December 2002


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George Salzman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 14 Dec 2002 12:19:15 -0500
text/plain (183 lines)
Oaxaca, Saturday, December 14, 2002


      A truly herculean effort to turn the course of history towards true
democracy is right now underway, spearheaded at this very moment in the
western hemisphere by the vast majority of (poor) people in Venezuela and by
the burgeoning movement of authentic journalism. This week has been a
blockbuster. On Thursday (Dec 12) the following remarkable open letter
appeared, signed initially by five U.S. Representatives and one authentic
journalist. Since then at least eleven more members of the House of
Representatives have signed it.

Hon. George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC, 20500

Dear President George W. Bush,

Given the high level of political tension in Venezuela, and recognizing that
part of the leadership of the opposition is determined to depose President
Hugo Chávez by any means, we, the undersigned organizations and persons,
urge you to declare unequivocally that the government of the United States
is opposed to any unconstitutional or coup attempt against the
democratically elected government of Venezuela. Also, the White House should
affirm that the United States will not recognize diplomatic relations with a
government installed by means of a coup.

We believe that the silence of the White House after the April 11th coup
d'etat, which the Administration appeared to congratulate, is generally seen
as a support for a coup. We are concerned by the fact that this perception
diminishes the incentives for the opposition and the Chávez government to
seek dialogue or a peaceful solution to the current crisis.

We are also concerned that, while the top officials of the White House have
remained silent, Otto Reich, the Special Envoy for the Western Hemisphere of
the State Department, recently denounced the Venezuelan government, saying
that, "the existence of elections is not enough to say that a country is
democratic." This is a strange departure from diplomatic protocol, and in
the light of what happened during the April coup, it has risen the level of
suspicion that Venezuelan officials have about Washington's motives. The
role of the United States government in the April 11th coup is not clear. We
know that some United States officials met with the coup leaders in the
months before the coup. Groups involved with the coup also received
financing from the United States government. At the same time, the Bush
Administration openly expressed its hostility toward the government of
President Chávez.

According to the office of the Inspector General of the State Department,
one of the reasons for this friction was "the participation (of President
Chávez) in the affairs of the Venezuelan oil company and the impact this
could have on the price of oil."

Also, the Office of the Inspector General of the State Department, after
investigating the role of U.S. officials before and after the April coup,
concluded that U.S. warnings against the coup "were perhaps not critical
enough. Among these warnings, few went beyond the formulation of common and
ritualistic opposition to 'anti-democratic or unconstitutional change.' Any
warning of non-recognition of a coup installed government, economic
sanctions or other punitive and corrective actions were few and far between.
Retrospectively, this has also been recognized and lamented by some high
United States officials."

The Inspector General's report also noted that "the fact of having met
frequently with those interested in toppling the Chávez government could
have been seen as United States backing for their efforts, notwithstanding
our ritualistic denunciation of anti-democratic and unconstitutional

Given those circumstances, the current silence by the White House about its
opposition to a coup d'etat or other unconstitutional defeat of a
democratically elected government in Venezuela is seen throughout Venezuela
and elsewhere as support for those illegal actions. The opposition leaders,
determined to defeat a government, have few incentives to seek a peaceful
solution via dialogue if they believe that the United States government
would support whatever happens. The government of the United States must
demonstrate its current and active support for democratically elected
governments. Only a strong statement of condemnation by the White House
explaining that the U.S. is opposed to violent or unconstitutional actions,
that it will not tolerate a coup government and that it will impose
sanctions on any government installed by coup measures, would send the
correct and democratic message to the Venezuelan political actors and the
other Latin American governments.

Therefore, we urge the White House to clarify its position, before Venezuela
enters a Civil War.


U.S. Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Michigan
U.S. Rep. José E. Serrano, New York
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts
U.S. Rep. Major R. Owens, New York
Al Giordano, journalist, América

      The additional eleven congressional signatories of whom I know are:
Rep. Bernard Sanders
Rep. Fortney Pete Stark
Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky
Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey
Rep. Barbara Lee
Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey
Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones
Rep. John Lewis
Rep. Danny K. Davis
Rep. Sherrod Brown
Rep. Chaka Fattah

      Then yesterday (Friday the 13th), the day after the open letter became
public, the White House spokesman put out an urgent call for support for
Bush's policy. The following e-mail alerted me:
Subject: [narconews] Bush's Desperate Venezuela Statement
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 14:03:30 -0600
From: "Alberto M. Giordano" <[log in to unmask]>

With Bush's bluff called by yesterday's Congressional letter in protest of
U.S. Venezuela policy, the White House released a desperate public statement
today that revealed, more transparently than before, its pro-coup agenda.

Join us as we read between the lines of that statement (which can be
summarized as "hurry up! The coup is falling apart!") to point out the true
White House agenda - everything it has denied since last April's coup
attempt - in Latin America:

It's down to the wire in Venezuela, with the door closing on destabilization
attempts. Will Washington go so far as to invade a democratic country ("send
in the hanging chads"?) if it doesn't get its way? U.S. citizens: that's up
to you.

Now that Bush has unmasked, the events of the next few days will have
serious consequences - pro or con - for the safety of constitutional
democracy in all countries in our América.

Al Giordano
      So who is this Al Giordano anyway, and how come five members of the
U.S. House of Representatives and he alone issued that open letter?
Al is turning heaven and earth to try to support authentic democracy in
Latin America. His Narco News website is an incredibly comprehensive mozaic
of accurate information. Of course the ruling elements of the U.S.
government hate him and his journalistic efforts, but he just won't be
bought. I haven't yet confirmed it, but I'm reasonably sure it's he who
wrote that letter and sought progressive representatives to join him as
signatories. What a feat!

      I think there's an even chance that the Venezuelan people may win this
struggle, unlike the Chilean people who lost their authentic democracy on
September 11, 1973 to the bloody forces of the Pinochet-led military, fully
backed by the Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. military surveillance, and
U.S. capital, notably International Telephone and Telegraph, who were damned
if they were going to let democracy flourish in Chile to the detriment of
U.S. profits.

      To add your signature to the call for U.S. support for democracy in
Venezuela, go to:

      And to get a breathtaking view of this week's developments in
Venezuela, go to

      Following this note, I will send, in a single post, the e-mails, in
chronological order, that I got from Al this week.

      In order to really know what's going on in the world it's probably
desirable to give up the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los
Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, the
Boston Globe (owned by the New York Times), whatever corporate news sources
we have tended to rely on for our daily "news feed." We ought turn instead
to authentic journalism sources, and not let the range of permissible
discourse continue to be framed primarily by the capitalist media, by CNN,
ABC News, Reuters, Associated Press, NPR and so on. We American people, like
the Venezuelan people, must totally unchain our minds from the bonds of
corporate media if we are ever to be truly free and to live once again in
"the home of the brave" instead of the fearful. A big struggle, but worth