avatar
Colombia and Venezuela


Carlos Andres Perez, a former President of Venezuela and leader of the Venezuelan ‘opposition’ against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, said in a recent interview that “Violence will allow us to remove [Chavez]. That’s the only way we have,” and that Chavez “must die like a dog, because he deserves it.” (1)


Chavez “deserves it” because of efforts to create home-grown development and regional integration in ways that offer a genuine challenge to the neoliberal model.  Because such programs are popular with the poor, “violence is the only way” to stop them. 


In a recent article about the Venezuelan referendum, James Petras predicted the consequences of a Chavez defeat:


“If Chavez is defeated and if the Right takes power, it will privatize the state petroleum and gas company, selling it to US multinationals, withdraw from OPEC, raise its production and exports to the US, thus lowering Venezuelan revenues by half or more. Internally the popular health programs in the urban “ranchos” will end along with the literary campaign and public housing for the poor. The agrarian reform will be reversed and about 500,000 land reform recipients (100,000 families) will be turned off the land. This will be accomplished through extensive and intensive state bloodletting, jailing and extrajudicial assassination, and intense repression of pro-Chavez neighborhoods, trade unions and social movements.” (2)


If Venezuela provides a new, albeit fragile, model of social and economic progress for the region, then its Andean neighbor Colombia, can be seen providing a less-favored, more dangerous alternative – one of neoliberal repression and privatization.
Venezuelans will decide which model to pursue in the referendum of August 15.  But the clash of the two models has taken some unexpected turns recently.


The Colombia Model


The package of privatization, anti-poor programs, and intense repression is best exemplified by Colombia, where imposing privatization and the kind of ‘development’ that displaces and impoverishes millions takes so much violence that it has forced even its US sponsors to make public, if hypocritical, statements against it. 


On July 26, John Kerry, John Edwards, and several other US senators sent a letter to Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe Velez.  Kerry and friends were “encouraged by the decline in the level of homicides, massacres, kidnappings, and forced displacement.”  But they were also “deeply concerned” about “extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, attributed directly to Colombian security forces.”  They urged Uribe to follow the UN’s recommendation to “cut ties between the army and the paramilitary forces”.  The letter named names, citing the cases of Carlos Bernal, an activist assassinated on April 1 with his bodyguard, and Carlos Alberto Chicaiza, a unionist killed on April 15. 


The good senators could have benefited from more up to date information. For example on August 3, Kankuamo indigenous activist Freddy Arias Arias was killed riding home on his bicycle in Valledupar.  The Kankuamo nation has some 5000 people, 92 of whom have been assassinated and 1732 displaced in the past two years. In Bucaramanga, on July 15, Carmen Elisa Nova Hernandez, a health worker’s union activist, was assassinated by motorcycle gunmen.  She was the mother of a 5-year-old daughter.  On July 3, Colombian police detained Fanime Reyes Reyes of the agicultural union, FENSUAGRO, in Sincelejo, Sucre.  On July 7, they detained Nubia Gonzalez, daughter of a union worker, in the same city.  On June 19, members of the 3rd Brigade of the Army rounded up 25 people in the Municipality of Corinto in Valle del Cauca department.  A local human rights organization said the military’s mass detention: “took the form of the military violently entering into their houses, violently searching people, intimidating them and detaining many in a highly arbitrary manner.”  On June 17, Colombian police in Barrancabermeja attacked a demonstration by oil workers of the Union Sindical Obrera and youth, “beating them physically and threatening them verbally,” not discriminating between journalists and demonstrators; Luz Dary Innes of Canal Enlace Television, along with at least four other journalists, sustained moderate injuries.  The police detained 9 USO workers as well.  There are numerous other reports from the past few weeks and months of paramilitary intimidation and terror in the countryside (like at the La Balsita peace community in mid-June).  But Kerry and friends selected a few drops out of an ocean of terror and state violence: just what they needed to make the point.  And to be fair, their point was clear: that army-paramilitary links need to be cut.


