This article shows exactly how US imperialism works in the world today. It also shows just how evil US foreign policy really is. Now whether the behavior portrayed below is evil or good is a value judgment. I say it’s evil. Someone else may feel it’s the right thing to do.
But one thing for sure, the true story, as Greg Palast lays out below, is one you will never hear on US TV or radio or read in any US newspaper or magazine. The US media won’t even bring up charges like this even to deny them. Can you imagine if every day in the US you could turn on your TV to a debate on whether or not the US is an imperialist country? That’s a debate they don’t want you to have, even to deny it.
Problem is that no matter how hard they deny it, they don’t want you to hear the other side at all. There is too much risk that no matter how hard they ridicule the other side, a few people might decide to side with the opposition. A few Americans here and there might decide that, yes, the US is an imperialist country.
That the US is an imperialist country and that US capitalism is based on imperialism is beyond a doubt. There’s nothing to debate. It’s obviously true. Even the scores of US military bases and the huge US military are the armed faction of that imperial system. When you go enlist in the US military, you are joining as a foot soldier for imperialism, in general. You are carrying a weapon for Heinz, the Koch Brothers and Chevron more than you are defending US soil from shadowy enemies.
Almost all supporters of US capitalism (and we have many here on this blog) refuse to acknowledge that US capitalism is based on imperialism. Imperialism is its bread and butter.
It’s fine and dandy to support capitalism (I am not completely against the market myself), but I think if you support US capitalism, you ought to at least agree that it’s based on imperialism. That would be the brave and principled thing to do. And now do you support this system, this particular US capitalism buttressed by imperialism as laid out below. To me, that is a much harder thing to do, but supporters or US capitalism need to do that. They need to take a stand on imperialism. You either support US imperialism or you oppose it. Which will it be? No more dodging the question and pretending that imperialism doesn’t exist.
It is also interesting that we have Blacks on this board who hated Hugo Chavez. Yet Chavez was the great champions of the Blacks and Browns of Venezuela, as laid out below. Venezuelan capitalism, as is the case with capitalism in many parts of the world, was racially based. The Whites took all the money and left the Blacks and Browns with crumbs – starving, sickened, squatting in hovels with sewage running down the steep gutters. Why US Blacks would support such a racial spoils system is beyond me.
There is much talk that Chavez and other Latin American Leftists were all given cancer by the US. It’s an interesting theory, but there is no evidence for it at the moment.
I had an Argentine girlfriend once. We talked about the Dirty War in Argentina, supported to the hilt by the US (Henry Kissinger notoriously backed them to the hilt), in which 30,000 mostly unarmed and peaceful Leftists were murdered by a rightwing military dictatorship.
“Well,” she said thoughtfully. “The Latin American Left dreamed of a better world. And in Latin America, that is a dangerous thing.”
So it is with Hugo Chavez, so it is with the Americas, of which we in the north are increasingly a part.
“But why the GW Bush regime’s hate, hate, HATE of the President of Venezuela? Reverend Pat wasn’t coy about the answer: Its the oil. This is a dangerous enemy to our South controlling a huge pool of oil.”
Vaya con Dios, Hugo Chàvez, mi Amigo
By Greg Palast
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Venezuelan President Chavez once asked me why the US elite wanted to kill him. My dear Hugo: Its the oil. And its the Koch Brothers and its the ketchup.
Reverend Pat Robertson said, Hugo Chavez thinks were trying to assassinate him. I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.
It was 2005 and Robertson was channeling the frustration of George Bush’s State Department. Despite Bush’s providing intelligence, funds and even a note of congratulations to the crew who kidnapped Chavez (we’ll get there), Hugo remained in office, reelected and wildly popular.
But why the Bush regime’s hate, hate, HATE of the President of Venezuela? Reverend Pat wasn’t coy about the answer: It’s the oil. This is a dangerous enemy to our South controlling a huge pool of oil.
A really BIG pool of oil. Indeed, according to Guy Caruso, former chief of oil intelligence for the CIA, Venezuela hold a recoverable reserve of 1.36 trillion barrels, that is, a whole lot more than Saudi Arabia.
If we didn’t kill Chavez, we’d have to do an Iraq on his nation. So the Reverend suggests, We don’t need another $200 billion war
. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.
Chavez himself told me he was stunned by Bush’s attacks: Chavez had been quite chummy with Bush Senior and with Bill Clinton.
So what made Chavez suddenly “a dangerous enemy”? Here’s the answer you wont find in The New York Times:
Just after Bush’s inauguration in 2001, Chavez congress voted in a new Law of Hydrocarbons. Henceforth, Exxon, British Petroleum, Shell Oil and Chevron would get to keep 70% of the sales revenues from the crude they sucked out of Venezuela. Not bad, considering the price of oil was rising toward $100 a barrel.
But to the oil companies, which had bitch-slapped Venezuela’s prior government into giving them 84% of the sales price, a cut to 70% was no bueno. Worse, Venezuela had been charging a joke of a royalty just one percent on heavy crude from the Orinoco Basin. Chavez told Exxon and friends they’d now have to pay 16.6%.
Clearly, Chavez had to be taught a lesson about the etiquette of dealings with Big Oil.
