Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘chavez’

The Chavez crusade against golf

Posted by Richard on August 18, 2009

I almost missed the latest episode in Venezuela's long descent into night. The proclamations and edicts of Hugo Chavez seem to alternate between terrifying and absurd. This is one of the absurd ones:

As part of his determination to march Venezuela backward, Hugo Chavez has an opportunistic new target: Golf.

He says, using leftist terminology long out of fashion, that golf is a "bourgeois sport," even a "petit-bourgeois" sport. That's roughly middle class and lower-middle class, suggesting Chavez has no idea what those terms really mean.

According to The New York Times, he's moving to confiscate two of the country's best-known courses to build low-income housing or expand a university campus or create a children's park or something. An earlier attempt by Chavez allies to seize the Caracas Country Club was beaten back, but Venezuelan golf officials told the Times that under pressure from Chavez the country is going from 28 courses to 18.

Chavez seems to retain the old image of golf as the sport of plutocrats, a notion he would be thoroughly disabused of by playing a couple of rounds on the municipal courses of any medium-size U.S. city

Somewhere outside of Caracas, someone is saying, "They can have my nine iron when they pry it from my cold, dead hands."

Of course, although it may prompt a chuckle, in some sense even the crusade against golf is terrifying. With each such bit of thuggish nonsense, it becomes clearer that there is no aspect of life in Venezuela that this tinpot tyrant doesn't aim to control.

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The student who saved Venezuela

Posted by Richard on May 20, 2008

Belated congratulations to Yon Goicoechea. Last week, the Cato Institute awarded him the 2008 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. Goicoechea is a 23-year-old law student in Venezuela. About a year ago, Hugo Chavez shut down the most popular TV station in the country, Radio Caracas Television (RCTV). In response, Goicoechea organized a student movement to defend democracy and human rights that soon spread far beyond Venezuela's campuses. 

Despite death threats, intimidation by Chavez goons, and a beating that left him with a broken nose, Goicoechea organized scores of peaceful protests, many of which drew more than 100,000 participants. Many people credit Goicoechea with being personally responsible for the defeat of the December constitutional referendum that would have given Chavez dictatorial powers.

“Yon Goicoechea is making an extraordinary contribution to liberty,” said Edward Crane, President of the Cato Institute. “We hope the Friedman Prize will help further his non-violent advocacy for basic freedoms in an increasingly militaristic and anti-democratic Venezuela.”
 
Renowned Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa remarked, “Freedom and complacency are incompatible and this is what we are seeing now in countries like Venezuela where freedom is disappearing little by little, and this has produced a very healthy and idealistic reaction among young people. I think Yon Goicoechea is a symbol of this democratic reaction when freedom is threatened.”

The Friedman Prize is more than something to display on the mantle — it's $500,000. I hope Goicoechea had the money deposited in a U.S. (or other non-Venezuelan) bank account. Just in case Chavez carries his penchant for nationalization beyond foreign oil companies. 

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Venezuela’s descent into chaos

Posted by Richard on January 8, 2008

It should come as no surprise that Venezuela's economy under Hugo Chávez, admirer of Castro, Ortega, Gaddafi, Lukashenko, Ahmadinejad, and Mugabe, has been disintegrating despite soaring oil prices. But it's not just the economy that's in trouble.

When you replace a government of laws with a government of men, when you promote class warfare, when you declare that the needs of the poor entitle them to whatever wealth can be seized, when you use violent gangs of thugs to silence your opponents and achieve your political goals — then you can expect others to follow your lead. The social fabric disintegrates, and the country descends into lawlessness and chaos even as the grip of authoritarianism tightens.

According to Investor's Business Daily, it's safer these days to walk around in the streets of Baghdad than in Caracas, Venezuela:

With even Venezuelan officials admitting their country clocked 12,249 murders in 2007, Hugo Chavez's socialist "sea of happiness" resembles a war zone. In December alone, Venezuela had 670 murders while Iraq had 476 — and that number is falling fast.

This is Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, the place wildly praised by Hollywood eminentos like Oliver Stone and Sean Penn, and its crime is so bad it tops that seen in actual warfare.

… Venezuela is the kind of place where families around the dinner table discuss kidnapping and make pacts to not pay ransom for fear of bankrupting the family.

Meanwhile, night travel is strongly discouraged and no one wears jewelry openly. Security guards pack big firepower to guard tiny businesses like bakeries, and bulletproof cars are common.

It's not just that there are a lot of crimes. There's also a lot of getting away with it. The government, starting to feel heat from the locals over crime, particularly after El Mundo reported the figures, is on the defensive, saying it's busy solving the crimes.

But most violent crimes go unsolved because the Chavez government is more interested in pursuing "political" crimes — like persecuting dissident TV stations and opposition politicians — than hunting down the thugs who make Venezuela less safe than Iraq.

Gee, you think a U.S. troop surge would help? 

 

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Venezuela descends into darkness

Posted by Richard on May 27, 2007

Hugo Chavez has taken another big step toward turning Venezuela into a commie police state. He's shut down the most popular television station in the country (with a 40% market share), Radio Caracas Television, for being openly critical of his increasingly vicious and dictatorial regime. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have rallied in protest, but Chavez is sending tanks and troops against them.

Publius Pundit has lots of info, links, and pictures — including many pictures of lovely Venezuelan protest babes, in the Publius Pundit tradition, which would be a lot more enjoyable if the news were less grim. Warning: the page is slow to load due to the many pictures. But it's worth it. There's a roundup of editorial reaction around the world (with links), which noted that condemnation of Chavez spanned the political spectrum — even the ultra-lefty Le Monde condemned Chavez.

Gateway Pundit has later info, including pictures of government troops using water cannons and tear gas on the demonstrators.

Free RCTV has a chilling short film by journalists concerned about freedom of expression. It includes footage of Chavez that reveals him as a cross between Castro, Stalin, and the homeless raving lunatic you cross the street to avoid.

Visit Free RCTV (a project of the Human Rights Foundation) and send a protest letter to the Venezuelan embassy. You can edit the proposed content, and I suggest you do so. For instance, change "my concern" to "my outrage." Click the logo below.

Free RCTV: Say No to Censorship!

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