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Re: <nettime> from venezuelan digests [bello, fusco]

and some more recent new on Venezuela, of which only a tiny part may be 
an isla bonita :-)

What's really happening in Venezuela?
By Ron Smith <>,
Posted on Mon Mar 1st, 2004 at 09:01:29 PM EST
As most of us focus on the latest Narcocoup in Haiti, Venezuelan 
President Hugo Chavez asserts his legitimacy and warns the US away from 
futher intervention.

I guess the best place to start is here:

Agence France Presse's report on Chavez's statements to the United States.

It's March 1st of a very strange year, of a very strange US presidency. 
A great number of us Latinophiles are looking stunned at an at least 
momentarily successful coup d'etat in Haiti straight out of the 1950's. 
In Haiti, a president with a populist history and a proven electoral 
mandate is toppled in favor of the remnants of the Duvalier 
dictatorship. It didn't take much time at all for the seemingly 
inexorable outcome in Port-au-Prince, perhaps this explains the current 
goings on in Venezuela. The timing may be coincidental, but there's 
reason to be wary of an encore performance by US policy makers in Caracas.

Perhaps a good way to frame this current situation in Venezuela is the 
recall referendum. I assume most narconews readers have been following 
the referendum for the recall in Venezuela. Now it doesn't take much 
more than a cursory look at the history to see that this recall 
referendum is just the latest attempt by the oft-discredited opposition 
to remove the democratically elected Chavez from office.

It's important to note that the opposition isn't stupid, anymore than 
the US policy makers are. The opposition, with some possible exceptions 
to allow for the self-deluded, knows that President Chavez is highly 
popular. A real campaign to win a recall election would not come to pass 
as it did in California in 2003. In California, we had an unpopular 
Governer excreted from the Democratic Party's machine who refused to 
make even the most simple progressive reforms. Chavez, on the other 
hand, has indeed enacted a long series of reforms, perhaps not as 
quickly as some would like, but has for the most part been consistent in 
his stance on major issues that affect Venezuelans.

So if you were a big mover at the ironically named Coordinadora 
Democratica (CD), you wouldn't really want a referendum where you could 
be summarily trounced in an open election. Instead, you'd want to do 
everything you could to make a mess of the political system, and attempt 
to discredit the constitutional process.

None of this is news, it's been reported in the authentic press for some 
time. What is new is what appears to be a change towards a more 
aggressive response by the Chavez presidency. I think the most notable 
act of the Chavez government was the threat to end oil exports to the 
US. This threat is a major shift in Venezuelan policy and demonstrates 
that the Venezuelan government has grown tired of US anti-democratic 
actions and support of the most reactionary sectors of Venezuelan society.

The escalation occurred as the CNE, the Venezuelan National Electoral 
body approached a decision regarding the authenticity of the signatures 
on the recall referendum petitions. According to the reports by Charles 
Hardy of Vheadline and Narconews fame, some opposition leaders have even 
admitted their lack of sufficient signatures to call the referendum a 
success. It's important to note that Chavez's opposition is not 
homogenous, if you oppose the policies of Chavez, the only significant 
game in town is the CD, whose helm is currently populated by some of the 
most spoiled and reactionary people in Venezuela. It's important to keep 
in mind that there are perfectly reasonable members of the opposition 
with valid claims against Chavez, they just don't happen to be in 
charge. (You can glean some knowledge about the make-up of the CD by 
reading my previous article on Venezuela I did for Narconews in 2002) 

Last week, the CNE seemed ready to release their decision about the 
recall petition signatures. The Carter center was dispatched early in 
the decision making process to oversee the signature analysis, but the 
result seemed already clear, the CNE would invalidate as many as 1.6 
million signatures out of the 3.4 million supplied by the opposition. 
After subtracting the fraudulent signatures, the total falls far short 
of the 2.4 million needed for a recount. The opposition has now placed 
itself in the position of "To hell with the democratic process, we want 
a democratic recall referendum where we win, regardless of how many 
signatures and votes we receive!" It worked in Florida, I can understand 
their disappointment. In a temper tantrum of thousands, the opposition 
took to the streets last week, according to my Venezuelan friend's 
eyewitness account, and tried to provoke the Venezuelan National Guard 
into firing upon the opposition marchers. The National Guard responded 
with "less-lethal" weapons and tear gas, which I can tell you from 
personal experience are no fun, and the less-lethal projectiles can do 
some serious damage, but the national guard did not use live weapons. A 
protester was shot by a live round from a motorcycle rider during the 
march, but the details are still quite murky as to whom this protester 
was, which side the protester supported, and the identity of the assailant.

