Chavez's New World Vision
By Stephen Lendman
22 September, 2006
agreeing to supply discounted oil to the richest city in Europe - London
- to help its low income residents use the city's buses at a reduced
cost after earlier providing discounted heating oil for the poor in
several northeastern US cities including its richest one - New York,
Hugo Chavez is at it again. This time he offered to aid the US oil and
cash-rich state of Alaska by providing an even greater benefit - free
or subsidized heating oil. In the richest, most powerful country in
the world, federal, state and local governments continue to provide
fewer essential services to their citizens most in need like helping
them stay warm in winter when they can't afford to do it on their own.
The result is many of them don't and some die as a result.
Even without federal help,
Alaska easily has enough resources and plenty of oil inside its borders
to help its most needy if it chooses to. Currently the state has a Permanent
Fund of $34 billion and a $2 billion budget reserve fund for a population
of about 660,000 people. Still, each winter thousands of Alaskans can't
afford to buy enough heating oil, especially since its price rose so
dramatically in the past few years. Alaska has its own federally funded
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, but it's woefully underfunded
and unable to provide enough help. So if the state and federal government
won't do the job, Hugo Chavez said he would step in with financial aid
through Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA's subsidiary CITGO
Petroleum Corporation. The money will be donated to state Native non-profit
organizations as part of a greater effort that will also help other
communities in the state. It's also one part of CITGO's overall program
to provide 5 - 10 million gallons of heating oil t help Native Americans
nationwide. The goal is to help thousands of poor Alaskans and Native
Americans in other states stay warm in the winter in cases where they're
unable to get help any other way.
Think of it. Tiny Venezuela
has a population of about 27 million people that's 1/12th the size of
the US. And it had a 2005 Gross Domestic Product of about $160 billion
that's less than 2% of the US GDP of $12.5 trillion last year and less
than half of oil giant Exxon-Mobil's $371 billion 2005 sales volume.
Still Hugo Chavez is willing to share his nation's oil and financial
resources so those in need in the US can get some of the help its own
government won't provide and help other nations as well that don't have
enough ability to do it themselves. Don't ever expect Exxon-Mobil to
offer aid as its game plan is to manipulate oil prices for maximum sales
and profit growth with little or no regard for social responsibility
that would only lower them.
The Vision of Chavez's
Democratic Bolivarian Revolution Vs. Bush's Belligerent Imperialism
Look at the difference between
how Hugo Chavez governs at home and shares with others abroad based
on the principles of social equity and justice compared to the way George
Bush does it. He and his hard-right Republican allies believe it's right
to take from the poor and plunder other nations abroad to benefit the
rich and powerful at home. To do it he's been waging illegal wars of
aggression almost since he took office and just declared a permanent
"long war" clash of civilizations against 1.8 billion Muslims
worldwide to subjugate and exploit them for the corporate interests
Hugo Chavez will stand for
re-election on December 3 this year. His approval rating is so high
(compared to Bush's low one), no opposition candidate can defeat him
in a free, fair and open election although the Bush administration is
planning an unknown array of dirty tricks trying to do it. Compare that
to the way elections are now run in the US where the only sure way George
Bush and neocon Republicans can win is by rigging the outcomes. They
have to because growing numbers of voters are fed up with them and reject
their failed policies of endless war against enemies that don't exist,
tax cuts for the rich combined with reduced social services for everyone
else to pay for them, and a crackdown on civil liberties to quell dissent
that always happens in the face of injustice.
A lot more people would reject
them as well if they knew and took to heart Founding Father and President
James Madison's belief about the dangers of war and how it extends "the
discretionary power of the Executive." He wrote: "No nation
could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
And Abraham Lincoln once wrote while he was still in the Congress that
"kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people
in wars, pretending....that the good of the people was the object."
Both these now revered men would shudder at how right they were if they
knew how fast those freedoms and greater good for the people have been
lost under the Bush administration, its policies of universal repression,
and plan to turn the US into a nation of serfs and then do the same
thing all over the world and make ordinary Americans have to pay the
bills for it and end up poorer as a result.
Things aren't this way in
Venezuela and shouldn't be anywhere. Under the letter and spirit of
the Bolivarian Revolution, the country is governed under a system of
real participatory democracy where the people get to vote and those
they elect actually serve them. In the US what's called democracy is
only for the privileged few. All others are left behind in a system
morphing toward modern-day feudalism based on how an earlier failed
20th century tyrant ruled which he explained in his own words - "(by)
a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme
right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership,
together with belligent nationalism." Sound familiar?
The tyrant was Benito Mussolini,
and he called it fascism, although despite his claim, he didn't invent
it. Nineteenth century born and early 20th century philosopher Giovanni
Gentile did, and he's sometimes called the "philosopher of fascism."
He explained it in the Encyclopia Italiana saying "Fascism should
more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state
and corporate power." Like all good dictators finding an idea he
liked, Mussolini replaced Gentile's name with his own and claimed credit
for it. Now in the US under George Bush it's showing up again as a feudal
corporatocracy heading straight toward a full-blown version of the Mussolini/Hitler
model, US-style with many of the same trappings - a messianic mission
and appeal to patriotism to fight an endless war on terrorism sacrificing
constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties to do it and enriching corporations
that profit from it. And all this falsely couched in the "land
of the free and home of the brave" rhetoric and sprit from "The
Star-Spangled Banner" anthem all children are taught at an early
age to sing in school with hands over heart and never forget.
Hugo Chavez represents a
different vision. Among world leaders, he's the best hope to give democracy
meaning again throughout the Americas and beyond, and that's why the
Bush administration is determined to oust him before he spreads much
more of his good will. The Chavez way is gaining ground because it's
a new paradigm based on global solidarity, equality and political, economic
and social justice that opposes the failed Bush neoliberal imperial
world model more people everywhere are fed up with and want no more
of. It's shown up on the streets of Mexico for weeks and again on Sunday
when hundreds of thousands of people packed the great Zocalo square
in Mexico City in support of winning candidate Lopez Obrador denied
by massive fraud the office of president he won in July. They stand
with him in solidarity and his intention to set up a parallel government
after he's sworn in as its "legitimate president" on November
20. Hugo Chavez stands with him as well, and on Saturday at the Non-Aligned
Movement NAM) summit in Havana accused Mexico's ruling party of stealing
the election and destroying the chance for good relations with Venezuela.
There were more signs of
discontent with the old order at the 16th annual NAM summit, attended
by representatives from over 110 nations. At it, Hugo Chavez declared
"American imperialism is in decline. A new bi-polar world is emerging.
The non-aligned group has been relaunched to unite the South under its
umbrella (in opposition)." At the summit's conclusion, a final
document was drafted expressing support for Venezuela, its constitutional
government and democratically elected President Hugo Chavez. It criticized
US aggressive policies against Chavez and supported the right of the
Venezuelan people to choose their own form of government, their leader
and representatives, and their economic and political system free from
foreign intervention. The document also expressed "firm support
and solidarity for Bolivia" and Cuba including demanding the US
end its economic, trade and financial blockade that violates the UN
Charter and other international law.
It also acknowledged Iran's
right to develop its commercial nuclear industry that's in full compliance
with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) based on known evidence about
it. Further, it sharply criticized US foreign policy and its wars of
illegal aggression as well as Israel's wars against Lebanon and Palestine
and the US role in them. It also spoke out by implication against the
unilateral US domination of the UN calling on this international body
to do more to respect and better represent the needs and rights of smaller
nations. The document affirmed the right of each nation's national sovereignty
and was a strong rebuke of the US Bush administration and its imperial
policies. In addition, it represented a strong statement of growing
resistance to it from around the world that's likely to gain added resonance
as long as Hugo Chavez is able to pursue his policies of putting the
needs and rights of people ahead of those of wealth and power.
Chavez isn't alone as other
critics are emerging in places as unexpected as the UK where British
Labour Party 23-year veteran MP and former Cabinet Minister Clare Short
just announced she's leaving New Labour because she's "profoundly
ashamed" of the Government and Prime Minister Tony Blair's "craven"
support for "US neoconservative foreign policy (that) has dishonoured
the UK, undermined the UN and international law and helped to make the
world a more dangerous place." She said she was "standing
down (to) speak the truth and support the changes that are needed."
She's not alone in the Blair government as growing numbers of other
party "back-benchers" are joining her in a show of solidarity
and disgust for a government allied shamelessly with Washington's corrupted
notion of might makes right and the use of it in the pursuit of wealth
and power as an end in itself.
Stay tuned for the coming
chapters in this epic struggle for a new and better world vision and
an end to the old one that doesn't work, never did or will, and that
more people than ever are determined to free themselves from. It's what
Abraham Lincoln meant when he once said: "Any people anywhere,
being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake
off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better.
This is a most valuable, a most sacred right, which we hope and believe
is to liberate the world." It was the same message South America's
great Liberator Simon Bolivar had when he once spoke of the imperial
curse he sought to free his people from that "plague(d) Latin America
with misery in the name of liberty." From the NAM summit in Havana,
Hugo Chavez echoed similar thoughts in his address to the General Assembly
on September 15. In it he said: "....let's unite in the South and
we will have a future, we will have dignity, our people will have life....Let's
unite to liberate ourselves, to exist, to self-construct the South."
lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.