Communication & Information (Minci) Minister Blanca Eekhout has held a press conference insisting that Venezuela seeks peace both in Venezuela and Colombia.
The conference was part of a government counter-attack to charges launched by Brazil's Senate that postponed approval for Venezuela's entry into the Southern Cone Economic Zone (Mercosur) and the Colombian Foreign Ministry's decision to accuse Chavez at the UN for threatening Colombia with war.
President Chavez has used several public events to explain what he actually meant when he told military officers last Sunday to prepare for war. The phrase he used was an old adage learned in every military academy that "if you want peace, prepare for war." The proverb comes from Roman times and Latin "Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum." The opposition and international press blew the statement out of context.
Minister Eekhout tackled the matter as media minister, showing statistics that around 75% of recent articles on Venezuela published by the international press are negative. The sample monthly survey is taken from pieces written in 14 South American broadsheets, eight European and, surprisingly, just three US broadsheets.
Positive pieces gonged a meager 5% and very positive a poor 1%.
When asked about Brazil's intermediation offer, Eekhout said any help is welcome but Venezuela doesn't need any mediators because dialogue to ease tensions must be direct with the United States of America whom she accuses of employing the double morality of spouting peace overtures while in practice installing military bases.
The Minister made a passionate appeal to the United States to remove its bases and to respect Colombia's sovereignty.
Setting up military bases in Colombia, she quipped, is not a sign of wanting peace. Perhaps what she failed to add was that the US is also taking to heart the ancient Latin saying from its imperial perspective.
There were bitter words for Venezuela's opposition private media because she declared that they are all unconditionally in favor of the bases by remaining silent or slamming the President for his si vis pacem, para bellum remark, unlike Colombia where some newspapers have raised doubts about their country's agreement with the USA.
The Minister countered charges maintaining that Venezuela's defense of its sovereignty is not a war plan.
Furthermore, she stated, President Chavez tells the truth when he reflects with his people during Sunday radio/TV shows. Colombia must be saved and Venezuela supports peace initiatives to end the long internal war that has spilled over into Venezuela with violence, drug-trafficking and paramilitaries.
Venezuela, she contended, is combating the psychological media war that the USA via Colombia is waging on Venezuela by spreading lies and taking the President's remarks out of context.
The National Assembly has just come out supporting President Chavez' denunciation of the military bases.
Tomorrow, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) has organized mass rallies, especially in border areas, repudiating the military bases.
Patrick J. O'Donoghue