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Legislative session ends early, probably with no special session

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Castillero et al
Marcos Castillero chairs the last session of his two-term National Assembly presidency, closing shop early on April 29 at a reasonable hour. No mad rush to debate pressing business or controversial measures this time, and with that lost opportunities to slip outrageous amendments into the law without anybody looking. Asamblea Nacional photo by Erick Santos.

Little drama allowed at the end of the Pandemic Days legislative year

by Eric Jackson

Some legislative years go right up to the midnight on April 30 deadline in a frantic rush. Sometimes, to avoid that, important legislation gets put off for special sessions, which only the president of the republic can call and can only take up the business the chief executive specifies. There will be committee meetings, courtesy calls and photo opportunities between now and the July 1 start of the next legislative year, but it’s unlikely that there will be nay more plenary sessions on Marcos Castillero’s shift.

After presiding over the National Assembly for two consecutive legislative years, Castillero is stepping back. Into which post, we shall see. Not only are the body’s new officers for the coming year selected in early July, but also the committee assignments are made and the committee chairs elected. Several are the plum positions, but the chair of the budget committee is typically the most prized of these. Six PRD deputies are lobbying their colleagues to be the next National Assembly president, including PRD party president and Bocas del Toro deputy Benicio Robinson.

So, what did Castillero himself point to as the main accomplishments of this past session? At the top of his list was the COVID epidemic, with sanitary laws, budget adjustments and provisions to keep statistics on the calamity passing through the legislature. The wave of business failures prompted by the pandemic in turn prompted some adjustments to the bankruptcy laws. The travel restrictions during the most severe of the lockdowns presented special problems for cancer patients who would have to come from the Interior to the capital for treatments so the legal basis — although not yet the funding and other details — for a cancer treatment network in the Interior was laid. The Santamaria River watershed in Veraguas was declared a protected area. There will be day centers for senior citizens living on the edge in urban areas, where they might get certain services or just hang out with their peers. All manner of symbolic resolutions honoring this or that were passed.

The big economic stuff? Some banking legislation was passed but the president vetoed it. If Castillero talked about incentives for construction companies that build or renovate sports facilities, can we honestly engage in that conversation without talking about the legislators who have misappropriated PANDEPORTES funds, or who play boss in various of the national sports federations? Outgoing National Assembly presidents generally don’t like to talk about the scandals and Castillero didn’t even though there was plenty to talk about were there the will to do so.

The moratoria on utility shutoffs, foreclosures and evictions are presidential decrees with expiration dates that were already extended. With the labor unions at the forefront of growing economic protests it’s easy enough to see a coming social explosion if and when the banks and utilities get to declare all arrears due and owing and act to enforce that. Wonderful fishing waters for demagogues, not so wonderful if you are the banker who is vice president of Panama and to whom many policy decisions have been devolved by the president. So deputy Zulay Rodríguez (PRD-San Miguelito) had her package of legislation to address these at the banks’ and utilities’ expense. Most of her colleagues didn’t care to hear her scream about it in her usual style, but most importantly, Commerce and Economic Affairs Committee chair Ricardo Torres (PRD-Veraguas) would not put it on the agenda. So, social media storms in which Torres was reviled as a traitor, and the convening of a crowd of supporters to cheer her on from the legislature’s gallery for a planned confrontation. But Castillero locked Zulay’s supporters out.

What got left out

It wasn’t just Zulay’s rants that Castillero’s adjournment until July cut off. 

The also didn’t want to see Arquesio Arias (PRD-Guna Yala), just acquitted by the Supreme Court with five magistrates voting guilty of rape against four voting not guilty. Maybe the boys’ club might want to welcome and congratulate Arquesio, but guys like that hate to see the feminist and anti-corruption protesters who are not done with Arias. 

More generally, the government’s debt has gone up more than $20 billion in the less than two years since Nito Cortizo took office and will climb some more due to epidemic exigencies. Many businesses are gone forever, others are trying to get by via wage cuts, the informal economy is now without any doubt MOST of the Panamanian economy and if the bankers call in their loans, let’s see what sort of market there will be for their collateral? And a foreign sugar daddy? Put China and the United States in competition for this dubious honor and Panamanians are likely to find that the deals they offer are not so sweet.

Then, with the slow unfolding of Panama’s vaccination program, due to high prices of patented medicines, we can’t be sure that the present low COVID infection and death rates won’t give way to a deadly third wave before this epidemic runs its course. Not that this PRD caucus has itself obeyed health restrictions, but if things get worse again there will be some extra added budget complications for them to address.

