Gabriela Montero joins Venezuela peace concert

Gabriela Montero joins Venezuela peace concert


norman lebrecht

March 10, 2014

venezuela concert

This is the striking poster for Carlos Izcaray’s forthcoming freedom concert in Berlin. It’s a protest against government-sponsored violence and oppression in his native country. The pianist Gabriela Montero will fly in specially for the event.


  • ed says:

    How about a concert against the opposition sponsored violence, violence that started prior to 2002 and has not stopped since then? And now that we are on the subject, how about the opposition sponsored violence in Ukraine- I didn’t see government riot police burning buses or killing their own- or the Al Qaeda in Syria, or the evisceration of Libya. There is a pattern to all of this that the sponsors of this concert should be cognizant of but are conveniently ignoring. Why not make it a concert against any violence, and for the human rights of all?

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      Progressives: defending anti-American goons since 1917.

    • Nelson Armitano says:

      Do you speak based on what? … Have you been living in Venezuela since 2002, or for that matter, for the las fifteen years? Do you have proof of what you call “Opposition sponsored violence” – videos, photos, names of the victims, etc? .. Because, let me tell you, we, the opposition, do and the world has seen it daily and on real time, in some instances. Do you know of opposition demonstrators carrying arms? Lastly, and not least important, in which world have you been living? You must, either a left/communist dreamer or a member of the new Bolivarian oligarchy or ‘nomenclatura’ ; because otherwise how else could you say such nonsense and believe it, yet.

  • This concert is one-sided hypocracy, to be sure, since it ignores the role the United States has long played in creating political instablity in Latin America, including Venuzuela.

    The Mayan genocide in Guatemala is just one of countless examples of the fuller picture. The Mayans were mostly farmers in the interior jungle areas. They were thought to be supporters of the EPO revolutionaries, so about 300,000 Mayans were systematically murdered by US backed, trained, armed, and funded death squads.

    626 villages were attacked. Over 300 villages were entirely razed. The inhabitants were often raped and tortured before being killed. Children were murdered as readily as adults, often by taking them by their feet and slamming their heads against walls, or by dropping them into wells.

    The genocide reached its height between 1981-1983 due to close support offered by the Reagan administration. So many Mayans were mass murdered during this period that the jungle overgrew their farms and massively changed even the satellite photos of Guatemala. The Yale University Genocide Studies Program has provided the satellite images on its website, which you can see here:

    These events were largely ignored by the corporate media so that even today many are not aware of it. It is thus often referred to as “The Silent Holocaust.” Symbolic of the barbarism was that some members of the death squads wore necklaces made of baby skulls because they thought it brought them good luck. The funding for the death squads came from the USA. Almost all of the officers and many members were trained at Fort Benning, Georgia.

    It is sad and disgusting to see the extent to which Ms. Montero and her husband are participating in this propaganda.

    • Sam McElroy says:

      Sometimes I just want to scream the roof down, or go to the gym and hit the heavy bag until I put a hole it it.

      Conscientious musicians are fighting, spending sleepless nights struggling to find ways to release their fellow citizens from Cuban-orchestrated oppression, censorship, economic meltdown, a murder epidemic and corruption among the worst on earth, statistics which were brought about by 15 years of so-called “Revolution”. The facts are out there for all to google! More Venezuelans have been murdered in the streets in the past three years (65,000!!!) than US soldiers killed in the entire Vietnam war (a comparison for the sake of perspective – I don’t want an essay about Vietnam, thank you!).

      One of those musicians, Carlos Izcaray – who is humble enough not even to include his name on the poster above – is a conductor who himself was arrested, detained for days without charge, electrocuted, burned with cigarettes, smeared with the raw ingredients of tear gas, beaten, and assaulted with a loaded Glock while being forced to sing pro-revolution songs. Why? Because he was walking home from a concert. The other has seen her family members repeatedly kidnapped at gunpoint for ransom, and her 73 year-old father threatened at gun point in recent weeks by an entire armed gang. Her hard-working brother (14 hours a day, 7 days a week for 20 years building a meat factory) is facing the prospect of exile with a wife and two kids, starting over at 43 in another country because the one he has worked so hard to contribute to is shutting down private enterprise, destroying local currency, and creating a security nightmare in which children are no more safe than anyone else.

