By Diego Ramos and Max Jones / Original to ScheerPost
On this week’s episode of Journalists for Sale, hosts Diego Ramos and Max Jones talk to Geopolitical Economy Report founder and editor Ben Norton about the deployment of U.S. troops in Peru, and America’s unwavering support for the brutal military dictatorship that has proceeded the coup on former President Pedro Castillo.
This transcript was produced by an automated transcription service. Please refer to the audio interview to ensure accuracy.
Diego Ramos: All right. So thanks for joining us, Ben.
Ben Norton: Thanks for having me.
Diego Ramos: And so we want to get the big ticket item, which is troop deployment in Peru. But before we get there, I think we should get into the context behind this. And while it originally arguably originally stretches back to the Albert Alberto Fujimori dictatorship back in the nineties, maybe we can start with the coup of the Peruvian president, Pedro Castillo. So can you take us through perhaps the final days of his administration, the setup of the government in Peru, with its right wing Congress and the Fujimori also U.S. influence constitution that allows that allows for there to be six presidents in the past five years through this ambiguous moral incapacity vote. And from my understanding, from your reporting and others, is that you have this democratically elected president from an indigenous descent, humble upbringing, and this right wing Congress that wants to impeach him. They tried to subvert several times, but it’s when Castillo dissolves the Congress that the military and police turn on him illegally. Right. And the Western press says that Castillo was the one who did the coup. So maybe. Can you take it from there?
Ben Norton: Yeah. I mean, this is the the first coup in scare quotes in history in which the military arrests the actual supposed coup leader instead of following the coup leaders orders. It’s completely preposterous. Pedro Castillo was the victim of a coup. And now there’s this entire ridiculous narrative trying to portray him as someone who is trying to carry out a coup. So, All right, there’s a lot of talk about that that you raised here. I’ll try to keep it very simple and then we can get into the more specific details. So Pedro Castillo is one of the first left wing leaders of Peru in decades, and he is also from indigenous descent and he is from rural areas in Peru. He is a teacher and campesino, a peasant, a farmer, and he represents the major majority of the Peruvian population that has been marginalized and ignored by the mainstream political class in Peru, which has been dominated by either people of European descent or in the case of the Fujimori family, Japanese descent. So as another example, Fujimori is well known as the dictator of Peru in the 1990s, but more recently, some of the right wing presidents that govern the country include Pedro Kuczynski, which is a Polish last name. He’s of Polish descent. So, I mean, clearly, this is a country where the majority of the population is of indigenous descent and has very little political representation. Pedro Castillo, in his one and a half years in office was a very brief period of that. And now it’s back to the oligarch rule in Peru. And it’s no surprise that, according to a recent poll from March by a completely mainstream polling firm, ironically funded by Western governments, they acknowledge that the Peruvian Congress, which is dominated by the right wing, has just 6% support, 6%, and the unelected leader, the boulevard that has around 15 or 16% support. So I mean, just laughably low support. Almost no one supports the unelected government in Peru. Now, you mentioned the Constitution, which was written in 1963 under a dictator, 1993 excuse me, the Constitution was written in 1993 under the dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori, who was a right wing fascistic leader who dissolved democracy in 1992. He dissolved the the unicameral well, at that time wasn’t unicameral. He dissolved the Congress and made it unicameral. So Peru has a unicameral system, unlike the United States, which has a bicameral system with the House and the Senate. Right. And many countries have similar systems. In Peru, there is a unicameral Congress that was created by Fujimori under the Taters ship. And in the 1993 constitution, it was essentially written by Chicago boy neoliberal economists from the United States. And there are a lot of very objectionable things in the Constitution. But Article 113 says that if the unicameral Congress can get a two thirds vote, it can overthrow the elected president. If it declares that the elected president has a physical or moral incapacity. So what that means is that essentially any president that the Congress doesn’t like can be easily overthrown. If they have a two thirds vote, all they have to say is they have a moral incapacity. So what this essentially means, and especially in a country like Peru, which as I mentioned, is deeply undemocratic, controlled by oligarchs, wealthy oligarchs, many of of whom are of of European descent, they can simply buy votes in Congress. And this is what. Has happened. There has been a series of scandals in Peru. The most recent example is known as the money video scandal, which involved the son of the former dictator, Alberto Fujimori, who is currently in prison. Because there were videos that were leaked that showed him meeting with different members of Congress and discussing bribes from wealthy donors in or I mean, donor is what they say in the U.S. from corrupt capitalist oligarchs who are paying people to vote a certain way. Right. And I mean, that might be illegal in the U.S., but it’s not legal in Peru. And they were voting essentially, they were taking money to vote for or against impeachment, in this case involving Kuczynski, the former president. So essentially, all the Congress needs is enough bribes in order to vote to overthrow the elected president. As soon as Castillo entered office, they tried to overthrow him, but they didn’t get enough votes. And they tried three different times. And on the third attempt, which was in December of 2000, 22, December of last year, just a year and a half into his term as president, the Congress was going to do its third attempt, and he was notified. He knew it was public knowledge that there were enough votes this time to overthrow him. So he cited Article 134 of the Constitution, which says that if the Congress has on two occasions taking legal action against the term, is censured, the Council of Ministers of Peru or has denied its approval of the Council of Ministers, and that’s the cabinet of Peru. Then the President can legally, constitutionally, temporarily dissolve Congress in order to call for new elections. And that’s exactly what Pedro Castillo did. He said that they were going to be new elections within nine months. And he also called for a constitutional assembly to create a constituent assembly to create a new constitution. And immediately the military overthrew him and imprisoned him for 18 months without trial. And the U.S. ambassador to Peru, another key detail here is a former CIA agent. And, you know, there’s no such thing really as a former CIA agent unless you’re like in prison for exposing CIA crimes. She worked for the CIA for nine years. Her name is Lisa Khanna. And then she moved over to the State Department and was the executive assistant to Mike Pompeo, who was himself former CIA director. It turned secretary of state. So clearly there’s a revolving door between the CIA and the State Department. And Lisa Khanna met with the defense minister of Peru one day before the Congress was going to try to overthrow Castillo and before he tried to dissolve Congress constitutionally. And on that day in December 7th, the military turned against him because the head of the military, the defense minister who had met with the U.S. ambassador, ordered the military to disobey the orders of the elected president. So it’s not a straight up 1973 style Pinochet coup where the military, you know, attacks the presidential palace and kills the president. But it is a coup. I mean, the military disobeyed the constitutional orders made by the president and imprisoned the president for 18 months without trial and proceeded to massacre 60 protesters after months of pro-democracy protests.
