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President Hugo Chavez Frias: Right on! Words well spoken -- now let us see the deeds!

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VHeadline editor & publisher Roy S. Carson writes: While I am not an aviculturalist and could scarcely be described as a culinary expert, the sage words of my mother come to mine that there are more ways than one to cook a goose. Another way of looking at it is that you can always say "Booh!" to a goose but you've got to be aware that it will generally respond with a hiss and a cackle that otherwise has no productive outcome.

The issue for the moment is the farmyard of international politics and how the Bush regime insists on saying booh! to just about everyone it happens, for the moment to disagree with.

Of course the productive outcome that Washington D.C. may be seeking is similar to why the Roman legions took geese with them on their various military campaigns but one cannot help but conjecture that a flock of cackling geese conveys the impression to the farmer that paranoid danger lurks beyond every hedge whether there's a fox on the prowl or not.

For the life of me I cannot see why there should be such a hullabaloo about the Interfax story out of Moscow that Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez Frias may or may not have promised the Russian Federation that he would allow Russia's long-range bombers, military and naval bases to be sited in Venezuela...

Of course the hoary old specter of "communist Cuba" comes to mind in the Cold War paranoia of yesteryear but moving on a few decades and with US bases already sited in Germany, Britain etc., etc., etc., why the necessity of a US Defense Shield when relations between the now-NOT-communist Russian Federation and the United States are relatively hunky-dory? And by what right does the United States decide where another sovereign nation puts its own Defense Shield unless it suspects that its counterparts are equally shameless and deceptive as the war-mongers within the Washington Beltway?

Whether or NOT President Chavez has indeed offered such facilities to the Russians is NOT the real issue! Venezuela's Communications & Information (MinCI) Minister, Andres Izarra was, of course, off the starting line like an intercontinental ballistic missile as soon as word reached him in Caracas that the United States was going into hyper-drive over proposals that the Russians could use an offer of Cuban facilities, and astutely reckoned that the gringos would suck Venezuela and Chavez into the vortex of their Fox News spin. Interfax claims that Chavez did pronounce the words, Izarra denies it ... but what does it matter anyway since the USA-biased news media have taken up the cudgel with the Interfax version whether Andres likes it or not. President Chavez can now deny it until he is blue in the face, but the Interfax version has now been sand-blasted into the minds of those in the United States and elsewhere around the world who bother to give the information even a second thought. The goose has been boohed-to and the whole flock is cackling without knowing what they're really cackling about... Typical!

In this regard, Venezuela is the victim of daily misrepresentations ... "data is limited and people interpret it in quite contrary ways ... information deficit plus skewed interpretations" cause many people to doubt or even reject Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution ... especially if they even cared to inform themselves in the first place.

In an article entitled "Which Way Venezuela?" published in a recent issue of Znet.org, Michael Albert writes that Hugo Chavez became President of Venezuela "largely due to the ravages of neoliberal reforms in the 80s and 90s ... the Venezuelan poverty rate had reached 50% ... the aim and promise of Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution was to not only eliminate rampant, raging, poverty, but to attain a new economic and social system consistent with the highest standards of human fulfillment and development."

Albert is honest enough to preface his article with the information that "the diverse factual reports and other data included are culled from documents made available by the Venezuelan Embassy in the United States" and perhaps for that reason of limitation, he ignores the blatantly negative state of current affairs in Venezuela to concentrate exclusively on the standard pro-Chavez PR with a hint of approved critique to convey a transitory sense of balance.

He says that many skeptics would point out, that words are not deeds ... they matter some, but they become infinitely more important and reliable as evidence if there are deeds in their support and particularly if institutional relations breathe life into the words every day. Agreed, but in the absence of significant deeds the words strike a hollow note and while the Venezuelan Embassy in Wshington DC can spout statistics until the cows come home, it's the perception of average citizens on the highways and byways of Venezuela that matter.

The key, of course, is INFORMATION! For without credible information, the geese will ultimately begin to show signs of discontent and once the raucousness of a cackling flock has begun, it takes time to restore peace and tranquility ... such is the situation today where it is virtually impossible to get official information unless you are pre-approved by the political taskmasters and treated like obscenities if you raise even the slightest hint of investigative disbelief.

