Venezuela Urges International Conference against US Aggressions

Caracas, Apr 17 (Prensa Latina) Venezuela's ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Samuel Moncada, called on countries victim of U.S. coercive measures to a denunciation conference, local media reported Wednesday.

The diplomat, in an interview with the multinational channel Telesur, called for a great international meeting to discuss and develop strategies to counteract these actions.

According to the Venezuelan representative, more than 40 countries in the world face all kinds of unilateral sanctions which could be called 'crimes of economic aggressions'.

The world must understand these kinds of wars can be fought successfully, but it needs the help of the international community.

United we can defeat those arbitrary abuses of the United States,' the diplomat said.

Washington has a steady campaign of aggression against the South American country through economic sanctions against state officials, trying to discredit the constitutional government of President Nicolas Maduro.

The diplomat insisted these actions foster 'a coup d'etat along with the Venezuelan extreme right and with the support of the Government of Colombia and other complacent states'.

We should create a great international conference to combat this type of financial aggression on a global scale, which is a new weapon,' Moncada said.

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'Great Housing Project' Has Benefited 12 Million Venezuelans

The Housing Project was launched in 2011 by the Venezuelan government and benefited to more than 12 million of Venezuelan since then.

The Housing Project implemented by the Venezuelan government benefits more than 12 million of Venezuelan, said the Minister for Housing and Habitat, Ildemaro Villarroel Monday.

RELATED: Venezuela to Raise Issue of US Planned Invasion with International Authorities: Arreaza

The Minister added that almost three million homes were built since the housing program was launched in 2011. Villarroel pointed out that 37.4 percent of the houses were made with the help of the population who was provided by materials and technical advice.

He declared that Venezuela would continue working on the construction of houses despite the destabilization the country is facing.

La ha tocado el corazón de cada familia venezolana para demostrar que ante las adversidades existe la luz de la esperanza. El 2 millones 600 mil es la prueba irrefutable e incuestionable de que la garantiza máxima protección social

"The #GMVV has touched the hearts of every Venezuelan family to show that in the face of adversity there is the light of hope. The #HitoHistórico 2 million 600 thousand is an irrefutable and an unquestionable proof that the #Revolution guarantees maximum social protection"

A total of 94.122 homes were built in collaboration with companies from Brazil, Turkey, Iran, China, Belarus, and Portugal.

The president of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro said the Plan is aimed to reach the construction of five million houses by 2025.

The "Great Housing Project" was implemented to help families affected by heavy rains in Venezuela at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 and was later extended to the rest of the population due to economic reasons.

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Washington uses Colombia for ‘cheap spectacles’ against Caracas – Venezuelan FM

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza accused US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of using the tensions on the border with Colombia to stage a publicity stunt as part of a smear campaign against Caracas.

The US and Colombia turned the beleaguered Colombian border town of Cucuta into a “regular stage for their most decadent and cheap spectacles,” Arreaza tweeted on Sunday in response to Pompeo’s visit in the area.

The consequences of the criminal blockade imposed by his [Pompeo] government on Venezuela are too grave to count. It has created death, suffering and need.

Earlier, Venezuelan migrants living in camps on the Colombian side of the border rioted over food rations and clashed with local police. Towns on the Venezuelan side also saw clashes between law enforcement and protesters.

The unrest was exacerbated by the opposition’s attempts to drive trucks filled with US-sponsored aid into Venezuela. The authorities refused to let them pass, denouncing the move as a “PR stunt,” and citing suspicions that Washington might use the trucks to smuggle in weapons.

As tensions mounted, US officials and some in the Western media accused the Venezuelan government of setting one of the trucks on fire during a dramatic confrontation at a border bridge with Colombia, but footage from the scene and additional reporting revealed that the truck was in fact set on fire by opposition activists.

Nevertheless, during his stay in Cucuta, Mike Pompeo met with a group of Venezuelan migrants and once again urged Caracas to accept the US-sent “humanitarian aid.”

