D'Etat Rumblings In Venezuela
By Stephen Lendman
19 November, 2007
Bush administration tried and failed three prior times to oust Hugo
Chavez since its first aborted two-day coup attempt in April, 2002.
Through FOIA requests, lawyer, activist and author Eva Golinger uncovered
top secret CIA documents of US involvement that included an intricate
financing scheme involving the quasi-governmental agency, National Endowment
of Democracy (NED), and US Agency for International Development (USAID).
The documents also showed the White House, State Department and National
Security Agency had full knowledge of the scheme, had to have approved
it, and there's little doubt of CIA involvement as it's always part
of this kind of dirty business. What's worrying now is what went on
then may be happening again in what looks like a prelude to a fourth
made-in-Washington attempt to oust the Venezuelan leader that must be
monitored closely as events develop.
Since he took office in February,
1999, and especially after George Bush's election, Chavez has been a
US target, and this time he believes credible sources point to a plot
to assassinate him. That information comes from Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh,
president of the Hugo Chavez International-Foundation for Peace, Friendship
& Solidarity (HCI-FPFS) in a November 11 press release. Sankoh supports
Chavez as "a man of peace and flamboyant champion of human dignity
(who persists in his efforts in spite of) growing US blackmail, sabotage
and political blasphemy."
HCI-FPFS sources revealed
the plot's code name - "Operation Cleanse Venezuela" that
now may be unfolding ahead of the December 2 referendum on constitutional
reforms. According to Sankoh, the scheme sounds familiar - CIA and other
foreign secret service operatives (including anti-Castro terrorists)
aiming to destabilize the Chavez government by using "at least
three concrete subversive plans" to destroy the country's social
democracy and kill Chavez.
It involves infiltrating
subversive elements into the country, inciting opposition within the
military, ordering region-based US forces to shoot down any aircraft
used by Chavez, employing trained snipers with shoot to kill orders,
and having the dominant US and Venezuelan media act as supportive attack
dogs. Chavez is targeted because he represents the greatest of all threats
to US hegemony in the region - a good example that's spreading. Venezuela
also has Latin America's largest proved oil reserves at a time supplies
are tight and prices are at all-time highs.
Sankoh calls Washington-directed
threats "real" and to "be treated seriously" to
avoid extending Bush's Middle East adventurism to Latin America. He
calls for support from the region and world community to denounce the
scheme and help stop another Bush administration regime change attempt.
More information on a possible
coup plot also came from a November 13 Party for Socialism and Liberation
article headlined "New US plots against the Venezuelan Revolution."
It states Tribuna Popular (the Communist Party of Venezuela) and Prensa
Latina (the Latin American News Agency) reported: "Between Oct.
7 and Oct 9, high-ranking US officials met in Prague, Czech Republic,
with parts of the Venezuelan opposition (where they were) urged to convene
social uprisings, sabotage the economy and infrastructure, destroy the
food transportation chain and plan a military coup." It said Paul
Wolfowitz and Madeleine Albright attended along with Humberto Celli,
"a well-known coup-plotter from the Venezuelan party Accion Democratica."
The article further reported
Tibisay Lucena, The National Electoral Council chairman, said the Venezuelan
corporate media was "stoking a mood of violence amongst right-wing
students" through a campaign of agitprop, and Hermann Escarra from
the "pro-coup" Comando Nacional de la Resistencia openly incited
"rebellion" last August and then called for constitutional
changes to be stopped "through all means possible."
The Venezuelan news agency,
Diaria VEA, also weighed in saying "anonymous students planned
on committing acts of destabilization" as the December 2 vote approaches.
Venezuelan Radio Trans Mundial provided proof with a recorded video
of a youth dumping gasoline into an armored vehicle, ramming metal barricades
into police on top of other vehicles, and knocking them from their roofs
and hoods onto the ground.
