Venezuela: Dick Cheney, Hugo Chávez and Bill Clinton's band

Campaign News | Monday, 16 August 2004

Why Venezuela voted again for their 'Negro e Indio' president

By Greg Palast

Monday 16 August 2004: There's so much BS and baloney thrown around about Venezuela that I may be violating some rule of US journalism by providing some facts. Let's begin with this: 77% of Venezuela's farmland is owned by 3% of the population, the 'hacendados.'

I met one of these farmlords in Caracas at an anti-Chavez protest march. Oddest demonstration I've ever seen: frosted blondes in high heels clutching designer bags, screeching, "Chavez - dic-ta-dor!" The plantation owner griped about the "socialismo" of Chavez, then jumped into his Jaguar convertible.

That week, Chavez himself handed me a copy of the "socialist" manifesto that so rattled the man in the Jag. It was a new law passed by Venezuela's Congress which gave land to the landless. The Chavez law transferred only fields from the giant haciendas which had been left unused and abandoned.

This land reform, by the way, was promoted to Venezuela in the 1960s by that Lefty radical, John F. Kennedy. Venezuela's dictator of the time agreed to hand out land, but forgot to give peasants title to their property.

But Chavez won't forget, because the mirror reminds him. What the affable president sees in his reflection, beyond the ribbons of office, is a "negro e indio" - a "Black and Indian" man, dark as a cola nut, same as the landless and, until now, the hopeless. For the first time in Venezuela's history, the 80% Black-Indian population elected a man with skin darker than the man in the Jaguar.

So why, with a huge majority of the electorate behind him, twice in elections and today with a nearly two-to-one landslide victory in a recall referendum, is Hugo Chavez in hot water with our democracy-promoting White House?

Maybe it's the oil. Lots of it. Chavez sits atop a reserve of crude that rivals Iraq's. And it's not his presidency of Venezuela that drives the White House bananas, it was his presidency of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC. While in control of the OPEC secretariat, Chavez cut a deal with our maximum leader of the time, Bill Clinton, on the price of oil. It was a 'Goldilocks' plan. The price would not be too low, not too high; just right, kept between $20 and $30 a barrel.

But Dick Cheney does not like Clinton nor Chavez nor their band. To him, the oil industry's (and Saudi Arabia's) freedom to set oil prices is as sacred as freedom of speech is to the ACLU. I got this info, by the way, from three top oil industry lobbyists.

Why should Chavez worry about what Dick thinks? Because, said one of the oil men, the Veep in his Bunker, not the pretzel-chewer in the White House, "runs energy policy in the United States." And what seems to have gotten our Veep's knickers in a twist is not the price of oil, but who keeps the loot from the current band-busting spurt in prices. Chavez had his Congress pass another oil law, the "Law of Hydrocarbons," which changes the split. Right now, the oil majors - like PhillipsConoco - keep 84% of the proceeds of the sale of Venezuela oil; the nation gets only 16%.

Chavez wanted to double his Treasury's take to 30%. And for good reason. Landless, hungry peasants have, over decades, drifted into Caracas and other cities, building million-person ghettos of cardboard shacks and open sewers. Chavez promised to do something about that.

And he did. "Chavez gives them bread and bricks," one Venezuelan TV reporter told me. The blonde TV newscaster, in the middle of a publicity shoot, said the words "pan y ladrillos" with disdain, making it clear that she never touched bricks and certainly never waited in a bread line.

But to feed and house the darker folk in those bread and brick lines, Chavez would need funds, and the 16% slice of the oil pie wouldn't do it. So the President of Venezuela demanded 30%, leaving Big Oil only 70%. Suddenly, Bill Clinton's ally in Caracas became Mr. Cheney's -- and therefore, Mr. Bush's -- enemy.

So began the Bush-Cheney campaign to "Floridate" the will of the Venezuela electorate. It didn't matter that Chavez had twice won election. Winning most of the votes, said a White House spokesman, did not make Chavez' government "legitimate." Hmmm. Secret contracts were awarded by our Homeland Security spooks to steal official Venezuela voter lists. Cash passed discreetly from the US taxpayer, via the so-called 'Endowment for Democracy,' to the Chavez-haters running today's "recall" election.

