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The toll of a war

Report from the Independent

130.000 British and American soldiers troops are in action in Iraq from a total force of 250.000 in the Gulf. The Allies have launched 725 Tomahawk cruise missiles, flown 18.000 sorties, dropped 50 cluster bombs and discharged 12.000 precision-guided munitions. There have been an estimated 1.252 Iraqi civilian deaths, 57 Kurdish deaths and 5.103 civilian injuries. 88 Allied troops have been killed in combat, 27 of whom are British. At least 19 Allied soldiers are missing, 41 Allied soldiers have been killed in "friendly fire" incidents or battlefield accidents. 9 journalists have been killed or unaccounted for. There have been 2 suicide attacks on US troops, killing 7 soldiers. 8.023 Iraqi combatants have been taken prisoner of war. So far, 0 weapons of mass destruction have been found. 1.500.000 people in southern Iraq are at risk of death from diarrhoea. 17.000.000 Iraqis are reliant on food aid, which has now been stopped. 600 oil wells and refineries are now under British an American control. 80bn dollars has been set aside by US Congress to meet the cost of war. A capital city of 5.000.000 people now stands between the Allied forces and their 1 objective: the removal of Saddam Hussein.

The toll of Hugo Chavez

0 British and American soldiers are in action in Venezuela. The Allies have launched 0 Tomahawk missiles, flown 0 sorties, dropped 0 cluster bombs and discharged 0 precision-guided munitions. 33.523 people have been killed in Venezuela during President Hugo Chávez's term and only 22 percent of those cases have been solved by police forces, while a mere 14 percent are prosecuted. There have been two military coup attempts in contemporary Venezuela, both led by Hugo Chavez and his followers. The Bolivarian revolution after President Hugo Chávez announced late 2001 the beginning of its consolidation, and after the Revolution Council was sworn in on January 7, 2002, has produced a total of 243 attacks, 51 dead, 792 injured, 86 minor lesions, 68 bombs, and 115 attempts and bomb threats. Since the beginning of the year 2000, 188 journalists have been victims of attacks by the government and its militias, Hugo Chavez -democratically elected president of the country- has violated 55 articles of the constitution. By January 15th, 2003, 28 suits have been filed in the Supreme Court against president Chávez, dealing with crimes against humanity, human rights violations, illegal appropriation of public funds and damages to the public treasury. He is being investigated by the International Criminal Court for such crimes, he has violated the public treasury by approving an unconstitutional energy agreement with Cuba which debt amounts to date to 266 million dollars, he has sacked 17.000 workers from PDVSA, he has reduced the security budget to 0.2 % of GDP, he was / is engaged in protecting international criminals such as Wladimiro Montesinos (Alberto Fujimori strong man) and Manuel Marulanda leader of FARC (Colombian guerrilla group). Tortures, police abuses and "extra judicial" murders were frequent in Venezuela in 2002, according to a report by the US State Department on human rights made public on Monday 1st of April, 137 "extra judicial" murders have been committed by security forces belonging to the Venezuelan government from October 2001 to September 2002. A total of 324 cases of torture were registered by the Venezuelan Program of Education and Action on Human Rights (PROVEA), which denounces that the government failed to punish the people responsible for these crimes. Impunity, abuses and discrimination against women, children, and indigenous people are also very serious problems in the country. The crime rate of the country has jumped from 8th in 1998 to 2nd in 2003 among Latin American countries.

Inflation of well over 35% (from under 10% a year ago), well over 63% devaluation during the last two years, historically high oil prices (meaning over USD 100 bn in revenues in the last four years), a two-year -21.5% recession, 18% and rising unemployment. Per capita income in 2003 is equal to that of 1953, the internal debt passed from 2.5 trillion Bs in 1998 to 11.4 trillion Bs in 2002. During Hugo Chavez's presidency the national currency has accumulated a devaluation of 180 %. Percentages of poor households, critical poverty have increased to unforeseen levels, of 18 social programmes that were assisting poor sectors at a national scale in 1998; 4 have received a budget increase ( especially those which deal with "community development" and Bolivarian schools, i.e. political indoctrination ), 6 have seen its budgets decrease and 8 have been eliminated.

The insecurity, economic devastation, inflation, unemployment and devaluation that Venezuelans face today are usually only experienced by countries waging war. When there is no one left to blame, Mr. Chávez will step down, ending one of the greatest wars that any man has waged against himself, as the culprit of state terrorism, corruption, economic collapse and extreme poverty. The Editor.


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