Venezuela for its part stated that it will only accept aid sponsored by the UN and global relief organizations like the Red Cross, which Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro struck a deal with earlier this week.

On Sunday, Pompeo further blasted Maduro from Colombia, saying the US “will continue to utilize every economic and political means at our disposal to help the Venezuelan people.” He mentioned economic sanctions and visa revocations for Venezuelan officials among the means to pressure the government into succumbing to the opposition.

Washington openly backed opposition leader Juan Guaido when he declared himself ‘interim president’ of Venezuela in January. The US slapped Caracas with a number of economic restrictions and urged others to follow suit. US President Donald Trump refused to rule out military intervention should the other methods to oust Maduro fail.

Maduro, meanwhile, vowed to continue to defend the nation’s sovereignty against any foreign attack. He has repeatedly slammed the US for plotting to launch a coup to topple him. That aside, officials in Caracas also accused Washington of having a hand in the country’s recent major blackouts.

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Secretive meeting on US ‘military option’ in Venezuela reveals key figures of invasion push – report

A hawkish US think tank has hosted a secretive meeting on Venezuela, bringing together American and South American officials to discuss the “use of military force” in the country, investigative journalist Max Blumenthal told RT.

The exclusive piece shedding some light on the secretive gathering was published by the Grayzone portal on Saturday. Blumenthal has obtained a check-in list of a private roundtable dubbed ‘Assessing the Use of Military Force in Venezuela,’ which was hosted by the DC-based think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

@MaxBlumenthal Exclusive: DC's @CSIS hosted a who's who of Trump Latin America advisors for a private roundtable to discuss waging a US military assault on Venezuela. The meeting included the former head of SOUTHCOM, a Colombian general and USAID & NIC officials. 

The roundtable was held on April 10, yet its check-list was misleadingly dated as April 20. The fact the meeting had actually taken place was confirmed to Blumenthal by its participants, whom he has reached for comment. They were not very eager to talk, though.

“We talked about military… uh… military options in Venezuela. That was earlier this week though,” research associate at CSIS’s Americas Program Sarah Baumunk said. She promptly grew nervous, adding that she didn’t “feel comfortable answering these questions” and hung up on the journalist.

Another listed attendee, a research associate with international strategy firm Hills & Company, Santiago Herdoiza, simply said it was a “closed meeting” without providing any details.

“They were extremely nervous that somebody in the media knew about the existence of this event. It was a very high-level meeting with basically the main people in Washington involved in making the sausage of Trump’s Venezuela policy and they wanted to keep it as private as possible,” Blumenthal told RT on Sunday. “It really does show that military options are being seriously considered at this point, after all other mechanisms that Trump has put into play seem to have failed.”

The list of participants is surely impressive – the roundtable has brought together former and incumbent military and civil officials from the US and South America, representatives of USAID and Organization of American States (OAS) as well as analysts from various think tanks. Several figureheads ‘appointed’ by the self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido were also in attendance.

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Arguably the most high-profile participant of the gathering was Admiral Kurt Tidd, who until recently used to head the US Naval Forces Southern Command. Another listed participant – Roger Noriega – is basically Elliott Abrams-lite. Noriega is a veteran US meddler, with his activities dating back to the notorious Iran-Contras affair. He did not get the notoriety of Abrams and quietly held senior positions within the US administration throughout the years, focusing on Venezuela and coordinating the OAS.

Last October, he urged US President Donald Trump to appoint former Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield to lead the plans for a military invasion. The latter, also known for his involvement into murky meddling schemes against the country, participated in the roundtable as well.

The meeting was also attended by self-styled officials of Guiado’s “government” – public policy advisor Daniel Sierra and ‘ambassador’ to the US Carlos Vecchio. Participation of said “officials” sounds ironic given their previous efforts to advertise Guaido's so-called ‘Plan País’ to reconstruct the country's economy.

