BY JEAN-GUY ALLARD —Special for Granma International—
A CIA-sponsored agent and beneficiary of the generosity of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Robert Menard is famous for his iron-fisted management of the organization Reporters Without Frontiers (RWF), a kind of one-man-show where he and no one else gives orders. He has realized that in the last few days, the United Nations organization that he had apparently successfully penetrated was not so docile at the point of drawing conclusions.
Apart from his sponsors in Washington, Langley and sectors of the European Union that he has managed to poison, Robert Menard, sui generis "freedom fighter" doesn’t hesitate to accept checks from several figures who are not exactly characterized for their defense of the poor.
According to the AFP news agency, RWF could soon lose its role as a consultative member within the UN following a decision by the UN Committee for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to propose its suspension for one year.
The French agency reported that the committee "took the decision of asking for the one-year suspension of RWF at the behest of Cuba", mentioning that the proposal was also supported by China, the Ivory Coast, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Sudan, Turkey, and Zimbabwe.
In statements revealed by AFP, Menard mentions opposition by Peru and Chile but omits to mention – purely by chance – the United States.
If the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) accept the petition in July, RWF would lose its status as a consultative member.
The Cuban delegation proposed RWF’s exclusion for having provoked incidents at the opening of the 59th Human Rights Commission in Geneva last March 17, during the contribution by the Libyan representative who presides over the commission.
In its violently anti-Cuban charade, whose characteristics are in line with CIA directives, besides organizing various costly publicity campaigns in newspapers and on television – RWF has recently organized various operations in Paris in relation to the detention in Cuba of several paid collaborators of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, led by CIA agent James Cason; not to mention costly publicity campaigns in newspapers and on television.
These mercenaries, or self-styled "reporters," were recruited as informants for the ultra-right press in Miami and have been openly financed by Menard, who acknowledged the fact in an interview with journalists Hernando Calvo Ospina and Katlijn Declercq, authors of the book Dissidents or Mercenaries?
BESIDE MONTANER AND VARGAS LLOSA
Menard’s crew, associated with the fascist International Freedom Foundation created last October in Spain, led by Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa and of which terrorist Carlos Alberto Montaner – honorable son of one of dictator Fulgencio Batista’s agents – is a member, occupied the Cuban Tourist Office in the French capital for a number of hours in early April, and at the end of the same month attempted to prevent people entering the Cuban embassy.
The whole of RWF’s campaign is systematically linked with the anti-Cuban plans of the United States developed in Washington and Miami, where Menard has wide connections with the mafioso leadership that dominates South Florida using terror, blackmail and corruption. And these "independent journalists" that he defends with such ardor are precisely the ones that feed the Batista press such as the Diario de las Américas and governmental organizations like Radio Martí, a subsidiary of Voice of America.
Apart from his sponsors in Washington and Langley, and sections of the European Union that he has succeeded in poisoning, this sui generis "freedom fighter" doesn’t hesitate to accept checks from French multi-millionaire and editor Francois Pinault.
And likewise from Jean-Luc Lagadère - who recently passed away - another wealthy Frenchman and trader in… missiles. And besides these two, Serge Dassault, international arms dealer.
In such a way when European missiles fell over Belgrade and killed 16 journalists from the national television, Menard forgot to account for them in his "annual report."
In Venezuela, Menard’s defense of the putschist press’ condemnation of Hugo Chavez’ popular revolution was really quite eloquent. And in Iraq, where was Menard when the U.S. troops opened fire on the Hotel Palestine where the international press was staying?
It is also known how Menard even defended the "freedom of the press" by going to the extreme of legitimizing... the neo-fascist press, the most retrograde, as he scandalously demonstrated last January 8, during the program Culture et dependances on French TV channel, France 3.
MENARD’S FREE PRESS IS A COALITION OF DISINFORMATION
Menard’s "free" press is the one that justified the massacres in Afghanistan and Iraq by dint of lies, that denied seeing the corpses inside containers in Kabul, the concentration camp-style cages in Guantánamo and the two million prisoners – the vast majority blacks or Latinos – as well as the record figures of executions in U.S. jails.
It is also the press that belongs to the information multinationals that sustain self-censorship according to their own interests and which tried to convince the world that George W. Bush’s presidential election was a democratic one.
