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October 15 2019

mr-absentia

The Spoils of Economic War: How the US, Saudis Profit From Sanctions on Venezuela and Iran

«The "almighty" dollar would fall from grace with back up from oil

Trump opens war fronts everywhere, which wouldn't seem to make sense unless they were a distraction. But they're not.

The rise of China as a global power has been silently transforming the international monetary system, another element triggering the U.S. into endless economic bullying.

Since the abandonment of the gold standard in 1971, the U.S. dollar is not linked to any assets, becoming a fiat currency. In these kinds of cases, only a country's output could back the currency in the long term. But what happens when monetary expansion occurs faster than increases in productivity?

Bringing new meaning to the "In God We Trust" motto coined so long ago, the dollar’s value depends on its capacity to remain an international reserve currency; that is, a currency other countries hold as part of their foreign exchange reserves and use in their international transactions.

In a world where economic agents don't ask the Federal Reserve to convert their notes into gold or any other physical asset, trust is the only thing keeping the U.S. upright. As a result, the dollar has remained a mighty currency because most international transactions are traded in U.S. dollars.

On Jan. 30, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, in fact, revealed very little when he blatantly admitted that the coup attempt in Venezuela was really about grasping for oil resources. In reality, aggression by the U.S. hides something much more than that.

If the dollar stops being the world's most traded currency, the U.S. will not be able to issue the notes it needs to finance an almost 50-year-old federal deficit which rose from US$666 billion in 2017 to US$779 billion in 2018.

"The U.S. budget deficit by year is how much more the federal government spends than it receives in revenue annually. The Fiscal Year 2020 U.S. budget deficit is expected to be US$1.1 trillion.

"That's the biggest deficit since 2012," wrote Kimberly Amadeo in The Balance, noting how President Trump has ramped up the U.S. deficit to pay for record-high levels of military spending.

The dollar losing status as the world's preferred currency would give the U.S. problems paying for imports in an economy where its lack of international competitiveness has given it a trade deficit since 1976, which widened to US$50 billion in March.

Last but not least, if the dollar stops being almighty, the U.S. will have a very difficult time maintaining itself as a first-world-class economy, since it's federal debt exceeded US$22 trillion in February. This amount represents over 76 percent of what the U.S. is able to produce in one year. Nevertheless, this is most likely to get worse: the debt-to-GDP ratio in the United States will rise to 150 percent by 2049, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Besides preventing Venezuela and Iran from exporting their natural resources, the U.S. is actively seeking to avoid the dollar's collapse, an inevitability in the next few years, as the history of previous empires has already shown.

This is why the Trump administration is prone to fighting the use of barter, virtual currencies or other alternative international payment methods.

U.S. sanctions are not whimsical expressions of this president. They are tools used to retain hegemonic power in a multipolar world no longer willing to tolerate such an aspiration. At the core of U.S. bullying is not ideological disagreement but economic decline.»

September 23 2019

Trinidad & Tobago government unimpressed with BBC report on Venezuelan refugees

A BBC report about Venezuelan migrants in Trinidad and Tobago has not been well received by locals. Many feel the report did not portray an accurate representation of the situation.
Reposted from02mydafsoup-01 02mydafsoup-01

March 12 2019

mr-absentia

mintpressnews.com: US-Led Economic War, Not Socialism, Is Tearing Venezuela Apart

“…millions of Venezuelans have seen their living conditions vastly improved through the Bolivarian process. The problems plaguing the Venezuelan economy are not due to some inherent fault in socialism, but to artificially low oil prices and sabotage by forces hostile to the revolution.

Starting in 2014, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia flooded the market with cheap oil. This is not a mere business decision, but a calculated move coordinated with U.S. and Israeli foreign policy goals. Despite not just losing money, but even falling deep into debt, the Saudi monarchy continues to expand its oil production apparatus. The result has been driving the price of oil down from $110 per barrel, to $28 in the early months of this year. The goal is to weaken these opponents of Wall Street, London, and Tel Aviv, whose economies are centered around oil and natural gas exports.

