Nicaragua, ALBA, and Intellectual Betrayal

People in Latin America have frequently found themselves fighting regular forces and mercenary contractors coordinated ultimately by the United States Southern Command, the State Department and related US government bodies. Shortly, they may well find themselves fighting regular forces and mercenary contractors coordinated by NATO.

People in Latin America have frequently found themselves fighting regular forces and mercenary contractors coordinated ultimately by the United States Southern Command, the State Department and related US government bodies. That was true in Central America in the 1980s. It has been the case in Colombia for many years. On a smaller scale it is happening now in Honduras. Shortly, they may well find themselves fighting regular forces and mercenary contractors coordinated by NATO.

2009 marked the transition via a practically seamless continuity in US government foreign policy in Latin America from one gangster US government administration to another. The international intellectual and information-media manager classes have failed to report assertively and adequately the US government’s escalating war on the peoples of Latin America. For overstretched US military forces, anxious to apply pressure to perceived enemies in Latin America, resorting to NATO’s mutual defence Article 5 – as they have in Afghanistan – is an attractive option. With its new military bases in Colombia, the US government can readily provoke an incident as they did fifty years ago in the Tonkin Gulf.

The Venezuelan government recently expressed concern about the intentions of the US government in relation to its bases in the Dutch Antilles- Aruba and Curacao. Holland is a member country of NATO. The well known NATO war games known as Plan Balboa posited unequivocally a joint NATO operation against Venezuela. Despite this, leading US intellectuals like Noam Chomsky dismiss the chances of a US government-led aggression against Venezuela. (1) Their failure of imagination only makes sense in the broad economic, political and propaganda context of the Americas.

US economic context

US domestic economic collapse and stagnation seems increasingly to be provoking a militarist US foreign policy in regions around the world. The domestic economic collapse is very clear. The US economy – still losing many tens of thousands of jobs each month (even official figures acknowledge over 2 million jobs lost since December 2007) – needs 100,000 new jobs a month to maintain employment equilibrium. Unemployment in the US is unlikely to recover from current Depression levels – the U-6 unemployment measure is currently over 17% – until 2015 at the earliest. Ignoring the employment crisis, from July 2007 through 2008, the US authorities – the US government and the Federal Reserve – along with allied governments and their central banks, sought to make good the liquidity problems of their vital private sector partners among the major financial companies by stoking inflation.

They hoped to protect bona fide banks and the so-called shadow banking sector from the imploding real estate bubble. For a while, that strategy shored up failing strategic financial partners – US government supported entities, US Primary Government Securities Dealers and their parent companies (2) as well as the giant, world-wide American Insurance Group (AIG). (AIG on its own has been the beneficiary of over US$127 billion dollars in US government (i.e. taxpayer) support. That is ten times Nicaragua’s annual budget). In the end, the inflationary binge, culminating in July 2008 with oil at US$147, failed to make good the bankrupt US financial sector.

In the subsequent phase of the crisis, from July 2008 until March or April 2009, Western Bloc governments, central banks and major financial institutions coordinated action that helped encourage global investors and speculators to buy more US Treasury bonds instead of stocks and commodities. That deflationary dynamic dramatically strengthened the US dollar on the international currency markets. It rapidly depressed commodity prices and stocks. The abruptness, incredible size and sheer volatility of market movements frightened US legislators into bailing out insolvent financial institutions.

This phase of the crisis involved a massive redistribution of wealth from the majority of taxpayers in the United States to a corrupt plutocrat elite. Once their rescue by government was guaranteed, the elite’s indispensable accomplice institutions – principally the Primary Government Securities Dealers and their parent companies – returned to the international casino of currency, commodity and stock markets, reinforcing their gambling reserves with many billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. By the end of 2009 US banks were paying out record bonuses to staff, while, in the rest of the economy, unemployment, mortgage foreclosures and bankruptcies soared to levels unprecedented in recent history.

Economic crisis : militarist foreign policy

A very strong correlation exists between that blatant domestic intervention by the US authorities to rescue the country’s financial and insurance sector and militarist US government foreign policy. In Colombia, increased direct intervention via seven new US military bases now follows billion-dollar military funding for the US government’s narco-terror ally, President Alvaro Uribe. In Mexico, Felipe Calderon’s usurper government, a few years behind, follows in Uribe’s footsteps. Via Plan Merida, the US government is funding intense militarization of Mexico’s narcotics wars, just as it did in Colombia from the late 1990s onwards.

