Filed under: February Volume I- 2009, Latino/Caribe | Tags: Gaza, Venezuela
A strong message of condemnation for Israel’s military aggression came as Israel’s ambassador to Venezuela was expelled along with some embassy staff. In a statement issued by Venezuela’s foreign ministry, Israel was accused of violating international law and of having planned to use state terrorism against the Palestinian population. Miami Herald reported from Adrian Bonilla, director of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Ecuador, “There is a tradition in Latin America of rejecting violence to solve any international conflict.”
Ambassador Schlomo Cohen left the country on Friday, January 9th after having called the expulsion “the most difficult moment in the more than 50-year history of relations between Venezuela and Israel.” President Chavez, contrastingly, called it a “gesture of dignity”, thereby sending a message to the world that military actions which resulted in hundreds of Palestinian civilian deaths were unacceptable. On state television, Chavez asked “How far will the barbarism go?”
Also unacceptable, as stated by UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, were Israeli attacks on UN schools which killed 46 civilians and injured at least 150, at the time of this report. In a public statement, he said, “These attacks by Israeli military forces which endanger facilities acting as places of refuge are totally unacceptable and must not be repeated” and that “a substantial number of civilians have been killed.” The statement also pointed out that “The locations of all UN facilities have been communicated to the Israeli authorities and are known to the Israeli army.” The clearly marked UN facilities were serving as safe havens for civilians seeking refuge from the violence in Gaza, according to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) director, John Ging. The shelling was reported in The Jerusalem Post to be in response to Hamas Gunmen who used the complex to fire on Israeli targets. Although, the UN agency insisted that there were no Hamas gunmen on the school grounds, only civilians seeking refuge.
Despite this, Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Captain Ishai David denied that the incident was caused by erroneous Israeli shelling. David said, “We are still sticking by our official position that according to our initial inquiry, the whole thing started when terrorists fired mortar shells from the school compound”.
UN spokesman Christopher Gunness asserted that the Israeli army admitted in private briefings that militant fire came, not from the school, but from somewhere outside of the school compound. This and other incidents caused civilian deaths and gruesome injuries including, numerous amputations. These have been the cause of international outrage echoed throughout Latin America.
Protests have taken place throughout the world, in Argentina, Bolivia, and El Salvador. In Chile, President Michelle Bachelet called for a stop of actions from both sides, while the Chilean foreign ministry strongly condemned Israeli raids on Gaza. The governments of Guatemala and Colombia also called on Israel to end fighting. Brazil’s foreign policy advisor, Marco Aurelio Garcia, described the attacks as “state terrorism”, while Foreign Minister Celso Amorim called Israeli military action a “disproportional” answer to Hamas rocket attacks. At the time of the statements’ publishing, Ten Israelis were reported to have died compared to over 1000 Palestinians killed and over 3000 injured. Brazil subsequently sent 14 tons of food and medical aid, its Foreign ministry said.
Filed under: December Volume 1 - 2008, Latino/Caribe | Tags: Chavez, Venezuela
The strategies adopted by the Bolivarian government, in the last ten years, protect Venezuela, at the moment, from the world-wide financial crisis that has untied the United States and Europe.
Among Venezuela’s main strategies has been the consolidation of strategic alliances with Brazil, Russia, India and China, from which arose a common fund between China and Venezuela, valued at USD 6 billion, for projects aimed at reducing Venezuela’s dependence on oil exports.
The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a monthly report, however, advising Venezuelan economic authorities to revise government spending in 2009, as the 2008 budget was based on a much higher oil revenue than what is projected for next year with the rapid fall in oil prices.
Venezuela has, however, diversified its hydrocarbon exports to direct them to countries other than the United States, through initiatives like Petrocaribe and agreements with GAZ-PROM and Lukoil, of Russia.
Since a 2003, the adoption of changes to the Commission of Currency Administration (Cadivi), have preserved the value of the bolivar, avoiding speculative attacks to the currency, by assigning the currencies to the productive and high-priority sectors for the unfolding of the country and making optimal use of the savings of all Venezuelans.
The state has also been fortified with action of a different nature. In fiscal matters, the modernization of the customs system and the implementation of plans against duty evasion and contraband has improved collection of funds, which has allowed the treasury a further reduction in its dependency on oil exports.
