South Africa

2011-09-05 Caracas Cables Pt I: Hugo’s Former Wife and “Half Brother,” Contentious Environmental Politics

Authored by Nikolas Kozloff

Chávez's Former Wife Herma Marksman

At the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, diplomatic staff routinely spoke to the rightist Chávez opposition during the Bush years. But in 2004, an odd encounter occurred between the Americans and Chávez's former wife, Herma Marksman, who held a rather disparaging view of the Venezuelan president. Marksman, a history professor who was married to Chávez between 1984 and 1993, told U.S. diplomats that the firebrand populist was ambitious from an early age and "even thought of running the country as a 20 year-old."

Later, as a junior officer, Chávez fell under the influence of Douglas Bravo, a former Communist and guerrilla leader from the 1960s. According to Marksman it was Bravo, and not Chávez, who developed the political philosophy of the Bolivarian Revolution. Though Marksman cast Chávez as an intellectual lightweight, she added that he "should not be underestimated." The Venezuelan was "an excellent storyteller, who often characterizes his opponents as devils, which is a powerful religious symbol to the poor."

According to Marksman, Chávez was unscrupulous, "trusted few people" and "does not have true friends." If he had a problem, Marksman added, Chávez would only confide in his brother Adan or Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Marksman remarked cryptically that several individuals within the Chávez government were "dangerous," including some figures in the inner circle such as Diosdado Cabello (for more on him, stay tuned for future posts).

2011-03-30 Firoze Manji of Pambazuka News on the Uprisings in Southern Africa

Firoze Manji of Pambazuka News appeared on The Real News Network to talk about the uprisings in southern Africa. He highlighted uprisings in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon and Swaziland and also suggested uprisings are brewing in Kenya and South Africa.

WL Central has been keeping a close eye on many of these uprisings and how they have been brutally suppressed.

Manji explains why people in Africa are revolting:

The reason why this is happening is that everyone shares the experience of the Egyptians and the Tunisians. Yes, the focus has been on getting rid of dictators, but the real common thing that everyone faces has been thirty years of structural adjustment programs (SAPs), thirty years where all social services have been privatized, thirty years where there has been massive accumulation by dispossession. You have the peasantry losing land. You have people migrating to the cities. You have a huge decline in income.

Manji notes the issue of "political dispossession" saying unfortunately governments today are more inclined to listen to the IMF, the World Bank and international aid agencies than they are citizens. He adds "percolating discontent” has not been at this level since the anti-colonial revolutions of the 1950s.

2011-03-18 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

Next: We got Obasanjo to anoint Yar'Adua, says Saraki

"Contrary to the belief that former President Olusegun Obasanjo personally hand-picked late President Umaru Yar'Adua as his successor, a United States diplomatic cable obtained by Wikileaks and made available exclusively to NEXT, has detailed how a group of governors led by Bukola Saraki, the Kwara State governor, worked behind the scene to pressure Mr. Obasanjo into anointing the former Katsina State governor as his replacement.

No other person than Mr. Saraki himself gave the account of the political intrigues that threw up the late president to a former US Consul General, Brian Browne."

Read more Cable


"Lower House Diet Member Taro Kono voiced his strong opposition to the nuclear industry in Japan, especially nuclear reprocessing, based on issues of cost, safety, and security during a dinner with a visiting staffdel, Energy Attache and Economic Officer October 21. Kono also criticized the Japanese bureaucracy and power companies for continuing an outdated nuclear energy strategy, suppressing development of alternative energy, and keeping information from Diet members and the public. He also expressed dissatisfaction with the current election campaign law."

Read cable


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