Pigs and Lipstick - this time I’m talking about Chavez Posted by: McQ
on Sunday, September 14, 2008
I know what you're thinking - aw, not that again. But I'm talking about a different pig with a load of lipstick.
That would be Hugo Chavez's "socialist paradise" in Venezuela.
Apparently the old boy is feeling froggy. Now that his new buddy Russia is going to engage in naval ops in the Caribbean with his pop-gun navy he's ready to again try to beard the lion.
And the problems Evo Morales has fomented in Bolivia - problems which he blamed on the US ambassador there and expelled him - presents the perfect opportunity for Chavez to thump his chest again and make the usual spectacle of himself.
Washington has been after Venezuela concerning their apparent less than covert support for the FARC terrorists who plague Columbia. Venezuela has been providing money, arms and advice/training to FARC terroists. It is also reported that they take sanctuary at various times in Venezuela. Chavez also appears to enable their ability to move drugs through Venezuela as a way to pay for their "revolution".
Flip on over to Bolivia where Evo Morales has been busily engaged in the same sort of "Bolivarian socialism" experiment that Chavez is attempting. However, the people of Bolivia are nowhere near as cowed or compliant as those in Venezuela. Riots, takeovers and fighting have raged in the eastern Bolivian provinces as the people there resist Morles. The government of Bolivia declared a state of siege, constitutional guarantees are suspended, private vehicles without authorization are banned from the streets and groups are not allowed to meet. Additionally bars, restaurants and discos must close at midnight and residents are prohibited from carrying firearms.
An insurrection against Bolivian President Evo Morales in the eastern part of the country entered its second week Tuesday, with groups backed by local governors seizing control of government offices and airports and threatening to shut off a gas pipeline that feeds strategic fields in Argentina and Brazil.
On Tuesday, in the nerve center of Santa Cruz, mobs rampaged into the main telephone office. The office had recently been nationalized, and took control of the internal revenue and agrarian reform offices in the town center.
Morales reaction have been those steps outlined above, plus the ouster of the US Ambassador blamed by Morales for fomenting the unrest. He's also sent troops into those areas to quell the insurrection.
The insurrection is a direct challenge to Morales attempts to consolidate his power while destroying the power of the land owners in the east:
Violent anti-government protests have killed at least 18 people in Bolivia, where rightist governors have rebelled against Mr. Morales, demanding autonomy and rejecting his plans to overhaul the constitution and break up ranches to give land to poor Indians.
Government opponents are demanding that Mr. Morales cancel a referendum on a new constitution that would centralize power and transfer fallow terrain to landless peasants.
Hugo, of course, seized the opportunity to thumb his nose at the US and attempt to humiliate it by following Bolivia's lead and expelling the US Ambassador to Venezuela on trumped up nonsense.
The US has since retaliated.
The United States, in retaliation for Mr. Chavez's decision, on Friday imposed sanctions on Venezuelan officials, whom it accused of helping Colombian rebels smuggle drugs, deepening the diplomatic crisis that raised the specter of an oil supply cutoff.
The sanctions were announced in Washington a day after Mr. Chavez also threatened to halt crude sales to the United States. Mr. Chavez warned that world crude prices would immediately double to more than $200 a barrel if he cut off oil exports to the United States.
President Hugo Chavez sought to lower the tone of a diplomatic spat with the United States, saying he doesn't plan to take more steps against his country's biggest oil customer.
Mr. Chavez thrust the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries nation into its worst diplomatic crisis with the Bush administration in years by expelling the U.S. ambassador on Thursday, triggering a feud between Washington and Latin America's leftist leaders.
"We don't have any other plan, it was only a strong diplomatic gesture taken with a brother country," Mr. Chavez told state-run television late on Friday.
"Only the United States can change our energy and commercial relationship," he said.
Hidden beneath his bluster is the real world realization that cutting the US off from its oil supplies doesn't help Venezuela one bit. Very few if any other countries have the ability to take Venezuela's high sulfur crude and refine it. So when he waves the "cut-off" threat around, at least at this time, it's a pretty hollow threat. Until other countries develop the ability to refine Venezuelan crude, cutting off the US is tantamount to cutting off his own stream of petro-dollars.
And with the global economy starting to show some signs of slowing, it is not a move he can afford. So like most bullies who go overboard, he's now seeking a way to back out of the confrontation he manufactured while still maintaining "face". Frankly I don't think the US should allow him to do that.
But this is also another example of why "drill here, drill now" seems all the more pertinent and appealing when we talk about our dependence on foreign oil and what that means.
One has to wonder if brothers Hugo and Evo are getting a wee bit nervous as the oil price rollercoaster speeds down about as fast as it went up. I suspect that part of their calculations for spreading their "revolutions" depends on prices staying high. The current uncertainty has got to be putting a dent in their self-confidence.