Hugo Chavez, Venuezuelan Presidente

Oil, Iran, and the Long Arm of U.S. Imperialism

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | October 12, 2012                      

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez On October 8, 2012, Hugo Chavez was re-elected for another six year term as President of Venezuela. A proponent of “democratic socialism” and anti-imperialism, the charismatic and outspoken former military officer has led this oil-rich South American nation since February 1999, when he rechristened it the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela after 19th century military leader Simón Bolivar.

It’s difficult for outsiders — particularly Americans — to get an accurate picture of life in Venezuela under Chavez. Vilified in the United States, Chavez is routinely condemned as a “dictator” by U.S. officials and the American corporate media. Meanwhile, bona-fide dictators with close ties to the USA, such as the Saudi royal family, or deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, are generously spared this ignominious label. Yet even the likes of former President Jimmy Carter and left-wing professor Noam Chomsky have raised questions about the level of freedom in Venezuela, criticizing its excessive concentration of power within the executive.

What is known is that Chavez maintains extremely friendly relations with the Castro regime in Cuba and the Islamic Republic of Iran. So neither Venezuela nor the U.S. are allergic to making nice with tyrants — they merely differ in their selection process. None of this excuses Chavez’s shameful, continued support for the despicable Syrian regime, which he compares to another of his repugnant former allies, the late Moammar Gaddafi of Libya.

Years ago, comedian Jay Leno made a curious remark during his Tonight Show monologue, after playing a clip from a speech featuring one of Chavez’s recent anti-Bush tirades. Why is it, quipped Leno, that wherever there is oil, their leaders seem to hate us? There’s a non-sequitur for you...

The intersection of independent-minded nations rich in resources who pursue their own interests and Western hostility toward them is no coincidence. After nationalizing Iran’s oil, former Iranian Premier Mohammad Mossadegh was also routinely accused of being a dictator, while his autocratic, pro-U.S. replacement, the Shah, was showered with tributes and praise. Latin American leaders took note when a repetition of this scenario occurred in Guatemala the following year.

Context matters as well. In 2002, the George W. Bush administration backed an illegal coup which ended Chavez’s control — and very nearly his life. The United States has long denied this, yet at the time they immediately recognized the new coup regime, faulting Chavez for instigating his own downfall. (Mossadegh’s overthrow, too was blamed on the victim). The coup was short-lived, however, as a massive pro-Chavez uprising returned Chavez to power less than two days later.

Clearly cognizant of the historical parallels, Chavez has spoken often about the threat from “The Empire”. In his 2006 address before the UN General Assembly, he strongly recommended Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival: The Imperialist Strategy of the United States. No doubt, Chavez noticed Chomsky’s emphasis on the New York Time’s post-coup assessment of Iran: “Underdeveloped countries with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy cost that must be paid by one of their number which goes berserk with fanatical nationalism...”

On October 4th, election week, the incumbent Hugo Chavez gave a live television interview for a special program aired by teleSUR TV. Discussing the value of their coveted petroleum industry (Venezuela has one of the largest, if not the largest, known oil reserves in the world), Chavez reviewed some Venezuelan history, mentioning Mossadegh in an anecdote about a former Venezuelan President, Carlos Román Delgado Chalbaud Gómez. The reference is rather dubious however, because Delgado was assassinated in 1950, the year before Mossadegh became Premier (unless he is talking about when Mossadegh was a leading member in Iran’s Parliament).

Watch the clip here (English translation follows):

“Román Delgado Chalbaud, the son of Roman...bueno, Carlos Delgado contacted Mossadegh in Iran. (this was before OPEC)... and bang — he was killed. And then like a miracle the revolution came on the 13th or 14th of April...”

Chavez had actually talked about this in detail on a November 14, 2010 broadcast of his television show Aló Presidente (Hello Mr. President). Here is an excerpt, translated to English:

Carlos Román Delgado Chalbaud

Carlos Delgado became president and was also a military nationalist, a progressive. The first petroleum delegation that Venezuela made to Tehran sent Delgado Chalbaud to meet Mossadegh, the Iranian leader who also was overthrown by the CIA, he wanted to recover oil from Iran for the Iranians, as Chalbaud wanted to recover oil from Venezuela for Venezuelans. And he was killed. The hand of the American empire, I have no doubt, was behind the murder of Carlos Delgado Chalbaud.

All the presidents, governments that sought to recover for Venezuelans, our children, the most important economic resources we have had in this century we’ve been through, all have been overthrown, including me, or killed, without exception. And behind all those hits and assassinations has been the Venezuelan bourgeoisie and beyond their masters: the Yankee empire.

Original words in Spanish:

Llegó Carlos Delgado a presidente y también era un militar nacionalista, progresista. La primera delegación petrolera que salió de Venezuela a Teherán la mandó Delgado Chalbaud, a reunirse con Mossadegh, aquel líder iraní que también fue derrocado por la CIA, que quería recuperar el petróleo de Irán para los iraníes, como Delgado Chalbaud que quería recuperar el petróleo de Venezuela para los venezolanos, lo mataron. La mano del imperio yanqui, no tengo duda, estuvo detrás del asesinato de Carlos Delgado Chalbaud.

Todos los presidentes, los gobiernos que trataron de recuperar para los venezolanos y venezolanas, nuestros niños, el recursos económico más importante que hemos tenido en este siglo que hemos pasado, todos han sido derrocados, inclúyanme ahí, o asesinados, sin excepción. Y detrás de todos esos golpes y magnicidios ha estado la burguesía venezolana y más allá sus amos: el imperio yanqui.


Related links:

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro on Iran, Israel, and the Overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: His Litany of Grievances with America

Louis Farrakhan’s Political Diatribes about Libya, Iran

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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