All posts by AlmudenaSeeder

Experienced International Professional. I always liked the Foreign Affairs. At some moment, after a long professional life in Corporate business, I decided to re-invent myself and starting my career in the battle of the opinions. I have the specialisation in International Relations, International Politics, International Law and Governance. Although I am originally from Madrid, Spain, I have decide to write my blog in English as I live in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The Catalan post-truth

 

It seems like Catalonia wants to separate from the rest of Spain. However, at the time of the Catholic Monarchs, Catalonia only wanted to be as close as possible to Spain. Without that union, Catalonia would not have become what it is today. The Emperor Charles V, when he first arrived in Barcelona, was very surprise by the magnitude of the applause, the Catalans saw in him the great hope, the great king. This is not reflected, of course, in the history books of the Catalan region: the point of Jean François Revel (1989) makes a lot of sense here: “The first the forces running the world is the lie.”

 Today and already for the last years, Catalonia is the most serious issue which Spain has raised Spain. Oh! The feelings! A compelling and irrefutable argument! As are world peace or climate change. It is necessary to protect the special, differentiated and exclusive feelings of the Catalans!

In Catalonia, there is a feeling like Brexit’s, or the inward turn of the US, or the growth of nationalist parties in the Netherlands, France, which want their country to leave the EU. These are part of a new context in which, given the inequalities after the last and hard economic crisis, many people believe that identity and their own nation are the best instruments to get out well in a global environment. In Catalonia, many people believe it as well, especially from the upper-middle classes, who perceive themselves as more prepared than the rest of the Spaniards. As with Brexit or with Trump, warnings about the separation’ consequences tend to be denied or ignored; all the warnings about the chaos which will arrive the day after, no longer take effect.

Meanwhile, the president of the Catalan region Carles Puigdemont, has appeared to ensure that the state “has de facto suspended self-government and has de facto applied a state of emergency.” He knows, as anyone who wants to know, that it is a lie, too. If the government had de facto suspended the Catalan self-government, the first thing done would be to get Puigdemont out of his office and indict him for sedition.

Also from the Football Club Barcelona and even some of its players, such as Gerard Piqué and the former coach Pep Guardiola, have come forward to defend “democracy.” For the Barsa’s leadership, democracy must have been the homage of the precedent directors who preceded them, to Francisco Franco in the Palace of El Pardo: Barsa’ leadership awarded twice to General Franco as a “favourite son of the club”!! But it does not matter now, because as the whole history of Catalonia, it is infested by lies and no one wants to remember it there. Some, because they are ashamed of it, and others because of what could happen to them if they told the truth.

The episodes of coercion, pressure and threats experienced in Catalonia in the last hours are inadmissible. Fortunately, no outbreak of dramatic violence has emerged, but it does not hide the hatred shown by thousands of separatist demonstrators to law enforcement, the Civil Guard, the police and the members of the administration of Justice applying executing orders with a strict legality criteria. It is evident that those separatist folks are interested in agitation, rebellion and violence as the last resort to the State’s retort against their separatist blackmail.

In Catalonia today, the safeguarding of many rights and freedoms is simply non-existent. The current regional rulers have devised an authoritarian regime based on hatred to Spain. Without law there is no order, which is exactly what separatism claims: those citizens protected in the anonymity of a multitude, acting as Catalonia is a lawless territory, in which the most cowardly constraints and the discrepant’ stigmatization, are valid. Just as it was the Basque region during the bloody stage of our history, when the terrorist band ETA murdered: the divergent was pointed out as a criminal objective. Currently, the law in Catalonia has no prestige: the idea about any democracy couldn’t be as such without the law protection, has lost the media battle: the separatists have stated that any opposition to their will, it is fascism.

As Puigdemont also knows, if the regional government had really been suspended, which some of us believe it should have been suspended long ago, his call for people to vote on October 1 would make no sense. But the reality is that the Government of Spain, headed by its president Rajoy, has had a patience far superior to that of many of us. Although his political party is right now within a context of parliamentary weakness, his cabinet has so far been able to measure its steps, controlling and cancelling out each seditious action of the Generalitat (Catalan government). Luckily for them, sedition no longer carries the yesteryear penalty!

Those Catalan separatists are convinced that they will win, but I think the overwhelming visit of the reality will crush them. From there, the Spanish government must start from scratch: withdrawing all the powers of self-government to Catalans, especially those of Education, Public Order and Media, which have constituted its seditious propaganda apparatus. And not giving them back again until loyalty to the Spanish Nation is demonstrated and proved.

Another measure should be once and for all, the prohibition of secessionist parties, as those are forbidden in the constitutional systems of another countries, such as France (Article 89), Italy (Art. 126) , Germany (Art. 21), Norway (Art.3), Switzerland (Art.53), United States (by the Supreme Court “The Constitution, in all its provisions, ensures an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States“), and many other nations like Lithuania, Estonia, Brazil, Peru … Spain and its government must apply these measures to avoid situations like these in the future.

Unpredictable or mistaken?

I’m afraid this is going to be an incendiary article. One of the kind I will receive some comments, not the nice ones, I guess. It is about my view of the recent events in the United States.

It seems to me quite evident the fact that only in few Western nations, the scourge of racism is present as it is still in the United States. Some historians emphasize that it is not only an aberrant sentiment shared by some segments of the population, but it has been a structural factor in the socio-economic formation of the country, from before even its foundation, and which today still manifests in very different forms. Obama himself, until now the only African-American president of the US, ended his term expressing his impotence over how little progress he made in reducing the inequality and racial hatred’ gap.

