Category Archives: World

Legitimizing Terrorists, BBC Style

This morning, I sat dumbfounded as a I listened to Nick Robinson interview Otto Reich.  For those who are unfamiliar with his name, Reich is an anti-Castro Cuban and former US ambassador to Venezuela, but more about that later.  At no point during the interview did Robinson mention his role in destabilizing governments or harbouring and funding  state-sponsored terrorists like Orlando Bosch or Luis Posada Carilles.  Instead, listeners were left with the impression that Reich was just another anti-Castro Cuban railing against the ‘tyrannical rule’ of Fidel Castro.

“I’m very proud of what the United States has done in Latin America”, Reich told Robinson without a shred of shame.  From the funding of the Nicaraguan Contras to the 1976 shooting down  of Cubana de Aviación Flight 455, Reich was behind the scenes pulling the strings in his role in the Orwellian-sounding Office of Public Diplomacy. When George W Bush became US President in 2000, he rewarded Reich by appointing him as Under Secretary of State. He had previously worked for Bush’s father during his presidency.

This article written by Duncan Campbell, appeared in The Guardian in 2002 and is worth reading. For not only did Reich pull strings, his dirty fingerprints are all over some of the most violent acts in Latin America, including the 2009 Honduran coup d’etat that overthrew the democratically elected government.

According to Counterpunch, he “dedicated himself to the release of Orlando Bosch”, the man who is thought to be responsible for shooting down Flight 455.  Reich’s role in the Venezuelan coup in 2002 was to generate and disseminate anti-Chavez propaganda and disinformation.

Jean-Guy Allard of Counterpunch reported:

On February 7, Colonel Pedro Soto, former aide to Carlos Andres Perez (president at the time of the 1992 coup led by Chavez), affirming that he represented “75% of the armed forces,” publicly attacked the Chavez government. (Invited by an international institute, a CIA client, Soto then visited Washington and Miami, where he was to be found on April 11, loudly celebrating the “return to democracy,” along with Cuban-American terrorist leaders).

Thus a rapidly and steadily more brazen deception campaign was mounted, rapidly joined by the Venezuelan private press, which ended up running a grossly hostile campaign against the government. El Universal daily and Radio Caracas Television, Globovision and Venevision TV networks were already actively preparing the media-military coup, channeling information and systematically harassing the constitutional government and the head of state.

During the coup, the same disinformation gang cut off the broadcast the president’s speech to the people and repeated lie after lie, unleashing violent incidents that would subsequently serve to justify the subversive operation. Meanwhile, the representatives of the new “order” were destroying state television program material.

Then the communications junta shamelessly spread the false information that Chavez had resigned, silenced all public pronouncements by members of the government, and the played up declarations in favor of the criminal coup. One of these was made by Ambassador Shapiro, who affirmed that April 11 was an extraordinary day in the history of Venezuela.

In the morning of Saturday, April 13, speaking before more than 30,000 people at rally in the municipality of Guira de Melena, Habana province, in the presence of President Fidel Castro, Bruno Rodriguez, Cuban ambassador to the United Nations, clearly denounced the media disinformation campaign in Venezuela. “The truth is that a coup d’etat has taken place in Venezuela and that a sellout and . junta is usurping, by means of force, the power invested in President Chavez by the Venezuelan people, with hopes of erasing decades of injustice and corruption by applying Bolivar’s ideals.”

Other lies followed the one alleging Chavez’s resignation, including the assertion that Chavez had sought asylum in Cuba, which was rapidly refuted by Havana.

Indeed, the media complicity with the coup organizers was so strong that when the latter attempted to take the imprisoned president out of the country to the United States, it was planned to transport him aboard a private plane registered in the United States in the name of Gustavo Cisneros, the owner of the Venevision TV network.

Meanwhile, CNN en Espanol linked up with Globovision to finally announce the taking of Miraflores Palace by the people and the presidential guard of honor… five hours after it happened.

Lies, deception, violence, terror: everything smacks of Otto Reich in this failed coup. Even that hysterical rabble of Cuban-Venezuelan emigres that surrounded the Cuban embassy in Caracas for a number of hours, destroying cars and threatening to enter by force – before fleeing when the Bolivarian leader’s return was announced.

