U.S. Mainstream Media Propagandize Venezuelan Rebellion

 

News coverage of current political strife in Venezuela serves as a fresh reminder that U.S. mainstream newspapers and broadcasters too often deliver remarkably biased “news” reports on sensitive global topics.

venezuela flag waving customThe extreme bias in U.S. reports about Venezuela frequently appears also in coverage of such other topics as Syria, Palestine and Russia – regardless of repeated reassurances to audiences by the relevant outlets that they are committed to professional standards of fairness, accuracy and unbiased coverage.

Clearly, that’s not the case on certain topics.

The corporate media — including the prestigious newspaper outlets like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post — consistently portray leaders of Venezuela, Syria and Russia as bloodthirsty dictators with no semblance of popular appeal. That's despite independent evidence that they have won elections (unlike some tyrants counted as strong U.S. allies) and probably could continue to do so in fair elections, according to independent popularity polls and other evidence.

juan guaido nicolas maduroIn the meantime, the U.S. and other Western media puff up opponents seeking to overthrow these governments while the "news" outlets show their support by minimizing negative coverage of opposition figures.

For example, Juan Guaidó (shown at left in the adjoining photo), the U.S.-anointed and self-declared “interim president” of Venezuela, has only a slender semblance of a constitutional right to seize power by the terms of his nation's constitution.

U.S. news reports typically describe Guaidó as head of his nation's National Assembly. But very few reporters delve deep enough to report his tiny plurarily of 26 percent in winning his seat or the enormous effort that the United States has exerted on his behalf, including via presssure on other governments and via CIA and other covert means in the tradition of the "Monroe Doctrine."

Similarly, U.S. audiences are rarely exposed to the dominance within Syrian rebels of Al Qaeda and similar radical Islamist factions associated with 9/11 attacks.

The intensely negative media coverage of Palestinians is obvious also in the mainstream media. But it falls into a different category because it is typically paired with a flip-side of fawning coverage of Israel and its leaders. Those patterns reoccur even when the result is for the media to ignore for the most part the human rights abuses involved in Israel’s keeping Gaza residents, in particular, virtually powerless in an open-air prison in horrid living conditions.

Syria, Russia, Palestine and Israel are mostly beyond the scope of this column. Instead, it provides samples of Venezuelan recent coverage. One example is the March 4 news story below filled with flattering comments about Guaidó and the reporter's scorn for President Nicolás Maduro, shown above at right. We offer also an explanation for this pattern:

  • First, the mass media are inherently susceptible to use for political advocacy, even deceitful advocacy (otherwise known as “propaganda”). That was true during the first years of the United States and it remains true today, as we shall see below in more detail.
  • Second, the concept of professional standards of fairness, fact-checking and rendering “news” and commentary as a civic service and facebook logonot simply as a power-grab is being undermined by a variety of economic and political trends. The factors are too numerous to mention here. But, as indicated by our near-daily running account of Media News, the factors include the economic collapse of many news outlets because of web-related competition. That competition lessens costs of production / distribution for new entrants and siphons away advertising to such powerhouse competitors as Facebook and Google.
  • Finally, the so-called “marketplace of ideas” has always been more fragile than commonly understood. That's because the ultimate “marketplace” is not so much outlets selling to consumers, but a far more complex market whereby much of the revenue comes from advertisers or other power players who have agendas that are far more targeted than simply providing information in a neutral manner. These power players include those who seek natural resources and other assets via regime change, oppressive loans or war.

"While it is not possible for the media to tell the population what to think," as longtime commentator Ben Bagdikian once wrote (in a quotation that I used in my 1987 book Spiked about media self-censorship and economics), "they do tell the public what to think about."

To expand on the last point, traditional print media have typically relied on economic models whereby one-quarter or so of revenue might google logo customcome from subscriptions and three quarters from advertising. For broadcasters, all revenue came from advertising, with lots of that income  from political organizations during election years.

Social media like Facebook and related high-tech services like Google have many leaders who are intimately connected with Wall Street and the military-intelligence complex. They typically mingle at such elite gatherings as the Bilderberg and Davos conferences, took the process to its logical extreme whereby the customer does not typically pay anything and is instead the commodity whose attention and privacy being sold to purveyors of messaging.

att logoFurther complicating the media landscape, many brand name outlets known to consumers are owned by conglomerates with shifting and otherwise hard-to-discern agendas.

