U.S. Native Americans Support Venezuela

U.S. Native Americans Lead Opposition to
Designation of Venezuela as Terrorist Nation

by Gale Courey Toensing
April 10th 2008


Indian Country Today INDIAN ISLAND, Maine - Members of the Penobscot Indian Nation are spearheading opposition to a congressional resolution that would designate Venezuela as a state sponsor of terrorism

James Sappier, former Penobscot Indian Nation chief, and Erlene Paul, the head of Penobscot's Human Services Department, said House Resolution 1049 threatens not only a program in which the South American country has provided free heating oil to hundreds of American Indian and low-income communities for the past three winters, but would also jeopardize the good relationships tribal members have developed with Venezuelans and could impact oil imports for the entire U.S.

Sappier said he has alerted the tribes involved to contact their congressional representatives to vote against the resolution.

"It's the least we can do. Why would Congress do this? The program has provided a donation to the U.S. low-income and poor people of almost a billion dollars over the years when domestic oil companies did nothing.

"We're worried sick that we're going to lose the program because of this kind of frivolous attitude of some congressmen. But it wouldn't be just the tribes that would be affected; it would be everyone. If you think your oil prices are high now, imagine what they'd be if we stopped getting oil from Venezuela - that's 14 to 16 percent of our imports," Sappier said.

Venezuela provides the U.S. with about 1.4 million barrels of crude oil per day.

The resolution was introduced March 13 by Florida Republican Reps. Connie Mack and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. It asks the State Department to place Venezuela on a list of countries that provide support to terrorist organizations, a designation that would impose a number of sanctions on Venezuela and U.S. companies and individuals that do business there. Other countries on the list are North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Sudan.

Seven other Republicans representing Southern states co-sponsored the resolution.

The resolution puts forth a number of unsubstantiated allegations first published in a New York Times front-page story March 30 - and repeated in a number of mainstream media outlets since then - that claimed laptops captured from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia contain potentially "smoking gun" evidence tying Venezuela's government to the Colombian guerilla group. FARC, a self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist group that formed in the 1960s to represent poor rural Colombia's against the wealthier classes, is designated a terrorist group by the U.S., Europe and Colombia.The resolution is "really a fabrication," Sappier said. "One of the elements we've been interested in is that none of the states who are acting to sanction Venezuela participated in the heating oil program or got to know the Venezuelans. I don't know what their motivation is

>Maine's Wabanaki tribes - the Penobscot, the Passamaquoddy, the Maliseet and the Micmac - were the first to enter into the heating oil agreement with Venezuela in 2005. Sappier was a co-signatory to the initial document and Paul administered the program for the entire state.

The program has since expanded to provide 100 million gallons a year of free heating oil to more than 200 tribes and Alaska Natives, homeless shelters and low-income families. The tribes received 25 percent of the heating oil distributed.

Mack links placing Venezuela on the terrorist list with the passage of a free trade agreement with Colombia in a press release he issued March 13.

"Naming Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism and passing the Colombia Free Trade Agreement in Congress will strengthen the stability of the Andean region and help in the effort to preserve freedom, security and prosperity for the Latin American people. I urge my colleagues to support this important resolution," Mack said.

The Bush administration signed the FTA with Colombia in November 2006, but it has yet to be approved by Congress and the Senate. Some legislators oppose the FTA because of Colombia's horrific record under President Alvaro Uribe's regime of human rights violations that have been verified by a U.N.-sponsored mission and other human rights agencies. Uribe is strongly supported by the Bush administration.

Mack has gained a reputation in Congress as one of Hugo Chavez's strongest critics, referring to the democratically elected Venezuelan president as "a strongman."

But the resolution goes beyond unsubstantiated allegations about Venezuela's involvement with FARC. It also condemns Chavez for his relationship with Iran, quoting a U.S. Annual Threat Assessment report of Venezuela's ''expressed willingness to cooperate with [Iran] on nuclear energy."

The quote was "cherry-picked," the Venezuelan government said in a detailed response to the allegations at www.embavenez-us.org, and excluded investigators' statement that they "are not aware of any significant developments as a result of these discussions."

"It is worth stating that though no significant developments on nuclear energy have been produced, every country has the sovereign right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," the embassy said.

Mack also cited as evidence of Venezuela's worthiness to be on the terrorist list its agreements with Iran on military cooperation, shared intelligence, financial cooperation, civilian airline flights, and "initiating cultural exchanges." Presented with some of the objections to the resolution, Mack issued the following statement to Indian Country Today: "There is no doubt that Hugo Chavez supports the FARC, an internationally-recognized terrorist organization, with money, resources, and safe passage within his country's borders. Chavez is a clear and present danger to all those who cherish peace, freedom and security. Should the Administration put Venezuela in its rightful place as a state sponsor of terror, we would hope others would step in and provide this type of [oil] assistance to those who need it. But that is why I urged President Bush in a letter dated March 6 to have proactive policies in place to protect our national security interest and increase the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.'