The Threat of Street
For weeks, protests with
sporadic violence have been on Venezuela's streets as anti-Chavistas
use middle and upper class students as imperial tools to destabilize
the government and disrupt the constitutional process. The aim is to
discredit and oust the Chavez government and return the country to its
ugly past with Washington and local oligarchs in charge and the neoliberal
Venezuela's Foreign Minister,
Nicolas Maduro, weighed in on this on November 8. He accused Washington
of meddling by staging violent Caracas street protests against proposed
constitutional reforms to extend the country's participatory social
democracy. Referring to a November 7 shootout at Caracas' Central University,
he said: "We don't have any doubt that the government of the United
States has their hands in the scheme that led to the ambush yesterday"
that Chavez calls a "fascist offensive." Several students
were wounded on the streets from a clash between pro and anti-Chavez
"We know the whole scheme,"
Maduro added, and he should as it happened before in 2002, again during
the disruptive 2002-03 oil management lockout, and most often as well
when elections are held to disrupt the democratic process. These are
standard CIA operating tactics used many times before for 50 years in
the Agency's efforts to topple independent leaders and kill them. Chavez
understands what's happening, and he's well briefed and alerted by his
ally, Fidel Castro, who survived over 600 US attempts to kill him since
1959. He's now 81 and very much alive but going through a difficult
recovery from major surgery 15 months ago.
Chavez has widespread popular
support throughout the region and from allies like Ecuador's Raphael
Correa and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega who expressed his "solidarity
with the revolutionary people of Venezuela and our friend Hugo Chavez,
who is being subjected to aggression from a counterrevolution fed by
the traitors from inside the country and by the empire (referring to
the US)." He compared the situation to his own country where similar
efforts are being "financed by the United States Embassy"
in Managua to support elements opposed to his Sandinista government
even though it's very accommodative to Washington.
Even Brazil's Lula chimed
in by calling Chavez's proposed reforms consistent with Venezuela's
democratic norms, and he added: "Please, invent anything to criticize
Chavez, except for lack of democracy."
As A Pretext for Protests
Washington's goal from all
this is clear, but why now? Last July, Chavez announced he'd be sending
Venezuela's National Assembly (AN) a proposed list of constitutional
reforms to debate, consider and vote on. Under Venezuelan law, the President,
National Assembly or 15% of registered voters (by petition) may propose
constitutional changes. Under articles 342, 343, 344 and 345, they must
then be debated three times in the legislature, amended if needed, and
then submitted to a vote that requires a two-thirds majority to pass.
Finally within 30 days, the public gets the last word, up or down, in
a national referendum. It represents the true spirit of democracy that's
unimaginable in the US where elitists control everything, elections
are a sham, and the people have no say.
That was true for Venezuela
earlier, but no longer. In its history, there have been 26 Constitutions
since its first in 1821, but none like the 1999 Bolivarian one under
Chavez that's worlds apart from the others. It created a model participatory
social democracy that gave all citizens the right to vote it up or down
by national referendum and then empowered them (or the government) later
on to petition for change.
On August 15, Chavez did
that by submitting 33 suggested amendment reforms to the Constitution's
350 articles and explained it this way: The 1999 Constitution needed
updating because it's "ambiguous (and) a product of that moment.
The world (today) is very different from (then). (Reforms are) essential
for continuing the process of revolutionary transition" to deepen
and broaden Venezuelan democracy. That's his central aim - to create
a "new geometry of power" for the people along with more government
accountability to them.
Proposed reforms will have
little impact on the nation's fundamental political structure. They
will, however, change laws with regard to politics, the economy, property,
the military, the national territory as well as the culture and society
and will deepen the country's social democracy.
