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Forum Post: Vaya con Dios, Hugo Chávez, Mi Amigo

Posted 8 years ago on March 6, 2013, 4:04 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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Vaya con Dios, Hugo Chávez, Mi Amigo

Wednesday, 06 March 2013 14:53 By Greg Palast, Truthout | News Analysis


For BBC Television, Greg Palast met several times with Hugo Chávez, who passed away yesterday.

As a purgative for the crappola fed to Americans about Chavez, my foundation, The Palast Investigative Fund, is offering the film, The Assassination of Hugo Chavez, as a free download. Based on my several meetings with Chavez, his kidnappers and his would-be assassins, filmed for BBC Television. DVDs also available.

Chávez once asked me why the US elite wanted to kill him. My dear Hugo: It's the oil. And it's the Koch Brothers - and it's the ketchup.

Reverend Pat Robertson said,

"Hugo Chavez thinks we're trying to assassinate him. I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."

It was 2005 and Robertson was channeling the frustration of George Bush's State Department. Despite Bush's providing intelligence, funds and even a note of congratulations to the crew who kidnapped Chavez (we'll get there), Hugo remained in office, re-elected and wildly popular.

But why the Bush regime's hate, hate, hate of the president of Venezuela?

Reverend Pat wasn't coy about the answer: It's the oil.

"This is a dangerous enemy to our South controlling a huge pool of oil."

A really big pool of oil. Indeed, according to Guy Caruso, former chief of oil intelligence for the CIA, Venezuela holds a recoverable reserve of 1.36 trillion barrels, that is, a whole lot more than Saudi Arabia.

If we didn't kill Chavez, we'd have to do an "Iraq" on his nation. So the Reverend suggests,

"We don't need another $200 billion war....It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

Chavez himself told me he was stunned by Bush's attacks: Chavez had been quite chummy with Bush Senior and with Bill Clinton.

So what made Chávez suddenly "a dangerous enemy"? Here's the answer you won't find in The New York Times:

Just after Bush's inauguration in 2001, Chavez's congress voted in a new "Law of Hydrocarbons." Henceforward, Exxon, British Petroleum, Shell Oil and Chevron would get to keep 70 percent of the sales revenues from the crude they sucked out of Venezuela. Not bad, considering the price of oil was rising toward $100 a barrel.

But to the oil companies, which had bitch-slapped Venezuela's prior government into giving them 84 percent of the sales price, a cut to 70 percent was "no bueno." Worse, Venezuela had been charging a joke of a royalty - just 1 percent - on "heavy" crude from the Orinoco Basin. Chavez told Exxon and friends they'd now have to pay 16.6 percent.

Clearly, Chavez had to be taught a lesson about the etiquette of dealings with Big Oil.

On April 11, 2002, President Chavez was kidnapped at gunpoint and flown to an island prison in the Caribbean Sea. On April 12, Pedro Carmona, a business partner of the US oil companies and president of Fedecamaras, the nation's chamber of commerce, declared himself President of Venezuela - giving a whole new meaning to the term, "corporate takeover."

US Ambassador Charles Shapiro immediately rushed down from his hilltop embassy to have his picture taken grinning with the self-proclaimed "president" and the leaders of the coup d'état.

Bush's White House spokesman admitted that Chavez was, "democratically elected," but, he added, "Legitimacy is something that is conferred not by just the majority of voters." I see.

With an armed and angry citizenry marching on the presidential palace in Caracas ready to string up the coup plotters, Carmona - the Pretend President from Exxon - returned his captive, Chavez, back to his desk within 48 hours. (How? Get The Assassination of Hugo Chavez, the film that expands on my reports for BBC Television. It's free for the next few days at http://www.gregpalast.com/chavezdownload/) thanks to the generosity of donors to our foundation.)

Chavez had provoked the coup not just by clawing back some of the bloated royalties of the oil companies. It's what he did with that oil money that drove Venezuela's 1% to violence.

In Caracas, I ran into the reporter for a TV station whose owner is generally credited with plotting the coup against the president. While doing a publicity photo shoot, leaning back against a tree, showing her wide-open legs nearly up to where they met, the reporter pointed down the hill to the "ranchos," the slums above Caracas, where shacks, once made of cardboard and tin, where quickly transforming into homes of cinder blocks and cement.

"He [Chavez] gives them bread and bricks, so they vote for him, of course." She was disgusted by "them," the 80 percent of Venezuelans who are negro e indio (black and Indian) - and poor. Chavez, himself negro e indio, had, for the first time in Venezuela's history, shifted the oil wealth from the privileged class that called themselves "Spanish," to the dark-skinned masses.

While trolling around the poor housing blocks of Caracas, I ran into Arturo Quiran, a local merchant seaman, and no big fan of Chavez. But over a beer at his kitchen table, he told me,

"Fifteen years ago under [then-President] Carlos Andrés Pérez, there was a lot of oil money in Venezuela. The 'oil boom' we called it. Here in Venezuela there was a lot of money, but we didn't see it."

