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Column 070113 Brewer

Monday, July 1, 2013

Some Anti-USA Leaders in Latin America Disregard Democracy

By Jerry Brewer

Realistically, most people in the west would like to assume that democracy should dominate nearly all political ideologies. However, the very hegemony of true democracy has weakened and faded in many areas of the world, which had leaned towards and eventually away due to certain political rule and military oppression.

Those governments, especially in Latin America, that have turned from collective decision making and fair elections, and  sought to rewrite their nation's constitutions to focus on central powers that control legislative and judiciary functions, are openly defying much of the rule of law.

Probably the best example of this was in Venezuela, under the dictatorial-like rule of Hugo Chavez from 1999 until the controversial day of his pronounced death on March 5, 2013.

Hugo Chavez probably inflicted more lasting structural damage on Venezuela's political institutions, economy and people than any other president in Venezuela's history. He took control of economic matters, weakened the legislature and judiciary, and tightened the grip by the military. There was rampant systematic corruption and mismanagement outside of transparency, especially with the state run oil company PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela).

PDVSA had not filed financial statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission since 2004, further revealing the secrecy of the massively squandered Venezuelan oil wealth. Officials reported that it was difficult to determine how Venezuela had been spending its oil windfall, given the lack of government transparency - with Venezuela ranked 162 out of 179 countries listed in the Transparency International Corruption Index.

The true results of Chavez's leftist rule also showed massive gifts of money and oil to buy loyalty and support. Venezuela purchased $3.5 billion in bonds to help pay off Argentina's debt. And on August 4, 2007 Guido Antonini Wilson, a Venezuelan businessman, arrived in Buenos Aires on a chartered flight with Argentine energy officials and executives of PDVSA. Argentine customs agents caught him with a suitcase stuffed with $800,000 in cash he did not declare, that reportedly was from Chavez and a political gift to the presidential campaign of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

The legacy Chavez left to some of his closest leftist neighbors and protégés, such as Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador, is a record of the Venezuelan poor continuing to live below the poverty line, in squalor, unsafe homes, with little food and rolling blackouts of electricity. All this with massive oil revenues that can't be accounted for.

Morales and Correa followed their mentor Chavez with close and unwavering allegiance. They have also taken on Chavez's penchant, and fiery tongue, in order to hurl vicious insults at the US over the years, most directly at former President George W. Bush. One of the personal attacks by Chavez referred to Bush as the devil, with Chavez claiming to smell an odor of sulfur at the UN - a rant voiced on US soil.

And today, in the post Chavez era, these rogue leftist leaders are showing the learned behavior as they continue to shun the US, its current leaders and way of life.

The recent case of Edward Snowden, who leaked US top secret revelations to the world from his previous employment and sworn oath to the National Security Agency (NSA) and other US intelligence community entities, shows the true character of some anti-US nations.  The rule of law is apparently still not a factor in regards to world freedom and morality protected by democracies in their necessary security measures.

As Snowden is mollycoddled and facilitated by notorious human rights abusers, such as China and Russia, from US international extradition efforts for his serious crimes, even Ecuadorian officials have made it clear that they may grant Snowden safe passage and shelter.

President Correa and some of his government minions have been openly defiant against the US in the world media. Over the past several days, Ecuador officials "have been blasting the US and praising Snowden's leaks of NSA eavesdropping secrets as a blow for global human rights," according to media sources.

President Correa's secretary of communications, Fernando Alvarado, "sarcastically suggested the US use the money to train government employees to respect human rights" (Washington Post, June 27, 2013). This in response to Washington lawmakers that suggested the US back out of a preferential trade pact of $23 million to Ecuador. Ecuadorian officials claim that this is being used to blackmail their country if it were to grant Snowden political asylum. The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Robert Menendez, pledged to do all he could to block trade benefits for Ecuador.

As the US continues to step up by engaging in more training and support for security in this hemisphere against transnational organized crime and drug trafficking, it also continues to face leftist rulers who will not cooperate in enforcing the rule of law and efforts to rid their homelands of the death and violence that is shared by many in South and Central America.

Harboring fugitives, as well as rejecting the mutual assistance and cooperation of DEA in such critical matters in Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador, tends to clearly demonstrate their repudiation of democratic values.

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Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org/.


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