Articles2017-09-08T23:48:22+01:00

Which Government Does the US Recognise in Venezuela?

By |9/January/2023|

Despite the Venezuelan opposition having dissolved Juan Guaidó’s ‘interim government,’ and as President Nicolás Maduro floats negotiations, the US is clinging to its failed strategy.

On 3 January 2023, Shaun Tandon of Agence France-Presse asked US State Department spokesperson Ned Price about Venezuela. In late December, the Venezuelan opposition after a fractious debate decided to dissolve the ‘interim government’ led by Juan Guaidó. From 2019 onward, the US government recognised Guaidó as the ‘interim president of Venezuela.’ With the end of Guaidó’s administration, Tandon asked if ‘the United States still recognise[s] Juan Guaidó as legitimate interim president.’

Price’s answer was that the US government recognises the ‘only remaining democratically elected institution in Venezuela today, and that’s the 2015 National Assembly.’ It is true that when the US government supported Guaidó as the ‘interim president’ of Venezuela, it did so because of his role as the rotating president in that National Assembly in 2019. Since the presidency of the National Assembly rotates annually, Guaidó should have left the position of ‘interim president’ by the end of 2020. But he did not, going against Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution of 1999, which he cited as the basis for his ascension in 2019.

Price said, ‘The 2015 National Assembly has renewed its mandate.’ However, that assembly was dissolved since its term expired and it was replaced – after an election in December 2020 – by another National Assembly. The US government called the 2020 election a ‘political farce.’ But when I met the leaders of Venezuela’s two historic opposition parties in Venezuela in 2020 – Pedro José Rojas of Acción Democrática (AD) and Juan Carlos Alvarado of Comité de Organización Política Electoral Independiente (COPEI) – they told me that the 2020 election was legitimate and that they just did not know how to overrun the massive wave of Chavista voters. Since the members of the new assembly took their seats, the 2015 assembly has not set foot in the Palacio Federal Legislativo, which houses the National Assembly, near Plaza Bolívar in Caracas.

In essence, then, the US government believes that the real democratic institution in Venezuela is one that has not met in seven years, and one whose political forces decided –against the advice of AD and COPEI – to boycott the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, in early January 2023, Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro spoke with veteran journalist Ignacio Ramonet. Maduro told Ramonet that he is ‘prepared for dialogues at the highest level and with relations of respect.’ He hoped that ‘a halo of light’ would reach the office of US President Joe Biden and allow the United States to put its ‘extremist policy aside.’ Not only did Ned Price refuse this olive branch, but he also said that the US approach to ‘Nicolás Maduro is not changing.’ This is an awkward statement since members of Price’s own government went to Caracas in March and June of 2022 to meet with the Maduro administration and talk about the normalisation of oil sales and the release of detained US citizens.

Meanwhile, Tandon’s question hangs over the White House.

This article was produced by

Indestructible Podcast #16 – Operation Condor Through Film

By |24/December/2022|

In the 16th episode of Indestructible Rodrigo speaks to Argentinian filmmaker Rodrigo Vázquez about Operation Condor, a US-backed campaign of state terror in South America.

Indestructible: Latin America with Rodrigo Acuña is a podcast from Alborada bringing you monthly discussions with some of the most interesting voices working on and from Latin America.

In this 16th episode of Indestructible Podcast, Rodrigo interviews Argentinian filmmaker Rodrigo Vázquez about Operation Condor, a coordinated operation between the intelligence organisations of the dictatorships of the southern cone of South America during the 1970s and 80s.

The podcast is available on Spotify and other podcast streaming website.

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::: Episode 16:

Operation Condor Through Film. With Rodrigo Vázquez

Listen to episode 16 on Audioboom and a range of other podcast streaming websites

Watch the episode here or below. 

Click here to go to the Indestructible homepage.

Presented by Alborada contributing editor Rodrigo Acuña

Produced and edited by Pablo Navarrete

Music by Chylez Productions.

Please consider supporting the podcast on Patreon.

Get in touch with the podcast: info [at] alborada [dot] net

The Americas Uncovered Podcast #2 – Central America’s Forgotten History

By |16/December/2022|

In episode two of our new podcast, Peter Watt interviews Aviva Chomsky about her recent book Central America’s Forgotten History.

You can now listen to episode two of our new podcast, The Americas Uncovered, hosted by Dr Peter Watt of Sheffield University in the UK. In this episode, Peter speaks to Aviva Chomsky, Professor of Latin American Studies at Salem State University in Massachusetts, USA, about her recent book Central America’s Forgotten History: Revolution, Violence, and the Roots of Migration.

