(3rd & final entry in an exchange regarding Hugo Chavez & The Slug)
Good points, Jack. You can't necessarily be guilty by association. However, there is a disconnect here between what Chavez says about America -- "the most savage empire that has ever existed" and praise for Castro and Mao. It doesn't compute. Chavez sinks waist-deep in a bed of hypocritical quicksand. While America did get in bed with unsavory characters, no American President ever held their society up as a model we should follow. Not so Chavez with Cuba or Maoist China. It's clear he believes Cuba is a great society and model for the Latin American world. The fact that Fidel has never been elected by the Cuban people to do anything is a non-issue for Chavez. That's deeply troubling.
I'm also reading troubling stories about new legislation that prohibits "insulting a government official". Who is going to decide what is criticism and what is an insult? That's censorship, and it's a law that can be used to intimidate anyone who writes something Chavez doesn't like. There is also evidence Cuban intelligence officers are now working in the country, helping identify potential enemies of Chavez. He also seems to have complete autonomy to spend the country's oil wealth (or give it away) as he sees fit, without so much as a vote in parliament. Others have pointed to Chavez savaging of property rights. Such a move would trigger a revolt in our democracy. If land reform was necessary, it seems to me Chavez could have chosen a path that respected the rights of existing owners. The Brazilian President has commented privately that Chavez is an "unconscious authoritarian" -- I think that's probably a good way to define him, but it's also ominous.
Hitler analogies are vastly overused, and I wouldn't presume to compare Chavez to Hitler, but the conditions of a very popular President who turned a country around at the expense of their civil liberties has happened before.
The country has had a majority of poor -- long neglected. Chavez is the first President to put their interests first. If I were living in the barrios, I wouldn't care either if free speech and property rights were trampled on -- in the short run. In the long run, I might want to be one of those property owners myself. I'd wake up someday with an authoritarian government I might be sick of, but no way to get rid of.
As you say, we'll see. If Chavez busied himself running his country without trying to ruin mine, I wouldn't be so militant in pointing out his obvious flaws. America is not Chavez enemy, but he has made it clear that he is ours, and that means I'm going to watch every move he makes.
[Editor’s Note: This was posted to complete an exchange regarding Hugo Chavez and Pat Robertson’s call for his assassination. The writer’s point of view is his own. For those who require refutation, see the original commentary on Dissident Voice 8/27/05 or a new article posted on Common Dreams 8/29/05, “Hugo Chavez: A Walk in the Footsteps of Arbenz & Allende” by Dr. Rosa Maria Pegueros: www.commondreams.org. Viva Chavez!]