The Americas Report

Emerging Threats to Democracy

“Our losses in Eastern Europe will be offset by our victories in Latin America

- Theme of the July 1993 Havana meeting of the Forum of São Paulo,

Founded in 1990 by Lula da Silva and Fidel Castro


 A Record of Events with Occasional Commentary

-Javier asdf


oIssue. 1                                                                          January 31, 2003


Purpose of this review


As of January 2003, pro-Castro populists have been elected to the presidencies of Venezuela, Brazil, and Ecuador.   These countries have a combined population of 213 million people.


The FARC and ELN, communist narco-guerillas supported by Castro during four decades, control more than half of Colombia and seek to replace that democratic government.  In Bolivia, a pro-Castro leader of the cocaine growers placed second in the June 30, 2002 presidential election. 


Argentina has been in economic crisis since 2001, leading to sharp declines in living standards.  The pro-Castro axis, with Lula da Silva’s Brazilian Worker’s Party leading the way, is supporting a populist who they believe can win the presidential election now scheduled for April 27, 2003.  A presidential election is also scheduled in Paraguay on April 27, 2003.

            This review will provide factual information about the actions of the Cuban regime, as well as pro-Castro leaders internationally and within their own countries as the events are occurring.  It will also provide information about the prodemocratic leaders and groups who are seeking to preserve genuine political democracy.

Contents and Highlights of this review:

Cuba/ the Forum of Sao Paulo – Bioweapons, links to Iraq, support for Chavez, Lula and for terrorism;

Venezuela – Chavez links to al-Qaeda, Iraq, support for terrorism;

Brazil – Lula’s Brazil- new links to Castro, support for Chavez and first indicators of intent to develop nuclear weapons;

Ecuador – New president condemns “the corrupt oligarchy” and former presidents

Argentina – Lula’s Worker’s Party supports the candidacy of Ms. Elisa Carrio


Cuba/Forum of Sao Paulo - Background

Population                   :     11 million

GDP (2001, PPP)        : $25.5 billion ($2300 per capita)


[Perspectives from the Editor: Since 1959, the Castro regime in Cuba has been using political means as well as covert action, terrorism and insurgency in an attempt to bring anti-US, radical regimes to power in the Western Hemisphere and other regions.  Those methods have mostly failed except in Colombia where the threat from the communist insurgency continues and has increased. 


During the 1990s, Castro decided on a new strategy: helping radical political leaders friendly to him take control of their countries by winning national elections in which they present themselves as populists and opposed to corruption, while concealing their ultimate purposes. 


These pro-Castro democratically elected presidents would then use the Chinese communist approach of pursuing a parallel strategy.  One aspect would be to permit foreign and especially US corporations to continue functioning and to earn profits. They would also continue normal international trade relations and encourage foreign investment, all of which would provide useful income for the regime.


At the same time, while professing to seek “good relations with all countries”, these radical pro-Castro presidents would selectively work with radical or communist political and armed groups in Latin America such as the FARC, ELN, and others in the Forum of Sao Paolo; with state sponsors of terror such as Cuba, Iran, and Iraq; as well as with communist regimes such as China and North Korea.


A key nexus in the new Castro strategy is the Forum of Sao Paulo.  At Castro’s suggestion, this group was founded in 1990 with Brazil’s Lula da Silva as its public leader.  Since then, it has brought together virtually all the communist, radical and terrorist organizations of Latin America, the majority of which Castro has worked with since the 1960s. [see for a list of members]


As usual, participants at the 2001 Forum meeting in Cuba and the December 2002 meeting in Guatemala included communist and radical parties from nearly  every nation in Latin America (including the Worker’s Party of Brazil and Chavez’s MVR of Venezuela); Latin American terrorist groups like the FARC, ELN, MIR, M19, Tupac Amaru and global terrorist groups like the IRA, ETA, and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command.  In 2002 the Palestinian Liberation Organization also attended, while, as in most past years, there were representatives from sympathetic regimes such as Iraq and Libya (both of which have had connections to Cuba and its allies during and after the Cold War) and the communist regimes of North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, and China.  [Magali Rey Rosa and Martin Rodriguez, “La Izquierda se Reune en Antigua: El XI Foro de Sao Paulo Convoca a Diversos Personajes de Izquierda de Los Cinco Continentes”, Prensa Libre, December 1, 2002, available online at http:://;  “Leftists Open Havana Meeting”, The Orlando Sentinel, December 5, 2001]


Cuba/Forum of Sao Paulo- Events


December 2001 Lula da Silva Praises Fidel

[Gonzalo Guimaraens, “Teologia de la Liberacion e Izquuerdas Brasilenas en el Foro Social Mundial”,

In the 2001 Forum of Sao Paulo meeting in Havana Lula praised Castro: “Even though your face is marked with wrinkles, Fidel, your soul is still clean because you have never betrayed the interests of your country …thank you, Fidel, thank you because you continue to exist.”


March 2002 US Government: Castro Provides Biological Weapons to Rogue States


In congressional testimony, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence Carl Ford quotes a CIA summary, stating that:


“The United States believes that Cuba has, at least, a limited developmental offensive biological warfare research and development effort. Cuba has provided dual use biotechnology [to] rogue states. We are concerned that such technology could support BW programs in those states.”

”We call on Cuba to cease all BW applicable cooperation with rogue states, and to fully comply with all its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention.”


This statement was later backed by Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Otto Reich, as well as Secretary of State Colin Powell.


[Carl Ford, Testimony Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, March 19, 2002;


“Remarks by Otto Reich, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, at the Heritage Foundation”, State Department Briefing, October 31, 2002


Robert Novak, “Carter [during visit to Castro] Ignored Known Intelligence About Cuba”, Augusta Chronicle, May 25, 2002, A5]


July 2002 Castro Envoy Meets Saddam; Proposes Biological Weapons Cooperation

[“Bioweapons Lab in Venezuela for Saddam and Castro”,; December 19, 2002]

Rodrigo Alvarez Camras – a “close confidant” of Fidel Castro and head of the Cuban-Iraqi Friendship Society, visits Iraq.  Alvarez personally met with Saddam Hussein to convey a verbal message from Castro, stating that both Castro and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela wanted to work with Saddam in bioweapons development. 


Later, in December 2002, Venezuelan defector Air Force Major Juan Diaz Castillo, the personal pilot of Chavez’s presidential Airbus revealed that he had flown Chavez to Cuba more than twelve times.  He stated, “with Castro, Chavez always discussed US world dominance and how it could be contained.  Of the solutions discussed, the most recurring centered on biological weapons”.    


An unnamed Venezuelan is also considering “how easily one could introduce a bioweapon to the US by contaminating cocaine”. 


October 2002 “Castro Weaponizes West Nile Virus”

[Martin Arostegui, Insight, October 1, 2002]


“Cuban defectors say Fidel Castro’s ‘Biological Front’ studied ways of spreading infectious diseases through birds with migratory routes through the United States”. 


A defector notes: "We were instructed to look into viruses such as encephalitis which are highly resistant to insecticides. Military-intelligence officers running the labs ordered us to trap birds with migratory routes to the United States with the idea of releasing contaminated flocks which would be bitten by mosquitoes which, in turn, infect humans."


“One fortified compound near a military hospital in east Havana is the size of two football fields and contains six giant bubbles to retain toxic gases. It is fronted as a cattle-feed producer, according to documents smuggled out of Cuba by military dissidents. The laboratory is equipped with a 10,000 Reid vapor-pressure centrifugal reactor and has its own water system and backup generators. It is in any case supported by high-priority circuits that feed a nearby artillery base storing Russian-made SS-22 medium-range missiles capable of reaching south Florida, according to Cuban documents….”


This is consistent with a 1997 report by the Federation of American Scientists: “In February 1997 a senior Cuban military defector, Alvaro Prendez, alleged that Cuba was developing biological weapons which were to be delivered by five Soviet-made SS-22 missiles that were deployed near the central city of Santa Clara. Prendez and other defectors had heard rumors that the missiles were shipped from Russia to Cuba as late as 1991”; [Source: Federation of American Scientists website, )]

Nov. 29, 2002 Castro Visits Ecuador; Meets Chavez; Cuban Foreign Minister Describes “New Scene in Latin America” 

[EFE News, November 29, 2002]

            Castro and Chavez meet in Quito, Ecuador, at the opening of Marxist artist Oswaldo Guayasamin’s “Chapel of Man”.  Ecuadorian President-Elect Col. Lucio Gutierrez was said to be in Colombia at the time, and both Chavez and Castro claimed not to have met him while they were there. 


            Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque stated that “there is a new scene in Latin America, there’s a consciousness against the path of neoliberal reforms … there’s a new consciousness because the dangers posed by – for example, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, are coming to light.” Furthermore, he said that there was a “need for a new, more just international economic and political order”. 

December 2-4, 2002 Forum of Sao Paulo Meeting Condemns the US

[“Documento Central del XI Encuentro Del Foro De Sao Paulo; Antigua, Guatemala; 2 - 4 De Diciembre de 2002,”]

 The focus of the Forum’s latest meeting in December 2002 was “changing the unjust and unviable international order”, with the United States being the focus of condemnation.  The Bush administration’s actions abroad are described as an attempt to “apply a strategy of unilateral political domination that unfolds in worldwide warmongering” in order to divert the US public’s attention away from the domestic societal contradictions created by “neoliberalism”.  The Forum stated that US’s goal is to obtain oil and extend its worldwide domination.


The Forum also alleged that: “NATO troops perpetrated genocide in Kosovo, US and British forces massacred the population of Afghanistan… [prisoners held by the US in Guantanamo, Cuba] are submitted to punishment and tortures …”. 


The meeting issued several concluding declarations.  One of these called for “all the political parties of the world to launch a campaign of solidarity in support of the nation of [North] Korea, which staunchly defends the banner of socialism, and demand an immediate halt to the incessant machinations of the United States … and the immediate withdrawal of all of North American troops from South Korea”.  Another called for the end of sanctions against Iraq, condemning “the warmongering pretensions of the US government against Iraq”.   

December 27, 2002 Cuban Influence in Venezuela

[Martin Arostegui, “Terror Threat from Venezuela: al-Qaeda Involved”,]

            An investigative article reveals that:


-         Cuban intelligence (DGI) operatives are active in Venezuela


-         One operation involves contingency planning to seize (currently striking) Venezuelan oil tankers and begin using them to continue oil shipments.  Cuban DGI are housed in “the second and third floors of the now-closed former Sheraton Hotel in La Guaira


-         Venezuela’s intelligence service, DISIP, has come under the control of the Cuban DGI.  In particular, “European diplomatic officials in Caracas confirm that Cubans are operating DISIP's key counterterrorist and intelligence-analysis sections”.


-         According to a variety of sources, 300 to 400 Cuban military advisers coordinated by Havana's military attaché in Venezuela, navy Capt. Sergio Cardona, also are directing Chavez's elite Presidential Guard and his close circle of bodyguards.


-         As many as 6,000 Cuban undercover agents masquerading as "sports instructors" and "teachers" also are reported to be training Chavez’s paramilitary groups (the “Bolivarian Circles”) and even operating naval facilities (the Venezuelan Navy has been anti-Chavez).

Dec. 31, 2002 Castro, Chavez, Lula Meet for Eight Hours in Brasilia

[Source in Brazilian democratic movement who prefers anonymity]

Castro, Lula da Silva, and Hugo Chavez, assembled in Brasilia for Lula da Silva’s inauguration the next day, met at 8:00PM for a discussion, which ended at 4:00AM the next morning. 

Jan. 2, 2003  “Cuba to Strengthen Ties with Brazil in Social Area; Castro Dinner with Lula da Silva”

[O Estado de Sao Paulo, January 3, 2003, AFS Number LAP20030103000049]

“Ties between Cuba and Brazil will be strengthened under Luis Inacio Lula de Silva’s administration. The first contacts begun yesterday when Cuban President Fidel Castro had lunch with Brazilian Education Minister Cristovam Buarque, and Health Minister Humberto Costa. The lunch, held at Fidel’s hotel suite in Brasilia, gave the Brazilian Government the green light to take steps to profit from the Cuban experience in the social area, particularly in education and health.”


            Castro’s “last official engagement in Brazil before returning to Cuba was a dinner with Lula…  Acre Governor Jorge Viana and Chief of Staff Jose Dirceu were also present at the dinner.


Castro also “had a long conversation with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Asked about the topic of the conversation, Fidel said they talked about the problems the Venezuelan president has been facing.”


Jan. 15, 2003 Brazilian governor visits Cuba


[“Cuba: Highlights of Radio Rebelde news 1100 GMT 16 Jan 03”, BBC Worldwide Monitoring, January 16, 2003]


            Jorge Viana of the Brazilian Worker’s Party, governor of Acre in Brazil, went to Cuba on January 11.   On January 16 he signed three unspecified bilateral agreements with MINVEC.


Jan. 15, 2003 Castro Meets Lula, Chavez and Gutierrez in Ecuador

[“Hostile Welcome for New Ecuador President” Financial Times (London), January 16, 2003]


On January 15, 2003 Col. Lucio Gutierrez was sworn in as President of Ecuador.  Among those present were Presidents Fidel Castro of Cuba, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Alvaro Uribe of Colombia and Alejandro Toledo of Peru.


Jan. 15, 2003 “Cuba and China Sign Economic Cooperation Agreement”


[BBC Worldwide Monitoring, January 16, 2003]


            On January 15 Cuba and China Signed a US $6 million agreement to help Cuba’s education, after a joint economic and commercial meeting between Chinese Foreign Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng and Cuban Interior Minister Ricardo Cabrisas.  Cabrisas encouraged the expansion of bilateral ties, especially efforts to increase Chinese exports to Cuba.   

Venezuela- Background

Population                   : 24 million

GDP (2001, PPP)        : $146 billion ($6100 per capita)

Oil Production  (2000) : 3.3 million barrels per day

Estimated Oil Reserves:77 billion barrels

[Perspectives from the Editor: A broad-civil military coalition opposed and removed a military dictatorship in 1958 and opened the way for forty years of democratic constitutional government. 

In 1992, Col. Chavez led a failed military coup against the democratic government.  He was released from prison in 1995, joined the Forum of Sao Paulo, won the 1998 presidential election, and was inaugurated in February 1999.  Chavez then used a constitutional assembly packed with his supporters to displace the elected Congress and the Supreme Court in 1999, and ran for office under the new constitution in 2000.  He represents the first success of Castro’s new strategy.

Since assuming the presidency, Chavez has: 1. used a variety of antidemocratic means to consolidate his power; 2. supported terrorists attempting to destabilize neighboring democratic governments including Colombia, where he has helped arm the FARC and ELN guerilla movements, as well as Ecuador, and Bolivia; 3. openly allied himself with various state sponsors of terrorism, including Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Cuba, as well as with communist China. 

            Rather than help the poor, the results of the Chavez presidency as of March 2002, despite far higher oil prices, were increased unemployment, a drop in economic growth and increased poverty. These trends and the anti-democratic actions of Chavez led to the formation of a broad democratic opposition, composed of virtually all democratic political parties, independent labor unions, business associations and other civic groups. 

The democratic opposition began a series of peaceful demonstrations, leading to a peaceful strike in April 2002.  Chavez ordered military leaders to fire on the unarmed opposition demonstrators.  The military refused, leading to Chavez’s resignation and an interim civil-military government.  However, in two days this government split, and aided by his supporters as well as by suspected Cuban agents, Chavez returned to office. 

Since October 21, 2002, the democratic opposition began another set of demonstrations leading to a nationwide strike, which began in December 2002. The democratic opposition sought the immediate resignation of Chavez and new elections, as well as a February 2003 referendum on Chavez’s presidency.  Despite the crippling effects this has hand on the economy, Chavez has refused to hold this referendum. ]




Nov. 26, 2002 “Foreign Minister of Venezuela Will Visit China”

[PRC Foreign Ministry, November 26, 2002;]

Chinese Communist Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan invites Venezuelan Foreign Minister Roy Chaderton Matos to China for a December 2-6 visit. 


Dec. 18, 2002 Venezuela Covertly Refining and Selling Iraqi Oil


[“Abuse of Power: Secret Chavez-Saddam Oil Scheme,”]

Iraqi oil is being refined in PDVSA’s facilities in Curacao, and is then sold on the international market as Venezuelan.” Chavez is thus violating UN’s “Oil for Food Program.

 The Iraqi revenue thus gained is not monitored by the UN (as Iraq is required to do), but is deposited in secret offshore accounts controlled personally by Suddam Hussein’s inner circle.”


Dec. 18, 2002 “Putin, Chavez Discuss Venezuela”

[“Putin, Chavez Discuss Situation in Venezuela”, TASS, December 18, 2002, AFS Number CEP20021218000401]

            Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin of Russia discussed the Venezuelan situation.  Putin stated that Russia supported the OAS position on Venezuela. 


Dec. 20, 2002 Chavez: "Even if 90% votes me out, I will not go.. Forget about fairytales"



see also Official Government Transcript of Alo Presidente;]


The democratic opposition delivered 1.5 million signatures supporting a referendum this day.   The leaders, who were delivering the petition, were attacked by Chavez organized paramilitary gangs with bricks, crowbars, and guns. 


In his weekly radio address Alo Presidente Chavez discussed the possibility of a referendum several times:


-         “Referendum to remove Chávez? That is not possible, don't waste time. I will not go in a referendum, I say that to the country and the world. It's like this: I won't go."

-         “Referendum to remove Chávez? Look, that won't happen, forget about it. It won't happen."

-          “Not even if we suppose that they hold that referendum and get 90% of the votes, I will not leave. Forget it. I will not leave."

 [Comment: These remarks contrasted with Chavez’s earlier statement that “I am a servant of the people, and when the people does not want me anymore, I will leave office”]

 Dec. 21, 2002 Lula Sends his Party’s International Director to Help Chavez


[Johan Freitas, “Brazilian Plotter Buys Time for Chavez; has Links to Terrorists and Saddam”,, December 28, 2002]


Marco Aurelio Garcia, the International Director of Lula’s Worker’s Party and the General Secretary of the Forum of Sao Paulo, visits Venezuela to discuss a strategy for Lula’s Brazil providing support to keep him in power.  This includes sending a Brazilian tanker with 520,000 barrels of gasoline from the Brazilian state oil company Petrobras, and apparently discussions on establishing a “Friends of Venezuela” international grouping with Brazil that will help Chavez. 


