The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article, here, on Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's popular leader who has used the clout of oil reserves to force multinational corporations to pay more reasonable royalty amounts and to help out neighboring latino countries, like Cuba, that are short-shafted by U.S. policies. The article notes that U.S. Secretary of State Rice has continued her calls for condemnation of Venezuela in spite of Chavez's being a democratically elected leader of a country that is making some strides to overcome the history of money politics that has long sustained a powerful elite.
The LA Times notes that Rice's call for a "united front" against Venezuela has been fruitless:
Washington has been spitting into the wind. Venezuela's influence in the hemisphere has continued to rise while the U.S. has succeeded only in isolating itself more than at any time in at least half a century. It might be worth asking why.
The article notes that Venezuela, in spite of a number of weaknesses, is a stable democracy. The media, mostly owned by the elite class, continues to berate Chavez at every turn. Venezuela's elections have been certified by a number of organizations as having been conducted fairly and transparently. The United States' antagonism seems more against the social views of Chavez than in support of some ideal of democracy.
U.S. government documents released under our Freedom of Information Act indicate that Washington not only supported but was involved in the military coup that temporarily overthrew Venezuela's elected government in April 2002. Here in Washington, there is a "Monty Python" attitude toward the coup: "Let's not argue about who killed who." But in Latin America, a military coup against a democratically elected government is still considered a serious crime.
If you'd like more information about the coup by Venezuelan elites intent on undermining the democratically elected presidency of Chavez and the United States' involvement in it, watch "Esta Revolucion No Se Televisar." Filmed by a U.S. film crew that happened to be in Caracas when the coup took place, it is a revealing documentary of the insurgency and its demise. It puts neither the elites of Venezuela nor the United States in a good light. Perhaps Bush should start paying more attention to the substance of the words he mouths so easily about freedom and democracy, before he tries to damage the credibility of Venezuela's duly elected president.