Hugo Chavez is the president of Venezuela, but, as Michael Rowan, author of The Threat Closer to Home, asserted a recent Heritage Foundation event, “Venezuela is not a democracy… Chavez controls the voter rolls, the electronic voting machines. He does a centralized count on every election; no one knows the actual voting tabulation from 2004 to today.” In effect, Chavez is the “elected” dictator.
The question of the day is: how can Chavez get away with this? There is no answering voice. Though usually the world would turn to the United States as the global police, they are no help. In fact, the United States is helping to fund Chavez’ illegal, and often terrorist, actions. Chavez gets his money from Venezuela’s oil production and exports. In 2008, Venezuela was the fourth highest exporter of crude oil to the United States. Of the more than three billion barrels of crude oil imported in 2008, more than 370 million of those came from Venezuela. Petroleum imports from Venezuela show similar numbers.
“Chavez is a state sponsor of terror,” Rowan says. “He has supported the FARC in Columbia, and terrorists in Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas with oil, money, with weapons, with passports, with political support…” He goes on to tell, “Two governments are now investigating a plot where Hezbollah, in Venezuela, will kidnap Latin American Jews and sequester them in Lebanon. Last month, seven of the eleven people arrested for trashing a Caracas synagogue were in the employ of Hugo Chavez, who called the break-in a simple robbery—a two-bit burglary. But the only thing stolen from the synagogue was a computer file with the name of every Jewish family along with their addresses and net worth. Hezbollah, in effect, has the kidnap list… A population of 30,000 Jewish Venezuelans has dropped by more than half since 1999.”
Rowan continued, “By his own words, Chavez is conducting an asymmetric war against America, which he calls the Evil Empire, and Israel, which he says is perpetrating a Holocaust against the people of Palestine… He wants the presidents of the United States and Israel to be prosecuted internationally for the war in Gaza.” To make matters worse, “In 2006, Chavez got 77 votes—national votes—to sit on the United Nations Security Council. His campaign message was to let Iran develop its nuclear program.”
In the face of Chavez’ many offenses, what has the United States done? It has continued to import his oil. Ambassador Otto J. Reich, Former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela and President of Otto Reich Associates, LLC, the second speaker, asserted that the only way to fix this problem is to stop importing Venezuelan oil. “[T]here has been no more appropriate time for the United States to end this dependence on foreign oil, and particularly foreign oil from a hostile country like Venezuela than today, when the price of oil is so low that it can be replaced…from anywhere.”