Will Venezuelan Destabilization Follow the Honduran Coup? - by Stephen Lendman
After ten and a half years in office, Hugo Chavez is very savvy about America's intentions. On January 17, even before Obama's inauguration, he said "Barack Obama has the 'stench' of his predecessor as US president and was at risk of being killed if he tries to change the American 'empire.' "
He added that frayed ties with Washington were unlikely to improve despite the departure of Bush, the man he called the 'devil.' Now there's a new "devil" with his fingerprints all over the June 28 Honduran coup. More on that below.
At a January political rally on a historic Venezuela battlefield, Chavez said "I hope I am wrong, but I believe Obama brings the same stench, to not say another word" and do little to change his predecessor's policies.
After earlier hoping for better US - Venezuelan relations, he reacted to Obama's rhetoric, accusing him of obstructing Latin American progress and exporting terrorism. In late March on his Sunday radio/television program (Alo Presidente), he voiced the same concern in calling Obama an "ignoramus" and suggested "he should read and study a little to understand reality....the obstacle to development in Latin America has been the empire (he) preside(s) over today."
Its State Department February 25, 2009-released "2008 Human Rights Report: Venezuela" provided more proof. While calling Venezuela a "constitutional democracy," it accused the government of outrageous, groundless offenses:
(1) Numerous human rights abuses, including:
-- arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life; mistreating prisoners in custody; unlawful killings by security forces; disappearances; torture and abuse of detainees; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrests and detentions; denial of fair public trials; incarcerating political prisoners; violating personal privacy; and more.
(2) censuring the press and free speech, including
-- harassing the private media; using government-controlled outlets to air unsubstantiated charges against their owners; using a pro-government organization to fire tear gas canisters at Globovision's headquarters; and changing the penal code to make criticizing the president a crime.
(3) numerous other charges were over:
-- compromising Internet freedom;
-- free assembly, association, and movement;
-- limiting religious freedom and attacking Catholic bishops and the Papal Nuncio for commenting on political issues;
-- protection of refugees;