In Colombia, more than US$5 billion has been spent in recent years so as to deliberately fail to end the “war on drugs”. Narcotics are the economic base of Uribe’s political, army and paramilitary allies. Narcotics profits are also a vital component of the US dominated international financial system. UN Office on Drugs and Crime head, Antonio Costa, has asserted that as much as US$325 billion in narcotics profits helped to fund major international banks through their liquidity crisis in 2008 and 2009. (3) His apparently startling announcement covers up the reality that international off-shore tax-havens routinely channel hundreds of billions of illicit funds every year into the international financial system.

The US has now signed an agreement to install seven military bases for its military forces on unprecedentedly humiliating, quasi-colonial terms for Colombia’s sovereignty. The targets of that military escalation are not Alvaro Uribe’s narcotics allies but the undefeated anti-government Colombian guerrilla movements, the democratically elected governments of Venezuela and Ecuador, and, too, Brazil, the main rival to US regional dominance. The US government is provoking this deliberate regional destabilization in pursuit of political and economic outcomes beneficial to US and allied corporate interests.

In Central America, the United States government effectively facilitated the June 28th military coup against President Manuel Zelaya, subsequently treating Zelaya on equal terms with the coup leaders and deliberately undermining the continental anti-coup-regime consensus. By means of the electoral farce in Honduras of November 29th, the Obama government has sought to legitimize the coup, recovering and securing a base from which to apply pressure against other countries in the region. US government targets for destabilization in Central America are the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, the centre-left government of El Salvador, based on the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front and even the centrist government of Alvaro Colom in Guatemala, a member of the Venezuelan-led Petrocaribe regional cooperation programme.

Of those target countries in South and Central America, Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua are all members of the ALBA economic and development cooperation community. The ALBA countries have made dramatic improvements in terms of capital investment, current account liquidity and social improvements. Nicaragua and Bolivia have eradicated illiteracy in just three years. Throughout the ALBA bloc, greater access to better health care has been prioritised successfully.(4) ALBA’s associated, less comprehensive, Petrocaribe (5) framework provides increased energy security and food security to around 90 million people in over 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

ALBA’s fundamental principles of solidarity and complementarity and the absence of conditionality have resulted in very significant economic and social gains for the bloc’s member countries. For example, Nicaragua’s trade with Venezuela – mostly in agricultural produce – reached over US$110 million in 2009 and is expected to double in 2010. ALBA countries have supplemented relatively modest capital investment from traditional partners in North America, Japan and Europe, with funding from Brazil, China, Russia and India as well as partners like Vietnam and Iran.

For the US and its allies among the Western Bloc countries, the expansion and success of ALBA and Petrocaribe represent two undesirable trends. Political and economic elites in North America and Europe fear and resent the relative decline in their regional influence as Latin America – with ALBA leading the way – develops broader and deeper relations with Western Bloc rivals like China, Russia and Iran. They also fear regional moves towards integration which in practice permit the combination and consolidation of economic and political power by relatively small countries, previously easy to dominate in isolation, but now, united, more ready and able to resist Western Bloc rich-country coercion.

So in Central America, the US is applying heavy pressure on El Salvador’s social democrat President Mauricio Funes who has responded by insisting El Salvador will not join ALBA. Regardless, the FMLN revolutionary political party, with which Funes came to power, is integrating its municipal authorities into ALBA’s programmes. Under US government pressure, Honduras will most likely withdraw from ALBA, despite being unable to afford the dramatic drop in economic resources that move would bring. As part of its anti-ALBA offensive, the US government is readying its regional resources for the Presidential elections scheduled in the region over the next two years

In 2010, presidential elections take place in Costa Rica (February), Colombia (May), Suriname (July) and Brazil (October). In 2011, presidential elections will be held in Haiti (February), Peru (April), Guatemala (August) and Guyana (August), Argentina (October) and Nicaragua (November). The current escalation of US military presence in Colombia and of provocative Colombian military activity along the Venezuelan border is certainly geared towards creating a climate of fear and uncertainty in Latin America and the Caribbean so as to foment unwillingness to cooperate with regional integration initiatives like ALBA.

The obvious beneficiaries of that fear-campaign, demonizing in particular Hugo Chavez and Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution, will be right wing candidates like Laura Chinchilla, the Oscar Arias-clone likely to win the presidential election in Costa Rica and, in Colombia, whoever gets anointed to follow Alvaro Uribe. Uribe may even decide to run for a third presidential term. The elections are obviously crucial battlegrounds for the US government and for Latin American governments – like those of the ALBA countries – and movements, that resist predatory US government policies favouring greedy, corrupt local corporate client elites.

