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Hugo Chavez to poke fun at Blair in London

By Aleksander Boyd

London 04.05.06 | The Financial Times reports today that Prime Minister Tony Blair is not pleased by Hugo Chavez's visit to London. Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, other radicals from the Labour Party and union leaders are to play hosts to the Venezuelan caudillo. Hugo Chavez may also address a lecture of some sort in Oxford University, since it was revealed that no honorary degree will be confered upon him, as claimed by his Ambassador.

There is a great deal of ignorance about Venezuela and its radical president in these shores. The BBC and The Guardian have played an extremely valuable role in painting a benign image of the failed militaristic coupster. His social missions are heralded as the best thing to have happened since the wheel invention. However there is another raft of actions and policies implemented by President Chavez that do not make it to the headlines for some reason.

RMT leader Bob Crow is on the record speaking in favourable terms about Venezuela's revolutionary process, whereby labour rights of working men and women have been increased. However Mr Crow shows no concern for the fate of his Venezuelan counterpart, i.e. the leader of Venezuelan Confederation of Workers Carlos Ortega, who is in jail, sentenced to 16 years on trumped up charges, for doing what Crow does on a regular basis, that is to say organizing strikes and defending workers' interests.

Mayor Livingstone, who has had no qualms in using public resources to peddle propaganda in favour of Hugo Chavez, is delighted at the idea of hosting a lunch for President Chavez. For Livingstone opines "There are many areas where we can benefit from the Venezuelan experience," he added, citing energy and environmental policies, democratic participation and education and free health care. (Sic). Energy and environmental policies? What would those be: how to destroy a once very powerful energy corporation upon whose income, need be stressed, the whole poverty alleviation plan is based? Environmental? Such as the pipeline that shall destroy thousands of hectares of Amazonian virgin rainforest just to gain political favours from Argentina and Brazil? But Livingstone's interests don't stop there, for he also fancies advice on democratic participation from a militaristic leader that has subverted every single democratic value, a president that without compunctions of mind admits in public television that those who dare signing against him will be forever prosecuted, a man willing to blow up a la Saddam the oil wells that keep his country running... Surely Livingstone, some employees at the GLA and Chavez have a lot to talk about, especially on topics such as education and health care.

It is patent the moral ambiguity and intellectual dishonesty of some. Wealth redistribution and poverty alleviation missions do not give Hugo Chavez carte blanche to sistematically prosecute his political foes; to violate human rights; to rig elections; to remain in office indefinitely; to interfere in the sovereign matters of other countries; to align Venezuela with rogue regimes and narcoterrorist movements; to shred contracts; to expropriate private property; to hurl abuse at other leaders; to sow hatred amongst Latin Americans; to arrest development; in sum Chavez's objectionable actions clearly outweight the positive things he may have done. A sound debate with Chavez on how to avoid unnecesary violence and hardship must start, to that end there couldn't be a better venue than London to do so and its a commendable effort on the part of those organizing it.

However it is imperative that other issues of similar, if not more relevance, are properly addressed. Otherwise visits, such as the one in 10 days, are but exercises in political propaganda.

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