Correo Del Orinoco Friday January 20, 2012 English Edition Coi98



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The artillery of ideas ENGLISH EDITION Friday | January 20, 2012 | Nº 98 | Caracas page 7 | Analysis Opposition candidate Pablo Perez: Representing the past page 8 | Opinion Paul Craig Roberts: Washington moves the world closer to war Chavez approval rating at 60% P olls and surveys recently conducted about Venezu- ela’s President Hugo Chavez show an approval rating of about 60 percent, said director of pollster 30-11, German Cam- pos this Thursday. Interviewed on local Venezue- lan television, Mr. Campos said the rate of approval has recov- ered compared to figures from a year ago, and is now similar to levels achieved in previous electoral years, such as 2006. Chavez won the presidency in 2006 with 64% of the vote. "All polls coincide with in- dicating a recovery on the as- sessment of President Chavez and his leadership", explained Campos. Campos also said that one element playing a significant role in Chavez’s popularity is the economic and social model his government has been de- veloping, which prioritizes in- vestment in social programs, healthcare, poverty reduction and education. Concerning the role of the mainstream media, which have conducted a decade-long cam- paign to discredit the Chavez Administration, Campos said that regardless of what they broadcast or publish and de- spite their wide audience, today a more critical society exists in Venezuela capable of develop- ing its own view of reality. "There is a larger and larg- er discrepancy between the information released and viewer perceptions. During the eighties, the level of cred- ibility of media outlets in Venezuela was higher. Today, one thing is what they broad- cast or publish and another is what citizens really believe", Campos said. During his 9-hour annual address before the nation, the Venezuelan President, accompanied by thousands of supporters, engaged in vibrant discussion with the opposition It had never happened before in Venezuelan history or probably anywhere else around the world. As his annual speech to the nation recounting the successes and challenges of 2011 advanced, opposition legislators in the audience made continual interruptions. But instead of ignoring them, or forcing them from the venue, President Chavez engaged them in debate, listened to their comments and critiques and responded thoughtfully. At several points during the address, opposition Assembly Members made accusatory and defamatory comments against Chavez, live on television. The exchange reaffirmed that not only is Venezuela a thriving democracy, but also that free speech is flourishing. | page 2 Venezuela v. US No, it’s not a battle be- tween the two governments, it’s a soccer match! The Ven- ezuelan soccer team, nick- named “Vinotinto” for its red wine-colored jerseys, travels this week to Arizona for a friendly match against the US men’s team at the University of Phoenix Sta- dium in Glendale, Arizona. The game will take place Saturday, January 21 at 7pm MT (9pm EST). Members of the Venezu- elan team met Monday at the Maiquetia airport outside of Caracas to travel to the US, where they will practice pri- or to the game. The Vinotinto will be joined by Venezuelan for- ward Alejandro Moreno, who has played in US Major League Soccer for a decade. The players began train- ing last week in the city of Puerto La Cruz, where they established the groundwork for their encounter with the US. “The coach told me to play hard, up front, and take ad- vantage of my potential to approach the goal”, said for- ward Emilio Rentería. After facing the US in Phoe- nix, the Vinotinto goes on to Houston, Texas, for a match against Mexico’s national team. Chavez turns annual speech into democratic debate Consulate closed amidst threats the Venezuelan government has temporarily and administratively shut down its Consular operations in Miami after diplomatic staff received threats and harassment from local anti- Chavez groups. The closure also comes in response to the Obama administration’s decision to expel the Consul General of Venezuela in Miami, Livia Acosta Noguera. The expulsion came after Spanish- language network Univision aired an unsubstantiated report implicating Acosta Noguera in an alleged terror plot to attack the cyber infrastructure of the US government. Violent anti- Chavez groups in Miami called for the Consul’s expulsion and further investigation into Venezuelan diplomats in the US. | page 3 Economy Venezuela’s economy On the rise Economic growth during 2012 may reach over 5% according to finance experts. | page 4 Health The dangers of breast implants A major recall of silicone implants is affecting the nation of “beauty queens”.| page 5 Politics Armed Forces under attack Venezuela’s new Minister of Defense has been falsely accused of aiding terrorism.| page 6 The artillery of ideas | 2 | Impact N o ʙnÊUÊFriday, January 20, 2012 While presenting his annual speech to the nation last Friday, the Venezuelan head of state surprised his audience once again by actively engaging opposition legislators in a vibrant and open debate T/ COI P/ Presidential Press D uring a speech that covered a range of important social and economic topics, Ven- ezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced last Friday his inten- tions to create a new social pro- gram to deal specifically with the question of insecurity in the South American nation. The revelation came as part of Chavez’s yearly appearance in front of the country’s legislative body, the National Assembly, in a review of 2011’s activities simi- lar to the State of the Union Ad- dress given by presidents in the United States. “I’m proposing the creation of a new Great Mission for security. We’re going to see if we can take these important steps to coordi- nate activity between the central government, the investigative police, the National Bolivarian Police, the state security bod- ies, the municipalities and the media”, the socialist leader said. Chavez was in part responding to comments made by opposition legislator Juan Carlos Caldera, who engaged with the Venezue- lan President during his speech. Caldera, who partly represents the impoverished neighborhood of Petare in Caracas, known for its high crime, asked President Chavez to consider increasing resources for more police and law enforcement equipment, such as vehicles, to be allocated for the metropolitan area. The Venezuelan head of state re- sponded positively, acknowledg- ing Caldera’s genuine concern and