As U.S. steps up attacks
Chávez presses ahead with social gains in Venezuela
Published Feb 7, 2006 9:36 PM
The U.S. government has
intensified its war of words against the Bolivarian government of Venezuela.
Recently, the Bush administration made one of its more outlandish attacks on
President Hugo Chávez when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld likened
Chávez to Hitler.
According to Rumsfeld, “He’s a person
who was elected legally just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally and then
consolidated power and now is, of course, working with Fidel Castro and Mr.
Morales and others.” Evo Morales was elected in December as
Bolivia’s first Indigenous president with 54 percent of the vote.
Rumsfeld’s slanderous attack on three of this hemisphere’s
most ardent anti-imperialist leaders came on the same day that Venezuela
announced the expulsion of U.S. Navy Commander John Correa. The Venezuelan
government says it has evidence Correa passed classified information from a
renegade faction of the Venezuelan military to the Pentagon.
offered a firm rebuke to Washington’s meddling by promising “the
imperial government of the United States that if their military attaches in
Venezuela continue to do what this commander has been doing, they will be
detained, and the next step would be to withdraw the whole so-called military
mission of the United States.”
The United States retaliated the
following day by expelling Jeny Figueredo Frias, chief of staff to
Venezuela’s ambassador. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack admitted
that the expulsion of Figueredo was simply “tit-for-tat.” The State
Department has not claimed or provided evidence to suggest she was involved in
any unlawful activities.
The day after the United States launched its
most recent verbal volley, the United Nations presented Chávez with its
2005 International Jose Marti prize. The prize is awarded for promoting Latin
American and Caribbean unity. Chávez, a close ally of socialist
Cuba’s Fidel Castro, has laid out a vision for a Latin America independent
of U.S domination.
The prize was handed out in Cuba, where many Latin
Americans are studying medicine for free. Hundreds of thousands of participants
gathered in the Plaza of the Revolution denounced Rumsfeld’s remarks as
Chávez accepted the award. Chávez has promised to donate the award
money to Bolivia’s social programs.
The Venezuelan government has
repeatedly offered assistance to workers and poor people living inside the
United States. A number of U.S. cities and states recently entered into
agreements to receive low-cost heating oil from Venezuela. Despite these
attempts at cooperation, the Bush administration and its allies have continued
to work to overthrow the Chavez government.
Rightwing televangelist Pat
Robertson repeated his call to assassinate Chávez on a recent edition of
Fox’s Hannity & Colmes. Robertson was forced to apologize for making
similar comments in August on his Christian “news” show, The 700
Club. When asked by co-host Alan Colmes if his comments canceled his earlier
apology, Robertson laughed and acknowledged that he was taking back his apology.
Robertson is an extreme right-wing Christian and a strong supporter of the Bush
administration, who recently blamed Israeli leader Ariel Sharon’s stroke
on his orders to withdraw from Gaza.
Chávez has asked his
country’s permission to procure more arms in light of the constant threats
emanating from Washington. Speaking at a rally in Caracas, Chávez warned
that Venezuela needs a million well-equipped men and women to protect the
country against what he termed “the imperialist, genocidal, fascist
attitude of the U.S. president [which] has no limits”.
improved for poor Venezuelans
On Feb. 6, Chávez officially
inaugurated his campaign for reelection to a second six-year term. The campaign
will focus on strengthening the revolutionary and Bolivarian process in
Venezuela. Over the past week the government has announced new social programs
aimed at improving the condition of Venezuela’s poor and
Chávez recently announced a 15-percent increase in the
minimum wage and the introduction of a $200 a month stipend to poor homemakers.
The stipend is a huge advance for women’s rights as it recognizes that
household work, which women were traditionally confined to prior to the
Bolivarian government, is an economic activity that generates wealth.
Chávez also announced on his weekly television program, “Alo
Presidente,” that $449 million will be spent revamping the National Public
Healthcare system under the guidance of Cuban doctors and advisors.
example set by Chávez and the revolutionary Bolivarian process is a
threat to the legitimacy of the United States’ corporate neoliberal model.
While this example fuels the belligerence of the Bush administration and its
allies, it is also the impetus for Chávez’s reelection campaign and
holds great promise for the future of Venezuelans and all Latin Americans.
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