Category Archives: US

Inside the Integrity Initiative, the UK gov’s information war on the public with David Miller

Journalists Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton discuss Britain’s Integrity Initiative and the information war it is waging on the public, with propaganda expert Professor David Miller. They address the scandal surrounding this UK government-funded think tank, which has attacked Jeremy Corbyn and the anti-war left and laundered disinformation through the corporate media under the guise of countering Russia.
© 2019 Moderate Rebels

See more of their work at: https://moderaterebels.com/

Show Notes

Integrity Initiative

New Documents Reveal a Covert British Military-Intelligence Smear Machine Meddling In American Politics, Max Blumenthal and Mark Ames, The Grayzone Project, 8 January 2019

Inside the Temple of Covert Propaganda: The Integrity Initiative and the UK’s Scandalous Information War, Mohamed Elmaazi and Max Blumenthal, The Grayzone Project, 17 December 2018

UK government-funded attacks on Jeremy Corbyn

https://twitter.com/BenjaminNorton/status/1067211746904023041

David Miller

Professor David Miller’s website: dmiller.info

Twitter: @Tracking_Power

Miller’s media watchdog Spinwatch

Ukraine admitted to interfering in the 2016 US election on Clinton’s side

There feels to be something fishy about the Trump – Clinton – Russia bruhaha, and this might just explain the story.

clinton-ukraine

Celia Schmidt https://off-guardian.org/2019/04/14/ukraine-admitted-to-interfering-in-the-2016-us-election-on-clintons-side/

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally released his conclusions of the investigation into Russia’s role in the US Presidential Election 2016. The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with Russians, the press reported. But there is a curious detail: most people charged have no connection to Russia, as in Manafort’s case. The former Trump campaign manager has been accused of money laundry and illegal foreign lobbying for Ukraine.

Thus, the Mueller investigation findings are leading to Kiev, not Russia. Moreover, Ukraine did admit to interfering in the 2016 US election helping the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. In this regard, there are fair questions to raise: why American citizens are indicted and sentenced with less charges while the evidence of a foreign conspiracy is omitted? Where are fair debates over the issue? Why there were no special committee hearings to determine the truth?

It is clear: a new investigation is coming. The US prosecutors need to interrogate Ukrainian politicians and members of the Clinton campaign as well as to probe the activity of Ukrainian lobbyists in Washington.

Thus, the audio recording made public in the Ukrainian media was one piece of evidence of Ukraine’s interference. According to it, a person with a voice similar to the voice of the head of Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), Artem Sytnyk, admitted that he had supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US election. His office was responsible for publicly disclosing the contents of the Ukrainian «black ledger», which implicated Paul Manafort, to the media. The document contained a list of secret payments made by Ukraine’s Party of Regions to Manafort.

Earlier, the county administrative court of Kyiv had pledged the director of the NABU Artem Sytnyk, and a member of the Ukrainian Parliament Sergey Leshchenko guilty of publicizing the pre-trial investigation materials concerning Paul Manafort and election interference. The information was spread illegally and inflicted damage on the foreign policy of Ukraine.

Ukraine message 1
Translation:

Admit unlawful acts of the director of the NABU A. Sytnyk and the Ukrainian MP S. Leshchenko concerning the disclosure and distribution of the information about D. Trump’s campaign chairman P. Manafort and the presence of P.Manafort’s name and signatures in the lists of “The Party of Regions’ black ledgers” in the materials of the pre-trial investigation, which was the result of interference in the electoral processes of the United States of America in 2016 and harmed the interests of Ukraine.

Eventually, a slew of incriminating information forced Paul Manafort to resign as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman in August 2016, just in the middle of election campaign. Serhiy Leshchenko, the Ukrainian MP, intended to share his gloat with his Facebook followers by posting a message stressing that “after such a blow Trump would not recover”.

Ukraine message 2
Translation:

“The Party of Regions’ black ledgers” saved the world. Manafort, who was fed from Yanukovich’s hands, leaves with dishonor. Guess, after such a blow Trump will not recover.

P.S. We can clearly see the reaction of the Ukrainian politicians involved in “Yanukovich’s black ledgers”. Political culture – you’ve either got it or you haven’t”.

Another confirmation of the Ukrainian officials’ overt support of Hillary Clinton was the anti-Trump publications on social media. However, as soon as the Republican had won, the Ukrainian politicians, in particular, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov and Ukrainian MP Oleg Lyashko began to remove massively their anti-Trump narratives from their social media pages.

Certainly, the US President did not forgive the Ukrainian leadership actions. On his Twitter page, Donald Trump criticized the Ukrainian efforts to “sabotage” his campaign.

Trump Ukraine
Moreover, in August 2017, it became clear that on the election day Petro Poroshenko sent Hillary Clinton a telegram, in which he congratulated her on the victory in the elections even before the announcement of the voting results. The then Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavel Klimkin personally delivered it. The president himself did not comment on this at all. His assistants strongly rejected all the suspicions of illegal actions during the election campaign. However, all these facts speak for themselves.

Despite this, Washington does not refuse financial assistance and cooperation with Ukraine. The intervention in the US Presidential Campaign 2016 and the leverages issues undoubtedly overshadow the current position of Petro Poroshenko. Moreover, the growing scandal related to accusations against our diplomat gives us reason to doubt the trustworthiness of the head of state and his future plans as a presidential candidate for the second term.

Odebrecht plea bargain also makes Federal Prosecution Service into a millionaire fund manager

Odebrecht
2 April 2019

By Pedro Canario

The plea bargain agreement Odebrecht signed with the Federal Prosecution Service in December 2016 is quite similar to agreement with Petrobras. Both provide for the setting up of a judicial account under the tutelage of the 13th Federal Court of Curitiba, with the money being at the disposal of the  FPS to do with it as they wish.

Odebrecht agreement with the FPS also allows Car Wash prosecutors to manage the fine paid by the engineering company.

In the Odebrecht case, the company undertook to pay $ 2.9 billion as a fine for their misdeeds, to be divided by the FPS amongst themselves, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Prosecutor-General of Switzerland. The part that is to remain in Brazil is to be under the charge of the Car Wash prosecutors in Curitiba.

According to the agreement, this money is to be for reparation of ” material and non- material damages” caused by the corruption at Odebrecht. According to the explanation given by the FPS in Parana to ConJur, 80% of the money will remain in Brazil, 10% with the USA and 10%, in Switzerland. Thus, the FPS will be responsible for managing R$ 6,8 billion.

Of that amount that is to remain in Brazil, 97.5% is to go to “public bodies, companies and foundations and mixed economy companies” damaged by the deeds of the engineering company. In other words, $ 1.71 billion is to be directed at the discretion of the FPS. The other 2.5% is to go to the Federal purse in compensation for having committed administrative impropriety.

The sharing out of the money is set forth in paragraph 3 of clause 7 of the agreement, according to which the “total amount is to go to the Federal Prosecution Service”. In response to questions from ConJur however, the FPS asserts that “the agreement does not give the resources to the Federal Prosecution Service nor place them under management by the Prosecution Service”. According to the official explanation, the money will be paid to the “victims”, wherever the FPS is responsible the administrative impropriety suit adheres to the FPS agreement.

Although the agreement is public and one of its clauses says that the money will be at the disposal of the FPS, its destination is described in a secret clause of the document, “Appendix 5”. This document was not published by the Prosecution Service and is being dealt with carefully by the 13th Federal Court of Curitiba, which was led by the now Minister of Justice Sergio Moro throughout Operation Car Wash. At least three times, Moro denied requests for access to this appendix under the argument that it could harm investigations underway.

The agreement with Odebrecht is dated December 2016 and is therefore older than the Petrobras one signed in September 2018 and published in January this year. But many of the elements that raise suspicions about the intentions of the Car Wash prosecutors and its anti-corruption crusade were already there — and have not been seen.

In the case of Petrobras, annexes of the agreement were published recently and revealed these intentions: the setting up of a foundation in which the money, $ 650 million, is to be directed at interventions to combat corruption. This fund is to be managed by the operation Car Wash prosecutors in Curitiba. Naturally, it will be sent to friendly bodies. This text was suspended by Justice Alexandre de Moraes of the Federal Supreme Court.

The Odebrecht agreement has been better protected. But we do already know, for example, that the money that is to remain in Brazil will not be sent to a Treasury account, as mandated by Supreme Court jurisprudence. It is to be under the control of members of the self-proclaimed Car Wash task force.

Rendering services
In exchange, they undertake to “manage” together with the Comptroller-General of the Union, with the Attorney-General of the Union and the Accounts Court of the Union so that they do not question the amount of the fine nor accuse the company and their directors of administrative impropriety.

Car Wash prosecutors
In exchange for managing the millionaire fine, Car Wash prosecutors undertake to ‘manage’ so that oversight bodies do not interfere in the agreement
Reproduction/YouTube

In bureaucratic jargon, “manage” means articulating and in some cases making non-official requests. In the case of public agents receiving money to do so in the name of private individuals, it is administrative advocacy, explained one specialist who spoke to ConJur on the condition of not being identified.

The U.S. chapter of the agreement has less to do with power and more to do with business. Amongst the various requirements Odebrecht has undertaken to meet is the nomination of an “external monitor of compliance with the agreement” to submit reports every 120 days.

These reports must be shown to the board of directors of the company and to the head of the FCPA division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The last item of the last annex of the agreement with the DoJ explains that the reports expected by the U.S. government will “probably include proprietary, financial, commercial and secret competition information”.

FCPA is the abbreviation for the U.S. international anti-corruption law. It exists to punish companies abroad that trade on the U.S. stock exchanges or with U.S. companies. But analysts have pointed out that the law has been used as an instrument of expansion of the economic influence of the U.S. government through private companies in other countries.

This analysis is not very popular amongst prosecutors at the DoJ who discredit the argument whenever they can. But the fact is that at the start of operation Car Wash, Odebrecht had 240,000 employees. According to the company, there are now 60,000.

Defence case
The defence for ex-President Lula, made by the lawyer Cristiano Zanin Martins, has been trying to access the documents for the agreement since May 2017, without success. Moro has turned down three requests for access in the space of little more than one year. The first denial was in September 2017, when the then judge said that handing over a copy of the document could harm other investigations underway. On May 24th of the next year, he was more clear: “There is no need for access to the case documents of the plea bargain “. In the third denial, in August 2018, he merely repeated the decision of the previous year.

Lula
Since May 2017, ex-President Lula has tried to obtain access to the case documents of the Odebrecht agreement with the FPS, unsuccessfully
Ricardo Stuckert

In February, Zanin filed a motion with the Supreme Court alleging violation of Binding Ruling 14 of the STF over the denials. The ruling guarantees the defence access to all elements of the inquiry already documented, provided the access does not harm diligences underway — exactly the argument used by Moro.

According to the lawyer, access to the documents could corroborate the defence case that Lula never received any payment for any “service” rendered to Odebrecht, and that the charges made against him have not been repeated in the U.S. They were brought in Brazil to ensure benefits for the Odebrecht family and for ex-executives of the company.

Moro argued that access to the agreement documents is not necessary. But Zanin uses the example of Petrobras: the agreement was signed in September 2018 and was published on January 30th of this year. Only weeks later, details of the setting up of the fund by the FPS were published — and the information was seen to be essential to the process, to the point of a Supreme Court Justice suspending that part until further information becomes available to judge the merits.

There and here
Lula’s defence have spoken of two main reasons for having access to the agreement documents. The first is that, in appendix 5, says the claim, there is information on the destination of the money paid by Odebrecht by way of the fine, and the FPS is arguing that Lula pay a fine in indemnification for the damages caused to the country for his corrupt deeds. But he is charged with receiving an apartment from the construction company. If both he and the company pay fines for the same facts, there would be punishment twice over, argues Zanin, which would harm the ex-President.

Justice Fachin
There was no “flagrant illegality” in Moro’s decisions denying Lula’s defence access to the agreement of Odebrecht with the FPS, says Justice Luiz Edson Fachin
Rosinei Coutinho / SCO STF

Lula also asked to see what there was in the My Web Day system. This concerns a parallel accounts software to control the bribes paid, owed and received, used by the “structured operations sector”, the bribes department, as the newspapers called it. But when the Federal Police obtained access to the system, they reported the lack of integrity of the files, with data deleted or corrupted.

For Lula’s lawyer, the fact of these files being corrupted argue in favour of his client. Odebrecht told different stories in Brazil and in the USA. Here they said hey bribed Lula for him to intercede on behalf of the company at Petrobras. One of these interventions was for the nomination of ex-directors responsible for maintaining the tender fraud scheme functioning.

But to the DoJ, the Odebrecht executives described how the cartel worked that engineering companies set up to defraud Petrobras tenders and over bill for civil construction contracts, but nothing about Lula.

No smoke
At the Supreme Court, Justice Luiz Edson Fachin also denied the request for access. According to him, there was no “flagrant illegality” in Moro’s decisions, and therefore there was no reason to grant the motion. The decision was made on March 15 of this year, and also calls for further information from the self-proclaimed Car Wash task force.

The current head of the 13th Federal Court of Curitiba, Luiz Antonio Bonat, repeated to Fachin the arguments of his predecessor: allowing access to the agreement documents would harm investigations underway. He added that the documents Lula asked to see, “in the main, corresponded to information which had no wider relevance”. “However, there is no obstacle to providing this information”, Bonat concluded in his ruling.

In response, Lula’s defence asked Fachin to reconsider the previous decision and that it would suspend the criminal case against the ex-President in the case of the apartment. “Is it possible to guarantee that the version of facts from Odebrecht in the plea bargain agreement documents is the same as that given in the court cases? Or are there things in the agreement documents approved there not relevant to the petitioner’s defence?”

Click here to read the Odebrecht agreement with the FPS
Click here to read the Odebrecht agreement with the DoJ
Click
here to read the Lula petition to obtain access to the agreement documents
Click
here to read the Justice Fachin ruling on the Lula petition
Click
here to read the judge Luiz Antonio Bonat document to the Supreme Court on the Odebrecht agreement
Click
here to read the request for reconsideration submitted to Justice Fachin

Claim 33.543
Criminal case 5063130-17.2016.4.04.7000, at Federal Justice in Parana

Pedro Canario is chief editor at Consultor Juridico.

“It is Babel”, says Brazilian Supreme Justice on the US$ 680 million for Car Wash Foundation

marco-aurelioTales Faria at UOL

Justice Marco Aurélio Mello of the Brazilan Supreme Federal Court considers the destination of US$ 650 million to a foundation managed by the Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato) prosecutors to promote anti-corruption policies to be absurd. The money was deposited in January. It is the fruit of an agreement between US authorities, Petrobras and the team of the so-called Republic of Curitiba where Lava Jato is based. It represents 80% of the capital the Brazilian state company had to return to the US Treasury due to the irregularities found in Car Wash. According to Marco Aurélio Mello, such a destination, besides being illegal, sets up a super-entity and bypasses any oversight or control of its accounts. To this blog, he argued:

As has always been sustained by the Supreme Court, public bodies are funded only through the budget approved by the legislature. The mixing of public and private is not in the interests of the State, is not in the interests of society. It is  pernicious to allow ‘super-entities’, and not to allow financial oversight. It is a loss of parameters, it is out of control, it is an administrative mess. It is Babel.

The power conferred on the prosecutors of Paraná is provoking fear in Bolsonaro’s closest circles. Allies of the President argue that he puts off to a possible second mandate his proposal to repeal re-election. Without the chance to run again, Bolsonaro would leave his government vulnerable during the campaign “Moro 2022”.

Sergio Moro is the leading judge behind Operation Car Wash which found alleged corruption in Lula’s PT government, sentenced him to prison and took him out of the running for the Brazilian Presidency, and who then became Justice Minister in the government that took power in Lula’s absence.

The foundation proposed is dangerous because with the same bias that took out Lula from the election, if present in the efforts of education and propaganda, could simply be used to support judge Moro’s political ambitions to get elected to lead the next government.

Venezuela: US sending planes with guns, ammo and radios for President Maduro’s enemies

The weapons intercepted at Arturo Michelin airport in Venezuela from Miami on February 3, 2019. Photo: Venezuela Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace.
  • Boeing 767 belonging to US freight company has made dozens of flights between Miami, Colombia and Venezuela since January 11
  • Official said materiel was ‘destined for criminal groups and terrorist actions’ and ‘financed by the fascist extreme right’ and the US government

Venezuelan authorities say a US-owned air freight company delivered a crate of assault weapons earlier this week to the international airport in Valencia to be used in “terrorist actions” against the embattled government of Nicolas Maduro.

An air freight company, 21 Air, based in Greensboro, North Carolina, operates the Boeing 767 aircraft the Venezuelans claim was used in the arms transfer. The flight originated in Miami on Sunday.

The Boeing 767 has made dozens of flights between Miami International Airport and destinations in Colombia and Venezuela since January 11, a flight tracking service shows, often returning to Miami for only a few hours before flying again to South America.

The discovery of the weapons was on Tuesday – two days after the flight landed briefly in Valencia, Venezuela’s third-largest city – as tax authorities and other inspectors conducted a routine inspection of cargo from the flight, according to a statement by the Carabobo state governor’s office.

Bolivarian National Guard General Endes Palencia Ortiz, Venezuela’s vice-minister of citizen security, said authorities found 19 assault weapons, 118 ammunition cartridges, and 90 military-grade radio antennas, among other items.

“This materiel was destined for criminal groups and terrorist actions in the country, financed by the fascist extreme right and the government of the United States,” Palencia Ortiz was quoted as saying.

The freight company, which started five years ago, operates two cargo planes, a Boeing 747 and a Boeing 767, according to the 21 Air website. The Boeing 767, a 32-year-old aircraft once flown by the now-defunct Brazilian carrier Varig, carries the registration N-881-YV and is the aircraft that landed in Valencia on Sunday.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent through its website. The mobile phone of the company’s chief executive, Michael Mendez, had a recording on Thursday afternoon that said it could not accept calls.

An Ottawa, Canada-based analyst of unusual ship and plane movements, Steffan Watkins, drew attention to the frequent flights of the 21 Air cargo plane in a series of tweets on Thursday.

“All year, they were flying between Philadelphia and Miami and all over the place, but all continental US,” Watkins said in a telephone interview. “Then all of a sudden in January, things changed.”

That is when the cargo plane began flying daily to destinations in Colombia and Venezuela and sometimes several times a day, Watkins said. The plane has made nearly 40 round-trip flights from Miami International Airport to Caracas and Valencia in Venezuela, and Bogota and Medellin in Colombia since January 11.

