|Hugo Chávez reaches for godliness.|
Are the victims the aggressors?
Are economic laws really suspended by the Bolivarian Revolution?
Commenting on the progressive disaster in Colombia's neighbor Venezuela means struggling between pathos and laughter. And last week brought laughter.
Venezuela's socialists have long regarded their deceased ex-president Hugo Chavez with a near-religious reverence. And, Venezuela's chavistas have had a long-running clash with the Catholic Church. But Venezuela remains a deeply Catholic nation.
So, how to shift the people's allegiance to the 'socialist revolution'?
Well, how about making the deceased Chávez god? A group of Venezuelan revolutionaries took the first step toward that this week by replacing the traditional Padre Nuestro (Our Father) with Chávez Nuestro (Our Chávez). The Catholic Church, naturally, criticized the replacement of Christianity's founder and greatest prophet with a failed coup leader and authoritarian president.
Venezuelan Pres. Nicolas Maduro told the 'inquisition' to mind its own business. But, with its sagging economy and soaring inflation and crime rates, Venezuela had better pray to somebody.
With a huge government deficit, the Bolivarian Revolutión has to turn somewhere to fill its fiscal gap. And what better source of financing than a fellow authoritarian petrostate like Russia? And how to stay in Russia's good graces? Try reinterpreting the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which almost all the rest of the world sees as a calculated, violent territorial grab by Russia against its smaller neighbor.
According to the Venezuelanalysis website: Maduro criticized the "threats" made by the United States and Europe, insisting that "Russia defends itself, and is then accused of employing aggressive politics against the West."
"We in Venezuela demand in a clear voice … that those who accuse and accost Russia desist the attack, desist from seeking war with Russia. Peace!"
Yes, why won't those darn war-mongering Westerners quit provoking those peaceful Russian soldiers, tanks and missiles now invading eastern Ukraine?
And Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution long ago declared normal economic laws, such as supply and demand, suspended in revolutionary territory. That's produced the world's highest inflation rate, widespread shortages and huge smuggling economies along the Venezuelan-Colombian border.
Recently, however, the government hinted that it would actually reduce its disastrous gasoline subsidy, which costs Venezuela billions of dollars per year and enriches smugglers. But this week Pes. Maduro seemed to make clear that his government is too afraid of protests to actually charge for gasoline. Instead, it'll continue blaming 'conspirators and coup mongers' for the fact that the country's an economic basket case.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours