Venezuela in Washington's Crosshairs - by Stephen Lendman
Washington fears Hugo Chavez for good reason. His "good example" threat raises concerns that other regional leaders may follow. As a result, throughout his tenure, he's been targeted and vilified - to discredit, weaken and undermine his government to destroy Bolivarian benefits millions of Venezuelans now enjoy, won't easily give up, nor should they.
Several failed coup attempts included:
-- April 2002 for two days, an effort aborted by mass street protests and support from many in Venezuela's military, especially from the middle-ranking officer corp;
-- the 2002 - 2003 general strike and oil management lockout, causing severe economic disruption and billions of dollars in losses; and
-- the August 2004 national recall referendum that Chavez won overwhelmingly with a 59% majority.
Thereafter, disruptions regularly followed to help domestic and US oligarchs regain what they lost, so far without success, but they persist, with supportive editorial, op-ed, and on-the-ground reporting. Also from an Organization of American States (OAS) report, the Vision of Humanity's annual Global Peace Index (GPI), US State Department, and Pentagon.
On March 19, Reuters reported that, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, General Douglas Fraser, USSOUTHCOM (US Southern Command) head, claimed Chavez backs Colombian leftists, saying:
His government "continue(s) to have a very anti-US stance and look(s) to try and restrict US activity wherever they have the opportunity to do that. (It's) continuing to engage with the region....and continuing to pursue (its) socialism agenda. (It) remain(s) a destabilizing force in the region."
He said Venezuela continues to support FARC-EP rebels, providing "financial logistical support" and a safe haven based on evidence found on a laptop seized in a 2008 Ecuadorean guerrilla camp raid - information later proved bogus.
Yet a week earlier, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Fraser testified otherwise, saying:
"We have not seen any connections specifically that I can verify that there has been a direct government-to-terrorist connection" between Chavez and either the FARC-EP or the Basque separatist group ETA. "We have continued to watch very closely for any connections between illicit and terrorist organization activity within the region. We are concerned about it. I'm skeptical. I continue to watch for it," but as yet haven't found it.
During her March 1 - 5 Latin American tour, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gratuitously insulted Chavez. So did Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, in Senate testimony, accusing him of FARC-EP ties - suggesting much more to come to boost opposition candidates in September parliamentary elections.
US State Department 2009 Human Rights Report: Venezuela
Released on March 11, it followed earlier ones, bogusly accusing Chavez of:
-- harassing and intimidating political opponents;