Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Washington's War on Chavez
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah: CCUN, May 30, 2011
Since George Bush took office in January 2001, efforts to oust
Chavez failed three times:
-- in April 2002 for two days, aborted by
mass street protests and support from Venezuela's military, notably its
middle-ranked officer corps;
-- the 2002 - 2003 general strike and
oil management lockout, causing severe economic disruptions; and
the failed August 2004 national recall referendum, Chavez prevailing with a
Nonetheless, disruptive activities continue, including
malicious propaganda, CIA subversion, funding opposition forces, sanctions,
and militarizing the region, notably in Colombia as well as gunboat
diplomacy by reactivating the Latin American/Caribbean Fourth Fleet for the
first time since 1950 despite no regional threat.
appalling human rights record, on April 11, the State Department issued its
2010 Human Rights Report: Venezuela, claiming Chavez government
responsibility for largely uncorroborated, exaggerated or falsified abuses,
"unlawful killings, including summary executions of
criminal suspects; widespread criminal kidnappings for ransom; prison
violence and harsh prison conditions; inadequate juvenile detention centers;
arbitrary arrests and detentions; corruption and impunity in police forces;
corruption, inefficiency, and politicization in a judicial system
characterized by trial delays and violations of due process; political
prisoners and selective prosecution for political purposes; infringement of
citizens' privacy rights; restrictions on freedom of expression; government
threats to sanction or close television stations and newspapers; corruption
at all levels of government; threats against domestic NGOs; violence against
women; trafficking in persons; and restrictions on workers' right of
Then on May 24, the State Department imposed sanctions
for the first time against Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the state owned
oil company for "deliver(ing) at least two cargos of reformate (a
hydrocarbon product for gasoline) to Iran between December 2010 and March
2011, worth approximately $50 million."
They "prohibit the company
from competing for US government procurement contracts, from securing
financing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and from
obtaining US export licenses."
They don't apply to PDVSA
subsidiaries (including US-based CITGO) or prohibit crude oil exports to
America. In 2010, according to US Energy Information Administration data,
Venezuela was America's fifth largest supplier after Canada, Mexico, Saudi
Arabia, and Nigeria. In fact, Venezuela has the world's largest oil
reserves, including its heavy and extra-heavy oil.
of State James Steinberg called sanctioning PDVSA a "clear message" to
companies violating America's 1996 Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA),
renamed the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) in 2006, now the 2010 Comprehensive
Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA), warning they'll
"face serious consequences."
The action came a day after Obama
signed an Executive Order, authorizing new sanctions on Iran, as well as
giving the State and Treasury Departments more latitude in targeting
companies dealing with its energy sector.
Hard-line Rep. Connie Mack
(R. FL), Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Chairman, said Washington "needs to
move quickly to cut off Chavez's source of revenue, and bring to an end both
his influence in Latin America and his dangerous relationship with the
terrorist-supporting Iranian regime before it's too late."
with extremist Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R. FL) and Jeb Bush (former FL
governor and Bush family member), Mack got President GHW Bush (in 1990) to
pardon Orlando Bosch's criminal downing of Cubana flight 455 with Luis
Posada Carriles, killing all 78 passengers on board.
As part of
their hard-line agenda, Ros-Lehtinen and Mack now wage war on Chavez,
failing in 2008 to designate Venezuela "a state sponsor of terrorism"
through HR 1049.
In October 2009, Mack again tried unsuccessfully
through HR 872, "Calling for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to be
designed a state sponsor of terrorism for its support of Iran, Hezbollah,
and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC)."
called Ecuador's Raphael Correa "a pawn for his fellow friend and thugocrat,
Allied with bipartisan extremists in Congress,
today's Republican controlled House is infested with others like him.
So is the Obama administration, including former National Intelligence
Director Dennis Blair, naming Chavez in his Annual 2010 Threat Assessment of
the US Intelligence Community for the Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence, calling him a "leading anti-US regional force" by:
"impos(ing) an authoritarian populist political model that undermines
democratic institutions (a convoluted oxymoron);" and
with "radical leaders in Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and until
recently, Honduras," adding that he opposes "nearly every US policy
initiative in the region." For sure, all imperial ones.
Venezuela rejected them, saying:
Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela....expresses its
strongest rejection to this decision (it calls a) hostile action on the
fringes of international law that violates (UN Charter) principles..."
Calling Washington's action "imperialist aggression," it "calls on all the
Venezuela people, laborers and especially the oil workers, to stay alert and
mobilized in defense of our PDVSA and the sacred sovereignty of the
An official statement said a "general assessment of the
situation (will) determine how these sanctions affect the operational
capacity of our oil industry, and therefore, the supply of 1.2 million
barrels of oil per day to the US."
Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro
"We are not afraid of these sanctions, nor are we going to
debate the reasons that the North American government may have, but
Venezuela is sovereign in making its decisions."
Energy and Oil
Minister Rafael Ramirez added:
"The imperialist powers are hoping to
dictate the rules to us. They will have to go without, because we are going
to keep advancing towards creating unity between oil-producing countries."
Responding, Chavez twitted:
"Sanctions against the homeland of
Bolivar? Imposed by the US imperialist government. Bring it on, Mr. Obama.
Do not forget that we are the children of Bolivar," telling over 1.5 million
followers that "the true impact of this latest US aggression is the
strengthening of our nationalistic and patriotic morale in Venezuela!"
In other tweets he added:
"We don't just have the largest oil
reserves in the world. We also have the most revolutionary oil company in
"So, they wanted to see and feel the flame of the people
of Bolivar defending the independence of the Venezuelan homeland? Well,
there you have it!"
Majority members in Venezuela's National
Assembly also rejected US sanctions, warning Washington to halt hostile
actions or face possible oil shipment recriminations.
On May 25,
PDVSA workers rallied across Venezuela against US sanctions, supporting
their government, president and company. Women's groups, peasant
organizations, communal councils, and alternative media also organized a
The Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of the
Americas (ALBA) also condemned US sanctions, its member countries "express(ing)
our indignation and reject(ion) in the strongest terms....in the framework
of its unilateral policy of sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran."
"Faced with this hostile measure, (ALBA members) express our absolute
backing to (Venezuela), which, guided by a solid conviction of solidarity,
has promoted mechanisms of energy cooperation aimed at strengthening the
unity between our peoples."
ALBA nations include Antigua and
Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the
Grenadines, as well as Venezuela. Before Washington's June 2009 coup ousted
President Manuel Zelaya, Honduras was also an ALBA member.
of Venezuela issued a "Declaration of Rejection to US Sanctions," responding
to Washington's unilateral action, asking US individuals and organizations
to oppose it.
Denouncing "a grave and dangerous move by Washington
to justify further aggression against the Venezuelan people," they
"unequivocally reject this latest attempt....to demonize (Venezuela) and
undermine the vibrant democracy of the Venezuelan people."
oil wealth responsibly, over 60% of it goes for healthcare, education, job
training, subsidized food and housing, community media, reducing poverty,
and supporting thousands of communal councils engaged in grassroots
"We find it outrageous that (Washington)
demonize(s) the one (country that's put) people before profits. And we call
on our representatives....to suspend these sanctions....immediately."
They'll remain, and so will determined millions against them, weakening
Washington's corrosive influence everywhere.
Stephen Lendman lives
in Chicago and can be reached at
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to
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