Venezuela’s Chavez on a collision course with the U.S.

Friday, 26 August 2005
By Harry Lawrence - Publisher

While the U.S. media was focusing most of its attention on problems in Iraq and the West Bank, little attention has been given to the worsening relations between Venezuela, the oil-rich South American nation under President Hugo Chavez and the United States.

Chavez has been methodically converting Venezuela into a Socialist state with close ties to Cuba and the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

In a speech widely reported by Associated Press earlier this month Chavez berated the United States during a state-sponsored World Youth Festival which included some 15,000 students and youths from 144 countries across the world, protesting the “imperialist war.”

“If some day they get the crazy idea of coming to invade us”, Chavez warned “We’ll make them bite the dust defending the freedom of our land . . . ”

But, he added, the U.S. will not stop caressing the idea of invading Cuba or invading Venezuela.

Chavez in this same speech called the United States “the most savage, cruel and murderous empire that has existed in the history of the world.”

“Socialism,” he avow-ed, “is the only path to save a world threatened by the voracity of U.S. imperialism.”

As the rhetoric of the Venezuelan President against the United States became more and more strident U.S televangelist Pat Robertson took up the cudgels against Chavez and called on the United States to silence the Venezuelan hothead , calling him “a terrific danger” bent on exporting Communism and Islamic extremism across the Americas.

Robertson called Chavez “a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us badly.”

The United States meanwhile has been working in Central and South America to try to isolate President Chavez. The U.S. has been working closely with Venezuela’s neighbours: Colombia, the Guyanas and Brazil. But Venezuela’s strongest ally is not any of its neighbours, but Cuba, the pre-eminently socialist state more than a 1,000 miles away.

Venezuela now has several daily commercial flights to Havana, more than nearby Mexico.

The United States has also been aware of the budding relationship between Cuba and Belize and Venezuela and Belize.

Prime Minister Said Musa in February 1999 bestowed the country’s highest honour, the Order of Belize, on the ageing Cuban President, Fidel Castro and Castro has responded in kind by conferring Cuba’s highest honour, the Order of Jos? Mart?, on Belize’s ageing former Prime Minister, George Price.

Price thus joins the company of the likes of Alexander Lukshenko, Prime Minister of the Stalinist state of Belarus, as one of the few to receive the Order of Jos? Mart?.

Despite these close ties the United States has been able to drive a wedge between Belizean and Cuban relations through its success with the Proliferation Security Initiative.

Under this Proliferation Security protocol, Belize became the first CARICOM country to support the U.S. plan to board and search suspect ships on the high seas flying the Belizean Flag.

This is a protocol which both Castro and Chavez despise as part of U.S. “imperialist” strategy.

Only one other Central American country, Panama, has signed this agreement.

Venezuela’s latest initiative to gain favour among the countries of the Americas has been to offer them Venezuelan oil at a discounted price.

Venezuela has also agreed to provide loans to Belize to enable the government of Belize to buy back Belize Water Services shares from Cascal, the British company which now wants “out” from its Belize investment.

By agreeing to the U.S. proposal to stop and search Belize has won some much needed favour with the U.S., which Belize has turned to good advantage in its costly dispute with American millionaire investor, Jeffrey Prosser.