>Communist Bloc Military Updates: Kremlin to build 5,000 new bomb shelters by 2012, Tu-95s test-fire cruise missiles, Duma awards FSB with KGB powers

>The Kremlin-run media reports that Moscow regional authorities have given the green light to architects to design and build 5,000 bomb shelters for the express purpose of protecting Muscovites from strategic nuclear attack. Moscow’s outdated shelters were built during the Soviet era and can house no more than one half of the city’s current population. The Russian capital is the seventh largest urban center in the world.

Pictured above: The new and improved KGB: A Russian Federal Security Service officer.

More emergency shelters are needed in Moscow’s suburbs, reports Russia Today. According to the requirements of civil defence authorities, the new shelters must be easy to build and will be situated 10 to 15 meters under apartment blocks, shopping centers, sport complexes, and parks. Beginning in the 1930s, Soviet authorities built 7,000 bomb shelters throughout Moscow. Some subway stations were purposely built deep under the city to double as air raid shelters. In the early 1990s many shelters were privatized by entrepreneurs who transformed them into warehouses, parking lots, and restaurants.

The modernization of Moscow’s air raid shelter network is to be completed by 2012, which suggests that Missile Day will probably not take place before that date. The US government has implemented no comparable program since the supposed end of the Cold War in 1991.

Question for dot.gov: If the Cold War is over, then why are Russian authorities building new bomb shelters? Fact: There are only two countries that are capable of lobbing nuclear warhead-tipped ballistic missiles at Russia. One is Red China, with which Russia buried the hatchet in an open alliance formed in 2001. The other, of course, is the USA. So, ahem, got CD?

Incidentally, Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s civil defence czar, is an “ex”-CPSU cadre and related by marriage to Oleg Shenin, mastermind of the phoney anti-Gorbachevist coup of August 1991. Shenin died in 2009. Last year, Shoigu visited Serbia, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua to help the red regimes there to set up “emergency situations” centers. The “ex”-communist Socialist Party of Serbia holds several important government portfolios in Belgrade, including the interior ministry.

Another newsworthy development shows that Russia continues to prepare for war against its old adversary, the USA. Last Friday, two Tu-95 strategic bombers test-fired cruise missiles at targets in the Pemboi testing site during a 12-hour flight. Pemboi is located in the internal republic of Komi. The Bear bombers returned to the Ukrainka air base in Far East Russia. A MiG-31 interceptor jet and a Beriev A-50 Shmel airborne early warning aircraft also participated in the exercise.

Communist Bloc Power Plays in Eurasia and Latin America

Several weeks ago, the Russian Far East was the location of a multi-branch military exercise called Vostok 2010, personally observed by President Dmitry Medvedev aboard the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Peter the Great. In attendance were military delegations from Ukraine, which since February has boasted a pro-Moscow government, and the People’s Republic of China.

General Nikolai Makarov, chief of the Russian General Staff, dispelled any notion that Vostok 2010 was intended to be an unfriendly signal toward Red China. “The exercises took place on a vast territory near China, our ally,” he explained, adding: “So, it was quite logical to invite their representatives and thus avoid possible questions who the exercises were targeted against, and why. I think we scattered any possible doubts.”

With respect to the Ukrainian presence at Vostok 2010, Makarov commented: “This was a considerable improvement of bilateral relations and the Ukrainian desire to develop the[ir] armed forces proceeding from our experience. They wanted to see the effect of the [Russian] armed forces’ reform on the operation of servicemen. We met their desire, and the defence minister [Anatoly Serdyukov] invited a Ukrainian delegation to the exercises.” The Russian and Ukrainian air forces are slated to hold a joint exercise this fall.

The Moscow-Beijing Axis, which was predicted by KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn in his 1984 book New Lies for Old, will hold another multilateral military drill in Kazakhstan later this year. “Peace Mission 2010” will take place under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and represents the fifth significant Sino-Russian war game since 2005. According to Golitsyn, the Soviet and Chinese communists intend to form “one clenched fist” to smash the “bourgeois” nations.

The Soviet strategists are also moving cautiously back into Latin America. In February we reported that Russia intends to carry out for the first time ever a combined exercise with Nicaragua. However, no date for this event was offered by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was then visiting Managua. This would not be the first time Russia has held combined exercises with a Latin American country. In September 2008 the Russian Air Force deployed two Tu-160 strategic bombers to Venezuela for a week-long exercise over the southern Caribbean Sea. Two months later the Russian Navy arrived in South America to hold a joint drill with its Venezuelan counterpart. At the time further Russian-Venezuelan naval and air force exercises were promised, but have yet to materialize.

For their part, the communist regimes in Caracas and Managua were slated to hold a joint exercise in Central America in May and June of this year, but this also has yet to occur. According to articles published in the Latin American media in September and December 2009, a small contingent of Venezuelan troops was to oversee the deployment of combat aircraft and warships in Nicaragua. Since Hugo Chavez has over the last 10 years accumulated considerable firepower from Russia, including fighter jets, tactical missiles, and tanks, we have considered the possibility that the Soviet strategists may position their military assets in Nicaragua under the guise of Nicaraguan-Venezuelan exercises.

In a not unrelated development, the Nicaraguan military has modernized and reactivated the air base at Punta Huete, built with Soviet help in the 1980s but never utilized. The Panchito Aerodrome, which caused some consternation for the Reagan Administration, can accommodate Russia’s Tu-160 and Tu-95 nuclear bombers.

In Russia’s “Backyard”: FM Lavrov Attends International Conference in Kabul, Pledges Arms and Training for Afghan Military and Police

Latin America is sometimes referred to as the USA’s “backyard.” If Russia has a backyard, then Afghanistan certainly falls within this domain. In another story that exposes Moscow’s continued meddling in Afghanistan and, thus, the deceptive nature of the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, state-run Novosti reports that Russia will arm the Afghan military and police forces, as well as train Afghan police in Russia. At an international conference on restoring peace to Afghanistan, held in Kabul, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared:

We are working with our partners on additional measures for supplying the Afghan army and police and expanding cooperation in training personnel for the Afghan armed forces. We will henceforth assist in forming the Afghan armed forces, including by increasing the number of Afghan police officers, trained in Russia, who contribute to the restoration of the country’s economy.

Lavrov joined other conference participants in discussing the timeframe for troop withdrawal by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. Earlier this year Moscow cancelled a US$891 million debt owed to Russia by the US-backed Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai. As a sidenote, the Left.ru website alleges that Russian military intelligence (GRU) is arming the Taliban via Russian and Chechen criminal syndicates that operate across the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border.

Back in the USSR: FSB Receives KGB-Style Powers to Crush Anti-Kremlin Dissent

Even though the Communist Party of the Soviet Union abandoned its public monopoly of power in 1991, the Soviet strategists continue to rely on a passive population that obediently votes for potemkin parties like United Russia. Last Friday, the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, approved a bill that will permit the Federal Security Service (FSB), which was hived off from the Soviet Committee for State Security (KGB), to warn (intimidate) people who have broken no laws but are regarded as potential “criminals, terrorists, and radicals.”

President Dmitry Medvedev, who like his Soviet-era predecessor Yuri Andropov, was initially portrayed as a “pro-Western liberal reformer,” was quick to justify his support for the new law. “I would like to turn your attention to the fact that it is our domestic legislation, and not an international act,” Medvedev huffed, adding: “Each country has the right to perfect its own legislation, including that which affects special services. And we will do this.” The legislation was advanced immediately after two female suicide bombers, allegedly from Chechnya, attacked the Moscow subway in March, while its stated objective is to thwart the growth of ideological “radicalism” among young Russians.

“It’s a plain attempt on the part of the FSB to return to the old KGB methods . . . when a person committed no crime but still became an object of KGB attention,” protested Nikita Petrov, a historian who works for the Memorial human rights organization. Another anti-Kremlin activist, Lev Ponomarev of the group For Human Rights, observed: “Liberals in Russia saw the bill as a litmus test for Medvedev and were surprised to hear him take credit for it. This is a pretty important moment.”

No on who recognizes the dialectical nature of the fall of Soviet communism, however, should be surprised by Medvedev’s support for the re-KGB-ization of the Russian secret police. The Russian president is a Soviet Komsomol graduate and a compliant tool in the hands of Russia’s KGB-communist dictator, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

In his 2002 book Blowing up Russia, FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko traces the origin of the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow, Volgodonsk, and Buynaksk to the FSB. Four years later, Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium-210, allegedly administered by an active agent of his former employers in the Lubyanka. In a statement dictated from his death bed, he accused Putin by name as his murderer. Along the same theme of an “FSB trace” behind Russia’s domestic terrorism, geopolitical analyst Jeff Nyquist unearths a sinister strategic purpose behind suspect dramas like the Nord-Ost theater and Beslan school hostage crises. This strategic purpose includes greater centralization of power in the Kremlin and the depiction of Islam as a common enemy of both Russia and the USA.

>USA/USSR2 Files: Kremlin tacitly admits guilt in spy pleas as Washington, Moscow swap spooks in Vienna, communist agents promised new lives in Russia

>Russian Communist Party Boss “Condemns” Putinist Regime for “Bowing to West” over Spy Scandal, Zyuganov Beats Drum over US Patriot Deployment in Poland

Last Friday the US and Russian governments swapped spies, hurriedly sweeping under the carpet a two-week saga of international intrigue with Cold War overtones. A Vision Airlines jet chartered by the US government landed at the airport in Vienna, Austria, and disgorged the 10 men and women who last Thursday admitted in court they were secret agents of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). The US jet parked next to a Russian government plane, which carried four people who had been convicted of spying for the US Central Intelligence Agency. The Russian and Western spies transferred from one plane to the other.

US Attorney Preet Bharara informed reporters that the Kremlin’s deep cover agents had been requested to tell their employers in SVR headquarters: “If you come to America to spy on Americans, you will be caught and exposed.” US officials explained that the grade school daughters of the New Jersey couple that went by the name of Richard and Cynthia Murphy were also on the spy swap plane. The teenage sons of the spy couple Andrei Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova, who went by the pseudonyms Donald Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley, were reported to have left for Moscow last Wednesday. Their real names were disclosed in court the following day.

Before they entered their guilty pleas, the 10 spies met with Russian diplomats to discuss the details of their new lives in the homeland of the Bolshevik Revolution. In the case of ardent Castroist Vicky Pelaez–who is believed to have been born in Peru, rather than Russia, unlike her comrades–her lawyer explained to the court that the Russian government promised to give her free housing, a monthly stipend of US$2,000 for life, and visas and an all-expense paid trip for her children to travel to Russia.

Juan Lazaro, Pelaez’s husband and a former Baruch College professor who is reputed to have handled money for Peru’s Shining Path guerrillas, admitted that his wife travelled to Red Venezuela to pick up money from the SVR. Lazaro’s true identity is unknown but, like Pelaez, this outspoken leftist may find the Order of Lenin waiting for him in the Not-So-Former Soviet Union.

Mystery man “Christopher Metsos,” the Russian citizen who hid behind a Canadian identity as he couriered funds to this decade-old spy ring, is still on the lam, having first fled the USA and then skipping bail in communist-ruled Cyprus.

Jeffrey Burds, professor of Russian and Soviet history at Northeastern University, remarked that the quick spy exchange proves that Washington and Moscow are eager to “reset” bilateral relations:

It was in everyone’s best interest to put this scandal behind them as quickly as possible. I think that both the Russian foreign diplomats as well as the United States State Department have made it very clear that they did not want this scandal to derail US-Russian relations, which have been quite good in the recent months. The Russian Government will be inclined to celebrate their service, award them with medals and then they’ll quietly go back into their lives. They [the SVR] will use this, in other words, as a sort of a recruitment poster rather than a reason for embarrassment.

Of the four Russian citizens accused of spying for the CIA and who will find new homes in the West, nuclear weapons scientist Igor Sutyagin continues to maintain his innocence, but was compelled by the Kremlin to acknowledge his “guilt” in writing as part of the spy swap deal.

Gennady Zyuganov, chairman of the (secretly ruling) Communist Party of the Russian Federation, portrayed the FBI’s exposure of the SVR spy ring as an attempt by the USA to give Russia a “black eye” and denounced the “ex”-communists who staff the Russian government, like Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, as “weak-kneed” in the face of the US government’s nefarious plans. On the party website Chairman Zyuganov mocked: “The Russian leadership strives to strengthen cooperation with the US and strongly believes in its friendly intensions. However, the behavior of our new ‘comrades’ – well illustrated by the recent ‘spy scandal’ – hardly resembles a friendly one.”

Zyuganov then noted that the “alleged” presence of a Russian spy ring in the USA was announced shortly after President Dmitry Medvedev’s official visit to Washington, insinuating that this “stone to be thrown at Russia’s window had been prepared in advance.” “Trying to please the US, the Russian leadership keeps making new concessions and pushes away those very few allies that we have left. In return, Moscow gets gifts like the spy scandal,” Zyuganov growled.

The Communist Party chief then condemned the USA for deploying Patriot anti-missile batteries in Poland: “Moscow, in return, announced it was abandoning all counter measures it was planning. But today the US is deploying Patriot missile systems… and are planning to deploy the most up-to-date SM3 missile interceptors.”

Meanwhile, FBI counterintelligence has exposed yet another suspected Russian agent, 23-year-old Alexei Karetnikov, who is presently undergoing deportation proceedings. The Federal Bureau of Investigation began monitoring this 12th “spy” shortly after he entered the USA in October 2009. Karetnikov lived in Seattle and worked for Microsoft. However, investigators were unable to collect enough evidence to charge him with espionage and believe his case is different from that of the 10 spies shipped back to Russia.

The last publicized spy swap between the USA and Russia took place on February 11, 1986 at Glienicke Bridge in Berlin, when the city was still divided between the Free West and the Communist East. In this superpower exchange, the human rights campaigner and political prisoner Anatoly Sharansky and three Western agents were exchanged for Karl Koecher and four other Soviet Bloc agents.

“Many of these [swaps] have been done in secret, but this one has created a lot of publicity and everyone just wants this to go away now,” commented former CIA Russia analyst Mark Stout. So, this ex-spook hopes Putin’s spies will go away. Wishful thinking. The Soviet plan for world conquest continues apace under the guise of sham political pluralism and state-guided “capitalism” in the Motherland, and under the skilful manipulation of “ex”-CPSU cadres and “ex”-KGB types.

>Red Dawn Alert: Bay of Pigs vet: Cuban DI, Venezuelan SEBIN helped Russia run spy ring in USA, Cyprus’ red pres.: SVR paymaster’s flight not our fault

>– Peruvian-American Journalist Pelaez Visited Havana, Photographed in Company of Cuban Intelligence, Received Payments at SVR Drops in Venezuela

– Pelaez’s Husband US-Based Money Handler for Shining Path Guerrillas, Former Baruch College Prof Arrested with Wife

– Cue Twilight Zone Theme Song: SVR Paymaster Materializes in Cyprus, Skips Bail, Allegedly Escapes aboard Infamous Freighter MV Arctic Sea

Communism’s dead, we’ve been told a gazillion times by the MSM, academic, and dot.gov. However, this ruse has served as an effective cover for communist agents to ply their trade in the USA, well into the 21st century.

The plot has thickened behind the 10 accused Russian spies busted by the FBI in late June, as well as their paymaster, “Christopher Metsos,” who was detained by Cypriot authorities then released on bail, only to escape altogether. The Canada Free Press has picked up some eye-popping quotes from Cuban-American writer Arthuro Cobo that exposes a dark nexus between Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), heir to the Soviet KGB; Cuba’s Intelligence Directorate (DI), formerly known as the General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI); and Venezuela’s Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN), known as the National Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP) until 2009.

In 1980 Bay of Pigs invasion veteran Cobo alerted US authorities to the presence of Castroist spies among the Mariel Boatlift refugees. Cobo is quoted as saying regarding the current Kremlin spy flap in the USA:

The 11 arrests so far are the tip of the iceberg. Many more to follow, many in South Florida.

The South American country where Vicky Pelaez [one of the accused] picked up her payments from Russia’s SVR was Venezuela.

Russia’s SVR, Castro’s DGI (Directorio General de Inteligencia) and Chavez’s SEBIN (Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia) are all linked. They all share agents and information. Castro-Cubans run Chavez’s intelligence agency practically lock, stock and barrel.

Vicky Pelaez was a frequent traveler to Cuba where she met with Castro’s DGI. Pictures exist of those meetings.

Prominent figures in South Florida are under investigation and the net is closing on them. One suspect was very close to a US presidential candidate [Barrack Hussein Obama?] during the 2008 campaign.

Peruvian-American journalist Pelaez (pictured above in undated photo), who was formerly employed by New York’s El Diario/La Prensa, has also written for Cuba’s state-run media. In 2006 she prostrated herself before Cuba’s retired communist dictator:

Fidel Castro is already immortal! He is a man who inspired and demonstrated the fertile path of truth for other leaders! We had the moments of Christ, Mohammed, Confucius, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Newton, Pascal, Bolivar, Marti, Che Guevara, etc.

Fidel Castro Ruz belongs to that glorious group of rebels! With his towering intelligence, discipline, drive, and persistence he launched his heroic struggle and gained his people’s support to fight for a new and sovereign Cuba! But his fight is not over!

For his part, Castro quoted Pelaez extensively and approvingly in his May 8, 2010 column “Reflections,” which appears in the Communist Party of Cuba organ Granma.

Significantly, Pelaez’s husband Juan Lazaro, according to Miguel Angel Sanchez, one of Vicky’s former colleagues at El Diario/La Prensa, once served as the US-based treasurer of Shining Path, Peru’s bloodthirsty Maoist rebels. At one time Lazaro taught at Baruch College-The City University of New York. Lazaro has admitted to US authorities that his wife made several trips to South America to receive money at SVR drops, but his own identity is unknown. “Lazaro” is an alias. It is no exaggeration to refer to Pelaez and Lazaro as “communist agents.”

Meanwhile, Metsos, the Russian national who channelled funds to the SVR spy ring by way of covert money drops, skipped the USA and fled to Cyprus, where he was arrested, only to be released on bail on June 30. He paid for his own bail from a bank account in Larnaca, Cyprus. The mysterious “Metsos” promptly disappeared, but Cypriot President Dmitris Christofias defended the actions of his underlings, charging the US Justice Department with negligence in forwarding pertinent documents to Nicosia. “Only now are they providing them, only now are they preparing them,” protested Christofias, the European Union’s only communist leader and a slavish ally of Russian Communist Party boss Gennady Zyuganov. He added: “I don’t think it is appropriate to apportion blame to the Cyprus Republic.”

Cypriot authorities seized Metsos’ laptop computer, which is also sought by US counterparts. Incidentally, “Metsos” is a false identity stolen from a Canadian citizen.

During the Cold War Cyprus was a haunt for spies from both the Free World and the Soviet Bloc and an important SIGINT post for the US and British militaries. Today, the island is divided between the internationally recognized, Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus, which is a haven for the Russian Mafia, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is occupied by Turkish troops. Cypriot authorities suspect that Metsos might have snuck into northern Cyprus, which has no extradition treaties with other countries.

In a bizarre twist to the SVR-DI-SEBIN nexus in America, the Information Dissemination website, citing sources in “maritime circles,” asserts that Metsos left Cyprus by rendezvousing with a certain freighter that was passing the island. It is known that on July 1 the infamous MV Arctic Sea just “happened” to be steaming past Cyprus. On July 24, 2009 eight to 10 English-speaking men, travelling in an inflatable boat, approached the Canadian-owned Arctic Sea off the coast of Sweden as it began its voyage from Jakobstad, Finland to Bejaia, Algeria, supposedly transporting 6,700 cubic meters of lumber. Fifteen Russian nationals manned the ship. The Arctic Sea crew claimed that the intruders, who professed to be Swedish policemen, searched the ship and left, leaving some crew injured.

A hijack alert was belatedly issued by Interpol on August 3 and the Russian Navy dispatched its Baltic Sea Fleet to search for the Arctic Sea. The vessel failed to reach its destination on the scheduled date of August 5 and was never seen passing through the Strait of Gibraltar. On August 14 the Arctic Sea was at last sighted off the Cape Verde Islands and three days later Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced that the Russian Navy had seized the ship. No suspicious cargo was discovered. Intriguingly, Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, admitted that Moscow had deliberately supplied false information to the media in order keep Russian plans secret.

On August 18 Serdyukov confirmed that eight hijackers had been arrested, and two days later the Estonian Security Police listed one of these men as Estonian, two as Latvians, and two as Russians. Some of them had prior criminal records.

At this time Finnish police acknowledged that the hijackers had demanded a ransom but, strangely, the Arctic Sea’s owners denied receiving any such communication. On August 18 the security chief of a Russian insurance agency, Renaissance Insurance Group, told newspapers that two weeks prior someone claiming to represent the Arctic Sea hijackers telephoned his office, demanding 1.5 million pounds or else the ship would be sunk and crew killed.

On October 29, more than two months after its seizure, the Russian Navy finally delivered the Arctic Sea to Malta, where it was inspected by Maltese police, and on November 11 the ship, repaired and re-certified, finally delivered its cargo of lumber to Algeria.

On June 11, 2010 the Russian Prosecution Service sentenced Latvian citizen Dmitry Savins to seven years imprisonment for leading the would-be hijackers. In his testimony Savins identified Eerik-Niiles Kross, head of the Security Coordination Office in the Estonian State Chancellery in the late 1990s, as the operation’s mastermind. Eerik-Niiles is the son of Jaan Kross, one of Estonia’s most famous writers. He denies Savins’ charges.

Since the summer of 2009 conspiracy theories have abounded concerning the Russian government’s account of the Arctic Sea saga. One theory posits that Russia, instead of taking the easy route over the Caspian Sea, was shipping S-300 air defense units to Iran, while a second theory holds that Moscow as possibly transporting MiG-31 fighter jets to Syria. Tarmo Kouts, former commander of the Estonian Defense Forces, offers yet another theory: “Only the presence of cruise missiles on board the ship can explain Russia’s strange behavior in the whole story.” Indeed, in addition to the Russian Navy deploying its Baltic Fleet to chase the Arctic Sea, the Russian Air Force dispatched two Ilyushin Il-76 transport planes to Sal International Airport in the Cape Verde Islands. Both during and after the Cold War, the communist regime in Cape Verde has permitted Soviet and Russian aircraft to utilize Sal as a refuelling base en route to Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Big oceans, small world,” concludes Information Dissemination blogger “Galrahn” as he ponders Metsos’ alleged rendezvous with the Arctic Sea. If true, we can only say: No kidding.

Since the FBI believes that some elements of the SVR spy ring have been operating in the USA for as long as 20 years, that is, since before the collapse of the Soviet Union, we should consider the possibility that this subversive entity, which apparently has links to Communist Cuba and Red Venezuela, may have ties to the Cuban Five, which were convicted in 2001 of spying for the Castroist regime. Russian politicians have on several occasions called for the release of the Cuban Five. As quoted above, Bay of Pigs vet Cobo alludes to future arrests of foreign agents in South Florida. “At one point in 1978,” writes the Miami Herald, “Castro boasted to a visitor that he had 300 agents in South Florida alone.” KGB defector Oleg Gordievsky, who resides in the United Kingdom, contends that the Russian Federation presently operates 400 SVR agents in the USA.

To this real-life Tom Clancy-esque drama, we should add the following data. Russia’s primary allies in the Caribbean Basin are Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. In November 2008 David Smith, senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, observed: “In the medium term, beware of a potential Cuba-Nicaragua-Venezuela military triangle astride the approaches to Florida, the Mississippi, Houston and the Panama Canal, within [Russian] bomber range of America’s eastern seaboard. This would replicate the Soviet Cuba-Nicaragua-Grenada triangle smashed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1983.”

>Communist Bloc Military Updates: Medvedev observes Vostok 2010 drills from missile cruiser, Makarov denies specific country, bloc of nations targeted

>– Russian Air Force Test-Lands Ka-27 and Ka-52 Combat Choppers on French Navy’s Amphibious Assault Ship during Port of Call at St. Petersburg

– Leaders of Eurasian Economic Community Converge in Astana to Enforce Implementation of New Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus

The Kazakh opposition claims that Russia is using the Customs Union to restore the Soviet empire.
— Alexei Vlasov, Director, Center for the Study of Political Processes in the CIS, Moscow State University; Novosti, July 2, 2010

On Sunday President Dmitry Medvedev boarded the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Peter the Great to observe the naval phase of the biannual Vostok (East) military drill in the Sea of Okhotsk. Former Gazprom chairman Medvedev began his political career in the Soviet Komsomol and is widely perceived as a pliable pawn in the hands of Russia’s KGB-communist dictator, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Vostok 2010 began on June 29 at various military training sites in Russia’s Far East and involved some 10,000 troops and 1,000 items of military hardware. The first, land-based phase of the drills ended on Saturday, while the second phase will continue until July 8. In addition to Peter the Great, which is commissioned with the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet, based out of Murmansk, the Black Sea Fleet’s missile cruiser Moskva will also participate. The Pacific Fleet’s missile cruiser Varyag lately weighed anchor in San Francisco in a friendly, once-in-a-century port of call. The Black Sea Fleet’s home port is Sevastopol in the former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, while the Pacific Fleet is based out of Vladivostok.

Prior to the maneuvers, General Nikolai Makarov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, explained that Vostok 2010 would include live-fire drills and simulated airborne assaults and amphibious landings. The Russian Ground Forces will also practice the deployment of additional troops in Siberia and the Far East to reinforce the existing military contingents in the region.

Makarov emphasized that the Vostok 2010 drills were not aimed against any country. “This exercise…is not directed against any specific country or military-political bloc. It has a purely defensive nature in ensuring the security and national interests of the [Russian] state in the Far East,” he explained. During the 1980s Makarov was a battalion commander in the Soviet Group of Forces in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

Realistically speaking, though, the only state that is in a position to challenge the Kremlin’s hegemony over the sparsely settled Russian Far East is the People’s Republic of China, the world’s most populous country. Since the world congress of communists that took place in Moscow in 1960, the Russian and Chinese Communists are still committed to advancing global proletarian revolution, by deception, pseudo-capitalism, or conquest as necessary. Until 2001, when Moscow and Beijing signed the ground-breaking Treaty of Cooperation and Good Neighborliness, the Soviets and Red Chinese feigned disunity and even hostility in the so-called “Sino-Soviet split.” Still, cultural differences and residual nationalist sentiment no doubt stain the ideological purity of Russian and Chinese communism to this day. We strongly suspect that there is a lingering distrust between the RF and PRC, in spite of their common devotion to the same ideology.

Alternately, it is possible that the Russian Armed Forces’ Vostok drills represent a preparation for war on the Korean Peninsula, especially a confrontation with the USA, which has 27,000 soldiers stationed in the Republic of Korea. Soviet troops occupied the northern part of Korea at the end of the Second World War, helping the Korean Workers’ Party to set up the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Five years later, the North Korean army invaded and attacked the South, with a little help from hundreds of thousands of People’s Liberation Army troops and Soviet pilots flying DPRK fighter jets.

During Vostok 2010 the Russian military once again, as it did in last September’s Zapad (West) 2009 drill, tested its new command structure, which was altered from the Soviet era’s four-level system (military district, army, division, regiment) to a three-level system (strategic command, tactical command, brigade). Since the Kremlin intends to transform Russia’s military from a conscripted army into a somewhat smaller, professional force, unit mobility and combat readiness are imperative.

“The Vostok-2010 war games,” state-run Novosti elaborates, “included flights of frontline [tactical] bombers with midair refueling. Many motorized and air defense units also covered long distances by rail and in self-propelled mode.” Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov acknowledged that “The goal of the exercise is to see how the new structure works, to check whether our decisions were correct, and if necessary, change them.” Incidentally, Serdyukov is son in law to current Gazprom chairman and former prime minister Viktor Zubkov.

Graduating a whole new cadre of military officers, skilled in waging 21st-century warfare, is another imperative for Russia’s military reforms. Novosti editorializes:

A new army needs new officers. The methods of warfare have changed so much in the past [two] decades that officers now need to have broader military knowledge to be able to command and coordinate inter-service groups, and also better civilian skills allowing them to act as managers, diplomats, financiers and lawyers. Taken together, these skills will allow modern officers to be more flexible in a situation that implies a broad use of non-military methods of conflict settlement and to be highly selective as regards military instruments.

In fact, the industrialized Western countries put these requirements to their officers, in particular high-ranking ones. In Western armies, officers hold a variety of related posts during their carrier, which makes them versatile professionals. Russia has only entered this path.

Clearly, the Soviet strategists, observing the Russian army’s failures in the 2008 Georgia campaign, not to mention the failed test-launches of the new Bulava SLBM, are anxious to create a fighting force that can challenge NATO. For this reason, as we have blogged before, the Kremlin is swallowing its pride in order to fast-track military modernization by simply buying equipment, armaments, and vessels from the very countries it intends to attack one day. In April, Mikhail Dmitriev, chief of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, confirmed that Moscow will close the much-discussed Mistral deal with Paris by the end of 2010.

To equip these four amphibious assault ships, one to be purchased and three to be built under license, the Russian Air Force will procure at least 100 combat helicopters from the Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise.

“During a visit by Mistral to St. Petersburg [in November 2009], we tested the landing of our Ka-27 Helix and Ka-52 Alligator helicopters on the vessel. Currently, the state armament program stipulates the purchase of several dozens helicopters for this deal,” admitted Vyacheslav Kovalyov, first deputy director of Kumertau. He added: “The Russian Air Force plans to buy the Ka-52 Alligator, Ka-226 Hoodlum helicopters and a new modification of the Ka-27 helix helicopter, the Ka-27M, the development of which is now in its final stage.”

A “high-ranking source” in the Kremlin’s United Industrial Corporation (OPK) confirmed that the air force will buy up to 100 Ka-class helicopters, including some 70 Ka-27M choppers, to equip Mistral ships.

“Many Russian military and industry experts have questioned the financial and military sense of the purchase,” concedes Novosti, “and some believe that Russia simply wants to gain access to advanced naval technology that could be used in the future in potential conflicts with NATO and its allies.” Indeed.

Meanwhile, the Soviet strategists continue to patiently assemble the building blocks for the restored, revitalized Soviet Union. Three of these building blocks are the Commonwealth of Independent States, which immediately replaced the USSR in November 1991; the Union State of Russia and Belarus, formed in 1997; and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which partly replaces the Warsaw Pact, dismantled in 1991. Two others are the Eurasian Economic Community (Eurasec) and the brand-new Customs Union of Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus.

The Interstate Council of Eurasec, which doubles as the supreme body of the Customs Union, will hold meetings in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, on July 5. The heads of these “former” Soviet republics plan to sign a joint statement on the enforcement of the Customs Code Treaty, which came into effect on July 1, within the framework of Eurasec. In addition to Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan, Eurasec encompasses strife-torn Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

During the Third Astana Economic Forum on July 1 and 2, Kazakhstan’s long-ruling “ex”-communist president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, complained “that the potential of Europe-Asia interaction has so far not been used in full, but there is hope that the enforcement of a common document on the fundamental norms of Eurasian integration will help consolidate rival projects in the region, giving them a common ideology and development goals.”

We rather suspect that the “common ideology and development goals” of the Eurasec leaders are a “friendly” form of communism. By contrast, reports Novosti, “the Kazakh opposition claims that Russia is using the Customs Union to restore the Soviet empire.” The Kazakh opposition is correct, but its candor will lead to its demise.

>Middle East/Latin America Files: Assad visits Venezuela, Cuba, joins Chavez in condemning “Yankee imperialism," "genocidal" Israel as "common enemy"

>While Americans remain fixated on the massive, ever-expanding environmental disaster which is British Petroleum’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and focus on trivialities such as Larry King’s departure from CNN, Communist Bloc allies in the Middle East and Latin America are closing ranks around the USA.

Last Saturday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad kicked off his four-nation Latin American tour by arriving in Caracas, where he met Venezuelan counterpart and fellow arch-terrorist, Hugo Chavez. There Comrades Assad and Chavez inked cooperation agreements on technology, agriculture, trade, and a new bi-national bank with an initial capitalization of US$100 million. They also agreed to build a $4.7 billion oil refinery in Syria, with Venezuela picking up one third of the tab. Assad is the first Syrian president to ever visit Venezuela.

During his tete-a-tete with Assad, Chavez invited Syria to join the Havana/Caracas-led Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) as an observer. Both presidents are reliable ideological allies of the Soviet strategists and loyal customers of Rosoboronexport, the Kremlin’s arms exporter. Incidentally, while visiting Caracas in 2008 Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev also expressed an interest in obtaining observer status for Russia in ALBA.

The socialist leaders of Venezuela and Syria, along with their chum Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, follow proudly in the footsteps of the Soviet and Nazi dictatorships. Caracas’ independent El Universal reports that Chavez and Assad resolved to resist “Yankee imperialism” and the “genocidal state of Israel,” calling the Jewish state the “common enemy” of both countries. Unlike Egypt and Jordan, Syria did not sign a peace treaty with Israel after the last Arab-Israeli war in 1973, hence the war drums that Damascus continues to beat nearly 40 years later.

“Chavez is an Arab leader, who is in the heart of the Arab world,” gushed Assad, amid applause from hundreds of members of Venezuela’s estimated 700,000-strong Syrian community. He continued: “This is no flattering; it is the truth. We have his stance about Gaza, we have seen Venezuela’s historical position. President Chavez has overcome the pressure of world powers.” For his part, Chavez declared: “Latin American people need a greater presence of Arab governments; we need to become united, and Bashar has decided to take the lead in this rapprochement effort.”

If you have spent any time at this blog then you will realize that hatred of Jewry and Israel is not the sole province of neo-Nazis and “Christian Identity” types, but also communists, who consider Zionism, like any other form of nationalism, to be an obstacle to the ultimate triumph of world revolution. Indeed, in the Soviet Bloc after Joseph Stalin’s death official anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism were useful forms of propaganda to crush dissent domestically, attack US interests in Europe and elsewhere, and promote the cause of Arab “national liberation.”

Together, Bashar and, prior to 2000, his dad Hafez have ruled Syria for almost as long as the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party has controlled this Middle Eastern state that. With a little help from the Syrian Communist Party, the neo-fascist Syrian Social Nationalist Party–which is also active in Lebanon–and other pan-Arab leftist groupings, the Ba’athists exercise their ruthless reign of terror in collaboration with the National Progressive Front. The Syrian Ba’athists are closely allied with the (secretly ruling) Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). In May 2008 CPRF Chairman Gennady Zyuganov travelled to Damascus where he swapped notes with the Ba’athist leadership.

Assad openly flaunts his new mutual defense pact with Ahmadinejad, regularly manipulates the Lebanese government through sympathetic politicians like President Michel Suleiman, and barely hides its support for Hezbollah, which not only possesses Russian-built missiles obtained via the Syrian army, but also operates bases on Syrian territory. While Assad stands accused of coddling Hezbollah, Chavez has resisted charges of providing havens for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and Spain’s Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna.

After rubbing elbows with Chavez, Assad flew to Havana last Sunday, the second pitstop on his excellent Latin American adventure. During a three-day snuggle-fest with President Raul Castro the Syrian dictator and his host agreed to promote bilateral economic and political ties that began in 1965. According to Granma, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of Cuba, the two countries maintain “excellent” relations in trade and educational and cultural exchanges.

Finally, Assad backtracked somewhat by flying to Brazil and then Argentina, where Presidents Luiz Lula da Silva and Cristina Kirchner are warmly disposed toward the red regimes in Cuba and Venezuela. While visiting Brasilia, Assad commended Lula’s communist-backed government for its participation with Turkey in negotiating international acceptance of Iran’s “civilian” nuclear power program. Lula visited Syria in 2003. While visiting Buenos Aires, Assad and Kirchner promised to support the other’s country in international forums, specifically Syria’s claim on the Golan Heights and Argentina’s claim on the Falkland Islands.

>Communist Bloc Military Updates: Russia starts large-scale war game in Siberia, Far East; PRC stages live-fire naval drill in E. China Sea

>This week the Moscow-Beijing Axis is staging two large-scale military maneuvers in northeast Asia. Between June 29 and July 8, the Russian Armed Forces will carry out Vostok (East) 2010, a counterpart to last September’s Russian-Belarusian war game Zapad (West) 2009, which simulated a nuclear attack against Poland. Under the command of General Nikolai Makarov, Chief of the Russian General Staff, tens of thousands of troops, Su-24M mid-range bombers, Su-34 fighter-bombers, and Pacific Fleet warships will conduct anti-aircraft drills, parachute drops, and marine landings. The Black Sea Fleet’s missile cruiser Moskva and the Northern Fleet’s nuclear-powered Peter the Great missile cruiser will join the war game.

Army units, explains state-run Xinhua, will collaborate with emergency brigades and divisions of the Civil Defense and Emergency Situations Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Federal Border Service, which is under the control of the Federal Security Service (FSB/KGB), and “other militarized units.” In preparation for Vostok 2010, Voice of Russia reported on June 23 that Su-34 fighter-bombers successfully accomplished a non-stop 6,000-kilometre test flight, complete with aerial re-fueling, from the Moscow region to Khabarovsk, in the Russian Far East.

General Marakov explained the purpose behind Vostok 2010: “The task of the war game is to guard Russia’s sea borders, prevent poaching, and counter piracy.” Prevent poaching? With tens of thousands of troops and two missile cruisers? Sure, comrade, whatever you say. I can’t imagine any poacher wanting to bag a Siberian tiger in the face of that scale of firepower. During the 1980s Makarov was a battalion commander in the Soviet Group of Forces in the German Democratic Republic, which merged with the Federal Republic of Germany 20 years ago. Incidentally, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was posted as a KGB agent to East Germany during the same period.

Intriguingly, Ukrainian Defense Minister Mikhail Yezhel was invited to observe Vostok 2010. Earlier this year, pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovich won the Ukrainian presidential election, pledging to reverse the pro-Western orientation of predecessor Viktor Yushchenko. Ukraine is not presently a member of the post-Soviet Collective Security Treaty Organization. However, during a post-election visit to Kiev, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged “ex”-CPSU cadre Yanukovich to lead Ukraine into the military alliance. Within hours of Yanukovich’s victory the Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia and Ukraine would hold joint air force drills by year’s end.

In the same region of the world, that is, near the heavily armed flashpoint known as the Korean Peninsula, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will stage a live-fire exercise in the East China Sea between June 30 and July 5. According to Hong Kong’s Ming Pao daily, the exercise, which will take place 700 kilometres south of the Republic of Korea, is supposed to send a political message to South Korea and the USA, which intend to shortly hold a joint naval drill in the same body of water. Although it is an annual event, the PLAN drill was bumped ahead 10 days this year. As of June 24 the People’s Republic of China has banned commercial ships from entering the waters where its warships will be operating. The US Navy intends to send the 97,000-ton-class carrier USS George Washington to the Korean Peninsula.

With its usual histrionics, the propaganda arm of North Korea’s communist regime, Minju Josun, railed against the planned US-South Korean military exercise: “It is as clear as day that a small accident that might occur during the joint military exercise would easily spread to an armed clash and, eventually, to an all-out war. If the US imperialists, gripped by their pipe dream of invading the North, ignite a new war on the Korean peninsula, our military and the people will wipe out not only the invaders, but their strongholds as well and achieve a final triumph.” Bring it on, Kimmy. Talk is cheap.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea denies that its submarines torpedoed the South Korean warship Cheonan on March 26. Unimpressed, in mid-June South Korean Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Kim Sung-chan and US 7th Fleet commander Vice Admiral John Bird announced that the two navies intend to “forger closer cooperation” in monitoring and countering the movements of North Korean subs.

Together Russia, Red China and their Central Asian allies in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have carried out four combined military drills: Peace Mission 2005, Peace Mission 2007, Norak Anti-Terror 2009, and Peace Mission 2009. This August the two communist superpowers will hold Peace Mission 2010 in Kazakhstan. During the bogus Sino-Soviet split of the Cold War, cooperation between Moscow and Beijing was not only unthinkable, but also would have forced NATO to the edge of its seat. In 1984, though, KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn accurately predicted that after the Soviet Union feigned its demise, the Russians would establish an open strategic partnership with the Chinese Communists, or “one clenched fist,” which would be used to crush the capitalist nations. This came to pass in 2001.

The Hunt for Red October: Medvedev Inaugurates First Graney-Class Attack Submarine, Severodvinsk Comparable to US Navy’s Virginia-Class Subs

Since the early 1990s, after the disingenuous collapse of Soviet communism, Russia has joined minor military maneuvers with various NATO states under the Partnership for Peace program. By promoting superficial cooperation with NATO, the Soviet strategists have effectively erased the image of Russia as the West’s chief enemy.

For example, in early June, the Barents Observer reported that the Russian anti-submarine destroyer Severomorsk arrived at Norway’s main naval base, Haakonsvern, near Bergen, to hold the first joint Russian-Norwegian military exercise since 1994. The drill was known as Pomor 2010. The Russian warship was accompanied by one Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft, Su-33 fighter jets, and Ka-27 rescue helicopters. The Norwegian military contributed the Otto Sverdrup frigate, KV Nordkapp coast guard vessel, one Orion maritime surveillance aircraft, F-16 fighter jets, and Lynx helicopters.

After holding joint live-fire drills with the Russian Navy, General Bernt Brovold, Commander of Norway’s National Joint Headquarters, travelled to Severomorsk, Russia, where he conferred with Admiral Nikolai Maksimo, head of the Northern Fleet, the Russian Navy’s most powerful. This is, in fact, an annual meeting between Russia and Norway’s top brass.

The Moscow Leninists are also entering negotiations with NATO countries to purchase Western military technology to fast-track the modernization of the Russian Armed Forces. For example, state-run Novosti reports that Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport has formally begun contract talks with the French government to purchase one Mistral-class helicopter carrier and build three under license with French naval shipbuilder DCNS. The Mistral is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, 70 armored vehicles including 13 main battle tanks, and 450 personnel.

Purchasing armament from careless NATO states is only one way the Russian Navy is modernizing its fleet. Producing a new generation of nuclear-powered attack/missile submarines is top priority for the Soviet strategists. On June 15 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev travelled to Arctic Russia’s Sevmash shipyard, where he officially inaugurated the first Graney-class submarine, Severodvinsk, named after the nearby city. The Severodvinsk, which will enter service in 2011, can launch 24 long-range cruise missiles and attack enemy subs, surface warships, and land-based targets. This sub was 17 years in the making.

Last February Russia unveiled its new fifth-generation fighter jet, dubbed the PAKFA T-50, during a maiden flight near the plane’s design plant in the Far Eastern city of Komsomolsk. The Kremlin plans to begin mass production of its stealth fighter in 2015, with some units produced in collaboration with strategic partner India. The Russians are not hiding the fact that the Sukhoi T-50 was built to rival the only other stealth fighter in the world, the US Air Force’s F-22 Raptor, whose production was halted last year due to Obama Admin budget cuts.

On June17 Russia’s KGB-communist dictator, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, climbed into the cockpit of the T-50 prototype after watching a test flight of the plane near Moscow. “This machine will be superior to our main competitor, the F-22, in terms of maneuverability, weaponry and range,” Putin boasted, adding: “It will cost up to three times less than similar aircraft in the West and can remain in service for 30 to 35 years with upgrades.”

Finally, SatNews Daily has published photos of the Russian Federal Space Agency’s launch pad and mobile gantry at Kourou, French Guiana. The Russian spaceport has entered its “final phase” of construction, reports SatNews:

The gantry is one of the most visible differences at the spaceport’s launch infrastructure from the long-operating Soyuz facilities at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and Plesetsk Cosomdrome in northern Russia. It allows payloads to be installed on the launcher in the vertical position, as is performed with Ariane 5 and many other Western launch vehicles, compared to the traditional horizontal integration performed with Russian launchers.

Originally slated for April, the first lift-off of a Russian Soyuz rocket from South America will take place by December 2010, announced the Kremlin’s top space officials during a recent inspection of the spaceport.

>USA File: FBI intercepts coded message from Moscow, busts 10 deep-cover Russian SVR agents, ring leader escapes; 4 defendants stole Canadian IDs

>– FBI Probe Sheds Light on Soviet Strategic Deception as Former FSB Chief Insinuates US Right Concocted Spy Scandal to Discredit Obama

– Russian Spies Possibly Infiltrated USA Before Collapse of Soviet Union, Just as FBI Turncoat Robert Hanssen Began His Career of Treason in 1979 until Arrested in 2001

On June 22 the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Russian missile cruiser Varyag, the flagship of the Pacific Fleet, docked on the Embarcadero after a two-week voyage from Vladivostok. The arrival of the Russian Navy in San Francisco was a gesture of post-Cold War friendship, as well as a commemoration of the occasion when Czar Alexander II sent Russian warships to San Francisco and New York in 1863 during the US Civil War, in a show of support for the Union. The Varyag headed for home on June 25, after Rear Admiral Vladimir Kostanov issued some obligatory platitudes regarding international cooperation against piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

Over the weekend, too, Dmitry Medvedev and his US counterpart Barack Hussein Obama, whom the Russian president addressed as “comrade” last year, met in Washington on the sidelines of the G-8 Summit in Canada, to “reset” relations between Russia and the USA. Barely hours after the two leaders flew to Toronto, however, the real nature of Russia’s “friendship” with the USA was made manifest when the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the arrest of 11 secret agents in the employ of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), which evolved from the foreign intelligence directorate of the Soviet KGB.

Pictured above: Five Russian spy suspects in New York court room.

Four of the accused Russian nationals had stolen Canadian identities, including that of Donald Howard Heathfield, an infant who died in the 1960s. In 2006 the Canadian Security Intelligence Service accused a Russian agent calling himself Paul William Hampel of using a fake Ontario birth certificate to obtain passports. Coincidentally, last week Canada’s spy boss revealed in an interview with state-run television that two provincial governments and a number of municipal politicians in British Columbia are “under the control of foreign governments.” Upon further questioning, it became apparent that Red China was one of those foreign governments.

The Russian national who coordinated the spy ring had assumed the identity of Christopher Metsos, a Canadian. “Mr. Metsos” travelled to the USA, where he would provide his agents with money and instructions. The spy who claimed to be Heathfield was married to “Tracey Lee Ann Foley,” another spy who purported to be a naturalized US citizen born in Canada. Yet another purported Canadian, Patricia Mills, was one of a pair of spies living as a married couple in New Jersey. Mills and her “husband” are reported to have dug up a bag buried by Mr. Metsos and containing tens of thousands of dollars to fund the operation. The mysterious “Mr. Metsos” remains at large, while the other 10 were arrested in raids in Boston, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia.

FBI counter-intelligence agents specifically exposed the cover of “Richard” and “Cynthia Murphy” by intercepting a coded message sent from SVR headquarters in Moscow to the defendants. The deciphered message from Moscow stated: “You were sent to the USA for a long-term service trip. Your education, bank accounts, car, house, etc.—all of these serve one goal: fulfill your main mission, i.e., to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in the USA and send intels to C[enter].” A handful of intercepted messages included in the court filings reveal that the agents were to obtain information on a new generation of top-secret nuclear warheads, and attempt to learn US arms control negotiating positions.

According to FBI court files the SVR agents were “carefully selected Russians trained in foreign languages; agent-to-agent communications, including the use of brush-passes; short-wave radio operation and invisible writing; the use of codes and ciphers, including the use of encrypted Morse code messages; the creation and use of a cover profession; counter-surveillance measures.” In addition to short-wave radio, the agents communicated with SVR headquarters via steganography, or secret data in an image that can be posted on a publicly available website but is undetectable to the untrained, naked eye. It is unclear, however, as to whether Vladimir Putin’s spies actually stole any secrets of any importance.

Significantly, the FBI contends that some members of the spy ring had been operating for as long as 20 years–placing their insertion into the USA a year or more before the “collapse” of the Soviet Union. In this case, their situation is similar to that of former FBI agent Robert Hanssen, who was convicted in 2001 of spying for Russia, even though he began sending classified government information to Moscow in the mid-1980s. In spite of the stage-managed fall of Soviet communism, the Kremlin still expected Hanssen to submit information to his KGB handlers.

Moscow was clearly irritated by the FBI announcement and its timing with the G-8 summit, but refused to make any admission. “The choice of timing was particularly graceful,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded facetiously. “I hope the US will explain what they are talking about.” There has been no denial from the Russian government that those arrested were working for Moscow, but Mikhail Margelov, head of the State Duma International Relations Committee, obfuscated: “Very contradictory information is coming out, and no conclusions can be drawn from it.”

Nikolai Kovalyov, a former director of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), attributed the spy scandal to certain political circles in the USA who are opposed to President Obama’s policy of “resetting” US-Russian relations.” In other words, Comrade Kovalyov is hinting that the US Right is “wishing” the Soviet Union and the Cold War back into existence. Kovalyov insinuated:

I think that certain ‘technicians’ are trying to infect the U.S. president’s ‘reset’ program with some destructive virus. Certainly, it cannot be a simple coincidence that this group of ‘exposed Russian spies’ was arrested immediately after the visit of President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev to the U.S. This scandal will deliver a serious blow primarily to the positions of President Obama himself.

He then poured water over the exposure of the Russian spy ring:

A situation where illegal agents launder money, use fake documents and keep their money in a glass jar buried underground is total nonsense and a cheap detective story. There are thousands of safe means to transfer money. I would like to confirm that the people exposed in the U.S. are not Russian diplomats or even ordinary Russian citizens. They are citizens of the U.S.

Kovalyov presently heads the Duma’s veterans committee.

>Latin America File: Cancun mayor, wife employ ex-Cuban security, military figures; PRD candidate Sanchez smuggled US-bound Cubans, Chinese, Russians

>– Long-Standing Gentleman’s Agreement between Mexico City and Havana Permitted Cuban Intelligence to Openly Operate out of Embassy, Target US Interests

– Cuba’s Continuing Role in Red Cocaine Plot Exposed: “Ex”-FAR Soldier on Cancun Mayor’s Payroll Assassinated Resort City’s Counter-Narcotics Chief in 2009

Students of international communism have long known of Cuba’s large intelligence-gathering hub in Mexico City, facilitated by a long-standing gentleman’s agreement between the Mexican and Cuban governments. “Prior to [President Vicente] Fox,” the Miami Herald reports, “the two nations had a gentleman’s agreement that Havana intelligence could operate in Mexico, largely against U.S. targets, as long as Havana did not meddle in Mexico’s internal affairs. But after one particularly strong clash in 2004, Mexico quietly expelled Cuba’s top intelligence man in Mexico City.” Although Cuba’s spy chief in Mexico was deported, the spying continues.

In May 2010 Gregorio Sánchez (pictured above), a former mayor of Cancún and disgraced gubernatorial candidate, was arrested on charges of laundering bribes he allegedly received for protecting drug cartels in the Caribbean resort, a key arrival point for illicit drugs flowing from South America to the USA. El Financiero journalist Raymundo Riva Palacio notes the geopolitical strategic significance of Sanchez’s arrest: “The case opened a surprise window — Cuban intelligence’s penetration of Cancún. Cuba has long maintained a large intelligence operation in Mexico City. But the Cancún presence is new, and therefore worrisome.” Sanchez is also under investigation for allegations that include smuggling US-bound Cubans, Chinese and Russians into Mexico and eavesdropping on rival politicians and journalists.

Sánchez’s Cuban-born wife, Niurka Sáliva, protests that the charges are false and were fabricated to sink his run for the governorship of the state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located. His political coalition, headed by the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), has in fact replaced him as its candidate in the July 4 state election. In 2008 Sanchez was elected mayor of the Benito Juarez municipality, which includes Cancún. The PRD, which contains various communist factions, is the left-most of Mexico’s three major parties. The others are President Felipe Calderon’s center-right National Action Party (PAN) and the mildly center-left Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which previously controlled the Mexican presidency between 1930 and 2000.

During his short stint as Cancun mayor, Sanchez and spouse Saliva cultivated murky connections with Cuba’s military and Intelligence Directorate (DI). Indeed, Sanchez retained about 150 Cubans on the municipal payroll, including 80 in a social services agency headed by Sáliva when she was Cancún’s first lady. Acting Mayor Latifa Muza told reporters she was unable to confirm exactly how many Cubans were on the payroll but added, “They are a lot … that much is evident.’”

Mexican authorities opened a file on Sánchez in 2009, when gunmen assassinated retired army General Mauro Enrique Tello Quiñones, one month after federal authorities sent him to Cancun to crack down on drug trafficking on the Yucatan Peninsula. Arrested in the general’s murder was Boris del Valle, a Cuban who earned US$3,330 per month on Sánchez’s payroll as a “security advisor.” Mexican court records show del Valle served in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba (FAR) from 1975 to 1991. Del Valle is a nephew of Sergio del Valle, who served as Cuba’s interior minister from 1968 to 1979 and as health minister from 1979 to 1986. Del Valle’s uncle died in 2007.

The assassination of an important Mexican counter-narcotics chief by an “ex”-FAR soldier certainly goes some distance to prove Cuban and Communist Bloc complicity in the narco-subversion of the West. “The Castro government,” explains the Miami Herald, “regularly trusts Cubans with security experience to leave the country, establish businesses abroad and remain loyal to the revolution.” Terrorism and security expert Joseph Douglass exposed the Soviet Union’s role in the international drug trade 20 years ago in Red Cocaine: The Drugging of the West. The Russian Mafia, which is also well-entrenched in Cancun, supplies Mexico’s powerful drug cartels with a sizable chunk of its impressive firepower.

Niurka boasts even more direct links to the Castro regime. Her father, José Angel Sáliva, is a retired colonel in Cuba’s Interior Ministry (MININT) who held several low-profile administrative posts, but is known to be close to Cuban President Raúl Castro and to rub elbows with the island’s communist hierarchs. Residing in Quintana Roo, as well, are Niurka’s half-brothers: Javier Molina, described by Mexican authorities as a former captain or major in MININT’s domestic State Security agency; and Alfredo Molina, a Cuban engineer who became a Mexican citizen.

In April 2010, in a related story, federal investigators raiding a Cancún home found a sophisticated eavesdropping center headed by Manuel Vera Salinas, a former Mexican military officer also listed in municipal payrolls as another Sánchez “security advisor.” Salinas has disappeared, but investigators believe Boris del Valle was also involved in the spying center, which maintained dossiers on politicians and reporters, including photos and activity logs. Cesar Muñoz, news director of Cancun’s Novedades newspaper, claims he was one of the journalists Sanchez’s henchmen targeted.

Cancun is not only a key arrival point for illicit drugs flowing from South America to the USA, but also a key arrival point for Cuban migrants heading to the US-Mexico border. The Cuban presence here surged as a direct result of Sánchez’s personal links to the communist regime. He made frequent trips to Havana, where he met and married Sáliva, until she moved to Cancún in 2004. Four years later, after his election, Sánchez signed a “cultural exchange” agreement with Havana that allowed his municipality and private Cancún firms to contract Cuban artists, academics, technicians, and others to work at the famous resort. Today, more than 6,000 Cubans are registered residents of Quintana Roo.

Palacio and other Mexican security analysts are puzzled by the large Cuban intelligence presence in Cancun, considering the well-entrenched spy base in Mexico City. They speculate, though, that long-standing business and cultural relations link Cancun and Cuba, another resort destination 140 miles to the east. In any event, Sánchez is not the first Quintana Roo official with strong links to Cuba. Mario Villanueva, governor of the state in the 1990s, was extradited to the USA on May 8 to face charges he accepted US$500,000 bribes for each large drug shipment passing through his turf, allegedly 200 tons in all. Villanueva was a close friend of Cuban Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina, fired in 1999 after he admitted accepting US$25,000 from the Mexican governor to remodel the ministry’s offices in Havana.

>Communism with Canadian Characteristics: Ottawa’s spy boss risks rep ahead of G8/G20 summits, Hu arrival: politicians “under control of foreign govs"

>– Great Red North: Prime Minister Jean Chretien Quashed RCMP’s 1997 “Sidewinder Report” Exposing Communist China’s Infiltration of Canada’s Political Parties; Situation Still Festering 13 Years Later

On Tuesday, Ottawa’s spymaster, Richard Fadden, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, risked his career by declaring in an interview with state-run television that cabinet ministers in two provinces and municipal politicians in British Columbia are “under the control of foreign governments.” Fadden did not specify the two provincial governments. However, B.C. and Alberta, Canada’s two westernmost provinces, have aggressively pursued trade relations with Red China. In his comments to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Fadden stated:

These politicians haven’t hidden their ties to foreign governments, and recently they’ve been shifting their policy decisions to reflect those relationships. I have discussed this with Canada’s Privy Council, how best to tell those provincial governments, that they may have been comprised. There is no evidence that any federal politicians have been infiltrated.

A number of countries take the view that if they can develop influence with people relatively early in their careers they’ll follow them through. Before you know it, a country’s providing them with money, some sort of covert guidance.

Fadden declined to name the elected officials or hostile countries involved, but when probed further whether the People’s Republic of China was complicit, the CSIS director acknowledged that recent media reports on the PRC’s economic espionage in Canada were not “entirely incorrect.” The CBC report added that “at least five countries, including China and Middle Eastern countries, are recruiting political prospects in universities.” The candor of Canada’s state-run broadcaster should alert inhabitants of the Great White North to the fact that agents of international communism and Islamic terrorism are seeking recruits at Canadian universities but, in the end, it will probably not.

Fadden’s unexpected bombshell provoked confused, angry responses from politicians and political pundits. Wesley Wark, who teaches history at the University of Toronto, insisted that Fadden’s revelations were an attempt by the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to deflect criticism concerning the C$1 billion security budget for the G8 and G20 summits, slated to take place this weekend in Huntsville, Ontario and Toronto, respectively. Wark protested:

What on Earth is the CSIS director doing making this public? Why is he coming forward with this information? I think having aired the allegation CSIS [officials’] feet are going to be held to the fire to explain exactly what they mean and why they chose to make this allegation public— particularly in the context of the timing of it on the eve of the G8 and G20—when there has been a lot of concerns about the security budget. Is this an effort to steer Canadians’ attention away from the more pressing security issues?

If Harper goaded Fadden into dropping this bombshell along the scenario envisioned by Wark, then the prime minister’s spokesman Dimitri Soudas offered the spymaster little in the way of “solace or protection.” Soudas asserted the Prime Minister’s Office had “no knowledge of these matters,” even though Fadden admitted that he discussed this issue with the Privy Council, which includes Harper.

In either event, recognizing that his own cabinet ministers were the likely target of Fadden’s assertions, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell reacted angrily:

He’s provided neither the head of our public service, nor me, nor our solicitor general, nor our attorney general with any evidence of this whatsoever. Candidly, I think this really was not just unprecedented, but it is incredibly unprofessional, and I think it calls into question how this organization [CSIS] is working. We have to hear what justification there are for these kinds of doubts and aspersions being cast on people who are trying to serve the public. If there is direct evidence, if someone is under the influence of a foreign government, [then] that should be dealt with. Canadians deserve a complete, a thorough and a substantial explanation of those comments.

Scott Watson, an international security expert at the University of Victoria, demanded that Fadden provide evidence of his foreign influence allegations: “It’s the nature of [CSIS’s] work to not do it in public, but him raising this in public, then I think he brought it on himself, that he needs to provide public evidence of his claims.”

In the immediate wake of the CSIS insinuations that provincial and municipal politicians in Canada are in the backpocket of Beijing, Chinese President Hu Jintao (pictured above) arrived in Canada yesterday for a state visit that will include attendance at the G20 summit. For his part, Canada’s Conservative prime minister made his first visit to the PRC in late 2009, after nearly four years in office, during which stint he took Beijing to task for its deplorable human rights record. This weekend, energy is expected to be a key topic of discussion for Harper and Hu, since the PRC’s “market socialist” economy is a voracious consumer of Alberta coal.

The Chinese government has also invested in Alberta’s oil and gas sector, especially in the tar sand fields near the bustling boom city of Fort McMurray. Since Harper’s hometown is Calgary, in southern Alberta, his ability to aggressively pursue human rights issues with Communist China is seriously compromised.

This is not the first time that Canadian intelligence officials have identified Red China as a source of political and economic subversion. In June 1997 a secret Joint Review Committee co-chaired by CSIS and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police released a report titled “Chinese Intelligence Services and Triads Financial Links in Canada,” otherwise known as Sidewinder.

“In May 1996,” a copy of Sidewinder, published at Jeff Nyquist’s website, explains its own origins, “a joint project was initiated by the RCMP Criminal Analysis Branch and the CSIS Analysis and Production Branch to assess the extent of the threat posed by the acquisition and control of Canadian companies by members or associates of triads with affiliations to the Chinese Intelligence Services.” The report’s foreword continues: “At the moment, we estimate that over 200 Canadian companies are under the direct or indirect control of China. Although it was impossible to do all the research within the parameters initially given; however, sufficient details have been found to reveal the threat. It should be reiterated that this report presents concrete facts, not just ideas or speculation.”

In October 1999, then CSIS director Barry Denofsky ordered the destruction of all copies of Sidewinder and all other material associated with the file, such as emails, drafts, and notes. Obviously, not all copies were destroyed. Nevertheless, disturbed by the Liberal government’s suppression of the report, RCMP Corporal Robert Read fought to have the investigation reopened, appealing for help from higher-ups in the RCMP, Canada’s Public Complaints Commission, the federal auditor general, and, finally, the media in the form of Vancouver Province news editor Fabian Dawson. In response, the RCMP dismissed Read from his position.

The prime minister of Canada at the time was Jean Chretien who, not surprisingly, had cultivated close business ties with Beijing’s communist rulers in the late 1980s. In 2003 investigative reporter Ann Jane Gray uncovered these sordid linkages between Canada’s Liberal Party elite and Red Chinese frontmen. Gray’s findings are published at the Canadian website PrimeTimeCrime:

Jean Chretien’s employment by Gordon Capital from 1986-1990 was his first public association with individuals identified by the Sidewinder Report as a threat to Canada’s public security. Chretien’s position as an advisor was a lucrative one and left him a wealthy man. Chretien’s ties to Gordon Capital continue to this day, in the person of Marc Fung, son of Gordon Capital’s former vice-president during Chretien’s tenure, Robert Fung. Marc Fung travelled with the federal Liberals on Team Canada trips to Asia and was, as of May 2002, an aide in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Gordon Capital is one of the financial companies used in the Sidewinder Report as a case study on the links between China, Hong Kong billionaires and Canadian financial institutions that are “clearly worrying for Canada’s national security”. The RCMP’s concern arose over Li Ka-Shing, the father of the owner of the company, Richard Li.

Li Ka-Shing is a Hong Kong billionaire who, during the 1970s, was recruited by the Communist Party of China to teach capitalism to the ruling class. American defence departments have long known that Li’s business empire is a military and intelligence arm of China. Al Santoli, a national security” advisor to U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, has called Li a “stalker for the PRC (China) whose “close ties to the People’s Liberation Army intelligence (arm) are well known”.

In 1999 the Chinese Communists appointed Chretien’s son-in-law, Andre Desmarais, as a director of CITIC Pacific, a subsidiary of China International Trust Investment Company. The three founders of CITIC Pacific’s parent company, CITIC–Li Ka-Shing, Henry Fok, and Robert Kwok–are all suspected of ties to the People’s Liberation Army, Triad gangs, and the PRC’s past leader Deng Xiaoping. Conversely, Power Corporation, which is owned by Paul Desmarais, Andres’ father, boasts a portfolio of investments in Red China through its Hong Kong subsidiary, Power Pacific Corporation.

A direct quote from Sidewinder reveals: “Significant portions of some large Canadian urban centres are also owned by Chinese entrepreneurs. For example, it is estimated that Li Ka-shing owns with his son [Richard Li] at least one sixth to one third of downtown Vancouver.” Between 1987 and 1997, when Hong Kong’s status as a British crown colony ended and the city became a Special Administrative Region in Red China, nearly 500,000 Hong Kong Chinese had immigrated to Canada. Among these genuine immigrants, reported Sidewinder, were Triads who had already become effective tools of intelligence collection and subversion for the Communist Party of China.

Although the Chinese Communists no doubt view Canada as a “bourgeois” nation and, thus, part of the enemy camp, it should be obvious that the USA is Beijing’s main target. Canada serves as a useful base of operations to subvert the US political and economic system.

>Latin America File: Chavez funding Mexican guerrillas; son of former EPR hostage: “Huge international interest to change Mexico into communist state"

>– Anonymous US Military Source: Cuban Agents, FARC Guerrillas Have Infiltrated Mexico’s Epristas

– Owner of Venezuela’s Last Opposition TV Station Flees Country, Joins Globovision Director, Ex-Banker in Exile

– Ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela Organizes “Election Patrols” Ahead of September Ballot

– Nicaragua’s Ortega Rolls out “Red Carpet” for FARC Fugitive, Follows Asylum for Four Other FARC “Groupies” in 2008

Communism, we are told, is still dead in Russia and Eastern Europe. However, over in our neck of the woods—the Americas—the communist-infiltrated Democratic Party controls all three branches of the US government, while guerrillas, drug operatives, and the “ex”-KGB types who run the Russian Mafia are working hand in glove to destabilize Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s “bourgeois, neo-liberal” regime.

A June 1, 2010 article published in both the San Francisco Examiner and Washington Examiner reports that Venezuela’s self-avowed communist president, Hugo Chavez, is funding Mexico’s Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), which first announced its presence to the world in 1996. For his part, former paratrooper and Castro disciple Chavez tried to seized power twice in 1992 but, after a short prison sentence, won Venezuela’s 1998 presidential election. Thereafter, he began using PDVSA revenues and his regime’s take from the region’s cocaine trade to finance leftist parties and guerrilla armies throughout Central and South America.

This is not the first time we have blogged about the nexus between Chavez and Mexico’s Marxist insurgents. Over the past decade, Venezuela has effectively replaced Cuba as the Western Hemisphere’s main hub for exporting communist revolution.

Journalist Sara Carter quotes an anonymous Mexican official as saying: “The Ejercito Popular Revolucionario (EPR) is a terrorist organization bent on destabilizing Mexico. Splinters of the group are also adding to the problem.” Carter also quotes a US official as saying: “Chavez has been funding groups like these in Mexico and throughout Latin America. These groups are nothing more than terrorist organizations and members have connected to other narco-trafficking organizations in Mexico, creating a very dangerous matrix.”

A US military official observes: “EPR has members that are former Cuban agents, Colombians, as well as others with an agenda to see a shift to the left in Mexico.” In referring to “Colombians,” this source is presumably implying that guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are fighting side by side with the Epristas.

According to all of these officials, EPR receives funding not only from the Venezuelan government, but also Mexico’s powerful drug cartels.

The EPR claimed responsibility for the 2007 bombings of the state-owned Pemex oil pipelines, along with several other bombing attempts of a bank and Sears department stores in cities throughout Mexico. Mexico’s intelligence services, according to Carter, have a “poor track record” of predicting the group’s operations.

Although the Epristas disavow kidnapping former presidential candidate Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, the guerrillas, in collaboration with narco-mercenaries, are suspected of perpetrating the disappearance. Fernandez is a member of the ruling conservative National Action Party (PAN) and a personal friend of President Calderon. On May 14, 2010 Fernandez’s vehicle was found near his ranch in the central state of Queretaro. Mexican officials say they detected signs of a struggle.

“His kidnappers are snubbing both the Mexican and U.S. government–showing both nations that it is Mexico’s criminal enterprise that is in charge,” commented Eduardo Garcia Valseca, the son of a Mexican newspaper magnate who was kidnapped by Epristas in 2008 and held for nearly eight months in a box before being ransomed. Valseca believes the similarities between his father’s kidnapping and that of Fernandez are too obvious to overlook. Valesca, who now lives with his family in self-imposed exile, elaborates:

Members of the U.S. administration don’t understand what’s been brewing in Mexico for a while, and this very powerful leftist movement has grown in Mexico. There is huge international interest to change Mexico into a socialist, communist state. When you listen to the narco-terrorists or the EPR, you hear them say how they hate capitalists and pretend to be like Robin Hoods. I lived through their horror. I know their hate.

The Mexican government is ignoring the warning signs and continues to cover up, hiding behind lies.

Attacks on members of Mexico’s politicians and media owners can be seen as a “sign” that Mexico is “slowly losing control from within,” the US officials quoted by Carter insist. In late May 2010 gunmen killed a mayoral candidate running on the PAN ticket in Valle Hermoso, a town near Brownsville, Texas, and an area known for cross-border drug trafficking. “These groups don’t want to see the PAN party succeed, and so with the backing of dictators like Chavez they will continue to try to destabilize Mexico,” commented another anonymous Mexican official who feared for his safety. “They’ve infiltrated our own government.” Next month, 10 Mexican states will prepare for elections, prompting politicians to express concerns about intimidation from “outside criminal forces.”

Meanwhile, in Venezuela the principal owner of the country’s last remaining opposition television station, Globovision, has fled the country, reports the Wall Street Journal on June 17, as Chavez applies more pressure to his opponents ahead of this September’s National Assembly election. Guillermo Zuloaga fled his homeland to an unknown destination after a warrant for his arrest was issued at least two weeks ago. The Chavezista regime accuses Zuloaga of hoarding cars at a family-owned dealership. Such hoarding is illegal in “Bolivarian” Venezuela.

In a telephone call to Globovision, Zuloaga insisted that the government’s accusations against him were trumped up to shut down freedom of expression. In March Zuloaga was briefly arrested for making similar comments. The same month former state governor Oswaldo Alvarez Paz was arrested after accusing Chavez of transforming Venezuela into a haven for drug traffickers.

Globovision director Nelson Mezerhane has also fled the country. Mezerhane doubles as president of the mid-sized Banco Federal, which on June 14 the Chavezista regime seized on charges of not meeting liquidity requirements. “This is part of a political agenda,” Mezerhane protested in an interview, adding: “The president wants to bend Globovision to its will and put it at the service of the state.” Taking to the airwaves, Chavez taunted his opponents: “They are running for some reason. . . . He who hasn’t done anything wrong, doesn’t fear anything.”

Alberto Federico Ravell, a shareholder and former editor in chief at Globovision, was forced to step down from his post earlier his year. Ravell opines: “I don’t think the president wants to shut down the channel. He just wants to strangle it with measures against its owners, tax audits, and other regulatory measures.”

In 2007 Chavez ordered another private broadcaster, RCTV, off the air, refusing to renew its license. Some political analysts believe the Venezuelan president is persecuting his critics in order to distract the population’s attention from serious domestic issues and scandals, such as 30% inflation and thousands of tons of imported food rotting in the country’s main port.

Chavez is anxious to perpetuate “21st century socialism” in his homeland. For this reason, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is ramping up for the September 26 election under the campaign banner “Batalla Bolivar 200,” named after nineteenth-century South American liberation leader Simon Bolivar. In order to secure victory, the PSUV is organizing 36,600 “election patrols” consisting of 50 party members each to “monitor” polling stations and obtain at least 10 voters in every community. The PSUV boasts 7.3 million registered members.

“September 26 must be an admirable day,” Chavez declared on June 12, adding: “The result should be admirable . . . the National Assembly has to continue being revolutionary. We can’t allow a result of less than two thirds of [seats] in the Assembly.” Chavez’s intentions are clear: The PSUV and its allies in the Communist Party of Venezuela will implement every trick in the book to intimidate the opposition and steal a majority in the Venezuelan parliament. By contrast, Venezuela’s disorganized rightist opposition, which boycotted the last National Assembly election in 2005, mustered candidates in only 15 of the 87 electoral circuits.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Nicaragua’s TV Channel 4 reports that Ruben Dario Granda, brother of Rodrigo, “foreign minister” of FARC, and his family arrived in Managua on June 17, after spending nearly two weeks in Nicaragua’s Bogota embassy. Past/present Marxist dictator Daniel Ortega is a long-time supporter of Colombia’s red insurgents. “There are members of the Farc, of its high command, here in Nicaragua today,” claimed Victor Boitano, a former colonel in the Nicaraguan military, to The Times in a May 2010 interview.

Since re-emerging from 16 years of hibernation, the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front has refurbished the 3,000-meter military runway at Punta Huete, originally built with the help of Soviet and Cuban engineers in the 1980s. Panchito Aerodrome is pictured above in a recent photo. Note the new control tower in the image’s upper right. In late 2008 and again earlier this year the Russians have expressed an interest in using the airbase. Earlier this month, the long-dormant Russia-Nicaragua Intergovernmental Commission restored twice-weekly “commercial” flights between Moscow and Managua via Havana.

Thus, it may be only a matter of time before the Kremlin’s Tu-160 supersonic bombers once again touch down in Venezuela, as they did in September 2008, before speeding over the Caribbean Sea to land in Nicaragua. If the world’s largest combat aircraft arrives in Central America, this event will be a “first” for Soviet/Russian strategic aviation both during and after the Cold War.

>Red Dawn Alert: Russia, Nicaragua to reactivate Punta Huete; Soviets built strategic bomber-capable runway in 1987, MiG-21s expected but never arrived

>– Nicaraguan Air Force Commander: Special Military Brigade to Man New Control Tower at Punta Huete

– Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Holds Consultations with Red Regimes in Managua and San Salvador

– Ortega Coddles Alleged FARC Funder as Moskito Indians Occupy Regional Airport, Defy Sandinistas

– Happy Customer Hugo Chavez Orders 18 More Chinese-Built Trainer/Light Attack Jets

Punta Huete, with its new equipment, is ready.
— Brigadier General Jorge Alberto Miranda, Commander of Nicaraguan Air Force, interviewed by La Prensa (Managua), May 21, 2010

In late 2008 we reported on one of Igor Sechin’s official visits to Nicaragua. Sechin is Deputy Prime Minister of Russia but, in an earlier incarnation, was the GRU’s pointman in Latin America, coordinating the supply of arms to the region’s communist insurgents. The GRU refers to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Soviet/Russian Armed Forces. At the time the Nicaraguan media noted that Moscow and Managua were considering the possibility of rehabilitating Punta Huete, a military runway north of Lake Managua that the Soviets and Cubans built between 1982 and 1987. The air base is also known as Panchito Aerodrome.

During the first Sandinista regime, President Daniel Ortega intended to purchase a number of MiG-21 fighter jets from the Soviet Union or Cuba, ostensibly to “export” red revolution throughout the region. In 1984 the White House formally warned the Soviets that it would not permit Moscow to base aircraft in Nicaragua, in particular, maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine planes. In the July 26, 1987 edition of the New York Times Bernard E. Trainor discussed Nicaragua’s importance to Soviet strategic aviation:

Most experts who have followed the construction of Punta Huete say they believe the airfield will be completed but will not be used to its full potential unless Nicaragua and the Soviet Union judge they can do so without unduly provoking the United States. Even so, it is generally believed that Moscow will not try to base tactical aircraft like MiGs there.

More likely, experts say, Punta Huete may be eventually used as a landing and refuelling base for Soviet maritime aircraft. That would make it possible for the Russians to fly long-range reconnaissance and electronic eavesdropping flights along the west coast of Alaska and North America from bases in Soviet Asia.

During 1986-1987 testimony in the Congressional Iran-Contra hearings, US Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North “specifically cited the air base at Punta Huete and two small ports as potentially useful to the Russians as based in the Western Hemisphere.” The ports to which North referred more than two decades ago were probably Corinto on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast and Monkey Point on the Caribbean coast. Two years ago, in connection with Punta Huete, we noted that the Russians are in fact interested in helping Ortega transform Monkey Point into a deep-water port. Incidentally, North briefly re-emerged from retirement in 2006 to campaign against Ortega’s re-election bid. North’s personal website can be found here.

In December 1986 US citizen Sam Nesley Hall was arrested outside the Punta Huete air base and charged with spying. Hall was released the following January after the Nicaraguans deemed him mentally unstable. In 1990, after Ortega lost the presidency, everyone forgot about the Sandinistas and Panchito fell into disrepair.

Meanwhile, Latin America’s guerrillas traded in their machine guns for suit jackets, democratically assuming power in countries like Venezuela (1999), Bolivia (2005), Uruguay (2009), and El Salvador (2009). The USA also changed after the Cold War, especially in terms of threat perceptions. Communism was no longer viewed as the main enemy of freedom, hence Barack Hussein Obama’s election to the presidency in 2008. With the return to open power of the Sandinistas in January 2007 and in view of President Obama’s commitment to strip the USA of its nuclear deterrent, it appears that the time has arrived where Washington will not be “unduly provoked” by the presence of Russian strategic aviation in Central America.

Pictured here: New control tower at Punta Huete.

