Thursday, November 24, 2011

US & Arab Protests Rooted in Latin American Revolutions

Inspiration South of the Border

By Eva Golinger

The Occupy Wall Street protests spreading across the United States have finally garnered the attention of national and international public opinion. The prolonged economic crisis and exclusionary political structure have propelled thousands of people in the United States to step out of their comfort zones, take to the streets and demand change. Brutal police repression in response to peaceful demonstrations in cities throughout the US has made international headlines, evidencing the hypocrisy of a government quick to accuse and criticize others for human rights violations, while perpetuating the same, if not worse, nasty behavior at home.

Many analysts and commentators have attributed the protests in the US to the so-called “Arab Spring” taking place in Tunisia, Egypt and other Middle Eastern and African nations. The movements in the US and Arab world have shared similar tactics and characteristics, including the use of social media such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to mobilize demonstrations and publicize protest activities and state repression. The protagonists of these revolts have been primarily young people and those outraged and disgruntled at systems that have failed them and left millions impoverished with no opportunities.

In Spain and Chile, similar demonstrations have taken place since the beginning of 2011, led by thousands of youth and students protesting unfair and unequal political and economic systems. The demands of all these protests, from the Arab World, to Europe to the United States, have included basic rights such as free education, dignified jobs, housing, healthcare and more inclusion and participation in politics and government. Less representation, more participation - these are the cries of the “indignados” rising up around the world.

What few have noted, or have intentionally omitted, is how the peoples of Latin America arose at the beginning of this century, with demands and dreams identical to those protesting today in the US, Europe and Arab nations, and were able to take power democratically and begin re-building their nations. The influence of the twenty-first century revolutions in Latin America on the Occupy Movement and the Arab Spring cannot be underestimated.


Slogans, chants and comments by Occupy Wall Street protestors calling for an end to corporate rule and demanding more equitable public spending and opportunities for the majority (the 99%) are familiar to those heard throughout Venezuela in the 1990s, when privatization overtook the oil-wealthy nation, multinationals ruled and the people were relegated to shantytowns.
Decades of exclusion, repression and mismanagement of government and resources in Venezuela led the people (the 99%) to revolt in 1989 against an administration quickly selling their nation to the highest buyer. The “Caracazo” on February 27, 1989, was a mass popular uprising in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, against privatization and globalization; against corporatocracy. The government, led by then President Carlos Andres Perez, responded with brutal repression. Over 3,000 were violently killed by state authorities. Bodies were hurled into mass graves and left to rot.

But the brutality of state violence did not stop the Venezuelan majority. Throughout the 1990s, the people began to organize their frustrations into a nationwide coalition seeking to break free of the two-party “representative” system that had ruled for decades. As the economy faltered, banks collapsed, politicians embezzled and stole what they could and tried to sell the rest, the people mobilized. In 1998, a new president was elected by this grassroots movement, ending the reign of corporate rule guised as democracy.

The new government, led by Hugo Chavez, promised a complete transformation of the system. It would be deconstructed and rebuilt by the people. Democracy would no longer be “representative”, it would be participatory. There would be a redistribution of public resources to ensure the 99% were included. Healthcare and education would be free, universal and accessible to all. A new constitution would be drafted and ratified by the people, to reflect the needs, dreams and realities of today’s society. People would govern on a grassroots level through community councils and assemblies, which would control local resources and provide community members with decision-making power over how resources should be used. Community, alternative and public media would proliferate and be encouraged by the state, in order to broaden access and ensure all voices were heard.

Foreign debts would be ended and relationships with international financial institutions terminated. Important strategic resources would be nationalized and taken back from multinational corporations and placed under worker control. Public enterprises would become worker-run and owned. Foreign policy would be based on sovereignty and respect for other nations, with an emphasis on integration, cooperation and solidarity instead of exploitation, competition and domination.

This is not a utopia, this is the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. It has taken years to build and there are still decades to go and many problems and difficulties to overcome, but the people of Venezuela, the 99%, were able to take power democratically and transform their nation.

