Skip to comments.Distracted by Haiti, U.S. ignores Venezuela - People preparing for civil war
Posted on 03/01/2004 11:14:50 PM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
Jean-Bertrand Aristide has fled, Haiti is on the verge of total anarchy, and the United States has taken its eye off a larger and much more dangerous problem. The very day that Aristide fled, fires burned throughout Caracas, Venezuela, explosions and gunfire could be heard across the city, citizens battled and died at the hands of the National Guard, and the country pushed closer to all out civil war.
Civil war in Venezuela will make the anarchy in Haiti look pale and meaningless by comparison. The American media are filling the airwaves with images of violence from Port-Au-Prince, while "burying the lead" as they say in the news business. That "lead" being the exponentially larger story in Venezuela our press is ignoring.
While Haiti is indeed a headache for our nation, the coming civil war in Venezuela will have a disastrous impact on our national security and way of life. On any given day, this South American nation is the No. 1 to No. 3 exporter of oil and gasoline to the United States.
With regard to this oil, a little-known fact is that the largest franchise in the United States is Citgo. This franchise is owned by PDVSA, the national oil company of Venezuela, and as of today, controlled by the madman who runs the nation.
Sadly for the United States, President Hugo Chavez is much more than a madman who has his hand on the spigot of much needed oil. Many think him to be a terrorist who is actively trying to destabilize his neighbor Colombia, the region and much of South America. Worse, while he exports oil and gas to prop up his all-but-in-name dictatorial regime, he is actively importing terrorism, terrorists and even members of al-Qaida.
Winning the peace in Iraq is important, but at what point do we turn our eyes to the south? Toward our own hemisphere and toward an evil just as unpalatable, just as real and potentially just as lethal as Osama bin Laden? Four hours south of the White House by jet sits a tyrant who openly taunts President Bush, our nation and our way of life. Again, the day that Aristide fled Haiti, Chavez was organizing yet another "hate" march against Bush and the United States, and inciting violence against the majority of his people.
Aside from protecting our national security, my interest in this is personal. My wife is from Caracas, as are my in-laws and many friends. To a person, they strongly support the United States and believe we represent the hope of the world. Sadly, they, like many of our friends in Latin America, also believe that the United States has all but abandoned them to focus on Iraq. A belief Chavez tries to reinforce every day with his Hitler-like rhetoric.
April 11, 2002, saw the "accidental" coup in Venezuela that forced Chavez out of power for two days. Tragically for those in Venezuela who believe in our nation and in democracy, that accidental coup is the main reason we have been publicly reluctant to take on Chavez and save their nation.
When the coup first took place almost two years ago, it seemed like Bush's press secretary and many in our government were "cheerleading" the act. This cheerleading upset many heads of state in South America and around the world who felt we were stamping our seal of approval on the overthrow of a democratically elected president. Because of that diplomatic misstep, we have given Chavez and his thugs almost carte blanche to oppress his own people while exporting terrorism.
Well, the vast majority of "his" people have had enough. With their hopes for a national referendum to recall Chavez once again crushed by Chavez, they have decided to take to the streets to try to save their nation and restore democracy.
Haiti is a firecracker that has just gone off in our neighborhood. With Venezuela, the fuse is lit and burning fast on a massive bomb that will be heard and felt throughout our hemisphere.
Prepare for the coming civil war that will adversely impact all of our lives.
MacKinnon was press secretary to former Sen. Bob Dole. He is also a former White House and Pentagon official, and an author. Readers may e-mail him at email@example.com.
Anti-President Hugo Chavez protesters hold a sign reading 'Bye bye Aristide, Chavez you are next' as they clash with National Guard soldiers, foreground, in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, March 1, 2004. For the fourth day in a row, government foes demanding a recall referendum for President Hugo Chavez clashed with National Guard troops firing tear gas and rubber bullets. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
When the LIBERAL media makes the point of calling him President Chavez, I know his poll numbers are in the tank - [Anti-President Hugo Chavez protesters hold a sign reading 'Bye bye Aristide,...] as well as calling the opposition anti-Chavez, instead of pro-democracy (so similar to anti-Castro vs anti-communism).
An opponent of President Hugo Chavez's government fires stones with a slingshot during a demostration in Caracas. Venezuela's election commission has postponed until Tuesday announcing whether a recall referendum against Chavez will be held(AFP/Rodrigo Arangua)
"These people want to spark violence again. If you take that path, conspirators, coup plotters and terrorists, then there is a bigger surprise waiting for you," he said. "We are obliged to neutralize those who want to take power by force."*** Source
***Chavez appoints radicals to head Venezuelan passport agency - reports of Arabs otaining ID documents*** CARACAS -- Already facing allegations that Muslim extremists have obtained Venezuelan identity documents, President Hugo Chávez has put the country's passport agency in the hands of two radicals -- one a supporter of Saddam Hussein.***Source
But it might bring the military to their senses.