And Venezuela is one of those countries. Saudi efforts to drive down oil prices have drastically reduced Venezuela’s state budget and led to enormous consequences for the Venezuelan economy.

At the same time, private food processing and importing corporations have launched a coordinated campaign of sabotage. This, coupled with the weakening of a vitally important state sector of the economy, has resulted in inflation and food shortages. The artificially low oil prices have left the Venezuelan state cash-starved, prompting a crisis in the funding of the social programs that were key to strengthening the United Socialist Party.

Corruption is a big problem in Venezuela and many third-world countries. This was true prior to the Bolivarian process, as well as after Hugo Chavez launched his massive economic reforms. In situations of extreme poverty, people learn to take care of each other. People who work in government are almost expected to use their position to take care of their friends and family. Corruption is a big problem under any system, but it is much easier to tolerate in conditions of greater abundance. The problem has been magnified in Venezuela due to the drop in state revenue caused by the low oil prices and sabotage from food importers.”

“The problems currently facing Venezuela started in 2014. The already growing abundance of oil due to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was compounded by Saudi Arabia flooding the markets with cheap oil. The result: massive price drops. Despite facing a domestic fiscal crisis, Saudi Arabia continues to expand its oil production apparatus.

The price of oil remains low, as negotiations among OPEC states are taking place in the hopes that prices can be driven back up. While American media insists the low oil prices are just the natural cycle of the market at work, it’s rather convenient for U.S. foreign policy. Russia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and the Islamic Republic of Iran all have economies centered around state-owned oil companies and oil exports, and each of these countries has suffered the sting of low oil prices.

The leftist president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, has already been deposed due to scandal surrounding Petrobras, the state-owned oil company which is experiencing economic problems due to the falling price of oil. Although much of Brazil’s oil is for domestic consumption, it has been revealed that those who deposed her coordinated with the CIA and other forces in Washington and Wall Street, utilizing the economic fallout of low oil prices to bring down the Brazilian president.

The son of President Ronald Reagan has argued that Obama is intentionally driving down oil prices not just to weaken the Venezuelan economy, but also to tamper the influence of Russia and Iran. Writing for Townhall in 2014, Michael Reagan bragged that his father did the same thing to hurt the Soviet Union during the 1980s:

‘Since selling oil was the source of the Kremlin’s wealth, my father got the Saudis to flood the market with cheap oil.

Lower oil prices devalued the ruble, causing the USSR to go bankrupt, which led to perestroika and Mikhail Gorbachev and the collapse of the Soviet Empire.’

mr-absentia

March 08 2019

mr-absentia

September 26 2017

mr-absentia

August 01 2017

mr-absentia
mr-absentia

@statedeptspox [US State Department Spokesperson]: We stand w/ millions of #Venezuelans who've rejected efforts to weaken democracy & condemn violence by #Maduro regime against its citizens.

July 08 2017

mr-absentia

presstv.com: Opposition activists and riot police clash during an anti-government protest in Caracas, July 4, 2017.

July 06 2017

mr-absentia

International Crisis Group - Wikipedia

Funding

Crisis Group raises funds from mainly western governments, charitable foundations, companies and individual donors. In 2011/2012, 49% of its funding came from governments, 20% from philanthropic organisations, and 31% from individuals and private foundations.[citation needed] During 2012/2013 ‘unrestricted income for annual operations’ was $18.3 million with total expenditure of $21.9 million, with 49% of funds coming from governments, 23% from individuals and corporate foundations and 30% of ‘philanthropic organisations’,[4] where the difference between corporate foundations and 'philanthropic organisations' was not explained. In the early stages of Crisis Group's history, funding was much less diverse, mainly from co-founder George Soros, chairman of the Open Society Institute.[5]:551, note 28 Crisis Group has an Advisory Council composed of three groups named the President's Council, the International Advisory Council, and the Ambassador Council, which includes corporations like Chevron and Shell, as well as some members listed on its website as ‘Anonymous’.[6] Crisis Group has been criticised for serving the interests of its corporate and government funders.”

