#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

Zakharova: US Inconsistent! Sanctions Venezuela .. Continues Buying its Oil.

Uploaded by Vesti News | Published on May 23, 2019.

Canadian Doctor Timothy Bood on Venezuela.

Uploaded by TeleSUR English | Published on May 23, 2019.

Failed uprising: What happens next in Venezuela? | Conflict Zone.

Uploaded by DW News | Published on May 21, 2019.

Ms. Neumann is the official representative of Venezuela's "interim president" to the United Kingdom. On May 17, Al Jazeera's Mehdi Hasan also interviewed Ms. Neumann on "Up Front" and posted the following excerpt on Twitter.

Uploaded by The Majority Report w/ Sam Seder | Published on May 20, 2019.

Interviews From Caracas: John McEvoy.

Uploaded by TeleSUR English | Published on May 22, 2019.

On today's "From Caracas", The Canary Journalist John McEvoy came to Venezuela to witness the impact of the U.S. economic sanctions on the Venezuelan people firsthand. SOURCE

Venezuelan Military Deserters adrift in Colombia.

Orinoco Tribune | March 18, 2019.

Uploaded by TeleSUR English Published on Mar 18, 2019.

After a group of military deserters from Venezuela denounced the abandonment by the Colombian authorities, the right wing Venezuelan politicians and the Agency for Refugees of the United Nations (UNHCR), the supposed “ambassador” appointed by the deputy Juan Guaidó in Colombia, Humberto Calderón Berti, spoke about it.

Through a statement, Calderón Berti caught up with the statements and claims of the troops and said their problems will be addressed. He even stressed that these “have been given temporary assistance consisting of accommodations and food.

This Monday, March 18, a multidisciplinary meeting will be held with national and local authorities (from Colombia), as well as with the Embassy of Venezuela (that means him), to advance in the search for a definitive solution for the needs of these young soldiers and their families”, details the letter.

The Venezuelan defector in question, let’s remember, told the media of the neighboring country that they were given a maximum period of four days to exit from the facility they have been using in the border area, specifically in Cúcuta. They also stressed that in exchange they were offered 350 thousand Colombian pesos (US$ 112), a mattress and bed-sheets for each one.

We are adrift, we do not have the support of anyone. We want Juan Guaidó to come face-to-face”, said the Venezuelan Army’s second sergeant Luis González Hernández, who served as spokesperson for the group. SOURCE

The Venezuelan military and police personnel who had transferred their loyalties to the "interim president" in February and had crossed the border into Cucuta, Colombia, were being hosted in hotels there at the expense of the insurgency and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Several of these defectors were accompanied by their families. Some days ago they were evicted from the hotels because according to some sources, no funds were forthcoming to continue paying for their accommodation. The complaint by some of the deserters is that they have been used by the "interim president" who has ruined their lives. Others express a continuing willingness to support the coup.

“You must go. Leave in 3 days. Here are 350 thousand pesos and a mat for each one,” 
this is what they said today to the Venezuelan military deserters in Cucuta. 
They no longer have any use. The time of your scene is over. The curtain goes down.”

Meanwhile the Colombian Government, in agreement with the "Interim Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela," has devised a plan to integrate these persons into the civilian life of Colombia.  A translation of the the official communication on this matter from the Colombian National Unit for Disaster Risk Management is presented below.

Unidad National para la Gestion de Riesgo de Desastres
Disaster Risk Management in Colombia
Sistema Nacional de Gestion del Riesgo de Desastres.

Colombia establishes service plan for ex-servicemen and ex-Venezuelan policemen who are in the national territory.

The Government of Colombia, through a memorandum of understanding with the Interim Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, established a scheme for addressing former members of the Venezuelan Armed Forces and Police located in the Colombian territory, in order that they can develop a life as civilians and in complete normality while the conditions in their native country allow them to return to exercise their functions in the public force.

In this regard, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as a representative of the Government of Colombia headed by Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo and the Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Colombia, Humberto Calderón Berti, a memorandum was signed, where they will coordinate inter-institutional way, between the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management, Chancellery, the Ministry of National Defense, Migration Colombia, the National Service of Learning -SENA-, the Ministry of Education and other entities considered necessary, the actions for the attention

Thus, under this memorandum, the Colombian National Government will determine the beneficiaries based on the information collated with Migración Colombia, which will include its family nuclei, this with the purpose of determining the total number of people who are under these conditions in the country.

Later and after the process of validation and updating of the information, the former members of the Military and Police Forces of Venezuela who are in Colombia and who meet the conditions set forth in the memorandum will have access to the PEP, a support for basic assistance, training. Appropriate efforts will be made to find quotas in the education system for minors who require it.

Under this line, the basic care actions will be coordinated with the support of the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management.

Also, through the National Service of Learning, SENA, complementary training will be done according to the institutional offer in each region.

Migration Colombia, for its part, will issue a work permit for up to two years, which will authorize them and them families to be able to exercise a remunerated work activity that allows them to maintain and support them while they remain in Colombia.

Finally, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs inter-institutional efforts will be made to include infants in the education system depending on the quotas in each of the regions.

It is important to clarify that because of the quality and training of former members of the Armed Forces and Police of Venezuela and for reasons of national security for Colombia, they require special attention, which also indicates that these people cannot exercise military functions, nor police or security or defense, they cannot carry their weapons or wear their uniforms, and after benefiting from the benefits implemented by the Government of Colombia they will assume the status of civilians. SOURCE

Guaidó Out of Gas. Parts 1 & 2

Uploaded by The Real News Network | Published on May 23, 2019.

"After several US backed failed coup attempts, Juan Guaidó sends envoy to Oslo to join opposition for talks with the Government. Former Chief of Staff to Nicolás Maduro, Temir Porras joins Sharmini Peries for analysis." SOURCE

Final Four Activists Tell Of Venezuelan Embassy Siege - Parts I - III

Uploaded by VisionPlanetMedia | Published on May 22, 2019.

Raul Castro, Diaz-Canel express Support for Venezuela's Maduro.

