Inteligencia y Seguridad Frente Externo En Profundidad Economia y Finanzas Transparencia
  En Parrilla Medio Ambiente Sociedad High Tech Contacto
Frente Externo  
 
06/10/2007 | Chavez: The Robespierre of the Andes (the ideological underpinnings of Bolivarianism)

Martin Edwin Andersen

Is recently-elected Venezuelan president and one-time putchist army Col. Hugo Chavez more a modern version of Simon Bolivar, the freedom fighter who liberated South America from Spanish domination? Or is he modeling himself after the 18th century French Jacobin Maximilien Robespierre, "the Incorruptible," who fleetingly dominated his country's revolutionary politics, instituting a reign of terror and a cult of the Supreme Being, before being brought down by his own excess?

 

The question was forcefully brought home Monday, when Mr. Chavez's supporters in the Constituent Assembly voted to strip the national congress of its remaining powers. Mr. Chavez has long maintained that the congress is a hotbed of corruption out of touch with a country where more than half the population lives in poverty. However, the Constituent Assembly -whose members include Mr. Chavez's wife, his brother and a cache of army officers who supported his efforts to oust an elected president - has stripped the judiciary of its independence and attacked the ability of political parties to operate. Meanwhile the president himself has placed loyal army officers in key positions throughout the government.


Mr. Chavez, who 10 years ago led two bloody but unsuccessful army revolts against a constitutional regime of legendary corruption, swept to power last December at the head of a popular rebellion against a decadent political system whose two major parties had fallen into universal disrepute.

Since that time, Mr. Chavez's particular mixture of military fundamentalism and ultra-right and left-wing nationalism have sparked concern at home and abroad. In part, the concern in a region with an unhappy history of military rule is driven by Mr. Chavez's coup-plotting past. Venezuela, home to Bolivar, is an important symbol throughout the region as South America's oldest democracy and as a place of refuge for countless political exiles from dozens of countries. With neighboring Colombia under siege, and nearby Ecuador in a state of economic collapse, the northern Andean region appears to be an archipelago of near anarchy and dangerous volatility. To some observers, such as Rep. Cass Ballenger, reports of Mr. Chavez's authoritarian tendencies are exaggerated. "I think it all appears to be going constitutionally in spite of what the news media in the U.S. says," reported Mr. Ballenger after meeting Monday with Constitutional Assembly leaders.

Some of the political theater taking place in Caracas may be just that. Mr. Chavez's supporters, wearing the red berets characteristic of the army commandos he once led, address their fellows as "compatriots" and their leaders, including the president as "citizen." Mr. Chavez's own Robespierrean taste for titles has led his supporters to confer on him that of "Expression of National Unity," as well as commander in chief of the armed forces.

Others see more threatening forces at work. On Monday, the man who lost the 1998 presidential contest, former state Gov. Henrique Salas Romer, expressed his concern about what is happening in Caracas. Mr. Salas Romer, speaking before a group at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), is himself a well-regarded reformer and a strong critic of Venezuela's old political system.

In 1998, Mr. Salas Romer noted, 100 percent of Venezuelans voted for a new type of political system, as neither of the two traditional parties who long-dominated politics there presented presidential candidates. Today, he said, "Venezuela is not making a choice between old parties and change. It is choosing between ethnic, fundamentalist government, or a government based on decentralized pluralism and an alliance with civil society."

Mr. Salas Romer charged the Chavez administration with creating virtual "parallel governments" throughout the country's 24 states, in which the commanders of army garrisons are given wide say in civilian affairs.

Venezuela's civil-military relationship and the army chain of command, is being undermined, he said, by Mr. Chavez's promoting of cronies both inside the barracks, and to civilian posts. Ironically, Mr. Salas Romer said, a decade-long reform process that began with efforts to decentralize power in order to make the political system more accountable at the local level been perverted. "They're taking power from the citizens and giving it to one man," he said.

