International Information Programs
March 15, 2005

March 15, 2005





**  "Chavez's leading role" energizes Latin leaders "raised in the left-wing."

**  Chavez, Lula, Kirchner and Vazquez:  inclined to be "socialist and anti-capitalist."

**  Venezuela provides an "example to follow," and seeks to "diversify its exports."

**  Latin leaders, forming alliances for "ganging up on the IMF" and thwarting FTAA.




Undeniably, the 'president of an important South American nation'--  Chavez, "Washington's bete noire," according to Britain's Guardian, along with other center-left Latin leaders in Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay, blames U.S. "neo-liberal free market policies" for Latin America's economic woes.  Conversely, a Venezuelan economist claimed that Chavez's financial "excesses and madness" will have Venezuelan depositors "paying the consequences" as banks alone benefit from the Bolivarian revolution.  Argentina's business- financial El Cronista questioned its nation's "dangerous partnership" with Chavez and expressed reservations about Chavez's providing "the model to be followed."


A 'leftist wave in Latin America' grows--  Panama's Critica highlighted Chavez's "cause of rescuing the socialist movement in Latin America," while a leading Caracas outlet asserted he heralds a "new kind of socialism [yet] to be developed."  Venezuela's tabloid Diario VEA labeled Uruguay's Vázquez's presidency "the clearest signal" of South American political changes.  Writers highlighted leftist and nationalist leanings of Chavez, Kirchner, Lula et al and downplayed differences on how Latin "integration should be built."  Colombia's El Nacional noted Uribe opted for rapprochement with Chavez through an apologetic accomodation after a border incursion, adding, "relations between our two intertwined nations are fundamental."  


'For Chavez...the true revolution has started'--  Caracas' leading conservative El Universal stated, Chavez, in pursuit of the Bolivarian revolution, was intent on "the disruption of the 'Monroe’ axis (Bogotá-Lima-Quito-La Paz-Santiago) controlled by the Pentagon."  Mexico's nationalist Universal pondered "an armed Venezuela" giving "clear signs of exhausting the liberal model, generating a political crisis in many countries."  And other writers noted Chavez is bent on "getting out of capitalism" by divesting Venezuelan interest in Citgo and diversifying markets.  Using "petro-diplomacy" as he did in India, New Delhi's Navbharat Times judged Chavez wants to "end his country's dependence on its largest customer, the United States."


Chavez's revolution aims 'to attract other countries'--  Argentine media spotlighted Venezuela and Brazil's launch of a "strategic alliance" to create a "pillar of South America's integration" that sends a "clear political message" to the U.S.  According to leading Clarin, Mercosur notwithstanding, Kirchner and Lula joined Chavez to strengthen the South American Community by agreeing to "negotiate with the IMF as a bloc."  Beijing's People's Daily opined summarily, "Chavez has been making efforts to prevent the establishment of an American free trade zone and is actively promoting Latin American interests outside the U.S.’s sphere of influence";  this was said in the context of Chavez's claim the U.S. wants to assassinate him.


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Rupert D. Vaughan


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 100 reports from 10 countries over 2 February to 14 March 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed in the most recent date.




ARGENTINA:   "Is (Nestor) Kirchner Similar To Hugo Chavez?"


Joaquin Morales Sola, political columnist of daily-of-record La Nacion commented (3/14):  "Last Monday, the Spanish newspaper El Pais widely reported that the U.S. has again spotlighted Latin America.  According to the paper, 'The 2005 agenda is in alignment with Washington's need for approaching presidents like Mexican Fox, Brazilian Lula or Argentine Kirchner, the latter being moderate center-to-left leaders, which is better than the populism of Venezuelan president Chavez.'  Three days later, on Thursday, Kirchner looked more similar to Chavez rather than Lula or Fox.  It was when he vehemently called to boycott the Shell oil company....  Kirchner's boycott and the picket's bravado received wide coverage in international networks, among them CNN, and hit the front-page headlines of several foreign newspapers.  According to an Argentine diplomatic source, 'The damage that has been inflicted to the country is enormous.  No investor is thinking of Argentina...' Is Kirchner really an Argentine version of Chavez?  In fact, the President has two problems: he does not want to be Chavez and he is not able to be Chavez.  The latter's verbosity and rebellious attitude call for an inevitable requisite: floating, as he is, on a sea of oil.  But, additionally, Kirchner hates to be compared with Chavez....  Nevertheless, quite a few are wondering what Kirchner may like or do; his image is now associated with the style of the Venezuelan President in too many capital cities of the world."


"Two Left-wings In Latin America"


Political columnist Mariano Grondona penned in daily-of-record La Nacion (3/14):  "In recent decades, Spain and Chile have been two of the most successful Western countries from the economic viewpoint...while Argentina has been one of the least successful countries in the same sector. While its economic evolution has been nil, its social evolution has been alarming.  When democracy returned in 1983, it used to have 16 percent of people living in poverty.  Today, this percentage has increased to over 40 percent, exactly the opposite of Chile....  There have been two kinds of democracy in Chile and Spain, on the one hand, and in Argentina, on the other hand.  One of them is a positive democracy and the other is resilient to economic and social development....  In an article published last in Tuesday's La Nacion under the headline 'The leftist wave in Latin America,' columnist Andres Oppenheimer warned about the increasing influence of leftists in our region, but Oppenheimer is not concerned over the 'rational' left wing in countries such as Brazil and Uruguay, which could follow the steps of Chile, but over the 'irrational left wing, which, according to him, lies in Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina....  If Kirchner's left wing proves to be irrational, our country will again fall in the stagnation typical of those democracies that are resilient to development when the 'economic rebound' of the 2001/2 meltdown ends....  If, on the contrary, he reverses his own anti-capitalistic rhetoric, Kirchner will pass to history as a new Felipe Gonzalez, a new Lagos, as long as he manages, as they did, to grant a more conciliating style to his leadership instead of surprising with abrupt changes of humor that do nothing to help turn Argentina into a safe country for investors."


"From Mud To Sludge"


Marcelo Cantelmi, international editor of leading Clarin, commented (3/13):  "According to some coarse reductionism, the chronic Bolivian crisis was a result of the clash between a pro-State, closed sector and an open, pro-free market sector.  Reportedly, the first one could scare away investment by condemning the country to poverty while the second one would encourage them, with which all calamities would be over. Neither one situation nor the other is true.  There are too many examples of state-ruled economies where private capital wander.  China, Vietnam or the super-burocratic pro-Castro Cuba are too eloquent cases to insist on this interested Manicheanism.  What happens in Bolivia is much more complex.  It shows the fatigue of a people that has been subdued for 18 years to ultra-liberal experiments that have unleashed social exclusion, which can only be compared with that of Haiti in the region. Surprise in this case is astonishing--this sludge should not be surprising if one bears in mind the mud."


"The U.S. And The IMF, Concerned Over Those Not Accepting Debt Swap Offer"


Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading Clarin, commented (3/8):  "During the separate meetings Argentine Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna held with IMF head Rodrigo Rato and U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, they wanted to know what the Argentine government will do with holdout creditors.  As reported by Clarin, the two of them are concerned over the strategy to be used regarding the 20 billion dollars in bonds.  Lavagna answered that the government has decided not to reopen the debt swap offer.  According to a source that closely follows negotiations, the minister and his team explained that those creditors threatened to litigate and then Argentina's strategy will be to get ready to defend itself in court, and compel banks that counseled bondholders to be included in lawsuits.  The debate related to this issue has not ended. truth is that the U.S. Treasury Department is concerned over holdout creditors... On the eve of the meeting between Snow and Lavagna, U.S. Treasury's Assistant Secretary John Taylor publicly said that the acceptance rate of the country's debt swap offer was higher than expected, and that given the complexity of the operation 'one can say that it was successful,' but he quickly added 'Now we are anxious to see how they will proceed with other creditors.' In fact, some G-7 countries, like Italy, have asked that the solution of the situation of holdout creditors be a condition for the IMF to strike a new deal with Argentina."


 "Concrete Information From The IMF To Reopen The Debt Swap Offer"


Washington-based Mara Laudonia wrote in business-financial El Cronista (3/8)   "In the first tête-à-tête with the IMF after the debt swap offer, Argentina started on the right foot. The official delegation, led by Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna, met with representatives of an institution that lacks a unique position on the outcome of the operation, but seems willing to start negotiations as soon as possible in order to normalize relations. This was interpreted as a positive sign and calmed the local delegation....  The IMF posed the inevitable question of what Argentina will do with the 24 percent that were left out of the debt swap offer, and expressed concern over whether the swap offer will be re-opened or not.  Argentina, following its usual course, denied that possibility by rebuking the IMF, saying that it should provide concrete information, not mere speculation."


"The Turn Of The Political Umbrella For The Debt Swap Offer"


David Cufre, economic contributor to left-of-center Pagina 12, wrote (3/8):  "Roberto Lavagna has long experience in negotiations with the IMF.  He knows things are never easy.  On the contrary, they are complicated, tedious and call for extra doses of patience.  Ever since Argentina stopped being the 'best student of Washington,' everything takes time, and the successful outcome of the debt swap offer did not change that reality.  The Economy Minister verified this yesterday during his second meeting with IMF head Rodrigo Rato.  According to the IMF staff, the problem now is how to avoid appearing as the one who was defeated.  In any event, it cannot refuse to reach a deal after the (Argentine) government accomplished the requisite of obtaining more than 75 percent of creditor acceptance.  For now, the solution of this dilemma is to lengthen terms.  Lavagna is 'reasonably optimistic': he trusts that he will strike a deal although he takes it for granted that he will have to hold lengthy discussions for this purpose."


The Bush Administration Closely Watches The Conflict With Concern"


Alberto Armendariz, New York-based correspondent for daily-of-record La Nacion opined (3/8):  "While the Bolivian Congress was getting ready to consider Bolivian President Carlos Mesa's resignation letter, the U.S. expressed yesterday its 'strong and full' support for the president and urged all political forces to seek national consensus in order to rescue the country out of its current crisis. Edgar Vasquez, the U.S. State Department's spokesperson, told 'La Nacion' that 'The U.S. maintains its steady and full support for Bolivian President Mesa.  We hope the current political crisis can be peacefully and democratically solved'....  The acceptance of Mesa's resignation could pave the way for advanced elections, which could end up with the worst nightmare for Washington in the event Evo Morales could win elections....   According to Julia Sweig, expert analyst in Latin American affairs at the Council of Foreign Relations, 'Washington has not focused its attention on the Bolivian problems lately, but rather on big countries, such as Venezuela or Colombia, and Cuba, thereby devoting less and  less funds to the smallest ones, such as Bolivia. Now we can see the consequences.' Morales' eventual triumph in elections, which could mean the failure of the US anti-drug policy in Bolivia, would indirectly be the US's responsibility."


"A Strategy Of The President To Maintain Power"


Oscar Raul Cardoso, international analyst of leading Clarin judged (3/8):  "In spite of his resignation, Mesa does not seem to want to leave power. What he did was attempt to downplay his problems by agitating the ghosts of Morales and other political leaders along the lines of Luis XIV: 'After me, the deluge.' Mesa could obtain his confirmation, but this has a limitation--that the political parties that could grant it are also going through the same deterioration the Government is experiencing. Bolivia, whose popular demands exceed claims for low public rates or mere controls on foreign companies, is perhaps a warning for the democracies of the region, which prescribe aspirins to mitigate the popular headache caused by the neo-liberal (political and economic) model."


