Demonizing Venezuela’s Revolution

Venezuela’s socialist experiment, which seeks to reduce the country’s extreme income equality and alleviate widespread poverty, has upset U.S. policymakers who now have new hopes for regime change, as Dennis J Bernstein explains.

By Dennis J Bernstein

The U.S. government, backed by the U.S. mainstream media, has long desired to destroy Venezuela’s experiment with socialism, now including President Trump’s threats of war and one-sided reporting hostile to the country’s recent elections.

Venezuelan flag (Wikipedia)

In August, Trump suggested military intervention, declaring: “This is our neighbor, we’re all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering and they’re dying.”

Meanwhile, the coverage of Venezuela in the U.S. corporate media marches in lockstep with the P.R. pronouncements of the U.S. State Department, ignoring any mitigating factors regarding Venezuela’s economic troubles and dismissing the support that many Venezuelans still show for the revolution begun by the late President Hugo Chavez.

Law Professor Daniel Kovalik noted this U.S. media bias while serving as  an in-country observer to the recent Venezuelan elections.

“The claims of fraud are groundless, and largely petty,” asserts Kovalik. “I know this because I was one of nearly 70 election observers from all over the world in Venezuela for the October 15 elections, and our group reached very different conclusions about these elections than those being widely peddled… We witnessed numerous polling stations throughout Venezuela in which long lines of voters were able to cast their ballot freely, without coercion and in an atmosphere of calm.”

Kovalik is the author most recently of The Plot to Scapegoat Russia: How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Putin. He is at work on a book about Venezuela and he teaches International Human Rights Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Dennis Bernstein: You just got back from Venezuela. Why were you there?

Daniel Kovalik: I was invited as an election observer for the regional elections that took place on October 15.

Dennis Bernstein: Jimmy Carter has said that these elections in Venezuela were some of the fairest in the world.

Daniel Kovalik: Yes, he said they have the best election process in the world. I agree with him. They have an incredible uniform process throughout the country. As you know, the US does not. Every state chooses its own way to vote. In Venezuela, they have the same machines throughout the country. They are pretty much foolproof. You have to use a fingerprint to even activate the machine. You get a paper receipt, which you put into a box after you have cast an electronic vote. And if people are unhappy afterward, they can ask for an audit.

Dennis Bernstein: How does that compare to the situation in other countries?

Daniel Kovalik: I would say it is better than in the United States. We know from people like Greg Palast that something like a million people might have been wrongfully thrown off the voter rolls through a process called “cross check.” You see gerrymandering, which even the courts have found to be racist. Venezuela is not affected by that sort of thing.

One thing the Bolivarian Revolution has done under Chavez was to create this very tight, open democratic process. The people are very proud of their system. It pains me to read the mainstream press, which is very critical of Venezuela.

The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Dennis Bernstein: Trump has even talked about going to war against Venezuela. The US State Department has drawn up plans to attack the country. What do you think are the real reasons behind such talk?

Daniel Kovalik: This is old-fashioned gunboat diplomacy, which the United States has been using against many countries but particularly against Latin America. With the election of Hugo Chavez in 1999, Venezuela decided that it wanted to take a different path than other countries in the region. They wanted to have a socialist economy, they wanted to use their oil revenue for social services. Today 70% of their oil revenues are spent on social services. That is anathema to the United States. You cannot decide to take yourself out of the so-called free market system and not expect retaliation from the United States.

Let’s remember that the US supported a coup in 2002 against Chavez. They are open about the fact that they want regime change. And they want it not because they care about the people there but because they want to have Venezuela open for business. They want more control over Venezuela’s oilfields. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves on earth. This is not about democracy. The US couldn’t care less about democracy. You see this in Honduras, where we supported the coup [in 2009]. You see this in Colombia, where we look away from countless human rights abuses.

Dennis Bernstein: You have compared and contrasted Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Could you talk about that?

Daniel Kovalik: Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States and what have we done for them? Eighty percent of the country still does not have electricity. It is a very dangerous situation. Meanwhile you have Trump saying we can’t be helping them forever! FEMA is still helping out in New York with the effects of Hurricane Sandy! This was like five years ago. FEMA people are still in New Orleans helping to clean up after Katrina. And now Trump is saying we may be done in Puerto Rico when we have barely even begun! And recall that, with the Jones Act, Puerto Rico cannot freely get assistance from other countries.

Dennis Bernstein: If I’m not mistaken, Venezuela stepped forward to offer assistance after Katrina hit and the victims were being ignored by the federal government.

Daniel Kovalik: And so did Cuba. Venezuela and Cuba do more for the world than any other countries. They have been the first responders to the cholera crisis in Haiti. With the help of Venezuela, Cuba has sent medical teams to 70 countries throughout the world. Even during their own difficult times they offer help to others.

Dennis Bernstein: Why would the United States be so fearful of the Bolivarian Revolution?

Daniel Kovalik: Noam Chomsky has said that Chavez helped liberate Latin America from foreign control for the first time in 500 years. That is the impact of the Bolivarian Revolution. For the first time, Latin America is throwing off the chains of empire that the United States and Spain before have had around that region.

[The United States] overthrew the democratic government in Guatemala in 1954 because United Fruit was afraid of land reform. We overthrew Allende in 1973 in Chile because ITT was worried about its business interests there. Time and again we overthrow democratic governments and install fascist dictatorships, and yet we are able to say with a straight face that we care about democracy? What we care about is making countries like Venezuela open for maximum exploitation by US companies and making their resources available to us at will. We have now just sanctioned Nicaragua because they are trying to build a canal through the country with the help of China. So none of this hand wringing is about concerns for democracy.

Dennis Bernstein: What are people in Venezuela saying about the struggle? There are significant shortages of important goods, medical goods.

Daniel Kovalik: People are honest and open about that. But they want to solve their own problems. One man approached me at a polling place and asked me to tell people back in the United States that this is what democracy looks like. He said, “Tell Donald Trump to leave us alone.” A number of people expressed similar sentiments. These are voices you never hear in the mainstream press, you always hear the opposition.

Is there an opposition? Yes. Are there people who don’t like the government? Yes. Yet [61] percent of the electorate voted on Sunday and Maduro’s party won 18 out of 23 governorships. People ask, “How can that be, with all these challenges, with all these economic woes?” Well, it is not too surprising that people take umbrage when the United States threatens to invade their country.

Venezuelans are smart and they realize that the opposition forces are aligned with the US in this. They associate the opposition with foreign intervention. They associate them with a lot of the violence that has taken place in Venezuela. That is another thing that is not discussed: how the opposition has carried out brutal violence, particularly against people of color. If you go to a pro-Maduro rally, what you are struck by is that the people at that rally are poor and mostly black. This is the revolution in Venezuela. The well-to-do and the United States resent that, that these people are liberated for the first time in history.

You would think that progressive-minded people in the United States would be excited and want to support that process. Yet the propaganda is so thick in this country that people don’t even realize which side is which. I can guarantee you, the US is not on the right side. They are now setting up a parallel government to the one in Caracas.

Dennis Bernstein: I remember when the United States under Reagan was trying to destabilize and get rid of the Sandinistas. When they couldn’t get Costa Rica to go along, they essentially set up a shadow government in Costa Rica to try to overthrow the government there.

Daniel Kovalik: And we invaded Panama in 1989. It is still not known how many people died in the bombing. We claimed to be going after Noriega for drug running but the real reason was that Noriega had refused to let the country be used as a staging ground for the Contras. That was his sin, and his people paid dearly for that.

This is a history that people forget, but this history is relevant because we see it being played out right now with Venezuela. It is quite heartbreaking. A lot of the left in America has abandoned Venezuela. I was the only observer from either the US or Canada last Sunday. People have bought into the prevailing narrative on Venezuela. They are struggling, they are having problems, but every time things begin to look better, such as after the July constituent assembly election, that is when the US ups the sanctions. Because they don’t want stability in Venezuela. They want enough chaos to unseat President Maduro.

I think that the fact that people came out to vote like they did on Sunday and that they voted largely for the Chavista Party shows to the United States that they are not backing down. That they will not be bullied. I think they should be applauded for that.

Dennis Bernstein: How should the United States be relating to the people of Venezuela?

Daniel Kovalik: We should normalize relations with them, we should exchange ambassadors, we should stop the sanctions. We should certainly stop threatening military force. We need to let them make their own mistakes, find their own solutions, and run their own lives. That is what democracy is.

