Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Day Pigs Flew 

Direct from the Miami Herald via The Mecury News we are witnesss to a spectacle the likes which are unprecedented. A Miami based journal recognizing the effect of the Venezuelan governemnt to draw attention to to its meritorious handling of its domestic and foreign affairs. That is however not to be outshadowed by similar OpEds from the Fort Wayne News Sentinal in Indiana. In any case here is a re-broadcast of the Herald article

U.S. tries everything, but can't slow Chavez


Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - (KRT) - Several months ago, the Bush administration decided to implement a two-pronged policy to contain Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: expose him before his regional peers as a dangerous meddler and support Venezuelan institutions such as labor unions and political parties as a way to offset his growing power.

But the policy has gotten off to a rocky start, interviews with former and current administration officials and analysts show.

Chavez, who openly touts his friendship with Cuban leader Fidel Castro, has proved adept at countering every challenge thrown his way by Washington, observers say. Latin American nations have been reluctant to turn against a neighbor flush with oil money, and administration officials say they're unwilling to reveal the most damning evidence against Chavez for fear of compromising intelligence sources.

On the public-relations front, the administration has struggled to produce an alternative to Chavez's populist appeal.

''The alternative should not be how you stop Chavez but how you have an alternative message for the region that is more compelling,'' said Bernard Aronson, who was assistant secretary of state for Latin America in the early 1990s.

The Bush administration lost much of its leverage on Venezuela after it appeared to condone a failed coup against Chavez in April of 2002, undermining Washington's reputation as a defender of democracy. Afterward, Washington supported an ''electoral'' and ''constitutional'' solution to Venezuela's political crisis. With mediation by the Organization of American States and the Carter Center, Venezuela held a recall referendum on Chavez in August 2004 that he easily won.

After the referendum, the administration went back to the drawing board to come up with a new policy. Officials say some in the government advocated a get-tough approach by, for instance, turning a spotlight on allegations that Chavez did not play fair in the referendum or turning up negative evidence about Chavez's record on human rights and corruption . There was at least one proposal that would have affected Venezuela's oil industry.

''Scrimmages within the administration on Venezuela were often very, very rough,'' said Miguel Diaz, a former CIA analyst on Latin America who tracked the internal debate on Venezuela last year for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

In January, the State Department decided to form its own task force to better monitor events in Venezuela.

The policy review was completed in the spring. The idea was to help the Venezuelan opposition and other ''civil society'' groups with money and other resources supplied by the National Endowment for Democracy - a private institution that obtains most of its money from the U.S. Congress - and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Chavez has accused the National Endowment for Democracy of supporting groups that have tried to overthrow him.

The administration also wants Latin Americans and Europeans to do the same, creating what the official described as ``connections between their NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and Venezuela.''

In early June, Bush met at the White House with Maria Corina Machado, a spokeswoman for Sumate, a grass-roots citizen participation movement. Machado is facing treason charges for accepting U.S. funds to promote the recall referendum.

At the same time, officials have tried to put the spotlight on Chavez's purported meddling in places such as Bolivia and Ecuador.

Roger Pardo-Maurer, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's top advisor on Latin America, in July told the Heritage Institute, a conservative think tank, that Cuba and Venezuela had a deliberate plan to make Bolivia a ``Marxist, radical, anti-U.S., pro-Cuba, drug-production state.''

Rumsfeld said last month that Cuba and Venezuela have been involved in Bolivia ``in unhelpful ways.''

Bush administration officials have said Venezuela provided cash and other assistance to radical groups. But the administration has declined to go into details, citing concerns that doing so would reveal intelligence-gathering sources.

The result is that U.S. statements have sounded mostly empty, analysts said.

Chavez has dismissed most U.S. allegations against his government as lies or intrusions into the sovereign affairs of a state. He has also gone on the offensive.

He dismisses Bush's push for free trade in the hemisphere as a self-serving ''neo-liberal'' ploy to further impoverish Latin Americans. He has increased his influence in the region by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on bonds from Ecuador and Argentina, and has offered cheap oil to Caribbean nations.

The administration was embarrassed when the Rev. Pat Robertson, a religious broadcaster and former Republican presidential candidate, suggested last month that Chavez be assassinated.

Robertson eventually apologized, but to many Latin Americans the affair appeared to give credibility to Chavez's assertions that Bush was plotting to kill him.

When the United States tried to get the Organization of American States to make sure countries are governing more democratically, Venezuela successfully spearheaded a campaign to water down the initiative.

''Every time there is a public-relations crisis (the Bush administration) seems to be on the losing end,'' Diaz said.


© 2005, The Miami Herald.

What this says to me is that the conservative media is owning up to the fact that Chavez is actually doing somehting right. Call it Propoganda or what you will, the fact that this type of commentary is necessary to convey a message, the message that they deem more people need to notice, is testimony to the governments achievements. In essence the spin has spun out. El topo (spherical toy spun with a string) has lost its momentum, and what seems like an honest approach, is being sought to deal with the success of the Venezuelan Governments implementation of its plans. Why, one may ask, does spin need to be added? Because it goes against all the precepts that foreign governements have for control over dominions not their own. A new plan of sorts has to be meshed out, and it may be the circumstance that the BS has run its course in the face of unprecedented success. Take the case of the accusations of Venezuela providing funding to Bolivia. Accusations come cheap, proof comes with expensive excuses, the likes of which has brought forth an honest interpretation of the mistakes made in assessing how foreing policy is to be handled against a government that is both, critical of superpowers yet remains unequivocally democratic. A scourge for imperialist domination, when a country has the wherewithall to understand its situation and play by the rules.


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