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Exorcising the ‘Popular Will’: How Venezuela can reclaim its democracy

Venezuela’s political crisis is rooted in the conciliatory policies its socialist reformist government has followed towards its utterly implacable opponents.

Haneul Na'avi

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“What we have to deal with here is a communist society [which] is thus in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it comes.” —Karl Marx, “Critique of the Gotha Programme”

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will cast votes on 30 July to determine its fate as President and United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) leader Nicolás Maduro continues to battle neoliberal opposition party Popular Will (VP), who has received Washington’s blessings.

Since 19 April, spontaneous “uprisings” have erupted in affluent barrios of Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, and Socopó, a small town strategically located in Barinas, where protesters have cut off food and medical supplies, killed over 80 people, and injured hundreds more.

Historically, Venezuelans are no stranger to US-orchestrated coups, which began during the Bush Administration’s 2002 putsch against PSUV founder and former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and subsequent riots in 2014; many carried out by senior officials in the US government.

“[The] crucial figure around the coup was [Elliot] Abrams, [the] senior director of the National Security Council for ‘democracy, human rights and international operations’” and “has a conviction for misleading Congress over the infamous Iran-Contra affair,” the Guardian highlights.

US congressmen have also drafted a bill (S.1018) that “would allocate £7.8m for the Department of State and USAid to provide ‘humanitarian assistance’ — code for funding rightwing activities”, the Morning Star highlighted.

“If this Bill is approved, the Caribbean region would also come under renewed lobbying by the US government to strengthen its ‘energy security initiative’ (CESI) project — a move designed to undermine Venezuela’s support in the region and opening up new markets for the US”, it continued.

Fortunately, the US failed to coerce the Organisation for American States (OAS) to approve a resolution condemning Venezuela’s election during their 20 June meeting in Cancun, Mexico.

“Mexico’s position on Venezuela is a position that will not waver […] representative democracy is the only form of government acceptable in the Western Hemisphere,” Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray exclaimed, remaining completely mum on the 129 Azinoyapa students found dead in over 60 mass graves throughout Iguala several years ago.

Videgaray was not convincing enough to secure a majority vote, Venezuela Analysis noted:

“[It] secured the support of 20 OAS member states, falling short of the required two thirds majority by three votes [where] Bolivia, Nicaragua and a handful of small Caribbean states outright rejected the proposal, while Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, the Dominican Republic and others abstained.”

After lambasting Videgaray, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez reminded him of Venezuela’s departure from the OAS, “which […] began on April 27 [and] will continue since it takes two years for a country to withdraw from the organization,” CaribFlame reported.

Venezuela’s election would secure popularly appointed representatives for a Constituent National Assembly to replace the current parliament now controlled by opposition parties.

It would organise 540 constituent parliamentarians, with 346 from all territorial municipalities and 186 MPs from seven key sectors, into communes, TeleSUR notes.

constitutionnet.org elucidates the reasons for these reforms:

One of [Chavez’s] 1998 campaign promises was that he would [organise] a referendum asking the Venezuelan people if they wish to convene a National Constituent Assembly [in order to] to open up political discourse to independent and third parties by changing the national political process and eliminating political corruption of the past.

However, what Venezuelans need is less, not more dialogue with the opposition, if any at all.

Material Reasons for the US-led Coup

When analysing US imperialism, one must consider that American invests in ‘liberal democracy’ and ‘human rights’ for purely materialistic (resource-based) and geopolitical reasons.

As noted in previous Duran articles, the Trump Doctrine prioritises its economic policy, which combines the vast privatisation of public infrastructure with control of the petrodollar by opening domestic oil production and consumption—both to stave off an economic collapse.

They also criticise the failures of both the Peronist Argentinian government under Christina Fernandez Kirchner and Brazilian Worker’s Party (PT) with Dilma Rousseff, as they were both overthrown by US-led political coups; the very same that Venezuela faces today.

Maduro’s snap elections have not provoked the US; this is a superstructural casus belli. Rather, the PSUV has been moving away from Western financial institutions, selling off USD, nationalising capital, and forming solid partnerships with Iran, China, Russia, and others.

