Imagine how the U.S. government might react if it were discovered that officials in Beijing tapped President Obama’s cellphone. What if protesters set fire to Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, only to learn afterward that the protests were secretly sponsored by the Kremlin?
The American public would be screaming for heads, of course. Republicans and Democrats would come together to demand the commander-in-chief ready the aircraft carriers (or at least send a few dozen drones).
Yet for the past 100 years or so, the U.S. government has casually carried out such tactics. And insofar as the United States calls on the international community to be more open, transparent and democratic, American foreign policy is unequivocally hypocritical.
The country supposedly policing the world acts more like its secret police.
We know the failed attempt to topple the government of Hugo Chávez in 2002 was orchestrated by the U.S. State Department, which currently supports the violent anti-government protests in richer neighborhoods from San Cristóbal to Caracas. And even America’s allies have openly condemned Washington for listening in on the phone calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Now the U.S. government has been caught violating the sovereignty of another nation again, and again against one of its neighbors.
Last week The Associated Press broke a story revealing the U.S. State Department’s covert mission to develop a “Cuban Twitter” called ZunZuneo and use it to secretly spread anti-Castro propaganda on the island.
Documents show the U.S. government planned to build a subscriber base through ‘non-controversial content’: news messages on soccer, music and hurricane updates. Later when the network reached a critical mass of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators would introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organize ‘smart mobs’ — mass gatherings called at a moment’s notice that might trigger a Cuban Spring, or, as one USAID document put it, ‘renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.’
At its peak, the project drew in more than 40,000 Cubans to share news and exchange opinions. But its subscribers were never aware it was created by the U.S. government, or that American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes.
Some analysts point out that the reason a “Cuban Twitter” is needed in the first place is due to the now half-century-long U.S. embargo against Cuba, which doesn’t allow American companies to operate on the island—even when those companies, like Twitter or Facebook, would ultimately achieve Washington’s goal of making Cuban society freer and more open.
“Dropping the embargo would encourage market forces to create social networks and other technologies that would help Cubans communicate,” writes James “Boz” Bosworth. “The U.S. wouldn’t control those platforms nor gain the same intelligence off of it as it did ZunZuneo. However, dropping the embargo would place the U.S. closer to the correct end goal: a hemisphere in which people can communicate freely and openly without government restrictions.”
Geoffrey Ramsey over at The Pan-American Post seconds Bosworth’s view, and even some of the unlikeliest of characters have come out against the blockade: from former Florida governor and current gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Crist, to sugar magnate and Cuban exile Alfonso Fanjul.
If the U.S. government is serious about helping the people of Cuba, then it’ll finally scrap a policy that only legitimizes the deprivations forced on them by a rightfully paranoid regime. By the way, Reuters is reporting that ZunZuneo might not have been the only project the U.S. was backing.
When the Castro brothers tell Cubans that Yoani Sanchez should be censored because bloggers like her might be working with foreign agencies to upend Cuban society, Washington shouldn’t do anything to validate such claims—like using a respected humanitarian organization to secretly upend Cuban society.
If the United States wants places like Venezuela and Cuba to be more like the United States, then it must first open itself up to those places, giving them a taste of what it’s like to live in a free and open society.
After all, freedom is contagious, and I’ll never understand why American foreign policy is so obsessed with quarantine.
Hector Luis Alamo, Jr. is a Chicago-based writer. You can connect with him @HectorLuisAlamo.
Take a moment and read what the “other side” had to say about this weekend’s #2Million2Many demonstrations. The following email comes from a group called “Help Save Maryland.” It is a real email, which we did not edit. We decided to add our response to this letter first before we ran it. Here is our response:
Here is the email:
Help Save Maryland Crashes Amnesty Party in Lafayette Park
Special thanks to the Help Save Maryland supporters from MD and VA who took the time to come to DC Saturday afternoon to let the illegal alien community know up close and personal that Amnesty is not an option for criminal lawbreakers.
I’m sure CASA of Maryland, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the other radical groups at Lafayette Park had to be quite disappointed at the low turnout for the DC event, part of a multi-state event to push Amnesty and lawlessness. Other then Telemundo, there were no legitimate press/media covering the event. None. Shocking.
PASS THIS NEWS ON TO THE VA GOP CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION WHICH IS TOYING WITH VISIONS OF AMNESTY.
