Sat May 4, 2019, 11:33 PM

Why Wont Maduro Let US Humanitarian Aid Into Venezuela? History.

Last edited Sun May 5, 2019, 12:29 AM - Edit history (1)

by Ted Snider Posted on March 05, 2019

The mainstream media is full of images and stories of Venezuela’s inhumanely authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro pushing American offerings of humanitarian aid away from Venezuela’s border with Columbia.

The mainstream media serves us up our offerings of news as if each headline story was an isolated event, floating alone on an ahistorical sea, unmoored from the events that came before it. Severed from its causes and context, the event can be created for the public in an original, but misleading, way. Restoring the history can clarify the story and prevent its misappropriation.

In the current case of U.S. aid to Venezuela, the restoration of the picture requires at least four pieces of history being painted back into the picture.

The Bridge: Pictures Don’t Lie. People Do.

The story of Maduro’s neglect of his people and his rejection of American aid begins on the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge that connects Venezuela to Columbia.

US officials and the mainstream media cried the same complaint in unison. America had tried to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Venezuela, and their illegitimate ruler had blocked the bridge and kept it out. But the cry and the photos of the bridge had been manipulatively severed from history. Maduro didn’t block the bridge because it was already blocked, and he couldn’t close the bridge because it had never been opened. Most of the barriers have been there for years because, after the bridge was built in 2015, it has never been opened.

And yet, that image of a stone hearted Maduro was used to cement public opinion against him. The images join a long history of pictures being presented out of historical context to mold public opinion and justify intervention.

The chorus of cries and photographs later went on to claim that Maduro’s national guard had set the aid trucks on fire. But as the event on the bridge had been severed from the history that came before it, so the picture of the burning trucks had been presented in the media severed from the pictures that came before it. As Max Blumenthal has reported, footage, photographs and video taken before the photographs of the burning trucks seem to clearly prove that the aid trucks were set alight by the masked and violent members of the opposition.

USAID & History

Why would Maduro resist humanitarian aid from American organizations like USAID? For the same reason the Red Cross and the United Nations are.

The US is not offering to coordinate aid with organizations working within Venezuela. Maduro has proven very willing to work with aid organizations working in Venezuela. The United States is offering to parachute aid in over the head of Maduro to discredit him and give credit and credibility to the self-declared government of Juan Guaidó. Or, if the aid fails to get in, to paint Maduro as the heartless dictator who chose hanging on to power over feeding his people.

It is for this reason that, not only Maduro, but many international aid agencies have refused to approve of, or participate in, the aid operation. "The United Nations warned . . . against using aid as a pawn in Venezuela after the United States sent food and medicine to the country’s border and accused President Nicolas Maduro of blocking its delivery with trucks and shipping containers." U.N. spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric added that "Humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or other objectives."

The Red cross agreed, saying that "the initiative organized by the Venezuelan opposition is too political." Caritas, the humanitarian arm of the Catholic Church, also refused to participate in the aid campaign.

But there are other historical reasons for being suspicious of USAID as an agent of humanitarian help that need to be edited back into the picture. USAID and other related organizations have long played a role in fomenting and financing coups in Venezuela, Latin America and around the world. Between 2002 and 2016, at least $90 million from US has poured into Venezuela. A May 2010 report found that the Venezuelan opposition was receiving $40-50 million a year from European and American government organizations, including USAID, for "political activities," including coup attempts, economic sabotage and funding of opposition electoral campaigns.

The United States publicly boasted that, leading up to the Ukrainian coup, it had invested over $5 billion dollars through organizations like USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

More recently, and more locally, the NED and related organizations have been revealed to have spent over $4 million "laying the groundwork for insurrection" in Nicaragua.

What’s Hiding in Humanitarian Aid?

There is another historical reason for Maduro to fear allowing American humanitarian aid into Venezuela that is largely edited out of the mainstream media discussion. American humanitarian aid has historically been used as a Trojan horse for sneaking weapons in to a country to support opposition groups.

Venezuelans and the people of Latin America remember this because in 1986, Nicaragua was the recipient of just such an operation. They have learned to beware of Americans bearing gifts.

In 1986, the Reagan Administration snuck military aid to the Nicaraguan contras by cloaking it in humanitarian aid. Decisions on the secret weapons program were made by a special group that included then Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams. On one known occasion, the US flew humanitarian aid to Honduras. The plane then flew to El Salvador where it picked up seven tons of weapons that were airdropped into Nicaragua. At least twice, the US flew "mixed cargoes" on planes that were carrying weapons mixed in to the cargo of humanitarian aid.

