24 September 2009
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by President Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias of Venezuela


An emerging new world was moving towards multipolarity after the collapse of cold war bipolarity and the failed attempt to impose unipolarity, President Hugo Chávez Frías of Venezuela said at Headquarters today.


President Chávez called for “midwives” to attend the birth of the new world as he responded to questions at a press conference following his address to the General Assembly.


Announcing that he would be hosting the second summit of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the African Union, he said 20 African and 9 South American Heads of State and Government would participate, noting that the two continents were connected by geography and blood.  Africa could not be understood without South America and vice versa.


He said there had been proposals to bring the two regions together, combining MERCOSUR with the African Union, adding that the two continents contained the largest reserves of oil, gas and precious minerals, which had been exploited in the past.  In order to take control, it had been proposed that a number of corporations be set up in which the States would be responsible for setting policy.


Asked about the possibility of a change in United States policy towards South America, he said one of the failures of the United States had been that, for a long time, it had underestimated and mistreated the Latin American and Caribbean region.  In 1825, Simón Bolivar had said that the United States seemed destined to plague the Americas with misery in the name of freedom.  That had indeed happened and it was to be hoped that President Barack Obama would turn the situation around.


Describing the Pentagon as a State within the State, he said it was a labyrinth that President Obama should dismantle.  “God save Obama from the bullets that killed Kennedy,” he prayed, noting, however, that there were two Obamas ‑‑ one who spoke about peace and one who had seven military bases in Colombia.  They should come together so that humanity could be saved.


He said he had laughed at United States concerns about an “arms race” in Latin America and accusations that Venezuela was helping Iran.  There was no arms race, but Venezuela had a right to a defence force like all other countries.  As for Iran, he said a high Colombian official had stated that uranium enrichment was being carried out under an Iranian-Venezuelan bicycle factory.  The “atomic” bicycles were selling very well throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, he quipped.


President Chávez said the media put such funny stories on the front page, but neglected stories about children dying from hunger, as was happening in Guatemala because of drought.  Meanwhile, Obama refused to sell spare parts for old Hercules cargo planes that Venezuela used to help Guatemala.


Responding to another question, he said his Government had not closed down one single television station, calling those allegations a lie.  Honduras was where television stations were shut down.  RCTV was on the air 24 hours a day in Venezuela, including programmes critical of the Government.  There was a difference between an open signal and a satellite signal.  The station’s concession for an open signal, which was the property of the State, as almost everywhere in the world, had not been extended and the signal was now used by a community broadcaster.


“Never before did we have in Venezuela so much freedom of expression as now,” he continued, pointing out that the country had 27 television and some 250 radio stations.  He said it was the owners of the media who had most flagrantly violated freedom of expression and supported the short-lived coup against him.


Turning to relations between Venezuela and Colombia, the President said he loved Colombia, as part of the Greater Colombia that had previously included Venezuela, but there had been a lot of “slander” on the part of the Colombian media, including allegations that he had sent missiles to the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).  Not only had those missiles been stolen from Venezuela before his assumption of office, but they had turned out to be completely useless.


There would be no restoration of relations between the two countries because the Government of Colombia operated like a “mafia”, he said, adding that he had appealed to the United Nations to develop a peace plan for Colombia as the FARC guerrillas could not be defeated by military force.  He said he had said as much to President Alvaro Uribe and to a guerrilla leader.  Political negotiations were needed.


As for an arms race between the two countries, he said President Uribe was a “compulsive liar”, who had started an arms race by authorizing seven United States military bases in his country.  Colombia had bombed Ecuador, killing people there and leaving wounded women behind.  “It cannot be more cynical than that.  Beyond us there is a world where peace and truth will prevail.”


Turning to Honduras and allegations that Israeli-produced microwave generators were being used against the Brazilian Embassy, he said he could not confirm that claim but had no reason to doubt President Manuel Zelaya, who had told him in a telephone conversation that he had discovered electronic equipment used for sabotaging cell phones.  According to the Honduran President, that equipment had been produced by Israel.  Although the United Nations had condemned the coup in Honduras, the Government of Israel had recognized those who had carried out the coup.


Clarifying that he was talking about the Government and not the people of Israel, he said he would not give in to its blackmail when it claimed he was anti-Semitic.  Obama’s criticism of Israel had fallen short and the Israeli Government’s actions in Gaza had proven its “genocidal” nature.


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For information media • not an official record