27.10.09

Google confirms online reputation management

In August I wrote a post post about Google being the ultimate propaganda tool of Hugo Chavez. That post certainly riled some true believers, however, to their detriment, Google came out of the woods and admitted the existence of it,  providing a few tips on how to counter “bad press”, which is basically a rehash of what I argued and has been vox populi for a while:
Now, I am perfectly aware of how easy it is to move results up and down Google rank, having done it for years, simply by creating Google-friendly pages with keywords and content specifically related to terms/issues about which one wants one’s pages to appear on top.
Now that my claims have been vindicated, I would like to offer online reputation management services to the many who may need it. Not long ago I purchased a domain called ungoogle.net, which I will, hopefully, launch soon enough.

22.10.09

Olavo de Carvalho explains Lula and the Sao Paulo Forum


Recent events in Honduras demonstrate, clearer than any other problematic political situation in Latin America, the moral fickleness of the so called international community and the media. For that country’s independent and sovereign institutions, read the Supreme Court, the Attorney General’s Office and Congress, ruled, unanimously in the case of Congress, in favor of removing Manuel Zelaya from power, owing to his violations to Honduras constitution. This crucial fact notwithstanding, we have seen universal condemnation of the new administration of Honduras. It comes relentless from all quarters, from all locations, from across parties, it is an issue that has exemplified, like no other, the essence of what unelected world government means. To hell with local authorities, to hell with rulings from local people’s representatives in Congress, for it is the ‘will of the world’ that a man who was trying to do away with democracy, be reinstated in power, as if nothing had happened.


But if the reaction of the international community as a whole is not proof enough of collective stupidity and utter racism, the actions of Brazil, in its open interference in Honduran affairs, is something to behold, not least because is doing it so brazenly, before the eyes of the world, and all one could hear about is praise for the Brazilian president, the Latino version of Obama as far as personality cults are concerned. This is not the first time Lula shamelessly sticks his imperial self in the internal politics of other countries, as we Venezuelans are painfully aware. Lula, whose rag to riches sort of ascent to power from lowly union ranks has captured the imagination of one too many sycophants, continues to be referred to in uncritical terms, as the saviour of the new Latin-American left. Lula represents the “good left, the progressive left”, that left which, totally uncalled for, forces its way into the sovereign affairs of nations, to the delight and thunderous applause of the media and the international community. Therefore given current coverage, I thought pertinent to call upon someone who does know Lula, who has followed his career, a fellow from Brazil who actually knows what he’s talking about, and ask him a few questions. What follows is my interview to Olavo de Carvalho.


—Perhaps you remember Olavo that, in November 2005, we were part of a small group of people who were invited to brief former US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Tom Shannon, about the political situation in our respective countries. I do remember, very vividly, your warnings about Lula during that particular meeting. With the passing of time, I must say how pleasantly surprised I am with the turn of perception vis-a-vis Hugo Chavez. Mind you, in November 2005, the DoS still harboured the notion that he was a democrat, purportedly just like Lula. However, recent developments in Honduras show that Lula is as keen on interfering in other countries internal affairs, as his Venezuelan counterpart. Yet one would be hard pressed to conclude, by way of how mass media portrays the Brazilian president, that such is in fact the case. For this reason, taking into account that you are Brazilian, and that you have been following your country's politics for longer than most reporters are aware of Lula's very own existence, I would like to ask you a few things about him, starting with: why do you think the media is given him such benign treatment? Most analysts and media types believe that Lula is a moderate, a democrat. How do you reconcile that with, for instance, the foundation by Lula, at Fidel Castro's personal request, of the Foro de Sao Paulo (FSP)?


