Nov 152007
 
Authors: Joseph Haynie

The bleeding hearts want you to believe that the current situation in America is one of tyrannical reign under President Bush. Yet, in their misguided conclusions, they have failed to identify one of the real tyrants today, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who, while establishing his empire and consolidating authority, has gone largely unnoticed and virtually ignored.

On Dec. 2, Venezuelans will vote on a referendum that will lift presidential term limits and enable President Chavez to censor the media, suspend civil liberties and allow the government to nationalize private property.

Enabling Chavez in these ways only serves to disable democracy in the Latin American republic, ultimately costing the Venezuelans their freedom.

To ensure the referendum’s success, Chavez has proposed shortening the workday from eight to six hours, making it hard for many hard working Venezuelans to refuse.

One can only hope the Venezuelans can see through this insidious incentive when they go to the polls and realize what is really at stake.

Chavez’s rise to authoritarian power paralleled that of many dictators before him.

In 1992, like Mussolini’s March on Rome and Hitler’s Beer Hall coup, Chavez, with the support of the military, attempted to overthrow the Venezuelan government.

The coup failed and Chavez was subsequently jailed. Although his body was confined to a prison cell, his celebrity was not. Gaining notoriety among the populous, the failed coup served as the catalyst for Chavez’s current political career.

Like fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, Venezuela is the birthplace of another ideological revolution: Bolivarianism.

Based on the principles of Simon Bolivar, an 18th century military leader who fought for Venezuela ‘s independence from Spain, Bolivarianism advocated Venezuelan independence and free market economics.

Chavez has gone a step further, mingling Marxist philosophies with Bolivar’s teachings, emphasizing an opposition to imperialism and liberal economic policies.

With his position, Chavez, in the view of many has championed the cause of the poor.

During his presidency Chavez has committed billions of petrodollars to social and political causes throughout Latin America. His fiscal generosity has even been seen in the United States, as he subsidizes winter heating oil for 2 million Americans.

Venezuelans enjoy cheap gas and a vast assortment of government subsidies. Massive social spending has yielded social change never before seen in Venezuela.

Because of Chavez’s charitable efforts and his outspoken opposition to President Bush, Hollywood liberals like Sean Penn and Danny Glover want you to believe that Chavez is a great guy.

Of course, these accounts ignore the darker side of Chavez.

The softer side of tyrants should not excuse atrocities and human rights violations. If you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig. After all, Mussolini made the trains run on time, but that doesn’t make him a good person.

Chavez may not be seeking a “final solution”, but he does have a history of encouraging the erosion of fundamental freedoms. This past May, Chavez refused to renew the license of an opposition TV station. Chavez, as reported by the BBC, justified his actions, saying he would not tolerate media outlets working toward a coup against him.

Apparently, Hugo doesn’t like the taste of his own medicine.

Chavez, unlike his counterpart in Iran, does not pose a military threat to America. However, he does pose an economic one.

As one of the world’s leading oil producers, Hugo Chavez needs to be taken seriously, especially as he has us by the barrels, so to speak.

Even though he is firmly entrenched in office, and pedaling social services for power, one can hope that it will not take a war before he is removed.

Hopefully the parallels with the aforementioned dictators end here.

Joseph Haynie is a senior political science major. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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