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medicineman
HALFLING


Joined: 21 Apr 2007
Posts: 1393
Location: Iowa City
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I was wondering when you would show up. I like these threads because they help me learn me about issues that I have a much more superficial understanding of than some people here - and getting very differing opinions only helps out research. I'm not of immensely strong feeling about Chavez one way or the other - I tend to be very much a shades of grey guy when it comes to political figures, because really, it's hard not to be. I hear he's helped the poor - I've seen his psychologically manipulative rhetoric targeting them at the same time. His antagonism towards the United States has always seemed to me more PR-oriented than anything else. More than anything else I just see one more potentially complicated power vacuum - so can I ask the more knowledgeable here - what happens now in Venezuela? Who succeeds? What are the competing figures/factions for power? Are we likely to see this area crumble into violence without Chavez? The man is dead and all his good and bad with him. What happens now to their people?
Post Mon Mar 11, 2013 9:17 pm
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Jared Paul



Joined: 15 Jul 2002
Posts: 3720
Location: www.PrayersForAtheists.org
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Greg Palast is a solid independent/investigative journalist in my opinion. He's written for the Observer, BBC, and Harpers and has been involved in breaking or covering a ton of stories on corporate fraud, voter fraud, and all manner of political issues. He wrote this piece after Chavez passed.

At the end it speaks to what's next in Venezuela, the battle brewing between his party's candidate and the U.S. backed opposition. The article is definitely sympathetic to Chavez but I've found Palast's articles to be factually accurate, regardless of rhetoric, and a good source when comparing articles

(this piece was posted in Vice Mag and on his site)

www.gregpalast.com/vaya-con-dios-hugo-chavez-mi-amigo/

Vaya con Dios, Hugo Chavez, mi Amigo

By Greg Palast, Vice Magazine

08 March 13


In 2005, Reverend Pat Robertson - channelling the frustration of George W Bush's State Department, said, "Hugo Chavez thinks we're trying to assassinate him. I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."

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, re-elected 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 - 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 suddenly made Chavez "a dangerous enemy"? 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 percent of the sales revenues from the crude they sucked out of Venezuela. Not bad, considering the price of oil was rising towards $100 a barrel.

But to the oil companies, which had bitch-slapped Venezeula's prior government into giving them 84 percent of the sales price, a cut to 70 percent 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 percent.

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 nation's Chamber of Commerce, declared himself President of Venezuela - giving a whole new meaning to the term, "corporate takeover".

US 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 d'état.

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. (How? Get The Assassination of Hugo Chavez, the film, expanding on my reports for BBC Television. You can download it for free for the next few days.)

Chavez had provoked the coup not just by clawing back some of the bloated royalties of the oil companies. It's 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, were 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 percent 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 neighbourhood, 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 programme 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 realise that he'd just squeezed the tomatoes of America's powerful Heinz family and Mrs. Heinz' husband, Senator John Kerry, now US 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 America's least forgiving billionaires: The Koch Brothers.

Elected presidents who annoy Big Oil have ended up in exile - or coffins: Mossadegh of Iran after he nationalised 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 Occidental's drilling concession (2005).

"It's 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, last night, checkmated 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.

[url][/url]
Post Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:52 pm
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crash



Joined: 07 Aug 2003
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Location: the chocolate city with a marshmallow center and a graham cracker crust of corruption
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chavez did lift a lot of people out of poverty. he did many great things for venezuela. as many have mentioned, he did plenty of not so great things (packing the courts, expanding term limits, etc.). in the context of venezuela's polarized and vicious political climate, i can almost forgive some of the more authoritarian steps he took.

the thing that really bothers me is that he didn't have the vision or the depth to mature beyond his anti-imperialist populist theatrics. he was wildly popular in venezuela, yet he still felt compelled to build a cult of personality with his weekly 4 hour television show. he didn't gain anything from befriending assad and ahmadinejad, yet he made a big show of doing so. chavez was obsessed with letting the world know he was an anti-imperialist crusader for the downtrodden. he wanted to be the face of the resurgent global south.

it's easy to play the role of hero for your country's downtrodden when you have tons of oil money to throw around. they'll love you for it (and vote for you!). but in scenarios where the downtrodden didn't have anything to give chavez (the people of syria, libya, iran) he stood up for repressive dictators. to chavez, being against the US was more important than being for the people.

that's what makes him a POS. his behavior, his politics, all of his actions were about his ego, not about the people. when he worked for the people, it was just a way to bolster his ego.

he had the ability to effect real change in venezuela (and the rest of the world) without building a cult of personality, calling bush a devil at the UN, and defending gaddafi. but he wouldn't do that, because he didn't want to just change things, he wanted to be the face of change. it was all about him.

at least, that's how i see it.
Post Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:20 pm
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Jesse Custer



Joined: 01 Dec 2006
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I don't see that it matters why he did it if he did good.

Show me an example of a better world leader.

