World

The Uninspired Opposition

By the time the big name speakers were done and gone, the line of cars along 87th Avenue flanking the right southbound lane was still backed up for a quarter of a mile as more Venezuelans continued to arrive – hours late – to a12 o’clock-scheduled rally at Doral Central Park.

The energy of the crowd was decidedly lukewarm and never really numbered more than a thousand people at one time. Jose Antonio Colina, who leads many of these Venezuelan opposition events in Miami, was visibly frustrated with the people’s laissez faire disposition on this mildly hot Saturday afternoon and tried teasing them with jokes, at first. As the proceedings moved on, the attendees’ demeanor was not meeting with the former military man’s expectations. Eventually, Colina resorted to cheerleading at the top of his lungs over already booming speakers hoping, fruitlessly, to elicit a response in kind.

DORAL, FL – February 2: Venezuelan expats gathered behind barricades for a pro-Guaidó rally in Doral Central Park in Doral, Florida on February 2, 2019 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Some on the portable stage, towed there earlier, seemed to credit the weather via indirect remarks for the seeming lack of emotion. But, it was not particularly warm for South Florida standards and definitely far less humid than usual. No. This wasn’t a weather-related dud of a crowd. Perhaps, deep down, they all knew something was wrong.

A Telegraphed Coup

Few were caught off guard when Juan Guaidó swore himself in as president of Venezuela last week. The systematic attacks against the Maduro regime by the Atlanticist axis, led by U.S. economic sanctions, manipulation of oil prices and outright theft of sovereign assets in excess of a billion dollars have had the desired result in the South American country. Buttressed by sabotage from oligarchic factions within the country itself, which (contrary to Western media propaganda) control important business sectors, the nation’s economy has been brought to its knees. Guaidó’s “inauguration” was simply part of the same, ongoing subversive operation.

The usual suspects immediately declared themselves on Twitter, which seems to be the platform of choice for dissemination of Atlanticist discourse. Senator Marco Rubio came out ahead of the rest, throwing his total support behind the CIA-bred usurper and rallying the other pro-coup members of the house and senate. The Tweeter-in-Chief chimed in soon enough and the chorus began to regurgitate the party line around the globe. Brazil, recently fitted with their very own far-right, rich man’s populist was among the first countries to ratify the brazen affront to national sovereignty. A slew of aligned governments around the world followed in tow and the lapdog press has been treating Maduro’s downfall as a fiat accompli.

DORAL, FL – February 2: Retired Venezuelan military officer, Jose Antonio Colina, addresses rally-goers at Doral Central Park in Doral, Florida on February 2, 2019 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

The reality, of course, is much different. Maduro remains in control as the Venezuelan military and a big enough base continues to support him. Washington’s de jure president has been appointing his cabinet while embassy hopping; hiding first in the American and then the Colombian embassy – as has been reported. Meanwhile, Maduro has offered to hold a dialogue with the pretender; a strange move for a so-called “dictator”. Guaidó, predictably declined to entertain the idea as such optics would ruin the pretense.

Speaking of pretense, all of it was dropped when Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, matter-of-factly stated America’s intention of taking Venezuela’s oil as ransom. Such imperialist candor is very 21st century, ushered in as it was by the controlled demolition of two skyscrapers and a CIA vault (building 7) and subsequent declaration of perpetual war. The real estate developer cum reality star Donald has taken it to the next level, of course. The “open conspiracy” is here and Venezuela is quickly becoming a case study on how the world’s only superpower plans on flexing its muscle hereafter.

Guaidó himself issued a formal request for a U.S. invasion of his own country within the first 24 hours of self-appointing himself head of the Venezuelan people, cloaking it as “humanitarian aid”. The news cycle, currently embroiled in another tabloid scandal involving high school yearbooks, has not kept us abreast of the progress of his request. But, we can be sure it is being processed.

Exiles in Arms

Almost from the get-go at Doral Central Park, a distinction was drawn between those who are waiting to return to Venezuela and those residing permanently in Miami; the latter being the largest contingent, by far. Jose Antonio Colina and later, exiled clergyman Jose Palmar, exhorted those present to keep resisting Maduro’s regime from afar.

Palmar fled Venezuela in 2018 via Mexico, after years of criticizing the Bolivarian government of Venezuela on social media and leading anti-government protests. The catholic priest claims he was arrested and tortured by state forces in multiple attacks beginning in 2014. According to Palmar, he became a target after exposing corruption in the state-run oil concern PDVSA back in 2007.

DORAL, FL – February 2: Venezuelan Catholic Priest and political refugee, Jose Palmar, conducts impromptu blessing ceremony on his knees during a pro-Guaidó event at Doral Central Park in Doral, Florida on February 2, 2019 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Given Venezuelans’ ubiquitous religiosity, the father’s emotive delivery managed to generate excitement behind the barricades. It was intended to set the stage for the political luminaries who were about to come on the platform and drive home the message of exile-to-exile solidarity.

