Archive for the 'Chavez' Category

Brookings poll uncovers some interesting information

This first question is hardly a surprise and should alert the Obama administration to the fact that the Arab population is not as stupid as they may have hoped. His speech in Cairo may have created hope, but that hope has dwindled and now the Arab peoples know the truth. Obama is no different. He will not deal justly with the middle-east, no more than any of his predecessors have.

These results here are very interesting. The way you hear it in the newspapers, everyone in Egypt and Saudi Arabia are opposed to Iran’s nuclear program. These numbers show a different story though. The Arabs polled were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan and the UAE. Saudi Arabia and Egypt citizens comprised approximately 20% each of the people polled.

Of those polled, 61% said they were most dissappointed with Obama’s handling of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. They also saw our middle-east policy as being driven by a need to protect Israel and control oil. Also, 59% polled said that when they see a documentary about the Jewish Holocaust, they resent it because they feel it brings sympathy towards the Jews at the expense of the Palestinians. Very interesting. Similar to Ahmadinejad’s position.

77% also believed that Iran has a right to it’s nuclear program.

In a world where there is only one superpower, 35% wanted France to be that superpower! Only 7% wanted the USA.  Also beating out the USA were China, Germany, Britain and Russia. Pakistan just lost to the USA at 6%!

Two countries that pose the biggest threat to Arab Peoples? 88% Israel and 77% USA. Iran was 10%. Interesting.

Erdogan, Chavez and Ahmadinejad were the most admired world leaders (Obama wasn’t featured in this one).

Methinks it would behoove the people of the USA to look at why the people of Arab nations have these opinions. There are good reasons.


Chavez wins the elimination of term limits and the opportunity to be democratically elected again.

Chavez today won the elimination of term limits handily by what is looking like a 7 point margin or so.

Of course, this is criticized roundly by the US Media as an autocrat seeking to become, “President for life.”  When it comes to Chavez, we tend to ignore remarks like the following regarding the principle of term limits:

I’m generally not in favor of term limits… I believe in one form of term limits. They’re called elections.

Who said that?  Why Obama himself.

It is interesting to see the way term limit strikedowns are handled in the US press when it comes to Venezuela in contrast to what we saw in 2005 in Colombia.  Uribe won the opportunity to become “President for life,” but noone called it that in the US press.  We think nothing of Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York pushing for the elimitation of term limits in the mayoral race in New York, but criticize Chavez severely in the New York Times and Washington Post for doing the same thing.

The following article discusses this topic in depth and gives us a good look at term limits in relation to Venezuela, wiwth a discussion of Colombia and Uribe as well:

Latin America Watch

Noticed a few newsworthy happenings in Latin America recently.  First is the new socialist constitution of Ecuador that Pres. Correa has introduced.  It appears that it has passed by a nearly 70% vote.

Correa earlier had voiced hope for solid “yes” vote, as he strives for what he calls a “21st century socialism” to more closely align Ecuador with leftist allies Venezuela and Bolivia, making it latest South American country to chart a leftward course.

Predictions of victory for the president’s initiative came scarcely an hour after the 5:00 pm (2200 GMT) end of balloting across the country. Exit polls showed voter support for the measure at between 66 percent and 70 percent.

Just a few details about the new constitution:

The proposed constitution is inspired by the leftist majorities in power in Venezuela and Bolivia and their repudiation of the neoliberal policies of the 1990s, but falls short of nationalizing the country’s national resources as Bolivia and Venezuela have done.

Its 444 articles expand presidential powers allegedly in an attempt to end political instability in a country that in the last 10 years has sent three presidents packing before their terms were up.

The new constitution would allow the president to run for two consecutive, four-year terms, dissolve Congress and call early elections.

Correa, 45, has already announced his intention to run for reelection in February 2009, if it is approved, in which case early elections would be convened by the Constitutional Assembly.

The new constitution also would close down all foreign military bases in Ecuador, forcing the United States to move its regional anti-drug operations, run for nearly 10 years from an air base in the port city of Manta.

