Viva Hugo Chavez
by BAR Editor and Senior Columnist Margaret Kimberley
When it comes to delivering health care and building economic opportunities for the poor, Barack Obama could learn a lot from Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. But with Obama repeating the same false charges that justified a US sponsored coup a few years ago, it seems that the empire and its president have learned nothing and forgotten nothing in their relations with Latin America over the last half century. On this front as many others, the Obama administration seems not to be much of a change from the arrogant imperial politics of the past.
The American public are fed lie upon lie about Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela. He has been elected and re-elected president by the citizens of his country, and his party continues to emerge victorious in parliamentary elections. The Bush administration very openly bragged out wanting to over throw the Chavez government and used military force in the region to intimidate Venezuela and Ecuador. Chavez is not alone in generating American hostility. Interference with the current Bolivian government was so blatant that the American ambassador was kicked out of the country along with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Hugo Chavez should be thanked by people around the globe for his willingness to openly scorn the United States of America and its leaders. It is a good thing that Chavez called Bush the devil from the podium at the United Nations. It is a good thing that he led a demonstration of 25,000 people against Bush in Argentina in 2007.
Now Hugo Chavez has done the world another favor by taking Barack Obama to school. At the Summit of the Americas conference held in Trinidad and Tobago, Obama created a photo opportunity by seeking Chavez out for a much photographed handshake. The publicity was interesting, considering that as he was on the verge of being inaugurated, Obama repeated the Bush administration lie that Chavez “exported terrorism” and was an “obstacle” to peace.
Chavez, never at a loss for words, responded that Obama was "a poor ignoramus," who had “the same stench as Bush.” “…the real obstacle has been the empire that he today presides over, which has exported terrorism for nearly 200 years, has launched atom bombs on innocent cities, has bombarded, invaded and issued orders to kill whenever they have taken the notion.” He also added, “He should study so that he knows the reality of Latin America.” Just to be certain that Obama learns a thing or two about that region of the world, Chavez gave him a copy of the book “The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Hundred Years of the Pillage of a Continent.”
After having created the great handshake scene, the Obama administration then didn’t know what to do with their own public relations coup that could have been followed up with real changes in policy. It was sad to see the immediate backpedaling from the administration over a smile and a handshake. One official claimed that Chavez was less popular than Obama among Venezuelans. David Axelrod said that Venezuela must stop "rampant and tasteless, anti-Americanism."
Chavez is not alone in his willingness to take on Uncle Sam. Almost all of the member nations of the Organization of American States are in favor of Cuba rejoining that organization. They are also agitating for the United States led embargo of Cuba to end.
None of the new leaders are unduly deferential to Barack Obama. Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, bristled at the United States criticism of Cuba’s human rights record. He pointed out, “The United States doesn't have any authority to speak about democracy, because from over there they install coup d'etats, like these civil coups now in Bolivia.” Morales and Chavez will not be lectured by a president who allowed Bush regime torturers to get away with their war crimes scott free.
The bankruptcy of United States foreign policy was on full display for all to see. Osama’s actions and the words of his top advisers prove that they do not want partnerships with other nations that are based on any kind of mutual interest. If foreign leaders object to American policy they are demonized and attacked and the corporate media dutifully joins in and repeats whatever the president says.
The American people are once again dependent on the rest of the world to tell them anything of significance. Hugo Chavez made Open Veins of Latin America an overnight bestseller and in the process proved that many Americans realize they aren’t getting the full story of the country’s history.
That is why Hugo Chavez should be lionized more than anyone who manages to get into the white house. American presidents are elected because a critical mass of wealthy people choose them before any voter arrives at a polling place. While Hugo Chavez rewrites history, Obama has no clue and no desire to join him in revolutionizing American foreign policy. We are left with a one party foreign policy. Fortunately, people in other parts of the world are able to make better choices.
Viva Hugo Chavez!