There is a fact about Venezuela that is largely unknown to people in the United States: in addition to possessing a huge oil reserve, Venezuela was also one of the two initiators of OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) forty-five years ago. When Venezuela, along with the Arab nations, tried to take control of its own natural oil resources from U.S. and western oil monopolies, it became the target of subversion. The struggle for independence and sovereignty continues today.
The Venezuelan people democratically elected President Hugo Chavez in 1998, replacing a corrupt two party system which had held power for forty years. Previously, Venezuela's oil wealth remained in the hands of a privileged few, while the vast majority lived in poverty. Chavez promised to change all that.
Voters adopted a new democratic constitution by a wide margin and re-elected Chavez in 2002 in fair elections. Seeing their ill-gotten wealth threatened by programs benefiting the poor, the corrupt former rulers fought back. This "democratic" opposition is funded by the Bush Administration's National Endowment for Democracy.
When a short-lived coup occurred in April 2002, the U.S. was one of only two countries to recognize the coup government. Chavez was returned to power after a massive outpouring of poor and working class people who would not tolerate a return to the former system.
Today, poor and working people there are mobilizing against U.S.-backed efforts to "recall" Chavez. On March 1, demonstrations in support of Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution took place in every country in Latin America, showing that Chavez has millions of allies across the continent. In Venezuela itself, tens of thousands took to the streets.
In the wake of the U.S.-backed coup in Haiti, Chavez announced, "We tell Mr. Bush, don't dare try to do in Venezuela what you did in Haiti."
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