In 2005, the indigenous peoples of Bolivia won power through democratic elections, after centuries of exclusion, colonialism and domination by a minority ruling class. They rose up and mobilized against the racist, corporatocracy ruling their nation and took it back. Under the presidency of Evo Morales, the nation’s first indigenous head of state, a new constitution was drafted and ratified by the people in national referendum and major social transformations have been taking place to implement a system of social justice.

In Ecuador, after years of political and economic turmoil, revolts, coup d’etats and several ousted presidents, the people elected Rafael Correa and the Citizen’s Revolution came to power in 2007. Freeing the nation from the reigns of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, reviving the economy and transferring power to the people are actions that are transforming Ecuador into a sovereign, dignified nation.


While all of these Latin American revolutions are still in process, their emphasis on grassroots nation-building, people’s power, social justice and true sovereignty have clearly inspired others around the world to fight for change in their own nations. But why have so few failed to see the importance of the influence of these revolutions on what is taking place today in the US, Europe and the Arab world?

Primarily because these are successful, democratic, peaceful revolutions by the people, of the people and for the people. There was no “outside” influence that directed them, manipulated them or tried to “co-opt” them, as has happened in the case of the “Arab Spring”. They did not come about by wars or violent revolts, but rather through democratic processes. Of course there have been many attempts to neutralize and destroy these Latin American revolutions, including a coup d’etat in Venezuela in 2002, an attempted coup in Bolivia in 2008 and another attempted coup in Ecuador in 2010. All have failed to date.

US agencies, such as the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, Open Society Institute and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), have been funding and manipulating many of those groups and organizations involved in the different revolts in Arab nations. The Obama administration has been heavily involved in the movements in Tunisia and Egypt, evidenced by continuous visits by State Department representatives to these nations to ensure the political outcome is favorable to US interests. Washington has also been attempting to promote similar uprisings in nation’s with inconvenient governments, such as in Syria and Iran. The brutal war against Libya and extrajudicial assassination of Muammar al-Gaddafi was a skewed attempt by the US to front a “people’s revolution” in the North African nation.

The manipulation and infiltration by external forces in movements in the Arab world have contributed to their chaos, disorder and failure to materialize into real revolutions- true transformations of their political, economic and social structures. It would be a bitter, tumultuous defeat for the US and its Western allies were these Arab nations to build the sovereign, revolutionary movements millions in those lands are demanding.

And back in the US, the violent repression against the Occupy movement is a clear attempt to neutralize and discredit the first possible coalition that could grow into a powerful political force which could free the country from the democrat-republican reign. While this movement struggles to consolidate and define its objectives, the revolutions south of the border continue to expand.

Corporate media censors, distorts and attempts to silence the advances of the people’s movements in Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and other Latin American nations. The leaders of these movements are demonized by mass media in an effort to diminish the importance of their actions and to turn them into fearful characters viewed as “madmen”.

Despite these attempts to tarnish them, Latin America’s revolutions of the twenty-first century have paved the way for others in the Global South, and the North, to raise their voices and join together to build a better world.

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.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

US: $20 million for the Venezuelan opposition in 2012


[en español]

Washington is preparing funds to support the opposition’s campaign against President Hugo Chavez during the coming presidential elections in 2012

Since Hugo Chavez won his first presidential elections in 1998, the US government has been trying to remove him from power. With multimillion-dollar investments, every year Washington’s agencies advise and aid anti-Chavez groups with their campaigns and strategies against the government.

Despite multiple attempts, including a coup d’etat in 2002 that briefly ousted President Chavez, their efforts have been in vain. The Venezuelan President’s popularity continues to rise and opposition leaders have failed to convince constituents of their plans. The latest polls show Chavez’s support above 57%, while the opposition fails to even reach 20%.

Nonetheless, Washington continues to seek new mechanisms to achieve its eternal objective of recovering control over Venezuela’s strategic resources - the largest oil reserves on the planet - and this means putting an end to Hugo Chavez.

One of the US government’s principal tactics has been feeding the internal conflict in Venezuela through the consolidation of an opposition movement, that despite its impossibility of uniting, continues to maintain itself active in the country’s political sphere.


