Saturday, December 01, 2007

Open Thread and Venezuela Reporting

The post that opens this has a minor typo. It notes the date of the transcript as "Saturday Dec. 12, 2007." It should read, "Saturday December 1, 2007."


Anonymous said...

Transcript – NPR Weekend Edition – Saturday December 12, 2007

John Itzky interviews Juan Forero in Caracas concerning the December 2nd Constitutional referendum. The italics are mine. (Flávio Américo dos Reis).

ITZKY: Venezuelans go to the polls tomorrow to vote on proposed constitutional changes that would give president Hugo Chávez more power. Chávez says the changes would streamline bureaucracy, and give power to community councils run by the people. But opponents say it’s a power grab by an increasingly authoritarian leader. NPR’s Juan Forero is in Caracas and joins us now. Juan, tomorrow’s vote has provoked an unusually strong response among Venezuelans with large numbers of people pouring into the streets in protest.

FORERO: Yes, well a lot of Venezuelans feel that the president is trying to stay in office for life. In fact, one of the articles calls for an indefinite re-election. Right now, you can run for re-election for a second, six-year term. You could run now indefinitely; I mean, he could run as long as he wins, uh, forever, basically. The president also wants more power, uh, power to name governors in newly-created provincial states. And he’s also looking to control the central bank and pretty much all of the government’s finances. So people feel that really everything would be in the president’s hands.

ITZKY: And that’s got a a lot of people riled up.

FORERO: Yeah. The president’s been in office now since 1999, and he has little by little, over the last few years, controlled just about every major institution. Uh, last year in December, he won another six-year term, a second, six-year term, and now he’s been pushing for these reforms. And there’re a lot of people here in Venezuela who just think that it’s going too far—even people in his governing coalition. Uh, there’ve been a number of prominent breaks with former allies of his, people who decided that they didn’t like this reform and that the president was going too far.

ITZKY: While this reform issue has riled up many people at home, Chavez’s acid tongue has been riling up leaders abroad.

FORERO: Well, for the last few weeks, that’s true. The president has been very active, he’s, uh, he’s normally the kind of person who does not hide what he’s thinking. Lately, he’s been escalating his verbal assault against foes, uh, real and imagined: One day, he’s fighting with Colombia’s president, the next minute, he has called church leaders “mentally retarded.” He has also tried to discredit the university movement here that is protesting some of his reforms. Um, so, he’s constantly on television, and, uh, he’s often attacking his opponents.

ITZKY: How are president Chavez’s intemperate comments playing at home?

FORERO: In this country, analyzing Chavez’s comments is almost like political sport. Uh, and some political analysts are saying that the bluster might be going too far this time around. There are other analysts who are saying this is a strategy that is aimed at generating support for the constitutional changes. That’s because some of these reforms are very unpopular with Venezuelans. And so they feel that this bluster is really a scare tactic more than anything else—that it’s really trying to instill fear in people that there’s some kind of world conspiracy against Venezuela and keep their minds off of some of these reforms which really aren’t very popular.

ITZKY: NPR’s Juan Forero in Caracas. Thanks very much.

FORERO: Thank you!

Key words and phrases: The following is an analysis some of the key lies told on NPR this morning about Venezuela, and why they are lies and how they are lies. It follows the very useful practice in French literature classes (Forero’s report is, after all, fiction) of the explication de texte, by isolating key phrases and examining them.

1. “power grab” – See #5. This is a canard, or “red herring”: power grabbers don’t submit constitutional changes to national referenda.

2. “increasingly authoritarian” –See #5. This is also a repeatedly trotted out canard: the “increasingly authoritarian” do not submit constitutional changes to referenda, nor are they continually re-elected by internationally monitored, free and fair elections.

3. “a lot of Venezuelans,” “some of these reforms are very unpopular with Venezuelans”– The phrase “a lot” and the phrase “some” are straws grasped at by people who have no valid arguments. According to James Petras, Embassy-CIA polls say 57% of Venezuelans approved of the reforms. “[T]he vast majority of organized workers, peasants, small farmers, poor neighborhood councils, informal self-employed and public school students have mobilized and demonstrated in favor of the constitutional amendments.” (Source: [->])

4. “trying to stay in office for life” – see #5 Note: Last year, president Alvaro Uribe of Colombia changed his own country’s constitution (sans referendum) to permit his own re-election. (Source: [->]) But not a word about this from Juan Forero.

