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Blaming earthquakes on capitalism, and the political troubles in Venezuela

By Christopher Skeet | Chicago Flame

Published: Monday, October 17, 2005 | Last month, Venezuela's emerging dictator Hugo Chavez told Ted Koppel with a straight face that the U.S. plans to invade his country. Chavez had no documents, no witnesses, and no evidence to support his claim, and deft listeners could faintly hear the bellowing laughter emanating from the halls of the Pentagon. If there is a more insignificant dot in the scope of U.S. military adventurism than Venezuela, it's the island on which Tom Hanks fell in love with a volleyball in "Castaway."

Chavez's face has not yet made its way onto the shirts of rich American college kids, but its not for lack of effort on his part. He's worked relentlessly to mold himself a champion of the poor, an enemy of imperialism, and a friend of the environment. So successful has his media campaign been in the eyes of his indigenous lackeys and his foreign apologists that only one nagging little triviality remains between him and his goal of world liberator: his track record.

To be fair, Chavez was democratically elected in 1998, but a year later muscled through parliament a new constitution, which dissolved the senate and extended his office term. As of late, his government has illegally seized and redistributed private property, censored medias which criticize his policies, and raised private militias to intimidate opposition. The anti-war Chavez didn't find any contradiction in the military ships, planes, helicopters, and 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles he's purchased.

Chavez's "revolution" has done virtually nothing to improve the lives of ordinary Venezuelans. Unemployment stands at 17 percent (we freak when ours approaches 6 percent) and over 47 percent of Venezuelans live below the poverty line. Chavez is learning, like Gerard Schroeder just did, that bashing the U.S. wins votes for only so long. People's need to eat tends to take priority over any dislike of the Yankee. Recent Venezuelan polls show Chavez's popularity plummeting over 10 percent and, for the first time since his election, below the 50 percent margin. The main reason cited was his administration's drive towards a Cuban-style socialist model.

And despite Chavez's continuous arming of Greenpeace protesters with witty posterboard one-liners, his actual behavior begs clarification. He's done nothing to slow his nation's deforestation, soil degradation, coastal pollution, or irresponsible mining operations. The target celebrity of environmentalists, Big Bad Oil, accounts for over 80 percent of Venezuela's GDP and over half the government's revenue. Chavez cares deeply about Mother Earth, but he wants to use our economy to prove it.

Chavez's hostility towards the U.S. stems from our support, or lack of condemnation, for the 2002 coup which briefly dethroned him. And who knows more about coups than Chavez? He led the failed 1992 military coup against the then-democratic Venezuelan government. He realized in prison the same lesson Hitler learned in prison: first get elected and then take over. Chavez's recent public appearances have been in military uniform and have advocated defense of the "Fatherland." Anyone see a pattern?

The beauty of socialist governments is they cannibalize themselves with little or no outside intervention. The downside is they lash out during their freefall. All Americans have to bear are Chavez's cheap insults intended to climax his foreign support base of unelected ayatollahs and hereditary Dear Leaders. But it's Venezuela's citizens and neighbors who will truly suffer. Chavez is already financing anti-democracy drug cartels in Columbia and has laid territorial claim to nearly half of Guyana.

Chavez's latest tirade was to blame the recent earthquake in Pakistan on the "world global capitalist model." I'm not kidding, go look it up! He actually blames capitalism for earthquakes! The 20,000 deaths around Islamabad last week were not the result of plate tectonics, migrating lithosphere, or any known laws of geology. They were all murdered by Adam Smith.

Sigh. Desperation is a pitiful phenomenon to witness, especially when it blares like direct sunlight through binoculars. If the U.S. government wants this ill-intentioned opportunist to disappear, the best thing to do is nothing. The Chavez problem will take care of itself. Much like the seismic reading of an earthquake, history will record him as a quick jolt that devastated a country but did little else besides moving it a few inches in the wrong direction.

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