Today, the US is an increasingly polarized society, with the danger that it represents. Although all the laws in the country are now consecrating equality, and since the great struggles in the 1960s there have been extraordinary advances in the field of civil rights, racism and discrimination, very open wounds remain.

The US has a serious issue with the rise of the ultra-right-wing supremacist movements. And for that cause, the ambiguity with which Trump condemned what happened in Charlottesville was very unfortunate, attributing the fault “to many parts“, without aiming directly at the white supremacists. The president has equally angered Republicans and Democrats alike. And again, he demonstrates his inability to exercise the moral leadership that corresponds to his position.

After these events and after only seven months in office, the gap between the Republicans and their president is beginning to be insurmountable. Donald Trump’s rectification about the Charlottesville riots in the form of a new nod to the white supremacists, after he had first lashed out at them, has had even more impact than his equidistant sharing of blame between extreme right and extreme left about the unfortunate racist riots in the first place.

The two former presidents Bush, George H. W. and George W., stepped out of rectification with a joined statement: “America must always reject racial fanaticism, anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred.” The rejection of the senators is absolute, including Trump’s bigger supporters, who blamed him for his lack of moral leadership, “is dividing the Americans, rather than uniting them,” as denounced by Sen. Lindsey Graham. The president’s phrase “there is also good people among white supremacists” has been devastating for the Republican Party.

Trump is hurting the White House: these facts has led to the mass batch of companies which formed Trump’s Manufacturing Advisory Board, which he has been forced to dissolve it. The impact of a president’s unprecedented behaviour toward racist groups in the United States is directly threatening his own agenda. The enormous distance between the White House and Republican congressmen will make increasingly difficult for the president’s initiatives to get ahead in the legislature. The failure with ‘Obamacare’ was the first warning. Trump’s effort to be conciliatory with racist men, threatens his tax cuts and the infrastructure plan which he has just submitted.

These recent events have placed Trump in front of an awkward mirror. The idea of the post-racial America, which was fondled when the African-American Barack Obama first came to the White House, an era in which the race’ issue would move to a secondary place, has faded. President Trump has repeatedly emphasized the value of being “unpredictable,” and he has set a pattern for triggering poorly conceived comments, which make him seem deranged sometimes. He seems to believe that this kind of behaviour will persuade both the allies and the adversaries, who will do what he asks or needs to be done, for fear that this impulsive man would do something terrible. It is wrong. With these actions, he could become a failed president. Fire and fury is a boomerang which destroys everything and everyone.

North Korea: Why the escalation now?

Contrary to the traditional meekness and diplomacy with which the US presidents have faced the delicate problem of North Korea, Donald Trump has been involved in a verbal duel with the North Korean regime which is keeping the whole international community alert. Trump’s warning about he will unleash “a never seen sea of fury and fire” has exalted the North Korean leader, already a person of erratic behaviour and quite easy to excite.

On the very last July 4th, the American Independence Day, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un announced a “gift for North American bastards”: The North Korean army successfully tested an intercontinental missile capable of reaching US territory. Announced on last Tuesday by the North Korean state television (KCNA), which reported that Kim Jong-Un witnessed the launch, like he usually does. Since then, provocations and warnings from one side to another have occurred, as if it were a race to utter the last word, ever stronger and more aggressive. Trump’s strategy of maintaining maximum tension, perhaps as the way to get China out of inaction with Pyongyang, is becoming increasingly unique. In the midst of the escalating tension between the US and North Korea, President Donald Trump regained his war rhetoric and redoubled the tone of his threats against the Pyongyang regime: “They should be very, very nervous.”

As a finishing touch, the “beloved leader” as he likes to be called, of the last Stalinist regime on the planet, Kim Jong-Un, made public his intention to launch an attack on the island of Guam, an island taken from Spain in 1898 and where the US maintains a contingent of more than 3000 soldiers. The North Korean “beloved leader” did not just announce his pretensions, but presented an exhaustive military plan with all the details of the hypothetical attack. Thus, he was putting more fuel to the fire of his unprecedented verbal shock with the United States. North Korea threatened with a “sea of fire” to Washington after the harsh economic sanctions against the country approved by the UN Security Council. North Korea occasionally threatens to “turn Seoul into a Sea of Fire.”  The South Korean, US and other international media often relay this statement, amplifying its effect. But it is yet quiet normal North Korean dialectics.

But for the first time in a long time, the international markets are showing signs of concern over the escalating North Korean threat. Although the balance of tension has reached a point never seen before, many experts doubt that a military conflict will indeed be triggered. It would not benefit either party. For North Korea, a war against the US would mean to signing its disappearance as a country. For the US would be a serious deterioration of relations with its allies in Asia, mainly Japan and South Korea, who would pay very dearly in human lives. It seems that Kim Jong-Un’s regime has settled into such a crazy moving forward, as is the mood of the “beloved leader”, which prevents him from gauging how far he can stretch the rope without causing a catastrophe. Not only because of such direct threats to the US, if there were to be an attack on its territory, would an immediate war unfold which would suppose the end of the Stalinist and hereditary Kim’ regime, but which would cause many victims in neighbouring countries and allies such as South or Japan.