5. “one of the articles calls for indefinite re-election” - As the Spanish journalist Pascual Serrano has pointed out, this is only one of exactly 33 proposals that constitute the constitutional reform project; and, once again, it is about a criterion that has been in force in the majority of European countries for years, i.e., the possibility that the citizen may re-elect their presidents as many times as they may want to. Moreover, unlike in these other countries, in order for this to take place in Venezuela, this provision needs to be included into a constitutional reform project which, according to the 1999 democratic constitution, must be approved by the people in a referendum. And finally, none of the 33 proposals that constitute the constitutional reform project call for the elimination of the possibility of the citizens to recall the president with enough signatures via a recall referendum.

But when it’s Hugo Chavez that proposes these reforms, then the US and right-wing media the world over trot out the “president for life” propaganda. In fact, Chavez will be in charge at Miraflores Palace for as many times as the Venezuelans want him to be in charge. These are the same criteria which have been established by law in Spain, France, Italy, and in almost all European countries. Chavez would only be no different from Franklin Delano Roosevelt (four terms) or Australia’s John Howard (five terms).

In Venezuela however, as Pascual Serrano points out, this is a scandal despite the fact that it is being determined by referendum—a majority vote by the people—while in Europe it passes for normal that the final agreement on the new EU Reform Treaty, where the failed European Constitution was substituted with a “meeting of experts” of the twenty seven countries, got passed on October 2nd, without any European citizen having knowledge of the reform, or an opportunity to express their opinion, much less vote on it. (Source: [->])

6. “as long as he wins” – Well, sheeit! Even Forero admits to the fact Chávez can only be re-elected “if he wins.” Or was this a slip of the tongue?

7. “forever, basically” – So what you’re saying, Juan, is Chávez must’ve found Ponce de León´s “Fountain of Youth,” basically. Well I want it, damn it! Maybe I can go back to when I wasn’t so folicularly challenged.

8. “control the central bank” – According to James Petras, a renowned US Latin-American studies scholar, “the amendment eliminating so-called ‘Central Bank autonomy’ means that elected officials responsive to the voters will replace central bankers (frequently responsive to private bankers, overseas investors and international financial officials) in deciding public spending and monetary policy. One major consequence will be the reduction of excess reserves in devalued dollar denominated funds and an increase in financing for social and productive activity, a diversity of currency holdings and a reduction in irrational foreign borrowing and indebtedness. The fact of the matter is that the Central Bank was not ‘autonomous,’ it was dependent on what the financial markets demanded, independent of the priorities of elected officials responding to popular needs.” (Source: [->])

9. “even people in his governing coalition” – If Forero means former defense minister Raul Baduel, Baduel only supported Chávez when he saw the people out on the streets encircling the Miraflores Palace and demanding that the paratroops bring their elected president back. He had hoped that a «chastened» Chávez would kiss and make up with his opposition. And as a defense minister, he was willfully negligent of security matters, particularly Colombian paramilitary incursions into Venezuela and kidnappings (see Rodrigo Granda), as James Petras has pointed out. But no mention is made of who exactly are these members in his own coalition. (Source: [->])

10. “Chavez’s acid tongue” – This mention alone tells you where these people are coming from: they are not reporters, but propagandists in the classic sense.

11. “foes, uh, real and imagined” - Chavez is opposed by Venezuela’s major big business federation—FEDECAMARAS, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, which supported the failed coup of 2002, the right-wing controlled mass media, and a host of other very real, virulent and right-wing elements of that society.

12. “fighting with Colombia’s president” - Yeah, that crack whore Uribe! On Wednesday, November 21, Uribe abruptly "fired" Chávez from his role as a mediator seeking a humanitarian agreement between Bogotá and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), to exchange hostages held by the insurgents for imprisoned guerrillas. Chávez arrived in France on Nov. 20 without having obtained solid proof of life from the FARC for French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt, nor for any of the other hostages, and he complained about the difficulties Uribe had put in the way of his meetings with guerrilla commanders. It was Uribe who had called on Chávez to mediate, but then backed off (he must have received a call from Washington).

Uribe called off Chávez’s participation in seeking a prisoner-hostage swap after the Venezuelan leader spoke briefly by telephone with Colombian army chief General Mario Montoya. Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba had called Montoya and passed the receiver over to Chávez.

According to Bogotá, Chávez broke his word on agreed working methods, which expressly forbade him to talk to Colombian military commanders. But according to the Venezuelan government, Uribe used this as a spurious pretext to abort the ongoing negotiations. And let’s not forget Uribe’s own scandals earlier this year. See #15.

