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African Venezuelans fear new U.S. coup against President Chavez

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  • Djehuti Sundaka
    San Francisco BayView September 25, 2002 African Venezuelans fear new U.S. coup against President Chavez By Professor Alejandro Correa and Professor Emeritus
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2002
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      San Francisco BayView

      September 25, 2002

      African Venezuelans fear new U.S. coup against President Chavez

      By Professor Alejandro Correa and Professor Emeritus Willie Thompson

      This month, for the first time in history, Venezuelan people of African
      descent have total control of their historic Black university, the
      Universitario Barlovento. They are already planning a university
      hotel and a restaurant for students, faculty and the community. This is
      achievement of a lifetime, and the people of Barlovento gather around
      their seat of higher learning to reflect on their success.

      Another topic on their minds and hearts is the fate of President Hugo
      He is Venezuela's first multiracial president and is called Negro"
      by his detractors because of his African-Indigenous features. Behind the

      enemies of Venezuela and Hugo Chavez are very large sums of money being
      to destroy the dreams of the people who historically have been
      against because of race, economic ideas, etc.

      These dreams of the African Venezuelan people may be deferred if the
      States replaces Chavez with a rightwing businessman as president.
      three Blacks are state governors elected by the people; the secretary of

      education is black; two Indigenous Venezuelans are congresspersons
      directly by the people; Indigenous Venezuelans have the complete right
      to claim their historic lands; land is protected and available to Black
      Indigenous Venezuelan farmers so that they can now engage in farming for
      first time in generations; and Venezuelans of African descent are
      participating in conferences against racism around the world and
      strategic relationships with international organizations. They have
      Congressional Black Caucus conferences in 2000, 2001 and 2002; the
      pre-conference against racism in Chile in 2000; and the United Nations
      Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. The African
      Venezuelan community in Barlovento also hosted the Second International
      Reunion of the African Latin Family in 1999.

      Sixty percent of the population of Venezuela are people of African
      The others are Mestizos of Indigenous and European descent and
      The support of the people of African descent in the United States is one
      the most strategic factors in helping the people of African descent
      and prosper in Venezuela.

      President Hugo Chavez was elected in a democratic election with more
      than 70
      percent of the 11 million votes cast. One of his first actions was to
      for an election of a National Constituency Assembly whose mission was to

      reform the 1969 national Constitution. During 40 years of democracy this

      Constitution was used to avoid empowering the people. The election of
      National Constituency Assembly allowed the participation of students,
      business related organizations, community representatives and parties
      to the president in the Assembly.

      The entire society had its opportunity in the Assembly.

      The National Constituency Assembly designed a new national constitution,

      which was widely discussed all around the country. Then a national
      was called to consider the acceptance of the new constitution. The
      people, in direct election, said, We do accept the new constitution" in
      New national elections were called at all levels of government to test
      acceptance of the new constitution and renegotiate the public powers.

      President Hugo Chavez, again, won the election with over one million
      more than his closest opponent. The party supporting Chavez also won, as
      several state governors who belonged to the party.

      During his three years in place - the complete term is six years -
      Chavez has been an advocate for the education of the poor. After 50
      years of
      being eliminated, schools were created with full schedules from 8 a.m.
      to 4
      p.m., allowing children to stay longer in recreational programs and

      Never before have small businesses flourished with the full support of
      government at the local and national levels. Chavez has opened the doors
      the participation of those who have long been excluded.

      When President Chavez came to power, 80 percent of the population lived
      poverty. Overcoming this difficult obstacle requires a joint effort at
      levels of society. Unfortunately, the support has not echoed in the
      economic brackets of Venezuelan society.

      What have they done? Organizing a coup is not the way to support the

      Venezuela is the fourth largest oil producer in the world and the second

      largest oil exporter to the United States. President Chavez has never
      threatened the export of oil to the U.S. He has visited the U.S. about
      times, holding meetings with businesspersons, seeking to stimulate
      investment in Venezuela in order to raise the level of employment and
      mitigate the conditions of the poor.

      Unfortunately, the sectors of society wanting to reverse these important

      advances decided to violate Venezuelan democracy. A group of renegade
      military generals formed a coalition with businessmen" - land owners
      ancestors stole it from Indigenous Venezuelans and used enslaved African

      labor to build the Venezuelan economy and society.

      Some members of the press also belong to the business establishment.
      main private TV stations led a campaign against the evolution of
      change in the same style Hitler used against the Jews: Say a lie a
      times and everybody will believe it as a truth."

      These forces formed a coup to destroy freedom in Venezuela. For three
      they controlled the government and instituted practices not seen in
      since the '50s, during the days of the military rulers. Venezuelans in
      60s were astonished to see such violations of civil rights.

      Leaders of the coup imprisoned President Chavez, isolating him from any
      public contact, lying about a presidential resignation, dissolving all
      legitimate national powers at all levels. Then they started hunting down
      legitimate member of Congress and of the president's cabinet.

      Even the Supreme Court was forced to resign. They did all that in a
      period of
      three days. Further, they derogated the 1999 constitution.

      In response, however, people of all races and backgrounds took to the
      streets, the military bases and public buildings to liberate President
      Chavez. He is in control again.

      Venezuelans watched with deep concern how Ari Fleisher, Bush's press
      secretary, and Condoleezza Rice, Bush's defense advisor - a black woman
      avoided calling the coup against President Chavez what it really was: a
      vulgar, right wing coup against a democratic government. Both have used
      rhetoric to criticize Chavez's administration rather than condemn the
      The Bush administration in general looked with sympathy at the coup and
      issued no
      declaration condemning it.

      The New York Times also has presented the facts in a less than objective
      Rather than going into the countryside to talk with the people, Times
      reporters appear to have visited only the Caracas suburbs to assess
      opinion. Furthermore, the local media consider only the opinions of
      people. All other opinions are considered unworthy. So, if you are poor
      or if
      you are not in agreement with the media, then you are not considered a
      of the public opinion.

      U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd has expressed dismay over the Bush
      administration's behavior regarding the situation in Venezuela. His
      is an example of goodwill and is appreciated by Venezuelans.

      There's an international effort to destroy the public image of President

      Chavez. Let us briefly analyze it.

      1) Hugo Chavez has visited Iraq, Iran and Libya. Because he is a friend
      those nations, he is branded an enemy of the United States. Venezuela
      and the
      countries visited by President Chavez are members of the Organization of

      Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Together with these countries,
      Venezuela regulates oil prices and must agree with them on strategies
      maintaining profitability while at the same time making prices
      affordable to
      the oil importing countries such as the U.S. With 60 percent of its
      budget based on oil income, clearly Venezuela must talk with members of
      This doesn't make Venezuela a partner in terrorism as has been
      insinuated by
      the U.S. and the media.

      2) Hugo Chavez is a friend of Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro. It is
      insinuated that he is therefore an enemy of the U.S. Venezuela is a free
      self-determining nation in its business relations with Cuba. It has a
      to have business relations with China or any other country.

      3) It is said that Hugo Chavez didn't condemn the attacks on the World
      Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and is therefore an enemy of the U.S. But
      Chavez most certainly did condemn the Sept. 11 attacks and said, just as

      France and Russia and the Pope did, that he doesn't support a heavy and
      indiscriminate attack against Afghanistan which might cause civilian
      casualties. The Bush administration considers neither the presidents of
      France and Russia nor the Pope as enemies of the U.S. and is not willing
      to plan and finance a coup
      against those leaders because they express humanitarian points of view.

      4) President Chavez is said to be a supporter of the Colombian
      guerrillas and
      is therefore involved in terrorism. The truth is that President Chavez
      condemned terrorism in Colombia.

      Furthermore, the Venezuelan government under his administration has been
      mediator in peace talks between the guerrillas and the Colombian

      5) The people of the U.S. should think deeply about U.S. support of the
      failed coup and its leaders and its plans to change the regime in
      The result of President Chavez's trip to oil exporting countries was
      agreement on a solid oil price. In Venezuela, the price of oil is
      important for education, health care and public services generally. The
      declaration of the leaders of the failed coup was the abandonment of the

      quota system, which caused oil prices to drop.

      Writer's note: Africans and people of African descent are beginning to
      our own story. Most other people have no vested interest in telling the
      about us. Professor Correa of Barloyento University is an African
      and he tells the story of the achievements of African Venezuelans, the
      States's participation in the failed attempt to overthrow President
      and the certain reversal of the social, economic, cultural and
      gains to African Venezuelans if President Chavez is overthrown. He
      with us to 1) discuss in open forums, churches and community
      the U.S. attacks on Venezuela and the conditions there, and 2) write
      to the U.S. Congress asking that the U.S. respect the Venezuelan
      and follow the rule of law and international treaties in dealing with
      Venezuela. You can trust his advice and act on it.

