Skip to comments.Chavez Spokesman Re-Affirms Support for North Korea: "Model To Follow"
Posted on 01/11/2003 2:19:35 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
Venezuela, already an ally of Cuba and Iraq, is now making overtures to also align itself with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
Monday, in Caracas, a spokesman for the Hugo Chavez government sent a signal of support to North Korea's capital Pyongyang, and re-affirmed the ideological similarities of the two regimes.
Education minister Hector Navarro, while attempting to open the country's leading university, Universidad Central de Venezuela, declared that he and the Bolivarian government stood firm in their principles, and that those principles would not change. He then extended a salute of "solidarity" to "friendly nations", naming, specifically, Algeria, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea.
Students and teachers of the university have joined in refusing to follow Hugo Chavez down the Cuban path to ruin, and are striking to force the government to hold early elections.
The naming of Cuba comes as no surprise. Chavez is the Cuban leader's life support. Iran and Algeria can also be explained: Last week, Algeria sent oil workers in an attempt to restart Venezuela's oil industry, and Sunday a government delegation from Iran arrived in Caracas, also to help break up the strike, now in its sixth week. But why single out North Korea? For that, we must look at the background of Hector Navarro and other members of the Chavez inner circle. Before taking power, Navarro hailed North Korea as a model to follow, and in a document co-authored with former Chavez industry and commerce minister Jesús Montilla and former Chavez central planning minister Jorge Giordani, he wrote: "Socialism survives [...] in North Korea which, although isolated and alone, has achieved a strong economy."1
While this opinion may be shared by other graying leftists who have hitched their star to Hugo Chavez's Marxist experiment -- having previously bet the farm on socialist dreamlands like Russia, China, Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua, Cambodia and El Salvador -- more clear-headed analysts plainly disagree. North Korea is one of the world's most centrally planned and isolated economies, and faces desperate economic conditions. Far from having "achieved a strong economy", industrial capital stock is nearly beyond repair as a result of years of underinvestment and spare parts shortages. Industrial and power output have declined in parallel. In North Korea, large groups of the population survive by eating grass and bark off the trees.
This, however, does not affect Navarro, nor his boss Hugo Chavez, who in a recorded message took to the airwaves late Sunday and again Monday at noon, repeatedly reminding Venezuelans that "We have burned our boats. There is no turning back. We will carry on consolidating and deepening this Revolution,"2 and promising the country's 24 million citizens to take their country a few hundred years back in time: "If we have to cook with firewood for 2 years, we will. Or for 20 years, if we have to."3
The belief that a pure revolution can only be born once all remnants of the previous society have been destroyed is a popular theory among followers of Pol Pot's illfated Cambodia and of Mao's Cultural Revolution. And, according to Chavez-watcher Richard Gott, several of the president's closest advisers were once associated with a Chinese-oriented split from the Venezuelan Communist Party, while Chavez himself has declared that "I have always been a maoist".4
In Caracas today, with a government spokesman who is holding up North Korea as a model to follow, it is no wonder that millions of ordinary Venezuelans have taken to the streets demanding free and democratic elections. As an aspiring nuclear weapons power, the North Korean one-man dictatorship is clearly a danger to Asia. In South America, another strongman, Hugo Chavez, is also bent on going nuclear. This was one of the plans discussed in late December 2002 with Marco Aurelio Garcia, a known terrorism sponsor who visited Chavez personally in Caracas. But if Garcia can not bring the bomb, maybe Pyongyang can.
" - It is too early to determine with certainty what the nuclear weapons plans of Hugo Chavez are", says Brigadier General Nestor Gonzalez Gonzalez, a former Chavez-loyalist who broke with the president when his totalitarian ambitions became clear, and who is today one of the leaders in Venezuela's military resistance movement, Militares Democraticos. " - But Monday's re-affirmation of support for North Korea is a troubling sign," warns Gonzalez. "I personally know Chavez very well, and he is capable of anything."
Hundreds of Venezuelans stand in line to apply for a Spanish passport in Caracas January 10, 2003. A strike launched December 2, 2002 by opposition members of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has battered Venezuela's oil-reliant economy, rattled global energy markets and fired up the political conflict between opponents and supporters of the leftist leader to resign and call elections. REUTERS/Kimberly White REUTERS
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