Sunday, February 24, 2019

Speaking Truth to Empire w/Dan Yaseen (Feb 2019 Edition)

February 2019

On Speaking Truth to Empire, on KFCF 88.1 FM independently owned and locally operated in Fresno since 1975, Dan Yaseen interviews Steve Lendman, an author, a progressive blogger and an internet radio host. They discuss US initiated coup against democratically elected Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. He writes on vital international and national topics, including war and peace, American imperialism, corporate dominance, political persecutions, and a range of other social, economic and political issues. His website is:

Stephen Lendman

Dastardly Dems and Repugnant Republicans w/Bro. Larry Pinkney (SOAPBOX PODCAST 2/23/19)

February 24, 2019

Brother Larry


This week, Cindy welcomes back Brother Larry Pinkney who has been "Keeping it Real" with the Soapbox since 2009!

Every year Brother Larry comes on with astute analysis of the deadly US Empire---unfortunately, the names change, but the crimes remain the same!

A lot of our guests went over to the dark side with the dastardly Dems when Obama was chosen by the Powers that Be in 2012, and more did the same and became infected with Trump Derangement Syndrome in 2016. Brother Larry has never wavered from his anti-imperialist principles for all these years!

BROTHER LARRY'S OTHER APPEARANCES to show we have been in PRINCIPLED STRUGGLE with him for years:


Black Activist Writers Guild



Thursday, February 14, 2019




The Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Cuba condemns the escalation of pressures and actions of the US government in preparation for a military adventure under the guise of a “humanitarian intervention” in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and calls on the international community to mobilize in order to prevent its consummation.
Between February 6 and 10 of 2019, several military transport aircraft have been flying to the Rafael Miranda Airport in Puerto Rico; the San Isidro Air Base in the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean Islands that have a strategic location, most certainly without the knowledge of the governments of those nations. These flights took off from US military facilities from where Special Operation Troops and US Marine Corps units operate. These units have been used for covert operations, even against leaders of other countries.
Media and political circles, even in the US, have revealed that extremist figures of that government with a long history of actions and slanders aimed at causing or instigating wars, such as John Bolton, US National Security Advisor; and Mauricio Claver-Carone, Director of the National Security Council’s Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs, counting on the connivance of Marco Rubio, Senator of the anti-Cuban mafia of Florida, designed, directly and thoroughly organized and obtained the funds, from their posts in Washington, for the attempted coup d’ etat in Venezuela by means of the illegal self-proclamation of a president.
They are the same who, either personally or through the State Department, have been putting brutal pressures on numerous governments to force them to support the arbitrary call for new presidential elections in Venezuela, while promoting recognition for the usurper who hardly earned 97 000 votes as a parliamentarian, against the more than 6 million Venezuelans who elected Constitutional President Nicolás Maduro Moros last May.
After the resistance put up by the Bolivarian and Chavista people against the coup, evidenced by the mass demonstrations in support of President Maduro and the loyalty of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces, the US Government has intensified its international political and media campaign and strengthened unilateral economic coercive measures against Venezuela, among them the blocking of Venezuelan funds in third countries banks, which are billions of dollars worth; and the theft of the oil revenues of that sister nation, which are causing grave humanitarian damages and harsh deprivations to its people.
In addition to this cruel and unjustifiable plunder, the US intends to fabricate a humanitarian pretext in order to launch a military aggression against Venezuela and is seeking to introduce in the territory of that sovereign nation, by resorting to intimidation, pressures and force, an alleged humanitarian aid which is one thousand times inferior as compared to the economic damages provoked by the siege imposed from Washington.