Venezuelan ambassador: Terrorist resolution has 'no basis in reality'

An interview with His Excellency Bernardo Alvarez Herrera, Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, on House Resolution 1049.

Indian Country Today: It's hard to imagine anyone really believes Venezuela is a state sponsor of terrorism. What do you think is behind this resolution?

Bernardo Alvarez Herrera: This is not the first time there's been an effort to put Venezuela on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. It's always been a threat; sometimes it reflects the domestic policies of the U.S. and sometimes it expresses the degree of hostility which the administration has had with Venezuela over the years of the Bush administration. Basically, it's a way to undermine the process of change that's going on in Venezuela and also to contribute to this matrix in the public opinion that we have rogue countries, rogue states, in the hemisphere.

ICT: Congressman Connie Mack links naming Venezuela as a terrorist state to passing the free trade agreement with Colombia. How does the FTA come into play?

Alvarez: It's also not the first time they've done that. I remember when they were about to pass the FTA in Central America. There was a famous article by Donald Rumsfeld, who was Defense Secretary at that time, saying the only way to counteract President Chavez was to approve the FTA in Central America. It's always the same story - when there's no way of justifying things, you always appeal to the idea of ''national interests.'' I think they've been trying even in Congress to use that argument, telling people if you oppose the FTA you're sitting with the terrorists.I want to make something very clear. We don't have anything to do with trade agreements between the U.S. and Colombia or the U.S. and other governments in the hemisphere. We have our own view of how we should go. We have a definite scheme of integration, but you can do all the research you want and you will find nothing about Venezuela regarding the FTAs between Latin American countries and the U.S. This is not our business. This is the sovereign right of the countries, but it is being used here, and it's clear that for the Bush administration the approval of the Colombia FTA has been like an emblematic objective.

ICT: What does that mean?

Alvarez: There was a speech by President Bush recently where he suggested in a way that the way to counteract the ''threat'' of Venezuela, etc., is to approve the FTA with what he called ''the best U.S. ally in the hemisphere'' - which is Colombia.

But don't forget - one thing is the resolution in Congress to put Venezuela on the list; but the other thing is the executive decision. The U.S. administration has been saying they have a team of lawyers studying whether Venezuela should go on this list. This is a decision they will likely make in May.

ICT: Do you think the resolution will pass in Congress?

Alvarez: There are few people who really believe that Venezuela is a terrorist country. I don't think that's going to fly in Congress, but the administration does have their lawyers studying this executive decision.

The funny thing is trade between the U.S. and Venezuela has grown from $29 billion in 2004 to $50 billion in 2007. We're the second biggest trading partner to the U.S. in the hemisphere [after Canada]. We have an incredible commercial relationship - we have the heating oil program, we have 67 players in the major leagues, 15 flights daily from Florida to Caracas. It's amazing that [the resolution] is coming from [three representatives in] Florida.

ICT: Is it a partisan issue? They're all Republicans.

Alvarez: These people want to put together a more ideological neoconservative approach and it's basically the Cold War mentality. If you read the resolution, it's the same narrative from the Cold War with lots of contradictions.

ICT: What will happen if the resolution passes or there's an executive decision to place Venezuela on the terrorist list?

Alvarez: We are ready for everything. This is a decision of the U.S. government, the U.S. companies. I think they have to understand the consequences of such a decision. I think there will be unanimous rejection from the hemisphere. I think there will be incredible and very difficult economic effects. It would be bringing that to a hemisphere that has been moving toward peace, democracy and social change - because as you know, there is a very complex situation in the Andean countries - and that will have a reaction from all the countries in Latin America.

But it will be a legacy, because it's very easy to put a country on the terrorist list, but how easy is it to take it off? And it will be a legacy that will create a lot of problems for the U.S.

ICT: What problems?

Alvarez: I want to be clear: We are a country with dignity. We do what we think we should do. We have relationships with countries all over the world. We participate freely everywhere and no one is accusing us of anything except the U.S. government. We have made our positions and we're ready to work with the world.

So, we're not begging the U.S. not to do this to us. This is a problem of the U.S. We haven't done anything to harm that relationship. I think people in the U.S. should sit down and think about this and evaluate the consequences of this.

ICT: What would happen to U.S. oil imports from Venezuela?

