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Jan. 7th, 2016

Random Notes from Nicaragua - Border Bottle-neck

There doesn’t seem to be much being said or done in my home country about the 10,000 or so Cubans stranded in Costa Rica and Panama who are about to start heading for the United States. With the notion spreading that the US-Cuba détente might mean the repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act, those eager to put a dry foot on US soil started, a little over a year ago, a small-scale exodus from the island.

Avoiding the dangerous sea-crossing to Florida, would-be emigrants would fly to Ecuador, which didn’t require of Cubans a visa. From there, human-smugglers would, for from $7,000 to $10,000 each, get them to the Rio Grande. But, in November, Costa Rican authorities busted several rings of such coyotes, leaving themselves with some 1,900 undocumented Cubans on their hands.

After a week they issued them 7-day “transit visas” and dumped them at their northern border. Nicaraguan authorities refused to let in the Cubans – none of whom had entry visas. When they tried to tear down the chain-link fence marking the border, the army was called out to stop them. For the next several weeks thousands of islanders continued to pour into Costa Rica, only to be stopped at the northern bottleneck. Currently, about 8,000 Cubans are stranded there. Close to another 2,000 are stuck in Panama (Costa Rica finally closed its border to them). The “flood” ended in mid-December when Ecuador started requiring visas for Cubans.

Cuba says that since these citizens left the country legally, it would only accept back those who come voluntarily. There doesn’t seem to have been any takers on that. El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico all backed Nicaragua’s call for the US to take responsibility for the mess – which, of course, it hasn’t.

Now there’s a “pilot project.” January 12th 180 Cubans will board a plane for El Salvador where they’ll get on buses that will take them, via Guatemala, to Mexico and then to Laredo, Texas, where they’ll be welcomed with open arms. Ironically, just yesterday a planeload of the first deportees, victims of the Obama administration’s “round-up” of Central American families, women with children and unaccompanied children who’ve been streaming to the US for refuge in past months, touched down in Honduras.

If the “pilot” goes smoothly, the plan is to get all the Cubans to the US border the same way. How long that will take is anyone’s guess. It’s interesting that the anti-immigrant crowd in the field of presidential candidates, particularly the two Cuban-Americans, have kept quiet about this.

Sep. 11th, 2015

Random Notes from Nicaragua - Love, soup and chikungunya

So there I was recovering nicely from a bout with osteoarthritis that I thought at one point might cripple me. The doctor had reduced my meds from nine a day to four – with no need for painkillers. The umbrella I had carried as a “back-up” cane had not been out of the house for nearly a week. In a month, the doctor said, I would go for another ultrasound to see if my liver and kidney problems were clearing up – which he expected, based on blood and urine tests – would be the case. I was feeling better than I had for I don’t know how long.

As they say: when you least expect it…. chikungunya! It’s as ugly as it sounds – a mosquito-borne disease that’s been ravaging the Caribbean, southern Mexico and Central America for two or three years. It finally got around to ravaging me.

Its principal symptoms are fever and muscle and joint pain. I don’t recall if I was feverish – I was in too much pain. Actually, the word “pain” doesn’t do justice to what I felt. Never felt anything like it before; never (please, god) want to feel it again. My whole body hurt. I mean even my fingers were hurting.  Gimme arthritis any day (okay, just a figure of speech, god).

And it so happened at the time that my usual support network was down. The handful of people I see or at least talk to on a daily or near daily basis were busy – a wake and funeral, a two-day after-work seminar, and other stuff like that. Luckily, I had some painkillers left. Whimpering, walking somewhat like a chimpanzee I got to the pills on the table and got a bottle of water out of the refrigerator. I took three pills, the ones that before, for arthritis pain, I used to take a half of one every twelve hours.

About fourteen hours later I woke up – it was about 11 am. A woman I’d dated recently sent me a text: Hola amor que tal? “Hello love how are you? (The way people text here though it showed like this: Hla amr qtal.) I called her and told her I was dying.

She brought me soup. Nicaraguan homemade chicken soup – big pieces of chicken, bone and all, chayote (a kind of squash), potato, plantain, and so on – really is good for what ails you. Thank you, Anita.

After she left, the pain of course was still there. Another knuckle-aided walk for more pills, then bed until the next morning. I got a call from Heyling (it’s pronounced like Hayley). I told her of my sorry state. She said she’d bring me soup. A couple hours later, she texted me saying she’d be arriving soon and no te site con la Ana para evitar problema. She was telling not to make any arrangements with Anita to avoid problems.

