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Column 081312 Brewer

Monday, August 13, 2012

As Venezuela Burns Chavez Meddles in Argentina-British Affairs

By Jerry Brewer

Although the fight for the Falkland Islands/(Islas) Malvinas continues ad nauseam, it is important to shine light to distinguish clearly those national leaders that simply support one or the other's claims, and those that meddle with intensity for a hidden purpose or self-serving political agenda.

Such is the case of leftist President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who often rattles his sword and threatens anyone that does not share his ideals and penchant for revolution. He has often demonstrated that he is quick on the draw to make threats and then squanders millions on military weapons purchases from leftist and other rogue international governments. These massive and less than transparent expenditures by Chavez have been at great detriment to the Venezuelan homeland that suffers from food shortages and massive infrastructure decay.

His insults and attempts at strong-arming world democratic leaders are well known throughout the world. In the Americas alone he has done it to the U.S., Colombia, Mexico, Honduras, and recently Paraguay. He threatens to mass troops to defend his allies, such as Rafael Correa of Ecuador in turf disputes with Colombia involving the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] guerrillas; as well as in support of the former and ousted President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya.

Chavez has made it no secret that he was an early supporter of Argentina's Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner before she was elected to office. Furthermore, Chavez was accused of an early illegal contribution from Venezuela to the presidential campaign of now President Fernandez de Kirchner.

Guido Antonini Wilson, a Venezuelan businessman with U.S. citizenship, arrived in Buenos Aires on a chartered flight with Argentine energy officials and executives of Venezuela's state-run oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). And Argentine customs agents caught him with a suitcase stuffed with $800,000 in cash that reportedly was from Chavez.

It is also no secret that Chavez, who "controls the hemisphere's largest oil reserves, lavishes billions of dollars in foreign aid on allies to promote his anti-U.S. Bolivarian Revolution."

In a bizarre verbal attack in February 2010, on Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Chavez ranted with his usual weakness and lack of public decorum; "Look, England, how long are you going to be in Las Malvinas? Queen of England, I'm talking to you. The times for empires are over, haven't you noticed? Return the Malvinas to the Argentine people. The English are still threatening Argentina. Things have changed. We are no longer in 1982. If conflict breaks out, be sure Argentina will not be alone like it was back then."

Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982, claiming sovereignty as the "Malvinas." A British Naval task force traveled the 8,000 miles to easily put an end to the invasion, an action that ultimately aided in toppling the Argentine military dictatorship and a shift to democratic rule.

Hugo Chavez has been accused, and is believed to have mismanaged, Venezuela's massive oil wealth, and he consistently refuses to explain how such an oil-rich country has fallen financially and failed the people. The squandering and unaccountability of Venezuela's vast oil revenues remains a mystery to the Venezuelan populace.

Yet now it appears that Chavez wants to influence the management of possible oil reserves surrounding the Falkland/Malvinas islands.

Argentina's new "State-controlled" oil company, YPF, has a partner in Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA that decided to explore the area surrounding the islands. PDVSA president Rafael Ramirez Carreño said, "We discussed the need for oil and gas exploration in the territory and offshore areas adjacent, but we have to analyze the costs and time." President Fernandez de Kirchner aggressively took the lead and moved further by sending a letter to 15 British and American banks, "threatening them with legal action for advising companies exploring for oil around the islands."

Argentina recently began attempting to hamper oil exploration in the region, insisting last week that "all vessels using its ports must now seek permission if they plan to enter or leave British-controlled waters."

Great Britain, sensing Argentina's renewed claims in governing the islands and Venezuela's interference in the region, quickly demonstrated its readiness to face an armed conflict if it becomes necessary to protect its sovereignty.  Great Britain deployed military troops, and announced the "dispatching in the Islands a nuclear submarine meant to guard the surrounding waters of the Falkland Islands."

And Chavez, once again, has joined the island-related disputed rhetoric in support of Argentina with an additional threat. "In this case I speak only for Venezuela, but if the British Empire should militarily attack Argentina, Argentina will not be alone on this occasion. Venezuela is not most powerful, but we will resist the imperialist aggression against sister countries."

The region's future is blurred as Argentina claims rights to the Malvinas Islands, "since it considers the fact that it inherited them once with the independence gained from Spanish governance at the beginning of 1820's." This while Great Britain stands firm in its decisions of claiming sovereignty of the islands since 1833, when it established its first British settlements in the area.

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Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org/.


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