I am a US-citizen leftist with sympathies with the movements in Latin America. I've seen how elites exploit the toiling masses in the global south. And I appreciate the work Mr Chavez and his allies have pursued in health, education, and worker-friendly jobs.
Yet on the world stage, he embarasses himself. He recently complimented two African leaders who demean the struggle for liberation through their behavior; Mugabe and Idi Amin. Both fought legitimate struggles against Colonial occupiers (White settlers and the British respectively). However, both also went beyond all boundaries of reasonable conduct. They concealed violent political agendas under the guise of "economic justice".
Mugabe has killed political opponents, and expropriated land along racial and not economic lines. He has behaved like the Whites he struggled against; nobody disagrees that the Blacks were robbed unfairly of their land, and that they deserved a substantial portion of agricultural land. But the process pursued was politically motivated and violent. Mugabe's allies benefitted, while his political opponents were ignored in the land deals. Zimbabwean agriculture has plummeted, and it's not just because of western sanctions. Mugabe used the legitimate need for redistribution to cover a violent and thuggish campain. Chavez insists his land exproproation campaign is a just and fair one done to protect peasants from abusive landowners, but it won't be if it is anything like Zimbabwe's.
Idi Amin drove Indian Ugandans out of Uganda simply because they were Asian, and killed hundreds of thousands of his political opponents. Let us not forget that Idi Amin invaded the only pacifist Socialist nation in Africa at the time (Tanzania). He was an agressive, warlike thug! I ask, if Idi Amin was just a good "african nationalist" as Chavez asserted, why the blazes did he militarily invade the biggest Socialist country in Africa? One that had a small standing army, despite its size, with its faith in pan-African unity? Chavez insists he poses no threat to Colombia, but how so when he defends someone who invades his neighbors for nor eason?
If Mr Chavez is trying to convince the world that he has no agressive agenda, that he has more substance than bombast, and is a democrat not a tyrant, he should not invoke these barbarians. He has made a childish intellectual mistake; he thinks that because the West is inherently bad, that their opponents must inherently have had a pure agenda. Thus he embraces a reactionary, militaristic theocrat from Iran, a fascist from Belarus, and an octogonerian pseudo-revolutionary from Zimbabwe.
His kind words for the Iranian regime can be forgiven as economically motivated geopolitical strategy. But I think he should apologize to Uganda and Tanzania for his kind words to Idi Amin. He could write an open letter to the government of Uganda, and the people of Uganda.
Hugo Chavez should decide, once and for all, whether his agenda is improving the lives of his people, or offending just about anyone abroad who might otherwise be sympathetic.