Venezuela Next?

A

Anonymous

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#1
CIA Watchers - keep an eye on Venezuela

Since being elected President of Venezuela in 1998, Hugo Chavez has embarked on one of the most progressive programmes seen in South America since the days of Allende.
In laws ratified last year, Chavez has begun serious land reform and guaranteed indigenous and women's rights and free healthcare and education and laws regulatng Venezuelan's oil industry.
Of course such policies have made Mr Chavez a few enemies, the oil industry, the traditional parties of the Christian Deomcracts, the Catholic Church, the media and the avowedly 'non-communist' national Trade Union Movement (itself long contaminated by the CIA created American Labour Office - see Willy Blum - Killing Hope)
But much worse than that, Chavez has dared to sell oil to the Cubans, and refuse the United States the use of Venezuelan airspace for aircraft supplying 'Plan Colombia'.
The US reaction has been swift, The NSA, Pentagon and the State Department were called to a two day meeting to discuss 'the problem of Venezuela' and Colin Powell has gone on the record warning Chavez to correct 'his understanding of what democracy is all about'.
Meanwhiles the IMF have indicated its support for a 'transitional government', and Venezuelan army colonels have been muttering in the right wing papers about 'saving Venezuela from itself'.
I don't need pointing out to any students of South American history how depressing familiar this all is - the US causes financial trouble, the IMF make it worst, American funded groups take to the streets, stories are planted in the press, and suddenly a colonel steps up to save the country from communism, or in these modern ages, maybe it will be that catch-all term 'terrorism'.
(Got this snippet from the always readable John Pilger - http://www.johnpilger.com :(
 
A

Anonymous

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#2
I especially liked the "Show him what democracy is all about bit". Putting in a military dictator is their way of showing that I guess.
 

DerekH16

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#3
Sounds like Mr Chavez is a decent guy trying to do good.

Sorry, he'll have to go. :mad:

* edit *
Is it just me, or does this page take an amazingly long time to load?
 

punychicken

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#4
OT: load time

DerekH said:
* edit *
Is it just me, or does this page take an amazingly long time to load?
yeah but not half as long as its taken to load the reply to page I'm writing this on..!

As for the politics of it all... think someone should ask Powell to publicly define democracy, you know... clarify the situatin for us all. The reforms sound ok too from the posting here.
 

harlequin2005

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#5
From observation of the US definition of democracy when it comes to South America, I would point you to Henry Kissenger's track record :)

Terrorism is just a matter of historical perspective.

8¬)
 
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#6
Re: US invades the world

[edit: The original quote comes from here:

www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.ph ... 571#350571

although those posts were actually lifted from this thread:

www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=13938

due to some refiling and splitting and then further splitting to make this Venezuala thread]

Emperor said:
I suspect a lot of people are nervous about being next once the US drops Iraq like the proverbial hot spud - this caught me eye earlier:

Chavez accused the United States of ousting former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and warned Washington not to "even think about trying something similar in Venezuela."

Venezuela "has enough allies on this continent to start a 100-year war," Chavez said during his weekly television show.
http://www.cbc.ca/cp/world/040307/w030750.html

The States would love to control that 15%.
Seems like they have been at work already:

US revealed to be secretly funding opponents of Chavez

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington

13 March 2004

Washington has been channelling hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund the political opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez - including those who briefly overthrew the democratically elected leader in a coup two years ago.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that, in 2002, America paid more than a million dollars to those political groups in what it claims is an ongoing effort to build democracy and "strengthen political parties". Mr Chavez has seized on the information, telling Washington to "get its hands off Venezuela".

The revelation about America's funding of Mr Chavez's opponents comes as the president is facing a possible recall referendum and has been rocked by a series of violent street demonstrations in which at least eight people have died. His opponents, who include politicians, some labour leaders, media executives and former managers at the state oil company, are trying to collect sufficient signatures to force a national vote. The documents reveal that one of the group's organising the collection of signatures - Sumate - received ,400 (£30,000) from the US last September.

