Author: Eva Bartlett

Resignation of Bolivia’s Evo Morales was no victory for democracy, but a US-sponsored coup

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Nov 11, 2019, RT.com

by Eva K Bartlett

Evo Morales, an indigenous leader who bucked the IMF and condemned US imperialism, has been pressured by the military to resign after winning an election. Yet Washington calls this blatant coup in Bolivia a victory for democracy?

Morales was re-elected as Bolivia’s president on October 20. The coup-backing Organization of American States (OAS) wasn’t pleased and went ahead interfering in a sovereign nation – as the US itself does so well – issuing a report that the vote result wasn’t satisfactory to their desires.The heavy funding from the US surely has no influence on OAS policies…

In any case, on November 10, President Morales first announced a new election. Later that day, he announced his resignation, naming as reason the recent brutality of Bolivia’s right-wing opposition, including “kidnapping and mistreating” families of indigenous leaders and burning down the homes of public officials.
I resign from my position as president so that (Carlos) Mesa and (Luis Fernando) Camacho do not continue to persecute socialist leaders.
Morales was clear that his move was solely due to the violence incited opposition leaders. However, it soon became clear that this was a coup, not a resignation.

Former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff tweeted her solidarity with the “legitimate president of Bolivia [Evo Morales] who was deposed by a military coup, had his house raided by the police and suffered an illegal arrest warrant. A very serious attack on democracy in Latin America and violence against the Bolivian people.”

Another Brazilian ex-president, Lula, likewise declared the “stepping down” a coup. And even before the events of November 10, Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner foresaw there would be pressure to force Morales out of office, as did Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro.

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As most readers know, this is not the first US-backed coup in Latin America. Washington’s history of meddling in sovereign nations stretching back many decades. But let’s look at how Bolivia changed under Morales’ leadership.

Poverty, unemployment and illiteracy all decreased significantly under Morales. In fact, according to a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), Bolivia’s was the “fastest-growing” economy in South America, having “basically been stagnant for a quarter century prior to Morales becoming president in 2006.” To do so, however, “the Bolivian government ended 20 years of IMF agreements in 2006,” the same CEPR report notes. Furthermore, expelling US military bases, threatening to close the US embassy in Bolivia, and nationalizing the oil and gas industries haven’t done much to put him in the good graces of ‘democracy-bringers’. 

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After all, with America’s lust to ‘democratize’ the world and steal precious resources in the process, nationalizing a country’s goods really mucks up Washington’s dirty plans. It doesn’t help that Bolivia has $2.3 billion worth of contracts to develop its lithium deposits with China, not the US.
Who benefits from Bolivia losing Morales as president? Not the Bolivian people, that’s for certain. In fact, some predict Bolivia’s future could be very dire under the rule of a US puppet.
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“My sin is being a union leader, indigenous. We are giving up so that my brothers do not continue to be kicked,” Morales said, when submitting his forced resignation.
This statement poignantly demonstrates the racism and utter lack of concern by the US for the people of Bolivia. Concerned citizens around the world are holding rallies in solidarity with Bolivia’s elected President and against yet another US-backed coup of a sovereign nation.

“He is now in hiding with his Indigenous Nation, and the death squads have issued an arrest warrant for him,” analyst Laith Marouf noted. “Know now that if they kill him claiming he resisted arrest, or that he committed suicide; that it was an assassination in the land that saw the assassination of Che Guevara.”

As events unfold in Bolivia, it’s important to keep in mind the possible frightening outcomes. Anything is possible when US imperial interests are at stake.

Accused of Treason and Imprisoned Without Trial: Journalist Kirill Vyshinsky Recounts His Harrowing Time in a Ukrainian Prison

Mint Press News: Eva Bartlett sat down with recently released Ukrainian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky. Vyshinsky endured 15 months of appalling conditions in a Ukrainian prison after being falsely accused of treason.

WATCH the interview HERE

 

Oct 28, 2019, Mint Press News

In November 2018, I became aware of the case of Kirill Vyshinsky, a Ukrainian-Russian journalist and editor imprisoned in Ukraine without trial since May 2018, accused of high treason. 

Soon after, I interviewed Vyshinsky via email. He described his arrest and the accusations against him as politically-motivated, “an attempt by the Ukrainian authorities to bolster the declining popularity of [then] President [Petro] Poroshenko in this election year.” 

Vyshinsky noted that his arrest was advancing the incessant anti-Russian hysteria now prevalent among Ukrainian authorities, as he holds dual Ukrainian and Russian citizenship. He noted that the charges against him, which pertain to a number of articles he published in 2014 (none of them authored by Vyshinsky), became of interest to Ukrainian authorities and intelligence services four years after they were published. To Vyshinsky, this supports the notion that neither the articles nor their editor were a security threat to Ukraine, instead, he says, they were a political card to be played. 