respectful tone when inter- rupting his discourse. “Thank you Juan Carlos”, Chavez said. “I will talk with my cabinet about increasing re- sources to fight crime even more than we are already doing”. Pointing out that the problem of violence in the Latin Ameri- can country began well before his government came to power, Chavez recognized the neces- sity to continue addressing the issue on a multiple fronts. “These are themes that have become cultural and for that reason the battle is that much more difficult and it involves all of us”, he said. Apart from the theme of pub- lic safety, the head of state also touched on the issue of political autonomy and gave a detailed summary of the gains made by Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolu- tion over the past decade. “If there’s one thing that this Revolution has achieved, it’s a new national independence”, he declared, drawing attention to the government’s success in bringing Venezuela’s oil industry under greater public control. As such, the former Lieuten- ant Colonel pointed out that transnational corporations that only paid 1 percent of their profits to the nation must now contribute 33 percent and are obliged to enter into minority partnerships with the state oil company PDVSA. Similarly, Chavez recounted, the government has made great strides in its development of the productive potential of the Ori- noco Belt - home to the largest oil reserves in the world. The massive region of central Venezuela, he explained, had only been considered valuable for ex- port of bitumen until his admin- istration in 2011 proved the exis- tence of some 297 billion barrels of extra heavy crude in the belt. MAJOR POVERTY REDUCTION With respect to social indica- tors and poverty reduction, the head of the United Socialist Par- ty of Venezuela (PSUV) spoke of the more than $468 billion dollars that his government has invested in social spending over the past 13 years, a 400 percent increase in what was spent in the years previous to his admin- istration. General poverty has been re- duced from 43.9 percent in 1998 to 26.7 percent in 2011 while extreme poverty has seen a de- crease from 17.1 percent to 7 per- cent in the same period. “We have to continue this trend. Although there is still a great deal to do, only by continuing as we are will we be able to make amends for the great social needs of the Chavez turns annual address Into democratic debate people that had accumulated over the past 100 years”, he said. GROWING ECONOMY The Venezuelan President also touched on economic growth and mentioned the fact that the nation’s GDP grew by 4 percent in 2011, double the expectations of most forecasts. “This year, we’re aiming for no less than 4 or 5 percent. I’m calling on all sectors of the coun- try to work hard”, he declared. Chavez pointed out, additional- ly, that Venezuela’s national debt represents a manageable 23 per- cent of its GDP, a far cry from the 70 percent under former govern- ments and a great deal less than many countries “whose debt is 1.5 times its GDP”, he noted. In terms of challenges that the government must confront in the coming year, the head of state cited Venezuela’s high inflation rate, which he consid- ered to be an “inherited” and “structural” problem. OPPOSITION INTERRUPTIONS One opposition congressmem- ber, Alfonso Marquina from the Accion Democratica party, re- peatedly interrupted President Chavez during his speech and even held paper signs up to get his attention. “Ok Marquina”, said Chavez at one point, “lets focus the camera’s on Marquina and his sign to see what he has to say”. The opposition legisla- tor held a sign referring to high inflation, to which President Chavez responded by pointing out that while inflation may still be high, it was much higher un- der previous governments. He reminded the Venezuelan congress that inflation in prior governments reached as high as 100 percent during the presidency of Rafael Caldera in the 1990s, and the median inflation during the government of Carlos Andres Per- ez surpassed 45%. Nonetheless, Chavez implored his colleagues to continue making strides to reduce the current rate of 22 percent. “We have to buckle down and as much as our GDP grows, we need to fight against inflation”, he stated. During his speech, which lasted the better part of 9 hours, the Venezuelan President also reported the construction of 146 thousand homes in 2011, the advances made in univer- sity enrollment which place the country fifth in the world in this category, and the 155 percent in- crease in free public health care access over the past decade. Chavez also spoke out against the nation’s conservative oppo- sition for its refusal to appreci- ate a single social benefit that his administration has brought to the people since coming to power in 1998. “Recognize something, even if it’s small. It’s really difficult for you to recognize anything”, he said. He also responded to criti- cisms from opposition presiden- tial candidate and National As- sembly member Maria Corina Machado, who called Chavez a “thief” after the Venezuelan President allowed her a brief intervention during his speech. She accused his government of “expropriating” private prop- erty from the nation’s upper classes, comparing it to “rob- bery”. The President defended his redistributive policies and turned the tables on those who continue to defend the interests of the country’s wealthy . “I think we’ve been re-appro- priating”, Chavez asserted. “Here, the ones who had everything ex- propriated from them over and over again have been the Ven- ezuelan people who lost even the smallest property”, he declared. N o ʙnÊUÊFriday, January 20, 2012 Politics | 3 | The artillery of ideas Groups of self-exiled Venezuelans in Miami pressured the Obama administration to take action against Venezuelan diplomats in the US, but complained once they were left with no local representation T/ COI P/ Agencies T his week, the Venezuelan govern- ment followed through on a commit- ment by President Hugo Chavez to withdraw its personnel from the coun- try’s consulate in Miami after diplomatic staff suffered increased “threats and in- timidation” by groups with terrorist ties based in Southern Florida. The closure of one Venezuela’s largest diplomatic missions comes just days af- ter the US government expelled the South American nation’s Miami-based Consul General, Livia Acosta Noguera, with no formal justification. CLOSURE IN MIAMI In his annual address to the National Assembly issued late last week, Venezue- lan President Hugo Chavez announced to lawmakers, and the millions of viewers watching live on television, that "Foreign Minister Nicolas (Maduro) recommend- ed we close the consulate (in Miami)" in response to the expulsion of Venezuelan diplomat Livia Acosta Noguera and the ensuing threats issued against her per- son and diplomatic staff. “That’s just what we’ll do”, Chavez said firmly. “We’ll close it, and there will no longer be a consulate in Miami”. The de- cision, which took many by surprise, was made instead of responding “tit for tat” to the US government by expelling a US diplomat from Venezuela, a traditional act in diplomacy. The closure of the consulate comes just days after the US State Department had declared Venezuela’s Consul in Miami a persona non grata based on accusations made in a highly speculative documenta- ry titled, “The Iranian Threat”. In the re- port, US-based Spanish-language network Univision claimed Acosta used a 2008 dip- lomatic mission in Mexico to plan “cyber attacks” with Cuba and Iran aimed at dis- rupting the computer systems of the White House, FBI, CIA, and nuclear reactors. While Univision failed to provide any substantiated evidence to back its claims After threats, Venezuela Shuts down consulate in Miami against Venezuela’s top diplomat in Mi- ami, and instead based its investigation on hearsay, propaganda and uncorrobo- rated (and illegal) recordings, it succeed- ed in increasing anti-Venezuela senti- ment in Florida and Washington. According to Sergio Rodriguez Gelfen- stein, professor of international relations at the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Relations’ Institute for Higher Diplomatic Studies, the expulsion of Acosta occurs, “in a city with very particular connota- tions” in US politics given that Miami “is the capital of all counterrevolutionary Cuban exiles”. Gelfenstein recalled that Acosta is not the first Venezuelan diplo- mat to suffer political reprisal by the US government. In late 2009, Venezuelan Ambassador to the US Bernardo Alvarez was forced to leave Washington after Caracas deemed Larry Palmer, who made intervening statements about Venezuela’s internal affairs, an “unacceptable” ambassador- nominee of the Obama administration. Three years earlier, the Bush adminis- tration ousted Venezuelan political advi- sor Jenny Figueredo, considered “second in command” at the country’s Embassy in Washington, after Caracas sent home US military personnel found to be con- ducting surveillance operations and es- pionage in the country. According to Gelfenstein, the diplomat- ic reprisals are “coercive actions” aimed at punishing countries with domestic and foreign policies “considered unac- ceptable by the US (government)”. President Chavez, who called the ex- pulsion of Acosta “a demonstration of the prepotency of a ridiculous empire”, later affirmed that attacks on the Venezuelan diplomat and her colleagues in the US are part of ongoing, coordinated campaigns against the Venezuelan government led by “the ultra-right wing in Miami”. The first public announcement of Acosta’s expulsion was made by Roger Noriega, a long-standing spokesman for extremist political forces dedicated to demonizing Cuba, Nicaragua and Ven- ezuela, amongst other nations with left- leaning governments. Noriega, who served as US Ambas- sador to the Organization of American States (OAS) as well as Assistant Secre- tary of State for Western Hemisphere Af- fairs under President George W. Bush, currently holds no formal position in the US government. However, it was through Noriega’s personal Twitter account that news of the Acosta expulsion was first made public, evidencing his close ties to the current administration. After the news made it into national media headlines, Washington confirmed the decision. BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY In a statement released on Monday, Venezuela’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed and elaborated on the decision to pull its consular staff from the coun- try’s consulate in Miami. According to the official statement, the Venezuelan government recently “veri- fied with extreme concern the increase in threats against Venezuelan consular personnel in Miami, Florida” and con- siders the expulsion of Acosta “an unfair and immoral measure that demonstrates the submission of Washington’s agenda to extremist and violent political sectors in the state of Florida”. Since the expulsion, “Venezuelan dip- lomatic and consular personnel have been threatened and intimidated, and in light of the criminal and terrorist nature of individuals and organizations that the US government harbors in the state of Florida, this places them in real, serious and imminent danger”. As a result, the statement read, and “in order to preserve their physical and moral integrity, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has de- cided to return its consular personnel in Miami to Caracas”. Florida is home to numerous violent extremists and organizations founded by Cuban exiles and their allies in Wash- ington. These organizations, many con- sidered terrorist for their use of bombs, assassination and other aggressive tactics to try and overthrow the Cuban government, include the Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU), the Cuban Nationalist Move- ment (MNC), the Cuban National Lib- eration Front (FLNC), the Cuban Anti- Communist League (LAC), Omega 7, and Alpha 66. During the past few years, Venezuelans fleeing justice in their own country have made a home in Miami, forming organi- zations similar to their Cuban counter- parts. Many of these “Venezuelan exile” groups are run by individuals who ex- ecuted the April 2002 coup d’etat against President Chavez and subsequent desta- bilization attempts, including a lengthy illegal shut down of the oil industry in late 2002, the bombings of Spanish and Colombian embassies in 2003 and the use of Colombian paramilitaries for an assas- sination attempt against the Venezuelan head of state in 2004. After the broadcast of the Univision report, the Organization of “Politically Persecuted” Venezuelans Abroad, run by Venezuelan fugitive and former mili- tary officer Jose Antonio Colina, charged with bombing the Spanish and Colombi- an embassies in Caracas in 2003, sent a letter to the US Congress requesting the expulsion of the Venezuelan Consul and an investigation into all of Venezuela’s diplomatic missions in the US. Colina’s organization also led several violent pro- tests outside the Venezuelan Consulate in Miami, directly threatening the lives of staffers. On Tuesday, the US State Department confirmed it had received information about “security concerns” at the Venezu- elan Consulate in Miami. After President Chavez announced the temporary administrative closure of the Consulate in Miami, Colina and other self-exiled Venezuelans complained they would no longer have convenient access to consular transactions. The artillery of ideas | 4 | Economy N o ʙnÊUÊFriday, January 20, 2012 As the Venezuelan governments invests more in social programs and policies to stimulate jobs and national production, the economy grows steadily T/ COI P/ Agencies V enezuelan Finance and Planning Minister, Jorge Giordani, reported last week that it's “perfectly possible” for the South American nation's GDP to grow by 5 percent in 2012 as a result of the current govern- ment's social spending and hous- ing construction plans. “The first motor of Venezu- ela's economy is oil and the sec- ond is construction. The latter took off in 2011 and is not going to diminish [in 2012]”, Giordani said during a special program broadcast on state television highlighting the country's eco- The Venezuelan head of state responded to State Department remarks threatening to sanction Latin American countries that welcomed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad earlier this month T/ Rachael Boothroyd P/ Presidential Press V enezuelan President Hugo Chavez has criticized the US State Department’s “absurd” decision to threaten Latin Amer- ican countries with sanctions should they engage in trade with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Venezuela expects greater economic growth in 2012 Chavez: US threats to sanction Latin America are “absurd” nomic advances over the past 12 months. The Minister’s statement comes as Venezuela closes 2011 with economic growth of 4 per- cent, double what was forecast for the national budget. In a statement released by his office last Monday, Gior- dani pointed out that home construction grew overall by 10 percent as a result of the Chavez administration’s new social program, Mission Hous- ing Venezuela. Last May, the Venezuelan President launched the new initiative, setting as his govern- ment's goal the construction of 3 million homes by 2019. More than 145 thousand new subsidized residences were handed over to citizens in 2011 and that number is set to in- crease annually until the figure of 3 million is achieved. “While the [economic] cri- sis is hurting countries in Eu- rope and the United States, we have retaken the path towards growth”, the Finance Ministry’s statement reads. Giordani also pointed out that the creation of the country’s National Development Fund, which takes surplus revenues generated by the state oil com- pany PDVSA and directs them towards social programs, has been a keystone of the nation's economic progress. “President Chavez has placed human beings as his priority and the economic indicators demon- strate a better quality of life. The economy is worthless if it doesn't have as its objective the welfare of human beings”, he said. ECONOMIC & COMMERCIAL ADVANCES In other economic news, Min- ister of Science, Technology and Intermediary Industry, Ricardo Menendez, highlighted the fact that Venezuela's manufacturing sector grew to 3.8 percent of the nation’s GDP in 2011 while com- mercial activity represented 5.8 percent of overall output. Menendez also informed that tourism in Venezuela saw a growth of 12 percent while infrastructure and transpor- tation investments by the gov- ernment reached more than $1 billion. $470 million were used to modernize the nations ports, the Minister said, and more than 2 million affordable cel- lular phones were produced by the state owned manufac- turing companies Vetelca and Orinoquia. Matching this growth has been an increase of 111 percent in the distribution of subsidized and non subsidized food prod- ucts through state-run commer- cial outlets. In total, nearly 15 million people have benefited from the government's points of sale, buying some 2 million tons of foodstuffs, the Minister de- tailed. "2011 represents the recovery of our economy", Menendez de- clared definitively. Chavez made the comments following a State Department briefing last week, in which the body’s spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, warned Latin Ameri- can countries that they would be liable to US sanctions if they were to use Iranian banks or purchase Iranian oil. “If [decisions behind closed doors] are going to take those countries in the direction of buy- ing more Iranian crude oil and making more use of the banks, then they make themselves vul- nerable to US sanctions”, said Nuland, who added that the countries in question wouldn’t have “any doubt that this is not something that the US would think was helpful to the overall global policy”. “We have...with a number of these [Latin American] coun- tries...difficulties that go well beyond this [and] that need to be worked through”, concluded Nuland. Presidents Rafael Correa (Ec- uador), Raul Castro (Cuba), Dan- iel Ortega (Nicaragua) and Hugo Chavez all met with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadine- jad last week as he conducted a short tour of Latin America. During his visit to Caracas the Iranian President signed vari- ous bilateral agreements with Venezuela in industry, science and technology, and politics. Addressing viewers on state television channel VTV, Chavez criticized Nuland’s statements and cited them as proof of con- tinued US neo-colonialism in the region. “This decision is an absur-’s the same absurd his- tory of the US trying to look at us like their backyard and wanting to keep controlling the destinies of Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and the whole of Latin America”, said the Venezuelan president. “We are free countries...The United States will end up being what Mao (Tse Tung) said, they will become a paper empire and we; steel tigers”, he added. In May 2011, the US govern- ment sanctioned Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDV- SA, for selling two shipments of a gas product to Iran. The Ven- ezuelan government rejected the sanctions and called them a “violation of sovereignty”. N o ʙnÊUÊFriday, January 20, 2012 Health | 5 | The artillery of ideas T/ VTV T he levels of malnutrition in children have decreased in recent years from 7.6% to 2.91%, thanks to food-focused missions and to the increase in access to subsidized food and drink. Growth levels in Venezuelan children have also increased, explained Executive Director of Ven- ezuela’s National Institute