August 24, 2005
VENEZUELA: CHAVEZ STRIVES TO BE THE 'GREAT REDEEMER'
** Observers recognize "escalation" in Bush/Chávez "rhetoric" increases tensions.
** Media claim Chávez may be the "new leftist icon" of the 21st century or a "fascist."
** Outlets highlight Chávez' use of oil as his "trump" card in strengthening his "power base."
Venezuela-U.S. 'political confrontation'-- Euro and Latin papers agreed that Chávez increasingly pits himself as a "challenger" against Bush and is forming an "anti-American alliance." Germany's right-of-center Die Welt wrote that Chávez is using Bush as an "enemy to bind his supporters." Spain's conservative ABC asserted that if he "irritates Washington" any more, he could "seriously affect his future." In response, Chávez has embraced "militarization" to defend "against a potential U.S. invasion," Norway's newspaper-of-record Afternposten asserted. Non-official Venezuelan media claimed the permanent campaign against "American imperialism" is not in the "best interests" of Venezuela, though they thought it likely to continue as long as it doesn’t compromise "U.S. vital interests." Other Venezuelan observers commented on an impending "political confrontation" with the U.S.
Chávez' 'charisma'-- Several writers called Chávez the leader of Latin America's "new leftist" movement, though one Dominican critic dubbed him a "classic right-wing military man in the style of Nasser." Most Latin experts asserted that Chavez' "political activism" and "anti-Yankee polemics" have been well-received by Latin America's leftist elected leaders; he sits "at the right of Fidel Castro," opined Chile's center-left Diario Siete. Ecuador's populist La Hora argued that Venezuela has become a "point of reference" for the region's "impoverished people." Overall Chávez has achieved his "strategic goal" of presenting a "largely united South America," claimed Austria's centrist Die Presse. A Colombian critic charged that Chávez' use of Cuban "technical assistance" serves to "dismantle" democratic pluralism and restrict "individual liberties." A Guatemalan expert questioned the direction of the "Cuba-Venezuela axis." Venezuelan analysts contended that Chávez would continue as "Head of State" until 2030 to fulfill the "Bolivarian myth" to "shake off the shackles of foreign oppression."
'Oil reserves' provide 'economic might'-- Commentators emphasized that Chávez uses petroleum as a "weapon" to impose conditions on weaker countries. Brazil's center-right Catholic Jornal do Brasil opined that Chávez' leftist populist doctrine is "backed up" by abundant oil. An Austrian editorialist declared that Venezuela turns its "ample oil reserves" into "petrodollars" to convert "words into deeds." It invests in "friendly states" such as Cuba, supplying "90,000 barrels of oil a day" at "preferential prices," stated Nicaragua's leftist El Nuevo Diario. A German analyst cited Chávez' allocation of "ample petrodollars" for domestic social projects to build a base of supporters among "poorer sectors of society;" he also manipulates oil as "insurance" against a possible U.S. conflict, it declared. Ecuador's centrist El Comercio posited, Chávez takes full advantage of economic options at the international level to "increase his geopolitical weight in the region."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Susan Emerson
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 61 reports from 18 countries over 28 July - 24 August, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
GERMANY: "Chávez Rails"
Erik-Michael Bader claimed in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/23): "Of course, Venezuela's President Chávez and Fidel Castro are well aware of irritating Washington and many Americans with their polemics against the United States. Chávez thinks he can afford this because the United States will not get involved in a conflict with Venezuela, an important oil supplier.... But Chávez mainly keeps in mind that the anti-Yankee polemics will promote his popularity not only in his own country but in Latin America as a whole. It is likely that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was right with his charge that Chávez contributes to 'destabilizing' other countries, especially Bolivia. But Chávez' counter accusation that it is the United States that destabilizes the region most, is also justified, especially when looking beyond open and hidden interventions and also include those domestic reactions which are caused by the economic superpower."
Hildegard Stausberg observed in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/23): "The strongest link between Cuba's dictator Castro and Venezuela's dictator Chávez is anti-Americanism, in which they indulged during a joint speech in a Cuban province…and both wore uniform, thus expressing their contempt of a western-style democracy. Castro's Cuba has been a tough dictatorship for decades and Chávez's Venezuela is about to become one.... They agreed on measures, which will certainly help them score points in Latin America. This is also true for their anti-American slogans and accusations. And when Chávez reiterates that U.S. imperialism is the greatest scourge of mankind, he can be sure of the silent approval of broad sectors of the population. But at the same time, an increasing number of Latinos tries to find their salvation north of the Rio Grande; more than 30 million, and they could be decisive in the next presidential elections. A perspective that is increasingly worrying Americans."
Manfred Pantförder had this to say in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/18): "Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez is increasingly profiling himself as George W. Bush's challenger. The renewed threat to turn the oil tap off is hitting an extremely sensitive nerve in the North. By doing so, Chávez is approaching a red line. In the end, he is not likely to cross it, since ample petrodollars are flowing into his coffers and he deliberately uses these funds for 'social projects.' Like in the style of a leftist populist, he is thus strengthening his power base among the poorer sectors of society.... Chávez is using President Bush as an enemy image to bind his supporters. This is the reason for the sharp tones towards Washington. This also functions beyond Venezuela's borders where dull resentments against the North are still widespread. Chávez is polarizing in his own country and in Latin America and is supported by Castro and the revolutionaries in Bolivia and Colombia. This is the real danger…for Chávez is impeding the development of the subcontinent. He rejected, for instance, the formation of a free trade zone on the entire American continent. Thus far, Washington has not found a recipe to show Chávez his limits."
RUSSIA: "Great Anti-American Dream"
Grigory Plakhotnikov argued in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (8/22): "The issue of leadership in the future anti-American alliance seems to have been resolved.... Comrade Castro and Mr. Chavez made fiery addresses at the Karl Max Theater to blame 'global imperialism' and call on their neighbors to 'close ranks against the U.S.' Fidel Castro rejected U.S. charges that Cuba and Venezuela have tried to influence Latin American countries and destabilize the situation in the region.... In an indirect confirmation of the fact that Cuba and Venezuela seriously consider forming an anti-American axis, last Saturday Havana fully restored diplomatic relations with Panama. They were broken about a year ago after the Panamanian authorities released four terrorists accused of preparations for Fidel Castro's assassination. The countries have now agreed to establish normal relations based on the spirit of brotherhood which has always existed between the two countries."
AUSTRIA: "Social Nostalgia"
Foreign affairs writer Wolfgang Greber commented in centrist Die Presse (8/16): "The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, is the new leftist icon. With his social programs such as free medical aid for the poor and land reforms, he won the hearts of the masses. His charisma reaches countries, which also have leftist governments, like Brazil. Chávez seems to have achieved his strategic goal: to present a largely united South America as a contrast to the 'imperialist North,' especially the U.S. The down-to-earth rhetorician has one trump card that Castro never possessed: Venezuela has ample oil reserves--and thus petrodollars that help to turn words into deeds and can be invested in friendly states. The oil also is insurance with regard to the North: Venezuela supplies 15% of the U.S. oil demand--thus, the U.S. cannot afford to impose an embargo against Venezuela, as it did against Cuba. However, for all his appeal, Chávez’ governing style has become more authoritarian--an effect that is bound to show in any state with a strong ideological basis. Chávez secured his power to such a degree that is positively frightening: he placed friends at the constitutional court, and dominates the military. Opponents are beaten up. For all its admiration of Chávez, the European left must take note of the fact that he is not a democrat with a clean record."
