The Gang That Fixed Florida Fix the Vote in Caracas
this Sunday? by Greg Palast
Chavez drives George Bush crazy. Maybe it's jealousy:
Unlike Mr. Bush, Chavez, in Venezuela, won his
Presidency by a majority of the vote.
maybe it's the oil: Venezuela sits atop a reserve
rivaling Iraq's. And Hugo thinks the US and British
oil companies that pump the crude ought to pay
more than a 16% royalty to his nation for the
stuff. Hey, sixteen percent isn't even acceptable
as a tip at a New York diner.
it is, OUR President has decided that THEIR president
has to go. This is none too easy given that Chavez
is backed by Venezuela's poor. And the US oil
industry, joined with local oligarchs, has made
sure a vast majority of Venezuelans remain poor.
Therefore, Chavez is expected to win this coming
Sunday's recall vote. That is, if the elections
are free and fair.
won't be. Some months ago, a little birdie faxed
to me what appeared to be confidential pages from
a contract between John Ashcroft's Justice Department
and a company called ChoicePoint, Inc., of Atlanta.
The deal is part of the War on Terror.
offered up to $67 million, of our taxpayer money,
to ChoicePoint in a no-bid deal, for computer
profiles with private information on every citizen
of half a dozen nations. The choice of which nation's
citizens to spy on caught my eye. While the September
11th highjackers came from Saudi Arabia, Egypt,
Lebanon and the Arab Emirates, ChoicePoint's menu
offered records on Venezuelans, Brazilians, Nicaraguans,
Mexicans and Argentines. How odd. Had the CIA
uncovered a Latin plot to sneak suicide tango
dancers across the border with exploding enchiladas?
do these nations have in common besides a lack
of involvement in the September 11th attacks?
Coincidentally, each is in the throes of major
electoral contests in which the leading candidates
-- presidents Lula Ignacio da Silva of Brazil,
Nestor Kirschner of Argentina, Mexico City mayor
Andres Lopez Obrador and Venezuela's Chavez --
have the nerve to challenge the globalization
demands of George W. Bush.
last time ChoicePoint sold voter files to our
government it was to help Governor Jeb Bush locate
and purge felons on Florida voter rolls. Turns
out ChoicePoint's felons were merely Democrats
guilty only of V.W.B., Voting While Black. That
little 'error' cost Al Gore the White House.
looks like the Bush Administration is taking the
Florida show for a tour south of the border.
when Mexico discovered ChoicePoint had its citizen
files, the nation threatened company executives
with criminal charges. ChoicePoint protested its
innocence and offered to destroy the files of
any nation that requests it.
ChoicePoint, apparently, presented no such offer
to the government of Venezuela's Chavez.
Caracas, I showed Congressman Nicolas Maduro the
ChoicePoint-Ashcroft agreement. Maduro, a leader
of Chavez' political party, was unaware that his
nation's citizen files were for sale to U.S. intelligence.
But he understood their value to make mischief.
the lists somehow fell into the hands of the Venezuelan
opposition, it could immeasurably help their computer-aided
drive to recall and remove Chavez. A ChoicePoint
flak said the Bush administration told the company
they haven't used the lists that way. The PR man
didn't say if the Bush spooks laughed when they
team located a $53,000 payment from our government
to Chavez' recall organizers, who claim to be
armed with computer lists of the registered. How
did they get those lists? The fix that was practiced
in Florida, with ChoicePoint's help, deliberate
or not, appears to be retooled for Venezuela,
then Brazil, Mexico and who knows where else.
what it comes down to: The Justice Department
averts it's gaze from Saudi Arabia but shoplifts
voter records in Venezuela. So it's only fair
to ask: Is Mr. Bush fighting a war on terror --
or a war on democracy?
Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller,
'The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.'
Posted: August 14, 2004