Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Iran and Venezuela Plot Villainy

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

Venezuela and Iran are up to no good. They recently signed a deal to cooperate on an industrial modernization deal. The first factory resulting from that deal was officially inaugurated yesterday in Central Venezuela. What will these evildoers be producing there?

Cars and tractors.

Venezuela, long dependent on US imports, wants to broaden its industrial base and expand its market with non-aligned nations.

In a related story, President Hugo Chavez, after a long and open campaign season, is expected to be re-elected as President of Venezuela this Sunday. His opponent, Manuel Rosales, has been gaining ground in political opinion polls. According to reports, several hundred thousand supporters rallied for his election last saturday. But "hundreds of thousands" turned out the very next day to support Chavez, who holds a 30 point lead in opinion polls. That could be because Chavez is a "hero" to the Venezuelan poor, who still constitute a majority of the population, and who vote. Chavez has done more in the last six years to protect the Venezuelan poor from the ravages of global, un-regulated, laissez faire "free-market" capitalism than any Venezuelan leader in the last two and a half centuries. That's why the Venezuelan right -- and the Bush administration -- hates him. Chavez puts it this way:
I am a socialist...and I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, who was the first socialist, just as Judas was the first capitalist.

Yes. That's going to make you some friends in Texas.

Meanwhile the Cato Institute has just released a "policy analysis" that accuses the Chavez government of "Corruption, Mismanagement, and Abuse of Power." So far, only similar far right outlets have picked it up (Standard Newswire, NewsMax, and the Hawaii Reporter). But it is still early. The analysis was written by Gustavo Coronel, a 28 year oil industry veteran, and former member of PDVSA, Petroleos de Venezuela.

I leave it to you to read the entire policy analysis for yourself, but I can make some general observations.

Chavez and Coronel define "corruption" differently. In 1999, Venezuelan Vice President (then Interior Minister) Jose Vicente Rangel described the corruption that the new Chavez government sought to undo: the type of corruption that saw much of Venezuela's oil going to the United States while virtually none of it went to other Latin American countries; the type that saw oil revenues going to multinational corporations while schools and hospitals lached essential resources; the type that saw $100 billion go to multinational contractors overseas for two decades for domestic public works; in other words, the essential corruption of global, un-regulated, l;aissez faire, "free-market" capitalism. Coronel describes corruption as keeping what are fundamentally Venezuelan jobs within Venezuela, even at the risk of closing those jobs to external, independent contractors.

Coronel defines "mismanagement" from within a fairly biased perspective. From my reading of this "policy analysis," he takes the point of view that oil revenues that go back to the people through social programs are essentially "wasted" and therefore constitute evidence of "mismanagement."

But read it for yourself.

We report. You decide.

No comments: