Archive for the ‘Chavez’ Category

Obama Pal Hugo Chavez Seizes Oil Installation From U.S.-Based Company

May 8, 2009
Venezuela has seized a major oil installation from the U.S.-based Williams companies, Reuters quoted a company source as saying.
President Hugo Chavez said his government would begin seizing control of some oil contractors on Friday following the National Assembly’s approval of a law that paved the way for the takeovers.
The law approved by the largely pro-Chavez assembly on Thursday enables state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, to take over contractors without following the usual procedures to expropriate business.

“Tomorrow we’ll start recovering the goods and assets that will now belong to the state,” Chavez said in a televised speech late Thursday after the legislative vote.

He said PDVSA would seize 300 boats as well as dozens of docks and other transportation installations in western Lake Maracaibo on Friday, and absorb the 8,000 workers affected.

Venezuela’s state oil company has recently clashed with domestic and foreign service providers that help extract the OPEC nation’s heavy crude, accumulating billions of dollars in debts as it aims to renegotiate contracts to reduce costs by 40 percent.

 President Barack Obama greets his Venezuela counterpart Hugo ... 
President Barack Obama greets his Venezuela counterpart Hugo Chavez as Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez (L) looks on before the opening ceremony of the 5th Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain April 17, 2009. REUTERS/Mariamma Kambon-Official Photographer/5th Summit of the Americas/Handout

Read the rest from Fox News:,2933,519515,00.html

On Obama’s Nightstand? The Idiot’s Bible; Politics of Victimhood

April 27, 2009

Just days after Hugo Chávez gave President Barack Obama a copy of “Open Veins of Latin America” in Trinidad last week, the English-language version of the book shot to the No. 2 slot on

By O’Grady
The Wall Street Journal

Americans seemed to be curious about Mr. Chávez’s reading tastes. But in Latin America, “Open Veins” is a well-known rant by Uruguayan Marxist Eduardo Galeano. And it also has another distinction that Mr. Chávez may be less inclined to publicize: It is widely regarded in free-market circles as “the idiot’s bible.”

The book was tagged with that moniker in the 1996 best seller, “The Manual of the Perfect Latin American Idiot.” Penned by three Latin American journalists — Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, Carlos Alberto Montaner and Alvaro Vargas Llosa — the “manual” is a witty assault on the populist, militarist, caudillo mentality that has dominated the region for hundreds of years.

Chapter three is dedicated to explaining the importance of Mr. Galeano’s book for the idiot: “For the past quarter century the Latin American idiot has had the notable advantage of having at his disposal a kind of sacred text, a bible filled with all the nonsense that circulates in the cultural atmosphere that the Brazilians call the ‘festive left.’ Naturally we refer to Open Veins of Latin America.”

Open any page of Mr. Galeano’s book and you will learn that Latins are losers. Not on their own account, mind you. It’s all because Europe and the U.S. (the world’s winners) buy raw materials from them and don’t pay a fair price. In this way the haves of the world exploit the have-nots. “The history of Latin America’s underdevelopment is, as someone has said, an integral part of the history of world capitalism’s development.”

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Oliver North On Obama’s First 100 Days: “an enormous propaganda victory” For Global Socialist Left

April 26, 2009

At times during our history, international events have provided starring roles for American presidents. Teddy Roosevelt received the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War. John Kennedy’s pledge of solidarity, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” offered hope to captive people behind the iron curtain. Richard Nixon’s “secret” trip to Beijing precipitated still ongoing changes in the People’s Republic of China. Ronald Reagan’s tough diplomacy — and his decision to rebuild America’s defenses — turned the tide of the Cold War and hastened the end of an aptly named evil empire.

By Oliver North
The Washington Times

Then there are world events that consumed presidencies and doomed them to failure. Woodrow Wilson’s ill-informed dream of preventing all wars, with the League of Nations, became a nightmare. Lyndon Johnson’s hope of being remembered as a civil rights reformer died with his disastrous decisions on the battlefields of Vietnam. Jimmy Carter’s naked quest for a “peacemaker’s legacy” always will bear the miserable taint of his bungling during the Iranian hostage crisis. Now, with less than 100 days in office, Barack Obama already seems destined for this latter category.