      Yet STILL, people like the commentators here in cozy armchairs spew forth the same old “propaganda” nonsense, that it is ethically unjustifiable to protest this particular brutality because other brutalities proceeded it, and in other parts of the world, and that presumably to focus on one area is not only to ignore the others but to somehow, in a perversion of logic, justify them. What deplorable rubbish!

      YES, there have been other dreadful atrocities all over the world, all through history! YES they were awful! YES, they continue today in other parts of the world! YES YES YES YES YES! But if you deplore such brutality so much, WHY do you oppose those who are trying their best to end brutality in this particular rotten corner of the globe? What are trying so hard to defend? These people are fighting to save a nation, for the good of the entire nation! Not for the middle and upper classes! Not for US interests! Not for capitalist corporations! Not for concert or career publicity! But because they are fed up of seeing their fellow citizens GUNNED DOWN IN THE STREETS WITH IMPUNITY in what has become a narco-kleptocratic inferno, while the necrotic myth of “Revolution!” is kept on life-support and perpetuated by deluded fools in Che Guevara t-shirts and self-interested sycophants!

      How about applauding them, and letting them get on with the job of ending the very brutality and nepotistic self-enrichment-by-theft that you so rightly despise elsewhere across time and cultures, and that you would not put up with for one damned second if it was thrust upon YOU!

      • The reason many people have made such comments is because the protest appears so one-sided. Historically, many leftist regimes have been replaced in Latin America through US intervention, usually through coups, and invariably they were worse than the previous government.

        Who are the protest leaders in Venezuela and what is their political platform? Why should we trust that they will alleviate problems in Venezuela that are endemic throughout Latin America? The crime in V. is not so different from many other countries in Latin America. No Latin American country has been able to nationalize any of its resources or create better patterns in the distribution of wealth without the US overthrowing its government. What facts can be established to alleviate the concerns of many that the US is playing a hand in these protests and that the motives are economic? Why is there so little documented information about Cubans taking over Venezuela — especially since that is something no Venezuelan would accept for a second.

        These are the questions that need to be answered with documented facts to lend credibility to your efforts. The concerts and protests you are leading or participating in need to be backed up with carefully reasoned and documented political arguments. We want to believe you, but you need to give us something to go on.

        • Sam McElroy says:

          Here’s something to go on:

          MADURO HIMSELF, on relationship with Cuba:

          MURDER RATE: Venezuelan Observatory on Violence (OVV). 2011 – 19,336 dead. 2012 – 21,692 dead. 2013 – 24,763 dead. Nothing like the rest of Latin America, as per your claim. Only Honduras and El Salvador, in Central America, have higher national murder rates. Again, are Venezuela’s figures acceptable because they are only the fifth worst in the world, because there are four places even MORE barbaric? You persist with your “comparison downwards” logic, as noted in your first post. I would like to give you the OVV link, but the site has been shut down under state censorship in recent days. Searches link instead to a pro-Maduro manifesto. However, others reported the numbers before the site was closed down: this from The Economist, but there are plenty more if you are dislike that publication. Take your pick.

          CORRUPTION: Transparency International Corruption Index. 160th from a class of 177 nations. 2 out of ten score. Down there on the bottom of the list, even behind relative beacons of virtue like Zimbabwe. The word “correlation” leaps to mind.

          OIL PRODUCTION: On mismanagement: “Venezuela’s clout on OPEC and on world oil prices has been greatly diminished because of its inability to exploit its enormous resources,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, a consultancy. “In the 1990s, their production was booming and they could thumb their nose at Saudi Arabia and get away with it, but now they have become OPEC’s poor cousin.”

          INFLATION: 56% (despite sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves during an oil commodities boom)

          OVERVIEW: (from left-leaning UK broadsheet, The Guardian, by former Chavez devotee, Rory Carroll)

          As for the personal torture allegations, maybe ask conductor Carlos Izcaray to send you some pictures. He will. And in general, maybe talk to some Venezuelans. They live there.

          I’m glad you asked for evidence. Now that you have it, maybe start giving these brave, principled people the credit and respect they deserve. This is my last word.

          • What I see in these articles are descriptions of crime that are endemic in Latin America, not just Venezuela. And yet the focus is solely on Venezuela, and in publications like the Economist and New York Times that are closely associated with corporate America.