But then came Hugo Chavez and now the poor in his neighborhood, "get medical attention, free operations, x-rays, medicines; education also," he said. "People who never knew how to write, now know how to sign their own papers."

Chavez's Robin Hood thing, shifting oil money from the rich to the poor, would have been grudgingly tolerated by the US. But Chavez, who told me, "We are no longer an oil colony," went further - too much further, in the eyes of the American corporate elite.

Venezuela had landless citizens by the millions - and unused land by the millions of acres tied up, untilled, on which a tiny elite of plantation owners squatted. Chavez's congress passed a law in 2001 requiring untilled land to be sold to the landless. It was a program long promised by Venezuela's politicians at the urging of John F. Kennedy as part of his "Alliance for Progress."

Plantation owner Heinz Corporation didn't like that one bit. In retaliation, Heinz closed its ketchup plant in the state of Maturin and fired all the workers. Chavez seized the Heinz plant and put the workers back on the job. Chavez didn't realize that he'd just squeezed the tomatoes of America's powerful Heinz family and Mrs. Heinz' husband, Sen. John Kerry, now US Secretary of State.

Or, knowing Chavez as I do, he didn't give a damn.

Chavez could survive the ketchup coup, the Exxon "presidency," even his taking back a piece of the windfall of oil company profits, but he dangerously tried the patience of America's least-forgiving billionaires: the Koch Brothers.

How? Well, that's another story for another day. [Watch this space. Or read about it in the book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits. Go to www.BallotBandits.org).

Elected presidents who annoy Big Oil have ended up in exile - or coffins: Mossadegh of Iran after he nationalized BP's fields (1953), Elchibey, president of Azerbaijan, after he refused demands of BP for his Caspian fields (1993), President Alfredo Palacio of Ecuador after he terminated Occidental's drilling concession (2005).

"It's a chess game, Mr. Palast," Chavez told me. He was showing me a very long and very sharp sword once owned by Simon Bolivar, the Great Liberator. "And I am," Chavez said, "a very good chess player." In the film The Seventh Seal, a medieval knight bets his life on a game of chess with the Grim Reaper. Death cheats, of course, and takes the knight. No mortal can indefinitely outplay Death who, this week, Chavez must know, will checkmate the new Bolivar of Venezuela.

But in one last move, the Bolivarian grandmaster plays a brilliant endgame, naming Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, as good and decent a man as they come, as heir to the fight for those in the "ranchos." The 1% of Venezuela, planning on Chavez's death to return them the power and riches they couldn't win in an election, are livid with the choice of Maduro.

Chavez sent Maduro to meet me in my downtown New York office back in 2004. In our run-down detective digs on Second Avenue, Maduro and I traded information on assassination plots and oil policy.

Even then, Chavez was carefully preparing for the day when Venezuela's negros e indios would lose their king - but still stay in the game.

Class war on a chessboard. Even in death, I wouldn't bet against Hugo Chavez.

Copyright, Truthout.



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[-] 2 points by Middleaged (5140) 8 years ago

Idiots like Robertson think war is $200 billion a pop. I count over $5 Trillion increase in DOD Budget since like 1998 in just 10 years from 2000 when Bush the W took over and all budgets were kicked open.

I like Greg Palast. I still have to dig in to contrast and answer some questions I have about Hugo Chavez. Palast did a pretty good interview with Hugo a few years ago on Video on the Internet. All Countries have Problems. Some countries have Blatant violence created by the CIA especially in South America.

The US Oil Barons Clearly have to much Influence in policics, In Congress, in the CIA, and in what passes for US History. Seems clear US Regulators, FTC, OSHA, and probably financial regulators are under a spell from the Rich Oil Industry.... Oh and probably some US State Governments too.

I guess the Question is When had the US Government or Wall Street Ever Gave a Damn about people in Foreign Countries?

The Answer: Never.

You can hear the words in MSM of how Hugo ruined the Country through his Socialism. But when have Americans in the Press or otherwise criticized the IMF, WB, WTO, or US CIA Involvement? When have US People cared about the US Relationships with Tyrants or Dictators ... and how US Money ends up in the bank accounts of foreign government leaders ... while few if any Social Reforms take place as a result of US Relationships or Oil Money?

Look at the List of CIA Covert Actions for Regime Change. Did you see this in the MSM or in High School History? No ... because we want to have our kids support all our millitary and corporate actions.


Reasons for these conflicts were varied but largely economic in nature. The conflicts were called "Banana Wars", a term that arose from the connections between these interventions and the preservation of American commercial interests in the region.

Most prominently, the United Fruit Company had significant financial stakes in production of bananas, tobacco, sugar cane, and various other products throughout the Caribbean, Central America and Northern South America. The U.S. was also advancing its political interests, maintaining a sphere of influence and controlling the Panama Canal which it had recently built, critically important to global trade and naval power.

In political science and economics, the principal–agent problem or agency dilemma concerns the difficulties in motivating one party (the "agent"), to act in the best interests of another (the "principal") rather than in his or her own interests.

