Monthly Archives: November 2010

>Latin America File: Russian communist leaders fete Cuban parliamentary president, re-consolidate Cold War-era links; Alarcon wraps up PRC visit

>“Post”-communist Russia continues to re-consolidate political linkages with Cuba and Nicaragua, as well as build relations with leftist regimes that came to power in Latin America “after” the Cold War.

On Monday, Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power, met with Boris Gryzlov, speaker of the Russian State Duma, in Moscow (pictured above). Although a member of the potemkin ruling party United Russia, Gryzlov, like Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, began his career in the Soviet Komsomol. Together Alarcon and Gryzlov reviewed the state of bilateral and interparliamentary relations between the two communist countries.

Before talks with his Russian counterpart, Alarcon will meet with the vice president of the Duma, Ivan Melnikov, who is also vice chairman of the Central Committee of the (secretly ruling) Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), legal heir of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Melnikov welcomed the Cuban leader upon his arrival in Russia last Friday.

On Saturday, Alarcon attended a solidarity event at the Cuban embassy, where Cuban and Russian children recited poems and songs in Spanish, dedicated to the Cuban “martyrs” of the 1959 revolution. During this activity, Alarcon acknowledged his appreciation of Russia’s opposition to the 50-year-old US economic blockade and support for the release of five Cuban “antiterrorist fighters” (espionage agents) imprisoned in US federal prisons.

Alarcon’s agenda also includes a meeting in the Duma with the general secretary of the CPRF, Gennady Zyuganov, and with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. On Wednesday, Alarcón will travel to St. Petersburg, where he will meet senior leaders of this city and the Leningrad region.

The fact that Russia’s Communist Party leaders, who technically are in opposition, are feting the Cuba’s parliamentary president on behalf of the Russian state shouts volumes. Indeed, it proves that Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, an “ex”-cadre of the CPSU, are more than comfortable with letting (their masters) Zyuganov and Melnikov carry out Kremlin foreign policy with Russia’s most important ally in the Western Hemisphere.

The People’s Republic of China also enjoys warm relations with fellow communist state Cuba. Prior to showing up in Moscow, Alarcon rubbed elbows with the Butchers of Beijing, perhaps with the intention of seeking inspiration for Havana’s proposed economic reforms.

>Communist Bloc Military Updates: PRC boosts Venezuela’s airlift capacity with Shaanxi Y-8 sale, Moscow extends US$4 billion weapons loan to Caracas

>– Chavez and Ortega Take Step toward Forming “Anti-Imperialist Army” by Establishing ALBA Defense School in Bolivia

Pictured here: Leaders of the eight-nation Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas meet in Caracas on April 19, 2010.

Over the weekend, the state-run Bolivarian News Agency announced that Venezuela will buy up to 12 Shaanxi Y-8 transport aircraft from the People’s Republic of China. “These Y-8s will provide support for the operations of our C-130 Hercules transport planes…that have a range covering South America and to the north of Spain,” explained Major General Jorge Oropeza last Friday.

Oropeza continued: “Negotiations for the purchase of the Y-8s are in the hands of the Defense Ministry and it is hoped that these aircraft will be delivered to Venezuela sometime next year.” Oropeza indicated that the K-8 aircraft and JL11 radar systems that Caracas has also purchased from Beijing will be on display at the main ceremony marking the 90th anniversary of the Venezuelan air force.

The Y-8 aircraft is a medium-sized, medium-range transport aircraft produced by Shaanxi Aircraft Company and based on the Soviet Antonov An-12. It is one of the PRC’s most popular military and civilian transport/cargo aircraft, with many variants produced and exported. The An-12 is no longer made in Ukraine, but the Y-8 continues to be upgraded and produced. The Y-8 is capable of carrying 20 tons of cargo, as well as 96 soldiers or 82 paratroopers, dropping supplies, and functioning as an air ambulance. This means the Venezuelan air force will by 2011 be able to deploy 1,000 paratroopers, in addition to the nearly 400 airborne infantry that its six US-built Lockheed C-130 Hercules planes can currently transport.

The announcement follows a visit earlier this month to Caracas by General Chen Bingde, chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and the shipments earlier this year of 18 K-8 trainer/light attack aircraft and JL11 radar systems. On November 11, Chen led a high-ranking PLA delegation from Beijing on a three-nation tour of South America that not only took him to Venezuela, but also Ecuador and Peru. Ecuador’s socialist President Rafael Correa is closely aligned with Caracas, while Peru’s social democratic President Alan Garcia is closely aligned with the USA.

In General Chen’s entourage was Zhu Jinlin, commander of the PLA Xinjiang Military Area Command (MAC); Hou Jizhen, chief of staff of the PLA Shenyang MAC; Jia Xiaowei, chief of staff of the PLA Guangzhou MAC; Lin Jianchao, director of the General Office of the PLA General Staff Headquarters; Liu Zheng, chief of staff of the Headquarters of the PLA General Logistics Department; and Ci Guowei, deputy director-general of the Foreign Affair Office of the Ministry of National Defense.

This past September, Red China’s defense minister visited Mexico City, where he promoted bilateral military cooperation with President Felipe Calderon’s government, which is struggling to contain a major narco-insurgency, and contributed a PLA honor guard to celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence.

Thus, in light of the Y-8 purchase, if Venezuela’s communist dictator Hugo Chavez wishes to intervene in any potential conflict in South America, Central America (like Honduras?), or the Caribbean Basin, his military will have the technology to do so. Before instigating two failed coups d’etat in 1992, Chavez was himself a paratrooper.

Incidentally, Venezuela’s fleet of 20 US-built F-16 fighters has fallen into disrepair since Washington imposed a military sales embargo in 2006. Since then, Chavez has augmented his air force with 24 Russian-built Sukhoi Su-30 multi-role strike fighters.

Last week, following a recent annual pilgrimage to Moscow, the Kremlin extended another, US$4 billion loan to Caracas for the purpose of acquiring additional armament from Russia. Venezuela has become Russia’s most important client state and energy partner in the Western Hemisphere. “We were in Russia not long ago and the Russian government has now given us a $4 billion credit to help us with defense equipment,” boasted Chavez said on Saturday at a ceremony to celebrate the Venezuela’s air force’s 90th anniversary. “We are simply doing the task of defending the fatherland from the threat of [the US] empire and its allies.”

In April, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin revealed that Venezuela intends to order up to another US$5 billion in weapons via state-run Rosoboronexport. Venezuela is awaiting delivery of T-72 tanks and air defense systems from Russia. Fearing an imaginary US-led invasion, Chavez has announced that he will deploy both the tanks and air defense systems along the Colombian border, although relations with Bogota have improved somewhat since the departure of President Alvaro Uribe.

On Saturday, per an earlier threat, Chavez promoted General Henry Rangel Silva to the highest rank in the army. Rangel Silva is on the US State Department’s “drug kingpin” list because of accusations he has helped the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia smuggle cocaine. Chavez retorts that such charges are motivated by Washington’s ongoing campaign to discredit his socialist government.

In a related story, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, a bloc of socialist states led by Havana and Caracas, has taken a small but important step toward forming an “anti-imperialist army.” Bolivia’s defense minister Ruben Saavedra was quoted by state radio as saying that ALBA will establish a defense school in Bolivia. The military doctrine and academic content will be developed in concert with member states Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Chavez and Nicaraguan counterpart Daniel Ortega first floated the idea of a pan-Latin American military in 2007.

Other states with socialist or social democratic regimes that hold observer status in ALBA are (formerly communist) Grenada, Haiti, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Syria.

>WW4 File: USA, SK, Japan reject Beijing proposal for talks re. N. Korea, civil defense officials prepare 4,000 shelters for Seoul residents

>Pictured here: A Super Hornet jet fighter lined up for a landing on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington yesterday during a joint exercise with South Korea in the waters south of Yeonpyeong Island.

News Updates

– USA, South Korea, Japan reject Beijing’s proposal for emergency talks regarding North Korea, White House refuses to “reward” Pyongyang’s provocative behavior (source)

– South Korean civil defense officials preparing nearly 4,000 emergency shelters, gas masks, air purification machinery for some 20 million residents of Seoul (source)

– North Korea warns of “all-out war any time” if US and SK navies continue exercise in Yellow Sea (source)

>WW4 File: SK military to resume routine drill on Yeonpyeong, exercise provoked NK to shell island last Tuesday

>Pictured here: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak speaks during a televised address on Monday, November 29, 2010.

“The South Korean military,” reports the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, “is expected to resume a routine drill on Yeonpyeong Island soon. The drill was suspended after the island near the maritime border between the 2 Koreas came under artillery attack from North Korea last week.” The same source points out:

The military on Monday ordered residents on the island to evacuate so that the artillery drill can resume. North Korea had been protesting the drill, prompting it to bombard the South Korean island last Tuesday. The resumption of the drill is likely to escalate the tension between the 2 countries.

As Washington sends a stern message to Pyongyang by way of a joint naval drill with Seoul, diplomatic arm-twisting takes place behind close doors:

Meanwhile, the US and South Korean joint naval exercise in the Yellow Sea off the west coast of the Korean Peninsula enter its 3rd day on Tuesday.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington and Aegis-equipped destroyers are rehearsing the interception of enemy vessels and aircraft that intrude into South Korean airspace or territorial waters.

On Monday, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak announced his determination to resolutely deal with further North Korean provocations. But the South has no real power to contain the North’s military threat.

South Korea will send Foreign Minister Kim Sung Hwan to an international conference in the central Asian country of Kazakhstan from Wednesday in a bid to rally support from countries such as the US and Russia.

The same article concludes: “North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly Chairman Choe Thae Bok is expected to visit China on Tuesday to engage in frank discussions with Chinese leaders.” During this communist tete-a-tete the Korean Workers’ Party will discover whether the Communist Party of China intends to throw North Korea to the capitalist “wolves.”

>WW4 File: SK DM: South Korean, US forces will "immediately" strike North Korean targets should Pyongyang launch another attack

>Pictured here: Members of the Republic of Korea’s National Emergency Management Agency check gas masks as they inspect emergency evacuation facilities in a Seoul subway, on Sunday, November 28, 2010.

On Monday, November 29, 2010, the Korea Times reported: “Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said Monday that fighter jets and warships of South Korean and U.S. forces will immediately strike North Korean targets should the North launch an attack on the South’s soil again.” Strong language from South Korea’s DM. Seoul better follow through or the Pyongyang communists will grow ever bolder.

Since it shelled the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong last Tuesday, killing two marines and two civilians, the Korean People’s Army has deployed surface-to-air missiles on its Yellow Sea coast. “The missiles appear to be targeting our fighter jets that fly near the Northern Limit Line,” a South Korean source told Yonhap news agency.

>WW4 File: Koreas on brink of war: News updates from Yonhap

>Pictured here: File photo of USS George Washington, which is taking part in US-South Korean naval drill in the Yellow Sea.

News updates from Yonhap for morning of November 28, 2010 (MDT):

Chinese government to make `urgent` announcement 11-28 14:46
(2nd LD) Chinese government to make `urgent` announcement 11-28 15:19
(URGENT) Explosion sounds of artillery fire heard on Yeonpyeong Island, official says 11-28 11:43
(URGENT) S. Korea`s military spots signs of N. Korean artillery firing: official 11-28 11:51
N. Korea deploys SA-2 surface-to-air missiles near Yellow Sea border 11-28 10:26

S. Korean artillery mistakenly fired on DMZ 11-28 17:18
(URGNET) Emergency evacuation order issued for civilians on Yeonpyeong Island, official says 11-28 11:26
(URGENT) S. Korea`s military lifts evacuation order on Yeonpyeong Island: official 11-28 12:00
(LEAD) S. Korea evacuates islanders on signs of N. Korean shelling 11-28 11:57
(URGENT) Pres. Lee made clear to Chinese official resumption of six-way talks ˝not timely˝: Cheong Wa Dae 11-28 17:54

(URGENT) China calls for early resumption of six-party nuke talks 11-28 17:50
President to address nation Monday on N.K. attack of border island 11-28 14:00
(2nd LD) Signs of N. Korea`s artillery firing detected: South`s military 11-28 12:48
S. Korea asks journalists to leave Yeonpyeong Island 11-28 15:24
(LEAD) S. Korean artillery mistakenly fired on DMZ 11-28 18:13

North says Korean Peninsula in state of `ultra-emergency` 11-28 19:02
S. Korea clarifies objection to early resumption of six-way talks 11-28 18:15
Top Chinese official makes abrupt visit to S. Korea amid tension over N. Korean attack 11-27 23:22
S. Korea orders civilians on Yeonpyeong Island to evacuate to shelters 11-28 11:39
(LEAD) Chinese government to make `urgent` announcement

>WW4 File: Koreas on brink of war: 1,000 SK military vets rally in Seoul, burn, trample NK flag, demand revenge for attack on Yeonpyeong Island

>News Updates

– Pyongyang recalls 20,000 North Korean workers in Far East Russia to support war preparations (source)

– NK conducts artillery tests as US military commander visits South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island, where NK shells killed four people last Tuesday (source)

– SK military was aware of NK’s redeployment of 122-mm Multiple Launch Rocket System to coastal artillery base prior to the shelling of Yeonpyeong, SK artillery responded in wrong direction (source)

– As marines laid to rest, 1,000 South Korean military veterans, former special forces, rally in Seoul, burn and trample NK flag and portrait of Kim Jong-Il (source)

– SK and USA to launch large-scale naval exercises in Yellow Sea on Sunday, continue through Wednesday; USS George Washington aircraft carrier, with more than 6,000 sailors and 75 fighter jets aboard, to join drill (source)

Just in time for Christmas: Korean War 2.

>Latin America File: Honduras’ security minister alleges Nicaragua training, arming 3,000 guerrillas; Sandinistas to overthrow Lobo, re-install Zelaya

>Has the Cold War returned in earnest to Central America? Do Central American communists have unfinished business with the region’s bourgeoisie and other US “lackeys”? With the re-election to the Nicaraguan presidency of Daniel Ortega in 2006, this may be the case, especially if our main story below is confirmed by other sources.

Ever since the military-backed parliamentary coup that toppled Honduras’ socialist president Manuel Zelaya in June 2009, there have been indications that the Havana-Caracas-Managua Axis is determined to restore Hugo Chavez’s slavish follower. Within 24 hours of Zelaya’s ouster, Venezuela’s communist dictator threatened to hurl his fairly substantial armed forces against Honduras if the interim government harmed his diplomats in Tegucigalpa.

Within days, Nicaragua’s past/present communist dictator Daniel Ortega was hosting a Red Axis strategy session attended by Zelaya, Chavez, and Cuba’s communist dictator Raul Castro in Managua. For several months thereafter, Zelaya used Managua as a base of operations to try to illegally re-enter his homeland. In July, Honduras’ de facto president Roberto Micheletti asserted that Nicaragua had deployed troops to their common border, a charge that both Ortega and the Sandinista-controlled Nicaraguan army denied.

In September, Ortega issued an emergency decree permitting a small contingent of Venezuelan troops, warplanes, and warships to enter Nicaraguan territory for a joint exercise to be carried out in May and June 2010. The maneuvers were to take place as part of Chavez and Ortega’s drive to create an “anti-imperialist army” opposed to “US hegemony” in the Western Hemisphere. Strangely, this Nicaraguan-Venezuelan military drill did not materialize or, if it did, the MSM forgot to report it because Google searches bring up no results.

Appointed head of Petrocaribe’s Political Council by Chavez in March, Zelaya is currently living in exile in the Dominican Republic. However, he also frequently appears in Managua and did so again last month. At this time, Ortega publicly threw his support behind the coalition of Honduran leftist groups composing the National Popular Resistance Front, the vehicle agitating for Zelaya’s restoration.

In what could be a related story, last month at least 50 Nicaraguan soldiers occupied Costa Rica’s Isla Calero, at the mouth of the San Juan River, which otherwise belongs to Nicaragua. Ortega has bolstered troop strength in the border region to protect a dredging operation that will widen the river for a new interoceanic canal, discreetly financed by Russia, Venezuela, and Iran. Outraged by this invasion, San Jose has taken its grievances to the Organization of American States (OAS) and the International Court of Justice.

Incidentally, Moscow has cautiously “waded” into the Nicaragua-Costa Rica river border dispute. On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that “Russia has received with concern reports about the tensions between the Republics of Nicaragua and Costa Rica.” The statement continued: “We are convinced that Managua and San José will be able to resolve their territorial differences by way of mutual respect and bilateral dialogue between the countries and peoples historically the uniting bonds of friendship.”