The senators ought not to hold their breath though.  Uribe has chosen an odd way to cut army-paramilitary links: bringing the paramilitaries to make speeches in Colombia’s House of Representatives.  The speeches were part of the “negotiations” that are going on between the government and the paramilitary killers the government has been using in order to destroy independent social forces and displace peasants from resource-rich areas in advance of ‘development’.  The head of the national paramilitary organization, Salvatore Mancuso, a major killer, asked for new demilitarized zones under exclusive paramilitary control.  He proudly told the nation (the day after the senators sent their letter) that “The ceasefire declared by the self-defense groups does not absolve us of our responsibility for defending the populations and regions where the state is not present from guerrillas”.  But who will defend the populations from the paramilitaries?  The Organization of American States can’t do it.  The OAS observer team excused itself from the process and didn’t attend the paramilitary speech (no explanation was given). 


Colombia’s Vice President Francisco Santos said that the OAS refusal, combined with the fact that paramilitary cooperation has not been ‘total’, has given the ‘negotiations’ a ‘credibility problem’.  Other politicians used stronger language: Gina Parody, a pro-Uribe representative, called having the paramilitaries in the Congress a “shameful and lamentable spectacle.” The same could be applied to the negotiations.


Perhaps the most shameful and lamentable part of the episode came when Mancuso said paramilitaries would not go to jail.  “The reward,” he said, “for all our sacrifices for the nation cannot be prison.” 


This was too much even for the US ambassador.  Even though the US is a sponsor of the government-paramilitary negotiations, William Wood came out against Mancuso’s speech.  “To hear Mancuso talk about sacrifices for the nation is scandalous.”  (3)


Despite this newly discovered moral fiber by the likes of Kerry and Wood, there is plenty they aren’t complaining about.  When Cali’s public utilities company, EMCALI, sacked 60 workers including the union’s president on July 14, Wood didn’t find anything ‘scandalous’ in the violation of union rights.  Perhaps that is because the union is the single biggest obstacle to the privatization of the very important company, and the United States is pushing for a great deal more privatization from Colombia in its free-trade negotiations with that country.  The US demanded, for example, that the Colombian government leave the telecommunications sector altogether.  And the US flexed its muscles, vetoing Colombia’s chosen negotiator on intellectual property rights in the accord.  Colombia walked away from that session as a result.  But the outcome was predictable regardless: when the US flexes its muscles, it gets what it wants. Colombia is planning $10 billion in privatizations, and the US is sending it $108 million for ‘counterinsurgency’ and $313 million for chemical warfare (also known as ‘aerial fumigation’) in return (4).


So, if the new plan for Colombia is at all different from the old plan, it is only in one simple way: instead of celebrating the murderous repression while pushing for it, paying for it (though Colombians are paying much more), and profiting from it, US officials might occasionally make some noises about how they don’t like it, while continuing to finance it. 


The Plan for Venezuela


By tendering at least some protest at the horrors going on in Colombia, US establishment figures like Kerry and other liberal voices can sound marginally more consistent when they do their inane posturing on Venezuela.  The Washington Post (footnote: Washington Post Editorial, July 30, 2004.) says that Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez “does not genuinely accept democracy or the rule of law. He delayed the referendum for a year through legal manipulation and political dirty tricks. Now he flirts with outright political repression in an attempt to determine its outcome.”  The referendum referred to is a referendum to recall the President, something allowed for by the Venezuelan constitution of 1999, enacted under Chavez’s government (the US has no such provision in its constitution). 


Incidentally, Uribe’s own plans for re-election were thwarted by a referendum he lost in October 2003 (5). Undaunted, Uribe ignored the people’s will and is ramming his re-election through Congress (where is the Post article discussing how Uribe “does not genuinely accept democracy or the rule of law”, one wonders).  Alas, all Chavez can manage to do is  ‘flirt with political repression’.  He could take lessons from Uribe, or indeed from US Presidents who gave us COINTELPRO and the PATRIOT Act.


