Venezuela reelected a very familiar face to their highest office. It’s his fourth term. It’s Hugo Chavez who beat Henrique Capriles carrying 54% of the vote against his opponent’s 46%. Congratulations, Mr. Chavez?
Not so fast. These elections are far from clean. As an Argentine native, I know that Latin American politics are far from clean and honest. I’ve seen with my own eyes, tyrannical governments that took advantage of innocent people.
I remember 2001 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Argentine President De la Rua in 2001 sent federal mounted police to beat up the “Madres de Plaza de Mayo” who lost their children to the fascist governments in the 1970s and 1980s. These elderly folks were protesting De la Rua’s radical economic policies– that’s all.
I see that and distrust government wholeheartedly. It’s scenarios like these that stick to your mind and formulate your principles. Speaking from experience, it’s hard for me to trust the Venezuelan election results especially since a Spanish newspaper reported that Capriles had won. It’s also hard for me to trust that Chavez’s policies will better the common good of the Venezuelan people.
Chavez is the face of Latin corruption. This is a man that restricted the rights of the press to facilitate his public opinion. The Human Rights Watch found that in Venezuela they “punish those persons who express their voice of dissent from the administration [which] are violations of human rights and should be subject to generalized censure, and should be investigated.” The report also found that political opponents to the Chavez regime are abused by the government.
A clear indicator for this corruption is the way Chavez dealt with this recent election. If this last election was so democratic, then why did Chavez deploy tanks and troops to Venezuelan streets? This is despotism. Yet, the White House doesn’t think so. They congratulated Mr. Chavez even though they cited differences with the Chavez government (boy…that’s a relief). Leaders that called Chavez to congratulate him include President of Cuba Raul Castro, President of Bolivia Evo Morales, President of Argentina Cristina Kirchner, and President of Ecuador Rafael Correa. It’s awful to include our own President to this list.
It’s hard to believe that the Obama Administration believes that this election was carried out in a democratic manner because of its peaceful process. Then it again, it happened. Just like the pacifist attitude toward Russia and Iran, Obama lacks boldness and leadership.
In no way should the U.S. get involved in more foreign affairs. I believe that we should cut back in our wars and military bases. However, the U.S. is the leader of the free world. It’s Obama’s duty to repudiate Chavez’s anti-democratic regime. Like Reagan did with Gorbachev, Obama should step up to the plate and let the Venezuelan people know that Chavez is a tyrannical figure just like he should’ve step up to the plate when Iranians were suppressed for standing up to Ahmadinejad.
This isn’t intervention. This doesn’t require our country to send troops and kick Chavez out of power. But events like these do require a speech to the Latin American people letting them know that they stand behind democratic ideals. That’s the right kind of intervention unlike the time we did in Chile where we ruined the democratic government of Allende. There should be more dialogue with Latin American leaders to show that we need to turn the page.
Many Argentines, still have a problem with the United States. Rightfully so, the U.S. got involved in Argentine politics and encouraged the fascist rules of many of Argentina’s presidents.
So when Chavez speaks to the Venezuelan people and says that he wants to end the American empire, I understand what he means. He is using America’s radical intervention from the past to justify his anti-American sentiment. Things have changed, however.
For those nationalists in Latin America, please move on. Both your countries and the U.S. are missing out from having diplomatic relations. Just last year, the U.S. signed a trade agreement with Colombia to encourage free enterprise. Countries like Colombia will greatly benefit from having relations with the U.S.
But Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Cuba are not benefiting from their current attitude toward the U.S. Their anti-American speech doesn’t benefit their own people. The U.S. should foster a better relationship with Latin America and hopefully prevent characters like Chavez from flourishing.