For example, AT&T has been reassembled in large part after once being broken up on antitrust grounds. It has recently acquired Time Warner with its array of content providers like CNN, TNT and HBO.

As cnn logoreported by the New York Times on March 4 in AT&T Assembles a Media Team, Joining a Battle With Giants, "On Monday the company took a step closer to becoming something never before seen on the American corporate landscape — part telecommunications behemoth and part media-entertainment giant."

Big Picture, Bad Picture

Global empire-building – especially in resource-rich areas like Venezuela and Russia or places with sensitive religious agendas like the Middle East –  is especially vulnerable to agenda-driven "news" coverage. Relatively few Americans know enough about the regions to notice serious omissions or other bias in the coverage.

One of the main omissions in U.S. news coverage of Venezuela pertains to the current food shortages, the horrible inflation, other economic deprivation and political chaos. Coverage focuses on those conditions but omits that the United State and its allies helped foster those conditions (by sanctions and covert actions) and now are using them as an excuse to replace the current president Maduro.

That is the model that has been used by the United States in conjunction with its allies and patron nations in many places and over many years. A pivotal example was the CIA's covert effort in 1953 with street riots in cooperation with the United Kingdom to overthrow Iran's parliamentary government and thereby safeguard U.S.-UK interests in Iran's oil sector for a generation under the brutal regime of the Western-installed the Shah of Iran until his overthrow in 1979.

ap logoIndividual reporters –such as the late Robert Parry of the Associated Press during the Iran-Contra era or more recently Joe Lauria, right, joe lauria head bookuntil recent years covering the United Nations for the Wall Street Journal – might regularly publish solid and occasionlly breakthrough stories running against the standard narratives.

But most will find wisdom in the adage "Go along to get along" because the major news outlets are part of the power structure, not outside it, as usually portrayed in film and other pop culture. Thus, Parry founded Consortium News (now edited by Lauria) to stay independent and the iconic investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who was long associated with the New Yorker, has published his most important revelations in about the Syrian war in the London Review of Books, not The New Yorker.  

Shown below are excerpts from several notable stories about Venezuela presented by mainstream outlets as "news," as opposed to an richard haas venezuela opinion column such as this. 

The mainstream excerpts are billed as news stories, and thus presumably objective, from the Washington Post and New York Times, with some language bold-faced here for emphasis (but not in the original).

The critical commentary comes from opinion columns alternative media, including "Moon of Alabama" analysis by an often-perceptive Germany-based blogger who uses the pen-name "b." 

One of his columns deconstructs as deceptive the Tweet at left by Council on Foreign Relations President Richad N. Haass (shown below at right), a fixture of the empire-building U.S. foreign policy elite who is frequently quoted by mainstream reporters because of his ostensible advocacy for democracy and freedom.

richard haass twitterTo be clear, our own point in this column is to focus on the journalistic issue of deviations from normal news coverage apparent in these mainstream stories.

Whether Maduro or his rival is more deserving of the presidency is not the point. Instead, U.S. news coverage of Venezuela, and similar situations, should not mix so much political opinion into "news" stories.

See for yourself the difference in coverage.

 Contact the author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Related News Coverage

March 10

ny times logoNew York Times, Footage Contradicts U.S. Claim That Maduro Burned Aid Convoy, Nicholas Casey, Christoph Koettl and Deborah Acosta, March 10, 2019. Unpublished footage obtained by The Times and previously released tapes allowed for a reconstruction of the incident. It suggests that a Molotov cocktail thrown by an antigovernment protester was the most likely trigger for the blaze.

nicolas maduro customThe narrative seemed to fit Venezuela’s authoritarian rule: Security forces, on the order of President Nicolás Maduro, right, had torched a convoy of humanitarian aid as millions in his country were suffering from illness and hunger.

Vice President Mike Pence wrote that “the tyrant in Caracas danced” as his henchmen “burned food & medicine.” The State Department released a video saying Mr. Maduro had ordered the trucks burned. And Venezuela’s opposition held up the images of the burning aid, reproduced on dozens of news sites and television screens throughout Latin America, as evidence of Mr. Maduro’s cruelty.

But there is a problem: The opposition itself, not Mr. Maduro’s men, appears to have set the cargo alight accidentally.

