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Tyrant Hugo Chavez

By Fernando Londoņo Hoyos*

Originally published 22.06.06 | Hitler was also treated as a funny and hardly dangerous clown. It is not improbable that the psychological traumas that our primitive nations suffered under tyrant Aguirre cured us from dreading certain types of savages. That of taking a plunge into the deep, intimate spaces of the collective mentality would be a nice task for a collective behaviour psychologist. Now on a lighter note we want to limit ourselves to examine the risks posed by the little tyrant in our neighbourhood.

Just to remind he who may have missed it, Chavez already controls all branches of power. The Legislative turns into law or constitutional reform even the most senseless whims of the master. The Judiciary repeats in rulings any noticeable verse that the funny patriarch regales the world during his weekly verbal overflows. And checks and balances are nonexistent, for should these exist it would be unconceivable to limit its crassness and impotence.

Hugo Chavez travels the world promising things, purchasing the oddest junk and entering into the most audacious contracts with the same cheek with which Papini's Gog wasted his fortune.

Nowadays he invests hundreds of millions of dollars purchasing Argentina's useless bonds that no one in its right mind would buy. Tomorrow he gives millions of dollars to Evo Morales so that he can maintain discipline in the ungovernable Bolivia. Goes to Spain and buys airplanes and warships, picks up the phone and orders four dozens Super Tucanos from Brazil, arms himself with 100.000 Russian rifles and since he hasn't got American jet fighters goes back to the Russian shop and orders a few.

To be accepted in MERCOSUR he incurs into the superlative senselessness of offering a trans-Amazonic oil pipeline. The crumble thrown at Colombia is a gas pipeline, he refines Ecuador's oil, Central America gets inundated by his cheap gasoline, equally he heats disenfranchiseds' homes for Christmas in the USA. But, above all else, turns Cuba into his protectorate, with the same largesse used by the Soviet Union when it was the world's second largest superpower fancying being the first.

None of that matters. Venezuela pays and Chavez's prestige keeps growing in the universe of the globalized imbeciles. But this time, and there lies the crux of the matter, the tale's main character possesses an unprecedented quality: he is immensely rich.

It remains to be seen what will Chavez be capable of doing when he starts teetering. Being a coward, a condition proven at least two times already, he almost fell from power. It is unlikely that he puts himself through a similar experience. And there is nothing more dangerous than a half-lunatic tyrant cornered.

But neither do we know what will Chavez dare do when he sees his image turned into the world's laughingstock. For now, the expectations that his immense wealth generate shield him from ridicule. But when the moment that he has nothing to offer comes, when the bubble of his only merit, the petrodollars, bursts, he will have to confront forlornness' ruling and another, yet more severe, that of contempt.

Heretofore he has been able to dodge those enemies, attempting daring moves. But the buck has got to stop some day. And then what will Chavez do to escape the scrutiny of his countrymen, the deception of his court, the implacable judgement that those interested solely in his money will pass?

Nothing more aggressive that a disenchanted heir. And Chavez has only sycophants in his entourage, neither admirers nor friends. And maybe tomorrow he will be chucked in history's rubbish bin, or maybe from the grotesque histrion emerges, as Caligula or Nero, a despot of a thousand crimes. Beware of tyrant Chavez.

* Fernando Londoņo Hoyos was Colombia's Minister of Interior and Justice during the first two years of President Alvaro Uribe's administration. This article was originally published in daily El Tiempo. Translation by Aleksander Boyd.

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