<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Aristide, Bush, Chávez, Kerry: When Presidents Collide

U.S. Political Campaign Plays With Latin American Fire


By Al Giordano
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

April 2, 2004

Confronted with a mystery, the Authentic Journalist asks “who, what, when, where, why, and how?”

Often the answers lead to more questions.

The hunt for the whole truth begins: How did U.S. opposition presidential candidate John Kerry slide from a pro-democracy position on Haiti to an anti-democracy position on Venezuela in less than a month?

The rise and fall of John Kerry as a respected world leader was something akin to what Andy Warhol meant when he spoke of “fifteen minutes of fame.” For two or three weeks, through his public statements on the Haiti coup, Kerry had earned positive attention South of the Border, the beginnings of moral leadership, and the corresponding good faith of the most important Latin American political leaders, of the ones who represent the wave of the future from Mexico to Brazil.

Then, with a single statement, filled with vile untruths, charged with negative consequences on both sides of the border, John Kerry pissed it all away.

Our investigation begins today.

I. Aristide: How the Stage Was Set

The anti-democracy problem in our América surfaced anew in April 2002, almost two years before the February 2004 coup d’etat in the Caribbean country of Haiti.

April of 2002 was when the administration of Court Appointed President George W. Bush first tried, but fortunately failed, to turn the clock back thirty years on democracy in the American hemisphere.

A military coup d’etat was foisted on Venezuela, a South American democracy of 23 million people, with the largest oil reserves in Latin America. Aspiring dictators in uniform kidnapped its democratically elected President Hugo Chávez Frías at gunpoint and held him incommunicado. The commercial media – from Caracas to New York – invented and repeated a baseless story – let the reader be the judge of who likely wrote that script – claiming that Chávez had resigned.

Narco News was all over that story, beating back the lie, as the coup happened, and we reported the popular counter-coup, three days later, when the masses took to the streets and surrounded the corrupt Commercial TV stations. They saved not only Venezuela, but also the entire hemisphere, from a repeat of the anti-democracy nightmare that came after the 1973 military coup in Chile; the atrocity that led to US-funded “Operation Condor” and corresponding long military dictatorships in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and so many other lands.

Despite much hard evidence, the Bush administration has always denied that it sponsored the 2002 Venezuelan coup. But the White House has never denied its rush, as the coup was occurring, to recognize Dictator-for-a-Day Pedro Carmona and his illegitimate “government” once that oily punk grabbed the red-yellow-and-blue presidential sash. Washington was then on record: Democracy in Latin America is not a serious goal of U.S. foreign policy.

The true test – really, the only test – of a small-d democrat is whether he can accept the democratically made decisions of others even though he might have voted otherwise. This is the entire crux of the current challenge of Latin American policy. Any policy wonk, journalist, or politician, that does not start from that principle, and keep it present in every step he takes, soon wades into the tar pit of the anti-democracy forces, and becomes covered with that sticky, hard to remove, stain. (Later they cry like tar babies when the Authentic Journalists bring the feathers.)

By February 2004, the anti-democracy extremists in the Bush administration, “viceroys made of chocolate with peanuts for noses,” as Marcos might call them, ugly, spiteful, little men like Otto Reich and Roger Noriega, decided to test out their latest coup formula on a smaller, more impoverished and defenseless, island-bound nation named Haiti.

This time they succeeded, at least for now, in forcing its elected President Jean Bertrand-Aristide out of power. As in 2002, they claimed that the elected president had “resigned,” when he did not resign. As in 2002, they recognized the Made-in-Miami rule of an oligarch: a vile, possibly senile, evidently incompetent, geezer Muppet named Gerard Latortue who now occupies the false throne of Haiti.

Meanwhile, in Venezuela, President Chávez watched that Caribbean storm and started blowing back, with a wind from below. And the wind began to howl…

II. Bush: “The President Kidnapper”

Venezuela’s Chávez, impressively popular with the majority working and poor masses of his land, took to the airwaves after the Haiti coup to decry Bush as “the President Kidnapper.” He offered refuge to Haiti’s Aristide, and his continued backing (including with economically priced oil) for the courageous Caribbean Community of Nations that together, through CARICOM, have refused to recognize the dirty Latortue regime in Haiti.