NORWAY: "The Opposition Despairs, Chávez Smiles"
Latin America correspondent Arne Halvorsenhad this to say in newspaper-of-record Aftenposten (8/14): "Hugo Chávez is a populist, demagogue and seducer of the masses.... Ever since Chávez was elected president, the opposition has tried to remove him.... The opposition kept hoping for support from big brother to the North--the United States. In 2002, a failed military coup against Chávez was ended after only two days. The U.S. supported the coup, which is something Chávez will never forget. He has become almost paranoid and keeps repeating that the U.S. is now trying to murder him to get its hands on Venezuela’s rich oil sources. So Chávez is arming up. Not only has he spent billions on weapons, but he is also building a people's militia of two million soldiers that can defend him against a potential U.S. invasion. In this sense, Venezuela is starting to look more and more like a civilian military regime. The United States lacks a strategy. This is partly because the Venezuela issue has so far been handled at the mid- or lower levels of the U.S. administration. The U.S. wants to isolate Chávez but is not able to do so. It is only Colombia's President, Alvaro Uribe, who supports U.S. criticism of Chávez. Others like Brazil, Argentina and Chile support him. That is also true for a majority of Venezuela’s 27 million inhabitants. The presidential election next fall looks like it will be an easy win for Hugo Chávez, who in that case will remain until 2014."
SPAIN: "Chávez Plays With Fire"
Conservative ABC stated (8/16): "The Spanish government should take note of the behavior of this odd leader, whom they have been determined to sell military material to, and who has recently, publicly welcomed Catalonian and Basque separatists and praised the republican flag in an international act.... It's evident that the U.S. does not like Chávez's decision [to remove DEA's diplomatic status in Venezuela]. What has not been explained to the Venezuelan ex-colonel, is that if he irritates Washington a little more, he is exposing himself to evident danger that can seriously affect his future."
"Chávez And The Ballot Boxes, One More Time"
Conservative ABC editorialized (8/15): "Why the time extension [in the August 8 elections]? This did not happen, like the law says, to permit that the crowds in front of the doors of the electoral colleges to exercise the sacrosanct right to vote, but to mobilize some of the most timid supporters, that had chosen to stay at home because of a lack of incentive to vote..... According to the majority of the Venezuelan press and the international reporters at the voting booths, they claim they were a symbol of the high abstention that characterized these elections.... This is from a political system that boasts of 'participatory' inclusion and a 'leader' for democracy where people are mobilized--or should be--in defense of their government and their demands."
EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
JAPAN: "Crude Oil Prices Leap As Supply Fears Continue To Plague Market"
Tokyo liberal Mainichi Daily News (Internet version 8/24) recognized: "The price of crude oil vaulted Wednesday, ahead of the key U.S. petroleum inventories report that is likely to show falls in crude and gasoline stocks, as the market continued to be plagued by supply worries.... Oil prices are nearly 50 percent higher from a year ago, and hit an all-time high of U.S. $67.10 Aug. 12. Crude contracts rose late last week after Ecuadorean villagers--demanding more oil royalties and jobs--hindered production from the Andean nation. Markets were then jolted by Iraq oil exports from its Southern terminals being reduced by about two-thirds Monday when insurgents shut down most of the country's electricity grid.... In South America, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez then offered to top up Quito's export commitments, but his statements on leading his country toward socialism have some analysts worried. Venezuela is the world's fifth-largest crude exporter and has the largest proven reserves outside of the Middle East. On Tuesday, former presidential candidate and televangelist Pat Robertson called for Chavez' assassination, which immediately raised tensions. Washington has distanced itself from Robertson's comments. Chávez is an outspoken critic of U.S. President George W. Bush."
ARGENTINA: "News Channel For Bush To Watch On TV"
Political columnist, Diego Schurman, wrote in left-of-center Pagina 12 (8/22): "After his meeting with Kirchner there were confirmations of naval agreements, among other issues. The fleeting visit of President Chávez to Government House ten days ago also gave strong impulse to another common project, which is deliberately kept secret: the creation of a multimedia outlet to compete with the Spanish-language networks, such as CNN. The first steps of the Presidents of Argentina and Venezuela will be to consolidate TV signal TELESUR, although they are already thinking of creating a radio and they don't rule out producing a newspaper."
"New U.S. Eyes In The Region"
Leading correspondent Ana Baron judged in leading, left-of-center Clarin (8/19): "With the replacement of Roger Noriega by Tom Shannon at the Deputy Secretariat for Latin American Affairs, some analysts expect there will be more space for multilateral diplomacy in the region and less for bilateral confrontation and this will lead to a reduction in the present polarization and distrust resulting from the clashes between the U.S. and Venezuela. Others, however, believe the change is because the Bush administration wants to implement the same policy Noriega was carrying out, but more efficaciously. Among other things, by better containing President Chavez and stopping the fall of U.S. influence in the region. In this sense, the idea would be to achieve the same goals but through other--more diplomatic--means."
"Hugo Chávez, Made In USA?"
Claudio Uriarte opined in left-of-center Pagina 12 (8/14): "Doesn't the current escalation in rhetoric between Venezuela and the U.S. seem a confrontation in a mirror? Or, more precisely, isn't this escalation...allowed and even encouraged, although involuntarily, by the U.S.?... The guiding line is oil, of which Venezuela is the U.S.' third-largest supplier.... High oil prices are convenient for Chávez.... This is why he 'flirted' with Saddam Hussein shortly after taking over and this is why he is currently threatening to cut the oil supply to the U.S. in order to deflect it to China. Chávez needs international tension to increase in order to favor an increase in oil prices...and one can safely say that the current framework of tension in the Middle East and depletion in the capacity of the U.S. refineries' capacity favor Chávez. The U.S. accuses Chávez of providing a sanctuary for FARC activities, but the truth is that Venezuela has always offered a sanctuary for diverse Colombian guerrillas. The U.S. also accuses Chávez of promoting Evo Morales' election campaign in Bolivia, but the truth is that it was the U.S., and not Venezuela, who invented Morales, first by imposing a coca crop eradication policy on the Bolivia of Hugo Banzer...and then indirectly promoting his candidacy through a vociferous denunciation against him by the U.S. Embassy in La Paz.... Also, Chávez has always received some help from blunt statements made by U.S. State Department officials such as Otto Reich and Roger Noriega, who made Cold-War style warnings against what is objectively a small power."
