Is Venezuela Next in the "Global War on Terror"?
Is Venezuela Next in the "Global War on Terror"
By Ricardo Restrepo
It is now widely accepted that the US invaded Iraq, not under the expressed reason to combat terrorism, but to pursue its energy goals. This idea is supported not only by the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, but by the telling fact that in the struggle to headlock the country into submission, the Baathist conventional weapons arsenals were left unsecured by invasion forces and left for local combatants to arm themselves.  Meanwhile, Iraq’s oil fields were brought under US control. Is there reason to think Venezuela is next?
The exchange of rhetorical fire between Venezuela and the US has reached new heights in the past weeks and Venezuelan officials have repeatedly warned that the US is preparing for another intervention in their country. This would not be the first time that the US intervenes in Venezuela under Chavez’s administration. In 2002, the US funded, supported, and provided logistical backing for a coup that took Chavez out of power for 47 hours.  Chavez was first democratically elected in 1999 and continues to hold a 60% margin of support, a margin most leaders can merely dream of. When Chavez was brought back through wide demonstrations and military support, the US held the privileged position of being the only state to have endorsed the “transitional” dictatorship of Pedro Carmona as fully democratic. Condoleezza Rice responded to the failed coup – “I hope Chavez learned his lesson.” Former security advisor of the US Hemispheric Command Paul Buchanan says that what coup plotters learned for next time was that Chavez could not be left alive. 
Once we notice that the oil motive is enough for the US administration to invade a nation, it is worth wondering how much oil Venezuela has. An internal US Energy Department study, according to BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast , classifies Venezuela as containing the biggest oil reserves in the world. However, Venezuela has mostly thick tar-like oil which is very expensive to extract and make usable. Yet with the oil barrel at above $30, this venture is very viable. The barrel is now at $58. Venezuela is also presently the fourth largest contributor to US oil demand.
We would expect that if the US is preparing for intervention in Venezuela that US mainstream media would portray Chavez in an unfavorable light, as they did with Iraq, where all of a sudden Saddam Hussein’s undemocratic credentials became all-important. But unlike Hussein, Chavez was democratically elected and has represented the interests of the Venezuelan public as a guide to his administration. Nevertheless, the US media constantly portrays Chavez as an increasingly repressive strongman of Saddam’s likes. 
Further we would expect US officials would be publicly expounding the view that Venezuela poses a threat. Here too we find confirmation. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have said that Venezuela is a major threat to regional stability. Rumsfeld assimilates Chavez to Hitler. The US Department of Homeland Security says that Venezuela is helping jihadists.  And in a classic re-run, Kenneth Rijock presents the view to the House Sub-Committee on Financial Institutions that, based on hard intelligence, Venezuela has weapons of mass destruction.  None of these allegations has any evidential support, except for the first where “regional stability” is defined as US hegemony.
How will the US intervene in Venezuela? That waits to be seen. But we do have some indications. We can begin with the hypothesis of invasion. “But this would be crazy.” As was invading Iraq. The US has bought acolytes in the Colombian military and paramilitary death squads that not only have been detected permeating their activities across the border into Venezuela. They are suspected of killing Danilo Anderson, the Venezuelan attorney investigating the perpetrators of the 2002 coup. A group composed of these forces could be used as similar forces were used to invade Nicaragua from Honduras in the 1980’s. Further, the US is building up military facilities and forces in the nearby island of Curacao, which could be easily used. Then there is the possibility of pushing for a “liberation secession movement” in oil-rich Zulia state. US ambassador to Venezuela alludes to the independence of Zulia, while backing its governor and opposition presidential candidate Manuel Rosales, who has 27% popular backing, and is thus likely to lose. An operation like this one could take the canal-hinged secession of Panama as a model. Another is through electoral fraud, and yet another is through the assassination of Chavez. Possibilities abound. Let us not repeat recent imperial history.
The Venezuelan elections on December 3rd 2006 hold centre-stage in US-Venezuela relations. A New Zealand-Australia solidarity group, accompanied by the New Zealand based Activo Productions, will be going to Caracas as international observers over the elections. Activo Productions will be documenting the developments for the Australasian public and will provide further updates on the situation.
1. James Glanz, William J. Broad and David E. Sanger “The Conflict in Iraq: Tracking the Weapons; Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished from Site in Iraq” NY Times, Oct. 25, 2004.
2. Eva Golinger (2005) The Chavez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela (NY: Olive Branch Press).
3. In interview August 6.
4. Democracy Now
5. David Edwards “Channel 4 Smears Chavez” ZMag, April 10, 2006.
6. CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight, October 18, 2006.
7. Michael Fox “A US Intelligence Hoax on Venezuela?” Venezuelanalysis, April 19, 2006.