Malcom Lagauche
Sunday/Monday, March 27-28, 2005

How can a leader of a country who instituted a program that has taught almost two million former illiterates to read and write within a year be called a tyrant? How can a leader of a country who incorporated land reform that has been a huge success be called evil? How can a leader of a country who has been instrumental in eradicating diseases that once ravaged the nation be called troublesome? By having the name of Hugo Chavez; that’s how.

In past few years, Hugo Chavez has worked wonders with the nation of Venezuela. He has endured assassination attempts; a failed coup; and an illegitimate recall vote; all sponsored by either the U.S. administration or its stooge allies within Venezuela. Today, even former opponents of Chavez begrudgingly admit he has done a wonderful job at the helm of their country. All the horror stories of the rich being raped of their money have proven untrue. The country is now prospering and for the first time, a member of the indigenous population that encompasses 80% of the country is in power. And, his efforts have benefited, for the first time, the majority of the 80%.

This success is becoming too much for the U.S. Chavez has run afoul of all that the U.S. looks for in an allied leader. He is friends with and has collaborated with President Fidel Castro of Cuba. In the past couple of years, his influence has been profound in other Latin American countries. His message is that the should be independent of the yoke of Washington. And, this thought process is being welcomed all over the southern portion of the Western Hemisphere.

While most of the eyes of the world are on the Middle East, Washington is already drawing plans to combat Chavez. Recently, the magazine National Review published a commentary by Otto Reich, Bush’s top Latin American aide during his first term. According to Reich:

With the combination of Castro’s evil genius, experience in political warfare, and economic desperation, and Chavez’ unlimited money and recklessness, the peace of this region is in peril.

The emerging axis of subversion forming between Cuba and Venezuela must be confronted before it can undermine democracy in Colombia, Nicaragua, Bolivia, or other vulnerable neighbors.

The new plan of the administration is similar to the "dual-containment" program the U.S. used in the 1990s against Iraq and Iran. First, the U.S. will try to isolate Venezuela’s new allies and have them turn against Chavez. This will be done economically and with military threats.

Once Chavez is neutralized, the U.S. then will go after its almost five-decade thorn-in-the-side, Fidel Castro. Divide and conquer has worked in the past and the U.S. has no plans to change the strategy.

While the former peace protestors have now gone home and put their signs away, no movement is visible that will mention a future conflict against Venezuela and/or Cuba. A few days before the bombs fall, they will again take to the streets and give the U.S. administration a chance to say, "See. We have a democracy where anyone can be heard." They can be heard, but their message is never taken into account. And, the warmongers work 24 hours a day to hone their plans; not just a few days before imminent action. The protesters should be on the streets now. Once they finally do hit the pavement, the plans will already have been made and set in concrete.

I find it sad that many people in the Arab world, as well as many non-Arabs who are aware of the plight of Iraq, know little or nothing about the politics of Latin America in general, or those of Hugo Chavez in particular. Techniques the U.S. used in Latin America to prop up violent regimes and deny the people any form of humanity were the same being used today in Iraq: torture, deceit, stooge government appointees, etc. Now, the U.S. will thrust on Latin America the same techniques used against Iraq: techniques taken from the U.S. 1970s and 1980s Latin America playbook.

Who is this guy Chavez? Maybe a lot of people who follow the Middle East do not realize that he upset the U.S. administration of Clinton in 2000 by visiting Saddam Hussein. Wow, the Clintonites bristled.

On August 9, 2000, Chavez and Saddam held talks in Baghdad. The primary subject was the price of oil. Chvez’ predecessors could always be counted on by Washington to lower prices below the OPEC rate when ordered to do so. In their meeting, Chavez told his Iraqi counterpart that those days were gone.

In addition to oil prices, Chavez gave the Iraqi president his support in attempting to end the embargo against Iraq. The Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister, Jorge Valero, told CBS News, "President Chavez affirmed the Venezuelan position supporting any accord against any kind of boycott or sanctions that are applied against Iraq or any other country in the world."

This meeting did not go unnoticed by U.S. pundits. Patrick Clawson, research director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy stated, "There is no agenda between Venezuela and Iraq, except their OPEC ties."

There may have been no official agenda, but look at Chavez’ accomplishments and they mirror those of the Ba’athists of Iraq: land given to people to produce crops, similar to the program in Iraq from which two million Egyptians benefited; upgrading the health care system; programs to include women in the public and private sectors; making literacy programs available to anyone in the country; etc. The progressions of the Ba’ath revolution and the "Bolivarian" revolution of Chavez ran on parallel tracks.

After leaving Iraq, Chavez called Saddam Hussein his "brother." Those in the Arab world who support justice and oppose the imperialistic actions of the U.S. that have destroyed Iraq must now become aware of the future plight of President Hugo Chavez. He is on the same track as the one Saddam Hussein pursued years ago. This time, with enough awareness and vocal opposition, Chavez may not derail before he reaches his destination.

During his stay in Baghdad, Chavez was impressed with Saddam’s hospitality. He was openly thankful that the Iraqi president drove him around Baghdad in his own car. No chauffeur, just the two presidents. Imagine Allawi driving anyone by himself on the open streets of Baghdad outside the "green zone." I would not want to be his life insurance agent.

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