Foreign Affairs

Hugo Chavez’s Impending Oil War

Fidel Castro is anti-American Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez’s hero and mentor. But what happens when Castro dies? Chavez won’t let freedom take Cuba, and Chavez’s alliances with China, Iran and every enemy of America come into play in “Showdown: Why China Wants War with the United States” (published by Regnery, a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).

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Here is the scene from chapter 4, called “The First Oil War”: With Castro dead and Cuban-Americans flocking into Havana, Chavez immediately begins to live up to his promise against America—“If there is any aggression, there will be no oil”—and a new American president is faced with a Chinese presence in Venezuela. Chavez overplays his hand and a war begins that threatens global war between America and China. “Showdown” uses the realities we face to illustrate, in this fictional scenario, how Chavez’s rant at the UN can have real and significant consequences for America and the world.

And it can get worse. Chapter 6, “World War Oil,” deals with events triggered by another, and far more dangerous, fellow traveler with the People’s Republic of China and ironically a fellow UN buddy of Hugo Chavez, Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. When China, Iran and Venezuela form an alliance, America—for the first time—has to go to war for oil.


“If there is any aggression, there will be no oil.”
—Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, March 4, 2005

“Fidel is more than a friend. Fidel is like an older brother.”
—Hugo Chavez, Oct. 17, 2005

Caracas, Venezuela
Monday, 9 August 2010
1015 Hours Local

“Señor Presidente, Fidel is dead. And the counter-revolutionaries in Miami have already said they will return and take over Cuba.”

Hugo Chavez shook his head sadly. “He was the greatest of men. His birthday was only a few days away.” Then, suddenly, he snarled, “How can you even worry about the counter-revolutionaries? They will never be allowed to return. The Bay of Pigs taught them a lesson. And this new American president—she would never allow it to happen. The Fidelista revolution cannot be defeated by a few people in boats.”

“But Señor Presidente, there are already demonstrations around Fidel’s palace. The anti-Fidelistas are on television; the counter-revolutionaries in Miami are planning to fly huge planeloads of people to Havana to celebrate and seize the government.”

“They will be shot down.”

“But what if the Fidelistas do not act?”

“Then we will act. We will get there before the imperialists can. We will preserve the Cuban revolution. Call in the military staff immediately. And get me General Xin.”


Caracas
Twenty Minutes Later

Within a period of twenty minutes, President Chavez had gone from sadness over the death of a friend to preparing eagerly for war in Cuba. He had ordered the presidential photographer to attend him immediately and constantly. Venezuela’s ambassador in Cuba told him the island was in turmoil; he expected mass bloodshed, especially if the Miami counter-revolutionaries tried to invade. Next on the line was China’s military attaché. General Xin’s Spanish was both perfect and accentless.

“It is sad tidings, Señor Presidente. The world has lost a great leader and you have lost a great friend.”

“It is true—and now I must act. We are a great nation, but we need your help. You have many ships and aircraft in our port. I have decided to move one thousand troops to Havana to help the Cuban people restore order. The counter-revolutionaries from Miami will try to get there first. We need your ships and aircraft to get our forces there tonight.”

“That may be difficult, Presidente. I will have to get approval from my senior officers in Beijing, and they are, as you know, about twelve hours ahead of us. It is the middle of the night there.”

“Then wake them.”

“I will do my best, Presidente.”


Paradise Ranch, Nevada
10 August
0430 Hours

The secure cell phone by the side of the bed rang, eliciting a groan from its custodian, Lieutenant Colonel Matt O’Bannon. He rolled over to grab it.

He was in the middle of nowhere: the visiting officer’s quarters in the Paradise Ranch section of Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Ben Rich—the 1980s head of the super-secret Lockheed Martin “Skunk Works”—had called it “Paradise Ranch” to lure young pilots there. It wasn’t anybody’s idea of paradise, just scrub desert and hills where wives and girlfriends couldn’t visit. In his twenty years in the Air Force, O’Bannon—and his three (so far) unsuccessful marriages—had spent a lot of time here, because it was the secret test area for two of his favorite aircraft: the B-2 stealth bomber and the F-117A stealth fighter. The Hollywood types liked to call it Area 51, which wasn’t quite right. Area 51 was next door, another part of Nellis where other classified stuff went on at all hours of the night.

“O’Bannon here.”

“Up and at ’em, hotshot.” The deputy commander of Air Combat Command was always annoyingly cheerful when he was delivering bad news. O’Bannon snapped awake.

“Whuzzup, boss?

“You won’t freakin’ believe it, but we—meaning you—have just been put on alert for a Cuba mission.”

“Cuba? I thought our beloved president was restoring relations with the leftover commies. I was counting on getting a Cuban cigar again—legally.” “That was yesterday. Now is now. The Cubans are rioting, the Castroites are gunning people down, the Venezuelans are airlifting troops in there, the UN is in an uproar, and get this—it looks like the Chinese are providing airlift and sealift to get the Venezuelans into Cuba. They’re denying it, of course, but the com traffic between Beijing and Caracas sure implies it. CIA and State have their heads up their asses as usual. We have some sat recon, but not much else. The U-2s are unable to get in past the Cubans’ double-digit SAMs. The other B-2 squadrons are either deployed to Guam or Diego Garcia. You’re the only one in easy flying distance. You want more good news?”

“No.”

“Well, here it is anyhow. The Cuban exiles in Miami want to flood back into Cuba by charter plane and everything floatable. Florida’s senators are raising holy hell that the president needs to do something.”

O’Bannon’s mind was racing. His squadron of B-2 bombers could be readied and in the air in less than three hours—maybe a lot less. “What’re our orders, sir?”

“Roust your people ASAP. Get in the air and back to Whiteman immediately. I want you loaded and ready to launch by nightfall. Stand by for a deployment order. It could come at any time.”

“What do you want us to load with, sir?”

“Everything you have except nukes and sea mines. Use the normal mix, but I want one aircraft loaded with the new MOAB. Fly that one yourself.”


Caracas
10 August
1200 Hours Local

“But General Xin, the aircraft you lent us cannot be withdrawn.”

“Señor Presidente, they already have been. I most humbly apologize, but my government has cautioned you again and again. The Americans have been very tolerant of our actions here. But we cannot antagonize them directly. Your forces have been delivered to Havana. We will not do more.”

“Then what if I tell you that you cannot operate your ships in our harbor? That you cannot rely on us to reduce oil shipments to America and send them to you? What will you do then, eh?”

“Please, Señor Presidente. Calm down. You know how much Beijing has invested in your nation, and how much we value your personal trust and friendship. Especially the new ports you let us build for our oil tankers and submarines. We do not intend to let you down. But we are urging caution.”

“Then let us be cautious together. The Cubans have asked for our help, and we have given it. I am flying to Havana today to meet with the revolutionary government. I will offer them advice and aid—and with China behind us we cannot fail.”

“We have what you need, Señor Presidente. We have in Caracas one of our newest and best aircraft. It is an F-11 fighter, a two-seat version of the Russian SU-27 we have made in China. It is very fast and very capable. You may use it to fly to Cuba.”

“You brought this new weapon here without my permission?”

“Consider it a gift, Señor Presidente.”

Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri
10 August
1230 Hours

“So what the hell are the Chicoms up to?” Matt O’Bannon hadn’t had breakfast, and lunch was going to be a protein bar and coffee. No place to smoke here, but he had three Paul Garmirian Family Reserve cigars waiting in a Tupperware container in his flight bag.

“As usual, my guess is better than yours, Colonel.” The ACC deputy had flown to Whiteman to oversee the mission planning. “It’s pretty complicated. The Chicoms are trying to let Chavez play the big hero and keep him from doing something stupid at the same time. The UN Security Council meeting is right now, considering our resolution to condemn the Venezuelan intervention and demand their withdrawal. The president has her pantyhose in a knot, and our UN ambassador is getting the one-finger salute from the French and the Russians.”

“So we stand down?”

“No such luck. The boss just told me that the Senate is preparing a war resolution and may vote on it this afternoon.”

“So we go tonight?”

“That’s not what I said, Colonel. I said we stand by.” The secure phone on the table between them didn’t ring. The red light on it blinked rapidly. “I’d answer that, Colonel. I think it’s for you.”

“O’Bannon here.”

“Hi, sweetie.” Navy commander Cully O’Bannon was the boss of a group formally—and secretly—known as “Green Team.” When SEAL Team Six was disbanded under the Clinton administration, the members of the team had migrated to Dev Group and Green Team. They still called themselves “the Jedi,” as they had when Team Six was operational.

“Okay, couch potato. Listen up. I only have about one minute.” Cully was sitting beside a curtained window, looking out on a stretch of beach just north of downtown Havana, which he had first seen at about 0245 that morning when he and his men swam up to it and slipped into Cuba unseen. “I just heard from two of my guys who are in a building near the presidential palace. This joint ain’t Mogadishu yet, but if it accelerates much, it’ll be that way by dawn tomorrow. The streets are crowded with civilians and Cuban and Venezuelan troops. They are taking potshots at the crowd, which is getting bigger all the time. This thing could blow any minute. If we’re gonna do anything, it’d better be soon or there will be thousands of civilian casualties.”

Matt knew better than to ask his little brother what orders he had.

“What’s going on at the port?”

“Nothing much now, but every damned Cuban patrol boat went outta here like a bat outta hell about an hour ago. Near as I can tell they’re headed into the path of anything coming by water from Miami. And there are a lot of Cuban fighter aircraft in the air, covering the same course over and over again. They’re not too calm either. A couple of them popped mach over me. Almost spilled my coffee.”

“You’re just full of good news, swabbie. Check six and don’t get killed. Mom will never forgive you if you do. Out here.”


Caracas
11 August
1330 Hours Local

Hugo Chavez paced around his desk. His staff and General Xin were trying to calm him down.

“It is your fault, Xin. That toy fighter plane did me no good at all.”

Xin smiled thinly. “Señor Presidente, it got you to Havana. It enabled you to embrace the Cuban people. And it got you back quickly. You could not have made the flight without the tanker aircraft we sent along.”

“But did it stop the Americans? No. Did it prevent the American Congress from demanding war? No. Did it stop them from landing thousands of paratroops in the night? No. Did it prevent the American air force from shooting down most of the Cuban air force and ALL—I remind you, General—ALL of the precious Venezuelan fighter jets that we had sent to Cuba? No, it did not.”

Xin continued to smile, though he was getting grief not only from this useful idiot but also from the Central Military Commission in Beijing. His orders were to keep Chavez from provoking a real war with America and to protect the Chinese buildup in Caracas and the former Panama Canal Zone. Chavez knew—at least knew part of—what the Chinese were doing there: that the new and secret submarine port was a strategic asset for China’s submarine fleet, not just a station for training missions; that the Chinese weren’t merely fraternal comrades, but had their own hidden interests; that the thousands of Chinese in Caracas and elsewhere weren’t all civilian contractors. What he didn’t know was that none of them were civilians, really. All the port workers, advisers, and construction people were PLA soldiers, including nuclear specialists who could service ballistic missile submarines. A new Chinese ballistic missile submarine was only a week away from passing through the Panama Canal and into Caracas harbor, as a test for the new American president.

“Señor Presidente, have I not offered you every support?”

“Yes, I suppose you have done your best. I will do mine, Xin, in two days, in New York.”


Whiteman Air Force Base
14 August
0810 Hours

That secure cell phone was never more than an arm’s length away, but it rang several times before Matt O’Bannon could grab it. “Sorry, boss. Just getting outta the shower.”