There is nothing there to be properly reconciled. The image and the reality, in that case, are in complete contradiction to each other. The legend of Lula, as a democrat and a moderate, only holds up thanks to the suppression of the most important fact of his political biography, the foundation of the São Paulo Forum. This suppression, in some cases, is fruit of genuine ignorance; but in others, it is a premeditated cover-up. Council of Foreign Relations’ expert on Brazilian issues, Kenneth Maxwell, even got to the point of openly denying the mere existence of the Forum, being confirmed in this by another expert on the subject, Luiz Felipe de Alencastro, also at a conference at the CFR. I do not need to emphasize the weight that CFR’s authority carries with opinion-makers in the United States. When such an institution denies the most proven and documented facts of Latin American history of the last decades, few journalists will have the courage of taking the side of facts against the argument of authority. Thus, the São Paulo Forum, which is the vastest and most powerful political body that has ever existed in Latin America, goes on unknown to the American and, by the way, also worldwide public opinion. This fact being suppressed, the image of Lula as a democrat and a moderate does indeed acquire some verisimilitude. Note that it was not only in the United States that the media has covered up the existence and the activities of the Forum. In Brazil, even though I published the complete minutes of the assemblies of that entity, and frequently quoted them in my column in the prestigious newspaper O Globo, from Rio de Janeiro, the rest of the national media en masse either kept silent, or ostensibly contradicted me, accusing me of being a radical and a paranoid. When at last President Lula himself let the cat out of the bag and confessed to everything, his speech, published on the president’s official website, was not even mentioned in any newspaper or TV news show. Shortly afterwards, however, the name “São Paulo Forum” was incorporated into video advertisements of the ruling party, becoming thus impossible to go on denying the obvious. Then, they moved on to the tactic of harm management, proclaiming, against all evidence, that the São Paulo Forum was only a debate club, with no decisional power at all. The minutes of the assemblies denied it in the most vehement manner, showing that discussions ended up becoming resolutions, unanimously signed by the members present. Debate clubs do not pass resolutions. What’s more, the same presidential speech I have just mentioned also disclosed the decisive role that the Forum played in the sense of putting and keeping Mr. Hugo Chávez in power in Venezuela. Nowadays, in Brazil, nobody ignores that I told the truth about the São Paulo Forum and the rest of the media lied.


On the other hand, it is clear that Lula and his party, being the founders and the strategic centre of the Forum, had to keep a low profile, leaving to more peripheral members, like Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales, the flashiest or most scandalous part of the job. Hence, the false impression that there are “two lefts” in Latin America, one democratic and moderate, and the other radical and authoritarian. There are two lefts, indeed, but they are rather the one that commands, and the other that follows the first’s orders and thereby risks its own reputation. All that the Latin American left has done in the last nineteen years was previously discussed and decided in the Forum’s assemblies, which Lula presided over, either directly until 2002, or through his deputy, Marco Aurélio Garcia, afterwards. The strategic command of the Communist revolution in Latin America is neither in Venezuela, nor in Bolivia, nor even in Cuba. It is in Brazil.


Once the fact of the existence of the São Paulo Forum was suppressed, what has given even more artificial credibility to the legend of the “two lefts” was that the Lula administration, very cunningly, concentrated its subversive efforts upon the field of education, culture, and moral rules, which only affect the local population, prudently keeping, at the same time, an “orthodox” economic policy that calmed down foreign investors and projected a good image of the country to international banks (a double-faced strategy inspired, by the way, in Lenin himself). Thus, both the subversion of the Brazilian society and the revolutionary undertakings of the São Paulo Forum managed, under a thick layer of praise for President Lula, to pass unnoticed by the international public opinion. Nothing can illustrate better the duplicity of conduct to which I refer than the fact that, in the same week, Lula was celebrated both at the World Economic Forum in Davos, for his conversion to Capitalism, and at the São Paulo Forum, for his faithfulness to Communism. It is quite evident, then, that there is one Lula in the local reality and another Lula for international consumption.


—Could you expand a bit on the sort of organization the FSP is, and the democratic credentials of some of its members?


The São Paulo Forum was created by Lula and discussed with Fidel Castro by the end of 1989, being founded in the following year under the presidency of Lula, who remained in the leadership of that institution for twelve years, nominally relinquishing it in order to take office as president of Brazil in 2003. The organization’s goal was to rebuild the Communist movement, shaken by the fall of the USSR. “To reconquer in Latin America all that we lost in the European East” was the goal proclaimed at the institution’s fourth annual assembly. The means to achieve it consisted in promoting the union and integration of all Communist and pro-Communist parties and movements of Latin America, and in developing new strategies, more flexible and better camouflaged, for the conquest of power. Practically, since the middle of the 1990’s, there has been no left-wing party or entity that has not been affiliated with the São Paulo Forum, signing and following its resolutions and participating in the intense activity of the “work groups” that hold meetings almost every month in many capital cities of Latin America. The Forum has its own review, America Libre (Free America), a publishing house, as well as an extensive network of websites prudently coordinated from Spain. It also exercises unofficial control over an infinity of printed and electronic publications. The speed and efficacy with which its decisions are transmitted to the whole continent can be measured by its ongoing success in covering up its own existence, over at least sixteen years. Brazil’s journalistic class is massively leftist, and even the professionals who are not involved in any form of militancy would feel reluctant to oppose the instructions that the majority receives.


The Forum’s body of members is composed of both lawful parties, as the Brazilian Worker’s Party itself, and criminal organizations of kidnappers and drug traffickers, as the Chilean MIR (Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria) and the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). The first is responsible for an infinity of kidnappings, including those of two famous Brazilian businessmen; the latter is practically the exclusive controller of the cocaine market in Latin America nowadays. All of these organizations take part in the Forum on equal conditions, which makes it possible that, when agents of a criminal organization are arrested in a country, lawful entities can immediately mobilize themselves to succour them, promoting demonstrations and launching petition campaigns calling for their liberation. Sometimes the protection that lawful organizations give to their criminal partners goes even further, as it happened, for example, when the governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Olívio Dutra, an important member of the Workers’ Party, hosted a FARC commander as a guest of state; or when the Lula administration granted political asylum to the agent of connection between the FARC and the Workers’ Party, Olivério Medina, and a public office to his wife. Sometime before, Medina had confessed to having brought an illegal contribution of $5 million for Lula’s presidential campaign.


The rosy picture of Brazil that has been painted abroad is in stark contrast with the fact that from 40,000 to 50,000 Brazilians are murdered each year, according to the UN’s own findings. Most of those crimes are connected with drug trafficking. Federal Court Judge Odilon de Oliveira has found out conclusive proofs that the FARC provides weaponry, technical support, and money for the biggest local criminal organizations, as, for instance, the PCC (Primeiro Comando da Capital), which rules over entire cities and keeps their population subjected to a terror regime. Just as I foretold after the first election of Lula to the presidency in 2002, the federal administration, since then, has done nothing to stop this murderous violence, for any initiative on the government’s part in that sense would go against the FARC’s interest and would turn, in a split second, the whole São Paulo Forum against the Brazilian government. In face of the slaughter of Brazilians, which is more or less equivalent to the death toll of one Iraq war per year, Lula has kept strictly faithful to the commitment of support and solidarity he made to the FARC as president of the São Paulo Forum in 2001.


      

In face of facts like these, it is always recommendable to take into account the concentration of the ownership of the means of world communication, which has happened over the last decades, as it has been described by reporter Daniel Estulin in his book about the Bilderberg group. Even the more distracted readers have not failed to notice how the opinion of the dominant world media has become uniform in the last decades, being nowadays difficult to perceive any difference between, say, Le Figaro and L’Humanité concerning essential issues, as, for example, “global warming,” or the advancement of new leaderships aligned with the project for a world government, as, for example, Lula or Obama. Never as today has it been so easy and so fast to create an impression of spontaneous unanimity. And since the CFR proclaims that the São Paulo Forum does not exist, nothing could be more logical than to expect that the São Paulo Forum disappears from the news.


—Other analysts have made the preposterous argument that foreign intervention, imperialism by any other word, has never characterized Itamaraty's policy. In light of "union leader" Lula's direct intervention in helping Chavez overcome the strike in 2002-03 by Venezuelan oil workers, by sending tankers with gasoline, how would you explain such blatant ignorance?


