John Pilger: Truth About Venezuela Coup Attempt.

(Source, thank you to: https://zcomm.org – ZNet: A Community of People Committed to Social Change / Posted on February 16, 2015 / Comment: According to veteran journalist and documentary film producer John Pilger, Washington, “ruled by true extremists”, has a problem with Venezuela’s “threat of a good example”)

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Albert: Why would the U.S. want Venezuela’s government overthrown?

Pilger: There are straightforward principles and dynamics at work here. Washington wants to get rid of the Venezuelan government because it is independent of US designs for the region and because Venezuela has the greatest proven oil reserves in the world and uses its oil revenue to improve the quality of ordinary lives. Venezuela remains a source of inspiration for social reform in a continent ravaged by an historically rapacious U.S. An Oxfam report once famously described the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua as ‘the threat of a good example’. That has been true in Venezuela since Hugo Chavez won his first election. The ‘threat’ of Venezuela is greater, of course, because it is not tiny and weak; it is rich and influential and regarded as such by China. The remarkable change in fortunes for millions of people in Latin America is at the heart of U.S. hostility. The U.S. has been the undeclared enemy of social progress in Latin America for two centuries. It doesn’t matter who has been in the White House: Barack Obama or Teddy Roosevelt; the US will not tolerate countries with governments and cultures that put the needs of their own people first and refuse to promote or succumb to U.S. demands and pressures. A reformist social democracy with a capitalist base – such as Venezuela – is not excused by the rulers of the world. What is inexcusable is Venezuela’s political independence; only complete deference is acceptable. The ‘survival’ of Chavista Venezuela is a testament to the support of ordinary Venezuelans for their elected government – that was clear to me when I was last there.  Venezuela’s weakness is that the political ‘opposition’ — those I would call the ‘East Caracas Mob’ – represent powerful interests who have been allowed to retain critical economic power. Only when that power is diminished will Venezuela shake off the constant menace of foreign-backed, often criminal subversion. No society should have to deal with that, year in, year out.

2. What methods has the U.S. already used and would you anticipate their using to unseat the Bolivarians?

There are the usual crop of quislings and spies; they come and go with their media theatre of fake revelations, but the principal enemy is the media. You may recall the Venezuelan admiral who was one of the coup-plotters against Chavez in 2002, boasting during his brief tenure in power, ‘Our secret weapon was the media’. The Venezuelan media, especially television, were active participants in that coup, lying that supporters of the government were firing into a crowd of protestors from a bridge. False images and headlines went around the world. The New York Times joined in, welcoming the overthrow of a democratic ‘anti-American’ government; it usually does. Something similar happened in Caracas last year when vicious right-wing mobs were lauded as ‘peaceful protestors’ who were being ‘repressed’. This was undoubtedly the start of a Washington-backed ‘colour revolution’ openly backed by the likes of the National Endowment for Democracy – a user-friendly CIA clone. It was uncannily like the coup that Washington successfully staged in Ukraine last year.  As in Kiev, in Venezuela the ‘peaceful protestors’ set fire to government buildings and deployed snipers and were lauded by western politicians and the western media. The strategy is almost certainly to push the Maduro government to the right and so alienate its popular base. Depicting the government as dictatorial and incompetent has long been an article of bad faith among journalists and broadcasters in Venezuela and in the US, the UK and Europe. One recent US ‘story’ was that of a ‘US scientist jailed for trying to help Venezuela build bombs’. The implication was that Venezuela was harbouring ‘nuclear terrorists’. In fact, the disgruntled nuclear physicist had no connection whatsoever with Venezuela.

All this is reminiscent of the unrelenting attacks on Chávez, each with that peculiar malice reserved for dissenters from the west’s ‘one true way’. In 2006, Britain’s Channel 4 News effectively accused the Venezuelan president of plotting to make nuclear weapons with Iran, an absurd fantasy. The  Washington correspondent, Jonathan Rugman, sneered at policies to eradicate poverty and presented Chávez as a sinister buffoon, while allowing Donald Rumsfeld, a war criminal, to liken Chavez to Hitler, unchallenged. The BBC is no different. Researchers at the University of the West of England in the UK studied the BBC’s systematic bias in reporting Venezuela over a ten-year period. They looked at 304 BBC reports and found that only three of these referred to any of the positive policies of the government. For the BBC, Venezuela’s democratic initiatives, human rights legislation, food programmes, healthcare initiatives and poverty reduction programmes did not exist. Mission Robinson, the greatest literacy programme in human history, received barely a passing mention. This virulent censorship by omission complements outright fabrications such as accusations that the Venezuelan government are a bunch of drug-dealers.  None of this is new; look at the way Cuba has been misrepresented – and assaulted – over the years. Reporters Without Borders has just issued its worldwide ranking of nations based on their claims to a free press. The U.S. is ranked 49th, behind Malta, Niger, Burkino Faso and El Salvador.