Dennis Bernstein: Where do you see this going?

A painting of Simon Bolivar by José Gil de Castro ca. 1823.

Daniel Kovalik: Unless there are alternative voices speaking, it could be going in a very bad direction. Given the nature of the opposition and given how long the Bolivarian Revolution has been in power, if the right wing comes to power–and that could happen given the lack of resistance in this country to US foreign policy–you will see a bloodbath. You will see another Pinochet-type regime. You will see people being killed in the streets. Remember that when Pinochet came to power in Chile, killing about 3,000 people and torturing about 30,000 others, the Allende government had only been in power three years. The Bolivarian Revolution has been in power now for eighteen years. To undo that will take a lot of bloodshed. I have listened to NPR programs where commentators have been very clear that they would welcome such bloodshed!

Dennis Bernstein: Remind us, before we conclude, of who Simon Bolivar was.

Daniel Kovalik: He was the great liberator. He liberated the Andean region of South America from Spain. He had a dream of uniting Latin America into a single nation that could compete with countries like the United States. That was Chavez’s dream too. When Chavez was elected in 1999, he took on the mantle of Bolivar. And again, according to Noam Chomsky, he succeeded in helping to liberate Latin America from US control. Unfortunately, we are seeing attempts to impose that control again.

Dennis J Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net.

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44 comments for “Demonizing Venezuela’s Revolution

  1. Stephen
    October 24, 2017 at 11:11 am

    John Pilger on MSM five years ago and it is still relevant for today.

    http://johnpilger.com/videos/media-and-war-challenging-the-consensus

    • October 24, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      Great video, Stephen…Noam Chomsky sums it up well with terms like “intolerable truths’ censored by the MSM and “normalizing the unthinkable” by spinning groupthink to the masses.

  2. mike k
    October 24, 2017 at 11:55 am

    We (rich oligarchs) hate socialism. Imagine sharing our wealth with the poor! What an evil idea!

  3. Gregory Woods
    October 24, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Try living there, Denny…

    • anon
      October 24, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      Living conditions In Venezuela would certainly be far worse under any system of foreign-owned oil companies with profits extracted, a plutocracy of local scoundrels, and a dictatorship of generals, which the US has always installed in Latin America.

  4. evelync
    October 24, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    I am soooooooo tired of us meddling in the democratic life of vulnerable countries leading to horrific violence in order to create exploitable “havens” for our largest corporations, banks, and the local right wing anti-human rights oligarchs.

    Even our well respected (by the “liberal elite”) President Barack Obama stood idly by in 2009 while our “best and brightest”,
    “defender of women” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refused to call the right wing Honduran coup against democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya a MILITARY COUP (which would have stopped military aide to the country). Instead Clinton finessed the U.S. support for a right wing take over immediately followed the next day by horrific bloodshed especially targeting women, leading eventually to the murder of heroic indigenous woman activist Berta Caceras.

    RE: Daniel Kovalik’s comment:
    “You would think that progressive-minded people in the United States would be excited and want to support that process. YET THE PROPAGANDA IS SO THICK IN THIS COUNTRY THAT PEOPLE DON’T EVEN REALIZE WHICH SIDE IS WHICH. I can guarantee you, the US is not on the right side. They are now setting up a parallel government to the one in Caracas.”

    ain’t that the truth!!!!! – even the JFK School at Harvard University, with few exceptions, from what I can tell is totally propagandized by this nonsense.
    These glorified, well fed (by our cultural patronage system) “experts” were intimidated by political hacks like Mike Pompeo and Mike Morrell into withdrawing the honorary fellowship to Chelsea Manning. While Lewandowski stayed on their list along with other hacks,
    They cannot see that Ms Manning, a courageous person of conscience, exposed horrific wrongdoing done in our name.
    Their heads are too far up their asses.

    It’s hopeless.

    We will ignore 3 million Americans in Puerto Rico, and struggling people here at home in the name of “Democracy” which has, over 70 years been conveniently intertwined with Cold War ideology to shift our policies into waging regime change war while fattening Eisenhower’s MIC – coddling the wealthy and powerful while making the world less safe, less likely to survive climate disruption.