In reality, Menard, the prophet of global misinformation, does not defend freedom of the press but the absurd capitalist concept that everything one could desire is for sale, the freedom of the monopolies of information to acquire anything that moves in the media world, even though it reduces journalists’ freedom to enslavement to those intercontinental monsters of pseudo-information.
Menard plays naive when it comes to the single greatest danger to press freedom: economic censorship.
To offer one revealing detail, Menard’s press campaigns are conceived "free of charge," according to him, by the New York office of the international advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi... the global giant of capitalist propaganda, which employs 7,000 workers in 138 offices in 82 countries, and holds 60 of the most important 100 corporate advertising accounts worldwide. Nothing less.
WHILST WASHINGTON AIDS HIM IN GENEVA
A strange dichotomy was awaiting Robert Menard during a visit to the Californian capital of Los Angeles, while his State Department buddies ran to his aid in Geneva, Switzerland. As he had no press visa, the lifelong Reporters Without Frontiers president was arrested, registered several times, put on the police records and jailed for 26 hours by the immigration authorities before being deported to France.
Menard was on his way, with six expert journalists, to a video game trade fair, when immigration agents – responsible for applying the Patriot Act in the interests of national security – realized that the seven Frenchmen did not possess the corresponding journalist visas required by the Bureau for Citizenship and Immigration regulations.
"If you are a reporter and are coming to the United States as a journalist, you need a specific visa," explained Francisco Arcaute, spokesperson for the governmental organization.
Menard and his friends arrived in the United States on May 10 and left on the 11.
Frustrated by this lack of respect towards him after having rendered so many services to the empire, Menard sent a letter to Howard Leach, U.S. ambassador in Paris, complaining that he had been treated like a "common criminal."
The most absurd thing about the controversial figure’s situation is that his buddies in Washington are now pledging to block at all costs the proposal to kick their agent out of his seat at the Human Rights Commission.
According to Amanda Blatta, State Department spokesperson, Cuba would have to provide "a detailed report of the incident" at the UN’s request before demanding his expulsion.
Washington’s rush to aid this figure who so actively supported its interfering operations in the Third World confirms – if that is needed -- the true orientation of Menard’s activities that, certainly frustrated by the mistreatment he received in Los Angeles, failed to denounce any violation of... the freedom of the press.
Venezuela's Electronic News
Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2003
By: Patrick J. O'Donoghue
Miranda State 4th Control Judge has ordered the preventive arrest of Passport & Identification (Oni-Dex) official, Gladys Palacios Pinango and middleman Ilario Noguera Aponte for alleged trafficking of Chinese nationals.
According to State Prosecutor David Palis, Miranda Police officers seized a pile of Chinese passports stamped with Oni-Dex seals and Oni-Dex director's signature, legalizing them to remain in Venezuela with transit papers and ID cards.
In fact, even for Venezuelan citizens renewing ID cards or obtaining a Venezuelan passport, the process has become a "Chinese torture" in itself, unless you have money to spare.
Venezuela's Electronic News
Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2003
By: Oscar Heck
VHeadline.com commentarist Oscar Heck writes: Now is a good time to bring up some more examples of the anti-Chavez opposition’s lack of human decency, questionable intentions/tactics and their self-named “democratic” and “civilized” actions.
A few days ago, I received another unkind word from an avid anti-Chavez person, “…slimeball…” A little while back, I received the following from a person associated with a Miami-based anti-Chavez organization: “… and if you are such an adament Chavez supporter, bewarned: considering what they have done to our country, a "bullet in the head" might be appropriate for some Chavistas!”
Recently, another person has received threats simply for advertising that does not support the Venezuelan opposition. The “threateners” apparently identified themselves as anti-Chavez people and "heroes of Plaza Altamira" (where a handful of renegade anti-Chavez military camped out for many weeks demanding the resignation of Chavez).
A friend of mine (who also does not support the opposition) received this recently (names have been changed): “Sam o Sam, where for art thou, Sam? In Canada still? Honing your b**t in mother Russia? You'll be found by and by Sammy … Sleep tight, for t'won't be tonight, but by and by, baby Sam, by and by, Bye-bye...and see you real soon ... sweet pants ... by and by...”
Now, as I have mentioned on many occasions, I am anti-opposition. Why?