Although Mr. Chavez likes to say he is heading a movement based on Bolivarian principles, Mr. Salas Romer points out that Bolivar himself liked to say that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The Clinton administration, having embraced some of the most corrupt governments of Latin America and with its own domestic image tainted by scandal, has only a weakened arsenal to combat the message of Venezuela's Mr. Chavez and would-be imitators around the region. Public corruption has become Latin America's biggest security threat because it robs democratic governments of the legitimacy they need to combat the growing challenges of street crime and transnational crime - through partnerships with civil society.

Venezuela's experience is worth watching, as its effects may reach even beyond the immediate region. Mr. Chavez has announced his intention to meet with Colombia's FARC guerrillas, a move that would confer upon them an international status of belligerents that has so far eluded them. He has played footsie with Cuba's aging despot, Fidel Castro. Mr. Chavez also counts among his international followers the "Painted Faces" military officers loyal to Argentine army Col. Mohammed Ali Seineldin, a former "dirty warrior" who worked as an advisor to Panama's dictator Manuel Noriega and who led several coup attempts against the constitutional governments in Buenos Aires.

A former Argentine left wing guerrilla supporter and Painted Faces apologist, Norberto Ceresole, claims to be Mr. Chavez's ideological guru. Those with long memories recall that in the early 1990s, both Col. Seineldin and Mr. Chavez were poster boys for U.S. extremist Lyndon LaRouche's publications. Almost all of these radical forces, on the left and on the right, maintain links to radical Middle Eastern regimes and reject liberal democracy as being controlled by "the Jews."

If Mr. Chavez is both undemocratic and unsuccessful, his troublesome reign may be as fleeting as that of Robespierre. If tyranny is his game, and it works, the United States may be facing, to paraphrase the words of the Argentine-born Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, "one, two, many Venezuelas." Oil and cocaine, the cash crops of the northern rim of South America, can buy a lot of guns, or worse.

Martin Edwin Andersen is a Latin America specialist for Freedom House.

Washington Times (Estados Unidos)

 


Otras Notas Relacionadas... ( Records 1 to 10 of 2864 )
fecha titulo
09/01/2015 Is Venezuela Becoming the Most Dangerous Nation in Latin America?
20/12/2014 Obama golpea a Maduro tras las críticas por el deshielo con Cuba
09/12/2014 Venezuela - La despolarización desvanece a Maduro
25/11/2014 Venezuela’s Leftist Collectives: Criminals or Revolutionaries?
19/11/2014 Venezuela - Las lágrimas de Monedero sobre Hugo Chávez
21/10/2014 Venezuela, ¿Por qué Venezuela ha de importar petróleo pese a sus inmensas reservas de crudo?
14/10/2014 Venezuela violenta
06/10/2014 Venezuela - No mejora el enfermo
06/10/2014 Venezuela - El cerco continúa
05/10/2014 What Is Behind Murder of Venezuela Politician?


Otras Notas del Autor
fecha
Título
23/09/2020|
05/03/2020|
17/01/2020|
05/06/2018|
27/03/2018|
21/02/2018|
22/04/2017|
17/02/2017|
17/12/2016|
14/09/2016|
07/08/2016|
27/03/2016|
22/03/2016|
22/03/2016|
11/03/2016|
15/02/2016|
20/09/2015|
20/09/2015|
07/09/2015|
03/09/2015|
18/02/2015|
20/01/2015|
18/12/2014|
09/12/2014|
18/11/2014|
06/11/2014|
01/10/2014|
17/09/2014|
06/09/2014|
14/05/2014|
12/03/2014|
04/02/2014|
19/12/2013|
03/11/2013|
25/10/2013|
10/10/2013|
29/08/2013|
27/06/2013|
19/05/2013|
08/05/2013|
08/05/2013|
02/05/2013|
20/03/2013|
23/02/2013|
23/02/2013|
25/01/2013|
15/06/2012|
26/05/2012|
04/05/2012|
28/04/2012|
17/04/2012|
01/11/2011|
04/07/2011|
04/07/2011|
11/04/2011|
07/02/2011|
24/01/2011|
14/12/2010|
21/11/2010|
15/09/2010|
09/08/2010|
18/07/2010|
01/07/2010|
11/06/2010|
06/06/2010|
13/01/2010|
29/10/2009|
24/09/2009|
03/09/2009|
02/09/2009|
29/08/2009|
25/07/2009|
25/07/2009|
25/07/2009|
25/07/2009|
01/04/2009|
12/03/2009|
12/03/2009|
16/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
14/11/2008|
14/11/2008|
18/09/2008|
18/09/2008|
13/08/2008|
13/08/2008|
28/01/2008|
17/01/2008|
30/12/2007|
16/12/2007|
02/12/2007|
01/12/2007|
12/09/2007|
17/06/2007|
17/06/2007|
17/06/2007|
17/06/2007|
17/06/2007|
17/06/2007|
21/05/2007|
21/05/2007|
06/04/2007|
28/03/2007|
12/01/2007|
12/01/2007|
18/12/2006|
18/12/2006|
22/09/2006|
22/09/2006|
03/08/2006|
01/08/2006|
23/02/2006|
08/10/2005|
18/08/2005|
22/07/2005|
15/07/2005|
12/07/2005|
23/06/2005|
14/06/2005|
25/05/2005|
26/04/2005|
26/04/2005|
29/03/2005|
29/03/2005|
19/02/2005|
19/02/2005|
16/02/2005|
16/02/2005|
15/02/2005|
15/02/2005|
11/02/2005|
11/02/2005|
09/02/2005|
09/02/2005|
09/02/2005|
09/02/2005|
06/02/2005|
06/02/2005|
04/02/2005|
04/02/2005|
04/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
31/01/2005|
31/01/2005|
28/01/2005|
28/01/2005|
25/01/2005|
25/01/2005|
25/01/2005|
25/01/2005|
24/01/2005|
24/01/2005|
18/01/2005|
18/01/2005|
14/01/2005|
14/01/2005|
13/01/2005|
13/01/2005|
11/01/2005|
11/01/2005|
11/01/2005|
11/01/2005|
11/01/2005|
11/01/2005|
06/01/2005|
06/01/2005|
04/01/2005|
04/01/2005|
24/12/2004|
24/12/2004|
22/12/2004|
22/12/2004|
22/12/2004|
22/12/2004|
14/12/2004|
14/12/2004|
06/12/2004|
06/12/2004|
02/12/2004|
02/12/2004|
30/11/2004|
30/11/2004|
23/11/2004|
23/11/2004|
20/11/2004|
20/11/2004|
12/10/2004|
12/10/2004|
24/09/2004|
24/09/2004|
27/06/2003|
27/06/2003|
20/06/2003|
20/06/2003|
03/06/2003|
03/06/2003|
07/05/2003|
07/05/2003|
06/05/2003|
06/05/2003|
24/04/2003|
24/04/2003|
16/04/2003|
16/04/2003|
16/04/2003|
16/04/2003|
10/04/2003|
10/04/2003|
09/04/2003|
09/04/2003|
02/04/2003|
02/04/2003|
27/03/2003|
27/03/2003|
21/03/2003|
21/03/2003|
20/03/2003|
20/03/2003|
17/03/2003|
17/03/2003|
15/03/2003|
15/03/2003|
03/03/2003|
03/03/2003|
22/02/2003|
22/02/2003|
17/02/2003|
17/02/2003|
07/02/2003|
07/02/2003|
04/02/2003|
04/02/2003|
01/02/2003|
01/02/2003|
30/01/2003|
30/01/2003|
28/01/2003|
28/01/2003|
22/01/2003|
22/01/2003|
15/01/2003|
15/01/2003|
26/12/2002|
26/12/2002|
24/12/2002|
24/12/2002|
22/12/2002|
22/12/2002|
13/12/2002|
13/12/2002|
13/12/2002|
13/12/2002|
01/12/2002|
01/12/2002|
06/10/2002|
06/10/2002|
04/10/2002|
04/10/2002|
28/09/2002|
28/09/2002|

ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House