More on US and Venezuela

This story about the US funding opposition to Hugo Chavez is a difficult one to understand clearly. As all stories are, really. Even if one is oneself an investigative reporter and has many reliable sources with masses of evidence – one still doesn’t know what sources one has overlooked, which sources are reliable but partial, reliable but themselves overlooking something – and so on, back and back it goes, into the receding mirror of who really does know. (This of course is the bit of break in the rock where postmodernism gets its toehold: the truth can be very hard to pin down, therefore why not just shrug and say there is no truth and proceed to tell stories instead.) All stories and reports and analyses are like that, but some are even more so.

My colleague points out that it’s odd that there’s not more about it in the UK media, since they’re not usually reluctant to express suspicion of US motives. And he’s right; I haven’t found much. The BBC has a couple of stories, but they’re precisely the kind that are hard to understand clearly. This one is quite non-committal, saying Chavez ‘claims’ the US is funding the opposition, and that the EU has deplored the climate of violence. This one on the other hand reports that Venezuela’s ambassador to the UN has resigned in protest at Chavez’ policies, and talks about tension, violence and division over a referendum to vote Chavez out.

Venezuela is deeply divided over President Chavez, with his supporters regarding him as a champion of the poor and his opponents viewing him as dangerously autocratic.

There you are, of course. One person’s champion of the poor is another person’s dangerous autocratic demagogue. This is certainly not the first time we’ve seen such a scenario – in fact it sounds exactly like Chile in 1973, just for one. So I’ll just offer up a few links, and let you ponder them.

One from the Toronto Star which is pretty much on the champion of the poor side.

Last month, Haiti’s democratically elected government was overthrown in a coup orchestrated by Haiti’s wealthy elite, with apparent support from Washington. That has fueled speculation Washington will encourage a similar coup in Venezuela, where the well-to-do are itching for an opportunity to overthrow Chavez. In fact, they’ve already overthrown him once. In April, 2002, an armed faction led by the head of the local chamber of commerce stormed the presidential palace and took Chavez prisoner…This country of 23 million remains fiercely divided, mostly along class lines. The opposition, led by the wealthy elite, has 3.4 million signatures on a petition to recall Chavez, but a court-appointed commission has questioned 1.5 million of those signatures. The matter is under review, with the support of international agencies. It’s not surprising the well-to-do hate Chavez who, in the past five years, has made an aggressive assault against their long-entrenched privileges. For decades, they effectively ruled Venezuela, maintaining close ties with U.S. corporate interests and siphoning off billions of dollars in revenues from the state-owned oil company to support their lavish lifestyles.

One from the Observer that considers the comparison with Haiti. Letters to the Guardian, one on each side. And the link José gave, to a site which has as he says a pro-Chavez point of view.

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