On April 11, 2002, President Chavez was kidnapped at gunpoint and flown to an island prison in the Caribbean Sea. On April 12, Pedro Carmona, a business partner of the US oil companies and president of the nations Chamber of Commerce, declared himself President of Venezuela giving a whole new meaning to the term, corporate takeover.
U.S. Ambassador Charles Shapiro immediately rushed down from his hilltop embassy to have his picture taken grinning with the self-proclaimed President and the leaders of the coup détat.
Bush’s White House spokesman admitted that Chavez was, democratically elected, but, he added, Legitimacy is something that is conferred not by just the majority of voters. I see.
With an armed and angry citizenry marching on the Presidential Palace in Caracas ready to string up the coup plotters, Carmona, the Pretend President from Exxon returned his captive Chavez back to his desk within 48 hours.
Chavez had provoked the coup not just by clawing back some of the bloated royalties of the oil companies. Its what he did with that oil money that drove Venezuela’s One Percent to violence.
In Caracas, I ran into the reporter for a TV station whose owner is generally credited with plotting the coup against the president. While doing a publicity photo shoot, leaning back against a tree, showing her wide-open legs nearly up to where they met, the reporter pointed down the hill to the ranchos, the slums above Caracas, where shacks, once made of cardboard and tin, where quickly transforming into homes of cinder blocks and cement.
He [Chavez] gives them bread and bricks, so they vote for him, of course. She was disgusted by them, the 80% of Venezuelans who are negro e indio (Black and Indian)and poor. Chavez, himself negro e indio, had, for the first time in Venezuela’s history, shifted the oil wealth from the privileged class that called themselves Spanish, to the dark-skinned masses.
While trolling around the poor housing blocks of Caracas, I ran into a local, Arturo Quiran, a merchant seaman and no big fan of Chavez. But over a beer at his kitchen table, he told me,
Fifteen years ago under [then-President] Carlos Andrés Pérez, there was a lot of oil money in Venezuela. The oil boom we called it. Here in Venezuela there was a lot of money, but we didn’t see it.
But then came Hugo Chavez, and now the poor in his neighborhood, he said, get medical attention, free operations, x-rays, medicines; education also. People who never knew how to write now know how to sign their own papers.”
Chavez Robin Hood thing, shifting oil money from the rich to the poor, would have been grudgingly tolerated by the US. But Chavez, who told me, We are no longer an oil colony, went further
too much further, in the eyes of the American corporate elite.
Venezuela had landless citizens by the millions and unused land by the millions of acres tied up, untilled, on which a tiny elite of plantation owners squatted. Chavez congress passed in a law in 2001 requiring untilled land to be sold to the landless. It was a program long promised by Venezuela’s politicians at the urging of John F. Kennedy as part of his Alliance for Progress.
Plantation owner Heinz Corporation didn’t like that one bit. In retaliation, Heinz closed its ketchup plant in the state of Maturin and fired all the workers. Chavez seized Heinz plant and put the workers back on the job. Chavez didn’t realize that he’d just squeezed the tomatoes of Americas powerful Heinz family and Mrs. Heinz husband, Senator John Kerry, now U.S. Secretary of State.
Or, knowing Chavez as I do, he didn’t give a damn.
Chavez could survive the ketchup coup, the Exxon presidency, even his taking back a piece of the windfall of oil company profits, but he dangerously tried the patience of Americas least forgiving billionaires: The Koch Brothers.
How? Well, that’s another story for another day.
Elected presidents who annoy Big Oil have ended up in exile or coffins: Mossadegh of Iran after he nationalized BP’s fields (1953), Elchibey, President of Azerbaijan, after he refused demands of BP for his Caspian fields (1993), President Alfredo Palacio of Ecuador after he terminated Occidentals drilling concession (2005).
Its a chess game, Mr. Palast, Chavez told me. He was showing me a very long, and very sharp sword once owned by Simon Bolivar, the Great Liberator. And I am, Chavez said, a very good chess player.
In the film The Seventh Seal, a medieval knight bets his life on a game of chess with the Grim Reaper. Death cheats, of course, and takes the knight. No mortal can indefinitely outplay Death who, this week, Chavez must know, will checkmate the new Bolivar of Venezuela.
But in one last move, the Bolivarian grandmaster played a brilliant endgame, naming Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, as good and decent a man as they come, as heir to the fight for those in the ranchos. The One Percent of Venezuela, planning on Chavez’s death to return them the power and riches they couldn’t win in an election, are livid with the choice of Maduro.
Chavez sent Maduro to meet me in my downtown New York office back in 2004. In our run-down detective digs on Second Avenue, Maduro and I traded information on assassination plots and oil policy.
Even then, Chavez was carefully preparing for the day when Venezuela’s negros e indios would lose their king but still stay in the game. Class war on a chessboard. Even in death, I wouldn’t bet against Hugo Chavez.
“War’ s never a winning thing, Charlie. You just lose all the time, and the one who loses last asks for terms. All I remember is a lot of losing and sadness and nothing good at the end of it. The end of it, Charles, that was a winning all to itself, having nothing to do with guns.”
–Ray Bradbury, from the short story, The Time Machine, 1957