Friday, January 13, 2017

Court rules on the “Blue Coup” case

Eight suspects of having participated in the so called “Blue Coup” plot have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 5 to 8 years by a military court. The condemned are three civilians and five Air Forces officers.

In February 13, 2015, President Maduro announced he had “dismantled” a coup attempt against his government. He first referred to the plan as “Jericho Operation,” but the name later changed to “Blue Coup” in government media.

The conspiracy, according to Maduro, included opposition leaders and active Air Force officers. The plan was to bomb the presidential Miraflores palace, the Ministry of the Defense, and the offices of the news channel Telesur using Air Force Tucano type planes. 

PSUV leader Disodado Cabello accused opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Julio Borges of being behind the plot. The government also accused most leaders of opposition parties, including Capriles Radonski, of having at least knowledge of the plot. Ledezma was arrested on February 19 and is still under house arrest.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Anti-coup Command defuses its first coup attempt

On January 8 President Maduro announced the creation of a new Anti-coup Special Command for Peace and Sovereignty –the name later changed to Anti-coup National Command. According to Maduro this new body will “take preventive, legal, and corrective measures against the coupist sectors.”

The Command is coordinated by the new Vice-president Tareck El Aissami and includes the Vice-president for Peace and Security, Carmen Meléndez, Defense Minister, Vladimir Padrino López, PSUV deputy Diosdado Cabello, Interior Minister Néstor Reverol, and political police SEBIN director Gustavo González López.

On January 11, El Aissami announced the arrest of an opposition deputy, Gilbert Caro, on charges of planning “terrorist actions in the country.” According to the Vice-president, Caro carried inside his car an AK47 rifle and plastic explosives. Aissami explained that Caro had plans to assassinate opposition leaders and then blame the government.

Caro is a deputy of the National Assembly for the Voluntad Popular party. He served a 10 year prison sentence for drug trafficking crimes he claims he didn’t commit. Diosdado Cabello declared that “Caro seems to miss prison, he was obviously not re-educated [while in prison].” 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Post-Truth and Conspiracy Theories

In a surprising rhetorical move, Ignacio Ramonet, a Spanish journalist close to chavismo and former editor-in-chief of Le Monde diplomatique, argues that a sign that we live in a “post-truth” era is that some people do not accept the obvious fact that the Venezuelan government is the victim of a conspiracy.

Conspiracy theorists commonly refute their critics by accusing them of also being part of the conspiracy or of being “official conspiracy theorists,” but this must be one of the first times the new term “post-truth” is used by a conspiracy theorist to characterize the sceptics’ “post-factual relativism.”

Here are the key paragraphs from his end of the year article for Telesur:

All this in the context of a long duration media war against Caracas which began with Hugo Chávez arrival to power in 1999, and which has intensified since April 2013. It reached unheard of levels of violence after the election of President Nicolás Maduro.

This atmosphere of permanent and aggressive media harassment, of insidious misinformation about Venezuela, has confused even many of the friends of the Bolivarian Revolution. Especially because, in this “post-truth” era, the practice of lying, the intellectual fraud, and shameless deception is not punished by any negative consequence, not in terms of credibility or loss of image. Anything goes, everything is useful in this “era of post-factual relativism,” and not even the most objective facts are taken into consideration. Not even the arguments of plots and conspiracies –which are so obvious in the Venezuelan case, - are accepted. Beforehand, the dominant media discourse characterizes and denounces the “supposed plots” as the unacceptable arguments of an “old narrative”…

Ramonet devotes the rest of his piece to praising President Maduro for his “audacity”, “firm hand”, “creativity”, and “courage”, and for through “a sequence of masterful chess plays nobody could foretell,” defeating at least ten conspiracies during 2016. All post-factually true…

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Inside job

Retirees have been finally able to withdraw their pensions form banks after last week’s government forced cash crunch.

President Maduro apologized to them and said he was unaware that the special bank accounts for retirees only allowed for cash withdrawals and not for transfers, but he promised to change the situations and lamented that perhaps the mistake had been the works of conspirators inside the government: “I sometimes say that the conspiracy is inside [the government]. Could it be that the gringos have paid key government posts so that they do harm in the name of the revolution? But you know [they say] I’m dumb, so I will act when the time comes,” declared the president.

