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Chavez and fear

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

18.12.04 | Hugo Chavez has begun to kill and repress selectively Until now, the murders -- and they add up to about 100 -- have been random. Someone would fire at a crowd from a bridge and 20 unarmed Caracans would fall dead. There was nothing personal. The objective was to kill anybody. Or, some gunmen would fire against some peaceful demonstrators on a public square, killing Mrs. Maritza Ron, who had traveled to Venezuela to vote against Chavez. They killed her because she was there, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nothing personal. It could have been a child, a blind man or a taxi driver. Anybody.

That has changed. In the past several days, three people have been murdered in suspicious confrontations with the police. Apparently, the agents were looking for those responsible for the death of prosecutor Danilo Anderson, who was blown up by a bomb placed in his car.

Will they find out who was the author? Maybe. One of the key persons in the investigation of the explosion, Mr. Alberto Carias, Under Secretary for Homeland Security in the Chavez government, is a real expert on the subject. During the era of democracy, he placed his first bomb in a church. Later, he was arrested by police on 16 occasions, as he himself confessed to the media with great panache.

To these bloody deeds must be added the judiciary's harassment of the opposition. Chavez sics the prosecutors and judges on his adversaries the way someone sics the dogs in a hunt. He summons the Mayor of Baruta, Henrique Capriles Radonski, constantly before the courts. Some of the judges appointed by Chavism have received their training on the defendant's bench. The closest relationship Controls Court Judge Mikael J. Moreno has had with the law has been as a defendant in two cases of homicide with a firearm, attributed to him when he was a police officer.

It was precisely this swell judge from that swell court who issued a warrant so a large detail of armed policemen could raid the Hebraic School in Caracas, in a futile search for weapons and explosives, at a time when 1,500 innocent children were receiving instruction.

At that exact same time, no surprise, Chavez was visiting his "brothers" in Iran and later traveled to Libya to receive the prestigious Human Rights Award presented annually by that seraphic representative of the Islamic world named Khaddafi.

It's as if Chavez wanted to underline his permanent commitment to anti-Semitism, patent ever since his famous letter of solidarity with Carlos Ilich Ramirez, "The Jackal," imprisoned in Paris for a lifetime of crime motivated by his hatred for Israel. It was a way to memorialize the ever-vigorous influence exerted on the lieutenant colonel by the late Argentine fascist Enrique Ceresole, who advocated a Libyan-style dictatorship as the solution to the ills of Latin America.

Why has Chavez changed his tactics and now bares his teeth and bites with greater ferocity? Because he needs to intimidate his adversaries. He has to scare them. He has to paralyze them with fear so they will obey. Nobody can feel secure in Venezuela any longer. In the five years since Chavez has occupied the presidency, he has seized the courts, the Parliament, the armed forces and almost all the regional governments. He still has the communications media and the labor unions to go, but that will be taken care of.

To reach that goal, however, he must first frighten the Venezuelans. There is no dictatorship without obedience and no illegitimate obedience without fear. Will he achieve his purpose? Very possibly. It all depends on how much harm he's willing to inflict on the Venezuelans. Unlimited harm, it seems.

Truth is, the international community should do something to halt the escalation of violence and violations of the law unleashed by Chavez in Venezuela. After all, this spasm of repression is the direct consequence of an unpardonable international injustice: the irresponsible legitimization of the fraudulent elections of Aug. 16 by former President Jimmy Carter and the Secretary General of the OAS, Cesar Gaviria.

By validating that monstrous swindle, the Carter Center and the OAS demoralized and disarticulated the opposition, placing all of the nation's reins in Chavez's hands. Then they washed their hands and left. But that's not even the worst part. The worst part is that Chavez, arrogant and willing to kill, will metastasize throughout Latin America. We'll see.

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