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White House Venezuela Error Backfires

White House Venezuela Error Backfires

White House Venezuela Error Backfires
Bush Withdraws “Elections” Demand; “Strike” is Over

By Al Giordano and correspondents
December 16, 2002

Friday’s desperate maneuver by U.S. President George W. Bush – his cynical call for “early elections” in Venezuela, a country that has had six national elections in the past four years – has backfired after it was revealed as unconstitutional.

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, earlier today, withdrew that demand with some not-too-fancy semantic footwork:

“Early elections, in the sense that of course, there is a referenda (sic) that can be held earlier that is a reflection of the manifestation of the will of the people and this is the process that is anticipated in the Venezuelan constitution," Fleischer told reporters earlier today.

The White House backpedaling comes on the heels of major developments in Venezuela and our América.

1. The final and total collapse of efforts to close shops and lock out workers by businesses owners – dishonestly called a “strike” by commercial media for the past two weeks: By Monday morning, almost every store in the wealthy neighborhoods and suburbs of Eastern Caracas (the last holdouts in “The Strike That Wasn’t”) opened for business.

2. 90 percent of all contracted oil industry employees have returned to work, now that saboteur executives have been fired and removed from their offices. The remaining 10 percent will be fired if they do not immediately return to work.

3. Four tankers, carrying two million barrels of crude oil to the United States, are already en route.

4. A desperate effort this morning by “opposition leaders” to block highways leading into the capital City of Caracas, to physically turn back the millions of Venezuelan workers who commuted to their jobs today. The blockades – typically committed by four or five cars or trucks used to block each route – were confronted at nearly every location by angry citizens and were disbanded as a counterproductive tactic by 2 p.m. this afternoon. There were also violent clashes between police and blockaders at 10 locations. Although the simulating Associated Press refers to this as “spiraling… out of control… violence,” there were no deaths before the blockade disbanded. Despite commercial media spin that the failed blockades were somehow an “escalation” of the “strike,” the true intent was to mask the fact that almost every shop and store in Venezuela, including in the wealthy sectors, is now open for business.

5. The response of twice-elected Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to the White House, saying that U.S. officials were “confused” because their “early elections” call would violate the Venezuelan Constitution.

6. Heated meetings in the Organization of American States that went for 13 hours Friday night into the wee hours of Saturday, in which U.S. delegate Roger Noriega – former foreign policy czar for U.S. Senator Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina) was rebuffed in his attempt to get the OAS to call for “early elections.”

7. The joining by most Caribbean countries of Venezuela’s own OAS resolution to back the democratically elected government of Venezuela.

8. The defection of OAS representatives from Canada, Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica and other nations from the U.S. interventionist position.

9. The continued free-fall of the credibility of OAS “mediator,” former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria, now in his 15th day at the luxurious Melia Hotel in Caracas, and still no coup d’etat to show for his transparently anti-democracy efforts.

10. The sudden discovery of a backbone by some White House Press Correspondents who grilled Fleischer on his “early elections” call.

According to White House transcripts of a Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer on December 13th, in the James S. Brady Briefing Room, he was asked:

Q. Ari, the statement you put out on Venezuela earlier today called for a constitutional solution to the crisis there. It then went on to call for early elections. Those two statements would appear to be at war with each other. There's nothing in the Venezuelan constitution that countenances early elections. Could you speak to that conflict?

MR. FLEISCHER: I do not believe that -- the statement would have been crafted by experts who are versed in this field. This was a statement by the staff expressed through me representing the President's opinions, if it was not constitutional. So I think we have a difference about the Venezuelan constitution.

Q. By endorsing early elections, you've effectively endorsed the main demand of the Venezuelan opposition, the opposition to President Chavez. Why should we not conclude that the administration has, in effect, come down on the side of opposition, against Chavez?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President, as he said in the statement, is concerned about the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, and the President wants this to be resolved the way democracies resolve issues, which is through the peaceful exercise of the ballot box. And it sounds like you're giving on the issue of it is within the Constitution. Basically, if one party in Venezuela is calling for it, unless you're saying that the party is calling for something extraconstitutional, the statement reflects the view that democracy is the best way to settle any of these serious problems that are in Venezuela.

Q. The Constitution calls for elections on a certain schedule. The opposition is calling to advance that schedule.

MR. FLEISCHER: Unless you're suggesting that the Venezuelan constitution prohibits it, I would think you'd have no objection to democracy being pursued.

