In a desperate bid to evade the international reach of US authorities Snowden has applies for asylum to Wall Street. “Where else can I go?”, says Snowden. Pointing out that Wall Street ripped off 10 trillion dollars in 2008 and no one went to jail Snowden thinks this is the only place on Earth that is beyond the reach of the Justice Department. “If they can get away with that,” says Snowden, this must be the best place in the world to hide!”
via Dvorak News Blog.
Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro said on Friday he had decided to offer asylum to former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has petitioned several countries to avoid capture by Washington.
“In the name of America’s dignity … I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden,” Maduro told a televised military parade marking Venezuela‘s independence day.
WikiLeaks said on Friday that Snowden had applied to six more nations for asylum, bringing to about 20 the number of countries he has asked for protection from US espionage charges.
Maduro said Venezuela was ready to offer him sanctuary, and that the details Snowden had revealed of a US spy program had exposed the nefarious schemes of the US “empire”.
“He has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the US spying on the whole world,” Maduro said.
“Who is the guilty one? A young man … who denounces war plans, or the US government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate president Bashar al-Assad?”
“Who is the terrorist? Who is the global delinquent?”
Russia has shown signs of growing impatience over Snowden’s stay in Moscow. Its deputy foreign minister said on Thursday that Snowden had not sought asylum in that country and needed to choose a place to go.
Moscow has made clear that the longer he stays, the greater the risk of the diplomatic standoff over his fate causing lasting damage to relations with Washington.
Earlier on Friday, Nicaragua said it had received an asylum request from Snowden and could accept the bid “if circumstances permit”, president Daniel Ortega said.
“We are an open country, respectful of the right of asylum, and it’s clear that if circumstances permit, we would gladly receive Snowden and give him asylum in Nicaragua,” Ortega said during a speech in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua.
Ortega, an ally of Venezuelan president Maduro, did not elaborate on the conditions that would allow him to offer asylum to Snowden, who has been at the eye of a diplomatic storm since leaking high-level US intelligence data last month.
Options have been narrowing for Snowden as he seeks a country to shelter him from US espionage charges.
A one-time cold war adversary of the United States, Ortega belongs to a bloc of leftist leaders in Latin America that have frequently taken up antagonistic positions with Washington.
Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the Americas, has benefited greatly from financial support from Venezuela, and Ortega was a staunch ally of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez.
Last January, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that he and Venezuelan parliament president Diosdado Cabello were both the target of an assassination plan – without unveiling the conspirators’ identity.
In March, he said the Pentagon and the CIA were hatching a plan to murder opposition leader Henrique Capriles and frame him for it. In April, he said U.S Ambassador to Venezuela Otto Reich and Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega were conspiring with Salvadoran hit men to assassinate him.
This month, former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was added to the conspiracy theory list. He also said that the spirit of dead President Hugo Chavez had visited him in the form of a little bird. If we add all those stories together, we might suspect that Nicolas Maduro is suffering from paranoia and has lost his sense of reality.
At first glance, Maduro’s ill-tempered reaction to a statement by Peruvian Foreign Minister Rafael Roncagliolo asking Unasur, the Union of South American Nations to call for “tolerance and dialogue” in Venezuela only reinforces this impression. Maduro called the Venezuelan ambassador in Lima for some tough talks and ended up settling the matter with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala himself.
“You may be Peru’s foreign minister, Roncagliolo, I know you well, but you cannot give your opinion on Venezuela,” Maduro said in a televised speech. “I hope that is not the position of President Ollanta Humala.”
Roncaglioli has since resigned “for health reasons.”
Peru currently holds the chair of Unasur. After Maduro was elected president in April, Unasur indeed made a Roncagliolo-inspired statement calling for dialogue and the “preservation of a climate of tolerance for the good of the entire Venezuelan people.”
I would suggest however that there is a clear political calculation behind all of Maduro’s actions. Even if the strain of the mess he is in causes him to make mistakes, Maduro is essentially a rational political actor.
Let’s take for example his visceral and disproportionate reaction to Roncagliolo’s statement. Like Fidel Castro and Chavez showed, there is nothing less novel during difficult times than to invoke the specter of foreign conspiracies and threats in an effort to try and unite the home front.
This is particular necessary as Maduro’s leadership is being pilloried, even from within his own political movement. In great part, the reason for this is because the double-digit polling lead Maduro enjoyed during the campaign transformed into a 1.5% margin victory against Capriles.
However, the response to the Roncagliolo statement serves a different purpose on the external front. It is there to prevent other countries from agreeing with the Peruvian foreign minister, and avoid the risk of Unasur interfering in the Venezuelan crisis.
In this context, Maduro’s recent tour of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay serves the same purpose. Maduro’s trip coincided with another statement by a Unasur minister. Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Almagro recently said there was no need for another Unasur meeting to discuss the political situation in Venezuela. The meeting had been called… by Peru. “The situation has developed positively, political tensions have eased and social tensions have practically disappeared,” said Almagro.
Neutralizing the neighbors
Maduro’s behavior is aimed at making sure there is no regional intervention in the Venezuelan situation. Every time it seems there could be some meddling from South American neighbors, the Venezuelan government makes a minor concession to neutralize its neighbors’ intrusion.
For instance, after the elections, the partial vote recount that opposition leader Capriles has asked for and threatened to appeal to Unasur if he didn’t get – and that Supreme Court had initially said was “impossible” – was finally approved by the Venezuelan National Election Board (CNE) just hours before the Unasur summit.
Thus, the recount did not look as though it was the product of international pressure, but a governmental initiative instead. As a result, the summit limited itself to declare it took “positive note on the CNE’s decision.”
Similarly, Maduro’s reaction to the Rancogliolo statement led to a “gentlemen’s agreement” to restore legislative work in the Venezuelan parliament. Since the election, the pro-government majority within the parliament had been barring the opposition from participating in parliament and refusing to pay the opposition MP’s salaries.
This is the carrot-and-stick method. The greater the threats or the bigger the stick the Venezuelan government brandishes, the smaller the carrot or peace offering has to be.
A final element that has to be taken into account is the foreign aid Venezuela provides to its allies – there is no shortage of examples. After the Uruguayan foreign minister’s positive statement, some were quick to point out that 40% of the oil Uruguay consumes is imported from Venezuela under very preferential terms.
In itself this is proof enough of the influence that Venezuela has on Uruguay. On the other hand, the same thing could be said about foreign aid doled out by the U.S. government. A 2006 USAID document states: The 1950 Point Four Program focused on two goals: Creating markets for the United States by reducing poverty and increasing production in developing countries; diminishing the threat of communism by helping countries prosper under capitalism.
