article on Pat RObertson's call for assassination
What is good old Pat thinking? Pat's reasoning, according to the short CNN bit about it that I saw, is that he is making Venezuela a launching pad for "communism" in the region. Having just been to Venezuela, this is a claim I won't deny since Chavez has openly said he would like to spread socialism but I think it is more than a little something of a simplification and rhetoric. The "communism" Pat refers to brings images of Stalin's Gulags and central planning. What I saw in Venezuela was not the communism of Russia or East Germany but more a capitalist society with some necessary social programs. It was decentralized, with neighborhoods overseeing the programs that they benefit from. Plenty of Chavez supporters that I spoke with were less concerned with the man than that he needed to be kept at his word to provide these necessary services to the poor in a country of extreme dichotomy between the rich and poor. Those in poverty still live in barrios of large public housing like apartment buildings or houses built one on top of each other up a hill where the only health and education services they have access to have been created by Chavez's government. The few times I spoke with anti-Chavez folks, very few good arguments against him were brought up. While one man thought the medical services provided by the Cuban doctors were necessary, he thought it should have been done with Venezuelan doctors, a good idea, in theory. He ignored the fact that the Venezuelan doctors opposed the idea from the beginning and they hadn't made it a priority to offer their services at a price that a large majority of Venezuelans can afford. He also ignored the fact that some Venezuelans are being added to the payroll of these clinics, at about twice the pay rate of the Cubans. The only other somewhat understandable disagreement with him that I heard was that while Chavez said he was a friend to the poor and working to make their lives better he was sitting there wearing signs of wealth such as a rolex. While I do see this as being disconnected to his rhetoric it is better that he is actually making the lives of people better and wearing a Rolex than Bush's rhetoric of security from terror when he hasn't worked to protect the ports or our many nuclear facilities and the only real alterations he has made were to make it a huge hassle for foreigners to come to the U.S. or for those in the U.S. to fly.
But why, I might ask, is it wrong for a man with the influence that Pat Robertson has to call for the assassination of the head of state of another country, particularly Chavez? Most importantly, if Pat believes in democracy like he says he does, why would he call for assassination, a very disgusting method of regime change, an undemocratic process? After two unsuccessful electoral attempts to remove Chavez from power and one attempted coup, Chavez is still in power thanks to popular support. While the heads of state in the U.S. (Bush and his cabinet) have been calling Venezuela an "autocratic democracy" or worse, Chavez has not suspended the constitution or attempted to overstep his constitutionally mandated powers as chief executive since taking office. Despite our government's support of anti-Chavez groups, an obvious attempt to influence the politics of another country, these groups have been allowed to speak and protest. The oligarchs own much of the land and media in the country. It is only the State media that supports Chavez and yet he still reaches approval ratings that Bush only Rivaled after 9/11. The people of Venezuela are proud of the accomplishments of their country under Chavez. If it were not for them the programs created under Chavez would not be possible since many of them are largely volunteer based. Many of these programs are largely self sufficient or very cheap thanks to these volunteers and the fact that people are participating in lifting themselves up proves strong support for Chavez and the programs he has helped build. Why would a man who says that he is a christian be opposed to someone who provides aid to those who need it?