For years, the White House has tried to defuse the tension, pushing ways of negotiating to various side, although truly unsuccessfully, and urging China, at the same time, to exert its influence over Pyongyang. The sanctions imposed on the regime were relatively limited and Washington appeased the fears of its partners in the region, Seoul and Tokyo, reinforcing military alliances and defence systems. But the Trump Administration seems determined to go further.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests. That is really quite a lot. Some expert analysts in North Korea, such as Jeffrey Lewis of Foreign Policy, ensures that “some of my colleagues still think the United States might persuade North Korea to abandon, or at least freeze, its nuclear and missile programs. I am not so sure. I suspect we might have to settle for trying to reduce tensions so that we live long enough to figure this problem out. But there is only one way to figure out who is right: Talk to the North Koreans. There is no other alternative. The other options are basically terrible.”

My opinion is that the luck we have is these threats are not for those North Korea adversaries but for their followers, which guarantees the peace in some way. I’ve always been fascinated by the closed world of the Kim’s, since everything there seems so aberrant to me. Guys who believe that Kim Jong Il, father of Kim Jong-Un, never defecated, as his biography claims. Or that he could make eleven holes of golf in one shot, or that he published 1,500 books and the three best world operas in just three years. But the truth is that a dictatorship is not a place where the people believe a lot of stupid things, but in which you cannot say that you do not believe them. It seems like the secrecy attributed to North Korea contrasts with so many ridiculous details which the biographers give us about their leaders.

Despite the disastrous situation of North Korea’s economy, now a little better than in the 1990s when the country suffered a terrible famine, the regime extensively uses military propaganda and exploits its role as a victim to mask the misery, the continuing violations of human rights and the lack of freedoms of the population. And the North Korean authorities are aware that nuclear weapons are the only option they have for counteracting their asymmetrical relationship with their rivals.

As the concerns grow over an unprecedented possible military conflict, which aligns the main powers between the criticisms in the language of Trump, as Germany, with Chancellor Merkel to the front, and those who support him, as the United Kingdom, the former Spanish island of Guam, is situated in the worst of the situations. But for the time being, as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said, given his less provocative mood, and based on expert analysts, “the Americans can quietly sleep.”

Critical time in Venezuela

 

The decomposition of the Chavismo in Venezuela is advancing in giant steps. In these last hours, the kleptocracy dictatorship which heads Nicolas Maduro adds the greatest discredit to the ridiculous one: the revelation that the recount of the votes to the Constituent Assembly was manipulated, leaves the regime in an unsustainable situation. What was intended to be the main argument to legitimize its maintenance in power has already become the indisputable demonstration that it cannot remain in charge of Venezuela for another minute. If the international community had chosen not to recognize the results of the elections because it was clearly unconstitutional what was being approved, the announcement that the scrutiny was altered, declared nothing less by the company in charge of supervising it, ruined all the plans of the tyrant to cling to power. On the contrary, it accumulates one more crime to the list of crimes for which Maduro would must answer before an international court.

The figures of the participation in the election for the Constituent Assembly of Venezuela were manipulated by at least one million votes, according to Smartmatic, the company which works in Venezuela since 2004 observing the electoral processes. “We know, without a doubt, that the participation data of the recent elections for a National Constituent Assembly was manipulated,” said Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica at a press conference in London. “We estimate that the difference between real and reported participation by the authorities is at least one million votes.” That same morning, Reuters had already voiced alarm over the disparity in the participation: according to internal Electoral Council data, only 3.7 million people had voted at 5:30pm in those controversial elections to the Constituent Assembly of Venezuela. According to the Maduro government, a total of 8.1 million people came to the polls.

Nicolas Maduro and his more radical followers threatened before Sunday’s Constituent Assembly to crush the opposition and eliminate parliamentary immunity. Said and done. Just a few hours after consummating their coup to the National Assembly, agents of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) broke into the homes of two of the main opposition leaders, Leopoldo Lopez, leader of the Popular Volition, and Antonio Ledezma, Mayor of Caracas, to revoke their house arrest, and take them back to a prison. So far it is not known where they are. Ledezma and Lopez are the most critical personalities with the Maduro regime.

As reported by the Spanish newspaper ABC, the wife of the opposition leader Antonio Ledezma said, “Nicolas Maduro no longer has more argument than the force, the crude repression against most Venezuelans, who have done everything possible, within the narrow margins left by the dictatorship, to peacefully claim their ideas.” After the rupture of the constitutional order, the dictator has no possible defence. The words of condemnation and rejection of the whole world against their attempts to subvert the legality to cling cynically to power are nothing more than the verification of what Venezuelans have been denouncing and suffering for more than a decade. The Chavism, the Bolivarian socialism, or whatever the revolutionary project which has been perpetrated there was called, was nothing more than a one-way road to totalitarianism, so that finally the country officially enters the Dictatorship which was already de facto. There are no longer any votes with which to achieve the political change that most Venezuelans still claim on the streets, with more than 120 deaths because of the protests. There is only one way out.

