The American Tragedy: Veteran Rams Hindu Family, thinking they were Muslims

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According to the FBI, anti-Muslim hate crimes in the US surged 67% last year, to levels not seen since 2001.

“I believe that’s his military instinct,” Stewart’s brother told NBC News. “You know: Leave no soldier behind, leave no civilian behind, just leave no one behind.”*

The U.S. military taught its future leaders that a “total war” against the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims would be necessary to protect America from Islamic terrorists, according to documents obtained by Danger Room. Among the options considered for that conflict: using the lessons of “Hiroshima” to wipe out whole cities at once, targeting the “civilian population wherever necessary.”*

The American Tragedy: Veteran Rams Hindu Family, thinking they were Muslims, in Sunnyvale: [I live here and the area is heavily populated with Hindus, most being high techi’s in Silicone Valley.]

An Iraq War veteran, who had spent 5 years in that country, was arraigned Friday. On Tuesday, he had plowed into 8 people in an intersection in Sunnyvale, California, particularly aiming at a South Asian family who he assumed to be Muslims.

They weren’t. The names indicate that they are Americans of Indian Hindu heritage (a minority in the US of about 1 million people). The veteran has been charged with a hate crime and with 8 counts of attempted murder.

Witnesses say that after his crime he acted strangely, saying “Thank God for giving me this opportunity!” and “I love you, Jesus, I love you, Jesus.”

 

The victims included a 13-year-old girl, Dhriti and her father; her young brother Prakhar, 9, was hurt, but not by the car. Dhriti experienced swelling of the brain and bleeding, so that physicians had to take off the side of her skull, and she is fighting for her life in critical condition.

Others hurt by the car ramming were Marina Reimler, 32; Soeren Reimler, 33; Ping Lu, 51; Rajesh Narayan, 45; Eric Nava, 24; and Miguel, 15.

Ramming non-combatant pedestrians with an automobile is an ISIL tactic, showing the way in which America’s forever wars are turning its best and brightest into mirror images of their enemy. It is also a sign that the enemy is winning.

Colonel U.S. Marine Kenneth O’Keefe publicly states that ISIL is “a creation, a monster, a Frankenstein created by U.S., the same U.S. State Department. The truth is that it is a strategy military and geopolitical, well thought out by the U.S. military elite, our great Military Industrial Complex by the Israeli military elite and Banking. “

 

Trump, who has previously warned that immigration from Muslim-majority nations threatens European and US security, frequently retweets other messages whose political views he finds favorable.

The enraged vet managed to wound Americans of German, Indian, Chinese and Latino heritage in his fruitless search for other Americans to kill, of Muslim heritage.

Ayaan Hirsi has been lauded in the West as a courageous feminist standing up to Islam in defense of women. A closer look at her work shows that her advocacy for women’s safety and equality is hardly principled or consistent, while her “critique” of Islam built on a foundation of distortions and fabrications.

This heartless crime did not come out of nowhere but is a testimony to nearly two decades of constant warfare and demonization of ordinary Muslims by some in the US elite (including Trump).

That the intended crime so badly misfired is a good metaphor for the way hatred directed by any Americans at any other group of Americans inevitably harms us all.

Nowadays it is Trump who is associated with rapacious white nationalism that is contemptuous of the lives and rights of those not coded as “white” or rich (and whiteness has always been constructed around the propertied classes).

The George W. Bush administration, despite some cynical tokenism, however, was also all about white privilege.

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The 2003 Bush-Cheney war on Iraq (it was a war on Iraq, not in Iraq) was fought on false pretenses– that dictator Saddam Hussein had anything at all to do with 9/11 or that he had advanced and sophisticated nuclear and biological weapons programs and was within 2 years of having a nuclear bomb.

It militarized America’s civilian society, sending hundreds of thousands of Americans over time to a major Arab Muslim country where they lorded it over the brown locals as the new district commissioners of a new colonial empire.

The Iraq War brutalized Iraqis, leaving hundreds of thousands dead, millions wounded or orphaned, and 4 million displaced from their homes.

The tsunami that hit the society swept away old authority structures and led to the proliferation of anti-imperial militias and ultimately to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, members of which the US military imprisoned with 25,000 others in Camp Bucca, introducing them to one another.

