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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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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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Why Joe May be Courting Stacey

Joe Biden has a history on compulsory integration dating back to the 1970s that Sen. Jesse Helms called “enlightened.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:


Of 895 slots in the freshman class of Stuyvesant High in New York City, seven were offered this year to black students, down from 10 last year and 13 the year before.

In the freshman class of 803 at The Bronx High School of Science, 12 students are black, down from last year’s 25.

Of 303 students admitted to Staten Island Technical High School, one is African-American.

According to The New York Times, similar patterns of admission apply at the other five most elite high schools in the city.

Whites and Asians are 30 percent of middle school students, but 83 percent of the freshman at Bronx High School of Science, 88 percent at Staten Island Technical and 90 percent at Stuyvesant.

What do these numbers tell us?

They reveal the racial composition of the cohort of scientists and technicians who will lead America in the 21st century. And they tell us which races will not be well represented in that vanguard.

They identify a fault line that runs through the Democratic Party, separating leftists who believe in equality of results for all races and ethnic groups, and those who believe in a meritocracy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has expressed anger and frustration at the under-representation of blacks and Hispanics in the elite schools. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have ignored his pleas to change the way students are admitted.

Currently, the same test, of English and math, is given to middle school applicants. And admission to the elite eight is offered to those who get the highest scores.

Moreover, Asians, not whites, are predominant.

Though 15 percent of all middle school students, Asians make up two-thirds of the student body at Stuyvesant, with 80 times as many slots as their African-American classmates.

The egalitarian wing of the Democratic Party sees this as inherently unjust. And what gives this issue national import are these factors:

First, the recent scandal where rich parents paid huge bribes to criminal consultants to get their kids into elite colleges, by falsifying records of athletic achievement and cheating on Scholastic Aptitude Tests, has caused a wave of populist resentment.

Second, Harvard is being sued for systemic reverse racism, as black and Hispanic students are admitted with test scores hundreds of points below those that would disqualify Asians and whites.

Third, Joe Biden has a history on compulsory integration dating back to the 1970s that Sen. Jesse Helms called “enlightened.”

Here are Biden’s quotes, unearthed by The Washington Post, that reflect his beliefs about forced busing for racial balance in public schools:

“The new integration plans being offered are really just quota systems to assure a certain number of blacks, Chicanos, or whatever in each school. That, to me, is the most racist concept you can come up with.

“What it says is, ‘In order for your child with curly black hair, brown eyes, and dark skin to be able to learn anything, he needs to sit next to my blond-haired, blue-eyed son.’ That’s racist!

“Who the hell do we think we are, that the only way a black man or woman can learn is if they rub shoulders with my white child?

“I am philosophically opposed to quota systems. They insure mediocrity.”

That was 44 years ago. While those views were the thinking of many Democrats, and perhaps of most Americans, in the mid-’70s, they will be problematic in the 2020 primaries, where African-Americans could be decisive in the contests that follow Iowa and New Hampshire.

Biden knows that just as Bernie Sanders, another white male, fell short in crucial South Carolina because of a lack of support among black voters, he, too, has a problem with that most loyal element in the Democratic coalition.

In 1991, Biden failed to rise to the defense of Anita Hill when she charged future Justice Clarence Thomas with sexual harassment. In the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was a law-and-order champion responsible for tough anti-crime legislation that is now regarded as discriminatory.

And he has a record on busing for racial balance that made him a de facto ally of Louise Day Hicks of the Boston busing case fame.

How, with a record like this, does Biden inoculate himself against attacks by rival candidates, especially candidates of color, in his run for the nomination?

One way would be to signal to his party that he has grown, he has changed, and his 2020 running mate will be a person of color. Perhaps he’ll run with a woman of color such as Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the 2018 governor’s race in Georgia.

An ancillary benefit would be that Abrams on the ticket would help him carry Georgia, a state Donald Trump probably cannot lose and win re-election.

Wrote Axios this morning:

“Close advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden are debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Stacey Abrams as his vice president.”


Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

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