March 4

washington post logoWashington Post, Juan Guaidó returns to Venezuela under threat of arrest, Mary Beth Sheridan and Mariana Zuñiga, March 4, 2019. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó (above left) made a triumphant return to Venezuela on Monday after a 10-day absence, injecting fresh energy into the U.S.-backed campaign to push out authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro.

Guaidó arrived shortly after noon to wild cheers from supporters gathered at Caracas’ Maiquetia “Simon Bolivar” International Airport. “We are here, Venezuela,” a beaming Guaidó declared, as he was encircled by television cameras. “We are strong. We are moving forward!”

Guaidó supporters in Venezuela and abroad had feared he might be arrested on arrival. The opposition leader, who has been recognized as interim president by the United States and more than 50 other countries, had defied a court order when he crossed the border on Feb. 22 to lead an effort to bring truckloads of humanitarian aid into the country. He has since been traveling to meet with Latin American leaders.

Senior diplomats from the United States, Europe and Latin America had gathered at the airport Monday to ensure Guaidó was not harmed. Officials including Britain’s foreign minister, Jeremy Hunt, and John Bolton, the U.S. national security adviser, had warned that Maduro would face severe consequences if he detained Guaidó. “Any threats or acts against his safe return will be met with a strong and significant response from the United States and the international community,” Bolton tweeted Sunday night.

Maduro had said that Guaidó will “face justice” if he returns, and security was heavier than usual at the airport. But the opposition leader cleared immigration with no problem. Until almost the last minute, Venezuelans had been unsure of when and where he would arrive.

Guaidó had called for massive anti-government demonstrations on Monday and Tuesday.

Moon of Alabama, Venezuela -- Random Guyaidó Returns Only To Again Be Ignored, b, March 4, 2019. Juan Guaidó, the random guy who claims to be 'interim president' of Venezuela, just arrived (vid) back in Caracas. He was not arrested. It seems that President Maduro's strategy is to simply ignore Guaidó and to wait until the guy campaign runs out of steam. Meanwhile U.S. media and the Trump administration are doing their best to further that.

The New York Times reported of Random Guyaido's plans to return to Venezuela: "Guaidó Vows a Prompt Return to Venezuela, as Unity Starts to Fray."

The piece included this curious passage: "These regional allies are among the 50 countries, including the United States, that have recognized him as president, not Mr. Maduro, who swore himself in in January for a second term after an election widely viewed as undemocratic."

Is it unusual that someone swears "himself" into office? It is also not what the constitution of Venezuela proscribes:

Article 231: The candidate elected shall take office as President of the Republic on January 10 of the first year of his constitutional term, by taking an oath before the National Assembly. If for any supervening reason, the person elected President of the Republic cannot be sworn in before the National Assembly, he shall take the oath of office before the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.

So what really happened on January 10 in Venezuela? Helpfully the NYT provided a link in the passage above. It goes to this story in the January 10 edition of the Times. It says:

When President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela was sworn in for his second term on Thursday before the country’s Supreme Court.
...The presidents of Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador and Nicaragua did attend the ceremony, along with representatives from China, Mexico and Turkey.

Maduro did not swear "himself in," he was "sworn in." He took the oath in front of the Supreme Court which is fully consistent with the constitution. (The National Assembly is held in contempt of a judgment by the Supreme Court and was therefore not eligible.) The Miami Herald has a short video of the scene.

So while on January 10 the NYT correctly described that Maduro was "sworn in," it now claims that he "swore himself in." Why the Times is doing that is quite obvious. It was the U.S. puppet Juan Guaidó who "swore himself in" as 'interim president' in a form that is inconsistent with what the constitution demands. As CNN reported at that time: "National Assembly President Juan Guaidó swore himself in as President of Venezuela today before a massive crowd of supporters in Caracas."

“Raise your right hand, today, January 23rd 2019, in my condition as President of the National Assembly, invoking the articles of the Constitution – before Almighty God,” Guaidó said, as the mass of supporters raised their hands. “I swear to formally assume the power of the National Executive Office as the President of Venezuela.”

To cover for the non-legal way Random Guyaidó "swore himself in." the Times now alleges that President Maduro did similar. The difference in the wording seems minor, but it demonstrates the utter contempt for the constitution and laws that Guaidó and his supporters have shown.

