El loco’s new foe / Chavez smearing rival (NEW YORK POST OP-ED) By BENNY AVNI 02/21/12)
NEW YORK POST
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The reign of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez faces its worst trouble
in years. The normally fractured opposition has suddenly united
behind one man, Henrique Capriles Radonski, in the Oct. 7
presidential election. Chavez has already responded with an assault
that makes our “negative ads” look quaint — and worse is sure to
come. Will the Obama administration have the sense to do the right
At a rally Sunday (attended by an American buddy, Sean Penn), Chavez
said of Capriles: “It doesn’t matter how many times you change your
costume, low-life; your pig’s tail still shows behind you as well as
your pig’s ears. You snore like a pig. Well, what am I saying? You
are a pig. Don’t try and hide it.”
Chavez ally TV host Mario Silva last week “exposed” a 2000 “police
report” in which Capriles, known as a lady-loving macho, was
supposedly caught in a car having sex with a man.
Meanwhile, the Jewish world is in an uproar over a Venezuelan radio
show, “The Enemy is Zionism,” in which Capriles was portrayed last
week as an imperial-capitalist-bourgeois agent of, yes, Zionism.
As the name suggests, Capriles Radonski’s maternal grandparents are
Jewish. He has often spoken emotionally of his mother’s family’s
escape from Poland during the Holocaust. But he’s Catholic and sports
a wooden cross around his neck.
Nor do allegations that Capriles is a “Zionist agent” hold up. The 39-
year-old governor of the state of Miranda is a center-left politician
who shows little interest in global affairs, focusing instead on
undoing the local miseries Chavez has inflicted.
On Feb. 12, Capriles won the Democratic Unity Party primary with 60
percent of the vote amid unusually high turnout, 3.1 million voters —
a strong sign that, after 13 years of misrule, the public’s desire to
unseat Chavez is growing.
Capriles boasts “a good track record of good governance at the state
of Miranda,” says the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Vanessa
Neumann (a Venezuelan New Yorker who has crossed Chavez so often in
her writings she’s been warned not to return). “If we had a free and
fair election, he’d beat Chavez.”
But everyone knows that’s a big if. For starters, the country’s
electoral board will be controlled by the Chavez ally and new speaker
of parliament, Diosdado Cabello, an old political foe of Capriles.
Everyone expects fraud. But if the October election looks blatantly
stolen, Neumann says, people could flood the streets and the
government would declare martial law.
One caveat: While Chavez claims that his Cuban doctors managed to
cure his cancer, rumors abound that he remains very ill, including an
apparent collapse after a speech last Sunday. But even if cancer
incapacitates him, some ally (possibly Cabello) will likely continue
his “Bolivarian revolution” by stealing the election.
And that “revolution” is aggressively anti-American. Last week, for
example, Chavez countered Western pressure by sending oil to
embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The US Treasury Department recently imposed sanctions on Chavez’s new
defense minister, Gen. Henry Rangel Silva, for his ties to the drug-
trafficking FARC rebels of Colombia. Silva is also accused of helping
the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah in its attempts to gain
footholds across Latin America.
Yet the State Department is cautious about confronting Chavez. Yes,
last month it finally expelled Venezuela’s consul general in Miami,
Livia Acosta Noguera — but only after Univision broadcast a recording
of Noguera (at the country’s embassy in Mexico) exploring with a
local hacker ways to cyberattack America’s nuclear facilities.
With his regional (Peru, Nicaragua, Argentina, Nicaragua, Cuba,
Bolivia) and global (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah) alliances, his meddling
ways and oil money, Chavez long ago replaced the Castros as America’s
most dangerous foe in the hemisphere. Washington should grab at any
chance to unseat him — and none is better than a democratic election.
Perhaps the Obama administration is too frightened of looking like an
interfering yanqui to influence a Latin election. But can’t we at
least denounce Chavez’s anti-Semitic and homophobic smears?
(Copyright 2012 NYP Holdings, Inc. 02/21/12)
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