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is a blog to give a fresh angle on a fascinating and beautiful Caribbean Island country that, despite being relatively small and with only 11 million people, has been a major player in American and world politics for a half century. I also suggest you try

Friday, January 26, 2007

What the Game Shows Should be Asking

By Circles Robinson*

Hugo Chavez is the most popular leader in Venezuela’s modern day history. That appears to be a problem for Washington which likes to reserve the right to select presidents abroad.

While much of the mainstream press bends over backwards to tell us the Venezuelan president is anti-US and a threat, the man most Democrats and some Republicans believe is leading the US down doomsday lane is named George W. Bush not Hugo Chavez.

Chavez was reelected in December with nearly 63 percent of the vote. He is using his overwhelming legislative majority to speed up his agenda to channel the country’s oil wealth to the general population in terms of economic and social development, something his predecessors completely ignored.

While his detractors may call him authoritarian, the charismatic leader’s tell-it-like-it-is style is very popular among many Latin Americans, tired of outright lies, empty promises and what are seen as decades, if not centuries, of governments that sold their countries down the tubes.

The Venezuelan president’s views on what he calls “a new 21st century socialism,” is ringing around the hemisphere mainly because the market driven alternative offered by the US has clearly failed. His plan would give the State a larger role in strategic economic areas and more resources for social welfare and development.

Then there is President Bush, who lost his legislative majority in November over his bungling of the Iraq war. He has specialized in tax cuts for the rich and weakened social programs for the poor. Today, more US citizens than ever are without health insurance and New Orleans stands as the administration’s blueprint for caring.

The TV news during and after Hurricane Katrina, aided by interviews in Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke, has people around the globe shaking their heads dumbfounded. How can it be that the richest country on Earth treats its disaster victims with so much blatant racism and neglect?

Bearing False Witness

Hugo Chavez, a Catholic, is attacked in the corporate media for bringing a revolutionary Jesus Christ of the poor into the picture.

However, it was the US skipper, not Chavez, who forgot the ninth commandment —Thou shall not bear false witness (lie)—, when he boarded the USS Abraham Lincoln on May Day, 2003 to tell the world that his war against Iraq had ended with smashing success. “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended,” said the president dressed in a green flight suit.

“Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision, speed and boldness the enemy did not expect, and the world had not seen before […] With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians […] We have begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated,” he said.

If this was Japan near the end of World War II, President Bush would have already taken the honorable way out and committed hari-kari.

But he hasn’t, and Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery, where many of the active duty Iraq war dead are buried, provides vivid testimony to a tragic “mistake” based on a pack of lies about WMD.

Venezuela’s Crime

Venezuela, on the other hand, isn’t at war with anybody, hasn’t threatened anyone and has increasingly friendly relations and cooperation programs with its neighbors on the continent, independent of the politics in each individual country.

Providing more affordable heating oil to thousands of US low-income homes and preferential oil deals to many Caribbean nations, could be a better way to spread justice and democracy than dropping bombs and terrorizing entire communities.

The Chavez government is currently made up of a coalition of different progressive parties that the president hopes to unite into one revolutionary party to continue the political battle against the US-backed opposition. He has also announced plans to protect consumers by nationalizing Venezuela’s electricity industry and its biggest telecommunications giant.

Wherever Hugo Chavez travels in the Americas he is met by thousands of supporters and well wishers. When George W. Bush hits the road on Air Force One, he is met by thousands of demonstrators and large scale police and military deployments to protect him.

Why the different receptions?

This is the million dollar question that US game shows like The Price is Right, and Don Francisco for Spanish speakers should be asking their guests trying to win cash or a new car.

The answers might be very revealing.


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