THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
November 10, 2005
New Statesman

The Rise Of America's New Enemy

by John Pilger

I was dropped at Paradiso, the last middle-class area before barrio La Vega, which spills into a ravine as if by the force of gravity. Storms were forecast, and people were anxious, remembering the mudslides that took 20,000 lives. "Why are you here?" asked the man sitting opposite me in the packed jeep-bus that chugged up the hill. Like so many in Latin America, he appeared old, but wasn't. Without waiting for my answer, he listed why he supported President Chavez: schools, clinics, affordable food, "our constitution, our democracy" and "for the first time, the oil money is going to us." I asked him if he belonged to the MRV, Chavez's party, "No, I've never been in a political party; I can only tell you how my life has been changed, as I never dreamt."

It is raw witness like this, which I have heard over and over again in Venezuela, that smashes the one-way mirror between the west and a continent that is rising. By rising, I mean the phenomenon of millions of people stirring once again, "like lions after slumber/In unvanquishable number", wrote the poet Shelley in The Mask of Anarchy. This is not romantic; an epic is unfolding in Latin America that demands our attention beyond the stereotypes and cliches that diminish whole societies to their degree of exploitation and expendability.

To the man in the bus, and to Beatrice whose children are being immunised and taught history, art and music for the first time, and Celedonia, in her seventies, reading and writing for the first time, and Jose whose life was saved by a doctor in the middle of the night, the first doctor he had ever seen, Hugo Chavez is neither a "firebrand" nor an "autocrat" but a humanitarian and a democrat who commands almost two thirds of the popular vote, accredited by victories in no less than nine elections. Compare that with the fifth of the British electorate that re-installed Blair, an authentic autocrat.

Chavez and the rise of popular social movements, from Colombia down to Argentina, represent bloodless, radical change across the continent, inspired by the great independence struggles that began with SimOn Bolívar, born in Venezuela, who brought the ideas of the French Revolution to societies cowed by Spanish absolutism. Bolívar, like Che Guevara in the 1960s and Chavez today, understood the new colonial master to the north. "The USA," he said in 1819, "appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty."

At the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001, George W Bush announced the latest misery in the name of liberty in the form of a Free Trade Area of the Americas treaty. This would allow the United States to impose its ideological "market", neo-liberalism, finally on all of Latin America. It was the natural successor to Bill Clinton's North American Free Trade Agreement, which has turned Mexico into an American sweatshop. Bush boasted it would be law by 2005.

On 5 November, Bush arrived at the 2005 summit in Mar del Plata, Argentina, to be told his FTAA was not even on the agenda. . . .

While the world looks to Iran and Syria for the next Bush attack, Venezuelans know they may well be next. On 17 March, the Washington Post reported that Feliz Rodríguez, "a former CIA operative well-connected to the Bush family" had taken part in the planning of the assassination of the President of Venezuela. . . .

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Amy Chua, "Free-Market Democracy: Our Most Dangerous Export," Guardian, February 28, 2004

Paul Craig Roberts, "Hegemony Lost: The American Economy is Destroying Itself," CounterPunch, August 25, 2005

[Since Mexico signed the Nafta (North American Free Trade Agreement) deal with the US and Canada in 1992, its annual per capita growth rate has barely been above 1%. Vietnam has grown by around 5% a year for the past two decades. Poverty in Vietnam has come down dramatically: real wages in Mexico have fallen.--Larry Elliott, "A look at Vietnam and Mexico exposes the myth of market liberalisation," Guardian, December 12, 2005]

[. . . "the fight against drug trafficking has been a pretext for the US government to install military bases ... and these policies will be revised."--"Bolivian head 'stays true to roots'," New Statesman, December 20, 2005]

Stephen Lendman, "New Estimate of Venezuela's Total Oil Reserves Makes It the Grandest of Grand Prizes for US," opednews.com, May 23, 2006

[Analysts have said the proposal is highly unlikely to materialize but could in theory have serious consequences for the U.S. economy by undermining the value of the dollar and diminishing its status as the currency used in central-bank reserves.--"Venezuela Backs Plan to Sell Oil in Euros," Associated Press, June 1, 2006]

[The ominous rise around the globe of the resources-based corporate state is accelerating. The implications for the West are enormous, yet such implications are only beginning to be understood. As noted above, such states are concluding rapidly increased numbers of strategic agreements among themselves for the joint exploration and production of oil and gas, and with the rapidly rising powerhouse economies of the East, such as China and India, for the private long-term supply of oil and gas.--W Joseph Stroupe, "Russia spins global energy spider's web," Asia Times, August 25, 2006]

John Pilger, "Return Of People Power," New Statesman, September 4, 2006

[Professor Peter Odell, who was an adviser to Tony Benn, the British energy minister in the late 1970s, . . . warned that at any time Russian and Chinese state-owned oil companies, backed by certain rich members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries who are closely aligned with the two, could make hostile takeover bids for key Western oil majors such as BP-Shell, ExxonMobil and/or Chevron, thereby gutting what little remains of the Western oil majors' control over the global markets and thereby further threatening US access to strategic resources.

Odell warned that the Western oil majors were already losing their leadership of the global oil system, had now been reduced to controlling a mere 9% or 10% of the world's reserves, and were unable to win new production rights or even hold on to those granted by current PSAs (production-sharing agreements).

. . . mounting anxiety over energy security is also fueling the accelerating global trend toward the establishment of new oil and gas exchanges in the Middle East and the East as de facto rivals to the New York and London exchanges.

These new exchanges have two very prominent and significant features. First, they are bringing together primarily the globe's producers and the rising economies in the East to facilitate new Asia-centric (rather than US-centric) energy pricing and security arrangements. Second, they are denominated in currencies other than US dollars or are being structured with the autonomy and sophistication to switch from dollars to other currencies. --W Joseph Stroupe, "Russia attacks the West's Achilles' heel," Asia Times, November 22, 2006]

W Joseph Stroupe, "Russia tips the balance," Asia Times, November 23, 2006

[Within 25 years, the combined gross domestic products of China and India would exceed those of the Group of Seven wealthy nations,

. . . somewhere between 2030 and 2040, China would become the largest economy in the world, leaving the United States behind.

By 2050, China's current two trillion US dollar GDP was set to balloon to 48.6 trillion, while that of India, whose economy weighs in at under a trillion dollars, would hit 27 trillion--"West must prepare for Chinese, Indian dominance: Wolfensohn," AFP, November 26, 2006]

[There's a revolution underway in South America, but most of the world doesn't know it. Oliver Stone sets out on a road trip across five countries to explore the social and political movements as well as the mainstream media's misperception of South America while interviewing seven of its elected presidents. In casual conversations with Presidents Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Lula da Silva (Brazil), Cristina Kirchner (Argentina), as well as her husband and ex-President Nestor Kirchner, Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), and Raul Castro (Cuba), Stone gains unprecedented access and sheds new light upon the exciting transformations in the region.--"South of the Border: A film by Oliver Stone," southoftheborderdoc.com, 2010]

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