The executive branch also took the decision, in 2005, to transfer most of its international reserves to the Bank of International Payments of Basel, Switzerland, having already feared the danger represented by depositing them in American institutions.
Thanks to these, and other, measures, the financial system of the country is good. -ABN
Se Considera la Economía Venezolana Buena
Las estrategias adoptadas por el Gobierno Bolivariano, en los últimos diez años, protegen actualmente a Venezuela de la crisis financiera mundial que ha desatado el modelo capitalista desde Estados Unidos y Europa.
Entre las principales acciones está la consolidación de alianzas estratégicas con Brasil, Rusia, India y China, unión de la que surgió el Fondo Pesado Estratégico China-Venezuela, conformado inicialmente con 6 mil millones de dólares en 2007. Además, el país ha diversificado sus exportaciones de hidrocarburos para dirigirlas hacia destinos distintos a los Estados Unidos, a través de iniciativas como Petrocaribe y acuerdos con GAZ-PROM y Lukoil, de Rusia.
La adopción de un control de cambios en 2003 así como el nacimiento de la Comisión de Administración de Divisas (Cadivi), han preservado el valor del bolívar, evitando ataques especulativos a la moneda, asignando las divisas a los sectores productivos y prioritarios para el desenvolvimiento del país y haciendo un uso óptimo del ahorro de todos los venezolanos.
El Estado se ha fortalecido con acciones de diferente índole. En materia fiscal está la modernización del sistema aduanero y la implementación de planes contra la evasión y el contrabando, dirigidos a crear una cultura tributaria y a mejorar la recaudación, lo que ha permitido que el Fisco reduzca cada vez más su dependencia de las exportaciones petroleras.
Del mismo modo, ha sido positiva la decisión del Ejecutivo de trasladar, en 2005, la mayor parte de sus reservas internacionales al Banco de Pagos Internacionales de Basilea, Suiza, por el peligro que representaba tenerlas depositadas en instituciones estadounidenses.
Asimismo, se estableció un nivel óptimo de Reservas Internacionales, con el propósito de destinar las excedentarias a la inversión social y productiva. De esta manera nace el Fondo de Desarrollo Nacional (Fonden), esquema destinado al fortalecimiento de la economía.
Un exitoso manejo de pasivos, como lo demuestra el retiro de bonos Brady con vencimientos a corto plazo; el desarrollo, en 2003, de una curva soberana de rendimiento; y la honra, en 2007, de los compromisos con el Fondo Monetario Internacional y el Banco Mundial, junto a las medidas arriba mencionadas, permiten que hoy Venezuela pueda sentirse segura de los embates que sufre el capitalismo mundial con esta crisis financiera de inestimables consecuencias.
Filed under: Latino/Caribe, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008, World | Tags: Cuba, Iran-Contra, Terrorism, Venezuela
A three-member panel of judges of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals of the US District of Western Texas is hearing an appeal by the United States (as Plaintiff) related to the dismissal of an indictment lodged against Luis Posada Carriles on charges that false statements were used in the course of an interview conducted during his naturalization proceedings. Carriles, a notorious operative once on the CIA payroll, and who has allegedly been named as the mastermind behind the bombing of a Cuban airliner in which 73 people were killed, was described by Peter Kornbluh , then Senior Analyst of the National Security Archive, during a 2007 hearing before The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, as “one of the top ten most prolific purveyors of political violence in contemporary history.”
The District Court charged initially that the government had “engaged in deceptive conduct and outrageous tactics” during the naturalization proceedings; the court also had “the suppression of statements” made by Carriles that were subject to “incompetent translation” , apparently to expedite the acquisition of US citizenship for Carriles, who now resides in Florida.
The decision of the Court has effectively reversed the dismissal of the indictment, and demands that the suppressed statements from Posada’s naturalization interview be submitted before the Court, reopening the case for further litigation.
The protracted record of Posada’s covert political involvements precedes his culminating effort to become a U.S. citizen by two decades. Carriles was born in Cuba, and was opposed to the domination of his native country by Fidel and Raul Castro. The appellate court brief elaborates the scenario:
“In 1961, Posada became involved with the planning for the Bay of Pigs invasion and was brought into contact with the CIA. He later enlisted in the United States Army, was commissioned a second lieutenant, and received special training at Fort Benning with other former members of the 2506th Cuban Brigade who had been commissioned in the United States Armed Forces.