Last week in Managua the Russia-Nicaragua Intergovernmental Commission convened for the first time in 18 years. Co-chairing the commission for the Nicaraguans and Russians were Deputy Foreign Minister Manuel Coronel Kautz and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Riabkov, respectively. Accompanying Riabkov were 37 high-ranking Russian “civil servants and industrialists.” On the agenda were bilateral relations in the areas of energy production, technology, tourism, transportation, construction, fishing, and education. More ominously, on June 1, 2010 El Nuevo Diario reported:

The Russians are interested in helping the government of Ortega finish the rehabilitation of the airport in the locality of Punta Huete—next to Lake Xolotan, 50 kilometers northeast of Managua—that the Sandinistas began to construct during their first government (1979-1990).

The relations between Nicaragua and Russia were established in 1979 with the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution, which received the economic and political support of Moscow during the Cold War. These relations were suspended between 1990 and 2006, during the right-wing governments of the time, but were started again in 2007 with the return to power of Ortega.

The purpose of Panchito, as publicized by the current Sandinista regime, is to handle aircraft during “emergencies” and “natural disasters,” as well as large aircraft that cannot be adequately serviced at Augusto Sandino International Airport in Managua. This includes commercial aircraft such as Boeing 747s and cargo planes such as the Russian-built AN-124 and US-built C-5 Galaxy.

Not insignificantly, the 3,000-meter runway at Punta Huete is the only landing strip in Central America that can accommodate Soviet/Russian strategic bombers, such as the Tu-160 Blackjack. From Nicaragua, this airborne cruise missile platform can approach the coasts of California and Texas in about 60 minutes and fire its lethal load. Nicaragua’s small, Soviet-equipped air force has never had any requirement for such a large runway.

In the May 21, 2010 edition of Managua’s La Prensa Nicaragua’s air force commander, Brigadier General Jorge Alberto Miranda (pictured here), related the current status of Punta Huete, which boasts a new control tower with modern communications and air navigation systems.

The runway was constructed with military aims, as a place where Russian-built MiG-21 airplanes could land.

President Daniel Ortega was disposed to coordinate the rehabilitation of the airport.

There is a special brigade that can be immediately transferred to the airport’s control tower. These personnel are ready to enter and operate the control tower when necessary. The Nicaraguan Army is able to use contingency equipment there in case of emergencies.

The approach to Punta Huete is safe, whether by land or air. We are speaking of an eight-kilometer land access that can be crossed perfectly, without problems. There is no possibility of flooding in or around the runway. It is for that reason that Punta Huete’s qualifications are very positive. The geographic location of the aerodrome is very suitable.

This runway can operate by day or night following a contingency plan prepared by the army.

After some preparation the runway will be ready to receive aircraft in case Sandino Airport is disqualified. The International Civil Aviation Organization approved of the runway’s rehabilitation.

Punta Huete, with its new equipment, is ready.

Captain Carlos Salazar, director of the Nicaraguan Civil Aeronautical Institute, explained that “We are assuring that the main airport [in Managua] has an effective contingency plan that includes an alternative runway, to avoid any tragic event. Our main objective [at Punta Huete], first of all, is to watch and supervise [all?] air operations in Nicaragua.” Writing for La Prensa, journalist Roberto Morales reveals that the Central American Corporation of Airplane Navigation Services (Cocesna) donated US$5 million to renovate Punta Huete.

Following last week’s meeting of the Russia-Nicaragua Intergovernmental Commission, Moscow extended a US$10 million loan to help Central America’s most impoverished country. Ortega also relies heavily on petrodollars from Venezuelan comrade Hugo Chavez—funnelled through front companies controlled by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas—to re-consolidate his grip on Nicaragua.

Pictured here: In this undated but apparently recent photograph, the runway at Punta Huete appears to be in good shape. The Russians want to help the Sandinistas finish “rehabilitating” this Soviet-built air base.

In a related story, the Sandinista National Liberation Front’s decades-old alliance with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia was once again exposed this week when Managua granted political asylum to Ruben Dario Granda. Ruben is the brother of Rodrigo Granda, who is known as FARC’s “foreign minister.” Ruben was detained by Colombian authorities in April on suspicion of allegedly securing funds for FARC, but released for lack of evidence. He sought refuge in the Nicaraguan embassy in Bogota on May 31. The neo-Sandinista regime previously gave refuge to four survivors of the March 2008 Colombian military raid in Ecuador that killed FARC commander Raul Reyes and 24 others.

While Ortega huddles with his Moscow masters and coddles putative FARC terrorists, the second FSLN regime faces serious domestic challenges to its continuity from the main opposition group, the Constitutionalist Liberal Party, which last month declared a “general rebellion” against Ortega’s government. Nicaragua’s indigenous groups along the Caribbean coast are also defying the Sandinistas, including the Moskito Indians, who nominally seceded from the country last year.

Last Friday, Moskitos allied under the banner of the YATAMA political party occupied an airport in northern Nicaragua, demanding fulfillment of an agreement that indigenous leaders signed with the Sandinistas a week ago. Among other things, Ortega promised to provide the Moskitos with loans, houses, and jobs. YATAMA leader Hector Poveda warned Managua that his followers would occupy other government buildings in Bilwi if the Sandinistas did not fulfill their obligations. The occupation of Rigoberto Cabezas Airport prompted the suspension of flights to the capital. The native Nicaraguans also blocked the road between Minas and Waspan municipalities. During the 1980s the Moskitos joined the US-backed Contras in trying to dislodge the first Sandinista regime. Poveda claims to lead nearly 4,000 former Moskito combatants.

More than a year after peacefully assuming power in El Salvador, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) is deepening relations between the Central American country and Russia. On June 3, fresh from co-chairing the Russia-Nicaragua Intergovernmental Commission, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Riabkov flew to San Salvador (pictured here). There he conferred with counterpart Carlos Castañeda, to analyze the possibility of boosting collaboration in the areas of sports, tourism, science, and technology.

“We have already had many achievements with other Central American and Latin American countries and I am glad to have found such a positive attitude here,” Riabkov told a news conference. For his part, Castañeda announced Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez’s visit to Moscow during the second half of October 2010 to sign several cooperation agreements.

During the 1980s, while the FMLN operated as a guerrilla army, the military-backed center-right governments that ruled El Salvador did not have diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba. This was probably due to the fact that El Salvador’s communist insurgents received ideological, logistical, and weapons support from the Soviets, Cubans, and Nicaraguans. In 1992, after the end of the civil war, El Salvador established diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation, but only via its embassy in Berlin, while Russia’s ambassador in Nicaragua also covered Russian-Salvadoran relations. Now the Salvadorans and Russians are contemplating establishing embassies in the other’s capital.

Last year, after center-left frontman and ex-TV journalist Mauricio Funes was elected president, the FMLN Politburo dispatched the real ruler of El Salvador, Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, to Havana where he consorted with his Cuban mentors. The FMLN’s former battlefield commander, Sanchez Ceren is known as a “doctrinaire Leninist” and, according to more cynical Salvadorans, is only one bullet away from assuming Funes’ position.

Finally, on June 5 Venezuela’s red dictator Hugo Chavez announced that his regime will spend another US$82 million to buy a second shipment of 18 Chinese-made K-8 trainer/light attack jets. Venezuela received an initial shipment of six K-8 planes earlier this year. Chavez also acknowledged that Venezuela plans to buy “large amounts” of appliances from the People’s Republic of China, including refrigerators, washing machines, and television sets. In addition to its commercial relations with Red China, Venezuela has also purchased US$4 billion of Russian military equipment and weapons since Chavez established his strategic partnership with Moscow in 2001.

>Middle East File: Israeli troops board Irish-flagged Free Gaza aid ship, divert to Ashdod; Erdogan denies Hamas terrorist organization

>– Turkish Media Beats War Drum against Israel, Hurriyet Sees Hand of Mossad behind Kurdistan Workers’ Party Terror Attack (source)

According to the June 5 edition of the Times Online, “The Israeli Navy has boarded and seized an Irish-owned aid ship bound for Gaza, just five days after killing nine passengers in a bloody raid on a previous convoy. Israeli vessels surrounded the 1,200-ton MV Rachel Corrie shortly after dawn today as it carried aid towards the Hamas-ruled territory. The ship, which had originally been scheduled to travel with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla earlier this week, ignored four warnings to divert to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod for inspection of its contents.” The 20 passengers offered no resistance.

Yossi Gal, the director of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, explained that if the crew willingly diverted the ship to Ashdod, all cargo with the exception of weapons or weapons components would be transferred to Gaza. The Rachel Corrie is named after a pro-Palestinian US student, crushed to death by a bulldozer in 2003 while protesting IDF house demolitions in Gaza. Meanwhile, Ismail Haniyeh, a top leader of Hamas and de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip, denounced the interception of the Rachel Corrie, declaring: “We are not seeking to fill our [bellies], we are looking to break the Israeli siege on Gaza.”

In spite of previous news reports, Turkish warships do not yet appear to be escorting aid ships en route to the Gaza Strip as there was no confrontation between the Turkish and Israeli navies during the Rachel Corrie interception. However, this possibility should not be ruled out in the future. Israel has ordered the families of its diplomats to leave Turkey in anticipation of a complete severing of ties with Turkey. Although the Turkish government has withdrawn its ambassador from Israel, the Israeli government has merely closed its embassy in Ankara.

Yesterday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who lashed out against Israel over the IDF’s commando raid against the Free Gaza flotilla, denied that Hamas was a terrorist organization. Instead, he effectively views Hamas as a “national liberation” organization. The Turkish media quoted Erdogan as saying: “I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organization. I said the same thing to the United States. I am still of the same opinion. They are Palestinians in resistance, fighting for their own land.” Last Monday at least four Turkish “peace activists” were killed by Israeli soldiers who stormed the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara ferry.

>End Times File: Erdogan denounces Israel for attacking Free Gaza flotilla, Turkish warships reportedly escorting Irish aid ship, Netanyahu defiant

> – Israeli Defense Forces Discover Weapons Cache Aboard Turkish-Flagged Ferry Mavi Marmara, Now Impounded at Port of Ashdod

– Russia and Arab League Condemn IDF Commando Raid against Free Gaza Flotilla (Invasion Force?), United Nations Calls for Easing of Gaza Blockade

– Syrian and Lebanese Presidents Issue Joint Statement Implying Israel’s Actions against “Humanitarian Mission” Will Lead to World War

– Indications Turkey Beefing Up Naval Deployments in Eastern Mediterranean

– Turkish Computer Hackers Disrupt Pro-Likud Party Website, Post Anti-Israel Pics and Slogans

– Hezbollah’s Scud Missile Bases in Syria Provoke Israeli Strike Threat

Israel is a damned, terrorist and murderous country. Long live the Palestinian people!
— Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, televised statement, June 2, 2010

Pictured above: Dagger-wielding Free Gaza “peace activist” aboard Turkish-flagged cruise ship Mavi Marmara. Photo presumably snapped by Israeli soldier.

In a story that has considerable bearing on the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s end-times prophecies and even merits a “RAPTURE ALERT” tag, all of the countries that will invade Israel at the beginning of the tribulation—Russia, Turkey, and the Arab League—have condemned the Jewish state for its May 31 commando operation against the Turkish-flagged Free Gaza flotilla. Syria, which is the subject of a related prophecy concerning the destruction of Damascus, recorded in the book of Isaiah, has also condemned the killing of at least 15 Free Gaza “peace activists.” In response to the Israeli raid, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was barely able to contain his outrage and vowed to end Turkey’s friendship with Israel:

The time has come for the international community to say ‘enough.’ This bloody massacre by Israel on ships that were taking humanitarian aid to Gaza deserves every kind of curse. Nothing will be the same again.

The Israeli raid proves how good they are at killing people. Israel in no way can legitimize this murder. It cannot wash its hands of this blood. We will not turn our back on Palestine, Palestinians, and Gaza. No one should test Turkey’s patience. Turkey’s hostility is as strong as its friendship is valuable.

Addressing the Israeli people, Erdogan continued: “It is damaging your country’s image by conducting banditry and piracy. It is damaging the interests of Israel and your peace and safety. It is the Israeli people who must stop the Israeli government in the first place. Israel cannot ensure its security by drawing the hatred of the entire world.” Turkey has recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv and terminated all defense cooperation programs with Israel.

In the wake of the raid, anti-Israel protests erupted in Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt. A cabal of Turkish computer hackers, 1923 Turk Grup, which specializes in hacking Israeli websites, disrupted the unofficial homepage of the ruling Likud Party by posting anti-Israeli pictures and slogans.

Latin America’s communist leaders were swift to both denounce the Israeli raid against the Free Gaza flotilla and defend the Palestinians. Cuba condemned the IDF military operation as a “criminal attack,” while Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez lashed out against the Israelis: “Israel is a damned, terrorist and murderous country. Long live the Palestinian people!” Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega has severed diplomatic relations with Israel, while Ecuador’s Rafael Correa has recalled his country’s envoy from the Jewish state.

There is some indication that Turkey may be deploying naval assets in the eastern Mediterranean Sea in response to the raid. The independent Iranian news source Hamsayeh reports that Turkish warships are escorting the Irish-flagged MV Rachel Corrie cargo vessel with its Irish and Malaysian “peace activists” to the Gaza Strip. The Irish Central, quoting Turkish Colonel Itzik Turgeman, reports that Israeli military intelligence sabotaged the Rachel Corrie and other Free Gaza aid ships, but refrained from or failed to damage the Turkish-flagged Mavi Mamara cruise ship, which sustained the brunt of last Monday’s IDF raid. Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen warns of serious consequences if the Rachel Corrie’s Irish passengers are harmed.

According to a post at defense-related forum, citing Stratfor, a Turkish patrol ship is presently navigating the waters near the Gaza Strip, but remaining outside Israeli territorial waters. Moreover, a Turkish naval commander, speaking to the Spanish media on June 1, indicated that four frigates that recently arrived in CartagenaTCG Kemalreis, TCG Gaziantep, TCG Turgutreis, and TCG Giresun—will sail immediately for the eastern Mediterranean. “We are following very closely the events and will act accordingly,” stated Mucahit Sislioglu, who commands the task force. Finally, the Bulgarian media reports that Albania’s president Bamir Topi has approved the deployment of Turkish armed forces in his country. A Turkish naval squadron consisting of five warships with 1,125 servicemen are expected to arrive at the Albanian port of Durres on June 2. Bulgarian news agency BTA reported that “the purpose of this visit remains unclear.”

Turkey is a NATO member. Thus, should the Turkish and Israeli navies clash there is the potential that the whole North Atlantic alliance could be pulled into a conflict with Israel, a prospect that would no doubt please both Russia and its Islamic allies, which solidly support the Palestinian Arabs.

Last Sunday the flotilla of six ships, including three flying the Turkish flag, set sail from Cypriot waters to deliver an alleged cargo of food and medicine to the Gaza Strip on behalf of the Turkish government, a radical Islamic organization based in Turkey, Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), and pro-Palestinian groups working under the banner of the Free Gaza movement. Before dawn on Monday, two hundred kilometres from the Gaza Strip, three Israeli naval vessels from Haifa intercepted the Mavi Marmara and its companions. Hundreds of Israeli commandos stormed and boarded the ferry. There, according to the Israeli internal security minister, Yitshak Aharonovitch, special forces encountered violent “peace activists” armed with batons and knives. Some militants grabbed guns from the Israeli soldiers and shot them, seriously wounding two marine commandos. Some soldiers reported the sound of gunfire below deck.

After pacifying the Free Gaza “peace activists,” the Israeli navy escorted the flotilla to the port of Ashdod. There nearly 700 foreign nationals from Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Palestine, Sweden, and the USA received deportation notices. The Israeli government reported that it would continue to detain 50 Free Gaza supporters on suspicion of attempting to smuggle weapons and “large quantities” of cash in to the Palestinian enclave. It also pledged to prevent additional naval convoys from penetrating the blockade. These revelations suggest that the sea-borne “peace activists” were either an invasion force that intended to “liberate” the Palestinians, or provoke Israel into a response that would justify diplomatic and military action against the Jewish state.

After a pre-planned meeting on Monday in Damascus, the presidents of Syria and Lebanon, Bashar al-Assad and Saad Hariri, implied that Israel’s attack on the flotilla could lead to world war. In a joint statement, they declared: “We condemn the heinous crime committed by Israel through the brutal attacks on unarmed civilians on board the Freedom Flotilla. Israel’s violation of basic humanitarian norms and international laws threatens to plunge the Middle East into a war which will not only affect the region.” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged Israel and Egypt to lift the blockade around Gaza Strip. In response to the international condemnation, the two countries indicated that they would temporarily ease the land blockade around the Gaza Strip.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade around Gaza since 2007, when the terrorist organization Hamas seized power in the tiny enclave, which was controlled by Egypt until the Six-Day War in 1967, but became part of the Palestinian National Authority in 1993. The Israeli government denies that Gazans are facing a humanitarian crisis but, instead, maintains that it is permitting adequate supplies of food and medicine to enter Gaza via controlled land routes.

In another story that bodes ill for Israel, The Times of London reported on May 28 that satellite photos, presumably of US or Israeli origin, show that Hezbollah has established Scud missile bases and barracks in Syria, near Damascus. Syria denies Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the bases are operated by Hezbollah. Instead, asserts Damascus, the facilities are for Syrian military use only. At the beginning of April, Kuwait’s Al-Rai newspaper reported that Syria had transferred operational control of the surface-to-surface missiles to the Lebanese political party/guerrilla army. Israel subsequently issued a stern warning that it might attack both Syrian and Lebanese targets in response to a Scud barrage against its territory.

Last month, US Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein asserted that Hezbollah had acquired Scuds and improved the missile’s capabilities. “There are rockets and missiles in Lebanon in greater quantities and levels of sophistication and this point endangers Israel,” Feinstein informed the AFP news agency.

>Red Terror File: FSB chief Bortnikov: "Terrorists" seeking access to nuclear materials across "former" Soviet Union

>In what could be a case of “plausible deniability” ahead of Moscow-orchestrated nuclear terrorism in the West, the chief of Russia’s Federal Security Service issued the following alert today: “We have information which indicates that terrorists are continuing to attempt to get access to nuclear materials (and) biological and chemical components.” Career Chekist Alexander Bortnikov refused to offer additional details, saying only that the terrorists were combing their way across the “former” Soviet Union to locate components for a nuclear device.

>Latin America File: Santos victorious in Colombian election, Ecuador’s “people’s revolution” praises Fidel, Venezuelans face prospect of “Cubazuela”

>– FARC Funder Finds Friends in Nicaragua’s Bogota Embassy, Awaits Decision from Comandante Ortega

– Russian-Nicaraguan Intergovernmental Commission Meets in Managua for First Time in 18 Years, Promotes Revitalized Strategic Partnership

Pictured above: Whole lotta Ladas: Itar-Tass reports that Russia will ship 500 Lada Kalina cars to Nicaragua before the end of July. This decision was announced by the Russian-Nicaraguan Intergovernmental Commission on Wednesday. Future shipments will depend on domestic demand among Nicaraguan motorists.

In Colombia’s presidential election this past Sunday center-right candidate Juan Manuel Santos, representing the ruling Social Party of National Unity, delivered a crushing blow to his center-left Green Party rival, Antanas Mockus. Although a run-off vote will be required on June 20, Colombian bond and currency markets rallied upon learning of Santos’ victory. In the last several weeks before the election, public opinion surveys indicated that Mockus was running neck-and-neck with Santos. However, as it turned out, the former defense minister secured 47 percent of the vote to the mathematician’s 21 percent.

Santos has pledged to continue outgoing President Alvaro Uribe’s pro-business policies and hardline stance against the country’s communist insurgents, which entails a close military-financial relationship with the USA. Addressing supporters in Bogota, Santos declared: “With me Colombians can sleep soundly. We won’t retreat from what has been achieved these past eight years.” Santos is the cousin of the current vice president and belongs to the family that founded Colombia’s largest newspaper, Bogota’s El Tiempo.

In spite of widespread concern that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the smaller National Liberation Army might stage attacks during the presidential poll, only two soldiers were killed in encounters with the rebels on election day. Voter turnout was the largest since 1998.

As head of the defense ministry between 2006 and 2009, Santos approved the military’s March 2008 raid into Ecuador that killed FARC’s No. 2 commander, Raul Reyes. This operation provoked a hostile response from Venezuela’s communist dictator Hugo Chavez and his sidekick Rafael Correa, the socialist president of Ecuador. Both countries deployed troops and tanks to their respective border with Colombia in a week-long showdown that was finally peacefully diffused.

An Ecuadorean judge has demanded Santos’ arrest for this incursion. Ecuador also presently holds the presidency of the Union of South American Nations. These facts could further upset Ecuadorean-Colombian relations, which were restored at a low diplomatic level last November. The election of Uribe’s anointed successor will certainly enrage revolutionary hothead Chavez, who has warned of war between the two countries if Santos is elected. However, the triumph of Colombia’s Uribists in a third consecutive election is part of a wider, promising resurgence of the democratic right in Latin America, including Honduras, Panama, and Chile.

Incidentally, President Correa’s commitment to communizing Ecuador was once again exposed when on May 27 a delegation from Quito arrived in Havana to bestow upon retired red dictator Fidel Castro the Ecuadorean parliament’s highest award. Cuban First Vice President Jose Ramon Machado received the General Eloy Alfaro Delgado Decoration on behalf of Comrade Fidel from the hands of Fernando Cordero Cueva, president of the Ecuadorean parliament. For his part, Cordero Cueva enthused:

The people’s revolution in Ecuador and all the ongoing process of changes and integration that we are experiencing in Latin American could hardly be conceived without Fidel and Cuba. This is his greatest legacy: the merit of a man who taught us to never surrender, to never give up the fight, regardless of how adverse the circumstances or how powerful the enemy might be. This award, small compared to the colossal dimension of this man, is accompanied by an embrace from 14 million Ecuadoreans, from a grateful people that share the same principles and ideas of Cuba.

In response to the Ecuadorean government’s praise for the Cuban Revolution and its instigator, Ricardo Alarcon, President of the Cuban National Assembly, noted that “This award is a clear expression of the friendship and solidarity bonds between both nations.” This “solidarity,” by the way, clearly places Ecuador within the Communist Bloc.

In numerous past posts we have documented the “joined at the head, heart, and hip” relationship between Cuba and Venezuela, an 11-year strategic partnership between two communist states that has evolved into something more than just an alliance. In past bilateral meetings, Cuban dictator Raul Castro has referred to “Venecuba,” while Chavez waxes eloquent about the two countries being “one homeland.” When Venezuela’s National Land Institute took over the ranch of Venezuela’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Diego Arria, he contested the seizure by delivering his title deed to the Cuban embassy, insisting that the Cubans control his country and are “much more organized than the Venezuelan regime.”

Last month Venezuelan brigadier general Antonio Rivero resigned, renounced his personal allegiance to Chavez, and held several well-publicized television interviews that exposed the unholy alliance between the Communist Party of Cuba and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. “Cubans are involved in Venezuelan defense and communications systems to the point that they would know how to run both in a crisis,” he warned, adding:

They’ve crossed a line. They’ve gone beyond what should be permitted and what an alliance should be. If Chavez were to lose elections in 2012 or be forced out of office — like he was during a brief 2002 coup—it’s even feasible the Cubans could become part of a guerrilla force. They know where our weapons are, they know where our command offices are, they know where our vital areas of communications are.

Now Havana and Caracas will be literally attached with an umbilical cord in the form of a submarine communication cable that will extend from Caracas to Santiago de Cuba via Jamaica. “Geocuba specialists are participating in this effort for the exploration of shallow waters, which will use high-tech equipment, ships, and many hours of work in marine research,” announced Waldo Reboredo Arroyo. Waldo is vice president of the Cuban-Venezuelan Telecommunicaciones Gran Caribe Company, formed in 2008.

This past Sunday the home of the chief of Nicaragua’s national police force, Commissioner Aminta Granera, was the target of a drive-by shooting in an exclusive Managua neighbourhood. No one was injured and the number and identity of the gunmen have not been identified, although drug gangs are suspected. In February 2007, the commissioner reported death threats from international criminal cartels because of several drug busts that had taken place in Nicaragua. Police have tightened security around Granera’s residence.

Granera, a former nun and Sandinista guerrilla, has also been the target of criticism for her refusal to take decisive action against supporters of the government of fellow Sandinista, President Daniel Ortega. Since their return to open power in January 2007, FSLN cadres have regularly used homemade mortars against anti-government demonstrators. Granera was one of the founders of the Nicaraguan National Police in 1979, two months after the Sandinista National Liberation Front toppled US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza. In 2008 La Voz del Sandinismo reported that Nicaraguan police would receive training in Russia under the aegis of Moscow’s Interior Ministry.

The Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s oldest and largest drug cartel, employs Nicaragua as a corridor to ship drugs from South America, Nicaraguan officials have acknowledged. At one point, the cartel bought a farm 42 miles north of Managua, where they built a clandestine landing strip to refuel drug planes. The army later dynamited the covert runway. Although the neo-Sandinista regime appears to be cracking down on the international drug trade, it is a well-documented fact that Ortega and his aging comrade, Tomas Borge, then interior minister and now ambassador to Peru, allowed Colombian druglord Pablo Escobar to use Nicaragua as a haven in the 1980s. We suspect that Ortega’s hands are once again covered with “red cocaine.”

In a related story, this Monday Ruben Dario Granda, brother of fugitive FARC “foreign minister” Rodrigo Granda, sought asylum along with his wife and son, at Nicaragua’s embassy in Bogota. Dario Granda will remain there until he receives a decision from President Ortega’s government, which granted asylum to two FARC hangers-on after the Andean Crisis in 2008. In April Dario Granda was arrested by Colombian police on charges of financing FARC, but was released after a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to link him to guerrilla activities.

The Soviet strategists have not overlooked Nicaragua as they re-project their Cold War-era influence south of the US-Mexico border. On Monday the Russian ambassador in Managua announced that “The Russian-Nicaraguan intergovernmental commission will meet Tuesday in the Nicaraguan capital Managua for the first time in 18 years.” Igor Kondrashev elaborated:

The resumption of the commission’s activity testifies to the countries reaching a new level of bilateral ties. The countries have a number of strategic projects that need consideration and coordination, which is impossible without the commission’s work. The projects concern the energy sphere and state of the art technology, health care, transport, fishery and agriculture.

Kondrashev noted that a fourth-generation, wireless information network, installed by Kremlin-owned company Yota last fall, will be launched for commercial operation on July 1. “Nicaragua will be the first country in Latin America to obtain a state of the art telecommunications network,” he intoned.

In February Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, then visiting Managua, announced that Russia and Nicaragua will hold joint military exercises at an unspecified date. Along the same theme, we still await news of the arrival of Russian engineers in Nicaragua to renovate the never-used military runway that the Soviets and Cubans built at Punta Huete in 1987.

>Communist Bloc Military Updates: Medvedev: 30% of weapons to be modernized by 2015; NATO aiding its own demise by licensing arms production to Kremlin

>– Russia’s Civil Defense Czar Hosts Cuban Counterpart at CSTO Emergency Situations Exercise, Cubans Hold Civil Defense Drill Meteoro 2010

We are so far behind the West that it is cheaper to buy technology [abroad] than to invent our own.
— Independent Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer

Pictured above: Road-mobile Topol ICBM rumbles through Red Square during Russia’s Victory Day celebration, on May 9, 2010.

As part of its drive to modernize the Russian military, President Dmitry Medvedev announced on May 24 that the proportion of advanced weaponry used by the country’s various armed services must be 30 percent by 2015. “By 2015 the share of advanced weaponry in permanent readiness units must reach at least 30%,” Medvedev demanded at a meeting on the budget for Russian military and security agencies. He added: “We must make investments in the modernization of the Armed Forces a priority.” The president pointed out that if Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) grows as predicted by three to six percent annually, beginning in 2011, then the Kremlin could allocate a set percentage of GDP every year to finance military modernization.

In compliance with ongoing military reforms, the Russian Armed Forces will be downsized by 2016 to one million personnel, a figure that includes 150,000 officers and about 745,000 soldiers. “The organizational structure of the military will be streamlined to meet the standards of modern warfare,” relates state-run Novosti, “based on mobility and the use of advanced weaponry.”

As independent Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer explains, the only way Russia can quickly modernize its armed forces is to dip into its natural resource-based revenue funds and start licensed production of foreign military equipment. “We are so far behind the West that it is cheaper to buy technology [abroad] than to invent our own,” Felgenhauer admitted. He continued:

The Soviet Union bought tool-making equipment and whole assembly lines in the United States in the 1930s, Peter the Great brought technologies from Holland. Even the Kremlin, as we know, was built by Italians. The turn to licensed production was a logical and necessary move, as Russia has always developed its industry by borrowing technologies from the West.

“According to experts,” Novosti acknowledges in another article, “Russia is lagging 20-30 years behind the West in many areas of technological progress and is attempting to close the gap by purchasing production licenses abroad.” In all honesty, it should be confessed that even Japan, both before and after the Second World War, appropriated Western technologies to compete with its former adversaries.

Ironically and disturbingly, these contracts for the most part will be made with NATO states. For example, beginning in July 2010 Russia will launch the licensed production of French-designed thermal imagers for T-90 main battle tanks in service with the Russian Ground Forces. A manufacturing plant in Vologda, in central Russia, will assembly the thermal imaging cameras. “It is not a simple knock down assembly. We use Russian-made components to assemble the control system. After 2012 we will start using Russian optics and mechanics on these devices,” the Gazeta newspaper quoted the plant’s general director Alexander Korshunov as saying.

Russia is also negotiating the licensed production of Italian Beretta handguns, Israeli aerial spy drones, and French Mistral-class helicopter carriers. On May 24 Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov acknowledged that Moscow has reached the final stage of talks with Paris on the purchase of four such helicopter carriers. “At the moment we are in pre-contract talks on the warships with three states: Spain, the Netherlands and France. We plan to sign a contract for four of these ships,” Serdyukov explained. He elaborated by saying that one vessel will most likely be built in collaboration with French naval shipbuilder DCNS and the other three with the help of Russian shipbuilders. Construction of the fourth vessel will take place entirely in Russia. Each Mistral costs between US$530 to 660 million.

The amphibious assault ships will be deployed with the Russian Navy’s Northern and Pacific Fleets. If Serdyukov is being honest (which is debatable), then these deployments should ease the fears of re-invasion entertained by “former” Soviet republics with coasts along the Baltic and Black Seas.

In order to accommodate its yet-to-be-built amphibious assault ships, explains Russian Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin, Russia will have to build suitable port facilities. “We do not have port infrastructure for aircraft carriers, but we plan to build it,” Popovkin stated, adding: “If we reach an agreement [with France], we’ll do everything, if not, we won’t. Kamov helicopters (Ka-52, Ka-226) will be based on the Mistral ships, if we decide to go ahead with the purchase.”

Popovkin rejects the contention that the Russian Navy has no need for the Mistral: “Russia has at least four islands in the Pacific Ocean which are still disputed with Japan as well as the Kaliningrad exclave surrounded by NATO countries. If these regions come under threat, Mistrals could be used to transfer military forces to the conflict zones.” Incidentally, in order to defend Kaliningrad, one or more Mistrals would have to be deployed with the Baltic Fleet, which contradicts Serdyukov’s assurances above.

On Wednesday Ruslan Pukhov, Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, commented that the future of the Moscow-Paris Mistral deal is “unclear” because “France is unlikely to agree to transferring sensitive technology that Russia could use in potential conflicts with NATO and its allies.” Specifically, Pukhov pointed out that France would never sell the Mistral with its naval tactical data system because “SENIT 9” provides links to NATO data exchange formats. “This system could not be sold because it contains software which allows the control of NATO military forces,” opined Pukhov. “Russia will most likely have to install its own electronic equipment on the Mistral ships.”

Finally, as we suspected when we first reported on the new agreement between Moscow and Kiev to finish building the Slava-class missile cruiser Ukraina, the Russian government may indeed be considering buying back the Soviet-era warship. Novosti urges the Kremlin to take this route:

Most importantly, considering Russia’s serious need for large modern warships, it could actually buy the cruiser Ukraina (and possibly rename it again). A modernized cruiser armed with a modern combat command and control system, a multipurpose shipboard fire-control system and sonar equipment would be among the world’s most powerful and effective warships, if supported by the new-generation corvettes and frigates that are being built for the Russian navy, against any enemy. And if the modernization of the cruiser Ukraina proves a success, it could also be used on the other Project 1164 ships–Moskva, Marshal Ustinov and Varyag.

The Ukraina’s keel was first laid down in 1984 and was 95 percent completed when the Soviet Union collapsed, at which point construction stalled.

Meanwhile, Moscow continued to revitalize its Cold War-era relationship with Cuba on May 21 by hosting Major General Ramon Pardo Guerra, head of Cuba’s Civil Defense Ministry, at a demonstration of security techniques at the Russian city of Noguinsk. Pardo Guerra and his Cuban comrades witnessed exercises that entailed combating toxic disasters, evacuating civilians, rescuing hostages, and neutralizing terrorists. The exercise involved the combined forces of Russia’s Emergency Situations and Interior Ministries, and special troops attached to the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

After the maneuvers, Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s Emergency Situations Minister, held a brief meeting with Pardo Guerra, discussing aspects of cooperation between his agency and Pardo Guerra’s for the period until 2012. This cooperation will entail the preparation of Cuban civil defense “cadres” in the Russian Federation and the opening of a firefighters school in Cuba, assisted by Russian experts. Between June 14 and 18 a Russian delegation will travel to Havana, where they will attend the VIII Congress on Natural Disasters. Incidentally, “ex”-CPSU cadre Shoigu is related by marriage to Oleg Shenin, the mastermind behind the potemkin anti-Gorbachevist coup of August 1991. Shenin died last year.

Between May 21 and 23 Communist Cuba completed the first stage of the Meteoro 2010 drill and will carry out a second stage on June 25 and 26. Meteoro is a national civil defense exercise that aims at improving the people’s readiness to face “the consequences of technological or natural disasters.” The first stage, explained Lieutenant Commander Rolando Alvarez, is dedicated to “reducing vulnerabilities linked to hurricanes, droughts and epidemic-related disasters.” Alvarez added that another objective of the drill is to train military troops to protect the population and economic resources. In June participants in the exercise will learn how to cope with “high intensity earthquakes and seaquakes.”

Civil defense drills in Cuba and any communist country, for that matter, should always be viewed with suspicion since they could portend preemptive strikes against the West.

On May 22 the Cuban media reported that a Russian freighter docked at the port of Cienfuegos had unloaded 75,000 tons of wheat, which is part of a 100,000-ton donation made to the island state. The organ of the Communist Party of Cuba, Granma, enthused that “these free shipments show the solidarity of the Russian Federation to the Cuban people.” At the beginning of the year a Russian freighter with 22,500 tons of wheat unloaded its cargo in Cuba, while a fourth Russian ship is underway to complete the agreement. Moscow made this commitment to Havana in 2008, after Hurricanes Gustav, Ike, and Paloma devastated the island.

>WW4 File: US troops, Patriot missile battery arrive in Poland, Kremlin perturbed; NATO comsat codes compromised in crash of Polish president’s jet

>How to Annoy the Soviet Bear: Park US Anti-Missile Battery 40 Miles from Russian Border

A little more than a week ago, a battery of US surface-to-air missiles arrived at a military base in Morag, Poland, home of the 16th Mechanized Battalion of the Polish Land Forces. Accompanying the Patriot battery are 100 to 150 US troops from the 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery, who will unload 37 train cars shipped in from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where the troops were originally stationed. Morag is located 150 miles north of Warsaw and just 40 miles from the border with Kaliningrad, Russia’s Baltic exclave. This is the first-ever such deployment in Poland, which was a Warsaw Pact state until 1991.

The Bush Administration was committed to installing a long-range anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic, ostensibly to ward off Iranian ballistic missiles lobbed at Europe. However, in order to appease the Soviets, er, Russians, the Obama Administration scrubbed this element of National Missile Defense, promising to deploy air defense systems capable only of fending off short- and medium-range missiles. However, it is very evident that Iran cannot strike Europe with short- and medium-range missiles. The Soviets know this and are therefore also unhappy about the presence of Patriot units in the “former” communist state of Poland. The Patriots serve one purpose: defending Poland from tactical nukes.

During last September’s Zapad-2009 exercise, the Russian and Belarusian armed forces simulated nuclear strikes against Polish targets. Warsaw insists that the deployment a Patriot anti-missile unit at Morag has no political undertones or strategic intent. Rather, the base simply has “good infrastructure,” which may be true but don’t expect Moscow to be mollified.

Last Saturday, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski asserted that, as a NATO member state, Poland had every right to host the Patriot anti-missile batteries. Furthermore, the Russian military had already stationed S-300 air defense systems near Poland’s border, presumably in Kaliningrad Oblast. Therefore, Sikorski insisted, Poland will not apologize to Russia.

Not surprisingly, Moscow grumbled about the Patriot deployment. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demanded an explanation for the Patriot deployment. Boris Gryzlov, who is speaker of the Russian State Duma, remarked: “I would not like the situation to develop. [Military] reinforcement in Kaliningrad Province as a response has been discussed. There is no doubt that this issue will be discussed in the Duma.” The Russian parliament is presently considering ratification of the new US-Russian strategic arms reduction treaty.

In a related story, Bill Gertz, who produces a regular column at the Washington Times, stated on May 13 that NATO codes for secure satellite communications were compromised in the crash of Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s jet. The Polish Air Force Tu-154 was carrying the head of state and all of his top generals to a ceremony at Katyn Forest, commemorating the massacre of more than 20,000 Polish military officers by the Soviet NKVD in 1940. Kaczynski’s plane clipped a tree and crashed near the fog-shrouded airport at Smolensk in western Russia.

Gertz reports that the two service chiefs, key military aides, and several national security officials were carrying computers and memory sticks with “sensitive NATO data.” He rightly points out that even if Russian authorities acquired the top-secret data, “new NATO codes almost certainly were issued to allied militaries immediately after the crash.” Still, if the Russian signals intelligence service, known as the Federal Agency of Government Communications and Information, recovered the communication key code from the wreckage of Kaczynski’s plane then, suggests Gertz, Moscow will be able to decode months or even years worth of scrambled communications.

In an open letter to the Polish government, published on May 25, former Soviet dissidents rebuke Polish authorities for displaying naivete with respect to Russian intentions and for not insisting that the Russians answer some hard questions concerning the demise of Kazcynski and his top generals. The letter reads in part:

There’s an impression the Russian authorities are not interested in clarifying all reasons behind the catastrophe, while the Polish authorities repeat the assurances of ‘complete openness’ they get from the Russian side, not making any demands from it and only waiting patiently until the long-promised materials arrive from Moscow. It seems that the Polish friends are demonstrating some naivete, forgetting that the interests of the current Kremlin leadership and those of the nations of Russia’s neighbors do not converge.

The missive was signed by Alexander Bondarev; Viktor Feinberg; Natalya Gorbanevskaya; Vladimir Bukovsky, who calls the European Union a joint project between Moscow and Europe’s leftist parties; and Andrei Illarionov, Putin’s former economic advisor. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, a rightist like the deceased Kaczynski, dismissed the criticism out of hand.

On May 31 Russian investigators finally and formally transferred to Polish representatives copies of the cockpit-voice and flight-data recordings. The Interstate Aviation Committee confirmed that the handover included authenticated CD copies of information from the “black boxes,” while original records were placed in safe deposit boxes. Both sides signed a protocol ratifying the transfer. In spite of all these niceties, it is very likely that Russian crash investigators, who operated under the direct supervision of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, tampered with the data.

>Latin America File: Ortega threatens to dissolve National Assembly, rule by decree; FARC stages pre-poll attacks; Chavez goes on expropriation binge

>In spite of some victories for the Right in Panama, Honduras, and Chile over the last 12 months or so, the communization of the Western Hemisphere—through organizations like the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and the more overtly socialist Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas—continues apace.

Pictured above: Mortar-toting Sandinistas burn colonial version of US flag outside Nicaragua’s National Assembly on April 22, 2010.

As we suspected in a previous post, Nicaragua’s past/present Marxist dictator Daniel Ortega is indeed considering suspending the National Assembly. This body is deadlocked over issues related to the outcome of the November 2008 municipal elections, which the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front apparently dominated, and legally dubious attempts by pro-Sandinista judges on the Supreme Court to uphold their decision to overturn a constitutional ban on presidential term limits after their own mandates expired. Consecutive presidential terms were outlawed in 1995 reforms designed to prevent a repeat of the first Sandinista dictatorship.

At a meeting of Managua business leaders this past Wednesday, Ortega declared: “If you give me the word, I’ll re-found congress. If the business council supports me, I’ll rewrite it [presumably meaning the constitution]. I’ll dissolve the National Assembly. Political parties need to be resolving government appointments through negotiation and there’s no room for hard positions. Opposition lawmakers have refused to confirm the appointments.”

In place of the National Assembly, Ortega proposed ruling by decree through a Council of State, including representatives from businesses, student groups, and the “social sector.” This was the mechanism used by the FSLN to control Nicaragua between 1979 and 1990. During that period Soviet, East German, Bulgarian, and Cuban “advisors” materialized in Ortega’s entourage.

The next day Constitutionalist Liberal Party spokesman Leonel Teller opined: “The president’s threat to dissolve the National Assembly indicates dictatorial tendencies.” He urged the Organization of American States to intervene in the dispute. Betraying an ignorance of communist designs, Roger Arteaga, the president of the Nicaraguan chapter of the US Chamber of Commerce, scoffed at Ortega’s remarks: “I didn’t see him talking seriously. It was a way of making a joke, because it wouldn’t occur to anyone, not even him.” Yes, that’s right. Vladimir Lenin, whom Ortega admires, was only joking when he threatened to oust Russia’s short-lived social democratic regime in 1917.

Elsewhere in Central America, El Salvador’s ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, which has for 30 years been closely allied with the Sandinistas, appears to be taking cautious steps in the direction of disarming the population. Under the pretext of combating drug violence, FMLN National Assembly deputy Aristides Valencia has proposed a bill to force Salvadorans to register their firearms with the Ministry of Defense, or face permanent confiscation within 60 days of the bill’s passage into law. When that law is enforced, the FMLN regime will also begin a campaign to encourage Salvadorans to voluntarily exchange their personal weapons for money, goods, or services. Valencia asserted that there are about 115,000 illegally owned firearms in El Salvador.

Two weeks ago Colombian soldiers clashed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the northeastern province of Arauca, near the border with Venezuela. At least nine communist rebels from the FARC’s 10th Front were killed, the Colombian Army’s 18th Brigade disclosed. The 10th Front is commanded by German Briceño Suarez, brother of FARC military chief Jorge Briceño Suarez, a.k.a. “Mono Jojoy.” Meanwhile, on the same day, insurgents under the command of FARC’s 34th Front raked a police station with gunfire, in the northwestern state of Antioquia. Two police officers were wounded.

More recently, on Tuesday a man on a motorcycle drove up to the campaign office of the ruling Social Party of National Unity in downtown Pasto, the capital of Narino, and threw a bomb. The ensuing blast injured 11 people, including three police officers, and caused extensive damage to the office and 30 adjacent houses. Juan Manuel Santos, the former defense minister of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, is running on the “Partido de la U” ticket. The race between Santos and his main rival, Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus, is considered too close to call and, therefore, political analysts expect a run-off vote on June 20 to settle the contest. The main election takes place on May 30.

The Colombian government is deploying 350,000 troops and police throughout the country to prevent FARC from disrupting the election. Incumbent Defense Minister Gabriel Silva asserted that rebels disguised as police officers intend to stage attacks on election day. Last Sunday nine Colombian marines died when they were ambushed by FARC insurgents in the southern province of Caqueta.

The presence of FARC camps in Venezuela and Ecuador, where the far-left regimes of Hugo Chavez and Rafael Correa sympathize with the rebels’ goal of overthrowing Bogota’s “bourgeois” government, is well established. According to the O Estado de Sao Paulo, citing a classified Brazilian Federal Police report, the Marxist guerrillas are also operating bases in Amazonas state. FARC, the Brazilian newspaper claims, smuggles cash, equipment, fuel, and chemicals used to manufacture cocaine into Colombia from Brazil.

The Brazilian government intelligence report was apparently produced following the arrest earlier this month of Jose Samuel Sanchez, a Colombian suspected of belonging to insurgent army. Sanchez was arrested along with seven Brazilians, who allegedly obtained drugs, arms, and logistical support from the rebel group. President Lula da Silva’s coalition government contains cadres of the Communist Party of Brazil, who are known to sympathize with FARC.

Pictured here: Venezuela’s communist dictator Chavez hosts Comrade Oliver Stone at the Caracas premiere of the Hollywood director’s film “South of the Border,” on May 28, 2010.

Venezuela continues its lamentable descent into communism with Chavez’s latest expropriation spree, which includes the state’s acquisition of the Mexican-owned food company Molinos Nacionales CA, a subsidiary of Mexico’s Gruma SAB. The executive order authorizes the “forced acquisition” of Monaca, a producer of wheat and corn flour, rice, oil, oats, and other basic food products, several of them already subject to price controls. Mexico’s Gruma SAB has an almost 73 percent stake in Monaca, which operates six plants in Venezuela. Another 24 percent belongs to jailed Venezuelan banker Ricardo Fernandez Barruecos, who is facing the ire of the Chavezista regime in the form of corruption and financial crimes charges.

In one fell swoop, the Chavez also announced the nationalization of the bauxite processing plant NorPro de Venezuela, which is a subsidiary of a US-based company partly owned by French group Stain Gobain; and steel company Matesi, a subsidiary of Luxembourg-based Tenaris. “Nationalize NorPro. It will be taken by PDVSA,” threatened the Venezuelan president, as reported by Caracas’ El Universal on May 17. At this time, while visiting Bolívar state, Chavez declared that he was placing “workers at the forefront of the running of the primary industries located in this region.”

Lastly, Chavez seized a private ranch owned by his adversary Diego Arria, a former president of the United Nations Security Council. The property had been in Arria’s family since 1852. This did not deter Comrade Hugo, who lashed out against his critic: “If he wants to farm now, he will have to topple Chavez, because this now belongs to the revolution.” Over the weekend “Red Shirts” from the National Institute of Lands arrived to confiscate the farm and orchestrate a sensational photo op. The latter consisted of bussing in at least 300 children to swim in Arria’s pool, ride the ranch horses, and tour (pillage) the main house. “We are socializing happiness,” gushed Chavez.

Meanwhile, the Soviet strategists continue to reassert their influence in Latin America by peddling Russian-built weapon systems in the region. The Kremlin has unloaded US$4 billion in military hardware in Venezuela and is considering another US$5 billion, has promised to upgrade cash-strapped Cuba and Nicaragua’s Soviet-era armed forces, and has clinched relatively small military cooperation deals with Argentina, Bolivia, and Ecuador.

Most recently, Brazil has negotiated the purchase of air defence systems and combat helicopters from Russia. Brasilia reportedly plans to buy the Kremlin’s Tor-M1, a low-to-medium-altitude, short-range, surface-to-air missile system designed to intercept aircraft, cruise missiles, precision-guided munitions, and unmanned aerial vehicles. If this deal is finalized, then Washington has threatened to scuttle Brazil’s attempts to buy US fighter jets. Russia recently delivered three out of 12 Mi-35M Hind E attack helicopters to Brazil under a 2008 contract, worth US$150 million. In spite of Chavez’s large military expenditures, Brazil still has the largest armed forces in Latin America and, like other member states of Unasur, belongs to the South American Defence Council, a counterweight to NATO.

Pictured here: The US flag flies over the Arizona border town of Nogales, on April 22, 2010.

Obama Deploys 1,200 National Guard Troops along US-Mexico Border, No Arrest Powers Given

The Mexican government, reports Reuters, does not object to US plans to station troops along their common border. President Felipe Calderon, who recently flew to Washington to address a joint session of the US Congress, added one caveat: US soldiers must not arrest Mexicans (illegally) trying to enter the USA. “They have a commitment to uphold the law on the American side and not to use the National Guard for immigration purposes or to deal with immigration issues,” Calderon told a news conference in Ottawa after talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

On Tuesday President Barack Hussein Obama, reacting to drug violence in northern Mexico, announced he would deploy 1,200 more National Guard troops and request an additional $500 million to secure the almost 2,000-mile US-Mexico border. Obama was happy to oblige Calderon: National Guard troops have no arrest powers in this situation. In any event, arrests of illegal immigrants are normally carried out by US Border Patrol.

Calderon’s trip to Washington was significant because US politicians are divided about what to do with the at least 12 million illegal aliens, mostly from Mexico, living in the country. The Mexican president has condemned a controversial new law in Arizona that empowers police to detain anyone believed to be an “undocumented worker,” even if that person is not suspected of committing any other crime. In a rare advisory, which exposes the Mexican government’s injured pride, Calderon has cautioned his countrymen against travelling to Arizona.

In a related story, someone is apparently upping the ante in Mexico’s bloody drug wars. A high-profile kidnapping occurred in the state of Queretaro on May 14. Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, who ran for president in 1994 on the National Action Party (PAN) ticket, disappeared from his ranch. The missing politician is a “personal friend” of Calderon and previous president Vicente Fox. The conservative PAN displaced the long-ruling, social democratic Institutional Revolutionary Party as the country’s governing party in 2000.

Mexico’s powerful drug cartels have not claimed responsibility for Fernandez’s disappearance, while the Marxist guerrillas of the People’s Revolutionary Army (EPR) expressly disavowed culpability. “We do not know if his disappearance is for political motives, his inter-party disputes, or because of the social breakdown of this neoliberal government,” the EPR stated dismissively in a communique posted on the Internet.

Mexicans have long feared the type of political terrorism that characterized Colombia’s drug wars during the 1980s and 1990s, before combined operations by Colombian and US special forces decapitated the Medellin and Cali cartels. “This strikes me as a cartel trying to show [it] can act with impunity,” opines George Grayson, a College of William and Mary professor who studies politics and organized crime. Grayson added: “[Mr. Fernandez] is the highest-profile figure who has been involved in a possible kidnapping and death. He was the poster boy for the PAN.”

Last weekend, Fernandez’s kidnappers contacted his family and an alleged photo of the captured politician was published in newspapers, but his whereabouts is still unknown.

>Asia File: Kremlin finances Thaksin comeback, ex-PM owes Gazprombank US$1.5 billion; Cambodia cultivates mil-mil relations with PRC, Vietnam

>Extended Report Covers:

– Cambodia Retains Thaksin as Economic Advisor Last November, Thailand Withdraws Ambassador from Phnom Penh

– Thaksin Collaborating with Thai “Leftists,” Smuggling Arms from Cambodia to Overthrow Monarchist Regime, Red Shirt Cadres Finding Refuge in Cambodia

– Thais Seize North Korean Aircraft with 35 Tons of Illicit Weapons in December; Five-Man Crew from Belarus and Kazakhstan

– Exiled Thaksin Taunts Thai Foreign Ministry in March 2010 Video Link to Red Shirt Supporters: “I’m in Russia”

– Cambodian Government Denies Its Citizens Participated (as Agents Provocateur) in Latest Red Shirt Protests

– Cambodia Test-Fires Soviet-Built Rocket Launchers in March, Welcomes Red China’s Defence Minister in Early May

Thaksin is believed to have borrowed money from a Russian oil company to finance his political comeback. He’ll be in big trouble with the Russians if he cannot repay that debt.
— Thai government source, quoted by Asia One News, January 14, 2010

At Once Upon a Time in the West we primarily focus on developments in the Not-So-Former Soviet Union and Latin America. In the wake of the Royal Thai Army’s decisive crackdown on the Red Shirt movement last week, however, we have decided to “catch up” with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s plot to overthrow the Thai establishment. In this endeavour, the ex-billionaire–who faces corruption and, now more recently, terrorism charges in his homeland–has received a “little help” from Thailand’s disgruntled communists; golfing buddy Hun Sen, Cambodia’s communist prime minister; the KGB financiers at Gazprombank; the “friendly skies” of North Korean aviation and, possibly, Viktor Bout, the alleged Russian arms dealer who for the last two years has made his home in a Thai jail cell.

This past Saturday Thai officials displayed a “large cache” of weapons seized from a stronghold of Red Shirt protesters in the country’s capital. The weapons included M-16 rifles, bullets, grenades, and bomb components. At least 15 people died in the final government offensive and more than 100 were wounded. Overall, during the two-month insurrection approximately 85 people, including 11 police and soldiers, died. Police acknowledge that eight Red Shirt leaders are separately incarcerated at a prison camp south of Bangkok and, after an initial period of leniency, their cell phones and text messaging devices were confiscated.

As they retreated, the Red Shirt protesters, under the leadership of “former” cadres of the “defunct” Communist Party of Thailand, torched a number of businesses, including the country’s stock exchange and Southeast Asia’s largest department store, Central World Plaza. “The fires in many areas in Bangkok were well prepared—step by step,” army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd explained at a news conference. Tables covered with weapons confiscated from the Red Shirts flanked the colonel during his speech.

Bangkok remains in a state of emergency and was under a dusk-to-dawn curfew through the weekend. However, on Saturday morning many shops opened, vehicle traffic returned to the city, and the curfew was lifted in the popular beach resort of Pattaya. The capital’s two major public transit systems were scheduled to reopen on Sunday with limited stops.

Amazingly, in a politically suicidal gesture, the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva stated that it would permit Red Shirt gatherings, as long as they were peaceful. Thai media have reported that the Red Shirts intend to stage more protests Monday. “They can gather together as long as they don’t break the law,” intoned government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn. Under the banner of the communist-led National United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), otherwise known as “Red Shirts,” Thaksin supporters have protested since his ouster in 2006.

There is some concern among Thai officials, though, that agents provocateur from Cambodia were circulating among the Red Shirt protesters. The Phnom Penh Post reports that Cambodia “has called on Thailand to immediately release a Cambodian man accused of committing an arson attack on a bank during violent protests in Bangkok last week.” Last Wednesday, during the military crackdown, Thai authorities arrested Cambodian national San Mony Phet, 27, while he was standing outside the beverage shop where he worked.

Tith Sothea, spokesentity for the Cambodian Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, denied reports, published by Thailand’s Krung Thep Thurakej Online on Friday, that Cambodians had taken part in the Red Shirt protests. “No Cambodian people have joined the protests in Bangkok,” he protested. “This information is completely exaggerated, which could cause diplomatic relations between the two nations to worsen.”

This past February, in a related story, Thai Labor Minister Phaitoon Kaewthong announced that his ministry would expedite the deportation of 500,000 unregistered migrant workers from Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia. The reason behind this decision, Phaitoon admitted, was a rumor that these aliens could assay to join themselves to Red Shirt protests throughout the country.

Tracing the swirl of intrigue in Southeast Asia offers a glimpse into the Communist Bloc’s plan to destabilize and overthrow Thailand’s “bourgeois” regime, embodied by the monarchy and business and military figures who support the ruling Democrat Party.

On November 10, 2009 Thaksin, who has spent much of his self-imposed exile in Dubai, landed at an airbase in Phnom Penh. There he was whisked away by secure motorcade to a private audience with Cambodia’s communist dictator Hun. At this time Hun appointed Thaksin as economic advisor to the Cambodian government which, as we will learn below, is cravenly beholden to the communist regime in Vietnam. Outraged, the Thai government withdrew its ambassador from Cambodia, while the Cambodians refused to extradite Thaksin. Hun and Thaksin are pictured above at a subsequent meeting in Phnom Penh, on December 14.

Thaksin’s friendship with “ex”-Khmer Rouge cadre Hun actually began in 2001, if not before, when the former telecom magnate travelled to Cambodia to sign a protocol designed to promote peaceful relations between the two countries. Thaksin also expressed an interest in developing Cambodia’s oil and gas reserves.

The following month, according to Jatuporn Prompan, who represents the pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party, asserted that Abhisit and his cabinet are preparing a “military option” against Cambodia if it becomes evident that Thaksin has set up a government in exile in Phnom Penh. Citing a letter allegedly addressed to Abhisit from Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, Jatuporn stated: “Preparation of a military option is equivalent to preparing for war against Cambodia.” According to Jatuporn, the government memo describes Thaksin as “a major threat to the government” and asserts that “the fugitive ex-premier is using a two-pronged strategy to topple the government: cooperation with Hun Sen and activity by the National United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.”

A Thai Foreign Ministry official reportedly leaked the memo to the Pheu Thai Party during a press conference at the party headquarters. Kasit purportedly urged the government to “get rid of,” or assassinate, Thaksin. The Thai Foreign Ministry has not denied the existence of the document and its contents, but announced that it would investigate the origin of the leak.

That December Thai authorities at Bangkok’s Don Muang International Airport impounded a North Korean aircraft containing 35 tons of illegal weapons, including missiles, and detained the plane’s five-man crew, consisting of one Belarusian and four Kazakhs. The pilot had requested an emergency landing to refuel but, tipped off by Thai and foreign intelligence agencies, police pounced. Thai army trucks removed the weapons to a military depot.

The Thai media promptly speculated that this illicit shipment of weapons was bound for Thaksin’s Red Shirt supporters. In addition, it also considered the possibility the shipment was arranged by Viktor (“Lord of War”) Bout, an accused arms smuggler who not so coincidentally has been cooling his heels in a Thai jail since March 2008. The 43-year-old Bout joined the Soviet Army in the 1980s and is alleged to be a KGB/GRU operative, a charge he denies along with gun running. Bout has been resisting extradition attempts by Washington, which has linked his supposed deals with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Was Bout running arms for Thaksin when the Russian national was nabbed in Bangkok a little more than two years ago? Was jailbird Bout behind the arms shipment seized at Bangkok’s international airport last December? We’re not sure, but others have wondered. The Bangkok Post speculates:

The seizure of the weapons shipment from an aircraft at Don Mueang airport last Saturday continues to capture front-page headlines as investigators dig deeper into the case.

The arms shipment, about 35 tonnes, was loaded in Pyongyang and was believed to be destined for the Middle East. Worth about 600 million baht, it comprises missiles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and ammunition. Five crewmen, one Belarussian and four Kazaks, are in custody and were denied court bail.

It was suggested the arms shipment might be linked to Victor Bout, the alleged Russian arms trafficker currently in Thai custody, but this was not verified. In New Zealand, however, an investigation was under way to determine if a New Zealand-registered company is linked to the plane.

Incidentally, the Russian Mafia, which is staffed by “ex”-KGB types, has a strong presence in Thailand due to the country’s location within the Golden Triangle heroin-producing region.

In late December Suriyasai Katasila, leader of Thailand’s royalist New Politics Party (NPP), declared that “2010 will be a turning point for Thailand when Thaksin Shinawatra will collaborate with leftists to overthrow the current regime and establish a new one.” An online Thai news source also quoted Suriyasai as saying:

It is likely that they will use military troops to stage a coup, or use other violent means. Thailand’s security apparatus needs a major overhaul to cope with the threats from Thaksin, which affect national security far and wide. Thaksin is preparing for regime change. His target is to change the structure and the law.

Referring to the seizure of illicit weapons at Bangkok’s international airport that month, Suriyasai announced:

I have information and believe that previously there had been a weapons-smuggling flight into Thailand, but the government dared not speak the truth for fear of a public panic. Now weapons have been smuggled across the Cambodian border, and are ready for use by Thaksin. It’s likely he will use the weapons for political operations, with the target being regime change.

The NPP is the political wing of the anti-Thaksin pressure group, People’s Alliance for Democracy.

Along this theme, in April 2009—that is, months before Pyongyang dispatched 35 tons of illegal armament to an unknown destination in Southeast Asia—Stephen Kurczy pointed out that his employer, Asia Times “broke the news last week that pro-Thaksin groups had for the past two years funneled arms through Cambodia to Thaksin-aligned supporters in Thailand’s northeastern provinces.” Kurczy continues:

Meanwhile, there are widespread rumors circulated by some Thai media outlets that Thaksin’s on-the-run protest leaders have taken refuge across the border at Cambodia’s Koh Kong island and that the exiled former premier earlier this week paid them a clandestine visit. Cambodian authorities have consistently denied that Thaksin has entered the country, including earlier this week.

It is undoubtedly from these channels that the “shadowy armed wing” of the Red Shirt movement, consisting of black-clad commandos and rooftop snipers, obtained the grenade launchers and M-16 assault rifles used to repel Thai soldiers.

Since the Thai government has seized Thaksin’s assets, the power-hungry, commie-loving businessman has turned to KGB bankers to finance his comeback, clandestinely wiring the money to leftist agitators occupying the streets of Bangkok. In early April, following a ruling by Thailand’s Supreme Court to confiscate the fugitive politician’s assets, the Comptroller General ordered six banks holding 46.37 billion bahts in 30 accounts owned by Thaksin’s family to transfer the funds to the state’s revenue account.

On February 10 Sawamiwat, an aide to Pheu Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, refuted allegations from a government spokesman that Thaksin had been transferring money from overseas banks into Red Shirt leader accounts for at least two or three months. “The accusation is totally groundless. It is not easy to get money from Thaksin. The ex-premier now has not much money,” Pirat protested. Chavalit and Pirat are retired generals of the Thai armed forces, exposing the fact that Thaksin can possibly count on some support from active servicemen.

The same day Jatuporn Prompan, who is both a Red Shirt leader and Pheu Thai Member of Parliament, denied allegations that Thaksin had transferred 300 million baht into the bank accounts of “core” Red Shirt leaders. For his part, Abhisit retorted that his government is not accusing anyone in particular but is investigating the possibility of such financial linkages. “The government is determined to enforce the law strictly against any groups planning to stir up violence,” he warned. The Pheu Thai Party is the political wing of the communist-controlled UDD.

Intriguingly, from the viewpoint of those looking for the Kremlin’s hand in Thailand’s turmoil, Thaksin admitted during a March 30 video link to his Red Shirt supporters that he was then visiting Russia. “I tell you,” he taunted Thailand’s Foreign Ministry, “I’m in Russia now. I came from Sweden. But I wasn’t kicked out of Sweden, contrary to what the Foreign Ministry said. I’m in Russia to meet a billionaire who wants to invest in Asia.” The same day Thai Foreign Minister Kasit ordered all Thai envoys in Europe to locate Thaksin.

In response to allegations that the Kremlin permitted Thaksin to enter Russia without a passport, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesentity Andrei Nesterenko offered the following rebuttal: “In connection with the statements by Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, we would like to confirm that the Russian Foreign Ministry does not posses official information concerning the presence of former [Thai] prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Russian territory.” Translated from commiespeak, Nesterenko is admitting that the Russian Foreign Ministry could possess unofficial information concerning Thaksin’s clandestine visit to Russia.

During his premiership, Thaksin made some efforts to establish ties with Russia. As it turns out, reported the Thai media in January, Thaksin owes as much as US$1.5 billion to Gazprombank, a subsidiary of Kremlin energy giant Gazprom. Gazprom is a larger Russian equivalent of Thailand’s PTT Plc, in which Thaksin still holds a chunk of shares through nominee accounts.

Thaksin used the loan from Gazprombank to invest in Dubai, which itself is facing a financial meltdown. State-owned Dubai World, for example, is seeking to postpone payment of debt amounting to US$59 billion. Thaksin is also facing huge losses after his foray into the Dubai market. “With hardly any breathing space left,” editorializes Bangkok’s The Nation, “Thaksin is now fighting back fiercely. He will try to lobby the Supreme Court, bring down the Abhisit government and ignite the red shirt rallies in order to instigate a military intervention.”

Founded in 1990, before the stage-managed collapse of the Soviet Union, Gazprombank is the largest “private” bank in Russia but, in reality, is actually owned by Kremlin entity Gazprom. Gazprom directly controls 62.59% of Gazprombank’s shares and the remaining shares through its subsidiaries Gazfond and Gazprom Export. Gazprom was created in 1989 when the Soviet Ministry of Gas Industry transformed itself into a corporation, retaining all of its assets. Later, Gazprom was partly privatized but currently the Russian government holds a controlling stake.

Gazprombank’s deputy chairman is Andrei Akimov, a “former” KGB officer who during the 1980s reportedly worked as an undercover agent at Vneshtorgbank and Donau Bank, two KGB front companies in Switzerland and Austria, respectively. Akimov was also involved with Imag GmbH (later renamed Dehel GmbH) in Vienna, an “opaque” company that had “bafflingly convoluted company structures and accounting problems.”

In addition to borrowing money from the Russians to pour into ventures based in the United Arab Emirates, Thaksin also secured a loan to finance his return to Thai politics. Last January Asia One News quoted a source in the Thai government as saying: “Thaksin is believed to have borrowed money from a Russian oil company to finance his political comeback. He’ll be in big trouble with the Russians if he cannot repay that debt. But wherever he goes, he likes to have his photo taken with VIPs, to assert his status.”

Is Comrade Akimov Thaksin’s “billionaire Russian friend”? We may never know, especially if the KGB, with the assistance of Cambodian or Vietnamese intelligence, decides Thaksin has become “expendable.”

The Communist Bloc Sharpens Its Knives to Stab Thailand

Since last November’s diplomatic spat between Bangkok and Phnom Penh, relations between the two countries remain tense. Last December Cambodian officials released a Thai engineer who had been convicted of spying on Thaksin while the fugitive politician made a number of visits to Comrade Hun. Sivarak Chutipong’s release came as Thaksin show up in Phnom Penh for the second time in as many months, stopping by Sivarak’s prison cell to converse with the putative espionage agent.

The 31-year-old Sivarak, an employee of the Thai-Cambodia Air Traffic Services, received his pardon from Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni. The pardon was personally presented at Hun’s official residence. Sivarak was initially sentenced to seven years in jail for supplying Thaksin’s flight details to the Thai embassy when the former head of government visited Cambodia in November. However, according to Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, the secretary of Thailand’s foreign minister, Sivarak never handed any documents to Thai authorities. “I don’t think that there’s a secret here. In this case, we were only inquiring about [Thaksin’s flight information],” Chavanond related.

The situation along the Thai-Cambodian border is also volatile. On April 17 troops from both countries briefly clashed at the Ou Smach checkpoint along their common northern border. Both sides fired rifles, machine guns, and rockets after Cambodian soldiers reportedly ignored a demand from Thai counterparts to shift their location deeper into Cambodian territory.

Border tensions, reports the Cambodian media, heated up again on May 14 when the governor of Sampov Loon district, which is in Battambang province, asserted that a Thai spy plane penetrated five kilometres into Cambodian airspace and then travelled over several provinces before returning to Thailand. General Uk Khnuot, deputy commander of Battambang province military region, would not confirm the aerial incursion, but General Por Vannak, commander of Battambang military police, insisted that the Thais did indeed trespass into Cambodian airspace at high altitude.

This is not the first time soldiers from the two Southeast Asian countries have stared each other down. Two years ago a long-simmering border dispute nearly exploded into violence as 400 Thai and 200 Cambodian troops converged on the 1,100-year-old Hindu temple of Preah Vihear. The International Court of Justice had awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but in July 2008 three Thai activists arrived at the site to assert Bangkok’s sovereignty. Thai soldiers then drove Cambodian forces from one of the temple buildings. That month UNESCO recognized Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site. Due to its inaccessible cliff-top location, Khmer Rouge forces remained holed up there until as late as 1998.

On March 5, 2010 the Cambodian military conducted multiple rocket tests in the remote Kampong Chhnang province (pictured above). Using Soviet-built BM21 rocket launchers, Cambodian troops fired 200 rockets, striking targets 20 to 40 kilometers away. Hun defended the military exercise as essential for national security, while Thai counterpart Abhisit downplayed the impact of the Cambodian drill on bilateral relations. By contrast, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan suggested that political instability has returned to Southeast Asia. “We are very concerned with such a development,” he lamented, but insisted that it was too early to determine whether the rocket launches were a provocation by Phnom Penh.

Although the Cambodian monarchy was restored after Vietnam’s invasion in December 1978, Phnom Penh was and is part of the Communist Bloc. Indeed, the Vietnamese intervention simply replaced one communist regime with another, that is, the genocidal Khmer Rouge was replaced by the non-genocidal Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). The “ex”-Marxist-Leninist CPP controls all of the important organs of the Cambodian state to this day and maintains very close relations with the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Communist Party of China. Writing last year for the Asia Times, Kurczy, quoted above, describes the CPP’s subservient relationship with Vietnam’s red regime:

Despite Cambodia’s transition from a single-party Leninist state to multi-party constitutional monarchy, members of the CPP currently assume every ministerial position and control three-fourths of the National Assembly’s seats. The CPP maintains close ties with Vietnam, bonds that have strengthened as Cambodia looks east for a political ally and trade partner while links to Thailand come under strain from a border conflict and political protests that have targeted Hun Sen’s government.

“Politically speaking, it is a very unique, special relationship,” said Cambodian political observer Chea Vannath. “Vietnam still plays big brother whenever the CPP needs it.”

Expanding military-to-military relations between Phnom Penh, Hanoi, and Beijing also prove this nexus. Earlier this month, Red China’s Defense Minister Liang Guanglie showed up in the Cambodian capital, where he met with Pol Saroeun, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. There Liang gushed: “Cambodia is China’s good neighbor, friend and partner.” He added:

Recent years have witnessed high-level contacts, a deepening of economic and trade cooperation, productive exchanges in science and technology, and sound growth in military relations between China and Cambodia. Both countries have also supported each other on major issues concerning their respective core interests.

China hopes to make joint efforts with Cambodia to consolidate their traditional friendship, promote reciprocal cooperation, and constantly enrich their comprehensive cooperative partnership.

Accompanying Liang was General Chen Bingde, Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army. Chen enthused: “China-Cambodia military relations have smoothly developed with pragmatic and meaningful cooperation in personnel training and the building of military schools and hospitals. China is ready to work with Cambodia to further boost their military relations.”

For his part, Pol Saroeun affirmed: “The Cambodian government attaches great importance to its relationship with China and will continue to adhere to the one-China policy. The Cambodian armed forces would like to work with China to enhance cooperation in various fields.” Thus, Cambodia’s communist regime supports the Republic of China’s integration into the People’s Republic, whether peacefully or by force. This is the meaning behind Beijing’s “one-China policy.”

Cambodia also boasts closes military relations with Vietnam. In 2005 Cambodian Deputy Prime Ministers and Co-Ministers of National Defense, General Tea Banh and General Nhek Bunchhay, travelled to Hanoi, where they met with Vietnam’s State President Tran Duc Luong. “The defense ministries of the two countries should boost exchange of visits and further cooperate in implementing the border treaty by continuing with the planting of border milestones, the delineation of borderlines and maintenance of peaceful and stable borders,” Luong declared.

In return, the Cambodian generals promised to expand the search for the remains of Vietnamese soldiers who were killed in action in Cambodia 30 years ago. They also briefed Luong on measures to expedite the progress of finalizing the border treaty between the two countries. The Cambodians and Vietnamese also pledged to hold future exchanges of military delegations and conduct joint maritime patrols.

In February 2009, reports Kurczy in Asia Times, Vietnam’s defence minister dropped by to see Hun and pledged to continue to provide training for Cambodian soldiers in Vietnam, including over 100 in residence at Vietnam’s infantry academy. That month Cambodia’s prime minister applauded 21 high-ranking officers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, including Commander-in-Chief Pol and Deputy Commander-in-Chief Kun Kim, for earning degrees in military science from Vietnamese military institutes. According to VietNamNet, “Hun also thanked Vietnam for helping to protect Cambodia’s national defense and economic development.”

If the communist-controlled, Thaksin-backed Red Shirt insurgency degenerates into open hostilities between Bangkok and Phnom Penh, then it can be expected that Vietnam and Red China, not to mention Laos and Myanmar, will support Cambodia, even if only diplomatically.

>USSR2 File: Medvedev visits puppet Yanukovich, urges Ukraine’s accession to CSTO, denies Russian Navy will attack neighbors, Kiev court bans protests

>– New Law Endorsed by Yanukovich Permits Troops from Russia, Belarus, and “Ex”-Soviet Bloc States to Participate in Joint Maneuvers on Ukrainian Territory

– Soviet Bear Plays Nice Before Re-Subjugating Ukraine: Medvedev Honors Ukrainian Victims of Stalin-Era Famine as Yanukovich Downplays “Genocide” Charge

On May 18 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Ukraine for his first official visit since pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovich was elected president in a February run-off vote. In Kiev the Soviet Komsomol graduate urged President Yanukovich, a “former” cadre of the “defunct” Communist Party of the Soviet Union, to steer his country into the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

The CSTO embraces Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, but Medvedev was quick to assure the Ukrainians that the military alliance is not a retooled version of the Warsaw Pact, dissolved in 1991. “If in the future Ukraine considers it proper to join the CSTO,” Medvedev coaxed, “we would be happy to accept you. The CSTO is not the Warsaw Pact. We do not need confrontation with NATO or other military blocs.” Yanukovich’s predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko, shunned relations with Russia and, instead, advocated Ukraine’s accession to NATO membership.

Medvedev also assured the citizens of “former” Soviet republics and “former” Soviet Bloc states with shores on the Black Sea that the Russian Navy will not use its Black Sea Fleet to attack its neighbors. This fake olive branch from the Kremlin would no doubt be extended to Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and Georgia. Translated from commiespeak, what Medvedev really means is that the Kremlin has every intention of using its Black Sea Fleet to attack its neighbors. After all, why does Moscow plan to purchase one French-built Mistral-class helicopter assault ship and build three more under license?

Last month, Ukraine agreed to extend the Russian Navy’s lease of a base in the Crimean port of Sevastopol until 2042, in exchange for cheaper natural gas imports from Russia. While visiting Kiev, Medvedev admitted that this sum totals about US$40 billion over the next 32 years. The Ukrainian Navy’s headquarters is also located in Sevastopol.

In a related story, Novosti reports that Russia will help Ukraine finish building the Ukraina missile cruiser almost 15 years after budget cuts stalled construction. The keel for the Slava-class cruiser, which was originally called Admiral Lobov, was first laid down at the Nikolayev shipyard in Ukraine in 1984. “We have agreed that Russia will complete construction of the Ukraina cruiser,” Yanukovich acknowledged at a joint news conference, after talks with Medvedev. “The cruiser is 95% complete but cannot be finished without Russia’s help.”

About US$30 million is needed to complete the cruiser’s construction. While it seems likely that Ukraina will in fact be commissioned with the Ukrainian Navy, Moscow’s interest in “helping” Kiev finish work on a Soviet-era warship obviously comes with a quid pro quo, as evidenced by the first news report above: Ukraine will be pressured into joining CSTO.

The Soviet Navy’s Slava-class cruisers were designed as surface strike ships with some anti-aircraft and anti-submarine warfare capability. Today the Russian Navy’s three Slava-class cruisers–Moskva, Marshal Ustinov, and Varyag–can each carry 16 SS-N-12 (“Sandbox”) supersonic, nuclear-capable anti-ship missiles. Launchers are mounted in four pairs on either side of the superstructure.

Talks between Medvedev and Yanukovich focused on Kremlin proposals to form joint ventures in the nuclear energy, aircraft, and shipbuilding industries, as well as a surprise plan put forward by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to merge Ukraine’s state gas company with Russia’s Gazprom. Notwithstanding his pro-Russian credentials, Yanukovich did not jump at the proposal.

The two presidents also signed agreements to harmonize their positions on European security, foster cooperation between their respective intelligence agencies—namely, the Russian FSB and Ukrainian SBU, both departments of the old Soviet KGB—and work toward a breakthrough in resolving the status of Moldova’s breakaway region, Transnistria. This de facto independent, Russian-speaking state is wedged between Moldova and Ukraine and has for the last 20 years been governed by “ex”-communist Igor Smirnov.

In the wake of the suspicious April 10 demise of Poland’s anti-communist president Lech Kaczynski and his top generals in a Polish Air Force jet over western Russia, the Kremlin has been anxious to improve its image in the “post”-Soviet space. For this reason, Sergei Mironov, speaker of Russia’s Federation Council, flew to Krakow last Sunday to lay flowers at the grave of President Kaczynski and at a monument to Soviet soldiers who were killed liberating Poland from the Nazis. Mironov will meet with acting Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Together with Poland’s Senate Speaker Bogdan Borusewicz, he will open the Second Forum of Russian and Polish Regions.

For his part, while visiting Kiev Medvedev paid his respects to the millions of Ukrainians who perished in a Stalin-era famine by lighting a candle at a “Holodomor” memorial (pictured above). Between 1929 and 1932 dictator Joseph Stalin implemented “dekulakization” in a bid to collectivize all Soviet farms. In addition to massive death by starvation, millions of Soviet citizens were internally displaced, as chronicled in horrendous detail in The Black Book of Communism (Harvard University Press, 1997, 2000). Former President Yushchenko referred to the deaths as “genocide,” infuriating the Kremlin, but Yanukovich, who accompanied Medvedev yesterday, downplayed the severity of the Holodomor, calling the famine “a common tragedy suffered by people across the Soviet Union.”

Tellingly, a court in Kiev banned opposition protests during Medvedev’s visit, the first time that demonstrations had been outlawed since 2004. Several weeks ago the Ukrainian Rada erupted in violence when nationalist deputies objected to passage of the Russian naval base lease extension. Journalists have warned of increasing censorship since Yanukovich came to power. Staff at two leading television stations, for example, threatened to strike after complaining that reports critical of the authorities had been suppressed and coverage of opposition parties restricted. In response, Wilfried Martens, president of the European Parliament’s largest bloc, the conservative European People’s Party, warned that “the rule of law and fundamental human rights and liberties” are under assault in Ukraine.

Significantly, one day after Medevedev’s visit the Ukrainian Rada passed a law, filed by President Yanukovich, allowing foreign military forces to participate in joint exercises on Ukrainian territory. Among the 16 countries listed a number are NATO countries, including several that are ex-Warsaw Pact states: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Greece, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. The new law also permits Russian, Belarusian, and Georgia troops, as well as Hungarian and Slovakian forces, to hold maneuvers on Ukrainian soil.

The bill was supported by 394 members of the governing coalition and opposition. The Communist Party of Ukraine, which belongs to Yanukovich’s coalition, did not participate in the vote, presumably because the bill, while allowing Russian soldiers in Ukraine, also facilitates the admission of US soldiers. From the vantage of the Soviet strategists’ long-range plan, it may be that when Russia re-invades and re-occupies Ukraine, Ukrainian communists do not wish to be identified as traitors or “unpatriotic.”

Several days after Yanukovich won the February run-off election, the Russian Defense Ministry confidently announced that the Russian and Ukrainian air forces would hold combined drills at the end of 2010.

>Asia File: Thai army thwarts communist coup, launches final crackdown on “Red Shirt” protests in Bangkok; heavily armed militants counter-attack

>– North American Media Oblivious to Communist Orchestration behind Thailand’s “Red Shirt” Anti-Government Protests

– Thaksin Shinawatra Urges Uprising from Exile; Former PM’s Inner Circle Dominated by “Ex”-Maoists Indoctrinated in Vietnam in 1970s

– Thaksin Close Friend of Cambodia’s “Ex”-Khmer Rouge PM, Warns Red Shirt Uprising Could Develop into Guerrilla Warfare

– “Thousands” of Red Shirt Protesters Respond to Bangkok Crackdown by Attacking City Halls in Three Provincial Capitals

The people who are the real planners, not the people up on stage making protest speeches, these people probably keep a very low profile, but they must calculate that aggression is vital. Aggression paralyzes and divides opponents.

This is what we were taught [in Hanoi]. This is how a smaller force can defeat overwhelming power. The message was: divide and conquer.

The tactic is to keep saying that you are a peace-loving people.

The red shirt people have been told over and over that greedy people in authority have denied them justice and their fair share. They have been pumped full of toy-town leftism and told to hate every institution that has held this country together.

Many of them are now absolutely convinced that Thaksin was the best leader in Thai history, that he was a kind and generous man who holds the solution to all their problems. They don’t need a program – they just need a new Thai state with Thaksin in charge. It has become very emotional – as it was designed to be.

Old communists know that when it comes to revolution, ignorance is much more powerful than knowledge.

– Chaidee Therdpoum, Red Shirt sympathizer, “former” cadre of “defunct” Communist Party of Thailand; quoted by Asia Times, May 13, 2010

On Wednesday the Royal Thai Army moved into central Bangkok to finally crush a two-month street protest carried out by the “Red Shirts,” a “populist” uprising orchestrated by supporters of exiled prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose political career is guided by “ex”-cadres of the Communist Party of Thailand. Five people, including an Italian news photographer, were killed and 52 injured in the final onslaught by government troops. Amazingly, the carnage from today’s street battles was not greater.

“A crackdown on antigovernment protesters launched by the Thai military on Wednesday,” reports the New York Times, “degenerated into riots, firebombing attacks, looting and street battles after militants allied with the protest movement resisted the army’s onslaught with grenades and assault weapons.” The newspaper continues: “As they retreated, protesters set fire to the country’s stock exchange and a number of buildings including a major shopping mall, two banks, a movie theater and a television station.” The shopping mall that the Red Shirts torched was Central World Plaza, one of the largest department stores in Southeast Asia (pictured above).

“We cannot resist against these savages anymore,” Jatuporn Prompan, one Red Shirt leader was quoted as saying, referring to the regular soldiers, before turning himself in. Another protest leader, Weng Tojirakarn, a medical doctor and “former” communist activist, was interviewed. “I have no gun,” he told a reporter, adding: “I can’t do anything.”

Infantry accompanied the armored vehicles that rolled into the protest zone, taking control of major streets and occupying Bangkok’s Lumpini Park. Soldiers assaulting an upscale neighbourhood–home to many corporate headquarters, high-end shopping malls, luxury hotels, and high-rise apartment buildings–were repelled by black-clad gunmen armed with M-16 assault rifles and grenade launchers.

Panitan Wattanayagorn, a government spokesman, announced that the “first phase” of the counter-insurgency operation was “successful.” “We are going to focus on setting a perimeter,” Panitan explained in a televised speech on Wednesday morning, adding: “We would like to reassure the citizens, the residents of Bangkok, that the operations are designed to make sure we stabilize the area.”

Thai news outlets reported that one of the more militant protest leaders, Arisman Pongruengrong, who is also a popular singer, fled the protest zone in a disguise. At noon seven Red Shirt leaders surrendered to government forces. Just before turning himself in, one of the protest leaders, Nattawut Saikua, shouted to supporters: “If the prime minister wants to govern the country on the top of this wreckage, he should go ahead and kill us all. But if he wants to do the right thing, he should stop the shooting immediately.”

News of the crackdown in Bangkok provoked Red Shirts to action in at least three northeastern provinces, the populous rice-growing region that gave birth to the movement. Thai media reported that thousands of protesters attacked the city halls in three provincial capitals.

Speaking to the Reuters news agency by telephone from an undisclosed location outside Thailand, exiled PM Thaksin, in a rather self-serving manner, predicted the violence could spread. “There is a theory saying a military crackdown can spread resentment and these resentful people will become guerrillas,” he rumbled.

Last November Thaksin flew to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, where he met with Prime Minister Hun Sen, a close friend and political ally who began his own political career with the genocidal Khmer Rouge. Cambodia’s “ex”-communist government has retained Thaksin as an economic advisor. Three days ago the Cambodians urged the disputing parties in Thailand “to resume peaceful talks in order to achieve a political settlement to the current stand-off and restore peace and normalcy to the Thai people, thus stability in the region.”

Red Strategy and Tactics for Thailand’s Red Shirts

Writing for Asia Times on May 13, journalist William Barnes contends that “Maoist revolutionary thought and guerrilla tactics” inform the objectives and actions of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), otherwise known as the “Red Shirt” movement. The UDD, explains Barnes, has deceptively portrayed itself as a non-violent, pro-democracy movement, “a line many international media outlets have perpetuated.” Furthermore, the Red Shirts have “occupied a large swathe of Bangkok’s luxury shopping and hotel district for more than six weeks, paralyzing the symbolic heart of the country’s capitalist economy.”

To substantiate his thesis, Barnes quotes Therdpoum Chaidee, a “former” communist, Red Shirt ideologist, and former member of parliament for Thaksin’s original party, Thai Rak Thai, now banned. Therdpoum asserts that UDD strategy “necessarily requires violence, or at least the threat of violence, to divide and immobilize” the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. The governing coalition, Therdpoum complains, represents the Thai establishment, consisting of monarchists, businessmen, and military brass.

“The revolution walks on two legs. One political leg and one army leg. Violence is the essential ingredient in the mix. That is what we were taught,” pontificates Therdpoum, alluding to his three months in Communist Vietnam more than 30 years ago.

Therdpoum was a hotel union organizer who fled to the communist underground in 1975 to oppose the monarchist government of the day. “Many hundreds of the country’s most energetic students and intellectuals did the same,” relates Barnes and then describes Therdpoum’s political career as follows:

His five-year odyssey with the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) included a three-month period in Hanoi in the heady period following the unification of Vietnam under communist rule. There, Therdpoum and a handful of hand-picked Thai activists, like prominent student leader Seksan Prasertkun, as well as current UDD leaders Weng Tochirakan and Jaran Dittapichai, were drilled in Maoist revolutionary theory.

The five tactics they learned for unseating a government included: divide your enemies; form a united front; use provocative violence; secure the loyalty of people inside the ruling regime; and, finally, win over the army.

“That is what we have seen. The government people have been quarrelling about what to do. Some senior figures have a divided loyalty. The army and the police cannot move. Provocative violence has been very successful,” gushed Therdpoum, referring to the UDD’s campaign to topple the Abhisit government.

Some of the former communists who took up arms and fled into the jungle in the 1970s and 1980s eventually entered Thaksin’s inner circle between 2001 and 2006, when the billionaire was prime minister. These include Prommin Lertsuridej, Phumtham Wechayachai, Sutham Saengprathum, Phinit Jarusombat, Adisorn Piangket, and Kriangkamon Laohapairot. Since then, the UDD has rallied around its “patron,” who was ousted in a 2006 military coup and later fled Thailand to avoid a two-year jail sentence related to a corruption conviction. “Thaksin,” reports Barnes, “has since cajoled UDD supporters to rise up and topple the government through various video-linked phone-in addresses.”

UDD organizer Jaran Dittapichai told Barnes that Red Shirt leaders have adopted “Mao Zedong’s method of thinking” and some of his techniques, including the establishment of a united front. In the same breath, Dittapichai insists that he has abandoned communism even though he espouses its objectives, tactics, and rhetoric: “I was a communist and several UDD leaders were former communists . . . but the red shirt people don’t like communism or socialism. We use his principles to build up our front and to work with people who are not red shirts, but who are fighting for democracy like us.”

Beginning in mid-March, Red Shirt leaders moved their rent-a-mob into the streets of Bangkok. There they demanded the dissolution of parliament and new elections that they hoped would be won by the newest political vehicle for Thaksin’s restoration, the Puea Thai Party.

“Tensions spiked violently on April 10,” relates Barnes, “when a routine crowd clearance operation turned into a nightmare of bloodshed.” He continues: “Mysterious commandos, clad in black and circulating freely through the red shirt protesters, used M79 grenades to attack tactical army commanders, killing a highly respected colonel and maiming others.” In the melee that followed, 25 protesters and solders were killed and over 800 people injured. Coincident with the UDD’s protest has been a series of anonymous grenade attacks, with over 50 incidents in Bangkok and at least 30 more across the country since mid-March.

According to Therdpoum, the Red Shirt movement consists of “many passive supporters, many active ones and, now, a hand-picked core of ‘professional revolutionaries’ chosen for their loyalty and street smarts.” He then partly lifts the veil from the movement’s revolutionary strategy: “Behind them are many ‘deep secrets and hidden messages’ that are revealed to only a privileged few in the movement, while an even smaller number know the entire strategy.” Therdpoum gloated: “Old communists know that when it comes to revolution, ignorance is much more powerful than knowledge.”

Therdpoum admits to Barnes that the black-clad commandos constitute the UDD’s “shadowy armed wing” but feigns ignorance with respect to their true identity: “Whether the UDD’s shadowy armed wing consists of mafia thugs, unemployed irregulars or disaffected regular soldiers, they must be capable of ruthless and focused violence.”

Therdpoum, Barnes writes, believes that the UDD’s left wing is using Thaksin in a marriage of political convenience and intends to “dump his personal agenda in favor of the establishment of a more socialist society.” Indeed, as past revolutionary seizures attest, like the fall of Czechoslovakia to communism in 1948, communists will not hesitate to establish political alliances with non-communists, according to the united front principle, to springboard into total power.

Since the 1970s Thailand has been surrounded by Communist Bloc states, including Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, not to mention Burma/Myanmar. Now the pro-Western regime in Bangkok faces a powerful internal enemy consisting of “ex”-cadres of the Communist Party of Thailand financed by billionaire businessman-turned-socialist Thaksin Shinawatra.

>Middle East File: Marxist secessionists ambush Yemeni deputy PM, kill two security escorts in S. province; Saleh regime cracks down on opposition

>Last weekend gunmen associated with Yemen’s secessionist Southern Movement ambushed the convoy of Rashad al-Alami, Deputy Prime Minister for Defence and Security. The deputy PM survived, but two of his security escorts were killed, the Yemeni Interior Ministry informed Red China’s Xinhua news agency. Pictured above: On May 15 Yemeni soldiers provide security for President Ali Abdullah Saleh along the road to Zinjibar, in the southern part of this Arabian country.

According to the Yemeni government, the shoot out took place last Saturday in the town of al-Habilain, in the southern province of Lahj, as the convoy traveled from Aden to Sanaa, the national capital. When Aden was the capital of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, the port city hosted a Soviet naval base.

Northern and southern Yemen were unified 20 years ago according to a deal between President Saleh’s General People’s Congress and the Moscow-backed Yemeni Socialist Party. However, the deal fell apart, leading in 1994 to a brief civil war that the “ex”-communists lost. Since 2007 Yemen’s “former” Marxists have ramped up their agitation for “disengagement” from the north and restoration of the southern state. The old PDRY flag has become a banner around which Yemen’s “ex”-communists are rallying, while Aden’s oil refinery offers the prospect of economic self-sufficiency.

On April 28 Yemeni security forces dispersed a joint demonstration by the country’s opposition parties in Lahj. Abdullah Bamatraf, executive director of the Islah Party in Lahj, told News Yemen that Saleh’s henchmen tried to storm the party’s office in al-Huta. Under the umbrella of the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), the Islah Party, Yemeni Socialist Party, Nasserite Unionist People’s Organization, Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and Al-Haq Party have organized demonstrations in both the northern and southern provinces. There the JMP has railed against Saleh’s “failed policies that have led to a horrible economic crisis in the country.”

In 2008 Moscow again expressed an interest in reactivating its naval base in Yemen, dispatching Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov to hold talks with Saleh’s government. Saleh is not a communist, but he is a reliable Soviet ally who continues to buy Russian-built military hardware.

In February the Saleh regime negotiated a peaceful end to the six-year, Iran-backed Shia Muslim insurgency in northern Yemen, a conflict that provoked a military response from Saudi Arabia against the rebels. Yemen is the ancestral home of Soviet/Russian terrorist proxy Osama bin Laden who, almost nine years after the 911 terrorist attacks, is still hiding out somewhere in Iran or along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

>Latin America File: Nicaraguan opposition calls for “general rebellion” against Ortega; Cuban state media defends Sandinistas, denounces Aleman

>Nicaragua’s fragile, 20-year-old democracy is tanking under the leadership of Daniel Ortega, a slavish KGB asset who returned from political oblivion in 2006 to again masquerade as the country’s president. Opposition leaders are calling for “civil disobedience” and “general rebellion” against the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). This follows the latest rulings by the Supreme Court, which is controlled by judges who sympathize with President Ortega, two of whom refuse to hand in their gavels after their terms expired on April 11.

Pictured above: On May 13 Ortega hosted deposed Honduran president Manuel Zelaya in Managua, where they promoted a new plan to end Zelaya’s exile and reintegrate Honduras into the Organization of American States. Afterward, Zelaya flew to Havana where he consulted with Cuban dictator Raul Castro. Last summer, after his ouster in Tegucigalpa, the Nicaraguan capital served as a base of operations for Zelaya. In March Hugo Chavez appointed Zelaya head of Petrocaribe’s Political Council.

On May 12 the Supreme Court nullified an April 20 congressional session held inside the Holiday Inn in Managua–while Sandinista thugs fired mortars at the hotel–and revoked the legal immunity enjoyed by seven opposition lawmakers who sit on the National Assembly’s Judicial Affairs Commission. The opposition responded by condemning the Supreme Court’s decision as another “illegal barbarity” and “shameful disrespect for the constitution.”

During the extraordinary session, the National Assembly deputies, who achieved quorum without their FSLN colleagues being present, introduced a bill to the commission to overturn Ortega’s January 9 executive order that extended the terms of 25 top judicial and executive officials. The Sandinista judges had passed a separate resolution earlier in April forbidding the National Assembly from overturning Ortega’s decree. The opposition, however, argues the court has no legal right to forbid the assembly from passing laws and, thus, went ahead and presented the bill.

From the perspective of José Pallaís, president of the Judicial Affairs Commission and a member of the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC), everything that the Sandinistas are doing is flagrantly illegal. “There is no rule of law here anymore! Everything has become absurd and totally contrary to the law! The only thing left is the right to rebellion!” Pallaís declared to the Costa Rica-based Nica Times last Wednesday.

Meanwhile, unrest has returned to the streets of the capital and to the campus of the National Autonomous University of Managua (UNAN), which masked “students” have occupied for the past week. On May 11 what appeared to be two rival factions of the Sandinista Youth clashed on the streets outside the university with rocks, home-made mortars, and pistols. Several students were injured during the fighting, including one who was pistol-whipped by another student. The latter, in turn, was captured by TV cameras pointing his gun in the faces of other students. As usual, the National Police did nothing to intervene, claiming that the university’s autonomy prevents them from acting.

Lately, the US embassy in Managua has issued at least two alerts to its citizens to stay clear of the district around UNAN, to “maintain a high level of security awareness, and to avoid large crowds due to the potential for violence.”

Last Thursday National Assembly secretary Wilfredo Navarro boldly declared: “We are ready to become the first political prisoners of the second Ortega dictatorship. They are going to have to put us in jail or kill us, because that’s all that’s left for them to do. Ortega keeps saying this is not a dictatorship because there are no political prisoners. So it would be an honor to be the first.”

In response to Sandinista Supreme Court judge Francisco Rosales, who described the opposition’s Holiday Inn session as a “flagrant crime,” Navarro protested: “This is an outrage. The clause about flagrant crimes no longer exists in the constitution.” According to Navarro, Rosales appears to be referring to the old constitution that existed during the first Sandinista regime in the 1980s. That constitution was amended in 1995 so that a legislator’s immunity can be lifted only by the National Assembly itself.

Although Ortega has yet to formally announce his candidacy in the 2011 presidential election, La Voz del Sandinismo is already peddling public opinion figures that supposedly show substantial support for Nicaragua’s past/present Marxist dictator. According to the official organ of the FLSN, citing a New Century poll from May 8, 44 percent of respondents would vote for “El Comandante” or another FLSN candidate, even though only 38 percent of the electorate chose Ortega in 2006. New Century also polled the army and the police. Nearly 65 percent of soldiers held a “very favourable” or “favourable” opinion of the Sandinistas, while 61 percent of police held the same views.

The Cuban state media is making no secret about its support for the Sandinistas. In an editorial at Prensa Latina, propagandist Alfredo Pierrat defends the Nicaraguan Supreme Court’s unconstitutional machinations, accuses the PLC of “paralyzing” the government’s business and of refusing to accept “political alternation,” and charges former President Arnoldo (“Fasto”) Aleman, who was once allied with Ortega in “El Pacto,” and the Roman Catholic Church of fomenting political chaos to oust the FSLN.

Will Vice President Jaime Morales Carazo, a former Contra, join Pallaís and Navarro in the rebellion?

Will Ortega cling to power by attributing provocations to the opposition, declaring a state of emergency, and trying to illegally run in next year’s election?

Will Hugo Chavez, obediently following orders from his masters in Moscow, funnel more petro-bucks into Nicaragua, via ALBA front companies, to prop up beleaguered ally Ortega?

Will the Russians offer verbal or more substantial support to Ortega who, along with Venezuela and Nauru, has recognized the independence of Georgia’s breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia?

One thing is sure: As long as the Sandinistas control Nicaragua, this country serves as an important beachhead for Soviet subversion and war preps in Central America. Russia’s KGB-communist dictator Vladimir Putin has a strategic interest in keeping Ortega in power.

>End Times File: Turkey installs anti-aircraft batteries near southern border to deter US, Israeli attack against Iran, Syria; Magog’s Cossack troops

>According to a Turkish newspaper, Ankara, which hosted Russian President Dmitry Medvedev earlier this week, has installed Hawk anti-aircraft batteries in Kayeel, a village close to the Syrian border, with the intent of deterring the US and Israeli air forces from violating Turkish airspace in case Jerusalem decides to attack Iran or Syria. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Turkish military official stated that the batteries will protect NATO state Turkey and its airspace against any such incursions.

Prior to meeting with the Turkish president and prime minister, Medvedev also flew to Damascus where he conferred with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Hamas’ exiled political leader Khaled Mashaal. This is the first time any incumbent Soviet/Russian leader has ever travelled to Syria, demonstrating the strategic premium Moscow places on its relationship with the terrorist state of Syria. Hamas leaders were invited to Moscow in 2006.

The Israeli media also reports that Russia may help its long-time proxy state build a nuclear reactor. This possibility prompted the US State Department to remind both countries of their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In September 2007 the Israeli Air Force bombed a site in eastern Syria, which Washington later claimed was an installation tasked with assembling an atomic bomb with material aid from North Korea.

Although independent confirmation has yet to emerge, according to the BeforeItsNews blog, during their Damascus tete-a-tete, Medvedev warned Assad that Russia and the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have given Israel a “green light” to use nuclear weapons in any future war with Syria.

The Russian President made it clear for Bashar Assad that Russia had given Israel a green light to do so if Israel will refrain from risking the Middle East oil fields. Moreover, Russian President Medvedev made it clear that currently there is a silent agreement between the major powers, Russia, USA, France, Britain and Germany, and Israel, that in a Total war, Israel will get all the breathing space it will need to Overpower the Arab world.

We find this report, which portrays Israel as aggressor, somewhat unlikely in view of the well-established strategic partnership between Moscow and Damascus and the Russian Navy’s renewed presence at Tartus. On the other hand, the Soviet strategists at some point may goad Israel into attacking Syria and Iran in order to justify a punishing counter-attack. If this scenario plays out, then the world is on the verge of witnessing the fulfilment of Ezekiel’s Magog and Isaiah’s “destruction of Damascus” prophecies.

Along this theme, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to soldiers during a tour of the Israeli Defense Forces’ Northern Command this past Tuesday, asserted that Iran is trying to provoke war between Israel and Syria. “We want security, stability and peace,” Netanyahu stressed. “Israel has no intention of attacking its neighbors, contrary to false rumors which have been spread on the subject.” With respect to Medvedev’s overtures to enhance Moscow’s peace-making profile in the Middle East, the Israeli leader commented: “Israel will give its blessing to any contribution to advance peace, as well as any practical steps taken by our neighbors, including Syria, that lead to calm in the region and the start of a peace process.”

Certainly, the new defence pact between Iran and Syria, the new partnership between Syria and Turkey, which has included joint military drills, and Turkey’s post-Cold War alliance with Russia demonstrate–as Christians would acknowledge–that Bible prophecy is unerringly accurate. The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel describes a vast military coalition that will invade Israel in the end times, after the return of the Jews to their homeland (chapters 38 and 39). In this prophecy Russia is referred to as Magog, Turkey is Togarmah, and Iran is Persia, a name used until as recently as the early 20th century. Libya is also involved under its ancient name.

Significantly, Ezekiel does not mention Syria, but this could be that Damascus, the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city, has already been turned into a “glass parking lot” by an Israeli nuke, per Isaiah’s prophecy (chapter 17). By considering all of the relevant Bible verses, it appears that this attempt to annihilate the Jewish state will take place during the early days of the seven-year tribulation period.

The Palestinian Arabs appear in end-times Bible prophecy, too, under the guise of the Philistines, Israel’s ancient enemies. Indeed, the official name of the Palestinian National Authority is As-Sulta Al-Wataniyya Al-Filastīniyya. Gaza is mentioned by name in both Amos 1 and Zephaniah 2.

Incidentally, Christians who disbelieve in a literal, future fulfilment of the Magog invasion of Israel due to the listing of ancient weaponry in the prophecy—shields, bows, arrows, and spears—should consider the fact that in 2005 KGB-communist dictator Vladimir Putin integrated the horse-mounted, sword-wielding Cossacks into Russia’s military (pictured above). Standard histories of the Cossacks reveal that these proud Russian warrior clans use all of the weapons listed by Ezekiel. Furthermore, since the collapse of the Soviet Union the Cossacks have fought side by side with the Russian Armed Forces in Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Chechnya, and Kosovo.

In any case, the Holy Spirit gave the Magog revelation to Ezekiel in terms that he understood as a man living in the sixth century BC. Obviously, God’s prophet possessed no personal acquaintance with modern weapons such as ballistic missiles, jet fighters, and tanks. Actually, there’s nothing in Ezekiel’s Magog prophecy that absolutely excludes the use of modern warfare in the Magog invasion of Israel.

Israel’s close relationship with Georgia prior to the Russian re-invasion/re-occupation in August 2008 was in large part spurred by Jerusalem’s interest in using Georgian airspace to launch air raids against Iran’s nuclear reactors. Georgia also has a substantial Jewish community. Both factors irked the anti-Semitic leadership of Russia, which has traditionally sided with the Arabs. While it is true that anti-Zionist Jews were prominent among the early Bolshevik leaders, like foreign affairs commissar Leon Trotsky and NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda, Jews were largely purged from the communist hierarchy by the time Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin concocted the so-called “Jewish Doctors’ Plot.”

Finally, it should be observed that some of the political-military figures mentioned in end-times Bible prophecy may be on the world stage too. For example, the Caucasus Mountains, where Georgia is located, literally means “Gog’s Fortress.” Is Putin, whose troops occupy the “former” Soviet republic, “Gog,” “chief prince of Meshech and Tubal [Tobolsk or Tbilisi]”?

In 2008 more than 200 tribal chiefs from Africa hailed eccentric Libyan strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi, who recently served as head of the African Union (AU), as “King of Kings,” a title reserved in the Bible for Jesus Christ. At the AU summit in Addis Ababa this past February, a tribal chief compared Qaddafi to “the prophets of the Bible or the Koran,” and exhorted the heads of state present to “follow the Guide who is showing us the way.” Is long-time Soviet ally Qaddafi “King of the South” (Daniel 11)? Or possibly, as some Bible prophecy enthusiasts suggest, the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak? The world will find out these details soon enough.

>Latin America/USA Files: Russian Duma VP, Zyuganov henchman visits Cuba, meets Castro; Kremlin media: N. Korean commandos blew up Deepwater Horizon

>Soviet-Cuban relations appeared to lapse during the 1990s, picking up somewhat with Vladimir Putin’s official trip to the island in 2000. Coincidentally or not, this visit occurred only one year before Moscow closed down its electronic eavesdropping base in Lourdes (Google cache), a facility in the suburbs of Havana that may have provided air traffic data to Mohammad Atta and his 911 skyjackers.

Over the past two years Moscow has intensified its contacts with Havana. Current Russian President Dmitry Medvedev showed up in Havana in 2008, while Cuban counterpart Raul Castro reciprocated the visit by trekking to Moscow last year. High-level military exchanges, including the top generals of both countries, Nikolai Makarov and Alvaro Lopez Miera, have also taken place.

Nearly 20 years after the Cold War supposedly ended, therefore, Cuba is still Russia’s most important strategic partner in Latin America, followed very closely by “new communist on the bloc,” Hugo Chavez, and compliant KGB asset Daniel Ortega. Moscow has also intensified military and economic linkages with the far-left governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Guyana, and the center-left governments of Brazil, Argentina, and Guatemala. The Soviet strategists have even made overtures to Mexico, offering to help President Felipe Calderon crush that country’s out-of-control drug cartels, themselves armed by the Russian Mafia.

Today, reports Cuba’s state media, President Castro received the vice president of the Russian State Duma, Ivan Melnikov, who, not surprisingly, is also vice chairman of the (secretly ruling) Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Comrade Melnikov teaches at Moscow State University and heads up the Duma’s education committee, which means an open communist controls Russia’s education system. Melnikov is Gennady Zyuganov’s second-in-command in the CPRF. Chairman Zyuganov lately urged the Putinist regime to display pics of “Uncle Joe” Stalin throughout Moscow in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazism.

Incidentally, the CPRF holds the second largest number of seats in Russia’s rubberstamp parliament, after (putatively ruling) United Russia, itself founded and controlled by “ex”-cadres of the (supposedly defunct) Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In regional elections this past March the CPRF made long-anticipated electoral gains at the expense of potemkin United Russia.

Melnikov and Castro discussed “current international affairs” and praised the “excellent state” of bilateral relations between Cuba and Russia. Commerce between the long-time allies amounted to US$400 million in 2009, while Moscow granted Havana more than US$350 million in trade credits. Also attending this communist conclave were Cuban parliament speaker Ricardo Alarcon and Russia’s ambassador to Cuba, Mikhail Kamynin.

In what might be a related story, but which sounds like the plot from a James Bond thriller, the Kremlin media contends that North Korean commandos blew up the Deepwater Horizon platform in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20. This semi-submersible offshore drilling rig, which sank 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana with the loss of 11 crew, was built in South Korea in 2001, owned by Transocean and operated by British Petroleum. According to the European Union Times, citing a report allegedly produced by the Russian Navy:

The North Korean “cargo vessel” Dai Hong Dan believed to be staffed by 17th Sniper Corps “suicide” troops left Cuba’s Empresa Terminales Mambisas de La Habana (Port of Havana) on April 18th whereupon it “severely deviated” from its intended course for Venezuela’s Puerto Cabello bringing it to within 209 kilometers (130 miles) of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform which was located 80 kilometers (50 miles) off the coast of the US State of Louisiana where it launched an SSC Sang-o Class Mini Submarine (Yugo class) estimated to have an operational range of 321 kilometers (200 miles).

On the night of April 20th the North Korean Mini Submarine manned by these “suicidal” 17th Sniper Corps soldiers attacked the Deepwater Horizon with what are believed to be 2 incendiary torpedoes causing a massive explosion and resulting in 11 workers on this giant oil rig being killed outright.

Is this conspiracy theory true? We have no idea. Is it more Soviet disinformation, designed to enflame tensions between the USA and Communist North Korea? Maybe. The Dai Hong Dan is in fact a North Korean cargo ship that was hijacked by Somali pirates in October 2007. Furthermore, Seoul has determined that the March 26 explosion that sank the Cheonan warship in waters disputed with Pyongyang was caused by an “external explosion,” possibly a North Korean torpedo or mine. Forty-six crewmen perished. However, the Republic of Korea has directed no formal charges against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

If the Kremlin media were honest, perhaps it would admit that Spetsnaz frogmen blew up the Deepwater Horizon. After all, Russia intends to start drilling for oil in Cuban waters. Communists, of course, don’t like competition. With some smugness, no doubt, Moscow, according to the US State Department, has offered technical assistance in cleaning up the oil spill that resulted from the destruction of Deepwater Horizon.

>Communist Bloc Military Updates: Moscow’s top space officials arrive in French Guiana, delay Soyuz launch; Russian cruisers hold drill in Indian Ocean

>On Tuesday, Anatoly Perminov, chief of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, arrived at the Kourou space center in French Guiana to oversee preparations for the first launch of a Soyuz-ST carrier rocket. During his visit, Perminov will meet with European Space Agency director-general Jean-Jacques Dordain and officials of the French space agency, CNES.

Sections of two Soyuz-STs were shipped from St. Petersburg to France’s South American department in November 2009. The April deadline for the launch, however, came and went. Russian, EU, and French space officials are now uncertain when this will take place, confiding only that the rocket will certainly blast off by the end of 2010.

Two years ago Roscosmos and French satellite launch firm Arianespace inked a contract to launch 10 Russian Soyuz-STs from Kourou, with two launches specifically slated for 2010. However, according to Arianespace Chairman/CEO Jean Yves le Galle, only one Soyuz launch will be held this year, to deliver the Hylas-1 commercial satellite into orbit. The second Russian launch from Kourou, he explains, is not expected by year’s end.

In any event, Perminov will inspect the Soyuz-ST assembly facility at Kourou and the launch pad of Ariane-5, the main EU-built booster. Sergei Ivanov, deputy prime minister in charge of Russia’s aerospace and defense industries, is expected to join Perminov for a working visit.

Russia’s new spaceport in French Guiana is intended mainly for the launch of heavier, geosynchronous satellites, which are ideally launched from an equatorial region. Until now Russia was restricted to using two spaceports, the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which Moscow rents from the “former” Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, and the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northwest Russia. Constructed in 1955, Baikonur is the world’s oldest, continuously operating rocket base.

French Guiana offers the Soviet strategists a potential platform from which to lob nukes at the Continental USA from an unexpected direction. This may be one reason why they have wooed France and the European Union into Moscow’s sphere of influence. French Guiana, which is located among South America’s “northern tier” countries, is close to Soviet ally Venezuela. No one at the Pentagon, which is now effectively committed to unilateral nuclear disarmament under the Obama Admin, seems be considering this threat.

On the other side of the world, in the eastern Indian Ocean, the Russian Navy, although a shadow of its Soviet-era strength, is re-projecting its influence. This past week, two warships, the Northern Fleet’s Peter the Great battlecruiser and the Black Sea Fleet’s guided missile cruiser Moskva, carried out a drill that included repelling enemy airstrikes. The US-British naval base at Diego Garcia is located in the central Indian Ocean.

Rebuilding Russian naval power, with Borei-class ballistic missile submarines and multiple carrier strike forces, is a top priority for the Moscow Leninists, but will take some years to realize, even with enough money. The first of four Borei-class subs, Yury Dolgoruky, is currently undergoing sea trials. The Russian Navy is also committed to purchasing a Mistral-class amphibious assault ship from errant NATO member France and building three more under license. The latter prospect greatly worries former communist states like Poland and the Baltic republics.

Earlier today, Japanese and South Korean jets intercepted two Russian Bear bombers and their multirole fighter escort over the Sea of Japan. The Russian military aircraft were en route to the Pacific Ocean to conduct exercises.

>End Times File: Medvedev visits Damascus in first-ever visit for Soviet leader to Syria, meets Assad, Hamas leader; next stop: NATO state Turkey

>Fresh from hosting the Chinese president, German chancellor, and US/NATO troops at the Kremlin’s Victory in Europe celebration on May 9, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev flew to Damascus on Monday in the first-ever visit to Syria for a Soviet/Russian head of state. During his two-day official stopover, Medvedev will confer with Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, on the subject of Middle East peace. That elusive beast, however, will not be found until, according to Daniel’s prophecy in the Old Testament, the Antichrist steps onto the world stage and imposes a brief, false peace on the region.

Medvedev and Assad will also discuss Iran’s (Russian-built) nuclear program; the political situations in Iraq, where Tehran-sponsored insurgents seek to topple the US-backed government, and Lebanon, where the political party/terrorist army Hezbollah holds a dominant position in the government; and Soviet-Syrian relations in the fields of energy and economic cooperation.

Russia has revitalized its Soviet-era naval base at the Syrian port of Tartus and reportedly sold Iskander missile batteries to Damascus. These offensive weapons can easily reach Syria’s mortal enemy Israel, which share a common but disputed border on the Golan Heights.

In remarks to reporters after a closed-door meeting with the Russian president, Assad stated that: “Thousands of Syrians have studied in great Russian universities and come back to contribute to building their homeland, and thousands of Russian technicians have come to Syria to help build infrastructure for dams, roads and factories.”

Significantly, reports Novosti, Medvedev and Assad also met with Hamas’ Damascus-based political leader Khaled Mashaal. Hamas is the Palestinian terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip and one of many unholy offspring of the Kremlin’s international terrorist network.

On Wednesday, Medvedev flew to Ankara, where he met Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul (pictured here) and Prime Minister Recep Erdogan for the purpose of discussing energy relations. Reuters reports that Moscow and Ankara have signed a US$20 billion deal to build a nuclear power plant with four reactors in Turkey. Russian nuclear agency chief Sergei Kiriyenko explained that Atomstroiexport will lead construction of the plant on Turkey’s southern coast.

Although Turkey is a member of NATO and was putatively anti-communist in the Cold War, since the fake demise of communism in Russia, Ankara has cozied up to Moscow, to the point of buying military hardware from and holding joint naval exercises with Russia. Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party is pro-Islamic and anti-Israel. Over the past year, Turkey has deepened its alliance not only with Russia, but also with Syria, having carried out two joint military drills with Damascus, much to the disconcertment of Israel’s rightist government.

Moscow places a strategic premium on its relations with the Islamic world, knowing that the Islamo-socialist regimes that predominate in North Africa and the Middle East would rejoice to witness the destruction of America’s chief ally in the region. From the vantage of Bible prophecy, the end-times, Russian-led military coalition that will invade the Jewish state during the first part of Daniel’s 70th week–only to be supernaturally defeated by God–is fast-coalescing before our eyes.

>Latin America File: Ortega buys votes, army loyalty with ALBA cash; Caracas exports petro-communism to Caribbean; Ecuador to seize foreign oil ops

>This is very important, not just for the Dominican Republic but also for Venezuela because it puts us in the heart of the Caribbean.
— Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, statement made in Caracas on May 4, 2010

The latest headlines reveal that petro-communist thug Hugo Chavez continues to export his revolutionary socialism and strategically prop up kindred regimes in Central America, like Nicaragua, and the Caribbean Basin, like Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

On May 1, on the occasion of International Workers’ Day, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, under the banner of “Christianity, Socialism, and Solidarity,” announced the implementation of a pay raise, amounting to US$25 per month, for every soldier, police officer, and civil servant. Although Ortega did not explain how the bonuses, totalling US$27 million, will be financed, he indicated that state workers should be grateful to the Havana/Caracas-led Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA). International Workers’ Day is the commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago.

With a nod toward the glib liberation theology that also animates red buddies Chavez and Rafael Correa, Ortega enthused: “In the spirit of solidarity, Christianity and socialism that we are cultivating in the hearts of Nicaraguans and cultivating in ALBA, we can multiply bread. When there is faith, there is Christ! When there is faith, there is hope!” Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America.

Since January 2007, when he regained the presidency, Ortega has received almost US$1.1 billion in Venezuelan aid, according to a new report published by the Central Bank of Nicaragua. Ortega and his closest aids tightly handle Nicaragua’s ALBA accounts, so even the country’s central bank can only provide broad and non-itemized statistics about Venezuelan aid.

