Skip to comments.Chavez's New Situation (Chavez Plans to visit Saddam & Ghadafi in October)
Posted on 09/30/2001 4:11:55 PM PDT by RedWhiteBlue
CHÁVEZ'S NEW SITUATION
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez
By Democracy & Development
President Chávez reacted late and wrong before the 09-11 tragedy. He was last among Latin American rulers to pronounce himself. He did not do it on the 11th as his colleagues did. Under presidential directives his private Secretary read a statement of condemnation and condolences. The day after it was announced that the "network"* broadcast was cancelled. On Thursday night it went on for three hours.
The president read pages in the Bible, he condemned terrorist activities in the U. S. and offered assistance. Then, through three hours he commented on his weekly activities, stressing that in the delivery of lands and credits to peasants he was accompanied by the Ambassador and other high officials from Cuba visiting Venezuela. As usual in these instances, he used harsh language about the enemies of the revolution, lashing out on Andrés Mata, Editor of El Universal and his "gang of opinionators" who are strong critics of the government. Venezuela as a whole was living the horror of events in the U. S. As in the rest of the Continent people were nailed to the TV sets watching with terrified eyes what was unfolding on the TV screens. Many in Venezuela have relatives who study or work in New York and Washington. It was strange that the President would have not spoken on the day of the tragedy or the following day. It was incomprehensible that he would postpone it for the broadcast network. Unusual to take this matter as if attending a funeral to say some words of sympathy and then without respect for the climate of mourning, to go on chuckling on his adventures or demeaning respectable people. This is the summary of end of the week comments in multiple media sources.
Intelligence services warned the President military circles were demanding a stronger expression of solidarity with the American people. Ignacio Arcaya, our Ambassador in Washington, in permanent contact with the President, insists that Venezuelan oil gains a new dimension with a declaration of war in the Middle East as a posible scenario. In the Ambassador's opinion there will important changes in Bush's Latin American policy, but whichever these changes may be, Venezuela must be a secure supplier. "I guarantee supplies" was the respoinse from Chávez. * The weekly broadcasts by the President on national radio and TV.
This message appeared not to answer the expectations at the U. S. Embassy. Donna Hrinak had a long meeting with Foreign Minister Dávila. Coming out of this meeting reporters asked her if the U. S. Government, has considered, within the present context, Venezuela's relations with Arab countries. "We're still examining the situation. countries have to decide which side they take, whether they're with the terrorists or whether they side with freedom and peace. Each country must decide now."
For President Chávez, the decision is awfully difficult. He is of the conviction that he is one of the main political players of the world. That he's recognized as a leader called upon to promote the universal struggle against globalization and neoliberalism.
No one ignores that his efforts helped in the rebuilding of OPEC, whose head, Alí Rodríguez, -a man of his trust- was his choice for the position. To bring OPEC back to life he went to Baghdad to talk to Saddan Hussein andto condemn the embargo against Irak. He went to Libya to meet with Gaddafi at the residential ruins because of U. S. missiles in 1989 and to offer his fraternal solidarity. He brought Mohammed Khatami to Caracas and later
visited him in Teheran, in the process of reaching concrete and strong agreements with Iran. The most important was the making of the axis of a powerful alliance to turn oil into a strategic element against globalization.
A momentous choice is before him. As President he has journeyed the entire planet blaming globalization and neoliberalism as the root of the pain of peoples. In all scenarios he has said that savage capitalism breeds on the power of an empire who practices it and imposes it on others. A new balance in world power is indispensable to humanize globalization and slow
down neoliberalism. He believes to have conquered universal admiration in the frontal, daily battle against unipolarity. Does the empire hope to have us bring down the flags?
In the 48 hours following the terrorist attack he vanishes from sight. He would later say that he was in meditation. How can he forget that Fidel has delivered to him the relay symbols, ushering him as the rising leader in the battle against the empire? How can it be forgotten that Ghadaffi has pointed to him as the head of a new movement to conquer the dignity of imperialism's oppressed peoples? How not to recall that wondrous day in Malaysia, when rulers of 77 countries asked him to lead Southern nations in their renewed efforts towards justice and equity? Or the mail exchange with famous fellow Venezuelan Carlos Ilich Ramírez -"EL Chacal"- for whose extradiction so much has been done by the Ambassador to Paris? In his lonely reflection he turns his sight onto a magazine on his desk: The New Yorker with the 22 page report written by Jon Lee Anderson. The President has read it several times. He reads again the final paragraphs.
"Chávez acknowledged that there is still misunderstanding and confusion in the U. S. over his policies. On this he said: "Until recently, what was under discussion, here and abroad, was to appease Chávez." Let's be nice to him to see if we can tame him" easily.
But it seems this beast is not too easy to tame." He lowered his voice and, this time, he did not smile. "This is an ideological conviction of mine and nothing will change that."
This is Chávez's own version to members of his staff and associates with whom he met at "La Casona," ( the Presidential Residence) in order to analyze the meeting between the Foreign Minister and Ambassador Hrinak together with reports from Venezuelan Ambassadors. In the meeting he began by saying that Fidel had again called him to suggest prudence. Ambassador Arcaya recommends not to rush. The Ambassador to France maintains that Europe will not give Bush carte blanche. Minister Rangel says that he's been carefully reading what Gutiérrez , Under Secretary of Latin American Affairs, said -when asked about Venezuela's relations with OPEC Arabs: "The Department of State remains committed in keeping a good relationship with Venezuelans. We cannot ignore hat its President has popular support shown in several elections. He says and does things we dislike but we make efforts not to react." Chávez informs of a coded message from the Embassy in Washington. The Commerce Secretary threatens with sanctions. The President asks an aide to tune into CNN to be informed before giving his orders.
The Venezuelan government shall remain on guard. The repuslse of the terrorist acts of 09-11 is firm. The will is equally firm to guarantee oil supplies to the U. S. but Venezuela shall not give Bush carte blanche.
The major lines of foreign policy of the Bolivarian revolution will not change. Unity of OPEC is the priority, which means preserving the best of relations with Middle East producers. Venezuela is now a major actor in world politics because it assumed the vanguard role in the battle against unipolarity. The U. S. wants to take advantage of 09-11 to consolidate its world hegemony. This means that, as never before, the validity grows for the struggle to solidify several poles of power counterbalancing each other.
Such is the synthesis of the presidential intervention in the gathering at La Casona. "Those are the orders for Foreign Minister Dávila who travels to the U. S. for the meeting at the OAS." With a happy smile he added: I will also travel, God willing, but it shall be in October to planned meetings with Saddan Hussein and Ghadaffi."
Some very serious concerns on the national scene -polls, labor unions and the economy- are now added to the worry about problems in the development of his foreign policy -labeled a puzzle by The Wall Street Journal-. These are equally worrisome because they are interconnected.
POLLS ARE WORRISOME
For months "squalids" * have been publishing polls showing a decline in the levels of popularity. He denies them in his network broadcasts and in Aló Presidente on Sundays. He shows the videos of crowds going crazy before him, they touch him as if he were the image of a saint, kids embrace him, women kiss him, men applaud him.
The "squalids" say that what all these people aim at is for Chávez to receive some request or for him to respond their letters describing their problems. It is true that everyone screams as in a Greek choir, "Chávez help me!" but most show up wearing a red beret and grow hoarse in their cries of support. The people are bolivarian. They are with the revolution. It is the discourse of the President.
Published polls show that Chávez's popularity has declined from 80 to 50 % His followers say that these are paid polls by the oligarchy. The add that even if they were trustworthy, what they show is the strength of Chávez , as never before a President on the third year of his mandate had such a high percentage of support.
The poll that concerns Chávez is the last one submitted by one of his private secretaries and conducted by a government agency. The focus groups are alarming. In the text of analysis the President has remarked what he believes is important:
* The president's popularity has declined 20 points in the past months. The levels of displeasure have been growing in the same scale. Both lines show sustained trends during the last year. They are crossing each other in scissor's shape.
* Should this trend continue in the forthcoming polls developed for private businesses and the Armed Forces, the rate of "displeasure" will be above that of "pleasure."
* Los "focus groups" show that the majority of "chavistas" disagrees with the rapprochement to Fidel and to the Colombian guerrillas.
* In the "focus groups" loyal Chávez voters show reservations over his ability to govern.
* The positive rating of the government has deteriorated to the point of being the lowest in the 30 months of this administration.
* The rate of approval of the President is 25 %.
* 75 % respond negatively to the question of whether they have received benefits or whether they know someone who has been a beneficiary of the President's Civic Military Plan. * Term used by the President to label the opposition.
* The President's "hard" support has been declining through the year and is now at its lowest, 23 %.
* In the evaluation of institutional referents, the government and the Armed Forces show severe wear and tear.
* In the same evaluation, the mass media and the Catholic Church are way above the government.
* The National Assembly and the Supreme Court show such devaluation levels as those suffered by the Congress and the Supreme Court towards the end of the IV Republic.
* The trend is sustained to make the President responsible for the problems affecting people: delinquency, unemployment, increase in the cost of living.
* Close to 50 % of those polled considered Chávez incapable of bringing about the changes needed in Venezuela.
* It is the same percentage shown on the trust the President deserves.
* Regarding the national climate, evaluated by the difference between optimism and pessimism, the level of the latter is close to that present during the last year of the IV Republic.
People cooperating with Venezuela Today had access to these polls. Motives for presidential concerns are justified. In general, they coincide with the last polls of private business who have greater credibility and whose findings have filtered to the media.
A tangible expression of the erosion in the President's leadership is that in his battle to control the unions, workers offer a Stalingrad-type resistance. In his visit to Russia, he ask to go to Volvograd where he was told of the heroics by the Soviets facing German tanks.
