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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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Why is the U.S. pushing regime change in Venezuela during a pandemic?

Why is the U.S. pushing regime change in Venezuela during a pandemic?

By Editorial Board
April 2, 2020 at 2:56 p.m. CDT

THE “DEMOCRATIC transition framework” for Venezuela laid out by the Trump administration this week was described by some as a compromise, since it proposes that both regime leader Nicolás Maduro and U.S.-backed opposition head Juan Guaidó give up their dueling claims to be president in favor of a transitional government in which the two sides would share power.

In essence, however, the new U.S. plan has the same premise as previous strategies: that elements of Mr. Maduro’s party and Venezuela’s armed forces can be induced to overthrow him, purge his closest associates, release all political prisoners, expel Cuba’s agents from the country and agree with the opposition on democratic elections. In more than a year of applying “maximum pressure” on Caracas, the administration has not come close to achieving that outcome. That raises the question of why the State Department’s initiative has appeared at a time when both the United States and Venezuela are under severe threat from the covid-19 pandemic.

One answer is that administration officials hope to leverage the emergency. “There’s a lot more pressure on the regime,” Elliott Abrams, the State Department’s special envoy for Venezuela, told reporters. He was referring to the recent collapse in the price of oil, which has made it harder than ever for Venezuela to market its principal export, which was already impeded by U.S. sanctions. Mr. Abrams said the pandemic “had nothing to do with the timing.” Yet, of course, the administration is aware that Venezuela, which by Thursday had reported 144 coronavirus infections and three deaths, faces a catastrophic outcome if the disease spreads widely; 80 percent of its hospitals lack even basic supplies, including soap.

The administration has come under some pressure, including from the United Nations, to ease sanctions on Venezuela so that it can more easily obtain medical supplies. Meanwhile, some observers are saying the rollout of the new strategy, combined with the Justice Department’s announcement last week of indictments against Mr. Maduro and other regime figures, has served to derail the possibility of cooperation between the de facto government and the opposition in combating the epidemic. Mr. Guaidó has embraced the U.S. plan, and the Maduro regime has threatened to bring charges against him and arrested several of his close associates.


Also posted in Editorials and other articles:

Cuba's Promising Approach to Cancer

APRIL 6, 2020


In 1991, I headed a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) mission of Latin American physicians to evaluate a national Cuban project involving the use of interferon to treat inoperable lung cancer. At the time, there was a rumor that Fidel Castro had lung cancer and had a particular interest in the research about it. Castro showed his interest, in part, when he came to visit us and discussed the findings. At the time, interferon didn’t seem to have a significant effect, but Cuban doctors have now developed a new treatment for lung cancer that offers promising results.

In September of 2011, the Chinese press agency Xinhua reported that Cuban doctors had produced the first therapeutic vaccine for lung cancer called CIMAvax-EGF. It was the result of a 25-year research project at Havana’s Center for Molecular Immunology. Although the vaccine doesn’t prevent lung cancer from developing in new patients, it turns later-stage lung cancer, specifically non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) into a controllable chronic disease.

The vaccine contains a protein called epidermal growth factor (EGF). This substance stimulates the growth of cells and causes the tumors to multiply and grow uncontrollably. The vaccine contains EGF and a protein from the meningitis bacteria which enter into the bloodstream of patients and encourage their immune system to produce antibodies that suppress the effects of EGF.

As a result, the vaccine doesn’t eliminate the tumors but prevents them from growing and spreading to other parts of the body. The vaccine is given to people who already have lung cancer and where the traditional treatments have proven to be ineffective. For these types of patients, the vaccine could be a life saver.


'Another Attempted Coup': US Rebuked for 'Absurd' Drug Trafficking Charges Against Venezuela's Madur

Published on
Thursday, March 26, 2020
byCommon Dreams

"An absurd demonstration of Washington's gangsterism."

by Eoin Higgins, staff writer

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday announced charges of international drug trafficking against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, a move that was immediately denounced by progressives as a cynical Washington attempt to overthrow the Latin American leader as the coronavirus outbreak spreads around the world.

"This is just another attempted coup against Maduro," tweeted CodePink.

Attorney General William Barr revealed the charges in a press conference, offering $15 million for information leading to Maduro's capture.

"I am old enough to have seen this one before," said veteran media critic Peter Hart, making a likely reference to former Panamanian ruler and CIA asset Manuel Noriega, the last Latin American leader charged with drug trafficking, who the U.S overthrew in 1989.


Bolsonaro's "Fuck You" Coup

Bolsonaro’s “Fuck You” Coup

After more than a year of Jair Bolsonaro’s rule in Brazil, the country is hurtling toward authoritarianism. Now the president is calling on his supporters to take to the streets in a “Fuck You March” against the democratic institutions that are standing in the way of his far-right agenda.

