News and opinions on the situation in Venezuela
Hugo Chavez: “If the Imperialist Government of the White House Dares to Invade Venezuela, the War of 100 Years Will be Unleashed in South America”
Monday, September 19th, 2005
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaks on Democracy Now! in his first interview in the United States. Chavez discusses the war in Iraq, President Bush, the role of the media in the aborted coup against him and Venezuela’s request for the extradition of Cuban anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles. [includes rush transcript- partial]
Scores of world leaders have come to the United States for a summit at the United Nations. Among them, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
In a speech before the world body, Chavez accused the US of trying to hijack the UN summit and described the US as a terrorist nation because it is harboring the tele-evangelist Pat Robertson who recently called for his assassination. He has accused the United States of being behind the aborted coup against him in 2002, condemned the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States.
Democracy Now! met with President Chavez on Friday in his first sit-down interview in the United States. Amy Goodman interviewed him with Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez and Margaret Prescod of Pacifica Radio station KPFK at the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN’s residence in New York City.
AMY GOODMAN: Scores of world leaders have come to the United States for the United Nations summit. Among them, Venezuelan President Chavez. In a speech before the world body Chavez accused the U.S. of trying to hijack the U.N. Summit and described the United States as a terrorist nation because it’s harboring the televangelist Pat Robertson who recently called for Chavez’s assassination. President Chavez also accused the United States of being behind the reported coup against him in 2002. Chavez condemned the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States. Democracy Now! met with president Chavez on Friday, in his first sit-down interview in the United States. I interviewed him with Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez and Margaret Prescott of KPFK. We talked to the president at the Venezuelan ambassador’s home here in New York.
AMY GOODMAN: Mr. President Hugo Chavez, your assessment of president Bush, of the invasion and occupation of Iraq? And do you think if it weren’t Iraq, it would have been Venezuela?
HUGO CHAVEZ: The imperialist government of Mr. Bush planned. What is the U.S. government looking for? And the elite governing this country? They’re looking for oil. This is part of the crisis that is looming in the horizon. You should know that the U.S., I already said this, 5% of the world population lives in this country and you consume 25% of the energy. That this consumption is partially rational, I am convinced that the U.S. people will wake up to the reality of things. Yesterday morning, we were coming from the airport for instance, it was the traffic jam time, it was very packed in the highway coming from the airport here. I talked to the people in my car, looked outside, looked at the cars surrounding us. Out of a hundred cars, ninety-nine were occupied by a single person, the driver only. Cars occupying the highways, and burning fuel, how many gallons of fuel were burned yesterday morning, polluting the environment? That’s the extreme of individualism. And public transportation, we don’t see large buses coming from the airport here. So this is pure individualism, this is capitalism.
This planet cannot stand this model any longer. I think developed countries— so-called developed countries should reflect upon the way of living and the waste of energy. And the government knows this. The big trans-nationals know this. The U.S. only has 20 billion barrels of oil in reserve. It seems as though there is no more oil around. Venezuela has 300 billion barrels of oil in reserves. Iraq has like 150 billion barrels of oil. Iran, close to 300 billion barrels of reserve. Oil for 200 years of course. Now, it is clear that the U.S. government wants that oil. That’s why they planned, first they tried to get the Venezuelan oil and, of course the coup, they staged against us. That was an oil-motivated coup. They want to have the control over Venezuelan oil before going for the Iraq, for Iraq’s oil.
They failed in Venezuela. So they went to attack Iraq. And the soldiers. And when I saw on TV how they were broadcasting in the evening news of the tanks attacking Baghdad, advancing toward Baghdad, and they said the Baghdad population were going to receive the American marines with flowers. I said, those people are nuts. They’re insane. These people have been combating for centuries. This is the Mesopotamian people. I know a little bit of the spirit of the Arab countries. Those are warriors, ten times more warriors than we are. They’ve been struggling in war for many centuries. They’re going to receive, not with flowers, they’re going to resist the occupation. That’s the reality we are facing today. The U.S. government, they fooled the U.S. soldiers, telling them, no, its going to be a piece of cake, that your going to be received as heroes, that the Arabian girls will throw flowers at them. They are drowning in a quagmire of blood and it is very painful. That’s the risk that is hovering over the world today. They are now threatening Iraq. There are still threats over Venezuela. They still think about assassinating me. There are also plans to invade Venezuela. Now, when you know the way of thinking of those in the White House, any insanity is possible. Now, let me tell you this, if the imperialist government of the White House led an invasion against Venezuela, well, the war of 100 years will be unleashed in South America. Because with our teeth, with our nails with our knees, we will go to struggle and defend our dignity in South America. Now, I aspire and I pray to God that this will never occur. We want peace. We want life. We want to have eternal relations with these sisters countries, sister nations.
The U.S. people have a major role to play to solve, to save this planet. Because we’re talking about the government. I was reading recently, Noam Chomsky, I read him very frequently. And in one of his most recent books, Chomsky, I would like very much to shake hands with Chomsky. I’ve been reading him for a while. I admire him enormously. The name of the book is “Hegemony or Survival” its what Rosa Luxemburg used to say, “socialism or barbarism.” We changed to Capitalism, and we’re going back to the caveman. Chomsky in his book, he says that two superpowers in this world and I was really shocked by that idea. I think he’s right after all. I think the key to save the world is one super power, this government? And it’s military power? Might? Fear? Technological might space power, economic might and so on. But what is the other superpower that could perhaps stop this government. That could even put an end to imperialism so we can have a true democracy to help the peoples of the world.
The U.S. Government which will be fully aware of the needs of Africa, the needs of the poor. Let’s assume that we have a government here in the United States that overnight decides to cut in half the military expenses and withdraw the troops from around the world and declare it is the champion of peace of the world and declare itself an enemy of imperialism and then devote billions of dollars to the poor. Last year the defense budget was $400 billion in military defense. Just for one single year. One single year. For those $400 billion we can go to Africa, in the poor countries of Asia, in the Caribbean and Latin America, we can help them.
I’ve learned to appreciate the thinking of John Kennedy. John Kennedy once said, and that’s why he was assassinated, listen to the South, he said once. The recent revolution going on in the south in Africa, in Asia, and Latin America. It was in the 1960's, where the people, the black power was raging. Che Guevara said, one, two, three, Japan, and Vietnam and Asia. The world was fed up with misery and inequities. As he said, the cause of all the revolution is poverty. And he said this sentence, today more than ever is valid, he said, those who shut down the doors to peaceful resolutions open the doors to violent revolutions. That’s a reality. I do believe that the U.S. people – is the other super power that Noam Chomsky is referring to. What is the other super power? Public opinion. The peoples of the world. That’s the other super power. And the U.S. People have a major responsibility in the world. I think that we’re going to save the world. And I hope that you take part in this struggle in the same way we are doing today. And many other people, women and men in this country, in this soil.
AMY GOODMAN: Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in a rare interview speaking with Democracy Now! and Pacifica Radio at the Venezuelan ambassador to the U.N.’s home in New York. Coming up, the president speaks about the Cuban, anti-Castro militant Luis Posada as well as the role of the media and the aborted coup against Chavez. This is Democracy Now! stay with us.