It was a typical CASA/SEIU event with lots of white Spanish speaking handlers coaching a small group of illegal aliens who spoke little to zero English. Many had those nice red CASA wool caps on. Did not see what was provided in the standard CASA provided box lunch. 90% of the event was in Spanish. There was a sprinkling of Georgetown students there.
HSM members had some good conversations with many there, explaining our position on the rule of law, what national borders are and why we have them, why we think Amnesty is unfair to legal immigrants and more. Even filled some folks in on the colorful flag we had flying below the large Gadsden (Don’t Tread on Me) Flag – It was our Maryland flag!
Highlights of the afternoon
(1) After we walked around and through the illegal alien gatherers and talked with Telemundo & some radical press folks, a couple of the El Jefe (Spanish for the boss) types came over and asked if we were with Help Save Maryland. Nice to be recognized! I believe they were SEIU leaders.
(2) – This one guy from CASA was intent on showing me his CASA of Maryland ID card. Not a clue why. Maybe because he knows Maryland taxpayers actually fund the ID card and organization. I gave him a HSM business card in return.
Lowlights of the afternoon
(1) Was quite disappointed with the knowledge base and line of reasoning being utilized by the few Georgetown students and other young illegal aliens we met. They just could not hold a conversation and defend the positions provided by CASA, SEIU and the other radical groups. My favorite was that thousands of illegals die trying to cross the “militarized” southern border each year, so therefore we should open the border; My other favorite, Why can’t you just show up in the U.S., get a job and just stay? Why would this make the unemployment situation worse for Black and Hispanic citizens?
I think these Third World youngsters have no conception of the rule of law, economics or basic rights or wrongs. Never taught it in the Third World countries they came from. Certainly hanging out with CASA or SEIU types will not provide it. Sadly, they are the “Dreamers” we give In-State College Tuition to as well as other taxpayer funded social services. These are not the next generation of American leaders we want!
(2) The CASA/SEIU “Jefes” found a Black Preacher to get up on the stage and rant about how Amnesty for illegals is the next Civil Rights movement in the United States. Yikes. More than half the small crowd had no idea what he was saying since he spoke in English. He obviously came for the CASA of Maryland provided boxed lunch. Did have on a nice black beret similar to what Che Guevara wore from time to time!
Let the fear-mongering begin. The following “news” (cue dramatic music) by faux outlet Breitbart has American’s Favorite Pendejo, Rep. Steve King of Iowa (R), talking ignorance. Again.
Here is the “shocking” video:
Here is what King told Breitbart (we emphasized the big nugget for you):
If we’re going to put out the bait, which is: come into the U.S., break in, so to speak, smuggle yourself into the military, put on the uniform of the United States, take an oath to uphold our Constitution, which may or may not mean anything to them, and now we’re going to reward you with citizenship—I think it’s just a bizarre thing to do, to reward people for breaking our laws. That’s what amnesty is.
As soon as they raise their hand and say ‘I’m unlawfully present in the United States,’ we’re not going take your oath into the military, but we’re going to take your deposition and we have a bus for you to Tijuana. That’s the law. Are they going to then suspend the law that requires ICE to place people into removal proceedings that are unlawfully present?
Maybe Steve King should read up on his history, especially when it comes to the Iraq War. Guess who was one the first people to die in combat for people like King? Read who here.
As for those Republicans who are kind of trying, keep trying. People like King are just bad for América.
The END spoke with sources who said that López, an Iraq veteran, went to Asunción Rodríguez de Sala school in Guayanilla, was part the school band and was also a former member of the National Guard of Puerto Rico. The article also reported that López’s mother last year and recently lost his grandfather in February of this year, around the same time that López went to Ft. Hood for the treatment of possible mental health issues.
Now four people are dead, including López, and 16 are wounded.
As you can imagine, the Puerto Rico angle is starting to get discussed online. And yes, there is ignorance. For example:
Ivan Lopez is a Puerto Rican. There is a strong Anti American sentiment in Puerto Rico. Example: Anti-White Sonya Sotomayor is a PR.
— Krafty.Wurker (@KraftyWurker) April 3, 2014
It’s a good thing that GW Bush isn’t in office or we’d already be bombing Puerto Rico in response to the Ft. Hood Shooting #toosoondontcare
— Too Soon (@toosoondontcare) April 3, 2014
One FOX NEWS reporter also wants you to know as well:
Spec. Ivan Lopez joined the Puerto Rico National Guard in 1999. #FortHood
— Doug Luzader (@DougLuzader) April 3, 2014
Also, some actual Puerto Ricans thought López’s news would be a blow to Puerto Rican statehood. Seriously. No, we’re serious.
“Ivan Lopez, the Texas shooter, is boricua. Another strong blow against statehood in the same week. Fuck!”
Iván López, el tiroteador de Texas, es boricua. Otro duro golpe para la Estadidad en la misma semana. Coño!
— Angry Boricua (@angryboricua) April 3, 2014
“Iván López was boricua? Now statehood will be pushed back another 100 years.”
¿SPC Iván López era boricua? Ahora la estadidad se retrasa 100 años más. #FortHoodShooting
— Pa’ Ke Te Salpike (@paketesalpike) April 3, 2014
Then there is this. Yes, these are actual tweets too:
‘Ivan Lopez’? Russian Hispanic? Anything but Muslim? How was he identified?
— Bossy McDoot (@McDoot) April 3, 2014
Ivan Lopez is identified as Fort Hood shooter. I wonder how the Dems will spin this one? Russian Hispanic…hmmm?
— steveno (@steveno88) April 3, 2014
Here’s the thing. López could have been any American solder. Where he is from is irrelevant. It is where he went to (Iraq) that matters. The bigger issue is simple. Here’s to the smart tweeters:
Fact that Ivan Lopez in Iraq in 2011 but “still being assessed” for PTSD 3 years later speaks to this problem.
— Mike Prysner (@MikePrysner) April 3, 2014
I’m no expert, but it looks to me like Ivan Lopez’ ptsd drugs may have done more harm than good. #TCOT
— Tom Colsher (@Tomsbunker) April 3, 2014
Yesterday a group favoring the Venezuelan opposition published a subtitled video on YouTube showing video footage of National Guard and militia allegedly attacking a residential complex in Maracaibo on March 27. The footage, according to the group, was originally broadcast in Spanish by Noticias TV Venezuela.
The video was also accompanied by an Amnesty International post, which states the following:
“The country runs the risk of descending into a spiral of violence unless steps are taken to bring the conflicting parties around the table. This can only happen if both sides fully respect human rights and the rule of law. Unless this happens, the death toll will continue to rise with ordinary people bearing the brunt,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
So far 37 people have lost their lives and more than 550 have been injured including at least 120 through the use of firearms. According to figures released by the Office of the Attorney General on 27 March 2,157 have been detained during the protests. The vast majority has been released but continue to face charges.
According to allegations received by Amnesty International, the country’s security forces have resorted to the excessive use of force, including the use of live fire, and even torture when dealing with protesters.
The report also documents human rights abuses committed by pro-government groups, protesters and unidentified individuals.
“All allegations of human rights violations and abuses have to be promptly and thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice,” said Erika Guevara Rosas.
“The political crisis risks undermining any progress made in recent years in standing up for the rights of those most marginalized in the country.”
Amnesty International is calling on the Venezuelan government to commit to a Human Rights National Plan. This plan should be the result of a national dialogue and include all parties and civil society.
The post also links to a full PDF report in Spanish.
On March 28, President Nicolás Maduro reportedly agreed to having outside mediators negotiation with his government and the country’s opposition. Yesterday, according to Reuters, the Venezuelan military blocked an opposition leader from Parliament:
Venezuelan troops dispersed opposition demonstrators with tear gas on Tuesday and blocked anti-government activist María Corina Machado, recently stripped of her seat in the National Assembly, from reaching the legislature.
National Guard soldiers surrounded a rally of opposition sympathizers who had planned to march into downtown Caracas to protest at Machado’s expulsion from Congress, preventing them from leaving and clearing the square with tear gas.
Parliament stripped Machado of her post last week on charges she violated the constitution by accepting an invitation from Panama to speak against the government of President Nicolás Maduro at a meeting of the Organization of American States.
In the 2012 story, the UFW said the following as part of its statement:
The local Bakersfield, California Budweiser distributorship was among many sponsors of the recent UFW convention celebrating our 50th anniversary. These sponsorships helped pay the costs of meals three times a day over four days for the hundreds of farm worker delegates, their families and thousands of guests who joined us for the convention. These sponsorships meant the UFW was able to spend the union’s other scarce resources—specifically our members’ hard-earned dues money—on organizing workers, helping them win union contracts, sponsoring key legislative reforms and getting more money into farm workers’ pockets.
