Skip to comments.Venezuela's Chavez Tells World to Back Off
Posted on 02/24/2003 1:49:12 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned the world to stop meddling in the affairs of his troubled South American nation on Sunday, as police locked up a prominent strike leader on "civil rebellion" charges.
The populist president accused the United States and Spain of siding with his enemies, warned Colombia he might break off diplomatic relations, and reprimanded the chief mediator in tortuous peace talks for stepping "out of line."
"I ask all of the countries of this continent and of the world ... are you going (to) stop this meddling?" Chavez asked angrily, during his state-sponsored television show 'Alo Presidente.' "This is a sovereign nation."
The tongue-lashing followed a recent flurry of diplomatic communiques expressing concern over Carlos Fernandez, a strike leader and prominent businessman who was yanked out of a Caracas steakhouse on Thursday at gunpoint by police.
A judge placed the silver-haired executive under house arrest on Sunday to await trial for charges of civil rebellion and criminal instigation, which could land him up to 26 years in prison. He spearheaded a two-month nationwide shutdown by oil workers and industry in a failed bid to force elections.
"I've committed no crime, of any kind," Fernandez said defiantly from his country home just outside Caracas.
Chavez carped that the same international worry by diplomats over Fernandez wasn't shown when he was briefly ousted in a 48-hour coup last year. He said some countries, including Spain and the United States, applauded the putsch.
"It's worth remembering that the Spanish ambassador was here, in this room, applauding the coup. So the Spanish government is going (to) keep commenting?" Chavez asked.
"We say the same thing to the government in Washington. Stop making mistakes ... A spokesman comes out there saying he's worried. No! This is a Venezuelan matter."
PEACE HOPES WANE
Venezuela's crisis has drawn the international spotlight with leaders afraid the world's No. 5 supplier of oil could slide into civil war as Chavez allies and enemies face off.
Hailed by supporters as a champion of the poor, the paratrooper-turned-president has pledged to crack down on enemies of his self-styled "revolution." Foes call him an ignorant dictator looking to impose Cuban-style communism.
Chavez crushed an oil walkout by firing 13,000 dissident workers, and laughed off the two-month-old strike which hurt the private sector and was meekly abandoned in early February.
He won an arrest warrant for another strike leader, union boss Carlos Ortega, and threatens to lock up a group of media moguls he dubs the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."
The United States, Spain and four other countries have dispatched diplomats to the negotiating table in a bid to defuse tensions fueling the crisis. But the talks have so far proven fruitless, and Chavez on Sunday seemed to push away members of the six-nation group.
Chavez reserved his most severe criticism for Cesar Gaviria, who is the chief mediator in talks to end the political deadlock. Gaviria, a former Colombian president, is the head of the Organization of American States.
"Mr. Gaviria, this is a sovereign nation, sir. You were president of a country. Don't step out of line," Chavez said.
Venezuela's s President Hugo Chavez gestures during his weekly Broadcast 'Alo Presidente' in Caracas, February 23, 2003. Chavez on Sunday lambasted the chief mediator Cesar Gaviria in tortured peace talks for voicing his concern as police locked up a prominent strike leader to await trial for 'civil rebellion'. REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout NO ARCHIVE
The maverick leader, whose fiery rhetoric inflames adversaries, also took time on Sunday to include Colombia in his tirade. The neighboring nation's foreign minister accused Chavez last week of meeting frequently with rebel leaders.
Chavez has always denied those allegations, and on Sunday criticized the country for providing asylum for Venezuela's brief president during the April coup -- Pedro Carmona.
"What do they want? For us to break off (diplomatic) relations? That we break off ties?" Chavez exclaimed.
"Over there in Colombia they had a party on the day of the coup ... They applauded Carmona and they have Carmona over there in Bogota. He lives over there, that fugitive."
Venezuela's internal standoff has left at least seven dead and scores injured in street violence since December. Police are also investigating last week's killings of three dissident soldiers and an anti-Chavez protester, which relatives of the victims blame on political persecution.
Having fired over 700 of PDVSA's top executives and most of its middle managers, PDVSA is a company without a brain. With the upper level management removed, PDVSA headquarters in Caracas, in La Campina, has been taken over by the Minister of Energy and Mines, now in place to execute government orders. The new Petroleos de Chavez will try to raise production using foreign companies, whose workers do not strike!
Which foreign companies are willing to come into Venezuela, under the new currency and price controls, unattractive royalties and tax regime, and a country full of potholes and beggars? Will these companies be from the United States, Europe, China, Nigeria or Russia?
