From today’s Wall Street Journal. While many may think the affinity between Hugo and Ahmadinejad is being left wing, it is actually fundamentalism and their autocratic bent and one day this alliance will come to haunt us Venezuelans, when it gets out if hand as I am sure it will, much like Chavez’ fake democracy being derailed to simply support his power and his bid for international leadership. Chavez no longer even talks to the Deputies elected to the National Assembly and for the next 18 months he will legislate at will whatever whim he wants without asking or consulting anyone. So much for participative democracy!
Hugo and Mahmoud in today’s Wall Street Journal Page A18
We’ve known for some time that Hugo Chávez is a menace to the economic well-being of his own people. But the question that seems increasingly urgent is whether he’s becoming a threat to U.S. security interests — both in the Western Hemisphere and beyond.
Specifically, we’d like to know what Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Bill Delahunt make of Mr. Chávez’s weekend summit with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian President stopped by Caracas on Saturday as part of a four-day engagement with Latin America’s new leftist governments. On Sunday, the Iranian communed with Nicaragua’s new boss, Daniel Ortega, and then on Monday he hit the inauguration of Ecuador’s new pro-Chávez President Rafael Correa.
The Caracas visit was Mr. Ahmadinejad’s second in four months. “This is just a prelude of what we will do,” declared Mr. Chávez, in a televised speech announcing the creation of a joint $2 billion fund to finance development and other projects. “This large and strategic fund, brother, is going to be converted into a mechanism of liberation,” he added, saying their goal is to build “a network of alliances.”
In Managua, the Iranian also signed a “broad cooperation accord” with Mr. Ortega. Mr. Chávez openly funded the Sandinista’s Presidential campaign last year, and he earlier supported Evo Morales in Bolivia. Venezuelan soldiers have reported that they are under orders to give Colombian rebels safe haven, and Mr. Chávez signed contracts last year to buy Russian MiGs and open a Kalishnakov factory at home.
Meanwhile, the Venezuelan is using his recent election victory to consolidate his grip on the economy. A week ago, he announced he would nationalize the country’s electricity and telephone companies; he already controls the oil business. His goal here is to redistribute income but especially to shrink the private economy in order to reduce the space in which any political opposition can operate.
The Caracas Stock Exchange Index fell 16% last week, but that didn’t phase Señor Chávez. He’s moving to withdraw the license of a prominent independent television network, and he has asked Congress to grant him temporary executive power to rule by decree. “The world should know: Our revolution is not turning back,” he said. “This is the path our boat is on: socialism. Country, socialism, or death.”
The world should have known this a long time ago but too many people chose to ignore it. Mr. Chávez took office in 1999 on a promise to end corruption and injustice. By 2000, human rights groups warned of a deterioration in constitutional protections, and Mr. Chávez began importing Cuban security agents along with Cuban doctors and teachers to spread propaganda.
Each time Mr. Chávez has faced resistance, he has tightened the screws. Price and capital controls and property seizures became state policy. Employees of the state-owned oil company and its contractors were fired if they opposed the government; political opponents were jailed.
All the while, Mr. Chávez has had American enablers who excused his growing repression, or blamed it on a reaction to U.S. policy. Foremost among them has been Mr. Dodd, who has defended Mr. Chávez as “democratically elected” despite his clear trend toward authoritarianism. In 2004, the circumstances surrounding a recall referendum were so anti-democratic that the European Union refused to act as an observer. Jimmy Carter nonetheless blessed the outcome amid heavy irregularities, and the U.S. State Department endorsed the process. Other politicians, such as Mr. Delahunt, embraced and flattered Mr. Chávez for his PR stunt of offering cut-rate oil to poor Americans.
Perhaps it’s time these Americans paid attention to the kind of “socialism” and “revolution” that their support is helping Mr. Chávez to build in Venezuela.