Covid Imperialism, Crypto Colonialism, and the Real “Great Reset”

In 2019, as the stock market apporached a collapse which would have trumped 2008, central bankers met in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Four BlackRock executives, led by former Swiss National Bank head Philipp Hildebrand, argued that it was time for the Federal Reserve “to abandon its long-vaunted independence and join monetary policy (the usual province of the central bank) with fiscal policy (the usual province of the legislature). They proposed that the central bank maintain a ‘Standing Emergency Fiscal Facility’ that would be activated when interest rate manipulation was no longer working to avoid deflation. The Facility would be deployed by an ‘independent expert’ appointed by the central bank.” Just a few months later, the COVID-19 pandemic (origins still unclear by the way) swept the globe, and BlackRock got its wish. As Ellen Brown writes:

“In March 2020, [BlackRock] was awarded a no-bid contract under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to deploy a $454 billion slush fund established by the Treasury in partnership with the Federal Reserve. This fund in turn could be leveraged to provide over $4 trillion in Federal Reserve credit…BlackRock suddenly emerged from the shadows to become the “fourth branch of government,” managing the controls to the central bank’s print-on-demand fiat money…

…The national lockdown left states, cities and local businesses in desperate need of federal government aid. But according to David Dayen in The American Prospect, as of May 30…the only purchases made under the Fed’s new BlackRock-administered SPVs were ETFs, mainly owned by BlackRock itself. Between May 14 and May 20, about $1.58 billion in ETFs were bought through the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF), of which $746 million or about 47% came from BlackRock ETFs. The Fed continued to buy more ETFs after May 20, and investors piled in behind, resulting in huge inflows into BlackRock’s corporate bond ETFs.

In fact, these ETFs needed a bailout; and BlackRock used its very favorable position with the government to get one…It might be argued that this bailout was good and necessary, since the market was saved from a disastrous “doom loop,” and so were the pension funds and the savings of millions of investors. Although BlackRock has a controlling interest in all the major corporations in the S&P 500, it professes not to “own” the funds. It just acts as a kind of “custodian” for its investors — or so it claims. But BlackRock and the other Big 3 ETFs vote the corporations’ shares; so from the point of view of management, they are the owners.”

This was part of a massive “upward transfer of wealth” that amounted not only to a bailout of the bourgeoisie but a great swelling of their fortunes. 5.2 million people became millionaires between 2020-2021, causing millionaires to account for 1% of the world’s population for the first time in history. This took place mostly in Western countries: “The US accounted for nearly a third of the world’s 5.2 million new millionaires last year, adding 1.7 million to the country’s total, now at 22 million. Germany followed behind, adding another 633,000 millionaires. The UK – sixth in the rankings of those countries minting the most new rich – added 258,000 millionaires, so that the country now has 2.5 million individuals with assets worth more than $1m.” An additional 41,420 adults joined the group of “ultra high net worth individuals” who have each collected assets worth more than $50m. “That represented a 24% jump from 2019, is the fastest annual rate of growth in 17 years, and brings the total number of super-rich individuals to 215,030.” According to Oxfam International, “The world’s ten richest men more than doubled their fortunes from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion —at a rate of $15,000 per second or $1.3 billion a day— during the first two years of a pandemic that has seen the incomes of 99 percent of humanity fall and over 160 million more people forced into poverty.” To put that into perspective, “If these ten men were to lose 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of all the people on this planet…They now have six times more wealth than the poorest 3.1 billion people.” 

While I am not personally a believer in the official story (which doesn’t even really exist) of COVID’s origins, I also don’t see a reason why the American imperialists would simply lie about its very existence, as some on the “conspiratorial” Left have insisted. We’re talking about the same fascists who, just since the start of this century, laid waste to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya with help from their friends in Saudi Arabia and Israel. And as the World Health Organization admitted, once COVID was unleashed on the Earth, “developing nations bore the brunt of the devastation, with nearly eight million more people than expected dying in lower-middle-income nations during the pandemic.” 

