Coup Master: Michael Kozak New US Envoy for Latin America


The new acting head of U.S. diplomacy toward Latin America is no stranger to the implementation of interventionist tactics in the region, where for thirty years he learned and perfected the tactics to oust governments.

In par with its belligerent policy towards Latin America, United States President Donald Trump appointed Thursday Michael Kozak as Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, a U.S. diplomat known for his expertise in regime change.

“Kozak is one of those rare diplomats without fear of using force for what the U.S. considers a noble goal," journalist and Director of the Andes section of the Associated Press Joshua Goodman tweeted on Thursday.

This comes as Trump warned that with former National Security Advisor John Bolton out he will enforce an even harder policy against Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, thus Kozak will likely become his ‘go-to-guy’.

The new acting head of U.S. diplomacy toward Latin America is no stranger to the implementation of interventionist tactics in the region, where for thirty years he learned and perfected the tactics to oust governments, a craft that was later exported to Eastern Europe and the former USSR.

Kozak, 73, began his work in the 1970s when he worked as a negotiator on the Panama Canal Treaties during the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations. He then participated in the U.S. role to downplay the Sandinista revolution in 1978-1979 and was a member of the U.S. mediation team that implemented the Egypt-Israel peace treaty and sought a solution to the Lebanese Civil War.

As many other operatives of regime change under Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., he was tasked to push for U.S. interventions in Latin America. Panama’s Manuel Noriega wrote in his memoirs that the two CIA-State Department operatives who were sent to negotiate and then engineer his downfall from power in 1989 were William Walker and Kozak.

In 1991, during his time as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the inter-American Affairs Bureau, Kozak proposed six different options to go against General Manuel Contreras, head of the DINA secret police during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile.

The most radical option was to covertly snatch Contreras without the consent of the then democratic Chilean government violating international law and the country’s sovereignty in a bid to distance themselves from the U.S.-backed dictatorship in the name of “human rights.”

Then his path through key nations in the region took him to Haiti. In March 1993, Kozak was a deputy to U.S. Special Advisor Lawrence Pezzullo on issues related to the Caribbean nation and part of the U.S.-backed ousting of Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

After that from 1996 to 1999, he served as chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, undermining the Cuban government, especially during the island’s “special period.”

Under Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., he took his vast expertise in regime change to the former Soviet bloc. In 2000, Clinton appointed him as U.S. ambassador to Belarus, by 2001 he mounted "Operation White Stork" designed to overthrow President Alexander Lukashenko.

During an exchange of letters to The Guardian in 2001, Kozak unapologetically admitted that he was doing in Minsk exactly what he had been doing in Nicaragua and Panama.

"As regards parallels between Nicaragua in 1989-90 and Belarus today, I plead guilty. Our objective and to some degree methodology are the same," he said.

The strategy repeated in exact detail the tactics the U.S. used to help the Serbian opposition overthrow Slobodan Milosevic, and the Nicaraguan opposition who unseated Daniel Ortega in 1990. Mainly channeling funds to non-governmental organizations, such as the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (Canvas), to push for regime change from within.

According to leaked internal emails from intelligence firm Stratfor, Canvas “may have also received CIA funding and training during the 1999/2000 anti-Milosevic struggle.” The same strategy which later would be used in Venezuela.

  • Published in World

Cuba on alert over increase in dengue cases

The increase of cases of dengue and other diseases in the Americas has placed Cuba's healthcare system on alert, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Local health authorities are carrying out efforts to control Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, which transmit dengue, Zika, and yellow fever, said Dr. Francisco Duran, national director of Hygiene and Epidemiology at the Cuban Ministry of Public Health.

These viral diseases represent a serious threat of morbidity and mortality for communities and families living in high-risk areas, he explained.

Although Cuba has suffered some dengue outbreaks in the first half of 2019, they all have been controlled, said the official.

Duran warned about the importance of strengthening prevention measures at home to prevent the breeding and proliferation of the vector.

It is also necessary to educate the population on the symptoms of these diseases to avoid deterioration and receive a timely treatment.

