US Sanctions Shut Down ‘The Empire Files’ with Abby Martin
For immediate release - Aug 21, 2018
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As a result of the latest US sanctions against Venezuela, The Empire Files has been forced to completely shut down
The Empire Files, which airs on TeleSUR throughout Latin America and on Free Speech TV in the United States, has been
funded through a contract with the TeleSUR network. As Abby Martin’s broadcast, it has released over 100 documentaries,
interviews and on-the-ground exposes from battlefields in Palestine, Colombia, Venezuela, and beyond.
The Jimmy Dore Show
interviews the Empire Files'
Abby Martin on August 28
As a result of financial attacks by the US government on the primary source of TeleSUR’s funding, production was halted
before the conclusion of Empire Files Season 2.
A third season, consisting of 26 episodes, was set to begin on July 1. But with the US government blocking all wire
transfers that originate in Venezuela, the ability to receive funding has been sporadic and often delayed.
For over a year, The Empire Files has been operating by alternating between waiting for late payments and funding
However, with US attacks and sanctions intensifying, the ability to receive funds appears to have been cut-off
completely. Contract TeleSUR journalists around the world, including at Empire Files, have had funding blocked by the US
government for over six months. Even wire transfers not originating Venezuela, but ally countries which also fund
TeleSUR, have been severed.
There appears to be no solution, and no end in sight, to this ongoing financial attack.
The Empire Files officially halted all production on May 27, and had to remove all staff prior to that. But we have been
holding-off on an official announcement in hopes that the wall put in place by the Trump Administration would be
We are making this announcement now because, after numerous attempts and constant rejections of all types of funding
transfers, we do not believe this barrier will be removed in the near future.
The Depth of US Attacks
The US State Department has been involved in regime-change projects in Venezuela since the election of late President
Hugo Chavez, first expressed by a violent coup in 2002. During that coup, Venezuela’s state media and pro-government
media was shut-down by the US-backed junta. Yet economic sanctions on Venezuela were not implemented until the Obama
Administration, in 2015.
However, the Trump Administration has taken these sanctions to new heights. The most recent escalation came on May 21,
2018, the day after President Maduro democratically won reelection--apparently to punish the Venezuelan people for
electing the “wrong” candidate.
Today, the US sanctions on Venezuela are the worst sanctions on any country in the region since those against Nicaragua in the 1980s, according to Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, when the Reagan Administration was waging a
full-blown Contra war against the Nicaraguan people. Similarly today, it is Venezuela’s poor and working class who are,
by design, suffering most from the sanctions
These economic attacks cannot be viewed on their own, but part-in-parcel of a regime-change operation--while this is
just one front in the US strategy, the sanctions are coupled with violent US-backed coup attempts in Venezuela,
including the August 4 assassination attempt on President Maduro.
TeleSUR has always been included as a target for its association with the government. A thwarted US-backed coup attempt
in 2015 included plans to bomb the TeleSUR news building in Caracas. In 2017 a TeleSURnews team was ambushed by
US-backed opposition forces and nearly lynched--one TeleSUR reporter was shot in the back during the assault.
Likewise, Abby Martin and Empire Files producer Mike Prysner were the target of pro-coup politicians and journalists,
receiving hundreds of death threats, and causing them to flee Venezuela where they were conducting on-the-ground
In addition, TeleSUR--along with the other main left-wing news source on Venezuela, Venezuela Analysis--were recently
targets of online censorship. Already hit with “warnings” and “sensitive content” bans on YouTube and Twitter, their
pages were recently deleted, although later reinstated, by Facebook. Facebook is currently collaborating with the
Atlantic Council--stacked with CIA agents, Iraq war architects, Big Oil and the weapons industry--to decide which media
outlets “sow discord.”
With only rhetoric of increased aggression coming from the Trump Administration, including threats of all-out US
military bombing and invasion, there is no reason to think this multi-pronged attack will subside.
The Future of The Empire Files
The entire Empire Files team--which has included a variety of dedicated videographers, editors, animators, graphic
designers, composers, audio engineers, writers, researchers and more--have spent nearly 3 years doing dedicated,
rigorous, and sometimes life-threatening work to deliver a high-quality, politically important show once a week.
From the hidden casualties on the US-Mexico border, to environmental disasters in the endangered rainforest, to the
most-viewed reporting on the crisis in Venezuela--interviews with President Rafael Correa, Cornel West, Noam Chomsky,
Ahed Tamimi and other important figures--profiles of often-unheard voices of migrant domestic workers, young
revolutionary activists, immigrant children, hurricane victims and more--to in-depth educational documentaries on
socialism, the crimes of the US Empire, and histories and crises hidden by the mainstream media--The Empire Files has
been extremely proud to make this small contribution to a broader movement for change.
But we do not intend to stop this project as long as there are possibilities to continue.
We are prepared to resume production of weekly programs for TeleSURas soon as blocks on funding are lifted--however,
this could mean six months, a year, or never. We know our colleagues at TeleSUR have been fighting for a solution for us
and other contractors, and will continue to do so.
In the meantime, we are appealing to our supporters for donations to restart production and release new episodes for as
long as funding permits.
Unreleased Work From Gaza and Colombia
In the immediate term, we hope to raise enough funds to complete post-production on unreleased footage we currently
Most importantly, this includes urgent footage and interviews captured by Empire Files journalists in Palestine’s
besieged Gaza Strip. This includes footage of the Great March of Return, video of never-before-seen brutality by Israeli
forces against unarmed protesters at the border fence, interviews with family of slain medic Razan al-Najjar and wounded
medical workers; and much more.
In addition, we have hours of unreleased footage of Abby Martin on-the-ground in Colombia’s “peace zones,” featuring
interviews with FARC leaders and members, and a rare first-hand look at the countries historic peace process as it hangs
in the balance after the victory of the far right in the Presidential election.
If we raise enough money to cover the cost of releasing all of this important content over a span of several episodes,
we can then dedicate funds to new filming and production that is not subject to attacks by the Pentagon. This includes
documentaries on everything from Trump’s war machine, to the hidden repression of environmental activists.
We ask for your support exposing the crimes of the US Empire at this critical time, as well as your solidarity with
TeleSUR and Venezuela’s right to self-determination.
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