Who’s Afraid Of Venezuela-Cuba Alliance?


Richard Moore

From: J Macgregor
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2005 04:59:44 EST
Subject: Fwd: Who's Afraid Of a Venezuela-Cuba Alliance?
To: •••@••.•••

From: "Qais Ghanem" <•••@••.•••>
To: "1Ghanem" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Who's Afraid Of a Venezuela-Cuba Alliance?
Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2005 17:24:56 -0500

Who's Afraid Of Venezuela-Cuba Alliance?
by Jane Franklin
March 14, 2005
For a long time there was only one country in Latin America
offering free health care to all its citizens. Now there are
two. The governments of both countries regard health care as a
basic human right. So Cuba, rich in health care, and
Venezuela, rich in oil, have arranged a barter deal for the
benefit of each population. This would seem to be a major
historical example of beneficial free trade. Who could
possibly object?

Well, Condoleezza Rice for one, who seems quite disturbed by
this alliance. During an interview last October with the
editorial board of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, then
National Security Advisor Rice called President Hugo Chçvez "a
real problem." She said, "He will continue his contacts with
Fidel Castro, maybe giving Castro one last fling to try to
affect he politics of Latin America." Why is she so alarmed?

In that same interview, she praised Russia in contrast to the
Soviet Union. "Amazing things are happening in the economy,"
she enthused, citing a "remarkable" example of progress:
"Putin is telling people they're going to have to pay for
their health care." Condoleezza Rice with roots in Alabama,
where many people cannot afford adequate health care, has
grown up to become a member of the corporate elite, on the
board of directors for such giants of industry as
Transamerica, Charles Schwab, and Hewlett Packard. Like her
boss, President George W. Bush, and other members of his
cabinet, she is invested in the oil industry, with a direct
interest in Venezuelan oil through Chevron Corporation. In
1995, the same year that Chevron signed an agreement in
Caracas to operate Venezuela's Boscan heavy-oil field over a
20 to 30-year period, Chevron named its largest oil tanker for
a member of its Board of Directors: Condoleezza Rice. After
Rice became National Security Advisor in 2001, Chevron renamed
the tanker to avoid such a blatant connection.

Now Miss Oil Tanker of 1995 is Secretary of State, in charge
of implementing U.S. policy toward all countries. It is no
wonder she is eager to support such anti-Chçvez activities as
the oil strike of 2002 that temporarily devastated the
Venezuelan economy. And it is no surprise that the alliance
between Havana and Caracas causes great consternation for the
Bush administration. Take the issue of free trade. For decades
Havana has refused to be controlled by Washington's trade
mechanisms, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF),
with its consequential subtractions for domestic welfare and
additions for foreign debt. In 1985 Cuba hosted a conference
on the Latin American debt crisis where delegates called, to
no avail, for a basic restructuring of the relationship
between debtor and creditor nations. Now Venezuela has become
a partner in resistance to this financial bondage, although
Venezuela, unlike Cuba, belongs to international financial
institutions such as the IMF.

Instead of conceding to the Free Trade Area of the Americas
(FTAA) that Washington is trying to impose, Venezuela and Cuba
have launched the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas
(ALBA), an effort to unify Latin American countries in the
21st century's continuation of the work of Sim?n Bolóvar, who
was born in Venezuela, and José Martó, who was born in Cuba.
On December 14, President Fidel Castro and President Hugo
Chçvez signed a far-reaching agreement "towards the process of
integration," including "the exchange of goods and services
which best correspond to the social and economic necessities
of both countries."

One example is literacy: "Both parties will work together and
in coordination with other Latin American countries to
eradicate illiteracy in third countries" (Article 5). The
Cuban teaching method known as "Si se puede" (Yes I can) is
rapidly increasing literacy among Venezuelans and is already
used in many other countries, including Argentina, Bolivia,
Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Mozambique, New Zealand,
Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Peru. What could be more conducive to
creating the democracy that George Bush claims to want to
bring to the world? Why should Washington not support the
expansion of literacy that is a necessity for true democracy?

The aim "to eradicate illiteracy in third countries" strikes
fear in the Bush administration. In that same interview last
October, Rice said "the key" to stopping Hugo Chçvez "is to
mobilize the region to both watch him and be vigilant about
him and to pressure him." She explained, "We can't do it
alone....But the OAS (Organization of American States) can do
a lot." On November 20, with Rice on her way to the State
Department, The Washington Post followed up with an editorial
called "Watch Venezuela," advising that Rice's plan to isolate
Chçvez "sounds like a wise policy."

But the horse was already out of the barn. Venezuela
galvanized the creation of the South American Union (or the
South American Community of Nations) in December, with the
goal of creating a free trade zone among its members:
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador,
Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. One major expression
of this unity is Telesur, a television network to broadcast,
starting this year, about Latin America from Latin America.

True to her plan, once she got her new job in January,
Secretary of State Rice lost no time in trying to destroy that
unity. The State Department sent letters to Latin American
leaders in order to mobilize them against Chçvez in a dispute
between Venezuela and Colombia. Nobody answered the State
Department's call. U.S. pressure proved decidedly unhelpful,
exacerbating the conflict. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe
turned for help to none other than Fidel Castro. Castro sent
Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque to Caracas. Brazil and
Peru also mediated. But as Uribe publicly acknowledged, it was
Castro's help that was crucial to the peaceful outcome when
Uribe met with Chçvez in Caracas. Ironically, Cuba, which was
able to mediate successfully, is not even a member of the OAS,
having been expelled in 1962 as part of Washington's
mobilization of Latin American countries against Cuba during
Operation Mongoose, another attempt, following the Bay of
Pigs, to overthrow the Cuban government.