Dec. 23, 2002 Lula to Support Chavez Regime


[Paula Puliti, “Brazil to Help Chavez Promote International Support for Venezuela” O Estado de Sao Paulo, December 24, 2002]

 Chavez, with help from the president-elect of Brazil, Mr. Lula da Silva, has been actively seeking to form a so-called Group of Friends of Venezuela to act as a mediator in the current crisis.  Chavez has reportedly already asked Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Jacques Chirac, and Chilean President Ricardo Lagos to take part in the group, to support his regime. 


Jan. 3, 2003Chavez Warns About Possible “Emergency Measures”


[El-Universal, January 3, 2003, AFS Number LAP20030104000002]


Chavez suggests that he may need to apply “emergency measures … I have an obligation to protect the people, public order, security, and the national defense.  If they force me, I will do so.  Let’s hope not”.  “This [opposition] call to tributary disobedience is a call to crime.”


Jan. 4, 2003 Brazilian Oil Union Refuses to Aid Chavez


[“Brazilian Oil Workers Refuse to Scab for Striking Venezuelans”, ACAN/EFE (Panamanian independent news service), January 4, 2003, AFS Number LAP20030104000027]


            Sao Paulo Oil Worker’s Union leader (and leader of another union, Brazil’s largest) Antonio Carlos Spis states that union workers will not replacing striking Venezuelan oil workers.  “If we respect strikes in Brazil, why would we not in another country?” 


            There had been discussion between Chavez and his ally, President Lula da Silva of Brazil, of sending workers to help minimize the effects of the Venezuelan strike.  Brazil shipped 520,000 barrels of oil to Brazil in December. 


Jan. 5, 2003 Defector Reveals Chavez Helped Al Qaeda and other terrorists

 [“Former Venezuelan Air Force Pilot Links Chavez to Support for al-Qa’ida.”  Panama City ACAN-EFE.  January 5, 2003]


Air Force Maj. Juan Castillo, formerly the personal pilot for the Venezuelan President, brought to light in a Miami news conference a number of disturbing revelations about actions recently committed by the Chavez regime, including that shortly after September 11th, 2001, he was “commissioned to organize, coordinate and execute a covert operation” to deliver $1 million to the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan via the Venezuelan Ambassador in India and that Venezuela became a safe haven for al-Qaeda fugitives. 


In a January 7th interview, Castillo further states that:


-         “Not only are the Cubans involved in the subversion of Venezuela democracy, but so are the Chinese, the Libyans, the Russians and the Algerians”.

-         “Libya wants an ally in the Americas for both oil policy and to harm the United States”

-         “An increasing number of Venezuelan military officers are going to China for training, as well as to Russia.  This never happened before Chavez became President.  This is also the case with growing political ties with Cuba, China, Libya, and Algeria”

-         “Members of al-Qaeda were brought to Venezuela for safe haven after 9-11…These al Qaeda [were waived through customs and] received Venezuelan passports”


Jan. 6, 2002Chavez Spokesman Re-Affirms Support for North Korea


[Johan Freitas,:]


            Venezuela Education Minister Hector Navarro (a Chavez appointee) states that the Bolivarian government would stand firm to its principles and expressed “solidarity” with “friendly nations” such as Algeria, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea. 


            Prior to Chavez’s victory, Navarro cited North Korea as an example to emulate, and stated “Socialism survives … in North Korea which, although isolated and alone, has achieved a strong economy [sic]”


            Chavez also reportedly discussed the idea of a Venezuelan nuclear bomb with a visiting Brazilian Worker’s Party official, Marco Aurelio Garcia.  Garcia is close to Brazilian President (and Chavez ally) Lula da Silva, who some believe intends to develop nuclear weapons (see the Brazil section).


Jan. 6, 2003 Chavez: “There is No Turning Back”

 [Official Transcript, Minsterio de la Sectretaria de la Presidencia de la Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela, January 6, 2003]


            In his weekly address Alo Presidente, Chavez states that:


“We have burned our boats.  There is no turning back.  We will carry on consolidating and deepening this Revolution.  If we have to cook with firewood for 2 years, we will.  Or twenty years, if we have to.” 

Jan. 9, 2003 “Bolivian Coca Leader Calls for Regional Movement to Defend Chavez, Lula”

[BBC Monitoring of International Reports, January 10, 2003]


[Ricardo Salazar, “Cocaine For Chavez,”, January 21, 2003;]


The leader of the Bolivian cocaine growers Evo Morales, who was also a leading presidential candidate in the last election and leader of the pro-Castro Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), offered Chavez “his unconditional support” and stated that “Chavez is not alone”.

 Morales will send to Venezuela a “broad-based coalition of cocaine growers and pressure groups from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to join in the show of support”.  Morales’ supporters are “well known in Bolivia for “organizing roadblocks, putting up barricades and halting traffic as a way of protest.


Morales further said "We are launching an initiative from Bolivia promoting the presence of Latin Americans in Caracas to defend Hugo Chavez, an initiative to defend democracy. (There is) an open conspiracy on behalf of the empire, and if they take Chavez out now, tomorrow it will be Lula, and so on, and we have to prevent it”.  He also intends to organize a regional meeting in support of Chavez at the World Social Forum to be held in late January 2003. 


January 9, 2003 US General James Hill; Al Qaeda Operates in Venezuela

[“Narco-terroristas de Al Qaida operan en la Isla de Margarita”, Notitarde (Valencia, Venezuela afternoon newspaper), January 10, 2003]


On January 9, Chief of the United States South Command said that Al Qaeda operated on Venezuela’s Margarita Island. In addition, drug-trafficking terrorists such as other Islamic groups like the Hamas and Hezbollah conduct business in Latin America as well.

These terrorist groups who also operate on the tri-border area (Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil) are generating “billions in arms and drug traffic,” stated General James Hill.

January 13, 2003 Democratic Opposition Considers Easing Strike


[Ginger Thompson, “As the Hardships Mount, Venezuelans Consider Easing Strike”, New York Times, January 13, 2003, A3]


            “Leading members of the coalition that called a national strike aimed at forcing the ouster of President Hugo Chávez said today that they were discussing new strategies to ease the hardship on Venezuelans, including partly lifting the strike to allow businesses and factories to reopen.”


            “Leading members of the coalition that called a national strike aimed at forcing the ouster of President Hugo Chávez said today that they were discussing new strategies to ease the hardship on Venezuelans, including partly lifting the strike to allow businesses and factories to reopen.”


Jan. 13, 2002 Crackdown On Democratic Opposition Begins


[“Chavez Orders Crackdown on Opposition”, Reuters, January 13, 2002, as published in the Washington Post, January 13, 2002, A16]


                        Both January 12 and 13, troops from the National Guard fired tear gas to disperse protesting crowds.  This was after President Chavez ordered a crackdown on the protestors.  In his weekly program Alo Presidente Chavez said the following:

-         “They want to break us economically.  They are not going to do it.  I swear it by God and my mother”. 

-         He would create a special commission to combat the tax rebellion announced by the opposition.

-         He plans to revoke the broadcasting rights of TV stations that criticize his rule, and said their programming was “worse than an atomic bomb”. 


Jan. 14, 2003 “Chavez has Gone Totally to Left in All-Out War with Opposition”

            [Georgie Ann Geyer, The Deseret News (Salt Lake city), January 22, 2003, A9]


            At a press conference given in New York following his visit to the United Nations, an experienced American journalist quotes Chavez as saying, about the democratic opposition in his country:


“They ought to be in prison, those terrorists of the last few weeks’ he stated in an obviously disturbed voice.  ‘Why are they here and not in prison?  I have political power, but I am not a dictator – otherwise, I would have shot them!  In other times, they would have shot them in the patio of the military barracks.  Shot them!  That has not happened in Venezuela.

‘Until now, the rich have given us presidents, and the rich have taken them away.  This is the war of the end of the century, the war of the end of the world.  I will fight to the death’”



Jan. 15, 2003Chavez Plans for a Terrorist Regime”

[Martin Arostegui, Insight, January 20, 2003, 22]

            This important report based on revelations by a former military intelligence officer from Chavez’s regime finds that: 


-         Chavez intends to follow Cuba’s revolutionary model and then turn Venezuela into a terrorist base. 

-         Chavez has aided and abetted terrorists intending to work against the US, Israel, and the government of Colombia

-         The Chavez regime has given false Venezuelan identities to no fewer than 287 Islamic terrorists. 

-         6,000 Cuban “sports trainers” are in Venezuela, really operatives from Cuba’s intelligence agency, the DGI, working with the Bolivaran Circles to subvert the nation. 

-         Cuba is slowly inserting its personnel into key positions in Venezuela’s armed forces, especially the anti-Chavez navy.


