Saturday, April 18, 2009

People fueled by greed or lact of intellectual honesty

From distant lands the evaluation of Latin American political leadership is too often made on the basis of grasping the shadows, rather than the substance. The flamboyancy of Hugo Chavez, his aggressive rhetoric, his prodigality with ideological friends, his hatred of the United States, all of this is the shadow.
The substance is that he has pilfered $750 billion in ten years, that the country has been deeply divided along racial and class lines, that all national institutions have been prostituted, that crime and corruption are rampant and that the population is not better off than ten years ago.
Faced with these objective truths Chavez’s fellow travelers, from Ramonet in France to Gott and Carson in the U.K., to Weisbrot, Birns, Sean Penn and Danny Glover in the U.S., to Heinz Dieterich where he might be, prefer to ignore them in order to applaud the shadow, the illusion of a man who is “doing good things for the poor”.
These fellow travelers would not be so despicable if they accepted openly that they let their emotions or their greed prevail over their integrity. But they all claim to be sincerely convinced that a man like Chavez represents a hope for Venezuelans and for humanity.
In doing this they refuse to accept that the man is undemocratic (hasn’t he won several elections? they claim, without seeing that the electoral events are deeply corrupted)), that he pretends to be president for life (why shouldn’t he?), that he only sees corruption among the leaders of the opposition but not among the members of his own family and friends (the biggest gang of thieves in Venezuelan modern history), that he uses national assets a if they were his own (abuse of power).
They do not hear when Chavez says: “I am the only one who can govern Venezuela”, or when he insults political dissidents or the very own political leaders of their countries in Tarzan-like language (“Bush: u ar a donky”).
All of these attitudes do not seem to matter to the fellow travelers, who can only see in him the man who insults the “empire” and gets away with it, the great hope of a vague “socialist” utopia that no one can define.
Aesop’s warning assumed that grasping at the shadow was an involuntary human action. He never suspected that there would be people that would do it consciously, fueled by greed or lack of intellectual honesty.

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