So far this year, more than 2 million dengue cases have already been reported in the Americas, where 70 percent of the population lives in conditions conductive to the transmission of the disease.

The country in the region which presents the most cases is Brazil, with more than 1 million cases and some yellow fever cases.

Duran made the remarks during the 26th International Course on Dengue, Zika, and other Arboviruses being hold at Havana's Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine, which was attended by experts from 50 nations. 

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Renowned poet and essayist Roberto Fernandez Retamar passes away in Havana

Renowned Cuban poet, essayist and literary critic Roberto Fernandez Retamar passed away in Havana Saturday. He was 89.

Abel Prieto, president of the Jose Marti Cultural Society, confirmed the death of the president of Casas de las Americas on Twitter.

“We have lost one of the greatest poets and thinkers of America and the world.  He leaves us an exceptional work, focused on decolonization and anti-imperialism,” Prieto tweeted.

Fernandez Retamar was a central figure in Cuba literary scene since the 1960s, he wrote over a dozen major collections of verse and founded the Casa de las Americas cultural magazine.  He had also served as president of that institution since 1986.

Fernandez authored Calibán, considered one of the most important essays written in Spanish language in the 20th century.

In 1989, he was awarded the National Prize for Literature.

  • Published in Culture

Latin America honors 100th anniversary of birth of Oswaldo Guayasamin

Hondored as one of the greatest painters of the 20th century, the memory of Ecuador’s Oswaldo Guayasamin was celebrated Saturday on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Across the region and in his home country of Ecuador, events were held to celebrate the centennial of his birth.  The artist's final years were spent bringing the struggles of Latin American history to life with his colorful and powerful paintings.  Guayasamin once described his work as "a painting of denunciation, of great strength, of content.”

"From town to town, from city to city, we witnessed the most immense misery: peoples of black clay, black earth, with children muddied with black mud, men and women with faces of skin burned by the cold, where the tears were frozen for centuries, until not knowing if they were salt or stone," said Guayasamin in a phrase that stands out on the website of the foundation dedicated to the painter.

Born to Indigenous parents in 1919, Guayasamin was sympathetic to the trials faced by the Indigenous communities, and those displaced and abused by “imperialists” throughout the centuries.

As the world wars and regional conflicts filled the headlines of newspapers, Guayasamin took to his art, creating the series “The Age of Wrath,” which, he said, “shows all the tragedy of the twentieth century, the wars kill-men, the torture and pain that produced the dictators, the anguish of mothers who lost their children.  As well as a denunciation of the violence of man against man.”

Guayasamin collaborated with one of Mexico’s greatest painters, Jose Clemente Orozco, in the 40s and completed several murals both in Ecuador and abroad.

Some of his best known works are "The Workers," "The Dead Children," "Mother and Child," "Quito Green Fog," "White Coffin," "The Hands of Protest," "Mutilated," "Tears of Blood," "The Guitarist," “Cabeza de Napalm," “Playa Giron" and “Meditacion I."

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Cuban FM Stresses Importance of Ties with Latin America

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez highlighted the importance for Havana of its relations with Latin American and Caribbean nations, with which it shares the common goal of defending peace and geographical coexistence.

In Twitter, he wrote Cuba has defended the proclaim of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace, calling the region an area of insertion and common destiny.

He further said the island consolidated its 'multifaceted relations with all Latin America and the Caribbean'.

In another twit the Minister pointed out Europe represented in 2018 a third of the island's trade turnover with the world. It was an important source of tourists and the most important in term of cooperation.

Rodriguez further wrote that 'our relations have the potential to keep expanding in 2019'.

Previously, the Cuban FM highlighted the strengthening of bonds in 2018 with nations in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania, based on respect and cooperation.

Rodriguez mentioned Cuba sent more doctors to countries in Northern Africa and the Middle East, and said that one of Havana's goal in 2019 is geared to expand links with these two regions.

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Trend of Self-Proclaimed ‘Presidency’ Catches On in Latin America

In a form of political satire, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador join Venezuela by having their own self-proclaimed "presidents." 

