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Swaggering into Venezuela?

Reported by Chrish - June 7, 2005

Wendall Goler covered Bush's trip to Florida for the OAS meeting today 6/6/2005 on Special Report. Goler said that although neither Bush nor Secretary of State Rice mentioned Venezuela by name when commenting that democracy in several countries is threatened and needs to be recued by the OAS, that country's president Hugo Chavez feels the proposal is aimed squarely at him.

Goler said that "administration officials admitted privately that to have singled out Venezuela would have provoked that country and taken attention away from the summit's agenda. They feel Chavez has been strengthening his own power and weakening his country's democracy for several years. They point to his friendship with Fidel Castro, who warned him of a US assassination attempt. The Venezuelan leader blames the US for an attempted coup in 2002.

Bush said democracy is threatened by leaders who are playing to fear, pitting neighbor against neighbor, and blaming others for their own failure to provide for their own people. (Ahem. Today must be Irony Day.)

Goler goes on to report that the US has been courting Venezuelan opposition leaders. Rice met yesterday with Maria Machado, founder of a citizens' rights group who was invited to the White House last week. She is facing a prison term for accepting money from the "National Endowment for Democracy" (which is strongly disparaged by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) at Antiwar.com, Barbara Conry, Policy Analyst at The Cato Institute, Venezuelanalysis.com, among others). The only clip we saw/heard of her was "This was clearly meant to intimidate me."

Goler goes on to say that Chavez has reacted to the US pressure by threatening to cut off the oil supply to the US and has signed new supply agreements with India and China.

Chavez "sees himself as Latin America's leading anti-American voice. An interpreter says Chavez is saying "If there is any government that should be monitored by OAS it is the US government, a government which supports terrorists, invades nations, tramples over its own people, and seeks to install a global dictatorship .

Goler, seen again at the White House, says "Officials here are used to Chavez' hyperbole. They note the same charter which commits OAS countries to respect democracy for their people commits the organization itself to respect the principle of non-intervention."

Comment: Here in reality non-intervention would include NOT courting opposition leaders and NOT funding attempts to overthrow a duly elected official.

The Fox viewer is given all the salient talking points - democracy needs to be saved, Chavez is friends with Castro, he propogates fear and is divisive, he's threatening to cut off America's oil supply, and is a leading anti-American voice. Top it off with that lovely young woman being threatened with prison, never mind that it's for sedition for accepting foreign money in an attempt to overthrow a democratically elected government, and the typical Fox viewer is set up to cheer whatever strong moves Bush takes to secure the oil, uh secure democracy.

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