Since the death of Fidel Castro, the British mass media has been circling around Cuba like vultures and offering highly-slanted reportage on the 9 days of mourning. The not so hidden discourse of the media expresses the hope that the US will  force the Cuban people to accept American-style freedom. Let’s hope that never happens.

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean, Cuba, World

Fidel Castro: Some Perspective

fidel-castro

So Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90 and while tributes are being paid to him by many on the Left, the capitalist media has gone full throttle with its “He was a brutal dictator, who repressed his people” schtick.  It was inevitable. The commentators on the Right on both sides of the Atlantic will wilfully overlook the many brutal dictators their countries supported to advance a particularly weak argument about ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’. If we take Cuba’s neighbour, Haiti, we can see that for the much of the 20th century, the United States has interfered in the country since the end of its occupation (1915 – 1934).  Later, the bloodthirsty Duvalier family was kept in power with the United States’ connivance since the 1950s until Jean Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier was deposed in a popular uprising in 1986.  Even today, the US continues to interfere in that country and its people continue to suffer high levels of poverty, infant mortality and illiteracy.

In the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean, the United States propped up a series of dictators, most notably Augusto Pinochet and the Somoza family of Nicaragua.  The US invaded and occupied Nicaragua in 1909 and installed the Somoza dynasty, which it kept in power until the Sandinista Revolution of 1979.  Even then, the US supported an insurgency campaign led by the so-called Contras, who were funded with money from the sales of arms to Iran, a country that the US was ostensibly hostile towards. In Chile, Pinochet was assisted by the CIA’s efforts to destabilize the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. Thousands perished or were ‘disappeared’ at the hands of the DINA, Pinochet’s secret police. Today, that country continues to feel the effects of the Pinochet era, particularly in the fields of education and public services.

In Guatemala and Honduras, two countries in which most of the land was owned by the United Fruit Company, workers were repressed and their governments were puppet regimes that were installed at the behest of the company.  In 1954, for example, the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman was brutally overthrown in a CIA supported coup that was led by Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas.  We should also recall that Eisenhower’s CIA director, John Foster Dulles and his brother, Allen, had once been on United Fruit’s payroll in one form or another.

This morning on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, they presented a predictable one-sided narrative of Fidel and Cuba. Invariably the Cuban Missile Crisis was brought up but not the actual cause. Instead, listeners were simply told that Castro had allowed Soviet missiles on Cuban soil and how these missiles were only a mere “60 miles from the United States”. The BBC News Channel later repeated the same narrative. What the BBC failed to mention is that the US had sited missiles on Turkish soil years before the USSR began building missile silos on Cuba. So much for facts, eh?

Perhaps the most bizarre moment on the Today programme was when Mishal Husain suggested to Ken Livingstone (via a question) that  it was better to live in a supposedly democratic country with poor rates of literacy than in Castro’s Cuba where literacy rates are high.

In Africa, it was Castro’s intervention that stopped the advance of CIA backed thugs of UNITA, who were supported by Britain, South Africa and the US, who sought to extend Western hegemony on the continent. Castro also opposed the apartheid regime of South Africa, while Thatcher and Reagan provided it with unqualified support.

As for repression, it is worth remembering that during the 1950s, 60s and the early part of the 1970s, African-American voters were prevented from exercising their democratic rights in the US Deep South. The Black Panthers and other groups were routinely harassed by COINTELPRO and many were imprisoned on trumped up charges.

Yes, there are human rights abuses taking place on Cuban soil… in a place called Guantanamo Bay, which is run by the US military.

Fidel Castro wasn’t perfect but he was, by no means, the world’s worst dictator.

Viva la revolucion! Viva Cuba!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuba, World

No Compassion For Refugees Please, We’re British

“Charity begins at home” at least this is what Britain’s “no refugees here” types have been saying on comments threads on The Guardian and Independent websites. Ironically (or perhaps not), these are the very same people who would not only claim that “people are receiving to much in social security payments”, they would also tell you that the existence of foodbanks proves there is a “food shortage” in this country. Logic? It was never there in the first place.

Many people like to think of The Guardian and The Independent as liberal newspapers with socially liberal readerships. In the case of The Indy, this notion was blown out of the water by the paper’s support for the Tories at the last election and in the case of The Graun, there has been a steady rightward drift in its editorial orientation for years. Sadly, however, the change in direction for these papers has also attracted legions of right-wing racists and keyboard warriors, all of whom have been drawn to the stories of what is now being called the “Refugee Crisis” (formerly the “Migrant Crisis”), a crisis that was entirely created by the actions of the so-called West.