Kerry talks even tougher on Venezuela than the Post and his condemnation of the Chavez government goes far beyond the mild criticism of Uribe’s murderous regime expressed in the July 26 letter.  And unlike that letter, Kerry’s ‘Statement on Venezuela’ (6) comes with no supporting evidence for its outrageous accusations, which are standard by now:


Chavez “has compromised efforts to eradicate drug cultivation by allowing Venezuela to become a haven for narco-terrorists, and sowed instability in the region by supporting anti-government insurgents in Colombia.” He has “repeatedly undermined democratic institutions by using extra-legal means, including politically motivated incarcerations”, and worst of all, he has a “close relationship with Fidel Castro”!  In his statement, Kerry then criticizes Bush for “acquiescing in a failed coup” in Venezuela in 2002. “Having just allowed the democratically elected leader to be cast aside in Haiti, they should make a strong statement now by leading the effort to preserve the fragile democracy in Venezuela.”  One wonders if Kerry’s problem with Bush is that he acquiesced to the coup or that the coup failed at all. 


Kerry and the Washington Post need not worry: the forces of ‘democracy’ are continuing their noble work in Venezuela.  Several dozen Venezuelan military officers are in hiding after stealing 63 kilograms of C-4 plastic explosive and 80 detonators from a naval base, probably for use during the referendum campaign.  These officers are also accused of bombing the Colombian and Spanish embassies in Venezuela in 2003 – three of them were also involved in the coup in 2002.  This, on the heels of a previous plot to assassinate Chavez involving Colombian paramilitaries (7), which itself was followed by an announcement of a plot to deploy Colombian tanks to the Venezuelan border (8). 


Fine-Tuning the Plan (with Megaprojects)?


Tough talk and dirty war are certainly tried-and-true US strategies in Latin America.  But, like the weak expressions of protest against state terror in Colombia, the US and Uribe have other games afoot, as Uribe’s visit to Venezuela in July showed.  Colombia’s role as a resource-rich territory and a corridor between Central and South America are important enough to the United States.  But as a base from which to destabilize the region in various ways, Colombia is even more valuable.


Colombia’s president visited his Venezuelan counterpart on July 15, to discuss a 205km, $98 million natural gas pipeline project that will cross both countries and make it possible for countries to export gas through Central America.  The mystery, however, is why Uribe didn’t wait for the outcome of the referendum before visiting.  A major pipeline takes time: what could be lost by waiting a month?  Since Uribe’s sympathies are violently on the side of the Venezuelan elite and against Chavez, why visit him? 


What Uribe said during the visit is even more inconsistent with his own life’s work of paramilitarism and destruction (9)  He paid complements to Chavez more than once, first in the form of praise for Simon Bolivar when he said: “Any work we can think of doing today was already been done by the Liberator (Bolivar)… today, 200 years later, we are trying to make these things happen, so that history doesn’t pass us by.” He said it was time to leave rhetoric behind and expressed admiration for Chavez who was “talking and doing, taking advantage of his vigor and dynamism.”  The famous deal between Spain and Colombia for tanks to be posted to the Venezuelan border having been cancelled by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s government, Uribe said that he didn’t want the tanks any more in any case: “I don’t want the tanks any more; I hope that with the government of President Zapatero we can make a deal where, instead of selling us these tanks, they can sell us something more useful.”  Chavez was gracious, saying that there had been bad relations between Colombia and Venezuela, including war plans between them, but that what was really needed was “a joint war against poverty and underdevelopment.” Uribe then replied that there would “never be war” between the two countries. 