The opening months of the Obama administration’s foreign policy have been marked by stunning naiveté, serious missteps and ideological blindness to hard realities in an increasingly dangerous world. It is now an open question whether he and his “national security team” can recover.

Just days after becoming commander in chief, Mr. Obama acquiesced in Beijing’s demands that U.S. vessels cease surveys within Chinese territorial waters. Russia rebuffed his “hand of friendship” and bribed Tajikistan into closing a U.S. base crucial to operations in Afghanistan. Pakistan replied to his “mutual respect for Islam” by allowing the world’s most notorious nuclear weapons proliferator, A.Q. Khan, to return to business as usual. The Iranians sized up his offer for direct negotiations on nuclear weapons by turning on more centrifuges and locking up an American journalist. His “apologize for America first” tour of Europe brought cheers but no new commitments from NATO for help in Afghanistan. He was applauded for promising to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, but then he learned no one else would take the terrorists housed there.

Mr. Obama’s release of top-secret Bush administration documents on interrogation techniques — and his botched determination on whether to hold show trials for those who authorized such efforts to prevent further terror attacks — shocked allied intelligence services. His performance at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad brought accolades from the mainstream media, but it disheartened those in Cuban, Venezuelan, Nicaraguan and Bolivian prisons who have committed no crimes except to speak out against their governments.

In Trinidad, Mr. Obama sat quietly – and, apparently, attentively – through a mind-numbing anti-American rant by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega during which the Sandinista leader accused the United States of heinous crimes. When asked his opinion afterward, Mr. Obama replied, “It was 50 minutes long.” No rebuttal. No defense of America or his predecessors’ efforts to offer others the hope of freedom.

When Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez gave him a homework assignment – to read the virulently anti-American screed “Open Veins of Latin America” – Mr. Obama accepted it with a smile for the cameras. Perhaps we should be grateful he didn’t bow to Mr. Chavez, as he did to Saudi King Abdullah.

Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, described the Obama-Chavez photographs as “an enormous propaganda victory for the Socialist dictator.” They also were another stab in the back to former President George W. Bush, whom Mr. Chavez once called “the devil” in the U.N. General Assembly.

The Obama administration’s penitent foreign policy is evident in its approach to the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, which is a U.N. body hostile to American service members – the same ones the Obama administration describes as “disgruntled military veterans.” America’s new willingness to be pilloried publicly was apparent in Geneva last week at the United Nations’ Durban Review Conference on racism.

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Chavez: Smiles, handshakes don’t change view of ‘imperialist’ U.S.

April 25, 2009

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday that despite his warm, smiling greetings with US President Barack Obama at the Americas summit, the US empire is still “alive and kicking.”

At the gathering of regional leaders last weekend in Trinidad and Tobago, one of the biggest stories was the friendly handshake between fierce US critic Chavez and Obama.

“The hand, yes. The smile, yes. But make no mistake, the empire is still there, alive and kicking,” Chavez said at a public event here.

“I hope that, for the good of his race, Obama is the last imperialist president of the United States.”

Chavez said the book he gave Obama — “The Open Veins of Latin America,” about the region’s colonial past and exploitation by the world’s big powers — was in response to what Obama said in Trinidad; that he came to talk about the future, not the past.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L) attends a military parade ...

At the summit, Chavez — who maintained tense relations with the United States during the tenure of Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush — gave the impression he was seeking reconciliation with Washington, while Obama said he was open to talks with Cuba.

Read the rest from AFP:

From CNN:


From Fox News

Book Chavez Gave to Obama Is Used as Core Text on Many College Campuses

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wasn’t the first to discover the book he gave to President Obama last week in an attempt to ease diplomatic tensions — college students in the U.S. have been turning its pages for years.

The 317-page “Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent” has been identified on the syllabi of at least 20 U.S. colleges and universities since 2003, and it’s been taught for decades on American campuses.