Something they all have in common is that none were democratically elected by the people, yet, this did not stop them from self-proclaiming as ‘presidents’ of their homelands. But with Juan Guiado’s example, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador join Venezuela with brand new self-proclaimed heads of State.

RELATED: People Around the World Reject US Intervention in Venezuela

It all started on Jan. 23 with the attempted coup made by Guaido. The opposition lawmaker, sworn himself/self-proclaimed as the "interim president" of the country, violating the constitution. Soon after, U.S. President Donald Trump recognized the illegal self-proclaimed president and the same was done by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro and right-wing governments in the region. 

Despite repeated calls by Guaido and the Venezuelan right-wing opposition, backed by the U.S. to oust President Nicolas Maduro, the country's army and its leadership has repeatedly stated its full support for the legitimate government and rejected such calls as interventionist and a breach of the sovereignty of Venezuela.

Even though the majority of world leaders, including Russia and China, have not recognized his "leadership", most U.S allies, especially the right-wing "Lima group" have.

As a form of protest and political satire of the current political situation, ordinary citizens in Colombia, Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador have decided to follow Guaido’s footsteps and also declare themselves president.

  • Published in World

What has Happened in Latin America? Understanding the Imperial Counteroffensive

With the essay "The imperial geopolitics of the development in Latin America: an overcome model?", Cuban researchers Yazmín Bárbara Vázquez Ortiz and Olga Rosa González Martínez, from the Center of Hemispheric Studies and the United States of Havana University have just won the International Prize of Essay Pensar a Contracorriente, in its XVI edition. With talked to them, to understand the imperial avalanche and reconquest in the region, as well as the chances for the left-wing to face this challenge. And we do this at a key moment: when threats of an armed intervention on behalf of the United States or of a fratricidal war, they are enraged with the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela.

Which are in bold strokes, the mechanisms that characterize the imperial geopolitical positioning in Latin America, from the perspective of the development?

Yazmín: To speak of the Model of Imperial Geopolitical of Development, we must specify, above all that it’s a group of mechanisms that work together, and have not just an economic nature. Although they include the Free Trade Treaties, the Aid Development Programs (with domestic scope like FORTAS and International like those of USAID), those mechanisms applied in the cultural dominance are also essential to understand the reach that have, in the field of dominance and political subversion, the model we are speaking about.

For example, the articulation of messages issued from the media, international consultant, think tanks, and international institutions like the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, with more or less technical level have in two impact directions. The first one, to discredit the programs, the politics generated from governments or left-wing forces, those who think of a future of human and social development from the socialization of the wealth and power, with transformations that must be done to this purpose, in every geographic levels and structural dimensions and of needed social actions that are transformed in essential processes. The second, aimed at socializing and building up approval about alternative proposals to these on-line with the interests at heart of transnational capital and the imperial project of the United States government.

What’s striking about these action guidelines, especially the second one is the way to build approval that uses conceptions (what to understand by development), values (how to guide the individual behavior to achieve it), ideals (what project should the family and society bet to progress) which has as essential objective the dispute of senses for the cultural change. A process that has won over the symbols, speech, and practices that from the left-wing have shown capacity to mobilize society for the political change. Olguita may speak further on how a model of political communication for the cultural change have taken shape from the action of the aforementioned mechanisms and others, more aggressive that are in motion today.

That same way of acting, I assume has been toward the entire region, but taking into account particularities and specific objectives in each country. How has it been expressed especially against the progressive and liberating processes of the region, and among them, against the Bolivarian Revolution?

Yazmín: The particularity that has had the application of these mechanisms in countries with progressive and liberating processes has been, on one side, the insert of a series of instruments that hinder the realization of the development programs, as well as of politics set with this end and on the other hand, the combination of all these with those politics aimed at guaranteeing “the necessary political changes to access development.”