There are some 700 local Budweiser distributorships across the nation. The UFW has maintained a 30-year relationship with the local California-based Budweiser distributor that helped sponsor the convention. That relationship began when Cesar Chavez led UFW. We understand that the wife of U.S. Senator John McCain, who supports SB 1070, owns an interest in one of the 700 local Bud distributorships, in Phoenix, Arizona. We appreciate that some people therefore believe that distributor supports SB 1070. However, the local California distributorship that made the donation to the UFW convention neither supports SB 1070 nor the politicians who support that Arizona law.
While UFW delegates debated and discussed many issues during their convention and in subsequent meetings, no UFW delegate complained about this sponsorship. Some UFW supporters did express concerns about the sponsorship, although not always for the same reason. Many farm workers who are protected by UFW contracts labor in wine grape production and we represent workers at both small and large wineries. They, and we, are very proud of their work.
So are we surprised that Bud is all in for La Causa for a Hollywood film? No. But you have to admit, the following images from Bud’s Twitter profile are clearly some bad optics. (We wonder if a movie about say, MLK, would have a huge honking Bud logo visible.)
Then there is this video, which is also making the rounds:
But we kind of already knew it from years ago, and as one fan who grew up with the UFW said: “Trust me on this one. At every wedding, anniversary, holiday, christening, confirmation, etc. at La Paz there were cases upon cases of Budweiser. So it has been the “official beer” of La Causa for as
long as I can remember. Lol. Us kids on the other hand got shafted with generic powdered punch in a 5 gallon yellow cooler.”
So yeah, we are not surprised, just as we are not surprised that even Wells Fargo (you know, that bank that used to fund private prisons which detains immigrants) also had some skin in this Hollywood game:
— Dolores Huerta (@DoloresHuerta) March 30, 2014
Sponsorship is one thing. Awkward pictures are another. Nothing surprises us any more.
The March 31 open enrollment deadline for the Affordable Health Care Act (ACT), also known as Obamacare, is fast approaching and the Twitter profile of CuidadoDeSalud.gov is making a final push for signups with what is one perplexing ad campaign.
Here are just some of the tweets:
“3: the # of picante bottles you have at home and the days remaining to sign up to…” (Please someone tell us the connection this has to health care?)
— CuidadoDeSalud.gov (@CuidadoDeSalud) March 28, 2014
“8: the # of empanadas you can eat at once and the days remaining to sign up to…” (If we ate eight empanadas in one sitting, maybe we would need some health care, or at least a Tums.)
— CuidadoDeSalud.gov (@CuidadoDeSalud) March 23, 2014
“10: the # of turnovers you keep frozen and the days remaining to sign up to…” (Still trying to figure out the connection here.)
— CuidadoDeSalud.gov (@CuidadoDeSalud) March 21, 2014
It continues. A little soccer, anyone? 13 weeks until the World Cup and just 13 days to sign up to Obamacare.
— CuidadoDeSalud.gov (@CuidadoDeSalud) March 18, 2014
Baseball? Of course. Because all Latinos have 9 favorite baseball players.
— CuidadoDeSalud.gov (@CuidadoDeSalud) March 22, 2014
And while we’re at it, why not show a picture of two Latina women who are constantly late to things because that exactly equates to health care as well:
— CuidadoDeSalud.gov (@CuidadoDeSalud) March 29, 2014
Talk about Hispandering. You would think that if CuidadoDeSalud.gov wanted to get more signups by Latinos (by the way, it’s not going that well), it would ditch the stale advertising stereotypes and focus on some actual facts, such as what the Kaiser Foundation published.
Less empanadas, more facts. It’s not that complicated.
You can learn more at obamalegacy.com
More than 30 years have passed since the last dictatorship ended in Argentina, and many English-language media outlets are still misusing the term “Dirty War.” The last dictatorship in Argentina (1976-1983) was not a war, but instead genocide, and it is time that we start calling it like it was, and still is.
GlobalPost Jerusalem correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky, whose five family members disappeared during the dictatorship said, “I don’t use the term ‘Dirty War’ unless I’m trying to illustrate the really evil way the Argentine military junta attempted —like other murderous regimes— to turn language into a tool in their favor. The term is a relic of that period.”
Tarnopolsky finds it unfortunate that English-language media still use the term. “The usage does seem to expose laziness on the part of editors and journalists who haven’t bothered even to look it up. I suspect they’d be horrified to know they are using a term that was invented to try to explain away as justified crimes against humanity,” she said.