Juan Guaidó left Venezuela on February 22 in defiance of a court order to stay in the country. That is why he still might get arrested. But if he had not returned then his career as 'interim president' would have ended. The NYT report above and similar pieces in other media agree on that.

March 1

Strategic Culture Foundation, Military Intervention and Mercenaries, Inc. (MIAMI), Wayne Madsen (left, syndicated columnist, former U.S. Navy intelligence officer and author of 16 books, including The Almost Classified Guide to CIA Front Companies, Proprietaries & Contractors), March 1, 2019.

The city of Miami, Florida may have started out as a retirement mecca for winter-worn pensioners from northern climes.

However, after the beginning of the Cold War and US military and Central Intelligence Agency intervention in Guatemala, Cuba, the wayne madsen cia front cover SmallDominican Republic, Chile, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Guyana, the Bahamas, and other Western Hemisphere nations, Miami became a refuge for exiled wealthy businessmen escaping populist revolutions and elections in South and Central America and spies. The retirement and vacation capital of the United States quickly became the “Tropical Casablanca.”

Now home to thousands of limited liability corporations linked to the CIA, as well as private military contractors, sketchy airlines flying from remote Florida airports, the interventionist US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and exiled oligarchs running destabilization operations in their native countries, Miami – or MIAMI, “Military Intervention and Mercenaries, Inc.” – serves as the nexus for current Trump administration “regime change” efforts.

The latest example of Miami being a hive of CIA operatives came after five Americans, one Serbian permanent resident of the United States, and another Serbian national, were arrested by the Haitian National Police in Port-au-Prince with weapons, advanced communications devices, drones, and other military hardware amid anti-government protests linked to CIA regime change operations.

The government of Haitian President Jovenel Moise and Prime Minister Jean Henry Céant is under US pressure to sever its diplomatic and financial links with the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who the Trump administration is attempting to replace with Juan Guaido, a CIA agent-of-influence and US puppet.

cia logoThe Americans and Serbs were subsequently transferred to Miami on the authorization of Haitian Justice Minister Jean Roody Aly, who was assured by the Donald Trump administration that the seven men would be criminally tried by the United States. Once in Miami, the US Attorney’s Office in Miami, which takes its orders from the CIA-friendly Attorney General, William Barr, declined prosecution of the men but “debriefed” them, a term usually applied to intelligence agents who are caught and expelled by foreign authorities.

The decision by the Haitian administration to release the seven men has resulted in a political firestorm in Port-au-Prince, with the Haitian Senate demanding answers about the role Moise played in ordering the Central Bureau of the Judicial Police of Haiti to release the individuals, described by Prime Minister Céant as “mercenaries” and “terrorists.”

UN logo

Southfront, US-Proclaimed ‘Venezuelan President’ Announces Another Humanitarian Aid Provocation, Staff report, March 1, 2019. On February 28th, the rival resolutions on Venezuela by US and Russia were both blocked at the United Nations Security Council. The US proposal received the necessary 9 votes but was vetoed by Russia, China and South Africa.

venezuela flag waving customThe US draft resolution called for the holding of new elections and a recognition of self-proclaimed interim President Guaidó. Nine voted in favour (Germany, Poland, Peru, US, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Dominican Republic, Kuwait), three against (Russia, China, South Africa) and there were three abstentions (Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Côte d’Ivoire).

The Russian draft received 4 votes in favor – from Russia, China, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea. The resolution called for a dialogue between the Government and the opposition, in line with the Montevideo mechanism – a forum for talks, launched by Mexico and Uruguay earlier this February. It received 7 votes against (Germany, Poland, Peru, US, United Kingdom, France, Belgium) and 4 abstentions (Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kuwait).

Separately, in statements posted by TeleSUR’s Madelein Garcia, Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez claims that the Venezuelan military has been battling “unprecedented aggression by the fiercest empire of the US.” He also claimed that “everything is supported by lying, manipulation” and is a “perverse aggression to break the institutionality and seize power.”

He also said that in total 109 National Guard members have defected and they were promised $20,000 for crossing the border and joining the opposition’s side.

Washington Babylon, First Person Report: Caracas Chronicles, Part I of an Ongoing Series, Ken Silverstein, March 1, 2019. I just got back from Venezuela and I’ll be writing a lot about the country next week. Virtually everything you read or see about it in the U.S. media is a lie. And to be clear, I don’t mean skewed or misleading or incomplete, I mean a lie (Emphasis added).