In early 2019, I traveled to Kiev to interview Vyshinsky’s defense lawyer Andriy Domansky about the logistic obstacles of his client’s case. Domansky viewed the Vyshinsky case as politically motivated and expressed concern that he could himself become a target of Ukraine’s secret service for his role in defending his client, an innocent man. 

Domansky told me at the time,

The Vyshinsky case is key in demonstrating the presence of political persecution of journalists in Ukraine. As a legal expert, I believe justice is still possible in Ukraine and I will do everything possible to prove Kirill Vyshinsky’s innocence.”

To the surprise of those following the case against Vyshinsky, in late August 2019 he was released with little fanfare after serving more than 400 days in a Ukrainian prison but still faces all of the charges brought against him by the Ukrainian government and is “obliged to appear in court or give testimony to investigators if they deemed it necessary.” 

By early September, Kirill Vyshinsky was on a plane to Moscow. Despite never being tried or officially convicted, he found himself the subject of a prisoner exchange between the Russian and Ukrainian governments.

I interviewed Vyshinsky in Moscow in late September. He told me about his harrowing ordeal, the Ukrainian detention system, other persecuted journalists, and what lies ahead for him.

He also touched on the inhumane conditions he experienced in Ukrainian prisons. He noted that a pretrial detention center as we know it in Western nations is a very different entity in Ukraine and that Ukrainian prisons were so over-crowded that it was common for inmates to sleep in three shifts in order to allow enough standing room for inmates crammed into a cell.

 

Ukrainian prisons like a “concentration camp”

Aleksey Zhuravko, a Ukrainian deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of V and VI convocations recently published photos taken inside of an Odessa pretrial detention center showing utterly unsanitary and appalling conditions. Zhuravko noted, “I am shocked at what was seen. It is a concentration camp. It is a hotbed of diseases.”

Another Ukrainian journalist, Pavel Volkov, was subjected to the same types of accusations lobbed against Vyshinsky. Volkov spent over a year in the same pretrial detention center as Vyshinsky. He was arrested on September 27, 2017, after Ukrainian authorities carried out searches of his wife and mother’s apartments without the presence of his lawyer and with what he says, was a false witness. 

Volkov spent more than a year in a pretrial detention center on charges of “infringing on territorial integrity with a group of people” and “miscellaneous accessory to terrorism.” On March 27, 2019, he was fully acquitted by a Ukrainian court. 

Volkov shared his thoughts on the persecution of journalists in Ukraine, saying:

The leaders of the 2014 Euromaidan movement, who subsequently occupied the largest positions in the country’s leadership, repeatedly stated that collaborators from World War II who participated in the mass extermination of Jews, Russians, and Poles are true heroes in Ukraine, and that the Russian and Russian-speaking population of Ukraine are inferior people who need to be either forcibly re-educated or destroyed. 

They also believe that anyone who wants peace with the Russian Federation, and who believes that the Russian language (the native language for over sixty percent of Ukraine’s population) should be the second state language, is the enemy of Ukraine.

These notions formed the basis of the new criminal law, designed to persecute politicians, public figures, journalists, and ordinary citizens who disagree with the above.

Since 2014, security services have arrested hundreds of people on charges of state treason; infringing on the territorial integrity of Ukraine; and assisting terrorism for criticizing the current government in the streets or on the Internet. 

People have been in prison for years without a conviction. And these are not only the journalists included in the ‘Vyshinsky list’. 

Activists from Odessa, Sergey Dolzhenkov and Evgeny Mefedov, have spent more than five years in jail just for laying flowers at a memorial to the liberators of Nikolaev [Ukrainian city] from Nazi invaders. 

Sergeyev and Gorban, taxi drivers, have spent two and a half years in a pretrial detention center because they transported pensioners from Donetsk to Ukraine-controlled territory so that they could receive their legal pension.

The entrepreneur Andrey Tatarintsev has spent two years in prison for providing humanitarian assistance to a children’s hospital in the territory of the Lugansk region not controlled by Ukraine.

Farmer Nikolay Butrimenko received eight years of imprisonment for paying tax to the Donetsk People’s Republic for his land located in that territory.

The 85-year-old scientist and engineer Mekhti Logunov was given twelve years because he agreed to build a waste recycling plant with Russian investors. The list is endless. 

People often incriminate themselves while being tortured or under the threat of their relatives being punished, and such confessions are accepted by the courts, despite the fact that lawyers initiate criminal proceedings against the security services involved in the torture. These cases are not being investigated.

The only mitigation that has happened in this direction after the change of government was the abolition of the provision of the Criminal Procedure Code stating that no other measure of restraint other than detention can be applied to persons suspected of committing crimes against the state. 

This allowed some defendants to leave prison on bail, but not a single politically-motivated case has yet been closed. Moreover, arrests are ongoing. 