It morphed into the so-called Islamic State group (ISIL or Daesh) and tore Iraq and Syria apart in 2014 and after.

Does Islam teach Muslims to hate non-Muslims?

The Qurʾān highlights the special place of Christians and Jews by constantly referring to them as “people of the book.” There are many verses in the Qurʾān that highlight the close relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims. And you will certainly find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ to be the nearest of them in love to the believers. That is because amongst them are savants and monks and because they are not arrogant (Qurʾān 5:83). Additionally, the Qurʾān even prohibits Muslims from insulting the god’s or idols that are worshipped by other religions, Although Muslims obviously disagree with non-Muslims who worship other than God, they are prohibited from insulting or speaking ill of other religious deities. And do not insult those whom they call upon besides Allah (Qurʾān 6:108).

“Why did you kill me” Former Israeli soldier was traumatized because of a child who comes to haunt him every night. He can’t sleep, he wets the bed. “I killed for you, with these hands! You say, ‘Terrorists with blood on their hands?’ I killed more than 40 people for you! I murdered!” Razon wasn’t expressing remorse for the killings, but complaining that he has not been offered treatment for the severe psychiatric impact the butchery he committed in service of Israel has had on him.

At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Americans cycled through Iraq. Some 80,000 were at least slightly injured, and 12,000 were so seriously wounded they will need special medical care the rest of their lives.

The reality is more than bullets and bomb blasts. For our service members, the fight transcends the battlefield. It continues when they come home. It’s replayed and relived, consciously and subconsciously, in real time. After reviewing Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense studies, we found an estimated 420,000 post-9/11 service members experience PTSD, TBI or both.

More tens of thousands were harmed by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, with some driven to drink and homelessness. Suicide rates are high because of the things these young persons were ordered to do or found themselves in a situation where they felt constrained to do them.

Some of them were grouped in with sadists and serial killers who had themselves a grand old time on the killing fields of Iraq. As the 8 and a half-year-long nightmare rolled on, Bush-Cheney started letting white supremacists with gang tats into the US army, something that would have been unthinkable in previous decades.

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Holmes posed for the camera with Mudin’s bloody and half-naked corpse, grabbing the boy’s head by the hair as if it were a trophy deer. Morlock made sure to get a similar memento.

Eventually they all  come home to live among us.

Hatred of Muslims was bound to grow up if the enemy was year after dreary year drawn from their ranks. Given that Americans had gone to a Muslim country and occupied it, resistance to occupation was inevitable.

Just imagine that a foreign country occupied Alabama or Kentucky– what do you think their citizens would do to those troops from abroad who didn’t even speak English but now ran the lives of the locals.

Bush-Cheney turned our police into commandos in full battle gear and provided them with armored vehicles, helping provoke the Black Lives Matter movement. They turned our young men into PTSD basket cases or professional sadists or even war criminals (some of them have gone into politics and risen high).

What if I’m not the hero

What if I’m the bad guy

And they turned many in the general population into bigots with an irrational hatred of Muslims, weirdly conflating white Sufi converts, Bangladeshis, Iranian secularists in LA, and Bosnians from eastern Europe fleeing Christian genocide with Iraqis and Afghans who objected to having foreign troops in their country.

The ISIL-style ramming of innocent civilians in Sunnyvale is a metaphor for what the United States has become.

But we do not have to be this person. We could be real Americans if we wanted, and bring the troops home, and stop finding the latest ethnic group to hate so that our diverse society can be divided and ruled by the likes of Trump and Mercer and Murdoch and other pond scum.

According to US Department of Defense data, since 2001 about 2.5 million Americans went to war in Afghanistan and in Iraq, with more than 800,000 deploying more than once. Nearly 700,000 of those veterans have already been awarded disability status, with another 100,000 pending, according to the VA.