The utopia which has ruined one of the richest countries in the world, and which in its last moments is summed up in the pathetic scenario of a dictator who is determined to stay in power by the force, crushing the citizens and arresting the opposition leaders. The Castrochavism will be remembered as the author of an economic miracle in reverse: making the richest country in Latin America, a miserable one is not a feat every day. It has created so much poverty that every day people must fight with teeth, a bag of milk, a kilo of flour or a piece of meat. In that frantic race towards disaster, the Castrochavista government had to proceed to the gradual elimination of all freedoms, of thought and conscience, to the ruin of institutions, journalism, parties, universities, trade unions. For everything has been fulfilled after the relentless design of the inspiring elders of this system, Fidel and Raul Castro, who once again have demonstrated their audacity, their total lack of consideration and respect for the most important values ​​of the human kind, but also their absolute lack of talent.

The Venezuelan people are in the streets, ready to be killed. And they’re being killed. Youth, students, who know they have no future, are not afraid and will not allow any cowardly continuity. The businessmen lost everything a while ago. And the corrupted by the system see with terror that the system no longer has money to buy their consciences. For those accomplices with this ignominy who establish an awkward equidistance with the governments which preceded the Chavism, they only should contemplate the devastating scenario of a country whose economy has been consumed by a corrupt fever a thousand times more perverse than the one registered in the worst times of any the previous regimes. And those who insist that sanctions have no effect other than to harm citizens, it should be remembered that what protesters are asking for is not just freedom, but also food and basic consumer goods which have disappeared from the market, not because of the sanctions, but because of the catastrophic management of this narco-regime and its Cuban accomplices. The Castrochavista corrupt and murderous regime has shown that is willing to anything to stay in power which means murdering more people. The world must do everything possible to end with Maduro in power as soon as possible.

 

Spain, its culture and the Catalan disloyalty

Today, unlike other days, I will write about my country. Recently, the Minister of Arts and Culture of South Africa, Nathi Mthethwa, visited Madrid. The purpose of this visit was to prepare an exhibition of South African artists to be held at the Reina Sofia Museum of Contemporary Art, to meet with the Spanish government, and to participate in a tribute to Nelson Mandela, held in Madrid. Mthethwa asserted, “We want to learn from the Spaniards, who have made their culture a recognizable brand worldwide, Spanish culture is world-renowned and recognized. We would like to achieve the same.

While from outside, our culture and historical heritage is largely admired, in Spain we keep being around the Catalan question. While the cause of the so-called “Process for Independence” has the support of Yoko Ono, what a sad character, who has recently stated so, a significant number of Catalan intellectuals and artists have manifested themselves in recent days about the ´Process´. All of them have had a great influence in the literature, the music or the Spanish theatre of the last decades, and therefore they enjoy a great social influence. It is interesting to know what they say, because it helps to understand the reasons that in Spain is about to trigger a serious institutional and civil crisis. Of all the 15-people interviewed, only the writer Nuria Amat correctly mentions the Nationalism, its manipulation capacity and its lies, and its toxic responsibility in all these. The others shirked their point.

Also, the recognized Catalan actor and playwright, Albert Boadella, has written an interesting article on this issue this week. In his article, he shows how since the 1980s a single decentralization process had begun in Spain, unique in Europe. The Spanish Constitution has structured the State in the form of Autonomies and specifically Catalonia, got transferred most powers of the State: a region which declares the Catalan as the official language of Catalonia, marginalizing the Spanish and the Spanish culture and endowing its own parliament with the attributions of education, police, health, public works, urbanism, radio & television broadcasting, among others. The Catalan nationalist government has used its powers in educational matters to indoctrinate two generations of young people in the hatred of everything related to Spain. Under the distortion of history and the exaltation of Catalan superiority against Spain, the virus of xenophobia has been instilled since childhood. The public money has also been used to subsidize the Catalan private media, to obtain their adhesion to the nationalist cause.

The Nationalism always grows creating a common enemy. Its spread is made by creating a general paranoia, in this case, against Spain. It also does so against the inner dissident who is quickly accused of treason. This persistent policy of confrontation has also provoked the division between the Catalan society itself, in which a part of it despises and marginalize to those who dare to protest against the separatist drift, and which is more than half of the population. Discord between organizations, families or friends has become commonplace in recent times.

It is almost a commonplace of the Catalan constitutionalists and the rest of Spain to accuse the two great Spanish parties, both left and right, for not having faced for years an intellectual and political battle to delegitimize the nationalism. Of course. But what about the ‘intelligentsia’ most directly affected by it? What some of the intellectuals do today is what they have always done: to temporize with a sinister ideology, to justify it in some way. What the great majority of them does not want to notice in the Process is precisely its radical element: a considerable part of the Catalans, led by a morally corrupt government, have chosen the xenophobic path and refuse to live with the rest of the Spaniards. Moreover, it is likely if they dare recognizing the implicit nationalist xenophobia, would oblige them to stop being equidistant with the two parties, as they have been for years.

The former French President, Francois Mitterrand, asserted that Nationalism is war. He described it this way because Europe has known in its own flesh the tragic consequences of instigating this impulse, which encourages lack of solidarity, xenophobia and destruction to the contrary. The European Union was born to avoid in the future the disintegrating shoots which end up leading irreversibly to the confrontation. In recent times, the European extreme right reappears under the ultranationalist incitement which pushes to close the own borders to filter any foreign intrusion of any kind. In this sense, the Catalan nationalism is equated with this emergent extreme right: it is the rich region which does not want the burden of less prosperous Spanish territories. That is the core of its objectives: the separatist unsupportive and disintegrating trying to break and put borders to a democratic Spain, organized under a solid principle of liberties.

