In March of 2019, in apparent outrage that Washington had not yet authorized a military invasion of her homeland, Romero tweeted out (in Spanish): “With no U.S. Marine Corps there is no paradise.”

The pro-Guaidó spokespeople often insist to reporters that the group is neither right-wing nor left-wing in its political ideology, and that they do not want war or intervention. However, a quick glance over the “Ask a Venezuelan” website shows that it has repeatedly promoted Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) calls for U.S. intervention and brutal sanctions. Both Romero and Bustillos have often retweeted and praised Rubio, a neoconservative considered one of the most militaristic members of the U.S. Congress.

In a testament to how astroturfed the #AskAVenezuelan campaign is, the website admits that it was only started in response to a massive mobilization of anti-war activists in Washington who were protesting against Trump’s sanctions and intervention. In the “About” section, they say they “witnessed first-hand the high levels of misinformation about the situation in Venezuela.”

 A screenshot from the AskAvenzuelan.com website


With the Republican Party in the U.S. already fully invested in the coup, ensuring support for regime change within the Democratic Party establishment, along with favorable coverage from liberal-leaning media outlets, is at the top of the opposition’s agenda. This is where Romero and Bustillos enter the picture, as both describe themselves as liberal Democrats, even while they support the ultra-militarism of Marco Rubio. Romero has taken on an important lobbying role, meeting recently with Hillary Clinton’s former 2016 running mate, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).

For her part, Romero advocates for LGBTQ rights even while apparently controlling the #AskAVenezuelan brand. She is clearly not happy with those in the pro-Guaidó mob that have unleashed tirades of vitriolic homophobia against their political foes across the street and in the embassy. Together with Bustillos, she is appearing to do all she can to repackage the angry, entitled roar of a largely right-wing mob into a bipartisan message that appeals to a war-weary U.S. public.
Beyond the PR strategy that governs the embassy siege, D.C.’s pro-Guaidó lobby appears intent on consolidating a new status quo where Caracas is permanently isolated both diplomatically and economically, and an escalation of the conflict is just over the horizon.

The D.C. regime-change crew 

 

Besides the marketing strategists, a number of well-connected Venezuelan exiles and diaspora members from the D.C. area have mobilized alongside some demonstrably violent figures each day outside the embassy. 

One pro-coup activist seen on embassy grounds is Emerson Hevia, a Senior Principal Architect at the arms manufacturer Raytheon. The company is considered one of the biggest war profiteers in human history.

Also present at the protests has been Moises Rendon, a fellow at the hawkish Center for Strategic and International Studies. Backed by NATO, defense contractors, and Gulf monarchies, this D.C. think tank was exposed by The Grayzone for hosting a private roundtable of Trump and Guaidó advisors to discuss the use of military force against Venezuela.

Alejandro Perez Barrios — a former employee of the World Bank and currently a senior manager at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank group — has also taken part in the embassy siege.

Another prominent pro-coup activist is Carlos Alaya (also known as Carlos Alfredo Ayala Quintero), a marketing strategist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). One of Washington’s most important international financial institutions (IFIs) promoting neoliberal austerity across the hemisphere, the IDB recently hired a key architect of the coup in Venezuela, Ricardo Hausmann. The son of the President of the Venezuelan Association of Constitutional Law, Alaya has berated peace activists with vile epithets. 

In fact, it has been common for many of the pro-coup activists to verbally assault female CODEPINK members, hurl racist invective at black anti-war activists, anti-Semitic slurs at reporters, and play jingoistic Trump speeches on loudspeakers.


Another character known as “Mohamed” has aggressively attempted to rip food away from embassy protectors and briefly broke into the embassy, where he ransacked an entire room. He was then allowed by Secret Service police to walk freely among the mob outside, where he was seen providing private security to Guaidó’s faux ambassador Carlos Vecchio.  


Cathy Caminero is a consistent participant of the pro-coup mob. She has been seen openly in public making threatening gestures against embassy defenders. 

Her partner, Cesar Caminero, has also taken part in the pro-coup siege. On his Linkedin profile, Cesar Caminero states that he is a senior level IT Engineer with an active Department of Defense (DoD) secret clearance. DoD secret clearances are provided only to either DoD employees or approved employees of a DoD associated contractor. Caminero currently works as a senior Windows engineer team leader for Navstar Inc., a firm that provides IT and other services for U.S. intelligence agencies and the Department of State. Video on Twitter shows Cesar together with Guaidó’s fake ambassador Carlos Vecchio.


A screenshot of the LinkedIn page of Cesar Caminero


Perhaps the most prominent non-Venezuelan supporter of the embassy siege is a neighbor of the embassy. He is Jim McCarthy of CounterPoint Strategies. According to its website, CounterPoint has “specialized in an aggressive, combative style of crisis management.” Earlier in his career, McCarthy is said to have “handled a variety of Fortune 500 and foreign government accounts” for two major public relations agencies in Washington. With a slew of wealthy clients, his company has been said to be “often at odds with Greenpeace” while “McCarthy helped pioneer the practice of using Google ads to target journalists.” On Twitter, McCarthy has denounced Venezuela’s elected government and promotes an interventionist position.

