Archive for ‘WSJ – Wall Street Journal’

July 1, 2009

The Wages of Chavismo

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

JULY 1, 2009

The Wages of Chavismo

The Honduran coup is a reaction to Chávez’s rule by the mob. As military “coups” go, the one this weekend in Honduras was strangely, well, democratic. The military didn’t oust President Manuel Zelaya on its own but instead followed an order of the Supreme Court. It also quickly turned power over to the president of the Honduran Congress, a man from the same party as Mr. Zelaya. The legislature and legal authorities all remain intact. We mention these not so small details because they are being overlooked as the world, including the U.S. President, denounces tiny Honduras in a way that it never has, say, Iran. President Obama is joining the U.N., Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and other model democrats in demanding that Mr. Zelaya be allowed to return from exile and restored to power. Maybe it’s time to sort the real from the phony Latin American democrats. Associated Press The situation is messy, and we think the Hondurans would have been smarter — and better off — not sending Mr. Zelaya into exile at dawn. Mr. Zelaya was pressing ahead with a nonbinding referendum to demand a constitutional rewrite to let him seek a second four-year term. The attorney general and Honduran courts declared the vote illegal and warned he’d be prosecuted if he followed through. Mr. Zelaya persisted, even leading a violent mob last week to seize and distribute ballots imported from Venezuela. However, the proper constitutional route was to impeach Mr. Zelaya and then arrest him for violating the law. Yet the events in Honduras also need to be understood in the context of Latin America’s decade of chavismo . Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez was democratically elected in 1998, but he has since used every lever of power, legal and extralegal, to subvert democracy. He first ordered a rewrite of the constitution that allowed his simple majority in the national assembly grant him the power to rule by decree for one year and to control the judiciary. In 2004 he packed the Supreme Court with 32 justices from 20. Any judge who rules against his interests can be fired. He made the electoral tribunal that oversees elections his own political tool, denying opposition requests to inspect voter rolls and oversee vote counts. The once politically independent oil company now hires only Chávez allies, and independent television stations have had their licenses revoked. Mr. Chávez has also exported this brand of one-man-one-vote-once democracy throughout the region. He’s succeeded to varying degrees in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Nicaragua, where his allies have stretched the law and tried to dominate the media and the courts. Mexico escaped in 2006 when Felipe Calderón linked his leftwing opponent to chavismo and barely won the presidency. In Honduras Mr. Chávez funneled Veneuzelan oil money to help Mr. Zelaya win in 2005, and Mr. Zelaya has veered increasingly left in his four-year term. The Honduran constitution limits presidents to a single term, which is scheduled to end in January. Mr. Zelaya was using the extralegal referendum as an act of political intimidation to force the Congress to allow a rewrite of the constitution so he could retain power. The opposition had pledged to boycott the vote, which meant that Mr. Zelaya would have won by a landslide. Such populist intimidation has worked elsewhere in the region, and Hondurans are understandably afraid that, backed by Chávez agents and money, it could lead to similar antidemocratic subversion there. In Tegucigalpa yesterday, thousands demonstrated against Mr. Zelaya, and new deputy foreign minister Marta Lorena Casco told the crowd that “Chávez consumed Venezuela, then Bolivia, after that Ecuador and Nicaragua, but in Honduras that didn’t happen.” It’s no accident that Mr. Chávez is now leading the charge to have Mr. Zelaya reinstated, and on Monday the Honduran traveled to a leftwing summit in Managua in one of Mr. Chávez’s planes. The U.N. and Organization of American States are also threatening the tiny nation with ostracism and other punishment if it doesn’t readmit him. Meanwhile, the new Honduran government is saying it will arrest Mr. Zelaya if he returns. This may be the best legal outcome, but it also runs the risk of destabilizing the country. We recall when the Clinton Administration restored Bertrand Aristide to Haiti, only to have the country descend into anarchy. As for the Obama Administration, it seems eager to “meddle” in Honduras in a way Mr. Obama claimed was counterproductive in Iran. Yet the stolen election in Iran was a far clearer subversion of democracy than the coup in Honduras. As a candidate, Mr. Obama often scored George W. Bush’s foreign policy by saying democracy requires more than an election — a free press, for example, civil society and the rule of law rather than rule by the mob. It’s a point worth recalling before Mr. Obama hands a political victory to the forces of chavismo in Latin America.

