Destabilizing Venezuela

Stephen Lendman

On April 14, Venezuelans elected Nicolas Maduro president. He won fair and square. It's official. A nationally televised Monday ceremony announced it.

Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles cried foul. He called Maduro "illegitimate." He refuses to recognize election results. He demands a recount. He wants "every vote" counted.

National Electoral Council (CNE) president Tibisay Lucena responded.

A manual recount of all votes isn't needed to confirm accuracy, she said. Proper auditing checks were implemented. It's routine. They're done before, during and post-elections. Over half the Sunday vote total was checked. She called doing so "a statistical proportion that in any part of the world (would be) considered excessive." Fourteen audits were conducted. They assure a free, open and fair process.

America takes no precautionary steps. Corporate-controlled electronic voting machines choose winners and losers. People have no say. They get the best democracy money can buy. Venezuelans get the real thing.

Bobby Sands and Margaret Thatcher

Jim Gibney

[Article originally published on May 15, 2009]

Two personalities from opposite ends of the political spectrum, who helped shape their respective worlds and are inextricably linked through decisions they took over 30 years ago had anniversaries last week.

Tuesday past marked the 28th anniversary of the death on hunger strike of Bobby Sands MP. Bobby died on the 66th day of his hunger strike. During it he was elected by 30,497 people in Fermanagh and South Tyrone to the British parliament, though that parliament meant little to them.

Monday past marked the 30th anniversary of the election of Margaret Thatcher as British prime minister.

The decision by Bobby Sands and others to go on hunger strike was provoked by the decision, of first a British Labour government, then upheld by Thatcher’s government, to try to criminalise the republican struggle by withdrawing political status from political prisoners.

The legacy of the hunger strikers and that of Thatcher could not be of greater historical contrast.

As Thatcher took office on the steps of 10 Downing Street she quoted St Francis of Assisi: “Where there is discord may we bring harmony. Where there is error may we bring truth. Where there is doubt may we bring faith. And where there is despair may we bring hope.” Within a short period of time the consequences for the people of Ireland and Britain of Thatcher’s rule was, ‘discord’, ‘error’, ‘doubt’ and ‘despair’.

To this day across nationalist Ireland no other British political figure, with the exception of Oliver Cromwell, provokes such feelings of anger and hostility as Margaret Thatcher.

"Tramp the Dirt Down"

George Galloway

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher stands in a British tank
during a visit to British forces in Fallingbostel, about 120 kilometres
south of Hamburg, Germany, on Sept. 17, 1986.
(Associated Press)

The old saw that one shouldn’t speak ill of the recently dead cannot possibly apply to controversial figures in public life. It certainly didn’t apply to President Hugo Chavez who predeceased Margaret Thatcher amidst a blizzard of abuse.

The main reason it must not preclude entering the lists amidst a wave of hagiographic sycophantic tosh of the kind that has engulfed Britain these last hours is that otherwise the hagiographers will have the field to themselves.

Every controversial divisive deadly thing that Thatcher did will be placed in soft focus, bathed in a rose-coloured light, and provide a first draft of history that will be, simply, wrong.

As is now well-known, I refused to do that today on the demise of a wicked woman who tore apart what remained good about my country, and set an agenda which has been followed, more or less, by all of her successors. I certainly wasn’t prepared to leave the obituaries to those who profited from her rule or those who have aped her ever since.

So here is my own memory of Thatcher and what she did in her time on this earth.

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