Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez welcomed a delegation of U.S. African-American activists and said that his country will not tolerate any intervention from Washington, in response to negative comments from U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.
|Actor Danny Glover shares a good laugh with TransAfrica Forum President Bill Fletcher (left) and Venezuelan Ambassador to the U.S. Bernardo Alvarez (right) during President Hugo Chavez’s weekly television program on January 11.|
Photo: C. Delgado
Caracas, Venezuela. January 11, 2004 (Venezuelanalysis.com) — A delegation of U.S.-based African-American activists members of the TransAfrica Forum, led by activist Bill Fletcher and actor Danny Glover, participated in President Hugo Chavez’s weekly television program, “Hello Mr. President”. TransAfrica president Bill Fletcher, expressed his appreciation for the Venezuelan president’s recognition of the great African American civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his gratefulness to be a part of the Venezuelan movement. President Chavez told the TransAfrica members, “We are all Brothers”, during the 177 th edition of the presidential program.
Acclaimed actor Danny Glover emphasized how Martin Luther King, Jr. always highlighted the importance of education and fought for equal education rights for all citizens. He recapped King’s mantra that education provides citizens access to resources and access to democracy, as well as access to improve their lives. Glover stated that real democracy is not extended to just a few, but to all and that injustice to one is an injustice to all. He further said how pleased he was to participate in the inauguration of the Bolivarian School Martin Luther King Jr., alongside Minister of Education, Aristóbulo Isturíz, on Friday in Naiguatá.
Later in the program, President Chávez suggested to actor Danny Glover that he make a movie about ‘el negro Andresote,’ a slave who organized a rebellion against slave owners in Venezuela. Glover responded, “it’s a deal!”
“We will defend our dignity and sovereignty against the United States”
After welcoming the TransAfrica delegation on his nationally broadcast program, President Chávez exclaimed that Venezuela will defend its “dignity and sovereignty against the United States,” in response to recent statements made by U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. President Chávez responded to Rice’s statements that he and Cuban President Fidel Castro were destabilizing the Latin American Region, by claiming that Ms. Rice, ‘must be illiterate’ because “she does not know how to read the reality of our people.”
|Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez rejected U.S. officials comments about Venezuelan internal affairs during his weekly television program on January 11, 2004.|
Photo: G. Wilpert
In response to earlier U.S. State Department officials’ comments that Venezuela was undermining governments throughout Latin America and contributed to the recent downfall of Bolivian President Sanchez de Lozada, President Chavez said that it is not his government that is contributing to the instability of other governments in Latin America, but that it is the economic policies that the U.S. government is championing. The collapse of the Argentinian and Bolivian governments cannot be attributed to Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba or to him, but rather to the results of neo-liberal economic policies in the hemisphere, and that such an agenda would never work in Venezuela. Chavez further declared that the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas FTAA was another method of Washington to impose this agenda on Latin American nations, but that it would not succeed.
Rice’s comments “irrelevant”
Chávez also stated that Rice’s comments on the referendum were irrelevant, because it is an issue pertaining only to Venezuelans and he questioned whether Rice was truly a believer in democracy and if so, how could she have congratulated the coup leaders on April 12, 2002 and welcomed them as the ‘leaders’ of Venezuela. The Venezuelan president further expressed his confidence in the National Electoral Council (CNE) to review and certify only those valid signatures on petitions requesting a recall referendum on his mandate. He declared that it has already been discovered that 64,000 petitions of those presented by the opposition were not registered with the CNE nor collected within the regulations and therefore should be declared invalid. He also denounced other irregularities in connection with these petitions and stated that once the CNE completes its job and announces that the opposition did not obtain the necessary 2.4 million signatures, that Washington will try to proclaim Chávez “anti-democratic.”
Based on that assumption, President Chávez alerted the Bolivarian people and people of Latin American that “we will not permit intervention of anyone in our internal issues just because Washington disagrees with the CNE’s decision. We have to trust the CNE as an arbitrator.” He further said that he will repeat these statements in the upcoming hemispheric gathering in Monterrey, Mexico this week and “will say it to the whole world that we will not tolerate intervention from Washington or any other foreign nation in Venezuela.” Chávez emphasized that Venezuela has its own laws and regulations that are clear and Venezuelans correspond to these laws as a democratic nation.