            And I see descriptions of economic problems such as inflation and problems with oil production that are very characteristic of the economic manipulation the American government has long used to undermine Latin American countries that nationalize resources. Anyone familiar with the region’s history has to remain skeptical.

            And I see a video describing close relations with Cuba, but no evidence that Cuba is somehow undermining Venezuela. On the other hand, informed people are aware of the U.S.’s long history of brutal irrationality concerning Cuba.

            The unreliability of our media is a big problem, and a challenge the Venezuelan protesters face. People wonder why 300,000 Mayans could be mass murdered by US backed, trained, and funded death squads and we hear almost nothing about it, but when a Latin American country nationalizes its resources its weaknesses are cried to the heavens and everything possible is done to undermine the country.

            So one has to ask, why are you being a part of this?

            Still, these articles are a start toward reasoned argument, even if there are still enormous hurdles to be crossed for those aware of Latin America’s history. Again, who are the protest leaders? What is their political platform? Why should we trust they are not being backed by American intelligence agencies, given history of such behavior by the U.S. government?

            All that said, I admire the integrity you and Gabriella have in speaking out. Dudamel clearly supports the Chavezitas, but by remaining silent and evasive, he is showing less integrity. I suppose it’s hard to blame him. If he openly showed his support, he would soon find his career dwindling. Izcaray and Gabriella will suffer no such problems for their stance. Such is the nature of free speech in America, which is why it’s hard to discern the truth in situations like this.

        • Pete says:

          According to the “Prosperity Index for 2013” (see ), Ecuador, Venezuela, and Bolivia are the lowest ranked countries on South America for personal freedom and economic growth. Bolivia’s El Presidente is Evo Morales, a bad actor in the tradition of Chavez.

          For comparison purposes, Canada is the highest ranked county in all of the Americas, and Haiti the lowest. Cuba doesn’t even make the list.

          The highest ranking countries in South America for prosperity are Uruguay and Chile. Not Surprisingly, Chile is the highest ranking economy of South America on the list. And to the probable dismay of communistas and Allendeista’s everywhere, Santiago de Chile is also now the luxury capital of South America surpassing Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.

          Argentina, with its wealth of natural resources, one might expect to be higher on the list, but its ranking has fallen in recent years. Argentina has seen a succession of leftist regimes and bad socialist policies ever since the Perons. And now, with capital controls and rampant inflation under the current president, Argentina’s slide continues. And they didn’t need the CIA to help them. They f***ed Argentina all by themselves.

      • José Bergher says:

        I applaud and fully support Maestro Carlos Izcaray’s project for March 16th.

        This is a letter I wrote ten years ago about what had happened to Izcaray here in Caracas, Venezuela. The letter was published in the April 2004 issue of Allegro Magazine (Local 802, American Federation of Musicians).


        To the Editor:

        My colleague Carlos Izcaray, principal cellist of Orquesta Sinfónica Venezuela, was kidnapped and savagely beaten and tortured by National Guardsmen, in Caracas, Venezuela on March 1.

        Izcaray was standing in the street close to his home, watching a demonstration against Hugo Chávez’ regime. Several National Guardsmen approached him. He explained that he was just a spectator, but they beat him up, threw tear gas in his face, arrested him, put him in a military vehicle and took him to headquarters, even after he told them he was the principal cellist of the orchestra and guest conductor for the week. They beat him up some more and applied electricity to his neck and head, and tear gas directly to his face. They also burned cigarettes on his skin and kept beating him up. His lawyer was not allowed to see him at all. But somebody at headquarters took pity on Izcaray and let him make a phone call. This probably saved Izcaray’s life. He was finally released on Tuesday at 1 p.m.

        Izcaray is in the hospital recovering from his many injuries and from dehydration He does not want to go home, as the National Guardsmen threatened to kill him if he said anything to the media.

        Most Venezuelans want the dictator Chávez and his henchmen to step down. His many attempts at sabotaging a referendum have unleashed demonstrations all over the country. To stop them, Chávez has used the National Guard, paramilitary gangs, and the police forces of some cities. Results so far: 11 demonstrators dead; 1,758 wounded, at least nine (among them Izcaray) tortured, and 410 political prisoners. Venezuela’s ambassador to the UN just resigned in protest against these violations of human rights.

