VHeadline commentarist Jose Herrera writes: First of all, this editorial comment is written with absolutely no intention of introducing inappropriate comments about past US administrations ... although, perhaps, it will mention some of the true and worrisome things that have been done by past US administrations with regards to Latin America.
Latin American people such as myself, trust that the Obama administration will fulfill the ideal of the US being a land of free people a lot more because being "free" necessarily implies allowing everyone else to be free. Barack Obama seem to have this same criterion and the entire world acknowledges, with pleasure, that his administration has decided to face the challenge of closing the Guantanamo torture center in Cuba.
Similarly, it's good to see how Mr. Obama has backed away from some truly unfair limitations placed on Cuba, specifically regarding the access of US currency to its economy.
Aware of his intentions, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez presumably decided to give Mr. Obama a book that constitutes a good source for developing a "to-do list" for Latin America ... the first thing is to check what other books have become famous thanks to President Chavez. To name just one: 'Hegemony or Survival' by Noam Chomsky is a good source of ideas for a President like Mr. Barack Obama.
It's important that the famous handshake took place between President Chavez and President Obama ... the global right-wing has been outraged on their TV networks and will be all the more obvious about it in their continued fury ... it's worrisome for SOME that these two characters in the history of US-Venezuelan politics shook hands and talked a bit during the Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain. It's necessary for them to keep you from achieving a mutual understanding with Chavez which may, basically, mean a formal State Visit from one to the other at any point.
Please Mr. Obama, do NOT let the US mass media poison you in your revolutionary quest!
Personally, I consider it a great priority to extend my own concept of who President Hugo Chavez really is:
1989: Just two months after then-President Carlos Andres Perez (CAP) signed a package of economic agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which established heavy cuts in social spending in Venezuela, the 'Caracazo' took place ... not only in Caracas but across the country as the Venezuelan people faced the worst economic scenarios in their lives. Overnight they found that they did not have enough money to buy food, so they went out into the streets, many of them taking things away from stores without paying. The police were the first to shoot at "looters" ... followed by the military ... and among the military, was a group of men who were terribly confused when they realized that they had been sent to kill their own families who were left starving thanks to the economic situation that the IMF agreements had imposed.
Chavez ... although he had not personally participated in El Caracazo since he was ill at home in bed at the time ... had already begun meeting secretly with others who were totally at odds with what had obviously become "a let's pretend" democracy that been imposed exclusively to satisfy US administrations ... starting with Reagan's ... whose greed for oil was wholly oblivious to any regard for the people of Venezuela ... oil was being gushed to the United States at incredibly cheap prices that were wholly unsustainable.
The corrupt Punto Fijo alliance of Accion Democratica (AD) and the Christian Socialists (COPEI) was exposed for the sham of democracy that it had become. AD/COPEI administrations lived on the riches of oil revenues and seldom enforced tax laws ... it was usual to hear people say that paying taxes was simply stupid. In short: Venezuela was driven into bankruptcy and it became necessary for Carlos Andres Perez (now living in luxury exile in New York) to call the IMF and ask them for financial resources to save his political skin after Jaime Lusinchi's excesses.
The IMF conditioned any support on the application of economic measures that would, supposedly, help Venezuela pay its debt back but Chavez and many others have described the enforced IMF agreements as "suicide notes" for any country to sign!
The IMF loan conditions were mainly designed to force Venezuela to have more and more people become poor enough to create a national sweat shop. There were no conditions of taxation, regulation in favor of the oppressed population and no public policies that would lead to a better-educated society. This is what is currently happening in several countries in Latin America that remain in the clutches of the IMF as well as in the Caribbean and Mexico. It's terrible to watch from the distance how some productive economies simply collapse in the face of powerful multinational juggernauts corporations that take over national markets, very often in just a matter of weeks. By 1992, the economic conditions in Venezuela had significantly worsened ... there were too many workers who had been made unemployed since 1989. Banking laws were lax and interest rates had already reached levels that caused the suicide of many hard-working people.
On February 4, 1992, there was civil/military upheaval that made the AD/COPEI system shake in its boots for just one second. Paratrooper Hugo Chavez had led the attempted takeover of Venezuela by the Army! President Carlos Andres Perez sent part of the Air Force to heavily shoot down poor populations throughout the country and blamed it all on Chavez ... that was just before Chavez appeared on TV to publicly announce his surrender and to say that he had "Por Ahora!" ("for now!") failed in his endeavor to take over the Presidency!
Chavez became instantly both infamous and famous that early morning and, today, some people say that Chavez' first hundred words on television on February 4, 1992 was the pilot show for the now very well-known weekly 'Alo Presidente' TV show he anchors live each Sunday.
It took the IMF some 6 years more for Venezuela to have enough poor people sufficiently incensed as they had been in 1992 to do something to secure their future ... they did not take up arms against the governments of (interim president) Ramon J. Velasquez or Rafael Caldera because Chavez had told them on TV to go back home and wait for "the moment." He said clearly that his coup attempt had been frustrated and that was why he had surrendered to the authorities to avoid further bloodshed. He went to prison while, subsequently, Carlos Andres Perez was sentenced (because of his old age) to house arrest in his own luxurious home at Oripoto in the south of Caracas despite the fact that he had been proved to have embezzled multi-$ million from public funds. It reported, later, that he frequently used his home helipad to fly a helicopter on leisure trips and meals in Caribbean islands while supposedly "in custody."
Carlos Andres Perez had been President of Venezuela twice with the AD party in 1974 through 1979. Rafael Caldera, had been President from 1969 through 1974 with the COPEI party, and won the presidency again in elections in1994. Chavez remained in prison a further two years until Caldera pardoned him in 1996 ... some speculate that Chavez was pardoned because he was already a leader and too many people had formally requested him to be pardoned.