A brilliant campaign of placing stories about Chavez' supposed unpopularity and "dictatorial" manner seized US news and op-ed pages, ranging from the San Francisco Chronicle to the New York Times.

But some facts just can't be smothered in propaganda ink. While George Bush can appoint the government of Iraq and call it "sovereign," the government of Venezuela is appointed by its people. And the fact is that most people in this slum-choked land don't drive Jaguars or have their hair tinted in Miami. Most look in the mirror and see someone "negro e indio," as dark as their President Hugo.

The official CIA handbook on Venezuela says that half the nation's farmers own only 1% of the land. They are the lucky ones, as more peasants owned nothing. That is, until their man Chavez took office. Even under Chavez, land redistribution remains more a promise than an accomplishment. But today, the landless and homeless voted their hopes, knowing that their man may not, against the armed axis of local oligarchs and Dick Cheney, succeed for them. But they are convinced he would never forget them.

And that's a fact.

Greg Palast's reports from Venezuela for BBC Television's Newsnight and the Guardian papers of Britain earned a California State University Journalism School "Project Censored" award for 2002. View photos and Palast's reports on Venezuela at:

The Venezuelan people have given a historic lesson in democracy


THIS August 15 the Venezuelan people gave the world a historic lesson in the exercise of true democracy and national sovereignty.

For the eighth time in five years, President Hugo Chávez has received the overwhelming majority support of his people. It has been undisputedly demonstrated that his government today has unquestionable legitimacy, in sharp contrast with the crisis - due to lack of popular support and moral authority - currently being suffered by several Latin American presidents, all of them subject to the formulas of the United States and the International Monetary Fund.

The mass attendance by Venezuelans at the polls was a veritable example of participation and commitment without precedent in Venezuela and in many countries of the region.

The referendum was a great popular victory in which broad sectors of Venezuelan society, traditionally excluded from the exercise of their political rights, implemented their will for the first time.

This event was preceded by a massive registration drive for new voters and the transparent reorganization of the electoral lists at a time when in Latin America and in the world, a high degree of majority abstention is common, as is frequent electoral fraud.

It was an ordered, verifiable and clean process, in which the potential for fraud was excluded and which included all the conditions necessary to ensure reliability and a sound outcome. The National Electoral Council (NEC) acted with acknowledged integrity, effectiveness and flexibility in order to respond to the mass nature of the vote.

After eight elections or plebiscites, this referendum has once more established that the Bolivarian process is profound and undoubtedly participatory, and is establishing new and higher precedents for systems considered democratic.

The staunchest critics of Venezuela will have to admit that they do not have institutions that are even similar, and that their governments would not survive a similar referendum.

Preliminary results from the NEC, just four hours after closing a significant number of polling stations, disclosed 4,991,483 votes, or 58.2% of the 8,568,000 ballots cast - a 17-point lead over the opposition - giving a resounding “NO!” to the question of whether the constitutional president of Venezuela should be recalled.

Using ambiguities and threats, the opposition rapidly orchestrated a media show, in which it was unable to provide a single piece of evidence to level accusations of fraud against the National Electoral Council or the clearly ratified president of Venezuela. Afterwards, it mobilized paltry demonstrations and irresponsibly convened people to acts of civil disobedience.

They are the same opposition groups, violent, subversive and fascist in nature, that failed first in a military coup and then in the oil coup, both of them quashed by the Venezuelan people.

However, many international observers, among them former President Carter and the secretary general of the OAS, corroborated the results and called for them to be observed.

The Cuban government expresses warm solidarity greetings to President Chávez and to the Venezuelan government and people for this brilliant and glorious outcome, which renews the hope that every day, the dreams of Bolívar and Martí are continuing to become a reality in Venezuela and in Our America.

