Monthly Archives: August 2012
WW4 File: Syrian rebels seize army missile base in Damascus, exiled Supreme Military Council admits some missiles can be armed with chemical-biological warheads; France, USA promise military intervention should Assad or opposition employ non-conventional weapons
August 29, 2012Posted by on
On Tuesday, the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, which is based in NATO member Turkey, released a statement announcing that rebel troops seized control of an army missile base in Damascus, in which 10 ready-to-launch missiles were found. Some of the missiles, the council admitted, had been converted by government forces to carry non-conventional warheads.
Pictured above: FSA rebels in Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, on Tuesday.
“During the successful operation, the operatives of the Free Syrian Army found a large number of rockets ready for launching, with enormous destructive capability, and they were very surprised to find missiles that were converted to carry non-conventional warheads and which can be equipped with chemical or biological warheads,” said the statement, which was translated by Arab affairs expert Dalit Halevi.
The Supreme Military Council, which enjoys diplomatic recognition in the West and financial support from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, warned that the embattled regime of President Bashar al-Assad is preparing to bomb cities in Syria using these missiles. The council suggested that there is a possibility that Assad’s forces will use unconventional warheads in their bid to crush the uprising, which began in March 2011. It also called on the Arab League and the wider international community to “immediately intervene” in order to protect the lives of the Syrian people “before the regime moves to a new level of crimes, which will have tragic consequences for the entire region.”
On Monday, France’s socialist president, Francois Holllande, warned that any use of chemical weapons by Assad’s government would be “sufficient reason” for Western countries to intervene in Syria. Last week, the USA’s socialist president, Barack Hussein Obama, also declared that Assad should heed Washington’s warnings to neither use nor transport chemical or biological weapons.
“We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people,” Obama told reporters at the White House, mentioning Assad by name but also alluding to the Syrian rebels. “We have been very clear to the Assad regime — but also to other players on the ground — that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus; that would change my equation.”
Understandably, Israel has expressed concerns that Assad’s chemical weapons will end up in the hands of the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization/political party if the 50-year-old Ba’athist regime falls. In recent weeks, pro- and anti-Syrian factions in Lebanon have traded gunfire as the Syrian conflict spills over the border into the smaller country that Syrian troops occupied until 2005.
Syria’s Arab Socialist Ba’ath regime has admitted it possesses chemical weapons and threatened to use them if attacked by “external forces” but, in order to deter NATO intervention, quickly insisted that Damascus will not use these weapons against rebels.
Recent reports from Syria indicate that Assad’s troops have transferred a battery of advanced missiles to the al-Masna border crossing with Lebanon, which is the central route used to ship equipment and weapons to Hezbollah. The Syrian opposition, which over months of strife has attracted many defecting generals and other high-ranking army officers, has revealed that one of two major chemical arsenals of the Assad regime is located near al-Masna.
In 2010, Syria reportedly transferred control of some Scud missiles to Hezbollah, which apparently operates freely at a base in the Syrian city of Adra, near Damascus. At the time, US Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein warned that Hezbollah had acquired these missiles and improved the weapon’s capabilities.
Meanwhile, the Russian flotilla that entered the Mediterranean Sea some weeks ago, ostensibly to evacuate military personnel from the naval maintenance facility in Tartus, Syria, is maintaining a low profile, no doubt deterred by the large number of NATO warships in the region. Russia’s post-communist navy is not as daunting as its Soviet predecessor, but it is well known that numerous Russian technicians and “advisors” are on the ground in Syria, helping to man Assad’s air defense installations.
Finally, for Bible prophecy enthusiasts, the fulfillment of predictions concerning the destruction of Damascus, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, and the beginning of the tribulation period manifestly approaches. Should this become more apparent still, we may post under our long-unused “End Times File” category.
WW4 File: Russia bans civilian flights to/from Novaya Zemlya as of August 1, only military aircraft permitted to fly to Arctic archipelago; 100 residents stranded in Arkhangelsk; base for nuclear weapons tests during Soviet era, islands once again restricted area for Russian military activity
August 29, 2012Posted by on
More than 100 civilian residents of Novaya Zemlya, reported the Barents Observer on August 24, are stranded in Arkhangelsk, unable to return home after the Russian Air Traffic Agency (Rosaviatsia) banned civilian aircraft from flying to the Russian Arctic archipelago. In July, Rosaviatsia announced the new regulations, which came into effect on August 1. Rosaviatsia argues that the stranded passengers are the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence, while the ministry says it only handles military personnel. Novaya Zemlya has about 2,900 inhabitants, most of them living in the administrative center of Belushya Guba, which is served by Rogachevo airport.
Novaya Zemlya was heavily militarized during the Cold War and this past summer once again assumed that status. This island chain in the Arctic Ocean was one of the most militarized and politically closed regions in Russia. Between the mid-1950s and 1990, nuclear weapons were tested in the area, while nuclear weapons researchers still use the area for sub-critical nuclear weapon tests.
On May 30, Kremlin-run Novosti, citing the Western Military Districts’s aviation commander, Major General Igor Makushev, reported that “selected air units” will this summer instigate preparations to return to Arctic airfields abandoned after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. “We will start reopening airfields on Novaya Zemlya and in Naryan-Mar as early as this summer,” Makushev told a news conference in St. Petersburg. Next year, the Russian Air Force, which is pressing head with the development of a stealth bomber to rival the US Air Force’s B-2 Spirit, will reactivate a military airfield on Graham Bell Island, which is part of Franz Josef Land.
In July 2011, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov revealed that two military brigades would be stationed in Murmansk or Arkhangelsk to protect Russia’s political and economic interests in the circumpolar region, especially to reinforce its oil and gas claims under the Arctic Ocean.
Meanwhile, through the implementation of joint military drills on US soil, unprecedented during the Cold War, US and Canadian servicemen are growing more and more used to perceiving (wrongly) their Russian counterparts as “allies,” not enemies. At the same time, Russian military personnel now have opportunities to observe, openly and firsthand, US and Canadian military facilities, technology, and operations. This is also the rationale behind the Open Skies Treaty.
Between August 27 and 29, NORAD and Russia will carry out the third Vigilant Eagle anti-terrorist drill, which simulates airline hijackings in both Russia and Alaska but entails real aerial intercepts by Russian and NORAD military pilots.
“The Vigilant Eagle 2012 exercises will be held on August 27-29. They are aimed at practicing interaction between the Russian armed forces and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in case of a terrorist attack on a passenger airliner,” said Col. Alexander Gordeyev, who represents Russia’s Eastern Military District. In the event of a Russian preemptive strike, of course, knowledge of NORAD’s command and control will be of inestimable value to the Kremlin warmongers.
The first Vigilant Eagle took place in 2010. This year, exercise headquarters are situated in Colorado Springs and Anchorage, as well as Khabarovsk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, two cities in the Russian Far East. The Russian units will be led by Maj. Gen. Sergei Dronov, commander of the Eastern Military District’s Third Air Force and Air Defense Command, and NORAD’s units by Joseph Bonnet III, NORAD’s training and exercise director.
“The first group led by Maj. Gen. Dronov will operate as part of the main headquarters in Colorado Springs,” Gordeyev said. “The second group led by Maj. Gen. Sergei Zhmurin, the head of the Eastern Military District’s Air Defense and Aviation, will take part in the work of the secondary headquarters in Anchorage,” he said. Thus, we see that Russian generals will be on site at military bases in Colorado Springs and Anchorage.
In its typical post-Cold War ho-hum “Russia’s our friend” mindset, NORAD described Vigilant Eagle in the following way:
The basic premise is that a foreign flagged commercial air carrier on an international flight has been seized by terrorists. The aircraft will not respond to communications. The exercise scenario creates a situation that requires both the Russian Air Force and NORAD to launch or divert fighter aircraft to investigate and follow the aircraft. The drills will focus on the cooperative hand-off of the aircraft between fighter aircraft of the participating nations.
These exercises continue to foster the development of cooperation between the Russian Federation Air Force and NORAD in preventing possible threats of air terrorism.
Vigilant Eagle follows this past May’s first-ever joint US-Russian paratrooper drill at Fort Carson, located near Colorado Springs, Peterson Air Force Base, and NORAD’s Alternate Command Center under Cheyenne Mountain. This “anti-terrorist” exercise and goodwill gesture was evocative of the original Red Dawn film (1984), which depicted a Soviet-Cuban invasion of the USA. Incidentally, though, the first-ever joint US-Russian military exercise on US soil actually took place at Fort Riley, Kansas in 1995.
Latin America File: Spain arrests Mexican politician in drug bust, Celaya appeared in pic with Mexico’s president-elect Pena; Nicaragua denies reports of 1,600 re-armed Contras as Managua convicts Colombian spy; USA withholds funds from El Salvador as ruling FMLN undermines supreme court; Unasur urges restoration of democracy in Paraguay after leftist Lugo impeached
August 20, 2012Posted by on
– Chavez Hails Personal Victory over Cancer ahead of October Re-election Bid, Bolsters Regime with Cuban-Inspired “Territorial Militia”
– Cuba Responsible for Food Shortages in Venezuela: Chavez Transferred Control of Venezuela’s Busiest Port to ALBA Front Company in 2009
– Retired Venezuelan General: Cuban G-2 Military Intelligence Operating in Venezuela’s Ministry of Defense; Strategic Operations Command; Joint Chiefs of Staff HQ; Army, Navy, Air Force, and National Guard Command Centers; Military Intelligence Directorate; and Internal Security Service
Pictured above: President Hugo Chavez (left) escorts his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, and the Belarusian president’s son, Mykalay, at a welcoming ceremony at Miraflores Palace in Caracas on June 26.
