Venezuela’s Maduro: Unlike US Asylees, Snowden didn’t Blow anything Up, just said ‘This is not Right’

Globovision reports that President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela on Friday offered asylum to US leaker Edward Snowden, in order, he said, to protect him from “imperial North American persecution,” describing the US government as among the “most oppressive in the world.” He said he hoped Snowden would be able to live “quietly in the free country of Bolívar and Chávez.”

Maduro made the statement on Venezuela’s Independence Day, commemorating that country’s July 5, 1811 declaration of independence. A week and a half ago, Maduro had complained that the US routinely grants asylum to right wing Venezuelans who were guilty of terrorism and killings, and that it was a small thing to give asylum to someone who merely blew the whistle on government surveillance. Maduro pointed to the US allowing Luis Posada Carriles to live freely in Miami, even though he blew up a plane with 73 persons aboard and thereby nearly killed prominent American journalist Stephen Kinzer. It is thought that the US government protects Posada Cariles because he had worked for the CIA and could reveal many unsavory secrets if he were extradited abroad.

Maduro signaled that several Latin American leaders had showed a determination to adopt the same position as his own. Indeed, soon after his own announcement, Nicaragu’s Daniel Ortega said he would welcome Snowden “with great pleasure” if circumstances permitted. The US U.S. Marines occupied Nicaragua for most of the period from 1912 to 1933 and Washington later supported the Samoza dictatorship against which Ortega and the Sandinistas rebelled. In the 1980s, US President Ronald Reagan funded “contra” death squads to kill the Sandinistas, but lost. (Reagan got funding for the Contras from Saudi Arabia and from secretly stealing weaponry from the Pentagon warehouses and selling it under the table to Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, whom Reagan had designated a terrorist).

One of the things that appears to have pushed Maduro into making a final and open decision on the matter was the denial overflight rights to Bolivian president Evo Morales by several Western European countries on Tuesday, apparently because of US pressure. Washington suspected that Snowden might be on the Bolivian Air Force jet. Morales was returning from energy talks in Moscow. Morales was forced to divert to Vienna, where Austrian authorities allegedly asked permission to search the plane but were refused. France’s Francois Hollande later explained that his country had not known the plane was Morales’s. Six of the Latin American leaders were furious at this treatment of one of their own. Maduro called the diversion of Morales’s plane an “act of aggression” and said he had evidence that European airspace was closed to the Bolivian president by the US Central Intelligence Agency.

The USG Open Source Center paraphrased from the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s comments of last week, which telegraphed his decision (I added the hyperlinks to further identify the individuals to whom the US government has granted asylum, one of whom blew up an airplane with 73 people aboard, and two others who set off bombs at the Colombian and Spanish embassies in Caracas):

“Caracas Radio Nacional de Venezuela Online on 26 June reports that President Maduro criticized that the US Government demands that other governments deny political asylum to former national security expert Edward Snowden despite protecting terrorists such as Luis Posada Carriles.

He also rejected that “the United States has granted political asylum to several former Venezuelan military officers who, led by fascist groups, set off bombs at the Colombian Embassy and the Spanish Consulate and who live in Miami with the protection of the US Government.

The United States granted political asylum to an unsavory character named Eligio Cedeno, who launders drug money and was tried in Venezuela on this charge. He has also received protection.”

He condemned that the US Government is demanding Snowden’s arrest and extradition. He added: “This 29-year-old man has not set off bombs, murdered anyone or stolen anything. All he did was look at himself in the mirror one day and say to himself: ‘What I am doing to the world? This is not right’ He rebelled. He (Snowden) belongs to a great rebellion of US youths that is under way, the rebellion of consciences, (and) the rebellion of principles.”

He reiterated that the United States “spies on the entire world,” which “violates the international laws of self-determination (and) sovereignty.” He expressed confidence that “80 percent” of Venezuelans would agree with granting asylum to Snowden, which is “a deeply humane position.”

In a related report, Caracas El Universal Online on 27 June cites Maduro reiterating that if Snowden filed for political asylum, “we would consider (his request) and most likely would approve it.” He commented: “Apparently, Ecuador has received a formal request from them and is considering it.”

25 Responses

  1. Maduro and Morales are blowhards who are vying for leadership of the Latin American Left after Chavez’s death. No responsible international observer should place his bets on any follow-through on the part of these poseurs. Rafael Correa, who is much more astute than either Maduro or Morales, has already backed off regarding asylum for Snowden in Ecuador.