Many in the pro-Guaidó mob appear to work for either international financial institutions, hawkish D.C. think tanks, or arms- and military-oriented contractors.

Candid audio of members of the opposition recorded surreptitiously and obtained by MintPress News expresses fear of revealing their identities linked to their professions (including one opposition protester who describes herself as being involved in “national security”).

Hailing from affluent backgrounds and overflowing with entitlement, the regime-change crew besieging the embassy does not mind brutalizing the anti-war activists that stand in their way. As numerous media reports show, the so-called “peaceful” and “pro-democracy” mob enjoys blaring 120 dB air horns just inches away from the eardrums of anti-war activists, and flashing bright strobe and scuba lights directly in the eyes of embassy defenders, even the elderly. Secret Service officers coordinating with Trump’s Department of State have stood by and done little to nothing. Violating international law, electricity has been cut off to the embassy and recently D.C. police themselves began to actively stop food and water from getting to those inside.


One anti-coup activist often present outside the embassy wondered if the fake ambassador, Vecchio, had hired a top-flight PR firm to control the messaging of the pro-coup mob. He explains: 

Between Tuesday and Wednesday [May 7-8] there was a huge, concerted shift. People were seen coaching young Venezuelan-American women on how to cry and to wave their passports. They removed some of the more vitriolic opposition and dressed up some golpistas [coup supporters] in rainbow LGBTQ flags to downplay their rampant homophobia.”

On May 7, oppositionists wrapped themselves in at least a dozen pride flags, but the following day, the flags had totally disappeared.


As national media focuses its lenses on the delegated spokespeople of the pro-coup mob outside the Venezuelan Embassy, the voices of millions of working-class Venezuelans who voted in large numbers for their elected government, or even just those who do not want to see an escalation of the conflict, have been wholly ignored. Instead, Americans are instructed to consult a carefully conceived “Ask a Venezuelan” campaign that was designed by corporate marketing strategists. It is the brainchild of elite members of the diaspora with ties to the U.S. government, the military-industrial complex, and the Guaidó coup administration. And, as with a number of other PR campaigns, it is designed to distract Americans from the deeply unsettling reality unfolding in the heart of their nation’s capital.

Feature photo | Carla Bustillos of Alexandria, Va., carries her son Carlos as she yells into a bullhorn with supporters of US-backed self-declared president Juan Guaido during outside of the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, April 30, 2019. Andrew Harnik | AP

Jeb Sprague lectures at the University of Virginia and formerly taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Globalizing the Caribbean: Political Economy, Social Change, and the Transnational Capitalist Class (Temple University Press, 2019) and Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti (Monthly Review Press, 2012), and is the editor of Globalization and Transnational Capitalism in Asia and Oceania (Routledge, 2016). He is a founding member of the Network for Critical Studies of Global Capitalism (NCSGC)

Alexander Rubinstein is a staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He reports on police, prisons and protests in the United States and the United States’ policing of the world. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.


#TrumpUnblockVenezuela: US Sanctions, Violations Against Venezuela.

Sputnik International | 20 May, 2019

US-imposed sanctions against Venezuela are a part of a bipartisan campaign to obstruct the Latin American nation's independence, both financially and politically, and have grown into a full economic blockade, according to a list of actions and executive orders documented by Caracas.

18 December 2014: Under the pretext of cracking down on protesters during opposition rallies in February, the US Congress passes Public Law 113-278 to outline the blueprint for sanctioning Venezuela, including the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) and state oil firm Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), which generates 90 percent of revenues for the South American country. 

The bill unilaterally blocks and freezes assets, funds, goods and properties owned by Caracas, as well as suspends entry to or revoked visas and documentation for Venezuelan public, military and diplomatic officials, sparking the current economic, financial and commercial embargo on the Latin American country. 

8 March 2015: Former US president Barack Obama converts Public Law 113-278 into Executive Order 13692, also known as the "Obama Decree", which designated Caracas as an "unusual and extraordinary threat to US national security", increasing his power to implement coercive measures used to intervene in Venezuela's internal affairs, and was renewed in March 2016.

May 2016: German financial firm Commerzbank concedes to pressure from the US and closes accounts for the PDVSA and other Venezuelan public banks and institutions. 

July 2016: US bank Citibank stops issuing foreign currency accounts to Venezuelan institutions in the US, affecting the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), placing Venezuela with the highest financial risk in the world at 2640 points, despite Caracas paying off 63.6bn in external debt obligations. 

August 2016: Portuguese bank Novo Banco ceases dollar operations with Venezuelan banks amid pressure from the US. The Portuguese bank would later suspend $1.2bn in funds transferred by the US in February 2019, at the request of US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaidó. 

September 2016: The Venezuelan government agrees to exchange 7.1bn USD in PDVSA bonds to restructure its finances, with three major US risk rating agencies later announcing they will default Caracas if investors enter Venezuelan markets.

November 2016: US finance firm JP Morgan alleges that Venezuela failed to make payments on PDVSA debt of roughly $404m, which was instead caused by a "technical mistake", according to Torino Capital.

