Friday, October 03, 2003


Raven is reading, with increasingly narrowed eyes, an article in the online version of US News and World Report.

“These guys have some nerve.”

What’s happened now, Rave?

Raven reaches for his cup of Ceylon tea, slurps, then smears peanut butter on a cracker.

“These shills for the Bush Gang of petrocriminals are at it again. First, Chavez calls a press conference to announce he has recommended that OPEC increase the price band from 22 to 28 dollars a barrel to 25 to 32 dollars a barrel. Second, oil futures rise. Third, the US News and World Report comes out with this 100% libellous story, “Terror Close to Home”—four pages of spurious reportage and quotes from unnamed US government sources saying that Chavez is sponsoring the minions of Al Qaeda, lodging Colombian guerrillas all along the border, and that Cubans are involved in paramilitary operations in Venezuela.”

Interesting fantasies. This goes way beyond yellow journalism. Venezuela doesn’t have any paramilitary operations.

“I know. Gregory Wilpert takes the article apart on And apparently Sha-perro, the Ambassador, was supposed to appear for a meeting at the chancellor’s office to discuss this latest round of attacks on Venezuela.”

Reeks of oil, Rave. Remember that surfer scene in “Apocalypse Now” where Robert Duvall says, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”? Sounds like the Bush Gang, by accusing Chavez of “flirting with terrorism”, is more than flirting with a libel action. The smell wafting off the polluted waves on Lake Maracaibo must have addled their pates.

“More than usual? That’s like saying there is a degree lower than Absolute Zero.”

Raven is now scraping out peanut butter with his claw.

I know you’re outraged, Rave. But Chavez can take care of himself. He didn’t say he was going to be in the snipers’ crosshairs for many years just to be saying something.

“No, whistling “Dixie” he wasn’t.”

Nor would he be inclined to that tune, anyway. I think we need to get you something better to eat than peanut butter and crackers. You’re too agitated.

“The cupboard is bare,” sighs Raven.

I know. But the shelves of Supermaxi aren’t. Let’s fly out of here.

“You’re not just whistling “Dixie”, either.” Raven looks dramatically less dour. “I vote for tortellini.”

Whew. I thought, with your Venezuela fixation, you’d be demanding arepas.

“Not a chance. Those are for playing pool with. Not eating.”

Raven is looping the loop in the hallway, his feathers shining like oil in the leaden afternoon sun of Guayaquil.