The general was, again, intolerably cheery. “So you don’t know the news?”

“No, sir, I guess not. I didn’t drop the MOAB, so it’s not that.”

“It’s a bigger mess than I’d have bet on. Not only did the UN refuse to condemn the Venezuelans and Chinese, but now we’re the bad guys. The Security Council passed a resolution labeling us the aggressor—and can you believe we abstained in the vote? You see the latest on the casualties? At least five thousand civilians are dead in Havana, and God knows how many have been killed in the water. It’s full of smashed boats, small planes, and bodies. The Cubans, of course, are denying they bombed and strafed anybody in small boats. And later today our UN ambassador will show the sat photos we have of Cuban aircraft and patrol boats murdering all those people.

“But nobody is interested in the facts. We’ve taken out the Venezuelan forces, blown down the Cuban air force, saved lives, and restored order, and we’re being blamed for all the deaths.”

“So what’s our next move?”

“Nothing, yet, as least as far as you’re concerned. Havana is pretty stable, and some of the old political prisoners, at least the ones we found alive, are trying to form a government now with locals and some of the guys from Miami. Stand down, but stand ready. I’ll probably put you on a two-hour standby tomorrow. And don’t get too far from that cell phone, Colonel.”


Caracas
18 August
1500 Hours Local

Hugo Chavez was very pleased with himself. General Xin had finally come through with the contracts. He had it in writing. All the oil shipments to America were about to stop, suddenly. And the oil would go to China, at a higher price than America had been paying. He was going to take revenge on the Americans and do what he’d promised to do for years. Oil was a weapon, and for more than thirty years the Americans had known this and not done anything to protect themselves from it.

He smiled to himself and reached for the water carafe. It was the lime-flavored water he liked, specially prepared for him every day. He drank quarts of it. It was healthy and delicious. Almost as delicious as the conversation he had just finished with the last of the OAS members. They, too, had lined up to condemn American intervention in Cuba. The OAS action had gone almost unnoticed. It attracted no great publicity, but the momentum it caused—and the Chinese presence in the former Panama Canal Zone—provided the leverage he needed to get Mexico to join in his oil war.

Mexican president Vicente Fox was furious that the new American president had won her election by running to the right of the Republican candidate on illegal immigration. He was incensed that she had followed that up by actually completing a fence along the California-Mexico border. And he was livid that the United States had intervened in Cuba without consulting him.

Still, he had done nothing to help Chavez until the Chinese made Fox an offer he couldn’t refuse: a ten-year guaranteed contract. China would agree to buy 90 percent of Mexico’s oil exports at double the current price paid by the United States.

Chavez smiled and leaned back in his chair. With China’s help, he had just achieved a Latin American oil boycott of the United States. He would announce the boycott tonight on his own show on Telesur. Thanks to Telesur’s partnership with al Jazeera, his speech would reach the whole world. The Americans could read it in their newspapers. At least the New York Times would print part of it. The BBC would probably run the whole thing. And tomorrow at the United Nations, his ambassador would issue a formal invitation for other nations to join the boycott.



Langley Air Force Base, Virginia
Air Combat Command Headquarters
28 November
0710 Hours

Matt O’Bannon sat listening as the generals got off the line with the Joint Chiefs and were put through to Southern Command. SOCOM was in charge of running the war plan. It was to be the largest invasion since Iraq, and the mission’s ACC units—everything from fighters to bombers to tankers and transport aircraft, even the civilian standby airlift force (CSAF)—were under the control of the SOCOM commander.

With oil at $275 a barrel, the American economy was choking. Chavez’s boycott had cut off almost 25 percent of America’s oil imports. Middle Eastern suppliers couldn’t make up the shortfall. Winter was coming on, and the president couldn’t face the prospect of old people dying in cold, dark houses.

The generals were sure their plan would work, but the White House hadn’t made it easy. America had often been accused of going to war for oil, but it never had, unless you counted the 1991 Gulf War to free Kuwait. But the UN had authorized that war. This time, the president was alone. She had asked Congress to secretly pass a war resolution, but her request was leaked by a Hill staffer almost immediately. So the generals had had to act fast. Thanksgiving leave was cancelled, and Marines were loading up at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Two whole teams of Navy SEALs—about four hundred men—and Army Special Forces units had already been deployed to Venezuela and were snooping around for real-time intelligence. Virtually every American reconnaissance satellite was focused on the area—and on China.

An unlucky squad of green beanies had been spotted and captured after a bloody gunfight on the outskirts of Caracas, and Venezuela’s ambassador at the UN demanded that the American war machine be stopped. The media was in an uproar, the president was dithering, and China was issuing threats.

The ACC deputy commander wasn’t cheery when he spoke. “So the Chinese have a small fleet in Caracas. We knew that. We know damned well they have a boomer there. They say they’ll use all the forces they have to block an American invasion. Why isn’t the president taking this seriously?”

The SOCOM commander breathed a long sigh. “Jimmy, don’t ask me questions you know I can’t answer. A ballistic missile sub operating off Caracas can stop us in our tracks if the Chinese threaten a missile launch against CONUS, but they’re being cagey. They say they will bar any American action against Venezuela but they’re both denying the boomer is there and saying they will use their other subs and surface ships to block us.”

“Yessir, but we can deal with that sub one way or the other.”

“Yes, we can. We have enough attack subs in the area to take out anything they have. But we’d have to get real lucky to catch the boomer. It’s the best they have, and thanks to the Walker spy ring, this boomer—and most of their diesel-electrics—are just as quiet as ours. But we’re tracking the boomer pretty well. She doesn’t have the ELF system our boomers have, so she has to pop a communication buoy up every few hours to talk to Beijing, and sometimes the ship itself pops up to periscope depth or right to the surface, because their O2 system apparently isn’t working up to snuff.”

“So we’ll nail her.”

“If we have to. Now listen up. Here’s how we’re gonna play this.”


50,000 Feet over the Golfo de Venezuela
1 December
0310 Hours Local

The autopilot kept them in a slow, lazy racetrack pattern. It was fifty miles around and back, at low speed with nothing to look at but black sky, electronic readouts, and the control panel gauges. Matt O’Bannon was bored stiff until some of his buttons started blinking orange. More fan mail from SOCOM?

Matt and his copilot had drilled for days, arming, checking, and rechecking the special weapon in the bomb bay. With it were fifty MK-62 sea mines. That was less than the full load, but the special weapon took up a lot of space. Other B-2s had sown sea mines all around the approaches to Caracas harbor, bottling up the Chinese subs and Venezuelan navy. Come sunup they were in for several nasty surprises, including the 82nd Airborne Division, which would be dropped inland, eastward of Caracas. The lead elements of the 2nd Marine Division would hit the beach directly north of where the Airborne was landing. The two would link up and drive westward through the Venezuelan capital.

Meanwhile, the president was doing her Hamlet imitation about whether to sink the Chinese boomer or leave it alone. Until she made up her mind, American units were under orders to attack only Venezuelan forces. Just how, precisely, they could keep from hitting the Chinese units close by wasn’t explained by the White House. The president’s mind kept changing. Matt and his copilot had gotten the “go” code three times in the past five hours, and had it cancelled just as often, usually within seconds of it being given. Now what?

“Okay, boss. SOCOM said go.” Matt looked at the small computer screen and pressed the “verify” button. It blinked green, just as it had for his copilot.

“Whaddya wanna bet we get another cancellation?”

“Dunno. How about a bottle of Jack in the Black?”

“You’re on. Okay, here we go. I say this time we get the recall before we hit thirty-five thousand feet.” The B-2 began a shallow descent. The Chinese boomer had apparently been bottled up by the sea mines. SOCOM said that it had floated a communications buoy and might be coming to the surface.

