A crash course in Venezuelan history
August 24, 2005 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Hugo Chávez is crazy! Hugo Chávez is certainly making a lot of news these days. No doubt we'll find the truth somewhere between "evil dictator" and "third world savior," but the long, dark history of U.S. involvement in Latin America casts suspicion on everything. Chávez is gaining a heroic light in the third world for "standing up to" the United States. He's making friends with Cuba, China and Iran. Is Chávez heading up a new rogues' gallery ... or gearing up for the resource wars?
Previous MetaFilter coverage: [1,2,3,4]
posted by jefgodesky (62 comments total)
Throughout the Cold War, the United States labeled nationalist leaders in Latin America as "communists," even when their ideology had nothing in common with communism. The reasoning went along the lines of, "The world is divided between the U.S. and Communism. Therefore, any leader who puts his own country's interests ahead of ours is Communist, because they are undermining Communism's primary enemy and thus, aiding global Communism." Tenuous logic at best, and mostly used to justify the expansion of U.S. power.

So, does this relate to Chávez or not? The frequent charges of Communism seem both familiar and misplaced to me. I haven't made up my mind about him, so I turn to Jeff Vail, who's always good for putting things like this in their proper perspective. He wrote a very good piece on 1 July 2005, also linked above, titled, "A New Era: Resource Wars & Economic Colonialism," where he wrote:
Both Venezuela and Iran are interesting examples of the weakness of “American-Style” democracy, and the potential for regional democratic-autocratic blends to do a better job functioning in the interest of the people: Chavez is an excellent example of the enlightened dictator (although he is also a relatively-fairly-elected leader, just like Bush). Because their democracy doesn’t work the way Bush & Co. would like to see it work, Chavez actually has the power to do what is in the best interest of the common man (and he is doing a very good job at that), not what is in the best interest of the controlling elite that has traditionally ruled South America with the indigenous and poor masses under their heel.
Jeff and I are both more concerned with the global implications of Chávez's gambit, particularly as the global Hubbert Peak looms. In a more recent article on the Robertson fiasco, Vail comments:
What scares me is that Robertson is the apparent vanguard of the Neocon's venezuela trial balloon. He has correctly identified that--from the perspective of America's neocon elite--Chavez and his oil reserves are a grave threat. The interesting part of the show will be convincing the rest of the sheep to put themselves in that camp--a camp that is a rational (if amoral in my opinion) choice for elites, but an irrational choice for the commoner. Act II: News reports will say that Chavez supports the communist, drug-running FARC in Colombia, constituting a "clear and present danger" to the national security of the United States. Get ready...
So, will there be war with Venezuela? I don't know. Similar actions, like that against Noriega in Panama under the current president's father, certainly provide a pattern for a quick, easy, in-and-out campaign to install a different strong-man who is less concerned with Venezuela's interests, and more concerned with, how do I say ... ours. Chávez is also showing a daring bit of saavy that may make him an unavoidable target. He's standing up to us, and he's even being somewhat smart about it. Chávez has nothing in common with the Islamic Revolution, and he's not a Communist by any stretch of the imagination, yet he seems to be assembling a "Who's Who" of America's enemies on his side. My guess would be he's operating on the principle of, "My enemy's enemy is my friend." And that is not something the U.S. should take lightly....

Then again, they said we'd be invading Iran by now, too, so maybe the Bush administration has what it wants and won't practice war no more. Or maybe pigs will fly?