When the plan was officially unveiled a month ago, the two have spoken a lot about “reestablishing Venezuela's democracy,” protecting “individual economic rights and freedoms” and ensuring “citizen security.” Given the topic of the CSIS's discussion, the figureheads of Guaido's “government” don't actually mind to bring this ‘prosperity’ to their homeland through a foreign invasion. It should not be surprising, though, since even the Plan País itself was unveiled at the Atlantic Council – the US and NATO funded think tank.

While the closest supporters of Guaido are pushing for foreign intervention, Blumenthal believes that regional partners of the US are quite reluctant to partake in it.

“Any US invasion of Venezuela would be contingent on the consent from the Colombian and Brazilian governments and its very unclear that they’ll get that consent,” Blumenthal said.

“Both governments are extremely worried about increasing the migration crisis, they are deeply worried about destabilizing the entire region and that’s absolutely what this would entail. And they are also worried about a counterattack from the Venezuela military, which is very competent.”

While talking of the “use of military force” in secrecy, the US continues to tempt Venezuelan citizens and officials with promises of lavish aid – which, of course, would only be possible if the legitimate President Nicolas Maduro is ousted. On Saturday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Washington will lead the effort to salvage Venezuela's economy – which it has so far been strangling with sanctions.

“We're going to be working on trying to put together a consortium of about $10 billion of trade finance that would be available for the new government to spark trade,” Mnuchin said.

Also on US leads effort to pump $10bn into Venezuela's shattered trade once Maduro is out...

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Brazil's Bolsonaro angers ally Israel by saying Holocaust can be 'forgiven'

Brazilian right-wing leader Jair Bolsonaro has risked falling out with one of his closest allies over his off-hand "We can forgive, but we cannot forget" remark about the Holocaust after it sparked a fierce backlash in Israel.

The Israeli president, as well as the official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, have pounced on Bolsonaro, taking offense at the Brazilian leader's comments.  

Addressing evangelical leaders on Thursday night in Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro made reference to the Holocaust as an example of a tragedy that must not be forgotten so it would never be repeated.

"We can forgive, but we cannot forget. That quote is mine. Those that forget their past are sentenced not to have a future," he said.

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The remark struck a raw nerve in Israel, with critics zooming in on the first part of the quote.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin accused Bolsonaro of an attempt to "erase" the extermination of Jews in Nazi camps from the public memory.

"No one will order the forgiveness of the Jewish people, and it can never be bought in the name of interests," Rivlin tweeted.

"We will never cooperate with those who deny the truth or try to erase it from memory — not by individuals and groups, not by party leaders and not by heads of state," he said.

Yad Vashem, the Israeli memorial for the victims of the Holocaust, warned Bolsonaro against sailing out of his depth and called on him to stick to present-day politics instead of wading into historical matters.

"Diplomats have the responsibility to shape the future, and historians have the responsibility to describe the past and research history. It is forbidden for one to cross the boundaries of the other," spokeswoman Dana Weiler-Polak said, while noting that it's not up to one person to decide if "the crimes of the Holocaust" warrant forgiveness.

Bolsonaro, who has styled himself as a great friend of Israel, recently opened his country's business office in Jerusalem as "part of its embassy in Israel." While the inauguration of the new diplomatic quarters fell short of Bolsonaro's earlier vow to move the country's embassy to Jerusalem, it was praised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said he hoped it was "a first step" towards the opening of a Brazilian embassy there.

During his four-day trip to Israel, Bolsonaro, dubbed "Tropical Trump" for the uncanny similarities of his views to those of his American counterpart, visited the Yad Vashem memorial.

READ MORE: Nostalgia for coups past? Brazil’s Bolsonaro visits CIA before Trump on first US trip

Bolsonaro is no stranger to controversy, having praised Latin American dictators and told a female political opponent she was "not worthy" of rape. Just days after he returned from Israel, Bolsonaro faced outrage for claiming that Germany's National Socialist Party (the Nazis) was a leftist group, because its name included "socialist."