Also, there is a great article out on how though Venezuela is not perfect by far, it bears no relation to the depiction of the country reported on by Human Rights Watch recently.  It’s a great article that answers the untruths in the report, goes into the vast improvements in human rights in Venezuela completely ignored by HRW, and delves into possible reasons this sort of doctored report is coming out at this time.  See this good article here:

Human Rights Watch joins the demonization effort against Chavez of Venezuela.

Chavez’s government has been demonized by the US since he came to power and has been elected democratically numerous times by numbers that would be considered landslides in the USA.  He is a controversial leader with his in-your-face way of dealing with foreign powers, namely the USA, but is unarguably the popularly elected leader of his country, usually by over 60% of the vote in elections that put the US elections to shame in terms of fairness.

Now, the Human Rights Watch group has issued a scathing, but an apparently disingenuous, report on human rights in Venezuela.  Below, I cut and paste part of an article that answers some of the myths in the HRW report, but first think.   Is there any country that elects a leader by landslides that takes away their rights, or that commits human rights abuses?  Truly, only in the USA, under what has become an Orwellian society, do we continually elect leaders that abuse our human rights.  In the rest of the world that doesn’t happen in free and fair elections.  Check out the talking points below:

MYTH: “Discrimination on political grounds has been a defining feature of the Chávez presidency.”  

FACT: Human Rights Watch deems the 2002 coup against the elected government “the most dramatic setback” for human rights in Venezuela in the last decade, but criticizes President Chavez’s own public condemnations of the unconstitutional overthrow as examples of “political discrimination” against the opposition. On the contrary, President Chávez last year pardoned political opponents who backed a failed 2002 coup against his democratically elected government. “It’s a matter of turning the page,” Chávez said. “We want there to be a strong ideological and political debate — but in peace.”[i] In this spirit, the government has often welcomed input from the opposition, for example, inviting the leaders of student protests to address the National Assembly.

MYTH: The Chávez administration has an “open disregard for the principle of separation of powers – specifically an independent judiciary.”

FACT: Human Rights Watch wrote in an earlier report that “When President Chávez became president in 1999, he inherited a judiciary that had been plagued for years by influence-peddling, political interference, and, above all, corruption…In terms of public credibility, the system was bankrupt.” Under Chávez though, Human Rights Watch admitted that access to justice in Venezuela was improved by the expansion of the court system.[ii] Also, the World Bank found that “the [judicial] reform effort has made significant progress – the STJ [Supreme Court] is more modern and efficient.”[iii] Testament to the strength of democratic institutions in Venezuela is the ability of the National Electoral Council to uphold decisions unfavorable to lawmakers, such as the “no” victory in the December 2007 referendum on constitutional reforms.

MYTH: “[Chávez] has significantly shifted the balance of the mass media in the government’s favor… by stacking the deck against critical opposition outlets.”

FACT: As was true at the time of the 2002 coup against Chávez, Venezuela’s media is dominated by opposition voices. The “anti-government” media mentioned by Human Rights Watch still maintains the largest share of the nation’s public airwaves, and their frequently extreme criticisms of the government have included calling for the overthrow of elected leaders (as in 2002). There are no major pro-government newspapers in Venezuela. The new government-funded television and radio outlets, such as TVes – Venezuela’s first public broadcaster – and TeleSur – a regional network with support from multiple countries – have a much smaller reach than the private outlets. Furthermore, the government has never censored or “shut down” opposition media. The private channel RCTV faced a non-renewal of its broadcast license due to persistent legal violations including inciting political violence, but the station easily made the switch to cable.

MYTH: The Chávez government “has sought to remake the country’s labor movement in ways that violate basic principles of freedom of association.”

FACT: The Chavez government has actively promoted the formation of labor unions and bargaining by organized labor, but has not co-opted this sector. The National Workers’ Union (UNT) was founded in April 2003 by workers supportive of government policies. In 2008, the government responded to an ongoing labor dispute between steel workers and the foreign-owned firm Sidor by intervening to negotiate a settlement, and when this was found to be impossible, the government reasserted state control over the Sidor plant in response to worker demands. The steel workers themselves were also allowed to purchase a share of the business themselves and thereby assert more control over the company.

