|Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, gives a speech at an event to promote State purchases from medium, small bussinesses and cooperatives.|
Recently declassified documents have recently revealed that Washington is providing funds through the National Endowment for Democracy to groups seeking to oust the South American leader. Though Washington has acknowledged providing the funds, it denied that they are directed to groups seeking to oust Chavez, but rather to promote democracy. The President said that one of the recipients of the U.S. aid is SUMATE, the company that organized the recall referendum petition drive against him last November. Other groups listed in the declassified documents have links to the political opposition to Chavez. The President said that the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy has provided funds to the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers union, and other groups that participated in the 2002 coup d’etat against him.
U.S. government finances conspiracy
“The Venezuelan government and the organizations that support it don’t need any money from the United States because we have dignity and sovereignty,” said Chavez, adding that the U.S. government is using the American people’s money to finance political opposition and conspiratorial activities to overthrow the Venezuelan government. Chavez demanded “respect for Venezuela.”
“Apart from having lots of oil, Venezuela has abundant dignity,” he said, adding that the people of Venezuela is willing to defend the country’s independence, its land, skies and sea “at any cost, even if it cost U.S. our lives, because this is a free and independent country”
Bush administration behind 2002 coup
Chavez accused the U.S. government of being involved in the April 2002 coup d’etat against his government. “They met with rebel military officers, U.S. military officers acted in the coup, we have photos and evidence,” said Chavez. “The U.S. ambassador was at the Presidential Palace after the coup to applaud the dictator [Pedro Carmona]. The government of the United States must answer before the world about the deaths that occurred here in April of 2002,” added Chavez, saying that the Bush administration had a responsibility in the Puente Llaguno (Llaguno Bridge) massacre that helped trigger the coup.
The U.S. alleged involvement in the coup against Chavez has been documented by Newsweek, the New York Times and other mainstream media outlets. The U.S. was slow to condemn the coup, in sharp contrast with other countries in the hemisphere that refused to give recognition to the dictator who briefly replaced Chavez. At the time, the U.S. blamed Chavez for his own downfall.
U.S. lies about Venezuela
Chavez accused Washington of lying about his government, saying that Venezuela hosts guerrillas and supports terrorists; in the same way it lied to justify the war on Iraq. “Soon they may say that Bin Laden is hiding in here,” said Chavez who sympathized with U.S. soldiers by saying that they were lied to by the U.S. government in on order to sent them to war. “They told them that Iraq had chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction. They lied to the world, to the American people, and to Europe.” Chavez argues that the U.S. is preparing a campaign aimed at discredit his government in order to justify a new coup.
What does Bush have to do with a recall referendum in Venezuela?, asked Chavez, reminding the audience about Bush’s promise at the recent Monterrey Presidential Summit of “ensuring the integrity of the presidential recall and referendum” in Venezuela. Chavez asked Bush to worry about the poor, about Social Security, and racial discrimination in the U.S., and not about Venezuela.
“DeShazo is lying”
Chavez accused the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Peter DeShazo, of lying, by claiming that U.S. funds have not only gone to opposition groups but also to pro-Chavez organizations. “I challenge him to say which organizations sympathetic to the (Venezuelan) government have received money from them,” said Chavez. DeShazo visited the country on Monday and urged electoral authorities who are validating signatures gathered to demand a recall referendum on Chavez and other elected officials, not to violate the peoples’ will due to “technicalities”.
Venezuela’s National Electoral Council is reviewing hundred of thousands of petition forms that appear to present irregularities. Chavez argued that the term “excessive technicalities” is being used to put pressure on electoral authorities to accept petitions filled by minors, foreigners, by third parties using death people’s data, and by people who signed several times. “Are those excessive technicalities or ‘excessive fraud-acalities’,” asked Chavez who on Sunday presented copies of forms with all 10 signature slots filled by the same person, an indication of fraud.
The President said to be astounded at the fact that international observers currently overseeing the signature validation process in Venezuela, have not commented on the “abundant” proof of fraud presented by him or groups that support his government.
Chavez criticized DeShazo for not expressing any preoccupation at the fact that no single leader of the opposition has vowed to respect any decision that electoral authorities may make with regard to the referendum, even if not in their favor.
FTAA: an imperialist project
The President said that in modern times no flotilla of ships like Christopher Columbus’ or Marines are needed by superpowers to invade countries, as the invasion now is done in economic terms. “This economic invasion is aimed at taking our countries, our present, and especially our future, and turn us into colonies. That is the intention of the world’s elites.”
Chavez argued that programs such the one implemented by his government to favor small and medium-sized businesses and cooperatives, would be impossible under the FTAA. “Programs of State purchases such as this one would be impossible within the framework of Neoliberalism and the FTAA,” he said.
“A country under assault cannot remain silent,” said Chavez, adding “I really ask the government of the United States to dedicate to solve it own problems and let Venezuelans solve our problems.”
Chavez’s speech followed a long string of statements about Venezuela from Washington in recent months, which Venezuela says interfere in the country’s internal affairs. Statements from Washington officials have increased in recent weeks at the same time that Chavez’s popularity continues to grow, and signatures are being reviewed by elections officials for a possible recall referendum. The U.S. maintains that its only intentions are to help find a Constitutional and peaceful solution to the Venezuelan political crisis.