The main engine behind this tactic has been the multimillion-dollar investment of Washington’s agencies, together with several European and Canadian foundations, in the Venezuelan opposition. The money has come with strategic support from top campaign and political consultants, who aid in everything from image to discourse.

Through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a congressionally created entity funded by the State Department, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Washington has channeled more than $100 million to anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela since 2002. A majority of those substantial funds have been used to run opposition candidates’ campaigns, as well as finance those well crafted media campaigns against the Chavez government that flood the national and international press.

Despite the economic crisis in the US, the funds to Venezuela’s opposition continue to flow.
In February 2011, President Barack Obama requested $5 million for opposition groups in Venezuela in his 2012 National Budget. It marked the first time a sitting US president openly requested money in the national budget to fund Chavez’s opposition, especially during a time when domestic funding is being cut. Apparently, Obama prefers to spend US taxpayer dollars on efforts to oust the Venezuelan President - elected democratically and supported by the majority - instead of investing in the health and well being of the US people.

Those $5 million comprise only a quarter of the total funds so far prepared by Washington for the Venezuelan opposition in 2012.


The US Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, has been the center of distribution and coordination of the majority of USAID and NED funds since 2002. However, until the end of 2010, USAID maintained offices of 3 contractors in Caracas: International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI). Through these entities, particularly DAI, USAID channeled millions each year to hundreds of opposition groups, programs, projects and campaigns in Venezuela. IRI and NDI supplied more political advice and aid than liquid funds.

These three agencies abruptly parted Venezuela after the nation’s legislative body passed a law in December 2010 prohibiting foreign funding for political means in the country. In early 2011, USAID published a statement on its website claiming its Venezuela program had been transferred to the Washington office. No other information was provided.

Nevertheless, USAID’s 2012 budget includes $5 million more for its work in Venezuela. The agency, which is a funding branch of the State Department, has no authorized projects in Venezuela or agreements with the Venezuelan government. From the beginning, its motives have been purely political.

Without the presence of these three agencies in Caracas, the US Embassy has taken on an even more important role - evident in the major boost in its 2012 budget. In 2010, the Embassy in Caracas had an annual budget of $18,022,000; in 2011 it dropped to $15,980,000. But in 2012, the budget swoops up to $24,056,000, nearly a $9 million increase.

The US doesn’t even have an ambassador in that embassy, nor plans to name one. Relations with Venezuela are frozen and handled at the “charge d’affairs” level. Furthermore, the number of embassy staff has remained the same since 2010: 81 employees. So, what is the extra $9 million for?

There is no doubt that these funds are destined for the electoral campaigns in 2012, when Venezuela has both presidential and regional elections. Now that USAID and its contractors are no longer operating in-country, the embassy will be the principle channel to ensure those funds reach their destination.

So far, the total reaches $19 million - at minimum - from Washington to the Venezuelan opposition in 2012, but that’s not all.

In the State Department’s 2012 budget, $48,160,000 was requested to fund the Organization of American States (OEA). In the justification for those funds, State specifies that part of the money will be used “to deploy special ‘democracy practitioner’ teams to states where democracy faces threats from the growing presence of alternate concepts such as the ‘participatory democracy’ advocated by Venezuela and Bolivia”.

Additionally, the budget claims the funds will be used to support “the appropriate responses to threats on freedom of expression and abuses by governments against their people, particularly in states such as Venezuela and Cuba”.

At minimum, a few of those $48 million will be filtered to groups in Venezuela that work against the government of Hugo Chavez.


And then there’s still the NED, which funds with at least $1 million annually a dozen groups in Venezuela, including Sumate, CEDICE, Futuro Presente, Liderazgo y Visión, Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPyS), Consorcio Justicia, Radar de los Barrios, Ciudadanía Activa, and others.

The NED’s budget for 2012, which is $104,000,000, states the following: “In the Andean region, the Venezuelan presidential election scheduled for December 2012 will have relevant consequences for the country and the neighborhood, as President Chavez seeks reelection for an additional six-year term. NED will support civil society organizations in their efforts to enhance voter participation and promote free, fair and competitive elections”.