Max Jones: So. In other words, the only people that acted outside of the law in this event, or the Blue Party was Blue Party and the Congress, right? Because in Western media they were like in the in The New York Times, they talk about they did a piece and talked about how Castillo’s dissolving of Congress, even though, as you just explained, he has a constitutional right to do that. Just as you know, the Congress has a constitutional right to oust whatever president they feel like doing so. But they said that it was widely condemned as an attempted coup. Well, giving no contradicting while giving none of the context. It was widely condemned.
Ben Norton: As an attempt to by them. They condemned that as an attempted coup. And then they reported that people condemned it as an attempted coup. That’s how it works.
Max Jones: Yeah, right. And and the same article goes on to quote U.S. Ambassador to Peru, Lisa Cairns, praising of the of Congress as coup without even mentioning that she met with the Peruvian defense minister the day before he instructed Peru’s armed forces to support the congressional coup.
Ben Norton: So, no, no, sorry. Quick correction. I mean, he ordered the military to disobey the orders of the president. I mean, there’s a video on the day that Pedro Castillo invoked Article 134 of the Constitution calling for new elections. So he’s not it’s not a dictatorship. He’s doing what the Constitution allows him to do. And in response to that, the defense minister by video published a video on his Twitter account ordering the military to disobey the president’s orders and the military arrested him.
Max Jones: Q Yeah, and in The New York Times, they said they said the stunning but peaceful transition, which I guess it’s peaceful because they didn’t kill Castiel, like you said.
Ben Norton: But after.
Max Jones: Yeah, right.
Ben Norton: After.
Max Jones: Yeah. And in The New York Times, they said the stunning but peaceful transition quickly came to symbolize two seemingly opposing characteristics that have come to define Peru’s young democracy, its fragility, but also its resiliency. And then they go on to talk about the coup, describing Castillo’s actions as a coup without describing the he has a constitutional right to dissolve Congress, and then they somehow kind of imply that it’s it’s democratic to what boulevard? And the Congress did, even though, as you just explained, I think it was illegal, which if you could get into the legality of why it was illegal for them to use the military to arrest Castillo without trial, that would be great. And also, if you could get into if you could comment on how the media, how the Western media can just completely leave out such crucial pieces of context that you just provided for us here that really just don’t don’t explain the entire events at all. When you look at it, when you look at it without knowing that Castillo had a constitutional right to do this.
Ben Norton [00:11:48] Well, why did you leave out all those crucial details? Because the US embassy said it was a coup and they’re obeying the orders of the US embassy. Because if the US embassy says something, it’s sacrosanct. You can never challenge it. Right. Okay. So a few important details here. I mean, I’m not an expert on Peruvian constitutional law, but technically, yes, but you are. They followed the line of presidential succession. She herself was the vice president, although that’s another complicated detail we can talk about. I mean, she what, like Lenny Moreno was the vice president for Iraq, Korea and Ecuador, but was a complete trader who is allied with the right wing. And then after she actually left the left wing political party that a Pedro Castillo had come to office campaigning on, which is called Peru Livre. She left the party a year before the coup and said she never even believed in the party’s ideology. And then she formed an alliance with the right wing. So she was always a Trojan horse. So yes, she did follow presidential succession, but the military arrested the elected president after he. So Pedro Castillo releases this video. You can find it online and he’s shaking in the video. What kind of coup leader is shaking while they’re reading a printed message? There were no military. I mean, I’ve seen videos of actual coups like Bolivia, for instance, in 2019, which was backed by the United States. The military stands there behind the coup leader, all the generals in there. And they’re like, you know, uniforms, right? Castillo is not surrounded by the military. He was shaking as he read this message, saying that he’s going to temporarily dissolve the Congress and hold new elections in nine months, which is constitutional, and called for a constituent assembly, which was widely popular. That’s why he was elected. I mean, there are a lot of you know, I know a lot of people in the Peruvian left. I’ve interviewed a lot of people. There were a lot of criticisms. He was not necessarily a very effective leader because he had no political experience and because from the day one before, day one, his hands were completely tied. Every element of government was trying to overthrow him. The judicial system in Peru is completely corrupt. I mean, I mentioned the money video scandal. There have been multiple judges implicated in these corruption scandals. So from day one, there are lawfare, attacks on him and his family, absurdly accusing them without any evidence of corruption. He had a constant turnover of his ministers who are basically resigning every week. And he came in in July of 2021, in August, just a month after he came in. His foreign minister, Bejar, was forced to resign by the military. They threatened him and told him he had to resign. And a month into the presidency, they heard the former foreign minister said this is the beginning of a soft coup. That’s the term he used. He said Wallpaper Lando in an interview, which is a soft coup. So, I mean, from day one, Castillo was not even allowed to govern. But even ignoring all of that, the military in prison or the military arrested him. And then the Congress voted to impeach him after he was arrested by the military. So, okay, you can say that this is technically going through the constitutional process, but the military already arrested the president. I mean, when the military arrests the president, constitutional, you know, the the presidential.
Max Jones: Ban didn’t didn’t didn’t Castillo dissolve Congress already? So do they have any right to do that at that point?
