Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Vigorous President Chavez Disproves Media Rumors About His Health, Plays Ball

Unfounded rumors claiming the Venezuelan President was hospitalized and experiencing severe health problems were discounted by the head of state during an exercise session in the presence of reporters Thursday

International media began spreading rumors and outright lies about the Venezuelan President’s health from the time he first underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his pelvic region in June this year. After Chavez completed his fourth and final chemotherapy session last week and resumed his path to full recovery, media began disseminating wild propaganda claiming the treatment “hadn’t worked” and Chavez’s health was deteriorating. Despite numerous live telephone interventions given by the President on television this past week, the rumors wouldn’t cease. So, he put them to rest by publicly playing a game of catch with some of his staff.

Chavez: Media involved in morbid, sick campaign

Tensions built Wednesday evening as the Miami-based publication, El Nuevo Herald, published a front page story claiming President Hugo Chavez had been hospitalized for kidney failure and was rapidly deteriorating. The report was based on anonymous sources and quotes from alleged individuals close to the Venezuelan government and “witnesses” to the hospitalization.

Behind the Herald’s campaign has been former US Ambassador Roger Noreiga, a self-proclaimed “anti-communist” who served in both Bush administrations and was schooled in Latin American policy by the likes of John Negroponte and Otto Reich, part of the US team responsible for conducting dirty wars in Central America in the 1980s. Noriega also provided extensive support for the April 2002 coup d’etat against President Chavez, when he was US Ambassador to the Organization of American States.

Noriega has falsely claimed for months that President Chavez’s health is failing and that he has less than a 50% chance of survival.

But each allegation has been disproven by Chavez himself, who has consistently informed on the positive progress of his health after a “baseball-sized” cancerous tumor was removed from his body in June. Since then, he has undergone 4 successful sessions of chemotherapy and says the cancer is “gone” fom his body. “I had cancer, but now I do not”.

On Thursday, Chavez affirmed he had the best proof that his recovery is advancing fine. "I'm here; this is my answer", he told reporters at the presidential palace, raising his arms and gesturing at his body. "I am my own answer".

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Urgent Call for Peace: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s Speech Before the United Nations

September 27, 2011

I address these words to the United Nations General Assembly, to this great forum where all the peoples of the earth are represented, to express Venezuela’s truths and to reassert our inalienable commitment to justice and equality, that is to say, to peace.

Peace, peace, peace… We do not look for the peace of the cemetery, as Kant said ironically, but a peace based on the most zealous respect for international law. Unfortunately, the UN, throughout its history, instead of adding and multiplying efforts in favor of peace among nations, has ended up supporting, sometimes through its actions and other times by omission, the most ruthless injustices.

We should always remember that “saving future generations from the scourge of war” is mentioned in the Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations - but it’s just dead letter. From 1945 on, wars have done nothing but inexorably increase and multiply. We see, once again, Libya destroyed and bloodstained by the will of the powerful.

I call on the governments of the world to reflect: Since September 11th, 2001, a new and unprecedented imperialist war has begun, a permanent war, in perpetuity.

We have to look directly at the terrifying reality of the world we live in. It is necessary to ask a series of questions on the basis of the risks and threats we face: Why is the United States the only country that fills the planet with military bases? What does it allocate such a staggering budget for increasing its military power? Why has it unleashed so many wars, violating the sovereignty of other nations which have the same rights to their own fates? How can international law be enforced against the United States’ insensible aspiration to military hegemony of the world in order to ensure control over energy sources to sustain their predatory and consumer model? Why does the UN do nothing to stop Washington? If we answer these questions sincerely we would understand that the empire has awarded itself the role of judge of the world, without being granted this responsibility by anyone, and, therefore, imperialist war threatens us all.

Washington knows that a multipolar world is already an irreversible reality. Its strategy consists of stopping, at any price, the sustained rise of a group of emerging countries, by negotiating great interests with its partners and followers in order to guide multipolarity along the path the empire wants. What is more, the goal is to reconfigure the world so it is based on US military hegemony.

