October 9, 2007

Ernesto Is Not A New Man

Hugo Chavez has decided to direct his socialist crusade at some politically correct targets. He wants Venezuelans to emulate his New Man ideal, a socialist revolutionary ascetic, and he's using tax policy to force them to do so. Taxes on art, cars, tobacco, and liquor aim to price sin out of reach for most of his countrymen:

President Hugo Chavez is on a moral crusade in Venezuela, preaching against vices from alcohol to cholesterol, vowing to curb whisky imports and ordering beer trucks off the street.

His government announced increased taxes on alcohol and tobacco on Monday, and Chavez also plans steep new taxes on luxury items such as fancy cars and artwork.

It's all part of Chavez's efforts to encourage Venezuelans to adopt the psyche of the "New Man," a socialist revolutionary with a monk-like purity of purpose. Chavez often cites the life of Cuba's iconic hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara as an ideal example — and complains that many Venezuelans' values are not up to par. ...

It won't be easy for Chavez to persuade his people to shed their shopping-mall materialism and hard-drinking ways.

"If I drink my bottle of whisky it's because I worked for it. I made the sacrifice and therefore I can drink whatever I want," said shopkeeper Ernesto Gonzalez, 49, who gawked at Hummers and luxury cars at an auto show in Caracas where people sipped draft beer and pina coladas on the showroom floor.

Ernesto has still not comprehended Chavez' brilliance. He works for the Venezuelan Socialist Ideal, not for himself. Therefore, he has sacrificed nothing and done nothing to earn that bottle of whiskey. Neither has he earned a trip to the shopping mall, at least according to the AP's Christopher Toothaker, who denigrates shopping malls for no apparent reason in his report.

No longer will beer trucks ply their trade in Caracas. Beer may now only be sold where Chavez can regulate the sales, which would be in the stores. He threatened to send the National Guard into the streets to confiscate the beer trucks who sell directly to the consumer. They'll probably be busy stopping the Hummer sales as well, since it takes a tank to block the big vehicles.

Other Chavez edicts for Venezuelans:

* Don't douse food with too much hot sauce. Apparently, the New Man has a wimpy tongue.

* Respect speed limits. The New Man does the double-nickel.

* Eat low-cholesterol foods. (Is Mike Bloomberg a New Man?)

* No Barbie dolls for Venezuelan girls. Also, no boob jobs for teenagers.

So what can New Men do for enjoyment? Soon, they can give up their beer and bratwurst for Hugo Chavez' All-Time Hits, a number of songs sung spontaneously which one of his aides compiled from his speeches. Even Chavez gave it a bad review, but at least it's approved. Unfortunately, Venezuelans will probably require large amounts of highly-taxed alcohol to listen to Sing Along With Hugo (Or We'll Lock You Up).


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Comments (42)

Posted by Terrye | October 9, 2007 6:29 AM

What about cocaine? From what I hear, elPresidente for life Hugo has a bit of a habit himself. Is the New Man a junkie?

Posted by Immolate | October 9, 2007 6:40 AM

I refuse to rouse myself to a level of concern over people who allow their national character to be defined by defiance of a super-power that buys their oil but otherwise doesn't care much about what they do--at least not more than any other country we do business with.

It's all high comedy right now, but what the Venezuelans don't realize is that the outcome of socialism is always tragedy, and usually on a grand and blood-soaked scale. Chavez is a clown, but then so was Pennywise in Steven King's "It".

Posted by Captain Ed | October 9, 2007 6:45 AM

The deadlights! The deadlights!

Posted by Jazz | October 9, 2007 7:00 AM

I am SO moving to Venzuala! I'm gonna be a new man!

*breaks into a song and dance

Posted by NoDonkey | October 9, 2007 8:02 AM

Confiscating beer?

Has Chavez no respect for all that is holy?

Time for a counter revolution.

Death to the dictator.

Long live beer!

Posted by newton | October 9, 2007 8:17 AM

Meet the "Nuevo Hombre" ("New Man")... same as the "Viejo Hombre" ("Old Man").


Posted by MarkW | October 9, 2007 8:18 AM

One thing I love about socialists.
They're all about restrictions on what the masses can do. Yet somehow, no matter how stringent the restrictions get, they never seem to apply to those who lead the glorious reveloution.

You can see the same ethic alive and well in this country.

Posted by LarryD | October 9, 2007 8:19 AM

"Christopher Toothaker, who denigrates shopping malls for no apparent reason in his report"

Shopping malls are so plebeian, don't you know.