"Everything At Stake"


Marcelo Cantelmi, leading Clarin international editor stated (3/7):  "Looks like all is at stake....  The fact that Bolivian President Mesa didn't refer to his resignation as irrevocable is no minor issue... The truth is that the president appeared cornered, so he reacted.  Evo Morales' pressure, which announced a limitless escalation of the picketers' policy aimed at reducing the oil profit, threatened to break the spine of his administration. So Mesa's situation reflected the same crisis that expelled former President Lozada from office. It's not clear yet what Congress will do, but there are certain unexpected issues that will most likely influence the present scenario--particularly the rallies around the country and the support of the most critical sectors of the rich Santa Cruz region which, up to now, had requested the President's resignation. Last night, Mesa managed to turn things in his favor and undermine Morales' autonomy. If he wins, as seems to be the case, then he will have power and legitimacy to tackle a much tougher war."


"One Kirchner Governs, Another Kirchner Talks"


Political analyst Joaquin Morales Sola commented in the daily-of-record La Nacion  (3/6):  "Gestures are sometimes as important as actions.   Twenty-four hours after the end of the Argentine default was announced, Roberto Lavagna had interviews planned...with U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow and IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato.....   The president himself has been generous to Lavagna...Kirchner's impulsive and bellicose soul has no remedy....  Kirchner spoke aggressively about the lawsuits filed by foreign companies in international settlement courts.  The decision of the government is less dramatic.  It sustains, and is is not entirely wrong, that those tribunals cannot judge an econmic policy decision (the conversion from dollars to pesos) that not ony affected foreign companies, but also national ones.  It affected, in the first place, Argentine society, whose quality of life caved in....  Meanwhile the president's address was , like all the wars he wages, the speech of a natural partisan.  The world  does not need to invest in Argentina; it is Argentina that needs the world's investment....  U.S. investors are awaiting the messages the Argentine government sends.....  U.S. investors are always paying attention to the messages sent by the GOA.  Nobody really knows why, but Washington's stakes were always placed on Argentina.  Snow invited Lavagna the moment he found out he would be in Washington.  The powerful Donald Rumsfeld will be in Buenos Aires in 15 days; he'll possibly spend a night here.  Vice President Dick Cheney just met with his counterpart Daniel Scioli.  Condoleezza Rice will meet in Washington with Foreign Minister Bielsa the last day in March, at 2.45; we mustn't rule out a possible trip by the influential Secretary of State.  Bush will be in Argentina in November and will possibly meet with Kirchner in the U.S.   These are the people that concentrate the essence of Washington's power....  Kirchner returns favors.  His interior minister, Anibal Fernandez, agreed with the U.S. government to implement a constant consultation program to reduce the drug drain through Ezeiza....  In Kirchner's 90-minute meeting in Montevideo with Presidents Lula and Chavez, Bush was not mentioned even once.  Kirchner has always made it known to Washington that it was best for everyone to have someone to take care of containing the populist Venezuelan leader.  He is the volunteer.  Sometimes, not always, the Kirchner that governs is another man, a different one from the one who exhausts the microphones with tantrum after tantrum."


"Lula, Chavez And Kirchner Agree To Negotiate With IMF As A Bloc"


Political columnist Mariano Obarrio, on special assignment in Montevideo, remarked in the daily-of-record La Nacion (3/3):  "Yesterday, President Kirchner took part in a summit with his counterparts of Venezuela and Brazil, in which they decided to strengthen the recently created South American Community (without setting aside the goal of improving Mercosur), and outline the common principles for countries in the region to redesign their negotiations with multilateral lending organizations. After the meeting, Foreign Minister Bielsa said 'Countries in the region will unify their common positions in order to negotiate with the IMF and the rest of the organizations....  Among the president's entourage, after the successful debt swap and the end of default, they believe 'the IMF is no longer a corral and now the small animals can run away.' In their opinion, it's time to take advantage of the situation.... According to Government House sources, the reached agreement means that Lula resumed the original guidelines of the Copacabana Act, setting aside differences with Argentina...."


"Ganging Up On The IMF"


Liberal, English-language Buenos Aires Herald remarked (3/3):  "Presidents Lula and Chavez told their counterpart Kirchner yesterday that they were impressed by the outcome of Argentina's bad-debt renegotiation and the three leaders agreed to work in coming months on a common agenda to tackle talks with multilateral lending agencies....  Foreign Minister Bielsa said the three ministerial-level meetings are to be held in coming weeks to discuss social policy, economy and energy."


"Inter-American Press Association Says GOA Pressures The Press"


Susana Reinoso, stated in daily-of-record La Nacion (3/3):  "Media and journalists are subject to a kind of relationship with GOA officials which, in most cases, is defined as 'pressure', and which has important influence on the information they convey to the public.  This was declared yesterday by the Inter-American Press Association (IPA) during a press conference in which it released a preliminary report of its mission in Argentina.  The report warns of pressures on journalists and the media and expresses concern for the criteria in the distribution of official advertising.....  Next week, once the 1,400 IPA members meet in Panama, they will announce the final conclusions on the 'how serious the situation of the press in Argentina is,' said Uruguayan representative Danilo Arbilla.'"


"U.S. To Express Concern for SW Case"


Daily-of-record La Nacion commented (3/3):  "Today, at Government House, Minister of Interior Anibal Fernandez will receive the U.S. ambassador to Argentina, Lino Gutierrez, and the head of the DEA in Argentina, Anthony Grecco, who will convey U.S.G. concern for the drug trafficking to Spain involving the SW airline.  The meeting, previously scheduled to coordinate anti-drug activities,  will also give the officials the chance to express their concern regarding the removal of two people that have excellent relations with DEA: the head of the Dangerous Drugs Division at Customs, Juan Jose Isola, and his deputy, Daniel Paso, according to diplomatic sources.  Both of them were summoned by Judge Liporace to testify....  Today's meeting takes place before the one that's scheduled for March 22 between Secretary Rumsfeld and his counterpart, Jose Pampuro, in which it's very likely that they will also address the issue of drug trafficking."


"Expansionism Is On The Horizon"


Claudio Lozano, economist at CTA (Central de Trabajadores Argentinos-Argentine Workers' Union) opined in left-of-center Pagina 12 (2/24):  "In the framework of the legitimacy President Bush obtained in the November elections, a State of the Union just like the one he granted, the U.S. economic situation, its commercial and fiscal deficit, the American hemisphere is likely to suffer a expansionist strategy and a discharge of investment on the region....  Last Wednesday's State of the Union address only confirmed that there will be a reinforcement of a pro-FTAA strategy in the region and it is a call of attention for our democracies to fight this advance through reinforcing regional integration and promoting Mercosur.... We should not succumb to the temptation to strike bilateral deals with the U.S....  The threats included in Bush's speech are not rhetoric.... The only way to put a brake on him is continued opposition to demonstrated by the international community with the Spanish crisis, the Italian decision not to let Berlusconi continue in his position, Blair's political wearing out and the emergence of Latin American (left-wing) political leaders such as Lula in Brazil, Chavez in Venezuela, Kirchner in our country and Tabare (Vazquez) in Uruguay."


"Cuba, Venezuela and FTAA, In The First Meeting Between Bielsa And Rice"


Columnist on diplomatic issues Florencia Carbone penned in daily-of-record La Nacion (2/24):  "The meeting between Foreign Minister Bielsa and Secretary Rice has a date: March 31, when Bielsa arrives in Washington following his tour of Turkey and Morocco.  The appointment will allow Bielsa to meet Rice in person.... The meeting--confirmed by official sources and U.S. Embassy spokespersons--will be a 'general overview of the bilateral agenda and regional issues,' said one of Bielsa's collaborators.  Within the GOA, they hope the meeting will maintain the tone of the conversations that Powell and Bielsa held in September 2004, when the former Secretary of State told the minister that the U.S.G. believed it was time for both countries 'to have a more positive and broader agenda,' after the ups-and-downs in the bilateral relation, ranging from carnal relations, maturity or indifference, depending on the definition of the successive administrations.  The nature of the first meeting opens the door to a broad span of political and economic topics ranging from the status of FTAA negotiations--which interest the U.S. particularly--Mercosur, and the situation of some countries in the region which the U.S. pays more attention to--Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and Haiti, among others--followed by power relations between Mexico and Brazil, the role of Chile, the reform of the UNSC and an essential post- 9/11 issue: security....  Bielsa will negotiate with his U.S. counterpart a meeting between Bush and Kirchner prior to the trip of the U.S. leader to Argentina in November for the Summit of the Americas.  While the Argentine Foreign Ministry and the Embassy 'fine-tune' the agenda of the Bielsa-Rice meeting, the visit of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld remains without a fixed date.  'The Secretary wants to come, but there's no exact date yet,' the U.S. Embassy said yesterday in Buenos Aires."


"Foreign Banks Suggest Debt Swap Acceptance"


Economic writer Alejandro Rebossio commented in daily-of-record La Nacion (2/24):  "During the last days, major international banks openly recommended bondholders to support the debt swap, while most of them agree that the process will be relatively successful. Tomorrow will be the final day of the debt restructuring process, three years and two months after default was declared, but financial entities and stock market agents urged their interested clients wanting to participate to present all the documentation in order to have enough time to process it and send it to the trustee (the Bank of New York.)....  The first player of global weight to recommend the acceptance of the swap was the Deutsche Bank... The DB didn't rule out that a 'hold out' (a delay strategy which, in practice, is a rejection of the swap) might generate, in the long run, better results.' Nevertheless, it announced 'we believe that in order to achieve this result we will need an extraordinary financial capacity to cover legal expenses and time to wait.' It forecasted between 70 and 85% support...."


"Mass Support Yesterday, Debt Swap Heads for High Acceptance"


Business-financial El Cronista opined (2/24):  "The increasing support to the debt swap that began on Tuesday finally consolidated yesterday and the news was celebrated at the Ministry of Economy. 'There was a strong flow of funds from abroad, both from the U.S. and Europe, which is very positive,' said a highly optimistic economy source.  "All in all, there are still a couple of key days before the closing of operations. The same Economy source said that although the increase in subscriptions to the debt swap was important, they are still waiting to receive important purchases in the next few hours. Because, even though most investment banks received requests until yesterday, a good part of them will issue their operations between today or tomorrow...."


"Strong U.S. Warning On Tourists Traveling To Argentina"


Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading Clarin commented (2/16):  "The U.S. State Department's information for U.S. tourists about the Argentine security situation is not encouraging.  It mentions terrorists in the Triple Border, bombs at banks, picketers on the streets and highways, thieves willing to use force if they find resilience and kidnappings.  The latest consular report posted on the U.S. State Department's Website not only warned again on the terrorist danger at the Tri-Border but also on fire bombs... particularly at banks, automatic tellers, McDonald-like restaurants, public service offices and Jewish centers....  The paragraph about picketers and the way they cut the streets is short. It says that while demonstrations are not violent, there is a confrontation between picketers and the Police, many times in front of the U.S. embassy, as well as U.S. corporations."


