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Ever heard of a country called Venezuela?

Now that I have internet access from home, I’ve been checking in with my favorite news sources as well as the ones I love to hate. According to the corporate news media, there’s a “general strike” going on in Venezuela to protest the continuation in office of twice-elected President Hugo Chávez. Perhaps that name rings a bell. Chávez was deposed in a coup in April of this year, only to return to power two days later. At the time, the Bush administration seemed pleased to see Chávez ousted and bummed to see him return.

What’s up with that?

And what’s up with this letter that some Congress-folk just sent to Dubya?

December 13, 2002

Dear Colleagues,

"We, the undersigned organizations and persons, urge you to declare
unequivocally that the government of the United States is opposed to any unconstitutional or coup attempt against the democratically elected
government of Venezuela."

- U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Ohio

- U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Michigan

- U.S. Rep. José Serrano, New York

- U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts

- U.S. Rep. Major Owens, New York

- Al Giordano, journalist, América


They want the Bush administration to say, “Democratic government good. Non-electoral removal of democratically elected government bad.”

Well, duh. Right? It hardly seems credible that the government of the world standard bearer for democracy would take any other position.

Here’s the Bush administration’s official reply to the Congressional concerns:


For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 13, 2002

Statement by the Press Secretary
U.S. Reaffirms Support for OAS Secretary General's Efforts in Venezuela
and Calls for Early Elections

The United States is deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Venezuela. In the past week the shooting of peaceful demonstrators, attacks on television, radio, and newspaper media outlets and disruptions to the Venezuelan economy have created a grave situation. These events have caused great pain and hardship in Venezuela. The Venezuelan people deserve better.

The United States calls on all sides to reject violence and intimidation, and to act responsibly. We urge a peaceful, democratic, constitutional, and politically viable electoral solution to Venezuela's crisis. We reaffirm our support for OAS Secretary General Cesar Gaviria's (remember this name, folks) efforts in Caracas to facilitate such an outcome. Secretary General Gaviria has strong hemispheric support for the dialogue and mediation process that he is chairing, evidenced by the many expressions of support from hemispheric leaders. The United States is actively engaged, working with the OAS and with hemispheric leaders, to help achieve these objectives.

We note the Secretary General's recent public warning on the need to negotiate soon, in the next few days, or risk further polarization that could erupt into violence. We echo the Secretary General, and call on all sides to redouble their commitment to this dialogue and to national reconciliation. We also urge the Government of Venezuela to exercise its constitutional responsibility to respect individual rights and fundamental freedoms, and to adhere to the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
While the hemispheric community and other friends will do all they can to help, only Venezuelans themselves can resolve their own problems. The United States is convinced that the only peaceful and politically viable path to moving out of the crisis is through the holding of early elections.


So, who’s this Cesar Gaviria guy? Well, here’s what Narco News publisher, Al Giordano, has to say about Mr. Gaviria, whom the Bush administration holds in such high esteem:


December 10, 2002
Please Distribute and Publish Widely

A Narco News Breaking News Editorial

Gaviria Should Leave Venezuela

Venezuelan Majority Takes to the Streets, Coup Plotters Hide

By Al Giordano

Permission is granted to anyone to republish this editorial on the condition
that it is published in full, without censorship, and with a link to:

http://www.narconews.com/

These are the hours of immediate history.

As in Eastern Europe 13 years ago, the final defeat of dictatorial power in Venezuela came last night at the doors of its “control rooms” – the TV stations.

On Monday night, the Venezuelan majority - unwilling to allow an upper-class economic coup d’etat that poses dishonestly as a “strike” to unseat its democratically elected government - took to the streets on a scale only seen once before in the nation’s modern history; as they had last April, when they turned back a military coup d’etat.

By early Tuesday morning the masses had every Commercial TV station in the nation surrounded. Their weapons were nonviolent and theatrical: pots, pans, fireworks and thousands of defiant but smiling faces.

Only at one TV installation in one of the outlying provinces - in Maracay State - did the public actually invade the facilities of a station that uses the public airwaves. Everywhere else, including at all the national TV stations in Caracas, immense restraint has been shown by the masses protesting outside of them.

The bluff of the former ruling class and its media – that their top-down imposed sabotage of the Venezuelan economy and oil industry of the past week is somehow a popular “strike” – has been called. The “strike leaders,” including corrupt oil union boss Carlos Ortega, have, in recent hours, disappeared from public view, abandoning their own supporters among the upper classes.

To make sure the coup plotters don’t flee the country, the neighbors of
Simón Bolívar International Airport near Caracas have surrounded the airport as well.

The coup supporters, including the rogue ex-military officials from April’s attack on democracy who in recent days have called unsuccessfully for military coup, promptly abandoned Plaza Altimar last night, their physical base: the public stage they had occupied continuously for the past few weeks.

Confronted with the rising of the more massive and true majority of
Venezuelan Civil Society, the rogue officers and the elite of Caracas have retreated, returning to their homes to watch the conflict on TV as fireworks boom in the air all around them.

Meanwhile, the ostensible “mediator” of the conflict has cynically called for government repression against the peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators assembled outside the TV stations. With that action, Cesar Gaviria has lost any illusory credibility in his aspiration to “mediate” the Venezuelan conflict. He should return to Washington immediately.

Gaviria, Go Home

Gaviria, secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS), has just squandered whatever credibility the organization tenuously had as mediator in the Venezuelan conflict. He should leave Caracas immediately – where he has become a destabilizing force against democracy and constitutional rule - and cease posing as a “mediator” of a power-struggle in which he is, now transparently, a partisan player.

On the very same day – Monday, December 9th – that the permanent council of the Organization of American States (OAS), representing all nations in América, stated that “all the countries of the hemisphere ratify unanimously our support for Venezuelan democracy,” the OAS chairman, in Caracas, showed his contempt for that same Venezuelan democracy and the right of public assembly.

According to the French Press Agency (AFP), Gaviria “condemned” peaceful demonstrations by the Venezuelan people outside of pro-coup TV stations Globovision, Venevision, and other commercial media corporations. The “news coverage” of those media companies in recent days has been at extreme levels of simulation and dishonesty even for them: the people have had enough. Terming the popular assemblies as “acts of intimidation” against a “free press,” Gaviria called upon the Chávez government to use repression against the demonstrators.

“The secretary general of the OAS is deeply worried about the acts of intimidation against the installations of some of the principal media of the country such as Radio Caracas Television, the De Armas Group, Venevision and Globovision,” Gaviria stated through an OAS press release from the posh Melia Hotel in Downtown Caracas, according to AFP.

Gaviria expressed his “condemnation of such acts that put freedom of speech at serious risk,” reported AFP, and made “an urgent call upon the authorities to take immediate action to cease such threats. There can be no doubt that press freedom and free speech are two totally consistent elements with the existence of democratic principles.”

But in calling for government action against the free speech rights of the people to peaceably assemble, Gaviria revealed the false discourse of Power regarding “press freedom.” For Gaviria (and some corporate “press freedom” organizations), the libertinism of a paid press takes priority over the liberty of free speech by all the people. Nothing is more frightening to them – nor more important for Authentic Democracy – than a scenario in which the masses confront this era’s hijacking of the public airwaves by an elite minority.

For the past week, coup supporters demonstrated (as is their right, too) outside of Venezuela's public TV station, without a single word of protest from Gaviria or any "press freedom" organization, and without any repression from the Chávez government. Gaviria certainly did not term those demonstrations as "threats" or call on the State to "cease" them, as he did yesterday against the more popular demonstrations against media simulation.

The Venezuelan people have every right and duty to demonstrate outside of the commercial TV stations. Those media companies backed the failed April 2002 coup d’etat in that country with a big lie that “Chávez Resigned” when twice-elected President Hugo Chávez had not. For the past week, those commercial TV stations have nakedly attempted to provoke another coup by inventing another big lie – parroted by most of the U.S. and English-language press corps – that a management imposed work lockout in some sectors is somehow a “general strike.” Like “Chávez Resigned,” the use of the term “strike” is this week’s big lie; repeated ad nauseam in the hope that it will be believed by the gullible among us.

The problem for the Big Liars is that the Venezuelan majority didn’t buy it. The people – having watched foreign companies like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and British Petroleum lock their workers out for the imposed "strike" while the small neighborhood shopkeepers and businesses remained open – have, in this month of December of 2002, showed the world that “the big lie theory” for controlling public opinion no longer works.

Who the Hell is Cesar Gaviria?

Gaviria, the former Colombian president (1990-1994), was the chief beneficiary of the assassination of popular Colombian presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan, whose elimination cleared the way for the Gaviria presidency. Gaviria was the president who allowed paramilitary death squads to gain a foothold in Colombia. It was Gaviria who sold his nation’s sovereignty to foreign powers and betrayed his own attorney general Gustavo de Greiff, after de Greiff had defied Washington by calling for drug legalization. And it was Gaviria who Washington later installed as secretary-general of the OAS in order to pave the way for Plan Colombia and military intervention in that country.

In recent days, Gaviria has ostensibly been in Venezuela as a “mediator” of the conflict between the oil-soaked oligarchy on one side and the supporters of the Constitutional democracy and the Chávez government on the other.

Washington’s discourse this week has been to feign support for democracy in Venezuela (while Spaniard intelligence operatives from Europe handled the hands-on dirty work of this most recent coup attempt) by making proclamations of support for Gaviria as mediator.

Now that Gaviria has called for State repression against the peaceful assemblies spreading like wildfire tonight throughout Venezuela, the true goals of this US-backed act of “Mediation Theater” are obvious to all reasonable observers. This was an attempted coup in strike's clothing.

Foreign powers and billionaire economic interests tried to fix the game by installing their own referee, Cesar Gaviria, in Caracas. But he’s not an umpire or referee. He’s a player for the team that has now lost the contest, an advocate for destabilization and repression, and it is time for Gaviria to get the hell out of the stadium.

The only possible “mediator” of this dispute cannot be the commercial media nor foreign interests: It is, and will be, the Venezuelan people who now make the calls.


What to make of all that? What do you think?

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
dubpulse
Dec. 17th, 2002 08:56 pm (UTC)
Ah yes, business as usual for Bush and the Black Gold posse....

South America, to me, is one of the more interesting possible sources of opposition to Bush and his cronies. It's a continent that is fed up with corruption and coups and tortures and drug wars and IMF/World Bank economic plans. I think there are a lot of people, especially young people, who are fed up. There is a lot of potential opposition to corporate policies and US hegemony (like the recent Brazilian elections). And the Arab/Terrorist/Fanatic/Muslim bogeyman can't really be used there can it?

Though, of course, there's always the drug card to play. (Ah yes, those despicable dope-peddling South Americans). But I don't think even that lie can really hold up under the weight of it's own corruption either. Not if people continue to move to dismantle the War on Drugs and institute a saner drug policy.

Interesting times ahead... that's for sure. My only hope for the future, really, is to see the people in the US start to become more vocal and more informed. They could make their leaders answer for the more despicable policies they engage in. I'm sure they could.... or at least one hopes....
che23
Dec. 17th, 2002 09:26 pm (UTC)
I don't have the energy to read all of this now but I will come back to it. As soon as the OAS was mentioned my suspicions were arroused. The US has been attempting to "conquer" South America for the past two hundred years you would think they would have given up by now. Well more later when I read more.

(v)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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