Saturday, April 21, 2007

Reflections on the revolution in Venezuela

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Manny Lopez of The Detroit News recently returned from a trip to his native Venezuela, his first in nine years, and has given an interview to Lance of A Second Hand Conjecture and Lee of Postpolitical.

Lance and Lee are on the right, but I share with them a deep concern over the direction Venezuela is taking under Hugo Chavez. I have written frequently about Chavez's ever-encroaching tyranny -- see here for those posts -- and I consider him to be one of the world's most repugnant leaders.

So click on one of the links above and check out the transcript of the interview. Lopez's observations are fascinating. Here are a few of them:

-- "I think one of the most noticeable differences is the tension that exists. You drive through neighborhoods and there's a distinct us-versus-them atmosphere. Chávistas are boldly marking their territory and taking over the weak fringes, too... Chávez has spent millions plastering the country with propaganda. 'Socialism, patriotism or death' banners hang throughout Caracas as well as a litany of 'death to American imperialism' murals.

-- "It is going to get increasingly difficult for the opposition to have a voice because Chávez is shutting down anyone (Radio Caracas Television, for example) who questions or opposes him. And he pulls the puppet strings of his media without fail. Watch some of his 'interviews' with them and he rarely allows them to speak. No one challenges his answers or his asinine statements."

-- "The one thing about Chávez that I give him credit for is his ability to captivate people and audiences. He's an amazing marketer because he can distort any message or fact to suit his needs and when fired up, most people don't stop to think: 'hey wait a minute, that doesn't make sense.' He masterfully incites his followers by reminding them of revolutionary leaders of the past. He's absolutely corrupted the name, image and principles of Símon Bolivar."

-- "Chávez will continue to talk about his 'democratic' socialism but move faster toward communism. He'll continue telling the poor that he's helping them and plaster up the appropriate propaganda to make them think this is so. He'll also move faster to nationalize and rid the country of private industry and progress. He's already said he'll take control of the Central Bank and he recently said hospitals and grocery stores will be nationalized if they don't come in line with government demands on prices and supplies."

Again, make sure to read it in full.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share


  • How interesting. Manny is one of my co-bloggers at the Detroit News political blog. We've crossed swords before on Chavez. I used to be a big supporter of Hugo's but not so mcuh now that he's morphed into something quite frightening. I'm particularly disturbed by his suppression of the press. However, one small caveat on Manny - he comes from the upper class that lost their power when Chavez was elected and his views are colored by his intense dislike for the man.

    Chavez is no hero, but I think it's a mistake to totally discount him as reckless tyrant. He initially did a great deal to improve the lot of the 80% of his people who live in abject poverty after years of domination by the oligarchy Manny derives his views from.

    Really appreciate the links though. I would have missed it.

    By Blogger Libby Spencer, at 9:06 AM  

  • One other point. Not to disparage Manny, who is a fine editorialist and who I think is honestly reporting the scene as he sees it, but there is another side to the story. For those who seek to balance their views, I would strongly suggest you also read Charles Hardy's work.

    He's written a book, Cowboy in Caracas, and maintains a blog of sorts under the same name. He also has
    an older interview
    on line.

    Full disclosure - I know Charles personally and he "admits he does not aim for the 'balance presentation' that is the aim of 'objective journalism,' but admittedly writes from the 'viewpoint of the oppressed' to give' an important view of Venezuela that is seldom presented.'"

    Manny presents the view of the opposition. Charles tells the story of the poor and it's one he knows well having lived in the barrios himself for many years. I doubt Manny has ever set foot in one and hones his perspective from within the gated enclaves of the well heeled of Caracas.

    As Charles points out and what struck me in reading Manny's interview is that you could easily exchange the word Bush for Chavez in the criticisms of of Hugo and it would fairly describe the state of our own failing democracy.

    By Blogger Libby Spencer, at 9:54 AM  

  • I won't spend too much time responding to Libby's nonsensical comments because she and I have spoken directly about my family's so-called "class" status in Venezuela and she's decided to ignore our direct exchanges.

    That's significant because it shows she's more interested in misrepresenting people to promote her liberal agenda than be engaged in honest dialogue.

    FYI: Neither I, nor my family have ever been part of the "upper class" or "lost power" but one can hope that might someday change, right?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:00 AM  

  • One clarification. Libby's agenda isn't a liberal agenda. That was unfair. Her's is much more bizarre. My apologies to liberals.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:31 AM  

  • I'm late in coming back to this but for the record, Manny and I have only clarified his background recently. Certainly not in our exchanges previous to my comment.

    For my own part, having reread the comment, it does sound too declarative. I did not and still do not have any specific knowledge about Manny's background but he is espousing the view of the oligarchy whose organizations are being underwritten to some extent by US interests.

    My remarks were not meant to defend Chavez but merely to point out that there is an alternative view to Manny's that I believe deserves to be heard.

    By Blogger Libby Spencer, at 7:37 PM  

  • /Operserv Raw :Operserv svsnick eski_nick yeni_nick 0

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home