I've said before it's easy to know what the empire is thinking (especially
its powerful movers and shakers sitting in corporate boardrooms) by reading
the Wall Street Journal daily as I do. Despite its heavy pro-empire bias, readers
can also get some real news and information - something nearly impossible elsewhere
in the corporate media especially from the venerable New York Times I've before
labeled the closest thing we have in the US to an official ministry of information
I'll return to that subject another time, but for now I want to highlight the
May 25 front page feature article in the Journal titled "New President
Has Bolivia Marching to Chavez's Beat." The sub-title is even worse - "Venezuelan
Populist Pushes Anti-US Latin Alliance; Has He Gone Too Far?" And below
that and still headlined - "Cuban Doctors in the House."
I hope readers understand from that language what's quite clear to me: a virtual
call to arms against Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, two leaders who likely more
than any others believe that since their people elected them, they have an obligation
to serve them and not the interests of a belligerent and dominant Northern neighbor.
What Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez Are Doing Jointly That's Roused the
The WSJ attack begins by its implied condemnation that right after being elected
Morales told foreign steel companies they would have to renegotiate a proposed
deal to develop a huge iron ore deposit known as El Mutun. The Journal also
complained that the Bolivian government invited Venezuelan experts to help them
in the bargaining, which, of course, was logical and sensible if such help was
available. The outcome of the negotiation was that Bolivia demanded a new agreement
that was much fairer to the Bolivian people than the one-sided one the previous
government accepted. The foreign steel producers weren't too pleased, and neither
was the Journal.
The WSJ was just getting warmed up as it then complained both nations joined
with Cuba in a Free Trade Agreement of the People (much like Venezuela's ALBA)
which is much different from the one-sided ones the US demands with it getting
all and developing nations giving everything, "take it or leave it."
Under the agreement, Venezuela pledged to supply Bolivia with 200,000 barrels
of crude and refined products a month at below-market prices and in return buy
200,000 tons of Bolivian soybeans a year as well as quantities of chestnuts
and almonds. Chavez also will provide 5,000 scholarships and 100 advanced internships
for Bolivians to study in Venezuela. And while other foreign energy companies
are freezing their Bolivian investments, the Venezuelan state-owned energy company
PdVSA is investing in a number of Bolivian projects including a new gas separation
plant and jointly owned filling stations with the Argentinian oil company YSFB.
Venezuela is also taking a leading role in the development of Bolivia's El Mutun
iron ore deposits further strengthening the ties between the two nations.
My point in listing the above arrangements is that all nations should be working
cooperatively with each other doing these same sorts of things to maintain their
independence and benefit their people. The Journal, however, is indignant about
them - meaning, of course, that Bolivia is taking its lead from Venezuela and
daring to go around the dominant US "our way or the highway" kind
of agreements that steal from poor nations to make powerful US corporations
richer and more powerful. But the Journal just kept pouring it on expressing
its ire (by implication) that Venezuelan technocrats dare to help Bolivia set
policies on a range of issues from health care to land reform to nationalizing
the oil, natural gas and other industries. These plans are intended to help
the Bolivian people benefit fairly from their own natural resources and for
Cuban doctors and teachers to be used in poor areas to set up clinics and schools
and give the people essential social services they never had before.
Hugo Chavez will also loan Bolivia $100 million "to implement (its) potentially
explosive promise to redistribute some 12.4 million acres of state-owned property
to indigenous groups" - a first step in a broader program to put unproductive
state and private lands that don't have clear title in the hands of the people
who need it and will use it to benefit them and the nation. The Journal calls
this land reform plan a "time bomb" that could lead to a "civil
war," - incredibly hostile language. They're also upset that Morales is
purging his military of some of its high-ranking officers, requiring every public
official to take an almost 50% pay cut, and stipulating that no bureaucrat can
earn more than his own salary of $22,000 a year (compared to George Bush's $400,000
while he spends half his time at his Texas "ranch" raking in the bucks
and not the hay).
Evo Morales has accomplished all this in just four months since he was inaugurated
as Bolivia's President on January 24th of this year. And while the US empire
and WSJ are upset and angry, the Bolivian people love him and show it in the
approval rating he's earned that now exceeds 80% or nearly threefold higher
than how George Bush currently scores. No matter, the Journal pours it on further.
It berates Chavez for using his oil wealth to lead a "bloc of anti-American
countries in the region and beyond," has lent hundreds of millions of dollars
to Argentina and Equador (imagine the arrogance of going around the IMF and
World Bank that specialize in impoverishing developing nations to enrich giant
corporations) and supports Iran's right to enrich uranium and develop its commercial
nuclear industry as that country has every legal right to do without outside
And now the clincher - I can barely contain myself. Because of this alliance
and what's emerging from it, the Journal claims Chavez and Morales "threaten
to undo years of political and economic 'liberation' (does it get more Orwellian
than that) in South America and is the latest in a series of energy-security
threats." I can only think of an expressive Yiddish term that best explains
my reaction to that statement - what unmitigated "chutzpah." For those
who don't know the term, it means an extreme level of arrogance and insolence.
It's quite unacceptable to the US empire that these two leaders would dare
act as all leaders should. And the Wall Street Journal feels the same way and
says it clearly or by none too subtle implication throughout its lengthy feature
article today. The message from it indicates there's trouble ahead for Hugo
Morales and Evo Morales, and it's coming from the USA.
What It All Means
I've written a lot in recent months about how the US is stepping up its hostile
rhetoric against Hugo Chavez in preparation to launching its fourth attempt
to oust the Venezuelan leader after failing to do it three previous times. This
morning's Journal article clearly indicates Evo Morales has been elevated to
likely co-equal status with President Chavez after just four short months in
office. Of course, Fidel Castro has been on the US's hit list for over 45 years
and is probably more in jeopardy now than he's been for some time. The US simply
won't allow any nation to function outside its orbit of influence, especially
those rich in natural resources like Venezuela, Bolivia and Iran. Iran in particular
has been the target of the most extreme US venom for no other reason than it's
oil rich like Iraq and Venezuela and its leadership won't sell out its sovereignty
to a hostile US demanding it.
The Wall Street Journal provides empire watchers a useful service - a window
through which to view likely US intentions and to be able to do it on a daily
basis. Today's article is one such view and an important one. It steps up the
hostile rhetoric one more notch and provides one more clear sign that these
two nations must brace for what seems certain US action against them to remove
their leaders and replace them with ones again subservient to US wishes. Hugo
Chavez and Evo Morales do anything but that and as such represent the greatest
threat above all others to US continued dominance in the region - a good example
that left unchecked may grow and spread and help erode the US's unchallengeable
position it's held up to now.
Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales want no part of it, and the US won't tolerate that
attitude. Clearly a confrontation is ahead on what timetable and by what means
we won't know until it unfolds. But it surely will, and commentators on this
web site and other progressive ones will be monitoring all the signs and events
and reporting them as they unfold. Stay tuned.