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Multilateral Reporting Needed on Chavez-Castro Spread

By Pedro Camargo

September 9, 2005 | Recently, Andres Oppenheimer, noted columnist with the Miami Herald, correctly followed up with a core question, already posed by many Latins: where are the fact-based reports on the Castro-Chavez destabilization activities? Month after month, the pro-Chavez propaganda teams defend the communism of Castro and Chavez’s fascism by claiming that there are no facts, no extant data to back up any claims by the USA that myriad abuses under Castro and Chavez exist.

There are numerous excuses for this lack of real time exposure. Partial blame falls to pro-Chavez politicians and soft-on-communism actors as well as Chavez’s highly paid spinmeisters and misinformation team, sometimes called paid lobbyists. Part of the blame falls to simple human laziness and an aversion to all things stemming from Latin America, assuming that Latins are so corrupt that even with the facts, no one cares. A large chunk of the blame belongs to Venezuelans who must stand united against Chavez’s control of their electoral system, their entire governance structure (such as it is -which is not much at all), their state-controlled employment, health, and educational systems and indeed: their very future. The problem lies with Venezuela’s core activities: billions and billions of oil money -shadowy financial dealings underway across many continents to squeeze off-the-books trading from Venezuela’s vast energy resources. Greed, cynicism, laziness, leftist rhetoric, dishonest reporting by about 2/3 of the media, corrupted politicians and oil speculators account for the vast core of the enabling of Venezuela’s now well-known underbelly of polluted politics. To this one must add the remarkably stubborn and extremely dangerous influence of Cuba’s dictator Fidel Castro, whose very essence is a campaign of hatred against democracy and personal freedom.

The real facts are this: not one nation in the Americas stepped past its own temerity to counter the Chavez threat of oil delivery suspension to insist on the very tenants of operational governance and democracy. In this modern day Latin oil-for-political-bribery scandal, which is far deeper than the United Nations scandal over Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the global communities turned a blind eye to the Venezuelan nightmare.

Today, none of these excuses justify the failures to deliver a full dossier on the Chavez-Castro anti-democracy regime sweeping across Latin America.

Oppenheimer cites some claims that the timidity of the USA to reveal its facts stem from ostensibly flawed CIA's intelligence in the Middle East and the public’s fears that bad reporting is underway. This is an incorrect assumption. The CIA is no longer under the soft-on-the-left political team of the past decade: one by one, they are retiring or departing, at last. Like a teen age girl who is all dressed up with no where to go, the CIA today struggles to regain its lost credibility. Useful to current events as they unfold, is a sweeping demand for integrity inside the CIA and its field operations. Even with this encouraging news, it remains that the U.S. Department of State remains reluctant to state the facts regarding Chavez. Nowhere are members of the U.S. Congress or other nations factually debriefed by State Department. Nowhere are factual transmittals shared with U.S. Embassy personnel overseas on the Castro-Chavez machinations. Not once has State Department actually presented to any nation or multilateral organization a factual analysis on Cuba and Venezuela today and this refusal to share facts, while repeating such silly, tepid, and useless phrases such as “we are worried” or “matters are troublesome” have widened an unintended consequence: deep distrust. While the United States correctly retains the right -and does so- to extend personal factual briefings behind closed doors to U.S. governmental officials, it is past time to coordinate multinational fact sharing.

We take issue with Oppenheimer that this responsibility of fact sharing solely rests on America’s shoulders nor should the Bush administration bear this burden alone.

Instead, officials from every Latin nation should be forthcoming with fact sharing on the infiltration of the Chavez-Castro agenda inside their own nations. These first hand reports will yield a far more useful analysis. It is incumbent among all Latin nations to be forthcoming if they are to continue even the modicum of civility agreed upon. While we are aware that Chavez has bribed or funded a certain political allegiance from numerous Latin actors or nations, these groups and countries must be willing to put facts on the table or be denounced as dishonest in any case, even as we note Oppenheimer’s call to denounce the USA for its reticence to state the facts. Narcoterrorism, such as is rife in the Andes, must be exposed.

As with most things in life, one can find plenty of blame to go around for this failure to report. The media itself has failed to actually perform investigative, in-depth reporting on its own. This is due to budget cuts and a reliance on wire service stringers plus a new propensity to rely on spoon fed “sources” which often are engineered by activist groups ( typically from the Left) anyway. In the case of Venezuela, many interest groups are actually foreign/Chavez-paid propaganda efforts and lobbyists hiding under a thin veil of `non profit’ efforts, which of course are actually for-profit activities that fail to accurately report to the U.S. government. Good journalistic reporting does exist across the Americas. The few writers and journalists who cover solid stories out of Latin America are practically revered today not only for their coverage but for their efforts to deliver reports during today’s dearth of real time efforts. Electronic media does not fare much better. Television coverage across the Americas appears to prefer the sensational (or mundane), the violent, and routinely avoids in-depth coverage. Numerous scripts for solid documentaries on the political fires in the Andes are forthcoming but the time between scripting and airing is painfully long, if sponsors and production teams are even willing. Nothing useful, except a random few TV or radio shows (and these are more often than not shuttered by governmental edict, not by popularity) counters the misinformation campaigns underway in an already poorly educated Latin society.

The United Nations (U.N.) will not perform the sole task of a full factual report on Venezuela, although it can and must craft its own for the portions that apply to signatoree agreements and treaties to affiliate in United Nations membership. There is no U.N.-backed Volcker Commission on corruption and bribery in Venezuela.

