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Originally, the meeting to welcome Chávez had been scheduled for May 15. This was changed about five days before to Sunday, May 14, and it was very difficult to get true info about location and time of meeting. The impression was that many hundreds more people applied for tickets and either did not receive a reply or were turned down. It seems as if tickets had been supplied to those on one or more of the mayors lists, leading trade unionists and progressive lawyers such as Gareth Peirce.
The meeting was scheduled for 15:00, and at 14:00 there was a rally outside the Venezuelan embassy. There was a carnival atmosphere with a samba band and many people with Venezuelan flags and a number of banners with welcomes and slogans in Spanish prominent was the Global Womens strike, as Chávez has taken a particular interest in how women are exploited under capitalism and taken many steps to involve women in Venezuela and break their chains. There were around 200 people overall a lot of youth, but people of all ages and nationalities and many from Latin America.
Over the next hour people moved on to the Camden Centre where there was a similar very positive upbeat atmosphere. Hundreds of people both with and without tickets queued to get into the meeting in a very good-natured way and there was no negativity when people could not get in although people voiced the opinion that a much bigger venue should have been chosen some suggested Hyde Park or a football stadium. The crowd increased and there was a lot of political discussion about both the very positive situation in Latin America and the situation that people are facing here, particularly the attack on human rights and the increasing fascisation of the state being carried out by the Labour government. There was much discussion in how people could organise by coming forward to take up the struggle themselves rather then rely on politicians of the big parties.
Chávez arrived about 16:15 to much cheering and shouting and waving of flags. Many people still stayed around and the Venezuelan TV van allowed people to look at their monitors to watch Chávez speak.
The meeting was due to finish at 19:00 and most people went off to eat in-between and returned at the end. The crowds grew and Chávez finally came out around 20:30 to great cheering and flag waving again. He stopped and talked to many people and took some time to speak to some anti-war women who asked him to visit Brian Haw in Parliament Square. The British security showed disquiet at the unscheduled halt, although his own security seemed unruffled the feeling was that he had the protection of being amongst the people and therefore this negated the risk.
Again, the most enthusiastic support greeted him particularly from Latin American people and he left us with a feeling he is really a man of the people.
From http://www.rnv.gov.ve, May 15, 2006
During the opening speech given to representatives of the British trade unions, the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez Frias reiterated that the main reason for his visit to London was to give thanks for the gestures of solidarity that have been organised by the different social organisations in Britain, the TUC prominent amongst them.
Chavez recalled the historically important role of the European working class in the fundamental transformations of the economic and social systems that developed from transcendental movements such as the Industrial and French revolutions. He said that "Miranda and Bolivar were highly inspired here in London".
He pointed out in his historic speech that capitalism was born as the system that came to implement the exploitation of the citizens over their labour in inhumane conditions. However, he emphasised that with it was born an alternative to this system, a thread of thought that influenced the world community.
In the same way in England during the Industrial Revolution ideological currents developed into what became Scientific Socialism today. "At the beginning of the 21st century we need to re-examine the only thesis that can allow us to change the course of the world to save it: socialism."
He reiterated the proposal of creating a network of workers between the labour movements of Venezuela and United Kingdom, with the target of opening up cooperation in the same way that has been done amongst the peoples of South America, the Caribbean and even amongst the poor layers in the United States. He said that the strengthening of the relations should also include other areas such as education, culture and health.
He explained that in the case of the UK this cooperation should also take place in the energy industry. He asked for help from the British trade unions to design models of exchange that could be agreed upon.
President Chavez said that in Venezuela the people are guaranteed the right to health thanks to the efforts of the Bolivarian government but also above all thanks to the support of the Cuban Revolution which has sent more than 20,000 doctors to Venezuelas poorest communities. He also referred to the construction of 600 medical support centres throughout the country, equipped with high-tech equipment.
"I have a total and full respect for the autonomy of the workers movement," he said. At the same time he highlighted the 400% increase in trade union membership in Venezuela as proof of the openness of the government towards the involvement of workers.