3. Why might now be a prime time, internationally, for pushing toward a coup? If the primary problem is Venezuela being an example that could spread, is the emergence of a receptive audience for that example in Europe adding to the U.S. response?

It’s important to understand that Washington is ruled by true extremists, once known inside the Beltway as ‘the crazies’. This has been true since before 9/11. A few are outright fascists. Asserting US dominance is their undisguised game and, as the events in Ukraine demonstrate, they are prepared to risk a nuclear war with Russia. These people should be the common enemy of all sane human beings. In Venezuela, they want a coup so that they can roll-back of some of the world’s most important social reforms – such as in Bolivia and Ecuador. They’ve already crushed the hopes of ordinary people in Honduras. The current conspiracy between the US and Saudi Arabia to lower the price of oil is meant to achieve something more spectacular in Venezuela, and Russia.

4. What do you think the best approach might be to warding off U.S. machinations, and those of domestic Venezuelan elites as well, for the Bolivarians?

The majority people of Venezuela, and their government, need to tell the world the truth about the attacks on their country. There is a stirring across the world, and many people are listening. They don’t want perpetual instability, perpetual poverty, perpetual war, perpetual rule by the few. And they identify the principal enemy; look at the international polling surveys that ask which country presents the greatest danger to humanity. The majority of people overwhelmingly point to the U.S., and to its numerous campaigns of terror and subversion.

5. What do you think is the immediate responsibility of leftists outside Venezuela, and particularly in the U.S.?

That begs a question: who are these ‘leftists’? Are they the millions of liberal North Americans seduced by the specious rise of Obama and silenced by his criminalising of freedom of information and dissent? Are they those who believe what they are told by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the BBC? It’s an important question. ‘Leftist’ has never been a more disputed and misappropriated term. My sense is that people who live on the edge and struggle against US-backed forces in Latin America understood the true meaning of the word, just as they identify a common enemy.  If we share their principles, and a modicum of their courage, we should take direct action in our own countries, starting, I would suggest, with the propagandists in the media. Yes, it’s our responsibility, and it has never been more urgent.

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Ukraine: War Over Agribusiness, Land, GMOs?

(Source: http://www.oaklandinstitute.org / Cross-posted on February 16, 2015 / Comment: Anybody seen this absolutely relevant information reported on American mainstream media? More than 5,400 Ukrainians have perished. More than one million Ukrainians have become internally displaced or refugees)

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The New Conquistadors — Part 2: Ukraine

February 10, 2015
Source:
The Barricade

How International Corporations Are Taking Over Ukraine’s Agriculture

Context.

Ukraine has become a nation synonymous with the daily headlines. From the trail of western intervention and subversion that lead to a violent coup in 2013. To the devastating civil war that has torn the nation apart. These stories, as crucial as they are to investigate, have provided the perfect cover for international corporations to exploit Ukraine’s resources .

This exploitation accelerated when Ukraine declared its independence in 1992. From this period onward, Ukraine has experienced the colonization of its vastly important agricultural sector. International agribusiness and biotechnology firms have steadily been reforming Ukraine’s agricultural laws in order to eventually allow for an explosion in the production of genetically modified organisms.

Loopholes.

Recent efforts to speed up this annexation of Ukrainian agriculture have been documented by the Oakland Institute. Their fact-sheet on the Corporate Takeover of Ukrainian Agriculture shows how the law firm Frishberg and Partners found loopholes in a moratorium on Ukrainian agricultural land sales. The law firm suggested a two-pronged approach to circumventing this moratorium, which remains in force until January 1, 2016.

The first step is to lease Ukrainian land instead of purchasing it, a practive that basically provides ownership when combined with legal purchases of industrial spaces alongside the same land.

The second step to bypassing the moratorium is to buy large amounts of shares in leading Ukrainian agribusinesses and then change these companies from the inside out. This is a strategy that international agribusiness giants such as Cargill, Monsanto and Dupont have employed. In 2014 Cargill bought a five percent share in UkrLandFarming, the largest land ‘bank’ in Ukraine.

These loopholes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the multinational effort to subdue and mold a potentially lucrative agriculture market for maximum profit. While Ukraine currently enforces a ban on GMO products, it has become apparent that this is a temporary state of affairs. The stage was set for the impending removal of this ban when Ukraine and the EU signed an association agreement in 2014.

Clause 404.