We have returned from our summer vacation and, after spending several months focusing on the Syrian civil war, have prepared another round-up of political developments south of the Rio Grande. There Latin America’s “New Left” has resuscitated the old Leninist ideal of regional and world government in the form of international federations such as the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA).
In yet another example of international communist solidarity more than 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, open and “ex”-communists from around the world have congratulated retired red dictator Fidel Castro on the occasion of his 86th birthday. Gennady Zyuganov, general secretary of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), and the first female cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who sits as a CPRF deputy in the State Duma, telegrammed congratulations to the “Comandante.”
For his part, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, a pro-Moscow “ex”-communist, wished Fidel “success in his scientific and literary activities,” as well as “robust health and boundless energy.” Fidel’s literary activities include his regular “Reflections” column, which is linked to many leftist websites, including that of the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Fidel’s “scientific” ventures, however, are a bit of a mystery. Maybe, Comrade Yanukovich knows something we don’t
The birthday greeting sent by Bolivian President Evo Morales, a self-avowed Marxist-Leninist and Hugo Chavez groupie, was highlighted by state media. “Evo Morales has said that [Fidel] has been one of the most caring leaders he has known in his life,” Bolivian Communications Minister Amanda Davila told Cambio newspaper. Pardon my classist bourgeois ignorance, but I didn’t realize communist thugs like Fidel and his younger brother Raul could be characterized as “caring.”
In Mexico, Castro-lovin’ leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is once again charging the victorious presidential candidate with fraud and demanding new elections. Obrador contested both the 2006 and 2012 elections, losing in the first case to National Action Party (PAN) candidate Felipe Calderon and, in the second case, Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto. The latter took place on July 1.
In 2000, after 71 years of unbroken rule, the PRI lost the presidency to Calderon’s predecessor Vicente Fox. For his part, Obrador represents the Democratic Revolutionary Party, which coalesced in 1989 through a merger of disaffected leftists within the PRI, which, in turn, had abandoned its socialist roots by moving to the political center, and assorted far-left groups, including the Mexican Communist Party.
As a result of Obrador’s agitations, Mexico’s electoral officials have promised a partial vote recount but, in spite of some irregularities, Pena’s win appears legitimate. Still, this has not prevented Obrador form accusing the PRI of laundering drug money. In comments aimed at federal government officials, he ranted:
We’re talking about billions of pesos of illicit origin directed to the PRI’s campaign to buy at least five million votes. The whole truth can be ascertained. If we’re providing this evidence [of illegal activity], imagine what officials with the Finance Secretariat and [the CNBV banking regulator] would be able to find out, if they don’t know already. In the federal government, they already know what this was about. Hiding information isn’t going to work because we’re very persistent and aren’t going to give up.
Obrador expressed surprise that the outgoing Calderon administration does not “reveal what they know about the use of illicit funds for the benefit for Peña Nieto.” On June 14, the ruling Panistas approached electoral authorities with a request to freeze the PRI’s accounts with Monex bank, on suspicion of violations of campaign finance law.
The recent arrest in Spain of a cousin of the billionaire boss of the Sinaloa drug cartel, along with a politician with the party of President-elect Pena, lends credibility to Obrador’s assertions. The arrested politician, Rafael Celaya Valenzuela, was a mid-level figure in the PRI in the state of Sonora. Newspapers published photographs that Celaya had previously posted on his Facebook page, showing him with Pena.
Pena’s advisers quickly disavowed any knowledge of Celaya’s alleged criminal activities. The candidate posed for “hundreds of thousands” of photographs during the campaign, the PRI said in a statement, and thus the pictures with Celaya were “meaningless.” Celaya had applied to become the PRI’s Sonora candidate for the federal legislature in the July 1 vote, but the party rejected his bid, the statement added.
Celaya was arrested in Madrid along with a man identified by Spanish police as Jesus Gutierrez Guzman, cousin of fugitive Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman. Two other alleged members of the cartel were also captured. The Spanish El Pais newspaper quoted authorities as saying the men were tasked with expanding the cartel’s distribution of cocaine into Europe via Spain. The arrests were part of Operation Dark Waters, conducted by Spanish police in cooperation with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The fact of the matter is all of the major parties in Mexico, including Obrador’s, are tainted with narco-corruption, some of which originates from the Communist Bloc.