"The U.S. Pressures Mercosur For A Greater Opening"


Business-financial, center-right InfoBae commented (2/16):  "DUSTR Peter Allgeier said the U.S. will only agree to discuss bilateral integration under the hemispheric umbrella with 'whoever is ready.'  The FTAA U.S. co-chair will meet with his Brazilian counterpart Adhemar Bahadian on February 23 and 24 to reactivate the hemispheric negotiation agenda, which has been stalled since early 2004, but before the meeting is made, both sides have already made clear that they have different interests.  Through Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim, Mercosur proposed to discuss a bilateral deal.  However, Bush's USTR Robert Zoellick said that the FTAA would be the U.S. priority.  In this regard, Allgeier clarified that those who want to strike bilateral deals with the U.S. will have to accept its demands for a 'broad and ambitious' understanding including tougher rules to protect patents and investments.  Allgeier said that the U.S. reaches trade deals with 'whoever is ready,' in clear reference to Mercosur's refusal to discuss the opening of the service sector, investment rules and patent protection.  Mercosur wants to limit the bilateral negotiation to market access."


"The U.S. Warns (U.S.) Tourists Traveling To Argentina"


Hugo Alconada Mon, political columnist of daily-of-record La Nacion writes (2/16):  "The U.S. Department of State has alerted U.S. tourists that criminal assaults with home-made bombs occur in Argentina 'once a month in average,' that '(the country's) air security is not in line with international standards,' that (U.S. tourists) should protect themselves from kidnappings and that 'drivers are very aggressive.'  The Office of Consular Issues at the U.S. State Department releases information every year regarding what a U.S. citizen should know before traveling to any country.  In the case of Argentina, the document was updated last Friday with some parameters that are similar to those of recent years while some others are new.  For instance, the document alerts U.S. citizens on 'individuals and organizations with ties with extremist groups' that are located 'along the Triple Border.'"


"The U.S. Is Concerned Over The Sale Of Russian Arms To Venezuela"


Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading Clarin commented (2/16):  "The U.S.G. is much more concerned over the arms deal that Venezuelan president Chavez signed with Russia than over that signed with Lula.  Furthermore, the White House sees Lula as a leader having regional ambitions that not necessarily contradict U.S. interests in the region.  A U.S.G. official told Clarin that the Super Tucano airplanes that Venezuela wants to buy from Brazil are basically training airplanes that also serve to patrol but do not have attack capabilities.  On the contrary, Russia agreed to sell Venezuela 50 Migs 20 SMT airplanes, 40 helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 'We fear that part of this armament could end up being used by subversives'....  The Bush administration believes that both Lula and Kirchner have a strategy to relate to Chavez in the framework of a broader objective, that of building some kind of South American integration....  Nevertheless, according to the U.S.G. official, Lula and Chavez have a very different view of how the South American integration should be built.  While Lula has a pragmatic and commercial view that is not necessarily anti-South American, Chavez' Bolivarian revolution is more 'confrontational.'  Kirchner, according to the U.S.G. official, is closer to the view of Lula than that of Chavez, but he has different economic and political needs."


"FTA: Venezuela Left Out"


Foreign Affairs expert Beatriz de Majo C. wrote in leading liberal daily El Nacional (2/15):  "While the FTAA is going through a bad time, another kind of agreement is being discussed between Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and the United States.  If the FTAA does not seem to make much headway, if the South American community of nations is still regarded as a desire and not as a reality, if the talks with Mercosur are just beginning, and if our best source of growth and development represented by the CAN is on the brink of extinction due to the adverse position of the most important of its members--Venezuela--the only solution for our partners and neighbors is signing pacts with the largest economies.  In the meantime, Venezuela, with an evident shift of commercial partner, insists on penetrating the Chinese market....  It might be good for Venezuela, but the conditions are difficult and it might be good for Venezuela to join efforts to export petrochemical products to the U.S.  But none of them is taking place and by mid-2005 the doors of the United States of America will be opened with zero tariffs to 99% of the industrial goods from our neighbors from Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.”


"The U.S. Already Sees Argentina Out Of Its default"


Leading Clarin published (2/15):  "Now that the Argentine debt swap is going through its final stage, the U.S. said it notices 'many positive things in Argentina' and stressed the performance of the country's monetary and fiscal policies, in addition to the growth of its GDP. U.S. Treasury Assistant Secretary for International Affairs John Taylor said to 'Clarin' that 'It is important for Argentina to get involved with the international community, which the country is doing right now.' While he preferred to be cautious and not opine regarding the Argentine debt restructuring process.... Taylor suggested the U.S. Treasury Department is already thinking of the morning after the end of this process... Furthermore, instead of the traditional Washington's claims on (the need for) structural reforms, Taylor preferred to make encouraging comments 'Regarding the monetary and fiscal policies and the economic growth, there are many positive things regarding Argentina at this moment.'  Taylor's statements appear in alignment wi

th those of VP Dick Cheney when he met with his Argentine counterpart, Daniel Scioli '(Argentina) is making a tough effort to get out of the crisis, and the U.S. will back this effort.'"


"Griesa Asks Argentina To Explain The Transfer Of Funds From The U.S. To Switzerland"

Mara Laudonia, economic and political columnist of business-financial El Cronista penned (2/15):  "A new judicial chapter in New York has granted more suspense to the Argentine defaulted debt (restructuring process).  Creditors found documentation proving that a transfer of funds was made from the US to the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland...even after verdicts were made in lawsuits against the country. The Central Bank believes that those funds are susceptible to be affected by attachment orders on behalf of investors.  The claim, which involves 'approximately 6.1 billion dollars,' took Argentina's lawyers by surprise during a hearing with judge Thomas Griesa two weeks ago, when the debt swap process was already in place.  The judge did not make any decision on this issue, but he ordered the country to prove whether those funds were originated in trading operations or not through the (asset) discovery judicial process."


"Has the Lion Awakened?"


VenEconomy expressed its view in English-language The Daily Journal (2/15):  “After six years of ‘stoic tolerance,’ the United States is awakening from the lethargy with which it has responded to President Chávez’ continuous verbal attacks.  Perhaps it is beginning to see that it ought to take notice of the pronouncements made by this revolutionary, since, where Chávez is concerned, there seems to be no slip twixt cup and lip.  The Bush administration is also beginning to realize that the influence of the Venezuelan president, supported by his ally Fidel Castro, could affect the peace and stability of Latin America.  Until recently, the U.S. president’s response to President Chávez’ constant verbal attacks was condescending, weak even.  Now the tone is changing.”


"Chávez’ Asymmetric War"


Liberal daily tabloid El Nuevo País  editorialized (2/15):  “Chávez doesn’t see himself as President.  His dream is being a guerrilla commander.  The asymmetric war against the United States goes for real.”


"A Brief Visit"


Leading liberal daily El Nacional  editorialized (2/15):  “Brazilian President, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva’s visit was brief; merely some hours in Caracas to go on to his other destinations: Guyana and Suriname.  We would have wanted Lula’s visit to our country to last longer so that his dialogues with representatives of the different sectors of the nation would allow him to have a more precise view of the Venezuelan reality.  Chávez does not hide his decision to turn south, to Brazil, rather than to the United States.  Brazil, more pragmatic, like Argentina or Chile, looks at every place where businesses are possible.  By reaffirming that he is willing to acquire military planes from Brazil, the well-known Tucanos, Chávez declared that ‘the United States delayed the delivery of spare parts for F-16 jets to Venezuela’, a fact that could explain their low operational capacity.  It would be worthwhile to know the U.S. reaction to this serious accusation, because it affects Venezuelan security.  Chávez accused the United States of 'imposing despicable conditions on Venezuela.’  We had not seen such a worrisome situation before.  Besides the deal with the Súper-Tucanos, Brazil and Venezuela discussed a system of satellite surveillance on the border between both countries.  It is a positive idea, since that region is permanently infested with irregulars: left-wing guerrilla, paramilitaries or drug traffickers, or a blend of the three carrying out criminal and subversive activities.  We don’t have enough or detailed information to weigh the agreements signed during Lula’s visit.  So far, there is a feeling that the trade between both countries favors Brazil in a proportion that will determine a negative balance for Venezuela.”




Columnist and political analyst Alberto Garrido wrote in leading conservative daily El Universal (2/15):  “Uribe receives pressure from Washington.  The Pentagon has warned that the Colombian war is also Colombia’s neighbors’ war.  The Andean War would simplify the regional political-military situation and would allow Washington to get rid of the Colombian guerrilla and of the ‘radical populism’ or Chávez’s Bolivarian revolution.  That’s why Plan Colombia has been extended until the year 2006.  The ‘Andeanization’ of the war is encouraged by the Southern Command as part of the American crusade against the guerrilla, labeled as terrorist, and the drug trafficking.  The Colombian President will try to convince Chávez that the kidnapping of ‘another’ Granda will not be repeated if the Venezuelan government takes the responsibility of thwarting any activity of the FARC in Venezuela.  Chávez has said that the revolution gets ready to face, if necessary, an asymmetric war.  This hypothetical war, designed to defeat an enemy with a conventional and superior military might (The United States), excludes the guerrilla.”




Oil expert and columnist José Toro Hardy wrote in leading conservative daily El Universal (2/15):  “Is it convenient for Venezuela to sell Citgo and invest that money to enter other markets?  It is convenient for Venezuela to penetrate other markets and to diversify its exports.  But it has to be done with additional oil output.  It is crazy to think that it is convenient to sell our share in the biggest, the most stable and the most profitable oil market to replace it with other destinations with a dubious stability and whose profitability might depend on the imposition of regulated prices.  Does Citgo subsidize the U.S.?  That is a stupid question that does not deserve any comment because it insults Venezuelans’ intelligence.” 


"Brazil And Venezuela Launch Ambitious Strategic Alliance"


Luis Esnal, Sao Paulo-based correspondent for daily-of-record La Nacion commented (2/15):  "Yesterday, in a new step to increase his influence on South American neighbors, President Lula launched his pragmatic alliance with Venezuela in Caracas....  Lula attempted to avoid rhetoric or statements challenging the U.S....  As he spoke, he referred to the need for turning the strategic alliance with Venezuela into a pillar of South America's integration....  The relationship between Lula and Chavez is a good one, but it shows fissures that the Brazilian diplomacy, which promotes Brazil's leadership in South America, has attempted to contain....  Nonetheless, the two leaders' differences of style have been overridden by the larger 'umbrella' represented by Brazil's intention to increase its commercial and political ties with South American countries, and, in this way, consolidate an area of influence that will enable Brazil to be in a better position to negotiate future commercial disputes (particularly, the FTAA and free market with the EU).  At the same time, Brazil is attempting to obtain a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, the WTO chair, and greater influence at the IMF."


"A Clear Political Message Addressed To Washington"


Eleonora Gosman, on special assignment in Caracas for leading Clarin penned (2/15):  "Yesterday, that rare opportunity in which presidential encounters convey clear messages occurred.  Lula and Hugo Chavez...underscored that the signing of a 'strategic alliance' between Brazil and Venezuela is not a symbolic act.  It commits the two countries to 'mutual cooperation' and will speed up their economic, political and military integration.  This is one of the most audacious moves of Brazilian foreign policy and is aimed at outlining regional geo-politics.  As a matter of fact, Lula has just announced that Venezuela is now one of the Brazilian government's top priority issues.  Lula's move...was an indirect message to Washington...particularly when he said that Venezuela's democracy is 'healthy'....  This brand-new partnership is based on economic interests...(however), military integration is the centerpiece of this bilateral alliance and highlights Brazil's objective to maintain its commitment to mediation in the event of a confrontation between the U.S., or even Colombia, with Chavez' Venezuela.  The deepening of the Venezuelan-Brazilian alliance, which has projects in sensitive areas for the White House, has already impacted on Brasilia.  U.S. ambassador John Danilovich said he was 'concerned,' and warned of U.S. disgust regarding the 'Bolivarian revolution's agenda' and stressed that the issue should not only disturb Washington but 'also the region and Brazil.'"


"Guns Or Burgers?"


Executive editor Michael Soltys opined in the liberal, English-language Buenos Aires Herald (2/15):  "The (Venezuelan) 'strategic' alliance with Brazil is interesting because comparison with a similar deal here in the previous week reveals important differences between Argentina and Brazil.  The focus on the 'strategic alliance' here with Venezuela early this month was very much 'oil for food'--by way of contrast, Venezuela seeks not so much food from Brazil as steel and Embraer aircraft (including fighter jets for joint border patrols) even if agribusiness was also part of the deal along with science and roads. The oil part of the agreement with Brazil is also less barter than a joint venture because Chavez respects Petrobras very much more than our Enarsa.  Chavez defended his arms deals with both Brazil and Russia because they include technology transfer."


"Has Argentina Really Left Its Debt Default Behind?"


Joaquin Morales Sola, prestigious political columnist of daily-of-record La Nacion opined (2/13):  "Local and international analysts assure that Argentina is in a position of considering a minimal 70 percent acceptance rate of its debt swap offer.... Nevertheless, the country's official abandonment of its debt default will always be a political decision that will not even be made by the IMF, but by the G-7, the group gathering the seven most largely developed nations of the world.  The Kirchner administration has a political dispute with the Berlusconi administration.  Italy is a member of the G-7 and Berlusconi is one of George W. Bush's closest allies....  Let's be honest. The only decisive influence at the G-7 and the IMF is that of Washington, but Bush will not have a choice if he has to choose between Berlusconi and Kirchner.  He will choose Berlusconi without having to think it twice.  Probably, time has come for Argentina to rebuild its old ties with Rome."


"Chavez Lashes Out  At Bush And Defends The Purchase Of Russian Armaments"


Ludmila Vinogradoff, on special assignment in Caracas for leading Clarin commented (2/13):  "There is a new front of conflict between Venezuela and the U.S. due to the Venezuelan purchase of Russian war armaments and vehicles....  U.S. Ambassador to Caracas William Brownfield said that the U.S. is concerned over the transparency of said operation after other U.S.G. officials said the weapons will end up being used by guerrillas, like those of Colombia.  Yesterday, President Hugo Chavez reacted harshly to those comments by answering that the U.S. 'lacks moral authority' to make those assertions.  After demanding foreign ambassadors not 'to interfere in the country's domestic issues', he underscored that 'One should wonder if there was transparency in the invasion of Iraq: the world knows that President (George) Bush brazenly lied when he said that Iraq had WMDs posing a threat to the world and then his utterances turned out to be a lie.'  The debate became even more global when Moscow rejected the U.S. comments by defending the operation (which, according to Russia, is based on an international certification), and it suggested that Washington complained only because it missed a business opportunity."


"The Colombian-Venezuelan Crisis"


Daily-of-record La Nacion editorialized (2/8):  "The Colombian-Venezuelan relationship is not at its best moment.  There is mounting tension between the two countries over the recent capture of guerrilla leader Rodrigo Granda....  The Argentine and Chilean governments said they are willing to mediate between the two governments that are involved in the controversy if they agree that said mediation could prove useful.  This is a positive, committed and responsible attitude that should be hailed.  Now, given the so-many-times proclaimed political and ideological affinity between the Kirchner and Chavez administrations, the feasibility of said mediation is dubious.  Colombia could not be willing to accept it."


"U.S. Gesture Toward Argentina"


Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading Clarin commented (2/8):  "The meeting between U.S. VP Dick Cheney and his Argentine counterpart, Daniel Scioli, lasted half an hour.  The White house termed it 'warm and positive,' and Scioli seemed pleased due to Cheney's 'favorable attitude' toward Argentina.  Cheney said 'Argentina is making a tough effort to get out of the crisis, and the U.S. will back this effort'....  A high-ranking White House official told Clarin that Cheney agreed to receive Scioli because 'at the beginning of his second term in office, President Bush is determined to stress the strength of the U.S. ties with the region and our interest in it'....  In this regard, the meeting with VP Scioli was most important.  While the White House believes (President) Bush's image in the region is 'positive,' there is no doubt that our countries are under the impression that he did not do enough....  The U.S.G. official said 'Cheney wanted to make it clear that the U.S./Argentine relationship is important for us,' and he added that Argentina can play a very important role in the region. Cheney also spoke about U.S. concern over Cuba and Venezuela....  According to the U.S., Argentina's positive economic performance is important not only for our country but also for the region. While the government official did not want to opine on the debt swap, he said that the frustration of some U.S. companies regarding public utility rates is 'understandable,' because Argentina 'has been dealing with the issues one by one, the IMF, the debt swap, and now the privatized corporations.'"


"Scioli Obtained VP Cheney's Support"


Daniel Gallo, political columnist of daily-of-record La Nacion commented (2/8):  "VP Daniel Scioli obtained from Washington the message he expected: the Bush administration will maintain its support for Argentina.  This is what U.S. VP Dick Cheney told him during the first minutes of their conversation at the White House.  Cheney said 'The Bush administration has great hope for Argentina.  It is going in the right direction and it has to continue this way.  The U.S. acknowledges Argentina's efforts to crawl out of a critical situation; a tough road is still ahead, and the U.S. will back Argentina in its efforts.'  The Argentine VP said that 'The U.S. knows that Argentina is a strategic ally in the governability of the region'....  Cheney devoted a good deal of his conversation to exchange opinions on the situation of Latin America.  The U.S. is concerned over the situation in Venezuela and Bolivia, and about the control of the so-called 'triple border'....  Scioli confirmed the Argentine government's commitment in the fight on terrorism, narco-trafficking and money laundering, which are top priorities on the U.S. international agenda."


"'Argentina Is On The Right Road And It Has To Continue This Way'"


Marcela Vega, economic columnist of business-financial, remarked in center-right InfoBae (2/8):  "The 'road to economic recovery' was the focus of the conversation held between the two U.S. and Argentine colleagues in the framework of an important meeting because it was the first meeting of leaders from the two countries since President Bush took over....  In a forty-minute meeting, Cheney assured Scioli that 'Argentina is making a tough effort to get out of the crisis and the U.S. will back this effort'....  According to witnesses, and in view of a detailed report on the country's main economic indexes, VP Cheney admitted that he was 'impressed' by the amazing economic recovery of the country, which pleased the Argentine delegation."


"U.S. Support, But Without Mentioning The (Private Debt Bond) Exchange"


Micaela Perez, economic columnist, highlighted in business-financial  El Cronista (2/8):  "Judging by Cheney's statements the support, although important, could better be termed 'generic,' given that it didn't include a concrete offer of assistance for Argentina to achieve a happy ending for its difficult debt exchange process."


"U.S.-Mercosur Gets Farther Away"


Business-financial Ambito Financiero noted (2/8):  "According to the main trade negotiator of the Bush administration, a trade agreement between the U.S. and Mercosur is today a remote alternative.  According to USTR Peter Allgeier..., the U.S. is no longer interested in the idea of reaching a 'four-plus-one' deal, which emerged from a proposal from Lula, and that progress could only be made within the FTAA framework....  Instead of working to reach a restricted deal, the U.S. will attempt to revive FTAA conversations...  In order to give new oomph to the FTAA, Allgeier and Brazilian Bahadian will meet this month."


"Crisis Of The Parties And The Chavez Case"


Joaquin Morales Sola, political analyst in daily-of-record La Nacion stated (2/6):  "A keen observer noted that, this time, the red carpet with which Kirchner's Argentina welcomed Chavez was 'much shorter.'  And he's right.  Even the Bush administration was a little confused at the beginning with the pictures of the smiling presidents.  But other Washington officials had a better reading of the imperceptible signs of that meeting.  Washington doesn't care about trade agreements, but of possible political coincidences instead....  Chavez has furiously divided Venezuelan society and his attacks against freedom of the press and the essential institutions of democracy are more serious each time.  Does Kirchner benefit from this close relationship?...  Kirchner and Washington share the same opinion on Bolivia's crisis.  Maybe this agreement, (and particularly Argentina's decision to send troops to Haiti) has normalized relations between the President and the Bush administration. 'There are no serious conflicts. Our diplomats have a fluent relationship with the GOA,' according to Washington. On Cuba, instead, there is no agreement, and there will continue to be no agreement.  But there are other bilateral issues (joint military exercises, for example) that must be solved during the course of this year, before Bush lands in Argentina in November to attend the Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata.  And here are the first steps: Vice President Scioli will meet on Monday with his counterpart Dick Cheney, the most powerful man in the U.S. after Bush himself.  Scioli carries a message from Kirchner to Washington: thank you for the support the U.S. gave Argentina at the multilateral organizations....   U.S. officials also criticized the advisor of their own government, Kirstin Forbes--who had said in Davos that the growth of Argentina's economy was only a rebound--for the 'not too elegant way' in which she gave an opinion that ought to have been a contribution and not a matter of controversy, according to those officials."


"Telesis: Dangerous Partnership with Chavez"


Business-financial El Cronista remarked (2/1):  "The fourth visit to Argentina of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is more than a protocol meeting between heads of State.  Chavez will sign agreements between both oil companies--Venezuela's PDVSA and Argentina's Enarsa--and will advance the initiative of a regional TV station called Telesur.... These deals between the GOA and the Chavez administration spark concern among democratic sectors that view in the former military a dangerous ally....  If Argentina needs Venezuela's oil, we mustn't despair....  In this case, we mustn't analyze Chavez' ideology, but the economic convenience of the oil deal instead.... However, the deal involving TV station Telesur is different.  The idea of siding with a leader with absolutist inclinations, who disqualifies the press that's against him, in a project that is merely cultural, cannot be considered innocent.  Clearly, the media legislation that was enforced in Venezuela is an example of the views the Chavez administration has regarding the role of the media and the press....  Certainly, for a government that intends to respect freedom of the press, this doesn't seem to be an easy or correct way to do so.  Unless, deliberately, this is the model to be followed."


BRAZIL:  "Bolivia's Mesa Out-maneuvers Opposition"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (3/10):  “Bolivian President Carlos Mesa’s maneuver to legitimize himself in power was successful.... The breath, however, tends to be more fugacious than it had been initially calculated.... The episode served to separate the president from populist leader Evo Morales and other radical leftists even more, and this is not good news in the context of the fragile Bolivian political stability....  In addition to disagreements with the left opposition, the Bolivian president is facing demands for more autonomy from businessmen of the rich and industrialized region of Santa Cruz de La Sierra.  The scenario, therefore, remains very tense.  If the populist opposition irresponsibly insists on destabilizing the president, the crisis may become even more dangerous, with serious damages for the nation and the region.”   