Of particular interest in this association agreement is clause 404 which promotes “ the use of biotechnologies” in Ukrainian agriculture. Furthermore the clause states that Ukraine needs to facilitate “conditions for investment” as well as opening Ukraine’s agriculture to a “framework of international organisations”.

It becomes clear from requirements such as those listed in the association agreement that Ukraine is not being set up for economic prosperity and independence, but rather for multinational exploitation.

While these developments, it could be argued, are open to interpretation, as indeed multinational corporations would prefer Ukrainian farmers and the civilian population to believe. The links between government organisations and agribusiness corporations are clearer in their impications.

US-Ukraine Business Council.

The entry point into these connections can be found on the board of members of the US-Ukraine business council (USUBC). On the board of directors is plethora of multinational US business giants. Of particular interest to this report are the agribusiness board members. These include Monsanto, Cargill, Dupont and a less prominent organisation known as the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications(ISAAA). These organisations are at the forefront of introducing GMO products into a agricultural sector that they increasingly control. Also on the board of directors and working alongside with these corporations is the ubiquitous USaid, under the banner of the agroinvest program.

These companies and organisations have made their way into several key areas of Ukrainian agriculture, piecing together a multifaceted plan which will ultimately culminate in the implementation and monopoly of GMO products in Ukraine.

Business and Legislation.

MonstantoCargill and Dupont have all already invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the construction of seed processing plants in Ukraine. These companies have over the last twenty years established strong business foundation in within the country. These foundations have been laid so deep that international agribusiness companies can be found on the board of members of the national Ukrainian Seed Association. This association, which includes Monstanto and Dupont, aims to implement “new technologies” and “the best new varieties and hybrids in Ukraine”.

The Ukrainian Seed Association also seeks to “take active part in the development of legislation of Ukraine concerning the improvement of seed market”. What this shows is that multinational agribusiness giants have the ability to not only introduce their technologies into Ukraine, but actively seek to change Ukrainian legislation to benefit their implementation.

A likely result of this practice is evident in the 2012 repeal of compulsory GMO labelling in Ukraine. This was done only two years after the law was put into place. Coincidentally, Monsanto doubled its presence in Ukraine during the same year as the repeal.

The US Government’s Role in GMO colonialism.

Within this increasingly layered picture of corporate intervention into Ukraine’s agriculture can be found the key player in Ukraine’s current state of affairs. The US government, while telling the world it is simply brokering a transition in Ukraine, is in fact playing a central role shaping the nation’s economy. The aforementioned ISAAA which claims to be “a small, responsive, non-bureaucratic, international network”, is in fact sponsored directly by the US state department, department of Agriculture and USaid.The ISAAA is instrumental in organising the dissemination of biotechnology into “developing countries through public-private partnerships”.

Through the sponsoring of the ISAAA which sits on the US-Ukraine business council, and works to introduce GMO’s into Ukraine, the US government is directly facilitating the corporate takeover of Ukraine’s agriculture.

Ramifications.

The concerted campaign of these corporations, with the help of USaid and even direct US government assistance, is already paying dividends for the future profits of these companies. The Ukrainian Minister of Agricultural Policy and Food, Mykola Prysyazhnyuk, announced in 2013 that GMO feed trials for livestock had begun. The IMF loaned Ukraine 17 billion dollars, but with one of the terms being that Ukraine needs toeventually open itself to biotechnology and GMO products.

Ukraine is renown for its ‘black soil’, which is extremely fertile and high yielding. It has long been used by local farmers to supply much of Europe and the world with corn and wheat. For the immensely wealthy international corporations this is the chance to make more money, and with the current situation in Ukraine, it will be relatively easy to do so.

Once the biotechnology and GMO laws are altered it will be too late for small farms and businesses to compete on a local scale, let alone an international one.

While the tragedy of the potential ruination of Ukraine’s unique soils and environment is enough to warrant alarm. It is the fact that the benefits of this corporate invasion will only be shared by the companies themselves and the few oligarchs whose land they have purchased. Ukraine as a whole will receive little to no benefit in the long term. For a country ruined by a war with no end in sight as well as decades of corruption, this spells disaster on a grand scale.

Ukraine is in dire need of less foreign-led ‘rebuilding’. The idea that Ukraine needed to choose an US-EU led intervention, is what has led to much of the chaos. On top of the conflict this has caused, it has led the way for companies like Monsanto, Dupont and Cargill to take  full advantage of this instability.

Unless more light is shed on the domination of struggling nations by international corporations, this trend will continue. The eventual costs of biotechnology and the potential health detriments will lead to Ukraine remaining unable to recover. It will instead continue to be used as a colonial business outpost for the many companies and governments seeking to exploit its natural resources.

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