A similar resistance is that of Venezuelan workers. Several times Chávez had publicly vowed to turn them -Confederación de Trabajadores de Venezuela (CTV) [Venezuelan Confederation of Workers] into rubble. He called for a plesbicite so that el soberano (the people) would convalidate the vow. People abstained to participate in the plesbicite but the President proclaimed that by will of el soberano, a one and only central of Bolivarian workers would be constituted. The regulation and supervision of union elections belongs to the electoral body of the State (CNE) made of "Bolivarians."
The project crumbled with the unstoppable mobilization of the workers demanding the right to freely elect their leaders. Chávez gave up on his idea of one central of workers and gave orders to his followers to take control of the CTV. To that effect, the Supreme Court and the CNE (National Electoral Commission) mounted "operation assault." A public event was organized with people transported from all over the country and who were given monies for food and lodging by the government. In his speech Chávez said that the Presidency of the CTV had to be for a leader committed to the revolution. He announced that Aristóbulo Istúriz, a veteran professional politician within his ranks, was his candidate. "The interests of the revolution are at stake and Aristóbulo is our candidate. As President of the CTV he will have a seat in the Council of Ministers to represent workers in matters of State."
What Chávez thought was a guarantee for victory defeated Istúriz. Workers, in keeping with constitutional and legal guidelines began the process of base elections. Victories were so clear that the Supreme Court intervened to postpone the Sectorial Federations, thus giving the oficialistas a chance to regroup "rain or shine..." Revolutionaries could not do a thing. The first elections of Federations -Siderurgy and Construction- were such a heavy defeat that the CNE called off those which had been scheduled.
Chávez in his drive to have a CTV committed to the Bolivarian revolution has allowed a dramatic show of his loss of constituency within the working class. "Inconceivable to be a popular revolution without the support of the workers," say friends and foes alike.
Chávez claims that "in every revolution workers are the vanguard." Workers, however, vote against candidates in red berets, the trademark of chavistas. A press reporter wrote: "The king is naked, not so much before civil society but rather before the Armed Forces who have become the sole support of the process and maintains its backing of Chávez because it has considered he owns the streets."
In the labor scenario Chávez lags behind:
* He calls off the elections. Strikes, demonstrations and dangerous public unrest are in the forecast. The ILO (International Labor Organization), and the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights will make themselves reliable observant participants. Solidarity will be shown by other world
groups through their Regional and World Federations with close ties for over 50 years with the CTV.
* He attempts to hold rigged elections under the control of the CNE while violating standing international treaties and concrete constitutional norms. Workers will hold elections under the supervision of an Electoral Board with representatives of all factions. A new CTV shall emerge with affiliated Federations acknowledged by private business. Many of the public companies and joint venture firms shall have no choice but to accept as partners in negotiations those authentic leaders who for sure will receive support and protection from the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights and the ILO.
* He allows the unfolding of the process without noises from power sources. The outcome will be lethal for the regime unless he chooses to recognize the victory of democratic unionism.
Friends and foes coincide that the President has gotten himself in a erilous maze in his efforts to brand Venezuelan unionism with the seal of the revolution. His retired colleagues predict that this battle may be the Comandante's Waterloo.
THE ECONOMIC SCENARIO
The economy is the other heavy concern for President Chávez. Spectacular achievements in the economic sphere is a fundamental predicament of the revolution.
Seminars, workshops, gatherings of experts, sponsored by domestic and foreign academic institutions have been held lately and their conclusions allow the following reading:
* Significant indicators are those dealing with the real economy: employment, productivity, investment growth. Official figures show that unemployment rose to 17 % (open unemployment); underemployment increased to 55 %. It is in the informal economy where more than half of the working population carries out precarious activities on their own, without social security and with income below subsistence levels.
* High oil prices generated a 2000 surplus in balance of payments regular accounts in the amount of 14 billion dollars. In 2001 a high surplus is estimated. However, there no investments and companies are shutting down.
*Lack of confidence in economic actors has produced capital flight beyond 14 billion dollars.
* The domestic debt acquired by the regime amounts to 11 billion dollars.
* The projected 3 % growth for the present year is graying itself out due to the 2.5 % rate of demographic increase for the year.
* Currency overvaluation is estimated at 50 %.
* Regarding inflation, there is no control but rather a repressing due to the decline in consumption and the refusal to correct the exchange rate. The imminent exchange control required to slow down capital flight shall be the forerunner of a maxidevaluation launching the inflation rate.
* Conditions and quality of life have deteriorated for Venezuelans during the Chávez tenure and in worst terms now than in preceding years.
* The permanent presidential confrontation with entrepreneurs maintains a climate of distrust which arrests the productive activity.
This is the scenario in which President Chávez dictates that his government keep the international agenda: OPEC unity as a priority and a struggle against U. S. unipolarity as the flag of the Bolivarian revolution.
Democracy and Development is publish by Venezuela Today, www.venezuelatoday.org. Its President - Dr. Pedro Pablo Aguilar is a former President of the Venezuelan National Congress. Its views are not necessarily those of PETROLEUMWORLD.
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