Now Honduras’ democratically elected government is accusing Nicaragua’s neo-Sandinista regime, which opposes the former’s re-admission to the OAS, of training and arming guerrillas in northern Honduras. The scandal broke on Wednesday when Honduran Security Minister Oscar Alvarez informed media outlets he was in possession of military and police intelligence suggesting that leftist rebels are being trained and armed in Bajo Aguán, in the rural, north-central department of Colón. Alvarez said some 3,000 insurgents are being supplied with guns shipped across the border from Nicaragua.

President Porfirio Lobo Sosa, according to the security chief, considers the situation a “danger to national security.” Even though putatively a rightist, Lobo was educated at the Soviet Union’s Patrice Lumumba University, which during the Cold War indoctrinated Third World students in Marxism-Leninism and “national liberation.” Since 1992 PLU has been known as the People’s Friendship University of Russia.

The Nica Times continues: “Alvarez claims the alleged guerrillas aim to destabilize the Lobo government, which the left-wing governments of Latin America–including Nicaragua–consider to be the illegitimate product of last year’s coup.” Alvarez told the daily La Tribuna that army and police intelligence have detected trafficking of “weapons such as AK-47s, M16s and possibly other more potent weapons that are going to be used by groups that want to destabilize the democracy of our country.”

The Honduran army also has information that Hondurans are being recruited and trained outside the country. “The information we have is that they have been mobilizing all the way to Nicaragua, which is a concern,” Alvarez explained to La Tribuna. The security minister reflected that in the 1980s Honduran leftists were recruited by the first Sandinista regime, then allied with the Soviet Union, and trained in Cuba to destabilize the Honduran government.

Leonel Sauceda, security ministry spokesman, confirmed the Honduran media reports. In a telephone interview with The Nica Times on Thursday he insisted that “Without a doubt the guerrillas are being trained and supplied with weapons of war. Police are investigating the matter.”

Not surprisingly, the Nicaraguan army is “categorically denying unsubstantiated reports” that its soldiers are “training and supplying” Honduran guerrillas in a plot to overthrow President Lobo. Nicaraguan army spokesman Colonel Juan Ramón Morales told The Nica Times on Thursday that “military intelligence has ‘no knowledge of any support’ for alleged Honduran guerrillas reportedly being recruited and trained in a rural area in northern Honduras.”

According to Morales, the Nicaraguan army maintains “close contact” with its Honduran counterpart, “even during moments of political tension during last year’s coup,” and “has not received any official communication from Honduran authorities on the subject.” He called the Honduran security minister’s allegations “curious.”

Analyzing all of this information, we must pose at least one question: Is the occupation of Costa Rica’s Isla Calero by Nicaraguan troops a feint to distract attention from Sandinista-backed guerrillas in Honduras, or is it another issue in its own right? Two weeks ago, Costa Rican authorities intercepted and then released six military trucks bound for Nicaragua at the Caribbean port of Limon. Were these vehicles heading for the Nicaraguan army or, perhaps, Honduras’ anti-government guerrillas? Time, as they say, may tell. Our blog, of course, exists to expose this and other aspects of the 21st century communist conspiracy.

>EU File: Poland’s ruling Civic Platform accuses Law & Justice party of “treason” as delegates arrive in DC, demand US-led probe into Kaczynski death

>– Polish President Komorowski Invites Aging General Jaruzelski, “Ex”-Communist Politicians, Secret Police Informer Walesa to Attend National Security Council Meeting

– National Security Council Discusses December Visit by Russian President Medvedev

– Communist General Jaruzelski Imposed Martial Law 1981-1983, Assumed Post of President in 1989 during Transition from Single-Party Rule

On November 17, World Net Daily articulated the anxieties of many observers of “post”-communist Eastern European politics, namely, “Why has Poland’s ruling Civic Platform meekly submitted to Moscow’s hasty explanations concerning the demise of President Lech Kaczynski’s airplane over western Russia this past April?”

Kaczynski was staunchly anti-communist and pro-Washington in his orientation. Aboard the Polish Air Force jet, which crashed in foggy conditions near Smolensk, home to a Russian military base, were a number of high-ranking Polish leaders, including the country’s top generals from all branches. Russia’s leadership continues to harbor grievances against its former Soviet-era satellite, going so far as to carry out in tandem with Belarus a mock nuclear attack against Poland in September 2009.

On November 17, armed with a petition signed by 300,000 Polish citizens, former foreign minister Anna Fotyga and parliamentary committee chairman Antoni Macierewicz, who represents the Law and Justice Party, arrived in Washington. There they sought official US support for the creation of an international commission to investigate the April 10 crash.

Harvey Kushner, a counter-terrorism expert who did consulting work for some of the officials who died with the Polish president, told WND he met Fotyga and Macierewicz the day they arrived in the USA. Kushner stated:

There are so many unanswered questions that for the Russians to take foul play off the table so quickly into the investigation is quite suspicious. There’s nothing in history like this. Where you have an airliner that goes down with such important people, and within a matter of hours the Russians announce that it was pilot error or someone was in the cockpit. This is sheer nonsense.

Accompanying the petition was a letter written by Law and Justice party chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski, twin brother of the late president. In an interview with Poland’s TVN24, Macierewicz explained that Poles are “concerned over the investigation, [its] lack of clarity and growing difficulties” and “the absence of any information and the elimination of evidence.”

Kushner noted that both Moscow and Prime Minister Donald Tusk stridently oppose Jaroslaw’s appeal to the Americans. Kaczynski has accused the Polish and Russian governments of “completely abandoning” the investigation and has called on Tusk and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski (pictured above) to resign. Polish government spokesman Pavel Gras threatened: “It is absolutely scandalous, on the verge of treason.” Kushner, who believes the Polish government’s response is scandalous, queries: “What do they have to hide?” Indeed.

Russian reports immediately after the crash, for example, contend that the Polish pilot, confronted with fog, ignored four commands from Russian air-traffic control to divert the flight to Moscow or Minsk. Some speculated that Kaczynski, distrustful of the Russians, may have ordered the plane to land anyway.

Kushner denounced the Russian investigation as “sloppy at best,” enumerating a number of investigative “transgressions”: 1) forensic evidence has not been properly examined, 2) the Russian company that normally refurbished the plane is leading the technical investigation, “casting a cloud over the entire probe,” 3) the crash site was not “locked down” until only a couple of weeks ago, and 4) Russian soldiers who were supposed to secure the scene stole credit cards from the victims, sliced up parts of the plane and smashed windows, and left the wreckage exposed to the elements for six months.

Kushner alleges that the Russians still possess the Tu-154’s “black boxes,” but according to the MSM Moscow handed over the flight data recorders in late May. Furthermore, he continued, families of the victims want to exhume the bodies, but the Polish government has rejected their requests. “The investigation,” he argues, “was carried out under the Chicago Convention, which is for civilian aircraft, even though there were NATO commanders on the plane.”

In June, US Congressman Peter King (Republican-New York) submitted a resolution calling for an international commission to investigate the crash, but he failed to obtain any support from his peers. According to Kushner, most US legislators are not enthusiastic about pressing for a third-party investigation since Warsaw itself is nonchalant about the whole affair. He issued a stern warning at the end of his WND interview:

Congress should pay attention to it, not for the tragedy that befell Poland, the decapitation of their leaders almost 70 years after the Katyn massacre, but because it’s in the vital national security interest of the United States to support an ally in a region of the world that is crucial for U.S. geopolitically.

The fact that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promptly installed himself as chief investigator should have tipped off the West that the truth behind President Kaczynski’s fiery demise would remain buried in the forest of Katyn.

The lack of unity among Poland’s politicians with respect to Warsaw-Moscow relations and Poland’s communist past was evident on Wednesday when the National Security Council met upon President Komorowski’s invitation. The purpose of the summons was to discuss the forthcoming trip to Poland of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in December. Following Lech Kaczynski’s death, parliamentary speaker Komorowski became acting president of Poland and, then, in July won the country’s presidential election.

Komorowski was forced to defend his decision to invite former communist leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski to the pow-wow. “I can’t change history,” Komorowski huffed, after meeting with the National Security Council, which included the usual roster of past and current presidents and prime ministers, past and current foreign and defense ministers, and parliamentary faction leaders. General Jaruzelski, who imposed martial law on Poland between 1981 and 1983, was head of state for about a year and a half following the first “free” elections in June 1989. “I have to be consistent,” Komorowski added.

Not surprisingly, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who did not attend the meeting, criticized Komorowski for inviting Jaruzelski. Former president Lech Walesa also frowned upon the general’s presence, but attended the meeting anyway. Jaruzelski’s invitation was also criticized by members of Komorowski’s own Civic Platform, such as Senator Jan Rulewski, who told the Polska Times daily: “The general is not an expert on present day Polish-Russian relations. His knowledge and skills go back to the Soviet Union, and not the new Russia.”

In addition to secret police informer Walesa and Jaruzelski, the following past heads of state and government were present at the national security meeting: “ex”-communists like Aleksander Kwasniewski and Jozef Oleksy, and communist-controlled politicians like Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, and Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz.

Neither Komorowski nor Tusk, despite their “fishy” friendliness with Moscow and Jaruzelski, are overtly connected to the formerly ruling communist Polish United Workers’ Party. However, like many “center-right” Polish politicians, they began their careers in parties that trace their origin to the Solidarity trade union, like Civic Platform. In the early 1980s, according to KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn in New Lies for Old (1984), Solidarity contained more than 2 million active communist party cadres, which raises the issue of communist party control over Poland’s Cold War-era “dissident” movement.

In December Komorowski will also travel to the White House to meet US President Barack Hussein Obama.

>Mexican Narco-State File: Narcistas kill Colima’s ex-gov, troops clash with gunmen in Nayarit, Ciudad Mier’s 6,000 citizens flee Zetas’ “Mad Max” tank

>Mexico’s drug war has moved into some of the country’s Pacific coast states. Regional politicians, including mayors and governors, are also increasingly being targeted by out-of-control cartels. Fourteen mayors and mayors-elect have been murdered across the country this year. A candidate for governor in the lawless northeast state of Tamaulipas was killed in June as he campaigned for election.

On November 22 gunmen attacked the former governor of Colima, Silverio Cavazos Ceballos, on the steps of his house in the state capital. Cavazos was hospitalized with fatal injuries, while his wife was also wounded. A member of the once long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, Cavazos was governor between 2005 and 2009. President Felipe Calderon, Mexico’s second National Action Party president, condemned the attack as a “cowardly murder.” Prosecutors are investigating the motive for the attack on Cavazos.

The previous day, Mexican troops clashed with five narcistas in Tepic, capital of Nayarit, another Pacific coast state. All of the gunmen perished. Found at the site of the gun battle, which occurred at a private residence, were six AK-47 assault rifles and military-issue ammunition and grenades. State police seized three vehicles.

In a separate incident, Nayarit authorities found three men decapitated inside two vehicles abandoned on Federal Highway 200. Last week, Nayarit Governor Ney Gonzalez complained that the drug war had come “uninvited” to his state. Grisly beheadings and dismemberments are SOP for Mexico’s mafias. More than 30,000 narco-traffickers, police, soldiers, civilians, and tourists have died in drug-related violence since Calderon deployed troops to crack down on organized crime in December 2006.

Meanwhile, the Mexican Red Cross is distributing at least 15 tons of aid to the 6,000 residents of Ciudad Mier who fled the colonial border town due to internecine warfare between the Gulf cartel and its former enforcement arm, Los Zetas. Most residents beat a hasty retreat to Texas or other Mexican cities, leaving only 400 people to cower behind bullet-scarred and rocket-blasted walls. At least 250 people from Ciudad Mier are living in a shelter established in the neighboring municipality of Miguel Aleman, where they are receiving food and lodging. Starting this week, they will also receive 500 pesos (US$40) to take care of personal needs.

Ciudad Mier, once a tourist destination known as “Magic Town,” is not the only Tamaulipas municipality that becomes a ghost town every evening. Residents of Reynosa, Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, and Tampico, expecting little or no help from the federal government, take measures to ensure their own safety and avoid venturing outside unless it is an emergency.

The Mexican army nervously patrols Ciudad Mier, mindful of the cartels’ firepower and ingenuity. In the municipal impound lot are the burned-out remains of five crudely armored, “Road Warrior”-style pickup trucks and SUVs. Each truck sports half-inch steel plate welded over most of the windows, leaving only narrow firing slits. Incidentally, the promotional poster for the first Mad Max movie (1979) reads: “When the gangs take over the highway.”

Outside of town squats another burned-out vehicle of war (pictured above) that definitely evokes images from the Mad Max movie trilogy. Fearful locals refer to the veritable tank as “The Monster.” The 10-wheel gravel truck has a five-yard freight box protected with 1 1/4-inch steel plates to cover firing positions for 10 gunmen. Thick steel plates also cover the engine, the windshield, and the doors. Hinged covers indicate the presence of gun ports. Massive steel rams are welded onto the “prow” of the gravel truck.

“What is terrifying about ‘The Monster,’” comments National Public Radio, “was not that the Zetas drug gang built it and used it in the almost medieval war for Ciudad Mier, but that the Cartel del Golfo—which roared back into Mier with a vengeance on Feb. 23, 2010, to retake the turf—brought it down.”

Tamaulipas Governor Eugenio Hernandez admitted to reporters earlier this month that “some cities had become ungovernable and authorities were overwhelmed.” This has particularly been the case since November 5, when Los Zetas launched a new offensive against the Gulf cartel after Mexican marines gunned down cartel boss Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen. Local and state police officers, Hernandez lamented, do not have the firepower to take on the cartels, requiring a larger federal presence in Ciudad Mier, Miguel Aleman, Guerrero, Camargo, and Diaz Ordaz.

In a related story that offers some hope in the midst of Mexico’s bloodshed, the government announced that, with the assistance of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, federal police had captured the new boss of the Beltran Leyva cartel, Carlos Montemayor. The crime chief was arrested in Mexico City on Tuesday. Montemayor admitted that his henchmen were responsible for kidnapping and killing 20 Mexican tourists in Acapulco, mistaking them for members of the rival Familia cartel.

The Beltran Leyva cartel’s previous boss, Texas-born Edgar Valdez (“La Barbie”) Villareal, is cooling his heels in a federal prison in the state of Mexico. He is awaiting extradition to the USA, where he faces charges of kidnapping, illegal firearms possession, and cocaine trafficking. Mexican authorities arrested Valdez in August. Control of the Beltran Leyva cartel has been up for grabs since Mexican marines gunned down its founder, Arturo Beltran Leyva, in December 2009.

>WW4 File: 200 N. Korean shells pound South’s Yeonpyeong Island, 2 marines killed, other soldiers, civilians injured; S. Korean artillery responds

>– News Reports Widely Characterize Heavy Exchange of Artillery Fire as Worst Skirmish since Korean War

– Yeonpyeong Island Home to South Korean Naval Base, More than 1,000 Personnel

On Tuesday morning, North Korea, citing the “provocative” maneuvers of South Korea’s annual nationwide military drill Hoguk, pounded the South’s Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea with 200 shells. Two marines were killed and a number of other soldiers and civilians. More than 70 houses were destroyed by the North Korean artillery barrage (pictured above). Yeonpyeong is home to a military base with 1,000 marines and sailors.

The Republic of Korea dispatched F-16 fighter jets to the area and South Korean artillery responded with 70 to 80 salvoes. The South Korean government evacuated the entire civilian population, numbering 1,780, to an air raid shelter on the mainland. Meanwhile, South Korea President Lee Myung-bak and his cabinet convened an emergency meeting in a bunker under the presidential compound in Seoul.

Both North and South Korea have vowed further reprisals if the other should carry out further military actions, using phrases like “merciless retaliatory strikes” and “enormous retaliation,” respectively. A political analyst from the People’s Republic of China, North Korea’s only major ally, suggested that Kim Jong-il’s heir apparent, Kim Jong-un, instigated the attack to consolidate his authority over the Korean People’s Army. Kim Jong-il has visited Red China twice this year. Russia’s Foreign Ministry urged the two Koreas to avoid “colossal danger.”

Israel’s Debkafile reports that the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, which includes the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, has been placed on alert should the military situation on the Korean Peninsula escalate. The fleet is based at Yokosuka. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, according to the MSM, has ordered his government “to be prepared for any developments on the Korean peninsula.”

According to Debkafile, Kan specifically called US President Barack Hussein Obama with the demand to organize a US-South Korean-Japanese military reprisal against Communist North Korea. Following the skirmish, US Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reaffirmed the White House’s commitment to the US-South Korean alliance.

Over the weekend, US academic Siegfried Hecker, who recently toured North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex, stated that he saw more than a thousand operational uranium-enrichment centrifuges at the facility.