Our young Spanish democracy has had to bear the brunt of Basque and Catalan nationalism along its path of progress and freedom. A ballast tinged with blood and pain, and constant pressure to sacrifice the equality of the Spaniards for the sake of false ethnic differences. Although in the background, it always plans the shadow of blackmail for the obtaining of economic privileges: the unique and the whole issue.

Venezuela won´t forget

 

 

The people of Venezuela demonstrated last Sunday to President Nicolas Maduro on a massive basis, that it is not possible to solve the economic and institutional disaster that the country is experiencing, if it is not through a dialogued solution which is bound the respect to the legality. More than 7.5 million people overcome the fear of violence and turned the streets into a demonstration against the regime, it is a clear signal of the moment that is crossed. The opposition to Maduro announced the creation of a parallel government of National Unity and a general strike that is being held today and is paralyzing the country.

Unfortunately, two other fatalities which fell near a polling station by paramilitary squad shots, were counted. These operate usually in the surroundings of the Chavismo. The two-dead people are close to the already 100 dead, since the start of the daily protests Maduro and his government, given their decision to convene elections to create an assembly which, given the system of nomination, would be completely docile to the current rulers and would end in a definitive way with any hint of democracy.

Meanwhile, it has been a relieve to acknowledge that a hundred Colombian and Colombian congressmen have presented this week before the International Criminal Court based in The Hague, a complaint against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Hague Court judges’ crimes which affect the international community: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The brief, directed to the prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, is based on reports from international organizations, including United Nations agencies, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, reports of several NGOs and official information from Venezuela itself. This report provides evidence which accuse Hugo Chavez’s successor of being a participant in serious violations of international law already since 2008, when Maduro was Foreign Affairs Minister of the Chavez government. It is also crediting more specific crimes against the International Law since it was elected in 2013. The initiative has been supported by representatives of all political backgrounds and colours, and seeks to have The Hague Prosecutor’s Office first opening an observation in Venezuela. Venezuela signed the Rome Statute in 1998 and therefore accepts the jurisdiction of the ICC.

There are eight accusations made by the complaint: First, the crime of murder by direct and indirect instigation: “Between the years 2013 and 2017, people have been killed in Venezuela who expresses themselves in concrete situations, or through the exercise of their human rights, against policies, measures or omissions, attributable to the Venezuelan government.” Secondly, the complainants charge him with “an imposition of certain conditions of life, including deprivation of access to food or medicine, with the intention of causing the destruction of part of a population.” A crime which qualifies as extermination, and that they understand as “closely related to the genocide, since both are directed against a large number of people.”

 Thirdly, deportation or forced transfer of population, coming to use physical force or through threats. The other charges included in the 56-page brief, without including the probationary documents provided for the trial, are incarceration of opponents; Torture; Persecution of a group or collective with own identity, about the critics with the Chavismo; Forced disappearance of persons and even the crime of apartheid, i.e. inhuman acts committed in the context of an institutionalized system of oppression against a part of the population.

The institutional and humanitarian crisis that Venezuela is undergoing, was intensified when the Supreme Court of Justice suspended at the end of March, arbitrarily and in a dictatorship style, which is what practically Venezuela currently is, the powers of Parliament, ruled by the opposition majority. That parliament was the result of the last occasion in which the real democracy was exercised in Venezuela. The decision sparked a wave of protests which has not yet stopped. In the last three and a half months, about one hundred people have died, the pressure from the international community has increased, the Chavismo is divided, the once Chavista Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Diaz, has become a symbol of the resistance to the government. But Maduro is not willing to give up the elections for a National Constituent Assembly, convened for July 30th with arbitrary rules of the game which, previously devised and organized by the Cuban intelligence, favour the government. Everything happening in Venezuela has origin and intelligence in Havana. And Venezuela will become another Cuba if Maduro is not stopped.

Because of the curse of the events currently happening in Venezuela, I also hope that they will force the Prosecutor of the ICC to put Venezuela under observation. The second objective is for the prosecution to open a formal investigation into Nicolas Maduro. The governments of Latin America have remained in multilateral forms of condemnation, but none have taken any action to end the situation, in fact some countries have supported Maduro, see Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Argentina during the government of the Kirchner, or Ecuador.

The world must let Maduro know that if he continues, his regime will suffer international sanctions. The Venezuelan people should not be the only ones who pay for the broken dishes. As the singer and politician Ruben Blades recently said in Madrid, Venezuela will never forget!

The crack is enlarging

The meeting held in June 2016 by Donald Trump’s eldest son with a Russian lawyer, who promised him toxic information about Hillary Clinton, came marked directly from the Kremlin. The eldest son of the then, Republican candidate, was informed by email that the material which she was going to provide was part of a Russian government effort to support Trump. The disclosure, advanced by the New York Times and supported by three other sources, further narrows the suspicion of collusion between the Republican election team, and Moscow.

This alleged collusion is the investigation’ cornerstone led by the FBI and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Its base is the report prepared by the three major US intelligence agencies (CIA, FBI and NSA), which states that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to his secret service to interfere in the US elections, to damage Clinton’s image and facilitate Trump’s triumph. The attack was the plundering of the Democrats’ computers and the mails of Clinton’s campaign chief. The material was later leaked to WikiLeaks. And we know the rest of the story.