January 15, 2003 US Will Be Part of ‘Friends of Venezuela’ Group Despite Chavez Opposition


[Matthew Lee,  Agence France Presse, January 15, 2003]


Richard Boucher of the US State Department said that the US wants to join the “Friends of Venezuela” in order to assist in regional mediation efforts to end the political crisis in Venezuela. The US has been disappointed by Organization of America States’ arbitration under Secretary General Cesar Gaviria.


Chavez has made it clear that he does not want the United States to participate in the “Friends of Venezuela” program unless President Bush personally takes an interest. “’My understanding is the United States did not ask for this meeting,’ Chavez said in Quito. ‘It is a meeting between presidents. Is Bush here?’”


Chavez is meeting with Kofi Annan to discuss the mediation effort further.

January 18, 2003Chavez Troops Seize Private Factories in Venezuela, Coca Cola Among the Victims”

[Johan Freitas,]


On January 18, Hugo Chavez ordered illegal raids in various parts of Venezuela. Armed with machine guns and tear gas, Chavez’s troops broke into private beverage plants like Coca Cola, Pepsi, and Polar and seized vehicles and merchandise.


Ambassador Charles Shapiro met with Chavez. Chavez assured Shapiro that everything was done under the law even though no judge was present and no court orders were made known. “Chavez claims that a government takeover of private food and beverage factories is justified because the strikers are hoarding.” However, Ambassador Charles Shapiro stated later that he felt “deceived.”


Coca Cola states that the company practices legal business and it is unjust that the Venezuelan government can act unlawfully. Coca Cola states, “This is a signal to all investors that Venezuela is an unsafe place to do business . . . . New investors will not invest as long as Chavez stays in power.”


January 19, 2003 Chavez Is Unyielding, Warning Businessmen


[Ginger Thompson,  “Venezuelan Is Unyielding, Warning Businessmen,” New York Times, January 19, 2003]


“Despite mounting international pressure to resolve the political conflict that has pushed this country to the brink of anarchy, President Hugo Chavez hardened his public stand against his opponents today.”


“In appearances throughout the weekend, Mr. Chavez hinted that he would use military force if necessary to break a strike, now entering its eighth week, that has crippled most of the formal economy and caused shortages of food and fuel. Today, he appointed two loyal military officers to top security posts and threatened new raids on businesses he accused of hoarding essential goods.”

January 20, 2003 “Defending the Revolution,” Chavez Supporters Kill Pro-Democracy Marcher in Venezuela


[Ricardo Salazar, “’Defending the Revolution’, Chavez Supporters Kill Pro-Democracy Marcher in Venezuela,”, January 20, 2003]


On Monday, January 20, Chavez supporters and plainclothes police fire at pro-democracy march in Venezuela, which killed one person but wounded many others.  Garcia Arrieche was a grassroots activist of opposition group Primero Justicia. Killed in the march, Arrieche was campaigning the promotion of free and democratic elections.


As Chavez supporters celebrated the “bloodbath” of pro-democratic marchers on national TV, Hugo Chavez was having lunch with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Carter and Chavez met to participate in a negotiating table aimed at scheduling free and democratic elections.


“Microsoft decided to close offices in Venezuela because they could not guarantee employees’ security. The move by Microsoft follows the closing of most of the US embassy and the evacuation of diplomats from Venezuela.”


January 21, 2003 Carter Proposes Plan to Solve Impasse in Venezuela


[AP, “Carter Propose Plan to Solve Impasse In Venezuela,” January 21, 2003]   


Former President Carter met with the Venezuelan government and opposition leaders as well as Chavez and strike leaders to attempt and negotiate a settlement or proposal to end the crippling strike.


Carter offered two proposals. The first “would amend Venezuela’s constitution to allow for early general elections...” The second proposal to end the strike is for “both sides to wait for a recall referendum on Chavez’s rule, which the constitution says can happen halfway into the president’s six-year term. In Chavez’s case, that is August.”


January 24, 2003 Pro-Chavez Rally Turns Deadly


[“Pro-Chavez Rally Turns Deadly,” CNN News, January 24, 2003]


Tens of thousands of people from all over Venezuela converged on the capital Thursday in a show of support for the country’s embattled president and to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the end of the country’s last dictatorship.


In the main square a bomb exploded where two people were killed and three people were wounded. The demonstration was intended to show support for Chavez of which many of the middle class citizens are opposed to due to his leftist regime.


Two million oppositionists to Chavez’s dictatorship called for a referendum which was brought to Venezuelan Supreme Court, “which ruled that the referendum would not be legal.”


In an effort to stem the outflow of money, Venezuelan’s central bank Wednesday closed the foreign exchange market for five trading days. The Bolivar is down 24 percent since the strike began.


January 24, 2003 Six Nations and Opposition Leaders Discuss Venezuela’s Strike


[AP, “Six Nations and Opposition Leaders Discuss Venezuela’s Strike,” New York Times, January 24, 2003]


Oil production is slowly picking up in Venezuela, a sign that President Hugo Chavez may be gaining in efforts to break a nearly 2-month-old strike. The Venezuelan government has recognized the loss of over $4 billion in income so far due to Venezuela’s oil dependent economy.

Tanker pilots are returning to work increasing oil production. This increase is “a very smart strategic move on Chavez’s part. It really drove the stake into the hearts of opposition movement,” said Ed Sillierre of Engery Management LLC in New York. However, Fedepetrol, the largest oil workers union, insisted 17,000 of its 20,000 workers haven’t returned to work, crippling the domestic economy.

 January 26, 2003 “Cuba’s Sustained, Effective Attention to Venezuela”


            [Moises Naim, El-Universal, January 26, 2003]

            A former Venezuelan Minister of trade and Industry, and current editor of Foreign Policy magazine, writing about the crisis in his country, says “the greatest surprise of the crisis is how little Washington has mattered ...  Fidel Castro’s Cuba – small, poor, and isolated – has been far more influential in Caracas than George W. Bush’s mighty US.” 

He continues: “… the US government … seems strangely slow to appreciate what is happening in its backyard.  In only a few years, President Chavez has transformed one of the most reliable allies of the US in South America into one of its most adversarial neighbors. 

“An alliance with Venezuela has helped Cuba… Indeed, Venezuelan Air Force pilot report that the equivalent of an airlift between Caracas and Venezuela has been established”. 

“Cuban diplomacy, supported by Venezuelan oil money, has also made significant inroads in the island nations of the Caribbean, which control and influential voting bloc in the Organization of American States.  Such ties may well complicate the organization’s role as mediator in talks between Chavez and the opposition”. 

“… as the crisis deepens, the role of other countries will be crucial.  The world’s last remaining superpower will have to avoid being outsmarted again by the western hemisphere’s sole cold war dictator”. 

January 26, 2003 Chavez Defends His Actions; Quotes Gramsci

[“Para Chavez, acabar com Pobreza e Dar Poder aos Pobres”, O Estado de Sao Paulo, January 26, 2003,]


Chavez gave a speech in Brazil at the World Social Forum – a gathering convened in part by Lula da Silva’s Worker’s Party and opposed to globalization and the United States. 


Chavez said that in the last half of the twentieth century, Venezuela had wasted oil revenues, equaling 15 Marshall Plans [the post-World War II plan that revived the European economies].  “It is horrible that so many impoverished live in such a rich country”. 


During a press conference later that afternoon, Chavez discussed a cultural and spiritual crisis in Venezuela.  He described it using the terms of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci.  “Gramsci said that a country, a place, a society is in crisis when it is dying but has not finished dying, and at the same time, something is being born, but has not finished being born”.  This crisis started over twenty years ago in Venezuela, and will not be completed until “that which is dying dies and that which is being born is finally born”. 


He called the 1999 Venezuelan constitution [which he and his supporters wrote] an


“ethical, anti-neoliberal project … it was elaborated by a Constituent Assembly and submitted to a national referendum where millions voted and more than 80% had approved it… It is the most legitimate Constitution that we had in 200 years of republican history”.


Referring to the democratic opposition in Venezuela, Chavez noted that the economic elites and part of the social elites were opposed to his project and have taken the way of coupism (i.e. plotting military coups) and fascism.  He notes that “fascism is the ultimate phase of neoliberalism”.


[Comments: “neoliberalism” is the word the Forum of Sao Paulo and other Latin American Marxists use to refer to the market-oriented economic model adopted by many Latin American countries in the 1990s.  The Forum considers the United States the “center of neoliberal domination” which applies “a strategy of unilateral political domination and engages in warmongering behavior on a worldwide scale” [ Source: Documento Central del XI Encuentro del Foro de Sao Paulo, Antigua, Guatemala, Dec. 2-4 2002;]. 


[Antonio Gramsci was a Marxist-Leninist theoretician who proposed that the working class could take power in a nation by systematic infiltration of its civil society.  Many Latin American commentators have stated that Latin Marxists hav used this strategy extensively, with the Brazilian Worker’s Party being the most successful example.  We know learn that Chavez is also familiar with Gramsci.  ]


January 27, 2003 “Venezuela’s Chavez Warns of Price Controls as Opponents Seek His Ouster”

[Joseph Frazier, “Venezuela’s Chavez warns of price controls as opponents seek his ouster,” Associated Press, January 27, 2003]

“President Hugo Chavez plans to implement price controls on medicine and food, his latest effort to rescue Venezuela’s economy wrecked by an opposition strike that Monday entered its ninth week.” Chavez is enacting both currency controls and price controls in order not to continue to hurt the poor people in his country.