It isn’t just COVID that is killing people in the periphery. Managing other diseases which disproportionately affect these nations became far more difficult once coronavirus and quaratines imposed to combat it became “the new normal.” One year of COVID led to a reversal of “12 years of global progress against tuberculosis” causing a “25% decrease in diagnosis and treatment around the world.” At the same time, “over 40% of HIV testing services were disrupted globally.” In Africa, excess malaria deaths caused by COVID-related complications “dwarfed” COVID deaths themselves. The first wave of COVD-19 also stopped people from going to the doctor in the first place. A study analyzing 32 countries across Africa and Asia found that prenatal care visits dropped by two-thirds between April and September 2020, while consultations for children under five dropped by three-quarters. And while the governments of the wealthier Western nations could afford to fund schemes like BlackRock’s self-bailout and pump out trillions of dollars in “stimulus money” that was either hoovered up by monopoly capital and the petit-bourgeois under the guise of “small business relief”(which often did not work as intended) or went towards speculations on the stock market (contributing to the current crash), nations in the periphery were forced to explode their debt levels by a record $860 billion to fund relief efforts that often did little to mitigate COVID’s immiseration. As the World Bank reports:

Even prior to the pandemic, many low- and middle-income countries were in a vulnerable position, with slowing economic growth and public and external debt at elevated levels. External debt stocks of low- and middle-income countries combined rose 5.3% in 2020 to $8.7 trillion…Overall, in 2020, net inflows from multilateral creditors to low- and middle-income countries rose to $117 billion, the highest level in a decade. Net debt inflows of external public debt to low-income countries rose 25% to $71 billion, also the highest level in a decade.  Multilateral creditors, including the IMF, provided $42 billion in net inflows while bilateral creditors accounted for an additional $10 billion.” 

Meanwhile, a study conducted across Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, Nepal, the Philippines, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone reported “drops in employment, income, and access to markets and services, translating into high levels of food insecurity.” One of the study’s co-authors, Mushfiq Mobarak, pointed out  that “COVID-19 and its economic shock present a stark threat to residents of low- and middle-income countries — where most of the world’s population resides — which lack the social safety nets that exist in rich countries.” Franziska Ohnsorge, co-author of a World Bank report on global growth, told France 24 that when it comes to the COVID recoveries of “developed” vs “developing” nations “it’s almost as if the two groups are on different flight paths.” 

In a preview of the “flight path” the “developing world” is on, let’s look at the Crypto-Regime of El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele. Bukele, who labeled himself “the ‘world’s coolest dictator” to little fanfare from the supposedly “anti-authoritarian” Western media, quickly built up a public relations persona as a “troll”, using social media in a way not unlike Donald Trump. He has also presented himself as a radical-centrist and populist through rhetoric that echoes the 2020 Presidential campaign of Andrew Yang.

“The two groups that created the war still want to keep governing, and what’s more, they’re corrupt,” Bukele told Germany’s Deutsche Welle after his election in 2019. He is referring to is the Salvadoran Civil War. As Allan Nair detailed, between 1960 and the start of the civl war in the early 1980s, the US government meddled heavily in El Savlador’s affairs, creating “ORDEN, the rural paramilitary and intelligence network described by Amnesty International as a movement designed ‘to use clandestine terror against government opponents.’” American imperialism also birthed “ANSESAL, the elite presidential intelligence service that gathered files on Salvadoran dissidents and, in the words of one US official, relied on Death Squads as ‘the operative arm of intelligence gathering.’” General Jose Alberto Medrano, the founder of ORDEN and ANSESAL, was subsequently enlisted as a CIA agent. The US trained the leaders of ORDEN “in surveillance techniques and use of automatic weapons, and carried some of these leaders on the CIA payroll.” According to Nair:

“When a reformist junta briefly came to power in El Salvador in 1979, it abolished ORDEN and ANSESAL and condemned the organizations for committing human rights abuses. Since then the Salvadoran military have continued to maintain and expand their surveillance and record-keeping activities. And as in the 1960’s and 1970’s, when US agents and technicians invented and oiled the intelligence machine, US personnel remain at the center of the system.