In the first case, beyond the media offensive to damage the reputation of the programs, plans and politics for the development, boycott processes,—economic war (like in Venezuela), the blockade (like in Cuba)—, juridical instruments have been set, sanctions with international reach, manipulation of international institutions, as they did to lower oil prices with OPEC. All of which seeks to create certain lacks of materials and other elements from which later the uneasiness is worked, along with the “need” of change and ideas on how to do it. Very similar to Danny Glover’s statements on the U.S. position towards Venezuela today: I create the problem, I attack you and then I will come to save you. Only that this salvation is designed and conditioned on the needs of the great capital to enter our economies and the United States guarantees an area of geopolitical support against China, Russia and the challenges they impose to the perpetuation of the imperial hegemony.

To the mechanisms that are already articulated to those mentioned seeking to guarantee “the necessary political changes to access development”, have been added those that are included in the promotion of security, as condition of development from the Initiatives for security deployed in the continent. From these last mechanisms it has been worked the criminalization of the social protest, to eliminate those they cannot convince, those who fight against transnationals and their expropriation processes. Likewise, the processes of “institutional strengthening” have worked through actions of “independent” attorney’s offices, in processes of judicialization of politics that invalidates left leaders like Lula, with chances of recovering the government, or the case of Cristina, Correa that during their time in office limited the capacity to expropriate the natural resources in the countries they governed and they impacted in their rescue for the social progress, with nationalizations.

Today we have corporations meddling in government functions and in the mechanisms of alleged integration as the Initiative for Prosperity and Security of the Northern Triangle. The corporation of politics is part of what promotes the Model of Imperial Geopolitics of Development, together with civic and community empowering, but only in the economic area, as labor force or entrepreneurs subordinate to the chains of global value.

A proposal where many and dissimilar actors participate: ranging from agencies and foundations of the United States, think tanks, churches, corporations, among other that act at territorial, national and regional level.

This process promotes since 2017, as part of the actions of the South Command in Latin America, Internet, the coordination of the mechanisms aforementioned by North American military forces. It’s part of the scheme applied in Venezuela in an attempt to create approval to legitimate the intervention for the national political change.

After studying this phenomenon, what do you think the left-wing in Latin America can do to face and overcome this challenge?

Olguita: I don’t intend this to be a unique answer neither to offer a recipe, I believe the most important thing is that the left-wing comes together, that works in block that makes a balance of its mistakes and that elaborates projections in different areas. Latin America has proven in the last few years that it’s not just reaching the government via elections. It’s about once the Executive Power is attain a process of revolutionary radicalization must occur in the broadest sense of the word. Like Che Guevara said, “the enemy must not be given an inch”. There are spaces that cannot be given freely, it’s necessary to speak to people, to work with the lowest ranks, in the neighborhoods, to speak face to face. The media is important, social media are useful, but the space within the community cannot be lost, there is where the right-wing and the United States have been working hard. Everyone who is strategically thinking of its future should go beyond the debate of public policies and include all the actors who influence in the creation of approval and the mobilization.

  • Published in Specials

Cuba Celebrates Latin American Medicine Day

Cuba and other Latin American countries are celebrating on Monday the Latin American Medicine Day, in tribute to the birth of Cuban scientist Carlos J. Finlay (1833-1915), discoverer of the transmitting agent of yellow fever.

In his studies, Finlay showed in 1881 that between an infected and a healthy person, there was an independent agent that transmitted the disease, and he was capable of identifying the Aedes aegypti mosquito as the biological vector.

The epidemiologist had several setbacks to show his thesis, devalued at that time by the scientific community, especially the American one.

Some few years later, the 14th International Congress of the History of Medicine held in Rome in 1954 confirmed the Cuban scientist as the only discoverer of the transmitting agent of yellow fever and the application of his doctrine in the sanitation of the Tropic.

Proposed several times for the Nobel Prize in Medicine, although never granted, the celebration of the Latin American Medicine Day every December 3 is a recognition to Finlay's work.

On May 25, 1981, UNESCO instituted the Carlos J. Finlay International Prize for the first time to recognize progress in microbiology, and included Finlay in its magazine as one of the six most outstanding microbiologists in world history.

To commemorate the date, Cuba is carrying out activities to honor health workers and highlight the main health achievements this year.

  • Published in Cuba
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