At the World Social Form Chavez says, “So that these (currency) controls do not hurt the poor, we will institute price controls.”

Opposition leaders were hoping that “a referendum, though nonbonding, would embarrass Chavez into leaving office. Instead, they plan to collect signatures Feb. 2 on a petition demanding Chavez’s term be cut to pave the way for new elections.

January 29, 2003 Chavez Says Strikers Should be Imprisoned         

[“Chavez Warns of Hards Times Ahead”, Madrid EFE, January 30, 2003]

            “Today we do not have money for hospitals, schools or infrastructure projects.  In January, we were barely able to pay salaries.  The people have to understand who is to blame for this economic disaster …”.  Those who caused the oil strike are “traitors to the country” and “should be in prison.  There is a clamor for justice in Venezuela”. 



Population                   : 176 million

GDP (2001, PPP)        : $1,346 billion ($7400 per capita)

Oil Production (2000) : 1.4 million barrels per day

Estimated Oil Reserves: 8.1 billion barrels


[Perspectives from the Editor: Brazil was ruled by the military from 1964 to 1985 when democracy was restored.  After three previous attempts, Mr. Luis Inacio Lula da Siva was elected President of Brazil on October 27, 2002.   Mr. Lula da Silva has been an ally of Castro’s for 25 years, has said that he is a friend of Col. Chavez and has praised Chavez as “an example to emulate”.  If elected president, he said, “[his] victory will be able to change much in the region, and will have repercussions in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Colombia". 


            Mr. Lula da Silva won the presidential election with 61% of the vote.  During the course of the campaign, as his political momentum built, he received endorsements from elements of the major parties who clearly expected that his cabinet would be broad-based.  Instead, the 26 member cabinet announced on December 23, 2002 consists almost entirely of Worker’s Party members with some independents, and none from the other major parties. 


            The Worker’s Party is one of thirty political parties registered in Brazil, of which 19 are represented in the National Congress.  The House of Representatives has a total of 513 seats, with the Worker’s Party having 91 members, or about 18%.  In the Senate, the Worker’s Party was elected to about 17% of the seats, or 14 out of 81. 


            Among 27 states, the Worker’s Party succeeded in electing governors in only three states, not including Rio Grande do Sul which it had governed earlier.  The three states with Worker’s Party governors represent only a small proportion of the national population and vote. 


            The editor’s concerns about the Lula da Silva regime are that while pursuing conventional export oriented economic policies, it will also do what Chavez has done since 1999:


1.      seek to gradually consolidate its rule as a dictatorship;

2.      support pro-Castro movements, radical terrorists (e.g. FARC) and others seeking to replace democratic governments;

3.      work in strategic cooperation with Cuba/Forum of São Paulo, Iraq, Iran, and communist states such as China

4.      In addition, Mr. Lula da Silva may very well decide to resume Brazil’s nuclear weapon program [perhaps covertly at first] or to produce other types of weapons of mass destruction, such as bioweapons using Brazil’s very advanced pharmaceutical industry.


The following events illustrate the reasons for these concerns.]


Brazil –Indicative Events Before January 1, 2003


1990 – Lula da Silva establishes Forum of Sao Paulo with Fidel Castro.This organization brings together all of Latin America’s Communist, radical, and terrorist groups, as well as terrorists from Europe, the Middle East, and representatives from Libya Iran, Iraq, and the communist regimes of North Korea, China, Vietnam and Laos.  This group has met every year since.


[See for a list of members.]


1999 The Brazilian Worker’s Party (PT) of Mr. Lula da Silva establishes a “partnership” with the Chinese Communist Party. 

[Armando F. Valladares, “Brazil Toward the Abyss?  Neo-Lula, Collective Suggestion and Cubanization”, Diario los Americas, Miami, September 25, 2002,]



July 21, 2000 - The Workers Party issued the following statement concerning Elian Gonzalez, a Cuban boy whose mother died while attempting to flee Cuba, who was rescued, placed with relatives in Florida, and whose return to his father in Cuba was demanded by Castro :“Elian Gonzalez finds himself kidnapped in the United States with the complicity of the Clinton Administration…he must be returned [to Cuba] immediately…the Workers Party will use its influence in the Congress and with the embassy of Brazil in the United States to protest the kidnapping and demand his immediate release.”

[“Devolvam Elián González a seu pai e a seu país.”]


February 2001 – The Workers Party (PT) issued a statement reaffirming “its contrary position to the armed aggressions and denounces the military action of the Government of the United States [against Iraq], that, together [with] the Government of Great-Britain, provoked the death of innocent civilians in the outskirts of Baghdad, violating all the international norms.”  In this statement the PT also condemned the “Bush administration who…demonstrates its unilateral and hegemonic vocation, placing in risk the world-wide security.”

[“Contra os bombardeios ao Iraque.”]


May 17, 2001 – Mr. Lula da Silva and other members of the Brazilian Worker’s Party are invited to China by the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee. 


The Chinese press reported that: “The Brazilian Worker’s Party believes that the maintenance of world peace and the common development of all nations call for the opposition to hegemonism [i.e. the US], the realization of democratization in international relations, and the promotion of a multi-polarization of the world [standard Chinese communist terms denoting a reduction in the US role in world affairs], Da Silva said”. 


Da Silva said that his Party and the Brazilian people fully understand and support the just position of the Chinese government in dealing with the incident of the U.S. surveillance plane collision with the Chinese military plane”.


[“Senior CPC Official Meets Brazilian Guests”, Xinhua (communist China’s state run news agency) May 17, 2001]


May 19, 2001 – Mr. Lula da Silva praises communist China’s economic achievements.  Members of his party also suggest that Brazil should learn from and follow China’s economic model. 

[“Lula Eologia China por Repartir Renda”, Jornal do Brasil, May 19, 2001,]



March 10 2002 - Antonio Palocci, the Mayor of Ribeirao Pteto and the policy coordinator for Mr. Lula da Silva’s government program, forms a committee to support the FARC of Colombia. 

[Joel Silva and Marcelo Toledo, “Ligações Perigosas: Grupo quer divulgar "causas" das Farc.”, Da Folha Ribeirão, March 10, 2002]


June 20,2002 – A Brazilian newspaper reports that Aloizio Merandante, International Relations Secretary of the Brazilian Worker’s Party explained that “alliances with China, Russia, India… are ‘important’ to give force to a possible anti-American coalition.  Lula da Silva, in a visit to the Brazilian Congress, reaffirmed the determination to deepen those bonds.”

[João Domingos, "Lula defende a inclusão de Cuba na Alca", O Estado de S. Paulo, Jun. 20, 2002]


August 15, 2002 – when interviewed, Lula stated that as a “friend of Cuba”, he would demand that Cuba be included in the Free Trade Area of the Americas, but denied that he would form a political alliance with Venezuela and Cuba to promote anti-American sentiment in the region. 

[Andres Oppenheimer, “Brazilian a Critic of US, ‘Friend of Cuba’”, Miami Herald, August 15, 2002]


Sep 13, 2002 – in a press conference to a number of military officers Mr. Lula da Silva expressed his opinion that Brazil should withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.  He explained that, “in [Brazil’s] Congress there’s a pacifist majority who believe Brazil should adhere to the treaty. However, as a citizen, I imagine this would make sense only if all countries that already have [nuclear weapons] also gave them up. If someone asks me to disarm and keep a slingshot while he comes at me with a cannon, what good does that do?

[Adriana Vasconcelos and Maiá Menezes, “Lula critica adesão do país ao tratado que restringe uso de armas nucleares”, O Globo Online, September 13, 2002]


Oct  3, 2002 – a British reporter notes that Mr. Lula da Silva supports “a plan by Embraer, the fourth-largest aircraft maker in the world, to develop missile technology and an advanced fighter jet, which could make Brazil a key player in weapons production”   Mr. Lula da Silva explains his position: "Brazil will only be respected in the world when it turns into an economic, technological power..during my government people will see that Brazil is not just about soccer, beaches and samba”


[Gabriella Gamini, “Brazil's firebrand Lula marches to the presidency”, The Times, London, October 3, 2002]


Nov. 22, 2002 “Lula Tells Reich that Brazil will Play Tough in Negotiations with the US”

            [O Estado de Sao Paulo, November 22, 2002]


            Amb. Otto Reich met with President-elect Lula da Silva and according to Senator-elect Aloizo Mercadante, who participated, Lula said the US will find Brazil “a government that will play as tough as they do”. 


Dec. 2002 “Al-Qaeda’s Links with ‘Triple Border’ where Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil Meet”

[Sebastian Junger, “Terrorism’s New Geography”, Vanity Fair, December 2002, 194-206]


            The author summarizes dramatic information that he says has, “largely gone ignored by the US.” He writes that “at training camps in this jungle region…a nightmare alliance of terror-Hamas, Hezbollah, I.R.A., Colombian rebels…” has been working for years to plan and conduct operations against the US. The author quotes a former CIA clandestine services officer, Robert Baer who said, “we were aware it was a platform for them [terrorists] to go after the US.” The author reports sources he considers reliable estimates that “as much as 50 million dollars is believed to have flowed from the ‘Triple Border’ to Hezbollah accounts in the last seven years.”

[Comment: The participants in this terrorism alliance located in the Brazil/Argentina/Paraguay border region are many of the same participants in the Forum of São Paolo meetings.]



Dec. 8, 2002 Lula’s Party Will Help Leftist Argentine Presidential Candidate


            [Clarin, December 8, 2002]


            During a meeting in the Brazilian embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lula’s Worker’s Party said it would help leftist candidate Elisa Carrio with professional consulting, polling and propaganda material. 


Dec. 12, 2002 Brazil To Start Producing Enriched Uranium in March 2003


[“Brazil To Start Producing Enriched Uranium in March 2003”, O Estado de Sao Paulo, December 12, 2002]


One of Brazil’s major newspapers reports that Brazil will begin producing enriched uranium for its nuclear power plants starting in March 2003, with a goal of processing 55% of its nuclear material by 2007 (all nuclear material is processed abroad at the time or writing. 


            This project is being jointly developed by the Nuclear Industries of Brazil (INB, a government agency) and the Navy.  They refused to release details on the centrifuges, claiming that Brazil has developed a technology 10 times more effective than European methods of enrichment.  The Navy’s next project will be a nuclear submarine.  The Navy and INB state that facility will not be permitted to make weapons-grade uranium.  


Dec. 21, 2002 Lula Sends his Party’s International Director to Help Chavez


[Johan Freitas, “Brazilian Plotter Buys Time for Chavez; has Links to Terrorists and Saddam”,, December 28, 2002]


Marco Aurelio Garcia, the International Director of Lula’s Worker’s Party and the General Secretary of the Forum of Sao Paulo, visits Venezuela to discuss a strategy for Lula’s Brazil providing support to keep him in power.  This includes sending of a Brazilian tanker with 520,000 barrels of gasoline from the Brazilian state oil company Petrobras, and apparently discussions on establishing a “Friends of Venezuela” international grouping with Brazil that will help Chavez. 


Dec. 31, 2002 Castro, Chavez, Lula Meet for Eight Hours in Brasilia

[Source in Brazilian democratic movement who prefers anonymity]

Castro, Lula da Silva, and Hugo Chavez, assembled in Brasilia for Lula da Silva’s inauguration the next day, met at 8:00PM for a discussion, which ended at 4:00AM the next morning. 

 Brazil-Events Since January 1, 2003


Jan. 1, 2003 Lula da Silva is Inaugurated President


            ["The PT Has Still Not Found Itself", O Estado de Sao Paulo, January 3, 2002]

[Larry Rohter, “Leftist Takes Over in Brazil and Pledges a ‘new path’”, New York Times, January 2, 2003] 


Mr. Luis Inacio Lula da Silva is inaugurated president of Brazil, having won the second round of the national elections on Oct.27, 2002.  In his inaugural speech, Lula da Silva hardly mentions the role of the Congress; instead he frequently talks of popular mobilization as a means to achieve government goals.  He also intends to use a “social pact” to “facilitate reform” in various areas.

 The New York Times report notes that “the two heads of state who drew the most attention and applause were” Castro and Chavez.  The inaugural speech promised “a new style of government” that would overcome the “economic, social and moral impasse” of the current system.  Mr. Lula da Silva also said that “creating jobs is going to be my obsession … it is absolutely necessary that this country return to growth”.  The reporter noted that this election “has delighted and reinvigorated the Latin American left”. 


            A Brazilian democratic leader wrote the editor about the inauguration:


“Thousands of PT activists bused in from all over Brazil attended the ceremonies on Brasilia’s modernist Ministerial Esplanade and in front of the Presidential Palace.  Even the casual observer of the ceremonies could not help noticing that the number of red PT [Worker’s Party] and Brazilian Communist Party flags (“PC do B”) complete with Soviet style hammers and sickles outnumbered Brazil’s green and yellow national flag by over 10:1.  This fact was widely criticized in letters to the editor in Brazilian newspapers.”  


“The Inauguration’s special guests selected by the PT included leftist leaders from throughout Latin America including Castro, Chavez, Elisa Carrio, former Nicaraguan President and Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega, ex-Bolivian Presidential candidate and leader of the cocaine grower’s movement Evo Morales; and Chilean congresswoman Isabel Allende, daughter of former President Salvador Allende as well as representatives from the PLO, Iraq’s Baathist Party and North Korea.”


Jan. 1, 2003 Lula’s Chief Deputy and Former PT President Wants to Control the Intelligence Organizations


[“Politburo Chief”, Primeira Leitura, January 1, 2003]


Jan. 2, 2003 Lula Meets with Castro and Chavez


[“Brazil to Strengthen Ties With Cuba in Social Area”, O Estado, January 3, 2003]


            On his first day in office, Mr. Lula da Silva has breakfast with Hugo Chavez, and dinner with Fidel Castro, both of whom visited him during his inauguration.   

Jan. 2, 2003 Lula’s Cabinet Members Speeches Highlight Their Marxist Views and Many Call for Social Revolution

[this synopsis is quoted directly from Lula Watch, The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property., which in turn references coverage of the speeches in the Brazilian press, e.g. O Estado de Sao Paulo, January 3, 203]

            The senior associate of Lula, appointed Chief of Staff and Minister, is Mr. Jose Dirceu.  The socialist views of the Party that had been hidden during the campaign, resurfaced in his speech, as he criticized employers, calling for a “social revolution”, reflecting fondly on years spent in Cuba, and gaving gratitude to Fidel Castro. 

            The Minister of Social Welfare, Benedita da Silva, “compared herself to Che Geuvara … the Education Minister lavished praised on Fidel Castro and said that President Lula da Silva recommended that ‘as far as education is concerned, accelerate and turn left’”

Concerning years of land invasions by the MST, a part of Lula’s coalition, “The new minister of Agrarian Development (Land Reform), Miguel Rosseto stated ‘it is not the business of a democratic government under the rule of law to stifle the mobilization capacity of social movements’”

[Editor’s comment: This suggests that the MST would no longer meet resistance when it occupied and confiscated private lands and property.  This statement could be a preview of the method used by Allende in Chile being applied in Brazil – initially, the state does not directly violate individual and property rights, but stands back when pro-regime groups do so.]

Jan. 3, 2003  Lula’s Party has Exchanged “Peace and Love” for Social Revolution”, Says Brazil’s Largest-Circulation Newspaper

            [Lula Watch, op. cit., quoting Folha de Sao Paulo, 1-3-03]

            The inaugural speeches led this newspaper to this conclusion and to say that Lula da Silva had “abandoned the cautious and conciliatory speech that had characterized his campaign”. 

Jan. 3, 2003 Lula’s Worker’s Party Takes Over the Government

[“An Unexpected Shift to the Left”, LulaWatch, The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, January 15, 2003]

            One pro-democratic organization with many members in Brazil noted that the Worker’s Party had been expected, based on its political campaign and support received from other major parties, to include many members of other parties in the Cabinet and Administration.  Instead, virtually no other party was included in the Cabinet and there

“was the mysterious breakdown in the agreement between the PT and the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), one of Brazil’s major political parties … Political circles are feeling malaise and concern about this great turnaround in the PT’s attitude.”


“In the halls of Congress, one Representative noted that the PT’s attitude is reminiscent of post-World War II East European Communist Parties, who formed large coalitions to make it to power and seize the state apparatus for itself”.

 Jan. 3, 2003 Serbian Prime Minister Djindjic Says Brazil Interested in Buying Arms


[“Serbian Prime Minister Djindjic Says Brazil Interested in Buying Arms From FRY”, Belgrade BETA, 1/3/3]


Serbian Prime Minister expresses hopes for partnership with the new Brazilian Government and welcomes its interest in broadening economic relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  Brazil is interested in buying weapons.


Jan. 3, 2003 Canceling an Aircraft Deal?

[“Lula Could Suspend Acquisition of Fighter Bombers”, Sao Paulo O Estado, 1/3/03]


“According to Presidential Spokesman Andre Singer, Lula feels ‘this may not be the right moment in Brazil’s history to spend $1 billion to purchase fighter bombers…Maybe these funds would be put to better use to fight hunger.’  The new government has assured the Armed Forces that the plans to overhaul the Armed Forces and enhance air space surveillance will not be interrupted.”


 Jan. 4, 2003 Brazilian Oil Union Refuses to Aid Chavez


[“Brazilian Oil Workers Refuse to Scab for Striking Venezuelans”, ACANEFE (Panamanian independent news service), January 4, 2003, AFS Number LAP20030104000027]


            Sao Paulo Oil Worker’s Union leader (and leader of another union, Brazil’s largest) Antonio Carlos Spis states that union workers will not replacing striking Venezuelan oil workers.  “If we respect strikes in Brazil, why would we not in another country?”. 


            There had been discussion between Chavez and his ally, President Lula da Silva of Brazil, of sending workers to help minimize the effects of the Venezuelan strike.  Brazil shipped 520,000 barrels of oil to Brazil in December. 