Western Bloc propaganda – the three big lies

Elections in the region occur within the much broader propaganda and perception management theatre of the US government’s war against Latin America’s impoverished majorities. As in any propaganda war, the main themes are very few and are repeated endlessly, regardless of contrary facts. Those main themes are adapted to fit the requirements needed to render plausible US government aggression against countries that resist regional policy in Latin America of the US and its allies. They are:

  1. the US government and its allies promote democracy, stability and economic prosperity

  2. the “war on drugs” requires significant US military presence and large amounts of US aid;

  3. conversely, the governments of President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and of other ALBA bloc countries destabilize the region, are undemocratic, incompetent, corrupt and involved in narcotics and/or terrorism.

These absurd propaganda claims are entirely counterfactual. As in all the most effective propaganda, they are very simple lies, frequently and incessantly repeated via every possible medium. Even a cursory look at the reality of US regional policy in Latin America reveals how throughly mendacious this propaganda really is.

The main US allies in the region are Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Colombia’s government is deeply implicated in both narcotics and in paramilitary mass-murder. Dozens of Alvaro Uribe’s colleagues are either in gaol or facing indictment as the Colombian State struggles to maintain at least the facade of legitimacy. Colombia’s human rights record is among the worst in the world. Paramilitary leaders have openly boasted they have bought over 30% of the deputies in the Colombian legislature. Colombia has over 4 million displaced people, mostly rural families driven from their homes by brutal paramilitary and army campaigns as a result of Colombia’s fifty-year-old civil war. Despite being fabulously wealthy in terms of natural resources, Colombia sits over 20 places below Cuba in the United Nations Human Development Index.

Mexico’s crisis of governance amidst economic chaos and out-of-control narcotics activity deepens month by month. President Felipe Calderon took power via blatant electoral fraud in a political system universally regarded as hopelessly corrupt. Serious human rights abuses occur incessantly throughout the country. Mexico, for all its oil wealth, cannot even provide food security to its people. After well over a decade of membership of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico ranks below Cuba – victim of 50 years of US economic blockade – in the United Nations Human Development Index.

Peru’s President Alan Garcia is another notoriously corrupt leader with questionable legitimacy. The recent massacre of indigenous people during environmental protests at Bagua recalled Garcia’s responsibility for massacres of political prisoners in the 1980s. The Peruvian government deliberately and flagrantly persecutes political opponents, environmental activists and trades unionists. Despite excellent macro-economic numbers, Peru sits 20 places below Cuba in the UN Human Development Index, right down there with Colombia.

So the fundamental propaganda motif – that the US promotes democracy, stability and prosperity in the region – is a complete and blatant lie. If one turns to the narcotics motif, Colombia, Mexico and Peru all have intractable problems with narcotics despite working intimately with the US government agencies charged with combating narcotics production and trafficking. Two countries in the region have greatly improved their record on narcotics interception with negligible or zero help from US government agencies – Nicaragua and Venezuela.

The third propaganda lie is an obvious corollary of first two. Namely, any government or movement opposing the US government in Latin America must be anti-democratic, corrupt and incompetent and involved in narcotics. The facts very obviously and very clearly contradict US government propaganda. Even so, international corporate media religiously and cynically repeat the main US government propaganda motifs on a daily basis. One deceitful constant propaganda motif deployed to demonize ALBA country governments is to accuse them of being accomplices or allies of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) guerrilla movement.

In fact, both President Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro have several times called on the FARC leadership to abandon armed struggle. All the main ALBA country governments have made pronouncements calling for a negotiated peace to end Colombia’s devastating civil war. However, unconditional US support for the narco-terror government of President Alvaro Uribe has made a peaceful settlement in Colombia’s civil war impossible. That further example of US destabilization in Latin America is totally submerged in the saturation calumny by mainstream international corporate media of ALBA country leaders like Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Daniel Ortega and Rafael Correa.

News and intellectual betrayal

Within that regional political and economic context, the role of the intellectual managerial class that dominates information and news media in general has become increasingly confused. Many self-styled progressive people who believed moderate reform, largely accepting existing international political and economic structures, would bring much greater stability and prosperity, have been proved hopelessly wrong. Many such pseudo-progressives – obvious examples are Nicaragua’s Sergio Ramirez and El Salvador’s Joaquin Villalobos – opted for partnership with dominant local elites and now find themselves identified with those elite’s perennial patron – the United States government.