>Latin America File: Cuba’s delayed “perestroika” admission of Stalinist model’s failure, possible lead-up to federation with Venezuela

>– Cuba’s Communist Bloc Allies Pour Billions of Dollars into Modernizing, Expanding Island Infrastructure

On November 8, Cuba’s communist dictator Raul Castro, in what amounts to a much-belated Gorbachev-style perestroika (restructuring), announced that the regime will likely dismiss 500,000 public employees, expand private economic activity, and enact massive cuts in state subsidies. Over the next two or three years, another 800,000 state workers will be ousted. Eventually up to two Cubans in five will no longer work for the state.

The ruling Communist Party of Cuba (CPC) will allow more foreign investment and possibly open the real estate market. The Castro regime has also released 50 political prisoners, even as it demands the release of its jailed espionage agents in the USA, otherwise known as the “Cuban Five.”

“Only socialism is capable of … preserving the gains of the revolution,” cautions a 32-page document published as a guide for discussion leading up to a party congress in April, the first since 1997. Not wanting to raise the hopes of diehard anti-communists everywhere and Miami’s Cuban exile community, the CPC document insists: “Planning will be paramount, not the market.” The food ration card, which provides 10 days of food per month, will be “eliminated in an orderly fashion” in a drive to slash subsidies, the party organ elaborated. “China is worth studying,” added Granma nonchalantly.

A week after Raul’s announcement, former comrade in arms Fidel blessed little brother’s proposed reforms in a speech delivered at Havana University. “Fidel recognizes that he is happy, because the country is moving despite all the challenges,” asserted one report published in Granma, which is named after the yacht that ferried the insurgent Castro Bros. from Mexico to Cuba in 1956. Another state-run news agency shouted: “Fidel Castro endorses his brother Raúl’s economic reform.”

However, the Miami Herald points out that much of Comrade Fidel’s university speech was a verbatim reiteration of another given five years ago. “I confess that I was surprised by the currency of the ideas in the 2005 speech, Castro declared. Taking a page from the Nikita Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization playbook, the retired Cuban dictator reread parts of the speech in which he acknowledged that the regime “had made mistakes in its communist path” “Subsidies or grants, only for essential and vital things,” he declared to the audience several days ago. “The only thing not allowed is the irresponsible . . . squandering of resources.”

“For the first time since the 1960s Cubans will be able to employ other Cubans, even though the constitution bans such ‘exploitation,’” mocks The Economist. The same news site, too, reminds us that “The economists advising Mr Castro are barred from talking of ‘reform,’” while “No Cuban official has matched Deng Xiaoping’s embrace of “market socialism.’” The Economist identifies another critical issue facing the Castro Bros., who are 84 and 79 years old, namely passing the torch of communist revolution to a younger generation. This important matter could be high on the agenda at the April congress.

“In the meantime,” wishes this respected journal, “his new boldness represents an opportunity for those who hope that Cuba will eventually join the rest of Latin America in accepting democracy and the market economy, for once the market’s green shoots appear they tend to flourish.”

Sounds nice, but don’t hold your breath. The political left is not only in the ascendancy throughout the Western Hemisphere, but organized and united in its goal of implementing “21st century socialism.” That Cuba’s terminally ill economy needs a “jumpstart” is recognized even by other Communist Bloc countries like Russia, which has promised to exploit Cuba’s oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico and upgrade its Soviet-era military; Red China, which is to lead a US$6 billion modernization of the Cienfuegos refinery; Brazil, which has promised to build new port facilities at Mariel, near Havana; and Venezuela, which has promised to connect the two countries with a fiber optic communication cable under the Caribbean Sea.

However, even as the Castro regime sacks hundreds of thousands of faceless functionaries, Cuba’s sister regime in Venezuela is doing just the opposite, seizing private companies, foreign and domestic, nationalizing them by the score, and chasing regime opponents from the country. Could it be that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his communist mentors in Havana actually intend to meet somewhere in the “middle,” that is, with the intent of creating “Cubazuela” or “Venecuba”? Yup. This idea of a two-state federation was first broached by Comrade Fidel five years ago.

“We are moving towards the economic union between Cuba and Venezuela” triumphed President Castro at the close of a July 2010 summit between the two leftist states. Comrade Raul droned on: “It is this a new type of relationship that will allow a better management of joint projects and is at the same time, an important step towards the goal of achieving real economic complementarities, based on the optimal use of the infrastructure, knowledge and existing resources in both countries and, above all, the political will of our peoples.”

“We have found 139 projects with potential for establishment in the medium term, of which a significant number can implement immediately,” elaborated Castro, referring to cooperation in the food, health, energy, mining, and other industries. At the closing session the minutes were signed by Venezuelan Vice President Rafael Ramirez, who is also boss of state-run PDVSA, and Vice President of Cuba’s Council of Ministers Ricardo Ramírez Cabrisas.

Castro’s November 8 proclamation of the next Communist Party congress was highly significant because it was made in the presence of Chavez himself. According to Reuters, South America’s red tyrant showed up in Havana to “celebrate their decade-long socialist alliance in a ceremony that formally extends an economic cooperation pact and should insure a regular flow of oil to Havana for another 10 years.” There Comrades Raul and Hugo ratified an extension of the Integral Cooperation Accord the two countries adopted in October 2000. In a quid pro quo, PDVSA oil revenues have bolstered Cuba’s stagnant command economy, while 65,000 Cuban agents guide Venezuela’s military, intelligence, and security apparatus.

With faithful lackey Chavez at his side, Castro chortled: “The continuance of the accord assures not only that political and economic cooperation will continue, but that there will be a strategic union between the countries.” Reuters comments: “Their alliance is bound by a shared belief in socialist principles and animosity toward the United States, which both the Castros and Chavez routinely refer to as ‘the empire.’” Cuba can therefore count on Venezuelan petrodollars to finance Havana’s version of perestroika.

>Latin America File: Ortega admits troop deployment related to interoceanic canal; Costa Rica detains 86 Nicaraguans fleeing army enlistment

>– Costa Rica Issues Arrest Warrant for Dredging Boss Pastora, Files Suit at The Hague Demanding Nicaragua Cease Canal Construction

– Sandinista Legislator Urges Establishment of Military Post on Costa Rican Island

Events continue to unfold in the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border dispute that confirm our earliest contentions, namely that Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is determined to build a “Nicaragua Canal” with help from other Communist Bloc states, and he is unifying Nicaraguan public opinion ahead of his illegal bid for re-election in 2011. Jaime Daremblum, senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Latin American Studies, a project of the Hudson Institute, makes the same observations:

The attempted land grab confirms, yet again, that Ortega (and his party) never really changed. Though he won election fairly as the Sandinista candidate in 2006, he’s still the same corrupt, authoritarian thug who ruled Nicaragua with an iron fist during the 1980s, a time when he was receiving significant aid from the Soviet Union. Back then, Ortega looked to Moscow for both economic assistance and ideological guidance. Today, he looks to Caracas. Indeed, with each passing month Nicaragua becomes more and more like Venezuela. ……

The Obama administration must take a firm stand against Nicaragua’s belligerence. The occupation of Calero Island represents, quite simply, a cross-border invasion. (Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla is not exaggerating when she uses that word.) If the U.S. and its democratic partners in Latin America don’t firmly and effectively pressure Nicaragua to leave the island and quit its warmongering, other pro-Chávez governments may feel emboldened to pursue similar adventurism.

While the stakes in the San Juan River dispute may appear small, they’re actually quite large. Ortega is testing the willpower of his democratic neighbors. Their response will have serious consequences for the entire region.

About one week ago, Costa Rican officials detained 86 Nicaraguans in the area of San Isidro de Pocosol, near the conflict zone. Although most of the illegal immigrants professed to be looking for work in Costa Rica, a number of them admitted that the group was in fact fleeing army enlistment ahead of a potential shooting war between Managua and San Jose. Some of the Nicaraguans–perhaps recalling similar fears more than two decades ago–worried that they might have to repel a US invasion.

“I’ve heard rumors that it is happening but I can’t confirm it is true,” said Alexis Núñez, assistant director of Costa Rica’s national police in the border town of Los Chiles. The Tico Times also quoted Nunez as saying: “I know that was what the Nicaraguan military did in the 1980s, but I have yet to hear of any confirmation of that thus far.”

The neo-Sandinista regime has deployed at least 50 soldiers to Isla Calero, at the mouth of the San Juan, supposedly to interdict narco-traffickers. In defiance of a resolution passed by the Organization of American States (OAS), Ortega, with Hugo Chavez’s imprimatur, refuses to recall the troops. Angered by their opposition to his schemes, “Comandante” accused Latin America’s center-left and center-right leaders of complicity with the region’s drug lords. Notably, he exempted his far-left allies in the hemisphere, such as Chavez, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa, all of whom have evicted the US Drug Enforcement Administration from their countries.

Although Ortega has secured the support of the country’s other major parties in this obvious provocation against Costa Rica, on November 16 mass organizations affiliated with the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front marched in defense of the president and Nicaraguan sovereignty over the San Juan (pictured above, note obligatory “Che” mugshot on Cuban flag).

“The San Juan River is 100 percent Nica,” shouted pro-government demonstrators. “It’s clear that Nicaragua is the owner of the San Juan River, of its waters. There’s not the slightest doubt,” exclaimed Foreign Minister Samuel Santos Lopez to the demonstrators.

On November 17, in a move obviously designed to frustrate Ortega’s plans, the Costa Rican Prosecutor’s Office issued a warrant for the arrest of Edén Pastora, the Sandinista revolutionary hero in charge of dredging the San Juan. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the warrant was issued in response to Pastora’s alleged acts of environmental damage that violate Costa Rica’s forestry law.

In recent weeks, the ministry of security in San Jose has produced several photos and videos of such damage near the mouth of the San Juan and Laguna de los Portillos. The alleged damage includes cutting down of trees, disruption of wetlands, and dumping of river sediment into Costa Rican territory. The Prosecutor’s Office has not yet explained how it will pursue the arrest of Pastora.

Last Thursday, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla affirmed that her country respects the OAS resolution directing both countries to withdraw security forces from the conflict zone. She insists that San Jose no longer has a police presence there, nor are the national police performing aerial reconnaissance of Isla Calero. A Nicaraguan army official cast contempt on the ultimatum by retorting: “It’s not disputed territory; it’s Nicaraguan territory.”

On November 19, Nicaragua’s former foreign minister and now legislator, Francisco Aguirre Sacasa, responded to news of Costa Rica filing suit against Nicaragua with the International Court of Justice by warning that if the two countries cannot come to “some permanent agreement” on the ownership of the island, Nicaragua should install a permanent military post in the area. San Jose’s legal suit demands that Nicaragua cease “the construction of a canal on Costa Rican soil.”

This past Sunday, Ortega, flanked by his wife Rosario Murillo, admitted for the first time in a televised address that Nicaragua intends to build an interoceanic canal. “No one can prohibit us. No one,” challenged Ortega, adding: “Nicaragua reserves the right to build a canal along the San Juan River connected to Lake Nicaragua. It is a right.” He made no mention of the Nicaraguan troops on Isla Calero. “The river,” he continued, “according to the 1858 Jerez-Cañas treaty and confirmed by a ruling of the International Court of Justice at The Hague on July 2009, belongs to Nicaragua.”

While most of the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border is well defined along the San Juan’s south bank, at Isla Calero the south bank belongs to Costa Rica. Taking advantage of a Google Maps error, the neo-Sandinista regime decided that the “historic” path of the river is the real border, thus making the island its own, rather than following today’s flow, which would and does make the island Costa Rica’s. Referring to the 19th-century treaty, Ortega insisted that the Nicaraguan army has a “right” to enter Costa Rican territory, while Costa Rica has a right to be compensated.

In his TV speech, Ortega acknowledged that the dredging of the river and the building of the canal will cause some environmental damage, but then justified his army’s invasion of Costa Rica by suggesting that a hypothetical shipping disaster along an “undredged” San Juan could cause still more damage. He boasted that Nicaragua’s canal will be “better” than Panama’s since it will be a “modern” canal. The Panama Canal was built nearly a century ago, but will be widened by 2014 to double its capacity.

In a related development that is no doubt motivating “Comandante,” San Juan will also be the site for Nicaragua’s largest-ever electricity-generating plant. The 250 MW Brito hydroelectric dam will be completed in 2015 at a cost of US$600 million. Managua has hired a Brazilian company to conduct a feasibility study for the proposed dam. Clearly, Ortega intends to leave a lasting imprint on Nicaragua.

Army-less Costa Rica has no means to forcibly eject Nicaragua’s military presence on Isla Calero, but is holding out for an OAS-sponsored meeting of regional foreign minister to be held on December 7. Ortega has vowed his country will be a no-show. As for the ICJ case, this could take at least four years. Thus, San Jose continues its diplomatic activity at the OAS, while Chinchilla has vowed to take her country’s case all the way to the United Nations Security Council.

Thus far, the Russian Federation has been quiet about the Nicaragua-Costa Rica spat. Should the situation deteriorate, Moscow’s response, as usual, will be telling. In all likelihood, the Kremlin will side with its long time ally, the Sandinistas.

In a related story, the neo-Sandinista regime continues to portray itself as a serious partner in the eradication of the illicit drug trade, notwithstanding its collusion with Pablo Escobar in the 1980s. Over the weekend the Nicaraguan army and police intercepted a speedboat off the country’s Caribbean coast. The vessel, manned by five smugglers from Honduras, Panama, and Colombia, contained a ton and a half of cocaine. “During the arrest,” reports Voice of Russia, “the drug dealers put up a fierce resistance. As a result of the shootout one of the smugglers was killed.”

>Mexican Narco-State File: Venezuela, Iran to launch attacks against America from N. states; Ciudad Juarez, Reynosa under total mafia control

>– Texas Governor Rick Perry Urges President Obama to Send US Troops to Mexico

– Mexican Authorities Open Homicide Case in Investigation of Playa del Carmen Resort Blast

– Mexico’s Narcistas Follow in Path of Their Suppliers in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Recruit Child Assassins

– Businessman Flees Reynosa, Makes New Life in Texas, Predicts Mexico Will Fall to Drug Cartels after 2012 Election as Next President Cuts Deal to End War

Reynosa is the largest city in Tamaulipas, a harrowing state bordering Texas that is all but lost to federal government rule.
– Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, November 6, 2010

On Tuesday, gunmen abducted Francisco Ruiz Palacios, billings manager for the international oil services firm Weatherford, in front of the company’s offices in Tihuatlan, Veracruz. The next day, his bullet-riddled body was found outside the city. Ruiz’s employer has a drilling contract with Mexico’s state oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). Veracruz state Attorney General Salvador Mikel says investigators have no suspects and have not determined a motive. A Weatherford spokeswoman in Houston, Texas, Christine Mathers, only acknowledged that “We deeply regret the loss of our employee.”

This is not the first time that Mexico’s powerful drug cartels have kidnapped and murdered oil company employees in Mexico.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mexican troops killed 11 suspected Los Zetas members in a shootout near the Texas border. After the gun battle, authorities captured two suspected Zetas and seized 25 pounds of marijuana, automatic weapons, a grenade launcher, and ammunition. CNN affiliate KGBT reported that the clash took place in Nueva Ciudad Guerrero, Tamaulipas, which is located beside Falcon Lake, the site where US citizen David Hartley was reportedly shot and killed in September.

On Thursday, Texas Governor Rick Perry urged Washington to send US troops to Mexico to help President Felipe Calderon’s government defeat the narcistas, as we call the cartel gunmen. In August, Perry delivered a handwritten letter to President Barack Hussein Obama, in which he demanded the federal government do more to secure the border. Perry complained that the additional National Guard troops the White House authorized earlier this year are insufficient. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano retorted that Perry has the authority to deploy as many guardsmen as “he sees fit,” as long as Texas foots the bill. Pictured above: Republican presidential aspirant Perry?

Although there is still no indication of terrorism in the explosion that killed seven people, including five Canadian tourists, at the Grand Riviera Princess resort in Playa del Carmen this past Sunday, Mexican authorities have opened a homicide case. They have also retreated from an early theory that posited the buildup of swamp gas in the hotel, leading to the huge blast that raised an entire floor.

The geopolitical ramifications of Mexico’s drug war are worth consideration. Last week, the China Confidential blog alleged that Venezuela and Iran are colluding with the Mexican mafia and neo-fascists to establish bases in northern Mexico from which to launch ballistic missile strikes, biowarfare, and “Mumbai-style swarming assaults” against the USA. The blogger cited exclusive but undisclosed intelligence sources. The fact that Mexican border cities like Ciudad Juarez and Reynosa are no longer under de facto federal government rule, offers easy cover for America’s enemies to smuggle weapons of mass destruction into the lawless border region.

This theme of “northern Mexico as staging ground for attacking the USA” has figured in off-mainstream literature for at least 10 years, to wit Scott Gulbransen’s 2003 book Silent Invasion, detailing the alleged presence of Russian, Red Chinese, North Korean, and Cuban reconnaissance units south of the US border.

It is well known, though, that Venezuela’s communist dictator Hugo Chavez and Iran’s Islamo-Nazi dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have formed an alliance committed to destroying the USA and the “Zionist entity,” meaning Israel. By exploiting his alliance with Colombia’s communist rebels, Chavez has also transformed his country into a veritable narco-state. Both the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN, formerly DISIP) and the Venezuelan military are up to their armpits in red cocaine.

Lurking behind proxies Chavez and Ahmadinejad, of course, is Russia’s KGB-communist dictator Vladimir Putin, who in 2005 called the collapse of the Soviet Union the “greatest catastrophe of the 20th century.” Russian technology has turned Iran into a nuclear power and is on the verge of doing the same for Venezuela.

Tracy Wilkinson’s frightening November 6 article in the Los Angeles Times, “Caught behind Enemy Lines: Mexico under Siege,” reveals the extent to which the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas are terrorizing Reynosa, a city of 700,000 citizens across the border from McAllen, Texas, and the state of Tamaulipas in general. One Reynosa official estimates that 10 percent of the city’s residents are now refugees, many in the USA. “Reynosa is the largest city in Tamaulipas,” she reports, “a harrowing state bordering Texas that is all but lost to federal government rule.” In past posts we have described Reynosa as a city under the near-total control of Mexico’s mafia. It appears we understated the case.

After a week “behind enemy lines” in this city, Wilkinson submitted a lengthy report that we can only briefly quote. She introduces her subject as follows: “Traffickers brazenly patrol its streets, setting up roadblocks, harassing citizens, gunning down enemies and even censoring the news. Those who can flee have. Others find ways to cope.” The city-dwellers she interviewed “were terrified to speak of their experiences and agreed to do so only under the strictest anonymity. Most did not want to be seen in public with a foreign reporter and would meet only in secret. One insisted on meeting across the nearby border in the United States.”

“Narcos” patrol the airport parking lot in Reynosa. Taxi drivers are on the cartel payroll, “ordered to spy on visitors and monitor the movements of the military and state investigators. Their license plates brazenly shed, they cruise streets dotted with paper-flower shrines marking the dead.” Ironically, in the midst of the chaos and carnage, “The Burger Kings and California-style shopping malls give the city a sense—a false sense—of normalcy. Cars circulate down wide streets. Evangelical churches and donut shops and beauty parlors are open for business.”

The Gulf cartel has long dominated “economic activity” in Tamaulipas, but things got nasty in February 2010 when Los Zetas, the cartel’s paramilitary wing, broke away from its employer. States Wilkinson: “Battles raged in the spring and early summer, with uncounted scores of people killed. The Gulf cartel fought the Zetas, and the Mexican army fought them both. Bombs and grenades exploded at nightclubs, television stations and city offices. The man who was likely to be the state’s next governor was assassinated in broad daylight, along with most of his entourage.”

The Mexican army appears listless and uncoordinated in its “offensive” against the cartels. “Combat still erupts regularly,” Wilkinson says, “But Reynosa is as much a prison camp as a war zone. Army patrols periodically pass through — listening to the bad guys listening to them on radio frequencies — and on the outskirts man roadblocks and hand out leaflets pleading for citizens’ cooperation.”

The mafia has infiltrated “everything”: federal border customs, city hall, police department, taco vendors, and bootlegged compact disc kiosks. The Gulf cartel has carved up the city, while Zetas, sporting “Z” cattle brands on their foreheads, “lurk” for about 60 miles in any direction. Highways between major Tamaulipas cities are “extremely dangerous,” patrolled by one gang or the other. Reynosa residents use terms like “refugees” and “displaced” to describe their plight. Even the mayor is “displaced,” that is, hiding out in Texas.

“There is a great sense of uneasiness in the city,” worried Armando Javier Zertuche, a psychologist who also serves as Reynosa’s secretary of economic development. “It used to be that if someone got kidnapped or killed, you knew they had something to do with [drug trafficking]. Now, with this war, everyone is at risk. It has fallen on top of regular citizens.”

Wilkinson then relates some grueling stories from Reynosa’s “regular citizens”:

A commuter who works in Reynosa, but lives in another city, sometimes uses US roads to bypass cartel roadblocks, which she and her husband have encountered on at least three occasions. “My life has changed totally,” she tells Wilkinson, speaking in a hotel room with a TV on to mask the conversation. “To drive on the highways is to tempt death. This is out of the government’s hands. Mexico has been sacrificed and sold to the narcos. It is the narcos who have the power. The narcos rule our lives. They order. We must obey.”

A dentist who works in Reynosa confides to Wilkinson that “she rushes to finish all her tasks in the daytime, to avoid going out at night. Friends have been kidnapped, and everyone has a story of being caught in a gun battle. Her family frequently receives telephoned threats.” The dentist aspires to open her own office, instead of working for the state, where she cares for clients who cannot afford private health insurance. However, she does not want to pay piso–extortion money–to the narco-traffickers. “The saddest part is that our authorities have washed their hands of this,” the dentist relates, “If you have a problem, you have nowhere to go. We are abandoned and alone. You even have to be careful of your friends and workmates. You don’t know who they might be related to.”

A Reynosa journalist tells Wilkinson: “I spend all day tweeting.” Like most journalists in Tamaulipas, explains Wilkinson, this Mexican journalist is on the payroll of both his TV station and the mafia-controlled city government. She continues: “Social media networks such as Twitter have taken the place of newspapers and radio reports, with everyone from city officials to regular people tweeting alerts about a gun battle here, a blockade there.” Wilkinson rightly notes: “It is a kind of ad hoc warning system, but it is not journalism.”

Four local journalists, one of whom apparently ran a news website on behalf of the Gulf cartel, disappeared from Reynosa in March. Only one was heard from again. Mexico’s major television network Televisa has given security training to all of its employees in Tamaulipas. On-air broadcasters are told to carry several changes of clothing to elude detection and to drive “nondescript” cars.

A Reynosa mother interviewed by Wilkinson carefully guards her 13-year-old son since “recruiters for the drug traffickers cruise the neighborhoods in their SUVs, armed to the teeth, ‘fishing’ for youngsters. A 12-year-old in her son’s class was recently kidnapped. He eventually reappeared, a few cities over, but is so traumatized that he remains under psychiatric care. Outdoor recesses have frequently been canceled; school itself is often called off or interrupted when battles break out. And in their free time, kids collect spent shells as souvenirs.”

Following in the footsteps of their suppliers in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which recruits child soldiers, Mexico’s mafias recruit boys as young as 12 years old to carry out assassinations. On November 14, the New York Post reported: “Don’t be fooled by his 12-year-old’s fresh face: He’s a professional hit man working for a Mexican drug ring — and the blindfolded man propped up next to him like a rag doll in Web photos and videos is one of his victims. The tween assassin, nicknamed “El Ponchis” (“The Cloak”), gets $3,000 for each hit. He’s now the focus of a Mexican army manhunt.”

A Reynosa businessman, who is “a senior executive in his company” with “a good job with good pay and status” recently fled with his wife and children to Hidalgo, Texas. A shootout at a baseball game he was attending was enough to solidify his decision to bid farewell to his homeland. Leaving his family in the relative safety of their new, spartanly furnished US residence, the Mexican businessman commutes back to Reynosa to put in a day’s work.

“Reynosa is a minefield,” he tells Wilkinson, “You can be threatened by a soldier or by a criminal, or just stumble upon a gunfight. Anyone who can, escapes.” In Texas, other Mexican refugees, many well-educated professionals, are trying to make a new life for themselves. “One block over,” the businessman continues, “there’s another family from Reynosa. And a couple blocks farther, there are four more. You run into people you know at stoplights.”

Ominously, he predicts that after the Mexican presidential election in 2012, the next government will cut a deal with the “narcos” and “this war we did not ask for” will be over. In other words, according to Wilkinson, “It will be back to the norm: the narcos, peacefully, in charge.”

BTW, “Mexican Narco-State File” is a new blogging category at our site.

>Red Terror File: Kremlin official threatens to send “Mercader” (assassin) after Russian defector, “Colonel Shcherbakov” betrayed spy ring in USA

>– Minsk Telegraf Reveals Russian Defector’s Real Name and Career

– President Medvedev Confirms Defection as Espionage Historian Cautions “Colonel Shcherbakov” Could Be False Defector

– Trotsky’s Assassin Commemorated in the KGB Museum of Security Service at the Federal Security Service HQ in Moscow

Pictured above: On November 13, while visiting Sofia, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin cuddles a puppy given as a gift from Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borissov. Would puppy-loving Bad Vlad send a hit squad to terminate the Russian double agent who exposed an SVR ring in the USA? Da, comrade. Go ask former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko. Oh, I almost forgot. He’s dead.

According to Reuters, citing Russian daily Kommersant, “Colonel Shcherbakov,” head of Russia’s deep-cover spy ring in the USA was responsible for betraying his own network to FBI counter-intelligence and subsequently defecting. “The betrayal,” observes Reuters, “would make Shcherbakov one of the most senior turncoats since the fall of the Soviet Union and could have consequences for Russia’s proud Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and its chief, former Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.”

Gennady Gudkov, deputy chairman of the Russian State Duma’s security committee, confirms the accuracy of the original Kommersant story. “It is a major blow to the image of the Russian intelligence services,” he confided to Reuters. By contrast, SVR spokesman Sergei Ivanov refused to comment on the story. Former US intelligence officer Mark Stout opined: “Recruiting a Russian officer who was actually in charge of so-called ‘illegal operations’ in the U.S. is about as big a counter-espionage success as U.S. intelligence can hope to get.”

Kommersant reveals that Shcherbakov fled Russia days before US authorities announced the spy ring arrests on June 28, 2010. Ominously, the paper also quoted a Kremlin official as saying a Russian hit squad was probably already planning to kill him. “We know who he is and where he is,” the anonymous official was quoted as saying. “Do not doubt that a Mercader has been sent after him already.”

Ramon Mercader was a Spanish communist and Soviet agent who tracked down and murdered dissident Bolshevik Leon Trotsky with an ice axe in Mexico in 1940. He was awarded the Order of Lenin for faithfully carrying out this assassination, which was ordered by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. The 2008 DVD documentary The Soviet Story, directed by Latvian Edvin Snore, relates this and other horrific crimes of the Soviet regime, crimes that the Russian government refuses to unreservedly condemn. Incidentally, Mercader is buried under the name of Ramon Ivanovich Lopez in Moscow’s Kuntsevo Cemetery and has a place of honour in the KGB Museum of Security Service at the headquarters of the Federal Security Service.

Last June, US authorities said the Russian spy ring had been operating for at least 10 years, its members adopting false identities for the purpose of infiltrating Washington’s policy-making circles. Nine of the 10 spies are Russian born while several, intriguingly, are outspoken pro-Castro/pro-Shining Path communists. All of them pleaded guilty in US federal court and were deported to Russia in a swap that transpired in Vienna less than two weeks later.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB spy stationed in Dresden, East Germany, greeted the repatriated spies as heroes, even singing “patriotic Soviet songs” with them. Acknowledging the presence of an informer behind the exposure of the spy ring, Putin hinted that the traitor would “come to a bad end”: “The special services (SVR/FSB/KGB) live by their own laws and everyone knows what these laws are.”

Kommersant quoted an unidentified source as saying Fradkov could be sacked and the SVR folded into the powerful Federal Security Service (FSB), the main domestic successor agency of the Soviet KGB. “The damage inflicted by Shcherbakov is so enormous that a special commission should be created to analyze the reasons which allowed this complete failure to happen,” grumbled Gudkov, although he suggested that it was too early to decide whether the SVR should be merged into the FSB.

Last Friday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also confirmed that the dissolution of the Russian spy ring was the result of the defection of a senior intelligence official. During an NBC TV interview this past Saturday, US intelligence analyst David Wise surmised that Shcherbakov is most likely under FBI protection. However, US intelligence agencies have neither confirmed nor denied Russian news reports about Shcherbakov.

According to the Minsk Telegraf, Shcherbakov is really Alexander Poteev, who was born in the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic and previously served in the Soviet State Security Committee (KGB). Alexander is the son of Nikolai Poteev, Hero of the Soviet Union. This was revealed by former Soviet KGB agent Fedor Yakovlev:

I’ve known him since January 1979. We studied together in the same group at ATO (advanced training of officers), better known as the “school of saboteurs,” preparing the staff for the special forces of the KGB. Also we were sent to Afghanistan in 1979 as members of “Zenit” KGB Spetsnaz group. In 1981 I again came across with him in Afghanistan in Kabul within “Cascade-2” group of KGB Special Forces. He was awarded for his participation in the hostilities within “Cascade-1” group.

After Afghanistan, he worked for KGB, then in the Foreign Intelligence Service.

A spokesman for the Belarusian KGB responded to Yakovlev’s allegations by denying that Poteev ever worked for Minsk’s security apparatus, still known by its Soviet-era name.

With a nod toward false Soviet defectors of a bygone era, espionage historian Phillip Knightley cautioned that the Kommersant story “should be viewed in the context of the smoke and mirror world of Moscow’s spy agencies.” He told Reuters: “How do we know it is not a plant to draw Western attention away from the real betrayer? Or just to sow confusion in Western spy services?” Indeed. If only more Western analysts were as perceptive as Knightley. Following the 1961 defection of KGB major Anatoliy Golitsyn, whose predictions concerning the Soviet deception strategy have proved remarkably accurate, the issue of false Soviet defectors tore apart the CIA.

>Latin America File: Mexico’s drug war rages as huge blast kills 7 at Cancun hotel; Venezuela backs Nicaragua as Ortega threatens to leave OAS

>– Sandinista Leader Lambastes OAS Resolution Demanding Troop Withdrawal, Accuses Other Latin American Leaders of Complicity with Narco-Trafficking

– Red China’s Top General Arrives in Caracas, Pushes Bilateral Military Cooperation with Communist Venezuela

– Chavez Promotes General on US Blacklist for FARC Links, Rangel Silva Vows Venezuelan Military Will not Accept Opposition Victory in 2012

– Imprisoned Drug Lord Valencia-Arbelaez Hired Russian Crew to Fly Drug Plane from Moldova to Guinea, Putin Accused USA of “Overstepping Bounds” in Putting Russians on Trial

There is a conspiracy to spread vast quantities of cocaine throughout the world by way of cargo airplanes.
– US federal prosecutors in New York, statement from 2009 case

Over the weekend, Mexico’s drug war claimed 16 new victims in the northern states, once again exposing the ineffective response of President Felipe Calderon’s government to the destabilizing narco-insurgency that has gripped his country for four years.

On Friday, cartel gunmen killed eleven people in an apparent mass execution in the state of Tamaulipas. One of those killed was the chief of public works in San Fernando, Marco Samuel Herrera Rangel. In a separate incident, in Jimenez, a small town that is about 100 kilometers from the state capital of Ciudad Victoria, five men were found dead near a gas station at what appears to be the scene of a shootout. Three bullet-riddled bodies were discovered in a car, while another two bodies were located about 200 meters from the vehicle.

This past Sunday, gunmen stormed into the Desperados bar in war-wracked Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, and shot up 13 patrons, killing five. All of these slayings came a week after Mexican marines cornered and executed Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen, boss of the Gulf cartel. According to various press reports, as of October 31, 7,500 people have died this year in Mexico’s drug war.

On the same day, a massive explosion rocked the Grand Riviera Princess Hotel in Playa del Carmen, near Cancun, killing five Canadian tourists and two Mexican employees (pictured above). In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Carson Arthur described the effects of the powerful explosion: “All of the air was sucked out of every open door, every room and then pushed back at a huge rate. The velocity of the air coming back was incredible, so people were thrown around all over the place in the rooms and hallways. There were several people in the debris. There was [sic] a lot of people wounded from flying glass.”

In another interview, with the Canadian Press, tourist James Gaade estimated that approximately one half of the hotel’s guests were fellow Canadians. “I looked and you could see that the roof [of the restaurant] had collapsed,” Gaade said, adding: “There was a large crater in the area, debris. Everyone said their hotel room shook. The glass at neighbouring restaurants all cracked and blew out. The tiki hut that was in the area, that was on fire.”

Mexican authorities speculate that natural gas accumulation in the building was responsible for the explosion. Thus, there is no reason at this time to implicate Mexico’s drug lords or dormant communist guerrillas. However, if this blast was deliberate, then it would represent a major escalation of violence against Calderon’s “bourgeois regime.”

Further south, the makings of a new Cold War are festering in Central America as Nicaragua’s past/present communist dictator Daniel Ortega threatens to withdraw his country from the Organization of American States. On Friday night, the OAS endorsed a resolution that requires Managua to remove 50 soldiers from a small island claimed by Costa Rica at the mouth of the San Juan River. The vote was nearly unanimous. Only Nicaragua and Venezuela dissented. The president of Venezuela, fellow communist Hugo Chavez, is a close ally of Ortega.

Even though the first Sandinista regime provided safe haven for Pablo Escobar, boss of the Medellin cartel, in the 1980s, Ortega accused other OAS states of defending the interests of the region’s drug lords. In a nationally televised address on Saturday night, Ortega railed against the OAS for conducting a “rigged” vote to approve the resolution. He insists Nicaragua will maintain troops in the area because Isla Calero “belongs” to Nicaragua and the soldiers are there to interdict drug traffickers.

The Nicaraguan president went on to specifically accuse Costa Rica, Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, and Panama of endangering the region’s political stability: “This proposal that the OAS approved last night says that we should leave this land free for drug trafficking. And we don’t accept that. Drug traffickers are directing Costa Rica’s foreign policy.” Notably, in his “indictment” Ortega failed to include his red buddies Chavez, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa—three South American presidents who have evicted the US Drug Enforcement Administration from their countries.

Last year, the International Court of Justice granted ownership rights over the San Juan to Nicaragua, but gave Costa Rica limited navigation rights along a 140-kilometer stretch of the river. This weekend, a belligerent Ortega demanded navigation rights on Costa Rica’s Colorado River, which receives about 90 percent of its water flow from the San Juan. “Comandante” wrapped up his tantrum by announcing that his government may withdraw from the OAS. “I ask myself, does it make any sense to still be in the OAS?” whined Ortega. In any event, he said Nicaragua will not send delegates to a special meeting of foreign ministers convoked this week by Costa Rica.

During his rant-fest, Ortega described Mexico as “a country infested with drug trafficking.” In response, the Mexican Foreign Ministry fired off a diplomatic note to Managua, protesting that the Nicaraguan president’s remarks “do not have base.” The Mexican government supported the OAS resolution demanding the withdrawal of Nicaraguan troops from Isla Calero.

In comments to Costa Rica’s Nica Times last week, Nicaragua’s honorary foreign minister, Miguel D’Escoto Brockman—who is also past president of the United Nations General Assembly—spat: “The OAS has no reason to exist anymore.” A long-time Sandinista, liberationist Catholic priest, and recipient of the Soviet Union’s Lenin Peace Prize, D’Escoto branded the OAS “an instrument controlled by you know who” (meaning the USA).

In a related story, on Friday unknown assailants in a vehicle tossed a gasoline bomb at the Nicaraguan embassy in San Jose, but the device did not catch fire and no injuries or damage were reported. Since the border dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica appears to be part of a wider plot by Russia, Venezuela, and Iran to advance the construction of a “Nicaragua Canal,” this incident could just as easily have been perpetrated by Managua’s agents provocateur.

If Nicaragua does leave the OAS, this would be ironic because the Sandinistas refuse to support the re-admission of Honduras into this international organization. Most of Latin America’s leftist governments reject the legitimacy of Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, demanding, instead, the reinstatement of slavish Chavez lackey Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted last year in a military-backed coup instigated by his own Liberal Party.

Meanwhile, the People’s Republic of China is closing ranks in the field of officer exchanges and other aspects of military cooperation with both leftist and rightist regimes in Latin America and the Caribbean Basin. Earlier this year, Red China’s defense minister visited Mexico City with the intention of promoting bilateral military cooperation. This September, Chinese and Russian honor guards participated in celebrations marking Mexico’s bicentennial of independence. For many years, of course, Red China has also shipped weapons to its comrades in arms in Cuba.

This Sunday, Chen Bingde, chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), led a delegation of senior brass on a three-day goodwill visit to Communist Venezuela. “The Chinese military is keen on having good exchange with its Venezuelan counterpart,” a member of the PLA delegation commented as they were welcomed by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and Defense Minister Carlos Mata Figueroa. In a brief talk with Chen, Maduro gushed: “Venezuela has always admired China’s splendid history and culture. The PLA of China is a great army with both strong spirits and state-of-the-art science and technology.”

During his stay, Chen is scheduled to meet with President Chavez and military leaders who have been responsible for communizing Venezuela’s armed forces. He will also visit the country’s ministry of defense headquarters and a military academy. Before arriving in Venezuela, Chen paid a three-day visit to Ecuador, where President Correa is closely aligned with Chavez. Chen will later travel to Peru, which has a center-left government, but one which is pro-Washington. It may be that Beijing will try to woo Peruvian President Alan Garcia away from his alliance with the USA.

Among the Venezuelan generals who support Chavez’s “Bolivarian Revolution” are top aide Henry Rangel Silva. Comrade Hugo has praised General Rangel as a “revolutionary soldier” and singled him out for promotion to the post of chief of the defense staff. On the November 14 airing of Alo Presidente, Chavez crowed: “I will have the honor and pleasure of promoting … Gen. Rangel Silva while the anti-patriotic opposition lashes out at patriotic generals like him. What they attempt to do is create divisions within the armed forces.”

General Rangel endorses the Venezuelan armed forces’ new salute—“Socialist homeland or death! We will be victorious!”—and vowed in a recent interview that the army will not respect an opposition victory in the 2012 presidential election. Rangel’s threatened intervention in the Venezuelan political system prompted OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza, who lately has been trying to mediate the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border dispute, to rebuke the general. Insulza, a Chilean socialist, called Rangel’s remarks “unacceptable.” Chavez shot back at Insulza: “His unfortunate statements are nothing more than disrespect for our sovereignty.”

Rangel has been blacklisted by the US Office of Foreign Asset Control. In September 2008, the US Treasury Department alleged that the general provided material support to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Teodoro Petkoff, editor of the opposition newspaper Tal Cual, alleges Chavez plans to instruct the military to ignore a potential opposition victory. Petkoff predicts that Chavez will in fact lose the next election and warned that “violent upheaval” could occur if the military rejects voters’ wishes. “It’s a brainwashing venture, making officials get accustomed to think their job is not to recognize the election results,” Petkoff asserted during a Sunday program broadcast on the pro-opposition Globovision TV channel. “When the president of the republic is defeated, the armed forces will have to decide if it’s convenient to prop up the head of state amid an ocean of blood.”

Venezuela’s opposition coalition has agreed to field a single candidate in 2012, but has not yet decided when or how to choose Chavez’s replacement. The ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela won the parliamentary election in September, but returned to the National Assembly with a reduced majority. The Communist Party of Venezuela, which had a presence in that body until the 2010 election, openly backs Chavez’s slavishly pro-Cuban regime.

Chavez’s Venezuela: Base for Transatlantic Red Cocaine Flights

Cases currently working their way through the US federal court system have inadvertently shed light on the sordid nexus between Latin America’s Red Axis regimes and its drug cartels. As we previously blogged, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime first sounded the alarm about transatlantic drug planes in November 2009, when a burned-out Boeing 727 was found in the deserts of Mali. According to US federal investigators, drug smugglers flew the jet from Venezuela, unloaded it, and then torched the aircraft. In some cases, executive jets have been used, including a Gulfstream II that landed in Guinea-Bissau in 2008 and another Gulfstream seized in 2007 as it tried to depart Venezuela for Sierra Leone.

Last year, a flurry of arrests exposed the drug lords’ air routes. “The quantity of cocaine distributed and the means employed to distribute it were extraordinary,” US prosecutors wrote in one case. They warned of a conspiracy to “spread vast quantities of cocaine throughout the world by way of cargo airplanes.” The global economic recession has contributed to the cocaine epidemic by idling hundreds of cargo jets, which can be bought cheaply. Internet ads such as offer DC-8s for as low as US$275,000.

Under the Chavezista regime, Venezuela has become the most important distribution hub for South America’s red cocaine, that is, cocaine originating from countries controlled by leftist regimes. According to US indictments, at least three cartels have struck deals to fly drugs to West Africa, in particular, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, and Sierra Leone. One trafficker claimed he already had six aircraft flying. Another said he was managing five airplanes.

Since there is no radar coverage over the ocean, big planes can cross the Atlantic virtually undetectable. From Mali’s corner of the Sahara Desert, operatives of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb allegedly pack the cocaine overland to the Mediterranean Sea and then to its ultimate destination, the European Union. Incidentally, cocaine consumption in the USA has stabilized in recent years, but soared in the EU.

“In some ways the plot is a throwback to the 1970s and ’80s, when drug pilots flew freely between Colombia and staging areas near the US border, in northern Mexico,” comments Scott Decker, a criminology professor at Arizona State University. He adds: “Back then, drug lords such as Amado Carrillo, nicknamed ‘The Lord of the Skies,’ sent jets with almost 15 tonnes of cocaine from Colombia to northern Mexico.” Today’s drug lords, Decker continues, are once again using South America’s Caribbean coast as a launch pad: “Going that way, especially from South America, really gets you outside the majority of the security envelope for air traffic.”

Vanda Felbab-Brown, a fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, concurs:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s decision to sever ties with most U.S. law enforcement agencies in 2005 has made it easier to bring cocaine to staging sites on the Venezuelan coast, The DEA is not present there, the Venezuelan military is making money off it, and much of the territory is just not controlled by the government.

Drug lords who have operated out of Venezuela include former Chavez campaign financier Walid Makled-Garcia, profiled in a recent post, and Jesus Eduardo Valencia-Arbalaez, who pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking in a US federal court this past July and was sentenced to 17-1/2 years in prison.

The Valencia-Arbelaez Organization used detailed spreadsheets to calculate flight costs and distributed codebooks to conceal their plans. Strategy sessions took place in Denmark, Spain, (formerly communist) Romania, and a Best Western hotel in Manhattan. Fuel and pilots were paid for through wire transfers, cash-filled suitcases and, in one case, a bag stuffed with US$356,000 in euros left at a hotel bar. On at least one occasion, Valencia-Arbelaez hired a Russian crew to transport a newly acquired plane from (formerly communist) Moldova to Romania, and then to Guinea.

Most of Valencia-Arbelaez’s cocaine was destined for Europe, but a fraction of each shipment was diverted to New York. “I sold airplanes to these people so I knew what was going on,” testified Manuel Silva-Jaramillo, a US aeronautical engineer, to a federal judge. “I knew that they were bringing the drugs to the United States.” The cartel had access to a private airfield in Guinea, was considering buying its own airport, and had dispatched a team to explore the feasibility of direct flights from (communist-controlled) Bolivia to West Africa.

In Liberia, the Valencia-Arbelaez Organization tried to bribe Fumbah Sirleaf, chief of the Liberian security agency and son of the country’s president, into overlooking drug flights originating from Venezuela and Panama. However, Sirleaf was secretly coordinating with the DEA and presumably knew that the ring had already sent aircraft into Liberia, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau.

The Valencia-Arbelaez case aroused the ire of the Russian government because one of the defendants, Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, maintains he was tortured by Liberian police before being handed over to the DEA. He and the other five defendants denied the charges against them. The Russian Foreign Ministry accused the US government of “kidnapping” Yaroshenko and failing to inform Moscow. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called his arrest an example of the USA “overstepping its bounds.” The DEA denies Yaroshenko was abused.

>Latin America File: Ortega rejects Chinchilla’s ultimatum to remove troops from Isla Calero, San Jose intercepts military trucks bound for Sandinistas

>– Strategic Implications of Fabricated Nicaragua-Costa Rica Border Spat:

1) Tests Costa Rica’s Resolve ahead of Russian-Venezuelan-Iranian Plan to Build “Nicaragua Canal,” Steal Business from Panama Canal

2) Provides Possible Cover for Russians and Venezuelans to Insert Military Assets into Central America, Outflank New US Bases in Panama

3) Creates False National Unity among Nicaraguans ahead of Ortega’s Illegal Bid for Presidency in 2011

– Google Glitch Bolsters Sandinistas’ Territorial Claims, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Demands Retention of Error

Pictured above: Nicaraguan soldiers near Costa Rican border on November 4, 2010. Map of contested area below.

This is not a border problem, it is the invasion of one nation to another.
– Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, statement made on November 10, 2010

As Nicaragua and Costa Rica once again wrestle over legal ownership of the San Juan River, a status that was technically settled in Managua’s favor last year, the Communist Bloc players behind the neo-Sandinista regime are hoving into view. The San Juan empties into the Caribbean Sea and forms the eastern part of the countries’ common border.

The dispute erupted late last month when Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega ordered former Sandinista revolutionary hero Eden Pastora, who now sports polo shirts instead of battle dress, to supervise the dredging of the San Juan, ostensibly to improve navigation. Shortly after the operation began, Nicaraguan troops accosted a Costa Rican rancher on his own property, scooped a chunk of the man’s real estate into the river, scared off some farmhands, and killed several cows. A Nicaraguan flag was raised on the seized land. Around the same time, on October 21, Nicaraguan troops appeared on Isla Calero, a 151-square-kilometer coastal island near the San Juan’s mouth, and erected a makeshift base.

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla rushed 70 heavily armed national police to the northeast sector of the country to help the coast guard patrol the river region. Nicaragua insists Costa Rica has no legal claim to the island, because it is clearly designated as Nicaraguan territory by both 19th-century border treaties and Google Maps (which is a story in itself, as we relate below).

The Organization of American States, responding to an appeal from San Jose, intervened last weekend by dispatching OAS secretary general, José Miguel Insulza, to hold separate meetings with Ortega and Chinchilla. During a three-day visit to Central America, Insulza made two flyovers of the San Juan and Isla Calero. Although Insulza claimed not to have seen Nicaraguan troops during a flyover of the area on Monday, their widely reported presence on the island is the basis of the current spat between Managua and San Jose. After his fact-finding mission, Insulza made this and other recommendations: “To create a favorable climate for dialogue between the two nations, the presence of armed forces in an area where they could generate tension should be avoided.”

In response to Insulza’s recommendations, Enrique Castillo, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the OAS, issued an ultimatum to Nicaragua on Tuesday afternoon, demanding that all Nicaraguan troops retreat from the area within 48 hours. “Beginning right now, we are demanding that Nicaragua remove all military personnel from Isla Calero within 48 hours,” declared Castillo, adding: “We consider their presence on Isla Calero to be a direct violation of national sovereignty and Costa Rican territory.”

Two days before, Chinchilla had warned that her country will go all the way to the United Nations, if necessary, to seek redress: “We have been very clear: If the inter-American system fails us, if it proves weak, we will consult higher authorities. We are willing to take it, if the case calls for it, to the Security Council of the United Nations. Whatever solution that comes from this process will be a peaceful one. Costa Rica is asking only for a fair exit to the conflict.”

Unimpressed by the threats emanating from the otherwise peaceful Costa Ricans, Nicaragua’s vice president, Jaime Morales Carazo, a former Contra rebel, rejected San Jose’s demands that Managua remove around 50 soldiers from Isla Calero. “We cannot invade our own territory,” he chided.

On Wednesday, 84 lawmakers from Nicaragua’s otherwise deadlocked National Assembly held a special session in the river port town of San Carlos. The legislators—representing the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front, the Constitutionalist Liberal Party, and assorted Sandinista dissidents—produced a unanimous six-point resolution to defend Nicaragua’s sovereign right to the San Juan, to support President Ortega’s actions to defend and dredge the river, and to allocate more funds to the Nicaraguan Army to patrol the border.

On Thursday, a 15-member delegation from the National Assembly and top army brass boarded three military helicopters to fly to the disputed river territory (pictured here). Instead of overseeing the withdrawal of troops, the lawmakers and military command arrived at Isla Calero in a show of support for both the troops and national unity. Pastora was quick to join Sandinista and opposition legislators in supporting Ortega: “This congressional session on the river delivers a serious and profound message that all men and women in Nicaragua are united behind the president in defending our sovereignty and dignity. I think Costa Rica is going to have to think twice. Costa Rica is defeated.”

General Julio Aviles, a former Sandinista guerrilla, vowed that the military would defend the San Juan against Costa Rica’s “expansionist pretensions.” He accused army-less Costa Rica of “generating conflict and hostilities” and trying to intimidate Nicaragua as part of a “systematic campaign.” The general huffed: “But these threats don’t intimidate us.” In a somewhat confusing turn of events, Aviles insisted there are no troops occupying Isla Calero. Rather, Nicaraguan soldiers are occupying the smaller, neighboring Isla Portillo (Harbor Head).

“Nicaragua is making a mockery of everyone here today,” Castillo protested after the ultimatum expired on Thursday. San Jose then offered a 24-hour extension but, by Friday morning, it was apparent that more Nicaraguan soldiers had arrived on Isla Calero.

The neo-Sandinista regime is not placated by the OAS intervention. Denis Moncada, Managua’s OAS representative, alleged in the Nicaraguan media that “Costa Rica is conniving with Colombia and Honduras” to link the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border dispute with another tiff between Nicaragua and Colombia over maritime rights in the western Caribbean Sea. “With its activities at The Hague, and its requests at the OAS, Costa Rica is trying to create documents to add to the [International Court of Justice’s] file,” Moncada told Nicaragua’s Channel 4 television.

Both capitals are accusing the other of “provocations,” but it is evident that the neo-Sandinista regime is moving more military and construction equipment into the disputed river region.

This week, San Jose’s Minister of Public Security, Jose Maria Tijerino, announced that the Costa Rican National Police seized six military trucks that were shipped from Germany and bound for Nicaragua. The vehicles landed at the port of Limón as Nicaragua does not have suitable ports on its Caribbean coast. Later, after meeting with President Chinchilla’s Security Council, Tijerino revealed that the trucks would be permitted to proceed to their destination. “This serves as an example we are [a] state of rights and are not at war with Nicaragua,” explained Tijerino.

Although the military trucks seized by the Costa Ricans apparently originated in Germany, geopolitical analysts should prepare for the possibility that Russia will at some point begin shipping military hardware to its old Central American client state. Since KGB asset Ortega returned to power four years ago, Moscow has pledged to upgrade Nicaragua’s Soviet-vintage armed forces. Indeed, earlier this month, Nicaragua’s ambassador to the Russian Federation, Luis Alberto Molina Quadra, attended a session of the Russian-Nicaraguan Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, and Technical Cooperation. The commission held its first “post”-Cold War meeting in Managua last June.

This past Monday, Pastora announced on national radio that Managua will dispatch two more dredges to the San Juan. He did not offer a date for resumption of the dredging, but noted that the project will span two years and, when the work is complete, large ships will be able to navigate the San Juan. The National Port Company will provide one of the new dredges, while a third is being built in the town of El Viejo. Interestingly, as we have pointed out before, the first dredge to appear on site and to provoke the current commotion between Nicaragua and Costa Rica was designed by a Russian engineer.

In an ironic turn of events, Costa Rica’s government is blaming Google Maps for inadvertently bolstering Nicaragua’s claim to Isla Calero, as well as to territory fully south of the river. Pastora justified his actions by informing Costa Rica’s La Nacion newspaper that the Nicaraguan army is relying on Google Maps to remain on its side of the border. “See the satellite photo on Google, and here you see the frontier,” Pastora claimed, adding: “In the last 3,000 meters, both sides are Nicaraguan. From there to El Castillo the border itself is the right bank, clearly.”

Google has confessed its transgression. Charlie Hale wrote on the Google Maps blog: “The map is wrong, and wrong by roughly 2.7 kilometers. It is our goal to provide the most accurate, up-to-date maps possible. Maps are created using a variety of data sources, and there are inevitably going to be errors in that data. We work hard to correct any errors as soon as we discover them.” Undaunted, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Samuel Santos urged Google representative Jeffrey Hardy to retain the error: “I officially request that the border marking not be modified.”

On November 11, Haaretz was the first major news source to draw a connection between the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border incident and a Nicaraguan-Venezuelan-Iranian plan to build a new canal across Central America. This possibility was lurking in the back of our mind over the last few weeks since we have previously reported on Ortega’s attempt to also solicit Russia’s support in the project, which would rival the Panama Canal in strategic importance. In this light, the Nicaraguan government’s dredging of the San Juan River makes perfect sense. The San Juan links the Caribbean to Lake Nicaragua, from which only a relatively short canal is needed to reach the Pacific Ocean through Rivas Department.

“Sources in Latin America have told Haaretz,” relates Israeli journalist Shlomo Papirblat, “that the border incident and the military pressure on Costa Rica, a country without an army, are the first step in a plan formulated by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, with funding and assistance from Iran, to create a substitute for the strategically and economically important Panama Canal.”

Papirblat rightly observes that “Panama is a country with a distinctly pro-American orientation,” especially since the election in 2009 of US-educated businessman Ricardo Martinelli. Late last year, President Martinelli concluded an agreement with Washington to return the US military to Panama. The canal’s economic importance to Panama City cannot be understated either, Papirblatt continues:

The transit fees paid by the ships and other canal-related activities account for 75 percent of the annual revenues of Panama’s economy. The Panamanian economy and Panamanian stability would be in real danger of collapse if another canal took away its monopoly on shipping between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

In 2009 the International Court of Justice at The Hague granted ownership of the San Juan to Nicaragua, but gave navigation rights to Costa Rica. “However,” notes Papirblat, “the results of this ruling are not enough to allow for the implementation of the plan formulated by Venezuela and Nicaragua. In order to build a new canal linking the two oceans, they would also need to control the southern bank of the river and the point where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean.”

This past July, the Nicaraguan foreign ministry informed Costa Rica of Nicaragua’s plans to deepen the San Juan in order to improve shipping on the waterway. Nothing was mentioned about building a trans-isthmian canal. Initially, therefore, Costa Rica did not oppose the plans but San Jose should have been tipped off to Managua’s real intentions when Ortega placed the project under the supervision of Pastora, whose nom de guerre was once “Comandante Zero.” On November 8, Pastora inadvertantly (it would seem) exposed more of Managua’s designs when he mentioned that, after dredging, the San Juan would be able to accommodate large ships.

“Sources in Latin America,” reveals Papirblat, “consider these events, and the power demonstrated by Nicaragua, as a trial balloon by the creators of the ‘New Canal Plan’ – Venezuela, Iran and Nicaragua.” He then appends some disturbing data, “Western intelligence agencies are closely following the path of heavy machinery equipment to Nicaragua as well as the activities of Iranians in the Nicaraguan capital Managua.” The six Nicaragua-bound military trucks that Costa Rican police seized this week may have been part of that “path of heavy machinery equipment.”

According to Novosti, “The proposed canal, whose construction is estimated by experts at $18 billion, would be able to accommodate ships larger than those that can pass through the Panama Canal, even after its enlargement.” Russia’s involvement in the project extends back to at least December 2008, when Ortega broached the subject during his first “post”-Cold War trek to Moscow.

Iran’s involvement extends back to March 2007, when Iranians, some in suits, others in combat dress, were spotted near Nicaragua’s Monkey Point, the potential site for a deep-water port (that could receive Russian warships). Earlier that year, only days after Ortega’s re-inauguration, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad paid a friendly visit to Ortega as part of wider Latin American tour that included a house call to Chavez.

“The imperialists don’t like us to help you progress and develop. They don’t like us to get rid of poverty and unite people,” chimed Ahmadinejad, standing amid Managua’s shantytowns, “But the whole world knows that Nicaragua and Iran are together.” Ortega and Ahmadinejad also announced that they were restoring full diplomatic relations and re-opening embassies in their capitals.

Venezuela’s involvement also extends back to 2007, when Chavez announced a plan to build a US$350 million highway across Nicaragua. As these news reports surfaced, the USA did not express any concern about potential Russian, Venezuelan, or Iranian activities in Central America. According to Papirblat, a US State Department official told Haaretz’s Washington correspondent that the US government is “not aware of any plans to build a new canal in Latin America.”

On a side note, there are indications that Russia and Venezuela may move military assets into Nicaragua under the cover of joint exercises with the Sandinistas. While visiting Managua in February, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced combined maneuvers with the Nicaraguans, but set no date. More than a year ago, joint military exercises that entailed the deployment of Venezuelan warplanes and warships in Nicaragua were also announced for May and June of 2010. Nothing came of this little-reported news item, even though Ortega signed an emergency decree to ratify the arrival of Venezuelan troops in his country. The Venezuelan air force, of course, boasts the latest in Russian fighter jet technology.

As a final point, the border spat between Nicaragua and Costa Rica diverts public attention away from Ortega’s illegal bid for the presidency next year and solidifies support for “Comandante” across party lines. Communist Bloc countries like Russia and Venezuela, as well as their allies, like Iran, have every vested reason to make sure Ortega stays in power.

>USA File: Obama instructs NORTHCOM to quietly cooperate with Calderon, defeat drug cartels; US sends military advisors, intel specialists to Mexico

>Our partnership with Mexico is my number one priority.
— Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr., Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command/US Northern Command

Pictured here: Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon and his wife Margarita Zavala arrive in Seoul, to attend the G20 summit, on November 10, 2010. Calderon faces a major narco-insurgency in his homeland, one that has already spilled over the US border.

On Monday, gunmen kidnapped and killed Gregorio Barradas Miravete, mayor-elect of Juan Rodriguez Clara, in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz. Barradas was a member of President Felipe Calderon’s center-right National Action Party. Barradas and two companions were forced into a Hummer truck in the south of Veracruz and then driven to the neighboring state of Oaxaca. “The truck was found with the three bodies inside,” authorities said. Barradas is the 13th Mexican mayor to be murdered in 2010, thus far.

It is not clear if Barradas’ killers were narcistas, that is, the heavily armed thugs in the employ of Mexico’s powerful drug cartels. Narcistas regularly pack automatic weapons and RPGs, acquired on the black market from the USA and even from the Russian Mafia, which is a front for the Kremlin’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR/KGB). Incidentally, we are not sure if anyone else is using the term “narcista” in connection with the Mexican drug war but, if not, then we’ll take credit for coining the word.

Meanwhile, the White House has quietly directed the military’s Northern Command (NORTHCOM) to “up” its cooperation with the Mexican Army, which for more than a century has trained to defend the country against the USA. This past March, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led a high-powered delegation, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, to Mexico City, where the Americans promised little in the way of adding muscle to Calderon’s declaration of war against the drug lords. Last September, however, Clinton changed her tune and rightly described Mexico’s drug war as an “insurgency” similar to that of Colombia’s in the 1990s. Particularly horrific massacres of civilians, including teens and children, have taken place in recent weeks.

“U.S. military officials,” explains Washington Post journalist Mary Beth Sheridan, “have been hesitant to discuss publicly their growing ties with Mexico, for fear of triggering a backlash among a Mexican public wary of interference.” Current and former US officials admit that the Pentagon has in fact instructed hundreds of Mexican military officers since 2008 in subjects such as operations planning, intelligence collection, and human rights issues. This assistance may very well have led to the demise of the Gulf cartel’s boss last Friday. Mexican marines killed Antonio (“Tony Tormenta”) Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen in a shootout that followed a six-month intelligence gathering operation.

“We’ve been directed by the president [Barack Hussein Obama], at a very high level, to really think hard about how we can up our game, do more to support the partnership with the Mexican government,” said one senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The source added: “President Calderon wants us in. We have to be respectful, obviously, and make clear we take responsibility for part of the problem and are supporting, not telling Mexico what to do.”

“We have tried to share many of the lessons we’ve learned in chasing terrorist organizations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” acknowledged General Victor Renuart, who recently retired as chief of NORTHCOM. “The changes in the relationship between the Mexican military and the U.S. military are, I believe, historic,” Renuart enthused. Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr., Renuart’s successor, has called the partnership with Mexico his “number one priority.”

Bitterly recalling past US invasions, such as during the Mexican-American War and General John J. Pershing’s intervention against Pancho Villa, Mexico City will not permit US military trainers or advisors to deploy on its soil full time. Still, US officers regularly travel to Mexico to deliver short courses to Mexican counterparts, who then train their own personnel. Among those Americans traveling to Mexico to give seminars are staff members from the Joint Special Operations University, which trains US Special Operations forces. US law enforcement agencies have also increased their cooperation with Mexican counterparts, even “embedding” intelligence specialists in a Mexican command center.

Reciprocally, more Mexican officers are being trained at US military bases, including the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC) at Fort Benning, Georgia. For the first time, too, a Mexican officer is serving as assistant commandant at the WHISC. Formerly known as the School of the Americas, the institute is a bête noire of leftists and peaceniks. Mexico has also stationed a permanent liaison officer at NORTHCOM, which is based in Colorado.

“There clearly is a role for the U.S. military, but it is as a supporting player,” said Roberta Jacobson, who coordinates the US State Department’s Merida Initiative assistance. The Pentagon’s counternarcotics funding for Mexico has nearly tripled in as many years, from US$12.2 million in 2008 to more than US$34 million in 2010. This sum is a small fraction of the total anti-drug money directed to Mexico under Merida. The Pentagon will also cover part of the bill for the 1,200 National Guard troops that President Obama recently deployed to the border with Mexico. Those forces, however, remain under the operational control of state governors.

Is it not intriguing that since the Cold War communism is no longer perceived as the world’s preeminent threat but, rather, Islamic terrorism and the international narcotics trade? The Soviets thought of that too. Will the new Republican majority in the US House of Representatives thwart the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s long-range plan for global domination and Obama’s capitulationism? Do you want the truthful answer?

>Event Convergence Alert: Mystery Monday missile launch off coast of Los Angeles puzzles viewers ahead of G20 summit in South Korea

>– Pentagon Denies Involvement with Sea-Borne Launch of “Massive” Missile near Los Angeles

– Kremlin Media Concocts Story of “Unauthorized Trident-2 Launch”

This past Monday night, someone launched an intercontinental ballistic missile off the coast of California. The “massive” missile’s smokey trail was visible to residents of Los Angeles, including a CBS helicopter news team. Doug Richardson, editor of Jane’s Missiles and Rockets, examined the CBS video for the Times of London. “It’s a solid propellant missile,” he told the Times. “You can tell from the efflux [smoke].”

Robert Ellsworth, former US ambassador to NATO and a former deputy secretary of defense, viewed video of the apparent missile and commented: “It’s spectacular… It takes people’s breath away. It is a big missile.”

Frustratingly, for those who want to find the culprit, the US Navy and Air Force not only deny responsibility but also deny that the projectile was a missile. CNN reports: “Officials at the Pentagon also did not know any details about the launch and said that it could not have been planned military action. Vandenberg Air Force says it sent a rocket skyward Friday night, but there have been no launches since then.”

A regular visitor to our blog, who has a past career in the US military, concurs: the Pentagon always announces missile tests, primarily to avoid potential disasters with commercial sea and air traffic.

US President Barack Hussein Obama is attending the G20 summit in South Korea. Thus, there has been speculation that Washington was sending a not-so-subtle message to the People’s Republic of China about its ballistic “throw weight.” Along the same theme, the White House could also have been warning North Korea to avoid doing anything “stupid” during the G20 meet-and-greet.

Additional speculation centers on a hoax consisting of Photoshopped contrails from an aircraft or possibly an amateur missile. (Whoa, dude, that’s quite an amateur missile!)

For its part, the Kremlin media concocted the story of an “unauthorized ICBM launch” to explain this “UFO”: “An unauthorized ICBM Trident-2 launch is likely to have occurred off California’s coast in the United States. The opinion has been ventured by the vice-president of the Russian Council of Military Experts Alexander Vladimirov.” Comrade Vladimirov: Are you sure? An unauthorized ICBM launch from a US submarine? Heads will surely roll in the Pentagon.

On the other hand, if the missile did not originate from the US military, then there are only a few likely alternatives. Russia, of course, has significant SLBM capability, while Red China has a limited SLBM capability. North Korea or Iran could potentially launch a Shahab or Taepodong-2 missile from a ship disguised as a civilian vessel. One thing is clear: This missile delivered a big message from someone to someone.

>Latin America File: Bogota extradites FARC middleman to Caracas, Makled poured $ into Chavez coffer, won concession at Venezuelan port to ship cocaine

>– Mexican Marines Ambush, Kill Gulf Cartel Boss Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen in Matamoros

– University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College Cancel Classes “Because of Gunfire Taking Place across the Rio Grande”

– Cartel Gunmen Shoot Up 20 Civilians, Police in War-Wracked Ciudad Juarez over Weekend

– US Consulate in Hermosillo Imposes Travel Restrictions on Employees in Sinaloa and Sonora States; Armored Vehicles Required, Night Travel and Some Regions Banned

Pictured above: Mexican soldiers stand next to a vehicle during a gunfight with cartel members in Matamoros, on November 5, 2010.

According to Venezuela’s communist dictator, Hugo Chavez, Colombia will extradite a Venezuelan businessman who is accused of being a major drug kingpin in league with the narco-trafficking Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Chavez, who is visiting Havana to sign more cooperation agreements with Cuba, announced the extradition on Cuban television.

Last Tuesday, during a face-to-face meeting, Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos promised Chavez that Walid “The Turk” Makled would be shipped back to Venezuela, not the USA, where he is also wanted on drug charges. Colombian authorities arrested Makled in August in a joint operation with the US Drug Enforcement Administration. “The Turk” is accused of transporting tons of cocaine each month to the USA and the European Union.

After their meeting, Santos and Chavez pledged to improve relations between their countries, which degenerated last year over a Colombian plan to allow US counter-narcotics troops more access to its bases. They did not disclose any specific accords on Makled, who admitted in an interview that in 2007 he poured US$2 million into Chavez’s constitutional referendum campaign and, in return, obtained a concession at Venezuela’s Puerto Cabello, his alleged shipping point for drugs.

On Cuban TV, Chavez railed that the US government planned to make Makled “vomit” accusations against him and then use the false charges to justify placing Venezuela on Washington’s list of countries that support drug trafficking. “I am sure that the Colombian government is not going to take part in that game,” he rumbled.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the narco-shipping routes maintained by Latin America’s Red Axis, Mexican narcistas shot up 20 more civilians and police in war-wracked Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.

Among the body count were seven men who were believed to have been attending a family party when they were gunned down on Saturday night, related Arturo Sandoval, spokesman for the attorney general’s office in Chihuahua state. Five were found dead in a car, while the other two were shot at the entrance of the home. Eleven other people, Sandoval said, were killed on Saturday in Ciudad Juarez, including two whose bodies were dismembered, which is a typical gesture from Mexico’s brutal drug cartels.

On Sunday, two city police officers, a man and a woman, were ambushed and shot dead inside their patrol car. More than 6,500 people in this city alone have been killed since January 2008.

The US consulate in Hermosillo has responded to the anarchy and bloodshed in northern Mexico by declaring new travel restrictions for its employees in the states of Sinaloa and Sonora. All official travel is banned along Benito Juarez Highway between Estacion Don and Guamuchil, Sinaloa, “due to extreme threats of violence.” Consular employees must travel in armored vehicles in the rest of Sinaloa. The consulate made an exception for the coastal resort city of Mazatlan, but offered no explanation. In Sonora, the consulate is requiring it employees to travel in armored vehicles south of Ciudad Obregon and banned travel south of Navojoa and in the mountainous eastern part of the state.

US personnel, furthermore, must travel in armored vehicles in the area around Nogales, a sister town across the border from Nogales, Arizona, “due to widespread violence” and “the threat of known drug trafficking activity throughout northern Sonora.” The consulate statement added: “US employees traveling from Nogales, Arizona, to Hermosillo, can only use their own vehicles on the Mexican toll road Highway 15 during daylight hours.” Lately, the US State Department has taken “drastic measures” to protect US government employees from the narco-insurgency in Mexico, including temporarily closing some consulates.

In southwest Mexico, police in the city of Oaxaca, which witnessed considerable political unrest in 2006, found a human head in a gift-wrapped box. On Saturday night, someone dropped off the grisly body part at a cliff frequented for its view of the city’s colonial center. A threatening message left with the head was signed “Z,” an apparent reference to the Los Zetas narco-mercenaries, the former enforcement arm of the Gulf cartel. The abhorrent discovery follows by one week the daylight execution of two young men who had been involved in violent university protests in one of Oaxaca’s public plazas. Although there have been some beheadings in recent years, cartel-style violence is unusual in Oaxaca.

Los Zetas, which consists of ex-special forces soldiers from Mexico and Guatemala, have waxed in power over the past 10 years. Experts warn their clout could grow following the death last Friday of Gulf cartel boss Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen, also known as “Tony Tormenta” or “Tony the Storm.” Cardenas was killed in a shootout with Mexican marines in Matamoros, which is east of Reynosa, a city purportedly under the near-total control of criminal mafias. Friday’s operation came after more than six months of intelligence gathering by the Mexican navy, which has joined the army in battling the cartels. The four other suspected cartel members killed with Cardenas were “part of the circle of protection closest to Tony Tormenta.”

On Saturday, narcistas and security forces continued to exchange fire near the US-Mexico border, the Mexican state media reported. Authorities in Reynosa, which is across the border from McAllen, Texas, warned people to avoid road travel due to shootouts. North of the border, the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College canceled classes “because of gunfire taking place across the Rio Grande.”

Recently, Mexican authorities have scored several important wins against the cartels. In September, officials arrested Sergio Villarreal, an alleged top leader of the Beltran Leyva cartel, which maintained a representative in Colombia to liaise with FARC. Villareal’s capture came soon after the August arrest of US-born Edgar Valdez, believed to be one of Mexico’s most ruthless drug traffickers.

>USSR2 File: Belarusian communist party boss, Minsk Telegraf refer to Russia, Belarus as “communist countries”—19 years after collapse of Soviet Union

>– President Lukashenko and Russian Communist Party Boss Mend Strained Russian-Belarusian Relations, Reaffirm Close Links between “Former” Soviet Republics

– 4,000 Communists Assemble in Moscow to Celebrate 93rd Anniversary of Bolshevik Revolution, Enjoy Security Provided by Almost as Many Police and Interior Troops

– Zyuganov Joins Russian Foreign Ministry in Pleading for Life of Saddam Hussein’s Former Deputy Premier, Iraqi Government Passes Death Sentence on Tariq Aziz

Every now and again the Eastern European media yields nuggets of truth that expose the fraudulent character of the “collapse” of communism nearly 20 years ago. On October 28, 2010, Belarus’ Telgraf website contained several gems related to President Alexander Lukashenko’s reception of Gennady Zyuganov in Minsk. Zyuganov (pictured above) is the long-time chairman of the (secretly ruling) Communist Party of the Russian Federation, legal heir of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Lukashenko, who is facing re-election next month, enthused:

I would like to express my gratitude to the President of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party Gennady Zyuganov for his support and constructive position in the Belarusian-Russian question.

Thank you for having at least one person in Russia who has responded to everything that is happening, and suggested an urgent discussion of issues to make everything clear.

Of course, you’re a competent person. I am watching your work very closely, as well as the work of the Russian Communist Party. I think that having known each other for fifteen years or even more, you’ll never be able to throw a stone in my garden.

We were never shy to talk about socialism, communism, our past, World War, the expansion of NATO, our defense, though it was forbidden.

We have always maintained good relationships with you. I’ve always tried to inform you and the party as much as possible about the current events, which has recently begun to cause some resentment and allergies in your government. But, nevertheless, I really appreciate that you’ve applied to the problem that has always excited the party and will continue to excite. Since it’s probably one of the cornerstones of the policy of the Russian Communist Party.

Our assessment and our actions in Belarus are absolutely transparent and there are no discrepancies. Nevertheless, there are so many moments that I would like to discuss with you, to consult on some issues.

For his part, Chairman Zyuganov passed greetings from Russia’s “leftist and national-patriotic forces” to the Belarusian dictator. According to Tatiana Golubeva, First Secretary of the pro-Lukashenko Communist Party of Belarus, Zyuganov planned to meet with representatives of her party on October 28. Comrade Golubeva disclosed that the Russian and Belarusian communist parties will discuss “issues of cooperation between the two Communist countries [!?], the state and development prospects of the international communist movement, and Russian-Belarusian relations.”

It is possible, of course, that Golubeva meant to say “issues of cooperation between the two Communist parties,” because she does refer to “Russian-Belarusian relations” later in her quote. However, “country/motherland” (rodina) and “party” (partyia) are two very distinct words, even in the Belarusian language. Significantly, the Telegraf made no attempt to correct or criticize Golubeva’s reference to Russia and Belarus as “communist countries” in 2010. Apart from a few anti-communist bloggers, such as yours truly, this incriminating faux pas will no doubt go unnoticed in the Western MSM.

Although Belarus complained about unfair treatment related to its admission to the new Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, in truth there is no substantial disagreement between the “ex”-communists who reign in Moscow and Minsk. Indeed, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently endorsed a new military-technical treaty between the two countries, one that is designed to protect the Union State of Russia and Belarus from common threats of aggression and war (meaning NATO). Incidentally, in another sign of structural reorganization within the Communist Bloc, Vietnam has proposed a free trade agreement with the Russian-Belarusian-Kazakh customs union.

In a related story, on November 7 thousands of Communists assembled in downtown Moscow to commemorate the Bolshevik Revolution, while at another rally in the Russian capital 1,300 former Soviet paratroopers demanded the ouster of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who has initiated widespread reforms in the Russian military’s command structure. Zyuganov told Ekho Moskvy radio that 30,000 participants showed up at his rally at Tverskaya Ploshchad, but a city police spokesman told the independent Moscow Times that only 4,000 attended.

Russia no longer officially celebrates the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917 but, rather, Unity Day, which on November 4 marks the liberation of Russia from Polish invaders in 1612. However, this past Sunday, Moscow’s new mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, a slavish devotee of Putin, attended a parade in Red Square, in which Russian soldiers reenacted the Soviet counter-thrust against the “fascist” (Nazi German) invaders in November 1941.

In light of the 45-year Soviet occupation of Poland, the Russian military’s mock nuclear attack against Poland in 2009, and the suspicious demise this past March of President Lech Kaczynski and his top generals aboard a Polish Air Force jet in Russian airspace, Putin’s anti-Polish “Unity Day” is another sick communist joke.

Meanwhile, even though Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime in Iraq is long gone, the backing it once enjoyed from the Soviet Union and “post”-communist Russia came into view again when the Russian Foreign Ministry, Russia’s potemkin ruling party United Russia, and Communist politicians rallied to the defense of Tariq Aziz. Last Tuesday, Iraq’s supreme criminal court convicted Hussein’s former deputy prime minister and foreign minister of murder and crimes against humanity. The court sentenced Aziz to death, along with former interior minister Saadoun Shaker and Abid Hmoud, one-time aide to Hussein.

Interfax registered the opposition of several Russian politicians to Aziz’s death sentence. “What has happened in Iraq is the elimination of a witness and a settling of accounts between different religions, not a victory for justice,” protested Mikhail Margelov, head of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian parliament’s upper house, the Federation Council. “Nothing can justify this sentence,” Margelov added. “We will . . . call on the international community and parliamentarians in Europe and the United States to prevent this assassination,” ranted Zyuganov, “Aziz is a very sick old man.” Russia strongly opposed the 2003 US-led invasion of its former client state Iraq.

The verdict also provoked quick reaction from the European Union and Amnesty International, while the Vatican urged clemency for Aziz, who is a professed Christian. Last year, Aziz was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his part in the 1992 murder of dozens of merchants and to a further seven years for his role in the forced displacement of Kurds from northern Iraq.

>Communist Bloc Military Updates: North Korea’s top general confers with Cuban counterpart; South Korea: Armed forces on “highest alert” for G20 summit

>Pictured here: On November 3, 2010 South Korean police officers inspect the Han River, prior to the upcoming G20 Summit in Seoul. South Korea’s police chief has raised the prospect that North Korea may attempt to disrupt the November 11-12 gathering of world leaders. Some 50,000 police will be deployed throughout the event.

The single-party communist dictatorships that terrorize Cuba and North Korea are closing ranks in the area of military cooperation. Last Friday, Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho, a senior military leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), arrived in Havana for an official visit. Ri, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army, and his entourage are scheduled to meet with senior officers of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba and visit military schools and units. Last April in Pyongyang, Ri held talks with a military delegation from Cuba, both praising the development of bilateral ties.

This is the first trip to Cuba by Ri, who was promoted to the post of vice marshal as part of a September leadership reshuffle that will probably pave the way for a hereditary power transfer in the reclusive state. Ri was also named, along with Kim Jong-il’s youngest son and heir apparent, Kim Jong-un, to the country’s powerful Central Military Commission.

Cuba’s retired dictator Fidel Castro has been a vocal supporter of North Korea, which was created in 1945 under the aegis of Soviet occupational troops. After an international investigation into the March 2010 sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan found a North Korean torpedo attack responsible, Castro branded the findings a “strange fabrication.”

In a related story, the chief of the Republic of Korea’s National Intelligence Service contends that North Korea has a force of 1,000 computer hackers who can be deployed to engage in cyber warfare. Addressing lawmakers in a parliamentary audit last Thursday the country’s spymaster called North Korea’s cyber skills “remarkable.” The red regime in Pyongyang also maintains hacking networks in the People’s Republic of China. Over the past year North Korea was believed to have instigated several cyber attacks on key government offices in Seoul.

Earlier this week, South Korea’s National Police Agency claimed to have found evidence that North Korean hackers were collecting information on sewage and traffic systems around the upcoming G20 summit site. However, the South Korean government has assured foreign dignitaries that security at the summit will be unprecedented, with the armed forces going on their “highest alert.” G20 leaders will converge in Seoul on November 11 and 12 to discuss the global financial system and the world economy. South Korea is the first non-G8 nation to host a G-20 Leaders’ Summit.

Invading South Korea during the G20 summit would be an ideal opportunity for the Communist North to potentially wipe out a number of Western leaders, but this would no doubt precipitate the Fourth World War. In June 2009, the 27-year-old Kim Jong-un reportedly travelled to Beijing where he secretly presented himself for the approval of the Communist Chinese leadership.

>Latin America File: Ortega predicts bloodshed if Costa Rica does not cease “provocations”; ex-guerrilla wins run-off vote for Brazilian presidency

>– Rousseff Surrounds Herself with Marxist Advisers: Personal Ally and Lula’s Finance Minister Antonio Palocci FARC’s Unofficial Brazilian Contact

– No “Dreadlock Holiday” in Mexico: More Bullet-Riddled Bodies Turn Up in Acapulco as Hotel Occupancy Plummets

Pictured here: Arturo Valenzuela, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, speaks with Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega before a meeting in Managua, on October 28, 2010.

Daniel Ortega is fighting old battles in Central America. Harsh words from Managua reveal that Nicaragua’s past/present Marxist dictator has not changed his warmongering ways, first exposed in the 1980s when the Sandinista Popular Army used Soviet arms and helicopter gunships to eradicate a US-backed counter-insurgency. This past Tuesday, President Ortega predicted bloodshed if Costa Rica does not cease its alleged provocations across the disputed San Juan River, which separates the two countries along their common eastern frontier.

Since October 24, each country has accused the other of illegal incursions by armed troops, in the case of Nicaragua its regular military and in the case of Costa Rica its national police. Costa Rica has no standing army, a fact that Sandinista propaganda conveniently overlooks. Both governments have fired off angry diplomatic protests, including, in the case of San Jose, to the Organization of American States.

Now Ortega is ratcheting up the rhetoric by denouncing peaceful Costa Rica’s “expansionist” intention to “steal” the San Juan. Appealing to the July 2009 resolution from the International Court of Justice at The Hague, which awarded ownership of the river to Nicaragua and navigation rights to Costa Rica, Ortega ranted:

Costa Rica is bellicosely threatening Nicaragua with elite troops dressed like “Rambo.” Who has any doubt that it’s part of the geopolitical vision of Costa Rica to claim ownership of the San Juan River?

In the 1600s and 1700s, the river covered an enormous amount of territory at its delta. And as the zone has dried, the river has moved and [Costa Rica] has continued to advance and take possession of terrain that doesn’t belong to it. The way things are going, if the San Juan River continues to move north and join with the Río Grande of Matagalpa [in the northern zone], that’s how far [Costa Rica] would claim its territory extended.

Nicaragua has the right to dredge the San Juan River to recover the flow of waters that existed in 1858, even if that affects the flow of water of other current recipients, such as the Colorado River.

Costa Rica cannot impede such an operation in Nicaraguan territory.

“We don’t want the blood of brothers to spill,” Ortega concluded ominously.

Following last Sunday’s run-off vote for the Brazilian presidency, South America’s largest country remains firmly in the camp of the Latin American Red Axis. Former urban guerrilla Dilma Rousseff won the election against her opponent Jose Serra, past governor of Sao Paulo state. Rousseff is a cadre of the ruling center-left Workers’ Party (PT) and outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s anointed successor. The daughter of a Bulgarian communist who found exile in Brazil between the two world wars, Rousseff enjoys the glowing endorsement of Venezuela’s red tyrant, Hugo Chavez. The PT governs in coalition with several other parties, including the Communist Party of Brazil.

Following her victory, Brazil’s next leader conferred by telephone with Chavez, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and US President Barack Hussein Obama. Rousseff also met with personal allies like former finance minister Antonio Palocci to discuss her transition to power, Rousseff’s foreign policy adviser Marco Aurelio Garcia told reporters in Brasilia on Monday.

The country’s first female president vowed her main goal is to eradicate poverty in Brazil while controlling spending. “We’ll care for our economy with complete responsibility,” the 62-year-old Rousseff told supporters in Brasilia. “The Brazilian people don’t accept governments that spend at unsustainable levels and for that reason we will make every effort to improve public spending.”

Brazil’s president-elect will benefit from a majority in Congress. The PT scooped up five additional Senate seats in last month’s preliminary elections, bringing to 14 the number of lawmakers the party has in the 81-seat chamber. Parties backing the government will control another 35. In Congress’ lower house Rousseff’s coalition obtained 311 of 513 seats.

Rousseff joins a shortlist of female presidents in Latin America, including Argentina’s Kirchner and Costa Rica’s Laura Chinchilla. Chile’s Michelle Bachelet stepped down earlier this year to make way for center-right opponent Sebastian Pinera. However, Rousseff joins a somewhat longer list of over-the-hill ex-guerrillas who occupy presidential and vice-presidential posts in the Western Hemisphere.

Investors will eyeball Rousseff’s cabinet picks for clues to how serious she is about controlling spending, explained Marcela Meirelles, an emerging-market analyst with TCW Group Inc. Returning campaign adviser Palocci to his former post as finance minister, she predicted, would trigger a “huge rally,” especially in fixed-income assets.

This would be an intriguing development because in 2005 Brazil’s Media without Mask website exposed Palocci, Lula’s 2002 campaign manager, as the unofficial Brazilian contact for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. For his part, Garcia, mentioned above, is a “hard-line Marxist” and past executive secretary of the subversive Sao Paulo Forum. Marxist Rousseff has surrounded herself with ideological kin who have thus far successfully disguised their true color.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s drug war rages in the tourist haven of Acapulco, where more than 30 people have been murdered over the past 10 days. On Tuesday, police found the bullet-riddled bodies of four young men on a road in the Pacific resort city. Last week, a Canadian businessman vacationing in Acapulco disappeared and is feared dead. A month ago, 20 Mexican tourists were allegedly abducted from the city. The Reforma daily reports that hotel occupancy in Acapulco has dropped to around 60 percent, compared to previous years, suggesting the narco-insurgency has in fact deterred tourists.

Across Mexico over the last few days more than 22 people have succumbed to drug violence. In eastern Veracruz state, six male bodies were thrown from a moving vehicle, acknowledged state attorney general Salvador Mikel Rivera, citing witnesses. Four others died in a shootout between the army and gunmen in northern Durango state, the attorney general’s office related. Six other violent deaths were reported overnight in Mexico’s “murder capital,” Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. Mexican and US authorities are probing the killings of four US citizens, two with criminal records, who were shot in Ciudad Juarez over the weekend.

In the same city, Mexican police have arrested a suspect in the March 13 killing of a US consular employee and her husband. Miguel Angel Nevarez Escajeda, alias “El Lentes” (Glasses), was detained last weekend on the basis of an anonymous tip. In early July, another suspect, Jesus Ernesto Chavez Castillo, the purported boss of a gang of gunmen enforcing for the Juarez cartel, was arrested in connection with those slayings.

Incidentally, in view of the latest bloodshed in Acapulco, communist guerrillas such as the Popular Revolutionary Army couldn’t do a better job in attacking Mexico’s “bourgeois” structures.

>Final Phase Backgrounder: The Soviet Story film exposes Stalin’s "class genocide" against Soviet citizens, cynical pact with fellow socialist Hitler

>The collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century.
— Vladimir Putin, former KGB agent, current prime minister and past president of Russian Federation; statement made in April 2005

Pictured above: Pro-Kremlin youth burn an effigy of Soviet Story director Snore outside the Latvian embassy in Moscow.

Yesterday I watched The Soviet Story DVD which, surprisingly, I found at our public library. Directed by Edvins Snore and first released in 2008, this film documents the murder of millions of Soviet citizens under Stalin, as well as the Soviet dictator’s sordid, cynical pact with fellow Jew-hating socialist Hitler.

Among the experts interviewed are Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, GRU defector Viktor Suvorov, and contributers to Harvard University Press’ Black Book of Communism, first published in the late 1990s. The similarities between Nazism and communism are emphasized, demolishing the common perception of their mutual hostility.

This shocking documentary contains old footage and many pictures of mounds of corpses piled up by the Gestapo/SS and NKVD and, therefore, is not recommended for young children or the faint of heart. However, The Soviet Story ably supports many of the contentions made at this and related blogs. As the film’s promotional website relates, the Kremlin media has launched its own propaganda war against Snore.

>Latin America File: Chavez sends thugs to attack, kidnap business leaders, nationalizes more industries; Uribe warns against nuclear Venezuela

>– Israel Frets Russia Will Make Good on 2007 Contract, Evade UN Sanctions by Delivering S-300 Anti-Missile System to Iran Via Venezuela

Pictured here: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez consoles Argentine counterpart Cristina Kirchner at the wake of her husband, the late President Nestor Kirchner, in Buenos Aires, on October 28, 2010.

The descent of Venezuela into the hellhole of Bolivarian communism continued last week with the kidnapping and attempted murder of Venezuelan business leaders who are outspoken critics of President Hugo Chavez’s nationalization drive.

On Thursday, October 28 gunmen in Caracas opened fire on a car carrying leaders of Venezuela’s national business federation Fedecamaras, wounding one of them before hijacking the vehicle. Noel Alvarez, president of Fedecamaras, and Albis Munoz, a former president of the same organization, were in the hijacked vehicle. Alvarez relates his ordeal: “When we braked, they began shooting at us without saying a word. The former president [of the federation] Albis Munoz was hit by three bullets. They made us get out of the car and began to hit us. They drove us around Caracas for two hours, and then they released us.”

The gunmen dumped Munoz at a hospital, where she was later pronounced to be in stable condition. Alvarez and Fedecamaras treasurer Ernesto Villasmil were deposited at a motorway off-ramp.

Chavez’s interior minister, Tareck El Aissami, assured reporters that police had their best detectives on the case, and pledged the investigation would be “transparent and objective.” “All the evidence, including the recovered vehicle and interviews with those affected, everything points to the motive of robbery, although we do not rule out other hypotheses,” soothed El Aissami, leaving open the possibility of a political motivation, which is certainly the conclusion at this blog.

While it is true that Venezuela has witnessed a crime wave of late and that Caracas has one of the highest murder rates in the world, it is also true that Alvarez is a prominent opponent of Chavez’s Cuban-style communism. “But I do want to say that this forms part of the climate of insecurity that we have in Venezuela, and the government has the responsibility to try to establish greater security,” Alvarez admonished after his release. In June, President Chavez called Fedecamaras “one of the biggest obstacles to progress” in Venezuela and the business federation’s leaders “enemies of the nation.”

Over the weekend, Chavez plunged further into his latest expropriation binge by nationalizing Venezuela’s largest privately owned steel producer Siderurgica del Turbio SA. The company exports steel products to countries throughout Latin America, as well as to Africa, Asia, and Europe. Chavez has ordered the National Guard to “safeguard” the company’s seven plants. Telephone calls to the company’s headquarters in Caracas went unanswered late Sunday, shortly after the president announced the expropriation.

In early October, Chavez announced the nationalization of Industrias Venoco, the country’s largest independent automotive lubricants company. The Venezuelan dictator, whose communist regime has nationalized more than 300 companies in just the last two years, explained that the expropriation includes Venoco subsidiaries Nacional de Grasas Lubricantes and Aditivos de Orinoco. Chávez accuses Venoco of overcharging for lubricants and other oil derivative products.

Intriguingly, Venoco is almost entirely owned by Franklin Duran, who in 2008 was found guilty in a Miami federal court of being an unregistered agent of the Venezuelan government. Duran’s conviction stemmed from the so-called Suitcase-gate scandal, in which US government prosecutors proved that Duran transported US$800,000 from Chavez to Argentina, to aid the presidential campaign of then-candidate Cristina Kirchner. Center-leftist Kirchner, who is now president, denied any involvement in the case, while Duran is completing a four year prison sentence.

Incidentally, Cristina’s husband, Nestor, Argentina’s previous president, died of a heart attack on October 27, prompting a eulogy from Chavez. According to Venezuela’s top commie thug, Nestor, who was secretary general of the Lenin-inspired Union of South American Nations when he died, “left a legacy of dignity.”

Venezuela’s strategic alliance and nuclear partnership with Russia has also provoked concern among US allies in the region, including former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe. Last Tuesday, speaking after receiving an award from Spain’s International Observatory of Victims of Terrorism, Uribe declared: “Venezuela’s arms race is very dangerous both for the security of its own citizens and Venezuela’s neighbors. The Venezuelan government has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but has not signed its additional protocols.” Last month, Caracas and Moscow announced a deal under which Russia will help the South American country to build its first nuclear power station. Chavez, a long-time nemesis of Uribe, claims that his country only seeks to “diversify energy sources.”

Uribe was presented with the award by John Frank Pinchao Blanco, a police officer who was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces in Colombia in 1998 and held captive until his escape in 2007. The former president dedicated his award to the Colombian police and armed forces. Uribe also commented that the proposed legalization of marijuana in California is a threat to regional security.

Meanwhile, Israel, which is on Chavez’s “Bad List,” along with the USA, is worried that Iran will eventually obtain, via Venezuela, the S-300 anti-missile systems that Russia, backing out of a 2007 contract, has now promised it will not hand over to Tehran. “This is a real possibility, considering the close ties between Venezuela and Iran,” an Israeli official familiar with the deal told The Jerusalem Post.

Venezuela and Iran are close allies. Indeed, Chavez has visited counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad eight times, most recently last month, when he inked a number of agreements aimed at increasing their strategic partnership. The S-300 is one of the most advanced multi-target anti-aircraft-missile systems in the world, with a purported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12. It has a range of about 200 kilometers and can take out targets at altitudes of 90,000 feet.

>Latin America File: Sandinistas escalate border row with San Jose, plant flag on Costa Rican soil, Chinchilla reinforces police deployments

>– Sandinistas Flout Constitutional Order, De Facto Elections Chief, Ortega Crony Announces Elections for November 2011

Nicaragua has escalated its border row with Costa Rica, which focuses on a dredging operation carried out by the government of President Daniel Ortega in the San Juan River. Under international law, the river belongs to Nicaragua, but Costa Rica enjoys navigation rights. A week ago this past Friday, San Jose alleged that Sandinista revolutionary hero Eden Pastora, who heads up the operation, illegally entered Costa Rican territory, accosted a rancher, asserted Nicaraguan sovereignty over the ranch, and then dredged a chunk of the man’s land into the river.

Yesterday, Costa Rican Security Minister José María Tijerino revealed that members of the Nicaraguan army had been spotted on Isla Calero, a piece of land on the Costa Rican side of the San Juan. Tijerino added that pictures and video reveal a Nicaraguan flag has been placed on the property. The flag is located on the same property, known as Finca Aragón, where trees were cut down and sediment deposited by the Russian-built Nicaraguan dredge.

“A flyover this morning above Isla Calero revealed the presence of Nicaraguan troops in national territory, Costa Rican territory,” Tijerino explained, adding:

There is a Nicaraguan flag and tents belonging to the Nicaraguan army. … Because of this, the National Police will reinforce its presence in the zone to protect national territory. Costa Rica, which doesn’t have an army, is looking for a solution to this conflict through diplomatic channels. We are looking for a solution that, if possible, will not further aggravate the situation.

Last week, the Costa Rican government lodged a formal protest with the Nicaraguan ambassador and dispatched up to 90 heavily armed police officers to the patrol the border (pictured above). Smarting from the accusations, Nicaragua’s acting foreign minister, Manuel Coronel Kautz, fired off a diplomatic note to San Jose, protesting apparent incursions by Costa Rican “troops” on Nicaraguan soil. Kautz bristled:

Our government rejects the incursion in past days of Nicaraguan territory by two armed officers of the OIJ [Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Organization], who were arrested during border monitoring activities and returned to Costa Rican authorities.

Nicaragua, respectful of the principle of International Law, will continue with the cleanup work in the river and will protect the borders and sovereignty of Nicaragua.

Notwithstanding Managua’s rhetoric, Costa Rica does not have “troops” per se since it disbanded its army after the Second World War, a fact that President Laura Chinchilla tersely pointed out afterwards. However, around 60 officers of the national police, some armed with M-60 machine guns, are stationed at the community center and elementary school in Barra del Colorado, a small town in the northeast corner of the country. Costa Rican Coast Guard boats are patrolling the mouth of the San Juan River, which flows into the Caribbean Sea.

Nicaragua’s Sandinista army commander, General Julio Aviles, maintains that his soldiers are on the northern side of the border as part of an anti-drug operation. Costa Rica has appealed to the Organization of American States.

While the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border row, like Managua’s tiff with Bogota over maritime rights in the Caribbean Sea, may seem like a “tempest in a tea cup,” these developments are worth monitoring. Nicaragua’s past/present Marxist dictator is closely allied with Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela, as well as other Communist Bloc states like North Korea, Syria, Libya, and Iran. There is every sound reason for believing that Ortega may purposely enflame tensions in Central America to legitimize Venezuela’s massive, Made-in-Russia arms procurements, as well as Russia’s pledge to modernize Cuba and Nicaragua’s Soviet-vintage militaries.

Meanwhile, on October 28 the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front continued to flout Nicaragua’s constitutional order when craven party hack Roberto Rivas, de facto president of the Supreme Electoral Council, convoked general elections for November 6, 2011. Though Rivas’s term in this capacity expired four months ago, gridlock in the National Assembly has prevented the election of new magistrates. Rivas clings to his post by citing Ortega’s decree last January extending the terms of 25 top judges and magistrates. Nicaragua’s political parties have one week to submit their paperwork to participate in the electoral process and until March 18 to present their candidates.

Tellingly, Rivas made the announcement only to Sandinista-controlled media outlets during an event closed to independent media. Rivas, a close confidant of KGB asset Ortega, did not clarify the conditions under which international observers will be allowed to observe the electoral process. In fact, in recent statements to the local press, Rivas warned that foreign observers who criticize Nicaragua’s electoral process, “Will be put on the first plane back to their own country.”

“It’s paradoxical that the same people who are responsible for the [municipal electoral] fraud of Nov. 9, 2008 are convoking a new electoral process,” remarked Carlos Tünnerman, spokesman for the civic group Movement for Nicaragua, to The Nica Times. “The people of Nicaragua have to be aware of that.” Tünnerman cautioned that the convocation of elections could be a “trap” laid by Ortega to disqualify parties that refuse to participate in an election that many consider fraudulent from the get-go. “Of course we are going to participate in the electoral process,” protested Roberto Ferrey, president of the Nicaraguan Resistance Party, which represents the interests of the former US-backed Contra rebels.

In September, the White House for the first time ever named Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras as major transit hubs for drug trafficking. Army-less Costa Rica lacks the resources to combat the traffic. Several months ago, the US Treasury also identified two Costa Rican businesses as money laundering fronts for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which supplies 90 percent of the cocaine sold on US streets. The companies Agropecuaria San Cayetano de Costa Rica Ltda and Arrocera El Gaucho Ltda are owned by a “FARC financial associate,” Jose Cayetano Melo, revealed the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control in a June press release.

In 2008, Costa Rica’s Security Minister Fernando Berrocal resigned after insinuating possible links between FARC and some Costa Rican politicians. From the 1960s through the 1980s, admitted diplomat Melvin Saenz in an article posted on the website of Chinchilla’s National Liberation Party, “Costa Rica was a rest stop and medical rehabilitation location for Colombian rebel groups, including the FARC. They would interact with people in this country, not just the [left-wing] Popular Vanguard and Socialist Party but the [moderate] National Liberation too.”

“However, the tone has changed,” comments Alex Leff at the Global Post, “Today it’s faux pas to discuss FARC friends in most [Costa Rican] circles.” FARC is accused of infiltrating other countries in Central America, especially the dense jungles of southern Panama, where the guerrillas have exchange gunfire with Panamanian police patrols.

Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel is also suspected of being active in both Costa Rica and Panama, which may be one reason why anti-drug units unearthed a rare cache of illegal weapons in the home of a Guatemalan-born sociology professor. In May, Panamanian police arrested Professor Vinicio Jimenez, who teaches at the Chiriqui Regional University, following the raid on his residence. Police seized 47 assault rifles, 24 machine pistols, 487,000 rounds of ammunition, and almost 4,000 grenades. Pacific Coast province Chiriqui borders southern Costa Rica. Guatemala is home to violent drug gangs like Mara Salvatrucha.

>Latin America File: Mexico’s narcistas kill 3, wound 16 in coordinated attacks against four police HQs in Monterrey area, State Police Center targeted

>Mexico’s drug cartels are apparently determined to seize power from the legitimate government and transform the USA’s southern neighbor into an international base for lawlessness and criminality. On Saturday, narcistas armed with grenades and guns launched coordinated attacks against four police headquarters in the area of Monterrey and surrounding towns. At least 16 people were wounded and three killed. Pictured above: Mexican soldiers.

During the first attack, a bystander and two suspected gunmen were killed in the crossfire. Another 12 police and four civilians were left injured. The State Police Center, in the city of Monterrey, was a target, while the other attacks were against police HQs in Montemorelos, Allende, and Guadalupe. Monterrey, located about 140 miles from the US border, is Mexico’s most affluent city, producing eight percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Regional officials admit that an upsurge in drug violence is undermining economic growth in Monterrey. More than 650 drug killings have taken place this year in and around Monterrey, more than in the past four years combined. This weekend’s offensive against Monterrey’s police forces follows a week of massacres perpetrated by narcistas in various spots around the country. More than 29,000 people have died in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched his campaign to crush the drug cartels in late 2006.