“This is another example of how Ortega is becoming more like Somoza,” complained Enrique Sáenz, referring to former dictator Anastasio Somoza’s practice of throwing around money to buy votes. “This political practice should have been buried a long time ago,” he added. An economist by profession, Saenz is a member of the dissident grouping called the Sandinista Renovation Movement, which rejects Ortega’s personal leadership over all things Sandinista. “Comandante” Ortega’s Soviet/Cuban-backed Sandinista National Liberation Front overthrew the Somoza regime in 1979.

The Sandinista Popular Army (EPS) was supposedly de-communized in 1995, when General Humberto Ortega, Daniel’s brother, resigned. Since then, all of the country’s top generals have been Sandinistas, including the present one, Julio Aviles. Aviles received military training in Cuba after the Sandinista Revolution and later became chief of Nicaragua’s military intelligence. In response to Ortega’s “generosity,” Aviles offered this fulsome praise for his fellow Sandinista:

I am thankful to the president for his support for the army. This is good news to us and the soldiers. The president has always tried to help us to fulfill our functions. This helped us to maintain a wage scale and to have stability in the personnel of the Army of Nicaragua.

Unlike Aviles, retired general Hugo Torres is not impressed by Ortega’s largesse. Torres is a revolutionary hero who played a major role in professionalizing the EPS following Ortega’s electoral defeat in 1990. “This is a mafia practice,” he declared indignantly, “he’s giving money to soldiers and trying to get them to think of him as the boss who is above the constitution and laws of the land. This is behavior typical of the dictators we have had in the region, from Somoza to [former Dominican strongman Rafael Leonidas] Trujillo.” Last December, however, Torres observed:

I think the army is the most solid institution in the country. All of the other institutions–the Supreme Electoral Council, the judicial system, the Attorney General’s Office, the Comptroller General’s Office, the Human Rights Ombudsman–they are all controlled by Ortega. But the army remains the most solid and the most respected institution in the country.

Torres implies that the Nicaraguan National Army, the EPS’s new name, is somehow beyond Ortega’s grasp, but this is a disingenuous comment as the picture above of Aviles and Ortega clearly shows.

In 2007 Ortega and his paymaster Chavez articulated their intention of forming an “anti-imperialist army” from the militaries of ALBA, which also includes Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, and three Caribbean states. Nicaragua and Venezuela are slated to hold joint military drills in the former country some time this month or next. Nicaragua and Russia are slated to hold joint military drills at an unspecified future date, presumably in Central America. Last month Nicaraguan and other Communist Bloc troops marched through Caracas in commemoration of Venezuela’s 200th anniversary of independence.

Latin America’s leftist leaders proclaim “social justice” for all people, including the region’s indigenous groups. This is especially the case in Bolivia, where the country’s self-avowed Marxist-Leninist president, Evo Morales, is South America’s first self-proclaimed indigenous head of government/state. Morales enjoys political alliances with Ortega, Chavez, and Correa but, ironically, the interests of indigenous peoples in Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Ecuador are either rejected or suppressed.

Indeed, when indigenous people, or any other group for that matter, get in the way of advancing communist programs, racial and class genocide is the order of the day. For instance, in the 1980s the first Sandinista regime attempted to exterminate the Miskito Indians who live in Nicaragua’s Caribbean region. In 2009 the Miskitos proclaimed independence from Managua and declared their intent to secure United Nations recognition, a stance that excited little interest in Managua and virtually no acknowledgment from the international community.

On May 6 Ecuadorean Indian groups stormed the Congress building in Quito to protest the government’s new law that, oddly, in view of President Correa’s socialist orientation, privatizes the country’s water supplies, presumably into the hands of political hacks who support Correa. Hundreds of protesters took part in the demonstration before being pushed back by police using gas and batons. “We have called on our local organizations to join this protest,” Marlon Santi, president of the Indigenous Confederation of Ecuador, told reporters outside Congress, where Correa’s ruling party, the Proud and Sovereign Fatherland Alliance, enjoys a solid majority. He added: “We are not going to move from here until our concerns are clearly addressed.” Some indigenous groups tried to enter the capital on Thursday. When security forces stopped them, they blocked roads with stones and branches.

For his part, Correa called the protest leaders “liars.” “They do not scare me at all,” he ranted, announcing he would organize a march in favor of the water bill. “Water belongs to the indigenous people, but also to the mixed-race people. The water belongs to everyone.”

Following in the footsteps of the kindred regimes in Venezuela and Bolivia, last month Ecuador’s socialist government threatened to nationalize the operations of foreign private oil companies, unless they sign new contracts agreeing to increased state control over the sector. “Every day that passes there are millions of dollars going to these companies that should be going to the Ecuadorean state,” Correa complained during a televised address on April 18. “I’ve run out of patience,” he blurted, adding: “We are sending a bill to Congress that would allow for the expropriation of oil fields if the companies not want to sign the new contracts.” Spain’s Repsol, Brazil’s Petrobras, Chinese consortium Andes Petroleum, and Italy’s Eni presently operate in the Andean country.

“The government’s rhetoric is driven by its need to raise revenue and reduce its deficits. But a nationalization of private oil assets in Ecuador is probably not imminent,” opined Gary Kleiman, a Washington-based emerging markets consultant. Correa severed Ecuador from international capital markets in 2008 defaulted when his government defaulted on US$3.2 billion in bonds.

Along the same theme, Venezuela’s state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), which is bankrolling Chavez’s communist revolution domestically and abroad, agreed on May 5 to buy a 49% stake in the Dominican Republic’s Refidomsa refinery, which processes 34,000 barrels of oil per day. Venezuela is already a major supplier of crude oil to Santo Domingo. The purchase of such a large stake in Refidomsa will allow Caracas to expand its role as a supplier of fuel via Petrocaribe. The agreement was signed during a visit to the Dominican Republic by Chavez and PDVSA chief, Rafael Ramirez, an ardent communist like his boss.

“This is very important, not just for the Dominican Republic but also for Venezuela because it puts us in the heart of the Caribbean,” Chavez confided on May 4, the day before he flew to Santo Domingo. With an eye toward “helping” quake-ravaged Haiti, he added: “It will allow us to ship our petroleum for refining and distribution, not just within the Dominican market, but also throughout the Caribbean’s central market.” Prior to finalizing the transaction, Chavez also consulted with his compliant lackey, Manuel Zelaya, the former Honduran president who dragged his country into a short-lived partnership with ALBA. Earlier this year, Chavez appointed Zelaya as head of Petrocaribe’s “Political Bureau.”

Finally, an unusual development has taken place in the strategically important country of Panama. On May 1 Panamanian counter-narcotics police discovered an arsenal of 47 assault rifles, 24 machine pistols, 4,000 grenades and grenade-style munitions, and nearly 500,000 rounds of ammunition at the home of a Guatemalan-born sociology professor. Vinicio Jimenez, who teaches at Chiriqui Regional University, was arrested following the raid on his residence. Chiriqui is a province that borders Costa Rica. Panamanian police have made no comment concerning Jimenez’s political affiliation or why his home contained enough firepower to launch a small insurgency.

Such discoveries of illicit arms are rare in Panama, but Guatemala is home to violent street gangs, like Mara Salvatrucha, and serves as a conduit for the Latin American cocaine trade. Lately, operatives of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel have been detected in Panama.

Incidentally, a number of communist parties operate in Panama, including the People’s Party of Panama, which is the country’s oldest Marxist party and supported Omar Torrijos’ military regime in the 1970s; Socialist Workers’ Front (Marxist-Leninist) (FOS (ML)), which split from the PPP in 1973; Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) of Panama, which split from the FOS (ML) in 1980; and November 29 National Liberation Movement (MLN-29), a small, still-active guerrilla army that has links with the ruling parties of Nicaragua and El Salvador, that is, the FSLN and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front. The MLN-29 opposed the US invasion in December 1989. We have no evidence linking the good professor Jimenez to these subversive groups.

>Buncha Commies Corner: US, UK, French and Polish troops join Russian counterparts in VE celebration, strategic bombers buzz Red Square

>In another hair-tearing example of communist-scripted East-West convergence, yesterday US, British, French, and Polish troops joined 10,500 Russian counterparts in the Kremlin’s observance of the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe, sometimes known as “VE Day” in the West. Your resident blogger has a personal interest in VE Day since my father, now on the verge of retirement, was born in the United Kingdom on the last day of the European war.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the friendly face of the secretly ruling Communist Party of the Soviet Union, hosted several foreign dignitaries at the Red Square march-past, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who as a girl was raised in East Germany, and Chinese President Hu Jintao. The Federal Republic of Germany and the People’s Republic of China are two of Russia’s most important “strategic partners” in Europe and Asia, respectively. Russia’s KGB-communist dictator, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, lurked in the review stand (pictured above).

A Russian color guard bearing the country’s “post”-communist tricolor flag and the hammer-and-sickle-emblazoned Victory Banner, which Soviet troops raised on the German Reichstag in Berlin 65 years ago, kicked off the parade (pictured here). In 2007 the Russian State Duma restored the Victory Banner as the Russian Ground Forces’ official flag, a little hint to the West that communism is not yet dead and buried in Moscow.

Predictably, reports Voice of America, in his obligatory presidential remarks, Medvedev blathered about “the need for international cooperation to prevent war.” He stated that “modern threats can only be opposed together,” adding that “the problems of global security can only be resolved on the basis of neighborly relations so that the ideals of justice and goodness may triumph throughout the world.” In view of the Kremlin’s obvious role in the demise of Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski and that country’s top generals last month, one is forced to question Moscow’s commitment to “ideals of justice and goodness.” Apparently, as evidenced by the presence of NATO troops in Red Square, the North Atlantic alliance’s political-military leadership is not asking that all-important question.

In an interview with VOA, US Army Captain Matthew Strand imparted a positive spin to NATO’s participation in Moscow’s re-enactment of the Allied Powers’ victory over Nazism. Strand, whose 90-year-old grandfather was a pilot during the war, gushed: “Every time my grandpa meets a veteran from World War Two, even if he doesn’t know him, the second he meets him, they automatically have something in common. And just by me having a grandfather that was in it, I have something in common with the veterans I meet here in Russia.” Strand, who is no doubt sincere, is an unwitting player in the Soviet deception strategy. Strand commanded the US military unit that participated in the Kremlin’s anti-Nazi production, the 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment.

Russia’s open communists were not pleased by the presence of NATO troops on their turf. According to a recent public opinion poll by the independent Levada Center, eight percent of Russians, mostly communists and nationalists, expressed “strong opposition” to the foreign presence in the parade. Russia’s communists ranted, “No NATO boots on Red Square.” However, more than half of the Russians surveyed approved of NATO participation which, of course, supports the Kremlin preferred line vis-a-vis East-West convergence.

Just in case the West does not follow the “path of peace,” the neo-Soviet leadership reminded the world that in addition to the WW2-vintage T-34 Soviet tanks that led the parade of military hardware, the Kremlin also possesses an array of modern weapons, including road-mobile long-range missiles, helicopter gunships, fourth-generation fighters, and aging but still dangerous nuclear bombers. Pictured above: In this Red Square fly-over, a Tu-95 Bear bomber is preceded by an Il-78 Midas aerial tanker and accompanied by Su-24 Fencer fighter-bombers (rear) and Yak-130 trainers (right and left).

Long-time Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, in collaboration with communist party boss Gennady Zyuganov, proposed that the Victory Day celebrations include public displays of posters of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Anxious to soothe strained relations with Poland, the Kremlin prohibited the decision, backing its recent decision to release documents admitting Stalin issued the orders leading to the massacre of more than 20,000 Polish military officers in 1940.

As a sidenote, your resident blogger is presently reading The Black Book of Communism, which exposed this truth back in 1997. Compiled by European academics, some former communists, this massive narrative chronicles the “class genocide” commited by communist regimes in the 20th century.

Viktor Kremenyuk, a political analyst at the venerable KGB think tank known as the Institute for US and Canadian Studies, commented that “Stalin weakened the country, having eliminated some of its best military leaders three years before the German invasion.” Apparently, “de-Stalinization” is still in vogue in Moscow since the neo-Soviet leadership is not quite ready to pounce on the West and must maintain the pretense of being a potential partner for NATO.

>Latin America File: Colombian fishermen: Nicaraguan Navy used subterfuge to intercept, board, and commandeer their boats in disputed waters

>– Startling October 2008 Article from Nicaragua Today Warns that Caracas and Managua Plan to Orchestrate Maritime Confrontation between Nicaragua and Colombia, Foment Regional War, Draw Russia into Fray

– Chavez Hints of War if Colombian Presidential Candidate Santos Elected, Denies Charges of Meddling and Personal Friendship with Santos’ Main Rival, Green Party Leader Mockus

At Once Upon a Time in the West we scour the news behind the headlines to expose Communist Bloc machinations, especially in the Western Hemisphere. Although apparently unconnected to other current events in Latin America, last Friday’s detention of 25 Colombian fishermen by the Nicaraguan Navy could be part of a plot, concocted by Russia and its Latin American proxies, to destabilize US allies in the region.

In follow-up news reports, the Colombian detainees contend that the Nicaraguan military used subterfuge to intercept, board, and commandeer their three boats–Laura Anny, Red Tail, and Daniela M.–in disputed waters around the Caribbean islands of San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina. A popular resort destination, the islands are administered by Colombia, but claimed by Nicaragua.

“Some guys arrived in go-fast boats without any kind of emblems; they turned off the GPS and forced me to move the boat to Nicaragua,” Laura Anny’s engineer, Ulises Serrano, told Bogota daily El Tiempo. “This was a kidnapping, because I was forced to move the boat by night to Nicaragua, against my will,” he elaborated. In an interview with La FM radio Laura Anny captain Antonio Burbano asserted: “They assaulted us because they didn’t ask permission to board. We even thought they were bandits because they arrived and they were boarding the boat.” The Laura Anny and its owner Alejandro Serrano are pictured above.

On Monday the Colombian Foreign Ministry delivered a note of protest to the Nicaraguan government in which it complained that the detention of Laura Anny “constitutes a flagrant violation of the regulations and principles of international law.” The Colombian government affirmed: “An analysis was made of the technical evidence that existed of the interception of the fishing boat, and the illegality of the detention was verified.” The Nicaraguan Navy retorted by maintaining that the Laura Anny and other ships were detained “for illegal fishing in Nicaraguan waters.”

The Honduran government, which is conservative like Colombia’s and with which Tegucigalpa signed a security pact earlier this year, has denounced Nicaragua’s seizure of the Colombian fishing boats. The Nicaraguan military also detained five fishermen from the Cayman Islands.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega first contested Colombian sovereignty over the islands in 1980, the year after his Soviet/Cuban-backed Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) overthrew the US-backed Somoza dynasty. The long-running maritime spat took a legal turn in 2001, when Managua, then under a pro-Washington administration, submitted a lawsuit to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In December 2007 the ICJ affirmed that Colombian sovereignty over San Andres and its companions was legitimately settled by a 1928 treaty signed by both countries.

Undaunted, Ortega, who re-assumed the presidency after a 16-year hiatus, insisted on pressing Nicaragua’s claim to the waters around the islands. In February 2008 Nicaragua sent a formal protest note to Colombia, asserting that a Colombian navy ship intimidated Nicaraguan fishermen in this disputed portion of the Caribbean Sea.

According to an October 22, 2008 article by journalist Robert Escobedo Caicedo, published by Nicaragua Today under the title “Venezuelan Interventions in Nicaragua,” Managua and Caracas are conspiring to provoke war with Colombia and, more ominously, draw Russia into the fray. Escobedo, moreover, contends that Russian special forces units known as the “Vympels” are again training in the sparsely settled jungles of Nicaragua’s Autonomous Region of the Northern Atlantic, as they did in the 1980s. We republished excerpts from Escobedo’s article in a November 2008 post and, for the reader’s reference, do so again below:

Daniel Ortega, during the Vice Prime Minister of Russia’s [Igor Sechin] recent visit to Nicaragua [September 17, 2008], insisted that he urgently needs to renew the obsolete armament of the Sandinista Popular Army [Nicaraguan National Army] and repair its air force, mainly equipped with [Soviet-era] Mi-17 and Mi-24 helicopter gunships. Under the pretext of extension for tourist needs, they [neo-Sandinista government] are reconditioning the airport at Punta Huete, on the other side of Lake Managua, and also improving the runways and equipping with modern control towers the airports at Bluefields and Port Heads, so that they can respond to the military requirements of the countries of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, Russia and Iran.

During the first Sandinista dictatorship (1979-1990) units of the old Red Army finished their training to fight the Afghan guerrillas, in Nicaragua’s Autonomous Region of the Northern Atlantic (RAAN). These elite units were known as “Vympels” and, according to specialized publications, used the Miskito Indians of the region as practice targets. These units are training again in the same region of Caribbean Nicaragua, doing so with the support of Sandinista People’s Army, which has declared that they are being prepared for the inevitable confrontation with Colombia.

Hugo Chavez is using PDVSA to refine, distribute, and commercialize petroleum for the purpose of supporting the FSLN. As a result, he has turned the Sandinista leaders into millionaires and filled their coffers with huge amounts of money. This allows the Sandinistas to bribe deputies of [Nicaragua’s] National Assembly and support an intensive and expensive favorable political propaganda for the aims of Daniel Ortega. They have also bribed the magistrates of the Supreme Electoral Council, where the president of the same, Roberto Rivas, is a personage with no intellectual or moral qualifications.

In the following paragraph, Escobedo contends that the communist leaders of Venezuela and Nicaragua plan to provoke Colombia by orchestrating a confrontation between the Nicaraguan Navy and “ships flying the Colombian flag in the Caribbean Sea.”

The current president of Venezuela, the enemy of the President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, has designed the mechanisms of a military provocation, in collaboration with the Sandinista Popular Army, between Nicaragua and ships flying the Colombian flag in the Caribbean Sea. The regime of Daniel Ortega will then immediately request the military support of the countries subjugated by Hugo Chavez through the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas. This explosive situation coincides with the elections of United States President and those of municipal authorities in Nicaragua.

“Upon formalizing the ‘casus belli,’” concludes Escobedo, “Caracas and Managua will ask for aid from Russia, which under the Putin-Medvedev government is thirsty for adventures and new satellites in the Americas.” Although the Red Axis’ alleged plot did not come to pass 18 months ago, a similar scenario appears to unfolding even now.

Is it merely coincidence that Colombians are marching toward a presidential election on May 30 that pits Uribe’s anointed successor, Juan Manuel Santos, against Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus, who has surged ahead of Santos in public opinion polls?

Is it merely coincidence that, as Uribe’s former defense minister, Santos blessed the military operation that destroyed a FARC camp on Ecuadorean soil in March 2008? Is it merely coincidence that Chavez and his red buddies have hinted about the risk of war with Colombia if Santos is elected?

Is it merely coincidence that Mockus–who is of Lithuanian descent and a former mayor of Bogota–downgraded his April 26 faux pas about “admiring” Chavez to “respecting” the Venezuelan dictator as “democratically elected”? For his part, Chavez insists that he is neither personally acquainted with center-leftist Mockus nor the man’s policies.

Whoever wins the election, will Colombia’s new president fall for this and other Red Axis ruses? Will more provocations follow? Time, of course, will tell, but by then it will be too late for the USA to formulate an effective counter-strategy against Communist Bloc advances.

>Red Dawn Alert: Cuba’s top general arrives in Beijing, follows Moscow visit 2 wks ago; Pentagon: Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Qods Force in Venezuela

>On April 24, General Alvaro Lopez Miera, chief of the general staff of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba (FAR), arrived in Beijing to promote closer cooperation between the militaries of Communist Cuba and Communist China. Lopez will conclude his “goodwill visit” on April 29. Earlier he met Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie (pictured above) and chief of the General Staff of People’s Liberation Army (PLA), General Chen Bingde.

While in Beijing Lopez also met with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is touted as President Hu Jintao’s successor in 2012. “To further develop China-Cuba friendly cooperation not only complies with the fundamental interests of the two countries, but also is of great significance for maintaining world peace and stability and boosting common development,” noted Xi during the meeting. For his part, Lopez expressed his admiration for the People’s Republic of China’s rapid economic and social development in recent years, hoping military ties would further boost cooperation between the two countries.

Apart from Cuba, which received at least three secret arms shipments from Red China in 2001, the PRC does not have an extensive track record of selling arms in Latin America. The main reason for this situation is that during the First Cold War (1945-1991) anti-communist military regimes dominated the region. The political climate in the Western Hemisphere has shifted left since then as Latin America’s revolutionaries dumped their machine guns, donned suit jackets, and burrowed into the political system. Hence, writes Cynthia Watson:

According to a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) National Defense University graduate writing in Military Review, Bolivia, Peru, and Uruguay are all rumored to have purchased aircraft from China such as the 2007 sale of M60s to La Paz as a result of a $35 million line of credit from Beijing [7]. Uruguay has also been interested in J7 aircraft, potentially to wipe out Uruguay’s debt to China. The author also proposes that arms sales ties between China and Brazil, Peru, and Cuba are important aspects of Beijing’s involvement in arming this area of the world.

Venezuela’s acquisition this year of Hongdu JL-8 light attack/trainer jets is a significant step in facilitating Red China’s penetration of the region. While alluding to what is probably a fake “ideological division” between the communist leadership of Mainland China and Cuba, Watson suggests that Beijing will not promote its strategic partnership with Havana at the expense of economic relations with Washington:

Cuba would appear a logical destination for Chinese arms except that the ideological links between these two states have historically proven exceptionally tense rather than easy. Few areas of Latin America draw such a rapid response from Washington, as does Cuba, illustrated by decades of U.S. suspicion over Soviet activities there. Cuba does not have much money to buy arms and Beijing appears reluctant to offer anything to upset Washington with whom China has much more important relations than any that would come from selling arms to Cuba.

We think Watson’s analysis is rather naïve, especially in light of the plan, detailed by Soviet Bloc defectors nearly 30 years ago, for communism’s conquest of the world via strategic deception and the bolstering of communist economies via state-controlled “market socialism” (as in Red China) or FSB/KGB “capitalism” (as in “post”-Soviet Russia).

Watson’s analysis is also rather naïve in view of the hostile espionage conducted by Red China and Cuba against the USA. The trial of accused spies Walter and Gwendolyn Myers, who passed state secrets to Havana for three decades until their arrest in 2009, is a case in point. US federal prosecutors say the Myerses agreed to serve as clandestine agents for Cuba in 1979, after a Cuban contact urged Walter to seek a job with top-secret security clearance at the State Department or the Central Intelligence Agency. Walter chose the former route.

While the PRC is proceeding cautiously into America’s “backyard,” the neo-Soviet state is not hiding its mil-mil ties with Latin America’s Red Axis, especially in Venezuela, which is by far the region’s most reliable purchase of Russian armament, even to the point of hosting Russian military engineers, who are overseeing the construction of two plants to produce Kalashnikov automatic rifles and their clips.

Earlier this month Cuba’s top general showed up in Moscow, reciprocating visits to Havana in the last 18 months by Russia’s political-military elite, including: President Dmitry Medvedev; General Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces; General Alexander Maslov, chief of Russia’s air defense forces; and Vice-Admiral Vladimir I. Koraliov, deputy commander of the Russian Navy’s most powerful fleet, the Northern, based out of Murmansk.

Last September, when he visited a number of military installations in Cuba, Makarov promised to modernize Cuba’s Soviet-built military equipment and offer modern training for the island’s soldiers. “During the Soviet era we delivered a large number of military equipment to Cuba, and after all these years most of this weaponry has become obsolete and needs repairs,” Makarov explained blandly. “We inspected the condition of this equipment, and outlined the measures to be taken to maintain the defense capability of this country…I think a lot of work needs to be done in this respect, and I hope we will be able to accomplish this task.”

Presently, known military relations between Red China and Cuba are largely limited to educational exchange opportunities for officers of the PLA and FAR. Will Red Chinese-Cuban military exercises in the Caribbean Basin emerge from these meetings in the near future? What about Russian-Cuban exercises? The Russian military conducted joint drills with Hugo Chavez’s military in 2008, Moscow has announced its intention to do the same with Nicaragua, while Caracas and Managua are slated to begin joint drills in Nicaragua next month. The last reflects a dream articulated by Chavez and Daniel Ortega to create an “anti-imperialist army” under the auspices of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.

In Eurasia the Shanghai Cooperation Organization offers Moscow and Beijing a venue to hold joint military exercises, unheard of during the Cold War, while the Not-So-Former Soviet republics prepare to confront NATO under the aegis of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Clearly, the Communist Bloc still considers military coordination among member states crucial to defeating the “bourgeois” regimes.

In a related story, General Douglas Fraser, head of the US Southern Command who recently described Venezuela’s “socialist regime” as a threat to regional allies like Colombia, is downplaying a Pentagon report, dispatched to Congress earlier this month, that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps’ elite Qods force had a growing presence in Latin America, particularly Venezuela. The initial report linked the Qods to the bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina in 1994. Ironically, Fraser agrees with Chavez who, while openly consorting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, trashed the Pentagon report.

“We see a growing Iranian interest and engagement with Venezuela. … It’s a diplomatic, it’s a commercial presence. I haven’t seen evidence of a military presence,” Fraser huffed. The US government has accused the Qods force of backing militants in Iraq, Lebanon (Hezbollah), and the Gaza Strip (Hamas). Fraser, however, admitted that Southern Command is concerned about the activities in the Western Hemisphere of Iranian-backed terrorist organizations Hezbollah and Hamas. “Primarily all that we see right now is focused on supporting logistics support, financial support for parent organizations within the Mideast,” he elaborated.

Actually, depending on which branch of dot.gov is in the glare of media spotlights, Washington tends to send mixed signals about the threat posed by the Caracas-Tehran Axis or, for that matter, the Managua-Tehran Axis. In March 2007, two months after Ortega re-assumed the presidency of Nicaragua at a ceremony attended by Ahmadinejad, uniformed Iranian soldiers were reportedly spotted at Monkey Point, a port on the country’s sparsely populated Caribbean coast. The Iranians’ presence irked the locale’s Creole residents.

Since then, Iran, Venezuela, and Russia have made various promises to throw money at Nicaragua’s meagre infrastructure, including expanding the ports at Monkey Point and Corinto, on the Pacific Coast, building a “dry canal” corridor of pipelines, rails, and highways across the country, as well as digging a ship canal that would rival Panama’s.

>USSR2 File: Lukashenko: Belarusian KGB arranged Bakiev’s exile; fists, eggs, smoke bombs fly in Ukrainian Rada as Russian base deal passes

>In the “post”-Soviet space this week more communist-scripted drama unfolded, the interconnectedness of which will probably not register on the radar screens of Western political “experts.”

According to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, deposed Kyrgyz counterpart Kurmanbek Bakiev has found refuge in Minsk. There Bakiev enjoys Lukashenko’s “personal protection.” On April 19, the Belarusian president candidly related that the Belarusian KGB arranged Bakiev’s flight from Kazakhstan, where the ousted leader fled from his homeland on April 15 and tendered a written resignation, to Belarus. Comrade Alex expounded:

If the Kyrgyz president and his family need help in this challenging period Belarus is ready to provide assistance. We are ready to see him here. I expect the reaction of the mass media. However, I would like to ask three rhetorical questions. First, what serious problems can we have in this case? Second, is not Belarus able to handle this situation? We are not going to collapse because of deteriorating relations with Kyrgyzstan. Third, if Kurmanbek Salievich is in Belarus, this will be positive news for the interim government.

As it turns out, Kyrgyzstan’s pro-Moscow interim government is not at all disturbed by Bakiev’s presence in Minsk nor Lukashenko’s offer to send humanitarian aid to Bishkek. Kyrgyz government spokesentity Edil Baisalov enthused: “We view Belarus as a very friendly state. We urge the people of Belarus and the leadership to ensure the personal security of Kurmanbek Bakiev until he is brought to trial.” Kyrgyzstan’s interim government intends to try Bakiev for “mass murder” and does not expect its extradition request to negatively impact Kyrgyzstan-Belarus relations. Bakiev insists he has no plans to return to Kyrgyzstan as president.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s slavishly pro-Moscow president, Viktor Yanukovich, is defending his decision to grant a 25-year lease extension to the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet, based at Sevastopol, on the Crimean Peninsula. The current lease will expire in 2017. In a quid pro quo, Russia will reduce the price Ukraine pays for Gazprom’s main energy product by 30 percent. The deal was announced on April 21, after talks between Yanukovich and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

Ukrainian nationalists regard Russia’s Black Sea Fleet as a hostile presence on their territory. On Tuesday, chaos erupted in the Ukrainian parliament when the base deal passed by a slim margin, under the leadership of Yanukovich’s Party of Regions and its allies in the Communist Party of Ukraine. Incensed opposition politicians swung fists and hurled eggs and stink bombs at the speakers’ podium. In Russia’s Duma the base deal passed unanimously, supported even by the “opposition” Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

In summary, everyone involved in these productions are “ex”-cadres of the supposedly defunct Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and every production yields a win-win situation for Russia. Analysts in the employ of NATO governments, however, have already demonstrated their strategic stupidity by completely ignoring the Kremlin’s obvious stake in the April 10 demise of Warsaw’s anti-communist president and generals in a Polish Air Force jet over Russian territory. For what it’s worth, Romanian Global News contends that the Russians used “electromagnetic weapons,” housed at a military base near Smolensk, to knock Kaczysnki’s plane from the sky.

>End Times File: Early-tribulation Magog invasion of Israel approaching as Syria, Turkey conduct second joint military exercise in a year

>It has been several months since we posted an End Times File. However, the Israeli media reports that Syria, one of Israel’s mortal enemies along with Iran (Persia in Ezekiel’s prophecy), and Turkey (Togarmah), an errant NATO country that has hooked up with “post”-communist Russia (Magog) since the Cold War, are holding their second joint military exercise in a year.

“Syria is tightening its military alliance with Turkey as it reinforces its recent threat to send Israel back to ‘the Stone Age’ if it attacks Hizbullah,” says Arutz Sheva, “Syrian President Bashar Assad told a Kuwaiti newspaper on Saturday it has ‘surprises’ in store for Israel.” The new Syrian-Turkish alliance hopes to woo Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan, which is technically at peace with Israel, into its fold. Syria also has a defense pact with Iran, hosts a Russian naval base and, according to some sources, plans to buy Iskander mid-range missiles from Moscow. The Russian Navy’s facility at Tartus is slated for completion in 2011.

The full news article from Arutz Sheva follows, revealing among other things that “Syria has been arming Hizbullah with long-range Scud missiles”:

Turkish military officials said that its soldiers began joint military exercises with Syria on Monday, the second time in a year. The army maneuvers are another sign of closer ties between Damascus and Ankara, which was considered to be a friend of Israel until last year, when it fell in line with most of the Arab world’s anti-Israel campaign.

Turkey also has established closer ties with Iran, and an Iranian-Turkish-Syrian-Lebanese axis would pose a monolithic threat to Israel from the north.

Syrian sources told the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai that if Israel were to attack the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist army, Syria would impose a naval blockade on Israel, using ground-to-sea missiles.

The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad also has the capability to fire 60 ballistic missiles and 600 tactical missiles in one day, the sources told the newspaper. They added that if Hizbullah is attacked, Syria would fight alongside the Lebanese army, which has shown signs of being part and parcel of Hizbullah’s forces.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday tried to defuse the hostile atmosphere, stating that Israel has no intentions of staging an attack.

Diplomatic tensions flared up two weeks ago after it was revealed that Syria has been arming Hizbullah with long-range Scud missiles. The report was first carried by Al-Rai and may have been leaked by the United States in order to create pressure for United Nations Interim Forces (UNIFIL) to beef up their patrols in Lebanon.

Syria categorically denied the charges, and the United States officially said it is investigating the report.

The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel, in chapters 38 and 39 of the Old Testament book, describes an early-tribulation invasion of Israel, after the Jews return to their homeland at the end of the church age. The invasion force is led by Russia, along with its allies Iran and the Arab states, but will be supernaturally destroyed by God. The destruction of Damascus, an unfulfilled prophecy from Isaiah chapter 17 possibly brought about by an Israeli attack or counter-attack, will likely provoke this confrontation with Israel’s enemies.

The alliance described by Ezekiel was not possible before the end of the Cold War, because the Islamic revolution that allied Iran with the Soviet Union/Russia had yet to take place, and the current pro-Islamic, anti-Israel regime in Turkey had yet to take power.

>Latin America File: Chavez admits Cubans training Venezuelan army, denies “Cubanization” charge; Mexico cartels shoot up security chief’s convoy

>– Maritime Spat between Managua and Bogota Escalates as Nicaraguan Navy Seizes Colombian Fishermen; Ortega Provided Haven for FARC Guerrillas in 2008

– Drug Cartels’ Military-Calibre Ambush against Michoacan’s Public Safety Secretary Sends Signal to Michoacan-Born Calderon: No Government Official in Mexico Is Safe

During his weekly televised rant, Alo Presidente, Venezuela’s communist dictator Hugo Chavez admitted that Cubans are training his armed forces. “They’re telling us how to store compasses, how to repair radios inside tanks and how to stockpile ammunition,” he explained flippantly, but dismissed charges, broached most lately by retired Brigadier General Antonio Rivero, that his government is a puppet regime under the control of Havana. “What Cubanization?” Chavez protested, “The Cubans are helping us here.” Referring to Rivero, he had nothing but contempt: “He was already among bad company.”

Venezuela’s beleaguered opposition has long accused Chavez of inviting Cuban advisors to hold key positions in the military and other state institutions. Rivero’s high rank and detailed descriptions of Cuban involvement have added new credibility to fears of Venezuela’s Cubanization. Last Thursday Rivero announced on Caracas’ opposition-run Globovision that he had resigned from the army after 25 years of service, mainly because of “the presence and meddling of Cuban soldiers” in the armed forces. The former Chavez ally alleged that he witnessed Cubans training Venezuelan troops during his last assignment as an infantry commander.

In a move obviously designed to secure the military’s loyalty, on the same TV program Chavez announced a hefty pay raise for soldiers of every rank. “Boys, we’re going to increase salaries by 40 percent for all the ranks,” he enthused. Not so coincidentally, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) faces congressional elections in September, even as the country grapples with 26 percent inflation, drought, food and water distribution problems, and rolling electrical blackouts. In 2005 Chavez declared his commitment to uniting Venezuela and Cuba in a communist federation, called “Venecuba” by Cuban President Raul Castro.

Pictured above: Chavez and Castro in Caracas, on April 19, 2010.

Meanwhile, the Chavezista regime continues to purge dissidents from the judiciary with the arrest and incarceration of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni, who was charged with corruption and abuse of authority after she conditionally freed Eligio Cedeño. The latter, a banker, was accused by Miraflores Palace of evading currency controls. “I never thought–never–that the violations would get to this point,” remarked Afiuni, who is being held in a cellblock filled with women charged with drug trafficking and murder, some of whom she sentenced.

Another judge who irritated Chavez was Juan Carlos Apitz. In 2003 Apitz was on a five-member court that ruled that doctors from Cuba, Venezuela’s closest strategic partner as reported above, could not work in Venezuela unless they revalidated their qualifications. At the time Cuba was deploying thousands of doctors to Venezuela in exchange for cheap oil. Chavez branded the ruling “unconstitutional” and dispatched 46 DISIP agents to raid Apitz’s offices. Apitz and two other judges who sided with him were banished from the judiciary, while the two judges whose minority opinion supported the government’s policy were promoted to the Supreme Court. Since December 2009 DISIP has been known as the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, with a hat tip toward Chavez’s communist “Bolivarian Revolution.”

Over the weekend Chavez also threatened to nationalize the country’s gold mining concessions, putatively to end the “capitalist mafias” that exploit Venezuela’s workers. “If we are going to exploit gold, we would have to nationalize all that, recover and end the concessions,” Chavez demanded. The Chavezista regime has nationalized parts of the banking, oil, cement, metals, and utilities industries as the PSUV extends the role of the state in the economy to create what Chavez calls “21st century socialism” (which looks suspiciously like 20th century socialism). “There is no adverse impact on [global] production as Venezuela is only a minor producer of the metal and whatever shortfall that takes place will be made up by an increase in output from other producing countries,” explained Reena Walia Nair, defusing investor concerns. Nair is senior research analyst at Angel Commodities Broking Pvt. in Mumbai, India.

After a week of violent unrest, which targeted the homes and meeting places of Nicaragua’s opposition politicians, lawmakers have meekly returned to the National Assembly to approve a bill that will permit the government of President Daniel Ortega to borrow US$48 million from foreign lenders. Edwin Castro, leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front’s legislative faction, triumphed: “This is a victory for the people.” For their part, opposition leaders insisted that they voted for the law out of conviction, not fear of government reprisals.

The crisis, following three years of increasingly repressive activity by the ruling FSLN, prompted Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary-general of the Organization of American States, to express “deep concerns” over the state of democracy in Nicaragua. With typical communist contempt, long-time Soviet ally Ortega retorted by telling Insulza “not to meddle.”

Since 1979 the FSLN has controlled Nicaragua’s army, police, and judiciary. This was so even during the 16 years between 1990 and 2006 when Ortega was absent from the presidency. Since a hotly contested 2008 election, the Sandinistas have also controlled most municipal governments. In February 2010 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Managua, pledging that the two countries will on an unspecified date carry out joint military exercises, a prospect that would have greatly incensed the Reagan White House during the 1980s. But that was a different era. Now, 20 years later, alleged Soviet mole Barack Hussein Obama is Commander in Chief and has committed the USA to complete nuclear disarmament in the face of Russia’s remilitarization.

In a related story, the Colombian media reports that last Friday the Nicaraguan Navy intercepted three fishing boats, together crewed by 28 Colombians. The Nicaraguans towed the boats to the Caribbean port of Bluefields, where Colombian embassy staff acknowledged that their countrymen were in good health. The Colombians will be deported to their homeland.

On Saturday Captain Roger Gonzalez Diaz, commander of Nicaragua’s Soviet-built fleet, asserted that the Colombian fishing boats were found in Nicaraguan “territorial waters,” about 135 miles off its Caribbean coast near the border with Honduras. For his part, Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva insisted that the International Court of Justice has not assigned the disputed waters to Nicaragua, Honduras, or Colombia. International law expert Cesar Torres del Rio described the apprehensions as “totally arbitrary.” He pointed out that Colombia has the right to file a protest note to the Nicaragua government, protesting the violation of its sovereignty and the detention of its citizens.

The maritime dispute between Nicaragua and Colombia predates Ortega’s resumption of the presidency in January 2007. However, along with Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez, he is a veteran leader of the Western Hemisphere’s Red Axis, which means he can easily exploit this issue to portray US ally Colombia as a menace to Latin American “solidarity.” In 2008 relations between Managua and Bogota became chilly after Ortega granted asylum to three guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and a young female FARC “groupie” from Mexico, the only survivors of the Colombian military’s raid on a guerrilla camp in Ecuador on March 1 of that year. At the time Comrade Ortega referred to Colombia’s Marxist rebels as “brothers.”

Finally, on Saturday another orgy of drug-related violence exploded in two Mexican states, Michoacan, home of the La Familia cartel and birthplace of President Felipe Calderon, and Ciudad Juarez, home of the Juarez cartel. In Michoacan 20 narco-insurgents, armed with assault rifles and a grenade launcher, ambushed the convoy of the state’s public safety secretary, Minerva Bautista, killing four people and wounding 10. One of the gunmen utilized a sniper rifle to fire armor-piercing bullets at Bautista’s vehicle. “In the ambush, they used concentrated fire from these types of weapons, forcing her [Ms Bautista] and her escort to crash into a trailer truck that they had pulled across the road,” Michoacan’s Attorney General Jesus Montejano told the national Milenio TV station. Bautista was among the injured, but is now recovering.

This well-coordinated, military-calibre attack on Michoacan’s security chief is, in our assessment, a clear signal from the drug cartels to President Calderon, who hails from Michoacan, that no government official is safe in Mexico. It comes a day after seven people, including six police officers, died in a shoot-out with suspected gang hitmen in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. Since 2006 Calderon has poured tens of thousands of armed police and troops into Mexico’s northern states to exterminate the powerful cartels, which are armed in part by the Russian Mafia (KGB).

In a possibly related story, this past Friday a Mexican diplomat in El Salvador and his wife were killed in a drive-by shooting carried out by motorbike-borne assassins. The diplomat, First Secretary Guillermo Medina Alfaro, has worked with Interpol, which is leading the investigation into his murder. Salvadoran police say the motive behind the attack is unknown but Alfaro’s association with Interpol would certainly place him on the hit lists of international criminal syndicates.

>Red Dawn Alert: Venezuelan general resigns: Military under Cuba’s control; Sandinistas storm Supreme Court, blockade National Assembly, opposition HQ

>Increasingly, we’re [Cuba and Venezuela] the same thing.
– Cuban President Raul Castro, statement made in Caracas on April 21, 2010

Ah yes, communism is still dead, we are told by the sages of academia and the talking heads of the MSM . . . even as 65,000 Cuban agents assume day-to-day control over just about every important component of the Venezuelan government, including its armed forces. As we blogged several days ago, recent developments in Latin America are highlighting the reality of the Havana-Caracas-Managua Axis and the military threat it poses to the USA’s allies in the region, such as Honduras and Colombia. This communist troika is a military threat to the USA, too, in as much as the neo-Soviet state has broadcast its intentions to either redeploy, in the case of Cuba and Nicaragua, or deploy, in the case of Venezuela, its assets in these countries.

On Thursday Venezuelan Brigadier General Antonio Rivero announced at a televised press conference that two weeks prior he had retired from his post in protest against the “presence and the meddling of the Cuban military” in the armed forces. Rivero alleges that Cuban military officers have been appointed to critical areas of the Venezuelan army, such as military intelligence, military engineering, weaponry, and communications. There have also been situations where Venezuelan military officers have taken order from their Cuban counterparts. Rivero related that in his infantry division Cuban soldiers and personnel were providing their Venezuelan counterparts with sniper training and teaching military doctrine at the command level. Cubans, moreover, are now placed “at a high level in vital areas of national security.”

The retired general criticized the recently sworn-in units of the Bolivarian Militia, created as a new arm of the national armed forces, asserting that the creation of such a military branch is unconstitutional. Rivero also denounced the “politicization” of the military, including the slogan soldiers are required to repeat when saluting: “Socialist homeland or death!” There was no immediate reaction to these comments from Chavez’s government.

Earlier this month, opposition politician Julio Borges demanded that President Chavez provide information about Cubans working for the government. “Never before in our history,” Borges complained, “have we allowed citizens of another country to assume key posts associated with national security.” Borges asserted that Cuban advisers are now working at “high levels” in ports administration, telecommunications, immigration, policing, power generation, and oil production.

Chavez’s Venezuela has become Cuba’s chief post-Cold War benefactor, sending the island about 100,000 barrels of oil per day on preferential terms, in exchange for the services of thousands of Cuban doctors, whose work in free clinics has boosted Chavez’s political support. During a speech to Cubans in one medical mission last week, Chavez gushed: “Cubans, I tell you speaking from the heart, I feel like I’m from Cuba now. I feel like I’m one more Cuban.” During a meeting in Caracas this week, neither Chavez nor Cuban President Raul Castro publicly acknowledged the presence of Cuban personnel in the Venezuelan government. Before returning to Havana on Wednesday, however, Castro declared of the two countries: “Increasingly, we’re the same thing.”

Incidentally, Castro and his vice president, “Commander of the Revolution” Ramiro Valdez, also attended this past Monday’s military parade in Caracas, which commemorated the 200th anniversary of Venezuela’s independence from Spain. Troops from various Communist Bloc countries, including Belarus, Libya, and Algeria, participated in the march-past. Afterward, the Cuban dictator showed up at a summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, which promotes integration among eight of Latin America’s communist and social democratic regimes.

Meanwhile, reports Al Jazeera, the political deadlock and street violence between pro- and anti-government forces in Nicaragua have finally attracted the attention of international organizations. Three years of increasingly repressive behaviour by President Daniel Ortega, who is re-consolidating his Cold War-era dictatorship, prompted Jose Miguel Insulza, a Chilean socialist who moonlights as secretary-general of the Organization of American States, to express “deep concern.” Insulza urged Ortega and his opponents, consisting of center-rightists and dissident Sandinistas, to “resolve political differences, particularly those between state representatives, through dialogue.”

Not surprisingly, Cuba’s state media is ludicrously alleging that Nicaragua’s opposition forces are backed by Washington and will shortly stage a Honduran-style coup against the neo-Sandinista regime. This is nothing more than communist propaganda. Indeed, Havana is purposely overlooking the fact, admitted even by Comandante Ortega, that the Nicaraguan military and police are solidly controlled by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). This has been the case since the 1979 revolution. A coup in Managua is very unlikely.

Ortega also enjoys the financial and moral support of Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez who, not so coincidentally, flew into Managua on Wednesday, April 14, for a six-hour strategy session. The following morning Comrade Hugo continued on to Havana. We have no specific intelligence proving that the two communist leaders discussed the “threat” posed by Ortega’s domestic opposition. However, on Friday, April 16, unrest exploded again in the streets of Managua, as FSLN cadres stormed the Supreme Court building to prevent the ouster of two Sandinista judges, whose terms expired five days before.

Ortega is desperate to legitimize his re-election bid in 2011, a move banned by the country’s constitution but dubiously sanctioned in November by the same judges. In January, the Nicaraguan president, citing a stalemate in the National Assembly, issued a decree extending the terms of 25 top civil servants, including judges Armengol Cuadra and Rafael Solís, who can be expected to support his schemes. On Tuesday Ortega, perhaps emboldened by last week’s pep talk with Chavez, dispatched his mortar-toting thugs (pictured above) to blockade the National Assembly building and Managua’s Holiday Inn Select, where the main opposition groups, led by the Constitutionalist Liberal Party, were holed up. Time’s Tim Rogers describes the government-sponsored attack on the opposition’s makeshift HQ:

On Tuesday, a mob of several hundred Sandinista thugs, armed with hand-held mortars, fired homemade fragmentation bombs at Managua’s Holiday Inn Select hotel. Inside the building, opposition lawmakers—whose various parties form the majority in the legislature but are rarely in agreement—were discussing how to counter Ortega’s attempt to re-elect his cronies, and eventually himself.

The congressional session, which Ortega’s ruling party claims was illegal, was held inside the Holiday Inn so lawmakers could avoid the Sandinista mobs gathered outside the National Assembly. But when the Sandinistas discovered that the opposition had pulled a fast one by convening elsewhere, they marched to the Holiday Inn and unleashed their fury on the hotel. The group fired explosives off the front of the building, shattering windows, destroying part of the roof and terrifying guests. Riot police prevented the mob from storming the lobby, but made no arrests or attempts to stop the attack.

“Regardless of how it ends,” concludes Rogers, “the latest crisis has shown that Nicaragua’s rickety democracy, 20 years in the making, could come down like a Jenga tower.”

We suspect Moscow, Havana, and Caracas are waiting for Ortega to firmly re-establish his dictatorship before (re)deploying their operatives and military assets in Nicaragua and moving ahead with certain elements of their (revitalized) strategic partnerships with Managua. Published reports indicate that four of these elements include the rehabilitation of the never-used, Soviet-built military runway at Punta Huete, north of Lake Managua, the expansion of the port at Monkey Point on the Caribbean coast, the building of a canal and overland transportation corridor across Nicaragua, and the implementation of joint exercises between the Russian and Nicaraguan armed forces. This pattern of communist conquest is evident in Venezuela where Chavez has effectively cornered his opposition, prompting Russia, Red China, and Cuba to transform their South American ally into a reliable Soviet Bloc satellite.

>Red Terror File: Man who took video footage of burning wreckage of Polish president’s plane stabbed; killers pursue to hospital, stab until dead

>The Polish media reports that a man who took video footage of the burning wreckage of President Lech Kaczynski’s Polish Air Force plane near Smolensk has been brutally murdered.

The videographer uploaded his material, which allegedly contained sounds of gunshots at the crash site, to the Internet. Five days later, on April 15, “Andrij” was stabbed near Kiev, Ukraine, or Kijow, in the Polish language. In critical condition, he was taken to a Kiev hospital where his murderers pursued him, ripped out his life support system, and stabbed “Andrij” until dead. A translation of the Polish story follows:

“Author of the video seen by everyone by now has been stabbed near Kijow on 4.15 and transported in critical condition to the hospital in Kijow. On 4.16 three unidentified individuals unplugged him from life support system and stabbed him 3 more times. Andrij was pronounced dead that afternoon. Russian government claims it was a coincidence.

Looks like Vladimir Putin didn’t want any evidence of Kremlin complicity in the “decapitation” of Poland’s anti-communist government.

>Latin America File: Communist Bloc troops march through Venezuelan capital; Fidel Castro praises Chavez; Beijing-Caracas ventures top US$20 billion

>– Belarusian, Libyan, and Algerian Soldiers Participate in Caracas March-Past, Chavez Praise-Fest

– Rebuilding Communism in Nicaragua:

1) Sandinista Judges Refuse to Leave Supreme Court, FSLN Thugs Armed with Mortars Storm Court Building Last Friday, Threaten Liberal Judges

2) Judges Solis and Cuadra Lead Sandinista Cadres against Oppositionists Meeting at Managua Hotel on Tuesday (source)

Long live Venezuela, the socialist homeland!
— Venezuelan troops in Caracas march-past, April 19, 2010

Yup, communism’s dead, we are told. That’s why Venezuela has become the Communist Bloc’s most important satellite state in the Western Hemisphere, even nudging ahead of the entrenched communist regime in Havana. As of late 2009, for example, Venezuela’s Marxist dictator Hugo Chavez had purchased US$4.4 billion in combat planes, helicopters, diesel submarines, tanks, tactical missiles, and automatic rifles from Russia. Following Vladimir Putin’s trip to Caracas last month, the Russian prime minister intimated that the Chavezista regime may buy another US$5.5 billion in weapons systems from Moscow. Energy consortiums involving state-run entities from both countries, like PDVSA and Gazprom, also intend to exploit Venezuela’s natural gas and oil reserves.

In a sign that Chavez is also cozying up to the other half of the Moscow-Beijing Axis, the Venezuelan Air Force recently took delivery of a consignment of light attack/trainer aircraft built in the People’s Republic of China. On April 20 Red China and Venezuela announced that the two states had signed a deal that would jointly finance about US$20 billion of economic projects in the South American country, including the development of a block in the Orinoco crude belt. The Junin 4 block is expected to need a US$16 billion investment over three years. It will eventually produce more than 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Chavez was slated to host Chinese President Hu Jintao this past weekend, but the communist leader of the world’s most populous country scuttled his Latin American visit due to a devastating earthquake at home.

On Monday 6,600 Communist Bloc troops marched through the streets of Caracas in celebration of the 200th anniversary of a significant episode in the road to Venezuela’s independence from Spain. Venezuelan troops shouted “Long live Venezuela, the socialist homeland!” as they passed the presidential box. Behind them followed visiting brigades from “former” Soviet republic of Belarus and the socialist states of Algeria, Libya, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Uruguay, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Cuba, Dominica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In addition to soldiers, 5,400 pro-Chavez political cadres, adorned with red T-shirts and red baseball caps, marched in the celebration.

Although initially reported in the Kremlin media some weeks ago, Russian troops were not apparently involved in the march-past. Overhead, the recently acquired Chinese K-8 planes and Russian Sukhoi-30MK fighter aircraft screamed over the city. Pictured above: Venezuelan army tanks.

Flanking Chavez were Cuba’s Marxist dictator Raul Castro, Nicaragua’s Marxist dictator Daniel Ortega, Bolivia’s Marxist president Evo Morales, Ecuador’s Marxist president Rafael Correa, Argentina’s center-left president Cristina Kirchner, and the Dominican Republic’s center-left president Leonel Fernandez. Cuba’s vice president, Ramiro Valdez, whom Chavez has tapped to fix Venezuela’s energy crisis, was also present.

Earlier that day, Chavez laid a wreath on the tomb of his personal idol, South American independence fighter Simon Bolivar. “More than ever,” he ranted, “Venezuela will not be a ‘yankee’ colony, nor a colony of anyone. The time for our true independence has come, 200 years on.” In more than a decade of contested rule, Chavez has “parachuted” thousands of Cuban agents into key government positions, including the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (formerly DISIP); nationalized (communized or collectivized) farms, public utilities, banks, telecommunications companies, and media outlets; established neighborhood and workplace councils to promote socialism; purged patriots from the military; and arrested civilian dissidents.

In his April 18 Reflections column, retired dictator Fidel Castro heaped praised upon his “revolutionary” disciple Chavez:

He had not yet been born when the attack on the Moncada Barracks took place on July 26th of 1953. He wasn’t even five years old when the Revolution triumphed on the first of January of 1959. I met him in 1994 [two years after Chavez’s coup attempts], 35 years later, when he had turned 40 years old. Since then I have been able to observe his revolutionary development for almost 16 years.

Endowed with exceptional talent, an insatiable reader, I can offer testimony of his capacity for developing and intensifying revolutionary ideas. As in every human being, fate and circumstances play a decisive part in the advancement of his ideas. His capacity to remember any concept and repeat it with incredible precision much later is remarkable.

He is a true master in the development and dissemination of revolutionary ideas. He has command of these ideas and of the art of transmitting them with astounding eloquence. He is absolutely honest and sensitive in regards to persons, and incredibly generous in his nature. He requires no praise and, in turn, is accustomed to be generous in giving it.

Whenever I do not agree with any of his points of view or any of his decisions, I merely tell him about it sincerely, at the proper time and with the due respect of our friendship. By doing so, I especially bear in mind that today he is the person about whom the empire [USA] is most worried, due to his capacity to influence the masses and due to the immense natural resources of a country that they have pillaged mercilessly, and the person they rigorously strike and attempt to take away his authority.

Both the empire [USA] and the mercenaries at its beck and call, intoxicated by the lies and the consumerism, once more run the risk of under-estimating him and his heroic people, but I haven’t the slightest doubt that again they will be taught an unforgettable lesson. More than half a century of struggle indicates that to me with total clarity.

Chávez carries the [communist] dialectic within himself. Never, at any time, has any government done so much for its people in such a short time. I am especially delighted to send his people warm congratulations upon the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the struggle for the independence of Venezuela and Latin America. As fate would have it, on April 19th we are also celebrating the victory of the Revolution over imperialism at the Bay of Pigs, exactly 49 years ago. We would like to share that victory with the Homeland of Bolívar.

With a nod toward the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas’ bloc of socialist states, Comrade Fidel signed off: “I am also pleased to send a greeting to all our brothers and sisters in ALBA.”

Meanwhile, Venezuelan opposition groups, organized under the political coalition Table of Democratic Unity, warned that Chavez’s 11-year rule had “promoted separation and confrontation.” Chavez “has systematically reduced our democratic abilities, and compromised our future and our progress,” the coalition complained in a statement released on Sunday. Former Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez did not mince words concerning his opposition to Chavez: “I question whether it is a time to rejoice over independence when a militarized and authoritarian regime is in power.”

After attending the Independence Day bash, ALBA leaders from Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Dominica, Nicaragua, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines gathered for the organization’s ninth summit, also hosted by Chavez. Honduras, which joined ALBA under the auspices of ousted president Manuel Zelaya, pulled out last year during the interim presidency of Roberto Micheletti.

At the latest ALBA conclave Comrade Hugo warned that US ally Colombia would become a serious threat to its neighbors if Juan Manuel Santos, President Alvaro Uribe’s anointed successor, wins the upcoming presidential election. “This is a threat to all of us, especially for Ecuador, Venezuela and Nicaragua,” rumbled Chavez. He cited Santos’ record as defence minister under Uribe, including Bogota’s controversial military strike against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia at an Ecuadorean jungle camp in March 2008.

Yup, communism’s dead in Central America too. That’s why Nicaragua’s President Ortega, with financial backing from Chavez, is attempting to reconsolidate his Soviet-era dictatorship in spite of the constitutional obstacles in his way. This week two Sandinista judges who overturned a legal ban against presidential term limits, Armengol Cuadra and Rafael Solís, refused to step down after their Supreme Court terms expired this week. Cuadra and Solis cited Ortega’s controversial decree extending their tenure and a law that expired 20 years ago to justify their defiance.

On April 16 Sandinista cadres, armed with mortars and shouting revolutionary slogans from the 1980s, stormed the court building in response to an ultimatum from Supreme Court President Manuel Martínez, who ordered Cuadra and Solis to clear out by this week. The Ortegistas thrust aside security guards and cheered as the two other judges assumed their former spots on the bench. “We are going to continue functioning normally,” Solis told reporters.

Intimidated by Ortega’s thugs, Liberal judges avoided the court. “We are on the path to dictatorship,” lamented former ambassador and legal analyst Carlos Tunnermann, who served as minister of education under the first Sandinista government. Like many other FSLN members, however, Tunnermann rejected Ortega’s leadership of the party in the 1990s. “Each day we move farther from the revolution and closer to dictatorship,” he added.

>Latin America File: Ortega, Borge welcome Chavez to Nicaragua; Chavez heads for Havana; proposed Venezuelan-Ecuadorean military pact in March

>With Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s whirlwind tour of Nicaragua and Cuba, the Havana-Caracas-Managua Axis is once again brought into focus.

On April 14 Nicaragua’s past/present Marxist dictator Daniel Ortega welcomed Chavez to Augusto Sandino International Airport (pictured here). Ortega was accompanied by wife Rosario Murillo, who is also the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front’s PR manager and head of the Sandinista-dominated Councils of Citizens’ Power, which replicate the functions of the 1980s Cuban-style Sandinista Defense Committees; General Julio Cesar Aviles, the country’s new army chief; Aminta Granera, chief of the Nicaraguan National Police; and, interestingly, Tomas Borge, a diehard Maoist who is the only living founder of the FSLN.

During the 1980s Borge headed up the first Sandinista regime’s interior ministry, at which time he was accused of working with both the Soviet KGB and the Colombian drug cartels in funnelling narcotics into the USA. Comrade Borge is presently Nicaragua’s ambassador to Peru, from where his wife hails.

Upon receiving Chavez, Ortega recalled that the visit coincides with the eighth anniversary of the 2002 coup that briefly removed the Venezuelan president from office. For his part, Comrade Hugo emotionally described Nicaragua’s people as “heroic and revolutionary, where after several years the road of [Simon] Bolivar and Sandino was retaken.” He extolled the virtues of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, to which both countries belong and which “will allow us to be free once and forever of all the chains of empire and dependency,” meaning the hated USA.

During a late-night, six-hour strategy session Ortega and Chavez discussed bilateral cooperation in trade and very possibly the joint military exercises slated to take place in Nicaragua in May and June. Since 2007 both communist leaders have vocalized their belief in the formation of a multi-lateral “anti-imperialist army” that would challenge US “hegemony” in the region.

In a related story, on March 26 Chavez flew to Quito where he conducted talks on joint economic initiatives with Ecuador’s socialist president, Rafael Correa. He also broached the subject of joint military cooperation between Venezuela and Ecuador, two countries that mobilized their armed forces along Colombia’s border during the week-long stand-off with Bogota in March 2008.

Last fall Venezuelan Air Force pilots began flying the first batch of six French-built Mirage 50M fighter jets to Ecuador, where the planes were re-commissioned by the Ecuadorean Air Force. Incidentally, between Venezuela and Ecuador lies Colombia. No doubt perturbed by the Venezuelan-Ecuadorean alliance, Colombian authorities forbade Caracas from using their airspace to affect the transaction in what is otherwise the most straightforward route. Venezuela’s military pilots were forced to fly the planes to their new home via the southern Caribbean and Panama, followed by a sharp left-turn down South America’s Pacific coast.

Chavez’s arrival in Managua comes as Nicaragua’s foreign minister, Samuel Santos Lopez, wraps up his tour of Georgia’s breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, with agreements to extend formal diplomatic recognition to Sukhumi and Tskhinvali. Along with Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru recognize the independence of Georgia’s separatist regimes. In a shameless quid pro quo, Ortega can no doubt expect to see an enhanced Russian presence in the development of his country’s infrastructure, left off when he suffered electoral defeat in early 1990 and when the Soviet Union imploded in December 1991.

Chavez’s arrival also comes as Nicaragua’s chief opposition party, the Constitutionalist Liberals, challenges a presidential decree that extends the terms of two pro-Sandinista Supreme Court justices. Last October these judges overruled constitutional term limits that prevent Ortega from running for a second consecutive term.

Following his comradely tete-a-tete with Ortega, Chavez flew on to Havana, to confer with Cuban President Raul Castro and his cadaverous brother, Fidel. There the communist leaders of Venezuela and Cuba discussed issues related to regional integration under the auspices of ALBA.



>Latin America File: Gulf, Sinaloa, La Familia cartels unite to “exterminate” Los Zetas, demand Mexican Army withdraw from northern states

>Drug War Updates:

– Daylight Gunbattle on Acapulco’s Main Boulevard Leaves 6 Dead, Including Federal Police Officer, Mother and Child (source)

– Hitmen Gun Down 9 in Tegucigalpa as Mexican Cartels Fight over Central American Drug Corridors (source)

– Salvadoran President Funes: Los Zetas Have Moved into El Salvador, Already Operating in Guatemala and Honduras (source)

According to Mexican police and the US Drug Enforcement Administration, three of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels have united to wipe out the paramilitary Los Zetas. Originally comprised of renegade commandos from the Mexican and Guatemalan militaries, Los Zetas was the Gulf cartel’s hi-tech hit squad until “going independent” in February 2010. Founded in 1999, this narco-mercenary army makes Nuevo Laredo, the site of a recent bombing at the US consulate, its headquarters.

However, the Gulf and La Familia cartels, once bitter rivals, have formed an alliance to “exterminate” Los Zetas in the border state of Tamaulipas. The Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking organization, is also believed to have joined the alliance against Los Zetas, whose rise to power threatens the other cartels. “It’s an issue of a common enemy,” Will Glaspy, head of the DEA’s office in the Texas border town of McAllen, explained, adding: “The Zetas have been trying to wage war on everybody for a while. It’s been well-documented that the Gulf cartel has formed alliances with the Sinaloa cartel and [La Familia] to wage war against the Zetas.”

Pictured above: Gregorio Sauceda, aka “El Goyo,” an alleged member of the drug cartel “Los Zetas,” is heavily escorted by troops in Mexico City, on April 29, 2009.

US and Mexican intelligence agencies also believe that Los Zetas’ reach now extends to Guatemala, where they have corrupted police and set up training camps, threatening the stability of President Alvaro Colom’s center-left government. With only an estimated 200 paramilitaries, Los Zetas are nevertheless armed for all-out war against the Mexican government. The group possesses automatic rifles, submachine guns, grenade launchers, anti-tank weapons, surface-to-air missiles, and helicopters. Their technical prowess extends to intercepting government communications.

The Russian Mafia, a front for the KGB, is a primary supplier of firepower for Mexico’s drug lords. Michael Webster writes: “Other terrorist and criminal groups are in Mexico including the Russian mafia groups such as the Poldolskaya, Mazukinskaya, Tambovskaya, and Izamailovskaya have been detected in Mexico. The Moscow-based Solntsevskaya gang is also reported to be present in the country, as are other mafia gangs from Chechnya, Georgia, Armenia, Lithuania, Poland Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Albania, and Rumania.”

Proof of the cartels’ alliance emerged earlier this year when banners appeared across Tamaulipas, declaring “The cartels of Mexico united against the Zetas.” One banner even urged Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon, to withdraw the regular army from the northern states so the new alliance can destroy Los Zetas. Incidentally, thinking strategically, this demand could be a thinly veiled ploy to give the cartels free reign across Mexico, without fear of further government retribution. At the same time, videos and emails have been distributed warning people to stay at home since the conflict—which has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians, police, and soldiers since 2006—could worsen.

Police sources state that the Gulf-Sinaloa-La Familia alliance is generating still more violence in northwestern Mexico, where heavily armed drug gangs have attacked army positions. Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, remains the epicenter of a cocaine-fuelled conflict that has also spread to Monterrey, in northeastern Mexico.

In February 2009 Texas Governor Rick Perry introduced a new phase of Operation Border Star which, in the event of the widely feared collapse of the Mexican state, could repel potential cross-border incursions by Los Zetas and other drug cartels. Under Border Star, the Texas governor is authorized to deploy National Guard troops, tanks, and aircraft along the Texas-Mexico border.

We strongly suspect that many of the putative incursions by the Mexican Army across the US-Mexican border, reported over the past decade, are in fact accidental, since Mexican troops are deployed in the border region’s drug trafficking routes. It is also possible that these “incursions” are in fact Los Zetas commandos or other cartel operatives in disguise. It is well documented, for example, that Los Zetas impersonate Mexico’s Federal Preventive Police and drive similarly marked vehicles.

Last month US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led a high-powered delegation that included Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Mexico City. There Clinton offered Calderon few assurances that the US Congress would expedite the shipment of military hardware to support Mexico’s counter-insurgency operations. Shockingly, Clinton actually indicated that Washington intends to eliminate military support altogether in the near future in favour of community-based initiatives.

The Mexican drug war is a byproduct of the Communist Bloc’s decades-old narco-subversion plot against the USA and the West in general. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and Peru’s Shining Path are important components in that plot. In the 1980s the communist regimes in Havana and Managua played vital roles in that subversion, but if Raul Castro and Daniel Ortega are still involved in drug running, then their complicity is not so clearly discerned today. Bluefields, Nicaragua’s main Caribbean port, however, remains a major transhipment point for Colombian cocaine. Government-sponsored drug busts in Venezuela and Nicaragua are most likely designed to obscure government complicity in the overall drug flow.

>Red Dawn Alert: Cuba’s top general arrives in Moscow; Putin visits Caracas, offers to sell US$5 billion in weapons, build rail lines

>– Venezuelan General Visits Belarusian Military Academy; Minsk to Build Trucks, Tractors, and Apartments in Venezuela

– Pending Russian Upgrades for Nicaragua’s Soviet-Era Armament Worry Costa Rica, VP Refutes Newspaper’s Accusations

– Central America’s Communist and Social Democratic Leaders Woo President Lobo, Offer Recognition of Honduran Government

– Bomb Blows Up at US Consulate in Nuevo Laredo, No Casualties in 2nd Attack on US Diplomatic Facilities in Mexico

The Soviet strategists are moving ahead with plans to revitalize their military relationship with Communist Cuba and neo-Sandinista Nicaragua, as well as greatly expand their military cooperation with Red Venezuela. Together, this communist troika, which we call the Havana-Caracas-Managua Axis, along with the communist regimes in Bolivia and Ecuador, constitutes a not insignificant military threat to the national security of the USA’s allies in the region, especially Honduras, Panama, and Colombia. The pro-business, pro-Washington regimes in Peru and Chile, the latter installed in March, are also targets of subversion by domestic chapters of Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian agents.

Today Cuba’s top general Alvaro Lopez-Miera (pictured above) led a military delegation to Moscow. Lopez-Miera, who is Chief of the General Staff of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, was welcomed at the airport by first deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, Lieutenant General Alexander Burutin. Later today Lopez-Miera and Burutin will visit the Russian General Staff Military Academy and inspect a brigade that has been restructured under the Russian military’s ongoing modernization program.

Tomorrow Lopez-Miera will hold talks with his Russian counterpart Army General Nikolai Makarov, where they will analyze bilateral military cooperation and the prospects for new agreements in the same field. On April 14 Lopez-Miera will visit Russian armament companies where there will be demonstrations of air defense systems that Havana is eyeing for its own protection against a hypothetical US invasion.

For his part, Makarov visited Cuba last September to discuss the modernization of the Cuban armed forces under Russian auspices. In October 2008 the chief of Russia’s air defense battalions, General Alexander Maslov, flew to Cuba to assess the readiness of the island’s air defenses, while Novosti reported that in the same year Russian bomber crews surveyed a site on the island that could serve as a potential refuelling base. During the First Cold War (1945-1991), the Soviet Union was Cuba’s primary benefactor, a role delegated of late to Venezuela.

Meanwhile, both Russia and Cuba are rapidly transforming Venezuela into another Communist Bloc satellite. In February President Chavez appointed Cuba’s Vice President Ramiro Valdez to head a commission tasked with fixing Venezuela’s power grid, which is beset with regular outages. On April 2 Russia’s KGB-communist dictator, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, materialized in Caracas where he discussed bilateral cooperation on oil exploration and drilling, nuclear energy production, and defense, although no new arms agreements were apparently signed.

“Our delegation has just returned from Venezuela and the overall volume of orders could exceed $5 billion,” Putin expounded hopefully to Russian news agencies upon returning to his homeland. Putin added: “This figure includes $2.2 billion in credit lines for Russian arms received by Chavez during his eighth visit to Moscow in September, including T-72 tanks and the S-300 advanced anti-aircraft missile system.” Chavez was elected president of Venezuela in 1998.

Chavez has frankly admitted that his growing, Russian-built arsenal is aimed at countering a planned increase in the number of US counter-narcotics troops in neighboring Colombia, Washington’s closest ally in South America. In response to the Soviet-Venezuelan strategic partnership, US State Department spokesentity P.J. Crowley blathered: “We’re hard pressed to see what legitimate defence needs Venezuela has for this equipment. If Venezuela is going to increase its military hardware, we certainly don’t want to see this hardware migrate to other parts of the hemisphere.”

In addition to beefing up Venezuela’s armed forces, Russia has also pledged to install 30,860 miles of railroad lines in that country in a project that will be completed by 2013. Putin agreed to assist Chavez in this massive construction project during his Caracas stopover. “This agreement is being immediately real, with a factory for railroad lines, we have already signed the agreement,” explained Venezuela’s Minister of Public Works and Dwellings, Diosdado Cabello. Additionally, Venezuela intends with Russian oversight to build a second factory to weld railroad lines. Russian engineers are currently in the Venezuelan state of Aragua supervising the construction of two plants that will assemble under license Kalashnikov automatic rifles and their cartridges.

Over the weekend, Chavez tied his past and pending Russian arms acquisitions to the establishment of his Bolivarian Militia, a Cuban-style outfit that will arm students, farmers, and workers to repel a hypothetical US invasion. “We are getting ready, so nobody can make a mistake with us,” Chavez boasted on his televised weekly rant, Alo Presidente, exhorting Venezuelans to complete the “transition to the socialist model.”

The Soviet strategists, as we previously blogged, are also arming Venezuela by way of Belarus, whose president, “ex”-communist Alexander Lukashenko, rules the country with an iron fist, maintaining a Soviet-era command economy and suppressing political dissidents and ethnic Poles. During his mid-March trip to Caracas, preceding Putin’s by only several weeks, Lukashenko promised to “strengthen” Venezuela’s military but, according to the MSM, offered no details, saying only that “Venezuela should be able to live peacefully without worrying about potential foreign threats.”

On March 15, as Lukashenka inaugurated his visit, Chavez disclosed that Venezuela was ready to begin selling 80,000 barrels of oil per day to Belarus from the start of May. The two communist states also signed 20 agreements that will lead to the construction of two plants in Venezuela that will produce MAZ trucks and tractors, as well as apartments for 15,000 Venezuelan families. Belarusian specialists will oversee these building projects. Belarus’ Minsk oblast and Venezuela’s state of Aragua signed an agreement on twin-town relations. Aragua, as noted above, is the site of the Russian-built Kalashnikov factories.

On April 7 Belarusian-Venezuelan military cooperation received a boost when the chief of Venezuela’s military academy, Brigadier General Alexis Lopes Ramires, arrived in Minsk to tour that country’s military academy. The Venezuelan delegation acquainted itself with the forms and procedures of Belarusian military training, as well as with the academy’s curriculum. Incidentally, the independent Belarusian media linked above reports that the military equipment Lukashenko promised to Chavez includes Tor M-1 missile defense units, which can detect aircraft and cruise missiles, even under “intense” electronic jamming.

During the 1980s the Sandinista People’s Army boasted the largest armed forces in Central America. Anti-communists, both in the region and the USA, feared that Nicaragua would attack and overrun Honduras, Costa Rica, and El Salvador, then in the throes of an insurgency backed by Cuba and the Soviet Union. In 1984 Robert Gates, currently US Defense Secretary but then CIA’s No. 2 official, advocated air strikes against Ortega’s Marxist government.

Twenty years later, the Soviets are still around but feign death, the Sandinistas are again openly ruling, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front is no longer a guerrilla army but the governing party, and Nicaragua’s neighbors are casting wary glances at the second Sandinista regime, which promptly cozied up to Moscow after Ortega’s re-election in 2006.

On April 8 Nicaraguan Vice President Jaime Morales, a former Contra rebel, rebutted assertions published in Costa Rican newspaper Al Dia that his country constitutes a threat to its southern neighbor. “Costa Rica has always said it has no army, but has a better equipped police that any army. You do not have tanks, helicopters or aircraft, but has a super well-armed police, and very large also,” he opined in televised remarks. He added: “Nicaragua only seeks to defend its sovereignty against drug trafficking and other external threats, but not to attack or to have confrontations with neighbors [because] they are our brothers. These are myths, rumors and gossip.”

Nothing was stated in this article from Inside Costa Rica about Russia’s pledge to upgrade Managua’s Soviet-era military hardware or renovate the Soviet-built runway at Punta Huete. However, any review of Nicaragua as a regional threat must be made in that light. Morales observed that Costa Rica’s center-left president-elect, Laura Chinchilla, has expressed her “good intention to have a fraternal closeness” with Nicaragua. “President Ortega,” Morales assured of his former personal enemy, “wants to have the best relations with all countries [more so] if there is a demonstration and an approach of a lady as that of the president of Costa Rica.”

Last July Honduras’ post-coup president, Roberto Micheletti, accused Nicaragua of provocatively moving troops to its northern border, allegedly to support Chavez’s direct statements about invading Honduras to “protect” Venezuelan diplomats.

Meanwhile, Nicaragua’s past/present Marxist dictator is playing nice with his center-right counterpart in Honduras, Porfirio Lobo, who was inaugurated in January after Micheletti stepped down. This past Friday Ortega greeted Lobo at Augusto Sandino International Airport in Managua. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Inter-American Development Bank have resumed lending to Honduras, but the country remains suspended from the Organization of American States (OAS). Incidentally, last month Chilean socialist Jose Miguel Insulza was re-elected secretary general of the OAS.

Between June 28, when he was ousted from the presidency, and September 21, when he snuck back into Honduras, Nicaragua was home base for Manuel Zelaya, a compliant lackey of Chavez. During his exile Ortega and Brazilian President Lula da Silva championed Zelaya’s reinstatement. Changing his tune on April 9, Ortega intoned piously: “Unity is a vital need for Central America. Central American leaders must respond to the Central American Integration System, to strengthen the political, economic and social unity in the region.” Jacinto Suarez, who is in charge of foreign relations policy for the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front, declared: “This is of great significance. It re-establishes communication between the two countries.”

On Sunday Ortega and Lobo were scheduled to fly to Guatemala City where they were to meet Guatemala’s center-left President Alvaro Colom and Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes. Normalizing ties with Honduras was the main item on the menu. Although putatively center-left in orientation, Funes represents the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, whose Politburo is dominated by hard-core Marxists. Honduras’ withdrawal from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas last November was a blow to the Latin American Red Axis, which is committed to regional integration at the expense of capitalism and US influence.

Finally, Mexico’s Moscow-backed narco-insurgents are again targeting US interests. On Saturday morning an explosion occurred at the US consulate in Nuevo Laredo in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas. There were no casualties from the homemade bomb. Mexican authorities are conducting an investigation, while the US State Department decided to close its consulates in Nuevo Laredo and in the state of Coahuila. This is the second attack on US consular staff in Mexico within one month. On March 13, three people connected to the US consulate in war-wracked Ciudad Juarez were killed by gunmen, presumably linked to the country’s powerful drug cartels.

In conclusion, ask your neighbour if he appreciates the neo-communist threat south of the Rio Grande and, apart from some dim awareness of “nutjobs” like Chavez, you will likely receive an uncomprehending stare.

>Red Terror File: Belarusian transportation authorities deny Russian version of demise of Polish president’s plane

>Woops! There appears to be a serious lack of coordination among the Soviets about the “decapitation strike” against the Polish government and military brass this past Saturday. The Georgian media reports that President Lech Kaczynski’s Polish Air Force jet was “flying at an appropriate height and according to established route.” Full excerpt follows:

Belarus denied statements made in Russia regarding the death of the President of Poland. The representative of the Belarusian Ministry of Transport and Communications told reporters that ” the plane crew never made any request towards the Belarusian side regarding a landing ” and during transit passage of aircraft with Lech Kaczynski onboard through the airspace of Belarus “no comments were made, the plane was flying at a appropriate height and according to established route”

Prior to this, press secretary of the Administration of Smolensk region of Russia Andrei Evseenko said that the plane with Lech Kaczynski was “trying to land three or four times in conditions of a heavy fog,” and that “an air traffic controller offered the crew to land in Minsk, but the crew decided to land at the Smolensk airport”.

