If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, I’ll Deport You

To say that Hugo Chavez has a thin skin qualifies as an understatement. The Venezuelan dictator has announced that any foreigner who criticizes him insults the “national dignity” and will be forcibly removed from the country:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has vowed to expel foreigners who publicly criticise him or his government.
“No foreigner can come here to attack us. Anyone who does must be removed from this country,” he said during his weekly TV and radio programme.
Mr Chavez also ordered officials to monitor statements made by international figures in Venezuela.

This outburst came after Mexican politician Manuel Espino, head of the National Action Party that controls the government, spoke at a pro-democracy conference in Caracas. Did he call Chavez a tyrant? Implore Venezuelans to conduct a coup d’etat? Espino didn’t do either; he pointed out that Chavez’ plan to end term limits on the presidency would turn him into a Presidente-for-life and undermine democracy.
For this unforgivable sin of pointing out the obvious, Chavez has decided to expand the police state. Not only will foreigners get expelled for voicing criticism of Chavez, the dictator wants his security forces to monitor them constantly just in case tourists get crabby in Caracas. It promises to become a Gestapo-like regime, where every little complaint gets reviewed by police to determine whether it offends to the point of deportation.
And if Venezuelans think this system will only affect foreign visitors, they will be fooling themselves. Chavez’ paranoia will not limit itself to foreigners, who wouldn’t be his biggest threat in any case. When calling the dictator a tyrant becomes a crime against the state, the law will not apply to non-citizens alone.
Chavez is well on his way to making Venezuela another Cuba, and perhaps even worse. The cult of personality has already begun under his dictatorship, and is history is any guide, it will get worse in a short period of time. Venezuela looks set to become the Turkmenistan of South America, and Chavez its new Turkmenbashi. And if anyone wants to travel to Venezuela, they’d better develop a case of laryngitis first.
UPDATE: This may not be the most disturbing story out of Venezuela today. Sean Hackbarth notes that Chavez is expanding his petroleum monopoly into all sorts of other ventures, squeezing out private enterprise in the meantime:

Petróleos de Venezuela, the state oil company that controls the biggest reserves in South America, may begin making shoes, building ships and farming soybeans as President Hugo Chavez widens the government’s role in the economy.
Chavez has approved the creation of seven subsidiaries that range from oil services to agriculture, according to a written report to the company’s management.
The plan would make PDVSA an even bigger force in the country’s daily life and put it in competition against companies from around the world.
PDVSA already controls the oil production that accounts for 90 percent of Venezuelan foreign trade and about half of government revenue. The effort to expand may siphon off managers and capital, hobbling efforts to reverse a slide in energy production.
“Having more of the economy under one roof, you’re more and more vulnerable,” said Robert Bottome, an analyst at Caracas-based research company Veneconomia. “The state is taking over everything. Maybe that wouldn’t be a bad idea if they knew what they were doing.” Declining oil output “suggests they don’t know what they’re doing,” he said.

He knows what he’s doing when it comes to imposing a dictatorship. That seems to be the extent of his talent.

28 thoughts on “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, I’ll Deport You”

  1. Why shouldn’t Chavez do this? Especially to a Mexican. From the Mexican Constitution:
    Foreigners may not in any way participate in the political affairs of the country.

  2. “Foreigners may not in any way participate in the political affairs of the country.” Ok, let’s run with this idea for a second.
    Question: What exactly does “participate” mean? And who exactly decides what “participate” means? Senor Chavez? Or someone or some institution in his control?
    Question: What exactly are “political affairs”?
    Question: Who exactly are “Foreigners”? Can a citizen possibly be declared a “foreigner” for some obscure and trivial reason when it suits the convenience of the regime?
    I wonder whether or not Senor Espino understands that since he comes from a country whose constitution contains such a silliness, he carries that silliness with him wherever he goes and can never be free from it?
    And once again, eternally always, who decides?
    Just asking.

  3. gahrie, just substitute Bush for Chavez and I bet you’d get your panties in a wad.

  4. The Venezuelan public had better start checking Chavez now or their free democracy will be no more. Amazingly, that populace may have already tipped the scale to an autocratic rule with tyrannical oppression just around the corner. The future there looks bleak… already.

  5. Chavez shouldn’t deport them.
    He should just declare them “enemy combatants” and put them in Gitmo.
    Or, wait, did you say Chavez instead of Bush?
    Well, “my bad”.