There’s a funny story (in a sick kind of way) behind that. They work together, waitresses at the same place. I went out with one for a while, then stopped, and started going out with the other one. Then I started seeing the first one again. And yes, while still seeing the second one. And no, it didn’t work out.

How the three of us survived it not working out I’ll tell some other time. Don’t ask how, but I’m seeing both of them again. Heyling seems aware that this is now a three-cornered match. I’m leery of asking Anita (she was the one that got crazy before). What matters now is that I survived chikungunya. And they helped me through it. How can I turn my back on either?

Aug. 7th, 2015

Random Notes from Nicaragua

Two-and-a-half years here and not a peep out of me on this blog, or virtually anywhere else! I've got lots of excuses but no real reasons. I'll just say that my time here has been bookended by, first, a knock-down, dragout, nearly two-year long fight for residency - something that caught me completely by surprise, given my support, dating to the '70s,for the Sandinistas. It got to the point of a lawsuit that reached the docket of the Supreme Court when, finally, a politically brokered settlement got me the equivalent of a green card.

The other bookend came in the form of health issues. One morning in May, as I got out of bed, I felt a searing flash of intense pain in my lower back. When I walked (which was a good while after falling back in bed) my legs hurt, in the area of the hamstring. But it went away for a while. My usual response to various aches and pains over the years - ignore it till goes away - seemed to be working.

Until the problem refused to go away. The pain came and went - with it coming more and more often, and not going away very soon. It was getting harder and harder to walk. Soon, it became impossible, without the support of a wall, handrail, light pole or friendly shoulder.

So I got a cane, and went to a doctor. A sonogram of my lower back and abdominal area showed arthritis at the lower end of my spine. There was a potential kidney stone building up. And my liver was showing some wear and tear. Then there was (for the first time) high blood pressure - hypertension stage one.

I take my meds (which are decreasing), exercise and watch what I eat. In the house I don't need the cane, but outside I still carry a rolled-up umbrella - the streets and what pass for sidewalks here are in awful shape. Two weeks ago the doctor pronounced my blood pressure as "perfect"

Alcohol is prohibido, of course. I quit it in late May (even before going to a doctor I knew it wasn't doing me any good); and funny, it's no big deal. No cravings, no sweats or shakes (if you had been drinking like I was for the last year and a half, you'd be surprised, too). If it weren't for the more than occasional back and leg pain I feel better (excuse the cliche) than ever. I now know what "alcoholic fog" means. Hell, I thought I was coming down with Alzheimers!

The doctor says I should be fine in another month. He even says I could go back to drinking! That will be an interesting decision on my part, won't it?

Apr. 16th, 2013

Trotsky on Abortion Rights

Trotsky: ‘Abortion is key civic, political, cultural right of women’
(Books of the Month column)

Below is an excerpt from Problems of Everyday Life, one of Pathfinder’s Books of the Month for April. The book by Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky includes articles on social and cultural issues facing the toilers in the Soviet Union coming out of the first successful proletarian revolution, which took place in Russia in October 1917. The excerpt is from a piece Trotsky wrote in 1936, seven years after he was exiled by a bureaucratic caste led by Josef Stalin that had usurped political power and reversed the gains of the revolution. Copyright ©1973 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.

The October Revolution honestly fulfilled its obligations in relation to woman. The young government not only gave her all political and legal rights in equality with man, but, what is more important, did all that it could, and in any case incomparably more than any other government ever did, actually to secure her access to all forms of economic and cultural work. However, the boldest revolution, like the “all-powerful” British Parliament, cannot convert a woman into a man—or rather cannot divide equally between them the burden of pregnancy, birth, nursing, and the rearing of children.

The revolution made a heroic effort to destroy the so-called family hearth—that archaic, stuffy, and stagnant institution in which the woman of the toiling classes performs galley labor from childhood to death. The place of the family as a shut-in petty enterprise was to be occupied, according to the plans, by a finished system of social care and accommodation: maternity houses, child-care centers, kindergartens, schools, social dining rooms, social laundries, first-aid stations, hospitals, sanatoria, athletic organizations, moving-picture theaters, etc. The complete absorption of the housekeeping functions of the family by institutions of the socialist society, uniting all generations in solidarity and mutual aid, was to bring to woman, and thereby to the loving couple, a real liberation from the thousand-year-old fetters.