BRAZIL: "Rumsfeld's Polka"
The center-right Catholic Jornal do Brasil editorialized (Internet Version 8/23): "The spreading of [Venezuelan President] Hugo Chávez' Bolivarian revolution and the threat it poses to the U.S. role in Latin America has prompted a reaction from the United States. The leftist populist doctrine, backed up by Venezuela's abundant oil, has gained new momentum in the wake of enthusiastic endorsement by [Cuban President] Fidel Castro's regime. On Sunday [22 August] the two shared a radio program after heading a parade in a convertible. Thus, Ecuador's distant attitude following [former President] Lucio Gutierrez' ouster prompted the White House to freeze diplomatic relations with his successor Alfredo Palacios, who is more of a Chávez friend than one would think. Next, Washington proceeded to focus its attention on two other targets: Peru and Paraguay. The intention of Bush's Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's recent visit to these two countries--his second Latin American visit this year--was obvious. In the case of Asuncion [capital of Paraguay], he sought to draw the administration of President Nicanor Duarte Frutos into Washington's sphere of influence.... Fidel Castro's hold on power is based on fear of an unlikely U.S. invasion of Cuba. Chávez has adopted the same approach, but he has money and has been investing a great deal of it in arms and depicting himself as the champion of the disgruntled. The Pentagon chief's stopover in Peru is part of the same subtle tactic disguised as interest in drug trafficking issues. With a disapproval rating of 85 percent, Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo is facing a rebellion of coca farmers. Peru and neighboring Bolivia are major producers of coca, a crop that is being eradicated under a U.S.-funded program that is facing extinction. That being the case, Rumsfeld wants to prevent Lima from falling into the grip of a people's uprising that toppled two Bolivian administrations and shoved La Paz onto the Chávez bandwagon."
"The Next Narco-Round"
Walter Fanganiello Maierovitch commented in the business weekly Sao Paulo Carta Capital (Internet Version 8/22): "Bush is bound to say that [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chávez does not cooperate with drug enforcement efforts. The Venezuelan leader won't readily agree. Observers of drug geopolitics are expecting another narco-round between Bush and Chávez in September. Bush will announce in September the "list" of countries that do not cooperate with drug enforcement efforts and Venezuela is a strong candidate to be on that list along with Myanmar, a military narco-dictatorship. Should that be the case, President Hugo Chávez won't readily agree. The usual rules will apply for the upcoming match. In other words, blows below the belt, head butts, tripping, and business interests will all be part of the game. The crisis between the two governments grew worse in August. Chávez expelled Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spooks from Venezuela and suspended the drug enforcement cooperation agreement with the U.S. Government. The Venezuelan president discovered that the DEA was spying on his administration. It had little interest in enforcement efforts, other than to disseminate self-serving propaganda and spreading slander against Chávez. For example: the DEA reported on its website, and took credit for, an operation to seize and dismantle a cocaine trafficking ring in Venezuela's Orinoco River. The operation was entirely planned and carried out by Italian cooperation personnel, with minimal participation by the DEA. In truth, Chávez' suspension of the agreement was a long time in coming. Espionage, violation of sovereignty, corruption, snooping, co-opting and partnering with drug traffickers are all practices that the DEA regularly undertakes in Latin America."
BOLIVIA: "Venezuela Damages Sales Of Bolivian Soy"
Pro-business, centrist La Razon editorialized (8/18): "Venezuela has forever been an unconditional friend of Bolivia, and Venezuelans have always felt Bolivians as brothers and supported the country in every necessity it had.... Venezuela was one of the greater and safest markets for Bolivian soy in the Andean Community of Nations, essential for the national economy.... All of this has been going to pieces with the arrival of President Hugo Chavez.... The beginning of the deterioration came about when Chavez started his intromission in Bolivia’s internal policy, causing a cooling of relations with former President Hugo Banzer.... The latest event is...regarding the fact that Venezuela has opened its markets to U.S. soy oils, something which goes against the norms established by the Andean Community of Nations. This has caused soy sales to Venezuela...to decrease by 43.5 million dollars. Chavez therefore, not only interferes in Bolivia’s internal policy; he not only makes bad international moves supporting Chile, but he also does not comply with its commercial commitments with Bolivia, and favors the U.S. That is Chavez’ friendship.”
Leading Santa Cruz-based daily El Deber criticized (8/18): “The President of Venezuela ran around from place to place proclaiming his friendship with Bolivia and supporting the rightness of Bolivia’s claim to a sea coast. All of a sudden however, as circumstances presented themselves, [Chavez] did not hesitate in changing his position and moving to the other side. And now, to complete...this 'friendship’, Chavez decides to buy American soy, leaving aside Bolivia’s soy, because that is how life is. High level people have their whims and they could care less about those who do not like them or are damaged by them.... Our plea stands: Let God protect us from our friends, since our enemies I can handle myself.”
"New Leftist Bolivian Strategy"
Gonzalo J. S. Quiroga Soria spotlit in left-leaning La Paz-based La Prensa (8/18): "At the end of the 1990s, numerous leftist movements and parties have extended to Latin America. As proof of evident expression of this wave includes the electoral triumphs of the following leftist leaders: Hugo Chávez (Venezuela, 1998), Ricardo Lagos (Chile, 1999), Luiz Inácio da Silva, Lula (Brazil, 2002), Néstor Kirchner (Argentina, 2003), and Tabaré Vázquez (Uruguay, 2004). These same results may materialize in the next elections in countries such as Mexico, Bolivia or Peru. Thus, it can be seen that the left has arrived with force in Latin American politics. However, this leftist movement which many call "the new left" tries to demonstrate that it has little to do with the past; in many cases it even aspires to be a social revolution, but the "left" of of today demonstrates that underneath the mantle of "social movement" is a much more moderate, pragmatic discourse that permits it to obtain power through the voting booths, trying to form part of the democratic process.... For this reason there are differences between "reinventing" the left and/or adapting it to the 21st century, assuming that current powers have failed to deliver between the reflected image and that presented.... There are only two options: chain it or pray that the fire is extinguished."
"When The Country Is Discussed Abroad"
Pro-business, centrist La Razon penned (7/29): "Weak nations provoke interference or concern from the outside world. On the one hand, the fact that other countries or regional and international organizations want to impose direction on the poor nations inevitably gives a sense of pathetic colonialism, of disregard for the sovereignty of those peoples and their systems of government. But on the other hand, this attitude can be interpreted as proof of the globalized era in which everything is interrelated.... These days Bolivia’s destiny is being discussed abroad in a strange triangle that has the U.S., Venezuela and Cuba as its protagonists. This is not the first time that these three countries have engaged in a discussion over Bolivia.… Evo Morales not only maintains the best of relations with Chavez, but also with Fidel Castro and other leaders opposed to the U.S. It is due to those links that Assistant Secretary Noriega reacted, stating that there is ‘conclusive evidence’ of Venezuela’s and Cuba’s intervention in Bolivian political affairs.... The country should always try to take the lead in defining its own affairs through the democratic process. Otherwise, others will take on the role of being godfathers and decide for Bolivia. In the same manner, direct interference, whether verbal or through actions--namely financing--must be promptly noted and denounced, wherever it comes from."
