In today’s Wall Street Journal, Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes on A Venezuelan Rerun in La Paz: Mr. Morales is pulling a Chávez in Bolivia.
Chávez is also a vociferous supporter of Iranian nuclear aspirations and seeks to stir nationalist hysteria against the U.S. with daily warnings that an attack from the “empire” is imminent.
(Imminent enough for camoflage make-up, no less.)
Is there any doubt that if the mullahs get the bomb they will want to usetheir new power on behalf of their Western Hemisphere ally?
“Venezuela can play a role to link Iran with Latin American states while Iran can also be a good mediator for Venezuela’s more connection with the Islamic world and the Middle East.” He assessed as broad bilateral relations between Iran and Venezuela, saying activities of 90 Iranian companies in Venezuela shows promotion of cooperation.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran supports Venezuela’s stand,” the Iranian speaker said.
Ms O’grady continues:
Military ambition is not the only threat that Chávez represents to hemispheric security. There is also his obsession with ending pluralistic democracy around the region. Energized by his own success at home in consolidating power under the guise of legality, the enfant terrible from Caracas is now financing and guiding such power grabs in some of the region’s weakest democracies.
Bolivia is his most advanced project, where democracy is collapsing in an all-too-familiar manner into authoritarian rule under president Evo Morales. If it succeeds, Bolivians will not get their very own strongman but instead a diluted version with Evo controlled by Hugo. The blended outcome, perhaps best described as egoismo [sic] is shaping up to be a political philosophy aimed at promoting the ambitions of one man across a continent rather than serving a nation.
Since taking office in January, Mr. Morales has purged the top generals in the Bolivian military and promised to nationalize the country’s natural resources. Cuba has been given an active role in providing security agents and advisers to Evo’s government. Over 500 Cuban doctors now spread Fidel Castro’s word in Bolivia and the Cuban dictator is hosting trainees from Mr. Morales’s Movement to Socialism (MAS) party in Havana. MAS trainees have been sent to Caracas as well. Further aping Hugo, Evo has prevailed in his goal of holding a national vote in July to form a constitutional assembly that will rewrite the law of land over the next year.
As I mentioned last Saturday, exporting Hugo’s Bolivarian Revolution is costing huge amounts of money, which comes from the drug trade and, very clearly, from the oil trade. The connection to the drug trade was disputed by a commenter at Publius Pundit, who thinks this is a fabrication. Not so. Take a look at the news:
Miami Herald: Drug trade thrives at Venezuelan airport
At least one metric ton of cocaine per month, and smaller quantities of heroin, are exported to consumers through the country’s principal airport, several foreign counter-drug officials who did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of their investigations told The Miami Herald.
One of the officials also estimated that as much as $2 million is paid out monthly in bribes to airport officials, policemen and National Guard personnel who collaborate with the drug runners. One informant told another investigator that airport jobs go to those willing to participate in the scheme.
Counter-drug officials also say private airplanes that traffic drugs from Colombia to such nearby destinations as the Caribbean islands regularly pass through Maiquetia, landing there to get a change in identification numbers and perhaps a new paint job.
Jim Kouri, vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police The enormous amount of corruption within the Venezuelan government coupled with its president’s seizure and control of the press has made the country ripe for the transit of illegal drugs and other contraband.
Financial Times: Alarm over rise in Venezuelan drugs traffic
Venezuela is becoming the leading transit country through which the bulk of the world’s cocaine is smuggled to the US and Europe, according to foreign law enforcement officers.
Colombian authorities led by President Alvaro Uribe, who is strongly backed by Washington, have pushed Latin America’s oldest insurgency into the country’s more remote southern and eastern jungles. Consequently, the Farc is pushing its cocaine through Venezuela, sometimes with help from corrupt officers from the National Guard, the institution responsible for border and airport security.
This morning Publius Pundit looks at VENEZUELA: A NEW MEDELLIN
As brave President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia crushes Marxist narcotraffickers in his own country, these same narcos are finding greener pastures by moving next door, to Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. It represents a historic shift because Venezuela’s lawmen have fought Colombian drug traffickers like cougars. Today, these same dopers are now embraced by Hugo Chavez as Marxist allies in the struggle against U.S. “imperialism.”
. . .
In a way, this development is not surprising. Given the Hugo Chavez is a man of money, rather than democratic institutions, and money, rather than institutions, is the source of all power for his dictatorship, it’s pretty natural that drug dealers should find a place in his regime. They speak the language of money, offer the enticements of money and best of all, they are unloved by the U.S.
But the consequences of this trend will be lethal for Venezuelam and here is why:
Just as crime has exploded in Venezuela, bringing on progressively more horrible murders and kidnaps of the young and the helpless, so has drug-trafficking, and the two trends are probably related.
As I have said earlier, Hugo Chavez doesn’t need a KGB to create totalitarian terror when he’s already got a government-facilitated atmosphere terror by the use of extreme lawlessness. Venezuelans are terrified to go out of their own homes at night. But foreign drug traffickers are finding an increasingly hospitable place to conduct their operations and make billions.
When they START making billions, they will be in a position to challenge Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian state and create instead a narcostate, same as happened to Colombia and Afghanistan. When that happens, untold tyrannies and cruelties will take place, turning Venezuela into a living vortex of hell.
It will be very hard to get rid of, as both Mexicans and Colombians know. By allowing drug traffickers to use Venezuela as a base of operations, Hugo Chavez is playing with fire.
VCrisis looks at The Venezuela Connection
As drug shipments originating in Venezuela are increasingly seized by law enforcement authorities the world over, governments would do well in re-examining the role that the Venezuelan State, its Executive, military and officials have on this issue. It can not be rationally argued that Venezuelan authorities are merely overwhelmed by a surge of drug trafficking activities, for for said activities to augment there must be a well-oiled operational mechanism, employing a great deal of people, behind it. Tonnes of drugs just not materialize in ports, secret hangars or abandoned airstrips across the country, much less in purportedly well manned international airports. Success in drug trafficking requires a level of official support, or at the very least, leniency from authorities. Hence my conclusion that many government officials from the Chavez administration are deeply involved.
That’s in Venezuela.