Ben Norton: Exactly. I mean, that’s exactly so the argument made by the people who defend the coup against Castillo is that there was a vote in Congress. And by the way, parts of the left went against him and went along with the coup, which shows I mean, like Peru politically is completely dysfunctional. It is not a democracy, it is a completely authoritarian oligarchy. But anyway, the point is that the argument made is that the Congress voted to impeach him, but that was after the military already arrested him and after he dissolved the Congress. So people are arguing that that what the Congress did against Castillo was constitutional, are ignoring all of those facts and ignoring the fact that he was sentenced to prison without due process for 18 months and what was referred to as preventative detention. Now, preventative detention is the kind of thing that has been used by other dictatorships, like in Bolivia, for instance, after the 2019 coup in Bolivia were the same people defending the coup in Peru made the same arguments that, well, Evo Morales was a dictator, even though he won the election. Supposedly he stole the election, but actually he won it. And but it was his fourth term. And even though it was actually constitutional because he passed a referendum allowing the fourth term. But whatever, I mean, like the point is that they always find a justification to justify what whatever the US ambassador is doing. And the U.S. Embassy on the day that December 6th, when Pedro Castillo released this video message, the U.S. Embassy immediately released a message saying that this is that they’re against this and this is not follow with the democratic constitutional framework of Peru. So this is the US government meddling in internal Peruvian politics. What is the US embassy? Where does its right come from to say what is or is not constitutional democratic in another country? I mean, so it’s very similar to the congressional coup, the parliamentary coup against Imran Khan in Pakistan in April of the same year where there were videos and photos published in the Pakistani media showing the U.S. ambassador in Pakistan meeting with different members of the the Pakistani parliament who voted to overthrow the elected prime minister, Imran Khan. So this is the new kind of coup. You don’t really need Pinochet anymore, right? They can just do a parliamentary coup. They just bribe and get enough votes. And the ambassador is behind the scenes meeting with members of parliament or Congress to get enough votes, and then they overthrow the elected leader and then they never have to have an election. I mean, it’s very similar to what happened in Peru and Pakistan. So right now in Pakistan, there is no elected leadership. The government has refused to hold elections and they’ve continued to delay elections. And there they arrested Imran Khan, who is by far the most popular president, a prime minister candidate in the election, if they ever actually have one. So their goal is to imprison the most. Popular candidate and then hold elections, which are obviously not real elections. And in Peru, they imprisoned Pedro Castillo, and they have refused to hold elections. And yet they keep talking about, as supposedly they’re the democratic, legitimate government. And by the way, I mean, you keep mentioning that. You’ve mentioned that the media keeps ignoring all of these crucial details. They also keep ignoring the fact that almost no governments in the region recognize the legitimacy of the Peruvian regime. I mean, so even aside from, you know, nit picking like the details of the Peruvian constitution, I mean, all of the largest countries in the region refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Peruvian government. In fact, the governments of Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Bolivia published a joint statement saying that they recognize Pedro Castillo still as the constitutional president and referring to it as a coup. The government of Honduras referred to it as a coup. Nicaragua, of course, you know, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela do not recognize it. But I mean, we now we’re at a point where the majority of governments in Latin America don’t recognize that DNA barata is a legitimate president. President Lopez of our in Mexico just announced that he will not allow the boulevard to enter Mexican territory. He offered asylum to Pedro Castillo’s family, and I mean that. So the media acts as though this is a completely normal government in Peru because the U.S. and Canada recognize it well, and the right wing regimes in Ecuador and and Uruguay recognizing it, ignoring that the vast which I mean, Brazil has been much more iffy on this because Bolsonaro was president when the coup happened. But since Lula has come into power, he has not made any formal diplomatic outreach to the Peruvian regime. And the foreign minister of Brazil just announced that they have frozen all sales of ammunition and military equipment to Peru until democratic normalcy is restored. So talk about media propaganda. How can you ignore. I mean, I’ve never seen The New York Times acknowledge that the vast majority of the countries in the region do not recognize the legitimacy of this government.
Diego Ramos: Yeah. And also, since the coup, there’s been massive protests in Peru, and the blue Arctic regime have committed several human rights violations that have been recognized by Amnesty International, the UN Special Rapporteur on peaceful assembly. So could you paint a picture of what the repression has looked like since the coup took place?
Ben Norton: It’s been absolutely brutal. I mean, and fortunately, like I said, it’s very similar to what happened in Bolivia. I went to Bolivia in 2020 for the elections. I was an electoral observer and reporting on the situation. I was actually personally threatened by the the coup regime’s de facto leader in Bolivia, who was the technically the Ministry of the Interior or the minister of government. And Morillo is his name tomorrow. But he supposedly was not the president. The president was gay in the UN. Yes. But again, like in Peru, you know, he’s not really the leader. In fact, you could say that it’s the military that’s in charge in Peru. But you can also say that it’s Hosie Williams, who is the president of the Congress, who’s, you know, a complete Fujimori star, right winger. And he was previously the commander of the military of Peru. And he’s been very credibly accused of being involved in drug trafficking. And he covered up a massacre when he was the commander of the military under Fujimori. He covered up a massacre of peasants in Peru. And he’s now Jose Williams is the the head of the Congress and he’s the power behind the throne, just as Arturo Murillo, the minister of the government or Ministry of the Interior, was the power behind the throne of the coup regime in Bolivia in 2019. So it’s the same story. A a popular left wing leader of indigenous descent is overthrown in a coup. And then you have a brutal military regime with the fig leaf of civil leadership where actually the military is in charge and they massacre dozens of indigenous protesters. So in the case of Bolivia, there were two infamous massacres. Immediately after the coup in Scarva and St Gotha. I went there and I interviewed family members who are people who are killed. And in Peru, there were also very similar cases of massacres, especially in the rural areas, which are largely concentrated mostly in the South, but also throughout the country. I mean, there were mass protests all over Peru, including in Lima. And Lima is the wealthiest area of the country. And it’s much more, you know, much essentially whiter. I mean, you have a lot more people of European descent and other countries, whereas the rural areas tend to be people of indigenous descent. And even in Lima, there were mass protests going on for months. Still today, there are regular protests there, not the same level of protests. But essentially what happened is that the courage team deployed the military, not just the police. There are videos all over social media showing hundreds and hundreds, thousands of military officers with assault rifles marching down streets in downtown Lima threatening anyone. There are horrifying videos of the soldiers, again, not just the heavily armed police shooting protesters at one point, especially when there are a lot of protests around the airport in Lima. And this is similar. You know, when Trump was elected there, immediately after he was elected, there were a lot of protests. I guess it was actually after he was inaugurated, there were a lot of protests of people storming airports. Right. If you remember that. And so that was also something similar that what happened in Peru and the coup regime claimed that they were terrorists who were violently taking over the airport. So they deployed the military in helicopters who are shooting at unarmed protesters from helicopters and dropping tear gas canisters. And of course, that tear gas is made by U.S. companies. And furthermore, the Supreme Court in Peru, which is completely corrupt, they just ruled actually this May that protest is now illegal, literally. They said that protests are not legally guaranteed by the law. And if you go out and protest, the government can can imprison you without any due process, without any need for I mean, you are violating the law if you go out and protest. So this is the situation where and it is quite literally a military dictatorship where over 60 protesters have been killed. And again, the vast majority of indigenous dissent and largely from poor areas, and there have been a lot of local groups, you know, civil society organizations, unions especially, you know, of campesinos. There’s a union for campesinos. And they’ve been doing their own investigations into these massacres because, of course, the government’s not the regime is not going to visit like the massacre in Puno specifically. And there’s been they documented like 15 activists, protesters killed in this massacre in Puno. And they have all these videos and stuff. And of course, the you mentioned that there are actually finally there has been some attention by in. National organizations like the United Nations, even finally, Amnesty International after, you know, months after the coup, released some statements criticizing the coup regime. But I mean, because the US government recognizes this regime, there’s no pressure to actually have new elections. And Boulevarde has said that she’s going to continue until. Pedro, what would have been. Pedro Castillo’s term ends. So that’s four more years. So, I mean, this is there is no democratic legitimacy for Peru. But honestly, I mean, as blatant as it is, given the fact that the US government openly supported the coup in Bolivia as well, and given the fact that right now the US government is openly supporting the dictatorship in Ecuador, which is even more flagrant. I mean, you can’t be surprised because what happened in Peru, what Pedro Castillo was falsely accused of, is exactly what the right wing multimillionaire banker, president of Ecuador, German Lasso just did. He dissolved the National Assembly without any democratic legitimacy. This is a guy who also has approval ratings in the single digits, Guillermo Lasso. And now he’s ruling by decree. He’s a dictator and there is no democratic legitimacy. And yet the US government defended what Guillermo Lasso did, but called what, Pedro Castillo that an attempted coup.
