“It is not just posturing towards Iran, the US has massively increased its presence in Latin America”, Nelson Davila, Venezuelan ambassador to Australia told a July 14 forum. The gathering was part of the “Underground Talk” series at the New International Bookshop at Melbourne Trades Hall.
“In recent weeks the US has moved huge numbers of soldiers into seven new bases in Colombia, another 7000 troops on mobile bases — warships — in Costa Rica, Panama, the Antilles and Curacao. All are within minutes of attack time off Venezuela or Cuba … Venezuela has already lodged a diplomatic protest about the incursion into our airspace of two Dutch F-16 fighter planes.”
On July 1, Francisco Antonio Chávez Abarca, a Salvadoran with CIA links, was arrested attempting to enter Venezuela. On July 6, he was extradited to Cuba to face charges of a series of bomb attacks there in 1997. Davila told the forum that at the time of his arrest, Chavez Abarca “had C-4 explosive which he would have used during the September elections, including against his own people, the Venezuelan opposition”.
He planned to detonate a bomb at an opposition rally so the world media and the US could blame the Venezuelan government, providing a pretext for intervention.
“Why attack Venezuela?”, Davila asked. “Because Venezuela is free to determine our own future. Until 1998, Venezuela was governed by the rich and powerful elite and the misnamed bipartisan ‘representative democracy’ … Since President Chavez has come to power there have been radical changes and achievements … It hasn’t been easy, we’ve made mistakes and had to correct them, but we have focused on redistributing the oil wealth as best and equally as we can.
“Remember that in 2002, the US backed a coup against Venezuela, so in reclaiming our sovereignty over our oil wealth we also have to ensure there is no US military attache based in Venezuela. This is a radical new concept … Prior to 1998, the US military had their own offices at our military bases.
“But now Venezuela is constructing a better model for our people: socialism. … And just as Cuba was attacked after chosing her socialist road, so too are we. The lies of the media know no bounds — they accuse us of being ready to take from our people [claiming] if you own two houses, the government would take one. This is a lie.
However [people in] capitalist nations around the world are facing unprecedented foreclosures — in those countries the state will repossess houses for private corporations and banks.
“People are losing their homes in capitalist nations, not socialist ones.”
Davila explained that the US was threatening physical violence because it was failing in the war of ideas. “In the USA for example, there are over 25 million very poor people — this is the equivalent of the whole population of Venezuela — and they need solutions.
“So really this is an ideological battle between socialism and capitalism. Capitalism has dominated the world for the past two centuries, but it is now being challenged head on by 21st century socialism.
“From the Empire’s perspective they must do anything they can to stop the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela. Not only do we promote socialist ideology — but we are achieving concretely better outcomes for our people.
“We have already achieved the UN Millennium Goals. We are solving our own problems, in the areas of the environment, housing, health, literacy — even UNESCO has praised these achievements.
“And this support of our people is why despite 12 or more elections in a decade, support for our president and the revolution continues to grow.
“Our socialism has elements of the socialisms of the past, previous models which were tried and developed, but we also develop our own, new theories and actions. Most importantly, we do not reject our past but embrace our indigenous heritage.
“We have indigenous participation from the lowest to the highest levels … as well as recognising Indigenous resistance and valuing culture. We have even got dedicated indigenous universities. This year four aboriginal Australian students will travel to study at our Indigenous university.”
Davila also pointed to “another significant motive [for the US] to intervene in Venezuela is the same reason they attacked Iraq: the Empire needs oil.
“In Iraq’s case the WMD lie was the pretext, in Iran’s case nuclear programs. In Latin America they use [allegations of] narcotrafficking. And specifically against Venezuela they use the case of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrillas at every opportunity to create the pretext for intervention.”