Personally I'm glad for the theatrics anyway, in the same way I was glad for Michael Moore's brashness when he first showed up. Good for balance. There needs to be someone out there with some sway calling the US out on being cunts.
Post Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:36 pm
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Jared Paul



Joined: 15 Jul 2002
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Crash definitely makes points here that got me thinking but I don't see it the same way. I do think Chavez made it a bit too much about himself but he was only human, and working under the threat of a U.S. supported coup, economic hitmen, and immense political pressure the whole time.

I also think it was bad politics to align himself with Gadaffi, Ahmadinejad, Assad, etc., but in my opinion the U.S. government has killed more people and been responsible for more suffering and inequality than all those dictators put together times a million.

The U.S. government has also supported, installed, and aligned itself with dictators far more brutal and repressive than any of those three. Chavez clearly believed that too. And if you believe that there is one main super power exerting it's will over most of the world, and that that super power wants you dead, jailed, or deposed, and to snuff out everything you're working for, everything you believe the majority of the people in your country voted for, when you've got powerful U.S. leaders openly calling for or discussing your assassination on national television and your country could easily wind up invaded like Iraq, embargoed (officially or unofficially) like Cuba, or completely infiltrated and dictated to like Columbia, then the chances you will make allies with the enemies of your enemy increase significantly.

Ultimately, for me, he was a big part of the turning political tide that ended an overwhelming U.S. corporate / policy dominance in South America. He was re-elected (certified by the Carter Center), ran the country, and defended against a massive campaign to undermine his government without the mass violence that U.S. supported, approved, or installed dictators in Central and South America have so often brutally levied.

It takes a lot for me to celebrate somebody's death. I celebrate Strom Thurmond's death. I would happily squat down and take a shit on Christopher Columbus or Dick Cheney's grave, but Chavez isn't anywhere near that category for me.



*Calling Bush a Devil and bashing U.S. imperialism at the UN didn't piss me off, it made me smile- the sentiments, may have been dramatized like a slam poem, but otherwise, I thought they were pretty accurate. Dang!
Post Sat Mar 16, 2013 12:54 pm
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Dr Sagacious



Joined: 01 Mar 2009
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Crash: P.O.S.  Reply with quote  

Crash, you are seriously awful. You act like Chavez saw himself as a demi-god, and that the people were just blind. Do you even understand the high-level of social and political consciousness of the Venezuelan people? No, you don't know shit. It's just your unfounded opinion. Stop lobbing judgments at anti-Imperialists, and actually stand up to Imperialism in your own country first, you fucking prat.

Here is some perspective for your NY Times-laden ass.

via - http://www.workers.org/2013/03/16/chavezs-venezuela-promotes-solidarity-with-u-s-poor/


Quote:


The Venezuelan heating oil program began eight years ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Home heating oils had spiked as the giant oil companies used the damage to refineries in the Gulf as an excuse to gouge workers who needed the oil to heat their homes in the harsh winter months. President Chávez’s government has provided heating oil help each winter since.

In 2012, the U.S. government decided to cut 25 percent from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, taking away $1.2 billion in funding. At the same time, heating oil prices reached $3.93 a gallon, up 57 cents from 2011 and a 22-year high according to the Energy Information Administration (policymic.com, March 2012). This is a particular hardship for those in the oppressed communities and those on a fixed income, such as the disabled and retirees. Already there were more people in need from help from LIHEAP than were given assistance.

At the same time, in 2012, the ­CITGO- Venezuelan Heating Oil program provided 100 gallons of heating oil to some 400,000 poor families, allowing many to not have to choose between food and heat. Since the heating oil program began, more than 1.7 million people in the U.S. have been helped with 200 million gallons of oil, at a value of more than $400 million. (ABC News, March 4)

Despite the dramatic improvement of living standards for Venezuelan people under Chávez’s leadership, Venezuela remains a poor country with a poverty rate twice that of the U.S. Yet the Chávez government has continued providing this heating oil assistance as a statement of international solidarity with the poor and exploited against global imperialist rule.

The recipients of this aid catch this message loud and clear. Sofie Holland from Washington, D.C., effusively repeats her gratitude for the CITGO-Venezuelan Heating Oil Program. “How can you criticize someone who is helping people? What are the people who are criticizing doing to help? I don’t look at the president of Venezuela as a dictator. I look at him as a kind human being.” (ABC News, March 4).


Another great website is http://venezuelanalysis.com/factsheets [/b]
Post Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:00 pm
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Captiv8



Joined: 25 Aug 2006
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Re: Crash: P.O.S.  Reply with quote  

Dr Sagacious wrote:
Crash, you are seriously awful. You act like Chavez saw himself as a demi-god, and that the people were just blind. Do you even understand the high-level of social and political consciousness of the Venezuelan people? No, you don't know shit. It's just your unfounded opinion. Stop lobbing judgments at anti-Imperialists, and actually stand up to Imperialism in your own country first, you fucking prat.

