From the October 2005 Idaho Observer:

Chavez delights world, angers U.S.

by Don Harkins

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is either a rising star or the new Saddam Hussein. It all depends on your perspective.

The Council on Hemispheric relations described how the world sees the Venezuelan president: "To the world, Chávez is a man of many faces: Bold social reformer, naïve idealist, savvy economic opportunist, irresponsible fiscal rogue, democratic champion, authoritarian leader, Latin America’s savior and Washington’s worst nightmare."

Last August 7, Chavez suspended cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. This development came after he had been criticizing U.S. foreign policy and vowed not to return to the U.S. until the oppressed American people were liberated.

It was becoming clear that Chavez, who survived a CIA-backed coup attempt in April, 2004, was pulling his country away from the U.S. and was even threatening to stop selling oil to America.

Then, as an opening salvo in the war of words, Republican party insider and televangelist Pat Robertson said on the 700 Club, on August 22, 2005, "We have the ability to take him [Chavez] out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability."

Not a very Christian thing to say, but since planting that thought deep into the minds of his faithful followers, the demonization of Chavez in the U.S. press has been building.

There is little doubt that the Bush administration has reset its sights on the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution—and Nobel Peace Prize candidate. The FreeMarket Press reported Sept. 18, 2005, that U.S. warships had assembled off the Venezuelan coast and 500 soldiers had been stationed in Paraguay since July. "Chavez claims the U.S. is readying a ‘foolhardy enterprise,’ that would result in a "100-year war. We are prepared,’" the Press quoted Chavez as stating.

Chavez did return to the U.S. even though Americans are still oppressed. He took his seat at the UN General Assembly Sept. 16, 2005, and "generated the loudest burst of applause for a world leader at the summit with his unbridled attack on what he characterized as American militarism and capitalism. He even offered a proposal to move the United Nations to Jerusalem or a city in the developing world," wrote Colum Lynch of the Washington Post.

Chavez also seized the opportunity to rail the Bush administration for its deplorable behavior in the aftermath of Katrina and for failing to arrest Robertson. "The only place where a person can ask for another head of state to be assassinated is the United States, which is what happened recently with the Reverend Pat Robertson, a very close friend of the White House," Chavez said. "He publicly asked for my assassination and he’s still walking the streets."

The AP reported October 1, 2005, that, "Venezuela has moved its central bank foreign reserves out of U.S. banks, liquidated its investments in U.S. Treasury securities and placed the funds in Europe."

"We’ve had to move the international reserves from U.S. banks because of the threats [ from the U.S.]," Chavez explained in a televised address from a South American summit in Brazil.

The popular leader "proposed the creation of a South American central bank that would hold the foreign exchange reserves of all the central banks in the region," the AP reported.

Also on October 1, 2005, it was revealed that Chavez was one of 163 individuals and 36 organizations nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.

Aside from being the biggest new bee in the Bush administration bonnet, "Chavez has continued his humanitarian projects, the most recent of which are extending Mission Miracle in alliance with Cuba to correct blindness and sight disorders to the whole of the American continent, including the U.S. and the Caribbean. He has also offered crude oil, gasoline and heating oil at preferential, financed rates to smaller Caribbean countries, as well as Uruguay and Paraguay which are struggling with the sky high price of energy," reported Carlos Herrera.

The U.S., a nation with a severely tarnished image among the community of nations, is building a case for war against Chavez. To the rest of the world, he is arguably the most exciting and inspirational world leader alive today.

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