Another part of the equation are the revelations achieved by a Freedom 
of Information Act(FOIA) Request by a Venezuelan solidarity 
organization, which reveals some of the direct meddling and intervention 
by the US government in Venezuela's political affairs. You can see the 
result of the FOIA request at:

So what now? The opposition is setting fire to barricades in their 
middle-class neighborhoods (According to Vheadline) to protest the 
decision of the CNE. The Oil threat is an important development, as 
Venezuela is in a difficult position with oil. They need the US to 
import oil as badly or more than the US needs the oil. This statement by 
Chavez is a major escalation, but this weekend's events are a clear 
indication that President Chavez has reason to be concerned.

What's really happening in Venezuela? 
<> | *9* 
comments (9 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)

*Your oil comment* (3.00 / 3 
(#1 <>)
by Peter Carlin on Mon Mar 1st, 2004 at 09:23:29 PM EST
(User Info <>)
As a follow on note. With oil prices at $36.50 a barrel, Venezuelan oil 
could be shipped elsewhere and still be profitable, but your basic point 
is valid. Ven. also produces large amounts of gasoline addidtives for 
the US market as it heads into the driving season. Gasoline futures are 
near record highs today, and this is an issue that could cripple Bush in 
the election. $2.50 a gallon gasoline could wreck havoc on his campaign.

    *On Oil and Venezuela* (4.00 / 1
    by Ron Smith on Wed Mar 3rd, 2004 at 09:35:42 PM EST
    (User Info <>)
    In think it's important to note that the Bush administration has
    chosen the current time to fill the Strategic Oil Reserves. What is
    peculiar about this is the fact that consumers are already
    complaining about the current high price of gasoline, currently
    blamed on OPEC's recent cutting of production quotas. Granted this
    is pure speculation, but a possible reason for the build up of the
    strategic oil reserve is the fact that the Bush administration may
    be predicting a threat to the US oil supply, and wants to have
    enough oil to make up for a shortfall. A logical conclusion that
    could be drawn is closely related to Hugo Chavez's comments
    regarding an oil embargo against the United States. Could the
    foreshadow US plans? Again, you can read up on this article

    siempre recordamos nuestr@s caid@s, rachel corrie y wilfredo
    palacios presente

    [ Parent
    <> ]

*Remember the Alamo, George Orwell* (3.00 / 3 
(#2 <>)
by Jeff Simpson on Tue Mar 2nd, 2004 at 11:57:11 AM EST
(User Info <>)
 From the Houston Chronicle:

Distracted by Haiti, U.S. ignores Venezuela 

/Jean-Bertrand Aristide has fled, Haiti is on the verge of total 
anarchy, and the United States has taken its eye off a larger and much 
more dangerous problem. The very day that Aristide fled, fires burned 
throughout Caracas, Venezuela, explosions and gunfire could be heard 
across the city, citizens battled and died at the hands of the National 
Guard, and the country pushed closer to all out civil war./

/Civil war in Venezuela will make the anarchy in Haiti look pale and 
meaningless by comparison. The American media are filling the airwaves 
with images of violence from Port-Au-Prince, while "burying the lead" as 
they say in the news business. That "lead" being the exponentially 
larger story in Venezuela our press is ignoring./

But, of course that headline should read:

Distracted by US manipulated anti-democratic destabilization in Haiti, 
US media ignores US manipulated anti-democratic destabilization in 
Venezuela <>

/The drama of Haiti and of the Aristide administration implies many 
dangers for Cuba and Venezuela. It is the final outcome of Washington’s 
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) against popular governments in Latin 
America: namely, subversion-destruction./

/...The implications of the eventual installation of a right-wing 
government in Haiti are considerable for Cuba, the Dominican Republic, 
and Venezuela. The geographic distance between north Haiti and eastern 
Cuba is barely 90 kilometers. Guantanamo Base is located in those 
latitudes and any maritime exodus from Haiti could be used by the Bush 
administration as a pretext for unleashing force in the region./

Praise the Lord and pass the ammo...

"the riddle which man must solve, he can only solve in being, in 
being what he is and not something else...."

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