Hugo Chavez, in no uncertain terms, has warned the Bushites he will use the oil weapon against the United States if Bush attacks Venezuela, America’s fourth-largest oil exporter.
“[I]f Mr. Bush is possessed with the madness of trying to blockade Venezuela, or worse for them, to invade Venezuela in response to the desperate song of his lackeys… sadly not a drop of petroleum will come to them from Venezuela,” Hugo Chavez recently told supporters, according to AFP/Reuters.
Is Chavez paranoid?
Recall the CIA attempted coup against him in 2002.
How do we know the CIA engineered the failed coup? “Same way we know that the sun will rise tomorrow morning,” writes Bill Blum, former State Department employee. “That’s what it’s always done and there’s no reason to think that tomorrow morning will be any different.”
The problem is, for the Bush administration, Chavez is not part of the neoliberal New World Global plan. “I consider myself a humanist, and a humanist has to be anti-neoliberal,” Chavez has said.
Moreover, Chavez considers himself a bolivariano, that is to say he takes inspiration from the Carta de Jamaica and the Discurso de Angostura, texts written by Simon Bolivar, called El Liberator because he kicked the Spaniards out of Bolivia, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. In addition to fighting against foreign invasion and economic domination, Bolivar’s philosophy, as practiced by Chavez, translates into land redistribution for the poor and an increase of oil income for the government.
In other words, less money for Bush’s Big Oil buddies and more for the people of Venezuela.
It doesn’t help Chavez also sells oil to Cuba, visited Saddam Hussein, and sacked the upper management of Petroleos de Venezuela, the nation’s oil company, infamous for its corruption.
But what really rankles Bush and Big Oil is the fact their CIA-engineered coup d’etat on April 12, 2002 did not stick.
Unlike the seemingly effortless removal of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti, getting rid of Chavez will not be easy.
In the short time Chavez was held at a prison on the Venezuelan Caribbean island of Orchila after the CIA-sponsored coup in April, 2002, Fedecamaras business lackey and oil executive Pedro Carmona dissolved the National Assembly, voided the 1999 Constitution introduced under Chavez and approved by popular vote in a national referendum, fired Supreme Court justices, repealed laws that gave the government control of the economy, and handed control of Petroleos de Venezuela over to Gen. Guaicaipuro Lameda, an active military officer.
As Philip Reeker, US State Department spokesman, said at the time, “We want to see a return to democracy” in Venezuela.
For Bush, the State Department, and the CIA, voiding constitutions approved by popular vote is the only “democracy” the third world should expect. As a prime example of Bush’s grotesque version of democracy, look no further than Iraq where an American proconsul and a gaggle of handpicked lackeys rule and popular elections become more and more remote by the day.
No doubt the Americans would feel more at home with another Perez Jimenez, the brutal army captain, virulent anti-communist, and self-appointed dictator of Venezuela who did such an effective job eliminating progressive reforms that Eisenhower gave him the Legion of Merit.
“The anti-Chavistas don’t equate democracy with voting,” writes Greg Palast, who interviewed Chavez in 2002. “With 80 per cent of Venezuela’s population at or below the poverty level, elections are not attractive to the protesting financiers. Chavez had won the election in 1998 with a crushing 58 per cent of the popular vote and that was unlikely to change except at gunpoint.” Bush, the IMF, and Venezuela’s ruling elite are nostalgic for the days when the notorious embezzler of public funds, Carlos Andres Perez, and Accion Democratica ruled. In 1989, Perez sent the military to slaughter 1,000 workers and poor people from the cerros, or shantytowns, for the audacity of protesting against an IMF austerity plan.
Following the slaughter, IMF Managing Director Michael Camdessus wrote to Perez and said he was “profoundly moved” by the loss of life but said the IMF was convinced “that the economic policies were well-conceived.” No word if Camdessus was “profoundly moved” by the further impoverishment of pensioners and the poor for the sake of US creditors holding Venezuela’s debt.
Chavez blamed the CIA for the failed coup, and for good reason: Charles S. Shapiro, the US ambassador in Caracas and former Deputy Chief of Mission at the US embassy in Chile at the time of the CIA-sponsored coup against Salvador Allende, admitted that military training camps for Venezuelan opposition forces are currently being run in Florida. For some reason the Ministry of Homeland Security does not seem to mind.
If it walks and talks like the CIA, good chance it is the CIA.
“On January 29, 2003, The U.S. daily, the Wall Street Journal, published an editorial revealing the existence of terrorist training camps in Florida,” writes CasaVenezuela editor Dozthor Zurlent. “Rodolfo Frometa, a Cuban, and former Army Captain Luis Eduardo Garcia, a Venezuelan, are named in the article as the leaders of the paramilitary coalition formed by the ‘F-4 Commandos’ and ‘The Venezuelan Patriotic Junta.’ Garcia, a former Captain, was one of the leaders of the defeated coup against democratically elected president Hugo Chavez Frias in Venezuela in April 2002.”
Florida is where the CIA’s Task Force WH-4, Branch 4 of the Western Hemisphere Division, set up training camps for the failed Bay of Pigs covert operation against Cuba.
According to Shapiro, plotting the overthrow of Venezuela’s democratically elected government “is not necessarily a crime,” especially when that country has a whole lot of mighty fine sweet crude and a leader with funny ideas about empowering poor negro y indio folk.
Bush and the bankers have a little problem. Globalization is taking heat all over Central and South America, from Bolivia to Chiapas. Opposition to the FTAA, a sort of NAFTA on steroids, is nearly universal. In October, Bolivians brought down neoliberal President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. “All governments in Latin America, even those most solicitous of the United States, know they are negotiating the FTAA with a loaded and angry popular movement cocked at their political heads,” writes David Moberg for In These Times.
For the Bushites, though, “loaded and angry” popular movements are not the problem; under brutal enough conditions, those movements can be stifled.
The problem is Hugo Chavez.
They blame him not only for the fall of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, but also for funding Colombia’s FARC and ELN. Moreover, they say Chavez is conspiring with Fidel Castro and offering sanctuary for “European leftists, retired East European intelligence officers and activists from countries on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism,” as the AP hysterically reported in January. The Bush Ministry of Disinformation, U.S. News & World Report division, would have us believe “Middle Eastern terrorist groups” are operating “support cells” in Venezuela and elsewhere in the Andean region.
As investigative journalist Jeremy Bigwood discovered through an FIOA request, the National Endowment for Democracy, a well-documented CIA front, has backed anti-Chavez projects and recall referendums in Venezuela.
The documents Bigwood made public reveal ties between the US embassy in Caracas and Chavez’s opposition, that is to say the ruling elite and business interests pushing Washington’s neoliberal agenda. Add to this the CIA-esque training camps in Florida run by Rodolfo Frometa and Captain Luis Eduardo Garcia, and it becomes obvious what the game plan is — ousting the democratically elected leader of Venezuela and installing an obsequious lackey, such as Carlos Andres Perez, a true-blue servant for neoliberalism and the Wall Street loan sharks.
No wonder Chavez called Bush an “asshole.”
KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/blogger.html . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org