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Posts Tagged ‘totalitarianism’

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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Twenty years after Tiananmen

Posted by Richard on June 4, 2009

Stopping the tanks in Tiananmen SquareToday is the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. I didn't expect much, if any, acknowledgment from the U.S. government, which has recently displayed about zero interest in China's abysmal human rights record.

Hillary Clinton didn't bring it up when she went begging the Chinese to finance our exploding deficit. And Nancy Pelosi, who was expelled from China in 1991 for protesting Tiananmen (the only act of hers I can think of that elicits a "bravo!" from me), on her recent visit, was too busy schmoozing and blathering about "environmental rights" to mention human rights.

So I was pleasantly surprised by this

The Obama administration issued a rare public critique Wednesday of China, pressing Beijing to reveal how many protesters were killed in the government crackdown on the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989 and to free any of those still imprisoned for their parts in the protests.

One day before the 20th anniversary of the crackdown, the comments were a shift for the Obama administration, which has until now hesitated to question Beijing's human rights record. In February, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that human rights issues shouldn't be allowed to "interfere with" other key matters between the two countries, such as climate change and the global financial crisis.

Mrs. Clinton pressed China to "examine openly the darker events of its past" by providing a "public accounting of those killed, detained or missing" and freeing "all those still serving sentences in connection" with the protests.

The substance of the remarks echoed demands that U.S. officials have been making — in almost the same words — for years. In 2006, a State Department spokesman under George W. Bush urged China "to provide a full accounting of the thousands who were killed, detained or went missing and of the government's role in the massacre."

Personally, I'd prefer language like "the atrocities of its past" and "those murdered," along with a demand that the Chinese government end the repression and human rights abuses that continue to this day. But it's more than I expected.

Chinese netizens, meanwhile, are protesting the crackdown and censorship surrounding the occasion in a clever and subtle way:

Twenty years after the pro-democracy protests that claimed the lives of hundreds – or even thousands – of unarmed civilians in Beijing, a number of websites appear to be making a veiled protest at state censorship by referring to the date sarcastically as "Chinese Internet Maintenance Day".

Earlier this week the government blocked access to a number of popular western websites, in what was widely seen as way of controlling access to information about the events at Tiananmen Square. Among the sites that were screened out were photo-sharing website Flickr, Microsoft's Hotmail email service and the popular online messaging site Twitter.

A number of other sites appear to have gone down over recent days, however, in a move that may be part of an ad hoc anniversary protest online.

It is not clear whether any of the sites took down their services as a result of government pressure: most have had previous trouble with the authorities in Beijing, and reports suggest that many sites were told that they would face serious consequences if they published anything relating to the events of 4 June 1989.

But it was also suggested that the phrasing used by some of the websites indicates a subtle attack on the government.

While deliberate government action cannot be ruled out, more than 300 Chinese sites appear to have posted increasingly blasé maintenance messages on the anniversary.

"The Fanfou server is undergoing technical maintenance. Service is expected to resume before dawn on 6 June," said one message. On dictionary website, its owners said they had taken the site down for Chinese Internet Maintenance Day.

Blog hosting service, meanwhile, says it has gone "on strike" for the day, and carried a message saying: "I, too, am under maintenance!"

Here's to Chinese Internet Maintenance Day and the brave geeks commemorating it. 

UPDATE: They were allowed to remember in Hong Kong, and they did so in great numbers (emphasis in original): 

A vigil marking 20 years since the Tiananmen massacre has been held in Hong Kong, the only part of China to commemorate the event.

An estimated 150,000 people gathered in Victoria Park for the annual event, which was addressed by one of the 1989 student leaders, Xiong Yan.

Other Tiananmen veterans were banned from entering the territory.

When the UK returned Hong Kong to China in 1997, the territory retained its own legal system, including the right to protest.

Thursday's gathering saw the biggest turnout for a Tiananmen anniversary ever recorded in Hong Kong, the BBC's John Simpson reports.

If the Beijing government hoped that by clamping down on all commemoration in mainland China, they could make people forget what happened, they were very wrong, our correspondent says.

On the contrary, it has underlined the lack of political freedom that there still is in China.

RTWT and watch the moving one-minute video. Here's to the citizens of Hong Kong, courageously clinging to their heritage of liberty.



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A grim anniversary

Posted by Richard on January 1, 2009

I almost forgot that this January 1 is a grim anniversary. Investor's Business Daily remembered (emphasis added):

New Year's Day marks 50 years of communist rule in Cuba. The Castro oligarchy will trumpet its survival and celebrate. But the reality, up close, is that it's the longest-running failure in the New World.

Spare us the fireworks and media-parroted claims of Fidel Castro's dictatorship bringing universal health care and education to Cuba. The real story is that a prosperous Cuba was turned into ruins in just five decades.

Its inflation-adjusted gross domestic product is a mere 5% of what it was in 1958, the year before Castro took over, according to Jorge Salazar-Carillo of Florida International University.

"It's a major failure," Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a University of Pittsburgh economist, told IBD. "Cuba … now imports 84% of its food. Cuba produced 7 million tons of sugar in 1952. This year, it's 1.5 million tons. This is the result of economic policy of collectivization, killing of individual incentive, inefficiency, constant changes of policy."

As usual, the essential source for all things Cuban is Babalu Blog, so just hit that home page and keep scrolling — lots of analyses of how the mainstream media have been covering the story. 

But let me call your attention in particular to this post by Humberto: 

"Cuban mothers let me assure you that I will solve all Cuba's problems without spilling a drop of blood." Upon entering Havana on January 7, 1959, Cuba's new leader Fidel Castro broadcast that promise into a phalanx of microphones. As the jubilant crowd erupted with joy, Castro continued. “Cuban mothers let me assure you that because of me you will never have to cry."

The following day, just below San Juan Hill in eastern Cuba, a bulldozer rumbled to a start, clanked into position, and started pushing dirt into a huge pit with blood pooling at the bottom from the still-twitching bodies of more than a hundred men and boys who'd been machine-gunned without trial on the Castro brothers' orders. Their wives and mothers wept hysterically from a nearby road.

On that very day, the U.K. Observer ran the following headline: "Mr Castro's bearded, youthful figure has become a symbol of Latin America's rejection of brutality and lying. Every sign is that he will reject personal rule and violence."

A grim reminder of what these monsters — and their apologists — are really like. RTWT.

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Massacre anniversary

Posted by Richard on June 4, 2007

Today is the eighteenth anniversary of China's massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. I can't believe it's been that long ago. Gateway Pundit remembered, and has pictures and links.

If you're young and/or just don't remember the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, the revolution was, for a time, televised. Watch this short (1:12) YouTube video — it captures one of the bravest and most powerfully moving acts by a lone individual that you'll ever see. 


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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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