Jeremy Bigwood, a Washington-based freelance journalist who obtained the documents, yesterday told The Independent: "This repeats a pattern started in Nicaragua in the election of 1990 when [the US] spent per voter to get rid of [the Sandinista President Daniel] Ortega. It's done in the name of democracy but it's rather hypocritical. Venezuela does have a democratically elected President who won the popular vote which is not the case with the US."

The funding has been made by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) a non-profit agency financed entirely by Congress. It distributes m (£22m) a year to various groups in what it says is an effort to strengthen democracy.

But critics of the NED say the organisation routinely meddles in other countries' affairs to support groups that believe in free enterprise, minimal government intervention in the economy and opposition to socialism in any form. In recent years, the NED has channelled funds to the political opponents of the recently ousted Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide at the same time that Washington was blocking loans to his government.

"It the sort of stuff that used to be done by the CIA," said Mr Bigwood. "I am not particularly interested in Mr Chavez - I am interested in what Washington is doing." In Venezuela, the NED channelled the money to three of its four main operational "wings": the international arms of the Republican and Democratic parties - the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs respectively - and the foreign policy wing of the AFL-CIO union, the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity.

These groups ran workshops, training sessions and provided free advice to three political parties in Venezuela - Democratic Action, Copei and First Justice - the leaderships of which have been at the forefront of efforts to recall Mr Chavez.

Chris Sabatini, the director of the NED for Latin America, claimed the organisation's aim is to promote democracy and "build political space". He told the New York Times that the endowment had been working with civic groups in Venezuela with no political ties and human rights groups.

Relations between the US and Venezuela have not been so tense since April 2002 when Mr Chavez was briefly ousted by opponents who had been supported by the US in the run-up to the coup. At the time, Washington blamed Mr Chavez for his own downfall.

Washington's antipathy towards Mr Chavez is fuelled by his friendship with Cuba's Fidel Castro and his open criticism of Washington-backed free market policies. But Venezuela is also America's fourth largest supplier of oil - something that gives Mr Chavez a degree of leverage but, at the same time, makes him vulnerable to those who would like to see a more pro-American leader in power.

In recent days, Caracas and other cities have been rocked by demonstrations in support of the recall vote. Those intensified after the supposedly independent elections council ruled that government opponents lacked enough total signatures to force the vote. There have also been large and vociferous marches by thousands of supporters of the president who oppose the vote.
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=500711
 
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#7
Re: US invades the world

Emperor said:
I suspect a lot o people ar nervous about being next onc the US drops Iraq like the proverbial hot spud - this caught me eye earlier:

President Chavez warns United States against invading Venezuela

06:17 PM EST Mar 08
ALICE CHACON



CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez on Sunday vowed to freeze oil exports to the United States and wage a "100-year war" if Washington ever tried to invade Venezuela.
http://www.cbc.ca/cp/world/040307/w030750.html
Chavez attacks 'invasion plot'

By James Menendez
BBC correspondent in Caracas

The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, has said that powerful international forces are behind the presence of a group of alleged Colombian paramilitaries near the capital, Caracas.

President Chavez said more than 100 men had now been arrested following the discovery of their camp on Sunday.

Speaking on national television, Mr Chavez called the presence of alleged Colombian paramilitaries an invasion of Venezuelan territory - an invasion, he said, planned and directed from abroad, in particular from the United States and Colombia.

But, he added, powerful groups inside the country were also responsible, and he blamed elements within Venezuela's opposition for conspiring to overthrow him.

The government has already issued warrants for the arrest of 10 serving and retired military officers and it has carried out at least two dozen searches of properties belonging to politicians and some wealthy businessmen.

But the coalition of opposition parties, the Democratic Co-Ordinator, denies any involvement in the alleged plot, saying the government has failed to come with any credible evidence.

And there have been similar denials by both the United States and Colombia.

The US ambassador to Venezuela again publicly rejected the charge that Washington knew of a plan to overthrow President Chavez.

He also said that Venezuela had asked the US to remove its liaison officers from military bases around the country - a sign, if one were needed of just how strained relations have become.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/3709609.stm

Published: 2004/05/13 01:50:44 GMT

© BBC MMIV
 

Mighty_Emperor

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#8
Dubya you're a pube!!

I think Hugo Chavez might be one of my favourite politicians (although that isn't too hard) ;)

Tough crowd

Published: June 1 2004 5:00 | Last Updated: June 1 2004 5:00


Where would Latin American summits be without Hugo Chávez?

In January, he amused world leaders by failing to show up for scheduled bilateral meetings at the Summit of the Americas, held in Monterrey.

Back in Mexico last week for a summit with European Union leaders in Guadalajara, Venezuela's president found an intense diplomatic debate over the strength of the language they should use in the final communiqué to criticise US behaviour in Iraq.

Asked about George W. Bush in a press conference, he replied that the US president was a pendejo, translated literally as a "pubic hair" and colloquially as a "coward". Funnily enough, Chávez's word failed to make its way into the final communiqué.
Source

Emps
 
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#9
Bush is plotting to kill me, says Chavez

Bush is plotting to kill me, says Chavez

Toby Muse in Caracas and Julian Borger in Washington
Tuesday February 22, 2005
The Guardian

Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, accused George Bush of plotting to assassinate him yesterday, and warned that all Venezuelan oil exports to the US would stop in the event of his death.
"If I am assassinated, there is only one person responsible: the president of the United States," Mr Chavez said during his weekly radio and television show, Hello President.

He offered no proof of any conspiracy but said the Cuban president, Fidel Castro, had warned of a possible plot against him last week.

"If, by the hand of the devil, these perverse plans succeed ... forget about Venezuelan oil, Mr Bush," Mr Chavez said.

"I will not hide, I will walk in the streets with all of you ... but I know I am condemned to death," Mr Chavez told his listeners.

The White House said no one was available to comment on Mr Chavez's claim yesterday, a federal holiday.

Relations between Washington and the left-wing Venezuelan leader have been strained since Mr Chavez took office in 1999. His determination to raise the price of oil and his close friendship with Mr Castro have served as a constant irritant to Washington.

In recent years, relations have been strained further as Mr Chavez became a vocal critic of US policy both in Latin America and around the world. American officials have also expressed concern about Venezuela's decision to improve China's access to its oil fields.

Mr Chavez accuses the CIA of having a hand in the military coup that briefly deposed him in 2002, and says the US continues to back his political opponents.

The Bush administration has denied involvement in the attempted overthrow, but appeared to give its approval at the time. A prosecutor investigating the coup attempt died last year when his car was booby-trapped with explosives.

The Chavez government suggested the assassination had been carried out by former Venezuelan officers who were involved in the putsch, some of whom now live in exile in America.

The US has stepped up its rhetoric against the Venezuelan president lately, with the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, calling the country a "negative force" in Latin America and accusing Mr Chavez of turning it into a totalitarian society.

Many in Washington suspect that Mr Chavez may be supporting Marxist rebels in neighbouring Colombia, a country that has received billions of dollars in military aid from the US.

Venezuela's recent purchase of 100,000 rifles and 40 helicopters caused concern in Washington and Colombia. Mr Chavez denies setting off a new regional arms race, saying the armaments are for defence alone.

Despite the feud between their governments, the two countries' economies remain entwined. Oil is Venezuela's largest export and the US buys about 1.5m barrels a day, making it the fourth-largest supplier of American oil.

This is Mr Chavez's second noisy diplomatic spat in as many months.

A war of words broke out earlier this year between Colombia and Venezuela, after the abduction of a leading member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Farc, in Caracas.

Mr Chavez said Colombia had violated Venezuela's sovereignty, while Colombia's right-wing government accused Mr Chavez of harbouring members of the Marxist organisation.

Mr Chavez threatened to end all bilateral agreements until the issue was finally resolved.

He has frequently caused controversy at home with his offhand remarks.

The country's Catholic clergy were appalled when he labelled the church a "tumour" on Venezuelan society and the opposition protested when he called the country's rich "the squalid ones".

Mr Chavez's claims of an assassination plot come as he is embarking on one of the most radical phases of his promised revolution.

