The Iran Dilemma – The Tyrant Has Spoken The tyrant, of course, is Donald Trump. He launched tirade after tirade, and keeps launching them, insult after insult, lies after lies after miserable lies at the Government of Iran|
Since it is now difficult for Mr. Trump or any of his handlers to pretend that Iran has failed the agreement, Trump has changed his language. He, and some of his most ridiculous stooges say now that Iran is infringing on the “spirit” of the agreement, as if Trump even knew what spirit and spirituality means.
He, the tyrant, keeps insulting and hammering down on the Government of Iran all the same – spreading lies which even Iran’s enemies know are lies: Iran is spreading and funding terrorism in the region, and the world, they are[military] threat to the region – and they are even a ‘National Security Threat’ – 12,000 km away from Washington. Imagine, one of the most peaceful countries in the world. The only National Security Threat to virtually ALL the nations of the globe, minus Israel, is the only rogue state we know – the United States of America.
Iran is beyond sanctions. Iran is already part of the new economic system – the one emanating from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by China and Russia, and detached from the dollar hegemony. Therefore, slandering Iran, threatening Iran with war and sanctions or both, is one big bluff – and Trump, Netanyahu’s puddle, believe the world will go for it.
Both countries are trading with the world since quite a while outside of the fiat dollar system, using instead yuans and rubles convertible into gold. That’s the new currency standard offered to the world. The west can take it or leave it.. It’s like jumping on the fast train that has already left the Shanghai station, racing through Eurasia towards Europe, called the OBI – the One Belt Initiative, President Xi’s answer to the western economy of fraud, that will lay the tracks for a new and peaceful economy, possibly for the next few hundred years.
I have said it many times before, and will keep repeating it, the future is in the east; the west is passé. It is committing suicide, greed, war and lie-driven auto-destruction. Iran, India, Pakistan are already members of the SCO, others, including NATO Turkey, are vying to join and be no longer vulnerable to US imposed sanctions and sledgehammer policies.
Even far-away Venezuela has decided to trade her hydrocarbon resources with China in gold-convertible yuans. Hence, Venezuela is detaching herself from the dollar economy, freeing herself from the financial and economic shackles of Wall street, the FED and the Bretton Woods Institutions. Venezuela is a beacon illuminating a new economy for South America, as well as an example of a solid democracy, as demonstrated by this past weekend’s regional fully transparent elections to elect governors and state legislators – a new path to follow by other Latin American countries, who are still enslaved and trampled by the dictate of Washington.
Latest Venezuelan Opposition Coup Attempt Against Maduro Linked to DEA, CIA part of an attempted coup supported by the U.S. as it seeks to topple Venezuela’s government to gain access to its massive oil reserves.
June 30, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - CARACAS– Opposition efforts to topple Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government are rapidly heating up, as months upon months of opposition protests have failed to make the inroads desired by the more extremist elements of the opposition and their foreign backers, particularly the United States.
With the current regime still hanging on to power despite years of economic sabotage and the funneling of millions from the U.S. to right-wing Venezuelan opposition parties, those determined to see Maduro removed from power have now turned to more drastic, violent measures in order to spark a coup.
Venezuela – Confronting the Propaganda Media Machine By Peter Koenig [an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 4th Media (China), TeleSUR, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites.] June 10, 2017 "Information Clearing House
On 8 of June, I had the privilege to attend a press conference hosted by the Venezuelan Ambassador in Bern, Switzerland. The purpose of the press conference was to clarify the current highly misrepresented situation in Venezuela, as well as explaining the process of electing a new National Constitutional Assembly (Asamblea Nacional Constituyente – ANC) on July 30, 2017.
In his hour-long presentation, the Ambassador introduced the issues at stake by explaining that Venezuela today has the largest known oil reserves in the world and the fourth largest deposits of gas; that the US is importing 60% of its lush energy use (a distant first of the globe’s per capita energy users), mostly from the Middle East, where it is subject to long and costly transport (40-45 days), and to many risk factors, including the Gulf of Hormuz, controlled by Iran, where today about one third of all the world’s petrol must pass through.
By contrast, shipments of petroleum from Venezuela across the Caribbean to the refineries in Texas takes only 4-5 days.
This is the main reason why Venezuela is in the White House’s crosshairs, plus, of course, the fact that for Washington it is totally intolerable to have a sovereign socialist Republic in its ‘backyard’ – and so close, the same syndrome applies also for Cuba, a genuinely successful socialist nation, having survived almost sixty years of atrocious and criminal American strangulation.
There is no tolerance for sovereign independent countries that do not bend to the dictate of the United States and her behind the scene handlers.
The fact that the opposition is planning to boycott the election shows clearly, they are not interested in democracy. They have one goal only, to oust President Maduro and take power, privatize state assets, especially hydrocarbons (petroleum and gas) to hand them to international mainly US corporations to be exploited at no benefits for the Venezuelan people.
This was precisely the case before President Chavez took the reins of the country. Foreign corporations, almost all North Americans, left not a dollar in tax revenues in Venezuela.
Venezuela today is arguably the only true democracy in the western world, as said on numerous occasions by Professor Noam Chomsky, MIT.
To counter the neoliberal mainstream media’s (MSM) demonization of the Bolivarian Revolution and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and her President Nicolas Maduro, the Ambassador showed various videos demonstrating that the instigators of violence were clearly the armed opposition. They are constituted and led by a rich elite and supported ideologically and financially from outside.
Among different foreign sources of support and funding, most of them American, is the infamous National Endowment for Democracy – NED, a so called “fake” NGO “think-tank” (sic), receiving from the US State Department hundreds of millions of dollars per year to ’spread democracy’ American style around the globe, i.e. training local rebel groups abroad and within the targeted country to provoke instability through unrest and violence; distribute anti-government propaganda, infiltrate the media, universities and so on. They are the same who were responsible for the so-called Arab Spring and the Color Revolutions in former Soviet Republics, including Ukraine.
The facts explained and demonstrated by the Ambassador showed clearly who was responsible for most of the 67 deaths and more than 1,200 injured within the last couple of months.
This is all supported by unmistakable videos, showing government supporters, who are despite what the western media are saying, the vast majority – between 70% and 80%, demonstrating peacefully and unarmed.
However, western media twists and manipulates the truth to become anti-Venezuela propaganda, including video clips presented out of context, or outright falsified, blame the aggression on the government supporters, accusing authorities and police of oppressing civil liberties, of dictatorship, of killing its own people.
The western MSM do not show the weaponized right-wing opposition attacking police with explosives, putting police cars on fire and throwing Molotov cocktails and more sophisticated explosives at police and authorities.
This point of opposition violence, blackmail and more, is clearly demonstrated by a recent US journalist covering the riots for the pan-Latin American TeleSur TV. Ms. Abby Martin, the host of the Empire Files, an investigative program, told RT (Russia Today) that she received numerous death threats from opposition fighters during her work on the ground in Venezuela. She says protesters threatened to lynch and burn her alive if she tried to contradict their narrative (https://www.rt.com/news/391338-us-journalist-venezuela-threats/). This is to be taken seriously, because several journalists have already been murdered by the opposition.
... bought agents of the Anglo-Zionist network that controls 90% of the news throughout the western world.
Venezuela Ablaze By Robert Hunziker [UK progressive] April 28, 2017 "Information Clearing House" "Counterpunch"
From coast-to-coast, American media claims Maduro is a horrible despicable dictatorial creepy monster that flogs his own people and stifles democracy, same as all tyrants throughout history.
But, is that really the truth?
After all, the United States has such a horrible fouled reputation of dastardly influence south of the border, whom to believe? For decades the CIA planted news stories and assassinated leaders and manipulated economies to benefit aristocratic landed interests over the interests of “the people” (Proof: John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Penguin Group, 2004).
South America is a training ground for the CIA ever since Allen Dulles dreamed up the idea in the 1950s (Dulles likely ordered JFK’s assassination – Read: David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, HarperCollins Publishers, 2016).