Uploaded by efeinternational | Published on May 21, 2019.

Havana (Cuba), May 21 (EFE).- (Camera: Felipe Borrego). The head of the Cuban Communist Party, Raul Castro, and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel met with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza and expressed their support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, state-run media reported on Tuesday 21 May, 2019..

What will break Venezuela Stalemate?

Uploaded by RT America | Published on May 21, 2019.

Eyewitness Venezuela: Southern Tour with Gloria La Riva.

Uploaded by JMPRO TV | Streamed live 22 May, 2019.

Hungry Venezuelans to starve as US sanctions Food Program.

Uploaded by RT America | Published on May 22, 2019.

"The US government has now sanctioned individuals involved with Venezuela’s food program which feeds more than six million families. Washington is now claiming that the program, called CLAP, is laundering money and “corroding” democracy, offering no evidence for that."

Additional sources:
U.S. readies sanctions, charges over Venezuela food program: sources.

U.S. poised to file sanctions, criminal charges over Venezuela food-program fraud.

The Lima Group: International Outlaws.

The Lima Group: International Outlaws. [Republished]
By Christopher Black
NEO: New Eastern Outlook | 04.02.2019

The covert and overt interventions taking place against Venezuela by the United States and its allies are a form of aggression and a violation of the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter making the nations involved international outlaws.

The attempted coup against President Maduro of Venezuela may have failed so far but the jackals that instigated it have not given up their objective of forcing the majority of Venezuelans benefiting from the Bolivarian revolution begun by President Chavez, back to the misery the revolution is trying to save them from. The United States and its allied governments and media, working with American military and civilian intelligence services, are pumping out a constant flow of propaganda about the start of affairs in Venezuela to mislead and manipulate their own peoples so that they support their aggression and to undermine Venezuelans support for their revolution.

We have seen this type of propaganda before, the fake stories about “human rights” abuses, economic conditions, the cries of “democracy,” the propaganda about an “authoritarian” leader, a “tyrant,” “dictator”, all labels they have used before against leaders of nations that they have later murdered; President Arbenz, Allende, Torrijos, Habyarimana, Milosevic, Hussein, Ghaddafi are examples that come quickly to mind, so that the same threats against Maduro are not just propaganda but direct physical threats.

We see the same pretexts for military aggression used and same euphemisms being employed, the same cries for “humanitarian intervention,” which we now know are nothing more than modern echoes of Hitler’s pretexts for the invasion of Czechoslovakia, to “save the oppressed Germans.

We see the same smug lies and hypocrisy about the rule of law as they openly brag about their violation of international law with every step they take and talk as if they are gods ruling the world.

The United States is the principal actor in all this but it has beside it among other flunkey nations, perhaps the worst of them all, Canada, which has been an enthusiastic partner in crime of the United States since the end of the Second World War. We cannot forget its role in the aggression against North Korea, the Soviet Union, China, its secret role in the American aggression against Vietnam, against Iraq, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, Haiti, Iran, and the past several years Venezuela.

Canada will take the lead in the aggression against Venezuela on Monday February 4th when it hosts a meeting in Ottawa of a group of international war crime conspirators, known as The Lima Group, a group of Latin American and Caribbean lackeys of the United States, including Mexico and Canada which was set up by the United States at a meeting in Lima, Peru on August 8, 2017 with the express purpose of overthrowing President Maduro.

Canada’s harridan of foreign affairs, Chrystia Freeland, stated to the press recently that “Canada needs to play a leading role in the Lima Group because the crisis in Venezuela is unfolding in Canada’s global backyard. This is our neighbourhood. We have a direct interest in what happens in our hemisphere.

In Canada’s global backyard?” It’s astonishing to read it. Canada regards the globe as its backyard? She manages to reveal a severe case of megalomania and insult the rest of the nations of the world at the same time. Her statement that Venezuela “is our neighbourhood” is almost a direct adoption of the American claim to hegemony and “interventionism” in the western hemisphere as if Canada completely identifies itself with the United States, that is, in terms of foreign policy, has completely merged with the United States.

But, by doing so, the Canadian elite show themselves to be the enemies of progress and economic and social justice; shows them to be the antihuman reactionaries that they are. They also make themselves world outlaws.

Freeland claims that the Lima Group meeting will “address the political and economic crisis in Venezuela,” yet it is Canada that, along with the United States that has created the very crisis they are using as a pretext to attack President Maduro. It is they that have tried to topple both him and Chavez through assassination plots, threatened military invasion and economic warfare that has the sole purpose of disrupting the social and economic life of Venezuela, of making life as miserable as possible in order to foment unrest while conspiring with internal reactionary forces.

The Lima Group, began its dirty work in 2017 by issuing statements condemning the Bolivarian revolution, claimed that there was a break down of law and order in Venezuela and attempted to cancel the elections just held which gave President Maduro a solid majority of 68% of the votes in what all international elections observers judged free and fair.

Following the election of Maduro all of these nations withdrew their ambassadors from Venezuela. They did all this while claiming that their actions were taken “with full respect for the norms of international law and the principle of nonintervention” when they are plainly violating all norms of international law and the principle of non-intervention. They are also violating the UN Charter that prohibits any nation or group of nations from taken action outside the framework of the UN Security Council against any other nation.

The Ottawa meeting is in fact a meeting of criminal conspirators that are intent on committing acts of aggression, the supreme war crime against a sovereign nation and people.Intervention is generally prohibited under international law because it violates the concept of independent state sovereignty. All nations have the right to govern themselves as they deem fit and that no nation could rightfully interfere in the government of another.Since there can be no intervention without the presence of force or threats of its use the actions taken and threats made against Venezuela constitute the crime of aggression under international law.

The US and Canada are now threatening the use of armed force against Venezuela. John Bolton stated that all options are on the table and has even threatened Maduro with imprisonment in the US torture chambers of Guantanamo Bay. Britain has seized Venezuelan funds sitting in London banks, and the US and its flunkies are now trying to stop Venezuela and Turkey from dealing in Venezuelan gold, and, to add to their net, accuse them of sending the gold to Iran in violation of their illegal “sanctions.”