The meeting with the Russian lawyer was held five months before the election, right in the heyday of Russian attack. Trump Jr. maintains that his father was never informed of the meeting, despite of the fact that his eldest son, son-in-law, and campaign manager attended it during the middle of the election battle. It also raises suspicions the ease with which they decided to receive toxic information from the Kremlin against a rival. Trump Jr. has tried to salvage this stumbling block by pointing out that he acted like any politician would act during a political campaign.

Meanwhile, during the G-20 summit last week, the particular summit held between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G-20, made the same economic sense that if the US president had met during two hours and 16 minutes with the president of Bolivia. None. A military superpower with a Third World economy. That is Russia. And its economic prospects are very bad because its economic structure is that of a Third World country. Russia exports oil, natural gas and other raw materials, and imports everything else. The only thing which might break down is the foreign sales of military equipment, largely inherited from the former Soviet Union industry, which means that it has fewer and less dependable buyers who are interested in these antiques. Now they sell a lot in Nicaragua, for example.

That a country with the life expectancy of Bolivia and the Per Capita wealth of Greece, play the role of Russia in the world, should be the subject of several PhD theses. The international community surprisingly continues accepting Russia as a great power, as the heir to the Soviet Union. The influence of Moscow is due precisely to that heritage of the USSR. An inheritance which includes a formidable defence, espionage and security apparatus, in which Vladimir Putin made his whole career and is an expert. Other than that, is practically nothing. Without this militarization of the economy, Russia is ethereal, like the natural gas it exports. Russia is today a country in development, armed ‘to the teeth’, and with a government of ultranationalist ideology. A country with 7,000 atomic bombs which combines political hyper-nationalism and a third-ranking from the economic point of view, is clearly a danger. And it is because the three factors feedback each other. Without nationalism, the economic status quo and militarism make no sense. But nevertheless, Trump gives a lot of importance to Putin, to Russia, which does not have it.

The meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, which was going to take half an hour, lasted two hours and 16 minutes. There were no American complaints about Russian intervention in the November election. As it was expected. It is important the ceasefire agreement in Syria, which the other G20 members do not know what it is about, since they were not informed.  Also, they have decided to create a sort of protective cloud in cyberspace which will give to Putin a huge political triumph, in front of the European G20 leaders’ puzzlement. In the final declaration about the environmental agreement, the vote was 19 to one: they all differed from the US regarding global warming. In trade matters, Trump was the most protectionist of all the other participants. And, as the G20 plenary met, Trump rose up from the table again and again, and his place was not filled by the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, but by his daughter Ivanka, who has any function of government representativeness: it was rude and a lack of diplomatic, political and respect for the other participants.

For the time being, there are not any sophisticated analysis of what the Trump administration is, his particular way to make policy and politics. We do not understand it, nor we don’t understand the interests behind it. We could sense that Trump’s provocations and tweets are serving his internal agenda, to adjust personal matters and to hide their true policies. To be guided by the tweets and verbiage seems to me a mistake and is, paradoxically, what best suits the interests that took him to the White House.

I still do not understand what happens between Trump and Putin, and what we so far know, does not smell good. The meeting among Trump’s eldest son, the rest of the election team and the Russian lawyer, the long meeting with Putin last week, further narrows the suspicion of collusion between the Trump’s electoral team and Moscow. The crack widens, as it does the scandal.

Meeting between Friends

 

 

When the British decided to support the Brexit and turn their back on the European project on June 23rd 2016, Donald Trump saw his protectionist project backed at the most convenient time during his election campaign. In the midst of the euphoria, the first anti-establishment candidate in the recent American history predicted that other European countries would follow in the wake of the United Kingdom. In his view, we were witnessing the process of disintegration of the European Union. Identical feelings he shares with the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump may have confused his own desire with reality, but four and a half months after, when arriving at the White House, the United States President turned the traditional North American foreign policy by gradually trying to unravel the main transatlantic ties. Pure continuity of what was proposed in the campaign. First, it was the punch at the NATO table: he questioned its current meaning and demanded the Allies to fulfil their obligation to contribute 2% of their GDP to military spending. Until there is nothing unusual, and he even might be right about it.

The US’ neo-nationalism, fuelled by the extremist digital journal Breitbart News, owned by Trump’s adviser and man of his trust, Stephen Bannon, has backed the European populist options which could have helped put the established order upside down, supporting the populists French Marine Le Pen and the Dutch Geert Wilders. Like his friend Putin, who has even supported them economically.

Then came the shelve negotiations for the free trade agreement between the US and the EU, which happened in an almost natural way. Finally, with the output of Climate Paris Agreement, Trump ratified the withdrawal of any multinational collaboration. The Paris agreement, or COP21, was signed in December 2015 after decades of negotiations. Technically it is not a binding treaty, precisely because of the closed opposition of the US government (among others) to be enforced: according to the agreement the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions are established by each country independently. Under the signed stipulations only the process of leaving the agreement could start in November 2019 and the process includes a year of delay, so the exit will not be effective before 2020.

Trump has sought from the outset, to replace the major transnational agreements in which the USA participates, through bilateral agreements, with the aim of reaping the greatest benefit to each of them. He has already chased it with Theresa May, and even proposed it to Merkel, who rejected it, which earned her some odd expletive.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will hold a bilateral meeting this week during the G-20 summit in Hamburg. Finally, the friends will see each other face to face. The moment had to come: They seem to share many interests and have many things in common. There will be plenty of time for conversation and discussion. They never have meet before and between them flows an unusual electricity, almost a mutual fascination.