Elliott Abrams later "defended his role in authorizing the shipment of weapons on a humanitarian aid flight to Nicaraguan rebels, saying the operation was ”strictly by the book.” Abrams was responding to "statements by Robert Duemling, former head of the State Department’s Nicaraguan humanitarian assistance office, who said he had twice ordered planes to shuttle weapons for the contras on aid planes at Mr. Abrams’s direction in early 1986."

That same Elliott Abrams is now the US special envoy for Venezuela.

But using humanitarian aid to smuggle money and weapons into countries did not start in Latin America, and it did not start in 1986. That covert strategy goes back three quarters of a century to the beginnings of the CIA and the end of the second world war. The Marshall plan was promoted as a plan to rebuild Europe after World War II to seal it against communism. But, as explained by CIA expert John Prados in his book Safe for Democracy, the CIA used that humanitarian aid vehicle to hide the source of money being poured into Europe for propaganda and political actions. From 1951 to the closing of the Marshall Plan in 1952, at the request of Frank Wisner, the head of CIA covert operations, Marshall Plan funds were diverted for covert programs. Prados says that several organizations have been used, or set up, by the CIA to funnel funds and that the CIA’s role is often concealed by funneling money through legitimate foundations.

And it wasn’t only happening in Europe. In another early Trojan Horse operation that looked a lot like Nicaragua, the US used humanitarian aid planes to drop weapons into Laos. In the 1960’s, "hard rice" was a euphemism for military supplies that were disguised as food. According to Prados, in his book The Ghosts of Langley, weapons were flown into Laos on humanitarian aid planes flown by Air America. Air America pilots developed the cynical code word to distinguish their legal cargo from their illegal cargo: "soft rice" meant food and "hard rice" meant arms.



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Reply Why Wont Maduro Let US Humanitarian Aid Into Venezuela? History. (Original post)
RCW2014 May 2019 OP
Grumpy Pickle May 2019 #1
RCW2014 May 2019 #2
Grumpy Pickle May 2019 #3

Response to RCW2014 (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2019, 12:21 AM

1. Elliot Abrams....Neocon POS.

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Response to Grumpy Pickle (Reply #1)

Sun May 5, 2019, 12:52 AM

2. Elliott Abrams: A Human Rights Horror Show in Three Acts

by BRETT WILKINS FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Last Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Elliott Abrams would once again be returning to government, this time as President Donald Trump’s special envoy to help “fully restore democracy and prosperity” to Venezuela. Abrams, 71, is best known for abetting dictators and genocide in Latin America and for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal during the Ronald Reagan administration, as well as for his ardent support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and for green-lighting a failed coup in Venezuela while serving in the George W. Bush administration. He is as reviled by countless Latin Americans as he is revered among neocons who pine for a more muscular US role in the hemisphere and beyond. What follows is an overview of the human rights horror show that has been Abrams’ government career, which now spans three presidential administrations over four decades.

Act I: Dictators, Death Squads and Drug Dealers

During the last decade of the Cold War, the Reagan administration staunchly supported right-wing military dictatorships throughout Latin America. The US was also instrumental in the creation and training of these regimes’ military officers, troops and security forces, some of whom committed assassinations, massacres and even genocidal violence with tacit, and sometimes open, American backing. The Reagan administration also covertly — and illegally — supported the brutal Contra rebels as they waged a terrorist war against the democratically elected government of Nicaragua. This was the state of affairs at the State Department when Abrams was hired in 1981, first as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs and then as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.

No Reagan administration official worked harder to subvert human rights in the Americas than Elliott Abrams. After the Atlacatl Battalion, an elite Salvadoran army unit created at the US Army School of the Americas, carried out a series of horrific massacres including the wholesale slaughter of more than 900 villagers at El Mozote in December 1981, Abrams praised the murderous battalion’s “professionalism” while attacking reports of casualty figures and the journalists who reported them. He also whitewashed Contra atrocities as well as those of the genocidal regime of General Efrían Ríos Montt in Guatemala, the Argentinian military junta — which wasstealing and selling the babies of its victims at the time — and other pro-US, anti-communist regimes.

Abrams was point man on Reagan’s Panama pivot, in which drug-dealing dictator General Manuel Noriega was quickly transformed from friend to foe. When asked in October 1987 if the US was trying to destabilize Noriega’s regime, Abrams replied with a straight face that “Panama should not be run by a general; it should be run by an elected civilian government.” Meanwhile, the US supported military dictatorships across the region and around the world while going out of its way — and outside the law — to destroy the elected civilian government in neighboring Nicaragua.

