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VENEZUELA: AFTER THE REFERENDUM! By MUMIA ABU-JAMAL

"The voting is over in Venezuela, and the U.S.-supported right wing lost -- badly."
VENEZUELA: AFTER THE REFERENDUM!
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[Col. Writ. 8/18/04] Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

The voting is over in Venezuela, and the U.S.-supported right wing lost -- badly.

Over 60% of Venezuelans voted to keep President Hugo Chavez in power, despite the opposition of the wealthiest segments of Venezuelan society.

Venezuelan society is one of extreme contrasts of rich and poor. Sixty-seven percent of Venezuelans live in poverty; 35% live in extreme poverty.

The opposition to Chavez came from those like owners and managers of Coca-Cola, where workers were intimidated and fired for voting against an earlier recall. The main economic supporter of the anti-Chavez movement came from -- guess where? -- the man who owns Venezuela's subsidiary of Coca-Cola, billionaire Gustavos Cisneros,
the guy who also owns the nation's largest TV network, which has been on an anti-Chavez campaign for years.

Chavez has enemies among the wealthy because he has supported using Venezuela's vast oil wealth to try and rectify the nation's staggering social problems. Some three quarters of Venezuelans are unemployed, or work on the margins in the informal economy.

Among the very wealthy, the resources of the nation should be privatized, and sent along the usual routes -- north. They are not social resources, but private ones, to be owned, and sold. They deeply oppose Chavez's plan to share the wealth.

What Chavez is trying to do is deepen a kind of social revolution among the poor, using the name and nationalist spirit of the greatest Venezuelan of them all -- Simon Bolivar -- to rally and mobilize Venezuelans for Bolivarianismo, a strong support of the nation
against the Imperialists to the North.

That's why he is being demonized in the western and corporate media. Prepare for more of it -- soon; for while the voting may be over, the battle to exploit Venezuela's natural resources, ain't.

An early American revolutionary, Tom Paine, wrote, in his 1791 classic, *Rights of Man*, about the kinds of guys who stir up conflicts in nations, for their own ends. Two hundred years later, he seemed to be talking about Americans, when he wrote:

That there are men in all countries who get their
living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels
of Nations, is as shocking as it is true; but
when those who are concerned in the government
of a country, make it their study to sow discord,
and cultivate prejudices between Nations, it
becomes the more unpardonable. [p. 6]

When Paine scribbled these words, he was probably criticizing his birthplace, England. He was always critical of what he saw as Imperial arrogance, and England's attempts to stir up enmity between America and France.

What would this radical writer, and anti-imperialist think of the American empire, with its armies in over 120 countries?

What would Paine think of the nefarious Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whose main job is to "sow discord" among nations?

What would this American revolutionary think of the Rebirth of Rome on the Potomac?

What would he think about an America that tried, unsuccessfully, to spark a coup in Venezuela several years ago, because oil companies and moneymen didn't want that country to spend its national wealth
on the nation's poor?

Would he find in Senor Presidente Chavez, and his struggle to empower the poor, an enemy, or an ally?

The U.S.has consistently treated its neighbors in South and Central America like something on the bottom of one's shoe-- as something repellent. It has treated them as Rome treated Carthage, or
Greece, or Britain.

This is not an America that Paine would recognize, or support.

In fact, if he were alive, he'd still be a revolutionary, but he'd be determined to oppose this new Empire, the Empire of Wealth and Greed -- the Empire of Capital.

[*Sources*: Alvaro Michaels, "Chavez calls for struggle against imperialism", *Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!* (August/Sept. '04), 10.; Tom Paine, *Rights of Man*. (Mineola, NY: Dover Publ.,
1999).]

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

[If you liked this column you might enjoy Mr. Jamal's latest: *WE WANT FREEDOM: A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South End Press (www.southendpress.org); Ph. #1-800-533-8478.]
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"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die. And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal
 
 


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