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Gustavo Coronel:
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 the state.

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.

The 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.


Gustavo Coronel 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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Petroleumworld News 01/10/07

Copyright©2006 Gustavo Coronel. All rights reserved

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