It's official: Venezuela becomes a dictatorship
Political power will bring out the best or the worst in a leader.
Hugo Chávez recently won a presidential election in Venezuela
but, in spite of the fact that more than four million citizens
voted against him, about 40% of all voters, he decided that he
had received a mandate to abandon all remaining pretenses of democracy
and to establish in the country a totalitarian state. His path
to totalitarianism has been in progress for some years now but
his massive political propaganda expenditure and his violent anti-U.S.
stance have allowed him to buy much good will abroad, both in
the U.S. among some members of the democratic party and in Europe,
among pseudo-intellectual fellow travelers. As a result, he is
still being defined in some international circles as a defender
of the poor, a champion of the weak. One by one, however, most
of his strongest defenders in the democratic side of the fence
are becoming victims of his insults and attacks and are starting
to realize that the man is a psychiatric case, in the same category
of Mussolini, Hitler and Sadam Hussein.
The latest case in point is that of Jose Miguel
Insulza, the Secretary General of the Organization of the American
States (OAS). Mr. Insulza recently expressed concern about the
stated intention of Hugo Chávez to cancel the license of
Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), the oldest and most prestigious
of the Venezuelan commercial TV stations. Insulza was very moderate
in his comments but he did say that such a measure could create
a negative political impact in the country and in the hemisphere.
Clearly, the intention to revoke the license of RCTV is due to
the fact that this station is in the opposition to Hugo Chávez.
Although Mr. Insulza tried very hard to temper his comments by
adding that the political climate in Venezuela had improved after
the elections and that the legal aspects of the measure were an
internal Venezuelan issue, the reactions of Chávez and
his foreign minister, the former bus driver and bodyguard Nicolas
Maduro, have been violent. Maduro called Insulza a liar while
Chávez, less diplomatic, called Insulza an idiot (or a**hole
depending on translation), one of his favorite expressions to
define any political leader who does not agree with him. He has
asked for Insulza's resignation from his OAS post. This is the
more remarkable as Insulza, until only weeks ago, was perceived
to have a soft spot for the Venezuelan dictator.
In parallel with this vulgar outburst Chávez
has gone on to name a new cabinet that includes his brother Adan
as education minister. Adan is a Marxist friend of the Cuban regime.
The cabinet is a collection of the most mediocre followers of
the Chávez Socialist Revolution. The new vice-president
is Jorge Rodríguez, the former president of the national
electoral council, a man who handed Chávez victory in the
murky presidential referendum of 2004 and who was a prominent
promoter of Smartmatic, the company that tried to buy its way
into U.S. elections through the buying of Sequoia. The new justice
minister, Pedro Carreño, is a retired army captain, a very
ignorant person and a chronic liar. The new finance minister replaces
Nelson Merentes, a man who allowed corrupt practices in the selling
of bonds and other commercial papers owned by Venezuela, but he
is not expected to be an improvement. The rest of the ministers
are much worse.
Chávez also announced that he would establish
state ownership of all telecommunication companies, including
the national telephone company. This would complete his almost
total control of Venezuelan private industry. Most banks are already
under his influence and some of their owners are actually accomplices
of the Chávez regime in some of the corrupt financial transactions
involving the buying and selling of commercial papers held by
These and other actions by Chávez are making
of his regime the newest member of the club of failed, rogue states.
There can be no further doubt that Venezuela has joined Zimbabwe,
North Korea, Iran, Syria and Libya in this club. Public opinion
in the U.S. and in Europe should be aware that when the Chávez
ambassadors say something is not Venezuela speaking but, simply,
Chávez speaking. The ambassadors paid by Chávez
are no longer representing our country. They are the servants
of a totalitarian regime.
OAS should take immediate action against the totalitarian Venezuelan
regime by invoking the Inter-American Democratic Charter. This
charter should find the way to punish any head of state who wants
to become a dictator and who calls the secretary general of the
organization an idiot.
is a 28 years oil industry veteran, a member of the first board
of directors (1975-1979) of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), author
of several books. At the present Coronel is Petroleumworld associate
editor and advisor on the opinion and editorial content of Petroleumworld.
Petroleumworld not necessarily share these views.
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