Chavez, Ahmadinejad and the new “Missile Crisis”
By: Alejandro Peña Esclusa
On January 6, 2009, Hugo Chávez expelled the Israeli ambassador in Venezuela. Immediately after, the terrorist group Hamas publicly congratulated the “courageous step taken by the Venezuelan president.” Three weeks later, after repeated anti-Semitic speeches by Venezuelan officials, the Tiferet Israel synagogue in Caracas was brutally desecrated. The perpetrators were later caught by the police, but they were undoubtedly encouraged by the official discourse.
These facts are not coincidental. They are the natural result of the many political and economic agreements signed between Chávez and the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who promised to “wipe Israel off the face of Earth“. One might ask: Why this strange alliance between a Venezuelan Marxist lieutenant colonel and a Iranian fundamentalist leader?
Despite the myth of Chávez’s allegedly popular support, the truth is that he remains in power due to electoral fraud, the buying of consciences, the repression against his opponents, and generalized fear. Chavez knows very well that, due to the collapse of oil prices, he will soon face a very difficult situation, characterized by inflation, unemployment and hunger.
In the middle of the economic crisis, Venezuelans will demand tangible results, that Chavez won’t be able to provide. In addition, they will blame him -having managed the largest budget in Venezuelan history- for not having taken the appropriate steps to protect Venezuela from the crisis; and for wasting billions of dollars in his continental revolution. So he we will resort to illegal repression, to prevent the population from participating in massive justified protests.
However, the Venezuelan militaries are not willing to kill innocent people and to commit crimes against humanity, just to protect Chávez. The official paramilitary forces are not sufficiently prepared. And the Colombian narco-terrorist groups (FARC) are unable to defend their friend Chavez because they are being dismantled by the Uribe government. Therefore, Chávez needs an additional strike force capable of containing popular discontent and secure him in power.
In 1962, Fidel Castro experienced a similar situation. Despite having defeated his opponents in the Bay of Pigs, Castro was weakened and worried. The solution he found to his dilemma was to provide the Cuban territory for the placement of Soviet nuclear missiles, pointed to the United States. As a result of the “Missile Crisis”, an agreement was reached between Kennedy and Khrushchev which, among other things, allowed Castro to remain in power until today.
Fidel Castro’s apprentice Hugo Chávez learned the lesson well. He just replaced the twentieth century Soviet threat for the twenty-first century modern menace: Islamic fundamentalism. Chavez is providing the Venezuelan territory to Middle Eastern terrorist groups, not only to help him defend his revolution inside the country, but as powerful deterrent against his international adversaries.
Chavez has exported his evil strategy, opening the doors for his “brother” Ahmadinejad in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, where the governments have also signed economic and political agreements with Iran. If this madness is not soon stopped, there will be another “Missile Crisis”, but this time involving the whole continent.
(*) President of UnoAmerica and author of the book The São Paulo Forum: A Threat to Freedom in Latin America