In 2010, the mayor of Cancun and former PRD candidate for the state governorship of Quintana Roo, Gregorio Sanchez Martínez, was detained on charges of money laundering and trafficking in illegal immigrants. More ominously, Sanchez’s wife, Niurka Alba Sáliva Benítez, is none other than the daughter of Cuban Ministry of Interior Colonel José Ángel Sáliva Pino. Niurka was involved in infiltrating Cubans, Russians, and Chinese illegals into the USA via Mexico.
One of Sanchez’s advisors, moreover, was Boris “El Boris” del Valle Alonso, an ex-Cuban soldier who is linked to the Mexican criminal organization Los Zetas and who worked with Niurka in human trafficking. El Boris is also the son of an ex-Cuban Minister of the Interior by the name of Sergio del Valle, who, in turn, is the brother-in-law of Sánchez because Sergio is Niurka’s half-brother. El Boris is also related to Fidel Castro’s wife, Dalia Soto del Valle.
Meanwhile, the neo-Sandinista regime in Managua is doing its best to suppress reports of revitalized Contra activity in the hinterland of Nicaragua. “’Emilio’ was only 12 when he joined the US-backed contras in 1984,” writes Tim Rogers, “to wage war against Nicaragua’s revolutionary government of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN)—seen by the Reagan administration as a Soviet ally, and therefore a Cold War foe for the US.” Rogers adds: “Twenty-eight years later, the former child soldier says a ‘second dictatorship’ of President Daniel Ortega has prompted him to take up arms again.”
Emilio alleges that re-armed Contras, or “Recontras,” angered by Ortega’s unconstitutional re-election bid last year, have grown to a fighting force of 1,600 men who operate in small cells throughout Nicaragua. “We’re repeating the 1980s,” Emilio said in a phone interview from an undisclosed location along the Nicaraguan-Honduran border. “It’s 2012 and we are still fighting the FSLN.”
With a bare plurality in the 2006 election, the KGB-trained Ortega returned to the presidency after 16 years in the political wilderness but, after absorbing more than US$1 billion from ideological buddy Hugo Chavez, attracted a resounding majority of votes in his 2011 re-election.
Emilio, whom Rogers reached on a Honduran cell phone number provided by a contact in Miami, claims to be one of two dozen Recontra “comandantes.” The re-armed Contras’ US front is registered in Florida as a non-profit organization known as the “Comando Central Resistencia Nicaragüense USA.” Emilio maintains that the Recontras have engaged in a six gunfights with the Nicaraguan Army since 2011, resulting in 20 casualties, all of which have been denied by Nicaraguan Army Colonel Juan Ramon Morales.
Morales scoffs at stories of the Recontras as “fantasies peddled by desperate political adversaries who don’t understand or accept the reality of the country today.” However, the good colonel acknowledges Nicaragua’s mountainous northern border is too vast to patrol completely. “We have very good sources of information and haven’t picked up any information about armed groups,” he says, but admits: “We’ve only detected bands of common delinquents.”
By contrast, Roman Catholic Bishop Juan Abelardo Mata has warned about the reappearance of armed groups in Nicaragua since 2010. The clergyman says the situation is “getting worse” and that the second Sandinista regime’s continued denial of guerrilla activity exposes a “terrible deafness” to the problems in the countryside. “The situation is delicate,” he says. “The government knows it has generated this problem, but they don’t want to admit it.”
“The risk [of renewed civil war] is real,” confirms former Contra commander Guillermo Miranda. “The army and the police are selectively executing various members of the resistance who have opted for armed struggle.” Indeed, two self-proclaimed Recontra commanders have died since last year. “Comandante Yahob” was a CIA-trained covert operations commando who in 2010 vowed to “remove Ortega from office with bullets.” He was bumped off by an unidentified sniper last year. In early 2012, Yahob’s successor, a former guerrilla known as “Pablo Negro,” was found murdered in a ditch in Honduras. The Nicaraguan Army denied responsibility in both cases.
The Recontras’ new leader is codenamed “El Sheriff,” who alternately goes by the nom de guerre, “Walter.”
Last December, in the rural community of Mulukuku, Autonomous Region of the Northern Atlantic, eight uniformed gunmen dragged FSLN political secretary Carlos Ali Garcia out of his home and shot him dead—with 11 bullets. Then they spray-painted his house with an old Contra slogan, “God, Country, Democracy, Liberty or Death,” and a new one: “This is the result of stolen elections.” Four days later, separate armed attacks in the rural north-central mining towns of Rosita and Siuna killed two police officers and left two others injured.
In early March, eight people were killed and two others seriously injured in a Contra-style ambush in the rural municipality of La Cruz de Rio Grande. None of these incidents has been resolved. The government of President Ortega persists in blaming the violence on “cattle rustlers” and “bands of delinquents.”
