Chavez and the Beasts

Today another 29 Syrians, including a child, were slaughtered in their streets. Today Hugo Chavez referred to Syrian President Bashaar al-Asad as “my brother.” He claimed that Syria is “the victim of a fascist attack,” but he wasn’t referring to his fascistic brother, he was referring to the people.

Lance Selfa at Socialist Worker analyses Chavez’s perverse stand. It should be noted that Turkish PM Erdogan has regained his popularity since he took a strong line against Qaddafi and Asad.

WHEN THE revolution sweeping the Arab world struck Libya and Syria, the governments there chose to act in the same way that the Bahraini monarchy did against its internal opposition: Open fire on unarmed crowds, arrest large numbers of people and outlaw demonstrations.

These actions have rightly received widespread condemnation from supporters of the Arab revolutions. But they have received at least tacit support from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who is widely considered an important figure on the international left.

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Colombia’s Wayuu: Still Holding on at the Top of the Continent

Wayuu children at Playa del Pilón de Azúcar, Cabo de la Vela, Colombia (Photo by Ken Kelley)

by Ken Kelley

Sitting for hours in the market of Uribia in the Colombian department of La Guajira, watching indigenous Wayuu women in long flowing dresses selling smuggled gasoline and other Venezuelan wares, I started to wonder if I would ever reach the tiny fishing village of Cabo de la Vela on the Guajira Peninsula.

I kept getting conflicting stories as to whether the truck for Cabo had already left and whether there would be another that day. I was almost ready to backtrack to the city of Riohacha when two more travelers appeared, followed by the truck, into which were then loaded all kinds of goods plus myself and the other passengers. We set off.

Located on the northernmost tip of South America, the arid Guajira Peninsula straddles the border of Venezuela and Colombia. Until recently, it was rarely visited by outsiders, due in part to its Wild West reputation as a hub for trafficking in humans, drugs, and other items, and as the home of the strong-willed Wayuu, who were never subjugated by the Spanish and who have lived on their own terms in the La Guajira desert for centuries.

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Venezuela Election: Victory or Setback for Chavez?

The Real News — Gregory Wilpert is a sociologist, freelance journalist, editor of Venezuela Analysis, and author of the recently published book, Changing Venezuela by Taking Power. During this episode of The Real News with Paul Jay Wilpert argues that the Venezuelan election results will make governing more difficult for Hugo Chavez.

Stone, Ali, and Weisbrot respond to attack from the New York Times’ Larry Rohter

The following letter was sent to The New York Times by Oliver Stone, Mark Weisbrot and Tariq Ali in response to a grossly distorted account of their new film ‘South of the Border‘ by Larry Rohter, a one time backer of the 2002 coup attempt.

Larry Rohter attacks our film, “South of the Border,” for “mistakes, misstatements and missing details.”  But a close examination of the details reveals that the mistakes, misstatements, and missing details are his own, and that the film is factually accurate. We will document this for each one of his attacks. We then show that there is evidence of animus and conflict of interest, in his attempt to discredit the film. Finally, we ask that you consider the many factual errors in Rohter’s attacks, outlined below, and the pervasive evidence of animus and conflict of interest in his attempt to discredit the film; and we ask that The New York Times publish a full correction for these numerous mistakes.

1) Accusing the film of “misinformation,” Rohter writes that “A flight from Caracas to La Paz, Bolivia, flies mostly over the Amazon, not the Andes. . .” But the narration does not say that the flight is “mostly” over the Andes, just that it flies over the Andes, which is true. (Source: Google Earth).

2) Also in the category of “misinformation,” Rohter writes “the United States does not ‘import more oil from Venezuela than any other OPEC nation,’ a distinction that has belonged to Saudi Arabia during the period 2004-10.”

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The Media Empire Strikes Back: Reviewing Reviews of South of the Border

by Cyril Mychalejko

Oliver Stone’s new documentary about Latin America’s leftward political shift and its growing independence from Washington is being lambasted by the media. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as Stone calls out the mainstream media in his new film South of the Border for its mostly one-sided, distorted coverage of the region’s political leaders—most significantly Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

In an interview with CBS about his new film Stone remarked about America’s obsession with empire, maintaining global hegemony, and the paranoia that accompanies such obsessions, saying, “We’re a sick country.”

And as if on cue, the mainstream media has published a flurry of attacks on the documentary, consequently supporting Stone’s arguments in the film about ideological biases and misinformation  tainting media coverage about the region, while revealing symptoms of this “sickness” he mentions, such as intellectual impotence, pathological lying, and ideological blindness.
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Oliver Stone on AIPAC, Israel, and Latin America

Viewers of HBO’s Real Time would know that Bill Maher is rather unhinged in his tribalist passions. Yesterday the great Oliver Stone was on the show and interrupted Maher’s usual zionist apologia to remind him that US foreign policy is run by AIPAC; that Israel supported Apartheid South Africa; and that its assault on the Freedom Flotilla was an act of piracy. Watch:

Also, note how the usually garrulous Rachel Maddow remains silent throughout the exchange. I suspect she is also PEP (progressive except for Palestine). Or maybe she just wants to keep her job.

For something more entertaining, check out this smackdown of a Republican rightwinger by Stone and Jesse Ventura on Larry King Live.

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Chávez Takes on Little Red Riding Hood

Colombian presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos.

By Ken Kelley

I was surprised during my trip to Colombia last month when my seemingly enlightened Bogotá cab driver, who had been telling me about his support for Green Party presidential candidate Antanas Mockus in the upcoming elections, suddenly shifted gears and announced that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was loco.

The mental state of its leader was not the only issue the driver had with the neighboring country, and he added that money for Venezuela’s social programs came not from oil wealth but rather from proceeds Chávez received as part of an international drug smuggling ring.  Among the co-conspirators in the ring, I learned, was ex-President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, ousted in a coup last summer which according to the cabbie had been justified based on the fact that Zelaya was also loco.

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