First up was Juan Carlos Bermudez, Mayor of the city of Doral. Cuban-born Bermudez would lead off with references to the Cuban exile experience, assuming a paternalistic tone as he urged Venezuelans to follow the path laid down by his anti-Castro brethren. Bermudez showed no trace of topical awareness when he twice joked about assuming power in Miami-Dade County on account of Mayor Gimenez’ absence. Only his fellow grifters waiting under a small tent beside the stage laughed.

Next up came Miami-Dade Commissioner for district 12, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, who laboriously made his way onto the stage and continued with parallels between Venezuela and Cuba, though his shockingly unintelligible Spanish likely precluded anyone present from actually understanding anything he was saying. Florida Senator, Jose Javier Rodriguez, and Miami Mayor, Francis X. Suarez followed with similar talking points.

In between, a three-headed hydra of the new, pro-war left came on to deliver short, trite speeches. Recently elected Congresswoman, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, struggled to look up from her lengthy notes, while her congressional colleague, Donna Shalala, had nothing much to say beyond a smattering of embarrassingly jumbled Spanish words. Of the three democratic members of the federal government, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was clearly the most prepared and seasoned speaker. Of the three – and possibly of all those present – she also has he most to gain from the events currently unfolding in Venezuela.

Wasserman-Schultz was just appointed to lead the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. Her District (22) is home to a number of security firms with extensive links to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and she has a long history of taking money from defense industry sources, including General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and BAE Systems.

DORAL, FL – February 2: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz poses with Guaidó supporters at pro-Venezuelan opposition event at Doral Central Park in Doral, Florida on February 2, 2019 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Her demeanor on and off stage betrayed the importance she is giving this particular issue. At one point, she walked along the entire barricaded perimeter with her assistant, collecting photo ops with rally-goers. None of the other politicians did anything close. Just the fact that she used this event to build political capital foreshadows bad tidings, as we are left to wonder how she intends to spend it.

Surely, someone in the building only a few yards away can offer an educated guess.

The Overseers

U.S. Southern Command is the head of the spear in American interventions from the Caribbean to Tierra de Fuego. So, it was more than appropriate for this anti-Maduro rally to take place within earshot of Southcom headquarters in Doral. It’s unlikely that any of the people wearing Venezuelan flag colors that day understood where they actually were. Most Americans, to be frank, don’t know what Southcom is or does, either.

They don’t know, for instance, that when this military agency was headquartered in Panama, it played a vital role in assisting right-wing military dictatorships all over South America murder, torture and repress their citizens. Southcom was the central relaying point for intelligence on left-leaning political and social groups in the hemisphere.

They also don’t know, that a few decades ago it became the single lead agency in the interdiction of drugs both inside and outside of the United States. A much more comprehensive treatment of these facts can be found in my recently completed docu-series “Borderline – The Unhinged Truth About the Drug War”, which is streaming free online.

The so-called drug war, is intimately related to the events happening in Venezuela. As I posit in my series – far from being the failed policy alleged by many – the war on drugs is actually a tool of American hegemony in this hemisphere and beyond.

DORAL, FL – February 2: U.S. Southern Command headquarters visible in the background as attendees to a pro-Guaidó event at Doral Central Park lean against barricades in Doral, Florida on February 2, 2019 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Accusations against the Maduro government of engaging in state-sponsored drug trafficking follow the same pattern utilized against any target country in the farcical drug war. More than once during the rally was the Venezuelan government branded as “Narcoterrorista”, an amalgam between narco-trafficking and terrorism emerging from the neo-con, post-911 perpetual war crew in Washington.

If an invasion of Venezuela does take place, it will be Southcom leading the way. Indeed, thanks to the drug war bilateral agreements signed by Venezuela’s closest neighbors, drug-war-trained troops are already lining up along their borders. It will also displace millions of people, creating an avalanche of refugees and placing undue pressure on neighboring states. Southcom has been preparing to manage an exodus of this magnitude since, at least, 2007 when they published “United States Southern Command Command Strategy 2016 – Partnership for the Americas”.

Unless the army has integrated psychics into their ranks, we should take this as a clear sign that there is much more than meets the eye to what is happening in Venezuela.

Ignorance of Treason is No Excuse

It might not be part of their conscious awareness yet, but the men, women and children who came out to support the Atlanticist coup of Venezuela on Saturday in Doral, Florida seemed to have a funny feeling about the whole affair. Their awkward silences and less than enthusiastic reactions when called to cheer Guaidó’s name revealed that, perhaps, in the back of their minds they don’t really believe this is the right course of action.

Regardless of the very real problems facing the Venezuelan people, much of it critically exacerbated by sabotage from without, the unabashed frothy-mouthed war hawks openly declaring their lust for Venezuela’s oil – the cornerstone of the country’s economy – might have given some of them pause.

