The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Oil Profits for Poor People?

This is one of the things I meant to blog about yesterday, before finding myself up to my neck in Mark Foley. I didn’t write much about Hugo Chavez’s remarks at the U.N. last week, because it just didn’t seem all that important. But this latest news is something different. Say what you will about Chavez, but anybody who turns oil profits into anti-poverty projects can’t be all bad.

While the Venezuelan president has caused international controversy with his angry denunciations of the Bush administration, this is where the rubber meets the road for Chavez’s radical rhetoric. He is spending billions of dollars on anti-poverty programs, in what experts say may amount to the largest such effort in a developing nation.

And in a gamble that turns part of his own government’s power structure on its head, he is handing a large degree of authority over these spending programs to thousands of these elected local councils.

… Public works projects are everywhere, ranging from subway lines in Caracas and Valencia to bridges over the Orinoco River. New medical clinics — mostly staffed by Cuban doctors provided under Chavez’s oil aid program to Fidel Castro — are within reach of almost everyone in this nation of 25 million people. Illiteracy, formerly at 10 percent of the population, has been completely eliminated, and infant mortality has been cut from 21 deaths per 1,000 births to 16 per 1,000.

Another initiative that could change the lives of millions of poor Venezuelans is a new program aimed at increasing land ownership.

Medical clinics? Health care? Clean water? Electricity? For poor people? By using oil profits? When was the last time you heard of anyone in, say, this hemisphere, having the audacity to even mention something like this?Granted, the rest of the article says that that things are happening so quickly that lack of oversight might lead to some degree of waste and graft. So it’s probably too soon to say whether this will work or not. But It seems just crazy enough that it might.

And therein lies the problem.

All that oil money going to poor people (and rather swarthy ones at that) is bound to attract attention from people who aren’t going to be too pleased with that particular situation. I’m not saying that there’s a direction connection between one and the other, but when Donald Rumsfeld warns of weapons in Venezuela, I can’t help wondering if he’s talking about WMDs, or poor people empowered by oil profits.

The recent military build-up in Venezuela by U.S. nemesis President Hugo Chavez has other countries in the region worried that the weapons could end up in the hands of terrorists, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday.

Asked whether he believes Venezuelan officials‘ contention that the weapon buys are strictly for defense and not a threat to the region, Rumsfeld said, “I don‘t know of anyone threatening Venezuela — anyone in this hemisphere.”

Chavez, however, has repeatedly charged that United States is planning to invade his country, a claim American officials dismiss as preposterous. And he said Sunday that he‘s heard the Bush administration is plotting to assassinate him or topple his regime.

Chavez has been generous with Venezuela’s oil at times, giving millions of gallons of heating oil to poor families in this country at a time the same time the Republican Congress cut funds to help the poor heat their homes by more than half; and he’s threatened to be stingy Venezuela’s oil at other times, suggesting the U.S. could go elsewhere for the 1.3 million barrels it buys from the country.

I’m not saying one’s connected to the other, but it’s interesting to read the two items — published around the same time — together. And I’m wondering if there are any detailed maps of Venezuela’s oil lying around the Bush Administration, because the administration may say Venezuela’s no threat, but combine all of the above with the shortfall of oil from Iraq and it could add up to something like a threat.

In essence, the doctrine of preemptive first strike empowers the United States president to order a unilateral attack on any country deemed to pose a threat to US national security. Iraq posed such a threat due to its now disproved weapons of mass destruction stocks and ties to international terrorist organizations. Two other countries that pose a similar threat to US national security are Iran and Venezuela – both of which also have very large oil reserves.

… Venezuela is seen by Washington as a more immediate threat to US national security. The Bush administration claims that the Hugo Chavez government is supporting the insurgency in Colombia and has played an integral role in fomenting social and political instability in Bolivia and Ecuador. Chavez’s highly publicized military arms purchases, ranging from light arms to attack aircraft and submarines, have escalated Venezuela’s threat to US national security.

And with sabotage and graft dashing hopes of getting much in the way of oil or oil revenues out of Iraq, and the Kurds threatening to walk and take their substantial oil supply with them, watching anyone handing oil revenues to poor people has got to be a little calling. And a little tempting.

Update: Funny. I didn’t expect to see much about this anywhere else, but Para Justicia y Libertad points to an article about Chavez’s claims of another failed U.S. assassination attempt against him.

President Hugo Chavez has told a rally of thousands that US President George W Bush has ordered his assassination.

Chavez says he has received warnings from within the White House that Washington is plotting to assassinate him or topple his left-leaning government.

Citing information from an alleged White House informant, Chavez told thousands of supporters at a campaign rally today that President Bush – the Venezuelan leader’s political archenemy – has ordered him to be killed before he leaves office in 2008.

One Comment

  1. Bastards! Helping the poor. It goes against everything we cherish.