The hypocrisy hits you in the face especially when some of the same nations in the Lima Gang recognised as far bas as 1826 at the Congress of Panama the absolute prohibition of intervention by states in each other’s internal affairs. In attendance, were the states of Columbia, Central America, Mexico, and Peru. Led by Simon Bolivar, the Congress declared its determination to maintain "the sovereignty and independence of all and each of the confederated powers of America against foreign subjection.”

At the Seventh International Conference of American States held in Montevideo in 1933, The Convention on Rights and Duties of States, issued at the conclusion of the conference, to which the U.S. was a signatory, declared that "no state has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another.” The legal position of the doctrine of nonintervention was solidified three years later at Buenos Aires with the adoption of the Additional Protocol Relative to Non-Intervention. This document declared “inadmissible the intervention of any of the parties to the treaty, directly or indirectly, and for whatever reason, in the internal or external affairs of any other of the Parties.” The U.S. government agreed to this treaty without reservation as well.

The United Nations has become the primary source of the rules of International behavior since World War II. The principle of nonintervention between states is everywhere implicit in the Charter of the United Nations. Article 1 of the U.N. Charter sets out the four purposes of the organization, one of which is “to maintain international peace and security,” a task which includes the suppression of “threats to the peace,” “acts of aggression” and “other breaches of the peace.” Another is “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of people.” Article 2(1) goes on to base the organization on “the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members.”Articles 2(3) and 2(4) require Member States to utilize peaceful means in the settlement of disputes and to refrain from the use of force.

Article 2(4) states:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Thus, Article 2(4) prohibits the use of the economic and political pressures and the indirect subversion which is an integral part of covert action.

That covert action is forbidden under the law of the U.N. is supported by the numerous resolutions passed by the General Assembly which assert the right to national sovereignty and the principle of nonintervention in general, while specifically condemning particular tactics used in covert action.

At the risk of tiring the reader, I think it is worthwhile to reiterate what the General Assembly of the United Nations has stated over and again beginning with Resolution 290 (iv) in 1949. Referred to as the “Essentials of Peace” Resolution, this enactment called upon every nation to “refrain from any threats or acts, direct or indirect, aimed at impairing the freedom, independence or integrity of any State, or at fomenting civil strife and subverting the will of the people in any state.”

Resolution 1236(XII) passed in 1957, declared that “peaceful and tolerant relations among States” should be based upon “respect for each other’s sovereignty,equality and territorial integrity and nonintervention in one another’s internal affairs."

The first General Assembly resolution specifically prohibiting covert action was Resolution 213 1(XX). Entitled the “Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty,” this resolution was based on proposals made by the Soviet Union, nineteen Latin American States, and the United Arab Republic, whose draft resolution was co-sponsored by 26 other non-aligned countries. The declaration restated the aims and purposes of the U.N. and noted the importance of recognizing State sovereignty and freedom to self-determination in the current political atmosphere. The eighth preambular paragraph of Resolution stated that, “direct intervention, subversion and all forms of indirect intervention are contrary” to the principles of the U.N. and, “consequently, constitute a violation of the Charter of the United Nations."  The operative portion of the declaration consists of eight paragraphs, the first of which makes clear there can be no “intervention as of right”:

1. No State has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are condemned.’

In another paragraph the Resolution precisely defined the scope of its prohibition against intervention, demonstrating the illicit status of covert activities:

“2. No State may use or encourage the use of economic, political or any other type of measures to coerce another state in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights or to secure from it advantages of any kind. Also, no state shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed toward the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State.”

Resolution 2225(XXI) reaffirmed the principles and rules ex-pressed in Resolution 2131(XX), and urged “the immediate cessation of intervention,in any form whatever, in the domestic or external affairs of States,” and condemned “all forms of intervention . . . as a basic source of danger to the cause of world peace.

Finally, the Resolution called upon all states to, “refrain from armed intervention or the promotion or organization of subversion, terrorism or other indirect forms of intervention for the purpose of changing by violence the existing system in another State or interfering in civil strife in another State.”

By Resolution 2625(XXV), the General Assembly adopted the “Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.” The Declaration had its origins with the first meeting of the Special Committee on the Principles of International Law held in 1964 in Mexico City. This document asserted seven basic principles of international law, then elaborated how these principles were to be realized. The seven principles embodied in the Declaration were: 

a. the principle prohibiting the threat or use of force in international relations
b. the principle requiring the peaceful settlement of disputes; 
c. the duty of nonintervention; 
d. the duty of states to cooperate with each other; 
e. the principle of equal rights and self-determination of all people;
f. the principle of sovereign equality of states; and
g. the good faith duty of states to fulfill their obligations under the Charter.

In its discussion of the first principle – that states refrain from the threat or use of force – the Declaration emphasizes the duty of each state “to refrain from organizing or encouraging the organization of irregular forces or armed bands, including mercenaries, for incursion into the territory of another state.” In addition, the Declaration insists that every state has a duty “to refrain from organizing, instigating, assisting or participating in acts of civil strife or terrorist acts in another State or to allow such acts to be operated from its territory.

I can go on listing other UN resolutions stating the same. Again and again the General Assembly hammered home the importance of the principle of nonintervention as a central maxim of international law.

Resolution 34/103 addressed the inadmissibility of the policy of “hegemonism” in international relations and defined that term as the “manifestation of the policy of a State, or a group of States, to control, dominate and subjugate, politically, economically, ideologically or militarily, other States, peoples or regions of the world.” The resolution, inter alia, called upon states to observe the principles of the Charter and the principle of nonintervention. By this resolution it was declared that the General Assembly, “Resolutely condemns policies of pressure and use or threat of use of force, direct or indirect aggression,occupation and the growing practice of interference and intervention,overt or covert, in the internal affairs of states.”

