We aren’t afraid (or ashamed) to admit that we have been supports of Hugo Chavez in the past. But beginning about 10 months ago we began to sour on Hugo who was becoming more talk and not a lot of walk.
Chavez was pretty much given dictatorial powers today by the Venezuelan congress. All things considered, this is a bit odd. Chavez was and is democratically elected and has support of 63% of the people in his country. One of his claims to fame is that he uses the oil profits and spends it on the poor… unfortunately for Hugo, leftists, and Venezuelans that money and it’s affects seems to be taking a long time to reach the poor.
Chavez is a populist. His anti-American rhetoric plays well in Latin America (most Americans don’t realize that when Hugo trashes Bush and the US many people in Latin America agree with him). He is a former military man, attempted a coup back in the early 90s, failed, was democratically elected in the late 90s, was elected again in 2001, in 2002 there was an attempted coup on Chavez (which the US government may have supported) and then won a closely contested recall election in 2004. Last month Chavez won reelection once again.
There’s no doubt that Chavez has attempted to limited freedom of speech (mainly by nationalizing the media) and with his new powers who knows what is going to happen. He has the support of his people, but at some point, one figures, they will turn against him.
(Oddly, Chavez reminds me of Julius Caesar… in fact the historical comparison is too far off; both being military men, populists, had/have huge support from the masses, used the national resources to gain that support, and gained power through the Senate (and therefore claiming that it was democratic and what the people wanted). Time will tell of Chavez is stabbed 23 times somewhere in Caracas).
Since reelection, Chavez has shifted even further to the left. He views capitalism as evil, calls for a “21st century socialism” revolution, and is attempting to nationalize the media (by shutting down private media) and other industries of Venezuela.
We are supporters of social justice. This means that economically we fall on the left. But we are against monopolies (both private and public) since they lead to waste. We are also fans of democracy, for all its faults it is better than any other system that we have learned about or attempted to dream up. Chavez is breaking two no-nos with us. He’s creating a monopoly by nationalize much of Venezuela and he’s limited freedom of speech, and thus freedom in general, in his country. (And this is interesting, the US has granted asylum to over 2,000 Vezenzuelans since 2004.)
If Hugo Chavez really does have 63% support of the people in his country, there is no need for him to shut down the opposition media. We can live with his nationalization of industry, we don’t think it’s the best idea, but it won’t hurt or limit people’s rights; something that Chavez’s other policies are doing. One would figure that a leader as popular as Chavez would allow the opposition to stay seeing that getting rid of them has little political benefit.
We will say this before anyone on the right attempts to claim victory. Despite Chavez’s current missteps, we are not aware of Chavez allowing the torture of humans by his government. We also are not aware of Chavez starting a war and sending over 3,000 of his own citizens to their death for reasons that are still either completely unclear or completely made up.