Richard Moore

Date: Mon, 3 Dec 2007 11:26:16 -0500
To: •••@••.•••
From: Greg Palast <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Fear of Chavez is Fear of Democracy

Bush: If it¹s our oil, why do Venezuelans get to vote on it?
GOP panicked that counting votes in Venezuela will spread to Florida

by Greg Palast
Monday December 3, 2007

The Family Bush can fix Florida. They can fix Ohio. But it¹s just driving them 
crazy that they can¹t fix the vote in Venezuela.

[Note: Watch the reports taken from the Palast BBC investigations in Venezuela 
in the newly released DVD, 
Assassination of Hugo Chavez.³]

The Bush Administration and its press puppies - the same ones who couldn¹t get 
enough of the purple thumbs of voters of Iraq - are absolutely livid that this 
weekend the electorate of Venezuela had the opportunity to vote.

Typical was the mouth-breathing editorial by the San Francisco Chronicle, that 
the referendum could make Hugo Chavez, Venezuela¹s President, ³a constitutional 
dictator for life.² And no less a freedom fighter than Donald Rumsfeld, from the
height of the Washington Post, said that by voting, Venezuela was ³receding into
dictatorship.² Oh, my!

Given that Chavez¹ referendum was defeated at the ballot box, we now that, as a 
dictator, Chavez is a flop. Of course, without meaning to gainsay Secretary 
Rumsfeld, maybe Chavez is not a dictator.

Let¹s get clear exactly what this vote was about. Firstly, it was a referendum 
to change the nation¹s constitution to end term limits for President.

Oh, horror! Imagine if we eliminated term limits in the US! We could end up 
stuck with a president - like Franklin Roosevelt. Worse, if Bill Clinton could 
have run again, we¹d have missed out on the statesmanship of Junior Bush. While 
US media called Chavez a ³tyrant² for suggesting an end to term limits, they 
somehow forgot to smear the tyrant tag on Mr. Clinton for suggesting the same 
for the America.

We were not told this weekend¹s referendum was a vote on term limits, rather, we
were told by virtually every US news outlet that the referendum was to make 
Chavez, ³President for Life.² The ³President for Life² canard was mis-reported 
by no less than The New York Times.

But ending term limits does not mean winning the term. As Chavez himself told 
me, ³It¹s up to the people² whether he gets reelected. And that infuriates the 
US Powers That Be.

Secondly, beyond ending term limits, the referendum would have loaded the 
nation¹s constitution with changes in property law, work hours and so many other
complex economic adjustments that the entire referendum sank of its own weight.

It¹s the Oil.

Term limits and work hours in Venezuela? Why was this a crisis for Washington?

Why is the Bush crew so bonkers about Hugo? Is it because Venezuela sits on the 
world¹s largest reserve of coconuts?

Like Operation Iraqi Liberation (²OIL²) - it¹s all about the crude, dude. And 
lots of it. The US Department of Energy documents I obtained indicate that the 
guys holding Bush¹s dipstick figure that Venezuela is sitting on 1.36 trillion 
barrels of crude, five times the reserves of Saudi Arabia.

Chavez¹ continuing tenure means that Venezuelans¹ huge supply of oil will now be
in the hands of Š Venezuelans!

As Arturo Quiran, resident of a poor folks¹ housing complex, told me, ³Ten, 
fifteen years ago Š there was a lot of oil money here in Venezuela but we didn¹t
see it.² Notably, Quiran doesn¹t particularly agree with Chavez¹ politics. But, 
he thought Americans should understand that under Chavez¹ Administration, 
there¹s a doctor¹s office in his building with ³free operations, x-rays, 
medicines. Education also. People who never knew how to read and write now know 
how to sign their own papers.²

Not everyone is pleased. As one TV news anchor, violently anti-Chavez, told me 
in derisive tones, ³Chavez gives them (the poor) bricks and bread!² - how dare 
he! - so, they vote for him.

Big Oil has better ideas for Venezuela, best expressed in several Wall Street 
Journal articles attacking Chavez for spending his nation¹s oil wealth on 
³social programs² rather than on more drilling platforms to better fill the SUVs
of Texas.

Chavez has committed other crimes in Washington¹s eyes. Not only has this uppity
brown man spent Venezuela¹s oil wealth in Venezuela, he withdrew $20 billion 
from the US Federal Reserve. Weirdly, Venezuela¹s previous leaders, though the 
nation was dirt poor, lent billions to the US Treasury on crap terms. Chavez has
said, Basta! to this game, and has called for keeping South America¹s capital in
Š South America! Oh, no!

Oh, and did I mention that Chavez told Exxon it had to pay more than a 1% 
royalty to his nation on the heavy crude the company extracted?

And that¹s why they have to kill him. In 2002, The New York Times sickeningly 
applauded the coup d¹etat against Chavez. But that failed. Therefore, as the 
electorate of Venezuela is obstinately refusing to vote as Condi Rice tells 
them, there¹s only one solution left for democracy-loving Bush-niks, the view 
express out loud by our President¹s spiritual advisor, Pat Robertson:

³We have this enemy to our south controlling a huge pool of oil. Hugo Chavez 
thinks we¹re trying to assassinate him. I think we ought to go ahead and do it. 
Š Š We don¹t need another $200 billion war Š It¹s a whole lot easier to have 
some covert operatives do the job.²

But Hugo¹s not my enemy. Indeed, he¹s made a damn good offer to the American 
people: oil for $50 a barrel - nearly half of what it sells today. By locking in
a long-term price, Venezuela loses its crazy Iraq war oil-price windfall. In 
return, we agree not to let oil prices fall through the floor (it dropped to $9 
a barrel in 1998) and bankrupt his nation. But Saudi Arabia doesn¹t like that 
deal. And Abdullah¹s wish is George Bush¹s command. (Interestingly, Chavez¹ 
fellow no-term-limits dictator Bill Clinton endorsed the concept.)

I don¹t agree with everything Chavez does. And I¹ve found some of his opponents¹
point well taken. But unlike Bush, I don¹t think I should have a veto over the 
Venezuelan vote.

And the locals¹ sentiments are quite clear. I drove with one opposition 
candidate, Julio Borges, on a campaign stop to a small town three hours from 
Caracas. We met his supporters - or, more accurately, his lone supporter. The 
³rally² was in her kitchen. She served us delicious arepas.

The next day, I returned to that very same town when Chavez arrived. Nearly a 
thousand screaming fans showed up - and an equal number were turned away. (The 
British Telegraph laughably reports that Chavez¹ boosters appear ³under 
duress.²) You¹d think they were showing for a taping of ³South American Idol.² 
(Well, the Venezuelan President did break into song a few times.)

It¹s worth noting that Chavez¹ personal popularity doesn¹t extend to all his 
plans for ³Bolivarian² socialism. And that killed his referendum at the ballot 
box. I guess Chavez should have asked Jeb bush how to count votes in a 

So there you have it. Some guy who thinks he can take Venezuela¹s oil and oil 
money and just give it away to Venezuelans. And these same Venezuelans have the 
temerity to demand the right to pick the president of their choice! What is the 
world coming to?

In Orwellian Bush-speak and Times-talk, Chavez¹ referendum was portrayed before 
the vote as a trick, Saddam goes Latin. Maybe their real fear is that Chavez has
brought a bit of economic justice through the ballot box, a trend that could 
spread northward. Think about it: Chavez is funding full health care for all 
Venezuelans. What if that happened here?


Greg Palast has just returned from South America. Catch his investigations for 
BBC Television and Democracy Now! in the newly-released DVD, 
Assassination of Hugo Chavez, including Palast¹s interviews with Chavez, his 
opponents - even the man who kidnapped Chavez.

You can watch the trailer on 

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, The Best Democracy 
Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse. This week, Palast will release his new film on
Election Files: Theft of 2008, with music by Moby.

These films are made available only as gifts to donors to the Palast 
Investigative Fund, a not-for-profit charitable foundation supporting 
investigative reporting.

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