July 2017: Delaware Trust, the PDVSA's bonds payment agent, states that US-based PNC Bank refused to take funds from Caracas, with Citibank later refusing to receive funds used to import 300,000 insulin doses. Swiss bank Credit Suisse would later ban clients from conducting financial transactions in August on behalf of National Assembly president Julio Borges. 

24 August 2017: The US imposed additional sanctions on Caracas via EO 13808 which prohibits direct or indirect purchases of securities from the Venezuelan government, including bonds, loans, credit extensions, and others, officially legalising the blockade. 

August 2017: Bank of China in Panama announces that it cannot conduct financial transactions in foreign currencies for Venezuela amid pressure from the US Treasury Department and Panama government. The news comes amid a China-Venezuelan oil-for-loans deal struck in May aimed at restructuring the country's finances. Russian banks issue warnings for similar reasons.

October 2017: The US blockade prevents Swiss bank UBS, Pfizer, Novartis and others from accepting Venezuela money deposits used for vaccines and medicines by the Revolving and Strategic Fund of the Pan-American Health Organisation, causing a four-month delay in receiving vaccines.

The block follows a 2015 US probe into alleged ties to Venezuelan "money laundering" schemes, forcing 18 Swiss banks to turn over records to the US Department of Justice, despite Venezuela arresting five Citgo officials accused of funnelling money to accounts in the US.

November 2017: Deutsche Bank, the Venezuelan BCV's main correspondent, closes its account. 23 Venezuelan financial operations used for food, medicines and supplies totalling $39m are blocked by international banks. Standard and Poor (S&P) later declares a "selective default" after accusing Venezuela of missing a payment. As the blockade further damages Venezuela's economy, US bond manager Wilmington Trust alleges state electric company Corpoelec of not cancelling $27m in debt interests. 

December 2017: European banks return $29.7m in transactions used by the Local Committees for Supply and Production (CLAP) food programme, with JP Morgan delaying $28.1m in funds used to pay for food vessels transporting supplies to Venezuela. Product shortages surface in several states across Venezuela after US banks close a further 19 bank accounts, causing 471,000 vehicle tyres to be retained abroad.

January: 2018: The Venezuelan government cannot repay 11 debt and PDVSA bonds worth $1.2bn due to sanctions. 

February 2018: The US Treasury Department extends powers of EO 13808, blocking the restructuring of state and PDVSA debts issued on 25 August 2017. 

March 2018: The Trump Administration renews Obama-era EO 13692 and EO 13808 for a year, and imposes six new measures aimed at blocking use of the Petro via EO 13827, Venezuela's state cryptocurrency, aimed at blocking the repatriation of dividends from Citgo Petroleum. The order would also prohibit citizens or institutions from using the Petro.

April 2018: The Peruvian Foreign Ministry, acting on behalf of the pro-US Lima Group, announces during the Summit of the Americas that it would launch a group aimed at studying political and economic measures against Venezuela (original statement in Spanish). The US and Colombia agree to increase measures against Caracas. 

21 May 2018: The US issues EO 13835 after Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro is re-elected by 67 percent of the electorate (9m citizens). The order expands the blockade against Caracas and sanctions 20 Venezuelan companies for alleged drug trafficking ties, and blocks the purchase of debt of Venezuelan companies, including the sale, transfer, or granting guarantees to shares of capital owned 50 percent or more by the Venezuelan government, in the US.

The Trump Administration later blocks $9m in supplies for 15,000 hemodialysis patients, with Bogota blocking shipments of 400,000 kilos of food for Caracas' Clap food subsidy programme. 

November 2018: US president Donald Trump issues a measure blocking US citizens from trading Venezuelan gold. 

January 2019: President Trump approves sanctions against PDVSA which freezes $7bn in Citgo assets, in addition to roughly $11bn in exports. The UK's Bank of England later announces the extrajudicial seizure of $1.4bn in gold deposited in London as reported by Bloomberg, four days after Venezuelan gold holdings spiked following a swap deal with Deutsche Bank. 

January — April 2019: The US blocks Venezuela's MINERVEN gold production and seller via EO 13850, targeting operations in Bandes, including Uruguay Banco Bandes Uruguay SA, Banco de Venezuela SA and others. The measure also blocks PDVSA and over 30 of its oil tankers from 28 January to 12 April, legalising the seizure of assets from Caracas in nations friendly to the US.

Relations have soured between Caracas and Washington since the Trump Administration recognised opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president against international law. Mr Guaidó, the US and its allies urged Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro to step down and seized billion in Venezuelan assets. Maduro has slammed the US, accusing its North Atlantic neighbour of violating international law and orchestrating a coup aimed at seizing Venezuela's natural resources. The Venezuelan government has been backed by China, Russia, Cuba, Bolivia, Turkey and others, all whom have stated Mr Maduro is the Latin American country's only legitimate president. Sanctions have led to the deaths of nearly 40,000 people from 2017 to 2018, and cost the Venezuelan government $30bn in state revenues, according to a scathing April 2019 report from the Centre for Economic Policy and Research. SOURCE