The US trains its guns on Latin America once more| Venezuela in crisis?

Bulatlat perspective

Part 1 of 2

Part 2: Venezuela in crisis?

bu-op-icons-benjieMuch has been written about America’s bombing and eventual occupation of Iraq, as well as its occupation of Afghanistan. Recently, the US announced its pivot to Asia, which would translate into deploying 60 percent of its naval vessels and troops overseas to the region. For a while, Central and South American countries, popularly called Latin America, were almost left on their own. This somehow opened the doors for the election of progressives in government such as Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Dilma Vana Rousseff of Brazil, among others.

It would be remembered that during the 70s and 80s, the US, in an effort to protect its backyard against the rise of the Left, deposed left-leaning heads of state such as Salvador Allende of Chile and installed and propped up dictators in the region such as Augusto Pinochet of Chile, Jorge Rafael Videla of Argentina, General Carlos Humberto Romero of El Salvador, Hugo Banzer of Bolivia, the Somozas of Nicaragua, among others. Thousands of activists disappeared, became victims of death squads, or were imprisoned.

However, by the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s when George H.W. Bush, who owns an oil company, rose to power, the US trained its guns on oil-rich Middle East. It was a time when erstwhile socialist countries had began dismantling its socialist structures and policies and the US was in need of an enemy to justify its ever-increasing military budget. This supposed enemy took the form of “Islamic militancy and terrorism” in the Al-Queda. Thus began US efforts to corner the richest sources of oil in the region.

Today, while tens of thousands of US troops and “defense contractors” are still in Afghanistan and Iraq, and US Pres. Barack Obama has announced plans to pivot to Asia, the US could not help but train its sights on Venezuela.

Venezuela is the fifth largest oil exporting country in the world, with the largest proven oil reserves at an estimated 296.5 billion barrels (20% of global reserves) as of 2012. It is the biggest headache to the US in the region, especially when Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer last year, was elected president. Chavez, who the US tried to depose through sponsoring a coup d’ etat in 2002, was an advocate of Bolivarianism, which aims for Latin American integration, and what he calls as Socialism of the 21st century. He also openly criticized and challenged US aggression overseas and tightened government control over the operations and revenues of the state oil company. Chavez exerted efforts to galvanize Latin American unity to counter US efforts to control the politics, trade, investments, and resources in the region. The US did succeed in deposing Chavez during the April 11, 2002 coup, which installed wealthy businessman Pedro Carmona. But the mass protests that followed caused the resignation of Carmona and the reinstallation of Chavez.

The hallmark of the Chavez presidency from 1999 to 2013 was his economic and social policies. Right after his election, the Chavez government supported the formation of 100,000 state-owned cooperatives and 30,000 communal councils. To solve the problem of malnutrition, Chavez imposed a price ceiling on food products and supported domestic production. Between 1998 to 2006, malnutrition-related deaths went down by 50%.

Government spending on education was increased from 3.14 % of GDP during the Caldera government in 1998 to 5.1 % in 2006 to the current level of 6.9 % of GDP. (The Philippines spends a mere 2.3 % of GDP on education.) As a result, today 95.5% of adults and 98.5% of youth in Venezuela are literate and 95% of children complete their primary school.

Likewise, government spending on health increased from 1.6% of GDP in 2000 to 7.7% in 2006.

Poverty decreased from 50% in 1998 to 25% in 2012, according to World Bank estimates. Inequality has also declined, as evidenced by the Gini Index, which fell from 0.49 in 1998 to 0.39 in 2011, one of the lowest rates in the region.

The minimum wage has increased annually by 10 – 20 percent. The unemployment rate hovered between a high 18% in 1999 to 8.2 in 2011.

Thus, during the presidential election of July 2000, Chavez won with 59.76% of the votes. During the December 2006 elections, he got 64% of the votes. When Chavez died in 2013, the US saw the opportunity for another attempt at “regime change.”

When Chavez died, his vice president Nicolas Maduro Moros took over as interim president until the latter won in a special election in April 2013. President Maduro, a former bus driver and trade union leader, was elected to the National Assembly in 2000 before serving in various posts in the Chavez government. His government is now being confronted by intensified attacks and demonstrations being led by the opposition.

What then is the basis for the mass protests happening in Venezuela now? Could it be purely US-instigated? That will be the subject of the next analysis. (

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  1. Mr. OLIVEROS, instead of your constant berating of the USA perhaps you should give it thanks. For without the USA you would have little to write about. The NPA bombings, death squads, and corruption in your country may not sel as many newspapers.

  2. You said great things about the government in Venezuela and this is the same history we get from those that support the Socialist Communist regimens as Cuba and Venezuela. There is no doubt that the education has go up in Venezuela and there is less people under the poverty line but, what good does that do when there are many other things that the same government is guilty of destroying? What good is education when the government of Venezuela has destroyed their own economy by taking land and property away from private entities, making other investors in the world afraid to invest in Venezuela? You mention the good things but forgot this. Venezuela is among the most violent places on Earth. In Venezuela, a person is murdered every 21 minutes.[1] Crimes have been so prevalent in Venezuela that the government no longer produces crime data.[2] Class tension has long been a part of life in the South American country, where armed robberies, carjackings and kidnappings are frequent. In 2013, the homicide rate was approximately 79 per 100,000, one of the world’s highest, having quadrupled in the past 15 years with over 200,000 murdered.[3] The capital Caracas has one of the greatest homicide rates of any large city in the world, with 122 homicides per 100,000 residents.[4] In 2008, polls indicated that crime was the number one concern of voters. Venezuela may have education and less poverty but what good is this when there is no basic things like toilet paper, coffee, corn, and many basic things. How great is talking this bunch of non-sense against the United States when more countries in the whole world benefit more than suffer because of the United States. Is great to talk about how bad the US is that they invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and so many people suffer from this and in Iraq it was just because the oil and how the US government lied about the weapons of mass destructions. I for one are very glad that the main object of the Iraq war, which by the way was to remove (death or alive) a brutal assassin of his own people, Mr. Saddan Hussein. We make no excuses that the US hated Saddan Hussein more than anything in the world after he attacked and killed many men, women and children in his country and in Kuwait. After Kuwait, Saddan agreed to a cease fire in exchange for not getting his military and government destroyed by the US and to allowing International Inspections, Saddan decided to ignore this agreement and continuously played games with the world and the inspectors until the US had enough and did what they should had done back in the first Golf War. Destroy his military and remove him from power. Iraq oil is secondary to the real reason for invading Iraq. You try to picture that the US is somehow this evil empire that goes around training his guns, destroying countries and taking everything when in fact more money, a lot more money is given to these countries than what is taken from them. In Afghanistan, the fact that the country was under siege from a group of outsiders called the Taliban, which refused to give up Osama Bin Laden after Sept 11, 2001 was more than reason to go after them and destroy them. You may say, yes the Taliban still up and kicking, but that is the new Taliban and not the one back in 2001 that kept Osama Bin Laden safe. Those Taliban are long gone, death or no longer in power. The new Taliban can take over Afghanistan if their people dont fight for themselves and dont allow the US to remain and protect them after 2014. This new Taliban better behave and dont cause any problems to the US with new terrorist training camps or in a few years when the US get another Presidents with real power (Obama can’t run for President again) the US will return to Afghanistan and killed all those in the the new Taliban, plane and simple. You in the left can continue writing and pleasing your followers in the left with your history about how evil the US is. Just be assure that while the US may have contributed “unintentionally” to grief and death in other countries, there are plenty people in the world and in the US that are glad and happy about US intervention. Just ask the Europeans after World War 2 and the South Koreans that enjoy freedom and a much, much better country than the North, courtesy of the Red, White and Blue, US. When you think again how bad the US is, just think how would the world would be without the US. If the US is such a bad country, how come a lot of people still want to come and live in the US. US makes no excuses about their interests and the Capitalism way of life. It is not perfect, but by far, by far way much better than any other system and country in the wold. Of course, the left will always believe what the left wants to believe and the right will do the same. Since you wrote your side of the history, dont forget that there is always 2 sides to every story.

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