Jan. 5, 2003 Brazil Must Master the Atomic Bomb


[Larry Rohter, “Brazil Needs A-Bomb Ability, Setting Off Furor”, New York Times, January 9, 2003, A5]


Roberto Amaral, Lula da Silva’s Minister of Science and Technology, states in a BBC interview that Brazil should acquire the capability to build a nuclear weapon. 


The next day, Presidential spokesman Andre Singer contradicts this, stating that nuclear research is “solely and exclusively for peaceful purposes”. 


Jan. 10, 2003 Brazil “Getting Ready for War”


[Ricardo Amaral, “Getting Ready for War”, Brazzil, January 2003,]


A Brazilian economist writes that Brazil should build nuclear weapons and include in its new aviation partnership with China (and France) “an agreement that they will transfer to Brazil and help the Brazilian government with the know-how to build nuclear weapons”. 


He also, however, points out that “Brazil does not need an atomic weapons program because Brazil has a very advanced biological weapons program [which are] cheaper to research and to produce”. 


Echoing Lula’s September 13, 2002 press conference, this author also states, “the only countries that have actual sovereignty are those that have atomic weapons”. 


January 15, 2003 Lula Says Brazil Will Build a ‘New South America’ Uniting Leftist Political Forces


            [Fabio Zanini, Folha de São Paulo, Jan. 17, 2003]


            In a visit to Ecuador for the inauguration of Col. Gutierrez [see below], Lula says Brazil is the natural leader of South America, will build a “new South America”, opposes the US on Venezuela, and will unite leftist political groups as a counterweight to US political influence.


January 17, 2003 Authoritarian Tactics in Negotiating with Congress


[Dora Kramer, “Cacoete Absolutista” (Absolutist Itch), O Estado de Sao Paulo, January 17, 2003]


            A first indicator of discreet coercion by the Lula government were press reports that his Chief of Staff, Dirceu, was using pressure such as threats of income tax audits to obtain the Congressional line-up it sought.  This led a political commentator to write “the police-like use of the state apparatus to secure political advantage brooks no compromise.  Today the target is a wing of the PMDB.  Tomorrow it can be anyone who dares to disagree”. 


            This pressure led the governor of Pernambuco to say that the PT should “respect democracy”. 


January 23, 2003 Eight Lula Cabinet Ministers Participate in Anti-US Demonstrations


[O Globo, January 24, 2003]

            At the World Social Forum meeting in Brazil on January 23, about 70,000 people staged a large demonstration against the US called “world march to the wall of the Empire” [meaning the US].  Bush was burned in effigy.  Thousands of activists carried Cuba, Venezuelan, PT, and a variety of communist flags and shouted, among other slogans, “American imperialism, get out!”.  

January 24, 2003 Lula Promises “My Contribution So that Other Comrades Win Elections in Other Countries”


            [O Globo, January 25, 2003]


            In a speech to the World Social Forum, President Lula da Silva stated:


“I know the hope that socialists all over the world have in the success of our government…I hope to make my contribution so that other comrades win elections in other countries…”


January 26, 2003 Brazil: President Lula To Oppose Iraq War in Davos Speech


[Lu Aiko Otta and Vera Rosa, “Brazil: President Lula To Oppose Iraq War in Davos Speech,” O Estado de Sao Paulo, January 26, 2003, AFS Number LAP20030126000025]


President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva arrived in Davos for the World Economic Forum delivering a speech where he will make it “clear that on the issue of Iraq, the Brazilian Government is aligned with France and Germany, which opposes the US President George W. Bush’s plan to attack that country.”


In addition, the Minister of Finance Antonio Palocci stated, “The imminence of a war between the United States and Iraq has already caused visible havoc in the Brazilian economy.”


Ecuador- Background

Population                   : 13 million

GDP (2001, PPP)        : $40 billion ($3000 per capita)

Oil Production (2000) : 0.4 million barrels per day

Estimated Oil Reserves: 3 billion barrels

[Perspectives from the Editor: After many years of democratic government, a pro-Castro radical, Colonel Lucio Gutierrez, staged an unsuccessful, Chavez-supported coup against the Ecuadorian government in January 2000.  After being released from prison, Col. Gutierrez obtained support from Chavez and the Forum of São Paulo/Cuban network and was elected president in November 2002.  He is an open admirer and friend of Hugo Chavez.   He has also announced that he will seek to mediate in the war in neighboring Colombia.  In the editor’s view, given Castro and Chavez’s support for the FARC, Gutierrez is likely to use any mediating role he has to secretly assist the FARC and help them take power. 

The excellent monthly analytic review, The International Reports: Early Warning (January 31, 2003 Issue), provides the following useful additional information:

As soon as he left the army, Gutiérrez founded his own political party, the Patriotic Society January 21.Now, in the unicameral National Congress, he has the support of his own party and the peasant and Indian leaders of Pachakutik [Rebirth], an organization considered the political front of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), the main grouping of Ecuadorian Indians, which led the January 21 [2000] revolution. CONAIE’s chief is Antonio Vargas, who served on the three-man junta that overthrew Mahuad. It traces its origins to the Zapatista movement that originated in Mexico in 1994 with assistance from Cuba. Even with the addition of three Maoist deputies in the National Congress, Gutierrez remains a “minority” president who is 18 votes short of a clear majority.


Gutiérrez’ new Cabinet includes two Indian members, Luis Macas and Minister of Foreign Relations Nina Pacari. Both belong to the radical CONAIE. Two other Cabinet members will have problems working with them. They are Minister of Foreign Commerce Ivonne Abdel- Baki, and Economy and Finance Minister Mauricio Pozo.]




January 29, 2001 Gutierrez States Opposition to US Plan Colombia

            At his speech “Mediating in Conflicts and Building Peace” for the World Social Forum, Lucio Gutierrez states that Plan Colombia is a covert action against the FARC and ELN of Colombia.  He urged his comrades to “Rescue the ideas of their liberators, defend their sovereignty, and reject manipulations from the oligarchies”, and urged that they launch an ideological offensive against “neoliberalism” (i.e. the US). 


[“Coupist Colonel Says to Porto Allegre Forum ‘Plan Colombia’ is to Combat Revolutionaries, Madrid EFE, January 29, 2001]

November 21, 2002 Gutierrez Denies Axis with Chavez, Lula

[“Gutierrez Not to Form Leftist Axis with Venezuela, Brazil”, ACAN-EFE, November 21, 2002]

            Shortly before the final vote in his campaign for the presidency of Ecuador, Col. Gutierrez of the 21 January Patriotic Society (commemorating the date of his coup against the democratic government on January 1, 2000) said that he would not form an axis with Venezuela and Brazil if he won the election. 

January 15, 2003 Gutierrez is Sworn in As President of Ecuador


[Monte Hayes, “Former coup leader becomes president of Ecuador, issues warning to “corrupt oligarchy” ” Associated Press, January 15, 2003]

After winning an election, Col. Lucio Guitierrez is sworn-in as President of Ecuador. 

In his inaugural speech, Gutierrez vows that “We will change Ecuador or we will die trying” and that he would fight the “"the corrupt oligarchy that has robbed our money, our dreams and the right of Ecuadorians to have dignified lives.”  He stated further that all of the country's former presidents should be in prison for their responsibility in "the national disaster" - although he later apologized for those remarks.


In attendance were Presidents Fidel Castro, Lula da Silva, and Hugo Chavez, as well as Alvaro Uribe of Colombia and Alejandro Toledo of Peru. 


January 20, 2003 Gutierrez Purges the Military

            [The International Reports: Early Warning, January 31, 2002, pg. 2-3]

Military sources who chose to remain anonymous, are far from happy with the new president. One officer complained that the departure of 17 ranking armed forces officers in less than four days is the outcome of a strategy by the new president who, as an experienced coupist, intends to have officers whom he trusts in command of the armed forces.


Many officers believe that Gutiérrez intends to remove at least another eight generals and rear admirals, in alleged retaliation for his arrest and imprisonment for participating in the events on January 21, 2000. Probably, first on the list is General Carlos Moncayo, brother of Quito Mayor Paco Moncayo, who was the officer who ordered Gutiérrez’s arrest. He is currently on availability status.


Although General Carlos Salazar’s departure was “voluntary,” three days after being appointed commander of the army, sources close to the administration admitted that he and other officers were under pressure to place  their posts at the president’s disposal.


Gutiérrez’s intention, according to military sources, is to separate 26 ranking officers from the services. Last week the president appointed Colonel Mario Morales, a trusted officer from his own class, as head of the Military House, replacing General Jorge Arciniegas.


January 21, 2003 Ecuador President Launches Austerity Package


[Nicholas Moss, “Ecuador President Launches Austerity Package,” The Financial Times (London), January 21, 2003]


“President Lucio Gutierrez of Ecuador has raised fuel prices and cut public sector wages to try to close a Dollars 2bn (Pounds 1.2bn) financing gap and satisfy the International Monetary Fund, which renewed negotiations over a Dollars 240m stand-by loan in Quito yesterday.” Gutierrez increased fuel prices but resisted increasing gas prices due to the fact that it caused [his own 2000 coup, which celebrated its third anniversary].


“A deal with the IMF would pave the way to Dollars 500m of multilateral loans - and is the only external financing Ecuador can access, although advanced sales of crude are being considered.”