The virulently anti-American book tells how for 500 years Europe and then the U.S. exploited Latin America, leaving it impoverished and governed by corrupt leaders.

It outlines how U.S. capitalistic forces purportedly raped the region’s natural resources and stymied Latin America’s own development, exploited trade agreements and tariffs for its own interests and victimized the people of the region in exchange for the U.S.’s industrial growth.

The left-leaning tome, reportedly ranked 54,295th on Amazon’s bestseller list before Chavez gave Obama a Spanish-language edition last week, skyrocketed to No. 2 on Sunday and has now “settled down” at No. 19.

Professors contacted by praised the book — written by Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano and first published in 1971 — for having a strong, accessible narrative style backed up by solid historical evidence.

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Heads of Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela: Capitalism ‘threatens life on the planet’

April 25, 2009

We, the Heads of State and Government of Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela, member countries of ALBA, consider that the Draft Declaration of the 5th Summit of the Americas is insufficient and unacceptable for the following reasons:

– The Declaration does not provide answers to the Global Economic Crisis, even though this crisis constitutes the greatest challenge faced by humanity in the last decades and is the most serious threat of the current times to the welfare of our peoples.

– The Declaration unfairly excludes Cuba, without mentioning the consensus in the region condemning the blockade and isolation to which the people and the government of Cuba have incessantly been exposed in a criminal manner.

For this reason, we, the member countries of ALBA believe that there is no consensus for the adoption of this draft declaration because of the reasons above stated, and accordingly, we propose to hold a thorough debate on the following topics:

1. Capitalism is leading humanity and the planet to extinction. What we are experiencing is a global economic crisis of a systemic and structural nature, not another cyclic crisis. Those who think that with a taxpayer money injection and some regulatory measures this crisis will end are wrong. The financial system is in crisis because it trades bonds with six times the real value of the assets and services produced and rendered in the world, this is not a “system regulation failure”, but a integrating part of the capitalist system that speculates with all assets and values with a view to obtain the maximum profit possible. Until now, the economic crisis has generated over 100 million additional hungry persons and has slashed over 50 million jobs, and these figures show an upward trend.

2. Capitalism has caused the environmental crisis, by submitting the necessary conditions for life in the planet, to the predominance of market and profit. Each year we consume one third more of what the planet is able to regenerate. With this squandering binge of the capitalist system, we are going to need two planets Earth by the year 2030.

3. The global economic crisis, climate change, the food crisis and the energy crisis are the result of the decay of capitalism, which threatens to end life and the planet. To avert this outcome, it is necessary to develop and model an alternative to the capitalist system. A system based on:

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If you had told me some of these Obama stories three months ago I would have said “impossible!”

April 24, 2009

Vice President Joe Biden got off the leash (again) today suggesting that people should avoid trains, subways and aircraft until the N1H1 (formerly swine) flu passes.

Biden was in trouble with airlines and everyone else for his dim bulb remarks.

The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security got in trouble with U.S. military veterans and Canadians in just a few weeks time.  And refused to say the word “terrorists” at her confirmation hearigs.

Then she had to apologize to the American Legion.

Today she bailed out Joe Biden.  Where I come from, the U.S. Navy, juniors can’t bail out seniors.  Blame goes up the chain of command.  But Barack was busy bailing out Chrysler.  To hell with Biden.

If you had told me that three months ago I would have said “No Way!


Ed Morrissey at Hot Air said today, “Ironically, Barack Obama and the Democrats have started becoming French at the exact same time as the French have started becoming more American in economics … or at least more British…”

That is a hoot since Sarkozy said Obama was “unoriginal, unsubstantial and overrated.”

Sounds a lot like “overpaid, oversexed and over here.”

How about the President of the United States mugging with Hugo Chavez while hoding the numero uno anti-American text in the Latin American world — in Latin American history?

How about the first cabinet meeting (after 90 days) and bragging about saving $100 million?

Big deal.  No way.

How about Numero Uno flying to Iowa to give a 20 minute talk on energy conservation and then flying home?