The usurper and self-proclaimed “president” shamelessly announced his disposition to call for a US military intervention under the pretext of receiving the aforementioned “humanitarian aid”; and has described the sovereign and proud rejection of that maneuver as a “crime against humanity”.
US high officials have been arrogantly and blatantly reminding us all, day after day, that when it comes to Venezuela, “all options are on the table, including military action”.
In the process of fabricating pretexts, the US government has resorted to deception and slanders, for it presented a draft resolution at the UN Security Council which, cynically and hypocritically expresses deep concern about “the human rights and humanitarian situation..., the recent attempts to block the delivery of humanitarian aid, the millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants…, the excessive use of force against peaceful protesters, the breakdown of regional peace and security” in Venezuela, and urges “to take the necessary steps”.
It is obvious that the United States is paving the way to forcibly establish “a humanitarian corridor” under “international supervision”, invoke “the obligation to protect” civilians and take “all necessary steps”.
It is worth recalling that similar behaviors and pretexts were resorted to by the US during the prelude to the wars it launched against Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya, which resulted in tremendous human losses and caused enormous suffering.
The US government attempts to remove the biggest obstacle -the Bolivarian and Chavista Revolution- to the imperialist domination of Our America and deprive the Venezuelan people from the largest certified oil reserve of the planet and numerous strategic natural resources.
It would be impossible to forget the sad and painful history of US military interventions perpetrated more than once in Mexico, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Honduras, and most recently Grenada and Panama.
As was warned by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz on July 14, 2017: “The aggression and coup violence against Venezuela harm all of “Our America” and only benefit the interests of those set on dividing us in order to exercise their control over our peoples, unconcerned about causing conflicts of incalculable consequences in this region, like those we are seeing in different parts of the world”.
History will severely judge a new imperialist military intervention in the region and the complicity of those who might irresponsibly support it.
What is at stake today in Venezuela is the sovereignty and dignity of Latin America and the Caribbean and the peoples of the South. Equally at stake is the survival of the rules of International Law and the UN Charter. What is being defined today is whether the legitimacy of a government emanates from the express and sovereign will of its people or from the recognition of foreign powers.
The Revolutionary Government calls for an international mobilization in defense of peace in Venezuela and the region, based on the principles enshrined in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, which was adopted by the Heads of State and Government of CELAC in 2014.
It likewise welcomes and supports the Montevideo Mechanism, an initiative promoted by Mexico, Uruguay, the Caribbean Commonwealth (CARICOM) and Bolivia, which seeks to preserve peace in Venezuela based on the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of States, legal equality of States and the peaceful resolution of conflicts, as stated in its recent Declaration.
It welcomes the positive consideration given to said initiative by President Maduro Moros and the international community and expresses its concern about the categorical rejection by the US government of the initiatives of dialogue promoted by several countries, including this.
The Revolutionary Government reiterates its firm and unwavering solidarity with Constitutional President Nicolás Maduro Moros, the Bolivarian and Chavista Revolution and the civic and military unity of its people and calls upon all peoples and governments of the world to defend Peace and put up a joint opposition, over and above political or ideological differences, to a new military and imperialist intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean which will harm the independence, sovereignty and interests of all peoples from Rio Bravo to Patagonia.
Havana, February 12, 2019.





