Saturday, August 30, 2014

Maduro: it’s not me, it’s the Economic War

President Maduro insisted yesterday that the current economic crisis in Venezuela is not the result of misguided economic policies by his government, but of a coordinated Economic War waged by the local opposition and the “Empire”.

“No, what this [crisis] demonstrates is the failure of the speculative and criminal capitalist model, which claims earnings in dollars. And many of those involved [in the Economic War] are part of the bourgeoisie that are seeking huge profits, and then they take that money and go on and finance many other things, they want to upset the country. We are facing a war against peace,” explained Maduro.

Economic experts and opposition critics who have pointed to more structural causes for the scarcity of basic products are, according to Maduro, “rightist factors or expert capitalist opinion makers. Not once have they condemned smuggling of goods. All these spokespersons of big business are justifying smuggling and are condemning those that are fighting for the country. They are so mean that they are unwilling to fight by my side, and to be on the side of the people, in this battle for the economic stability of the country, because they are betting on harming the country.”

Instead, what really needs to be done to stabilize the economy is to increase controls even more. For Maduro the “struggle is based on three basic pillars: an anti-smuggling plan, the implementation of the Biometric System, to fight against the illicit use of products, and the creation of a special intelligence unit against the Economic War.”

The President insisted that he would not take “neo-liberal measures. [Because]  We can and we must construct a different economy.”

(Image El Universal)  

Friday, August 29, 2014

What happened to the Magnicidio conspiracy?

By this blog’s count, July 3 was the last day an important government official mentioned the plot to kill president Maduro. Since then, conspiracy claims by the Venezuelan government have focused on the Economic War, and more specifically on the supposed links between the opposition and “smuggling mafias.”

Claims by the government that the opposition and the Empire were plotting to kill the President have been recurrent since Chávez. Last year the end of July saw a surge of magnicidio plots claims by government officials and public media. Almost daily revelations of details of a plot to kill Maduro continued during September, but then faded and by October 2013 gave way to a change of focus on the Economic War.

I expect the stories of magnicidio plots to come up again in the next few months; perhaps if street protests flare up again, or the “anti-smuggling crusade” runs out of steam...

In the meantime, here is a translation of a remarkable press note published by Telesur  in its Web page back in 28 May this year. It presents a “timeline” form of the magnicidio plot to kill Maduro, from May 2013 to May 2014.

Especially noteworthy is how the report is framed in the first paragraph: the “extreme Right” has seen its plans fail and therefore it has little option but to resort to a magnicidio. Since it covers up to May, it does not include the June and July story, but it ends with a foreboding “Latent conspiracy” entry.

The glossary presented at the end, serving as “historical context” for the note, is also very interesting. The author of the article felt the need to include, not only terms strictly related to the magnicidio narrative, but also other issues and people mentioned in other government conspiracy theories, such as the “Fiesta Mexicana”, Vicente Fox, Leopoldo López, and even the Aviador. Old stories, such as the paracachitos of 2004, are also included as the first signs of subversive plots.

In all, the article is a very complete report on the magnicidio story from the government’s perspective.

Historical timeline: The magnicidio plan against Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela

May 28, 2014

Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro has been the focus of magnicidio conspiracies since he took power. The extreme Right –both national and international- has realized the total failure of its interventionist and disruptive plans against the Bolivarian Revolution, therefore attempting to kill the head of State is the only option left for them.

Uribe implicated: May 3. President Nicolás Maduro announced that he has information about magnicidio plans against him, and directly blamed the rightist Colombian ex-president Álvaro Uribe. He also pointed to Roger Noriega and Otto Reich as part of the plan from Miami.

Paramilitaries: July 10. Venezuela’s Interior minister, Miguel Rodríguez Torres, informed that according to investigations, the two Colombian paramilitary groups that had been arrested the week before had plans to try to kill Maduro.

More implicated: July 31. Diosdado Cabello informed that businessman Eduardo Macaya Álvarez, the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, and Álvaro Uribe are some of the persons that are plotting magnicidio plans against Nicolás Maduro. Rodríguez Torres also informed that the first meetings of the conspirators were in Miami and Bogota in April. Uribe, the de facto ex-president of Honduras Roberto Micheletti, an envoy of Posada Carriles, a Colombian active armed forces officer, and a CIA officer, participated in those meetings.

