What’s behind the Jason Puracal campaign?
“Midnight Express” in Central America
On August 2011, U.S. citizen Jason Zachary Puracal was convicted in a Nicaraguan Court of Justice to 22 years in prison for narcotics trafficking and money laundering along with 10 Nicaraguans, also sentenced to long prison terms.
Nine months earlier, Puracal’s home and office had been raided by Nicaraguan authorities without a warrant, an extraordinary procedure permitted in the country’s criminal code for serious cases in which there is suspicion that the investigation risks having evidence destroyed or concealed. Using the latest technology (provided, incidentally, by the United States) traces of narcotics were found in Puracal’s vehicle along with extensive documentation supporting the investigation, which the Nicaraguan judicial authorities argue justifies the charges against him and the other members of the network in which he participated.
As a U.S. national, Puracal has appealed the sentence and hearings begin this week in the district appeals court in Granada.
Jason Puracal is a former Peace Corps volunteer for the United States in Nicaragua. After having met and married a Nicaraguan, he decided to stay in the country, buying a real estate franchise after his volunteer service tour ended. His arrest has led to an unprecedented international campaign in the form of a petition organized in favour of his release which has gathered more than 90 thousand signatures on the internet.
The sentiment is understandable given the ease with which the situation can be turned into a parallel of the famous film Midnight Express (1978), by Alan Parker, from the screenplay by Oliver Stone. In the film, an American drugs trafficker is sentenced to 30 years in a Turkish prison. Over the decades the film, based on a true story, has become a classic of Islamophobia with all the clichés that portray countries of the non-Western “periphery” as lawless places where whites are exposed to all kinds of torture, including sexual abuse, at the hands of corrupt, ruthless and unpredictable locals. After years of enduring inhumane conditions and abandoning all hope of support from the U.S. government, Billy Hayes, the film’s protagonist, decides to escape from prison on his own.
According to the version of events put forward by the defenders of Puracal, Puracal’s rights were violated by Nicaraguan authorities in their failure to produce a search warrant when entering his home and business office. They also argue that he was denied the right to a proper defense and that his prison sentence is longer than Nicaraguan law allows. Finally they allege that he has been forced to live with seven other prisoners in the same cell, and that at one point he suffered burns from a water kettle used in the prison.
All of these allegations have been rejected outright by the President of the Court of Appeal, Dr. Norman Miranda Castillo, who in turn accused the U.S. Embassy in Managua of interfering in the course of Nicaraguan justice.
“Responsibility to Protect” the Narcos
This past May 24, the Secretary for the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, Miguel De la Lama, sent a letter in response to a request by Jared Genser, on behalf of the “non-profit organization” Perseus Strategies LLC. In the letter, Lama informs Genser that the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in its sixty-third session issued a “text of opinion”, number 10/2012 on Puracal.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was established by Resolution 1991/42 of the now superseded UN Commission on Human Rights, among other things to investigate cases of arbitrary detention inconsistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a task that according to the United Nations should be carried out “with discretion, objectivity and independence.”
The “text of opinion“, sent by the UN Group to the Government of Nicaragua, clarifies that the human rights body cannot comment on the charges against Puracal, nor about the evidence presented against him by the State of Nicaragua. However, given that the Nicaraguan government did not respond to the allegations made by the group within the stipulated period of two months, the Council recommended Puracal’s immediate release, and for a new trial to be conducted if deemed necessary, along with with an indemnity to Puracal for alleged damage to his person. Clearly, this letter from the UN body immediately became a powerful media weapon.
The Working Group’s members are Malick El Hadji Sow from Senegal, Shaheen Sardar Ali from Pakistan, Roberto Garreton of Chile, Mads Andenas from Norway and Vladimir Tochilovsky, from the Ukraine. It is not difficult to discern the influence of the European Union and NATO prevalent in this UN Working Group.
The Working Group chairman Malick Sow, is a Supreme Court judge in Senegal, a strong regional ally of France and a country lauded as a “strong and stable democracy” by the European Union. Senegal ranks 155th of the 169 countries that make up the Human Development Index, and is heavily reliant on EU aid, which exceeds 10% of the national budget. Meanwhile, the Working Group’s Pakistani vice-president is actually a law professor at the University of Warwick in England and at the University of Oslo, in Norway. It is hardly possible to expect actions deviating from the official line by a Chilean representative who, although a recognized human rights defender during the Pinochet era, today represents a state that practices arbitrary detention of indigenous Mapuche of all ages, as if it were a sport. Nor can one expect independent action from a Ukrainian trial lawyer involved in the first stages of organizing the International Criminal Court, widely criticized for its bias against any head of State identified by Washington as an enemy, and for its reluctance to investigate the crimes by allies of the White House.
Lastly, the Norwegian, Andenas is, like the Pakistani Shaheen Ali, a professor at the University of Oslo’s Law Faculty, but he has also been a member of the board of a very exclusive organization, the Association of Human Rights Institutes (AHRI) of the European Union. This group, funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) organization, brings together some 41 universities in Europe to conduct research in the area of human rights. In December 2010, with funding from COST, AHRI conducted the seminar “International Criminal Court and the Responsibility to Protect – Synergies and Tensions.” One of the seminar themes was the suggestive name of “The Way Ahead”, a “discussion of the ways in which the “international community could coordinate their future actions” to implement the doctrine known as R2P.
The Responsibility to Protect, or R2P, is an idea that NATO countries have been promoting for several years within the United Nations. The basic concept of R2P is that when a state fails to protect its population, either deliberately or through being unable to, it is the responsibility of the “entire international community” to intervene, even when this is in contradiction with one of fundamental principles of the United Nations: non-interference in the internal affairs of other States. At the UN World Summit in September 2005, a majority of member states, under pressure from NATO countries accepted the idea of R2P in principle, but recommended a more extensive discussion of the topic. Little more than five years later, that doctrine would be put into practice by NATO forces through a war of aggression against the Libyan people.
“To be honest, it’s was not a very difficult undertaking because all these NGOs are known to each other (…) and finally, the session of the UN Human Rights made it all come together in Geneva, and so the statement was launched, signed by all members,” said Bouchuiguir interviewed for the documentary film “The Humanitarian War”, directed by Julien Teil.
The figures that Bouchuiguir convinced the other members of the Council of were shocking: March 17, 2011, reported 6,000 dead, 12,000 wounded, 500 missing, 700 rapes and 75,000 refugees. Just two weeks later, Bouchuiguir spoke of 18,000 dead, 46,000 wounded, 28,000 missing, 1600 sexual assaults. It was these figures that were used to justify the “no fly zone” and NATO bombing that resulted in a veritable slaughter. All these figures were invented.
Remember that on March 2, the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S., Mike Mullen, testified before Congress: “we could not confirm that Libyan planes had opened fire on their own population.” Around the same time, the Russian Joint Chief of Staff reported that satellite monitoring over Libyan territory since the crisis’ beginning in mid-February, failed to detect any kind of bombing.
“There is no way to do it”, replied Bouchuiguir to Teil’s question about how to check whether the figures he had given the UN were true. “The Libyan government never, ever, gives information on human rights (…) so you have to do an estimate,” he said. “… his information (on the number of civilian casualties in Libya) I did not receive from just anyone. I received it from The Libyan Prime Minister – on the other side,” added Bouchuiguir referring to the National Transitional Council (NTC) sponsored by the so-called “rebels” in turn supported by NATO.
“It was Mr. Mahmoud…of the tribe Warfallah. It was he who gave me these figures. I used them, though with some caution,” he adds. Bouchuiguir was referring to Mahmoud Jibril, the “Prime Minister” of the “Libyan rebels” designated by NATO and the CIA.
Ali Zeidan, introduced in early March as the LLHR spokesman, would also become spokesman for the NTC. Later, when pressed by Teil, Bouchuiguir recognized that several members of the NTC were also members of the above mentioned “human rights” organization. “You know, these people in the government (the NTC), we are all part of the same group! They are members of the Libyan League for Human Rights! The Minister of Information, for example, the Education Minister, the Minister for Oil, the Finance Minister, all are members of our league! … None occupy positions of responsibility, but are members of our league,” he explains.
The true scale of the slaughter committed against the Libyan people may some day be known. For now, though, through some heavily embellished figures from NATO itself, detailing the use of 7,700 missiles and bombs on some more than 10,000 flights, one can get an idea, one that would very probably pale against the horror of the true facts. As long as those in charge of the task of counting the bodies on the ground continue to show the same unethical behaviour as individuals such as Bouchuiguir Soliman and the officials of the 70 “human rights” NGOs – who without even thinking voted so that others would execute their “responsibility to bomb” the Libyan people – the truth may never be known, simply because there are interests to ensure it never does.
All this begs the question: If these kinds of humanitarian bureaucrats have no qualms about inventing a genocide so as to sanction their own genocide in accordance with the interests of Western powers, why would they refrain from demanding the release of a convicted drug dealer like Jason Puracal?
Many other important cases await attention from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, such as the recently passed law by U.S. President Barak Obama in late 2011, which allows for the indefinite detention of persons without charge, and imprisonment without trial, alongside the widely reported cases at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the many other secret CIA prisons around the world. Or there is the case of the 7,000 Palestinian children that Israel has behind bars since 2000, or the case of more than 200 immigrant detention centers in which the European Union today detains tens of thousands of people who have not committed any crime, and so on.
What are the chances that the UN Working Group will deal seriously with these issues? None whatsoever, because its members are totally supportive of countries that are known human rights violators. Israel, arguably the closest ally of the United States, and it’s largest recipient of military aid, is also a de facto member of the European Union under generous trade and other agreements of cooperation and association.
