JPEG - 7.2 kb

Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel, released a statement yesterday, responding to comments made by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about Venezuela, during his recent visit to Brazil.

“The Lord of War, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense of the United States made statements following the same line of repeating the usual impertinences about Venezuela,” said Rangel who also denounced the existance of a campaign seeking "to create enemies for Venezuela, among our friends."

On Wednesday, Rumsfeld expressed preoccupation about Venezuela’s announced purchase of 100,000 Russian rifles, saying that it could contribute to further destabilize Latin America.

"I can’t imagine why Venezuela needs 100,000 AK-47’s.," Rumsfeld said during a news conference in Brasília. "I just hope that, personally hope, that it doesn’t happen... I can’t imagine that if it did happen, that it would be good for the hemisphere," he added.

Venezuela has announced the purchase of AK-47 rifles and 10 military helicopters from Russia, as well as Super Tucano light-attack propeller planes from Brazil, allegedly to improve patrol efforts along the porous and extensive border with Colombia.

Rangel said that the military equipment that Venezuela is currently acquiring is of a defensive nature, and criticized the U.S. high military budget. “In Venezuela we are worried about the elevated military spending by the United States, which stands around 450 billion dollars ... what are they fearing in order to justify such high military spending?,” he asked.

The Vice President said that the preemptive war doctrine currently being implemented by the U.S. government, and its alleged desire to control the world’s resources, are behind the U.S. high military budget. “The whole world is worried,” he added.

Rangel characterized the increasingly frequent negative statements about Venezuela by U.S. officials as a campaign aimed at destabilizing the South American country. “The escalation of these attacks confirms the existence of a plan by the U.S. government against Venezuela,” he said. Efforts to Improve Relations.

The most recent impasse in the war of words between the two countries comes after Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez took a first step towards thawing tensions between the countries by announcing that Venezuela wants to improve with the U.S. "We want to continue to send 1.5 million barrels of oil to the United States on a daily basis and to continue doing business... and together contribute to development and peace in the entire world," Chavez said last Thursday.

Last week, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Ali Rodriguez, met with the US Ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, to discuss the situation between the two countries. According to a Foreign Ministry press release, Rodriguez emphasized that the meeting served to establish "communication and consulting mechanisms aimed at reaching the best possible relations between the two countries."

"We had a cordial exchange about affairs of mutual interest," Rodriguez said.

A non-official translation of the statement by Vice-President Rangel follows:

The Lord of War, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense of the United States made some statements following the same line of repeating the usual impertinences about Venezuela. These impertinences inspired by the goal of getting involved in the internal politics of other nations and violate our sovereignty, continue being utilized systematically by U.S. officials.

In Venezuela we are worried about the elevated military spending by the United States, which stands around 450 billion dollars, representing a spending that surpasses that of the 18 other military powers that follow them. The U.S. alone absorbs 36% of the world’s military spending. This has generated great preoccupation in the majority of the countries around the world, since there is no justification for the building of so many devices for war.

As the government of that country has said in repeated opportunities, they are the greatest military power in history, and its objectives are to control and assure its hegemony over the rest of the world. What are they fearing in order to justify such increase in military spending? Can anybody believe such country could be invaded by a foreign power? What is really happening is that the U.S. has developed a very new doctrine through which justify their arms buildups. This is the frequently mentioned preventive war. For them it is not about peace, but about preventive war. This is the doctrine that has the whole world worried because, as we all know, it has already been put into practice.

That is the big difference with the arms purchase which we are doing in an act of political sovereignty, with the only goal of defending our independence and guaranteeing the self-determination of our people. These weapons, as everybody knows, don’t have the potential for the aggression of anybody. They are exclusively for defense, to which we have a right as all nations of the world do. We have to say even more: in this moment the U.S. has started a new phase in its imperialist aggression against our homeland. They started with a propaganda war, and now the increase their attack, using one of the promoters of the so called Star Wars, who seeks to create enemies for Venezuela, among our friends. The North American strategy is aimed at destroying Latin American unity, and take possession of our energy resources. Venezuela is just one step in their global ambitions.

The escalation of these attacks confirms the existence of a plan by the U.S. government against Venezuela. This plan was tested on April 11 of 2002, with the coup d’etat against President Hugo Chavez, and continued developing with the strike and oil sabotage starting December 2, 2002, with systematic statements by spokespersons of the Bush administration, with a media campaign such as those that the empire has unleashed through history whenever they want to consummate an aggression, or through the assassination attempts of that have been detected, and other series of efforts to destabilize.

Definitely, the U.S. is worried because Latin America is liberating itself. This preoccupation is that of the slave owner who does not accept the liberating struggles of the oppressed peoples. The U.S. preoccupation with Venezuela is because our country is building a true democracy of equals, something that the U.S. does not carry through neither with their own people, nor with the international scene. The U.S. preoccupation arises because we are building another world, a world in which other worlds can fit. They are worried that the South also exists.

From the south we respond, with dignity as our flag, and understanding the big responsibility we have as the descendants of San Martin, Artigas, O’Higgins, Abreu e Lima, and Bolivar.