How about insulting the PM of the UK and the queen for foolish, ill- conceived gifts, like an IPod made in China and DVDs that don’t work in Britain?

Or returning the bust of Sir Winston to Gordon Brown.  Ever hear of storage?  That’s what the Smithsonian is for: unwanted White House decor….

Or giving a giant red reset button to Russia with the word mis-spelled so it says “discount”?  Or was it “overcharge”?

If you told me a few months ago that the U.S. would barrow so much that China virtually owned the U.S. I would have asked: are you on drugs?

If you had said the government will own GM and Chrysler and most of the major banks I would have howled with laughter last Christmas….

Now that isn’t even funny….

If you had told me the U.S. economy was losing more than 600,000 jobs every month in 2009 I would have cried….

If you had told me the president suggested and the congress passed (without reading) the biggest government give-away of tax dollars in history and that didn’t even make a dent I can’t say what I might have done….

It is just too crazy….

If you had told me the president, this president, President Obama would pass and sign (in secret) a budget loaded with earmarks after he campaigned against earmarks I would have howled in protest….

If you had told me conservatives took to the streets with signs of protest?  I would have laughed out loud (LoL).

But if you had told me three months ago that Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank were saying stupid stuff left and right I would have said, “What’s new?”

If you had told me the president begged for forgiveness of the french for America’s arrogance?

Sac Le Bleu!

And that Sarkozy would stab Obama in the back?  That part I’d believe….

You can’t make this stuff up.  Leno should sue: Obama has all the good material….


They are kidding, right?

Obama White House Engineered Photo Ops, Publicity Stunts Not Always Honest, Well Conceived

 Obama’s Dumb Moves Getting More Difficult to Ignore? On Friday Mainstream Media Realiazes Monday’s Cabinet Meeting Was Laughable, Really

Revolt! Missouri May Give Federal Stimulus Money Back To State Taxpayers

US President Barack Obama (L) and French President Nicolas Sarkozy ... 
US President Barack Obama (L) and French President Nicolas Sarkozy meet during the NATO summit arrival ceremony at the the Palais Rohan in Strasbourg. Obama threw his backing behind Turkey’s bid to join the European Union before being slapped down by Sarkozy for intervening in the bloc’s affairs. Sarkozy also said Obama was “unoriginal, unsubstantial and overrated.”(AFP/Eric Feferberg)

Obama’s World Tour Maybe Too ‘Superficial’ Even for Fidel

April 24, 2009

Stop the presses! Finally, after half a century of staunch disagreement with Fidel Castro, I see the Cuban dictator has rendered a judgment with which I heartily agree.

Responding to the Prophet Obama’s friendly conversation with his brother President Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas in steamy Port of Spain, Mr. Castro, in the words of the Associated Press, “blasted the new U.S. president for showing signs of ‘superficiality.’ ” After all the Hollywood stars Mr. Castro has hosted on his island paradise, you can rest assured he is a connoisseur of superficiality.

By R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

Mr. Castro apparently was angered by the Prophet’s response to Raul Castro’s offer of Cuban diplomats to convene with their American counterparts and discuss “todo” – that is Spanish for everything. Pardon my swanking, but while at the summit, the Prophet did some swanking with his bilingualism, too. He called Hugo Chavez, another Latin American dictator, “mi amigo” with near perfect accentuation.

Raul Castro had mentioned human rights, press freedoms and political prisoners as topics for discussion, and our president, in his innocence, thought Mr. Castro was talking about … well, political prisoners – for instance the prominent opposition leaders who were imprisoned six years ago, many of whom still suffer in Cuba’s ghastly hellholes. Mr. Obama also mentioned the Cuban government’s larcenous policy of taxing the money that Cubans abroad send back to their families. That really irked Fidel Castro, whose denunciation of our president could put him in bad odor with his Hollywood fans.

Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore and the rest have had warm relations with Fidel through the years. The political awareness and activism of our actors and actresses go back generations to the selfless political engagement of John Wilkes Booth. Always, our actors are passionate about their beliefs.

There is something curious about the frenetic pace of the 44th president’s foreign trips this month. Not since the summer of 1998 has an American president made so many dashes abroad. Have any of the sleuths in the Washington press corps checked on Mr. Obama’s relations with his interns?

I josh, but his energetic globetrotting is unusual, given his obligations at home. Here we are struggling with recession and a sour banking system. The Prophet adds to them the most colossal domestic package since the New Deal and hastens off to Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Mexico.

Increasingly, it appears the Prophet Obama is not so much conducting a presidency as a world tour. He left for London on April 2; hit Strasbourg and Baden-Baden, Prague, Istanbul and Iraq; and returned early on April 8. Eight days later, he went off to Mexico, then Trinidad, returning to his empty White House on April 19. What will be next for our restless president, Disneyland?

Read the rest from the Washington Times:

 What’s The Obama Doctrine and What Principles Guide All These Chummy Meetings, Bows and Apologies?
Obama “Misinterpreted,” Doesn’t Get It, Says Cuba’s Fidel Castro

Maybe Obama Got More Than a Free Book From Latin Leaders: May Now Champion Free Trade

April 22, 2009

There was news yesterday that Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest maker of bulldozers and excavators, posted its first quarterly net loss in 16 years and said full-year profit and sales will trail its previous forecast amid a global recession.

This wouldn’t be major news except for the fact that Caterpillar was once thought to be on the cusp of becoming the world’s largest exporter of heavy earth moving equipment to Latin America and President Obama has apparently been unable to bring that dream into reality — despite the president’s participation in a two day Summit of the Americas this last weekend.

The president returned from the summit without a promise of a contract for Caterpillar — but he did bring back a nice book and a few photos of himself with Hugo Chavez, and other Latin strongmen….

“It would be nice if the president had really done anything for us, for our workers,” a Caterpillar employee told us yesterday.

Caterpillar says it pays $100,000 in tariffs on each piece of heavy equipment it exports to Columbia, because the U.S. Congresss has failed to pass the free trade agreement….

But today we learn that the president did in fact come home from the Summit of the Americas with a new idea, thanks to Columbian President Alvaro Uribe.

Obama, news reports say, will now change his position and become a champion of the free-trade pact with Colombia.

Too late for many Caterpillar employees.  But maybe someday they can be re-hired….

Caterpillar Says Obama “Missed an Opportunity” To Overhaul Infrastructure in Stimulus

In this Feb. 10, 2009 file photo, Caterpillar earth moving equipment ... 
In this Feb. 10, 2009 file photo, Caterpillar earth moving equipment is lined up in Wahoo, Neb., Tuesday, Feb.10, 2009. The U.S. trade deficit plunged in January to the lowest level in six years as a deepening recession cut demand for imported goods at an even faster rate than exports.(AP Photo/Nati Harnik, file)

Why does Obama smile at dictators?

April 22, 2009
The picture of the president of the United States smiling broadly as he met President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela startled me. Our president is a nice guy. Chavez is anything but.
By Shmuley Boteach  
The Jerusalem Post
Israel Alarmed By Obama Administration’s “condescending attitude toward our prime minister and Israeli public opinion”

The State Department maintains that Chávez has attacked democratic traditions and has put Venezuelan democracy on life support with unchecked concentration of power, political persecution, and intimidation. Foreign Affairs magazine says that Chávez is a power-hungry dictator with autocratic and megalomaniacal tendencies whose authoritarian vision and policies are a serious threat to his people. In testimony before the US Senate, the South American project director for the Center for Strategic International Studies said that Chavez’s government engages in “arresting opposition leaders, torturing some members of the opposition (according to human rights organizations) and encouraging, if not directing, its squads of Bolivarian Circles to beat up members of Congress and intimidate voters-all with impunity.”