Max Jones: Yeah. So as we’ve gone over already blew out was warmly received by the U.S. as next in line for Peru’s leadership. And there’s many reasons for that. So I was wondering if you can connect the dots between the U.S. and this coup with Peru. Peruvian Ambassador Lisa Carney, as we’ve already stated, who’s a former CIA agent, meeting with Peru’s defense minister a day before Castillo’s arrest, and then also meeting with the minister of energy and mining, vice president, vice minister of hydrocarbons and vice minister of mining after the coup. So, yeah, if you could go into that and what interest the U.S. has in supporting this military dictatorship.
Ben Norton: Well, I mean, it’s very clear Peru is a mining capital. It is extremely important in terms of its mineral extraction. Over half of Peru’s exports come from mining and not just from minerals, but also from natural gas. But Peru is the world’s second largest producer of copper after its neighbor, Chile, which is the world’s largest producer of copper. And copper, was a factor that’s often not mentioned in the famous CIA coup against Salvador Allende in 1973, the first September 11th attack, if you will, under Allende. The copper in Chile was nationally owned. It was the property of the Chilean people. And in Peru, this situation is somewhat similar, although not at that level. Castillo, during his presidential campaign, had been given many speeches, saying that our natural resources should belong to the people of Peru. And during his campaign, he had said he had, you know, suggested that he wanted to nationalize the natural resources when he actually got in. And as I mentioned, I mean, he was basically unable to govern. Peru is a deeply undemocratic society. I mean, the political system was created by the Fujimori dictatorship, basically to prevent neoliberal, neoliberal economics from ever being challenged. It’s baked into the constitution. So it was very hard for Castillo to challenge any of that. But despite that, he did call for land redistribution for campesinos, and he also announced that he wanted to introduce legislation to increase the taxation on the mining companies that are active in Peru. So the proceeds of the mining go toward the government, and he pledged to use that to fund education and health care and expanding infrastructure, especially gasification, because a lot of people actually don’t have access to energy. So anyway, he he didn’t. Although by the way, the week of the coup, members of his former leftist party believe they introduced legislation to nationalize the copper in Peru, although that wouldn’t have gotten passed in the Congress, which the right wing always had a majority in the Congress. And even the day I mean, the day that that Castillo won the election, I knew he was always going to face difficulties because the right wing had a majority in the unicameral Congress. But anyway, getting back to the issue of natural resources, so Peru is the second largest producer of copper in the world, and Goldman Sachs in 2022 referred to copper as the new oil. And especially, you know, we talked about lithium. Often there’s there’s discussion of lithium being the white gold. And as we in the world, as we turn toward renewable energy, lithium is very important for batteries. So, for instance, you know, on our computers, in our phones and cameras and electric cars, they need a lot of lithium for lithium ion batteries. Well, similarly, copper is extremely important for renewable energy, and copper comes largely from Chile and Peru, which together are responsible for about half of global copper production. Furthermore, it also Peru is a major exporter of gold, of silver, of zinc, of iron and natural gas. In fact, after Trinidad and Tobago, Peru is one of the main. It’s the assertion that Tobago is the main exporter of liquefied natural gas in Latin America and the Caribbean. And interestingly, this element has not gotten as much attention. The liquefied natural gas that Peru exports has at first before the this new phase in the in their proxy war in Ukraine with the Russian invasion in March 2022. I mean, the war in Ukraine goes back to 2014 with the U.S. organizing a coup overseen by the current third in command of the State Department, Victoria Nuland, and the Maidan coup. And anyway, the point is that the this new phase of the war in Ukraine that started in 2022 led to Peru completely shifting its gas exports from Asia. Largely, it had been South Korea, Japan and China that were importing Peru’s liquefied natural gas before 2022. And since then, almost all of Peru’s LNG has instead gone to European markets, especially Spain and Britain. So now Europe is benefiting from getting Peruvian liquefied natural gas as a replacement for cheaper Russian pipeline gas. So, I mean, Peru is extremely profitable. And if you look at the companies active, I mean, ironically, it’s actually the majority of the plurality of companies that are invested in Peru are not U.S. companies. It’s actually Canadian mining companies. Canadian mining companies are very active in Peru, along with British mining companies, Australian mining companies, Swiss mining companies. There are a few Brazilian and Mexican. Mining companies and of course, U.S. mining companies that are all heavily invested not only in extraction but also exploration projects. Peru, there have been reports that Peru has substantial lithium reserves, which would make sense because the lithium triangle of Bolivia, Chile and Argentina have massive lithium reserves. It would make sense that Peru would also have significant lithium. So, I mean, it’s a cash cow and the U.S. doesn’t need a democratic government. They can have the civil leadership fig leaf of the boulevard de with the actual military iron fist that’s in power as long as they get all of these favorable agreements. And that’s why Lisa Canner, when the CIA agent turned U.S. ambassador in Peru, I mean, she met openly with the Ministry of Energy and Mines, and then they boasted in a tweet they posted that they discussed investment in Peru. And that means foreign companies coming in Peru and extracting the resources and paying very few taxes.
Diego Ramos: Yeah.
Max Jones: Yeah. I’m sorry. Go ahead, Diego.