        –José Bergher

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      An irrelevant, and-you-are-lynching-Negroes red herring to divert responsibility for Venezuela’s problems from where it belongs: squarely on the Chavez-Maduro government.

      Forget the fevered progressive fantasies about plots by the CIA (an organization that couldn’t find its own pecker if Miss Universe was holding the mirror), the easiest way to hurt a one-product economy like Venezuela’s is to stop buying its oil. US imports of oil from Venezuela have fallen to a 28-year low, supplanted by increased domestic and Canadian production ( No US purchases, no dollars for Venezuela. No dollars, no imports. No imports, no toilet paper, milk, etc.

  • José Bergher says:

    To the Editor.- The comment I just posted should be placed right after Sam McElroy’s

    (March 10, 2014 at 6:04 pm). Many thanks.

  • A brief look at some past CIA operations might help people understand why the protests against the Chavistas should be viewed with at least some skepticism. On October 15, 1984, Associated Press reported that the Central Intelligence Agency had written a manual for the Nicaraguan Contras (then involved in a civil war with the Nicaraguan government), entitled Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare (Operaciones sicológicas en guerra de guerrillas). The ninety-page book of instructions focused mainly on how “Armed Propaganda Teams” could build political support in Nicaragua for the Contra cause through deceit, intimidation, and violence.

    The manual discussed assassinations and recommended “selective use of violence for propagandistic effects” and to “neutralize” (i.e., kill) government officials.

    The manual also encouraged Nicaraguan Contras to:

    “lead demonstrators into clashes with the authorities, to provoke riots or shootings, which lead to the killing of one or more persons, who will be seen as the martyrs; this situation should be taken advantage of immediately against the Government to create even bigger conflicts.”

    A smaller 15 page version of the publication entitled, “The Freedom Fighter’s Manual” was manufactured by the United States Central Intelligence Agency and airdropped over Nicaragua in 1983. It describes many ways in which the average citizen could disrupt the everyday workings of the government such as hiding or destroying important tools and calling in sick for work.

    One of the most disgusting suggestions is that citizens go to the restrooms or kitchens in the top floors of buildings, clog the lavatory drains and leave the water running so that the floors below are flooded.

    The manual also instructed people to steal food from the government, release livestock from farming cooperatives, make false reports of fires and crimes, and sever telephone lines. Four pages are devoted to disabling vehicles. By the end of the pamphlet, there are detailed diagrams showing how to make Molotov cocktails and use them to firebomb police stations.

    More details and a wide range of documentation can be found in these two Wiki articles:

    It is not unreasonable to suspect that the CIA is currently involved in similar practices in Venezuela.

  • William Osborne

    dropped his spoon

    having soup

    under the moon

    “T’was surely CIA,

    with their magnetron

    that’s their way!”

    William Osborne

    wrote a tune

    Call me liar

    from a Chilean dune

    “But I smelled

    the pepper spray!”

    “show me proof

    if so you say!”

    William Osborne

    Me? opportune?

    Caring for pain

    A thing of loons?

    Must I a tyrant

    always obey?

    “Now I know!

    you’re NSA!”

    William Osborne

    wants not to attune

    Concert for Liberty?

    imperialist saloon?

    Man, come on!

    Are you so stray?

    Maybe there’s

    a little grey?

    William Osborn

    he’s immune

    a one man

    lefty-book platoon!

    “Stop that rubbish,

    that’s child’s play!

    Fidel Castro

    Hip hip Hurray!!!!!”

  • José Bergher says:

    Last night 23-year-old Oscar David Adjunta, flutist and professor of flute in the Carora (Venezuela) branch of Venezuela’s National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras (widely known as El Sistema), left an orchestra rehearsal and as he was going home he was mugged and beaten by one of the criminal gangs that are sponsored and armed by Venezuela’s dictatorial regime. He tried to escape but ran into a bunch of National Guardsmen (known affectionately as NaZIonal Guardsmen), who savagely beat him some more. The Carora orchestra’s conductor is Maestro Felipe Izcaray, Carlos Izcaray’s father.

  • ed says:

    Carlos & Sam, why not address the points Mr. Osborne has raised? These are very legitimate issues and provide needed context.