    • Gee, you have to wonder, given even the little tiny recitation given by Professor Cole of a tiny bit of what those “immature conspiracy theorists” seem to have some pretty decent evidence that “our government” has done over the decades, maybe centuries now, to “Shape the World” in the image desired by those who run so much of everything, or want and seem to intend to, see Dulleses and Koch and Bloomberg and a few thousand others, if maybe Correa, with all those Southern Command “assets” and “forces” in his country and nearby ready for deployment, and the other kinds of “power projection” by the US that there’s lots of evidence also gets used, hasn’t been subjected to a little, ah, pressure? Which given what’s happened to other elected leaders who have gotten crossways with “Washington” and ended up deposed or dead, I guess would make him “astute.”

      There would seem to be a blowhard ’round here, all right, who I guess claims the exalted status of “responsible international observer.” Wow.

      • And the point of your little set-piece above is…what, Mr. McPhee?

        I suggested that the big talk coming out of Maduro will only have meaning if backed by deeds, and I suggested that no responsible observer should place bets on such an eventuality, given his history of being a blowhard. Rather than promote your conspiratorial view of history, why don’t you address the question of Maduro’s follow-through on his big talk? Talk is cheap, deeds require more grit. What do you think?

    • Maduro, Ortega, and Correa are seasoned Latin American leftist politicians who will use Snowden as a tool for their political purposes to stick it to the “Colossus to the North”…and nothing else; so, forget altruism, principle idealism and all that.

  2. The US is and always has been on the wrong side of history. A country founded on slavery and genocide, has in the last century grown up and moved on to being an imperialist power.

    As citizens, we are bombarded with a constant onslaught of propaganda. Bill’s comment, illustrates how effective this propaganda is. It begins in grade school, when we are taught hero worship of people like the plutocrat slaver, George Washington. US school children were also never taught about how the American Revolution was fought. The plutocrats, like Washington, conscripted the peasant class into their war– if Washinton came to your village, and you wouldn’t fight in his army, he murdered you on the spot. In US grade school, young children are fed propaganda like, “George Washington never told a lie.” The propaganda continues throughout grades K-12, and even in some lesser college programs.

    After defeating the US in their imperial war of aggression against his country, Hồ Chí Minh was shown to the president’s mansion. He walked around the mansion to the gardeners quarters, and laying his pack down in the gardener’s shack, said, “This will do.” He then turned the mansion into an orphanage/hospital to care for some of the *many* children orphaned and mutilated by the Americans. But, the US propaganda machine would never allow Americans to read this positive, and factual, account of Hồ Chí Minh in their history books. Makes every leader we have ever had look very bad in comparison, and violates the US official narrative of “Communist bad– communists cannibals” and other nonsense propaganda.

    A real history, would at least mention, the US military bombing striking, unionized, coal miners in Blair Mountain, Appalachia. US government attacks on the civil rights movement, COINTELPRO, and other domestic oppression. The role the US has had in overthrowing democracies around the world and installing bloody dictators (e.g., Guatemala 1954, Iran 1953, Congo 1960, Chile 1970, Haiti 1991 *and* 2004 (Bush Sr. and Bush Jr.), etc. etc. etc.). The numbers of dead directly due to US policies (e.g., over 1/2 million *children* killed by Clinton’s sanction regime against the Iraqi people [per UNICEF], etc.)

    A lot of countries in Latin America are a mess, but it is directly because of the US that they are in that state. Whenever any leader in Latin America attempts to improve conditions, the US stages a coupe and installs a bloody dictator (same holds true in parts of the Caribbean and Africa). Torture and death squads are par for the course– we train the perpetrators here in the US (at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia). We even, actively, support genocide (R. Reagan should have been tried for his role in the genocide that took place, with support from his administration, in Guatamala– he both illegally armed the regime carrying out the genocide, and he closed the US boarders to asylum seekers, per his administration’s policies, assylum seekers were, illegally, repatriated without an asylum hearing after which, they were knowingly tortured and executed).

    But the majority of the US population is too glued to their TVs and Facebook to notice any of this. Worse, the “news” and “information” they do see through the major outlets is mostly official propaganda repeated as “news”.

    Bill, you (s most Americans) have been drinking the Cool Aid.

    • For more on this topic read Eduardo Galeano’s “Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent”

      • “For more on this topic read Eduardo Galeano’s “Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent”

        For a better, more balanced approach to the topic, read anything by the Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, but particularly his book, “The Other Path.” Hernando de Soto offers a much more nuanced take on the reasons Latin America has failed to develop and reach its potential.

        • This is from a Slate article about Hernando: “At last year’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Bill Clinton, the event’s unofficial king, publicly declared that de Soto was “probably the world’s most important living economist.”"

