MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez made sweeping changes to the political landscape in Venezuela, including the approval of a new constitution, which established a unicameral national assembly and changed the name of the country to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela," [third Whereas clause in H.Con. Res. 328]
FACT: The Constitution of Venezuela was adopted, with the cooperation of the opposition, in one of the most democratic processes in the history of Latin America. The Mack resolution language in its context implies that this was done as if by decree rather than through an exercise of participatory democracy. In reality, the current Constitution, in contrast to the 26 other constitutions Venezuela has adopted since independence in 1811, was the first in Venezuelan history adopted by popular referendum. Its adoption was described by Professor of Political Science at Webster University and Venezuelan expert Daniel Hellinger as the product of tremendous popular support that amounted to "resounding approval for the new Bolivarian constitution." (Venezuelan Politics in the Chavez Era, edited by Steve Ellner & Daniel Hellinger, at page 43.
Venezuela's Constitution was drafted in 1999 by a constitutional assembly chosen by popular referendum. The assembly was crafted to include voices from traditionally marginalized communities, such as Venezuela’s Indigenous populations and representatives from the country's poorest barrios, as well as from vocal opponents of the Chavez administration. The draft Constitution was the first in the nation’s history to be approved by voters, garnering 72% of voter support in a nationwide referendum.
(see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_Constitution_of_Venezuela) Referring to the process through which the new Venezuelan constitution was adopted, an observer writes this, "In contrast to the experience with constitutional reform over the previous ten years, the participation of civil society...was dynamic and, according to the organizations themselves, successful. (see Ellner & Hellinger, cited above, at page186)
Additionally, given that a number of democratic countries (e.g. Sweden, Denmark, Israel) have single-chamber parliaments and numerous others (e.g. France, UK, Germany) have second chambers with very reduced political roles, it is not clear what the author of H.Con.Res. 328 means by including the fact of a unicameral legislature in a resolution condemning Venezuela. Also, it seems odd that H.Con.Res includes the country’s name change in its laundry list of apparent complaints concerning Venezuela. One has to wonder what business it is of another country what a particular nation-state chooses to call itself.
MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez’ victory in the August 2004 referendum, a constitutionally sanctioned consultative election which he attempted to thwart at every turn, enabled him to virtually rid the political landscape of any official opposition, thereby eliminating any political space in that country;"
FACT: In an op ed article published in The Washington Post on May 26, 2004, President Chavez wrote this in calling for a referendum: "To be frank, I hope that my opponents have gathered enough signatures to trigger a referendum, because I relish the opportunity to once again win the people’s mandate."
Significantly, the provision for a referendum contained in the Venezuelan Constitution is the only example of a presidential recall referendum in any country in the hemisphere. It is found in the same constitution, seemingly condemned by H.Con Res. 328 in the third "Whereas" clause in H.Con. Res. 328, and described in the first of the myths covered in this fact sheet.Incredibly, this same "Whereas" clause is completely silent on the expressed desires of the Venezuelan opposition to impose its will through force rather than through the ballot box. In addition to the military coup of April 2002, and several oil strikes, including one that devastated the economy in 2003, these include the following:
On July 25, 2004 former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, was quoted by Agence France Presse as calling for the violent ouster of President Chavez, Specifically, the ex-president said: "I am working to remove Chavez. Violence is the way that will cause this to happen. It is the only way we have...."
("Yo estoy trabajando para sacar a Chávez. La vía violenta permitirá sacarlo. Es la única que tenemos", añadió el ex gobernante...." ("Carlos Andrés Pérez insiste en sacar al presidente Chávez por la vía violenta," Agence France Presse 25 July,
In addition to the above, there was a well known plan consisting of systematic acts of violent actions and disruptive civil disobedience, called "Guarimba Plan" that was openly called for by opposition figures. In calling for the Guarimba Plan, a Cuban exile, Roberto Alonso described it this way: "The Guarimba" is the name given to a perfectly designed plan that is applied at the same time in all the major cities in Venezuela...The Guarimba is anarchical...Once the city is completely shut down – fire everywhere, barricades, etc. – some more extreme groups may do worse things." (formerly found at the website: http://www.robertalonso.com); the quotes have been taken down since their posting in 2004.)
