Home / The Great Game part III: China & Venezuela

The Great Game part III: China & Venezuela

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One of the under-reported parts of Condi Rice’s confirmation testimony was the grilling she received on Venezuela by Lincoln Chafee (R-RI). What’s up with Venezuela you ask? Well, it seems the Bushies are none too happy about the democratically elected President Hugo Chavez and see his government as a threat.

A threat? How can that be? It’s just a country in South America… no WMDs, has never invaded anyone else… so what’s the deal?

They have oil. And lots of it.

In fact, they are the 5th largest oil producer in the world and provide the US with about 15% of their imports.

So what’s the deal then? Well, Chavez is making deals with the Chinese and Russians to reduce their relationship with Washington (seems there can be repercussions for trying to stage a coup…)

[Chavez told] Washington to not “even think about trying something similar in Venezuela,” referring to what he claims was Washington’s orchestrated coup against former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February, 2004. Should the U.S. follow this course, he optimistically observed that Venezuela “has enough allies on this continent to start a 100-year war,” and that “U.S. citizens could forget about ever getting Venezuelan oil.”

In fact, they said they may suspend shipments to the US in the event of a conflict. And what drives the US economy? Yup, oil. So you can see how this is deeply disturbing to the oilmen in the White House.

But it doesn’t end there. Chavez has also visited Castro in Cuba twice in late 2004 for secret meetings. Why you may ask… well, it seems Cuba has discovered oil as well, reserves with approx. 100 million barrels, just off shore. This is not good news for Washington. It may just be me, but I don’t think Castro will be rushing to supply the US…

And then there’s that pesky socialism that Latin America seems to like. Chavez was instrumental in setting up a new company, PetroCaribe, to offset high oil prices by distributing crude and refined oil products to the Caribbean at lower prices than other dealers in the area.

Now most people would be cognizant of this and try to play nice (you know, the guy was elected by the Venezuelan people and it is their oil after all)… but that ain’t the Bush way… seems the US feels they have a right to Venezuelan oil.

Enter Chafee and Rice. When asked if she could find anything good to say about the Venezuelan government of Chavez (after Chafee pointed out repeatedly that it was disrespectful to the Venezuelan people who had elected him to continue with the hard stance), Rice couldn’t do it.

She reserved some of her harshest language, not for China or Russia, but for President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, whose government she said had “not been constructive” because of his tough tactics against the news media and the opposition.

“Is it possible for you to say something positive about the Chávez administration?” Mr. Chafee asked, apparently taken aback at the toughness of her words.

When Ms. Rice said “it’s pretty hard, Senator, to find something positive”.

China has no such reservations and has been quite active on the international scene after the invasion of Iraq. Experts anticipate they will surpass the US in oil consumption by 2030. They are signing deals all over the world to undercut the US and shore up their own supply (including with Canada)…

The Great Game moves on… and Washington is behind.

Way behind.

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About spiderleaf

  • You would think Condi could at least say “well, they had a successful democratic election even if it put in power a likely dictator who has shut down the newspapers and jailed his former political opposition.” Would that have been a nice positive thing to say?


  • You mean the same media that one of the leaders of the attempted coup said this of:

    “We (the coup organisers) had a deadly weapon: the media.”
    Vice-Admiral Victor Ramírez Pérez, speaking on Venevision, a private channel, April 11, 2002

    How about this:

    Venezuela’s five largest television channels –
    Ve n e v i s i ó n, Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV),
    Globovisión and CMT – are privately owned and universally
    hostile to the Chavez government. Aligned with
    them, are nine of the ten major national newspapers.

    Against this formidable media muscle, the government
    could muster just one television channel – the stateowned
    Channel 8 – and a small section of the print

    For example, a month prior to the coup, the El Nacional
    newspaper alleged that the Chavez government had
    entered into a secret deal with Hizbollah and the
    Iranian government, which would see Iran establish an
    “operational base” in Venezuela and unidentified
    Venezuelans trained to aid Iran in “defence of the
    Islamic Revolution.”
    The report concluded ominously: “Terrorism is in our
    midst.” The ludicrous allegation had an obvious intent
    – to link the Chavez government with President Bush’s
    “axis of evil.”
    Pursuing the same theme, Chavez supporters were
    routinely referred to, across the media, as ‘Taliban’. The
    same paper later claimed Chavez had admitted to
    being the head of “a criminal network.” Both television
    and print media routinely compared him to Idi Amin,
    Mussolini and Hitler.

    [all of which was total bunk and proven to be so]

    Remarkably, since Chavez came to power in 1998, not
    one journalist has been jailed and the media continued
    to broadcast what was often seditious material. Few
    democratic governments would have tolerated such

    Or this:

    In April 2002, just days after the failed coup d’etat against Venezuela President Hugo Chávez, the State Department gave the NED a $1 million grant entitled “Special Venezuela Funds”, which was distributed to many of the very same groups that had just led and participated in the coup. In fact, since President Chávez’s election to that nation’s highest office in 1998, the NED has consistently funded just one sector in Venezuela: the opposition to President Chávez. Once George W. Bush assumed the U.S. presidency in 2000, funding to opposition groups in Venezuela was quadrupled.

    Despite this concerted campaign Chavez secured 60% of the popular vote, a clear majority… unlike the 50.7% of the vote that George Bush secured.

    And in terms of jailing political opponents… ummm… they tried to stage a military coup… why on earth would they not be jailed?

    yeah, I think Condi could have said something positive about the guy that the people elected (many times over)

  • Something positive about him? How about mentioning that Muamar Qadafi gave him a ‘human rights’ award?

    Or perhaps that Human Rights Watch has singled him out for criticism over his new sedition laws and how they will shut down the media.

    Or maybe she should have praised him for having anti-government demonstrators beaten and jailed without trials after which many of them have been ‘disappeared’. And these aren’t the people who tried to stage the coup, these are students and business people who object to repressive economic policies.

    You see, his record may have been ok when he started out – and I bet your quote is at least 3 years old – but in the last few years his rule has been getting more and more repressive.

    The truth is that major international human rights groups like Amnesty International have identified his regime as repressive. He’s the rising star in the communist dictator’s club – hanging with Castro and Quadafi. Right now his secret police apparatus is growing and he’s about one step away from sending out political death squads.

    I know you’re looking for every way you can strike out against the Bush administration, but by any measure Chavez is a bad guy. Opposing him isn’t necessarily undesirable.

  • By no means am I saying he’s a paragon of virtue, but people could say a lot worse about W… hell, even today ‘dissidents’ were allowed to protest in cages and sprayed with pepper spray, but when someone mentions that they are ‘anti-American’ and should just ‘get over it’ because the people elected him.

    Chavez has not started a war of aggression killing tens of thousands of civilians and his own soldiers.

    My point being, if world leaders are supposed to play nice with Bush because he was democratically elected, the same surely goes for Chavez who won a far higher percentage of the votes of his citizens.

    But it seems your love for Bush knows no bounds. Or is it your opinion that only American democratically elected leaders deserve respect?

  • and btw – it was Republican Chafee who was incredulous about Rice’s position on Venezuela as he had just come back from a trip to meet with Chavez and tour the country.

  • Lots of dictators were democratically elected. Hell, Hitler was democratically elected. It doesn’t earn them a free ride or excuse their behavior once in office.

    I have no particular love for Bush, but I find myself defending him because I can’t stand to see people who are completely irrational attacking him for all the wrong reasons and excusing and lending aid to real villains just because they don’t like Bush.

    The protesters today were pepper sprayed and held for several hours if they became violent. Protesters at similar rallies last year in Venezuela were shot with rubber bullets, beaten and then held incommunicado for over a month and more than 20 of them were never seen again. Do you see the difference?

    Sure, we are at war in Iraq and it’s not popular with everyone. But the goals are laudable and the impact on most of the Iraqi people is proving to be more and more beneficial. You should read http://www.chrenkoff.com or iraqthemodel.com sometime to get a better perspective on the war.

    And BTW, the US has never fought a ‘war of aggression’. We fight wars of liberation.


  • I’ve just finished doing some more reading on the Venezuela situation and it appears that it’s quite likely that both Chavez’s original election and the recall election in 2000 were tainted by massive fraud. So much for the validation of being elected.


  • And many would say the same about Bush and his election(s). Remember Florida and the victory awarded him by the Supremes? Remember Ohio this year and the electoral challenge?

    Just because he’s leader of the US does not give him a free pass either.

    And yes, the war in Iraq was a war of aggression as millions around the world saw because they have relatively unbiased media vs. the right wing corporate media in America.

  • godoggo

    Something interesting I happen to have come across during my vital online time-wasting:

    Myth: Democracy elected Hitler to power.

    Fact: Hitler used backroom deals, not votes, to come to power.


    Hitler never had more than 37 percent of the popular vote in the honest elections that occurred before he became Chancellor. And the opposition among the 63 percent against him was generally quite strong. Hitler therefore would have never seen the light of day had the German Republic been truly democratic. Unfortunately, its otherwise sound constitution contained a few fatal flaws. The German leaders also had a weak devotion to democracy, and some were actively plotting to overthrow it. Hitler furthermore enjoyed an almost unbroken string of luck in coming to power. He benefited greatly from the Great Depression, the half-senility of the president, the incompetence of his opposition, and the appearance of an unnecessary backroom deal just as the Nazis were starting to lose popular appeal and votes…

  • >>And yes, the war in Iraq was a war of aggression as millions around the world saw because they have relatively unbiased media vs. the right wing corporate media in America.<< When you say things like this sensible people just stop listening to you. If the Guardian calls a war a war of aggression that doesn't make it true. They can say any loony thing they want, but it doesn't change facts. I perfer to form my opinions for myself, and under any reasonable criteria the war in Iraq isn't comparable to a traditional war of aggression. The key element of a war of aggression is territorial expansion and control and that just isn't happening here. Godoggo - the Weimar Republic had a parliamentary system of government so the percentage of the popular vote is less significant than the coalition he was able to build - those backroom deals - to put him into power over the candidates of other parties. That's how the parliamentary system works, and while it isn't direct democracy, it is representative government and Hitler was more or less legitimately elected. Dave

  • godoggo

    Anyway, according to the page, the Nazis weren’t the most popular party, except in one, not the last, of the many votes, and Hindenburg even received a majority of the popular vote, and of course they used lots of violence. I’m no historian, but I think it’s a pretty good page.

  • godoggo

    misplaced modifier up there, but you know what I mean

  • godoggo

    er, I mean pronoun/antecedent agreement problem I guess