Netanyahu so far has not commented on the new controversy involving his Brazilian bedfellow. Meanwhile, the Israeli ambassador to Brazil sprung to Bolsonaro's defense, arguing that the Brazilian leader was misunderstood.

"At no point in his speech did the president show disrespect or indifference to Jewish suffering," he said in a Facebook post.

Bolsonaro's comment sent ripples through the Jewish community on Twitter. Some argued that it was up to the victims of the Holocaust to decide whether to forgive the perpetrators.

My mother's family was slaughtered, & she was made a refugee, by fascist Nazis. *I* am among those who may bestow forgiveness or withhold it. Bolsonaro & others who attempt to use the Holocaust to whitewash their own proto-fascism (w/ Bibi's help) are beneath contempt.

"Its perpetrators were rightfully punished and should never be forgiven. Just like the torturers you defend deserve no forgiveness," a commenter wrote, alluding to Bolsonaro's controversial remarks praising military dictators and their methods.

According to Bolsonaro, we "can forgive, but not forget" the holocaust. No, we cannot forgive genocide. It's perpetrators were rightfully punished and should never be forgiven. Just like the torturers you defend deserve no forgiveness.

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Venezuelan ex-spy chief who defected to Guaido arrested on US drug trafficking warrant in Spain

The former chief of Venezuela's military intelligence – and the highest-ranking military officer to defect to the US-backed opposition – has been nabbed in Spain on a US warrant for allegedly trafficking tons of cocaine.

Hugo Carvajal was arrested by Spanish police in Madrid on Friday and faces extradition to the US, where he was indicted in 2014 for allegedly having "coordinated the transportation of approximately 5,600 kilograms of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico." He will testify in a Saturday court appearance as to whether he wishes to fight the extradition, an official with Spain's National Court told the AP. 

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The Venezuelan ex-major general, whose nickname "el Pollo" means "the Chicken," is accused of protecting a Colombian drug kingpin from arrest, allowing him to move about 5,600kg of cocaine in and out of Venezuela, and tipping him off to law enforcement activities. Carvajal allegedly was not only paid off by the kingpin and other members of his organization, but also invested in some of the drug shipments. He is also accused of providing weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

While Carvajal served as chief of military intelligence and counterintelligence under former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, he reportedly began to distance himself from Chavez's successor President Nicolas Maduro after returning to Venezuela in 2014 from Aruba, where he had been briefly detained on the same US warrant, facing extradition until Maduro threatened retaliation against the island.

Carvajal left Maduro's government in 2017, ostensibly in protest over the president's plans to form a constitutional assembly that would reduce the power of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, and declared his allegiance to opposition leader and self-appointed president Juan Guaido in February, blaming Maduro for the "disastrous reality" of Venezuela. Last month, the president expelled Carvajal from the armed forces, accusing him of "acts of treason against the fatherland."

Also on US ‘seriously considering’ military option in Venezuela as Rubio seeks to declare Maduro ‘terrorist’...

Since embracing the US-backed Guaido, Carvajal has called on other members of the Venezuelan military to join the opposition, warning them against becoming "collaborators" of a "dictatorial government that has plagued people with misery" and accusing military leaders of being pawns of Cuba. He also gave a juicy interview with the New York Times, denouncing current and former members of Maduro's government as drug traffickers, FARC and Hezbollah collaborators, and journalist blackmailers while denying his own guilt on the many of the same charges.

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Venezuela Receives Positive Answer from Montevideo Mechanism

Caracas, Apr 9 (Prensa Latina) The Vice-Minister of Communications, William Castillo, described on Tuesday as positive the response of the signatory countries of the Montevideo Agreement to the call of the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, to dialogue without violence.

In statements to the press, the vice-minister of Foreign Affairs recalled that on April 6 the president asked Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay and the member nations of the Caribbean Community to serve as mediators for a peaceful solution to the conflict facing the South American country.