Cindy Sheehan:    Sarah Abed. Welcome back to Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox.

Sarah Abed:    Thank you so much for having me again, Cindy.

Cindy Sheehan:    Well, the show that you were on was December 30th, there was quite a bit to talk about in 30 minutes for sure, but I just wanted to have you back on. It was a really well received and listened to show. There's a dearth of true information about what's happening in Syria and that region. There's been a lot happening, just happening in like a week. I wanted to have you back on to give us an update about what's going on. So, please, the floor is yours now.

Sarah Abed:    Absolutely. Okay. Now, last week, I had mentioned that, as a result of Trump's announcement to withdraw the US troops from Syria, that the leaders of the Kurdish militias were reconciling with the Syrian government, and they were asking for protection against a Turkish onslaught. They were actually even willing to give up some of their territory west of the Euphrates. But since then, there have been some changes. During the past week, the Syrian Democratic Forces, the SDF, which again is just a rebranding of the Kurdish YPG, and this was a request that was made by US officials. So now they had asked Germany and France for a no-fly zone over northeastern Syria. Now, this sort of a request is really unrealistic because, Germany and France, they're allies with Turkey and they're going to work within the framework of NATO. Also, Russia is not going to allow them to adopt any sort of plan that threatened Syria's territorial integrity.

Sarah Abed:    Now, they had also asked France to replace the US troops that were leaving northeastern Syria with French forces. I'm not exactly sure if they're going to be increasing the forces there, but they did say that they are definitely going to be staying on the ground, even if the US forces were to leave. And that they're going to help the Kurdish militias to fight against ISIS. Now, what I've also heard is that a senior administration official had told NBC news on the 5th that the US might be keeping their forces in the Al-Tanf base, which is in southeastern Syria for an undetermined amount of time. That step is basically aimed at applying pressure on Syria and Iran, because that base, it's actually located on a very vital international highway that could link Tehran with Beirut through Baghdad and Damascus.

Sarah Abed:    Now, what we're also hearing is that US officials are now saying that there's no real timeline for the withdrawal. Initially we had heard a couple of different dates, from 30 days to four months. Now they're saying it could be months or years. One thing that we do know is that this notion of a quick withdrawal, which is I think the impression that a lot of us, everyone, got from Trump, it's being manipulated by Washington. It's changed, it's no longer there. So now, Bolton and Pompeo, they're actually in the Middle East right now. They're visiting allies, including Israel, Turkey, Jordan and Egypt. And they're doing what some people are saying is "damage control."

Cindy Sheehan:    Well, probably, huh?

Sarah Abed:    After Trump withdrawal announcement. Yeah. So now Bolton was in Israel yesterday and he was saying that now there's going to be stipulations to the US troop withdraw. He's saying that there are two conditions, basically, that needs to be met. One of them is that the 17,000 remaining ISIS fighters in Syria, have to be completely defeated. And the second one, which again, that's a contradiction to what Trump had said. If you remember, he had said, "We defeated ISIS, we're leaving," which, even if it wasn't true, the fact that he just wanted to say something and leave, I thought that was perfectly fine.

Cindy Sheehan:    Face saving.

Sarah Abed:    Turkey has been a huge supporter of the armed militias and the terrorist groups in Syria, and since the beginning of the war. So, it's funny that they're asking them or trusting them to now fight against Daesh when they're the ones that are still backing the FSA, the Free Syrian Army, who are just basically the same thing under a different name. There's also been mentioned that Turkey is now asking for the US to provide them with substantial military support, including airstrikes, transport, logistics, so that they could fight against ISIS. That is showing us that they want them to stay for a longer period of time. The longer that they stay, the worst it is. I mean, Syrians want them out. One other thing I want to mention about Turkey, even though sometimes they have said that they care about Syria's sovereignty, about the territorial integrity and such, they've also, at other times, said that ultimately their longterm goal is expansion.

Sarah Abed:    They want to go and they want to have certain parts of Syria and some of their neighboring countries. They're looking for this to increase the Ottoman Empire. It's an ideal that they have. That's something that we need to keep in mind that, Syrians are worried about what Turkey's longterm plans are there. Right now, I think the US one of their main concerns is that the Kurdish allies are going to switch sides which, like we had mentioned last time, they were starting to do. They were trying to work with the ... reconciling with the Syrian government and Russia. What Bolton actually did was, he urged them and he even told them, he said to stand fast and avoid any deals with Damascus. And this is basically until they come up with a plan. This, of course, is not helping to finish off the war either by them telling them not to reconcile with them. There's also been talks about, and this could be the phase two that we had touched on last time but information really wasn't out there.

Sarah Abed:    But there's also talks that the US is considering a partition plan. Again, we don't know that much about it, it hasn't been published or anything, but it has been called the "Sykes-Picot on acid." It's a plan to partition Syria, which of course it's a really, really, really bad idea. Let's see how that plays out. Hopefully, maybe it's just a rumor, but there are talks that I've heard of that being in the plans. Basically what I'm hoping, is that the Kurdish militias are going to come to their senses and they're going to do really the only reasonable thing for them to do at this point, which is to reconcile with the Syrian government. To hand over their weapons, to reintegrate into the Syrian Army and work with them.

Sarah Abed:    Also, I wanted to mention that, contrary to popular belief and what we've read, the majority of the fighting against Daesh, it's been done by the Syrian Arab Army and their allies. I mean, the Kurdish militias have, of course, assisted, but they are not the ones that have fought the most or made the most progress against them. That's just the common thing that's said by the US administration so that they can say, "This is why we support them, because they are the best fighters against Daesh." No, the Syrian Arab Army and Russia and Hezbollah and Iranian forces, they've all been doing the bulk of the work.

Sarah Abed:    I mean, at this point, I guess we're just going to have to see what they decide to do. If they're going to continue to trust the US just because they're giving them ... I think they just sent them another shipment of trucks and weapons and everything, but if they're going to continue to trust them and then be left out in the mud again, like they were back in the Iran-Iraq war, like they were in [inaudible 00:09:05], like they are repeatedly being used as a tool by US, Israel and NATO, then this cycle of abuse is not going to end. I guess we're just going to have to wait and see what actually plays out. I mean, a lot of what's being said by Bolton right now, it could be to appease their allies, but I'm interested to see how much it's going to change the strategy to withdrawal the US troops from Syria.

Cindy Sheehan:    Well, we know about Bolton have long been a bad actor in US foreign policy, but he also, I think, has also been a strong advocate for military action against Iran.

Sarah Abed:    Absolutely. Huge critic of Iran. I mean that, yeah. And that's a huge excuse that's being used still. That, "Okay, well, we're not going to leave until the Iranians and the Russians leave. We don't want Iranian influence to increase in the region, so we are going to do this and that." I mean, one of the main reasons why they even started working with the Kurds, is so that they could have a place in the Middle East, where they can keep their eye on Iran and take care of Israel. That was a big a reason for them to even establish their, I think, dozen or I think the highest number I heard was 19 bases in Syria.

Cindy Sheehan:    Also, it was about Matthis, who resigned right after Trump made the announcement, but it doesn't seem like that was legit because, like you said, Bolton and Pompeo are probably in the Middle East doing damage control. And Trump says a lot of things just like off-the-cuff that hasn't been followed through on. What's this about Matthis resigning because of that? It just doesn't make sense to me because, like you said, well as soon as I saw that he announced that US trips were leaving Syria, I was like, "Yeah, right. We'll see if that ever happens." But then all of a sudden Matthis resigns. What do you think that's about?

Sarah Abed:    I mean, it could be that he truly just was taken off guard and that was the reaction that he had of, "Oh, okay, well, I don't agree with this," or, "I'm not going to stand by you." Because he even said, I remember reading that he said that Trump should have someone whose views are more aligned with his. I think if Matthis hadn't jumped the gun and had stuck it through, and not that I would want him to, I think I'd love for Pompeo and Bolton to follow, but I think if he had waited then he would have seen that, "Oh, things are not going to go the way Trump had initially planned," which is-

Cindy Sheehan:    Well, he should know that anyway, because I knew that and I'm not the secretary of defense. My thing is, allegedly, now we all know that nothing works the way it appears to work in the US so called democracy. But allegedly, the secretaries are appointed by the president and they serve at the pleasure or whatever. That's what they call it. They serve at the pleasure of the president, they're not supposed to be the ones making policy. They're supposed to be carrying out policy.

Sarah Abed:    Okay. Yeah.

Cindy Sheehan:    Anyway, I don't know. I just find it interesting.

Sarah Abed:    I mean, it could just be an excuse.

Cindy Sheehan:    It could have just been an excuse, yeah.

Sarah Abed:    Maybe he found this as, "Okay, this is my opportunity to leave. I can do it by saying that I oppose this new plan that Trump has." I mean, because from what I've read, it does sound like this was just made without anyone else pretty much knowing that it was going to happen. But I do think that, after Trump had spoken with Turkey's president, Erdogen, that that influenced it. Now, I don't know, maybe he had said something and Trump took it one way and now he's backtracking because for him to now say, "We need increased support, we want the US to help us out even more," that's a contradiction.

Sarah Abed:    Before, he was just saying, "We want the Kurdish troops, the Kurdish militias to not be on our borders. We see them as a national security issue. We want them off our borders." Now, it's like, yeah ... I think now that they saw that the US was starting to back away from the Kurds, they're changing it, changing the script. This has just been very interesting to watch. Every day, there's new things that are coming out, and unfortunately, it does feel like we're getting farther and farther away from this proposed immediate, full troop withdrawal [inaudible 00:14:48] be going home. Because even what we've seen is some of the US troops that were taken out of Syria, that had left Syria, they were sent to Iraq.

