Lawmaker Claims US Behind Al Qaeda Threat To Venezuelan Oil Facilities
Few analysts really believe that war will break out between the US and Venezuela any time soon. It would be bad news for both countries.
But there are plenty of signs that preparations are being made, if only to keep each other at arm's length. The United States is clearly unhappy about Chavez's plans to nationalise the oil industry, fearing key supplies may be cut off, or that the US may be held to ransom by Chavez over further supplies and previously contracted prices for oil.
A report in the Washington Times tries to build up tensions over Venezuela's military build up and tensions between Chavez and the Bush administration :
Venezuela says it is beefing up its military capabilities -- including plans to develop the region's largest submarine fleet -- in preparation for any "asymmetrical conflict" with the United States.
The buildup, which also includes small arms, jet fighters and potentially air-defense missiles, is being carried out in compliance with all international and regional nonproliferation treaties, Venezuela's ambassador to Washington said in a telephone interview.
But by repeatedly characterizing any conflict with the United States as "asymmetrical," Bernardo Alvarez made clear that his government was contemplating the need to defend itself against the world's lone superpower, a nation with vastly greater military resources.
"We have simply been trying to upgrade our military equipment and maintain our defense while preserving balance in the hemisphere," said Mr. Alvarez, who insisted that Venezuela's Latin American neighbors need not worry about the buildup.
Caracas is reported to have spent $3.4 billion on Russian arms, including assault rifles and fighter jets, and to be negotiating to buy a $290 million Russian air-defense system.
Now, according to remarks attributed to Vice Adm. Armando Laguna, Venezuela is planning to spend another $3 billion for nine submarines, giving it the region's largest submarine fleet by 2012. Mr. Alvarez could not confirm the report.
A Pentagon report estimated that Venezuela had spent about $4.3 billion on arms since 2005 alone, more than countries such as Iran, Pakistan and even China. Venezuela also is pursuing an estimated $2 billion worth of military-transport ships and aircraft from Spain.
Venezuela already has conducted billions of dollars in business with Russia, purchasing 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 24 Sukhoi-30 fighters and about 35 helicopters.
Most recently, Caracas has its sights set on buying Russian air-defense missiles known as the Tor-M1 system, which consists of eight missiles in a battery mounted to a launch vehicle. The short-range system is designed for use against low-flying aircraft and incoming missiles.
A Venezuela military official told the Associated Press last month that the missiles were wanted for "air defense" only -- a notion in keeping with Mr. Chavez's repeated warnings about the threat of a U.S. invasion. The Bush administration regularly denies it has any such intentions.
Washington has expressed concerns that the Russian assault rifles could wind up in the hands of leftist rebels in neighboring Colombia or be used to further the Venezuelan leader's socialist agenda in the region.
"I can see why Chavez wants to militarize Venezuela. ... He's a military man, just like Bolivar was a military man," said John Pike, director of Globalsecurity.org. Simon Bolivar, whom Mr. Chavez idolizes, liberated several Latin American nations from Spain during the 19th century.
But waging war with the United States "would be a foolish thing to do," he said, noting that even a minor skirmish would jeopardize Venezuela's oil sales to its largest customer
From Jurnalo :
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday accused the United States of plotting to harm Venezuela's economy, after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused him of doing the same to his own country. "Condoleezza turned again to disparaging me and said that I am destroying the country's economy - this shows that there is now an economic plan against Venezuela," he said.
Rice last week said Chavez was ruining his country's democratic institutions and economy, in some of her strongest comments yet against the Venezuelan leader.
"There's an assault on democracy in Venezuela, and I believe that there are significant human rights issues in Venezuela," Rice said at a congressional hearing. "I do believe that the president of Venezuela is really, really destroying his own country economically, politically. "
Chavez called Rice's comments the latest "imperialist" attack from a "desperate" country, and added that the US was free to stop buying Venezuelan oil if it felt strongly enough.
"We have enough clients to sell petroleum to, we are not dependent at all on the North American imperialist," Chavez said.
From EarthTimes :
Venezuela's Foreign Ministry adopted a take 'em or leave em attitude toward the United States, suggesting its petroleum industry could survive without the billions of dollars in annual revenue from its largest customer.
We are going to keep selling oil to North America because we are a serious country and we sell it to North American society, said Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro earlier this week in response to remarks by U.S. officials.
Venezuela supplies about 12 percent of the oil imported by the United States, making it Venezuela's largest customer. It is the No. 4 U.S. supplier.
Maduro was reacting to remarks by Nicholas Burns, U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, who said the United States was stepping up its efforts to use biofuels to reduce its dependence on Venezuelan oil.
Maduro's remarks came as Venezuela is furthering its effort to wrest greater control of its energy assets, including oil, through a wide-ranging nationalization program.
Amid concerns Chavez is gearing up for a large-scale takeover of the oil industry, some analysts note he has historically taken small steps toward great state control of the industry and that a radical shift in policy would be neither prudent nor in line with his previous policies.
Chavez Calls For Anti-Imperialist Unity
From USA Today :
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, seeking inroads in a region where the U.S. has long been the dominant influence, called on Caribbean states to join his fight against imperialism.
During a Caribbean tour that began Friday, the leftist leader is promoting Venezuela's sales of fuel under preferential terms to Caribbean nations and highlighting its public works projects in the region.
"Today is the time of the people, of unity," Chavez said Friday evening upon arriving at St. Vincent, where he was greeted by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, met onlookers and kissed several youngsters. Chavez said the Caribbean should be a "sea of resistance" to imperialism.
Earlier Friday, Chavez was in the mountainous, forested island of Dominica, where he addressed a crowd at a new fuel storage tank built by Venezuela, one of five the oil-rich nation has pledged to construct there. "An empire of Latin America and the Caribbean will be greater than the empire of Star Wars and cannot be stopped," Chavez said.
Lawmaker Claims US Behind Al Qaeda Threat To Venezuelan Oil
From ElUniversal.com :
Lawmaker Saúl Ortega, chair of the National Assembly Committee on Foreign Affairs, Thursday attributed to the United States the threats Al Qaeda launched on Wednesday to strike oil facilities worldwide, including premises in Venezuela.
According to Ortega, such reports are a US "terrorist maneuver" aimed at intimidating the nations that are at odds with Washington and having an excuse for likely interventions.
He added that the alleged threat was not launched directly by the terrorist group, but through a translation reportedly made by US intelligence agencies under the Central Intelligence Agency.
"I do believe this is part of a US terrorist maneuver. This is very suspicious, as the information was not disclosed by Al Qaeda itself, but it is based on translation a body of the CIA allegedly made from a news report or an online magazine they attributed to Al Qaeda," Ortega declared.
He added that the real suspects are rather "the terrorists that the CIA and the US administration have to attack and perform this type of sabotage worldwide. They are the threat."
Further, Ortega claimed that the US is likely making attempts at making the world believe that US security is at stake because of a possible disruption in oil supplies following Al Qaeda's threat against Venezuela. Consequently, Washington could order a pre-emptive military intervention of Venezuela.