Thursday, January 12, 2012

Venezuela: The Threat of a Good Example?


Washington has made no secret of its disdain for Venezuela’s President Chavez and mass media have turned a democratic leader into a dictatorship. Does Venezuela really represent a threat to the United States or is the hype just an excuse for regime change?

[NOTE: I accompanied President Chavez on his last trip to Iran in October 2010 and can attest to the legitimate relationship between both nations. We did not visit nuclear plants, instead we visited housing construction sites which were subsequently used as models for a public housing program currently underway in Venezuela in joint venture with Iran. I also personally visited the Iranian-Venezuelan tractor factory in southeastern Bolivar state in Venezuela several years ago and rode on one of the tractors. I can solidly say it was not radioactive nor a front for an atomic bomb.]

The visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Latin America this week caused a frenzy in Washington. The thought of US Enemy #1 just miles away, south of the border, cozying up to nations once dominated by Washington’s agenda was too much to bear for a government desperately trying to isolate Iran and rid the Persian nation of the Islamic Revolution. Days before Ahmadinejad’s arrival to Venezuela, his first stop on a four-country Latin American tour, the US State Department warned the region of receiving the Iranian President and strengthening ties while Washington was intensifying sanctions against Iran and increasing pressure on Ahmadinejad’s government. As a sign of its severity, Washington also expelled a Venezuelan diplomat serving as General Consul in Miami, for alleged links to an unsubstantiated Iranian plot against the United States.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez laughed off Washington’s warnings as words from a “ridiculous empire” that no longer “dominates us in Latin America”. “We are sovereign nations”, Chavez made clear, as he received the Iranian President with open arms. Chavez even ironized about Washington’s accusations that the Iranian-Venezuelan relationship represents a threat to the United States.

“They accuse us over and over again of plans to attack the United States. They say we are building a bomb to launch against Washington. See that hill right there”, said President Chavez to journalists at the presidential palace covering Ahmadinejad’s arrival. “The grass will open up to reveal a big atomic bomb that President Ahmadinejad and I will launch against the White House”, he joked.

“The only war Venezuela and Iran are waging together is the war against hunger, against poverty, against exclusion”, clarified Chavez in a stern tone.

For years now, US government officials, outside analysts, think tanks, government consultants and media commentators have made wild-eyed accusations against Venezuela, claiming it is building missile bases with Iran to plan attacks against the US and hosting terrorist training camps for members of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. These absurd claims go as far to allege Venezuelan-Iranian joint ventures, such as car and bicycle factories and milk processing plants are fronts for secret underground uranium enrichment sites where nuclear bombs are being made right now for use against the United States. Even a commercial flight between Caracas and Teheran was claimed by these US “analysts” and some members of Congress, such as Connie Mack and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (both Florida Republicans), as a “terror flight” used to transport “radioactive materials” and “terrorists”.

As ridiculous as Washington’s allegations against Venezuela may seem, these dangerous, unsubstantied accusations are being used to amp up hostilities against the South American nation, channel multimillion-dollar funding to anti-Chavez groups in an attempt to destabilize the Venezuelan government and to further perpetuate a media campaign demonizing the Venezuelan head of state, painting the oil-producing country as a dictatorship.

Over the past few years, as the campaign against Venezuela has intensified, common jargon in mass media referring to Venezuela and President Chavez includes terms such as “dictator”, “authoritarian”, “tyrant”, “terrorist”, “threat” and portrays the Latin American country as a “failed state” where human rights are constantly “violated” and freedom of expression is non-existent. Anyone who has ever visited Venezuela during the Chavez administration knows that not only is there no dictatorship, but democracy is open, vibrant and participatory, free speech flourishes and Venezuelans enjoy more human rights guarantees than their northern neighbors in the United States. Media need be reminded that President Chavez has been elected by more than 60% of the vote in transparent electoral processes with 80% voter participation certified by international observers.

As President Chavez pointed out recently, the Venezuelan government is investing more in social programs and anti-poverty measures each year while countries such as the United States are cutting back social services. In Venezuela, poverty has been reduced by over 50% during the last ten years, thanks to the social policies of the Chavez administration, while in the United States, 1 in 5 children are currently living in extreme poverty. Unemployment in Venezuela was 6.5% in December 2011, while in the US, the rate sat at 8.5%. Exclusion, lack of opportunity, voter abstention and other social ills are on the rise in the United States.

