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Jewish World Review
June 30, 2009 / 8 Tamuz 5769
Did Someone Say Coup?
The news that Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was removed from
his post and spirited out of the country by the Honduran military has
elicited official condemnations from the governments of France, Ecuador,
Chile, Spain, and Argentina; as well as protests from the Organization of
American States and the United Nations. The U.S. State Department called the
events an "attempted coup," and demanded that Mr. Zelaya be returned to
power in order to facilitate the "restoration of democratic order."
Hold on. There was an attempted coup in Honduras, but it was
Zelaya who initiated it, not his opponents. As the invaluable Mary Anastasia
O'Grady reported in the Wall Street Journal, Zelaya, a Hugo Chavez acolyte,
was attempting to ape his mentor by rewriting Honduras' constitution. Under
Honduran law, however, the president cannot call a referendum on the
constitution on his own authority. O'Grady explains: "While Honduran law
allows for a constitutional rewrite … A constituent assembly can only be
called through a national referendum approved by its Congress. But Mr.
Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chavez ship him the
necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum
unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the
logistics of the vote as it normally would do." The attorney general of
Honduras, as well as the nation's Supreme Court, had declared the referendum
illegal. Zelaya attempted an end run. O'Grady writes: "Calculating that some
critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he
would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke
into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being
stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the
Supreme Court's order."
Zelaya had a good teacher. Hugo Chavez has been patiently and
persistently undermining the democratic character of Venezuela for 11
years a slow-motion coup. Just a day before Zelaya's confrontation with
the army and the courts came to a head, thousands of Venezuelans once more
took to the streets of Caracas, this time to protest the threatened closure
of Globovision, the only remaining television channel in the country
critical of President for Life Chavez. Two years ago, RCTV (Radio Caracas
Television), then the nation's leading station, lost its license because it
declined to provide fawning coverage of Chavez (one is tempted to call him
"the Dear One" as they do in North Korea). "The media terrorism in Venezuela
is a permanent practice by a big part of the private media," Andres Izarra,
a government spokesman, explained to the Washington Post. "Messages of
hate," Izarra asserted, "some inserted subliminally," had been detected by
the government even in entertainment shows. Chavez has hardly been subtle
about his goals. In a statement that could have come from Vladimir Lenin,
Adolf Hitler, or Joseph Stalin, he declared, "I am going to go after those
resisting the revolution and eliminate them one by one." His targets have
included priests, independent journalists, businessmen, opposition
politicians, and Venezuela's tiny Jewish community.
Globovision stands accused by the government of "media
terrorism" because a commentator suggested that Chavez might end his days
the way Benito Mussolini did. Two weeks ago, CBS reports, police raided the
home of Globovision's president, Guillermo Zuloaga, and ordered the station
to pay $2.3 million for giving free airtime to anti-government groups during
a 2002 oil strike. The government was further enraged when Globovision
provided coverage of an earthquake before the official media arrived on
scene, and particularly that Globovision was critical of the government's
handling of relief. Chavez accused the station of spreading terror and
needlessly alarming the nation.
If Globovision is silenced, there will be no free television at
all in Venezuela. Thousands of Venezuelans marched to protest the dying of
the light, yet foreign ministries around the world were silent. Neither
Secretary of State Clinton nor President Obama has breathed a word of
condemnation of Chavez's slow strangling of freedom in Venezuela, nor his
export of Chavismo to Nicaragua, Bolivia, or Honduras. But without a
moment's reflection, the secretary of state and the president offered
crucial diplomatic support to Chavez disciple Manuel Zelaya.
When Barack Obama was asked about the book Chavez handed him
last April, "Open Veins of Latin America," the president said he hadn't read
it. Now I'm not so sure.
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© 2006, Creators Syndicate