MYTH: The Chávez government has pursued an “aggressively adversarial approach to local rights advocates and civil society organizations.”

FACT: The Chávez administration has encouraged local leaders to create community councils that let localities identify and address their own problems – from garbage collection to school construction. The concept comes from the belief that local groups know what is lacking and know what they want for their communities. Community councils democratize local government and give people the funding and capacity to make decisions for themselves. Also subject to local decision-making are many of the social missions that are designed to help reduce poverty in the most marginalized areas of the country. Health clinics, educational centers, subsidized food markets and other initiatives rely on local volunteers and are accountable to these communities.

Truly, this must be part of the drive to demonize Chavez and his government and eventually overthrow him in a coup or civil war, much like Allende was overthrown in Chile in 1973.  This sort of move makes perfect sense if one is familiar with such works as “Deterring Democracy,” by Noam Chomsky, or “Confessions of an Economic Hitman,” by John Perkins (I think).

The US needs this sort of demonization in order to drum up domestic support for its future actions so that when it removes Chavez, it will be supported by the general populace of the USA.  My job is to let my little voice out so that some might see what our secret combinations are up to.

US Venezuelan policy, looks to continue under the next leader of the Empire

Just noticing these days how nothing much has changed with the Empire’s rhetoric toward Venezuela and Chavez.  In the Presidential race, McCain has ruled out talks with Chavez saying he’s a charlatan and thug:

and Obama is fairly inflammatory towards Venezuela himself saying that Chavez is an enemy of the US and calling out for sanctions against him.  Most recently he said that Venezuela “is a destructive force in the region” because of its alleged support for the Colombian guerilla group, the FARC, its “anti-democratic practices,” and its “incendiary rhetoric” against the U.S.

This sort of talk is uninformed and unfortunate.  It is fairly clear that Chavez has not supported the FARC’s armed struggle, nor has he supported the FARC financially as Colombian liar Uribe would like us to believe.  Obama would do well to take a look at how destructive US foreign policy has been in Latin America for the last century.  Yet, he continues to play the game and support US imperial design on the riches of Latin America.  I guess it only makes sense since the people that pay for his campaign are at least partially made up of companies which make a killing on trade with Latin American countries.  Ah what a refreshing thing it would be to see someone with a backbone running for president for once.  Then again, we already have such men as Nader and Paul, but they are marginalized by the press (which is owned by the same people who give financial support to the two major candidates) and are seen as non-viable wierdos.

Chavez, of course, is no dummy in all of this:

“The two candidates for the US presidency attack us equally, they attack us defending the interests of the empire,” Chavez said at a meeting of his socialist party. “Let’s not kid ourselves, it is the empire and the empire must fall. That’s the only solution – that it comes to an end.”

Also notable in US/Venezuelan relations is the old charge championed previously by Rumsfeld that Venezuela buying arms from Russia is an unnecessary and suspicious activity:

“We’ve repeatedly communicated concerns with Russia about Chavez’s arms build-up in the past, and we’re going to continue to do so,” Gonzalo Gallegos, a US State Department spokesman said.

“We continue to question … whether such acquisitions are in line with Venezuela’s legitimate defense needs,” Gallegos added.

Remember Rumsfeld’s concerns from 3 years ago?

After the meeting, Mr. Rumsfeld told journalists the United States was troubled by reports that Venezuela is seeking to buy 100,000 assault rifles and 10 military helicopters from Russia.

“I can’t imagine what is going to happen to 100,000 AK-47s,” he said.  “I don’t understand why Venezuela needs 100,000 AK-47s.”

These concerns are unfounded and are most likely politically motivated as pointed out here:

However, one military expert said that Venezuela is merely replacing old equipment rather than than increasing its stocks. Anna Gilmour of the well known defense magazine, Jane’s, said, “ Venezuela has increased indeed its military purchases over the last three years. But it is replacing obsolete weapons and military equipment, instead of just buying new equipment or new weapons.” She also hinted that Rumsfeld may have “political” reasons for making the comments about Venezuela.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has also inserted himself into the row. He called Rumsfeld a “war dog” and said that the U.S. is threatening Venezuela, something Rumsfeld denies, “ The dog says in a cynical way that he knows no one who is threatening Venezuela, so he does not know himself. We should give the little dog a mirror so that he can see his face,” said Chávez.

Chávez also made a polite request to Colombian President Álvaro Uribe that he make a comment on Rumsfeld’s remarks. Colombia borders Venezuela and, although relations between Uribe and Chávez are good, the border area is renowned for military and paramilitary activity on both sides. Chávez wants Uribe to say whether he is one of those “neighbors” with “concerns.”

According to the news agency EFE, Uribe was asked today in a radio interview how he would respond to Chavez and merely stated that Colombia has “very good relations” with the countries of South America, among these Venezuela, and with the United States.

The Vice President of Venezeula, Jose Vicente Rangel was very eloquent in pointing out the absurdity of Rumsfeld’s preoccupation with the Venezuelan government’s military purchases:

The Lord of War, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense of the United States made some statements following the same line of repeating the usual impertinences about Venezuela. These impertinences inspired by the goal of getting involved in the internal politics of other nations and violate our sovereignty, continue being utilized systematically by U.S. officials.

In Venezuela we are worried about the elevated military spending by the United States, which stands around 450 billion dollars, representing a spending that surpasses that of the 18 other military powers that follow them. The U.S. alone absorbs 36% of the world’s military spending. This has generated great preoccupation in the majority of the countries around the world, since there is no justification for the building of so many devices for war.

As the government of that country has said in repeated opportunities, they are the greatest military power in history, and its objectives are to control and assure its hegemony over the rest of the world. What are they fearing in order to justify such increase in military spending? Can anybody believe such country could be invaded by a foreign power?  What is really happening is that the U.S. has developed a very new doctrine through which they justify their arms buildups. This is the frequently mentioned preventive war. For them it is not about peace, but about preventive war. This is the doctrine that has the whole world worried because, as we all know, it has already been put into practice.

That is the big difference with the arms purchase which we are doing in an act of political sovereignty, with the only goal of defending our independence and guaranteeing the self-determination of our people. These weapons, as everybody knows, don’t have the potential for aggression against anybody. They are exclusively for defense, to which we have a right as all nations of the world do.

We have to say even more: in this moment the U.S. has started a new phase in its imperialist aggression against our homeland. They started with a propaganda war, and now they increase their attack, using one of the promoters of the so called Star Wars, who seeks to create enemies for Venezuela, among our friends. The North American strategy is aimed at destroying Latin American unity, and take possession of our energy resources. Venezuela is just one step in their global ambitions.

The escalation of these attacks confirms the existence of a plan by the U.S. government against Venezuela. This plan was tested on April 11 of 2002, with the coup d’etat against President Hugo Chavez, and continued developing with the strike and oil sabotage starting December 2, 2002, with systematic statements by spokespersons of the Bush administration, with a media campaign such as those that the empire has unleashed through history whenever they want to consummate an aggression, or through the assassination attempts of that have been detected, and other series of efforts to destabilize.

Definitely, the U.S. is worried because Latin America is liberating itself. This preoccupation is that of the slave owner who does not accept the liberating struggles of the oppressed peoples. The U.S. preoccupation with Venezuela is because our country is building a true democracy of equals, something that the U.S. does not carry through neither with their own people, nor with the international scene.

The U.S. preoccupation arises because we are building another world, a world in which other worlds can fit. They are worried that the South also exists.

From the south we respond, with dignity as our flag, and understanding the big responsibility we have as the descendants of San Martin, Artigas, O’Higgins, Abreu e Lima, and Bolivar.

Chavez doesn’t support the armed struggle of the FARC, in spite of the lively imagination of the US press

Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research has written a good post over at Alternet.  He points out that Chavez has repeatedly voiced opposition to the FARC’s armed struggle against the Colombian government. 

Washington’s foreign policy establishment – and much of the U.S. media — was taken by surprise this week when President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela stated that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) should lay down their arms and unconditionally release all of their hostages. The FARC is a guerrilla group that has been fighting to overthrow the Colombian government for more than four decades.Chávez’s announcement should not have come as a surprise, because he had already said the same things several months ago.

On January 13, for example, Chávez said: “I do not agree with the armed struggle, and that is one of the things that I want to talk to Marulanda (the head of the FARC who died last March) about.” Chávez also stated his opposition to kidnapping, and has made numerous public appeals for the FARC to release their hostages.

Chávez had also explained previously that the armed struggle was not necessary because left movements could now come to power through elections, something that was often difficult or impossible in the past because of political repression.


How does the US press and power establishment take this news?

The surprise in U.S. policy and media circles is a result of a misconception of Chávez’s recent role in Colombia’s conflict. A comparison: former President Jimmy Carter has recently called upon the United States to negotiate with Hamas – dismissed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and its allies in Israel and Europe. Carter is not an advocate of Hamas nor of armed struggle. He has met with Hamas and called for negotiations because he is trying to promote a peace settlement.The same has been true for Hugo Chávez in the Colombian conflict. This is how Chávez’s role has been seen by the families of the FARC’s hostages (including U.S. military contractors), Colombian anti-violence activists, the governments of Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia and almost every other state in the region, and also in Europe.  None of these people (including FARC kidnapping victims) or governments are admirers of the FARC.  They have strongly supported Chávez’s efforts, including but not limited to his success this year in gaining freedom for six hostages that were held by the FARC.

But for Washington and its right-wing allies in Colombia, Chávez and the FARC have become comrades in arms. The media has honed in on about two or three positive statements uttered by Chávez about the FARC (out of thousands of hours of his speeches) to describe Chávez as a “staunch FARC supporter” (Time Magazine, June 9).

Yesterday the Associated Press reported, falsely, that Chávez had five months ago been “urging world leaders to back their [the FARC’s] armed struggle.”The U.S. State Department has even said it would consider placing Venezuela on its short list of “state sponsors of terrorism.” This is unlikely in an election year, since Venezuela is our fifth largest oil supplier and the Republicans are already getting enough political headaches from gasoline at $4.00 a gallon.

For at least six years the Bush Administration has tried to make it look like Chávez and his government have been arming, funding, and otherwise supporting the FARC.

The inability of our press to report objectively on Venezuelan issues continues to astound me.  Perhaps the time will come when the corporate media can report things as they really are without serving as a tool of the powerful who desire a certain outcome… in this case, a government in Venezuela that will be obedient to any trade agreements that resemble the old Multilateral Agreement on Investments.  Until then, we can expect to see the demonization of Chavez despite the overwhelming support he has from his electorate. 

The popularity of Hugo Chavez continues to stay up

It always makes me chuckle when someone tries to show how unpopular Chavez of Venezuela is by quoting opposition poll results.  There was a poll released just recently and a very good article analyzing the poll in light of other recent polls judging Chavez’s popularity among Venezuelans.

It matches well with the Latinobarometro poll, which is apparently the most respected poll in Latin America:

Perhaps the most widely respected among all recent polls is the 2007 annual survey of 18 Latin American countries conducted by the Chilean polling firm Latinobarometro, the results of which were released this past January.

According to Latinobarometro, 60% of Venezuelans approved of President Chávez`s job performance in 2007, and 61% approved of the Venezuelan government as a whole. Also, 59% of Venezuelans were either “very satisfied” or “pretty satisfied” with the functioning of democracy in their country, placing Venezuela second only to Uruguay.

The Latinobarometro poll also showed that 52% of Venezuelans said the economic situation in their country was either good or very good in 2007, and that 67% agreed that the state is capable of solving the nation’s problems.

The 60% approval rating matches up well with the historical record in Venezuela as Chavez has often been elected by similar numbers.  This also matches the numbers from a poll recently performed by the Venezuelan Data Analysis Institute:

A national poll conducted between April 24th and May 2nd by the Venezuelan Data Analysis Institute (IVAD) showed that 68.8% of Venezuelans believe the presidency of Hugo Chávez has been excellent, very good, or good, while 28.2% consider it to have been bad, very bad, or terrible.

The article then goes into how opposition polls have found different numbers, but I think I’ll lean toward believing the IVAD and Latinobarometro polls more because of their consistency with the known Venezuelan voting record.

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