Monday, March 31, 2008

Kenneth T. Tellis: "Perhaps a South American COMMON MARKET would be the real answer"

VHeadline commentarist Kenneth T. Tellis writes: The keys to the world are sometimes the control of food and other products being made available to countries, which can be manipulated to create unnecessary shortages if the controls are held by monopolies like corporations.

The recent shortages of foodstuffs in Venezuela which were the result of a deliberate policy against Venezuela, was actually planned to make the Bolivarian revolution look like a failure.

But as we discovered later they were set in motion by the U.S. Government and many of its overseas agencies. There was therefore not much that the Chavez government could do, but check into the reasons why these shortages occurred locally, and then try to catch hoarders within Venezuela.

But the main thrust to break the shortages could not be dealt with, because they were created well outside the borders of the country, and the government's hands were therefore tied. Now let's look at the situation very clearly.

Why is the international coffee market located in New York, USA, instead of Brasilia, Brazil, where most of the world's coffee is produced?
  • It's time that this was amended and the International Coffee Market located in Brazil, instead of New York, USA.
Now think of a fruit producing country like Costa Rica, and where most of its produce goes to? Why of course the U.S. and this allows the U.S. control over its pricing. In the case of Costa Rica which is tied to the U.S. under the CAFTA, this hold cannot be broken, so things will stay as it now stands.

Then there is course Colombia, Mexico and Peru, three of which are tied to the U.S. by agreements and are therefore really nothing more states which are under U.S. puppet regimes. If countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba, Paraguay, Nicaragua and Venezuela form a COMMON MARKET along with others countries of South America and the Caribbean, they can work out ways to have an ample supply of all they produce available to other member states without outside control over the supply lines, and thus there would no longer be any real shortages in South America or the Caribbean ... because U.S. Corporations like Chiquita (United Fruit) would no longer be in control the produce market of South America.

So, as can be seen, its time to remove the wrinkles and work out a plan for a better distribution of every day products and goods to all the countries in the region, without having some country not belonging to the area controlling the supply and demand of these goods.
  • Remember as long as countries like the U.S. controlled the means of supply and demand, Latin America was at their mercy.
That would not happen if the controls were of a local nature. Venezuela would not have the shortages, as has been happening, and neither would any other country in the area be at the mercy of U.S. Corporations.

That would make a world of difference to the people of South America and the Caribbean region.

Kenneth T. Tellis

Aristobulo Isturiz: Venezuelan Socialist Unity Party (PSUV) is a guaranteed arena for debate of ideas in the country

Isturiz said on the Jose Vicente Hoy program of Televen channel that the group he represents is a means for the government to relate to other political groups. 'It is our responsibility to stay in touch with our allies in the process of change going on around the country,' the socialist leader explained. He added that his comrades must stop arrogance and sectarianism wherever it appears, because debate is important and cannot isolate any political force.

Patrick J. O'Donoghue's round up of news from Venezuela

Both media meetings that have dominated political life in Caracas over the weekend have ended. The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has stated that nothing has changed in the Venezuelan government's harassment of the opposition media, while at the same time downplaying the assassination of 5 Latin American journalists, 3 in Mexico and the others in Argentina and Haiti and attacks on more than 30 journalists in Peru and 32 in Colombia. Venezuelan Communication & Information Minister Andres Izarra has announced that Telesur will organize a second Latin American meeting against media terrorism in another country in the near future, given the success of the first meeting.

Notes from the media terrorism meeting:

State Venezolana de Television (VTV) president, Yuri Pimentel has added his voice to that of government colleagues, stating that there has never been such massive media manipulation and domination on planet earth. The fight is not against a small ideological apparatus, Pimentel has told delegates attending the Latin American meeting against media terrorism, but against a major mass power that characterizes American and European media. Latin American countries have become enemies of the dominant world mass media because they have chosen a different road to that of neoliberalism and pillage. The struggle, Pimentel states, is not just against media lies but the whole system of values that they impose when they try to spread consumerism.

During the meeting, there has been another call to start a grand Bolivarian newspaper in Venezuela. Argentinean journalist, Carlos Aznarez argues that each revolution needs a written media that represents the interests and thoughts of the popular classes, as a means of exercising revolutionary pedagogy and countering information sold by enemy agencies.

Mexican journalist, Jose Steinsleger says what happened during the events of April 2002 in Venezuela is confirmation that the big transnational media corporations are not all-powerful and can be defeated by a rebel people.

Cuban journalist, Roger Ricardo Luis argues that unity is the fundamental base from which to fight the media war and each country should seek its own model of press and put aside the capitalist model established by the USA. "The priority on our agenda is that it must respond to the needs of the people and undermine communication that is day-to-day becoming more and more globalised."

Venezuelan journalist, Eleazar Diaz Rangel insists that the big media are losing their influence in Latin America. The editor of Las Ultimas Noticias proposes discussion in media schools of the most recent and significant moments of media terrorism, such as the way the media treated ExxonMobil's case against Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). "It's an aggressive line that breaks all journalistic ethics and denies the truth."

In an interview on Telesur continental TV, Venezuelan Ambassador to Mexico, Roy Chaderton says alternative media sources must be multiplied to resist world media dictatorship. The Ambassador admits that the movement is in early stages and must be accompanied by the strengthening of public sector media in democratic states. The Ambassador refers to major media powers as "those private dictators" that represent the interests of the Empire ... "each lie and campaign must be pointed out and identified." Freedom of expression, he continues, must be used to fight world media terrorism and he slams the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) as ridiculous, especially its criticism of Venezuela for alleged attacks on freedom of expression. Taking the broadsheet El Tiempo de Bogota to task, the Ambassador says he remembers, while serving there, the montage of news stories produced by the Colombian Army Third Brigade extending to Cambio and Semana magazines.

US journalist, Raimundo Reinoso has criticized NBC, Universal Studios and the Walt Disney Corporation for "persistent dedication in mounting destabilizing campaigns against the leaders of emancipating social processes." Speaking at the Latin American meeting against media terrorism, Reinoso accuses the US media of being sponsored by the right-wing Ifex and Freedom House and other fronts he calls "media octopuses." Providing an interesting technical observation, the journalist points to the New York Times, recommending that news items be read backwards from the last paragraph upward because, he claims, it is free of doctoring imposed on editors and the owners. "One must read the US press, such as the New York Times always starting with the last paragraph because in the first paragraphs the information is doctored by propaganda agents."

Special Venezuelan government adviser on international media relations, Eva Golinger has summarized the proposals of the Latin American meeting against media terrorism as follows: integration of public and community television stations with Telesur to widen coverage to an international audience, creation of the following: a network of correspondents against hegemony and media terrorism, an international media current that moves towards Socialism, a new model of press with ethics and objectivity, a great Bolivarian newspaper, and network of media combat which includes a webpage, newspaper and radio station in at least three languages (English, Spanish and Portuguese) to ensure the spread of truthful and opportune information, regional centers of investigation to study themes such as manipulation and media terrorism, psychops, intervention tactics and strategies and other themes related to the defense of the revolution and finally, the recovery of media spaces for spokespersons from the grass roots.

During the meeting of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) in Caracas, eastern Venezuelan tabloid, Correo del Caroni newspaper director, David Natera has listed aggressions suffered by Venezuelan journalists and domestic media sources, such as the closure of Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) and constant threats against 24-hour news television channel Globovision. Natera accuses the government of applying pressure by other means as well, such as delaying the granting of preferential dollars to buy paper, difficulties of access to government bodies for information, and financial support for " unconditional media sources to strengthen the revolutionary media apparatus." Last year, Natera points out, the government spent 3.6 billion bolivares in strengthening alternative and community media and more than 1.5 billion bolivares to cover Cuban experts training Venezuelan professionals.

The Bolivarian News Agency (ABN) has denied an accusation launched by opposition Globovision owner, Guillermo Zuloaga that cameramen were refused entry to the pro-government Latin American meeting against media terrorism. Zuloaga made the accusation during the annual meeting of the Inter American Press Association in Caracas. The ABN replies that Venezuela has sufficient freedom to allow journalists discuss and assess what is happening in the media without the IAPA trying to intimidate them.

The IAPA has slammed the presence of foreign journalists attending the pro-government media event dismissing them as "hired hands" and "hacks," while President has dubbed El Nacional broadsheet as "ideological trash."