The elites find their political power diminishing but use their class control of local media and their identification with US government policies to dominate media and cultural space both nationally and internationally. Technological change has dramatically transformed the possibilities of information management over the last century. Mass indoctrination and thought control, the shaping of habits of mind on a massive scale, have in practice advanced far beyond the primitive dystopian fantasies of writers like George Orwell in “1984” or Aldous Huxley in “Brave New World”.

As the global reach of media corporations has increased, control of information channels has become tighter and more concentrated. News has become almost indistinguishable from entertainment and is treated with similar criteria of what will sell, what people – especially relatively powerful people – will like. In the Western Bloc countries of North America, Europe and their Pacific allies, almost all general international news is provided by a few agencies – like Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France Press or Spain’s EFE. Competing input from non-Western Bloc news agencies – similar to their Western Bloc counterparts – like China’s Xinhua or Russia’s Novosti, let alone the excellent information available from Cuba’s Prensa Latina, or Venezuela’s ABN, almost never figure in reporting on Latin America by the main Western Bloc media.

Some traditional roles have adapted and evolved along with the new modalities of communication and information made possible by new technology. Anonymous, skewed corporate news agency reports are often reinforced by academic, media and cultural stars. Respected, familiar and well-liked interviewers and newscasters can influence opinion through their demeanour and attitudes in their handling of news as decisively as any material fact. News and information have become more than ever functions of marketing and the ability to form and sustain endless feedback loops defined by consumer taste.

Julien Benda, the writer who most famously used the phrase “le trahison des clercs” (the treason of the intellectuals), originally did so to criticize the involvement of writers and artists in politics. But as George Orwell pointed out, “The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.” And one finds, among writers who sympathised with Julien Benda, individuals like T.S.Eliot whose virulent anti-communism belied his high-minded aspirations. (It makes sense in retrospect that pseudo-progressive writers like Ernesto Cardenal – now a fierce critic of the FSLN in Nicaragua – should have been heavily influenced by writers like T.S.Eliot.)

Another sympathiser with Julien Benda’s “trahison des clercs” motif, Ortega y Gasset, philosopher and educator – Republican civil governor of Madrid in 1936 when the civil war broke out – warned in his essay “The Revolt of the Masses”, “Barbarism is the absence of standards to which appeal can be made.” But what kind of standards is Ortega y Gasset talking about? The obvious question begged is that of the moral philosopher Alastair MacIntyre in the title of his book “Whose Justice? Whose Rationality?”

Varieties of intellectual betrayal

Almost no one now expects writers and cultural figures to stay aloof from politics. Open letters, manifestos and appeals from academics and writers are a common feature of contemporary political life, debate and propaganda, both nationally and internationally. Other much more practical varieties of intellectual betrayal than the idealistic variety identified by Julien Benda characterize debate and argument about contemporary affairs.

The most basic betrayal is to actively lie about events or deliberately misrepresent them by omitting readily available, relevant information. That kind of betrayal is most relevant to academics, who are generally subject to rigorous peer review. News reporters and their editors and publishers may once have aspired to similar high standards of appeal.

Such standards, if they ever existed in practice, have long ago been abandoned. Corporate mergers and acquisitions have concentrated media and Press ownership in a reactionary elite characterized by extremely ruthless solidarity against perceived enemies and critics. The news agencies’ quasi-monopoly of news information combined with consolidation of corporate media ownership has effectively eliminated independent news media in most Western Bloc countries.

Even in the alternative media that proliferate on the Internet, other less obvious elements also affect the kinds of news and opinion that gets published. Class-attitudes and funding considerations definitely affect the news and views that appear. So, for example, if powerful individuals in the neocolonialist Left in Western Bloc countries decide, for example, to publish glib, mendacious attacks on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, then the alternative media they control will do so. Subsequently, they will omit to publish efforts to correct the falsehoods they have propagated.

Supposedly alternative media, like Counterpunch and ZNet, have both done exactly that over the last year or so. The class attitudes fomenting this kind of behaviour turn on who is friends with who, the intellectual managerial networks concerned and, crucially, funding. For most alternative media, as much as for the corporate media, editorial policy is decisively defined by marketing and consumer taste rather than by standards to which one might appeal, as envisaged by Ortega y Gasset.

In practice, many, maybe most, alternative media that depend heavily on donations or subscriptions serve as a kind of “loyal media opposition” validating the status quo. They appear to offer a rigorous, falsifiable standard to which appeal might be made. But often that standard is so heavily rigged as to fall clumsily into Ortega y Gasset’s definition of barbarism.