For example, people in Venezuela are not starving — at least very few are, if any — nor is the country a dictatorship. But that’s exactly what you would believe from reading the likes of the atrocious Hannah Dreier, who failed upward from the Associated Press to ProPublica, that beacon of investigative reporting, and who has been a chief propagandist for the rancid old oligarchy.

I was all over the barrios of Caracas, especially San Augustin.

In another, La Vega, I had a meal at the home of a resident. She cooked me blood sausage, Pasta Bolognese and rice and chicken liver.

People live humbly but they have food — especially because the government distributes a monthly food package, for the equivalent of a few pennies — to everyone who needs it and even some who don’t. Furthermore, food — fruits, vegetable, meat, bread, for example — is available everywhere. You have to be a blind liar like Dreier to miss it since street markets overflow with abundance. It’s not cheap but it’s available.

Furthermore, President Nicolas Maduro, who I personally dislike, is corrupt and repressive, but he is not a dictator. There are anti-government slogans painted all over Caracas and people spoke openly about wanting him gone, from the barrios to barbershops to markets. I had an intense argument with many people close to the government while I was in Venezuela, yet continued to wander the streets and dive bars of the city until the wee hours. No one, neither government security forces nor crack heads, of which there are a few, bothered me.

Maduro does not appear to be widely liked, but he is certainly more popular than the reviled and mocked Juan Guiado (above at left), President Donald Trump’s toy poodle. This clown was formerly an electronics trafficker, for Fuck’s sake. (Note: I got the picture below from a security guard who used to work in the area where Guiado street hustled, before he became the Trump administration’s full time

Feb. 25

ny times logoNew York Times, With Aid Blocked, What’s Next for Venezuela’s Opposition? Nicholas Casey and Albinson Linares, Feb. 25, 2019 (print edition). As the humanitarian aid at the heart of a Venezuelan border standoff remained shut in warehouses on Sunday, and with President Nicolás Maduro’s blockade still intact, it became clear that the opposition leaders trying to oust him had little in the way of a Plan B.

American FlagJuan Guaidó, the top opposition official, and his allies had hoped that forcing the badly needed food and medicine inside Venezuela would represent a moment of irreversible collapse in Mr. Maduro’s authority. Instead, just one aid truck made it through on Saturday, the deadline set by the opposition to end the impasse, and Mr. Maduro easily fended off the biggest challenge to his power since Mr. Guaidó swore himself in as the country’s rightful leader last month.

venezuela flag waving customClashes between opposition protesters and forces loyal to Mr. Maduro, which have left four dead since Friday, continued into Sunday, threatening the image of Mr. Guaidó’s nonviolent movement.

Columbia flagThe military officials crucial to keeping Mr. Maduro in power largely resisted Mr. Guaidó’s call for mass defections, with only about 150 deserting. And even Mr. Guaidó’s own fate remained unclear: After he slipped over the border into Colombia on Friday, disobeying a travel ban, it was anyone’s guess if Mr. Maduro would allow him to return.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Venezuela -- No, The "Responsibility To Protect" Does Not Apply, b, Feb. 25, 2019. Richard Haass (shown in his Twitter photo) is the president of the Council of Foreign Relations. richard haass twitterOn Friday, before the failed delivery of fake "humanitarian aid" to Venezuela, he opined that the rejection of the "aid" would justify an intervention based on the dubious doctrine of a Responsibility to Protect (R2P):

"What the Maduro regime is doing to the people of Venezuela is inconsistent with the obligations that come with being a sovereign state. The time has come for the UN or OAS or Lima Group to consider how to apply the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine."

Haass attached a link to a report by the Crisis Group which summarized the situation at that time. The Crisis Group report argues, quite correctly, that the Venezuelan government is legally justified to reject the "aid". Thus R2P, which presuppose that a state does not fulfill is legal obligations, cannot apply to the case:

venezuela flag waving customUnder international law, governments must give consent to the distribution of food and medical supplies when a population’s survival is threatened, but only if the aid is of an exclusively humanitarian and impartial nature. This aid operation, however, is primarily political, in that it is intended to undermine Maduro and bring about a change of government.

