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The smell of secession
I wonder how those same teenagers would have reacted two weeks later (February 19) to the headline that the U.S. supported the independence of Kosovo. The article had an adjoining caption that read: “The U.S. has its largest foreign military base in the new country.” And the photo accompanying the article was of a smiling elderly man holding an Albanian flag in one hand and an U.S. flag in the other. I thought of what my reaction would be if I saw a group of people in the Venezuelan state of Zulia waving joyfully the flags of Colombia and the U.S. instead of the flag of Venezuela.
I knew nothing, absolutely nothing about Kosovo, but there was something strange in what I was seeing and reading. In times past I would have written that “something smelled fishy.” Today I have to say that “something smelled oily.” It turns out I was right.
Searching the internet I found three articles that filled in a bit of my ignorance: Camp Bondsteel and America’s plans to control Caspian oil; "Independent Kosovo", a Territory under US-NATO Military Rule; and a critique of an earlier article by the author of this second item, Chossudovsky’s Frame-Up of the KLA 1999.
I have no way of checking the accuracy of everything in these articles, but no one can doubt that oil interests are involved in the matter of Kosovo. It seems that although Albanians make up the majority of the Kosovo’s population, the area also contains the majority of Serbia’s mineral wealth and it is understandable that Serbia doesn’t want to give up the land. Even more importantly, the U.S. is building a pipeline there to carry petroleum from the Black Sea to the Adriatic Sea.
A Venezuelan friend mentioned to me that it seems ironic that the United States, which had a bloody civil war to prevent that the South secede from the Union, should be marching around the world promoting secessions in other countries.
Venezuela has announced that it will not recognize the new government of Kosovo. I don’t know enough about the conflict there to take up the case of one side or the other, although such a heavy U.S. military presence does not augur well for true freedom in Kosovo. But I see many similarities between what has happened there and U.S. policy in Latin America.
In Venezuela, there is frequent talk about the status of the state of Zulia. Zulia borders Latin America’s Little Israel, Colombia; is super-wealthy in its oil deposits; and, the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, Patrick Duddy, recently visited Zulia and its opposition governor, Manuel Rosales, for three days. A few days ago one of the candidates to replace Rosales said that if he wins the election he will call a constitutional assembly in the state to establish a “Hong Kong of the Caribbean, a special economic and political zone different from the other regions.”
On the other side of Venezuela bordering Guyana, there is a large area of land that has been under dispute between the two countries for many years. The Council on Hemispheric Affairs recently published an article about the role the U.S. could play in the relations between the two countries.
In Bolivia, the mineral-wealthy part of the country is trying to declare its autonomy, separating itself from the majority indigenous population and running off with a chunk of Bolivia’s underground treasury.
In Ecuador, the mayor of the port city of Guayaquil personally leads demonstrations against the government led by President Rafael Correa. Oil is the principal export of Ecuador.
It all smells oily to me.
There is another smell that I sense. The 1999 constitution of Venezuela says that no foreign military bases can be constructed here. Bolivian president, Evo Morales, has indicated that the U.S. is helping opposition elements because the proposed new Bolivian constitution prohibits foreign military bases there also. And in Ecuador, President Correa has indicated that permission for the U.S.’s Manta air base on Ecuador’s Pacific Coast will not be renewed when the contract expires in 2009. (He did say it could stay open if the U.S. agrees to let Ecuador have a military base in Miami.)
So, in addition to smelling oil, there also seems to be another strange odor. One of the above articles on Kosovo mentions the involvement of the CIA. Could anyone tell me what perfume the CIA uses?
Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo - one of the world's largest US military bases.
Charles Hardy is author of Cowboy in Caracas: A North American’s Memoir of Venezuela’s Democratic Revolution, published by Curbstone Press. Other essays by Hardy can be found on his personal blog Cowboyincaracas.com. You may write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.