Caracas, Venezuela, July 20, 2006—Shortly before his departure on a seven country international tour, Venezuela’s President Chavez denounced Israel’s bombing of Lebanon, discussed south-south cooperation, and emphasized the need for a multi-polar world. He spoke at Maquetía (Caracas) International Airport before boarding a plane to Argentina, which will be only the first stop of his international tour.
Foremost on his mind was the current crisis in the Middle East. He criticized Israel’s actions, the responses of many other nations and the media’s coverage of the events,
“They are bombing entire cities, it is a true genocide. Where will this madness end? God only knows! It extends from Iraq to Lebanon and Palestine. Let’s hope it doesn’t spread further.”
“The most virulent, loud, and high-handed critics of North Korea are the same ones that, in view of Israeli aggression against innocent men, women and children, say nothing.”
He also addressed the media’s use of language in their reporting of Israel’s attacks on Lebanon and Palestine, singling out CNN for special treatment, CNN doesn’t “speak of invasion, they don’t speak of aggression, they don’t speak of any of that, [they speak of] the conflict, and the Isreali army against the terrorists.”
Chávez has long been a vocal proponent of the sanctity of national sovereignty and a fierce critic of US foreign policy which he brands simply as imperialism. His government has criticized CNN in the past and has created a cable TV channel named Telesur which offers an alternative for Latin American viewers to the “North American-centric” CNN in Spanish.
In a direct swipe at the US, their recent veto of a UN resolution that demanded a halt to Israel’s offensive in Gaza came into the firing line. From there, he glided smoothly on to the subject of his government’s campaign to win a seat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
“They have stabbed the Middle East peace process in the heart, and we see a security council blocked by the power of the veto, that of the government of the United States especially.”
If Venezuela could occupy a seat on the council he said he hoped they would be able to, “Contribute modestly towards the battle to free the world from the imperialist threat”.
Unsurprisingly, the US government is strongly opposed to Venezuela’s campaign for the seat and is campaigning hard for Guatemala to take the one to be vacated by Argentina later this year. Guatemala is seen as a government that will not cause trouble for the US, unlike Venezuela.
Chávez praised Russia, though, and he mourned the death of the old Soviet Union. In the view of Chávez it seems Russia should be a regional power in a multi-polar world and he wants Venezuela to develop strong economic ties with her. “Let’s see what a great scientific and technological contribution Russia is going to give us with the installation of the munitions factory, the armament factory, because it’s not only the armament, the product, it is the processes applied to many other fields,” said Chavez.
His time in Argentina will be spent at a Mercosur Summit, the first for Venezuela since becoming a full member earlier this month. He reiterated his desire for a more “social” Mercosur.
After Argentina he will head to Belarus, Russia, Qatar, Iran, Vietnam, and Mali.
There have been some complaints that he should be staying at home as there are enough problems to solve in Venezuela. A number of residents of Coche, in the south of Caracas, where there have been more than five gangland murders since the weekend, say he should be sorting out the problem of insecurity in their area.
Elsewhere on the domestic front Chávez announced that National Assembly Deputy Francisco Ameliach would be managing the upcoming presidential election campaign. Ameliach will leave his post as Deputy during that period.