[R-G] Venezuela offers low-cost gasoline to tribes
mstainsby at resist.ca
Thu Sep 22 14:14:24 MDT 2005
Indian Country Today - Sep 20, 2005
Venezuela offers low-cost gasoline to tribes
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez lifts indigenous rights struggle in Americas to
by Brenda Norrell
SEATTLE - While setting new global standards for the recognition of
indigenous rights in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez has made an offer
to bring low-cost gasoline to the poor in the United States, including
American Indian tribal communities.
"There is an offer on the table for low-cost heating oil and gasoline
for poor communities in the United States," said Robert Free Galvan, who
is contacting tribes in the United States with Venezuela's offer.
"Hopefully, Indian tribes and Native entities will take advantage of
this opportunity to become stronger in the global community."
Galvan's comments came after he attended the 16th World Festival of
Students and Youth in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 7 - 15, which was
attended by 40,000 people.
"I was amazed at 12-cent-a-gallon gas," said Galvan, adding that he fell
in love with the beauty of the green mountains and blue ocean waters in
Venezuela. Chavez has already sent hundreds of thousands of barrels of
oil to the region hit by Hurricane Katrina. Venezuela owns CITGO
Petroleum Corp., which has eight refineries in the United States, and
has set aside up to 10 percent of its refined oil products to be sold
directly to organized poor communities, and institutions in the United
States without intermediaries.
Galvan said Chavez and his revolution for indigenous rights gained the
respect of indigenous people at the world gathering in Venezuela. During
the opening procession of nations, Chavez gave a "thumbs up" to the
banner displaying the words "Leonard Peltier." "Chavez acknowledged
indigenous people by having them open and bless the gathering," Galvin
The first speaker was a Native woman, one of three indigenous
representatives in the Venezuela Assembly (or Congress), who gave
testimony to advances for indigenous people.
"Chavez hugged all the indigenous leaders in front of the world and gave
deeds of territory to the tribes," Galvan said of the communal land
titles given to six communities of the Karina, which is one of
Venezuela's 28 indigenous peoples.
Chavez' Mission Guaicaipuro lists 15 more indigenous groups to receive
their ancestral land before the end of 2006. Galvan pointed out that
earlier Chavez called for a halt to the celebration of Columbus Day and
replaced it with "Indigenous Resistance Day." The U.S. government,
Galvan said, has reacted to Chavez' leadership and far-sweeping reforms
for indigenous rights with racism.
"The United States government is very racist. Chavez is indigenous and
part black, and is in control of one of the world's largest oil
reserves," Galvan said. Galvan said he decided to attend the world
gathering after hearing of the movement for "fair trade," as opposed to
"free trade," which is igniting the indigenous rights movement in
Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, where the majority of the population is
The economic alliance promotes fair trade as an alternative to the World
Trade Organization, North American Free Trade Agreement or Central
American Free Trade Agreement, he said.
"These trade agreements seem to favor the rich and powerful
corporations. Chavez has spent billions of oil dollars on education,
feeding and housing the people of his country in order to rebuild the
situation in his government which was inherited from the previous
government that had channeled much of the country's resources into a few
hands," Galvan said. During the world gathering, the contingent from the
United States did not give Galvan the opportunity to present his
PowerPoint presentation of indigenous issues at the world gathering or
allow him to have a table of information.
The struggles of the Western Shoshone to protect their aboriginal lands
in what is now called Nevada and the Gwich'in to protect the Arctic from
oil exploration were two of the issues he wanted to present to the world
Galvan said the Lakota grass roots group Fourth World Emerging from Pine
Ridge, S.D., was also prevented by the U.S. organizers from presenting
their information concerning the United Nations Draft Declaration of
However, Galvan was able to show his presentation to a few Venezuelan
government representatives, who were upset at the missed opportunity to
present the information to the world gathering. They offered Galvan the
opportunity to present it on Venezuelan national television, but his
flight departure prevented it.
Finally, the Venezuelan government contacted Galvan at home in Seattle
and set in motion a new effort to bring low-cost gasoline to Indian
tribal members and cultural exchanges between indigenous of the north
"The government of Venezuela contacted me by e-mails and phone calls for
my opinion and feedback of the gathering in August. They heard my effort
to bring indigenous struggles to be shared with the world was prevented
by the organizers from the U.S. delegation to the conference.
"They were upset that it was not presented." Galvan said he suggested
Venezuela provide low-cost gasoline to poor U.S. communities while he
was in Venezuela in August. "I suggested this to them while I was in
Caracas. Maybe they were already thinking of this, or maybe I ignited
the idea. I like to think the latter."
Galvan pointed out that Venezuela has already distinguished itself in
the international arena of indigenous human rights. Venezuela has
accelerated the process for indigenous tribes to be recognized by the
government, while in the United States the strategy is delay.
Galvan also pointed out that Venezuela recognizes indigenous
representatives regardless of how the community chooses to select their
representatives, including those selected with traditional methods.
Venezuela's Bolivarian Constitution establishes indigenous rights of
territory, intercultural and bilingual education and local political
representation. The Constitution adopted in 1999 states the county's
indigenous peoples have right to their ancestral territories.
Chavez' efforts have not gone unnoticed. In August, the United States,
Christian evangelist Pat Robertson called on the United States to
Galvan said, "Pat Robertson represents fundamentalists which are at the
same level as al-Qaida in terms of fanatical self righteousness.
Indigenous people have known terrorism from self righteous fanatics."
Chavez told Ted Koppel on ABC's "Nightline" in September that he has
proof that the United States is planning to invade Venezuela. Code-named
"Balboa," Chavez said the U.S. recently carried out training maneuvers
in Curacao, Venezuela. Chavez warned if the U.S. carries out this plan
it would result in a 100-year war. Also, Chavez pointed out Venezuela
sends 1.5 million barrels of oil to the U.S. each day. Self-described
as a revolutionary, Chavez said, "I've been in revolt for years against
ignominy, against injustice, against inequality, against immorality,
against the exploitation of human beings."
[Native communities and entities wanting to learn more about Venezuela's
offer of low-cost gasoline and heating oil can e-mail Robert Free Galvan
at robtfree at earthlink.net. ]
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