    • Pete says:


      I”m at a loss.

      Exactly what legitimate issues has Mr. Osborne raised in this discussion?

      • Here is the most important issue I have raised: Given the history of US intervention in Latin America that I have outlined, why should we assume that the U.S. is not, at least in considerable part, behind the destabilizing the country?

        Other issues include: Who are the protest leaders? What is their political platform? How do they propose to lower crime in Venezuela? What proposals do they have for improving the economy?

        • Pete says:

          ….why should we assume that the U.S. is not, at least in considerable part, behind the destabilizing the country?

          Well, have you noticed lately who is President and who is the Secretary of State? Not to mention Obama’s tepid response to the demonstrations in Tehran several years ago.

          The US State Dept. has denied any involvement in fomenting the protests in Venezuela.

      • Sam McElroy says:

        ed… I already answered them above. Please read the whole thread. Mr. Osborne’s “Distraction Tango” is a broken record. He gives it yet another spin below. Same argument, same deflection to other histories and geographies. Already addressed by me above.

        And while I am addressing you, per your first comment, do some research on the figures. In 2002, the murder rate in Venezuela was around 4,000 per year. Last year it was at 25,000, with 93% impunity. That’s a 500% increase. Of course Mr. Osborne will both mislead and justify at the same time, by claiming those figures to be in line with the rest of South America, as though that would justify such barbarism. But they are not. Do the research. Caracas is now the world’s most deadly capital city. A murder is committed in Venezuela once every 21 seconds. Only El Salvador and Honduras – bastions of civility both – can outdo Venezuela in street horror. And this degradation has taken place under Chavez, spurred on by his rhetoric of hatred and division that filled the airwaves for hours at a time, every day of the week, across state-controlled media.

        But hey, let’s blame the CIA!

        Over and out. I will leave Mr. Osborne to dig into his CIA almanac and tell us all how they blocked the toilets in Nicaragua, circa 1984. Because that is far more enlightening than the personal testimonies of those living this crisis, including Carlos Izcaray who carries the scars of Venezuelan state torture on his own flesh.

        Over to you, Mr. Osborne. Be a doll. Give us the “Distraction Tango”, just once more…

        • Caracas does not has the highest murder rate in Latin America. The highest rates are in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. See:

          Even if surveys might vary, the point is established that high crime rates are pandemic in Latin America and not unique to Venezuela.

          I’ve listed very specific questions above. Note that they are not being answered.

          • Sam McElroy says:

            CAPITAL city, I said, very clearly. Neither hell-hole you mention is a capital city, but provincial drug dens, run by the most despicable local cartels and gangs known to man.

            Again, a justification and distraction by comparing with the very worst, most hellish dumps on earth… Bravo, Mr. Osborne! Keep that record playing!

        • A murder is committed in Venezuela every 21 minutes, not every 21 seconds. See:

          What are the protester’s proposals for lowering the severe crime problem in Venezuela? This would help us better understand your position, Sam.

          The Brookings Institute has a good article about crime in Venezuela and its sources. It’s key point is that the issue is complex, that it is baffling sociologists, and that facile conclusions should be avoided. See:

          BTW, Sam, Juarez is by no means a provincial city. It’s pop. is 1.5 million.

          • Sam McElroy says:

            – My mistake: indeed, every 21 minutes, or 25,000 per year, or the population-adjusted equivalent of 350,000 murders a year in the US (there are currently 14,000 or so).

            Read that again. Imagine 350,000 murders per year in the US, or 50,000 per year in the UK. This is the scale of the epidemic the Venezuelans are dealing with.

            – Juarez is not a capital city, whatever its population. It is at the epicenter of a major drugs war, the primary context of most of the murders committed there, under the control of the cartels. But again, where is the relevance? Caracas is not only a capital city, and the world’s deadliest, but it is the capital city of the world’s most oil-rich nation, at a time of booming oil prices. Its disintegration, both social and economic, is a failure of epic scale, and underpinned by corruption on an unprecedented scale.

            – This film might shed some light on the extent of the social problems, shot in 2011. Things have deteriorated much further since then:


            – Or this investigative piece: “Hugo Chavez, The Great Lie” (in french)


          • Yes, I understand. Such errors are easy to make in the course of discussion. Capital cities or not, we see that crime is pandemic in Latin America and not something specific to the Maduro government. Like a number of Latin American countries, Venezuela is also involved with the drug trade, especially as a transit point, which is one of many factors causing the crime problem. (I discuss the many factors that contribute to the crime problem in one of my first posts above.)

            As the Brookings Institute notes, “61% of the Venezuelan population thinks that crime is the country’s most important concern, the highest figure in Latin America. But it was already the most important concern, by a long margin, in 2006, right before President Chavez was comfortably reelected.”

            In spite of the serious crime problem, the majority of Venezuelans still support the government. The protesters need to explain their proposals for ending crime, and why they are better than the large efforts the government is already taking such as the formation of new police battalions referred.

            Also to be considered is the Universidad Nacional Experimental de la Seguridad founded in 2009. It specializes in providing training for Venezuelan police and security forces, in particular the new Policía Nacional Bolivariana. The university is part of a new system proposed by the 2006 report of the Comisión Nacional para la Reforma Policial. The university is centered around CONAREPOL’ recommendations that the police should be specifically trained in human rights, and have a greater emphasis on crime prevention.

            I can definitely understand not liking the Chavistas, but the government is very aware of the political threats it has long faced due to high crime rates and is making major efforts. The danger, on both sides of the debate, is to think that such massive problems that are endemic to Latin America can be changed by facile, partisan conclusions. Historical precedents show that if the government were overthrown political instability would be even worse, and the new regime even more repressive. The Venezuelan people would almost certainly face even higher levels of suffering, poverty, and death.

    • Dear Ed,

      Surely there are some valid points here and there. But this is not a question of legitimacy of information. It’s a simple question of relevance. Do you actually expect me to engage in a zig-zagish Socratic debate about South American geopolitical data when I am an actual torture victim myself? Please, get serious man! I really can’t do much for people who don’t care for someone going through what I did a decade ago. Are you one of those too? Additionally, it’s also just plainly rude to call someone a hypocrite on speculative terms. So I suggest you do your real homework and get past the pamphlets.

      In any case, I actually believe I addressed the issues you mentioned, but perhaps you don’t like my style. Bummer. Some people get it, some people don’t. Regarding your call for a concert for human rights, what exactly do you think this upcoming event is? Oh, gosh! I’ve asked the question! Please God help me if I get some kind of Osbornish answer here.

      Speaking of which! To the lefty-bookworm Osborne: Ha! We’ll see next Sunday if I’ve got nothing to say or show! But I’ll do it in front of actual open minded individuals with a heart. And in a city full of vibrancy, history and relevance. These guys here seem to have gone through it all, hence I’m placing my bets on them. You do make an emphasis on proof. Well, from all the postings I’ve forced myself to read just above, you’ve ‘proven’ to be just too old, lost, and arrogant to be lectured on issues such as human rights and overall morality. Much less on what an actual democracy is. Waste of time, Sir.

      Keep on the click click click click, though. It’s actually amusing!…


  • They aren’t answering because they can’t address the issues I raise and maintain their views.

    There will probably be a successful coup in Venezuela within the next few years – if not sooner. Nicolas Maduro is less wily and brutal than Chavez, which makes the country an easier target. If history is any indication, the counter-revolution will involve mass murder. The question is what form this will take. These are examples of the historical precedents in Latin America in order of severity:

    1. The sabotage of the Sandinistas. Through civil war, civil disruption, and terror, the Sandinistas were pushed out of power in Nicaragua. The US helped form various rebel groups collectively known as the Contras to oppose the Sandinistas. These forces engaged in a systematic campaign of terror to disrupt the social reform projects of the Sandinistas. This included the destruction of health centers, schools and cooperatives. There was also large scale murder, rape and torture in Contra dominated areas. The contras also carried out a campaign of economic sabotage (as I describe in an previous post above) and disrupted shipping by planting underwater mines in Nicaragua’s Port of Corinto. The US also imposed a full trade embargo. These actions effectively weakened the Sandinistas and they lost their political support. For details of the US actions against the Sandinistas see:

    2. Pinchot’s mass executions and Caravan of Death. The Rettig Commission put the count of murdered individuals at approximately 3,000 during Pinochet’s 17-year rule. Especially traumatic was that during a three week period between September 30 and October 22, 1973, special forces flew around the country and murdered about 100 political, military, and cultural leaders seen as opponents of the regime. This became known as the Caravan of Death. The goal was to terrorize political resistance, since many of the victims had voluntarily turned themselves in to the military authorities, were all in secured military custody and posed no immediate threat because they had no history of violence, nor were threatening to commit any such violence. To further the terror, the victims were often severely tortured and mutilated before being murdered. Pinochet was strongly backed by the USA which had full knowledge of the mass murder. For more info see:

    3. The Disappeared of Argentina. During Argentina’s Dirty War and Operation Condor, between 22,000 to 30,000 people were kidnapped by the junta and secretly murdered. Many of the captives were heavily drugged and loaded onto aircraft, from which they were thrown alive while in flight over the Atlantic Ocean, so as to leave no trace of their death. The junta was backed by the USA which had full knowledge of the mass murder. Henry Kissinger, the US Secretary of State at the time, famously encouraged the junta to complete the executions as quickly as possible. For more details see:

    4. Civil War and Death Squads in El Salvador. About 75,000 people died in this war between the military-led government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a coalition of five left-wing guerrilla groups. The war included assignations of political leaders, “disappearings,” mass executions, death squads, and the recruitment of child soldiers. There were human rights abuses on both sides, but they predominated with the US backed junta. In February 1980 Archbishop Óscar Romero published an open letter to US President Jimmy Carter in which he pleaded with him to suspend the United States’ ongoing program of military aid to the Salvadoran regime. He advised Carter that “Political power is in the hands of the armed forces. They know only how to repress the people and defend the interests of the Salvadoran oligarchy.” Romero was assassinated shortly afterwards. Five nuns were also executed. These events led to strong political repercussions in the USA against support for the junta. To this day, there are large yearly protests at Fort Benning, Georgia on the day of Romero’s assassination led by Catholic groups (who are also joined by a large number of Protestants.) For more details see:

    5. Genocide in Guatemala. See my above post which describes these events in some details.

    The most likely scenario in the coming months or years will be a steady weakening of the Chavistas with tactics similar to those used against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

    If the Contra approach doesn’t work, or if the opportunity presents itself, there will be a coup, similar to the one the US instigated against the Chavez in 2002. If the coup is successful, the mass murder that will likely follow will probably be similar to the events in Chile and Argentina described above. There will be quick executions of Chavista leaders along the lines of Pinochet’s Caravan of Death. This will be followed with longer term, secret disappearings of military, political, intellectual, and cultural leaders who oppose the junta. A military junta will return Venezuela’s oil fields to multi-national corporations.

    My mind recoils at all of this horror. I’d still like to think that the Chavistas will allow a democratic opposition and that they will be able to form some sort of parliamentary government based on coalitions of political views. Sadly, this is unlikely because even in a genuinely democratic system, the Chavistas will likely still hold the leadership. The US government will thus be more concerned with exterminating the Chavista leadership, thus making a democratic form of government impossible.

    • Leo says:

      Mr. Osborne so clearly misses the point in thinking Venezuela is just another country in Central America or just another example of a popular (populist) government in the south cone. His whole “analysis” reminds me of that hard-but-true reality I faced when I first went to college in the US: to the US establishment and also to many “intellectuals” there the same diagnosis, and the same prescription can be applied to any country, anywhere south of the Rio Grande, it’s all the same down there, cuz they speak Spanish, are poor and have always been exploited… yes; I am oversimplifying, but in the end, we all know the drill, from which many benefit in different ways and from dissimilar vantage points.

      As others have pointed out already, nothing should justify the economic, moral and social disaster that we Venezuelans have to live in our own flesh every day. The destruction of the economy has been self-imposed Mr. For example, no one forced Chavez and then Maduro to make it unfeasible for most private small and medium enterprises (hopefully you will all agree these are the engine of any healthy economy) to survive. more than 80% of the country’s private enterprises have shut down in the past 10 years. It is NOT true that the same trends we see in Venezuela are seen elsewhere in Latin America. Not when we talk about inflation, currency devaluation, loss of the population’s purchasing power, loss of productivity, real employment, etc, etc. Look at Chile, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, Panama, among others. What do they have that Venezuela doesn’t? Do you see people standing in line for 4 hours to buy basic groceries in any of those countries? There is little to compare between the way those economies have performed in the last 10-15 years and the way the Venezuelan economy has. Then, it is easy to understand the rest. Crime and other social demons are only the effect of failed economic policy and outright promotion of violence and impunity from irresponsible leaders (it is ok to steal if you are hungry, said by a president on national TV).

