Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez Heads Down The Wrong Leftist Path
Some major Communist systems such as China and Vietnam long ago recognized that constructive relations and trade with all nations including the United States is both vital and realistic. This has resulted in major U.S. trade, friendly relations and has proven some benefits to both the U.S. and China and Vietnam. But the populist leftist president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez is following the failed lead of Cuba's dictator Fidel Castro to political isolation with the U.S. and economic disaster.
In the late 1950's, Fidel Castro became the darling of some of the American left who expected him to become an populist land reformer, but instead Castro became a nuclear threat menace and a tyrant who oppresses any political opponents. Instead of being a leftist with constructive relations with the U.S., Castro isolated himself from American trade and travel, and instead of developing Cuba into a wealthy vacation land for American tourists has made Cuba a poor nation that suffers from economic isolation by failing to cooperate with America enough to develop the Cuban economy. Hugo Chavez is following the same path to disaster in Venezuela.
Chavez has managed to become a near clone of Fidel Castro recently. A new law imprisons anyone who is critical of the government and places the newsmeda under tight censorship rules. Chavez is threatening to cut off oil sales to the U.S., and is using the massive oil income of Venezuela to buy Russian arms such combat jets and is building up a reserve military force of as many as 2 million reserve fighters. The uniforms of the army now resemble the uniforms of the Cuban military. And Chavez has closely aligned himself with failed leftist leaders of South and Central America, including Daniel Ortega, the former President of Nicaragua, and ex -guerilla leader, Shafick Handel.
All of this is an alarming trend. Will Venezuela cut off oil exports to the U.S. and become a new arena for conflict with Washington? Could Venezuela acquire nuclear arms and become a military threat to the U.S. ? Could Venezuela attempt to export "revolution" to other Latin American states and any democratic elections become a thing of the past in these South American states that have slowly moved towards free elections.
Instead of building some sort of socialist system with capitalist economic ambitions such as China or Vietnam, Hugo Chavez is heading his nation on a bad course that could entail some sort of conflict with the U.S. over oil or involving military use. If Reagan was President now, the U.S. would already be at war with Venezuela. This is absolutely unproductive. And equally unhelpful is some suggestions like that of Rev. Pat Robertson who today suggested that the U.S. get rid of Chavez by assassination or other means. This absolutely the wrong direction to take.
The best way to lower the conflict with Venezuela is for Bush to invite Hugo Chavez to the White House, express interests of peace with this nation and to draw Chavez closer to America. The wrong thing to do is to further aggravate the situation, and to futher isolate Venezuela from the U.S. and create a possible series of foreign policy interest conflicts with this oil rich state in South America.