An encounter that in any other case would enter into the diplomatic normality, but the meeting among the two-alpha-male of world politics, acquires disturbing airs. The face-to-face with Putin has been discouraged by the Trump’ advisors. The powerful military sector of the White House distrusts openly of Russia. And the intelligence services consider without any doubt that the Kremlin is a hostile enemy who orchestrated a smear campaign against Hillary Clinton during the past presidential election. An intervention intended to favour Trump’s interest, which feeds up until now a great scandal in Washington: the Russian plot. Trump, euphoric, showed already that weakness, telling the Russian foreign minister about some secret terrorism’ information during his visit to the White house in May. The slip has not been forgotten, and the White House fears the thorny Russian scandal.

The neuralgic point of this meeting for President Trump should be Syria and the fight against Daesh’s terrorism. He hopes to make some progress there. The Russian seeks a stable dialogue and insisting that the US sanctions against Russia must be withdrawn, including those imposed by Obama for electoral interference. It’s not something Trump could promise after the Senate’s nearly unanimous decision to armour them. But there is no doubt that Putin would have access to a leader who has publicly expressed his admiration towards him. A leader, who in the middle of the election campaign, asked to Putin for continuing to check his rival’s mails. In Hamburg, face to face, they might amusingly remember it.

For the time being, it seems like the wishes about the European target are not being achieved, even though Trump has succeeded in convincing a most of his voters that the EU is something negative for the US interests. Behind the anti-European aspirations of US President Donald Trump, who is defying decades of alliance and faithful collaboration arising from the status quo after World War II, the strategy and ideology have always been present: the president wants to run the country as a company, and for this he applies the same yardstick in politics as in the culmination of good business: weakening and dividing, and then winning. The same view as his friend Putin.

REGREXIT

It’s all fire around Theresa May. Jeremy Corbyn has increased the pressure on the UK Premier at a particularly critical moment, during the start of the Brexit negotiations. On the other hand, Gerry Adams, the historic Sinn Féin leader, recently visited Downing Street for the first time in a decade and directly accused May of violating the Good Friday Agreement. According to Adams, the possibility of a governing covenant among the Conservative Party and the DUP (Unionist Party of Northern Ireland) to achieve a majority in the British Parliament, is a rupture of the British Government’ role as guarantor of North Ireland’ peace process. That is not to mention the British Police’s performance on the terrorist attacks, or the recent fire at the Grenfell tower which has been considered by a Labour MP as a ‘criminal negligence.’ After two terrorist attacks in less than three months, the British capital revived the nightmare with the Grenfell tower terrifying fire in the middle of the night.

Last June 22nd was a year later of the Brexit‘s triumph, which won the referendum with only a 3.7% lead. Since then, the wound opened about the EU debate in the United Kingdom is far from being over. This was acknowledged recently by the highest religious authority of the Church of England, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury since 2013. Welby acknowledges that the political situation created after the last elections, without an absolute majority of Government, “has created an understandable temptation to turn every difference into a question of confidence.” Welby urges British politicians to seek unity and avoiding “the temptation to take domestic advantage at the cost of these events.” He has proposed to the PM to sponsor a commission under the Parliament’ umbrella, in which all parties are willing to achieve a common position before the Brexit negotiations. It would be presided over by a veteran and prestigious politician and away from the current partisan struggles. Some Labour MPs had already advocated a commission like the one proposed by Archbishop Welby. However, it is doubtful whether his idea might please the hard Brexiters inside the Conservative Party.

The fact is that, once the negotiations to carry out Brexit have started, a new word is being recently heard in England: ‘Regretxit‘, which links the term Brexit with ‘Regret’. The polling company YouGov, which was very accurate in its projection of seats that May would lose in the past election, has made a satisfaction survey on Brexit, and the ‘Regrexit‘ is already leading. It must be remembered that in the referendum on this UE leaving issue, the pro-leaving was 51.8%, compared with 48.1% (17.4 million votes against 16.1). One year later, 45% of those surveyed, believe that EU exit will be a historic mistake, exceeding the 44% who still believe that Brexit was successful: 40% believe that the country will be worse after leaving its partners since 1973, and only 25% foresee a better perspective.

The main reason the Brexit was voted was to regain sovereignty, that British decisions are taken by the British. The second reason is the control of immigration. YouGov’s survey made for ‘The Times’ reveals that the economics are right now more crucial than immigration: 58% say that in negotiations with the EU, the European free market must prevail.

The reality is that already now, British households have lost purchasing power; The political crisis is palpable with a very weak government after the last elections; The British negotiating position is very fragile and confusing and, a wave of companies offshoring is expected as the breakthrough progresses. Brexit‘s hyper nationalistic adventure is already punishing the UK. In addition, British society is politically divided in two, divided as never were before. May wanted to celebrate elections to consolidate her power; She failed and lost the absolute majority which had bequeathed from Cameron. She is right now in a fragile minority and highly questioned by her own party. The British Government has never finished defining a clear strategy for Brexit, probably because it does not have it. The Premier outlined her intentions for a tough exit last January: abandonment of the single market and the Customs Union, control of borders and end of EU citizens’ free movement. So, tough exit.