Humanity is facing the very real threat of a permanent war. The empire is ready to create the political conditions for triggering a war anywhere, and the case of Libya is proof. Within the imperial view of the world, Clausewitz’s axiom is being reversed: politics are the continuation of war by other means.

What is behind this new Armageddon? The absolute power of the military-financial leadership that is destroying the world in order to accumulate even more profits; a military-financial power that is subordinated, de facto, to an increasingly larger group of States. Keep in mind that war is capital’s modus operandi: war ruins the majority and makes only a few wealthier.

Right now, there is a very serious threat to global peace. A new cycle of colonial wars, which started in Libya, have the sinister objective of reviving the capitalist global system which is going through a structural crisis today. There are no limits to its consumerist and destructive voracity. The case of Libya should alert us to the attempt to implement a new imperial kind of colonialism, that of military interventionism backed by the antidemocratic organs of the United Nations and justified on the basis of prefabricated media lies.

Humanity is on the brink of an unimaginable catastrophe. The world is marching inexorably towards the most devastating ecocide. Global warming and its frightening consequences are announcing this, but world perspective on the ecosystem, which resembles the ideology of the conquistadors Cortes and Pizarro, as the influential French thinker Edgar Morin rightly pointed out, leads to continuously degrading and destroying. Energy and food crises are sharpening, but capitalism continues to trespass all limits with impunity.

Given such a meager outlook, the great US scientist Linus Pauling, awarded the Nobel Prize on two occasions, continues enlightening our path: “I believe that there is a greater power in the world than the evil power of military force, of nuclear bombs -- there is the power of good, of morality, of humanitarianism. I believe in the power of the human spirit”. Let us mobilize all the power of the human spirit. It is time now. It is imperative that we unleash a great political counter-offensive in order to prevent the powers of darkness from finding justifications for going to war, from unleashing a widespread global war through which they attempt to save western capital.

Venezuela calls for the establishment of a broad alliance for peace and against war, with the supreme aim of avoiding war at all costs. Warmongers, and especially the military-financial leadership that sponsor and lead them, must be defeated.
Let’s build the balance of the universe foreseen by the Liberator, Simon Bolívar - the balance that, according to his words, cannot be found within war; the balance that is born out of peace.

Remember that Venezuela, alongside the member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), was actively advocating for a peaceful and negotiated solution to the Libyan conflict. That is also what the African Union tried. However, in the end, the logic of war decreed by the UN Security Council and put into practice by NATO, the armed wing of the US empire, was imposed. And, the logic of war is spearheaded by corporate mass media, do not forget.

Remember that the “Libyan Case” was brought before the Security Council on the basis of an intense propaganda campaign by western mass media, who lied about the alleged bombing of innocent civilians by the Libyan Air Force, not to mention the grotesque media manipulation of Tripoli’s Green Square. This premeditated bunch of lies was used to justify irresponsible and hasty decisions by the Security Council, which paved the way for NATO’s military regime change policy in Libya.

It is worthwhile to ask: What has the no-fly zone established by Security Council resolution 1973 become? How could NATO perform more than 20,000 missions against the Libyan people if there was a no-fly zone? After the Libyan Air Force was completely annihilated, the continued “humanitarian” bombings show that the West, through NATO, intend to impose their interests in North Africa, turning Libya into a colonial protectorate.

How can we say that an arms embargo was imposed on Libya when it was NATO itself that introduced thousands of heavy weapons to support a violent upheaval against that country’s legitimate government?

The embargo was, of course, meant to prevent the Libyan government from defending its sovereignty.

This demonstrates, once again, the cruel logic of international relations, where the law only applies to the weak. What is the real reason for this military intervention? Recolonizing Libya in order to capture its wealth.

Everything else is related to this goal. “Nobody colonizes innocently”, as the great Martinican poet Aime Cesaire said, quite rightly, in his extraordinary essay called “Discours sur le colonialisme”.

By the way: the Residence of the Venezuelan Ambassador in Tripoli was invaded and looted, and the UN did nothing, remaining ignominiously silent.

We call for the immediate cessation of bombing operations in Libyan territory. Similarly, we will continue calling for respect for international law in the case of this sister nation. We will not remain silent in light of the evil intention of destroying the basis of its sense and reason. Therefore, we ask this Assembly: Why is the Libyan seat in the UN granted to the “national transition council”, while the admission of Palestine is blocked by ignoring, not only its lawful aspiration, but also the existing will of the majority of the General Assembly? Venezuela hereby ratifies its unconditional solidarity with the Palestinian people and its total support for the Palestinian national cause, which naturally includes the immediate admission of Palestine as a full member state within the United Nations.

And the same imperialist pattern is being repeated regarding Syria. If some permanent members of the Security Council had not taken the firm stance that was missing in the case of Libya, it would have authorized shooting missiles and bombs at Syria.
It is intolerable that the powerful of this world intend to claim for themselves the right to order legitimate and sovereign governments’ rulers to step down. This was the case in Libya, and they want to do the same in Syria. Such are the existing asymmetries in the international setting and such are the abuses against the weakest nations.

It is not for us to bring forward a conclusive judgment about the national situation in Syria. First, because of the inherent complexity of any national reality and, second, because only the Syrian people can solve their problems and decide their fate in light of the people’s right to self-determination, which is an inalienable right in all respects.

If we direct our eyes to the Horn of Africa we will witness a heartbreaking example of the UN’s historical failure. Most serious news agencies report that 29,000 children under the age of 5 have died in the last three months.

The great journalist Frida Modak, in her article, “To Die in Somalia”, reveals all the misery there, which is worse than that ravaging the rest of the vast region of the Horn of Africa, and which undermines the role of large international organizations, such as the UN. She writes: “What is needed to face this situation is $400 million, not to solve the problem, but just to address the emergency that Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia are going through. According to all sources, the next two months will be crucial to prevent more than 12 million people from dying, and the worst situation is in Somalia”.

This reality could not be more atrocious, especially if, at the same time, we ask ourselves how much is being spent to destroy Libya. This is the answer of US congressman Dennis Kucinich, who said: “This new war will cost us $500 million during its first week alone. Obviously, we do not have financial resources for that and we will end up cutting off other important domestic programs’ funding”.

According to Kucinich himself, with the amount spent during the first three weeks in Northern Africa to massacre the Libyan people, much could have been done to help the entire region of the Horn of Africa, saving tens of thousands of lives.

The reasons behind the criminal military engagement in Libya are not humanitarian at all: they are based on the Malthusian notion that “there are just too many people in the world” and they have to be eliminated by generating more hunger, destruction and uncertainty, and creating - at the same time -more financial profits. In this regard, it is frankly regrettable that in the opening address of the 66th General Assembly of the UN, an immediate appeal to solve humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa was not made, while instead we were assured that “the time has come to act” on Syria.

As of 2010, 19 UN General Assembly votes confirm the universal will demanding that the United States stop the economic and trade blockade against Cuba. Since all sensible international arguments have been exhausted, we have no choice but to believe that such cruel actions against the Cuban Revolution result from imperial arrogance in view of the dignity and courage shown by the unsubmissive Cuban people in their sovereign decision to determine their own fate and fight for their happiness.

From Venezuela, we believe it is time to demand of the US not only an immediate and unconditional end to the criminal blockade imposed against the Cuban people, but also the release of the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters held hostage in the prisons of the US Empire for the sole reason of seeking to prevent the illegal actions of terrorist groups against Cuba, under the protection of the US government.

Mr. President of the General Assembly and distinguished representatives of the peoples of the world, we want to reiterate that it is impossible to ignore the crisis of the UN. Before this same General Assembly we expressed, back in 2005, that the UN model had been exhausted. Back then, we also expressed the urgent need for it to be rebuilt.

Up until now, nothing has been done. The political will of the powerful has prevailed. Certainly, the UN, in its current functioning, docilely serves their interests. For us, it is obvious that the UN is not improving, nor will it improve from the inside. If the Secretary General, along with the President of the International Criminal Court, take part in an act of war, as in the case of Libya, nothing can be expected from the current structure of this organization and there is no longer time for reform. The UN does not accept any reform whatsoever; the illness at its core is deadly.

It is unbearable that there is a Security Council that turns its back, whenever it wants to, on the clamor of the majority of nations by deliberately failing to acknowledge the will of the General Assembly. If the Security Council is some sort of club with privileged members, what can the General Assembly do? Where is its room for manoeuver, when Security Council members violate international law?

Paraphrasing Bolivar when he spoke of nascent US imperialism in 1818, we have had enough of the weak following the law while the strong commit abuses. It cannot be us, the peoples of the South, who respect international law while the North violates it, destroying and plundering us.

If we do not make a commitment, once and for all, to rebuilding the United Nations, this organization will lose its remaining credibility. Its crisis of legitimacy will be accelerated until it finally implodes. In fact, that is what happened to its immediate predecessor: the League of Nations.

A crucial first step in rebuilding the United Nations would be to eliminate the category of permanent members and veto power within the Security Council. Likewise, the decision-making power of the General Assembly must be maximized democratically. We also demand an immediate, in-depth revision of the UN Charter with the aim of drafting a new Charter.

Peoples of the World:

The future of a multipolar world, in peace, resides in us, in the organization of the majority of the people on earth to defend ourselves against the new colonialism, in order to achieve a balance in the universe that is capable of neutralizing imperialism and arrogance.

This broad, generous, respectful, and inclusive call is addressed to all the peoples of the world, but especially to the emerging powers of the South, which must assume, with courage, the role that they are called on to play immediately.

From Latin America and the Caribbean, powerful and dynamic regional alliances have emerged, seeking to shape a regional democratic space, respectful of differences and eager to emphasize solidarity and cooperation in order to foster the ties that bind us and settle what keeps us apart politically. And this new regionalism allows for diversity and respects the various rhythms of nation. Thus, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) advances as an avant-garde experiment of progressive and anti-imperialist governments, seeking ways to break the prevailing international order and strengthening the capacity of the people to face, together, the reigning powers. But this does not prevent its members from making an enthusiastic push for the consolidation of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), a political bloc that federates the 12 sovereign States of South America with the purpose of grouping them under what the Liberator Simon Bolivar called “a Nation of Republics”.

Furthermore, the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are currently preparing to take the historic step of establishing a great regional entity that joins us all, without exclusions, where we can together design the policies that will ensure our wellbeing, our independence, and our sovereignty, on the basis of equality, solidarity, and complementarity.

Caracas, the capital of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is proud to host, next December 2 and 3, the Summit of Heads of State and Government that will establish, definitively, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
The people of Venezuela place our hopes on a broad alliance among the regional organizations of the South, such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), CARICOM (the Caribbean Community), SICA (the System of Central American Integration), the African Union, ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) or ECO (the Economic Coordination Organization), and especially the cross-regional organizations among emerging powers, such as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), which should become a pole of influence in coordination with the peoples of the South.

I want to conclude by remembering words of the great Venezuelan singer, Ali Primera. In one of his songs he asks us: "What is man’s struggle to achieve peace? And what peace, if they want to leave the world just as it is?” Today more than ever before, the worst crime against peace is to leave the world as it is. If we leave the world as it is, the present and future will be determined by perpetual war. On the contrary, to quote Ali Primera again, achieving peace involves radically reversing all that impedes humanity from being humane.

Hugo Chavez
President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Venezuelan diplomat says Chavez urged Iran’s president to release 2 jailed Americans

By Associated Press, Published: September 22

CARACAS, Venezuela — A Venezuelan diplomat said Thursday that President Hugo Chavez played a behind-the-scenes role in efforts to secure the freedom of two Americans who were released from prison by Iran this week.

