Background Briefing: March 26, 2020


Barr Places a $15 Million Bounty on Maduro While Guatemala Exports Six Times More Cocaine to the US

We begin with the announcement today by Attorney General Barr that the U.S. government is putting a $15 million bounty on the head of Nicolas Maduro, the disputed president of Venezuela who is accused of turning the country into a narco-state and collaborating with the FARC guerrillas in Colombia to export tons of cocaine the the U.S.  David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office of Latin America who is a professor of sociology at Tulane University and has researched Venezuela for the past 28 years, joins us. He moderates the blog Venezuela politics and human rights where he has an article at “Beyond the Narco-state Narrative: What U.S. Drug Trade Monitoring Says About Venezuela” by Geoff Ramsey and we discuss the charges against Maduro and top officials in his government which was just entering negotiations with the alternative government of Juan Guaido who most of the world recognizes. Together they were about to deal with the coronavirus pandemic that has just struck the devastated country with a health service in tatters like everything else in the criminally mismanaged once oil-rich nation Maduro and his cronies have looted. But now at this critical juncture the U.S., led by Pompeo, Abrams and Barr, none of whom have any credibility, has decided to scuttle these much-needed negotiations by indicting those who have to be incentivized to leave power. Meanwhile it is worth noting that the export of cocaine to the U.S. from the narco-state of Venezuela in 2018 amounted to 210 metric tons while Guatemala exported six times that in the same year, 1,400 metric tons. But neither the country of origin for cocaine Colombia, or the narco-state of Guatemala or the criminal state of Honduras through which most of the drugs transit, are being sanctioned.


Practical Advice to Ensure Medical and Civilian Supplies Get to Where They Are Needed

Then we speak with the economist James Galbraith, Chair in Government/Business Relations and a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas who has an article at The Guardian, “Here is what the government should do right now to protect the economy“. He offers practical advice to ensure medical and civilian supplies get to where they are needed as the coronavirus pandemic worsens due to the lack of decisive leadership. But at the state and local level leaders are stepping up and Galbraith suggests that the government compensate corporations like Internet and Cable companies to provide free access to shut-in workers and students.

Makers of the New HBO Documentary “After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News”

Then finally we speak with the director Andrew Rossi and co-producer Adam McGill of the important new documentary now on HBO “After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News”. They join us to discuss how the purveyors of fake news, the president and Fox News, have turned the tables accusing those providing facts which contradict Trump’s lies of disseminating fake news, while they cynically profit from a poisonous distortion of the truth, using demented right wing fabulists like Alex Jones and Jack Burkman as their instruments.