Although the exact amount of money the NED will be providing to Venezuelan opposition groups in 2012 is not specified, it’s plans to intervene in Venezuela’s electoral process is obvious.

These multimillion-dollar funds destined to the Venezuelan opposition in 2012 leave no doubt that Washington will continue its plans to interfere in Venezuela’s internal politics, while trying - by any means - to impede the future of the Bolivarian Revolution. At the same time, these millions reinforce the decade-old belief that Chavez’s opposition remains “Made in USA”.

Estados Unidos: $20 millones para la oposición en Venezuela en 2012

Por Eva Golinger

Ya Washington viene preparando fondos para apoyar la campaña electoral de la oposición contra el Presidente Hugo Chávez durante las próximas elecciones presidenciales en diciembre 2012

Desde que ganó Hugo Chávez sus primeras elecciones presidenciales en 1998, el gobierno de los Estados Unidos ha estado intentando sacarlo del poder. Con inversiones multimillonarios, cada año las agencias de Washington asesoran y ayudan a los sectores anti-chavistas con sus campañas y estrategias de desestabilización en Venezuela.

A pesar de sus múltiples intentos, incluyendo un golpe de estado en 2002 que brevemente forzó al Presidente Chávez del poder, sus esfuerzos han sido en vano. La popularidad del jefe de estado venezolano sigue subiendo, y los dirigentes opositores no logran convencer al público venezolano de sus proyectos. Las últimas encuestas colocan el apoyo al Presidente Chávez por encima de 57%, mientras que la oposición no sobrepasa el 20%.

No obstante, Washington sigue buscando nuevos mecanismos para lograr su eterno objetivo de recuperar el control sobre los recursos estratégicos de Venezuela - las más grandes reservas petroleras del mundo - y eso significa poner fin a Hugo Chávez.

Una de sus principales tácticas ha sido la alimentación del conflicto interno en Venezuela a través de la consolidación de un movimiento opositor, que a pesar de la imposibilidad de mantenerlo unido, siempre permanece en las esferas de la política del país.


El principal motor detrás de esta táctica ha sido la inversión multimillonaria de las agencias de Washington, junto a algunas europeas y canadienses, en el sector opositor venezolano, tanto como el apoyo estratégico que estas mismas agencias han prestado con asesores expertos en todo, desde la imagen hasta el discurso.

A través de la National Endowment for Democracy (NED), una agencia creada por el Congreso estadounidense y financiada por el Departamento de Estado, y la Agencia Internacional del Desarrollo de Estados Unidos (USAID), Washington ha canalizado más de 100 millones de dólares a grupos anti-chavistas en Venezuela desde el 2002. Gran parte de ese dinero ha sido utilizado para ejecutar las campañas electorales de los candidatos opositores, además de las permanentes campañas mediáticas que inundan los medios nacionales e internacionales contra el gobierno de Hugo Chávez.

A pesar de la crisis económica en Estados Unidos, este dinero no ha parado.

En Febrero 2011, el Presidente Barack Obama solicitó 5 millones de dólares en su presupuesto nacional para el 2012 para financiar grupos anti-chavistas en Venezuela. Fue primera vez que un presidente estadounidense había solicitado dinero abiertamente para financiar grupos de oposición en Venezuela, además de hacerlo en su presupuesto nacional, y en un momento cuando él mismo está recortando fondos para los servicios sociales de los propios estadounidenses. Prefiere Obama gastar dinero en esfuerzos para sacar al Presidente de Venezuela - un presidente electo democráticamente y apoyado por la mayoría de su país - que satisfacer las necesidades de su propio pueblo.

Pero esos 5 millones de dólares no son sino la cuarta parte del dinero que Washington ya está preparando para enviar a la oposición venezolana en 2012.