“Obama, forget about it. Mind your own business and take care of your own country, where you have a lot of problems”, suggested President Chavez during a recent speech. Chavez was also quick to point out that Obama just cut federal assistance for home heating oil costs for low income families, leaving thousands to suffer through a bitter cold winter, choosing between food or warmth. Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government just renewed and expanded its home heating oil assistance program to communities in the US through Citgo, its US-based oil company. For the past 7 years, the Venezuelan company Citgo has been the only oil corporation in the US willing to provide reduced-cost home heating oil to those in need. It’s ironic that the Venezuelan government is helping people in the US while the US government and US companies refuse to do so.


The relationship between Venezuela and Iran may cause alarm in some circles in Washington, but it’s not for the reasons portrayed in the media. As founding members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1960, Venezuela and Iran have shared close relations for decades. Both countries have strategic interests around the world. However, it wasn’t until recently that these relations broadened beyond energy.

Iran’s entry into Latin America as a trade partner, along with China and Russia, is the real threat to US hegemony in the region. US companies, that have monopolized the hemisphere for over a century, are now being replaced by Asian, Middle Eastern and European ventures willing to provide more enticing offers to countries such as Venezuela. Agreements with Iran, for example, include technology transfer, not just the purchase of products. The car factories Iranian companies have built in Venezuela are not just for assembly of an Iranian product. The agreements include providing Venezuelans with the know-how to produce cars from the raw materials to the end product. This knowledge is essential to ensure long-term development, growth and economic stability.

The hyped-up, falsified accusations of terrorism and warmongering against Venezuela - none of which have ever been substantiated with real evidence - are dangerous attempts to scare public opinion into justifying some kind of aggression against a peaceful nation. Venezuela has never invaded, attacked, threatened or intervened in another country, nor has it bombed or assassinated the citizens of other nations. Venezuela has a policy of peace, and it’s never broken or violated that promise.

Venezuela also has the sovereign right to engage in relations with other nations as it sees fit and to develop its own internal policies to best benefit the well being of its people. That seems to be the greatest threat of all to the United States.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ejército de EEUU busca la radiación para matar a los líderes de la Guerra Fría

Ejército de EEUU busca la radiación para matar a los líderes de la Guerra Fría

{Original in English here]

Por Robert Burns - The Associated Press

Publicado: Martes 09 de octubre 2007

En uno de los secretos más duraderos de la Guerra Fría, el Ejército de Estados Unidos exploró la posibilidad de utilizar venenos radioactivos para asesinar a "personas importantes", como líderes militares o civiles, según documentos desclasificados obtenidos por The Associated Press.

Aprobados por los niveles más altos del Ejército estadounidense en 1948, el esfuerzo formó parte de la búsqueda secreta de los militares para un "nuevo concepto de guerra" usando materiales radiactivos de la bomba atómica para contaminar franjas de tierra enemiga o para utilizar contra bases militares, fábricas o tropas enemigas.

Los historiadores militares que han investigado el amplio programa de guerra radiológica, dijeron en entrevistas que nunca antes habían visto evidencia de la búsqueda de un arma de asesinato, hasta ahora. Usando armas así contra figuras públicas tiene precedentes. El año pasado, un atacante desconocido utilizó una pequeña cantidad de polonio-210 para asesinar al crítico del Kremlin Alexander Litvinenko en Londres.

No se mencionan personas afectadas en las referencias sobre las armas de asesinato en los documentos desclasificados del gobierno, que fueron recibidos en respuesta a una solicitud bajo la Ley de Acceso a la Información (FOIA) presentada por la AP en 1995.

Los antiguos documentos dados recientemente a la AP fueron censurados por el gobierno estadounidense para eliminar detalles sobre los agentes de guerra radiológica y otros detalles. La censura refleja que la preocupación sobre el potencial para el uso de venenos radiactivos como arma es más que una nota histórica, sino que se cree que es buscado por la actual terroristas empeñados en atacar objetivos de los EE.UU.

