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Friday, July 23, 2010

Hugo Chavez: the new Bolivar

Venezuela's defence minister
  President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela long has been a thorn in the side of the United States and other non-socialist governments in the hemisphere and Europe. On 7.22.10 he broke off diplomatic relations with neighbor Colombia, after many months of threatening to do so. The conflict is over Chavez's support for the marxist revolutionaries cum drug traffickers operating in Colombia, who often take refuge and seek material and other support in the remote regions of western Venezuela, just across the border. Colombia's newly elected government, and its supporters in Washington, D.C., have called him out on it, offering concrete support for their accusations. He didn't like that. Like a strident teenager, he's jumping up and down now yelling about the enemy and threatening various forms of retaliation.
  Thoughtfully, the Organization of American States and the United Nations are calling for restraint in this new flashpoint of regional conflict.
  Chavez likens himself to Simon Bolivar, the Venezuelan-born independence leader who became the best known of the generals fighting against Spanish rule in the Americas. Last week he even had exhumed the remains of Bolivar to prove the "Libertador" was assassinated by his enemies with arsenic. Those charges are pending.
  Good background on this issue in today's Christian Science Monitor: see story.
  The worse thing about all of this: Diego Maradona, the Argentine soccer star and coach, got involved in the middle of the diplomatic row, used for political purposes by the New Bolivar. What a show! For more from inside Venezuela from a reputed and independent source, see this story in the newspaper Tal Cual (Spanish only).

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