Hey! Remember how the Venezuelan opposition used to snipe at Chavecito for being a former military officer, calling him a “dictator”, even though he was democratically elected (and re-elected, and so on, and so on) as a civilian? Remember how they used to squall under his extremely lenient rule about all the “censorship” and “repression” there was not? Remember how ironic that was? Well, get ready, because here comes Rafael Poleo — opposition propagandist, media owner, soi-disant “journalist”, and all-around poor excuse for a human being, laying a big steaming pile of smelly brown irony all over the place:
So what does that mean? Let me translate:
General Videla was not a soldier who sold food. He was born of a breed of warriors that began with the independence of the Republic of Argentina. When his country was on the verge of falling into the hands of Montonero and ERP terrorists, he took on the tremendous responsibility of leading the dirty war which the terrorists were winning. General Videla won that dirty war by applying the hard formulas of his military office. Who knows what would have happened if the military had lost that war. (During a meeting of the Socialist International in Caracas in 1975, [Rómulo] Betancourt said that military men don’t always take power because of ambition and avarice, but because often they are rescuing it from the river where the politicians let it fall. When Betancourt died, the brave generals who defeated Russo-Cuban intervention under his command asked for permission to wear their old uniforms. Thus attired, they were the ones to carry the casket and bury the great man.)
This bit of diarrhea was occasioned by the recent death of the ex-dictator of Argentina, ex-general Jorge Rafael Videla. In it, the irony-impaired Rafael Poleo not only praises a real, unelected, antidemocratic military dictator and human rights abuser, he shits all over the grave of an elected, humanistic and extremely popular socialist president.
One of the first things Chavecito did when he came to power in 1999 was send the army out to help the people, not to repress them. Under Plan Bolívar, soldiers sold food at affordable prices in poor neighborhoods. This pissed off the well-to-do shopkeepers, the same who had occasioned the Caracazo ten years earlier by hoarding food and then telling those same poor folks that there wasn’t any. And when those poor Venezuelans put the dirty lie to that by breaking into the back rooms where the hoarded food was being kept to be sold at inflated prices, and simply taking it, the then-president, Carlos Andrés Pérez, sent the army out to repress them. The death toll from those five days of rioting and repression was in the thousands.
It was this that spurred Chavecito and his Bolivarian army buddies to rise up against CAP three years later, after a clandestine recruitment drive that drew disgruntled officers from all branches of the Venezuelan military. None of them could bear the shame of being repressors in a nominally democratic country, under a presumably elected president.
Bolívar once said: “Cursed is the soldier who turns his weapons on his own people.” The 1992 uprising, despite its failure, was meant to expiate that curse. As was Plan Bolívar, in which the military was placed at the service of the people, rather than as mere bodyguards to capitalists and their political lackeys.
And the Argentine junta were nothing if not bodyguards to the international capitalists. Under them, Argentina became Milton Friedman’s wet dream, and the corpses of 30,000 “disappeared” dissidents a small price to pay for free-market “reforms”. The bulk of that repression took place under General Videla’s iron fist. Never elected, never under the faintest illusion of being a democrat, the pious hypocrite Videla did not “rescue” Argentina from the socialist Montoneros and the ERP; he turned it into a human slaughterhouse. There was literally no atrocity of which he and his torturers, repressors and co-conspirators were not guilty.
And in the end, Videla proved Bolívar’s axiom correct. He died accursed, on the floor of the washroom of his cell in the Marcos Paz penitentiary, a convicted murderer, baby-thief and criminal against humanity. His death was as undignified as can be imagined; he was stricken with diarrhea and on his way to the toilet at the time. Karma took a flying dump all over his dogma.
And this is the man Rafael Poleo chose to praise and eulogize. Along with the long-dead, unlamented Rómulo Betancourt, who stole his way to power via the reviled Punto Fijo pact, and who waged a dirty war of his own against Venezuelan leftists, who had been shut out of participation in the elections, and some of whom had taken to the hills as guerrillas, after the fashion of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Venezuelan leftists disappeared, were tortured and killed, and thrown in the sea, more than ten years before the Argentine junta seized power, with Videla as de facto “president” (note the quotes). One corpse, that of PCV director Alberto Lovera, washed up on the beach at Puerto La Cruz, badly bloated and disfigured, but with chains still attached:
That was in 1965, seven years after the last military dictator of Venezuela was deposed. And Lovera’s death, along with hundreds of others, was a direct legacy of Rómulo Betancourt, the so-called “Father of Venezuelan democracy”. Betancourt, like all the other Punto Fijo Pact beneficiaries, was only nominally a democrat, and only nominally elected. And he, like all of them, knew it…and took extreme measures to make sure that no serious challenges to his leadership could ever come from the left. There was literally nothing that they would not stoop to, from Betancourt on down, in the name of preserving a “free market” capitalist “democracy” (again, note the quotes).
This is what Rafael Poleo was praising and eulogizing when he called Betancourt a “great man” and his hated, crooked military yes-men “brave generals”. This ugliness, this rot, this repression, this medieval torture.
And yet he probably would not hesitate to ascribe all these horrors and more to Chavecito, who was out of uniform for five full years at the time of his first election of many, with a clear majority and a popular mandate. Never mind that Chavecito never did anything of the sort, and indeed went to great lengths to undo the damage that Betancourt and his successors had done. Not to mention that he helped Néstor Kirchner, and later his widow, Cristina Fernández, rescue Argentina from the clutches of the IMF…the same that was all too enthused about General Videla and his ilk.
The mind boggles, does it not?