Cuba defined Chávez's career as much as Venezuela did
Fidel Castro's Cuba defined Hugo Chavez's life as much as Chavez's own Venezuela did.
The world will remember Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s speech on Thursday evening as the moment when he announced that he’s being treated for cancer. For Venezuelans, though, the speech was almost as notable for another reason: Perhaps for the first time in 12 years of increasingly personalist rule, we heard the president reading, actually reading, from a prepared text.
It was not easy for me to watch the drama of Tahrir Square; and I cannot imagine that it was easy for any of my fellow Venezuelan exiles to watch, either. To the millions of us who marched our hearts out in the anti-Chávez protests of 2002 and 2003, the sight of those huge, hopeful crowds in Egypt set off an instant shock of recognition. In late 2002, a steady build-up of massive marches—usually numbering in the hundreds of thousands—brought Caracas to a standstill for days on end.
Sunday's parliamentary election in Venezuela saw Chávez's governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela slump to a landslide.
In August 2009, Hugo Chávez drew fire from international watchdog groups for his decision to shut down 34 opposition-minded radio stations and two local TV stations over supposed "administrative infractions." Reporters Without Borders issued a tough communiqué “vigorously condemning the massive closure,” while the Committee to Protect Journalists called the government’s official justification for the move a “pretext to silence independent and critical voices.” And Amnesty International pronounced itself “extremely concerned at the deterioration in freedom of expression in Venezuela.” Similar
Venezuela and Colombia are the original odd-couple of Hemispheric diplomacy. With the former run by a rambunctious socialist autocrat and the latter by a U.S.-aligned hard-right hawk, the two countries have been on a collision course for years. The proximate cause and biggest irritant has long been the Venezuelan government's tacit alliance with FARC, Colombia’s oldest and largest Marxist guerrilla movement. This week, tensions just about boiled over as Colombia presented detailed evidence of Venezuelan collusion with FARC and a smaller rival guerrilla, the ELN.