Fact check on Venezuela

Here’s a fact check on U.S. government and corporate media statements on the Venezuelan “threat.”

Condoleezza Rice, CNN’s Lou Dobbs, Fox News, to name but a few, all warn of the Venezuelan “dictator” Hugo Chavez.

Fact: Hugo Chavez was elected by popular vote. He is an elected official who was elected by a greater margin than George W. Bush.

Venezuela bought $5 billion worth of weapons and armaments from Russia among other countries.

Fact: This is absolutely true though it is usually stated without the additional fact that the U.S. refused to sell Venezuela arms when Chavez began to redirect oil revenue from private companies to social programs. Eighty percent of Venezuelans live in poverty and the shift from corporate interests to poverty alleviation has been met with name calling and threats from the U.S.

Dobbs and the others, if they were good journalists, would tell the whole truth, that while $5 billion goes for Venezuelan defense spending, $23.58 billion goes to poverty alleviation programs. The previous government spent 17 percent of its budget in social spending in contrast to Chavez’s 44 percent.

Overall poverty has been reduced by 10 percent so far from Chavez’s programs, according to the World Bank.

It is a question of honesty and of values, compassion vs. greed. While Chavez’s presidency remains secure, there is no doubt that the U.S., through the National Endowment for Democracy (one of the greatest misnomers ever), will be doing its best to usurp power from the one chosen by the people of Venezuela.

Brian McAfee
Muskegon MI

Antiwar in Arkansas

I proposed a resolution at the meeting of my union, AFSCME Local 0965, last month. It expresses the opposition of our union to President Bush’s escalation plan and endorses the demonstration in Fayetteville to mark the fourth anniversary of the invasion on March 11. The resolution passed with overwhelming support. Local 0965 represents the workers at the University of Arkansas. It is being transmitted right away to our congressional delegation. Just wanted to share this good news.

C.J. Atkins
Fayetteville AR

Latinos for peace, then and now

So many thanks for your editorial pointing out parallels of the legislative peace battles between the Vietnam era and now — so many memories welled up from your chronology of demonstrations and legislation (PWW 2/17-23).

It was in those times I got active in the Chicano antiwar movement. Besides the November 1970 D.C. demonstration of half a million, there were a quarter of a million in San Francisco. Corky Gonzalez of the Crusade for Justice, Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers, Abe Tapia of the Mexican American Political Association, and I, as a draft resister, spoke from the Chicana/o community. When the media didn’t cover any of us we decided to form a Chicano Moratorium Committee to take the antiwar message to our community. In the next 10 months, over 20 Chicano moratoriums were held in the barrios of the Southwest. Scores of thousands marched and picketed.

At our largest demonstration, held August 29, 1970, in East Los Angeles, some 25,000 marched from every barrio in the Southwest and Midwest. Police forces attacked our march without provocation. At least three demonstrators were killed, including a distinguished journalist, Ruben Salazar. Scores were injured, hundreds arrested. A police-instigated riot ensued. We blamed the local police for the attack back then.

Over time I have concluded that the Nixon administration would have had to have signed off on such a brutal attack. As you mention, white students were attacked that spring at Kent State, and African American students in Mississippi in June. It was a national policy. Your editorial reinforced this conclusion.

Just days prior to the Sept. 1, 1970, Senate vote on the Vietnam War there were headlines of antiwar Chicanos rioting. We were not into the legislative struggle back then and did not relate the attack to the Senate vote. We have learned our lessons and today many of us veterana/os of the anti-Vietnam-War struggle are involved in Latinos for Peace, joining in demonstrations, lobbying and electoral efforts.

Back then we had two Latinos in the House. Today, we had 22 Latina/o representatives voting against the surge. We are circulating petitions calling for an end to the war and its funding to present to our representatives.

Rosalio Muñoz
Los Angeles CA

Health care for all

I look forward to each new issue of the PWW. The news of SEIU’s support of the Healthy Americans Act was disturbing. I am disabled with health care insurance provided through a United Food and Commercial Workers contract. I don’t know what would happen to me without it. Please send me the pamphlet “Medicare for All.” Please bill me. Also, please quote prices on bulk orders. I work in a rehabilitation center and would like to educate fellow workers.

Ralph Ellis
Via email

Editor’s note: Thank you. Individual pamphlets are $1.00 each. Fifty cents each for orders of 10 or more. Add $5.00 per 10 pamphlets to cover shipping.