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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chavez and Ceresole, and Hugo goes to Russia

Today's WSJ has an article by Travis Pantin, Hugo Chávez's Jewish Problem, which highlights the ideological connection between Hugo Chavez and Norberto Ceresole.

Norberto who, you ask?

Norberto Ceresole. Pantin explains,
As an alleged oppressor of the Palestinian Arabs, Israel has its own place of special infamy in Mr. Chávez's worldview. This latter theme has served him particularly well in his efforts to mobilize the sentiments of his rural constituents. Thus, during a 2005 speech marking Columbus's discovery of the Americas, Mr. Chávez likened the plight of Venezuela's Indians to that of Palestinians. Reminding his listeners of how their ancestors had been "murdered in their land" by "governments, economic sectors and great land estates," he thundered: "You were expelled from your homeland, like the heroic Palestinian people."

All of these elements seem entirely derivative of Marxist-Leninist theorizing, with a strong admixture of postcolonialism à la Franz Fanon and Fidel Castro. But Mr. Chávez is not just another Latin American leftist on the Castro model. While the Cuban dictator may be his most important political influence, his greatest intellectual debt is to the Argentinian writer and thinker Norberto Ceresole: a man not of the left but of the populist right, a Holocaust denier and a sworn enemy of Israel and the Jews.

Born in 1943, Ceresole was one of the leading spokesmen for the radical populist government of the Argentine president Juan Perón. Later, in the guise of a political theorist, he argued that the only appropriate leaders for Latin American nations were caudillos: nationalist, militarist and charismatic strongmen capable of ushering in a "postdemocratic" age in which the region's people would become effortlessly at one with the generals who would direct every aspect of society. Led by a group of such caudillos, a confederation of Latin American fascist states would then be in a position to beat back American global hegemony.

Ceresole reportedly traveled with Mr. Chávez during his initial bid for power. After the latter's 1998 victory, he published a celebratory volume, "Caudillo, Army, People: The Venezuela of President Chávez." The second chapter is entitled "The Jewish Question and the State of Israel." In it, Ceresole espoused a "new revisionism" that defined the Holocaust as a "myth" and Israel as a global menace:

The existence of this political enterprise—Israel: a power concentrated in the monopoly of monotheism and implemented through an army, police forces, jails, tortures, assassinations, etc.—seeks to consolidate itself through a series of ideological manipulations in the bosom of the hegemonic power of the United States, which seeks to be accepted as the ruler of the world by any means, even generalized terror, and dissuasive and persuasive practices.

It was for this reason, according to Ceresole, that one of the greatest threats to the Chávez regime lay in Venezuela's "Jewish financial mafia." Indeed, the Venezuelan Jewish community as a whole was to be considered guilty of race-based hostility to Chávez's redemptive nationalist movement.

* * *

The ingeniousness of Ceserole's doctrine, as filtered through the sensibility of Hugo Chávez, resides in its blending of Marxist economics with two venerable anti-Semitic traditions. The first, still powerful in South America, derives from Catholic teachings about the historic Jewish responsibility for the death of Jesus. The second, encapsulated most notoriously in the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," has flourished in both rightist and leftist variations throughout modern European history, resurfacing in our own time in the fulminations of extreme anti-Zionists.
This is an ominous sign, and yet one more symptom of the illness that is Chavez's regime.

But caudillismo itself is nothing new: Latin America has suffered immensely by holding on to their tradition of caudillismo, and by staying away from true democratic institutions.

Will they ever change?

Hugo and Mendevev
Hugo and Medvedev

In other Chavez news, he's talking big in Russia, pushing for a natural gas OPEC-like cartel and mutual investment protection.

Hugo was also saying that
if Russian military forces ever visited Venezuelan territory, they would be greeted "by flying colors, drum beats and songs, as this means the arrival of our allies with whom we share the same view on the world."
Worried that this might imply that Russia's welcome to build a military-technical base on its territory, the Venezuelan government was quick to correct that, saying that it only means that the Russian Navy would be welcome to dock at a Venezuelan port.

It's all so redolent of the Cold War it makes one want to send The Hunt for Red October's Jack Ryan to Caracas.



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