Global Policy Forum

US Sets Its Sights on Chavez, Castro


By Rickey Singh

Jamaica Observer
October 17, 2004

As if it has not sufficiently deliberately misled people at home and abroad and endangered the world enough over its war on Iraq, the George W Bush Administration is now seeking to further ignite problems in two countries of the Caribbean region - Cuba and Venezuela. Both countries are founding members of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), firm allies of the Caribbean Community in its quest for a new and just international economic and political order, and nations with which we have various forms of mutually satisfactory bilateral relations. Last week, President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair remained unrepentant, before different audiences, for their grossly misleading information used to force regime change in Iraq where alleged weapons of mass destruction have turned out to be weapons of mass disappearance. At the same time, in doing his job for his president, outgoing US Secretary of State Colin Powell was telling a Washington press corps how worried the Bush Administration was by the politics of Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. It was the latest development in Washington's determination to maintain hostility against two governments the Bush Administration so much likes to hate. In Powell's hostile salvos, President Castro was labelled, as usual, as a "trouble-maker" for South American countries, and specifically accused of training "terrorists" from organisations in Colombia.

In relation to President Chavez, the 'gospel' according to the Bush people, tells of too much of a "large Cuban presence" in Venezuela. This, said Powell, could harm the "democratic system" in that country. Read all that to suggest renewed pressures from the Bush Administration on two Caribbean governments to which it remains hostile and would dearly love to have replaced. Given a chance, the current tenant in The White House would just as gladly move for "regime change" in both Havana and Caracas, as he so well planned and executed for Baghdad, in co-operation with Britain's Blair, who is now struggling to keep a straight face on that pre-emptive strike to remove the dictator Saddam Hussein. The move, we now know, was based on dangerously false information. It seems quite outrageous that while Israel is being left completely uninterrupted with its boastful weapons of mass destruction - claiming self-defence - other sovereign states in the Middle East, among them Iran and Syria, continue to be pilloried and blackened by US propaganda as posing threats to international peace and security. Should this be of concern to us as people of a poor region of the so-called 'Third World'? You bet. Size, geography, nationality and ethnicity should have nothing to do with standing up for what's right and decent, especially when your own country's security and economic development interests can be affected.

One quick assessment of the growing costs for national regional security following America's 9/11 tragedies should contribute to new thinking on why voices of governments, and civil society organisations, ought to be raised with clarity against policies and strategies of the rich and powerful that could endanger our own peace, development and security. If so-called "regime change" by bombs and bullets of the powerful should be permitted to become the norm for the new self-serving international political order they seek to impose, then the world would have to be re-schooled in concepts of the rule of law, political sovereignty, territorial integrity and the right to self-determination. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has declared the war on Iraq "illegal", told the current 59th General Assembly opening session last month that the "rule of law is at risk around the world".

I am not excusing corrupt and dictatorial regimes - ANYWHERE. Certainly not the crimes of genocide, the tribal and racial barbarism that are creating havoc with so many lives in so many parts of the world. But "regime change" by pre-emptive war can hardly be a substitute for the rule of law and conduct of international affairs with the United Nations playing a pivotal role. The now-routine scale of mass destruction of towns and communities in Iraq, by US military might, is most depressing. Whatever the Bush Administration and the right-wing hawks in the USA may think to the contrary, both presidents Castro and Chavez are legitimate and quite popular leaders of their people.

Of course, this does not mean all their policies and programmes are right and that their opponents are wrong and without legitimacy of their own. Personally, I have reservations of my own with official media policies in both Cuba and Venezuela, while being quite conscious of the gross abuses by official "media" networks in the USA structured and programmed to destabilise the Castro Government. Those in America who like to point accusing fingers on claimed "dangers to democratic governance" in other people's countries, should at least demonstrate some concerns over the electoral fraud in the State of Florida and a related controversial decision of the US Supreme Court associated with the rise of the presidency of George W Bush at the 2000 election. Let them inquire of President Jimmy Carter, America's best-known effective monitor of elections at home and abroad, while international observers and civil rights groups prepare to arrive in Florida to monitor the November 2 election. For all the already expressed concerns over "getting it right" this time in Florida, the Bush Administration ideologues find time to continue to spew new hostile propaganda against Cuba and Venezuela with Secretary of State Powell talking about a "large presence of Cubans" in Venezuela. Is Powell, who will not be secretary of state even if Bush is re-elected to office, referring to Cuba's involvement in Venezuela's literacy campaign?

Chavez, re-invigorated by the recent decisive national referendum on his presidency, has been enthusiastically praising Cuba's contributions to the literacy campaign for ensuring basic education for at least one million of Venezuela's poor. Cuba's contributions to combat illiteracy, and its assistance in providing doctors and medical workers to countries in this and other regions of the world, have won international praise. Almost 600 doctors and health workers, currently in Haiti, were fervently labouring in that poverty-stricken Caribbean nation long before the ousting of President Aristide, even as their fellow Cubans were engaged in Venezuela's campaign against illiteracy. Where is America's proof of Cubans "endangering democracy" in Venezuela? What is really behind this new "cry" from Washington about Cuba's training of Colombian "terrorists" to create security problems in this hemisphere? Does it have to do with desired "regime change" in Havana and Caracas, by a combination of external intelligence and military force? I wonder if there is any Caricom leader, party, or government that may wish to be identified with at least a brief public statement questioning the timing and relevance of Washington's renewed hostile salvos against two of our Caribbean neighbours, knowing of the implications for our own security and peaceful development!

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