ctrp364 Venezuela in 2011

photo by flickr member: rahuldluccaIn 2011 Venezuela still gets a certain kind of press coverage by many in the mainstream media, as it has ever since President Hugo Chavez was elected. For the past few years, Eva Golinger has been taking a close look at how this reporting is done and who is behind it. Her work has led her beyond the media and into the world of American politics and Latin America Policy.

Joining me to discuss her work, Chavez, wikileaks, twitter, press freedom and to help give us an idea of how things are in Venezuela today, all the way from Caracas;  journalist, author and attorney Eva Golinger. She blogs at Postcards from the Revolution. She is also the editor of the english language edition of Correo del Orinoco.

We mention her book: “The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela”

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Back in Time: Venezuela and Steve Shalom

In the spirit of remembering the past and my hard work from the last 7 years on the blog, every weekend I will be going back in time to re-blog past material.

It was March 2006, back when my program was still called the AudioCommunique and my style was a little different, that the topic of my program was Venezuela. At that time, Author and my former Professor at William Paterson University, Steve Shalom, had just returned from a visit to the country. He came on the podcast to explain what he saw and how he interprets what was going on there. 2 years later, we of course know much more about what would happen with both the president and the nation of Venezuela.

I recommend you follow the link and re-listen to the program; Steve does a great job of explaining the journey and the different sides in what was then, just as it is today, the great debate about what is happening in Venezuela and who it is good for.

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Latin American Soldiers, Unite

Most of you know that I’m a big fan of the Euronews Nocomment video podcast. The combination of pure video with the original sounds without commentary changes the experience of watching things happen in the world.

Soldiers on PatrolThis morning I watched and rewatched as Ecuadorian soldiers walked through the tropical forrest in formation. Heavily armed and pointing guns everywhere, in preparation for whatever enemy they are told they may have to face some day soon. Obviously the present enemy they perceive is Colombia, just across the border.

As I watch these soldiers do this, and cut to some other video of both presidents of Ecuador and Venezuela exchanging hostile words with the president of Colombia, I have a vision. That these soldiers in Ecuador would suddenly stop marching, put down their machine guns, turn to the camera and say.. “You know, Colombians are our family, our friends, and our neighbors… we’re not going to shoot at them just because the president says we should.”

It will likely be written off as a naive vision by all those who believe whole heartedly in obeying orders and never asking questions. By now more then ever, why not ask just what the hell these governments are trying to do? Why is one army invading parts of one country and then the other countries threatening to bomb in retaliation? Why do people who know each other, who share so much of the past and present in common, choose to support this kind of logic?

One thing that we’re missing in the world today, from Afghanistan to the Congo to Colombia and on and on… is for people to stop following without questioning. To stop obeying when the orders are to destroy fellow humans, to commit mass murder in response to mass murder.

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Older and As Critical As Ever

Today I am 28 years old. Before I get into the topic on my mind, big thanks to all those who took the time on facebook or here or in email.. to wish me well. Made me feel very special, I appreciate that. But nevermind me and age.

In discussions, both online and off, people often want to place one another in a little box – to summarize the person’s beliefs in one or two words. You’ve heard them all, they sometimes appear in blog comments “you leftists…. you neoconservatives… you christians.. you scientologists.. you commies” etc. These types of labels are an effort not to see someone as complex as they probably are or to simply write off whatever they have to say due to some predetermined belief system. Obviously I seek to advocate the idea that people are more complex, even if the tagline at the top of this blog uses some adjectives, I am both some of that and none of that.

This comes to mind as I listen to more and more analyses of the referendum in Venezuela a few weeks ago. For those not keeping score, president Chavez and his supporters in government put forward a proposal that would give him some greater powers and supposedly allow him to stay president long past the normal term limit. The proposal included several other measures, which the president has called necessary in order to carry out a socialist revolution. Actually I don’t even know if that is completely true as all I read lately are analyses and I’ve never seen with my own eyes, these documents.. but Ill accept that this is what they are essentially about as I have listened to a few Chavez speeches on the topic. The proposal was put to referendum, where citizens could vote if they were for or against it.

The verdict was NO. Citizens voted down this measure, and various media and leaders throughout the world have pointed to this as a great defeat or Chavez (who many of them hate with a passion) or as a victory for democracy in Venezuela.

Much like one of the correspondents on a recent edition of Uprising (the podcast), despite my frequent admiration or support of Chavez’s words and actions, in this case I’m with all those people who were against the measure. I’m a firm believer, with plenty of history in every part of the world to support the idea, that power corrupts. And while I do believe its necessary to stand up to bullies, whether they are in Moscow or in Washington DC (where Im headed in the morning), I also believe that no human should be given divine and unlimited powers. This proposal sounded like too much power and an invitation for corruption and injustice on a mass scale.

I listened attentively to Chavez’s reaction following the vote. I wondered if he would call the No voters terrorists, using that now cliché strategy. But he didn’t. He sucked it up and conceded defeat. Which is encouraging to me. He is certainly no Gandhi, and this may not be the last troubling measure he puts forward, but I’m glad to see he can admit when he has lost something, and I hope that everyone understands that whether you’re considered a “leftist” or a “conservative”, ideas and values are not that simple and cannot be summarized so easily.

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