Alvarez: I don't know, but do you think this is a time to play with that? Do you think we can keep the heating oil program for the indigenous people of the U.S. if the U.S. puts us on a terrorist list? Imagine; put yourself in the role of Venezuela. What are we going to do? We don't know yet, but of course something is going to change. You can take that for granted. Are Venezuelans going to sit down and say, ''Sorry, U.S., we'll behave better in the future''? It's clear to everybody that this is a political decision. It has no basis in reality, none at all.

Original Source: http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096416973

Replacing Shantytowns With Real Communes

Chavez Announces $3 Billion for Venezuela’s “Energy” Revolution

by Chris Carlson

March 31, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez approved funds and announced new plans for an "energy" revolution on his weekly talk show Aló Presidente yesterday. The president inaugurated a new "socialist" community of houses built from oil derivatives, and announced that Venezuela would be a major producer of oil derivatives such as fertilizers and plastics by the year 2013.

Broadcasting from the central state of Carabobo, President Chavez toured a new community of 459 houses made of Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic material produced from petroleum. Venezuela's state-owned petrochemical industry produces the PVC from the by-products of the oil industry, making it cheaper than traditional building materials.

The first of its kind, the community is entirely made up of houses from the Venezuelan state company Petrocasa, which manufactures the plastic forms to be filled with concrete. Venezuela plans to construct these "socialist" communities around the country, and around 60,000 houses of this kind per year.

"This is the first Petrocasa community that we have inaugurated, but we are going to fill Venezuela with these houses," Chavez said.

The new housing program is only one part of what President Chavez calls the "energy" revolution, a program to develop various industries for the processing of raw materials, such as the petrochemical industry.Chavez announced that the Venezuelan government will invest around $20 billion over the next six years in the development of 52 industrial projects, and approved a total of $2.96 billion to be invested this year. The president emphasized that under previous governments these kinds of investments were not possible.

"Before, to make this kind of investment, they had to call the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank, or turn the country over to international investors. Not now, because we have created our own development funds," he said.

The investments will come from Venezuela's national development fund Fonden, which, as Chavez noted, now has around $35 billion dollars available for investment in the country's development. The national development fund is fed by a portion of state income diverted from the nation's international reserves.

Chavez emphasized that many of the new industrial projects will be placed in the southern region of the country to give economic development to poorer, underdeveloped areas. The government also estimates that more than 600,000 new jobs will be created as a direct result of the program.

The president talked by satellite to leaders from a nearby community where another 700 of the new houses are being constructed, but he insisted that the government speed up the construction of new housing, and proposed a new tax on oil profits to pay for it."We have to increase the pace of replacing shantytowns with real communes, and communities," said Chavez, "where the people can live fully, with the highest sum of happiness."

Chavez also talked by satellite to Food Minister Felix Osorio for the inauguration of a new "Mercal," the government-subsidized food markets. He reiterated that Venezuela is working to become self-sufficient in its food supply, and thanked the governments of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay for providing new technology needed to install factories in Venezuela for the production of foodstuffs.

He added that Venezuela will soon be self-sufficient in food production, but until enough food can be produced domestically, they will continue to import food from their neighbors.

"We are working on projects to produce all the chicken that we consume. But, meanwhile, since our national production isn't enough, we are bringing the best production from Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, and other countries," Chavez said.

The Venezuelan president also insisted that the United States government was carrying out plans to create food shortages in the country in order to destabilize his government. He made reference to the previous cases of Nicaragua and Cuba, where the US government blocked food imports with the intention of destabilizing their governments.

"When Bush talks about food shortages, he's not talking about the reality, but rather his desires. But I guarantee that we are going to defeat him, because now the people of Venezuela are better fed; and not only with food, but with health, housing, work, and industry," he said.

Source URL: http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/

Venezuela Responds to World Food Crisis

Programs provide land, aid to working farmers

March 18, 2008
By John Riddell and Suzanne Weiss

Suzanne and John are members of the Venezuela We Are With You Coalition. The following are major portions of a presentation they made to members of the National Farmers Union in Grey County, Ontario, March 10, 2007.

The people of Venezuela are today campaigning to rebuild a devastated family farm economy. They have more problems than solutions, but still are making significant progress.

Venezuela is an oil-rich country. But that doesn’t mean that Venezuelans are rich: in poor countries, oil brings misfortune. The so-called free market ensured that oil exports were balanced by a flood of cheap imports that stunted Venezuelan manufacturing and devastated its agriculture.

So despite the oil, Venezuela remained poor – its income per person is about one-fifth of Canada’s. And a rich minority gets most of it; 65% live in desperate poverty. Over half, unable to get jobs, scrape by in what is called the “informal economy.”

For ‘holistic rural development’

When Hugo Chávez was elected as Venezuela’s president in 1998, only a fraction of Venezuela’s once flourishing farming sector was left. There were fewer than 300,000 farm families, and many of them were doing little farming. Much of its richest farmland was no longer utilized. Much was being held idle in huge estates.

Agriculture made up only 6% of national production – extremely low for a country so rich in farming potential and so poor in industrial development. Three-quarters of Venezuela’s food was imported.

Soon after the election, the Venezuelan people adopted a new constitution that addressed this problem in terms not just of raising farm production but of rebuilding rural communities. It declares:

“The state will promote conditions for holistic rural development guaranteeing the farming population an adequate level of wellbeing, as well as their incorporation into national development.”

The government stated in 2004 that farming is “the basic foundation for the reservation of a culture” and of “a way of life.”(“ALBA and Food Security,” Bancoex, February 5)

It is government policy to promote family farming as the best way to achieve this cultural goal and as the most efficient form of agriculture.

In Venezuela, 5% of landowners hold three-quarters of the land. The constitution deplores this situation, declaring that “the predominance of large estates is contrary to the national interest.” President Chávez explains this with a biblical quotation from the prophet Isaiah: “Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, tell there be no room, and ye be made to dwell alone in the midst of the land.As Venezuela sees it, reliance on food imports endangers the security of its food supply. Venezuelan farmers cannot compete with highly subsidized U.S. exports, and with the big lead that U.S. agriculture has developed in technology and infrastructure, but attempts to protect producers are denounced as attacks on “free trade.”

Meanwhile, the predatory tactics of a handful of corporate giants are making farmers “more and more dependent on the purchase of expensive inputs of ransnational companies.” (Bancoex)

Land reform

The heart of Venezuela’s agricultural program is a land reform that aims to distribute idle land to small farmers or farming cooperatives, using both state-owned land and expropriated portions of private estates with compensation.

The reform is moderate, leaving untouched large estates that are in production. Yet it has led to a wave of violence in the countryside. Assassins in the pay of large landowners have killed almost 200 farm activists. The reform has also met with obstruction from government bureaucrats, judges, and police.

Farmers, who face lawless, chaotic conditions in the countryside, receive weak legal and police support. Infrastructure is lacking – for example, the rural road system is very poor, so it is hard to market products. State officials appointed under the old regime are often unhelpful.

Nonetheless, by 2004, 125,000 families had received inalienable title to four million acres – often land they were already cultivating – and there’s been much progress since.

Many of the new farms are independent family enterprises; others are cooperatives, and there’s a full-time training program for those who are joining or forming new co-ops. Producer co-ops are mostly small and often family-based. There are also co-ops that process or transport food.

Close to $1 billion a year has been invested in agricultural development. Low-interest loans have been provided to small farmers. And food production has increased in each of the last three years – 12% in all.Meanwhile, the government has moved to counter hunger among the poor. It slapped price controls on basic foods. A new network of 14,000 state-run groceries stores, called Mercal, provides cut-rate food in poor districts, and another network of 6,000community-run kitchens, using donated space and labour, provides free meals each day to a million of Venezuela’s neediest.

A visit with Venezuelan farmers

While we were in Venezuela in November and December, we met residents of the town of Libertador, in the state of Caribobo, who had taken up farming on idle land.

We met Maria Morillo, president of a communal government formed by about 200 farm families living in a hill district called Mont Vernont. She told a dramatic story. In the early days of the Bolivarian government, she and her neighbours had occupied an idle farm, refused to accept the landlord’s eviction order, fought off an armed attack by his thugs (two farmers were wounded), and finally won title under the land reform law.

Mont Vernont farmers set up communal councils in each of the area’s 14 hamlets, which in Venezuela have authority to decide on and administrate local improvements. They worked to bring in health, electricity, schooling, and other services.

Mont Vernont is famous in Liberator for the success of its first electrification project. The farmers got funds to wire up one of their hamlets. By working some angles and contributing some free labour, they managed to stretch the money to cover electrifying not one but three hamlets. Such community control means cheap government..

As president, Maria visits the 14 communities to check on progress. She goes on foot and can reach three hamlets in a day. In these isolated rural communities, everything cries out for action. We reached another mountain farming community, Las Vegas del Torrito, by the worst road we’ve ever seen. At one point it dived into a gully and splashed across a stream, obviously passable only in dry weather and only by a truck or four-wheel-drive. Garbage was burning in piles by the side of the road.There are 23 farm families in Las Vegas. The communal council decided to put human needs before issues such as roads and garbage. Their first project was a community building—a classroom, meeting room, and consulting area for a visiting Cuban doctor. A school is under construction. They have council assemblies every two weeks with attendance of between 40 and 100.

Bureaucratic obstruction

We also found in Libertador several examples of the obstruction farmers face from a conservative state bureaucracy.

There are small hog raising operations in the municipality, which generate manure that threatens local water supplies. The local government developed a solution: septic tanks that would eliminate pollution and odor while generating gas that can be burned for cooking. But the project was quashed by the ministry of the environment, on the grounds of zoning regulations.

There had been other incidents of this sort, like a ministry ban against construction of ponds where small farmers could raise trout.

What explanations do the ministry provide? “None whatsoever,” says Libertador mayor Argenis Loreto. “Just as we always say: this bureaucracy is eating us alive… We can’t change things with this type of state…. I’d like to dissolve the municipal administration and create a confederation of community governments.”

Battling shortages

During our visit, many basic food items were in short supply, especially in
the Mercal stores. The shortages were causing discontent.Partly, this reflects the success of efforts to improve living standards of working people. Venezuela’s poor now have more money in hand (more than double, by one estimate), and they are buying food at subsidized prices. They are eating better. Demand for milk has risen 50% in eight years. By another measure, demand for food rose by more than a third in three years.

Corruption is also a factor. Some subsidized food was being diverted from the Mercals and sold privately.

Market forces make matters worse. Scare tactics by the right-wing media have encouraged panic buying. Importers brought in too little food. Distributors resisted price controls by hoarding. Large amounts of food – often subsidized food – were being smuggled out of the country.

Public exasperation was increased by the fact that these problems were all foreseeable.

In recent months, the government has responded decisively. Price controls and import restrictions have been eased. Funds have been allocated to reinvigorate and expand the Mercal chain. Mercal stores have been placed under community control. Most importantly, a large state-owned food distributor has been established to import food on a massive scale for the Mercal network.

World food crisis

President Chávez believes that the food shortages in Venezuela are also symptoms of a looming crisis of supply on a world scale. He recently quoted an article from Canada’s National Post (January 7, 2008), reporting a speech by a Bank of Montreal investment expert. “A new crisis is emerging, a global food catastrophe,” the expert said. Raw food prices are up 22% in a year. Corn prices are up 44%. The U.S. produces more than half the world’s corn, and its exports are expected to shut off in three years.

Two dozen companies control world food supplies, says the bank’s expert.

Chávez identifies three causes of world food shortage, all of them hard to reverse.

An increase in world demand, particularly for meat and dairy.

A decline in yields, caused by global warming. “George Bush’s crazy plan to use food to make gasoline.”

Massive investment

The answer? In Chávez’s words, “With the grace of God, we will make Venezuela a powerhouse of food production.” Venezuela aims to increase cattle herds 50% in four years; to increase food production 2½ times over. The pace of government investment in agriculture has been stepped up greatly.

Many new socially owned food processing plants are being opened under community control. For example, on January 10, 2008, Chávez opened a milk processing centre, one of the largest in Latin America, in the state of Zulia. The centre’s history is typical of many of these projects. It began 47 years ago and was government-owned until 1995. Then it was then sold to an Italian firm, Parmalat, which ran it into the ground. The plant lay idle until the government repurchased it last year.

Zulia is an important cattle-raising area, and the plant will help local dairy farmers market their product. But it takes more than a single plant to create a healthy environment for farming. Alongside the milk plant, Chávez announced an array of measures for Zulia’s farmers:

A centre for genetic support of livestock herds.

A meatpacking plant.

A branch of the government’s Agrarian Bank, providing low-interest loans to farmers. The rebuilding of 226 kilometers of rural roads.

Creating of a rural planning district, which will implement an integrated plan for supply of electricity, water, schools, health, security, and other services.

Such socially owned processing plants can fit into a farm marketing system that cuts out the profiteering private food monopolies. Small farmers get preference in sales to the socially owned processing plants, whose product can be passed on to the state distributor, and then to the Mercal community grocery, and finally to the consumer.

Venezuela’s agricultural efforts are also expressed internationally through its alliance with other countries that seek a path independent of U.S. control – an alliance called ALBA (Spanish for “dawn”). One result of this cooperation that we saw is a large vegetable garden in downtown Caracas – a demonstration site that was established with help from Cuba.

A massive challenge

Farmers in Venezuela, as in Canada, are aging. The young generation is mostly in the cities and has mostly lost touch with its farming roots. Venezuela needs to persuade tens of thousands of young people to return to the land. How will this be possible?

It will take more than economic support. For farming to flourish, it needs a rich rural culture. But this is Venezuela, where farmers cannot easily get a truck or tractor, let alone satellite TV and Internet. How can such needs be met in a poor country, with urgent problems on every side crying out for solution?

What’s more, the country is locked in conflict and threatened with attack from abroad, and the very survival of the social experiment led by Chávez is in question. Farmers cannot always count on the sympathy of government bureaucrats or police. And Zulia, where Chávez opened the milk processing plant, is often hit by right-wing violence initiated by paramilitary gangs that cross the border from neighboring Colombia.

So it won’t be surprising if Venezuela finds it difficult to achieve the high goals it has set for the expansion of food production. But its people deserve credit for setting the right tasks and tackling them with energy.

Support for small-scale farmers and rebuilding of family farming is an urgent priority worldwide. In this struggle, farmers in Canada share a common interest with the popular movement led by Hugo Chávez and with Venezuelan farmers.

Venezuela wins against Exxon/Mobil Corporation

British Judge Rules Against Exxon Mobil

Tues. March 18, 2008

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - A British judge ruled against Exxon Mobil Corp. on Tuesday, tossing out an order to freeze $12 billion in assets belonging to Venezuela's state oil company in a case that stemmed from the nationalization of an oil project last year.

Judge Paul Walker said he would make public the reasons for his judgment on Thursday. During the court case, Walker signaled that he agreed that Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, has no connection to England -- a key argument in its defense.

'Today we have a firm decision 100 percent in our favor,' Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told state television. 'We've defeated Exxon Mobil (nyse: XOM - news - people ).'Exxon Mobil decided to go to international arbitration with PDVSA last year, after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez nationalized a heavy oil project in the Orinoco River basin.

The company subsequently secured court orders in Britain, among other countries, to freeze PDVSA's international assets, saying it needed to ensure that it would get paid for the loss of the project and future revenues if an international court ruled in its favor.

PDVSA argued that the case didn't fall under British jurisdiction since it isn't a British company and has no assets, businesses or bank accounts there.

Exxon Mobil spokesman Alan Jeffers said the company has no plans to appeal the ruling. Jeffers said the judge based his decision on jurisdictional issues but didn't question Exxon Mobil's broader case.

'The important thing, from our perspective, is the court did not question the merits of our underlying claim,' he said.

Jeffers said Exxon Mobil took the action to prevent PDVSA from disposing of assets that might be used to settle future claims. He said court rulings in the Netherlands and New York to seize Venezuelan assets in exchange for nationalized oil fields remain in place.

Venezuela, meanwhile, is now considering suing Exxon Mobil, Ramirez said. 'Exxon Mobil is going to have to answer now for the damage that has been caused to our company, to our country,' he said.Ramirez said Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil has been 'very arrogant,' while other companies including Chevron (nyse: CVX - news - people ) Corp., Total SA, BP (nyse: BP - news - people ) PLC and StatoilHydro ASA have negotiated deals to continue as minority partners in the nationalized projects.

'Exxon is isolated in its abusive position,' Ramirez said.

U.S.-Colombian War Plans Fail -- Venezuela Organizes Unity for Peace

The Peacemaker

March 11th 2008
by Eva Golinger

President Chávez's diplomatic tone and calm demeanor brokered peace between Andean nations on the brink of war at the Rio Group Summit in Santo Domingo late last week, yet the media portrays him as a "dictator" and "threat to the region".

Perhaps the most misrepresented and demonized figure in the media today, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, recently became a symbol of peace and diplomacy at the Rio Group Summit in Santo Domingo this past March 7. Chávez's diplomatic, affectionate tone and his call to peace between sister nations calmed tensions between Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which just hours before had been on the brink of war after Colombia unilaterally violated Ecuador's territory without permission or notification in order to bomb and assassinate a leader of the Fuerzas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) who was camped with a group of visiting Mexicans on the Ecuatorian side of the border.
All those stationed at the FARC camp were killed, with the exception of three women, including one Mexican, who were injured and left by Colombian soldiers to die but were later rescued by Ecuatorian armed forces.

Chávez, who had ordered his troops to the Colombian border and warned President Uribe of Colombia that a similar attempt to violate Venezuela's sovereignty would be met with force, was quickly labeld by the international media as a "warmonger" and "responsable" for the conflict in the region. Colombia's government, publicly backed by President Bush himself, accused Chávez and President Correa of Ecuador of aiding and funding the FARC, a group labeled "terrorist" by the United States, Colombia and the European Union, and even went so far as to implicate Chávez in the proposed sale of uranium to the FARC in order to build dirty bombs.

These unsubstantiated - and extremely dangerous - allegations fall right in line with the increased efforts of the Bush Administration to label Chávez's Venezuela as a nation that supports "drug trafficking", "terrorism" and "money laundering", and to classify Chávez as a "dictator", "authoritarian" and "threat to U.S. interests."
Debunking the Chávez myth is not as easy as it should be. Coverage of President Chávez and Venezuela is negative and distorted in 90% of major media outlets in Europe, Latin America and the United States. An analysis of the Washington Post editorial page during the past year shows that of the twenty-three editorials or OpEds specifically written about Venezuela, only one - written by Venezuela's Ambassador to the US - presented a balanced vision of the South American nation's political and economic situation.