Ex-Finance Minister Manuel Rosendo threatened violence in a Sunday, May 23, 2004 interview in the Venezuelan opposition news daily, El Universal. He stated: "I believe the National Armed Forces should take actions in that respect." ("Hay Razones para Deponer a Chavez."El Universal 23 May, 2004)
MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez has purchased 100,000 Russian AK-103 assault rifles and plans to procure the technology to produce additional rifles and ammunition, has signed an agreement with Spain to purchase Spanish-built warships, and has initiated discussions to buy Brazilian fighter aircraft;"
FACT: Venezuela's purchase of 100,000 rifles, to replace 50 year old Belgian rifles for a 124,000 person army hardly strikes one as something that ought to be of prime concern for the United States. (RIA Novosti, Rio De Janeiro, May 18, 2004). Nor has Colombia publicly expressed a concern. Indeed, Colombia's public statements are to the contrary. In an Inter-Press Service News Agency Report from May 16, 2005 it was noted that "In February, Colombian Foreign Minister Carolina Barco said Venezuela's arms purchases " respond to Venezuela's internal needs." Other spokespersons for the Colombian government of President Alvaro Uribe (no relation to the defence minister) also stated clearly that they saw no signs of an arms race.' (http://www.ipsnews.net/africa/interna.asp?idnews=27900).
Also, with respect to the purchase from Spain, H.Con. Res. 328 fails to note that President Chavez has explicitly stated the equipment would be used for purposes such as counter-narcotics activity. As well, the Spanish Foreign Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, and Defense Minister Jose Bono characterized the sale not as arms but equipment to be used for non military purposes. Specifically, the Foreign Minister said this: "I mentioned and I explained to Secretary of State Rice what has been called this so-called sale of arms. It has not been a sale of arms. It has been sale of military equipment, that means planes, transport planes, patrol boats," Moratinos said after Washington voiced concern at the transaction...." Significantly, Moratinos "underscored that the deal involved ‘no military offensive equipment' and said Rice had not asked Spain to cancel the sale.' ("Spanish FM, in US, Explains Military Equipment Sale To Venezuela," Agence France Presse, Washington, 15 April, 2004). On November 28, 2005, the Associated Press reported the following: "[Spanish Defense Minister Jose] Bono said neither the boats nor transport planes were armed and that the patrol planes were only equipped for self-defense. "This is not a warplane,' he said."(http://www.wtopnews.com/index.php?nid=389&sid=633316).
In addition, BBC News also reported on November 28, 2005 on the peaceful uses of the equipment: "Both Venezuela and Spain insisted the equipment was for peaceful purposes. Mr. Chavez said it would be used to combat the drug-trafficking in the Venezuelan-Colombian border... President Chavez said...that the boats would be used to step up Venezuela's coastal patrols against the drugs trade, while the transport planes would be used mainly for humanitarian missions inside and outside the country." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4479280.stm). Colombia President Uribe himself has stated "he and Mr Chavez `have a commitment' to increasing security along their shared border." (BBC News, February 16, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4268619.stm) Given the statement from Spanish officials that the sale is one of equipment and not arms, and the AP description of the boats (reported by WTOP) as "Four ocean patrol boats and four coast patrol vessels" one finds it odd that the author of H.Con.Res. 328 chose to characterize the purchase as one of "warships." Also, in light of its professed concern with arms in the region, H.Con. Res. 328 is strangely silent on the U.S.' planned sale of 10 F-16 warplanes to Chile. H.Con. Res. 328 also mentions nothing about Germany’s "sale of 100 Leopard tanks to the Chilean army." As reported by the Associated Press: "The government [of Chile] has rejected some of its neighbors criticism that its purchases encourage an arms race in the region...." ("Report: Germany Oks Tank Sales to Chile," Associated Press Sunday, 25 December, 2005, posted at CNN.com at 12:53 PM) Apparently, the author of H.Con. Res. 328 is not as concerned as Chile’s neighbors.
Finally, It is significant that H.Con.Res. 328 completely fails to notice that Venezuela's neighbor Colombia, announced that it would spend $540 million to modernize and strengthen its air force. A report from Inter-Press News Service Agency notes the following: "Colombian Defence Minister Jorge Uribe said his government would purchase 22 combat and tactical support planes to replace its fleets of U.S.-made OV-10 Broncos and A-37 Dragonflies, at a cost of 234 million dollars." Additionally, Colombia’s announced it would spend "306 million dollars... towards upgrading other air force squadrons "with aircraft equipped with the latest technology...." The Government of Venezuela has made it clear that Colombia has a sovereign right to this purchase. (http://www.ipsnews.net/africa/interna.asp?idnews=27900.)
MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez and his supporters have stated their intention to use their full control of the national assembly to change the constitution to allow him to remain in power until 2030, well beyond current constitutional limits."
FACT: It is hard to discern H.Con. Res. 328’s concern here. If it is that a sovereign country can’t set a term of limits for an office other than a term specifically sought by the Government of the United States or a first term member from Florida, then H.Con.Res, 328 is arguing for something that is an intrusion into Venezuela’s sovereignty. In any event, the author of H.Con.Res. 328 seems to be completely unaware that such a change would have to be approved by the Venezuelan population in a referendum. (see Articles -340-346 of the Venezuelan Constitution, "Constitutional Reform". Article 344 stipulates that, after a reform is approved by the National Assembly (by 2/3 majority. cf., art. 343.5), it must be submitted to referendum within 30 days. Article 230 specifies the presidential term.
On the other hand, if the basis for this "Whereas" clause is an objection to any change by any president in any Latin American country that seeks to expand a president’s ability to run for office, then the resolution's silence regarding Colombia is striking.
According to The New York Times"...[T]he effort by Mr. Uribe and his close allies to modify the Constitution to extend his presidency has sullied the Mr. Clean image he first presented. 'He was going to change politics as usual, and I think he succumbed to some of the traditional habits of Colombian politics that are not very well regarded by many Colombians,’ said Michael Shifter, who closely follows Colombian events for the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based policy analysis group." ("Colombian President Scrambling in Fight to Run Again," The New York Times 8 October, 2005)
MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez undermines traditional labor unions in Venezuela by creating parallel, competing, government-affiliated unions within the same company, which violates current International Labor Organization (ILO) standards;
FACT: The competing labor union, Union National de Trabajadores (UNT) is not a government creation. The UNT was established by workers concerned about the close relationship between the old union federation (the CTV) and the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce (FEDECAMARAS), and in response to worker fears that the CTV was too closely aligned with non-democratic movements within opposition parties. This was made evident when CTV Secretary General Carlos Ortega emerged as a leading media spokesperson advocating the violent overthrow of President Chavez, and headed the fateful demonstration in April 2002 which launched the failed coup d’etat against Chavez.
In a paper presented before the Social Science Research Council in Cuernavaca, Mexico in March 2005, Venezuelan labor expert Dr. Steve Ellner describes "the makeup of the UNT's 21-member coordinating committee, about half of which consisted of non-Chavistas from distinct ideological and trade union backgrounds." (website of the Social Science Research Council.
In an article taken from the International Labor Communications Association, an organization of labor communicators in North America with a national, regional, and local union membership affiliated with the AFL-CIO and the CLC, as well as associate members not affiliated with those bodies, the author writes: "The trade union movement in Venezuela has undergone important transformations in the last four years. From being led by mainly class-collaborationist leaders more closely tied to the oligarchy than to the working class (in the Venezuelan Confederation of Workers – CTV), the new trade union federation, the National Workers Union of Venezuela (UNT) has taken the lead in organizing on the basis of winning gains for workers and building their political power." (http://www.ilcaonline.org/).
The book, Venezuelan Politics in the Chavez Era, clearly notes the alliance of the traditional labor union, the CTV with Fedecameras, whose head Pedro Carmona became the president in the illegal coup of April 2002. The author writes: “The extent to which the CTV had lost its mobilization capacity was put in evidence by the three-day general strike that led up to the April 2002 coup. [T]he CTV requested the endorsement of Fedecamaras,….The powerful steelworkers leadership [criticized] the CTV for uniting with Fedecameras.... (Venezuelan Politics in the Chavez Era, edited by Steve Ellner & Daniel Hellinger, Lynn Rienner Publishers Inc., 2003)
According to the same book, the CTV, the traditional labor union in Venezuela had failed, to defend “the interests of [the] lower stratum of the population. For instance, the CTV accepted the privatization of the health system, which essentially legalized the practice of providing the poor, who lacked insurance coverage or ability to pay, with second-class treatment in public hospitals.” As well, “the CTV dropped its opposition to changes in the system of job severance payments and approved a reform that in effect reduced the [money] companies had to pay employees when they left their jobs..(Ibid)
"The CTV lost its prestige in the labor movement "given its close ties with the nation’s increasingly discredited traditional parties." (Ibid)
Unless the author of H.Con.Res. 328 is defending a union that had essentially lost its legitimacy among Venezuelan workers, and had failed to defend the interests of the poor, it is difficult to see what is the basis for the criticism contained in this “Whereas” clause.
MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez has also associated himself with other dictators...."; "Whereas President Chavez" visited Saddam Hussein....;"
FACT: The Bush administration’s partial lifting of sanctions on Libya is, on its face, far more valuable to Libya’s dictator Muamar Qaddafi than any alleged association with President Chavez. Indeed, the lifting of sanctions was urged by the president of the National Foreign Trade Council who said this: "They have changed and we ought to recognise it with some reciprocal actions on our part," said William Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council. (quoted on September 21, 2004 at http://www.warmafrica.com/index/geo/10/cat/5/a/a/artid/306)
It should be recalled too that upon lifting sanctions the White House issued a statement as follows: “While more remains to be done, Libya’s actions have been serious, credible and consistent with Colonel Gadaffi’s public declaration that Libya seeks to play a role in ‘building a new world free from weapons of mass destruction and from all forms of terrorism’.”( http://www.eastwest.be/news-jul-2004/libya.html) One wonders what the author of H.Con.Res. 328 thinks about these two statements which applaud Qaddafi, and actually provide the leader of Libya with something of tremendous economic value as noted by President Bush in his message to Congress: “In a message to Congress, President Bush said he was revoking executive orders dating back to the mid-1980's that, among other things, barred scheduled and charter air service to Libya, banned U.S. imports of Libyan refined petroleum products, and impounded some $1.3 billion in Libyan assets.” (op.cit. www.warmafrica.com).
As well, if association with dictators is the criteria, one might reasonably inquire why H.Con.Res. 328 is silent on the U.S.’ long time relationship with dictators in the Middle-East. In addition, H.Con.Res 328 mentions a visit to Saddam Hussein. What the author of H.Con.Res. 328 fails to mention is that Venezuelan President Chavez visited all the oil-producing middle-eastern countries after Venezuela assumed the presidency of OPEC in 1999. This was part of an effort for an agreement on a new set of goals for OPEC, rather than some sort of political alliance as the language of this resolution seems to suggest. CNN.Com described the trip “as part of a tour of Venezuela's 10 fellow member states of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.” (CNN.COM, August 8, 2000).
Given that the author of H.Con. Res is concerned about a visit to Sadaam Hussein, perhaps it is important to mention other visits to Saddam Hussein, particularly those in the 1980s by current Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. In an article published in The Washington Post on December 19, 2003, the following is noted about several 1980s visits to Hussein by Rumsfeld: “Donald H. Rumsfeld went to Baghdad in March 1984 with instructions to deliver a private message about weapons of mass destruction: that the United States’ public criticism of Iraq for using chemical weapons would not derail Washington’s attempts to forge a better relationship, according to newly declassified documents. “ As well, the article quotes from a cable to Rumsfeld from then Secretary of State George P. Shultz. “The statement, the cable said, was not intended to imply a shift in policy, and the U.S. desire “to improve bilateral relations, at a pace of Iraq’s choosing” remained `undiminished.’ This message bears reinforcing during your discussions [with Saddam Hussein].” (The Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13558-2003Dec18.html, by Dana Priest, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, December 19, 2003, p. A42)
One more quote from the Post article is pertinent to the concerns expressed and implied in H.Con. Res. 328:
"Privately...the administrations of Reagan and George H.W. Bush sold military goods to Iraq, including poisonous chemicals and deadly biological agents...undertook discreet diplomatic initiatives, such as the two Rumsfeld trips to Baghdad, to improve relations with Hussein."
MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez is supporting radical forces in Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador, and leftist parties in other nations in the regions in an effort to destabilize the already fragile democratic governments;"
FACT: Recent economic agreements that Venezuela has signed with Colombia, including one to establish a pipeline across Colombia for the export of Venezuelan gas have strengthened the personal relationship between President Chavez and Colombian President Uribe. President Uribe has continuously lauded the relationship he has with Venezuela. On November 29, 2005 President Uribe was quoted by AP (as reported in El Universal, an opposition daily in Venezuela) as saying “We have a history, a common present and future, with the fellow Republic of Venezuela. As long as the Venezuelan economy prospers, the Colombian economy will prosper and vice versa...." Beyond this, it is significant that, the Colombian President recently affirmed as true assertions by President Chavez of a conspiracy between exiled Venezuelan military personnel and members of the Colombian military. Uribe specifically stated regarding the conspiracy: "Instead of saying something that is not true, I affirmed my responsibility in front of him [Chavez] and I do so in public because the Government of Colombia that suffers from terrorism cannot permit anyone to create a conspiracy, particularly towards our brother country". ("Admiten Complot de Oficiales Colombianos y Exiliados del 11A." EL UNIVERSAL 18 December, 2005
El Universal also reported in that same article that President “Uribe revealed that this past Thursday he communicated with Chavez and asked him to facilitate the transportation of [a] rebel leader. 'He [Chavez] accepted and Venezuela did facilitate this, and I wish to give President Chavez my thanks publicly as a champion in this effort so that afterward no one starts to offer conjecture or distortions of this reality [that this happened as a result of my request to President Chavez].
On might reasonably wonder if President Uribe's gesture to President Chavez, announcing this last matter publicly, was targeted at unspecified assertions against President Chavez, that are often made but never substantiated, such as those made four days after Uribe’s statement by the author of H Con Res. 328.
El Universal (a Venezuelan opposition news daily in Caracas) reported on March 14, 2005, that Venezuela has been instrumental in the capture of FARC leaders: "Colombia President Alvaro Uribe stated today that the FARC’s most recent attack on the jungle municipality of Puerto Inirida, which borders Venezuela, is a reaction to the recent capture of rebel leader Gentil Alvis Patino by Venezuelan authorities."H.Con.Res. 328 is strangely silent on this.
Beyond this, the "Whereas" clause at issue in H.Con.Res. 328 appears to condemn President Chavez's support for what the resolution calls "radical forces in Bolivia." One wonders if the author of the resolution is referring to Evo Morales, the recently elected president of Bolivia, who garnered 54 percent of the vote. In fact, President Morales is the first Bolivian presidential candidate to receive a majority vote since Bolivia's democratic era began in 1983. "Evo Morales... [has] become Bolivia's first indigenous president on Sunday after likely clinching one of the biggest electoral victories in the country's history.” (Reuters, 18 Dec. 2005 <http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1419749>). One hopes that the author of the resolution is not condemning support for a majority supported, democratically elected president. In any event, the resolution offers speculation and no evidence, or sourcing, for its allegations.
Finally, regarding the charge in this “Whereas” clause, that President Chavez is seeking to destabilize Ecuador, it ought to be noticed that this particular fiction is easily contradicted by the very fact that Venezuela has purchased Ecuador’s bonds. One does not normally purchase the bonds of a country that one is seeking to destabilize. (“Venezuela Prepares Ecuador Bond Purchase,” Dow Jones Newswires, August 12, 2005. Once again, H.Con. Res. 328 is found to be thin on facts, though heavy on unsupported and unsourced allegations. As well, it was Venezuela that supported Ecuador in the fulfillment of its international oil contracts by lending it crude oil when Ecuador’s oil producing areas in the Amazon were closed down. "...Venezuela, responding to a request from the Palacio administration, will supply Ecuador's clients....Mr Chavez said Ecuador "won’t have to pay a cent for that oil; they’ll return it to us when they recover and I’m convinced they will recover". (Alexander's
Gas and Oil Connections, News and Trends: Latin America, Volume 10, Issue 17, September 15, 2005 http://www.gasandoil.com/goc/news/ntl53761.htm) Responding to the request of a regional neighbor in a time of need does not strike one as the actions of a destabilizer; rather, these are the actions of one who seeks regional stability.
MYTHS: "Whereas President Chavez through the recent congressional election now has full control over every institution of the Venezuela Government, effectively silencing any opposition and eliminating any political space;"
FACT: The OAS General Secretary recently cast blame on Venezuela’s opposition parties in a discussion concerning the December 2005 parliamentary elections in that country.
