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Posts tagged ‘Nicolás Maduro’

Putin Taunts Obama By Parking Russian Warship 90 Miles Off Florida Coast.



Havana (AFP) – A Russian warship was docked in Havana Wednesday, without explanation from Communist Cuba or its state media.

The boat, measuring 91.5 meters (300 feet) long and 14.5 meters wide, was docked at the port of Havana’s cruise ship area, near the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.

The Vishnya, or Meridian-class intelligence ship, which has a crew of around 200, went into service in the Black Sea in 1988 before it was transferred seven years later to the northern fleet, Russian media sources said.

Neither Cuban authorities nor state media have mentioned the ship’s visit, unlike on previous tours by Russian warships.

The former Soviet Union was Cuba’s sponsor state through three decades of Cold War. After a period of some distancing under former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, the countries renewed their political, economic and military cooperation.

The ship is reportedly armed with 30mm guns and anti-aircraft missiles.

Its visit comes as isolated Havana’s current economic and political patron, Venezuela, is facing unprecedented violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

Cuban President Raul Castro’s Communist government is the Americas’ only one-party regime. source – Yahoo News

by NTEB News Desk

Venezuela Lets CNN Journalists Stay.

CNN’s journalists can remain in Venezuela after all, President Nicolas Maduro said, reversing a day-old move to revoke their credentials and begin expulsion.

Maduro threatened to kick out the network’s journalists if CNN did not “rectify’ its coverage of the country’s anti-government protests, the network reported Friday night.

But Maduro changed course later, and Maduro said CNN could stay.

Maduro had called out CNN along with Fox News and other media from the United States, saying they encouraged the opposition forces.

Story continues below video.

But the brunt of his anger went to CNN, saying its Spanish-language division did “not talk about anything except Venezuela. One hundred percent of the programming until today has been Venezuela. No other Latin American news but Venezuela.”

He also accused CNN of calling for “civil war and hatred” while lying to the world.

“This comes back to the owner of CNN. He is the one who sets the guidelines,” accused Maduro. “And they work with the State Department, and from there they use that network to foment a pretend war among Venezuelans and to say internationally there should be intervention in Venezuela.”

He demanded a “balance based on respect for Venezuelan laws. He who does not respect the laws will not be on Venezuelan airwaves.”

Maduro also, during the press conference, called on President Barack Obama to join him in talks to resolve problems between the United States and Venezuela, saying the meeting would “put the truth out on the table,” reports BBC News.

On Wednesday, Obama urged Venezuela Wednesday to release protesters detained in anti-government demonstrations that turned violent and address the “legitimate grievances” of its people.

During Friday’s state TV broadcast, CNN correspondents Rafael Romo and Karl Penhaul, along with CNN en Español’s Osmary Hernandez were often shown, and Penhaul asked the president about the status of an investigation into the armed theft of CNN’s television equipment during an anti-government protest.

Maduro said the theft was being investigated and that CNN will likely recover its equipment.

Last Sunday, Venezuela threw out three U.S. diplomats, accusing them of meeting with violent groups linked to the opposition, the BBC reports.

The clashes between security forces and protesters have gone on for days, resulting in at least eight deaths, and Maduro accused CNN on Thursday of showing “war propaganda” instead of people “building the homeland.”

The government hours later told seven CNN journalists that their accreditations had been revoked and they must book flights back home.

“CNN has reported both sides of the tense situation in Venezuela, even with very limited access to government officials,” CNN said in a statement, and that when its credentials were revoked, journalists were seeking an interview with the president.

Meanwhile, CNN’s troubles in Venezuela are not over. A top lawmaker and leader of the ruling party said the government is investigating allegations against the network and will “not tremble in acting against those who make an attempt against the motherland.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Obama to Venezuela’s Maduro: Release Prisoners, Address Grievances.

President Barack Obama urged Venezuela Wednesday to release protesters detained in anti-government demonstrations that turned violent and address the “legitimate grievances” of its people.

Obama condemned violence that has marred two weeks of protests in the oil-rich country against the leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro, with four people killed so far.

Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, one of the main actors in the wave of protests, is due for a hearing at the prison where he is held on claims he incited the violence.

Scores of protesters have also been detained.

“Along with the Organization of American States, we call on the Venezuelan government to release protesters it has detained and engage in real dialogue,” Obama told reporters after a North American leaders summit in this Mexican city.

Speaking about unrest in Venezuela and Ukraine, Obama denounced the “unacceptable violence in those two countries which the United States strongly condemns.”

“In Venezuela, rather than trying to distract from its own failings by making up false accusations against diplomats from the United States, the government ought to focus on addressing the legitimate grievances of the Venezuelan people,” Obama said.

“All parties have an obligation to work together to restrain violence and restore calm.”

Venezuela’s relations with Washington, long strained under stalwart leftist leader Hugo Chavez, have remained sour and distrustful under Maduro, who has stuck closely to his predecessor’s policies.

About 100 supporters of jailed opposition leader Lopez rallied Wednesday outside a Caracas court where he had been due to hear charges blaming him for a deadly episode of violence.

Heavy security surrounded the Palace of Justice, blocking streets leading to the building, where the Harvard-educated economist had been scheduled to appear after spending the night in jail.

But his party said in a Twitter message that the hearing had been moved to a military jail. Lopez’s defense attorney Juan Carlos Gutiérrez said a court illegally ordered the change claiming it would protect Lopez’s life.

Lopez’s dramatic surrender to national guard troops at a protest rally Tuesday came after two weeks of protests in the oil-rich country against the leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro is under fire over what critics say is rampant crime, runaway inflation, high unemployment and other economic problems.

After three people were killed in street clashes on February 12, Maduro ordered Lopez’s arrest, blaming him for the violence.

Political scientist Angel Oropeza said the government was walking a tightrope.

“They may hold him for a few days. If they free him right away, it would be a sign of weakness,” said Oropeza, a political science professor at Simon Bolivar University in Caracas.

“But if they hold on to him for a long time, it could fuel the protests even more and the government would come under more international pressure,” he said.

Oropeza said that with the arrest, the only thing the government had achieved was to divert people’s attention away from Venezuela’s economic woes and “shift debate to an area it has always handled better — that of political confrontation.”

On Tuesday, Lopez told thousands of his supporters, all clad in white, that he hoped his arrest would highlight the “unjust justice” in Venezuela. He drew an explosion of cheers from the crowds.

Maduro, speaking to pro-government oil workers dressed in red in the western part of Caracas, countered that Lopez would have to “answer for his calls to sedition.”

Lopez, draped in a Venezuelan flag, suddenly emerged in the crowd on Tuesday on the Plaza Brion, climbing a statue of Cuban independence hero Jose Marti.

After delivering a brief message to his cheering supporters, who had defied a ban on the march, he surrendered to the National Guard.

“I present myself before an unjust justice, before a corrupt justice,” said Lopez.

“If my incarceration serves to wake up people… it will have been worth it.”

He calmly walked under escort to a National Guard vehicle as his supporters pressed around the vehicle, blocking its path.

Maduro’s government summoned its followers to rallies of its own in an area of downtown Caracas, amid fears of clashes with the opposition demonstrators.

The tensions generated by the protests have spilled into the international arena.

On Sunday, Maduro ordered the expulsion of three US diplomats, accusing them of meeting student leaders under the guise of offering them visas.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said that the United States was still mulling its options.

“I would repeat very strongly that the allegations against our diplomats by the Venezuelan government are baseless and false, and that right now, we are considering what actions to take,” Harf said.

© AFP 2014

Luis Rosales: Time for World to Join Venezuela’s Fight for Democracy.

Everyone who believes in democracy, freedom and human rights today should be standing with Leopoldo López, the brave young opposition leader who is defying the growing radicalization of the ruling government in Venezuela.

López, a charismatic, Harvard-educated former mayor of Caracas’ Chacao district, has emerged as the face of the growing opposition to the leftist government of Nicolas Maduro, the successor to the late dictator Hugo Chavez. On Tuesday, López was arrested on what international human rights groups have called baseless charges for the deaths of three people killed in an anti-government demonstration earlier this month.

Although President Maduro has called him a fascist, Lopez is completely the opposite. He is an honest politician who really believes in democracy. He has devoted his life to helping his country stand up to the growing authoritarianism of Maduro. He has long been persecuted by a government that controls most of the country’s media and its corrupt judiciary.

From the beginning, when he was first elected mayor in 2000, Lopez challenged this repressive system. Chavez ordered judges to ban him from holding further office after saddling him with trumped up charges. The government consistently has used this method to eliminate popular opponents. As one of the three most popular political leaders in the country, Lopez stepped back and unselfishly endorsed another opposition candidate for president, Henrique Capriles, in order not to fracture the anti-Chavez opposition.

Chavez died in March, 2013. Maduro, a declared Marxist who many observers consider to be a puppet of Cuba’s Castro regime, succeeded him and was elected after a very controversial process fraught with charges of fraud. The opposition believed it was robbed. But the official apparatus, tightly controlled by the Chavistas, ignored the claims and stifled any official audit of the vote.

That was Maduro’s original sin, the first of many. His rule has been an unmitigated disaster. Venezuela, a global oil power, leads the South American continent in inflation. As the economy has collapsed, it also has taken the lead in other negative indicators like the rate of crime and domestic violence. And that is what feeds the growing opposition movement.

Over the last several weeks, millions have taken to the streets across the country to express their discontent. The government has responded by mobilizing its own armed mobs, backed by both the military and the police, to attack peaceful demonstrators. This, in turn, has divided the opposition.

Capriles leads a group that believes that change can be encouraged through dialogue and nonviolent demonstration. Lopez, however, believes that a repressive government must be challenged with strength when it attacks its own people. He believes that Maduro, like Lenin and Castro before him, is trying to create the conditions for a “proletarian dictatorship,” the first step toward totalitarian socialism.

The history of the last century is replete with nations that have succumbed to this tactic: Russia, the nations of Eastern Europe, Vietnam, Cambodia, North Korea and Cuba to name just a few.

In every case, when socialists took power, they immediately suspended individual liberties, freedom of press and private ownership to end what they considered an “outdated” capitalist and bourgeois systems. The new elites, backed by a massive, authoritarian bureaucracy, never saw any reason to reverse course. What emerged were single party states with either no elections or cruel parodies of them, without freedom, and heavily militarized at all levels of society.

This is the system that Leopoldo López fears will emerge in Venezuela if the people do not stand up and fight now. And it’s going to take democrats and human rights activists from all over the world to help him in his fight. There needs to be a push now to stop Maduro from repressing students and other demonstrators and force him to release Lopez before it’s too late.

We the people have to put international pressure on Maduro’s regime and push our democratic governments and elected representatives to do the same. And we need to do this now, not only for the sake of Lopez, but also for the future of Venezuela and Latin America.

Luis Rosales is a political strategist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is the author of the new book, “Francis: A Pope for Our Times.”

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Venezuela Expels 3 US Consular Officials.

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s president says he’s ordering the expulsion of three U.S. consular officials.

President Nicolas Maduro made the announcement during a televised speech Sunday night that comes amid rising tensions in Venezuela over anti-government protests.

Maduro hasn’t identified the officials but accuses them of infiltrating Venezuelan universities under the cover of doing consular work involving student visas.

The president has accused the U.S. of working with the opposition in trying to topple his socialist government. Washington denies it is trying to undermine Maduro.

Maduro also says the country’s ambassador to the Organization of American States in Washington received a phone call from the State Department warning that the arrest of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez would have negative international consequences for his government. Maduro says he won’t tolerate “threats” to Venezuela’s sovereignty.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Venezuela’s Maduro Tightens Grip on Media.

CARACAS, Venezuela — As Gov. Henrique Capriles campaigned for president of Venezuela last April, he couldn’t venture more than a few steps without being hounded by dozens of sharp-elbowed cameramen and photographers. Nearly eight months later, the visibly thinner and exhausted opposition leader is accompanied by just a handful of journalists at what was supposed to be one of the final, electrifying opposition rallies ahead of this weekend’s mayoral elections.

Critics say the shrinking media coverage has been deliberate. Even while Venezuelans endure their toughest economic crisis in 15 years of socialist rule, the opposition has been largely knocked from public view by what they claim is a government-led campaign to intimidate media outlets that give airtime to the opposition and the nation’s mounting woes.

Between January and September, the number of attacks on journalists, cases of harassment and reports of censorship has risen 56 percent compared with the first nine months of 2012, according to a complaint filed by press freedom groups in October to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Even more damaging has been the sale of several media outlets once critical of the government to owners who more closely follow the official line.

Capriles calls it an “information blockade,” and warns that President Nicolas Maduro‘s alleged attempts to silence the opposition signal a more authoritarian style of rule to come unless resoundingly reject his policies at the ballot box this Sunday. The election for mayors and city councils is a dogfight in this deeply polarized country. It is also Maduro’s first electoral test since he defeated Capriles in April by a razor-thin margin following Hugo Chavez’s death from cancer.

“Without a doubt this is one of the toughest moments in our history to get our message out,” said Capriles, who has been crisscrossing the country stumping for opposition candidates.

Yet for all the opposition complaints, analysts say the government’s biggest trump card going into the vote isn’t its grip on the media but rather Maduro’s political instincts. Facing a steady decline in the polls, Maduro on Nov. 9 seized control of several retail outlets, arrested dozens of store managers and slashed prices on plasma TVs and fridges to strike a blow against opponents he accuses of waging an “economic war” against his government. The measures have led to a steady improvement in the president’s approval rating, said Luis Vicente Leon of Caracas-based pollster Datanalisis.

The most likely result from Sunday’s vote, Leon said, is the opposition winning in Caracas and other big cities while the government remains dominant in the countryside, giving each side a claim on victory.

“There’s an economic crisis in Venezuela but paradoxically who has best capitalized on it politically is the government that generated it,” said Leon. “They’ve combined rhetoric with action and, just as importantly, has managed to sell a narrative of who are the ones to blame for the economic troubles.”

The government denies it is threatening journalists or forcing its viewpoint, and attributes the decline in coverage of Capriles to the fact that voters and media bosses alike were turned off by his unsubstantiated claims of fraud following his defeat in the presidential race.

“There’s no campaign to make him invisible,” said Igor Molina, a high-ranking official at telecommunications regulator Conatel. “Perhaps it is just that the overexposure which he was accustomed to is gone.”

The most emblematic example of Venezuela’s rougher media landscape is the takeover of TV station Globovision.

When Chavez refused to renew the license of independent broadcaster RCTV in 2007, Globovision remained as the lone voice broadcasting criticism of the government. But after being fined $2 million last year for its coverage of the security forces’ violent quelling of a prison riot, the channel was sold in May to three local businessmen with no prior media experience. Many veteran journalists were immediately fired or quit, and the channel overnight stopped broadcasting opposition news conferences and rallies.

“This is a sophisticated strategy because you’re not closing down the company,” said Carlos Correa, of Espacio Publico, the nongovernmental organization behind the complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. “You’re simply asking someone you’re close to, or have business dealings with, to do a favor and buy a media company to neutralize its coverage.”

Globovision’s owners haven’t commented on their plans for the channel or the transaction. But last month the saga seemed to repeat itself when the editor of the country’s main business newspaper, El Mundo, was fired after publishing an article on the hemorrhaging of the central bank’s foreign currency reserves. Just a few weeks earlier, El Mundo’s owner Cadena Capriles, the country’s largest print media conglomerate, was purchased by a group of UK and Curacao-based investors. Cadena Capriles’ founding owners aren’t directly related to the politician who shares their last name.

In another episode with a chilling effect on coverage, Maduro in October publicly criticized newspaper Diario 2001 as “bandits” and called for it to be “punished” for publishing an article about gasoline shortages in Latin America’s largest oil exporter. Within days of the tongue-lashing, federal prosecutors opened an investigation.

The government is also targeting the opposition on the Internet, until now a largely untouched forum for government criticism. Last month it blocked access to dozens of websites used to track the black market value of the nation’s currency, which has plunged to 10 times its official 6.3-per-dollar value.

While coverage of the opposition is being curtailed, Maduro is making greater use of the airwaves. Data compiled by Andres Canizalez, a media researcher at Catholic University in Caracas, show the president has appeared on television an average of two hours a day, surpassing a mark left by his loquacious mentor Chavez, thanks to a law requiring radio and TV channels to interrupt normal programming to broadcast the president’s activities.

It’s not clear if the government tactics are actually persuading voters. While Capriles may be less visible, Venezuela’s economic problems are readily apparent in most supermarkets, where staples such as milk and toilet paper are harder to find and prices for other goods have skyrocketed in line with an official 54 percent inflation rate. The opposition is hopeful that such hardships will allow it to build on the 56 municipalities that it and dissident factions of Chavismo won in the last local elections in 2008.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Jonathan, Oduah, Et Al., And The Venezuelan Paralell By Michael Egbejumi-David.

President Goodluck Jonathan and Stella Oduah
By Michael Egbejumi-David

Some years ago, I saw a documentary on television that captured the brazen attempt to remove the then Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez, from office barely three years into his presidency.

Chavez’s offence was that, as soon as he became President, he implemented a true national constitution that enabled participatory democracy from the grassroots level on up.  Then he went and built thousands of free medical clinics for the poor.  He also increased government’s funding of education and, in just three years, he has increased the level of literacy in his country by an estimated one million adults.  Chavez didn’t stop there; he went further and enacted food and housing subsidies.  He also unfurled a program of land reform.  The man then began to reduce the levels of poverty using State oil revenues.