Empire Wars: “Illegal but Legitimate”

Just because these individuals have not been formally charged with war crimes does not mean they will  escape justice, either in this world or the next. Lest we forget, powerful dictators and warmongers look untouchable only for a while. Before they fall into the dustbin of history…

In bypassing the United Nations, engaging in disingenuous negotiations that precluded diplomatic solutions and manipulating the public case for war, Nato’s intervention over Kosovo in 1999 was an important precursor to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

As the region struggles to contend with the environmental and health legacies of cluster bombs and the use of depleted uranium, the 10th anniversary of Nato’s bombing of Serbia must not pass in vain, but instead serve as a timely reminder of the need for dispassionate and neutral analysis of unfolding conflicts and their potential solutions; analysis that endeavors to explore the often tragic complexities of civil wars and the nuanced understandings that their transformation requires.*

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The bombing campaign against Yugoslavia that began on March 24 1999 was the first time NATO went to war. The 78-day campaign, known as Operation Allied Force, was officially conducted to protect civilians.

Wars for Israel

They had been caught in the middle of the conflict between the secessionist insurgents of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and Yugoslavian security forces.

The conflict had dramatically escalated in 1998, when the KLA began an armed campaign to end the Yugoslavian (or, more specifically, Serbian) rule over Kosovo.

Even now, 20 years after the intervention, and despite the military, diplomatic and financial investments of Western powers in Kosovo, a political agreement on the status of Kosovo is nowhere to be seen.

War on Terror the Board Game

Quite to the contrary, tensions between the unilaterally declared Republic of Kosovo and Serbia – the state it seceded from back in February 2008 – are running high.

The interests of both parties appear to be diametrically opposed. Kosovo aims to be recognised as a state by Serbia and, in turn, Serbia’s main national interest is to sabotage the international recognition of its former province.

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‘An excuse to start bombing’

NATO’s air superiority encountered few obstacles in 1999. The transatlantic military intervention began after negotiations between the members of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the KLA, aimed at giving Kosovo greater self governance, collapsed.

Henry Kissinger described the failure of these so-called “Rambouillet talks” as an “excuse to start bombing”.

The uninterrupted bombing of Yugoslavia lasted 78 days and involved 38,400 sorties, including 10,484 strike sorties. By the end, Serbian president Slobodan Milošević had capitulated.

In military terms, Operation Allied Force was a clear success. It achieved its major objectives. Perhaps the most important aim was, through the Kumanovo agreement, the withdrawal of the Yugoslav/Serbian security forces from Kosovo.

NATO troops were subsequently deployed on the ground and remain there to this day.

It should be noted, however, that the bombing was illegal. It was done without the authorisation of the UN Security Council.

An international commission convened to investigate the intervention later came up with a fascinating semantic formula to explain this away – the bombing had been “illegal but legitimate”.

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Soviet poster: NATO

 The operation has been romanticised by its supporters. Former Czech President Václav Havel, for example, described it as the first time that states waged war “in the name of principles and values” rather than their national interest.

This idealist perspective, however, neglects the fact that the intervention had significant geopolitical motivations.

The operation was fervently supported, and indeed implemented, by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair – leaders who were very much a product of their time.

This generation transformed post-Cold War euphoria into military adventurism.

Both leaders developed their own “humanitarian” doctrines which advocated intervention – which, in practice, meant war – to protect threatened civilians. They went on to present themselves as humanitarian heroes at home. Others saw their actions as imperialism.

The Serbian Interior Ministry in Belgrade is set ablaze by a NATO cruise missile attack in 1999. EPA

The campaign also resulted in massive collateral damage. There were hundreds of civilian victims. I’ve found that between 80% and 87.5% of the victims of the Kosovo conflict died during or in the aftermath of Operation Allied Force.

The KLA took advantage of the power vacuum created by the NATO intervention to carry out revenge killings and abductions against Serbs, Bosniaks, Roma and other minorities.

The elusive political settlement

The bombing dramatically shaped the political future of Kosovo. It paved the way towards its (unilaterally declared) independence on February 17 2008 – a move which was encouraged by Washington and some European allies.

At first glance, it would seem that this development would solve the crisis in Kosovo.

But Kosovo is far from achieving full international recognition. It is, for one thing, still unable to join the UN, the gold standard when it comes to statehood.

Even if enough states did support its bid for membership, Kosovo could face a veto – certainly from Russia and probably from China.

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was eventually tried for war crimes in the Hague but died before a verdict was delivered. EPA

An EU-led agreement signed in 2013 aimed at “normalising relations” between Kosovo and Serbia is in deadlock, sabotaged by the mutual distrust of all parties involved. The term “normalise” is, of course, deliberately vague.

