Narco News on Venezuela:
'The Strike that Wasn't'
Attempted General Strike Fails;
Strong Political, Public Support Remains with Chavez
Joe Taglieri, FTW Staff
2002, From The Wilderness Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com.
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[Ed. Note: As the American
people begin to take baby steps to combat repressive
government and tyranny at home they continually ask, "What
can we do?" Take a lesson from the people of Venezuela
who understand the maxim, "in a ham and egg breakfast
the chicken is involved but the pig is committed." The
resiliency of Hugo Chavez is based upon two things:
Chavez's well-honed political sense that knows how
to turn, judo-like, the actions and energy of the U.S.
corporate empire into his own weapons; and the willingness
of the Venezuelan people to take risks in defiantly
defending themselves against neo-colonial pressures.
At the heart of the U.S.
government's desire to overthrow Chavez is the Empire's
recognition that a successful, non-aligned leader who
can actually improve conditions for his people is the
ultimate threat to Wall Street and globalized financial
interests. And the symbolic heart of Chavez's program
is the new "Hydrogen Law" that will socialize
part of the oil industry and mandate that more of the
profits from Venezuelan oil production remain in the
country for the benefit of the people who live there,
rather than being exported to New York.
By surrounding local TV
stations and newspapers that have been lying to them,
by placing themselves in harm's way to express their
support for Chavez, by engaging in non-violent civil
disobedience, by focusing their protests wisely against
the institutions and interests that cause them harm,
the Venezuelan people are writing a textbook for actions
the American people may soon have to take for themselves.
Dec. 31, 2002, 17:00 PST (FTW)
-- The aristocrats and corporate mangers of Venezuela
failed once again this month to politically destabilize
the nation. The organizers of April's aborted military
coup against President Hugo Chavez this time attempted
to give the impression of a general strike, which for
the most part managed only to temporarily disrupt the
nation's oil exports.
The result of this latest
revolutionary escapade by Venezuela's wealthy elites,
observers say, is in fact the opposite of what strike
organizers intended. President Hugo Chavez, widely supported
by Venezuela's poor majority, now has a firmer grip on
the state-owned oil industry.
"There is no 'strike,'" said
Al Giordano, editor of Narco News (www.narconews.com),
a website that covers Latin American politics. "What
there has been is a lockout of employees by management,
and some tankers hijacked by captains. Also some private
subcontractors, such as tug boat companies, have participated
in the lockout."
Violence was also relatively
minimal, except on Dec. 6. Three people were killed and
28 were wounded in Caracas when, as in a similar incident
in April, civilians were arbitrarily fired on by an unseen
gunman or gunmen.
Venezuelan TV news reports
purported to show a pro-Chavez, Portuguese suspect held
in connection to the shootings. But a Narco News report
has found that the timeframe reported by the anti-Chavez
media of this suspect's whereabouts in Caracas Dec. 6
do not hold mathematical water. He simply could not have
made it in time to be the man responsible for the shootings.[http://www.narconews.com/Issue26/article571.html]
In-depth coverage of Venezuela
can be found at Giordano's site, http://www.narconews.com/,
and VHeadline, http://www.vheadline.com/p1/.
Giordano and the journalists
of Narco News have dug quite deep into what's been happening
in Venezuela, and all over Central and South America,
frequently reporting from Caracas and other affected
News has kept a close eye on the mainstream U.S. and
British media, as well as their Venezuelan counterparts
in the corporate, anti-government TV stations and wealthy
reports on Narco News reveal the pro-work stoppage
spin in action at the highest bastions of mainstream
journalism. Associate Publisher Dan Feder's Dec. 12
and Dec. 18 stories expose "AP's One-Sided
Venezuela Coverage: On 'Desk Reporters' Who Phone-in
the Spin" and "NY Times and LA Times run
identical stories on Venezuelan 'strike.'"
published this scathing piece Dec. 23: "A
Brit Reporter's Undisclosed Venezuela Conflicts, Phil
Gunson and Eric Ekvall Are Upset with Narco News." Find
out why by clicking here: http://www.narconews.com/Issue26/article572.html
'strike' or lockout?
Despite anti-Chavez coverage
from stations like RCTV, Globovision, TVS, Meridiano
TV, and Venevision, thousands of Venezuelans took to
the streets -- not to protest the Chavez government,
but to voice their disgust for the commercial media.
