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Venezuela and the Duping of Latin America

Venezuela and the Duping of Latin America

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Published by: Jerry E. Brewer, Sr. on Dec 14, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Column 020606 Brewer
Monday, February 6, 2006
Venezuela and the Duping of Latin AmericaBy Jerry Brewer
The intentional or unintentional neglect of the WesternHemisphere in recent years by the United States hasmost certainly diminished its stature and influencethroughout most of the Americas, with much of theperceived neglect attributed to security obligations inthe Middle East. And in the absence of proactivedemocratic U.S. strategies for the region, self-absorbed, unstable leftists have risen
many withhidden agendas.
Through the undermining of civil and democraticinstitutions, leaders such as Venezuelan PresidentHugo Chavez have virtually eliminated free expression,circumventing effective checks to arbitrarygovernment via the media. The Chavez regime hasinstigated violent verbal and physical attacks againstthe owners, editors, and employees of the media.Their buildings have been bombed, reporters killed andinjured, and property destroyed by armed members of 
Venezuela’s security apparatchik.
Prominent Venezuelan journalists have had their homesraided and been compelled to testify to the secretpolice. This prompting the International BroadcastingAssociation, Inter American Press Association, and theInter-American Commission on Human Rights of theOrganization of American States to plead in vain to thegovernment to protect freedom of the press.
Moreover, regularly scheduled television and radiobroadcasts are routinely interrupted in Venezuela, withpresidential decrees that force transmission of hours of pro-government propaganda.
A newly instituted penal code states that “anyon
e whooffends with words, or in writing or in any way
disrespects the President of the Republic, or whomeveris fulfilling his duties, will be punished with six to 30months in prison if the offense is serious, and half that
if it is light.” Journalists who “expose another person tocontempt or public hatred” can receive a prison
sentence of one to three years.
The new code also specifies, incredibly, that anyonecharged with these crimes will not be entitled to legaldue process.
The crime of “civil rebellion” in Venezuela carries a
minimum 12-year and maximum 25-year sentence. Sowhat if Argentina had such a statute when PresidentChavez led violent protests there, in Mar del Plataduring the Summit of the Americas, with out of controlprotestors throwing rocks and bottles, and burning U.S.flags?
Self-serving agendas are the earmarks of adictatorship. Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a U.S.soldier killed in Iraq, hailed Chavez last week in
Venezuela, stating: “I admire him for his resolve
against my
government and it’s meddling.” Too,Sheehan has called her son’s killers in Iraq “freedomfighters.” 
Chavez responded by saying, “Down with the U.S.
empire! It must be said in the entire world, down with
the empire.” 
Idols bearing gifts through oil wealth attract influence.As well, assisting financially strapped countries, such asArgentina and Cuba with debt assistance may look goodin photo opportunities and buy favors. However a piedpiper who perilously gathers all state power in his ownhands is hardly a prophet.
The United Nations Population Fund says that some 222million people are poor in Latin America and the
Caribbean, over 43 percent of the region’s population,
with 96 million living in extreme poverty. And freemarket policies are not popular in situations where
diverse income gaps make an area the world’s least
equitable region.
What is particularly disturbing about unchecked powerin the leadership of Venezuela is the manner in whichvast wealth from oil revenue can be used as bait to gaincompliance or favors. By extension, what is to prevent
a nation’s infrastructure (stockpiled production, oil
facilities and related mechanisms) from being

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