For all Kosovo officials I have talked to, nevertheless, the meaning of the term is crystal clear – full mutual recognition.

The problem is that if a solution is not found, further border alterations could be on the cards. That might mean, for example, a potential exchange of territories between Serbia and Kosovo or the unification of the latter with Albania.

The aspiration of uniting all Albanians in a single polity continues to attract support among Albanians in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia.

Western policymakers, however, categorically reject any further border alterations – perhaps because it would illustrate their own failure to “settle” the Kosovo case.

Further border transformations may even plant the seeds for future sovereignty-driven conflicts.

Decades on, it’s clear that reaching a political settlement after a military intervention can be a nightmare. Certainly much more difficult than launching a bombing campaign.

MSNBC Ignores Catastrophic U.S.-Backed War in Yemen

Maddow goes on a ten-minute rant about a Pepe! Meme Magic

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The evidence is damning. And the silence underscores the arrogance.

More than seven weeks after a devastating report from the media watch group FAIR, top executives and prime-time anchors at MSNBC still refuse to discuss how the network’s obsession with Russia has thrown minimal journalistic standards out the window.

FAIR’s study, “MSNBC Ignores Catastrophic U.S.-Backed War in Yemen,” documented a picture of extreme journalistic malfeasance at MSNBC:

● “An analysis by FAIR has found that the leading liberal cable network did not run a single segment devoted specifically to Yemen in the second half of 2017. And in these latter roughly six months of the year, MSNBC ran nearly 5,000 percent more segments that mentioned Russia than segments that mentioned Yemen.”

● “Moreover, in all of 2017, MSNBC only aired one broadcast on the U.S.-backed Saudi airstrikes that have killed thousands of Yemeni civilians. And it never mentioned the impoverished nation’s colossal cholera epidemic, which infected more than 1 million Yemenis in the largest outbreak in recorded history.”

● “All of this is despite the fact that the U.S. government has played a leading role in the 33-month war that has devastated Yemen, selling many billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia, refueling Saudi warplanes as they relentlessly bomb civilian areas and providing intelligence and military assistance to the Saudi air force.”


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MEDIA BLACK-OUT: US Proxy War in Yemen Underway, Saudi Stooges Do Initial Dirty Work

Why put your name on another unpopular war, when your proxy can do it for you? Instead of initially intervening itself, the Pentagon has dispatched its own Arab proxy army in the region to the highly unpopular dirty deeds that Washington normally does. What’s the difference, after all, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are two of the Anglo-American Military Industrial Complex’s best customers – flying all US jets and using all US satellite intel to help select defenseless targets inside Yemen.


Meanwhile, MSNBC’s incessant “Russiagate” coverage has put the network at the media forefront of overheated hyperbole about the Kremlin. And continually piling up the dry tinder of hostility toward Russia boosts the odds of a cataclysmic blowup between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.

In effect, the programming on MSNBC follows a thin blue party line, breathlessly conforming to Democratic leaders’ refrains about Russia as a mortal threat to American democracy and freedom across the globe. But hey—MSNBC’s ratings have climbed upward during its monochrome reporting, so why worry about whether coverage is neglecting dozens of other crucial stories? Or why worry if the anti-Russia drumbeat is worsening the risks of a global conflagration?

FAIR’s report, written by journalist Ben Norton and published on Jan. 8, certainly merited a serious response from MSNBC and the anchors most identified by the study, Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes. Yet no response has come from them or network executives. (Full disclosure: I’m a longtime associate of FAIR.)

In the aftermath of the FAIR study, a petition gathered 22,784 signers and 4,474 individual comments—asking MSNBC to remedy its extreme imbalance of news coverage. But the network and its prime-time luminaries Maddow and Hayes refused to respond despite repeated requests for a reply.

The petition was submitted in late January to Maddow and Hayes via their producers, as well as to MSNBC senior vice president Errol Cockfield and to the network’s senior manager in charge of media relations for “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “All In with Chris Hayes.”

Signers responded to outreach from three organizations—Just Foreign Policy, RootsAction.org (which I coordinate), and World Beyond War—calling for concerned individuals to “urge Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, and MSNBC to correct their failure to report on the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen and the direct U.S. military role in causing the catastrophe by signing our petition.” (The petition is still gathering signers.)