Over to Vladimir Putin and his official investigation of this Moscow-orchestrated act of war . . .

>Red Terror File: Russians rule out "technical" problems in crash of Polish president’s plane; Polish ambassador knew pilots, upholds their competence

>– Polish-Canadians Gather at Ottawa Embassy, Accuse Moscow of Engineering Disaster to Wipe Out Polish Government

– Aircraft with 200 Journalists Landed Safely after President Kaczynski’s Plane Crashes

On Sunday Alexander Bastrykin, head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, reported to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that the “black boxes” on board the Polish Air Force jet that crashed near Smolensk yesterday confirm the Tupolev Tu-154 was “technically sound.” On board the plane was Poland’s rigtist, pro-Western President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, numerous legislators, and nearly all of Poland’s top generals and admirals. All crew and passengers perished.

“The pilot was informed about complex weather conditions and, nevertheless, made a decision on landing,” Bastrykin explained. The Soviet-built Polish jet clipped the tops of trees and crashed as it attempted to make another pass at the airport at fog-shrouded Smolensk. Thus, by the Kremlin’s tacit admission, we are left with pilot error or sabotage to explain the “decapitation” of Poland’s political-military leadership over Russian territory, en route to a memorial observance of the Katyn massacre in 1940. Expect the Kremlin media, therfore, to play up the “pilot error” dimension in the weeks ahead.

For decades, Soviet authorities refused to confess to the killings of 22,000 Polish military officers, even after the death of Joseph Stalin, who approved a suggestion by his secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria to execute the Poles. It was not until 1990 that then Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev acknowledged that the Soviets, not the Nazis, were responsible for the massacre, which was carried out by Beria’s henchmen, then known as the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD).

On Sunday both Putin and the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, who was in Warsaw at the time of the crash, travelled to the site of the downed Tupolev in the Katyn Forest to pay their respects to the victims. Putin and Tusk are pictured above. They are accompanied by Russia’s civil defense czar, Sergei Shoigu, on Putin’s left. Russia’s defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov appears to be walking somewhat behind on Tusk’s right. Kaczynski’s body was flown to Warsaw today.

At the Polish embassy in Ottawa Polish-Canadians express their suspicion that somehow the Russian government was behind the near-total demise of its Polish counterpart. Canadian journalist Earl McRae visited the embassy where he interviewed a Polish emigree and the ambassador himself:

Witold Szalankiewicz does not have to be diplomatic. And isn’t. He’s 54, a massage therapist. He came to Ottawa from Poland in 1989. Standing on the steps of the embassy, he says: “I am very suspicious. You talk to a lot of people coming here today, they will tell you the same thing. You can’t trust the Russians. Polish people hate the Russians. They suppressed us for over 200 years. There isn’t a person in Poland who hasn’t had a victim in their family of Russian suppression.”

Why, I ask, would Russia want to engineer the crash.

“To destroy the elite of the country that believes in the democracy we’ve become. Here was a way to get everybody in one place at once. It’s interesting that a plane full of 200 journalists landed with no problem shortly before the plane crash.

“The Russians hate us. Poland stands up to Russia. They can’t control us anymore. Russia was furious with Poland when it became the only European country to take in Chechen refugees. Poland blocks Russian EU proposals. Russia was furious when Poland joined NATO in 1999.

“No one knows the mind of Russians like the Polish people. Did you know that Putin’s grandfather was once Stalin’s chef? Putin himself was head of the KGB branch in East Germany.”

Intriguingly, Poland’s ambassador to Canada, Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz, who was posted to Ottawa in January, made the following remark, which effectively rules out “pilot error” in the demise of President Kaczynski’s plane: “I will not speculate. But, I knew those pilots personally. They were very experienced and qualified.” Thus, with the addition of this information, we are left with the conclusion that sabotage or another hostile act was behind this disaster.

Not so coincidentally, US military personnel are on site at Morag, Poland, installing a Patriot anti-missile battery only 70 kilometers from Poland’s border with Kaliningrad, Russia’s Baltic Sea exclave. State-run Voice of Russia articulates the Kremlin’s professed scepticism concerning Washington’s claim that the Patriots are targeting Iranian ballistic missiles:

Who the Patriots are going to protect and against whom is unclear. Poland is surrounded by NATO allies on three sides. Finland is close but it maintains neutrality. The only option for the missiles is to point east, in the direction of Russia. Something is definitely wrong when they declare that the missiles in question are not directed against Russia.

Voice of Russia warns that the US missile deployment in Warsaw Pact-turned-NATO state “undermines” trust between Moscow and Washington, especially in view of the new strategic arms reduction treaty inked in Prague last week.

>MISSILE DAY ALERT: Poland’s rightist president, legislators, military leadership "decapitated" in W. Russia air crash, Putin to lead "investigation"

>Earlier today the president of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, scores of parliamentarians, and the country’s top generals and admirals perished in an air crash near Smolensk, Russia, near the Belarusian border. Ironically, the Polish delegation was en route to memorial ceremonies at Katyn, where 22,000 Poles were massacred by Soviet forces, 70 years ago. The AFP news agency reports:

Pilot error is suspected as a cause in the crash Saturday in western Russia of the plane carrying President Lech Kaczynski and other top Polish officials, Russian news agencies reported. ‘The cause of the plane crash was apparently an error by the crew during the approach to landing,’ Russian state news agency RIA Novosti quoted an unnamed official in the Russian region of Smolensk as saying.

A total of 96 crew and passengers, including Kaczynski and his wife Maria, died in the air disaster, which involved a Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154. Most ominously, the following military brass were killed:

– Gen. Bronislaw Kwiatkowski (Commander Operations)
– Gen. Andrew Blasik (Air Force Commander in Chief)
– Gen. Tadeusz Buk (Commander of Land Forces)
– Gen. Wojciech Potasinski (Commander of Special Forces)
– Vice Admiral Andrzej Karweta (Commander in Chief of the Polish Navy)
– Gen. Casimir Gilarski (Commander, Training)

It should go without saying that the Poles were very foolish sticking all of these VIPs on one aircraft.

Incidentally, according to the Daily Mail, Russia’s KGB-communist dictator, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, will head the Kremlin commission that “investigates” the causes of the disaster.

Pictured above: In Warsaw a huge crowd of mourners gathers in front of the Presidential Palace to pay tribute to Kaczynski on April 10, 2010.

Poland’s speaker of parliament, Bronislaw Komorowski, has become the country’s interim head of state. New presidential elections are slated for no later than June 20. While we would expect the Soviet strategists to agitate for a victory for the Polish Left, the “decapitation” of Poland’s military leadership, even if accidental, could in fact signal Russia’s looming re-invasion of this Warsaw Pact-turned-NATO state. Last year, under the guise of the Zapad 2009 drill, the Russian and Belarusian armed forces simulated a nuclear attack against the former Soviet Bloc state of Poland.

Yesterday, two Tu-95 Bear bombers, based out of Ukrainka in Russia’s Far East, carried out a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean, straying near the Aleutian Islands. The two nuclear-capable aircraft and their aerial tanker escorts were shadowed by Canadian fighter jets, presumably scrambled from the Cold Lake air force base in Alberta. Last month the Royal Air Force deterred two Tu-160 Blackjack bombers that had intruded into British airspace in the Outer Hebrides.

>USSR2 File: Kremlin’s hand in Kyrgyzstan coup exposed: Bikayev alludes to Russian influence in his ouster, Putin phones interim PM to convey support

>Although we returned from an 11-day vacation earlier this week, only now have we found time to analyze some of the important events taking place in the “post”-Soviet space.

In the wake of Tuesday’s armed uprising in Kyrgyzstan, which toppled President Kurmanbek Bikayev, the Kremlin has deployed an additional 150 paratroopers to secure its air base in Kant and protect Russian citizens living in the “former” Soviet republic. When the Soviet Union collapsed in December 1991, many millions of ethnic Russians were “stranded” in the ex-Soviet republics.

Russia’s top general Nikolai Makarov articulated the Kremlin line: “The President [Dmitry Medvedev] took the decision to send two companies of paratroopers. Around 150 [servicemen] have arrived at Kant.” At the time this statement was issued, both Makarov and Medvedev were visiting Prague, whether the Russian president signed the new START treaty with his “new comrade,” Barack Hussein Obama. Russian Air Force spokesentity Vladimir Drik added: “The airbase is operating under a routine training schedule. There have been no incidents with Russian air garrison personnel registered. No one has been injured.”

Much to Moscow’s annoyance, Washington maintains its own air base at another location outside the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. In February 2009 the Kyrgyz government responded favourably to a large financial aid package from Russia by ordering the US air base at Manas to cease operations. However, last June Kyrgyzstan and the USA signed an agreement to establish a transit center at Manas international airport in support of NATO’s counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan. There the Taliban is armed by the Russian Mafia (FSB/KGB) and its Chechen offshoot via Tajikistan in exchange for Afghan heroin which, according to one source, is secreted into European markets by GRU operatives.

After protests erupted in the town of Talas on Tuesday and then spread to Bishkek, where oppositionists stormed government buildings with automatic weapons, Bikayev hinted at the Kremlin’s influence behind his ouster. “Such a coordinated operation could not have been carried out without foreign help,” he complained. On Thursday, speaking from a hideout in the southern city of Jalalabad, he changed his tune. “I do not believe that Russia or the United States of America had a hand in these events.” Bikayev came to power in 2005’s “Tulip Revolution.” He is accused of fixing last year’s presidential election, but refuses to resign. At least 76 people were killed and 1,500 injured in this week’s unrest.

KGB-communist dictator Vladimir Putin dismisses reports that his government is behind the coup d’etat. However, on Thursday the Russian prime minister spoke with Kyrgyzstan’s interim head of government, Roza Otunbayeva, revealing the Kremlin’s approval of the new regime. Not surprisingly, putative rivals Bikayev and Otunbayeva are “former” cadres of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, proving once again that transfers of power in the “post”-Soviet space are largely cosmetic. Otunbayeva, who is also Kyrgyzstan’s former foreign minister, is pictured above in Bishkek on April 9.

In a related story, on Friday Medvedev spoke by phone with Kazakh counterpart and fellow “ex”-communist Nursultan Nazarbayev on the subject of the Kyrgyzstan coup. As evidence by the following official media release, the bloodshed in Bishkek may provide a pretext for Moscow to assume greater control over its past satellites by way of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The Kremlin press service relates:

The President of Russia also confirmed the official information for the CSTO member states and other partners of sending to Kyrgyzstan groups of the Russian military men who will ensure security of the families of Russian citizens in the territory of Kyrgyzstan, diplomatic representatives and other Russian institutions.

Incidentally, last month the United Nations and CSTO, which includes Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, among other “former” Soviet republics, inked a protocol that permits the UN to deploy CSTO troops in global “trouble spots.”

In passing, Nazarbayev also congratulated Medvedev on the historic signing of a new US-Russian strategic arms reduction treaty that will allegedly create “peace in our time.” In reality, this subterfuge foisted on the American people by the Obama White House will force the USA to cut its nuclear stockpile by 25 to 30 percent over seven years, even as Russia currently beefs up its arsenal with new ICBMs and SLBMs. How much more proof is needed that President Barack Hussein Obama is a compliant Soviet mole?

>Blogger’s Note: And so, while the world falls apart . . .

>We’re going on vacation. Back on April 6. Pray the commies don’t invade before then.

>Red Dawn Alert: Looming Soviet Bloc victory in Mexico as Clinton sits on military aid to crush drug cartels; Venezuela, Bolivia communize armed forces

>– Bolivarian Intelligence Service Arrests Oswaldo Alvarez, Chavez Opponent Accused President of Drug Trafficking and Links with “Armed, Outlaw Groups”

– DAS Busts Smuggling Ring Shipping Weapons from Central America to Colombia, Nicaragua’s Top General Denies SAMs Originated from His Inventories

– Guatemalan Vice President: Central American Country’s Generals Eager to Acquire Russian Weapons

We need equipment today and not in a few years.
— Patricia Espinosa, Mexican Foreign Secretary, March 23, 2010

The drug cartels are out of control in Mexico, blockading highways to thwart army operations, gunning down civilians, police, and soldiers alike, and in many cases viciously decapitating and dismembering their victims to terrify rivals and the population in general. As we have documented, Russian operatives in the form of “ex”-KGB types are furtively arming these gangs with automatic weapons and RPGs, even as the Kremlin sidles up to the Mexican government with incentives to sell helicopter gunships and other weapons to crush the narco-insurgency.

Mexico’s communist rebels, like the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and the Popular Revolutionary Army, are kicking back these days. There’s nothing for them to do. Instead, the drug cartels are efficiently destroying the country. Meanwhile, as Mexico burns, the Obama White House fiddles.

In the wake of this week’s official visit to Mexico City by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it would appear that President Barack Hussein Obama is indeed giving the Soviets an open door to become Mexico’s “best friend” in combating this menace. Accompanying Clinton—a veteran leftist whose husband, the former president, is an alleged KGB asset—were Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, and Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair.

Disturbingly, reports the Washington Post, the White House is shifting its support away from military-style hardware and toward “investments designed to strengthen Mexican communities.” Clinton’s powerful delegation, therefore, had little to offer the besieged government of President Felipe Calderon except a promise to secure support from US lawmakers to continue the Merida Initiative, as well as sponsor community-based programs that dissuade young men from enlisting as foot soldiers in the cartels’ armies. Well, yeah, that’s not a bad idea, but Mexico’s regular forces are outgunned and lacking the technology and expertise needed to wage war against a ruthless (Moscow-backed) insurgency.

During their day-long meeting, Clinton and her Mexican counterpart, Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, reviewed the progress of the Merida Initiative. The three-year, $US1.4 billion program is designed to help governments like Mexico’s combat drug trafficking by providing them with helicopters, night-vision goggles, crime data software, and training for federal police officers and judges. The Obama Admin expects to allocate $US310 million for Mexico in 2011.

However, Espinosa was not impressed by the White House’s package. While agreeing that a joint survey was needed to better understand the nature and extent of illicit drug consumption in the two countries, Espinosa protested: “We need equipment today and not in a few years.” Mexican officials have repeatedly complained about the slow arrival of US-built military equipment and US-delivered counter-insurgency training.

While in Mexico City, Clinton repeated statements that the “appetite” for drugs in the USA greatly contributes to drug trafficking and its “attendant violence” in Mexico: “We know demand for drugs drives much of this violence.” No kidding, Hillary. (Incidentally, Hillary’s hubby knows all about personal drug consumption. Little Rock was awash with cocaine when Bill was governor of Arkansas.) To that end, Clinton pledged to crack down on the southward flow of illegal weapons and drug cash, which will no doubt translate into more gun control and financial regulations in the USA. Decriminalizing drugs was not on the agenda.

For her part, Napolitano told reporters on the flight to Mexico City that the 50,000 troops that Calderon has sent into the streets is the wrong strategy. “It has to be complemented with civilian law enforcement and the whole traditional framework that surrounds that,” she pontificated, adding: “We can help with that.”

Sounds good, Janet, but in reality the US government should give the Mexican Army whatever it needs to crush the cartels and pronto too. US national security depends on the stability of the Mexican state and the exclusion from government of Mexico’s hard left, dominated by the communist-infiltrated Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). The next general election in Mexico will take place in 2012. Overweening PRD leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who bombed out in the 2006 election, still fancies himself the “Legitimate President of Mexico.” “Bolivarian cells” linked to the Chavezista regime are active in Mexico.

So, while the US and Mexican governments hire polling firms to ask their respective publics why they consume narcotics and join drug gangs, the Juarez, Sinaloa, and Gulf Cartels, and Los Zetas and Los Negros paramilitaries will continue to shoot up and chop up anyone who infringes on their multi-billion-dollar-a-year enterprise. Time to lock and load, folks. Everything’s moving south these days, except the drugs themselves.

Latin America’s Expanding “Anti-Imperialist” Army

That the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba are heavily indoctrinated with Marxism should go without saying. Less appreciated is the fact that the red regimes in Venezuela and Bolivia are also inculcating their armed forces with communist dogma.

On March 23 Bolivia’s self-avowed Marxist-Leninist president Evo Morales inaugurated the use of the military’s new slogan, “Fatherland or death, we shall overcome!”, popularized by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, who not-so-coincidentally met his demise in Bolivia in 1966. The Bolivian army’s new communist slogan has angered some retired generals because it is perceived as part of Morales’ effort to transform the military into guarantors of his socialist revolution. The Bolivian army began using the chant “Patria o muerte, venceremos!” during an annual ceremony known as “Day of the Sea,” which is observed to remember the 1879-84 war against Chile, when Bolivia lost its Pacific coastline. Historically, Bolivia’s military has been associated with right-wing repression.

In 2007 communist dictator Hugo Chavez enacted a similar requirement for Venezuela’s armed forces, selecting “Homeland, Socialism, or Death” as its official salute. At the time retired General Alberto Muller Rojas, a close adviser to Chavez, told Venezuelan media he had already heard the salute in various military installations. Chavez purged the military of opponents after a brief counter-coup ousted him in 2002. Since then he has used Venezuela’s oil revenue to not only beef up the military’s firepower with Russian and Red Chinese warplanes and arms, but also to raise salaries in the ranks.

Some of the military dissidents whom Chavez has thrown in prison include former army chief Raul Isaias Baduel, former admiral Carlos Millan, and onetime general Wilfredo Barroso, who was arrested along with Millan on charges of conspiring to oust the president.

“Chavez does not have the support he thinks he has in the armed forces,” Baduel declared in a jail cell interview last year. Twenty years ago he was a cadre in the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200, Comrade Hugo’s secret cell of leftist officers who tried to seize power twice in 1992. Ten years later Baduel led the paratrooper operation that returned Chavez to power. In 2007, after retiring as defense minister, Baduel broke with Chavez, publicly criticizing the president’s intention to rewrite the constitution and transform Venezuela into a socialist state. “I won’t leave this prison,” Baduel vowed last year, “until Chavez leaves the presidency of Venezuela.”

In March 2009 Chavez replaced the chiefs of the army, air force, and Bolivarian Militia, a Cuban-inspired reserve force organized to repel a US invasion, one of Comrade Hugo’s favourite bête noires. During the same wave of dismissals, Chavez also sacked his latest defense minister, General Gustavo Rangel Briceño, and ordered his henchmen to detain Otto Gebauer, a now-retired captain who apprehended Chavez during the counter-coup. Indeed, the authority of as many as 800 military officers was stripped away in 2008 after doubts surfaced over their loyalty to Chavez and his Cuban-backed “Bolivarian Revolution.”

Of course, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela also persecutes civilian dissidents. This past Monday Chavez’s cronies in the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (formerly DISIP) arrested opposition figure Oswaldo Alvarez, who had publicly accused the Chavezista regime of trafficking in drugs and hiding links with armed, outlaw groups (like no doubt Colombia’s Marxist rebels).

Although the neo-Sandinista regime in Nicaragua has yet to re-politicize the armed forces, the latest commander of the Nicaraguan National Army, General Julio Aviles, is a former Sandinista guerrilla and, thus, an ally of President Daniel Ortega. In fact, the Sandinista Popular Army was not officially de-communized until 1995.

In a related story, on March 24 General Aviles was forced to deny reports that an “international arms trafficking gang” recently busted by Colombian authorities was stealing weapons from the Nicaraguan military and smuggling them into Colombia. Nicaragua’s top general huffed: “You can be assured that the inventories of the Nicaraguan army are secured and safe. The materiel that is spoken of is not of Nicaraguan origin. The information says that the arms are made in other countries, and are not of our own materiel.”

According to Colombia’s intelligence agency, DAS, the smuggling ring transported weapons procured in Central America via the Colombian island of Sand Andres, where they were ferried to the mainland by plane and speedboats. Contraband weapons included “rockets, rifles, and machine guns.” Presumably, “rockets” refer to surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).

It is known, of course, that Nicaragua is still in possession of 1,000 Soviet-built SAM-7 missiles, acquired by the first Sandinista regime in its war against the US-backed Contras. This arsenal remains a point of contention between Washington—which fears that the old man-portable rocket launchers could fall into the hands of terrorists, like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—and Managua—which insists upon retaining at least 400 of the weapons for its own defense. It is also known, too, that veteran communist Ortega sympathizes with the aims of the FARC, which seeks to install a Marxist dictatorship in Bogota. If an international criminal syndicate is smuggling SAMs from Central America to shady customers fronting for FARC, then Nicaraguan armouries may very well be the point of origin for these shipments.

Finally, Guatemala’s center-left government is not communist but President Alvaro Colom is very obviously moving his country into Moscow’s orbit, especially in the wake of his visit this week to the Russian capital. In Colom’s delegation was Vice President Rafael Espada, who told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev his country is interested in acquiring Russian arms in exchange for coffee and sugar exports. Like Mexico, although not on quite the same scale, Guatemala is plagued with drug violence. “Guatemala is interested in acquiring planes, armored vehicles and other arms to struggle against organized crime in the country. We could pay for the arms with coffee and sugar,” Espada suggested.

Guatemalan officials already discussed the issue with Russian diplomats last week, Espada revealed. Guatemala’s Chief of Staff, General Juan Jose Ruis, and five other high-ranking officials of the country’s defense ministry took part in the talks, which were apparently held in Guatemala City. Espada related that Russia provided a catalogue of its weapons systems, which would be of interest to Guatemala’s armed forces and the national police. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Guatemala in February.

>Latin America File: US Southern Command chief: Venezuela’s “socialist” regime “destabilizing force," backs FARC; Guatemala president heads for Moscow

>– FMLN Regime in San Salvador Opens Embassy in Havana as It Projects Moderate Image in USA, Sends President Funes to Meet Obama

– President Lobo Invites Deposed Predecessor Back to Homeland as Honduran Left Agitates for Lobo’s Removal, Zelaya’s Reinstatement

– Colombia’s Center-Right Parties Win March 14 Congressional Vote, Uribe’s Anointed Successor Faces Off Against Former M-19 Guerrilla in May 30 Presidential Poll

There appears to be a new willingness in Washington DC to acknowledge that Communist Venezuela is a “destabilizing force” in the Western Hemisphere. Last Thursday, in testimony to the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, General Douglas Fraser, chief of the US Armed Force’s Southern Command, admitted:

They [the Venezuelan government] continue to have a very anti-US stance and look to try and restrict US activity wherever they have the opportunity to do that. They are continuing to engage with the region and continuing to pursue their socialism agenda. They remain a destabilizing force in the region.

Venezuela continues to provide the FARC a safe haven and financial logistical support.

Fraser’s strangely frank comments came barely a week after the good general told a US Senate hearing that “The Pentagon has no evidence of a government-to-terrorist connection between President Hugo Chavez’s government and Colombian FARC rebels.” The good general’s sudden candor also suggests that—gasp!—communism may not be dead after all, in spite of its KGB-orchestrated funeral on Christmas Day 1991. For Internet surfers who may be too young to remember, on that day Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev announced the demise of CCCP V1.0. (V2.0 waits in the wings. See quote at top of this blog.)

Venezuela’s ambassador in Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, protested that Fraser’s about-face was politically motivated: “The Obama administration is continuing the aggressive policy against Venezuela of the Bush administration. They cannot accept a government with a different ideological perspective in this hemisphere.” Venezuela is among the USA’s top five oil suppliers and its second-leading trading partner in Latin America, after Mexico. However, in spite of the ideological differences between Washington and Caracas—that is, soft communist versus outright communist—Alvarez soothed: “Venezuela has no interest in reducing the oil trade.”

Comrade Alvarez is correct. Venezuelan oil will be used as a bargaining chip later, after President Barack Hussein Obama bans offshore drilling in the USA, after Russian companies begin drilling for oil in Cuban waters, and after Obama imposes full-blown socialism on America, beginning with mandatory private health care. In a March 18 editorial titled “Obama Surrenders Gulf Oil to Moscow,” the Washington Times worried: “Russia is projecting power in the Western Hemisphere while the United States retreats. The world will not tolerate a superpower that acts like a sidekick much longer.”

Russian companies also intend to exploit offshore oil reserves in Venezuelan waters. The two Communist Bloc allies are in reality playing energy politics with the intent of hobbling the infrastructure of the world’s remaining superpower. Additional confirmation of this conspiracy includes a March 17 comment from Chavez’s energy minister, Rafael Ramirez, who is also head of Venezuela’s state-run oil monopoly. The PDVSA boss stated that in spite of recent shutdowns due to power outages in the Netherlands Antilles and the US military presence in the Dutch-owned islands, Venezuela has no intention of abandoning its lease on the Isla oil refinery in Curacao.

Meanwhile, Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom has made his first pilgrimage to Moscow. In February he hosted Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who signed an agreement with Guatemalan counterpart Haroldo Rodas to combat the illicit drug trade. In 2007 then President Vladimir Putin visited Guatemala, at which time he met Colom’s predecessor, Oscar Berger, and inaugurated Russia’s first embassy in Guatemala City. Colom is Guatemala’s first center-left president since the communist-backed Jacobo Arbenz Guzman was overthrown by the military in 1954 and then spent some time in exile in Communist Cuba, before living out the remainder of his years in Mexico.

Colom, who has yet to lock his country into the Havana/Caracas-led Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), is already linked to Chavez by way of subsidized Petrocaribe oil. He also follows a parade of center-left and communist leaders from Latin America who have travelled to Moscow over the last 18 months, including Cuba’s Raul Castro, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, and Guyana’s Bharrat Jagdeo. Chavez himself materializes in Moscow on a nearly yearly basis.

Arriving in Russia on Sunday, Colom met counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, with whom he approved bilateral packages promoting cooperation in the military-technical field, oil and gas exploration, telecommunications, transportation, and tourism. According to the Ukrainian media, Russia is expecting a quid pro quo for all of the attention it is lavishing on this small Central American country: Guatemala must recognize the independence of breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Examining the raft of new Russian-Guatemalan agreements, it appears that this new alliance may very well lead to Guatemala purchasing Russian arms and hosting Russian “experts” to counter the endemic drug violence in Central America. The Soviet strategists are already cautiously cultivating similar linkages with the beleaguered Mexican government.

Commenting on their meeting, Medvedev enthused: “Russia sees Latin America as an emerging global force and plans all-round ties with countries in it.” The Russian president also thanked Colom for his role in promoting visa-free travel for Russians to Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. For his part, Colom gushed: “It would be a mistake if Guatemala and other Latin American countries refrain or abandon relations with a serious partner like Russia.”

The Marxist leadership of El Salvador’s ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) has yet to scurry to Moscow. It also appears anxious not to alarm US policymakers over El Salvador’s new-found relationship with Cuba. On the one hand, the real “power behind the throne” in San Salvador is Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, a doctrinaire Leninist who led the FMLN guerrillas into battle 20 years ago and cheered when Osama bin Laden’s disciples dive-bombed three airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Last year, in preparation for opening El Salvador’s first-ever embassy in Havana, Sanchez flew to Havana to confer with his Cold War-era mentors.

Several weeks ago, though, Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes, who represents the FMLN’s moderate “face,” travelled to Washington, where he had a friendly tete-a-tete with Obama. During the March 9 meeting the two presidents focused much of their discussion on the international drug trade that has left a path of death and destruction between South America and the US-Mexican border. “We want to be supportive, not only in addressing the symptoms that we see in terms of crime, but also the root causes, and I know that’s something the president [Funes] cares deeply about as well,” Obama remarked.

Prior to the Obama-Funes meet-and-greet, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that Washington has dropped the ball when it comes to the War on Drugs in Central America. Under the Merida Initiative, the US government allocated $1.6 billion to combat the drug trade in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, but most of the funds wound up in Mexico. Throwing more US taxpayer money at red banana republics like El Salvador will probably yield little tangible result until the Obama White House owns up to the fact that the Russian Mafia (FSB/SVR/KGB) is arming the Mexican drug cartels and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which produce 90 percent of the cocaine flowing into the USA.

As a sop to Washington, San Salvador has sent out mixed messages concerning future membership in ALBA, and offered to recognize Porfirio Lobo as the legitimate president of Honduras. Chavez recently appointed Manuel Zelaya as head of Petrocaribe’s Political Council, a move that clearly exposes the deposed Honduran president as a puppet of Venezuela’s red dictator. For his part, Lobo, a wealthy rancher who graduated from Moscow’s Patrice Lumumba University during the Cold War, is offering Zelaya, another wealthy rancher, the opportunity to return to his homeland without fear of prosecution.

Lobo’s decision is not wise because the Honduran Left continues to agitate for his own demise. “Our objectives these days are ambitious. We will have to work seriously and strenuously,” declared Carlos Reyes, union leader and member of the National People’s Resistance Front leadership. On March 16 1,000 leftists converged in La Esperanza for the second meeting for “Honduran Re-Foundation,” with the intent of “putting an end to the current dominating [regime] that plunders, exploits and oppresses the country.” Reyes accused the US ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, of “interfering openly in the country’s internal affairs and carrying out maneuvers to divide the resistance.”

Openly campaigning in Honduras, Zelaya would serve as a lightning rod for both domestic and foreign subversive forces. The latter could include Cuban, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan agents.

Meanwhile, the number of recently murdered journalists in Honduras reached three after gunmen fired AK-47 automatic rifles at Nahun Palacios, director of a TV news channel in the city of Tocoa. The killers fled the scene, leaving another man with Palacios seriously wounded. Last week two gunmen killed journalist David Meza in similar circumstances in La Ceiba, a town near Tocoa. Meza was a reporter for Radio El Patio and correspondent in his hometown for Radio America and TV Channels 7 and 10 in Tegucigalpa. On March 1 Joseph Ochoa of Channel 51 was murdered.

While it is possible that clandestine forces on the Honduran Right are once again plying their bloody trade, it is also possible that the Honduran Left, working with organized crime, is carrying out these provocations to force an over-reaction from Lobo’s government.

Finally, in what may be interpreted as a positive development for South America, in a March 14 election the four center-right parties that have backed Colombian President Alvaro Uribe over the past eight years won a handy majority in the country’s bicameral national legislature. These include the chief Uribist formation, the National Unity Social Party, as well as the Conservative, Cambio Radical, and National Integration parties. A presidential election is slated for May 30, but after two terms as president Uribe cannot run again. Uribe’s anointed successor is former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos, whose policies are viewed as a threat to its own longevity by the Chavezista regime in Venezuela. Throughout his presidency Uribe retained a 60 percent public approval rating. Santos is pictured above.

Santos’ main contenders are independent candidate Sergio Fajardo and Alternative Democratic Pole candidate Gustavo Petro Urrego. Leftist Urrego is currently a Colombian Senator but at an earlier stage in his career was an insurgent in the 19th of April (M-19) guerrilla movement.

>USA File: America moves toward socialized health care: House of Reps passes landmark reform bill, Republicans spurn mandatory coverage

>In Canada, where your resident blogger lives, the provincial governments administer the federal government’s socialized health care program. While the bill passed on Sunday by the US House of Representatives imposes mandatory health coverage on all Americans, no agency created by the US government will administer a centralized program–at least not yet. No doubt that will be the next stage in President Barack Hussein Obama and the Democratic Party’s attempt to transform the USA into a socialist utopia. Obama is expected to sign the legislation on Monday.

Key healthcare reform bill passed in the USA
OnMedica Staff
Monday, 22 March 2010

The US House of Representatives has voted to pass a key healthcare reform bill.

The change, tenaciously pushed forward by Presiddent Barack Obama, was passed by just 219 votes to 212, following hours of debate. It received no Republican backing.

The bill is a landmark move in the US. Under the new legislation health insurance will be extended to nearly all Americans, new taxes will be imposed on wealthier citizens and some restrictive insurance practices – such as refusing to cover pre-existing conditions – will be outlawed.

The reforms will increase insurance coverage through tax credits for the middle class and an expansion of Medicaid for the poor.

When the vote count reached the minimum needed to pass the bill, Democrats cheered and chanted: “Yes, we can!”.

Speaking after the result, Mr Obama said: “We proved that we are still people capable of doing big things.

“This legislation will not fix everything that ails our healthcare system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction.”

However, Republicans, say the measures are unaffordable and represent a government takeover of the health industry.

President Obama is expected to sign the legislation as early as tomorrow, but the Senate will be able to make changes to the measures in a separate bill.

On July 9, 2009, while visiting Moscow, Obama met with Gennady Zyuganov, Chairman of the (secretly ruling) Communist Party of the Russian Federation. In response to that meeting, Zyuganov enthused: “I said that I had thoroughly studied the U.S. president’s anti-crisis program, that I liked it, as well as that it is socially oriented and primarily aimed at supporting poor people and enhancing the state’s role. I said all this to President Obama.” When everything in society becomes mandatory, such as the mass fluoridation of public water supplies, then the fate of freedom is uncertain.

>EU/USSR2 Files: Putin rebukes Lukashenko for not recognizing Abkhazia, S. Ossetia; Belarusian KGB turns Polish ABW officer, passes docs to Russian FSB

>In a rare display of displeasure with the Belarusian leadership, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is visiting Belarus to chair the Council of Ministers of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, rebuked Alexander Lukashenko for dragging his feet on recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries. Apart from the Russian Federation, only Venezuela, Nicaragua, and diminutive Nauru in the South Pacific Ocean have extended diplomatic recognition to Georgia’s breakaway regions, both of which are occupied by the Russian army.

“Russia expected Belarus to support us in this issue quickly, energetically, and spectacularly. Indeed, this is not happening,” Putin grumbled to reporters at a press conference held in Brest, Belarus. He added: “However, whether to recognize these two regions or not is Minsk’s sovereign right.” Putin suggested that President Lukashenko was overly concerned about European Union sensitivities ahead of normalizing Minsk-Brussels relations. He added: “We have always favored an improvement of Belarus’ ties with Western countries. A positive effect has already been produced.”

With the hope of goading the recalcitrant Belarusians, Putin pledged to provide the country with cheap gas and oil that could save Minsk more than US$4 billion in 2010. Putin also urged Belarus to quickly adopt a joint currency with Russia.

Comrade Alex, however, was nowhere to be found in Belarus. Instead, he is touring Latin America, prompting some political analysts to speculate that Lukashenko fled Minsk before his Moscow master arrived to chew him out. The Belarusian government press service retorted by calling the media speculation “groundless.” Instead of Lukashenko, therefore, Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky (pictured above) bore the brunt of Putin’s drubbing.

Lukashenko is presently rubbing elbows with Hugo Chavez, where he once again offered to modernize Comrade Hugo’s air defense system by offloading some radar units and antiaircraft missile batteries. In a quid pro quo, the Venezuela’s red tyrant offered to sell 80,000 barrels of oil per day to Belarus, presumably at a preferential price. Lukashenko is expected to meet his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on March 22 in Rio de Janeiro.

Chavez plans to visit Belarus again in October, at which time he will most likely swing through Moscow for an annual briefing session with his KGB handler Putin. Lukashenko is also making plans to return to Venezuela in 2011. “Venezuela is our home, our land. And Belarus should become a familiar land for Venezuelans,” gushed the Belarusian president while in Caracas.

Although Putin feigns optimism for Belarus’ rapprochement with the EU, this is unlikely in the wake of at least two spy imbroglios that have developed between Belarus and former Warsaw Pact member Poland. As we previously reported, in March 2009 the Polish Internal Security Agency (ABW) arrested an alleged GRU agent, a putative businessman who had been legally resident in Poland for 10 years and boasted a strong command of the Polish language.

The Russian embassy in Warsaw disavowed all knowledge of the Russian national, whose apartment contained electronic signalling equipment. The office of Polish President Lech Kaczyński admitted that this was the first time a Russian spy had been detected in Poland since 1989, the year in which the Polish United Workers’ Party abandoned its public monopoly of power.

A second spy flap centers on the person of Belarusian “Mata Hari” Olga Solomenik, an alleged agent of the Belarusian KGB, which still operates under its old dreaded name. Solomenik joined the pro-government faction of the Union of Belarusian Poles and then traveled to Bialystok, Poland to recruit employees of the ABW. In Bialystok Solomenik “turned” ABW officer “Robert R” into handing over classified documents, which she forwarded to her KGB handlers in Minsk, which in turned were forwarded to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB/KGB). In February 2008 “Robert R” was arrested and currently faces espionage charges under Polish law.

“We have evidence that the Belarusian KGB used the pro-Lukashenko Union of Poles in Belarus to gather information in Poland, which was later forwarded to Russia’s secret service,” a former ABW officer was quoted by the Gazeta Wyborcza as saying. The anonymous source continues:

There’s a reason why nobody is talking about this. ABW cares about having good relations with the Belarusian KGB. Officially, we do not have good relations with Belarus, but cooperation with the KGB is necessary for [Poland] to monitor border traffic, as required by the EU. Brussels’ priority is to fight against illegal immigrants and contraband entering from the East.

Belarusian “Mata Hari” Solomenik is still at large. The Union of Belarusian Poles split into two factions in 2005. It is believed that Tadeusz Kruczkowski, the head of the pro-Lukashenko group, is also a Belarusian KGB agent. The fact that the communist regime in Minsk is using the pro-government faction to infiltrate the KGB into Poland may explain why it is cracking down so hard on the anti-government faction.

Elsewhere in the “post”-Soviet space, Moldova’s communists, who openly ruled the former Soviet republic between 2001 and 2009, are conniving to manipulate their plurality in parliament into a workable government. On Thursday they began a boycott of parliament in an ongoing bid to force the resignation of acting President Mihai Ghimpu and his pro-European Union coalition. The inability of the new legislature to elect a new president has aggravated the Moldovan economy, the poorest in Europe. Ghimpu’s ruling coalition plans to hold a referendum to amend election rules and make nominating a new president easier, but the communists denounced this plan as a “usurpation of power.”

The communist-scripted drama in Chisinau seems disingenuous since, according to Soviet defector Vladimir Bukovsky, the EU was from the beginning a Soviet project, while “ex”-communists lead some of the parties in the ruling coalition. It may be, though, that pure power politics is competing with the Soviet strategic deception in Moldova.