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Bush - Chavez Face Off

Rebellion in the Summit of the Americas

The Summit of the Americas was convened by Washington to favor the creation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), agreement that will perpetuate once more Cuba’s isolation. The meeting was opened with clear arguments of some Latin American countries which are sick of the US control in the continent. The Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez praised cooperation with Fidel Castro. The Argentinian president, Nestor Kichner had stated earlier that he would knock out Bush. In the interim, the president Luis Ignacio da Silva “Lula” warned that he would impose visas to the US citizens as a response to the humiliating treatment towards his fellow countrymen.

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The discussions of the special Summit of the Americas began on January 12, 2004, in the city of Monterrey (Mexico). All the countries of the region attended except Cuba, excluded since 1962 by the Organization of American States (OAE) and faced an embargo approved by the US Congress.

It is the fourth meeting of Heads of States and Government of the region. The first meeting was held in Miami (1994), the second in Satiago de Chile (Chile) and the third one in Quebec (2001). In the previous summits, the authority and control of the United States in the hemisphere, described as the "Monroe Doctrine", has never been questioned. That is not the case today. The Latin American opinions, since quite a long time ago, are hostile to the "Yankee imperialism", rejecting such domination, including the official version of the developments on September 11, 2001, and the "war on terror". The people are convinced that the first one is a fabrication and an excuse to attack with the second one. They are also sympathetic with the Palestinian people and the suffering it is going through.

In many Latin American countries, the votes have not favored the traditionally pro-US parties, but very much on the contrary, the voters have elected progressive personalities. A strategic alliance has been developed between the Venezuelan president Chavez and Fidel Castro of Cuba. The alliance develops a social policy, especially in terms of literacy and health care. A second geopolitical axis has been rebuilt between Brazil and Argentina, materializing the reactivation of Mercosur, and not only the Argentinian president Nestor Kichner but also the Brazilian president Lula have contributed a great deal to enhance this economic bond between the two powers from the southern cone. Washington can only count on the support of the neoliberal governments like Mexico, run by the conservative Vicente Fox and the Chilean government of the «socialist» president Lagos.

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At the beginning, the authority of the United States in the hemisphere, known as «Monroe doctrine», was never questioned in the Summit of the Americas. Washington’s allies are currently very few in South America. The leaders from Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela are claiming the United States a just and fair social order, thus defying the US.

The special Summit of the Americas should have had discussions on the issue of poverty and how to overcome such scourge. But Washington was interested in imposing and making two issues to be accepted which were not included in the agenda for discussions. One was to make the Latin American countries "to swallow the pill" of the FTAA for the said treaty to be enforced as of 2005, in spite of the various items for which there had not been time for discussions or negotiations. The other one was to find a consensus to keep Cuba isolated and excluded, something that the Latin American progressive presidents are describing as something outdated.

Venezuela is the oil exporter of the continent. In addition, it holds the post of Secretary General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), something that it strategic for the United States, especially for its vital interests and energy control. In order to finance its social policy, Hugo Chavez has an oil rent and its priority is to improve the administration of the national petroleum company (PDVSA) by controlling it through the Venezuelan state. Chavez fired the former PDVSA managers who were sabotaging a better economic management. This company which has been always a state-owned enterprise, was in fact controlled by the oligarchs and the big Venezuelan private banks before Chavez took power [1] .

After the coup d’état against Chavez in April 2002 that was encouraged and failed, the United States decided not to continue interfering in Venezuela but attack Iraq, a place where it was expected to exploit quickly the fuel. Although the US invaded and occupied Iraq without UN’s approval, its strategy to take control of the oil resources has been frustrated due to instability, chaos and Arab military resistance that prevail in those territories. This unexpected situation obliged the United States to focus again on Venezuela.

When it was known that the new Bolivarian Constitution established by Chavez in Venezuela recognizes the right of the people to remove elected politicians in democratic elections, the anti-Chavez opposition, using this tool that no other "democratic" Venezuelan government had used before, filed a petition against the president Hugo Chavez to remove him from power. But president Chavez is massively supported by the people, and mathematically speaking, it is impossible for the opposition - even though the opposition is very much determined, it is limited to certain urban bourgeois class - to be able to collect all the necessary signatures of the 20% of the votes which are compulsory to call for a referendum to remove president Hugo Chavez from power. Since the beginning, this campaign has been for the opposition an excellent staging, whose only purpose was to unrecognize president Hugo Chavez constitutionally before the international public opinion, and pave the way for a new attempt of a coup d’état in Venezuela.

The National Electoral Commission of Venezuela, which counts the signatures, shall announce the results of this consultation within a month. The opposition, which is aware that it could not win, did not waste time and accused him of setting up a trap and fraud in collecting the signatures and then declared that Chavez is a dictator. Actually, the opposition’s strategy is to maintain a fictitious conflict, while awaiting and endorsing the US interference.