  6. Um, continuum, that is a total non sequitur. Just so you know, there is a huge difference between criticizing a country’s leader and taking up arms to kill that country’s people.

  7. Chavez talks on live TV for 6 hours every Sunday, and some countries are glued to it watching for anything they can use to demonize him with. So Chavez gets pissed off at Espino and makes a stupid comment. So what. The reality is that this is not going to happen. No one will be kicked out of the country for criticizing Chavez. If that happens, I’ll donate a thousand dollars to the Captains website.
    A while back, the Captain was worried about Chavez not letting RCTV broadcast over cable or satellite, saying “Cable seems problematic, as Chavez can probably keep providers from carrying the new station.”
    You can all rest easy. RCTV is back on the air on cable.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6295118.stm

  8. As to rounding up dissidents and throwing them into prison (or Gitmo)…I haven’t seen Cindy Sheehan or others frog marched down there. The ability to criticize the government in this country is alive and well despite the paranoia.
    Also, I’m not sure why anyone would criticize the Mexican constitution for disallowing foreigners to participate in the political process. We require certain things to be able to vote in this country and while a foreign national may visit and even express his or her opinions, true participation is open only to citizens.

  9. Outstanding! He just saved every American the cost of a round-trip ticket to Caracas. Buy one-way, and then chalk slogans on the sidewalk…

  10. From the comments here, I would conclude that many have only recently become aware of the issues of Chavez and Venezuela. While the following portal is no longer being updated, the blog links are current. I especially recommend Devil’s Excrement and Venezuela News and Views.
    http://venezuelatoday.pixelriders.net/
    Here is one statistical review – of many- of potential fraud in the 2004 recall referendum:
    http://blogs.salon.com/0001330/categories/rrModels/

  11. Hugo Chavez Consolidating Power

    The self-proclaimed revolutionary Hugo Chavez is using the national oil company to gobble up more and more of Venezuela’s economy placing greater control in the authoritarian’s hands:
    Petróleos de Venezuela, the state oil company that cont…

  12. The pot calls the kettle black. How many countries has Chavez visited with the intent of insulting sitting oficials? I can think of two (the US and UK)

  13. From the comments, I gather that many of the readers of this blog have only recently become aware of the issues of Chavez and Venezuela. I recommend the blogs in the following portal for those interested in learning more about Venezuela and Chavez. While this portal is no longer being updated, the links are nearly all still good. Devil’s Excrement and Venezuela News and Views are recommended.
    http://venezuelatoday.pixelriders.net/

  14. “I’m not sure why anyone would criticize the Mexican Constitution for disallowing foreigners from participating in the political process. We require certain things to be able to vote in this country and while a foreign national may visit and even express his or her opinions, true participation is open only to citizens.”
    That’s just fine JC, just as long as we all agree on the definition of the phrase “in any way participate”. What if the government were to define the phrase as to include making a speech or even having a spirited discussion at a cocktail party or reception? Or how about assisting voter registration or observing polls, or how about transporting legal voters to legitimate polling places? How about responding to an interviewer from a public media source in a way critical of the government?
    As I posted above JC, its all about what exactly those phrases are taken to mean and as always, who decides what they mean.
    We all know what we mean when we use the term “participate”, and we have the luxury of thinking it a normal part of common usage and therefore fairly innocuous. Mexico however, has apparently written it into its Constitution and that fact means that the word’s definition has to be pressed to its borders. Taking a word out of common usage and writing it into a Constitution suddenly gives it power and requires that it be used with a niggling and lawyerly precision. Fuzzy misuse could now conceivably mean life and death!
    I’m glad its their Constitution and not ours. We already have enough problems, Thank You very much.