The National Assembly (AN)
completed its work on November 2 adding 25 additional articles to Chavez's
proposal plus another 11 changes for a total of 69 articles that amend
one-fifth of the nation's Constitution. The most important ones include:
-- extending existing constitutional
law that guarantees human rights and recognizes the country's social
and cultural diversity;
-- building a "social
economy" to replace the failed neoliberal Washington Consensus
-- officially prohibiting
monopolies and unjust consolidation of economic resources;
-- extending presidential
terms from six to seven years;
-- allowing unlimited presidential
reelections so that option is "the sovereign decision of the constituent
people of Venezuela" and is a similar to the political process
in countries like England, France, Germany and Australia;
-- strengthening grassroots
communal councils, increasing their funding, and promoting more of them;
-- lowering the eligible
voting age from 18 to 16;
-- guaranteeing free university
education to the highest level;
-- prohibiting foreign funding
of elections and political activity;
-- reducing the work week
to 36 hours to promote more employment;
-- ending the autonomy of
Venezuela's Central Bank to reclaim the country's financial sovereignty
the way it should be everywhere; today nearly all central banks are
controlled by private for-profit banking cartels; Republican presidential
candidate Ron Paul wants to end that status in the US and correctly
explains the Federal Reserve Bank is neither federal nor does it have
reserves; it's owned and run by Wall Street and the major banks;
-- adding new forms of collective
property under five categories: public for the state, social for citizens,
collective for people or social groups, mixed for public and private,
and private for individuals or private entities;
-- territorial redefinition
to distribute resources more equitably to communities instead of being
used largely by economic and political elites;
-- prohibiting sexual orientation
discrimination and enacting gender parity rights for political candidates;
-- redefining the military
as an "anti-imperialist popular entity;"
-- in cases where property
is appropriated for the public good, fair and timely compensation to
be paid for it;
-- protecting the loss of
one's home in cases of bankruptcy; and
-- enacting social security
protection for the self-employed.
The National Assembly also
approved 15 important transitional dispositions. They relate to how
constitutional changes will be implemented if approved until laws are
passed to regulate them. One provision is for the legislature to pass
15 so-called "organic laws" that include the following ones:
-- a law on "popular
power" to govern grassroots communal councils (that may number
50,000 by year end) that Chavez called "one of the central ideas....to
open, at the constitutional level, the roads to accelerate the transfer
of power to the people (in an) Explosion of Communal (or popular) Power;"
five percent of state revenues will be set aside to fund it;
-- another promoting a socialist
economy for the 21st century that Chavez champions even though he remains
friendly to business; and
-- one relating to the country's
territorial organization; plus others on education, a shorter workweek
and more democratic changes.
Under Venezuelan law, and
in the true spirit of democracy, these proposed changes will be for
citizens to vote up or down on December 2. The process will be in two
parts reversing an earlier decision to do it as one package, yea or
nay. One part will be Chavez's 33 reforms plus 13 National Assembly
additions, and the other for the remaining 23 articles.
Coup D'Etat Rumblings
Must Be Taken Seriously
Now battle lines are drawn,
opposition forces are mobilized and events are playing out violently
on Venezuela's streets. The worst so far was on November 7 when CNN
falsely reported "80,000" anti-Chavez students demonstrated
"peacefully" in Caracas to denounce "Hugo Chavez's attempts
to expand his power." The actual best estimates put it between
2000 and 10,000, and long-time Latin American expert James Petras calls
the protesters "privileged middle and upper middle class university
students," once again being used as an imperial tool.
In their anti-government
zeal, CNN and other dominant media ignore the many pro-Chavez events
writer Fred Fuentes calls a "red hurricane" sweeping the country.
An impressive one was held on November 4 when the President addressed
hundreds of thousands of supporters who participated in an 8.5 kilometer
Caracas march while similar pro-reform rallies took place at the same
time around the country. They're the start of a "yes" campaign
for a large December 2 turnout that's vital as polls show strong pro-reform
support by a near two to one margin.
In an effort to defuse it,
orchestrated opposition turned violent and officials reported eight
people were injured in the November 7 incident. No one was killed, but
one was wounded by gunfire when at least "four (masked) gunmen
(who looked like provocateur plants, not students) fir(ed) handguns
at the anti-Chavez crowd." In an earlier October demonstration,
opposition students clashed with police who kept them from reaching
the National Assembly building and a direct confrontation with pro-Chavez
supporters that might have turned ugly.
It did on November 7 when
violence erupted between pro and anti-government students, but it wasn't
as reported. Venezuelan and US corporate media claimed pro-Chavez supporters
initiated the attack. In fact, they WERE attacked by elements opposing
the President. They seized this time to act ahead of the referendum
to disrupt it and destabilize the government as prelude to a possible
One pro-Chavez student explained
what happened. She and others were erecting posters supporting a "yes"
referendum vote when they were attacked with tear gas and crowds yelling
they were going to be lynched. Avila TV had the evidence. Its unedited
footage showed an opposition student mob surrounding the School of Social
Work area where pro-Chavez students hid for safety. They threw Molotov
cocktails, rocks, chairs and other objects, smashed windows, and tried
to burn down the building as university authorities (responsible for
security) stood aside doing nothing to curtail the violence. Another
report was that corporate-owned Univision operatives posing as reporters
had guns and accompanied the elements attacking the school in an overt
act of complicity by the media.
The pattern now unfolding
on Caracas streets is similar to what happened ahead of the April, 2002
aborted coup attempt, and Petras calls it "the most serious threat
(to the President) since" that time. The corporate media then claimed
pro-government supporters instigated street violence and fired on "unarmed"
opposition protesters. In fact, that was later proved a lie as anti-Chavez
"snipers" did the firing as part of the plot that became the
coup. A similar scheme may now be unfolding in Caracas and on other
campuses around the country as well.
In his public comments, Foreign
Minister Maduro accused the major media and CNN of misrepresenting events
and poisoning the political atmosphere. It's happening in Venezuela
and the US as the dominant media attacks Hugo Chavez through a campaign
of vilification and black propaganda.
US Corporate Media
on the Attack
On November 12, The Venezuela
Information Office (VIO) reported that growing numbers of "US print
newspapers lodged attacks against Venezuela" using "outdated
cold-war generalizations" and without explaining any of the proposed
democratic changes. Among others, they came from the Houston Chronicle
-- constitutional reforms
will "eliminate the vestiges of democracy" in Venezuela when,
in fact, they'll strengthen it, and the people will vote them up or
-- Chavez controls the electoral
system when, in fact, Venezuela is a model free, fair and open democracy
that shames its US equivalent. The Chronicle falsely said reforms will
strip people of their right to due process. In fact, that's guaranteed
under article 337 that won't be changed.
VIO also reported on a Los
Angeles Times editorial comparing Chavez to Bin Laden. It compounded
that whopper by claiming reforms will cause a global recession due to
higher oil prices that, of course, have nothing to do with changes in
law. In another piece, the LA Times inverted the truth by falsely claiming
a public majority opposes reforms. Then there's the Miami Herald predicting
an end to freedom of expression if changes pass and the Washington Post
commenting on how high oil prices let Chavez buy influence.
The Post then ran an inflamatory
November 15 editorial headlined "Mr. Chavez's Coup" if which
it lied by saying November 7 student protesters "were fired on
by gunmen (whom) university officials later 'identified'....as members
of government-sponsored 'paramilitary groups' when, in fact, there are
no such groups. The editorial went on to say Chavez wants to "complete
his transformation into an autocrat (to be able to) seize property....dispose
of Venezuela's foreign exchange reserves....impose central government
rule on local jurisdictions and declare indefinite states of emergency"
as well as suspend due process and freedom of information. Again, misinformation,
deliberate distortion and outright lies from a leading quasi-official
US house organ.
Rupert Murdock's Wall Street
Journal weighed in as well with its lead anti-Chavez attack dog and
all-round character assassin extraordinaire, Mary Anastasia O'Grady.
This writer has tangled with her several times before and earlier commented
how one day she'll have a serious back problem because of her rigid
position of genuflection to the most extreme hard-right elements she
supports. Her latest November 12 column was vintage O'Grady and headlined
"More Trouble for Chavez (as) Students and former allies unite
against his latest power grab."
