Venezuela: beyond the corporate Thing
by toni solo, December 01, 2007
Over the last week or so Western Bloc corporate media wrapped their clammy, information-choking tendrils mostly around the latest fake Middle East peace talks, continuing grief for the corporate financial sector and assorted disorders for Nicolas Sarkozy in France and Gordon Brown over there at No. 10 Gin Lane. Next week, one of the big corporate news efforts will be to suffocate the electoral victory supporters of President Chavez are likely to win on December 2nd for the Venezuelan government’s proposed constitutional reforms. To realise what is at stake one needs to check out a few headlines the Western Bloc corporate Thing will never release from its media maw.
The following have appeared in Latin American and other news sites over the last several weeks. They give a very different perspective on the Venezuelan government from the one generally marketed in the hopelessly biased mainstream corporate media.
“Mission Miracle cares for more than 1000 from Peru” (Prensa MinCI, Aporrea.org, 25/11/07 ) “The solidarity programme the Bolvarian Republic of Venezuela is carrying out in different parts of the Americas, known as Mission Miracle has also been happening in Peru where more than 1000 people have benefited since assistance to the Peruvian people began in 2006.”
“Venezuelan shipment of 16,000 barrels of gas/diesel averts Guyana fuel crisis”, (Stabroek News of Guyana, VHeadline.com, 21/11/2007) The Venezuelan embassy in Guyana noted, “With this delivery of fuel, Venezuela ratifies its politics of cooperation and solidarity to guarantee direct benefits for the people of Guyana and the other Caribbean countries. Likewise, it shows its disposition to work for the economic and social integration of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean.”
“Honduras will import Venezuelan fuel on preferential terms”, (Prensa Latina, Rebelion.org, 26-11-2007 ) “Honduras will import Venezuelan fuels on preferential terms allowing a better use of financial resources for social policies, Presidency Minister Yani Rosenthal reported today. She announced that the authorities of the PETROCARIBE company will be contacted tomorrow to speed up talks. The purchase of these fuels, she said, will be for two years in the amount of US$750 million with half of that amount paid via a credit line extended by the government of Hugo Chavez. Rosenthal stressed the benefits of PETROCARIBE as a development initiative aimed at helping countries like Honduras in a vulnerable financial situation get access to fuels on preferential terms. The official emphasised this will contribute to a more efficient use of cash resources for mainly socially-oriented activities and will help relieve the impact of the high price of crude oil in the world market.”
“Venezuela donates US$16 million for massive purchase of rice and beans”, (La Gente, RadioPrimerisima.com, 23/11/2007) “Venezuela donated the funds to alleviate the effects of Hurricane Felix and heavy rains lasting two weeks which affected farming. Roger Romero, Director of the National Food Supply company told AFP, “Part of these funds are being used to cope with the rising price spiral in basic foods…..We are working on a campaign to supply direct to the population via the creation of solidarity-based fair trade networks that will work temporarily until the market stabilizes” Romero added.”
In his “Brief comments on Venezuela’s 2007 Q3 macro-economic results” (Rebelion.org, 24/11/2007) economics professor Alexis Mujica MartÃnez reviews Venezuela’s economic performance. The facts he cites are notably absent from almost all mainstream corporate reporting on Venezuela outside the specialist press – for good reason. Mujica Martinez points out that Venezuela has had unprecedented growth averaging over 12% for 16 consecutive quarters, among the highest in the world.
Mujica Martinez reckons some current shortages can be explained by the 3% gap between aggregate demand (growing over 18% so far in 2007) and aggregate supply (growing at 15%). Corporate media reports stress shortages in supermarkets without noting deliberate attempts by opposition business federation FEDECAMERAS members to deliberately cause those shortages, just as price-gouging anti-government business people have done in Nicaragua (hence the need for Venezuelan support). Nor do critics note the incovenient fact that some shortages seem to be caused by rising living standards with greater numbers of Venezuelans consuming more.
