Chavez’ intolerance provokes rupture with Mexico

November 14, 2005

(picture taken from Tal Cual)

So,
yesterday President Chavez proceeded to insult Mexican President
Vicente Fox, escalating the friction between the two countries to
unparalleled levels and inducing both countries to recall their
respective Ambassadors and de facto breaking relations between the two
countries. Curiously Venezuela breaks relations with the Latin American country that has maintained relations with Cuba for the longest time since Fidel Castro assumed power forty seven years ago.

Yesterday’s words by Chavez were once again personal insults against Fox, repeating those that Chavez had made a few days ago. Then, in a nationwide speech Chavez called Fox “a puppy of the US”, who was left “bleeding through his wounds” at the Mar del Plata summit and “was giving himself up to the US”. The new insults
repeated the charge that Fox was bleeding through his wounds and Chavez
threatened Fox directly using a local song saying essentially: “if you
start trouble with me, I will prickle you”

Chavez personalized the attacks both times, making it impossible for the Mexican Government not to react. The first time around Mexico, via its Foreign Minister, called for an explanation of Chavez’ first statements, which Venezuela’s Foreign Minister justified saying
that Chavez was responding to Fox attacks. Sadly, it was Chavez that
personalized things, Fox was careful all the time not to mention names
and what he said was
that countries had a choice and those that opposed the free trade
agreement of the Americas, did not have to join it, but did not need to
stop those who did from joining it. He concluded that the free trade
pact was simply inevitable.

In fact, it was Chavez that was defeated in the Mar del Plata Summit, as he arrived in Argentina for the People’s Summit saying that he was there to bury the free trade agreement of the Americas (ALCA in Spanish). By the end of the Summit, a topic that was not part of the agenda became one, it actually forced a headcount as Venezuela
and four of the Mercosur countries objected the mention of ALCA, while
Fox pushed for it to be explicitly included. When no agreement on the
wording became possible and Venezuela even said that its Constitution was being violated, then a divisive paragraph, forced by Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay
was included in the final declaration. But in the end the headcount was
clear: 28 countries were for ALCA, four want concessions before they
join and one, Venezuela, was alone in its total objection to the treaty. Its intolernace had forced the unexpecetd conclusion of the summit.

By
the weekend, we were hearing different reports from the Mexicans and
the Venezuelans as to the talks between the two countries. The message
from Mexico was that things had cooled down, but the situation was still mixed; from Caracas
the message was that differences were ironed out and things were just
peachy. But those that expected this to escalate knew that Chavez’s
Sunday program would be crucial, he would either ignore the issue
altogether, send some sort of peace sign or, our favorite: simply
escalate.

Escalation
seemed in order to those that saw the first attack as being purposeful
and carefully planned and simply a result of Chavez’ intolerance.
Indeed, fellow blogger Daniel of Venezuela News and Views had noted the speed and efficiency with which the Ministry of Information had posted the
attack on Fox, almost live simultaneoulsy with Chavez nationwide
speech, picture included! Thus, this seemed to have been carefully
orchestrated.

Obviously, the question is why? Was it simply resentment because of the defeat in Mar del Plata? Or was the attack aimed at helping Ciudad de Mexico’s Mayor Lopez Obrador? Or was it some different motive?

We suspect the explanation lies in an effort by Chavez and his buddy Castro in dividing Latin America
on the issue. While most Governments in the region want free trade,
they can not, and do not want to align themselves directly with the US. Chavez’ attacks appear to be a much focused effort at identifying Fox with the US
and trying to create the impression that if you are with ALCA you are
with Bush. We do not think that Lula of Brazil supports this effort,
but Argentina’s President may also sympathize with it.

The Lopez Obrador theory does not appear to hold water at this time. Lopez Obrador came out immediately
in Fox’s defense last week so it would not have made much sense to
continue the attack on Fox at this time. Moreover, polls reveal that
Mexicans do not have such a positive image of our President, so that
siding with Chavez may not be the best strategy for Lopez Obrador at
this time.

The
incident has revealed somewhat to the outside world how Chavez likes to
manipulate facts and people to fit his goals and how intolerant he can
be. Today the Foreign Minister in recalling the Venezuelan Ambassador blamed Fox for everything,
reaching the ridiculous level of saying that it was Fox that made the
free trade agreement part of the Mar Del Plata Summit. In fact, it was
Chavez that did, saying he was there to bury the free trade pact upon his arrival in Argentina.

The
world has also seen how Chavez can personalize what should be high
levels discussions, using language unbecoming of a statesman and even
language that is not fit for kids to hear or polite for people to use.
How Chavez and his Government are absolutely intolerant of dissent, how
things have to follow his own autocratic way. How no discussions are
allowed. How those that were at one time with him have been left aside, when they objected to any action by the Government. This
is the form of Government of an intolerant administration, led by an
autocrat that passed a bill to “make sure” the media was upheld to the
highest standards, but which is nothing but a tool of censorship. But
he can not control foreign Governments or the international media in
the same fashion. Unless they need aid and Mexico happens to have oil
and not need help as much as other countries.

As Chavez attempts to export now his so called and failed “revolution”, people have begun to notice these facts. In Venezuela we
have been trying to tell our story for almost five years. Maybe those
abroad will notice it more now that he is applying the same tactics of
disqualifying and attacking those that simply disagree with him. It is
simply called intolerance. And Chavez, a former miltary, is an expert
at that.

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