BY CHRONICLE EDITORS
AS IF IT'S NOT ENOUGH to attack local and foreign investors at home, Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez decided to spend considerable time and money in Mar del Plata during the Summit of the Americas recently to aggressively fight the creation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
Of course, he didn't restrict himself to the typical activity of the other presidents, but felt he had to make a speech at an anti-Bush rally full of radical Argentines and Latin Americans equating President George W. Bush with fascism and nazism. Once again Chavez used the opportunity to insult Bush and denounce "imperialism" (Fidel Castro's name for the United States) and U.S. plans to invade Venezuela (just like Castro still keeps saying about Cuba), and last, but not least, "bury" the FTAA.
While there is no doubt that Venezuela would benefit from an FTAA, Chavez is rejecting it because the trade pact's requirements of open markets doesn't fit with his socialist vision of state control over the economies. And then there's the fact that he feels he doesn't need a U.S. free trade agreement as long as the United States keeps buying Venezuelan oil at record prices.
MEANWHILE, CHAVEZ is busy expropriating private property, restricting private enterprises and setting up state companies that will compete with private counterparts in telecommunications, PC manufacturing, mining, aviation and more (see our special report Chaveznomics).
As if that were not enough, he has forced the official statistics institute to revise their statistics showing that poverty has actually grown, not fallen, during Chavez' reign. Just like Cuba, where statistics are not allowed to contradict the government.
For any one with doubts, it is now blatantly clear that Chavez is a socialist and wants to create a new Cuba in Venezuela. Just like Castro after the 1959 Cuban revolution, Chavez has followed a gradual path, permitting relatively free markets and political opposition for a few years before starting to clamp down on both.
Chavez' latest actions, not to say words, have unmasked him as nothing but a radical socialist bully.