According to a Salvadoran colonel involved in the process, the United States routinely receives copies of all major political surveillance reports compiled by Salvadoran security officers. In turn, US officials provide the security forces with information. Colonel Carranza confirmed this relationship…

…When the Reagan Administration launched a publicity campaign against the Death Squads last December, it pointed a finger at individual officers, leaking their names to the press and demanding their removal. Three of those officers were the directors of the intelligence departments of the Treasury Police, the National Guard, and the National Police.

Asked why the Administration chose to blame those specific individuals while leaving the institutions untouched, the US official in San Salvador responded: “Things generated in Washington create certain necessities that don’t necessarily reflect the true problems here, but are done for political purposes up there, and this is a good example.” The official, heavily involved in the publicity campaign, considered it a success.”

A detailed history of America’s neo-colonial involvement in the Salvadoran Civil War is beyond the scope of this essay, but suffice to say it played an key role in El Salvdor’s ongoing “deterioration.” Over a 12 year period, at least 75,000 Salvadorian civilians were killed, with most of these deaths stemming from US-backed government forces and the Death Squads they supported. As one guerilla put it, “The Army wanted to exterminate the thinking and the idea of our rights in El Salvador. You exterminate the idea by exterminating the people, the women, the children, everyone. Especially the children because you kill the idea by preventing the growth of the idea. You kill the root to prevent change.” 

Daniel Alvarenga details how Salvador changed in the ruins of the civil war:

“One of the biggest marks USAID left on El Salvador is the co-founding of FUSADES (the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development) in 1983 in the midst of the civil war. FUSADES is a right-wing think tank that heavily collaborated with the far-right ARENA (Nationalist Republican Alliance) party during the war and in the subsequent two decades…

…In the post-war era, El Salvador privatized the public bank, as well as the telecommunications and energy sectors. Then, in 2001, El Salvador completely adopted the U.S. dollar, handing the country’s financial reins over to the federal reserve in Washington, D.C. A few years later, in 2005, the country was integrated into the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States. Further interlinking the two economies were the millions of Salvadorans who migrated to the United States due to economic hardship and violence.”

Despite Bukele presenting his administration as “populist” he is anything but a political outsider or a champion of “the people.” After getting kicked out of the then-ruling Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) for allegedly assaulting a female party official, Bukele, a former advertising executive, joined the Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA) whose founding members came from the aforementioned Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). Furthermore, Bukele’s rise to power took place during an election in which nearly 50% of eligible Salvadoran voters abstained. It’s even possible that Bukele was appointed in response to the FMLN government’s friendlier relationship with China. For example, in exchange for breaking ties with Taiwan and recognizing Beijing as the official capitol of China, FLMN received $150 million and a donation of 3,000 tons of rice from the Chinese Communist Party. Likewise, during the Trump administration’s 2019 attempt to oust Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro on behalf of the neoliberal reactionary Juan Guaido, the FMLN took the side of the Chavistas.

In America, Bukele is best known for establishing Bitcoin as Salvadoran legal tender alongside the US dollar. Cryptobros like to portray this as an attempt by a “based” technocrat unpersuaded by “ideology” to get his nation off of fiat currency and away from the control of central banks. This narrative is a total inversion of the truth; In 2020 Bukele sent 40 soldiers into the Legislative Assembly building and forced opposition politicians at gunpoint to approve a loan request of $109 million from the American government for his “Territorial Control Plan.This plan, using COVID-19 as a pretext, deployed thousands of military personnel to work alongside local police in establishing martial law throughout El Salvador. Bukele’s government insists this led not only to a successful quarantine but a significant reduction in homicides by organized crime. However, the Territorial Control Plan relies on alliances with Salvador’s gangs, as a report by El Faro exposed. “The pandemic was a blessing for Bukele,” Carlos López Bernal, a professor of history at the University of El Salvador, told The Guardian. “He presented an apocalyptic scenario to which the only solution, supposedly, was to give the president everything he asked for. More money and more power.”

