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article imageReview: Greg Palast's video on Chavez and the coup attempt

By Ken Hanly     Mar 10, 2013 in Politics
New York - Back on April 11, 2002, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was kidnapped at gunpoint and then flown to an island prison in the Caribbean.
The next day Pedro Carmona president of Venezuela's Chamber of Commerce and a business partner of US oil companies declared himself President of Venezuela. Charles Shapiro, US ambassador to Venezuela at the time, immediately went from the US embassy to have his picture taken with the new president. Along with the ambassador were banking and oil industry chiefs who had an inaugural party. The coup was endorsed by the New York Times. The US has insisted contrary to Chavez that the US had no part in the coup. The appended video by Greg Palast discusses the coup and interviews both Chavez and even Carmona.
Gregory Palast was born in 1952 and is a best-selling author, a freelance journalist for the BBC as well as the UK newspaper the Observer. He is the author of "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" and the "Armed Madhouse". This article uses some material from the latter book. The appended video "The Assassination of Hugo Chavez" is about the attempted coup and threats to assassinate Chavez. It does not deal with the issue of whether he might somehow have been given cancer by foreign agents out to get him in some sort of conspiracy. There is an audio tape of an interview in which Palast discusses Chavez' achievements and the effects of his death.
At the time of the coup attempt, George Bush admitted that Chavez had been democratically elected but then added: "Legitimacy is something that is conferred not by just the majority of voters." The lack of legitimacy of Chavez might have been caused at least in part by the fact that in 2001 just after Bush was inaugurated Chavez passed a new "Law of Hydrocarbons".
The new law would allow foreign oil companies such as Exxon, BP, Shell, and Chevron to keep only 70% of their revenue. Formerly, they got to keep 84%. But even worse royalties had been 1% and were now increased to 16.6%. Obviously Chavez was not a legitimate president.
The coup did not last. The presidential palace was ringed by Chavez supporters but inside Chavez had planted commandos in secret passages of the Presidential Palace as he had expected a coup attempt. Within 48 hours the coup was over and the kidnappers had returned Chavez to the presidential palace. There was no bloodshed. The New York Times actually apologized for supporting the coup.
Venezuela had all sorts of unused land held by a small elite of large landowners, land that lay fallow. In 2001 Chavez passed a law requiring that untilled land must be sold to those without land. This had long been promised by Venezuelan politicians and its passage had been urged by none other than John F. Kennedy as part the Alliance for Progress.
Palast notes that the US evangelist Pat Robertson suggested that Chavez should be assassinated. On August 26, 2005 Robertson told his faithful flock watching on TV: "Hugo Chávez thinks we're trying to assassinate him. I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it." Robertson continued with an astute cost-benefit analysis of assassination as contrasted with going to war: "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war, and I don't think any oil shipments will stop. This is a dangerous enemy to our South controlling a huge pool of oil that could hurt us very badly ... 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."
This is just a small sample of Palast's discussion. In his audio tape, Palast discusses some of the problems that the Chavist movement face following the death of Chavez. He notes for example that Chavez chose competent but also quite incompetent people to be in charge in various areas. He admits that the things are run in a very disorganised fashion. On the other hand he points out that the economy is growing at around 5% a present. As he says there would be cheering if the US reached that growth rate. An earlier report in Digital Journal deals also with problems facing Chavism in the future because of splits within the movement.
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