Yet the idea that there is a cause behind the Refugee Crisis is barely mentioned by the tabloid hacks and their pals in Parliament. Instead, in the mind of the knuckledragger, these people are coming here variously for “economic reasons” or the “presence of McDonalds and KFC”, or some such nonsense, and not because they are fleeing the conflicts and tyrannies that the West has created and sustained for decades. Causality, as far as these people are concerned, is a hospital drama on BBC1.

Readers, I have been disgusted by the lack of compassion shown by these keyboard warriors and slackwits but I have been even more disgusted by The Indy’s and The Graun’s tolerance of the vile hatred that’s being openly expressed on its comments threads. If I want to read that kind of shite, I can always go to St*rmfr*nt. Dig?

I always remember reading about this country’s hostile reaction towards the thousands of Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s. This article by Anne Karpf from 2002 – in The Guardian – recalls that those years.

The parallels between past and present are striking. Just as the majority of Jewish refugees were admitted less for compassionate reasons than to meet the shortage of domestic servants, so today’s refugees tend to do the low-paid catering and cleaning jobs spurned by the native British. And just as in spring 1940, when German Jews were interned on the Isle of Man, British newspapers blurred the distinctions between refugee, alien and enemy, so today, according to Alasdair Mackenzie, coordinator of Asylum Aid, “There’s general confusion in many newspapers between an asylum seeker and someone from abroad – everyone gets tarred with the same brush.”

Hostility towards the refugees was stirred up by the virulently anti-immigration rag The Daily (Hate) Mail. Many people internalised its xenophobic and anti-Semitic messages and demanded the government refuse to land any refugees. Déjà Vu? Malheureusement, oui.

The comment below appeared on this Guardian article by the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas. Her name, alone, is enough the get hordes of slavering knuckledraggers thumping their chests and declaring themselves the defenders of “common sense”.

307308

Britons would probably be far more receptive to the idea of allowing many more refugees into Britain had the country not experience almost two decades of mass immigration in which over five million people had entered Britain.

Here, we have a comment in which the views expressed are little different to those expressed by UKIP’ Nigel Farage (or that Nuttall wanker) on a weekly basis. Although it avoids offensive language and isn’t obvious in its racism, its premise is based on the notion that there has been an “invasion”. Yet, this commenter offers no proof for the numbers they’re using; they are seemingly axiomatic.

On the other hand, this commenter doesn’t disguise his hatred. This is what passes for wit.

2930

So it turns out now that the guy who recklessly ended up drowning his wife and children had turned down asylum.

Oh.

Sickening.

The government’s response to the crisis has been characteristically Tory: blame “people smugglers” and keep repeating the word “criminals”. It’s as if the refugees themselves have become secondary to the need to punish “those responsible for the trafficking”. In April, in response to refugees drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, Michael ‘Polly’ Portillo, the son of a Spanish republican refugee who fled Franco’s dictatorship, said they should be “sent back where they came from” – and should be “dumped on a Libyan beach”. And you thought he’d been rehabilitated? No way, he’s the same as he ever was.

This nation has been governed by bullies for centuries and people have internalised the bullying to such an extent that they, themselves, have become bullies. This is evident from the lack of compassion shown to refugees. The idea that “charity begins at home” is noble one but one which is now being used dishonestly to bolster the fash’s absurd claim that this country is “full up”.

A few days ago, Cameron appeared on television to give an account of his sluggish response to the crisis. He told the reporter with a straight face that the solution is to “bring peace in Middle East”. But that’s after he’s bombed it back to the Stone Age first.

7 Comments

Filed under Africa, Eritrea, immigration, Journalism, Libya, Media, Middle East, News/Current Affairs, propaganda, racism, Society & culture, Sudan, Syria, World

Oil and gas found off The Falklands

British Forces News (BFN) claims that drilling companies have discovered oil off the coast of the Falkland Islands. Thus far, The Daily Telegraph is the only other news outlet that has this story and it seems a little odd that not even the BBC has mentioned it.

BFN reports:

Falkland Oil and Gas Ltd and Premier Oil Plc say the discovery at the Zebedee well was better than initially expected. The well will now however be plugged and temporarily abandoned.