Los documentos no indican si un arma radiológica para asesinar a individuos de alto rango fue usado alguna vez o incluso si fue finalmente desarrollado por los EE.UU. Los documentos no indican hasta qué punto llegó el proyecto del Ejército. Un memorando de diciembre 1948 describe el proyecto, y otra nota de ese mes indicó que estaba en marcha. Las principales secciones de varios informes de progreso en 1949 fueron censuradas antes de la liberación de los documentos a la AP.

El esfuerzo más amplio del uso ofensivo de guerra radiológica al parecer murió alrededor de 1954, al menos en parte debido a la convicción del Departamento de Defensa de que las armas nucleares eran una mejor opción.

No está claro si el trabajo pasó a otra agencia como la CIA. El proyecto recibió la aprobación final en noviembre de 1948 y comenzó el mes siguiente, justo un año después de la creación de la CIA en 1947.

Fue una época turbulenta en la escena internacional. En agosto 1949, la Unión Soviética probó con éxito su primera bomba atómica, y dos meses más tarde los comunistas de Mao Zedong triunfaron en la guerra civil china.

Mientras los científicos de EE.UU. desarrollaron la bomba atómica durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, fue reconocido que los agentes radiactivos utilizados o creados en el proceso de fabricación tenían un potencial letal. El primer informe público del gobierno estadounidense sobre el proyecto de la bomba, publicado en 1945, señaló que los productos radiactivos de fisión de un reactor de uranio como combustible podrían ser extraídos y utilizados "como una forma particularmente cruel de gas venenoso."

Entre los documentos entregados a la AP - una nota del Ejército de fecha 16 de diciembre 1948, y clasificada secreto - se describe un programa intensivo para desarrollar una variedad de usos militares de los materiales radiactivos. Trabajar en un "arma de ataque subversivo de los individuos o grupos pequeños" fue catalogado como una prioridad secundaria, que se limitó a estudios de viabilidad y experiencias.

Las principales prioridades enumeradas fueron:

• Armas de contaminar "las zonas pobladas o de otra manera críticas por largos períodos de tiempo."

• Municiones de la combinación de explosivos de alta potencia con material radiactivo "para lograr daños físicos y contaminación radiactiva simultáneamente".

• Armas de aire y / o armas de superficie que se extendieran la contaminación a través de un área para ser evacuado, por lo que éste no podrá utilizarse por las fuerzas enemigas.

El objetivo declarado era crear un prototipo de armas de prioridad para el No. 1 y No. 2 para el 31 de diciembre de 1950.

La cuarta prioridad del ranking fue "municiones para atacar a los individuos" usando agentes radiactivos para los que "no hay curas ni terapia."

"Esta clase de municiones se proponía para el uso de agentes secretos o unidades subversivas en ataques letales contra grupos pequeños de individuos importantes, por ejemplo, durante las reuniones de líderes civiles o militares", decían los documentos.

El asesinato de personalidades extranjeras por parte de agentes del gobierno de EE.UU. no fue prohibido explícitamente hasta que el presidente Gerald R. Ford firmó una orden ejecutiva en 1976 en respuesta a las revelaciones de que la CIA había planeado en la década de 1960 el asesinato del presidente cubano Fidel Castro, incluso por envenenamiento.

El 16 de diciembre 1948, un informe destacó que un ataque letal contra una persona utilizando material radiactivo se debería hacer de una manera que hiciera que sea imposible rastrear la participación del gobierno de EE.UU., un concepto conocido como "negación plausible" que es fundamental para las acciones encubiertas de EE.UU.

"El origen de la munición, el hecho de que un ataque se ha hecho, y el tipo de ataque no debe ser determinable, si es posible", decía. "La munición debe ser discreta y fácilmente transportable."

Se pensaban que los agentes radiactivos eran ideales para este uso, según el documento, debido a su alta toxicidad y el hecho de que las personas afectadas no podían oler, gustar o sentir el ataque.

"Debería ser posible, por ejemplo, desarrollar una munición muy pequeña, que podría funcionar imperceptiblemente y que establecería una concentración invisible, pero altamente letal en una habitación, con los efectos visibles sólo mucho después de la hora del ataque," decía.

Tom Bielefeld, un físico de Harvard que ha estudiado el tema de armas radiológicas, dice que aunque nunca había oído hablar sobre este proyecto, sus objetivos técnicos suenan factibles.

