Two million Venezuelans marched through Caracas, Dec. 8, to defend their country’s Constitution and stop a second coup d’etat aimed at ousting President Hugo Chavez. The outpouring was not mentioned in the U.S. media. Tribuna Popula, newspaper of the Communist Party of Venezuela (CPV), reported that people turned out in anger and alarm against a “general strike,” more accurately a corporate lockout, instigated by wealthy business owners and backed up by the private media.
The lockout was sputtering until captains seized seven Venezuelan oil tankers, crippling Venezuela’s vital oil industry. Chavez sent in marines to get the tankers moving, Tribuna reported, but the crews said they would only turn the ships over to certified personnel. Thousands of Chavez supporters surrounded the La Campina installation of the Venezuelan national oil company, known by its initials, PDVSA, to block the coup elements from seizing the facility. Thousands also surrounded the offices of five commercial TV stations to protest their subversive role in instigating against Chavez and the Constitution.
An unknown gunman opened fire on anti-Chavez demonstrators, Dec. 7, killing three and injuring 28. These provocations provided an opening for the right-wing forces to call for intervention by the Organization of American States (OAS) against Chavez. OAS secretary general Cesar Gaviria is in Caracas to mediate the crisis.
“We must make ready once more for the defense of the Constitution,” President Chavez said in a Dec. 5 statement. “A plan is in motion which attempts to bring down the national government, using any methods whatsoever.” He announced he has ordered the National Guard to protect patriotic forces in the oil industry to get it back into production.
A trade union federation in Carabobo warned, “Those sectors who maintain this strike indefinitely, at all costs, want to produce acts of violence, destabilization and shortage of food and products so that the town is drained and the people rebel, so that transportation and the industries do not function and the PDVSA comes to a virtual halt.” The trade union group called on the government “to call a mobilization of the people to confront this coupist stoppage.” It demanded the jailing of the main instigators, Carlos Fernandez and Carlos Ortega, head of Venezuela’s chamber of commerce, who led the abortive April 11 coup attempt with overt and covert backing of the Bush Administration. An outpouring by millions of Venezuelans defeated that coup and reinstated Chavez in the Miraflores Presidential Palace.
Heinz Dieterich Steffan, writing in Narco News Bulletin, which exposes the U.S. role in Latin America’s narcotics trade, points out that Venezuela’s Bolivarian Constitution, the most democratic in Latin America, permits a vote to recall Chavez next August. But the coup plotters can’t wait. Why? Steffan argues that the counter-revolutionary forces fear the Bolivarian movement will consolidate their hold. Several laws are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2003 including a sweeping land reform measure and other economic reform measures, like “The Hydrocarbon law.” Steffan said this law “will permit the dismantling of … PDVSA, the corrupt oil group that controls the economic life of the country and that is an integral part of the New World Energy Order of George Bush.” The U.S. imports more than a million barrels of oil daily from Venezuela, but only 20 percent of the oil revenues go to the Venezuelan government, while 80 percent benefits Venezuela’s elite. In 1974, 80 percent of oil revenues went to the government.
The CPV released a statement warning that the Constitution is in grave danger and warned against the illusion that “conciliation” will satisfy the coup elements. “We ought to be clearly aware that this process reflects a war for power,” the CPV statement said. The enemies are resorting to “low intensity conflict,” first used by the Reagan administration to destabilize Nicaragua and undermine the Sandinista government, the statement charged.
At the heart of the conflict, it states, is the “U.S. Empire against the homeland of Bolivar,” referring to Simon Bolivar, father of South American independence. The statement cited the Bush administration’s Santa Fe Document IV calling for direct U.S. intervention to destroy Bolivarian-style movements in Latin America in the name of combatting “terrorism” and “drug trafficking.”
Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld was seeking to lay the basis for U.S. military intervention anywhere in Latin America during a meeting of western hemisphere defense ministers in Santiago, Chile, Nov. 18. In the name of curbing “terrorism” and combating drug trafficking, Rumseld called on Latin American Defense Ministers to tighten their collaboration with the Pentagon, starting with joint naval operations.
The CPV also referred to a letter sent by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) to Bush raising the specter of what he called an “axis of evil in the Americas,” consisting of Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil. Hyde, chair of the House International Relations Committee, wrote the letter a few days before Brazil’s Oct. 27 election, in which 61 percent of voters cast their ballots for union metalworker Luis Inacio “Lula” de Silva better known as Lula. Chavez, too, was elected twice by strong majorities.
Hyde falsely accused Lula of seeking to make Brazil a nuclear power. He likewise lied in accusing Chavez of violating Venezuela’s constitution and allying himself with “sponsors of terrorism, including Cuba, Iraq and Iran.” Added Hyde, “This is the time for the Bush Administration to … declare itself in sympathy” with this second oil coup. Hyde’s letter suggests that if Bush succeeds in his plan to invade Iraq he will move on to invade South America next.
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