Hugo Chavez says bad things about our President and he gets branded as some kind of international pariah. We say the same things about the same President and we get lumped into the majority of our fellow citizens who feel that this administration is a loose cannon on the deck of the ship of state.
For my part, I have to confess to a certain fascination with the Venezuelan “strongman”. In fact, recent events have made me wonder just how great an opportunity to improve our relations with Latin America we have lost by following the lead of GWB.
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez granted amnesty Monday to those accused of involvement in a failed 2002 coup that briefly drove him from power.
Chavez said he signed an amnesty decree that would also pardon others accused in suspected attempts to overthrow the government or assassinate him. It was not immediately clear how many accused opponents would be affected by the amnesty.
“It’s a matter of turning the page,” Chavez said in a telephone call to state television on New Year’s Eve. “We would like a country that moves toward peace.”
Chavez read aloud the law, which grants amnesty to those who signed a decree recognizing the interim government that briefly took power during the 2002 coup. Chavez was ousted by dissident military officers, but within two days he was returned to the presidency loyalist generals amid protests by his supporters in the streets.
Opponents accused of violently taking over the state television channel would also fall under the amnesty, along with those who sought to violently sabotage oil tanker ships during an opposition-led strike that followed the coup.
He reiterated that regardless of the law, no one in Venezuela is jailed “for his political ideas.”
“We would like a country that moves toward peace.” Where do I go to second that sentiment?
It is certainly only more impressive for President Chavez to make this gesture towards his political opponents in light of the recent election defeat he suffered. It seems inescapable that if he were the person that our government portrays him to be, he would be wrapped up in scheming and intrigue instead of making gestures which certainly appear to be designed to heal rifts in his society.
Actually it’s starting to make perfect sense why he is more respected in the Americas, and far more popular with his voters, than is our own failed President.