13. “calling church leaders ‘mentally retarded’” – Recently, the Venezuelan government called on the Venezuelan (Catholic) Bishops Conference to answer if it knew in advance of the planning of violent acts on church premises that led to the death of one Venezuelan, José Aníbal Oliveros because of reports it received from certain among the faithful who had gone to mass, only to find themselves in the middle of the planning of ‘guarimbas’ or street disturbances. Chávez has also called Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino a liar, mentally retarded and a sycophant for telling the faithful that the proposed constitutional reforms will rescind freedom of worship: not one of the proposed constitutional reforms suppress freedom of worship.

Many high-ranking Church officials have openly aligned themselves with the opposition - the late Cardinal José Ignacio Velasco was present in the Miraflores Presidential Palace and tried to persuade Chavez to sign a resignation letter when rebelling military officers detained him during failed coup attempt in April 2002. He [Ignacio Velasco] then signed a decree handing power to Pedro Carmona.

Also, in October 2005 Venezuelan Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara met with opposition representatives and was quoted as saying afterwards that Venezuelans ought to "deny recognition" to the Chavez government because it is, "ill-fated and dangerous." Obviously, the Catholic hierarchy in Venezuela is not happy with the defunding of Catholic schools. But even more likely, they are unhappy with one of the proposed constitutional reforms that forbids discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation.

There are many reasons why Chavez, a Roman Catholic, criticizes the Catholic hierarchy. But you won’t hear about them from Juan Forero or NPR.

14. “university movement” – According to James Petras, “a minority movement, led by private university students backed by top administrators” (James Petras) (Source: [->])

15. “scare tactic” “world conspiracy against Venezuela” The Guardian’s Isabel Hilton reported earlier this year in March “the most dangerous scandal for Uribe comes from the arrest of Jorge Noguera, his former campaign manager and, from 2002 to 2005, head of the DAS (Defense Administration Services). Former DAS colleagues have told investigators of Noguera's close collaboration with Jorge 40 - which included lending him Uribe's personal armoured vehicle - and with other paramilitary leaders. The accusations include an assassination plot against Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez, the murder of political opponents, electoral fraud, doctoring police and judicial records to erase paramilitary cases. Noguera worked directly to Uribe and when the investigations began, the president appointed him consul in Milan. The supreme court has forced his return.» (Source: [->])

But wait, there´s more. According to Venezuelan-American lawyer Eva Golinger «an internal CIA memorandum has been obtained by Venezuelan counterintelligence from the US Embassy in Caracas that reveals a very sinister—almost fantastical, were it not true—plan to destabilize Venezuela during the coming days. The plan titled ‘Operation Pliers’ was authored by CIA Officer Michael Middleton Steere and w was addressed to CIA Director General Michael Hayden in Washington. Steere is stationed at the US Embassy in Caracas under the guise of a Regional Affairs Officer. The internal memorandum, dated November 20, 2007, references the ‘Advances of the Final Stage of Operation Pliers,’ and confirms that the operation is coordinated by the team of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) in Venezuela. The memo summarizes the different scenarios that the CIA has been working on in Venezuela for the upcoming referendum vote on December 2nd. The Eletoral Scenario, as it’s phrased, confirms that the voting tendencies will not change substantially before Sunday, December 2nd, and that the SI (Yes) vote in favor of the constitutional reform has an advantage of about 10-13 points over the NO vote. The CIA estimates abstentions around 60% and states in the memo that this voting tendency is irreversible before the elections.»

«Officer Steere emphasizes the importance and success of the public relations campaign that the CIA has been funding with more than $8million during the past month—funds that the CIA confirms are transferred through the USAID contracted company, Development Alternatives, Inc., which set up operations in June 2002 to run the USAID Office for Transition Initiatives that funds and advises opposition NGOs and political parties in Venezuela. The CIA memo specifically refers to these propaganda initiatives as ‘psychological operations’ (PSYOPS) that include contracting polling companies to create fraudulent polls that show the NO vote with an advantage over the SI vote, which is false. The CIA also confirms in the memo that it is working with international press agencies to distort data and information about the referendum and that it coordinates in Venezuela with a team of journalists and media organized and directed by the President of Globovisión, Alberto Federico Ravell.»

Sources: (1) [->] and (2) [->]

So, to sum it up, I am sick and tired of NPR and I wish all their snarky, chucklesome, and lying presstitutes would all go get drowned together.