Nothing happens spontaneously in the corrupt world of institutional “human rights”, controlled by NATO. As an example, one should ask, who is the person charged with requesting the UN Working Group to investigate the case of Jason Puracal?
Perseus Strategies, LLC, is a company dedicated to providing legal consulting services to large NGOs, multinational corporations and governments in the field of human rights, corporate social responsibility and the implementation of R2P. Their activities often include the promotion of U.S. interests in various countries, and the preparation of various documents to justify the application of imperialist aggression under the guise of R2P against target, as in the case of North Korea.
In parallel, or indeed as a special division within the organization, Genser and Fletcher operate a sui generis “social movement”, Freedom Now. This organization works to free “prisoners of conscience” from around the world by giving them “pro bono” legal assistance. It is no surprise that the list of Freedom Now defendants fails to include cases such as the Cuban-American citizens René González and his four Cuban comrades unjustly incarcerated in maximum security prisons for working to obtain information in order to prevent terrorist acts against Cuba from Miami. Incidentally, this August 13, within three days of Puracal initiating his appeal in Nicaragua, René González turned 56 years old somewhere in the U.S., unable to be with most of his family still living in Cuba.
Genser is just one member of the Freedom Now board. Another, the president of Freedom Now, is the lawyer Jeremy Zucker, a former law clerk at the International Criminal Court and a member of the influential Council on Foreign Relations, where the elite of American power, both Democrats and Republicans, decide United States and allied foreign policy. In Norway, the Cuban-American Teresita Alvarez-Bjelland, works as a specialist “non-profit” consultant with the directors of the Norwegian-American Association, positioned to exert pressure on the UN Working Group through their strong Norwegian influence there. Peter Magyar, the attorney in charge of expanding the activity of Freedom Now in Europe, is an influential lawyer in the fields of privatization and international capital markets.
Freedom Now does not defend just anybody. Their work is designed “strategically” so as to promote political changes in the countries where they have selected defendants. Nor is their work limited to the courts, but is also devoted to developing public relations and propaganda campaigns with a broad range of agents and actors.
Innocence? What innocence?
One of the most influential organizations sponsoring the campaign for Puracal is the group called the Innocence Project, whose mission is to protect the rights of American citizens unjustly imprisoned inside and outside the United States. In addition to media support, the organization has given Puracal legal support through its network of lawyers in the United States. This organization in 2011 received a grant of $ 400,000 for two years for overheads as part of US financial magnate George Soros’ “Open Society Foundations”, belonging to his Open Society Institute.
According to Barry C. Scheck in the New York Times late last year, the new director of Soros’ “philanthropic empire”, Christopher Stone, “has a passion to change things and a great vision and understanding of how to build institutions and reengineer them to endure”. Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, is notorious as O. J. Simpson’s lawyer in the highly publicized 1995 case.
Soros’s speech about open societies, free markets and his criticisms of Bush have made him popular among Democrats, but he is by no means progressive. With respect to the strategy of empire, Soros is a leading player among the global power elite. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg, the International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch, all organizations working to achieve U.S. geopolitical goals, often using “human rights” as a pretext for US and NATO interventions.
The white rags of the DEA
The “recommendation” by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention turned out to be political engineering at the highest levels of the U.S. government’s self-interested, politicized, corrupt “human rights” network. The former Canadian Justice Minister who so severely criticized Commandante Daniel Ortega, turns out to be an old friend of Jared Genser, the network’s orchestrator. On the other hand, Soros provides far-from-innocent funding to the international human rights “Innocence” organization doing the campaigning for Puracal.
Likewise, there is more than meets the eye to former DEA chief Tom Cash as regards his support for Puracal. Thomas V. Cash is one of the men who helped prosecute Pablo Escobar. When he left the DEA, Cash went to work at the information and intelligence consulting company Kroll Inc., becoming head of it’s Miami office. Among its services Kroll offers advice to governments of various tax haven countries on how to improve their image and get themselves removed from the anti-money laundering lists of the Organization fro Economic Cooperation and Development.
Among Cash’s credentials, according to the New York Post, he has served as chairman of the Fraud Prevention International Bankers Association of Florida. The newspaper adds that the connections amongst the circles between Cash and state police were so large that a judge assigned to the electricians’ demand against Kroll, had to give up the case because he had been a personal friend of Cash for many years.
On August 16th the appeal hearing begins in Nicaragua in the case of Jason Puracal. The Granada district appeal court will decide whether or not there are enough elements to declare a mistrial in the original trial that ended with his prison sentence of 22 years based on the procedures in Nicaragua’s Constitution and Penal Code. Even so, via their networks of political interference, false US human rights groups are using Puracal’s case for blatant anti-Nicaraguan propaganda. That in its turn does very little to help Puracal’s defense.
The campaign to free Jason Puracal, a convicted narcotics dealer, perfectly illustrates, yet again, the extent of the corrupt manipulation of human rights by the United States and its allies around the world.