After all, what will the future generations of Venezuela say of those who lent their support to the military invasion of a country they no longer call home, but still claim as their own and willingly handed over its most important natural resource to the invaders themselves?

If you were dropped in the middle of Mexico City, Buenos Aires or Bogotá and tried to find a Latin American, you would never come across a single person who described themselves as such. No matter how deep into Rio’s favelas or the most recondite parts of the Nicaraguan jungle you looked, such a creature would be more elusive than the Loch Ness monster.

Although coined by the French during their Napoleonic bid for a world empire the term has seeped, naturally, into the lexicon of the current and far more powerful global hegemon, the United States of America. Its purpose then was much the same as it is now: to homogenize a plurality and subsume separate and distinct peoples under a singular socio-political paradigm, based on etymology. Never mind that millions of the region’s inhabitants – the original ones, in fact – spoke and speak their own native languages, which are completely unrelated to the romance varieties imported from Europe.

Latin Americans, Latinos and the more recently concocted Latinx are all things, that only exist here in the house McDonald’s built; an expedient way to identify television market share, with no real social value. Second and third generation immigrants might adopt the format in public. But, behind closed doors, at family reunions and when they go back to visit grandma in the old country, nobody claims to belong to a contrived pan-lat-am diaspora. They are loyal to their own vocabularies and songs, unique to the places they come from.

The American penchant for lumping people from different backgrounds and cultures together is not new, of course. Their infamously bad grasp of geography is often on display and hardly draws any shame. On the contrary, they seem to relish it; as if not knowing where Peru is on a map is a sort of humblebrag display of domination.

Just yesterday, none other than the éminence grise of American broadcast journalism, Tom Brokaw, revealed his own cultural chauvinism when he tried to backtrack from comments he had made about Hispanics on a TV show. The comment itself calling on “Hispanics” work harder on assimilation, while reeking of MAGA-esque intolerance, was not particularly noteworthy or unexpected. It was his clumsy Twitterpology (yes, I made it up), that perfectly encapsulates my argument.

Historians typically frame Simon Bolivar’s attempt to bring every nation of the Americas under one flag in a noble light. But, it was just another imperialist doing what imperialists do. I didn’t work then and no amount of Latin Grammy award shows will make it work now.

Morbid Curiosity

P.T. Barnum could not have imagined a more salacious character to feature on his marquee posters. Donald Trump doesn’t even need make up; the orange skin, discoloration around the eyes and the bright yellow hair already give him a naturally clownish appearance. The act itself is grotesque. The elephant man, himself, would struggle to cause such revulsion. But, any apprehension by circus-goers, would fail to overcome the irresistible urge to see, once and for all, if the lion will eat the lion tamer.

The 45th President of the United States is the greatest show on earth, and the mainstream media are cashing in day-in and day-out. The Don Lemons, the Rachel Maddows, the Sean Hannities and the Tucker Calrsons climb on their fiber-optic high horses nightly to deliver their inflammatory monologues and preside over faux-opposition panels while behind the big top, animals are whipped and starved in their cages. The business of empire continues unabated while the people are transfixed by the loudmouth on the pulpit. The real actions and persistent policies of the American government are completely ignored.

MAGA hats and border walls make for riveting campaign rallies in the poorly educatednooks and crannies of this nation. Promises to “bring back jobs” and restore America to shining beauty are nothing but empty rhetoric designed to maintain the pretense of a popular base; to keep the illusion of democracy alive and give the voices of political analysts that flavor of sincerity. Underneath the pomposity and vulgarity of the Piñata Don extravaganza, hides an increasingly worried contingent of powerful corporate interests trying to salvage a global investment trade regime, which has been slipping away over the last decade.

The Best Laid Plans

When the Berlin Wall came down in the late eighties, Western investment bankers, lawyers and assorted capitalist enterprises went to work on the world with a blowtorch and a pair of pliers. Decades of slogging through the slow, and – in their eyes – ineffective protocols of the Bern Convention and WIPO, spurred corporate American giants like Pfizer, IBM, Dupont among others to change the focus of world trade from goods and services to intellectual property rights, setting their sights on the ongoing GATT negotiations.

They attacked the Uruguay round of talks, led by Pfizer CEO, Edmund Pratt, and managed to introduce IP into proceedings with the Basic Framework document. Though only a modest gain, it marked a significant victory for American multinationals, most of which relied heavily on investment in research and development to drive growth.

Out of the ashes of GATT, that drew to a close after Uruguay, emerged the WTO. What followed was a deluge of bilateral and multilateral trade deals largely benefiting Western corporations, and a tiny clique of lawyers, who cornered the market on writing, executing and arbitrating any disputes arising from these deals.

Hundreds of trade deals would be signed over the following ten to fifteen years. Riding the post-cold war propaganda wave of MTV, blue jeans and Michael Jordan, the U.S. hooked country after country on onerous agreements, which stipulated private companies could sue sovereign governments over internal legislations or other national developments, which might infringe on their investments and patent protection rackets. According to a study published in 2012 co-authored by Corporate Europe Observatory and the Transnational Institute, the number of investment arbitration cases ballooned from 38 to 450 between 1996 and 2011.

Over the last several years, many countries have either reneged on existing deals or have simply refused to renew their relationship with Western corporate entities. African nations extricated themselves from these agreements altogether, terminating existing ones and issuing a moratorium on signing new ones. Meanwhile, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela withdrew from the World Bank’s body, that administers trade disputes, the ICSID. Even Australia, a fellow Western nation, decided it would no longer include investor-state dispute provisions in its trade agreements.

The legal fees and the punitive judgments arising from the lawsuits pursued by corporations against sovereign countries can threaten the vital social services of many developing countries. Cases like Plama Consortium vs Bulgaria and Fraport vs The Philippines highlight the risk these legal fights pose to the sued nations’ populations. In the first lawsuit, although Bulgaria was awarded US$7m in legal fees, it remained on the hook for US$6.25m – which could have covered the salaries of over 1,700 nurses during a healthcare crisis, which was affecting the country at the time. The Philippines, was forced to spend US$58m to defend against two cases involving one plaintiff.

UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) found that legal and arbitration costs average US$8m. Adding insult to injury, “tribunals most frequently [require] parties to share tribunal and administrative costs equally and absorb their own legal fees”, which means that sovereign nations lose even when they win.

Coliseum Politics

This secret tug of war between profit-driven behemoths and foreign national interests, which has been unfolding over the last few years never makes it to the nightly news in America. As usual, people are only fed narratives which will serve to sway public opinion, that will justify the necessary measures – whether the soft stick of economic sanctions or the outright use of Apaches and Cruise missiles.

The story lines are always simple and geared towards the common denominator. Even if Americans were so frivolous as to get behind the bombing of Brazil for better prices on tin for General Electric, it’s probably easier to make up a narrative of evil doers and bad hombres.

Lurking behind the “free trade” infrastructure is the other arm of the hegemonic beast, expressed alternatively as the drug war in Latin America or Western-funded terrorism in oil-rich Middle East. These are points of entry for the muscle when Western diplomats and arbitration lawyers fail to get their point across.

Donald Trump’s job is to signal to the world, on behalf of Western corporate interests, that the trade regime is not going as they wish and that all bets are off until the world gets back in line. In the meantime, the military-industrial complex is sharpening its knives and waiting for the go-ahead. The trade-dealer in Chief already has his marching orders.

You Have Girlfriend Vietnam?

Colin Kaepernick has just betrayed everything he ostensibly stood (or knelt) for by signing on to be the face of Nike’s recurring “Just Do It” campaign. In doing so, he becomes an ambassador for child labor and worker exploitation throughout the world.

Nike, which manufactures its athletic-wear through third-party contractors in Asia has come under fire many times over the years, for lax oversight, and tacit encouragement of their business partners’ exploitative practices.

In  1997, scandalous working conditions were revealed in Nike’s third-party manufacturing plants in Vietnam, when their government brought legal action against the contractors and Nike after dozens of employees reported mistreatment, wage tampering and even sexual molestation.

Jill Ker Conway, a Nike director at the time, tried to assure board members stateside, that the company was addressing the allegations and doing everything in their power to correct the situation, but she was caught more than once obfuscating the facts and even lying on national television.

Working conditions in Nike’s other operations in the region, such as China and Indonesia, have never been scrutinized in the same manner as a result of stricter controls over information and corporate protection by those nations. Vietnam, itself, is not exactly a bastion of the free press, but its particular history with the United States and struggle to resolve the ongoing tragedy of UXO (unexploded ordinance), which has claimed more than 100,000 Vietnamese victims since the end of the war, gives them a reasonable axe to grind.

Minimum wage in Vietnam back in 1997 was approximately $42 a month, a figure Nike contractors were undercutting. Even at this pay-rate, a $150 pair Air Jordans – a normal retail price at the time – would cost Nike $1.50 to make. Such margins are unheard of for most businesses, but for transnational corporations like Nike, slave-wage labor is the reason they can afford to pay millions for world-scale marketing campaigns like “Just Do It”.

Intentional Grounding

Kaepernick is literally profiting from the worst of capitalism, while he dons the likeness of Malcom X and Fidel Castro on his shirt, and proclaims solidarity with the victims of police brutality in America.

Could it be a case of simple ignorance? Is Kaepernick just not aware of Nike’s history? In a sense, that really doesn’t matter. The fact that it IS Nike may make it more egregious. But, at its core, the problem is that he is leveraging a real and pervasive issue in the country, which he himself brought to the national consciousness, to make a buck.

