November 25, 2005

Beware Dictators Bearing Oil II

Carroll Andrew Morse

Rhode Island’s political left is ready to sell its soul for cheap oil. Rhode Island’s liberal blog, RI Future, approvingly reports that two Providence city councilors want to buy discounted heating oil from Venezuela. Marc posted on some of the details earlier this week.

In its comments section, RI Future’s primary contibutor, Matt Jerzyk, goes as far as to call the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, a "real leader". Here are a few examples of what progressives like Jerzyk must consider real leadership…

1. Chavez has signed laws censoring the free press. Here’s a description of the most recent censorship laws passed by the Venezuelan government in March 2005, courtesy of the American Prospect (not exactly a member of the vast right wing conspiracy)…

The language of the March law has a totalitarian ring: "He who offends in speech or in writing, or in any way disrespects the President of the Republic or causes another to do so, shall be punished by six to thirty months jail." Legislators, judges, and cabinet ministers all have similar protections, with similar punishments.

To be prosecuted under the new codes, it makes no difference whether the offending article is true or not, and news organizations that violate them are subject to crippling fines and, after two fines, closure.

2. This set of restrictions follows last year's restrictions on electronic media, the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television. Here are the details from Human Rights Watch
Television and radio stations would be obliged to transmit the government’s educational, informative or public safety broadcasts for up to 60 minutes a week. This is in addition to the president’s powers under article 192 of the Telecommunications Act (introduced in 2000 by the government of President Hugo Chavez) to order stations to transmit in full his speeches and other political messages….

The law establishes an 11-person Directorate of Social Responsibility, part of whose mandate is to enforce the law and punish infringements. Seven members of the directorate are government appointees. Its president, the Director General of the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL), is appointed by the president and does not enjoy fixed tenure.

Under the standards established by Real Leader Chavez, this sort of posting on RI Future would be illegal; why do American progressives think that citizens of other countries don't deserve the same rights that they themselves enjoy?

3. Chavez’s anti-democratic rise to power included establishment of a “judicial emergency committee” that had power to remove judges without consulting any other branch of government. Here’s a quote from the emergency committee chairman on the subject of removing judges…

"The objective is that the substitution of judges will take place peacefully, but if the courts refuse to acknowledge the assembly's authority, we will proceed in a different fashion."
It also included the formation of a constitutent assembly that declared meetings of the sitting congress illegal. Chavez’s general attitude towards opposition is summed up in this quote…
“We can intervene in any police force in any municipality, because we are not going to permit any tumult or uproar. Order has arrived in Venezuela.”
The repression of Venezuelan citizens ignored by an American left searching for cheap oil starkly illustrates what has sadly become the first rule of contemporary progressivism: government repression is acceptable -- in some cases, even desirable -- so long as the government involved is anti-American.

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Chavez sounds like that "real leader" of Cuba progressives adore so much. Thanks for the research Andrew. A terrific post.

Posted by: rightri at November 25, 2005 8:42 PM

And they love to accuse us of trading "blood for oil." They apparently would sell their souls, and their country down the river, for cheap oil, and to prop up this dictator. they don't even get the irony, that in a country run by a strongman, dictator, or whatever you want to call it, the kind of "free speech" that they enjoy, would be under the control of those governments.

Excellent work. Can anyone say, Mussolini, 1922? Stalin, 1924, or Hitler, 1933? Great leader, my a**!

Posted by: Will at November 25, 2005 9:46 PM

I find it interesting that no one has mentioned George Bish's ties to Saudi oil. I mean if we are going to be fair, what is the difference? Why do we continue Saudi Arabia and have no problems with their policy?

Posted by: George at November 26, 2005 11:36 AM

great post, andrew. as a side note, ripop and the boys over at ri future have taken to some censorship of their own: i had posted a response to a post from "Alex" which had been listed as the 25th post to their Chavez love-fest, but it has since been replaced.

I submit that there was nothing obscene, offensive, or mean-spirited in the posting. Rather, it dealt with tax cuts, bush's "lies", and chavez's restrictive policies.

Looks like they're afraid of being challenged on substance. (not surprising if you keep up with their postings over there.)

Posted by: ???? at November 26, 2005 8:20 PM

update: 8:44pm

the posting that had been taken down has since been re-posted

thank you ripop

a simple misunderstanding i am sure

Posted by: ???? at November 26, 2005 8:45 PM