US Rep. Brands Cuba/Brazil/Venezuela 'New Axis of Evil'

Mike Friedman mikedf at
Fri Nov 1 23:29:01 MST 2002

Insight  October 29, 2002

US Rep. Brands Cuba/Brazil/Venezuela 'New Axis of Evil'

Hyde Urges Bush to Help Oust Venezuelan President

By J. Michael Waller

Warning of the formation of a potential "Axis of Evil" in the Americas, a=
influential lawmaker has called on President George W. Bush to support th=
ouster of left-wing Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.

Just days before Brazilians elected radical populist Lula da Silva as the=
president on Oct. 27, House International Relations Committee Chairman He=
Hyde (R-Ill.) sent President Bush a powerfully phrased letter warning tha=
t a
triumvirate of political extremists leading economic powerhouse Brazil, o=
giant Venezuela and the terrorist-sponsoring regime of Cuba constitute an
emerging "Axis of Evil" that the United States must stop.

Insight obtained a copy of the two-page letter, dated Oct. 24.

Hyde is concerned that da Silva's professed desire to renew Brazil's
nuclear-weapons program and his hints at building the country's economy a=
global stature through proliferation of advanced weapons, is particularly
alarming - especially in light of the Brazilian leader's open support for
hemispheric terrorist organizations.

Combined with the State Department's continued listing of Cuba as a spons=
of international terrorism and the Venezuelan paratrooper-turned-presiden=
open embrace of Havana and fellow terrorist regimes in Iran and Iraq, Hyd=
has become alarmed at the administration's apparent inaction.

Hyde recounts the Chavez regime's record, which, according to the letter,
includes "fundamental" violation of the Venezuelan constitution and
usurpation of powers of the legislative and judicial branches; "public
alliances with state sponsors of terrorism including Cuba, Iraq and Iran"
and subsidizing the Fidel Castro regime with oil; and support for "terror=
organizations attacking nearby fragile democracies including the FARC
[Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] in Colombia and radical
antidemocratic groups seeking to destabilize Bolivia and Ecuador."

"The Clinton administration remained unconscionably silent about the
antidemocratic actions of President Chavez," according to Hyde, who urged
Bush to stop continuing the Clinton policies and to start telling the tru=
about Venezuela:

"This is the time for the Bush administration to set the factual and
historical record straight: The current regime of President Chavez is
illegitimate because it is based upon the systematic violation of the
Venezuelan constitution in force in 1999," Hyde wrote. "The Bush
administration should also declare itself in sympathy with the
pro-democratic civil-military coalition in Venezuela which seeks to resto=
democracy and should do so at once."

According to Hyde, "all the pro-democracy elements of the society, includ=
the genuinely democratic political parties, the labor unions, business
associations and religious institutions, have been gathered for two days =
coalition with a group of active duty military officers of flag rank
demanding that President Hugo Chavez resign and that new, free and open
elections be held."

Such action might moderate the incoming da Silva government in Brazil. Hy=
is especially concerned that da Silva would make good on his statements t=
build and proliferate nuclear weapons.

Other lawmakers share Hyde's concern. The International Relations Committ=
chairman told Bush, "Recently, many of my colleagues in the Congress wrot=
you a letter in which they expressed their concerns about the ten-year-lo=
association of Mr. Lula da Silva with Latin American, European and Middle
Eastern terrorist organizations in a forum which he convened and organize=
in silent partnership with Castro.

"They also expressed their concern about Mr. Lula da Silva's recent
statements indicating an interest in reviving Brazil's nuclear-weapons
program, which from 1965-1994 not only wasted enormous resources that cou=
have helped the poor, but also succeeded in designing a 30 kiloton nuclea=
bomb which could be quickly tested if the program were revived.

"There is a real prospect that Castro, Chavez and Lula da Silva could
constitute an axis of evil in the Americas which might soon have nuclear
weapons and ballistic missiles. ... This is the time to support the
pro-democratic coalition in Venezuela and to help the people of Brazil
understand the truth about Chavez so that they do not make a similar mist=
and elect another pro-Castro radical who will neither help the poor, nor
help their economy, nor live at peace with democratic neighbors."

J. Michael Waller is a senior writer for Insight magazine.

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