As you can see from my typed transcript, absolutely none of the actual constitutional reforms were discussed by Itchy and Scratchy, such as the reduction of the work day to six hours and the reduction of the work week to 36 hours (in line with other developed countries, like France), or the reduction of the voting age from 18 years to 16 years (in line with countries like Austria) which would allow for the majority young country to vote, or the remuneration of housework by women. No, that wasn´t talked about by snarky Juan Forero. And I cannot help but take advantage of this opportunity to point out that that is exactly how the meretricious media in the US cover their own politics, by chucklesome and snarky innuendo, by horse-race discussions, all the while avoiding discussing platforms and issues.

Oh, how you suck, NPR! This morning, you truly outdid yourselves and lived up to your real acronym, National Propaganda Radio.

And you haven’t left the Marconi age yet long enough to realize anybody can find out the truth on the internet, the veracity of your mendaciousness, your meretriciousness, or the fact you are indeed presstitutes.

Porter Melmoth said...

Thanks Flávio. The thousand offenses of NPR come to the surface particularly quickly when Latin American subjects crop up. Yeah, I heard Juan F., too. In his 'every sentence is an exclamation' approach to the subtle matters 'south of the border', he emerges as a dipshit passing as a journalist. Maybe because he has a Hispanic-sounding name, that gives him an 'in' or something. If I ran the NPR circus, Juan wouldn't even get to do a voice-over for a second hand car sale. He'd be OUT, baby, OUT. At NPR, it seems that you're either lousy in the on-air talent department, or else you're so steeped in the Neocon love for Dick Cheney that there's precious little room for sincerity of any kind. We all have a few names we still respect under the NPR yoke, but it makes you wonder, at that point, it's either the money or the attendant connections that would continue to string you along as a participant. Well, screw this rubbish. There's something far more important coming up tonight: a Spencer Tracy film . . .

Anonymous said...

(applauds & waves anti-NPR placard)

Anonymous said...

PS: been having an Ingmar Bergman-fest here.

Anonymous said...

Oh, one more thing about the Church hierarchy I forgot to mention.

In September of this year, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Sabino asked for clemency for the police officers being prosecuted for the murder of almost one hundred people, the ones who ordered the metropolitan police to fire on the Chavista crowds in Puente Llaguno on April 11th of 2002--Henry Vivas, Lázaro Forero and Iván Simonovis.

Some of the officers of the metropolitan police appeared in the documentary movie Puente Llaguno: Claves de una masacre. You can see the documentary here:


And thanks for all the great comments, Porter and Big Pink.


Anonymous said...

So, as you can see, the Cardinal is retarded--by about 500 years!


Anonymous said...

That was a beautiful post Flavio. Ever since MyTWords exposed Forero about a year ago, I have assumed he worked for the CIA. Your point #8 is perfectly in line with this. And as another contributor mentioned (was it the FuzzyBunny?) Operation Mockingbird may still be ..operational.

Anonymous said...


Can you correct the date? It was a typo, I meant 12-2, not 12-12.



Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the kind words, Larry. I really do think «Operation Mockingbird» is still operative/operational. I had almost forgotten: if my memory serves me, it involves «planting» intelligence people in the major media. How could anyone ever doubt that (LOL)?

Warmest regards,


Mytwords said...

Thanks for the great post, Flavio. I can't edit posts, but I put the correction in the Open Thread description so it will be clear to anyone before they even see the post.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, MYTWORDS!

By the way, Chavez accepted the results with equanimity.

There was a 1.5% advantage for the "no" vote, thanks in part to interference in Venezuelan affairs by the likes of USAID, the NED, etc.

According to a Swiss observer, there was not enough time for the people to be educated about the true "import" of the reforms, so that is why Chavez said the opposition won "for now."

Now, when you hear people calling Chavez a "dictator" and an "autocrat," you have my permission, as a Latin American and a Brazilian to slap them silly.

Ok. Don't slap them. Just tell the illiterates to get the f! off your face and go to a stinkin' library (one of the last free institutions in the US) and read for a change and stop relying on the MSM who are there, after all, to mis-inform people, and have a consistent record of doing so.

Nuff said. Love you, hermano.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, Larry - while it is said that sometimes a blind squirrel finds an acorn (or in this case, a blind bunny his natural source of beta carotene), it was not I who brought Operation Mockingbird to the meta-discussion. Discredit where due.

But I have been mentally kicking in with Baby James & Carly in (sardonic) celebration! "yeah?" "yeah!"