In 1981, the “Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of States” was adopted by the General Assembly through Resolution 36/103. One of the duties imposed upon states by the Declaration was: “The duty of a State to refrain from armed intervention, subversion, military occupation or any other form of intervention and interference, overt or covert, directed at another State or group of States, or any act of military, political or economic interference in the internal affairs of another State, including acts of reprisal involving the use of force." In addition, the Declaration called upon states to refrain from any action which seeks to disrupt the unity or to undermine or subvert the political order of other States, training and equipping mercenaries or armed bands, hostile propaganda, and the use of “external economic assistance” programs or “transnational and multinational corporations under its jurisdiction and control as instruments of political pressure and control.”

So, there you have it; the law. The world can see that the Lima Gang, who like to use the phrase “the rule of law” in their diktats to others, are committing egregious crimes under international law and together these crimes are components of the supreme war crime of aggression. The Lima Group therefore is a group of international criminal conspirators and the every individual involved is a war criminal. So when the Lima conspirators issue their press statement after the Ottawa meeting, planning aggression against Venezuela, calling for the overthrow, for the head of President Maduro and dressing it up in the usual language of the aggressor, of “human rights” and “democracy” and their fake and illegal doctrine of “responsibility to protect” it will not be issued by nations interested in peace or who have respect for international law but by a gang of criminals, of international outlaws.

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel “Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

Canada's Anti-Venezuela Policy: Material Interests and US Subordination.

Uploaded by The Real News Network | May 22, 2019.

The West's War on Venezuela - Why Canada is Wrong.

Uploaded by Paul S. Graham | Published on Apr 30, 2019.

"April 24, 2019: Canada’s decision to seek regime change in Venezuela along with the US and other Western countries, the anti-Maduro bias prevailing in the mainstream Canadian and western news media and the potential for the confrontation between western powers and others, such as Russia and China, are the key issues that were discussed in a public forum at the University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada." SOURCE

Moderator: Esther Wolfe
Dimitri Lascaris is a lawyer, human rights activist, journalist with The Real News Network, recently returned from Venezuela.
Ralph Jean-Paul is a Community activist, a volunteer and a soccer coach. He is co-editor of Canada-Haiti Information Project, formerly known as Canada Haiti Action Network group.
Yves Engler is a writer and activist who has written several critically acclaimed books on Canadian foreign policy.
Leah Gazan is a community activist, former president of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg and NDP candidate for Winnipeg Centre in the coming federal election.
Ajit Singh is an activist, lawyer and graduate student at the University of Manitoba and has recently returned from a fact-finding tour of Venezuela.

An interesting discussion follows the presentations.

Closing statement by Radhika Desai, a political studies professor at the University of Manitoba and director of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group.

"... Canada is not just playing a leading  role in this by chance. Canada did not just take a leading role in creating the Lima Group by chance. Canada is there because a number of things are coming together. Yes, it's true that for many decades Canada was basically, well in fact throughout its history, Canada was first lackey to Britain then it became lackey to the United States. But increasingly, Canada has acquired its own rather powerful capitalist class and this capitalist class is predominantly focused on two types of activities. One is financial [and I'll leave that aside for the moment] and the other is mining. Canada is the mining Valhalla of the world. The Toronto Stock Exchange is where mining companies from all over the world love to list because listing there allows these companies somehow to have far more favourable legal environment.

So the Toronto Stock Exchange is the biggest mining exchange in the world and Canadian mining interests, as Yves said, are all over Latin America and Venezuela is sitting on a heck of a lot of mineral wealth, it's the oil, it's the gold, it's a whole lot of other things... very strategic metals. So you can imagine these Canadian corporations salivating over Venezuela and it is no wonder they have passively supported the coup against Chavez and are now supporting everything short of a military intervention war against Venezuela and so I think we need to take all these things very seriously."

Venezuela's Ambassador to Russia gives Press Briefing in Moscow.

Uploaded by Ruptly | 21 May, 2019.

The Venezuelan ambassador to the Russian Federation, Carlos Rafael Faria Tortosa, gives a briefing to the media in Moscow on Tuesday, May 21.

U.S. Media: Report Venezuela Accurately!

Dear New York Times, CNN, and MSNBC,

The U.S. has a long and sordid history of supporting coups in Latin America — Guatemala in 1953, Chile in 1973, Honduras in 2009 — and it always turned out disastrous for the people. The U.S. “humanitarian aid” convoy is an obvious stunt to galvanize the opposition and foment violence in pursuit of the coup efforts. The risks are civil war in Venezuela and U.S. military involvement that could last for years and take countless lives.

As media you have a responsibility to report the situation and motivations and the plans of the Trump administration truthfully and accurately. For example, NPR’s Inconvenient Truth recently accurately reported:

The U.S. effort to distribute tons of food and medicine to needy Venezuelans is more than just a humanitarian mission. The operation is also designed to foment regime change in Venezuela — which is why much of the international aid community wants nothing to do with it. Humanitarian operations are supposed to be neutral.

That’s why the International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations agencies and other relief organizations have refused to collaborate with the U.S. and its allies in the Venezuelan opposition who are trying to force President Nicolás Maduro from power.

Humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or any other objectives,” Stéphane Dujarric, the U.N. spokesman, told a press briefing last week in New York. “The needs of the people should lead in terms of when and how humanitarian assistance is used.”

This is the kind of accurate reporting, as well as looking at past U.S. regime change endeavors and the histories of Elliot Abrams and John Bolton’s involvement, that the world expects and needs from media leaders like you.

The stakes are high and the people of Venezuela, America, and the entire world, stand to pay the price if you do not end your participation in the Trump-Abrams-Bolton PR stunt.


Insert your name

Overseas supporters can sign this petition here.

Some Alternative Sources of News & Opinions on Venezuela.

Some Alternative Sources of News & Opinions on Venezuela.

While not suggesting that any source is to be accepted as always accurate and unbiased,  it is my hope that we can allow ourselves a fighting chance to retain [or regain] the option and the ability to come to our own well-informed conclusions.

Go News
Website:  https://gonewsyt.com/
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDMdPrXn8NKcLkS3OgQGYZA

Canadian Dimension
Magazine: https://canadiandimension.com/

Global Research
Website: https://www.globalresearch.ca/

Zero Anthropology
Blogzine: https://zeroanthropology.net/

Website: http://en.granma.cu/

Radio Havana
Website: www.rhc.cu

The Duran
Website: https://theduran.com/
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdeMVChrumySxV9N1w0Au-w

Website: https://redfish.media/
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHgnQzZY7T9TxhI40BmKJwQ

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/RuptlyTV

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKFyxRML4e78QPlFxOEYOIg

South Front
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaV101EM1QayFkP0E7zwXCg

United Nations
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5O114-PQNYkurlTg6hekZw

PressTV [Iran]
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaFxVc4xHOea6s5CO0eBxIA

RT America
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCczrL-2b-gYK3l4yDld4XlQ

Russia Good
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzFHWLAMQ2hWPc7fbssfSUg

Website:  https://sputniknews.com/
Radio: Sputnik News - Loud and Clear: https://sputniknews.com/radio_loud_and_clear/

Vesti News
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa8MaD6gQscto_Nq1i49iew

The Canary
Website: https://www.thecanary.co/

George Galloway
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf_HItERkRB3vnkWt2RSOLg

Moderate Rebels
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNiXhsI4QtmQaeICpT-k7BQ

Novara Media
Website:  https://novaramedia.com/
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOzMAa6IhV6uwYQATYG_2kg

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCedePgTnisX8sAUhYtqfBEA

The Black Alliance for Peace 
Website: https://blackallianceforpeace.com

Citizen Truth
Website: https://citizentruth.org/latin-america/

Website: https://www.codepink.org/

Democracy Now!
Website:  https://www.democracynow.org/
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzuqE7-t13O4NIDYJfakrhw

Empire Files
Website:  http://theempirefiles.tv/
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG29FnXZm4F5U8xpqs1cs1Q

Website: https://fair.org/

The Grayzone Project
Website:  https://thegrayzone.com/

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEXR8pRTkE2vFeJePNe9UcQ

The Jimmy Dore Show
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3M7l8ved_rYQ45AVzS0RGA

Website: https://www.liberationnews.org

Website:  https://www.mintpressnews.com/

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc9UUSOBWC6VCkJUqnh-CLw

Peace Works
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC07zaP9SczKR9SyXgPUGOoQ

The Real News Network
Website: https://therealnews.com/
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrmm_7RDZJeQzq2-wvmjueg

Representative Press
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdUAI319whTmWI2D6hbMxBg

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkJ1N-7g9Q6n7KnriGit-Ig

Thom Hartmann Program
Website:  https://www.thomhartmann.com/
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbjBOso0vpWgDht9dPIVwhQ

The Truth Unites
Website: http://www.thetruthunites.com/category/south-america/

The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcnNWp-tx3-FaCWV4pMFTAg

Con el Mazo Dando [Spanish]
Website: www.conelmazodando.com.ve

Correo del Orinoco [Spanish]
Website: www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve

Mision Verdad [Spanish]
Website: www.misionverdad.com

Orinico Tribune
Website: www.orinocotribune.com

Tatuy Television Comunistaria
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-a81RGsckjC8kxs_f_fOlQ

Telesur English
Website: https://www.telesurenglish.net/
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmuTmpLY35O3csvhyA6vrkg

Website: www.telesurtv.net

Venezuela Analysis
Website: https://venezuelanalysis.com/
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEaCaY-ThaiIGzBEO84ljVQ/about

Recommended reading:

Bad News from Venezuela: Twenty years of fake news and misreporting.  By Alan MacLeod, Routledge Focus on Communication and Society, 2018.
"Since the election of President Hugo Chavez in 1998, Venezuela has become an important news item. Western coverage is shaped by the cultural milieu of its journalists, with news written from New York or London by non-specialists or by those staying inside wealthy guarded enclaves in an intensely segregated Caracas. Journalists mainly work with English-speaking elites and have little contact with the poor majority. Therefore, they reproduce ideas largely attuned to a Western, neoliberal understanding of Venezuela.

Through extensive analysis of media coverage from Chavez’s election to the present day, as well as detailed interviews with journalists and academics covering the country, Bad News from Venezuela highlights the factors contributing to reportage in Venezuela and why those factors exist in the first place. From this examination of a single Latin American country, the book furthers the discussion of contemporary media in the West, and how, with the rise of ‘fake news’, their operations have a significant impact on the wider representation of global affairs.

Bad News from Venezuela is comprehensive and enlightening for undergraduate students and research academics in media and Latin American studies." SOURCE

There’s Far More Diversity in Venezuela’s Media Than in US Corporate Press.

By Lucas Koerner and Ricardo Vaz
FAIR |  May 20, 2019

The international corporate media have long displayed a peculiar creativity with the facts in their Venezuela reporting, to the point that coverage of the nation’s crisis has become perhaps the world’s most lucrative fictional genre. Ciara Nugent’s recent piece for Time (4/16/19), headlined “‘Venezuelans Are Starving for Information’: The Battle to Get News in a Country in Chaos,” distinguished itself as a veritable masterpiece of this literary fad.

The article’s slant should come as no surprise, given Time’s (and Nugent’s) enthusiastic endorsement (2/1/19) of the ongoing coup led by self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó. Time’s report is based on a trope oft-repeated by corporate journalists for over a decade (Extra!, 11–12/06), namely that Venezuela’s elected Chavista government is an “authoritarian” regime that brutally suppresses freedom of expression. Corporate outlets frequently speak of “Chávez’s clampdown on press freedom” (New York Times, 4/30/19), “a country where critical newspapers and broadcast media already have been muzzled” and “much of Venezuela’s independent press has disappeared” (NBC, 2/3/19, 5/16/19), or the Maduro “regime” controlling “almost all the television and radio stations” (Bloomberg, 1/29/19).

