Dealing with Chavez by peeling back his rhetoric

by Marcus Koontz

The other day Hugo Chavez, the dictator of Venezuela, appeared before the United Nations. In his speech he called President Bush the Devil and held up a book by Noam Chomsky that claims the United States is as much a terrorist state as any other. Chavez said he could still smell the sulfur from President Bush’s appearance earlier and later called Bush an alcoholic.

Venezuela’s oil gives Chavez a lot of power; recently he has made deals with Iran, the United Kingdom and low-income customers of heating oil in New York. These deals let him stretch his influence all over the globe. Because of this influence and his oil, even when he lies and makes vulgar claims there are no repercussions.

Since 2004 poverty in Venezuela has increased from 47 percent to 55 percent. The unemployment rate of Venezuela is 13 percent, which is 11 percent higher than at the beginning of his presidency. Recently Hugo Chavez has tried to intervene in elections in other Latin American countries. He has interfered with elections in Mexico, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. He has backed a candidate in Ecuador. After he backed left-wing Lopez Obrador in Mexico and Obrador lost, he refused to recognize the elected president of Mexico. Chavez has a history of using his oil money and influence to blackmail other countries into doing what he wants. At home there is no freedom of press, political speech or action. Chavez oppresses any opposition in his country.

It’s ironic that Chavez comes to the United Nations on U.S. soil and bashes our country for being a terrorist state. He sponsors terrorists in Columbia and other Latin American countries. It’s ironic that he uses a tenant of our country, free speech, to deliver his message, because there is no free speech in Venezuela. It’s ironic that Chavez offers low cost heating oil to low income consumers in some U.S. states, because Chavez’s own people are becoming poorer and it’s ironic because Chavez’s actions purposely inflate the cost of oil around the world. Chavez will continue to have the power to be meddlesome while he has money and influence to do it.

It all seems to come back to our dependence on oil. If we could wean ourselves off our addiction, if we could stop buying SUVs and stop driving everywhere, we could do something about rouge dictators like Hugo Chavez. We could stop lining his pockets with money and making it necessary to listen to his rants. We need to have energy independence.

Can you believe such a man when he calls our president the Devil? Do we turn a blind eye to Chavez’s own job performance? Do we allow our dependence to deceive our eyes? I hope we can see through this man’s rhetoric.

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