The government has announced it will take over the running of land and businesses that are not being fully exploited by their owners. Explaining the move, Mr Chavez said: "There is a wise old saying, the owner of the warehouse should use it or sell it."


http://www.guardian.co.uk/venezuela/sto ... 80,00.html
 

boynamedsue

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#10
That's ludicrous. The american government would never attack the democratically elected leader of a resource rich Latin American country. Did I say "the american government"? Sorry, I meant to say "the Chuckle brothers".

It's an interesting situation, I can believe it's possible but I also think Chavez has a bit of a messiah complex. Still he's better than the alternative, continued rule by the light-skinned venezuealn elite.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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#11
An overview of some of the statements coming out of Venezuela:

From bizarre to bizarro: News from Venezuela

By Miguel Octavio | The Devil's Excrement

07.03.05 | The story on the attempt on Chavez' life gets more bizarre. Now the Venezuelan Vice-President says that it was the former US Ambassador to Venezuela Charles Shapiro that warned him about a possible attempt on Chavez' life. Rangel says that for "legal" reasons the US Government had to tell the Venezuelan Government about it.

OK, let me think out loud what is going on. The US Government decides it needs to get rid of Chavez, but because of legal reasons that prevent the US Government from killing a foreign President, then the US Government tells the Venezuelan Government to satisfy the US laws. I guess now that they have fullfilled the legal steps they can go ahead and do it, no? Interesting system!

In the same statements, rangel says that the result of the meeting between Chavez and Cisneros, who owns a TV station, is that now that TV station has stopped "conspiring" against Chavez. I gues they mean, has stopped saying bad things about the Government, which is called censorship anywhere else. Another achievement for Carter!

To complete the bizarre statements, General Baduell tells the Cuban press that the US has created an unbalance of power and disequilibrium since the "Patriots Act" went into effect. Well, I have read the Patriot's Act, and Baduell has clearly no clue what that Act is all about, since its has nothing to do with funding or combat power in the world.
Source
 

MrRING

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#12
USA to Invade Venezuela? Their Prez Thinks So

Chavez: U.S. Plans to Invade Venezuela

WASHINGTON - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday he has documentary evidence that the United States plans to invade his country.

Chavez, interviewed on ABC's "Nightline," said the plan is called "Balboa" and involves aircraft carriers and planes. A transcript of the interview was made available by "Nightline." He said U.S. soldiers recently went to Curacao, an island off Venezuela's northwest coast. He described as a "lie" the official U.S. explanation that they visited Curacao for rest and recreation.

"They were doing movements. They were doing maneuvers," Chavez said, speaking through a translator. He added: "We are coming up with the counter-Balboa plan. That is to say if the government of the United States attempts to commit the foolhardy enterprise of attacking us, it would be embarked on a 100-year war. We are prepared."

Chavez has been attending the summit of world leaders at the
United Nations in New York this week. On Thursday, he denounced the U.S.-led war in Iraq and told other leaders they should consider moving the U.N. headquarters out of the United States.

To prove U.S. intentions to invade Venezuela, Chavez offered to send "Nightline" host Ted Koppel maps and other documentation. "What I can't tell you is how we got it, to protect the sources, how we got it through military intelligence," he said. In the event of a U.S. invasion, Chavez said the United States can "just forget" about receiving any more oil from his country.
Source

[Emp edit: Fixing big link]
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#16
Good baccy there too - If Bushy can't have legal Cuban cigars, why not take the next best producer. Besides, it has got to be easier to invade than North Korea....
 

byroncac

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#17
As Venezuela is a large exporter of oil to the US it is quite feasable that the US has a plan to secure the rigs, pumping stations and refinery's in case the supply dries up. This I guess is what "Balboa" would be about if such a thing exists. I'd also imagine other nations around the world such as the UK, China, France and so on have similar frequently updated plans of action incase their resources or interests are threatened. An example would be the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in a New Zealand harbour by french special forces.

With Bush's popularity at an all time low another war would be a hard sell. A large scale bombing attack may damage the oil resources so that would possibly leave an option of assasination of Chavez and his immediate staff - a proposal aired by former presidential candidate Pat Robertson.

US soldiers on Curacao, yes a little R&R perhaps, and if they are special forces that would include training, exercise and a little weapons practice. However, any intelligence gathering would be done by those on the ground in the country such as embassy staff, US nationals working as teachers, or tourists or aid workers. Any assasination of Chavez would be by US sponsored Venezuelans rather than the Marines, the coup against the Allende government in Chile being the blueprint.

How to defend against "Balboa". Even with its commitments to Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea and elswhere the Venezuelan military is no match for the US. The plan of defence would be that followed in the USSR during WW2 or Vietnam or Iraq today, simply melt back into the jungles and mountains and fight a guerilla war from there. Ally themselves with the drug barons and export cheap cocaine to American cities, give it free to US soldiers. Attack the oil resources, attack all and only US interests - and most importantly of all, keep an open, rational and honest dialogue with the rest of the world.

What does worry me about Hugo Chavez is there does seem to be a growing sense of paranoia in his speeches, is a constant barage against the US aimed at deflecting view from failed policies and programs at home? Governments of all colours need to have their bogey men whether reds under the bed, the US, Jews, single mothers, asylum seekers etc. I hope for the sake of the Venezuelan people Chavez can maintain a dialogue with the 'liberal US' and the rest of the world, rather than follow the path of Zimbabwe, Iran, North Korea and so on.

Talk is cheap, bombs and bullets cost billions!
 
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#18
If we could just find out how America's oil is getting under other peoples countries in the first place we could save all this unpleasantness. There must be a leak or something!
 

wembley8

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#19
"What does worry me about Hugo Chavez is there does seem to be a growing sense of paranoia in his speeches,"

Given the US's track record in Latin America and the current oil situation it's hardly unjustified.

"is a constant barage against the US aimed at deflecting view from failed policies and programs at home? "

Not really. Although they haven't been entirely successful, his domestic programs have achieved a degree of redistribution and have certainly benefited the poorer sections of society. This is going to make him increasingly unpopular with the neighbours in the North who favour unfettered capitalism and are horrified at ideas like taking farms away from rich foreign corporations who aren't using the land and passing them on to landless peasants.
Given that the domestic opposition is not winning, I'd say his biggest threat was destabilisation, as practised in Guatemala, Chile etc. As a military man he thinks in terms of military threats, but it'll probably be more subtle than that...
 
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#20
There was a great but underwatched documentary a while back called Chavez: Inside the Coup which was filmed while the attempted coup was taking place. Gripping stuff - especially the footage of soldiers trying (succesfully) to convince their comrades to stay loyal to Chavez. I don't understand why its not more well known.

And I'm with Wembley on this - he's a socialist, he's sitting on lots of oil, he's pissed of some big multinationals and he's humiliated his enemies by succesfully fending off one coup - I think a little bit of paranoia under the circumstances is entirely justified.
 

ted_bloody_maul

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#21
i think i saw that one (was it the one done by a couple of irish guys?). if it's the same one then i can see why you're surprised that it's not better known because it's a pretty astonishing documentary and very interesting to compare their footage with what the venezuelan channels were showing at the time.
 
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#22
ted_bloody_maul said:
...(was it the one done by a couple of irish guys?). if it's the same one then i can see why you're surprised that it's not better known because it's a pretty astonishing documentary...
That's the one, although it appears to have been shown under the title The Revolution Will Not be Televised as well as Chavez: Inside the Coup. Website here. IIRC the film was sympathetic to Chavez which has attracted accusations of bias from his opponents - but then anything less than a demand for his arrest and immediate execution appears to be an indication of support for him in the eyes of many of his enemies.

I bet that film crew couldn't believe their luck - turning up to make a bit of a film and landing up in the middle of an attempted coup. I wonder what it feels like to be scared to death and beside yourself with your good fortune at the same time?
 

byroncac

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#23
wembley8. I have the same kind of thoughts on this as yourself and spookdaddy.

Paranoia and Chavez. I think what i'm getting at is the perception we have of his government through our own media. The last television pictures of Chavez I saw he was shaking hands with Castro, he has offered oil aid to the USA in the aftermath of Katrina but I have seen no mention of it in the press, aid from Europe, Japan and the Middle East was well documented. Are the press and governments softening him up for a fall? The truth doesn't matter, the perception of truth does! Or is this my own paranoia?

The trouble with posts is I intend to write a line or two on the subject and then a few paragraphs later find i'm asking questions, answering them in reply and half forming thoughts.

Thanks for the link spookdaddy.
 

zulu25

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#24
byroncac said:
I hope for the sake of the Venezuelan people Chavez can maintain a dialogue with the 'liberal US' and the rest of the world, rather than follow the path of Zimbabwe, Iran, North Korea and so on.
Chavez has had visits in recent months with Putin (in Moscow), with other Russian government officials (in Caracas; don't remember if Putin was there), with China's leader Hu Jintao (in Caracas). Both countries are strengthening their relationships with Venezuela under Chavez.

I have the impression Chavez is somewhat impulsive and unpredictable, and extreme in his efforts to impose socialism within Venezuela. This has alienated some other Latin American heads of state, even fellow socialists.

Chavez is home free with U.S. liberals/leftists, who see him as Son of Fidel. Anyone who "speaks truth to power", as they would say it, is OK in their book.

As for me, all I can do is wish the Venezuelans peace, prosperity and progress.
 
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#25
Chavez calls for ban on Halloween

I'm getting a bit worried about Hugo...

Chavez calls for ban on Halloween
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has urged families not to mark Halloween, calling it a US custom alien to the South American nation.
"Families go and begin to disguise their children as witches. This is contrary to our way," Mr Chavez said during his weekly radio and TV show.

He also said Halloween was a "game of terror", the AP news agency reported.

Mr Chavez is known as a fierce critic of the US government and President George W Bush personally.


The president recently described the Bush administration as a terrorist government.
Mr Chavez said Halloween was part of the US culture of "putting fear into other nations, putting fear into their own people".

He did not refer to incidents earlier this month when lanterns made from hollowed pumpkins carrying anti-government messages appeared in several places in the capital, Caracas

Halloween, a pagan festival characterised by mischiefmaking, is marked every year on 31 October.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/w ... 391166.stm

Published: 2005/10/30 20:31:52 GMT

© BBC MMV
 
A

Anonymous

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#26
I have heard tell that in the 1960's the 'Colonels' in Brazil took over Brazil until the 1980's.

I have heard tell that the reason why this happened is because the USA said "We've got you surrounded, take over and sort out Brazil or else".

If this is true, and they will do something similar to Venezuela, then it will not just be because of oil - may also be to do with economic and military strategy.

Apparently the only reason why the USA supports Israel is not because 'They' say 'Jews run Hollywood' but because Israel is in a strategically important place physically and politically.
 
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#27
Venezuela And China To Build Satellite

Now Hugo is going into space!

Venezuela And China To Build Satellite

The satellite will be named Simon Bolivar (pictured), after the South American revolutionary.
Caracas (AFP) Nov 01, 2005
Venezuela has signed an accord with China to build a satellite, to be named Simon Bolivar after the South American revolutionary, President Hugo Chavez' office announced Tuesday.
Venezuela said it hopes to launch the satellite into space in July 2008.

Chavez said the accord with China was of "strategic and historical importance".

There will be a technology transfer under the deal and 90 Venezuelan specialists will work on the new satellite, including 30 who will carry out special studies in China, said Vice Science and Technology Minister Nuris Orihuela.

Chavez said that Venezuelans will play an equal role in the design, manufacture and "pursuit of the project at each stage. There will be no Chinese secrets from Venezuela in this project."

He added: "There will never be sufficient words to thank China for the moral, scientific and technological support."

Chavez said the satellite would be used for government and military communications and to give remote parts of the country access to telephones and the Internet.

Oil-rich Venezuela has strengthened ties with China since Chavez took office in 1999 and launched what he calls his "Bolivarian" social revolution.

Venezuela has bought three Chinese military radars, while China is to build 10,000 homes in Venezuela. The two countries have also stepped up links in the oil industry.

State-owned Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) said in August that sales of Venezuelan crude oil to China would rise from 68,000 to 300,000 barrels per day in coming years.

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/china-05zzzzzzzzzzq.html
 
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#28
U.S. Bars Spain's Sale of Planes to 'Antidemocratic' Venezuela



Article Tools Sponsored By
By RENWICK McLEAN
Published: January 14, 2006

MADRID, Jan. 13 -The United States will not allow Spain to sell military aircraft with American technology to Venezuela, saying the sale would aid the increasingly "antidemocratic" government of President Hugo Chávez and would destabilize the region, the American Embassy announced Friday.

The Spanish government, led by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, said it regretted the decision, but vowed to move forward with the deal after acquiring the necessary technology elsewhere.

Under the accord, which was signed in November, Spain agreed to sell Venezuela 12 transport airplanes and 8 patrol boats for about 1.7 billion euros, or $2 billion.

Because the airplanes, which are not yet built, were to contain American technology, Spain was required to obtain a license from Washington before completing the sale. Neither Spanish nor American officials would describe the technology.

In rejecting Spain's request, American officials said the sale amounted to support for an oppressive government that threatened to spread instability.

"Despite being democratically elected, the government of President Hugo Chávez has systematically undermined democratic institutions, pressured and harassed independent media and the political opposition, and grown progressively more autocratic and antidemocratic," the embassy said in a statement.

Spanish officials said they respected the American position, but disputed the assertion that the sale would destabilize the region.

María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, the deputy prime minister, said Friday during her weekly news conference that the airplanes were designed for transportation, not combat, and that the ships were intended for coast guard work.

Over the past year, Spain has been working steadily to repair relations with the United States, which deteriorated in 2004 after Mr. Zapatero withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq.

The two governments held cabinet-level meetings in 2005, and avoided the repeated diplomatic disputes that characterized early relations between President Bush and Mr. Zapatero.

When the C.I.A. was accused last year of using Spanish airports during antiterrorist missions, Spain refused to criticize the United States openly, and rejected accusations from human rights groups that the planes had been involved in the kidnapping and torture of terrorism suspects.

It is unclear whether the American decision to oppose the Venezuelan deal will spoil the good will that both nations say has been building between them.

One Spanish diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the news media, said Spain was committed to avoiding further recriminations. "We are adopting a very conciliatory and friendly position on this," he said. "If the Americans want to provoke us, that's fine. But we are not going to get into that."

In the American Embassy statement, officials stressed that their opposition to the sale did not reflect antagonism toward Spain.
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Heckler

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#29
Editing Chavez to Manufacture a Slur

Editing Chavez to Manufacture a Slur
Some outlets spread spurious charges of anti-Semitism

1/23/06

It began with a bulletin from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles (1/4/06) accusing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of invoking an old anti-Semitic slur. In a Christmas Eve speech, the Center said, Chavez declared that "the world has wealth for all, but some minorities, the descendants of the same people that crucified Christ, have taken over all the wealth of the world."

The Voice of America (1/5/06) covered the charge immediately. Then opinion journals on the right took up the issue. "On Christmas Eve, Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez's Christian-socialist cant drifted into anti-Semitism," wrote the Daily Standard (1/12/06), the Weekly Standard's Web-only edition. The American Spectator (1/6/06) was so excited about the quote, which it called "the standard populist hatemongering of Latin America's new left leaders," that it presented it as coming from two different speeches:


Venezuela's Chavez in his 2005 Christmas address couldn't resist commenting that "the descendants of those who crucified Christ" own the riches of the world. And on a Dec. 24 visit to the Venezuelan countryside, Chavez stirred up the peasants by claiming that "the world offers riches to all. However, minorities such as the descendants of those who crucified Christ" have become "the owners of the riches of the world."


Then more mainstream outlets began to pick up the story. "Chavez lambasted Jews (in a televised Christmas Eve speech, no less) as 'descendants of those who crucified Christ' and 'a minority [who] took the world's riches for themselves,'" the New York Daily News' Lloyd Grove reported (1/13/06). A column in the Los Angeles Times (1/14/06) used the quote to label Chavez "a jerk and a friend of tyranny." The Wall Street Journal's "Americas" columnist, Mary Anastasia O'Grady (1/16/06), called Chavez’s words "an ugly anti-Semitic swipe.”

One can see why the words attributed to Chavez provoked outrage. After all, descriptions of the Jews as a wealthy minority that "crucified Christ" have been an anti-Semitic stock in trade for centuries. But the criticisms of Chavez almost uniformly used selective, even deceptive editing to remove material that put his words in a different context.

Here's a translation of the full passage from Chavez's speech (VoltaireNet, 1/18/06):


The world has an offer for everybody but it turned out that a few minorities--the descendants of those who crucified Christ, the descendants of those who expelled Bolivar from here and also those who in a certain way crucified him in Santa Marta, there in Colombia--they took possession of the riches of the world, a minority took possession of the planet’s gold, the silver, the minerals, the water, the good lands, the oil, and they have concentrated all the riches in the hands of a few; less than 10 percent of the world population owns more than half of the riches of the world.


The biggest problem with depicting Chavez's speech as an anti-Semitic attack is that Chavez clearly suggested that "the descendants of those who crucified Christ" are the same people as "the descendants of those who expelled Bolivar from here." As American Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who questioned the charge, told the Associated Press (1/5/06), "I know of no one who accuses the Jews of fighting against Bolivar." Bolivar, in fact, fought against the government of King Ferdinand VII of Spain, who reinstituted the anti-Semitic Spanish Inquisition when he took power in 1813. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, a Jewish sympathizer in Curacao provided refuge to Bolivar and his family when he fled from Venezuela.

Most of the accounts attacking Chavez (the Daily Standard was an exception) left the reference to Bolivar out entirely; the Wiesenthal Center deleted that clause from the speech without even offering an ellipsis, which is tantamount to fabrication.

As Waskow further pointed out, in the Gospel accounts, "it was the Roman Empire, and Roman soldiers, who crucified Jesus." While it's true that anti-Semites often accuse Jews of killing Jesus, it's not fair to assert that anyone who refers to the crucifixion of Jesus is attacking the Jewish people.

That Chavez's comments were part of some anti-Semitic campaign is directly contradicted by a letter sent by the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela to the Wiesenthal Center (AP, 1/14/06). "We believe the president was not talking about Jews," the letter stated, complaining that "you have acted on your own, without consulting us, on issues that you don't know or understand." The American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress agreed with the Venezuelan group's view that Chavez was not referring to Jews in his speech (Inter Press Service, 1/13/06).

In context, the Chavez speech seems to be an attempt by Chavez to link the attacks on his populist government to the attacks on his two oft-cited heroes, Jesus and Bolivar; the "minority" that would link the two would be the rich and powerful minority of society. The reference to "less than 10 percent of the world population" owning half the wealth also makes the idea that Chavez was talking about Jews far-fetched; 10 percent of 6 billion would be 600 million people. (According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, there are approximately 15 million Jewish people in the world.)

Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service (1/13/06) pointed out the irony of conservative outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Standard, edited by William Kristol, promoting dubious accusations of anti-Semitism in Latin America:


Kristol's father, Irving Kristol, and the Journal's editorial page to which he contributed, led a public campaign to discredit Argentine publisher Jacobo Timerman when he emerged in 1980 from two-and-a-half years of imprisonment in secret prisons in Argentina claiming that Jews like himself had been systematically singled out for the worst treatment and torture by a military regime whose ideology was as close to Nazism as any since World War II.


Lobe pointed out the difference between Chavez's Venezuela and Argentina under military dictatorship: "Unlike Venezuela today, Argentina was then seen by the incoming Ronald Reagan administration (1981-1989) and its neo-conservative backers as a vital Cold-War ally." Surely anti-Semitism is a problem that deserves to be treated seriously, and not used as a pretense to bash official enemies.

Note: Some readers pointed out that before the Weisenthal Center, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency led the attack on Chavez's speech (12/30/05).
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Anonymous

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#30
Venezuela's Chavez in his 2005 Christmas address couldn't resist commenting that "the descendants of those who crucified Christ" own the riches of the world. And on a Dec. 24 visit to the Venezuelan countryside, Chavez stirred up the peasants by claiming that "the world offers riches to all. However, minorities such as the descendants of those who crucified Christ" have become "the owners of the riches of the world

I think he's an idiot - I reckon it's Saudi Arabia and Japan are the richest.
 
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