So, what do you say? Chávez is emerging on the world stage, could we take a thread here to talk about him and the situation in Venezuela sensibly, beyond the usual echo chamber and talking points, to try to drive towards a grip on the actual background of all the news stories we'll be hearing from that part of the world in the next few years?
posted by jefgodesky at 8:26 AM on August 24, 2005

Very interesting post!
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:32 AM on August 24, 2005

"Hugo" is a funny name.
posted by jonmc at 8:39 AM on August 24, 2005

I have got to admire Chavez's ability to turn the other cheek on this whole Robertson crazyness. Not only has he dismissed Robertson as some guy he's never heard of (letting his VP be outraged in his stead), he's offered cheap gas to America's poor.
posted by ilsa at 8:44 AM on August 24, 2005

I'm sure our corrupt administration will think of some thinly-disguised way to have him killed. After all, it wouldn't be unprecedented.
posted by wakko at 8:45 AM on August 24, 2005

I don't really get the Right's objection to Chavez, except that he taunts the US the same way ParisParamus and dios taunt us lefties here. It seems that his communist talk scares them, but why? Communism is dead. (China is communist in name only and is well on its way to being a powerful capitalistic state, although democracy may take a bit longer). His threat to cut-off US oil supplies ring hollow, as they would just be made up from other sources, at least in the current well stocked market. He has threatened to make some trouble in the continent, but really hasn't done so yet. So why does he have the neocons so riled?

[by the way, great post]
posted by caddis at 8:52 AM on August 24, 2005

It occured to me, after the Robertson/Chavez thread had died out, that Robertson had made a stunning error in logic. He said we should whack Chavez out in order to prevent a war. But these articles underscore the point that killing Chavez is the surest way to start a war.

So Robertson is twice as batshit as I thought.
posted by Clay201 at 8:54 AM on August 24, 2005

why does he have the neocons so riled?




It really is that simple.
posted by wakko at 8:58 AM on August 24, 2005

I don't really get the Right's objection to Chavez, except that he taunts the US...

I think the U.S. would be very wise to take Chavez seriously, caddis. The oil reserves in Venezuela are significant, to say the least. Chavez appears to be immensely popular in Venezuela, with everyone except the ruling class. And apparently, his ideas are spreading throughout Latin America.

Thr U.S. way of life is heavily subsidized by the third world. We ensure those subsidies largely through the institution of autocratic regimes that look to our interests before those of their own country. We can afford the loss of a country here or there--though perhaps not one as oil-rich as Venezuela--but even more alarming is the idea that this "Bolivarian Revolution" catches on, and you get a whole slew of third world leaders who are actually thinking of their own country first.

I'm not sure the American way of life is possible at fair market prices....
posted by jefgodesky at 8:59 AM on August 24, 2005

Wow, a leader attempting to do right by his citizens. What a novel concept!

The thing is, if there were something to be done, the U.S. would have done it long ago. If someone in the CIA were boneheaded enough to authorize a "neutralization," well, it'd pretty much fuck everything up, wouldn't it? The time to effect "regime change" was back in 2002, not now. (And this administration's disturbing habit of letting proxies do the dirty work for them -- Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, "extraordinary rendition" -- continues to bite them in the ass.)

But you know? With all this babble about "peak oil" and how we're all doomed and such...if Bush were just brutally honest and said, "We have to invade Venezuela and take over their oil, otherwise your lifestyle is doomed," don't you think most of America would go for it? Maybe all this talk about how the suburban lifestyle is doomed will merely become the rationale for allowing the most horrible of catastrophes just to keep the fucking thing chugging for another day or two.

Then again, I don't think China would like that very much. And unlike some punching-bag nations, they have nukes. Oh, and all our debt.
posted by solistrato at 9:04 AM on August 24, 2005

Chavez is the most charismatic leader in the western hemisphere, and he's shown that someone with a sincere interest in helping his people, someone who is not a pawn of the US government, can gain and hold onto power in South America. He is therefore a tremendous threat to our cynical and exploitative interests in the area. Like Allende. Like Trujillo. Like countless others. I agree with the above poster that our government will do everything they can to eliminate him..
posted by mert at 9:06 AM on August 24, 2005

[cheers underdog]
posted by NinjaPirate at 9:09 AM on August 24, 2005

Nice use of roll-over text.
posted by klangklangston at 9:19 AM on August 24, 2005

So Chavez looking out for his country good; Bush looking out for his country (that requires vast amounts of oil and cheap foreign goods to function) is bad....
posted by zeoslap at 9:28 AM on August 24, 2005

Excellent post jefgodesky, thanks. I can see why Pat Robertson is scared.
posted by Floydd at 9:29 AM on August 24, 2005

Chavez has shown himself to be more than a bit of a heavy-handed asshole but he's also shown political survival skills that make Bill Clinton look like Gary Hart (which he sort of already...you get my point).