I nice domino effect.
June 02 Chavez Says Venezuela Wants Peace, Not Civil War - "Hand over your weapons"***The president noted that some inhabitants of wealthy areas of Caracas, alarmed by fears of fresh violence, were rushing to buy weapons and organizing self-defense groups. "Don't let yourselves be exploited by the gun sellers and the dogs of war," Chavez said.
July 02 Venezuelans Circle Wagons Amid Coup Jitters *** CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Carlos, a Venezuelan computer engineer, beefed up his home security with razor wire and a steel door after April's coup against President Hugo Chavez unleashed a frenzy of looting and sent pro-government gangs roaming through Caracas. But the father of two, sporting glasses and a Windows 2000 shirt, has a few extra surprises planned for the armed thugs he fears might breach the apartment's new security gate bent on robbery and political revenge. "I've thought about preparing flammable alcohol and acid to throw down the stairs," said Carlos, who would only give his first name. "I'd have to come out and defend my building."
Fears of more political violence have middle-class and wealthy Venezuelans scurrying to buy weapons, stock up on supplies and fortify their homes as they fret over another military rebellion and attacks by the president's supporters. Security hysteria has seized parts of the capital. In plush apartment complexes, lawyers and executives form committees to repel marauding gangs and housewives bombard police officials with queries about tear gas and Molotov cocktails. "In my office, in the last four weeks, people have bought about 10 shotguns and enough ammunition to keep fighting for months. I'm talking about a type of collective panic," said Jose, a Caracas financial advisor. ***
Jan 03 - Venezuelans savor solace in Miami - Others go home prepared *** Fearing the worst, Venezuelans in South Florida who plan to return home to join antigovernment street protests are stocking up on protective material at security stores. On the streets of Caracas, opposition demonstrators clash almost daily with riot troops equipped with tear gas. Several people have died in shootings. "People are afraid," said Josephina Capriles, the Venezuelan-born owner of Spytrix, a North Miami security store where sales of bullet-proof jackets and gas masks are booming. "I used to sell two bulletproof jackets a month but now I sell three a day," she said, adding that the extra sales were to Venezuelans.
Capriles offers discounts to Venezuelan clients. An Italian-made jacket costs $375, reduced from $498. Gas masks go for around $140. Other popular items include Mace, stun guns and more powerful electromuscular disruption devices, which can put down a human target at 20 feet. "We are going back, but we have to be prepared," said Leopoldo Baptista, the 60-year-old owner of a major Venezuelan construction company. Baptista spent several thousand dollars at Spytrix on protective gear for his wife and children.***
Nov 02 Chavez said to arm Venezuela vigilantes***CARACAS, Venezuela - Bolivarian Circles, the Cuban-inspired neighborhood vigilante groups charged with protecting the populist revolution of President Hugo Chavez, are being armed with weapons diverted from the military, according to army officers. The increased firepower raises the risk of violence between them and anti-Chavez groups who have marched almost daily to protest the president's order last week to fire the chief of the Caracas city police and place his forces under the control of the national guard.
Members of the Bolivarian Circles say they exist to perform community social services and support the president. But others see a more sinister purpose to the circles, comparing them to Cuban groups that keep watch on their neighbors and report any counterrevolutionary activity. "The Bolivarian Circles are a sort of militia," said Gen. Nestor Gonzalez, who charged that weapons belonging to the armed forces have been diverted to the groups. "They are progressively replacing [the army]."***
March 03 Chávez's Bolivarian Circles in South Florida - 17 around U.S. - Spreading around world****** Circle leaders draw strength from what they say is a growing Bolivarian international network. The U.S. circle members will hold their first national assembly in New York in March, and Chávez representatives from Venezuela plan to attend.
The Venezuelan government also will host an international Bolivarian Circle meeting in April in Caracas. ''There are circles in Bilbao, Madrid, Denmark -- all over the place. It's really neat,'' said Guillermo García Ponce, Chávez advisory committee coordinator, in an interview with The Herald in Caracas. He acknowledged that South Florida has become an anti-Chávez stronghold. ''I suppose [the Miami circle] will have to keep a low profile,'' García said.