The press conference then descended into the realm of the bizarre, with both presidents joking about these life-and-death matters.  Uribe said he would miss not being able to learn how to drive a tank, and that he wished Chavez could teach him how: “The only thing I deplore is that I’ve lost the chance to have President Chavez as my teacher. How many tanks will you loan me, President Chavez? Please loan me some tanquecitos!” (10)


Chavez’s reason for meeting Uribe is easy enough to understand: he wants, indeed needs, good relations with Colombia, for the safety of the Venezuelan people if for no other reason. Wanting to defuse the Washington-fueled conflict between the two countries, which would be a disaster for both, is in Chavez’s interest.  But Uribe’s interest is much more difficult to speculate on.  But the answer might have to do with the politics of megaprojects.  Perhaps by sending Uribe, the US minion in the region, to visit Chavez and make peace, the U.S. can get another hand on what Chavez is doing with its natural resources – using the velvet glove instead of the iron fist. In return, Colombia gets windfall revenue from the pipeline project and becomes more foreign-investor friendly. This is the politics of megaprojects. The western world sees them as unequivocally good, and profitable – and the heads of developing nations see them as a way to provide visible evidence of “development” even though many believe that these projects do little but displace and kill people and produce inefficient, low-productivity output.


Most of the political organizations of Colombia’s 3 million+ displaced people talk about megaprojects.  They believe that they were displaced from their lands in order to make way for such projects: dams, drilling, oil and gas pipelines, mega-scale agricultural monocultures – all forms of ‘development without people’ designed to profit transnationals and the segment of the local elite than can sell the country to them.  Afro-Colombians have been displaced all along the Naya River on the Pacific Coast in anticipation of such projects.  The U’wa and the Embera Katio have been subjected to murderous campaigns for fighting oil and dam projects.  The list in Colombia goes on and on.  Outside of Colombia, megaprojects despoil landscapes from one end of the continent to the other, from Plan Puebla-Panama in Central America (11) to the BR-163 superhighway planned to cut the Brazilian Amazon (12).


But megaprojects are not a monopoly of neoliberals, and the ‘Bolivarian project’ of nationalist development does not exclude them.  Development has the potential to become a wedge that divides Venezuela’s population and ultimately succeeds in undermining the Bolivarian process in a way that all the violence cannot.  If the government cannot deliver ‘development’, the people will turn against it.  But if the government delivers the kind of ‘development’ that displaces indigenous people from their lands and contributes to violence in the countryside, it will also alienate its constituency.  These are serious risks for a progressive government to face. 


As an example of the kind of problems and divisions that can arise, consider the Pemon indigenous of Venezuela, who waged a struggle against a 676 km electricity project from Venezuela to Bolivia for several years.  According to Michael McCaughan, (13) the Pemon’s struggle was repressed – including the May 2002 shooting of Miguel Lanz, a 25-year old indigenous activist who was killed by a soldier, who was not punished.  “The community retreated, unwilling to risk more bloodshed.  The battle was over.  The electricity pylon project signed by [Then President of Venezuela] Rafael Caldera and [Then President of Brazil] Fernando Henrique Cardoso in 1997 was finally inagurated in August 2002 when Cardoso and Chavez were joined by Fidel Castro to celebrate a victory for progress.  Insult was piled on injury when it was revealed that… the vast project is currently only feeding electricity to two small border towns, one in Brazil and one in Venezuela.”  If solutions to problems like these cannot be found, they could undermine the whole program of developing the region for its people, including the very real successes in genuine development and regional integration, in which Venezuela is exemplary.


Frustrated Movements


Most Andean countries live somewhere in between the horrors of the Colombia Model and the fragile progress of Venezuela’s government.  The recently demonstrated ability of Latin America’s indigenous and poor to oust regimes that are overly contemptuous of their populations and too obedient to US dictates suggests there is a possibility for true social and economic progress.  Unfortunately, the initial momentum created by many social movements in Latin America has repeatedly been lost when the subsequent leaders betrayed their core constituencies in the poor and indigenous citizenry.


