Friday, February 1, 2008

Manly guerilla

Some may think it's weird that the coup attempt of 4 February 1992 is celebrated as the start of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, as opposed to 4 December 1998 when Chavez was elected president. But it's not weird at all. The true guerilla knows that to take power through violence confirms an earth-shaking revolution, while a peaceful election does not.

The heroes of Chavez took power through violence not elections. They were strong men who imposed their will on people and led revolutions. In 1959, Fidel Castro routed the corrupt, capitalist oligarchy, defeated the Americans at the Bay of Pigs, and imposed the heavenly paradise of Communism on the Cuban people. In 1968, General Juan Velasco Alvarado wrested power from wealthy landowners, suspended the constitution, and seized American corporations. You can criticize both Castro and Velasco for collapsing their economies, but you can't fault their guerilla manhood.

Chavez met Velasco in Lima when he was in the military academy and was mesmerized. Later, he tried but failed to take power through violence in a coup. Once out of jail, thanks to the pardon of Rafael Caldera in 1994, Chavez met Castro in Havana and was feted. It took years for Luis Miquelena to convince Chavez to try getting elected to power but after he did, in 1998, it didn't take long for Chavez to get rid of Miquelena, because he convinced Chavez to deny his guerilla manhood.

Yes, he has ruined the economy of Venezuela the way Velasco ruined Peru's and Castro ruined Cuba's. Yes, he has kicked the Americans out of Venezuela the way Velasco and Castro did. And yes, he controls one government political party, a revolutionary ideology, and a military beholden to him just like Castro and Velasco. But when he tries to sleep at night, what bothers him most is that he is not a manly guerilla running a real revolution because he got to power by votes and not by the cleansing shedding of the enemy's blood. To make him sleep better on 4 February 2008 all 26 million Venezuelans should shout "Fatherland, Socialism or Death" so loud that people can hear it in Miami

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