In spite of a presidential term limit of six years, Chávez has suggested that he would like to remain in power for 25 years. Hmmm. An autocratic dictator who abuses human rights and undermines democracy being warmly embraced by the American president. There’s something wrong with that picture.
Then there was the incident of President Barack Obama seeming to bow before King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at the G-20 summit in London. The president’s people denied it was a bow, but it certainly was a sign of great deference from the American president to the dictator of a country who just six weeks ago sentenced a 75-year-old woman to 40 lashes for having been secluded with her nephew after he delivered bread to her home. This is the same Abdullah whom, when asked why Saudi Arabia prohibits the public practice of religions other than Islam, said, “It is absurd to impose on an individual or a society rights that are alien to its beliefs or principles.”


Obama is also pursuing a renewed relationship with Cuba, a country which engages in systemic human rights abuses, including torture, arbitrary imprisonment, unfair trials and extrajudicial executions. Censorship is so extensive that Cubans face five-year prison sentences for connecting to the Internet illegally. And not only is emigration illegal, but even discussing it carries a six-month prison sentence.

WATCHING ALL THIS, I was wondering what the new standards were. How oppressive must a leader be before we determine that he has not merited a hug by the democratic standard-bearer of the free world, the president of the United States? Yes, I get it. We have to speak to our enemies, and America has to push “reset” on its relationship with many of these countries. We should try and change them through charm. But who said the president himself, rather than a lower-level diplomat, must do so?
Read the rest:


President Barack Obama greets his Venezuela counterpart Hugo ... 
President Barack Obama greets his Venezuela counterpart Hugo Chavez as Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez (L) looks on before the opening ceremony of the 5th Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain April 17, 2009. REUTERS/Mariamma Kambon-Official Photographer/5th Summit of the Americas/Handout

Obama Meeting Chavez Greatest Presidential Endorsement of Human Rights Abuser Since Carter Met With Hamas

April 21, 2009

In April, 2008, Former President Jimmy Carter embraced a leading Hamas figure at a meeting that infuriated Israeli officials already upset by Carter’s freelance Mideast peace mission.

Mr. Carter also laid a wreath at the grave of Yasser Arafat, whom the Bush administration and many Israelis blamed for the breakdown of peace talks seven years ago and the violence that followed.

The right howled.  The left cheered.

But few question Carter’s motives: he really believes in what he is doing and can explain it in detail.

And Carter carefully plans his every move: even as a former president.

President Clinton also had a record of working with international leaders and human rights was frequently on his agenda.  He went to China and even appeared in Tiananmen Square — a sort of spiritual human rights shrine in China for dissidents and a kind of shrine of communism and the force of law for the government..

But the UK newspaper The Independent in 1998 reported, “The President was holding forth about the importance of human rights, when his thoughts were rudely interrupted by the arrival of Sandy Berger, his national security adviser, who reminded him of billions of dollars of outstanding US contracts with Peking. At which point Mr Clinton delivered a dollop of trademark fudge …. “We are concerned about trade, but we are much more concerned about human rights.” It sounds fine, but the subtext is clear. The business of America remains business.

The Independent continued: “The Tiananmen Square ceremony lasted only 11 minutes. It was not broadcast live in China. There were no speeches…..Television cameras were positioned in such a way as to show as little of Tiananmen Square as possible – there were no pictures of the main gateway with its portrait of Mao Tse-tung.

Evidence of White House precautions was everywhere. Hillary Clinton, who had arrived in Peking wearing red, was now in black. Both she and her husband maintained solemn expressions, as though the occasion was more of a remembrance ceremony than a welcome.”

Thus Clinton went to Tiananmen without taking too much heat from Chinese human rights activists or the communists: the result of careful stagecraft.

What Mr. Obama did last weekend with Hugo Chavez and others was purely theater and photo op: no statement on human rights and no business was apparently conducted.  This is imagery without even the veneer of substance….

And little stagecraft: which means little care of consequences.

In fact: Chavez got the upper hand — and the jump in his poll numbers.

Barack Obama’s slipshod meetings with Chavez and other tyrants say what about this man?

Obama White House Engineered Photo Ops, Publicity Stunts Not Always Honest, Well Conceived


From Fox News

Hugo Chavez has cultivated a world image of a cuddly, mischievous leftist. 