To recommend a legal procedure and policy by linking to a report that contradicts that reasoning is quite daft. Furthermore Haass wants "the UN or OAS or Lima Group to consider how to apply the Responsibility to Protect.

richard haas venezuela But neither the Organisation of American States nor the Lima Group, a Canadian plot together with some Central and South American states to attack Venezuela, can apply R2P beyond the already taken sanction measures:

The Responsibility to Protect provides a framework for employing measures that already exist (i.e., mediation, early warning mechanisms, economic sanctions, and chapter VII powers) to prevent atrocity crimes and to protect civilians from their occurrence. The authority to employ the use of force under the framework of the Responsibility to Protect rests solely with United Nations Security Council and is considered a measure of last resort.

The UNSC will of course reject any U.S. attempt to apply R2P with regards to Venezuela.

marco rubio venezuela maduro ghaddafiThe only and last time that the Security Council passed a chapter VII resolution based on R2P was with regards to Libya. The resolution allowed other states to protect the civilian population of Libya by force. The U.S. and others abused the resolution to overthrow the Libyan government and to completely destroyed the country. China and Russia certainly noted that. They will never again let such a resolution pass.

That Senator Marco Rubio, a driving power behind the campaign against Venezuela, explicitly posted these pictures of Muhammad Ghaddafi before and after R2P was applied, only strengthens the case against it.

Feb. 24

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Venezuela -- There Was A Riot At The Border But What Else Did The "Aid" Stunt Achieve? B, Feb. 24, 2019.  Yesterday's "humanitarian aid" stunt at the Colombian-Venezuelan border was supposed to achieve four points:

  1. to breach the border and thereby open venues that could later be used for the passage of arms and fighters,
  2. to incite large scale defections from the Venezuelan army and police forces,
  3. to demonstrate to the outside world that the Random Guyaido, who declared himself president, has a large following and is thereby legitimate enough to support him,
  4. to deliver justification for further steps against Venezuela.

Point 1 was clearly not achieved. A few hundred young men attacked the Venezuelan National Guard force that closed off the border. Attempts were made to ram "aid" trucks juan guaidóthrough. Random Guyaido ["Random Guy," Juan Guaidó, "interim president," right, and leader of the rebellion] was nowhere to be seen. The whole thing ended in a minor riot. The violent attackers received gasoline and made Molotov cocktails to attack the guards and set the "aid" trucks alight. The riots continued (vid) until about midnight but neither any rioters nor the aid passed through the border.

The New York Times headlines, and Guaido claimed, that some "aid" passed into Venezuela from Brazil: "Some Aid From Brazil Pierces Venezuela’s Blockade, but Deadly Violence Erupts."

Down in paragraph 17 of its story the NYT admits that its headline is fake: "But as of Saturday night, the trucks remained stranded on the border, according to Jesús Bobadillo, a Catholic priest in Pacaraima, the Brazilian border town."

Bloomberg's bureau chief in Venezuela confirmed that the "aid" never entered the country: "Patricia Laya @PattyLaya - 4:31 PM - 23 Feb 2019. An important note from our reporter on the Brazil border @SamyAdghirni: while the aid is technically on Venezuelan territory, it hasn't crossed security or customs checkpoints"

venezuela flag waving customThe attempt to incite defections of Venezuelan security forces largely failed. A handful of National Guard foot soldiers went over to the Colombian side. But the National Guard lines held well even under a hail of stones and fire and the units were quite disciplined in taking and holding their positions. The military of Venezuela stays firmly on the side of the state.

The "aid" nonsense did not help to brush up Guaido's legitimacy. Defying a court order Guaido left Venezuela and entered Colombia. If he ever goes back he will have to go to jail. The large mobilization inside and outside of Venezuela he had promised completely failed to appear. The melee at the border crossing only showed that his followers are a gang of brutal thugs.

Columbia flagGuaido also lost his original legal position. He claimed the presidency on January 23 under this paragraph of article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution: "When an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the President of the National Assembly shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic."

That the "elected President becomes permanently unavailable" was never the case to begin with. But if article 233 would apply Guaido would have had 30 days to hold new elections. The 30 days are over and Guaido did not even call for elections to be held. He thereby defied the exact same paragraph of the constitution that his (false) claim to the presidency is based on.