In other news: Primero Justicia (PJ) adjunct national secretary, Tomas Guanipa has dismissed criticism from Zulia State Governor, Manuel Rosales regarding an alleged proliferation of opposition candidates to regional posts. When Governor Rosales talks about electoral pandemonium, Guanipa quips, he is probably referring to his own party, Un Nuevo Tiempo where there are four to five candidates for each municipality in the country. Guanipa contends that Primero Justicia is not acting irresponsibly by presenting several names for same space but seeking an understanding. According to the opposition leader, PJ has made a proposal to hold talks to reach a unity agreement between the two main opposition parties regarding choice of candidates. PJ withdrew the postulation of Juan Guanipa four years ago as a unitary move, the PJ leader recalls, but now it is demanding his full acceptance as a unitary opposition candidate.

Patrick J. O'Donoghue

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Kenneth T. Tellis: Has racism in the world diminished at all?

VHeadline commentarist Kenneth T. Tellis writes: When Hugo Frias Chavez was first elected, there were many in the U.S. who did not approve of him being President of Venezuela. Their reason for this was because Chavez' father was of African origin and his mother of indigenous Indian stock so to them he was not good enough because he was not of European origin.

But even those holding high office in the U.S. were openly against Chavez, not so much for his political leanings but his race. That has not abated as yet and will continue to dog Chavez throughout his political life.

Now we come to Evo Morales of Bolivia ... Evo Morales is an indigenous Indian who was elected President of Bolivia.

Even as a trade union leader in Bolivia, Evo Morales witnessed and endured racism, which he thought that on attaining the presidency would cease, but for him it still exists in Bolivia.
  • Those of European stock in Bolivia still think it is an affront to have an indigenous Indian, like Evo Morales as President of Bolivia.
I think the recent encounter by Mayra Figueroa of Houston, Texas, answers the question on racism in the U.S...

Mayra Figueroa was driving when she was pulled over by a Houston police officer, who checked her identity and also asked for her Social Security Card. The excuse was he was checking to see if she was an illegal immigrant. After he checked out her documents, there was no apology from the police officer because she was a Hispanic, who has been in the U.S. for 17 years and was a Naturalized U.S. Citizen and he was WHITE (Gringo). That clearly establishes the fact that the police officer was a racist.

Now let us consider the Metropolitan London Policeman who pulled over a posh car being driven by a Black man. The Bobby simply pulled over the Black man driving a posh car near St. Paul's Cathedral, London, so he automatically fitted into the the constable assumed was category of a criminal. When the Police Officer asked the Black man to open his trunk, he obliged.

The Bobby discovered that he had pulled over the Kampala-born Rt. Rev. John Sentamu, Bishop of Stepney, London. Realizing his blunder the Police Officer immediately told the Bishop who questioned him as to why he was pulled over, said: OFF YOU GO! OFF YOU GO!

The Bobby was trying to avoid any repercussions for his racist leanings. But that was further compounded by the fact that the London Police Chief attempted to cover up the officers actions.

After all if one is a Gringo does one not protect another Gringo from those Blacks? If he did not do so, Britain would be overrun by Africans if they were not stopped.

Now we come to a 27-year old Brazilian electrician named Jean-Charles de Menezes who was accosted by and then shot by the Police in London, under the excuse that he looked like an Arab terrorist, which was one of the weakest excuses ever. But, the Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Ian Blair came to the rescue of the police, because Jean-Charles de Menezes was only an alien. So, the British Police are now under some misconception that they can always get away with murder using lame excuses.
  • Of course that all fits in with the theories of one Tony Blair the former Prime Minister of Great Britain.
It is about time that these sanctimonious scumbags, both the Americans and the British who ridiculed and condemned South African APARTHEID in the past, be made to account to the international community for their own racist policies and practices.

Kenneth T. Tellis

Saturday, March 29, 2008

New York Times continues spurious campaign to allege sinister Venezuelan cooperation with Colombia's FARC rebels

Totally ignoring the Venezuelan government's long-standing efforts to act as a mediator between the rightwing fascist Colombian government and FARC rebels, the New York Times continues its sortid attempt to allege sinister cross-border motives: "Files provided by Colombian officials from computers they say were captured in a cross-border raid in Ecuador this month appear to tie Venezuela’s government to efforts to secure arms for Colombia’s largest insurgency. Officials taking part in Colombia’s investigation of the computers provided The New York Times with copies of more than 20 files, some of which also showed contributions from the rebels to the 2006 campaign of Ecuador’s leftist president, Rafael Correa. If verified, the computer files would offer rare insight into the cloak-and-dagger nature of Latin America’s longest-running guerrilla conflict, including what appeared to be the killing of a Colombian government spy who had microchips implanted in her body, a crime apparently carried out by the guerrillas in their jungle redoubt."

Venezuela diverts crude from Exxon in dispute

Venezuela is rerouting oil to China that had previously been sent to a U.S. refinery co-owned by its state oil company and Exxon Mobil Corp., Venezuela's oil minister said Friday. Rafael Ramirez said Exxon has stopped ordering crude for a refinery in the New Orleans suburb of Chalmette as legal wrangling between the Irving, Texas-based company and Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., or PDVSA, continues. PDVSA and Exxon are locked in a fierce legal battle over compensation for the 2007 nationalization of a jointly owned heavy oil project in Venezuela's Orinoco basin.

Venezuela: Meeting of journalism professors of the UBV to present communicational proposal

ABN.- On June 27, the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela (UBV) will carry out a meeting of journalism professors in order to present what they are developing as a proposal of how young journalists should assume their career.

The statements were made this Friday by the National Coordinator of Journalism of the UBV, Luisana Colomines, at the Latin American Studies Center Rómulo Gallegos (CELARG, Spanish acronym) where the Latina American Meeting against Media Terrorism is taking place.

In Colomines' opinion, journalism teaching should be oriented to the search of a possible journalism, where the journalist is committed with a social administration, the community, and truth as an ethic principle.

She deems that in order to face the media terrorism, there has to be a total revolution of Venezuelan journalism to reach a more fighter one, revolutionary, and committed with the truth.

In this sense, Colomines pointed out that would be convenient to recover the Colegio Nacional de Periodistas (Journalist's College) or the Press Workers Union, which are under the control of people against national interests.

She stated that mass media owners impose editorial lines; “therefore, the Inter American Press Association will be never represent journalists, because they are more like the inter American society of mass media businessmen”.

She stressed that the big challenge is to reach a more independent and free journalism without being docile to the editorial lines of the big media”.

For journalism professors, the media terrorism is a big deal, “because it is not easy to teach journalism inside the media battle we are fighting across the country”, she held.

The idea is to find a truthful journalism, committed with its citizens, thus, “we want to propose a new kind of journalism, our own way to say things without diminishing the journalism technique”, she assured.

She emphasized that next journalists have to arrive and transform the place where they are going to work, no matter which one.

Chavez backs Brazil's plan for regional security alliance

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has given his backing to Brazil's proposal for a regional defence council, amid tensions between his country and neighbour Colombia. The region was brought on the verge of armed conflict early this month when Colombian army raided a camp of the country's largest leftist insurgent group hiding in Ecuadorian jungles across its borders, killing the second in command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) among 23 rebels.

5.3-degree Richter quake shakes Colombian-Venezuelan border - People's Daily Online

A 5.3 degree Richter-scale earthquake shook on Friday the Norte de Santander department, bordering Venezuela, but neither victims nor material damages were reported, reported Colombia's Seismological Network. Colombian earthquake expert Fernando Aguirre said the quake, occurred at 11:36 local time (1636 GMT), was felt by inhabitants in Cucuta, capital of Norte de Santander Department, although rescue teams did not receive calls to report victims nor damages.

Venezuela bombs drug runways near Colombia border

The Venezuelan air force bombed a landing strip used to bring cocaine across the border from Colombia on Friday, several weeks after the United States criticized President Hugo Chavez's drug-fighting record. A Reuters witness watched two fighter jets and a helicopter fire rockets and strafe the runway close to the border with machine gun fire to detect and destroy equipment and infrastructure used by drug cartels.

Venezuela is rerouting oil in Exxon Mobil dispute

Venezuela is rerouting oil to China that had previously been sent to a U.S. refinery co-owned by its state oil company and Exxon Mobil Corp., Venezuela's oil minister said Friday. Rafael Ramirez said Exxon Mobil has stopped ordering crude for a refinery in the New Orleans suburb of Chalmette as legal wrangling between the Irving-based company and Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, continues. 'Everything went to China,' Ramirez told reporters.

Kenneth T. Tellis: "Hollywood's love affair with totalitarianism"

VHeadline commentarist Kenneth T. Tellis writes: Does World Net Daily's Joseph Farah have any idea about the topic of totalitarianism?

He made it a point to make a statement which bears no resemblance to reality ... but worst of all was his deliberate omission of the greatest dictator of all time, a man who had the gall to steal two Presidential Elections right from under the noses of the American people. By even coercing the very U.S. courts into going along with his charade of democracy.

That man is a disgrace to the democracy he touts.

I guess by now Farah knows who I am talking about? It is his very own pseudo-President George W. Bush, who now resides in the White House.

Farah attempts to make light of democracy by adding the name of Hugo Chavez to his list of totalitarian rulers, when such is not the case at all. Señor Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias was elected PRESIDENT by a majority in Venezuela, so how in his muddled mind, how can Farah refer to him as a dictator?

He might refer rather to Mr. George W. Bush as a DICTATOR, but only because he used coercion to hijack not one but two U.S. Presidential Elections.

I am afraid that Farah has barked up the wrong tree this time, it may be perhaps because his senses have been dulled by his environment, the corrupt society that now controls the U.S.

What is worse still is that today nearly all the U.S. news media is harking on the fact that Cubans have been allowed access to cell-phones by the Raul Castro the new president of Cuba.

Though, I must dwell on this matter for another reason. In Cuba the people can now own Mobile-Phones, so that is something very new. But the U.S. has had CELL-PHONES for quite a while. Do you know why? Because those phones are really in the CELLS of people in prisons, and U.S. prisons or penitentiaries are so full up, that the release of some prisoners has become necessary since there is no room for more.

So, I must hearken back to Farah's initial statement of "Hollywood's love affair with totalitarianism," which has no bearing on reality.

That of course could be because Farah has to write an article and it must meet with the approval of his boss. Thus, it may be what he really wanted to write, but since he have to earn a living, he really has no choice in the matter at all.

Kenneth T. Tellis

Friday, March 28, 2008

After all, is not this what we all sought and strived for when we first took pen to paper and called ourselves journalists?

Mr. Jackson Diehl
Deputy Editor, Editorial Page
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street NW
Washington, DC 20071

March 28, 2008

Dear Mr. Diehl,

You will have received a letter of from Venezuela’s Minister of Communications & Information, Andres Izarra protesting what is generally viewed by the Venezuelan government administration as negative and hostile coverage of various aspects of the government of President Hugo Chavez Frias.

As a seasoned foreign correspondent with an intimate knowledge of Venezuela’s past and present, I find myself somewhat in disagreement with Andres’ communications methodology while, quite sincerely, I am inclined to share his umbrage, nevertheless seeking to understand the reasons behind your editorial stance, acknowledging that you have the fullest freedom to express your opinions as, indeed, Andres has his.

I am inclined to believe that both he and you are working from the basic concept of a degree of patriotism, each from your own unique perspective. Andres, I know, is fired with an intense patriotism for Venezuela and its people and, very obviously, reacts strongly when he perceives a series of unremitting attacks on the concept and values that he holds so dear.

I do not believe – in fact I am certain from my knowledge of the man – that Andres is NOT a USA-hater, nor indeed is President Chavez who has pledged his life and being for the ultimate well-being and benefit of the Venezuelan people. This is part of the problem, if indeed there is any significant problem when all is said and done.

It should be more than obvious to you and to your readers that President Chavez’ and his government’s primary allegiance is to Venezuela, its flag and its people. This is a common understanding that, I believe most observers will insist, equally applies to the leaders and administrations of all countries excepting those regimes governed by dictatorships which seek primarily the benefit of the dictator and not necessarily that of his/her people.

We may also have our varied opinions on the leaders of other countries but ultimately it is up to the sovereign will of each country’s citizens to decide on their leadership, to accept his/her rule or to seek such remedies as may need be accomplished to achieve that goal.

Naturally, each country is free to form and express its opinions of other countries and to form such alliances as may be necessary to protect their individual integrity – I believe that as a citizen of the United States of America you hold these principles to be true that all men (and women) should be free to pursue and enjoy happiness.

Quite naturally as a living, breathing Venezuelan patriot – and I can assure you that Andres Izarra is just that! – Andres is saddened, angered and naturally frustrated by the fact that your publications (and others) have printed what he perceives to be repeated calumnies against Venezuela and the Venezuelan people.

I think that had the criticisms (calumnies - call them what you will) been founded on a deeper understanding of the Venezuelan situation, they might have been more easily digested and perhaps acted upon by those in charge of the Venezuelan government but, you will perhaps acknowledge that your own particular and perhaps natural reaction to what you may perceive as Minister Izarra’s “attack” or criticism of your own attitudes is not quite dissimilar to Andres Izarra’s perception, when confronted with a barrage of attacks/criticism from you and your publication, which he suspects is being led by darker forces within the Bush administration seeking to take advantage of Venezuela’s sovereign assets, very much in the same way as many other colonialist powers have sought to do around the world for centuries is not millennia.

This is where I believe it may be more feasible to do what one great leader once advised i.e. to get down off one’s war horse and to walk awhile with the presumed enemy. To do so could easily be more virtuous than continued hostility and be infinitely more productive and less a waste of energy and resources otherwise depleted in continued hostilities. It takes a degree of nobility and humility to achieve but is infinitely more worthwhile.

Andres Izarra is a virtuous man who risked everything in a very positive career as a television news director to follow his conscience and disobey an edict handed down by his then employers at Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) to censor live coverage of events following the ill-fated coup d’etat against President Chavez in April 2002.

Against this background and the circumstances which have followed upon the peoples’ restoration of President Chavez to power, it is difficult for Andres or indeed myself to understand why the Washington Post persists in such ill-informed coverage of Venezuela that is not only incorrect but directly hurtful to each one of us. While I understand where you are coming from as a United States journalist with natural allegiances to your own flag, it is difficult for Venezuelans (who on the whole are an open and generous people) to understand why there apparently is no effort on your part to reconcile or to understand where Venezuelans are coming from - perhaps if you did (stepping down and walking with your warhorse!) you would discover, as I a foreigner in Venezuela have also done, that there is so much more to United States-Venezuela relations than a “War of Words.”

I personally believe that Andres may have erred in his judgement to write so scathingly to you and that much more would have been achieved had he sought rather to help you understand, to invite you to visit Venezuela to see for yourself, to immerse yourself in what Venezuela is really all about. Yes, I know that you personally cannot do this with each and every one of the +200 countries that form the collective of humanity here on earth, but since you have had such a focus on Venezuela it may be worthwhile for you to look more closely on it and to yourself come to what will undoubtedly be a happier conclusion on what Venezuela has to offer the world around it, particularly to the United States of America.

I myself would seek to separate your professionalism as a journalist from the politicking of the US State Department or the White House recognizing, of course, that catering for a USA readership your editorial coverage must of necessity have a bias for and on behalf of that readership. It is perhaps in this regard that Venezuela has been largely misunderstood in North America since you have an instinctive evaluation that a country’s media is largely representative of that country’s people. It is something that very often is misunderstood with regards to Venezuela i.e. that the main commercial media in Venezuela does not operate under any “North American ethos” of fair play and/or judgement.

On both sides of the political divide in Venezuela you have highly-biased coverage and since the commercial media has traditionally had greater prominence, the thrust of what appears to be Venezuelan media “opinion” is also negative to the series of reforms and actions taken by the Venezuelan government to protect and enhance the future for the Venezuelan people – unfortunately this mostly takes expression in diatribes against President Chavez who, himself, is not backward in reacting spontaneously and with equal measure to the string of insults and abuse hurled at him daily by interests who once held quasi-dictatorial rule but are now learning (somewhat reluctantly) to accept democratic rule.

You have used various epithets to describe President Chavez which could equally be used to describe your own president or, indeed, the leader of any other country. You call him a “strongman” but do you think the Venezuelan people would benefit any if he were weak?

The inference that can perhaps be drawn from the word is that President Chavez is “dictatorial” (another loose epithet slung in the fray) but closer inspection would show you that President Chavez is not dictatorial. He has pledged himself to rule by the Constitution which has admittedly been reformed (and I might add with the democratic majority support of the Venezuelan electorate in a 1999 referendum). The United States has amended its constitution on multiple occasions also…

Andres Izarra has sought to explain the essential differences between the Venezuelan government model and that of the United States. Forgive me if I say that I believe the Venezuelan model to be more fair and democratic than that of the United States, but that is something that you yourself would have to witness first hand and it is not my intention to impose any such evaluation on you, rather that you should at least give yourself the opportunity to be informed and to arrive at your own fair and balanced judgements after which I believe any critique you may wish to level would be accepted in Caracas with less distain and perhaps even seen as a friendly gesture towards the RRR (Reform, Revision and Rectification) aspirations already announced by President Chavez.

I feel sure that if you were to take an invitation to step down from your particular warhorse and to walk awhile with Andres Izarra on a one-to-one basis, you would discover a genuine willingness to help you understand that Venezuela and its democratically-elected President have every right to have their own opinions just the same as you have yours.

It is my hope that this can be achieved within a spirit of true journalistic investigation and fairness and I would urge Andres Izarra and his staff to make such opportunities available not only to yourself, Mr. Diehl, but to any number of foreign journalists who have a genuine professional interest in seeking out the truth.

After all, is not this what we all sought and strived for when we first took pen to paper and called ourselves journalists?

Roy S. Carson
VHeadline Venezuela

Patrick J. O'Donoghue's round up of news from Venezuela

Venezuela has become a battleground of media warfare this weekend with the government sponsoring the Latin American meeting against media terrorism and the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) holding its annual meeting at the same time and in the same city, Caracas.

Bolivarian News Agency (ABN) director and event organizer, Freddy Fernandez says journalists on the continent have an old debt to pay their peoples in the quest for professional and ethical standards that will change the current media reality to something far more just and transparent.

Canadian journalist, Jean Guy-Allard calls the IAPA "info-traffickers." Speaking to Las Ultimas Noticias, the journalist argues that the media owner's organization, as well as Reporters without Frontiers have been created and fed by the CIA and respond entirely to the interests of the United States of America. Guy-Allard dismisses the IAPA's claim to be defenders of freedom of expression and human rights, highlighting its open support for terrorist tendencies against Latin American peoples. A concrete case, The French-Canadian cites, is IAPA support for Venezuelan owner/journalist, Patricia Poleo, currently in Miami and wanted by Venezuelan justice for alleged links in the case of assassinated public prosecutor, Daniel Anderson. As regards the journalism in Cuba where he resides, the visiting journalist controversially concedes that while journalism in Cuba is not exactly free, it is a "militant press" and its position will not be normalized unless the economic blockade is be lifted.

Communication & Information (Minci) Minister, Andres Izarra has opened the Latin American meeting against media terrorism in Caracas. During his speech, the Minister has insisted that information transnationals continue to dictate and control domestic private media sources by imposing false currents of opinions about real events and worst of all, it would appear to be an unending phenomenon. Highlighting the power of the press, Izarra tells his audience that while nobody elects it, it has the power to shape public opinion and the opinion of the majorities. "It is a reproducing and 'unproducing' thought machine and a determining factor in the political preferences of the majorities, even though it goes against the interests of the same majorities. Regarding the barrage of media terrorism against Venezuela, the Minister cites the latest onslaught in Colombian broadsheet, El Tiempo regarding the supposed seizure of uranium in Colombia.

During the opening ceremony, Cuban veteran journalist, Ernesto Vera has called for decent journalism to lead the advance of progressive movements on the continent.

Venezuelan Culture Minister, Francisco Sesto insists on countering the arguments of the media transnationals in the field of ideas and arguments. It is important, he contends, not to underestimate the role of the media terrorists and seek answers. The Culture Ministry, Sesto proclaims, is doing its bit with a radio station, a weekly newspaper and the monthly magazine. Sesto has announced the creation of a "media factory" to produce material for radio and TV.

National Assembly (AN) deputy and head of the parliamentary United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) block, Mario Isea says his colleague, Wilmer Azuaje has "excluded himself" from the party by using alleged corruption on the part of President Chavez' brothers as campaign fodder. The party will review Azuaje's political performance, Isea announces, and the parliamentary block will accept the party decision. Isea maintains that Azuaje has set up an individual agenda and the AN comptroller committee will process any denunciation, if presented responsibly but will not facilitate anyone putting on a show.

Executive Vice President, Ramon Carrizalez has denied versions that six newly-borns have died as a result of poor medical attention at the Concepcion Palacios Maternity Hospital in Caracas. Carrizalez reports that 4 women entered the hospital with their babies stillborn and two other women were sent to private clinics and the babies are in a satisfactory condition. A special commission set up to solve problems at the maternity has told the Minister that there are serious problems in the anesthetics department because many of the operators have left to seek better salaries abroad. Venezuelan Medical Federation (FMV) vice-president, Dianela Para says the deaths are a consequence of hospital conditions, complaining of a lack of resident doctors as well as favorable working conditions, social benefits and private security.

Patrick J. O'Donoghue

Venezuela's Chavez Says CNN, Fox News Coverage 'Propaganda'

"Chavez predicted that IAPA delegates 'are going to be saying there's a dictatorship in Venezuela,' while his supporters will explore issues including alleged links between media outlets and the U.S. government. 'I don't know if I'll go, I have so many things on the agenda,' Chavez said in Brazil, noting he'd been invited to both gatherings. 'The most important thing is that there's going to be a great debate.'

Chavez blames U.S. invasion of Iraq for soaring oil prices

Chavez said as a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Venezuela favors the fixing-price system that has worked well for three years, but the U.S. invasion of Iraq has brought instability to the market. Venezuela is not interested in oil price hikes, and on the contrary, it hopes to see prices stabilize and that the U.S. economic crisis does not worsen. 'May they leave that situation quickly, but they will obviously have to revise their economic policies, which have affected the whole world so much,' he said.

Correa: Colombia has launched a smear campaign to stain the Ecuadorean government's image

Standing on the presidential's palace balcony, Correa told hundreds of backers that Colombia has launched a smear campaign to stain his government's image and force Ecuador to get involved in Colombia's four-decade war with leftist rebels. 'A smear campaign continues to try to link our government with the FARC,' Correa told the crowd after holding an emergency meeting with top military and government officials over the dispute. 'We are not going to fall into that trap ... We don't have to waste our resources for a fight that is not ours.'

Brazilian president Lula calls Chavez "a great peacemaker"

'Who was the great peacemaker in the conflict between Colombia and Ecuador? It was clearly President Chavez,' Lula told a news conference in the northern Brazilian city of Recife, on the second day of a visit by Chavez. Chavez helped prevent what seemed to be the beginning of a serious conflict in the region on March 1, when Colombian troops attacked in Ecuadorian territory a camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's largest rebel group, he said.

Bolivian president Evo Morales Accuses Us Of 'Conspiracy'

Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, has accused the US ambassador of leading a conspiracy against his government and the US main aid organisation of carrying out a 'dirty campaign' against him. In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera the Bolivian leader also said he had suffered from racism, even since his election as president. 'The conspiracy against my government is headed by the US ambassador,' Morales said, referring to Philip Goldberg.

Colombia 'dirty bomb' plot seen as unlikely

Even as they downplayed the threat from about 66 pounds of degraded or depleted uranium Colombian officials said they found and had linked to FARC guerrillas, the U.S. officials said they were not dismissing Bogota's claim that the rebel group intended to procure deadly weapons. 'I think you have to take at face value what the Colombians are saying,' said a senior U.S. intelligence official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing intelligence assessments. 'There's no reason at this point to think they're making this up.'

EXXON: London ruling may pose problems for PDVSA; ExxonMobil claims PDVSA acted "in bad faith"

Caracas Daily Journal (Jeremy Morgan): Even as people in Caracas celebrate a London judge's ruling in favor of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) in its dispute with ExxonMobil, reports reaching Caracas suggest the verdict might still work against the state oil corporation's interests. Much of what Judge Paul Walker stated in his ruling went PDVSA's way. But there was a sting in the tail that observers suggest could be cited by ExxonMobil in future legal proceedings.

Walker reportedly concluded that PDVSA had the right to appeal against another judge's injunction freezing $12 billion of its assets. He is said to have concluded that the "mere fact" that the defendant's ability to meet its debts was held in doubt didn't justify an injunction of that scale.

PDVSA counsel Gordon Pollock had argued in court there was no reason to think PDVSA wouldn't pay up if it lost the dispute over compensation for extra heavy crude oil rights in the Orinoco Basin. PDVSA, he reasoned, was known worldwide as a "transparent" organization. Walker agreed with PDVSA's counsel that the case did not involve the degree of urgency claimed by ExxonMobil. Neither did the judge find any reason to suppose there was a risk of fraud. And on the grounds that PDVSA didn't have substantial interests in the United Kingdom, he ruled that British jurisdiction didn't apply in this case.

But there was a devil in the detail of Walker's six-point judgement. Tucked away in the text was the view that PDVSA hadn't stuck to the rules in dealing with ExxonMobil over the planned "migration" to a "mixed company" in which PDVSA would have a 60 percent controlling interest in the Cerro Negro oilfield. ExxonMobil's attorneys had pointed to Article 15 of the original Cerro Negro contract. This stipulated that each side was obliged to inform the other at each stage of a dispute that might have an adverse effect on the other.

Crash pilot was off official route; Slow probe in Mérida

Caracas Daily Journal (Jeremy Morgan): The crash in which an aircraft flew into a mountain in Mérida state killing all 46 people on board last February doesn't seem to be heading towards quick results any time very soon. According to El Universal, the "black box" that investigators hope will tell them what happened during Santa Barbara Airlines flight 518 still hasn't been delivered to French investigators. The machinery will reportedly be handed over on April 4.

In the meantime, reports claim that the weather radar on the aircraft wasn't working, and that the pilot picked a route other than the officially approved one. This may be a key detail.

At the time of the crash, the weather was said to be clear. But the theory now is that, by choosing the unauthorized route, pilot Aldino Granito flew into clouds, tried to climb out of them and hit the mountain known as Cara del Indio.

The route taken by Granito is said to be quicker and shorter, hence saving fuel and money. It's said other pilots in and out of Mérida fly the same route for the same reasons, and still are.

Strike hits Sidor ... Steel workers extend stoppage

Caracas Daily Journal (Jeremy Morgan): Workers at strike-plagued steelmaker Sidor extended their latest stoppage to 72 hours in protest at the death of one of their colleagues in an accident before the strike went ahead.

The latest stoppage in the long-running pay dispute between Sidor and the steel industry union, Sutiss, was originally slated for 24 hours. It was unclear whether the decision to lengthen the strike was for this time only, or heralded a harder line from the union.

Reports from Puerto Ordaz in Bolívar state suggest that tempers are rising among the workforce at the lack of progress made in protracted talks between the two sides. Disorder has broken out on several occasions, with workers claiming that harsh policing is partly aimed at dissuading them from pursuing their claim. Sutiss has called a protest march including families of steel workers for today.

Hopes that negotiators were in sight of ending the dispute rose recently when the two sides appeared to be moving closer on hourly pay rates. Management increased its offer while Sutiss lowered its demand.

Logjam hits Colombia trade; Trucks with tons of goods bound for Colombia are said to be stuck at the border

Caracas Daily Journal (Jeremy Morgan): Even though President Hugo Chávez has reached some sort of peace with his opposite number in Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, trade across the border with Venezuela is reported to still be at a standstill. The problem, it seems, is bureaucratic procedures, which wouldn't be for the first time during fast-moving political developments. And the chief casualties ap-pear to be Venezuelan shipments to Colombia, rather than goods going the other way.

Venezuelan Exporters Association President Francisco Men-doza says shipments of Venezuelan products across the border have been paralyzed since March 4. Chávez and Uribe called off their spat at the Rio Group summit on March 1, but it appears that officialdom has yet to catch up with the news.

The most important crossing point is San Antonio del Táchira, where an estimated 70 percent of bilateral trade is carried out. An estimated half of all the goods exported by Venezuela to Colombia are taken over the border there. Colombia accounts for around a fifth of total Venezuelan exports.Reports from San Antonio said that some 3,000 tons of Venezuelan products were stuck in trucks there, unable to go over the frontier. Mendoza indicated the same situation applied elsewhere on the border.

The problem, it's said, primarily lies at the Light Industries and Trade Ministry. Officials there are said to have been slow off the mark in handing out "certificates of origin" proving that the goods in question are of Venezuelan origin. This measure was introduced in response to food shortages in Venezuela.

At the time, reports claimed large shipments of food were being smuggled across the border because suppliers could obtain higher prices in Colombia. Normally, Colombia numbers among key sources of food imported into Venezuela. Mendoza said there didn't seem to be many problems with Colombian goods crossing over into Venezuela.

Daniel Montealegre, president of the Venezuelan-Colombian Economic Integration Chamber (Cavecol) said on Wednesday that it was his understanding on an "unofficial" basis that it was possible the ministry would start issuing the required certificates during the course of that morning. He expressed hope this would unlock the logjam at the border.

Chavez family allegations land National Assembly (AN) Deputy Wilmer Azuaje at center of attention

Caracas Daily Journal (Jeremy Morgan): Allegations by newly troublesome National Assembly (AN) Deputy Wilmer Azuaje about members of President Hugo Chavez' family in Barinas state are rapidly gathering attention from a lot of important people. Azuaje's fellow legislators hurredly shunted issues raised by his accusations of wrongdoing in property deals to the comptrollers' committee for investigation. The move was proposed by AN President Cilia Flores, a very big wheel indeed.

Azuaje is now said to have pointed the finger at not just one of the president's brothers, Argenis Chavez, but also at another, Narciso. Azuaje urged the Attorney General's Office to investigate 17 ranches he claims are owned by the Chavez family in Barinas.

The man who could end up walking on eggs is Deputy Julio Moreno, the head of the committee. He's been in the firing line before after taking delivery of documents from that other turbulent deputy, Luis Tascón, who raised questions about alleged corruption at the Infrastructure Ministry under José David Cabello, who's now head of the tax collection agency, Seniat.

Just what sort of reception Azuaje could expect from his colleagues wasn't clear, but the signs were ominous. Talk in the corridors was of throwing him out of the ruling parliamentary bloc.
Deputy Giovanny Peña – like Azuaje a minor legislator from the president's home state of Barinas who was elected as a government supporter – proposed a probe into Azuaje's finances. Azuaje said he was willing to submit his accounts for inspection.

Deputy Mario Isea, head of the ruling bloc, said Moreno's committee would look into Azuaje's supposed ambitions to run for governor of Barinas state, where the current incumbent is Hugo de los Reyes Chávez, the president's father. Former Interior Minister Pedro Carreno – he of the dismal attempt to ban smoking in bars – jumped into the act. He wasn't Azuaje's ventroloquist and Azuaje had to "assume his responsibilities". Carreño hails from Barinas and is seen as a potential runner for governor at November's regional elections.

High social spending seen as a burden; BCV seems to be under strain

Caracas Daily Journal (Jeremy Morgan): While the official reserves are seen to be stable, there's concern that high spending on government social welfare programs could have an adverse effect on the outlook for the balance sheet at the Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV).

The problem centers on disbursements by the central bank to the National Development Fund (Fonden), which in turn uses the money to finance a flock of social programs and other projects. Critics claim the money becomes unaccountable once it's at Fonden, whereas the books at the BCV are subject to scrutiny.

José Guerra, a prominent economist and former director at the central bank, pointed to the certificates of deposit issued by the BCV, saying these had reached BsF 14 billion. He warned that the growing mounting of state debt paper could become a burden on the balance sheet at the central bank.

The BCV issues the certificates and other forms of state debt paper for two reasons. One is to soak up excess money supply, which is seen as a primary source of inflationary pressures. The other is to raise money so that it can disburse funds to Fonden and other state organizations without having to drain the reserves. Either way, the certificates will have to be repaid – and in the meantime, the BCV has to carry the cost of paying regular interest payments. Unofficial estimates suggest the bill for interest alone is piling up and, in turn, imposing further strain on the BCV.

In the meantime, spending on President Hugo Chávez' "missions" goes on rising. Moneys received reached BsF26.13 billion last year, compared with the equivalent of BsF21.76 billion in 2006. These social programs are financed by Fonden and the state oil corporation, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), which passes on what is deemed to be a surplus from oil export revenues.

PDVSA transferred BsF7.4 billion to the missions last year, marking an increase of 31.2 percent from BsF5.64 billion the year before. Not all of this was hard cash; some of the contribution was made in the form of food, which PDVSA now distributes to alleviate food shortages.

Venezuela: Our terrorism is to fight against darkness and misery

ABN.- “United States wants to put us in the list of countries supporting terrorism. Our terrorism has been to fight against darkness, backwardness, and misery”, said this Thursday the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías.

At an act to sign a protocol of intention and diverse agreements on the areas of agriculture, health, and education, among others, between Venezuela and Maranha state, Brazil, the President of Venezuela stated: “It is about going out from the darkness and come to the light, to the life”.

President Chávez said: “The illiteracy is a real scourge. In health, 95% of the inhabitants have access to medical assistance. That is our fight”.

In Venezuela, about 30 thousand doctors are being trained, Chávez ratified. “Maranhao could join these projects. Doctors for the people”.

“We need to teach the motherland ethic to the youth, to students. People have to be capable of doing everything for that motherland, for its people”, he added.

Chávez invited Maranhao state to join the plans carried out by Venezuela in health and education.

Meeting against Media Terrorism does gather real journalism people

ABN.- On the contrary to the Meeting of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), the Latin American Meeting against Media Terrorism is carried out with real journalism members.

