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.

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