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eyes on the U.S.

Former US Envoy To Venezuela Slams Maduro For Accusing Him Of Murder Plot

EL PAIS (Spain); TELESUR (Venezuela); REUTERS


WASHINGTON - Late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez never tired of accusing the U.S. government of all types of nefarious deeds. His hand-picked successor, acting president Nicolas Maduro, is keeping up the tradition.

First, days after Chavez's death, Maduro accused Washington of somehow infecting "El Comandante" with his fatal cancer. Then, perhaps even more strangely, the interim head of state said Sunday that there was a murder plot to kill Henrique Capriles, his own opponent in next month's presidential race.

Speaking on state TV station Telesur, Maduro even accused former US Ambassador to Venezuela Otto Reich and former Bush Administration official Roger Noriega of the supposed plot, in order to “fill Venezuelans with hate” ahead of the April 14 election.

On Thursday, Reich, who is now a Washington-based international consultant, fired back with an open letter published in top Spanish daily El Pais. “Dear Mr Maduro, I’m responding to your most recent allegations. Don’t worry, this is not a threat to you; you’re making things up and what follows is my response to them,” the letter reads. “No, Mr Maduro, I did not have anything to do with with the cancer that killed Hugo Chávez, nor do I have any intention to assault Mr. Henrique Capriles (nor any other citizen of your country). These allegations by you can only have two explanations: either you don’t know the truth or you don’t know how to tell the difference between the truth and lies. You tell me which it is.”

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Otto Reich. Photo by US State Dept.

Reich suggests that these accusations were made because Maduro wanted to distract his country from the disasters that his party has subjected the country to over the last 14 years.

“Your accusations are so far from reality that we must ask what is their true purpose -- what are you hiding behind this smokescreen? Could it be that your government is planning to eliminate Capriles, as others who have challenged your monopoly have been?”

Reich writes that Maduro’s tactics echo those Chavez employed over the years. “Every day that you make these accusations is another day that Venezuelans don’t hear that there is a viable alternative for peace, honor and prosperity for their country.”

Full text of letter in Spanish here, published by El Pais

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Turkey: The Blind Spot Between Racial And Religious Discrimination

Before the outbreak of the Hamas-Israel war, a social media campaign in Turkey aimed to take on anti-Arab and anti-refugee sentiment. But the campaign ultimately just swapped one type of discrimination for another.

photo of inside Istanbul's Eminonu New Mosque

Muslims and tourists visiting Istanbul's Eminonu New Mosque.

Levent Gültekin


ISTANBUL — In late September, several pro-government journalists in Turkey promoted a social media campaign centered around a video against those in the country who are considered anti-Arab. The campaign was built around the idea of being “siblings in religion,” and the “union of the ummah,” or global Muslim community.

(In a very different context, such sentiments were repeated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the Israel-Hamas war erupted.)

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While the goal is understandable, these themes are highly disconnected from reality.

First, let's look at the goal of the campaign. Our country has a serious problem of irregular migrants and refugees, and the administration isn’t paying adequate attention to this. On the contrary, they encourage the flow of refugees with policies such as selling citizenship.

Worries about irregular migrants and refugees naturally create tension in the society. The anger that targets not the government but the refugees has come to a point which both threatens the social peace and brought the issue to hostility towards the Arabs, even the tourists. The actual goal of this campaign by the pro-government journalists is obvious if you consider how an anti-tourist movement would hurt Turkey’s economy.

However, as mentioned above, while the goal is understandable, the themes of the “union of the ummah” and “siblings in religion” are problematic. The campaign offers the idea of being siblings in religion as an argument against the rising racism towards irregular migrants and refugees; a different form of racism or discrimination.

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