In 2021, Bukele’s party “won” a supermajority in El Salvador’s congress, supposedly with 65% of the vote. He then fired five Salvadoran Supreme Court Justices and the attorney general before the Legislative Assembly voted to accept Bitcoin as legal tender. This decision was influenced by Bukele’s close relationship to Strike CEO Jack Mallers, the descendant of Chicago finance royalty and a member of Forbes 30 under 30. According to Slate: “Bukele’s government rolled out a digital crypto wallet in app form, called Chivo (Salvadoran slang for cool), which came preloaded with $30 of Bitcoin to encourage adoption. Many who downloaded it found it confusing and buggy, or that their $30 had already been stolen by identity thieves. A study by economists at the University of Chicago, Penn State and Yale found that of those who managed to access it, most cashed out their $30 and didn’t use Chivo again.”

Towards the start of May, cryptocurrency experienced its worst crash yet. This ongoing crash has already wiped out $400 billion in market capitalization and bankrupted innumerable investors. As Slate notes, “El Salvador is on the verge of defaulting on its debts, which amount to close to 100 percent of its gross domestic product. This is exacerbated by the loss of value of the country’s Bitcoin holdings, which Bukele bragged he would trade with public funds on his phone while in the bathroom. As of now, he has personally cost the Treasury about $40 million—an amount equal to its next foreign debt payment, due to bondholders in June.”

Just before the epic crypto crash, Bukele unveiled plans for a city, “funded by the sale of a Bitcoin bond and powered by geothermal energy from the nearby Conchagua volcano.” Now, the country’s bonds are trading at 40% of their original value. But like any good con artist, cult leader, or multi-level marketing guru, Bukele has doubled down on his Bitcoin “gamble.” In the midst of the crypto crash, El Salvador hosted a “financial inclusion conference” attended by “44 central bankers from developing countries around the world.” This conference was organized by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, formed in 2008 by central bankers in Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand in “close collaboration” with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2013, Bill Gates spoke at a meeting hosted by the United Nations General Assembly to tout the merits of “digital financial inclusion” via digital payment systems. The invite reads:

“Today 2.5 billion adults are excluded from the formal financial services sector. Yet governments, the development community and the private sector make billions of dollars in cash payments to people in emerging economies, many of them poor and financially excluded. Shifting these salaries, pensions, social welfare stipends and emergency relief payments from cash to electronic has the potential to improve the livelihoods of low-income people by advancing financial inclusion and helping people save.

During the upcoming United Nations General Assembly, UNDP, UNCDF and the Better Than Cash Alliance are hosting an event on how partnerships between governments, private sector and development organizations are helping to promote inclusive growth. It will focus on how digital payments can catalyze financial inclusion, and as a result, can be a driver of inclusive growth and development.”

In January 2021 the Bank of International Settlements issued a report stating, “Most central banks are exploring central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), and their work continues apace amid the Covid-19 pandemic. As a whole, central banks are moving into more advanced stages of CBDC engagement, progressing from conceptual research to practical experimentation.” Since 2017, “the share of central banks actively engaging in some form of CBDC work grew by about one third and now stands at 86%.” The BIS report found that 56 central banks are now researching or developing some form of digital currency. 

During the early stages of the pandemic in 2020 programmers well versed in COBOL, a 40 year old programming language, were in high demand. This demand mainly came from state governments, who still use COBOL to dispense unemployment benefits. “Literally, we have systems that are 40-plus-years-old,” New Jersey governor Chris Murphy told CNBC. “There’ll be lots of postmortems. and one of them on our list will be, how did we get here where we literally needed COBOL programmers?” Murphy’s concerns were echoed by Kansas governor Laura Kelly: “So many of our Departments of Labor across the country are still on the COBOL system; you know very, very old technology.” Connecticut, California, New York, and Pennsylvania “still rely on decades-old mainframe systems based on the COBOL language as well.”

If all of this still sounds banal or benign to you, consider the following:

PRISM, the massive NSA surveillance machine “exposed” by Islamaphobic Ayn Rand fanboy and descendant of numerous lifelong feds Edward Snowden, is the direct descendant of PROMIS, a tracking software developed by a “former” NSA fed working in the private sector through his firm Inslaw. Inslaw originally developed PROMIS to help the Department of Justice and local law enforcement agencies across America “update” their prehistoric filing systems in the mid-1980s. PROMIS was later stolen by Mossad spies and infamously distributed by Robert Maxwell, father of Ghislaine Maxwell, before making its way back to its homeland. In the meantime, the same NSA that was building PRISM and had produced PROMIS was working on the hash algorithm that made Bitcoin possible. 

Crypto Colonizers

In 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria. This storm laid waste to the island just three months after its government declared bankruptcy as a result of its massive debt, much of which is owned by just two US hedge funds. Five years earlier, the government turned Puerto Rico into a tax haven for wealthy Westerners, one of which was former child star and Bitcoin Foundation founder, Brock Pierce.

 In 2011, Pierce, who was a friend and business partner of several men involved in an “alleged” child abuse ring in Hollywood, attended a conference hosted by Jeffrey Epstein. Topics discussed included artificial intelligence, evolutionary biology, cognitive neuroscience, encryption/decryption, and “new financial systems and methods.” Epstein counted among his many rich and famous friends Donald Trump, whose good friend and advisor, Steve Bannon, was hired by Pierce’s Internet Gaming Entertainment company to “land venture capital” in the mid 2000s. Bannon’s former employer, Goldman Sachs, made a $60 million investment into Pierce’s company and the future owner of Breitbart News was given a seat on its board of directors. Pierce moved to Puerto Rico during an influx of cryptobro colonization of the island, a phenomena “driven by a flood of initial coin offerings, or ICOs, in which investors pumped money into often speculative projects in exchange for tokens.” When cryto crashed bigtime in 2018, many of these new colonists either went silent or left Puerto Rico altogether. However: “The coronavirus pandemic brought a crypto thaw in Puerto Rico. Stuck in their homes, out of work and looking for ways to make money, some islanders turned to social media and found Spanish-language instructors explaining how to invest. NFTs became popular as tokens inside blockchain games or as online avatars — like skins in the video game ‘Fortnite’ — making crypto concepts more accessible.”

According to an article in the MIT Technology Review:

Recent news reports suggest that soaring real estate prices constitute crypto’s major impact on Puerto Rico to date. Grand promises to rebuild the island’s economy on the blockchain have fallen by the wayside. Today, mugshots of cryptocurrency investors including Pierce decorate Puerto Rico’s capital city, captioned ‘This is what our colonizers look like.’

Undeterred, Pierce is eager to replicate the Puerto Rico experiment elsewhere. Bitcoin Foundation delegates have met with representatives from El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Ecuador, and Guatemala in the past year. (The Bitcoin Foundation and Pierce didn’t respond to interview requests.)”

In 2011, the same year Pierce attended Jeffrey Epstein’s conference, Bill Gates began meeting Epstein “on numerous occasions — including at least three times at Mr. Epstein’s palatial Manhattan townhouse, and at least once staying late into the nightemployees of Mr. Gates’s foundation also paid multiple visits to Mr. Epstein’s mansion. And Mr. Epstein spoke with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase about a proposed multibillion-dollar charitable fund — an arrangement that had the potential to generate enormous fees for Mr. Epstein.”


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