When he was consulted about the declarations of representatives of other countries accusing him of involvement in their internal affairs, he expressed his sympathy for Ollanta Humala, the presidential candidate in Peru. He also said that Alan Garcia belongs to the desperate right wing.
He said that "the desperation of the right wing explains the accusations against us that we are using petrodollars to buy off the will of other countries. We respect the self-determination of the people as something holy, but we have the right to express our opinions."
He added that the US government, with its imperial dollars, is trying to buy the people and use war and violence when it does not get what it wants.
Finally, he answered a question referring to allegations of attacks against the press, "there has never been so much press freedom in Venezuela".
John Pilger, May 13, 2006, Guardian
I have spent the past three weeks filming in the hillside barrios of Caracas, in streets and breeze-block houses that defy gravity and torrential rain and emerge at night like fireflies in the fog. Caracas is said to be one of the world's toughest cities, yet I have known no fear; the poorest have welcomed my colleagues and me with a warmth characteristic of ordinary Venezuelans but also with the unmistakable confidence of a people who know that change is possible and who, in their everyday lives, are reclaiming noble concepts long emptied of their meaning in the west: "reform", "popular democracy", "equity", "social justice" and, yes, "freedom".
The other night, in a room bare except for a single fluorescent tube, I heard these words spoken by the likes of Ana Lucia Fernandez, aged 86, Celedonia Oviedo, aged 74, and Mavis Mendez, aged 95. A mere 33-year-old, Sonia Alvarez, had come with her two young children. Until about a year ago, none of them could read and write; now they are studying mathematics. For the first time in its modern era, Venezuela has almost 100% literacy.
This achievement is due to a national programme, called Mision Robinson, designed for adults and teenagers previously denied an education because of poverty. Mision Ribas is giving everyone a secondary school education, called a bachillerato. (The names Robinson and Ribas refer to Venezuelan independence leaders from the 19th century.) Named, like much else here, after the great liberator Simon Bolivar, "Bolivarian", or people's, universities have opened, introducing, as one parent told me, "treasures of the mind, history and music and art, we barely knew existed". Under Hugo Chávez, Venezuela is the first major oil producer to use its oil revenue to liberate the poor.
Mavis Mendez has seen, in her 95 years, a parade of governments preside over the theft of tens of billions of dollars in oil spoils, much of it flown to Miami, together with the steepest descent into poverty ever known in Latin America; from 18% in 1980 to 65% in 1995, three years before Chávez was elected. "We didn't matter in a human sense," she said. "We lived and died without real education and running water, and food we couldn't afford. When we fell ill, the weakest died. In the east of the city, where the mansions are, we were invisible, or we were feared. Now I can read and write my name, and so much more; and whatever the rich and their media say, we have planted the seeds of true democracy, and I am full of joy that I have lived to witness it."
Latin American governments often give their regimes a new sense of legitimacy by holding a constituent assembly that drafts a new constitution. When he was elected in 1998, Chávez used this brilliantly to decentralise, to give the impoverished grassroots power they had never known and to begin to dismantle a corrupt political superstructure as a prerequisite to changing the direction of the economy. His setting-up of misions as a means of bypassing saboteurs in the old, corrupt bureaucracy was typical of the extraordinary political and social imagination that is changing Venezuela peacefully. This is his "Bolivarian revolution", which, at this stage, is not dissimilar to the post-war European social democracies.
Chávez, a former army major, was anxious to prove he was not yet another military "strongman". He promised that his every move would be subject to the will of the people. In his first year as president in 1999, he held an unprecedented number of votes: a referendum on whether or not people wanted a new constituent assembly; elections for the assembly; a second referendum ratifying the new constitution - 71% of the people approved each of the 396 articles that gave Mavis and Celedonia and Ana Lucia, and their children and grandchildren, unheard-of freedoms, such as Article 123, which for the first time recognised the human rights of mixed-race and black people, of whom Chávez is one. "The indigenous peoples," it says, "have the right to maintain their own economic practices, based on reciprocity, solidarity and exchange ... and to define their priorities ... " The little red book of the Venezuelan constitution became a bestseller on the streets. Nora Hernandez, a community worker in Petare barrio, took me to her local state-run supermarket, which is funded entirely by oil revenue and where prices are up to half those in the commercial chains. Proudly, she showed me articles of the constitution written on the backs of soap-powder packets. "We can never go back," she said.