In his New Year’s press conference, that was officially devoted to the Summit of the Americas, Condoleezza Rice launched virulent verbal attacks against the government of president Chavez: «I cannot understand, someone who believes in democracy or want the people to think that he believes in democracy, can do or keep on doing anything with Fidel Castro, because his regime is actually the only one that is not democratic in the region [2]».

Hugo Chavez answered two days later, during the radio program "Alo Presidente". With his popular characteristic of speaking in such a way that annoys the elite from Washington, Hugo Chavez underlined that the literacy and health care programs being carried out by his government are possible thanks to the support and technical assistance of the Cuban collaborators. Applauding the tremendous effort made in the literacy campaign under Robinson Mission (Instructional Program), Chavez stated that he would send a manual to Condoleezza Rice to learn how to read and write - US National Security Advisor - in order for her to learn and understand the recognition of the Venezuelans towards the Cubans, and pointed out that she was «illiterate» because she had failed to realize that. He also denounced the hoaxes of the White House "to prepare the grounds for a new attempt of coup d’état", which made the people to express their support for Chavez and cry out on the streets: «They Will Not Come Back!».

Upon arrival in Mexico to participate in the Summit of the Americas, George W. Bush gave a brief news conference together with his Mexican host Vicente Fox. They are working together to protect the integrity of the referendum process of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and at the same time playing the game of the Venezuela opposition.

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Thierry Meyssan and Sandro Cruz from Voltaire Network, participating in an informative Venezuelan TV show when the signatures began to be collected for the referendum. Caracas, November 25 - 27, 2003.

In the interim, the Argentina currently run by president Nestor Kichner from the Justicialista Party, started to recover slowly from the terrible economic bankruptcy that the country had experienced. Although he showed up with certain liberal style, the president Kichner is developing a recovery policy of the national economic resources. He did not miss the chance to invite Fidel Castro to Buenos Aires and show him that he enjoys great popularity in the Argentinian and Latin American streets, despite the years and bad thins that are told about him.

Argentina reopened its Embassy in Havana and declined to play the game and support the anti-Castro people paid by Washington. As a response on January 7 to the criticisms of Roger Noriega, the US Undersecretary of Sate, Nestor Kichner said: «We are no longer the fools of the movie. We can accept or arrange meetings, but no one can give us orders from now on, let along punish us because we are a country with dignity». When he recalled the Summit of the Americas, mentioned that he would knock out Bush.

In Brazil, Luis Ignacio da Silva, a simple worker, was elected president thanks to his anti-globalization program. Considered as the new left wing Latin American leader, Lula has eventually become a politician with a social-democratic profile. But still, he enjoys being a regional leader, and relies more on the economic power of its country than on a revolutionary policy. In spite of that, he has expressed his solidarity with Fidel Castro and urged for Latin American unity. On the other hand, he has supported the United States in its project to go ahead with the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Symbolically, before the commencement of the Summit of the Americas, he decided to enforce the visa formality on US tourists, with the same humiliating measures of fingerprints and photographs that were imposed on Brazilians entering the United States. To cool down the situation later, he declared that would favor a mutual suspension of such measures.

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George W. Bush and the Mexican president together. Mexico with «socialist» Chile, are the only ones and rare support of the US in the continent.

When president George W. Bush gave his speech at the opening session of the Summit of the Americas, he called the Cuban "dictatorship" a devil and urged participants to work for a «quick and peaceful transition in Cuba». It is not about a simple rhetoric but concrete and precise threats: on October 10, 2003, George W. Bush announced from the roses garden of the White House the creation of a Commission to overthrow Fidel Castro. The event was co-presided by the Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Secretary of the Housing Department, Mel Martinez. The mercenary Dyncorp Company, which was hired to work in Colombia, has started to recruit Spanish-speaking soldiers, in order to play an intermediary and promotional role in the military operations to support the "dissidents". The Republican representative of the State of Florida, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, has made some consultations to establish a puppet transitional government, which could be presided over by him.

Answering without being asked, Hugo Chavez paid tribute to his friend Fidel Castro and his people. He further pointed out that thanks to the technical support and assistance of the Cuban collaborators in Venezuela, a million people have been taught how to read and write in six months and provided medications and health care services to other 10 million people who lacked minimum health resources, out of a total of 23 million people.

These statements to the public and diplomats who participated in the Summit received a strong ovation and were applauded before an indifferent George W. Bush.

That was but the first day of the Summit.

[1] Rafael Ramirez, Minister of Energy of Venezuela, has imposed necessary order in oil investments, thus eliminating the outrageous financial operations of the former PDVSA leaders. Prior to the Summit of the Americas, president Chavez warned the General Management of the seven governors of the Central Bank of Venezuela, that they would be removed constitutionally by the National Assembly if they continue blocking the necessary credits to fund the program to assist the small agricultural companies

[2] «Dr. Rice Previews President’s trip to Mexico», Press Briefing, White House, January 9, 2004

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