However, the Time journalist’s nightmarish narrative of Orwellian state censorship flies in the face of basic empirical facts that are readily apparent to anyone who has spent any time in Venezuela. While Nugent claims that, for Venezuelans, “finding out what’s going on around them has become a struggle,” it’s in fact quite common to witness informed political debates in bars, shops and public plazas. The idea Nugent tries to sell that it takes some photogenic gimmick of someone standing on a bus with a cardboard “television” to inform the public is ridiculous.


Most television is state-run, and authorities ban the few independent TV and radio stations from covering Venezuela’s crisis as it unfolds,” Nugent assures readers. It is unclear whether Nugent has ever watched television in Venezuela, because few statements could be farther from the truth. In fact, Venezuela has three major private television stations (Venevision, Televen and Globovisión), each with millions of viewers.

As of 2013, when the last audience study was conducted by AGB Nielsen, billionaire media mogul Gustavo Cisneros’ Venevision dominated the national news market, with 36 percent of the total viewing public. Venevision was followed by state-run VTV, at 25 percent, with Televen and Globovision coming in third and fourth at 22 percent and 15 percent, respectively. While no new studies have been conducted since, evidence suggests private media’s dominance has strengthened, not weakened, over the last six years.

First, while coming in way behind Venevision and Televen in terms of overall ratings, for years VTV undoubtedly had its news viewership buoyed by the charismatic presence of the late President Hugo Chávez, who even had his own highly popular weekly talkshow, Aló Presidente, on the network. It’s a reasonable bet that VTV’s news ratings have taken a significant dip in the six years since Chávez’s death, with the gradual onset of a deep economic and political crisis that has sapped vital resources and political morale from the state channel.

Secondly, data from Venezuela’s telecommunications watchdog, CONATEL, shows a steady increase in private television subscribers, which rose from 17 percent in 2000 to a peak of 68 percent in 2015. As of last year, over 60 percent of Venezuelan households paid for a private cable or satellite subscription.

Subscriptions are highly affordable, with top satellite provider Direct TV offering packages beginning at the equivalent of just 70 cents per month on the parallel market rate, or about the price of a cold beer.

In the case of Direct TV, which controls 44 percent of the paid subscription market, plans include a host of international news channels, including Fox News, CNN, BBC and Univisión—none of which could be mistaken for pro-Chavista mouthpieces.

Contrary to Nugent’s story of a state-run media monopoly, the available data suggests that under Chavismo, Venezuelans have progressively expanded their access to private international news channels, most of which display a decidedly right-wing, anti-government slant in their coverage.

Even aside from US-based networks like Fox and CNN, Venezuela’s private TV news spectrum is dominated by pro-opposition perspectives. The only exception is Globovisión, which a 2015 American University study found to have “no significant bias in favor of the government or the opposition”—contrary to claims by the New York Times (2/21/19) that the private network “changed its editorial line to support Mr. Maduro” following its ownership change.

Despite opposition allegations that Venevision has likewise become a “pro-regime” outlet, the channel frequently interviews leaders of opposition parties; for example, it recently ran a sympathetic, 12-minute interview (5/2/19) with Sergio Vergara G., leader in the National Assembly of Guaidó’s ultra-militant right-wing Popular Will party. Needless to say, spotlighting the views of a party actively engaged in trying to overthrow the government is not a hallmark of “state-run” television.

Nugent’s claim is also false with regards to radio, with numerous opposition-aligned stations filling the airwaves, including most notably Radio Caracas Radio, while Union Radio is popular nationwide for its independent, even-handed coverage.

Print media

Nugent matter-of-factly talks about newspapers and magazines having “all but disappeared,” as if amidst a severe economic downturn, Venezuela was expected to buck the worldwide trend of declining print media.

Nonetheless, Venezuela does still have a number of national circulation papers, which Nugent could confirm with a visit to any Venezuelan newspaper kiosk. Moreover, as in other countries, newspapers that no longer circulate in print have continued their operations on digital platforms and social media.

Today, Venezuela has five nationwide dailies still in print, the majority of which are anti-government. While Últimas Noticias and of course state-run Correo del Orinoco take a pro-government line, any cursory glance at El Universal, Diario 2001 and La Voz will find them all to be staunchly anti-Chavista.

El Universal has a weekday circulation of 35,000, which relative to population is comparable to the Washington Post.  Considered the voice of the so-called “moderate” opposition, the paper has been grossly misrepresented by the New York Times’ Nick Casey (1/16/16), among others, as “toe[ing] a largely pro-government line.”

On February 17, the newspaper published an op-ed by one of its frequent contributors, Datanalisis pollster Luis Vicente León, who nonchalantly weighs the pros and cons of a military coup, a negotiated transition “pressured” by criminal US sanctions and military threats, and an outright invasion. Leon regards that last scenario favorably, so long as it takes the form of a “Panama-style intervention” that topples Maduro “without greater consequences” (translation: collateral damage limited to poor brown people, as in El Chorrillo).

More recently in the same paper, columnist Pedro Piñate (4/4/19) argues that Venezuela needs to be rid of “Castro-communist” ideas, Francisco Olivares (4/27/19) claims Maduro’s ouster is “vital for the Western democratic world,” while Antonio Herrera (4/25/19) sounds alarm bells about the presence of “Cubans, Russians, Iranians, Middle Eastern terrorists and guerrillas from Colombia.”

Not only do Venezuela’s anti-government newspapers exercise unfettered freedom to publish, including opinion articles explicitly calling for military coups, they have a long history of publishing explicitly racist cartoons caricaturing Chavez and other Chavista leaders that would scandalize liberals in any Western country.

Social media

Nugent’s allegations of draconian government censorship extend to the digital realm as well, as she writes:

Venezuela’s Internet freedom has been weakening for several years, with the country finally dropping from “partly free” to “not free” in annual reports by global democracy monitor Freedom House in 2017.

The Time reporter fails to disclose that Freedom House is almost entirely funded by the US government, which is currently spearheading a coup d’etat in Venezuela. Bracketing that minor detail, it must be asked, is the internet really any less free in Venezuela than in the Global North?

It is true that Venezuela’s state phone and internet provider, CANTV, does block some Venezuelan anti-government news sites, including El Nacional, La Patilla and El Universal, which can only be accessed via VPN, cable or cellular data.

While such a policy is indefensible and perhaps self-defeating, it must be placed in context. Would any Western government tolerate news outlets that openly serve as mouthpieces for a violent, foreign-backed opposition that is currently in the middle of its sixth major coup attempt (the 2002 Carmona coup, the 2002–o3 oil lockout, the 2013 post-election opposition violence, the 2014 and 2017 street blockades having failed) in the past 20 years?

Given the lengths the US and UK are going to prosecute Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks, without any of them posing a real national security threat, the short answer is “no.”

Although Venezuela is hardly immune from state censorship, it is a gross distortion to claim the country is “now subject to frequent information blackouts.” In addition to having a decisive, if not dominant, presence in television and print media, Venezuela’s right-wing opposition exerts considerable influence in social media, which has even allowed it to circulate fake news among the public. While Nugent disingenuously writes that “it’s not clear who is behind the false stories,” it is very obvious who stands to gain from baseless rumors of “the military conscripting minors” or “Russian troops arriving in Venezuela.”

Furthermore, an extensive independent investigation revealed the rampant use of “automation, coordinated inauthentic behavior and cyborgs” to position anti-government hashtags on Twitter, with some accounts tweeting hundreds of thousands of times per day and generating billions of daily impressions. The Venezuelan opposition has consistently looked to fire up social media ahead of potential flashpoints, while, on the other hand, official or pro-government accounts have routinely been shut down by Western social media giants, including seven Venezuelan government accounts being suspended by Twitter just recently.

A recent example of Washington and its opposition clients’ capacity to shape the corporate media narrative via social media is the February 23 “humanitarian aid showdown” on the Venezuelan/Colombian border (FAIR.org, 2/9/19). Following a controversial incident involving a USAID truck catching fire, top US officials and opposition leaders immediately took to Twitter to blame the Maduro government. The claim was repeated by corporate outlets, despite the existence of readily available evidence, which the New York Times only reported two weeks later, proving a Molotov cocktail–wielding opposition militant set fire to the truck. The Times’ (largely ignored) retraction notwithstanding, February 23 was a clear cut case of US/opposition social media dominance allowing a false narrative to be put in place unquestioned.

Press freedom via coup d’etat?

The narrative of a Venezuelan government crackdown on press freedom is by no means a recent invention, harkening back to the Chavez government’s 2007 decision not to renew RCTV’s (Radio Caracas Televisión) broadcasting concession. RCTV had played a crucial role in the 2002 coup, when the opposition removed Chávez from power for 47 hours—unleashing a wave of terror—and later in the 2002–03 oil lockout. RCTV was merely removed from the public spectrum, and continued broadcasting via cable and satellite.

Nevertheless, the episode opened the way for a fresh wave of anti-government protests, led by a new generation of middle-class right-wing student leaders, funded and trained by Washington. Among the new opposition cohort was George Washington University–educated Juan Guaidó, himself a veteran of the violent 2014 opposition street protests known as “the Exit,” which left 43 people dead.

The myth of a sustained assault on media freedom in Venezuela forms the ideological touchstone of Venezuela’s anti-Chavista opposition, for whom “freedom of expression” stands for unfettered private control over mass media. Given their own privileged position in a global media sphere monopolized by a tiny handful of conglomerates, corporate journalists like Nugent instinctively defend this viewpoint to absurd degrees.

The Time correspondent writes, “Venezuelan authorities regularly detain journalists, claiming that they have entered the country illegally or breached ‘security zones.” There are currently over 50 foreign news agencies with correspondents on the ground in Venezuela, where they need to get a special visa to report. As in the US, one cannot sneak around restricted security areas near Miraflores Presidential Palace in the middle of the night without proper identification and accreditation. The outrage over Venezuelan government efforts to regulate media amidst a foreign-backed coup effort is grossly hypocritical, given Western journalists’ failure to speak out against their own governments’ crackdown on whistleblowers.

FAIR (4/30/19) has previously reported that zero percent of elite US newspaper and talkshow pundits challenged the idea of regime change in Venezuela.  More than a considered or even clear-eyed view of Venezuela’s media landscape, fairy tales like Nugent’s about totalitarian state censorship in Venezuela reflect US corporate media regime’s own self-censorship, which is far more efficacious than any so-called “authoritarian” leader could imagine. Without deliberate constriction of the spectrum of “acceptable opinion,” after all, the Trump administration would never be able to get away with its brazenly illegal coup and an economic blockade that has already killed 40,000 Venezuelans in the past two years with total impunity. SOURCE

How Biased Western Reportage Has Harmed Venezuela.

How Biased Western Reportage Has Harmed Venezuela. [Republished]
Review of Alan MacLeod’s “Bad News From Venezuela.”
By Joe Emersberger
Truthdig | July 5, 2018

For almost 20 years, the US government has been trying to overthrow Venezuela’s government, and establishment media outlets (state, corporate and some nonprofit) throughout the Americas and Europe have been bending over backwards to help the US do it. Rare exceptions to this over the last two decades would be found in the state media in some countries that are not hostile to Venezuela, like the ALBA block. Small independent outlets like VenezuelAnalysis.com also offered alternatives. In the US and UK establishment media, you are way more likely to see a defense of Saudi Arabia’s dictatorship than of Venezuela’s democratically elected government. Any defense of Venezuela’s government will provoke vilification and ridicule, so both Alan MacLeod and his publisher (Routledge) deserve very high praise for producing the book  Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting. It took real political courage. (Disclosure: MacLeod is a contributor to FAIR.org, as am I.)

MacLeod’s approach was to assess 501 articles (news reports and opinion pieces) about Venezuela that appeared in the US and UK newspapers during key periods since Hugo Chávez was first elected Venezuelan president in 1998. Chávez died in March 2013, and his vice president, Nicolas Maduro, was elected president a month later. Maduro was just re-elected to a second six-year term on May 20. The periods of peak interest in Venezuela that MacLeod examined involved the first election of Chávez in 1998, the US-backed military coup that briefly ousted Chávez in April of 2002, the death of Chávez in 2013 and the violent opposition protests in 2014.

