By Greg Palast for Vice Magazine
Thursday, March 14, 2013
London, February 2002. A tiny, dark and intense woman waited at the end of a lecture until I was alone, brought her face strangely close to mine and whispered, “President Chavez needs you. Right now. To Caracas. Right now. You must come to see him.”
President Who? All I knew about this Hugo Chavez guy was that he was an Latin-American jefe, led a bungled coup and was filled with a lot of populist bullshit and a lot of oil.
And I also knew that no one at BBC Newsnight was going to blow the budget for me to fly to South America to talk about a nation that 92 percent of our viewers couldn’t find on a map and wouldn’t want to.
“Send me an email.”
“There will be a coup. March 15.”
“The Ides of March. I like that. Aren’t there always coups down there?”
“They’ll kill him, undo everything. He needs you to stop it, he wants to explain it to you because he knows you understand.”
Actually, you’d be surprised at the amount I don’t understand at all. “So talk.”
She did – for four hours – and wore me down into submission. But back at Newsnight I looked like an idiot when March 15 came and went with just a little gunfire in Caracas.
Three weeks later, the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, was kidnapped and held hostage by the head of Venezuela’s Chamber of Commerce. Suddenly the BBC had to get me on a plane.
When I got to the Presidential Palace, Chavez was already back at his desk, though the bullet holes in the palace’s walls weren’t yet filled in.
Chavez told me that he’d agreed to be taken hostage by gunmen on the condition that his staff and their trapped children would be allowed to escape. He was bundled into a helicopter, and when it swerved out to sea he assumed he would be pushed out: “I was calm. I was ready.”
So who was behind it?
Chavez gave me information on US military attachés who had met with the plotters. While I couldn’t verify any specific US directive to seize him, I didn’t have to: I had grinning photos of George W Bush’s new US Ambassador, Charles Shapiro, congratulating Chavez’ kidnappers.
The question was, why? Why the need to eliminate Chavez, by coup, by bullet, by propaganda, embargo, or, as we later discovered, by screwing with Venezuela’s vote count?
As a purgative for the crappola fed to Americans about Chavez, my foundation, The Palast Investigative Fund, is offering the film, The Assassination of Hugo Chavez, as a FREE download. Based on Palast’s several meetings with Chavez, his kidnappers and his would-be assassins, filmed for BBC Television. DVDs also available. Watch the Video and share the link.
No doubt that for Bush’s oil-o-crats, Chavez’ doubling the royalties paid by Exxon and Chevron was worth the price of a bullet; but it was no more than the amount that Sarah Palin would seize from the oil companies when she ruled Alaska. So what was it?
The answer was in the movie Network.
“AM I GETTING THROUGH TO YOU, MR. BEALE? The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now THEY MUST GIVE IT BACK!
“It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity. You are an old man who thinks in terms of national and peoples. THERE ARE NO NATIONS. There are no peoples. There is only ONE HOLISTIC SYSTEM OF SYSTEM, one vast and immense, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars. Electro-dollars. Multi-dollars. IT IS THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM OF CURRENCY which determines the totality of life on this planet. Am I getting through to you? ”
Third World nations are not supposed to keep the dollars paid to suck out their oil and mineral blood. For every dollar US consumers pay the Saudis for their oil, about $1.24 is given back as Saudis return the funds by purchasing US Treasury debt or hunks of US banks, CitiCorp for one.
Above: World Capital Flow 2005, from Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast
In 2005, the US spent $227 billion in Latin America, sapping its properties and resources. But the money turned right around and, added to the funds sent to Miami by Latin America’s elite, immediately became a $379 million loan to the US Treasury and financiers.
Argentina leant the US at 4 percent interest, then had to borrow its own money back at 16 percent – the whirring wheel, this grinder, left school teachers in Buenos Aires hunting in garbage cans for food. Riots followed and – in Peru, Ecuador, Argentina and elsewhere – this led to tanks in the street, currency collapse, crisis and the “rescue” by the IMF. Rescue meant forcing the mass sell-off of state industries, from oil to water systems, to the crushing of labour unions and to swallowing the whole bottle of poisons kept by the elite of the Northern Hemisphere for just such occasions.
And that was the plan. Literally. I’ve held the proof in my hands, about five thousand pages of financial agreements, all labelled “confidential” and “not to be distributed except by authorised persons”, which bore benign titles like “World Bank Poverty Reduction Strategy, Argentina.”
Why would the IMF, World Bank and the bankers not want to make their wonderful plans for reducing poverty public? It was for the same reason the finance ministers who signed the documents didn’t even tell their own presidents: they were in fact “reduce-to-poverty” plans, complete resource surrender.
For these deliberately bankrupted nations, it was sign or starve. Until Hugo Chavez came along. Early on, Chavez withdrew $20 billion of Venezuela’s money leant to the US Federal Reserve, to create a giant micro-lending programme for his citizens. Then he went a step too far, establishing what the Wall Street Journal called, “a tropical IMF”.
In 2000 and after, when the IMF and banks moved to financially strangle these nations by making their debts unsalable, Hugo Chavez would roll up in his oil-gilded chariot. He effectively underwrote Argentina’s debt, providing 250million dollars worth of loans, and assistance to Ecuador. After Enron seized Argentina’s water system and Occidental seized Ecuador’s oil fields, Argentina’s President Nestor Kirchner, followed by Ecuador’s Correa, told US banks to go fuck themselves. And the IMF, too.
Then there was the big one: Brazil. The World Bank/IMF “Poverty Reduction Strategy” for Brazil required the nation to close its publicly-owned banks, to sell off its vast oil properties, to give away its power industry and, to please the new foreign owners, slash wages and pensions. But with Chavez prepared to back up its new President, Lula Ignacio de Silva, the mighty little man from the Socialist Workers Party could tell the IMF to stick it where the free market don’t shine.
The late Hugo Chavez wearing the author’s hat
For the first time in contemporary history, resource states refused to give back the money received for their resource. At Chavez’ funeral, Lula, former President Ignacio de Silva of Brazil, praised this as Chavez’ most revolutionary act.
Now, instead of billions flowing North, Latin American capital was staying in Latin America. It is delicious irony that the European and American financiers, fleeing from the economic conflagration they’d ignited in their home countries, are loading their loot onto planes for Brazil. And that Venezuela’s central bank made a mint on its intra-continental loans.
And so, a coup was called for.
In 2002, Chavez’ oil company chief, Ali Rodriguez, told me: “America can’t let us stay in power. We are the exception to the New Globalisation Order. If we succeed, we are an example to all the Americas.”
That you were, Hugo Chavez. That you are, Venezuela. And all the Americas are ready.
Ron Paul, the only remaining official opponent to Mitt Romney in the 2012 Republican presidential primary, and Bernanke ate together at the Federal Reserve‘s headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, during which they had what Paul described as “sort of an open discussion,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
The meeting was certainly an odd one, as the two leaders are not exactly similarly-minded, as Ben Bernanke heads the Federal Reserve and the Texas Congressman led a hearing on Tuesday to consider proposals to end or overhaul the Fed .
LEARN MORE ABOUT Fake Al Qaeda HERE
The latest unwitting recipient of a posthumous Mormon baptism was revealed as murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl — much to his parents’ chagrin.
Pearl, who was captured and killed by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002, received the Mormon rite on June 1, 2011, in Twin Falls, Idaho, the Boston Globe reported.
The Jewish reporter is among a number of people who were baptized by proxy without any authorization — a group that includes Anne Frank and other Holocaust victims.
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel called for the end of the ritual posthumous baptism of Jews after learning the names of his late father and grandfather were entered in a baptism database.
The parents of Pearl, 38, gently chided the Mormon Church for the baptism of their slain son.
“We appreciate your good intentions but rest assured that Danny’s soul was redeemed through the life that he lived and the values that he upheld,” said an e-mail from his parents, Judea and Ruth Pearl.
“He lived as a proud Jew, died as a proud Jew and is currently facing his creator as a Jew,” the Pearls wrote to the Globe. “For the record, let it be clear: Danny did not choose to be baptized, nor did his family consent to this un-called-for ritual.”
Church officials, in a statement to the Boston newspaper, agreed that the submission of Pearl’s name for baptism was a violation of church protocol.
“It is distressing when an individual willfully violates the church’s policy and something that should be understood to be an offering based on love and respect becomes a source of contention,” said church spokesman Michael Purdy.
The baptisms are performed by Mormons in an effort to allow non-Mormons an opportunity at eternal salvation.
By Paul Craig Roberts
February 20, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — In 2010 the FBI invaded the homes of peace activists in several states and seized personal possessions in what the FBI–the lead orchestrator of fake “terrorist plots”–called an investigation of “activities concerning the material support of terrorism.”
Subpoenas were issued to compel antiwar protestors to testify before grand juries as prosecutors set about building their case that opposing Washington’s wars of aggression constitutes giving aid and comfort to terrorists. The purpose of the raids and grand jury subpoenas was to chill the anti-war movement into inaction.