The Chavez government is rumored to be preparing an attractive offer to present to foreign companies to come in and restart Venezuela's oil and gas production - using foreign companies' financial strength and technology.
Gustavo Coronel, former PDVSA Board member, wrote the following in a January 28, 2003 article: "With the collapse of PDVSA, we are witnessing the collapse of the country . . . when the time comes, if I am still around, I hope to be a witness for the prosecution. Why? Because when I was building pipelines for a better PDVSA, Ali Rodriguez, the current President of the "revolutionary" PDVSA, was blowing them up, as the main dynamite expert of the Cuban-supported guerrillas which failed in Venezuela during the 1960s." (VHeadline.com)
It is Ali Rodriguez who now has complete control of PDVSA: financially and contractually. Ali Rodriguez Araque not only fires and hires, moves PDVSA funds around, but also can sign contracts like the one with Pepex.com (Herb Goodman, CEO) to take over PDVSA's oil trading. There is no longer any transparency. Those who work for PDVSA now work for Petroleos de Chavez, the fully credentialed People of Petroleum having been replaced by the mediocre, and now led by an "Oil Commander-in-Chief" (Chavez), with no auditing, or transparency.
Venezuelans are living in a war economy - in an internal war - a civil war, which could last a long time. Over 12,000 commercial establishments have closed, and 5,000 businesses are bankrupted. The Chavez government is now using currency controls and price controls to attack the only remaining productive sector remaining.
The Opposition, led by Carlos Ortega, the brave President of the CTV (Confederation of Venezuelan Workers), is going to continue to march, by the hundreds of thousands of families, demanding that Chavez resign. But he will not resign. These millions of brave Venezuelans refuse to live under a corrupt, Cuban dictatorship, and refuse to give up their country to a man who intentionally is destroying Venezuela.***
Military seizes heavy arms from Caracas police-Officers left with pistols as Chávez tightens control ***The intense rivalry between Chávez and the Metropolitan Police began shortly after the president's 1998 election, when he began making changes to consolidate his power. Through a constituent assembly's new constitution, Chávez abolished Congress, creating a single-chamber legislature that he controlled. But before that new assembly got to work, an interim Congress appointed a new public prosecutor, comptroller, Supreme Court, and elections council, which until then had functioned as independent powers. ''When all you want is one political party, one newspaper, one radio station, and control over police and banks,'' Peña said, ``you are instituting a totalitarian regime.''***
Soldiers and woman who opposed Chavez found bound and shot in Venezuela town*** CARACAS, Venezuela -- The bodies of three soldiers who had called for "civic disobedience" against President Hugo Chavez's government have been found with their hands tied and faces wrapped with tape, forensic police said Tuesday No arrests had been made, and authorities were trying to determine a motive behind the killings of the three soldiers: Erwin Arguello, Angel Salas and Felix Pinto. The bodies were found in Guarenas, 18 miles from Caracas, said Cesar Hernandez, chief of the forensic police's homicide division. Two of the bodies were found with multiple bullet wounds, Hernandez said, refusing to explain further. He said autopsies on the three bodies were pending.***
A Terrorist Regime Waits in the Wings***During the 1990s, the Clinton administration looked the other way as the FARC grew stronger. In 1995, according to a recent Rand study for the Pentagon, it had 7,000 fighters on 60 fronts; five years later, there were 15,000 to 20,000 FARC combatants on more than 70 fronts. The huge increase was financed with money from American cocaine and heroin users, but the Clinton administration reversed long-standing bipartisan policy and drew a distinction between drug traffickers and guerrillas. On condition of anonymity, a senior State Department official assured Insight with a straight face in 1999 that "there is no such thing as narcoterrorists." ***
Colombian rebels say they hold Americans*** BOGOTA - For the first time, Colombian guerrillas Saturday acknowledged seizing three U.S. government contractors after their plane went down in the southern mountains on Feb. 13. In response to the kidnapping, scores of U.S. troops have poured into the South American nation, bringing the number to record levels and drawing the United States further into Colombia's prolonged civil conflict.
n a communiqué, leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said they could guarantee the safety of the three men only if the Colombian military stopped running patrols in a southern region considered rebel territory. Complying, however, would mean calling off the massive search for the men whose small Cessna plunged into a mountainous jungle nearly two weeks ago. President Alvaro Uribe rejected the deal Saturday, and the notion that the government would bow to rebel demands. ''Operations are managed by the [Colombian army] . . . not the FARC,'' Uribe said.