In Bolivia, the indigenous threw business tycoon and President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada out of power in October 2003 in part because of the government’s plan for a $5.2 billion natural gas pipeline project that was to be controlled by a consortium of multinational energy companies, and sold to the U.S. The mostly indigenous uprising against Lozada and his plan brought to power his vice president, Carlos Mesa, who in the 10 months since becoming president has slyly pushed through a referendum paving the way for privatization, and ultimately robbing the Bolivian people of the right to determine the use of their country’s resources. Bolivia’s indigenous leaders, after helping Mesa come into power, have quickly become alienated, and are again left with no alternative means to ensure lasting progress.


In Ecuador, indigenous leader Lucio Gutierrez won the presidency in the November 2002 elections with promises of social justice and an end to corruption. Gutierrez, in fact, led the indigenous uprising against notoriously corrupt President Jamil Mahuad in 2000. Since coming to power and initially appointing indigenous leaders to his cabinet, Gutierrez has broken ranks with the country’s leading confederation of indigenous people, Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador. Against their will, he signed a letter of intent with the IMF in August 2003 to privatize the petroleum sector, electricity, telecommunications, and natural resources like water (14).  More recently, the Ecuadorian congress has been in a battle with Gutierrez to stop the president from opening up the country’s oil fields to foreign oil companies.


To a limited extent, Brazil under President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva, has not lived up to the promises he made to the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Tera, – Landless Rural Workers Movement, Brazil. In his October 2002 victory speech, Lula declared that with his election to head Brazil, the world’s fifth-largest democratic state, “hope has won over fear.” This hope, which had been shared by movements and leftists across the globe, has since largely faded. In fact, it has seemingly been replaced within Brazil by political and economic stagnation and at times, repression of the landless (15). Some members of the Brazilian Workers’ Party, Partido dos Trabalhadores, much like members of CONAIE in Ecuador, have come out in vocal opposition to Lula’s leadership. Brazil continues to be heavily indebted to the IMF and, the MST contends, the PT has moved too slowly with land reforms.


But where Lula and the rest have shown signs of weakness in providing a model of development and governance for the left, President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela has methodically built strength. This is, in turn, precisely why he encounters such fierce opposition from the U.S. government and media. In the months leading up to the referendum, Chavez has implemented several development measures and fostered regional economic cooperation to build a base from which to oppose neoliberal economic policies.


Home-Grown Development


Venezuela, the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, has taken advantage of high oil prices over the past several months. Petroleos de Venezuela, the state-oil company also known as PdVSA has, with record revenue coming in as a result of the price per barrel hovering in the high $30 to low $40 price range, devoted $2 billion for spending on infrastructure projects. The fund is to be used for revamping power plants, building roads and launching a state airline. In addition, PdVSA has earmarked an additional $1.7 billion from windfall oil revenue for adult literacy programs and free healthcare for the poor. The two combined social spending measures have created an uproar ahead of the referendum, despite the fact that PdVSA President Ali Rodriguez has estimated that, if the price of oil remains at current levels, the oil company’s net revenue for the year will surpass $46 billion. There is little reason to doubt the veracity of this claim. Oil industry analysts have estimated the price per barrel of oil may in the near future go as high as $50, ensuring further windfall revenue to flow in (16).


Chavez’s plans have been met with virulent opposition from critics even as his supporters say he is the first Venezuelan president to work to improve the lives of the over 50% of the population living below the poverty line.


In the past, this opposition has seriously destabilized the economy. Perhaps it is for this reason that the $2 billion fund is so contentious. The idea of using even a marginal amount of revenue from the nation’s national resources to create jobs and put in place institutional alternatives to privately-owned enterprises may be seen as a serious threat to the Venezuelan elite.


Chavez is using about $16 million from the development fund, to partly fund the creation of a small new state-owned airline, Conviasa, which will begin operations in three to four months. The airline plans to first fly between the Andean nations and eventually to most points around the world, save the U.S. and Canada.


The Venezuelan government also recently said it would go forward with plans announced over a year ago to launch a state-run telecommunications company known as CVG Telecom on Aug. 10. The company will compete with a number of other providers including the CA Nacional de Telefonos de Venezuela, known as CANTV. The Venezuelan telecommunications market is an oligarchy led by CANTV, which is the largest privately owned telecom corporation in the country. The corporation’s size (and therefore influence) within the greater Latin American corporate elite structure is worth noting. Shares of CANTV make up nearly 40% of all shares traded on the local IBC Venezuelan stock index and the company names as its largest stakeholder, US telecom giant Verizon Communications. Therefore, any major swings in the share price of CANTV, say in response to new competition, could affect the overall performance of the IBC. Among CANTV’s 10-largest institutional shareholders are U.S. investment houses Lazard, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. (17)


The Aug. 10 launch is important, but shouldn’t be overemphasized. It may be entirely coincidental that CANTV will be providing connection services for the Aug. 15 referendum, which will be conducted using electronic touch-screen voting machines.


The building of these, relatively small, state alternatives to major industries within the Venezuelan economy can in the long-run serve as institutional alternatives to foreign-owned dominance of the country. If evidence of this foreign-owned dominance is ever a question, one should look no further than the US Treasury Department for answers. The department said recently that US investors bought $72 billion worth of foreign stock in 2003, a record that handily beat the previous record of US ownership in foreign markets of $63 billion, set in 1993. The pace is maddening. Based upon preliminary figures, US investors will own $90 billion worth of foreign stock this year (18).


The sooner developing nations realize the tragic effects such ownership can have on their development schemes, the quicker such institutional can be undertaken. This recognition, on the part of the Venezuelan government, has made it a target.


National alternatives, however, are not enough to fend off the pressure from the North for neoliberalism that has become common in the region. Nor are these economic measures enough to demonstrate the possibility of development without the overwhelming presence of institutions from the rich countries.


Regional Integration


By weaving together Venezuela’s economy with its neighbors’, the Chavez government is laying the groundwork for Venezuela to be part of an integrated Latin American economic bloc which could be less dependent on foreign money and less susceptible to traditional development pressures. Much of this integration has begun with Argentina, where president Nestor Kirchner shares Chavez’s skepticsm about neoliberalism.


Among many cooperative measures announced during July’s Venezuela-Argentina Business Roundtable, was the creation of a credit card called Cabal for small businesses in Venezuela and a financing fund to provide credit guarantees to entrepreneurs. Also announced was the creation of a $1 million credit line with the help of government banks such as Venezuela’s Banco de Comercio Exterior, and the Argentine government bank BCIE, to finance Venezuela’s small industry exports to Argentina, according to a statement released by Bancoex. (19)


Also according to the statement, the two countries foresee, in the long run, the creation of a South American bank that would promote business development in the region.


The economic idea of comparative advantage – so often manipulated in neoliberal economic policy – has also found its place within the current Venezuelan-Argentine cooperation. The governments announced in July a plan to indefinitely extend this year’s fuel-for-food accord, allowing Argentina to continue importing diesel and gasoil from Venezuela if its current natural gas and power shortages remain a problem. Argentina signed the $240 million contract with Venezuela in April 2004, allowing Kirchner’s government to import around 1 million tons of diesel and gasoil. In return, the Venezuelans agreed that they could receive cash for the imports or request agricultural imports.


The laundry-list of cooperative agreements between Venezuela and Argentina, as well as the confounding pipeline agreement between traditional rivals Colombia and Venezuela are a part of the larger picture of Venezuela’s integration into the wider Latin American economy and the creation of a regional economic force to be reckoned with.


On July 8, after eight years of lobbying, Venezuela was admitted as an “associate member” to the trading-bloc Common Market of the South, also known as Mercosur. The importance of this institutionalization lies not only in the increased trade opportunities for all the member and associate countries – Brazil and Argentina are full members with Paraguay and Uruguay while Peru, Chile and Bolivia are associates – but also in the strategic and symbolic unity the bloc will offer Chavez and Venezuela. The attempts by U.S. and Venezuelan corporate media and government to portray Chavez as a firebrand “dictator” isolated from the rest of Latin America because of his “communist” policies, will be less successful given the risk of offending the economically important bloc.