"Lula In Caracas"


Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo editorialized (2/16):  “What is worrisome in President Lula da Silva’s statements--and also in his foreign policy--is that they echo the equivocated understanding that Brazil’s international presence must be marked by the either/or approach: either we emphasize strengthening relations with developing countries, or we do so with industrialized nations.  Such a simplistic view does not take into consideration the basic fact that the increased participation of any country in international trade and financial flows, as well as in political decisions, takes place through the country taking advantage of all opportunities, not by discarding some of them due to ideological bias....  The only objectionable point of President Lula’s mission to Caracas is the good will the GOB showed to Chavez’s request for Brazil to supply Venezuela with combat aircraft.  The sale of military equipment is, sometimes, a business--but it is always a political gesture.  Before permitting the export of 24 Super Tucano and 12 AMX-T aircrafts, the GOB should carefully analyze the implications such a transfer would have for regional stability.... Venezuela has no objective reasons to heavily equip its Armed Forces.  Chavez’s concerns with a supposed U.S. invasion would not be more than a delirium if it weren’t for the fact that they change the reality....  When he bought Russian-made rifles, Chavez made clear that part of that arsenal would arm the militias, which were already used against the opposition that asked for the president’s resignation. Considering all this, it is not helpful for Brazil to supply military material to Venezuela.”


"Dorothy Stang"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo declared (2/15):  “Unfortunately, Brazil tends to enter the international news through the back door - and has done so once again with the wide repercussions of the assassination of American nun Dorothy Mae Stang last Saturday in the state of Para.  The crime is painful, shameful and nefarious.  It is a portrait in high contrast of a Brazil where the language of gunfire still speaks louder than the language of the law. It is a picture of a lawless and archaic Brazil in which the state and its institutions -- such as the police and the judicial sector -- have failed to impose their presence…. Despite its renewed promises of fostering a ‘21st Century land reform,’ the Lula administration has failed in basic issues…. Sister Dorothy Stang became another name in the long list of people who have been killed in Brazilian rural areas.  Deplorably, crimes like this one will continue to occur if entire regions of the nation remain in the current situation.”


"Chavez’s Radicalism Hits Oil Policy"


Business-oriented Valor Economico remarked (2/4):  “Hugo Chavez is a former parachutist whose anti-American rhetoric forms the guidelines of a populist and authoritarian administration.  Through words and action, he is looking to break relations with the U.S...and may bring negative consequences to Venezuela.  Politics is not usually a good trade advisor, and the Venezuelan leader is engaged in a reckless attempt to get rid of his dependence on oil sales to the U.S., a fact that can ruin the nation’s only source of support.... Chavez has shown a risky radicalism....  He may be on the eve of shooting his own foot if he does not measure the consequences of his actions.  Oil is the only wealth that sustains Venezuela....  He is leaving little margin to maneuver in the democratic game, which has been a sure recipe for coups on the continent.  A probable shrinking of the resources gained from oil could bring this ruinous prospect much closer.”


"Chavez’s Show"


The lead editorial in liberal Folha de S. Paulo asserted (2/2):  “Chavez would be just one of those folkloric, noisy and inoffensive characters who attend global events [such as the World Social Forum] looking for relevance in the media, if he were not the president of an important South American nation. This fact transforms him into a major element not only in regards to Venezuela’s destiny, but also for the regional political balance....  Chavez is a politician who does not want understanding, who appreciates confrontation and bravado. In practice, his inflamed discourses are populist concessions of an autocratic escalation that imposes control on the Judiciary, the Legislative and the media.  He has successfully created an image that is causing in the U.S.G.--which is also Manichaean and belligerent--worrisome reactions…. It is not difficult to guess who would lose in a confrontation between the U.S. and the Venezuelan president.”


CHILE:  "Imposing Leadership"


Conservative, influential El Mercurio editorialized (2/11):   “As part of President Chavez’ policy of reducing ties with the United States, Venezuela has sold its holdings in eight U.S. oil refineries and has allotted a larger portion of its oil sales to other nations such as China....  The Venezuelan president also...met with Argentina's President Nestor a visit that concluded with the signing of trade and energy agreements...and the launching of a South American television station to counter U.S. television news networks....  Chavez also reached an agreement with Cuba to allow the island’s police and judges to capture and question Cubans living in Venezuela....  Chavez is trying to emulate Bolivar’s leadership.  But the rest of Latin America can only view his foreign policy with concern because his peculiarities and extravagances are supported by an economic, and eventually a military, potential that cannot be ignored.”


"Bolivarian CNN"


Conservative, influential El Mercurio editorialized (2/9):  “Just a few days Hugo Chavez created a state television network....  He said it would air news eight hours a day to ‘counter the information aired by CNN in Spanish and other international networks, which are partial, untruthful, and have a specific agenda.’  Why should we believe this ‘Bolivarian CNN’ will be any more impartial, truthful, and without a particular agenda?  The way to fight impartiality and the absence of truth is by promoting the existence of multiple agendas and non-official information networks....  The success of Chavez’ initiative is questionable both financially and in terms of viewers.  Furthermore, the sole existence of such a proposal is a bad signal for the entire region.”




Manolo Pichardo expressed the view in establishment Listin Diario (2/4):  “The U.S. decided to support former Salvadorian President, Francisco Flores, for OAS Secretary General.  The announcement came as no surprise despite the fact that Mexico and Chile had hoped to count on that vote.  The U.S. support has given hope to the former president, especially since he started out with serious problems when the Central American left-wing started a campaign associating him with corrupt actions and the thousands of dead and disappeared under the ARENA administration....  It is clear that with this support Bush is returning Flores’ favor at the UN when he was desperately seeking allies for his adventure in Iraq."


VENEZUELA:  "'Re-founding' A Center Party To Face Chavez"  


Former diplomat Sadio Garavini Di Turno remarked in El Universal (3/8):  “Venezuela is not divided in two: pro- and anti-Chavez. Based on polls conducted over the past six years, there are three Venezuelas: approximately a third comprises ‘hard-core’ Chavez supporters.  Another third is made up of staunch opponents.  The rest voted for Chavez in 1998 and 2000, but became disillusioned with a bad government in 2001 and 2002 and joined the ranks of the opposition.  However, after the unfortunate civil strike, the implementation of the missions and the economic recovery, this third Venezuela moved gradually toward the government and in 2004, they voted for Chavez again….  Refounding a large center party around Copei, PJ, Project Venezuela and Convergence… [would] complement each other, and…the third Venezuela will become disillusioned with Chavez again, and the opposition must be prepared to channel this disappointment.”  


"Machado: Government Readies To Seize Control Of Universities"


Academic Carlos Machado Allison commented in El Universal (3/8):  “The 'revolutionary process' is moving to achieve another one of its goals: to control the education system.  It already controls the area of research through an oligarchy of planners who have argued that the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC) must learn to behave because as the deputy minister told the press: ‘The IVIC was lagging behind and this government insists that it must participate in the process of change.’  He predicts that after decreeing the death of freedom of research, the government will attempt to control the universities to force them to accept all the people enrolled in the missions.  He comments that the university ‘villages’ complement the endogenous and populist vision of small farms and the construction of a ‘parallel’ country that corners unions, business organizations and peasant organizations and imposes the 'Bolivarian Circles' as the new community association.


"Government's Latest 'Offensive' Meant To 'Settle Scores'"


Columnist Roberto Giusti judged in El Universal (3/7):  “After a six-year political struggle, Chavez is close to achieving the basic goal of his original political project: The elimination of any branch that could undermine his total hegemony....  After the events of 11 April and the strike of 2002-2003, he obtained the unconditional surrender of two bastions--the National Armed Forces (FAN) and Venezuelan Petroleum Inc.   Now, after the election victories scored in 2004, the time has come to firm up his absolute control....  [Chavez] has begun to clear the only two obstacles that stood in his way: 1. The judicial branch and 2. The media and the journalists....  [There was} the shameful summons, searches and questionings against reporters like Ultimas Noticias’ Tamoa Calzadilla… and cites pressure exerted to take Marta Colomina and Napoleon Bravo off the air....  This offensive is meant to settle scores…[but] does not stop there, it seeks to reach bankers, dissident military officers and political leaders....

 Since many of these people do not pose a real threat to the regime's stability, Justice [Francisco] Carrasquero has been tasked with ‘changing the course of history’ by ruling that a coup d'etat did indeed occur in April 2002.   


"Government 'Needs' Devaluation"


El Universal editorialized (3/7):  “The regime continues its devaluation policy and it is doing so for political reasons because every day it needs more resources....  The devaluation is a fraud by the regime on ordinary Venezuelans because it causes more inflation and decreases the value of salaries by 12 percent....  The government needs this devaluation because it is the first to benefit from the new resources resulting from exchange profits.  It warns that the country faces a scenario that hurts consumers as prices of food products, raw materials and services will go up and the government measure will have an inflationary impact between 3 and 4 percent....  Everyone, except for the executive will be hard-hit.”


"Banks 'Only' Sector To Benefit From Revolutionary Government" 


Economist Gustavo Garcia contended in El Universal (3/7):  "The banking sector is the only economic sector that has truly benefited during the current revolutionary government....  This sector has reaped substantial benefits thanks to the government's financial excesses.   First, it has benefited from the interest earned on the exorbitant public debt; these profits are exempt from income tax....  Without making a major effort, banks deposit a large portion of the excess amount the government places in the financial system to finance the unbridled public spending in Certificates of Deposit (CD's) in the BCV....  [I]f we add almost 30 trillion bolivares worth of domestic debt and nearly 10 trillion bolivares worth of CD's in the BCV, the banking sector has approximately 40 trillion bolivares thanks to the revolution's financial madness.  Also, there are the exchange profits earned from the devaluation changes decreed by the government to increase the amount of bolivares it needs to satisfy its financial greed...meanwhile, the deposits of Venezuelans end up trapped by the exchange control and interest rates that are well below the inflation rate....  Venezuelans, he finally says, will be paying the consequences of this ‘love-hate relationship’ since in the end, banks will have to lower even more interest rates paid on deposits to be able to finance--at a low cost--the uncontrollable public debt being issued by the revolutionary government."


"Government Decision To Purchase Weapons Is A Sovereign Decision"


Francisco Arias Cardenas, former presidential candidate and former opposition member wrote in El Universal (3/7):  "The possibility of a defense against an invasion like the ones against Grenada or Panama or a low intensity war like the one fought in Nicaragua seemed impossible for our people....  Suddenly, Latin America begins to see the change being experienced in Venezuela as an example to follow...  Last year, an overwhelming majority of the people and the FAN confirmed the commander in chief in power.  Hence, it is the responsibility of all Venezuelans, soldiers or otherwise, to prepare for the consequences of the exercise of the government we confirmed on 15 August and the exercise of our sovereignty.  Our right to sovereignty allows us to defend ourselves from those who threaten us and purchase the weapons that best fit our needs.


"Bolivarian Socialism"


Political analyst Alberto Garrido commented in leading conservative daily El Universal (3/1):  "The Bolivarian Revolution’s socialist stage has formally started, even though Chávez has insisted on the need for a debate on the new kind of socialism to be developed.  For Chávez, the moment for the true revolution has started.  His decisions will no longer be defined as 'deviations’ from the representative democracy, but a search for the construction of the new socialism of this century.”


"Uruguay: The Map Is Changing"


Pro-Government daily tabloid Diario VEA  editorialized (3/1):  “Tabaré Vázquez in the Presidency of the Republic of Uruguay is the clearest signal of the changes that are taking place in the political map of South America.  Ten years ago, the panorama was different: shameless Heads of State submissive to Washington.  The U.S. administration’s agents and servers are being isolated and defeated.”


