Posts Tagged ‘President Chavez’

Petras: Latin America’s Twenty-First Century Socialism in Historical Perspective

October 13, 2009

The electoral victory of center left regimes in at least three Latin American countries, and the search for a new ideological identity to justify their rule, led ideologues and the incumbent presidents to embrace the notion that they represent a new 21st century version of socialism (21cs).

The James Petras website,  October 10, 2009

Prominent writers, academics and regime spokespeople celebrated a totally new variant of socialism, as completely at odds with what they dubbed as the failed 20th century, Soviet-style socialism. The advocates and publicists of 21cs claims of a novel political-economic model rested on what they ascribed as a radical break with both the free market neo-liberal regimes which preceded, and the past “statist” version of socialism embodied by the former Soviet Union as well as China and Cuba.

In this paper we will proceed by examining the variety of critiques put forth by 21cs of both neo-liberalism and 20 century socialism (20cs), the authenticity of their claims of a novelty and originality, and a critical analysis of their actual performance.

Read essay [PDF]


Go home, gringo

September 13, 2008

Richard Gott |, Friday September 12 2008 17:03 BST

On the 35th anniversary of the military overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile on September 11, 1973, which had the overt support of the United States, the presidents of Bolivia and Venezuela have asked the US ambassadors accredited to their countries to leave.

They both believe they are facing the possibility of an imminent coup d’etat in which they accuse the Americans of being involved. A third country, Paraguay, announced 10 days ago that it had detected a conspiracy involving military officers and opposition politicians. Latin America now faces its most serious crisis since the re-introduction of democratic practice at the end of the last century.

Brazil and Argentina have both denounced the violent activities of opposition groups in Bolivia that have led to the closure of the natural gas pipelines to their countries, while President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela has warned that a coup against Evo Morales of Bolivia would be seen as a “green light” for an armed insurgency in that country.

Giving details of a planned coup in his own country, in which retired military officers and opposition figures were involved, Chávez announced the expulsion of the US ambassador, Patrick Duddy, and the withdrawal of his own ambassador from Washington. Any aggression against Venezuela, Chávez said, would involve a halt in the supply of Venezuelan oil to the United States.

Chávez’s decision came one day after President Morales had thrown out the US ambassador in La Paz, Philip Goldberg, who has been frequently accused by the Bolivian government of plotting with the separatist politicians in the eastern province of Santa Cruz.

The situation in Bolivia is immediately more dramatic than in Venezuela, although both countries are facing important electoral battles at the end of the year.

Evo Morales, an indigenous politician from the Andes in the west of the country, has organised a referendum on a new constitution to which the rightwing (and white racist) politicians in the eastern lowlands are bitterly opposed. The atmosphere of violence has now broken into the open, with endless political demonstrations and several deaths, the seizure of provincial airports, and sabotage of the oil and gas installations on which the country’s economy depends. Morales has accused the regional governors of the five eastern regions of creating the conditions for a coup.

Chávez originally announced his decision to expel the US ambassador from Caracas as an act of solidarity with Morales – “so that Bolivia is not alone”. But it was soon clear that he had his own possible coup d’etat to deal with. A tape recording of phone conversations between retired military officers, some of whom were involved in the failed coup of April 2002, was broadcast on Venezuelan television on Wednesday night, revealing plans to seize the Miraflores presidential palace and to capture or shoot down the presidential plane.

The suggestion that there were plans to assassinate the president brought large crowds down from the shanty towns on Thursday night to demonstrate their solidarity with Chávez. Several of the alleged conspirators have been detained. Venezuela, like Bolivia, has an uncertain pre-election climate, since there will be regional and municipal elections in November that will be viewed as a judgment on the popularity of the president.

The possible coup in Paraguay appears less serious, since it only appeared to involve preliminary discussions between retired General Lino Oviedo, an old hand at failed coups, and a serving officer. Yet since the government of the left-wing former bishop, Fernando Lugo, has only been in power since August, tales of a possible coup have reverberated through the continent. Brazil declared pointedly that it would not tolerate a coup in Bolivia “or in any other Latin American country”.