He also again accused US President Obama, and local opposition of being behind the recent crisis, and announced that any bank owner caught sabotaging the system will be arrested. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Monetary Coup. El Coletazo de Obama

“We have defeated a monetary, political, social, and economic coup, we have contained it,” said President Maduro yesterday.

According to the Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, President Maduro “told that thanks to the government’s actions an imperial plan against the Bolivarian Revolution, with sectors of the national and international right-wing, has been defeated. He also announced that opposition parties Voluntad Popular and Primero Justicia, together with the United States embassy in Caracas, where behind these plans.”

The US Department of the Treasury is also part of the conspiracy, as Maduro says he has evidence (not shown) that the agency plotted to sabotage the timely arrival in the Venezuela of the new higher denomination bills.

Maduro also included US President Obama in the plot of his conspiracy narrative: “This is Obama’s farewell blow (coletazo). He is obsessed with the destruction of Venezuela,” he said.

Fortunately, the monetary coup having been defeated, 2017 will be a year of phenomenal growth for the Venezuelan economy and of complete happiness for the Venezuelan people, according to Maduro.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

International Sabotage

After two days of protests and looting episodes because of cash shortage, President Maduro has decided to allow the 100Bs. bills to continue circulating at least until January 2, 2017.

Venezuela, explained Maduro, “is the victim of a persecution so that the new [higher denomination] bills do not arrive in the country. Today [December 17] we should have had here the new 500Bs., 2,000Bs., and 20,000Bs. bills, but they simply could not arrive because the special planes [carrying them] were sabotaged.”

The Agencia Venezolana de Noticias also explained that “these actions were driven by the international right-wing as part of the economic war that they lead. It is a form of revenge for the measure by the Venezuelan State of taking out the 100Bs. notes in order to neutralize the mafias that act from Cúcuta, Colombia, and extract the bills from Venezuela to damage the economy of the country.”

Despite the chaos of the last two days, President Maduro said the “experiment” of removing the 100Bs. notes form circulation has been a great success, as it has “revealed” to the public the existence of these mafias, which have received a “powerful coup.”

News channel TeleSur further explains the “achievements” of the government’s measures in an infographic:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Venezuela Cash Conspiracy

President Maduro ordered on Sunday, December 11, that the 100Bs bill, the highest denomination bill in Venezuela, be taken out of circulation within 72 hours. The reason behind the measure is a complicated conspiracy theory which involves the US Department of Treasury, the Colombian government, “Money Mafias” operating in the Colombia-Venezuelan border, unnamed NGOs, and the local opposition.

Here are some of the explanations of this conspiracy as given by government officials and the State media apparatus.

The Popular Power Minister for Interior Relations, Justice and Peace, Mayor General Néstor Reverol Torres, has been put by President Maduro in charge of the “money exchange” operation involving the 100bs bills. He explained that the US Department of Treasury has hired local NGOs to “extract” Venezuelan money in order to destabilize its economy.

Reverol quotes from research which, according to him, shows that “huge amounts of cash” has been taken out from the country with the aim of “draining all the circulating money and suffocating the national financial system.” The local NGOs (funded by the Treasury Department) hire local criminal gangs that take out the 100Bs bills through Colombia. These bills end up in storage facilities in Europe. Switzerland, Poland, Ukraine, Spain, Germany, and the Czech Republic are some of the countries in which, according to Reverol, these money stockpiles have been detected.

The Minister also explained that this same conspiracy has been active before against countries such as Libya and Iraq, “in order to bring down their governments through a non-conventional war. The [the conspirators] call it the Redemption Operation.” News outlet Telesur backs this claim by entitling their report in English on the issue “Currency War in Venezuela Also Used Against Iraq and Libya.”

The conspirators seem willing to take on huge losses in order to destabilize the Venezuelan economy. Reverol said that there is an agreement between the local NGOs and the conspirators that, once the Venezuelan government is toppled, “for every 100Bs bill they [the NGOs] take out, they [the conspirators] give them [between] 80 dollars cents to 1,30$.” Individual citizens get payed less, according to Reverol, “for each 100Bs. bill they take to Colombia, they are deposited in their accounts 120Bs. This is also part of the destabilization plan.”