Late in 1986 the world learned of a secret arms-for-hostages deal between the Reagan administration and US archenemy Iran. The US also used proceeds from the arms sale to fund the Contras, who also trafficked drugs to bankroll their insurgency. Both the Iran deal and supporting the Contra terrorists were illegal. It would emerge that Abrams, who worked closely with key Iran-Contra criminal Colonel Oliver North, knew about North’s efforts to illegally assist the Contras and was “directly involved in secretly seeking third-country contributions” to the rebels. Reagan was infuriated by press snooping into this dirty Contra war. Once again, the president called on his attack dog Abrams, who launched a smear campaign against Robert Parry and Brian Barger of the Associated Press, two of the first journalists who reported on Contra drug running. The pair were even falsely accused of poisoning Oliver North’s dog to death.

Federal prosecutors prepared multiple felony counts against Abrams for his role in the scandal but he was never indicted; instead he cooperated with the government and struck a deal in which he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress. Neither Abrams nor any of the five other Reagan officials who pleaded guilty in the scandal ever spent a day in prison for their crimes; President George H. W. Bush, who as Reagan’s vice president was himself deeply involved in the Iran-Contra affair, pardoned them all on Christmas Eve in 1992.

Act II: Neoconned

In 1997, prominent neoconservatives William Kristol and Robert Kagan founded the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a think tank dedicated to “the promotion of American global leadership.” PNAC’s roster featured many neocon hawks who would later serve in the George W. Bush administration, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton and Elliot Abrams, who was appointed Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights and International Operations at the National Security Council in June 2001. Many of PNAC’s goals — which included regime change in Iraq — aligned perfectly with George W. Bush’s aggressive post-9/11 foreign policy and PNAC members including Abrams found their power and standing elevated as the US entered the era of never-ending war on terrorism.

But before Iraq there was the matter of a failed coup against Hugo Chávez, the democratically elected president of Venezuela whose socialist reforms — which included nationalizing foreign commercial assets to fund programs of social uplift — infuriated Washington and Wall Street. According to the UK Observer, Abrams had advance knowledge of, and approved, the military coup that removed Chávez from power for 47 hours in April 2002. The coup plotters, who backed pro-US businessman Pedro Carmona for president, reportedly visited the White House several times, with the Bush administration rushing to recognize the illegitimate Carmona regime before Chávez loyalists quickly quashed the brief revolt.

As Bush’s special Middle East adviser, Abrams was one of the key intellectual architects of the 2003 US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. He had long been an enthusiastic advocate of overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime, co-authoring a 1998 letter to President Bill Clinton urging regime change in Baghdad. Iraq wasn’t the only Middle Eastern nation that Abrams helped destabilize. The staunch Zionist, who ran the NSC’s Israel/Palestine desk, has been accused of leading the Bush administration’s effort to subvert the 2006 Palestinian elections to block the formation of a Fatah-Hamas unity government. “It was during Abrams’ tenure in the NSC that the United States lost all credibility as an honest broker among Palestinians,” Eric Alterman wrote in The Nation in 2013.

Act III: Prelude to Regime Change?

President Trump’s hiring of Abrams has perplexed many observers, not only because the president previously rejected him for being critical of his candidacy but also because Trump has repeatedly voiced disdain for neoconservatism. The president has called the Iraq war the “worst single mistake” in US foreign policy history and time and again has roundly rejected core neoconservative ideals including nation building and the spreading of democracy. Nevertheless, Abrams is now the second prominent Bush-era neoconservative after National Security Advisor John Bolton to be hired by Trump.

This is an ominous development for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and the millions of Venezuelans who still support him and the Bolivarian Revolution despite his increasingly authoritarian rule. Last September, theNew York Times reported Trump administration officials held secret talks with coup-minded Venezuelan military officers to discuss overthrowing Maduro. If Trump, who has repeatedly raised the possibility of invading Venezuela, embraces regime change in Caracas — which many believe he already has by recognizing presidential pretender Juan Guaidó — Abrams will certainly play a starring role in what is sure to be a brutally bloody affair. It will be a fitting third act in the human rights horror show that is Elliott Abrams’ appalling career.

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Response to RCW2014 (Reply #2)

Sun May 5, 2019, 01:06 AM

3. ...

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