Thursday, September 24, 2009

UC walkout intensifies at UCSC

Occupy California, a coalition of undergrads and grads has occupied a building in the center of the UC Santa Cruz campus. You can also follow the action here, on twitter.


A non-Venezuela (or Honduras) post:

Today, 24 September, faculty, students, grad students and staff across the University of California, California State University, California Community College and many K-12 districts are walking out in protest of the way in which the state has de-prioritized, privatized and all but sought to dismantle public education. As an educator and worker, I stand in solidarity with the walkout, and the need to recognize education as a fundamental right and responsibility for the common good, not a privilege for the elites or an instrumentalized path towards a bigger personal paycheck.

This is bigger than the University of California. Indeed, it is bigger than the United States. The current global crisis in the capitalist system will not get better, the 'belt' won't loosen again after these lean times, and 'we' are not in 'this' together. Once again, the rich expect us to shoulder their burden, expect our kids to forgo an education, expect us to continue living on tenuous health care and precarious employment. No. The crisis is general and the response needs to be general. Today's walkout is but one first step.

(fore more info, visit

Monday, September 21, 2009

(Translation) Zelaya confirms that Insulza will arrive in Tegucigalpa this Tuesday

TeleSUR 21 September, 2009 --- Honduras’s constitutional president, Manuel Zelaya, announced that the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, José Miguel Insulza, will arrive in Tegucigalpa this Tuesday in order to help him in his return to power after confirming that president Zelaya had returned to the capital.

The president said that Insulza had expressed his desire to enter Honduras on the same day, in order to initiate a dialogue oriented toward the recuperation of democracy.

“This morning, secretary Insulza has announced that he wants to come here right now,” said Zelaya from the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.

Zelaya confirmed that he was in the Brazilian embassy, and thanked president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for the diplomatic gesture.

He also called on the Honduran people to come to the embassy to accompany him to reclaim constitutional rule in the country after the military coup d’état of last July 28.

This Monday, the Brasilian embassy in Honduras confirmed that the constitutional president was present in the diplomatic complex, after which point Zelaya’s wife, Xiomara Castro, delivered the news to thousands of citizens that were waiting to see Zelaya at the offices of the United Nations in the Honduran capital.

TeleSUR correspondent Adriana Sívori confirmed the presence of the ousted president and then informed that people continued to pour into the areas around the UN offices in order to celebrate the presence of the president [in Tegucigalpa].


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Clinton gets it all wrong (again)

A few days ago, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed her concern at Venezuela's ostensible militarization. In the course of a press conference with Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez, Clinton hypothesized that Venezuela's plan to purchase defensive armaments from Russia could trigger a 'regional arms race' after she repeated the lie that Venezuela spends more than any other country in South America on the military.

We've heard this before, numerous times in fact, throughout the Bush years. Just to be clear:

Not to mention that the moral concerns of the US in terms of military spending is the definition of hypocrisy:

But even more confusing, if we want to be naïve about this for a moment, is that the only country on the South American continent to recently engage in belligerent activities against its neighbors is not Venezuela, but rather Colombia, the US's closes ally in the region. In March of 2008 Colombia violated Ecuadoran sovereignty in order to assassinate Raúl Reyes, the spokesman of the FARC's (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).

Tellingly enough, Clinton did not speculate why it might be that Venezuela thinks it might need to boost its defensive capacities.

Talks broke down today in Quito, Ecuador, as Latin American foreign ministers and military officials met to respond to plans to install a number of US military bases in Colombia. While the talks were able to produce a series of agreements on transparency and mutual non-aggression, Colombia blocked any proposal that might prevent the US plans from being carried out. The United States has been particularly short on friends in the region since the infamously rocky Bush years. Most notably in this particular arena, Ecuador and Paraguay have either ejected or refused to renew contracts that allow US military personnel to be based in their national territory. As a result, the US would have to disproportionately rely on it recently recommissioned 4th fleet which operates in the Caribbean, and whose military exercises near the Dutch colony of Curaçao -- only a few miles off the northern coast of Venezuela -- has been cause for alarm throughout the region.

Hat tip to Inka Cola news on the righteous graphage.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Links between Colombian Intelligence Organisation and Venezuelan Opposition Uncovered (repost from

September 10, 2009 -- Tamara Pearson
Ex DAS director of information technology, Rafael Garcia, in the interview with TeleSUR (VTV)

Mérida, September 9th, 2009 ( - Rafael Garcia, ex director of information technology of Colombia's main intelligence agency, DAS, revealed that the agency had used its links with the paramilitary in Colombia to participate, together with Venezuelan opposition sectors, in a plot against the current Venezuelan government.

TeleSUR interviewed Garcia, who is currently in jail for 18 years, on Monday morning. Garcia described how the Administrative Department of Security (DAS), which is meant to fight terrorism in Colombia, and the Colombian internal affairs ministry, through their links with the Self-defence Units of Colombia (AUC), participated in a plot driven by Venezuelan opposition sectors against the Chavez government.

The AUC was an illegal paramilitary organisation created in 1997, to unite various paramilitary groups, and it declared itself a "counter-insurgency group" to fight the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Both Colombia and the US formally classified the AUC as a terrorist organisation, which, according to the records of one of its leaders, Carlos Castano, was financed by drug trafficking, kidnapping and extorsion.

Garcia explained in the interview that in the lead up to the presidential campaign in 2002, many politicians were supported by the AUC, in its aspiration to have influence in the Congress. Current Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, on being elected, handed out positions, including to some of these "paramilitary-politicians".

