“And this has happened despite the total hostility of the privately owned media: the two daily newspapers, Universal and Nacional as well as Gustavo Cisneros' TV channels.
CNN made no attempt to mask their crude support for the opposition.”
A Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez supporter holds a poster in front of the presidential palace Miraflores, in Caracas.

The poster reads: 'Chávez I am with you' 

Photo: AFP/Juan Barreto

   The poster reads: 'Chávez I am with you'

"That should be the national anthem," one taxi driver from a shanty town told Reuters news agency   [speaking of a pro Chávez song]   as he drove around an affluent area of Caracas.
"People round here do not know what it is like in the slums.   It is a bigger party than New Year's Eve."
      2006 Election results      BBC/Reuters      
February 6, 2006 Chavez announced a 15% increase in the minimum wage and a new model for Venezuela’s national health-care system, with US$449 million allocated to upgrade 43 hospitals.
Implementing a measure of the constitution that recognises housework as an economic activity, the government will also provide wages to 200,000 poor homemakers.
January 30, 2006 Chavez launched 12 new state-run Social Production Enterprises (EPS) in key industries, with the aim of substituting for the many products Venezuela currently imports.
This is a key part of overcoming Venezuela’s underdevelopment and achieving genuine sovereignty.
The EPS follow a new economic model oriented towards human need rather than private profits.
February 7, 2006 Chavez announced his government would provide $1 billion in funding to community planning councils.
These elected councils aim to greatly deepen participatory democracy by allowing people to directly control public policy.
      www.Venezuelanalysis.com      
The Rise of America's New Enemy
By John Pilger   www.truthout.org
10 November 2005
I was dropped at Paradiso, the last middle-class area before barrio La Vega, which spills into a ravine as if by the force of gravity.
Storms were forecast, and people were anxious, remembering the mudslides that took 20,000 lives.
"Why are you here?" asked the man sitting opposite me in the packed jeep-bus that chugged up the hill.
Like so many in Latin America, he appeared old, but wasn't.
Without waiting for my answer, he listed why he supported President Chavez: schools, clinics, affordable food, "our constitution, our democracy" and "for the first time, the oil money is going to us."
I asked him if he belonged to the MRV, Chavez’s party, "No, I've never been in a political party; I can only tell you how my life has been changed, as I never dreamt."
It is raw witness like this, which I have heard over and over again in Venezuela, that smashes the one-way mirror between the west and a continent that is rising.
By rising, I mean the phenomenon of millions of people stirring once again, "like lions after slumber / In un-vanquishable number", wrote the poet Shelley in The Mask of Anarchy.
This is not romantic; an epic is unfolding in Latin America that demands our attention beyond the stereotypes and clichés that diminish whole societies to their degree of exploitation and expendability.
To the man in the bus, and to Beatrice whose children are being immunized and taught history, art and music for the first time, and Celedonia, in her seventies, reading and writing for the first time, and Jose whose life was saved by a doctor in the middle of the night, the first doctor he had ever seen, Hugo Chavez is neither a "firebrand" nor an "autocrat" but a humanitarian and a democrat who commands almost two thirds of the popular vote, accredited by victories in no less than nine elections.
Fifth of Britain's voters that re-installed Blair
Compare that with the fifth of the British electorate that re-installed Blair, an authentic autocrat.
Chavez and the rise of popular social movements, from Colombia down to Argentina, represent bloodless, radical change across the continent, inspired by the great independence struggles that began with Simon Bolivar, born in Venezuela, who brought the ideas of the French Revolution to societies cowed by Spanish absolutism.
Bolivar, like Che Guevara in the 1960s and Chavez today, understood the new colonial master to the north.
"The USA," he said in 1819, "appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty."
At the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001, George W Bush announced the latest misery in the name of liberty in the form of a Free Trade Area of the Americas treaty.
This would allow the United States to impose its ideological "market", neo-liberalism, finally on all of Latin America.
It was the natural successor to Bill Clinton's North American Free Trade Agreement, which has turned Mexico into an American sweatshop. Bush boasted it would be law by 2005.
On 5 November, Bush arrived at the 2005 summit in Mar del Plata, Argentina, to be told his FTAA was not even on the agenda. Among the 34 heads of state were new, un-compliant faces and behind all of them were populations no longer willing to accept US-backed business tyrannies.
Never before have Latin American governments had to consult their people on pseudo-agreements of this kind; but now they must.
In Bolivia, in the past five years, social movements have got rid of governments and foreign corporations alike, such as the tentacular Bechtel, which sought to impose what people call total locura capitalista — total capitalist folly — the privatizing of almost everything, especially natural gas and water.
Following Pinochet's Chile, Bolivia was to be a neo-liberal laboratory.
The poorest of the poor were charged up to two-thirds of their pittance-income even for rain-water.
Standing in the bleak, freezing, cobble-stoned streets of El Alto, 14,000 feet up in the Andes, or sitting in the breeze-block homes of former miners and campesinos driven off their land, I have had political discussions of a kind seldom ignited in Britain and the US.
They are direct and eloquent.
"Why are we so poor," they say, "when our country is so rich? Why do governments lie to us and represent outside powers?"
They refer to 500 years of conquest as if it is a living presence, which it is, tracing a journey from the Spanish plunder of Cerro Rico, a hill of silver mined by indigenous slave labor and which underwrote the Spanish Empire for three centuries.
When the silver was gone, there was tin, and when the mines were privatized in the 1970s at the behest of the IMF, tin collapsed, along with 30,000 jobs.
Began destroying the coca crops, filling the prisons
When the coca leaf replaced it — in Bolivia, chewing it in curbs hunger — the Bolivian army, coerced by the US, began destroying the coca crops and filling the prisons.
In 2000, open rebellion burst upon the white business oligarchs and the American embassy whose fortress stands like an Andean Vatican in the centre of La Paz.
There was never anything like it, because it came from the majority Indian population "to protect our indigenous soul". Naked racism against indigenous peoples all over Latin America is the Spanish legacy.
They were despised or invisible, or curios for tourists: the women in their bowler hats and colorful skirts.
No more.
Led by visionaries like Oscar Olivera, the women in bowler hats and colorful skirts encircled and shut down the country's second city, Cochabamba, until their water was returned to public ownership.
Every year since, people have fought a water or gas war: essentially a war against privatization and poverty.
Having driven out President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in 2003, Bolivians voted in a referendum for real democracy.
Through the social movements they demanded a constituent assembly similar to that which founded Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, together with the rejection of the FTAA and all the other "free trade" agreements, the expulsion of the transnational water companies and a 50 per cent tax on the exploitation of all energy resources.
When the replacement president, Carlos Mesa, refused to implement the program he was forced to resign.
Next month, there will be presidential elections and the opposition Movement to Socialism (MAS) may well turn out the old order.
The leader is an indigenous former coca farmer, Evo Morales, whom the American ambassador has likened to Osama Bin Laden.
In fact, he is a social democrat who, for many of those who sealed off Cochabamba and marched down the mountain from El Alto, moderates too much.
"This is not going to be easy," Abel Mamani, the indigenous president of the El Alto Neighborhood Committees, told me.
"The elections won't be a solution even if we win. What we need to guarantee is the constituent assembly, from which we build a democracy based not on what the US wants, but on social justice."
The writer Pablo Solon, son of the great political muralist Walter Solon, said, "The story of Bolivia is the story of the government behind the government. The US can create a financial crisis; but really for them it is ideological; they say they will not accept another Chavez."
The people, however, will not accept another Washington quisling.
The lesson is Ecuador, where a helicopter saved Lucio Gutierrez as he fled the presidential palace last April.
Having won power in alliance with the indigenous Pachakutik movement, he was the "Ecuadorian Chavez", until he drowned in a corruption scandal.
For ordinary Latin Americans, corruption on high is no longer forgivable.
That is one of two reasons the Workers' Party government of Lula is barely marking time in Brazil; the other is the priority he has given to an IMF economic agenda, rather than his own people.
In Argentina, social movements saw off five pro-Washington presidents in 2001 and 2002.
Across the water in Uruguay, the Frente Amplio, socialist heirs to the Tupamaros, the guerrillas of the 1970s who fought one of the CIA's most vicious terror campaigns, formed a popular government last year.
Even in the State of Fear
The social movements are now a decisive force in every Latin American country — even in the state of fear that is the Colombia of Alvaro Uribe Velez, Bush's most loyal vassal.
Last month, indigenous movements marched through every one of Colombia's 32 provinces demanding an end to "an evil as great at the gun": neo-liberalism.
All over Latin America, Hugo Chavez is the modern Bolivar.
People admire his political imagination and his courage.
Only he has had the guts to describe the United States as a source of terrorism and Bush as Senior Peligro (Mr. Danger).
He is very different from Fidel Castro, whom he respects.
Venezuela is an extraordinarily open society with an unfettered opposition — that is rich and still powerful.
On the left, there are those who oppose the state, in principle, believe its reforms have reached their limit, and want power to flow directly from the community.
They say so vigorously, yet they support Chavez.
A fluent young anarchist, Marcel, showed me the clinic where the two Cuban doctors may have saved his girlfriend.
(In a barter arrangement, Venezuela gives Cuba oil in exchange for doctors).
At the entrance to every barrio there is a state supermarket, where everything from staple food to washing up liquid costs 40 per cent less than in commercial stores.
Latin America's Murdoch
Despite specious accusations that the government has instituted censorship, most of the media remains violently anti-Chavez: a large part of it in the hands of Gustavo Cisneros, Latin America's Murdoch, who backed the failed attempt to depose Chavez.
What is striking is the proliferation of lively community radio stations, which played a critical part in Chavez’s rescue in the coup of April 2002 by calling on people to march on Caracas.
While the world looks to Iran and Syria for the next Bush attack, Venezuelans know they may well be next.
On 17 March, the Washington Post reported that Feliz Rodriguez, "a former CIA operative well-connected to the Bush family" had taken part in the planning of the assassination of the President of Venezuela.
On 16 September, Chavez said, "I have evidence that there are plans to invade Venezuela.
"Furthermore, we have documentation: how many bombers will over-fly Venezuela on the day of the invasion . . . the US is carrying out maneuvers on Curacao Island.
"It is called Operation Balboa."
Since then, leaked internal Pentagon documents have identified Venezuela as a "post-Iraq threat" requiring "full spectrum" planning.
The old-young man in the jeep, Beatrice and her healthy children and Celedonia with her "new esteem", are indeed a threat —the threat of an alternative, decent world that some lament is no longer possible.
Well, it is, and it deserves our support.
War on Democracy.

Since 1945 the United States government US U.S. has attempted to overthrow 50 governments.
Poor Barrios - Urban areas in Spanish-speaking country

War on Democracy.

Since 1945 the United States government US U.S. has attempted to overthrow 50 governments.
War on Democracy.

Since 1945 the United States government US U.S. has attempted to overthrow 50 governments.
www.counterpunch.org     TARIQ ALI        The Importance of Hugo Chávez        August 2004
Some foreign correspondents in Caracas have convinced themselves that Chávez is an oppressive caudillo and they are desperate to translate their own fantasies into reality.
They provide no evidence of political prisoners, leave alone Guantanamo-style detentions or the removal of TV executives and newspaper editors (which happened without too much of a fuss in Blair's Britain)
[Firing of Daily Mirror Editor Piers Morgan through US directors who disapproved of his unfavourable stand on the Iraq war, and UK Labour Party demands.]
A few weeks ago in Caracas I had a lengthy discussion with Chávez ranging from Iraq to the most detailed minutiae of Venezuelan history and politics and the Bolivarian programme.
It became clear to me that what Chávez is attempting is nothing more or less than the creation of a radical, social-democracy in Venezuela that seeks to empower the lowest strata of society.
In these times of deregulation, privatisation and the Anglo-Saxon model of wealth subsuming politics, Chávez' aims are regarded as revolutionary, even though the measures proposed are no different to those of the post-war Attlee government in Britain.
Some of the oil-wealth is being spent to educate and heal the poor.
Just under a million children from the shanty-towns and the poorest villages now obtain a free education.
1.2 million illiterate adults have been taught to read and write.
Secondary education has been made available to 250,000 children whose social status excluded them from this privilege during the ancien regime.
Three new university campuses were functioning by 2003 and six more completed [in 2006].
As far as healthcare is concerned, the 10,000 Cuban doctors, who were sent to help the country, have transformed the situation in the poor districts, where 11,000 neighbourhood clinics have been established and the health budget has tripled.
Add to this the financial support provided to small businesses, the new homes being built for the poor, an Agrarian Reform Law that was enacted and pushed through despite the resistance, legal and violent, by the landlords.
By the end of last year 2,262,467 hectares has been distributed to 116,899 families.
The reasons for Chávez' popularity become obvious.
No previous regime had even noticed the plight of the poor.
Chávez as a black monkey
And one can't help but notice that it is not simply a division between the wealthy and the poor, but also one of skin-colour.
The Chavistas tend to be dark-skinned, reflecting their slave and native ancestry.
The opposition is light-skinned and some of its more disgusting supporters denounce Chávez as a black monkey.
A puppet show to this effect with a monkey playing Chávez was even organised at the US Embassy in Caracas.
But Colin Powell was not amused and the Ambassador was compelled to issue an apology.
Almost total UK and US press bias
The bizarre argument advanced in a hostile editorial in The Economist this week that all this was done to win votes is extraordinary.
The opposite is the case.
The coverage of Venezuela in The Economist and Financial Times has consisted of pro-oligarchy apologetics.
Rarely have reporters in the field responded so uncritically to the needs of their proprietors.
Chávez philosophy
The Bolivarians wanted power so that real reforms could be implemented.
All the oligarchs have to offer is more of the past and the removal of Chávez.
It is ridiculous to suggest that Venezuela is on the brink of a totalitarian tragedy.
It is the opposition that has attempted to take the country in that direction.
The Bolivarians have been incredibly restrained.
When I asked Chávez to explain his own philosophy, he replied:
'I don't believe in the dogmatic postulates of Marxist revolution.
I don't accept that we are living in a period of proletarian revolutions.
All that must be revised.
Reality is telling us that every day.
Are we aiming in Venezuela today for the abolition of private property or a classless society?
I don't think so.
But if I'm told that because of that reality you can't do anything to help the poor, the people who have made this country rich through their labour and never forget that some of it was slave labour, then I say 'We part company'.
I will never accept that there can be no redistribution of wealth in society.
Our upper classes don't even like paying taxes.
That's one reason they hate me.
We said 'You must pay your taxes'.
I believe it's better to die in battle, rather than hold aloft a very revolutionary and very pure banner, and do nothing.
That position often strikes me as very convenient, a good excuse.
Try and make your revolution, go into combat, advance a little, even if it's only a millimetre, in the right direction, instead of dreaming about utopias.'
And that's why he won.
Friday, 13 August, 2004
Analysis: Chávez at eye of storm
By Becky Branford
BBC News Online
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez
Look out! On 15 August I am going to hit [a home run] so hard that it will land in the gardens of the White House!
Hugo Chávez, speaking during Alo Presidente, 1 August
Every Sunday, the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez holds court on his live TV show, Alo Presidente (Hello President).
For an average of five hours at a time, Mr Chávez rants, jokes, advises and entertains - by turns politician, showman, baseball fan, balladeer, and propagandist.
His supporters — many from the slums outside the capital Caracas — turn on in their millions.
But for his detractors, it is Mr Chávez at his most vulgar and offensive — and if they get their way, this Sunday will be his last transmission.
In the latest battle of the war over Venezuela, Mr Chávez will face a national referendum on whether he should remain in power.
At the eye of the storm is Mr Chávez and — with his black and Indian ancestry, and provincial accent — the kind of Venezuela he represents, say analysts.
'Refined'
Edgardo Lander, sociology lecturer at Venezuelan Central University, says before Mr Chávez arrived on the scene, Venezuelan politics were "like an upper-class party in which everything was very refined and educated and cosmopolitan.
"All of a sudden these people from the outside come into the party — people who smell, who are Indian and black, who have no manners."
Venezuelan farmers walk in a field in which the word No has been carved
Chávez's base is mostly among Venezuela's poor
For years, power in Venezuela was concentrated in the hands of a mostly white, middle- and upper-class elite, who controlled the country's huge oil wealth — Venezuela is one of the world's largest oil producers.
In 1989, austerity measures imposed after an economic downturn, coupled with a two-party democratic system considered corrupt and cronyist, triggered street protests in Caracas brutally put down by military force.
At least 1,000 people are estimated to have died in what became known as the Caracazo.
Three years later, a group of dissident army officers attempted a military coup — among them a 38-year-old colonel, Hugo Chávez.
Blunder
The coup failed, but authorities decided to allow Mr Chávez a minute on TV to persuade his collaborators to surrender — and in doing so, made a spectacular blunder.
Mr Chávez admitted responsibility for the coup attempt and lamented the lives lost — but defended the attempt to overthrow an unpopular, languishing system.
Looking into Venezuelan homes across the land, Mr Chávez promised to give up his arms "por ahora" — "for now" — leaving lingering the implicit threat that he would be back.   In 60 seconds, he had become a household name.
Six years later, Mr Chávez did come back — this time through the front door, enjoying a backing of 56% in 1998 presidential elections.
The results shocked Venezuela's political classes — some even suggesting devastating floods shortly after Mr Chávez assumed power reflected the divine upset over his victory.
OPPOSITION TASK
A woman walks past a mural that reads Si — Yes — to ending Chávez's presidential term
To succeed in Sunday's referendum, the opposition needs:
A turnout of at least 25% of Venezuela's 14m eligible voters
More than the 3.7m votes Chávez received in the 2000 elections
More votes than Chávez's supporters
Mr Chávez's rewriting of the constitution, re-structuring of parliament, tendency to appoint loyalists in high office, authoritarianism and "communist" rhetoric further enraged his opponents — who also accuse him of using thuggery to maintain his hold on power.
Since his election, they have waged a tireless campaign — work stoppages, huge demonstrations, and, in April 2002, a short-lived coup — to see Mr Chávez out of office.
Small change
The vitriol directed at Mr Chávez belies the fact that his policies have in reality been moderate, according to Mr Lander.
"There has been no real redistribution of wealth, and land reform has been very timid," he says.
"There's been hardly any private property confiscated... and hardly any change in the tax structure, apart from in the attempt to collect taxes more.
There's been no real change but a really dramatic change in political culture — and this is seen as extremely threatening."
Julia Buxton is a Venezuela expert at Kingston University who has just returned to the country.
She agrees that Mr Chávez's initiatives — such as his "missiones", outreach programmes which aim to improve health and education in poor districts — have failed so far to have much impact on statistical indicators, but says they have led "to a tremendous sense of community".
Again, she says Mr Chávez's persona is central to his project.
"The amazing thing about the Chavista [pro-Chávez] movement is that they've got middle-class people in there as well as the working-class and marginal people," she told BBC News Online.
"But the only thing that's holding them all together is Chávez — and if he wasn't there all of that would fragment... [That makes] the whole of the government incredibly vulnerable."
Violence lurks
This vulnerability led one of the most outspoken members of the opposition — former President Carlos Andres Perez — recently to suggest that Mr Chávez should "die like a dog".
But Mike Gonzalez, a lecturer in Hispanic Studies at Glasgow University, says resorting to violence would be "incredibly dangerous" for the opposition.
Violence will allow us to remove him. That's the only way we have... [Chávez] must die like a dog, because he deserves it
Ex-President Carlos Andres Perez
Interview with Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional
"What would the impact of assassination be, in a Venezuela which has a long history of social eruption?
It could cause absolute chaos," he told BBC News Online.
"The opposition needs to defeat Chávez [politically] — an assassination would provoke a crisis of the most extraordinary proportions."
The opposition has its chance, this Sunday, to exact that political defeat — though analysts warn that whatever the outcome, Venezuela has a bumpy ride ahead.
www.cartercenter.org     US former President Jimmy Carter: Venezuela Election Trip Report    Aug 13-18, 2004
By Jimmy Carter 19 Aug 2004
After leaving Georgetown, I arrived in Caracas in the evening of 8/13 and was briefed by Ambassador Shapiro, Jennifer McCoy, Francisco Diez, Rachel Fowler, and other staff members of The Carter Center.
I gave them an assessment of my visit to Guyana, and they reported high tensions in Venezuela with the approach of the referendum revocatorio scheduled for 8/15.
The next morning I met with Organization of American States Secretary General Gaviria, with former presidents Raul AlfonsÍn and Eduardo Duhalde, both of Argentina, Belisario Betancur of Colombia, and Rodrigo Carazo of Costa Rica, and then our Carter Center staff to discuss our common approach to our monitoring duties.
Excluding the presidents, our group then met with President Chávez for about two hours.
He appeared quite confident but pledged to resign immediately if he should lose the referendum vote and said in that case he would rest for a week and then resume campaigning for re-election.
Toward the end of our meeting, I called on him to be gracious in victory, to make every effort to reunite the divided country, and to let us help in establishing a forum for dialogue between the government and opposition groups.
He did not respond directly but was very quiet while I spoke and then said he had always wanted the nation to be united.
Subsequently, he said he needed to spend more time with me and asked if we could have lunch together on Monday.
Last minute personnel changes
We then visited the National Electoral Council headquarters (CNE), where many of our questions were answered, including some about last minute personnel changes in the local polling places and election workers, and our access to all aspects of the voting procedures.
In general, we were satisfied.
We then met with military leaders, whose forces have always played a major role in elections.
The minister of defense finally agreed to abide by all CNE directives and to cancel the military's plan to examine all voter ID cards, which may be seen as intimidation.
Opposition and Press
Our next meeting was with opposition leaders, where we heard a litany of catastrophic predictions about cheating, intimidation, and actual violence planned by the government for election day.
We reported on the assurances we had received from CNE and the military, which answered most of their concerns.
Gaviria and I then had an overflow press conference, where we were able to answer many questions that had been raised about our freedom as observers and about rumored plans of the CNE and military.
Our last meetings of the day were with state-owned and privately-owned news media.
The latter group predicted that there would be violent attacks on their property and said that government military forces would not protect them.
I promised to share their concern with the minister of defense, and he honored my request to strengthen security.
Crowds in fine spirits
We were out on election morning and were amazed at the incredibly large turnout, with thousands of people waiting in line an hour before polls were scheduled to open.
Venezuela has a system of electronic voting (with a paper ballot backup) and voters' thumbprints are recorded electronically, transmitted by satellite, and compared almost instantaneously to prevent multiple voting.
A "No" vote supported Chávez, and a "Yes" vote called for his removal from office.
Starting was somewhat slow, but 99.5 percent of the voting machines were on the line by 10:30 a.m.
Some of the fingerprint operators did not report for duty, but this was not permitted to interfere with voting.
The great waiting crowds were in fine spirits, cheering loudly everywhere we showed up.
Voted as late as 3 a.m.
During the day, the opposition leaders presented to us and their supporters what turned out to be erroneous exit polling data that showed Chávez losing the vote by 20 points or more, and they also sent this information to their own people and to foreign news media.
However, the news media honored the CNE ruling against broadcasting any kind of alleged voting results domestically.   In the meantime, long voter lines remained intact past the 4 p.m. closing time, past an extended 8 p.m. closing time, and until midnight, when they finally closed.
A few people voted as late as 3 a.m.
At about 12:30 a.m., we and OAS leaders were invited to witness the disclosure of the first electronic tabulation, which showed "No" votes at 57 percent and "Yes" votes at 43 percent among the 6.6 million votes counted at that time (of 10.5 million expected to vote).
Gaviria and I decided to invite the private media owners and opposition leaders to my hotel suite to let them know about this and to tell them that this was compatible with our own quick count results.
The media owners and some of the opposition said they would accept our judgment while others were angry.
We urged them to check their own sample voting results and stated that we would obtain updated figures next morning before making a public declaration of our judgment.
We were in Venezuela to remain neutral, to observe the electoral system, and to make a careful and sound final assessment regarding whether the will of the people is expressed.
Chávez called me, and I urged him to wait on any claim of victory until after a CNE public announcement and to be generous and positive in his victory statement.
He promised to do so.
Legitimacy of the CNE returns
Finally, after three hours, we offered to the still irate opposition leaders our services in resolving any of their remaining doubts before we had to leave (after two more days).
Having insisted all during election day on a 20 point defeat for Chávez, their pollster (Súmate) admitted before leaving that their data now showed only a five point defeat and that quick count data were still being received.
Early the next morning, they reported that these results were reversed, with 55 percent supporting Chávez, but opposition leaders still were claiming massive fraud and a victory for their side.
Final voting results, including the centers with manual ballots, showed 59-41 in favor of Chávez, with his victory in 22 of the 24 states.
Gaviria and I had another press conference early in the afternoon on Monday to confirm the legitimacy of the CNE returns.   I called Secretary of State Colin Powell to report our authentication of results, and he promised to issue a statement from Washington endorsing our findings.
Show generosity
On Monday, we had supper with Chávez and found him eager to begin substantive dialogues with responsible opposition leaders who are willing to reciprocate.
We urged him to show generosity to Súmate and some others who are being accused of crimes going back to the coup against him and to ensure a balanced membership of CNE as local and state elections are planned late in September.   He was receptive to these suggestions and supported an additional audit of electronic paper ballot backups from the machines that would assuage any remaining doubters.
Although the country was peaceful, some opposition leaders were still in anguish, as indicated by Tuesday morning newspaper editorial headlines, "Catástrofe," "El Fraude Permanente," and "Serias Dudas."
After meeting with Súmate and other opposition representatives who claimed there were differences between paper ballot backups and electronically transmitted results, we agreed to have a second audit process to double check the correlation.
We made it clear to them and to the public that this did not imply any doubt by The Carter Center or OAS regarding the integrity of the electoral process or the accuracy of the reported results.
After making these arrangements, we met with Catholic bishops and then had a final supper with a group of about 20 empresarios.
Jennifer McCoy and Rachel Fowler stayed in Caracas to oversee the second audit of the machines that we will do with the OAS and the CNE.
"The Scornful Foreigner"
The Origins of Mr. Danger
By Dick J. Reavis   www.counterpunch.org
November 7, 2005
In references to the head of state, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez sometimes speaks of "Mr. Danger" instead of George W. Bush.
New York Times South American correspondent Juan Forero in an October story from Caracas mentioned that Chávez has bestowed that nickname — which makes sense on its face — but he didn't explain what it means to people in the Spanish-speaking world.
Neither, it seems, did the American journalists who accompanied President Bush to the recent summit in Mar de Plata.
Could it be that they don't know?


Mr. Danger is a long-standing figure in Venezuelan life, a character in a 1929 work, many times republished, by the novelist Rómulo Gallegos, who was also Venezuela's first freely-elected president, brought down in a U.S.-backed 1948 military coup, ten months after he took office.
Gallegos introduced Mr. Danger in Doña Bárbara, a work that has been required reading in Venezuela's secondary schools for forty years, ever since the return of electoral rule.
In Gallegos' novel, Danger is the exemplar of a type of American once common in rural Venezuela.
A man of reddish complexion and deep blue eyes, he shows up in the ranch country of Venezuela's tropical plains, where he kills alligators and tigers for their skins.
Before long, he carries out a series of schemes to "conquer badly defended lands," Gallegos wrote.
In furtherance of his aims, Danger takes part in the murder and burial of an aged cattleman and his mount, but "for him, the scornful foreigner," Gallegos noted, "there wasn't much difference between Apolinar and the horse who accompanied him in his grave."
Mr. Danger afterwards usurps the property of a declassed landowner and claims custody of the man's pubescent daughter, until a neighboring rancher-whom Danger had also defrauded — rescues both, Gallegos writes, "to liberate them from the humiliating tutelage of the foreigner."
Gallegos died in 1969 and was buried with honors in Venezuela.
Though he did not witness American killing, usurpation or tutelage in Iraq, president Chávez, most Venezuelans and millions of Latin Americans are today convinced that the novelist knew George Bush very well.
www.guardian.co.uk      A Level of Grassroots Participation our Politicians can only Dream      August 13, 2004
by Selma James
Increasing numbers of people, especially the young, seem disconnected from an electoral process which, they feel, does not represent them.
This is part of a general cynicism about every aspect of public life.
Venezuela has many problems, but this is not one of them.
Its big trouble — but also its great possibility — is that it has oil; it is the fifth largest exporter.
The US depends on it and thus wants control over it.
But the Venezuelan government needs the oil revenue, which US multinationals (among others) siphoned off for decades, for its efforts to abolish poverty.
Hugo Chávez was elected to do just that in 1998, despite almost all of the media campaigning against him.
People want to represent themselves
Participation in politics especially at the grassroots has skyrocketed.
A new constitution was passed with more than 70% of the vote, and there have been several elections to ratify various aspects of the government's program.
Even government opponents who had organized a coup in 2002 (it failed) have now resorted to the ballot, collecting 2.4 million signatures — many of them suspect — to trigger a referendum against President Chávez, which will be held on Sunday.
For Venezuela's participatory democracy, which works from the bottom up, the ballot is only a first step.
People represent themselves rather than wait to be represented by others, traditionally of a higher class and lighter skin.
Working-class sectors, usually the least active, are now centrally involved.
Chávez has based himself on this pueblo protagónico — the grassroots as protagonists.
He knows that the changes he was elected to make can only be achieved with, and protected by, popular participation.
Women descended from the hills to save their President
Chávez has understood the potential power of women as primary carers.
Four months of continuous lobbying got women the constitution they wanted.
Among its anti-sexist, anti-racist provisions, it recognizes women's unwaged caring work as economically productive, entitling housewives to social security.
No surprise then that in 2002 women of African and indigenous descent led the millions who descended from the hills to reverse the coup (by a mainly white elite and the CIA), thereby saving their constitution, their president, their democracy, their revolution.
In a country where 65% of households are headed by women, it is they who are the majority in government education and health campaigns: who are users as well as those who nurse, train and educate.
Again, women are the majority in the land, water and health committees which sort out how the millions of people who built homes on squatted land can be given ownership, how water supplies are to be improved, and what health care is needed.
You can't drink oil
Despite oil, 80% of Venezuelan people are poor, and the Women's Development Bank (Banmujer) is needed to move the bottom up.
Unlike other micro-credit banks, such as the Grameen in Bangladesh, its interest rates are government-subsidized.
Banmujer, "the different bank", is based on developing cooperation among women.
Credits can only be obtained if women get together to work out a project which is both viable and what the local community wants and needs.
As Banmujer president Nora Castañeda explains: "We are building an economy at the service of human beings, not human beings at the service of the economy.
And since 70% of the world's poor are women, women must be central to economic change to eliminate poverty."
In this oil-producing country 65% of basic food is imported.
President Chávez has placed much emphasis on regenerating agriculture and repopulating the countryside, so that Venezuelans can feed themselves and are no longer dependent on imports or vulnerable to blockades which could starve them out.
After all, you can't drink oil.
Wider expression of the popular will
Most importantly, the oil revenue is increasingly used for social programs as well as agriculture: to enable change in the lives of the most who have least.
People feel that the oil industry, nationalized decades ago, is finally theirs.
The oil workers have created committees to work out how the industry is to be run and for whose benefit, even what to do about the pollution their product causes.
The government has turned the referendum, regarded by Venezuelans as an imperialist attempt to oust Chávez, into an even wider expression of the popular will.
The small electoral squads, again mainly women who know the community and whom the community knows, are checking identity cards to weed out the names of those who have died or are under age, and register all who are entitled to vote, so that this time there will be little opportunity for electoral fraud.
The turnout is expected to be 85%. Some, especially the well-off, see the political engagement of the whole population as a threat to the status quo.
Exactly. But since, increasingly, people find representative government doesn't represent them, it may be the wave of the present.
Selma James coordinates the Global Women's Strike; she will be one of the international observers at Sunday's Venezuelan referendum
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004
December 8, 2005
The Venezuelan Election
Chavez Wins, Bush Loses (Again)!     Now What?
By JAMES PETRAS
Paraguaipoa
Zulia, Venezuela
T he Venezuelan congressional elections of December 4, 2005 mark a turning point in domestic politics and US-Venezuelan relations. President Chavez's party, the Movement of the Fifth Republic, won approximately 68 per cent of the congressional seats and with other pro-government parties, elected all the representatives.
The turnout for the congressional elections without a presidential campaign was 25 per cent.
The pro-Chavez percentage exceeds the pluralities secured in previous congressional elections in 1998 (11.24 per cent) and 2000 (17 per cent).
If we compare the voter turnout with the most recent election, which included the opposition (the August 2005 municipal elections), the abstention campaign accounted for only a 6 per cent increase in citizens who chose not to vote (69 percent to 75 percent).
The claim that the low turnout was a result of the US backed opposition's boycott is clearly false.
The argument that the level of turnout calls into question the legitimacy of the elections would, if applied to any US "off-year" election, de-legitimize many congressional, municipal and gubernatorial elections.
One of the most striking aspects of the election was the highly polarized voter participation: In the elite and upper middle class neighborhoods voter turnout was below 10 per cent, while in the numerous popular neighborhoods the BBC reported lines waiting to cast their ballots.
Sinamaica
Expropriation of latifundios (large estates) and of bankrupt and closed factories.
With close to a majority of the poor voting and over 90 per cent voting for Chavez' party, and electing an all Chavez legislature, the way is open for new, more progressive legislation, without the obstructionist tactics of a virulent opposition.
This should lead to measures accelerating the expropriation of latifundios (large estates) and of bankrupt and closed factories as well as new large-scale social and infrastructure investments.
It is also possible a new constitutional amendment will allow for a third term for President Chavez.
The Bush Administration (with Democratic Congressional backing) has engaged in desperado 'casino' politics, namely an 'all or nothing' approach, instead of a gradualist incremental opposition.
Washington pushed its client trade union confederation (CTV) ,with financial support and "advice" from the AFL-CIO, into a general strike in 2001.
This failed and eventually led to the formation of a new confederation reducing the CTV to an impotent.
In April 2002 the US backed a military coup, which was defeated in 47 hours by a mass popular uprising backed by constitutionalist military officers, resulting in the dismissal of hundreds of pro-US military officials.
From December 2002 to February 2003, US-backed officials and their entourage in the state petroleum company, PDVS, organized a lockout, temporarily paralyzing the economy.
Chávez
Fan Taxi
Major shift in petroleum revenue allocation from the upper class to the poor.
Loyalist workers and engineers backed by the government broke the lockout and all the senior officials and employees engaged in the lockout were fired, setting in motion a major shift in petroleum revenue allocation from the upper class to the poor.
Likewise the US poured millions via the NED into a non-governmental organization, SUMATE, to fund a referendum to recall Chavez in 2004.
The referendum was defeated by a 16-point margin (58 per cent to 42 per cent) leading to demoralization, apathy and depoliticizing of the voter constituency of the right.
In the recent congressional campaign — polls indicated another massive electoral defeat — Washington pressured its NGO and political clients to withdraw from the ballot and call for an abstention, with the above-mentioned result: total loss of any institutional sphere of influence, further isolation of its political constituency and the inevitable turn of the business class toward direct negotiations with the Chavez congress-people instead of via the opposition.
In each confrontation, Washington burned a strategic client group in its bid to grab state power in the shortest time. Washington rejected a gradualist insider political strategy of accumulating forces over time, modifying legislation through negotiations, exploring real or imagined grievances and tempering the demagogic rhetoric embedded in its foreign policy.
The basic question is: why did Washington persist in its go-for-broke policies despite a sequence of defeats?
Chávez
Campaign posters
behind him
Can't fight terror with terror
Between 2001-2002, the ideologues of multiple wars, under the guise of anti-terrorism and the slogan "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists" (Bush, September 23, 2001), were determined to make short shrift of the Chavez regime.
The reason was that President Chavez was one of the very few non-communist regimes to oppose the US war against Afghanistan and condemn US terror (Chavez stated "You can't fight terror with terror.").
Given that mad-dog fanatics controlled power in Washington as early as October 2001, a US State Department official (Grossman) threatened Chavez that: "He and future generations (of Venezuelans) would pay" for opposing US aggression.
Along with US Ambassador Charles Shapiro, the neo-conservatives, especially the Cuban-Americans in the State Department who designed Latin American policies, overestimated their influence in the Venezuelan military and exaggerated the power of the mass media and the business elite in shaping the outcome of a military coup.
The precipitate action was due to the upcoming invasion of Iraq and the obsessive need to silence foreign governmental opposition given the mass opposition in the US and Europe to a war against Iraq.
Maracaibo
Increased flow of oil from Venezuela
The second factor which influenced Washington's pursuit of go-for-broke politics, at the time of the lockout, was the pending oil crisis with the invasion of Iraq and Chavez' ties with Iraq and Iran via its leadership of OPEC.
Having pulled its "military levers" without success, Washington played its oil card to weaken or break OPEC and thus deter any price increases and also to guarantee an increased flow of oil from Venezuela.
One of the immediate measures imposed by the 47-hour coup-makers had been to withdraw Venezuela from OPEC.
The oil lockout executives would likely have followed suit if they had been able to overthrow the Chavez government.
Washington's policy of immediate confrontation also followed from Chavez' growing relations with Cuba.
The virulent anti-Cuba lobby and its State Department representatives, Otto Reich and Roger Noriega, were intent on destroying Cuba's strategic ally in Venezuela, no matter what the risk to US clients in Venezuela, just as the pro-Israel zealots in the Pentagon pushed the war with Iraq and are prepared to offer US support for an Israeli attack on Iran — no matter what the cost to US backed Arab clients in the Middle East.
The third factor that shaped Bush's policy was Chavez' opposition to the Latin American Free Trade Area of the Americas and the growing support in Latin America for his proposed Bolivarian Latin American integration alliance (ALBA).
Beirut, Lebanon
The Washington ultras viewed Latin America as infected by a series of "left of center" regimes "bought" or influenced by Venezuelan oil offers and petroleum financing, undermining US hegemony.
In reality none of the regimes in question (Lula in Brazil, Kitchner in Argentina, Vazquez in Uruguay, etc) was in any way pursuing Chavez domestic welfare policies or his critical position on US imperialism.
Given the US failures to consolidate rule in Iraq or Afghanistan, and US defeats in the UN and OAS in isolating Cuba, the ultras were desperate for a political victory.
So they pursued their strategy of confrontatiohn with Venezuela, each time with less institutional and political support, in a losing game to compensate for previous defeats.
The weaker their client forces, the shriller the rhetoric, the less resonance in Venezuela, Latin America and even in the US Congress — thanks to Chavez' policy of offering subsidized oil to low-income consumers in the US.
What will the old parties, which boycotted the elections, do now that they excluded themselves from Congress?
The two major parties, the Democratic Action (AD) and Social Christians (COPEI), relied heavily on party patronage, government jobs to secure activists and voters.
Without it the party apparatus possibly could survive on handouts from the phony US NGOs (The Democratic and Republican Institutes) but without jobs and perks the loyalists will look elsewhere and perhaps hook onto some of the more conservative pro-Chavez political groups or retire from politics or form a new party.
The negro
Chavez was absolutely right when he said these elections spelled the burial of the traditional parties as viable contenders for electoral power.
Some but not most of the political supporters of the traditional parties are not prepared nor have the stomach for bomb throwing and street fighting.
However some of the other groups like the pseudo-populist Justice First Party and the extremists around the Bush-backed NED-financed NGO, SUMATE, may engage in some sort of street violence.
There is no doubt that the Venezuelan right is incapable of replicating the CIA-Soros "color revolutions" in the Caucasus for several reasons.
First the Chavez regime has a mass active and engaged popular base, which dominates the street action.
Secondly there is no issue around which the right can mobilize and unify a popular movement.
The vast welfare programs are popular, the economy is growing, living standards are rising, corruption is not out of control and there is complete freedom of assembly, press and speech.
The conservative business associations increasingly are prospering from government contracts and depend on contacts with the victorious party in power to consummate deals.
They are not likely to make a risky bet with defeated NGOs and parties with a history of failed adventurous politics when it would be easier to make money now, notwithstanding their hyperventilating against "the negro" at their private cocktail parties.
That leaves the opposition two options.
The pragmatists, especially among the business elite, will probably look to opening a dialogue via the conservative Archbishop of Caracas.
With the more moderate wing of the Chavez government (the economic and finance ministries) and Congress to gain influence and limit changes from "within".
The second option is a turn to violent extra-parliamentary action and recruitment of some military or intelligence officials of ambiguous loyalties.
We can expect a few bombings as took place on Election Day — blowing up of an oil pipeline and a stick of dynamite being tossed next to a Caracas military base.
Neither of these had major repercussions.
An upgrading of community vigilance committees and counter-terrorist operations should be able to handle these extremists, despite their obvious CIA backing.
Clearly Washington's strategy has led to the decommissioning of the most significant levers of power, which Washington possessed in Venezuelan society.
What remain are the private mass media, which can still mount a formidable anti-government, pro-US propaganda campaign. The US can be counted on to strengthen and perhaps radicalize its message, in hopes of provoking a crackdown, under the bizarre belief that the "worse the better".
Already Thomas Shannon, the US Undersecretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs, responded to the sweeping Chavez electoral victory by calling it "a step toward totalitarianism", a judgment rejected by every country in North and South America, the United Nations and an army of European Union electoral observers.
 
Greater than Colombia's trade with the US
US propagandists have failed to recognize the fact that extremism has led to virtual total isolation, even among the US's most loyal clients in the region.
Washington may try to pressure Colombia and its President Uribe to create border conflicts, but that is not going to work either.
Venezuelan-Colombian trade is growing rapidly and amounts to $3 billion dollars, greater than Colombia's trade with the US.
Moreover, Venezuela is Colombia's most important market for manufactured goods (accounting for 25 per cent of the total).
With a major billion dollar Venezuelan gas and petrol pipeline passing through Colombia, there is hardly a rancher, industrialist or banker supporting a US-backed Colombian foray into Venezuela.
Washington has two other levers — the NGOs and the clandestine terrorists who can attempt to sow chaos and destruction in order to provoke a coup or, at least, street demonstrations.
There are two problems which undermine the effectiveness of the NGOs like SUMATE.
Their dependence on US financing and lack of an independent standing has deflated their legitimacy among the lower middle class, shopkeepers, professionals and conservative sectors of public employees.
Moreover, their numerous failed campaigns and the loss of institutional power has demoralized those who used to turn out for demonstrations.
That leaves Washington with the clandestine armed terrorists, who have some support among a reduced sector of the elite in the form of safe houses, access to weapons and money.
Without totally disregarding their capacity to set off bombs, terrorism is likely to boomerang — strengthen popular demands for greater security measures — a "mano duro".
Direct US intervention
That leaves us with a possible direct US intervention.
While the ultras in Washington are theoretically capable of such a move, practically they lack regional allies, their internal political assets are at their weakest point and the internal political weakness of the Bush Administration and the increasingly anti-war US public (and even some sectors of Congress) preclude a new invasion, involving a prolonged war against a government backed by millions of its citizens, with and without arms.
However given the combined AON outlook and the extremism in Washington nothing can be absolutely excluded.
With the demise of the traditional parties, political pluralism, debate and political competition will be expressed elsewhere.
There are numerous political parties and tendencies who are "pro-Chavez" including a dozen parties, which can be classified as social democratic, social liberal, nationalist and a variety of Marxist groups.
Likewise in the agrarian and industrial sectors and within the social movements and trade unions, there are divisions and competition between reformers, centrists and revolutionaries.
Busy shopping mall
Caracas
Within Congress and the ministries these tendencies argue, debate, propose and modify policies.
And Chavez himself has a 'reformist' pragmatic and revolutionary side to his discourse and practice.
In other words, pluralistic democracy is alive and well.
The big questions between market and state, private and public ownership, landowners and peasants, self-managed factories and private monopolies, and foreign and domestic capital will be taken up and resolved within the multi-tendency Chavista umbrella.
The moderate or conservative wing of Chavismo is concerned about legitimacy despite the clean and certified elections.
They are likely to seek and reach out to the less extreme personalities, church notables and business leaders in order to encourage a new "reasonable" political opposition, in order to countermand the US screeds amplified by the local media about creeping totalitarianism.
The pragmatists will look toward maintaining fiscal discipline, limiting social spending and promoting joint public-private "partnerships".
The centrist groups and parties will seek to consolidate political power within the institutions and their electorate by promoting piecemeal reforms, increasing social spending and distributing big infrastructure contracts to the progressive bourgeoisie.
Left groups
The left groups, organized mainly in the new class-oriented trade unions, neighborhood and community based cooperatives, peasant social movements and, especially, in the worker self-managed enterprises and movements, are pushing for a deepening of the socialization process and greater investment in local productive enterprises to reduce the 50 per cent of the labor force which remains unemployed or underemployed.
At the same time they attack the top-down selection of electoral candidates.
Conflicts are likely to emerge between the mass activists in the neighborhoods and trade unions and certain opportunist and corrupt municipal and provincial officials, especially in the allocation of funds and the style of leadership.
Chavez stands with the left and the mass movements but he does not discount the pragmatists who decide macro-economic policy nor the centrists who are attempting to institutionalize political power.
Yet it is Chavez who synthesizes the different positions, educates the public and provides the charismatic leadership, which unifies and moves the whole movement forward.
It is Chavez who denounces US imperialism and meets with Iranian leaders, and it is Chavez who signs economic agreements with Colombia's neo-liberal Uribe and praises Brazil's corruption-tainted, Wall Street cover boy, Lula Da Silva.
Chavez calls for a wide-ranging debate on his vision of 21st century socialism, sells subsidized oil to poor countries and people (even in the US) and approves of new petrol exploitation contracts with the multinational petroleum giants.
Washington's support for the self-immolation of the Venezuelan congressional opposition opens the door for greater advances in legislation promoting jobs, public ownership, agrarian reform, progressive labor legislation and the building of bridges toward greater Latin American integration.
The loss of US levers of power presents a great opportunity for reformists and revolutionaries to seize the historical moment and demonstrate their capacity not only to defeat the empire but to build an democratic, just and egalitarian socialist society in which the mass of the population is engaged in legislation, not just voting for politicians who may or may not defend their best interests.


It's time to vote
 
 
Embassy San Salvador, El Salvador
 
  Embassy Havana, Cuba
Economic Growth in Venezuela Continues With 9.8% for 3rd Quarter
Friday, Nov 18, 2005
By: Venezuelanalysis.com
Caracas, Venezuela, November 18, 2005—Economic growth for the 3rd quarter of 2005 reached 9.8% in Venezuela, relative to the same quarter the previous year, making this the 9th consecutive quarter in which Venezuela’s GDP has grown, according to Venezuela's Central Bank, which released the figures yesterday.   The private sector, with a growth rate of 11.1%, led the boom, with the public sector reaching 5.4% growth in the 3rd quarter.
Similarly, growth in Venezuela’s non-oil sector led with 10.4% growth over the country’s oil sector, which expanded by 4.2%.   Even within the oil sector, private sector growth outpaced that of the public sector, with 9.6% to 2.8%, respectively.
In the non-oil sector, the economic activities that grew the most were manufacturing (9.3%), commerce and repair services (18.1%), construction (18.4%), and general government services (7.3%).  Economic growth in Venezuela during the Chavez presidency has varied greatly, with the economy shrinking by 6% in 1999, Chavez’s first year in office, largely due to low oil revenues.   It then grew by 3.7% and 3.4% in 2000 and 2001.   With the on-set of political polarization, politically motivated strikes, the 2002 coup attempt, and the two month shut-down of the country’s all-important oil industry in late 2002, however, the economy shrank by 8.9% in 2002 and by 7.7% in 2003.   It made a significant recovery in 2004, growing by 17.9% in 2004, one of the largest economic growth figures in the world for that year.   For all of 2005 the economy is expected to grow another 10%.   So far, it has grown by 9.1% during the first three quarters of 2005, relative to the first three quarters of 2004
The Imperial President and the Bolivarian Democrat
Bush vs. Chavez
Monday, Nov 14, 2005

By: Roger Burbach
Bush’s woes just keep piling up on him.   The summit of hemispheric leaders he attended in Argentina was a total embarrassment, revealing the emperor has no clothes.   Bush did manage to avoid shaking hands with his main adversary at the summit, Hugo Chavez.   But the president of Venezuela stole the show, drawing 35,000 to hear him speak at a packed stadium.   In Bush’s only comment on the massive demonstrations against his stay in Argentina, he lamely joked with the country’s president, Nestor Kirchner, “It's particularly not easy to host, perhaps, me."
Declaring “I will of course be polite” in the presence of Chavez, Bush waited until he flew off to Brazil to levy a savage attack on the leader of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela: "Ensuring social justice for the Americas requires choosing between two competing visions," he proclaimed at a banquet.   "One offers a vision of hope.   It is founded on representative government, integration in the world community, and a faith in the transformative power of freedom in individual lives…the other seeks to roll back the democratic progress...by playing to fear, pitting neighbor against neighbor, and blaming others for their own failures to provide for their people."
This Orwellian declaration upended the realities of Chavez’s Venezuela and Bush’s America.   Elected to the presidency in 1998, Chavez received 56 percent of the vote, while as the world knows Bush in the 2000 elections lost the popular vote to his Democratic opponent.
During Chavez’ seven years in office, Venezuela has proved to be the most democratic government in the recent history of the Americas.   Eight elections or referendums have taken place, including the election of a constituent assembly to draft a new Bolivarian constitution that established the principles for a participatory democracy.   In each instance of voting, fifty-six to sixty percent of the participants have supported Chavez or his initiatives, including his reelection as president under the new constitution in 2000.   Bush it should be noted in his reelection in 2004 received only 51% of the votes, the lowest for an incumbent since Woodrow Wilson in 1916.   No international observers have uncovered fraud in any of the Venezuelan balloting, while in the United States there are still serious questions about the fairness and integrity of the 2000 and 2004 elections.
The Bush administration’s most ignominious assault on the new democratic spirit in Venezuela occurred with a coup attempt in April 2002.   After meeting with the coup conspirators in Washington for months before hand, the United States was the first and only government in the hemisphere to recognize the “golpistas” headed by Pedro Carmona, the president of the Venezuelan business association.   Chavez was restored to power in 48 hours, thanks to a massive popular demonstration combined with military support, principally among junior officers and common soldiers.
As in the lead up to the Iraqi war, the US media, including the liberal press, proved to be a conveyor belt for the Bush line on Chavez.   While the coup was in progress the New York Times editorialized: “Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator.”   The Times, also echoing the position of the Venezuelan elites, insisted that Chavez was a “demagogue.”
Demagoguery is apparently a label imposed on any leader who attempts to mobilize and improve the lot of the popular classes at the expense of the wealthy.   In a country of 25 million, illiteracy has been virtually eliminated as 1.4 million learned to read and write during the early years of Chavez’ tenure.   Three million adult Venezuelans previously outside the education system due to poverty enrolled in schooling programs.
When Chavez took office 80 percent of the population was largely excluded from the benefits of an oil rich economy.   Few had access to even minimal health care.   Today, thanks in large part to an “oil for doctors” program that has brought 20,000 Cuban doctors to Venezuela, seventy percent of the population enjoys access to free health care.   Malnutrition and hunger have been eliminated as three-fifths of the population now receives subsidized food via cooperatives, special food programs and government distribution centers.
As to Bush’s allegation that Chavez is pitting “neighbor against neighbor,” the President of Venezuela proudly points to his efforts to foment cooperation in the hemisphere while opposing “the frightening neo-liberal globalization” embodied in Bush’s call for a Free Trade Area of the Americas.   Chavez in August launched PetroCaribe, a program providing Venezuelan oil to the countries of the Caribbean at a 40 percent discount with long term loans at 1 percent interest.   In opposition to Bush’s neo-liberal agenda, Chavez is calling for the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas that would include political as well as economic integration for South and Latin America.
The ultimate hypocrisy in Bush’s proclamation that he stands for improved international relations while Chavez opposes “freedom in individual lives” came at Bush’s last stop in Panama.   There in an effort to rebuff international criticism of the secret U.S. prison system abroad used to detain and torture alleged terrorism suspects, Bush stated he would continue to "aggressively pursue" terror suspects and insisted that "any activity we conduct" is “lawful.”   Small wonder Chavez labels the Bush regime a “terrorist administration” that is a “threat to humanity.”
Roger Burbach is director of the Center for the Study of the Americas based in Berkeley, CA.   His most recent books are “The Pinochet Affair: State Terrorism and Global Justice,” and “Imperial Overstretch: George W. Bush and the Hubris of Empire” (co-authored with Jim Tarbell).
Mexico, Venezuela, and the U.S.
Running Dog
Saturday, Nov 19, 2005
By: Fred Rosen — Miami Herald Mexico Ed.
How will the mutual umbrage of Vicente Fox and Hugo Chávez play itself out?   Chávez’s friends, the presidents of the nations of the Southern Cone, are urging reconciliation.   The unity of the Americas, they have said in different ways, is a goal they share with the Venezuelan leader, and too important to be torn apart by name-calling.   Fox’s friends, the most important of whom have Washington addresses, are happy to let the conflict brew for a while, all the better to “isolate” the intemperate Venezuelan.   Chávez himself, perhaps the cleverest politician of the lot (and a high-stakes gambler, awash, for the time being, in oil money), knows that “isolation” can take numerous forms, some of which might leave Mexico on the outside looking in.
Shortly after the failure of last month’s Summit of the Americas to chart a clear course toward the passage of the U.S.-proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), Fox attacked the five South American presidents who blocked the proposal.   “We have some presidents,” he said, “fortunately a minority, who blame other countries for all their problems,” a clear reference to the present and imminent members of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) who have called for a “symmetrical” free-trade agreement that would not, for now, include the United States.   Pretty mild criticism, but personal nonetheless.
He then upped the ante by attacking Argentine President Néstor Kirchner for not keeping anti-FTAA street demonstrations under control at the Summit’s site, Mar del Plata, Argentina.   Kirchner, he told the press, “was more interested in complying with Argentine public opinion than with effectively conducting a successful summit in terms of hemispheric integration.”
Kirchner struck back, accusing Fox of “head bowing” to the Bush administration.   This was stronger stuff, and a bit more personal.   Fox then switched gears and went after the anti-FTAA, Argentine soccer idol Diego Maradona (see last week’s column).   This was stronger, more personal, and a bit like having an Argentine come to Mexico to blast the virility of Pancho Villa.   Not a smart move.
That’s when Chávez, a big sports fan, struck back.   “How sad,” he told the viewers of his weekly chat with Venezuela’s popular classes, Alo Presidente, “that the president of a people like the people of Mexico [a nod to Villa’s virility] lets himself become the cachorro of the empire.”   Fox demanded an immediate apology, Chávez refused, ambassadors were pulled and here we are.
I leave the word cachorro in Spanish because it is subject to competing translations.   The English-language press, firmly backed by all the Spanish-English dictionaries, goes with “puppy.”   Nothing wrong with that except that it loses the fine sense of insider irony and political association that Chávez’s remark contains.   I’ll go with “running dog.”
Those of you who remember the late Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung only for his brutal sweeping of all suffering humanity into his version of the ineluctable logic of history may not remember that Chairman Mao also had a way with words, one of which was zougou, “running dog.”   My online English dictionary defines running dog thus: “noun: A servile follower; lackey; from Chinese zougou, from zou (running) + gou (dog), apparently as an allusion to a dog running to follow his or her master's commands.”
Back in the days of the Chairman’s outsized global influence, the term zougou was used to characterize his enemies, as well as the enemies of the Revolution.   It was always translated as “running dog” in English but simply cachorro in Spanish.   Over time, it was so widely and indiscriminately used that it became subject to a certain nuanced style of mockery and inverted meaning.
There is a delightfully sardonic oppositional (English-language) Chinese Website by that name whose commentaries suggest that Running Dogs who call themselves Running Dogs acknowledge both an unwillingness and an inability to carry out their prescribed roles in a set of authoritarian relationships.   (A personal note: Running Dog was a proudly named Siberian Husky whose ironic sensibility graced the early days of our family life.)
Now I have no wish to associate the democratic governance of Hugo Chávez with the power-grows-out-of-the-barrel-of-a-gun governance of Chairman Mao, but the Venezuelan comandante also has a way with words, and he chooses them very carefully.   So when he told the Venezuelan people that Fox was “un cachorro del imperio” he spoke deliberately to several sets of listeners, including an ideological left that would remember and recognize the words.   It was to that left, and not to the President of Mexico, that Chávez was directing his remarks.
Fox has decided to take offence.   Why?   What sort of outcome is he seeking?   Who is he trying to mobilize?   This is a game more interesting than schoolyard name calling.
Reprinted from: Miami Herald, Mexico Edition, November 14, 2005
2003 VenezuelAnalysis.com
"4:10 a.m. CNE president Francisco Carrasquero:
President Hugo Chávez Frias wins the RR with 58.2%"
www.vheadline.com — Venezuela      Editor Roy S. Carson      Headlines, Mon, Aug. 16, 2004
Francisco Carrasquero
Shortly after 4:00 a.m. this morning, National Elections Council (CNE) president Francisco Carresquero went on linked radio/TV to announce preliminary results in yesterday's recall referendum with 94.49% of votes already tallied:   President Hugo Chávez Frias got 4,991,483 votes (58.25%) while the opposition mustered only 3,576,557 votes (41.74%).
CNE directors Sobella Mejias and Ezequiel Zamora, known for their opposition allegiances, have launched an objection in a brief press conference following Carrasquero's statement.
Their objection appears to be grounded in scrutineering of the results since the physical voting slips have not yet been delivered to CNE HQ in Caracas and the numbers are based on data from SmartMatic voting machines used in Sunday's process.
Effectively, a recount has been called although there is little likelihood that President Hugo Chávez Frias' 58.2% majority win will be very much affected by what is now down to a paper trail audit.
Dana Garrett

(Sent by email to www.vheadline.com)
I want to congratulate the Venezuelan people and President Hugo Chávez on their stunning victory on behalf of freedom and hope in the recent recall referendum.
Clearly, the present government in Venezuela has a clear mandate from its people to continue the policies that bring more hope and greater opportunities to the vast majority of Venezuelan people than have existed in previous governments.
As a USA citizen, I want to apologize for the shameless ways my government has tried to subvert the democratic will of the Venezuelan people on behalf of the moneyed elites in Venezuela and the imperialist interests here in the USA.
I pledge to do all that I can to ensure that my government accepts the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people and respects its political processes without further interference.
Venezuela has emerged as a shining example to the world of a people-empowered democracy.
I have every confidence that Venezuela will demonstrate to the world in the years ahead that there is no contradiction between economic justice and democratic freedom.
 
Presidential palace Miraflores, Caracas
Marcelo Hernandez
Still waiting!
(not really)
Venezuelans line up to vote Aug. 15, 2004.


