… and that, mis amigos, is plum loco
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is beginning to show his real color – red.
The socialist president of that democratic country has forced the most-watched television station there off the air because it aired complaints about problems in the country.
Sounds like the freedom of information that is most important to a democratic country is being tread upon.
Back a half century ago when half the world was communist, those countries had only government run media.
The people knew only what the government wanted them to know.
And it seems our South American neighbor across the Gulf of Mexico is going the same way. Chavez wants to remain leader of that country forever. In other words, he wants totalitarianism with a state-run economic system.
This writer’s visit to the Soviet Union in 1959 brought many interesting observations. We were there on a tour when Vice Pres. Richard Nixon engaged in his famous “kitchen debate” with Premier Nikita Khruschev. We were beginning to make a crack in the iron curtain that eventually led to the fall of the wall when G.W. Bush was president.
The people of Russia during our visit were getting impatient to know what was going on. They didn’t believe what their government was telling them on state-run news channels.
When we walked the streets of Moscow back then, residents would stand back and look at us as we passed. Large crowds of them greeted us when we made our way on tours of the government buildings and to the American exhibit which was the site of the kitchen debate. They wanted to know how it was to live in the United States. But they were held back from talking to us by ropes held in place by police.
It was a great day for Eastern Europe when people finally regained their freedom. You can bet they will never allow their governments to bring communism back.
So why are parts of South America flirting with a doctrine that has declined so much in international acceptance? Perhaps their so-called democracies give too much favoritism to the rich land owners and not enough opportunity to the people to grow themselves.
But they need to realize that communism is not the answer. It does not provide the prosperity that a free enterprise system can. And it does not give the people the freedom needed for the independent human spirit to prevail.
Venezuela could be a rich country with the natural resources it possesses. With a democratic government that offers opportunities to all in an atmosphere of freedom, it could lead South America into a prosperous future. But Chavez is leading it down the wrong road – a path that has brought failed economies and loss of freedom to the people of Eastern Europe in the last century. It is the wrong way for them to go.