"Jorge Noguera [ex DAS director] knew he needed the support of [the North bloc of the AUC] ... and he looked for that support through me, because I participated in their campaigns, I participated in electoral fraud and everything," Garcia said.

Jorge Noguera, director of DAS from 2002-2006, was also head of Uribe's presidential election campaign. He is now in jail over his illegal relationship with the Colombian paramilitary, largely due to testimony by Garcia.

Noguera's arrest was part of what is known in the English world as the Paragate scandal (parapolitica in Spanish- or paramilitary politicians) where, in 2006, several Colombian politicians were arrested for colluding with the AUC. By April 2008, 62 congress members and 33 lawmakers, including Uribe's cousin, were in jail waiting to be tried.

Garcia then described how many of the paramilitary-politicians were present the day after Uribe won the election, in August 2002, and how they asked him to name Noguera for the position of DAS director. The AUC, Garcia explained, wanted influence in DAS, as well as to infiltrate the Attorney General's Office.

"Jorge Noguera, from the start, he said to me.... "Our mission is full collaboration with the AUC"". Garcia also named other people in the DAS who had collaborated with the AUC.

The police had a report pointing to Garcia as a link between Noguera and the AUC, and Noguera told Garcia one day, "Don't worry, because the president and the attorney general are well informed about this and they will protect us when the time comes." Indeed, when the scandal arose, Uribe initially transferred Noguerra to be consul in Milan, Garcia said later on in the interview.

"It's clear that there was a conspiracy plan against the Venezuelan government, in which DAS played a part, as well as the minister Fernando Londoño, who I suppose had friends in Venezuela," Garcia went on.

"Things are being discovered little by little... DAS took ex government employees and put them to work undercover...this is what Jorge Noguera did with Jorge Diaz, they took him from his position of DAS director in Cucuta and they put him to work on clandestine undercover operations in Venezuela."

"He and Jorge Noguera met with Venezuelan military personal. I don't know if these meetings took place here in Colombia or in Venezuela, but I know they took place," Garcia revealed.

In response to the question; do you think the plot you are talking about was initiated by Jorge Noguera and the minister Londoño? Garcia responded, "No, I don't think it was. They were sought after, above all Londoño, was sought after by Venezuelan opposition sectors."

"Over there [in Venezuela] there was an opposition alliance; I think it was called the Democratic Bloc, that had made alliances with factions of the [AUC] in order to conspire against the government of President Chavez."

Venezuelan opposition plans to defeat the Chavez government

"There were concrete plans, this group, the Democratic bloc, I don't remember the exact name, had a plan with three components. [Firstly,] the sabotage of productive apparatus in Venezuela, and as a result of this there was the [oil] strike in 2002 that caused a lot of damage to productive apparatus."

"[The second component of the plan was] media attacks, that is, putting the media against the Chavez government, and [thirdly] they looked at assassinating representatives in order to cause unease in Venezuelan society. In those plans, I know that President Chavez, Jose Vincent Rangel, the minister of justice and internal affairs, Jesse Chacon, and the attorney general, Isaías Rodriguez were included."

Next, Garcia talked about the assassination of Danilo Anderson in November 2004. Anderson was a Venezuelan environmental state prosecutor investigating over 400 people accused of crimes against the state and the Venezuelan people in the failed April 2002 Coup. He was killed by an explosive in his car.

"I didn't know that Danilo Anderson was included in this [list of people to assassinate], never the less it's very likely, given the way he was killed. A lot of explosives were passed on by DAS workers via the border post of Paraguachon, in my presence, I saw it."

The interviewer also asked about the over 100 presumed paramilitaries who have been detained in Venezuela. Garcia responded that, "The border [between Venezuela and Colombia] is imaginary when it comes to the [AUC] appropriating land or intimidating the population."

Garcia then gave the example of one romantic relationship that existed, and how this was used to help get paramilitaries into Venezuela. The woman involved in the relationship lent the AUC a large farm, El Hatillo, where they were later discovered by Venezuelan police.

"I know that in Zulia [state in Venezuela, bordering Colombia] there were a lot of people who collaborated, not just in these activities, but also in drug-smuggling though Venezuela... there was a time when [Noguera] was the authority, just as [he] was in Colombian cities, he was in Maracaibo [capital of Zulia state]."

"The AUC were a phenomenon that was changed by they looked for cultivation and smuggling zones, so this is what permeated the [border] zone, including today [the phenomenon] is still present in [Venezulean border state] Tachira with [paramilitary group] the Black Eagles."

Venezuelan journalist Alberto Nolia, analysing the interview, said, "Its clear the Colombian government was completely involved in the conspiracy...Garcia has linked the government of Uribe with the paramilitaries and with drug smuggling."

The revelations of links between the Colombian government and its institutions with the paramilitary and the Venezuelan opposition's attempts to defeat the Chavez government come at a time when Colombia has just accepted a U.S. military presence on seven of its bases, something Chavez sees as paramount to "talking about war."

On Tuesday the Colombian Supreme Court annulled charges against Noguera, for aggravated murder, bribery and misappropriation, but the charge of coordinating crime remains.

Source URL (retrieved on Sep 13 2009 - 20:00):
License: Published under a Creative Commons license (by-nc-nd). See for more information.

Friday, September 4, 2009

'South of the Border' Trailer

Oliver Stone's documentary South of the Border, which he wrote with Tariq Ali, premieres at the Venice Film Festival soon. Here's the trailer:

Teaching responsibilities have kept me away for a while now...and they don't look to be letting up any time soon. However, I plan on writing a few pieces in the upcoming weeks on the ongoing situation in Honduras and US plans to open bases in Colombia and the Venezuelan response.