(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
The likely Republican presidential candidate and quintessential vulture capitalist, Mitt Romney, chided President Obama for not being sufficiently fearful of Venezuela’s socialist president, Hugo Chávez Friás last week. In the conservative Daily Telegraph Mitt is quoted as saying:
“The idea that this nation, this president, doesn’t pose a national security threat is simply naive and an extraordinary admission on the part of this president to be completely out of touch with what is happening in Latin America,” Romney said of Chavez in an interview Wednesday with Fox News.
Yes, socialist Venezuela, the country which was recently ranked the 5th happiest in the world, following four social democratic countries, presents a threat to Mitt’s vulture business model and his support base, who largely come from the 92,000 wealthy individuals who sequester their wealth in “tax havens” such as Switzerland the Cayman Islands. (See rt. com for its report on “The Price of Off Shore Revisited”.
After President Chavez was elected to office in 1998, Venezuela has had currency controls in place to prevent its national wealth from being looted and sent to extra-territorial banks, a model which defeats the efforts of would-be off shore tax evaders in Venezuela. Other countries have allowed themselves to be systematically raped of their needed tax revenues.
Venezuela also jailed its criminal banksters for speculating with their depositors money. Here, Mitt, you would likely be in jail for creating tax-evading investment vehicles in the Cayman Islands. No, socialist Venezuela, under President Chavez, is definitely not a vulture-capitalist friendly country. That is why it is now thriving.
But other countries are being systematically robbed. Thus, in a study commissioned by the The Tax Justice Network campaign group, leaked to The Guardian, and reprinted by today’s rt.com news cited above, we discover that:
Wealthy tax evaders, aided by private banks have exploited loopholes in tax legislation and stashed over $21 tn in offshore funds, says a report. The capital drained from some developing countries since 1970 would be enough to pay off national debts. The findings show the gap between the haves and the have-nots is much larger than previously thought…
The report provides the most detailed valuation of the offshore economy to date. The document cites the world’s leading private banks as cherry-picking from the ranks of the uber-rich and siphoning their fortunes into tax-free havens such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
The wealth of the super-rich is “protected by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries taking advantage of the increasingly borderless, frictionless global economy.”
Henry writes that a large part of the trillion dollar hoard belongs to around 92,000 individuals, an elite class of super-rich who make up 0.001 percent of the global population.
Romney, the consummate professional enabler, who has bragged about the efficiency with which his Bain companies have served his financial interests and those of his wealthy investors, has also been quoted as admitting that Bain created investment vehicles in the Cayman Islands, protected from U.S. taxes, in order to attract wealthy foreign investors, like those from El Salvador.
Indeed, Romney founded his vulture capitalist private equity investment firm, Bain Capital, largely on the wealth of elite foreign investors from impoverished South and Central American third world countries.
Some 40% of his firm’s initial funding came from the oligarchs of South and Central American dictatorships, those who with the help of U.S. funding, helped themselves to the resources of their fellow countrymen and countrywomen by using U.S. trained death squads (many graduates of the U.S.’s infamous “School of the Americas”) to kill off those in their countries who sought the equitable allocations of their countries’ resources and thus to terrorize the rest of the population into meek submission to their iron-handed rule.
Tanfani, Mason and Gold report in a recent L.A. Times article that some of these Bain funders were the “powers that be” in El Salvador, well connected with the right-wing government, whose activities they funded:
The group (of Bain investors) included some of El Salvador’s wealthiest people: coffee grower Miguel A. Dueñas; members of the De Sola family, also coffee exporters; and Ricardo Poma, whose family conglomerate now owns car dealerships and luxury hotels across Central America. […] Most of the money they put into Bain Capital was through corporations set up in Panama … Among the Bain investors were Francisco R.R. de Sola and his cousin Herbert Arturo de Sola, whose brother Orlando de Sola was suspected by State Department officials and the CIA of backing the right-wing death squads, according to now-declassified documents. Orlando de Sola, who has denied supporting the death squads, is now serving a four-year prison term for unrelated fraud charges.
Jon Wiener, writing in “Bain Capital’s Ties to Salvadoran Death Squads” in The Nation. reports that:
When Bain Capital was founded in 1984, Romney and his partners had trouble raising funds for their initial investments. “$9 million came from rich Latin Americans,” the Times reports, “including powerful Salvadoran families living in Miami…. At the time, U.S. officials were publicly accusing some exiles in Miami of funding right-wing death squads in El Salvador. Some family members of the first Bain Capital investors were later linked to groups responsible for killings…
The civil war in El Salvador lasted from 1980 to 1992 and killed more than 70,000 Salvadorans. It started after Archbishop Óscar Romero was assassinated while giving a mass shortly after he published an open letter to President Carter asking him to cut off US military aid to the Salvadoran military regime.
Four members of the de Sola family were among the original Bain investors, or “limited partners” in the company, the Boston Globe reported. Their relative and “one-time business partner,” Orlando de Sola, was an important figure in El Salvador. A well-known right-wing coffee grower with an (in his words) “authoritarian” vision for the country, de Sola spent time living in Miami but was also a founding member of the right-wing Arena party, led by a U.S.-trained former intelligence officer named Roberto D’Aubuisson, also known as “Blowtorch Bob”, due to his frequent use of a blowtorch in interrogation sessions.