So, 44 years after the United States sponsored a bloody coup in Chile, and also intervened, including death squads and caches of armaments, in countless countries south of the border, the big mondo question is whether it’s happening again in Venezuela. After all, ever since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, the United States has furtively claimed protectorship over every inch of ground south of the border.
Reuters, The New York Times, The Washington Post, World News Tonight, wherever a breaking story of Venezuela appears nowadays, it’s bloodshed, protests, no food, people starving, and worse… Venezuela ablaze! President Maduro is reviled time and again as a brute.
On the other hand, that’s strange in the face of the principles of Chavismo, established by Hugo Chávez, including nationalization, social welfare programs for all citizens, and opposition to neoliberalism, especially policies of the IMF and World Bank.
Chavismo promotes participatory democracy and workplace democracy. For example, Chávez invested the nationalized oil income in the development of social programs in favor of the most impoverished of the country. Which all sounds kinda okay. The question therefore: Does Maduro violate those principles or uphold them?
Still and all, tens-upon-hundreds and thousands of poets, writers, artists, international analysts, journalists, social and political activists have joined in supporting the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro and the revolutionary Chavista legacy. They also speak of condemning an alleged coup attempt by right wing forces operating both inside and outside of Venezuela, surprise!
Intellectuals from around the world have signed onto “IN VENEZUELA, THEY SHALL NOT PASS,” an international movement to speak the truth and preserve the Bolivarian Revolution.
After all, the battle for the soul of Venezuela is at hand, and the battle for South America’s incipient Bolivarian Revolution is at great risk, a revolutionary movement that the great masses in Venezuela embrace with fervor under Chávez. He lifted them out of the gutter.
But then again, it’s the same old story with South & Central America, whom to believe is the major issue regarding stuff that happens, whether reported by American media and department of state or a broad coalition of the world’s intelligentsia. Whom to believe?
Can Socialism Survive in Venezuela? What are we to make of the opposition's win? By Mark Weisbrot / CEPR December 11, 2015
So the opposition got their message out, and their voters to the polls, which is not surprising, given the state of the economy and the resources of the opposition. They still have most of the wealth and income of the country; they get millions of dollars from the U.S. government, and they receive a lot of media coverage, too. Data from the Carter Center for the 2013 presidential election, for example, show that the opposition candidate got more TV coverage than the government candidate, and more of that coverage was favorable. They also have a huge advantage in social media. It is difficult to argue it both ways: that Venezuela does not have free or fair elections, voters are intimidated, etc., and then explain a landslide opposition victory like this one.
The key issue for its continued political survival will still be the economy. There is triple-digit inflation, widespread shortages of consumer goods, a recession, low oil prices, non-working price controls, and a dysfunctional exchange rate system that is at the heart of the country's economic mess. This is obviously why they lost the Assembly. So, as before the election, if the government does not fix this mess, the Chavistas will lose power; if they do fix it, they will probably do OK. Statement and Appeal from the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity The people of Venezuela and its Bolivarian Revolution are in combat against the intense dirty war carried out by the opposition in that country, orchestrated by the regional right, old European right-wingers, and the United States.
The current situation represents a new escalation against the Bolivarian process of Venezuela, promoted by the right allied to the transnational oligarchy. They are preparing a new provocation and interference plans essentially aimed to destroy and eliminate the revolution and therefore the integration and unity of Latin American.
The Parliamentary elections in Venezuela on December 6 will decide the future of the Revolution and at the same time the rest of the progressive countries of Latin America.
The Bolivarian revolution is not alone. It attained the respect and affection of all our peoples under the leadership of the ever-present Commander Hugo Chavez, which President Nicolas Maduro today gives continuity in very difficult conditions.
Ensuring the continuity of the Bolivarian process is of vital importance to the sovereignty of the region, maintain regional integration and curb the hegemonic and subversive campaign that the United States has established for Latin America.
Extreme Poverty in Venezuela Drops to 4.5% "Venezuela's rate of extreme poverty is nearly half that of neighboring Colombia"
Would you be surprised to learn that the U.S. has a higher rate of extreme poverty than Venezuela? Don't be. US figures for 2014 yield a figure of 6.3% extreme poverty. In fact, the U.S. has experienced an 80.4% increase over the past 15 years.
Over the last 15 years the U.S. has consistently cut back programs for those in need. In Venezuela, with the election of Chávez in 1998, social investment has consistently increased and extreme poverty has gone from 21% to 4.3%.
Venezuela Analysis an independent website produced by individuals who are dedicated to disseminating news and analysis about the current political situation in Venezuela.
The website started out in Caracas, Venezuela, in mid-2003 but as of early 2008 its writers are all working on the site from their homes in various places in Venezuela, with volunteers contributing from around world.
While the site publishes opinion articles, it also aims for accuracy in the news and facts presented in all articles. Our goal is to be the primary resource for information and analysis on Venezuela in the English language.
Venezuela:50 Truths about Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution
President Hugo Chavez, who died on March 5, 2013 of cancer at age 58, marked forever the history of Venezuela and Latin America.
1. Never in the history of Latin America, has a political leader had such incontestable democratic legitimacy. Since coming to power in 1999, there were 16 elections in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez won 15, the last on October 7, 2012. He defeated his rivals with a margin of 10-20 percentage points.
2. All international bodies, from the European Union to the Organization of American States, to the Union of South American Nations and the Carter Center, were unanimous in recognizing the transparency of the vote counts.
3. James Carter, former U.S. President, declared that Venezuela's electoral system was "the best in the world."
4. Universal access to education introduced in 1998 had exceptional results. About 1.5 million Venezuelans learned to read and write thanks to the literacy campaign called Mission Robinson I. [it is now 1.7 million, with 800,000 adults continuing in high school programs.]
5. In December 2005, UNESCO said that Venezuela had eradicated illiteracy.
6. The number of children attending school increased from 6 million in 1998 to 13 million in 2011 and the enrollment rate is now 93.2%.
7. Mission Robinson II was launched to bring the entire population up to secondary level. Thus, the rate of secondary school enrollment rose from 53.6% in 2000 to 73.3% in 2011.
8. Missions Ribas and Sucre allowed tens of thousands of young adults to undertake university studies. Thus, the number of tertiary students increased from 895,000 in 2000 to 2.3 million in 2011, assisted by the creation of new universities. [university enrollment is now 2.7 million; 13 new universities have been created in 15 years]
9. With regard to health, they created the National Public System to ensure free access to health care for all Venezuelans. Between 2005 and 2012, 7873 new medical centers were created in Venezuela.
10. The number of doctors increased from 20 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 80 per 100,000 in 2010, or an increase of 400%.
11. Mission Barrio Adentro I provided 534 million medical consultations. About 17 million people were attended, while in 1998 less than 3 million people had regular access to health. 1.7 million lives were saved, between 2003 and 2011.
12. The infant mortality rate fell from 19.1 per thousand in 1999 to 10 per thousand in 2012, a reduction of 49%.
13. Average life expectancy increased from 72.2 years in 1999 to 74.3 years in 2011.
14. Thanks to Operation Miracle, launched in 2004, 1.5 million Venezuelans who were victims of cataracts or other eye diseases, regained their sight.
15. From 1999 to 2011, the poverty rate decreased from 42.8% to 26.5% and the rate of extreme poverty fell from 16.6% in 1999 to 7% in 2011.
16. In the rankings of the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP), Venezuela jumped from 83 in 2000 (0.656) at position 73 in 2011 (0.735), and entered into the category Nations with 'High HDI'.
17. The GINI coefficient, which allows calculation of inequality in a country, fell from 0.46 in 1999 to 0.39 in 2011.
18. According to the UNDP, Venezuela holds the lowest recorded Gini coefficient in Latin America, that is, Venezuela is the country in the region with the least inequality.
19. Child malnutrition was reduced by 40% since 1999.
20. In 1999, 82% of the population had access to safe drinking water. Now it is 95%.
21. Under President Chavez social expenditures increased by 60.6%.
22. Before 1999, only 387,000 elderly people received a pension. Now the figure is 2.1 million. [ now over 2.5 million.]
23. Since 1999, 700,000 homes have been built in Venezuela.
24. Since 1999, the government provided / returned more than one million hectares of land to Aboriginal people.
25. Land reform enabled tens of thousands of farmers to own their land. In total, Venezuela distributed more than 3 million hectares.
26. In 1999, Venezuela was producing 51% of food consumed. In 2012, production was 71%, while food consumption increased by 81% since 1999. If consumption of 2012 was similar to that of 1999, Venezuela produced 140% of the food it consumed.
27. Since 1999, the average calories consumed by Venezuelans increased by 50% thanks to the Food Mission that created a chain of 22,000 food stores (MERCAL, Houses Food, Red PDVAL), where products are subsidized up to 30%. Meat consumption increased by 75% since 1999.
28. Five million children now receive free meals through the School Feeding Program. The figure was 250,000 in 1999.
29. The malnutrition rate fell from 21% in 1998 to less than 3% in 2012.
30. According to the FAO, Venezuela is the most advanced country in Latin America and the Caribbean in the eradication of hunger.
31. The nationalization of the oil company PDVSA in 2003 allowed Venezuela to regain its energy sovereignty.
32. The nationalization of the electrical and telecommunications sectors (CANTV and Electricidad de Caracas) allowed the end of private monopolies and guaranteed universal access to these services.
33. Since 1999, more than 50,000 cooperatives have been created in all sectors of the economy.
34. The unemployment rate fell from 15.2% in 1998 to 6.4% in 2012, with the creation of more than 4 million jobs. [now 4.5 million have been created]
35. The minimum wage increased from 100 bolivars/month ($ 16) in 1998 to 2047.52 bolivars ($ 330) in 2012, ie an increase of over 2,000%. This is the highest minimum wage in Latin America.
36. In 1999, 65% of the workforce earned the minimum wage. In 2012 only 21.1% of workers have only this level of pay.
37. Adults at a certain age who have never worked still get an income equivalent to 60% of the minimum wage.
38. Women without income and disabled people receive a pension equivalent to 80% of the minimum wage.
39. Working hours were reduced to 6 hours a day and 36 hours per week, without loss of pay.
40. Public debt fell from 45% of GDP in 1998 to 20% in 2011. Venezuela withdrew from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, after early repayment of all its debts.
41. In 2012, the growth rate was 5.5% in Venezuela, one of the highest in the world. [in 2014 it was -2.8%]
42. GDP per capita rose from $ 4,100 in 1999 to $ 10,810 in 2011.
43. According to the annual World Happiness 2012, Venezuela is the second happiest country in Latin America, behind Costa Rica, and the nineteenth worldwide, ahead of Germany and Spain.
44. Venezuela offers more direct support to the American continent than the United States. In 2007, Chávez spent more than 8,800 million dollars in grants, loans and energy aid as against 3,000 million from the Bush administration.
45. For the first time in its history, Venezuela has its own satellites (Bolivar and Miranda) and is now sovereign in the field of space technology. The entire country has internet and telecommunications coverage.
46. The creation of Petrocaribe in 2005 allows 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, or 90 million people, secure energy supply, by oil subsidies of between 40% to 60%.
47. Venezuela also provides assistance to disadvantaged communities in the United States by providing fuel at subsidized rates.
48. The creation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in 2004 between Cuba and Venezuela laid the foundations of an inclusive alliance based on cooperation and reciprocity. It now comprises eight member countries which places the human being in the center of the social project, with the aim of combating poverty and social exclusion.
49. Hugo Chavez was at the heart of the creation in 2011 of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) which brings together for the first time the 33 nations of the region, emancipated from the tutelage of the United States and Canada.
50. Hugo Chavez played a key role in the peace process in Colombia. According to President Juan Manuel Santos, "if we go into a solid peace project, with clear and concrete progress, progress achieved ever before with the FARC, is also due to the dedication and commitment of Chavez and the government of Venezuela."