President Chávez was labeled as a "dictator", "autocrat", "strongman" or "despot" on ten occasions and references to his government as "dictatorial", "authoritarian" or "repressive" were made in almost every article. Even worse, the Washington Post perpetuated the falsehood of Venezuela's relationship with terrorism in almost a dozen editorials during the last year.

None of these claims about Venezuela and President Chávez's slippery slope towards a terrorist dictatorship have ever been seriously substantiated with real evidence. In fact, a frightening parallel can be drawn between the Bush-Cheney lies about weapons of mass destruction in Sadaam Hussein's Iraq and the false allegations about Chávez's Venezuela funding and arming Colombian terrorists and facilitating drug trafficking and money laundering.

The mere reference made by President Uribe regarding a possible sale of uranium to the FARC to build bombs is eerily reminiscent of Pat Robertson's outrageous claims in 2005 that President Chávez was building a nuclear bomb with Iran to blow up the United States.

While ridiculous, such allegations justified the U.S. invasion of Iraq after government officials hammered the false claims into public opinion and the media recycled lies. Those cynical or too naive to believe that a similar aggression could occur against Venezuela need only remember the U.S. invasion of socialist Grenada in 1983 or the bombing and invasion of Panamá in 1989. In both instances, neither government represented a real threat to the U.S., and in both cases, myths about "dangerous dictatorships" were perpetuated in the media in order to justify the unilateral attacks. When the truth comes out years later, as is the case with Iraq, U.S. officials offer insincere apologies and shrug it all off as "in the past" and anyway, they were all bad guys. Over the past year, the U.S. State Department has classified Venezuela as a nation "not collaborating" with either the "war on drugs" or the "war against terrorism". The Pentagon and the intelligence communities released reports earlier this year citing Venezuela as a "major threat to U.S. national security" and have proposed beefing up military presence in the region. The White House and Congress have increased USAID and National Endowment Funding to opposition groups in Venezuela in an effort to rebuild ailing conservatives that favor a U.S. agenda. International media portray Chávez as "public enemy #1" and the leader of a Latin American "axis of evil" that is threatening regional stability.

Meanwhile, poverty in Venezuela has been reduced by more than 50% under the thrice-elected President Chávez, 100% of Venezuelans have access to free, quality health care and education beyond the doctoral level, voter participation has skyrocketed to unprecedented, historical levels and more new hospitals, schools, highways, bridges, railways and industries have been built since during the entire 40-year period of "representative democracy".

And to top it all off, Chávez has negotiated the release of six hostages held by the FARC for more than five years, helped pay off Venezuela's, Argentina's and Nicaragua's foreign debt and established regional initiatives such as Telesur, the Bank of the South, PetroCaribe, UnaSur (Union of South American Nations) and ALBA, a cooperative trade agreement between Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia

Hugo Chávez is a man of peace. The question to ask is why the Bush Administration and mass media continue to portray him as an evil dictator. But we all know the answer to that: Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves. So what we really need to be asking is why public opinion - you - allow the perpetuation of this dangerous myth?

[Eva Golinger is a lawyer and the author of The Chávez Code: Cracking U.S. Intervention in Venezuela (Olive Branch Press 2006) and Bush vs. Chávez: Washington's War on Venezuela (Monthly Review Press 2008).

You can visit her blog at www.chavezcode.com.]

Source: http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/16832

Against Violations of Territorial Sovereignty

Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina strengthen ties, embark on "true geopolitical shift"

March 6th 2008
by James Suggett

Caracas - Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa strengthened his political alliance with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in Caracas Wednesday on the third stop of his tour of Latin American nations in search of diplomatic guarantees against violations of territorial sovereignty in the wake of Colombia’s assault on encampments of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Ecuadorian territory last Saturday. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was also in Caracas to strengthen ties with Venezuela, and Chávez promoted solutions to Venezuelan food shortages with the two neighboring presidents. Following a private meeting with Chávez, President Correa reaffirmed his termination of diplomatic relations with Colombia, declaring "we cannot have relations with a subject that has lost credibility with the world".

While emphasizing that the relationship between the people of Colombia and Ecuador will remain "eternal," Correa denounced that "Ecuador has been bombarded by an aggressive, war mongering government [whose] lies pull them down: first they wanted to deny their assault on our sovereignty, then later they recognized it."

President Chávez announced following the meeting with Correa that Venezuela will now import from Ecuador what it previously received from Colombia, following the rupturing of commercial relations between Venezuela and Colombia this week. The two presidents "will look for the mechanisms to implement this exchange, to see which products we can import" from Ecuador, Chávez said.

The abrupt change in import sourcing is to protect Venezuela from foreign attempts to destabilize the country by manipulating food shortages, Chávez explained, asserting that Colombia is no longer a trustworthy provider, since it is led by a "compulsive liar". Chávez assured that Colombians who cross over to Venezuela for free health care in the Barrio Adentro Missions created by the Chávez administration will continue receiving attention.

Following the meeting between Chávez and Correa Wednesday night, Argentine President Kirchner ratified energy-for-food accords with Chávez Thursday morning, and the two solidified their alliance in favor of regional integration. Women's Day demonstration against Colombia in Britain

In the agreements signed, Argentine Energy corporation (ENARSA) will receive oil and energy technology from the Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA. In exchange, an array of Argentine companies will deliver agricultural machinery and technology, along with food products such as milk and beef, to Venezuela.

Kirchner hopes these 14 bilateral accords will help Argentine prevent a repeat of the severe electricity and fuel shortages that adversely affected public transportation and home heating during the cold winter last year, while Chávez hailed the deals as a step forward in combating food shortages in Venezuela and promoting regional cooperation for "food sovereignty" as well as Venezuela’s "Integral Sustainable Agriculture Project" aimed at increasing national food production.

President Chávez recounted that 10 years ago such cooperation between Venezuelan and Argentine presidents would have been unimaginable, and that Kirchner’s visit symbolizes the "true geopolitical shift that is changing the history of South American countries."

Also in Caracas, President Kirchner met with President Correa and reiterated her rejection of Colombia’s violation of Ecuadorian sovereignty. Moreover, Kirchner confirmed her support for humanitarian exchange in Colombia after meeting with opposition Senator Piedad Córdoba, who collaborated with President Chávez to negotiate the FARC´s release of 10 hostages so far this year, and Yolanda Pulecio, the mother of former French presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt who was kidnapped by the FARC in 2002 and whose release is a top priority of current French President Nicolás Sarkozy.

"The policy of human rights is one of the fundamental pillars of the Republic of Argentina, and that is why I am not going to abandon the cause of humanitarian exchange that, if it were to happen, would be an important factor for the solution of conflict in the region," Kirchner proclaimed in Caracas Thursday.
Thursday afternoon Correa garnered the support of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who announced after meeting with Correa in Managua his decision to break diplomatic relations with Colombia, "in solidarity with the Ecuadorian People".
In a Managua press conference, Correa demanded a condemnation "without question" of the attack by Colombian armed forces in Ecuadorian territory.

In a recent special meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS), the diplomatic organization denounced the violation of Ecuador’s territorial sovereignty but fell short of condemning the attacks outright. Correa asserted that "if this aggression remains in impunity, then the OAS will not be worth a thing, and that is why we appeal for a condemnation," and said the matter should be on the agenda in the upcoming meeting of the hemisphere’s foreign relations ministers scheduled for March 17th.New York City Demonstration against Uribe

Meanwhile, on the Pacific coast of Colombia, the FARC unilaterally liberated four hostages, who they turned over to an International Red Cross committee, according to Colombian Colonel Hector Aguas. The Red Cross committee has reported that the hostages arrived in very good physical condition, Aguas told the press. The hostages include biology professor Ana María Aldana Serrano, hotel owner César Hoyos Benítez, education professor Hernando Martínez Rodríguez, and businessman José Arnulfo Rodríguez Barrera.

FARC hostage release

In over 130 cities worldwide on Thursday, marches were held to protest against paramilitary groups in Colombia in solidarity with the Bogotá-based National Movement of Victims of State Crimes who led that call for the march. Colombian organizer Iván Cepeda was reported to have rejected FARC support for the march and encouraged that the protest not be politicized, declaring "we do not accept the support nor the outreach of armed groups marginal to the law".

Nonetheless, the regional flare-up in the conflict with Colombia this week prompted an expansion of the anti-paramilitary message to include a general rejection of imperialist aggression in Latin America in some demonstrations in Venezuela.
At a march to the Colombian consulate in Mérida, Venezuela Thursday morning, organizer Emilio Useche told reporters that part of the message of the protest is to raise caution about plans by the United States and its ally Colombia to destabilize Latin America in order to justify military action aimed at controlling Venezuela’s oil reserves: "We have seen clear examples... The U.S. invaded Iraq on false accusations that it had weapons of mass destruction, and now they are accusing Venezuela of supporting terrorists, when the real terrorists are the state of Colombia, the U.S., and the paramilitaries... we support a peaceful humanitarian solution."

Source URL: venezuelanalysis.com/