What better time to take a couple of months off?

 

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Cinco de Mayo on the isthmus

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Panama honors its firefighters today

by Eric Jackson

It’s Cinco de Mayo. Not the same thing here as it is to Mexicans – and for some reason even more so to Mexican-Americans. It’s not the celebration of a battle where foreign interlopers were routed.

Here in Panama it’s the solemn commemoration of the sacrifices that the volunteers and professionals of the oldest part of the Panamanian government, the Cuerpo de Bomberos — the firefighters — have made and make.

In the wee hours of May 5, 1914, the bomberos were called in to fight a fire in a row of wooden buildings near the present-day site of Hospital Santa Fe. Hidden away there was a clandestine and illegal fireworks factory, which exploded. Six firefighters were killed and 11 injured. Also killed in the blast were six police officers who were helping the firefighters.

If you go to the monument in Plaza Cinco de Mayo, it bears the watchwords Discipline, Honor and Abnegation.

The bomberos were founded in 1885, nearly 18 years before Panama became an independent country. They are a core of professional firefighters and a larger group of volunteers. Not only are they the people who will run into a burning building that everyone who can has run out of to do battle with a blaze, but they get called into all sorts of other emergencies. The current epidemic is no exception, and bomberos have fallen in the line of duty from that, too. The firefighters have also from time to time had to do battle with the government, to get proper equipment and protective clothing.

 

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Protestarán los canaleros

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Canal workers protest

 

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Editorials: Colombia; SENNIAF; and Afghanistan

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UN HR
UN human rights observers in Medellin on April 28. The violence has degenerated since then to the point that the United Nations team reported on May 4 that government forces had fired shots at some of their members. Wikimedia photo by “Humano Salvaje” – in Colombia it’s dangerous for photographers not embedded in government forces to allow the latter to identify them.

Beyond diplomatic recognition of whoever is in control, other countries should distance themselves from Colombia

Álvaro Uribe always was a death squad politician. When he was governor of Antioquia, his helicopter was overhead during the notorious El Aro Massacre. He said at the time that he knew nothing about it and the US Embassy in Bogota backed him. Now he may yet be tried, judged and sentenced for his long criminal career. Uribe’s protégé and successor, Iván Duque, has carried on the tradition. The current Colombian government is an instrument of violent rural land dispossession, racist attacks on indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and as we now see, thuggish attacks on protesters who were well within their rights and people just walking down the street.

US tax dollars and Southern Command military advice all along. Panama allowing the United States to be a forward operating location to support this stuff all along. And is somebody going to say “But Venezuela…”? That excuses nothing, no matter what nasty things might be accurately said about Nicolás Maduro.

Not only shooting citizens of his own country, but now shooting at UN human rights observers? The world should turn its back on Mr. Duque and Mr. Uribe.

 

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A reference to another scandal that the accused should have known about.
Photo from a protester’s Twitter feed.

Surely he knew more

Michael Olson was the legal coordinator for the Protection Department for the National Secretariat for Childhood, Adolescence and the Family — SENNIAF. Prosecutors say he effectively ran the department and had full knowledge of the matters that were brought up to it. He is accused of signing off on the transfer of two minors to an adult facility, although by various accounts there is more to that horror story than just that. He was let out on his own recognizance, with provisions that he not leave the country and that he report to police once a week while the charge against him is pending.

Two social workers at SENNIAF reported a long list of abuses, including several rapes, last year. They were fired. This litany would have been in the Protection Department’s bailiwick. As the tales that came to public light President Cortizo kicked the deputy director of SENNAIF upstairs to be governor of Panama province. She took Mr. Olson with him as her aide. It’s unclear if, now that charges are lodged against him, he still does that job.

Meanwhile, investigations drag on, with two people now serving time and 10 others awaiting trial for crimes or alleged crimes committed at facilities that SENNIAF ran or oversaw. There are some lurid accusations there.

Let’s uphold the presumption of innocence, even if we recognize that in Panama it’s not treated as a right but as a privilege of the rich or powerful. But let’s not accept a token slap on the wrist for an administrator, given how grave and widespread the abuses were.

Do we want to allege a conspiracy of evil people here? People may have conspired to cover up evil things, but that’s not the real problem. The real problems are about civil servants who get fired for doing their jobs honestly, and an arrogant cast of political patronage appointees who consider themselves unaccountable.

 

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The Afghan National Army, a foreign creation. They may surprise us, but most probably they will be run off the field shortly after the foreign forces leave Afghanistan. Photo by Lieutenant Sally Armstrong.

Hillary’s assessment is probably right, but if her conclusion is that US forces should stay in Afghanistan, that’s wrong

Hillary Clinton warns of “huge consequences” in store if the United States pulls its military forces out of Afghanistan. She’s right. What’s likely to happen is a brief pause in the fighting for the withdrawal to take place, then a resumption of warfare that the Taliban is likely to win. That would mean large refugee migrations. It might mean not only persecution of those who sided with the Americans, but human rights violations against various segments of the population, not the least of whom would be women and girls used to more freedom than the religious strictures that would likely be imposed.

America needs to take a lot of these people in, and help the rest to find safety and the chance to start anew elsewhere. It will be costly. There will be people taken in who don’t find an honorable way to fit in. We are dealing in large part with traumatized victims of war.

The most damaging thing that the USA could do would be to skip out on obligations to those who fought for the Americans. Selfishness and all sorts of prejudices may be popular among segments of Americana, but in the long run betrayal is and should be a very unpopular thing.

 

Asa Philip Randolph. Library of Congress photo.

               Freedom is never given, it is won.

A. Philip Randolph               

Bear in mind…

All battles are first won or lost in the mind.

Joan of Arc

I do not want to die… until I have faithfully made the most of my talent and cultivated the seed that was placed in me until the last small twig has grown.

Kathe Kollwitz

Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

George Orwell

 

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La violencia en Colombia

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El problema entre nuestros vecinos

por varios

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Will the end of the COVID-19 pandemic usher in a second Roaring ’20s?

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flapper
In the wake of COVID-19, the 2020s may be a time when we reconsider how we work, run governments and have fun, just as the 1920s were. This illustration of a flapper girl, created by artist Russell Patterson in the 1920s, captures the style of that era. Library of Congress graphic.

Might it be like a century ago?

by Agnes Arnold-Forster, McGill University

While some places remain mired in the third wave of the pandemic, others are taking their first tentative steps towards normality. Since April 21, Denmark has allowed indoor service at restaurants and cafes, and football fans are returning to the stands. In countries that have forged ahead with the rollout of vaccines, there is a palpable sense of optimism.

And yet, with all this looking forward, there is plenty of uncertainty over what the future holds. Articles on what the world will look like post-pandemic have proliferated and nations worldwide are considering how to recover financially from this year-long economic disaster.

Almost exactly a hundred years ago, similar conversations and preparations were taking place. In 1918, an influenza pandemic swept the globe. It infected an estimated 500 million people — around a third of the world’s population at the time — in four successive waves. While the end of that pandemic was protracted and uneven, it was eventually followed by a period of dramatic social and economic change.

The Roaring ‘20s — or “années folles” (“crazy years”) in France — was a period of economic prosperity, cultural flourishing and social change in North America and Europe. The decade witnessed a rapid acceleration in the development and use of cars, planes, telephones and films. In many democratic nations, some women won the right to vote and their ability to participate in the public sphere and labour market expanded.

Parallels and differences

As a historian of health care, I see some striking similarities between then and now, and as we enter our very own ’20s it is tempting to use this history as a way of predicting the future.

Vaccine rollouts have raised hope for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. But they’ve also raised questions about how the world might bounce back, and whether this tragic period could be the start of something new and exciting. Much like in the 1920s, this disease could prompt us to reconsider how we work, run governments and have fun.

However, there are some crucial differences between the two pandemics that could alter the trajectory of the upcoming decade. For one, the age-profile of the victims of the influenza pandemic was unlike that of COVID-19.

Black and white image of a nurse in a hospital ward
Walter Reed Hospital flu ward during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-19, in Washington D.C. That pandemic primarily affected younger people, posing an immediate risk of death to those in their 20s and 30s. (Shutterstock)

The 1918 flu — also called the Spanish flu — predominantly affected the young, whereas COVID-19 has mostly killed older people. As a result, fear probably refracted through the two societies in different ways.

Young people have certainly been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic: the virus has posed a threat to those with underlying health conditions or disabilities of all ages, and some of the variants have been more likely to affect younger people. A year of lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders has had a damaging effect on mental and emotional health, and young people have experienced increased anxiety.

However, the relief of surviving the COVID-19 pandemic might not feel quite the same as that experienced by those who made it through the 1918 influenza pandemic, which posed an immediate risk of death to those in their 20s and 30s.

1918 vs. 2020

Crucially, the 1918 flu came immediately after the First World War, which produced its own radical reconstitution of the social order. Despite the drama and tragedy of 2020, the changes we are living through now might be insufficient to produce the kind of social transformation witnessed in the 1920s. One of the key features of the Roaring ’20s was an upending of traditional values, a shift in gender dynamics and the flourishing of gay culture.

Josephine Baker on stage.
Josephine Baker’s verve, performance style and daring outfits made her a star in 1920s Paris.
National Portrait Gallery photo, Smithsonian Institution 1926.
, CC BY

While the prospect of similar things happening in the 2020s might seem promising, the pandemic has reinforced, rather than challenged, traditional gender roles. There is evidence for this all over the world, but in the United States research suggests that the risk of mothers leaving the labour force to take up caring responsibilities at home amounts to around US$64.5 billion per year in lost wages and economic activity.

When most people think of the Roaring ’20s they probably call to mind images of nightclubs, jazz performers and flappers — people having fun. But fun costs money. No doubt, there will be plenty of celebration and relief when things return to a version of normality, but hedonism will probably be out of reach for most.

Young people in particular have been hard hit by the financial pressures of COVID-19. Workers aged 16-24 face high unemployment and an uncertain future. While some have managed to weather the economic storm of this past year, the gap between rich and poor has widened.

Inequality and isolationism

Of course, the 1920s was not a period of unadulterated joy for everyone. Economic inequality was a problem then just as it is now. And while society became more liberal in some ways, governments also enacted harsher and more punitive policies, particularly when it came to immigration — specifically from Asian countries.

The Immigration Act of 1924 limited immigration to the U.S. and targeted Asians. Australia and New Zealand also restricted or ended Asian immigration and in Canada, the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923 imposed similar limitations.

There are troubling signs that this might be the main point of similarity between then and now. Anti-Asian sentiment has increased and many countries are using COVID-19 as a way of justifying harsh border restrictions and isolationist policies.

In our optimism for the future, we must remain alert to all the different kinds of damage the pandemic could cause. Just as disease can be a mechanism for positive social change, it can also entrench inequalities and further divide nations and communities.The Conversation

Agnes Arnold-Forster, Researcher, History of Medicine and Healthcare, McGill University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 

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Kermit’s birds / Las aves de Kermit

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faisana
Gray-headed Chachalaca / Chacalaca Cabecigris / Ortalis cinereiceps
Encontrado en Gamboa, Colón, Panamá © Kermit Nourse

La Chacalaca Cabecigris / The Gray-headed Chachalaca

Weighing about 18 ounces and 20 inches long, this bird is hunted for food in Panama. It’s often called the paisana or faisana, which means pheasant in Spanish. It’s also sometimes compared to the wild turkey. However, chacalacas are neither turkeys nor pheasants, nor very closely related. In spite of their aptitude for the dinner table they seem to be numerous. They make secondary lowland forests, and cleared lands that have some trees or bushes on them, as their usual homes. They are found on both sides of the isthmus and in the larger of the Perlas Islands. They are plentiful in the canal area. Their range extends from Honduras to northeastern Colombia.

 

Con un peso de aproximadamente 18 onzas y 20 pulgadas de largo, esta ave se caza para comer en Panamá. A menudo se le llama paisana o faisana. A veces también se compara con el pavo salvaje. Sin embargo, las chacalacas no son pavos ni faisanes, ni son parientes muy cercanos. A pesar de su aptitud para la mesa, parecen ser numerosos. Hacen bosques secundarios de tierras bajas y talan tierras que tienen algunos árboles o arbustos, como sus hogares habituales. Se encuentran a ambos lados del istmo y en la mayor de las Islas Perlas. Son abundantes en la zona del canal. Su rango se extiende desde Honduras hasta el noreste de Colombia.

 

 

 

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Turner, We should ask for more

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Nina
Nina Turner. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Biden’s first 100 days show that we must have the courage to ask for more

by Nina Turner — Common Dreams

When we think back to the great achievements in American history, they are all tied together by the same story. Whether it was the creation of Medicare and Social Security or the success of the civil rights movement, the victories were won by the people and their elected representatives demanding both progress and justice, while rejecting the status quo.

Cleveland has a long tradition of being represented in Congress by Democrats who understand this lesson from history and do not just go along to get along. That is exactly the tradition we need right now.

Today, our city is at the center of America’s problem of poverty, inequality, deindustrialization, and racial inequity. That means we need to elect a congressperson who has both legislative experience working with Democratic leaders, and also the courage to push those leaders to do as much as possible to address the emergencies threatening our city, our nation, and our planet.

In President Biden’s first 100 days, progressives have pushed the administration further towards our position while recognizing that the job is far from over. The administration has taken important steps on a number of issues, from introducing a larger recovery bill to expanding the definition of infrastructure to include caregiving and the recent decision to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 an hour. These are significant steps in a positive direction for the country.

The strength of the progressive movement nationwide — and the grassroots’ courage to ask for more — has pushed this administration further than what many of us expected. But we cannot accept these moves as enough — they are only the beginning.

Having represented our community on the city council and in the state legislature, I have balanced the job of both negotiating with my fellow Democrats and pushing them to be bold — and I know how tough a task it is to make real progress. But I also know that while some may be comfortable with maintaining the status quo, that is not acceptable. This community needs a Democratic representative who will work arm-in-arm with the Biden administration and congressional leaders — and who will push them to deliver what we urgently need.

Cleveland is now the poorest large city in the country with nearly one-third of city residents living in poverty. Ohio’s 11th congressional district ranks in the top-ten nationally in child poverty, with nearly 60% of children living below 185% of the federal poverty line. Meanwhile, our region is continuing to lose jobs, as deindustrialization has decimated our local economy.

In light of that, we need a representative in Congress who has the courage to ask for more than just half measures — we need far-reaching initiatives like a federal jobs guarantee that will ensure all of our neighbors have the right to a good-paying union job.

Nearly 30 percent of workers nationwide, disproportionately Black and brown, make less than $15 an hour. Ohio’s minimum wage of $8.80 per hour is a starvation wage and is far too low for our people to reasonably survive while working full-time. We need a representative in Congress who has the courage to fight for a $15 minimum wage when members in our party are willing to accept less. Our neighbors deserve the dignity of a living wage.

Unionization rates, once sky-high in the industrial Midwest, have dropped significantly over the past few decades. Today only 13 percent of Ohio workers are represented by a union. While those in the pockets of big corporations are complicit in these companies’ extreme union-busting practices, we need a representative who will fight for workers’ rights to organize and improve working conditions. We must pass the PRO Act and deliver a real solution to big business efforts to limit worker power and line executives’ pockets.

During the pandemic, over 1 million Ohioans lost their employer-based health insurance, further demonstrating the ruthlessness of the American healthcare system. We need to push for universal healthcare, to ensure that no one is afraid of going bankrupt from seeing a doctor or changing jobs.

When it comes to civil rights and criminal justice, we need the same fighting spirit from our congressperson.

Republicans nationwide are proposing and passing deep cuts to voting rights, that will disproportionately impact Black and brown Americans who are already marginalized from the country’s voting system. Here in Ohio, reactionary Republicans have begun to lay the groundwork for a bill that would decimate voting laws. We must pass the For the People Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act to expand voting rights and provide oversight of states when they try to enact racist voting rules.

Black and brown people nationwide face a death sentence when they interact with police. It’s beyond time to move police away from responding to traffic stops, like the situation that led to a police officer killing Duante Wright. We must have a representative in Congress who will fight for these policies that will benefit our communities and divert funding from police to other social services proven to lower crime rates.

And finally, when it comes to our environment and the survival of future generations, we must recognize that climate change is an existential threat. Scientists say we only have a few years to stop irreparable damage to the planet — and our region is in particular danger of harm. That means we need a representative who is willing to fight for policies like a Green New Deal that will transform our economy and energy grids to save the planet.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all of these crises. But giving up or accepting an inadequate status quo cannot be an option. In this election, we have an opportunity to continue voting for transformational change and to elect a representative who will always fight the good fight for our community, even when it is hard. Progressives have planted the seeds that have made the first 100 days of this administration a positive step forward in delivering solutions for our many intersecting crises. And while it is important to acknowledge the accomplishments made, we must always have the courage to ask for more.

That is what I’ve done my entire life — and that is exactly what I will do in Washington.

 

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Gremios periodísticos rechazan amenazas por Martinelistas a periodistas

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Abogado de Martinelli, en medio de Martinelli, amenaza a periodistas

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Inspector General tells us what we knew about a “humanitarian coup”

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Howard
The former US Air Force base at Howard, now home to a regional disaster relief depot and transport center, was used for Trump’s attempted coup in Venezuela. These transport planes were caught taking part in it. An offended International Committee of the Red Cross / Red Crescent quickly disavowed the military moved and denounced the use of the word “humanitarian” in connection with it.

IG report finds Trump aid to Venezuela
was aimed at toppling Maduro

by Brett Wilkins — Common Dreams

Progressive observers of United States foreign policy in Latin America were unsurprised yet still expressed alarm Thursday over details in a new report from the US Agency for International Development that shows the Trump administration’s humanitarian aid to Venezuela was at least partially motivated by a desire for regime change in Caracas.

The report published earlier this month by the USAID inspector general’s office states that “the US government’s key foreign policy goals” in Venezuela following President Nicolás Maduro’s 2018 reelection were to “increase pressure on Maduro to step down” and “support Guaidó’s legitimacy as the interim president,” a reference to the unelected opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has also received a show of support from President Joe Biden.

“Accordingly, USAID prioritized aid to the Venezuelan people in coordination with the interim president, including issuing in-kind grants to distribute humanitarian commodities inside Venezuela,” the report says. This included supporting an unnamed Venezuelan NGO perceived as aligned with US foreign policy objectives despite not knowing “whether the organization had the capacity to comply with USAID’s legal and financial requirements.”

Inspector general for USAID confirms what was abundantly clear: the US government’s delivery of humanitarian aid in Venezuela was intended to pressure Maduro and force regime change. pic.twitter.com/8i3PuAygUd

— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) April 30, 2021

The IG investigation found that out of 368 metric tons of humanitarian aid designated for delivery to Venezuela by the agency, only eight metric tons arrived in the country, with the rest going to Colombia and Somalia. Aid that was sent to Venezuela arrived in military transport planes, a move the report says “was not justified by operational needs as commercial transportation was available and less expensive.”

The report also acknowledges that the failed February 2019 aid convoy organized by US special representative Elliott Abrams — whose history in the region includes using humanitarian aid flights to arm Contra terrorists in Nicaragua and covering up massacres committed by US-backed death squads in Guatemala and El Salvador — “contributed to a tense environment for humanitarian assistance funded by or associated with the US government, as the Maduro regime publicly rejected pre-positioned commodities and initiated security crackdowns in Venezuela.”

Yes, that’s right. That whole dog and pony show, in which the media drove the bandwagon, yielded a grand total of 8 tons of aid to Venezuelans. Maybe it really was about regime change all along… The report even admits that the aid was “needlessly” flown in military planes pic.twitter.com/6vhworsW7F

— venezuelanalysis.com (@venanalysis) April 30, 2021

Additionally, it states that USAID’s own officials determined that food aid purportedly sent to alleviate child hunger “was unnecessary because the nutritional status of Venezuelan children did not warrant its use at the time.”

USAID, “concerned that the United Nations supported the Maduro regime,” also minimized funding for UN agencies even though some of them “had infrastructure in Venezuela to deliver humanitarian commodities.”

This, at a time when a combination of increasing US economic sanctions, corruption and mismanagement, low oil prices, and natural disasters reversed some of the tremendous progress made by the Bolivarian Revolution — which began with former President Hugo Chávez and continued under Maduro — in improving the lives of poor Venezuelans.

The new report surprised few seasoned observers of the more than 100-year history of US meddling in Venezuelan affairs, a timeline that includes hundreds of millions of dollars in USAID funding — including nine-figure spending on groups opposing the Bolivarian Revolution. Still, the USAID IG report raised eyebrows.

“This was incredibly obvious at the time, but it’s shocking to see the details,” said US journalist and author Vincent Bevins of the report’s contents.

Two years ago you didn’t need to be a genius to see the US was trying to force a dramatic confrontation, rather than trying to efficiently help needy Venezuelans: https://t.co/ecQHqrD43B

— Vincent Bevins (@Vinncent) April 30, 2021

USAID itself has a long history of foreign interference and subversion around the world. The agency funded death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala’s genocidal army during the 1980s, the forced sterilization of Indigenous Peruvian women in the 1990s, Laotian heroin traffickers during the Vietnam War — to name but a handful of examples. USAID operatives also taught torture and democracy suppression to security forces in Latin American dictatorships including Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Uruguay in the 1960s and 1970s.

More recently, USAID in 2010 launched a social media campaign with the goal of sparking civil unrest against the Fidel Castro-led government in Cuba. Around the same time, the agency infiltrated Cuba’s burgeoning hip-hop scene in a bid to foment a youth uprising.

 

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