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(en) Venezuela, Alt. Media: Macho Men and State Capitalism - Is Another World Possible?

Date Mon, 24 Apr 2006 10:32:25 +0300

* Latin America is boiling with revolutionary potential these days that
could redefine economics, politics and social relations. But sometimos
things aren't always as they seem. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is
widely seen to be at the center of Latin America's transformation by
building a regional trade bloc through the creation of ALBA and
Venezuela's membership in Mercosur to oppose U.S. dominance and its
constant push for free trade agreements with Latin American governments.

Chavez is drumming up support in a rhetoric that seeks to reminisce of
those days of glory when Simon Bolivar intended to unite Latin America.
Chavez' Boliviarian revolution suddenly seems the only viable option,
not only among the non-elite in Latin America but also gathering support
among once disillusioned leftists worldwide.

However, the true democratic debate has been silenced in this simplified
two-sided fight between the projects of macho men. While Chavistas and
anti-Chavistas tirelessly battle and Venezuelan families are divided,
little space seems to be left for alternatives and critiques of the
supposed Chavista revolution, without being labeled anti-revolutionary.
While the anti-imperial and anti-capitalist discourse of Chavez attracts
supporters worldwide, including even such world famous writers as Noam
Chomsky and Eduardo Galeano, Chavez is busy making direct business
contracts with oil giants such as Petrobras, ChevronTexaco, BP,
ExxonMobil, and Shell. As Chavez claims to represent the indigenous
population of his country, many questions remain about these
mega-corporate ventures, as indigenous voices from over all over the
continent speak of the effects of these oil empires, that is, if anyone
wants to listen. Where are the dissident feminist, environmental, and
indigenous voices to create a real revolution?

As activists from the American continent prepare to gather in January
2006 for a showdown at the World Social Forum, the question that should
arise after learning about Chavez mega oil projects is, is another World
possible? And the answer should be - not with oil.

Chavez has teamed up with Brazil's now scandalous Lula to create the
world's largest oil corporation PetroAmerica, the combination of the two
state owned companies PetroVenezuela (Pdvsa) and Petrobras. While Chavez
is sending cheap oil to poor Latino immigrants on U.S. soil, he ignores
the lives of indigenous people at home and his ventures, if continued,
will lead to their eventual extinction.

In Ecuador, Petrobras is infamous for entering the Yasuni national park
to exploit for oil, which is the ancestral territory of the Huaoranis, a
Pleistocene refuge, and a UNESCO Biosphere reserve since 1989. Yasuni
has among the most species of trees in the world. In one hectare there
are as many trees and shrub species as native trees in all of North
America. And in addition, to being home to the Huaorani indigenous
peoples, it is home to the Tagaeri and Taromenane who live in voluntary

The Council of the Huaorani nations of the Ecuadorian Amazon, ONHAE, has
decided to break their previous contract with Petrobras. Petrobras only
negotiated with former leaders of ONHAE who did not consult their
communities. In the previous negotiations, Petrobras promised to finance
a small aircraft company, health, and infrastructure projects in the
community. But according to local residents, nothing has been done.

In July 2005, the Huaorani women formed their own organization, AMWAE,
which similarly to the famous women of the Sarayacu community, opposes
oil exploitation. These women tirelessly resist since they know the
environmental and social ills of years of oil exploitation in the Amazon
region, which includes cancer, hepatitis B, prostitution, alcoholism,
and the extinction of species and therefor, indigenous cultures such as
the Tetetes. In Venezuela, the indigenous peoples of the Orinoco river
valley are similarly threatened by oil and natural gas exploitation.

Revolutionary romantics will often cite the supposed threats to the
Boliviarian revolution as the opposition of the empire (United States)
while ignoring the contradictory business contracts between Chavez and
multinational corporations which stem from the belly of the beast
itself. Stern ideological supporters of Chavez' and Lula's state
capitalist ventures such as ALBA, or the Boliviarian alternative to the
U.S. free trade agreement, ALCA (FTAA in English), should keep in mind
that in September 2000 Chavez signed (with the eleven other South
American governments) the Integration of Regional South American
Infrastructure (IIRSA), long before he revealed the plans of ALBA. This
little-known, yet massive infrastructure project, will, like Plan Puebla
Panama in Central America create "development corridors". These
"development corridors" will serve the interests of the destructive oil,
gas, and mining industries by creating superhighways, hydroelectric
dams, and gas and oil pipelines, along with military bases to facilitate
exploitation, across the entire South American continent to facilitate
successful exploitation.

While part of the U.S. free trade agenda, IIRSA is rarely mentioned in
the media and has been planned from above. IIRSA is funded by State and
private investments, alongside multilateral and national "development"
banks, such as IDB, CAF y FONPLATA, which have willingly loaned the
money to governments in order to further indebt the already indebted
South American population. IIRSA is based on a purely capitalistic
worldview, which premieres the commodification of nature and humans, and
distinguishes any possibility for collective rights. Following an IIRSA
meeting in June 2003 in Venezuela, Chavez explained the purpose of its
projects in his own TV program "Alo Presidente" number 155, as "the
promotion of productive commercial models that guarantee sustained
growth and sustained growth and sustainability for the whole region."
But Chavez also announced in that same program the creation of
PetroAmerica, which like other massive oil projects in South America
will likely cause massive environmental destruction and human suffering.

