destabilizes, and U.S. pays bill
By Andres Oppenheimer, aoppenheimer@MiamiHerald.com.
Posted on Thu, Oct. 18, 2007 in The
There is no mystery about Venezuelan President
Hugo Chávez's intent on destabilizing
U.S.-backed Latin American democracies:
he says so on his own government's website.
At first, when a Venezuelan political analyst
showed me about a month ago what he said
was a Venezuelan planning ministry's document
calling for the support of ''alternative
movements'' in Latin America, I dismissed
it as an internal government memo whose
authenticity and seriousness would be hard
to confirm. Thus, I decided not to print
a word about it.
But, to my big surprise, while surfing
through the Venezuelan government's information
ministry's website, www.minci.gov.ve, this
week, I stumbled upon the same document,
now presented as ''The Bolivarian Republic
of Venezuela's General Guidelines for the
Nation's Economic and Social Development
Plan 2007-2013.'' It included exactly the
same wording calling for Venezuela's support
of opposition groups in U.S.-friendly Latin
The 51-page document, dated September,
2007, has a section entitled ''Areas of
Geo-strategic Interest,'' which lists Venezuela's
''objectives'' in Latin America, the Caribbean,
and the United States.
Among these objectives:
o "Strengthening alternative movements
in Central America and Mexico in search
of [their] estrangement from the [U.S.]
o ''Neutralizing the [U.S.] empire's action
by strengthening the solidarity and public
opinion of the organized social movements''
in Latin America.
o Consolidating the axis of leadership
Cuba-Venezuela-Bolivia, to push for the
[Chávez-backed] Bolivarian Alternative
of the Peoples as an alternative to the
[U.S.-backed] Free Trade Area of the Americas
and the [U.S.] Free Trade Agreements.
o ''Creating a new international communications
order'' and "encourage a network of
alternative news networks.''
o ''Encouraging organization of solidarity
groups with the Bolivarian Revolution''
in the United States.
Venezuelan opposition leaders say there
is nothing new about this -- only that what
Chávez has repeatedly said in his
five-hour speeches has now been put on paper
as a six-year government plan.
According to Julio Borges, president of
Venezuela's opposition Primero Justicia
party, its publication in the website was
Rather, it's an effort to soften up Venezuela's
public opinion: Chávez's use of his
country's petro-dollars to become a regional
leader is the least popular of his policies
at home and Chávez wants Venezuelans
to accept it as a state policy and a fact
of life, Borges said.
''Chávez has already ceased to be
the president of Venezuela and is increasingly
becoming the president of the continental
revolution,'' Borges told me in a telephone
interview from Caracas. "Trouble is,
he's using the Venezuelan people's money
to make his personal dream come true.''
According to a study by Primero Justicia,
Chávez has already spent $37 billion
in foreign aid to 40 countries, mostly in
That does not take into account most of
the under-the-table aid to pro-Chávez
politicians and groups in Latin America,
including the $800,000 recently seized at
the Buenos Aires airport in the suitcase
of a Venezuelan businessman. He was traveling
on a private plane as a member of the Venezuelan
state-run PDVSA oil monopoly.
'PACK AND LEAVE'
''What they are doing is making it official
within the country that Venezuela is no
longer a country of the Venezuelan people
but the epicenter of a continental movement,
and that those of us who don't like that
must either pack and leave or resign ourselves,''
My opinion: Chávez is following
Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's script --
create conflicts with domestic and foreign
''enemies'' and claim you are defending
a larger-than-life revolution in order to
stay in power forever. Only difference is,
with oil prices at a record $87 a barrel,
Chávez is doing it with tons of money.
What bothers me the most about this is
not Chávez's narcissist-Leninist
project -- there have always been megalomaniac
military strongmen and always will be --
but that the United States is funding it.
Americans -- by driving our needlessly huge
gas guzzlers -- are paying Chávez
$34 billion a year for Venezuelan oil imports.
As long as we continue buying that much
Venezuelan oil, Chávez will keep
enjoying a blank check to fund ''alternative
movements'' in Latin America, as he openly
vows to do on his own government's website.