As the cable news network most trusted by Democrats as a liberal beacon, MSNBC plays a special role in fueling rage among progressive-minded viewers toward Russia’s “attack on our democracy” that is somehow deemed more sinister and newsworthy than corporate dominance of American politicians (including Democrats), racist voter suppression, gerrymandering and many other U.S. electoral defects all put together.

At the same time, the anti-Russia mania also services the engines of the current militaristic machinery.

It’s what happens when nationalism and partisan zeal overcome something that could be called journalism.

“The U.S. media’s approach to Russia is now virtually 100 percent propaganda,” the independent journalist Robert Parry wrote at the end of 2017, in the last article published before his death. “Does any sentient human being read the New York Times’ or the Washington Post’s coverage of Russia and think that he or she is getting a neutral or unbiased treatment of the facts?”

Parry added that “to even suggest that there is another side to the story makes you a ‘Putin apologist’ or ‘Kremlin stooge.’ Western journalists now apparently see it as their patriotic duty to hide key facts that otherwise would undermine the demonizing of Putin and Russia. Ironically, many ‘liberals’ who cut their teeth on skepticism about the Cold War and the bogus justifications for the Vietnam War now insist that we must all accept whatever the U.S. intelligence community feeds us, even if we’re told to accept the assertions on faith.”

Fake news about Venezuela: a simple recipe

“Journalists” who want to write fake news about Venezuela, or about any other country or group that dares to stand up to US imperialism, only need to follow this simple recipe:

Choose one or more countries/groups opposed to US imperialism
If available, have a former official, now being paid by the US government, make the accusations
Season well with doses of “war on terror” and/or “war on drugs”
Sprinkle with opinions of “experts” who work in DC think tanks or US-funded NGOs

While this looks like a very unsavory mix, the results last very long and can be reheated with no problems.

This recipe has been used and re-used plenty of times, either by US officials to justify policies or by media outlets. But given how the media critically accepts everything when it comes to foreign policy, there is hardly a distinction to be made here.

A classical example were the fabricated connections between Chávez/Venezuela and al-Qaeda . Other variants involve dealings with the FARC (1), Mexican cartels, and the favourite dance partner is Hezbollah. On one hand, the US’ relation with al-Qaeda is now a bit more complicated, as extremists may get bombed if they are in Iraq but supported if they cross into Syria. On the other, Hezbollah is the biggest obstacle to Israeli hegemony and the colonisation of Palestine. This kind of propaganda is reminiscent of the effort to fabricate connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. Some outlets would even have us believe North Korea was supplying arms to Hamas!

The most recent story involves the newly-appointed vice-president, Tareck El Aissami, who is a perfect ingredient because of his Middle Eastern ancestry. Even though he was born and lived all his life in Venezuela, his parents are Druze immigrants from Lebanon. The storm started with a CNN “story” about the Venezuelan embassy in Iraq selling passports to dangerous people, including members of Hezbollah, who would then use them to attack the US or its allies. This operation was claimed to be directed by El Aissami. This story was directly quoted by Marco Rubio during a renewed push by US lawmakers for more sanctions against Venezuela. These came later from the Department of the Treasury, this time linking El Aissami to Mexican cartels. With a little more effort even the North Koreans might have been added to the party.

Tareck El Aissami with an incriminating Palestinian scarf

All in all, there are many things that do not add up. First of all there is the issue of Hezbollah plotting terror attacks the US, but we will not go into detail here. It suffices to say that the evidence of Hezbollah involvement in terror attacks abroad is, at best, very thin. Then there is the sectarian issue. Western media, at the behest of western allies in the Middle East, keep stirring up this supposedly grave Shia threat, with Iran and Hezbollah even conspiring to reshape demographics and create an all-Shia corridor in the Middle East. And yet their man in Venezuela is a Druze. Equally ludicrous are claims that there are Venezuelan training camps in Lebanon and vice-versa. Hezbollah’s main foe is right next door, but somehow it would need training camps halfway around the world! The links to the drug trade presented by the Treasury are equally flimsy, and were picked apart masterfully by Larissa Costas.