Sicarios: August 26. Two Colombian nationals–Victor Joan Gueche Mosquera and Erick Leonardo Huerta Rios- are detained on August 15 near Caracas carrying orders to assassinate Maduro, or if that were not possible, assassinate the president of Parliament (Diosdado Cabello). The name of the operation was “Carpeta Amarilla”.

Officers expelled: September 30. Maduro orders the expulsion of three officers from the US embassy –Elizabeth Hundeland, David Mutt, and Kelly Kaiderlinh- for their implication in destabilizing actions against the country.

New arrests: December 20. The Colombian police arrests Alejandro Caicedo Alfonso, alias “Scooby” in Antioquia (Colombia). He stands accused of participation in a plot to assassinate Nicolás maduro and Diosdado Cabello in August 2013.


Generals Implicated: March 25. Maduro announces the arrest of three Air Force generals, allied to the Venezuelan extreme right, who were planning to execute a coup d’état against his government.

Latent conspiracy: May 28. Mayor of Libertador municipality Jorge Rodríguez presented evidence of a plan to assassinate Maduro and other high executive officials. The plot includes Venezuelan opposition members and business people with the support of the US Department of State and the Ambassador of the US in Colombia.

Historical context:

Plan País: a plan by Humberto Prado (director of the NGO Observatorio de Prisiones) to destabilize the country from prison facilities.
Foreign groups: NED, Freedom House, Canvas, AEI, and OTPER, all finance destabilization plans.
Fiesta Mexicana: A meeting of extremist organizations: JAVU (Juventud Activa Venezuela Unida), Movimiento 13, and element s of Voluntad Poplar, including the ex-mayor of Táchira [sic] Daniel Ceballos.
Leopoldo López: Chosen as leader to unite the opposition.
Vicente Fox: Photographs link rightist leaders with the ex-president of México, Vicente Fox. Gustavo Tovar Arrollo, a Venezuelan lawyer that is seen in the pictures, also has links to Uribe.
Tew Cardenas Law Firm: Has a team linked to the US extreme right, works or the Republican Party, and give legal counseling to extremists.
Daktari Camp (2004): Was a magnicidio plan that included 100 paramilitaries. It was one of the first signals of subversive actions.
JAVU Camp (2012): The purpose of the camp was to topple the Chavez government. They were trying to stage a second coup d’état to weaken Chávez in the presidential elections of that year.

Funding: The authorities have seized envelopes with money to finance the so called “guarimbas”. The money is to pay violent protestors to destabilize the country under the leadership of “El Aviador”.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rodríguez Torres: we respected human rights even when dealing with extreme Right conspiracy

Yesterday during the Regional Meeting of UNASUR in Caracas to discuss human rights and citizen’s security, Venezuela’s Interior and Justice Minister, Miguel Rodríguez Torres explained that in the previous regimes the intelligence police service (then called DISIP) “was an institution outside of the law. They did everything they wanted with the human rights of Venezuelans. The DISIP was involved in the banishment of people, torture, and the murdering of many Venezuelans for political reasons.”

Instead, according to the Minister, the current Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia (SEBIN) is an institution that upholds human rights. The proof of this is the way in which the SEBIN and the National Guard dealt with the opposition protests at the beginning of this year: “We broke the guarimbas [street barricades]. It was three months of a conspiracy on the streets by the extreme Right that wanted to reach power by violent means, and we did this with a maximum respect to human rights, and whenever and officer incurred in any violation, we proceeded immediately. We have several officers that are facing trials for the use of fire arms of for having mistreated Venezuelans,” said Rodríguez Torres.

Five officers of SEBIN stand accused of having fired live rounds at protesters on 12 February in La Candelaria, Caracas, killing one person and injuring several others. The SEBIN has repeatedly been accused, by the opposition and human rights NGOs, of human rights violations.

(Rodríguez Torres. Image AVN)

Long lines at supermarkets are part of a conspiracy

In televised interview yesterday the Vice-president of the National Assembly, Dario Vivas, explained how the long lines to buy basic goods are not caused by scarcity, but are really part of a plot by the opposition to “generate discontent” and “cause trouble” [meter cizaña].

The conspiracy includes the use of social media as a tool to call people to queue at supermarkets: “When products arrive [at supermarkets] they call people to generate lines, and there are people who just go there to make noise,” explained Vivas.

