Chester, over at the exceptionally good "Adventures of Chester" blog (see the URL below) has a note to himself today to "Keep [an] eye on Castro and Chavez." Chester links to an Agence France-Presse story noting that the Bearded One's armed forces have just finished the "Bastion 2004" exercise, involving 100,000 troops, and which are billed as the biggest Cuban exercises in twenty years.
El Bombastico's thugish brother, Raul, barks: "The only way to stop aggression is to make it abundantly clear that, in this case, Cuba will become from one end to the other an enormous wasp's nest that no aggressor, however powerful, will be able to overcome." Hopefully Fidel and Raul get stung by wasps or trip over a giant can of Raid sometime very soon.
All this was going on while Fidel played host to his new stooge, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Hmmm, stooge is unfair, because the two tin-pots have a mutual backscratching arrangement: Fidel gives Chavez arms, secret police and dictatorship organizational support -- Hugo takes Cuba's joke currency for real oil.
Chester links to another interesting article about Chavez's Venezuela. Chavez seems to be throwing himself right into his fascist dictator role, purchasing MiGs, visiting Iran, and persecuting Jews. Check out Chester's Blog and the interesting articles he links to:
Chester is reserving comment on whatever it is that troubles him about Latin America's most prominent dime-store Mussolinis, saying that he is going to keep an eye on them.
El Jefe is less reticent, and agrees that they both need to be watched. Castro has been talking up invasion scares ever since his fellow criminal and bosom-pal Saddam's regime fell. Who knows ? Perhaps the old murderer really does fear US soldiers tearing down his pictures and toppling his statues, and seeing that he gets to know the inside of his own jails. Nice thought anyway.
More probably, Fidel of the exquisitely tailored green fatigues is aware that he's 78, and is trying to ensure brownnoser brother Raul inherits and the regime continues via sabre rattling and ceaseless calls for mobilization. The higher level of army and police activity may help to convince dissenters to be quiet, and put a damper on hopes that Fidel might someday be dragged from a hole by US Marines or anybody else as he prepares to meet God, Lenin or whoever commies meet when they take the Big Sleep. Not to worry though: the Castro regime will not outlast Fidel by more than fifteen minutes.
As for Chavez, that's a bad business. Chavez is as big a menace to the US as Salvador Allende and is probably the Castro of tomorrow. Venezuela is of great strategic importance to the US, inasmuch as it and Mexico are the sources of most US oil imports. Consequently, Mr. Chavez is going to be big trouble.
A great pity the coup attempt of 2002 did not succeed. The attempt itself was positively farcical – the plotters’ designated president was certainly no Augusto Pinochet, but rather the head of the local equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce. Not the stuff of which successful usurpers are made. The would-be rulers had the Tyrant in their clutches – and still managed to lose. What can you do with incompentents like this ? Clearly, none of these people read their Machiavelli, or even The Godfather. Too, too bad, because there will probably not be another chance, and Venezuela will pay for the plotters stupidity for generations.
Chavez has now purged the army, and he is hard at work on the press, the bureaucracy, and his other opponents, and will no doubt, in the fullness of time impoverish, exile, imprison or kill as much of the former ruling class as possible. At any rate, his dragnet should terrorize enough of the oligarchy to ensure this class never dares oppose him again.
Chavez seems to have a secret police organization, (DGIP), up and running, which he will probably expand rapidly. It's always easy to staff a dictatorship, especially a left-wing one. For a Man of the People, building the Brave New World, there are always lots of disciples and opportunists eager to organize and operate a secret police: plenty of young university graduates, all afire with leftist zeal, looking for power and careers, and who will have no scruples about breaking some skulls to build paradise; together with a leavening of technocrats (investment bankers in another life ?) looking to work their passage with the new regime. Not to mention sycophantic journalists for the controlled press, and all the lawyers who want to be judges, tame-union bosses and bureaucrats -- none of them quite top drawer, but all willing to write, say or do anything for invitations to the good parties, a shot at the nice house seized from the old regime big-shot fled to Miami, or the new Mercedes.
If Chavez wishes to be the new Castro, he should have his police working on framing and blaming the former ruling class for all the economic disruption their destruction and exile is going to cause Venezuela. (The economy is collapsing already). Perhaps soon, he will have some show trials of prominent persons, such as major media opponents of the regime -- with a few rich oligarchs thrown in. His supporters in the streets will enjoy it -- always psychologically satisfying to see the rich get theirs, and those not tried will keep their heads down, grateful it's not them in the dock. Chavez is only 50, so his so-called "Bolivarian Republic" is, unfortunately, apt to be with us for a long time to come.