Sunday, October 08, 2006

Here's why Chávez is so mad

While politicians from across the political spectrum and editorial pages throughout the United States have been taking their shots at Venezuela's Hugo Chávez since his now infamous ''devil'' comment at the United Nations, no one is asking what made him so mad. Seats are getting crowded on the anti-Chávez bandwagon as retailer 7-Eleven announced it will drop Venezuelan-owned Citgo gasoline from its 2,100 service stations in the United States in protest and Florida lawmaker Rep. Adam Hasner has called for Citgo to be kicked off of the state's turnpike.

A quick glance at recent U.S. policy and posture toward Venezuela gives us some clues as to why people in Venezuela are getting set to reelect a president who calls the United States an empire.

A good place to start is the short-lived 2002 coup in Venezuela. While the United States publicly denies any role in the coup, numerous published reports show that at the very least the United States had a cozy relationship with many of the opposition figures who allegedly planned the coup and immediately welcomed the overthrow of the democratically elected president.

Do you think President Bush and Karl Rove would be upset if the tables were turned and Chávez were funding a 527 group supporting the Democrats in the mid-term elections?

At the same time, the United States is stepping up its spying efforts in Venezuela. In August the director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, announced the creation of a new ''mission manager'' position for Venezuela and Cuba. According to the State Department, the only other countries in the world with ''mission managers'' based out of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are Iran and North Korea. Unconfirmed reports among security analysts suggest a recent 50 percent increase in CIA agents operating in Venezuela.


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