I think one of the things that the Right (and, let's face it, the US political establishment in general) dislike/trust about Chavez is the fact that he's pissed on the Venezuelans' "gentlemanly" puntofijismo--the system (1958-98) that arose in the wake of the Punto Fijo Accord whereby two entrenched political parties alternated power to the exclusion of any challengers, particularly from the left. (Sound familiar?)

His success, particularly as a populist, rebuts our dogma and blueprint on how to build a successful hemispheric democracy and undermines our credibility (if said credibility could be further undermined without touching the earth's core) as the Great White Civilizers of the world. In our corporate/corporatist political model, like any great car company, if anyone develops a successful engine that is not modeled on internal combustion, we will do our best, above- and below-board, to shut them down.

This oversimplifies but never underestimate the USG's rancor towards a competing, non-complementary vision of democracy.
posted by the sobsister at 9:40 AM on August 24, 2005 [1 favorite]

Gasoline is cheaper than mineral water in oil-producing Venezuela, where consumers can fill their tanks for less than $2.

Isn't gasoline also cheaper than mineral water in the US?
posted by duck at 9:42 AM on August 24, 2005

Ladies and gentlemen - this is what a political post should look like - balanced, link-rich and informed, without false "objectivity" or spurious claims of neutrality.
posted by By The Grace of God at 9:42 AM on August 24, 2005

I use the acronym OIL.

O for oil,

I for Israel,

L for the logistical base necessary or deemed necessary by the so-called neocons, the logistical base whereby the United States and Israel could dominate that area of the world.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 9:56 AM on August 24, 2005

Robertson backpedals...a bit:

"I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.' And 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP [Associated Press], but that happens all the time," Robertson said on "The 700 Club" program.

'Take him out' could also mean a light meal and dancing...
posted by NationalKato at 10:00 AM on August 24, 2005

O for oil

And so it is wakko.

Venezuela is home to the Western Hemisphere's largest conventional proven oil reserves, at 77.8 billion barrels, as of January 2004, according to the Oil and Gas Journal (substantial extra-heavy oil and bitumen deposits are not included in this total). Venezuela has four major sedimentary basins: Maracaibo; Falcon; Apure; and Oriental. The crude oil held in these fields has an average API gravity of less than 20 degrees, making Venezuela's conventional crude oil heavy by international standards. Due to the maturity of many of these basins and their declining productivity, PdVSA reportedly plans to spend $26 billion during the 2004-2009 timeframe to increase production at the country's existing oil wells, as well as to develop new non-conventional extra heavy crude oil and natural gas resources. Venezuela’s net oil exports were approximately 2.25 million bbl/d, of which 1.39 million bbl/d were shipped directly to the United States (Note: this does not count crude oil sent to the Caribbean, refined there, and then re-exported to the United States)

The US imports as much oil from Venezuela as from Saudi Arabia.
posted by three blind mice at 10:11 AM on August 24, 2005

Can we have Pat Robertson "taken out"?

By "taken out", I mean killed. I don't want to be misinterpreted by the Associated Press.
posted by wakko at 10:17 AM on August 24, 2005

I didn't read all of the linked articles, but the following is probably mentioned in there somewhere.

I read a little while back that Chavez has restructured the arrangement between the Venezuelan oil industry and US based oil companies. I'm not sure exactly what they're doing down there - pumping, refining, transporting, some combination of the above - but they are in Venezuela and they are getting a piece of the action, as it were. The new rules reduce the size of that piece.