These supermarket flash mobs, according to Vivas, then turn into the perfect breeding ground for dissident talk: “I recently went to a supermarket and heard a women saying ‘I have a sister and Chávez gave her a pension and Maduro took it away’, that’s what they are saying now: that Chávez is good so they can then go and attack Nicolás [Maduro]. There are people that go to those lines to talk bad about the country or the National Government and thus to generate a sensation of nuisance during the time the citizen is waiting to buy the products.”

A second phase of the plot is the financing of the opposition with funds from smuggling: “When we see that they [the Right] oppose the measures taken by the government such as the implementation of the biometric system to avoid the bachaqueo [buying goods with the purpose of smuggling], this is no coincidence: the Right uses this strategy to generate convulsions or confrontations among the Venezuelan People.”

“Smuggling finances the Right, this is why they are against the fight against smuggling, and they will oppose any measure by the Nacional Government. They are now looking for a justification to restart street protests,” added Vivas.

(Dario Vivas. El Universal) 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Maduro: not government’s policies but the Economic War is responsible for economic crisis

President Maduro presided today over the induction ceremony for the newly established PSUV’s “Commission for the Transition to the Socialist Economic Model and the Struggle against the Economic War”.

“The Economic War is the main mode of war against the revolution,” said Maduro.

According to the President, the team in charge of the struggle against the Economic War, headed by the Superintendent of Fair Prices, Andrés Eloy Méndez, “will dismantle, in a battle which will go on for several years, the forms the Economic War takes against the revolutionary model.”

“The capitalists, the dominant bourgeoisie, and the Empire, have resorted to the Economic War as their main form of fighting in order to dismantle and create chaos in Venezuela’s social life,” explained Maduro.

He also made clear that his government is not responsible for the Venezuela’s economic crisis: “There are still Venezuelans who are confused and believe that the problem is that Maduro has made mistakes in his economic policies. Is Maduro the problem? No. What about the economic war, the smuggling, the extraction of goods. The Right refuses to condemn [the economic war] because they are part of it. And what about the wave of price speculation, the hoarding of products, the international attacks against the accounts of the Republic? Where do they come from?”

Maduro stressed that he will not give in to “neoliberal pressure form the Right, from the capitalists,” to change his economic policies. He also said that his government will not deregulate the prices of basic goods or “liberalize” the exchange control system.

(Image AVN)

PSUV Commission for the Transition to Socialism and Economic War

President Nicolás Maduro announced that the governing party PSUV will stablish a “Commission for Economy and Political Organization” which, according to the Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, “will have two main objectives: to support with proposals the process of transition from the capitalist economic model to a socialist and productive model, and to fight the economic war waged in all its modalities by the Right.”

The part of the Commission devoted to fighting the economic war will be presided by the Superintendent of Just Prices, Andrés Eloy Méndez.

Maduro explained that his functions will be to “continue to formulate the actions for the battle [against the Economic War] in all its manifestations, such as smuggling, speculation, and financial and commercial sabotage.”

(Image AVN) 

Protests are funded by smuggling mafias

The governor of the frontier State of Táchira, José Gregorio Vielma Mora, claims that yesterday’s protests in San Cristobal were funded by smuggling mafias.

“Again Táchira was surprised today with guarimbas [street barricades]. Every time that the government comes down full force against criminal bands, against the capos of the mafias [that smuggle] all the products, they start supporting violence. These people are financed by the smugglers. (…) They have ties to the Empire,” said the governor.

Minister of Interior, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, also declared yesterday that “intelligence networks displayed along the frontier areas of Táchira to fight against smuggling, have detected a group of people linked to the protests in San Cristobal.”

(Image El Universal)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cabello: smuggling, speculation, and hoarding are part of a plan by the bourgeoisie

In his weekly show on public television, the president of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello reasserted the government’s narrative which claims that smuggling and hoarding are not the consequence of economic policies, but instead are part of an “economic war”, which is producing scarcity of basic goods and aims at destabilizing Venezuela’s government.

“What we are going through is an economic war that wants to bleed our country, that wants to even take away the medicines. (…) The leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chávez, made clear that there are only two economic models: capitalism, defended by sectors of the right, and socialism, which is the only system that can continue to guarantee social justice to the people,” said Cabello.

He added that “smuggling, speculation, and hoarding are part of a plan by the bourgeoisie and by some groups of the opposition who are justifying this scourge that is harming the Venezuelan economy. The Right says that if we attack smuggling we are not solving the problem, but we will continue to attack it, because the smuggling mafias are finding a lot of support among the opposition. Silence [by the opposition] means support [of smuggling], it means complicity.”