In Miami, Nicaraguan exile Enrique Castillo is one of the few public faces of the mysterious Recontras. The 55-year-old is remembered by some as the singer-songwriter who composed “Comandos de la Libertad,” the Contra anthem of the 1980s. In the past two months, Castillo has sent letters to several Republican lawmakers, including Senator Marco Rubio and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, to inform them about the Recontras’ efforts to oust Ortega and to solicit support in Washington. Several US officials told Rogers they have received overtures from “former Contras,” but are not interested in revisiting Nicaragua’s civil war years.
In what amounts to a mini-Cold War with Bogota, the Nicaraguan Army has released a 22-minute video narrating how a convicted Colombian spy was tasked with stealing Managua’s military secrets. In the recording, Luis Felipe Rios admits that “his primary mission was to ascertain the Central American country’s defense capabilities and the strategic projection of its military.” According to the footage, the Colombian national also tried to obtain information on Nicaragua’s possible plans to form alliances with Iran and Venezuela, buy weaponry from Russia, and modernize the country’s Soviet-built artillery, tanks, and combat helicopters.
In July, a Nicaraguan court sentenced Rios to 16 years in prison for crimes related to espionage. The 34-year-old Colombian was arrested in Managua the previous month after authorities shadowed him for over a year. Rios entered Nicaragua in 2010, apparently presenting himself as a Spanish citizen working for a publication that reports on security issues. In June, the Nicaraguan Army also dishonourably discharged Rios’ two accomplices, Amuro Alvarez Granera and Leonidas Castillo, after convicting the soldiers of “revealing military secrets together with the crimes of espionage and disobedience.”
Colombia’s pro-Washington, center-right government is at odds with Nicaragua, over the disputed San Andres Islands in the Caribbean Sea; Venezuela, which offers haven to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC); and other leftist regimes in the region.
Elsewhere in Central America, the Sandinistas’ ideological kin in El Salvador, the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), elected to power in 2009, has finally launched its assault on democratic institutions in that country. Earlier this year, the FMLN extra-legally appoint five judges to the Supreme Court and illegally nominated the next attorney general, who will be responsible for investigating government corruption.
When these widely unpopular moves were challenged before the Supreme Court’s constitutional panel, the FMLN lost, but the party, which was a guerrilla army until 1992, and President Mauricio Funes refused to back down. On July 1, the government employed locksmiths, under the aegis of public security forces, to break into the Supreme Court building and allow the unconstitutional judges to take their posts. The attorney general is not scheduled to take office until September.
In an attempt to legitimize its actions, the FMLNista regime referred the matter to the Central American Court of Justice (CACJ), but Funes’ domestic opponents countered that the outcome of the CACJ’s deliberations is irrelevant. El Salvador’s constitution states clearly that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter in such matters as staffing.
In response, the US Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation, which disburses funds to newly democratized states in Latin America, withheld US$450 grants from San Salvador.
Although Funes has attempted to portray himself as a “moderate” center-leftist, vis-à-vis his battle-hardened Marxist-Leninist vice president, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, Mary Anastasia O’Grady, writing for the Wall Street Journal, flat-out states: “Today El Salvador is ground zero in the Chávez revolution.” O’Grady also makes other important points, namely that if the White House cuts off grants to El Salvador, then it would signal that President Barack Hussein Obama, who is admired by Latin American socialists, disapproves of “power grabbing,” even when his ideological affections align with those of the “grabbers.”
“The Millennium money is crucial if the FMLN is to retain the presidency in the 2014 election,” she concludes in the second of a two-part article, adding: “It is also the best leverage Washington has to influence the outcome of what has become a broad-based Salvadoran struggle to save the young democracy from a militant FMLN takeover.”
In Venezuela, where Chavez’s 13-year-old Bolivarian Revolution offers inspiration to other leftist regimes in the region, the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) plans to finish assembling its one-million-man territorial militia by next year. Venezuela’s militia corps was established in 2005 and, while part of the armed forces, reports directly to the president.
Under “Plan Sucre,” opposition politician Maria Corina Machado told El Universal newspaper, Chavez intends to form a revolutionary army that, if necessary, could resist a US invasion with guerrilla tactics. The former presidential candidate said she obtained a copy of the plan printed by an institution affiliated with the national army. “The strategic objective is to build a new Bolivarian military doctrine that would prepare Venezuela to be successful in a prolonged popular war against ‘the empire,’ or the United States,” Machado said, citing the document. “This is clearly a proposal with Cuban inspiration and advice.”
By 2019, the Chavez regime expects to double the size of the territorial militia to two million. President Chavez’s paranoia regarding a potential US invasion of Venezuela echoes similar fearmongering from Cuba’s Castro Bros. and Nicaragua’s Ortega, who carefully followed the US-led overthrow of Grenada’s Marxist regime in 1983.
Most polls give Chavez, who recently declared himself free of cancer after a year-long medical ordeal that included frequent trips to Havana, leads of up to 35 per cent to win the election.
To further bolster the communist takeover of Venezuela, Chavez has surrounded himself with hundreds of Cuban military and intelligence advisors, a fact that has been well documented with the testimony of retired or purged Venezuelan generals. “Intelligence officers in Colombia,” reported the Washington Times in 2010, “have said that Cuba has established a ‘parallel chain of command’ within the [Venezuelan] military.”
Cuban teams also maintain and operate much of the US$4 billion worth of advanced military hardware that Venezuela recently acquired from Russia, including radar-guided anti-aircraft systems, Su-30 multipurpose fighter jets, Kilo-class submarines, Mi-24 and Mi-35 attack helicopters, as well as tanks and armored personnel carriers.
Meanwhile, ahead of Chavez’s re-election bid, Venezuela is facing unprecedented food shortages due to the PSUV’s nationalization (communization) of farms and grocery stores, such as Mercal. “We are going to make Venezuela an agricultural power and food exporter,” crowed Chavez to supporters in late July during a campaign stop. However, Venezuela continues to import about 70% of the food it consumes and, for the first time in recent history, there are shortages of basic staples such as corn meal, coffee, black beans, cooking oil, beef, and powdered milk. The artificial ceiling on prices, though, as farming expenses rise, has prompted farmers to leave their fields fallow.
“The last decade has been good for increasing agricultural production and exports throughout the region, save for Venezuela,” says Carlos Machado Allison, agriculture professor at Caracas’ IESA graduate school. “Venezuela is the exception, thanks to obstacles such as price and foreign exchange controls. The bureaucracy is daunting, and the government is now involved in all links of the chain from production to processing to retailing,” explains Allison.
The president’s other economic policies are just as “injurious,” critics accuse. The country’s largest privately owned farm supply store, Agro Patria, was taken over two years ago by the government and its managers replaced with inexperienced cadres from the ruling PSUV. Not surprisingly, Agro Patria went from a profitable operation to suffering frequent supply shortages.
One of the main reasons Venezuelans are suffering from food shortages is because in 2009 Chavez transferred control of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela’s busiest port, to Puertos del Alba, an ALBA front company that is 51 percent owned by Venezuela and 49 percent by the Castro regime. The Chávezista regime also granted concessions to Cuban enterprises to acquire products abroad.
“[The Cubans] control everything that comes in and goes out. We are importing meat from Nicaragua. Yet often that container does not come from Nicaragua and it is subject to a triangulation whereby a Cuban food enterprise buys the meat at a certain price and later sells it to Venezuela at a higher price,” explained Henrique Salas Feo, opposition governor of the state of Carabobo, where Puerto Cabello is located.
This past June, Paraguay’s first-ever center-left president, former Catholic priest Fernando Lugo, was impeached when the formerly ruling Colorado Party ganged up with Lugo’s fairweather allies in the Liberal Party. In response, a few thousand Lugo supporters milled about in the streets, but his ouster failed to inspire the overwhelming reaction seen in Venezuela in 2002, when a mass mobilization of Chavezistas thwarted a coup attempt against the self-avowed communist, and in Honduras in 2009, when the overthrow of Manuel Zelaya inspired widespread popular protests.
Critics say Lugo’s tenure in office has been marked by his failure to tackle corruption, suppress a new, FARC-linked rebel group known as the Paraguayan People’s Army, and fulfill campaign pledges to redress Paraguay’s unequal land distribution. Among politicians of the once-dominant Colorado Party, there was a lingering suspicion that Lugo, once called the “Red Bishop” of San Pedro, was a radical who distanced himself from more revolutionary leaders like Chavez and Evo Morales for purely tactical purposes.
At the international level, the Union of South American Nations and Southern Common Market (Mercosur) expelled Paraguay from their ranks, rejecting the appointment of Liberal Federico Franco to the Paraguayan presidency. “Democratic” and “transparent” elections, slated for April 2013, are the requirement for readmission to these organizations. By contrast, after a fact-finding mission by the Organization of American States, Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza suggested there was no “congressional coup.” Paraguay’s de facto president has downplayed the seriousness of Paraguay’s suspension from Unasur.
In December 2006, Lugo resigned from the priesthood since the Paraguayan constitution prohibits clergymen from standing as political candidates. At first, the Vatican refused to accept his resignation, but in July 2012 Pope Benedict XVI finally granted Lugo an unprecedented waiver to permanently remove his clerical status. Among devout Catholics, Lugo’s popularity waned when he admitted to fathering two children, by two different women, while bishop.
WW4 File: Pravda quotes Putin after G20 summit: Russia re-opened SIGINT base in Lourdes, Cuba in May, deployed “strategic nuclear missiles” on island; Russian attack sub lurked in Gulf of Mexico undetected for weeks in June-July, as Kremlin’s nuclear bombers probed airspace near Alaska and California
August 14, 2012Posted by on
– Obama Administration Slashes Defense Budget, US Navy’s ASW Capabilities as Putin Vows to Restore Russian Military Might
According to journalist Bill Gertz, a Russian Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, armed with long-range cruise missiles, operated undetected in the Gulf of Mexico for about four weeks in June and July. The sub’s presence in US waters was only confirmed after it left the region, the Free Beacon learned. The underwater incursion along the GulfCoast took place at the same time Russian strategic bombers made incursions into NORAD’s Air Defense Identification Zone near Alaska and California, spotlighting a growing military assertiveness by Moscow since ex-KGB officer Vladimir Putin came to power in 1999.
The US Navy is in charge of detecting foreign submarines near North American shores, especially those that sail near its own ballistic missile submarines and their bases. US anti-submarine warfare personnel use undersea sensors and satellites to locate and track hostile (i.e., Russian and Red Chinese) subs.
The latest Russian sub patrol exposes what US officials have stated are deficiencies in the country’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities. The Obama administration plans to reduce defense spending by US$487 billion over the next decade, including a US$1.3 billion cut to naval shipbuilding projects. This will result in scrapping plans to build 16 new warships through 2017, as well as to buy 10 advanced P-8 ASW aircraft.
“The Akula was built for one reason and one reason only: To kill U.S. Navy ballistic missile submarines and their crews,” a US official told Gertz. “It’s a very stealthy boat so it can sneak around and avoid detection and hope to get past any protective screen a boomer might have in place.”
The Akula-class features two types of subs, Akula 1 and Akula 2. The subs can fire both cruise missiles and torpedoes, and are equipped with the SSN-21 and SSN-27 submarine-launched cruise missiles, as well as SSN-15 anti-submarine-warfare missiles. The Akula also can lay mines.
The nearest US strategic nuclear sub base to the Gulf of Mexico is Kings Bay, Georgia. The base is homeport to eight missile-firing submarines, six of them equipped with nuclear-tipped missiles, and two armed with conventional warhead missiles.
“Sending a nuclear-propelled submarine into the Gulf of Mexico-Caribbean region is another manifestation of President Putin demonstrating that Russia is still a player on the world’s political-military stage,” commented Norman Polmar, a naval historian and submarine warfare expert. “Like the recent  deployment of a task force led by a nuclear cruiser into the Caribbean, the Russian Navy provides him with a means of ‘showing the flag’ that is not possible with Russian air and ground forces,” Polmar said in an email to Gertz.
Concerning Russian sub activity, Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “It’s a confounding situation arising from a lack of leadership in our dealings with Moscow. While the president is touting our supposed ‘reset’ in relations with Russia, Vladimir Putin is actively working against American interests, whether it’s in Syria or here in our own backyard.”
It is only the second time since 2009 that a Russian attack sub has patrolled so close to US shores. Three years ago, two Akula-class vessels were spotted near the East Coast. Polmar, who was interviewed at the time, said: “I don’t think they’ve [the Russians] put two first-line nuclear subs off the U.S. coast in about 15 years.”
During the Cold War, the US and Soviet Navies regularly parked their subs off the other country’s coasts in hair-trigger preparation for nuclear war. This was the premise behind Tom Clancy’s 1984 novel The Hunt for Red October, which later hit the screens with Sean Connery portraying a renegade Soviet sub commander.
In May, General Nikolai Makarov, chief of the Russian General Staff, announced that Russia would consider preemptive attacks on the USA’s nascent missile defenses in Europe, claiming the anti-missile units would be “destabilizing” in a crisis. In July, Makarov met with Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who questioned Russia’s top general about strategic bomber flights near US territory, which resumed in 2007, after a 15-year hiatus.
On August 2, Brazil’s O Estado de Sao Paoli reported that Moscow plans to sell up to 11 new subs, including one Akula, to oil-rich Communist Venezuela. Last month, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia plans to re-establish Cold War-era naval maintenance facilities in Vietnam, Cuba, and the Seychelles, much like the Russian Navy’s facility in Tartus, Syria, but denied there were plans to station naval forces in those states.
In a statement posted at the Russian Foreign Ministry website, Lavrov elaborated: “We are not speaking of any bases. The Russian navy ships serve exercise cruises and training in the same regions. To harbor, resupply, and enable the crew to rest are absolutely natural needs. We have spoken of such opportunities with our Cuban friends.”
In 2008, in the wake of Russia’s re-invasion of Georgia, Kremlin warships were sent to Venezuela to take part in naval exercises in a show of support for the neo-communist regime of President Hugo Chavez. The ships also made ports of call in Cuba and Nicaragua, where the Sandinistas re-assumed control in 2007, as well as transited the Panama Canal for the first time since the Second World War.
In February, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin announced that Moscow was working on a plan to build 10 new attack subs and 10 new ballistic subs through 2030, along with new aircraft carriers.
On August 1, communist organ Pravda published an article detailing Russia’s plans to re-project some of its Soviet-era power overseas. Russian Navy Commander Vice Admiral Viktor Chirkov revealed the Kremlin’s intentions on July 27. “At the international level, the creation of logistics points in Cuba, the Seychelles and Vietnam is being worked out,” Chirkov explained. Moscow can no doubt still count on the support of the Stalinist regimes in Havana and Hanoi, as well as that of the socialists who seized control of the Seychelles in 1977 and, in spite of Soviet military assistance that terminated in 1991, remain in power to this day.
In June, according to Pravda, Seychelles President James Michel acknowledged that his Indian Ocean island state plans to host the Russian Navy once again. Earlier, in March, Michel congratulated Putin on his return to the Russian presidency and welcomed a Russian warship, then participating in the United Nations-sanctioned anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden, during a friendly port of call in the Seychelles.
Pravda then noted that in late July Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang held talks with Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev in Moscow and President Putin in Sochi. Earlier that month, Cuban President Raul Castro met with Putin, the most recent of several Cold War-era and post-Cold War pilgrimages to Moscow. Beginning in the late 2000s, Russia revitalized its military links to Cuba. In 2008, Russian generals visited Cuba to inspect the state of its air defense forces and, last year, it was announced that Russian contractors will supply production equipment for manufacturing 7.62-mm rifle rounds. Cuban arms plant Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara will also receive a license and technology for recycling used ammunition.
The Pravda story included a remarkable quote from Putin, apparently made after the June 18-19 G20 summit in Mexico City, that appears to have escaped the attention of the White House, the Pentagon, and the MSM (go figure). In his comments, the Russian president: 1) defended his country’s military expansion, 2) denounced Washington’s failure to uphold President George W. Bush’s promise to not place a missile defense network in Europe, and 3) admitted that in May of this year Russia not only re-opened its SIGINT station in Lourdes, Cuba, which was closed shortly after the 911 terrorist attacks, but also deployed “strategic nuclear missiles” on the communist island state! Putin’s amazing comments follow:
In 2001, I, as the President of the Russian Federation and the supreme commander, deemed it advantageous to withdraw the radio-electronic center Lourdes from Cuba. In exchange for this, George Bush, the then U.S. president, has assured me that this decision would become the final confirmation that the Cold War was over and both of our states, getting rid of the relics of the Cold War, will start building a new relationship based on cooperation and transparency. In particular, Bush has convinced me that the U.S. missile defense system will never be deployed in Eastern Europe.
The Russian Federation has fulfilled all terms of the agreement. And even more. I shut down not only the Cuban Lourdes but also Kamran in Vietnam. I shut them down because I gave my word of honor. I, like a man, has kept my word. What have the Americans done? The Americans are not responsible for their own words. It is no secret that in recent years, the U.S. created a buffer zone around Russia, involving in this process not only the countries of Central Europe, but also the Baltic states, Ukraine and the Caucasus.
The only response to this could be an asymmetric expansion of the Russian military presence abroad, particularly in Cuba. In Cuba, there are convenient bays for our reconnaissance and warships, a network of the so-called “jump airfields.” With the full consent of the Cuban leadership, on May 11 of this year, our country has not only resumed work in the electronic center of Lourdes, but also placed the latest mobile strategic nuclear missiles “Oak” on the island.They did not want to do it the amicable way, now let them deal with this.
The quote’s context is unclear, except that Pravda states that Putin made these comments to “the press” on the sidelines of the last G20 summit. The missile system to which Putin refers, designated “Oak,” is also unknown, at least under this name.
In 1962, the Soviet Union deployed a number of medium- and intermediate-range nuclear missile on Cuba, including the now-obsolete SS-4 Sandal, forcing the USA to place a military blockade around the island and prompting a two-week nuclear showdown between Washington and Moscow. Thus unfolded the infamous Cuban Missile Crisis (photo of Soviet missile site above).
Even if we assume, moreover, that the Russian military is capable of once again secretly delivering land-based missiles to Cuba, whether by air or sea, discreetly deploying them, even in underground silos, is another matter. One would think US spy satellites would identify the threat, just as U-2 reconnaissance flights did in 1962.
Finally, if this quote is accurate, then the silence from the Oval Office is not only deafening, but treasonous! In such a case, Putin’s candor concerning strategic missile deployments in Cuba may explain Russian bomber and sub activity around North America this summer.
The Kremlin website has absolutely nothing to say about this subject.