51. More than 1200 radio and TV stations are cooperatively run by communities, youth, workers, indigenous groups.
52. 96% of the population is registered to vote.
53. Since 2011, each year 300,000 homes are being built—towards a goal of 3 million. Families receive subsidized home loans.
"Citgo... provides heating oil to poor and working-class Americans at a 40 percent discount... This winter, Citizens Energy and Citgo expect to deliver more than 100 million gallons of oil to more than 400,000 households in sixteen states, more than doubling the scope of last year's petro-philanthropy. Beneficiaries also include 163 American Indian tribes, most of them in Alaska...
"By showing that the richest nation on earth requires foreign "assistance" to meet its citizens' basic needs, Venezuela reveals our most profound failure as a system" (Liza Featherstone. "Chavez's Citizen Diplomacy." The Nation, Jan. 1, 2007: 22-24).
"...the proven track record of Chavez's "Bolivarian Revolution" and its gains in alleviating poverty.
"... social programs known as misiones, or mission... has delivered concrete benefits to Venezuela's poor...
"A mission that brings doctors to live in poor neighborhoods, towns and villages... so popular that in 2004 alone it loggged more visits than the entire public and private healthcare systems combined over the previous five years. There is a job-training mission, and a mission that provides food subsidies and soup kitchens. These and other missions offer much-needed services and dramatically increase the quality of life for millions" (Chesa Boudin. "The Land of Chavismo." The Nation, Dec. 4, 2006: 18-21).
"Chavez is the best thing that has happened to Venezuela's poor in a very long time. His government has actually delivered on some of its promises, with improved literacy rates and more students getting school meals. Public spending has quadrupled on education and tripled on healthcare, and infant mortality has declined. The government is promoting one of the most ambitious land-reform programs seen in Latin America in decades...
"...the economy is growing at close to 12 percent... So naturally the United States wants him out... Chavez was re-elected in 2000...
"A US-backed coup against him was badly botched in 2002" (Alexander Cockburn. "Venezuela: The Gang's All Here!" The Nation, July 12, 2004: 12).
Chavez, Good Governments, PR as news"..on April 12 and 13, 2002, every major paper in the USA -- with no exception -- announced that Chavez had resigned his presidency. He was "unpopular," he was "dictatorial"... every one of these factoids was dead wrong... almost all papers used identical words... which I traced back to a U.S. State Department briefing.
"In fact, President Chavez had been kidnapped" (Greg Palast. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. NY: Plume, 2003: 192).
"In Caracas, Chavez minister Miguel Bustamante Madriz explained it to me. "America can't let us stay in power. We are the exception to the new globalization order. If we succeed, we are an example to all the Americas"...
"..Bush had played footsy with the coup plotters... Bush's White House is quoted as saying that Chavez's election by "a majority of voters" did not confer "legitimacy" on his government. (How appropriate from the victors of Florida)" (194).
"Chavez's crimes go beyond giving milk and housing to the poor. His real sin was to pass two laws... the new land law that promised to give unused land to the landless.. [and] the petroleum law that doubled the royalty taxes paid by Exxon/Mobil.." (195).
"..the World Bank's.. strategy.. [was] cutting works programs, smashing union rules and lsicing real wages. Contrast that with Chavez's first act after defeating the coup: announcing a 20 percent increase in the minimum wage...
"Chavez moved to renationalize oil and rejected the sale of Venezuela's water systems" (198).
"Chavez is an old-style social democratic reformer..." (Greg Palast. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. NY: Plume, 2003: 199).
"... the entire [Latin American] region [is] primed for social change, a new breed of populists and social democrats is coming to power. Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, in addition to Venezuela, have leftist governments of some sort, while Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru will hold presidential elections in 2006...
