Notes from last week’s hearings Some updated U.S. aid numbers
Sep 252006

These pictures are undeniably shameful:

President Franklin Roosevelt with allied dictator Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua, May 1939.Vice-President Richard Nixon with allied dictator Carlos Castillo Armas of Guatemala, 1955.
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger with allied dictator Augusto Pinochet of Chile, June 1976.President Ronald Reagan with allied de facto dictator Gen. Gustavo Álvarez Martínez of Honduras, 1982.
Special envoy Donald Rumsfeld with allied dictator Saddam Hussein of Iraq, December 1983.Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey with allied de facto dictator Vladimiro Montesinos of Peru, April 1998.

 

But these pictures are shameful too:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez with allied dictator Saddam Hussein of Iraq, August 2000.Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez with allied dictator Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, October 2005.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez with allied dictator Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, July 2006.Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez with allied dictator Bashar Assad of Syria, September 2006.

Take care, President Chávez, lest you become what you criticize. "You will be known by the company you keep" applies just as much to Venezuela as it does to the United States.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez with allied de facto dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, September 2006.

4 Responses to “The company you keep”

  1. Randy Paul Says:

    Pithy and excellent as usual.

  2. richtiger Says:

    Unfortunately Chavez’ posturing and publicity seeking define him in the minds of most Americans. We forget (if we ever knew) that he has built thousands of free medical clinics for the poor and helped more than a million adult Venezuelans become literate. 35 to 40% of Venezuelans shop at government subsidized markets, and prepared food is distributed to adults and children living in the streets. Chavez has brought hope to the brown-skinned masses of the poor, long ignored or despised by the “white” ruling class.

    If Colombia had had a more sedate version of Chavez in the Casa de Nariño instead of Uribe, we would be talking in this forum about the the reality of peace and progress, not the faint hope that we must now content ourselves with.

  3. jcg Says:

    Well, to be honest, even previous Venezuelan governments of the “white” ruling class had engaged in perhaps less ambitious projects benefitting the poor in some way or another, especially in past periods of oil bonanza.

    Chavez deserves obvious credit for expanding those, especially in a time when many had been downsized, and for creating many new initiatives, but he also deserves criticism for, among other things, the company he keeps.

    While I would also prefer a “more sedate version of Chavez” in Colombia, and that would likely be an improvement in many ways, it wouldn’t immediately lead to “the reality of peace and progress” either.

    Yes, it could put Colombia much further on the path to that reality, but the road ahead is complex and full of difficulties, not all of which depend solely on who’s in charge.

  4. richtiger Says:

    I look to the Colombian president as a catalyst for change; but as jcg rightly points out, the situation is more complex. A sense of solidarity must emerge between social classes–something no political leader can instantly produce. Yet a dynamic Colombian President who is personally committed to social justice could start the process of reconciliation. (He would-of course-have to be elected to begin with.)

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