If you’re a leftist pausing to honor your memory of Hugo Chavez, maybe you forgot this peace-loving “man of the people” came to power after two military coups that left over 300 people dead. He changed the constitution, eliminating the senate and extending his term. There was revolt.
The military reinstated him amid striking oil workers, political parties, unions and businesses in protest.
Chavez then fired 18,000 workers and began his control of labor unions. While some swoon at a sea of red shirts in Plaza Bolivar chanting obedience, others recoil at total control of the unions. Only “Chavez-approved” candidates can run for elected union leadership positions. Imagine SEIU being required to have candidates approved by President George Bush. Want to refuse? Join other refuseniks in prison. That’s Chavez’s Venezuela.
Let’s praise Chavez for implementing a broadcasting statute that allowed him to shut down dozens of politically critical radio stations.
According to Human Rights Watch, in December 2010 the National Assembly extended the scope of this statute to include the internet. It also amended the telecommunications law, granting the government power to suspend or revoke concessions to private outlets if it is “convenient for the interests of the nation.”
Do you Obama supporters approve, thinking, “Wow. Let’s shut down conservative radio hosts!”? Will you feel the same way years from now when you want to criticize a Republican president?
Are you applauding Hugo Chavez’s policy of jailing people who criticized his policies? If you wrote a column such as this in Venezuela during Chavez’ reign, you would be prosecuted under desacato laws that criminalize disrespect of high government officials.
Imagine President Bush so annoyed by Paul Krugman that he puts Krugman in jail. Imagine President Obama so annoyed with George Will that he puts Will in jail. This was Hugo Chavez.
If you believe in justice, consider the fate of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni. Again, from Human Rights Watch: “In December 2009 Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni was detained on the day she authorized the conditional release of Eligio Cedeno, a banker accused of corruption. Afiuni was following a recommendation by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, given that Cedeno had been in pre-trial detention for almost three years, although Venezuelan law prescribes a two-year limit. The day after her arrest, Chavez publicly branded Afiuni a “bandit” who should receive the maximum 30 years in prison. Accused of corruption, abuse of authority, and “favoring evasion of justice,” her case went before a judge who has stated publicly: “I would never betray my Commander because I take the Revolution in my blood…”
This IS what you liberals signed up for.
“No!” You exclaim. “I signed up for taking money from bad, greedy Citgo and giving it to the poor!”
Like mafia bosses handing out free turkeys in between shakedowns and killings, Chavez won over the populace with free health care, which has driven thousands of doctors out of the country. There are shortages of everything from aspirin to cholesterol drugs. Chavez knew enough about Venezuela’s health system to get a surgeon from Spain and treatment at the best Cuban facility reserved for the wealthy and political elite.
You can celebrate Chavez’ policies resulting in a murder rate that has increased from 25 per 100,000 to 45 per 100,000.
“But poverty has gone down!”
Despite Chavez’ trillion dollar promise to end poverty, 60 percent of Venezuelans are poor. Yes, extreme poverty, defined as the inability to provide water, food, clothing and shelter for oneself, has shrunk. Poverty reduction is often credited for reductions in crime. Venezuela averaged 53 murders per day in 2011, nearly three times more than in 1999, and 20 times more kidnappings since 1999.
Why should anyone in America care? He’s not here. Venezuelan poor steal shoes. U.S. poor microwave fattening processed foods.
You should care because thousands of liberals in the U.S. want a Hugo Chavez to rule the U.S., not just Michael Moore.