Since Chavez took office, he and government officials faced spurious charges and harassment. In September 2006, in fact, departing Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Madura was prevented from boarding his JFK commercial flight. He was heading home after attending a UN General Assembly meeting.
Allegedly his name was on a "red list." Ordered to surrender his ticket, he was then illegally detained and strip-searched, despite explaining his credentials. It was police state thuggery, a US specialty, even against visiting foreign ministers.
At home, he told reporters that police threatened to handcuff and beat him if he resisted. He was held 90 minutes, denied outside contact, including legal help, before being released.
No wonder Chavez got Noguera home before possible similar mistreatment. Rogue state policies define America, even against diplomatic representatives, world leaders and nonbelligerent nations.
Notably, Washington exploited Latin America for generations. Dismissively it's been called America's "backyard." It's also been a US corporate strategic reserve to plunder freely. No longer. New millennium years brought dramatic changes. James Petras calls the 1990s "the golden age of pillage." That's changed.
Mass movements arose like the Brazilian landless workers. Direct actions challenged traditional policies, including enormous wealth transfers to US banks and other corporate interests.
Centrist or left of center governments were elected in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. To some degree, they asserted independence, especially under Chavez. No wonder he's targeted for regime change.
Notably it's about oil. In 2010, OPEC said Venezuela had proved reserves of 296.5 barrels, surpassing Saudi Arabia's 264.5 barrels. Former Venezuelan National Assembly Commission of Energy and Oil head Luis Acuna said the nation has about $20 trillion in proved reserves.
The US Geological Survey estimates a mean recoverable 513 billion barrels in Venezuela's Orinoco Oil Belt, mainly heavy oil.
By any measure, Venezuela's oil rich. Washington wants it. As a result, Chavez, like Iran, is targeted. Spurious accusations follow. Media scoundrels regurgitate them. Opposition elements get generous funding.
In October, Chavez will stand for reelection. Throughout his tenure, he's been enormously popular. His approval rating hovers around 60%. In October 2011, Bloomberg said IVAD's poll (Institute de Analisis de Data) had him at 71%.
A February open primary will chose his opponent from a rogue's gallery of choices. Former Sumate president, Maria Corina Machado, is among them. Venezuela Analysis calls her "possibly the most right-wing conservative voice" contesting. For years she's been generously funded for being close to Washington.
Her campaign calls for "Popular Capitalism." Chile's Pinochet and Britain's Margaret Thatcher used the same theme. In office, they promoted misery. Whoever runs against Chavez in October will represent wealth and power interests. As a result, expect him to remain in office until 2019, health permitting, and he claims he's recovering well from cancer.
Washington continues war on him. False accusations follow. Expect no letup in 2012, especially with presidential elections in both countries.
America's duopoly offers no choice. Under Chavez, Venezuelans have direct democracy and social justice. Don't expect they'll give them up.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Email address removed .