  15. El estado es yo!

    Venezuelan tin-pot dictator President Hugo Chavez has just issued a decree that would make the Sun King proud: any foreigner criticizing the government or Chavez himself will be expelled immediately. “No foreigner can come here to attack us. Anyone who

  16. By the way, it doesn’t seem likely that Venezuela will remain an oil exporting country.
    “Venezuela has also gone bonkers. No two ways about it: by taking the socialist route and the anti-technology view towards the petro-economy, Chavez is ruining the entire system. Future projects going on hold or being cancelled are the death knell for a system that requires expansive forward capacity to keep exports stable. Stop running and the treadmill flips you off the end of it. By trying to bribe the population, allow Iran to get a terrorist base of operations and legitimacy in South America, and by buying Soviet and Chinese military hardware, he is using short term-profits to little good long-term effect. …”

  17. “Or, wait, did you say Chavez instead of Bush?
    Well, “my bad”.
    Posted by: Continuum at July 23, 2007 7:50 AM”

    Continuum,
    If President Bush were to emulate Chavez, as you seem to be implying, them most, if not all, illegal immigrants and their supporters would be rounded up and deported as they are extremely critical of America’s rejection of the recent immigration bill. I don’t see that happening, do you?

  18. Chavez’s recent “proclamation” is just another step in the transformation of a democracy into a dictatorship. Unlike past governments which turned in dictatorships, this one is occurring in the full view of the international public and is not being shielded by a press blackout at the behest of Chavez despite his best efforts to extinguish any critical review of his policies. This, if anything, shows the power of today’s global communication and information systems, like the Internet, which allows for the kind of transparency in government that is the cornerstone of liberty and freedom of oppression. It is regrettable that this transparency will not help the Venezuelan people much.
    As a child, I use to hear chants of “The Whole World Is Watching!” during protests of the Vietnam war. In this case, the whole world really is watching, but it is apparent that most of the world has little interest in preventing the rise of yet another tyrannical government. The world should be ashamed of itself.

  19. I was reading my local newspaper (Diario de Hoy) over coffee, where I discovered that Chavez has decided to take on the only challenger really worthy of his attention, God. The organized churches, particularly the Catholic church, have gone public with their concerns over the politics of Chavez. The Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez declared in a Diario de Hoy interview that Chavez is “blind, deaf and believes himself a god.” Chavez’s response has been to accuse the Catholic hierarchy of being “lost” and advising them to take the road of “liberation theology.” Things are going to get a lot more entertaining – apologies to the Venezuelans – in the Chavez Circus before his final pratfall.

  20. True, Lew, although without knowing how Mexico defines “participation,” we don’t have a context to put the phrase into. After all, look at the “spirited debates” over the 1st, 2nd and 4th amendments in this country.
    We are not talking about Mexico, though, or shouldn’t be. In a supposed democracy, preventing the expression of contrary opinions – at a conference on democracy of all things – is perhaps a sign that things are not as advertised.

  21. “Chavez is expanding his petroleum monopoly into all sorts of other ventures, squeezing out private enterprise in the meantime” -Captain
    I don’t understand how he is “squeezing out” private enterprise. He is doing absolutely nothing to private enterprise. He is merely competing with private enterprise with state owned businesses. I thought competition was a good thing. If Chavez “doesn’t know what he is doing”, then his shoe business will not be able to compete with the private competition, and it will go out of business.

  22. enjoy the entertainment while it lasts. at some point in the not to distant future–years not decades like castro, chavez will be hanging from a tree in a zocalo.

  23. @ Dave:
    I thought competition was a good thing. If Chavez “doesn’t know what he is doing”, then his shoe business will not be able to compete with the private competition, and it will go out of business.
    Because Chavez has free access to PDVSA oil money, he will throw money at whatever he wishes, including a govt. owned shoe business, regardless of whether the shoe business can compete or not.
    Venezuela is a real country with real people. If you can take the time to post a comment, please take the time to learn more about Venezuela. Investigate the web portal and blogs recommended above.

  24. “He is merely competing with private enterprise with state owned businesses.”
    Chavez did not compete with private enterprise like the oil oil industry in Venezuela. Chavez used his power of office to nationalize that industry. In other words, he simply seized control of privately owned and operated businesses and that is not what ANYONE could call competition.

  25. Pat Neid,
    I wish you were right but on this one I think you’re overly optimistic. It is just as likely that Chavez will be around for a long time…thanks mostly to “American” commie shyster tyrant wannabees like “dave”.