Yes, it's all about oil. But we always forget that oil is also money. Bush isn't concerned about us having enough gasoline to run our SUVs. He's concerned about Exxon's profit margin shrinking.

When they call Chavez a commie, this is what they're talking about. "Communism" is a code word for "taking money away from Exxon."
posted by Clay201 at 10:20 AM on August 24, 2005

Just when I think I cannot possibly have less respect for Pat Robertson he inspires me to learn a whole new vocabulary for the numbers below zero.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:45 AM on August 24, 2005

The funny thing about Pat's retraction, he's only re-defining the "take him out" part, not the "if he thinks we are trying to assasinate him, I think we should do it". Still sounds like a call to murder in my book.
posted by nomisxid at 10:53 AM on August 24, 2005

"Communism" is a code word for "taking money away from Exxon."

That would be Marxist, Clay201. "Communist" is the code word for taking money away from Chevron.
posted by three blind mice at 11:15 AM on August 24, 2005

Will someone invite Robertson over here to the UK, so we can deny him entry?
Home Secretary Charles Clarke has published a list of grounds for deporting people who foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence.

[Including the] Creat[ion of] a list of foreign preachers who will be kept out of the UK and consult[ation] on creating new powers to close places of worship used to foment extremism.
I mean, it's a small thing to ask just so I can see the look on Robertson's pudgy, hate-filled face, isn't it?
posted by Blue Stone at 11:15 AM on August 24, 2005

By "do it," he meant make sweet love to Chavez. Because that's the only absolutely certain way to reassure him that we mean him no harm.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 11:16 AM on August 24, 2005

Clay201 writes "Exxon's profit margin shrinking"

Strangely, AFAIK petroleum vendors' profits increase as a percentage of the cost of petroleum. This is why the recent months have been highly profitable for the big companies.
posted by asok at 11:20 AM on August 24, 2005

I'm not sure the American way of life is possible at fair market prices....

Amazingly pithy. And exactly right. Unless "fair" is taken literally.
posted by realcountrymusic at 11:41 AM on August 24, 2005

zeoslap: "So Chavez looking out for his country good; Bush looking out for his country (that requires vast amounts of oil and cheap foreign goods to function) is bad...."

No, I don't think anyone is saying that Bush, or any US Government, is wrong for trying to look out for America; instead, the point is that a nation which requires vast amounts of foreign oil and cheap foreign goods just to function is living on borrowed time, dependent on a "cuttable" umbilical cord, and possibly dangerously unsustainable.

Our high standard of living is wonderful, but it is pretty much artificially supported by domination and exploitation of many smaller nations, to the detriment of their standard of living. Add that we often seem arrogant about it, and have shown we will aggressively and violently attempt to protect our lifestyle, and it's easy to imagine how many other nations would desire to be a thorn in our side and exact some payback. Chavez seems to be one leader who will stand up to that and try to wrest a fairer share for his nation from a lopsided economic system.

If he is successful in standing up to us, it will demonstrate the "paper tiger" factor; if we attack Venezuela, it will prove finally to the world that the US will indeed invade a country just to make sure the oil keeps flowing and our standard of living remains high. He could have the effect of forcing our hand - he's playing a very risky game.

However, the people of Venezuela probably don't have all that much to lose in terms of standard of living if we attack and install a US-friendly government, and much to gain if he is successful.

We should pay close attention to this as it develops, eh?
posted by zoogleplex at 11:58 AM on August 24, 2005

I wonder if Robertson has ever said something he didn't have to release a statement later to "explain".

Oh yeah, I really didn't mean we should blame the ALCU for the twin towers getting destroyed. It was the AP that made that up.

Does he and Cheney use the same PR firm?
posted by Talanvor at 12:01 PM on August 24, 2005

zoogleplex writes 'it will prove finally to the world that the US will indeed invade a country just to make sure the oil keeps flowing and our standard of living remains high.'

