Saturday, December 1, 2007

Hugo Chavez, Cornered Rat

A clear indicator that a dictator feels he has something to worry about is when he starts yelling about conspiracies to remove him from power.

Chávez Bluster Surges Ahead of Referendum

CARACAS, Venezuela, Nov. 30 -- On the eve of a referendum that President Hugo Chávez has cast as a plebiscite on his rule, the populist leader is escalating his verbal assaults on foes real and imagined, picking a fight with neighboring Colombia one day and assailing Catholic Church leaders as "mental retards" the next.

This is really a fun story.

. . .a few weeks ago the proposals had been expected to receive easy approval, polls released last week showed that the opposition could ultimately prevail in a tight contest.

"He's decided that his best tactic to recover the control of his movement is to instill fear in his people that there's a world conspiracy against Venezuela," said Demetrio Boersner, a political analyst and former diplomat. "It's a tactic that uses histrionics as a weapon to unite the people so they vote for him on Sunday."

"There's an offensive to criminalize Venezuela, to say that Venezuela is falling into an abyss, that it's a country of dictators, of Castro-style communism, a country that helps terrorists," Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuela's ambassador in Washington,

Yea, well it is a country of dictators, of Castro type madness.

In speech after speech, Chávez avoids dwelling on unpopular proposals for change, including one that would permit him to run for office indefinitely and another that would give him the power to appoint provincial governors. Instead, he depicts his opponents as conspirators out to crush his self-styled revolution.

See what I mean?
That rat feels cornered.

Mark Feierstein, an American who has polled in Venezuela for years, said the president's supporters, known as Chavistas, also tire of the rhetoric.

Maybe time to find a new speech writer.

The president's behavior has been making international headlines since early this month when, at a summit in Chile, he called former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar a "fascist." After a long diatribe by Chávez, the king of Spain, Juan Carlos, became so agitated that he leaned across a table and said to the Venezuelan: "Why don't you shut up?"

That is hilarious.

"There will not be a million kings who will want to keep my mouth shut, because I speak in the name of Venezuela," Chávez later said.

The guy doesn't know good advise when it is offered.

Then, after President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia last week ended CChávez's role in mediations with that country's guerrilla group, Chávez said that Uribe's actions were "brutal" and disrespectful of Venezuela -- even if Chávez had sidestepped diplomatic protocol, as Uribe contended.

Chávez withdrew his ambassador from Bogota and, in televised comments Wednesday, said Uribe was capable of "barefaced lies." "If he does that to me," Chávez said, "imagine how he is with the poor Colombian people."

This guy Hugo needs a mirror.

On Friday, a day when an estimated 200,000 people in Caracas rallied in support of Chávez, officials saw yet one more possible sign of conspiracy. Toilet paper is in short supply -- as are milk, eggs and other staples.

This is righteous, the great toilet paper conspiracy.

"We know there are sectors hiding toilet paper," Finance Minister Rodrigo Cabezas said on state television. "A group of business leaders are playing mean, playing dirty." He said it was designed to "create the sensation of product shortage during the election."

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