Sunday, February 20, 2005

Feb 20/05 - On a paranoid need to seek confrontation with the US

PMBComment: Andy Grove, founder and former CEO of Intel, wrote a book
called "Only the paranoid survive", Hugo Chavez probably never read
it, but he understands that a confrontation with Bush gives him a
bigger pulpit and a wider safety net. By painting himself in the role
of potential victim and martyr, he hopes to neuter and shame the US.
This worn ploy has worked for decades for his mentor Fidel Castro. In
order for it to be successful again, one would have to assume that the
Bush administration is indeed impermeable to the lessons of history.
Anyone taking bets? PMB (pro-government Web site)

"U.S. is Preparing New Aggressions"
Venezuela's Chavez Accuses U.S. Government of Considering his Assassination

Sunday, Feb 20, 2005 Print format

By: Cleto A. Sojo -

Caracas, Venezuela. Feb 20, 2004 ( Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez denounced that the U.S. government is preparing
"new aggressions" against him and against the Venezuelan people.
"Before the world, before our people, before the Latin American
people, and before the people of North America, for whom we have
respect, I accuse the government of the United States of continuing
their aggressions against Venezuela," he said during his weekly live
TV show.

"The U.S. government has crashed in Venezuela, and will continue to
crash as many times as they want," Chavez said in reference to alleged
past attempts by the U.S. to remove him from power.

The mercurial Venezuelan leader has repeatedly accused the U.S.
government of trying to oust him. Scattered evidence has linked the
U.S. government to the 2002 coup d'etat against Chavez, and the U.S.
financed opposition groups in Venezuela through the National Endowment
for Democracy. Last August, twice-elected Chavez won a referendum on
his rule, which was largely organized by groups that receive funds
from the U.S. government.

The U.S. government publicly criticizes the democratically-elected
leader, accusing him of undermining democracy. CIA Director Porter
Goss recently said that Chavez "is consolidating his power by using
technically legal tactics to target his opponents and meddling in the

"Assassination an option"

Chavez explicitly said that the U.S. government is considering his
assassination as one of the options to get rid of him. "They know they
cannot stage a coup d'etat, they know that there is no Pinochet here
because we have generals, commanders and soldiers who are patriots,
and who will not bend their knees before the U.S. empire, they know
that there is a people with conscience which they will not be able to
confuse through the media they control." he said.

"They know that the latest polls give Chavez a 70% approval rating.
They know that in the upcoming 2006 elections, Chavez is
undefeatable," he continued.

"They failed with the coup, with the economic sabotage... they know
the Bolivarian project advances victorious in the social arena, they
know the impact of the missions (social programs), they know how the
economy is growing, that we are recovering our economic sovereignty,
and they know that Venezuela is a world power when it comes to oil and
gas. They know all that," he added.

"U.S. failed to isolate Venezuela"

The leftist president cited the resolution of the recent diplomatic
crisis with Colombia over the kidnapping of a Colombian guerrilla
leader, as an example of the U.S. failure to isolate Venezuela in the
region. The U.S. asked several Latin American countries to pressure
Chavez during the dispute, a request that was either ignored or
rejected. "The U.S. was left alone once again... They should know that
in spite of their pressures and their attempts at blackmailing, they
will not be able to isolate Venezuela from our sister countries in
Latin America and the Caribbean, they will not be able to isolate us,"
Chavez said.

Chavez hinted at a continent-wide rebellion in case he is
assassinated. "As a group of Latin American workers and indigenous
leaders told me recently, 'if something happens to you, we, who are
making an effort here to push our forces through democratic channels,
will assume that those rules no longer apply.'" Chavez assured Bush
that he did not wish for that to happen, for President Bush's own good
and for the good of the U.S. population. "But [if that happens] the
flame will not only arise in Venezuela, but throughout the peoples of
the Americas, so think about it twice comrade Bush," he said.

The leader said that "U.S. imperialism would bite the dust" in case of
an invasion to Venezuela. "Mr. Bush and his advisors think that by
killing Chavez, there will be a popular rebellion, the Marines will
come, the Venezuela people will give up, and the Venezuelan Armed
Forces will accept the invasion. They are wrong on that," he said.

Venezuela says it is buying Super Tucano propeller planes from Brazil
to patrol its jungle and its borders, where Colombian insurgents
frequently operate.

Counting on revenues from high oil prices and an explosive economic
growth, the Venezuelan government recently approved the purchase of 40
helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles from Russia, and some
propeller-powered "Tucano" light attack planes from Brazil, a move
that has been seen as a preparation against a possible attack or
attempts at destabilizing Venezuela. The recent killings of Venezuelan
soldiers during confrontations with Colombian irregular forces,
frequent kidnappings near the Colombian border, the discovery of a
Colombian paramilitary camp in Caracas, have been cited by the
government as a justification for the arms purchase to renew
Venezuela's aging military equipment.

Chavez also threatened with the interruption of the flow of oil to the
U.S. in case he is assassinated. "If these perverse plans succeed, Mr.
Bush can forget about Venezuelan oil... Forget about it Mr. Bush," he
said. "Here in Venezuela, either there is fatherland for all, or there
is no fatherland for anybody."

Preparing the terrain

He accused the U.S. government of preparing the terrain for a possible
intervention in Venezuela. "As anyone who studies the behavior of the
U.S. empire during the last century discovers a common factor; every
time the U.S. are going to attack someone, they don't do it right
away, they start by preparing the terrain of their internal public
opinion, one of the things that worries them the most. Look at the
example of Iraq; there was a campaign against Saddam Hussein, accusing
him of having chemical weapons, accusing him of being a menace, by
presenting evidence that resulted to be false, to justify the
aggression. That way, when the launch the attack, they obtain the
support of a big part of their internal public opinion. Almost all
media in the country support them... they look for allies in Europe,
from the U.N., they start preparing the terrain, and their current
aggression are part of this campaign."

U.S. right-leaning news network Fox News, recently ran a series titled
"The Iron Fist of Hugo Chavez," in which Chavez is portrayed as a
dictator who uses violence to stay in power, and invests the country's
oil revenue in weapons, instead of helping the poor. U.S. media
frequently refer to Chavez as a "strong-man," in spite of his multiple
electoral victories certified by foreign observers.

Chavez went on to enumerate recent comments by U.S. officials
characterizing him as a menace, which he and other officials describe
as an intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela. Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice, Assistant Secretary of State for Western
Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega, Deputy Secretary of State Robert
Zoellick, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc
Grossman, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and CIA director Porter Goss,
have made public statements criticizing Chavez.

He said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is trying to
personalize the conflict. "They do not address the Venezuelan
government, but just Hugo Chavez, in order to personalize the
conflict. She said that Hugo Chavez is a threat for the continent, for
democracy and for peace," Chavez added.

"Instability would only come from Washington"

With regard to CIA Director Goss' recent characterization of Venezuela
as a "potentially unstable country in 2005," Chavez said that given
the economic growth of Venezuela, which economy expanded by 17.3% in
2004, any instability that may occur is being planned by Washington.
"He [Goss] acknowledged that the Venezuelan president is consolidating
his power by using technically legal tactics to target his opponents
and meddling in the region."

According to Chavez, two years ago Bush, using the excuse of fighting
terror, gave the CIA once again a green light to kill anybody
"wherever, and whenever, like Agent 007, even world leaders who are
considered a threat," he said.

"Don't make the mistake Mr. Bush, of ordering my assassination,
because you will regret it. Be assured that this people will make you
regret it. Not only this people, but many others around the world,
because the time of cowards is over, Mr. Bush, because in this era we
are living, peoples are rising everywhere, and there is no imperialism
however powerful they are or believe they are, that could stop the
awakening of the peoples that is occurring at the beginning of the
21st century," he added.

The Venezuelan leader has criticized U.S. military interventions
throughout the world, and its alleged lack of commitment to policies
that would prevent radical environmental changes. Today he went on to
say that U.S. government advisers and planners are "not only planning
the death of the world, but are executing it. They are killing the
world, our world, and our grandchildren's world ," he said.

U.S. policy towards Latin America has been the focus of criticisms by
some analysts and politicians. U.S. Democratic Senator Christopher J.
Dodd recently hinted that the Bush administration was unnecessarily
straining bilateral relations with Venezuela. At the confirmation
hearing of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Dodd urged her to
take a more moderate tone with Chavez "This is an important
relationship, it's important in the hemisphere. We need to work at
it," Dodd said. Rice had said that the government of Venezuela is a
negative force in the region.

Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee hinted at Secretary Rice that it
might be hypocritical for the U.S. to treat some undemocratic leaders
such as Pakistan's Musharraf with respect, while offending
democratically elected ones such as Chavez. He highlighted Chavez's
recent victory at a recall referendum. Chafee told Rice, "It seems to
me to say derogatory things about him may be disrespectful to him, but
also to the Venezuelan people." Rice denied making derogatory comments
about Chavez, who in turn has called her "illiterate" when it comes to
knowing about Venezuela. "They have spoken," Chafee said in reference
to the Venezuelan people and the recall referendum.

Some observers characterize the current U.S. policy towards as
misguided, and too centered on Cuba. Roger Noriega, and former special
envoy to Latin America Otto Reich, have been accused of giving the
U.S. a bad image in Latin America with their aggressive foreign

Venezuela's Foreign Relations Minister, Ali Rodriguez, recently said
that Venezuela wants to improve relations with the U.S. "In order to
be able to maintain a constructive relationship, it is absolutely
necessary and imperative to respect the sovereignty and the right to
self-determination of other countries," Rodriguez said.