I’ve gotten so much crapaganda from the lamestream media in my inbox lately. All of it about how the Venezuelan opposition is feeling persecuted lately.
Um, you might want to start learning how to spell PROSECUTED, lamestreamers, because anyone who supported the April 11 coup by showing up at Miraflores the next day to support the illegal “provisional government” of Pedro Carmona–and maybe make money or get jobs off it–is definitely complicit in high treason and should therefore NOT be eligible for US citizenship. Let alone of a preferential fast-track variety while real refugees are turned away. No, the only asylum these people deserve is the mental kind, because their thinking is clearly delusional. It’s pretty obvious to anyone not mentally impaired that the coup was not democratic but antidemocratic–every democratic institution was declared null and void for two days, and every freely elected official’s legal status was blatantly disregarded. Many elected Chavistas feared for their lives and had to go underground or be “arrested” in what amounts to REAL persecution. (And they didn’t flee on luxury yachts to Curacao, either.)
And as a glance at the timeline of that coup will clearly show, the entire thing was all about money, money and more money. (It will also show that the army, still under Chavez’s orders, took pains not to use violent measures against the opposition even when it was most justified in doing so.)
But then again, being lamestream, mainstream US media people just don’t grasp little nuance-y things like that. Nor will they give you an honest look at the “democratic” Venezuelan opposition. They much prefer to reprint whatever PR bullshit comes into their office over the wires. It saves them having to report and do any digging of their own, you see. (And it also saves them from all risk of having to go off the message the State Dept. wants Americans to get.)
So of course, I figured Chavecito must be doing something right again, and indeed he is. But you have to be able to read Spanish, and keep your eye on oil and money, to know just how right. So, with no further ado, here’s a little something from Aporrea:
The application of a true concept of sovereignty to petroleum, in five steps, on the part of the current government, has permitted it to increase its revenues by 5.8 billion dollars US this year (ca. 12 billion bolivares.)
President Hugo Chavez Frias explained it as follows during the 288th broadcast of his program, “Alo, Presidente”, from La Cabrerita, in the state of Anzoategui.
He indicated that the first revolutionary measure was adopted on October 11, 2004, in order to incrementally raise well taxes on petroleum from the Orinoco region, which had been set at 1% since 1943 and which had been raised to 16.6%. This generated revenues of 1.9 billion dollars annually.
Secondly, as of the 24th of June, 2005, taxes were raised to 30% on excess production. Chavez noted that the so-called “apertura” (“opening”, or attempted illegal privatization) of petroleum in the 1990s set such taxes at just 16.6%.
Chavez indicated that the additional income from the tax hike came to $1.6 billion annually.
The third step in the “petroleum liberation” began in May 2006, when the extraction tax was set at 33% for all petroleum in the country, which brought in an additional $400 million yearly.
The fourth step came in October 2006, when it was established that all oil industries located in the Orinoco region would pay a 50% oil income tax. Chavez noted that up until then, oil companies had paid only 34%, the rate for commercial enterprises less lucrative than petroleum.
This sovereignty measure resulted in an additional 100 million dollars annually for the state coffers.
Chavez also emphasized that the fifth legal measure was adopted on February 26, 2007, with the nationalization of the Orinoco reserves, which had until then been in transnational hands.
“Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) used to hold a 40% stake in those projects and now, as a result of this increase, we hold a 78% stake, which has brought in an additional 800 million dollars,” Chavez explained.
The Bolivarian leader commented that these monies have been distributed via the reactivation of strategic industries in Guayana and Venezuela, via aluminum production, lumber and cement, as well as the air-defence system, the schools, the Bolivarian high schools, the new universities, the health systems of the Barrio Adentro program, and the student assistance program, Fundayacucho, as well as other national development programs.
“Previous governments could not do these things because they were in the pockets of the US,” Chavez concluded.
Sorry about all the numbers, but as you can see, those numbers are eye-popping. That’s a lot of money coming into Venezuela from transnational oil interests–money that used to be pocketed by the oil companies, or disappeared by many of the same people now taking refuge in the United States. According to Venezuelan author Luis Britto Garcia, the amount the oily oligarchy sent out of country before some of them were sacked (just four days before the coup of ’02!) was some $40 billion US per year. Coincidence? Ha! I’ll gladly lay odds that if you googled for anti-Chavez rhetoric in the US media for each of the months that one of those five steps to petro-sovereignty took place, you’d find a sharp spike. Greg Palast, for one, has noted how the rhetoric about a “Chavez dictatorship” crescendoed before and during the above-mentioned coup, as well as the follow-up attempt a few months later.
You’d also find that oil, the elephant in the room, goes completely unmentioned; instead, the rhetoric would fixate on Chavez’s alleged democratic deficits while ignoring the many real democratic progresses Venezuela has made under his leadership. Not a word about the empowerment of communal councils, which are aimed at making democracy more directly accessible to all. And not a kind word about the healthcare and education missions, or Chavez’s programs to make sure poor folks in the US got cheap heating oil from CITGO. No backgrounder whatsoever about the old “democratic” Venezuela, where the only thing that trickled down was not oil wealth but shit. Instead, I guarantee you’ll see plenty of alarmism about Chavez’s military career, especially his failed attempt to overthrow the discredited Carlos Andres Perez (who has threatened that Chavez must “die like a dog”–proving just who is a real tyrant in “democratic” guise).
And on and on and on.
All this is painfully predictable, and even more so when you consider the State Dept.’s numerous false rationales for war in Iraq. Much was made of Saddam’s ghastly human rights record; in many cases his tyranny was grossly inflated or even falsified (the famed “people shredder”, that so many neo-cons trumpeted about, turns out to have been a fake.) Had Saddam’s hanging earlier this year not cut things rather abruptly short, the trial would have revealed some horribly embarrassing facts about just how complicit the US–particularly under the three most recent Republican regimes–was in Saddam’s crimes against humanity. (Don’t believe me? Then ask Barry Lando, he knows.)
But here’s the rub: While Saddam did his worst with impunity as a US puppet dictator, Chavez has done nothing verifiably antidemocratic at all. And he is not a tame fascist dictator, but an unruly, democratic socialist. And a highly popular and effective president.
But there is one thing that Saddam and Chavez have in common, and it’s spelled O-I-L. Gobs of it. Iraq’s reserves were estimated as the second-largest after Saudi Arabia’s, but that’s not taking the Orinoco extra-heavy crude into account. Were that factored in, Venezuela would be the oil-richest country in the world.
It is no coincidence that this massive crapaganda campaign is happening under King George the Dubya. He is a failed oil man, and he has a lot of rich and powerful oil interests to placate for having bailed him out, not to mention pay back for their investment in his political campaign. So of course, it makes sense that he and Condi “Chevron tanker” Rice are eager to demonize any leader who stands in the way of their ultra-rich oil cronies. And to rub him out at the first opportunity they get.
Bluntly put: The war in Iraq is being waged for oil and for profit. The oil war on Venezuela can’t go ahead yet, either because so far nothing can be made to stick to that pesky Chavez–or, more likely, because the harder-to-extract heavy Venezuelan crude is simply not as profitable–and thus not as high a priority as Iraq’s lighter crude. But at some point in the not so distant future, as the Saudis’ rapidly dwindling reserves run dry, it will rise to the top of the agenda. Remember, oil floats.
And that is why the good doggies of the US media are already out in force, pre-emptively howling for Chavecito’s blood right along with
all the disociados and terrorists fleeing Venezuelan justice.