As part of IIRSA, Chavez has also announced the expansion of coal
exploitation in the Venezuelan state of Zulia, which is also home to the
indigenous people of Bari, Yukpa, and Wayuu who have resisted oil and
coal exploitation for years. The Sierra de Perijas, is also a nacional
park, Increased coal production will be topped of with the construction
of the mega sea-port Puerto America with funding from the World Bank, to
facilitate the exportation of coal and oil to be built on top of three
islands which include Los Olivitos, a nature bird preserve, whose
inhabitants disapprove with the plans and say no one asked for their
opinions of this project. On March 31 of 2004, thousands of Bari, Yucpa,
Wayuu along with university students and adults from Maracaibo marched
in resistance of gas exploitation and called for the recognition of
indigenous lands. The protesters lamentably never got to meet with
President Chavez as he was busy attending to a visit by and
ex-footballer Maradona.

Chavez has also welcomed oil giant ChevronTexaco to exploit gas and oil
in Venezuela. ChevronTexaco does business in 180 out of 200 countries in
the world and while it is the 5ht largest company in the world, it Lodz
1st place in the extermination of communities, environmental
destruction, and human rights violations. During the ceremony which
granted ChevronTexaco this right, Chavez cheerfully stated: "Welcome to
Paraguana, misters (in English)." "Somos buenos amigos, buenos socios y
buenos aliados de muchas empresas estadounidenses que trabajan con
nosotros y cada dia estamos mas alineados en el trabajo" ("We are good
friends, good partners, and good allies of many U.S. companies who work
with us and every day we are more aligned in our work.")

ChevronTexaco’s recent endeavours to extend its empire in Venezuela
include a 3,800 million dollar investment in the Hamaca project, an oil
field in the Orinoco river basin together with Pdvsa and Phillips
Petroleum Company. Initially, the project will create 6000 new jobs but
upon the completion of construction of the project, it will only need
700 permanent employers. With massive gains for multinacional
corporations such as ChevronTexaco, 700 jobs will not help counter the
environmental destruction that big oil projects inherently cause.

Furthermore, ChevronTexaco's own website proudly proclaims it has built
11 schools in Venezuela where 4500 students now receive an education of
"better quality". Is this perhaps also part of the Boliviarian
revolution? As Ali Moshiri, the Latin American representative of
ChevronTexaco informed the news agency Reuters on April 18 2005, Chavez'
revolution is not a threat to the company: "La politica esta separada de
los negocios en Venezuela. Las oportunidades son tales que estamos
trabajando en encontrar y asegurar nuevos negocios." (In Venezuela
politics is separated from business. There are such opportunities that
we are working to find and secure new business.")

ChevronTexaco has a history of exploitation of coal and subsequent
contamination in Venezuela. In the words of Ces=E1reo Panapaera, a
community leader of 32 Yucpa communities in the mountain region of
Tokuko, Venezuela: "Acaban con la cultura de la siembra, van a acabar
con el agua y terminaran acabando con la vida" ("They are destroying our
farming practices, they are going to destroy our water, and they Hill
end up destroying our lives"). According to Panapaera, the coal
exploitation has destroyed rivers, contaminated waters and air and has
displaced many farmers and indigenous people from their lands and
endangers the lives of his people: "Here are our bows and arrows, and we
will use them against the miners if they come to our lands. And if we
have to die fighting for our lands, we will die."

In Ecuador, ChevronTexaco is fighting a class-actions suit filed by
30,000 Ecuadorian farmers and indigenous people who argue that the
company's practice of dumping toxic waste from its oil operations has
caused irreversible harm to the environment and widespread health
problems among local residents. The plaintiffs in the case have endured
and continue to suffer the fatal consequences of oil exploitation.
Chavez' big oil projects could very well mean extinction and death to
the people of the Amazon region. It could also destroy a place that is
that Amazon, home to 1/5 of the world's fresh water reserves, one third
of the world's biodiversity, and 2/5 of global forests.

While nationalization of resources to some may seem an attractive
alternative to the pounding progress of privatizing forces, we have to
remember that states have never sided with those most oppressed, just
ask the indigenous peoples of the world. Another world is not posible
without the knowledge of indigenous cultures that have lived sustainably
within the mega biodiversity that is the Amazon rainforest. We need to
support these movements while allowing them to decide their own destiny.
We must struggle to ensure that they can continue to live their lives as
they wish. These are the reasons for why activists have planned to
organize an Alternative World Social Forum in Caracas, as a space of
open debate to support a more critical and diversified discussion to
generate truly sustainable alternatives to capitalism.

- "Chevron, mano derecha del imperio". Oilwatch. 2005.
- "Chevron Toxico". Amazon Watch. http://www.chevrontoxico.com
- FOBOMADE, "Bolivia, pais clave para la explotacion del cono sur
DelALCA a los planes del IIRSA"
- Foro Social Alternativo al Foro Social Mundial Caracas.
- Guerrero, Christian. "What's so Revolutionary about Venezuelan coal?"
June 26, 2005. http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=3D39170
- "La Infraestructura del ALCA", Zula Buenos Aires. Miami Indymedia.
March 3, 2004. http://ftaaimc.org/or/2004/02/3788.shtml
- Marquez, Humberto. "Venezuela's indigenous peoples protest coal
mining." Socialist Unity Network. April 4, 2005.
- "Oil Exploitation in the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve". Oilwatch July 2005.
- "Petroleras Chevron y Gazprom obtienen licencias para explotar gas".
October 24, 2005. Aporrea.org.
- Portillo, Lusbi. "Uribe y Chavez: Proconsules del imperio?" April 8,
2004. http://www.soberania.org/Articulos/articulo_1299.htm
- Uzcategui, Rafael. "Los negocios de ChevronTexaco con la llamada
'revolucion'" El Libertario. June 8, 2004.
- World Rain Forest Movement - bulletin # 96, July 2005.

[More info about Venezuela, see the English section in the anarchist El Libertario’
website: www.nodo50.org/ellibertario <http://www.nodo50.org/ellibertario>]
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