I.-

This is a response to James and Timoteo with regards to previous messages sent to the LASolidarity list surrounding a debate on the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela and the government of Hugo Chavez. Originally the topic of discussion was indigenous rights (loosely) and issues in Venezuela and turned into a broader discussion on international media and information that covers Venezuela in general and on the ground issues and grassroots movements in that country.

In my last message I sent to the list, I responded to a forwarded news message from Venezuelaanalysis.com about the Venezuelan government supplying cheaper heating oil and eye operations to the poor in the US. In it I criticized the validity of the news- mostly because it was reporting on a facts "hecho" that haven't happened yet- the same thing goes for my comments on the assassination attempt that hasn't happened yet either. (Yes- real people said real comments that were reported on- and yes they themselves cause a real socio-political / diplomatic effect) My point is how "we" (us on the list, and us here in the US) give credit of adhesion to or dismissal of this type of reporting with regards to how important it is to our lives.

The story of the US trying to assassinate Chavez is important to the few Americans that know or care about it because we have come to associate Chavez with a "movement" or a "revolution" that represents much of we a lot of us are working toward (shit- he's not only associated with it- he is "the indisputable leader of the Bolivarian revolution") We care if the US (politicians or personalities) (fascist like Bush or Robertson- OR puppets like Kerry- who had as much of a "problem" with Chavez as Bush did during the presidential elections all you progressives were working on last year. ) we care if the US makes a threat against our leader, just as if our leader Hugo talks about cutting us a deal on pricey gasoline and heating oil.

Because we care, because our convictions and sympathies are tied to these and to other issues that we understand are important to us for our particular reasons (be they political, comfortably being a spectator here in the US, or personal, because you live in that reality and eat the shit that they feed you)- we are in a way at the mercy of the informers to tell us what is happening to the daily soap opera that goes on everyday between the talking heads of diplomacy and news-makers. We (or someone) constructs our impressions and opinions around the information that is available to us, and are categorized neatly into believers or non- In or Out- His side
or ours- Pepsi or coke- Bush or Kerry- Chavez or CIA. This is mass communication (propaganda 101). The US government, the Venezuelan government, Cuba, China, the anarchist and especially the capitalist all use propaganda- the difference are the tools (means) but the objectives (ends) are they same (persuasion).

-Or you are with Chavez or you are with Bush- Or:"or you are with us or you are with the terrorist"-GWB. Is that the way we are conducting this conversation??? I am taking a big step in coming out on this list and saying these things- This is my retrospect from my experience to Venezuela- which wasn't a global exchange tour (no offense Zack)- but I'm doing pretty much what any other G.Ex. "delegate" tourist would do after their return state side- share their opinions. And since we stepped into this debate- one that I thought was going be conducted in a spirit of learning and respect for those you are writing to- that you actually wanted to hear something outside the Bush vs Chavez line- I mean, that's a pretty narrow margin of debate space you all afford me. I see because of the fragileness of feelings, I should refrain from criticizing your
"indisputable leader of the Bolivarian revolution"- because I see now that what you'll get is hostility??? Where is your spirit criticism???

You sort of ask me James:

"What I don't get is why you are downplaying Robertson's comments. Nazism itself was preceded by the Threats of unofficial fanatics and extremists that apparently not enough Germans took seriously."

That's the technique- take it seriously what the talking heads say- make real their statements- Pat Robertson: "Chavez is the US's enemy" Chavez: the US is the world's (Venezuela's) enemy. Both needs are served, and business as usual. Joseph Goebbels- Minister of Propaganda under Hitler- where war propaganda or "psychological warfare" comes from- the basic tenant of psychological warfare is identify an enemy and vilify them, constantly ingraining into the accepting populace the "truth" you want them to believe- the "big lie". Call a circle a square long enough- repeat it many times over and you have a cultured society such as the Germans- calling circles squares and accepting as state policy one of the worst crimes against humanity-genocide.

In the case of Pat Robertson- a demon of his own kind, we perpetuate what he says- by believing it and taking it in, giving him power and credibility we don't need to give him. We facilitate his message, and we react according to the dose we have been given. The war mongering is perpetuated by our "progressive" movement by our reaction to it. Chavez is,(and consequently his followers are) more inclinded to pound their chest and pound their war drums also because with the rise of military sentiment within Latin America comes the rise of a more militant (obedient) society following the call of patriotism with Chavez proclaiming "Let them come, we have lots of mountains!!!"

(For those that do not know me- I was the one with the !Viva Fallujah! sign at the last a election protest) But I personally do not want to see Quito, Bogota, Caracas, or any Latin American city turn into a Fallujah- I say we all must be very careful what we wish for- Do we really want a skirmish between North and South America in South America???? Then why would we contribute to the escalation. And yes- this is my main point- I think we contribute to it. How? -by the type of information we multiply, by the way we react to the information (news) that bothers us- And by the way we receive information (mostly through government or corporate channels in this case) or how we dismiss information- such as the information (examples of news) I have contributed in my responses if it doesn't fit into our perception of the way we would like to see things.

What Im saying is propaganda works. Regardless of who is behind it? What matters is who is in front of it and how the calculated responses work or not. My suggestion was to not believe EVERYTHING we are told just because it comes from the LASC list, "independent media" or a "socialist" country / government.

I said "we must exercise (especially us in the US) more critical analysis and self reflection when it comes to SUPPORTING the Chavez government or any social movement in a country or reality that isn't ours. By supporting I mean being the information activist that we are, facilitating the information flow of a media frame, that does not permit us to look at REAL issues and events in a particular reality, because it might go in counter to want we (or the people we want to persuade) want to be thinking- we only see what we want to see." TAKE THE BLINDERS OFF- That goes for the CNN/BBC kind to the Castro/Chavez kind.

I'll give you an example of this type of media in the US We all listen to Amy Goodman- and love everything Amy has to say because she is a great media activist and reports on all the issues that are important to us. Democracy Now has a media frame built around Venezuela- usually DN! covers what Condoleezza or Rumsfeld said about Chavez and what Chavez said back about Bush or what JV Rangel said about the arrogant US, the reporting will be on the spectacle of the week, the statements are made and maybe a Venezuelan government official is interviewed. If you ask Democracy Now (which I have) to cover a protest in Venezuela- that is not an "In opposition to Chavez" protests- but a protest or an event by popular sectors of society that makes Chavez look "bad", then you know what you'll get: no reply??? Why??? Because the media frame (= propaganda) only works if you are consistent. Reporting on events on DN! about Venezuela that make Chavez look bad goes against the grain of Democracy Now if thier intention is to idolize him. (cult of personality)

WAIT!!! For all the people that just shrieked because I accused Amy Goodman for using propaganda - it is not the same as calling her part of some larger leftist plot- like the commies invading America- Which would be cool! BUT! It is saying that we have blinders on when it come to looking at on the ground realities in the places we want o be in solidarity with. What ends up happening is we end up being in solidarity with what they tell us to be in solidarity with, supporting (media, pr, funding, political) effort that with better information and perpective on the "topic" we would adjust and adapt better the way and the who we support.

FAIR and balanced reporting would be to give under-reported issues fair coverage- not much everyday life gets in Venezuela gets covered by US media- haven't you all noticed this. I mean, most reporting happening with common Venezuelans is a news article tied to a government program or a political event. Like the rains in Vargas- which I'm sure some of you know about (at least by now) but I bet the majority of you are totally oblivious.

I say above "especially us in the US" because of a "cultural truism" im not too sure I believe- that the opinion of Americans is what matters- that the issue in Darfur Sudan is only an issue if it make noise in the US- I hate to believe in that "truism; and to some extent I try not to live by it. But being a part time US citizen, I see that the info (news) that is circulated around this country does influence the greatest consumers of the world- so in a way influences what happens around the world. We are utterly connected by economic globalization- to downplay our involvement (direct or indirect) is to be in denial.

