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On banter as a predictor of action: Hugo Chávez and Co. vs. Democracy in the region

By Pedro Mario Burelli | PMBComments

05.10.05 | Hugo Rafael Chávez Frias, the best know member of the upwardly mobile Chávez clan from Sabaneta, Barinas State, Venezuela, is still a revolutionary wannabe when compared to his “Latin idols”: Che Guevara, Salvador Allende, Fidel and Raul Castro, Daniel Ortega and Shafik Handal.

Even so, it becomes clearer everyday that he too aspires to historical prominence and is more than willing to use (misappropriate?) his only differentiator - millions of our country’s bountiful oil wealth - to buy a cozy niche in the wicked pantheon of contemporary tormentors of democracy and freedom. This, and most certainly not the prosperity of the mounting poor of our country (10% more poor since 1999 according to the same Government that has received upwards of US$300 billion in oil revenues during the same period), is what really explains his restless meddling in other countries’ affairs and his frantic “anti-imperialist” banter.

In the Oct. 10, 2005 issue of Newsweek, Chávez responds candidly to Lally Weymouth’s pointed questions on friendships, leaving no doubt as to why Monday’s Washington Post Editorial on "Nicaragua’s creeping coup" is so on the mark.

For a man that has persecuted and cornered his opponents at home by branding them, among others: coupsters, non-democrats, possessed-by-the-devil, and corrupt, it is quite an act to ignore – and pretend others do also - the irony of the perverse ménage ŕ quatre that links him with the no-need-to-define Fidel Castro, devilish Daniel Ortega and convicted peculator Arnoldo Aleman in a shameless effort to undermine the democratically elected government of President Bolańos. Particularly ironic since the only line Chávez’s apologists have left in their discredited arsenal is that “Hugo Chávez was elected democratically and deserves to be left alone”. So Hugo, keep telling us who your friends are and we will predict what you are up to… and when caught and convicted, please don’t blame others for your demise. PMB

Note: All this brings to mind - once again – the fact that a former U.S. Ambassador to both Nicaragua and Venezuela used to dismiss suspicions of Chávez real persona and intentions by stating “Do not judge him for his words, judge him for his deeds”. Today it would be interesting to hear John Maisto, now serving as the U.S. Representative to the OAS, apply his eponym and infamous Doctrine to events unfolding in Managua. They sure look like deeds to me; serious enough to merit a trip to Managua by State’s #2 Robert Zoellick to read the riot act to Chávez’s Nica cronies.

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