Russia says US engaged in Venezuela 'information war', denies reports it told Maduro to flee

Russia claims did not tell Venezuela's Maduro to flee, disputes Pompeo and Bolton

Venezuela military coup? Guns fired at Maduro protesters, Internet blocked, Guaidó with soldiers claims ‘final phase’

Military coup supported by Trump admin appears under way in Venezuela.

Venezuela hit by second electrical blackout in one month, capital city of Caracas mostly without power

Reuters reports that all lights were out across many regions of Venezuela including much of the capital city of Caracas on Monday. Read the rest

Venezuela: Jorge Ramos & Univision crew freed after Maduro detained for 3 hours inside presidential palace

Maduro didn't like the questions Ramos was asking, per reports.

Bolton unveils extreme foreign policy changes in Central & South America days after autocrat Bolsonaro takes power in Brazil

Hey you know what happens when a superpower declares that it's going to take steps that will allow it to dictate the internal policies of other nations?

I'll give you a hint: nothing good. Read the rest

Authoritarians used to be scared of social media, now they rule it

A new report from the Institute For the Future on "state-sponsored trolling" documents the rise and rise of government-backed troll armies who terrorize journalists and opposition figures with seemingly endless waves of individuals who bombard their targets with vile vitriol, from racial slurs to rape threats. Read the rest

Teachers on four continents stage mass strikes

In the USA, there are tens of thousands of teachers in open rebellion, in Oklahoma, West Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky, and things are heating up in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Iowa and Colorado. Read the rest

Venezuelans with transplanted organs are dying due to a lack of drugs

Venezuela is in crisis. The South American country has been a sore festered with political turmoil and socioeconomic woes for years now. Unemployment is a pandemic in the country and, thanks to the devaluation of their currency, what little food can be had there, is largely unaffordable by the nation's people. As a result of these conditions, crime has become rampant, countless businesses in the country have shuttered and shortages of the staples we take for granted have become commonplace. Reuters reports that the shortages have begun to effect an unexpected, exclusive group of Venezuelans: organ transplant recipients.

According to Reuters, there are around 3,500 organ transplant recipients living in Venezuela today. Thanks to modern medicine, theses recipients have been able to lead largely normal lives. But as the country's ability to afford medicines made in other countries, make their own drugs or pay medical personnel diminishes, the lives of its organ transplant recipients are being put at risk. The drugs needed to keep their new organs from being rejected by their bodies have run out. So far, at least seven of the country's citizens have died as a result, with 35 additional transplant recipients reporting that their new organs are now being rejected by their bodies.

The suck doesn't stop there: thanks to the fact that only around half of Venezuela's dialysis machines are operating, tens of thousands of people waiting for lifesaving surgeries are at risk of dying as their blood can't be cleaned of toxins. The doctors who are still working to keep people alive in the country are exhausted and frustrated by the conditions they're now forced to work in:

"It's incredibly stressful.

Read the rest

As Venezuela crumbles, airlines fleeing

Assassination. Contaminated fuel. Bandits. Theft of luggage. Broken down runways. These are a few of the reasons why Airlines are pulling out of Venezuela as the country's economy and society implodes.

From The Mercury News:

The current round of carrier defections comes after routes had stabilized from the previous exodus triggered by the government’s halt of dollar payments, and leaves Venezuelans increasingly cut off from the rest of the world. A flight to Miami in coach class can cost about $1,000, in a country where the monthly minimum wage is about $20 at the black market rate.

The nation’s social and economic implosion has turned tasks as simple as busing flight crew to hotels into logistical challenges. Staff who once stayed overnight in Caracas, which is about a 45-minute drive away, took to sleeping in hotels near the airport to avoid the bandit-ridden highway. Even then, they’d get attacked, minutes outside the airport perimeter. Some carriers took to flying crew to spend the night in neighboring countries.

Avianca hired bodyguards after shots were fired during a robbery of a bus carrying its crew. Although no one was injured, it wasn’t enough to calm nerves, and the overnight route was eventually canceled, according to Acdac.

Image: Paulino Moran / Wikipedia Read the rest

Hyperinflation in Venezuela - merchants are weighing, not counting, currency

Venezuela's currency is on track to inflate by 720 percent this year. Why? The drop in the price of oil hurt Venezuela's economy, and President Nicolás Maduro thought he could solve the problem by printing more money. It didn't work and now people are starving.

