[to find out more, visit the rampART (www.rampart.co.nr) this week during Venezuela Solidarity Week for talks, films, food, and art (see www.thenewagenda.org for programme)]
Below is an article from a right wing american publication which gives some idea of the propaganda being released to path the way for US intervention...
By Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | January 9, 2004
THE FLIGHTS FROM HAVANA GO TO RAMP NUMBER 4 at Maiquetia Airport 25 miles from downtown Caracas, a ramp re-designated for military use by Venezuela’s Marxist President Hugo Chavez and exempt from the usual customs controls or inspections.
On September 29 alone, six flights brought 950 Cubans, mostly males in their 30s and 40s. These “Cubans travel without caring about their belongings, which are loaded directly from the planes to the trucks of the mayor’s offices,” reported the journal El Universal on November 18. “The load is guarded by National Guard officers.”
In this nation that once had a free press, the tightening grip of the Chavez dictatorship has forbidden the photographing of this airport influx of operatives from his friend Fidel Castro’s Communist police state.
“The use of TV cameras as well as the presence of journalists from any mass media is prohibited,” reported El Universal. “Nevertheless, a few photojournalists have managed to catch images from landings, defeating security controls.”
Between September 26 and October 27, this journal reports from its sources that 11,530 Cubans arrived in Venezuela on 76 such flights. Chavez’s seizure of one television station and threats against the rest of the press have reduced such critical news coverage of his regime.
Facing potential recall by voters, Chavez has also taken personal dictatorial control of the state-run oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (Pdvsa), and since then its many aircraft have also been ferrying an unknown number of Cuban operatives into his turbulent nation.
[The United States in 2003 imported 62.9 percent of all our oil from foreign nations. Our fourth biggest oil supplier, from which we purchased 1.16 million barrels per day (bpd) at prices inflated by its political instability, was Venezuela via Pdvsa. (Our top three foreign suppliers were Saudi Arabia, 1.76 bpd, and next-door neighbors Mexico, 1.57 bpd, and Canada, 1.53 bpd.)]
These Cubans are officially welcomed as health care workers, educators and helpers by the Chavez government. But many of them, as an October 6 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies indicated, are “Cuban intelligence officers” who have been embedded in key sectors of the Venezuelan Government, including its computer data processing, military, oil production, and political police (DISIP).
What is clearly underway under our noses is the subversion and takeover of a second Latin American nation by Fidel Castro. Venezuela’s oil wealth and power make it vitally important to the United States and a prize that could rescue Communism from becoming extinct in the New World.
Against this backdrop, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias and U.S. President George W. Bush next week will both be attending a two-day Summit of the Americas that begins Monday in Monterrey, Mexico.
The gathering will bring together representatives of 34 Western Hemisphere democracies. Fidel Castro’s Cuba, an undemocratic dictatorship, will be excluded but will be represented de facto by elected Marxist Hugo Chavez.
At this meeting, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs Roger Noriega told Associated Press that the United States wants Latin American leaders to agree on deadlines for protecting property rights, fighting corruption and creating jobs. He also reportedly said that leaders should simplify regulations on remittances – the more than $30 billion that immigrants and workers in the United States send back to relatives in their countries of origin. These remittances produce more redistribution of wealth from the U.S. to poor Latin American nations than any feasible foreign aid program.
Chavez at the Summit is expected to speak against the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), describing it as Latin American nations “committing suicide” against Canadian and U.S. competition. He will likely also denounce capitalism, call for more political redistribution of the wealth through a new “Hemispheric Social Contract,” and urge the end of today’s “single pole” world in which the United States is the only Superpower.
As Fidel Castro’s catspaw, Chavez has reportedly helped fund anti-government groups in Ecuador and Uruguay, and provided haven and arms to Leftist FARC and ELN terrorists in neighboring Colombia.
Venezuelan oil money from Chavez reportedly played a major role in the recent ouster of Bolivia’s pro-American President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. Chavez also recently tried to foment conflict between U.S. free trade partner Chile and landlocked Bolivia, whose lack of ocean access Chavez blamed on Chile.
The embrace Fidel Castro gave to Hugo Chavez just before Christmas on Venezuela’s Orchila Island was one of deep gratitude to his 49-year-old protégé and likely successor. He had come to play strategy, and joining Chavez and Castro in such scheming was the most Left-wing politician in Bolivia.
Chavez provides the more than 50,000 barrels of oil each day that keep Fidel Castro’s bankrupt slave island afloat. Much of this oil is purportedly given as payment for Cuban doctors and teachers in Venezuela. Much is exchanged for Castro IOUs that, as several liberal European nations have discovered, this ultimate deadbeat dictator never intends to redeem. Chavez has, in effect, stolen billions of dollars from the people of Venezuela and given it to sustain his comrade Fidel and the Marxist island prison Chavez once described as “the sea of happiness.”
Castro, whose Cuban Revolution just turned 45 and himself 77 – both showing signs of infirmity – is in his “final days,” says Secretary Noriega. The aging Marxist prince of the global Left, he says, appears to be “nostalgic for destabilizing elected governments. From the point of view of his democratic neighbors, Castro’s actions are increasingly provocative.” By destabilizing his neighbors, warned Noriega, Castro was “playing with fire.”
(How ironic that while Fidel preaches Marxism and tries to impose Marxism on his neighbors, Castro is going capitalist. Fidel is launching Cuban restaurant franchises in Shanghai, Portugal, Milan, and Panama. And hotel partnerships in Mexico. And A La Cubana bars in Dubai, Paris, Prague and Warsaw. And even a Coppelia ice cream franchise in Malaysia. But as this column noted, the Communist Party USA is also going capitalist. Too bad they want to prevent the rest of the world from profiting as they do. I wonder if Hugo Chavez knows that his comrade Fidel has become a closet capitalist.)
Fidel’s Left-hand-man Chavez has not limited his own Marxist revolutionary ambitions and franchise to Latin America. He reportedly befriended then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and aided Osama bin Laden’s 9-11 terrorist group Al Qaeda. According to one defector, Chavez gave $1 million to Al Qaeda.
Chavez also reportedly put a Hussein supporter in charge of Venezuela’s passport agency. Since he did this, a number of official Venezuelan passports and other legal identity papers have been found on fleeing Saddamites, and others from Islamic nations such as Syria, Pakistan, Egypt and Lebanon, and on persons linked to international terrorism. Such documents can give as much aid and comfort to terrorists as can a gun or bomb.
U.S. News & World Report magazine reported last year that Middle East terrorist groups were operating support cells in Venezuela.
Chavez travelled not only to Iraq but also to Iran, as well as to Libya to meet with its since-chastened Leftist dictator Muammar al-Qadhafi. He cryptically has called on his countrymen to return to their “Arab roots.”
And last September U.S. officials noted that North Korea’s ambassador to Cuba made an unannounced visit to Venezuela to meet with Chavez, opening the hair-raising prospect that Chavez might be seeking nuclear weapons. But such arms may be closer at hand, thanks to the newest member of Latin America’s Leftist troika, Brazilian leader Lula da Silva, who refuses to foreclose his nation’s nuclear option.
“What my rivals don’t understand,” said Hugo Chavez with Fidel-like modesty, “is that Hugo Chavez is not Chavez but the people of Venezuela.”
Polls show, however, that roughly two-thirds of the Venezuelan people would remove him from office if permitted – as the Constitution allows – a vote to recall him. Four million of them, more than 30 percent of the voting-age population – signed petitions months ago for such an election.
Chavez locked these petitions away, then directed his own appointees to declare the signatures invalid because they were collected months before the midpoint in his elected term as President.
Chavez then tried to have the rules for recall modified. Since the people chose me in a one-day election, he argued, my opponents should have only one day to gather the 2.4 million petition signatures required to recall me.
(He was elected around the time of a mysterious influx of up to 100,000 Cubans into Venezuela, but Chavez himself has required that Cubans fleeing Castro’s tyranny should be prohibited from political participation in Venezuela.)
Even Chavez’s own commission appointees found his proposed one-day restriction too draconian. They modified the rules to give Venezuelans only four days to gather the needed signatures of 20 percent of the entire electorate.
So unpopular is Chavez that as many as 3.6 million signatures were collected in four days, with citizens lining up around city blocks to fight the ex-paratrooper with their pens. Many more would have signed, but Chavez’s government saw to it that far too few official recall petition forms were printed to satisfy popular demand.
Chavez is in the classic mold of Marxist or Nazi dictators. He has roving, armed gangs of thugs on the streets who have killed peaceful protestors by firing into anti-Chavez crowds.
Chavez made a point of publicly warning that his government would keep records of every citizen who signed the recall petition. Many government employees and others were afraid to sign, lest they lose their jobs or become targets for thug attack or government regulatory and tax harassment. Chavez threatened broadcast stations with the confiscation of their licenses if they did not give airtime for his propaganda messages.
But 3.6 million Venezuelans signed to recall Chavez despite his threats and intimidation. A Chavez-appointed panel now has until the end of January to decide whether to declare more than 1.2 million signatures invalid – an absurd claim on its face – or to set a date within 97 days for a recall election that, if honest, Chavez is certain to lose.
This Marxist dictator is not merely despised by upper and middle class people of the political right. He is also loathed by Venezuela’s largest labor unions, who joined with the right (as in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, a coalition of the productive members of society) to stage several national strikes against Chavez’s tyranny.
Chavez remembers what happened when the Communist Sandinistas, other friends of Fidel’s in Nicaragua, believed they would easily win a fair election. The people voted them out of power.
Chavez claims to be no communist, although he admits to being “ugly” and “sometimes uncouth.” But he has also said that he will never allow what he calls the “megafraud” of the recall to remove him from office. He has warned that any attempt to remove him from office via the ballot box will lead to terrible violence.
“No one doubts that Mr. Chavez is capable of violence,” said a December 14 Washington Post Editorial. “His first political act, after all, was a failed coup, and last year he triggered an ultimately unsuccessful coup against himself by ordering police and the military to attack opposition demonstrators…. He [Chavez] must not be allowed to complete his depredations on Venezuela by destroying the last vestiges of its democracy.”
Chavez has damned both the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and the chief official of the Organization of American States for declaring the recall petition process clean and honest. Chavez himself says that the signatures to recall him were gathered fraudulently. He has produced a mysterious recording purportedly of an illegally-intercepted telephone call between two of his opponents that he says proves this. He calls the whole recall a plot by the United States to remove him from power.
Why would this megalomaniac who believes he “is” the people of Venezuela be so afraid to permit a vote by this people who he says adore him?
Chavez has laid the ideological and political groundwork for prohibiting this recall election – or for refusing to leave office if the people vote him out. And he has invited support from the same Leftist members who dominate America’s Democratic Party who have supported Chavez’s dictatorship in the past.
This coming week the democratic nations of Latin America will face a test. Will they waffle before the threats and bluster of Hugo Chavez and give tacit approval to the installation of another Castro-like undemocratic dictatorship in Venezuela? Or will they, alongside the United States, demand that Chavez let the recall go forward without rigging or interference – and insist that he abide by the results of this vote by the Venezuelan people? The future of freedom in Latin America could thus be decided this next week at the Summit in Monterrey (“Mountain of the King”), Mexico.