Up to now this problem of problems has not been solved. The forty million Soviet families remain in their overwhelming majority nests of medievalism, female slavery and hysteria, daily humiliation of children, feminine and childish superstition. We must permit ourselves no illusions on this account. For that very reason, the consecutive changes in the approach to the problem of the family in the Soviet Union best of all characterize the actual nature of Soviet society and the evolution of its ruling stratum. …

The mass homelessness of children is undoubtedly the most unmistakable and most tragic symptom of the difficult situation of the mother. On this subject even the optimistic Pravda is sometimes compelled to make a bitter confession: “The birth of a child is for many women a serious menace to their position.” It is just for this reason that the revolutionary power gave women the right to abortion, which in conditions of want and family distress, whatever may be said upon this subject by the eunuchs and old maids of both sexes, is one of her most important civil, political, and cultural rights. However, this right of women too, gloomy enough in itself, is under the existing social inequality being converted into a privilege. …

Having revealed its inability to serve women who are compelled to resort to abortion with the necessary medical aid and sanitation, the state makes a sharp change of course and takes the road of prohibition. And just as in other situations, the bureaucracy makes a virtue of necessity. One of the members of the highest Soviet court, Soltz, a specialist on matrimonial questions, bases the forthcoming prohibition of abortion on the fact that in a socialist society where there are no unemployed, etc., etc., a woman has no right to decline “the joys of motherhood.” The philosophy of a priest endowed also with the powers of a gendarme. We just heard from the central organ of the ruling party that the birth of a child is for many women, and it would be truer to say for the overwhelming majority, “a menace to their position.” We just heard from the highest Soviet institution that “the liquidation of homeless and uncared-for children is being weakly carried out,” which undoubtedly means a new increase of homelessness. But here the highest Soviet judge informs us that in a country where “life is happy” abortion should be punished with imprisonment just exactly as in capitalist countries where life is grievous. …

The lyric, academic, and other “friends of the Soviet Union” have eyes in order to see nothing. The marriage and family laws established by the October Revolution, once the object of its legitimate pride, are being made over and mutilated by vast borrowings from the law treasuries of the bourgeois countries. And as though on purpose to stamp treachery with ridicule, the same arguments which were earlier advanced in favor of unconditional freedom of divorce and abortion— “the liberation of women,” “defense of the rights of personality,” “protection of motherhood”—are repeated now in favor of their limitation and complete prohibition. …

How man enslaved woman, how the exploiter subjected them both, how the toilers have attempted at the price of blood to free themselves from slavery and have only exchanged one chain for another—history tells us much about all this. In essence, it tells us nothing else. But how in reality to free the child, the woman, and the human being? For that we have as yet no reliable models. All past historical experience, wholly negative, demands of the toilers at least and first of all an implacable distrust of all privileged and uncontrolled guardians.

Mar. 20th, 2013

Fighting Ghosts

The tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq has been duly noted in the news media. Despite inescapable reference to Washington’s lies about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs and his ties to al-Qaida, the deaths of at least half a million Iraqis and thousands of US soldiers, the hundreds of billions of dollars wasted, and the lack of resolution to the conflict there, nobody in the mainstream media that I’ve come across has come out and said the whole damn thing was wrong from the start.

Jesus! What does it take?

This was all foreseen. It was foreseen a year and a half before the invasion took place. George W. Bush had given a speech to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 20, 2001, announcing “Operation Infinite Freedom” (later renamed Operation Enduring Freedom). That was the invasion of Afghanistan, where US GIs are still killing and being killed, and where US drones scavenge the mountainsides and valleys, and those of northern Pakistan, for victims.

In a speech a few weeks later, Fidel Castro denounced terrorism as “a dangerous and ethically indefensible phenomenon,” acknowledging “the human and psychological damage inflicted” on us here “by the sudden and shocking deaths of thousands of innocent people.”

“But who benefitted?” he asked, then answered his own question: “the most backward and right-wing forces….” The tragedy was “used to recklessly start a war that could in reality unleash an infinite massacre of people who are also innocent.” I think people in Afghanistan and Iraq would agree that Fidel saw what was coming.

But it was the threatening imperial arrogance of Bush that Fidel keyed on. He quoted eight of the US president’s statements, and then summarized them:

“Either you are with us or you are with terrorism. No nation of the world has been excluded from the dilemma, not even the big and powerful states; none has escaped the threat of war and attacks.

“We will use any weapon. No procedure has been excluded, regardless of ethical consideration [how’s that for anticipation? Back then did you envision torture, black sites, targeted assassinations and drones?], regardless of the threat however fatal it may be – nuclear, chemical, biological or any other.

