The dictator In Our Backyard

Por Venezuela Real - 4 de Enero, 2007, 8:47, Categoría: Imagen gobierno / Chávez

 Percepción de Chávez y su actuación con referencia  a RCTV según un periódico Canadiense

National Post - Toronto, Canada
January 02, 2007

The great news events of 2006, as well as the ominous year-end forecasts for 2007, were dominated by dictatorial figures from the Muslim world: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Saddam Hussein, Hassan Nasrallah, Mullah Omar. But here in the Americas, we have another dictator to worry about. No, his name isn't Fidel Castro. But like the ailing Cuban, he has fans among the NDP and Canadian labour unions.

Indeed, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez has become a beacon for disaffected leftists everywhere, what with his talk of "social production," his anti-American (and occasionally anti- Semitic) screeds and his generous gifts to other socialist regimes. High oil prices and tight control of the state petro-monopoly have allowed him to engage in increasingly radical experimentation, converting businesses to worker co-operatives through a mix of tax incentives, persuasion and belligerence. Over time, his rhetoric has become more messianic, his tactics more heavy-handed. "Those who are really with me must be with me in their spirits -- they must be ready to die with me," he recently declared. "They must be able to forget material goods and rid themselves of all. Supreme love is the love for the collective."

Some will find such sentiments stirring: Here at last is the man who will finally -- finally -- put an end to the alleged evils of capitalism and globalization. More level-headed observers will recognize Chavez's words as the preamble to another would-be utopia making the predictable transition into repressive communist nightmare -- a grim arc that played out too many times in the 20th century, taking tens of millions of lives along the way.

Until now, Chavez supporters could plead that their hero was in no danger of becoming a Stalin, a Mao or even a Fidel, for he had more or less kept his hands off the country's robust, modern opposition media. But on Friday, in an address to the Venezuelan army, Chavez took the next step, uncorking a furious rant against private broadcaster RCTV. In March, the president warned that "the broadcasting license for this coup plotting TV channel ? will not be renewed ? Start turning your equipment off! No media at the service of coup plotting, against the people, against the nation, against the national independence and against the dignity of the Republic will be tolerated in this country!"

Chavez's quarrel with RCTV goes back to 2002, when the network proved less than enthusiastic about broadcasting government propaganda in the face of an attempted anti-Chavez coup and a general strike. RCTV claims that its license is valid beyond the spring, but at the army rally Chavez barked, "It is effective [only] if you are good!" Chavez's Minister of Communications, William Lara, denied that the network was being expropriated and argued that the licence suspension was not a political decision. This was perhaps the most disturbing development of all, since it is impossible on its face to reconcile Lara's statements with the public bellowings of his leader. All servants of government lie sometimes, but when self-evident contradictions are peddled without shame, foreign observers are entitled to begin drawing the most ominous conclusions.

The state of media freedom in Venezuela was, in truth, not so healthy before Chavez's outburst. International watchdog group Reporters Without Borders has chronicled recent incidents of mysterious newspaper sabotage and death threats against senior opposition journalists. Open Chavista war against opposition media, however, represents a new, overt phase in Venezuela's "Bolivarian Revolution." It is one that should cost Chavez his last friends in the liberal democracies -- but don't bet on it.

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Nuevo Portal Principal

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