    As Randy Newman says in “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country” – “this empire is ending, like all the rest…….

    link in next comment

    • evelync
      October 24, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      http://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/berta-caceres/

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0EAwSpTcM4A Few Words in Defense of Our Country

      Randy Newman
      I’d like to say
      A few words
      In defense of our country
      Whose people aren’t bad
      Nor are they mean
      Now, the leaders we have
      While they’re the worst that we’ve had
      Are hardly the worst
      This poor world has seen
      Let’s turn history’s pages, shall we?
      Take the Caesars, for example
      Why, with the first few of them
      They were sleeping with their sister, stashing little boys in swimming pools, and burning down the city
      And one of ’em, one of ’em appointed his own horse to be Counsel of the Empire
      That’s like vice president or something
      That’s not a very good example right now, is it?
      But here’s one:
      Spanish Inquisition
      That’s a good one
      Put people in a terrible position
      I don’t even like to think about it
      Well, sometimes I like to think about it
      Just a few words
      In defense of our country
      Whose time at the top
      Could be coming to an end
      Now, we don’t want their love
      And respect at this point’s pretty much out of the question
      But in times like these
      We sure could use a friend
      Hitler
      Stalin
      Men who need no introduction
      King Leopold of Belgium, that’s right
      Everyone thinks he’s so great
      Well, he owned the Congo
      He tore it up too
      Took the diamonds
      Took the silver
      Took the gold
      You know what he left ’em with?
      Malaria
      You know, a president once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
      Now it seems like we’re supposed to be afraid
      It’s patriotic, in fact
      Color-coded
      What we supposed to be afraid of?
      Why, of being afraid
      That’s what terror means, doesn’t it?
      That’s what it used to mean
      You know, it pisses me off a little that this Supreme Court’s gonna outlive me
      Couple young Italian fellas and a brother on the Court now too
      But I defy you, anywhere in the world, to find me two Italians as tight ass as the two Italians we got
      And as for the brother
      Well, Pluto’s not a planet anymore either
      The end of an empire
      Is messy at best
      And this empire’s ending
      Like all the rest
      Like the Spanish Armada
      Adrift on the sea
      We’re adrift in the land of the brave
      And the home of the free
      Goodbye
      Goodbye
      Goodbye
      Goodbye
      Songwriters: Randy Newman
      A Few Words in Defense of Our Country lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing LLC

  5. October 24, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Thank you once again, Dennis Bernstein; this time for a long overdue and refreshing review of the situation in Venezuela. It has been hard to find anything positive in the press about the “Bolivarian revolution”, even RT for a long time had disparaged the government’s attempt to democratize the nation. Although I believe a lot was done in a heavy-handed manner from a doctrinaire socialist perspective, there can be little doubt that U.S. “intelligence” agents and subversive foreign policy wonks have done much to exasperate Venezuela’s largely petroleum dependent economy.

  6. Joe Tedesky
    October 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    When the United States starts critiquing other nation’s democratic processes, as has been done to Venezuela, the world should respond by asking, ‘and just look at who’s criticizing other countries for their election fairness’. I mean how fair was George W Bush’s 2000 election results where the U.S. Supreme Court decided for the voting U.S. population to who should sit in the Oval Office. And for reference of how screwed up our political parties are with their corrupted election primaries, look no further than to Hillary’s 2016 DNC campaign, where political contributions are washed through Congressional districts to be recycled up into the Hillary Presidential Campaign bid, to fund Hillary onward and upwards toward defeat. Then to sit here in America, and criticize other nations, is a enough to make you want to jump up and scream it’s give me a break time, if ever there was a reason to give it a rest.

    • Dave P.
      October 24, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      Very appropriate and true comments Joe. It is always comforting to read your comments. You had lot more bite in this one. It is easy to understand why. And there is a lot of lot of force, a kind of push back in Vladimir Putin’s response to a U.S. Journalist’s question on Ukraine at Valdai Discussion Club meeting last week in Sochi. It is really interesting to watch this one. The link below:

      https://thesaker.is/putins-answers-a-us-journalist-on-the-ukraine/

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 24, 2017 at 9:56 pm

        Thanks Dave that was a very informative video.

        While reading the sub-titled video where Putin describes the Ukraine situation told from Russia’s point of view, it is a video which would be great if more Americans were to see it. Only the way news is distributed in the U.S. the chance of such a video as you linked me to Dave, has a fat chance in Haiti if ever of it ever being aired. Just like Oliver Stone’s Putin interviews, even if a fairly large cable network like ShowTime picks it up, the airing of Putin’s would be limited at best for being it is on ShowTime and not on CBS, ABC, or NBC. Now wouldn’t you imagine that in a right thinking country, who brags about it’s international status that airing an interview of Russia’s top dog leader would have a sizable market big enough to warrant a showing such as I mention here?

        Okay Dave, take it easy. Joe

  7. Ian
    October 24, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Alternative new sources need to start digging deeper and to put actual faces and names on the people driving US policy. If one agrees the entire point of alternative new sources is to get to get at the truth then it is reasonable to argue it pointless in describing US policy without understanding who exactly is driving it and why. This article is a good example. We already know the US government has a long history of interfering in the internal affairs of many countries. This article offers very little that we did not already know, expect and suspect.

    In the few years I have been reading articles in alternative new sources, one common reaction I have is to ask who exactly is driving policy, turmoil and strife? If someone is killed by a shot from a rifle then I am more interested in knowing who pulled the trigger and why instead of what type of rifle and bullet were used. Using this analogy, US policy towards Venezuela is the rifle and bullet but we know nothing about who pulled the trigger. Why is that?

    • evelync
      October 24, 2017 at 5:30 pm

      I couldn’t agree more, Ian!
      It was an eye opener for me to read the Truth Report about the coup in Honduras.
      http://friendshipamericas.org/sites/default/files/report_cdv_honduras_english.pdf

      Step by step one learns of the entanglements of various multinational companies and right wing families, whose interests come first.

      This goes on here too of course.
      Remember Cheney’s meetings with the undisclosed list of large corporations.

      Big Oil denies having a say in policy, however their business interests are surely a major part of policy decisions…..
      and intertwined with Cold War Ideology and domestic propaganda and fear mongering.

      When poet Ken Saro Wiwa was murdered in Nigeria, and people protested Shell Oil, Shell denied any wrongdoing.
      They did pay millions to the poet’s family according to this article:
      http://www.dw.com/en/why-nigerian-activist-ken-saro-wiwa-was-executed/a-18837442http://www.dw.com/en/why-nigerian-activist-ken-saro-wiwa-was-executed/a-18837442

      They may not leave fingerprints of their discussions with the regime that murdered the poet but it is obvious that his efforts to protect his people, the Ogonis and their land interfered with Shell’s business plans……

      These corporations don’t leave fingerprints but apparently have closed door meetings with corrupt officials.

      It’s the way of the world.
      She who has the gold, rules.

      Bernie’s push to get big money out of politics is one big piece of the solution…..

      • Ian
        October 24, 2017 at 6:49 pm

        Wonderful reference on Honduras! Big thanX!

    • mike k
      October 24, 2017 at 6:22 pm

      The number of coconspirators in the US who bring about our meddling interventions in places like Venezuela is nearly equal to the whole greedy ignorant population of petroleum drunkards and war fans that make up our great nation.

      • evelync
        October 24, 2017 at 7:55 pm

        Yes, indeed,Mike!
        Most of us are complicit in acquiescencing to these gross horrific acts of wrongdoing.

        I’m not sure how that works side by side with our sense of triumphalism and self congratulations at being the best human beings around.

        How can we be decent human beings and at the same time accept these cruel policies secretly knowing in our darkest buried self awareness how wrong they are.
        I guess we lie to ourselves constantly.
        At the same time I think our policy makers drop convenient talking points into the narrative that we use to make it all acceptable.
        e.g. when we head off to bomb a country to smitherines so we can grab the oil we hide behind the talking point that Saddam Hussein is a monster….Yes he was probably a monster but millions of his people did not deserve to be killed, maimed, displaced, tortured, exposed to toxic depleted uranium and the rest….to add to their suffering.

        I guess we’re just dangerous idiots with more money than brains.