While the Organization of American States (OAS) has enough probable cause on its own to perform such a reporting task, and indeed should report particularly on the destruction of democracy in Venezuela, the OAS itself remains an ineffectual chattering club which is structurally unable and/or politically unwilling to bring forward such an independent analysis. The OAS has scant structural capacity for a non-governmental activity to actually perform although it does host or fund new so called civil society/ngo groups. Unfortunately, most OAS ngo groups are Chavez apologists in any case and are profoundly dominated by over-paid consultants and Bush-hating featured groups such as those paid for by hedge fund operator George Soros. The OAS has few functional civil society groups with any capacity to act independently or outside their own political views and leftist sponsor patronage. To many, their paid business is performing unhelpful rhetoric which actually confuses and destabilizes weak Latin systems. Many of these so called ngo groups actually act as foot soldiers for speculative funds and hedge funds, effectively delivering instability in Latin America for patronage profiteering. The OAS has preferred to support the idea that the Left is inevitable in Latin America and therefore the Left should be brought back more to the center Left. Thus a Carter-Era flawed theory has funded and enabled the continuation of numerous structurally weak so-called democracies which are top-heavy, mercantilist corrupt governments in Latin America and has instilled an institutional ` hear no evil, see no evil’ mentality.

With Hugo Chavez’s latest bank control legislation, his currency controls, price fixing schemes, and his personal capacity to control Venezuela’s majority of income revenues -read oil- the multilateral banks actually should perform full due diligence on Venezuela’s economic situation since Venezuela retains its alliance with the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Andean regional banks. Financial audits should stem from the Banks.

The United States has numerous tools for honest evaluation if the U.S. would but use its own tools. These reports are publicly available, such as State Department’s annual report on narcotrafficking and financial fraud. The U.S. Congress created these annual `certification’ tools to enable non-political annual reviews of Third World nations. State Department’s 2005 INL Report, Volume II: Money Laundering and Financial Crimes, page 479, clearly states: “ Venezuela is a major drug-transit country.” The report notes on numerous occasions that Venezuela has failed to strengthen its own laws and barely enforces, if at all, what few weak anti-crime laws exist regarding bank fraud, terrorism and narcotrafficking. The INL reports, “Current Venezuelan law does not….criminalize terrorism…” and has no organized crime law or definable, enforceable punishments or prosecutable crimes such as terrorist financing or money laundering. Although the government of Venezuela (GoV) is a signatory to numerous agreements and treaties, it has refused to participate since 2003 even in the South American Financial Task Force (GAFISUD) to which it is a signatory member nation. Today, Venezuela is not in “compliance with international standards for combating financial crimes.”

The international community, consisting of the OAS, the U.N., the EU, the USA and its pro-democracy allies, as well as the World Bank, Andean Development Bank and the IDB, have more than enough reporting tools to devise a full analysis of the Chavez regime. Should these bodies prove their tepidness, the State Department can revitalize its prior suggestion to establish an Andean regional coordinator or envoy to work to bring a firm coordinated solution to the substantive matters at hand. The media, currently under fire to avoid fact sharing on the neo-communism sweeping Latin America, must feel confident again, even protected, to deliver free reporting, even if escorts are required, as is currently the case.

Unlike Panama under then dictator Noriega, there is no battalion of U.S. Marines set to land in Caracas. There is no magical solution to the deep problems besetting Latin America today. Sound democratic principles, evenly applied justice and free market economies remain the best solutions for Latin ills . Counter to Castro’s claims, the U.S. in no way wants to seize any Latin nation: the U.S. Congress, which must pre-approve any military activities, has barred such activities and the U.S. taxpayers, already overly burdened, in no way desire to take over and rebuild any poverty stricken third world nations, particularly in South America. Psychologically, acts of aggression offend centuries-old American sensibilities. Castro and Chavez, meanwhile, seem to forget that the bulk of the U.S. geophysical spread was accomplished mostly through contracted, voluntary land purchases with only a slight few states petitioning to join the U.S. voluntarily. The United States is no empire, by definition of the word “empire.” Unlike empires, the U.S. never seeks to conquer and hold foreign lands. Unlike all Latin nations, with the exception of Costa Rica (which has no standing military), no president of the U.S. can muster any military activity without the `consent of the governed,’ in this case, without the U.S. Congress. Every person who has even a rudimentary knowledge of the U.S. knows well that the U.S. military is unarmed domestically and exists solely to defend from foreign aggression. Only the ignorant or propaganda specialists preying on state-mandated or organizationally supported ignorance for political advantage, inexcusably ignore this fact.

Although Castro has stiffed scores of nations and is mired in massive debt to nations which could use the money for their own poor citizenry, a certain cult-like adoration of Castro has commenced, funded by Chavez’s oil monies. This revisionist history ignores the Cuban diaspora and the utter ruin that is Cuba today. History has proven without a doubt that communism is a system that simply is untenable, enslaving its own and reducing humans to pawns of the state. Communism and its variants depends upon a closely guarded militarism for one reason: the communist system, as exists in Cuba, always crafts harm to the very persons it claims to uplift. Neo-socialism is not underway in Venezuela which currently experiences a non-democratic fascist state under Chavez. Fascism serves only….fascists and an inner circle of cronies.

All this is to suggest that a multinational task force, under an Andean envoy, should be underway to detail and evaluate the current crisis. There is no higher calling for diplomacy and no better use of all these magnificent diplomats.

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