Chavez under Fire; Will Dark Ages Befall Venezuela on Dec. 3?

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 21, 2007 | Go to article overview

Chavez under Fire; Will Dark Ages Befall Venezuela on Dec. 3?


Byline: Helle Dale, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

How refreshing. After years of this man's odious and idiotic ranting on the international stage, someone finally told Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to put a sock in it. At last week's Ibero-American summit in Santiago, Chile, King Juan Carlos of Spain was outraged by Mr. Chavez's attacks on former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar as a "fascist." The king angrily told Mr. Chavez "Why don't you just shut up!" Yes, indeed. It would have been nice if someone had told Mr. Chavez to "shut up" when he called President Bush "the devil" at the U.N. General Assembly last year. It is past time the international community starts challenging Mr. Chavez's shenanigans.

The fact is that the Venezuelan president is not just a clown, but he is a dangerous one. One observer characterized him as a malignant narcissist, a category that would probably also fit Adolf Hitler, whose name is too often taken in vain, but in this case it seems to fit. Everything is about being the center of attention, about them and their power, and they are willing to sacrifice the future of a nation for it.

Because of Mr. Chavez, the United States is now challenged in the Southern Hemisphere as it has not been since the fall of Communism. In fact, the Venezuelan strongman is promising to restore Communism, denouncing free-market capitalism as a failure. Over the past eight years, he has been taking inspiration from the example of Fidel Castro, and not only that, but he is himself inspiring Bolivia's President Evo Morales and others to follow in his footsteps. The Chavez revolution, though, has been a gradual process, which has allowed it to remain out of the focus of the international community.

It does not take much to see that what Mr. Chavez is selling is snake oil, an illusion mainly built on Venezuela's oil wealth, not on any alternative economic model. Venezuelans are no better off; the economy is in shambles; and citizens have lost important political freedoms. Venezuela no longer has an independent judiciary, nor does it have a free press or viable political opposition. All power is centered around the increasingly authoritarian presidency.

Ironically, after 50 years of Communism, the impoverished people of Cuba are longing for change. According to a poll just released by the International Republican Institute, more than 70 percent of Cubans believe a free-market economy would deliver a better life for them. …

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