The most recent tracking of the aircraft showed it arrived from Medellin into Miami airport after midnight on Thursday.

The air cargo company’s website says the Boeing 767 has a payload capacity of 42 tons.

The aircraft in question has passed through many hands since Varig took delivery of it in 1987. In 2004, it was passed to GE Capital Aviation Services, a leasing company that is part of the General Electric conglomerate, according to an operator history on the planespotters.net website. Tampa Cargo, Avianca Cargo and Dynamic Airways later controlled the aircraft until 21 Air received it in 2014.

The provenance of the alleged weaponry was not apparent. And questions about who the arms shipment was destined for, if the Venezuelan version of events is true, only mounted. Delivery at a commercial airport would indicate somebody with authority there would have had a hand.

The weapons intercepted at Arturo Michelin airport in Venezuela from Miami on February 3, 2019. Photo: Venezuela Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace.
The weapons intercepted at Arturo Michelin airport in Venezuela from Miami on February 3, 2019. Photo: Venezuela Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace.

Venezuelan authorities displayed the weaponry they said was delivered by the 21 Air cargo plane on open-air tables draped in red cloth. Some of the rifles included stands for long-range targeting. The shipment included 15 AR-15 assault weapons, a Micro Draco semi-automatic pistol with a jumbo magazine, a Colt 7.62 rifle and two telescopic sights, the governor’s statement said.

The weapons intercepted at Arturo Michelin airport in Venezuela from Miami on February 3, 2019. Photo: Venezuela Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace.
The weapons intercepted at Arturo Michelin airport in Venezuela from Miami on February 3, 2019. Photo: Venezuela Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace.

Valencia was a former manufacturing and economic hub before the collapse of the nation’s economy.

Flight records from the tracking site flightradar24.com, monitored by Watkins, indicate the 21 Air cargo plane flew at least four times to Valencia from Miami and another four times to Caracas from Miami since January 11. In many cases, the flights would head on to Bogota or Medellin before returning to Miami.

If a US entity was trying to provide arms to a Venezuelan resistance movement, it would be taking a familiar page from the history books.

The CIA operated a dummy airline, known as Air America, from the early 1950s until the mid 1970s for air operations in Southeast Asia, including airdropping weapons to friendly forces.

More than a decade later, Sandinista soldiers shot down a cargo plane taking weapons to the US-backed Contra rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government. A US Marine veteran, Eugene Hasenfus, survived the 1986 crash and told reporters he was working for the CIA, paving the way for his release and return to the United States.

Curiously, one of the figures in the Ronald Reagan administration instrumental in delivering support to the contras, former assistant secretary of state Elliott Abrams, was named by President Donald Trump late last month as his special envoy overseeing policy towards Venezuela.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Plane from Miami brought arms for ‘terrorist action’

From the Barracks to the Courtroom: US ‘Lawfare’ in Action

bolsonaro

Wayne Madsen | 18.01.2019

Somewhere along the line in recent history, some US think tank in the employ of the Central Intelligence Agency must have come up with the idea that overthrowing governments in Latin America by military coups came with bad optics for the coup plotters. Often, democratically-elected Latin American leaders were demonized by a cabal of military officers who left their barracks and laid siege to the presidential palaces. After taking control of the national radio stations, these generals would announce they had seized control of the government to “protect” the people from “communism” or some other concocted bogeyman.

Beginning in the early 2000s, another plan was devised by US national security planners ensconced in their faux academia “think tanks.” Their plan was simple: overthrow anti-American elected leaders in Latin America through the courts. In effect, lawyers and judges, not generals, caudillos, or military juntas, would carry out coups by abusing constitutional provisions and laws as a clever ruse.

Under Allen Dulles and Richard Helms, the Central Intelligence Agency relied on the old tried and true method of promoting coups via the façade of a “popular” rebellion. After the 1973 CIA-directed coup in Chile, which saw Socialist president Salvador Allende die in a hail of bullets fired from aircraft and tanks at the La Moneda presidential palace, the CIA began to look at other avenues to overthrow presidents in the Western Hemisphere.

For decades, CIA-influenced media, including the dubious Wikipedia, have insisted Allende committed suicide with an AK-47 assault rifle presented to him by Cuban leader Fidel Castro. However, nature would later provide the evidence that Allende was assassinated. The proof came in a 300-page top secret report found in the debris of the house of a former military officer. The house had been destroyed in the 2011 Chilean earthquake. The story of Allende’s “suicide” was spread around CIA-friendly media to mask the agency’s role in yet another assassination of a foreign leader. The CIA’s media manipulation was honed during its pre-eminent role in covering up the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King. For the CIA, however, assassinations were costly in terms of the agency’s public image, so some other method of dispatching targeted leaders was in order.