The legacy the Chavez government leaves behind can form the basis for long-standing institutional alternatives to U.S.-backed development as well as a regional means to escape part of the heavy dependence on foreign direct investment needed to lift the citizens of poor nations out of poverty.
 
It is for this reason these substantive, lasting, institutionalized measures are clearly seen as a threat to U.S. neoliberalism in Latin America. Colombia, in its economic obedience, serves as Venezuela’s doppelganger of sorts – the quiescent country that will haunt its counterpart. Whichever US administration is in power will forgive the one and pour vitriol on the other. Nevertheless, resistance to the US agenda abounds in both Andean countries, despite their varying forms.


The paramilitaries in the Colombian legislature were met with fierce opposition not only within the parliament itself, but also outside, as families of disappeared and murdered, social organizations, and others raised their voices to yell “Neither oblivion nor pardon!”  Movements in Colombia’s cities continue to offer resistance in unexpected and spontaneous ways even more-established movements aren’t expecting (20). 


The Venezuelan referendum of August 15 is a crucial battle (if it is at all fair, Chavez will win easily) a long fight.  The populations will not give up the fight for their region easily.


Justin Podur is a writer and translator.  CP Pandya ([email protected]) is a freelance journalist, specializing in economic issues, based in the United States.


Notes


1) See Martin Sanchez’s story on Venezuelanalysis.com July 26, 2004
2) See Petras, ‘Beware Jimmy Carter!’, Counterpunch, July 14, 2004.
3) These quotes, and the account of the Uribe-Chavez meeting below, all come from El Tiempo (www.eltiempo.com), Colombia’s main daily.  Translations by the authors.
4) See Colombiaweek.org http://www.colombiaweek.org/, which cites the London Financial Times of July 19, 2004.
5) see Podur, “Colombia’s Referendum”, Oct 27, 2003
6) See Kerry’s website:
7) See Podur, ‘Terrorist Plot Foiled’, ZNet May 10 2004
8) See Podur, ‘The Final Answer Will be Given by the Tanks’, ZNet June 19, 2004
9) The National Security Archive has unearthed documents from the United States Drug Enforcement Agency which, in 1991, called Uribe “A Close Personal Friend to Pablo Escobar”, “Dedicated to Collaboration with the Medellín Cartel at High Government Levels”, and among “Important Colombian Narco-Traffickers”.  See http://www.nsarchive.org.  This corroborates information well-known by many.  See this March 16, 2004 interview with human rights defender Padre Javier Giraldo.
10) All quotes are from the pages of El Tiempo July 14-15 2004
11) Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatistas discussed the plan in 2003.
12) See ‘Asphalt and Jungle’, the Economist, July 24, 2004
13) Michael McCaughan, ‘The Battle for Venezuela’, Latin America Bureau, 2004, pp. 137-140.  An interesting review of some of the problems with this book can be found on Venezuelanalysis, but McCaughan is a good journalist and the review pointed out no reason to doubt the veracity of his claims about the Pemon experience
14) See CONAIE’s communique of Sept 6, 2003-
15) Associated Press, July 31, “1 Killed As Landless Clash With Ranch Guards In Brazil”.
16) Wall Street Journal article “OPEC Finds Its Power Has Limits,” By Bahree, Bhusan, Wednesday, August 4, 2004
17) All share and holding information gotten from Reuters market data
18) The Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Investors Have Been Buying Foreign Stock At A Record Pace,” By Craig Karmin, Wednesday, August 4, 2004
19) Statement is online at http://bancoex.com/rueda_arg_ven/condiciones.asp
20) See Mondragon’s March 5, 2004 article, ‘Colombia Today’ for some examples.

Leave a comment