In a press conference carried out at the Latin American Studies Center Rómulo Gallegos (CELARG, Spanish acronym), the Director of the Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias (ABN), Freddy Fernández, held this Thursday: “We know that those who are gathered (at the IAPA meeting) are the real owners of big mass media companies”, he said.

In this sense, the main spokesman of the meeting preempted some international mass media arguments, who were distorting the real objective of this meeting, which coincides with the IAPA meeting.

“IAPA meeting and this one have nothing similar at all. An very elite club is gathered over there: the mass media owners; and this meeting is among journalists, in which professionals with a long experiences are taking part in it”, Fernández stressed.

Moreover, he deemed: “They have big companies owners' interests, so they are going to say and decide what is going to appear in the mass media”.

However, Freddy Fernández believes that the fact both events are taking place at the same time is something interesting, because the goals of each of them are evidenced.

In this sense, he stated that “if the employers can hold a meeting, why the employees can not gather and discuss, most of all from their perspective, such an important element as it is the journalism”.

Venezuela: IAPA is a product of the North American intelligence

ABN.- “The Inter American Press Association (IAPA), which existed in the 40s, was kidnapped in the 50s by North American forces and, since then, it has become a North American intelligence product”.

The statements were made by the Canadian journalist Jean Guy-Allard, who will attend to the Latin American Meeting against Media terrorism, which will be carried out between March 27 and 30 at the Latin American Studies Center Rómulo Gallegos (CELARG, Spanish acronym).

Guy-Allard stressed that it was the Colonel Jules Dubois, from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who was the precursor of this kidnapping, and who became the mind of the IAPA until his death, 16 years later.

“Currently, the IAPA is formed by a big association of mass media owners, who are devoted to the interests of the North American Empire”, he emphasized.

Guy-Allard added that this society was placed later in Miami because this is the American extreme right-wing point of meeting, “formed by big terrorists and murderers like Luis Posada Carriles”.

In this regard, he stressed the level of misinformation and manipulation carried out by the IAPA, which could be compared with the information mechanism used by the North American State Department.

Colombia will free hundreds of guerrilla fighters if rebel leaders release politician Ingrid Betancourt

Colombia will free hundreds of guerrilla fighters if rebel leaders release politician Ingrid Betancourt, who is in ill health after being held hostage for years in secret jungle camps, the government said. President Alvaro Uribe signed a decree late on Thursday allowing the massive release of guerrillas from jail if French-Colombian Betancourt, kidnapped during her 2002 presidential campaign and ailing from hepatitis B, is set free, Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo told reporters. The decree was a bid to speed up efforts at swapping rebel-held politicians, police and soldiers for jailed guerrillas after months of haggling over conditions. 'The immediate release of Betancourt would be enough for us to consider the humanitarian exchange underway, in that we would conditionally suspend the sentences of guerrillas who are part of the agreement,' Restrepo said.

Andres Oppenheimer: Media wars in Venezuela -

The big question is not what will happen this weekend when the Inter-American Press Association meets in Caracas, amid Venezuelan government plans to hold a countermeeting 'against media terrorism,' but what will happen afterward.

Chavez ratifies his willingness to help Colombia to reach peace in a humanitarian swap

ABN.- The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, ratified once again the willingness of the Venezuelan state to help Colombia to reach the humanitarian swap and in the search of the peace.

'We want peace and our effort to reach it were stressed in the Organization of American States (OAS),' the Venezuelan president assured Thursday in a press conference offered along with his Brazilian counterpart, Lula da Silva, from the Palacio del Campo Las Princesas, in Brazil.

Chavez expressed to be happy for the good signals given by his Colombian counterpart, Álvaro Uribe, not only in public but also in private conversations, to solve the differences.

However, he warned that they have to pay attention to the powerful sectors that are working to cause destabilization and conflict in the region.

He mentioned that, in Colombian, the mass media are informing that, according to intelligence sources and thanks to the alleged computer of the guerrilla leader Raúl Reyes, who was assassinated in Ecuador by the Colombian army, was found impoverish uranium in a Colombian city.

'I called once again Uribe and I expressed him my concern for this kind of things that continue emerging to the world. In this respect, we continue our efforts to definitively put out that little flame still lighting to impede that those actions in Ecuador happens once again,' Chavez added.

Lula and Chavez to discuss Petrobras' participation on the Orinoco oil belt on June

ABN.- The President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, announced that he will hold a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chávez, next June, in order to discuss about the strategic points such as the participation of Petrobras Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) in the Orinoco oil belt and the Southern Gas Pipeline.

The announcement was given by Lula da Silva, this Thursday, from Pernambuco, Brazil.

The Brazilian president made emphasis in the energy alliance reached between Venezuela and Brazil through the agreement signed by Petrobras and Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) for the building of the refinery Abreu e Lima in Brazil.

According to Lula, more than an agreement, is a symbol or a signal 'for our foreign relation with the rest of the world that, in spite we are poor, we have proud and conscience of our sovereignty and our potential.'

He stressed that there is not a place in the world with the energy potential of South America, ' even more if we include the hydrological potential, the huge amount of rivers that ca produce hydroelectric power stations and, even more, if we join the countries of the region.'

He mentioned Venezuela with its huge richness of oil and gas, Brazil, and ' Bolivia and Peru, which resources are managed by companies of other countries and not for us.'

In this sense, Lula insisted on continuing the unit in order to search the transformation of the great nation of South America, able to make influence in a positive way over the North.

Lula thanked to Chavez and Venezuela to allow this alliance and expressed him the total support of Brazil and his government.

'I know the real needs of Venezuela, and you, Chávez, knows those needs of Brazil. And working together we can solve problems that in the past looked like without solutions and today can be solved thanks to our political maturity,' he assured.

Lula thanked President Chavez his visit in Brazil, he said: 'for that, my friend, thank you very much for your visit and for contributing that Pdvsa and Petrobras left to be two very competent and vain misses and turn into companies that think as us, not only in its profitability but in that they are able to do for help the South American continent.'

Chavez: We need to change the correlation of power in the world

ABN.- The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías, said this Thursday that it is necessary to change the correlation of power in the world.

At the act to sign a protocol of intention and diverse agreements in the areas of agriculture, health, and educatio, among others, in Maranhao, Brazil, President Chávez stated that while “the power is concentrated in a single pole worldwide, we will not able to do what Mao Tse Tung said: We have to walk with our own feet”.

“It is about changing world's power correlation. Brazil has a lot to offer in order to boost the forces' correlation change. We could be talking about a new Brazil”, Chávez stated.

Venezuelan President pointed out that we are going to achieve it only united. More than words, we already showed results. “A single country can not make the difference. There is strength in numbers”.

Furthermore, Venezuela's President announced that after Maranhao, he will travel to Belem du Para to keep boosting commercial relations with that Brazilian state.

Caracas Palace Hotel: strategy planning center against Venezuela

ABN.- The place that housed the pro-coup military of Plaza Altamira in 2002 will serve once again as the place to attack the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. This Friday, the mass media's owners members of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) will hold a meeting in the Caracas Palace Hotel, former Four Seasons, located in Caracas.

Previous to the oil sabotage and the coup d' état on April 2002, a group of dissident military men, as part of their pro-coup activities against President Chávez' administration, took Plaza Francia of the Altamira estate. From that place, the group of fascists soldiers tried to make an appeal to the collective civil rebellion.

During that time, the Caracas Palace Hotel, former Four Seasons, was the hide-out of a group of 14 military men that, among other crimes, committed instigation to rebellion and abuse of authority, supporting the imperialist strategies against the Bolivarian Revolution.

That luxury hotel complex will house again people who constantly lead actions against President Chávez' government, when the mass media's owners who compose the IAPA hold a meeting this Friday 28th to Sunday 30th to denounce the alleged 'dangerous' pf the freedom of speech in Venezuela.

In this regard, the Caracas Palace Hotel is the place where the pro-coup and destabilization strategies against the Venezuelan socialist government are discussed.

The IAPA, composed by the elite of corporative mass media's owners linked with the anti-castro exile of Miami and the anti-Chavez extremist people that usurp the representation of the journalists, keep ties with the anti-patriot and pro-coup sector of the Venezuelan right-wing.

This group of private mass media's owners, in a shameless way, kept in silence about the behavior of the private media during the coup d' état on April 2002, in which the Venezuelan people suffered from a massacre carried out for pro-coup hands.

On March 2002, previous days before the coup d' état, the IAPA played the same role assumed during the overthrow of Chilean President Salvador Allende on September 1973, when this organization approved a resolution that condemned the 'violations to the freedom of expression and press.'