"...Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution... Despite Chavez's often radical discourse, the government has not engaged in mass expropriations of private fortunes, even agricultural ones, nor plowed huge sums into new collectively owned forms of production... What the government has done is spend billions on new social programs... As a result, 1.3 million people have learned to read, millions have received medical care and an estimated 35-40 percent of the population now shops at subsidized, government-owned supermarkets. Elementary school enrollment has increased by more than a million as school have started offering free food to students. The government has created several banks aimed at sall businesses and cooperatives, redeployed part of the military to do public works and is building several new subway systems around the country. To boost agricultural production in a country that imports 80 percent of what it consumes, Chavez has created a land-reform program that rewards private farmers who increase productivity and punishes those who do not with the threat of confiscation...
"But for the moment, the Venezuelan battle against poverty is possible only because oil prices have been at record highs for several years, and the state owns most of the petroleum industry. All of Venezuela's oil and mining and most of its basic industry were nationalized in the mid-1970s. On average, oil sales make up 30 percent of Venezuelan GDP, provide half of state income and make up 80 p[ercent of all Venezuelan exports...
"...the wealthier classes [are] driven apoplectic with rage by the fact that their president looks like a construction worker or cab driver.
"For six years Chavez and his supporters have battled this opposition, an enemy that Chavez has nicknamed los escuálidos, or "the weaklings." But the opposition has not always been so weak. It includes the privately owned mass media, which have been virulently and propagandistically hostile to the government, devoting days at a time to commercial-free attacks on it as "totalitarian" and "Castro communist"" (Christian Parenti. "Hugo Chavez and Petro Populism." The Nation, April 11, 2005: 15-21).
"In using oil wealth to help the poor, Venezuela's leader is a shining example to Latin America...
"...the Bolivarian revolution of President Hugo Chavez...
"Something amazing has been taking place in Latin America in recent years that deserves wider attention. The chrysalis of the Venezuelan revolution led by Chavez, often derided as the incoherent vision of an authoritarian leader, has finally emerged as a resplendent butterfly whose example will radiate for decades to come...
"The Chavez government... has forged ahead with various spectacular social projects, assisted by the huge jump in oil prices, from $10 to $50 a barrel over the past six years. Instead of gushing into the coffers of the already wealthy, the oil pipelines have been picked up and directed into the shanty towns, funding health, education and cheap food. Foreign leaders from Spain and Brazil, Chile and Cuba have come on pilgrimage to Caracas to establish links with the man now perceived as the leader of new emerging forces in Latin America, with popularity ratings to match. This extensive external support has stymied the plans of the US government to rally the countries of Latin America against Venezuela. They are not listening, and Washington is left without a policy.
"Chaves, himself, a youthful former army colonel of 51, is now perceived in Latin America as the most original political figure to have emerged since Fidel Castro broke on to the scene nearely 50 years ago. With huge charisma, he has an infinite capacity to relate to the poor population of the continent. A largely self-educated intellectual, the ideology of his Bolivarian revolution is based on a handful of exemplary figures from the 19th century, most notably Simón Bolivar, the man who liberated most of South America from Spanish rule. Chavez offers a cultural as well as a political alternative to the prevailing US-inspired model that dominates Latin America.
"So, what does his Bolivarian revolution consist of? He is friendly with Castro yet he is no out-of-fashion state socialist. Capitalism is alive and well in Venezuela--and secure. Chavez seeks to curb the excesses of what he terms "savage neoliberalism," and he wants the state to play an enabling role in the economy, but he has no desire to crush small businesses, as has happened in Cuba. International oil companies have fallen over themselves to provide fresh investment, even after the government increased the royalties that they have to pay. Venezuela remains a golden goose that cannot be ignored.
"What is undoubtedly old-fashioned about Chavez is his ability to talk about race and class, subjects that have long been taboo, and to discuss them in the context of poverty. In much of Latin America, particularly in the coutries of the Andes, the long-suppressed native peoples have begun to organise and make political demands for the first time since the 18th century, and Chavez is the first president in the continent to have picked up their banner and made it his own" (Richard Gott. "Chávez shows how to lead." Guardian Weekly, June 3, 2005: 5).
"Chavez has sold the discounted oil in two US markets, New York and Massachusetts... bought 12m gallons at a steep discount after US oil companies ignored its plea for help. Similar oil deals are in the works elsewhere.
"On the second scow day in the Bronx, it did not escape the notice of tenants that a foreign government stepped in after Congress did not...