MacLeod notes that US government funding to the Venezuelan opposition spiked just before the 2002 coup, and then increased again afterwards. What would happen to a foreign government that conceded (as the US State Department’s Office of the Inspector General did regarding Venezuela) that it funded and trained groups involved with violently ousting the US government?

MacLeod shows that, in bold defiance of the facts, the US media usually treated US involvement in the coup as a conspiracy theory, on those rare occasions when US involvement was discussed at all. Only 10 percent of the articles MacLeod sampled in US media even mentioned potential US involvement in the coup. Thirty-nine percent did in UK media, but, according to MacLeod, “only the Guardian presented US involvement as a strong possibility.”

As somebody who regularly reads Venezuelan newspapers and watches its news and political programs, I thought the most powerful evidence MacLeod provided of Western media dishonesty was a chart showing how Venezuela’s media system has been depicted from 1998–2014. Of the 166 articles in MacLeod’s sample that described the state of Venezuela’s media, he classified 100 percent of them as spreading a “caged” characterization: the outlandish story that the Chávez and Maduro governments dominate the media, or have otherwise used coercion to practically silence aggressive criticism.

There is a bit of subjectivity involved in classifying articles in a sample like MacLeod’s. From my own very close reading of the US and UK’s Venezuela coverage over the years, I’m sure one could quibble that a few articles within MacLeod’s sample contradict the “caged” story; perhaps reducing the percentage to 95 percent, but that would hardly assail his conclusion. It is truly stunning that Western journalists can’t be relied on to accurately report the content of Venezuelan newspapers and TV. How hard is it to watch TV and read newspapers, and notice that the government is being constantly blasted by its opponents? No background in economics or any type of esoterica is required to do that much—simply a lack of extreme partisanship and a minimal level of honesty.

MacLeod acknowledges that the Carter Center has refuted a few big lies about the Venezuelan government, including the one about government critics being shut out of Venezuela’s media, but he also reminds us that a week after the perpetrators of the 2002 coup thanked Venezuela’s private media for their help installing a dictatorship, Jennifer McCoy (America director for the Carter Center at the time) wrote an op-ed for the New York Times (4/18/02) in which she said that the “Chávez regime” had been “threatening the country’s democratic system of checks and balances and freedom of expression of its citizens.” Venezuelan democracy deserved much better “allies.” The Carter Center may have sparkled at times compared to the rest of the US establishment, but it’s a very filthy establishment.

Drawing from the work of Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky, MacLeod provides a structural analysis of why coverage of Venezuela has been so terrible. Corporate journalists, with rare exceptions, reflexively dismiss common-sense analysis of their industry. Chomsky and Herman therefore resorted to proving various common-sense propositions, identifying “filters” that distort news coverage in ways that serve the rich and powerful. For example, it matters who pays the bills. (In other news, water is wet.) Corporate-owned, ad-dependent media will tend to serve the agenda of wealthy owners and corporate customers who provide the bulk of the ad dollars. Such media will usually hire and promote people whose worldview is compatible with the arrangement. That greatly reduces the need for heavy-handed bullying to enforce an editorial line.

Business pressures also drive media outlets to cuts costs, and therefore rely on governments and big corporate outfits as cheap and readily available sources. Losing “access” by alienating powerful sources therefore becomes expensive, even before you consider other forms of flak that powerful people can apply.

Beyond the general “filters” that Chomsky and Herman identified, MacLeod described others that are specific to Venezuela.  MacLeod pointed to
massive cuts to newsroom budgets, leading to reliance on local stringers. Local journalists recruited from highly adversarial Venezuelan opposition–aligned press, leading to a situation where Venezuelan opposition ideas and talking points have their amplitude magnified. Anti-government activists producing supposedly objective news content for Western media.
He also explained that
journalists are overwhelmingly housed in the wealthy Chacao district of Eastern Caracas…. This, combined with concerns over crime, creates a situation where journalists inordinately spend their work and leisure time in an opposition bastion. Hence, it can appear to a journalist that “everyone” has a negative opinion about the government.
I wish MacLeod had more forcefully stressed another factor explaining why Venezuela reporting is so bad: impunity. A structural analysis explains why biased coverage results even if journalists are usually honest, but being able to say anything you want about an adversary without having to worry about being refuted (and discredited) encourages dishonesty. Media bias in Venezuela’s case could more appropriately be called media corruption.

In 2015, one of MacLeod’s interviewees, the former Caracas-based journalist Girish Gupta, wrote (Reuters, 8/5/15) that 1.5 million Venezuelans had left the country since Hugo Chávez first took office in 1999, according to “Caracas-based sociologist Tomás Páez, who has published papers and books on migration.” According to UN population figures, about 320,000 had left over that period: about one fifth the number Páez estimated.

Paez is a fiercely anti-Chavista academic who signed a letter published in a Venezuelan newspaper (as a quarter-page ad) that welcomed the dictatorship that briefly replaced Chávez during the 2002 coup. Gupta’s response to my emails explaining why Páez’s figure was very far-fetched, and that he should not be presented as a neutral expert, was that he would no longer read my emails. Páez has since been cited as a neutral expert on migration by Reuters, the New York Times and Financial Times.

MacLeod notes that the Venezuelan government has become practically inaccessible as a source for corporate journalists, but the same is often true for independent journalists in Venezuela, and grassroots supporters of the government. I’ve personally tried to get some of them to meet a Caracas-based corporate journalist whose integrity I trusted, but they declined. The assumption was that even if the journalist didn’t set out to write a dishonest hit piece, the editors would make it one (or simply kill the piece)—an assumption that I can’t blame them for making.

While MacLeod could have been even harsher, his book makes a concise and well-argued case against media corruption that has succeeded in hanging the “dictatorship” label on Venezuela—and therefore allowed the country to be targeted for US-led economic strangulation, and even military threats by the Trump administration. SOURCE