Last week in one fell swoop the last two remaining critics of Washington/Tel Aviv imperialism were removed from the mainstream media. Judge Napolitano’s popular program, Freedom Watch, was cancelled by Fox TV, and Pat Buchanan was fired by MSNBC. Both pundits had wide followings and were appreciated for speaking frankly.
Many suspect that the Israel Lobby used its clout with TV advertisers to silence critics of the Israeli government’s efforts to lead Washington to war with Iran. Regardless, the point before us is that the voice of the mainstream media is now uniform. Americans hear one voice, one message, and the message is propaganda. Dissent is tolerated only on such issues as to whether employer-paid health benefits should pay for contraceptive devices. Constitutional rights have been replaced with rights to free condoms.
The western media demonizes those at whom Washington points a finger. The lies pour forth to justify Washington’s naked aggression: the Taliban are conflated with al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, Gaddafi is a terrorist and, even worse, fortified his troops with Viagra in order to commit mass rape against Libyan women.
President Obama and members of Congress along with Tel Aviv continue to assert that Iran is making a nuclear weapon despite public contradiction by the US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate. According to news reports, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta told members of the House of Representatives on February 16 that “Tehran has not made a decision to proceed with developing a nuclear weapon.” http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_19978801?source=rss However, in Washington facts don’t count. Only the material interests of powerful interest groups matter.
At the moment the american Ministry of Truth is splitting its time between lying about Iran and lying about Syria. Recently, there were some explosions in far away Thailand, and the explosions were blamed on Iran. Last October the FBI announced that the bureau had uncovered an Iranian plot to pay a used car salesman to hire a Mexican drug gang to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the US. The White House idiot professed to believe the unbelievable plot and declared that he had “strong evidence,” but no evidence was ever released. The purpose for announcing the non-existent plot was to justify Obama’s sanctions, which amount to an embargo–an act of war–against Iran for developing nuclear energy.
As a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, Iran has the right to develop nuclear energy. IAEA inspectors are permanently in Iran and report no diversion of nuclear material to a weapons program.
In other words, according to the reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the US National Intelligence Estimate, and the current Secretary of Defense, there is no evidence that Iran has nukes or is making nukes. Yet, Obama has placed illegal sanctions on Iran and continues to threaten Iran with military attack on the basis of an accusation that is contradicted by all known evidence.
How can such a thing happen? It can happen because there is no Helen Thomas, who also was eliminated by the Israel Lobby, to question, as a member of the White House press, President Obama why he placed war-like sanctions on Iran when his own CIA and his own Secretary of Defense, along with the IAEA, report that there is no basis for the sanctions.
The idea that the US is a democracy when it most definitely does not have a free watchdog press is laughable. But the media is not laughing. It is lying. Just like the government, every time the US mainstream media opens its mouth or writes one word, it is lying. Indeed, its corporate masters pay its employees to tell lies. That is their job. Tell the truth, and you are history like Buchanan and Napolitano and Helen Thomas.
What the Ministry of Truth calls “peaceful protesters brutalized by Assad’s military” are in fact rebels armed and financed by Washington. Washington has fomented a civil war. Washington claims its intention is to rescue the oppressed and abused Syrian people from Assad, just as Washington rescued the oppressed and abused Libyan people from Gaddafi. Today “liberated” Libya is a shell of its former self terrorized by clashing militias. Thanks to Obama, another country has been destroyed.
Reports of atrocities committed against Syrian civilians by the military could be true, but the reports come from the rebels who desire Western intervention to put them into power. Moreover, how would these civilian casualties differ from the ones inflicted on Bahraini civilians by the US supported Bahraini government, the military of which was fortified by Saudi Arabian troops? There is no outcry in the western press about Washington’s blind eye to civilian atrocities committed by its puppet states.
How do the Syrian atrocities, if they are real, differ from Washington’s atrocities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo prison, and secret CIA prison sites? Why is the american Ministry of Truth silent about these massive, unprecedented, violations of human rights?
Remember also the reports of Serbian atrocities in Kosovo that Washington and Germany used to justify NATO and US bombing of Serbian civilians, including the Chinese consulate, dismissed as another collateral damage. Now 13 years later, a prominent German TV program has revealed that the photographs that ignited the atrocity campaign were grossly misrepresented and were not photographs of atrocities committed by Serbs, but of Albanian separatists killed in a firefight between armed Albanians and Serbians. Serbian casualties were not shown. http://www.freenations.freeuk.com/news-2012-02-19.html
The problem that truth faces is that the western media continually lies. On the rare instances when the lies are corrected, it is always long after the event and, therefore, the crimes enabled by the media have been accomplished.