of Nutrition, Marilyn Di Luca. According to official data, the achievements of the last thirteen years in food securi- ty have increased the caloric intake of the Venezuelan peo- ple by 130%, currently at 790 kilocalories. Di Luca stated that social programs like “AgroVen- ezuela mission, as well as the network of supply cen- ters Mercal and Pdval, the food houses, the education campaigns and the access to unique health services, have all significantly contributed to these achievements”. The official said the pro- cess, “launched thanks to the political will of the govern- ment and President Chavez”, is endorsed by institutions such as Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Food and Agriculture Orga- nization of the United Nations (FAO). She stressed that even though the levels of malnu- trition in children had de- creased in recent years from 7.6% to 2.91% - which rep- resents a reduction of 72%, there would be no rest until the index reaches zero. Finally, she highlighted the fact that the “implemen- tation of a set of compre- hensive policies, which go further than merely better- ing the quality of food, now more accesible at subsidized prices, have influenced the increase in the growth lev- els of Venezuelan children, who until 1997 registered a growth level of 0.8 cm, con- siderably lower than the 1.8 cm registered today”. In a land obsessed with beauty queens and cosmetic surgery, health risks abound T/ COI P/ Agencies H ospitals and health clinics around Venezuela are pre- paring to receive and assist thousands of women who have had operations involving the faulty silicone breast implants sold by the French company Poly Implant Prosthesis (PIP). The Health Ministry reports that some 30 thousand women in the South American country have bought the PIP implants - cosmetic breast augmentations cited for high rates of rupture and a composition of industrial rather than medical grade silicone. The Venezuelan government has committed to covering the costs of removing implants that have burst but will not be sub- sidizing replacements, officials inform. “Aesthetic surgery is not a practice of [public] hospi- tals, but if there is a health risk, the implants will be removed immediately”, Health Minister Eugenia Sader said. One Venezuelan woman, Rita de Martino, had her implant rupture after her doctor recom- mended the PIP company when she sought cosmetic surgery at age 21. “It was really difficult for me on a psychological level because I was afraid that this liquid had spread and that I had cancer, but they did a biopsy and didn't find anything”, she explained. Although speculation that the industrial silicone could be cancerous, no evidence that the material is an emergency health risk has been forthcoming from researchers. Minister Sader called for calm and encouraged women to continue with regular check ups to review the condi- tion of their implants and seek attention if they break. “To those women [with the PIP implants], there needs to be calm, the implants do not cause damage unless they burst. They have a defect that can provoke their rupture which would gen- erate pain and would require their immediate removal”, the health official said. Linda Rincon, member of the Venezuelan Plastic, Reconstruc- tive and Maxillofacial Surgery Society, explained that the possi- bilities of rupture of the French implants are many times higher than the industry norm. “With the prosthesis of other companies, the possibilities of rupture are 1 percent while those of PIP are 7 percent. This is because the material used is highly corrosive and can cause the implant to deteriorate and break”, she said. In hospitals around the na- tion, Venezuelan health profes- sionals are beginning to receive inquiries from women asking for information and requesting check-ups to ensure they are not at risk. “Five women have come for- ward voluntarily for an oncolog- ical check-up in order to discard the chance of cancer. For this reason, we've decided to put to- gether a team of experts to give multi-disciplinary attention to these women”, said Jenny Cedeno, Director of the Univer- sity Hospital of Maracaibo in the Western state of Zulia. “Our work will be focused on diagnostics and health certifica- tion as well as how to proceed with respect to the removal or replacement of the implants. For that, however, we are wait- ing for instructions and the pro- tocol that will be given by Min- ister Eugenia Sader”, Cedeno said. THE RISKS OF SURGERY Use of the PIP implants was banned in Venezuela in 2010 when the first alerts regarding their safety were released by the French government. “By this time, there had been 33,000 dis- tributed in the country”, Sader explained. Illegal sale of the prosthesis may have continued, however, the Health Minister informed, as unscrupulous doctors take advantage of the high demand for breast augmentations in a nation where it is estimated some 40,000 such surgeries take place every year. In a culture that considers its beauty queens to be national heroes, the scandal of the faulty PIP implants is, in some ways, only a mild manifestation of the dangers represented by Venezu- ela's cult of the aesthetic. For other women who have felt the pressure to pay for an aes- thetic operation, the price of the surgery has been much higher than a ruptured implant. Such is the case of Elizabeth Ve- loz, a 23-year old student from the city of Cabimas, who for 22,000 bolivars (approx. $5,000) sub- jected herself to a “combo” sur- gery last November that included breast and gluteal augmentation as well as liposuction. The doctor who performed the surgery, Eleazar Urdaneta, had been denounced for the death of a patient 9 months earlier and multiple other mal practice com- plaints, but had been allowed to continue to exercise his profes- sion freely. Elizabeth never researched the history of Urdaneta and to the great sadness of her friends and family became the second mortal victim of the doctor who was said to be working out of a dilapidated clinic more similar in appearance to a bakery than a health center. The 23-year old "had turned into an addict of her physical appearance", a friend told the Panorama newspaper after the incident. Following the death of Eliza- beth, the Venezuelan Attorney General’s Office in the state of Zulia issued an arrest warrant for Urdaneta and his anesthe- siologist Samuel Ochoa for the death of their first victim, the lawyer Ysmelda Venegas. “I’m asking God that justice be done... and just as I’m suf- fering now, I know that other mothers are also suffering for their daughters who have lost their lives... May God have mercy on this doctor”, said Elisa Rondon, mother of Elizabeth. Urdaneta and Ochoa have fled from authorities and have yet to be apprehended. Venezuelan diet sees 130% Increase In caloric intake The artillery of ideas | 6 | Politics N o ʙnÊUÊFriday, January 20, 2012 “We are a pacifist country. We do not want war, we want all wars around the world to stop”. – President Hugo Chavez T/ Eva Golinger P/ Presidential Press D uring an event that in- cluded the transfer of man- date of several members of the high military command on Tuesday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said changes to the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) are important for strengthening democracy. Chavez was referring specifical- ly to General Henry Rangel Sil- va, who was sworn in this week as the new Minister of Defense. “May the decent and patriotic officials of our Bolivarian Armed Forces give their full support to our new Minister. Changes in the National Bolivarian Armed Forces are important for our democratic homeland”, declared the President. Rangel Silva’s designation as the South American nation’s new Minister of Defense has been hyped up and distorted in T/ Mercedes Chacin F ourth generation warfare has been brewing for a long time on this planet and it has already won a number of bat- tles. It began when it was said in the sixties that Fidel Castro ate children. So, Cuba had to be invaded. Iraq had to be invaded to look for weapons that they already knew didn’t exist. Af- ghanistan had to be invaded to save Afghani women from the Taliban who made them wear unusual burkas. Libya had to be invaded to save Libyans from a monster with forty years in power. Syria must be invaded for the same reason. Prefabri- cated invasions, made in USA. Now Maria Corina Machado [opposition presidential candi- date] says: against communism, grassroots capitalism. Her three minutes of “fame” in the Nation- al Assembly [during President Chavez’s annual report] were full of anti-communism. Com- munists steal, kill people, eat kids...fried and marinated kids or cooked in their own sauce! Did anyone ever believe this? Yes, millions believed it, our grandparents believed it. Maybe they aren’t saying that Chavez eats children yet. There are a lot of photos of him with them. But he steals hotels. He doesn’t expropriate them, he steals them. It’s the same lie, just less bloody. But be careful; don’t forget that the communists are coming for you. Chavez is com- ing to take everything from you, to steal your soul. Maria Machado is the Violeta Chamorro [ex Nicaraguan president who won the 1990 elections with the support of the US] of the “gringos” in Ven- ezuela. Her discourse makes an impression on a certain sector of Venezuelan society that lives “defending” the cars they don’t have, the property they don’t have. And for another sector of society that has everything and no one has taken it from them, the real problem is that a “zam- bo” [a person of mixed African and indigenous origin] governs them. “Damn monkey, damn president of the poor”. And it doesn’t matter that Chavez hands out apartments and that he “gives away” properties and he doesn’t steal them. And it doesn’t matter because the truth is it’s the same lie used against Afghans, Libyans, and Iraqis. They are coming for our petroleum, they - yes them, - are coming for our soul. So in the National Assembly, during the Annual Report of President Chavez, there was the arrogance, fascism, racism, and the haughtiness of the oligar- chy. There was the conceit of a certain middle class. There was all the Gringo propaganda up and running. Be careful of the reds. There were the centuries of oppression trying to take the stand. There was concentrated distain in upheld chin. And long live the Zambo. That’s what they can’t stand. That the Zambo is on top and the poor and the humble are on top. There were almost 70,000 words of dignity and independence [in Chavez’s annual address], celebrating a Venezuela of people. Venezuela’s Armed Forces under fire by Washington Racism in the discourse against Chavez media outlets throughout Ven- ezuela, Colombia and the United States. In 2008, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a division of the Treasury De- partment, included Rangel Silva on its list of foreigners alleg- edly involved in drug traffick- ing and/or terrorism under the “Kingpin Act”. However, no evi- dence was presented to support this serious claim. OFAC also included the head of Venezuela’s military intelli- gence, General Hugo Carvajal, and then Minister of Interior and Justice, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, on the same list with Rangel Silva, who at the time oversaw Venezuela’s civilian in- telligence agency, SEBIN. The inclusion of the three heads of Venezuelan intelli- gence was largely viewed as an attack against the oil nation’s se- curity apparatus, at a time when the US government was consid- ering placing Venezuela on its list of “state sponsors of terror- ism”. The allegations against Rangel Silva, Carvajal and Rodriguez Chacin, were based on unsubstantiated data from laptop computers acquired by the Colombian government dur- ing the March 2008 attack on a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) camp. Using the laptop content, Washington claimed the three Venezuelan officials had “materially as- sisted the narcotics trafficking activities of the FARC, a narco- terrorist organization”. INTERPOL later determined the information on the comput- ers could not be authenticated nor could the original source of the data be verified. Colombia’s highest court also ruled that the laptop data could not be used as legal evidence against anyone. Nonetheless, the famous FARC laptops have been used by both the conservative Colombian gov- ernment, Washington and some media to tarnish Venezuela’s image and accuse it of compli- ance with drug trafficking and terrorism. The FARC is consid- ered a terrorist group only by Colombia and the United States. No corroborating evidence has ever been presented to dem- onstrate Rangel Silva’s or other members of the Venezuelan gov- ernment’s involvement with the FARC or any illicit activities. President Chavez did hold nego- tiations with the FARC on sev- eral occasions under the direct authorization of the Colombian government. His involvement secured the release of several hostages the FARC had held for years, including Ingrid Betan- court and three US military of- ficers. On Wednesday, US State De- partment