Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
10 May 2007

Valkenburg here we come

The Vitamins magnate, Dr Matthias Rath, shows, shall we say, a rather eccentric side in papers lodged with the Cape High Court in his case with the Treatment Action Campaign. The Mail & Guardian reports:

The apartheid regime was part of a global plot by the pharmaceutical industry, according to vitamin entrepreneur Dr Matthias Rath. He said in an affidavit filed in the Cape High Court: “This regime was the political arm to turn South Africa into a bridgehead of the pharmaceutical interests with the goal to conquer and control the entire African continent.”

He also said the operations of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) were “almost a copy” of Hitler’s brown-shirt storm troopers. … “The apartheid regime in South Africa was part of this global strategy,” he said. “The apartheid regime became its political stakeholder.” He said that after World War II, thousands of high-ranking Nazi party members used the “corporate channels” of the massive German chemical-manufacturing conglomerate IG Farben to find safe haven in South Africa, where IG Farben had established subsidiaries. Also seeking refuge in this country were thousands of IG Farben managers who had participated in war crimes.

“Much the same as previously in Europe, their goal was to establish a dictatorship serving these corporate interests while keeping the majority of the population ‘under control’,” Rath said. The chemical and pharmaceutical industry became the economic pillar of the apartheid regime, and South Africa became a stronghold for pharmaceutical companies.

Rath said the goal of the “brown shirts” had been to destabilise a democratically elected German government on behalf of corporate interests and their political stakeholders. The TAC’s goal, he said, was to attack the South African government, destabilise the political situation and establish a new political leadership that would voluntarily spend millions on “toxic” antiretroviral drugs.

One sandwich short of a picnic, seems an appropriate description for Dr Rath. What has he been smoking?

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