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Pg. 8 | Opinion

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James Petras on Chavez v. Obama: Inter-American Court’s decision encourages corruption, says Venezuela two presidents up for reelection

Friday | September 23, 2011 | Nº 82 | Caracas

ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas

President Chavez brokers release of US Hikers from Iran

New website on human rights

Iran’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the liberation of two US citizens was based on a personal request from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

Chavez calls for palestinian state Venezuelan President Chavez addressed a letter to the United Nations this week, expressing support for an independent Palestinian state and calling on other member nations of the world community to support this necessary development. Chavez criticized US/Israeli policy towards the Palestinian people, calling it “genocide” and appealed to the humanitarian aspect of building peace between two nations at war for decades. Venezuela also reiterated its rejection of the war against Libya during the UN General Assembly in New York this week. | pages 2-3

The story of the US hikers detained in Iran has made headlines around the world, yet few of the details behind their release have been made public. A day after Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were freed from Iranian prison after two years of detention and a conviction for espionage, the Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a formal statement affirming the release was granted as “respect” for the request made by President Chavez, along with the heads of state of Iraq and Oman. For over one year, Chavez and the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry have been mediating the release of the US hikers as a unilateral, unconditional humanitarian gesture. | page 6



Venezuela and Bolivia strengthen alliance Bolivian President Evo Morales met with Chavez this week to consolidate relations. | page 4


School Year begins with new schools, free supplies Venezuela kicked off the 20112012 school year with free books and computers.| page 5


Venezuela not settling with Exxon The oil-producing nation denied an out-of-court settlement with Exxon.| page 6

Chavez: Let’s raise our voices against war, for peace and life T/ AVN


n Wednesday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez urged the people of the world to stand up in favor of peace and against imperialist attacks on sovereign nations. “May the people of the US and Europe speak out against the war. Let’s raise our voices, our songs, against war, for peace and life”, said the Venezuelan President during a phone call with the public gathered at New York City’s Riverside Church to pray for his full recovery from cancer.

The Venezuelan President made the call from Havana, Cuba where he was undergoing his fourth round of chemotherapy after having been diagnosed with cancer last June. He has since been recovering successfully. Chavez denounced aggressions against countries like Syria and Iran, as well as NATO attacks against Libya. “It’s an outrage, a farce, against Libya, for instance; threats against Syria and Iran are a threat against the world. We have to stop this craziness. I pray to

God, and I join you in spirit at Riverside Church so that God might bring us a world of peace”, said the Venezuelan leader. Chavez asked those gathered to pray for world leaders to reflect, saying, “It seems they want to take us on a path of craziness”. Additionally, Chavez recalled a speech made by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at Riverside Church against the Vietnam War. “We will live and overcome. All of my love to you”, he said when addressing and thanking the audience.

o guarantee the right to information and participation of all Venezuelans, the country will present a new website on human rights on October 7 in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 United Nations Member States. The site is located at Its twitter account is @epuve and email address is epuvenezuela@ Under the theme “Human Rights for Living Well,” Venezuela will present its progress before the UN system as part of this review which is done every four years to measure human rights achievements, strengths and weaknesses in each country. In addition to the full text of the report that will be presented by the Venezuelan government, the website gives users access to the contributions of social organizations, international human rights organizations ratified by Venezuela, as well as a space for comments.


2 | Impact

NoÊnÓÊUÊFriday, September 23, 2011

The artillery of ideas

Letter from president Hugo Chavez to the United Nations September 17, 2011 His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon Secretary General of the United Nations Mr. Secretary General: Distinguished representatives of the peoples of the world:


address these words to the United Nations General Assembly, to this great forum that represents all the people of earth, to ratify, on this day and in this setting, Venezuela’s full support of the recognition of the Palestinian State: of Palestine’s right to become a free, sovereign and independent state. This represents an act of historic justice towards a people who carry with them, from time immemorial, all the pain and suffering of the world. In his memorable essay The Grandeur of Arafat, the great French philosopher Gilles Deleuze wrote with the full weight of the truth: The Palestinian cause is first and foremost the set of injustices that these people have suffered and continue to suffer. And I dare add that the Palestinian cause also represents a constant and unwavering will to resist, already written in the historic memory of the human condition. A will to resist that is born of the most profound love for the earth. Mahmoud Darwish, the infinite voice of the longedfor Palestine, with heartfelt conscience speaks about this love: We don’t need memories/ because we carry within us Mount Carmelo/ and in our eyelids is the herb of Galilee/ Don’t say: If only we could flow to my country like a river!/ Don’t say that!/ Because we are in the flesh of our country/ and our country is in our flesh. Against those who falsely assert that what has happened to the Palestinian people is not genocide, Deleuze himself states with unfaltering lucidity: From beginning to end, it involved acting as if the Palestinian people not only must not exist, but had never existed. It represents the very essence of genocide: to decree that a people do not exist; to deny them the right to existence.

In this regard, the great Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo is quite right when he forcefully states: The biblical promise of the land of Judea and Samaria to the tribes of Israel is not a notarized property contract that authorizes the eviction of those who were born and live on that land. This is precisely why conflict resolution in the Middle East must, necessarily, bring justice to the Palestinian people; this is the only path to peace. It is upsetting and painful that the same people who suffered one of the worst examples of genocide in history have become the executioners of the Palestinian people: it is upsetting and painful that the heritage of the Holocaust be the Nakba. And it is truly disturbing that Zionism continues to use the charge of anti-Semitism as blackmail against those who oppose their violations and crimes. Israel has, blatantly and despicably, used and continues to use the memory of the victims. And they do so to act with complete impunity against Palestine. It’s worth mentioning that anti-Semitism is a Western, European, scourge in which the Arabs do not participate. Furthermore, let’s not forget that it is the Semite Palestine people who suffer from the ethnic cleansing practiced by the Israeli colonialist State.

I want to make myself clear: It is one thing to denounce antiSemitism, and an entirely different thing to passively accept that Zionistic barbarism enforces an apartheid regime against the Palestinian people. From an ethical standpoint those who denounce the first, must condemn the second. A necessary digression: it is frankly abusive to confuse Zionism with Judaism. Throughout time we have been reminded of this by several Jewish intellectuals such as Albert Einstein and Erich Fromm. And today there are an ever increasing number of conscientious citizens, within Israel itself, who openly oppose Zionism and its criminal and terrorist practices. We must spell it out: Zionism, as a world vision, is absolutely racist. Irrefutable proof of this can be seen in these words written with terrifying cynicism by Golda Meir: “How are we to return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to. There is no such thing as a Palestinian people. It is not as people think, that there existed a people called Palestinians, who considered themselves as Palestinians, and that we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist". It is important to remember that: from the end of the 19th century, Zionism called for the

return of the Jewish people to Palestine and the creation of a national State of its own. This approach was beneficial for French and British colonialism, as it would later be for Yankee imperialism. The West has always encouraged and supported the Zionist occupation of Palestine by military means. Read and reread the document historically known as the Balfour Declaration of 1917: the British Government assumed the legal authority to promise a national home in Palestine to the Jewish people, deliberately ignoring the presence and wishes of its inhabitants. Christians and Muslims lived in peace for centuries in the Holy Land up until the time when Zionism began to claim it as its complete and exclusive property. Let’s not forget that beginning in the second decade of the 20th century, Zionism started to develop expansionist plans by taking advantage of the colonial British occupation of Palestine. By the end of World War II, the Palestinian people’s tragedy worsened, with their expulsion from their territory and, at the same time, from history. In 1947, the despicable and illegal UN resolution 181 recommends dividing Palestine into a Jewish State, an Arab State, and an area under international control (Jerusalem and Belem). Shamefully, 56 percent

of the territory was granted to Zionism to establish its State. In fact, this resolution violated international law and blatantly ignored the will of the vast Arab majority: the right to self-determination of the people became a dead letter. From 1948 to date, the Zionist State has continually applied its criminal strategy against the Palestinian people with the constant support of its unconditional ally, the United States of America. This unconditional allegiance is clearly observed by the fact that Israel directs and sets US international policy for the Middle East. That’s why the great Palestinian and universal conscience Edward Said stated that any peace agreement built on the alliance with the United States would be an alliance that confirms Zionist power, rather than one that confronts it. Contrary to what Israel and the United States are trying to make the world believe through transnational media outlets, what happened and continues to happen in Palestine —using Said’s words— is not a religious conflict, but a political conflict, with a colonial and imperialist stamp. It did not begin in the Middle East, but rather in Europe. What was and continues to be at the heart of the conflict? Debate and discussion has prioritized Israel’s security while ignoring Palestine’s. This is corroborated by recent events; a good example is the latest act of genocide set off by Israel during its Operation Molten Lead in Gaza. Palestine’s security cannot be reduced to the simple acknowledgement of a limited selfgovernment and self-policing in its “enclaves” along the west bank of the Jordan and in the Gaza Strip. This ignores the creation of the Palestinian State, in the borders set prior to 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital; and the rights of its citizens and their self-determination as a people. This further disregards the compensation and subsequent return to the Homeland of 50 percent of the Palestinian people who are scattered all over the world, as established by resolution 194. Letter continued on page 3

NoÊnÓÊUÊFriday, September 23, 2011

The artillery of ideas It's unbelievable that a country (Israel) that owes its existence to a general assembly resolution could be so disdainful of the resolutions that emanate from the UN, said Father Miguel D’Escoto when pleading for the end of the massacre against the people of Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009. Mr. Secretary General and distinguished representatives of the peoples of the world: It is impossible to ignore the crisis in the United Nations. In 2005, before this very same General Assembly, we argued that the United Nations model had become exhausted. The fact that the debate on the Palestinian issue has been delayed and is being openly sabotaged reconfirms this. For several days, Washington has been stating that, at the Security Council, it will veto what will be a majority resolution of the General Assembly: the recognition of Palestine as a full member of the UN. In the Statement of Recognition of the Palestinian State, Venezuela, together with the sister Nations that make up the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), have denounced that such a just aspiration could be blocked by this means. As we know, the empire, in this and other instances, is trying to impose its double standard on the world stage: US double standards are violating international law in Libya, while allowing Israel to do whatever it pleases, thus becoming the main accomplice of the Palestinian genocide being carried out. Edward Said touched a nerve when he wrote, “Israeli interests in the United States have made the US Middle East policy Israeli-centric”. I would like to conclude with the voice of Mahmoud Darwish in his memorable poem On This Earth: We have on this earth what makes life worth living: On this earth, the lady of earth, Mother of all beginnings/ Mother of all ends. She was called… Palestine/ Her name later became… Palestine./ My Lady, because you are my Lady, I deserve life. It will continue to be called Palestine: Palestine will live and overcome! Long-live free, sovereign and independent Palestine! Hugo Chavez President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela




Chavez to UN: Recognition of independent palestinian state is an “act of justice” T/ COI P/ Agencies


enezuelan President Hugo Chavez ratified his government’s support for recognition of the State of Palestine last week in a letter addressed to United Nation’s General Secretary Ban Ki Moon. The letter was written prior to the opening debate on Wednesday at the UN on the call for statehood based on 1967 borders by the Palestinian people who have lived under Israeli occupation for more than 60 years. In the letter, Chavez referred to the call for recognition as “an act of justice” for a people who have carried “all the pain and suffering in the world”. Citing the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, the Venezuelan President called the continued Israel occupation of Palestinian territories in the Middle East to the product of a “series of injustices” which have yet to be rectified by the international community. “For those who falsely claim that what has happened to Palestinian people isn’t genocide, the very Deleuze states with clarity: Its not only about ma-

king the case that the Palestinian people should not exist, but rather that they should never have existed. That’s the central point of genocide – a decree that a people do not exist, a denial of their right to existence”, Chavez wrote. Since the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, millions of Palestinians have died as a result of an occupation that represents the most important issue facing the Arab world. A large percentage of those deaths have been children. Israeli casualties at the hands of terrorists have also served to sharpen the conflict but these deaths represent a fraction of those suffered by the less equipped and economically handicapped Palestinians. The United States, a firm supporter of the state of Israel and the major supplier of arms to the country, has vowed to veto any measure of statehood for the Palestinians in the UN’s Security Council. For Chavez, US arrogance and defiance of the international community’s will again highlights the dysfunctional nature of the organization which has failed to take action

on key issues not in-line with Washington’s interest. “It’s impossible to ignore the crisis of the United Nations. We declared in 2005 before this very General Assembly that the model of the United Nations has been worn out. The fact that the debate on the Palestinian question has been postponed and that it is being openly sabotaged is a new confirmation of this fact”. he accused. REJECT ANTI-SEMITISM In his letter, Chavez also made a clear distinction between the need to reject antiSemitism while at the same time condemn the colonialism which has led to the displacement of the Palestinians. “It is painful and causes indignation the fact that those who suffered one of the worst genocides in history have become the executioners of the Palestinian people. It is painful and causes indignation that the inheritance of the holocaust has been the Nakba. And its outrageous that Zionism continues to use the blackmail of anti-Semitism against those who oppose its abuses and its crimes”, he wrote.

“I want you to understand me”, the President added “it’s one thing to reject anti-Semitism and another thing to passively accept the Zionist barbarism imposing a regime of apartheid on the Palestinian people. From an ethical point of view, those who reject the first must reject the second”, he asserted. MADURO AT UN As Chavez continues to receive chemotherapy treatment for a tumor extracted in mid-June, Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro spoke this week to members of the General Assembly in place of the recovering President. “There needs to be more democracy in the United Nations”, Maduro said on Monday after meeting with his Palestine counterpart, Riyad Al Maliki in New York. Apart from the topic of UN reform and the question of Palestine, the rejection of NATO’s continued aggressions against Libya also played a prominent role in Minister Maduro’s address. The UN “must recognize the right of people to work towards peace, not to endorse war”, the minister said. “It must demand an end to the bombings against the Libyan people”, he declared.


4 | Integration

NoÊnÓÊUÊFriday September 23 2011

The artillery of ideas

Chavez and Evo strengthen alliance; criticize US

FINAL CHEMO SESSION The meeting between Chavez and Morales occurred before the two leaders departed for Cuba the same evening. The Bolivian President left for an official visit to the island while Hugo Chavez arrived to undergo his fourth chemotherapy treatment session “to close the cycle of convalescence”. “They’re going to do some exams and early tomorrow [Monday], I’ll be starting the fourth chemotherapy treatment. Most probably, this will be the last and we’ll turn the page. Good-bye life threatening cancer”, he declared.

