by Stephen Lendman
Since taking office in February 1999, Chavez has been Washington's number one Latin American enemy.
He worries US officials for good reason. He's a powerful threat. He represents a good example. Venezuela's social democracy shames America's. Bolivarianism works.
So does its political system. Elections are open, free and fair. US electoral politics lack legitimacy. Democracy is moribund. Candidates are pre-selected. Big money owns them. Key outcomes are predetermined. Duopoly power runs everything.
On October 7, Venezuelans again head to the polls. Chavez seeks reelection. He remains overwhelmingly popular. Washington dreads the idea of having him around for another six years.
Anti-Chavista rhetoric and accusations are heating up. So far it hasn't matched former New York Times Caracas correspondent Simon Romero.
On August 22, 2010, he headlined "Venezuela, More Deadly Than Iraq, Wonders Why." He outrageously reported more 2009 violent deaths under Chavez than in Iraq's war-torn cities. He claimed "Venezuelans have absorbed such grim statistics for years."
No respectable publication should run these type columns. Venezuela is no war zone. Until becoming The Times Brazil correspondent, Romero misreported there for years.
After succeeding him in Caracas, so does William Neuman. More on him below.
A Times profile said Chavez replaced Castro as America's main regional bete noire. He's Washington's "leading (Latin American) opponent...."
Spurious accusations followed. Among others they include drug trafficking, collaborating with Colombian "rebels," human rights violations, alleged electoral fraud, state-sponsored and other forms of violence, authoritarianism, communication "hegemony," and petro-diplomacy for selling oil to America's enemies.
Each year, the State Department publishes human rights reports for over 190 countries. Its latest on Venezuela continues America's war on Chavez.
Spurious accusations include:
• electoral irregularities;
• partisan state-owned media misreporting;
• concentrated executive power;
• economic and property rights restrictions;
• human rights abuses;
• impeding free expression;
• criminalizing dissent;
• harassing and intimidating private media;
• politically motivated killings and summary executions;
• lack of judicial independence;
• failure to provide due process rights;
• torture and other abuses;
• political prisoners;
• violence against women;
• anti-Semitism; and
• human trafficking.
These and similar charges are baseless. They describe America, not Venezuela. They misportray a socially democratic state.
It shames its northern neighbor. They're constitutional, political, economic, and social worlds apart. Americans can't imagine rights afforded all Venezuelans.
They're constitutionally guaranteed. More on them below.
Heated Anti-Chavez Rhetoric
Donald Rumsfeld once compared him to Hitler. Diplomatic terrorism continues. Washington funds opposition groups and candidates. Destabilizing Venezuela and ousting Chavez is policy.
He's accused of not cooperating with America's war on terror. He's vilified for opposing its imperium. Obama criticizes his human rights record and relations with US enemies. Iran, Cuba and others are named.
Chavez said Obama turned America "into a disaster." He called him a "clown." He once referred to Bush as "the devil."
Some US officials call Chavez a threat to American security. He's labeled a dictator, strongman, commandante, and anti-American tyrant. Media scoundrels target him often.
William Neuman's latest article headlined "Venezuela Is Cocaine Hub Despite Its Claims," saying:
"Colombian guerrilla(s)" turned "Venezuela's vast western plains....into one of the world's busiest transit hubs for the movement of cocaine to the United States...."
It shows "the government's triumphant claims are vastly overstated." Colombian traffickers operate "with surprising latitude...."
"For years, (Washington) has been working with 'friendly governments' in Colombia, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and (elsewhere) in Latin America, spending billions of dollars to disrupt the flow of drugs northward."
These countries facilitate drug trafficking. Colombia and Mexico especially are heavily involved. Chavez impressively fights back. An Anti-Drug Fund spends millions of dollars annually. Community prevention projects were established. Eradicating illicit drugs is policy.
Venezuela signed numerous international cooperation agreements. Accusations about facilitating the transit of drugs are spurious. Venezuelan officials call it a form of US aggression.
Combatting drugs includes "the widest policy of international cooperation...."
In contrast, Venezuelan authorities call the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) "an international drug trafficking cartel" for good reason.
For decades, the CIA trafficked heavily in drugs. It still does, perhaps more than ever. In his book "Dark Alliance," Gary Webb exposed it. So did Peter Dale Scott in his books. They include “Drugs, Oil and War.” Earlier he wrote:
"Since at least 1950 there has been a global CIA-drug connection operating more or less continuously."
It relates to numerous "deep events" like JFK's assassination, the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, Iran-Contra, and CIA's involvement with the mob.
"The global drug connection is not just a lateral connection between CIA field operatives and their drug-trafficking contacts. It is more significantly a global financial complex of hot money uniting prominent business, financial and government as well as underworld figures."
