"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Friday, March 18, 2005

Foreign Chavs not toeing line

Dear Mr. Clifton,

Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

However Mr. Chavez's domestic policy is in many respects a huge part of his foreign policy and as such affects his diplomatic relations. While I understand the piece was not intended to give "an in-depthcountry-by-country analysis" it could still have been more clear/fair in its sweeping statements:

"the US knows that even if some of Latin America's leaders have embraced anti-American rhetoric - such as President Lula of Brazil -the reality has been very different."

"That is why anti-American rhetoric is successful for Latin Americapoliticians even if it does not seem to have affected the policies that much."

After which particular reference is made to Venezuela, in order to intimate that although Mr. Chavez has "embraced" "anti-American rhetoric" his policies have not shown the same tone.

What I attempted to show was that in a huge number of his policies, he has gone in an obviously "anti-American" direction. Such as reversing the "Privatization, public spending cuts, liberalization, and deregulation" employed by President Carlos Andres Perez.

While the piece focuses on rhetoric travelling north, it leads us to believe the US is unconcerned, however, referring to Chavez in a January 26 speech to a US Senate foreign relations committee, Ricesaid that Bush administration was "very concerned about a democratically elected leader who governs in an illiberal way."

Also "Director of the CIA, Peter Goss, publicly targeting Venezuela asthe leading Latin America nation the US is concerned about and a TV documentary run by Fox News in early February under the title The Iron Fist of Hugo Chavez."

To understand what Ms. Rice means by illiberal we only have to look at how Mr. Chavez treats those defenceless entities, the US corporation:

"Chavez is leading a popular process known as the "Bolivarian revolution" that is challenging US domination in the region and redistributing wealth and political power to the 80% of Venezuelans who live in poverty. Venezuela supplies up to 15% of US oil imports and the US purchases upto 60% of Venezuela's oil output. A key goal of the Chavez government has been ensuring full government control over Venezuela's oil industry in order to use its earnings to eradicate poverty. This has put Venezuela at odds with US oil corporations, and therefore at odds with the US government.

In November, Chavez announced that his government would begin to enforce the law passed in 2001 that calls for a dramatic increase in the royalties foreign corporations pay to the Venezuelan government the increase and is considering mounting a legal challenge, according to a February 28 Venezuela Analysis report."

"The Venezuelan government has also begun cracking down on corporate tax evasion, fining and temporarily closing down businesses that fail to obey the law. McDonald's and Coca-Cola have been two high-profile targets of the campaign, forced to shut down their operations inVenezuela this year for two days for failing to have their books in order. "

While Mr. Chavez has embraced anti-American rhetoric, his policies have indeed backed up that rhetoric. It is these very policies that aim to address the fact that "Much of poor Latin America relies on its rich northern neighbour for trade and economic assistance." As it is well known that "the US rewards thosecountries that pursue economic as well as democratic reforms - so it pays to be friendly. Most Latin American governments continue to pursue policies that are favourable to US economic interests."However, it is also well known that US rewards rarely (if ever) trickle down to "much [of] poor Latin America."

Chavez, anti-American rhetoric, diplomatic relations and reality couldn't be made clearer.

"If there is any aggression, there will be no oil," Chavez, "We want to supply oil to the US. We're not going to avoid this supply of oil unless US government gets a little bit crazy and tries to hurt us."(1)

Yours sincerely,

1. AlJazeera


Many thanks for your note.

Chavez's domestic record was not really the topic of the piece.

The point of the piece was to look at diplomatic relations between the US and Latin America not go into an in-depth country-by-country analysis of the efficacy of certain policies.

I have asked Mr Beale about the complaint, and he adds... I did say that "even if SOME Latin Americans leaders have embraced Anti American rhetoric such as President Lula of Brazil, the reality has been very different". I then, under the banner "why the US should be more concerned" point out that Chavez has been more aggressive to the US - though the US still continues to be biggest buyer of its oil. Thank you for your interest in our efforts.

Yours sincerely,

Pete CliftonEditor, BBC News Interactive

Dear Mr. Clifton,

Jonathan Beale writes in his article "US unconcerned by left-wing leaders" that:

"That is why anti-American rhetoric is successful for Latin America politicians even if it does not seem to have affected the policies that much."

Citing Venezuela as the most obvious example of this "fact":

"Anti-American sentiment is most obvious in Venezuela."Could this statement be considered accurate considering the actual changes Mr. Chavez has implemented since his coming to power? Here is a "brief" account of some of his work:

(Followed by info from previous Venezuela post)

Yours sincerely,

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