Cold Hard Wonk

No sentiment but politics

Ruckus from Caracas

Posted by JJ in Bad Press, The Elephant, The Other America (Sunday November 20, 2005 at 2:45 pm)

And the Globe strikes again, giving us the latest:

Chavez Lashes Out at Bush

That’s not news, folks, it’s status quo, like “Elderly attain greater age than the young” or “Man expresses personal opinion”. Are they just trying to remind their occasional readers of the international political situation? Are people paying so little attention that they miss a story with some 40,000 Google hits (1.7 Million if you search for “attacks” rather than “lashes out”).

Is there nothing more to this story? Ah, but there is. The “lashing out” is taking a few forms:

  • The expulsion of a group of Christian missionaries
  • The claim that the US has already made full preparations for an attack against Venezuela
  • The order of 100,000 Kalishnikov rifles
  • A mass call for volunteers for the army reserve

But of course, it really boils down to a criticism of Bush, doesn’t it. I suppose that sells papers to Canadians unconcerned by a third-world populist, flush with oil revenue, whose preferred technique for governing involves terrorizing his own citizens with the prospect of a powerful and hated enemy.

The last round of expulsions involved accusations of colonialism and vague mentions of a plot to overthrow the much beloved, much criticized President, Hugo Chavez. By expelling that group, the government asserted, it was protecting indigenous groups both from cultural imperialism, and from the sight of the overly-luxurious accommodations which the missionaries built for themselves.

President Chavez has held himself out as a campaigner for indigenous rights, and has granted a number of Venezuelan indigenous groups portions of the lands which they believe their ancestors occupied. These grants do not include mineral or oil rights.

Making personal attacks against Bush is merely another political move on Chavez’s part. It’s well-designed to play both nationally and internationally. It may even win him a few points with opponents of Bush in the US. But is it really the meat of the issue?

It’s not clear that Chavez will be bad or good for Venezuela and the world, and less clear by far when we draw attention to the most irrelevant facts in that determination: a litany of personal attacks on the US President.

Is that really what Globe readers want? Hopefully not. Hopefully, they expect a bit more.

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