Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lose the Illusion

Bart Jones' 2008 account of the rise and dominance of Hugo Chavez, "Hugo," precipitated a revealing conversation with a Venezuelan friend of mine. During the 2002 attempted coup of Chavez, the Bush Administration adopted a policy disgustingly reminiscent of that of the Latin American side of Reagan's Iran-Contra affair. Otto Reich, closely involved with the Nicaraguan Contras occupied the Latin American desk at the State Department whilst, immediately prior to the attempted whilst, immediately prior to the "coup," $1,000,000 were pumped into Chavez's opposition, via US government agencies such as USAID nonetheless. For the 2-day dictatorship of Pedro Carmona, the US was joined only its close ally El Salvador in endorsing the Venezuelan right who ousted a President who had been democratically elected, chosen by the people on a simple majority. If it wasn't for the actions of the swarms of so-called Chavistas, the US government would have aided and abetted in the abolition of another Latin democracy.
Here my friend enters the equation. She arrived in England from Venezuela in 2003 and disputes Chavez's democratic legitimacy, likening her homeland to the plight of Colombia. Most troubling, she believes that is only a matter of time before the world's most trigger-happy police force, the United States military steps in and removes Chavez. Thus, the realization of the dangerous precedent set by Reich and co. A belief fosters amongst the Latin American elite that democracy can be circumvented by brown-nosing up Washington way. In Venezuela, there aer serious problems in and between the barrios and the gated communities of the elite but unless those problems are addressed by means of a fairly elected government, the class tension will not slacken. It cannot be in the interests of any peace-loving Venezuelan to involve the US in a domestic issue. Even if Chavez bore tyrannical tendencies, he is popularly, democratically elected and is subject to re-election even under the terms of the recent, controversial referendum. Unless all domestic interests absolve to debate and conciliate their differences via democratic due process, the barrios will continue to foster violence and the elites will thus be forced to continue living behind chain-link fences.
Of course, there is an American perspective to this issue. Any American who has been overseas since 2001 will realize just how much respect the US has lost in the 21st century. Barack Obama surely realizes this and, unlike his predecessor, has the brains to respect the theory of war. One should only attack when serious violence is threatened against it. No country should serve as an international police force. That is the responsibility solely of the United Nations. Obama promised change and if the only change is adherence and respect to the above theory, he will have my vote in 2012. There simply cannot be scope for the persistence of the disgusting policies of a crazy old man.
These are the worlds of someone who has lost a loved one due to an American military presence where there was never an American mandate for it. The pain of never being able to know a family member is something nobody should have to endure. If people must suffer such a circumstance due to a morbid desire to circumvent democracy, everything will be lost.

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