      The Venezuelan opposition has laid out their proposals to start getting the country back on track. These could even seem too basic to be true, but this is the point where we are now. There are proposals, and there have been for some time now, to try to improve things (this gets harder with time, as the destruction is only getting worse).

      And to finalize these quick thoughts: NO Mr. Osbourne, with all due respect (to you and them), Venezuelans are NOT Salvadorians, Guatemalans, or even Colombians. There is a reason why there was not a significant guerrilla movement in the country despite its closeness to the main focus back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. It was because it never really had popular support like it did in other Latin American countries. We Venezuelans like to live peacefully and, despite the latest failed media coverage (failed because it, for the most part, neglects to reflect the true nature of the protests) people protesting on the streets really do it because they feel the hardship in their own flesh and see their future stolen from them by incompetent policies, corruption and overall institutional crisis. We Venezuelans know that we, and only we (our political establishment pre-1998, much of the so-called “civil society” including the intellectual “elite” the so-called “notables” of the early 90’s) are to blame for all that has been happening in our country in the last 15 years. One needs to really study and know Venezuelan history to understand what is going on now. It is nothing like the history of its neighbors, let alone the history of countries to which our main and arguably only similarity is our native tongue.

      It is true that great interests are at stake, but let’s be real, Venezuela does represent a lot more to Cuba and to some extent China and other countries than to the US. As I recently read, after 9/11 the US “abandoned Latin America to its own fate”… some years later, and by undermining its own economy, the Venezuelan regime caved its own grave and there is no CIA to blame for that. Incompetence, corruption and thoughtless ideology are to blame.

      • It is the uniformity and consistency of American behavior I have described, and not that of Latin American countries where there is obviously wide variation.

        The Venezuelan government has no doubt caused economic problems, but we see a pattern that is very complex. I cannot think of any Latin American country that has nationalized its resources that hasn’t seen forms of economic intervention by the USA to undermine its economy. This ranges from extremes such as embargos to much more subtle forms of manipulation. Based on ample historical precedent, as I describe above, it is quite reasonable to think the USA is working to compound the economic problems in Venezuela and to exploit them for the purpose of regime change.

        We should also remember that the Maduro government is still supported by the majority of Venezuelans in spite of outside efforts to destabilize the country..

  • Felipe Izcaray says:

    The problem, Ed is that it has been answered already, thoroughly, by Sam McElroy, with plenty of examples, links to pages, statistics, and the answer will always be the same: USA, CIA, FBI, NSA, etc. The only way to live what we are living is being here, not in front of a computer in Maine, Australia or Belfast. All the thongs Sam cited (Bless his soul) are absolutely true. If a young musician leaves a rehearsal is mugged and beaten by thughs, runs away end seeks protection from National Guards, only tobe kicked, beaten by those soldiers together with their friendly thugs, and saved by another thug who happened to be an ex-member of the youth orchestra, what should I say to Osborne? He will surely tell me I need to provide proof of the infamous assault, notarized and apostilled by the Haghe Convention. The weapons these thugs and their comrade soldiers use are mostly Russian. You want proof Cubans are in this country? Pay us a visit, go to a Notary office, to a Public Out clinic, to other public offices, to Military facilities, Seaport administrations. This is if you make it there alive, Pay the Caracas Morgue a visit on a monday morning. ….” Oh! No! , This is a common Latin American Issue.” IT IS NOT!!!! There is 93% impunity in hard crimes in this country, this said by the government itself, not by the opposition. Most murders never go to trial, unless is somebody famous and hurts PR. So, it is useless to discuss with a monotone ostinato. (US, CIA, THE MAYAS, THE THERMOPILES WAR, ATTILA, THE PHILISTEES, NAPOLEON, never your local dictator. By the way, Why not cite interventions such as Stalin’s and his heirs in half Europe for decades?