Some U.S. sources familiar with U.S. operations in Colombia privately expressed fears that the men might have been killed already by an elite rebel unit called the Teofilo Forero Brigade, which apparently seized the hostages. One defense industry source said the fears were based on communications overheard by U.S. intelligence indicating that the Forero unit had received permission to carry out ``executions.'' The information, however, could not be confirmed.
Bob Barr, a four-term conservative congressman from Georgia who is now a lobbyist, visited Colombia last fall and issued a scathing report on operations under the $2 billion aid package known as Plan Colombia. The aid package provides money to fight Colombia's drug industry, which supplies 90 percent of the United States' cocaine. The FARC earns money off taxes from coca growers. In the past five years, 12 Americans -- including six government contractors -- have died in Colombia because of lax safety measures, Barr said in his report. A ''little shot of reality here: Today in Colombia, the FARC has a bounty on the heads of Americans working with the Colombian National Police and military,'' he said. `They are all targets.''***
What's the matter Chavez? Worried your "new nieghbors" may stop by for a visit?
It's about to get ugly in a LOT of places all at once, I can only guess where Benito musoChavez comes in the pecking order.
but telling the OAS off... smart idea?
If the USA were looking for invitations to "visit" ole benito musoChavez, this would be one way to get it.
God save South America... and while your at it... SAVE us too.
Being a dictator means you never have to say you're sorry.
Notice the benign description of this communist demagogue given by Reuters.
Exactly! Chavez doesn't like U.S. special forces setting up in Colombia. Tough.
Yes, he's a "firebrand" in many reports.
He's a dictator, just like Castro, who the media like to refer to as president - (they just forget the FOR LIFE part).
You read my mind.
Good, general advice. Unfortunately it seems to be impossible: as we mature we cease making infantile mistakes and instead make mistakes of a higher order.
The money transfers never were recorded by Venezuela's national banking superintendent, a Chavez appointee. U.S. diplomatic sources in Caracas confirm that official inquiries through Venezuela's banking authorities have failed to reveal evidence on terrorist money laundering. "We've only consulted officials of the government," admits a U.S. economic officer.
Intelligence sources familiar with the cover-up say Chavez is withholding information on the Arabs, some of whom were important financial contributors to his presidential campaign. The report, withheld from the United States, also mentions Nasser Mohammed al-Din, described as a powerful entrepreneur and a close personal friend of Chavez, at whose home in Margarita the Venezuelan president stays on his frequent visits to the resort island, which is a favored venue for his private meetings with Castro. According to presidential pilot Maj. Juan Diaz Castillo, Chavez and Castro get together two or three times a week.
Margarita Island appears to be the center of an extensive terrorist financial network stretching throughout the Caribbean to Panama and the Cayman Islands, where three Afghanis traveling on false Pakistani passports were caught entering from Cuba with $200,000 in cash in August 2001. According to British colonial authorities, efforts to launder the money through Cayman banks also involved a group of Arab businessmen.
Chavez's ties to international terrorism date back to the days of his bloody 1992 military rebellion against the government of Carlos Andres Perez in which nearly 100 people were killed. After being received with honors by Castro in Havana, Chavez proceeded to Tripoli and Baghdad. "He came back with a lot of money to form his Movimiento Revolucionario Venezolano [MRV] and run for president," says Col. Pedro Soto, a Chavez supporter at the time.
Chavez paid presidential state visits to Libya, Iraq and Iran in February 2001, signing cooperation agreements with Muammar Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Tehran's ruling mullahs. Castro visited Libya, Iran and Syria some months later. An MRV politician and close Chavez aide closely tied to the Circulos Bolivarianos, Freddy Bernal, was in Iraq last March. He got caught trying to move arms into Saudi Arabia by U.N. peacekeeping forces policing the border.
Back in the days when he was a frustrated coup leader, Chavez also received help from Colombian narcoguerrilla organizations. He now is repaying them by closing Venezuelan airspace to U.S. antidrug flights. A military-intelligence report shown to Insight by the former commander of the 2nd army theater of operations on the Colombian border, Gen. Nestor Gonzales, shows that the Colombian drug forces are being protected by Chavez in camps inside Venezuelan territory. The sick leader of Colombia's National Liberation Army (ELN), Comandante Pablo, rests under DISIP protection at a villa in the upmarket Caracas neighborhood of El Marques.***