      I can be reached at Willliemackthompson_22335@ msn.com

      Will the U.S. reap what it has sown? Byrd asks

      Friday September 27, 2002

      By Paul J. Nyden

      Will Saddam Hussein unleash botulinum toxin, perhaps nature’s deadliest
      and other viruses and chemicals if the United States attacks Iraq?

      Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., posed this question to the Senate on
      based on documents obtained from different federal agencies.

      “We have a paper trail,” Byrd said. “We not only know that Iraq has
      weapons, we know the type, the strain, and the batch number of the germs
      may have been used to fashion those weapons. We know the dates they were

      shipped and the addresses to which they were shipped.

      “We have in our hands the equivalent of a Betty Crocker cookbook of
      that the U.S. allowed Iraq to obtain and that may well have been used to
      biological weapons.”

      Those shipments included:

      Between 1985 and 1988, the nonprofit American Type Culture Collection
      11 shipments to Iraq that included a “witches’ brew of pathogens,”
      anthrax, botulinum toxin and gangrene. All shipments were
      Between January 1980 and October 1993, the federal Centers for Disease
      shipped a variety of toxic specimens to Iraq, including West Nile virus
      and Dengue

      The U.S. Commerce Department and CDC provided lists of these shipments.
      Defense Department ought to have the same lists, so that the
      decision-makers will
      know exactly what types of biological agents American soldiers may face
      in the
      field,” Byrd said.

      “At last week’s Armed Services Committee hearing, Secretary [Donald]
      said he had no knowledge of any such shipments and doubted that they
      occurred. He seemed to be affronted at the very idea that the United
      States would
      ever countenance entering into such a deal with the devil.

      “Secretary Rumsfeld should not shy away from this information. On the
      he should seek it out,” Byrd said.

      In its Sept. 23 edition, Newsweek magazine published an article
      discussing the
      viruses, poisons and gases that the U.S. sent to Saddam Hussein in the
      At that time, the U.S. regarded Iraq as a potential ally against Iran’s

      Byrd criticized Rumsfeld for failing to answer questions he asked last
      week about
      these shipments to Iraq during an Armed Services Committee hearing.

      “I repeat today what I said to him then,” Byrd said. “In the event of a
      war with
      Iraq, might the United States be facing the possibility of reaping what
      it has sown?”

      Calls to the White House press office on Thursday afternoon were
      referred to the
      Department of Defense, where no one returned a call. One woman at the
      House asked, “How do you spell Byrd?”

      Federal documents and a United Nations Security Council report document
      a direct
      connection between periods when Iraq received toxins and viruses from
      the U.S.
      and the periods when Iraq developed biological weapons.

      Byrd closed his speech by asking what the future holds.

      “The role that the U.S. may have played in helping Iraq to pursue
      warfare in the 1980s should serve as a strong warning to the president
      that policy
      decisions regarding Iraq today could have far reaching ramifications on
      the Middle
      East and on the United States in the future.

      “In the 1980s, the Ayatollah Khomeni was America’s sworn enemy, and the
      government courted Saddam Hussein in an effort to undermine the
      Ayatollah and
      Iran. Today, Saddam Hussein is America’s biggest enemy, and the U.S. is
      said to
      be making overtures to Iran.”

      The Bush administration is also discussing whether to arm groups of
      dissidents, such as the Kurds, in Iraq.

      “Could the U.S. be laying the groundwork for a brutal civil war in Iraq?
      Could this
      proposed policy change precipitate a deadly border conflict between the
      Kurds and
      Turkey?” Byrd asked.

      He again urged caution. “Decisions involving war and peace,” he said,
      never be rushed or muscled through in haste. Our founding fathers
      understood that,
      and wisely vested in the Congress, not the president, the power to
      declare war.”

      Byrd said Congress must consider Bush’s requests for new war powers
      thoroughly, and on our own timetable ... and avoid the pressure to rush
      to judgment
      on such an important matter.”

      To contact staff writer Paul J. Nyden, use e-mail or call 348-5164.
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