Scott Burgess has an excellent post of how welcome Hugo was in London, Rapturous London Hosts Second Coming, which includes a brief resume of Hugo’s accomplishments:
Unlike the divinity of whom he speaks, Mr. Livingstone is a politician of the fallible variety, and seems to have misspoken when providing support for this observation (“remarkable achievements in eliminating illiteracy, widening access to education and extending free healthcare to the majority of the population for the first time“), as those particular lessons were learned on these shores some time ago. One can only conclude that Mr. Livingstone had in mind a different sort of education in perfect democracy, one which – if Mr. Chavez’s previous accomplishments are any indication – will be comprised of lessons in:
- The utility of the military coup as a legitimate means to power. Mr. Chavez and his associates attempted two such coups in the early 90s: both failed.
- Methods undertaken to “undermine the independence of the country’s judiciary by packing the Supreme Court with allies” (Human Rights Watch).
- The passage of laws which impose “onerous new restrictions on the media” (Human Rights Watch)
- “Weakening of the checks and balances of executive authority“, in the case of Mr. Chavez by the handy expedient of abolishing the Senate, thus “creating a unicameral National Assembly with limited oversight of the president’s decision-making” (Foreign Affairs)
- Subversion of constitutional term limits – Mr. Chavez plans to remain in office for the next 25 years.
- Befriending and supporting dictatorial madmen. Speaking of “freedom fighter” Robert Mugabe, whom he proudly calls “my friend“, Mr. Chavez makes clear his belief that “he has been demonised too much” (Today’s Independent).
Charles at Obsidian Wings has much, much more of the Chavez syllabus, in a post that’s well worth reading.
Sure enough, I looked up that post, The Hugo Chavez Slow-Motion Bolivarmunist Revolution, which is a must-read; here’s a sample:
While Chavez refers to himself as a Bolivarian, his movement is morphing from democratic socialism to a South American flavor of communism, inspired in part by the anti-American writings of Noam Chomsky. Call it Bolivarmunism. Chavez’s “new socialist revolution” looks much like Cuba 2.0, and we are subsidizing a good chunk of it. Anti-American tirades don’t hurt Chavez since he can play the nationalism and victim cards to his home audience, and he makes oil traders abroad nervous, thereby raising oil prices and further enriching the Chavez regime. It’s a win-win situation for the increasingly dictatorial president.
Also via Obsidian Wings and the Daily Ablution, (pdf file) Hugo Boss: How Chavez is refashioning dictatorship for a democratic age. The article is a must-read for students of Latin American politics. I can not stress enough that this is a must-read, as it explains how competitive authoritarianism is being marketed.
The marketing of competitive authoritarianism involves eliminating the contradiction between autocracy and political competitiveness. Hugo’s writing the book, so to speak, through these methods, in addition to those listed by Obsidian Wings and the Daily Ablution:
Polarize, not ban, the opposition Attack political parties Polarize society Spread the wealth selectively, and exploit conflict Allow the bureaucracy to decay, almost, with one exception: the offices that count votes. Antagonize the superpower: “Trashing the superpower serves the same purpose as antagonizing the domestic opposition: It helps to unite and distract his large coalition — with one added advantage. It endears him to the international left.” [link added]
Like Castro, “He plays the anti-imperialist card because he has nothing else in his hand”.
The marketing techniques are proving extraordinarily effective. Let’s look at Hugo’s grand tour:
After a stop in Algeria, Hugo’s in Libya today, while at home a Chavez adviser threatens to sell old F-16s to Iran
However, Defense Minister Adm. Orlando Maniglia later said a sale of the jets wasn’t in the works and Chavez “has not given any order” as to what to do with them, AP reported.
The jets, BTW, were sold to Venezuela in 1982, and I wonder if their technology has been updated. If not, the average passenger plane is more advanced than those F-16s. Nonetheless, it’s a move that certainly antagonizes the superpower.
Additionally, it’s not simply a matter of antagonizing, but also of undermining:
Last February I posted that Iran and Venezuela joined forces to undermine the U.S. dollar. That plan is moving right along, as Venezuela has hinted it could price its oil exports in euros rather than US dollars, further weakening its links to the US
Earlier this month, Iranian authorities gave backing for the launch of an oil exchange that traded solely in euros.
Some reports have suggested Iran’s move may be part of a bid to undermine the importance of the dollar.
. . .
Experts have suggested that, should Iran demand payment for its exports in euros, central banks could opt to convert some of their dollar reserves to euros and therefore possibly trigger a further decline in the US currency.
Yesterday the WSJ had two articles that caught my attention: the first, How to Stop Iran (Without Firing a Shot): Current diplomacy isn’t working. Here’s Plan B. The article proposes four courses of action:
Take the diplomatic offensive. “Western countries must push the internal conflicts inside the Iranian government,” Target the regime’s financial interests, which are dominated by the ayatollah-oligarchs Support an independent labor movement. Threaten Iran’s gasoline supply:
Because Iran lacks refining capacity, it must import 40% of its gasoline. Of that amount, fully 60% is handled by a single company, Rotterdam-based Vitol, which has strategic storage and blending facilities in the UAE. The regime also spends $3 billion a year to subsidize below-market gas prices
A similar approach could be used towards Hugo’s regime.
The other article, How Gadhafi Lost His Groove: The complex surrender of Libya’s WMD, explains how Gadhafi, who’s hosting Hugo today, was developing nuclear capability: through A.Q. Khan, who in turn was supplied by China (emphasis added):
During its second trip in December, the team was taken to sites that U.S. intelligence had not previously spotted and was permitted to photograph and take notes on the astonishing blueprints that few weapons designers had ever seen outside declared nuclear states. The drawings were of a relatively old, crude, but workable design that Pakistan got from China in the early 1960s. The blueprint copies that Khan had provided, as a “sweetener,” no less, with their Chinese scribbling still in the margins, had been kept in their original wrappings–a plastic bag from a Pakistani tailor’s shop–another bonanza for Western intelligence.
As I said last month, there are major players out there.
Competitive authoritarianism isn’t the only thing being imported.
Academic Elephant ponders Cuba.
Update The Baron explains how the MSM’s playing along Hugo’s move to antagonize the superpower.