Venezuela: storm warnings
January 12th, 2005 | A
new storm is forming, one which could prove to be detrimental to peace
and stability in the Western Hemisphere, and particularly damaging to
the United States. It is a tempest of human origin, which has
visited us before: Guatemala (1951); Cuba (1959); Grenada (1979);
Nicaragua (1984); and now, Venezuela. It is the Great Socialist
Experiment, redux, with a new striking force. This storm, unlike the
others, has a menacing energy behind it, namely oil - and with it,
Until now, the previously mentioned regimes were
smaller agrarian societies, which were eventually “dealt with” or, in
the case of Cuba, contained. In any event, none of them were
consequential to the economic well being of America. Sugar,
bananas and rum are readily available elsewhere, and their price does
not affect the overall economy. Oil is different.
a glaring lack of candid articles on the status quo of Venezuela in the
American mass media. Clearly, that unimposing body of bias, the
Fourth Estate, is not interested in investigative journalism when it
might show a leftist leader and regime in an unfavorable light. Their interest is in negative stories which place the United States,
its citizens or the Bush Administration in an unfavorable light.
They are certainly not focused on evolving potential dangers to this
hemisphere, such as a Marxist tyrant proceeding merrily along,
corrupting an election, wrecking his economy, arresting his opponents,
suppressing free trade unions, and seizing private land to
The strength of that indictment is the
palpable lack of news regarding current conditions in Venezuela.
The MSM to date has had little to say regarding this developing
problem. Instead, its headlines center on the here and now, such
as wars, cataclysmic occurrences, Hollywood divorces, personal
tragedies, and celebrity trials. Such headlines hold the
attention of the masses for a while, and are soon replaced by other
“feedings.” Media loves the story they can shape, build upon and
aggrandize to their liking.
Venezuela ranks sixth among oil exporters (2003), and more importantly, has the seventh largest proven oil reserves (2003) in the world today. This places it directly behind Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, U.A.E. and Russia.
More than half of its total daily oil production is shipped directly to the U. S.,
which places Venezuela as one of the top four sources of U.S. petroleum
imports (Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia are the others). Its
current share of the American petroleum market is 11.3% - down
significantly from 17.4% in 1997.
Has anything of
consequence happened in Venezuela since 1997? Yes – and his name
is Hugo Chávez! This leftist ideologue ascended to the presidency
of his country in 1999.
Chávez, a former paratroop
colonel, led a failed coup d'état in February, 1992, against then
President Carlos Andrés Pérez, another leftist who had previously
nationalized the country’s petroleum and iron-ore industry. For
his failure, Chávez was rewarded with a two-year stint in prison until
he was pardoned.
Upon his release, he formed a new
political party, Movement for the Fifth Republic, and in December 1998
won the presidential election with 56.2% of the vote. Since then
• Had journalists followed, arrested, tear-gassed, shot at and killed.
• Had political opponents physically tortured.
• Called Capitalism “the road to hell” and “the champion of inequality.”
• Visited Saddam Hussein in 2000
• Dissolved labor unions
• Visited Spain’s new Socialist Prime Minister Zapatero (Nov 2004)
Visited China (Dec 2004) and signed trade agreements, which include the
exportation of oil and gas to China
• Provided his good friend, Fidel Castro with 53,000 barrels of oil daily
• Survived a coup attempt in 2002
• Referred to President Bush as a pendejo
as many communists before him, had neatly hidden himself for a while in
the cloak of nationalism. One remembers how Castro had U. S.
liberals pandering to him in ’59 and ’60, appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’s TV ancestor, Jack Paar.
Chávez, the new
“Castro of the Caribbean,” however, is not the usual socialist, just
intent on exporting the Marxist-Leninist line to vulnerable neighboring
countries with force of arms. Imagine if you will, Saudi Arabia
with Castro as its leader, or Kuwait with Saddam Hussein in
charge! To those possessed with any common sense, or some small
degree of perception, this plate of distaste is most unappetizing.
might be hard for some to fathom how this South American country,
fifteen hundred miles from U. S. shores, can be any menace to our well
being, economic or otherwise.
As one of the five
founding members of OPEC, Venezuela helps to control a powerful
influence over a number of industrialized economies. The question
is should such power be trusted in the hands of people like Mr.
Hugo Chávez has vowed to
remain in power until 2021 and possibly this is what he admires about
Fidel Castro, who has lasted for forty-five years. Venezuela’s current
constitution allows for two six-year terms and so this ambition
presents something of a problem for Chávez, albeit, a minor one. Does
anyone care to wager on constitutional changes in Venezuela’s near
When Chávez first assumed power in 1999 oil was $8.00 a barrel.
At that price he couldn’t risk angering Wall Street and Washington.
However, with today’s oil cost at about $43.00 a barrel, Chávez is
quickly becoming financially secure enough to take the gamble.
recently agreed to sell China 120,000 barrels of fuel oil a
month. This agreement also allows China to help pump oil, set up
refineries and produce natural gas in Venezuela. Of course, China
needs oil to feed its growing economy,
so diversifying its supply sources makes sense. However, I get nervous
when an adversary sets up shop in my
I harken back to my formative years, in daydreams arbitrarily
remembered, I recall the old Mayflower Restaurant, once located in
downtown Pittsburgh. Upon its white and turquoise green tiled
walls, was a quotation, which for some obscure reason I still
recall. Above the quote was a large picture of a donut and
underneath it said, “As you ramble through life, whatever be your goal,
keep your eye upon the donut, and not upon the hole.”
the coming months, as news of Venezuela’s turn to the dark side
grudgingly trickles to the forefront of the mainstream media, keep your
eye upon the real stakes in Venezuela, and not upon trivialized
accounts given by those who have contrary agendas. This is one of
the most important stories of our time.
© by Vcrisis.com & the author