This needs further proving?
posted by signal at 12:35 PM on August 24, 2005

^^ Yes. Because people in this country still don't get that fact.
posted by daq at 12:44 PM on August 24, 2005

"I said our special forces could take him out. Take him out could be a number of things including kidnapping."

Wow. Doublepluswow. That's his version of "backing off"? Does that come with or without a beating?
posted by mkultra at 12:51 PM on August 24, 2005

^^ Yes. Because people in this country still don't get that fact

If the U.S. ever decides to go ahead and pillage Venezuela, you think they won't make up some excuse, and that the small, small percentage of the US public that gives a rat's ass won't buy it wholesale? Have 229 years of history taught us nothing?
Chavez is way, way left of most of my economic ideas, but more power to him for standing up to the playground bully.
Plus, any accusations of Chavez being "un-democratic" coming from the Bush administration ring more than a little bit hollow, as Chavez's elections have been much, much more legitimate than either of Bush's.
posted by signal at 12:53 PM on August 24, 2005

Resource Wars.
posted by stbalbach at 1:01 PM on August 24, 2005

Only about half listening last night, I thought I heard someone say on one of the cable news shows that Chavez made a public sexual slur involving Condi.

Uhhh, anyone know anything about that?
posted by wrapper at 1:02 PM on August 24, 2005

Chavez said Condoleeza "keeps demonstrating complete illiteracy." That's the only comment I've heard him make about Condi, and it did cause quite a stir...

Much more has been made of how he called Bush a "pendejo," often mis-translated as "jerk." The literal meaning is "pubic hair," but, according to Wikipedia:
Pendejo is a vulgar term of abuse. To call a person a pendejo is essentially to call him stupid, although it also carries implications of willful stubbornness and rank ineptitude. ... The insult is particularly prevalent in the Spanish spoken in North and Central America, where it is considered moderately to highly offensive. In terms of equivalent cultural impact, it ranges somewhere at the level of the British English "wanker" or the U.S. English "asshole". The term is also used in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, where it also means "immature" (again, in a derogatory sense).
posted by jefgodesky at 1:15 PM on August 24, 2005

A few minutes of Googling turn up these criticisms of Chavez:

The local catholic archbishop accuses him of suppressing free speech and dissent through arrest and violence and in general seeking dictatorial powers.

Articles in Front Page Magazine and The Weekly Standard make similar assertions as well as assertions of anti-Semitism and land grabbing. Each source discounts his claims to be helping the poor.

Opposing viewpoint: the man who will smash the economic and social apartheid that has kept the dark-skinned millions stacked in cardboard houses in the hills above Caracas while the whites live in high-rise splendor in the city center. Wishful thinking or potential reality?
posted by caddis at 1:22 PM on August 24, 2005

I'd think Pat would know that the kidnapping route already failed in the 2002 coup...

Hmm, I feel hardly any sympathy for Chávez. Politicians who glorify the military and wrap themselves in the flag, any flag, always make me feel rather queasy. Carlos Fuentes, linked to in the FPP, already explained why in another article (unfortunately not yet translated into English, or so it seems). It was a rather premonitory article in that he cited in the same sentence Chávez and Robertson as two opposed "poles of intolerance). Not that I completely agree with Fuentes, though. He also calls Venezuelan magnate and Chávez enemy Gustavo Cisneros "a man of good", despite his deep involvement in a number of dubious business transactions all across the Spanish-speaking world.

BTW, Cisneros owns Univisión. Do you know of any business connection between Univisión and Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network? It wouldn't be the first time Robertson let himself be influenced by a business associate, after all...
posted by Skeptic at 1:23 PM on August 24, 2005

That last link should be in quotes.
posted by caddis at 1:23 PM on August 24, 2005

Hmmm, wait, I did find this, though it's about as "fair and balanced" as "a spin in the no-fact zone"--and it never actually quotes what it is we're supposed to be all out-raged about. So I don't know if it's a different comment or completely made up.