The obvious ties of destabilizing activities among the guests turn the Caracas Palace Hotel into a strategies planning center of the US imperialism to damage the legitimate socialist government leaded by President Hugo Chávez.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kenneth T. Tellis: "America's Whackos of Mass Distraction"

VHeadline commentarist Kenneth T. Tellis writes: …… and now ladies and gentlemen I give you America's newest program: 'Whackos of Mass Distraction,' the zaniest comedy show you'll ever see straight from the entertainment capital of the world Hollywood, USA.

We will begin with Crazy George directly from the White House.

This story begins with Crazy George who also gave you the WMD's that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein never possessed, and then backed it with some more of his own home-spun Fairy Tales, which he then forced other to repeat verbatim.

Then there is Insane John McCain of Hanoi Hilton fame, who imagined that while he was a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam he was being tortured by Cuban's, when the Cuban Army was not even involved in the Vietnam War. So, Insane McCain must have dreamed it up, during one of his bouts of unreality.

Finally we have a Fairy Tale by U.S. Democratic Presidential Candidate one Hilarity Rodham Clinton's assertion that her plane landed in Bosnia under sporadic sniper fire, which was something that she had dreamed-up to get more mileage for her election campaign.

With all these Whackos running around loose in the U.S. no wonder there is no room left for sane politicians to enter the fray.

Perhaps that is why the U.S. is going down the drain so fast.

In Rome Nero was mad, in Nazi Germany Adolf Hitler was insane ... and in the Soviet Union Josef Stalin was a maniac ... now I guess its America's turn to have a lunatic run the show.

So, the show must go on, and the world be damned if they care one whit about it.

Kenneth T. Tellis

Patrick J. O'Donoghue's round up of news from Venezuela

Open University of Mexico media professor, Fernando Buen Abad will propose a continental discussion on media terrorism by presidents and heads of state. The professor made the proposal on the VTV program, En Confianza a day before the Latin American meeting on media terrorism kicks off. Buen Abad has warned about the media blockade Latin America is experiencing and he says the problem should be addressed on a presidential level. The blockade not only occurs internationally but also internally and within government institutions. The latter phenomenon the professor calls "endogenous blockage," which is influenced by the ravages of corruption, inefficiency, vanities and petty hegemonies or fiefdoms. Buen Abad states that the meeting of the Inter American Press Association should be taken seriously and what is discussed by the owners of the industry must be analyzed because such meetings have important geopolitical repercussions in the region.

The government insists on consulting workers at the Sidor iron plant for their opinion on the latest company pay offer. The Sutiss trade union has rejected the idea of a referendum as an imposition from Labor Minister Jose Ramon Rivero and answered with a decisive 72-hour stoppage. Labor deputy minister, Rafael Chacon says the Ministry has contacted the National Elections Council (CNE) and Ombudsman's Office to organize the internal consultation process, which he hopes will end months of labor unrest at the important plant. The referendum consists of one question, namely the acceptance of the last wage proposal.

The Belarus parliament will debate the ratification of an agreement with Venezuela to supply that country with an anti-air defense system. The agreement was signed by the presidents of Venezuela and Belarus in 2007 and consists of installing anti-air defense systems in Venezuela during a six-year period, including the preparation of specialists and training of officers. The news report indicates that Venezuela does not have a unified anti-air defense system, just a few isolated units. Belarus will send a group of specialists to start the training process within a couple of months. According to Belarus experts, they will create a system of automatic command for a battery of Russian missiles: S-300 PMU-2 and Tor-1, which Venezuela intends to purchase.

National Assembly (AN) deputy, Wilma Azuaje has been criticized by La Hojilla TV program presenter and United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) hierarch, Mario Silva, who slams Azuaje as a "revolutionary error." The deputy wants the Attorney General's Office to investigate one Nestor Izarra for purchasing a farm valued at 800 million bolivares allegedly in the name of two of President Chavez's brothers. Silva accuses Azuaje of using the accusation in his campaign as candidate to the governorship of Barinas State. Azuaje, Silva proclaims, has no right to talk because he has spent vast amounts of money on electoral propaganda and the questions the source of Azuaje's funding. While Silva was denouncing Azuaje, the deputy was being interviewed on the opposition 24-hour news station Globovision where the mudslinging continued.

Owner and editor of El Nacional broadsheet, Miguel Henrique Otero says the annual report on the press in Venezuela, which will be presented at a meeting of the Inter American Press Association, will include threats to Globovision TV channel, the closure of Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), aggression against journalists and educational reforms. Commenting on a statement from Communication & Information Minister, Andres Izarra, Otero argues that while the Minister maintains that Globovision should remain open, threats against the channel are public and in evidence from the "enormous quantity of legal actions, fines and even demonstrations outside the channel's front doors." Otero reserves his strongest criticism for the government's education reform, which he lambasts as the government's way of pushing through the rejected constitutional reform, namely via the schools. As for the government-sponsored meeting on media terrorism, the newspaper owner sees it as positive because he contends that before there had been exclusion. "They are now taking us into account and seeking alternative measures, such as debate ... I think that's very good."

Continuing his campaign of writing letters to editors of important newspapers, Communication & Information Minister Andres Izarra has directed his attention to Spanish newspaper El Pais and its editor, Javier Moreno. Izarra says the newspaper's editorial line has shown an evident bias in manipulating information against Venezuela and its people. "We are deeply concerned about the violation of the right of readers to receive as complete truthful information as possible ... (which) is one of the newspaper's main professional principles." In a similar vein to his letter to the Washington Post, Izarra lists the number of times the words " authoritarian," " dictator," " totalitarian" and " populist" have been used to describe Hugo Chavez. Between January 15 and March 15, the newspaper has published 142 articles on Venezuela, of which five were editorials and 21 opinion pieces with a clear negative tendency against the Venezuelan government. The Minister highlights the newspaper's treatment of the recent conflict with Colombia and concludes that it has shown a marked disregard for the truth and denied access to truthful information. International journalists are wondering, which is the next broadsheet to receive a letter, perhaps the liberal UK broadsheet, The Guardian, which is emerging as clear favorite.

British High Court judge, Paul Walker has finally published the reasons for his decision to lift the injunction freezing Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) assets in favor of ExxonMobil. In a 45-page document the judge has rejected the majority of arguments put forward by the transnational dismissing its argument of urgency and stating that PDVSA has not acted inappropriately regarding its assets. Furthermore, the judge reasons, PDVSA has no relevant connection with the United Kingdom where the injunction had been applied. Walker questions Exxon's allegations about supposed expropriations without compensation on the part of the Venezuelan state oil company. The court has also established a time-limit to fix the amount that Exxon must pay PDVSA for damages caused by the injunction and has ordered the company to pay PDVSA's legal costs.

Patrick J. O'Donoghue

Odeen Ishmael: Hemispheric resolution to the Ecuador-Colombia crisis

Guyana's ambassador to Venezuela, Dr. Odeen Ishmael writes: The momentum towards South American integration suffered a sharp setback earlier this month when a cross-border Colombian military raid on Ecuadorian territory resulted in a spiral of tension in that part of the Andean region. On the evening of March 1, Colombian soldiers killed top guerrilla leader Raul Reyes and more than twenty others when they attached a camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

In an immediate response to the military strike, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador and his political ally, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, severed diplomatic relations with Colombia. Chavez also ordered about 9,000 soldiers to the border with Colombia in what was regarded as a protective measure aimed at defending Venezuela's sovereign territory.

Soon after, President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, a close ally of Correa and Chavez, broke diplomatic relations with Colombia on the grounds that his country felt threatened by Colombian naval vessels near its maritime borders. The two countries are currently involved in a maritime border dispute that is engaging the attention of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

In a continent which has promoted cordial relations and strong political and economic integration since the start of the century, this military tension was an obvious setback. In recent months, though, the Venezuelan and Colombian presidents exchanged sharp differences ever since President Chavez began to broker the release of hostages held by FARC in remote Colombian locations.

While other leaders of Latin America and the Caribbean urged restraint, hemispheric organizations moved to defuse the situation.

At the request of Ecuador, the OAS called a special meeting of its Permanent Council on March 4-5 in Washington, and after intense deliberations, adopted a compromise resolution stating that Colombia had violated Ecuador's "territorial integrity" by attacking the FARC camp in Ecuador. But the resolution fell short of censuring Colombia which, along with its chief political ally, the United States, had opposed any condemnation while claiming the right to self-defense, and alleged that the FARC was plotting attacks from bases in neighboring countries.

The OAS also established a fact-finding mission headed by its Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, to visit both countries and make proposals to settle the grievances. Other members of the mission included the Permanent Representatives of Argentina, The Bahamas, Brazil and Panama.