A formerly CONFIDENTIAL CIA “Intelligence Memorandum,” dated December 29, 1975, concluded that Latin America had to be weaned away from “Third Worldism.” The conclusion was based on the votes of certain Latin American countries that had voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism. The countries were Brazil, Cuba, Grenada, Guyana, and Mexico. Eleven other countries in the Western Hemisphere abstained.

As the bloody coups in Chile, the Dominican Republic, and other countries showed, there had to be a simpler and less lethal way for the US to bring about undemocratic changes in governments in the hemisphere.

If the CIA were able to infiltrate a nation’s judiciary and law enforcement structures — the latter having already been thoroughly subsumed through CIA-financed “training programs” – it could bring spurious charges against targeted heads of state. This form of coup d’état would become known as “lawfare.”

The leader of the French left, Jean Luc Melenchon, recently condemned the use of lawfare against former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Lula, as he is popularly known, has been imprisoned since April 2018 on trumped up charges of corruption. Melenchon told the Brazilian press that “lawfare is now used in all countries to get rid of progressive leaders. This is what they did with Lula.” Melenchon added, “the judge [Sergio Moro] who condemned Lula is now a minister [minister of justice and public security] of Jair Bolsonaro, the new president of Brazil.” Lula was sentenced to 12 years in prison on politically-motivated money-laundering charges ginned up by Moro and other neo-fascists in the Brazilian judiciary. Bolsonaro, a champion of Brazil’s former military dictatorship and an admirer of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Donald Trump, has vowed to keep Lula in prison. Lula would have defeated Bolsonaro for the presidency had he been released from prison and allowed to run for political office. However, Moro and his fellow lawfare practitioners ensured that appeals to the Brazilian Supreme Court for Lula’s release were all dead-on-arrival.

Melenchon also stated “Lula has been a direct victim of accusations to destroy his work and image, built in more than 40 years of public life.” British human rights attorney Geoffrey Robertson QC echoed Melenchon in comments made to the “New Internationalist” in January 2018. Robertson cited the “extraordinarily aggressive measures” taken to imprison Lula and prevent him from running for president. Robertson cited as Lula’s enemies the judiciary, media, and “the great sinews of wealth and power in Brazil.”

Lawfare coups have been embraced by both Republican and Democratic administrations over almost two decades. The first example of a coup by semi-constitutional fiat was the February 28, 2004 forced removal from office of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. US Marines and American mercenaries escorted Aristide and his party from the presidential palace to a white plane with no other markings except for an American flag on the tail. The United States claimed Aristide voluntarily resigned his office, something that Aristide and his advisers vehemently denied. Aristide was literally tossed off the plane, along with his wife, in Bangui, Central African Republic. Through the abuse of “national emergency” provisions, the United States installed Haiti’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, Boniface Alexandre, in the presidential palace. The coup began after CIA-supported rebels and narcotics-gangs seized control of northern Haiti and marched to the capital of Port-au-Prince with the intention of ousting Aristide.

The second lawfare coup was against Honduras’s president, Manuel Zelaya. Staged on June 28, 2009, the coup was approved in advance by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as leaked cables from the US embassy in Tegucigalpa attest. Coup leader Roberto Micheletti cited the Honduran Constitution and a decision by the Supreme Court as providing legitimacy for Zelaya being marched from his home in his pajamas to a waiting plane that flew him to Costa Rica. The military junta that replaced Zelaya said that his letter of resignation had been approved by the National Assembly. Zelaya declared the letter to be a forgery.

The third major lawfare coup came in 2012. Paraguay’s democratically-elected president, Fernando Lugo, was ousted in a political impeachment carried out by right-wing forces in the Paraguayan Congress and Senate, with the full support of the US-trained and equipped Paraguayan military. From Washington, Secretary Clinton moved hastily to recognize the right-wing vice president, Federico Franco, and his new right-wing government to replace the center-left government of Lugo. As with Haiti and Honduras, the Paraguayan coup was accomplished with the thin veneer of the constitution.

In 2016, it was Brazil’s turn in the lawfare arena. The impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff of the left-wing Workers’ Party ensured that Michel Temer, her right-wing vice president, assumed the presidency. Without Rousseff in the presidential palace, her predecessor, Lula, became fair game for the right-wing.

Next on the American hit list was Venezuela. On December 6, 2015, the US-backed rightist opposition won control over the National Assembly. The rightists immediately commenced procedures to remove progressive socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power through dubious “constitutional” means. However, the plan faltered in Venezuela. In reaction, Washington applied crippling economic sanctions on the country, something that was to be repeated by the Trump administration against both Venezuela and the democratically-elected government of President Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.