"According To Serious Accusations"
Cochabamba daily conservative Los Tiempos expressed concern (7/28): "Venezuelan and Cuban interference is a serious accusation, and it is in the national interest to investigate it thoroughly. [If these accusations are true] Bolivia would be facing an inadmissible foreign interference that is an affront to its sovereignty and the democratic system, as well as an attack against its self-determination and independence. Even worse, it would be [evidence of] flagrant treason by a citizen [Morales] intent on leading the country.... The alleged partnership between the presidential hopeful and Misters Chavez and Castro is a loud secret, corroborated by Morales’ frequent trips to Caracas and Havana and more recently, by his blatant rejection of the State’s subsidy for the electoral campaigns of the parties.... Moreover, the high cost of the blockades promoted in the Cochabamba tropic and other regions are another reason to wonder about the source of their financing."
CHILE: "Chavez: the Left that Does Not Learn"
Christian Democratic political scientist Genaro Arriagada alleged in center-left Diario Siete (8/15): "In the past days (Chavez) has caused surprise with his quick tour of several South American countries.... Chavez acts as if Venezuela were the leading global economic power.... If his international policy is surprising, his ideological political speech...has mixes of...Leninist Marxism, a national militarism and references to the Bolivarian myth.... Besides being a contradictory speech it is also variable.... There is a left that, under the terrifying experience of the military dictatorships of the past decades, learned to value democracy as a fundamental pillar of all progressive policy and to condemn without a double standard the violations of human rights.... Certainly, this left is the strongest in Latin America, which includes, with different styles and programs, Lagos and Lula, Kirchner...Tabare Vasquez, Fernandez, Torrijos.... On the other side, sitting at the right of Fidel Castro is Hugo Chavez."
"Chile and the Difficult South American Horizon"
Conservative afternoon La Segunda editorialized (8/12): "Although the figure of Hugo Chavez stands out in the regional panorama for his political activism...it is the vulnerability of several South American nations that is worrying.... To the chronic Bolivian instability and the longtime institutional crisis in Ecuador, now are added denunciations of corruption in the close circle around the Brazilian president.... In this picture, Chavez’ economic might gives him ample ways to influence, especially among the leftist governments along the Atlantic coast.... What Fidel Castro attempted through ideology and armed subversion the Bolivarian leader is now attempting through his wallet.... His unjustified militarism is in itself a grave threat. His discrepancies with Colombia’s U.S.-supported anti-guerrilla policy...plus his alliance with Fidel and his television campaigns form another chapter of the anti-American fight in which he is trying to engage Latin America."
"Tele-Bush To Stop Tele Chávez?"
Andres Oppenheimer opined in conservative, influential El Mercurio (8/5): "A U.S. TV channel--which would end up being called Tele-Bush--would be counterproductive, at least while there still exist remnants of press freedom in Venezuela. As a frequent CNN political analyst I do not agree with Chávez's stance that CNN reflects the White House's opinions.... However, Telesur should be left to its own fate.... If the U.S. Congress wants to confront Chávez's financial and propaganda squandering in Latin America, it would do better to assist Venezuelan daily El Universal...that would be far more effective...and wouldn’t give Chávez a new excuse to remain in power forever by arguing that he is defending Venezuela from the claws of 'imperialism'."
COLOMBIA: "The Venezuelan-Cuba Relationship"
Medellin-based, center-right, Conservative Party affiliated daily El Colombiano insisted (8/16): "Since 1998, Chávez and Castro have established a close diplomatic, economic, military and intelligence relationship between the two governments. Thanks to the Venezuelan petroleum subsidy, Castro has been able to increase repression in Cuba. Effective Cuban technical assistance has permitted Chávez to attack Venezuela's democratic pluralism, undo the country's institutional basis, and restrict individual liberties more and more, similar to the Castro model."
CUBA: "It Is Time To Move Ahead"
Marina Menendez Quintero observed in Union of Young Communists-published Juventud Rebelde (Internet Version 8/4): "In the immediate future and in a practical, tangible sense, the way continues to be smoothed by fruitful initiatives that are already under way, such as Petrocaribe for the solidarity-based exchange of the region's main energy resource, or Telesur, an alternative TV network that aims at countering the hegemony of transnational power and that is already causing resentment.... But from an institutional standpoint, Latin American integration is possibly an even more difficult process. In this regard, however, official efforts are not lagging behind. Indeed, it is a success in itself that we can even talk about the South American Community of Nations, which the Andean Community and Mercosur officially established just a few months ago and which is preparing now for its first summit, scheduled for September in Brazil.... Getting the community up and running goes beyond urgent and essential solidarity-based trade among our nations. The idea is to form a single bloc with its own voice, a conglomerate that takes united action in the face of powerful nations not only in trade but in politics as well and that gives the continent (Latin America and the Caribbean) the strength that individual nations lack today.... Some truly interesting ideas have been put forward, such as Argentina's proposal to create a Latin American parliamentary body. And there is even talk of allowing citizens to move freely around a territory that will one day be a common one, as the European Union did after much time had passed. As has already been said, never before have the conditions seemed as propitious as they do now for the people of Latin America and the Caribbean to realize their dream of integration. Today, the old traitorous political claque that is totally submissive to the United States seems to be completely bankrupt, jeered by peoples who are altogether fed up. But the political will of all is still needed...as well as the desire to subordinate narrow self-interests for the sake of moving ahead."
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: "Chávez: New Fascist Leader"
Media commentator Miguel Guerrero judged in conservative, independent morning daily El Caribe (8/21): “In Dominican political circles, especially in the official sphere, there exists the false impression that Chávez is a leftist. Anyone who has carefully observed his trajectory and read"The Commandante Speaks" by Augustín Blanco Muñoz, a voluminous work of 637 pages based on fourteen interviews with Chávez conducted between March 1995 and June 1998, will arrive without any difficulty at a different conclusion. The Venezuelan President is a classic right-wing military man in the style of Nasser. His projects related to Latin American unity are very similar to the caliph’s dreams that obsessed the Egyptian leader until the day he died. His understanding with Castro does not come from ideological affinity. It is an alliance of opportunity pure and simple. Castro needs Chávez for his petroleum, and Chávez, Castro for the revolutionary image he needs to inflate his own project. They are united by other coincidences that do not come from the world of ideologies, such as a huge ego, that in both reaches incredible heights; the ambition for power, to which neither sets a limit (Castro will be there until he dies, Chávez is thinking until the year 2020), and above all, their irrational opposition to the United States, which they accuse of all the evils of humanity, even of their own mistakes as leaders. [Chávez'] idea of power comes from Fascism. He uses petroleum not to better his people’s condition of life, which is as poor or worse than when he set foot in Miraflores, but as a weapon to impose conditions on weaker countries, as occurred during [former President] Mejia’s administration. Some of his ultra-nationalist projects, such as Petrocaribe, are an unmistakable sign of Messianism and of his idle idea of becoming the Great Redeemer of the Third World. He is a leftist only because he pitches with his left hand and because extremes are hard to distinguish from each other."