Diego Ramos: Yeah. So this leads now to the big news of the last couple of weeks or so that the Peruvian Congress approved U.S. troop deployment in the country. And this is this is to help train the police and military, which we already describe has been responsible for the extra judicial killings of all these protesters. I believe the count is about over 70 or so. So far. The move has been condemned by people like Mexican President Lopez Obrador. And I think another element of this that was pointed out is the the danger in that there could be a confrontation here or perhaps the goal of the U.S. being even more heavily involved to this point is to strike a sort of counterbalance with China, because from what I understand, China eclipsed us as Peru’s main trading partner, I believe, in 2001. You know, Peru, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative and trade between the two, talked about 37 billion in 2021, which is more than double of that between the U.S. and Peru. So is this a correct way to kind of frame it all that now at this time where the U.S. as as a friendly or they’re warm towards this regime in power, they’re starting they’re going to send these troops in and there’s all these other interests involved to.
Ben Norton: Well, in terms of China, I mean, obviously everything that the US government does these days is directed toward China and to a lesser extent Russia, mostly China. I mean, they are allies, China and Russia. And if you read all of the major strategic documents like the National Defense Strategy that was just published last year or the NATO strategic blueprint, they call this strategic concept from last year as well. They all say that the biggest so-called threat to U.S. and NATO’s security is China in the long term. And they say that Russia is a threat. But in the short term, China is the main long term threat. And basically, every single time that the US commander of SOUTHCOM, which is Southern Command, this is the you know, the U.S. military is active all around the world. So it has different command structures. You know, CENTCOM, Central Command is active in West Asia, oversaw the war in Iraq and such. And Southern Command is obviously in the southern South America and, you know, south of Mexico and Central America in South America. And then AFRICOM is on the African continent. But anyway, the commander of SOUTHCOM, Laura Richardson, basically every time she gives an interview, she salivate over the massive natural resource deposits all across Latin America. She talks about the oil in Venezuela, the lithium triangle, the copper. She also talks about the fresh water, by the way, which, you know, as climate change gets worse and worse. Freshwater is going to be very important. So, I mean, she’s just letting the cat out of the bag. Why is the commander of the U.S. military overseeing operations in South America talking about natural resources constantly? And she even mentioned that she got off the phone recently. She had in one of these interviews she did she talked about how she had a conversation with the US ambassador and also with abour Mali, which is the company involved as well in mining operations and for lithium. And she she said that she was having a discussion with corporate executives and the U.S. ambassador. Why is a military commander involved in these discussions? Well, clearly, I mean, we can see what the real intentions are now in terms of Peru. I mean, we can speculate, but I will say that there is very little public information about this. And of course, the English language media has ignored it. There is some Spanish language reporting on this vote that happened in late May in the Peruvian Congress that allows U.S. troops to enter. Now, I read the legislation. It’s very ambiguous. They mention the possibility of training, but they don’t really say what the intent. They say it’s a possibility, but they don’t say that they’re coming for training. And they say that they have a certain time frame that U.S. troops are allowed to enter in. So it’s very open ended. And frankly, I think probably what it is, is potentially the U.S. could send forces under the guise of training, but really they’re just sending troops to stabilize the regime. Now, I mean.
Max Jones: What do you mean by stabilize the regime?
Ben Norton: I mean, this is a deeply unstable government. Like in Peru, there has been mass protests all across the country. And there were a lot of reports that especially on the Bolivian border, that basically I mean, because especially in rural areas, the state presence is pretty weak. And I mean, anyone who’s been to parts of Latin America, oftentimes in rural areas, I mean, I guess you say this is true for the U.S., but the U.S. is actually very it’s a police state. I mean, everywhere you go, there’s just so many police and heavily armed police everywhere you look. I mean, if you go to a lot of rural areas in parts of Latin America, the state presence is very weak there. There are no soldiers and very few police. Right. And there are a lot of parts of Peru where the military regimes simply can’t they can’t govern. I mean, they don’t they can control the area because they have no popular support. And I mean, they need to repress these people in order to govern, especially. There have been a lot of protests around mining. And this is a new I mean, I’m not going to say that, you know, it was perfect under Pedro Castillo. There had been, you know, protests going on. I mean, obviously, again, Pedro Castillo barely could govern. And there have been constant protests. And even sometimes, you know, like workers in these in these mines will, like, destroy those sabotaged mining equipment. They’ll destroy company property. They’ll protest to go on strike like the Peruvian state, as dysfunctional, authoritarian as it is, is not a very powerful state because so much of the population doesn’t really see it as very legitimate. So, I mean, the U.S. might simply just send troops in the guise of of training, but actually, it’s just about regime solidification. That’s what I that’s why what I suspect. But I will say, you know, as a journalist that I have investigated this and there’s no information. I mean, there’s nothing out there. It’s very quiet. So we have to to speculate about it. But at this point, the Peruvian Congress has has opened the possibility for U.S. troops to be deployed to Peru. And if they do it, I would expect that it would probably be very quiet. Like like, like, by the way, Taiwan by the way, the U.S. has been deploying hundreds of troops, which isn’t a lot, but it’s still hundreds of troops in Taiwan. And they were very quiet about it. And the only reason we know about it is because there have been a few media reports in non-U.S. media. The Taiwanese media has reported it a few other outlets, but Japanese media outlet Nikkei has reported it. But there’s like a there’s a complete, you know, silence in the U.S. media about these kinds of things. So, I mean, if they’re deploying troops to Taiwan and we barely know about it, imagine Peru. It’s much less strategically important than Taiwan is for the US.
Max Jones: Yeah. Which really highlights the actual role that the Western media serves when something as important as us sending troops to support a government that has been recognized as being by several groups as being inhumane and brutal is unreported.
Ben Norton: And I mean, how often is it mentioned that the U.S. still has hundreds of troops in Syria and in Iraq? It’s never mentioned in Iraq, by the way, the when when Donald Trump ordered the drone strikes in January 2020 that murdered Kassim Soleimani, the top Iranian official, and the top Iraqi military commander, Abu Muhandis. The in response to that, that act of war and aggression against military commanders of both Iran and Iraq. In response to that, the Iraqi parliament had a unanimous vote to expel the U.S. troops, and they’re still there. And that’s never mentioned. There are 100 U.S. troops still in 2023 occupying Iraq and Syria against the will of the central governments.
Max Jones: And the supposed anti-Trump media that hates him, you know, viciously. That’s the only time that they like to write when he did that, which again, also reveals a lot about the way the role that the media serves in the U.S. But. One question I had, and I know this is just speculation that we’re getting into about what the troops are doing in Peru, But when you say they’re there to solidify the regime and that it might, are you implying that it could be possible that it might go a step beyond them training these troops and they might be de facto actual like parts of the military or police force or just or just their presence is solidifying.
Ben Norton: Just their presence and presence. No, I meant no, I’m not like no, I’m not saying that the U.S. military is like physically that U.S. soldiers are in the Peruvian military. However. No. The mere presence of U.S. troops. I mean, so, for instance, like this is this is very common. The U.S. will say, okay, we’re going to send military advisers. That’s how, you know, with mission creep. That’s how Vietnam, the award escalated. Right? It started with a bunch of military advisers, more and more military advisors. And the mere presence is one, it’s for morale. It’s to to make sure that there’s not another coup. By the way, I mean, Bolivar is very unpopular. And ironically, right now, what’s happening in Peru is it’s a power struggle between two factions of the right wing, the, you know, normal right, which is, you know, the oligarchic right represented by people like Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and the fascist. Right, the extreme fascist right of the Fujimori, which are not the same. I mean, they actually have differences. Like I’m not saying that like either of them is good, but like, they actually don’t like each other and there is a possibility. I mean, so what clearly happened is that Peru Art, they made an alliance with the more traditional right wing of like the Kaczynski’s, although recently Boulevard, they had a face to face meeting with the daughter of Alberto Fujimori, who was imprisoned, by the way, for crimes against humanity, Her father, but her his daughter and her brother is in prison for corruption. But his daughter, Keiko Fujimori, is the leader of his fascist party, which is called First Popular. And she has been a presidential candidate and she lost the past three elections. But she was the other candidate against Pedro Castillo and she recently met. There is photos of her meeting with Dina Boulevard, and Boulevard is not allied with the Fujimori stars, but I think that was clearly her trying to make sure they don’t overthrow her clearly boulevard She has a very, very weak grip on power and there is a real possibility that they could just overthrow her with another coup. Right. Like this is how coups always work, like there’s a coup. And then the coup leader is afraid that everyone else is going to do a coup against them. Right. Like in in Sudan right now, this is exactly what’s been going on. There was a military coup and now there are two different military leaders, one who’s the leader of the Sudanese armed forces and one who’s the leader of the Janjaweed, the special forces who are fighting a war against each other. And they were both involved. They were allies in the coup, and now they’re fighting again for state power. So, I mean, if the U.S. were to send troops, it would be the U.S. saying, okay, don’t mess with the current government. We recognize it. It’s our government, don’t overthrow it. And by the way, it’s also just as important to support the mining companies because just as I mean, what are the U.S. troops doing in Syria? They’re literally guarding the oil refineries. There’s video footage of U.S. armored vehicles with the U.S. flag at oil refinery sites, sorry, not oil refineries, oil drilling sites, the oil. So you can see the drilling sites in Syria and you can see the U.S. armored vehicles with the big U.S. flags. They’re literally guarding the oil. Donald Trump boasted in an interview on Fox News with with Laura Ingram. He said, I’ve I kept troops in Syria to take the oil. We take we’ve taken the oil. The oil is ours. We love the oil. He said oil like 50 times.
Max Jones: In the air.
Ben Norton: I mean, they’re literally they’re guarding the oil sites. And then the U.S. backed sources in this US backed forces in the Syrian Democratic forces, the SDF, are exporting that oil. And in a company, a Texas based oil company signed the contract with the SDF to be involved in the oil drilling and the Trump administration approved it. So, I mean, is the U.S. going to send troops to Peru to mining sites to prevent striking workers from sabotaging company equipment? I mean, I don’t know that’s a possibility, but it’s something that there is a precedent if we look at Syria.
Diego Ramos: And I began to write about mining.
Ben Norton: These mining areas in Peru are there in rural. You don’t mine in rich urban areas. You mine in the rural areas, right? These are very poor areas. And most of the workers are poor miners, many of whom are probably sympathetic to Pedro Castillo and who oppose the regime. Right. And so one I mean, they’re already not they’re not going to support the government. And second of all, they’re probably constantly having their rights violated. And like I said, there have been for years, it’s not new. For many years there have been lots of protests and even violent attacks on company managers and equipment in Peru. So, like, if you’re a foreign company that’s investing in Peru, you want your investments to be protected. And if you’re you know, a lot of these capitalists investing in Peru, they don’t care about human rights. They don’t care about the rights of workers. So they would love to have a military, a foreign military presence to to stabilize the mining industry.
Diego Ramos: And not just any of the most powerful in the entire world. So just to wrap up, I’m curious to hear what you think is the future of Latin America with, you know, we mentioned these sympathetic governments to Castillo, like Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia. But and correct me if I’m wrong, I believe Boric in Chile is not. And he’s often aligned with, you know, positions that the U.S. agrees with. So how does that power look like in the region, do you think, in the future, especially now with the, you know, the U.S. troops being deployed and during the rest of the year?
Ben Norton: Yeah. I mean, Boric is one of the most ridiculous hypocrites. I mean, of all of the left wing leaders in the past two decades in the so-called pink tide in Latin America, he’s the most right wing. He’s even more right wing than Michelle Bachelet, who was the previous center left president of Chile before. Well, it was it was her in Chile. And then it was, you know, the billionaire right wing oligarch Pinera, Sebastian Pinera. And now it’s boring. So, I mean, a which is completely ridiculous. And but even even for him, I mean, he still he does recognize Olivares government in Peru, although he actually did recently criticize it because it’s just so blatant the the massacre of protesters. So he criticized the human rights violations. But he has recognized that unlike I mean, President Lopez Obrador, the president of Mexico, which has the second biggest economy in Latin America with the second biggest population, the southern neighbor of the US refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the Peruvian government. That is huge. That is a massive political development. In fact, he just gave a speech in his mining area, the morning press conferences in which Lopez Obrador said that Mexico has frozen commercial relations with Peru in protest. So this is this is a massive rebellion against Washington by the U.S. southern labor. I mean, it’s pretty much unprecedented. I think probably the only other example of this would be back in the 1930s under Lazaro Cardenas, in which he nationalized the oil and railroads that belonged to U.S. companies. But this is toward this is leading up to World War Two. And the U.S. had the good neighbor policy, and they didn’t want to anger Mexico because of the you know, because they were getting ready for World War Two. But anyway, the point is that, like we’re seeing a full scale rebellion in Latin America. And I think this isn’t this isn’t acknowledged enough. And there are weak links in it like border. But I mean, Colombia as well, for the first time ever, has a left wing government. And Pedro has been very impressive. I mean, he actually is one of the most left wing leaders in the region. He’s a very anti-capitalist rhetoric and he’s constantly give speeches talking about how capitalism is destroying the environment. And he also has been trying to push through socialized health care because the health care system in Colombia is atrocious. It’s completely privatized, it’s modeled after the U.S. system. And he’s trying to do a whole just just recreating the health system, basically doing something similar to the kind of Medicare for all and so many other things. I mean, he has a very ambitious program and he actually recently replaced a lot of his more centrist cabinet members. So anyway, the point is that a Gustavo Petro in in Colombia, he has given multiple speeches and interviews in which he said that it was a coup against Pedro Castillo. And he said that it is a threat to all of the other left wing leaders in the region. And he said, look, I was he said this in an interview with La Semana, which is a right wing tabloid in Colombia, which is very anti Pedro, which is linked to, you know, the right wing or revistas that governed for decades. And he said in this interview, he said, look, this coup in Peru is a threat to all progressive forces in Latin America. And he said, I was a child of the the wars in Latin America because he was he was part of an armed guerrilla group, a socialist militia called the the April 14th movement. And and we said, well, Pedro said, when I was a youth, we lost thousands of people to violence, to armed struggle. However, what the oligarchy is now saying is that they refuse to have democracy there. If leftwing leaders come to power, they overthrow them. And I’m afraid we’re going to go back to that era of violence. So he’s basically saying that if we keep having all of these coups, we’re going to go back to the era of armed struggle. That’s what he’s saying. And I mean, this is the leader of Colombia, which is one of the largest countries, one of the largest economies in the region, historically a major U.S. ally. And in terms of the future, I mean, the left is not going anywhere in Latin America. I mean, in Argentina, it’s very weak and the situation is really bad. And I did a video recently explaining the the horrible inflation and the unpayable debt that it owes largely to the IMF, which is controlled by the US and also to BlackRock and other vulture funds and Wall Street. And I think it’s unfortunately likely that in Argentina the left is going to I mean, the left barely even has power now. It’s really the center that has power. But the current president, Alberto Fernandez, who’s a centrist, and his left wing vice president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, they did form an alliance, although the left wing of the alliance was basically pushed out of power. And the center has been governing. But essentially, I think even they’re probably going to lose the election. Alberto Fernandez has said that he’s not going to run in the October election coming up. So. It’s unlikely who’s it’s it’s not even known who the left wing candidate will be from the fact that they told us and it’s likely that the election is going to probably between be between someone like Mauricio Macri, like the right wing or the far right, this fascistic Pinochet guy. However. M.A. So Argentina is probably going to go to the right. Chile is a mess and Chile, if there’s going to be an election. I mean, they just had regional elections and the left was crushed. So they’ll probably go back to the right. But I mean, in most of the other countries in the region, the left is firmly in power and very popular. And Brazil is a game changer. Brazil is the largest country in Latin America. It has a population of 230 million people and growing. By 2050, there are estimates that maybe maybe 2100, but probably 2050. The Brazilian population could be as big as the US population. It depends. I mean, that might be exaggeration, but the point is that Brazil has a massive country, growing population, growing economy. It’s part of the BRICS system and the fact that you have a left wing leader, Lula in Brazil, a left wing leader in Mexico, the second biggest country in economy, and the left is very likely going to win the elections next year in 2024, in Mexico and also Colombia. Venezuela is now reestablishing relations with other countries in the region. The left is firmly in control in Bolivia. The left is is firmly in control in Nicaragua and Honduras. The left is popular and there are elections coming up in Guatemala, and the left is probably going to win in Guatemala unless they can ban the left from running, which is what they’re trying to do. The point is that. I mean, the situation is looking pretty positive for Latin America. And I mean, the futures and regional integration. We just saw that Lula just invited leaders all across South America to Brasilia for a meeting, and he announced that they’re working on creating a new currency for Internet, for regional trade, that they’re working on reviving the Union of South American nations. When I saw. So, I mean, there’s a lot to be optimistic about. And honestly, as although I spent an hour here talking about how horrible the situation is in Peru and also Ecuador, I mean, the right wing in Ecuador is completely destroyed. They’re on the ropes. They’re going to lose the election. It’s very likely in three months that the president elect is going to be Andres House, a socialist who is an economist. He’s brilliant. I’ve interviewed him and he his main goal is to create a currency for Latin America. I mean, like. Latin America is really ascendant and it’s a very exciting moment. So despite all of that, I mean, despite how hard things are in Peru, I think the situation is ultimately going to be something somewhat similar to Bolivia, although different in the sense that in Bolivia there was a coup in November 2019 and the coup could only stay in power for 11 months and it was defeated. Now, the difference in Bolivia is that the left is much more well-organized. In Peru, there is Peru’s like Bolivia, that it has a large, largely indigenous population, which is largely in rural areas and is very militant and left wing. And in terms of the labor struggle, there are a lot of workers who have been protesting and going on strikes in Peru, like in Bolivia. The difference is that in Bolivia, the left was much better organized behind Evo Morales Party, the movement towards socialism in Peru. The left is very divided, although there are other candidates who could potentially run in the election whenever, whenever there’s going to be an election, at some point they have to have one. So the question is how long can the military regime hold on to power in Peru? And it could be Veronika Mendoza, who was the other left wing candidate in Peru in the election, who a lot of people assumed would be the presidential candidate, not Pedro Castillo. So, ironically, if there is an election, the left could come to power again in Peru, and it could actually be stronger now because of how the right discredited itself with this whole coup process. Just as in Bolivia, the right was deeply weakened. Ironically, after 11 months of the regime, it discredited itself and devastated the economy. There is recession and corruption and violence. So, again, I mean, like as pessimistic as things may be sounded in the past hour, there are a lot of reasons to expect that things could be getting better in Latin America, excluding Chile and Argentina. You know.
Diego Ramos: And people can go over.
