CARACAS REVISTED

Last December I went to Venezuela and stayed in Caracas for two days. Later in Merida I found a cozy internet cafe where I did some casual research on the country I was visiting, especially the barrios of Caracas. (You can read some of the information I found out here.) Today the Post wrote about crime in Venezuela:

It’s that sort of cycle that gives Venezuela a solid claim to the dubious title of the world’s capital of violent crime. According to U.N. figures, the rates of gun-related violence are higher here than anywhere else on earth. The rank stench coming from the police office — a building that doubles as a morgue — is a rotten byproduct of a homicide rate that in recent years has eclipsed that of Colombia, a country torn by 40 years of civil strife between armed militias. Bullets fly so often in Caracas that even the white truck that ferries dead bodies from the barrios to the forensics building has a bullet hole in its driver’s-side door.

“I survived Caracas and all I got was…”

In other Venezuelan news, there is a documentary on the coup of Hugo Chavez in 2002 called The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. The film gives us an inside look at how the revolution took place and the major players involved.

The coup was led by corporate interests, starting with the private media, who broadcasted nonstop vitriol against Chavez, including lies which set the stage for the coup to occur. In the movie you see the media airing messages like “state of complete normality” when the situation was anything but, depriving Venezuelans of factual information. The film is now on Google Video. You can’t help but get a sour taste in your mouth when it reviews possible United States involvement in the coup.

23 thoughts on “CARACAS REVISTED

  1. Lonnie Bruner

    It was more like a coup attempt. I remember it well becuase my Venezuelan friends and I went out to celebrate, only to learn that Chavez was back in power a couple of days later.

    And honestly, I don’t think the US was very involved in it other than giving it vocal support.

  2. Chris

    there is no possibility of US Involvement. Our Government was DEFINITELY involved. Bush and his boys are married to Corporate America, and they want the oil reserves to be open for exploitation. You’ve visited there just like I have. You’ve seen what 20+ years of foreign control of the oil industry has done for the common person there. The gulf between have and have nots is the largest its ever been. The coup was directed and supported (vocally and financially) by our Government. Thankfully, it was put down so that we couldn’t place a blood thirsty dictator like we did with Pinochet in Chile, Fujimori in Peru, Noreiga in Panama, Hussein in Iraq, and Marcos in the Phillipines among countless others.

    The policies of our government are stains on our hands as well.

    Chavez is turning the wealthy landowners on their heads. They have lived for far too long off the spoils of the people, now a man of the people is working (sometimes a little too forcefully) to equalize things. But in no more excess than what was done to that poor countries and many others over the past 30+ years.

    Suck it Corporate America.

  3. O-face

    Ummmmm Chavez isn’t any better either. Matter of fact the only thing he has working in his favor is GW Bush and his incompetence. I mean anybody can stand up to him, so it make him seem as tough and bold when in fact he’s taking the country back like 60 years with his economic policies and human rights abuse. That country is piss poor for a reason and it ain’t the U.S. fault.

  4. Chris

    O-Face, you have no idea what you are talking about. Take you face off of Fox News tit and do some research. Under Chavez, he is extending education to more sectors of the country, expanding healthcare to the poor sections of the country. He is doing this all the while he has to look over his shoulder for the assasins bullet. I don’t approve of all that he does, but he is not the buggaboo that your boys at Fox News (and Pat Robertson) brainwash you into believing. He has been democratically elected (more so that what I’m believing is your boy Bush), so shut up, and leave that country alone. We have no right to tell them how to live their life, or govern their country.

    Donkey.

  5. Lonnie Bruner

    Chris:

    I’m not trying to flame you or be a dick, but do you actually have any Venezuelan friends? If so, have you ever asked them their opinions of what is happening to their country?

    You are correct that Chavez was elected but he’s anything but democratic. He basically has Cuban advisors telling him how he can best turn Venezuela into a communist country while avoiding the pitfalls that Castro ran into in the early 1960s—not to mention his insane rants. In addition, not sure if you remember, but when Chavez was a paratrooper in the 1990s, he tried to pull off a violent coup that failed miserably.

    As to your claims about the US government financing the coup, please provide some evidence.

    Cheers,
    Lonnie Bruner

    PS: So have you been out of college for six months or just a year?

  6. DCB Post author

    I admire Hugo Chavez for taking control over his country’s natural resources. I think his intent in serving his people are mostly honest, but his egomanical, power-hungry personality does not make him the best candidate for dealing with his country’s poor. But still, it’s better than his predecessors.

  7. Lonnie Bruner

    It’s a typical situation that’s been going on for a long time in Latin America: a corrupt, long-running right wing dictator who serves the interests of the foreign investors and the rich is overthrown/replaced by a left wing populist who turns out to create more problems for the country than the prior regime—all the while taking on many of the dictatorial qualities and serving elite intersts just like the prior regime. It’s like a page out of Animal Farm. Sad, but true.

