- 10 months ago
Venezuela Survives Another Attempt at Regime Change
While most of the news on Venezuela in the week since the April 14 presidential election focused on the efforts of losing candidate Henrique Capriles to challenge the results, there was another campaign based in Washington that was quite revealing. And the two were most definitely related. Without Washington’s strong support – the first time it had refused to recognize a Venezuelan election result – it is unlikely that Capriles would have joined the hard core elements of his camp in pretending that the election was stolen.
Washington’s efforts to de-legitimize the election mark a significant escalation of U.S. efforts at “regime change” in Venezuela. Not since its involvement in the 2002 military coup has the U.S. government done this much to promote open conflict in Venezuela. When the White House first announced on Monday that a 100 percent audit of the votes was “an important, prudent and necessary step,” this was not an effort to promote a “recount.” They had to know that this was a form of hate speech – telling the government of Venezuela what was necessary to make their elections legitimate. They also had to know that it would not make such a recount more likely. And this was also their quick reply to Maduro’s efforts, according to the New York Times of April 15, to reach out to the Obama administration for better relations through former Clinton Energy Secretary Bill Richardson.
But the Obama team’s effort failed miserably. On Wednesday the government of Spain, Washington’s only significant ally supporting a “100 percent audit” reversed its position and recognized Maduro’s election. Then the Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, backed off his prior alignment with the Obama administration and recognized the election result. Although some of the press had misreported Insulza’s position as that of the OAS, in reality he had been representing nobody but Washington. It was not just the left governments of Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay and others that had quickly congratulated Maduro on his victory. Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti and other non-left governments had joined them. The Obama administration was completely isolated in the world.
- 10 months ago
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A historic trial against former U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity came to an abrupt end Thursday when an appeals court suspended the trial before a criminal court was scheduled to reach a verdict. Ríos Montt on was charged in connection with the slaughter of more than 1,700 people in Guatemala’s Ixil region after he seized power in 1982. His 17-month rule is seen as one of the bloodiest chapters in Guatemala’s decades-long campaign against Maya indigenous people, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. Thursday’s decision is seen as a major blow to indigenous victims. Investigative journalist Allan Nairn reported last night Guatemalan army associates had threatened the lives of case judges and prosecutors and that the case had been annulled after intervention by Guatemala’s president, General Otto Pérez Molina. Ríos Montt was the first head of state in the Americas to stand trial for genocide. Nairn flew to Guatemala last week after he was called to testify in Ríos Montt’s trial. He was listed by the court as a “qualified witness” and was tentatively scheduled to testify on Monday. But at the last minute, Nairn was kept off the stand “in order,” he was told, “to avoid a confrontation” with the president, General Pérez Molina, and for fear that if he took the stand, military elements might respond with violence. In the 1980s, Nairn extensively documented broad army responsibility for the massacres and was prepared to present evidence that personally implicated Pérez Molina, who was field commander during the very Mayan Ixil region massacres for which the ex-dictator, Ríos Montt, had been charged with genocide. [includes rush transcript]
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: An historic trial against former U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity came to an abrupt end Thursday when an appeals court suspended the trial before a criminal court was scheduled to reach a verdict. Investigative journalist Allan Nairn reported last night Guatemalan army associates had threatened the lives of case judges and prosecutors and that the case had been annulled after intervention by Guatemala’s president, General Otto Pérez Molina.
Ríos Montt was the first head of state in the Americas to stand trial for genocide.
He was charged in connection with the slaughter of more than 1,700 people in Guatemala’s Ixil region after he seized power in 1982. His 17-month rule is seen as one of the bloodiest chapters in Guatemala’s decades-long campaign against Maya indigenous people, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands.
On Thursday, survivors of the genocide attempted to approach Ríos Montt inside the courtroom, screaming “Murderer!”
- 10 months ago
The US Continues to Undermine Democracy in Venezuela
I just returned from Venezuela where I was one of 170 international election observers from around the world, including India, Guyana, Surinam, Colombia, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Scotland, England, the United States, Guatemala, Argentina, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Brazil, Chile, Greece, France, Panama and Mexico. These observers included two former Presidents (of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic), judges, lawyers and numerous high ranking officials of national electoral councils. What we found was an election system which was transparent, inherently reliable, well-run and thoroughly audited.
Indeed, as to the auditing, what has been barely mentioned by the mainstream press is the fact that over 54% of all votes are, and indeed have already been, audited to ensure that the electronic votes match up with the paper receipts which serve as back-up for the electronic votes. And, this auditing is done in the presence of witnesses from both the governing and opposition parties right in the local polling place itself. I witnessed just such an audit at the end of election day on Sunday. And, as is the usual case, the paper results matched up perfectly with the electronic ones. As the former Guatemalan President, Alvaro Colom, who served as an observer, opined, the vote in Venezuela is “secure” and easily verifiable.
In short, the observers’ experience this past week aligns with former U.S. president Jimmy Carter’s observation last year that Venezuela’s electoral system is indeed the “the best in the world.”
- 10 months ago
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry:
Well, thank you very much, Congressman Meeks. I am very, very hopeful. I am planning a trip shortly to both Columbia and Brazil, and other countries, hopefully, as time permits.
We’ve had some issues, obviously, with Argentina, (inaudible) over some debt issues and repayment, so forth, which we need to work through. But look, the Western Hemisphere is our backyard. It’s critical to us.
Too often, countries in the Western Hemisphere think that the United States doesn’t pay enough attention to them. And on occasion, it’s probably been true. I think we need to reach out vigorously. We plan to. The president will be traveling to Mexico very shortly. And then south, I think he’s going — I can’t remember which other countries. But he’s going to the region. I will be going, other high-level visits.
And we intend to do everything possible to try to change the attitude of a number of nations where we’ve had, obviously, sort of a breach in the relationship over the course of the last few years.”