But behind the softy socialist persona is a ruthless politician, a Venezuelan president whose regime is described by the U.S. State Department and others as one of the world’s leading abusers of human, political and social rights. 

Chavez’s transgressions since taking office in 1999 have amounted to much more than merely throwing insults, as he did at former President Bush at the opening session of the 2006 U.N. General Assembly. It was there that Chavez described the American president, who had spoken one day earlier, as the “devil” whose sulfur stench remained at the podium. 

Human Rights Violations

A 2006 State Department report on human rights documented a slew of abuses, including data implicating Chavez’s security forces in about 6,000 killings over five years. 

The department’s annual Country Report on Human Rights practices released in March 2008 cited The Venezuelan Program of Action and Education in Human Rights statistic of 165 unlawful killings by Chavez security forces from October 2006 through September 2007.

The group reported that it received 11 complaints of torture and 692 complaints of cruel or degrading treatment during the same period, which was actually a decline from the year before.

“Reports of beatings and other humiliating treatment of suspects during arrests were common and involved various law enforcement agencies,” reads the 2008 State Department report. 

Workers Rights and Election Tampering

Alarms have been raised recently about Chavez’s crackdown on his political opponents. 

Manuel Rosales, mayor of Maracaibo, dropped out of sight a few weeks ago after the government filed corruption charges against him. Supporters said he had gone into hiding, and FOX News learned Tuesday that he is seeking political asylum in Peru. 

He’s not alone. Antonio Ledezma, another Chavez opponent, was elected mayor of Caracas in 2008 but is being barred from his office by his own police force, which attacked him when he tried to enter it. 

“What’s going on is persecution,” said Susan Purcell, director of the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami.

The crackdown began after Chavez won the battle to remove presidential term limits, amending the nation’s constitution in a February referendum.

“Discrimination on political grounds has been a defining feature of the Chavez presidency,” Human Rights Watch wrote in a 2008 report, titled “A Decade Under Chavez.” 

The report said while Chavez came into office pursuing human rights reforms, a short-lived 2002 coup changed that aim and provided a “pretext” for government policies that undercut those protections. The Venezuelan government kicked Human Rights Watch monitors out of the country shortly after the report was released.

According to the Human Rights Watch report, Chavez:

— Maneuvered a “political takeover” of the Supreme Court in 2004 by the president and his allies by signing legislation allowing his supporters to “pack and purge” the court. 

— Fired and blacklisted political opponents from state agencies and the Venezuelan oil company. 

— Denied citizens with unfavorable political opinions access to social programs. 

— Required state oversight and certification of union elections. 

— Engaged in reprisals against striking oil workers. 

— Subjected rights advocates to exaggerated charges and groundless investigations. 

Media Control

Reporters Without Borders took Chavez to task in its 2008 report on press freedoms. It reported that Chavez: 

— Shut down RCTV, the major Venezuelan TV station, in 2007 by refusing to renew its license. Though Chavez apparently said he was not renewing the license because the station backed the 2002 coup, Reporters Without Borders said in its report that Chavez had a more sinister motive, since another TV station that backed the coup was allowed to continue operating. (RCTV later moved to cable, but was still threatened.) 

— Controls “nearly all the country’s broadcasting.” Chavez went on TV 1,500 times for more than 900 hours between January 1999 and November 2007. Plus he took up 1,000 hours on his Sunday show Alo Presidente.

— Pushed for the creation of about 60 newspapers to support his agenda. 

The State Department report also noted that harsh freedom-of-speech and press laws are still on the books in Venezuela. 

— The penal code was amended in 2005 so that insulting the president is punishable by up to 30 months in prison. 

— Inaccurate reporting that disturbs the public peace carries a sentence of up to five years. 

Those laws have not prevented Chavez and his officials from singling out certain publications, according to the State Department. 

“Independent media outlets and journalists were subject to public harassment by high-ranking government officials on state-owned media,” the report reads. “The independent print media regularly engaged in self-censorship due to fear of government reprisal and in order to comply with laws regulating the media.” 

FOX News’ Steve Harrigan contributed to this report.