Venezuelan civilians nonviolently surrounded those Caracas-based
stations and media outlets in other parts of the country.
According to Reuters on
Dec. 2, the day when Chavez opposition groups began
scheduled demonstrations, the streets of Caracas "were
free of the usual heavy traffic in the opposition's
eastern stronghold, where many businesses closed their
doors. But the center and west of city were bustling
with street sellers and open restaurants though many
businesses kept their metal shutters down.
nation's major industries -- the vital oil sector and
state steel, aluminum and mining operations -- were
mostly unaffected, the government said. Airports stayed
open with some delays and public transport operated
at near-normal levels.
government countered Monday's shutdown by organizing
a huge street market in central Caracas, selling cheap
food and services. Thousands of residents flocked around
of the upper classes, who comprise the majority of
anti-Chavez Venezuelans, don't seem convinced that
the opposition will attain it's goal of removing the
president from power.
"On the [anti-Chavez]
national daily El Nacional website, they have a readers'
poll today [Dec. 17] asking if readers think the government
will succeed in fully taking back the Venezuelan national
oil company PdVSA from the rogues," said Giordano
via e-mail. "Even among this newspaper's upper class
readership, 67 percent of the respondents believe that,
yes, the government will succeed. The 'opposition' overplayed
its hand and has just lost its strongest card: oil. It's
power to ever do this again is now over and done."
He pointed out that "when
the coup plotters in the military all revealed themselves
in April, 400 have since been removed from duty. Now "the
coup plotters in the oil industry are fired and hung
out to dry."
The Chavez government is now
reorganizing the state-owned oil company, PdVSA. "This
means that by early next year, PdVSA will no longer be
vulnerable to this kind of stoppage," Giordano said. "The
military is a good comparison because look at the military
this month: no threat of military coup, having been cleaned
The names and faces of the
Venezuelans behind April's coup attempt remained the
same for this latest episode of political tumult in the
nation's recent history. Despite attempts by the opposition
-- with Washington's tacit blessing -- to destabilize
the nation, Chavez has decisively won six elections since
Chavez's anti-poverty platform,
inspired by Latin American revolutionary Simon Bolivar,
has galvanized loyal support from the 80 percent of Venezuelans
who live below the poverty line.
Since Chavez has been in power,
Washington has consistently positioned itself against
the former paratrooper. "Following the [one-day]
ouster of Chavez last April, U.S. officials welcomed
the coup," the World Socialist Web Site reported
Dec. 11. Press reports "revealed at the time that
senior Bush administration aides, including Assistant
Secretary of State Otto Reich and White House advisor
Elliott Abrams -- both key players in the Reagan administration's
covert network for supporting the contra terrorist war
on Nicaragua in the 1980s -- had met repeatedly in Washington
with the coup's organizers."
December's attempted general strike organizers such
as CTV union chief Carlos Ortega and national chamber
of commerce president Pedro Carmona, who Narco News
refers to as Venezuela's "dictator-for-a-dayÉ also
known as 'The Brief One,'" were once again at
the forefront of biased media coverage. Carmona held
the office of president for three days in April while
Chavez was detained by rebellious military officers.
oil executives and union officials friendly to management's
interests had the most impact of any sector of the
economy, still the effects from this month's economic
slow-down have been minimal, according to Giordano.
notable dynamic in the 'oligarchy vs. populist' dynamic
that seems to be in play right now in Venezuela is
the glaring economic contrast between pro- and anti-Chavez
"Keep in mind that the
per capita income in Venezuela is $4,760 dollars per
year," said Giordano. "So these guys are making
an average of what 100 citizens make combined! If there
ever was a case for Robin Hood, it's Venezuela. And the
'phony strikers' are the modern-day Sheriffs of Nottingham."
exports about a third of its oil to the U.S., and there
is some debate about how soon a restructured PdVSA
can get back to full production. Government sources
say oil output will be back to normal in a few weeks,
though members of the opposition say it will take much
longer to optimize production.
The White House's initial
public response to the opposition's attempted general
strike and anti-Chavez rallies came on Dec. 13, when
the administration called for early -- and thus, unconstitutional
-- presidential elections.
But on Dec. 16, however, the
official line was softened, seeking only a referendum
on Chavez's presidential tenure. This followed a 32-0
vote of confidence for Chavez from the Organization of
American States (OAS). For latin America, Giordano referred
to this day as, "December 16, 2002: the day the