Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Chavez: A method to his madness

One may understandably wonder why Venezuela's president and accidental cartoon character Hugo Chavez never misses a chance to trumpet the fantasy that the US is planning on invading his country, or that Washington is plotting a coup against him or his allies. On the surface, in the absence of any overt US hostility against Chavez, it has all the appearance of simple raving to whip up anti-US sentiment and to solidify his popularity by fabricating a bogeyman intent on devouring Venezuela. The truth, I suspect, is actually much more alarming.

The AP reports that Chavez is spending billions on "defense", claiming as justification that a US invasion is on the horizon. Chavez's shopping list includes everything from 100,000 Kalashnikov AK-103
assault rifles (which look suspiciously like AK-47s with the quaint wooden parts replaced with plastic) to submarines, transport planes, and air-superiority fighters.

According to the twisted mind of Chavez:
"The United States is failing in its attempt to blockade us, to disarm us," Chavez said after announcing the first shipment of Kalashnikovs.
What blockade? What attempts to disarm? The only action the US has taken in this area is a decision to discontinue the sale of parts for Venezuela's fleet of F-16s. This decision was made after determining that Venezuela was not contributing to any efforts to fight terrorism.

But buried midway into the article is this statement:
U.S. officials have ridiculed Chavez's frequent warnings of a possible invasion, but say they worry some of the assault rifles could end up in the hands of leftist Colombian rebels.
Bingo. I suspect that this is the real reason for the arms build-up. Just a few days ago, Alvaro Uribe was re-elected in a landslide victory as president of Colombia. Uribe, a staunch US ally, has had successes recently against the FARC leftist rebels, a fact that can't sit well with Chavez. As I've written before, Chavez has been working diligently to promote marxist leaders elsewhere in South America.

With enough military hardware, Chavez can do more than just pass small arms to leftist rebels in Colombia, he can back leftist causes anywhere in South America.

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