Here is some perspective for your NY Times-laden ass.

via - http://www.workers.org/2013/03/16/chavezs-venezuela-promotes-solidarity-with-u-s-poor/



Does this aggressive, ultra pedantic approach really work in converting people to your opinion? This is probably the least constructive way to educate someone on your perspective, if that is indeed your goal. Take it down a notch, Ward.
Post Sat Mar 16, 2013 5:15 pm
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xGasPricesx



Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 1568
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Seriously, I mean I get that this conversation may tend to frustrate you, and it kind of seems like you're kind of talking to someone else you know who might be a bit more extreme in his ant-Chavez rhetoric, but especially considering crash's last post even went as far as admitting that he thought Chavez did a lot of great things, but just that he felt he did it for the wrong reasons, your post above to him kind of seems a bit extreme. Plus, I've met crash in real life, him and his friends took me in last time I was in DC and showed me a great time and pretty much acted like I was one of their crew without really knowing me. Crash is good people, and I find myself being more turned off to your take on the matter (a matter which I'm still very on the fence about) when you start off your response to him by calling him awful.
Post Sun Mar 17, 2013 1:38 am
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Jared Paul



Joined: 15 Jul 2002
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xGasPricesx wrote:
Seriously, I mean I get that this conversation may tend to frustrate you, and it kind of seems like you're kind of talking to someone else you know who might be a bit more extreme in his ant-Chavez rhetoric, but especially considering crash's last post even went as far as admitting that he thought Chavez did a lot of great things, but just that he felt he did it for the wrong reasons, your post above to him kind of seems a bit extreme. Plus, I've met crash in real life, him and his friends took me in last time I was in DC and showed me a great time and pretty much acted like I was one of their crew without really knowing me. Crash is good people, and I find myself being more turned off to your take on the matter (a matter which I'm still very on the fence about) when you start off your response to him by calling him awful.


No doubt!

A. I'm happy that that kind of aggressive insult based argument style seems to have toned down on this forum. I realize that I was one of those overly aggressive, derisive voices for a long time. Hopefully I've grown up a bit.

B. As anti-capitalists on this forum I hope that Dr. S and I and others can keep ourselves in check, and stick to the facts. Dialectical Materialism / Marxism / Socialism is really about unpacking truth for honest comparison, scientifically examining the material conditions and factors involved, drawing the most logical conclusions, and then moving forward together. It's not "i'm right, you're wrong, fuck you!" It's "we obviously disagree about some things, let's compare our sources, see if we can learn some new that might change our minds or whether there's any common ground; see what we can learn from one other's point of view, or if there are any campaigns we can work on involving issues where those view points do align."

The enemy is collecting hundred million dollar trust funds, manipulating countries into war, and setting oil prices, not on this forum.
Post Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:45 am
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Jesse Custer



Joined: 01 Dec 2006
Posts: 1258
Location: London
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Being aggressive about the issues is OK, I think. Like crash has done. It's a bit of a caustic style though and I can see why it might upset people. Attacking the poster personally like Dr S has doesn't get you anywhere though.
Post Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:16 am
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ecapataz



Joined: 14 Jun 2006
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Location: Bonn, Germany
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Greg Palast isn't involved with this so Jared Paul will probably discount it.

Post Fri Mar 29, 2013 7:33 pm
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Jared Paul



Joined: 15 Jul 2002
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ecapataz wrote:
Greg Palast isn't involved with this so Jared Paul will probably discount it.





Al Jazeera English is a pretty legit source in my opinion. The figure of Venezuela dropping from producing 50% of the world's chocolate to less than 1% is alarming, it also sounds kind of unbelievably severe. I'd love to have learned more about where those numbers came from. I'd also like to know more about Rosenberg. Is he a small farmer, a plantation owner, what were details around his farm being broken up, etc. Also would've like to have heard from some of the shanty town transplant farmers he was speaking of, or at least one.

I was also turned off by the guy talking about trying to lure in more international investments. But, my views are very different from most of the people on this forum in that regard, as I am a socialist and don't believe in building an economy around investments from multi-national corporations.

I'm weary whenever there are interviews all from one opinion, and not a range of opinions. Though, that's a slippery slope too, as anyone can interview a person from a minority opinion and juxtapose that with an interview from someone in the majority opinion as though they're both equally held beliefs.

As I said multiple times in this thread, Venezuela's politics / economic transition present a real complicated set of issues to understand or cover- I definitely don't understand any where near all of it.

I don't doubt at all that Chavez focused too much on oil and fucked up other areas of trade.

I also believe that transferring wealth and land to people/"someone from shanty town" is a complex and experimental process. It's going to be messy and there are going to be a lot of mistakes. The goal is not dump land on unskilled farmers from shanty town and wish them luck. The goal is to plan an economy based on geographical resources, population, need, etc, and that's going to mean teaching people to farm and creating opportunities.
Post Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:36 pm
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