Max Jones: Yeah, sorry. So I in this World Socialist website article, they made a claim or statement that I think kind of disagrees with the point that you’re making here, Ben. And I was wondering if I could get your opinion on it. They said from, quote, From from Castillo in Peru to the party in Brazil, the government in Chile and elsewhere in the region, the so-called pink tide governments have only paved the way to the rise of the most right wing forces and intensified attacks upon the working class. So they’re kind of implying that the pink tide governments are complete failures. And I think maybe that there’s nothing to be optimistic about. At least that’s what I gather from reading that. So, I mean, you’re pretty you pretty clearly disagree with that, right?
Ben Norton: It’s absurd. It’s preposterous. I mean, what is the World Socialist website? It’s a front for the Socialist Equality Party, which is a Trotskyite core. I mean, they have their like I mean, they to be fair, they sometimes have some good articles against war. And there are so few alternative media outlets in the US that are critical of war and empire that sometimes there are is good reporting in World Socialist website, but they’re extremely sectarian. Trotskyites and no government is ever pure enough for them. They say every left wing government is always a failure and a sellout and they always abandon the working class. And we represent the power of of below, from below of the workers, from below, against a bureaucratic, you know, Stalinist from above, although they have like 20 members in the United States. And they’re completely irrelevant outside of their website. I mean, they said the same thing about Venezuela, the same thing about Nicaragua. They constantly criticize Cuba. I mean, so people get confused because I see socialists in the name and they see that the World Socialist website sometimes criticizes U.S. wars, which again, is good. They have some good coverage, but then they’re also very sectarian. And it’s it’s a ridiculous narrative. No, I mean, I wonder where.
Max Jones: It gets what it Trotskyites believe that makes informed decisions. They’re sorry. Okay. Yeah, Yeah. Hold on. I want to get into it. I mean.
Ben Norton: There are different Trotskyism has always had millions of sex. I mean, like, different, like seats. Definitely not the other form of sex and not having much of that, but a lot of S.A.T.s, a lot of those sex. And because they’re notoriously diverse. Right. They’re constantly criticizing, they’re sectarian. There’s a joke. They say, how do you have two people with three different opinions? You can have two two trots in one room. Right. So anyway, the point is that I mean, I don’t want to get into a long argument of sectarianism, but the point is that trotskyism oh, it goes back to the Soviet Union saying that the Soviet Union was a degenerated worker state and then even the Trotskyists themselves all split. And then there were the shock minutes and there were the the markets and then there were the, you know, I mean, there’s so many like the caliphates who form the international socialist tendency. And then you have the shock ammonites who who became all neocons, whatever. I mean, like it’s the point is that Trots say that basically no existing socialist government is ever pure enough. It’s always bureaucratic, it’s a generated worker’s state, it’s Stalinist, it’s authoritarian. And we need we represent the real working class. And the point is that they’re sectarian and they always criticize the left when it’s actually in power. And obviously, that’s not to say that some of these governments are beyond criticism. For instance, Bordiga is not a left wing leader board which has not implemented left wing policies, and he’s not allied with the left in Latin America. I mean, he constantly is making common cause with the right wing in Latin America and criticizing the left wing in Latin America. But if you look at the left across Latin America, I mean, out of any region in the entire world, the left is the most powerful in Latin America and the most effective. And yes, okay, they’re not they’re not abolishing capitalism overnight. As if you could do that. This is just like ridiculous textbook discussions. It’s nonsense. It’s it’s actually deeply bourgeois. They are investing significantly in domestic production. Brazil understands that if they want to challenge imperialism, they have to develop their own local economy. Lula is talking about re industrializing Brazil. He’s talking about ending poverty, ending hunger. He’s talking about creating a new currency for Latin American trade to get off the dependance on the US dollar. In Colombia, the new economic minister is talking about developing industry in Colombia and also developing new forms of industry for renewable energy to get off being a petro state. I mean, the point is that there is so much revolutionary potential all across Latin America. I mean, not to mention, obviously, you know, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, which are the most obvious examples of revolutionary governments. But even in Ecuador, I mentioned the left is very likely going to come into power in a few months. And the presidential candidate, André Strauss, is a socialist who wants to create. He has so many brilliant ideas for Latin America about ways to develop regional industry in Latin America so Latin America can have its own develop its own technology and airlines and phones. I mean, like the idea that Latin America’s always going to be a region of the world that simply exports raw materials and agricultural products. It exports oil and lithium and copper and doesn’t have any heavy manufacturing and any high value added manufacturing. It’s ridiculous. This is how this is exactly what neocolonialism is. Imperial powers want countries in the global South to be economically dependent on high value added technology produced in the Imperial Court and exported to the imperial, the periphery of the world system. And then they want to. They want the world at the periphery in the global South to export raw materials and low value added commodities like T-shirts to the Global South. Therefore, they state the excuse me, to the global north, export that to the global north. Therefore, the low value added products that are very labor intensive as opposed to capital intensive drains, the surplus value of the workers in the global south toward the core in the United States, in Europe, in Canada. This is a system of neocolonialism and the only way to get out of that is exactly the kind of import substitution industrialization programs that the Workers Party in Brazil is implementing. How are you supposed to just implement socialism overnight by just what? What are you going to do? Like, you’re going to you’re going to nationalize all of your industry, which consists of oil and consists of textile production. Okay. So where are you going to get all of your heavy manufacturing? We’re you going to get all your capital goods. Where are you going to get your phones and TVs and any other technology? You have to import those products. Where are you going to get those products from? You have to get access to foreign currency. There is no way to industrialize doing that. These people live in a fantasy world. And exactly what the left in Latin America is doing is the way to do it. That’s how you get out of these decades, the centuries of colonialism and neo colonialism. So I’m just tired of these people in the global North lecturing the Latin American left for never being pure enough because we didn’t come to power. And on day two, he didn’t announce that all rich people in Peru had their wealth confiscated. That’s not how economies work. It’s childish.
Diego Ramos: Okay. And people can keep up with what’s going on in Latin America. Through your reporting at the Geopolitical Economy report, Geopolitical Economy.com by Norton. Thank you so much for joining us on a journalist for sale. We really appreciate you coming on and and giving us your wisdom.
Max Jones: Yeah. Thank you.
Ben Norton: My pleasure. Thanks for having me. Thanks for letting me rant.
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Diego Ramos, ScheerPost managing editor and New York bureau chief, is a journalist from Queens, NY. He graduated from the University of Southern California in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He has previously worked at BuzzFeed News and was managing editor of Annenberg News at USC. He’s covered and researched myriad topics including war, politics, psychedelic research and sports.