August 19, 2004

Comrade Chavez "Owns" Venezuela

Comrade Hugo Chavez and his gun-toting goons think if they win an election it's okay to murder the opposition. Those comparing him to Chile's Salvador Allende, stop. The number of people killed by Allende's government reached a grand total of zero. (Not that such a statistic absolves Allende from any other criticism, but this difference is a rather critical one.)

When Comrade Chavez says he is running Venezuela on the Cuban model and not the Chilean, he's serious.

Here is Thor L. Halvorssen in the WSJ's Opinion Journal today.

CARACAS, Venezuela--On Monday afternoon, dozens of people assembled in the Altamira Plaza, a public square in a residential neighborhood here that has come to symbolize nonviolent dissent in Venezuela. The crowd was there to question the accuracy of the results that announced a triumph for President Hugo Chávez in Sunday's recall referendum.

Within one hour of the gathering, just over 100 of Lt. Col. Chávez's supporters, many of them brandishing his trademark army parachutist beret, began moving down the main avenue towards the crowd in the square. Encouraged by their leader's victory, this bully-boy group had been marching through opposition neighborhoods all day. They were led by men on motorcycles with two-way radios. From afar they began to taunt the crowd in the square, chanting, "We own this country now," and ordering the people in the opposition crowd to return to their homes. All of this was transmitted live by the local news station. The Chávez group threw bottles and rocks at the crowd. Moments later a young woman in the square screamed for the crowd to get down as three of the men with walkie-talkies, wearing red T-shirts with the insignia of the government-funded "Bolivarian Circle," revealed their firearms. They began shooting indiscriminately into the multitude.

A 61-year-old grandmother was shot in the back as she ran for cover. The bullet ripped through her aorta, kidney and stomach. She later bled to death in the emergency room. An opposition congressman was shot in the shoulder and remains in critical care. Eight others suffered severe gunshot wounds. Hilda Mendoza Denham, a British subject visiting Caracas for her mother's 80th birthday, was shot at close range with hollow-point bullets from a high-caliber pistol. She now lies sedated in a hospital bed after a long and complicated operation. She is my mother.

In a jarringly similar attack that took place three years ago, the killers were caught on tape and identified as government officials and employees. They were briefly detained--only to be released and later praised by Col. Chávez in his weekly radio show. Their identities are no secret and they walk the streets as free men, despite having shot unarmed civilian demonstrators in cold blood.

There's plenty more where that came from. Follow the link. I don't have much more to say about this because I've been saying it for the past week.

(Hat tip: Fellow Portland blogger Mellow-Drama.)

UPDATE: Another fellow Portland blogger Sean LaFreniere found some evidence of vote fraud in Venezuela, and the International Herald Tribune found plenty more, too. Please read and follow the links before saying "Jimmy Carter said everything was fine" and thinking that should be the end of the story.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 19, 2004 11:05 AM
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