Wednesday, January 10, 2007

We've Been Down This Road Before

Emboldened by his landslide re-election win, the typically combative anti-U.S. leader has gone on the attack, deciding to strip a private opposition TV channel of its license and take over some major companies owned by foreign investors.

"Fatherland, socialism or death -- I take the oath," Chavez said.

The man who calls Cuban President Fidel Castro his mentor changed tradition by draping the presidential sash from his left shoulder instead of his right in what he says is a symbol of his socialist credentials.

Legislators at the ceremony in Congress chanted "Long live socialism."

Investors took fright this week at the leftist drive that further consolidates power in the hands of a former coup leader who already controls Congress, the courts and says he has total support in the army and the giant state oil company.
(T)Hugo Chavez is trying his best to do an impression of Castro and other dictators who have either corrupted democratic governments by imposing changes that eliminate the democratic nature of the government or usurped power from democratic governments. In this instance, he's calling for the repeal of term limits on the Presidency, which would give him the opportunity to be President for life. Combine this with his push to eliminate any potential political rivals from within his own political circle and you've got a cult of Chavez emerging that puts him one step closer to being a dictator.

Chavez is also working hard to turn Venezuela's economy into a Cuban basketcase. In other words, Chavez thinks that the Cuban economic model is worthy of being repeated. We've all seen what wonders that has done for the Cuban people, and the move to nationalize various industries is not only sending foreign investors running from the country, but will cause the Venezuelan standard of living to drop. Fausta also comments on Chavez's attempts to resurrect the failed communist economic model. The Washington Post editorializes that those threatened most by Chavez's policies aren't going to be the Americans, but the millions of Venezuelans who will suffer from his economic policies.
Some will see in Mr. Chavez's actions a threat to U.S. interests. Certainly, those who caution that it is unwise to count on Venezuela to continue supplying up to 15 percent of U.S. oil imports have a point. If assets of U.S. companies are seized without fair compensation, Venezuela should be subject to penalties. But the main threat posed by Mr. Chavez is to Venezuela's 26 million people. If he follows through on his threats, they can look forward to steadily diminishing freedom and -- if the history of socialism is any guide -- national impoverishment.
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