Mujica Martinez points out how anti-government commentators fail to report that capital investment in Venezuela has increased over 17% this year. Private sector industrial manufactuing increased 8% with the private sector in general contributing over 60% of gross domestic product. As Mujica Martinez notes, this is the country anti-Chavez media around the world accuse of strangling private enterprise.
“Venezuela will provide a third of the oil Portugal needs” (TeleSUR, Aporrea.org 20/11/07 ) “”Venezuela and Portugal will become strategic partners with the signing of an energy policy agreement which will allow the South American country to supply a third of the Portugal’s oil needs, during a visit this Tuesday by the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.”” Venezuela’s ambassador in Lisbon made the announcement concerning the upcoming signing of the agreement in question and also indicated that a Memorandum of Understanding exists between Portugal’s GALP oil company and Venezuela’s PdVSA oil company. The agreement will make possible “the supply of a third of Portugal’s oil needs while Galp will carry out exploration and subsequent exploitation in the Orinoco Oil Belt.”
With oil prices now almost touching US$100 the barrel, commentator Hedelberto LÃ³pez Blanch notes in “The Caribbean and the ALBA lifeline” (Rebelion.org, 20-11-2007) , ” On April 29th in 2007 the 5th ALBA Summit took place in Barquisimeto on the first anniversary of the Peoples’ Trade Treaty. Member countries Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua participated along with invited observers like Haiti, Ecuador, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Uruguay to assess ALBA’s first strategic plan and work on cooperation and integration evolved during 2006.
The meeting also agreed to reinforce the creation of businesses, strategies and Supra-National programmes with all countries in education, healthcare, energy, communications, transport, housing, highways, food supply, mining and others to help diminish aggressive action by multinational companies and international financial organizations to the detriment of the majority of the population.
Thus, 18 programmes are in progress covering food supply, medicine production, metal-mechanical production, telecommunications, tourism, various manufactures and iron mining in Bolivia, as well as setting up gasification plants in Bolivia and Cuba. For its part PETROCARIBE, set up in 2005, permits the supply of crude oil and its derivatives from Venezuela to Caribbean countries via mixed (State-private) distribution companies.”
“ECLAC report states poverty in Venezuela fell to 18.4%” (Vive TV, Aporrea.org, 19/11/07) “The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean released in Santiago, Chile the report “Latin America Social Panorama 2007″ in which it confirms the progress of social and economic policies of the Bolivarian government of President Hugo Chavez Frias. According to the report levels of poverty in Venezuela fell to 18.4% while the number of people living in extreme poverty fell 12.3%.”
In “The Chavez Bank” (Sin permiso, Rebelion.org, 16-11-2007) Javier Diez Canseco notes, “That’s the name the US government and press and various Peruvian communications media defending neoliberal policies have given the Bank of the South which should formally be set up on December 5th…..The Bank of the South is a Development Bank, giving credit for regional development and integration projects for countries in South America. It is an initiative proposed by Hugo Chavez almost a year ago which has become a reality with the participation of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela ….even the Colombian government of the same Uribe who is a trusted partner of the US made known its interest a couple of weeks ago.”
“Guatemalan President elect will visit Venezuela to sign oil agreements” (Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias, Aporrea.org, 11/11/07) “Recently elected President of Guatemala, Alvaro Colom, will visit Caracas on December 11th and 12th to sign a series of agreements between that country and Venezuela, reported President Hugo Chavez Frias. The Venezuelan President added that Guatemala’s possible incorporation into the PETROCARIBE oil cooperation initiative may also be expected.”
“Venezuela, Syria and Iran to sign agreement to construct 140,000 bpd refinery” (Xinhuanet, VHeadline.com, 29/10/ 2007) “China’s Xinhua: Syria, Iran and Venezuela are to sign a partnership agreement tomorrow, Tuesday, to construct a crude oil refinery near the midland city of Homs, with a capacity of 140,000 barrels per day the official SANA news agency reported.
The signing of the agreement would be followed by establishing a joint company for carrying out studies and implementing the project, said the report. In addition to the three countries, the Malaysian al-Bukhari Group will participate in the construction of the refinery, it added.”
As Alberto Cruz has reported in “Venezuela’s bad example” (Ceprid, ZNet, 27/11/2007) “Venezuela launched an internal campaign within OPEC to democratize the Development and Cooperation Fund (worth US$40bn) and to see that the fund did not depend exclusively on Saudi Arabia, which consistently put the management of that fund in the hands of US and European businesses. Venezuela won that battle, so now not only US and European firms manage the fund, but the OPEC countries themselves and other non-Western bloc companies from outside the oil cartel.”
And “….without Petrocaribe, the 16 member countries – impoverished, lacking infrastructure and dependent on international aid – would today, with the exception of Cuba and Venezuela, face a tragic, dead-end outlook with astronomical prices for oil and its derivatives, along with increased world food prices as a result of production geared to bio-fuels. The extent of the savings on these countries’ oil bills is already around US$450 million since they freed themselves from oil market intermediaries and speculators.”
And “With barter (oil for Cuban doctors, for Argentine meat and ships, for Uruguayan milk and cheese etc.), Venezuela has started a direct exchange of goods that breaks World Trade Organization norms and hands weaker countries a bigger role when it comes to selling their produce and raw materials.”
In his article “The murder of a Chavez supporter in Venezuela : what happened and what El Mundo reported” (Rebelion.org, 28-11-2007) Pascual Serrano nailed the corporate zombie-media modus operandi in his analysis of reporting on recent violent opposition demonstrations in Caracas. While his detailed breakdown of the incident in which anti-Chavez rioters murdered Jose Oliveros Yepez catches out El Mundo’s editors specifically, the same unethical behaviour can be found consistently in Western corporate media reporting of events in Venezuela. The opposition are constantly given the benefit of the doubt. The Chavez government and their supporters are consistently vilified.
“In 31 countries: Cuba reaches the million mark of impoverished people given free eye operations” (AP, Rebelion.org, 29-11-2007) Almost a million people from 31 impoverished countries recovered their sight after being surgically operatted on by Cuban doctors under the auspices of Operation Miracle, a cooperation programme led by Cuba and Venezuela.” (Worth noting the absence of this clear and factual AP wire service report from output of the major corporate news outlets.)
The reason people in Western Bloc countries are seldom if ever able to read this kind of information in their corporate mainstream media is because those media clearly and deliberately serve the interests of corporate capitalism and support the here-today-gone-tomorrow political factotums in the promotion and defence of that destructive, unsustainable anti-humanitarian system against those who resist it. The continuing corporate media onslaught on the government of President Chavez will most likely intensify over the weekend and for most of next week.
They will do their usual thing-from-the-crypt-as-reporter, shlock-horror charade. That Venezuela is in economic crisis when its economy is in better shape than almost any of its South American neighbours. That Venezuela threatens regional stability when Venezuela’s foreign policy ensures weaker more vulnerable economies are better able than ever to resist the chaos resulting from insatiably greedy “free market” corporate monopoly capitalism. That Chavez is aiming for dictatorship in proposing indefinite re-election as enjoyed by Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, John Howard, and other neoliberal mascots of the global corporate Thing. It slithers unendingly down and around the world’s phone and dinner networks via company boardrooms, government offices and editorial conference tables.
The reporting it regurgitates is an integral part of the relentless campaign of intervention throughout Latin America by Western Bloc powers desperate to maintain their centuries-old stranglehold on the continent’s natural resources. Around the world, peoples suffering under corporate capitalism’s inhumanity hope the Chavez government will win the December 2nd vote. In the aftermath, the Venezuelan authorities will need to be more alert than ever to defeat aggressive efforts by Western Bloc governments to deny the Venezuelan people their fundamental right to self-determination.
toni solo is based in Central America – articles are archived at toni.tortillaconsal.com.