Like most of her others,
this one drips with vitriol and outrageous distortions like calling
Chavez a "dictator" when, in fact, he's a model democrat,
but that's the problem for writers like O'Grady. Absent the facts, they
use agitprop instead. O'Grady writes: "Mr. Chavez has been working
to remove any counterbalances to his power for almost nine years (and)
has met strong resistance from property owners, businesses, labor leaders,
the Catholic Church and the media." Now add opposition well-off
students. Omitted is that the opposition is a minority, it represents
elitist interests, and Chavez has overwhelming public support for his
social democracy and proposed reform changes including from most students
O'Grady calls "pro-Chavez goons."
Once again, she's on a rampage,
but that's her job. She claims the absurd and people believe her - like
saying the media will be censored, civil liberties can be suspended,
and government will be empowered to seize private property. He's a "demagogue,"
says O'Grady, waging "class warfare," but opposition to reform
"has led to increased speculation (his) days are numbered."
Wishing won't make it so, and O'Grady uses that line all the time.
The New York Times is also
on the attack in its latest anti-Chavez crusade. It's been a leading
Chavez critic for years, and Simon Romero is its man in Caracas. On
November 3, he reported "Lawmakers in Venezuela Approve Expanded
Power for Chavez (in a) constitutional overhaul (to) enhance (Chavez's)
authority, (allow) him to be reelected indefinitely, and (give) him
the power to handpick rulers, to be called vice-presidents, (and) for
various new regions to be created in the country....The new amendments
would facilitate expropriations of private property (and allow state)
security forces to round up citizens (stripped of their) legal protections"
if Chavez declares a state of emergency - to make him look like Pakistan's
Musharraf when he's mirror opposite.
Romero also quoted Jose Manuel
Gonzales, president of Venezuela's Fedecamaras (chamber of commerce),
saying "Venezuelan democracy was buried today" and anti-Chavez
Roman Catholic church leaders (always allied with elitists) calling
the changes "morally unacceptable." Then on November 8, Romero
followed with an article titled "Gunmen Attack Opponents of Chavez's
Bid to Extend Power" and implied they were pro-Chavez supporters.
Again false. Still more came on November 10 headlined "Students
Emerge as a Leading Force Against Chavez" in an effort to imply
most students oppose him when, in fact, these elements are a minority.
His latest so far is on November
17 titled "Chavez's Vision Shares Wealth and Centers Power"
that in fairness shows the President addressing a huge crowd of supporters
in Maturin on November 16. But Romero spoiled it by calling his vision
"centralized, oil-fueled socialism (with) Chavez (having) significantly
enhanced powers." Then he quotes Chavez biographer Alberto Barrera
Tyszka who embarrassed himself and Romero saying the President is seizing
and redirecting "power through legitimate means (and this) is not
a dictatorship but something more complex," the 'tyranny' of popularity."
In other words, he's saying democracy is "tyranny." The rest
of the article is just as bad with alternating subtle and hammer blow
attacks against a popular President's aim to deepen his socially democratic
agenda and help his people.
Romero's measured tone outclasses
O'Grady's crudeness that's pretty standard fare on the Journal's notorious
opinion page. He's much more dangerous, however, with a byline in the
influential "newspaper of record" because of the important
audience it commands.
One other notable anti-Chavez
piece is in the November 26 issue of the magazine calling itself "the
capitalist tool" - Forbes. It shows in its one-sided commentary
and intolerance of opposing views. The article in question, headlined
"Latin Sinkholes," is by right wing economist and long-time
flack for empire, Steve Hanke. In it, he aims right at Chavez with outrageous
comments like calling him a "negative reformer (who) turned back
the clock (and) hails Cuba, the largest open-air prison in the Americas,
as his model. His revolution's enemy is the marketplace." He then
cites a World Bank report saying "Venezuela is tied with Zimbabwe
as this year's champion in smothering economic freedom," and compounds
that lie with another whopper.
Point of fact - Venezuela
and Argentina have the highest growth rates in the region and are near
the top of world rankings in recent years. Following the devastating
oil management 2002-03 lockout, Venezuela's economy took off and grew
at double digit rates in 2004, 05 and 06 and will grow a likely 8% this
year. Hanke, however, says "Venezuela's economic performance under
Chavez has been anemic (growing) at an average rate of only 2% per year.
In the same article, he aims in similar fashion at Ecuador's Raphael
Correa calling him "ruthlessly efficient (for wanting to) pull
off a Bolivarian Revolution in Ecuador." Hanke and most others
in the dominant media are of one mind and never let facts contradict
their opinions. Outliers won't be tolerated even when it's proved their
way works best.
There's lots more criticism
like this throughout the dominant media along with commentators calling
Chavez "a dictator, another Hitler (and) a threat to democracy."
Ignoring the rules of imperial management has a price. This type media
assault is part of it as a prelude for what often follows - attempted
Information Office (VIO) Clarification of Facts on the Ground
On November 15, VIO issued
an alert update to dispel media inaccuracies "about Venezuela's
constitutional reforms and the student protests" accompanying them.
They're listed below:
-- Caracas has a student
population of around 200,000; at most 10,000 participated in the largest
protest to date, and VIO estimates it was 6000;
-- the major media ignore
how the government cooperates with students and made various accommodations
to them to be fair to the opposition;
-- Venezuelan police have
protected student protesters, and article 68 of the Constitution requires
they do it; it affirms the right of all Venezuelans to assemble peacefully;
-- in addition, student protest
leaders linked to opposition parties were granted high-level meetings
with government officials to present their concerns;
-- on November 1, their student
representatives met with directors of the National Electoral Council
(CNE) and presented a petition to delay the referendum;
-- on November 7, they again
met with National Tribunal of Justice officials and presented the same
-- on November 12, Minister
of Interior and Justice Minister, Pedro Carreno, met 20 university presidents
to assure them the government respects university autonomy and their
students' right to assemble peacefully;
-- VIO reported what really
happened at another November 1 protest after students met with CNE officials;
some of them then tried to chain themselves to the building while others
charged through police lines and injured six officers; in addition,
one student had 20 liters of gasoline but never got to use it criminally;
after the incident, the CNE president, Tibisay Lucena, issued a public
statement expressing his disappointment about this kind of response
to the government's good faith efforts; and
-- VIO said students and
university presidents from across the nation filed a document with the
Supreme Court on November 14 supporting constitutional reform. Chief
justice Luisa Estela Morales praised their coming and said the court's
doors are open to anyone wanting to give an opinion. The dominant media
reported nothing on this. It also ignored the government's 9000 public
events throughout the country in past weeks to explain and discuss proposed
reforms and that a hotline was installed for comments on them, pro or
-- finally, when protests
of any kind happen in the US, police usually attack them with tear gas,
beatings and mass arrests to crush their democratic spirit and prevent
it from being expressed as our Constitution's First and most important
amendment guarantees. In Venezuela, the spirit of democracy lives. It
never existed in the US, and we want to export our way to everyone and
by force if necessary.
Here's a November 15 breaking
news example of our way in action. At 8:00AM, 12 FBI and Secret Service
agents raided the Liberty Dollar Company's office in Evansville, IN
and for the next six hours removed two tons of legal Ron Paul Dollars
along with all the gold, silver and platinum at the location. They also
took all location files and computers and froze Liberty Dollar's bank
accounts in an outrageous police state action against a legitimate business.
This move also seems intended to impugn the integrity of a presidential
candidate gaining popularity because he defies the bellicose mainstream
and wants more people empowerment.
Chavez champions another
way and answered his critics at a November 14 Miraflores Presidential
Palace press conference where he denounced them for lying about his
reform package. He explained his aim is to strengthen Venezuela's independence
and transfer power to the people, not increase his own. "For many
years in Venezuela," he said, "they weakened the powers of
the state as part of the neoliberal imperial plan....to weaken the economies
of countries to insure domination. While we remained weak, imperialism
was strengthened," and he elaborated.