“It will not be a short battle but a lengthy war, lasting many years, unparalleled in history.

“It is the world’s fight; it is civilization’s fight.

“The achievements of our times, and the hope of all times, now depends on us.

“Finally, an unheard-of confession in a political speech on the eve of war, and no less than in times of apocalyptic risks: We do not know the course of this conflict, but its outcome is certain. And we know that God is not neutral.”

Contemplating the “bizarre holy war” about to begin, Fidel said he wondered which side showed more “fanaticism.” Admitting that “the possibilities are remote,” he called for averting “a war of unforeseeable consequences whose very authors have confessed not to have the slightest idea” of its outcome.

Then, in words that should come back to haunt anyone who ever backed, much less led, this country into Afghanistan and Iraq, he issued not a warning but simply a wise caution:

“Some objective and calm friend should advise the US government against throwing young US soldiers into an uncertain war in remote, isolated and inaccessible places, like a fight against ghosts, not knowing where they are or even if they exist or not. Or whether the people they kill are or are not responsible for the deaths of their innocent fellow countrymen killed in the United States.”

Here’s the speech:


Feb. 27th, 2013


I finally pulled the trigger.

Just bought my ticket to Nicaragua. A one-way ticket.

One month from today, March 28, I leave the US of A for good, or ill, whatever…. It’s about time. For years I’ve been telling people that when I retired I would move to Nicaragua where the weather is nice and the people nicer (and where a dollar goes ten times farther than here).

It’s taken more than three years since CosmoDemonic Telecom (aka Verizon) cut me loose to shake from my feet the dust of the unhappy and dangerously unbalanced country of my birth, but that just makes it sweeter.

Okay, it’s bittersweet. There are some people I’ll miss – my boys, of course, but they’re 26 and 20 and I’m pretty much peripheral to what they do now. Besides them I really am not closely connected to anyone anymore – maybe over the last couple of years I’ve been subconsciously cutting the ties….

Anyway, now it’s just facing the decision of what I’m taking and what I’m leaving. Jesus! My books and records (yes, the old 12-inch vinyl LPs) surely weigh at least a ton.


Feb. 11th, 2013

"...the Bible tells me so."

News stories of the coming resignation of Pope Benedict XVI refer to his past calling as a theologian. Attached below is a chronicle by a scholar who, early in his academic career, felt the fangs of “God’s Rottweiler.” In 1972 the then-Father Josef Ratzinger, a professor of theology at the University of Tuebingen in Germany, attempted – and almost succeeded – to put kaput to Thomas L. Thompson’s pursuit of a Ph. D.

Since Thompson’s piece was written for the rather specialized audience of Biblical scholars, a little background may be helpful. He was a pioneer among such scholars who have been labeled (by their opponents) as “minimalists.” The term stems from how much of the Bible Thompson and his co-thinkers consider reliable as history (obviously, from the label, not much).

As an “armchair archaeologist/historian” over the last twenty-some years, I became fascinated with the discussion, which, by the way, can get very down-and-dirty – otherwise meek-and-mild academics can really rock that ivory tower when they think no one else is paying attention. Of course, I’ve taken a side – that of the so-called minimalists (who are not “monolithic” – nor are their opposite number, the “maximalists”).

Thompson’s crime was to the challenge the historical factuality of the Genesis narratives concerning the Patriarchs (Abraham, Jacob, etc.). His research showed that the accounts, which had been held to date from 1600 BCE, could not have originated earlier than the 5th century BCE. The offense stems from introducing the notion of myth into our understanding of the Bible, a book that for many in our ever-changing modern world simply must represent some things eternal and true.

I refer not to the Bible-thumping, “every-word-is-literally-true” brand of idiot (usually concealing a reactionary political agenda under devotion to the Good Book). The “maximalist” scholars don’t fall under that heading. Rather than literal truth, they seek historical and archaeological concurrences with Biblical narratives, not as proof that any given story is “true,” but that there was some sort of basis in reality for it. The reason they do it has nothing to do with the study of the Bible from the point of view of history, archaeology or literature. It has everything to do with a deep-seated cultural need to see human history – at least Western human history – as the unfolding of a bigger, grander plan.

You’ve probably heard that the Bible is the most important book of all time. It’s the basis of Western Civilization. And of morality. Our Judeo-Christian principles. Etc., etc., etc. Forget all that. The Bible is what people want it to be. Right now, it’s about gay marriage. In the ‘50s the issue was divorce. If you had been alive in this country in the time from the 1830s to the Civil War, the Bible would have been important to you for how it supported your position on slavery.

Once that war was over, though, and slavery a thing of the past, nobody cared what the Bible said about it. The Bible doesn’t tell us what to do. We tell it what to say.



Jan. 26th, 2013


Sports, somebody once said, is the “toy department of life.” While true for us fans who spend too much time and money following these “trivial pursuits,” it certainly doesn’t apply to the people who actually “play the game.” Case in point: Lance Armstrong. His career finished, his reputation destroyed, and his charitable foundation threatened, he’s looking at a series of possible lawsuits that could cost him tens of millions of dollars he was paid for various endorsements. All due to a doping scandal.


His only defense – if we can call it that – is that everybody else was doing it. “Level playing field” and all that. Of course, it’s true that just about every other top bicycle racer seems to be similarly guilty. Chalk it up, Armstrong seems to be saying, to his “competitive urge.” Let’s look at that.


Competition has roots deep in our biological inheritance. It was the motive force in the formation of humanity: competition for the means of life with other animals forced certain bipeds to band together, their cooperation leading to abstract thought, speech and society. Within the first human bands, though, competition had to be controlled. Primarily, the establishment of kinship and courtship rules dampened the traditional competition – violent and sometimes fatal – between mammalian males for access to females. In this way violence was directed outside the group.


Sports are a product of the transference of that primordial competition to more peaceful pursuits. Trouble is, our present form of social organization distorts and deforms our inherent urge to compete. The notion of being the best has become confused with that of being the best paid. In a society characterized by its deep divisions and enormous inequalities, the pursuit of happiness – and the income security needed for it – is easily overlaid with greed, envy and the pursuit of privilege.


You have to wonder, what’s worse for someone like Lance Armstrong: the humiliation of exposure as a liar and cheat, or, the prospect of being poor.  

Jan. 21st, 2013

Inequality and Capitalism


Joseph Stiglitz is a Nobel Prize-winning economist. Critical of both the Obama and Bush administrations’ bailouts of banks and other financial institutions, he says “inequality” – the growing gap between the incomes of the “one percent” and the rest of us – is the main obstacle to economic recovery.

In the above article he states, “Our legal framework and the way we enforce it has provided more scope here for abuses by the financial sector; for perverse compensation for chief executives; for monopolies’ ability to take unjust advantage of their concentrated power.” As you might guess, Stiglitz is popular in the Occupy movement and the left-liberal wing of the Democratic Party. However, that article contained only one specific proposal by the well-known Keynesian: stimulus in the form of “rebuilding the economy from the bottom up” by enabling “homeowners who were ‘underwater’ — those who owe more money on their homes than the homes are worth — to get a fresh start, by writing down principal, in exchange for giving banks a share of the gains if and when home prices recovered.”

Hardly a clarion call to class struggle! As to feasibility, the italicized phrase would be the operative one for any rational banker. The fact is, the difference between liberals like Stiglitz (and Paul Krugman and George Soros) and “supply-side” economists of the “Milton Friedman School” is not very great. The former favor stimulus of consumer spending while the latter call for lowering production costs (in the form of breaks on taxes and environmental and health regulations, and lower wages). Both are aimed at “encouraging” capitalists to invest in expanded production.

While supply-side economics predominated when the current crisis hit, there’s no reason to believe the other approach will get us out of it. The crisis is not a product of greed and political blindness, but is rooted in a structural crisis of capital. Political corruption and corporate greed are not the cause but the consequence of that crisis. And this structural crisis is not, as the conservatives claim, simply a matter of debt levels; it’s a crisis of profitability.

Growth (technically, renewed capital accumulation) occurs primarily through productive consumption—by capital consuming an increasing share of the social wealth. This drives not only the capitalists’ luxurious life-styles but their investment in new production – and jobs. The only source of value (wealth) and profit, however, is living labor. And as technological advances increase productivity, the share of living labor relative to capital declines, taking the rate of profit down with it. It’s been going down since the mid-1970s.

When profit rates decline capital responds by trying to shift more value from labor to itself, in order to obtain the monetary wealth needed to fuel production. The redistribution of the elements of production (labor power, means of production, and profit) that has taken place over the last few years is the source of the enormous growth in income inequality Stiglitz refers to in his article.

In other words, what’s known as the “post-industrial economy”—the replacement of living labor at the point of production by labor saving devices—is precisely what is responsible for the present structural crisis of capital. It also explains the growth of a service-economy and a public sector in this country. And, since capitalism is continuously driven to reduce the proportion of living labor to capital, it also explains why workers in that sector have also come under attack. In states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio public employees have lost most of their collective bargaining rights as the state governments deal with their own “crisis of over-employment,” by reducing those workers’ numbers, wages and benefits.

Since the 2008 financial meltdown, the trajectory of capital (not just here but globally) is one of cutting wages and benefits, laying off masses of workers, gutting social services, and generally forcing a decline in the overall standard of living: the concrete effects of the abstract notion of “redistributing value from labor to capital.” This response to the crisis is no mere temporary measure. Nor is it the approach of only one wing or section of the political establishment. It is the approach of all of the major political parties and personalities associated with the system.

In capitalism the only true stimulus to production is profit. Since profit grows by inverse proportion to wages (read: living standards), continued lowered expectations on the part of the “99%” is capitalism’s prescription for what ails us. To think that the cure advocated by Joseph Stiglitz will be attempted is utopian.

Jan. 13th, 2013

(no subject)

Hugo Chavez: Why Does He Hate Us?

By Peter Hart – Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), January 12th 2013

If there's one thing media want you know about Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, it's that he doesn't like the United States. On the PBS Newshour Ray Suarez told viewers that Chavez:

        "he antagonized Wahington, it seemed, whenever he could, forging friendships with Iran's Mahmoud Abbas [Ahmadinejad?], Syria's
        embattled Bashar al-Assad, and he formed an especially closebond with Cuban presidents Fidel and Raul Castro."

While it's hard to say Chavez has made a "career" out of U.S.-bashing–he does have, after all, a full-time job as president of Venezuela–you, too, might be excused for harboring some hard feelings towards a government that helped to try to overthrow your own. Which may be why U.S. reports rarely bring up the 2002 coup attempt – and when they do, treat Washington's involvement in it as another nutty Chavez conspiracy theory.

Here's Juan Forero in the Washington Post (1/10/13):

A central ideological pillar of Chavez's rule over 14 years has been to oppose Republican and Democratic administrations in Washington, which he accuses of trying to destabilize his government.

"I think they really believe it, that we are out there at some level to do them ill," said Charles Shapiro, president of the Institute of the Americas, a think tank in San Diego.

As ambassador to Venezuela from 2002 to 2004, Shapiro met with Chavez and other high- ranking officials, including [Vice President Nicolas] Maduro. But the relationship began to fall apart, with Chavez accusing the United States of supporting a coup that briefly ousted him from power. U.S. officials have long denied the charge.

Shapiro recalled how Maduro made what he called unsubstantiated accusations about CIA activity in Venezuela, without ever approaching the embassy with a complaint. He said that as time went by, the United States became a useful foil for Chavez and most Venezuelan officials withdrew contact.

"A sure way to ruin your career, to become a backbencher, was to become too friendly with the U.S. Embassy," Shapiro said.”

So Venezuela has a strange political culture where being friendly with the U.S. government gets you in trouble.

The Post airs Chavez's charge–and then the U.S. denial. But the United States had all sorts of contact with the coup plotters before they made their move against Chavez in 2002. According to the State Department (7/02):

It is clear that NED [National Endowment for Democracy], Department of Defense (DOD) and other U.S. assistance programs provided training, institution building and other support to individuals and organizations understood to be actively involved in the brief ouster of the Chavez government.

And the CIA, as was reported by Forero himself (New York Times, 12/3/04), knew of the coup plotting.

“The Central Intelligence Agency was aware that dissident military officers and opposition figures in Venezuela were planning a coup against President Hugo Chávez in 2002, newly declassified intelligence documents show. But immediately after the overthrow, the Bush administration blamed Mr. Chávez, a left-leaning populist, for his own downfall and denied knowing about the threats.”

Scott Wilson, who was the Washington Post foreign editor at the time, told Oliver Stone for his film South of the Border:

“Yes, the United States was hosting people involved in the coup before it happened. There was involvement of U.S.-sponsored NGOs in training some of the people that were involved in the coup. And in the immediate aftermath of the coup, the United States government said that it was a resignation, not a coup, effectively recognizing the government that took office very briefly until President Chavez returned.”

And we know that the United States made quick efforts to have the coup government recognized as legitimate. The Bush government, immediately after the coup, blamed it on Chavez. And some of the coup plotters met with officials at the U.S. embassy in Caracas before they acted.

But the important thing for readers to know, according to Wilson's successors at the Washington Post, is that U.S. officials deny they supported anything.

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