Had he gone with Krispy Kreme doughnuts instead of Nike, it would hardly make a difference. The point is that everything he claimed to be about can now be called into question, and dismissed as nothing but an attention ploy and/or a lucrative business move.

He has made a mockery of Baltimore and Trayvon Martin, desecrated the image of true civil rights warriors like King, Robinson and Ali. What’s perhaps worse and more insidious is that he has given massive global corporations like Nike cover to pretend that buying their overpriced, slave-labor-manufactured products is some kind of action for social justice, as some people on Twitter are already implying:

Fantasy Football Dialectics

On the flip side, you have the faux patriots, predictably taking the opposite end of the absurd narrative and are defacing or destroying their Nike merchandise, reinforcing the entirely false premise propagated by the flag-waving, Monday-morning quarterbacks, that denounce NFL players who won’t stand for the national anthem from their laz-y-boys.

Trump, of course, seized the political moment and drove a deeper wedge into the American people, who are now more polarized than ever. Both sides of the divide now uphold completely self-defeating positions, and are allowing further encroachment by the ever-strengthening corporate-government alliance.

Not only are police departments around the country increasingly turning to militarized tactics and equipment, but the tech giants – who’ve now successfully corralled the vast majority internet users in their centralized platforms – are implementing  social-justice-flavored censorship strategies.

With this latest move, Nike is appealing to their uninformed, young customers whose brand awareness eclipses their historical awareness. They’re lining up and picking teams in a completely contrived, bogus game to the great detriment of society.

Colin Kaepernick is like a quarterback who throws an interception and starts blocking his own teammates to make sure the opposing team runs it back for a touchdown. Frankly, I wouldn’t want a guy like that on my team, either.

U.S.

HOMESTEAD, FL – The detention and separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border has sparked a swell of protests and marches across the country, as the mainstream media made this not-so-new problem headline news last week. The immediate outpouring of support for migrants and the, by now, predictable social media sniper fire from both sides of the proverbial aisle is part of a cycle, that began with the inauguration ceremony of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.

Since then, the polarization of American society has been razor sharp, and its subsequent manipulation by complicit media organizations, a case-study of Goebellian propaganda tactics. Nevertheless, at the center of it all, is the American people’s cognitive dissonance regarding what their country actually does around the world. Hollywood and network television have conditioned generations to believe in the righteous, virtuous American profile. On the surface, between L.A. and New York city, this narrative is plausible enough. But, once the metaphorical stars and stripes engages with resource-rich nations outside its borders, a fog of ignorance descends upon Americans, who by-and-large have little understanding of how their government’s foreign policies affects the populations of the rest of the world.

Demonstration Day

On Saturday, June 23, over a thousand people gathered under the intense heat of one of the farthest reaches of Miami-Dade County – a stones-throw from the most biologically vibrant part of the Everglades ecosystem – to march a few hundred yards towards a detention center, where reportedly dozens of youngsters, intercepted with their families at the border, are being housed away from their parents.

Earlier that day, two politicians were given a tour of the facilities. Scandal-plagued Wasserman-Schultz, who’s running for Congress and Senate candidate Bill Nelson, who had been turned away the day before. Nelson’s opponent, and current governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has not weighed in on the matter. A third politician, Nicolas Kimaz, was there to meet the marchers, busy propping up his foam board campaign signs, which kept toppling over from the winds of encroaching rain clouds. Kimaz, is seeking to fill the seat for Florida’s 22nd district, which includes the site of the recent school massacre, Parkland, FL. After informing me, unsolicited, about his qualifications to speak about the issue at hand, due to his own experience as a child soldier in Lebanon, he told me – with no sense of irony – that he was in Homestead that day to condemn the political exploitation of the children detained in the compound behind us.

HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: A tall woman in dreadlocks carries a sign in support of the children over the other marchers at the March to Keep Families Together in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Right in front of the building in question, three senior citizens, had arrived early to set up their pro-Trump, pro-detention counter-protest ‘kiosk’. Recycling a few hand-made signs seen before at other Trump-related events in Miami, these die-hard Trump groupies sat comfortably on their portable lawn chairs, equipped with water to keep hydrated and umbrellas to shield them from the scorching sun. As they awaited the marchers, the men indulged in a few wise-cracks about the protestors who were still nowhere to be seen. They seemed to feel safe, surrounded by a half dozen police cruisers and, at least, a dozen Miami-Dade police officers – themselves somewhat more apprehensive as they decided the best way to cordon off the area. As storm clouds got closer and darker, one of the old men remarked that “God” was going to punish the marchers with what, at this point, looked like an inevitable deluge. A comment only possible from someone who’s never had to cross a desert with a child in tow.