Pro-democracy forces in Latin America and elsewhere no longer have to worry about sudden troop movements and tanks converging on presidential palaces, but armies of judges and lawyers armed with nothing more than constitutional provisions and criminal codes stretched to the point of incredulity.

The Role the US Played in Reversing Latin America’s ‘Pink Tide’

9/12/07 Salon Blanco: Banco del Sur.A mere ten years ago almost all countries in South and Central America had left or center-left governments in office. Now only a handful remain. How did this happen? The Real News Network speaks to CEPR’s Mark Weisbrot about how Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon might have described to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the US effort to do help bring this change about

Story Transcript

SHARMINI PERIES: It’s The Real News Network, I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. Less than ten years ago, Central and South America’s pink tide was at its highest point. Most of the continent had leftists or center-left governments in power. However, since 2009, more or less, when Honduras’s president Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a right-wing coup, the tide turned. And now, a conservative or center-right tide is firmly in place in the region except for the recent development of López-Obrador in Mexico. How did this undoing off the left tide happen? Of course, opponents of the pink tide say that these governments were elected or forced out of office because of their own policy failures. Another interpretation of all of this is that U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America under President George W. Bush and under President Barack Obama played a key role in reversing tide.

Now, this argument can be found in a letter from Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Thomas Shannon, who managed Latin America policy desk for both presidents. In truth, it is actually a fictional letter about the advice of Shannon, what he might have given Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he resigned last month. This hypothetical letter was actually written by Mark Weisbrot, our next guest. Mark Weisbrot joins us now from Washington, D.C. to discuss U.S. Latin America policy managed under Latin American pink tide. Mark is the codirector of the Center for Economic Policy and Research and is the author of the book, Failed: What Experts Got Wrong About the Global Economy. Thanks for joining me, Mark.

MARK WEISBROT: Thanks for having me here, Sharmini.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Mark. Let’s start off with why you felt you had to pen this letter in order to draw attention to the undoing of the pink tide in Latin America.

MARK WEISBROT: Well, I thought it would be more interesting and readable. Most people are not that interested in the recent history of Latin America. And also, I want to emphasize that everything in there is true except for the fact that he didn’t actually write the letter. But everything he says in there, the facts are all sourced and they’re all public information. And even where it refers to positions that he took within the State Department, those are positions that were documented in the media.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Mark. In 2008, almost all of the South and Central American states had prgressive or center left governments in place. And this includes El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Brazil. Now only Bolivia, El Salvador and Venezuela and Nicaragua remain, with the last two of these, one could say Nicaragua and Venezuela, in a great deal of trouble and in crisis. So, give us a sense of what happened.

MARK WEISBROT: Well, some of it was due to the recessions that these countries experienced. So, for example in Brazil, they went into recession in 2014 and that’s when the opposition began to gain ground and eventually impeach Dilma, the president, Dilma Rousseff, who they impeached without ever actually accusing her of of a crime. And so, in all of these, countries there were various factors at play. But what I emphasize in this letter in the form of Thomas Shannon taking credit for it, is that the U.S. played a role in in most of these countries where there was a change of government.

Some of it is not well known. Obviously, some of it is. In the 2009 coup in Honduras, Hillary Clinton wrote in her memoirs that she helped ensure that the democratically elected president of Honduras did not come back to office after the coup. But in others, people don’t even know. So, for example, in Argentina the U.S. government under Obama opposed loans to the government and blocked some at the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank. And this was a time when Argentina was having a balance of payments problem. So, that was important. And they did run into some economic trouble. It wasn’t severe, but I think it contributed to a close election result where the right was able to win at the end of 2015.

And also, I should say that in that in the case of Argentina they were severely hurt by a decision of a New York judge to take ninety percent of their creditors hostage and say that the government could not pay them until they paid the vulture funds. And that was very much a political decision. In fact, the judge lifted his injunction as soon as the right-wing President Macri was elected, and said it was because there was a new government that he was lifting the injunction. So, that was a major thing from the United States as well. And you can go through all of the countries. And some of it I’ve already said here on The Real News. There was a U.S. role, and of course we only see the tip of the iceberg.

Lula was interviewed a few months ago and he said, “It took us fifty years before we found out about the U.S. role in the 1964 coup.” And so, he was saying that to answer a question about what the United States was doing in Brazil. But you can see things that they did there as well. In fact, Shannon himself, Thomas Shannon met with the leader of the coup effort, the parliamentary coup in Brazil in 2016, when the leader in the Senate in Brazil of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Aloysio Nunes, came to the U.S. just a day after the vote to impeach Dilma took place in the House and met with Shannon. So, that was a signal to everyone in Brazil that the U.S. was behind this coup.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Mark. Now you argue that of course this kind of U.S. policy had a role to play in so many countries. Now, give us some examples, for example, Haiti and Honduras and Brazil, just remind people what the U.S. policy actually did in these countries.

