WikiLeaks News (Releases):
Authored by Nikolas Kozloff
In their correspondence with the State Department, U.S. diplomats in South America have been exceptionally paranoid about the activities of Hugo Chávez and the possibility of a leftist regional alignment centered upon Venezuela. That, at least, is the unmistakable impression that one is left with by reading U.S. cables recently disclosed by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks, and it's a topic about which I have written widely in recent months. Yet, with President Hugo Chávez's health now fading fast and Venezuela looking like a rather spent force politically, it would seem natural that Washington will eventually turn its sights upon other rising powers --- countries like Brazil, for instance.
Judging from WikiLeaks cables, the U.S. doesn't have much to fear from this South American juggernaut in an ideological sense, and indeed leftist diplomats within Brazil's Ministry of Foreign Affairs are regarded as outmoded and anachronistic relics of the past. Nevertheless, Brazil is a rising player in the region and U.S. diplomats are keenly aware of this fact. For the time being, Brazil and the United States maintain a cordial, if not exactly stellar diplomatic relationship. As Venezuela fades and Washington struggles to maintain its crumbling hegemony in the wider region, however, Brazil and the U.S. will inevitably develop rivalries.
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
El País: Las aerolíneas protestan ante las trabas para repatriar de Venezuela sus ingresos (The airlines protest due to the lock to take their profits from Venezuela)
"La irritación de las aerolíneas hacia los usos y costumbres de la administración venezolana estaba a punto de explotar el año pasado. La Asociación Internacional de Transporte Aéreo (IATA, por sus siglas en inglés) protestaba ante la embajada de EE UU en Caracas a finales de 2009 porque las aerolíneas internacionales tenían que esperar cada vez más tiempo en recibir el dinero que le retenía el Gobierno venezolano por la emisión de billetes. (The irritation of the airlines against the Venezuelan administration's habits was about to explode last year. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) protested in front of the American Embassy in Caracas at the end of 2009 because the international airlines had to wait longer each time to receive their money retained by the Venezuelan government due to the currency emission.)"
La Jornada: Los Zetas colapsan estado de derecho en Guatemala ("The [drug gang] Zetas" collapse the rule of law in Guatemala)
The Guardian: UK firm's partner 'wanted Peru to curb priests in mine conflict areas'
"BHP Billiton associate urged removal of teachers and clergy, according to leaked US embassy cables.
A mining company in Peru part-owned by a British FTSE 100 company agitated for the removal of teachers and Catholic bishops to new posts away from "conflictive mining communities", according to a leaked US cable obtained via WikiLeaks."
El País: Estados Unidos dibuja un panorama desolador de la sanidad en Cuba (The United States presents a devastating landscape of the Cuban public health system)
"Los mejores hospitales solo están al alcance de los extranjeros y de la élite política, según los despachos desde La Habana. (The best hospitals can only be reached by foreigners and the political elite, according with the [American] offices in Havana.)"
El País: Mubarak agitaba ante EE UU el miedo al caos y al islamismo para negarse al cambio (Mubarak talked in front of the United States his fear to chaos and islamism as an excuse to refuse change)
"'Presión no, pero estamos dispuestos a ser persuadidos', le dijo a un senador. ('There's no presure, but we could be persuaded', he said to an [American] senator.)"
The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: US keeps Uzbekistan president onside to protect supply line
"The post-Soviet state of Uzbekistan is a nightmarish world of 'rampant corruption', organised crime, forced labour in the cotton fields, and torture, according to the leaked cables.
But the secret dispatches released by WikiLeaks reveal that the US tries to keep President Islam Karimov sweet because he allows a crucial US military supply line to run into Afghanistan, known as the northern distribution network (NDN)."
Der Spiegel: 'Bridges to Nowhere': America's Unsavory Friends in Central Asia
"The US is anxious to broaden its influence in Central Asia -- and limit that of Russia. The result, however, are questionable alliances with some of the strangest despots in the world.
The secret country assessment from the US Embassy in the Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe, prepared for General David Petraeus on Aug. 7, 2009 ahead of his visit later that month, described a country on the brink of ruin. Tajikistan, a country of 7.3 million people on the northern border of Afghanistan, is a dictatorship ruled by Emomali Rakhmon, a former collective farm boss and notorious drunkard. "Parliament acts as a rubber stamp, barely discussing important legislation such as the national budget," the dispatch noted.
Some of the state's revenues were from criminal sources: "Tajikistan is a major transit corridor for Southwest Asian heroin to Russia and Europe." The country had "chronic problems with Uzbekistan," its neighbor, and the impoverished former Soviet republic faced the prospect of civil war fomented by Islamists in the east of the country."
Le Monde: Le Pérou face à ses démons : le terrorisme et la corruption (Peru faces its demons: terrorism and corruption)
"A en croire des télégrammes diplomatiques américains obtenus par WikiLeaks et révélés par Le Monde, le Pérou n'arrive pas à conjurer ses vieux démons, le terrorisme et la corruption. La menace représentée par la guérilla maoïste du Sentier lumineux (SL) "a été contenue mais pas éliminée, et elle pourrait s'épanouir à nouveau", estime une note confidentielle de novembre 2009.
Pendant les années 1980 et 1990, le conflit armé interne provoqué par le SL avait fait 70 000 morts. Le principal dirigeant maoïste, Abimael Guzman, est emprisonné depuis 1992. En dépit de bons résultats macro-économiques, les causes sous-jacentes – la pauvreté, la corruption et les inégalités – n'ont pas disparu, reconnaissent les diplomates américains."
El País: La retirada de Kosovo desató una crisis entre España y EE UU (The withdrawal from Kosovo sparked a crisis between Spain and the U.S.)
"Cuando las relaciones entre España y Estados Unidos parecían recuperadas tras la llegada de Obama a la Casa Blanca, una intempestiva retirada militar, esta vez de Kosovo, provocó la mayor crisis que han vivido los dos países en mucho tiempo. Los primeros resquemores comenzaron cuando Madrid se negó a reconocer la independencia de este territorio, bajo control de la comunidad internacional desde los bombardeos de la OTAN de 1999. Washington no aprobaba pero comprendía la posición española: la independencia en Europa de un territorio por motivos étnicos es un precedente preocupante. Pero, cuando la ministra Carme Chacón anunció el 19 de marzo 2009 la retirada de las tropas españolas sin haber consultado con los aliados, de resquemor se pasó a la crisis. Aunque en público se mantuvieron las formas, los despachos del Departamento de Estado muestran que la procesión iba por dentro: el vicepresidente Joseph Biden reprendió la retirada en su primer encuentro con el presidente Zapatero mientras que Hillary Clinton no dudó en hablar de "irritación" ante el ex ministro Moratinos."
The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: MI5 offered files on Finucane killing to inquiry
"MI5 has said that it is prepared to hand over sensitive files on one of the most high-profile murders during the Northern Ireland Troubles carried out by loyalist gunmen working with members of the British security forces.
The offer in the case of the Pat Finucane, the well-known civil rights and defence lawyer murdered in front of his wife and three young children in 1989, is contained in confidential US embassy cables passed to WikiLeaks.
Supporters of Finucane welcomed the revelation of the offer as "highly significant" and believe it could pave the way for a fresh inquiry into the killing that would be acceptable to the family."
The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: IRA used Irish boom to turn 'respectable'
"The IRA used the Celtic Tiger economic boom in the Irish Republic to diversify into "more sophisticated business enterprises" by buying up properties in London, Dublin and Spanish resorts, according to leaked US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
A senior Irish police officer told the American embassy in Dublin that the IRA used the booming Irish economy to move on from 1970s-style racketeering as it turned to "apparently respectable businessmen" to raise funds.
The cables also show that the growth of the Celtic Tiger was so admired in Washington that the US treasury secretary travelled to Dublin in 2004 to discover the "secrets" of Ireland's success.
The IRA's changing business practices are revealed in a cable by Jonathan Benton, the then deputy chief of mission at the American embassy in Dublin, which reported on meetings with senior Irish police officers and senior officials from the department of justice."
Der Spiegel: 'Boys and Their Toys' The US Befriends Azerbaijan's Corrupt Elite
"Azerbaijan is rife with corruption and comparisons to European feudalism in the Middle Ages are hardly a stretch. But with vast reserves of oil and natural gas at stake, the US is willing to risk the embarrassment that comes with courting the country.[...]
Azerbaijan, which lies in the Caspian basin and has a population of 9 million, is one of the US's strategic energy partners, despite being located within Russia's sphere of influence. The country boasts proven energy reserves of roughly 7 billion barrels of oil and 1.3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. Millions of barrels of these natural resources flow to the West each year via a pipeline connecting the Azerbaijani capital with Ceyhan, a Turkish port on the Mediterranean Sea.[...]
The American documents leave no doubt that the diplomats know exactly who they are courting. Cables bear titles like 'Who owns what?' in which they provide portraits of the country's most powerful families. 'Observers in Baku often note that today's Azerbaijan is run in a manner similar to the feudalism found in Europe during the Middle Ages,' one such cable reads. 'A handful of well-connected families control certain geographic areas, as well as certain sectors of the economy.'"
The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Russia 'was tracking killers of Alexander Litvinenko but UK warned it off'
"Russia was tracking the assassins of dissident spy Alexander Litvinenko before he was poisoned but was warned off by Britain, which said the situation was "under control", according to claims made in a leaked US diplomatic cable.
The secret memo, recording a 2006 meeting between an ex-CIA bureau chief and a former KGB officer, is set to reignite the diplomatic row surrounding Litvinenko's unsolved murder that year, which many espionage experts have linked directly to the Kremlin."
El País: Perú pide ayuda a EE UU ante el rebrote de Sendero Luminoso (Peru asks for US help, facing the resurgence of the Shining Path)
"Estados Unidos prestará asistencia militar a Perú para acabar con el terrorismo de Sendero Luminoso, que causó buena parte de los más de 69.000 muertos registrados en las décadas de los ochenta y noventa, según muestran los cables del Departamento de Estado. Esa guerrilla colocó al Estado contra las cuerdas, y ha resurgido en el Alto Huallaga y Valles del Apurímac y Ene, donde cobra peaje al narcotráfico y adoctrina a los empobrecidos habitantes de esas regiones andinas.
El salvajismo de la milicia maoísta fue tan intenso, y los nuevos ataques, tan alarmantes, que la Embajada norteamericana ha pedido a Washington más colaboración con el Ejército peruano y un programa contra las minas detonadas por Sendero Luminoso en las rutas transitadas por el Ejército, según un cable del pasado año. La prioridad del Gobierno es liquidar a Sendero en el Apurímac y para ello firmó un contrato de nueve millones de dólares con un especialista israelí, según otro despacho."
Le Monde: Washington s'inquiète d’un possible programme nucléaire birman (Washington worried about a possible nuclear programme in Burma)
"Depuis 2002, les diplomates américains en poste à Rangoun reçoivent des indications sur la construction possible d'une installation nucléaire près de Minbu, dans la division de Magway, sur le fleuve Irawaddy. Plusieurs télégrammes diplomatiques, obtenus par WikiLeaks et consultés par Le Monde, font état de témoignages dans ce sens, émanant tantôt d'un homme d'affaires expatrié, tantôt d'un collaborateur birman ayant recueilli les confidences d'un proche.
Il a d'abord été question d'une coopération russe, puis, plus récemment, de la présence de "300 Nord-Coréens" pour participer à cette tâche. Chaque fois, l'ambassade prend les plus grandes précautions en rapportant ces témoignages, précisant qu'elle n'est pas en mesure de les confirmer de manière indépendante, ou que le chiffre de 300 lui paraît excessif."
The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables paint bleak picture of Tajikistan, central Asia's poorest state
"Tajikistan is losing the battle against the flow of drugs from neighbouring Afghanistan and is characterised by "cronyism and corruption" emanating from the president downwards.
A series of leaked US diplomatic dispatches released by WikiLeaks paint a bleak picture of Central Asia's poorest state. They note that it suffers from 'earthquakes, floods, droughts, locusts and extreme weather' and is situated next to 'obstructive Uzbekistan', 'unstable Afghanistan' and the 'rough, remote' Pamir mountains next to western China.
But Tajikistan's worst obstacle is the country's venal president Emomali Rahmon, diplomats say. A secret cable dated 16 February 2010, from the US embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan's capital, describes how Rahmon runs the ex-Soviet republic's economy for his own personal profit: 'From the president down to the policeman on the street, government is characterized by cronyism and corruption.'"
Le Monde: WikiLeaks: dictatures et mafias d'Asie centrale (Dictatorships and mafias in Central Asia)
"L'Asie centrale: ses ressources naturelles, ses régimes autoritaires, ses aéroports essentiels pour le transit vers l'Afghanistan. Pas évident, pour les Etats-Unis – après étude par Le Monde des télégrammes diplomatiques américains obtenus par WikiLeaks – de défendre ses intérêts nationaux dans cette zone sensible, arrière-cour traditionnelle de la Russie."
The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables name UK banker as middleman in Kazakh corruption ring
"A British tycoon is identified by US diplomats as the man at the centre of one of America's worst recent corruption scandals, in which large bribes were allegedly handed over in the ex-Soviet state of Kazakhstan.
Robert Kissin, a UK banker and commodity trader, is alleged to be the key middleman who handled a $4m (£2.5m) secret payment.
According to leaked US diplomatic dispatches released by WikiLeaks, the cash was moved through a Barclays bank account set up in London on behalf of an offshore shell company registered in the Isle of Man, where true ownerships are easier to conceal.
The money was designed to help Texas oil services company Baker Hughes make corrupt payments to Kazakh state oil chiefs in return for a lucrative $219m contract, according to the company's subsequent admissions."
For the complete list of current events, please click here.
Wikileaks National Rally for Transparency
Washington DC, other locations: Saturday, January 15
Location: To be announced
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wikileaks-National-Rally-for-Transparency/...
Miami FL:: Monday, December 13, 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Location: U.S. Attorney's Office Building, 99 Northeast 4th Street, Miami, FL
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=175854382432344
San Jose, CA: Friday, December 10, 2010, 12pm - 3pm
Location: In front of San Jose City Hall
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=178828535463159
San Jose, CA: Thursday, December 16, all day
Location: San Jose State University
London:, Monday, December 13, 4pm
Location: Swedish Embassy, 11 Montagu Place, London W1H 2AL
Topic: Against extradition to Sweden (JusticeforAssange.com Campaign)
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Justice-for-Assange-UK/169102599797422?v=wall
Campaign website: http://www.justiceforassange.com
For freedom, say no to state terrorism
Madrid: Saturday, December 11, 6pm
Location: Embajada británica en Madrid (British Embassy), Torre Espacio, Paseo de la Castellana 259D, 28046 Madrid
Event page: http://freewikileaks.eu/
A Coruña: Saturday, December 11, 6pm
Location: Embajada de Suecia en A Coruña (Swedish Embassy): Sale del Cantón Grande a las 18.00 en el Obelisco hacía la Avenida de Linares Rivas 18-21, A Coruña, Spain
Event page: http://freewikileaks.eu/
Barcelona: Saturday, December 11, 6pm