A month before the protests began, The World Bank International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ruled in Venezuela’s favour after Chavez nationalised the Cero Negro and La Ceiba ExxonMobil refineries in mid-2000 “as part of a strategy to redirect the profits away from Venezuela’s mineral resources, telecoms, and agriculture industries and toward social programs”.

“[…] even at $1.6 billion, the compensation was substantially lower than what Exxon had asked for: $14.7 billion,” Oilprice insinuates. The US—mainly US Secretary of State (and former ExxonMobil CEO) Rex Tillerson—was left fuming by the ruling.

In May 2007, the PSUV government also parted with the IMF and World Bank after paying off all its outstanding debts, in response to the 2002 US-backed coup.

“Venezuela recently repaid its debts to the World Bank five years ahead of schedule. In doing so it saved $8m (£3.99m) and cleared all its debts to the IMF shortly after Mr Chávez was elected,” the Guardian noted.

The gesture empowered Venezuela to seek new fiscal ventures following a period of “high public spending and private consumption, fuelled by high oil prices and historically low interest rates.”

The following December, Chavez inaugurated plans with six South American presidents to create the Bank of the South (BancoSUR), the central bank of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and a rival institution to its former creditors.

“The bank is a political fact and is part of an economic war that is also social and ideological,” Chavez mentioned.

A 2015 Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) article specifies the bank’s nature:

The bank will have an authorized capital of $20 billion USD, with 20,000 trade shares, each with a par value of $1 million USD [and whilst] only UNASUR member states may hold the main shares, every state in the world may be a purchaser of secondary shares.

Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela will provide 20 percent of the subscribed capital one year after the agreement [and become] endorsed for $7 billion USD shares,” it explained.

These three nations are the largest shareholders of the bank and, subsequently, became targets of former US President and counterintelligence laureate Barack Obama. US President Donald Trump continued these attacks by picking Rex Tillerson over Elliot Abrams, as Tillerson’s oil market experience took precedence following the 2015 Saudi oil glut.

As a result, Venezuela has been left at the helm of Bolivarian regional integration with only its secondary shareholders remaining, and was also forced to prioritise UNASUR after its primary shareholders became US vassals and suspended the country’s participation in Mercosur.

However, BancoSUR has yet to find suitable replacements for the gap in primary shareholder capital, and to further expedite regionalisation, needs to fully implement the Regional Compensation Unique System (SUCRE) for Bolivarian Alliance for the People of our Americas (ALBA) members.

The SUCRE, a virtual currency, would help avoid “the dollarization of Latin American economies [and] the ebb and flow of foreign capital that causes economic bubbles [and] volatility,” and move towards a more decisive monetary edifice [for] regional trade requirements,” COHA explained.

However, corruption within Ecuador and Venezuela emerged after white collar criminals used it to launder money via “ghost companies”, where they “over-invoiced for goods received and took advantage of favourable exchange rates” and, by 2014, “up to 5% of Sucre transactions were suspicious in nature,” prompting a thorough joint investigation, FINTRAIL highlighted.

The Saudi oil glut ravaged global oil markets and Venezuela’s petrol revenues, prompting Maduro to discuss matters with Russia, Iran and other Persian Gulf states to stabilise production.

Obama first exploited Venezuela’s fiscal problems by imposing unilateral sanctions, and later, Trump hastily targeted the PDVSA, ultimately damaging American markets as well.

“Some 95 percent of its foreign incomes results from the export of crude oil with 40 percent of sales coming from the United States,” Deutsche Welle reports.

Luckily, banning PDVSA crude will, in the long term, force Venezuela to diversify clientele; something Russia and Iran are wholly familiar with. Obviously, the best way to achieve this is via the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); however, Venezuela requires something more.

Resolving the Crisis of Bolivarian Socialism

Latin American socialism is dying because of its social-democratic nature. Its leaders have prioritised Bolivarian ‘regional integration’ over all other necessities, foregoing a dictatorship of the proletariat (DotP), which has allowed reactionary forces to flourish with impunity.