It took White House diplomatic and legal counsel four days to amend its “early elections” call to one for a non-binding referendum. And Fleischer continues to try and spin it dishonestly as “that’s what we meant all along!”

But Venezuelan opposition leaders are disheartened. Today’s pro-coup daily newspapers used phrases like “backpedaled” or “took a step backwards” to describe the White House’s latest position.

The OAS – a group based in Washington that Che Guevara once observed had the job of “administering the colonies for the United States” – continues to be the locus of heated debate between governments in América.

The anti-democracy faction in OAS (Bush's United States with Vicente Fox’s Mexico, Alejandro Toledo’s Peru, and Alvaro Uribe’s Colombia, and a few other countries) is in a panicked hurry to try and force a “diplomatic junta” on Venezuela before January 1st, when Brazil inaugurates its new president Lula de la Silva, the popular Workers Party leader of Latin America’s largest nation who will become the hemisphere’s main interlocutor with the United States and the world. Ten days later, on January 10th, Ecuador will inaugurate Colonel Lucio Gutiérrez as president, further weakening the anti-democracy crowd’s grip over the OAS.

Two more key changes occur on January 1st that will have a high impact on the Venezuela situation: New laws will take effect. The land reform law (affecting not only rural farmlands but also landlords and vacant lots in the cities), and the Hydrocarbons Law, giving the elected government the final set of tools it needs to wrestle the state-owned oil company from the hands of a few corrupt oligarchs.

Meanwhile, as reported by Canadian correspondent in Venezuela Oscar Heck of, all holiday season flights from Caracas to Miami are booked solid (no “strike” for the wicked), indicating that the annual exodus of upper-class Venezuelans to Florida will go as it has in previous years, thus taking many of the coup-plotting leaders off the stage of their act of Strike Simulation Theater.

The “Grinch-osition” – as Vheadline columnist Charles Hardy calls the Christmas season coup-plotters – is flailing around like a fish on a hook. Pro-coup and simulating daily newspapers El Nacional and El Universal, early today in Caracas, announced they would not publish tomorrow in solidarity with “the Strike That Wasn’t.” But later this afternoon both announced that, no, they will publish tomorrow.

The waning ranks of the Grinch-osition have tried all morning to provoke violence as a last ditch effort to justify foreign intervention. The Venezuelan majority, and its morning commuters, showed immense patience and maturity. They were able to break up the highway blockades in an organized fashion. In 10 locations, there was violence between police and blockaders on both sides, but without any reported deaths.

Hardy, an invited professor of the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, and a former Catholic priest, aptly quoted Dr. Seuss’ “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” in today’s column penned from Venezuela, concluding: "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more.”

No one is expecting the coup-plotters’ hearts to grow three sizes, but they have, now, at least in their rush for xmas shopping proceeds, opened the doors to their stores.

None of this will prevent professional simulators from AP, Reuters, CNN, and U.S. and British newspaper correspondents from repeating their daily Big Lie that the “strike” is somehow “growing” or “escalating” or “increasing the pressure on Chávez to resign.” But after 15 days of their transparent simulation, every Who down in Whooville already knows the score.

So, happy holidays to our readers – 120,000 hits a day this week, by citizens who wisely seek more honest sources than that of the Commercial Media – and to the valiant Venezuelan majority, from all of us at Narco News.

We will remain here in the newsroom and on the street, closely monitoring the death throes of the Strike That Wasn’t, until the door to the airplane toward Miami hits the coup-plotters in the ass.

Before we rest and feast on roast beast, we’ll serve up a special holiday dish: Rolled Heads of Simulators.

We'll review for you the outrageous distortions of fact and truth committed this month by certain members of the Commercial Media. We will name the names of the para-mercenary journalists who have demonstrably lied to you in recent weeks about what has occurred in Venezuela, and document precisely how they knew the facts to be different from the words they reported.

The simulating correspondents have attempted - and continue to attempt - to create the conditions for the single largest threat to press freedom in our América: a coup d’etat. The good news, kind readers, more evident every minute and hour, is that they are on the cusp of a humiliating defeat, and 2002 may soon ring out with another victory for Authentic Democracy in our América. Bring on 2003.


- (c) Republished with permission. This article also appears at


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