MARK WEISBROT: Well, Haiti is a good example because they kind of did that in broad daylight. They took the president, the elected President, in 2004, flew them out of the country on one of those rendition planes, basically kidnapped him. And they didn’t even care. That was under George W. Bush, but the effort actually began under Clinton in 2000. There was an election there and the Organization of American States observers went there and they produced a report saying that everything was good. And then they changed that and they basically had a technical objection to some of the Senate elections. And they use that, and then the U.S. government under their first Clinton, then Bush, used that as a pretext to cut off almost all international aid to Haiti which was desperately poor.

And then, they by 2004, after four years of destabilization, they were funding opposition groups and they were also telling the President, Aristide, that he wouldn’t get aid restored until he reached an agreement with the opposition. And then at the same time, they were telling the opposition, don’t reach an agreement, don’t make any agreement with him because we’re going to get rid of him. And that’s how they did it. And they overthrew the government. And that was the second time they had overthrown the Haitian government since 1991. And so, that was just one example. Obviously, there was also the Honduran coup-.

SHARMINI PERIES: Before you go there, in Haiti’s case, they had the aid of a few other nations as well, France and Canada.

MARK WEISBROT: That’s right. And they got almost all the countries in the world to cut off their aid to Haiti between 2000 and 2004. And then, in 2011, there was an election in 2010, and in 2011, United States actually use the Organization of American States to overturn the results of the first round of the presidential election. And in that case, they also threatened Haiti to accept the results or they would cut off the post-earthquake aid, which was even more desperately needed. And so, they got to choose who made it into the second round and who became president there as well. And this really devastated Haiti in so many ways. I mean, you only had like a twenty percent turnout in the last presidential election in Haiti because the people have become so disenfranchised as a result primarily of U.S. intervention.

SHARMINI PERIES: Now one could argue having a poor country like Haiti, who was was so dependent on the U.S, the U.S. Can us can flex their muscles and make sure what they want takes place in Haiti. But what about a country like Brazil?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, I think they did. Like I said, I think that signal was important. The show of support for that coup I think helped. There was another show of support when John Kerry went down to Brazil on August 5 of the same year and he held a joint press conference with the acting Foreign Minister, Jose Serra and they said talked about how great their relationship was going to be going forward. And Dilma wasn’t even removed from office yet, she was still- the Senate hadn’t voted yet to remove her from office. So, that was another signal of support. Again, we don’t know what else they did.

Actually, we do know some other things. The Department of Justice was involved in the investigation, the big corruption investigation there. And so, we don’t know what they did, how it is that they managed to get Lula put in jail while the banks, who most of laundered the billions of dollars of corruption, there were no banks or financial institutions implicated in this whole investigation. So, that’s very odd. And of course, most Brazilians think that the Department of Justice intervention in the investigation was probably political and they have good reason to believe that.

SHARMINI PERIES: And Honduras, of course Argentina, Venezuela too, but let’s just dig into the Honduras case because I think that’s also left people’s memory.

MARK WEISBROT: Yes, well in 2009 there was a coup and the president was- in June of 2009, the president was flown out of the country in the middle of night. And he was overthrown, and the first statement that came out of the White House really foretold everything that was going to happen and showed what the real position of the United States was. Because it didn’t even condemn the coup. It just said all parties should work together and try and arrive at a solution. And when a military coup happens in the twenty-first century and you don’t even say anything bad about, and they knew it was coming as well. We found that out later. So clearly, they had time to prepare a statement. And they don’t even say anything’s wrong.

That was a massive signal to everyone that they supported it. And then, as the coup proceeded and the government needed to establish its legitimacy, the United States was practically alone in supporting the election that legitimated the coup later that year. And as I said, Hillary Clinton wrote in her memoirs that she helped make sure that the elected president didn’t go back, which was what almost all of Latin America wanted. And the U.S. manipulated the Organization of American States to prevent there from being stronger actions on their part to put Zelaya back in office. And in fact, out of that came the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which the left governments created because of the U.S. manipulation of the OAS, and that includes all of the countries of the hemisphere except the U.S. and Canada.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right Mark, there’s much more to talk about because Latin America is known as a laboratory of the United States, its policies, and I’m sure we are feeling those laboratory experiments and their are reverberations throughout the world. We don’t have time to get into all of that, and we also didn’t talk about the media strategies involved in these kinds of political policy maneuvers on the part of the U.S. and how the media is used in that way or how media complies with it. But we’ll have to leave that for another time. I thank you so much for joining us today, Mark.

MARK WEISBROT: Thank you, Sharmini.

SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on the Real News Network.

© The Real News Network