"Last week Citgo bought full-pagge ads in the Washington Post and the New York Times, lauding Venezuela's role in heating the homes of the nation's poor" (Michelle Garcia. "Bronx warmly receives Venezuelan oil." Guardian Weekly, Dec. 16, 2005: 7).
"The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, said that he would resist an "imperialist attack" after Washington announced it would pursue an "inoculation strategy" against his government by creating a united front against its policies.
"The rhetoric reflected a rapid deterioration in relations between the two countries after Venezuelan spying allegations against the US and tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats.
"The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, used her harshest language to date in testimony to Congress last week in which she called Venezuela and Cuba "sidekicks" of Iran, and launched a campaign to rally international opposition to the Chavez government...
"Larry Birns, dirctor of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, said the "inoculation strategy" was too late to stop the rise of leftwing and anti-American politics in Latin America" (Julian Borger. "Chavez pledges to resist US 'inoculation strategy.'" Guardian Weekly, Feb 24, 2006: 7).
Chavez Interview"...in my interview with the president of Venezuela on March 28, he made Bush the following astonishing offer: Chavez would drop the price of oil to $50 a barrel, "not too high, a fair price," he said--a third less than the $75 a barrel for oil recently posted on the spot market. That would bring down the price at the pump by about a buck, from $3 to $2 a gallon.
But our President has basically told Chavez to tak his cheaper oil and stick it up his pipeline...
"But the ascendance of Venezuela within OPEC necessarily means the decline of the power of the House of Saud. And the Bush family wouldn't like that one bit. It comes down to "petro-dollars." When George W. ferried than-Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah of Saudi Arabia around the Crawford Ranch in a Gold cart it wasn't because America needs Arabian oil. The Saudis will always sell us their petroleum. What Bush needs is Saudi petro-dollars. Saudi Arabia has, over the past three decades, kindly recycled the cash sucked from the wallets of American SUV owners and sent much of the loot right back to New York to buy US Treasury bills and other US assets.
The Gulf potentates understand that in return for lending the US Treasury the cash to fund George Bush's $2 trillion rise in the nation's debt, they receive protection in return. They lend us petro-dollars, we lend them the 82nd Airborne.
"Chavez would put an end to all that. He'll sell us oil relatively cheaply--but intends to keep the petro-dollars in Latin America. Recently, Chavez withdrew $20 billion from the US Federal Reserve and, at the same time, lent or committed a like sum to Argentina, Ecuador, and other Latin American nations.
"Chavez, notes The Wall Street Journal, has become a "tropical IMF." And indeed, as the Venezuelan president told me, he wants to abolish the Washington-based International Monetary Fund, with its brutal free-market diktats, and replace it with an "International Humanitarian Fund"...
"Politically, Venezuella is torn in two. Chavez's "Blivarian Revolution," a close replica of Frankin Roosevelt's New Deal--a progressive income tax, public works, social security, cheap electricity--makes him wildly popular with the poor. And most Venezuelans are poor. His critics, a four-centuries' old white elite, unused to sharing oil wealth, portray him as a Castro-hugging anti-Christ...
Q: How do you respond to Bush's charge that you are destabilizing the region and interfering in the elections of other Latin American countries?
Chavez: "Mr. Bush is an illegitimate President. In Florida, his brother Jeb deleted many black voters from the electoral registers. So this President is the result of a fraud. Not only that, he is also currently applying a dictatorship in the US. People can be put in jail without being charged. They tap phones without court orders. They check what book people take out of public libraries. They arrested Cindy Sheehan because of a T-shirt she was wearing demanding the return of the troops from Iraq. They abuse blacks and latinos. And if we are going to talk about meddling in other countries, the the US is the champion of meddling in other people's affairs. They invaded Guatemala, they overthrew Salvador Allende, invaded Panama, and the Dominican Republic. They were involved in the coup d'etat in Argentina thirty years ago" (Greg Palast. "Hugo Chavez." Progressive, July 2006: 35-39).
Colby Glass, MLIS