  26. Boludo Tejano:
    “has free access to PDVSA oil money”
    A running theme is that oil production is continuously dwindling, because Chavez’ “cronies” don’t know how to pump oil. (I wonder how he is able to hide this, given that he has contracts with other nations to supply a given amount of oil, and also simultaneously needs to satisfy a rapidly growing demand at home, given that car sales are through the roof as a result of Venezuela’s booming economy). So production is supposedly down by at least a third, but whenever an argument is needed as to why Venezuela’s economy is doing so well or why his state owned company may be able to compete with private ones, or how he is able to finance all his missions, then you turn around and say he is drowning in oil money. You can’t have it both ways. Even though oil prices are up, constantly dwindling production would have to counteract that. So what is it? How is he getting all this oil money in the face of production dwindling to nothing?
    Yes, I keep up with the opposition news. Do you also read both sides of issues? You bring up long discredited conspiracy theories about the recall referendum. Do you read papers such as this one as well?:
    http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/venezuela_2004_09.pdf
    Your statistical analysis all rely on correlations, or lack thereof, with the referendum votes with either the “Si” votes before the election, or with polling data gathered by the infamous Penn, Schoen, and Berland company. Any lack of correlation may certainly indicate a problem, but the problem is with the fraud involved in the collection of signatures and the fraud involved with P,S and B. Not with the election itself. That is why the Carter center and the OAS and the EU have all certified the elections. Why does a president with 71% approval ratings need to fix an election? I know, the ratings are also rigged. Datanalysis also reports similar approval ratings, and it is run by an opposition member.
    Ray:
    “Chavez used his power of office to nationalize that industry.”
    The oil industry was nationalized in the 1970’s. Chavez merely increased the percentage of ownership.
    “In other words, he simply seized control of privately owned and operated businesses and that is not what ANYONE could call competition.”
    He did not seize control of the oil industry. He did buy out power and telecommunication companies such as AES, but he paid a fair price. Paying 20% over market value is not “seizing”.
    Anyway, I was speaking of the new shoe business the Captain brought up in the Update. He, he is not seizing or buying out anything. He is competing with private business.
    Swabjockey:
    “thanks mostly to “American” commie shyster tyrant wannabees like “dave”
    People like me have little to do with why Chavez will be around a while. Chavez will be around a long time because Venezuelan people want him to be, and because the US is to busy getting their ass kicked elsewhere to be able to force a change in Venezuela through violence. (Unless the US assasinates him, which would backfire worse than Iraq).

  27. Ray:
    Some reality regarding the oil “takeover”:
    “Despite Chavez’s virulent anti-Americanism and ceaseless talk of “oil sovereignty,” even Venezuela’s tough new terms are better than those offered by other oil-producing countries with closer political ties to the U.S. After all, Venezuela will continue to permit private companies an ownership stake in exploration and production projects — something prohibited by Mexico and Saudi Arabia.”
    http://www.usatoday.com/money/world/2007-04-04-venezuela-1b-usat_N.htm
    Also:
    “But the truth — one that both Chavez and his archfoe, the Bush Administration, would prefer you not know — is that when it comes to oil nationalization, Hugo is hardly the most radical of his global peers. In fact, even after today’s petro-theatrics, Chavez is just catching up with the rest of the pack.”
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1616644,00.html

  28. @ Dave:
    What I originally responded to is, his shoe business will not be able to compete with the private competition, and it will go out of business.
    Regarding your copious reply to my comment about Chavez’ free spending, you put words into my mouth. I made no statements whatsoever about the sustainability of Venezuela’s oil production. I referred to the free spending and lack of financial accountability of the Chavez government. That statement would be rather difficult to refute. Would el Chavez pull the plug on a money-losing government business, shoe or otherwise? Show me where he has.
    Regarding “long discredited” statistical analyses of the 2004 recall referendum, while I disagree with you, I will not belabor the point. I will point you to an article in the December 2006 issue of International Statistics Review, published by the International Statistics Institute in the Netherlands. As the article has been peer-reviewed, its content has been affirmed, not “discredited.” I have not found anything in the article about exit polls nor about comparing the referendum vote to the recall petitions. The ISI website gives only an abstract, so here is the whole article.
    http://www.vcrisis.com/index.php?content=letters/200702221623
    Chavez will be around a long time because Venezuelan people want him to be.
    The Venezuelans I have worked and talked with in the US have no love for el Chavez.Como me dijeron, la corrupción es peor que antes de 1998, y antes no era escasa.
    Regarding the alleged great accomplishments in health and education of el Chavez, UNESCO refutes Chavista claims of illiteracy being eliminated. World Bank data shows that the reduction in infant mortality for Venezuela during the Chavez era is about average compared with the rest of Latin America.

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