Venezuela: The Bush and oil factors
A long but detailed account of destabilisation and coup making
used by the US. Complete article at:
Friday, January 23, 2004 by: Karen Talbot
International Center for Justice & Peace director Karen Talbot
writes: The power elite in the United States has never been happy
with democratically-elected Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias,
but it took the Bush administration to turn up the heat against
Matters reached a boiling point in April 2002 with the coup d'etat
against Chavez Frias which surprisingly lasted only two days as
millions of Venezuelan poor came to his defense.
Many of the details about the ousting of Chavez Frias and his
replacement by corporate mogul Pedro Carmona Estanga, during those
48 hours, have yet to be sleuthed out, but key evidence implicating
Bush and his cohorts has already accumulated.
The primary clues are revealed in the repeated criticisms of Chavez
Frias by Washington -- echoed in the commercial media -- and its
immediate virtual endorsement of the Carmona regime by its failure
to condemn the coup. In this stance, the US stood alone. The
unmistakable backdrop behind the US position is Venezuela's status
as the 4th largest oil-exporting country in the world, and currently
the third largest source of US oil imports.
"Venezuela is a major cash cow for Phillips Petroleum and ExxonMobil.
Chevron Texaco and Occidental Petroleum are two other major oil
companies with interests in Venezuela and Colombia."
The mantra of complaints against Chavez Frias who had been elected
in record landslide votes in 1998 and 2000, included his Bolivarian
reforms to "take from the rich and give to the poor;" his refusal
to allow US planes to fly over Venezuelan territory for its war in
Colombia; his opposition to the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas
(FTAA); and his leadership in OPEC where he works for a fairer deal
for Venezuela and other oil-producing countries by pushing up oil
prices. (In the process, Venezuela dropped below Canada, Saudi
Arabia, and Mexico in supplying oil to the US). Also particularly
rankling to the Bush administration with its abundance of right-wing
Cubans, is Chavez Frias' sale of oil to Cuba in exchange for medical
Venezuela has been receiving about half of its revenues from the
state owned Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). So providing more for
the country's poor multitudes necessarily meant maximizing the gains
from Venezuela's rich national resource, oil. This entailed altering
the 60-year-old agreement with foreign oil companies "that charges
them as little as one percent in royalties," plus handing them huge
tax breaks, according to the London Guardian. The giant transnational
oil corporations and business interests, coveting all that black
gold, had far different plans. Not surprisingly, the PDVSA figured
heavily in all the intrigue and machinations leading to the coup.
"Opposition business leaders have said openly that they want to
depose Chavez Frias "so they can boost oil production or even
privatize the country's cash cow [PDVSA] ... they have been enraged
.. over Chavez Frias' efforts to take resources from the rich to
aid the poor, who represent 80% of the population," says Newsday
writer, Letta Tayler.
As he donned his Presidential sash (ordered months before from
Spain) and dined sumptuously with his co-conspirators, the 48-hour
usurper, Carmona, moved almost instantaneously to turn around Chavez
Frias' Bolivarian policies and consolidate what amounts to an
"oiligarchy." Within 48 hours, he dissolved the parliament and the
supreme court, dismissed all mayors and governors, stopped the
shipment of oil to Cuba, and started a massive wave of repression
across the country. But there is more...
THE GOAL: PRIVATIZATION OF VENEZUELA'S OIL
According to an article in Proceso by Aram Ruben Aharonian, private
investigations revealed that one of the moves of the 48-hour coup
leaders was "the privatization of PDVSA, turning it over to a US
company linked to President George Bush and the Spanish company
Repsol; plus the sale of CITGO, the US subsidiary of PDVSA, to
Gustavo Cisneros and his partners in the north: as well as an end
to the Venezuelan government's exclusive subsoil rights."
and the future....
Since the aborted coup the campaign to topple Chavez Frias has been
redoubled. Le Monde diplomatique described the likely scenario for
"[T]here will be a coalition of the well-to-do, bringing together
the Catholic Church (represented mainly by Opus Dei), the financial
oligarchy, the employers' organizations, the bourgeoisie and corrupt
trade union leaderships -- all repackaged as "civil society." The
owners of major media will collude ... to support the campaigns
that they will each launch against the President, in the name of
defending that "civil society." The media will function as a factory
of lies and will fire public opinion with facile slogans: "Chavez
is a dictator" -- even though the country has not one single political
prisoner ... the media will yell the message that "Chavez must go...
"[T]he press and TV will brandish terms --"the people, democracy,
liberty" etc. They will mobilize street demonstrations and any
attempt by the government to criticize them will be immediately
described as "a serious assault on freedom of expression," to be
reported to relevant international organizations ... they will
revive the insurrectional strike and encourage ideas of a coup and
an assault on the presidential palace...
"[W]ith renewed ferocity and remarkable impunity the Venezuelan
media currently uses lies and disinformation in the biggest ever
destabilization campaign against a democratically-elected government.
Since the world hardly seems to care, the media hopes that this
time it will succeed in committing the perfect crime.
These US covert operations, destabilizations, and military interventions
are escalating under the Bush administration as it targets a long
list of "evildoer" nations. Hundreds of millions of poor and working
people around the world have no chance to better their conditions
so long as such pro-corporate, globalization, and imperial policies
continue. Workers and the great majority of people in the United
States, working in unity and coalition, have the greatest responsibility
and the greatest possibility to put an end to those anti-democratic,
fascistic, war-making and terrorist policies which also do great
harm to multitudes in the US.
* Karen Talbot is Director of the International Center for Justice
& Peace and a member of the Executive Committee of the World Peace
Council. Read the complete article at: