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Asunto:[MESHIKO] Hugo Chavez: An Exclusive Interview with Greg Palast
Fecha:Sabado, 23 de Septiembre, 2006  11:29:05 (-0500)
Autor:Red Iberoamericana de Luz <ricardoredluz>

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: dorindamore
Date: 23-sep-2006 1:10
ject: [spanishusa] Re: Hugo Chavez: An Exclusive Intervie
w with Greg Palast
To: Spanish USA , Zapatista Solidarity
Coalition , Az
tlannet News
, BlackBrown
, Central
, C
hicano Park
, Earth U , One
World <1worldcommunication@...>, South Bay
, Worldwide

     Hugo Chavez: An Exclusive Interview with Greg Palast

 > Published by Greg 
 > Septem
ber 21st, 2006 in Articles 
 > by Greg Palast
 > From The Progressive
 > Watch t
he interview in Finding Bolivar's Heir.
 > Small (64kb
 > Large (
256kb Quicktime)
 > R
ead  and
 > the BBC interview

 > You'd think George Bush would get down on his knees
 and kiss Hugo
 > Chavez's behind. Not only has Chavez de
livered cheap oil to the Bronx
 > and other poor communit
ies in the United States. And not only did he
 > offer to
 bring aid to the victims of Katrina. In my interview wit
h the
 > president of Venezuela on March 28, he made Bush
 the following
 > astonishing offer: Chavez would drop th
e price of oil to $50 a barrel,
 > "not too high, a fair 
price," he said -- a third less than the $75 a
 > barrel 
for oil recently posted on the spot market. That would br
 > down the price at the pump by about a buck, from $
3 to $2 a gallon.
 > But our President has basically t
old Chavez to take his cheaper oil
 > and stick it up his
 pipeline. Before I explain why Bush has done so,
 > let 
me explain why Chavez has the power to pull it off -- and
 > method in the seeming madness of his "take-my-oil
-please!" deal.
 > Venezuela, Chavez told me, has more
 oil than Saudi Arabia. A nutty
 > boast? Not by a long s
hot. In fact, his surprising claim comes from a
 > most s
urprising source: the U.S. Department of Energy. In an in
 > report, the DOE estimates that Venezuela has fi
ve times the Saudis'
 > reserves. However, most of Venezu
ela's mega-horde of crude is in the
 > form of "extra-hea
vy" oil -- liquid asphalt -- which is ghastly
 > expensiv
e to pull up and refine. Oil has to sell above $30 a barr
el to
 > make the investment in extra-heavy oil worthwhil
e. A big dip in oil's
 > price -- and, after all, oil cos
t only $18 a barrel six years ago --
 > would bankrupt he
avy-oil investors. Hence Chavez's offer: Drop the
 > pric
e to $50 -- and keep it there. That would guarantee Venez
 > investment in heavy oil.
 > But the ascendan
ce of Venezuela within OPEC necessarily means the
 > decl
ine of the power of the House of Saud. And the Bush famil
 > wouldn't like that one bit. It comes down to "petro-
dollars." When
 > George W. ferried then-Crown Prince (no
w King) Abdullah of Saudi
 > Arabia around the Crawford r
anch in a golf cart it wasn't because
 > America needs Ar
abian oil. The Saudis will always sell us their
 > petrol
eum. What Bush needs is Saudi petro-dollars. Saudi Arabia
 > over the past three decades, kindly recycled the
 cash sucked from the
 > wallets of American SUV owners a
nd sent much of the loot right back to
 > New York to buy
 U.S. Treasury bills and other U.S. assets.
 > The Gul
f potentates understand that in return for lending the U.
 > Treasury the cash to fund George Bush's $2 trillion
 rise in the
 > nation's debt, they receive protection in
 return. They lend us
 > petro-dollars, we lend them the 
82nd Airborne.
 > Chavez would put an end to all that.
 He'll sell us oil relatively
 > cheaply -- but intends t
o keep the petro-dollars in Latin America.
 > Recently, C
havez withdrew $20 billion from the U.S. Federal Reserve

 > and, at the same time, lent or committed a like sum to
 > Ecuador, and other Latin American nations.

 > Chavez, notes The Wall Street Journal, has become 
a "tropical IMF."
 > And indeed, as the Venezuelan presid
ent told me, he wants to abolish
 > the Washington-based 
International Monetary Fund, with its brutal
 > free-mark
et diktats, and replace it with an "International
 > Huma
nitarian Fund," an IHF, or more accurately, an Internatio
nal Hugo
 > Fund. In addition, Chavez wants OPEC to offic
ially recognize Venezuela
 > as the cartel's reserve lead
er, which neither the Saudis nor Bush will
 > take kindly
 > Politically, Venezuela is torn in two. Chavez'
s "Bolivarian
 > Revolution," a close replica of Franklin
 Roosevelt's New Deal -- a
 > progressive income tax, pub
lic works, social security, cheap
 > electricity -- makes
 him wildly popular with the poor. And most
 > Venezuelan
s are poor. His critics, a four-centuries' old white elit
 > unused to sharing oil wealth, portray him as a Cast
ro-hugging anti-Christ.
 > Chavez's government, which 
used to brush off these critics, has turned
 > aggressive
 on them. I challenged Chavez several times over charges

 > brought against Sumate, his main opposition group. The
 two founders of
 > the nongovernmental organization, whi
ch led the recall campaign
 > against Chavez, face eight 
years in prison for taking money from the
 > Bush Adminis
tration and the International Republican [Party]
 > Insti
tute. No nation permits foreign funding of political camp
 > but the charges (no one is in jail) seem like a
 heavy hammer to use on
 > the minor infractions of these
 pathetic gadflies.
 > Bush's reaction to Chavez has b
een a mix of hostility and provocation.
 > Washington sup
ported the coup attempt against Chavez in 2002, and
 > Co
ndoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld have repeatedly denoun
ced him.
 > The revised National Security Strategy of the
 United States of
 > America, released in March, says, "I
n Venezuela, a demagogue awash in
 > oil money is undermi
ning democracy and seeking to destabilize the region."

 > So when the Reverend Pat Robertson, a Bush ally, told
 his faithful in
 > August 2005 that Chavez has to go, it
 was not unreasonable to assume
 > that he was articulati
ng an Administration wish. "If he thinks we're
 > trying 
to assassinate him," Robertson said, "I think that we rea
 > ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot chea
per than starting a
 > war . . . and I don't think any oi
l shipments will stop."
 > There are only two ways to 
defeat the rise of Chavez as the New
 > Abdullah of the A
mericas. First, the unattractive option: Cut the
 > price
 of oil below $30 a barrel. That would make Chavez's crud
 > worthless. Or, option two: Kill him.
 > Q: Your o
pponents are saying that you are beginning a slow-motion

 > dictatorship. Is that what we are seeing?
 > Hugo C
havez: They have been saying that for a long time. When t
 > short of ideas, any excuse will do as a vehicle
 for lies. That is
 > totally false. I would like to invi
te the citizens of Great Britain
 > and the citizens of t
he U.S. and the citizens of the world to come
 > here and
 walk freely through the streets of Venezuela, to talk to

 > anyone they want, to watch television, to read the pa
pers. We are
 > building a true democracy, with human rig
hts for everyone, social
 > rights, education, health car
e, pensions, social security, and jobs.
 > Q: Some of 
your opponents are being charged with the crime of taking

 > money from George Bush. Will you send them to jail?
 > Chavez: It's not up to me to decide that. We have th
e institutions
 > that do that. These people have admitte
d they have received money from
 > the government of the 
United States. It's up to the prosecutors to
 > decide wh
at to do, but the truth is that we can't allow the U.S. t
 > finance the destabilization of our country. What wou
ld happen if we
 > financed somebody in the U.S. to desta
bilize the government of George
 > Bush? They would go to
 prison, certainly.
 > Q: How do you respond to Bush's
 charge that you are destabilizing the
 > region and inte
rfering in the elections of other Latin American countrie
 > Chavez: Mr. Bush is an illegitimate President. I
n Florida, his brother
 > Jeb deleted many black voters f
rom the electoral registers. So this
 > President is the 
result of a fraud. Not only that, he is also
 > currently
 applying a dictatorship in the U.S. People can be put in

 > jail without being charged. They tap phones without c
ourt orders. They
 > check what books people take out of 
public libraries. They arrested
 > Cindy Sheehan because 
of a T-shirt she was wearing demanding the
 > return of t
he troops from Iraq. They abuse blacks and Latinos. And i
 > we are going to talk about meddling in other countri
es, then the U.S.
 > is the champion of meddling in other
 people's affairs. They invaded
 > Guatemala, they overth
rew Salvador Allende, invaded Panama and the
 > Dominican
 Republic. They were involved in the coup d'etat in Argen
 > thirty years ago.
 > Q: Is the U.S. interferin
g in your elections here?
 > Chavez: They have interfe
red for 200 years. They have tried to prevent
 > us from 
winning the elections, they supported the coup d'etat, th
 > gave millions of dollars to the coup plotters, they
 supported the
 > media, newspapers, outlaw movements, mi
litary intervention, and
 > espionage. But here the empir
e is finished, and I believe that before
 > the end of th
is century, it will be finished in the rest of the world.

 > We will see the burial of the empire of the eagle.

 > Q: You don't interfere in the elections of other nati
ons in Latin America?
 > Chavez: Absolutely not. I con
cern myself with Venezuela. However,
 > what's going on n
ow is that some rightwing movements are transforming
 > m
e into a pawn in the domestic politics of their countries
, by making
 > statements that are groundless. About cand
idates like Morales [of
 > Bolivia], for example. They sa
id I financed the candidacy of President
 > Lula [of Braz
il], which is totally false. They said I financed the
candidacy of Kirchner [of Argentina], which is totally fa
lse. In
 > Mexico, recently, the rightwing party has used
 my image for its own
 > profit. What's happened is that 
in Latin America there is a turn to
 > the left. Latin Am
ericans have gotten tired of the Washington
 > consensus 
-- a neoliberalism that has aggravated misery and poverty
 > Q: You have spent millions of dollars of your nat
ion's oil wealth
 > throughout Latin America. Are you rea
lly helping these other nations
 > or are you simply buyi
ng political support for your regime?
 > Chavez: We ar
e brothers and sisters. That's one of the reasons for the

 > wrath of the empire. You know that Venezuela has the 
biggest oil
 > reserves in the world. And the biggest gas
 reserves in this
 > hemisphere, the eighth in the world.
 Up until seven years ago,
 > Venezuela was a U.S. oil co
lony. All of our oil was going up to the
 > north, and th
e gas was being used by the U.S. and not by us. Now we
 are diversifying. Our oil is helping the poor. We are se
lling to the
 > Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, some Cen
tral American countries,
 > Uruguay, Argentina.
 > Q: 
And the Bronx?
 > Chavez: In the Bronx it is a donatio
n. In all the cases I just
 > mentioned before, it is tra
de. However, it's not free trade, just fair
 > commerce. 
We also have an international humanitarian fund as a resu
 > of oil revenues.
 > Q: Why did George Bush turn 
down your help for New Orleans after the
 > hurricane?

 > Chavez: You should ask him, but from the very beginni
ng of the
 > terrible disaster of Katrina, our people in 
the U.S., like the
 > president of CITGO, went to New Orl
eans to rescue people. We were in
 > close contact by pho
ne with Jesse Jackson. We hired buses. We got food
 > and
 water. We tried to protect them; they are our brothers a
 > sisters. Doesn't matter if they are African, Asian,
 Cuban, whatever.
 > Q: Are you replacing the World Ba
nk and the International Monetary
 > Fund as "Daddy Big B
 > Chavez: I do wish that the IMF and the World
 Bank would disappear soon.
 > Q: And it would be the 
Bank of Hugo?
 > Chavez: No. The International Humanit
arian Bank. We are just creating
 > an alternative way to
 conduct financial exchange. It is based on
 > cooperatio
n. For example, we send oil to Uruguay for their refinery

 > and they are paying us with cows.
 > Q: Milk for o
 > Chavez: That's right. Milk for oil. The Argenti
neans also pay us with
 > cows. And they give us medical 
equipment to combat cancer. It's a
 > transfer of technol
ogy. We also exchange oil for software technology.
 > Uru
guay is one of the biggest producers of software. We are 
 > with the neoliberal model. We do not believe 
in free trade. We believe
 > in fair trade and exchange, 
not competition but cooperation. I'm not
 > giving away o
il for free. Just using oil, first to benefit our people,

 > to relieve poverty. For a hundred years we have been 
one of the
 > largest oil-producing countries in the worl
d but with a 60 percent
 > poverty rate and now we are ca
nceling the historical debt.
 > Q: Speaking of the fre
e market, you've demanded back taxes from U.S.
 > oil com
panies. You have eliminated contracts for North American,

 > British, and European oil companies. Are you trying t
o slice out the
 > British and American oil companies fro
m Venezuela?
 > Chavez: No, we don't want them to go, 
and I don't think they want to
 > leave the country, eith
er. We need each other. It's simply that we
 > have recov
ered our oil sovereignty. They didn't pay taxes. They did
 > pay royalties. They didn't give an account of thei
r actions to the
 > government. They had more land than h
ad previously been established in
 > the contracts. They 
didn't comply with the agreed technology exchange.
 > The
y polluted the environment and didn't pay anything toward
s the
 > cleanup. They now have to comply with the law.
 > Q: You've said that you imagine the price of oil ris
ing to $100
 > dollars per barrel. Are you going to use y
our new oil wealth to
 > squeeze the planet?
 > Chavez
: No, no. We have no intention of squeezing anyone. Now, 
we have
 > been squeezed and very hard. Five hundred year
s of squeezing us and
 > stifling us, the people of the S
outh. I do believe that demand is
 > increasing and suppl
y is dropping and the large reservoirs are running
 > out
. But it's not our fault. In the future, there must be an
 > between the large consumers and the large p
 > Q: What happens when the oil money runs o
ut, what happens when the
 > price of oil falls as it alw
ays does? Will the
 > Bolivarian revolution of Hugo Chave
z simply collapse because there's
 > no money to pay for 
the big free ride?
 > Chavez: I don't think it will co
llapse, in the unlikely case of oil
 > running out today.
 The revolution will survive. It does not rely
 > solely 
on oil for its survival. There is a national will, there 
is a
 > national idea, a national project. However, we ar
e today implementing
 > a strategic program called the Oi
l Sowing Plan: using oil wealth so
 > Venezuela can becom
e an agricultural country, a tourist destination,
 > an i
ndustrialized country with a diversified economy. We are 
 > billions of dollars in the infrastructure: p
ower generators using
 > thermal energy, a large railway,
 roads, highways, new towns, new
 > universities, new sch
ools, recuperating land, building tractors, and
 > giving
 loans to farmers. One day we won't have any more oil, bu
t that
 > will be in the twenty-second century. Venezuela
 has oil for another
 > 200 years.
 > Q: But the revol
ution can come to an end if there's another coup and
 > i
t succeeds. Do you believe Bush is still trying to overth
row your
 > government?
 > Chavez: He would like to, b
ut what you want is one thing, and what you
 > cannot rea
lly obtain is another.
 > *****
 > Greg Palast is the 
author of the just-released New York Times
 > bestseller,
 "ARMED MADHOUSE: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?
 > , C
 > Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal '08, No Ch
ild's Behind Left and
 > other Dispatches from the Front 
Lines of the Class War" from which
 > this is adapted. Go
 > .

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