Criticism

Moisés Naím, a member of the board of directors of the International Crisis Group served as the Venezuelan Minister for Development for the centrist government of Carlos Andrés Pérez. In 2011 the International Crisis Group released a report intimating that the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez might suffer ‘unpredictable, possibly violent consequences’ if it did not audit the election results in which Chávez won.[13] The election results have been recognized as valid by 170 neutral international observers with the exception of the United States government, who along with allied governments, provides half of the funding for the International Crisis Group.[14][15]

July 01 2017

mr-absentia
mr-absentia
mr-absentia
  • In Detail: The Deaths So Far (venezuelanalysis.com, May 8 2017)

    “Since April 4, 2017, violent anti-government protests have rocked Venezuela. Characterised by deadly clashes between state security forces and opposition demonstrators, vandalism and destruction of public institutions, and the assassination of Chavista supporters, the unrest has left 93 people dead to date. Hundreds more have been injured.

    Despite the heavy press coverage, there is significant confusion over how these deaths occurred and at the hands of whom. In a bid for clarity, Venezuelanalysis provides readers with an in-depth and a complete account of the deaths so far below.”

  • Is Venezuela’s Attorney General Biased Towards the Opposition? (venezuelanalysis.com, Jun. 16 2017)

    “The heightening standoff between Venezuela’s Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Diaz, and the other branches of government has dominated international news headlines in recent weeks.

    Mainstream media outlets have tried to paint Ortega as the lone defender of democracy standing up to a ruthless Maduro government hell-bent on turning the country into a socialist dictatorship. 

    In particular, international journalists have highlighted the top prosecutor’s criticisms of the government over its convening of a National Constituent Assembly, the use of military tribunals, as well as alleged human rights violations against protesters. 

    Meanwhile, government supporters have accused Ortega of promoting impunity in the face of over two months of violent opposition protesters that have claimed at least 82 lives since April 4, according to data compiled by Venezuelanalysis. 

    In light of the release of a new 101-page report on the unrest authored by the National Ombudsman’s office, I will evaluate these claims of bias against the attorney general to determine who’s right.”

mr-absentia

“Venezuelan authorities said Thursday more than 50 tons of food have been incinerated by anti-government groups, amid ongoing attacks on public infrastructure.

The attack took place in the municipality Simon Bolivar in Barcelona, Anzoategui state, when a group of attackers infiltrated a government food distribution centre. The Ministry of Food has stated the attackers set fire to the interior of a warehouse, destroying a stockpile of basic food products awaiting distribution.

Food Minister Rodolfo Marco Torres described the incident as an act of terrorism, blaming opposition supporters.

‘This is … fascism, this attack on the people by these terrorists,’ he said.

State authorities say the attackers used improvised incendiary devices, including Molotov cocktails, though no injuries have been reported. Authorities also said they’ve recovered around 50 tons of food from the warehouse, which will be distributed to communities across Anzoategui on Friday.

No arrests have been made in connection to the incident, and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The interior of the warehouse was defaced with graffiti, including ‘Viva Leopoldo,’ a possible reference to imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. Another spray painted message read ‘damned Chavistas,’ while a third stated ‘no more hunger’.

The incident was just the latest in a wave of attacks targeting Venezuela’s state food distribution network. More than 30 facilities and vehicles involved in food distribution have been attacked in recent months, according to the minister.

‘Also, two food aid workers have been injured by gunfire in Lara state,’ he added.

The attacks have coincided with widespread opposition protests over the past three months, during which more than 90 people have died. In another alleged case of opposition violence, three power substations in Aragua state was also reportedly attacked Thursday.”

Venezuela: "Terrorists" Torch 50 Tons of Food as ex-National Guard Chief Indicted (venezuelanalysis.com, Jun. 30 2017)

なんという勿体ないことを! mottainai!