Because of the without-conscience actions that they have taken against Venezuela in their panic-stricken illogical attempt to oust the democratically-elected Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez.
Unfortunately, the Venezuelan opposition often appears to assume that if one is against the opposition (as I am), then one is pro-Chavez.
This reminds me of the USA stance … if you are not with us, then you are against us ... and the funny thing is that many opposition supporters are also avid USA supporters.
What never ceases to amaze me is that the opposition continuously calls itself “civilized” and “democratic” ... is it civilized and democratic to threaten people, including with death?
Carlos Ortega publicly called for the death of Chavez while in Florida, where he apparently said, “Muerte al tirano!” (Death to the tyrant!). Isn’t it against the law (in the USA) to call for the death of someone in public?
Perhaps not … Bush and gang have publicly called for the death of undesirable “anti-democratic dictators and organizations!” Hmm.
Is this the kind of “democracy” that Venezuela needs?
A “democracy” led by the opposition … an opposition which has little respect for others ... an opposition which has no qualms about harassing Tarek Saab and family in a public restaurant ... an opposition which threatens people with death simply for not being on their side ... an opposition which willingly invites assistance from the USA (PNAC and NED included?), to topple Chavez (a democratically-elected President) ... an opposition which believes that maybe some Chavez supporters deserve a bullet in the head?
Very democratic and civilized opposition!
The weirdest thing is that the majority of the opposition people are well-educated (engineers, doctors, lawyers, business professionals, etc.). Why would such educated people resort to threats and actions of sedition, sabotage and treason?
The opposition is also openly backed by the Venezuelan church. Why would the Venezuelan church back a slew of uncivilized, anti-democratic and criminal opposition people such as Carlos Fernandez, Carlos Ortega and Juan Fernandez (not to mention the thousands of crazed supporters)?
From what I understand, it is apparently because they (church and opposition) fear that Chavez will turn Venezuela into another Communist country. My opinion is that this “reason” is simply a pretext to cover up the real reasons!
What are the real reasons?
To maintain monopolies in the area of food and drug (pharmaceuticals) manufacturing, imports and distribution … which gives them the power to control the Venezuelan economy to the point where this control supersedes democratic political will. (e.g., the stoppage)
To maintain the status quo with regards to a corrupt and “mafia”-style legal and judicial system … allowing those with money to conveniently escape justice. (e.g., Carlos Ortega, Perdro Carmona, Juan Fernandez, Carlos Fernandez and many more.)
To maintain the 80% in a continuous state of ignorance and exclusion from the benefits of Venezuelan society. (e.g., keep the minimum wage low enough to keep the poorer Venezuelans too busy working just-to-survive so that they have no more energy, will or desire to further their studies or to seek methods of improving their condition with the help of government structures.)
To maintain media control with the intent of brainwashing people at will. (e.g., Globovision, RCTV, Venevision, TeleVen, El Nacional, El Universal etc, during the April 11-13, 2002 coup and during the stoppage.)
To hide the fact that the majority of the 20% are classists and racists (whether intentional or not). (e.g., “Los monitos” live in “los cerros.” i.e. monkeys -ú dark-skinned people or blacks -- live in the hills … referring to the slums.)
To continue extravagant life styles, and this includes the Venezuelan church mafia. (e.g., travel abroad regularly, vacations in Los Roques, shopping trips to Miami, ownership of several residences throughout the country and abroad, sending children to study in the USA or Canada … all this whilst paying their servants and maids often less that 120$ per month, a completely undignifying wage.)
When I speak against the Venezuelan opposition (which includes the majority of the mid-to-upper classes ú the 20%) I am not speaking against “Venezuelans”. The mid-to-upper classes want the world to believe them when they say “we, the Venezuelans,” insinuating that they are representative of “Venezuelans.” Unfortunately, when spoken by the opposition, “we, the Venezuelans” is not even close to being representative of “all Venezuelans.”
“All Venezuelans” would be better represented by the majority 80% … mostly hardworking people who have been exploited by much of the 20% for several generations.
I have been accused by opposition supporters of generalizing about the 20%. I am generalizing to a certain degree. Why? Because my experience -- in the last 27 years -- regarding this sector of Venezuelan society has been that the vast majority of the 20% can be grouped thus.