It might've happened, I'd believe it. He's a populist, and I've never heard of him having a reputation for politeness. If anything, what I've heard from him has always had a blunt, unsophisticated edge to it. I'm impressed by what a passionate speaker he is--but not by his sense of decorum.

Then again ... I don't care much about decorum....
posted by jefgodesky at 1:27 PM on August 24, 2005

Thanks for all the highly informative links. I'd heard things about Chavez here and there, but never really enough to get a good picture of what he's doing. Something tells me between Venezeula's reserves, the South American Community of Nations and the cultural advancement that's going on South America is in a good position to kick North America's ass (hopefully figuratively) in a few years.
posted by nTeleKy at 1:29 PM on August 24, 2005

"Goddamn AP, all quotin' what I said again. Don't they know that makes me look like a belligerent asshole? Somebody oughta take them out... to lunch."
posted by klangklangston at 1:37 PM on August 24, 2005

signal: "zoogleplex writes 'it will prove finally to the world that the US will indeed invade a country just to make sure the oil keeps flowing and our standard of living remains high.'

This needs further proving?"

Well, in context of the Iraq war, we had the offered reasons (since proven false) of Saddam's WMDs and "Iraqi Freedom" to put "reasonable doubt" in the minds of many as to whether we only invaded to protect the oil supply. Many people still believe those reasons (and others), including some of our own MeFites.

I haven't heard any such potential invasion motivators offered about Venezuela. Chavez may talk big, but he's not invading his neighbors, he's not developing WMDs, he's apparently not oppressing his people to anywhere near the same degree as Saddam was, and he's not directly threatening any US interests - except the oil. I don't think calling President Bush a "pendejo" is going to be accepted as a legitimate basis for an invasion or even some kind of covert coup operation.

So, the only possible reason to attack Venezuela or to foment "regime change" in some other fashion is to guarantee control of Venezuela's oil supply.

That would be the final nail - no other reason to hang it on, thus becoming a "final proof" as I suggest.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:47 PM on August 24, 2005

A lot of what gets filtered to us about Chavez is from a Venezuelan media that is owned by monied interests who are furious about his "radical communist" policies, such as raising the minimum wage 20%.

During the failed coup attempt, the media was instrumental in spreading lies and giving airtime to the coup plotters in an effort to manufacture the appearance that Chavez was a despot and his supporters were a crazed mob.

See here, here , here and here.
posted by mert at 1:48 PM on August 24, 2005

By 'do it,' he meant make sweet love to Chavez.

Missionary position, innit?

I don't think calling President Bush a "pendejo" is going to be accepted as a legitimate basis for an invasion or even some kind of covert coup operation.

If the English can go to war with Spain over a guy's ear getting cut off, we can go to war over this outrageous insult to our prezdint.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:12 PM on August 24, 2005

Robertson has a long history of Latin American "problems". Here's an old article. Executive summary:

Robertson's controversial activities include: support for the slaughter of thousands of Indians by a Guatemalan dictator; public praise for the reputed leader of Salvadoran death squads; collaboration with murky U.S. mercenary groups; and the provision of chaplains and funds to the contra army seeking to topple the government of Nicaragua.

And that's only the 1980s section of his resume...
posted by gimonca at 2:20 PM on August 24, 2005

The documentary Chavez: Inside the Coup is really good. Find a torrent for it. Worth the wait.
posted by j-urb at 2:27 PM on August 24, 2005

I particularly like the million dollars to Al Qaeda bit. It'll be fun to watch if that one flies.

I the meantime, a few links concerning local politics in Caracas.

Just to liven the debate a little....
posted by IndigoJones at 3:11 PM on August 24, 2005

I was in Venezuela during the strike. It's a wonderful country, and the people love Americans. When I was there I didn't understand the political situation much, I'm not sure if I completely understand now.

Increasingly I find myself admiring Chavez, if for no other reason then his charismatic approach to policy. He's willing to flaunt his will, and I don't think for purely evil reasons either, Robertson's aside. I enjoyed Venezuela's lack of reservedness, it's abundance of spirit- a spirit that Chavez's political style is drawn from.