Reposted bywonkopaket

June 30 2017

mr-absentia

en.wikipedia.org: View of the Orinoco River in Mariusa National Park (Delta Amacuro)

Reposted bytravelling-without-movingindisputabelLee-FlowskyLee-Flowsky
mr-absentia

‘Get your dirty hands out of Venezuela’ – Maduro to Trump — RT News

“The United States should ‘get out of Venezuela,’ the country’s leader, Nicolas Maduro, said after Washington slapped Venezuelan top judiciary officials with sanctions to ‘support’ the Venezuelan people.

The new sanctions package, targeting the chief judge and seven other members of Venezuela’s Supreme Court, was imposed by the US Treasury to ‘advance democratic governance’ in the country.

‘Enough meddling ... Go home, Donald Trump. Get out of Venezuela,’ Maduro said in a speech broadcasted live on TV, as cited by Reuters. ‘Get your dirty hands out of here.’

The Venezuelan president’s tirade echoed a statement issued by the government, accusing the US of intervening into country’s internal affairs and seeking to further destabilize it.

‘President Trump's aggressions against the Venezuelan people, its government and its institutions have surpassed all limits,’ the statement said.

It urged the US to focus on sorting out its own internal problems, instead of meddling in Venezuela’s affairs.

‘The extreme positions of a government just starting off only confirmed the discriminatory, racist, xenophobic, and genocidal nature of US elites against humanity and its own people, which has now been heightened by this new administration which asserts white Anglo-Saxon supremacy,’ the statement read, as cited by Reuters.

The sanctions imposed by the US Treasury include freeze of any assets the eight judges might have in the US, deny them entering the country, and prohibit US citizens to do any business with them. The situation in Venezuela ‘is a disgrace to humanity’ and the country ‘has been unbelievably poorly run,’ Donald Trump said Thursday.

‘We haven’t really seen a problem like that, I would say, in decades,’ Trump added.”

mr-absentia
[Venezuela's Foreign Minister Samuel] Moncada told a news conference in Caracas that a man hijacked a helicopter and flew over the Interior Ministry during an event with reporters for the National Day of the Journalist of some 80 people. The pilot then targeted the Supreme Court offices throwing four grenades at the building, one of which did not detonate.

Moncada called the assailant identified as Oscar Alberto Perez, a "psychopath" who declared himself a "Warrior of God" in an Instagram message recorded before the attacks.

In the video, Perez, a pilot from the Venezuela's Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations police agency, claims to represent a group of military and other officials committed to toppling the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

The new foreign minister said that international press agencies have called the attacker a "Rambo-type figure who escaped in a helicopter to fight for freedom," adding that in any other part of the world the act would have been labeled terrorism.

"This warrior of God in any country would be a terrorist, he is a murderer, he had the intention to kill, he doesn't defend the innocent people in Venezuela."

[...]

Moncada also criticized what he called the "double standards" of countries and institutions — specifically naming the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Argentina, as well as the Organization of American States — for issuing statements claiming to be worried about human rights in the country, but not condemning a terrorist attack.

"This is shameful, painful," Moncada said. "Is it that the lives of innocent civilians in the center of Caracas don't matter to them? They don't care about Venezuelans."
Venezuela Slams OAS, Opposition Silence After Helicopter 'Terror' Attack (teleSUR English, Jun. 28 2017)
mr-absentia
  • Venezuela supreme court attacked from helicopter (Al Jazeera, Jun.28 2017)

    “Earlier on Tuesday, Maduro warned that he and supporters would take up arms if his socialist government was violently overthrown by opponents who have been on the streets protesting for three months.

    ‘I'm telling the world, and I hope the world listens after 90 days of protest, destruction and death,’ Maduro said in reference to anti-government unrest that has led to at least 75 deaths in the OPEC nation since April.

    ‘If Venezuela was plunged into chaos and violence and the Bolivarian Revolution destroyed, we would go to combat. We would never give up, and what couldn't be done with votes, we would do with weapons, we would liberate the fatherland with weapons.’

    Maduro, 54, was speaking at a rally to promote a July 30 vote for a special super-body called a Constituent Assembly, which could rewrite the national charter and supersede other institutions such as the opposition-controlled congress.