The Dirty War
War is defined as a state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country. The term “Dirty War” comes from a misunderstanding of the conflict between Argentina’s Montoneros and the military during the last dictatorship. The Montoneros were an armed opposition group with popular support. It was completely broken up after only six months into the Argentine dictatorship. On October 7, 1976, the Argentine junta’s foreign minister, César Augusto Guzzetti told Henry Kissinger, “the terrorist organizations have been dismantled.” Yet the dictatorship would go on for another seven years ending with thousands of deaths and even more disappearances.
Claudia Acuña, editor of the magazine, Mu, said that the military used terms such as, “The Dirty War,” during the dictatorship to hide what was really happening.
“In Argentina in 1976 there was no war. The opposition was militarily defeated. What was it then? Writer Rodolfo Walsh explained what was happening with facts and precious words in his Open Letter to the military dictatorship in 1977, and was killed for speaking out. Walsh called what was happening, “Planned Misery,” that consisted of a terrorizing dictator implementing an economic plan that plunged the country into poverty. To impose such a plan, it was necessary to destroy all civil, union, political and social resistance. And that’s what happened. That’s what left us with 30,000 people disappeared.”
In September 2006, 30 years after the military takeover in Argentina, Miguel Osvaldo Etchecolatz, police commissioner of the province of Buenos Aires during the junta years, was sentenced to life in prison. The judge found him guilty of six counts of homicide, six counts of unlawful imprisonment and seven cases of torture. But the judge didn’t stop there, saying that in order to continue to preserve the “construction of collective memory,” he needed to declare that these offenses were “all crimes against humanity committed in the context of the genocide that took place in the Republic of Argentina between 1976 and 1983.”
This changed the official story for good. What had been thought of as a “dirty war” for years was finally taken for what it truly was: “a plan of extermination carried out by those who ruled the country,” the judge said.
Leading up to the dictatorship, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay were flourishing in a time of economic development. Social programs, public education and nationalized industries made the Southern Cone flourish. With this came a dominant leftist mass culture.
“It was in the poetry of Pablo Neruda, the folk music of Víctor Jara and Mercedes Sosa, the liberation theology of the Third World priests, the emancipatory theater of Augusto Boal, the radical pedagogy of Paulo Freire, the revolutionary journalism of Eduardo Galeano and [Rodolfo] Walsh himself,” said Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine.
The junta defended its genocide by declaring it a war against dangerous Marxist terrorists. Admiral Eduardo Massera called it “a war for freedom and against tyranny, a war against those who favor death and by those of us who favor life. We are fighting against nihilists, against agents of destruction whose only objective is destruction itself, although they disguise these with social crusades.”
The majority of the victims of state terror were factory workers, farmers, economists, artists and psychologists. In these torturous ideological elimination operations, the juntas burned books by Freud, Marx and Neruda, closed hundreds of magazines, occupied universities and banned strikes and political meetings.
In Argentina, 81 percent of the 30,000 people who disappeared were between the ages of 16 and 30. Five hundred babies were born inside Argentina’s torture centers. These babies were often sold or given to couples who were associated with the dictatorship.
“The last dictatorship can’t be described as dirty,” said Acuña. “Can baby kidnappings, torture and systemic rape of women, death flights that threw thousands of bodies into the Río de la Plata including the founder of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo or French nuns who lent their chapel to families of the disappeared? I have no words to describe what that means. Because that’s a dictatorship: the end of words, beyond language. Reducing a society to silence. So many years later, we are recovering our speech. Slowly, very traumatically and together we are walking down the street to yell, ‘Nunca Más.’”
Editor of The Argentina Independent, an English newspaper based in Buenos Aires, Kristie Robinson, said that the publication rejects the term “Dirty War.” “We don’t use the term ‘Dirty War’ as it would indicate that what was happening in Argentina during the 1976-83 military dictatorship was somehow two-sided, rather than state-backed terrorism.” By rejecting the term, Robinson does not deny that the left-wing guerrilla groups used violence or questionable techniques, “but the junta’s response was massively disproportionate, with systematic killings of those it deemed, often arbitrarily, to be the enemy. What happened here was not a war, it was oppression of dissidents by a military dictatorship. “
It’s 2014, and it’s time to start calling it like it was, and still is: the last dictatorship.