Presented by Dr Peter Watt (University of Sheffield, UK) // Produced by Pablo Navarrete and Nick MacWilliam // Music by Peter Watt // Artwork by Simon Díaz-Cuffin

Listen to the podcast here or below.

The US Egged on the Coup in Peru

By |15/December/2022|

The US swiftly legitimised last week’s coup against President Pedro Castillo, the culmination of Fujimori-led attempts to destabilise his government.

On 7 December 2022, Pedro Castillo sat in his office on what would be the last day of his presidency of Peru. His lawyers went over spreadsheets that showed Castillo would triumph over a motion in Congress to remove him. This was going to be the third time that Castillo faced a challenge from the Congress, but his lawyers and advisers – including former prime minister Anibal Torres – told him that he held an advantage over the Congress in opinion polls (his approval rating had risen to 31 per cent, while that of the Congress was just about 10 per cent).

Castillo had been under immense pressure for the past year from an oligarchy that disliked this former teacher. In a surprise move, he announced to the press on 7 December that he was going to ‘temporarily dissolve the Congress’ and ‘[establish] an exceptional emergency government.’ This measure sealed his fate. Castillo and his family rushed toward the Mexican embassy in Lima but were arrested by the military along Avenida España before they could get there.

Why did Pedro Castillo take the fatal step of trying to dissolve Congress when it was clear to his advisers – such as Luis Alberto Mendieta – that he would prevail in the afternoon vote?

The pressure got to Castillo, despite the evidence. Ever since his election in July 2021, his opponent in the presidential election, Keiko Fujimori, and her associates have tried to block his ascension to the presidency. She worked with men who have close ties with the US government and its intelligence agencies. A member of Fujimori’s team, Fernando Rospigliosi, for instance, had in 2005 tried to involve the US embassy in Lima against Ollanta Humala, who contested in the 2006 Peruvian presidential election. Vladimiro Montesinos, a former CIA asset who is serving time in a prison in Peru, sent messages to Pedro Rejas, a former commander in Peru’s army, to go ‘to the US Embassy and talk with the embassy intelligence officer.’ to try and influence the 2021 Peruvian presidential election.

Just before the election, the United States sent a former CIA agent, Lisa Kenna, as its ambassador to Lima. She met Peru’s Minister of Defence, Gustavo Bobbio, on 6 December and sent a denunciatory tweet against Castillo’s move to dissolve Congress the next day (on 8 December, the US government – through Ambassador Kenna – recognised Peru’s new government after Castillo’s removal).

A key figure in the pressure campaign appears to have been Mariano Alvarado, operations officer of the Military Assistance and Advisory Group (MAAG), who functions effectively as the US Defence attaché. We are told that officials such as Alvarado, who are in close contact with the Peruvian military generals, gave them the greenlight to move against Castillo. It is being said that the last phone call that Castillo

Peru’s Oligarchy Overthrows President Castillo

By |11/December/2022|

The coup against Peruvian president Pedro Castillo is a major setback for the current wave of progressive governments in Latin America and the people’s movements that elected them.

6 June 2021 was a day which shocked many in Peru’s oligarchy. Pedro Castillo Terrones, a rural schoolteacher who had never before been elected to office, won the second round of the presidential election with just over 50.13 per cent of the vote. More than 8.8 million people voted for Castillo’s programme of profound social reforms and the promise of a new constitution against the far-right’s candidate, Keiko Fujimori. In a dramatic turn of events, the historical agenda of neoliberalism and repression, passed down by former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori to his daughter Keiko, was rejected at the polls.

From that day on, still in disbelief, the Peruvian oligarchy declared war on Castillo. They made the next 18 months for the new president a period of great hostility as they sought to destabilise his government with a multi-pronged attack that included significant use of lawfare. With a call to ‘throw out communism,’ plans were made by the oligarchy’s leading business group, the National Society of Industries, to make the country ungovernable under Castillo.

In October 2021, recordings were released that revealed that since June 2021, this group of industrialists, along with other members of Peru’s elite and leaders of the rightwing opposition parties, had been planning a series of actions including financing protests and strikes. Groups of former military personnel, allied with far-right politicians like Fujimori, began to openly call for the violent overthrow of Castillo, threatening government officials and left-leaning journalists.

The right wing in Congress also joined in these plans and attempted to impeach Castillo on two occasions during his first year in office. ‘Since my inauguration as president, the political sector has not accepted the electoral victory that the Peruvian people gave us,’ Castillo said in March 2022. ‘I understand the power of Congress to exercise oversight and political control. However, these mechanisms cannot be exercised by mediating the abuse of the right, proscribed in the constitution, ignoring the popular will expressed at the polls,’ he stressed. It turns out that several of these lawmakers, with support from a rightwing German foundation, had also been meeting regarding how to modify the constitution to quickly remove Castillo from office.