In La Vega barrio, I listened to a nurse, Mariella Machado, a big round black woman of 45 with a wonderfully wicked laugh, stand and speak at an urban land council on subjects ranging from homelessness to the Iraq war. That day, they were launching Mision Madres de Barrio, a programme aimed specifically at poverty among single mothers. Under the constitution, women have the right to be paid as carers, and can borrow from a special women's bank. From next month, the poorest housewives will get about £120 a month. It is not surprising that Chávez has now won eight elections and referendums in eight years, each time increasing his majority, a world record. He is the most popular head of state in the western hemisphere, probably in the world. That is why he survived, amazingly, a Washington-backed coup in 2002. Mariella and Celedonia and Nora and hundreds of thousands of others came down from the barrios and demanded that the army remain loyal. "The people rescued me," Chávez told me. "They did it with all the media against me, preventing even the basic facts of what had happened. For popular democracy in heroic action, I suggest you need look no further."
The venomous attacks on Chávez, who arrives in London tomorrow, have begun and resemble uncannily those of the privately owned Venezuelan television and press, which called for the elected government to be overthrown. Fact-deprived attacks on Chávez in the Times and the Financial Times this week, each with that peculiar malice reserved for true dissenters from Thatcher's and Blair's one true way, follow a travesty of journalism on Channel 4 News last month, which effectively accused the Venezuelan president of plotting to make nuclear weapons with Iran, an absurd fantasy. The reporter sneered at policies to eradicate poverty and presented Chávez as a sinister buffoon, while Donald Rumsfeld was allowed to liken him to Hitler, unchallenged. In contrast, Tony Blair, a patrician with no equivalent democratic record, having been elected by a fifth of those eligible to vote and having caused the violent death of tens of thousands of Iraqis, is allowed to continue spinning his truly absurd political survival tale.
Chávez is, of course, a threat, especially to the United States. Like the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, who based their revolution on the English co-operative moment, and the moderate Allende in Chile, he offers the threat of an alternative way of developing a decent society: in other words, the threat of a good example in a continent where the majority of humanity has long suffered a Washington-designed peonage. In the US media in the 1980s, the "threat" of tiny Nicaragua was seriously debated until it was crushed. Venezuela is clearly being "softened up" for something similar. A US army publication, Doctrine for Asymmetric War against Venezuela, describes Chávez and the Bolivarian revolution as the "largest threat since the Soviet Union and Communism". When I said to Chávez that the US historically had had its way in Latin America, he replied: "Yes, and my assassination would come as no surprise. But the empire is in trouble, and the people of Venezuela will resist an attack. We ask only for the support of all true democrats."
by Michael Fox, venezuelanalysis.com, April 22, 2006
Yesterday morning, Caracas awoke to the news in the Venezuelan daily paper, 2001, that US intelligence sources had reported the existence of a secret agreement between Iran and Venezuela whereby Iran will be sending nuclear weapons to Venezuela and Cuba.
Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Relations, Ali Rodriguez Araque, was up before the Caracas morning traffic had begun, denying the claim as "absurd" in an interview with Venezuelan Television. "It tops a chain of absurdities that have been unloaded on Venezuela in recent years," Rodriguez continued. "We have no arms deal with Iran, and the country's military relations are totally clear and public."
He indicated that Venezuela believes in the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in the world, although he added that any country should have the right to use nuclear energy with peaceful goals. He went on to condemn the intense US propaganda campaign to portray Iran as a "dark beast."