So what’s going on? Why are they plugging the well? Don’t get me wrong, but I think oil should stay in the ground where it belongs. But why keep this quiet?

5 Comments

Filed under World

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Caliph? Not Me.

Today, the mainstream news media is beside itself with the revelation that ISIS (a western media construction) has declared a caliphate in the territory they hold in Iraq. So what?

For ages I’ve read right-wing commentaries that concern themselves with the possible declaration of a caliphate. In all cases, the commentaries have been melodramatic to the point of hysteria. The ever-paranoid Daniel Pipes claims it’s “what the terrorists want”. Really? How does he know that? He doesn’t. Yet, Andrew Gilligan regards Pipes as some kind of authority. The fool.

The Roman Catholic church has a pope and an entire city-state.

The Greek and Eastern Orthodox churches have their patriarchs. The Greek Orthodox Patriarch is still called “The Patriarch of Constantinople”, even though the name of the city was changed to Istanbul many years ago.

So what’s the big deal?

The neo-cons and their friends would have us all believe that the declaration of a caliphate is something non-Muslims should fear. Yet, the Ottoman Empire declared itself a caliphate with the Ottoman Sultan as its caliph. The Ottomans were Sunni Muslims, which meant that Shia Muslims rejected the caliphate. Many countries with large Muslim populations, like Malaysia and Indonesia, didn’t recognise the Ottoman Empire’s claim. Interestingly, the West never got into a lather about the Ottoman Caliphate, it was accepted without question or anxiety. Britain and France actually fought on behalf of the fatally weakened Ottoman Empire during the Crimean War to prevent the Russian Empire from seizing territories that had flaked off the larger empire. In fact Britain took advantage of the Ottoman Empire’s weakness and cut deals with the Emir of Kuwait in the 1890s.

So who’s afraid of the big bad caliph? Not me.

15 Comments

Filed under Iraq, Middle East, World

The ANC were terrorists? So was the apartheid state

It’s easy for Nelson Mandela’s detractors to claim he was a ‘terrorist’.  Yes, the African National Congress formed a military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961 and yes, they sabotaged infrastructure and they killed people.  But what about the National Party regime?

We should remember that MK was formed as a response to the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, in which 69 people were killed. In Soweto in 1976, an estimated 700 people – many of them children – were murdered by heavily-armed South African police during what became known as the Soweto uprising.

This is not a competition, but the deaths that resulted from MK actions were substantially fewer in number than those caused by the actions of the murderous racist state, which had access to greater firepower and better armour. It was also supported in spirit by Thatcher and Reagan, who believed the country was acting as a bulwark against Communist incursions on the African continent. It was the ‘Domino Theory’, you see.

I saw an interview on Channel 4 News with Charles Powell (pronounced ‘pole’), Thatcher’s private secretary, who said something along the lines of “She (Thatcher) didn’t get along with the Africans”. Says it all really.

So when someone tells you Madiba was a terrorist, you ask them ‘who was the bigger bully’? Then watch as they squirm and clutch at straws.

Amandla Awethu!

Comments Off on The ANC were terrorists? So was the apartheid state

Filed under World

Saturday’s anti-war demo

31 Aug 2013 Anti war demo

In the days leading to the anti-war demonstration on Saturday and immediately after the Commons vote, which saw the government defeated, we have been treated to a deluge of macho language from politicians and right-wing hacks alike. As most readers will know that at times like this, I am fond of quoting Gil Scott-Heron’s powerful poem, B-Movie:

Clichés like, “itchy trigger finger” and “tall in the saddle” and “riding off or on into the sunset.” Clichés like, “Get off of my planet by sundown!” More so than clichés like, “he died with his boots on.” Marine tough the man is. Bogart tough the man is. Cagney tough the man is. Hollywood tough the man is. Cheap steak tough. And Bonzo’s substantial. The ultimate in synthetic selling: A Madison Avenue masterpiece – a miracle – a cotton-candy politician …Presto! Macho!