  8. lady bizness

    Hugo Chavez is admired for the same reasons Juan Peron was admired. He uses the government’s treasury to buy off his opposition through programs designed to look more effective than they actually are. Sure the desperately poor people of Venezuela think that he’s helping them by nationalizing the country’s natural resources and expanding health care. But he’s really stunting any chance Venezuela has to develop a good, stable, growing economy. Foreget about attracting foreign investment. Why spend money building infrastructure when there is a good chance Chavez will just steal it from you? And what will Chavez do when oil prices come back down and he can’t just throw money at his problems?

    Chavez’s critics messed up by trying to stage a coup. Any meaningful action against him would have to be part of the democratic system they have in place. Trying to circumvent that only further weakens the government.

  9. O-face

    Chris, I hate fox news and I detest the rethuglican machine even more. Its corrupt and hell bent on lining the pockets of those who’s interest it serves.
    With that being said. I’ll ask you to put down the violin and quit playing the slow love songs that you have for Chavez. Of course he’s portraying the image that he’s helping the poor because thats what 80 percent of the population is today. He doesn’t want a coup just like the next military dictator. But if you don’t think he’s not lining his bank account with billions from state controlled industries than you are a fool. His idol is Fidel Castro…explain to me if thats the economic model you support???…then how did Castro amass a total networth over a Billion dollars????? Diligent investing???? Its all a bunch of crooks just different last names and the only difference is that Venezuela not 90 miles off the coast of florida otherwise the gulf of mexico would be filled with floating 1950 impalas heading towards Miami.

    Sincerely,

    Donkey

  10. Mandy

    This post ties in to Venezuela, I swear…

    Has anyone been following Evo Morales? recent actions? He?s the president of Bolivia, and he nationalized Bolivia?s petroleum resources last week. He initiated the nationalization with a troop invasion of one of Brasil?s refineries, Petrobras. Since I?m studying in South America at the moment, I?ve been getting the Brasilian perspective–President Lula?s background in syndicalism (pro-union) is preventing him from lashing back at Morales, but the university professors I?ve talked to–who are in general VERY socialist–all agree that it was a bad move by Bolivia, despite their socialist leanings. Taking state control of national resources to “redistribute property” to the poor just consolidates a country?s elites…ultimately, the money never makes it past the rampant political corruption to the needy. It?s a populist move that doesn?t actually improve a country?s infrastructure, it merely provides a relatively short-run popularity boost to the leader.

    Hugo Chavez, Juan Peron, Fidel Castro–all are masters of populist persuasion, but they ultimately alienate other countries and they alienate investment. They nationalize resources that they shouldn?t (Brasil is, or was, the biggest purchaser of Bolivian gas, and Bolivia has no ports, so it can only sell petroleum to its regional neighbors), and they forget that short-run solutions just give the people fish without teaching them how to fish (it?s a tired analogy, but it?s true).

    But the US involvement in Latin American uprisings is truly horrifying, I?m not going to lie. If you?ve read Chomsky?s comments about it, it really does leave a sour taste in your mouth. It?s even sadder that so many Americans abroad feel the need to backpack with Canadian patches, or explain their political history every time they say they?re American (“but I didn?t vote for Bush!”) *Sigh* I guess there?s a bit of a guilt complex involved there.

  11. O-face

    Mandy thats the position I support. Thanks for putting it so intelligently……Viva la Chris Guerva, however might disagree. All that is dead on and it only worsens because you have U.S. involvement behind the scenes.

  12. Chris

    I have been to Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela..and specifically Caracas twice. I have also been all through Central America numerous times, and have seen the damage that our failed policies have wrought there. I have been out of school for longer than 6 months, much longer actually, but even if I hadn’t, it wouldn’t invalidate my opinion, as it is just that, my opinion. As far as far my proof of financial backing…well, if you watched the video that DCB put up (thanks by the way–I’d been wanting to see that), you’ll see that the White House had invited the coup leaders to Washington for a little meeting of the minds. The USA has had in action the so-called “School of the Americas” for decades where they train and finance innumerable right-wing military groups to seize power and open their countries economic environment for Western business/appropriation. But if you are looking for actual bank receipts, well, that is obviously beyond me and my keyboard. The telling statements by the administration, the members of Congress during the coup, show their support for that blatant illegal uprising. I am basically just connecting the dots. Read Chomsky’s Chomsky’s book “Hegemony or Survival” and he talks about Americas support for the coup. He lays out the proof there. But of course, Chomsky is marginalized by the press and very rarely challenged on the substance of his claims.