Cindy Sheehan:    Right. That's what I've said. It would just, would be a realignment anyway. The reassignment realignment. Yeah.

Sarah Abed:    Yeah. They weren't even sent home.

Cindy Sheehan:    So, what's coming out of Damascus?

Sarah Abed:    What's coming on? I think right now, as far as Damascus, it's amazing. If you've seen the amount of progress that's being made, regardless of everything else that's going on with the US and what they're trying to do, Damascus is going full speed ahead trying to recover. Their different embassies are reopening again in Syria, they are reentering the Arab League after having not been in there for, I think, what was this? Six years or so. They're making a ton of progress. They're rebuilding. The people are returning to their lives and the vast majority of the country. I mean, you've only got Idlib, which we're still going to see what's going to happen with that.

Sarah Abed:    That's where the militias were all sent, and they've actually been having a lot of infighting as well. So, terrorist organizations are fighting against each other. Damascus is trying to do a lot of recovery, repairing and the people are just trying to get back to their lives. I mean, the US, they could definitely help if that was their true mission by just withdrawing their troops. France, the same thing. Turkey, the same thing. And just let Syrians go back to how their lives were before. I mean, like we've mentioned before, this was never a civil war, so to say. This was never a revolution. This was completely foreign imposed. I know they wanted-

Cindy Sheehan:    Well, we just have to thank goodness for the fact that Syria didn't become another Libya or Iraq or Afghanistan. That they fought back and hopefully will be, like you said, successful to rebuild their country and rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, should never have had to do that.

Sarah Abed:    Absolutely. Absolutely. They are absolutely resilient, the people. I speak to them on a continuous basis and it's just amazing how much they're able to put what's happened behind them, and keep focusing on what's going to be in the future. What's going to happen in the future. It's amazing. I mean, if the people themselves weren't supportive of the Syrian government and the Syrian president, then everything would have fell apart. But they've stood against all of the foreign empires who have tried, tirelessly, to split the country up or bring them to their knees, they've stood against them united. The Syrian people, they want to have a normal, happy life. I mean, if you've seen what took place during the holidays, Christmas and New Year's, they celebrated more so than I think the majority in the West, right?

Cindy Sheehan:    Yeah.

Sarah Abed:    The Christmas tree's, the lights, the festivals, the festivities, people there, they want to live. They have a strong desire to live, to recover, to have a good life. And they're going to do whatever it takes. They are not going to just allow foreign powers to break them. They're not going to do that. So, I think that's a huge reason why almost eight years, in March 15th of this year, it's going to be eight years. Eight years of war. And we're talking from so many different nations against just one little country.

Cindy Sheehan:    Well, thank you, Sarah. Is there something you'd like to add?

Sarah Abed:    I think, I mean, we've covered it. Let's just see what happens. Each day we're learning new things. I want to see what happens with the rest of their Middle East trip that they're on right now, and see what else they're going to be coming up with. They're trying to reassure their allies and partners but I think it's making us feel pretty nervous that each day with a new thing that they're coming out with. We just want them to leave the Syrians alone and just let them go back to having a normal life. I think that's really the main thing that the majority of the people want.

Cindy Sheehan:    Well, their major neo-cons, they're there to reassure Israel. That's exactly what they're doing. I would think John Bolton is a huge ... He signed the project for a new American century. I think you said on Facebook today, you hope he resigns. I think that this would be a good place to end. Anyway, Sarah, thank you. I'll get this put together and get it out as soon as possible.

Sarah Abed:    Sounds good. Thank you so much, Cindy.

Cindy Sheehan:    Oh, no. Now, I can hear you really good. Okay, dear. Okay, have a good evening.

Sarah Abed:    You too. You too. Take care. Bye.

Cindy Sheehan:    Thanks. Bye. Bye.