Specifically, the General Secretary, Jose Miguel Insulza stated the following in an interview with the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, as reported in Venezuelanalysis.com:
"We had a problem with the Venezuelan opposition, which assured us that they would not withdraw from the [electoral] process if certain conditions were met. These were met and despite this, they withdrew," said Insulza. "This had an impact on the high abstention," he added ...According to Insulza, "if the path of abstention is chosen, then one cannot complain that the entire parliament is in the hands of one’s political adversary." (quoted from Venezuelanalysis.com
MYTH: "Whereas President Chavez has instituted a media responsibility law which places arbitrary restrictions on broadcast media coverage..."
FACT: According to John Dinges, a Colombia University journalism professor, and former foreign correspondent at The Washington Post and National Public Radio, “Unlike Cuba (the target of Radio and TV Marti), Venezuela has an energetic, free and combative radio, television and newspaper establishment....” (“Possible U.S. Venture called ‘Propaganda’” Miami Herald 27 July, 2005) As well, it is interesting to note that The Miami Herald quotes “Teodoro Petkoff, a prominent anti-Chavez leftist politician and publisher of the daily Tal Cual as saying this: [“U]nlike in the case of Cuba, Telesur is not the only channel that can be seen from Venezuela to Patagonia…These are countries with press freedoms where you have a wide variety of news choices….” (“U.S. shouldn’t try to counter Chavez TV network” Miami Herald, 4 August, 2005<http://wwww.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/12297814.htm>).
MACK'S MYTH: "Whereas President Hugo Chavez Frias came to power promising to address the problems of corruption and poverty which plagued previous governments;"
FACT: As reported by Bloomberg News, “Venezuela's economy grew 9.4 percent in 2005 as President Hugo Chavez boosted government spending and increased subsidies for the South American country's poor.” In fact, according to the same article, a representative from Fitch Ratings stated that, "There are many signs that the [Venezuelan] economy is growing briskly. Government spending is rising and many of the funds are being transferred directly to social programs, whose recipients tend to spend as soon as they receive the funds." ("Venezuela's Economy Expanded 9.4% in 2005, Parra Says", Bloomberg News 28 December, 2005, (see attached article) http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000086&sid=aM6UjOxreCwE&refer=latin_america). As well, when compared with December 2004, the level of Venezuela’s unemployment in December 2005 showed a decline of 6.6 percent. (“Bajo Desempleo en Venezuela,” Ultima Hora, Associated Press, December 29, 2005.
Unless the author of H.Con.Res. 328 is against poverty alleviation, one finds it difficult to fathom why this particular "Whereas" clause is included in a resolution that is crafted in condemnation of the administration of President Chavez. Venezuela is the fastest growing economy in Latin America (according to 2005 GDP data from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean). As well, Venezuela is the second largest trading partner of the United States in Latin America, rising even above Brazil (according to 2005 January-October data from the U.S. International Trade Commission. One wonders if the author of H.Con.Res. 328 prefers the failed economic policies of prior Venezuelan governments, under which income per person actually fell by 35 percent from 1970-1998, one of the worst economic failures in the world. (Penn World Table, http://pwt.econ.upenn.edu/)
President Chavez's efforts against poverty have been widely recognized. For example, recently, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators adopted a resolution “To Forbid Any Incursion Upon Venezuelan Sovereignty”. This resolution reads in part as follows: "WHEAREAS President Hugo Chavez is the embodiment of the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the historically disenfranchised majority who desperately yearn for an equitable distribution of the land and the financial resources of Venezuela. President Chavez Frias has spearheaded the government campaign to institute free and universal health care and education in Venezuela; WHEREAS in 2004 the Chavez administration spent over 4 billion in social programs. This type of commitment to social justice has endeared this visionary leader to the traditionally neglected populace.."
http://www.nbcsl.com/resolutions.html, ratified 2006 resolutions, at page 56-57)
The National Black Caucus of State Legislators resolution concludes as follows:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE 29TH ANNUAL LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE OF THE NATIONAL BLACK CAUCUS OF STATE LEGISLATORS, ASSEMBLED IN WASHINGTON, D.C., DECEMBER 7-11, 2005, that members of this legislative body memorialize the U.S. Congress to forbid any incursion upon Venezuelan Sovereignty; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be circulated among the Venezuelan Diplomatic Mission in the United States of America.
Ratified in Plenary Session, Ratification Date is December 9, 2005