Consequently, the Latin American bourgeoisie are more aptly trained in the ‘international, violent character’ of revolution than their hosts, and Venezuela is no exception.

For these reasons, VP spokespersons Henrique Capriles and Leopold Lopez openly command Venezuela’s far-right, “[asking] his supporters to keep up the almost daily street mobilizations.”

US-backed death squads can murder innocent Venezuelans, attack supply routes, and enjoy the good graces of the US State Department and its invasive, lickspittle press with few consequences.

The opposition claims that Maduro does not respect ‘constitutional democracy’; yet, Venezuela’s constitution needs to be rewritten, as it is the very obstacle hindering the security of the country.

Constitutional democracy has permitted neoliberal MPs 167 seats in parliament and the Supreme Court to reverse Maduro’s transfer of powers from the National Assembly to the judiciary branch, with spectators clasping hands and rejoicing, “the people have spoken!”

Had the PSUV been more Bolshevik and less Narodnik in its views, it could have achieved the same level of success as its ALBA comrades in Cuba, whose only concession to the bourgeoisie was providing transport for a permanent settlement in Little Havana.

Instead of following Cuba’s example, the PSUV have instead relied on economism, regionalism, and legalism to secure its revolutions. What it has failed to do is utilise the entire state apparatus to eliminate class divisions and wither away the state.

A furious Karl Marx addressed a similar leader, Gottfried Ludolf Camphausen, in the Neue Rheinsiche Zeitung with his essay, “The Bourgeoisie and the Counter-Revolution”.

Hal Draper invokes Marx’s definition of a ‘proper’ dictatorship:

Every provisional state setup after a revolution requires a dictatorship [and] taxed Camphausen […] with not immediately smashing and eliminating the remnants of the old institutions.

Lenin elaborates this in precise detail in State and Revolution:

Only in communist society, when the resistance of the capitalists have disappeared, when there are no classes […] only then “the state… ceases to exist”, […] only then will democracy begin to wither away, owing to the simple fact that, freed from capitalist slavery, from the untold horrors, savagery, absurdities, and infamies of capitalist exploitation, people will gradually become accustomed to observing the elementary rules of social intercourse […] without coercion, without subordination, without the special apparatus for coercion called the state.

This is precisely what Latin America, save for Cuba, has failed to do. They call themselves “socialists” without following socialism’s basic tenants—smashing the state as prescribed by Marx.

Following the 26 July revolution, Republic of Cuba founders Fidel and Raul Castro expropriated the bourgeoisie, nationalised foreign capital, and abolished private property without hesitation.

Venezuela must act just as decisively after the 30 July elections.

Once (if!) the new Constituency Assembly convenes, the government should propose the following resolutions via popular vote, executive orders, and intergovernmental dialogue:

  1. Rewrite Venezuelan constitution to reflect socialist ambitions of the public.
  2. Designate Popular Will as a terrorist organisation for treason and collusion with the US.
  3. Initiate military campaign to root out Popular Will collaborators and saboteurs. Establish a humanitarian corridor and provide timely updates to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
  4. Jail key Popular Will members and fully establish DotP via new constituencies.
  5. Create a 5-year plan with direct consultation from the public. Strengthen international alliances.
  6. Negotiate with the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to denominate national oil in alternative currencies. Float SUCRE on Yuan or Euros.
  7. Work with global partnerships throughout AIIB to oversee construction of refineries, pipelines, and infrastructure. Offer oil security and secondary shares to collaborators in return. Renegotiate relationship to private sector.
  8. Prepare to leave the OAS and MercoSUR. Prioritise and build UNASUR.

Venezuelans must restore democracy after 30 July. No longer can neoliberal elements lie in wait like a chronic illness amongst the people. Maduro must take the steps to learn from the mistakes of Brazil and Argentina, as well as follow Cuba’s example, in order to become a true socialist state.

For the sake of its bright future, it must take action, and whilst its task is daunting, it can prevail.

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“Foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails (Video)

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx): Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails was hacked by foreign actor, and it was not Russia.