"The Issue Is Petroleum"
Free morning daily Diario Libre expressed concern (8/21): "The country’s principal problem is not the [International Monetary] Fund, or free trade or taxes or [legislative] chambers or mayors’ offices, but the price of petroleum, which is high and will keep going up without any way to stop its rise. If large countries cannot restrain the increases, what can small countries do? The President and his ministers trust Venezuela, Chavez and Petrocaribe, as they trusted before the Caracas Agreement, but in those solutions there is more talk than substance. Venezuela, Chavez and Petrocaribe are not giving away anything, and the announcement was lovely as a [a show of the] principle of the solidarity of the Bolivarian Revolution, but in practice it could result in a deception. As it happens with all propaganda, no one paid attention to the fine print. It was signed believing that, from then on, all would change, and now we discover we are in the same place. We still have to look for money to buy or to pay later. The only thing that Venezuela, Chavez and Petrocaribe are providing is cash flow."
ECUADOR: "Bolivarian Democracy"
Populist La Hora editorialized (8/14): "Chávez has been erratic, arbitrary and has made the mistake of locking horns with key institutions, like the Catholic Church, the media, the private sector and unions. But, at the same time, it is also true that he has begun to win over various South American countries, including Ecuador.... Venezuela has become a point of reference for all the impoverished people of the region."
"Take Advantage, Ecuador"
Gonzalo Ortiz Crespo opined in Quito’s leading centrist El Comercio (8/9): "A statement that no one can argue about is that Ecuador must take advantage of all economic options available that can used to benefit its population. Today it seems that Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez is offering various options to Ecuador, which, using absolutely pragmatic criteria, the government of Alfredo Palacio must take advantage of.... Chávez is not doing this out of altruism, we know that. He is doing it to increase his geopolitical weight in the region, displaying the populism he uses in his country at an international level.... The Venezuelan opposition, weak and fragmented, says that everything (has gone) wrong since Chávez ascended to power. It is not true: a lot was already wrong before Chávez, especially the fierce concentration of wealth. And neither it is true that Chávez has not done anything good.... The problem is that poverty still exists in Venezuela...despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that the government receives each day from the sale of its oil.... This is because Chávez populism has not changed, nor does it pretend to change, structures."
GUATEMALA: "21st Century Socialism"
Carlos Alberto Montaner posited in influential daily El Periódico (8/12): "The socialism of the 21st Century is a mix of chief dictatorship, collectivism and militarization of the power structures. Little by little, authoritarism will oppress Venezuelan society to the point of suppressing the press, crushing free unions, controlling education centers and silencing the Church and other forces of the civil society. Where is this Cuba-Venezuela axis headed to?.... It is probable that [Chávez] will try at some point to launch a confederation between the two countries, but only as a first step in the direction of [Bolivia].... The confederation then can smoothly begin to clone by incorporating other 'friends' of the revolutionary movement: Evo Morales, in Bolivia; Daniel Ortega, in Nicaragua; or any other adventurer who appears in Ecuador or Peru. The issue is fairly simple: they already have the model and the discourse."
"Telesur: Our North Is The South"
Adrián Zapata predicted in business daily Siglo Veintiuno (8/4): "Communications need to change toward democratization of spaces and to another look at reality. After 25 years, globalization has deepened the lack of balance in the information. Telesur could contribute to counteract it in Latin America. Has the South begun to be Latin American’s North?"
"Telesur Is Up And Running"
Danilo Arbilla declared in moderate, leading daily Prensa Libre (8/3): "If the bill (proposed by the U.S. Congress) is approved, Chávez and Telesur will have 'the war' they need. [They will have] the opposition that will hold them up [and] that will give them the topics for their ideological fights.... To begin with, it is unlikely that broadcasts by the U.S. government will have more credibility than those broadcast by Telesur, even in the event that Telesur becomes, with no disguise, a propaganda medium for the Chávez dream. If the United States does not face the reality of its image problems and the low confidence level that it generates in the rest of the world, it will continue to bring forth initiatives destined to fail and whose result will only contribute to the growth and strength of what they attack. Telesur will have to compete in Venezuela and the rest of the countries with the private and independent media.... The solution hardly is to establish other broadcasts supported by the states.... The public is always the best tribunal and it is not dumb."
JAMAICA: "Welcoming Chavez"
The left-of-center Gleaner opined (8/23): "Under the San Jose Oil Accord, which has been in effect for many years, Jamaica gets credit for 80 per cent of its oil imports from Mexico and Venezuela, transferable into long-term development loans. The Petro Caribe Accord goes even further…Venezuela sells 1.4 million barrels of oil per day to the United States.... As friction between Caracas and Washington continues to grow, President Chávez has threatened to cut off oil supplies to America. Whether this would be a case of cutting off the nose to spite the face remains to be seen, but Venezuela is already courting other customers, notably China.... Mr. Chávez is a populist who harbors an instinctive distrust of America’s foreign policy. And with good reason. Washington has hardly disguised its support for groups working to undermine his regime. Prime Minister Patterson has also welcomed his support for CARICOM’s stance on the departure of Jean-Bertrand Aristide from Haiti and has publicly proclaimed a special friendship with the president. On this basis, more favorable news may come out of the press conference to be held after the Montego Bay meeting. President Chávez and his delegation will undoubtedly receive an enthusiastic welcome."
The Jamaica Observer commented (Internet Version 8/22): "The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, arrives in Jamaica tomorrow for a one-day visit that will culminate with the signing of an energy cooperation agreement between Kingston and Caracas, but will also likely create unease in Washington where Chávez is viewed as a regional troublemaker. This will be Chavez’ second visit to the island, having previously been here in 1999, and he will arrive from Cuba where he has been having talks with America's other nemesis in the region, Fidel Castro.... It is important to Jamaica that we have good relations with all our neighbours in the hemisphere.... We have good relations with Venezuela, which have brought economic value to Jamaica. We hope to improve on those relations and the value that they bring.... The Venezuelan leader has treated Castro as a mentor and the Bush administration has accused both men of attempting to precipitate unrest in Latin America, specifically accusing them of being responsible for the instability in Bolivia where popular protests have driven two presidents from office in less than two years."
NICARAGUA: "Castro's Latin American & Caribbean Friends"
Leftist national daily El Nuevo Diario noted (8/21): "Cuban President Fidel Castro with his Venezuelan friend and ally Hugo Chávez, presided over a small Latin American and Caribbean presidential meeting when Washington is accusing both of them of destabilizing and agitating the region.... The meeting takes place at a time when Washington is increasing its accusations against Castro and Chávez, whose alliance translates to 90,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil a day to Cuba at preferential prices and the shipment of 30,000 Cuban doctors, teachers and sports trainers to Venezuela. During a trip to Paraguay and Peru last week, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that ' there is evidence that Cuba and Venezuela have been involved in Bolivia's situation in ways that do not help'. But both Chávez and Castro did not miss a step and this week accused George Bush's government of having a two-faced moral in the anti-terrorist war. They demanded the release of five Cubans who were incarcerated under espionage charges and that Luis Posada Carriles be extradited."
