<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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I’m With Venezuela...

…In the Conflict Between Vicente Fox and Hugo Chávez


By Erich Moncada
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

November 30, 2005

HERMOSILLO, MEXICO: Last weekend, which marked the 195th anniversary of the November 20 Mexican Revolution, something unprecedented in the history of Mexico occurred. The Venezuelan government held a march to protest Mexican president Vicente Fox’s subservience and to support Bolivarian foreign policy. These demonstrations were repeated in Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. Many rightwing or apolitical Mexicans watch with a certain fear every time Hugo Chávez opens his mouth and gets linked with Andrés Manuel López Obrador. As Alberto Núñez, president of the business organization Coparmex, said:

“The business sector has expressed its rejection of populist, demagogic governments, and for that reason it has warned that it fears Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez’s aims of influencing Mexico.”

Or take the threats that Manuel Espino, president of Fox’s National Action Party (PAN), uttered against the Venezuelan government:

Reporter: What actions would those be?

Manuel Espino: Hugo Chávez will find out soon enough.

R: Does this imply activism on the part of PAN supporters in Venezuela?

ME: It implies whatever is necessary, respecting the law and sovereignty of all nations, but supporting the democratization process of the people who today live under authoritarianism.

R. Vladimir Villegas says that the PAN’s meddling in Venezuela is one of this conflict’s causes.

ME: I’m so glad you have quoted him! Vladimir Villegas, Venezuela’s former ambassador in Mexico, thank God, dedicated himself to supporting the activities of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s party. Obviously, Chávez’s strategy in Mexico was to support a state populism similar to his own — that of Andrés Manuel — and the media confirmed that.

R: These actions that your party will take, won’t they affect relations [between the two countries] even more?

ME: To the contrary, we are interested in having good relations with citizens, with the people, not with authoritarian governments. Chávez is not Venezuela; Chávez is the authoritarian president of [the Venezuelans], and we are interested in a good relationship with them.

But the reality is that the PRD’s candidate kept his distance and defended the office of the presidency (but not Fox himself). In an interview this week with Televisa journalist Adela Micha, he said that “I have nothing to do with Chávez, absolutely nothing,” and assured that he has had no contact with Chávez since becoming governor of Mexico City. Also, if we look at both men’s origins, we see some very marked differences, such as Manuel Obrador’s pacifistic and center-left past and Chávez’s military and leftwing education. There are also very pronounced similarities, in the emphasis both politicians give to fighting poverty and their opposition to neoliberalism.

I think that this renewed return of the Left activates that small neuron inside of many that says “Latin American revolutionary,” and touches off a whole series of ideological prejudices with deep roots in the Cold War of the previous century. Hugo Chávez himself uses the color red indiscriminately in his wardrobe, just like Governor Eduardo Bours of the Mexican state of Sonora; he’s a “red,” but from the moneyed business class.

In addition to the position of a few media, who ridiculously and patriotically considered the aggression toward Fox to be aggression toward Mexico, our own hypocritical nationalism is being eroded by ever more obvious and true accusations from Chávez: that our country is the United States’ “backyard” and that “free trade” has benefited only a small sector of the population.

It is truly embarrassing that so many of my friends and acquaintances hear talk of Chávez and Venezuela and completely ignore the contemporary political history of that South American nation — the constant attempts at coups d’état and other actions by the U.S. against a people and its democratically-elected government. This stands in contrast to the impressive knowledge that the Venezuelans have of Mexican culture and history. Take for instance the coverage of the November 19 demonstration in Caracas from Radio Nacional de Venezuela. It was replete with allusions to President Juárez, to Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata, as well as to our national symbols and popular songs. Writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s account in La Jornada (Spanish language) is illustrative.

It would seem then that they are the real Mexicans, not us. They are trying to wake us from our lethargy to take positions, because, for better or worse, next year there will be elections in both our country and in Venezuela. At stake will be two distinct visions of government: one that seeks to continue the current model of exploitation, and another that at least tries to moderate the brutal poverty in which more than half of Mexico suffers.

Anyone who tries to blame Chavismo for its clash with Mexico would need to analyze the information from the media to see who are the true meddlers and aggressors.

On November 18, the ruling rightwing National Action Party (PAN) stated, through its spokesman Manuel Espino, that it will support “any necessary action” to weaken President Chávez this December, when Venezuela holds elections for National Assembly, because “today he is one of the strongest expressions of authoritarianism in Latin America.” These actions would be taken through the Christian Democrat Organization of América (ODCA), an international grouping of more than 30 political parties.

Acording to an analysis of the coup d’état against Chávez in 2002, the ODCA played a leading, decisive role:

The Christian Democrat Connection

Madrid is the international capital of the Social Christian Party of Venezuela (COPEI), whose head, Eduardo Fernández, former president of the Christian Democrat Organization of América (ODCA) was in Madrid in the days before the coup and returned to Caracas via Washington, where — apparently — he held a meeting of the ODCA. Many COPEI leaders and businessmen connected to Rafael Caldera were part of Carmona’s circle and involved in the coup. COPEI and [then-Spanish Prime Minister José María] Aznar’s People’s Party have close ties due to their membership in the Centrist Democrat International and the Fundación Iberoamericana. The coup’s Christian Democrat connection has a strong basis in Opus Dei. COPEI and Primero Justicia were the two opposition parties directly implicated in the coup.

Let’s suppose that President Chávez were in fact authoritarian. What about all the clean elections in which he has emerged victorious? Many may not like it, but the Venezuelan president has the support of the majority of his divided nation behind him. Meanwhile, Vicente Fox won the presidency with just 42 percent of the vote, and George W. Bush won by fraud in 2000 and in 2004. Nevertheless, they have been more authoritarian than Hugo Chávez himself. Iraq and the desafuero of López Obrador are clear examples.

If the Mexican elite thinks the image of Chávez will provoke a new capitalist vs. communist war, it is making a mistake, because Latin America’s shift to the left has become irreversible. That it go forward without bloodshed, without a dirty war between brothers, depends on that elite. But the PAN’s presidential candidate, Felipe Calderón, has already begun the lynching: he has stated that the two congressmen from the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD, the party that is backing López Obrador) who attended the demonstration in Caracas could be charged with the crime of treason for supporting a foreign government.

That’s it, Felipe! Let’s kill us some pinkos for our country!

But most Mexicans seem not to understand this confrontation: in the most recent poll by María de las Heras, president of pollster Demotecnia, for the newspaper Milenio, seven out of every ten Mexicans said that the fault lay with Chávez in the dispute with President Fox. What was it that was so bothersome about Chávez’s march? How did seeing the guy clowning around singing “El Rey” wearing A DAMN SOMBRERO become a declaration of war? Where else on TV can one find entertainment of that quality? I think all this resentment comes from some hidden envy, because Fox has all the grace of a broomstick, while Chávez is a rebel showman. Rather than hatred, it should cause us laughter to see it and pride that the Venezuelans celebrated MEXICO that day, and not Fox.

As I said before, Fox does not speak for Mexico, and if we have to take sides I’ll take Venezuela’s without thinking twice.

Erich Moncada lives in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. He can be reached at insaneqf@hotmail.com.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America