Curiously, yesterday's 2001 article, which caused the stir, is no longer available online.[ 1] In its place is an article on the Minister's reaction.[ 2] A reaction, which has been covered by over 80 media outlets around the world. But according to the AP, which reported only a tiny blurb on the piece, "other papers did not carry the [original] report and the newspaper did not give any details about how it obtained the information."
A deeper investigation, however, reveals an uncanny similarity between yesterday morning's 2001 article and the information found in an article by former self-proclaimed criminal and current US law-enforcement collaborator Kenneth Rijock.
According to Washington Technology, "Kenneth Rijock [was a] former banking lawyer and money-launderer in Miami in the 1980s, who spent two years in jail for his crimes and is now teaching law enforcement how financial criminals work and think."
In 2000, he proudly testified before the House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions, that he is "a veteran of over one hundred domestic and international bulk cash smuggling operations."
But lately, it seems, he's been busy doing anything he can to defame Latin America, Cuba, and especially Venezuela. Writing for various websites under the tagline of "Financial Crime Consultant" or "Investigative Reporter," over the past three months, he has written articles accusing President Chavez of money-laundering Venezuelan funds offshore and of promoting a foreign policy that "can only result in an armed conflict in the Caribbean." Of course, as Rijock explained in one of his recent articles, his sources "must remain anonymous for their own safety." Which explains why rarely is anyone cited.
Last month Rijock charged the director of the Venezuelan daily paper, Diario VEA, Guillermo Garcia Ponce with arranging to buy nuclear missiles from North Korea. Garcia adamantly denied the charges and according to Prensa Latina, "added that such lies are part of the US drive to destabilise the Chavez administration, and recalled that weapons of mass destruction were the pretext to justify the war on Iraq."
Rijock vs Brando
Rijock's article is entitled "Chavez Assists Castro In Moving Offensive Weapons Into Cuba," and is found on Ryan Mauro's worldthreats.com.[ 4] Although the page cites petroleumworld.com as the primary source for the article, Petroleum World editors have confirmed that they have never published a Rijock article by that name. Which is not surprising, considering that this does not seem to be the only sourcing problem the website has. Rijock's article is undated. There also appears to be a Spanish version of the article, published under a different title, at La Nueva Cuba on March 13.[4a]
Yesterday morning's article in 2001 was written by veteran journalist Jesus Eduardo Brando, and entitled "Iranian Missiles for Venezuela." Beyond talk of the Venezuelan delegation that visited Tehran last week, for the "Third International Conference in Support for the Rights of the Palestinian People" and a brief explanation of the Iranian nuclear programme, the bulk and most tantalising meat of this article is the nearly top-secret information that it claims that US intelligence agencies have reported.
However, with a close comparison of the Rijock and Brando articles, it becomes impossible to negate the fact that not only does all of the supposed "US intelligence" information from the Brando article come directly from Rijock's piece even down to an off-hand reference to the Chernobyl disaster but, moreover, that Brando is actually referring to the Rijock article when he cites "sources of US intelligence."
In the opening paragraph of yesterday's 2001 article, Brando writes:
"US Intelligence agencies report.... Nuclear weapons would be transported in oil tankers in order to evade satellites and spy planes. This would enormously increment the offensive capacity of the Cuban regime and of true threat to the security of the United States." 
Rijock writes in "Chavez Assists Castro In Moving Offensive Weapons Into Cuba":
"It is believed that Venezuelan oil tankers will be the method of shipment, thereby concealing the cargo from any prying overhead spy satellites or American aircraft. These missiles will give the Castro regime an offensive capability that, in essence, will affect the balance of power in the Caribbean, and pose a threat to the US."
Towards the end of his article, Brando writes:
"The reports add that this would constitute a nightmare for the Western Hemisphere that should be seriously considered. They warn against the danger of accidental detonation or the release of radioactive material as occurred at the Russian plant Chernobyl." 
"That nightmare should make all of us in the Western Hemisphere wake up in the middle of the night, but there is another alternative threat to consider.... Will there be an accidental detonation... that would make the Chernobyl disaster seem tame."
In his last paragraph, Brando writes:
"[The reports] suggest that Washington take a moment of attention, in the middle of its focus on Iraq to insure that those missiles never get to Venezuela.' At the same time they ask questions about whether it is once again time to toughen positions against Cuba including the possibility of a new blockade and "action against Venezuela and Señor Chavez." 
Rijock writes in one of his last paragraphs:
"The real issue is whether the United States will take a moment from its focus on Iraq and insure that those missiles never get to Venezuela.... Is it time for a hard look at another blockade of Cuba? Other alternatives include external action against Venezuela, so Senor Chavez tenure as President of his country could soon to come to an end."
The comparison can be made for the entire article, but it is probably not necessary. It is fairly clear that the so-called "US intelligence agencies", "sources of US intelligence" and "US intelligence reports" all refer to Rijock's article from worldthreats.com.
This leads us to the question of whether Rijock is on the take from the US government. Rijock's history of work with US Law Enforcement after his time in jail is adequately documented, so it wouldn't be out of the question. But considering his outrageous reports, undocumented claims, and criminal history, it is most likely he is being paid to disseminate misinformation, disinformation, and lies, and not to actually collect "intelligence." As VEA director Garcia Ponce responded last month to Rijock's accusations against him, "such lies are part of the US drive to destabilise the Chavez administration."
As for veteran journalist Jesus Eduardo Brando, it is hard to believe that he was unaware that Rijock's article was not in-fact "a US intelligence report." Even given the benefit of the doubt, the use of unconfirmed information written by a self-proclaimed criminal at best results in an absolute disregard for journalistic ethics and at worst; misinformation, manipulation and outright lies.
All necessary translations have been done by the author of this text, and sources have been cited:
5. "Reportan agencias de inteligencia de EUA.... Las armas nucleares serían transportadas en tanqueros petroleros para evadir satélites y aviones espías. Esto incrementaría enormemente la capacidad ofensiva del régimen cubano y de real amenaza para la seguridad de Estados Unidos."
6. "Agregan los informes que esto constituiría una pesadilla para el hemisferio occidental que debe ser seriamente considerada. Advierten sobre el peligro de una detonación por accidente o fuga de material radioactivo como sucedió en la planta rusa de Chernobil."
7. "Sugieren a Washington un momento de atención, en medio de su focalización en Iraq, "para esforzarse porque esos misiles no lleguen a Venezuela". Al tiempo que abren interrogantes sobre si es tiempo de endurecer nuevamente las posiciones frente a Cuba, incluida la posibilidad de un nuevo bloqueo y "de acciones sobre Venezuela y el señor Chávez."
by Nidia Diaz, Granma International, April 30, 2006
Once again, these April days have gone down in history. April 19 was the day, 45 years ago, that US imperialism suffered its first military defeat in Latin America, on the Cuban sands of Playa Girón, in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and it has yet to recover. This April 29, 2006 in Havana, capital of the first socialist country in the hemisphere, the empire has suffered another defeat, and this time a more far-reaching one, because it is the defeat of its ideas and the imposition of its model of domination.
This time, Cuba was not alone in the battle: Bolivarian Venezuela, under Hugo Chávez, and the Bolivia under indigenous leader Evo Morales were with us.
On the first anniversary of the agreements to implement the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), signed by Cuba and Venezuela, a revolutionary triad has formed with the incorporation of Bolivia into this tool of integration, and the Bolivian president's proposal, moreover, of a People's Trade Agreement (TPC) as an alternative to the free trade agreements used by the US government in its attempts to sink our people into greater exploitation and dependence.
In the documents signed by the three leaders, which include a Joint Communiqué, positions are established on an integration process that, they agreed, must be "based on principles of mutual aid, solidarity and respect for self-determination" with the goal of "providing an appropriate response to raising up social justice, cultural diversity, equity and the right to development that the peoples deserve and demand".