Leftist national daily El Nuevo Diario articulated (8/18): "Former Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega criticized the U.S. because it is pushing for a free trade agreement 'which will only benefit them' and because it is trying to prevent Latin American integration.' The U.S. always makes big mistakes and instead of being a factor of peace and stability in the region, it is a factor of instability and insecurity. 'They [the U.S.] should see that Latin American unity cannot be stopped', he said.... Regarding the situation in his country, Ortega said that the opposition [FSLN] is going to win the elections next year just like nine months ago the opposition won the municipal elections. He said that this victory will happen despite the U.S. meddling in Nicaraguan internal affairs going through a special envoy [Oliver Garza] who is freely going about with the support of the government. Ortega said that the U.S. should check its policies on Latin America and correct its mistakes which have increased tension in its relationships with its Southern neighbors. 'We have never invaded the U.S., we have never bombed them and yet, they have hurt us, especially in Nicaragua', Ortega said."
"Telesur Irritates U.S."
Augusto Zamora critically advised in leftist national daily El Nuevo Diario (8/13): "Telesur irritates the U.S. deeply. Financed mainly by Venezuela the attacks go against Chávez. The Interamerican Press Association accuses him of 'threatening freedom of expression.' Telesur has the slogan 'our north is the south.' It will not defend the interests of the governments or business conglomerates of the rich countries. It will look after the forgotten south.... The first political 'cannons' against Telesur were resounded last week in Washington where a congresswoman from Florida, Connie Mack, proposed that the federal government start broadcasting about Venezuela with propaganda that could be adverse to Hugo Chávez as a means to counter the 'anti-Americanism' of the Caracas-based station. In spite of this, the first criticism to the station came from Bogotá, where sources from the Colombian government expressed their 'troubles' with the fact that the channel, in its presentation, used the image of the Colombian guerrilla leader Manuel Marulanda Vélez."
VENEZUELA: "War Retreat"
Political analyst Manuel Felipe Sierra claimed in leading liberal daily El Nacional (8/23): "The alliance between Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro strengthened last Sunday as they jointly hosted a ‘Hello, President’ show from Cuba. Did they need to make an official announcement or a declaration of war against American imperialism to stress the increasingly closer integration between both regimes? The symbols they sent out were more than enough. Both wore the same military fatigue; general Baduel (Army commander), vice admiral Armando Laguna (Navy commander) and general Melvin López Hidalgo (FAN general inspector) all reported to the Cuban dictator. Some of us expected concrete responses regarding the tensions between Chávez and Bush as a result of the rupture with DEA and the possibility of an oil supply cut. But two days before the show it was already known that he wouldn’t address those issues. The issue of drug trafficking is Fidel Castro’s Achilles’ heel. That’s why when Chávez acted against DEA he gave Bush a card to put pressure on Castro. That implied that the Venezuelan soil was at the mercy of the Colombian guerrilla linked to drug trafficking for the activation of a connection that, inevitably, for geographical reasons, would include the Cuban regime. The surprise meeting between Senator Specter and Ambassador Brownfield with Chávez on Thursday night and the reformulation of the bilateral treaty to have DEA back in operation can be explained in this context. Rhetoric can help make advancements in the contemporaneous geopolitics. Castro and Chávez know this very well. Washington, on the other hand, seems to forget about it."
"DEA-National Guard Conflict"
Attorney Jesús R. Quintero P. asserted in leading liberal daily El Nacional (8/23): "Within the context of the rhetorical confrontation between the government of Venezuela and the U.S. administration, the properly legal issue of the controlled delivery of drugs, which is closely linked to the licit police actions in a democratic rule of law. The argument between the National Guard and DEA is precisely the real destiny of the controlled delivery of drugs, or, to be more precise, the destiny of the amounts missing."
"Chávez On Cuba"
Journalist Roberto Giusti judged in leading conservative daily El Universal (8/23): "If anyone had any doubt about the results of Chávez’ search for the lost socialism, he or she could have cleared it up once and for all since last Sunday. Live from Cuba we could hear Chávez say: 'Nobody should be fooled. This is not the western classical democracy imposed on us. A dictatorship is another thing. Here (in Cuba) there is a system of a grassroots revolutionary democracy.’ Democracy means ruling a submissive nation for almost half a century with a single party, a single thought and a single will.”
"Castro’s Dream May Become Chávez’ Folly"
Henry Gómez Samper, president of the DJ Editorial Council, alleged in English-language weekly edition The Daily Journal (8/20): "Record oil prices are boosting President Hugo Chávez’ chance to remain in power and undermine U.S. influence in Latin America. Cuba’s economy is rapidly becoming integrated with that of Venezuela, and recent successes in the Caribbean were followed this week by fresh trade deals with Argentina and Uruguay. Will Chávez fulfill Fidel Castro’s dream for Latin America? Castro and Chávez are also riding a worldwide wave of anti-Americanism stirred up by the invasion of Iraq, followed by well-publicized abuses in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. Such sentiments help strengthen left-wing opposition leaders throughout Latin America. No region or country has benefited more from Venezuela than Cuba. Chávez has become Castro’s lifeline. Chávez may be pondering how Washington will react when Castro dies. A collapsing dictatorship would not be in Washington’s interest, for Cuba is too close to the U.S. Chávez has worked hard for Fidel. But a strong, post-Castro government in Cuba may be Washington’s key to cut short Chávez’ control of Cuba’s economy. Castro’s dream could become Chávez’ folly."
"Between The U.S. And Cuba"
Political analyst Fernando Luis Egaña argued in sensationalist daily 2001 (8/23): "Mr. Chávez says that in the U.S. tyranny prevails while in Cuba democracy flourishes. What nonsense! Among the billion reasons, just one would suffice: over the almost 50 years Fidel Castro has been reigning on the Caribbean island, the American electorate has put in and out 10 presidents from diverse ideological tendencies. The alleged ‘Bolivarian revolution’ insists on placing Venezuela in the false U.S.-or-Cuba dilemma. The ‘revolutionary’ rhetoric indicates that the Venezuela’s sovereignty is about confronting the ‘Yankees’ and breaking the links with their government and their economy. And I say ‘rhetoric,’ because one of the greatest beneficiaries of Venezuela’s recent oil boom, besides Fidel Castro, has been the import of U.S. merchandise. I don’t think Cuba is an example of future for a democratic society like ours."
