21 November 2018

The Curious Case of Carl David Goette-Luciak – the Guardian’s and America’s Man in Managua

The Guardian rejects its anti-colonial past as it employs as a journalist the PR man for the American Backed Opposition in Nicaragua

The Guardian's Carl David Goette-Luciak posing with an armed US backed terrorist
On the 1st October the Nicaraguan authorities deported Carl David Goette-Luciaka, a Guardian journalist who had become embedded with the armed American-backed Opposition. The article fulminated against the journalist and blogger, Max Blumenthal:
Reporting on Goette-Luciaka's deportation the Guardian fulminated:
The US blogger Max Blumenthal later published a lengthy, insinuation-infused attack on the journalist that admitted “there is no evidence that Goette-Luciak is an asset of the CIA or any other US agency”.
In his article, Blumenthal, who conducted an unquestioning interview with Ortega this year and has been criticised for his reporting on the Nicaraguan crisis, painted Goette-Luciak as a “novice reporter” acting as a “publicist” for a Nicaraguan opposition that was set on regime change.

After publication of this article a lawyer for Blumenthal contacted the Guardian to emphasise there was nothing to suggest his reporting contributed to the deportation of Goette-Luciak.
Despite the protests of Adam Barnett and others at the suggestion that deported journalist Carl David Goette-Luciak was operating in Nicaragua on behalf of the United States, it is a fact that western journalists have often doubled up as CIA operatives. This is in addition to the practice of western journalists being ‘embedded’ with US troops in Iraq.
Those with long memories will remember the former head of the BBC World Service, John Tusa, who also doubled up as the main front man of the CIA’s Forum World Features news service.
Nicaragua’s Sandanista government led by Daniel Ortega has been under attack from a US backed-insurgency for the past 2 years. This is nothing new. When the Sandanistas first took power in 1979 and overthrew the Somoza dictatorship they almost immediately faced a US sponsored war from the Reagan backed contras.
Although removed from power in the 1990 elections the Sandanista FSLN regained power in 2006 and have been in office ever since. Today they faced a US backed opposition and that is where the Guardian’s ‘journalist’ Carl David Goette-Luciak comes in.
I first became aware of the controversy when I read that a lecture by Canary Editor, Kerry-Anne Mendoza, at the Guardian, as part of Black History Month had been cancelled. The Press Gazette covered this .
Tim Rogers was another 'journalist' operating alongside Luciak
It reported that the NUJ had cancelled its annual Black History Month lecture after Mendoza ‘published reports attacking a Guardian freelancer working in Nicaragua as part of a “smear campaign” that led to his deportation.’ According to the Gazette Goette-Luciak had been covering protests calling for Nicaragua’s President, Daniel Ortega, to step down. ‘Hundreds have been killed in a violent government crackdown issued in response, which the NUJ says has also targeted journalists documenting the protests.’
Max Blumenthal, editor of the online investigative outlet the Grayzone Project and a well-known Jewish anti-Zionist, has written extensively on Goette-Luciak. .
On September 26th, in an article for Mint Press News How an American Anthropologist Tied to US Regime-Change Proxies Became the MSM’s Man in Nicaragua Blumenthal described how
‘The Guardian, The Washington Post, the BBC and NPR have assigned an American anthropologist with no previous journalistic experience’ who ‘has published pieces littered with falsehoods that reinforce the opposition’s narrative promoting regime change while relying almost entirely on anti-Sandinista sources.
According to Blumenthall Goette-Uciak
has essentially functioned as its publicist under journalistic cover’ and has ‘operated side-by-side with activists from a U.S.-backed opposition party known as the Sandinista Renovation Movement, or MRS.
The MRS has been funded, as is par for the course in Latin America with counter revolutionary movements, with millions of dollars of US government assistance. All in the name of democracy of course! Blumenthall described how the Guardian, NPR and The Washington Post