There is no Humanitarian Crisis in Vz (fact sheet from Vz Government with links)

note: It is important to take on this "humanitarian crisis" disinformation head on and urgently. Many soft-headed, I mean, soft-hearted people are taken in by this argument that Maduro is blocking humanitarian aid. Please distribute widely and encourage your bases to write letters to the editor and otherwise confront this false narrative. The most immediate humanitarian aid that could be provided by the United States and Canada would be to drop the sanctions! Chuck Kaufman from Alliance for Global Justice

A humanitarian crisis?

One of the talking points repeated ad nauseum about the situation in Venezuela is about President Maduro’s alleged blocking of humanitarian aid. To understand what’s actually going on, however, some context is needed first.

The U.S. government, corporate media and NGOs interested in regime change repeatedly claim there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. This is not new; this narrative has been pushed since at least 2016.

However, the economic situation in Venezuela does not reach the scope of a humanitarian crisis:

“I have compared the statistics of Venezuela with that of other countries and there is no humanitarian crisis, of course there is scarcity, anxiety and shortages but those who have worked for decades for the United Nations and know the situation of countries in Asia, Africa and some of America, know that the situation in Venezuela is not a humanitarian crisis,” then UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic & Equitable International Order Alfred De Zayas, February 20, 2018

"The country is not in a humanitarian crisis, definitely not, we need to be clear about that. There are shortages of certain goods and political tensions, but Venezuela still has many elements to be a vibrant and economically thriving country, and it is making efforts to diversify its production,” Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, October 25, 2016.

According to a 2019 UN Food and Agriculture Organization Report, the percentage of undernourished people in Venezuela is 11.7%. For the sake of comparison, average undernourishment is 23.2% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 31.4% in Eastern Africa, 14.8% in Southern Asia, 14.5% in Central Asia and 16.5% in the Caribbean.

In 1999, food security was worse in Venezuela than it is now:

Source: FAO

Why was there no push to bring aid to Venezuelans in the 1990s, when things were clearly worse?

There is no denying that the graphs also show an uptick in food insecurity. This is due to Venezuela’s economic crisis and the impact of U.S. sanctions.

Here is what Idriss Jazairy, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures, has said about the sanctions on Venezuela:

“Sanctions which can lead to starvation and medical shortages are not the answer to the crisis in Venezuela… Precipitating an economic and humanitarian crisis…is not a foundation for the peaceful settlement of disputes… I am especially concerned to hear reports that these sanctions are aimed at changing the government of Venezuela… [there is a] growing risk of violence and implicit threats of international violence… precipitating an economic and humanitarian crisis…is not a foundation for the peaceful settlement of disputes.” – January 31, 2019.

And former UN expert Alfred de Zayas:

The economic war against Venezuela, carried out not only by the United States, but also by the Grupo de Lima in clear violation of Chapter 4, Article 19 of the OAS Charter, the financial blockade and the sanctions have demonstrably caused hundreds of deaths directly related to the scarcity of food and medicines resulting from the blockade.” – February 7, 2019. 

Here are some of the programs the Maduro government has implemented to ensure food and nutrition security:

CLAPs – Local Committees for Supply and Production
This program involves grassroots organized communities who produce or receive food and then distribute it regularly and directly to 6 million families at zero to low cost. For a sense of scale, keep in mind that Venezuela is a country of 30 million people.
President Maduro recently announced that in the first quarter of 2019, the CLAP boxes would be sent every 15 days. 

The Food Vulnerability Attention Plan serves the needs of our must vulnerable populations by giving them specific foodstuffs to ensure their nutrition.

Over 620 thousand people have benefited from it.
It reaches 229 of the nation’s 335 municipalities.

Furthermore, an opposition-linked economist forecast 10% growth for the Venezuelan economy in the fourth quarter of 2018, suggesting that the worst of the economic crisis had been overcome. Of course, the impact of the Trump administration’s latest sanctions have yet to be determined.

Why is it important to clarify that there is no humanitarian crisis?

A humanitarian crisis can be used as an excuse to intervene militarily. This has been the explicit posture of the U.S. since at least 2015, when then head of U.S. Southern Command, General John Kelly (later White House Chief of Staff when President Trump first threatened Venezuela with military force), warned of U.S. intervention regarding Venezuela’s “humanitarian crisis… we could react to that only if we were asked to do it.”