You don’t need me to tell you that big business in Venezuela didn’t like what they were seeing.  They didn’t like what Chavez was doing at all.  However, Chavez’s biggest sin against them was that he began a comprehensive reform of the State-owned oil corporation.  You see, back then, Venezuela was the world’s fifth largest exporter of oil, but 80% of the population didn’t benefit from the oil wealth.  So Chavez moved against the corporation’s entrenched management that, in reality, was running the place like a private business.  He also moved against the indolent and highly corrupt union.  Chavez re-focused his nation’s oil policy to benefit its citizens first before worrying about the international export market.  In no time at all, petrol was being sold in Venezuela for the equivalent of 3 Naira per litre.

All of that went down like a lead balloon with big business.

Unfortunately for Chavez, the TV stations in his country, except one, were owned and ran by the same owners of big business.  These were the elite, the Cabal who had been running things in Venezuela for decades.  The emancipation of the masses wasn’t profitable to them.  In no time at all, they began to use their media to resist and to attack Chavez.

Then in April 2002, the pro-business cabal sponsored an oil workers protest.  They also bribed a small group of very high-ranking anti-Chavez military officers to come across to their side of the divide.  Some members of the upper class came out too, banging their pots and pans with expensive looking spoons.  One evening, in the midst of this protest, a few military officers – a la Abaca, Diya and co versus Shonekan – waltzed into the Presidential Palace and, at gun point, asked Chavez to resign.  Chavez refused.  He was informed that if he didn’t resign, there would be a bloodbath with all the protesters outside, and that the Presidential Palace would also be bombed within minutes.  Chavez still refused to resign as President but he agreed to be detained.  He was led away by the officers and was subsequently detained on a military base.

A few minutes after Chavez was taken away, a wealthy business baron who was then the President of the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce, Pedro Carmona, declared himself President of an interim national government. Carmona promptly abolished the 1999 constitution and appointed a small governing council to help him run the country.  He also announced the reinstatement of the longtime head of the State-owned oil corporation whom Chavez had removed.

The next day, Carmona, his new cabinet – drawn exclusively from the privileged class, and the senior military officers who backed him relocated themselves to the Presidential Palace where they wined and congratulated each other, backslapping.  Afterwards, their new Attorney General and spokesman, a most pompous, verbose chap, pronounced the dismissal of the Legislature, the Judiciary, all elected Governors and the Electoral Commission to a chorus of wild applause.  More back slapping followed.

However, the masses – young and old – trooped out in a massive demonstration and in support of Chavez’s government.  Of course they were confronted on the streets by the police.  After three years, repression was back in Venezuela.  The police were back shooting at their own people.

But the masses resisted and continued their protest.  They continued to agitate for the return of Chavez.  Then, the Presidential Guards hatched a plan and quietly surrounded the Palace.  While the masses demonstrated outside, the Guards quickly retook the Palace.  In the ensuing confusion, the usurper President escaped.  He slipped away with some of his backing Generals, some of whom had hurriedly discarded their uniforms.  Others were not so lucky.  Most of the new interim cabinet and their supporters were herded downstairs into the basement and were put under arrest.  They, including their loquacious, newly minted Attorney General, were made to sit on the bare floor.  Their haughtiness firmly drained out of them.

In just 47 hours – two days – things have turned around.  Chavez was returned from detention and a grateful nation heaved a sigh of relief.

Most unfortunately, in Nigeria, the exact opposite of the redemptive situation above is what obtains, and is what we have had on our hands for a very long time.  The corrupt Cabal who only cares about themselves; the corrupt Cabal who unrelentingly trample on our rights; the corrupt Cabal who treats the people with absolute disdain; the corrupt Cabal who holds us in utter disregard calls the shots here.

Would the real masses go out and rally in support of the current Nigerian government?  Do they have a reason to do so?  Daniel Kanu’s-style rented crowds don’t count.  Since Murtala Muhammed, do the masses have the impression that subsequent governments – including the present one – represent their interests?  Unlike Chavez’s, our own governments have been and continues to be wholly self-serving.  Our own leaders condone, live and breathe sleaze.  Our own governments have us in a chokehold and are gradually draining the life out of us and out of the country.  We have a corrupt oligarch that is happy to divide us along ethnic and religious lines as long as we stay divided.  We have a corrupt Cabal who actually believes that the masses are nothing more than a mere nuisance in its way.

Go figure…

Twitter: demdemdem1


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