The Flood of Humanity

The silhouette of cardboard signs and flags began to be distinguishable in the distance at around 5:30 in the afternoon. A wave of protestors started to make their way down 288th street; the heat mercifully subsiding as incoming clouds produced a canopy over the area. Monitored and followed by policemen on foot and motorcycle, the demonstrators marched past two enormous petroleum silos belonging to the Homestead Air Force base, located just north of the detention center.

U.S.
HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: Soaked participants of the March to Keep Families Together take shelter from the rain underneath a gas station canopy in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Media presence was limited to a few local TV stations, but otherwise not significant. The crowd’s chants started to filter in, as the large multitude approached. Within minutes, the cul-de-sac created by police tape and parked cruisers was crammed with hundreds of protestors, with hundreds more following behind. Upon seeing the three Trump-supporters happily perched in front of the center, one of the marchers smartly suggested to a cop that they might want to remove them, given the numerical disparity between them and the imminent mob. The police officer agreed, in principle, but soon there would be no time to maneuver.

Just as the first flank of the demonstrators flooded the detention center’s entrance, many bringing stuffed animals and toys to leave at the gates, the skies opened up to a torrential downpour, which drenched everything within a 5-mile radius. Caught as they were between the anti-child detention horde and the actual child-detention complex, it would be a miracle if the three Trump supporters were able to save their signs from mother nature’s wet wrath. Unfortunately, I was unable to determine their fate, as I walked through the rainstorm hoping for a miracle of my own – that my expensive camera and lenses wouldn’t get soaked.

Keep Families Together
HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: A father carries a sign in support of migrant families with his young daughter on his back during the March to Keep Families Together in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Ideals vs Reality

Thankfully, I reached the small roof cover of the gas station half a mile away with perfectly functioning photographic equipment. I took some last shots of the marchers, some of whom also took cover alongside me, while others continued on undeterred by the rain and thunder. These were essentially good people who felt the need to express their opposition to something they believe is wrong. The three Trump supporters, are good people, as well. They, too, felt the need to defend something they believe is right. Neither (for the most part), understand the reality, that has brought them here on this day to stand by their respective principles.

The foreign policy of the United States towards Latin America is a very complicated, but consistent regime of oppression and economic subjugation framed within the parameters of the Monroe doctrine, which basically claims everything south of the Rio Grande as the exclusive purview of American interests. Strategy and implementation have varied throughout the decades, but the ultimate goals of resource extraction, debt burdens or perpetual trade advantages have been achieved through the subversion of the political processes in Latin America, including direct interference in presidential elections and actively backing the region’s most repressive dictatorships, while assisting in the overthrow of many others.

HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: A young, Hispanic girl chants along her mother at the March to Keep Families Together in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

America’s policy in Latin America over the last forty years has been dominated by the war on drugs, which has decimated subsistence economies and is largely responsible for the constant flow of migrants northward, in search of deliverance from the clutches of increasingly powerful drug cartels and the corrupt governments, which run their countries. The fundamental role, that the United States plays in this state of affairs is never examined by mainstream news sources, and rarely by anyone else.

In my documentary series “Borderline – The Unhinged Truth About the Drug War”, I break down how this so-called failed policy is really a vital tool of American hegemony. Part one details an event, which occurred in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila just a few years ago, and which shows the horrific reality that people only a few miles away from the border are facing.

The true scope and consequences of the U.S.’ foreign policy in Latin America are exposed as the series unfolds. I’m sure that at its conclusion, viewers will see the immigration crisis in America through a new, and more informed lens. I’ve included a special access link to part one at the end of this article, and I invite everyone to watch and share.

HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: Protesters approach the child detention center along 288th street during the March to Keep Families Together in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.


The Trump Sink Hole

Like Saturday’s washout, any energy we waste shaking our fists against Donald Trump or screaming our support for him, is energy that will never be used to address the real causes behind the problems that lie at our doorstep. Instead, we keep falling into the big, orange sink hole, because we lack the necessary information.

The children being separated from their families and detained in so-called “tender-age” camps are a symptom of a much bigger and systemic problem. Eight U.S. administrations have waged the disastrous war on drugs, year after year, decade after decade. Trump will continue to wage it. Hint: it’s not really about drugs.

BORDERLINE – PART ONE | Access Password: “borderlinepremiere”

Fox

MIAMI BEACH, FL – Trump nemesis, and former Mexican President, Vicente Fox Quesada delivered the inaugural keynote address in front of a few thousand guests, exhibitors, and invitees at the fifth iteration of eMerge Americas, one of the newest technology conferences in the country, focusing on Latin American and local tech startups.

Known for his straightforward style, and colorful language, Fox got right to the point, beginning with a soliloquy on what he called the “underground” threat to globalization. Citing Brexit and the separatist movement in Catalonia, he then singled out Donald Trump as the new driving force behind the sinister plot to break up the “progress” and “enlightenment” so far achieved by the breaking down of national barriers to trade and people.