    The fact of the matter is that the Venezuelan people elected Chavez. The actual people and not the landed gentry which are the ones who are against Chavez because he is redirecting the national economy to provide more service to those in need. They are the ones who are so threatened by Chavez and his supposed populist tendencies.

    I do not approve of everything he does. He is extremely heavy handed, but can you blame him? The environment he comes from does not allow for the timid. I find it interesting to follow the happenings in Latin America. Such a diverse and wonderful set of countries that for the most part have a heart of gold, and would give you the shirt off their back if it was the last thing they had. I don’t find him any more extreme than Bush and his “you’re either with us or against us”, “Nuclear war is on the table as an option for Iran”, all of Bush’s free speech zones, the fact that he never has to answer any non-scripted questions, and etc…the list is endless. We should turn the mirror on ourselves and worry about our own crumbling constitution and not worry about Venezuela.

    As far as the nationalization of resources. It is a slippery slope, and corruption in Latin America is almost status quo–Mandy is correct. But these men, and women (the newly elected leader in Chile) are trying to make change. The situation in this area of the world needs attention, and the way it was, was obviously not working.

    We have no right to dictate or influence. If they ask for help, we should offer assistance and not seek to take advantage of (which is usually our want).

    As far as my Venezuelan connections…I thankfully have great people in my life that have brought a wealth of healthy perspectives on this matter. It always makes for interesting and heated conversations over a few pints.

    Constructive and heated debate is a lost art in the States…arguing seems to devolve into this absolute hatred of the other side, which makes it seem all too childish and not at all helpful to a compromise.

    And before anyone calls me a self-loathing American, I think the best quote comes from Al Franken; “I don’t hate America, I love it with all my heart. I’m just not blind to her faults.”

    Good to see that there are people aware or at least curious about issues such as this. Most people are too plugged into American Idol or the 3rd weekly showing of the Howie Mandel show to give a crap…it gives me hope.

  13. Lonnie Bruner

    Chris basically just went through the leftie checklist: Mention of Noam Chomsky? Check. US supporting coups? Check. 3rd World’s problems caused by the US? Check. Excuses for thuggish left wing dictators? Check. Implying that Americans are all stupid and fat? Check.

    Yawn …

    Tell me something I haven’t heard, dude. Plus, your comment had that unmistakable tone of desperation so common among those who’ve recently had a political awakening. That’s not your fault, Chris, but one day you will understand, young grasshopper.

    Cheers,
    LB

  14. DCB Post author

    LB just went through the bad debaters checklist:

    Not debating valid points made? Check. Attacking the person instead of the message? Check. Belitting tactics? check. Puffing up his age like it translates to wisdom? Check.

    Tell us something that actually has substance, dude.

    As for “foreign investment”, why is it whenever i hear that term i think of corporate rape and environmental damage..

  15. Lonnie Bruner

    Touche, DCB. Touche.

    I think you could have just said “ad hominem attacks and red herrings” though.

    And hey, I always put substance on your blog. Give me some slack!

  16. juanqui

    Lonnie Bruner, thank you for inviting me to enter this blog. I’m Venezuelan and I don’t belong to the so called Venezuelan elite. Having said that, I would like to let Chris know that I lived in the Soviet Union and then in Ukraine for seven years. My father, a former communist who was an active part of the venezuelan guerrilla in the 60’s, is still a leftist and thank God! he opposses Chavez. The problem in Venezuela is much more complicated than having The US involved in the 2002 “Coup” or corporate America trying to take over our natural resources. Based on your comments I think you hate Bush as much as I hate Chavez (as you see we have something in common). The difference is that here in the US, you know that the Bush’s administration is going to be over pretty soon, because of the democracy you have in this country. This US democracy may not be perfect, I agree, but it is still democracy. Chavez and Bush were elected almost at the same time (Chavez was elected in 1998 for the first time and got ratified in 2000 after changing the constitution, both times legitimately)Here is the thing, no more Bush after 2008, right? Chavez used to say that he would be there until 2021, now he says that he is going to change the constitution once again and will be in power until 2031. Bravo!!! Very democratic. To tell you one “little thing”, imagine your name on a list created by a Bush follower to track who you are and just because you oppose Bush you are execrated as if you were a criminal. This is what is happening in Venezuela. The people who signed for the 2004 referendum and whose names appear on this list, are isolated and have no access to jobs among other things. This list is called “The Gaston list”. It was created by the actual minister of interior, Gaston, who by the way is a real criminal. To understand how profound this problem is I should say that in Venezuela the goverment is the first employer. This almighty employer is constantly increasing power, whereas the private sector is shrinking. This is one of Chavez-Castro’s strategies. Now imagine just for a minute that Bush has the power to give jobs to more than 90% of the US population and your name is on the list. Got it? This is the way the goverment puts pressure on the shoulders of the opposition. The democratic sector is desapearing or I should say hiding. Let’s hope that the comments posted on this forum are focused on what is really happening in Venezuelan. Most Americans who like Chavez think that he is cool because he opposes Bush and corporate America. These people don’t see that in the meantime there is a dictator swallowing a whole country.

