Caracas, September 10, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Flanked by Bolivian President Evo Morales, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned of a plan financed by the United States to derail the democratically elected government of Bolivia, including a plan to assassinate Morales, said Chavez during his weekly television program Aló Presidente.
“I hold responsible the president of the United States, George Bush, for what could happen to compañero Morales, because they are conspiring against the government, including to kill him,” he said.
However, Chavez warned, “If U.S. imperialism attacks our peoples, using their lackeys in Venezuela and Bolivia, they can be sure that we’re not going to wait with our arms crossed.”
“If that occurs,” he continued, referring to the famous phrase of revolutionary leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who called for Vietnam style guerilla war against U.S. imperialism, “we will shout with Che Guevara and then one, two, three, four, five, or 10 Vietnams will have to be created in Latin America."
“Imperialism has a plan to knock off this Indian. I put to them we have a plan also, but of course we are not going to say. Right, Evo? What is going to happen to the Bolivian oligarchy is what happened to the Venezuelan oligarchy the 12 and 13th of April , when the Venezuelan people came out to confront the tyranny, the imperialist coup. It’s best that we don’t tell more of the plan.”
Chavez’s comments came as up to 100,000 people from Bolivia’s campesino and indigenous movements began converging on Sucre for a Social Summit in defense of the Constituent Assembly. Over the past week Sucre has been wracked with violent protests aimed at disrupting the process of constitutional reform, which would provide a framework for the social inclusion of Bolivia’s long marginalized indigenous majority. Right wing opposition groups demanding that the executive and legislative powers of government be transferred from La Paz to Sucre have burned car tires and repeatedly attempted to shut down the Constituent Assembly, which as a result has called a one-month recess.
“The oligarchy that today is conspiring against Evo in Bolivia is the same oligarchy that conspired here against Venezuela, against our people, it is the same that here made a coup, driven forward and financed by the government of the United States, the same is occurring in Bolivia,” he added
While U.S. officials have repeatedly denied Chavez’s claims that Washington is attempting to overthrow him and other leftist governments in the region, Chavez said that Morales possessed documentary evidence of U.S. interference and intentions to destabilize his government.
Chavez’s claims are supported by the investigation of U.S.-Venezuelan human rights lawyer Eva Golinger, who last week published a report that documents U.S. government funding of opposition groups in both Venezuela and Bolivia.
Golinger reveals that the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), opened in Bolivia in 2004 has contracted the U.S. Company Casals & Associates Inc. (C&A) to manage US$13.3 million granted to 379 organizations, political parties, and projects in Bolivia. USAID-OTI and C&A in Bolivia have focused their efforts on combating and influencing the Constituent Assembly, and on “promoting separatism in the regions rich in natural resources, such as Santa Cruz and Cochabamba,” Golinger argues.
“The majority of the 13.3 million has been given to organizations and programs working to ‘strengthen regional governments’ with the intention of weakening the national government of Evo Morales,” she continued.
Chavez insisted, however, that Venezuela and Bolivia want peace to increase production of food and to carry out health, education, literacy, and social justice programs and pointed out that Bolivia would soon be the third country in Latin America to eradicate illiteracy after Cuba in 1961 and Venezuela in 2005.
Morales thanked Chavez for being invited to his program and said that while he r ecognized that his government was confronted by problems from various opposition groups against the Constituent Assembly and the process of constitutional reform, the majority of Bolivians are supporting the process of change for more social equality.
Morales also spoke of the need to change the economic model in Bolivia and Latin America more broadly, “The mineral wealth of Latin American countries had been looted by industrialized nations and nothing had been done to drive forward their development. The governments of Latin America are obliged to take advantage of their natural resources to promote the development of their peoples.”
During the program Chavez and Morales signed a number of agreements for joint development projects between their respective countries, as well as inaugurating the first phase of the Siderúrgica Ferrominera iron and steel plant in the Cuidad Piar in Venezuela’s Orinoco oil belt.
The agreements, which form part of ALBA (the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), initiated by Venezuela in opposition to the U.S. promoted Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, include plans to form joint-ventures in mining, cement and forestry projects, build a petrochemical plant in Cochabamba, as well as a bi-national company to exploit the Mutun iron deposit in Bolivia's Santa Cruz department, which, according to a statement today from Venezuela's information ministry, has 42 billion metric tons of reserves.
During the broadcast Chavez also spoke of his offer to mediate peace negotiations in neighboring Columbia between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), saying he would travel to territory controlled by the FARC, if necessary, "I'm willing to go into the deepest part of the largest jungle to talk with Marulanda."
"I have faith that we will succeed. Nobody said it would be easy,” he added.