It's "indirect empire (subverts) existing government." Wall Street and other major banks launder drug profits. Amounts involved are enormous. Estimates exceed 0 billion annually.
Venezuela spends millions annually fighting trafficking. Washington facilitates it.
NYT contributor Francisco Toro often vilifies Chavez. On July 19, he headlined "Chavez, Communication Hegemon," saying:
He targets private media with "extremist propaganda..." He "use(s) the power of the state to keep dissenting voices off the air for good."
Dominant Venezuelan media operate freely. They criticize Chavez harshly. Free expression is constitutionally guaranteed. In America, it's fast eroding.
On July 12, Toro headlined "The Contradictions of Chavez's Politics," saying:
In October, "Chavez faces his most serious (electoral) test." In fact, he holds an overwhelming near two-to-one lead in recent polls. He's virtually sure to be reelected. Venezuelans won't tolerate returning to the bad old days.
Toro claims the election "is a dead heat." He called Chavez "autocrat(ic and) jittery." He "disdain(s)," democracy, he said.
His opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski is Washington's man in Caracas. He represents money power, neoliberal extremism, and pre-Chavez harshness.
Toro called him "an energetic, young governor who's worked hard to establish himself as a post-ideological solutions guy."
Venezuelans overwhelmingly reject him for good reason. They want no part of extremist right-wing governance. They want Bolivarianism preserved. They value constitutional provisions mandating it.
Its Preamble "establish(ed) a democratic, participatory and self-reliant, multiethnic and multicultural society in a just, federal and decentralized State that embodies the values of freedom, independence, peace, solidarity, the common good, the nation's territorial integrity, comity and the rule of law for this and future generations."
It also "guarantees the right to life, work, learning, education, social justice and equality, without discrimination or subordination of any kind; promotes peaceful cooperation among nations and further strengthens Latin American integration in accordance with the principle of nonintervention and national self-determination of the people, the universal and indivisible guarantee of human rights, the democratization of imitational society, nuclear disarmament, ecological balance and environmental resources as the common and inalienable heritage of humanity...."
Before Chavez, Venezuela was authoritarian, neoliberal and harsh. Poverty and deprivation were extreme. Previous governments paid lip service to fundamental rights and needs. Now they're mandated by law.
They're impressive by any standard. They include free healthcare, education, and other essential services. State resources provide them. America's go largely for militarism, imperial wars, banker handouts, and other benefits for corporate favorites.
Imperial priorities and profiteering come at the expense of growing poverty, unemployment, homelessness, hunger, and other unmet needs.
Police state harshness enforces the message on non-believers. Scoundrel media substitute misinformation for real news, information, commentary and analysis.
Venezuela's Constitution Article 58 mandates "timely, true, and impartial" information "without censorship, in accordance with the principles of this constitution."
All Venezuelans are enfranchised equally from birth. Article 56 states they "have the right to be registered free of charge with the Civil Registry Office after birth, and to obtain public documents constituting evidence of the biological identity, in accordance with law."
In America, voting rights vary by state. Millions of citizens are wrongly declared ineligible. Others are fraudulently stricken from polls. Black and Latino voters are marginalized.
Electoral fraud is rampant. Free, fair, and open elections don't exist. Corporate owned/programmed electronic voting machines control the process. Ordinary people are shut out.
Venezuela established participatory democracy. Citizen assemblies were created. Constitutional provisions mandate fundamental freedoms, prohibit discrimination, and guarantee indigenous rights.
Four types of direct democracy national referenda were established. Americans have none outside occasional largely non-binding state and local ones. Venezuela's include:
(1) consultative: for popular, non-binding votes on "national transcendent" issues like trade agreements.
(2) recall: binding on all elected officials up to the president.
(3) approving: binding to approve laws, constitutional amendments, and treaties relating to national sovereignty.
(4) rescinding: to rescind or change existing laws.
Referenda can be initiated by the National Assembly, the President, or by petition from 10 - 20% of registered voters. Different procedural requirements apply for each.
Other mandated rights include social, family, cultural, educational, economic, environmental, and Citizen Power organs.
They're charged with "preventing, investigating and punishing actions that undermine public ethics and administrative morals, to assure lawful sound management of public property....(to help) create citizenship, together with solidarity, freedom, democracy, social responsibility, work" and more.
Other provisions cover issues important to all Venezuelans. They're directly involved in how their government is run.
Americans have no say whatever. The contrast is stark and dramatic. Both nations are constitutional worlds apart. Daily life shows it.
Venezuelans won't tolerate US-style government. Why should anyone have to put up with it?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
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.