Beating Up on Chavez - by Stephen Lendman
Since inaugurated in February 1999, he's faced open US hostility, including by go-along major media scoundrels.
New York Times writer Simon Romero's among them. On January 6, he and William Neuman played both Chavez and Iranian cards headlining, "Increasingly Isolated, Iranian Leader Set to Visit Allies," saying:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visiting "some of the United States' most ardent critics: Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador."
Chavez "is Mr. Ahmadinejad's most vociferous ally in the region." Central University of Venezuela Professor Elsa Cardozo said his visit gave Chavez a chance to "project his own style and radical message. His core supporters are very radical and he doesn't want to lose them."
Indeed they're radical for social justice. Chavez delivers so they support him. Imagine the difference from America. Poverty's unprecedented. Recent Census data show half US households impoverished or bordering on it. Millions have no jobs and can't find one. Homelessness and hunger keep growing. When need's greatest, austerity drives people to the edge.
In contrast, Venezuelans get free education to the highest levels, quality healthcare at no cost, subsidized food, affordable electricity and cooking gas, gasoline at 7 cents a gallon, and other social benefits. Moreover, unemployment's 6%. Homelessness is low. Attention Centers help them. So do rehab facilities to get them productive again.
Venezuela's far from perfect. Problems plague the country, including high inflation and blackouts. However, positive steps are taken to improve things. For example, poverty's half its level since Chavez took office, and deep poverty fell from 25% to 7%. In America's, the world's richest country, it's skyrocketing.
Why? Because the business of America is war and grand theft. People are increasingly on their own sink or swim. Duopoly power governs. Rigged elections defile democratic governance. Banker bailouts, imperial wars, policies favoring wealth and power, and repressive police state laws define their agenda.
In contrast, Chavez wages war on imperialism, poverty, hunger, underdevelopment, and human need. About 60% of Venezuela's annual budgets go for social spending. Emphasis is on healthcare, education, housing, social security, job creation and training, food subsidies, science and technology, agricultural production, culture, community media, direct monthly transfers to poor single mothers, and subsidies for thousands of direct democracy communal councils.
No wonder Venezuelans support him, and why America hates him. His good example exposes its duplicity. Washington calls it a threat.
Last month, Obama addressed the Venezuela/Iran relationship, saying:
"Ultimately, it is up to the Venezuelan people to determine what they gain from a relationship with a country that violates universal human rights and is isolated from much of the world. Here in the Americas, we take Iranian activities, including in Venezuela, very seriously."
He also accused Chavez of "erod(ing) the separation of powers....restrict(ing) the universal rights of the Venezuelan people, threaten(ing) basic democratic values, and fail(ing) to contribute to the security of the region." At the same time, he claimed Washington doesn't "pretend to dictate" policies to sovereign nations.
In response, Chavez called Obama a fraud, an embarrassment. He's that and much more. So is America, the world's leading global bully and human rights abuser.
Besides ravaging the world one country at a time, it created tyranny at home through draconian police state laws. The latest came December 31. It gives presidents diktat power to order US citizens arrested, thrown in military dungeons, and left to rot indefinitely based on spurious terrorism connection charges or none at all.
On January 9, the State Department expelled Venezuela's Miami consul general, Livia Acosta Noguera, on bogus claims about discussing cyber attacks while based in Mexico in 2008. In fact, she was set up, but didn't take the bait.
Nonetheless, a State Department spokesman said the move was taken in accordance with Article 23 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Yet it states:
"1. The sending State and the head of the mission shall be exempt from all national, regional or municipal dues in respect of the premises of the mission, whether owned or leased, other than such as represent payment for specific services rendered."
"2. The exemption from taxation referred to in this article shall not apply to such dues and taxes payable under the law of the receiving State by persons contracting with the sending State or the head of the mission."
How this applies to Noguera wasn't explained. However, four hard-right congressional representatives complained about her. They falsely claimed she discussed attacking US government computer systems with Iranian and Cuban embassy officials and students while serving in Mexico.
They're some of Congress' worst, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R. FL), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R. FL), Rep. David Rivera (R. FL), and Rep. Albio Sires (D. NJ).
Chavez called her expulsion "arbitrary and unjustified," saying it's "another demonstration of the arrogance of ridiculous imperialism."
"She has been accused of I don't know how many things by the US government, and above all, by sectors of the ultra right-wing in Miami, including many Venezuelans who live there, counter-revolutionaries, not all of them, but a small group."
In fact, Noguera's been in Venezuela since December. "We already know this was going to happen, and so she has been in Caracas in order to avoid situations, possibly even dangerous ones."
Former neocon Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs, Roger Noriega, commented through Twitter as follows:
"Chavista terrorist spy consul general Livia Acosta expelled from the United States by the State Department! Acosta has 72 hours to leave the country."
Since Chavez took office, he and government officials faced spurious charges and harassment. In September 2006, in fact, departing Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Madura was prevented from boarding his JFK commercial flight. He was heading home after attending a UN General Assembly meeting.
Allegedly his name was on a "red list." Ordered to surrender his ticket, he was then illegally detained and strip-searched, despite explaining his credentials. It was police state thuggery, a US specialty, even against visiting foreign ministers.
At home, he told reporters that police threatened to handcuff and beat him if he resisted. He was held 90 minutes, denied outside contact, including legal help, before being released.
No wonder Chavez got Noguera home before possible similar mistreatment. Rogue state policies define America, even against diplomatic representatives, world leaders and nonbelligerent nations.
Notably, Washington exploited Latin America for generations. Dismissively it's been called America's "backyard." It's also been a US corporate strategic reserve to plunder freely. No longer. New millennium years brought dramatic changes. James Petras calls the 1990s "the golden age of pillage." That's changed.
Mass movements arose like the Brazilian landless workers. Direct actions challenged traditional policies, including enormous wealth transfers to US banks and other corporate interests.
Centrist or left of center governments were elected in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. To some degree, they asserted independence, especially under Chavez. No wonder he's targeted for regime change.
Notably it's about oil. In 2010, OPEC said Venezuela had proved reserves of 296.5 barrels, surpassing Saudi Arabia's 264.5 barrels. Former Venezuelan National Assembly Commission of Energy and Oil head Luis Acuna said the nation has about trillion in proved reserves.
The US Geological Survey estimates a mean recoverable 513 billion barrels in Venezuela's Orinoco Oil Belt, mainly heavy oil.
By any measure, Venezuela's oil rich. Washington wants it. As a result, Chavez, like Iran, is targeted. Spurious accusations follow. Media scoundrels regurgitate them. Opposition elements get generous funding.
In October, Chavez will stand for reelection. Throughout his tenure, he's been enormously popular. His approval rating hovers around 60%. In October 2011, Bloomberg said IVAD's poll (Institute de Analisis de Data) had him at 71%.
A February open primary will chose his opponent from a rogue's gallery of choices. Former Sumate president, Maria Corina Machado, is among them. Venezuela Analysis calls her "possibly the most right-wing conservative voice" contesting. For years she's been generously funded for being close to Washington.
Her campaign calls for "Popular Capitalism." Chile's Pinochet and Britain's Margaret Thatcher used the same theme. In office, they promoted misery. Whoever runs against Chavez in October will represent wealth and power interests. As a result, expect him to remain in office until 2019, health permitting, and he claims he's recovering well from cancer.
Washington continues war on him. False accusations follow. Expect no letup in 2012, especially with presidential elections in both countries.
America's duopoly offers no choice. Under Chavez, Venezuelans have direct democracy and social justice. Don't expect they'll give them up.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.