Bush administration officials and media have escalated their
attacks against Hugo Chçvez and Fidel Castro. In the opening
statement of her Senate confirmation hearing on January 18-19,
Rice called Cuba an "outpost of tyranny." Perhaps the label of
"terrorist nation" has lost its fear-inducing effect even
though Cuba remains on the State Department's list of
terrorist nations. Nobody can rationally figure out how Cuba
is a terrorist threat, especially after the total discrediting
of John Bolton's claim in 2002 that Cuba's medical system is a
cover for bioterrorism. So now the State Department is using
"tyranny" as the buzz word because Fidel Castro has not been
elected in a U.S.-approved kind of election like the one that
took place in 1901 under U.S. occupation--comparable to the
January election in Iraq.

Nevermind that in 1952 when Castro was running for Congress,
Washington supported a coup that installed the dictatorship of
General Fulgencio Batista, canceling the election and
suspending the Constitution. Nevermind that the Helms-Burton
law of 1996 makes it illegal in the United States for Fidel
Castro (or his brother Ra?l) to run in a Cuban election. If
Cuba were to hold such an election, the results would not be
recognized by the United States.

Hugo Chçvez was elected in 1998 and re-elected with 59.5
percent of the vote in 2000 (the same year that Bush was
elected by the Supreme Court). In 2002, he was restored to
power in two days by his people after a coup supported by
Washington and cheered on by the U.S. media, notably The New
York Times. In 2004, Chçvez won a referendum monitored by
international observers, including former President Jimmy
Carter. Yet in her confirmation hearing, Rice openly
threatened the elected government of Venezuela when she said
she wants the OAS to hold accountable "leaders who do not
govern democratically, even if they are democratically

Of course U.S. overthrows of elected governments are nothing
new, as demonstrated in Brazil, Chile, the Dominican Republic,
and Haiti, to name a few. Venezuela is now instituting land
reform, the very issue that led in 1954 to the CIA's overthrow
of the elected government in Guatemala. Right on cue, CIA
Director Porter Goss, in his February 16 testimony before the
Senate Intelligence Committee, named Venezuela among
"potential flashpoints in 2005" because "Chçvez is
consolidating his power by using technically legal tactics to
target his opponents and meddling in the region, supported by

Another U.S. method of "regime change" has been assassination
as documented by the 1975 Senate Select Intelligence Committee
hearings in the wake of the war against Vietnam when, for a
brief period, some members of Congress dared to attempt to
rectify a few of the most murderous practices of U.S. foreign
and domestic policy. Fidel Castro was of course a frequent
target. In an incisive speech to the OAS on February 23,
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Aló Rodróguez said:

"The absurdity of the accusations levied against our
government would not bother us in the least if a multitude of
facts did not exist that prove that when such statements are
made, it's because, sooner or later, the attack will
follow....It is what happened with Allende, it is what
happened in the Dominican Republic, it is what happened in
Guatemala and countless other cases. For the same reason, we
cannot dismiss information from our intelligence services
concerning the physical liquidation of our president, the same
man who has been legitimated every time he has been subjected
to the scrutiny of the Venezuelan people."

Rodróguez noted that Article 1 of the OAS Charter states that
the OAS "has no powers other than those expressly conferred
upon it by this Charter, none of whose provisions authorizes
it to intervene in matters that are within the internal
jurisdiction of the Member States."

He told the OAS members that, with all due respect, Venezuela
would like to "stress the need of social justice as a
fundamental component of democracy." The Foreign Minister
added that "democracy in a country like Venezuela, whose
concrete reality is one of poverty, depends on giving the
large majority of the country the opportunity to participate,
that is, the overcoming of poverty becomes the government's
first reason for being."

Imagine having a government that considers overcoming poverty
to be its first reason for being. Again and again, people ask,
Why does Washington oppose Cuba since it is obvious that Cuba
is not a threat to our national security? Rice calls it an
"outpost of tyranny," but the real reason is the example that
Cuba provides for people all over the planet who desperately
need health and education. Fidel Castro refuses to tell people
"they're going to have to pay for their health care." And now
Hugo Chçvez, with Cuba's cooperation, is putting that example
into action in Venezuela.

With Cuban doctors making a difference in the world, fear of
the Cuban example increases among those who have no intention
of dealing with the great challenges of our time: the millions
of people around the world without health care and without
literacy. Writing from Honduras in her February 18 column,
Mary Anastasia O'Grady, The Wall Street Journal's senior
editorial page writer and one of the most vociferous opponents
of both Castro and Chçvez, reports that Cuba sent 350 doctors
to Honduras in 1998 when Hurricane Mitch wreaked havoc in a
country already poverty-stricken. O'Grady is concerned that
the Cuban doctors have stayed to look after Honduran people
and that 600 Hondurans are studying medicine in Cuba so that
they can return to provide medical care for their people.
O'Grady calls the Cuban doctors "Fidel's foot soldiers" with
"the potential for soft indoctrination, a kind of tilling the
soil in the poor countryside so that it is ready when
political opportunity presents itself as it has in Venezuela
of late." To a rational human being, Cuba's ability to provide
health care and Venezuela's eagerness to work with Cuba to
provide health care present quite a different potential: that
is, human potential for unselfish cooperation.

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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

"Escaping The Matrix - 
Global Transformation: 
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