Over the years I have dealt with and courted Venezuelan ambassadors, consuls, diplomats, generals, artists, heads of church, bank owners, lawyers, engineers, and businessmen. As well, I have had the pleasure of living and working with Venezuelans in Caracas area slums and in small villages in the countryside.
Responding recently to opposition accusations that Chavez’s bodyguards are Cuban, Venezuelan Ambassador Sanchez apparently stated, “… I think it is a case of racism ... for the first time, one sees not just one black person among the President's bodyguards but several and people think there aren't any blacks in Venezuela and that all Cubans are black …"
Venezuela is a beautiful country with beautiful people.
When I say beautiful people I am referring to the majority of Venezuelans, including some from the 20%.
The US attack on Iraqi has brought the collapse of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime, which is cause for celebration. For the first time in at least 35 years, the conditions could exist for Iraqis to chart their own destiny.
Now the United States has a crucial part to play in making Iraqi
self-determination a reality: It must get out.
President Bush has told the Iraqi people: "We will help you build a
peaceful and representative government that protects the rights of all citizens. And then our military forces will leave." Will US occupation continue until US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is satisfied with the pace and direction of Iraqi learning
Bush has the sequence wrong; a truly representative government in Iraq is possible only if US military forces leave first. The reason is simple: Liberating the Iraqi people was part of the Bush PR campaign to justify a war, but it was not the motive force behind US policy. Neither were stated concerns about weapons of mass destruction or alleged terrorist ties.
Fundamental goal Bush's fundamental goal in Middle East policy is no different from other administrations since World War II: To strengthen US control over the flow of the region's oil resources and the resulting profits.
In a world that runs on oil, the nation that controls the flow of oil has considerable strategic power, not only over the terms of its own consumption but over other nations. US policymakers want leverage over the economies of our biggest competitors -- Western Europe, Japan and China -- which are more dependent on Middle Eastern oil.
From this logic has flowed US support for monarchies (Saudi
Arabia), dictatorships (Iran under the Shah, Iraq in the 1980s) and
regional military surrogates (Israel) -- always aimed at maintaining
A "democratic" government in Iraq will be allowed if, and only if, such a government lines up with US interests. The United States will allow the trappings of a democratic process as long as the process produces the right result.
This approach to democracy has been a consistent feature of US foreign policy. While many acknowledge that in the past the United States has supported dictators and derailed real democracy abroad, the conventional wisdom is that things have changed since the end of the Cold War.
Two recent examples suggest that though tactics may change, the goal remains the same. In Afghanistan, US support for "democracy" included strong-arm tactics at the loya jirga to eliminate a role for former king Zahir Shah and force his withdrawal as a candidate.
After the fall of the Taliban, there was considerable support for his return to the country to play a unifying role, but Bush officials preferred their handpicked candidate, Hamid Karzai.
In Venezuela, US officials were quick to proclaim support for last year's abortive coup attempt that temporarily displaced the elected president, Hugo Chavez. Even more embarrassing was the revelation that US officials had met with Venezuelan military officers and opposition activists, including the nominal leader of the coup.
Because Chavez defied the United States, the democratic process by which he had been elected was irrelevant.
Democracy in Iraq
What will democracy mean in Iraq? When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was asked on Sunday whether the United States would accept in Iraqi elections a victory by candidates opposed to US policy, he waffled. The lack of a history of political freedom in Iraq meant that sometimes "people end up not understanding what really are the facts," he said. How long does it take to reverse that? "It takes some time."
Will Iraqis be allowed to choose their own government only when their understanding of the facts matches Rumsfeld's? Will U.S. occupation continue until Rumsfeld is satisfied with the pace and direction of Iraqi learning?
An ongoing US occupation will not be embraced by most Iraqis, with the exception of figures such as Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress exile group -- a "reliable" leader (defined as willingness to accept US orders) preferred by many in this administration.
Gen. Tommy Franks has said US forces will stay in Iraq "until there is a free government." Like his commander in chief, Franks misses the point: Real freedom stand a fighting chance only if the U.S. military withdraws and a U.N. peacekeeping force takes over the work of stabilizing the country. American military power can remove a dictator but -- given US actions in Iraq and the Middle East -- it cannot create meaningful democracy. --- Al Jazeera
Robert Jensen is an associate professor of journalism and author of "Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream."