[...] The social movements are now a decisive force in every Latin American country - even in the state of fear that is the Colombia of Alvaro Uribe Velez, Bush's most loyal vassal. Last month, indigenous movements marched through every one of Colombia's 32 provinces demanding an end to "an evil as great as the gun": neo-liberalism. All over Latin America, Hugo Chavez is the modern Bolivar. People admire his political imagination and his courage. Only he has had the guts to describe the United States as a source of terrorism and Bush as Senor Peligro (Mr Danger). He is very different from Fidel Castro, whom he respects. Venezuela is an extraordinarily open society with an unfettered opposition - that is rich and still powerful. On the left, there are those who oppose the state, in principle, believe its reforms have reached their limit, and want power to flow directly from the community. They say so vigorously, yet they support Chavez. A fluent young arnarchist, Marcel, showed me the clinic where the two Cuban doctors may have saved his girlfriend. (In a barter arrangement, Venezuela gives Cuba oil in exchange for doctors).
At the entrance to every barrio there is a state supermarket, where everything from staple food to washing up liquid costs 40 per cent less than in commercial stores. Despite specious accusations that the government has instituted censorship, most of the media remains violently anti-Chavez: a large part of it in the hands of Gustavo Cisneros, Latin America's Murdoch, who backed the failed attempt to depose Chavez. What is striking is the proliferation of lively community radio stations, which played a critical part in Chavez's rescue in the coup of April 2002 by calling on people to march on Caracas.
While the world looks to Iran and Syria for the next Bush attack, Venezuelans know they may well be next. On 17 March, the Washington Post reported that Feliz Rodriguez, "a former CIA operative well-connected to the Bush family" had taken part in the planning of the assassination of the President of Venezuela. On 16 September, Chavez said, "I have evidence that there are plans to invade Venezuela. Furthermore, we have documentation: how many bombers will over-fly Venezuela on the day of the invasion... the US is carrying out manoeuvres on Curacao Island. It is called Operation Balboa." Since then, leaked internal Pentagon documents have identified Venezuela as a "post-Iraq threat" requiring "full spectrum" planning.
The old-young man in the jeep, Beatrice and her healthy children and Celedonia with her "new esteem", are indeed a threat - the threat of an alternative, decent world that some lament is no longer possible. Well, it is, and it deserves our support.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
"an evil as great as the gun"
John Pilger: The Rise of America's New Enemy