With this step taken by Bolivia, the integrationist efforts taking place throughout the continent under new nationalist and popular governments are deepening, efforts that are already bearing fruit in the case of Cuba and Venezuela.
Fidel, Chávez and Evo also agreed that only a new and genuine form of integration that goes in the opposite direction of the economic and political relations established by the Free Trade Area of the Americas and other free trade agreements can guarantee sustainable and sovereign development for our peoples.
The Start of a Great Day
It was at the International Conference Centre in Havana where the meeting was held of as Evo Morales said those who represent three generations of revolutionaries: Fidel, Hugo Chávez and the indigenous leader himself, all of whom signed the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) Implementation Agreement and the People's Trade Agreement (TPC).
Right at 2 p.m., Marta Lomas, Cuba's minister of foreign investment and economic cooperation, explained, demonstrating the ALBA's justice and viability, how far Cuban-Venezuelan relations have progressed since October 30, 2000 when the two countries' president signed the Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement that served as a basis for the December 14, 2004 signing of the Joint Declaration and the ALBA Implementation Agreement.
Consequently, Lomas noted, Cuban and Venezuelan delegations met on April 28 and 29, 2005 in what was the first meeting for the ALBA's implementation, and where the first Strategic Plan was approved to set it into motion.
The outcome has been extremely eloquent and encouraging, and is an expression of what the peoples can achieve with agreements in which honour, solidarity and love for the people are the main objective.
It was pointed to as the most outstanding achievement of the period when, this past October 28, UNESCO declared Venezuela to be Illiteracy-Free Territory, something accomplished in less than two years of hard-fought struggle against that disgrace. Likewise, it was announced this past March 20 that Bolivia will begin a literacy campaign with the participation of 20 Venezuelan literacy educators, Bolivian experts and 48 Cuban consultants.
In 2001, trade between Cuba and Venezuela was $973 million. In 2005, that figure went up to $2.4 billion, representing growth of 255% in non-oil Venezuelan exports to Cuba compared to 2004.
In 2001, Cuban medical cooperation did not yet exist in Venezuela. Today, 23,601 Cuban health professionals are lending their services, providing care for more than 17 million Venezuelans, with a historic record of 175 million medical consultations.
Currently, 3,328 Venezuelans are studying General Comprehensive Medicine in Cuba, and 12,940 are doing so in Venezuela under the Comprehensive Community Programme, under the guidance of 6,525 Cuban experts who are part of the Mission Barrio Adentro (Into the Barrio) Programme.
As of April 28, under the Operation Miracle programme, 220,571 vision restoration operations had been performed, with 188,389 of them on Venezuelans. In 2001, Operation Miracle did not yet exist; today, patients from 17 Latin America and Caribbean nations are benefiting, and others are joining in.
In 2001, there were more than one million illiterate people in Venezuela; today, that country is an Illiteracy-Free Territory. With Cuba's advisement and the "Yes, I Can!" teaching method, 1,482,543 people learned how to read and write, 76,369 of them from indigenous groups.
In 2001, Venezuela and Cuba began down the road of ALBA, and now Bolivia has joined, and others will join.
After the documents were signed, Fidel was asked by a Telesur network reporter how he felt, 45 years after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, about sharing his central revolutionary role with other presidents. The Cuban president was precise in his answer: "I feel like the happiest man in the world." He reiterated this idea at the massively attended event in the Plaza de la Revolucion this Saturday, April 29, topping off a day of solidarity, integration and revolution.
Culmination of a Special and Historic Day
In the Plaza de la Revolucion, where as Chávez said we were accompanied by Bolivarian winds, the winds of ALBA and the winds of Che Guevara who is with us again, Fidel exposed the double standard of the anti-terror campaign carried out by the United States; Chávez warned that the 21st century will be the end of the empire; and Evo noted that the time to reclaim the Americas had come, constituting a historic night of unity and hope for the hemisphere.
At 6:10 p.m., with more than 25,000 guests in place, the 29th came to an end, a day in which as Chávez said "one's emotions are stirred" because it is one of those groundbreaking days that take root in the collective memory and become revolutionary commitment.