The US is, of course, preoccupied with Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but whichever presidential candidate takes over in January will also find Latin America at the top of his in-tray.

Baleful Imperial Power

August 4, 2008

Bases Upon Bases

By BRIAN CLOUGHLEY | Counterpunch, August 2 / 3, 2008

What do the following places have in common — Afghanistan, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Iraq, Japan, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and South Korea?

They all have US army bases. There are dozens of them. To which add enjoyment or otherwise of the presence of US Navy headquarters and warships by the Bahamas, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Cuba (Guantanamo Bay), Greece, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, plus another score of ports worldwide where USN ships are welcomed by permanently-based staffs who are guests of host governments. These places are not bases. They are not counted in the officially admitted 780 (or so) colonial-style military encampments that Washington has imposed on inferior nations. The US military presence round the world is enormous. It is greater than any other country or empire has ever had. The most expansionist days of Rome and the British Empire, Hitler’s assault on Europe, and Stalin’s domination of the countries on Russia’s borders pale in comparison with the global embrace of what has become a sinister force for destabilisation.

Although it is unlikely that any more South American countries will allow the US to establish military bases (Ecuador will cancel its airbase agreement next year, being so fed up with the arrogance of the northern imperialists), the newly-created US Fourth Fleet is now patrolling off the shores of Venezuela, menacing its democratically elected leader, Hugo Chavez, who has incurred the wrath of US business interests by running his country more efficiently without their presence.

Mr Chavez doesn’t like the idea of giving his country’s natural resources to US companies and he won’t be bribed by them. This is absolutely unforgivable in the eyes of the Cheney-supported Friedmaniac freaks who nearly ruined Russia – and would have done so, had it not been for President Putin taking charge and restoring his country to economic sanity. Little wonder President Chavez has been attacked so viciously by the US and British media, parroting the Right Wing mantra that privatisation might reduce millions to poverty, but that it’s really a good thing in the long run. (Providing you aren’t one of those who have died from starvation meantime, of course.)

Venezuela has lots of oil, which may have added to Washington’s priority in creating a 12 ship fleet to “build confidence and trust among nations through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests.” But it isn’t clear what confidence and trust can be created by a nuclear aircraft carrier and amphibious assault ships whose ostensible mission involves countering drug smuggling and, inevitably, taking part in the absurd “War on Terror.”

President Chavez said words to the effect that he wondered what US reaction be if a South American nation sent a fleet to patrol the coast of Virginia, and of course he is perfectly right in fearing the baleful American presence. America sends hundreds of ships, many nuclear-armed and equipped with fearsome missile, to roam the coasts of foreign countries, but imagine the screams of shock, horror and astonished indignation if Russia or China sent a battle group to stroll nautically up and down the coast from Seattle to San Francisco.

As to Venezuela – who knows what special forces knuckle-draggers and CIA psychotics are deployed to assist the US-supported anti-Chavez underground that already exists. (The Fourth Fleet is commanded by Admiral Joseph D Kernan, a former special forces commander ; the signal could not be clearer.) In May a US Navy Viking electronic warfare aircraft “accidentally” flew into Venezuelan airspace, which doesn’t provide much confidence in a navy operating a super-sophisticated plane, with every up-to-date navigation device, that can lose its way so easily. What a load of nonsense. So it can be deduced that the plane was deliberately trailing its coat to assess the effectiveness of Venezuela’s defence radar system – just as is done every day in the Persian Gulf by US aircraft and ships closing up to Iran’s coastline to plot radar and other defence facilities in order to be able to bomb them if Bush decides to encourage Israel to attack Iran.

There is also a US navy, Marine and air force base in Diego Garcia, a British territory, in which there is a CIA prison to which prisoners have been delivered by the wonderful process of “rendition.” (The British government denied knowledge of “rendition” through British territory but had to acknowledge that it lied, following production of evidence that it had lied. Can we trust anyone? Anyone at all?)

Continued . . .