Topic: Venezuela Connection
The Venezuela Connection: Beating the Gas-Gouging Blues
Could the recent outcry over a publicly aired death-wish directed at Venezuela’s progressive president result in relief at the gas pump for black Americans? Stay tuned.
By J.B. Borders
Pat Robertson is a fool, a total frigging idiot (TFI) on the scale of George “The Great Prevaricator” Bush.
But Robertson, the drawling neoconfederate preacher/politician/huckster, may have inadvertently saved the life of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez recently and opened the door for lower gasoline prices in black America when he publicly called for Chávez’s assassination.
The 75-year-old Robertson, a television evangelist, said a couple of weeks ago on a broadcast of his “700 Club” program that Chavez is a “dangerous enemy.” He added that killing Chavez would be cheaper than going to war to remove him.
“We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come to exercise that ability,” Robertson said.
His comments caused a firestorm of reaction from U.S. politicians and other public figures who termed Robertson’s act “inappropriate”, “irresponsible” and “incredibly stupid.”
For months, however, the Chávez government had been saying that its intelligences services had been intercepting information about assassination attempts. Back in February, Venezuela Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez even raised the issue at a meeting of the Organization of American States.
“The accusations levied against our government would not bother us in the least if a multitude of facts did not exist that prove that when such statements are made, it's because, sooner or later, the attack will follow,” Rodriguez said. “It is what happened with (Salvador) Allende (in Chile). It is what happened in the Dominican Republic. It is what happened in Guatemala and countless other cases. For the same reason, we cannot dismiss information from our intelligence services concerning the physical liquidation of our president.”
Robertson’s outburst was prompted by accusations Chávez made during an August visit to Cuba to meet with the irrepressible revolutionary Fidel Castro. Chávez reiterated his claim that the U.S. government was likely behind attempts to assassinate him. Castro has survived some 39 known CIA-supported attempts to rub him out. He is probably as good a person as any to give Chávez advice on survival tactics.
In 2002, the Bush administration endorsed an attempted coup against Chávez, but he was restored to power in two days. The Chávez government then triumphed in a 2004 referendum, consolidating the support Chávez first won in his 1998 election to the Venezuelan presidency.
Like most normal black people, I suspected that if a pea-brain right-winger like Robertson was so upset at Chávez that he would deliberately mischaracterize him as a “you know, small-time dictator” and urge the U.S. government to “take him out” on national TV, then Chávez must really be trying to do something good for oppressed and downtrodden people.
In most cases of this sort, standing up for the messed-over folks almost always means defying the existing power structure, too. If you’re effective a tiny bit, they call you crazy. If you’re moderately effective, however, they call you dangerous. And when it becomes clear that you can’t be bought off or otherwise stymied, the power structure seeks to eliminate you.
That’s what I suspected had happened in the Chávez case. So I did a little investigating.
It turns out my hunch was right. It also turns out the situation in Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves in the Western hemisphere and is the world’s fifth largest oil exporter, is potentially much more significant for African-American economic development than we have been led to believe.
The main reason people like Robertson want to get rid of Chávez is that he has openly declared that United States imperialism and manipulation are a threat to the world and that new ways need to be found to help the poor and move Venezuela toward socialism, under which more of the country’s resources will be equitably utilized.
Chávez has also pointed out that he wants to make his government less dependent on the United States, which his currently its largest customer for oil sales. At the end of August, the Chávez government signed a deal with China to jointly develop new oil fields in eastern Venezuela, a development that did not please the U.S.-based oil conglomerates.
Chávez has also been a leading force behind the development of the new South American Community of Nations, which has a goal of creating a free trade zone among its members: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The group is also creating its own television network, Telesur, to broadcast news and information about Latin America from Latin America.
Venezuela and Cuba have also entered into an agreement to swap Cuban medical services for Venezuelan oil.
Among the other key items on Chávez’s agenda is selling gasoline and diesel directly to poor communities in the U.S., according to a report by the Associated Press. The Venezuelan president has already begun negotiations with Jamaica and other Caribbean nations about selling petroleum to them “under favorable terms.”
The state-owned oil company of Venezuela, Petroleos de Venezuela S. A. (PDVSA), already operates 14,000 Citgo gas stations in the U.S. It could very easily begin selling discount-price gasoline in predominantly black communities and, with a little more effort, could start selling some of these gas stations at reasonable prices to black entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations.
That would really make some of Chávez’s enemies even redder around the collar.
On the other hand, if the Chávez government and black leaders from the U.S. got together to make these relationships come to fruition, it would provide yet another interesting link between Venezuela and Africans in the Americas.
An Early Blow for Black Freedom
As fate would have it, Venezuela is the site of what might have been the first black kingdom in the New World. In 1552, 30 years after Spanish colonizers had asserted their control over the territory, a rebellion led by an African known as “El Negro Miguel” resulted in him proclaiming himself king of thousands of enslaved black folk who fled their European masters’ plantations and mines and established dozens of free communities on defensible terrain.
El Negro Miguel’s kingdom was eventually conquered, of course, and it wasn’t until 1854 that slavery was officially abolished in Venezuela. Since then, Venezuela has promoted itself as a place of racial harmony, though 47 percent of its 25 million people live in poverty and most of them are people of color.
Venezuela sits at the southern end of the Caribbean Sea. Roughly two-thirds of its population is mixed with Indian and European blood. Another 10 percent is of African extraction; 3 percent are various Indian groups; and the remaining 20 percent consider themselves to be pure Euro.
Chávez comes from the mestizo majority, but guess who was running the country and guess who was getting the shaft until he came along? Apparently, providing education and health care and instituting land reform that gives acreage to people of color rather than snatching it away from them is cause for alarm in some quarters.
But as Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez has pointed out, his government emphasizes “social justice as a fundamental component of democracy.” He also explains that “democracy in a country like Venezuela, whose concrete reality is one of poverty, depends on giving the large majority of the country the opportunity to participate, that is, the overcoming of poverty becomes the government's first reason for being.”
That kind of real-Christian philosophy won’t win the Chávez government any friends among Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, however. And perhaps more troubling to some of the knee-jerk anti-communists in the United States is the fact that, under Chávez, Venezuela has increased its trade with Cuba and begun forming stronger ties to progressive governments throughout Latin America.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, aka The Devil’s Handmaiden, toured Latin America at the beginning of the year in a deliberate attempt to smear Chávez’s reputation and to induce (bribe) other Latin American leaders to condemn and vilify him.
Her motivations appear to have both professional and personal dimensions. It turns out that the distinguished Dr. Rice has a direct interest in Venezuelan oil through the ChevronTexaco Corporation, which signed an agreement in 1995 to develop Venezuela’s major oil field for a 20 to 30-year period. Rice served on the Chevron board from 1991 to 1993 and a lot of her $10 million personal fortune was made through Chevron stock.
In 1995, Chevron even named its largest oil tanker in her honor, though it renamed the vessel after Rice became National Security Advisor in 2001. Nevertheless, anybody rocking her boat can expect to have a fight on their hands.
Fortunately, Rice’s ploy to destroy Chávez in the eyes of his Latin American peers went nowhere.
So Robertson, aka El Loco Gringo Who Failed in His Bid to Become POTUS (President of the United States), apparently stepped into the breach and called for God-knows-who to take out the democratically-elected Chávez, aka El Indio – not The One, You Know, Small-Time Dictator.
But by calling international attention to this desire on the part of the American establishment to rid itself of Chávez, Robertson may have thwarted any U.S.-instigated assassination attempts planned for the near future.
In the meantime, Venezuela and black America have a window of opportunity in which we can marry our interests and strengthen our respective positions.
Imagine buying cheaper gasoline from black-owned service stations. That would be revolutionary indeed.
Carpe diem, negritos, carpe diem.