Military coups have been a periodic feature of Brazilian politics, from the putsch that felled the monarchy in 1889 to the military coup in 1964 that ended Brazil’s Second Republic. Coups in Brazil are usually portrayed as necessary defenses of democracy against the threats of authoritarian demagogues. The 1964 coup was justified as a preemptive measure against a communist-backed coup to install president João Goulart, a moderate social democrat proposing basic reforms, as a dictator. The momentum for the tanks on the streets was created through the historic “March of the Family with God for Liberty,” in which hundreds of thousands of middle-class Brazilians took to the streets against the Goulart government.

Once again, Brazil is facing a threat to its fragile democracy experiment, this time from a sitting president, the extreme-right Jair Bolsonaro, who is mobilizing his supporters in what has been dubbed the “Fuck You March” against Brazil’s Supreme Court and Congress.

Bolsonaro’s online supporters have been flooding social media for weeks with propaganda targeting institutions and individuals perceived as hostile to the president’s far-right agenda, and have called on people to follow security minister General Augusto Helano to the streets. The head of Brazil’s Military Club also called on “patriots,” claiming that “congress won’t let the executive govern!” A sample of the cheery democratic sentiments on display includes calls for “a final solution” to Brazil’s Congress and the execution of Supreme Court justices. This is a campaign funded by pro-Bolsonaro businessmen, many of whom were implicated in the illegal funding of fake news campaigns during the 2018 election campaign.

The rhetoric emanating from the Bolsonaro camp focuses on the institutional sabotage of the president’s agenda and the need for a violent solution to the intractable problem of corrupt democracy. Bolsonaro himself was sending a video to his friends on WhatsApp, calling for supporters to mobilize against Brazil’s Congress and Supreme Court. The video informs viewers that Bolsonaro “is fighting the corrupt and murderous left for us. He endures smears and lies because he’s doing his best for us . . . Let’s show that we support BOLSONARO and reject the enemies of Brazil.”


Brazil: Bolsonaro's coup celebration barred by judge

Brazil: Bolsonaro's coup celebration barred by judge
30 March 2019

A judge has barred a planned celebration marking the anniversary of the 1964 Brazilian coup which overthrew the democratic government.

President Jair Bolsonaro had planned to celebrate the anniversary of the start of military rule on Sunday.

The far-right president's decision had provoked widespread condemnation.

He defended the decision earlier this week, stating the aim was to remember the era rather than commemorate military rule itself.


(Had not seen this information in US corporate media, found this article trying to find more info. on the Brazilian military's decision to work around Bolsonaro during this crisis. The timing of his attempted coup celebration is slightly wry.)

Colombia's leading weekly under fire after sacking critical journalist, again

by Adriaan Alsema April 2, 2020

Colombia’s leading weekly Semana sacked its most critical journalist, triggering a storm of criticism and the resignation of another.

Journalist Daniel Coronell said on Twitter that he was told he was fired in a Whatsapp message by his publisher’s CEO, Sandra Suarez.

Coronell’s second dismissal in a year triggered satirical columnist Daniel Samper to resign amid a storm of criticism against the weekly that previously hired two of the country’s most incendiary columnists, Vicky Davila and Salud Hernandez.

Davila and Hernandez have been fierce apologists of Uribe, the former boss of Suarez who is currently on trial over crimes related to his alleged role in forming a death squad.


Vicky Davila and Salud Hernandez.

Davila and Hernandez have been fierce apologists of Uribe, the former boss of Suarez who is currently on trial over crimes related to his alleged role in forming a death squad.

Is the US Using COVID-19 to Topple Venezuela's Leader?

Steve Shaw
1 April 2020

The arrival of the Coronavirus in Venezuela was the worst-case scenario for a nation which already has a health service on the brink of collapse, lacking even the most basic medications.

. . .

The charges that were announced on 26 March raise a number of questions, specifically: why has the US chosen to single out Venezuela and why now? Earlier in the day, the Washington-based think tank, Washington Office in Latin America, published a report stating that “Venezuela is not a primary transit country for US-bound cocaine” and that US policy should be “predicated on a realistic understanding of the transnational drug trade”.

The report further found that that “210 metric tons of cocaine passed through Venezuela in 2018” while US State Department data shows that 1,400 metric tons – over six times as much – passed through Guatemala the same year. Colombia, which receives millions in security aid from the US as part of its war on drugs, also saw an average of nearly 2,400 tons of cocaine flow through it between 2016 and 2019.

Even more concerning is that, the last time the US levelled charges against a sitting President, it was done just 12 months before an invasion. In 1988, General Manuel Noriega was leader of Panama and he was formally charged by the US Government with racketeering, drug smuggling and money laundering. When he refused to give himself up or step down, then-President George H. W. Bush invaded the country and arrested him. The United Nations General Assembly called it a “flagrant violation of international law”.

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