feign objectivity before their readers, presenting themselves as arbiters of truth in an era of fake news. However, in countries where Washington is pushing regime change, these same outlets have dispatched a corps of writers to embed with U.S.-backed opposition elements, provide them with publicity, and sell their goals back to the American public. Goette-Luciak is one of clearest embodiments of the disturbing trend.’
We know from our experience in Britain how the Guardian has functioned as the main instrument of the campaign to overthrow Jeremy Corbyn. The site five filters has documented how over the past 3 years there have been literally hundreds of anti-Corbyn articles in what used to be considered a left of centre newspaper. There is little doubt that via senior editor Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian has become the main conduit for false information from British and Israeli intelligence sources.
Blumenthall paints a damning picture of the Guardian’s man with the Sandanista opposition. On September 7, Goette-Luciak published an article in the Guardian claiming that the country had been brought to a virtual halt by a general strike. His co-author was Caroline Houck, a staff correspondent for the website Defense One, which is funded by the arms industry to “provide news, analysis and ideas for national security leaders and stakeholders.”
Nicaraguan-born activist Camilo Mejia highlighted several pieces of misinformation in the article. Contrary to the claim that the Civic Alliance interrupted the country’s economy with its general strike, Managuan marketplaces were bustling that day and commerce proceeded as usual.
In 2006, the MRS and the U.S. government plotted to prevent Ortega’s election. A September 6, 2006 U.S. embassy cable  entitled, “MRS: We Want To Bring Ortega Down” laid out some of those plans. Authored by U.S. Ambassador Paul Trivelli, it described a meeting between Trivelli and Israel Lewites, the nephew of MRS presidential candidate Herty Lewites.
The U.S. government contributed $12 million in 2006 towards “election technical assistance, outreach, and observation” in Nicaragua’s 2006 election, two dollars for every Nicaraguan citizen to defeat Ortega. A separate leaked diplomatic cable detailed a meeting during that election campaign between MRS co-founder Dora Maria Tellez and Trivelli.
The MRS failed to prevent Ortega’s victory and wound up reaching out to the U.S. as its domestic support base collapsed. In 2016, the MRS’s Vijil joined a delegation to lobby in Washington for the Nica Act, a bill proposing crushing sanctions on her country.
On Capitol Hill, Vijil posed alongside a cast of U.S.-backed activists and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a neoconservative Cuban-American Republican who was the main author of the sanctions bill.
Goette-Luciak and Houck falsely described Vijil as “national director of the outlawed Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS).” In fact the MRS had not been “outlawed;” its candidates had garnered a pitiful 1.3 percent of the popular vote in the last election.
The authors then quoted Vijil claiming that, “[w]ith 200 political prisoners and [new] murders every day, this strike is just one more sign that nothing is normal here in Nicaragua.” What Goette-Luciak and his co-author failed to mention was that those recent murders have consisted largely of Sandinista supporters. The recent murder victims include Lenin Mendiola, an FSLN militant and son of two revered Sandinista historical figures, Benigna Mendiola and Bernardino Díaz Ochoa.
But the most striking omission by Goette-Luciak was of his relationship with his source and her party, which has enjoyed direct support from the U.S. government. Vijil is the former president of the MRS and has served as a fellow of the Central American Leadership Initiative at the Aspen Institute, a hub of neoliberal thought funded by the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, among others.
Just before the coup erupted in April, Vijil was in Washington for a “high level executive meeting,” Goette-Luciak has been connected with the MRS most directly through Azucena Castillo, a prominent party activist whom he lists as his employer at Radio Ciudadana. Blumenthall states that although
there is no evidence that Goette-Luciak is an asset of the CIA or any other U.S. agency. However, his advancement of Washington’s divisive political objectives during the course of his ethnographic fieldwork represented a fairly clear example of dual-use anthropology.’
Many Sandanista supporters accused him of operating as a U.S. intelligence asset. The Edge of Adventure promptly deleted its podcast interview with him and scrubbed most of his photos from the site. Goette-Luciak then began cleaning up his own Facebook page, deleting his selfies with MRS party leaders.
Earlier this summer, Goette-Luciak was in the thick of the most intense fighting between opposition gunmen and Sandinista-aligned forces. Masaya was a city which the opposition had seized and cordoned off entire neighborhoods in an attempt to declare a junta.
The opposition had waged a campaign of terror against Sandinista supporters, burning their homes, kidnapping, beating, torturing and even killing them, while laying siege to the local police station. In one of the most gruesome incidents, an unarmed community police officer named Gabriel Vado was kidnapped by opposition gunmen, dragged to death from the back of a truck, and torched on camera while slumped before a roadblock.
There was virtually no mention of the opposition’s ongoing campaign of terror in Goette-Luciak’s June 23 report for The Washington Post, which he co-authored with Houck. Instead, Goette-Luciak painted the gunmen as valiant resistance fighters and promoted their call for the U.S. to send them heavy weapons: “Several asked a reporter whether President Trump would send support to the resistance,” he wrote.
Blumenthall argued that the emergence of figures like Goette-Luciak as correspondents for Western publications cannot be viewed as an aberration or mistake. In Nicaragua, as in so many other countries targeted with regime-change operations, outlets like the Guardian, New York Times and Washington Post seem to demand on-the-ground coverage that reinforces the regime-change agenda.
And so they credentialed opposition publicists as journalists, instilling in them the illusion of their own professionalism. “I think I’ve come to realize the value of objective and impartial journalism,” Goette-Luciak said in his Edge of Adventure interview, “and I no longer consider myself as an activist for or against any particular cause.”
On 4th October, Canary published an interview with Wyatt Reed, a long-time friend of Goette-Luciak, Reed admitted that there was “a straightforward conflict of interest involved in what we were doing”.  In particular a disturbing video showed Goette-Luciak filming opposition thugs torturing and kidnapping an elderly squatter they accused of Sandinista sympathies, raising the question of why he did and said nothing about it. Indeed, he did not mention the incident in any of his reports for the Guardian or Washington Post.
Blumenthall described how he had ‘spoken with a longtime friend of Goette-Luciak who traveled and worked alongside him in Nicaragua, and who has undergone a crisis of conscience since witnessing the US-backed coup ravage the country this year.’  Reed admitted that there was a straightforward conflict of interest involved in what we were doing, and [his] coming to terms with that” had motivated him to go public with his misgivings. He said that, since leaving Nicaragua, he had begun “slowly realizing the way in which I was inhabiting the role of a foreign agent of imperialism in many ways, even if I wasn’t being paid or compensated for it”.
Reed said he was shocked that publications like the Guardian assigned his friend to cover Nicaragua’s conflict:

these publications have to be aware that you did just legitimise this figure overnight and that he’s pretty clearly getting along with the opposition and not making any pains to reach out to any of the supporters of the government, which is inexplicable. There are massive marches of tens of thousands of government supporters and you couldn’t find anybody to say something in support of the government? I find that difficult to believe. It makes it clear that [publications like the Guardian] are not interested in getting to the truth but in replicating a narrative that, if history is any guide, they’ve already performed in numerous cases in Latin America.

This kind of journalism from the Guardian no longer surprises people. Long gone are the days when a committed anti-imperialist such as Richard Gott reported from Latin America for the Guardian.  Today under Freedland’s baleful influence, the Guardian is in the camp of US imperialism.
Reed has submitted a letter outlining his concerns about Goette-Luciak to the Guardian, the Washington Post, and the National Union of Journalists. These organizations have so far refused to publish it. The full text of the letter is below.
To the editor,

As a longtime friend and former collaborator of your correspondent with the Nicaraguan opposition, I feel compelled to make a few points clear in light of the recent media frenzy over the deportation from Nicaragua of Carl David Goette Luciak. I must be extremely clear: in the six months we lived and worked together in Nicaragua we were both very open about our plan to use our friendships with Nicaraguan opposition figures to push for the end of the Sandinista government and create careers for ourselves as journalists or consultants in the process. We were not CIA—but we were in many ways serving its same historical purpose.

I must stress that I wish no ill will on Carl David. I’ve known him since middle school, we were best friends for much of our lives, and I want only to set the record straight. Having already spent several years in Nicaragua, I had made connections with multiple prominent antigovernment groups at the time of our partnership. And since I introduced him to many of them, I feel compelled to state publicly that any notion we had of being impartial and objective journalists was simply a lie. We arrived together in Managua in January 2016 without prior journalistic experience but with a shared understanding that the Nicaraguan government represented a fundamental betrayal of socialist ideals, and the shared understanding that the ruling Sandinista party needed to be removed from power.
In the time since, I’ve come to understand that regardless of our personal feelings on the Nicaraguan president or government, any illusions we had of being uniquely capable of helping the Nicaraguan people achieve self-determination were ultimately founded in a kind of white savior complex. I left, realizing Americans cannot liberate the Nicaraguan people. Not thirty years ago, when the US government created the Contra army to fight a decade long war against socialist Nicaragua, and not now. Americans can only help destroy their government, and in the process hand power over to the same conservative neoliberals who seek to roll back the Nicaraguan safety net, privatize national resources, and undo a decade of improvements in poverty reduction and healthcare.

I have many disagreements with the Sandinista party. However, I do not feel that the violent overthrow of their government can in any way benefit working class Nicaraguans. I mourn with them the tragic deaths of the hundreds killed in the gunfights between police and armed opposition. But if the Sandinista government falls we must ask ourselves: how many tens of thousands more will die when the health clinics are closed? How many children will go barefoot, hungry, and uneducated if their welfare state is abolished? They can’t just fly back to the United States. Unlike them, the westerners who bring about “regime change” rarely have to stick around and suffer the consequences.
Wyatt Reed

On 1 October, Nicaraguan authorities deported Goette-Luciak, an anthropologist-turned-reporter who had published a series of factually flawed reports in the Guardian and Washington Post that reinforced the narrative of the country’s opposition forces.
The Establishment Strikes Back

The journalistic establishment lost no time in striking back with Adam Barnett’s piece in politics.co.uk The Canary is not journalism - it's a government mouthpiece in waiting

Politics.co.uk describes itself as
‘the UK's leading political news website among MPs and members of the public.. (its) team of journalists produce their stories from deep within the corridors of power in Westminster, where they were the first digital journalists to gain access to the lobby.’
In other words it’s a bunch of incestuous pundits reporting each others prejudices as news.
Barnett is a right-wing Labour supporter who formerly worked for Left Foot Forward a blog established by Will Straw, son of Jack. Some inkling of where Barnett is coming from with his attack on Blumenthall and Canary can be gauged from the following:
Picket of Labour's National Executive over their 'entirely accurate' witchhunt of anti-racists
‘Mendoza's website had just endorsed boycotting the paper [Guardian] over its entirely accurate coverage of anti-semitism in the Labour party.’

Entirely accurate? All the smears of anti-Semitism  are directed at the supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and the constant attacks are of course without any right of reply. The portrayal of those of us expelled or suspended as ‘anti-Semites’ despite our long history of antiracism and anti-fascism is a collective libel. The portray of the Israeli penetration of the Labour Party as some kind of socialist endeavour and the misinformation concerning the IHRA confirms that the Guardian's coverage is anything but accurate.
Media Lens reported that Patrick Elliot described how the first story ever to be published in a UK national newspaper with the words 'Corbyn' and 'antisemitism' in the same sentence appeared in the Guardian on August 13, 2015.
Barnett wrote that ‘Mendoza was invited to the now scrapped event at the Guardian by the NUJ's Black Members Council for Black History Month. It's not clear whether they will host her talk at another venue instead.’ The Guardian’s NUJ Chapel’s decision was  both racist and reactionary. There can be no doubt that Goette-Luciak was operating as a propagandist for the US backed opposition in Nicaragua, a country that has had more than its fair share of US backed destabilisation under Reagan and his successors.
One can gain some measure of where Barnett is coming from with his hysterical attack on Canary. He writes that:
‘These sites are not a plucky alternative to the mainstream press. They are the aspirant state media for a future autocracy. If they will help governments defame journalists in other countries, and shrug when those journalists are arrested, imagine what they would do to people here who they actually know and dislike.
In fact, one doesn't have to wonder. The Canary already attacks BBC journalists who need police protection from zealous Corbynites. It already says its leader is the victim of various conspiracies. One such yarn even resulted in the head of a PR firm receiving death threats for his alleged complicity.’
The only wonder is that the site Open Democracy sees fit to publish this reactionary patsy. 

RT also covered this story Left vs Left - The Guardian cancels lecture by The Canary's Mendoza after Nicaragua article reporting that Buzzfeed News published an article, with comment from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), accusing Blumenthal of writing a piece for the Canary which doxxed and incited violence against Goette-Luciak.
Blumenthal rebuffed the claims, stating: "Goette-Luciak had been exposed in Nicaragua for his work with the opposition, and would have been sent home (not detained) whether or not I wrote anything."
Buzzfeed has subsequently issued an update to the story, written by Mark Di Stefano, retracting CPJ's claims, saying "Blumenthal neither doxxed anybody nor threatened violence." Doxxing is the practice of researching and broadcasting private or identifiable information.
Di Stefano then reported that, due to the Blumenthal article, the Guardian has withdrawn their invitation for Mendoza to give the Claudia Jones Memorial lecture.
The email written by Phillip Inman, an economics writer at the Guardian states the "detention, intimidation and deportation" of Goette-Luciak was mainly due to, RT contributor, Blumenthal's article for the Canary - originally published in MintPress News.
Inman writes: "It is clear that the main source of intimidation was The Canary news website, which named Goette-Luciak as an opposition stooge – an accusation that quickly led to his arrest and deportation."
According to the Guardian, Goette-Luciak had been in Nicaragua to cover the anti-government protests. The paper revealed Goette-Luciak had been arrested on Monday by Nicaraguan law enforcement officials and was escorted on to a flight from the Nicaraguan capital to San Salvador in El Salvador later that afternoon from where he was deported.

Mendoza was scheduled to give a lecture as part of the Claudia Jones Memorial on October 11, at Guardian HQ in London. Jones was a Trinidad-born journalist and activist. She migrated to the US with her family as a child and later became a political activist and black nationalist through Communism. She died in London in 1964.

The Guardian’s White journalists, together with the President of the National Union of Journalists, pulled the meeting as a result of the false allegation that the Canary was responsible for the deportation of Goette-Luciak. See How many privileged columnists does it take to silence one Black woman?
On 29th October Mendoza gave the Claudia Jones lecture in Rotherhithe to a packed audience. The decision of the Guardian’s journalists and NUJ had backfired. The Talk about a famous Black journalist that the Guardian and Nick Cohen Tried to Ban

Tony Greenstein 

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