Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Chavez Throws The Dice

It's a very dangerous move. This is what got him into trouble in 2001. It's also necessary, and it's long overdue. Still, it takes incredible courage to do something like this: Venezuela pushes ahead with land redistribution.
Tuesday saw the government of Venezuela finally begin to implement its programme of expropriating land from the country's major landowners. To begin with, more than 100,000 hectares will be handed over to landless farmers.
The last time President Hugo Chavez moved in this direction, there was trouble.
The measure marks the first practical step in putting the land reform law of 2001 into effect. It was the introduction of this legislation that was one of the main factors behind the mass protests against President Chávez which led shortly afterwards to a lengthy national strike and a short-lived coup against the head of state.
One of the main factors? How many main factors were there? Two. What was the other main factor? The USA.

Oops! That was supposed to be a secret. But it was one of the worst-kept secrets of the decade. Oh well. It's been a worst-kept secret for a century. And it's not as if his own people were against him. They had another election to prove that!
Having won last year's referendum on whether or not he should stay on as president, Mr Chávez now feels strengthened in pushing ahead with the reform
Nothing stands more powerfully in the way of this much-needed reform than the USA -- a country whose current leadership claims to be spreading democracy to the world! But this claim is a lie and it has always been a lie -- the USA has always been a vicious opponent of democracy everywhere in the world, especially in the Western Hemisphere.
There is a tradition of land reform being a key item on the agenda of most left-wing governments in Latin America, where the existence of millions of landless farmers stands in sharp contrast with the existence of huge ranches and estates, many of them with vast tracts of land which are not put to any use at all.
Right. And there is a tradition of sending in the Marines whenever anybody tries to do anything about it. It's an ugly picture -- the vast majority of the people are struggling to grow a handful of rice and beans in the mountains. All the good fertile land is owned by foreigners -- and most of it is not even used. Why does it stay that way? Because the USA likes it that way. But when I say "the USA", please understand that I am not talking about "the people" of the country. Most of them neither know nor care who owns the farmland in foreign countries. It's the "leaders" of the USA who like this; and they will do anything in their power to keep it that way.

There is nothing new about this. It's been going on for a long time. Look at what happened to Guatemala in 1954. A land-reform government [which had come to power during World War II and thereby snuck in "under the radar"] started getting serious about putting the best land back in the hands of "the people" and got overthrown by a CIA-"sponsored" coup. Much of the Guatemalan Army grabbed their weapons and headed for the hills, setting the stage for a "low-intensity", clandestine, undeclared civil war which has raged for decades and torn the country to shreds.

Who owned the land the Guatemalans were trying to "redistribute"? Much of it was owned by the United Fruit Company, the "Chiquita Banana" people. Who owned United Fruit? One large shareholder was John Foster Dulles. What did he do for a day job? Nothing much. He was only the Secretary of State. Did he have any influential family members? Well, his brother Allen was running the CIA. And who staged the attack on Guatemala? Sorry, was that supposed to be a secret, too?

Let's see now ... wasn't Allen Dulles also on the Warren Commission? Yes, that's right, he was one of the commissioners who "investigated" the death of President Kennedy. And was Allen Dulles still running the CIA at that point? No, he had been relieved of his position by the President. So... Why was Allen Dulles chosen to investigate the death of the man who had fired him? Good question!

Next question: Does Condoleeza Rice own any primo Venezuelan farmland?