Deputy Foreign Minister Temir Porras said Venezuela’s government was approached for help last year by friends and supporters of the two men, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer.

Porras said Chavez, who is a strong critic of Washington yet expresses friendship for the U.S. people, believed the Americans’ account that they were simply hiking when they were detained in 2009 along the Iran-Iraq border and accused of spying.

He said Chavez made his plea on the Americans’ behalf to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, first during a visit to Tehran in October and later in telephone conversations early this year.

“He made a request through the president for Iranian institutions to carry out a benevolent review of these young men’s case and ... make a humanitarian decision so they could return to their families,” Porras told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Chavez has had close relations with Ahmadinejad, and the two have regularly teamed up to criticize the U.S. government and defend Iran’s nuclear energy program.

Porras said Sarah Shourd, a third American hiker who was detained but was released a year ago, was among those seeking Venezuela’s assistance, as was actor Sean Penn, who has a friendly relationship with Chavez.

American linguist and activist Noam Chomsky also signed a letter asking for Chavez’s support in calling for the Americans’ release, Porras said.

The two Americans were released Wednesday under a $1 million bail-for-freedom deal.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the pair’s release was a gesture of Islamic mercy and a response to calls for their freedom by leaders such as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Oman’s ruler and Chavez.

Porras said Chavez felt it best to keep his requests private. “It was kept absolutely secret in the first place because our top interest was that the arrangement be successful,” the diplomat said.

Eva Golinger, a Venezuelan-American lawyer and editor of the English edition of state newspaper Correo del Orinoco, said some of her friends who are close with the hikers contacted her soon after the three were detained to see if Venezuela could help.

Golinger, a close Chavez ally, said she took up the matter with the Foreign Ministry and eventually with the president.

“He saw the humanitarian side of this and saw that in the end it seems as though this was a very unfortunate misunderstanding,” Golinger said.

Venezuela hails Chavez role after Iran frees hikers

-Andrew Cawthorne, Reuters

Venezuela's government said on Thursday that vocal U.S. critic Hugo Chavez played an influential behind-the-scenes role in securing the release of two Americans detained in Iran while hiking on the border in 2009.

The U.S. pair -- Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer -- flew out of Iran this week after Oman paid bail of $1 million and various foreign leaders intervened on their behalf.

Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Temir Porras told Reuters the Venezuelan president took up the case with the government of ally President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after being alerted to the Americans' plight by friends in U.S. intellectual circles.

"He talks regularly with President Ahmadinejad. On the occasions he could, he requested it as a humanitarian, brotherly gesture," Porras said.

"They (Fattal and Bauer) were in an unfortunate situation, wrapped up in geopolitical tensions that went beyond them."

Iranian media quoted their Foreign Ministry as saying U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Chavez and the governments of Iraq and Oman had all intervened on behalf of the Americans.

The involvement of the fiercely "anti-imperialist" Chavez highlights his closeness to the Iranian government, which is a constant source of disquiet in Washington. It is not the first time Chavez has made humanitarian gestures on behalf of Americans, such as sending cheap fuel for low-income families.

Ahmadinejad is due to visit Venezuela after the U.N. General Assembly, although Chavez is still in Cuba after a fourth session of chemotherapy for his cancer treatment.


The normally flamboyant Venezuelan leader's intervention on behalf of the two American detainees -- who denied charges of spying -- was deliberately low-key, Porras said.

"It shows a respectful, diplomatic, discreet move can have positive results for U.S. citizens. That was not necessarily the attitude of the State Department and U.S. authorities who demand and pressure in a rather arrogant way," he said.

In Washington, a State Department official said: "We are relieved and happy that Josh and Sean are safe with their families" and had no further comment.

Chavez frequently accuses right-wing U.S. politicians of demonizing ideological opponents like Iran and Venezuela, which are allies in the OPEC group of oil producers, as a pretext for aggressive moves like possible invasions.

"There are two possibilities: they are ill-informed people or ill-intentioned people," Porras said of the persistent accusations that Venezuela and Iran are a menace to stability.

"Venezuela has always shown its peaceful nature."

Eva Golinger, a Venezuelan-American lawyer who lives in Caracas and is a friend of Chavez, told Reuters she brought the American hikers' case to his attention back in 2009 because she knew a friend of theirs.

"They have strong, progressive politics. I gave my word to Chavez that they did not appear to be spies," she said. "He was immediately open to doing something."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Brokers Release of US Hikers from Iran


The Iranian Foreign Ministry has confirmed the release of Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer was in large part due to the request and mediation efforts of President Chavez

Iran’s release of US citizens Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer on Wednesday, September 21, made headlines worldwide, but little details were initially provided regarding the reasons behind their liberation. The Iranian Foreign Ministry has now publicy affirmed the release of Fattal and Bauer was in response to requests made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, along with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of state of Iraq and Oman.

The two US citizens were originally detained on July 31, 2009, along with Sarah Shourd, after they were caught by Iranian border guards who claimed they had entered Iranian territory without authorization. The three young US citizens alleged they were hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan, a touristy area for outdoor activities that borders Iran, and were kidnapped by the Iranian security forces while on Iraqi territory.

They were immediately taken to Tehran and jailed, accused of espionage and illegal entry into the country. After more than a year in detention, Sarah Shourd was released on $500,000 bail last September 14, 2010, on humanitarian grounds due to a health condition.

The trial against the three US citizens began on February 6, 2011, without the presence of Shroud, who remained in the US with her family, fighting for the release of her two friends, one of whom, Shane, became her fianceé while in prison. On August 20, 2011, Bauer and Fattal were convicted of “illegal entry” and “espionage” by the Iranian court and sentenced to a prison term of 8 years. Spying typically carries a death sentence in Iran.

During the past few weeks, rumors circulated regarding the imminent release of the two “US hikers”, as they’ve been referred to by news media. Their lawyer in Iran, Masoud Shafiei, had announced to the press that despite their 8-year sentence, they would soon be released.

In early September, Iranian President Ahmadinejad affirmed that by unilateral humanitarian gesture, he would request release of Bauer and Fattal, and on September 21, the two left the Iranian prison, where they had been held for more than two years, to finally go home.


While the US government failed to facilitate in anyway the release of the three US hikers, Venezuela played a key role. Soon after the initial detention of the hikers, an informal request was made to President Hugo Chavez to intervene on behalf of the three US citizens, based on Venezuela’s close ties with Iran. Chavez, who formerly and successfully mediated the release of several hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2007-2008, including several US citizens, agreed to get involved.

Over the past year and a half, Venezuela has played a key role in mediating and negotiating the release of Bauer and Fattal. Pleas were also made directly to President Chavez requesting his involvement in the release of the hikers by US author Noam Chomsky and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, along with Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn and other allies of Venezuela.

While Chavez made the request to release Bauer and Fattal directly to President Ahmadinejad, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry dealt with the details of the mediation process for their liberation.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement a day after the release on Thursday, September 22, confirming the important role Venezuelan President Chavez played in the release of Bauer and Fattal.

“The statement said that after the completion of the judicial processing, the Islamic Republic of Iran released the other two on bail again due to Islamic kindness and affection and in order to show respect for the mediation efforts made by several world leaders, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and top authorities of several friendly states like Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Omani King Sultan Qaboos as well as a number of religious figures, who have all requested their freedom”, reported FNA.

According to Venezuelan officials, President Chavez’s involvement in mediating the release of Bauer and Fattal was a “pure, humanitarian gesture of solidarity”.

Once again, President Chavez has played a major role in assuring the freedom of US citizens imprisoned for different reasons around the world.

PS: I personally confirm all the details of President Chavez's involvement in the release of the US hikers, as I was also involved from the beginning to get Chavez on board.