The only acquittal to date from the so-called journalistic cases on freedom of speech is mine. However, it is still being contested by the prosecutor’s office in the Supreme Court. 

Ninety-nine percent of the media continue to call all these people ‘terrorists’, ‘separatists’, and ‘enemies of the people’, even though almost none of them have yet received a verdict in court.”

Volkov’s words lay bare the true nature of the allegations made against Kirill Vyshinsky as well as the countless other journalists and citizens of Ukraine that have fallen victim to the heavy hand of Ukrainian authorities.

In Damascus Artisan area: “None of this would be possible if the terrorists ruled”

Walking with a friend, Lulwa, through what was a khan (inn) in the past, now an area for traditional and new crafts. She makes the apt point: were Damascus under the rule of what the west called “rebels”, al-Qaeda and co-terrorists, none of this would be possible.

This is the Syrian culture that existed prior to the war on Syria, and the culture that continues to exist, in spite of everything the West and Gulf/Israeli/Turkish allies have done to destroy Syria.

Damascus Peace, But Syria Still Under Strangling Western Sanctions, Embassy Closures

 

 

A morning drive and walk through Damascus with my friend Lulwa, from the Old City to Midan to the artisan area, Tikkiyeh, near the National Museum.

We discuss Canada’s obscene preventing of Waseem Ramli from taking his post as honourary consul. [Support Waseem]

Lulwa talks about how Canada’s (shameful) closure of Syrian embassies/consulates years ago affect Syrian Canadians in a variety of ways, as well as prevented many Syrians in Canada from voting (democratically) in their presidential elections.

Lulwa also mentions a near-miss she and her mother had in 2011, when western media and fake-left insisted the “revolution” was peaceful in Syria: a site, in Midan, where a (terrorist) explosion took place roughly 15 minutes after they were there.

As we drive, Lulwa points out that the housing on the mountain is largely unregulated, meaning no permits to build the homes, and has been thus for a long time, even though most governments wouldn’t allow this. Certainly doesn’t fit the depiction of the Syrian government as draconian and against the people.

*Note: This evening, as I visited a family, they told me of how one member cannot get the conventional cancer treatment medications those in the West have access to, due to sanctions.

Related:
“These crimes also violate the rights of Canadians to know the truth. The Canadian government’s full spectrum attack on Syria, from the closure of Syrian Embassies which denied expatriate Syrians their right to vote in the 2014 Syrian elections, to the economic blockade, to the information blockade, to the covert support for al Qaeda and affiliated terrorists, means that Canadians themselves are left in a vacuum of imposed ignorance, impaired by the war lies, unable to be informed citizens, and to hold their government to account.”

Syrian spirit!

While walking in old Damascus yesterday, a boy wanted to practise his English with me. He was so charming I asked if I could film he and his friends.

His words, and his friend’s song burst, were spontaneous.

Something for viewers to keep in mind: these kids, age 12, lived under terrorist mortars for years. Precisely this area of Damascus, where we met, was heavily targeted over the years. Yet, look at the love and hope they retain!

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Some of my articles on the mortar terrorism they lived through:
 

 

From Mt Qasioun, looking down on Damascus, at peace in spite of Western war on Syria

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Finally made it to Qasioun mountain, a fantastic view of Damascus.

Looking down on the city, I remembered the intense terrorist shelling with mortars and missiles. In my visits in 2014, 2015, 2016 (and 17, 18, but the earlier years were, generally, more hard-hit), this mortar terrorism was very vivid, I have many accounts and memories of it.

To look down on a city at peace, relieved of the terrorism Western nations and their Gulf allies (not to overlook israel and Turkey) unleashed upon Syrian civilians, was a hugely moving moment.

Looking forward to the day that every inch of Syria is liberated.

Related:

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“We will never forget the ethnic cleansing of Arabs & Assyrians at the hands of Kurdish militias”

Walking along the Straight Street in Old Damascus last night, Laith Marouf speaks on Damascus’ ancient history, abundant everywhere one looks–even the “stones” people are sitting on.

But also, do listen from ~3:00 when we reach the martyrs garden that (quoting Laith):

“commemorates the genocide of the Syriac Canaanites by the Kurdish militias under the order of the Ottoman Turks, in what is now part of Turkey but was part of Syria…

So when people speak to us here in Syria about the imaginary Rojova land, we will never forget that there was an ethnic cleansing of Arabs and Assyrians from our lands at the hands of Kurdish militias under the order of the Ottomans.”

“This is a monument to the 1915 genocide of Syriac Assyrians, its around the same time as the Armenian genocide.

Syria is full of Armenians, it’s where Armenians came and hid. My family is from Deir ez Zor. The first land that Armenians escaping genocide reached, a safe place, was Deir ez Zor.

My great grandparents hid a lot of Armenian families from the Kurdish militias that were coming into Deir ez Zor to look for Armenians that were escaping.”