Condoleezza is Hot and Bothered over Venezuela
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denounced Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Thursday for opposing the Bush administration’s mounting aggression against Iran.
Rice also accuses Venezuela of promoting a Latin American unity that could affect US corporate interests.
The secretary of state upped the ante in the verbal war against Chavez by sharply criticizing Venezuela for opposing taking Iran to the UN Security Council over its small-scale nuclear energy program, similar to the large-scale ones that generate electricity in the United States, European and several Asian countries.
The Bush administration also accuses Chavez of interfering in the US plan for Latin America and the Caribbean, which is based on a widely recognized lopsided playing field called the Free Trade Area of the Americas and fertile territory for brain drain, cheap labor and natural resources and even landing baseball stars.
In her latest diatribe, Rice accused Chavez of being linked to the ongoing political crisis in Nicaragua where President Enrique Bolanos, a docile US ally, is in his last year of office.
Previously the US has accused Chavez of riling up people to vote against defeated US backed candidates in Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela itself and most recently Bolivia, where indigenous leader Evo Morales won a landslide victory in December.
Sec. Rice goes on to describe Chavez as “a negative force” adding “I think its fair to say that one of the biggest problems we face are the policies of Venezuela, which are attempting to influence neighbors away from democratic processes.”
Political analysts noted surprise that the Bush administration has yet to blame Chavez for the dismal showing of its candidates Henry Baker and Leslie Manigat in the Haitian presidential elections won last week by Rene Preval. “Maybe with their mind on Iran and oil it’s escaped them,” said one pundit in Havana.
If the conservative candidate in Peru, Lourdes Flores, is unable to win the April 9 elections, or Vicente Fox’s party loses the Mexican general elections on July 2, Chavez will surely be to blame, according to US State Department reasoning.
The Bush administration believes that one of the greatest dangers to the region is what it terms the “evil axis” of Venezuela and Cuba, determined to disregard market logic by focusing on social needs like education and healthcare throughout the continent.
Rice claims it is urgent to present ''a united front against some of the things that Venezuela gets involved in,'' reported Pablo Bachelet of the Miami Herald.
Another sore spot for the current US government is Venezuela’s providing cheap oil –by way of its CITGO Corporation-- to the poor of several eastern US States. Washington considers it unfair to undercut its corporate giants, credited with fueling the nation’s economic growth figures with their rising profits.
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld lashed out at Chavez –equating him to Hitler-- for having easily won the August 2004 recall referendum and the December, 2005 legislative elections with multi-national observers praising both processes. Washington also blames Chavez for the failure of the April 2002 US backed coup in Venezuela that attempted to put a junta favorable to White House interests in power.
With President Bush calling any friend of his many enemies also his foe, Venezuela will be keeping close tabs on the Pentagon’s next maneuvers.
The US Congress has already announced an effort to invade Venezuelan private and public airwaves with TV and radio broadcasts aimed at destabilizing the country, similar to its Radio and TV Marti beamed against Cuba.
Declassified government documents also show that over the last six years the US has funded its National Endowment for Democracy, US-AID, its more secretive Office for Transition Initiatives, and other groups to try and build an internal opposition capable of toppling the Chavez government and installing leaders who “understand” US interests.