Alex Christoforou

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A stunning revelation that hardly anyone in the mainstream media is covering.

Fox News gave Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) the opportunity to explain what was going on during his questioning of Peter Strzok, when the the Texas Congressman stated that a “foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Aside from this segment on Fox News, this story is not getting any coverage, and we know why. It destroys the entire ‘Russia hacked Hillary’ narrative.

Gohmert states that this evidence is irrefutable and shows that a foreign actor, not connected to Russia in any way, intercepted and distributed Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via Zerohedge

As we sift through the ashes of Thursday’s dumpster-fire Congressional hearing with still employed FBI agent Peter Strzok, Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller plucked out a key exchange between Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) and Strzok which revealed a yet-unknown bombshell about the Clinton email case.

Nearly all of Hillary Clinton’s emails on her homebrew server went to a foreign entity that isn’t Russia. When this was discovered by the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), IG Chuck McCullough sent his investigator Frank Ruckner and an attorney to notify Strzok along with three other people about the “anomaly.”

Four separate attempts were also made to notify DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to brief him on the massive security breach, however Horowitz “never returned the call.” Recall that Horowitz concluded last month that despite Strzok’s extreme bias towards Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump – none of it translated to Strzok’s work at the FBI.

In other words; Strzok, while investigating Clinton’s email server, completely ignored the fact that most of Clinton’s emails were sent to a foreign entity – while IG Horowitz simply didn’t want to know about it.

Daily Caller reports…

The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) found an “anomaly on Hillary Clinton’s emails going through their private server, and when they had done the forensic analysis, they found that her emails, every single one except four, over 30,000, were going to an address that was not on the distribution list,” Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said during a hearing with FBI official Peter Strzok.

Gohmert continued..

“It was going to an unauthorized source that was a foreign entity unrelated to Russia.”

Strzok admitted to meeting with Ruckner but said he couldn’t remember the “specific” content of their discussion.

“The forensic examination was done by the ICIG and they can document that,” Gohmert said, “but you were given that information and you did nothing with it.”

According to Zerohedge “Mr. Horowitz got a call four times from someone wanting to brief him about this, and he never returned the call,” Gohmert said – and Horowitz wouldn’t return the call.

And while Peter Strzok couldn’t remember the specifics of his meeting with the IG about the giant “foreign entity” bombshell, he texted this to his mistress Lisa Page when the IG discovered the “(C)” classification on several of Clinton’s emails – something the FBI overlooked:

“Holy cow … if the FBI missed this, what else was missed? … Remind me to tell you to flag for Andy [redacted] emails we (actually ICIG) found that have portion marks (C) on a couple of paras. DoJ was Very Concerned about this.”

Via Zerohedge

In November of 2017, IG McCullough – an Obama appointee – revealed to Fox News that he received pushback when he tried to tell former DNI James Clapper about the foreign entity which had Clinton’s emails and other anomalies.

Instead of being embraced for trying to expose an illegal act, seven senators including Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) wrote a letter accusing him of politicizing the issue.

“It’s absolutely irrelevant whether something is marked classified, it is the character of the information,” he said. Fox News reports…

McCullough said that from that point forward, he received only criticism and an “adversarial posture” from Congress when he tried to rectify the situation.

“I expected to be embraced and protected,” he said, adding that a Hill staffer “chided” him for failing to consider the “political consequences” of the information he was blowing the whistle on.

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Donald Trump plays good cop and bad cop with a weak Theresa May (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 55.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK was momentous, not for its substance, but rather for its sheer entertainment value.

Trump started his trip to the United Kingdom blasting Theresa May for her inability to negotiate a proper Brexit deal with the EU.  Trump ended his visit holding hands with the UK Prime Minister during a press conference where the most ‘special relationship’ between the two allies was once again reaffirmed.

Protests saw giant Trump “baby balloons” fly over London’s city center, as Trump played was his own good cop and bad cop to the UK PM, outside London at the Chequers…often times leaving May’s head spinning.

Even as Trump has left London, he remains front and center in the mind of Theresa May, who has now stated that Trump advised her to “sue” the European Union to resolve the tense negotiations over Brexit.

Trump had mentioned to reporters on Friday at a joint press conference with Theresa May that he had given the British leader a suggestion that she found too “brutal.”

Asked Sunday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show what that suggestion was, May: “He told me I should sue the EU. Not go into negotiation, sue them.” May added…

“What the president also said at that press conference was `Don’t walk away. Don’t walk away from the negotiations. Then you’re stuck.”‘

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris summarize what was a state visit like no other, as Trump trolled the UK PM from beginning to end, and left London knowing that he got the better of a weakened British Prime Minister, who may not survive in office past next week.

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Via CNBC

It wasn’t exactly clear what Trump meant. The revelation came after explosive and undiplomatic remarks Trump made this week about May’s leadership — especially her handling of the Brexit negotiations — as he made his first official visit to Britain.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper published Thursday — just as May was hosting Trump at a lavish black-tie dinner — Trump said the British leader’s approach likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States. He said he had told May how to conduct Brexit negotiations, “but she didn’t listen to me.”

He also praised May’s rival, Boris Johnson, who quit last week as foreign secretary to protest May’s Brexit plans. Trump claimed Johnson would make a “great prime minister.”

The comments shocked many in Britain — even May’s opponents — and threatened to undermine May’s already fragile hold on power. Her Conservative government is deeply split between supporters of a clean break with the EU and those who want to keep close ties with the bloc, Britain’s biggest trading partner.

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Deep State poster boy Peter Strzok gives bizarre testimony that goes viral (Video)

The face of the Deep State.

Alex Christoforou

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If you were not convinced that the Deep State exists, then look no further than Peter Strzok’s bizarre, yet revealing, congressional testimony, showcasing the arrogance and smugness of a powerful FBI agent who worked diligently to push a fake Trump-Russia narrative onto the American public.

Via Zerohedge

While Peter Strzok’s marathon Congressional testimony was full of bickering, chaos and drama – mostly between members of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees – a clip of the disgraced FBI agent’s seemingly giddy reaction after answering a question is creeping people out.

Some have suggested that Strzok’s reaction was “Duper’s delight” – a hidden smirk that slips out at an inappropriate moment when a liar celebrates a successful manipulation.

Watching Peter Strzok, its hard, if not impossible to believe that this man is not a psychopath, who hated Trump so much that he was willing to forward a collusion story that has cost American taxpayers millions, and torn American society apart.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

The video clip even had Donald Trump Jr retweeting it, as he labeled Strzok “the creepiest person in America.”

Via RT

One particular moment from Peter Strzok’s raucous congressional hearing left Twitter users confounded and disturbed, even prompting Donald Trump Jr to label the FBI agent “the creepiest person in America.”

Strzok faced the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on Thursday to answer questions about his conduct during the 2016 investigations into Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The lengthy hearing quickly descended into a partisan shouting match, as Republicans and Democrats interrupted each other’s questions, heckling or applauding Strzok.

Strzok’s peculiar reaction to one question caught the eye of viewers and many took to Twitter to confirm that their eyes weren’t deceiving them.

Strzok’s facial expressions were also noticed by the congressmen in the room and prompted one of the most dramatic moments of the hearing when Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) accused Strzok of outright lying.

“I can’t help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk; how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eyes and lie to her about Lisa Page,” Gohmert told Strzok, referring to the agent’s extramarital affair with his former colleague Lisa Page, with whom he exchanged anti-Trump text messages. Gohmert’s comment sparked vociferous objections from Democrats.

The hearing evoked a significant reaction, with many describing it as a farce. Former New York mayor and current attorney to US President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, labelled it a “disgrace” and said it “taints the entire Mueller witch hunt.”

“President Trump is being investigated by people who possess pathological hatred for him. All the results of the investigation are ‘fruit of the poison tree’ and should be dismissed,” he added.

Democrats seemed to agree with that sentiment, as California Congressman Ted Lieu said it was “a stupid and ridiculous hearing.”

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