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January 21, 2008

Venezuela’s Chavez Calls Colombian President Uribe ‘Pawn Of Bush’

hugo the crab sadim, here being an example of a good leader, someone that think before talking 🙂

CARACAS (AP)–Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez launched a new volley of insults at Colombian leader Alvaro Uribe Sunday, calling him a “pawn” of Washington and a coward more fit to be a mafia boss than president.

Chavez also reiterated previous accusations that Uribe’s U.S.-allied government tried to sabotage the release of two hostages held by leftist rebels last month, saying the captives’ accounts of bombings in the area showed Colombia wanted to “dynamite” the handover.

The two Colombian captives – Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez – were eventually released by guerrillas to Venezuelan officials Jan. 10 in an operation overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Colombia halted military operations for the successful handover and has denied trying to sabotage the earlier attempt.

“Uribe is a pawn of Bush,” Chavez said during his weekly TV and radio program. “That man doesn’t deserve to be president…coward, liar…Uribe is suitable to be a mafia boss.”

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October 18, 2007

Dancing with Wolves

Dancing with Wolves

by Mary Anastasia O’Grady

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — aka Farc — holds some 3,000 hostages. But only one of those kidnap victims is important enough to have provoked the Colombian government to release a captured Farc leader, in the hopes that the terrorist group might reciprocate by handing over this very high-profile captive.Her name is Íngrid Betancourt, a Colombian-born, naturalized French citizen who has two French-born children. When she was a presidential candidate in Colombia in 2002, Ms. Betancourt went into the jungle to confront the Farc, against the advice of the government, the military and the police. The rebels grabbed her and she hasn’t been seen since. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has made her case a priority for his new government, and it was he who pressured Colombian President Álvaro Uribe in June to free Farc bigwig, Rodrigo Granda, as a good-faith gesture toward Ms. Betancourt’s release.Not surprisingly, the effort produced no humanitarian response from the Farc. Instead, it murdered 11 hostages later that month. Now Mr. Uribe has agreed to allow Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a Farc ally, to mediate negotiations with the guerrillas. The hope is that the talks might free Ms. Betancourt and nearly 50 other “political” hostages — including former senators, a former governor, members of the military and police, and three Americans who were contractors for the State Department at the time of their capture.Olive branches for terrorists are not something Mr. Uribe keeps in his quiver, and for good reason. Appeasement in the past has only given the Farc the upper hand. When he became president in 2002, Mr. Uribe pledged to end negotiations and fight the Farc head on.That’s why his willingness to talk with the drug-running terrorists, with Mr. Chávez in the middle playing peacemaker, is so perplexing. One explanation is that the barrage of criticism from the Betancourt family, French activists, Democrats on Capitol Hill and political enemies at home has simply worn down Mr. Uribe. In other words, that Farc propaganda is beating him. But it is also possible that the Colombian president, fully aware of the dangers he faces in dancing with these wolves, believes the risks are worth taking.Ms. Betancourt has become a cause célèbre in Paris. Her face is plastered all over town and the mayor has pledged to fight “unceasingly” for her release. With French diplomat Daniel Parfait married to Ms. Betancourt’s sister, the national government is also involved. On his first day in office, Mr. Sarkozy met with Íngrid’s daughter and later phoned Mr. Uribe to lobby for the release of Granda.Colombian public opinion favors a deal to free these hostages, some of whom have been held for 10 years. Mr. Uribe and his policies remain popular, but the nation is sensitive, too, to the plight of the victims’ families, who live tortured lives of worry about their loved ones.Given these circumstances, Mr. Chávez’s offer to act as a negotiator could have easily undermined Mr. Uribe at home and abroad. The Venezuelan probably expected to be turned down, leaving Mr. Uribe looking uncooperative. Instead, Bogotá took him up on the proposal.Colombia says that whatever can be done to win freedom for the hostages is worth pursing, including an exchange of hostages for captured Farc terrorists. But not without conditions. Off the table is the guerrilla demand for the return of rebels Simon Trinidad and Nayibe “Sonia” Rojas. Both have been extradited to the U.S. on drug trafficking charges and Mr. Uribe says they cannot be considered part of any deal.There are other conditions. First, in any talks the three Americans must be considered part of the group. A Colombian senator who visited Ms. Rojas in a Texas jail reported that the former Farc guerrilla says that she does not want to become an obstacle to the release of the Americans and that her conditions in prison are far better then theirs in Colombia.Second, any Farc rebels released will have to agree to put down their weapons or go to a third country. This might not go down well with the Farc leadership, but if the past is any guide, it would not be an especially high hurdle to clear. Most of the prisoners Mr. Uribe has released during his time as president have happily abandoned narcotrafficking.Third, Mr. Uribe insists that the government will not surrender any part of the country to the Farc. That was tried during the government of Andres Pastrana (1998-2002) as a way to work toward peace, but the guerrillas used their “safe haven” to store weapons, build bombs, train recruits, hold hostages and otherwise execute their war on the Colombian people.Mr. Chávez can hardly be considered an honest broker here. But by putting the ball back in the Chávez court, Mr. Uribe may be the more clever negotiator. It is an open secret in Colombia that if Mr. Chávez wants to succeed, he can do so because he has the power to damage the Farc. The terrorists have camps in Venezuela, which is now their main trafficking route for cocaine, and they move in and out of the country to dodge Colombian forces. If Mr. Chávez fails, his credibility and image will be again damaged internationally.On the other hand, if the negotiations succeed, Mr. Uribe will have shown that he is attentive to the suffering of the Colombian people and is not too proud to cooperate with his Venezuelan neighbor.Not a bad strategy. But not one without risks, the highest being the possibility that the media, with the help of the Betancourt family, will continue to paint Mr. Uribe as the villain for not being ready to give in to the Farc’s demands. Yet if that happens, he won’t be much worse off than he has been for the past five years. And through it all, he has improved Colombian security like no president before him.Source: Wall Street Journal

July 20, 2007

Fleeing Chávez, Veteran Oil Workers Flock to Frigid Alberta

By Joel MillmanFrom The Wall Street Journal Online

Before he left Venezuela in April for this petroleum outpost in northern Alberta, Freddy Mendez heard tales about bone-chilling winter cold and lumbering moose. Since he’s come to town, he’s seen two black bears in his neighborhood. Still, the toughest adjustment is the late-night sun. “You get a lot of work done when the sun doesn’t set until 11,” he says, stifling a yawn. “But it’s so hard getting the kids to bed.”

 

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July 12, 2007

Venezolanos abren una patria chica en Canadá

La dictadura en Venezuela ha empujado a muchos fuera de nuestras fronteras, eso es triste y sin lugar a dudas tiene muchas connotaciones negativas. Pero, también tiene un lado positivo. La emigración permite al país portador expandir su cultura, y particularidades. Los Venezolanos tenemos muchas cosas lindas para exportar.

Muchos ex empleados de Pdvsa han encontrado refugio en Alberta;
los canadienses aprenden salsa.

FORT MCMURRAY, Canadá -Antes de que dejara Venezuela en abril por este puesto petrolero en el norte de Alberta, Canadá, Freddy Méndez oyó historias sobre el frío invierno que congela los huesos. Desde que llegó al pueblo, ha visto dos osos negros en su vecindario. Sin embargo, lo que le ha resultado más difícil es acostumbrarse al sol de media noche.

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