          Beware of anyone praised by our former snake-oil-salesman-in chief who signed in the disastrous act that repealed Glass-Steagall and paved the way for the banking disaster that unfolded in 2008. The full article is at link to slate.com

        • Rather than attempting to smear Hernando de Soto by association, I suggest you read him and determine for yourself what you think of his ideas, Mr. Bodden. In fact, I would encourage everyone to read both Galeano and de Soto. Nothing like reading two different perspectives on Latin America to widen one’s horizons.

    • Annon, judging from your completely one-sided, and largely ahistorical, recitation of American history above, it is evident that you are the one who has drunk the Kool Aid. Your cartoon version of American history is so skewed to fit your preferred Narrative that it would be laughed out of any discussion by serious, responsible historians.

      Not that you don’t have some valid points to make, but they are completely undermined by your selective omission of great swaths of American history that you don’t want to acknowledge. Only on the internet, where anyone can post anything, regardless how bizarre and skewed, does such a conspiratorially-inspired Narrative qualify as “history” by the uninformed.

      • My point was not to smear de Soto, but to encourage skepticism instead of taking your promotion of him at face value.

  3. “… in order, he said, to protect him from “imperial North American persecution”

    Who is going to protect Maduro and Venzuela from “imperial North American persecution”?

    • Sure seems to me that Bill’s implicit claims of both “responsible observer” cred and some unspecified, undocumented, but presumptively elevated present or former position of participatory (“I was in Chile {in some unmentioned but implicitly quasi-official capacity} when Allende was ousted and killed, so I know what happened”, and other bits like “I have lived in other countries so I know all about them, more than you irresponsible juvenile conspiracy theorists”) clout in the imperial apparatus he assured the rest of us is nothing but a “juvenile conspiracy theory,” give him more status as a purveyor of the propaganda that we ordinary citizens have been force-fed and had snuck into our earholes and eyeballs for how long now?

      Hate to frame it that way, but then there’s that hackneyed bit about “quacks like a duck…” More of the same is going to kill all of us.

      • “Sure seems to me that Bill’s implicit claims….”

        If you are going to quote me, Mr. McPhee, then quote me. But don’t let your fevered imagination run amok by suggesting that my comments “imply” anything. I have never made, and do not make, “implicit claims.” Please do not attempt to suggest such, presumably in order to juxtapose it against your preferred Narrative.

        • That’s the smart part about just implying special background and knowledge, like being a “responsible observer of history” and being in Chile when Allende was killed and knowing ‘what really happened,’ and having supposedly lived in all those other countries and thus having the Truth about all the stuff that happens there, and the other bits that are part of the on-behalf-of-the-Way-Things-Just-Have-To-Be Narrative.

          And on a personal note, discounting and dismissing this writer’s heated-but-as-far-as-I-can-see honest and accurate observations on the Game of War as a brief participant in the Vietnam chapter and Current Serious Observer of it because, after all, I’m not the only one who was ever sent to Vietnam.

          Makes it harder to call out the claimant for maybe playing the rhetorical game with less than full candor, or to evaluate the Self-Appointed Expert Witness’s training, skills and knowledge, following the rules-of-evidence wisdom of Frye, Daubert and Kumho. link to wvu.edu

          Seems to me this whole long conversation is “about” trying to find a means of encouraging individual, organizational and state behaviors that actually make life “better,” calmer, safer, less insecure, less prone to triggering the worst in us. With participation by partisans of this or that cancerous entity or behavioral stream who want just More Of The Same, without consequence for, and with varous benefits to, themselves.

  4. “….Maduro pointed to the U.S. allowing Luis Posada Carriles to live freely in Miami, even though he blew up a plane with 73 persons aboard…”

    What President Madura does not mention is that Posada, a former U.S. Army officer, was acquitted in Venezuela by a military court and later by a civilian court of complicity in those two bombings. Posada spent years in detention that nation before escaping prison awaiting a prosecutor’s appeal of the second acquittal.

    The United States Justice Department attempted to try him for giving false information to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, but a jury acquitted him in Texas in 2008.

    Luis Posada is revered in Miami as a hero of the anti-Castro Cuban exile movement and had long-documented ties to the U.S. intelligence community.

    • Posada was found not guilty by a military court; however, this ruling was overturned and he was held for trial in a civilian court. Posada escaped from prison with Freddie Lugo in 1977, turning themselves in to the less-than-sympathetic Chilean authorities.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

    • “Luis Posada is revered in Miami as a hero of the anti-Castro Cuban exile movement and had long-documented ties to the U.S. intelligence community.”

      Sounds to me like good reason to believe that he is the sort who would murder innocent civilians.

  5. I think Snowden, on the one hand, is an idiot and should have better thought things through. Why not somehow release what he had anonymously? Or send to all major newspapers / internet sites at the same time? Should he not have been smart enough to do so?