The political dynamics in Venezuela are more balanced then you would ever imagine, given the news coverage here, and the voices of the far Left. Point is, winning the vot with 56% is not a landslide, it was a comfortable victory for Chavez. And as far as the Right is concerned, vote him out next time, he can't screw up the country that badly, not with all those oil revenues (Something that cannot be said of GWbush).
posted by kuatto at 3:35 PM on August 24, 2005

Okay, I've got Hugo in a gunnysack in the trunk of my car, what now?

Only slightly more seriously: kidnapping?! Can you even imagine? What the hell would we do with him, send him to Gitmo in an orange jumpsuit? Keep him in Cheney's undisclosed location (which, I've discovered, is actually the snack bar at the Putt-Putt mini golf course located at 785 College Drive in Casper, Wyoming - visit at your own peril)? Use him as a human lectern for the 700 Club?
posted by joe lisboa at 3:54 PM on August 24, 2005

[This is good]
posted by cleardawn at 4:04 PM on August 24, 2005

Chavez has already been kidnapped once, in the attempted coup of 2002--a most unfortunate rhyme.
posted by jefgodesky at 4:06 PM on August 24, 2005

Hugo is the man. I am still astonished how little fallout there was for America (though I shouldn't be -- there never is any, any more) after they nudge-winked their way through that coup attempt jefgodesky mentions.

Good post, thanks.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:41 PM on August 24, 2005

The more I read about Chavez, the more respect I have for him. I also find it funny that a bloke who was elected with the biggest percentage of the vote in four decades is consistently slandered as a dictator.

What's more interesting is that for all the talk in the West about bringing Western democracy to the Middle East, in order to "save" the masses from poverty/repression, South America is more and more going its own, very successful, way, with a non-Western prescribed formula. Interesting times and proof that Fukuyama couldn;t have been any more wrong than if he tried.

[Oh, and this is a great post]
posted by Hartster at 2:11 AM on August 25, 2005

kidnapping?! Can you even imagine? What the hell would we do with him

Uh, ransom Venezuela for oil, DUH.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 9:58 AM on August 25, 2005

Still reading..picked this one out so far

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the government can't control what Americans say.

Robertson ``is a private citizen,' Rumsfeld said at a news conference in Washington. ``Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time.'

Xcept when their talking is about sexual or excretory functions..if so they'll throw you out traditional radio by
fining you into silence.
posted by elpapacito at 10:04 AM on August 25, 2005

So basically Venezuala decided to go open source, and Microsoft is pissed? Kidding aside, excellent post (mouseovers much appreciated).
posted by blendor at 10:48 AM on August 25, 2005

Robertson ... is a private citizen.

Wrong. (but then, when is Rummy correct?)

Robertson is a very public citizen.
Active media person.
Active religious "leadership" person.
Active political person.
Active big business person.

He has too large a megaphone to be private.
posted by nofundy at 10:53 AM on August 25, 2005

other religious folks are speaking up, thankfully --...No Christian should ever call for the assassination of a human being no matter what their stance. Rev. Roberts has turned the Christian Broadcasting Network into the Criminal Broadcasting Network. And the popular saying that appears on wristbands distributed by CBN, "WWJD" - that is "What Would Jesus Do" should now be "WWJA": "Who Would Jesus Assasinate." By his comments, Rev. Robertson is showing that the Christian right is neither Christian nor right and we're asking that he apologize now."

Rev. Yearwood is convening a coalition of clergy and laity concerned about the Christian Broadcasting Network and Robertson in particular, promoting of a political agenda propelled by fear not faith, under the guise of Christian ministry. At the vigil/press conference, religious leaders and members of the faith community will publically denounce the advocacy of murder and terrorism by one of the religious right-wing's most well-known and powerful leaders. ...

posted by amberglow at 6:18 PM on August 26, 2005

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