Military leaders in Brazil are uneasy about Hugo Chávez. It is not comfortable to coexist with a neighbor intent on creating a militia with a million armed men.
The most benign hypothesis is that the militia is actually an occupation force devoted only to throttling the Venezuelans and controlling and patrolling a national dictatorship more or less patterned after the Cuban model.
The most worrisome theory believes that, in addition to oppressing the Venezuelans, a military apparatus of that size will end up developing international operations against the neighboring countries.
Brazilians are not unaware that when the Cuban army became the largest in Latin America it ended up invading Angola and Ethiopia with tens of thousands of soldiers, who — from 1975 to 1989 — fought in Africa the longest war ever waged by a foreign force: 14 years.
Chávez will be visiting Cuba again next week, purportedly for preparation of the second meeting of Cuban-Venezuelan business leaders of April 27 to April 30, which 200 Venezuelan businessmen are scheduled to attend.
Not one to miss a propaganda opportunity, Chávez explained that
visitará a Cuba para impulsar la integración comercial entre los dos países y fortalecer la creación de la Alternativa Bolivariana para América (ALBA).
El ALBA es una iniciativa promovida por Chávez como opción al Acuerdo de Libre Comercio de las Américas (ALCA).
El gobernante reiteró sus críticas contra el ALCA. “Esa es una de las razones por las cuales ‘mister danger’ (en alusión al presidente estadounidense George W. Bush) nos tiene las vista puesta a nosotros”, agregó.
“Deben estar preocupados porque le vamos a vender sardinas a Cuba y ellos no quieren que los cubanos coman, pero como comen los cubanos, y como se visten, y como luchan”, declaró Chávez al responder a las críticas que ha realizado Estados Unidos por los estrechos vínculos que mantiene su gobierno con Castro
(my translation) will be visiting Cuba to energize the commercial integration between the two countries and to strengthen the creation of the Bolivarian Alternative for America (Alternativa Bolivariana para América – ALBA). The ALBA is Chávez’s alternative to the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (ALCA).
The head of state reiterated his criticism of ALCA. “This is one of the reasons why “Mr. Danger” (referring to President George W. Bush) keeps an eye on us”, he added. “They must be worried because we’ll be selling Cuba sardines, and they don’t want Cubans to eat, but Cubans do eat, and dress, and struggle”, Chávez declared in response to US criticism of his goverment’s close ties to Castro.
I wonder if Chávez will be charging Cuba $52.29 per barrel of sardines. After all, sardines are not oil, which, under an agreement signed in 2000, Venezuela sends energy-short Cuba 53,000 barrels a day of oil on exceptionally favourable terms.
In oil news, Two of eight Citgo refineries in U.S. up for sale. Citgo, which has eight refineries and some 13,000 service stations across the U.S., is owned by Petróleos de Venezuela SA. Ponder that when you’re at the pump. At the same time, Venezuela’s tax rate, which was raised Sunday from 34 percent to 50 percent, may hurt investments as the nation seeks to double oil production.
In internal news, Venezuela News and Views Blog explains The Tascon list: modern political apartheid in Venezuela.
Back to the topic of Chávez’s trip to Havana, I don’t think he’ll be touring the ruins of Havana (via Babalu blog). The Venezuelan “businessmen” scheduled to attend the April 27 conference won’t be lingering on them, either. It might give them second thoughts on the long-term effects of the ongoing Bolivarian revolution.