Fox warned, with the tone of a man with inside knowledge, that President Trump was not revealing his true intentions to the American people.

Trump “Has not yet shown what is below the surface; has not clearly stated to the American people where he is taking this nation. He’s got a plan,” Fox said, “he knows where he’s going. But, I don’t think U.S. public opinion knows what the path is.”

Fox
MIAMI BEACH, FL – April 23: Vicente Fox Quesada, former President of Mexico, delivers keynote speech at the eMerge Americas tech conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center on April 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

He continued with a look into the future, in which he forecasted human lifespans of 130 years, and a civilization enjoying the fruits of robot labor. The six-foot-four, one-time Coca-Cola executive, declared that NAFTA had achieved its goal of bridging the economic gap between north and south, and predicted that all of North America would reach one-to-one economic parity in the coming years.

After his relatively brief address, Fox sat down for a discussion with John Harwood, Chief Washington D.C. Correspondent for CNBC, who pressed him on his remarks about Trump.

“Now, if I understood you correctly,” Posed Harwood, “you said you thought that the president, our president has only revealed part of what his agenda is. But, there’s much more coming, that we have not seen. What do you mean by that?”

Fox, however, didn’t provide any hard evidence for his claim, and instead went on to talk generally about the dangers of populist governments, like those which litter the history of Latin America.

The conversation then veered off into the speaking engagements he’s taken on since his exit from public office, candidly telling his audience, that he only does it to generate revenue for his three foundations. Harwood, at one point, asked him how his anti-Trump t-shirt sales were going, to which the former president responded, that he had yet to see the numbers.

Fox
MIAMI BEACH, FL – April 23: Vicente Fox, and John Harwood hold a discussion at the eMerge Americas tech conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center on April 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

His mention of a Cannabis conference he will be hosting at Centro Fox in Mexico, opened the door to expounding on his views concerning drugs and legalization, as he is in favor of complete legalization. After Harwood asked sarcastically whether he didn’t believe Mexico was at fault for the drug problem in the United States, Fox stated categorically that the “headquarters” of the big drug cartels are not in Mexico, but here in the United States.

“Those who distribute here. Those who raise the money here. Those who benefit from the crime and drugs are the U.S. cartels.” Said Fox.

Eventually, the topic would inevitably turn back to Trump and his protectionist policies, pointing out the folly in shutting out 80% of global GDP, or the rest of the world. “What’s going to happen with GM, with Chrysler, with Ford?” Asked Fox, “They make the profits out there.”

Harwood ended the discussion with a question he’d been trying to get an answer to from the beginning; whether Fox thought there would be a new NAFTA deal. Fox came back with an emphatic yes, but left a 5% chance for a negative outcome.

“This is another false promise…” Fox said, referring to Trump’s threat of scrapping the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico’s newly expanded trade deal with the EU, agreed to in principle only days ago, might be the reason for his optimism.

But with presidential elections looming south of the border, and a populist candidate from the left leading in all polls, the only certainty is that you won’t live to 130.

Trump Cuba

Russian spies, border walls and pussy grabbin’. If the Trump presidency so far has seemed like a nostalgic trip down memory lane with a detour through the worst parts of the 1950’s, it’s because that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be. Nothing proved that more than yesterday’s Cuban policy reversal, officially commemorated in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood at Manuel Artime Theatre. The small, mediocre venue looks like it may have once been a church. Christened after a man chosen by Allen Dulles to lead the C.I.A.’s doomed incursion into Castro’s Cuba, actual members of the paramilitary group Brigade 2506, served as a backdrop for the proceedings. Sitting in makeshift bleachers on stage, the octogenarians faced the packed theatre and the backs of the distinguished speakers.

Opening remarks fell to Senator Mario Diaz-Balart, one of two former relatives of Fidel Castro* in the building. His brother, former congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, was gleefully hopping from one press camera to another giving short, gushing interviews about the policy review. Back on the podium, the Senator had sufficiently warmed the crowd up and invited his colleague Marco Rubio, architect of the whole affair, to appear on stage. Walking out to loud cheers, the young scandal-plagued, first generation Cuban-American Junior Senator soaked up the acclaim showered on him by hundreds of aging, adoring Cuban exiles in the audience. After a few words, he kept the carousel moving, introducing the governor of the State, Rick Scott, who cut his usual, dry and unmemorable figure. Following Scott’s robotic presence was a surprisingly affable Vice President Mike Pence. In hindsight, his brief, yet grandiose words were the perfect aperitif to the main course of slobbering populism that awaited backstage.