Bielefeld señaló que el polonio, la sustancia radiactiva utilizada para matar a Litvinenko en noviembre de 2006, tiene exactamente el tipo de características que serían adecuadas para la misión letal que se describe en la nota de 16 de diciembre de 1948.

Barton Bernstein, profesor de historia de la Universidad Stanford en California que ha realizado una amplia investigación sobre los esfuerzos de los militares de EE.UU. para desarrollar la guerra radiológica, dijo que este aspecto no había llegado anteriormente a la luz pública.

"Este es uno de los elementos que nos sorprende, pero no debe sorprendernos, ya que en la Guerra Fría, todo tipo de formas de matar a la gente, de todas las maneras - inhumanas, bárbaras y hasta peor - se contemplaron periódicamente a altos niveles del gobierno de Estados Unidos en lo que fue visto como una guerra justa contra un enemigo odiado y odioso", dijo Bernstein.

El proyecto fue dirigido por el Cuerpo Químico del Ejército, comandado por el general de división Alden H. Waitt, y supervisado por un organismo ya desaparecido llamado el Proyecto de Armas Especiales de las Fuerzas Armadas. El primer jefe del proyecto fue el mayor general Leslie R. Groves, jefe del Ejército del Proyecto Manhattan que construyó las primeras bombas atómicas. El proyecto fue aprobado por el sucesor de Groves, el general de división Kenneth D. Nichols.

Los documentos desclasificados fueron puestos en público en los archivos del Proyecto de Armas Especiales de las Fuerzas Armadas en el Archivo Nacional de Estados Unidos.

Entre los receptores del documento del 16 de diciembre se encontraban Herbert Scoville, Jr., el director técnico del Proyecto de Armas Especiales de las Fuerzas Armadas y el subdirector de la CIA para la investigación, y Samuel T. Cohen, un físico de Rand Corp. que había trabajado en el Proyecto Manhattan.

El primer visto bueno para el Ejército de llevar a cabo su proyecto de armas radiológicas se dio en mayo de 1948, un punto importante de la historia de EE.UU., porque fue justo después de la utilización con éxito de dos bombas atómicas contra Japón para poner fin a la Segunda Guerra Mundial. El ejército estaba ansioso para explorar las implicaciones de la ciencia atómica para el futuro de la guerra.

En un documento desclasificado de julio 1948 delineando la intención del programa antes de haber recibido los detalles para la aprobación final, un punto de enfoque fue la larga duración de la contaminación de grandes extensiones de tierra donde los residentes tendrían que salir o morirían de la radiación dentro de uno a 10 años.

"Se cree que este es un nuevo concepto de la guerra, con resultados que no se pueden predecir", decía el documento.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Guerra contra Venezuela: Las Falsas Acusaciones de Washington Contra el Gobierno de Chávez

Por Eva Golinger

Desde el fracaso del intento de golpe apoyado por Estados Unidos en contra del Presidente Hugo Chávez en Venezuela en abril de 2002, Washington sigue buscando una variedad de estrategias para sacar del poder al abrumadoramente popular Jefe de Estado Suramericano. El financiamiento multimillonario a grupos antichavistas en Venezuela a través de los organismos del Gobierno estadounidense, como la Fundación Nacional para la Democracia (NED por sus siglas en inglés) y la Agencia del Desarrollo de los EEUU (USAID por sus siglas en inglés), se ha incrementado exponencialmente en los últimos diez años; así como el apoyo político directo a través de asesores, estrategas y consultores, todos buscando ayudar a una oposición impopular y desfasada para llegar al poder.

Los organismos gubernamentales estadounidenses, incluyendo el Departamento de Estado, la Agencia Central de Inteligencia (CIA por sus siglas en inglés), La Dirección Nacional de Inteligencia y el Pentágono, han abultado su lenguaje hostil contra el Gobierno de Venezuela en los últimos años. La importante nación productora de petróleo ha sido incluida en las innumerables e infundadas “listas” producidas anualmente por Washington, como por ejemplo, “incumplimiento en la cooperación en la lucha antinarcóticos”, “incumplimiento en el apoyo en la guerra contra el terrorismo”, “trata de personas” y otros, basados en decisiones políticas y no en evidencia concreta y sustancial para apoyar sus acusaciones. Estas calificaciones han permitido a Washington no sólo justificar el uso de millones dólares de los contribuyentes estadounidenses distribuidos a grupos antichavistas con fachada de ONG, sino incrementar la presencia militar en la región y convencer a la opinión pública de que Hugo Chávez es un enemigo.

A pesar de las “promesas” de relaciones respetuosas y de no intervención, el lenguaje hostil y las acciones hacia Venezuela del Gobierno de Obama han llevado a congelar las relaciones diplomáticas entre ambas naciones, sumado a los planes expansivos dentro de Washington para incluir a la nación Suramericana en el “eje terrorista del mal”. El proceso en contra de Venezuela, que comenzó durante la administración de George W. Bush, ha sido rápidamente acelerado por Obama. Con el Comité de Asuntos Exteriores de la Cámara de Representantes de EEUU en manos de los republicanos de Florida, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen y Connie Mack (ambos furibundos enemigos de Chávez), el Congreso ha estado presionando para lograr acciones directas contra Venezuela buscando provocar la expulsión de Chávez y colocar a un Gobierno “Amigable con EEUU” en el poder.

Venezuela no sólo tiene las reservas de petróleo más grandes del planeta, con posiblemente más de 500 billones de barriles, aproximadamente 300 certificables, sino que la posición geopolítica del país como puerto de Suramérica, con fronteras en el Caribe, los Andes y el Amazonas, la convierten en una de las naciones estratégicamente más importantes del mundo. Adicionalmente al petróleo, Venezuela tiene inmensas reservas minerales, metales pesados, uranio y agua.

El creciente liderazgo de Chávez y su influencia en la región han enojado a Washington desde hace algún tiempo. Los esfuerzos por demonizar, ridiculizar y hasta ignorar al Jefe de Estado venezolano han sido utilizados por el Gobierno de EEUU y los medios de comunicación masivos durante los últimos años, creando una percepción distorsionada de la realidad de Venezuela en la opinión pública. A pesar de las numerosas elecciones realizadas, todas supervisadas por observadores internacionales, en las cuales Chávez ha ganado con alrededor del 60% de los votos, los medios internacionales proyectan al Presidente venezolano como un “dictador” y a la nación como un “Estado fallido”. Sin embargo, la creciente y vibrante democracia venezolana, en la que una mayoría anteriormente excluida y silenciada por Gobiernos anteriores apoyados por EEUU, hoy participan libre y ampliamente, han logrado cambios extraordinarios en la nación, incluyendo una reducción de un 50% de la pobreza, garantía de asistencia médica y educación gratuitas, una tasa de desempleo del 6% (una baja respecto al 15% anterior) y un gran desarrollo en cuanto a infraestructura.

Aunque el Presidente Obama se había abstenido de hablar sobre Venezuela (igual que su predecesor Bush) una reciente entrevista en un periódico nacional antichavista, El Universal, evidencia un cambio en la política. La entrevista, que se apoya en una alarmante transmisión de un “reporte” no corroborado que intenta vincular a Venezuela, Cuba e Irán con un complot terrorista en contra de EEUU, aparecida en el canal latino más grande de Estados Unidos, Univisión, se lee como una página sacada del grueso libro de falsas acusaciones hechas en contra de Venezuela desde que Chávez llegó al poder en 1999.

En respuestas escritas al periódico venezolano, Obama (o su equipo de asesores) insinuó que Venezuela era una dictadura y manifestó su “preocupación por las medidas del Gobierno que han restringido los derechos universales de los venezolanos, amenazan los principales valores democráticos y fracasaron en contribuir con la seguridad en la región”. Por supuesto Obama omite citar ejemplos reales para confirmar su “preocupación”. Estas son simplemente el tipo de declaraciones que han sido regurgitadas por los voceros de Washington durante la última década, nunca con una sola prueba de evidencia viable para respaldar sus afirmaciones condenatorias.

