SOTTO VOCE: Chavez on the Cross

Por Venezuela Real - 19 de Noviembre, 2007, 19:46, Categoría: Imagen gobierno / Chávez

Yamini Lohia
November 19, 2007

Guess who thinks he’s God? Hugo Chavez, who already thinks the world of himself, has finally revealed his God complex to the world. After an acrimonious exchange with King Juan Carlos of Spain at the Ibero-American summit in Santiago, where he was told to “just shut up”, Chavez compared his travails with those of Jesus Christ.

Chavez, Venezuela’s arguably benevolent dictator, drew parallels between his situation and the persecution of Christ shortly before crucifixion by paraphrasing Christ when he said if he were to keep quiet “the stones of the people of Latin America would cry out”. The row was provoked by Chavez branding former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a fascist.

When Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister, defended his predecessor by pointing out that the Spanish people had democratically elected Aznar, Chavez muttered into his microphone, dying to interrupt. At which point the Spanish king, revered in Spain for his work in restoring democracy after Franco, leaned across and gave Chavez the royal reprimand.

Because Chavez’s domestic support hinges on his anti-imperialist, firebrand image, he has been able to spin this rebuke into an attack on Latin America by a monarch with imperial ambitions. He has conveniently underplayed the fact that even left of centre politicians like Zapatero disagree with his politics. And as he leads Venezuela into a referendum on his plans for contentious constitutional reforms - which would, among other things, make him president for life - Chavez seems to be operating under the assumption that any press is good press. However, the applause which followed the king’s admonishment indicates that even among ‘friends’, Chavez is viewed as an arrogant gadfly.

While Chavez is irresponsibly throwing around words such as ‘fascist’ and ‘racist’, he is only succeeding in making it more difficult left of centre ideas to be taken seriously. Because he has set himself up as a target of ridicule for people around the world, any pertinent points that he makes are also ignored. Chavez’s verbosity is a self indulgence that serves only to inflate his own ego.

The man, far from ushering in any sort of Bolivarian utopia in Latin America, has relentlessly pursued populist agendas that have, according to many reports, actually led to an increase in poverty since 1999, when Chavez took over. His brand of leftist fundamentalism is doing more harm than good for the so-called social justice that he loves to advocate.

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