“Gimme the readouts as they appear.”

The special weapon would detonate at about twenty thousand feet. It was a small, powered glider craft, much like a cruise missile but far larger. It would cruise at that altitude waiting for a coded signal from the B-2. If everything worked as planned, the boomer would be taken out for good.

Forty thousand feet, and no recall. Thirty-five thousand and no signal from home. “Boss, got flash traffic from SOCOM.” Matt pulled back gently, stopping their descent.

“No, no, boss. It’s not a recall. SOCOM says the boomer is on the surface. Better lucky than smart, huh?”

The big B-2 resumed its descent as the pilots went through their checklists for launch. Everything was green. “Weapon away. Let’s get the hell outta here.” He pulled back and pushed the throttles to full military power. The B-2 hummed and thrummed and ran away from its former cargo.

Seven minutes later, at precisely twenty thousand feet, the special weapon detonated. Not with the eruption of a nuclear explosion, but with a tremendous burst of electromagnetic energy that fried every printed circuit—every computer, radio, television, and combat system—within its ten-mile range. On the surface of the Golfo de Venezuela, the Chinese boomer captain felt his ship slow and then stop. The nuclear reactor did what its Russian designers had built it to do: it shut itself down, and with it went all power to the ship. Then the lights went out in nearby Maracaibo harbor.


Caracas
6 March 2011

“I have told them that I do not recognize the legitimacy of their court. They will try me tomorrow for what they laughingly call treason against my country and crimes against humanity. I will refute them with my thoughts, my truths, and my destiny. They will not be able to answer what I say. They will do their best, but I am a master of the media and they dare not shut the television cameras out of the courtroom. Among them will be my friends from Telesur. The BBC will be there. So will my friends at al Jazeera. And so I will secure my place in history. No matter that they order my execution. There will be not just my page, but my whole chapter in history. And I will write it today.

“I will compose my opening speech now, and though I may work through the night, I will write a masterpiece that will be the beginning and the end of this unjust trial. And so I begin.

“I, Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected president of Venezuela, need no lawyers. I need no one to say for me things I cannot say myself. I stand before this court not as a defendant, but as the democratically elected leader of this nation. I am a humble man, as I have always been. I am a servant of people who love me as they love their own fathers. In a way, I am their father. Like the great man, Simon Bolivar, after whose example I have modeled my life, I have been a father to a new nation, a new Venezuela, and a new revolution.

“I have developed the wealth and strength of this nation as the great Bolivar himself would have. I do not claim to have never made a mistake. Only a god would never err, and I am no god: I am a man. The men who have brought me here seek to shame me, to claim that I have led our beloved nation and our most precious asset, our people, to war and ruin. You who pretend to sit in judgment of me have no goal other than power. You want to stop our revolution and turn back the clock to the days when our proud nation was a mere colony of the European powers. But you cannot. The revolution, once begun, is irreversible. The people—the people of Venezuela and Cuba—will see to that.

“My great revolution in Venezuela has only just begun. Since I became president, our wealth and influence has grown to be so great, we are no longer a small nation, a weak nation. The great powers of the earth can no longer ignore us. My alliance with Fidel, my greatest friend, was not predicated on bribes. We sent oil to Cuba to help the Cuban economy prosper, and it did. Every nation in the Americas, even the Yanquis, made no objection to the helping hand of friendship we extended to the Cuban people. The American president, in her inauguration speech, said that Cuba was no danger to America or the world, and that America would restore its economic relations with Cuba. Without our help, Cuba could not have lasted until that moment. Without our oil, it would have been impoverished beyond imagination by the decades-long American trade boycott, and its people would have continued to suffer.

“That friendship brought great benefits to our society. Cuban doctors came and helped make our national health system strong. Cuban military advisers came with them and helped train our million-man militias. When China and Russia offered their help as well, we welcomed them with open arms. The Russians sold us arms for cash, and we bought the rifles and artillery we needed to defend our borders against Yanqui imperialism. The Chinese were much more generous. They helped us expand our port at Caracas to handle even more oil tankers and other ships. All they wanted in return was oil, not cash, and it cost us nothing to begin to reduce the oil we sold to the Americans and to increase the shipments to China. China paid more than America, so it profited us to chasten the Americans.

“When the new American president complained about our reducing oil sales to them, I replied, ‘How can I do otherwise? Where is the help you provide us? All we have from you is threats against me. When the television preacher said America should kill me, what did you do? Did you silence him? Did you send him to jail, as any civilized nation would have done? No, you let him continue to speak his vile threats and lies.’ Against this logic, America had no answer. Our oil exports to China increased, and so did their help to us. When they asked to build a small private port for some of their ships, I immediately agreed. Who would not? And when that port grew, I let the Chinese use it as a port of call for training cruises, because their presence would help protect us against Yanqui invasion.

“And then the great tragedy struck. The greatest man I’ve ever known, the greatest man of the twentieth century, the man who had given me so much wise counsel, the man who helped shape our revolution, Fidel, died suddenly. The anguish of the Cuban people was heartwrenching. If I can be faulted for anything, I can be faulted only for not anticipating the death of my friend.

“When the legitimate government of Cuba—people who had served Fidel so well, people I know and trust—asked us for help, to prevent the Yanquis from invading their country, how could I refuse? It was a great natural disaster, an earthquake that shook Cuba and left it vulnerable to American aggression. When I sent troops and aircraft into Cuba it was an act of mercy. Our brave soldiers helped the Cubans put down the small revolt outside Havana. Many of our men were killed. The situation was desperate. I did what any president would do. I sent reinforcements. But they were thrown back by the imperialist Americans.

“The speed of their attack showed it was planned long before Fidel died. In a matter of hours, their commandos and bombers had rendered our forces confused and battle-weary. When their 82nd Airborne Division arrived before dawn the next morning, our brave commander, General Monteverde, called me to say the situation was hopeless and that he was surrendering. America had proved itself an outlaw nation, but no one, not even I, could see how far they would go to thwart international law and how little respect they had for the community of nations.

“Within hours, our Chinese allies were pleading with me to help them broadcast to the world the truth of this atrocity and to call for justice. All of China was enraged. Their media sent us videos of huge Chinese protests against the Americans. There were millions of people in the streets, demanding that Beijing act to avenge American imperialism. I told Beijing they had to act—and they did. They protested to the Americans, and warned them against taking any action to punish Venezuela for its brave actions to help the Cuban people. The whole world condemned them. And I had to take revenge.

“Oil is our power. As the example of our OPEC friends proved, it immunized us from American action. Look at how many years they stood by while Saudi Arabia sponsored terrorism against them. There was no reason to think they would do otherwise with us. The mere threat of withholding oil, and actually stopping shipments to them for a time, would have to bring them to heel.

“For many years I had warned the Americans against interference in Venezuelan affairs. Long had they plotted invasions and covert actions against us. In answer to these threats I gave them fair warning that I could use oil as a weapon. And this, I decided, was the time to do it. I did not tell the Chinese. I knew they would try to dissuade me. But I acted peacefully and legally to strangle the American menace. Venezuela and all our region would finally be safe from Yanqui aggression.

“But then came the great invasion of our precious nation, the destruction of our navy, and even the attack on our Chinese allies off our shores. America will never again be trusted by any of its neighbors. “You who sit in judgment of me cannot accuse me of treason to my country. I built the power of Venezuela to its most glorious height. China was our ally, and all but the Yanquis were our friends. You are the traitors. You who serve the Yanquis in this puppet government you call a democracy. I do not submit myself to your judgment. The people of Venezuela love me. And if you hang me, their revenge on you will sweeten the soil of my grave.”

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