Le Monde writes yet another strong anti Chavez editorial

One thing is rather surprising in the French press: the left and center left are the most vocal critics of Chavez. Liberation, a rational left newspaper, akin to the Guardian of London, was the first newspaper consistently criticizing Chavez. Le Monde, the reference newspaper of France and of a large part of the world started later but has been as much anti Chavez as one could expect. Yet, Le Figaro, the center right paper, to this day is still to write a strong anti Chavez piece. Even today it still managed to make a rather sympathetic coverage of the current electoral campaign without observing none of the vices than lesser journalists would be too embarrassed to report because they would think that no one would believe them at home. Heck, even the Guardian is more critical of Chavez than Le Figaro.

Thus we have the paradox that France's right wing president is going to have lunch with Chavez this Tuesday while the Socialist Party of France criticizes the proposed constitutional changes to be voted on December 2. Stunning! Then again Sarkozy has an agenda: he wants Ingrid Betancourt freed and he could not care less about the other dozens of dozens of hostages retained by the FARC and other assorted groups in Colombia and Venezuela. If Sarkozy needs to screw the Venezuelan people to get Ingrid out of the swamp where she mired herself in, so be it. I heard some naive folks think that Sarkozy is going to con Chavez. Well, though I have never defended Chavez I can say with all certitude that it would be a cold day in hell when Sarkozy outmaneuvers Chavez. Just as Chavez conned Chirac with the oil concern Total contracts a couple years ago. Chirac gave love and kisses to Chavez at a time he needed them, Chavez promised the moon, and within two years Total was out of Venezuela. In other words as I predicted during my coverage of the French electoral campaign early this year, Sarkozy has demonstrated several times to be an unprincipled foreign policy maker. Had Segolene Royal been elected I am quite sure that the lout of Chavez would not be received at the Elyse Palace.

Anyway, there is next the translation of the Le Monde editorial of today and then follows the original French version. Observe, for the record, how Le Monde introduces Chavez: "lieutenant-colonel". I loved it! The anti militaristic attitude of the French
left since the infamous Dreyfus affaire! Of course, it is also for me the basic reason why I oppose Chavez: his military origins colliding to my allergy to anything military. The French left has always been keen on controlling the army by civilians. Remember the words attributed during WW1 to Clemenceau: "War is something too serious to be entrusted to the military". (Note added later: for those who can read French you can catch my latest installment on Agoravox on this subject, my fifth article accepted there, a center left sort of Noticiero Digital)

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Expected in Paris Tuesday, Nov. 20, lieutenant-colonel Hugo Chavez has been invited by Nicolas Sarkozy to take stock of his mediation in the case of the hostages in the hands of the Colombian guerrilla. The efforts of France have not borne fruit in the matter of its interest, considering that the former Green candidate for the presidency of Colombia, Ingrid Betancourt, is dual nationality franco-colombian.

The intervention of the Venezuelan president is welcome because so far no person and no group of countries has managed to negotiate with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) - the hostage-takers. Pumped up by drug money, the movement of the extreme left has reached the zero degree in politics: weak on the military side, it is relying on its hostages to figure on the local and international scene. Mr. Chavez was given the green light by the Colombian government, which is essential to allow for a "humanitarian exchange" between the hostages and jailed guerrillas.

Activism deployed by Mr. Chavez on the international scene, Latin America, in the Middle East, Russia and France, is accompanied in Venezuela of a disturbing trend towards an authoritarian regime. The erratic management of the vast resources of oil, brought by a price of a barrel close to $ 100, begins to undermine the social programs that have earned the Head of State a solid popularity. The lack of investment in the oil industry stops Caracas from reaching the quota set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which recently held its summit in Riyadh. Venezuela has been reduced to sell crude oil and to import virtually everything the country needs.

The concentration of powers to the benefit of the President of the Republic, the lack of dialogue with the opposition, the disqualification of the student movement, described as "fascist", the encouragement of armed gangs and recruiting reservists, in short, militarization of political life, are accompanied by unprecedented corruption. This is facilitated by the opacity of public spending and the creation of parallel budgets, which are used in a discretionary manner by the Presidency. The links maintained by Mr. Chavez with Fidel Castro and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are not likely to dispel the uncertainty around the "socialism of the twenty-first century" advocated by the Venezuelan president.

"Populism is not a good solution to the problems there are in Latin America," said the president of the European Commission, the Portuguese Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, after a recent verbal incident with Mr. Chavez during an Ibero-American summit. Populism is a good solution nowhere.
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Attendu à Paris mardi 20 novembre, le lieutenant-colonel Hugo Chavez a été invité par Nicolas Sarkozy pour faire le point sur sa médiation dans l'affaire des otages de la guérilla colombienne. Les efforts de la France n'ont pas porté leurs fruits dans un dossier qui la concerne, dans la mesure où l'ancienne candidate des Verts à la présidence de la Colombie, Ingrid Betancourt, a la double nationalité franco-colombienne.

L'intervention du président vénézuélien est bienvenue car, jusqu'à présent, aucune personnalité et aucun groupe de pays n'est parvenu à négocier avec les Forces armées révolutionnaires de Colombie (FARC) - les preneurs d'otages. Dopé par l'argent de la drogue, ce mouvement d'extrême gauche a atteint le degré zéro de la politique : affaibli sur le plan militaire, il compte sur ses otages pour exister sur la scène locale et internationale. M. Chavez a reçu le feu vert du gouvernement colombien, indispensable pour pouvoir procéder à un "échange humanitaire" entre les otages et les guérilleros emprisonnés.

L'activisme déployé par M. Chavez sur la scène internationale, de l'Amérique latine au Moyen-Orient, de la Russie à la France, s'accompagne au Venezuela d'une évolution inquiétante vers un régime autoritaire. La gestion erratique des immenses ressources du pétrole, démultipliées par un prix du baril proche des 100 dollars, commence à nuire aux programmes sociaux qui ont valu au chef de l'Etat une solide popularité. L'absence d'investissements dans l'industrie pétrolière explique que Caracas peine à atteindre le quota fixé par l'Organisation des pays exportateurs de pétrole (OPEP), qui vient de tenir son sommet à Riyad. Le Venezuela en est réduit à vendre du brut et à importer pratiquement tout ce dont le pays a besoin.

La concentration des pouvoirs au profit du président de la République, l'absence de dialogue avec l'opposition, la disqualification du mouvement étudiant, traité de "fasciste", l'encouragement de bandes armées et l'embrigadement des réservistes, bref, la militarisation de la vie politique, s'accompagnent d'une corruption sans précédent. Celle-ci est favorisée par l'opacité des dépenses publiques et par la création de budgets parallèles, utilisés de manière discrétionnaire par la présidence de la République. Les liens entretenus par M. Chavez avec Fidel Castro et avec Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ne sont pas de nature à dissiper le flou autour du "socialisme du XXIe siècle" prôné par le président vénézuélien.

"Le populisme n'est pas une bonne solution aux problèmes qu'il y a en Amérique latine", a déclaré le président de la Commission européenne, le portugais José Manuel Durao Barroso, après un récent incident verbal avec M. Chavez lors d'un sommet ibéro-américain. Le populisme n'est une bonne solution nulle part.

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