Or how about this example: About a year and a half ago during the World Social Forum in India, Via campesina put out a call to Chavez to end his contracts with Monsanto and to ban all GE crops in Venezuela. Off the heals of the publicity that the Venezuelan government usually takes advantage of during the WSF (even though originally governments and heads of state were not supposed to be a part of the WSF) it was announced, quiet similarly like the announcements made by that government on this list forwarded by dedicated Chavez supporters- that a moratorium on GE corn and soy and other Monsanto products was being put in place and that Venezuela was going to go NO GE!!! Everybody hailed the news and it was circulated and made a buzz about-especially during the WSF and after.
"In April 2004, President Chavez announced that all cultivation of genetically engineered crops on Venezuelan soil would be prohibited. Full details of the administration's policy on GMOs are still forthcoming."

Green Left Weekly (5 May 2004) "Venezuela: Chavez Dumps Monsanto"
(last visited August 2004) or
Venezuela bans GM crops
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias has announced that the cultivation of genetically modified crops will be prohibited on Venezuelan soil, possibly establishing the most sweeping restrictions on transgenic crops in the Western Hemisphere. Though full details of the administration s policy on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are still forthcoming, the statement by President Chavez will lead most immediately to the cancellation of a contract that Venezuela had negotiated with the U.S.-based Monsanto Corporation.


The problem is with this news announcement is that it never really turned out that way- Monsanto is still very well invested directly and indirectly through subsidiaries in Venezuela. IM NOT SAYING VIA CAMPESINA OR GRENNPEACE IS LYING!!!! I'm simply saying that with this "solidarity" effort with the people of Venezuela, we have been too quick to REPORT AS FACT anything the Chavez (Venezuelan government / Ministry of information and communication) tells us.

With this issue of big-agri-business corporations, there actually is a small campaign in Caracas where some fledgling anti-globalization types that protests every once in a while outside of Monsanto's offices- and as far as I know they do not receive any funding or help from the revolutionary government. But yes, Monsanto is still there- and so is Cargill, ADM, and all the other giant agribusiness corporations that have not just the only sole intention of making profits- but also serving the Us interest of high jacking the Venezuelan agro-economy and entrenching it into deeper dependency= 80% of what all Venezuelans eat is imported into the country- 80%! And YES it is mostly GE crops that are still being produced in Venezuela- and they are packaged in a nice revolutionary bags that say something like "No to the paramilitaries and Yes to food sovereignty." Still, we all eat it up!!! (well the grains if you're Venezuelan, the green-washing if you are a US spectator)

One last media example of how quick we are to pick up the pom-poms and how reluctant we are to put them down. Do you remember the story of Danilo Anderson- Primer Fiscal de la nacion- Top prosecuting attorney for the state. He was in charge of the huge investigation to prosecute all those who had signed on to the "Carmona letter"- the document of endorsement that Carmona received, during the 2002 coup. As he was investigating, earlier this year his SUV was bombed and he died in the truck. He was elevated to national hero and martyr. After all the parades and protest to avenge his death, the investigating corp. that was assigned to investigate his murder, a month later finds all this evidence that Danilo Anderson was involved in a huge extortion ring, along with other attorneys from his office, extorting millions off of the many millionaires on the list. Danilo, who was not a rich man, in a matter of a couple of year had amassed a small fortune and reputation for liking the finer things in life. He also was not a very good washer of his money/assets that were all tied back to him and the extortion ring that was uncovered by the Venezuela police.

Well you can imagine how that turned out. After a week of damage control because of the obvious contradiction from martyr to thief- they just stopped talking about IN VENEZUELA- did they report on this incident on the LASC list??? Did Amy Goodman mention it???) I was in Venezuela where it was a pretty big deal. Did it make it to the US opinion setters??? Probably not- Why??? Does anybody see a trend yet????

I cannot stress enough that there are many example like this- I AM NOT GOING TO LIST THEM ALL HERE- I believe if we really care about what is happening in Venezuela or with the greater Bolivarian movement in Latin America- we must get real with the info we are sharing with each other.

I am not out to "discredit" the Bolivarian movement- And I am not out to "support" or give passage to the right wing in the US!!! You say: "I HAVE said that ANY criticism of Venezuela undertaken in this country should only be expressed in the context of even more ardent organizing against US imperialism against Venezuela."

