Monday, August 20, 2007

Venezuela and South America's Direction

Venezuela Woes

One News Now - props

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I look at what is going on in Venezuela as setting the stage for where the other countries in South and Central America will eventually end up. Free-markets? Or Marxist like control over lives and wealth? Old allies reunited? Or “Red Dawn” (Wolverines!!)?

Where is our Reagan? Newt? Thompson? We shall see.

U.S. urged to counter power grab by Venezuela's Chavez

Jim Brown OneNewsNow.comAugust 20, 2007

A former State Department official says the U.S. needs to be very concerned that President Hugo Chavez is solidifying a Castro-like communist dictatorship in Venezuela by continuing to broaden his authority.

Last week in a speech to Venezuela's National Assembly, Chavez called for the elimination of presidential term limits and the autonomy of the country's Central Bank. He also proposed giving his government more power to seize private property without court approval.

Jim Roberts, a research fellow in economic growth and freedom at the Heritage Foundation, says Chavez has steadily been tightening his grip on power since he took office in 1999. "Since then, he's really cracked down on press freedom," Roberts observes. "He closed the only significant press outlet, which was called RCTV, a television station that reached the whole country that would air reports that were critical of him and analyzed his regime."

And the dictator has also politicized the military, says Roberts. "[H]e's put his military people into jobs around the country that normally are held by civilians who are running the state and local governments of Venezuela," he notes.

In addition, Chavez has already been using "trumped up charges" to seize land that had been in productive use and turn it over to peasants, says the Heritage Foundation fellow.

"These are disturbing signs," Roberts admits, "and it reminds me, and many others, of the attempt in the early 1970s in Chile when Salvador Allende also gained power through constitutional means, and being advised by Fidel Castro back then nearly ruined Chile. Fortunately, the people rebelled and overthrew him, and Chile is now the most prosperous country in South America."

Roberts says the U.S. needs to confront Chavez by surrounding him with the market-based democracy of the West. He believes Congress should pass pending trade promotion agreements as they were originally negotiated -- or try to achieve new economic agreements -- to improve the economies of other South American countries like Colombia, Uruguay, and Paraguay.