He then continued to stress
his most important reform "is the transfer of power to the people"
through an explosion of grassroots communal, worker, student and campesino
councils, formations of them into regional and national federations,
and the formation of "communes (to) constitute the basic nucleus
of the socialist state." Earlier Chavez stated that democratizing
the economy "is the only way to defeat poverty, to defeat misery
and achieve the largest sum of happiness for the people." He's
not just saying this. He believes and acts on it, and that's why elitists
target him for removal even though he wants equity for everyone, even
his critics, and business continues to thrive under his government.
But not like in the "good old" days when it was all one-way.
is Booming - So Why Complain?
Business in Venezuela is
indeed booming, and in 2006 the Financial Times said bankers were "having
a party" it was so good. So what's the problem? It's not good enough
for corporate interests wanting it all for themselves and nothing for
the people the way it used to be pre-Chavez. Unfair? Sure, but in a
corporate-dominated world, that's how it is and no outliers are tolerated.
Thus Hugo Chavez's dilemma.
Last June, Business Week
(BW) magazine captured the mood in an article called "A Love-Hate
Relationship with Chavez - Companies are chafing under the fiery socialist.
But in some respects, business has never been better." Writer Geri
Smith asked: "Just how hard is it to do business in Venezuela"
and then exaggerated by saying "hardly a day passes without another
change in the rules restricting companies." Hardly so, but what
is true is new rules require a more equitable relationship between government
and business. They provide more benefits to the people and greater attention
to small Venezuelan business and other commercial undertakings like
an explosion of cooperatives (100,000 or more) that under neoliberal
rules have no chance against the giants.
Nonetheless, the economy
under Chavez is booming, and business loves it even while it complains.
It's because oil revenues are high, Chavez spends heavily on social
benefits, and the poor have seen their incomes more than double since
2004 when all their benefits are included. The result, as BW explains:
"Sales of everything from basics" to luxury items "have
taken off....and local and foreign companies alike are raking in more
money than ever in Venezuela." In addition, bilateral trade has
never been higher, but American business complains it's caught in the
middle of a Washington - Caracas political struggle.
The article continues to
show how all kinds of foreign business is benefitting from cola to cars
to computer chips. Yet, it restates the dilemma saying "As Chavez
continues his socialist crusade, there are signs of rising discontent,"
and it's showing up now on the country's streets with the latest confrontation
still to be resolved, one way or another.
Events Are Ugly and
Coming to A Head
Through the dominant media,
Washington and Venezuelan anti-Chavez elements are using constitutional
reform as a pretext for what they may have in mind - "to arouse
the military to intervene" and oust Chavez, as Petras notes in
his article titled "Venezuela: Between Ballots and Bullets."
He explains the opposition "rich and privileged (coalition) fear
constitutional reforms because they will have to grant a greater share
of their (considerable) profits to the working class, lose their monopoly
over market transactions to publicly owned firms, and see political
power evolve toward local community councils and the executive branch."
Petras is worried and says
"class polarization....has reached its most extreme expression"
as December 2 approaches: "the remains of the multi-class coalition
embracing a minority of the middle class and the great majority of (workers)
is disintegrating (and) political defections have increased (including
14) deputies in the National Assembly." Add to them former Chavez
Defense Minister, Raul Baduel, who Petras believes may be "an aspirant
to head up a US-backed right-wing seizure of power."
The situation is ugly and
dangerous, and lots of US money and influence fuels it. Petras puts
it this way: "Venezuelan democracy, the Presidency of Hugo Chavez
and the great majority of the popular classes face a mortal threat."
An alliance between Washington, local oligarchs and elitist supporters
of the "right" are committed to ousting Chavez and may feel
now is their best chance. Venezuela's social democracy is on the line
in the crucial December 2 vote, and the entire region depends on it
solidifying and surviving.
lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site
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