spokeswoman Victo- ria Nuland warned “our con- cerns about Rangel Silva are well known and of long stand- ing”. But those “concerns” have yet to be substantied by any le- gally credible evidence. Rangel Silva has adamantly denied the charges against him. No formal complaints have been brought against him within Venezuela or by Colombia, nor has any other independent evi- dence been presented to link him to any illegal activities. Rangel Silva has been a close ally and collaborator of Presi- dent Chavez for over 20 years. He trained with him as a younger soldier and participated in the Chavez-led military rebellion against the murderous and cor- rupt government of Carlos An- dres Perez on February 4, 1992. The new Minister of Defense has held high-level positions during the Chavez administration, in- cluding head of the intelligence agency SEBIN and Commander of the Strategic Operational Command, which oversees all of Venezuela’s Armed Forces op- erational activities. At the time of his designation as Minister of Defense, he was the highest ranking officer in the country. N o ʙnÊUÊFriday, January 20, 2012 Analysis | 7 | The artillery of ideas Opposition candidate Pablo Perez: Representing the past As the Venezuelan opposition prepares for primary elections in February 2012 to choose a candidate to run against Hugo Chavez in the October 2012 presidential elections, we provide exposés on who’s-who in the anti-Chavez camp T/ COI P/ Agencies O pposition hopeful Pablo Martin Perez Alvarez, more commonly referred to as Pablo Perez, is the brain- child of fugitive opposition poli- tician Manuel Rosales. Having fled the country in 2009 to avoid charges of corruption, Rosales announced the Perez candidacy via Skype, from his self-imposed exile in Peru, on August 17, 2011. Suggesting a Perez presidency would allow him to return to Venezuela, Rosales affirmed that Perez, “is our North and the hope for all those of us who suffer”. Perez, who owes his politi- cal career to Rosales, has been Governor of Zulia since 2008. In charge of a border state with numerous socio-economic is- sues associated with neighbor- ing Colombia, Perez is using his remaining time in office to gar- ner favor within the Venezuelan opposition and secure the presi- dential nomination of the Mesa de Unidad Democratica (MUD), or Democratic Unity Roundtable in English. Scheduled for February 12, 2012, the opposition primaries are part of a US-backed strat- egy to bring together opposition forces in an attempt to defeat Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in presidential elections set for October 7, 2012. The Perez candidacy, however, is marred by the fact that that Rosales tried the same strategy in the country’s previous presi- dential election (December 2006) and was easily defeated by the widely-popular socialist Presi- dent. Chavez won that election by some 3 million votes, obtain- ing 7,161,637 (62.89%) votes to Ro- sales’ 4,196,329 (36.85%). President Chavez, who is ex- pected to sweep the elections, has committed to “deepen, push forward, and consolidate” the Bolivarian Revolution’s plat- form of ‘21st Century Socialism’ during his next presidential term (2013-2019). PROMISING THE PAST Son of former Democratic Ac- tion (AD) lawmaker Pablo Perez Herrera, Pablo Perez Jr. was born and raised in a “Fouth Republic” (the political period in Venezu- ela from 1958-1998) household. Known in Zulia as an ‘AD Fam- ily,’ political life for the Perez’s is said to have begun after Pablo’s grandmother, Amalia Herrera de Perez, helped organize AD’s first clandestine bases of support against the dictatorship of Mar- cos Perez Jimenez (1952-1958). Speaking to reporters in Au- gust 2011, Perez Jr. jokingly af- firmed that his “first diapers were changed in AD headquarters”. Reports indicate that the Perez family maintained close person- al ties to former AD President Carlos Andres Perez (1974-1979, 1989-1993), and that Carlos An- dres was the godfather of one of Perez’s brothers, named Carlos Andres Perez Alvarez. Former president Carlos An- dres Perez is one of AD’s most prized politicians, though his at- tempts to implement neo-liberal reforms provoked a massive pop- ular revolt (El Caracazo) to which his government responded with fierce repression. Carlos Andres spent the six years following his second presidency under house arrest for fraud and misuse of public funds and he later left the country, living in the Dominican Republic and the United States before passing away last year in Miami, Florida. PABLO POLITICIAN Before he became Governor of Zulia, Pablo Perez studied law at the Universidad de Zulia (LUZ) and is said to have spent most of his time engaged in both student politics and sports. While at the university, Perez was openly supported by AD’s student movement at a time in which numerous factions of 4th Republic parties were vying for control of university politics. Before graduating in 1994, Perez was named AD’s Regional Di- rector for Universities. Immediately after graduating, Perez became a staff member of then Mayor of Maracaibo, capi- tal of Zulia State, Manuel Rosa- les. Among other tasks he was assigned by Rosales, Perez was made chief legal advisor to the Maracaibo Municipal Council. In 1999, just as the Bolivarian Revolution was delivering on its promise to found the 5th Repub- lic (1999 - present), Rosales, Per- ez, and numerous other profes- sional AD politicians broke from the party and established their own, regional force. Named Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT), or A New Time in English, and heavily subsidized by US agencies, the newly-founded UNT helped Ro- sales win the governorship of Zulia one year later. Governor Rosales, apprecia- tive of Perez’s loyalties, made the young politician his Private Secretary. In 2004, Perez made his first attempt at winning office in the mayoral campaign for Maracai- bo. After trying, and failing, to defeat Chavez-backed Giancarlo Di Martino, Perez decided to wait out the Rosales governor- ship and, in 2008, was elected Governor of Zulia. Perez’s cam- paign was backed by UNT, AD, and the Social Christian Demo- crats (COPEI), among others. Just months into his term, Perez lost his closest political ally after Manuel Rosales fled the country to avoid charges he used his time as governor to misappropriate public funds for his own personal benefit, using these moneies, for example, to make illegal land purchases. THE CANDIDATE As governor of Zulia, Perez has been accused of helping Colombian paramilitary forces enter the country as part of