Clearly, Venezuela is not the only country with a political agenda when granting aid. That being said, the purpose of that help does not usually tend to be something as crass as the buying of consciences. We should remember that until recently, USAID operated in Bolivia, headed by proudly socialist President Evo Morales.
Read the article in the original language.
Photo by – Nicolas Maduro Facebook page
Obama, who has betrayed democracy in America, unleashing execution on American citizens without due process of law and war without the consent of Congress, provoked Maduro’s response by suggesting that Maduro’s newly elected government might be fraudulent. Obviously, Obama is piqued that the millions of dollars his administration spent trying to elect an American puppet instead of Maduro failed to do the job.
If anyone has accurately summed up Washington, it is the Venezuelans.
Who can forget Chevez standing at the podium of the UN General Assembly in New York City speaking of George W. Bush? Quoting from memory: “Right here, yesterday, at this very podium stood Satan himself, speaking as if he owned the world. You can still smell the sulphur.”
Hegemonic Washington threw countless amounts of money into the last Venezuelan election, doing its best to deliver the governance of that country to a Washington puppet called Henrique Capriles, in my opinion a traitor to Venezuela. Why isn’t this American puppet arrested for treason? Why are not the Washington operatives against an independent country — the US ambassador, the counsels, the USAID/CIA personnel, the Washington funded NGOs — ordered to leave Venezuela immediately or arrested and tried for spying and high treason? Why allow any presence of Washington in Venezuela when it is clear that Washington’s intention is to make Venezuela a puppet state like the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Japan, and on and on.
There was a time, such as in the Allende-Pinochet era, when the American left-wing and a no longer extant liberal media would have been all over Washington for its illegal interference in the internal affairs of an independent country. But no more. As CounterPunch‘s Jeffrey St. Clair has recently made clear, the American left-wing remains “insensate to the moral and constitutional transgressions being committed by their champion” — the first black, or half-black, US president — leaving “Rand Paul to offer official denunciations concerning [Washington’s] malignant operations” against independent countries.
Against the Obama regime‘s acts of international and domestic violence, “the professional Left — from the progressive caucus to the robotic minions of Moveon.org — lodge no objections and launch no protests.” St. Clair has written a powerful article. Read it for yourself here.
I think the American left-wing lost its confidence when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Chinese communists and Indian socialists turned capitalist. Everyone misread the situation, especially the “end of history” idiots. The consequence is a world without strong protests of Washington’s and its puppet states’ war criminal military aggressions, murder, destruction of civil liberty and human rights, and transparent propaganda: “Last night Polish forces crossed the frontier and attacked Germany,” or so declared Adolf Hitler. Washington’s charges of “weapons of mass destruction” are even more transparent lies.
But hardly any care. The Western governments and Japan are all paid off and bought, and those that are not bought are begging to be bought because they want the money too. Truth, integrity, these are dead-letter words. No one any longer knows what they mean.
The moronic George W. Bush said, in Orwellian double-speak, they hate us for our freedom and democracy. They don’t hate us because we bomb them, invade them, kill them, destroy their way of life, culture, and infrastructure. They hate us because we are so good. How stupid does a person have to be to believe this BS?
Washington and Israel present the world with unmistakable evil. I don’t need to stand at the UN podium after Bush or Obama. I can smell Washington’s evil as far away as Florida. Jeffrey St. Clair can smell it in Oregon. Nicolas Maduro can smell it in Venezuela. Evo Morales can smell it in Bolivia from where he cast out CIA-infiltrated USAID. Putin can smell it in Russia, although he still permits the treasonous “Russian opposition” funded by US money to operate against Russia’s government. The Iranians can smell it in the Persian Gulf. The Chinese can smell it as far away as Beijing.
Homeland Security, a gestapo institution, has “crisis actors” to help it deceive the public in its false flag operations.
The Obama regime has drones with which to silence American citizens without due process of law.
Homeland Security has more than a billion rounds of ammunition, tanks, a para-military force. Detention camps have been built.
Are Americans so completely stupid that they believe this is all for “terrorists” whose sparse numbers require the FBI to manufacture “terrorists” in so-called “sting operations” in order to justify the FBI’s $3 billion special fund from Congress to combat domestic terrorism?
Congress has taxpayers paying the FBI to frame up innocents and send them to prison.
This is the kind of country American has become. This is the kind of “security” agencies it has, filling their pockets by destroying the lives of the innocent and downtrodden.
“In God we trust,” reads the coinage. It should read: “In Satan we follow
Hola mi amigos!
Buenvenidos and Ding Dong, for the Dictator Hugo Chavez is dead! God struck Hugo Chavez dead with his awesome power! Let this be a message to all dictators! If God’s President Obama called you out into the Axis of Evil, your days are numbered!
For years Hugo Chavez broke the greatest commands of the Bible, refusing to bow before America’s glory and freely share all the oil in his country with the nation drafted to protect the Western hemisphere from communist East Bloc tyranny.
Chavez always bad-mouthed President George W. Bush and even made friends with mean spirited dictators like Saddam Hussein and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It is rumored that Adolph Hitler may have been hiding in Argentina as well.
Most famously, Hugo Chavez threatened to not share our oil in Venezuela and Argentina with us. America automatically owns the Western hemisphere by virtue of the Monroe Doctrine, so his actions were criminal and unjust.
ith Chavez out of the way, South America is in chaos and it is the perfect chance for America to muscle in and coerce a governor over the people, to kindly rule them toward democracy and setup some Halliburton drilling. Hopefully you fools invested in that company because the fields will be a-flowing with the beautiful crude oil!
How appropriate that the Wizard of Oz is coming back to theaters soon, because the wicked dictator is dead. Bye-bye.
Millions of Venezuelans, Cubans and people around the world have paid homage to Latin American revolutionary Hugo Chávez Frias in recent days. Some 33 heads of state and representatives of 50 governments attended Chávez’s funeral.
In the first hours that he lay in state, 2 million grief-stricken Venezuelans bid their beloved Comandante farewell, in a line that stretched as long as five miles. From Mexico City to New York City, countless vigils are being organized by supporters, inspired by Chávez’s revolutionary spirit and life.
But President Barack Obama—in a 60-word statement with not one word of condolence—just promised more “policies that promote democratic principles” in Venezuela.
Obama’s cynical attitude sums up Washington’s role ever since Hugo Chávez became president. The U.S. government has spent billions of dollars to back the Venezuelan right-wing elite in one plot after another to try to overthrow him and the Bolivarian Revolution.
Hugo Chávez’s tragic and untimely death may have whetted the U.S. government’s appetite, but the imperialists are deeply mistaken if they think they can turn back history.
The massive outpouring in Venezuela is not just an expression of deep sentiment for a fallen leader. The cries of “We are Chávez!” and “Chávez Vive!” are a resounding commitment by the people, the masses who brought him back from the grip of a U.S.-sponsored military coup in 2002.
Today, they are more determined than ever to defend the Bolivarian Revolution.
Preparing for the future
When Chávez announced on December 8, 2012, that he had to return to Cuba immediately for another cancer surgery, he was very likely aware that his condition was terminal and little time remained.
He conducted himself to the end of his days in the heroic manner that characterized his life.
In what would be his last public pronouncement to the Venezuelan people, Chávez said: “If something were to happen, I repeat, if I were to become incapacitated in any way, not only should Nicolás Maduro conclude the [current] term, as the Constitution dictates, but, in my firm opinion, as full as the moon, irrevocable, absolute, total—if in that scenario new presidential elections are convened, as mandated by the Constitution—you should vote for Nicolás Maduro as president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. I ask that of you from my heart.”
He was never able to speak to his people again.
Those fateful words are extremely important, because now the election for a new president must be held within 30 days of Chávez’s death.
On March 9, the National Elections Commission set April 14 as the date to elect a new president of Venezuela. The date was extended to give time for nominations, preparation of voting machines, and a 10-day campaign period and to accommodate a Sunday date.
In the meantime, Maduro has been sworn in as interim president, and is the designated candidate for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Presumably, the right-wing opposition candidate will be Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chávez last Oct. 7.
Chávez’s enormous authority enabled him to convey to the 7 million members of the PSUV what is today a matter of pressing urgency, to unite behind a revolutionary candidate who can once again defeat the opposition.
Chávez recognized that his word would carry enormous weight among the masses, to weather the onslaught of right-wing propaganda and assault sure to come after his death.
Hugo Chávez had an abiding confidence in the people because he understood them. He came from them, from the most humble roots of Venezuelan society.
Hugo Chávez’s youth
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías was born July 28, 1954, in the small, remote village of Sabaneta, Barinas state in western Venezuela, the second of six children. Hugo and his older brother Adán—today governor of Barinas—were raised by their grandmother Rosa Inés, while the parents Elena and Hugo, schoolteachers with a meager income, lived close by with the youngest four. This was a common tradition among extended families.
Some of the stories of Chávez’s youth come from his neighbors and relatives, in the book “Our Chávez” by Cuban authors Rosa Miriam Elizalde and Luis Baez.
The village of Sabaneta had no electricity during their childhood, and the family struggled to get by. In one moving account, little Hugo was turned away from his first day at school because his grandmother couldn’t afford to buy him a pair of shoes.
But he learned resourcefulness from his elders, selling candies at school that his grandmother made, to bring home some coins.
Chávez’s young life imbued in him an enormous spirit of solidarity and generosity with the people, especially the most oppressed. As president, one of Chávez’s very first acts was to provide free school lunches for hundreds of thousands of poor children. School attendance shot up dramatically.
Years later, in July 2001, when this reporter joined thousands of people as they marched with Chávez down the streets of Caracas, he patiently took the time to receive embraces and handwritten notes from the people, to hear their encouragement or petitions for help. He made sure their needs were addressed.
Yet Chávez did not see himself as an individual whose good works alone would be enough to resolve Venezuela’s problems.
He began to adopt a concept of revolutionary societal change while in Venezuela’s Military Academy, which he entered at the age of 17 in 1971.
In the academy and army, Chávez’s radicalization was fueled by various factors, his brother Adán’s socialist influence, his own growing rebellion against military corruption and abuse, and the broader scenario of Latin American struggle.
In “Our Chávez,” he explains his political maturation: “The Hugo Chavez who started at the Academy was a boy from the countryside, a plainsman with aspirations to be a professional baseball player; four years later, a second lieutenant emerged who had set out along the revolutionary path. …
“At that stage, I began to read Fidel, Che, Mao, Plekhanov, Zamora … and books like The Bigwigs by Américo Martín; ‘The role of the individual in history’; ‘What is to be done’. And of course, I had already begun a thorough study of Bolívar.”
In 1982, Chávez formed a secret organization, the MBR 200 (Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement), of like-minded officers inside the military willing to take on the government. He would be their commander in the historic attack on the government in 1992.
Meanwhile, Carlos Andrés Pérez became president—his second term—in 1989. He immediately accepted the economic dictates of the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a multi-billion-dollar loan. The neo-liberal agreement suddenly doubled gasoline prices and hiked the price of other goods. It caused a massive spontaneous rebellion by the people in the streets of Caracas.
The uprising of Feb. 27, 1989, and government massacre that followed is known as the “Caracazo.” It is estimated that up to 3,000 people were murdered by security forces.
This brutal repression convinced Chávez and his colleagues of the need to deepen their preparations.
In the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 4, 1992, Chávez and his movement carried out their military action to attempt a takeover of Miraflores presidential palace, but they were attacked as soon as they approached. Traitors inside the movement had revealed their plans.
Historic words: “For Now”
By the end of the day, Pérez’s military defeated Chávez’s forces and was about to carry out an assault on troops loyal to him in two other regions. To avoid further losses of his men, Chávez appeared on television to tell his troops to stop the fighting.
In his TV appeal, the rebel lieutenant colonel said, “Comrades, unfortunately, for now, the goals we set for ourselves have not been reached in the capital. … we here in Caracas were not able to take power. … I assume responsibility for this Bolivarian military movement.”
Those two words, “for now,” electrified the vast majority of the population. Never before had a soldier taken on the corrupt government to vindicate the people, and he had promised to return.
In prison, Chávez became such a hero in the eyes of the oppressed, that during the presidential elections, wherever the bourgeois candidates spoke, people at the political rallies would chant for his freedom. The next president, Rafael Caldera Rodríguez, pardoned Chávez and his colleagues in March 1994.
At first reluctant to participate as a candidate in Venezuelan elections, because of his distrust of capitalist elections, Chávez was urged on by many people. He finally decided to run for president in the 1998 elections.
With no funds and only broken-down vehicles for transport, he traversed the country to denounce the traditional capitalist parties of Democratic Action and COPEI as those responsible for the country’s crisis. Huge crowds mobbed him every step of the way.
Chávez won in December 1998 with 56.2 percent of the vote under the banner of his Fifth Republic Movement. He assumed office in February 1999.
The words he spoke in his oath were unlike those of any previous president. “I swear that with this moribund constitution, I will carry out and push for the necessary democratic transformations so that the new republic will acquire a new Magna Carta fitting for the new times.”
In a process that has been repeated in Ecuador and Bolivia, the new Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela was adopted in 1999. It was the 26th constitution in Venezuela’s history, but the first that was ever approved by popular referendum, with 71.78 percent of the vote.
Free health care, free education, a ban on privatizing the country’s national resources, recognition of Indigenous and other minorities to their own culture and language, and a democratization of the political process are a few of the provisions.
Chávez was swept into office with a massive outpouring of support of the most oppressed, and he responded with all his energies and power at hand to initiate immediate and urgent programs to address the poorest sectors of the population, as well as working to empower the people at the base to defend the gains.
But it was after the right-wing’s fascist coup of April 2002—when people mobilized by the tens of thousands to demand his return and the military forces loyal to Chávez rescued him from the fascists—that the acceleration of the revolutionary process became possible.
Hugo Chávez’s legacy
Before Hugo Chávez, Venezuela was a classic model of capitalist underdevelopment: obscene opulence for the Venezuelan elite and foreign capitalists, and poverty and hopelessness for the majority. Under Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolutionary process, a whole panorama of revolutionary social programs lifted millions of Venezuelans up out of despair.
His courage and vision transformed his people into a combative force that has learned to defend what it has gained, the right to housing, health care, literacy, education, culture and most of all, independence and dignity.
Before Hugo Chávez, Latin America was fractured and under the heel of neo-liberal policies that benefited only the banks and big business. In the 1990s, Cuba was virtually alone in the Western Hemisphere, struggling mightily to defend socialism after the demise of the Soviet Union.
Chávez embraced the Cuban Revolution as his own and proudly defied U.S. imperialism, by forming together with Cuba the historic alliance of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas—ALBA. After decades of the sacking of Latin America and the Caribbean, an unprecedented process of anti-imperialist unity and transformation has begun in the continent.
One of Hugo Chávez’s greatest legacies was his fight for a socialist Venezuela, to expand and make permanent the gains that have been fought for so far.
From the viewpoint of Marxism, history and especially revolutionary change are made by great social forces and through the agency of class struggle. Marxism rejects the method of bourgeois historiography that places the role of “great men” as the central factor in the major events and developments that shape an entire historical era.
But Marxism also recognizes that particular individuals have played an indispensable part in molding together the social and political forces that created entirely new historical forces. The Russian Revolution for instance changed the character of the class struggle everywhere for the 20th century. Lenin played a unique and indispensable role during the revolutionary process, and without him it is unlikely that the Bolsheviks could have seized and retained state power.
Fidel’s leadership was another such example. His initiation and leadership of the Cuban Revolution was indispensable to its victory.
Lenin and Fidel did not simply ride a wave of revolution; they actually helped mold the forces that led to a re-shaping of history
So too with Hugo Chávez. The unique role he played in the last 15 years also molded together the forces of Latin American integration and unity on an anti-imperialist and socialist basis and changed the dynamics of the class struggle not only in Venezuela but throughout the continent. Chavez, like Lenin or Fidel was not a “superman,” but his role in the creation of ALBA and the larger unfolding process in Latin America was unique and indispensable during the past decade.
Today, the people and the struggle have been dealt a major blow with the loss of this great leader. But the social and political revolutionary movement that he catalyzed will offer up other leaders dedicated to pursuing the movement until final victory.
Upon his death, comrade Chavez has entered history not only as revolutionary life well led but as a source of confidence for all those who have been shaped by the movement he inspired—the millions who are oppressed and have been the object of extreme exploitation but have entered the political process now as actors demanding to be the shapers of their own historical destiny.
Hugo Chávez Frias Presente!
With an outpouring of great sadness, the world witnessed the passing of one of the great revolutionary leaders of our time, the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Hugo Chavez, who died on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.
All who value human rights and democracy, which does not include the Washington regime, will miss his inspired leadership.
A staunch fighter against US hegemony in the Americas, President Chavez warned, “But as we all must know, the imperial threat against our beloved Homeland [Venezuela] is alive and latent.”
No sooner had news of his untimely death been announced when lackeys from the US were caught busily trying to stir up a military coup against the Venezuelan government. Vice President Nicholas Maduro announced that a US Air Force attaché and another embassy official were being expelled for plotting to destabilize the government. Previously, the US had attempted a coup in April 2002, but President Chavez managed to return to office within 2 days.
Standing firm against the US oil giants, President Chavez nationalized Exxon Mobil’s Venezuelan heavy oil assets in the Orinoco Belt in 2007, and came out the winner against them in the subsequent litigation. Predictably in response to his death, the well-oiled capitalists of Wall Street rejoiced with an orgy of record highs on the New York stock exchange, accompanied no doubt by wild dreams of “reclaiming” Venezuela. Joining in the right-wing rapture were US politicians from both factions of the corporate party, who greeted the tragic news gleefully. With typical Republican vitriol, Representative Ed Royce (R-CA) stated, “His death dents the alliance of anti-US leftist leaders in South America.”
Particularly noteworthy for its vileness was the statement by Congressman Tom Cotton (R-AR), who acrimoniously declared, “After the welcome news of Hugo Chavez’s death… I look forward to working in the House to promote a free, democratic, and pro-American government in Venezuela.” US President Obama, displaying a minimal facade of respect, stated, “At this challenging time of President Hugo Chavez’s passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government.”
One US official, Representative José E. Serrano (D-NY) broke away from pack of foul-mouthed US political vultures vomiting their venom and actually spoke reverently and candidly about the deceased Venezuelan leader:
“He believed that the government of the country should be used to empower the masses, not the few. He understood democracy and basic human desires for a dignified life. His legacy in his nation, and in the hemisphere, will be assured as the people he inspired continue to strive for a better life for the poor and downtrodden.”
Constantly demeaned in the capitalist-dominated Western media who referred to him as a “theatrical leader,” a “showman,” “insane” or worse, President Chavez left a substantial legacy of progress in his country. Over the last decade in Venezuela, poverty fell by over 20 percent, income inequality is down over 2 percent as measured on the Gini index, the unemployment rate was halved, medical services have been expanded to communities that never before had even a clinic, and the country has been recognized as a leader in providing free internet access for its citizens.
This has been accomplished as a result of President Chavez’s enlightened leadership, which has created a government that invests 60 percent of its income in social programs for the benefit of its population, instead of for the benefit of the moneyed elite. At the funeral, Reverend Jesse Jackson eulogized him, saying, “Hugo fed the hungry. He lifted the poor. He raised their hopes. He helped them realize their dreams.”
Among his list of humanitarian programs was providing free heating oil to poor Americans who could not afford the high prices charged by the price-gouging US oil companies. Initiated in 2005 after the dismal failure of the Bush administration to help victims of hurricane Katrina, the program, which helps some 400,000 people, is a lifeline for the retired, elderly and those who otherwise would have to depend on the poorly funded LIEAP (Low Income Energy Assistance Program) that has been subject to 25% budget cuts by the Obama administration.
When torrential rains in late 2010 left over 130,000 Venezuelans homeless, President Chavez responded with an initiative named the Great Housing Mission whose goal is to provide 2 million affordable housing units for needy families within seven years. With almost 300,000 units already under construction, the program is diametrically opposed to the US response to the 2008 financial crisis, which provided bailouts to prop up the same financial institutions that caused the foreclosure flood in the first place by their predatory lending practices and unethical trading in mortgage-backed bonds and derivatives.
In short, President Chavez wisely invested in his fellow citizens while Obama greedily invested in his fellow bankers.
The wisdom of President Chavez’s economic policies can be judged by the results: Despite a lagging world economy, Venezuela has posted 8 successive quarters of GDP growth with the last quarter of 2012 at an enviable 5.2 percent; unemployment continues to fall as minimum wages have risen every year; and the oil sector grew at a rate of 1.6 percent while the construction, finance, transportation, community services/non profits, and communications sectors all grew at rates exceeding that of the GDP.
Again, compare these statistics with the abysmal record of the United States, whose 2012 4th quarter GDP grew a sickly 0.1 percent, with 12 out of 22 industrial sectors contributing to the “slowdown” led by retail trade and durable goods, and whose people are suffering from a 4-percent decline in their disposable income in January 2013. In stark contrast to the otherwise pathetic US economy is the 2012 3rd quarter $68.1-billion increase in profits of US financial corporations, which are still doing quite well, judging by the record highs on Wall Street.
President Chavez leaves a country behind that proudly sets the standard for other countries when it comes to holding fair and transparent democratic elections. The most recent presidential election on October 7, 2012 was witnessed by a team of 245 lawyers, election officials, academics and elected representatives from around the world, and saw a voter turnout of over 80 percent. The Venezuelan electoral system, praised for its “professionalism and technical expertise,” boasts sophisticated voting machines that identify voters by fingerprinting which must coincide with the individual’s identity number, thereby practically eliminating the possibility of election fraud.
While the US struggles to pass sensible reforms to its all too permissive gun ownership laws, Venezuela under President Chavez destroyed over 50,000 seized firearms in 2012. He also instituted the “Venezuela Full of Life” program, which imposed a one-year ban on the importing of firearms and ammunition, in order to enhance the safety and security of the citizenry. Organized under the Chavez administration in 2009, the Bolivarian National Police has played a leading role in public safety, crime prevention and community engagement.
Another notable accomplishment by President Chavez is the inclusion of the rights of indigenous people under the Venezuelan constitution. Ratified in 1999, Article 119 states:
“The State recognizes the existence of native peoples and communities, their social, political and economic organization, their cultures, practices and customs, languages and religions, as well as their habitat and original rights to the lands they ancestrally and traditionally occupy, and which are necessary to develop and guarantee their way of life.”
Additionally, indigenous people are guaranteed representation in the Venezuelan National Assembly, while in the US, Native peoples are excluded from representation by Article 1 Section 2 of the constitution, which only apportions full personhood to free “persons,” meaning whites.
President Chavez worked hard to gain the passage of comprehensive labor laws that protect the rights of workers. The new law signed on May 1, 2012 includes provisions prohibiting the unjust dismissal of workers, requiring the payment of severance pay to the employee regardless of the reason for termination of employment, and empowering the Labor Ministry to impose sanctions on businesses that violate the law.
Additionally, discrimination based on nationality, sexual orientation, membership in a labor union, prior criminal record, or any type of handicap is prohibited. Compare this to US labor law, where draconian “Right to Work” laws undermine employees’ ability to organize, and “At Will” employment practices allow an employer to fire an employee for virtually any reason. Of course there are restrictions, but the legal burden of proof is upon the employee who rarely can afford proper legal representation.
Hugo Chavez was a visionary: a rare leader who cared about his people and envisioned a prosperous society in which all could share in the benefits, not just an exclusive few. President Chavez has left this world, but his legacy remains with us. It is now up to us – those of us who share his noble dream of a just society and are willing to struggle for it – to fight on until the last link in the oppressive chain of imperialistic capitalism is broken.
The late Venezuelan president’s Bolívarian revolution has been crucial to a wider Latin American philosophy
Hugo Chávez. RIP.
The Commandante is dead but the Revolution continues. If there is an afterlife then Chavez is in Valhalla.
He wrote, he read, and mostly he spoke. Hugo Chávez, whose death has been announced, was devoted to the word. He spoke publicly an average of 40 hours per week. As president, he didn’t hold regular cabinet meetings; he’d bring the many to a weekly meeting, broadcast live on radio and television. Aló, Presidente, the programme in which policies were outlined and discussed, had no time limits, no script and no teleprompter. One session included an open discussion of healthcare in the slums of Caracas, rap, a self-critical examination of Venezuelans being accustomed to the politics of oil money and expecting the president to be a magician, a friendly exchange with a delegation from Nicaragua and a less friendly one with a foreign journalist.
Nicaragua is one of Venezuela’s allies in Alba, the organisation constituted at Chávez’s initiative to counter neoliberalism in the region, alongside Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia. It has now acquired a life of its own having invited a number of Caribbean countries and Mexico to join, with Vietnam as an observer. It will be a most enduring legacy, a concrete embodiment of Chávez’s words and historical vision. The Bolívarian revolution has been crucial to the wider philosophy shared and applied by many Latin American governments. Its aim is to overcome global problems through local and regional interventions by engaging with democracy and the state in order to transform the relation between these and the people, rather than withdrawing from the state or trying to destroy it.
Because of this shared view Brazilians, Uruguayans and Argentinians perceived Chávez as an ally, not an anomaly, and supported the inclusion of Venezuela in their Mercosur alliance. Chávez’s Social Missions, providing healthcare and literacy to formerly excluded people while changing their life and political outlook, have proven the extent of such a transformative view. It could be compared to the levelling spirit of a kind of new New Deal combined with a model of social change based on popular and communal organisation.
The facts speak for themselves: the percentage of households in poverty fell from 55% in 1995 to 26.4% in 2009. When Chávez was sworn into office unemployment was 15%, in June 2009 it was 7.8%. Compare that to current unemployment figures in Europe. In that period Chávez won 56% of the vote in 1998, 60% in 2000, survived a coup d’état in 2002, got over 7m votes in 2006 and secured 54.4% of the vote last October. He was a rare thing, almost incomprehensible to those in the US and Europe who continue to see the world through the Manichean prism of the cold war: an avowed Marxist who was also an avowed democrat. To those who think the expression of the masses should have limited or no place in the serious business of politics all the talking and goings on in Chávez’s meetings were anathema, proof that he was both fake and a populist. But to the people who tuned in and participated en masse, it was politics and true democracy not only for the sophisticated, the propertied or the lettered.
All this talking and direct contact meant the constant reaffirmation of a promise between Chávez and the people of Venezuela. Chávez had discovered himself not by looking within, but by looking outside into the shameful conditions of Latin Americans and their past. He discovered himself in the promise of liberation made by Bolívar. “On August 1805,” wrote Chávez, Bolívar “climbed the Monte Sacro near Rome and made a solemn oath.” Like Bolívar, Chávez swore to break the chains binding Latin Americans to the will of the mighty. Within his lifetime, the ties of dependency and indirect empire have loosened. From the river Plate to the mouths of the Orinoco river, Latin America is no longer somebody else’s backyard. That project of liberation has involved thousands of men and women pitched into one dramatic battle after another, like the coup d’état in 2002 or the confrontation with the US-proposed Free Trade Zone of the Americas. These were won, others were lost.
The project remains incomplete. It may be eternal and thus the struggle will continue after Chávez is gone. But whatever the future may hold, the peoples of the Americas will fight to salvage the present in which they have regained a voice. In Venezuela, they put Chávez back into the presidency after the coup. This was the key event in Chávez’s political life, not the military rebellion or the first electoral victory. Something changed within him at that point: his discipline became ironclad, his patience invincible and his politics clearer. For all the attention paid to the relation between Chávez and Castro, the lesser known fact is that Chávez’s political education owes more to another Marxist president who was also an avowed democrat: Chile’s Salvador Allende. “Like Allende, we’re pacifists and democrats,” he once said. “Unlike Allende, we’re armed.”
The lesson drawn by Chávez from the defeat of Allende in 1973 is crucial. Some, like the far right and the state-linked paramilitary of Colombia would love to see Chavismo implode, and wouldn’t hesitate to sow chaos across borders. The support of the army and the masses of Venezuela will decide the fate of the Bolívarian revolution, and the solidarity of powerful and sympathetic neighbours like Brazil. Nobody wants instability now that Latin America is finally standing up for itself. In his final days Chávez emphasised the need to build communal power and promoted some of his former critics associated with the journal Comuna. The revolution will not be rolled back. Unlike his admired Bolívar, Chávez did not plough the seas.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez‘s death is not likely to result in near-term changes to the Venezuelan oil industry or global energy landscape, but it could ultimately result in political change that would reopen the country’s energy industry to foreign investment.
As news of Chavez’s death swept through IHS CERAWeek, the world’s largest conference for energy executives, in Houston on Tuesday afternoon, participants flocked to televisions, looking for news on the political future of a country that has the second largest oil reserves in the world.
“It’s too soon to say what Hugo Chavez’s death means for oil prices,” said IHS Vice Chair Daniel Yergin. “But it is certainly true that oil prices are what made Hugo Chavez possible,” as the collapse of oil prices in the late 1990s “gave him the opening to become president” and rising oil prices since 2000 “gave him the financial resources to consolidate power.”
Analysts and attendees at the Houston energy conference said it was unclear what would happen after the country holds an election for a new president. For now, Venezuela’s Vice President Nicolas Maduro is in charge and the country’s army chiefs are reported to be supporting him.
“Without (Chavez’s) charisma and force of character, it is not all clear how his successors will maintain the system he created,” Yergin said
Among the major integrated oil companies, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil could stand to benefit greatly from regime change in Venezuela, if the new leadership allows overseas oil companies to return, analysts said.
The nationalization of Venezuela’s oil industry in 2007 resulted in the exit of those two companies who were unable to reach a new agreement with the state-owned oil company PDVSA.
Too Early to Tell
“It’s too early to tell how the new leader will handle it, but ConocoPhillips could benefit the most,” said Fadel Gheit, senior oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co.
ConocoPhillips was the biggest foreign stakeholder in Venezuela at the time of nationalization and could benefit greatly from regaining its former assets, Gheit said, adding: “The book value of assets that were confiscated was $4.5 billion (at the time.) The market value is now $20 to $30 billion… ConocoPhillips could eventually see a net gain of $10 billion.”
But that assumes ConocoPhillips would want to return to the country. Venezuela’s economic problems extend beyond the oil business. “It really much depends on what kind of government will follow Chavez,” said Enrique Sira, IHS senior research director for Latin America.
“The only thing for sure is the fact that the industry is in very poor condition — upstream, downstream, power, and distribution. Electricity has to be rationed. It has a gas deficit that’s been running for years and the country doesn’t produce anywhere near what it could produce,” Sira said. (Read More: Venezuela Vote, Post-Chavez, Next Risk for Oil)
ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance, who spoke Tuesday morning at the Houston energy conference prior to news of Chavez’s death, noted how the global energy landscape has changed dramatically.
“The new landscape is like someone picked up the energy world and tilted it,” he said, as countries with great demand for energy and those with ample supplies has changed. The U.S. is now exporting more of its natural resources than ever before, he said. Those exports include shipping record supplies of US gasoline to Venezuela. Meanwhile Venezuela oil exports to the U.S. are on the decline.
Sira said Venezuela could produce as much as 6 to 9 million barrels of oil a day but now it’s probably less than 2.5 million barrels. He said oil production peaked in the early year at 3.3 million barrels. (Read More: Why Venezuela’s World-Beating Oil Reserves Are ‘Irrelevant’)
Venezuela ranked fourth in oil imports to the U.S. last year at 906,000 barrels per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). But crude oil imports from Venezuela have been declining steadily since 2004, when they peaked at 1.3 million barrels per day.
Venezuela’s refineries are also in such poor shape that it has to import gasoline and diesel from the U.S. In December, Venezuela imported a record 197,000 barrels per day of petroleum products from the U.S., according to EIA data.
In the short-run, oil prices may not be greatly impacted by regime change in Venezuela since for now the flow of oil from Venezuela to the U.S. and domestic fuel imports to the South American country are likely to continue current trends, said Houston-based energy analyst Andy Lipow. “We both need each other.”
Dismissed by anti-Chavezites. Regularly shown on Venezuelan telly.
At first, the president’s staff treated the filmmakers with suspicion and made filming difficult. After numerous delays, Bartley and Ó Briain finally got through to Chávez. They calculated that they needed to “press the right buttons” to gain his support, so they presented him with an old edition of the memoirs of [Cork-born] Daniel Florence O’Leary, who had fought alongside Simón Bolívar. Inside, they had written a quote from the Irish socialist playwright Seán O’Casey. Slowly, Bartley and Ó Briain gained their subjects’ trust, “dissolving any self-consciousness as a result of their cameras”.
Watch the full documentary here:
Vaya con Dios, Hugo Chàvez, mi Amigo
By Greg Palast
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
For BBC Television, Palast met several times with Hugo Chàvez, who passed away today.
As a purgative for the crappola fed to Americans about Chavez, my foundation, The Palast Investigative Fund, is offering the film, The Assassination of Hugo Chavez, as a FREE download. Based on my several meetings with Chavez, his kidnappers and his would-be assassins, filmed for BBC Television.
Reverend Pat Robertson said,
“Hugo Chavez thinks we’re trying to assassinate him. I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.”
It was 2005 and Robertson was channeling the frustration of George Bush’s State Department. Despite Bush’s providing intelligence, funds and even a note of congratulations to the crew who kidnapped Chavez (we’ll get there), Hugo remained in office, reelected and wildly popular.
But why the Bush regime’s hate, hate, HATE of the President of Venezuela?
Reverend Pat wasn’t coy about the answer: It’s the oil.
“This is a dangerous enemy to our South controlling a huge pool of oil.”
A really BIG pool of oil. Indeed, according to Guy Caruso, former chief of oil intelligence for the CIA, Venezuela hold a recoverable reserve of 1.36 trillion barrels, that is, a whole lot more than Saudi Arabia.
If we didn’t kill Chavez, we’d have to do an “Iraq” on his nation. So the Reverend suggests,
“We don’t need another $200 billion war….It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.”
Chavez himself told me he was stunned by Bush’s attacks: Chavez had been quite chummy with Bush Senior and with Bill Clinton.
So what made Chavez suddenly “a dangerous enemy”? Here’s the answer you won’t find in The New York Times:
Just after Bush’s inauguration in 2001, Chavez’ congress voted in a new “Law of Hydrocarbons.” Henceforth, Exxon, British Petroleum, Shell Oil and Chevron would get to keep 70% of the sales revenues from the crude they sucked out of Venezuela. Not bad, considering the price of oil was rising toward $100 a barrel.
But to the oil companies, which had bitch-slapped Venezeula’s prior government into giving them 84% of the sales price, a cut to 70% was “no bueno.” Worse, Venezuela had been charging a joke of a royalty – just one percent – on “heavy” crude from the Orinoco Basin. Chavez told Exxon and friends they’d now have to pay 16.6%.
Clearly, Chavez had to be taught a lesson about the etiquette of dealings with Big Oil.
On April 11, 2002, President Chavez was kidnapped at gunpoint and flown to an island prison in the Caribbean Sea. On April 12, Pedro Carmona, a business partner of the US oil companies and president of the nation’s Chamber of Commerce, declared himself President of Venezuela – giving a whole new meaning to the term, “corporate takeover.”
U.S. Ambassador Charles Shapiro immediately rushed down from his hilltop embassy to have his picture taken grinning with the self-proclaimed “President” and the leaders of the coup d’état.
Bush’s White House spokesman admitted that Chavez was, “democratically elected,” but, he added, “Legitimacy is something that is conferred not by just the majority of voters.” I see.
With an armed and angry citizenry marching on the Presidential Palace in Caracas ready to string up the coup plotters, Carmona, the Pretend President from Exxon returned his captive Chavez back to his desk within 48 hours. (How? Get The Assassination of Hugo Chavez, the film, expanding on my reports for BBC Television. You can download it for free for the next few days.)
Chavez had provoked the coup not just by clawing back some of the bloated royalties of the oil companies. It’s what he did with that oil money that drove Venezuela’s One Percent to violence.
In Caracas, I ran into the reporter for a TV station whose owner is generally credited with plotting the coup against the president. While doing a publicity photo shoot, leaning back against a tree, showing her wide-open legs nearly up to where they met, the reporter pointed down the hill to the “ranchos,” the slums above Caracas, where shacks, once made of cardboard and tin, where quickly transforming into homes of cinder blocks and cement.
“He [Chavez] gives them bread and bricks, so they vote for him, of course.” She was disgusted by “them,” the 80% of Venezuelans who are negro e indio (Black and Indian)—and poor. Chavez, himself negro e indio, had, for the first time in Venezuela’s history, shifted the oil wealth from the privileged class that called themselves “Spanish,” to the dark-skinned masses.
While trolling around the poor housing blocks of Caracas, I ran into a local, Arturo Quiran, a merchant seaman and no big fan of Chavez. But over a beer at his kitchen table, he told me,
“Fifteen years ago under [then-President] Carlos Andrés Pérez, there was a lot of oil money in Venezuela. The ‘oil boom’ we called it. Here in Venezuela there was a lot of money, but we didn’t see it.”
But then came Hugo Chavez, and now the poor in his neighborhood, he said, “get medical attention, free operations, x-rays, medicines; education also. People who never knew how to write now know how to sign their own papers.”
Chavez’ Robin Hood thing, shifting oil money from the rich to the poor, would have been grudgingly tolerated by the US. But Chavez, who told me, “We are no longer an oil colony,” went further…too much further, in the eyes of the American corporate elite.
Venezuela had landless citizens by the millions – and unused land by the millions of acres tied up, untilled, on which a tiny elite of plantation owners squatted. Chavez’ congress passed in a law in 2001 requiring untilled land to be sold to the landless. It was a program long promised by Venezuela’s politicians at the urging of John F. Kennedy as part of his “Alliance for Progress.”
Plantation owner Heinz Corporation didn’t like that one bit. In retaliation, Heinz closed its ketchup plant in the state of Maturin and fired all the workers. Chavez seized Heinz’ plant and put the workers back on the job. Chavez didn’t realize that he’d just squeezed the tomatoes of America’s powerful Heinz family and Mrs. Heinz’ husband, Senator John Kerry, now U.S. Secretary of State.
Or, knowing Chavez as I do, he didn’t give a damn.
Chavez could survive the ketchup coup, the Exxon “presidency,” even his taking back a piece of the windfall of oil company profits, but he dangerously tried the patience of America’s least forgiving billionaires: The Koch Brothers.
How? Well, that’s another story for another day. [Watch this space. Or read about it in the book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits. Go to BallotBandits.org).
Elected presidents who annoy Big Oil have ended up in exile—or coffins: Mossadegh of Iran after he nationalized BP’s fields (1953), Elchibey, President of Azerbaijan, after he refused demands of BP for his Caspian fields (1993), President Alfredo Palacio of Ecuador after he terminated Occidental’s drilling concession (2005).
“It’s a chess game, Mr. Palast,” Chavez told me. He was showing me a very long, and very sharp sword once owned by Simon Bolivar, the Great Liberator. “And I am,” Chavez said, “a very good chess player.”
In the film The Seventh Seal, a medieval knight bets his life on a game of chess with the Grim Reaper. Death cheats, of course, and takes the knight. No mortal can indefinitely outplay Death who, this week, Chavez must know, will checkmate the new Bolivar of Venezuela.
But in one last move, the Bolivarian grandmaster played a brilliant endgame, naming Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, as good and decent a man as they come, as heir to the fight for those in the “ranchos.” The One Percent of Venezuela, planning on Chavez’s death to return them the power and riches they couldn’t win in an election, are livid with the choice of Maduro.
Chavez sent Maduro to meet me in my downtown New York office back in 2004. In our run-down detective digs on Second Avenue, Maduro and I traded information on assassination plots and oil policy.
Even then, Chavez was carefully preparing for the day when Venezuela’s negros e indios would lose their king—but still stay in the game.
Class war on a chessboard. Even in death, I wouldn’t bet against Hugo Chavez.
The emails also leave the reader in no doubt about whom these people are helping the Venezuelan right-wing opposition: “to answer your question, the US networks are definitely involved. I cannot confirm for you if that specific gentleman is involved, but the usual establishments are”.
Edited from a piece by Paul Dobson, writing in a personal capacity, Venezuela, Feb 2013
This week Wikileaks published over 40,000 secret documents regarding Venezuela, which show the clear hand of the US in efforts to topple the progressive government of the popular and democratically elected leader Hugo Chavez.
The documents, which date from July 2004 to December 2011 and which were published through Wikileaks twitter account @wikileaks and are now available on Wikileaks Global Intelligence Files online, are based on emails taken from the private US-based intelligence company, Stratfor.
This company claims to provide analysis for multinational corporations looking to invest in Venezuela, and uses a number of local sources to develop their reports. However, their emails prove that their motives and objectives are far from independent, and they are working as an intelligence and strategy agency for those looking to develop suitable political conditions for both economic exploitation and intervention in the country.
Wikileaks describes Stratfor as “a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency”.
“The emails”, Wikileaks goes on to explain, “show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods”.
The leaked emails cover a range of issues, but concentrate on the energy sector, especially petrochemicals and oil; political change and the state of the right-wing forces within Venezuela; and the state of the military and armed forces. They also touch on Venezuela’s relations with Cuba, China, Russia, and Iran, as well as providing bleak projections of the economy and future of the financial sector.
The firm’s emails are listed with the addresses of the sender and receiver, as well as mentioning, amongst other things, the reliability of the source from which they take the information. One email, which exposes the political requisites for reliability, according to Stratfor, uses a source described as a “Venezuelan economist in Caracas” who is described as having “source reliability: B (solidly anti-Chavez)”.
The emails mention meetings with, and biographies of, various prominent Venezuelan right-wing opposition leaders, such as Antonio Ledezma (Mayor of Caracas), Henrique Capriles (the Presidential candidate defeated by Hugo Chavez last year) and Leopoldo Lopez, as well as right wing media tycoon Rafael Poleo: “I spoke to Rafael Poleo [a very prominent Venezuelan
political analyst] a couple of days ago” reports one source. Such naming’s complete the link between right-wing anti-Chavez activities in Venezuela and US/external ambitions in the country.
The emails to and from the Stratfor staff mention various political events during the period, but focus on the student protests of 2009-2010 when right-wing student based opposition sectors manipulated for political ends the power cuts bought about by the worst drought in 100 years which left the hydro-based energy system completely dried up. They also address the
RCTV protests following the rejection of the application to renew the license of the right wing TV channel after they backed the 2002 coup d’état and publically called for the assignation of elected President Chavez.
The emails make frequent reference to a Serbia-based right wing policy group called CANVAS (Center for Applied Non Violent Action and Strategies).Here, there are numerous Word documents sent amongst the emails, many of which are classed as “not for publication” and which detail the steps recommended to enact a “revolution” which would see Hugo Chavez thrown out of power.
One is indeed referred to as “a how-to guide for revolution”. They go on to class Venezuelan people as “retarded” and who “talk out of their ass”. The country is, according to CANVAS, “absolutely a joke”.
CANVAS explains clearly their recommended strategy for toppling governments: “when somebody asks us for help, as in Vene case, we usually ask them the question ‘and how would you do it’. That means that the first thing is to create a situational analysis (the word doc I sent you) and after that comes “Mission Statement” (still left to be done) and then “Operational Concept”, which is the plan for campaign” explain CANVAS to Stratfor. “For this case we have three campaigns: unification of opposition, campaign for September elections and parallel with that a “get out and vote” campaign”.
Referring to destabilisation plans, CANVAS go on to state that “we only give them the tools to use”.
Making reference to the opposition alliance of parties, they further state that “in Venezuela’s case, because of the complete disaster that the place is, because of suspicion between opposition groups and disorganization, we have to do the initial analysis. Whether they go on to next steps really depends on them, in other words depends on whether they will become aware that because of a lack of UNITY they can lose the race before it has started”.
“This year we are definitely ramping up activity in Venezuela” they write. Referring to the 2010 Parliamentary elections, the explain that “they have elections in September and we are in close connection with activists from there and people trying to help them (please keep this to yourself for now, no publication). The first phase of our preparation is under way”.
The emails also leave the reader in no doubt about whom these people are helping the Venezuelan right-wing opposition: “to answer your question, the US networks are definitely involved. I cannot confirm for you if that specific gentleman is involved, but the usual establishments are”.
Other emails contains various attached files which provide rundowns of the exact status of the Venezuelan army, air force and navy, including numbers, equipment, and expertise.
“(We) will be sending along more info soon on the whole rundown of how Chavez has revamped the military/security apparatus over the past several years” states the sender. “It’s all scribbled on paper right now from my notes, but gotta say, I’m quite impressed with ‘ol Hugo”.
The fully detailed documents explain that “the army’s reform has stretched beyond the procurement of new assault and sniper rifles and now comprises of a modernized doctrine too. New concepts include asymmetric warfare and reliance on the country’s communication and supply infrastructure as well as popular support to resist a large scale US invasion”.