The oligarchic rulers of Peru could never accept that a rural schoolteacher and peasant leader could be brought into office by millions of poor, Black and Indigenous people who saw their hope for a better future in Castillo. However, in the face of these attacks, Castillo became more and more distanced from his political base. Castillo formed four different cabinets to appease the business sectors, each time conceding to rightwing demands to remove leftist ministers who challenged the status quo. He broke with his party Peru Libre when openly challenged by its leaders. He sought help from the already discredited Organization of American States in looking for political solutions instead of mobilising the country’s major peasant and Indigenous movements. By the end,

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The Americas Uncovered Podcast #1 – The Condor Files

By |2/December/2022|

In the first episode of our new podcast The Americas Uncovered, host Dr Peter Watt speaks to Dr Francesca Lessa about her book The Condor Trials.

Peter Watt speaks to Dr Francesca Lessa about her book The Condor Trials: Transnational Repression and Human Rights in South America. 28 November 2022 marks 47 years since the beginning of Operación Cóndor (Operation Condor) a US government backed campaign of state terrorism implemented by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America.

Presented by Dr Peter Watt (University of Sheffield, UK) // Produced by Pablo Navarrete // Music by Peter Watt

Listen to the podcast here or below.

Could China Help Brazil Overcome its Economic Crisis?

By |1/December/2022|

Brazil will need to seek greater balance in its trade agenda if it wants to return to being a solid economy.

The October 30 election victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for a third term as the president of Brazil is expected to revise the relations between Brasília and Beijing.

Brazil is going through a serious economic, political, social and environmental crisis. Fighting poverty, resuming economic growth with income redistribution, reindustrialising the country and reversing environmental abuses are urgent tasks, which will demand unprecedented national and international finesse from the new government.

The economic partnership between Brazil and China, which has advanced greatly in the past two decades, may be one of the keys to reversing the crisis that Brazil faces. But some challenges will need to be faced with diplomacy and strategic planning.

Despite the ‘insults‘ directed by the government of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro toward China, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the inevitable distancing of diplomatic relations between the two countries, bilateral trade has increased.

In 2021, bilateral trade between the two countries reached US$135.4 billion, with Brazil recording a trade surplus of $40 billion with China, which was only surpassed by Taiwan, Australia and South Korea. China has been Brazil’s largest trading partner since 2009, accounting for almost double the volume that Brazil imported from its second-largest partner in 2021, the US ($70.5 billion), with which it recorded a deficit of $8.3 billion.

A profitable but unbalanced relationship

Brazil’s export mix, however, is vulnerable in the long term: It is not very diversified and is based on products of low aggregate value.

The four main products it exports (iron ore, soy, crude oil and animal protein) accounted for 87.7 per cent of total exports to China in 2021. Meanwhile, the exports of Chinese products to Brazil are highly diversified, with a predominance of manufactured products, and with a high technological index. For example, the main import item from China to Brazil (telecommunications equipment) accounted for only 5.9 per cent of imports.

The Brazilian commodities sector, which is an important component of the economy, represented 68.3 per cent of exports by Brazil in the first half of 2022 and has contributed for years to the increase in international reserves.

On the other hand, the commodities sector has a high concentration of wealth, pays few taxes, generates relatively few and low-skill jobs, is subject to cyclical price changes and, in many cases, causes environmental damage, which needs to be better controlled by the state.

In this sense, the initiative announced by COFCO International – the largest buyer of Brazilian food in China – to monitor and prohibit the purchase of soybeans planted in areas of illegal deforestation in Brazil beginning from 2023 was important.

But it will also require the Brazilian state – which has become notorious in recent years for encouraging deforestation and the invasion of Indigenous reserves – to guarantee the effectiveness of the initiative.

China needs Brazil’s natural resources for its development, and Brazil needs the Chinese market for its commodities. But in the medium and long terms, Brazil will need

WATCH: Colombian Senator María José Pizarro on International Solidarity

By |27/November/2022|

An interview with Colombian senator María José Pizarro of the governing Historic Pact coalition.

Following the election of Colombia’s first progressive government, Senator María José Pizarro discusses hopes and challenges facing the governing Historic Pact coalition, as well as the importance of international solidarity to supporting peace and human rights.

This interview was recorded at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, England, on 27 September 2022. The visit was organised by Justice for Colombia.

You can watch Senator Pizarro’s interview below.

 

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