Seriously, I'd bet that Toothaker sees himself as a member of the elite, and looks down upon shopping malls as frequented by the little people. And beer, only drunk by commoners. And the common folk should leave art to their betters.

Posted by TomB | October 9, 2007 8:21 AM

It is an excellent example of a mad dictator pushing his country to a disaster. Soon will be protests and crude crackdown and we will start to ask how this could have happen?
Time for the Columbia University to invite him to give a speech to share his ideas!

Posted by njcommuter | October 9, 2007 8:43 AM

I'd like to see American Chavez sympathizers accepting these incursions their own lives.

For that matter, I'd like to see the useful idiots who wear Che tee shirts banned from buying them at the shopping mall.

Not one Marxist, Stalinist, or Maoist society has made itself prosperous, healthy, or happy. (The first test: do they have to keep people from leaving?) You'd think people would learn, but the Left succeeds in outlawing or displacing the real teaching of history.

Posted by LouM | October 9, 2007 8:49 AM

Chavez is starting to resemble the Dictator from Woody Allen's "Bananas"--if I remember correctly, one of his edicts was that everyone had to change their underwear every day--and they had to wear them on the outside, "so we can check."

Posted by coldwarrior415 | October 9, 2007 8:49 AM

Seems that every time some idiot, such as Chavez, comes along with this "New Man" tripe, thousands and thousands of citizens die.

"Che" was nothing more than a murderous psychopath, cannonized by Regis Debray and made into the cult figure the kids around here seem to adore...or at least like the cool "Che" T-shirts they chose to wear.

Che was fully and completely in the same vein as Adolf, Dzerzhinky, Trotsky, Stalin and Mao, Pol Pot, Saddam, and so many other sadistic despots and murderers of the past century. [All ruined their economies and drove their people deep back into pre-20th century poverty and ruin along the way.]

The results will be the same. The Left will flock in support of this "New Man" ideal. [where's "dave?"]

Thousands in Venezuela will be summarily executed or unjustly imprisoned, the contagion will boil over to other parts of the region, and when the killing gets large enough, the Left will wring their hands and demand that "something" be done about it.

And the blame for all of it? Bush. The Neo-Cons. Reagan. Anybody who is not on the Left.

Posted by Les Nessman | October 9, 2007 9:07 AM

It's funny reading this:

"...increased taxes on alcohol and tobacco on Monday, and Chavez also plans steep new taxes on luxury items such as fancy cars and artwork.

It's all part of Chavez's efforts to encourage Venezuelans to adopt the psyche of the "New Man," a socialist revolutionary with a monk-like purity of purpose. "

followed by this:

" Posted by njcommuter | October 9, 2007 8:43 AM

I'd like to see American Chavez sympathizers accepting these incursions their own lives. "

Are you kidding? The Lefties have been calling for all of this and more for years now. I really can't tell how Hugo differs from Democrats on most issues.

Posted by viking01 | October 9, 2007 9:26 AM

Sounds like Jimmah "Peanut" Carter's idea of the perfect socialist paradise.

Deep fry the economy, tax the hell out of them then micromanage into oblivion. All they need now is an angry Hillary to teach them to be good little Venezuelans and how to goose-step to Wagner. For the children.

Posted by Rose | October 9, 2007 9:46 AM

Sounds like Chavez has been spending too much time with American Dims (NOT with CUBANS LIKE CHE!!! yes, yes, I know, BEFORE he died!!!)

But which ones? the Hollywood elites, the NYCITY with a DELICATE TONGUE???????

It sure wasn't the SOUTHERN DIMS. THAT is for sure!!! hehehehehehe

Posted by Rose | October 9, 2007 9:59 AM

Posted by Les Nessman | October 9, 2007 9:07 AM
" Posted by njcommuter | October 9, 2007 8:43 AM
I'd like to see American Chavez sympathizers accepting these incursions their own lives. "

Are you kidding? The Lefties have been calling for all of this and more for years now. I really can't tell how Hugo differs from Democrats on most issues.


Hardly the SAME THING for them to be calling for it for OTHERS TO LIVE BY same as Chavez - as seeing them actually have to live it THEMSELVES!

njcommuter said he'd like to see "THE INCURSIONS IN THEIR OWN LIVES!" - NOT "in our country!"

I AGREE! I'd like to see them have to LIVE by their own petard! Somewhere else where it CANNOT POSSIBLY affect Americans and American tax dollars.