"The Price Of A Foolish Mistake"
Political analyst Juan Carlos Sosa Azpurua editorialized in leading conservative daily El Universal (8/23): "In the moments of euphoria caused by the very high oil crude prices, the Venezuelan government threatens with cutting the oil supplies to the U.S. and doesn’t think that with this would cut the supply to Venezuelans, an auto embargo, because the revenues from the oil to the U.S. belongs to Venezuela. Cutting the oil supplies to the U.S. would shoot up the oil prices to more than $100 per barrel, which would generate a world economic recession, starting in Latin America and the world’s poorest countries. The threat with cutting oil supplies to the U.S. is not a game…even though the one that promotes this idea believes it is. His followers laugh and feel powerful. Never before has ignorant arrogance been so dangerous, so irresponsible. We don’t deserve the fate this foolish mistake would bring and neither does the world."
Marciano (reportedly pseudonym for Venezuela’s Vice President José Vicente Rangel) warned in pro-Government daily tabloid Diario VEA (8/23): "The purpose of Venezuelan opposition leaders of making fun of the Festival of Youth and the Anti-imperialist Court held in Caracas is to ingratiate themselves with the American Embassy, because the defense of the perpetrator of a great genocide [Bush] is well appreciated. Both events, characterized by the repudiation of U.S. imperialism--something they consider to be outdated--are part of the cause that is spreading around the world, which reveals hypocrites’ real faces. Venezuelan opposition leaders don’t want to see what others see. Even actress Jessica Lange warns the world that Bush is leading the U.S. toward fascism."
"Brownfield And Chávez’s Meeting"
Journalist Rafael Poleo highlighted in liberal daily tabloid El Nuevo País (8/22): "Last Thursday, Ambassador Brownfield showed up at Miraflores without a previous appointment. President Chávez did not dare refuse to meet him, despite the fact that the gringo’s action violated the most elemental protocol and that the Venezuelan Ambassador to Washington is not received by anyone in the U.S. administration.... Brownfield got to Miraflores with a Republican senator, Arlen Specter, representative of the oil interests, who has tried to maintain good relations with Chávez’ government. Specter represents an American group alarmed by the fact that Chávez has taken out American companies from the project to exploit gas in Paria. They think that the most convenient thing to do is exchange the DEA list of narco-chavistas with the presence of Exxon and Chevron in Delta. The list is a threat that could become real when Washington decides. By the way, DEA doesn’t need to be in Venezuela to get information about narco-chavismo."
"Are We Being Led To Another Falklands Islands War?"
Political analyst Luis García Mora explored in leading liberal daily El Nacional (8/21): "Why does Chávez decide to break with DEA, as a result of some military officers accused of drug trafficking and money laundering, with old and new denunciations? Some say that the motive is to ride the wave, to defend the military officers and win them over for his fight against Americans. What is being cooked? The civilian chavismo is concerned about the fact that the hegemony of the Venezuelan government heads toward the military area, with the current restructuring of the Defense Ministry and the increasing number of the popular military reserve. This concern is valid in the light of the acceleration of the confrontation between Venezuela and the United States, given the serious accusations drug trafficking and the trials Washington would have on six National Guard officers, whose visas would have been revoked. And with the American far-right putting pressure on Bush to act in an imprudent way…any hasty action on the part of the United States would have a bad ending. But this is the situation, only stopped by some sectors of the American Congress 'who consider that the stage is not set for a frontal strategy.’ Like what happened in the Southern Cone, when the Argentine military defending Latin American nationalism opened the way to the confrontation with the British, which led to the final catastrophe. Will Chávez be so crazy to do this? Are we being led to another Falklands Islands war?"
"The Trial Of George W. Bush"
Retired military officer Fernando Ochoa Antich criticized in conservative El Universal (8/18): "Hugo Chávez’s government’s foreign policy is adventurous and risky. It is based on one precept: Venezuela may keep a permanent rhetoric against the American imperialism as long as it doesn’t compromise U.S. vital interests. Those vital interests can be summarized in two: to keep the permanent oil supply and not to compromise American investments in Venezuela. Venezuela is not Cuba. Copying Fidel Castro, nowadays, is absurd. I made these comments due to the pantomime organized during the Festival of Youth and Students to try George W. Bush. Having the President of the United States as an object of derision with Hugo Chávez, José Vicente Rangel and Ricardo Alarcón as fundamental actors is simply unacceptable. I protest, in defense of the honor of Venezuela. It is not possible that this government continues to put the security of our country at risk."
"Evo, Hugo and Fidel"
Political analyst Orlando Viera-Blanco advised in conservative El Universal (8/18): "Just when our hemisphere firmly headed towards a steady recuperation, when Venezuela could have made the most of the oil boom, these three men appeal to the ideological primitivism, to the social upheaval, to a foolish and childish anti-imperialist rhetoric, a symbol of backwardness and underdevelopment. Evo, Chávez and Fidel, three factors of an authoritarian and hegemonic power, are currently misleading the whole hemisphere."
"Who Said 2030?"
Leading liberal daily El Nacional editorialized (8/17): "The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has decided that the year 2021 will not be the year when he will leave us without his guidance, his leadership and his benevolent policies, but we will count on him until 2030: it will no longer be the super celebration of the Carabobo Battle, but Bolívar’s resurrection in 2030, the year of the bicentennial of his death in Santa Marta. In other words, we, Venezuelans already have the way cleared and we should all forget about it, because the Head of State will concentrate on the national and international policy. We should recognize his sacrifice, his altruism, his good will, because by 2030 he will have been in power only 32 years and Fidel Castro, for instance, has already been in power for almost half a century. If we think about the great changes Cuba has had under the Revolution's regime, we can foresee the greatness that awaits us!"
Political analyst Pedro Penzini López expressed his opinion in leading liberal daily El Nacional (8/17): "The oil markets are at the mercy of the political stability in Venezuela, Nigeria and Iraq, as well as of potential terrorist acts. It is calculated that a reduction of 4% in the world oil supply could increase oil prices by 170%, which translates into more than $100. If Venezuela carries out an oil auto-embargo and cuts off the oil supply to the U.S. a global crisis would be created and the world would wonder who the real Mr. Danger is: Bush or Chávez."
"Is Chávez’s Confrontation With The U.S. In The Best Interest Of Venezuela?"
Attorney Braulio Jatar Alonso countered in business-oriented Reporte (8/17): "I don't share President Chávez’s confrontation with the U.S. administration. I simply consider that it is not in the best interests of Venezuela.... I don’t share, and neither do many Venezuelans, President Chávez’s inflammatory statements about Bush. We are convinced that such language instead of offending the President of the United States tarnishes the majesty of the Presidency of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. It is a contradiction that Chávez, with his efforts to improve our citizens’ living conditions, insists on leading the country to a conflict–-a verbal one, so far–-which goes against the interests of the nation, since a confrontation with the United States, as with any other country, only causes more problems to those in need. In the DEA case, Venezuelans would have liked to see President Chávez or government officials showing proof of the ‘irregular activities’ carried out by this American office. We agree with Ambassador Brownfield who said that collaboration between both nations was the logical thing to do."
