Recent events in the South American country of Venezuela are disturbing, or at least they should be to all clear thinking people.
While the Venezuelan regime of strong-man Hugo Chavéz is systematically acquiring absolute power by nationalizing that country’s industries and resources, and silencing their free media outlets, Chavéz himself is forging relationships with totalitarian dictators who routinely call for the demise of the United States. To dismiss this tin-pot dictator as a clown in a post 9/11 world could be a fatal mistake.
The sometimes violent protests fomenting in the streets of Caracas by outraged students, intellectuals and free thinkers come in the wake of the Chavéz regime’s closing of a popular opposition television station critical of Chavéz’s government. Radio Caracas Television was replaced with state-run programming as the Venezuelan ministry overseeing media licensing moved to clamp down on CNN and the last opposition owned media outlet in Venezuela, Globovision.
Chavéz’s attack on the free press in Venezuela is but the most recent encroachment on the free market in that country.
In May, Chavéz nationalized the last privately owned oil fields in the Orinoco River basin. While the seizure affected US oil companies in ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., Britain’s BP PLC, France’s Total SA and Norway’s Statoil ASA were also compromised.
On May 3rd, Chavéz gave a speech in which he forecasted the nationalization of the country’s banks and its largest steel producing company. In an indication that he had no plans of throttling-down his advance toward a pure Socialistic state, Chavéz said, “Private banks have to give priority to financing the industrial sectors of Venezuela at low cost...If banks don’t agree with this, it’s better that they go, that they turn over the banks to me, that we nationalize them and get all the banks to work for the development of the country and not to speculate and produce huge profits.”
Chavéz left the world wondering whether this confiscation of private financial institutions – which would include all the assets held within – would include foreign banks.
Earlier this year Chavéz moved to nationalize the utility and telecommunications industries of Venezuela. “All of that which was privatized, let it be nationalized,” Chavéz said. “The nation should recover its ownership of strategic sectors.”
It would seem that Hugo Chavéz is the star pupil in Fidel Castro’s tutelage, having learned how to absorb already developed resources, industries built from the ground up and financial investments that literally constructed the infrastructure which his totalitarian crusade now calls “the people’s.”
All of this would almost certainly be just another thorn in the side of free nations everywhere if it weren’t for Chavéz’s consistent anti-American rhetoric and the alliances he is forging around the world.
Chavéz has allied himself with fellow South American Socialists, or Progressives, Rafael Correra of Ecuador, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Nicanor Duarte Frutos of Paraguay and has formed a personal relationship with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
One of the reasons these relationships are so disturbing is that intelligence sources, police organizations and former militia members report that Hezbollah has set up operations within the rural regions known as South America’s Tri-Border Area. This area is located between Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, and borders Venezuela and Bolivia. All of these countries face the common enterprise of narco-terrorism.
Many terrorist organizations – among them the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) – facilitate the trafficking of narcotics and the laundering of money derived from that enterprise. Hezbollah, the Iranian created and supported terror organization that until 9/11 had killed more Americans than any other terrorist organization, derives funding from these illicit activities as well. These funds are, in turn, used to wage war against US and Coalition Forces in the Middle East and for clandestine training of future terrorist operatives in their jihad against the West.
It should be pointed out that Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaeda are all coordinating to affect jihad in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. Further, many Western intelligence agencies report that al Qaeda nuclear whiz-kid Adnan el Shukrijumah has been spotted throughout South America, the United States and Canada.
Mara Salvatruchas (MS or MS-13), the ultra-violent drug gang that originated in El Salvador, and which has a commanding presence here in the United States, also interacts with the South American drug gangs and terrorist organizations. They have grown from being simply an effective street gang to being a full-fledged paramilitary organization, complete with training, resources and international relationships with some of the most dangerous organizations in the world.
In a 2005 raid in Houston, Texas, the FBI and Houston Police were involved in a paramilitary gun battle with MS-13 gang members who, “swept through the house like a well-trained assault team, using paramilitary tactics including perimeter lookouts, high-powered weaponry (an AK-47 rifle was among the weapons recovered later), and a quick, room-by-room sweep of the house that was notable for its precision and sophistication,” Houston police spokesman Alvin Wright said.
It shouldn’t take another 9/11 to see that the relationships between: MS-13 and South American drug and terrorist organizations such as FARC and ELN and Islamist terror groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaeda; add Hugo Chavéz’s relationships with South American Socialist leaders and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and alarms should sound in every Western intelligence and law enforcement agency around the world. This pathway to terrorism should be identified as a major concern and the “dots” connected before the world bears witness to a crude yet efficient nuclear attack on a major American city.
The United States government would be wise to embrace a 21st Century version of The Monroe Doctrine, discouraging and thwarting international relationships in the Western Hemisphere derived from a mutual ideology of hate, conquest, totalitarianism and anti-Americanism. While the utilization of such a doctrine wouldn’t be a cure-all, it would certainly be a good place to start.
But, in order to do this the US government – and all freedom loving nations with the intestinal fortitude to do the right thing – would have to rise above the politically partisan in-fighting long enough to give a damn about the survival of the free world. That would require putting good government before politics, something that is not happening today. This time to not do so could result in a subservient existence for our children and our children’s children. I would hope even the most partisan among us would be averse to that.
Chavéz takes over Venezuela’s last private oil fields
Chavéz eyes banks, steel nationalization
U.S. blasts Chavéz plan to nationalize electricity, phones
Troops Fire Upon Protesters in Venezuela
Chavéz defends shutting down RCTV, ridicules protesters
Nicanor Duarte Frutos
Venezuela: Terrorism Hub of South America?
Hezbollah builds a Western base
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
National Liberation Army (ELN)
Adnan el Shukrijumah
Mara Salvatruchas (MS or MS-13)
MS-13 gang growing extremely dangerous, FBI says
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor. He hosts NMJ Radio airing on BlogTalkRadio and heard around the world on NetTalkWorld global talk radio.