Monday, May 19, 2008

Chavez Speaks with the US Press

Here are a couple of snippets from Hugo Chavez's recent interview with the US press published Sunday in the Boston Globe.

On President Bush:

I remember when I met George Bush for the first time. It was in Canada during the Summit of the Americas. We shook hands. And I said to him, with a lot of spontaneity and sincerity - and I know very little English - but I said this [in English]: I want to be your friend . . . I was hopeful for about 20 minutes.

On future relations with the United States:

I would love, for instance, to be able to work with the United States, together, and other countries as well, regardless of the ideology, to work in the field of health, for instance, infant mortality, food production. In Latin America, we have 19 million malnourished people . . . Haiti, this is a disaster. Children that die of hunger. Education. So many things that we can do together. Forget about the complexity of ideology. No matter how we think, there's a world waiting for us to tackle injustices. So I wish we can do that together. Well, if we couldn't do all that, at least we can sit down and talk.

I continue to be an admirer of Chavez. (I'm expecting my friend Graciela to scold me for this.) Clearly, I live far the Venezuela's reality and I often wish that Rafael Correa would have chosen Lula as his rhetorical and political mentor rather than Chavez. Our world is too full of black and white choices, but Chavez reminds me of one of Kennedy's remarks: that given the choice between Trujillo and Castro, the US would always choose Trujillo. A tragic choice for Cuba and for the Dominican Republic. But Kennedy didn't know any better. If our choice today is between Bush and Chavez or McCain and Chavez, indeed even between Hillary and Chavez, I'll go with Chavez.

Chris O'Connell asked me a couple of days ago if the Correa[/Chavez] plan is not the obvious way out of the neoliberal failures, what is? What sort of democracy can work? I don't hold much faith in the practice of democratic governments. Until a society can offer its people equal educational opportunities (perhaps the three pillars of the French Revolution: liberté, égalité, fraternité), democracy seems to me no more than a rhetorical strategy for demagogues. Venezuela, I am told, spends more on public education than any Latin American country. Sadly, Correa seems not to have any such plan. But even though educational spending isn't necessarily the answer--the US spends a ton and fails--in Latin America a significant investment in public education has got to be more democratic than the system we have today.

Read the entire interview at the Boston Globe website.

And while you're at it, have a look at the piece on the FARC computer files in Washington Post. (The link here is to the Houston Chronicle where the article is republished.) While the piece is typical Orwellian name calling, the comments by readers are interesting, especially the writer who recalls Colin Powell's famous lies about WMDs at the UN. Another suggests that the moron at the Post should actually read the Interpol report about the files.

Bill Moyers has pointed out that during the run up to the invasion of Iraq, the press would cite government sources and then Rumsfield and the rest would hold up the front page of the NY Times to prove the same point that they fed to the press the day before. Soon we will hear that the FARC is buying aluminum tubes somewhere and that Chavez, surely, is to blame.

But let's look at this from a trade point of view. We get our cocaine from Colombia and our oil from Venezuela. Colombia is our friend and ally and Venezuela is our enemy, led by a "demagogue/dictator," however freely elected. We used to get our oil from Iraq, formerly led by another
"demagogue/dictator." Still wonder why the Navy is moving in?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

US Naval Fleet to Be Positioned Off the Coast of South America

Have a look at this article by Victor Figueroa Clark:

"The news from the Pentagon that the US is re-establishing its Fourth Naval Fleet in the Caribbean, ostensibly to "build confidence and trust among nations through collective maritime security efforts" unfortunately shows that the days a US military threat to Latin America are far from over."

How about that? Some more confidence and trust in the hemisphere. And now that Hugo Chavez has his new submarines, we'll have confidence and trust on both sides. Anyone recall the Gulf on Tonkin?

Read the rest of the article at Upside Down World

(Thanks to Mark Odenwelder for sending this along.)

Friday, May 9, 2008

When the Truth No Longer Matters

Here is a paragraph from Vincent Bugliosi's new article on prosecuting George Bush for murder. Bugliosi was the lawyer that prosecuted Charles Manson. There is nothing new in Bugliosi's article. The truth has been clear since the Manning Memo was leaked in England. What's clear is that no one in Congress, none of the main-stream presidential candidates, and nearly no one in the US has the will to seek justice.

"On January 31, 2003, Bush met in the Oval Office with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In a memo summarizing the meeting discussion, Blair’s chief foreign policy advisor David Manning wrote that Bush and Blair expressed their doubts that any chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons would ever be found in Iraq, and that there was tension between Bush and Blair over finding some justification for the war that would be acceptable to other nations. Bush was so worried about the failure of the UN inspectors to find hard evidence against Hussein that he talked about three possible ways, Manning wrote, to “provoke a confrontation” with Hussein. One way, Bush said, was to fly “U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, [falsely] painted in UN colors. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach” of UN resolutions and that would justify war. Bush was calculating to create a war, not prevent one."

Read the article here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

"Constitutional Tinkering"?

Check out this short article on Ecuador's Constitutional Assembly in The Economist.

The future of Ecuador looks fairly grim as the Assembly continues to legislate without legal authority. And while new laws appear every day, a new constitution is nowhere in sight. There has been debate recently as to whether the new constitution should guarantee a woman's right to sexual pleasure. One can only wonder about enforcement.

Going Nowhere