    He has touted the assembly as the only way to bring peace to Venezuela. But opponents, who want to bring forward the next presidential election scheduled for late 2018, say it is a sham poll designed purely to keep the socialists in power.

    They are boycotting the vote and protesting daily on the streets to try and have it stopped.

    Opposition leaders call Maduro a dictator who has wrecked a once-prosperous economy, while he calls them violent coup leaders.

    Maduro, who accuses Washington of backing his opponents and seeking to control the nation's oil wealth, said the ‘destruction’ of Venezuela would lead to a huge refugee wave dwarfing the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

    Opposition to the July 30 vote has come not just from Venezuelan opposition parties, but also from the chief state prosecutor Luisa Ortega and onetime government heavyweights like former intelligence service boss Miguel Rodriguez.

    At a news conference on Tuesday, Rodriguez criticised Maduro for not holding a referendum prior to the Constituent Assembly election, as his predecessor Chavez had done in 1999.

    ‘This is a country without government, this is chaos,’ he said.”

  • Maduro vows to fend off ‘coup’ after attacks (PressTV, Jun.29 2017)

    “Branding the raids as ‘terrorist’ attacks, Maduro said on Wednesday that the incidents were part of an ‘escalation’ by right-wing ‘coup’ plotters against the ruling Socialist party.

    The Venezuelan president also ordered security stepped up by putting the army on alert following the attacks in Caracas, where shots were fired from a helicopter at the Interior Ministry building and grenades were dropped on the Supreme Court building on Tuesday.

    ‘I have activated the entire armed forces to defend the peace,’ Maduro said in remarks broadcast from the presidential palace.

    No casualties were reported in the Tuesday incidents.

    The Venezuelan government blamed the attack on Oscar Perez, a 36-year-old police pilot, who had called for the resignation of Maduro and early elections in a video published on social media.

    ‘We are a coalition of military, police, and civilian public servants... opposed to this transitional, criminal government,’ Perez had said in the video footage.

    Some opposition leaders in Venezuela, however, suspect the raid might have been a government set-up to justify repression amid a worsening economic and political crisis. Venezuela has seen three attempted military coups since 1992.’

mr-absentia
mr-absentia

Venezuela: Soldier Killed, Three More Burned Alive | venezuelanalysis.com

“In Lara state, two residents of a government-built Great Venezuelan Housing Mission (GMVV) apartment complex were attacked and burned alive by opposition militants late Friday evening.

According to testimony by the local communal council, Henry Escalona (21) and Wladimir Peña (27) were returning from a nearby party at 11:45pm when they were accosted by a group of eight masked men, who demanded to know if they were ‘Chavistas’. When the youths replied that they were government supporters, the assailants pulled out firearms and ordered them to kneel.

As one of the young men attempted to escape, the masked militants doused them both in gasoline and set the men ablaze.

‘Simply for living in Residencias Larenses, an apartment complex built under the revolution, these youths were burned,’ affirmed community council spokesman Luis Rodriguez.

Escalona and Peña are currently in critical condition, undergoing treatment for third degree burns in the local Maria Pineda Central Hospital. The community is requesting that both men be transferred to a burn unit operated by the oil industry in the western city of Maracaibo.

Meanwhile, in the upscale eastern Caracas neighborhood of La Castellana, another man was stabbed and set on fire by masked individuals who reportedly accused her of being a Chavista.

‘A young man identified as Giovanny Gonzalez (24) was burned and stabbed by masked men en La Castellana, who mistook him for a Chavista,’ declared Interior Minister Nestor Reverol via Twitter on Monday.

The minister indicated that Gonzalez had been ‘transported to a healthcare center and is in a stable state’, but offered no further details.

During a public event on Tuesday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro condemned the aggressions, calling for the ‘unity of the people in the face of fascist violence’.

The attacks are the latest in a series of opposition lynchings of persons accused of being Chavista ‘infiltrators’ or thieves. On June 3, 21-year-old Orlando Figuera died in the hospital after being stabbed and burned alive by a mob of anti-government protesters in Altamira. The Public Prosecution has yet to issue a statement on the latest lynchings.”

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