As you many of you already know, B-Movie was written about Ronald Reagan, the macho president of the United States, who borrowed themes from his filmography to impress the gullible public of the need to do this or that thing. Again, we have politicians and their friends in the media using the most extraordinary macho language. I kept hearing words like “diminished on the world stage”, which almost suggests a form of emasculation. Then there is the phrase “standing tall”, which conjures up an image of a Wild West gunslinger. But if the dominant ideologues are that worried about their big tough image, then perhaps they need to spend some time on a psychoanalyst’s couch rather than pursuing unnecessary wars that have the fig leaf of legitimacy that is conferred upon them by the laughable phrase, ‘International Law’. “But look” they’ll say, “there’s a ban on the use of chemical weapons”. This generally overlooks the US and Israel’s recent use of white phosphorus and the American’s use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Where’s the irony?

And so, on Saturday, I went to the anti-war demonstration organized by CND and the Stop the War Coalition. I wasn’t expecting much. In fact, I wasn’t expecting a massive turnout for this hastily convened march and rally.

I arrived in time to join the head of the march on Victoria Embankment. The march snakes its way towards Westminster Bridge, where I can see dozens of gawping tourists,with their cameras at the ready to take snaps of us as we march by. I pass, what I believe to be a small group of German tourists, one of whom remarks “I think they are marching against all wars”. His tone is half-mocking. Only morons are in favour of wars, mein freund.

We’re on Whitehall and we pause briefly outside the gates of Downing Street… on the opposite side of the road. We’re not allowed anywhere near Dippy Dave’s London residence and besides, he’s apparently holding a barbecue for his MPs at Chequers, which is designed to do two things: admonish those who voted against the government and reward those who voted the correct way.

As I said, this is a small march of perhaps around 1,000 or so people. Still, it isn’t that bad a turn-out for a quickly arranged demo. I can see bourgeois SWP splitters and café owners, Counterfire, posing in their designer clothes and mingling with the less bourgeois marchers.

It’s unlikely that this march will attract any attention from the BBC, which has been quick to march in lockstep with the government, the intelligence services and the Military-Industrial complex. In the media, anti-war voices are rare, while pro-war macho voices are ten a penny.

We arrive at Trafalgar Square and I can see a small number of Guy Fawkes masks… they’re so passé. The compères for the afternoon are Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn and Kate Hudson of CND and Left Unity. The first speaker is Counterfire’s  Lindsey German, whom Corbyn introduces as a “brilliant advocate for peace”. Her speech is an uninspiring tickbox list.  She says “UKIP are not welcome on this march” but to be honest, I don’t think I’ve seen any UKIP members. I have seen a couple of conspiracy theory types, both of whom were carrying placards with the words “9/11 was an inside job”. Given their love of conspiracy theories, perhaps they’re Kippers?

Andrew Murray is up next. He is animated and his speech is passionate. He’s certainly more interesting than Lindsey German and the best speaker of the afternoon. But as I look around the square, I am struck by the absence of anything cultural. Where is the street theatre? The sound systems? The scratch bands? I’ve heard no dubstep since I’ve been here. It’s weird.

Natalie Bennett follows Murray and while she makes some good points, she is a terrible orator. Someone with a great deal of experience of this kind of thing is Tariq Ali, who seems to be a professional protester. These days, he hasn’t got much to say that I haven’t already heard. Someone from the back heckles him with a loud hailer. I turn around and I recognise the heckler. I used to work with this guy!  He’s immediately surrounded by more serious types who like their speeches formulaic and unchallenged. “Listen to what they’re doing to your mind”, he protests. I’m not sure what he means. Perhaps he’s suggesting that these people mould one’s thoughts. If so, then he’s mistaken. I can think for myself, thanks.

Tony Benn comes on and he looks and sounds frail. I have trouble hearing what he’s saying. He was a pretty bad cough too. Usually, you can rely on Benn to put in a rousing performance but I think those days are behind him now.

A poet arrives on the platform. Wow. Culture. But it’s brief. We need more of this kind of thing. I decide to leave when the President of ULU rocks up. he’s pretty dull, probably not used to public speaking or has taken his oratory cues from Britain’s current crop of politicians.

When I get home, there’s no mention of the demo on the BBC News Channel (I didn’t expect it to be honest), Sky News or ITN News. The only mainstream media report of this demo can be found on the Evening Standard’s website.

PS. I’d actually taken a quite a few photos on my BlackBerry but it has deleted all of them without asking me. The photo at the top of this blog was sent to Facebook before my phone had a chance to delete anything. The phone will go back to the shop for the third time this year. I really should have taken a proper camera instead.

Leave a comment

Filed under Middle East, Syria, World