But everything will depend on the pain caused by the Brexit to the UK citizens. The English, despite their pretensions of superiority over the rest of Europe, are usually a practical kind of people, who thinks a lot with their pockets. If the Brexit adventure seriously worsens their lives, they will recant, with a dignified tone and pretending like they have won, but they will step back in the end. If the damages are bearable, an agreement will be sought which will give good access to the EU market and generous quotas of EU citizens arrivals. But since the official start of negotiations in Brussels for Britain’s exit from the EU, the British negotiating chief David Davis, the EU’s exit appointed minister, was thrashed by his EU counterpart Michel Barnier, who has imposed a timetable, schedule and negotiation model. Right now, things don’t look right for Britain. And the rest of the EU will not allow it either.

Policy tightening towards Cuba

 

 

We are going to empower the Cuban people and make accountable their regime,” Trump wrote on Twitter, just hours before giving a speech in Little Havana, the neighbourhood where the Cuban exile is concentrated. During the Presidential race, Trump has altered course on Cuba. Last year, during the primary campaign, Trump said that he supportedgovernment efforts to restore relations with the island. Then, at a Miami rally two weeks ago, Trump claimed that Obama should have secured better terms in negotiations with Cuba, and that “unless the Castro regime meets our demands,” he would reverse Obama’s executive orders.

A year and three months after Obama’s visit to Cuba, Trump has visited Miami, the capital of the Cuban diaspora, to reiterate to an exile sector that he will satisfy the campaign promise which he made to the Bay of Pigs war’ veterans, who risked their lives in an incursion to the island in 1961, encouraged and funded by the Government of John F. Kennedy. The president announced in Miami a policy’ tightening towards the island, dismantling a part of the legacy of his predecessor: “Now that I am President I will expose the crimes of the Castro’s, because for the United States a continent is better where there is freedom, in Cuba, in Venezuela, so that people can live their dreams.” The president said that one of his functions is changing the bad treaties, and recalled that of Iran, and that of Cuba: ” The previous government has alleviated the restrictions of travel and commerce and that does not help the Cuban people, it only enriches the Castro regime. We will not remain silent in the face of communist oppression.

 However, the ‘backward’ is just partial, not as the hardest Cuban exile would have liked. The president, despite his anti-Castro speech, keeps up with many of the Obama’s policies toward Cuba. The Obama-era decrees marked a significant difference about the US Companies provision of services increase in Cuba: telecommunications, internet, hotels. Companies like Airbnb announced their new presence on the island. Also, it is particularly visible in these two and a half years the presence of the big airlines and US cruise ships, which started arriving in Cuba in 2016. Trump, who seems to follow the directives of Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, two of the most influential politicians in the Cuban-American community, says what successive administrations of one sign or another have promised in Miami: that sooner rather than later Cuba will be free; That the objective is to promote the autonomy of civil society and to undermine the dictatorship; And that it is urgent to denounce the violation of human rights in Cuba. Nothing new.

On the island side, Raul Castro’s government responded in a message issued in all the Cuban media, “Any strategy aimed to change the political, economic and social system in Cuba, whether it is to achieve it through pressures or using more subtle methods, will be doomed to failure. The necessary changes in Cuba such as those now underway, are part of the island’s economic and socialist model’ update, which the Cuban people will continue to decide sovereignly.” Cuba has also protested yesterday over the US president shamelessness, as last Friday he surrounded himself with terrorists in Miami, when announcing the tightening of his country’s policy toward the island, in a ‘such a grotesque spectacle coming out of the Cold War.’

But any exile is monolithic and the Cuban is not an exception. After 59 years of exile, today more than ever, Cuban-Americans are divided about which is the best way to drive a transition. According to a Florida International University’ survey published in 2016, 63%, in Miami Dade County were against the embargo, and 57% supported the expanding trade relations with Cuba. And a new poll released yesterday by ‘Engage Cuba Coalition’ dismantle the stereotype that of Republicans are opposed to Obama’s policies in relation to the island. In fact, most of the Republican voters want to keep them. But the scope of the new measures is not clear, partly because of the lack of transparency of the Cuban economy. Some experts have criticized the tightening of US policy towards Cuba as a counterproductive one. For Jason Marczack, an expert at the Think Tank Atlantic Council, stated that “the Cuban system has already demonstrated its resistance to US attempts to isolate itself over the past five decades.”

 There will be no change until the Cubans on the island take some action. At least as the Venezuelan people are doing. Nothing which outsiders might decide as Trump now, or Obama before, is going to have a real impact on the Cuban people ‘lives. What does it take for the people of Cuba to wake up, have faith in themselves, and be able to reverse their history? What needs to happen in Cuba for Cubans to show their identity, their self-esteem and take off all their strength forces to make their way to the future? What is needed to say among them, those ordinary Cubans, from all ages and from all parts of the island to rise from the long lethargy in which they are submerged, asleep, hypnotized, paralyzed, and put their proven wit and muscle to work?

Fifty-eight years are gone and the result is apathy, languishment and disinterest over a better life. A decrepit country, people abandoned to their fate, without encouragement, without the will to fight, without goals, encouragement, without blood, dignity and desire. Eleven million of Cubans would wish to leave the island, flee to other lands where they could achieve a more human, more dignified, more possible life. Run away. Go far from the impossible. Sad reality. Cuba, an island which does not produce, full of people who do not work and do not participate. A miserable entelechy product of an abject revolution dedicated to demolishing everything assembled before. The Cuban people must react and fight against the regime that has stolen everything, even their dignity!