Ningún derecho ha sido restringido en Venezuela por el Gobierno. De hecho, los derechos se han ampliado bajo la nueva Constitución que fue escrita y ratificada por los venezolanos en un Referéndum Nacional en 1999. Los venezolanos tienen los derechos básicos de atención médica, educación, alimentación, vivienda, trabajo digno, salario mínimo, participación, expresión, recreación y cultura, lo que los 300 millones de habitantes de Estados Unidos no tienen. Y es cínico decir que Venezuela, un país con un poder militar mínimo que jamás ha atacado a otra nación ni amenazado o invadido a ningún vecino, es “una amenaza regional para la seguridad”. La historia del Gobierno de EEUU de 200 años de invasiones, masacres, golpes, intervenciones y otras agresiones en contra de casi todas las naciones de América Latina y el Caribe no puede quedar “en el pasado” como quisiera Obama.

Obama no omitió mencionar su “preocupación” acerca de la relación de Venezuela con Irán, sobre la cual afirmó “Tomamos muy en serio las actividades de Irán, incluyendo las de Venezuela y continuaremos monitoreándolas de cerca”. No es coincidencia que estas declaraciones vinieron seguidas del documental al estilo Hollywood de Univisión, “La Amenaza Iraní”, que hace peligrosas afirmaciones difamatorias en contra de la administración de Chávez en un intento por incluir a Venezuela en un falso complot terrorista.

A pesar de la ridiculez de las afirmaciones de Univisión, miembros del Congreso están conversando con Obama para que tome acciones preventivas en contra de Irán y Venezuela. Otros “comentaristas” y “analistas” están ocupados escribiendo blogs y columnas advirtiendo sobre la creciente amenaza terrorista al Sur de la frontera estadounidense. Estas peligrosas e infundadas acusaciones pueden fácilmente ser usadas para justificar un ataque contra Venezuela, como usaron las armas de destrucción masiva en contra de Iraq y “proteger a la población” se uso en contra de Libia.

Irán y Venezuela tienen una relación comercial normal. Ambos países comparten tecnología y recursos para hacer carros y bicicletas, construir viviendas y operar fabricas de leche. Desde luego los carros, las viviendas y la leche no se equiparan a una amenaza terrorista. Una y otra vez, Venezuela ha demostrado que no hay “campos de entrenamiento terrorista” en su territorio. Ni tampoco está construyendo en secreto una bomba para atacar a EEUU. Venezuela es una nación pacifica. No invade, ataca ni amenaza a otros países.

Las temerarias agresiones de Obama en contra de Venezuela podrían llevar a una atrocidad innecesaria. Como dijo el Presidente Chávez, a Obama le iría mejor enfocándose en los problemas que tiene en casa, en lugar de crear otros más en el exterior.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

War on Venezuela: Washington’s False Accusations Against The Chavez Government

By Eva Golinger

Ever since the US-supported coup attempt against President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela failed in April 2002, Washington has been pursuing a variety of strategies to remove the overwhelmingly popular South American head of state from power. Multimillion-dollar funding to anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela through US government agencies, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), has increased exponentially over the past ten years, as has direct political support through advisors, strategists and consultants- all aiming to help an unpopular and outdated opposition rise to power.

US government agencies, including the State Department, Central Intelligence Agency, National Directorate of Intelligence and the Pentagon, have pumped up their hostile language towards the Venezuelan government in recent years. The major oil-producing nation has been placed on the countless, and baseless “lists” produced annually by Washington, including “failure to cooperate with counter-narcotics efforts”, “failure to aid in the war on terror”, “trafficking in persons”, and others, that are based on political decisions instead of concrete, substantial evidence to support their accusations. These classifications have enabled Washington to justify not only the millions of US taxpayer dollars channeled to anti-Chavez groups fronting as NGOs, but also to increase military presence in the region and convince public opinion that Hugo Chavez is an enemy.

Despite “promises” of respectful relations and non-intervention, the Obama government’s hostile language and actions towards Venezuela have led to a freezing of diplomatic relations between both nations coupled with expanding plans within Washington to include the South American nation in the “terrorist axis of evil”. The build-up against Venezuela that began during the George W. Bush administration has been rapidly excelerated by Obama. With the House Foreign Relations Committee in the hands of Florida Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Connie Mack - both rabid Chavez-haters - Congress has been pushing hard for direct actions against Venezuela to provoke Chavez’s ouster and place a “US-friendly” government in power.