Anti-Chávez activists say they do not oppose the presence of a Bolivarian Circle in Miami as long as it doesn't instigate the violence they allege the circles have caused in Venezuela -- a claim Soto and others deny. ''The government has allowed the Bolivarian Circles to attack the newspapers, attack the reporters,'' said Raúl Leoni, a Venezuelan opposition leader who lives in Weston. ``The fact that you win an election doesn't make you eternal if you're not doing your job correctly.''
..The Bolivarian Circles -- along with Chávez's controversial 1999 ''Bolivarian constitution'' -- are part of his overarching ``Bolivarian Revolution.'' Some 70,000 circles exist in Venezuela, made up largely of the working class. Typically, they meet weekly and engage in humanitarian projects such as providing food for the poor -- with military financing -- and building schools. Critics compare the circles to Fidel Castro's Committees for the Defense of the Revolution.***
I believe the new ones will send a .30 steel ball about 300 ft/sec.
Sound like the good 'ole USA will continue to be the "One-Stop-Shop" for a free ride for many long years to come.
Excellent point, marron. I also liked your ideas for the future Odd Couple.
Viva la Revolucion!
Since Feb. 27, throughout four days and part of the nights, the barricades and the clashes have shaken up the routines of a dozen middle-class districts in Caracas, and also in parts of the western cities of Maracaibo, Barquisimeto, Valencia and San Cristbal.
The opposition is protesting because the National Electoral Council (CNE, an independent government body), voted by a 3-2 majority to place in question hundreds of thousands of signatures gathered in December to petition for a referendum on whether Chvez should remain in office.
If the questionable signatures are discarded, the opposition would not have enough for the CNE to convene a referendum, under the requirements laid out in the constitution.
The CNE doubts that those signatures are legitimate, and the ones already deemed valid are less than the 2.4 million (20 percent of the electorate) required for convening a referendum.
The Council said it will give voters the opportunity this month to confirm whether or not they signed the original petition.
But the opposition coalition known as the Democratic Coordinator says the move is a scam that violates the good faith of the signatories.
A march in defence of the signatures drew thousands of anti-Chvez protesters Friday, Feb. 27, in Caracas, and the front lines of the demonstration crossed the security perimeter that had been erected to protect the heads of state and officials gathered for the summit of the Group of 15 (G15) developing countries.
The National Guard pushed back those groups with tear gas and plastic bullets, and confrontations spread to several streets throughout the city, and adjacent residential areas--home to many participants in the opposition marches--turning them into centres of chaos.
Two people died from gunshot wounds, one a Chvez supporter and the other a member of the opposition, and dozens of people were injured, several of them by bullets.
The government and the opposition blame each other for fomenting violence and for the deaths and injuries.
According to the opposition, the culprits are members of the National Guard and the governmental police force, while the government says the ones to blame are the police who are under the command of the anti-Chvez municipal governments in various parts of the Caracas metropolitan area.
Two international journalists were shot. Cameraman Felipe Izquierdo, of the U.S.-based Spanish language TV network Univisin, received a bullet in the foot, and Juan Barreto, photographer for the French news agency AFP, was shot in the hand and in the abdomen.
A young man who was in the opposition group shot me in the chest with a 9mm pistol. Fortunately, my bullet-proof vest saved me, Barreto told IPS.
Gen. Julio Quintero, chief of the Venezuelan Armed Forces Unified Command, said Monday: We will maintain our presence until the municipal leaders, the mayors, take control of the situation. We will impose order and we will uphold the constitution and the law.
On Sunday, Chvez convened some 150,000 followers, coming from different parts of the country, along the main highway through Caracas. He announced to the crowd that he would maintain a firm hand.
I am not going to tolerate disorder or anarchy, said the president.
Chvez accused the metropolitan police of Caracas, under the authority of opposition mayor Alfredo Pea, and other municipal forces of providing protection for the violent protesters.
If it is necessary to intervene (in those police forces) with armored tanks, I will do so. I have already given the orders, he said. ***
Good. This is the proper policy.
A year ago, we were watching the action in Iraq, but with one eye on Venezuela and anticipating this very action.
What is going on at at the State Department?
As the article states, Chavez has the potential to do just as much damage to the US as any of the Middle Eastern despots.
As the FR threads from a year ago detailed, Chavez was buddying up with Saddam, and making nookie with Islamicist imports. providing them with Venezuelan passports.
He is a first class threat.
20 posted on 03/02/2004 3:57:32 AM EST by The Duke
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To: The Duke
They could probably use her. Chavez needs to be cut off at the knees.
21 posted on 03/02/2004 4:00:17 AM EST by Cincinatus' Wife
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You two are much funnier than Billy Crystal.
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