During those same days of February and March, Bush’s presumptive opponent for the White House, John Kerry, solidified his victory as the presumptive Democratic Party nominee.

In the days before and after the February 29th Haiti coup, well placed sources told Narco News that a kind of civil war had broken out inside of Kerry’s organization to define the U.S. opposition candidate’s response to the coup.

Twenty-six-year-old Vanessa Kerry defined the pro-democracy camp’s position, just hours after the coup. She said, “I believe this administration just helped overthrow, basically overthrow, a democratically-elected president.”

But the reportedly grown men who fancy themselves as the once-and-future global kings of geopolitical intrigue, the wannabe aspirants to become the new viceroys made of chocolate with peanuts for noses, the new Ottos, the new Rogers, dressed as big-D “Democrats,” led by former Clinton administration foreign policy fixers Rand Beers, Sandy Berger and Richard Holbrooke, are said to have had a different idea: To let Aristide fall, and to keep John Kerry quiet about it.

As one regular participant in this policy group’s conference calls (a beltway version of the board game, Risk), former Kerry Senate counsel and former Clinton State Department functionary Jonathan Winer shared with me on February 24th what he had recommended to the Kerry campaign:

“My advice on Haiti was not to say anything for a few more days, because Haiti has always been a disaster and always will be a disaster and there is nothing good that we can do other than send troops in and keep them there for a really long time as a security force, and while that would be good for them in practical terms, they’d make us pay a big price for it because they prefer Haitian catastrophe to American order anytime.”

I give Jonathan points for honesty, although of course I don’t share his opinion. (How does an otherwise conscientious policymaker fall into the tar pit? It happens when he forgets that “pro-democracy” is the first, second, third, and last step of any foreign policy adventure. Wonks and Wonkettes of America: Take notes. There will be many quizzes ahead between now and January 20th.)

The good news was, though, that the beltway insider position did not carry the day. Earlier that afternoon, a statement had appeared on the johnkerry.com website. It said:

“The current crisis in Haiti is yet another example of Bush Administration neglect in our own hemisphere. Instead of working to support democratic institutions for the past three years, this Administration has seemed intent on bringing about regime change by encouraging the opposition and cutting off aid from the United States and international financial institutions.

“When the situation on the ground began to degenerate into violence and lawlessness over the past weeks, the Administration stubbornly refused to engage diplomatically. As a result, Haiti is now on the verge of collapsing into a failed state, potentially creating untold hardships for the Haitian people and an enormous influx of refugees on our shores…

“Even now, we must do more to preserve the democratic process…

“America has a duty to advance our best ideals abroad. If we hope to lead the nations of the world towards a more democratic future, we must act now to protect a fragile democracy in our own backyard. Failure to act in Haiti will have direct consequences on our shores. There is no excuse for allowing this to happen.”


Official statements on websites do not always indicate a presidential aspirant’s true feelings. But by March 6th, after the Haiti coup, in the spontaneous, advisor-free, setting of a New York Times editorial board meeting, Kerry showed that he was, when left to his essential instincts, his pro-democracy daughter’s father. He told the Times:

“Look, Aristide was no picnic, and did a lot of things wrong. And there was a lot of reason to dislike much of what Aristide did. But we had understandings in the region about the right of a democratic regime to ask for help. And we contravened all of that. I think it’s a terrible message to the region, democracies, and it’s shortsighted. And that’s not – again, Aristide had a lot of problems, and I don’t gloss over any of them. But I don’t think it’s the right way to assert America’s and the region’s and the hemisphere’s interests. I would have been prepared to send troops immediately. Period. I would have done the work long ago that was necessary. If I’d been president, I would not have allowed it to arrive at where it was.

“I would have worked with Canada, I would have worked with countries of interest, I would have worked with the hemisphere. Long ago, I would have had an assistant secretary, and or a special envoy, who would have done the work necessary to avoid that, hopefully avoid that crisis.”


Randy, Sandy, and Richard had lost the Kerry campaign’s first Civil War of 2004. (There were other internal civil wars in 2003, but they did not concern Latin America directly. Those 2003 battles were each won by what political reporters have called the Kennedy camp inside the Kerry camp. This essay, in addition to asking and answering the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of the story, is an appeal to that camp, among others, to stop the Sandy-and-Randy coup d’etat that, shortly after its defeat over Haiti policy, has since retaken the Kerry foreign policy bunker: The Alliance for Progress, old friends, begins at campaign headquarters.)

Kerry’s New York Times statement on Haiti shot a wave of hope through Latin America. Could it be – leaders and observers from throughout the continent were abuzz – that the superpower to the North could gain a pro-democracy president who understands what it means to be one?

The positive response was not limited to this hemisphere either. As Kerry himself reportedly said, and then reportedly, according to a conflicted Boston Globe reporter, Patrick Healy, did not say:

“I’ve met foreign leaders who can’t go out and say this publicly, but boy they look at you and say, ‘You’ve got to win this, you’ve got to beat this guy, we need a new policy,’ things like that.”

Bush surrogates and neocon bloggers went nuts over that, accusing the presumptive Democratic nominee of near-treason for supposedly talking to, and getting positive response from, foreign leaders.

Then came Kerry’s denial – backed by the mea culpa of the reporter who first quoted him – of having claimed to have “met foreign leaders” (the reporter corrected that Kerry had said he had “heard leaders,” which does make the story quite distinct, although equally as boring and non-scandalous), and this led to a secondary dust-up in which the same forces that impugned Kerry’s patriotism then accused him of the opposite: of not having “met foreign leaders,” and therefore having supposedly lied about it the first time he didn’t say it. The whole dust-up was very silly to begin with. But it put Kerry on a tragic, perhaps election losing, defensive.

Meanwhile, virtually all of Latin America was ecstatic over the prospect – not felt down here since Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign – of a pro-democracy president coming to the United States. For that is all that Latin America has ever asked: to be left to make its own democratic decisions without impositions from above.

And no Latin American leader today is more outspoken on the pro-democracy theme than Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. After all, when you’ve survived a coup d’etat, plus seven elections, democracy becomes more than a mere slogan, but, rather, a way of life.

III. Chávez: Remembering Camelot

During this same fast-paced news cycle of the Haiti coup, the Democratic primaries in the U.S., and yet another implosion by members of the spoiled brat oligarch class of Venezuela over a referendum that they don’t really want to happen, Chávez spoke publicly about this most interesting gringo, John Kerry, who was suddenly attracting the attention of all América and the world.

On March 9th, according to this report in the anti-democracy daily El Universal, Chávez said:

“We want to work together, not only with the United States, but also with its people, its institutions – including of course its government – but also with the other countries in our geopolitical realm. We want peace, respect, integration, to work with everyone, yes, in a relationship of equality, of respect, of cooperation.”

Chávez noted that he had seen this Kerry fellow’s speech on television:

“His speech seemed a lot like that of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. God free him from the fate of John Fitzgerald Kennedy… The Democratic Senator said that, for the people of the United States, his health care plan had to become a right for everyone and not a privilege for a few. Someone could have said, if this man had come here to visit the Adentro Barrio, ‘Chávez bought him already! He’s a Chavista!’ But no: He is a human being, and I believe he is pointed in the right direction. It is the direction that the people from the United States to the Southern Cone demand. The world demands equality, justice… If we leaders don’t understand this, the future of the world will bring the horror of new wars… I have here the path to this peaceful revolution. We will make it a reality to end, forever, the possibility of violence.”

In a sane U.S. political landscape, such inspired words from an elected Latin American leader would generate pride from the candidate that moved him from afar, pleasure to his supporters, and general admiration from the press and public. It is long overdue, after all, that the United States finds and respects its natural allies in this hemisphere instead of trying futily to colonize them. But the Commercial Media-soaked U.S. political system is too toxic to understand even its own rare victories. Here was the most independent elected leader in Latin America trying to make friends with the next president of the United States, a country whose government had recently tried, and keeps trying, to topple him, declaring, again, his adherence to that nation’s highest (it says) principle: democracy.

On the matter of the Haiti coup, in fact, Chávez’s position is essentially the same as Kerry’s: pro-democracy. And if Kerry were at all consistent in his own positions, his position on the matter of Venezuela would be equally close to that of Chávez. But, alas, we are not living on a sane political landscape.

IV: Kerry: The Empire Strikes Back

Rand Beers, stung from his internal defeat (some insiders feel that the victor of the first battle in the Kerry Civil War, over the Haiti policy, was Senate staffer Nancy Stetson; if so, she deserves much support) and his corresponding failure to impose a Haiti policy on John Kerry that was not John Kerry’s, Beers jumped into overdrive after Chávez held his hand out to the North.

Beers, it must be reminded again and again, was flailing inside the Bush administration when Kerry picked him up on waivers last Spring. His spectacular terrain damaged by misstatements on a sworn affidavit regarding Plan Colombia, Beers was going nowhere fast in a Bush administration. Beers has extracted his own political makeover from the Kerry campaign, rescuing beltway relevance for himself, but has given nothing of authentic value to Kerry in return except for the simulation of having a foreign policy dick, with an anti-terrorism gloss, on the team to act as surrogate. I predict that, should Kerry win, between November and January, Beers’ stock will deservedly plummet. Users get used. Players get played. It’s a law of nature.

But the two political pimps behind Beers on this and other maneuvers present a bigger problem for a future Kerry administration: former Clintonistas Sandy Berger and Richard Holbrooke. The latter actually fancies himself as the next Secretary of State. (Earth to Hyannis: Don’t you have a deeper bullpen than that?)

Protected by Berger and Holbrooke, and by the fact that everyone of conscience inside the Kerry campaign is too busy fighting an election to pay attention to Latin American policy, Beers grabbed that Chávez statement and started spinning inside campaign circles. He lobbied, in the context of Kerry’s “met with foreign leaders” mini-scandal, that this “endorsement” (not technically an endorsement, but spun that way) could provide fodder for the Bush camp in maligning Kerry.

Given the institutionalized dysfunction called American politics, I’ll give Beers the benefit of the doubt on that: Let’s presume that Kerry needed to do something to distance himself from Chávez’s statement.

After all, on March 18th, the Kerry campaign issued a public statement – featuring Rand Beers – that distanced Kerry cleanly from positive remarks by a far less democratic head of state over in Asia.

On March 18, the Kerry campaign trotted out Rand Beers as a “surrogate” to whack Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who had publicly expressed sympathy with the concept of removing the mentally infirm court appointed occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Although I don’t think Kerry helps himself by having an admitted liar like Beers speaking for his campaign, Beers’ statement, distancing Kerry from that “foreign leader” was boilerplate and fine: It did not overreach. It simply said:

“John Kerry rejects any association with former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, an avowed anti-Semite whose views are totally deplorable. The world needs leaders who seek to bring people together, not drive them apart with hateful and divisive rhetoric.

“This election will be decided by the American people, and the American people alone. It is simply not appropriate for any foreign leader to endorse a candidate in America’s presidential election. John Kerry does not seek, and will not accept, any such endorsements.”

Short, sweet, and to the point: So what happened to cause the Kerry campaign’s fumbling of the moral high ground in Latin American foreign policy the very next day, with a disastrous statement, going much farther in rhetoric and knowing falsehood, against Venezuela’s democratically elected leader?

Beers, according to one Washington foreign policy wonk, was overheard saying that, “had Chavez not commented that he would have preferred Kerry to win the US elections – a public endorsement of him that Bush could have used against Kerry big time, there would have been no attack by Kerry on Chavez.”

Our source continues:

“Apparently, Beers had noted the original Chavez quote and immediately brought it to Kerry’s attention. Kerry then delegated Beers to ‘take care of it,’ but had no other input and, as far as I can tell, and does not consider the issue one worth spending any time on. Kerry did not want to be seen holding hands with Chavez. Beers, with the Florida vote in mind, assigned an anti-Castro activist to write the statement, and the rest is history.”

On March 19th, John Kerry’s official statement on Venezuela was posted on Kerry’s website. Among its fictions (I’ll footnote them and rebut them, below) are:

“President (of Venezuela, Hugo) Chavez has repeatedly undermined democratic institutions [1] by using extra-legal means [2], including politically motivated incarcerations [3], to consolidate power. In fact, his close relationship with Fidel Castro has raised serious questions about his commitment to leading a truly democratic government [4]… Moreover, President Chavez’s policies have been detrimental to our interests and those of his neighbors. He has compromised efforts to eradicate drug cultivation [5] by allowing Venezuela to become a haven for narco-terrorists [6], and sowed instability in the region by supporting anti-government insurgents [7] in Colombia.”

So there they are, seven lies (see the footnotes below for documentation) in just ninety words (that’s one lie, every 13 words), all placed in John Kerry’s mouth by Rand Beers, who himself was caught, when he was in the Bush administration, lying under oath.

V. The Consequences, and a Lament

The cynical political reporter would shrug his shoulders at this point and think, well, that’s just politics.

But, in this case, the lies have profound consequences that threaten to end democracy… as we once thought we knew it.

Already, a dance has begun (soundtrack by Gloria Estefan?) between the Kerry campaign and the most unreliable little anti-democracy electoral bloc in Florida: the former Venezuelan, and even some Cuban, oligarchs, who, frustrated that Bush hasn’t simply dropped the atomic bomb on both countries, are cheering Kerry’s Venezuela statement as a way to whine in their inimitable spoiled brat cry that Bush had better do more to topple the democratically elected Chávez, or they’ll jump to Kerry. This is exactly how their allies behave in Venezuela, too. Either side would be foolish to believe them. They are the most unreliable political constituency on earth, as shown by the fact that they’ve lost seven elections in six years in Venezuela.

The Beers-Berger-Holbrooke crowd is lovin’ it: The more they can convince the Kerry campaign that these former oligarchs in Florida can swing the sunshine state, the more they’ll get to dominate the Latin American foreign policy agenda, and set events in motion that give them authority over hemispheric policy in a Kerry administration.

Another player that has jumped into the mix is George Herbert Walker Bush’s fishing partner, the richest man in Venezuela, media magnate Gustavo Cisneros, who owns the Univision TV network with a healthy audience among Spanish-speakers in the United States. He’s there stoking the flames with whispered promises of positive, manipulated, media coverage for Kerry, in the same style he does it for his anti-democracy stooges in Venezuela. But Kerry’s people would be foolish to trust him. Cisneros is a very close and personal friend of Bush’s father. They went fishing together as recently as 2001, in Venezuela, not long before the 2002 coup attempt.

If the Kerry campaign people fall for these kinds of tricks, and if John Kerry lets them, Darwin’s gonna get them all: they will all deserve to lose. Sadly, we will all lose with them. So if we – the ones with “pro-democracy” etched onto our contact lenses – don’t stop them in time, we will deserve defeat, too.

The foreign policy rift inside the Kerry campaign is real, and it is growing. It can essentially be defined as a pro-democracy camp against an anti-democracy camp.

The problem is that all the people with titles as foreign policy advisors – with the possible exception of Senate aide Nancy Stetson – are in the anti-democracy camp. And they are all, every one of them, boys, with all the genetic handicap that implies when it comes to geopolitics.

The solution is that certain political strategists and advisors of Kerry are in the pro-democracy camp. They include some of his longtime friends, the Kennedy organization team that saved Kerry’s ass in the primaries, some members of Congress (paging Norfolk County), many of his family members, at least one of his daughters, his two sisters, and his rainforest-changed wife. But they may not yet be paying enough attention to this crisis. They skew, like Kerry’s electoral base, female. They don’t have the foreign policy titles, but they have the moral and political weight, if they address the problem, to put the Beers-Berger-Holbrooke hijack effort back in its Pandora Box.

But as I said, they are so busy doing the heavy lifting of a 21st century presidential campaign – unlike the chin-stroking conference-callers around the foreign policy Risk board – that they have allowed the coup inside their own HQ to happen by default. And yet that Berger-Holbrooke-Beers coup now places at risk everything that all of them are fighting to win. Democrats haven’t yet figured out how pandering to former oligarchs in Miami will come back to bite them in the ass with the much larger electoral bases of Mexican-Americans, Catholics, and working class Latinos, not to mention potential Nader voters, in swing states from Arizona to Minnesota to Ohio to Virginia, and even in Texas, where Mexican-Americans could end the Bush era in one fell swoop. It is a liberal form of racism that looks at “the Latino vote” as one bloc, as opposed to a patchwork of ethnicities that line up on two sides with considerable class consciousness – and indelible memory of oligarchs and dictators past – and thus plays with fire by dancing with oligarchs.

I think, for example, about Diana Kerry, the candidate’s sister, who spent fifteen years living in Indonesia and in other lands, and the statement that she made on November 4th last year that suggests that she understands questions of diplomacy and politics better than Rand Beers, Sandy Berger, Richard Holbrooke, and their wonkish lackeys inside the beltway and in South Florida:

“John has handled some very tricky international issues with sensitivity and understanding, and he can do so again. I saw evidence of that at a State Dinner in Hanoi at which I joined John some years ago—one of only three women present. The affection and regard that the Vietnamese held for him in his work to restore diplomatic relations was very moving. We need a President who understands the role of the United States and our relationship with the rest of the world!”

She’s the leader of Americans Abroad for Kerry. Maybe she should be made the new boss of the foreign policy team, because these slow-class bureaucrats are already making a mess of it.

On the other hand, it wouldn’t shock me if Rand Beers now penned a statement distancing John Kerry from his own sister’s claim that Vietnamese leaders support him, too. After all, her statement reflects a major reason why many people who understand the world around America (and in América) have voiced their support for Kerry: the presumption that he does understand that the United States can no longer be the unpopular but feared bully of the global schoolyard: That U.S. foreign policy has precious little time left to turn the tide against its own self-destruction.

Let it not be said that Chávez’s vision of Camelot renewed was but “a brief and shining moment” of the efforts of 2004 by the citizens of the United States to restore their lost democracy. (If any world leader has shown the tactical and strategic solutions to the theft of Florida 2000, it is Hugo Chávez.) A particular phrase that Chávez said is so interesting and important that it bears repeating, because, thanks to Rand Beers, Sandy Berger, and Richard Holbrooke, and their lackeys, its light has been lost in the smokescreen.

Chávez said:

“We want to work together, not only with the United States, but also with its people, its institutions – including of course its government – but also with the other countries in our geopolitical realm. We want peace, respect, integration, to work with everyone, yes, in a relationship of equality, of respect, of cooperation.”

If a clear, pro-democracy, pro-American, statement like that from a major Latin American elected leader is allowed to remain grounds for being pummeled, libeled, and slandered, by those foreign policy wonks who have just committed a kind of coup d’etat inside the political campaign of the United States’ leading opposition candidate, then it’s already over: The Kerry campaign, and, consequently, the democracy that it once sought to save, will have nothing left to rally around but its own death throes.

Notes

[1] Chávez and his supporters have won seven elections since 1998, all of them declared exemplary in fairness and freeness by all serious international electoral observers and human rights organizations.