Not only does Venezuela have the largest oil reserves on the planet, with possibly over 500 billion barrels, about 300 certifiable, but the country’s geopolitical position as the port of South America, with borders on the Caribbean, Andean and Amazon, make it one of the most strategically important nations in the world. In addition to oil, Venezuela has vast mineral reserves, heavy metals, uranium and water.

President Chavez’s growing leadership and influence in the region has angered Washington for some time. Efforts to demonize, ridicule and even ignore the Venezuelan head of state have been employed by the US government and mass media over the past several years, creating a distorted perception amongst public opinion of Venezuela’s reality. Despite numerous elections, all overseen by international observers and in which Chavez has won with around 60% of the vote, international media portray the Venezuelan President as a “dictator” and the nation as a “failing state”. But Venezuela’s growing, vibrant democracy, in which a majority previously excluded and silenced by prior US-supported governments today participate freely and widely, has achieved extraordinary changes in the nation, including a 50% reduction in poverty, a guarantee of free, universal healthcare and education, a 6% unemployment rate (down from 15%) and major infrastructure development.

While President Obama has largely refrained from personally commenting on Venezuela, as did his predecessor Bush, a recent interview provided to an anti-Chavez national daily newspaper, El Universal, evidences a shift in policy. The interview, given on the heels of an alarming broadcast of an uncorroborated “report” attempting to link Venezuela, Cuba and Iran to a terrorist plot against the US, which aired on the largest Spanish-language station in the United States, Univision, reads like a page right out of the thick book of false accusations made against Venezuela since Chavez came to power in 1999.

In written responses to the Venezuelan newspaper, Obama (or his team of advisors) insinuated Venezuela was a dictatorship and expressed his “concern about the government’s actions, which have restricted the universal rights of the Venezuelan people, threatened basic democratic values, and failed to contribute to security in the region”. Obama, of course, fails to cite any real examples to substantiate his “concerns”. These are merely the types of statements that have been regurgitated by Washington’s spokespeople over the past decade, never with a shred of viable evidence to back their damning claims.

No rights have been restricted in Venezuela by the government. In fact, rights have been amplified under the new constitution that was written and ratified by the people of Venezuela in national referendum in 1999. Venezuelans have the basic rights to healthcare, education, food, housing, dignified work, a living wage, participation, expression, recreation and culture that the 300 million citizens of the United States don’t have. And it’s cynical to say that Venezuela, a country with minimal military power that has never attacked another nation, threatened or invaded a neighbor, is a “regional security threat”. The US government’s 200-year history of invasions, massacres, coups, interventions and other aggressions against almost every Latin American and Caribbean nation cannot be left “in the past” as Obama would prefer.

Obama didn’t fail to mention his “concern” about Venezuela’s relationship with Iran, regarding which he stated, “We take Iranian activities, including in Venezuela, very seriously and we will continue to monitor them closely”. It’s no coincidence that these statements follow the airing of the Hollywood-esque Univision documentary, “The Iranian Threat”, which makes dangerous defamatory claims against the Chavez administration in an attempt to include Venezuela in a bogus terrorist plot.

Despite the ridiculousness of the Univision claims, members of Congress are bantering Obama to take preemptive action against both Iran and Venezuela. Other “commentators” and “analysts” are busy writing blogs and columns warning of the growing terrorist threat south of the US border. These dangerous, unfounded accusations could easily be used to justify an attack against Venezuela, as weapons of mass destruction was used against Iraq and “protecting the population” was used against Libya.

Iran and Venezuela have a normal commercial relationship. The two countries share technology and resources to make automobiles and bicycles, build housing construction and run milk factories. Surely cars, homes and milk don’t equate to a terrorist threat. Time again, Venezuela has shown there are no “terrorist training camps” on its soil. Nor is it secretly building a bomb to attack the US. Venezuela is a nation of peace. It does not invade, attack or threaten other countries.

Obama’s reckless bandwagoning of aggression against Venezuela could lead to an unnecessary atrocity. As President Chavez said, Obama would be better off focusing on the troubles at home, rather than trying to create new ones abroad.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Union is Born: Latin America in Revolution

By Eva Golinger

While much of the world is in crisis and protests are erupting throughout Europe and the United States, Latin American and Caribbean nations are building consensus, advancing social justice and increasing positive cooperation in the region. Social, political and economic transformations have been taking place through democratic processes in countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil throughout the past decade, leading to a massive reduction in poverty and income disparity in the region, and a substantial increase in social services, quality of life and direct participation in political process.

