President Hugo Chàvez shows reporter Greg Palast the sword of Simón Bolivar, seen in portrait in background, Miraflores Palace, Caracas, 2006. Photo: Richard Rowley

By Greg Palast
5 March 2013

(GregPalast.com) – For BBC Television, Palast met several times with Hugo Chàvez, who passed away today.

As a purgative for the crappola fed to Americans about Chàvez, my foundation, The Palast Investigative Fund, is offering the film, The Assassination of Hugo Chavez, as a FREE download. Based on my several meetings with Chàvez, his kidnappers and his would-be assassins, filmed for BBC Television. DVDs also available.

Media may contact Palast at interviews (at) gregpalast.com.

Venezuelan President Chàvez once asked me why the US elite wanted to kill him. My dear Hugo: It's the oil. And it's the Koch Brothers – and it's the ketchup.

Reverend Pat Robertson said,

"Hugo Chàvez thinks we're trying to assassinate him. I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."

It was 2005 and Robertson was channeling the frustration of George Bush's State Department.

Despite Bush's providing intelligence, funds and even a note of congratulations to the crew who kidnapped Chàvez (we'll get there), Hugo remained in office, reelected and wildly popular.

But why the Bush regime's hate, hate, HATE of the President of Venezuela?

Reverend Pat wasn't coy about the answer: It's the oil.

"This is a dangerous enemy to our South controlling a huge pool of oil."

A really BIG pool of oil. Indeed, according to Guy Caruso, former chief of oil intelligence for the CIA, Venezuela hold a recoverable reserve of 1.36 trillion barrels, that is, a whole lot more than Saudi Arabia.

If we didn't kill Chàvez, we'd have to do an "Iraq" on his nation. So the Reverend suggests,

"We don't need another $200 billion war. … It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

Chàvez himself told me he was stunned by Bush's attacks: Chàvez had been quite chummy with Bush Senior and with Bill Clinton.

So what made Chàvez suddenly "a dangerous enemy"? Here's the answer you won't find in The New York Times:

Just after Bush's inauguration in 2001, Chàvez' congress voted in a new "Law of Hydrocarbons." Henceforth, Exxon, British Petroleum, Shell Oil and Chevron would get to keep 70% of the sales revenues from the crude they sucked out of Venezuela. Not bad, considering the price of oil was rising toward $100 a barrel.

But to the oil companies, which had bitch-slapped Venezeula's prior government into giving them 84% of the sales price, a cut to 70% was "no bueno." Worse, Venezuela had been charging a joke of a royalty – just one percent – on "heavy" crude from the Orinoco Basin. Chàvez told Exxon and friends they'd now have to pay 16.6%.

Clearly, Chàvez had to be taught a lesson about the etiquette of dealings with Big Oil.

On 11 April 2002, President Chàvez was kidnapped at gunpoint and flown to an island prison in the Caribbean Sea. On April 12, Pedro Carmona, a business partner of the US oil companies and president of the nation's Chamber of Commerce, declared himself President of Venezuela – giving a whole new meaning to the term, "corporate takeover."

U.S. Ambassador Charles Shapiro immediately rushed down from his hilltop embassy to have his picture taken grinning with the self-proclaimed "President" and the leaders of the coup d'état.

Bush's White House spokesman admitted that Chàvez was, "democratically elected," but, he added, "Legitimacy is something that is conferred not by just the majority of voters." I see.

With an armed and angry citizenry marching on the Presidential Palace in Caracas ready to string up the coup plotters, Carmona, the Pretend President from Exxon returned his captive Chàvez back to his desk within 48 hours. (How? Get The Assassination of Hugo Chavez, the film, expanding on my reports for BBC Television. You can download it for free for the next few days.)

Chàvez had provoked the coup not just by clawing back some of the bloated royalties of the oil companies. It's what he did with that oil money that drove Venezuela's One Percent to violence. [more]

Vaya con Dios, Hugo Chàvez, mi Amigo

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