Miami, FL – Luis Haza plays the Star Spangled Banner at Manuel Artime Theatre – June 16, 2017 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles.com ©2017 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

When Donald Trump emerged, it may as well have been Beyoncé parachuting down at the DNC victory party that everyone thought was going to happen. The mostly middle-aged spectators, from the front row to the mezzanine, jumped out of their seats with cellphones raised in camera-mode and screaming for joy. The ovation left no doubt who they were really there to see. The President started fast, reminding everyone that he was there to carry out his campaign promise of reversing Obama’s “deal with Cuba” and couldn’t resist mentioning Iran in the same breath, but quickly got back on message. Actual policy changes weren’t on the itinerary. Most of Obama’s “deal” remains intact, including the reopening of the American embassy in Havana and travel to the island but only a few token changes served well enough to make a big show of it and massage an old wound that is routinely kneaded by Republican politicians whenever they come to South Florida.

Trump managed the crowd like a man who knows how to push buttons. Slowly, he worked through the easy marks. He talked about the hardships of the men and women in the bleachers behind him, relating all of it back to the audience members who themselves had suffered at the hands of the Castro regime. Round after round of applause was elicited by stories they had all heard a thousand times, but somehow found a bit more validation when the current occupant of the White House referred to them. Suddenly, Trump began telling a story nobody in the audience seemed to know, about an eight-year-old violin prodigy whose father was imprisoned soon after Castro took over. His name was Luis, he explained, and such great things had been heard about the boy that the new government wanted him to use his gift to serve the revolution. Like in a scene straight out of “The Red Violin”, the child was tracked by a group of soldiers who urged him to play for them. The boy was reluctant and in an act of defiance, began to play the “Star Spangled Banner” to the shocked revolutionaries. To top it off, Trump trots out Luis himself, now a fully-grown adult man, to play the national anthem on his violin in front of the stunned crowd. It was a climactic moment that underscored the theme of the whole afternoon and a few minutes later, the President would make his way towards the tiny oak table to sign his new Cuban policy directive.

Miami, FL – President Trump signs new Cuban policy directive at Manuel Artime Theatre – June 16, 2017 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles.com ©2017 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Nothing was accomplished other than the humoring of a few thousand old folks who cling to a world that has already come and gone. Fidel Castro is dead and the decades-old Cuban embargo has produced exactly zero results. Change is not only inevitable, it has already taken place and no amount of nostalgia will restore things to the way they were. Trump found great solace in the crowd yesterday. These were people, who like him, cannot deal with a mutable world and seek to stop the onslaught of change by building walls, barricades and fortifications. But not even the President of the United States can stem the inexorable tide of change, no matter how many threats, bombs or sanctions he throws at it.

A multi-polar world is in the offing, spurred on by a revolution far more powerful than the one launched by Castro almost sixty years ago. It is the information revolution that is transforming the way everything works and is reducing the leverage of large state actors like the United States, who will increasingly find themselves at the mercy of global, non-state collectives asserting their rights and pursuing their interests. Things like the blockchain, the IoT and the creative commons are upending traditional notions of capitalist organization; big data-driven companies are re-writing the way business is done and growing automation in the workplace is leading us into a labor-less society that will demand new ways of organizing ourselves.

Trump’s election is a symptom of the same resistance to change and while yesterday’s event in Little Havana was billed by his supporters as a reclamation of things as they should be, it was simply a reprising of a past that is no longer viable.

*Mirta Diaz-Balart, Fidel Castro’s first wife, is Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart’s aunt.

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The Resistance Comes to FIU

On the occasion of the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America that took place at Florida International University’s south campus, the “resistance” gathered to show their displeasure at the Trump administration. While Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson addressed attendees inside the Ernest R. Graham Center, protestors outside waved mostly anti-Trump and pro-immigration signs as they chanted anti-fascist slogans.

With protestors numbering in the low dozens, the momentum of liberal movement in Miami has floundered since it exploded on to the scene during the first days of the Trump presidency. Security was heavy on the ground and on the rooftops; both local and state police shared reconnaissance duties with the secret service and probably a few members of the security teams of the foreign leaders also present at the regional summit.

It remains unclear what the so-called resistance hopes to achieve and whether they are attracting anyone other than disgruntled Hillary voters to their pseudo political party. As Trump begins the second half of his first year in power, the shrieking voices calling for his head and drawing comparisons between him and Hitler appear to be fading into the inevitability of our day-to-day struggle to keep our jobs and pay our mortgages.

Real social movements cannot emerge from contrived social issues or perceived electoral slights in a system most of us distrust anyway. The crowds are bound to get smaller and smaller at these sponsored events because they are fighting a phony problem. The genuine problems are carefully hidden behind sensational media coverage of inconsequential matters and laser-like focus on the “presidential tweets”.

If a true resistance movement is to surface in the United States, it will be based on vital concerns like access to water or food. If our nation’s economic policies continue on their 4-decade-long path, that day will not be far off and you can be sure that protestors will be armed with more than cardboard signs, polyester flags and megaphones.

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