Presidential palace Miraflores, Caracas
 
"Sings for the crowd"
 
www.Democracynow.org    Monday, August 16th, 2004
AMY GOODMAN:   We're joined on the telephone by Mario Murillo, a Pacifica reporter, long-time journalist.   His new book is called Colombia and the United States:  War, Terrorism and Destabilization.   He teaches media and communications Hofstra.   Hofstra University.   And co-host of "Wake-Up Call" on Pacifica station WBAI in New York.   Speaking to us from Colombia, from Bogotá.   Welcome to Democracy Now!, Mario.
So are people in Colombia watching the results in Venezuela?
MARIO MURILLO:   Yeah. Clearly, it's been the number one story I would say for the last week really here, almost surpassing some of the other internal crises that have been going on here in Colombia, and certainly over the last 48 hours, it's been the number one story.   Local television news has been breaking in with hourly updates all day yesterday. They were even cutting into Venezuelan television to present the coverage there. So people here in Colombia have been watching very closely the developments in Venezuela.
Closing campaign rally
Hugo Chávez for President
Caracas November 26, 2006
AMY GOODMAN:   Can you talk about the connection between Venezuela and Colombia? Even draw the map for us for starters, because I think a lot of people do not have a sense of the geography of South America.
MARIO MURILLO:   Well, Venezuela and Colombia share a border, a very long border in the northern part of South America.
They're always considered — the two are kind of economic and political powers of the northern part of South America, and their relationship for many years has always been kind of friendly, but there has also been some tensions.
I would say certainly in the last six years since Chávez has been in office, and certainly over the last two years since President Alvaro Uribe has been in power here in Colombia, the relations have never been worse in the countries' history.
I think a lot of you has to do with what we can describe and I don't think it's unfair to describe the two tendencies, in other words, Uribe and Chávez as the two most radical ideological perspectives coming out of South America today.
On the one hand, you have Chávez, who is as we know a very strong campaigner against neo-liberalism and against the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
He has been a very vocal critic of the United States' Plan Colombia.
He has been very critical of the war in Iraq, et cetera.
He has been a thorn in the side of Washington for many years.
On the other side of the border, you have the President Alvaro Uribe, who is perhaps the closest president Colombia has ever had to the United States, close friends with President Bush, has supported every step of President Bush's war on terrorism, was the only president in the whole continent to support the war in Iraq and clearly a person who looks at the United States as the main kind of protector of his political platform.
Venezuela and Columbia
AMY GOODMAN:   What would this mean for Uribe [President of Columbia] in the next election?
MARIO MURILLO:   If the results stand up, as we have been pointing out, obviously the opposition has problems with the result, and they're going to probably make quite a lot of stink over the next couple of days.
But as those election results hold up, President Uribe, he has to take a step back and consider in a sense a rejection of some of the policies that he has promoted.
One thing that I think should be pointed out is that earlier this year, a couple of months ago there was indications that rightwing paramilitary Colombian-trained and rightwing paramilitaries were inside Venezuela attempting to create the conditions for kind of an attack against the Chávez government.
That was kind of egg in the face for President Uribe.
Venezuela President Election
Closing campaign rally
Hugo Chávez for President
Caracas November 26, 2006
Of course the Colombian government distanced itself from that, but if they can embark in talks with the right wing paramilitaries here in Colombia to try to demobilize them and insert them into so-called legitimate institutions, it created quite a negative fallout for the Uribe administration.
I think the victory of Chávez also puts into question Uribe's position, first of all, because of the large turnout.
I mean, I think there was 35% abstention in Venezuela, which is unprecedented in recent history.
You know, this is the third time that — well, the eighth time overall, but the third time it was direct support for Chávez as — in terms of his presidency whereas Uribe when he was elected in 2002, the abstention rate in Colombia was at 55% and he certainly did not have nowhere near the kind of support that Chávez seems to have gotten in the latest round here.
However, Uribe right now, his main focus, his main experiment is to try to push forward a constitutional amendment, a congressional act that would actually allow for re-election here in Colombia, and in fact what we're seeing unfold right now, and in fact this week here in Bogotá, you are seeing the two sides, the opponents to Uribe and the re-election campaign and the supporters of Uribe kind of mobilizing the same way that we saw over the last 12 months in Venezuela.
It's going to become very polarized and Uribe is going to certainly push, to the extent that he can, the campaign for re-election.
To the chagrin and to the concern of a lot of people here who are watching carefully and a lot of concern, the role that the Uribe administration has played in the negotiations with the rightwing paramilitaries basically giving them a green light to carry out political assassinations in certain parts of the country.
To talk before the congress as occurred two weeks ago when the leaders of the rightwing paramilitaries spoke before the Colombian congress, without any concessions whatsoever to the Colombian government.
To the victims of the — thousands and countless victims of paramilitary terror here.
All of this is being supported by Uribe to try to bring peace supposedly and stabilization to the country.
But human rights activists, people in the opposition, the political opposition are very much concerned about what a re-election could mean for Colombia.
If Uribe gets another four years in office.
 
AMY GOODMAN:   Martin Sanchez speaking to us from Caracas.
Martin Sanchez finally, in Caracas, what does this mean now for the opposition, and for the supporters of Hugo Chávez, who clearly looks like has just prevailed in this recall referendum as we talk about the two major oil producing countries in South America, Venezuela, and Colombia?
Closing campaign rally
Hugo Chávez for President
Caracas November 26, 2006
MARTIN SANCHEZ:   Well, yeah, first, I have to mention that there's a Colombian connection to the negotiations that went on last night.
Actually, the delay in the elections results from the national electoral council was related to the fact that both the Carter Center and the Organization of American States, which are officers of the elections here, were trying to convince the opposition to accept the results of the Chávez's victory.
But it's been said that actually the O.A.S. president, Cesar Gaviria which is a Colombian ex-President actually was supporting the opposition and did not want to acknowledge Chávez's victory.
Though this is not — this is an unconfirmed report — this is just from international observers who were close to the negotiations.
There you have a Colombian connection.
Gaviria will be replaced next month as the O.A.S. president, but he has been a person who has been instrumental in breaking deals between the government and the opposition in Venezuela.
And the other fact is that the opposition has said that the government committed fraud and as you said at the beginning, they're going to do some legal procedures to try to block the election results.
So, I think that for the Venezuelan opposition, this — they actually burned their last — they fired their last shots to try to oust Chávez to a constitutional way, and it seems like they don't have enough support in the military to try to trigger another coup as they did in 2002.
So, I think that for the opposition, it's all downhill for now and they have to concentrate on building a platform to run for the elections in 2006.
One of the main witnesses of the opposition in Venezuela, is they haven't presented a clear platform to run against Chávez.
They don't have a clear leader who — Chávez remains the most popular leader, political figure in Venezuela with up to 40% of the advantage over the nearest competitor from the opposition.
Cuban flag
Closing campaign rally
Hugo Chávez for President
Caracas November 26, 2006
So, the opposition will have to concentrate on getting a program ready and trying to rebuild the prestige that they have lost because of the rule in the country the last four years and laundering the oil money which Chávez is using to help the poor.
AMY GOODMAN: Martin Sanchez, I want to thank you for being with us from Caracas. Website www.apporea.org, the main grassroots website for Chávez supporters and www.venezuelanalysis.com
 
August 17, 2004      www.democracynow.org      
AMY GOODMAN:   Venezuela, international election observers have confirmed that President Hugo Chávez fairly won the national referendum on Sunday despite accusations from the opposition that the elections results were a "gigantic fraud."
Cesar Gavira, the head of the Organization of American States said election monitors had not found "any element of fraud."
August 30, 2004   Issue      Newsweek International      By Moises Naim
Cuban doctors
Old hospitals being replaced
Medical care for all
Including clinics in remote areas
I grew up in Venezuela and, although I now live in Washington, D.C., returned to Caracas for the referendum to recall President Hugo Chávez.
Last Monday — the day after the polls — I went to Plaza Altamira, a square in Caracas, where a small crowd of people were protesting against the results of the referendum, claiming it was rigged in favor of Chávez.
It was a peaceful and rather small assembly.
The mood was subdued and depressed.
The overwhelming majority of the protesters were women, many of them quite poor.
Unexpectedly, a group of government sympathizers showed up and started to throw rocks and bottles demanding that the protesters leave the plaza because 'this country is now all ours.'
Then from behind this threatening mob a band of armed men roared up on motorcycles and cars and started shooting at the crowd.
<August 30, 2004        Newsweek International        By Moises Naim
I was shocked to see that this could be happening in a country with such a long tradition of peaceful political protest.
In the incident I recognized a version of state-sanctioned mob violence that was new to Venezuela.
I knew that such brutality was common in the Soviet Union, Cuba, Haiti, Bosnia, China and in many African nations.
It was also a common practice of the military juntas during the 1970s and 1980s in other parts of Latin America.
And now here it was, in Venezuela, a country that until a few years ago had no tradition of this sort.
The violence is taking place under an official veneer of democracy.
I was seeing the worst abuses of communism and dictatorship carried out with the implicit tolerance of a leadership that had been put in power by voters who peacefully waited for hours to exercise their voting rights.
According to the latest survey of Latinobarometro, a polling organization, when people throughout Latin America are asked if democracy is preferable to any other kind of government Venezuelans rank almost at the top of the list in their support for democracy.
Until 1992, when the then Leutenant Colonel Chávez staged a military coup that failed, Venezuela had a strong democratic tradition.
When horrible human-rights abuses took place in Latin America during the 1970s, the country enjoyed a vibrant democracy.
In five of the eight elections of the last 40 years an opposition party won in highly contested races and power was transferred peacefully.
Now that the rest of the region is moving in this direction, though, Venezuela seems to be sliding down the opposite path, reliving the sorry experience of the region's harrowing past.
August 30, 2004      Newsweek International
By Moises Naim
And yet I knew that what I was witnessing in Plaza Altamira was going to be largely invisible and almost irrelevant to the rest of the world.
The small dust-up in a Latin American country pales in comparison with the tragedy in Sudan, the chaos in Iraq or even the destruction wreaked that day by Hurricane Charley in Florida.
For the rest of the world the little that mattered regarding Venezuela was that a referendum had taken place and that President Chávez was not recalled.
While the referendum and its contested outcome are very important for Venezuela, to me the shootings in Altamira are even more important.
Not because I was there but because witnessing the self-assured sense of impunity with which these murderous thugs were shooting at a peaceful crowd transported me both to a Latin American past that I thought would never come to Venezuela and to a future where the country would be ruled by the kind of leaders who create conditions where such incidents become unbearably common.
< August 30, 2004      Newsweek International      By Moises Naim
I desperately hope that in this first decade of the 21st century Venezuelans will be treated as citizens with the right to assembly and to express dissenting political opinions, without being gunned down by thugs empowered by their elected leader.
Yet, what I witnessed in Altamira and what I know about the proclivities of President Chávez make me fearful that in years to come instead of international election observers what Venezuela will need is the active presence of international human-rights monitors.
Naim is Editor of Foreign Policy Magazine and former Venezuelan minister of Trade and Industry.
© 2004 Newsweek, Inc.
http://narcosphere.narconews.com      Ron Smith — The NarcoNews Bulletin      August 16, 2004
In a big way.   For shame, Hannah Baldock.   How did you violate the rules?   Let us count the ways.
'Mission Inside the Barrio'
Neighborhood clinic
Thousands of Cuban doctors
providing free checkups
"The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez, looked to be losing his grip on power last night as exit polls showed him to be trailing the opposition by almost a million votes."
"The figures were early indications that, for the first time in the country's history, the President may have his term in office cut short by a referendum."
"The mid-morning results showed that the opposition, already boasting an enormous 1,758,000 votes to Chávez's 798,000, is well on its way to reaching the target of 3.76 million votes it needs to oust the authoritarian, left-wing President.
Turn-out for the referendum was high, with millions of Venezuelans queuing from the early hours at polling stations all over the oil-rich country to decide the political fate of the firebrand Mr Chávez."
Let's talk about lousy, lazy, yellow journalism, and in a left-leaning paper, too.
First, it's a bit early for such predictions, no?
Second, it's still 8:15PM on the 15th here in Caracas, too early to legally release results, hell, the polls are still open for four more hours!
Third, let's have a source for these numbers, Hannah.
'Mission Inside the Barrio'
Neighborhood clinic
Thousands of Cuban doctors
providing free help
No "mid-morning results!"
There are no "mid-morning results!"
The only source, and I use the term loosely, to claim to release early results was Enrique Mendoza, a premiere member of the opposition group Coordinadora Democratica [sic], hardly an unbiased source, and he was shot down when the government banned early results.
Perhaps you refuse to provide a source because none exists, or perhaps you're using the usual "reliable" source of the escualido opposition.
Either way, you're blemishing the record of the Independent by presenting a prediction as a truism.
The government has strictly and explicitly forbidden any early release of polling numbers.
When the figures are released, they will be in the form of percentages, not hard numbers.
What is Left wing authoritarian president?
Fourth, "Left wing authoritarian president?"   What the hell is that?
Is it because you're still working under a racist premise about Latin America that you can disparage a democratically elected leader?
One of the free
public hospitals
Thousands of Cuban trained doctors
providing free help
I'd humbly suggest that after tonight, we'd find that Chávez has more popular support than Tony Blair.
I'd like to see you describe him in such a way!
Independent, you need to be more careful in your reporters' screening process.
And enough with the "firebrand" bullshit already!
I've come to expect more, much more, from the Independent and the Observer.
Get your facts straight before you lose your credibility.
Report removed from the Independent web site
The report was removed form the Independent web site after Chávez's victory was announced.
August 18, 2004      www.democracynow.org      AMY GOODMAN:
In Venezuela, the opposition to president Hugo Chávez has announced it will not take part in an audit of Sunday's vote where voters backed the Chávez presidency.
The Organization of American States and the Carter Center have deemed the vote free and fair but the opposition maintains massive fraud occurred.
The Independent shakes off yesterday's mistake, posts Reed Lindsay article on the victory
http://narcosphere.narconews.com      Alex Satanovsky       August 16, 2004
Ending hours of confusion, former American president Jimmy Carter, who helped monitor the referendum, endorsed the returns showing that the left-wing president had won the vote.
"Our findings coincided with the partial returns announced today by the National Elections Council [CNE]," Mr Carter told a news conference, and urged Venezuelans to accept the result.
Reed, a Narco News graduate as far as I know, knows his journalism well.
No ommissions of inconvenient facts, yet no jumping to conclusions.
The opposition protests the vote, but it is in conflict with the opinion of the international observers.
The people who fired on the anti-Chávez rally are only apparently pro-Chávez activists.
http://narcosphere.narconews.com       by Ron Smith      Tue Aug 17th, 2004
Clear as mud:
There were several shootings, one took place on August 15th, voting day, in Petare, assailants unknown and as yet uncaptured.
Petare is a heavily pro-Chávez neighborhood, and one person was killed, at least 10 wounded.
There were a couple of "accidental" shootings by Policia Militar, one soldier wounded, one civilian killed.
Finally, there was the shooting at Altamira plaza, escualido central, yesterday the 16th.
Three men arrived on motorcycles and started shooting.
These three men have been identified and Chávez claims he will throw the book at them, regardless of who they are.
He did mention the coincidence of Globovision being at the right place at the right time, as during previous incidents at Altamira.
This implied an agent provocateur situation but there are no facts yet.
The assailants have been detained, according to Lázaro Forero, director of the Metropolitan Police, and the DISIP is investigating.
There's the hard facts, folks, from the pages of Últimas Noticias, p23, 17 de Agosto 2004.
Other than that, the situation is still a bit hazy.
It is a bit early to announce the shooters' political affiliation...
Those who fired guns in Plaza Altamira were not government supporters?
http://www.vheadline.com     requires membership      August 20, 2004
Those who fired guns in Plaza Altamira were not government supporters!
www.counterpunch.org     by ROLDAN TOMASZ SUAREZ        The Crisis in Venezuela        December 2002
What Happened in Altamira Plaza
December 2002?
After a detailed coverage of the shooting at Plaza Altamira, commercial TV stations at once started identifying one of the suspects connecting him to the government of Hugo Chávez Frias via images conveniently shown to the public a few days earlier.
As in last April s coup attempt, the network of private TV channels has summarily judged, found guilty and condemned the President of Venezuela as an assassin based on evidence that was collected, shown and assessed by the print & broadcast media at their complete whim.
Allow me to doubt the legitimacy of this class of media tribunal and contribute some ideas, which, I hope, will throw a different light on what happened.
There are a number of important questions, which we could answer without having to appeal to any class of material evidence.
In the first place, who would benefit most at the moment if such events took place in Plaza Altamira?
Would it benefit the government or the opposition more?
Let us take a look.
Hugo Chávez Frias government has been persistently accused both nationally and internationally of promoting violence in Venezuela and of arming the Bolivarian Circles to repress opposition groups.
The events of Plaza Altamira lend themselves to be easily interpreted within the framework of these accusations and moreover, to reinforce them.
Simple conclusion: the government cannot benefit from such an event.
After failing spectacularly in its intent to force Hugo Chávez Frias' ousting from the Presidency by means of an indefinite general stoppage, the opposition seems to have discovered a new topic that it can use as a vehicle for its plans.
Obviously, the idea that Chávez Frias hunts down and kills his opponents seems good justification to try and topple him by any means, whether democratic or not.
Simple conclusion: the main beneficiary of what happened in Plaza Altamira is the opposition.
www.counterpunch.org     by ROLDAN TOMASZ SUAREZ        The Crisis in Venezuela        December 2002
What Happened in Altamira Plaza December 2002?
On the other hand, if the government was indeed the author of that criminal action what could have been the objective?
Plaza Altamira rebel military officers have been installed there several weeks without any minor action on the part of the government to repress them.
Then, after several weeks of media coverage it was blatantly obvious that the Plaza Altamira military officers were losing their news appeal and had not fulfilled their declared objective of turning the Armed Force (FAN) against the government.
For the government it would have been enough to wait patiently for the media show to peter out and Plaza Altamira no longer represented any danger.
But ... if the government indeed had wanted to terminate that situation by violent and bloody means, would not the military officers at Plaza Altamira been the principal target?
Why kill ordinary protesters that were extras in the show?
It is really significant and a matter of concern that none of the main promoters and protagonists of the Altamira military rebellion were victims of the shooting.
What does this suggest to the reader?
Finally, if the government had indeed planned such as crazy action that would be contrary to its own interests, wouldn't it have planned it better?
I want to ask: could it not at least have made the material authors escape from the scene of the crime easier or have had them killed after committing the crime?
It would not have been difficult to infiltrate a second group of assassins into Plaza Altamira to kill the first group (appealing to the principle of legitimate defense ) immediately after they fulfilled their mission.
We see, then, that these simple questions throw serious doubt on the version so diligently worked out and published by private TV channels.
www.counterpunch.org     by ROLDAN TOMASZ SUAREZ        The Crisis in Venezuela        December 2002
What Happened in Altamira Plaza December 2002?
But there is more.
If we take a certain distance from all that has been happening over the last days in Venezuela, we immediately note an extraordinary similarity between the plot of these events and those of the April coup.
As we remember, the April coup started off with a call for an indefinite national stoppage undertaken by the Federation of Chambers of Industry & Commerce (Fedecamaras) and the Venezuelan Confederation of Trade Unions (CTV).
The coupsters used the Venezuelan oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) as an important element in the conflict with the government, directing multitudinous marches to important PDVSA installations to bring them to a halt.
The private print & broadcast media were used as an important key in the coup plan, not just to direct and coordinate opposition marches, but above all, to gradually spin an image, making government sympathizers out as fanatics and violent individuals devoid of scruples and armed to the teeth.
The final thrust of the coup occurred when certain acts of violence very similar to those of Plaza Altamira and with identical media coverage were attributed immediately to the Bolivarian Circles, and served as an excuse for military coupsters to declare themselves in rebellion.
It does not need any more clarification to realize that all these key elements are present in events that are currently developing in Venezuela.
We see an indefinite general stoppage called by Fedecamaras and CTV
We see systematic sabotage of PDVSA
Print & broadcast at the total and absolute service of destabilizing the country
A new spin creating a negative and distorted image of government sympathizers
And finally serious acts of violence for which Hugo Chávez Frias government is immediately made responsible, even though as we have already shown, there are very simple reasons for seriously doubting this hypothesis.
All that remains to ask is whether they are attempting to re-edit the same script of the April coup.
Roldan Tomasz Suárez is a professor at the Universidad de Los Andes in Mérida, Venezuela.
[Translated from Spanish by Patrick O'Donoghue]
August 1, 2005
Land Reform and Neighborhood Doctors
By DIANA BARAHONA
      Free Eye surgery
Public hospital Caracas
I last visited Venezuela while the country was in the throes of the August 15, 2004 referendum on President Hugo Chavez.
That time I arrived and left with planeloads of hopeful, and then deeply disappointed upper-class Venezuelans.
The referendum represented their last opportunity to stop Chavez and the revolutionary process he was putting into motion.
Ruben Linares, one of 21 national coordinators of the Union Nacional de Trabajadores, explained the referendum's significance:
Free physiotherapy
"As a matter of fact, they created everything they created, did everything they did:
— the coup de etat
— the stoppage
— sabotage
— because of the 49 laws [land reform, educational reform, etc.]...
In that result, it turns out that the referendum clearly went beyond whether the president stayed or not...
It was to say clearly, do you agree with everything that is being done during this presidency or are you opposed?
It had like three, four questions implicit in the one."
Previous Venezuela governments
for a select few
have created
mass poverty
And that question was, either we take the new road or we go back to the way we lived before, Ruben Linares said.
"And the people decided to go along the road we were on."
The changes made possible by sweeping reforms carried out by the government, with the participation of the people and funded by Venezuela's black gold, are more evident today.
There are still many problems: corruption and entrenched bureaucracies for starters.
The National Assembly has faced opposition obstruction to passing new laws and the judicial branch is still struggling. And too many Venezuelans are still poor.
But unlike most countries in Latin America, the government is working to solve the problems.
Poor
backdrop
to rich
There is a state TV channel which looks a lot like Cuban TV in that it is positive and informative.
If you watch long enough you learn quite a lot about the country.
I haven't seen the new satellite channel, Telesur.
This commercial-free channel by and for Latin America so alarmed Jose Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch that he exclaimed:
"If the shareholders of this company belong to a government like Cuba where they have no basic concept of free speech and zero tolerance for independent views, God help us."
Vivanco needn't worry about communist influence in Telesur, however; although it is funded in part by Cuba along with Argentina and Uruguay, Venezuela owns 51 percent, and it is headquartered in Caracas.
And as everybody knows, the only reds in Venezuela are the Chavistas.
New Government built complex
The Good News
The political situation has calmed down considerably.
The opposition seems to be getting used to being on the outside and when they aren't making money they busy themselves running around as NGOs.
Complaining about human rights violations, lack of freedom of the press (all of which you can read about in the press) and violations of labor rights (this last charge made by the business federation FEDECAMARAS at the UN International Labor Organization).
Unemployment is down.
Venezuela is experiencing a period of economic growth which has moved the formal employment sector (businesses with five or more employees) past the 50 percent mark.
When businesses with less than five employees are taken into account the informal sector is much lower (perhaps 35 percent) — unusual for Latin America, which suffers from chronic unemployment and underemployment.
I happened on a long line in a downtown shopping district and asked some ladies if they were waiting for the internet cafe to open.
"No, mi amor, la tienda de zapatos."
"The finest shoes" added another.
Ongoing Construction
The National Institute of Statistics is preparing a study that will measure the standard of living, not only wages as the World Bank does.
Taking the social programs into account — especially the 15,000 Cuban doctors and more money invested in the Social Security hospitals — the standard of living should show more improvement than wages alone show.
The institute's president says free education at all levels has drastically reduced dropout rates.
This will undoubtedly raise standards of living in the long run as more students go on to higher education.
Newly built home assigned
to grandmother
Barrio Adentro II
As an example, the government has a new mission called Barrio Adentro II (Into the Neighborhood) which will train medical students the way Cubans are trained — in family medicine.
Currently Venezuelan medical students are opting for specialties to make more money, just like in the U.S.
The presence of Cuban doctors has not translated into less work or lower incomes for Venezuelan doctors; rather it has expanded medical care to people who couldn't afford to see a doctor before.
This is the case in every country with Cuban medical brigades.
So when Venezuela finally has enough family practitioners to care for its own, there will be a triple benefit: the population will have the relief that comes with access to medical care, people will have more money to spend on other needs, and the doctors will benefit personally from having a good career.
Buys locally-produced food products and distributes them
Another program worth mentioning is the land reform which is granting titles, credits and support to farmers to make the country more self-sufficient in food.
Mercal is part of the same effort since it buys locally-produced food products and distributes them in markets around the country at a discount of up to 50 percent for the consumer. observers.
 
The Bad News
The bad news arrived this morning with the announcement that Roger Noriega is going to resign.
Noriega had replaced another Cuban American extremist, Otto Reich, as assistant to the US secretary of state for Western Hemispheric affairs.
He was replaced when the latter's recess appointment was coming to a close (November 2002) and it was clear he wouldn't survive a Senate confirmation hearing.
Like Reich, Noriega was an attack dog.
But he failed to prevent Chilean, Jose Miguel Insulza, from becoming the secretary general of the OAS, and it seems that failure cost him his job.
Noriega is so universally despised in Latin America that his departure can only help the State Department.
And that's a shame.
Diana Barahona is a freelance journalist.
 
 
War on Democracy.

Since 1945 the United States government US U.S. has attempted to overthrow 50 governments.
Poor Barrios - Urban areas in Spanish-speaking country

War on Democracy.

Since 1945 the United States government US U.S. has attempted to overthrow 50 governments.
War on Democracy.

Since 1945 the United States government US U.S. has attempted to overthrow 50 governments.
Venezuela — 2014
“Facing the open conspiracy...I decided to break political and diplomatic relations with the current government of Panama”
“There's a right-wing government that's aiming to convene the Permanent Council of the OAS. It's a plan for the intervention of foreign forces in the country”
Damage caused by US military in their invasion of Panama to set-up a right-wing subservient government
Coca-Cola told to give parking lot back to local community
Massive killing in built-up urban areas of Panama City
He represented the dreams of so many struggles, so many commitments to humanity, and he proved that another world is possible
The death of Hugo Chávez Frías
Washington imperialists their media and think tank whores expressed gleeful sighs as did the brainwashed US population
Had he sold out, Chavez would have become very rich from oil revenues, like the Saudi Royal Family, and he would have been honored by the United States in the way that Washington honors all its puppets: with visits to the White House
Millions of mourners have filed past the body of President Chavez at the military academy in Caracas, queuing for hours to see the man to whom they felt so much love lying in state
Nicolas Maduro with Governor Adan Chávez, the older brother of President Hugo Chávez
Chavez was a world leader
More western media demonized more Venezuela people loved
President Hugo Chávez inspects military maneuvers of the national Air Force in Catilletes near Colombia
Haiti poor
verses the one percent that owns the world
A daughter arrives at her parents’ house high in the hills of Port-au-Prince, her father is home, lying in the yard, under a tree, vomiting
Also in Meille was a battalion of Nepalese UN military working for MINUSTAH, the United Nations Controlling The Poor Mission in Haiti
This same strain of cholera had broken out in Kathmandu on 23 September 2010, shortly before the UN military forces left for Haiti to control the poor and preserve the status of those who have money
In Haiti, which means the poor have nothing, the rich have everything
Venezuela — 2013
A government system hated by the elite — both in and out of Venezuela
Create situations in streets that facilitate intervention of North America, NATO, government of Colombia
Venezuela and Cuba signed 51 bilateral agreements related to energy management and social programmes in areas including healthcare, education and recreation this past weekend and pledged to spend $2 billion on bilateral social development projects this year
The questioning of Maduro’s triumph would be accompanied by a series of agitation actions in the streets to incorporate discontent
Venezuela — 2012
Since taking office in February 1999, Chavez has been Washington's number one Latin American enemy.
He worries US officials for good reason.     He's a powerful threat.     He represents a good example.
Venezuela's social democracy shames America's.     Bolivarianism works!
Free healthcare, education, and other essential services
Previous governments paid lip service to fundamental rights and needs, now they are mandated by law.
Venezuela 2008 — 2011
When Chávez took office fifty-five percent of the people lived in poverty — 70 percent of food was imported
New York Times doesn't mention everyone has free healthcare — not important to you who live in U.S.
Purchase of local unit of Spanish bank Grupo Santander
Coca-Cola told to give parking lot back to local community
This government is here to protect the people, not the bourgeoisie or the rich
How to create a confrontation between two nations: Tying the loose ends
Mexico
They initially asked for 300 pesos, or $20.00 USD
San Quintín Valley — You come here and sell everything because you haven’t got a cent and here is definitely worse, because you come with promises, illusions, and nothing happens.
Grassroots mobilizations and work stoppages, caravans and tours through different towns and cities in Baja California and the country to publicize their fight and make alliances.
Complicity between the State and business owners not only promotes this state of affairs, but also assumes that the economically and politically powerful can act above the law.
The money that the workers should, but do not, receive is therefore redirected to employers.
Haiti and the US — a classic game of the criminal blaming the victim
Aristide, through two terms in office — both of which he was deposed in the middle of — was sabotaged at every step by the U.S. CIA, USAID, the European Union, the Canadian government, the IMF, and the World Bank.
After perpetrating a reign of superpower terrorism that includes 33 coups d’etat, financing right wing paramilitarism, the terrorizing, abduction and murder of human rights activists, the hijacking of loans meant to establish sources of clean, potable water, hospitals, and clinics, dismantling the democratic election process, forbidding the existence of the largest political party in the country, Fanmi Lavalas, and fomenting the spreading of disease, starvation, mass murder and U.S. hegemony via the Monroe Doctrine, many Haitians believe that the U.S. State Department is now in firm control of the monster it has created.
     UN soldiers shoot at Haitian mourners       
     Pictures and images of Haiti     
       Haiti victim of US imperialism    
Announcing Venezuela's first and only english language newspaper
Caracas, 22 January 2010 ­
Correo del Orinoco International - January 22, 2010

Venezuela launches English language newspaper, the Correo del Orinoco International.

Image: venezuelanalysis.com
click here to download
January 22 2010 issue
This Friday, Venezuela celebrates the launching of its first and only English language newspaper, the Correo del Orinoco International.
While in the past other English-language publications have existed, none remain in circulation today, and no others have been created during the Bolivarian Revolution.
Editor-in-Chief Eva Golinger explained:
"This will be the first newspaper of its kind in Venezuela.
We will produce news and information for an international audience, but from the Venezuelan perspective.
Most of the news that¹s out there in English comes from international news agencies that report with a biased perspective and tend to ignore important human interest stories that paint a positive picture of the Chávez government."
"Our most important mission is to combat the massive media manipulation and information blockade against Venezuela and to inform the international community about many incredible events taking place daily inside Venezuela that rarely receive attention from the corporate medial."
The original Correo del Orinoco was founded by Venezuela¹s liberator, Simón Bolívar on June 27, 1818.
Correo del Orinoco International - January 22, 2010

Venezuela launches English language newspaper, the Correo del Orinoco International.

Image: venezuelanalysis.com
click here to download
January 29 2010 issue
It served as a principal source of information during the time of independence and the creation of the Venezuelan Republic.
Bolívar encouraged writing and reporting as a form of "artillery", termed by him as the "Artillery of Ideas".
One hundred ninety one years later, the Correo del Orinoco in Spanish was relaunched as part of the Venezuelan people's effort to combat corporate media misreporting and disinformation campaigns against the Venezuelan government and the Bolivarian Revolution, nationally and internationally.
Today, the Correo del Orinoco is a widely-read and referenced daily paper, reporting on political, social, economic, judicial, cultural and international events of importance to the Venezuelan people, with a balanced and informative tone.
In times of Simón Bolívar, the Correo del Orinoco was published not only in Spanish, but also occasionally in English and French.
Today this tradition is continued with the creation of the first foreign language version of the Correo del Orinoco International, a weekly paper in English for distribution nationally and internationally. "Issues and stories of how social and economic justice are being built in Venezuela today will be our priority", added the editor, Eva Golinger.
The Correo del Orinoco International will be available in print this Friday, January 22, and next Friday, January 29, as a free insert in the Spanish-language daily edition.
The English-language paper will be formally launched later as a separate publication and then will be available every Friday at newstands across Venezuela.
Correo del Orinoco International - January 22, 2010

Venezuela launches English language newspaper, the Correo del Orinoco International.

Image: venezuelanalysis.com
click here to download
February 4 2010 issue
International distribution of the print edition is a future goal, but initially, it will be available in digital format on the Spanish-language website.
Correo del Orinoco International - January 22, 2010

Venezuela launches English language newspaper, the Correo del Orinoco International.

Image: venezuelanalysis.com
click here to download
February 12 2010 issue
The real Ronald Reagan
— Resistance and democracy destroyed by US policy and CIA activity
El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, South Africa
Iraq's real WMD crime - the effects of depleted uranium
World War Two soldiers did not kill      Kill ratio Korea, Vietnam.      Iraq.
The Iraq War - complete listing of articles, includes images
Al-Sadr City
Afghanistan and Terror
Aid agencies compromised by US actions
Photos September 2004
US soldiers committing suicide Afghanistan Iraq — Most Recent
Psychologist Pete Linnerooth was one of three who were part of a mental health crew in charge of the US 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in the Baghdad area of Iraq.   Pete Linnerooth committed suicide by turning a gun upon himself in January of 2013
Veterans kill themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes.   More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began.
Mary Coghill Kirkland said she asked her son, 21-year-old Army Spc. Derrick Kirkland, what was wrong as soon as he came back from his first deployment to Iraq in 2008.   He had a ready answer: "Mom, I'm a murderer."
A military base on the brink
As police agents watched he shot himself in the head
Murders, fights, robberies, domestic violence, drunk driving, drug overdoses
US soldiers committing suicide Afghanistan Iraq II
U.S. Soldier Killed Herself After Objecting to Interrogation Techniques
Private Gary Boswell, 20, from Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, was found hanging in a playground in July
She is Jeanne "Linda" Michel, a Navy medic.   She came home last month to her husband and three kids ages 11, 5, and 4, delighted to be back in her suburban home of Clifton Park in upstate New York.   Two weeks after she got home, she shot and killed herself.
Peterson refused to participate in the torture after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage
     United States Numb to Iraq Troop Deaths       
     All papers relating to the interrogations have been destroyed     
      We stripped them and were supposed to mock them and degrade their manhood     
US soldiers committing suicide Iraq Vietnam
More atrocities - Ahmed and Asma, story of two children dying
The House of Saud and Bush
       All with U.S. Money:       
       US and Israel War Crimes       
Afghanistan - Terror?
Photos over past three months.
Listing of Iraq War articles plus photos
All with U.S. Money:
Israel agents stole identity of New Zealand cerebral palsy victim.
(IsraelNN.com July 15, 2004) The Foreign Ministry will take steps towards restoring relations with New Zealand. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark today announced she was implementing diplomatic sanctions after two Israelis were sentenced on charges of attempting to obtain illegal passports. Despite Israeli refusal to respond to the accusations, the two are labeled in the New Zealand media as Mossad agents acting on behalf of the Israeli intelligence community.

Foreign Ministry officials stated they will do everything possible to renew diplomatic ties, expressing sorrow over the "unfortunate incident".
Darfur pictures and arial views of destruction
                 October 2004 photos
Suicide now top killer of Israeli soldiers
Atrocities files - graphic images
'Suicide bombings,' the angel said, 'and beheadings.'
'And the others that have all the power - they fly missiles in the sky.
They don't even look at the people they kill.'
Follow the torture trail...
       Cowardly attacks by air killing men women and children in their homes, often never seeing those they kill as the drones or aircraft fly back to the cowardly bases       
       If they kill only the husband, see how they care for the family they have destroyed       
       Afghanistan — Western Terror States: Canada, US, UK, France, Germany, Italy       
       Photos of Afghanistan people being killed and injured by NATO     
Should the dam break, as attempts are being made in Saudi Arabia
Photos July 2004
US Debt
Photos June 2004
Lest we forget - Ahmed and Asma, story of two children dying
        When you talk with God        
         were you also spending your time, money and energy, killing people?         
       Are they now alive or dead?       
American military: Abu Gharib (Ghraib) prison photos, humiliation and torture
- London Daily Mirror article: non-sexually explicit pictures
Photos April 2004
The celebration of Jerusalem day, the US missiles that rained onto children in Gaza,
and, a gathering of top articles over the past nine months
Photos March 2004
The Iraq War - complete listing of articles, includes images
Photos February 2004
US missiles - US money - and Palestine
Photos January 2004
Ethnic cleansing in the Beduin desert
Photos December 2003
Shirin Ebadi Nobel Peace Prize winner 2003
Photos November 2003
Atrocities - graphic images...
Photos October 2003
Aljazeerah.info
Photos September 2003
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