by Mike Whitney
January 2, 2011
In late November, Venezuela was hammered by torrential rains and flooding
that left 35 people dead and roughly 130,000 homeless.
George Bush had been president, instead of Hugo Chavez,
the displaced people would have been shunted off at gunpoint to makeshift
prison camps - like the Superdome - as they were following Hurricane
But that's not the way Chavez works.
The Venezuelan president quickly passed
"enabling" laws which gave him special powers to provide emergency aid and
housing to flood victims. Chavez then cleared out the presidential palace
and turned it into living quarters for 60 people, which is the equivalent of
turning the White House into a homeless shelter. The disaster victims are
now being fed and taken care of by the state until they can get back on
their feet and return to work.
The details of Chavez's efforts have been largely omitted in the US media
where he is regularly demonized as a "leftist strongman" or a dictator.
The media refuses to acknowledge that Chavez has
narrowed the income gap, eliminated illiteracy, provided health care for all
Venezuelans, reduced inequality, and raised living standards across he
board. While Bush and
Obama were expanding their foreign wars
and pushing through tax cuts for the rich, Chavez was busy improving the
lives of the poor and needy while fending off the latest wave of US
Washington despises Chavez because he is unwilling to hand over Venezuela's
vast resources to corporate elites and bankers.
That's why the Bush administration tried to
depose Chavez in a failed coup attempt in 2002, and that's why the
smooth-talking Obama continues to launch covert attacks on Chavez today.
Washington wants regime change so it can install a puppet who will hand over
Venezuela's reserves to big oil while making life hell for working people.
Recently released documents from
WikiLeaks show that the Obama administration has stepped up its
meddling in Venezuela's internal affairs.
Here's an excerpt from a
recent post by attorney
and author, Eva Golinger:
"In a secret document authored by current
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs,
Craig Kelly, and sent by the US Embassy in Santiago in June 2007 to
the Secretary of State, CIA and Southern Command of the Pentagon, along
with a series of other US embassies in the region, Kelly proposed 'six
main areas of action for the US government (USG) to limit Chavez's
influence' and 'reassert US leadership in the region'."
Kelly, who played a primary role as
"mediator" during last year's coup d'etat in Honduras against President
Manuel Zelaya, classifies President Hugo Chavez as an "enemy" in his
"Know the enemy: We have to better
understand how Chavez thinks and what he intends...To effectively
counter the threat he represents, we need to know better his objectives
and how he intends to pursue them. This requires better intelligence in
all of our countries".
Further on in the memo, Kelly confesses that
President Chavez is a "formidable foe", but, he adds, "he certainly can
(Wikileaks: Documents Confirm US Plans
Against Venezuela, Eva Golinger, Postcards from the Revolution)
The State Department cables show that Washington
has been funding anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela through non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) that pretend to be working for civil liberties, human
rights or democracy promotion.
These groups hide behind a facade of legitimacy,
but their real purpose is to topple the democratically elected Chavez
government. Obama supports this type of subversion just as enthusiastically
as did Bush. The only difference is the Obama team is more discreet.
Here's another clip from Golinger with some of
the details on the money-trail:
"In Venezuela, the US has been supporting
anti-Chavez groups for over 8 years, including those that executed the
coup d’etat against President Chavez in April 2002. Since then, the
funding has increased substantially.
A May 2010 report evaluating foreign
assistance to political groups in Venezuela, commissioned by the
National Endowment for Democracy, revealed that more than $40 million
USD annually is channeled to anti-Chavez groups, the majority from US
Venezuela stands out as the Latin American nation where NED has most
invested funding in opposition groups during 2009, with $1,818,473 USD,
more than double from the year before... Allen Weinstein, one of NED’s
original founders, revealed once to the Washington Post, 'What we do
today was done clandestinely 25 years ago by the CIA…'”
(America's Covert "Civil Society
Operations": US Interference in Venezuela Keeps Growing", Eva Golinger,
On Monday, the Obama administration revoked the
visa of Venezuela’s ambassador to Washington in retaliation for Chávez’s
rejection of nominee Larry Palmer as American ambassador in Caracas.
Palmer has been openly critical of Chavez saying
there were clear ties between members of the Chavez administration and
leftist guerrillas in neighboring Colombia. It's a roundabout way of
accusing Chavez of terrorism.
Even worse, Palmer's background and personal
history suggest that his appointment might pose a threat to Venezuela's
Consider the comments of James Suggett of
Venezuelanalysis on Axis of Logic:
"Take a look at Palmer's history, working
with the U.S.-backed oligarchs in the Dominican Republic, Uruguay,
Paraguay, and Sierra Leone, South Korea, Honduras, 'promoting the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).'
Just as the U.S. ruling class appointed an
African-American, Barack Obama to replace George W. Bush with everything
else intact, Obama in turn, appoints Palmer to replace Patrick Duddy who
was involved in the attempted coup against President Chávez in 2002 and
an enemy of Venezuelans throughout his term as U.S. Ambassador to
Venezuela is already crawling with US spies and
saboteurs. They don't need any help from agents working inside the embassy.
Chavez did the right thing by giving Palmer the thumbs down.
The Palmer nomination is just "more of the same"; more interference, more
subversion, more trouble-making.
The State Dept was largely responsible for all
of the so-called color-coded revolutions in,
...all of which were cookie cutter, made-for-TV events that
pitted the interests of wealthy capitalists against those of the elected
Hillary's throng want to try the same
strategy in Venezuela.
It's up to Chavez to stop them, which is why
he's pushed through laws that,
"regulate, control or prohibit foreign
funding for political activities".
It's the only way he can defend against US
meddling and protect Venezuelan sovereignty. Chavez is also using his new
powers to reform the financial sector.
Here's an excerpt from an article titled
"Venezuelan National Assembly Passes Law Making Banking a
"Venezuela's National Assembly on Friday
approved new legislation that defines banking as an industry “of public
service,” requiring banks in Venezuela to contribute more to social
programs, housing construction efforts, and other social needs while
making government intervention easier when banks fail to comply with
The new law protects bank customers’ assets
in the event of irregularities on the part of owners... and stipulates
that the Superintendent of Banking Institutions take into account the
best interest of bank customers - and not only stockholders... when
making any decisions that affect a bank’s operations."
So why isn't Obama doing the same thing? Is he
too afraid of real change or is he just Wall Street's lackey?
Here's more from the same article:
"In an attempt to control speculation, the
law limits the amount of credit that can be made available to
individuals or private entities by making 20% the maximum amount of
capital a bank can have out as credit.
The law also limits the formation of
financial groups and prohibits banks from having an interest in
brokerage firms and insurance companies.
The law also stipulates that 5% of pre-tax profits of all banks be
dedicated solely to projects elaborated by communal councils. 10% of a
bank's capital must also be put into a fund to pay for wages and
pensions in case of bankruptcy.
According to 2009 figures provided by Softline Consultores, 5% of
pre-tax profits in Venezuela's banking industry last year would have
meant an additional 314 million bolivars, or $73.1 million dollars, for
social programs to attend the needs of Venezuela’s poor majority."
"Control speculation"? Now there's a novel idea.
Naturally, opposition leaders are calling the
new laws "an attack on economic liberty", but that's pure baloney.
Chavez is merely protecting the public from the
predatory practices of
bloodthirsty bankers. Most Americans wish that Obama would do the same
According to the
Wall Street Journal,
"Chávez has threatened to expropriate large
banks in the past if they don't increase loans to small-business owners
and prospective home buyers, this time he is increasing the pressure
publicly to show his concern for the lack of sufficient housing for
Venezuela's 28 million people."
Caracas suffers from a massive housing shortage
that's gotten much worse because of the flooding.
Tens of thousands of people need shelter now,
which is why Chavez is putting pressure on the banks to lend a hand. Of
course, the banks don't want to help so they've slipped into crybaby mode.
But Chavez has shrugged off their whining and
put them "on notice".
In fact, on Tuesday, he issued this terse
"Any bank that slips up… I'm going to
expropriate it, whether it's Banco Provincial, or Banesco or Banco
Nacional de Crédito."
Bravo, Hugo. In Chavez's Venezuela the basic
needs of ordinary working people take precedent over the profiteering of
Is it any wonder why Washington hates him?