Posted by Mikey NTH | October 9, 2007 10:03 AM

Oh wonderful - the New Soviet Man again. These programs to replace the flawed humans we are with better 'supermen' have historically led to the gulag and mass grave. If I were a Venezualan I'd be getting the heck out now.

Posted by BrandonInBatonRouge | October 9, 2007 10:21 AM

The more I look at this, the more I think "Venezuela is Zimbabwe with oil reserves."

Posted by dave | October 9, 2007 10:24 AM

"I'd like to see American Chavez sympathizers accepting these incursions their own lives."

Yes. It is wonderful to live in a country where taxes never increase and we are allowed to drink in the streets. I love America!

Posted by viking01 | October 9, 2007 10:26 AM

"and we are allowed to drink in the streets. I love America!"

Teddy and Patrick Kennedy send their warmest regards.

Posted by dave | October 9, 2007 10:35 AM

“cigarette taxes will rise to 70 percent from 52 percent”

At 70%, cigarette taxes in Venezuela will still be less than in the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Brazil, India, etc:


Cigarette prices in Venezuela are among the lowest in Latin America. See first table here:


As usual, Chavez is demonized for doing nothing different than many other countries. The last Chavez thread demonized him for following the constitution. I guess Chavez has to live by different standards than the rest of the world.

Posted by coldwarrior415 | October 9, 2007 10:39 AM

"I guess Chavez has to live by different standards than the rest of the world."

That's not the point at all.

Chavez can live any way he wishes. Forcing the people of Venezuela to live the way he chooses is an entirely different matter.

Posted by Carol Herman | October 9, 2007 10:46 AM

Here's the reality: IF we let every flea-bitten dictaor drive us to war, we'd be fighting, for no gains at all, ALL of the time.

It's similar to the way harry truman viewed the UN. Over Korea. One country; able to divide America. And, have us doing "stalemate" dances with the russians. TO. NO. AVAIL!

Look! Today! The russians haven't changed one iota. They're still a dreck country to live in. And, wages don't produce Capitalism. With all the math skills inherent in the population at large, it still sucks to be a russian.

And, it sucks even more to be from Venezuela.

Once, of course, SPAIN owned all that territory.

But ya know what? When Zachary Taylor led the battle against the Mexicans; he made a bleak discovery. Instead of finding White people in Mexico, all he saw were Mexicans, and Indians. He decided, then and there, it would be a good thing to live his victory in Mexico City behind him; and he scooted back up to the Rio Grande. Still? We gots lots of territory to call home.

What can venezuela do? Yes. It can be a thorn. It's given playing cards because of the oil. But similar to the arabs, no one there is smart enough to extract this stuff from the ground. And, there's no navy, either. That guarantees shipments.

You'd be surprised how strong we are as a nation; especially when you can't plunk flags on water. We can control a lot of stuff.

While the madmen and despots rob their own poor indians, blind.

How can things change, ahead?

Well, yesterday, InstaPundit put up a link for newspapers. And, their survival statistics are not there. Still, what's missing? When patients get into dire straits, sometimes families decide to pull the plugs on the machinery.

So far? While in the gutter, the newspapers are still attached to income flows from other resources. And, they give full lip to Chavez. Why? Commie's pick the strangest people for their heroes.

Just like they pick the ugliest women to bare their brests. Over the hill, and over age. You'd think there would be better leadership found, somewhere. This just isn't the case.

Posted by dave | October 9, 2007 10:55 AM

"Chavez can live any way he wishes. Forcing the people of Venezuela to live the way he chooses is an entirely different matter."

Chavez raised taxes. This is not "forcing" people to live a certain way. He is not banning alcohol or cigarettes. (Only a repressive nation would ban alcohol, right?). You can say that he is "forcing" people to not drink in the streets. Actually, I do not agree with that, and I would like to be able to drink wherever I want. There are very few countries that allow that, however. I certainly cannot do it here. I do not think that countries that do not allow people to drink in the streets are repressive, however. Do you? Does the US have a repressive government because we cannot drink in the street?

Posted by coldwarrior415 | October 9, 2007 11:07 AM


If Chavez's only fault was his raising taxes on luxury goods, or just forcing street vendors from selling beer, then how cares? Right?

But, looking at Chavez since he arrived on scene, he's done just a teeny bit more than raise taxes or regulate beer. Hell, Adolf made sure the trains ran on time. Or was that Mussolini? Kim Il-song eliminated the handicapped from the streets of P'yongyang, so the city would look like the socialist heaven he envisioned. What's the harm in that? Right?

Guys such as Chavez and Che, et al., are a dime a dozen and all have suffered a little bit (maybe got deposed, maybe got summarily shot...) but their people, the one's they used to feed themselves at an exclusive trough? They suffered a good deal more along the way.

Chavez was, is and will always be a thug. And will maintain power so long as there are those who willingly give him, and guys like him, the benefit of the doubt. After all, he's only raising taxes on luxury goods and prohibiting street vendors from selling beer. No biggie.

Posted by dave | October 9, 2007 11:24 AM

"...he's done just a teeny bit more than raise taxes or regulate beer..."

Then why are there threads about him raising taxes if he is doing so much other bad stuff? The last terrible thing he did that was covered in a CQ thread was to follow the constitution. Actually, virtually all CQ threads about Chavez relate to issues that would be non-issues anywhere else in the world. That is the point. Because Chavez is doing nothing wrong, you need to demonize him for nothing; like raising taxes and not letting people drink in the streets. It's hilarious.

Posted by Jack Okie | October 9, 2007 12:33 PM


If the religious right the Left so fears managed to push through an amendment to the US Constitution that our representatives and senators would be appointed by the US churches, you'd be OK with that, right? Because it would then be 'constitutional'.

Chavez has followed the same template as many before him: Marginalize the opposition, use the mob majority to gut the government institutions, then start restricting civil liberties. You should already know how it works. Why don't you?

Posted by dave | October 9, 2007 1:04 PM

"socialist crusade" -Captain

A recent poll asked Venezuelans what type of socio-economic system they would prefer. Chavez' choice, socialism, received only 24% of the vote. Not very good. Capitalism, the choice of the opposition, received 4% of the vote. Social democracy received 60% of the vote. Since the choice in recent elections has been between socialism and capitalism, I guess many more social democrats prefer socialism to capitalism. Maybe a social democrat can beat Chavez. (But if he doesn't bow down to US interests, he'll still be evil.)


Jack Okie:
"If the religious right the Left so fears managed to push through an amendment to the US Constitution that our representatives and senators would be appointed by the US churches, you'd be OK with that, right? Because it would then be 'constitutional'."

No, I would not be OK with that. But if this ammendment you propose was approved by a majority of US citizens, I would have to accept it. That's part of what it means to live in a democracy, I thought.
The article of the Venezuelan constitution that became the subject of a thread was not quite as outrageous as your example. This was the relevant clause:

"Article 107: Environmental education is obligatory in the various levels and modes of the education system, as well as in informal civil education. Spanish, Venezuelan geography and history and the principles of the Bolivarian thought shall be compulsory courses at public and private institutions up to the diversified cycle level."

This does not sound that awful to me. As a matter of fact, the Venezuelan constitution is the best I've ever seen.

Posted by jobe | October 9, 2007 1:39 PM

Someone has already said it above, however, I am going to add my two cents anyway. This country of Venezuela is Zimbabwe waiting to happen. Unlike Zimbabwe though, the Venozolanos have brought this on themselves. They have given power over to this lunatic who has shown himself ignoant of History, and now they must pay the price. I guess it is "weep not for Argentina" all over again, only this time, there will be no sympathy from the rest of the world.

Posted by dave | October 9, 2007 1:56 PM

Meanwhile, next door in Columbia, the mistress of Pablo Escobar has written a book alleging that Escobar had close ties with Uribe. Uribe got a little mad and claimed that a US reporter was behind the book and its allegations. He was also angry at the reporter for another book that he published alleging ties to organized crime:


Since Uribe's accusations, the reporter has received 24 death threats in the last 3 days, and must now leave the country. BTW, the ties between Uribe and Escobar are real:


But none of this matters, because Uribe is a capitalist. It is much more important to talk about Chavez raising taxes.

Posted by TomB | October 9, 2007 2:30 PM

What about the hot sauces? El-Commandante doesn't like them apparently either (must have lost mano a mano competition, or something). Any idea how to pin THIS on the CIA?

Posted by Tim W | October 9, 2007 3:00 PM


Since the Venezulean constitution is the best you have ever seen, why don't you run along now and do a six month vacation / educational experience and report back to us. Just remember to bring your own food as staples such as meat eggs, flour, etc.. are in limited suppy due to Hugo's brilliant economic policy of price controls that have led to the predicatble shortages and mass inflation. Make sure you leave the hot sauce at home though.

The idea that you think that Chavez has done nothing wrong reveals the true totalitarian nature of yourself and the left. Shutting down TV stations, silencing political opposition, confiscating private property, etc.. are perfectly fine in dave's world.

Posted by Boludo Tejano | October 9, 2007 3:33 PM

Re El Chávez's increasing taxes. All to the good, as it will be a dose of reality. At the same time, El Chávez should stop the following subsidies to the better off.

1) Fourteen cents US per gallon for gasoline.The poor do not own cars, and public transport can be subsidized to compensate for gasoline price increases. Moreover, a lot of that gasoline gets smuggled to Colombia and Trinidad.
2) The various mechanisms whereby better-off Venezuelans can buy dollars at official or below parallel market rates, and then profit by selling the dollars at parallel market rates. Miguel’s Devil's Excrement blog in English has a good discussion of this. Why should the well-off be subsidized?


Certainly Venezuelans could reduce their drinking, and El Chávez is to be commended to try to increase the safety of his fellow Venezuelans by raising taxes and making it harder to purchase beer. Less drinking, fewer auto accidents. Carrie Nation would have appreciated El Chávez . Yet El Chávez does not have his priorities set right. Venezuela has for decades been a nation of drinkers, and it is not likely that drinking has increased that much in the last 9 years. More whiskey, but less beer, perhaps, to correlate with the oil boom.

There is another indication that safety for Venezuelans has decreased in the nine years that El Chávez has been in power: the murder rate. I have seen no indications that El Chávez has any plans for dealing with the increase in the murder rate. According to Wikipedia, the murder rate in Venezuela is now the highest in the world. From Wikipedia, which lists its sources, we find out that the murder rate in Venezuela increased from 22 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1998, the year El Chávez was first elected, to 42 in 2005.

Different sources may come up with slightly different statistics, but the trend is undoubtedly upward. In a cursory examination of one of the sources I came up w 37/100,000 instead of 42, and 19 instead of 22, but got the same rate increase from 98-05 of ~ 1.9.

The Daniel- Venezuela blog, also in English, has good posts on the various proposed changes in the Venezuelan Constitution. Read them and then decide if “the Venezuelan constitution is the best I've ever seen.”

(Google: daniel Venezuela)

BTW, opposition Venezuelans call foreign supporters of El Chávez “Pendejos Sin Frontera.”

Posted by dave | October 9, 2007 3:36 PM

Tim W:

“…remember to bring your own food…”

There were some temporary shortages. The reason for this, however, is that food consumption has soared due to the booming economy. People who previously were unable to buy things such as meat are now able to:

“The national market has in recent months reported shortcomings in the production and distribution of poultry products due to increases in consumption.
In spite of the fact that companies in that sector are working at maximum capacity, and production has gone up 15% this year, it is not sufficient to satisfy the demand of Venezuelan consumers which in turn necessitates imports to make up the shortcomings in the national market.
This year, the production of chicken will reach 900,000 metric tonns and yet still reports a deficit of 8%.
So stated the president of PYMI Poultry, Simon Leal Alfanzo....
Leal explained that this situation is the result of purchasing power, especially that of classes D and E, having gone up 130% in the last three years which has permitted them to increase their consumption of these products.
He also explained that consumption of chicken has gone from 25 kilograms per person per year to 42 kilograms while the demand for eggs has increased from 100 per person per year to 202.”


So the economy is booming under Chavez, which leads to people buying more food, especially foods they could not previously afford, so Chavez is evil. Nice logic.

“mass inflation”

Inflation is near 20% right now. This is high, but it is much lower than it was in any year during the previous 10 years before Chavez took office:


I wonder why Venezuala’s inflation rate of 100% in 1996 got practically no media coverage? Was it because the leader at the time was allowing the US to rape Venezuela? Maybe.

Average income in Venezuela rose 35% last year:


Even with an inflation rate of 20%, that means real income rose 15%. So what was your raise last year after inflation?

"Shutting down TV stations, silencing political opposition, confiscating private property..."

You spew off too much garbage in one post for me to respond to it all...

Posted by dave | October 9, 2007 4:01 PM


Yes, crime is bad. It is increasing, but it has always been bad:

“Former justice minister Fermin Marmol points out that crime was on the rise long before Chavez came to power, evidenced by a homicide rate that has grown steadily over the past two decades. ‘It's a lie to say that this is all Chavez's fault,’ he says. ‘But Chavez has had a lot of opportunities to solve the problems and he hasn't done it.’"
The Toronto Star
July 23, 2006 Sunday
No relief for crime-ridden Caracas
BYLINE: Jens Erik Gould

So what should Chavez be doing about the murder rate that he is not? Can you make an intelligent suggestion without simply calling him a Commie?

“Read them and then decide if 'the Venezuelan constitution is the best I've ever seen.'"

I do not need to read any blog about the changes. I read the proposed changes themselves, and I will stick with the statement. Thanks.

“opposition Venezuelans call foreign supporters of El Chávez 'Pendejos Sin Frontera.'"

That’s impressive.

Posted by eaglewings | October 9, 2007 4:03 PM

I seem to remember that the Soviet Constitution was beautiful about all the rights to be enjoyed by the People. Somehow those rights all seemed to remain on the paper and not put into practice by successive genocidal regimes. The same is true with Venezuela, it may have flowery 'rights' in the new Constitution, but try to enforce them with the courts and law enforcement in the complete control of the dictatocracy of Chavez. As for your belief that the educational amendment doesn't sound too bad, what is your understanding of "Bolivarian" education. It is this propagandizing and cultism and indoctrination that Chavez seeks to infect kids with so they can form the basis of his police state. Hardly innocuous IMHO.

Posted by viking01 | October 9, 2007 4:19 PM

I'm not sure the Lefties can consistently or honestly argue that crime has always been bad. For their objectives.

Weren't the Clintoon crimes of perjury, suborning perjury and boinking the hired help "good" crimes because those were per DNC master puppeteer George Soros / moveon.org only about sex?

The there's the problem of the Chappaquiddick bridge and their honorable Senator from Taxachusetts. Seems he walked over that corpse to greater glory from his worshipful masses.

In a mad-hatter sort of way the loopy left should be joining their beloved Jimmah Carter in his support of buddy Hugo. Maybe Baba Wawa could arrange a heartwarming interview with Ooogo and Fidel.

Posted by fouse, gary c | October 9, 2007 5:55 PM

Che Guevara-The Leftist Saint

Do you ever wonder when you see young men wearing t-shirts with Che Guevara's image on them, if they really know the true history of the revolutionary? Or do they just know that Guevara was a leader in the Cuban Revolution, and that will suffice to make him a hero? Few Communist revolutionaries have been as idealized as Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Wherever you see the far-left, you will find the image of Che, the bearded revolutionary with the beret. Guevara was by all accounts, a brave fighter. Yet many of his latter-day admirers may not be aware that not all of Guevara's victims fell in the heat of battle.

Guevara was actually not a Cuban, rather an Argentine by birth. He was born in 1928 in Argentina and studied medicine during his university years. He took time off from his studies to travel by motorcycle around South America, where he saw much of the poverty that existed on the continent. This, reportedly was his inspiration to become a revolutionary.

After finishing his medical studies, Che left Argentina, first to Guatemala, where he wanted to study the reform policies of President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. In 1954, he went to Mexico, where he made the acquaintance of Fidel and Raul Castro. After becoming a quick convert to Fidel's cause, he joined forces with the Castros, and in 1956, left by boat to Cuba with approximately 80 other Cuban revolutionaries who were intent on overthrowing the brutal and corrupt dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Guevara's initial role was to serve as a medic. However, almost immediately after landing, they were attacked by government troops. Guevara later said that it was during this battle, that he picked up the rifle of a fallen comrade and took on the role as active fighter.

As stated above, Guevara was a brave and ruthless fighter, and took on a commander's role as Castro's army took refuge in the Sierra Maestra Mountains. One of his roles was to carry out executions of suspected informers, deserters and spies.

On January 1, 1959, after a series of reverses, Batista fled Cuba into exile, and Castro achieved the victory of his revolution. Guevara was awarded a series of posts by Castro in the Cuban government. The first was as commander of La Cabana Prison (January-June 1959). In this capacity, Guevara supervised the trials and executions of hundreds of prisoners associated with the Batista regime and Cuban Army. Under Guevara's supervision, trials were nothing more than a "kangaroo court". It is estimated by various sources that from 156-550 prisoners were executed in this manner. Later, he was put in charge of the National Bank of Cuba and the National Institute of Agrarian Reform. He also traveled extensively as Cuba's representative overseas. As part of Castro's program of supporting revolutions in Africa, Guevara traveled to the Congo with Cuban mercenaries in 1965.

In 1967, Guevara was in Bolivia attempting an insurgency in that country. He was captured by Bolivian forces and executed the following day.

So that, in a nutshell, is the life of the man who spawned an entire industry dedicated to glorifying his name and the cause that he served-namely, Communist revolution. Since his death, Guevara has been lionized by the left, by Hollywood, and by many radical professors in US universities, as well as thousands of foolish Europeans who have no clue about problems in the Americas. Never mind the fact that his cause-Communism- has been totally discredited as a political and economic system since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Never mind that he was responsible for at least hundreds of murders and sham executions carried out far from the battlefields. Never mind that weeks after the Cuban missile crisis, Guevara told the Communist British Daily Worker newspaper that, if Cuba had been in control of the missiles, they would have launched those missiles against US cities. Never mind the fact that thousands of Cubans have fled their homeland in rafts to live in freedom in America. Never mind the fact that today, in Cuba, thousands of European tourists flock to the island to enjoy sex with teenage and child prostitutes. (You didn't know that did you?)

There is a web site called "Che Lives". Check it out. It gives the typical glorified account of Che's "fight for justice". In the biography part, there is no mention of Guevara having executed deserters and suspected informers during the revolution. There is no mention of Guevara's running of kangaroo courts and executions of hundreds at La Cabana Prison. No mention of his comments to the British Daily Worker about launching missiles against US cities. If these people are so proud of Che Guevara, why not put it all in there? Why do they hide this part of Guevara's biography?

It is undeniable that during the Cold War, the US cozied up to many dictators throughout Latin America in order to resist Communist encroachment. The odious Fulgencio Batista was one of them. Yet, in recent decades, the US also exerted pressure on Latin American countries to establish true democracies-an effort which has borne fruit. Until a few years ago, Cuba was the only nation in Latin America that could not be called democratic. Now, with Chavez in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia, we see the slow erosion of those successes. However, as we watch Chavez in action-egged on by his ally Castro, it should be obvious that Communist dictatorship is not the answer.

The next time you see someone wearing Guevara's image, you might ask that person just how much he/she knows about the man on the t-shirt.

gary fouse

Posted by dave | October 9, 2007 6:33 PM

“Principles of Bolivarian thought” refers to Simon Bolivar, who fought for independence from Spanish rule. Learning about him and his ideology is no different than Americans learning about the Founding Fathers and what they believed in. Other countries also instill patriotism into their children, you know. What if the Venezuelan constitution stated that “…Spanish, Venezuelan geography and history, and loyalty to the state and national government shall be compulsory…”. Does that sound more or less benign than what I quoted above?

I mention this because in Pennsylvania, the law states that schools will teach "... civics, including loyalty to the State and National Government...". IMO, teaching the ideas of an important historical figure is more benign than specifically teaching children to be loyal to the government. If there is any indoctrination to be found, look in the US first.

You mention Jacobo Arbenz, then you talk about the US spreading democracy in Latin America. What an ass.
Explain to me how Venezuela and Bolivia are not democratic. Did you know that a nation can still be democratic and not vote for who the US wants?

Posted by Boludo Tejano | October 9, 2007 11:56 PM

@ Dave
"Principles of Bolivarian thought” refers to Simon Bolivar, who fought for independence from Spanish rule. Learning about him and his ideology is no different than Americans learning about the Founding Fathers and what they believed in.

Here is my translation of a paragraph of Simón Bolivar’s Angostura Discourse of 1819.

The continuation of the same individual in a position of authority frequently has been the end of democratic governments. Repeated elections are essential in popular systems, because nothing is as dangerous as letting the same citizen remain in power for a long time. The people get accustomed to obey him, and he gets accustomed to command them; this is where usurpation and tyranny originate. A vigilant guardianship is the guarantee of the liberty of a republic, and our citizens should fear with good reason that the same magistrate, who governed for a long time, will govern perpetually.

Do you really believe that El Chávez is going to let Venezuelan schoolchildren learn THAT paragraph of Bolivarian Thought? If you do , I am sure I can sell you a certain Bridge in Brooklyn.
The antipatrioticvenezuelan blog has a very good article on the issue of children being taught in school what is not supported in the home. Read it, if you dare. It has nothing to do with Founding Fathers.
If you are so certain about the greatness of the proposed changes to the Venezuelan Constitution, then share your thoughts with the Venezuelans at Daniel Venezuela etc. I am sure you will enlighten them.