La Embajada de Estados Unidos en Caracas, Venezuela, ha sido el centro de distribución y coordinación de la mayoría de estos fondos de la USAID y la NED desde el 2002. No obstante, hasta finales del 2010, la USAID mantenía oficinas de 3 de sus contratistas en Caracas: el Instituto Republicano Internacional (IRI), el Instituto Demócrata Nacional (NDI) y Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI). A través de estas entidades, particularmente DAI, USAID canalizaba millones de dólares cada año a cientos de grupos, proyectos, campañas e iniciativas de la oposición en Venezuela. IRI y NDI suministraban más asesoría política que dinero líquido.

Las tres agencies de Washington salieron abruptamente de Venezuela, cuando ya para finales del 2010, la Asamblea Nacional aprobó una ley prohibiendo esta clase de financiamiento externo para fines políticos en el país. A principios del 2011, USAID colocó una nota en su página web diciendo que su programa para Venezuela había sido transferido a su oficina para América Latina en Washington. Ninguna otra información sobre su Oficina de Iniciativas hacia una Transición (OTI), que había mantenido en Caracas desde 2002, fue ofrecida al público.

No obstante, en el presupuesto de la USAID para 2012 un mínimo de 5 millones de dólares adicionales ya aparecen apartados para sus proyectos en Venezuela. La USAID, que es un brazo financiero del Departamento de Estado, no tiene ningún proyecto autorizado por el gobierno venezolano en Venezuela. Sus únicos motivos en Venezuela han sido fines políticos, en contra del gobierno de Hugo Chávez.

Sin la presencia física de estas tres agencias en Caracas, la Embajada de Estados Unidos asume un papel más importante - y lo evidencia su notable aumento en presupuesto para el 2012. En 2010, la Embajada en Caracas tenía un presupuesto de $18,022,000; esto bajó en 2011 a $15,980,000 dólares. Pero para el 2012, sube a $24,056,000, un aumento de casi $9 millones de dólares.

Ni siquiera hay embajador de Estados Unidos en esa embajada, solo hay una encargada de negocios. Además, el número de empleados en la embajada ha quedado igual durante estos tres años: 81 personas. No hay aumento en empleados para el 2012. Entonces, ¿para qué son los $9 millones de dólares adicionales?

Sin duda son para la campaña opositora durante las elecciones presidenciales y regionales en 2012. Ahora que la USAID y sus contratistas no están operando directamente en el país, es la Embajada que servirá como canal de estos fondos ilícitos que violan las leyes venezolanas.

Ya van $19 millones de dólares - mínimo - de Washington para la oposición en 2012, pero no es todo.

En el presupuesto del Departamento de Estado para 2012, también se destaca $48,160,000 para la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA). En la justificación de ese presupuesto multimillonario, específicamente dice que parte de ese dinero sería utilizado para “continuar el despliegue de equipos especiales de ‘practicantes de democracia’ en estados donde la democracia enfrenta amenazas de la creciente presencia de conceptos alternativos como la ‘democracia participativa’ de Venezuela y Bolivia...”

Dice adicionalmente que el dinero sería utilizado para “apoyar la respuesta adecuada frente a las amenazas contra la libertad de expresión y los abusos cometidos de gobiernos contra sus pueblos, particularmente en Venezuela y Cuba...”

Entonces, por lo menos unos cuantos millones de esos $48 millones van a ser canalizados a grupos en Venezuela que activamente trabajan contra el gobierno de Hugo Chávez.


Y no hay que olvidar a la NED, que cada año ha financiado con un mínimo de $1 millón de dólares a una docena de grupos en Venezuela, incluyendo a Súmate, CEDICE, Futuro Presente, Liderazgo y Visión, Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPyS), Consorcio Justicia, Radar de los Barrios, Ciudadanía Activa, entre otros.

Su presupuesto para el 2012, de $104,000,000, destaca lo siguiente: “En la región andina, las elecciones presidenciales en Venezuela que tomarán lugar en diciembre 2012 tendrán consecuencias relevantes para el país y sus vecinos, mientras el Presidente Chávez busca la reelección para un mandato adicional de seis años. La NED apoyará a las organizaciones de la sociedad civil en sus esfuerzos para mejorar la participación electoral y promover elecciones libres, justas y competitivas”.

