People Before Profits

Hugo Chavez is a wanted man.

His “crimes” include acting as a democratically elected president of a sovereign Venezuela; rejecting the principles embodied in the Monroe Doctrine (i.e., “Latin America is the U.S.A.’s backyard”); challenging neoliberal doctrines that serve the interest of global corporations rather than social development; seeking to solidify the economic and political integration of South America based on the principles of equal exchange and mutually beneficial cooperation; and using Venezuela’s oil income to benefit the majority of Venezuelans rather than an elite few.

To these “offenses” one must add Chavez’s deepening of economic ties with the European Union; encouraging the formation of a progressive Latin American oil bloc; working to select a pro-Latin American (rather than a pro-U.S.) secretary-general of the Organization of American States; acquiring the means of self-defense and building a military reserve force of 1.5 million Venezuelans; guiding the development, together with other South American leaders, of an independent, Latin American television network that will present the world through Latin American eyes; diversifying Venezuela’s oil sales to other countries, including China, India and Cuba; and welcoming Cuban doctors and teachers to work among the Venezuelan poor.

Bush orders Chavez ‘containment’

The Financial Times recently reported that President Bush has ordered the “containment” (i.e., the overthrow) of Hugo Chavez. Roger Pardo-Maurer, deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemispheric affairs at the U.S. Department of Defense, said, “Chavez is a problem because he is clearly using his oil money and influence to introduce his conflictive style into the politics of other countries. … We have reached the end of the road of the current approach.”

This is interesting because Pardo-Maurer, a former Green Beret, was the spokesperson for the Nicaraguan Contras during President Reagan’s dirty war against the Sandinista government.

In fact many of the people in key policy positions to develop and conduct a “new approach” to Venezuela were deeply involved in Central American affairs during the 1980s. John Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras (1981-1985) where he was in charge of Central Command’s effort to crush national liberation movements in Central America. While in that position he remained “unaware” of the death squads operating in the region. Now he is director of national intelligence.

The new head of the CIA, Porter Goss (a fraternity brother of Negroponte’s at Yale), was a “007”-type CIA agent in the Caribbean and Mexico in the ’60s and early ’70s, according to investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker.

The new ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, also played a role in Central America during the 1980s. According to journalist Cort Greene, Brownfield, in his capacity as political officer at the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador, was involved in covering up the killings of Archbishop Oscar Romero and four American Maryknoll nuns. He is also alleged “to have played a key role in directing the death squads and El Salvadoran military.” Brownfield was also temporarily assigned to the Southern Command for the period 1989-90, during which time the U.S. planned and carried out the invasion of Panama.

The contra connection

Roger Noriega, currently the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemispheric affairs, also cut his diplomatic teeth in Central America during the 1980s. According to his profile on Right Web (, Noriega was in charge of getting money to the Nicaraguan Contras during a period when Congress had cut off official funding. Various other channels were used, including right-wing evangelical and political groups.

Convicted perjurer Elliot Abrams, another old Contra hand, has recently been appointed deputy national security adviser in charge of advancing “global democracy.” This position gives Abrams a perfect platform to meddle in the internal political affairs of countries whose elected leaders refuse to follow George W. Bush’s agenda.

The time is now to build a solidarity movement in defense of Venezuelan democracy.