Washington set its puppet Arab League upon Syria in order to establish Syria’s isolation among its own kind, the better to attack Syria. Assad forestalled Washington’s set-up of Syria for destruction by calling a nationwide referendum on February 26 to establish a new constitution that would extend the prospect of rule beyond the Ba’athists (Assad’s party).
One might think that, if Washington and its Ministry of Truth really wanted democracy in Syria, Washington would get behind this gesture of good will by the ruling party and endorse the referendum. But Washington does not want a democratic Syrian government. Washington wants a puppet state. Washington’s response is that the dastardly Assad has outwitted Washington by taking steps toward Syrian democracy before Washington can obliterate Syria and install a puppet.
Here is Obama’s response to Assad’s move toward democracy: “It’s actually quite laughable–it makes a mockery of the Syrian revolution,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Obama, the neoconservatives, and Tel Aviv are really pissed. If Washington and Tel Aviv can figure out how to get around Russia and China and overthrow Assad, Washington and Tel Aviv will put Assad on trial as a war criminal for proposing a democratic referendum.
Assad was an eye doctor in England until his father died, and he was called back to head the troubled government. Washington and Tel Aviv have demonized Assad for refusing to be their puppet. Another sore point is the Russian naval base at Tartus. Washington is desperate to evict the Russians from their only Mediterranean base in order to make the Mediterranean an american lake. Washington, inculcated with neocon visions of world empire, wants its own mare nostrum.
If the Soviet Union were still extant, Washington’s designs on Tartus would be suicidal. However, Russia is politically and militarily weaker than the Soviet Union. Washington has infiltrated Russia with NGOs that work against Russia’s interests and will disrupt the upcoming elections. Moreover, Washington-funded “color revolutions” have turned former constituent parts of the Soviet Union into Washington’s puppet states. Shorn of communist ideology, Washington does not expect Russia to push the nuclear button. Thus, Russia is there for the taking.
China is a more difficult problem. Washington’s plan is to cut China off from independent sources of energy. China’s oil investment in eastern Libya is the reason
Gaddafi was overthrown, and oil is one of the main reasons that Washington has targeted Iran. China has large oil investments in Iran and gets 20% of its oil from Iran. Closing down Iran, or converting it into Washington’s puppet state, closes down 20% of the Chinese economy.
Russia and China are slow learners. However, when Washington and its NATO puppets abused the “no-fly” UN resolution concerning Libya and violated the UN resolution by turning it into armed military aggression against Libya’s armed forces, which had every right to put down a CIA sponsored rebellion, Russia and China finally got the message that Washington could not be trusted.
This time Russia and China did not fall into Washington’s trap. They vetoed the UN Security Council’s set-up of Syria for military attack. Now Washington and Tel Aviv (it is not always clear which is the puppet and which is the puppet master) have to decide whether to proceed in the face of Russian and Chinese opposition.
The risks for Washington have multiplied. If Washington proceeds, the information that is conveyed to Russia and China is that they are next in line after Iran. Therefore, Russia and China, both being well-armed with nuclear weapons, are likely to put their foot down more firmly at the line drawn over Iran. If the crazed warmongers in Washington and Tel Aviv, with veins running strong with hubris and arrogance, again override Russian and Chinese opposition, the risk of a dangerous confrontation rises.
Why isn’t the american media raising questions about these risks? Is it worth blowing up the world in order to stop Iran from having a nuclear energy program or even a nuclear weapon? Does Washington think China is unaware that Washington is taking aim at its energy supply? Does Washington think Russia is unaware that it is being encircled by hostile military bases?
Whose interests are being served by Washington’s endless and multi-trillion dollar wars? Certainly not the interests of the 50 million americans with no access to health care, nor the 1,500,000 american children who are homeless, living in cars, rundown motel rooms, tent cities, and the storm sewers under Las Vegas, while huge amounts of public funds are used to bail out banks and squandered in wars of hegemony. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suJCvkazrTc
The US has no independent print and TV media. It has presstitutes who are paid for the lies that they tell. The US government in its pursuit of its immoral aims has attained the status of the most corrupt government in human history. Yet Obama speaks as if Washington is the font of human morality.
The US government does not represent americans. It represents a few special interests and a foreign power. US citizens simply don’t count, and certainly Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, Somalians, Yemenis, and Pakistanis don’t count. Washington regards truth, justice, and mercy as laughable values. Money, power, hegemony are all that count for Washington, the city upon the hill, the light unto nations, the example for the world.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. www.paulcraigroberts.org