One of the major initiatives of progressive Latin American governments this century has been the creation of new regional organizations that promote integration, cooperation and solidarity amongst neighboring nations. Cuba and Venezuela began this process in 2004 with the founding of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), that now includes Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominica, St. Vincent’s and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda. ALBA was initially launched in response to the US government’s failed attempt to impose its Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) throughout the region. Today ALBA is a thriving multilateral organization with member nations that share similar political visions for their countries and for the region, and includes numerous cooperation agreements in economic, social and cultural areas. The fundamental basis of trade amongst ALBA nations is solidarity and mutual benefit. There is no competition, exploitation or attempt to dominate amongst ALBA states. ALBA even counts on its own currency, the SUCRE, which allows for trade between member nations without dependence on the US dollar.

In 2008, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) was formally established as a regional body representing South American states. While ALBA is much more consolidated as a unified political voice, UNASUR represents a diversity of political positions, economic models and visions for the region. But UNASUR members share the common goal of working towards regional unity and guaranteeing the resolution of conflicts through peaceful and diplomatic means. UNASUR has already played a key role in peacefully resolving disputes in Bolivia, particularly during an attempted coup against the government of Evo Morales in 2008, and has also successfully moderated a severe conflict between Colombia and Venezuela, leading to the reestablishment of relations in 2010.

Two hundred years ago, South American Independence hero Simon Bolivar, a native of Venezuela, dreamed of building regional unity and creating a “Patria Grande” (Grand Homeland) in Latin America. After achieving independence for Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia, and fighting colonialists in several Caribbean nations, Bolivar attempted to turn this dream of Latin American unity into reality. His efforts were sabotaged by powerful interests opposing the creation of a solid regional bloc, and eventually, with the aid of the United States, Bolivar was ousted from his rule in Venezuela and died isolated in Colombia several years later. Meanwhile, the US government had proceeded to implement its Monroe Doctrine, a decree first declared by President James Monroe in 1823 to ensure US domination and control over the newly-freed nations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Nearly two hundred years of invasions, interventions, aggressions, coup d’etats and hostilities led by the US government against Latin American nations shadowed the 19th and 20th centuries. By the end of the 20th century, Washington had successfully imposed governments in every Latin American and Caribbean nation that were subordinate to its agenda, with the exception of Cuba. The Monroe Doctrine had been achieved, and the US felt confident in its control over its “backyard”.

The unexpected turn at the beginning of the 21st century in Venezuela, formerly one of Washington’s most stable and subservient partners, came as a shock to the US. Hugo Chavez had been elected President and a Revolution had begun. A coup d’etat attempt in 2002 failed to subvert the advancement of the Bolivarian Revolution and the spread of revolutionary fever throughout the region. Soon Bolivia followed, then Nicaragua and Ecuador. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay elected socialist presidents, two of them former guerrilla fighters. Major changes began to occur throughout the region as the peoples of this vast, diverse and rich continent assumed power and made their voices heard.

Social transformations in Venezuela that gave voice to people’s power became exemplary for others in the region, as did President Chavez’s defiance of US imperialism. A powerful sentiment of Latin American sovereignty and independence grew stronger, even reaching those with governments aligned with US interests and multinational control.

On December 2-3, 2011, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was born and the overwhelming force of a continent nearly 600 million strong, achieved a 200-year dream of unity. The 33 member nations of CELAC all agree on the unquestionable necessity to build a regional organization that represents their interests, and that excludes the overbearing presence of the US and Canada. While CELAC will take time to consolidate, the exceptional commitment evidenced by the 33 states present at its launching in Caracas, Venezuela, cannot be underestimated.

CELAC will have to overcome attempts to sabotage and neutralize its expansion and endurance, and the threats against it and intents to divide member nations will be numerous and frequent. But the resistance of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean who have resumed this path of unity and independence after nearly two hundred years of imperialist aggression, demonstrates the powerful force that has led this region to become an inspiration for those seeking social justice and true freedom around the world.

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."