Is Washington planning a bloodbath
by Stuart Munckton, Green Left
ZNet, April 05, 2005
The Venezuelan government headed by President
Hugo Chavez repeatedly accused the US government of planning a
"new aggression" against Venezuela, including a plot
to assassinate Chavez, despite pro-Chavez forces winning nine
national elections in six years. Caracas claims to have information
of an assassination plot to be carried out "within 100 days"
against Chavez, although the government has refused to reveal
While Washington has dismissed the accusations
as "ridiculous", further evidence was provided by a
mid-March interview on Miami's Channel 22 TV station with former
CIA agent Felix Rodriguez.
A March 17 /Washington Post/ article,
entitled "Anti-Bush fears assassination", reported that
the previous week "former CIA operative and prominent Bush
supporter" Rodriguez, when asked by his interviewer about
the assassination plot accusations, stated ''that he had information
about the administration's plans to 'bring about a change' in
Venezuela, possibly through 'military measures'".
Rodriguez went as far as to set out possible
scenarios. He said that an air-strike aiming to kill Chavez was
one possibility, pointing to the bombing raid then US President
Ronald Reagan ordered in 1986 to kill Libyan President Muammer
Qadhafi (Qadhafi survived the raid, but his daughter was killed).
The Cuban news agency Prensa Latina reported on March 15 that
in the interview Rodriguez had stated that he personally expected
to participate in a CIA operation to kill Chavez.
The /Washington Post/ pointed out that
"Rodriguez's remarks cannot be dismissed as bombast. He is
well known in Latin America for his role advising a Bolivian military
unit that captured and executed Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara
in 1967. He is well-connected with the Bush family. The memory
of various White House-approved, CIA-sponsored conspiracies to
assassinate Fidel Castro in the 1960s may have faded in Washington
but they have not in Havana or Caracas."
The United States openly supported a
military coup against the Chavez government in April 2002, which
was reversed two days later by a popular uprising. Since then,
however, the US Congress-funded National Endowment For Democracy
has poured millions of dollars into the groups that supported
Washington's aim is to crush the popular
revolution being carried out by Venezuela's working people - who
are organising on a mass scale to take control of the country
out of the hands of the privileged oligarchs who have traditionally
The US is targeting Chavez because of
his role in encouraging the mass mobilisation of Venezuela's poor.
However, killing Chavez would only be prelude to further intervention
aimed at physically crushing the revolutionary masses. The death
of Chavez, the leader of the revolution, could trigger the kind
of confusion and chaos that Washington could use to justify military
intervention - directly, through US allies in Colombia or through
counter-revolutionary Venezuelans. This would almost certainly
be accompanied by a violent campaign to exterminate the popular
organisations and the revolutionary militants in the cities and
countryside, just as was done in Chile in 1973 when the CIA-backed
Pinochet dictatorship overthrew the democratically elected President
In one infamous incident in Chile, a
football stadium in Santiago was turned into a killing field when
thousands of trade unionists were herded into it and many executed.
The cover of the April 11 right-wing
/National Review/ magazine featured a photo of Hugo Chavez and
Fidel Castro and the slogan, "Axis of Evil - Western Hemisphere
The author was Otto Reich, currently
a private consultant to the US government, who has served under
the current administration as a special advisor to Bush on Latin
American affairs and as assistant secretary of state for Western
Reich wrote: "With the combination
of Castro's evil genius, experience in political warfare, and
economic desperation, and Chavez' unlimited money and recklessness,
the peace of this region is in peril". According to Reich,
the US's "pressing specific challenge is neutralizing or
defeating the Cuba-Venezuela axis."
As Eva Golinger pointed out in a March
30 Venezuela Analysis article: "The terms 'neutralizing'
and 'defeating' are not friendly ... These are not terms used
within the sphere of diplomacy, they are expressions used in the
context of armed conflict."
In late March, the Spanish-language edition
of the /Miami Herald/, /El Nuevo Herald/, began a campaign to
whip up hysteria against the supposed threat posed by organisations
set up in solidarity with Venezuela.
According to Golinger, the series of
articles "pretend to expose a network of Chavez supporters
in universities and progressive groups that should be considered
'foreign agents' or almost 'terrorist' by the US government and
public." This supposed alliance of Chavista agents infiltrating
the US includes university professors, writers, community groups
concerned about the US policies towards Venezuela and the Catholic
missionary group Maryknoll.
In an open letter sent the /Miami Herald/,
Cort Greene from the US Hands Off Venezuela solidarity organisation,
wrote: "Your so-called investigation is nothing more than
a witch-hunt intended to scare and intimidate supporters of the
Venezuelan revolutionary process ... Attacks such as these are
reminiscent of the days of McCarthyism, when people and organisations
were accused without evidence in order to suppress opposition
to US government policies."
While the US is planning an attack on
Venezuela, it is unclear whether it will be able to carry it out,
and, if it does, whether it will be successful or not.
Despite repeated public pressuring of
other Latin American nations, Colombia is the only Latin American
country to join the US in its campaign against Venezuela. In recent
months, Venezuela has concluded far-reaching trade and political
agreements with Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay - including, in
the case of Brazil, an agreement to sell Venezuela military hardware.
One of the key complaints of the Bush
administration is that Venezuela is engaging in an "arms
race" by purchasing 100,000 AK-47s from Russia. At a press
conference on March 30, Brazilian President "Lula" da
Silva, attacked this claim, declaring, "we do not accept
defamations and insinuations against companeros. Venezuela has
the right to be a sovereign country."
Venezuela Analysis reported on March
30 that Bush has personally taken on the job of trying to convince
other Latin American countries to isolate Venezuela, speaking
to the presidents of Mexico and Argentina, as well as Canada.
However, the article quotes an unnamed Bush official as declaring
that Argentinian President Nestor Kirchner responded by saying
Argentina intended to continuing "dialoguing with the democratic
government of Venezuela".
This is not just because of the economic
agreements Venezuela has in the region, but also because the immense
popularity the Venezuelan revolution has among the Latin American
masses. This makes it difficult for other Latin American leaders
to take a public position against Venezuela.
The most important deterrent to US military
intervention, however, is the moves inside Venezuela to organise
the poor masses into armed, popular militias. The decision to
organise and arm the masses into units of self defence was crucial
to the defeat of the US-sponsored "Bay of Pigs" invasion
of Cuba in 1961, at the Venezuelan government has clearly assimilated
the lesson - and probably so has the US.
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