Then Hugo Chavez shows up and legitimately rises to power after serving his time in prison for an unwise coup attempt. He busted Shell oil and other US corporate interests there who had long held lopsided and unfair contracts that exploited the vast oil reserves Venezuela is blessed with. Nationalizing their most strategic asset was essential for them to begin building a nation that is now providing health care for all and has now basically eliminated illiteracy along with developing many other benevolent polices toward their South American neighbors.
America on the other hand, stoops to preemptive war to steal the oil of Iraq for the same companies Chavez busted in Venezuela. This incredibly brazen act is still going unaddressed as we, the American people, continue to drive our SUV's and cry bitterly about the price of gas. Meanwhile, I find it totally unacceptable that our newly elected President and Democratic Congress have yet to pointedly say that crimes committed by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, etc. will be fully investigated/prosecuted for the sake of justice.
Chavez shook hands with George W. Bush on their first meeting and said, "I want to be friends." Bush replied, "Me too."
At one point, Chavez offered to fix the price of oil for the US at $50 per barrel and we rebuffed his offer, preferring to let the market set the prices. How well did that work out? Following Katrina and the subsequent price gouging by US oil companies, Chavez helped thousands of homes in the north eastern states with discounted heating oil as a humanitarian gesture and would have provided more had our state department not blocked him.
The US was complicit in a 2002 failed coup attempt of Chavez and then Pat Robertson and others advocated for his assassination. Is it any wonder that Chavez would stand in the UN the day after Bush spoke there and declare that el Diablo had left the stench of sulfur at the podium...especially given Bush's adolescent penchant for rudely farting in the presence of staff and others?
Venezuelan media that has been restricted or nationalized were openly advocating for insurrection and overthrow of Chavez. I don't think that type of journalism is allowed in any nation, yet Chavez is declared a dangerous dictator for shutting them down. He is criticized for nationalizing various Venezuelan industries even while our nation is quaking from a greed driven economic disaster that is resulting in the nationalizing of our financial industry. Who knows where this trend will end? Chavez's bigger than life flamboyant persona, is an easy target for critics in the north, but his South American counter parts generally find him to be a good neighbor.
I hope that Obama brings a new approach and philosophy to the table with Venezuela...one that offers equitable partnerships in trade and security. Our current legitimate national security concerns about Chavez getting cozier with Russia is our own stupid fault as a nation for electing Bush to two terms as President. Continuing to turn a blind eye to his bully cowboy policies toward Venezuela and others that fostered the growing partnership between Chavez and Russia is counter productive to bringing remedial changes to our foreign policies that could yet produce prosperity and peace for all parties concerned.
Does Chavez have flaws in his personality and policies? Of course he does and his worst traits have only been exacerbated by our current policies toward him and the good people of Venezuela. It is time to repent.