In this regard, Castillo reported that authorities involved responded positively on Monday, in order to accompany on the basis of respect for the principles of sovereignty established in the Venezuelan Constitution, in the resolution of political disputes through negotiation.

On the other hand, he regretted that 'the European Union continues to talk about transition and uses an interfering language when it is only necessary to clarify points inherent in the peace and security of an economic, social and political climate that allows an unconditional dialogue as the Head of State exhorts.

'The Venezuelan government has never stopped talking to the opposition, the will has always materialized in contact, sometimes very formal and sometimes informal,' he said.

In this sense, he affirmed that Maduro maintains the position of exchanging criteria in the first instance with the people, under the premise that true reconciliation depends on justice, reparation for victims of hate crimes, healing of wounds, and 'in this framework of dialogue any agenda can be generated.

In the same vein, Edwin Rojas, member of the national board of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, explained to the press that the Executive proposes five points with all sectors of the country for the beginning of the talks.

He argued that respect for sovereignty and peace, the lifting of unilateral measures, as well as mechanisms to peacefully settle political differences and respect for the non-interference of other governments in the internal affairs of Venezuela, are the guidelines for the exchange.

'We go to dialogue with the Constitution of the Republic, not with norms that are not in the magna carta. The struggle of the Revolution is so that the right to have a political, social model must prevail by democratic, constitutional means, that is the real battle,' concluded Rojas.

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Bolsonaro says Brazil & US focus on creating ‘rift’ within Venezuelan army to oust Maduro

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is not making a secret of his plan to bring down Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, saying in an interview that he and Washington pin their hopes on a military coup instigated from the outside.

Speaking to Jovem Pan radio on Monday, the right-wing Brazilian leader, who has never hidden his deep animosity towards his Venezuelan counterpart, implied that, while not intervening outright, both the US and Brazil are working behind the scenes to lay out the grounds for a military revolt that would bring down Maduro.

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“It is our intention and that of the Americans that there is a rift in the army, because it is they who still support Maduro. It is the armed forces that decide whether a country lives in a democracy or in a dictatorship,” Bolsonaro said, adding that he does not see any future for Venezuela in its present state.

“What you cannot do is to continue as you are,” he said.

READ MORE: Not a back door for US troops: Brazil says it won’t help Venezuela invasion

The US, which was the first to recognize the self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido as the legitimate representative of the Venezuelan people, has been using arm-twisting tactics against Caracas, choking the Venezuelan economy with new debilitating sanctions in a bid to force Maduro out of power. US officials, including US President Donald Trump, have repeatedly claimed that they would keep “all options” on the table, not ruling out a military intervention in the Latin American country.

In an interview on Monday, Bolsonaro appeared to say that he might single-handedly decide if Brazil needs to join a potential US-led military incursion against the Maduro government.

“What can Brazil do? Suppose there is a military invasion there [from the United States]. The decision will be mine, but I will listen to the National Defense Council and then the Parliament,” Bolsonaro pledged.

Back in February, Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão flatly rejected the possibility of Brazil serving as a staging ground for a US invasion. Mourão argued that, for foreign troops to be stationed in Brazil, Bolsonaro would need to receive a green light from the National Congress, which at present is reluctant to back such a militaristic move.

Since coming to power in Janaury, Bolsonaro, dubbed ‘Tropical Trump’ at home, has been cozying up to the US. During Bolsonaro’s recent trip to the country, he and Trump exchanged compliments and football jerseys, while marking the birth of a nascent ‘conservative alliance.’  

Bolsonaro mirrors Trump’s controversial policy in the Middle East, having made advances towards Israel. Late March, Brazil opened a business office in Jerusalem, which has been referred to as part of an embassy. Speaking on Monday, Bolsonaro labeled his country’s relationship with Israel “a marriage.”

“It’s like a marriage: you date, you get engaged, then you’re married, that’s in stages,” while pointing out that the US has gone much further down that road.

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