Deal Averts South American Oil War….For Now

A March 7 Latin-American presidential summit meeting temporarily settled the crisis caused by Colombia’s bombing and subsequent murder by Colombian commandos of Raúl Reyes, a leader of the Colombian FARC guerrilla movement, and others, sleeping inside Ecuador territory. The Presidents of Venezuela (Chávez), Colombia (Uribe) and Ecuador (Correa) shook hands on a deal which Uribe was forced to make (for now) because his attack isolated his government in Latin America (only Bush, McCain, Obama and Hillary Clinton supported this aggression). But the deal didn’t solve the contradictions bringing the three countries to the verge of regional war.

The $5 billion in U.S. aid under Plan Colombia/Patriot (begun under Clinton and continued by Bush) has armed Uribe and the Colombian Army to the teeth. It’s now second to Brazil as the most powerful military in South America. Hundreds, if not thousands, of U.S. and Israeli military and intelligence advisors, and private Pentagon mercenaries, are involved. U.S. electronic snooping operating from three bases inside Colombia guided the murder of the FARC guerrillas.

Uribe has become the U.S. rulers’ main ally in the region. While U.S. aid was supposed to fight the drug cartels, Colombia has basically become a narco-death squad state. Dozens from Uribe’s own party are either accused of, or in jail for, their link to the drug-dealing paramilitary death squads. On March 6, marches were held in many Colombian cities, and in other countries, protesting these murderous paramilitary forces.

Colombia is the most dangerous place worldwide for union members. Thousands of workers and others have been killed for trying to organize workers, peasants and youth. U.S. companies — Chiquita Brands, Coca-Cola, Occidental Petroleum, Drummond Mining — have paid these death squads to kill union activists.

Washington’s aid to the Colombian government is basically part of U.S. imperialism’s global war for control of oil supplies. Venezuela is the main target because, along with Mexico, it’s the key Western Hemisphere oil supplier to the U.S. (Ecuador is also an important oil producer, with investments from Chevron-Texaco and Brazil’s Petrobras).

Guillermo Almeyra reported (La Jornada, Mexico, 3/9) Shell Oil’s expectation that oil production by PEMEX (Mexico’s state-owned monopoly) will diminish, so Venezuela’s oil becomes even more important for the U.S. But Chávez is dealing with Russia, China, Iran and India. Exxon Mobil is suing Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA in an international court for not paying enough for its lost Venezuelan oil holdings. This makes Chávez a target for the U.S. oil-war strategy.

Uribe and his U.S. masters don’t like Chávez’s positive international image after he mediated FARC’s release of high-profile hostages. Interestingly enough, France’s president Sarkozy was even planning to meet with the murdered FARC leader in Ecuador to work out the release of Colombia’s former presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt, a French citizen. Colombia’s government warned Sarkozy to stay away.

The whole crisis caused much debate in Colombia itself. The bosses and their press pushed nationalism to support war-maker Uribe’s government. PLP members and friends were out advancing our Party’s internationalist revolutionary politics, attacking both Uribe-Bush and the entire capitalist system, describing how the rulers worldwide spill the blood of workers and youth to fight for their oil profits and imperialist allies.

Many believe Chávez and Correa are the best friends workers can have. But Chávez and Correa, after “denouncing” Uribe as a murderer, shook hands with him at the summit meeting.

Preceding this crisis, Chávez attacked “ultra-leftists” in Venezuela who don’t support his policies 100%. One example: workers at Sidor, the country’s biggest steel producer (controlled by Technit, an Argentine company) have been fighting for a contract for over a year, demanding better benefits and wages (they’re among the lowest-paid steel workers in Venezuela). Chávez’s Labor Minister is siding with Sidor bosses as a union-buster and strike-breaker, even though four workers’ general assemblies rejected the Minister’s intervention in their struggle.

PLP must intensify its political activity, offering the communist alternative, the only way out of the capitalist-imperialist hell of oil war, strike-breaking and death squads.

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