As I'm sure everyone knows, today is the big constitutional referendum in Venezuela. La Vanguardia, in a broadside at the Chavez regime, says, "Venezuelans will choose today between democracy and dictatorship. They have to decide between two ways of life, two national ideas, two antagonistic systems, two platforms that will define the fundamental structure of the state. Freedom is at stake in this referendum: the voter has to decide between the authoritarian, autocratic, and militarist option of Chavez, who wants to perpetuate himself in power and control the whole society, and the defense of the institutions."
Meanwhile, Hugo the Chav tossed another tantrum at Juan Carlos and again petulantly demanded an apology. He also threatened that if the PP wins the March election in Spain, "It's all over with Spain. Spanish companies can forget about staying here. Repsol will have to go. We'll nationalize the banks." Interference in another country's domestic politics, no? And then he complains that the Americans are trying to destabilize his government, which I hope we are doing, by the way.
La Vanguardia says that in Chavez's last speech, "He threatened everyone, as if Venezuela were his own banana plantation: Spanish banks; the opposition; Colombian president Alvaro Uribe; businessmen; oligarchs; "wannabe Yanqui" students; the US; Globovision; CNN; foreign correspondents; et cetera." I bet if an American newspaper called Venezuela a banana plantation the whole Third World would get mad and call us racists.
The article continues, "A cross between Juan Domingo Peron and Benito Mussolini, Chavez is trying to implant a socialism about which it is only known that it will be antidemocratic, with restrictions on freedom, on the road to limiting human will to one single way of thought, one single ideology, one single party, the single leader. And with Fidel Castro as the supreme guide. Faced with this shadowy panorama, the number of Venezuelans packing their suitcases increases."
I forget whose law it is that says that in an argument, whoever first compares a bete noire to Hitler loses. I have an addition to that, which I proudly baptize John's Corollary: In an argument, whoever compares a bete noire to Mussolini is probably right. Reasoning: He who picks Mussolini (who is way far down the list of most evil people ever, nowhere near contemporaries of his like Hitler or Stalin or even Franco) for his comparison has done so thoughtfully--if he were going for effect he'd use Hitler. Mussolini was a buffoon, a wannabe tough guy, just like Hugo the Chav. These guys are not what comes to mind when you think "evil", they're what comes to mind when you think "blustering bully."
Franco and Pinochet and real dictators like that were cold and calculating, harsh judges of humanity, and they didn't make idle threats. Forget the Chav; he's just another Peron or Mussolini. Castro, who is more than a bit Mussoliniesque and only survived because of the Cold War, is tougher than he is. And Castro's probably dead already.