For the intellectual managerial classes who dominate progressive or pseudo-progressive information media, editorial judgments are frequently made in relation to human rights or environmental criteria. As often as not, these criteria are deployed as pretexts so as not to have to make political identifications which might either jeopardize funding or perhaps other politically motivated repression of one kind or another. Ill-considered political loyalties can easily be dressed up in human rights criteria so as to justify narcissistic, elitist prejudice.

The case of Nicaragua

In the wider Latin American regional context two or three simple lies, constantly repeated, serve to generate an incessant flow of false news reporting and hopelessly inaccurate opinion pieces. The same is true, more specifically, in the case of individual countries. In the case of Nicaragua, two main lies are recycled in both the corporate mainstream media and in Western Bloc neocolonial Left alternative media. They are that President Daniel Ortega rules via a dictatorial, corrupt family clique and that Ortega’s government systematically represses civil and political rights.

All the other false allegations propagated in the international corporate and alternative media against the Nicaraguan government follow from those two big lies. A more specific falsehood, broadcast ever since November 2008, has been that Daniel Ortega’s FSLN government stole Nicaragua’s municipal elections that month. Prior to that particular falsehood, the ground had been well prepared by foreign news media, Western Bloc non-governmental agencies, prominent intellectuals and, needless to say, Western Bloc governments like those of the United States and the European Union. Sweden’s former ambassador to Nicaragua, Eva Zetterberg, for example, was a shameless and zealous detractor of the FSLN government prior to her departure.

In fact, the FSLN’s unprecedented success in those municipal elections was due firstly, to their record of good government at national and municipal level and, secondly, to a vicious power struggle within the opposition Liberal Alliance. None of that reality appeared in most published comment on Nicaragua’s municipal elections. Lie was piled upon lie, systematically omitting inconvenient facts. The instigators of the incessant falsehoods were leading supporters and members of the Nicaraguan opposition, including intellectuals and writers like Dora Maria Tellez, Ernesto Cardenal, Sergio Ramirez and Gioconda Belli – all talented people who decided to promote downright falsehoods for their own political purposes.

One falsehood they put about was that President Daniel Ortega shut down two political parties, including their own, the MRS. But in fact it was the opposition Liberal Alliance politician Wilfredo Navarro, not Ortega, who instigated the administrative procedure that removed legal personality from the two political parties concerned. Leaders of the MRS subsequently supported the Liberal Alliance municipal election campaign. The allegation against Daniel Ortega was a fabrication intended to cover up a squalid manoeuvre clearing the way for an undivided opposition vote, while unjustly smearing the FSLN government at the same time.

Another falsehood the Nicaraguan opposition promoted was that Daniel Ortega arbitrarily set about repressing local non-profits. The much criticised but administratively routine periodic review by Nicaragua’s Ministry of Government of the status of the country’s 4200+ non profits, lead to just one attempt at prosecution, against the CINCO non-profit organization run by oligarch-journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro. The investigation was reported to have discovered that CINCO had received about US$70,000 from a Western Bloc aid agency, OXFAM, that it passed on to a member organization of the opposition MRS political alliance, the Autonomous Women’s Movement (MAM), run by Sofia Montenegro, a CINCO board member.

The public prosecutor’s office dismissed criminal charges against CINCO for lack of evidence, but noted, according to Minister of Government Ana Isabel Morales, that CINCO had channeled other donated aid funds through five private companies owned by relatives of Carlos Fernando Chamorro, whose family dominates Nicaragua’s corporate media. Absolutely none of this crucial background information ever appeared in either the mainstream international corporate media or in the neocolonial Left alternative media to correct their false allegations of arbitrary government repression in Nicaragua.

Just like their corporate media counterparts, alternative news and information outlets published vicious attacks on the FSLN government and then omitted to publish replies containing information discrediting the original falsehoods. In Nicaragua now, the Movimiento Renovador Sandinista political bloc that has promoted all these falsehoods enjoys around 2% support nationally according to a recent poll partially published by Carlos Fernando Chamorro in his Confidencial web site. That level of domestic support is what one might reasonably expect for a minority elite political grouping closely linked to the country’s oligarchy.

The apparently innovative intellectual managerial media process that one sees at work in all the ALBA countries is an infinite feedback disinformation loop. Fake news is fabricated by unrepresentative political cliques and individuals like Carlos Fernando Chamorro and his family, who control major news media in Nicaragua. That fake news is then taken up and distributed by the international corporate media.