    • Sam F
      October 24, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      One cannot expect any citizen to be able to trace individuals involved in these secret wars run by the CIA et al under direction of presidents, without direction of Congress or debate by the people. That situation is explored as far as possible by alternative news. Some of the secret agency operatives from earlier times are known. See for example Presidents’ Secret Wars and many other sources. You will find many alternative news articles with details, but cannot expect the full picture even generations later.

  8. John Del Vecchio
    October 24, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Simon says: “What’s Kovalik drinking?”

    • anon
      October 24, 2017 at 9:34 pm

      If you had any reasoning at all there, I’m sure that you would have presented it.

  9. October 24, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks for attention to Venezuela, and I wonder how much support they have in Latin America overall? Trump obviously never meant a word he said about not wanting war. Every US president since Kennedy falls in line with the deep state. We must find a means to stop them. The documentation of who’s driving this has been ongoing for decades, but “they” can’t be dislodged without revolution or collapse.

    • mike k
      October 24, 2017 at 6:24 pm

      Power corrupts. As Trump would say – what’s the use of a huge army if you don’t use it?

  10. Zachary Smith
    October 24, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Daniel Kovalik: I would say it is better than in the United States.

    And I would say that’s the understatement of the year. Voting with the touch-screen no-verify machines is a joke, and a bad one too.

    Once upon a time I’d have taken for granted that Venezuela had something wrong with it, but no longer. Though I know virtually nothing about that nation, I do know that neither the US government nor its sock-puppets like the NYT or WP have a speck of believability.

    • evelync
      October 24, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      yeah, the drum beat to demonize whichever state fights back against being exploited by the banks, big oil, big-you-name-it, uses fear to get us to acquiesce to these vicious policies.

      Right now Vladimir Putin is the devil.

      I know nothing about Putin one way or the other (although Pussy Riot protested him and risked prison, which one band member endured – not an indication that he’s a good guy by any means)
      Nevertheless, I am sick and tired of hearing Putin this and Putin that as though Russia is a serious threat to this country.
      That doesn’t wash, especially since Andrew Bacevich points out in his Pardee School talk that Russia is not a top tier power, as is China, India, Europe and the U.S.

      In any event, Russia has, apparently, 144 million people. It’s not a monolithic country of Putin bots…..

      “Fifty years ago, Arkhipov, a senior officer on the Soviet B-59 submarine, refused permission to launch its nuclear torpedo.”
      This Guardian article tells that story:

      “Thank you Vasili Arkhipov, the man who stopped nuclear war”
      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/oct/27/vasili-arkhipov-stopped-nuclear-war
      Edward Wilson

      • October 24, 2017 at 6:03 pm

        You do know that Pussy Riot wasn’t convicted of protesting Putin but of committing vandalism in a church as part of that protest?

        The whole Pussy Riot thing was the beginning of the CIA’s mass mobilization of hatred towards Putin and Russia, using an issue dear to the center-left, LGBT rights. But don’t forget they used the issue of women’s rights to prepare for war in Afghanistan.

        Then at the Winter Olympics the media was recruited to constantly condemn Russia for being anti-LGBT.

        Hey, I’m LGBT and LGBT rights are important to me. But I have to recognize a CIA operation when that’s what it is. (Not that Pussy Riot intended to be the tool of the CIA they ended up being.)

        • mike k
          October 24, 2017 at 6:27 pm

          Good point. Nothing is what it seems to be on the surface.

        • evelync
          October 24, 2017 at 7:56 pm

          No I didn’t know that. Thanks!

        • Constantine
          October 25, 2017 at 12:35 am

          If I remember the name correctly, it must be a certain homosexual American lawyer called Matthew Griffith who wrote an essay about the actual condition of LGBT folks in Russia and the situation as depicted in the western MSM. It might surprise you, but the various media pundits have been, let’s say, frugal with the truth. It was certainly surprising for this individual. Even some Russians have been affected by the image of their country on this issue as it has been conjured by professional Russophobes in the media. That is not to say things are rosy, but certainly not the horror show people have been force fed.

    • Nancy
      October 25, 2017 at 11:44 am

      Yes–it’s gotten to the point where any pronouncements by the government or its media lackeys make me believe that the exact opposite is probably the truth. Orwell saw it coming a long time ago.