Journalist Elizabeth Araujo assailed in afternoon liberal daily tabloid Tal Cual (8/16): "The World Festival of Youth and Students ended with an exemplary world trial of George W. Bush. The U.S. was declared guilty of all the evils against humankind over the last 200 years last Sunday. However, it is clear that the American Embassy in Venezuela is not responsible for the shameless lines of hungry countrymen at the doors of Miraflores asking for jobs, housing and food. And neither can Mr. Danger and his accomplice William Brownfield be accused keeping Caracas dirty or of the alarming number of homicides in the main cities of the country. Who is to be blamed for that?"
"U.S. Accusations Against The Government Of Venezuela"
Journalist Rafael Poleo emphasized in liberal daily tabloid El Nuevo País (8/17): "Chávez’s silence over U.S. accusations that his government supports drug trafficking indicates that the issue is being discussed under a blanket of secrecy, which is convenient for the United States and detrimental to Venezuelans."
"The Bolivarian Cycle"
Pro-government daily tabloid Diario VEA predicted (8/17): "President Chávez stated that we are living the Bolivarian cycle. By the year 2030, the Liberator’s oath on the Sacred Mount shall be fulfilled: to free the Homeland from all foreign oppression. Yesterday was the Spanish crown, today is American imperialism. The American imperialists have sowed division and backwardness in South America in a political and economic domination that goes back to more than one hundred years ago. They have instilled fear and intimidation through decades of armed intervention and political and economic aggressions. They threaten with its superpower military apparatus in order to perpetuate the submissiveness of our countries. The people of Bolívar do not fear American imperialism. The power of imperialism is based on its weapons of mass destruction and on the complicity and treason thanks to financial corruption. The power of the Bolivarian revolution is based on moral principles, on the ideology of independence and sovereignty of the peoples, on the fair rebellion of the peoples against neo-colonialism."
Foreign affairs expert Beatriz de Majo C. expressed anguish in leading liberal daily El Nacional (8/16): "The Venezuelan government's new decision to break relations of cooperation with the DEA is an excellent opportunity to have a new reason to confront the U.S. But in this confrontation, the ones affected are Venezuelan citizens. In our region, the activity of the DEA is more intense than in other parts of the hemisphere because more than 90% of the cocaine consumed in the developed world is grown and processed in the Andean region. It seems to be better for the Venezuelan government to mess up with the U.S. than to work on the health of our youth. In the case of the rupture with DEA, when we regret that decision it will be too late."
"Venezuela's Response To Ambassador Brownfield’s Accusations"
Journalist Rafael Poleo engendered in liberal daily tabloid El Nuevo País (8/16): "President Chávez’ response to the U.S. administration's accusations of his government being involved in drug trafficking will be a test of prudence and tact because his stakes are high. U.S. accusations of Venezuelan government participation in drug trafficking and in money laundering from drug trafficking creates a highly risky situation for the government of Venezuela."
"All Alone Against The World"
Political analyst Manuel Felipe Sierra criticized in leading liberal daily El Nacional (8/16): "The XVI World Festival of Youth and Students held in Caracas reflects the backwardness and the anachronism of the so-called Bolivarian revolution. The installation of an Anti-Imperialist Court by youngsters supporting minority parties that symbolically challenged the world's real economic and military powers could have been explained. But the fact that Chávez himself headed such an event does not make any sense and lacks of all rationality. Why doesn't Venezuela channel the accusations against Bush in world events that could cause a political effect? The resurrection of the festival and the installation of the Anti-Imperialist Court serve as an audience (since the local audience is declining) for Chávez’ impudent threats against Bush and against the world capitalism. It is unfortunate that this event cost Venezuelans $8.4 million."
"Imperialism As A Show"
Leading liberal daily El Nacional held (8/16): "We have suddenly taken a step backwards and have run into, according to our president, U.S. imperialism as the number one enemy against our lives and; therefore, the happiness of the hemisphere. Chávez, not taking care of his obligations as the president of Venezuela, dedicated himself to host the anti-imperialist show, to make young audiences laugh and to get a little bit of international publicity. The president of the Republic showed up at the last session of the Anti-Imperialist Court to play 'the witness of honor' in the trial on U.S. military interventions. He accused that country of 'provoking 200 years of aggression' against the peoples. Our Hamlet said: 'Either we demolish American imperialism or U.S. imperialism will destroy the world; that is the question.' A real show, indeed."
"DEA And Visas"
Leading liberal daily El Nacional maintained (8/13): "If the intention of the Venezuelan government was to get DEA out of Venezuela and to close its offices at Conacuid, the logical thing to do was proceed with all the possible precautions, through legal mechanisms that allow the country to authorize or not the activities of the that foreign anti-drug agency. The Venezuelan government has preferred to make a public scandal to stoke up the political confrontation with the United States: we will soon see the consequences of that unnecessary clash, which might stain other (National Guard) officers."
"More Accusations From The U.S."
Former Zulia governor Francisco Arias Cárdenas insisted in leading conservative daily El Universal (8/15): "Sectors of the U.S. administration have been making accusations against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. First, they insisted on our government's connection with the Colombian guerrillas. Now we have a campaign that adds a new element: the accusation that the Venezuelan government has a permissive attitude towards drug production and distribution. Empires are not what they are not only because they threaten but also because they act. It is up to us to prevent this situation and act in consequence."
Journalist Jurate Rosales proclaimed in liberal tabloid El Nuevo País (8/15): "Chávez has made an enemy of the U.S., the EU, the Church and DEA. By proclaiming his alliance with Tehran, Chávez has made an enemy of all Europe, because the European Union fears the fact that Iran could handle nuclear weapons, and Chávez offers Venezuelan uranium to that country. Either the U.S. or the EU support alone would be enough to sponsor an opposition decided to replace Chávez with another government in Venezuela, but the incredible thing is that this opposition does not even realize what is really going on. The Venezuelan opposition only seems to be thinking of winning or losing a post in the legislature."
"Why The United States?"
Sensationalist daily 2001 asserted (8/11): "A corrosive hatred against the United States, promoted by some political leaders, increasingly penetrates some social strata in Venezuela. Without a doubt, this sort of speech and strategy are mistaken and could backfire in the short run. Some aspects of U.S. foreign policy might be wrong, but that does not justify the animosity and the aversion being sowed in today’s Venezuela for political reasons. The purpose is to portray, with the worst of intentions and unspeakable ends, a distorted image of the reality of the United States. Besides, it is not fair to incite hatred against the U.S. for political reasons; a country that is not only our main commercial client and a traditional friend, but a nation that has always offered us its technological and scientific progress, from which all Latin America and the world have benefited. It is also a nation that has received millions of Latin Americans that have improved their lifestyles on American soil.... For that reason, and for other absurd things that are used against the United States; for that unnecessary, recalcitrant and futile hatred, we, Venezuelans, wonder: why the United States?... Does this hatred arise because there is justice in the U.S.; because that country works hard to improve the conditions in which its people live, so that they enjoy security, comfort and social welfare?"
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