de- stabilization plans aimed at top- pling the Chavez government. Earlier this year, neighboring Apure State Governor Ramon Carrizalez accused Perez of us- ing his role in office to “make frequent trips into and out of Colombia” and “making agree- ments to bring in paramilitaries to sow anxiety and violence in the region”. These claims was first made public by former Colombian in- telligence chief, Rafael Garcia, who accused former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and members of the Venezuelan op- position of using “paramilitary forces to conspire against the Chavez government”. According to Jose Pereira, Regional Coordinator of the Bo- livarian Circles along the Vene- zuela-Colombia border, Gover- nor Perez has “tried to force the Chavez government into mili- tarizing the zone and creating a state of war…bringing about bloodshed so as to point fingers later down the line”. Though Perez denies any wrongdoing, Zulia has seen a dramatic increase in paramili- tary violence since he took office just three years ago, including an increased presence of the feared, Colombia-based paramilitary group, Las Aguilas Negras, or The Black Eagles in English. Largely unknown in national politics before becoming gover- nor, Perez won a great deal of favor in opposition circles after he helped the MUD win numer- ous seats in last year’s parlia- mentary elections. Using the governorship to campaign for MUD candidates, Perez helped the opposition take 13 of the 15 seats available to Zulia in the National Assembly. Since announcing his bid for the opposition’s presidential ticket, the Rosales brainchild turned governor has received several important endorsements from within the country’s anti- Chavez minority. Apart from the obvious support of his own, UNT Party, Perez is now officially backed by both the 4th Republic’s AD and COPEI. A publication of the Fundacion Correo del Orinoco ª Editor·in·Chiel Eva Golinger ª ßraµhic Besiqn Arisabel Yaya Silva ª Fress Fundación Imprenta de la Cultura The artillery of ideas ENGLISH EDITION Friday | January 20, 2012 | Nº 98 | Caracas | Faul Craiq Roberts was Assistant Secretary ol Treasury durinq the Reaqan Administration and is a lormer editor and columnist ol the wall Street Journal. S ince my January 11 column and the news alert posted on January 14 (available at more confirmation that Wash- ington is moving the world toward a dangerous war has appeared. The Obama regime is using its Ministry of Propa- ganda, a.k.a., the US media, to spread the story that President Obama, Pentagon chief Panetta, and other high US officials are delivering strong warnings to Israel not to attack Iran. For someone as familiar with Washington as I am, I recognize these reports for what they are. They are Br’er Rabbit telling Br’er Fox “please don’t throw me in the briar patch”. If you don’t know the Uncle Remus stories, you have missed a lot. Br’er Rabbit was born and raised in the briar patch. What these “leaked” stories of Washington’s warnings and protests to Israel are all about is to avoid Washington’s respon- sibility for the war Washington has prepared. If the war gets out of hand, and if Russia and China intervene or nukes start flying, Washington wants the blame to rest on Israel, and Israel seems willing to accept the blame. Nikolai Patrushev, who heads Russia’s Security Council, has apparently been deceived by Washington’s manipulation of the media. According to the In- terfax news agency, Patrushev condemned Israel for pushing the US towards war with Iran. You get the picture. The help- less Americans. They are being bullied by Israel into acquiesc- ing to a dangerous war. Other- wise, no more campaign contri- butions. The facts are different. If Washington did not want war with Iran it would not have pro- vided the necessary weapons to Israel. It would not have de- ployed thousands of US troops to Israel, with a view toward the US soldiers being killed in an Iranian response to Israel’s attack, thus “forcing” the US to enter the war. Washington would not have built a missile defense system for Israel and would not be conducting joint exercises with the Israeli mili- tary to make sure it works. If Washington did not want Israel to start the war, Wash- ington would inform the Israeli government in no uncertain words that an Israeli strike on Iran means that the US will NOT veto the UN’s denuncia- tion of Israel and the sanctions that would be placed on Israel as a war criminal state. Wash- ington would tell Israel that it is good-bye to the billions of dollars that the bilked Ameri- can taxpayers, foreclosed from their homes by fraudulent mortgages and from jobs by off- shoring, hand over by compul- sion to Israel to support Israel’’s crimes against humanity. But, of course, Washington won’t prevent the war that it so fervently desires. Neither will Washington’s NATO puppets. “Great” Britain does as it is told, subservient and occupied Germany, bank- rupt France, Italy occupied with US air bases with a government infiltrated by the CIA, bank- rupt Spain and Greece will all, in hopes of an outpouring of US dollars and devoid of any digni- ty or honor, support the new war that could end life on earth. Only Russia and China can prevent the war. Russia took the first step when the newly appointed Dep- uty Prime Minister for military affairs, Demitry Rogozin told a press conference in Brussels that Russia would regard an at- tack on Iran as “a direct threat to our security”. Washington is counting on subverting Russia’s opposition to Washington’s next war. Wash- ington can time the attack on Iran right after the March elec- tions in Russia. When Putin wins again, the treasonous Russian opposition parties, financed by the CIA, will unleash protests in the streets. The subservient and utterly corrupt Western media will denounce Putin for stealing the election. The orchestrated protests in Russia will turn vio- lent and discredit, if not prevent, any Russian response to the na- ked aggression against Iran. For Rogozin’s warning to be effective in preventing war, China needs to enter the fray. Washington is banking on Chi- na’s caution. China deliberates and never rushes into anything. China’s deliberation will serve Washington’s war. It is possible that the crazed neocon Washington govern- ment will have one more “vic- tory” before Russia and China comprehend that they are next on the extermination list. As this date cannot be far off, life on earth might expire before the unpayable debts of US and EU countries come due. Washington moves The world closer To war