April 12, 2002
Narco News '02
Journalist Jules Siegel
Narco News Publisher
Morning, April 12, 2001
Jules Siegel: Why
did Chávez try to force the changes in Petróleos
Al Giordano: Corruption by both the management and the union
was out of control. The boss of the petrol workers union refused
to abide by new Venezuelan laws requiring free elections of union
leaders, and the old board refused to act on it. Thus, you saw
this strange alliance of the big business magnates who looted
the country for 40 years suddenly singing "Solidarity Forever"
and "Strike! Strike! Strike!" in a disingenuous, made-in-DC,
simulation of a grassroots movement. Call it "astro-turf."
The march yesterday of, according to press
reports, between 50,000 and 150,000 people, was really not by
any normal standards earthshaking.
Despite the unified backing of:
1. The corrupt and bureaucratic petrol
2. The national chamber of commerce and
industry (whose chief is now the military junta-installed illegitimate
"president" of the country),
3. The Catholic Church hierarchy (upset
that the Chávez government had enacted a Separation of
Church and State in education funds that used to be given to
Church schools who left a 90% illiteracy rate in the country),
4. The old guard of the military, upset
with the sweeping reforms made by Chávez in favor of the
rank and file (read: poor) soldiers and ending longtime abuses
by the brass, and,
5. The nation's media moguls, in particular
five TV chains, who under previous regimes paid no taxes at all
and used media as a mere business, training a generation of "journalists"
skilled mostly in shaking down bribes and blackmail, who could
not stand the fact that they now paid taxes like any other business...
All these institutional forces could only
muster, at maximum, 150,000 people into the streets of Caracas
(with live TV exortations on a 24/7 basis: one TV station, while
showing the march, had a chyron text across the screen "NOT
ONE STEP BACK"). This, in a city of more than 2 million
people and in a country of 24 million, makes a lie of all the
US media claims that this was somehow a "popular" revolt.
Then some snipers fired from rooftops
into the crowd, and particularly toward the ambulances! Former
President Perez was on hand to blame the Chávez government
for the shootings. He should know. In 1989, when Perez was president,
and the poor marched in the streets, he massacred more than 1,000
unarmed citizens in what is now called the Caracalazo).
There was no military nor political motive
for the Chávez government to order sniper fire. To the
contrary, the only side that had motive to do that was that of
the ones who have now seized illigitimate power. But the US correspondents
say, without offering a shred of testimony or proof, that it
was government troops who fired into the crowd.
The response from Washington (Bush crying
crocodile tears over the estimated 10 to 30 deaths) contrasts
greatly, say, with Washington's position when someone like Sharon
or the King of Saudi Arabia routinely shoots into crowds, and
there is real evidence that their troops did the shooting.
This was a "remote control coup d'etat,"
engineered from Washington, with a strong media element by the
TV moguls and military hardliners who all danced a carefully
JS: How did these actions affect American strategic
or commercial interests?
The Dow Jones wire today (big grain of salt: last night they
published a story NINE times with the headline "REPEAT:
Venezuela President Chávez Seen Leaving Country-Report"
(obviously, in retrospect, total fiction because Chávez
is locked today in a military fortress and kept incomunicado
as his enemies make claims that he has "resigned")
is filled with gushing remarks by the international oil industry
(ecstatic predictions that Venezuela will now, once again, sabotage
OPEC's price-setting cuotas and limits on production) and Wall
Street analysts urging everyone to invest now in Venezuela.
But the 800-pound gorilla in this story
has to do with Plan Colombia. Washington never forgave Chávez
for leading the charge against this US military intervention.
That's the factor that caused Clinton to sign the clandestine
destabilization order, Bush to execute it, and it will take Jeremy
Bigwood or the National Security Archives ten years of FOIA requests
to get the documents.
JS: Is the situation in any way similar to the destabilization
of Chile under Allende? Is there any reason to believe the general
strike instigated or supported by the CIA or other American intelligence
Oh, Jules! How could you possibly think that a State Department
dominated by corrupt Iran-Contra narcos like Otto Reich and John
Negroponte, and thugs like Peter Romero and former Jesse Helms
svengali Roger Noriega would do such a thing again? It's only
a coincidence that the State Department has one of the 1973 Chile
coup-plotters, former political officer of the Embassy in Santiago
(1971-1974), Jeffrey Davidow, as Ambassador to Mexico today!
attention to that Bush behind the curtain.
The bottom line: a twice democratically
elected government has been deposed by a military junta that
has installed an illigitimate unelected president.
What happens next is not going to be pretty.
Already, this morning, the raids of homes of Chávez supporters
by police and military forces has begun, with the pretext of
searching for arms.
But the sorriest group of all has been
the US news correspondents in Venezuela. Not a single one of
them has asked the right questions, much less answered them.
Jules Siegel is a writer and
who has been living and working in Mexico since 1981, in Cancun
since 1983. His work has appeared in Playboy, Rolling Stone,
Best American Short Stories and many other publications.
Al Giordano, journalist, reports on the drug war from
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