By Nikolas Kozloff.
In the wake of Paraguay's suspicious impeachment of President Fernando Lugo, which observers have likened to a kind of "quasi-coup," some may wonder whether underhanded corporate forces may have played a role in the political crisis. Such suspicions were heightened recently when the new de facto regime led by Federico Franco, Lugo's former conservative Vice President, inked a deal with Texas-based PetroVictory/Crescent Global Oil to open up the remote Chaco region to petroleum exploration. Supporters of Lugo's highly dubious ouster claim that Crescent could help to ease Paraguay's dependence on foreign oil. Richard González, Crescent's CEO, announced that the company would invest $10 million in the Chaco and start exploratory drilling within the next few months.
By Nikolas Kozloff.
For isolated and impoverished countries, it can sometimes prove difficult to pursue an independent foreign policy which challenges Washington's traditional sphere of influence. Take, for example, tiny Paraguay which has recently been convulsed in political instability. Four years ago, Fernando Lugo was elected president after pledging to take on political and economic elites on behalf of Paraguay's poor. A former Bishop, Lugo promised to tackle pressing social problems like land reform. On the international front too, Lugo was controversial: though he continued to maintain friendly ties to the U.S., he also made overtures toward the populist regime of Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.
Over the past few years, the international left has derived much satisfaction from the course of South American political and economic integration. The novelty of such integration is that it has proceeded along progressive lines and has been pushed by regional leaders associated with the so-called "Pink Tide." With so many leftist leaders in power, it is plausible to surmise that a left bloc of countries might challenge Washington's long-term hemispheric agenda. Yet, behind all of the lofty rhetoric and idealism, serious fissures remain within South America's leftist movement, both within individual countries and within the larger regional milieu.
That, at least, is the impression I got from reading U.S. State Department cables recently declassified by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks. Take, for example, the Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva administration in Brazil, which at times encouraged a "hostile" climate against the Free Trade Area of the Americas or FTAA, a corporately-sponsored plan backed by Washington, while on other occasions encouraging "public doubt and confusion through its own often-conflicting statements" about the accord. Behind the scenes, the Brazilian government was much more divided on the matter than commonly portrayed, torn between its South American loyalties on the one hand and the desire to gain access to the lucrative U.S. market for agricultural and industrial goods on the other.
With a big question mark hanging over the health of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, many in Washington may see opportunity. Though Chávez initially claimed that he was merely suffering from a "pelvic abscess," the firebrand leader subsequently conceded that he had cancer. In a shock to the nation, Chávez announced that he had a tumor removed during a sojourn in Cuba, and that he would "continue battling."
Reporting over the past several weeks suggests that Chávez might be in worse shape than has been commonly let on. Though he returned to Venezuela after his operation in Cuba, Chávez recently announced that he would pay yet another visit to Cuba in order to undergo chemotherapy. The firebrand leader, however, still refuses to reveal what kind of cancer he has or its severity. Ominously, one medical source reported to Reuters that Chávez's cancer had spread to the rest of his body and was in an advanced stage.
It's unclear how the president's shaky health might factor in the nation's upcoming 2012 election. The populist leader, who has closely identified himself with the so-called "Bolivarian Revolution," has never shown much interest in grooming a successor within his own United Socialist Party of Venezuela or PSUV, and so if Chávez should falter it is easy to imagine a scenario in which much of his political project could unravel or be derailed by the right.
The Caracas Cables
Judging from U.S. State Department cables recently declassified by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks, many American diplomats, including former ambassador in Caracas Charles Shapiro, would view this outcome as highly desirable. In 2004, two years after the Bush administration aided the rightist opposition in its short-lived coup attempt against Chávez, Shapiro sat down with Alí Rodríguez, the head of Venezuela's state-run oil company
This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
10:45 PM WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning nominated for a Pwnie for Epic 0wnage.
12:15 PM Al Joumhouria published a report on a cable from 2004 containing comments from historians who believe documents on the Armenian Genocide are constantly being cleared from the archives.
At least two attempts to clear the archives of the documents on crimes against Armenians are mentioned in the cable by Prof Halil Berktay. The second, he believes, ‘planned by a group of retired diplomats and generals headed by the former Turkish ambassador to Iraq’.
Link to the original article.
03:35 AM Diplomatic cable analysis published by EFF with details on privacy violations and government surveillance in Latin America.
According to the cables mentioned, the governments of Paraguay and Panama pressured the U.S. into granting them access to Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) software in an attempt to spy on mobile communications for political gain.
Financial Express: In Search of Truth
Shamsher Chowdhury writes in the FE editorial: "Since the beginning of the modern-day civilization one of the most frequently made statements by politicians and civil society members alike has been, "Truth shall prevail". But to be truthful, for decades now, truth has been a major victim in all societies of the East and the West, including that of Bangladesh. But in recent years the lone superpower exceeded them all. Recall the extensive lies and twisting of facts that it resorted to prior to the invasion of Iraq. One might, however, say now that the truth has finally prevailed with the exposition of the facts from the originally recorded US files on Iraq by WikiLeaks."
The Voice of Russia: WikiLeaks, Part 1. Full-blown protection
Ignat Kulagin looks at one of the cases disclosed in the Iraq War Logs: "As part of its propaganda campaign, the Pentagon frequently showed images of surrendering insurgents on Iraqi TV. The spin was thus – they come to us and say: “I want to give my country freedom, but terrorists just get in the way of the establishment of an Iraqi democracy, so I’m going to be on the side of the US”. Yet the reported instances, where insurgents are ready to lay down their guns but are still shot at, don’t get any news coverage."
ABC (Paraguay): WikiLeaks: ¿qué importa al periodismo?
"WikiLeaks has been enshrined as one of the sites with the most relevant documents internationally. Among its contents are confidential information about the war in Iraq and others that the United States would have preferred not to come to light. Today, the site, which does not even need advertising to survive, is a great source for the media.[...]
Paraguayan journalist Eduardo Quintana, from the international desk of ABC Color, said: "The phenomenon is WikiLeaks is for journalism a bucket of cold water and a challenge at the same time. The portal should serve as an example for journalism because, thanks to their findings, not only can international politics be laid bare, but they affect several governments as well. They also demonstrate that there is still news to tell the world (...) They help us to rethink, as journalists, politicians and citizens, the line between freedom of expression and security."