The international distribution networks eventually recycle the fake news concoction back to the country it came from and thus reinforce the original fabrication. Neocolonial Left alternative media not infrequently collaborate in that process as was clear in the immediate aftermath of the Honduran military coup. The totally false description of Manuel Zelaya as a leftist populist trying to fix his re-election was almost ubiquitous.

A regional focus

The vanity and dishonesty of the intellectual managerial class who have distorted and suppressed the truth about political and economic affairs in Nicaragua and elsewhere is common in relation to all the ALBA countries targeted by the US government and its allies. The same dishonest and inaccurate reporting and unwillingness to acknowledge US government cynicism and duplicity characterized both mainstream and much alternative media reporting of the coup in Honduras. It took many weeks before either the massive human rights abuses committed by the Honduran coup regime, let alone the self-evident connivance of the US government in ensuring that regime’s survival, became widely acknowledged.

One has come to expect routine downright deceit and distortion from the international corporate mainstream media – for example from CNN or the BBC, from El Pais, Le Monde, the Guardian, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Nor should the timidity and prevarication of the Western Bloc intellectual managerial class faced with the coup in Honduras surprise anyone familiar with that class of people’s misguided support for the deceitful critics of the FSLN government in Nicaragua. Now, as the US government and its Colombian narco-terror allies are setting up the conditions for a serious military provocation against Venezuela, that same intellectual managerial class will very likely again fail to report the facts in a timely, trustworthy, challenging way.

The very same corrupt cynical plutocrat elite that has betrayed the majority of the US people into economic hardship for years to come, now seeks to engineer a foreign policy betrayal dragging the United States into sponsoring disastrous military conflict in Latin America whose outcome no one can foresee. Virtually no one among the Western Bloc intellectual managerial class seems to be alert to that catastrophic development. The mainstream corporate media report increasing Venezuelan militarism – the reverse of the truth, as usual. In the alternative information media, leading figures dismiss pending military conflict, despite forceful expressions of concern by the governments under threat.

The negative effects of the coup in Honduras on US prestige in Latin America will fade away as nothing in comparison with reaction to US militarist aggression against Venezuela. But corporate imperatives and geopolitical gangster logic are likely to prevail. Regional military aggression by the US government and its allies against the ALBA countries seems inevitable. The US and its allied governments in Colombia, Mexico and Peru are, to varying degrees, in crisis. By contrast the ALBA countries have seen off the worst of the international economic crisis and are growing stronger and more confident with every year that passes.

That reality and its wider context have gone effectively unreported in almost all recent writing on Latin America. The perennial campaign of calumny against Cuba continues unmitigated. The corporate media are waiting for orders to open up a new propaganda barrage against Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, against the FSLN government in Nicaragua and the governing FMLN party in El Salvador. The alternative media seem more and more to take their lead from the corporate media agenda, reacting late in the day in an often ambivalent way.

In retrospect, one of the most important ALBA-related initiatives has been the establishment of the communcations and media company Telesur. The coup in Honduras demonstrated Telesur’s value beyond any doubt. Through July 2009, it was virtually the only news media giving something like a full account of the brutality and illegitimacy of the Honduran military coup. That experience categorically vindicated Telesur’s founders. They recognized many years ago that only a regional media initiative run by local managers loyal to their own peoples would ever give a true and fair view of events in Latin America.


[1] Professor Chomsky’s dismissal of the US military threat to Venezuela comes right at the very end of this video of a talk he gave on the US in Latin America at the MIT – http://www.zcommunications.org/zvideo/3313

[2] The complete list of of Primary Government Securities Dealers as of July 27th 2009 was (parent company country in brackets) : BNP Paribas Securities Corp (France); Bank of America Securities LLC (US); Barclays Capital Inc.(UK); Cantor Fitzgerald & Co.(US); Citigroup Global Markets Inc.(US); Credit Suisse Securities LLC (Switzerland); Daiwa Securities America Inc. (Japan); Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.(Germany); Goldman, Sachs & Co. (US); HSBC Securities Inc.(UK); Jefferies & Company, Inc.(US); J. P. Morgan Securities Inc.(US); Mizuho Securities USA Inc.(Japan); Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated (US); Nomura Securities International, Inc.(Japan); RBC Capital Markets Corporation (Canada); RBS Securities Inc.(UK); UBS Securities LLC.(Swizterland)

[3] “Drug money saved banks in global crisis, claims UN advisor”, Guardian (UK), December 14th 2009

[4] The ALBA countries are : Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Venezuela.

[5] The Petrocaribe Countries are : Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Guatemala, Guyana, Nicaragua, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, Venezuela.