(Image by AVN) 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Arreaza: irregular patterns indicate economic war

Vice-president Jorge Arreaza thanked the Bolivarian Armed Forces for defending the Venezuelan people against what the Agencia Venezolana de Noticias (AVN) called “the economic war, of speculation and hoarding of basic products that has been waged by sectors of the extreme right with the aim of destabilizing the country.”

Arreaza also told Armed Forces officers attending a special seminar in Fuerte Tiuna, that they should mistrust anyone who criticized the recent counter-smuggling measures taken by the government, such as the closing of the border with Colombia:

“Those who criticize the measures either have a direct interest in the smuggling mafias or want to destabilize, they want people to continue suffering long lines to buy products,” said the vice-president.

According to the AVN press note on the seminar: “Arreaza reminded the public that the attacks and the boycott against the stability of the Venezuelan economy began at the end of 2012, and we can see this reflected –he said- in the economic indicators, which have since then presented an irregular pattern. This pattern intensified with the passing of the Comandante of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chávez, on March 5, 2013.”

(Image form AVN)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Smuggling is part of an articulated plan

In an interview for Venezolana de Televisión (VTV), Iliana Medina, leader of the pro-government party Patria Para Todos (PPT), declared that she is convinced that the smuggling of products from Venezuela to Colombia is part of a political plan to “dismantle” the revolution.

“The opposition has said that the economic system has failed, and that it needs to be changed. (…) On the other hand we have smuggling, which is the expression of a very strongly articulated web of diverse sectors linked to the economy, (…) but it becomes a plan to dismantle the whole revolutionary vision of rights that Chávez promoted with such strength,” said Medina.

The interviewer pressured her by suggesting the possibility that smuggling could be the result of certain economic conditions. Medina responded that a “plan of this nature” does in fact need those economic conditions, however to discover the plan it is necessary to look into the opinions of the opposition criticizing the recent measures taken by the government to control smuggling.

El contrabando es parte de un plan articulado

En una entrevista transmitida por VTV, La Secretaria del partido pro-gobierno Patria Para Todos (PPT), Iliana Medina ha informado que está convencida de que el contrabando es parte de un plan político para desmontar la revolución.

“La oposición ha dicho que el sistema económico ha fallado y por lo tanto hay que cambiarlo. (…) Por otro lado tenemos el contrabando que es la expresión de un entramado con una articulación muy fuerte de diversos sectores vinculados al hecho económico, (…) pero que se convierte en un plan para desmontar toda la visión revolucionaria de derechos que el presidente Chávez promovió con mucha fuerza”, declaró Medina.

Presionada por el entrevistador sobre la posibilidad de que el contrabando sea el producto de ciertas condiciones económicas, Medina responde que esas condiciones son necesarias para “desarrollar un plan de esta naturaleza”, pero lo que habría que hacer para descubrir el plan, es “hacer seguimiento” a las opiniones de la oposición críticas de las últimas medidas de cierre nocturno de las fronteras.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Smuggling is part of the economic war

President Maduro declared via twitter that the smuggling of basic subsidized products from Venezuela to Colombia is part of the Economic War he claims is being waged against Venezuela.

“Smuggling is a vice that harms the economic life of our countries and only benefits the parasitic mafias that plunder our people. Smuggling is part of the economic war against the country. We must continue the struggle to defeat it and to achieve a healthy economy,” wrote Maduro (@NicolasMaduro).

As part of the agreements reached by Maduro with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Venezuela will be deploying 17,000 army officials at key frontier points, and border crossings will be closed from 10pm to 5am.

Criticisms of the measures were denounced by Maduro as part of an “anti-patriotic” campaign: “To the mass media of the parasitic bourgeoisie: enough with this anti-patriotic campaign.”

(Image from El Universal)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Conflict with airlines is part of the economic war

Airlines are having problems in Venezuela, not as a consequence of the distortions caused by money exchange controls, but because they are waging a war against Venezuelans who want to fly abroad, according to President Maduro. This “small war” fought by the airlines is part of the broader “economic war” against the country.

“They are trying a small war [guerrita] to take away from us our flights abroad, as a part of the economic war. I have been very clear with the international airlines: any business that tries to leave or to blackmail Venezuela, is a business that won’t be allowed to return,” warned Maduro.