Take for example the treatment given to VHeadline's New York correspondent John Sanchez attending a meeting in the Big Apple honored with the presence of Venezuela's Washington Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez and CITGO Petroleum's vice-president Daniel Cortez. John made a legitimate approach to Cortez to ask about a controversy of the siting of the massive CITGO sign in Boston but with the exchange of only a few words was rudely dismissed as "you're an opposition reporter, I won't speak to you!" That dismissal done, John noticed how he was rather dramatically sidelined in any further attempt to speak directly with the Ambassador or to hear the points-of-view of either ... so much so for an open dialogue with the media!

Not that it matters any to us at VHeadline since over the pace of more than a decade we have forged our own contacts inside and outside of the administration, whether they like it or not. But there were better days, like during the April 2002 coup d'etat when Dictator-for-a-Day Pedro Carmona Estange seized power and hustled President Chavez off to seclusion on the Caribbean island of La Orchila. News Editor Patrick O'Donoghue and I worked the phone lines at the Miraflores Presidential Palace to bring minute-by-minute coverage of the drama to our readers while the mainstream US media was whipping itself into euphoria over Chavez' temporary demise. Our unofficial contacts survive throughout the administration despite gag-orders "enforced" by various ministers ... and that's as it should be in a freedom loving press scenario. Perhaps an anathema to Chavez ministerial and ambassadorial teams but nevertheless an essential facet of everyone's aspirations towards true democracy and accountability.

Sadly, it is the increasing use of blatant sectarianism in Venezuelan politics that is doing incredible damage to President Chavez Frias' original concept for Venezuela's future. Having spent my youth as a name-identifiable protestant in thoroughly sectarian Northern Ireland, I've seen the worst excesses of deviant inhumanities man/woman against man/woman in the supposed name of God. Thankfully dialogue, acceptance and willingness to critique has signalled my relationship with colleague News Editor Patrick J. O'Donoghue and his wife -- both practising Roman Catholics -- but had we both not individually escaped the sectarianism which was out birthright(wrong) we would unremittingly be back in the same sorry situation that Venezuela finds itself today, albeit of an un-Christian political nature.

Which is why I wish that good old Andres Izarra and his MinCI team could get over their sectarianism, get down from their high horses and walk awhile with people who also have Venezuela's best interests at heart. In Znet.org Michael Albert asks "Is it that some people have more information to go on? Is it that there is enough information for all, but some read it one way -- and others read it another way due to priori expectations or greater insight? Or is it that the information is vague, and we all tend to read into it based on whether hope or fear is momentarily most active in our consciousnesses?"

He proffers a response saying "I think all these reactions happen -- and regardless of which is dominant, I am certain more information of a probing sort, getting at the heart of aims and methods, would help." Right on! Words well spoken -- now let us see the deeds!

Albert continues: "How does one know which read makes most sense, or even have a truly informed estimate? We must know Venezuela's long term goals and methods as evidenced by structural lasting deeds. We must know how the changes taking place so far are viewed at different levels of society. We must know what steps the changes have involved and, even more so, what steps are in the pipeline to come? But we don't know these things. Do people who confidently say they know where Venezuela is going use tea leaves to read the future? More understandably, do they read into the future based on what they have seen elsewhere in times past -- whether that is, for them, hopeful or fearful?"

In his own words he says "different people see the events in Venezuela differently -- but what is missing to decide with real confidence what we think, is more information about what the goals are, about the extent to which the goals are widely shared and owned by leaders or by everyone, and what the methods are and how they connect up to the goals."

Agreed ... but the way forward is unequivocally NOT through he implementation of more EXclusion on the simple basis of questioning political (or religious) points of view, but rather a comprehensive INclusion where the differences between people are recognized as the essential ingredients of a vibrant democracy to be enjoyed by all people all of the time in their ultimate pursuit of collective happiness and well-being.

Roy S. Carson

Venezuela is facing the most difficult period of its history with honest reporters crippled by sectarianism on top of rampant corruption within the administration and beyond, aided and abetted by criminal forces in the US and Spanish governments which cannot accept the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people to decide over their own future.HELP US TO KEEP BRINGING YOU THE TRUTH
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Roy S. Carson is veteran foreign correspondent (45+ years in the business) currently editor & publisher of VHeadline Venezuela reporting on news & views from and about Venezuela in South America -- available for interviews -- call Houston (more...)
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