The aims of ALBA reflect an ideological position espoused by President Chavez, making it as much a political and social movement as an economic one. In an address in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, on Wednesday, the Venezuelan head of state told his audience, "Our calling is to convert Central America, the Caribbean into that great union envisioned by José Martí, a true world power, which can exist here if we join together . . ."Commenting on the implications of this claim -- and after remarking on Venezuela's promised largesse in Dominica (approaching US $ 100 millions) -- the article went on to address the question of the strings attached to loans, grants and aid in kind:
. . . what is the price of this for Dominica? She will find that she has relinquished her freedom of action in the political and the economic spheres, and that she is no longer a free agent within the councils of Caricom. She may have paid another, more sinister price as well.In short, we are plainly facing exactly the sort of oil-money neocolonialism from the South that -- as the article reminds us -- Historian and Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams of Trinidad and Tobago warned the region against in 1975:
Last year, without warning, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt of Dominica effectively acknowledged Venezuela's claim to Bird Island, a claim which Dominica, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and Caricom had rejected for years.
This affects more territories than the one Mr Skerritt represents; while the islet is uninhabitable, Venezuela is using it to ground a claim to a vastly expanded EEZ, which will deprive some other Caricom territories of their full maritime rights. As things stand, according to the Leader of the Grenada United Labour Party writing in the Trinidad Express on Friday, Venezuela has so far refused to negotiate a maritime boundary with his country.
It might be added that Caracas has been careful not to sign on to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, so the Caricom islands have no recourse to the court in Hamburg. So much for ALBA's supposed disinterested and declared objective of transferring resources to the most underdeveloped countries so they could develop . . . .
Venezuela has at last breached Caricom via the back door, allowing President Chavez to pursue his dream of regional integration under Venezuelan hegemony. There could be no other reason for him pouring so many millions into an island with 72,000 people.
In a famous speech in 1975 entitled 'The threat to the Caribbean Community,' Dr Eric Williams spoke of a "Venezuelan oil and industrial metropolis and an indebted Caribbean hinterland." His words were prophetic, although they did not come to pass in his lifetime.Sobering -- especially given the sort of domineering, political messianistic and increasingly dictatorial political game that Mr Chavez is playing at home -- as we discussed last time.
The Government of Dominica, possibly to be followed by two other Caricom states, may now be giving substance to those words.
Further, given unresolved, easily re-opened border and maritime rights disputes with territories ranging from Guyana and Trinidad to Grenada to Curacao to Dominica and now -- via Bird Island -- the whole EC chain, this is quite troubling.
But, it does not stop there. For, the dots go right on into the Middle East. This, we may easily see from a Parisa Hafezi July 2, 2007 Reuters report, datelined "ASSALOUYEH, Iran":
The presidents of Iran and Venezuela launched construction of a joint petrochemical plant on Monday, strengthening an "axis of unity" between two oil-rich nations staunchly opposed to the United States.In short the connexions now plainly run from sister Caricom territories, to Venezuela, emerging regional hegemon, and onward to Iran -- the same Iran that through its Mahdist Islamism envisions itself as the vanguard of the eschatological conquest of the world by Islam. [Cf earlier discussions in this blog in January 2007, here, here and here. We have already noted on Hezbollah bases in Venezuela, pointing out that Hezhbollah is effectively the Foreign Legion component of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. (NB: Cf onward link here, on the gap between the amateur wanna-be "Hezbollah" easily found on the 'net, and the real one operating (a bit more quietly) in Venezuela.) So, we should take heed from how Hezbollah has carved out an effective colony in the south of Lebanon, and then managed to drag the unwilling country as a whole into a war with Israel in 2006. ]
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who both often rail against Washington, also signed a series of other deals to expand economic cooperation, ranging from setting up a dairy factory in Venezuela to forming an oil company.
"The two countries will united defeat the imperialism of North America," a beaming Chavez told a news conference during an official visit to the Islamic Republic, which the United States has labeled part of an "axis of evil".
"When I come to Iran Washington gets upset," he said . . . . "Iran and Venezuela -- the axis of unity," read one of many official posters at the site near the port town of Assalouyeh, showing the two leaders hugging each other and shaking hands . . . .Chavez, who last week pushed two U.S. oil giants out of his country as part of his self-styled socialist revolution, said: "This is the unity of the Persian Gulf and the Caribbean Sea."
Third, we should note a significant Iranian development announced to the world just last week: Iran has just launched its first successful orbital space satellite.
That may sound harmless, unless one has knowledge of what happened in 1957 when Russia surprised the world by launching the Sputnik series of satellites: panic across the West. For, satellite launching capability is technically equivalent to capacity to build Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles [ICBMs]. That, given the ongoing international concern over Iran's evident drive to achieve nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, immediately explains the sub-headline in the just linked: "West fears Tehran mastering its atomic missile technology."
Indeed, the original web clipping (evidently succeeded by the just linked) had a perhaps even more telling subhead: "Talks underway to buy advanced Russian air-defense system." Namely, the S-300 advanced, long range air defense missile system that is more or less comparable to the US Patriot missile system. (NB: According to the just linked, the US reportedly bought a sample of these missiles to use it as a guide to upgrade capabilities of the Patriot missile.)
(So, the Ezekiel 38 dots just keep on coming . . . )
And, the pressure keeps on ratcheting up.
In the latest development, Venezuela is now (again, it seems) threatening to halt oil shipments to the USA, as ExxonMobil has sued Venezuela over unilateral expropriation of assets:
on Sunday threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States in an "economic war" if . wins court judgments to seize billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets.Of course, we must also note that a British court and a multinational corporation do not answer to the White House. And, Mr Chavez plainly knows that, but turning up the anti-Bush, anti-American rhetoric makes for better PR than acknowledging that there are serious legal issues attendant to his unilateral seizure of assets held by foreign investors in Venezuela. Issues over which some of the investors in question are taking legal action.
has gone after the assets of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA in U.S., British and Dutch courts as it challenges the nationalization of a multibillion dollar oil project by Chavez's government.
A British court has issued an injunction "freezing" as much as $12 billion in assets.
"If you end up freezing (Venezuelan assets) and it harms us, we're going to harm you," Chavez said during his weekly radio and television program, "Hello, President." "Do you know how? We aren't going to send oil to the United States. Take note, Mr. Bush, Mr. Danger" . . .
This is revealing on how the man who now rules Venezuela with powers of law-making by decree thanks to an Enabling Law, evidently habitually acts as though he is a law unto himself.
That is perhaps the most dangerous warning sign of all, and we should take heed; before it is too late for the Caribbean.
Take Note Messrs Gonzalves, Spencer and co. in Caricom: DANGER! END
PS: Before the now almost traditional rhetoric of "war for oil" gets heated up on this emerging situation until it explodes, poisoning and blinding the atmosphere, perhaps it would be wise to pause and read this report on the findings of Mr Saddam Hussein's interrogator.