The conspirators however are able to cut losses by turning the 100bs bills into counterfeit dollar bills. This is possible, according to the government, because of the high quality and durability of Venezuela’s paper money.

The chief of the pro-government block in the National Assembly, PSUV deputy, Hector Rodríguez, has congratulated the President for the measure and claimed that already today (December 12) “we are witnessing the fall of the big mafias.” He also said that “the people have complete knowledge of how these cash mafias operate and how they affect the economy, and of the need to take measures in order to defend the people against sectors of the right who are waging this economic war.”

President Maduro also announced that the Venezuelan-Colombian border will remain closed for the next 72 hours (since December 12), in order to avoid what he said are the “repatriation” of cash attempts by the mafias. “These mafias have all gone like crazy. Just this morning, in the early hours, we captured 64 million bolivars coming into the country by back roads; this is why I have decided to again close the frontier with Colombia for 72 hours.”

Colombia plays and important part in this cash conspiracy, according to Venezuelan officials and State media. A press release issued yesterday by the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry asking the Colombian government to derogate its “Resolution 8”, which according to the Venezuelan government allows for the operation of money exchange houses on the Colombian side of the border and the existence of a “double exchange system” in Colombia.

Here are the infographics published by the Interior Ministry explaining this “Attack against the Venezuelan financial system.”



Saturday, December 3, 2016

Cyberattack

Yesterday Venezuelans had difficulty withdrawing cash form ATM machines and buying good using credit and debit cards, as most of the system was off-line during the day.

President Maduro claimed that the failure was part of an “attack against the commercial exchange technical platform (…) inscribed in the financial war against Venezuela.”

Maduro said that he has ordered the deployment of a police SEBIN commission to investigate the technical failure. However he is sure this event is part of a wider conspiracy against the Venezuelan economy.

The plot, according to the government, also includes the recent collapse of the local currency in the black market. Economists argue that the drop in the value of the Bolívar against the Dollar (close to 200% in a week) is related to the steep increase in money supply in the last months. But government officials prefer to blame for the collapse the web portal dolartoday, which is the most widely used source for tracking the value of the Bolívar.

The Vice-president of the ruling PSUV and National Assembly deputy, Diosdado Cabello, told the audience of his show on public television: “If you woke up poorer this morning, it is because of dolartoday.” President Maduro has gone further in stablishing the conspiracy links between the web portal and the opposition and has called the opposition coalition MUD, MUDtoday.
  
“They are rubbing their hands and preparing an ambush against the country, but you can’t see them [no aparecen], they stab you in the back and hide,” said Maduro about the conspirators.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Did the MUD admit to sabotaging the economy?

Did the opposition give in to the government’s conspiracy rhetoric about an economic war and destabilizing paramilitaries? At least in two key points read in yesterday’s joint agreements with the government it seemed to do so.

Among the five agreements reached by the government and the opposition in the first sessions of the dialogue roundtable, the Vatican Nuncio, Claudio María Chelli, read that both parties agree on “working jointly to combat any form of sabotage or boycott against the economy.”

According to the Agencia Venezolana de Noticias (AVN), although not mentioned among the five agreements made public, the opposition also admitted to the need of pushing for a “joint effort in the struggle against citizens’ insecurity and criminal violence, paramilitarized bands and violent groups…”

The AVN also interprets point 2 of the agreement –which literally says: “In the political area, it was agreed to overcome (superación) the situation of contempt (desacato) by the National Assembly ruled by the Supreme Justice Tribunal” –as meaning that “the MUD also admitted the need to overcome the situation of contempt by the National Assembly, which has resulted from the breaching of the Supreme Justice Tribunal rulings by the parliamentary majority.”

Not surprisingly AVN reports the agreements under the headline “Opposition admits that violence and siege of the economy must stop.”

Here is the full text:

Oposición admite que debe frenarse la violencia y el asedio a la economía
Caracas, 12 Nov. AVN.- La oposición venezolana, que participa en el proceso de diálogo entablado por el Ejecutivo, suscribió este sábado dos documentos en los que se insta a poner fin al boicot contra la economía venezolana, que se traduce en escasez y especulación de bienes esenciales, y a erradicar la violencia promovida a través de figuras como las bandas paramilitarizadas.

Tras la segunda plenaria de las mesas de diálogo, celebrada este viernes y sábado en Caracas, representantes de la llamada Mesa de la Unidad (MUD) se adhirieron junto al gobierno a una hoja de ruta que establece, entre otros aspectos, "trabajar de manera conjunta para combatir toda forma de sabotaje, boicot o agresión a la economía venezolana."

Al aceptar esta tarea, la coalición se compromete a "priorizar en el corto plazo la adopción de medidas orientadas al abastecimiento de medicamentos y alimentos sobre la base de contribuir a promover su producción e importación. Promover el diseño y aplicación de políticas de cooperación entre los sectores público y privado para monitorear, fiscalizar y controlar los mecanismos de adquisición y distribución de insumos y mercancías", acciones que ya viene impulsando el gobierno nacional a través de mecanismos como la Gran Misión Abastecimiento Soberano.

La MUD, además, reconoce la necesidad de superar la situación de desacato en la que se encuentra la Asamblea Nacional (AN), producto del incumplimiento de la mayoría parlamentaria opositora de decisiones del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ).

Además de la hoja de ruta, la oposición también suscribió junto al Ejecutivo la Declaración Conjunta "Convivir en Paz", texto con el que sectores conservadores se comprometen a dirimir diferencias dentro del orden constitucional y contribuir a la defensa de la soberanía.

Al compartir el contenido de este texto, la oposición admite la necesidad de avanzar hacia un "nuevo esfuerzo conjunto en el combate frente a la inseguridad ciudadana y la violencia criminal, las bandas paramilitarizadas y grupos violentos, así como la urgencia del desarme de la población."

La actuación de grupos delictivos que asumieron prácticas del paramilitarismo ha dejado víctimas como el dirigente revolucionario Robert Serra, asesinado el 1 de octubre de 2014 en su residencia, ubicada en La Pastora, Caracas.

También, esas bandas se han vinculado con planes desestabilizadores denunciados y desmontados por las autoridades venezolanas.

© AVN - 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Economic War intensifies

President Nicolás Maduro claims that risk rating agencies are deliberately “attacking the image of the Bolivarian government.” According to the president, United States rating agencies have persecuted Venezuela so as to force it to declare default on its debt and thus “justify a foreign intervention.”

“This is the only country in the world that pays 60 billion dollars, a very high percentage, and that has absolute financial, political, institutional, and moral solvency, and even so the criminal rating agencies raise the country’s risk, because that their way of attacking us and making our natural credit, the credit to which we have the right to access, inaccessible,” said Maduro.

The president specifically accused Ricardo Hausmann, a Venezuelan born Harvard Professor, of being the “financial operator” behind the alleged attack against Venezuela: “What did the Venezuelan bourgeoisie do? They went and lobbied against Venezuela. There is a person called Ricardo Hausmann who I think should be put under code red alert, he should be prosecuted because he is the main financial operator against Venezuela.”

Maduro also accused the Venezuelan intellectual and author Moisés Naim of being part of the financial conspiracy against Venezuela.

Hausmann responded to the accusations in an open letter. “It seems Venezuela’s financial problems have nothing to do with decisions taken by him (Maduro) –a fiscal deficit of 20% of the GDP, price controls, exchange rate difference of more than 2600%, 3 digit inflation, expropriations, –instead they are the consequence of an alleged conspiracy lead by two Venezuelan intellectuals. (…) Moisés Naim and I are not the source of Venezuela’s problems, if Maduro is looking for someone to blame, he should look himself in a mirror,” wrote Hausmann.

According to the Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, the presidents will offer a press conference in the next few days to give details about the “financial war” being waged against Venezuela and to ask the public prosecutor’s office to “investigate and act against the conspirators.”

Government media is devoting much space to explain Maduro’s accusations. TeleSUR quotes an analyst, Miguel Jaimes, who says that “the current situation of economic war lived in Venezuela has its roots in the oil industry royalties.” According to Jaimes during the Bolivarian Revolution, multinationals have seen their interests affected and therefore have reduced their investments in the country. “The Venezuelan opposition and business sector have limited their production of goods in order to create a situation of economic and social conflict to force the overthrow of President Nicolás Maduro,” quotes TeleSUR. Jaimes also claims that the current financial distortions in Venezuelan were created by the “economic culture in place before the Bolivarian Revolution.”