By Dr Richard A. Byron-Cox
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is sick. His is a cancer case. And some in Venezuela, the US and our Caribbean, having branded him dangerously pesky, are fervently if silently praying that the illness prevails, speedily coffining-off this Venezuelan bad boy to the permanent silence of the grave. The Venezuelans and North Americans who wish this, need not concern us here. Suffice to say, the former find it difficult to challenge his popularity at home, while the latter are in contemptuous disbelief that “this Latino” has the cojones to question them. Our concern therefore is the Caribbean ones who want to see the back of Hugo. The question is why?
Prophecies abound in some quarters that the Chavez-motored ALBA will ultimately lead to the death of CARICOM through the poaching of its members. The reality however is that many CARICOM states are members of other groupings, including the Association of Caribbean States, the OAS, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), and El Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana (SICA). Membership in these organisations has proven non-hazardous to the existence of CARICOM. So from whence is this hue and cry about el bandido venezolano trying to destroy CARICOM? Is this really serious!
Some, declaring concern for our democracy, are adamant that Chavez’s dictatorial hold on power is alien and dangerously contagious to us. Since birds of a feather flock together, they advise we stick with our crowd, maintaining a healthy distance from his corrupting influence. Truth be told, Hugo’s road to power was elections certified by all and sundry to be free and fair. He has won six straight and, though cancer stricken, is preparing to face the polls again. Isn’t it incredible that a man dubbed a dictator so readily embraces and subjects to the democratic exercise of the will of the people? Could this concern therefore be a case of people crying wolf while slaughtering a shepherd?
Others prescribe strict precautionary measures when engaging this socialist bosom buddy of those unrepentant communists, Fidel and his petit frère, Raul. The rumour is that Chavez is hell-bent on emulating the Castros by nationalising the entire Venezuelan economy. Then, he would dictate that our Caribbean leaders follow his lead, denying us all, the freedom of enterprise. This is naught but scaremongering and quatsch. While Chavez has nationalised a few industries in the crucial oil sector, free enterprise is most certainly alive and well in Venezuela after more than a decade of his presidency! This is self-evident truth. Further, Cuba itself is “liberating” its economy more and more, (granted not in the manner that the US, that self-proclaimed champion and self-appointed world evangelist of laissez faire economics would like).
It is also said that Chavez and Venezuela have been historically, politically and culturally conditioned differently from the way we were. We should therefore stick steadfastly to our kith and kin, which he certainly is not. But the argument that Venezuela is not Caribbean is questionable, not in the least for the simple fact that its northern coast is washed by the Caribbean Sea. So if being “Latino” makes Chavez foreign to us, then what of our relations with China, Brazil, Israel and, yes, the powerful white-dominated troika of Europe, Canada and the US? Are these our kith and kin? Lest we forget, this latter three comprise the G7 club where not even the emerging giants of the BRICS are welcome, not to mention us. Indeed, they have condemned us to the periphery of the world arena after having enslaved and exploited us for centuries. Oh yes, that is the inconvenient truth!
But all the aforesaid pales in comparison with what these fundamental “democrats,” and sworn guardians of the “free market” universally agree is President Chavez’s unpardonable sin: questioning the US’s self-appropriated status of world gendarme, and him being perceived as recruiting CARICOM states into his mercenary anti-gendarme gang. Not known for reticence, Chavez’s caustic anti-Yankee rhetoric is proffered as evidence that he is a threat to the one with the big stick? But has Chavez’s indignant rejection of US self-proclaimed imperium in the region hurt the relations between the CARICOM and the US? The clear and unequivocal answer is no.
Why then all this hullabaloo of Chavez and ALBA being of such grave danger to the CARICOM Caribbean? I dare to postulate that the key to it all is Chavez’s courage to question Uncle Sam on the one hand, and the cowardice of some in CARICOM on the other who shudder at the mere thought of this being possible. Indeed some of the latter are akin to an Uncle Sam poodle, which rushes to retrieve the thrown stick, but changes into a pit-bull if they merely think that you are attacking their master. So it’s no headline news that they are merciless to Hugo, even at this hour of his grave ailment.
All supra dictum have me wondering why these eternally loyal Uncle Toms have not gone paranoid on Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala due to her recent challenge of Yankee imperium over the World Bank?
Madam Iweala, like Hugo, has boldly rejected the US’s Jesus complex, and its self-belief in its global messiah role. She had the audacity to declare her candidacy for president of the Bank, insisting that she was the best suited. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Sure she is Harvard trained; is an economist; holds a PhD; is a minister of finance; was a World Bank director… In short, she has a CV of relevance longer than from Suriname to Bermuda and wider than from Bridgetown to Belize City.
So what’s the problem? It’s rather simple. Ab initio, the World Bank has been a most valued piece of hardware in the US’s arsenal of economic weaponry, especially as regards execution of its policy towards the so-called Third World. It is particularly useful for disguising, when and where necessary, the US’s real intent; and is central to the US’s ability to directly dictate economic policy in most developing nations. Now here comes this Third World-black-African upstart demanding that this important column of US global economic imperium be surrendered to her, publicly declaring that suitability, and not economic and military hegemony should determine who gets to be president of the Bank!
Yes, Iweala is indeed a terrorist, for as George W. Bush said, who is not with the US is against it. Let’s not be self-deceiving. The World Bank is as much an instrument of US power as the most potent piece of weaponry in its military. Iweala’s open challenge to US suzerainty on this front is an affront, just as Hugo’s stance is as regards their behaviour in the region. Like him, she is contemptuous of the idea that American dictates is leges legume, convinced that it does not always lead to what is boni et aequi. Yet, she was spared the crucifixion that cancer-stricken Chavez must bear. I wonder why? It’d be interesting to know.
May 07, 2012