The OAS meeting was followed by the annual Rio Group summit in the Dominican Republic on March 7. That summit's theme on energy, development and natural disasters was overshadowed by the Ecuador-Colombia crisis which, understandably, took centre-stage in the discussions. After a long session of frank exchanges by the presidents of Ecuador and Colombia, along with other forceful encouragement by other leaders, the Andean neighbors eventually agreed to an amicable resolution to the crisis.

They then signed a joint declaration with the other leaders noting that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe had earlier apologized for the attack on Ecuadorian territory and had pledged not to violate any other nation's sovereignty again.

Significantly, the declaration committed all the member states to combat threats to national stability posed by "irregular or criminal groups."

Correa, Chavez and Ortega, all leftists opposed to US foreign policies, were the most forceful in confronting Uribe during the discussions. But despite his criticisms, Chavez asked Uribe to set aside their personal differences and work together for peace and development, and urged both Colombia and Ecuador to reconcile their differences.

Other leaders also demanded the respect for territorial sovereignty and the rule of law. Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo called for the development of peace and good neighborliness in the region and reminded the summit that it was mainly for this reason that the Rio Group was established in 1986.

And taking an ideological stance, Bolivia's leftist president, Evo Morales, accused the United States of dividing a peaceful Latin America. He said that over the decades, false labels such as "communist" and "drug trafficker," and since the September 11 attack, "terrorist", have ruined lives and justified wars across the region. Mexican President Felipe Calderon, without criticizing the US, agreed that such labels were proving to be counterproductive.

While Venezuela and Nicaragua immediately after restored diplomatic relations with Colombia, Correa warned that his government "will take a little time" since trust would have to be restored between Ecuador and Colombia. That distrust can still provoke more tension, especially since Ecuador has expressed concerns that at least one Ecuadorian was killed in the Colombian attack.

As a follow-up to the OAS meeting on March 4-5, the hemisphere's Foreign Ministers convened at OAS headquarters in Washington on March 17 to examine the report of the fact-finding mission. They subsequently instructed Secretary General Insulza to implement a mechanism for observation in order to restore a climate of confidence between Ecuador and Colombia. Insulza will report to the Ministers on his efforts during the upcoming regular OAS General Assembly, scheduled for early June in Medellin, Colombia.

Now that a situation of calm has been restored, the people of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela are very much relieved. In general most of the people of these three nations see themselves as one big family historically and culturally. In Venezuela itself, people generally were confident that despite the military maneuvers on the border, no hostilities would ever have occurred; and cross-border trade continued with little interruption, despite the diplomatic break in relations. A long-term closure of the Venezuela-Colombia border would have caused major economic damage to both countries since trade would have been immensely affected.

Last year Colombian exports to Venezuela And to celebrate the normalization of relations, a huge rock music concert attended by more than 100,000 Venezuelans and Colombians was held at the Simon Bolivar International Bridge linking the border cities of Cucuta in Colombia and San Antonio in Venezuela.

But this crisis once again brings into focus a most crucial problem affecting Colombia and the hemisphere in general. Clearly, the agreements of the OAS and the Rio Group did not eliminate the causes of the crisis: a Colombian insurgency that has crossed its borders and a stalemate over international efforts to facilitate the release of hostages held by the FARC.

In Bogotá, the speaker of Congress, Nancy Patricia Gutiérrez, said the incident in Ecuador along with the OAS and Rio Group agreements should encourage Colombia "to forge closer ties with its neighbors to explain to them the internal situation in the country and the day-to-day escalation of violence to which it is subjected." Venezuela's OAS Permanent Representative Jorge Valero on March 4 went further, stating that the solution to regional tension would be for the Colombian government to negotiate with the FARC, a position also aired by the administration in Caracas.

To remedy this situation, the Union of South America Nations (UNASUR), in particular, will sooner than later have to place this issue of guerrilla and insurgent movements on its active agenda.

It is now obvious that insurgency actions spill across national borders and greater cooperation and coordination will be essential in dealing with the attendant consequences. As South American integration advances, the nations together must confront this crucial issue.

If it is allowed to fester, they will be forced to expend considerable human and financial resources over an extended period in efforts to contain it.

Odeen Ishmael

(The writer is Guyana's Ambassador to Venezuela. The views expressed are solely those of the writer.)

Venezuela's PDVSA is the solidest company of the world

ABN.- “PDVSA is the solidest company of the world”, said the adviser of the Permanent Commission of Energy and Mines of the national Assembly, Fernando Travieso; who also explained that Venezuela's oil reserve at the Orinoco Oil Belt “is the world's largest”.

Travieso made these statements in the program En Confianza, broadcast by the Venezuelan state-owned television channel Venezolana de Televisión (VTV), where one of the opposing analyst, Juan Carlos Sosa, was also invited. The latter always defended the transnational company ExxonMobil during the show.

Furthermore, Travieso pointed out that Venezuelan state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) “is the solidest company of the world because it has the world's largest reserve”.

He explained that the strength of an oil company at the international market is strictly based on the reserves owned and not because its selling income profits.

“A company worths as much as its certified reserves and not for its yearly incomes. World market analysts give more value to the amount of reserves owned by a company than the money it (the company) is spending”, said Travieso.

Regarding ExxonMobil pretentions against PDVSA and comparing both of them, he pointed out that “the one who needs Venezuela is ExxonMobil, who needs to take a plane, run, and wait three hours to talk to the Minister of Energy and Oil of Venezuela is ExxonMobil's Chairman”.

“PDVSA is one thousand times solider than ExxonMobil and than any other oil transnational, the strength of a company lies in its reserves”, reiterated.

Moreover, Travieso stated that, because following North American policies, “Exxon is damaging with its decisions its own shareholders, because when they decided to go out of the Orinoco Belt they lost the support of the reserves that the Belt supplied them”.

He pointed out that this measure took by Exxon was a mistake because it was the only company that, at the end, “did not accept to sign the transformation into mixed companies, as the other companies in the Belt did accept”.

Likewise, he underscored that works at the Orinoco Oil Belt “are now under Venezuelan control, in shares and strategically, and we also have more than 30 companies working in joint with PDVSA”.

In this regard, he added: “what North Americans and Europeans do not like is the presence of countries like China, Russia, Libya, Iran, Belarus; because the multi-polarity at the Orinoco Belt is, definitely, a policy for world's development”.

Travieso reminded that Bush said, recently, that currently his main objective is to change Iraq's Law on Hydrocarbons. In order to “classify Iraq's reserves as future production and strengthen his companies because the current law does not allow it, which was the law promulgated by Sadam Hussein”, explained.

In Travieso's opinion, “the strategical objective of the transnationals and first world countries is to own world's oil reserves”.

He warned that “as the difference between the amount of barrels consumed and new oil reserves discoveries keeps growing, the pressure on Venezuela will increase”.

Travieso also stated that “when ExxonMobil was at the Orinoco oil Belt, they were going to restock 107 barrels for every 100 barrels sold, and after they went out they only restocked 76 barrels for every 100”.

He took advantage of the opportunity to make clear that “everything that has been said by Venezuelan opposition is a lie, it has been just a mass media campaign against Venezuela”.

By the other hand, Juan Carlos Sosa tried to explain how the National Government, in his opinion, should carry out better oil policies.

According to Sosa, the Government should negotiate with transnational companies like ExxonMobil because, he assures, that “Exxon is the first oil company of the world”.

He stated that his affirmation is because “as long as we have in Venezuela competent companies like Exxon, with experience and several years of trajectory, which would guarantee us to have partners and allies allowing us to be more productive and have more doors and markets opened”.

Sosa apologized his statements and assured that “when I talk about the Exxon, what I try to show and open the eyes to the country, because I think the oil matter has been treated wrong”.

When he was questioned about the oil opening treaties signed in Venezuela in the 90s, agreements that were revoked by the Government of the President Hugo Chávez Frías, Sosa avoided the subject saying that, currently, Exxon's issue is more important and that the past oil opening does not have anything to do with the current matter.

Nevertheless, ExxonMobil's case is closely linked to the so-called oil opening because the agreements signed in that period were the ones that allowed ExxonMobil's aggressions against PDVSA.

In Sosa's opinion, “National Government's policies slow down and restrict country's possibilities”.
Nevertheless, during the Orinoco Oil Belt nationalization process, which ended in 2007 when a set of mixed companies were created, Venezuela opened itself to an energy market and signed agreements with more than 30 oil companies of all over the world.

Likewise, when Sosa defended ExxonMobil, he said that “National Government kicked Exxon and discredited it worldwide, cornered it, and that's why Exxon took legal actions against PDVSA in order to defend its interests”.