I have more than anything tried to highlight the deepening and increased relation of the US and US companies in Venezuela- The IIRSA project and the "cooperation agreements" between Venezuela and Colombia- Chavez and Uribe! I think this counts as denouncing US imperial expansionism in Latin America-

The sticky part here is; it is blasting the US and Plan Comombia and the US corporate interest to infiltrate and dominate the region with its investments and projects it advances when we speak of these investments and projects happening in Colombia BUT! when we speak of similar, related, or interconnected investments or projects by the US or foreign corporate elite on the Venezuelan side it is called the Bolivarian revolution- and according to James' criteria, is above criticism from anybody who isn't chavistas-bolivarianos (And that's if they can withstand the reaction)

So I also think you should note that im not just bithing to bitch about something just to be radical- But I am helping the US audience see on the ground issues that are off the radar to the 'PROGRESSIVE" MEDIA AND INFORMATION ACTIVIST - WHY THEY WONT report on it is still a big question to me and I have found it is because either there is 1. a lack of this type of info being circulated- and 2 because nobody would dare wanna criticize the second coming of Che because that would be super unpopular and maybe that would get called a JUDAS!

I know who I stand with- I have meet them. I have put my hands on there work. I do not know 'CHAVEZ" OR "BOLIVAR" or wonder if Bolivar thought about socialism (he was a slave owner like the enlighten T. Jefferson- as were most of the other military aristocrats of their time). Talk about a cult of personality.

In this cross-road of changing times and war- we should think about what we are contributing to- reform or revolutionary change.

"Ninguna revolucion es financiada por Transnacionales"

***************************************************

II.-

So I just wanted to chime in since the discussion had gotten so interesting. First of all to thank Adrian for the clear and cool headed message about the purpose and etiquette of this list. I feel that has gotten quiet blurred in these last weeks, and I do accept my part in the whole "mess". As I mentioned before, I am happy to spare the time that I can on this very crucial debate that is solidarity with Latin American social movement. We should all participate in this debate- chime in, express our opinions- not just share news briefs. We are all in a way (especially us Latinos living in the US) extensions of Latin America and her social movements, in this country. And so we must also have spaces, especially those that pertain to us, to give our opinions, with hopes that we may grow with the changes of the times, not just become disillusioned or conformed by them.

So, I want to mention that yes I too have felt attacked on this list. From being compared to "working for the other side" to writing "smut" (thanks Chuck!), to being compared to Judas (thank you James). I entered into this discussion with intention of being honest with the way I felt about these issues, knowing that I had different opinion than most on the list-THINKING this would be a healthy and good place to express such opinions in the spirit of debate- I feel that the attacks- however general are actions of very poor security culture- throwing accusations around like that can hurt peoples lives and cause them great harm in the future.

I also think it reflects a narrow mindedness when it comes to dismissing what people say because of their background- something very strange coming form a list like this. I was really surprised to see you James retract your apology to calling a woman you don't know a fraud and an hopefully an agent.???

As for me, contrary to the opinions of those who wrote the personal attacks above against me, I do work-everyday- toward Latin American Solidarity- al biet in my own personal way- and definitely without the permission or blessing form the capos on this list. I simply choose not to ascribe to the state sponsored "popular" socialism of certain countries, because of blatant contradictions within my principals, and because of blatant contradictions between the rhetoric and action within certain scientific utopian experiments.

And please by all means- check me out. Find out who I am. I see now that James will not vouch me as he has done for others on this list in the past. Please, call the Earth First! Journal, the voice of the radical ecology movement (where I have been asked to be their guest editor for the 25th anniversary edition)- - I am an Earth First!er- You know, the dying breed of radical environmentalist that DO NOT compromise with corporations or capital in defense of Mother Earth- the group that is accused of being too idealistic and principled they never accomplish anything- Or! Ask around Ecuador and the campaigns to end petrol death in the Amazon. Or contact Venezuela! contact the Wayuu or the Yukpa in Zulia, the Union the Colectivos Autonomos-UCA in Maracaibo, The CRA or the Centro de Estudios Sociales Libertarios in Caracas and check me out- because I certainly ain't no "right-wing kook"-Chuck Kaufman- because perhaps it's easier to dismiss things you don't want to hear if you can dismiss the person saying them.

As for this last comment by James: I don't think anyone belongs on this list who is trying to "expose" and undermine and discredit the presidencies of Chavez or Aristide. This does not fit in with our solidarity model one little bit. To tolerate such opinions and posts is a form of collaborationism with Empire."

This is saying I have no right to express myself negatively if I say in my opinion something stinks. Again deligitimizing what I say because "I" say it. Because I am ecuadorian (latino) raised in the US (like many others) and am not Venezuelan. Do you need a Venezuelan to tell you this? And would you just dismiss them as counterrevolutionary Judas - because that is the tried and true tactic in Venezuela (and here in the US with the war on terror) to put down any social initiative that is not in line with "its" program by calling them oppositionist- even when they group or initiative has nothing in common with the "opposition".

Again, I think you are being way to general and over-dramatic. I am not "interfering" with anybodies presidency. I have never questioned the elections won by Chavez- I actually worked a lot during the referendum of August 2004 reporting on the event. And I am not collaborating with the Empire (Are you a really suggesting that I am???)

Either way- I don't think it is right for you James to set parameters of what news gets covered and how it gets covered- because it might go counter to the media frame you all have built up in this list with regards to Venezuela. My suggestions of how news gets covered (on this list) are just suggestions- not dictations of what is acceptable and what is not.

For example, Lucio Gutierrez. When was it permissible, James, to report on the contradictions and shortcomings of this "popularly" "democratically" elected president- who later turned out to be a puppet for the gringos- when is it solidarity or not to speak the TRUTH of what was happening in Ecuador. And can only Ecuadorians do this- or does the greater Latin American community have the right to think and express their opinions, in line with or not with the "popular" (often dogmatic socialist) sentiment felt by the LASolidarity list.

Because I report on the coal mines in Zulia- you don't have the right to say I'm out to "expose", "undermind" and "discredit" the presidency of Hugo Chavez- they are two totally different things. I simply point out that your hero has direct control of a very unjust and deplorable situation. And its not just outside agitators and special interest fabricating and deploring these issues- meaning that it is Venezuelans living in these situations that are voicing these issues and I happen to be one of many foreign and national reporters covering just this one story- and in turn you call me out as a traitor- And on top of that say Im out of bounds because Im also a US citizen and not Venezuelan- and that I should be more concerned with what the rightwing in this country does- watch dog work. That is pretty fucking close minded. I don't need to waste my breath or time on what an asshole Pat Robertson is- and as you say James- you know I'm opposed to racism- as well as many other "isms"- so you know that I don't need to defend my track as a "progressive" like you or like you all on the LASC list.

So below is the response to James and Timoteo that I wanted to conclude my contribution with- This is not a healthly way to conduct this discussion or debate- I am ending my two cents here with what is below- I hope it pisses some of you off- not because I am a born agitator, but because beside the under the belt comments some of the "veteranos" on the list, I have also received personal replies thanking, encouraging, blessing me for the unconventional stances I take on these issues.

I would encourage everyone on this list to watch out for the English sub-titled release of "Nuestro Petroleo y otros cuentos" Hopefully available for US distribution by November [2005]. A video partly funded by the Venezuelan government through the Minstry of Culture. Produced by Edizioni Gatacicova and Yeast Films- who also put out in the last few years the popular videos "How Bush won the elections in Ecuador" "Bolivia No Se Vende" and "Venezuela, otro modo es posible". Off the heals of this last video the Venezuelan government participated in the funding and facility of this video- granting permission to highlight such themes as the production of Orimulsion, and other issues that surround PDVSA. The first few showings of the video in Caracas proved to be very explosive- and the controversial content of the video had the promotional backing of the Venezuelan government pulled out- the video ended up being almost black-listed in Venezuela with only informal lower-scale showings happening around the country by independent media and activist collectives.