Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cruising the Web

Sorry for not getting to blogging yesterday. I was traveling back from the workshop I'd been taking sponsored by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. THe most valuable part of the seminars were having the opportunity to meet people who told us their stories of growing up under communism. I linked the other day to the story of the young man who escaped from North Korea as a teenager. On Monday we heard from a woman who grew up in communist Albania. Her grandfather had opposed the communists when they took power. As a result, he was labeled an opponent of the state and all his property was confiscated; he and his family were sent away to a small village to work as farmers. She and her siblings were not allowed to have an education beyond the eighth grade because the penalty for being labeled was that three generations of his family wouldn't be allowed further education. Imagine yearning for an education and being denied one because of your grandfather's political opinions.

On Tuesday, we were privileged to hear from Enrique Altimari, a former student leader of pro-democracy movements opposed to Maduro's government. He has had to leave Venezuela out of fear of arrest and is now studying at Oxford while working to gain support for opposing Maduro's efforts to outlaw opposition parties and checks and balances within the government. He talked to us about the conditions approaching famine that exist in Venezuela today as the government has ground the economy into the dust and can't compensate in bribing citizens for their support due to the falling prices of oil. He talked about the bravery of the seven million people who came out to vote in a plebiscite of opposition to the Maduro government despite the government's threat to arrest those who turned out to vote their opposition to Maduro's plans to rewrite their constitution.
The symbolic plebiscite was aimed at denting Maduro's legitimacy further amid a crippling economic crisis that has left millions struggling to eat and months of anti-government unrest that has killed nearly 100 people.

Opposition leaders hailed it as a success, while also mourning the death of one woman killed by gunmen in Caracas during the voting.

"Today, July 16, dignity won and tyranny lost," said opposition leader Maria Corina Machado. "We have given an indisputable mandate for a new Venezuela starting tomorrow."

Maduro, 54, dismissed Sunday's poll as unconstitutional and is campaigning instead for a July 30 vote to create a legislative superbody that would have the power to rewrite the constitution and dissolve state institutions.
Consider the bravery of citizens willing to risk prison or violence in order to register a purely symbolic vote.

Mary Anastasia O'Grady explains
how, despite overwhelming opposition to Maduro's government, he still maintains power. He is being propped up by the Cubans.
To keep its hold on Venezuela, Cuba has embedded a Soviet-style security apparatus. In a July 13 column, titled “Cubazuela” for the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba website, Roberto Álvarez Quiñones reported that in Venezuela today there are almost 50 high-ranking Cuban military officers, 4,500 Cuban soldiers in nine battalions, and “34,000 doctors and health professionals with orders to defend the tyranny with arms.” Cuba’s interior ministry provides Mr. Maduro’s personal security ligence and counterintelligence services.”

Every Venezuelan armed-forces commander has at least one Cuban minder, if not more, a source close to the military told me. Soldiers complain that if they so much as mention regime shortcomings over a beer at a bar, their superiors know about it the next day. On July 6 Reuters reported that since the beginning of April “nearly 30 members of the military have been detained for deserting or abandoning their post and almost 40 for rebellion, treason, or insubordination.”

The idea of using civilian thugs to beat up Venezuelan protesters comes from Havana, as Cuban-born author Carlos Alberto Montaner explained in a recent El Nuevo Herald column, “Venezuela at the Edge of the Abyss.” Castro used them in the 1950s, when he was opposing Batista, to intimidate his allies who didn’t agree with his strategy. Today in Cuba they remain standard far e to carry out “acts of repudiation” against dissidents.
Our speaker referred to his country not as version 2.0 of communist government, but as version 98.0, and challenged us to ask when the world will recognize how each version of communist government always descends into violent denials of human rights. I wonder how those celebrities who flocked to Caracas to express their admiration and friendship for Hugo Chavez such as Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon, Benicio del Toro, and Kevin Spacey defend the situation in Venezuela today. And why are they never asked to defend their cozying up to the dictator whose policies led to the impoverishment of what used to be one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America.

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Somehow, western supporters of socialism never seem to answer for what socialist governments have wrought throughout the world. Even today, Manchester is erecting a Soviet-era monument to Friedrich Engels.
ince 2015, the signs and symbols of the former communist era have been outlawed in Ukraine. Statues and murals are supposed to be removed and destroyed, and streets renamed. “But a lot of towns don’t know what to do with the sculptures. There’s no rationale for what to do with these icons or monuments, or what method of destruction to use,” says Collins. Sometimes the statues are left in a strange limbo – removed from their old spots, but left to moulder quietly out of the public gaze – for who knows whether one day they will be needed again?
Sounds rather like the "ash heap of history," eh?
Andrew Stuttaford posts some Engels quotes that Giles Udy, author of
Labour And The Gulag: Russia and the Seduction of the British Left, about how Britain's Labour Party has ignored and excused the violence and horrors of communism governments as if such results are totally unrelated to the ideology of socialism, has been tweeting.
[S]uch offensive, vulgar, democratic arguments! To denigrate violence as something to be rejected, when we all know that in the end nothing can be achieved without violence!”

This is our calling, that we shall become the templars of this Grail, gird the sword round our loins for its sake and stake our lives joyfully in the last, holy war which will be followed by the thousand-year reign of freedom.

We discovered that in connection with these figures the German national simpletons and money-grubbers of the Frankfurt parliamentary swamp always counted as Germans the Polish Jews as well, although this dirtiest of all races, neither by its jargon nor by its descent, but at most only through its lust for profit, could have any relation of kinship with Frankfurt.

We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror.

[General war will] wipe out all these trash nations [a harsh, but reasonably accurate translation of Völkerabfälle, the term Engels used] down to their very names. The next world war will result in the disappearance from the face of the earth not only of reactionary classes and dynasties, but also of entire reactionary peoples. And that, too, is a step forward.”
Yup, that's the sort of man that Manchester should want honored in their city.

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