  11. dfc
    October 24, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    /”Remember that when Pinochet came to power in Chile”/

    Well, down here in Chile, things appear very different from the portrait Daniel Kovalik paints:

    h**p://www.emol.com/noticias/Internacional/2016/07/04/810792/Macri-acusa-al-Gobierno-venezolano-de-violar-todos-los-derechos-humanos.html

    h**p://www.emol.com/noticias/Nacional/2017/08/07/870006/Cadem-El-86-de-los-chilenos-considera-que-Venezuela-tiene-un-gobierno-dictatorial.html

    Santiago is filled with illegal Venezuelan migrants that can be hired to do most anything for pennies on the dollar. They would find it hilarious / absurd / vexing / sad that Venezuela offered to send relief to Puerto Rico.

    h**p://www.emol.com/noticias/Internacional/2017/06/03/861241/Marcha-contra-el-hambre-Oposicion-venezolana-protesta-por-la-escasez-de-alimentos.html

    From a Chilean perspective, there appears to be more to Daniel Kovalik than he is letting on. You would be hard pressed to find a single person down here who would hope that Chile ever undergoes a Bolivarian style revolution.

    The only thing that Kovalik said that makes sense is that the United States should stay out of it.

    • evelync
      October 24, 2017 at 8:01 pm

      Yes, if only we STAYED OUT OF IT.
      And let other countries make their own decisions.

      I can’t imagine how our leaders would handle having some other country show up and tell us what to do…..
      Hmmmm…….

    • anon
      October 24, 2017 at 9:41 pm

      Really? You liked the torture and executions and disappearances under the US-installed Pinochet more than the socialist “regime” of Allende? Is that what brought you to Chile?

      • dfc
        October 24, 2017 at 10:55 pm

        The Pinochet Regime ended in 1990 with a National Plebiscite.

  12. Andrew Nichols
    October 24, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    The blatant US subversion of Venezuela further highlights the grotesque hypocrisy of the outrage over the as yet undiscovered Russian interference in the POTUS election farce. A pity this isn’t shouted from the rooftops by our media

  13. fuster
    October 25, 2017 at 2:37 am

    more ridiculous nonsense attempting to defend an indefensible and failed regime.

    the utterly stupid economic and monetary policies of Chavez, his entrusting important offices to incompetent people chosen only for loyalty to his person rather than any expertise, and the outright stupidity of the dead Chavez’s successor has destroyed the Chavez regime.

    nobody had to do anything to it. it was too stupid to survive.

    (and, btw, how is it that the poor Chavez, living only on a meager government salary, managed to leave behind obscenely wealthy children????)

  14. B Williams
    October 25, 2017 at 5:41 am

    Venezuela decided to trade oil futures in Yuan instead of Dollars and the next day the threat to invade them begun.

    • fuster
      October 25, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      that crap about trading in Yuan causing threats to the regime is blatant nonsense

  15. Pete Martin
    October 25, 2017 at 7:30 am

    My wife is Colombian, we live in South Florida — lots of Venezuelan friends here and many still trapped in Caracas. I use the word trapped purposely! I can’t think of one that likes the current government, in fact they all hate it. One of these friends was forced to give his company, one his family had owned for a 100 years, over to the government. He thought because it was relatively small, the socialist government would leave it alone. Wrong, they confiscated it and all it’s assets and within a short period of time they ran it into the ground and all the employees were without jobs. This is the real promise of socialism!

    Sure I’m not happy with U.S. interference in other countries internal affairs — this needs to stop! But don’t be fooled into thinking that Venezuelan socialism works. It does not and the people are suffering horribly!!

    • dfc
      October 25, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Hi Pete… I don’t know where they found this Daniel Kovalik guy, he is obviously a supporter / apologist of the regime. Which is not unusual but not representative. Right now I can still find Chileans who are Pinochet supporters and even some who have portraits of Pinochet up in their houses, but they are hardly the voices that speak for the country at large.

  16. ssuarez_47@hotmail.com
    October 25, 2017 at 9:41 am

    Wow… These armchair commies never cease to amaze me.

    15 years ago, 4.3 Venezuelan Bolivares could buy you a dollar. Know what happened next? “21st century socialists” went full throttle. Today, 43,000.00 Bolivares can buy you a single Washington.