Posted by Boludo Tejano | October 10, 2007 10:00 AM

@ Dave
"Principles of Bolivarian thought” refers to Simon Bolivar, who fought for independence from Spanish rule. Learning about him and his ideology is no different than Americans learning about the Founding Fathers and what they believed in. ….Explain to me how Venezuela and Bolivia are not democratic .

In January the legislature passed an enabling law, giving El Chávez the power to enact his own legislation for 18 months. The power of the executive and the legislative branches, all in one person. Not to mention the packed court.

Who else had an enabling law to use? None other than Adolf Hitler. Tell us how democratic HE was.

Here Simón Bolívar spoke before the Celebrated Assembly in Caracas on January 2,1814. (my translation)

Flee from the country where one person exercises all the powers. It is a country of slaves.

Will Hugo let Venezuelan school children learn THAT Bolivarian statement? When anti- Chávez demonstrators carried a banner with a similar quote from Simón Bolívar , the policemen confiscated the banner.

If El Chávez is such a democrat, then consider his friends. Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell who you are.(I have located the sources, but CQ is not HTML friendly, so I am not including them)

I feel I have met a brother and trench mate after meeting Chávez." -Ahmadinejad on Chávez
"You are and always will be a true freedom warrior." -Chávez on Mugabe
"...he's a brother..." -Chávez on Saddam
"...a friend and brother." -Chávez on Qaddafi
"We have the same political vision." Chavez on Bashar Al-Assad.
"I am only a soldier in this battle. Fidel is our president. If we had to name a president of the world with enough powers to set it right, it would be Fidel. I believe in one decade he could set the world right." -Chávez on Fidel Castro

If Hugo is such a democrat, then why such friendship with such enemies of democracy? Why such friendship with such MONSTERS?

As regards Bolivia, it has a long history of disregard for rule of law, of taking the law into one’s own hands. Coups. Roadblocks. Mobs surrounding public officials. Burning down public buildings. Morales did not begin this- it has been part of the Bolivian body politic from the beginning- but he and his followers AND the opposition have certainly continued on in this vein. How many countries have a fist fight in the legislative chamber? Bolivia had one this summer.

Posted by dave | October 10, 2007 11:44 AM

I notice you have no suggestions about how Chavez can reduce the murder rate. You blame him for not stopping a trend that has been happening for two decades, but then cannot say how to stop it. Maybe this is because it is not something that can be reversed by flicking a switch, and may not be the result of a particular president’s leadership, but part of larger societal problems. But let’s just blame Chavez.

I do not know if the Angostura Discourse will be read in the schools. If it is, and the paragraph you quote has been removed, then let me know. There are many opportunities for Chavez to be removed from power. Every three years, at present. Personally, I don’t have a problem with no term limits. It is OK for Australia, the UK, France, etc. If you don’t like it, don’t vote for it.

I “dared” to skim the article at antipatrioticvenezuelan blog about the niece’s schoolbook. If the article is accurate, I agree that the Bush cartoon is unnecessary. I also think it falls short of mind control. I was taught things in school that were completely untrue and deliberately misleading. A cartoon about Bush being concerned about Venezuela only because it has oil is unnecessary, but very arguably is also the truth. Do you deny it? Then he complains that the Social Studies section only gives a shallow concept of democracy by only saying that it is a “government of the people” and it’s the best form of government, but that it doesn’t say enough about the vote or about power separation. This book is for his 11 year old niece! Books at this level do not go into much detail about how governments work. Grow up.

”Who else had an enabling law to use?”

Carlos Andres Perez in 1973
Jaime Lusinchi in 1984
Ramon Jose Velasquez in 1993

But I am sure you complained about a dictatorship in those instances as well…

So about half of the 18 month period of the enabling law is now over. Tell me what law Chavez has passed in this time that you do not like.

I went to your Daniel Venezuela blog as well. A little better than the first, at least. In one thread he talks about the changes to Article 16, claiming that Chavez is setting up two competing government structures. Chavez is setting up a power structure that allows the “popular power” from article 70 (which is ignored by the thread) an avenue to exercise power. This, IMO, is one of the best parts of the constitutional reform measures. I am all for giving power directly to the people. Also, the new article says that Federal Provinces that are created “will incorporate by aggregating either States or Municipalities, *without undercutting the attributions that this Constitution grants them.*” I do not see this as creating competing power structures.

You like to quote Bolivar. Here’s one:

“The United States appears to be destined by providence to plague America with misery in the name of freedom.”

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