This is important given that Juan Guaido, leader of the coup attempt, recently expressed he was open to authorizing a U.S. intervention.

This posture by the U.S. Southern Command was reiterated by Admiral Kurt Tidd on April 6, 2017: The growing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela could eventually compel a regional response.”

What about the U.S. “humanitarian aid”?

The United States is offering $20 million in aid – 60 tons of food. To compare, in 2017 the CLAP program distributed 42,000 tons of food per month. It has only grown since then.

As Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting has demonstrated, the issue of aid is a sophisticated public relations stunt:

The pictures used in many mainstream media outlets to argue that Venezuela has blocked aid are in fact pictures of a bridge that has yet to be opened.

The person in charge of the aid, Elliott Abrams –named as Special Envoy for Venezuela on January 25, 2019 – has a history of sending weapons in shipments of “humanitarian aid.”  These weapons were given to Contras in Nicaragua, a group of armed extremists who sought to violently overthrow the government.

In 1990, the United States blatantly interfered in the Nicaraguan elections by extorting and threatening “Nicaraguan voters that it would continue fueling the decade-old contra war and maintain its economic embargo on Nicaragua” if they did not choose the U.S.’s preferred candidate. Is history repeating itself? 

On February 5, 2019, Venezuelan authorities discovered a shipment of weapons and military equipment on a flight that originated from Miami. 

U.S. history of using humanitarian aid as a pretext for a military intervention is not limited to Nicaragua. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson ordered an invasion of the Dominican Republic. Johnson himself had specifically removed any such references [of a communist threat] from the drafts of his statement [regarding the invasion] to encourage an emphasis on the peace-keeping and humanitarian aspects of the intervention. The Organization of American States signed off on the invasion, only to apologize 50 years later.

Both the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations have denounced the politicization of aid inherent in the U.S. scheme:

Humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or other objectives… What is important is that humanitarian aid be depoliticized and that the needs of the people should lead in terms of when and how humanitarian aid is used.” - U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, February 6, 2019.

Whatever plans U.S. officials “have to help the people of Venezuela, it has to be shielded from this political conversation… It is obviously a very difficult conversation to have with the U.S. … We are not kind of an implementing agency for any donor, specifically not to implement things that have a political tone… We are not taking any side. Regardless of the political situation, our focus will always be on what we can do.”- ICRC director of global operations Dominik Stillhart, February 1, 2019.

Is Venezuela refusing aid? No. 

-The Maduro government has been holding talks with the ICRC, the United Nations and the World Health Organization to receive medical supplies and finance agricultural projects:

-The ICRC and Venezuela’s Health Ministry are discussing a plan to increase support for high risk areas on the Venezuela-Colombia border and to tackle malaria. 

-The UN, through UNICEF and FAO, signed cooperation agreements with Venezuela on education and food, water and transportation services on January 15. The UN Country Team in Venezuela tweeted that they responded to an invitation by President Maduro.

-The World Health Organization and Pan-American Health Organization “continue to strengthen technical cooperation” with Venezuelan authorities and provided 50 tons of medical supplies in 2018.

What Venezuela is refusing is politicized aid from the United States, especially given that the 2017-2018 U.S. sanctions cost the Venezuelan economy over $23 billion in 2018 alone. These sanctions have impacted Venezuela’s ability to import food, medicine and supplies necessary for agricultural production. 

Moreover, through its newest sanctions announced in January 25, 2019, the Trump administration is attempting to take control of nearly $20 billion in Venezuelan assets in the U.S.

Even the New York Times recognizes that the sanctions are hurting everyday citizens.  If the U.S. government had a sincere concern for the well-being of the Venezuelan people, it would immediately lift the economic and financial blockade. 

note: It is important to take on this "humanitarian crisis" disinformation head on and urgently. Many soft-headed, I mean, soft-hearted people are taken in by this argument that Maduro is blocking humanitarian aid. Please distribute widely and encourage your bases to write letters to the editor and otherwise confront this false narrative. The most immediate humanitarian aid that could be provided by the United States and Canada would be to drop the sanctions!