All the above will not change the U.S. urge to "regime change" Venezuela. But it will certainly lower Guaido's support within the country as well as his international standing. It demonstrated aptly that he is nothing but an empty suit.

bernie sandersThe last aim of yesterday's stunt was to give justification for the next steps towards "regime change" -- whatever those steps may be.

The success of achieving that aim was never in question as all U.S. media and politicians were already backing Trump's plans by accepting the "humanitarian aid" nonsense in the first place:

"Bernie Sanders [shown at right] @SenSanders -- 18:47 utc - 23 Feb 2019: 'The people of Venezuela are enduring a serious humanitarian crisis. The Maduro government must put the needs of its people first, allow humanitarian aid into the country, and refrain from violence against protesters.'"

This response to the fake socialist is warranted: "Roger Waters @rogerwaters - 22:27 utc - 23 Feb 2019. Replying to @SenSanders: Bernie, are you f-ing kidding me! if you buy the Trump, Bolton, Abrams, Rubio line, “humanitarian intervention” and collude in the destruction of Venezuela, you cannot be credible candidate for President of the USA. Or, maybe you can, maybe you’re the perfect stooge for the 1 %."

 Feb. 22

elliot abrams

U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams, a former convicted and then pardoned felon in the Iran-Contra Scandal (file photo).

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: Trump’s Contra War Redux in Latin America, Wayne Madsen (syndicated columnist, author of 16 books, former Navy intelligence officer), Feb. 22, 2019. A largely ignored story reported by the Lebanese magazine “Ash Shiraa” on November 3, 1986, soon blossomed into a major scandal involving the covert sale of US weapons to the government of Iran and the illegal supply of weapons to right-wing Nicaraguan rebels.

nicols maduro wToday, in a period of déjà vu, the Donald Trump administration has embarked on a Reaganesque policy of covertly shipping arms to Venezuelan rebels, based in Colombia and Brazil, readying for an insurrection against the government of President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela. At the same time, US covert operators have been caught in the act of mounting operations directed at the governments of Haiti and Nicaragua, both members of the increasingly-shrinking Latin American camp of Maduro allies.

Reprising the role of Reagan, Trump, on February 18 during a speech at Florida International University in Miami, urged Venezuelan military officers to rise up, in a coup d'état, and oust Maduro, who Trump called a "Cuban puppet."

Making Trump’s call seem like a repetition of history, the White House recently appointed Elliott Abrams (right) as Trump’s “special envoy” for the forced transition of government in Venezuela from Maduro to Juan Guaido, a “Trump puppet.”

In 1991, Abrams, after agreeing to cooperate with Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh, was convicted on two criminal counts of withholding information from Congress. Abrams denied being involved in the illegal solicitation of funds for the Contras. On December 24, 1992, George H. W. Bush issued presidential pardons to Abrams and five of his co-conspirators in the Iran-Contra scandal. Bush had been identified as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in Walsh’s final report.

 Jan. 31

 Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Venezuela -- Coup Attempt Part Of A Larger Project -- Military Intervention Likely To Fail, B, Jan. 31, 2019. The Trump administration has launched a large political project to remake several states in Latin America. The Wall Street Journal headlines: "U.S. Push to Oust Venezuela’s Maduro Marks First Shot in Plan to Reshape Latin America." The Trump administration’s broader aim is to gain leverage over Cuba and curb recent inroads in the region by Russia, Iran and China.

The plan includes regime change in Venezuela, Nicaragua and eventually Cuba. The removal of any Russian or Chinese interest is another point. It is a multiyear project that has bipartisan support. It will likely require military force.

The project seems to echo the "New Middle East" plan then Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice launched in 2006. It largely failed due to U.S. incompetence but left behind juan guaidóseverely damaged states. That the U.S. is going for such a wide ranging plan in the western hemisphere might explain why Trump is pressing to end the other military projects in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The starting shot for the new plan, the U.S. led coup attempt in Venezuela, is already in trouble. The U.S. selected puppet Juan Guaidó (right) had called for demonstrations in support of his coup that were supposed to take place yesterday. But even the NYT, which propagandizes for each and every regime change operation the U.S. undertakes in Latin America, could find only little evidence of support.

