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Manuel Caballero: "Hugo Chavez seeks to destroy Venezuela's peace"

By Aleksander Boyd

London 16.05.05 | It is a remarkable experience to see a lifelong lefty bashing Hugo Chavez and that is precisely what Manuel Caballero did last Friday in La Maison de l'Amérique latine in Paris. Vested with an extraordinary command of Venezuelan history, Caballero took the audience for a historical promenade ranging from the times of Juan Vicente Gomez to Hugo Chavez's. Two men, according to him, that share many characteristics, the most notorious being that both rewrote the constitution to allow themselves to stay in power longer. Defined as "someone who's intoxicated with authoritarianism" Chavez did not fare well in the conference for Caballero is of the opinion that there exist not a bigger oxymoron between leftist ideals and militaristic rulers. He called for moderation and critical thinking to those who still believe that Chavez has got anything to do with the left. Caballero admitted that he has been in the opposition since 1.948, ergo no one can accuse him of being a member of the former status quo trying to regain his parcel and most definitely not a bourgeois!

"What Hugo Chavez detests of the 40 something years of 'damned democracy' of the ill defined 4th Republic is that the army was under civilian control". He also stated in relation to the public uprise of February 14th 1.936 against Lopez Contreras "peace can be more powerful as a political tool than war", narrating how after very many people took to the streets of Caracas to protest the regime of Lopez Contreras liberal and democratic precepts were introduced permanently in our country. "Chavez seeks to destroy not our democracy but our peace. The presidential insistence in waging war against peace characterizes the current situation in Venezuela; a country that has enjoyed the longest period of peace in the world's contemporary history". Regarding Chavez militaristic obsession he recalled that the children present at the G-15 summit of Caracas in February 2004 cried in unison "at your orders my commander". To that effect mention was made about the very many armymen in command of heretofore civilian jobs.

The Q & A session came and as customary a shrinked representation of apologists took turns to question the integrity of the speaker instead of addressing the points raised. A Chilean professor; an Argentinean journalist and about 5 Venezuelans criticised Caballero. The Argetinean journalist took it with the media saying "I could hear calls for Chavez's assassination when I was in Caracas!" alas Caballero was not there to defend them. Then a Venezuelan had the chutzpah to comment about the fascist and radical nature of the opposition, exemplified with the killing of Danilo Anderson to which Caballero replied "indeed when Che Guevara was killed he was in possession of a machine to count notes whereas Danilo Anderson -a figure worthy of comparable revolutionary worship in Venezuela- was branding a machine gun". Ahh the bliss!! A Venezuelan lawyer stoop up and deemed Caballero's parallels between Hitler and Chavez as gross exaggerations; is it any secret that Hitler won the vote in Germany after having conducted an unsuccessful coup d'etat? The session was constantly disrupted by a couple of women who could not kept quiet. A two minute allocation was to be given to individuals willing to query the historian, when asked to let others participate the lady said "see? They won't let me talk, that's what they do!". My observation versed on the unconstitutional and illegal manner in which Chavez did away with the previous constitution and all the branches of power. The 'lawyer' however begged to differ even though there weren't provisions for such purposes in the 1.961 constitution. "There aren't human rights violations in Venezuela" said another Venezuelan pundit, one has to guess that Le Monde Diplomatique is sifting information coming from the 'oligarchic sources' of Venezuela so that these fundamentalists can peddle the propaganda with utmost conviction. All in all an agreable experience whereby the sheer ignorance and absence of criticism vis-a-vis sensible issues was the most salient feature of chavista apologists.

The talk of town is the newly acquired building of Ignacio Ramonet, err, Le Monde Diplomatique. In times where the French press is strapped for cash, petit bourgeois Ramonet seems to be living it and apparently has even organized an architecture contest to have the place redesigned. One has to wonder the source of the money in ligth of the devalued and widely distrusted perception that Parisiens have of Le Monde Diplomatique. It would be interesting indeed to follow the money trail -perhaps tax authorities are keen to investigate- however given the murky nature of France's bureaucracy chances are slim. The stench of Hugo-Dollars has reached Caracas though...

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