Eva Golinger: Venezuela is a very wealthy country in oil and gas reserves. It’s actually one of the largest oil producers in the world. It has over 24% of oil reserves in the entire world. That’s a lot for a country of 27 million people. And of course it lies close to the United States…. It’s only two and a half hours approximately to fly to Miami, and in fact Venezuela’s maritime territory borders US territory: it borders the colony of Puerto Rico. So, this is a very strategic place.
Traditionally, there have been governments before Hugo Chávez who were subservient to US interests. In fact, over 40 years after the fall of the last dictatorship in 1958, pretty much the governments here in place were clients of the United States. It was a client state. By the time Chávez came to power in 1998, Venezuela had pretty much privatized most of its industries that had been public industries, including communications, electricity, basic social services, heathcare. And the oil industry was on its way to being privatized and of course it could be privatized and handed over to US corporations. So, Chávez comes to power and he changes all of that. And he actually wins with a huge majority in 1998…. The majority of Venezuelans voted for him precisely because they were sick and tired of the old corrupt system that had kept increasing poverty and basically destroying the country and its infrastructure. So this all begins to change when he gets power. . . . New laws are implemented, agrarian reform, redistribution of oil wealth and that of the whole hydrocarbon industry…. This begins to affect really powerful interests, not just in Venezuela but outside Venezuela….
Throughout the 20th century, the US fought bitterly the rise of communism in this hemisphere. It has blockaded inhumanely Cuba for over 50 years and tried to isolate it. It installed dictatorships in the rest of the region in the sixties, the seventies, and the eighties in order to prevent the spread of communism. Now here we have a government in the 21st century with all its oil wealth, its tremendous popularity, talking again about implementing an economic system that prioritizes social needs and redistributing the wealth, at the same time maintaining its tremendous oil production and branching out… with other countries in the world like China, Russia, and Iran, in the end helping to change the balance of power and to lesson the influence and control of the US empire over the world.
All of this obviously affects tremendously these powerful interests, inside the United States particularly but also around the world, and they use their media power to control and try to demonize the image of President Chávez. It’s much easier to try to remove a president from power or encourage regime change in a country if you can say that that head of state that you wanna overthrow is a terrible person, a demon doing awful things, a dictator. That’s part of what this campaign against the person of Hugo Chávez in the international media has really been about. Here, I’ve been living in Caracas for over five years, and I can tell you this is the furthest thing from any kind of dictatorship. It’s also not communism, whatsoever. We are on a path to implementing a new sort of social model that we’re calling “socialism of the 21st century” but it’s really a combination of capitalism and socialism. We’re trying to figure out what works best here in Venezuela….
My opinion is that Obama’s administration is much more dangerous towards Latin America than Bush’s was, because with Bush we didn’t have military bases being built right next to Venezuela. There’s been a rapid escalation in aggression towards particularly Venezuela but also Cuba…. We have the case of the coup in Honduras against President Zelaya. That was a total scheme concocted by Washington, with its allies of course, right-wing economic elite in Honduras and multinationals, and yet they used what they call “smart power” — Hillary Clinton and Obama’s new strategy, as opposed to “soft power” and “hard power” — to confuse heads of state in the region and the media. They used this discourse of condemning the coup but not pushing for the reinstatement of President Zelaya, all kinds of things, really to buy time, in the process that went on so long that the coup eventually got consolidated, and the US in the end stepped forward as pretty much the only country that recognizes the illegal government in Honduras, funding and supporting it. Now it’s all come out. But in the first few months a lot of people were very wary of blaming the Obama administration for any role in that coup in Honduras, which is incredible, because there hasn’t been one single coup d’état in Latin America throughout history that hasn’t been somehow managed and ordered by Washington….
Eva Golinger is the author of The Chávez Code: Cracking U.S. Intervention in Venezuela and Bush versus Chávez: Washington’s War on Venezuela. This interview was broadcast on 10 January 2010. Read Golinger’s blog Postcards from the Revolution at www.chavezcode.com. Visit the Web site of Cindy Sheehan’s Soap Box: www.cindysheehanssoapbox.com. The text above is an edited partial transcript of the interview.