[2] Chávez’s political movement has relied on elections, the courts, a constitutional convention, and a popular new constitution that makes Venezuela the most advanced democracy in the hemisphere. In its encouragement and inclusion of all citizens in all aspects of public life, including elections and, importantly, access to and participation in Community TV and radio stations, this president, his political movement, and his country’s new constitution, are far more democratic and open than the current state of the United States political system, in that it has already made many of the changes that Kerry says he wants to make in his own country. Kerry ought to be looking to the Venezuela experience for political-electoral models, not cartoon caricature boogeymen to pander against.

[3] Contrary to the claim of “politically motivated incarcerations,” not a single leader of the coup attempt against Chávez ever went to prison. There are, today, various members of the Venezuela “opposition” recently arrested for weapons possession and other alleged crimes that, in the United States or any other country, would be legally defined as acts of terrorism: even there, all are awaiting trial under very North American style rules which clearly keep those decisions in the judicial and not the executive branch of government: for Chávez to attempt to meddle in those cases would be the anti-democratic path, but Kerry seems to be insisting that he do just that. As Gregory Wilpert points out: “How does Kerry know that the incarcerations of some protestors were politically motivated? As the cases stand right now, it has not been clearly established that any of the arrests that have occurred during the recent spate of violent protests involved people who were innocent of all charges. As the cases proceed and come to trial, there will be plenty of opportunities to find out if this was the case. To prejudge the arrests as Sen. Kerry does, does not help.” Source: http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1136

[4] Chávez’s position on Cuba is the same as the governments of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and others around the world: Venezuela recognizes, and engages in trade and humanitarian exchange with, Cuba. If Kerry were to apply this standard to other countries – claiming that mere recognition and trade constitute a lack of commitment to “truly democratic government” – the U.S. would end up as adversarial to all the major Latin American economic powers. Furthermore, if recognition of other governments is now the standard by which a country’s own democracy is judged, nations, like the United States, that recognize the monarchy of Saudi Arabia, and do business with it, would be damned by the same standard.

[5] There is no coca cultivation in Venezuela. The plant doesn’t grow there: the altitudes, soil, and climate don’t allow for it. Even the Bush administration has repeatedly certified the Chávez government as a trusted drug war ally. The Kerry statement’s use of the word “cultivation” is intentionally deceptive in that regard.

[6] There is not a single “narco-terrorist” taking haven in Venezuela, and not even the Bush administration, so hostile to Chávez, has named or accused a single person as such. Not a single “terrorist” on Washington’s list, nor U.S. wanted narco-trafficker, is alleged to be inside Venezuela, much less to be given haven there. (Remember, it was Venezuela, and not the United States or Peru, that apprehended former Peruvian strongman and narco-kingpin Vladimiro Montesinos, when he did try to hide out there, and extradited him speedily to Peru where he was sought on charges.) Assuredly, though, a lie travels halfway around the world before the truth can put its pants on, and with this maneuver, Kerry’s statement becomes the moral equivalent to Bush and Cheney’s claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

[7] Despite accusations by the Narco-State of Colombia that Chávez supports the insurgents in Colombia, not a shred of documented proof has been offered. To the contrary, Chávez has offered to help with peace negotiations and solutions for its neighboring country. Wilpert (ibid) notes: “The U.S. Embassy in Venezuela says the following about the Venezuelan government’s efforts: ‘Against this upsurge in activity of Colombian narcotrafficking organizations operating in Venezuela, the Government of Venezuela (GOV) has attempted to pass expansive new legislation, refine the focus of its small force of criminal investigators and public prosecutors, and worked with the USG toward the development of improved intelligence, investigative, interdiction, and judicial capabilities. GOV drug enforcement officials are dedicated, professional, and sincere in their efforts to combat narcotrafficking and drug abuse in Venezuela.’ The report also states that, ‘USG narcotics control efforts and programs underwent significant expansion in Venezuela in 2001.’” Source: US Embassy in Venezuela: http://embajadausa.org.ve/wwwh1695.html

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