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez received his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales, last Saturday in an official visit which saw a further strengthening of bilateral relations between the two allied South American nations T/ COI P/ Presidential Press


he meeting took place in the Presidential Palace of Miraflores in Caracas where the leaders discussed new cooperative projects and the mutually beneficial relationship enjoyed by both states through their participation in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) regional bloc. “We welcome you during this most special moment for the world and for Our America”, President Chavez said, greeting Morales on Saturday. ALBA, a multilateral body comprised of 9 Latin American and Caribbean nations, was founded in 2004 as a fair trade alternative to the free market policies dictated by the United States and the Washington Consensus. Since its inception, the alliance has permitted greater economic and social integration in the region, building bridges of unity through the signing of accords in areas such as commerce, culture, politics, and sports. Bolivia and Venezuela, two of the principal members of the organization, have forged especially strong relations in recent years, solidifying development projects in productive sectors including communications, energy, mining, agriculture and technology. “We’re liberating ourselves, little by little, from the US dollar. At the beginning it’s a small step foward, but we’re advancing”, Chavez said.

“The production of marijuana in the United States is greater than the production of corn and soy”, said Nestor Reverol, Venezuelan Viceminister of Citizen Security in reference to Washington’s double standards.

To further this independence from the US economy, Venezuela has also created ALBA retail stores to offer textile products from member states at prices below the costs of private chain stores and distributors. Morales’ visit to Venezuela on Saturday coincided with the opening of a new ALBA store in the recently inaugurated Caribia City, Venezuela’s first socialist metropolis that officially came into existence last August. President Chavez also designated $403.3 million to build an additional 7,000 homes in Caribia through the assistance of both Iranian and Chinese firms. “May Caribia continue to grow!” the Venezuelan head of state exclaimed. MORALES CRITICIZES US BLACKLIST During his visit to Caracas, the Bolivian head of state spoke out against continued US interference in Latin American affairs, calling Washington’s decision to include both Bolivia and Venezuela on a list of nation’s failing to cooperate in the fight against drugs as unjustified.

“In South America, we are the only two countries that have been de-certified by the United States in the fight against narco-trafficking… If we had [US] military bases in Venezuela and Bolivia, surely we would be certified. What authority does the United States have? Who is it that de-certifies the United States?” Morales questioned. Bolivia expelled the US ambassador to its country in 2008 after revelations of the embassy’s meddling in the internal politics of the nation. Both Venezuela and Bolivia have also expelled the US Drug Enforcement Agency from their territories due to the organization’s links to subversive activities in country. Since the DEA has been removed, Venezuela has increased its anti-drug operations, seizing record amounts of illicit substances and arresting more drug kingpins than at any other time in its history. ADVANCES IN COUNTER-NARCOTICS According to a recent report released by the Venezuela government, the OPEC member

state has obtained the fifth highest global ranking in the fight against drugs, arresting more than 69 cartel leaders sought by Interpol over the past 5 years. Bolivia likewise has moved forward with its anti-drug initiatives, clamping down on cocaine production in the country while maintaining the ancestral use of coca leaves legal and regulated. Morales referred to Washington’s latest accusations of “non-cooperation” as yet another example of how the North American government uses the topic of drugs to discredit nations that challenge US hegemony in the Americas. When the former miner was working a union activist in his country, the United Sates also accused him of participating in narco-trafficking, something that the Bolivian President said “could never be proven”. The Venezuelan government points out that, apart for the US being the largest consumer of illegal drugs in the hemisphere, it also has seen a substantial increase in marijuana cultivation recently.

TOWARDS VICTORY IN 2012 With respect to the nation’s presidential elections, slated for October 7, 2012, Chavez reaffirmed on Saturday his confidence in winning a third term in office. “What’s coming in 2012 is a Bolivarian Hurricane”, Chavez announced in reference to his revolutionary movement named after Caracas-born independence hero Simon Bolivar. “We will demonstrate once again to the world, to the Venezuelan bourgeoisie, to ourselves, the people and the party that we are capable [of winning]”, he assured. Some 10,000 registration points for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) have been placed around the country to sign-up grassroots activists to work on the presidential campaign. Through this week, the largest political organization in the country, headed by Chavez, will be enlisting members to form part of their “patrols” to canvass neighborhoods and organize voter turnout for next year’s elections. Last week, Chavez called his presidential campaign “Mission October 7” and set as the party’s goal, the obtainment of 10 million votes, which would be above 60% of the electorate.

NoÊnÓÊUÊFriday September 23 2011

The artillery of ideas


School year begins in Venezuela with free books, computers & supplies T/ COI P/ Agencies

The Bicentennial Scholastic Fairs, offering everything from new shoes to pencils and pens, have been “a great help” for parents in need of quality supplies at fair prices, according to Ana Galinda, mother of a primary school student from the eastern state of Anzoategui. The government has invested 50 million bolivars ($11.6 million) in the markets which will continue to operate through September, with some running until the end of October.


et to the rhythm of traditional song and dance, more than 5 million students returned to classes last Monday as a combined effort from the Venezuelan Ministries of Culture, Sports, and Education brought a festive atmosphere to the new scholastic year. In more than 3,000 public learning institutions throughout the national territory, primary and secondary students participated in a variety of back to school activities, receiving a package of free academic materials designed to further increase access to a quality education for all children. “The country is celebrating the return to classes”, said Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua on Monday. A highlight for many second and fourth graders taking part in the celebration has been the arrival of new “Canaima” computers. More than 900,000 minilaptop computers, named after the famous Venezuelan national park and loaded with educational software, were delivered to students as a means of strengthening the nation’s multi-media and technological

curriculum both inside and outside the classroom. Twelve million Math, Language, Literature, and Social Science textbooks produced by a combination of government agencies were also given to primary school students while 7 million free notebooks manufactured by the worker co-managed plant Invepal were handed out in insitutions nationwide. “I’m really happy and surprised by the free books and

notebooks that were in my little boy’s desk as well as those of the other children”, said Katiuska Martinez, mother from the state of Portuguesa, during her son’s return to class earlier this week. Apart from the free supplies, the Venezuelan government has also been carrying out scholastic markets in 20 states around the country, providing parents with considerable savings on back to school materials.