Aunque no distingue la cantidad exacta de dinero que la NED estará dando a los grupos en Venezuela en 2012, sí dice claramente que estarán interviniendo en el proceso electoral del país.

Todo este dinero multimillonario que será destinado a la oposición venezolana en 2012 no deja duda que Washington sigue con sus mismos planes de siempre para interferir en la política interna de Venezuela e intentar - de cualquier manera - impedir la continuación de la Revolución Bolivariana. Al mismo tiempo, estos millones de dólares evidencian que la oposición venezolana sigue siendo, “Made en USA”.

Friday, July 1, 2011

President Chávez appears on Venezuelan TV in Working Meeting

RIght now, footage of President Chavez in a meeting with members of his cabinet, including Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro, General Henry Rangel Silva and Adan Chávez, is airing on Venezuelan television. The working meeting took place this Wednesday, June 29, from Havana, where Chávez is recovering from his recent surgery to remove first a pelvic abscess and later a cancerous mass, which was successfully extracted in entirety. The Venezuelan President appears fully energetic, strong, and pretty much his usual chatty self, talking about issues in Venezuela, foreign policy and the latest books he's reading. He is smiling, full of his usual passion and concerns for everything happening in Venezuela. Of course, he didn't fail to respond to the latest threats made by Washington against Venezuela when just this Monday, the US State Department put Venezuela on a list of countries allegedly "trafficking in persons". "The only threat is the Yankee Empire", exclaimed Chávez, with his usual fervor. Ah yes, this is the Chávez we know well!!!

[You can view his speech made last night, June 30, to the Venezuelan people here with English subtitles ]

President Chavez's Address to the Nation, 30 June 2011


On Thursday Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez spoke to the Venezuelan people live on national television, referring to recent health issues he has faced that include a cancerous tumor that was succesfully removed by medical professionals in Havana, Cuba.

President Hugo Chávez's Address to the Venezuelan People:

"I put my hope on time. Its huge womb holds more hopes than past events, and future events shall be superior to the past ones." Simón Bolívar.

Time and its pace; time and its mandates; time and its designs, as noted in Ecclesiastes, makes me read this communiqué over to the Venezuelan nation and international public opinion, for they are waiting to learn about the progress in my health conditions, since it has now been several weeks since it started showing deterioration.

After our superb tour of Brazil and Ecuador, between the fifth and seventh days of last June, we arrived in the always supportive Cuba to complete the tour with the wrap-up and signing of new cooperation agreements. I must admit that, as for my health, I had only planned to check out my left knee, which was almost recovered from an injury that occurred in early May.

Throughout my life I have always made one of those mistakes that could perfectly fit into a category that some philosopher called fundamental errors - neglecting my health and being reluctant to get checkups and medical treatments. What a fundamental error indeed! Particularly in a revolutionary with some humble responsibilities such as the ones entrusted to me by the revolution over 30 years ago.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned, on Wednesday evening, June 8, in Havana, there we were again, with Fidel, with such a giant who has gone beyond all times and places. Surely it was not difficult for Fidel to note some discomfort, in addition to my left knee, that I had been trying to conceal for several weeks. He inquiried as to the discomfort, almost as if he were a doctor; and I made my confession, almost as if I were a patient. That same night, the whole medical breakthrough achieved by the Cuban revolution for the sake of its people and for most of the world was made available to us and a set of diagnostic tests started.

Hence, a foreign mass in the pelvic area was found, leading to an emergency surgery in the face of the impending risk of widespread infection. That was on Saturday, June 11, very early in the morning, some hours before the address read over to the country and the world, giving rise to many expressions of solidarity, which do not stop moving me every single moment.

After that surgery which initially succeeded in draining the abscess, an intensive antibiotic treatment started with a positive assessment, I mean, positive progression, which brought along notable improvement. Nevertheless, despite the overall favorable progress, throughout the process of drainages and cures, some suspected additional cell masses thus far undetected arrose.

Therefore, another set of special cytochemical, cytological, microbiological and anatomical pathology studies was conducted and we confirmed the existence of an abscessed tumor with cancerous cells. This made a second surgery necessary which allowed us to fully remove said tumor. It was a major surgery without complications. After that, I have continued evolving satisfactorily, whereas I receive supplementary treatments to fight the various cells found and thus keep along towards my full recovery.

In the meantime, I have kept up and continue to be informed and in command of the actions of the Bolivarian government, in direct contact with the Vice-President, comrade Elías Jaua, and all my government staff.

I am immensely grateful for the numerous and enthusiastic expressions of solidarity received from the Venezuelan people and other fellow peoples, as well as from Heads of State and Government of numerous countries around the world, convinced that all that love, all that solidarity, are the most lofty energy which drive and will drive my willingness to vanquish in this new battle that life has put in front of me. And I am especially grateful to the Cuban people, the Cuban nation, Fidel, Raúl, all that medical legion who has been in the front of this battle in a really sublime way.

However, I have been keenly aware of some degree of anguish and uncertainty that has been overwhelming throughout these days, these nights, in the soul and body of the Venezuelan nation. I think that beyond the manipulating attempts of some well-known sectors, such feelings were and are unavoidable. They form part of the very human condition which nature is also surrounded by, its circumstances, and many times is shaken off, as in this case.

From the very beginning, I took on every responsibility concerning strict care of the veracity of the information to be delivered, based on a two-fold set of reasons - firstly, the medical-scientific reason and secondly, and with utmost, special care from the bottom of my soul and conscience, the human reason, the loving reason. To be more precise; The loving reason.

We have talked somewhat about the first reason. It has been a slow and careful process of approaches and diagnoses, advances and discoveries throughout several stages, where a rigorous scientific procedure has been applied, which procedure admits neither haste nor pressure whatsoever. The supreme rule which governs this mighty reason is full scientific verification beyond any indications and suspicions that might emerge.

As regards the loving reason, I feel obliged now to speak to you from deep inside myself. At this moment, I can remember February 4 of that thunderous year 1992. That day, I had no choice but to address myself to Venezuela from my decline, from a road that I felt was leading me to a bottomless abyss. From sort of a dark cavern of my soul, the "for now" emerged; afterwards, I plunged.

Also, those ill-fated hours of April 11, 2002 come to my memory right now. Then, I also sent to my beloved Venezuelan people that message written from the naval base of Turiamo, where I was held prisoner, a toppled president made prisoner. It was like a painful chant from the bottom of another abyss which I felt was swelling me in its throat and sinking me, and it sank me.

Again, at this new time of troubles and above all, since the very Fidel Castro, the same one of Moncada Military Barracks, the same one of the Granma, the same one of Sierra Maestra, the everlasting giant, came to give me the tough news of the cancerous finding. I started begging my Lord Jesus; my parents' God, as Simón Bolívar would say; the Virgin's gown, as my mother Elena would say; the savannah spirits, as Florentino Coronado would say, for them to give me the possibility to speak to you, not from an abyss or a dark cavern or a night without stars. I wanted to speak to you with the sun of the dawn that I feel rising. I think we have achieved it, thank God.

And finally, my beloved fellow countrymen and countrywomen; my beloved daughters and sons; my dear comrades; young people, boys and girls of my people; my dear patriotic women; my people, all and only one in my heart, I tell you that wanting to speak to you today as I prepare once again to return has nothing to do with myself but with you, patriotic people, good people, with you.

I did not want and do not want you at all to join me on any path leading to any abyss whatsoever. I urge you to continue together, climbing up to new summits, "for there are cherries over there, on the hill and a beautiful song to be sung," as the people's singer, our dear Alí Primera, keeps on telling us from his eternity.

Let us go, then, with our Father Bolívar, in the vanguard, to continue climbing up to the summit, Chimborazo! Thank God; thank you my people; thank you my life. Until victory always! We will win! Havana, this beloved and heroic Havana, on June 30, 2011.

I tell you from the great homeland, from my heart, from my whole soul, from my supreme hope which is the hope of the people, now and forever. We will live and win. Thank you very much. Until my return.

Hugo Chávez Frías
President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
30 June 2011