Who said crime doesn't pay? Read on.
The Washington-based Cato Institute is all about
"Individual Liberty, Free Markets, and Peace," or so says its web site.
It's been around since 1977 preaching limited government and free
market religion with plenty of high-octane corporate funding for
backing. It better have it for the award it presented on May 15. It was
to a 23 year old fifth year Venezuelan law student at Universidad
Catolica Andres Bello. Yon Goicoechea was the fourth recipient of the
"Milton Friedman Liberty Prize" in the amount of $500,000. For what?
What else. For serving the interests of capital back home and leading
Goicoechea is leader of Venezuela's "pro-democracy
student movement" that in Cato's words "prevented Hugo Chavez's regime
from seizing broad dictatorial powers in December 2007." The reference
is to the narrow defeat of Venezuela's reform referendum last December.
Goicoechea led student-organized street violence against Venezuela's
democracy, but don't look for Cato to say that.
It played up Goicoechea's "pivotal role in
organizing and voicing opposition to the erosion of human and civil
rights in his country (that) would have concentrated unprecendented
political and economic power in the hands of the government." Instead,
he chooses "tolerance" and the "human right to seek prosperity." He's
been active since student and other opposition emerged against the
Chavez government's refusal (with ample justification) to renew RCTV's
VHF operating license last May.
Then, and in the run-up to last December's
referendum, Cato says he stood down "ongoing death threats and
continual intimidation due to his prominent and vocal leadership." He's
been "indispensable in organizing massive, peaceful protest marches
that have captured the world's attention." In fact, there were no death
threats but plenty of hard right intimidation targeting Chavistas with
tools like Goicoechea a part of it.
Cato founder and president Edward Crane said "We
hope the Friedman Prize will help further his non-violent advocacy for
basic freedoms in an increasingly militaristic and anti-democratic
Venezuela." Far right novelist Mario Vargas Llosa added that "freedom
is disappearing" in Venezuela, and "Goicoechea is a symbol of (a)
democratic reaction when (it's) threatened."
Goicoechea received his award at a $500 a plate
dinner at New York's Waldorf Astoria. Prominent corporate and
government types attended, all representing far right interests. None
explain how Bolivarianism works, its participatory democracy, its
commitment to Venezuela's people, or how it's lifted millions in the
country out of desperate poverty. Nor is there comment on a model
process, impressive social reforms, supremely democratic elections, or
Hugo Chavez's immense popularity. An April 24 - May 2 Venezuela Data
Analysis Institute (IVAD) poll puts him at 68.8%. That compares to
comparable George Bush ones with some of the lowest ratings ever for a
No discussion either of how student opposition is
funded or for what purpose. That their money comes from US agencies
like the misnamed National Endowment for Democracy, USAID, the
International Republican Institute, and other pro-business US and
international agencies and organizations. CIA's part of it, too.
Highlighted are Goicoechea's plans with the money -
to challenge Bolivarianism back home and work to subvert it. With those
ideas and Cato's backing, he's sure to remain a hard right favorite.
He'll also be busy and well-compensated - for more destabilization
against the most democratic government in the hemisphere. That's what
Goicoecheas are for - to sabotage democracy, subvert equity and
justice, topple populist governments, and make Venezuela "friendlier"
Goicoechea now heads home fully briefed for his
role, but don't expect Cato to explain it. It's to support capital's
divine right, privilege over beneficial social change, and the rights
of the few over the many. It's to mobilize indignation against a leader
who works for all Venezuelans, especially those in greatest need. Who
uses his country's oil wealth for his people, not elitist business
interests. For having a Constitution that mandates it. For gaining
overwhelming popular support and becoming a hero to millions. For
wanting others to share in what Venezuelans have. For believing all
people matter, not just the privileged. For becoming the greatest of
all threats to the empire (and Cato) determined to stop him. For
failing so far. For seeing him gain strength and stature. For securing
grassroots allies everywhere. For needing many Goicoecheas to oppose
him, but not nearly enough to prevail.
His "non-violent advocacy" and "peaceful" protesting
went like this - promoting class warfare; wanting Chavez toppled; and
following CIA diktats to:
-- "take to the streets; protest with violent
disruptive actions across the nation; create a climate of
ungovernability; provoke a general uprising; isolate Chavez"
internationally; destabilize the government; disrupt the constitutional
process; sustain aggressive agitprop; build unity among the opposition;
and end Chavismo and Bolivarianism so capital can get back in control.
Last year, Goicoechea responded by engaging in
violent street clashes; targeting pro-Chavez students, police and the
National Guard; smashing windows; turning over and setting cars alight;
starting other fires; burning tires; throwing rocks and bottles;
engaging in a shootout at Caracas' Central University; seeing
Venezuela's business media report "peaceful, civic and democratic"
students were attacked without provocation; and getting full US (and
Cato) backing for all of the above.
Like others of his class, Goicoechea enjoys
privilege and wants to keep it. He's also unwilling to share it, and he
puts it this way: "We have to fight for our future, for our rights,"
and you know whose he means. "If we don't fight for our freedoms, we
won't be able to take part in a democratic Venezuela in the future." He
means democracy for the few like in pre-Chavez days.
Gabriela Calderon shares that view as editor of
ElCato.org, Cato's Spanish language website. She's young,
well-educated, anti-Chavez, and also against Bolivarianism's spread to
her native country of Ecuador. Cato says she's a "frontline" warrior in
"the struggle against Hugo Chavez's '21st century socialism,' which is
threatening to engulf all of Latin America." She, in turn, calls
populists like Chavez and Ecuador's President Raphael Correa "the
reactionary right" for in Cato's words: "pushing for greater state
control over the economy and people's lives. By contrast, she - and
ElCato.org - advocates for individual freedom." That means privatizing
everything, favoring property over people, privilege over the needy,
crowding out dissent, and getting well-rewarded for supporting all of
These are imperial interests. Youths like Goicoechea
and Calderon are its tools, and organizations like Cato are front and
center supporting them. It's bankrolled by business, given clear
marching orders, and they're full of high-octane markets uber alles
religion. But in the spirit of "Individual Liberty, Free Markets, and
Peace." Orwell would approve.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected].
Also visit his blog site at
sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on
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