The “star witness” of CNN’s expose, Misael López, has since been revealed to be a close associate of Ana Argotti, who is in turn very close to Lilian Tintori and Leopoldo López, the hard-right politician jailed for his role in the violent activities during the 2014 guarimbas that resulted in over 40 deaths. Argotti has defended several members of the opposition charged with violent crimes during this period. As for Misael López, he is also under investigation for alleged sexual harassment and attempting to withdraw funds from the Venezuelan embassy in Baghdad.

Elusive cartels and double standards

Another high-profile fake story, followed by sanctions, involved Diosdado Cabello, an important figure in the ruling PSUV and head of the National Assembly at the time. Based on the account of a former bodyguard turned star-witness, now living comfortably in the US, Cabello was accused of being the boss of the elusive Cartel de los Soles. This is supposedly a very important Latin American drug cartel run by the Venezuelan military. The problem is that, unlike the stories we hear of cartels violently making themselves known and marking territory, here we have a drug cartel run from the highest levels of the Venezuelan state operating without anyone really noticing it. It is like the Illuminati version of drug cartels.

Diosdado Cabello next to President Nicolás Maduro

Venezuela is often presented as an obstacle in the war on drugs, but the truth is that the main actor in the cocaine trade is neighbouring Colombia, the empire’s best friend and largest recipient of aid in the hemisphere. Any list of officials connected to the drug trade has to start with (former Colombian president) Álvaro Uribe if it is to be taken seriously. We are talking about the country where the para-politics scandal broke, revealing that dozens of elected officials had links to paramilitary groups, the heart and soul of the drug trade. And yet we never hear stories of Colombian politicians or military officials, who cooperate closely with the US military, being involved in illegal activities, nor have sanctions ever been imposed on them.

This double standard is only outrageous if we believe that the war on drugs is actually designed to eradicate the drug trade. Rather, it is supposed to manage it. In fact, drugs have been very useful for US agencies, for instance to pacify black communities and derail the black liberation movement in the 1970s. Coupled with draconian legislation and harsh sentences, today they serve to feed the very lucrative prison industry. In any case, large amounts of cocaine are consumed in the very place where the drug money is laundered – Wall Street. Even when a massive drug money laundering scheme is uncovered at a major US bank, a mild slap on the wrist and a fine worth a few days’ profit is all that can be expected.

Fake news as background

None of this is intended as an endorsement or an exoneration of El Aissami, Cabello, or anyone else. But these news and unproven accusations, as well as others targeting lower-profile officials such as Néstor Reverol, are not meant to prove anything or to lead to any judicial prosecution. They are simply thrown out there and blindly echoed by an uncritical media, they are meant to create background. From now on, whenever Tareck El Aissami appears in the news we will read that he has links to terrorism and the drug trade, and thus whatever he says or does will build on this background.

For the past two decades, Venezuela has been the biggest thorn in the US’ side, a real nuisance in Washington’s “backyard”, striving for an independent course (a “second independence”) and leading the efforts for a regional integration which is not subjected to the interests of the Northern empire. The US responded with its traditional regime-change operation, destabilising at every turn, funding opposition groups, imposing a de-facto financial blockade on Venezuela, even working to lower oil prices. Their natural allies, the Venezuelan elites, have also been outraged that the country they used to own has been taken away from them, and coup-plotting has become their way of life.

And therefore these fake news are pre-emptive justification for a future coup or foreign intervention. Should one of these take place, the media will be ready with plenty of hyperlinks to these fake stories that present Venezuela as a failed, rogue state, connected to terrorism and the drug trade. The coup/foreign intervention would then look like the benign empire saving the world from this threat.

What the empire, the local elites and the media keep underestimating is the power of the masses that were awakened by this project, chavismo, that for the first time sees them placed front and centre. There is now a political conscience, a firm belief that the people should write their own history, and it will take a lot more than fake stories from propaganda outlets to restore Venezuela’s former neo-colonial status. In the words of Chávez:

“Aquí nadie se rinde, carajo!”

Note:

(1) While the FARC have been involved in the drug trade, it has mostly been at the lowest levels of the chain, levying a tax on sales of coca crops. Associating them, and only them, to the Colombian drug trade, is incredibly dishonest and exonerates those who profit the most out of it.

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