Venezuela deports 7 drug traffickers, including 1 from the US T/ AVN


ver the last few years, Venezuela has deported 69 drug lords, all of whom were wanted under INTERPOL red alerts. Out of the 69 drug lords, 15 have been handed over to authorities of the United States, “thanks to intelligence efforts and to the National Anti-Drug Plan, as well as our permanent coordination as part of the cooperation accords we have signed

in matters of counter-narcotics efforts”, explained Venezuela’s Minister of Interior and Justice, Tareck El Aissami. This past Monday, Venezuela deported seven people involved in drug smuggling activities; six of them from Colombia and one from the United States. At Simon Bolivar International Airport outside Caracas, El Aissami stated that these deportations “are part of pertinent and effective anti-drug policies

implemented in the country to fight drug trafficking”. The deportation of these citizens, “is part of a sovereign policy to ratify the commitment of our government”, he affirmed. “I hope the United States would do the same”, he added. El Aissami has noted on different opportunities that Venezuela has made more arrests and deportations of drug lords since the country suspended relations with the US Drug

SCHOOL NUTRITION In addition to the academic supplies being provided by the Chavez administration, a comprehensive school meal program has also been launched to ensure a well-balanced diet for all children attending classes. More than 4 million students will benefit from the free program, carried out through the collaboration of Venezuela’s National Nutrition Institute (INN) and geared towards improving attendance rates while at the same time ensuring the health of the nation’s future. NEW & RENOVATED SCHOOLS Education Minister Maryann Hanson informed last Monday that hundreds of educational facilities throughout Venezuela have been getting a facelift as communities re-

Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2005, because the US agency devoted most of its time to spying rather than to fighting drug trafficking. DEPORTATIONS The Colombian citizens deported last Monday were Jose Eyeimer Reyes Galarza, Jorge Alfredo Santaella Ayala, Raul Peña, Ruberney Vergara Sanabria, Yesid Rios Suarez, and Didier Gerson Rios Galindo, who are now being held by the national police of their country. These citizens are charged with the crimes of illicit drug trafficking, conspiracy, extortion, selling and processing of narcotics, illicit enrichment,


5| vamp the electrical systems, plumbing, and aesthetics of grammar schools and high schools around the nation. Through the ministry’s initiative “A Drop of Love for My School”, 679 schools will have been renovated or built by the end of 2012, Hanson reported. During an interview on public television Monday, the minister said that the the program is a result of the Chavez administration’s policy priority of investing in primary and secondary education. “The opposition says that we don’t have a plan for school infrastructure. Of course we do. We have a plan that since its beginning has been carrying out preventive maintenance on 320 schools, 220 of which have already been completed”, Hanson stated. Twenty-three new preschools, called “Little Simons” or “Simoncitos” in homage to independence hero Simon Bolivar, have also been inaugurated this past week in addition to 26 new schools nationally. “In total, of the 49 new physical installations, we’re inaugurating 23 Simoncitos in order to continue deepening the public spaces necessary for pre-school education – a very important stage in the social and emotional development of our children”, the Education Minister said. With the opening of the new facilities, the government has now created 7,000 pre-schools over the past decade, providing day care, meals and educational activities for children from infancy to 6 years old.

money laundering, kidnapping and murder. Meanwhile, US citizen Lionel Scott Harris was one of the most wanted persons by authorities in his country. He belongs to a network of narcotics trafficking. As part of its fight against drug trafficking, Venezuela has invested $26 million to obtain 10 radars manufactured in China, which are currently being used to monitor Venezuela’s air space to detect unauthorized and illegal flights. An additional 18 K8 airplanes were also acquired from the Asian nation for surveillance aimed at preventing the illicit trafficking of drugs.


6 | Politics

NoÊnÓÊUÊFriday September 23 2011

The artillery of ideas

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez brokers release of US hikers from Iran The Iranian Foreign Ministry has confirmed the release of Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer was in large part due to the request and mediation efforts of President Chavez

tarian gesture, he would request release of Bauer and Fattal, and on September 21, the two left the Iranian prison, where they had been held for more than two years, to finally go home.

T/ Eva Golinger P/ Agencies


ran’s release of US citizens Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer on Wednesday, September 21, made headlines worldwide, but little details were initially provided regarding the reasons behind their liberation. The Iranian Foreign Ministry has now publicy affirmed the release of Fattal and Bauer was in response to requests made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, along with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of state of Iraq and Oman. The two US citizens were originally detained on July 31, 2009, along with Sarah Shroud, after they were caught by Iranian border guards who claimed they had entered Iranian territory without authorization. The three young US citizens alleged they were hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan, a touristy area for outdoor activities that

borders Iran, and were kidnapped by the Iranian security forces while on Iraqi territory. They were immediately taken to Tehran and jailed, accused of espionage and illegal entry into the country. After more than a year in detention, Sarah Shroud was released on $500,000 bail last September 14, 2010, on humanitarian grounds due to a health condition. The trial against the three US citizens began on February 6, 2011, without the presence of Shroud, who remained in the US with her family, fighting for the release of her two friends, one of whom, Shane, became her fian-

ceé while in prison. On August 20, 2011, Bauer and Fattal were convicted of “illegal entry” and “espionage” by the Iranian court and sentenced to a prison term of 8 years. Spying typically carries a death sentence in Iran. During the past few weeks, rumors circulated regarding the imminent release of the two “US hikers”, as they’ve been referred to by news media. Their lawyer in Iran, Masoud Shafiei, had announced to the press that despite their 8-year sentence, they would soon be released. In early September, Iranian President Ahmadinejad affirmed that by unilateral humani-

VENEZUELA’S ROLE While the US government failed to facilitate in anyway the release of the three US hikers, Venezuela played a key role. Soon after the initial detention of the hikers, an informal request was made to President Hugo Chavez to intervene on behalf of the three US citizens, based on Venezuela’s close ties with Iran. Chavez, who formerly and successfully mediated the release of several hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2007-2008, including several US citizens, agreed to get involved. Over the past year and a half, Venezuela has played a key role in mediating and negotiating the release of Bauer and Fattal. Pleas were also made directly to President Chavez requesting his involvement in the release of the hikers by US author Noam Chomsky and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, along with Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn and other allies of Venezuela. While Chavez made the request to release Bauer and Fattal directly to President

Ahmadinejad, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry dealt with the details of the mediation process for their liberation. Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement a day after the release on Thursday, September 22, confirming the important role Venezuelan President Chavez played in the release of Bauer and Fattal. “The statement said that after the completion of the judicial processing, the Islamic Republic of Iran released the other two on bail again due to Islamic kindness and affection and in order to show respect for the mediation efforts made by several world leaders, including UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon and top authorities of several friendly states like Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Omani King Sultan Qaboos as well as a number of religious figures, who have all requested their freedom”, reported FNA. According to Venezuelan officials, President Chavez’s involvement in mediating the release of Bauer and Fattal was a “pure, humanitarian gesture of solidarity”. Once again, President Chavez has played a major role in assuring the freedom of US citizens imprisoned for different reasons around the world.

drive by President Hugo Chavez. Exxon, along with other international companies that accepted the new terms, were given the option to continue their ventures in Venezuela. Exxon and another US company, ConocoPhillips refused, while Chevron Texaco, Total,

Repsol and other multinations gladly agreed. Last year, Exxon cut its claim against Venezuela to $7 billion from the initial $12 billion the company had asked for its crude oil project. PdVSA officials have said that they expect decisions in the Exxon and ConocoPhillips cases this year.

Venezuela not negotiating settlement with Exxon, despite media reports T/ Agencies


enezuela's oil minister, Rafael Ramirez, moved quickly Wednesday to quash unfounded media reports that the member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was negotiating a $6 billion settlement in its arbitration case with Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), and released a statement saying the sides weren't in direct talks. "I want to make clear to Venezuela and the world that

we are not in any discussions with Exxon Mobil to negotiate this litigation outside the procedures that have taken place in the international arbitration", said Ramirez, who is also chief of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, SA (PDVSA). On Wednesday, Reuters falsely reported that Ramirez said Venezuela was looking to pay $1 billion in its arbitration case with Exxon for assets seized during a nationalization campaign in 2007.

Venezuelan Attorney General Carlos Escarra also clarified that Venezuela follows strict legal procedures regarding international arbitration and that media reports regarding some kind of sideline negotiation were outright false. Exxon chose to abandon their multibillion-dollar investments in Venezuela's Orinoco heavy crude oil belt rather than reduce their stakes on the government's terms in the wake of a 2007 nationalization

NoÊnÓÊUÊFriday September 23 2011

The artillery of ideas


Inter-American Court’s decision promotes corruption, says Venezuela T/ COI P/ Agencies


n response to a ruling last week by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR), top-ranking members of the Venezuelan government said “political bias” permeated the court’s conduct and called for an end to the opposition´s use of international institutions as, “an open license to violate laws, commit crimes, and to be protected or pardoned solely for belonging to the opposition”. The statements came in response to the publication late last Friday of an IACHR opinion on behalf of Leopoldo Lopez, an opposition politician temporarily barred from holding public office for corruption and knowingly accepting illegal donations while working for publicly-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). LOPEZ VS. VENEZUELA After months of deliberations, the IACHR recently published its opinion in the Case of Lopez vs. Venezuela by first prefacing with the assertion that it did not seek to “resolve the issue of innocence or guilt of Mr. Lopez” but only to address the sanction against him. In the opinion of the court, Lopez´s prohibition from holding public office until 2014 was an “inappropriate restriction of political rights”, not because he can´t run for office – a right which the court recognizes can and should be regulated by national governments – but because the ban was the result of an “administrative procedure” and not a decision by a “competent court or judge.” The regional court based the entirety of its opinion on the wording of Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights, stating that the Venezuelan government´s sanctioning of Lopez “imposed a clear restriction on one of his political rights (to be elected)” without “meeting the requirements for doing so (the sentencing by a competent court in criminal proceedings)”. Venezuelan law that prohibits corrupt officials from holding

public office is based on anti-corruption legislation first enacted in 1975, ratified in 1984 and 1995, and later reformed in 2001 by a majority vote in the country’s National Assembly. In addition, Article 65 of the Venezuelan Constitution (1999) reads: "Persons who have been convicted of crimes committed while holding office or other offenses against public property, shall be ineligible to run for any office filled by popular vote, for such period as may be prescribed by law after serving their sentences, depending on the seriousness of the offense". The uncovering of corrupt officials is a shared responsibility within the Venezuelan legal system, with the nation´s Comptroller General tasked with undertaking specific investigations and issuing the associated sanctions. After an investigation by former Comptroller General Clodosbaldo Russian (2000-2011) revealed the Lopez role in misappropriating at least $106,000 in public resources, the founder of opposition party Voluntad Popular was barred from holding public office until 2014. Lopez

appealed the sanction, which was ratified by the country’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) as a result. Frustrated by the consequences of anti-corruption laws in place, Lopez took his case to the Inter-American court. OFFICIAL RESPONSE Hours after the IACHR published its opinion, Venezuela´s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement in which it classified the IACHR ruling as “politically biased” and an “attempt to impose decisions on Venezuela that are by nature strictly internal, constitutional, and legal”. The Ministry also affirmed that the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, “faced with the politically positioning” of the regional court, “calls on Venezuela’s institutions to reaffirm the legallyestablished commitment to punish all acts of corruption” and “reject both national and international maneuvering that seeks to present as victims of political persecution those politicians found to have committed administrative irregularities while holding public office”.

According to the official statement, the Venezuelan government “will await the autonomous decisions of the Supreme Court of Justice on this matter, in strict accordance with the constitution and the laws of the Republic”, before making any changes to Lopez´s standing administrative sanction. LOPEZ 2012? Lopez responded to the IACHR opinion differently, claiming the Venezuelan government is “obligated to accept this decision” and went on to declare, “Beginning right now I nominate myself to participate in, and win, the February 2012 primaries”. The Venezuelan opposition is currently debating who will face Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in next year´s presidential elections, scheduled for October 7, 2012. Speaking to reporters on Monday, National Electoral Council (CNE) representative Socorro Hernandez said, “The situation in the case of Leopoldo (Lopez) is not something the CNE can make its own decisions about”. Instead, she said, “it’s a question of waiting on a decision by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice


7| (TSJ) so the CNE can do what it says”. Socorro added that, in her opinion, “it would be difficult to say Leopoldo Lopez doesn’t have political rights when we see him every day speaking publicly in the news media”. “NO” TO IACHR DECISION “They’ve turned Leopoldo Lopez into an international celebrity so as to cover up his responsibilities” in acts of corruption, said Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Nicolas Maduro in response to opposition celebrations of the IACHR ruling. According to Cilia Flores, socialist lawmaker and former President of the National Assembly (2006-2011), the IACHR decision “was pre-prepared” and “is a decision with a political objective of provocation”. Venezuelan General Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz agreed, saying that “international organisms” such as the IACHR “don’t have the legal authority to force Venezuela into annulling” laws based on the nation’s constitutional order. In comments to the press, Diaz reminded viewers that the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights was first established to assure respect for the rights and responsibilities of states and citizens in the Americas and that when disagreements exist over said rights, the constitution, laws, and internal judicial order of each country “prevail over decisions of the (regional) court”. Public Defender Gabriela Ramirez also rejected the court´s findings, saying “the decision is revealing of an old paradigm in which the individual, his or her authority…is given priority over the interests of the people”. When it comes to Human Rights, Ramirez said, Venezuela “prioritizes the people´s interests before anything else”. Venezuelan Attorney General Carlos Escarra declared, “it’s appalling when an international institution, which claims to be serious, acts more like a center for business transactions and political games than an actual court”. Escarra went on to reiterate that Lopez´s sanction remains a decision of the Venezuelan justice system. Putting it simply, he said, “If the constitutional order says we should apply the (IACHR) decision, we will. If not, well, then we won´t”.

ENGLISH EDITION The artillery of ideas

Friday | September 23, 2011 | Nº 82 | Caracas |

A publication of the Fundacion Correo del OrinocoÊUÊ `ˆÌœÀ‡ˆ˜‡ …ˆivÊEva GolingerÊUÊÀ>«…ˆVÊ iÈ}˜ÊAlexander Uzcátegui, Jameson JiménezÊUÊ*ÀiÃÃÊFundación Imprenta de la Cultura

Chavez v. Obama: facing presidential elections in 2012 James Petras


wo incumbent presidents are running for re-election in 2012, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Barack Obama in the United States. What makes these 2 electoral contests significant is that they represent contrasting responses to the global economic crises: Chavez following his democratic socialist program pursues policies promoting large scale long-term public investment and spending directed at employment, social welfare and economic growth: Obama guided by his ideological commitment to corporate financial capitalism, pours billions into bailing out Wall Street speculators, focuses on reducing the public deficit and slashes taxes and offers government subsidies to business. Obama’s strategy is directed toward enriching the elite, hoping for a “trickle down” effect. Chavez’s economic recovery program is based on the public sector, the state, taking the lead in light of the capitalist market induced crises and the failure of the private sector to invest. Obama’s economic recovery and employment program depends wholly on the private sector, utilizing tax handouts to stimulate domestic investments which generate employment. Over the past 3 years, both presidents faced a deep socioeconomic crisis resulting in increased unemployment, economic recession and popular demands for political leadership in formulating an economic recovery program. President Chavez responded via large scale public spending on social programs. Billions were allocated in a massive housing program designed to create 2 million homes over the next several years. Chavez increased the minimum wage, social security and pension payments, increasing

consumption among low income groups, stimulating demand and increasing revenues for small and medium size businesses. The state embarked on large scale infrastructure projects, especially highways and transport, creating jobs in labor intensive activities. The Chavez government nationalized lucrative gold mines and repatriated overseas reserves in the course of financing its demand driven economic recovery program, eschewing tax concessions to the rich and bailouts of bankrupt banks and private businesses. Obama rejected any large scale long term public investments to create jobs: his “Jobs for America” proposal will at best temporarily reduce unemployment by less than five tenths of one percent. In pursuit of policies benefiting Wall Street bondholders, Obama became deeply involved in deficit reduction, meaning large scale cuts in public spending especially in social expenditures. Obama

in agreement with the extreme rightwing agreed to regressive proposals to reduce tax payments for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. His proposals to fund “Jobs for America” depends on cuts in the Social Security tax which ensures a reduction in payments and a deficit or worse, which would facilitate privatization – handing social security to Wall Street, a trillion dollar plum. Obama increased military spending, multiplying overseas combat troops, clandestine terror operations and the domestic spy apparatus, increasing the deficits at the expense of productive investments in education, technology skill upgrades and export promotion. Unlike Chavez who makes a point of highlighting positive job and education policies for Afro and Indo-Venezuelans, Obama ignores the 50% unemployed big city young (18-25) Afro-Americans and Latinos in favor of serving white Wall Street bankers.

In contrast to Chavez who pegged pensions and wages to inflation and enforced price controls, Obama froze federal salaries and social security payments resulting in a seven percent decline in real income over the past 3 years. According to the latest US Census Bureau data (September 2011), under Obama over 46.2 million in the US live in poverty, the highest figure ever. Median household income dropped 2.3% between 2009-2010. Nearly 1 out of 4 children live in poverty in 2010, as over 2.6 million more US citizens were impoverished in a single year. The political and economic consequences of Obama’s “top down” and Chavez “bottom up” socio-economic polices are striking in every respect. Venezuela grew 3.6% in the first half of 2011 while the US stagnated at less than 2%. Worse still, during the second half of the year Obama and his advisers expressed fear that the US is heading

toward a “double dip” recession – negative growth. In contrast the President of Venezuela’s Central Bank predicted accelerated growth for 2012. Obama’s deficit reductions have led to massive firings in education and social services. Chavez social expenditures have augmented the number of public universities, secondary and primary schools and clinics. Millions have lost their homes as Obama ignored the forced evictions of the mortgage banks, while Chavez has made a start in solving the housing deficit via 2 million new homes. As a result of the reactionary top down economics he practices and his overt threats to cut basic social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, Obama’s popularity has fallen over the past 3 years from 80% to 40% and heading downwards. As of the last quarter of 2011, Obama appears vulnerable to electoral defeat. In contrast President Chavez, riding the wave of economic recovery, based on positive programs of social expansion and public investments, has seen his popularity rise from 43% in March 2010 to 59.3% as of September 2011. Comparing Chavez and Obama presents a sharp contrast between a successful bottom up socialist informed economic recovery program and a failed top down capitalist stimulus program. If the Chavez government continues this path, he will in all likelihood be re-elected by a landslide in 2012. In contrast if Obama continues to truckle to the corporate and financial elite and slash and burn social programs he will continue his downward slide into well-deserved defeat and oblivion. Venezuela’s economic recovery via advanced social programs is a powerful message to the US people: there is an alternative to regressive ‘top down’ economic policies: it’s called democratic socialism and its advocate is President Chavez, who talks to and works for the people as opposed to the con-man Obama who talks to the people and works for the rich.

English Edition Nº 82  

President Chavez brokers release of US Hikers from Iran. Iran’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the liberation of two US citizens was basedon a p...

English Edition Nº 82  

President Chavez brokers release of US Hikers from Iran. Iran’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the liberation of two US citizens was basedon a p...