Justin Elliott, writing in the July 20, 2012 article,“The roots of Bain Capital in El Salvador’s civil war”, notes that:
The war, which pitted leftist guerrillas against a right-wing government backed by the Reagan administration, ultimately left over 70,000 people dead in the tiny nation before a peace deal was brokered by the United Nations in 1992. The vast majority of violence, a UN truth commission later found, was committed by rightist death squads and the military, which received U.S. training and $6 billion in military and economic aid.
Bain investor, Richard Poma, owner of the Roble Group, was likewise implicated in a series of tourist area bombings in Cuba in 1997 when his security chief was arrested for a series of bombings there. The bombings were planned by Luis Posada Carriles, 70, U.S. former CIA operative and longtime militant anti-Cuban exile, who openly admitted arranging the bombings. Posada was then living in El Salvador, which refused to deport him back to Cuba.
Thus Romney’s founding El Salvadoran investors, who likely had reached their power and wealth before 1984 by originally extracting it from the blood, sweat and tears of poor El Salvordoran workers, who used that wealth to gain political power and to remain in power by funding their chosen right-wing politicians, protected by military assistance and training from the U.S., including the U.S.’s “School of the Americas” (otherwise known as “School of the Assassins” and still in operation under a new, more neutral name), likewise funded the cruel “Death Squads” that tortured and assassinated anyone who dared to demand equitable distribution of their countries’ wealth.
Thus these founders were appropriate models for the cut-throat business decisions taken by Mitt Romney on behalf of his Bain companies, who bought up American companies, looted them, threw their workers into the street, and collected massive fees for Romney and Bain for their efforts.
True, Mitt’s efficient army of enablers, the lawyers, accountants and managers who comprised his “assassination squads”, didn’t have to stoop to using chain saws to decapitate and draw and quarter rebellious workers, as did the El Salvadorian death squads, they simply worked them long hours for low pay, raided their pension funds and then terminated them, leaving the U.S. taxpayers to clean up their deadly but bloodless mess by supplying the missing pension money.
Little wonder, with the biggest banks engaging in laundering the money from drug cartels, while the private equity funds like Bain, make vast profits for their tax-evading investors, that the U.S. has come to look just like the third world countries such as El Salvador.
The Associated Press surveyed more than a dozen economists, think tanks and academics, both nonpartisan and those with known liberal or conservative leanings, and found a broad consensus: The official poverty rate (In the U.S.) will rise from 15.1 percent in 2010, climbing as high as 15.7 percent. Several predicted a more modest gain, but even a 0.1 percentage point increase would put poverty at the highest since 1965.
Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups, from underemployed workers and suburban families to the poorest poor. More discouraged workers are giving up on the job market, leaving them vulnerable as unemployment aid begins to run out. Suburbs are seeing increases in poverty, including in such political battlegrounds as Colorado, Florida and Nevada, where voters are coping with a new norm of living hand to mouth.
“I grew up going to Hawaii every summer. Now I’m here, applying for assistance because it’s hard to make ends meet. It’s very hard to adjust,” said Laura Fritz, 27, of Wheat Ridge, Colo., describing her slide from rich to poor as she filled out aid forms at a county center. Since 2000, large swaths of Jefferson County just outside Denver have seen poverty nearly double.
In contrast, the people in Socialist Venezuela are seeing vast improvements in their living conditions.
Thus Eva Golinger, writing in today’s venezuelanalysis:
Poverty has been reduced by more than 50% since Chavez came to power in 1998. The inclusionary policies of his government have created a society with mass participation in economic, political and social decisions. His social programs – called missions – have guaranteed free medical care and education, from basic to advanced levels, and provided basic food items at affordable costs, along with tools to create and maintain cooperatives, small and medium businesses, community organizations and communes. Venezuelan culture has been rescued and treasured, recovering national pride and identity, and creating a sentiment of dignity instead of inferiority. Communication media have proliferated during the last decade, assuring spaces for the expression of all.
The oil industry, nationalized in 1976 but operating as a private company, has been recuperated for the benefit of the country, and not for multinationals and the elite. Over 60% of the annual budget is dedicated to social programs in the country, with the principal focus on eradicating poverty.
Caracas, the capital, has been beautified. Parks and plazas have turned into spaces for gatherings, enjoyment and safety for visitors. There’s music in the streets, art on the walls and a rich debate of ideas amongst inhabitants. The new communal police works with neighborhoods to battle crime and violence, addressing problems from the root cause.
As a five year resident of Venezuela, I have see that the government has invested billions of dollars from its oil resources into providing universal medical care, public education to the post-doctoral university level, subsidized food markets and restaurants, low (or no) interest loans to purchase new housing (the government is building two million new homes for those who are inadequately housed), financial assistance in starting worker-owned cooperatives and small business, government paid job training and placement, and massive programs to assist the elderly and disabled with a variety of social services, including in-home doctor visits, nursing assistance and home renovations and repairs.
All school children receive one or two free meals a day, and even government-provided computers and internet training. Stay-at home care-takers receive stipends and women are now protected under an extensive anti-domestic violence law which provides for psychiatric care and job training for abused household members. Social security has been extended to hundreds of thousands of people who did not previously qualify.
Yes, Venezuela is a real danger to Mitt and his fellow vulture capitalists. It presents a replicable model of a society that cares about the needs and aspirations of its members, rather than stealing labor from its people to generate profits for a few already wealthy individuals, those 92,000 people, the 0.001 percent who, like Mitt, make their wealth by stealing it from the vast majority of the world’s population.