WASHINGTON – Authors of a new book who were sympathetic to Hugo Chavez’s 1998 presidential bid to “eradicate poverty” in Venezuela now say he is a greater threat to America’s national security than Osama bin Laden and has the means and motive to bring the U.S. to its knees.
In “The Threat Closer to Home: Hugo Chavez and the War Against America,” Douglas E. Schoen and Michael Rowan say the U.S. is oblivious to Chavez’s intentions to use oil as an asymmetric weapon of war, as well as terrorism, in attacks that could rival 9/11 in their impact on the economy and infrastructure of the nation.
Venezuela’s oil reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia, they point out, and Chavez has demonstrated a willingness and the ability to manipulate the foreign import market.
“Prior to the summer of 2008, Chavez personally shorted the oil market of 3 million barrels a day,” they write. “Leading OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), he had every producing nation but Saudi Arabia following suit.”
They blame Chavez for worsening the economic downturn of 2008, “which may be the worst since the Great Depression.”
“Hugo Chavez is implementing a sophisticated oil war against the United States,” the authors write. “To understand this, you have to look back to 1999, when he asked the Venezuelan Congress for emergency powers and got them, whereupon he consolidated government power to his advantage.”
He took full control of the national oil company, replacing its directors with military and political loyalists.
In addition, through his support of guerrillas in FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), he has worked to maximize cocaine sales to the United States, as a means of undermining the cohesiveness of the American culture.
Chavez has used Venezuela’s vast oil resources to support the government of Iran – and specifically its nuclear ambitions, they say. He also has permitted the largest jihadist terror organization in the world, Hezbollah, to maintain permanent bases in Latin America and recruit Venezuelans.
The book begins with a quote from Otto Reich, ambassador to Venezuela from 1986 through 1989 and assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs from 2001-2002: “America is very naïve about the threat Chavez poses. Today Chavez is at least as dangerous as bin Laden; he’s preparing his attack; he’s even implementing the attack, but too many of America’s leaders are still ignoring him. This could be a tragedy bigger than 9/11.”
Air Force Maj. Juan Diaz Castillo, formerly a pilot for the Venezuelan leader, came to the U.S. to warn of ties to terrorism in collaboration with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
“I must warn America about Chavez,” Diaz said. “He is a danger, not just to his own people but to the whole region.”
Diaz said Chavez transferred $1 million to the Taliban through Venezuelan Ambassador Walter Marquez in New Delhi, designating $900,000 to al-Qaida for its relocation efforts and $100,000 to the then-Afghan government for food and clothing, according to MilitaresDemocraticos.com.