Thursday, January 12, 2012

An Inauguration for Autocrats

One for all, and all for the revolution: the leaders of Nicaraguay, Venezuela, someone, and Iran.
The other day's reinauguration of Nicaraguan Pres. Daniel Ortega provided a wonderful display of how authoritarianism is spreading across Latin America and the world under the guise of, of all things, leftist revolution.

The event was hosted by Ortega, a one-time Marxist revolutionary who is starting his second consecutive term, even tho Nicaragua's Constitution includes a one-term term limit. But Nicaragua's supremely-malleable Supreme Court ruled that the limit violated Ortega's 'human rights,' so he ran and won a second term amidst numerous accusations of electoral fraud.

Ortega's reelection "was made against Nicaragua's political Constitution which expressly prohibits the reelection," wrote Nicaraguan novelist Sergio Ramirez, who once fought in the Nicaraguan Sandinistas' communist revolution led by Ortega.

Ortega campaign poster:
Cristian, socialist and with solidarity.
Attending the inauguration was Venezuela's oil-rich Pres. Hugo Chavez, who's held power for 13 years and has bankrolled Ortega to the tune of $80.000 per Nicaraguan. Back home, Chavez has stayed in power by intimidating most of the critical media, controlling the judiciary, turning the government into a Chavez campaign machine and buying support by handing out goodies such as virtually-free gasoline (even while denouncing rich countries for profligerate consumerism).

Perhaps in attendance but for a medical problem was those nations' ideological ally Argentine Pres. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, herself recently reelected after succeeding her husband, now deceased, making almost a decade of Kirchner rule. Cristina Kirchner just passed a law imposing government control on the paper industry, an obvious strategem to muzzle the opposition El Clarin media group.

Also in attendance was Iranian Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadineyad, whose government violently repressed protests after his dubious reelection 'victory' and is, according to many western governments, developing nuclear weapons. From Nicaragua, Ahmadineyad visited ally Cuba, the hemisphere's only outright dictatorship, ruled by the Castro brothers since 1959. The contradictions between Islamic theocracy and Marxist atheism don't appear to bother either of them.

While these governments may share a revolutionary rhetoric, their policies have little in common. Kirchner recently angered the Catholic Church by pushing thru a law legalizing gay marriage, altho abortion is still almost always prohibited there. In contrast, Ortega, despite his Marxist past, got elected in 2007 by buying the support of the Catholic Church by agreeing to prohibit abortion in all cases. That's a strange sort of leftist revolution.

Venezuela, supposed leader of the Latin 'revolutions' - but where 'revolution' appears to mean government control and free handouts - has advanced in neither abortion nor gay rights. Iran, of course, is a repressive theocracy, in which free speech and women's rights are restricted, torture is used by the government and trials are a mockery, according to Human Rights Watch. But that hasn't stopped these supposedly progressive, socialist Latin nations from allying themselves with the Islamic Republic. Nor have they shied away from dictatorships like those of Syria, Libya and Belarus, or the increasingly authoritarian Russia.

This group of leaders has little in common, except for an empty revolutionary rhetoric, a love of power and antipathy toward the United States.

It used to be that tyrants siezed power with bloody military coups. But that produced bad P.R. These autocrats have found an easier way. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Chris Roberts said...

Would love to know which of these countries, which you know so much about, you have actually visited.

Miguel said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your comment. I lived several years in Venezuela, during the Chavez government.

I don't claim to be an expert on any of them. However, if one had to visit someplace in order to express an opinion about it, one could comment on few places.

We'd all have to keep mum about the rights violations in North Korea, for example.

Chabela said...


Great article(comment) and you do not need to visit that country to know what is going on.

There are so many venezuelans in the US now since Chavez took power than that should tell you something of what is going on Venezuela.

Miguel said...

Thanks for your comment Chabela.

As it turns out, I lived in Venezuela for several years under the Chavez government. I started out with high hopes that he would really help the country, particularly its poor, but I became progressively disillusioned.