Jan. 30

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I’m not leaving my house’: Maduro punishes protesters in Venezuela’s once-loyal slums, Mariana Zuñiga and Anthony nicolas maduro customFaiola, Jan. 30, 2019 (print edition). Observers call it the most ruthless crackdown on dissent since Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro (right) came to power in 2013.

The assault on Puerta Caracas is part of what observers call the most ruthless crackdown unleashed by Maduro since coming to power in 2013. Over the past week, similar operations have extended to at least five other rebellious slums across the capital, leaving 35 people dead — including victims as young as 16 — and more than 850 arrested.

Roll Call, Trump congratulates Juan Guaidó on assuming power, amid unrest in Venezuela, John T. Bennett, Jan 30, 2019. The call comes amid some criticism regarding the timing of recognizing the new interim president. President Donald Trump Wednesday morning spoke by phone with Juan Guaidó, whom he has recognized as Venezuela’s interim president, amid violence and political unrest there.

venezuela flag waving customTrump called Guaidó to “congratulate him on his historic assumption of the presidency and to reinforce President Trump’s strong support for Venezuela’s fight to regain its democracy,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. During the call, Guaidó “noted the importance of the large protests across Venezuela against former dictator [Nicolás] Maduro, set to occur today and Saturday,” she added.
ese words written on it: “5,000 troops to Colombia.”

The approach has not been without criticism. Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., joined with Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama, to question the wisdom of recognizing an interim president who may not actually control the country.

“Chest-thumping declarations that melt away over time weaken American power and credibility. In Venezuela, if the armed forces continue to back Maduro, then last week’s move may come to look feckless, while offering Maduro the opportunity to rally his domestic and foreign backers against U.S. intervention,” Murphy and Rhodes wrote in the Washington Post. “Reckless talk of military options only compounds this problem — there is no credible U.S. military option to invade Venezuela, and it would be dangerous and destabilizing to do so.”

Jan. 29

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. escalates efforts to force Maduro from power in Venezuela, Karen DeYoung, Steven Mufson and Anthony Faiola, Jan. 29, 2019. The Trump administration said it will block all U.S. revenue to Venezuela’s national oil company and called on members of its armed forces to switch their allegiance to Juan Guaidó.

washington post logoWashington Post, Venezuelan officials seek to block U.S.-supported opposition leader Juan Guaidó from leaving the country, freeze his assets, Andreina Aponte, Rachelle Krygier and Anthony Faiola, Jan. 29, 2019. Amid political turmoil, Venezuelans express desire for a better future. Venezuelan authorities moved to prohibit opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó from leaving the country and to freeze his bank accounts, prompting the United States, which a day earlier slapped sweeping sanctions on Venezuela’s state-run oil company, to say there would be “serious consequences” if Guaidó is harmed.

President Nicolas Maduro’s chief prosecutor made the request, which was later ratified by the loyalist Supreme Court as a preventative measure pending a full investigation. The move stopped short of a detention order – something the Trump administration has strongly warned against.

“We request these preventive measures against Guaidó while we compile elements to stop the events that since January 22 have broken the peace of the Republic,” the prosecutor, Tarek Saab, said in a news conference.

Jan. 26

UN logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Security Council meeting on Venezuela expected to highlight tensions between U.S. and Russia, Carol Morello, Jan. 26, 2019. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will seek support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president, officials say, but the Kremlin has warned the United States not to intervene.

ny times logoNew York Times, Within Venezuelan Military Ranks, a Struggle Over What Leader to Back, Nicholas Casey, Jan. 26, 2019 (print edition). When Venezuelans took to the streets this week to demand a return to democracy, they chose a date with deep historic significance: Jan. 23, the day a dictatorship collapsed in the face of surging protests more than 60 years ago.

But demonstrations alone didn’t bring down Venezuela’s strongman back then. Only when the military stepped in, with tanks alongside protesters, did the dictatorship fall.

juan guaidóIt’s a playbook that Juan Guaidó, right, the 35-year-old opposition leader who declared himself Venezuela’s rightful president to cheering crowds on Wednesday, hoped would be just as relevant today as it was in 1958.

While Mr. Guaidó earned the official recognition of the United States and more than 20 other countries, he remains a leader without a state. Venezuela’s military brass publicly swore allegiance to the nation’s president, Nicolás Maduro, frustrating the opposition’s plan to entice the armed forces into breaking ranks and turning the tide in the country’s long slide into authoritarianism.