Common examples of this relationship include corporate management (agent) and shareholders (principal), or politicians (agent) and voters (principal).[1]


In economic theory, a moral hazard is a situation where a party will have a tendency to take risks because the costs that could incur will not be felt by the party taking the risk. In other words, it is a tendency to be more willing to take a risk, knowing that the potential costs or burdens of taking such risk will be borne, in whole or in part, by others. A moral hazard may occur where the actions of one party may change to the detriment of another after a financial transaction has taken place.


A conflict of interest (COI) occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in another.


An agency cost is an economic concept concerning the cost to a "principal" (an organization, person or group of persons), when the principal chooses or hires an "agent" to act on its behalf. Because the two parties have different interests and the agent has more information, the principal cannot directly ensure that its agent is always acting in its (the principals') best interests.[1]

Agency Cost sounds like the Problem with you Let bankers like Goldman Sachs & JP Mogan Manage their own Bail Out ... Pay them Fees to Construct and Design their Own Bail out as we did in 2008. Or Agency Cost is what happens if you Let Defense Contractors or Right Wing Think Tanks determine war policy or take DOD funds to participate in significant pieces of War... profiting from war consulting, war profiteering, and Privateering....


Historically, the distinction between a privateer and a pirate has been, practically speaking, vague, often depending on the source as to which label was correct in a particular circumstance.[2] The actual work of a pirate and a privateer is generally the same (raiding and plundering ships); it is, therefore the authorization and perceived legality of the actions that form the distinction. At various times governments indiscriminately granted authorization for privateering to a variety of ships, so much so that would-be pirates could easily operate under a veil of legitimacy.

"....A mercenary[1] is a person who takes part in an armed conflict, who is not a national or a party to the conflict and is "motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain...."

Geneva Convention Article 47. Mercenaries

  1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.

  2. A mercenary is any person who:

(a) is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
(b) does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;
(c) is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;
(d) is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;
(e) is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and
(f) has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.

http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/7c4d08d9b287a42141256739003e636b/f6c8b9fee14a77fdc125641e0052b079 (Geneva Convention Protocol I)

Geneva Convention Article 75. Fundamental guarantees

  1. In so far as they are affected by a situation referred to in Article 1 of this Protocol, persons who are in the power of a Party to the conflict and who do not benefit from more favourable treatment under the Conventions or under this Protocol shall be treated humanely in all circumstances and shall enjoy, as a minimum, the protection provided by this Article without any adverse distinction based upon race, colour, sex, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, national or social origin, wealth, birth or other status, or on any other similar criteria. Each Party shall respect the person, honour, convictions and religious practices of all such persons.

  2. The following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever, whether committed by civilian or by military agents:
    (a) violence to the life, health, or physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular:
    (i) murder;
    (ii) torture of all kinds, whether physical or mental;
    (iii) corporal punishment; and
    (iv) mutilation;

(b) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault;

[-] 2 points by bensdad (8977) 8 years ago

One less billionaire - boo hoo

Analyst estimates Chávez’s family fortune at around $2 billion

Criminal Justice International Associates (CJIA), a risk assessment and global analysis firm in Miami, estimated in a recent report that the Chávez Frías family in Venezuela has “amassed a fortune” similar to that of the Castro brothers in Cuba.

According to Jerry Brewer, president of CJIA, “the personal fortune of the Castro brothers has been estimated at a combined value of around $2 billion.”

“The Chávez Frías family in Venezuela has amassed a fortune of a similar scale since the arrival of Chávez to the presidency in 1999,” said Brewer in an analysis published in their website.

Brewer said that Cuba is receiving about $5 billion per year from the Venezuelan treasury and in oil shipments and other resources.

“We believe that organized bolivarian criminal groups within the Chávez administration have subtracted around $100 billion out of the nearly $1 trillion in oil income made by PDVSA since 1999.”

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 8 years ago

Hugo Chávez Dead: Transformed Venezuela & Survived U.S.-Backed Coup, Now Leaves Uncertainty Behind

Wednesday, 06 March 2013 12:48 By Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! | Video


[-] 0 points by peacehurricane (293) 8 years ago

What this honorable man did says to me YES WE CAN. Let us use these accomplishments as a guide. It is remarkable all that they have done in short period of time. We have the resources and know how. Since We are the government let's go! Can you people that know about using computer find out things like how this country accomplished so much. Where did they start what next come on use your ability to get this rolling. I just heard tell about all Chavez did and it is so impressive. His light shines our potentiality.

[-] -1 points by TimetoStop (-55) 8 years ago

So Chavez was a good dictator?

[-] -1 points by highlander2 (-48) 8 years ago

I suppose a lot of people are mourning Chavez's death. I am not one of them. Robin Hood was a thief and so was Chavez.

[-] -1 points by 1sealyon (434) 8 years ago

How did Chavez, after becoming president, amass a fortune of over $ 2 billion?


[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 8 years ago

Why are you certain that the report is true? I've only come across a single source for the claim with no detailed information whatsoever. No details about bank accounts or property owned or businesses being privately run. Just a claim from a company working with the very government that tried to illegally remove a legally elected official from office.

[-] 0 points by 1sealyon (434) 8 years ago

I am asking how.