Participants in the event included official visiting delegations, along with leaders of Venezuela's Bolivarian secondary schools and Bolivian social organisations; students from the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM); the International School of Sports; the new Latin American Doctors Training Programme; and members of the Francisco de Miranda Venezuelan Social Fighters Front.
In addition, participants included doctors and technicians from the Henry Reeve International Contingent; Operation Miracle; engineers and technicians preparing to lend their services in Venezuela's Comprehensive Health Centres and young people involved in various programmes of the Cuban Revolution.
Evo gave the first speech, and after thanking the Cuban and Venezuelan peoples and their top leaders, Fidel and Chávez, said that the time had come for unity, "a unity that is for life and for independence, and that is over and above any sectorial or regional interest".
After recounting anecdotes from his early days as a revolutionary and as a person committed to the peoples and the Cuban Revolution, he affirmed that three generations of revolutionaries had come together in Havana and three revolutions: "the Cuban one, the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela and the Bolivian Revolution to liberate all of Latin America and the world."
Evo noted that only by rescuing their natural resources will the peoples be liberated, and in that sense, he referred to the call he made for a Constituent Assembly for the refoundation of Bolivia, a Bolivia that "must stop being a beggar, even though oligarchic sectors are attempting to put up resistance".
Moreover, the Bolivian president said that his country intends to nationalise not just its hydrocarbon resources, but all of its natural riches, to benefit the people.
"Our government will never abandon the struggle to return to the Bolivian people the resources that belong to them," he emphasised. In that sense, he stated that he has a mandate to guarantee a democratic and social revolution in Bolivia to do away with the neo-liberal model and de-colonise the nation's riches. "I am sure that with the unity of the Bolivian people, we will defeat the exploiting oligarchy," he affirmed.
He added that he is convinced that his people are not alone, just as Cuba is not alone either; it is accompanied by Venezuela and Bolivia, he said.
Regarding the agreements that were signed, he said that only the ALBA can confront and defeat the FTAA, and it is the only way to overcome colonialism and neo-liberalism.
Thanks to Operation Miracle, which is the fruit of ALBA, more than 7,000 Bolivians have had their vision restored, and many Cuban doctors are already lending their services in his country's provinces, he noted.
Finally, he used the opportunity to congratulate Fidel, in the name of the Bolivian people, for his upcoming 80th birthday, and ahead of everybody else presented him with three gifts, framed images using coca leaves of José Martí, Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara, and Fidel himself.
Bolivia Is a Commitment
President Hugo Chávez spoke next, and with his usual colloquial and impassioned tones, gave us a masterly class on Latin American history.
He wanted to begin by talking about Bolivia, which is, he said, "a commitment, a challenge, an unbridled love of freedom, of equality". It is, he reiterated, "the heart of America and utopia made feasible".
He noted that that nation was born as a project, as a dream, 180 years ago. The Bolivarian Revolution, which has declared itself to be anti-imperialist and socialist, he said, reaffirms its determination and decision to support Bolivia and its government in all of its goals.
Chávez had words of praise for the Andean country's incorporation into the ALBA just 24 hours after Evo's first 100 days in power.
With that incorporation, "we are moving onto another aspect of the ALBA, because it was he who proposed a new tactical piece: the People's Trade Agreement (TCP)", the Venezuelan president added.
The ALBA will continue to open the road to that new model of integration against the FTAA, against capitalism and against imperialism, he said.
"It is up to you, the young people, to see with your eyes the collapse of the US empire, because this is the century that will see its end, the century of the birth of our new homeland, where we will all be free with greater happiness," Chávez concluded, not without announcing that "our heroes have returned to the Americas".
Fidel Harshly Criticises the Bush Administration's Double Standard
The event's closing remarks were given by Cuban President Fidel Castro who explained, with that brilliant didactic manner that characterises him, what the ALBA means in terms of developing the human capital of our peoples.
"This agreement that we have signed today is the most ethical that has ever been signed. It is not for two or three who want to divide up their riches. We have the enormous power of just ideas," Fidel affirmed.
He referred to the new type of health professionals who are being trained, the generosity that characterises them; to how it is no longer just Cuba that is training doctors, but Venezuela as well, and with unbeatable quality, and that in about 10 years, they will number tens of thousands.
Again, he reiterated the need for Chávez and now Evo to be careful, because "the enemy will not desist until it has taken your lives, because they know very well how to carry out silent assassination". Later, in referring to the continent's new reality, he predicted that "there is no way to prevent the emergence of new leaders".
He noted that the empire craved for power from early on, and noted how in 1929, they invaded Nicaragua and assassinated revolutionary leader Augusto César Sandino in order to impose Somoza, just as they did with Trujillo in the Dominican Republic and with dozens of other bloody, coup-plotting dictators throughout the years.
Likewise, he noted, they carried out the massacre of the indigenous people, beginning with the conquest and colonisation, and it was the nascent empire that finished them off.
In that sense, he explained the validity of recalling those events on this day, April 29, in which the foundations of the ALBA are extended with Bolivia. It is an agreement that constitutes a check against the FTAA, which is nothing more than "a refined instrument of domination and that represents the tactics of the US government for subjugating our peoples", he said.
He also referred to the other element that comes with the FTAA, and that is the military projection of the US government, with its manoeuvres in the Caribbean region, the establishment of military bases, the expansion of the imperial intelligence networks, and other prerogatives.
During another part of his speech, the Cuban president reiterated that Cuban doctors will be in Bolivia for as long as necessary and that Cuba will support the Bolivian Revolution in everything that it needs.
Finally, Fidel noted the double standard and two-faced morality with which the Republican administration of George W. Bush carries out its supposed anti-terrorism campaign.
With respect to that, he referred to the latest report by the US State Department, which impudently accuses the Hugo Chávez government of being linked to terrorist Colombian organisations and, in Cuba's case, the document defines it as being a sponsor of that activity, along with Iran and North Korea.
The revolutionary leader harshly criticised the empire's hypocrisy on this issue, given that while attempting to portray Cuba and Venezuela as terrorist, the US government negotiated for and obtained from former Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso a pardon for the terrorist and criminal Luis Posada Carriles and his henchmen, only to later allow him to illegally enter the United States, where it not only hid him but also never responded to Cuba's repeated public calls to say how and where he entered and who participated in that repugnant operation.
"It is impossible to pretend that Mr. Negroponte and his publicised intelligence agency with more than 30 offices, and the high-ranking officials of that government, didn't know where Posada was, one of the bloodiest terrorists of this hemisphere, the torturer and assassin of many Venezuelan revolutionaries, and one of the main individuals responsible for the blowing-up of a Cuban airliner in Barbados in October 1976," he said.
"Now, they don't know what they are gong to do with Posada Carriles and while they look for a way to protect him, they are launching these ridiculous accusations against Venezuela and Cuba, while at the same time carrying out military manoeuvres in the Caribbean to try to fill us with fear, something they will never achieve, because both of our peoples are determined to defend their freedom at any price," he affirmed.
The Cuban president clearly said he felt proud to be a friend of North Korea, the country of Kim Il Sung, and expressed the honour it represented to be friends with Iran and its heroic people.
Fidel noted that Cuba has been denouncing the preparations underway by the US administration to carry out aggression against Iran, and emphasised that in face of such arrogance and lack of common sense, it is worth asking in whose heads the destiny of the humanity lies, and the magnitude of the danger to the human species itself.
With the support of those present, Fidel affirmed that "the yankees with their manoeuvres in the Caribbean are not going to frighten anyone, because the children of Bolívar are courageous in any situation. I know about your human quality and your revolutionary spirit," he said.
Miguel Bonasso, Argentine parliamentary deputy, and former Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Sandinista candidate for the upcoming presidential elections in that Central American nation, were present during the entire day of continental revolutionary reaffirmation.
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