From The Independent:

When the price of oil on the global market collapsed by two-thirds in 2014, Venezuela had little else to fall back on, so a natural reaction would have been for the bolívar to collapse. But Mr Maduro, who succeeded Hugo Chávez following the revolutionary leader's death in 2013, instead tried to control the exchange rate, creating a massive black market for currency.

Figuring out scams to get dollars and then sell them for bolívars became hugely lucrative business for Venezuelans, setting off a feedback loop that drove the inflation rate higher and higher.

In one of Caracas richer neighbourhoods, the owner of a tiny kiosk selling newspapers, cigarettes and snacks told the Washington Post that every evening he quietly stuffs a plastic bag full of the day’s earnings, around 100,000 bolívars (about £42) in notes of 10, 20, 50 and 100 bolívars. Venezuela has one of the highest crime rates in the world, and he said carrying that much cash frightens him.

Read the rest

Venezuela takes two of our own as political prisoners. Help us free them.

This past Sunday, two opposition political activists in Venezuela were arrested and detained as political prisoners. They're politically active nerds who write about what they believe, who were helping to register voters when they were 'disappeared' by the military. They're people just like us who deserve to be free. Read the rest

Venezuela: 15 Years of Solitude

"The democratic Venezuela that so often received exiles from neighboring countries and gave asylum to political refugees fleeing military governments is once again alone." Maruja Tarre, a Venezuelan journalist, reflects on the violent situation in her home country. Previously: "Snowden and Venezuela: My bizarre experience in the surveillance state," an essay on Boing Boing by her daughter Isabel Lara, about the experience of being spied upon in Venezuela.

Venezuela: 'After being promised paradise we are living in a nightmare.'

A first-person account of the current chaos in Venezuela from Guido Núñez-Mujica, a Boing Boing reader and biotech entrepreneur who calls the South American country his homeland.

Venezuela may be offering Snowden asylum, but "it can’t handle the truth"

A Washington Post editorial out today details one of the more bizarre attacks by Venezuela against reporters and truth-exposers within its own borders: the trumped-up charges against one of Venezuela's best-known journalists, Nelson Bocaranda.

He's a newspaper columnist and radio presenter, followed by about 1.5 million on Twitter. In mid-2011, he broke the news that President Hugo Chávez had cancer, which the state had kept secret from the public. A few days later, the state was forced to fess up: a “baseball-sized” tumor had just been removed from the president's abdomen.

Based on a tweet in April 2013 by Bocaranda about voting irregularities in one Venezuelan city, the post-Chávez government says he's “the intellectual author” of alleged crimes that amount to domestic terrorism. Should he be found guilty, the consequences under Venezuelan law are grave. Read the rest

Snowden and Venezuela: My bizarre experience in the surveillance state

In 2009, a private call placed from the US by Isabel Lara to her mother was broadcast on Venezuelan state TV. Secretly taped calls are routinely used there to disgrace political enemies—or worse. To locals, the South American surveillance state is an odd place for government transparency advocate and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to end up.

Snowden offered asylum in Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been offered asylum in three latinamerican nations: Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Bolivian president Evo Morales made it clear that his country's offer was directly inspired by the grounding of his presidential jet on the way back from a meeting in Russia (the US authorities and several European nations collaborated to force a landing and search of the president's jet in Austria, on the belief that Snowden was aboard). There has been no public response from Snowden. Read the rest

Edward Snowden is on the move: headed Moscow -> Havana -> [Quito|Caracas]

The Guardian and South China Morning Post report that NSA leaker Edward Snowden has left Hong Kong on an Aeroflot jet heading for Moscow, aiming for Havana, and then, eventually, either Quito, Ecuador, or Havana, Cuba.

The US had asked Hong Kong authorities to arrest Snowden on secret charges (a leak has it that he's been charged with Espionage, Theft, and Converting Government Property). HK says the request was malformed and could not be acted upon.

Why, you may ask yourself, is Snowden going to all these countries that have such rotten human rights records [ed: excepting Ecuador, which has been very good on asylum seekers lately]? My bet is on the fact that these countries are all somewhat hostile to US interest and unlikely to cooperate with extradition requests. However, it's possible that he just wanted the chance to pick out his own bunk at Gitmo ahead of time.

"As the HKSAR government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.

"The HKSAR government has already informed the US government of Mr Snowden's departure.

"Meanwhile, the HKSAR government has formally written to the US government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies. The HKSAR government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong."

According to the South China Morning Post, Snowden boarded an Aeroflot flight to Moscow, although the newspaper said Russia was not his ultimate destination.

Read the rest

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