“Posada was honorably discharged from the Army in March 1964. Unclassified documents contained in the record indicate that from 1965 until 1974 he operated as a paid CIA asset, although Posada asserts that he maintained a relationship with the CIA well into the 1980’s. Posada went to work for the Venezuelan secret police in 1967 and eventually became the head of a security division in charge of surveillance, VIP protection, weapons, and explosives.
“In this capacity, he directed counterinsurgency operations against leftist guerillas supported by Castro. Posada was later arrested by Venezuelan authorities in connection with the 1976 bombing of a Cubana Aerolineas aircraft in which all 73 people aboard were killed. After several years, he escaped from prison while still awaiting trial. Venezuela still seeks extradition; Posada, for his part, denies any involvement and claims that the charges were orchestrated by Castro.
“After his escape from a Venezuelan prison, Posada made his way to El Salvador. There he became involved in supplying arms and materiel to aid the U.S.-backed Contras fighting against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, an operation that came to light as part of the Iran-Contra affair. Posada moved to Guatemala in 1989 and was employed in security by the state telephone company. In 1990, he was shot several times in the face and torso during an assassination attempt allegedly carried out by Cuban agents. Throughout the 1990’s he lived under assumed names in various Central American countries. When a series of hotel and tourist-site bombings occurred in Havana in 1997, Posada was suspected of involvement.
“The following year, he was the subject of two front-page articles in the New York Times in which he claimed a coordinating role in planning and executing the bombings. Posada later asserted, however, that his statements had been misunderstood and distorted by the reporter who interviewed him. In 2000, Posada was arrested in Panama in connection with an attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro at a summit meeting in that country. He was detained for several years and ultimately convicted of crimes against national security (a Panamanian offense related to the manufacture or acquisition of bomb-making materials1) and counterfeiting public records.”
Having been pardoned by the president of Panama before he left office in 2004, Posada sought legal asylum in the United States. Despite his illegal entry, he arranged an interview for that purpose, but on the day of the interview withdrew his asylum petition and instead held a press conference in Miami announcing his “presence.” As the brief continues, “Immigration officials took Posada into custody later that afternoon, and a few days later, on May 21, 2005, he submitted to an interview. Posada was ultimately placed in removal proceedings and, on September 27, 2005, ordered removed “to any country, other than Cuba and Venezuela, willing to accept him.”
From this point, Posada remained detained in an immigration-law equivalent of limbo. On October 12, 2005, Posada filed an application for naturalization with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). This application and the related naturalization proceedings ultimately formed the basis for Posada’s indictment on false statement charges.
The Appellate Court finds serious issue with the fact that in the course of the overview of Posada’s past (normally, the previous five years of activity are investigated in evaluating a naturalization applicant’s character record), Posada’s violent political activities were conveniently overlooked. It asserts that, indeed, an applicant’s history must be viewed beyond the statutory period in order to make an accurate judgement, especially for a person known to have a less-than-pristine past, and that this extended overview is necessary and within the interpretation of the law.
The case has subsequently been sent back, or remanded, to a lower court for re-litigation of the initial indictment, and possible deportation of Carriles.
-Raheemah Atif contributed to this report
Filed under: July Volume I- 2008, Latino/Caribe, Politics | Tags: Chavez, farc, Venezuela
The Associated Press recently corrected an article which claimed that Chavez “urged world leaders to back the [FARC] armed struggle”. The correction mentions that the day after calling the FARC an “army” back in January, the Venezuelan president said, “I don’t agree with the armed struggle,” and called for a political resolution.
Colombia announced last month the opening of an international investigation based on computer files allegedly belonging to former FARC negotiator Raul Reyes.
The investigation will probe contacts between the leftist FARC rebels and prominent politicians, journalists and foreigners, including a U.S. consultant, the AP reported. The prosecutor, Mario Iguaran, also asked the Colombian Supreme Court to look into three opposition lawmakers including Senator Piedad Cordoba, who helped Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez broker the release of six rebel hostages earlier this year.
The foreigners placed under investigation include two Ecuadoreans, a Venezuelan and an American alternative development expert James C. Jones, who has been working with Democrats in the U.S. Congress.
