In interview, Chavez cites US actions against Ven. government

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Fri Sep 19 03:17:48 MDT 2003

"We have proof of the CIA's clandestine activities in Venezuela".
Chavez talks to foreign journalists Thursday, Sep 18, 2003

By: Gregory Wilpert,
In a three-hour lunch meeting with foreign journalists yesterday,
Venezuela¡¯s president Hugo Chavez roamed over a wide variety of
topics, from the cancellation of his trip to the U.S., to the recall
referendum, to the WTO meeting in Cancun, and to Venezuela-Colombia
relations, among other issues.

One of the first and perhaps more puzzling topics that was broached
was the relatively sudden cancellation of the president¡¯s trip to the
U.S., scheduled for late September. President Chavez was supposed to
give a speech at the opening of the UN in New York, to visit Houston,
Texas, the city where the state-owned oil company Citgo will have its
new headquarters, and to give a speech in Harlem.

While the President said he regretted not being able to give the
speech in Harlem and to visit Houston, he said he cancelled the trip
for two main reasons. First, he said that the main reason was that
there were security concerns, the details of which he could not
disclose. Second, he said that he does not like UN summits. "I go
there and I don't feel like speaking because practically no one
listens. It's a dialogue of the deaf; it's silly. You go there to
listen to one discourse after another, one day after the other and for
what? What is the purpose? I prefer to denounce, to say that this
system is not working. I have a natural rejection of these summits."
He then went on to elaborate how fundamentally undemocratic the UN is
and that it needs to be democratized.

With regard to the letter of protest that representatives of the
opposition coalition Democratic Coordinator sent to the Organization
of American States, the UNDP, and the Carter Center, Chavez said that
it does not surprise him, since the opposition wants "a referendum
according to their preferences." He elaborated that in the past the
National Electoral Council was an arm of the two main governing
parties, Copei and AD, which helped them organize fraud and which
funded their election observers. The other, mostly leftist, parties
never had enough resources to post witnesses at all polling places.
Now, however, there is a National Electoral Council that is
independent and the opposition complains, since they are not used to
that, said Chavez.

Doubts on recall referendum

Asked if he thought that there would be a recall referendum before his
term ends, Chavez responded that "it is going to be extremely
difficult for the opposition to comply with the requirements for a
recall referendum." He added that several representatives of
opposition parties have told him in private that they actually are not
interested in a recall referendum because they would rather
concentrate on the upcoming elections for state governors, which are
supposed to take place in June or July of 2004. He thus doubts that
there is a real will on the part of the opposition to even organize a
proper recall referendum. But, nonetheless, "there is a possibility"
that there will be a referendum, but only if the opposition "takes its
opposition role seriously" and leaves aside all illegal efforts to
oust him.

International issues

On the nternational front, Chavez revealed that his government is in
the possession of a video, which his security forces secretly
recorded, of a CIA officer giving a class to Venezuelans on
surveillance. Joking he said, "The technique could not have been very
good, since we did manage to film him." He argues that this is
evidence that the CIA is involved in clandestine activity in
Venezuela, after the coup attempt, in addition to the evidence he has
of U.S. involvement before and during the coup; but his government has
so far not issued a formal complaint to the U.S. government. Some day,
he said, these pieces of evidence will be released, but he does not
know when.

With respect to the unclear stand Venezuela recently took with regard
to international property rights at the WTO meeting in Cancun, the
president promised to clarify Venezuela's position, saying that "it's
not the first time that there are contradictions within the government
on an issue. While Venezuela's Minister of Commerce and Production
took a strong position on the issue of eliminating agricultural
subsidies for first world countries, along with other third world
countries, organized in the "Group of 21", Venezuela almost signed an
agreement which would have limited the use of generic medications to
only three diseases, AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. This would have
gone directly against the policy of Venezuela's office on intellectual
property rights (SAPI), which maintains that public health must take
precedence over the profits of transnational pharmaceutical companies.

Venezuela would not recognize the Iraqi representative to OPEC

Referring to the upcoming OPEC meeting, Chavez announced that his
government would not recognize the Iraqi representative as an official
representative because "unfortunately there is no government in
Baghdad, it is anarchy, with constant destabilization." "They have not
been able to restart their production anyway," added the president.
Rather, there would be informal talks at the next OPEC meeting on
September 24 with an observer from the occupation forces in Iraq.

Finally, Chavez said that relations between Venezuela and Colombia are
very complicated because there are people who are interested in
sabotaging this relationship. He reiterated that his government is not
providing any kind of support to the Colombian guerilla movements,
despite what the opposition claims. Rather, Venezuela's position with
regard to the conflict in Colombia is one of neutrality, of neither
opposing nor supporting the guerilla movement. "We don't want to
support the path of war in Colombia, we want to support the path of
peace,' added Chavez.

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