Itamaraty’s traditions, however praised they were in the past, no longer mean anything at all. Today, the Brazilian diplomatic body is nothing but the tuxedoed militancy of the Worker’s Party. At the same time, the intellectual level of our diplomats, which had been a reason of pride since the times of the great baron of Rio Branco, has formidably declined, to the point that nowadays the intellectual leadership of the class is held by geniuses of ineptitude, such as Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães. No wonder then that everywhere now our ambassadors are simple agents of the São Paulo Forum. It cannot be said that this properly expresses Brazilian imperialism, for our Ministry of Foreign Relations does not hesitate to sacrifice the most obvious national interests before the altar of a more sublime value, which is the solidary union of the Latin American left. There is no Brazilian imperialism, but rather São Paulo Forum’s imperialism.


—Do you think Marco Aurelio Garcia is behind Zelaya's return to Honduras, as has been alleged? If yes, it is evident that is a matter of a FSP member coming to the rescue of a fallen comrade, but what's in it for Brazil?


The Brazilian government denies having something to do with that, but Zelaya himself confessed that his return to Honduras had been previously arranged with Lula and his right hand man, Marco Aurélio Garcia. The most evident thing in the world is that this grotesque installation of Zelaya in the Brazilian embassy is an operation of the São Paulo Forum.


—Given that Tom Shannon is now US Ambassador to Brazil, would you reiterate what you told him about Lula, and his partners in crime, in November 2005, or would you advise differently?


Tom Shannon did not pay due attention to us in 2005 and this was, no doubt, one of the causes of the aggravation of the Latin American situation since then. It is likely that he read Maxwell’s and Alencastro’s speeches at the CFR, and thought that such a prestigious institution deserved more credibility than a handful of obscure Latin American scholars with no public office or political party. Unfortunately, we, not the CFR, were the ones who were right.


—Finally, as in the case of Chavez, has Lula done enough institutional damage to remain in power, or will he hand over power democratically?


The alternation in presidential power no longer has any great meaning, for the two dominant parties, the Workers’ Party and the Brazilian Social Democrat Party, act in concert with each other and, despite minor differences in the administrative economic field, they are equally faithful to the overall strategy of the Latin American left. Lula himself has celebrated as a big victory of democracy the fact that there are only leftist candidates for the 2010 presidential elections, as if the monopoly of the ideological control of society were a great democratic ideal. On the other side, the most celebrated of the so-called “opposition” leaders, former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, has already acknowledged that between his party and the Workers’ Party there is no substantive ideological or strategic difference, but only a contest for offices. It matters little who will win the next elections, for, in any event, the orientation of the Brazilian government must remain the same: in the social and juridical field, overpowering subversion; in the economic field, moderation to anesthetize foreign investors. The only difference that may arise is in the field of security, in the case that the candidate of the Brazilian Social Democrat Party, José Serra, wins, for his party, despite being as much a left-wing party as the Workers’ Party, does not formally belong to the São Paulo Forum, being therefore free to do things against organized crime, which Lula himself could never do. As governor of the state of São Paulo, Serra showed to be the only Brazilian political leader who pays attention to the slaughter of his fellow-countrymen. It is still early to know whether or not he will be able to do what he did in his state, but it is certain that he would wish to do it.

20.10.09

Hugo Chavez's propagandists in Washington join the unemployed

It's been a long time coming, but it appears that those who have made a killing out of spreading propaganda about Hugo Chavez in Washington DC, have joined the unemployed. Records from the Foreign Agents Registration Unit show that staff from both the Venezuela Information Office (VIO) and its offspring, Latin America Information Office (LATAMINFO), do no longer have connections, as per end of September 2009, with the foreign principals they represented: read Fundacion Siglo XXI, Movimiento Poder Ciudadano Siglo XXI, and the Embassy of Venezuela.

However, both organizations' websites continue active, despite the fact that, to their own admission, they are no longer involved in the dissemination of propaganda to US media, public officials, academics, government agencies and so on. Is that not a violation to US laws?

To be clear, the individuals involved in pestering journalists with romantic views about the Venezuelan dictator, when not asking 'independent professors' such as Francisco Dominguez to write favorable pieces about Chavez, were: Isaura Gilmond, Olivia Goumbri, Alex Main, Megan Morrisey, Jessica Coates, and Jennifer Schuett.

13.10.09

El otro

Nuestro idioma, tan rico en adjetivos, se queda corto en la definición de otro. En inglés, otro (other), tiene una cierta connotación que no se aplica comúnmente en castellano. Otro, en una de sus acepciones literales, es aquella persona distinta de la que se piensa o se habla. En inglés, other se utiliza también para describir a la contraparte, al opuesto, al contrario. Traigo a colación este tema, pues en nuestra realidad política actual, no solo el idioma nos falla, sino la actitud, tanto individual como colectiva, tanto privada como pública, revela un total, absoluto y generalizado desconocimiento del otro (en la acepción inglesa de la palabra). Es decir, todos, o casi todos, estamos negados a reconocer como válidas opiniones o argumentos esgrimidos por quienes se encuentran en un espectro político diferente.

Es más, aceptación en uno u otro bando depende del desconocimiento que se profese por el otro. Mientras más antagónico y recalcitrante, mientras más manifiesta dicha actitud, más réditos se ganan. Para alguien que lleva casi 10 años viendo los toros desde la barrera del exilio voluntario, como es mi caso, es fácil concluir que el problema social y político que vive el país no se va a resolver, ni siquiera con la eventual salida de Chávez del poder. Las voces sanas y desinteresadas no tienen cabida en tal espacio, y ello es consecuencia de las actitudes hostiles para con el otro, el diferente (en el sentido literal castellano), que caracterizan a las posiciones o grupos ideológicos que dividen la sociedad.

Nuestro país ha pasado por etapas en las cuales el reconocimiento del otro se tornó impracticable por cuestiones económicas y políticas: hablo del período independentista y de las muchas vicisitudes que siguieron a partir de allí. Boves fue un caudillo exitoso por una razón muy sencilla, y muy empleada por al actual presidente: supo darle curso emancipador al profundo resentimiento que negros, indios y mulatos sentían por la clase mantuana. Utilizando un discurso libertario, fue un pionero en capitalizar el odio al otro. Bolívar le siguió, hasta que se dio cuenta que con la actitud asumida en la proclama de Guerra a Muerte, no se llegaría nunca a ningún lado que no fuese la obliteración de la sociedad.

En estos tiempos las posiciones son, como en aquel entonces, irreconciliables. En un lado del espectro tenemos a un grupo social que, como todo colectivo, está lleno de cualidades y defectos, pero que pareciera compartir la noción de que existen ciertos límites y hay, o que respetarlos, o sino por lo menos aparentar que se respetan. En el otro lado, tenemos a un grupo que en su sed de resarcir resentimientos y armarse de poder está dispuesto a todo, como los lanceros de Boves, aun cuando el todo signifique poner en peligro la integridad, no sólo personal sino colectiva. Las consideraciones sobre percepción o apariencia que definen a ese grupo parecieran estar dictadas por un sincero orgullo derivado de la pertenencia a un colectivo absolutamente radical. De más está decir que hay una serie de aspectos y consideraciones económicas, políticas y sociales que definen el comportamiento individual y colectivo, así como la pertenencia a uno u otro grupo. Ambos grupos sin embargo comparten el desprecio por el otro.

Esta situación ni es nueva, ni es endémica de nuestra sociedad. Actitudes similares pueden observarse en mayor o menor grado en todas las sociedades, industrializadas o no. El resultado de tales pugnas sociales también es harto conocido: Venezuela vivió un siglo de guerras civiles, al cual le siguió otro siglo de relativa armonía.

Tal parece que en la actualidad los venezolanos, en su conjunto, están bien interesados en sumir al país en un nuevo conflicto social. La historia de la humanidad no tiene ejemplos de la erradicación total del otro, aun cuando se ha intentado en incontables ocasiones. El otro continuará siendo, existiendo.

9.10.09

Nobel Peace Prize 2009: Some blacks are more equal than others...

Some blacks are more equal than others... The caveat: the deadline for nominations was February 1, meaning Obama was nominated after being in office for just 11 days.