  17. Mandy

    Thanks O-face!

    Trying to get through the U.S. history of involvement in Latin American is daunting…it can feel like a tug of war between international corporate influence (goodbye rainforest) and corrupt populism (hello Chavez). That?s the depressing bit–sometimes it feels like it?s got to be one extreme or the other. Do you know that Brasilians have an urban legend that U.S. geography books refer to the Amazon Rainforest as either a U.S. or international territory?

    But I?m hopeful. I was a summer volunteer in Nicaragua when Daniel Ortega was up for re-election (he was the Sandinista president whose troops fought against the U.S.-backed Contras). Even though I?m not an “obvious” gringa, when people found out that I was American they were still unbelievably nice to me, and mostly just commented that the Americans they?d met were incredibly cool volunteers! That was their impression of us: 20-something Americans who were just trying to help. It made me feel like the damage of the past can be repaired.

    DCB, great topic.

  18. Anonymous

    There is zero concrete evidence to show the US was involved in the 2002. All they have is some declassed documents that say the US knew about it. Of course everyone on the streets also knew it was going to happen.

    I agree with juanqui. Go hop on eDonkey and download yourself a copy of MaiSanta. Then look up a few names of people who aren’t Chavez suupporters. These people are black listed by the government and can’t even get loans (whether they be for a house or school), much less jobs.

    A comment that’s thrown around a lot is that the US is “so hostile to venezuela”. I challenge anyone out there to name at least 3 things the US has done that’s openly hostile to Venezuela. Crackpot CIA stories with zero proof don’t count.

    It’s also mildly insulting that you say the following about the US when the situation is 100 times worse in Venezuela:

    Constructive and heated debate is a lost art in the States?arguing seems to devolve into this absolute hatred of the other side, which makes it seem all too childish and not at all helpful to a compromise.

    Perhaps you haven’t heard Chavez refer to Bush as a “donkey”, “drunkard”, “coward”, “terrorist”, etc, etc… Or maybe when he refers to Mexico’s president or a “lap dog”? Or maybe when he interfere’s with Peru’s elections by calling certain candidates, “the candidate of Peru’s oligarchy”?

    Chavez might have been elected democratically originally, but he’s consolidating power, running shady elections, siding with other problematic countries, and has made it abundantly clear that he wants to run until 2030.

    Many people don’t like Bush, but at least you know that he’s gone in 2008.

  19. Anonymous

    “I admire Hugo Chavez for taking control over his country?s natural resources. I think his intent in serving his people are mostly honest, but his egomanical, power-hungry personality does not make him the best candidate for dealing with his country?s poor. But still, it?s better than his predecessors.”

    I agree with you to an extent, but you also have to look at the history of Venezuela. Things are always better during times of high oil prices, despite who’s in charge. However when the price of oil dips, we’re worse off than when we started. This rampant spending and corruption is only setting us up for another catostrophic failure.

  20. GKT

    FYI, there are tons of de-classified documents from the U.S. government showing their knowledge of the coup and then there are their public statements the day after it happened where they act as if they had no idea, and this was some spontaneous uprising. That’s kind of like if you tell me you are going to murder someone, then you do and then I lie to the police about it by telling them that I have no idea what happened. All the declassifed docs are on http://www.venezuelafoia.info/english.html. At a bare minimum, the U.S. gov’t: 1) was funneling money to groups known to be involved in coup plotting; 2) had information about the coup attempt, which they then lied about when the attempt happened; 3) set up, via USAID, an ominously-named “Office of Transitional Initiatives” in Caracas directly following the coup government takeover and 4) has continued to fund opposition groups who were involved in the – let’s all remember here – illegal, violent attempt to overthrow a democratically-elected government. And for the sake of street cred, I graduated college almost a decade ago, have lived in South and Central America, and, yes, even have Venezuelan friends (on both sides of the Chavez divide).

  21. Anonymous

    Well then perhaps you should have read the US Embassy’s webpage in the days running up to A11, as they clearly stated they were going to be closed because of the rumors of a coup that on or around that day. Or maybe you should have turned on the radio and heard the same thing. How about a newspaper?

    The only thing the US did was recognize the new government, which was thrown out a day later.

    US government funding for opposition groups pales in comparison to the funding that is also given to pro government groups. They all get funding, although it is convenient to point out that the opposition gets funding without mentioning the rest.

    While we’re on the subject of coups, don’t forget that Chavez led his own during 1992. He still claims to this day that those deaths were necessary.

    You can repeat these CIA crackpot stories over and over, but at the end of the day there is still no proof.

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