    Chavez understood all too well what the biggest issue faced by Venezuela was at the turn of the century: a crippling inequality. He also understood how to completely take advantage of this; gaining the favor of the underprivileged, the majority of the population, in order to achieve whatever he wanted in a democracy. This is, rewrite the Constitution to his liking, allowing indefinite reelections, encroaching all power around himself even more by eroding any semblance of divisions of power. The executive branch, the electoral branch, and the supreme Court, all under his thumb.

    • ssuarez_47@hotmail.com
      October 25, 2017 at 9:42 am

      In the past 20 years, Venezuela’s GDP, on the back of all time high oil prices, dwarfed the entirety of 20th century earnings. A period with a $140 oil barrel, a historical opportunity to escape the claws of underdevelopment, to establish an industry, to become a regional, maybe a continental power, all squandered and stolen by Chavez and his cronies.

      Many social programs, yes. Many houses, electric appliances and credits given away. Hell, a few years back, anyone who applied could receive a yearly quota of subsidized dollars in order to travel or study abroad. This is a classic example of “giving a man a fish without teaching him how to fish”.

      Not only did the value of honest work go to hell, but the basis of a successful country, the only way to truly advance, this is, a solid education, has been actively sabotaged by the government. The funding for public universities, many of which had been running flawlessly since the first half of the last century, began receiving ever dwindling state funding, while private universities were menaced and belittled in any way possible. This makes sense, since a stupid population is easier to control, and that’s all the chavistas aspire. To control. To fill their pockets, while newborn children and mothers die in hospitals in grisly scenes, taken right out of the victorian era, in our current year. While elderly and middle aged decent people, who had steady jobs a decade prior, now have to rummage in the trash. While Venezuelans get slaughtered daily, suffer from the highest murder rate per capita in the world, worse than any modern war zone, and with a homicide impunity rate that nears 95%.

      Millions of people found no other choice but to escape from our beloved motherland. Many of us with nothing but our clothes on our back and a couple hundred bucks in our pocket. All because of a militaristic thug, who attempted a coup and failed, got pardoned by the old guard in conciliatory act, and he paid back in kind by utterly destroying what could have been a paradise.

      I simply wish you could one day see past your misguided ideology, your personal madness that sees something fail time and time again, and can’t reach other conclusion than “That wasn’t real socialism”. I just wish you can one day take a good look in the mirror, and ask yourself: Am I on the wrong side of history?

  17. Hank
    October 25, 2017 at 10:05 am

    If Venezuela did not have OIL we would not be talking about the multiple attempts by US funded NGO’s to invoke regime change. Overthrowing democratically elected leaders since 1953- a tradition

  18. JJ Fritz
    October 25, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Living in Florida we have many, many Venezuelan asylum seekers. I imagine people commenting would call them “oligarchs,” but most are your standard engineers, dentists, and teachers. Many were solidly middle-class types. They left everything to come to the USA and clean houses and drive Ubers. Their stories are not filtered through the corporate press. Their stories are real. All you have to do is listen.

    I imagine that they must have left because the democracy in Venezuela is just so free that they couldn’t take all that liberty. While Venezuela rails against american imperialism, they are are selling all their assets to Imperial Russia to stay barely afloat economically.

  19. deang
    October 26, 2017 at 1:35 am

    Glad he mentioned NPR’s role in spreading anti-Venezuelan propaganda. Because of that, I’ve had even liberal friends tell me that that people in Venezuela are starving under a dictatorship and “we have to do something.”

    • ssuarez_47@hotmail.com
      October 26, 2017 at 10:15 am

      No, you don’t have to do anything, as each people should face the consequences of their actions, and pull themselves together in the times of greater need, in order to truly advance as a society.

      According to an internal study by some of Venezuela’s most prestigious universities and a couple Colombian ones, 75% of Venezuelans lost an average of 8 kilograms during 2016. I have seen perfectly dressed elderly people forced to rummage to the trash for food. I’ve read local news of little children dying of poisoning from eating a type of yucca unsuitable for human consumption, found in the trash, because their parents had been unable to provide a bite for them after three whole days. We even have a name for this “Maduro’s diet”. A term even name dropped in “jest” by our bus driver in Chief: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-idUSKBN16U1UL

      Please get your head out of the gutter for a bit, and realize the one consuming propaganda and spouting uniformed opinions is actually you.

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