Venezuela Analysis reported on June 12, however, that representatives of the International Police Organization (Interpol) told Ecuadorian Presidential Adviser Fernando Bustamante, in a meeting, that its investigation of the laptop computers which Colombia claims belonged to the FARC “does not determine if the computers provided were found in the guerrilla camp of the FARC during the incursion on March 1st; [nor] if they effectively belonged to Raúl Reyes, and even less so their contents,” according to a recent missive released by the Ecuadorian Foreign Relations Ministry.
Senator Cordoba told students in the western city of Cali that the investigation amounted to “an attack on reason.”
She said she’s been working for a prisoner swap “because I have a mandate from the families.” Cordoba’s close ties to Venezuelan President Chavez and her appearance in group photos with FARC leaders have upset conservative Colombians who overwhelmingly back Uribe’s efforts to defeat the FARC militarily with billions of dollars in U.S. aid, said the AP.
The other two Colombian lawmakers under investigation are Sen. Gloria Ines Ramirez and Rep. Wilson Borja, a former union leader who survived a 2000 assassination attempt by a right-wing death squad.
Cordoba is also a survivor of 2 assasination attempts, was kidnapped in 1999 by the AUC paramilitary group, and recently held up by immigration on a flight to NYC.
The Venezuelan placed under investigation is also a Chavez ally.
After the announcement of the investigation, the non-government organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) requested that the Venezuelan government “provide a full accounting of its relationship” with the FARC. Venezuela’s Ambassador to the OAS responded to the request by saying that HRW is joining with forces that want to oust President Chavez, Venezuela Analysis reported. HRW urged President Hugo Chávez to officially ban support for the FARC, and asked the Organization of American States (OAS) to investigate Venezuela’s relationship with the Colombian insurgents. The group also criticized Chávez for expressing sympathy for the FARC and for advocating that the FARC be treated as a political rather than a terrorist organization to help facilitate negotiations.
HRW has not had direct access to the computer files, according to the organization’s press release. Requests for access to these files, even by the Colombian Supreme Court, have so far gone unheeded by the Colombian and U.S. governments, in whose custody the files remain.
In the fallout of the March smart bomb which killed Raul Reyes, but left his computer intact to the point of retrieving valuable information, authorities of eleven countries have also requested from the Colombian government the computer files on Reyes’ computer after it was alleged that it also contained communications with people living in those countries. The countries mentioned by Universal News included: Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico, Venezuela and Spain.
Jose Miguel Vivanco of HRW judged that “for any government to support a guerrilla group like the FARC that routinely commits atrocities against civilians is entirely beyond the pale.” He specifically referred to Chávez’s pronouncements in January 2008 that the FARC have “a political and Bolivarian project that is respected here [in Venezuela],” and Chávez’s call for a moment of silence to observe the death of Raul Reyes in March.
President Hugo Chavez subsequently denounced the FARC’s tactics. “The guerrilla war is history,” he said. “At this moment in Latin America, an armed guerrilla movement is out of place.” In his weekly Sunday television and radio program, Chavez urged the new FARC leader Alfonso Cano to “let all these people go.” “There are old folk, women, sick people, soldiers who have been prisoners in the mountains for 10 years,” he added. The announcement was hailed by the United States officials as “good words,” but Chavez had also said back in January during the uproar over his alleged FARC support, “I don’t agree with the armed struggle.”
In an effort to clear its name, the Ecuadorian government has already committed to investigating Colombia’s accusations that Ecuador offered refuge to the rebels.
President Chavez has repeatedly denied that Venezuela provided any kind of material support to the FARC and that the only contacts his government has had with the FARC has been to facilitate the release of hostages held by the FARC. In early 2008 Chavez managed to convince the FARC to release six out of 45 of its high profile hostages.
At the UNASUR summit in Brazil, Chavez met with Colombia’s president Alvaro Uribe behind closed doors. In a relaxed atmosphere, Uribe promised Chavez’s 6 year old daughter that she would be able to see peace as an adult, commenting to her on the merits of mutual respect. Chavez and Uribe spoke at length. [I told Uribe] “we will not meddle in the internal problems of Colombia,” Chavez commented afterwards, “our message is of peace.”
“Here, I ask for the world’s help… enough of so much war, the hour to sit down and talk of peace has arrived, we call on the world to seek this path,” he said.
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