Havana, August 16, 2004

Growing numbers of Cuban Americans favour change in US Cuba policy

Polls indicate switch in views of Miami residents

Havana (RHC)August 16 - Recent polls have indicated that Cuban Americans are changing their views regarding US policy towards Cuba, according to the Charleston Gazette published on Friday.

The newspaper adds that certain US politicians have pandered to right wing Cuban Americans mainly in Miami. Few have dared to challenge Washington's blockade against Cuba.

Friday's editorial pointed out that now a new generation of Cuban Americans (68 percent) think it should be up to the Cuban people to determine the future of the island. Given a choice, 55 percent were ready to support a more moderate US presidential candidate who said the blockade has been useless.

Another survey revealed that a slight majority (55 percent) of adults in the Cuban American community said that the 40 year old policy of confrontation between Cuban émigrés and the Cuban government has been a failure. A similar part of that community (53 percent) wants to lift

all restrictions on sending remittances to their relatives on the island.

The editorial concluded by saying that Washington's blockade against Cuba has now set a record for longevity of an ineffective policy. We will applaud, said the Charleston Gazette, politicians of any stripe who have the courage to declare the obvious and work to open travel, communication and trade with the neighboring island.

Bush's pick for CIA spied on Cuba

Porter J. Goss the Florida Republican congressman nominated to head the CIA apparently spent most of his career as a clandestine operative in Latin America with a long stint in the early 1960s working out of Miami.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer newspaper of August 10 reported that while Goss's career with the CIA is still shrouded in mystery, it is known that his first job was probably recruiting for the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

The newspaper reports that Goss joined the CIA just out of Yale, where he earned a degree in ancient Greek in 1960.

He worked in Miami, which was becoming a magnet for Cuban emigres. Some were recruited by the CIA and trained for what turned out to be one of the agency's greatest disasters: the 1961 invasion of Cuba that was crushed by the Cuban people at the Bay of Pigs.

A year later, the world narrowly averted nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis involving the United States and Soviet Union.

During a 2002 interview with The Washington Post, Goss joked that he performed photo interpretation and "small-boat handling," which led to "some very interesting moments in the Florida Straits." He acknowledged he had recruited and run foreign agents.

The Bay of Pigs plan had been inspired partly by a successful CIA-backed overthrow of Guatemala's populist government in 1954. That helped set off Guatemala's 34-year civil war, which was growing as Goss worked in the region.

Later, Goss became an agent in London, the newspaper says.

From the Cuban Press:

Bush is more and more like Nixon

? A sullen and depressed president in the White House retreating into a private and paranoid world is a cause for concern

By Gabriel Molina of Granma International Review

Havana, August 5: PRESIDENT George W. Bush is steadily becoming more similar to Richard M. Nixon in the days leading up to the latter’s resignation.

“From what people who work there tell me, this White House looks more and more like Richard M. Nixon’s,” stated George Harleigh, a retired professor who worked there with Nixon.

Harleigh compared the Bush of 2004 to the Nixon of 1974, during the scandal involving Cuban-born “plumbers” who were spying on the Democratic Party leadership, which unleashed an avalanche of revelations regarding the dirty methods that characterized the Nixon administration.

President Fidel Castro’s remarks during his July 26 speech regarding the effects of alcoholism on W. Bush have caught national and international attention. An July 29 article on the web site Capitol Hill Blue (CHB) signed by Teresa Hampton and William D. McTavish refers to Bush’s bad humor and isolation, a recurrent theme among his advisors and employees, who find him “retreating into a private, paranoid world where only the ardent loyalists are welcome.”

“Bush’s erratic behavior and sharp mood swings led White House physician Colonel Richard J. Tubb to put the President on powerful anti-depressant drugs after he stormed off stage rather than answer reporters' questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Richard J. Lay. “Keep those motherfuckers away from me,” he screamed at an aide backstage. “If you can’t, I’ll find someone who can.” However, White House insiders are saying that the strong prescription medications seem to increase Bush’s sullen behavior towards those around him,” the article reads. At the White House, it is said that access to Bush is very controlled. Only advisors such as Karl Rove and Karen Hughes are allowed. Even the White House chief of staff has complained that he has less and less access to the President.Tom Ridge, who is Homeland Security Secretary, and heading the government’s war on terrorism, says that he has little time with the president, and “gets most of his marching orders lately from Ashcroft,” the CHB article reads. RUMSFELD HAS FALLEN FROM FAVOR

The article quotes one senior Homeland Security aide as saying, “Too many make the mistake of thinking Dick Cheney is the real power in the Bush administration. They’re wrong. It’s Ashcroft...” It continues by quoting aides who say that Bush and Ashcroft “both believe they are on a mission from God.” Cheney continues to be in Bush’s tight inner circle, but Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld “has fallen out of favor and tells his staff that ‘no matter what happens in November, I’m outta here,’ “ the article reads. Not just Justin Frank - the prominent Washington psychiatrist quoted by Fidel - attributes everything to “Bush’s paranoid and hallucinatory personality.” Dr. Frank’s colusions have been confirmed psychiatrists including Dr. James Grotstein, Professor at UCLA Medical Center, and Dr. Irvin Yalom, MD, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University Medical School.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” the article quotes one aide as saying. “We can’t have him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation but we also need a President who is alert mentally.”

Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after July 8, when Bush, upset, stormed off, refusing to answer reporters' questions about his relationship with Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay, who was indicted for fraud.

Bush’s mental stability has become the topic of Washington whispers in recent months. Capitol Hill Blue first reported on June 4 about increasing concern among White House aides over the President’s wide mood swings and obscene outbursts.

At first, loyal Republicans dismissed the reports as anti-Bush propaganda, but they were later confirmed by Dr. Frank, who refers to a life sprinkled with sadism, from exploding frogs and insulting journalists to “pumping his hand gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad.”

One Republican Party consultant - who obviously didn’t want to be identified - is already advising aspiring congressmen to keep their distance from Bush, saying that the real possibility that the president’s behavior is not good for the party or the country needs to be faced.


More recently, on July 30, Capitol Hill Blue revealed that Nancy Reagan, the former First Lady, told the Republican Party that she would not support the reelection of George W. Bush.

Ronald Reagan’s widow, a Republican icon, has turned down a number of invitations to appear at the party’s National Convention and she told Ed Gillespie, the party’s president, that she would not tolerate the use of the words or images of her late husband in the re-election campaign.

Ron, Nancy’s son, spoke at the recently concluded Democratic Convention, and in Esquire magazine, he wrote “George W. Bush and his administration have taken normal mendacity to a startling new level far beyond lies of convenience. They traffic in big lies.”

His sister Patty joined Ron in opposing Bush. The only member of the family who supports Bush’s reelection is Michael Reagan, the adopted conservative son of the late former president.

Whatever the reason, old experts and authorities on the White House see a strong parallel between Bush and Nixon. It is not by chance that Cuban groups associated with the CIA and former dictator Batista have taken charge of the dirty work of both presidents, notably during Watergate, and in abominable drug trafficking to finance the war against the Sandinista Revolution. The conclusions of a 1978 U.S. Congressional Committee that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy refer to the involvement of some of those Cuban terrorists.

Since the 2000 elections, they have convinced Bush that he owes them his election, and they are collecting on the debt, meddling in U.S. policy on Latin America, via Roger Noriega, today’s figurehead for sinister characters like Otto Reich, the Díaz Balarts and the Ros family.

Recently, a spokesman for the Democratic Party said that they would try to make electoral mileage in Florida out of Bush’s recent outrages against Cuban-Americans. But in order to get non-voters in that state to the polls, one has to get down to brass tacks: to break with the fascist, embezzling, murderous fundamentalism of those terrorists.

To suscribe to Granma International by mail contact CSC on +44 (0)20 7263 6452

This article can be found on the Granma International website at:

The article in Capitol Hill Blue to which it refers can be found at:

| top | back | home |
Share on FacebookTweet this