January 31, 2003 The Chavez-like Tendencies of Pres. Gutierrez


[Orlando Alcivar Santos, “Chavez-like Power?”, El Universo (Guayaquil), January 31, 2003]


            “I hope Col. Gutierrez is successful … However, I am worried over what is happening.  After scarcely two weeks in office, the Colonel has shown little adherence to republican institutions and a clear desire to meddle in the other branches of state.


            “Constitutional engineering should be practiced within the rules of democratic action.”


“Added to the executive’s [Gutierrez’s] open meddling in the Legislative branch and his constant harassment of the courts of justice, is his obvious and challenging statement that he disregards the Electoral Branch because, in his opinion, its members were not appointed in a suitable manner”.    


Population                   : 37 million

GDP (2001, PPP)        : $453 billion ($12,000 per capita)

Oil Production (2000) : 0.8 million barrels per day

Estimated Oil Reserves: 3.1 billion barrels

[Perspectives from the Editor: After World War II, a long period of Peronist authoritarian rule and military interference in the Argentine government was followed by a military junta that held power from 1976 to 1982. Democratic elections were held in 1983, and regular elections since then have shown that Argentina has moved towards the consolidation of democracy.

In late 2001, Argentina experienced the worst financial crisis in its history, greatly affecting the economic and political climate of the country. The now free-floating peso has lost more than half of the value it had at the onset of the crisis. With presidential elections scheduled for April 27, 2003, the IMF recently approved loan package worth approximately US$7 billion for Argentina, putting an end to a year of negotiations and providing the country with “transitional financial support”.

There are currently five leading candidates for the presidency of Argentina.  Three are viewed as Peronists and these along with their position in opinion polls include: former presidents Carlos Menem (9%) and Adolfo Rodriguez Saa (15%); as well as Nestor Kirchner (11%). [Poll data from Clarin/IBOPE, January 22, 2003. 


The Center-right is represented by former finance minister Ricardo Lopez Murphy (6%) of the Recreate Argentina Party, who believes that Argentine economic recovery “depends on the authorities' respect for the rule of law and private property rights”.   [Business News Americas, December 6. 2002]

            The candidate of the left is Member of Congress Ms. Elisa Carrió (11%), whose party is the Alternative Republic of Equality (ARI).  This leftist coalition, inspired by the Worker’s Party in Brazil, brings together the former members of the Radical Party, Frepaso and the Socialists.  Along with Lula, Carrió also has links with the World Social Forum, having participated in a more localized version of the forum -the Argentina Social Forum (August 22 –25 2002). The Brazilian Worker’s Party will be very active in supporting Ms. Carrio and this most likely means that the entire Forum of Sao Paulo nexus will also support her.

 A Brazilian democratic leader believes that the Worker’s Party of Brazil expects the three Peronist candidates to divide the majority Peronist vote, resulting in a second place finish for Ms. Carrio on April 27, 2002.  Then, with full support from the pro-Castro international network, the expectation is that she could win the runoff now scheduled to be held on May 17, 2003, and then be inaugurated President of Argentina on May 25, 2003.]


Dec. 8, 2003 Lula’s Party Will Help Leftist Argentine Presidential Candidate

            [Clarin, December 8, 2002]


            During a meeting in the Brazilian embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lula’s Worker’s Party said it would help leftist candidate Elisa Carrio with professional consulting, polling and propaganda material. 

January 1, 2003 “Argentine Left Arrives in Force at Inauguration”

            [Correio Brasiliense, January 1, 2003]

            About 130 delegates from the Argentine Left, including Elisa Carrio, attended the inauguration of President Lula da Silva in Brazil.

January 2, 2003  “Argentina’s Center-Left Inspired by Brazil’s Lula”

[EFE News Service, January   2, 2003]

“Members of Argentina's fractured center-left see Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, sworn-in Wednesday as Brazil's 39th president, as an example of the kind of leadership that could bring them to power in their own country. But Buenos Aires Mayor Anibal Ibarra told local radio on Thursday that Argentine political leaders should unite to “better attend to Argentina's situation" instead of searching for "the Argentine Lula.” ”

            “Ibarra on Wednesday attended Lula's inauguration, along with other representatives of the Argentine left, including lawmaker and presidential hopeful Elisa Carrió and labor leader Victor de Gennaro.”

            “De Gennaro, who some say could establish in Argentina a Workers' Party like the one headed by Lula, said the presidency cannot be won in a single election campaign, but rather after a long political process like the one the new Brazilian leader initiated years ago.”

            “Meanwhile, Carrio, the presidential candidate for the Alternative for a Republic of Equals party, said Lula's election represents "hope" for both Brazil and all of Latin America.”

January 3, 2003 “Argentina- Signs of Recovery?”

            [Patricia Vasquez, Energy Compass, January 3, 2003]

            “After a year that saw the economy shrink by an estimated 10% and left more than half its population living below the poverty line, Argentina is showing tentative signs of recovery. A string of loan defaults has cut it off from international borrowing, but the government has lifted some of the restrictions imposed under its year-long freeze on bank deposits, and Argentineans are starting to spend again.”

January 3, 2003Argentine presidential election set for April 2003

[“Argentine presidential election set for April 27, 2003”, Madrid EFE, January 3, 2003]

“ Today the Argentine government made official the timetable which provides for the holding of presidential and vice-presidential elections on [Sunday] 27 April and a possible second round on [Sunday] 18 May...”

January 6, 2003, “Carrió, Three Others Lead Polls in Argentina”

[ACANAFE (Panamanian independent news service), January 6, 2003, AFS number LAP2003010600005]

            “Three Peronist Party politicians and center-left legislator Elisa Carrio are the leading contenders for Argentina's presidency, separated by less than two percentage points, according to poll results published Monday by the La Nación newspaper”


            “The survey, conducted by the Ibope polling firm Dec. 30-Jan. 3, gave former President Adolfo Rodriguez Saa 12.5 percent of the vote.”


            “Other Peronist hopefuls included Santa Cruz Gov. Nestor Kirchner, who was in second place with 11.8 percent of the vote, and former President Carlos Menem, who served from 1989 to 1999, with 10.2 percent. Carrio, candidate for the leftist Alternative for a Republic of Equals, would get 11.1 percent of the vote if the election were held today.”


            “The newspaper said the presidential race was so tight that most political analysts were forecasting a technical tie.”


January 15, 2003 Argentines Support Lula’s to Rise to Power


[“Argentines like Lula better than own politicians”, EFE News Service, January 15, 2003]

            According to polls published on Wednesday, forty-three percent of Argentines have a “favorable opinion” of Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, compared to the eleven percent of Argentines who view their current president, Eduardo Duhualde in a positive light. Lula gets a rating almost four times better than their own president because “in Argentina, the leftist Lula represents, the ‘good rising to power’ ” according to a poll carried out for the daily newspaper, La Nación.

“This survey of 1,200 people throughout Argentina was carried out in December, before Lula took office Jan. 1.”

January 23, 2003 Argentina Pays Back Loans


[“World Bank receives overdue debts from Argentina”, Agence France Presse, January 23, 2003]


“The World Bank confirmed Thursday it had received Argentina's full arrears of

796.5 million dollars, allowing it to resume stalled financial assistance.”

 In their statement, the World Bank notes that it is pleased that Argentina has been cleared and looks forward to helping Argentina bounce back from the economic crisis. Also in their remarks, the WB mentioned that clearance will “allow the board to consider new loans that will back social programs for Argentina’s poor who have been hardest-hit by the economic crisis.”


January 24, 2003, IMF Provides Argentina “Transitional Financial Support”


            [“Argentina wins approval for $6.78 billion loan package, Associated Press, January 24, 2003]


            “The International Monetary Fund approved a $6.78 billion loan package for Argentina on Friday, ending nearly a year of negotiations and giving South America's second largest economy some breathing room until it can elect a new president.”
            “The IMF said the loan package was designed to provide "transitional financial support" through Aug. 31.”
            “After that, the agency hopes to have in place a longer-term plan that would provide fresh resources to help Argentina emerge from the worst financial crisis in its history.”


January 28, 2003 Argentina Receives First Installment of IMF Loan


            [“IMF disburses first installment of standby loan to Argentina”, Agence France Presse, January 28, 2003]

“ The International Monetary Fund Tuesday gave Argentina a first installment of 1.027 billion dollars on a loan to help the cash-strapped nation meet its debt payments, the Economy Ministry said.”



The editor has worked on issues involving Latin America since 1963, and has had the opportunity to serve as a policy official for three Presidents of the United States, including as Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs during the 1980s.


 For excellent and dedicated work in producing this and other projects, the editor wishes to thank Mr. Marcus Sgro, Research Associate of the Hudson Institute. We also thank the skilled interns who have worked with us: Mr. Toby Pearce of George Washington University and Ms. Lois Kim of Georgetown University. 


This is the first issue of the Americas Report.  It is made possible by an initial grant from an American foundation for which we are very appreciative.  We shall distribute this report via the internet and through the mail free of charge to our audience which includes officials of the US Government and Congress, the media, experts, democratic leaders in Latin America, and interested citizens. 

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