"Funny Concept Of Sovereignty"


Former Information minister Fernando Luis Egaña commented in sensationalist daily 2001 (3/1):  “One of the postulates of the ‘Bolivarian revolution’ is the sacrosanct defense of the country’s sovereignty.  But, just like anything that has to do with Chávez’s regime, one story is what is said and another one is what is done.  They criticize the White House and even threaten with cutting off the flow of oil and, between one row and another; new concessions with American major oil companies are signed without the mediation of any ‘social comptrollership.’”


"Will Lula’s Plans Outdo Chávez’s?"


Henry Gomez Samper wrote in leading conservative daily El Universal (3/1):  “President Lula was in Caracas for a few hours, but signed what is announced as ‘a real strategic alliance.’  Will this mean that Brazil will join Venezuela’s intention to confront the United States?  Regardless of how much Lula praises President Chávez’s government and the potential of the South-South union, the differences between Brasilia and Washington are neither ideological nor political.  Brazil needs Washington’s support to carry out its international agenda and to keep its access to the technology, capital and markets Americans can offer.  The ironic thing is that the alliance could mean that Lula will outdo Chávez’s plans for the region.  If this is so, the result would benefit, besides Brazil, none other than the United States.”


"Chávez Is Not Alone"


Macario Sandoval, mayor of Jáuregui municipality in Táchira state, wrote in regional daily La Nación (2/28):  “It is worrisome that international sources and President Chávez himself, talk about and denounce U.S. alleged attempts to assassinate him, a country that openly attempts against the sovereignty of a Republic and a people that fights for and defends its self-determination.  However, the most irritating thing is that many allegedly revolutionary sectors and individuals do not react correctly and are simply waiting for the events to take place.  It’s as though they were toying with the so-called ‘chavism without Chávez.  That’s why I want to alert them.  It’s time we reacted and confront the enemies of the homeland avoiding the terrible history of the Venezuelan people, when Bogotá oligarchy assassinated Gaitán, and since then they have been suffering this fratricide war.”


"Chávez Is The Target"


Columnist under the pseudonym of Marciano commented in pro-Government daily tabloid Diario VEA (2/28):  “Venezuela’s old politicians have an immense hatred, and absolute contempt for principles.  The only thing they have left is the savage and obsessive decision to kill President Chávez.  And they also count on the support of the Bush administration, their supreme hope.  That is, two criminal views converge: powerful Bush and Venezuela’s weak and desperate opposition....  The Goebelian media bombardment of lies has begun to prepare the ground.  War criminal, John Negroponte--who has just been appointed as chief of the intelligence agencies in the U.S.--is in charge of executing a policy of terror.  He’s got the experience of his performance in Central America.”


"Weaving The Integration"


Author Félix Cordero Peraza commented in national daily tabloid Ultimas Noticias (2/28):  “Chávez’s actions are focused on South America.  An area of almost 400 million inhabitants, 65% of them are poor.  We have to reach out to them!  The strategic alliance with Brazil, like a magnet, will attract other countries.  A blow for Plan Colombia!  Brazil and Venezuela are precisely Colombia’s most important neighbors and partners.  Without internalizing Plan Colombia, a perspective of a collective combat against terrorism is opened.”


"Presidential Assassination And Media Plot"


Foreign affairs expert Adolfo P. Salgueiro opined in leading conservative daily El Universal (2/26):   “Presidential assassination: It seems to be suspicious that the specter of a presidential assassination--reiterated at the OAS by Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Minister--appears every time unfavorable events, inside or outside the country, call for a diversion of the focus of attention.  Thinking that at this very moment Mr. Bush could be plotting to kill Chávez is as ridiculous as Mr. Boucher put it.  Besides, we understand that an action of this kind is specifically prohibited by tAmerican legislation.  Media plot: Information Minister Izarra tells us that there is a media plot to discredit the Venezuelan government.  If The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and other newspapers publish views that do not favor the Venezuelan government, this is labeled as a campaign generated by columnists bought off by the opposition or by the CIA.  What a mistake, Mr. Izarra!  You were press attaché in Washington and should know better!”


"The OAS And The Assassination Of The Venezuelan President"


Leading liberal daily El Nacional editorialized (2/24):  “The Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister made a significant speech yesterday at a special session of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States.  He said, ‘we cannot underestimate our intelligence information that indicates the attempts to kill our President.’  Rodríguez Araque was right when he added that ‘nobody could even imagine the consequences of such an action.’  Absolutely true.  The minister did not mention the U.S., but President Chávez had reiterated it some hours before.  This is a serious situation and; therefore, it should be assumed responsibly and categorically.  The thesis of the presidential assassination is already on the international stage.  The governments of the United States and Venezuela are forced to clear up this climate that is getting less and less breathable.”


"His Word Is Law!"


VenEconomy expressed its view in English-language The Daily Journal (2/24):  “Time has shown that President Hugo Chávez should be judged not only by what he does but also by what he says.  Last Sunday, he warned that ‘if a businessman abandons his ship, we’ll take the ship.’  The warning (or was it a threat?) was pronounced at Invepal, the new state-owned paper company that resulted from recent ‘expropriation’ by the state of Venepal....  Based on past experience what will most likely happen is that Invepal and other companies taken over by the government will join the herd of white elephants that only serve as a drain on the State’s resources.  With his latest announcement, Chávez has placed another sword of Damocles over the head of businessmen.  The other is the Zamoran decrees authorizing the taking of land.  These are all pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that, slowly but surely, are being put in place to create a nation that is totally intervened by the State.”


"Putting Screws On The Bankers"


VenEconomy expresses its view in English-language The Daily Journal (2/23):  “From any rational viewpoint, the ‘indexed mortgages’ issue is an economic and social problem, not a political one.  But with its customary manipulative skill, the Chávez administration has turned it into a weapon with which to persecute and intimidate the bankers and is using it as an excuse to, once again, engage in cheap populism, this time with the money of the depositors.  The indexed loans came about as a way of facilitating people’s access to mortgages in times of inflation.  Many banks and their mortgagors managed to get around the trap into which they had fallen by negotiating a rescheduling of the debts.  When the government got involved, it began to impose new conditions that favored mortgagors at the expense of lenders and, what is worse, in a move that is far from clear, it has politicized the problem and is using it to browbeat the bankers.  To top it all, last week, the General Prosecutor’s Office brought charges against seven presidents of leading banks and issued an order forbidding them to leave the country.”


"A Reminder To Minister Ramirez On The Double Taxation Treaty"


Web page Petroleumworld editorialized (2/23):  “The double taxation treaty already exists its name is "Ley Aprobatoria del Convenio entre el Gobierno de la República de Venezuela y el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos de América con el Objeto de Evitar la Doble Tributación y Prevenir la Evasión Fiscal en Materia de Impuestos sobre la Renta y sobre el Patrimonio (with the object of eliminating the double taxation and to prevent the fiscal evasion on the matters of income and patrimonial or assets taxes). (Gaceta Extraordinaria Nº 5.427 del 05 de enero del 2000) On the specifics on CITGO and it paying taxes in Venezuela and not in the US, here are three definitive reasons, that Oliver Campbell mention on its articles:1) CITGO is a Delaware company; 2) CITGO is resident in the USA; 3) CITGO main source of its income is the USA. There is no way its income will not be taxed in the USA. If Venezuela likes to tax the dividends received, that is something else but is merely a transfer from one pocket to another i.e. the taxman will get more money and PDVSA will make less profit. We exhort those professionals familiar with double taxation treaties, to write about the idea of Minister Ramirez, of CITGO paying taxes in Venezuela rather than in the U.S.


"The Empire’s Killer Instinct"


Former president of pro-Government TV channel and former Venezuelan ambassador to Brazil Vladimir Villegas commented in afternoon liberal daily El Mundo (2/23):  “The United States seeks to authorize the assassination of heads of state when it considers its national security is in danger.  This country has financed and promoted bloody coups like the one in Chile in 1973, which claimed the lives of martyr president Salvador Allende and thousands of Chileans.  It is now sowing death and desolation in Iraq.  The history of this superpower is filled with facts that clearly reflect its little respect for the international law and sovereignty of nations.  The Bush administration has already stated that this year 2005 will be a year in which there will be destabilization in Venezuela.  Of course, like Chávez stated it, they are the ones that intend to promote this destabilization, and a way they consider to be expeditious would be by assassinating him.”


"The U.S. Or Isolation"


A commentator under the pseudonym of Marciano wrote in pro-Government daily tabloid Diario VEA (2/23): “The more power the Bush administration has, the more isolated from the world it is.  More and more people have serious reservations about it, or they simply reject it.  The U.S. administration’s military and economic might is immense, but its weakness is also immense.  Everybody is afraid of it because after the adventure in Iraq and the consequences it brought, the whole world has become suspicious of Bush.  Some governments voice it clearly; others, afraid of him, confess it in private.  Bush goes around the world with the arrogance typical of a far-west gunman.”


"A Dishonest Anti-corruption Campaign"

Pro-Government daily tabloid Diario VEA editorialized (2/23): “The old politicians in Venezuela and its American masters need to undermine President Chávez’s popular prestige.  It is an indispensable requisite to impose their plans in Venezuela.  The old politicians haves seized anticorruption as the central issue of their attacks on the Venezuelan government.  The old politicians do not care about their past because the American media are in charge of hiding it.  They denounce corruption in the current government in order to undermine President Chávez’s popular rise and to serve the juicy results of this campaign to the Bush administration.”


“The Russian Fusils”


Foreign affairs expert Adolfo R. Taylhardat opined in leading conservative daily El Universal (2/23):  “The purchase of 100,000 Russian AK-47 fusils has caused much concern not in Venezuela but also in other countries.  The Venezuelan government says it has the ‘sovereign’ right to buy arms from anywhere and the ruling party majority in the National Assembly supports him on that.  But inevitably this operation generates concerns for several reasons: 1) what is the justification to change Venezuelan soldiers’ current FAL, of Belgian patent and made in Venezuela, for imported fusils?; 2) The operation is not completely transparent; 3) This operation contradicts Venezuela’s traditional position in favor of disarmament at international meetings (United Nations, OAS, and the Conference of Disarmament); 4) the acquisition of these fusils surpasses the real needs of the Armed Force and will inevitably alter the necessary military balance with the neighbors, which could unleash an unnecessary arms race.”


“Venezuela’s Political Opposition Is Adrift”


Political analyst Aníbal Romero commented in leading liberal daily El Nacional (2/23):  “Venezuela’s opposition has lost its north and this situation is so pathetic that some members of the left, in this case representatives of MAS political party, have openly supported the purchase of Russian arms, with the argument of the national sovereignty, underestimating the deep implications of this affair.  The Kalashnikov fusils, Russian helicopters and combat planes do not have anything to do with sovereignty, but with Castro and Chávez’s project to destroy the traditional FAN, by creating a militia attached to the regime and cling to power.  Apart from the internal control, the Russian war material will play in Venezuela the role they play for the armed forces of Cuba: to tell Washington that, in case of an intervention, the costs will be so high that it is preferable not to take the step.  It is a military scheme of dissuasion:  Washington may defeat the revolution if it insists strong enough, and Chávez and Castro know that, but they hope that the probable costs will make Americans think it twice before intervening.”


"To Assassinate A President?"


The afternoon liberal daily Tal Cual editorialized (2/22):  “Given the recurrence of the subject in the presidential rhetoric, almost from the beginning of the current administration, even when evidences of such intentions have never been provided, nonchavistas and chavistas have decided to stop paying attention to it.  Chávez is used to talking about the subject, usually associating it with the possibility of his disappearance becoming the apocalyptic Colombian panorama, generated by the murder of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in 1948.  But, if we think about this issue seriously, we can ask ourselves if it could be serious blaming the president of the United States for an attack against the president of Venezuela, without providing any proof--other than the ‘sacred’ word of Fidel Castro.  One thing is to reject, with reason, the interference of the government of Bush in our affairs, and a very different one is doing it in a way that results in a loss of force and credibility.”


"The Limits Of Paranoia"


Legislator Freddy Lepage wrote in leading liberal daily El Nacional (2/22):  “Due to the Granda case, relations between Venezuela and the United States continue to deteriorate--judging from statements issued by officials of both governments--to the extent that Chávez, in collusion with dictator Fidel Castro, stated last Sunday on his radio and TV show, Aló Presidente, that he feared the U.S. government would assassinate him, and that President Bush would be directly held accountable for such murder. (He also threatened to cut off the oil supply to the U.S. if such event ever happened).  Every country has the sovereign right to purchase the arms it needs for its defense against a foreign enemy, but what is stunning and hard to believe is that, besides the costly military acquisition announced by the Government of Venezuela, now we receive information coming from Spain on the purchase of four corvettes at 600 million euros.  What is going on?  Has Chávez gone mad?  Where will his paranoia get to?”


"Venezuela-Colombia Reconciliation"


A columnist under the pseudonym of Marciano commented in pro-government daily tabloid Diario VEA (2/22):   The Washington Post columnist, Michael Shifter, corrected and ridiculed Venezuelan columnists and foreign affairs experts.  In his last column on February 14, Shifter questioned U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America, criticized Condoleezza Rice for her stance on Chávez and recognized that Fidel Castro gave everybody a lesson in the management of the crisis that came up between Colombia and Venezuela.”


"Who Would Kill Chávez?"


Liberal daily tabloid El Nuevo País editorialized (2/22):  “We have gotten used to seeing and listening to Chávez without taking him seriously.  After all, a lie is a serious thing, right?--above all when it is told by the President of the Republic and that lie is that another President, that of the world’s most powerful nation, wants to kill him.  Fidel Castro is responsible for putting Chávez up to this.  But, let’s see...who is interested in having Chávez dead?  Bush is not, because the martyrdom of its ‘Christ’ would strengthen chavismo, and the successor could be even worse than the original.  Someone that is less interested in the farce of the asymmetric war and the continental revolution, and more difficult to deal with when it comes to exchanging energy for dollars.”


"Chávez vs. Bush"


Journalist Gilberto Alcalá opined in national daily tabloid Ultimas Noticias (2/22):  “Chávez, calling himself a continental leader, included in his plan an accusation that the U.S. administration, even the CIA, is preparing the ground to assassinate him, and if that happens, President Bush is 'responsible’ for it, and Chávez also warned Bush that the Venezuelan and Latin American people would rise in arms.  In a few words, two poles would face each other: the world superpower and the peoples that nowadays want independence from imperialism.  It’s the pole against imperialism with oil revenues that Venezuela sells to Bush....  The Department of State did not respond to the accusations of murder; but it made it clear that its policy has not changed.” 


"2005, 2005"


Political analyst and columnist Alberto Garrido wrote in leading conservative daily El Universal (2/22):  “In a few days, Washington has accused Chávez, through spokespeople from the White House to the Department of State to the CIA, of being a regional ‘threat’, an ‘instable’ government, an ‘unreliable’ oil supplier (U.S. Senate) and of undertaking an arms race.  Also, international public opinion that links Chávez with the FARC continues to take root, under the leadership of Washington and Bogotá.  The new stage of accusations extends to the kidnapping and murder of Cecilia Cubas, daughter of former President of Paraguay, Raúl Cubas.  Rodrigo Granda seems to be involved in this crime and Caracas seems to have been the place for the meeting between one of the kidnappers and Granda.  To the Granda ‘case’ we can add the capture of Carlos Gamarra Murillo, who would be dealing in the purchase of arms for FARC.  The arms, according to U.S. authorities, would be shipped to a Venezuelan airport and from there to the guerrillas.  Beyond the veracity of these pieces of information, the important thing is that they demonstrate Washington’s determination to link Chávez, his Bolivarian revolution and Venezuela (location and kidnapping of Granda) with FARC international operations.  Perhaps the oil issue is fundamental to judge the U.S. administration’s toughening stance:  China, Russia and Brazil will have access to the Orinoco belt, considered to be the most important crude oil reserve of the planet.  At the same time, Chávez, in a meeting with Uribe, stated categorically that the purpose of the pipeline to be constructed towards the Pacific is to send oil to China.”


"The National Interest"


Political analyst and columnist Michael Rowan wrote in leading conservative El Universal (2/22):  “A non-ideological analysis of the relation of Venezuela with Cuba, Colombia, China and the United States reveals that Venezuela does not pursue its national interests, the most important of which is the eradication of poverty.  Venezuela has neglected a strategy against poverty based on a competitive trade, while the U.S., Colombia and China are outdoing it thanks to this strategy.  Like Cuba, Venezuela increases poverty by playing the victim in a world it considers to be the enemy.  From the perspective of an objective analysis, Venezuela’s actions generate failure and collapse.”


"The New Stage"


Democratic Coordinator liaison member and columnist Asdrúbal Aguiar commented in leading conservative daily El Universal (2/22):  “The Venezuelan government continues explaining the ten objectives of The New Stage: The New Strategy adopted for the strengthening of the Bolivarian project.  In military terms, the new ideology will mean the acquisition of equipment for the military sector (the arms race denounced by Colombia and the U.S), the training of soldiers for a non-conventional war in the making, in other words, the deployment of actions on the Colombian border: the execution of Plan Colombia and Patriot.  The disruption of the ‘Monroe’ axis (Bogotá-Lima-Quito-La Paz- Santiago), controlled by the Pentagon, in Chávez’s opinion, would be the immediate and concrete goal of the revolution.”


"The Russian Weapons"


The afternoon liberal daily Tal Cual  opined (2/21):  “In reference to the subject of Russian arms, it is necessary to make two points.  First, it’s obvious that the government of Bush falls into one of its habitual excesses of imperial arrogance when it questions the acquisition of war material on the part of the Chávez government.  This is a sovereign decision of Venezuela, and it doesn’t have to consult with any other government.  The unilateral interference of any other country (in this case, the United States) in that sovereign decision cannot be allowed either.  Especially when that country, the biggest producer of arms in the world, sells them left and right, without paying the slightest attention to the worry that such sales can cause to neighboring countries of the buyers.  In this sense, the argument about a ‘Venezuelan arms race’ is cynical, seeing that Colombia, also with full sovereign right, acquires American arms for anti-guerrilla warfare.  But, on the other hand, Chávez' government is obliged to explain to the country why it is acquiring arms and what for.  We also found out, thanks to the Spanish press (and not to information from our government) about the purchase of corvettes and cargo planes.  When military spending is growing exponentially, the least we can expect from the government is the corresponding information about the conceptual bases underlying that spending.”


"Uribe And His Labyrinth"


Leading liberal daily El Nacional  editorialized (2/16):  “Alvaro Uribe and Hugo Chávez accepted the hard reality that a crisis between Colombia and Venezuela is an affair that cannot and should not last for a long time.  In these cases, judgment prevails because these international incidents not only harm official relations and disturb commercial activity but also affect both nations’ living conditions.  The relations between our two intertwined nations are fundamental.  President Uribe’s visit should be regarded with that idea in mind and as a signal that Colombia implicitly recognizes that it should not have ventured to capture a subversive leader in Venezuelan territory.  We should not forget that in this crisis the United States played an unfortunate role by siding with the Government of Bogotá and criticizing Venezuela.  Yesterday, with Uribe in Miraflores with a face of repentance, there was no doubt who committed the first mistake.”


"Uribe-Chávez Summit"


Afternoon liberal daily tabloid Tal Cual editorialized (2/16):  “Uribe did not apologize in public, but came to Caracas, which is, obviously, a gesture of good will, and both presidents reaffirmed what they had said before.  Ours commits to preventing Colombian irregular groups from using Venezuelan territory for their activities; our neighbor guarantees that cases like that of Granda will be managed in accordance with international law.  So far, the issue is so fresh for any of the two governments to afford to infringe the agreements reached.  But it is obvious that such a volatile and porous border requires much more than rhetoric so that it doesn’t become the source of new conflicts.  Stronger Mechanisms of mutual cooperation both on law enforcement and military are needed.  The solution to the crisis was reached with the collaboration of other foreign affairs ministries of the region, including the decisive intervention of Fidel Castro, which reinforces Latin America’s willingness and capacity to tackle and solve its affairs without the U.S.' generally inconvenient interference--which, by the way, in this case, though brief, was characteristically clumsy.”


“President Lula da Silva”


Retired Army General Fernando Ochoa Antich wrote in leading conservative daily El Universal (2/16):  “The well-known incident President Lula went through in the gathering in Porto Alegre and the warm welcome President Chávez received in the same forum the following day show the beginning of an important rivalry for the leadership of the Latin American left movement.  This rivalry will have serious consequences.  Leading Latin America, like Chávez thinks, to a tragic confrontation against the United States and neo-liberalism would be repeating our history.  The independence war impoverished our countries to levels that, after almost two centuries, we have not been able to overcome its consequences.  President Lula’s visit to Venezuela shows his standing asf a statesman.  Brazil’s economic interests in Venezuela were more important than his pride in being a Latin American leader.  He didn’t mind Hugo Chávez’s imprudence in Porto Alegre.  In Brazil, Itamaratí has an unquestionable influence.”


"The U.S. Wants To Use The OAS To Intervene In Venezuela"


Foreign Affairs expert Antonio Guillermo García Danglades opined in pro-Government daily tabloid Diario VEA (2/3):  “The U.S. has just officially supported former Salvadorian president, Francisco Flores--known in Venezuela for his support to the April 11 coup--to become the OAS Secretary General.  This support comes after the U.S. administration’s defeat as a result of the solution of the impasse between Colombia and Venezuela.  Flores’ victory would give Bush enough influence to turn the OAS into an instrument he would use to intervene in Venezuela and stop the integration process in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Condoleezza Rice says that the government of Venezuela is ‘a negative force’ in the region.   At the same time, the U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, silently ‘tours’ the whole country to pay a personal visit to the 23 states of Venezuela and assess the social and economic conditions of the country.  The coup-plotting opposition uses different NGOs as facades to get together with the governments of the hemisphere and get support for their fight for ‘political and civil rights' in Venezuela...and accuse Venezuela of violating ‘democratic principles’ and the ‘values of liberty.'"



A columnist under the pseudonym of Marciano wrote in pro-Government daily tabloid Diario VEA (2/3):  “All those who wanted to see a confrontation between Colombians and Venezuelans were defeated.  They wanted the impasse, as a result of the violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty with the Granda case, to get complicated to the extent that the U.S. administration would have to intervene in the conflict....  Mr. Bush, and Ms. Condoleezza Rice, my condolences.”


"Gains And Losses Of The Granda Case"


Country Consensus Program coordinator, Diego Bautista Urbaneja, wrote in leading conservative daily El Universal (2/3):  “It is possible that the Bush administration saw with interest an eventual toughening of the relations between the governments of Uribe and Chávez, which could lead to a pre-war situation.  It is not sure this is the case, because the U.S. government has to focus on the situation in Iraq, and this does not mean that the U.S. was not involved in the Granda case.  Anyways, Chávez’s government clearly knew that the U.S. government was closely watching the possibility of a widening gap favorable to it as a result of the conflict.  But, it is obvious that serving the interests of the Bush administration is not one of Uribe’s government’s objectives.  Uribe’s priority is to defeat the guerrilla and terrorism in Colombia.”


"The Revolution As A Circus"


Political analyst Sammy Eppel wrote in leading conservative daily El Universal (2/3):  “I believe that Chávez’s problem with the case of the Colombian guerrilla member captured in Venezuela is that the real activities and purposes of this irregular in our territory are made public.  Did he control the FARC’s drug dealing network?  Did he operate the Colombian guerrilla’s international network from Venezuela?  If any of these questions were true, Chávez would be thinking about what happened to General Noriega who, after being the leader of the circus, is serving a life sentence in a jail in the U.S.  This is the only explanation I find to understand why President Chávez blew the conflict with Colombia and the U.S. and played the martyr and brandished the sovereignty issue.”


"The Death Of Capitalism"


Economist Alexander Guerrero E. wrote in leading conservative daily El Universal (2/3):  “For the first time, President Chávez expressly tells the world that the Bolivarian revolution is socialist and anti-capitalist.  In his anti-imperialist and anti-American speech, President Chávez said that the problems (sic) with the U.S. are the consequence of his revolution’s getting Venezuela out of capitalism.  Very clear arguments for an audience with a vast socialist culture.”


MEXICO:  "Armed Venezuela"


Diplomat Jorge Montaño stated in the nationalist Universal (2/23):  "A couple of weeks ago the U.N. reported that in 2004 Venezuela had an economic growth rate of 18%--the most spectacular in Latin America and the Caribbean. The link between this take-off and elevated oil prices on the world market isn't a mystery to anyone...  Like other extravagant times during bonanza cycles in our countries, President Chavez went shopping...for every type of weapon...  It's been said over and over that the United States' neglect of our region is alarming, because the radar only functions in cases of emergency...  For Latin America this perspective is not very encouraging when there are clear signs of exhausting the liberal model, generating a political crisis in many countries because of the lack of an answer to the essential needs of the population."


PANAMA :  "Chavez, OAS And The United States"


Tabloid Critica editorialized (3/1):  “Once again, the OAS will focus their international attention on two very important being the selection of the new General Secretary from among Flores from El Salvador, Derbez from Mexico, and Inzulsa from Chile.  The other matter will be the pressure brought to bear by the OAS Permanent Council to isolate Chavez’ regime in Venezuela, as it was done back in 1960 with Cuba....  This project of isolating Chavez will make him [Chavez] stronger and will make him a martyr in his cause of rescuing the socialist movement in Latin America.  Anyway, Chavez has an ace in his sleeve, the huge oil resource in Lake Maracaibo....  It will be the 34 countries under the OAS who will decide if Chavez is isolated, and a Washington puppet is placed in the General Secretariat.  Flores is Bush’s candidate, and the best candidate is logically between Derbez and Inzulsa, model diplomats who defend the rights of the Latin Americans.”


"The United States Public Agenda"


Journalist Carlos Acevedo commented in tabloid Critica (2/12):  “The invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq in the Middle East was, without a doubt, the opening of the American agenda for this distant region of the planet....  The policy of the ‘big club’ for Latin America is now in its Middle East version and is threatening to extend to South America where there are vast oil reserves, specifically in Venezuela where president Hugo Chavez has felt the first warnings of the agents of George Bush’s second term.  The new proconsul, Condoleeza Rice started a tour through the Middle East region where the situation, specifically in Iraq, has all characteristics of a prolonged war....  In this new offensive, Syria and Iran are profiled as the next points of interest of American policy in the region...under even less convincing and confirmed arguments.  The danger of this U.S. war’s escalation is not in extending its doctrine to faraway territories but in awaking the monster of terrorism that has caused at this time the bloodshed of many innocent people in the world.”




BRITAIN:  "Losing The Plot Over Cuba"


Simon Tisdall opined in the Guardian (3/9):  "Unrelenting U.S. pressure on Cuba, set to ratchet up again at next week's UN human rights commission meeting in Geneva, is testing relations between the Bush administration and a new generation of centre-left Latin American leaders....  Republican attacks on President Fidel Castro's communist government intensified during last year's American election campaign. The treasury secretary, John Snow, tightened the 42-year-old U.S. embargo and vowed to 'bring an end to the ruthless and brutal dictatorship'....  But according to Abelardo Moreno, Cuba's deputy foreign minister, the latest U.S. moves could foreshadow more muscular intervention.  'U.S. officials are publicly speaking of regime change in Cuba.  They were already attacking us as sponsors of terrorism.  Now we are told we are an 'outpost of tyranny'," Mr. Moreno said in London on Monday....  Recently installed leaders in Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Venezuela were raised in the leftwing, activist tradition of the 1970s and 1980s.  For them, Che Guevara is more than a romantic character in a motorcycle road movie, and Cuba's revolution is deserving of their protection.  While following a broadly pragmatic line these days, all oppose Washington's embargo as much as they opposed the U.S.-driven, neo-liberal free market policies blamed for Latin America's economic woes.  Cuba's trade with Brazil has doubled since President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was elected.  President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Washington's bete noire, is investing in Cuba's nascent oil industry and supplying discounted fuel.  And Uruguay's new socialist leader, Tabare Vazquez, has restored full diplomatic relations.  He revealed that Cuba was being considered for associate membership of the regional trade bloc, Mercosur.  If agreed, this could further upset U.S. plans for a 'Free Trade Area of the Americas'."




CHINA:  "Will The U.S. Assassinate Chavez?"


Liu Hong commented in the official Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao) (3/10):  "Why is the U.S. so intent on eliminating Chavez?  There are three reasons: first, Chavez has been making efforts to prevent the establishment of an American free trade zone and actively promoting the Latin American interests outside the U.S.’s sphere of influence.  Second, Chavez supports the left wing in Latin America.  Third, Chavez is one of a few nation leaders who dare to continuously and publicly criticize the Bush administration.” The U.S. referendum to oust Chavez in Venezuela failed.  But the Bush administration won’t sit by and watch Chavez ‘damage U.S. interests’ forever.  The U.S. CIA is left with an obvious choice--assassinate Chavez.  The U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela stated that the U.S. has no intention of assassinating Chavez.  The problem is who will believe it.  People wonder whether or not history will replay.  (U.S. also denied any connection with a presidential assassination in Chile).”




INDIA:  "The Significance Of Mr. Chavez"


Centrist The Hindu editorialized (3/11):  “The visit to India last week of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez marked an important milestone in not just New Delhi's relations with Caracas but also in the ongoing Indian effort to develop a broader relationship with Latin America. The countries of South America have borne the brunt of neoliberal globalization, with the 1990s now widely acknowledged, even by the authors of the Washington Consensus, as a lost decade in terms of growth and development.... Chavez is the product of a continent's desire to make up for lost time. The pro-social agenda and `Bolivarian' vision of pan-American unity he espouses resonate not just with the history and psyche of South America but also with the requirements of a modern economy.  Projects like Petrosur and Telesur...will help South America use its resources in an optimal fashion and prevent a large neighbor like the United States calling all the shots.  That is why Washington has been so implacably hostile towards Chavez, backing a failed coup to overthrow him in 2000 and issuing veiled threats against his Government from time to time.  Under these circumstances, India did well to host the Venezuelan leader and accord him a warm reception.  The fact that thousands of people turned up to hear him speak--at Jawaharlal Nehru University and then in Kolkata--is testimony to the enormous respect Chavez commands in India and the wider world.  It is proof of the fact that as far as public diplomacy is concerned, the size of a country matters much less than the dignity and largeness of heart of its leadership....  During his visit, Chavez made it clear that he would like to have an energy relationship with India, and that Indian companies would be welcome to help exploit the oil resources of Venezuela.  Indeed, the scope for cooperation is enormous, despite the distances.  Apart from New Delhi benefiting by extracting Venezuelan oil for use in India or sale through swap agreements, Caracas gets to further diversify its markets and reduce the monopolistic power of the U.S.  Indian companies like IRCON are also well placed to assist Venezuela in the construction of railway lines and roads, not to speak of low-cost housing, which is a priority area for Chavez.”


"Chavez Visits India"


New Delhi’s nationally influential Navbharat Times remarked (3/10):  “India is yearning more and more for oil and gas.  That is why it has launched a worldwide campaign.   It wants to be assured of a definite supply, no matter whether it is from Venezuela, Russia, Vietnam, or Australia.  This is a unique phase of petro-diplomacy that was given added importance by Venezuela President Hugo Chavez during his visit to India.   Venezuela is the fifth largest oil exporter in the world.   India will become its partner for direct oil purchase.   The Oil and Natural Gas Commission [ONGC] will also become almost an equal partner in one of its big oil fields, San Cristobal.   It is perhaps not a coincidence that Chavez wants to end his country's dependence on its largest customer, the United States, at a time when India is looking for new suppliers....  The proposal of the gas pipeline from Iran via Pakistan has already been accepted.   There is also a plan for receiving huge gas supply from the Sakhalin Oil field in Russia, in which the ONGC is a partner.   Indian experts will soon visit several countries of Africa to search for oil.   Preparations are at the same time afoot to get fuel from neighboring countries of Bangladesh and Myanmar....  According to Chavez, India will become self-sufficient in oil if everything goes well.   This comment should, however, be treated as a guest's sweet talk.   India must, therefore, keep up its present pace in the search for oil." 


"Chavez Comes To India"


The Hindustan Times noted (3/3):  "Venezuela President Hugo Chavez arrives in New Delhi Friday on a four-day visit to India. His visit, the first-ever by a Venezuelan President to India, will take him to Kolkata and Bangalore as well. Chavez will be accompanied by ministers of Foreign Affairs, Light Industry & Commerce, Science & Technology, Environment & Natural Resources, Energy, Health and Information and Communications.


"The Long View" 


Columnist Mukul Kesavan opined in The Telegraph (2/20):  "Iraq's political future won't be shaped by European prescriptions for the proper contexts for democracy.  The pessimism of the left does it no credit.  Nor do we have to believe...Iraq was conquered and occupied by America and its Anglophone allies to make the world safe for democracy. No one outside the West believes that Bush and Blair are committed in a systematic way to the promotion of democracy.  We've watched Bush's first administration sponsor an unsuccessful coup against the democratically elected president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. We've watched Blair stand by while Israel bludgeoned Palestinians into quiescence. Nor should we believe that the Coalition of the willing is committed to the territorial integrity of Iraq. Indians know that imperial powers are happy to use partition as a last resort....  Iraqi democracy depends upon the willingness of Iraqis to form a pluralist, umbrella party like the Indian National Congress or its cousin, the African National Congress.  If they find a Nehru or Mandela within their ranks that'll be a bonus.  For that to happen, Iraqis need time and a common enemy, so they can dissolve the politics of identity in the vague consolations of anti-colonialism.  It worked for us.  The Americans seem keen to keep their army in Iraq.  In the long run that might be the best thing they can do for the future of modern democracy in that ancient land."




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