    On the other hand he is a coward. I think that had he not suspiciously gone to Hong Kong and Russia and stayed here to face the likely consequences, he might have received more respect even if you still hated what he did plus the media would likely be less focused on playing “Where’s Waldo?” with the guy and (hopefully) be more focused on what he revealed.

    Also, if you think about it, what he basically did was reveal that we have an alarm system. It could be like putting a sticker on the American window that we are protected and terrorists may be less inclined to break in to the country and do harm. Even if they still wanted to try, it makes things a bit more difficult for them to get around despite the fact they seem to use low-level, even primitive, tactics to begin with. That is, if the NSA program is truly being used properly for that purpose without abuse and such. On top of that, terrorists have to already know we have been on high alert ever since 9/11, so basically, how is this really news to them?

    Finally, if Snowden gave no specific information directly pertaining to any individuals or groups deemed “the enemy” that we know about them personally or how the system is precisely implemented and can be circumvented, how is he a traitor, as some are calling him? How can he be a traitor by revealing we are spying on our own allies and friends? How is he a traitor giving the American public a heads up that this over-blown system exists where the NSA is essentially watching us just in case one of us goes rogue or a terrorist slipped into the country?

    Is it odd that I find the whole circus treatment of Snowden is more bothersome than the NSA program itself? Yes, so long as we the people get legal assurances we are not having our privacy invaded without just cause and that the system will not be abused in any way by anyone with access to it now and in the future. If abused, give us assurances those responsible will be held accountable to the full extent of the law without hiding behind “classifications”, that those who are accused unjustly can get full redress, and that a true whistleblower will be able to alert us to any abuse without punishment, let alone disdain.

    • Chris M.,
      I think you missed the point, by quite a wide margin.

      Snowden revealed illegal and unwarranted surveillance.
      It is surveillance that WILL be used improperly, and probably already has been used improperly dozens or even hundreds of times.

      It collects the sort of information that causes Congressmen to change their votes inexplicably.
      It collects the sort of info that allows apparent criminals to escape accountability.

      I understand that you don’t care about whether our government is constrained by the 4th Amendment.
      I think that makes you an outlier in most circles.
      This isn’t about Snowden personally. It is about your and my rights to be left alone.

      • Sorry. Let me see if I can clarify a few points.

        I guess my post was mainly out of frustration with what I have seen of the media’s focus on Snowden and in Snowden’s actions that resulted in that focus. As stated, he should have handled it all better unless he was pressured by time, worries, and/or fear to act as he did. I still think he should have had the courage to remain here to stand up against the NSA’s program and accept the consequences of doing so rather than run as he did, which made things worse for him, and probably us, in my opinion. It might have brought more focus back on the program rather than him and I do not believe it would have been an O.J. Simpson type affair, but more like the coverage of Bradley Manning, or somewhere between the two. Would a trial have helped expose more details and revelations resulting in damaging, if not ending/changing for the better, the program or would it be all behind a “classified” wall of secrecy? That might have been, or could yet be, interesting to see.

        Did Snowden reveal any specific details that the program has been abused and how? Doing so would have greatly helped his case, but if he did not and has none, he’s kind of lost on that point, and to some degree, those who support him.

        No, I do not agree with the NSA’s program and expressed my concerns about abuse in another post let alone hinted at it above. If it truly is focused on terrorism, I think it’s a bloated, likely too expensive, paranoid, over-reaction to that. If terrorism is only a small part of its purpose, then we have a much bigger problem depending on who, what, why, and how. The John Stray post “25 things you wanted to know about NSA surveillance…” was the best encapsulation of this information I have seen and I just wished the network and PBS news I and many Americans have watched had done this and would repeatedly hammer Obama, associated officials, and congressman on this matter for specific purposes other than terrorism, legalities, and assurances of non-abuse, if not details of operation, in the same seemingly obsessed way they are tracking Snowden. It should also be done with facts and not the “he said, she said” type of reporting you see now. I probably should have phrased being bothered by his coverage more than the NSA program better by stating I was bothered by the lack of in-depth NSA coverage in comparison from what I’ve seen. No, I do not read or watch everything, so may have missed other good reporting.

        I would not mind an alarm system, and I am sure most Americans wouldn’t either, but I do not want to be trapped in my own house by it or be mistaken for the burglar.

    • There is a real issue as to whether the Espionage Act and the theft statutes charged by the U.S. Department of Justice have any legal or factual basis.

      If Snowden were extradited to the U.S., I suspect you would have the largest media circus in a court proceeding since the O.J. Simpson murder prosecution.

    • Chris M, you must not read this blog often (the replied comment information has been cited and analysed by Juan Cole) or you make your living working for a security firm or contractor in order to write such lengthy conjecture.

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