It’s time for a pop quiz, courtesy of Surplus Record. What country, which recently held a questionable presidential election, will supply $2 trillion in oil to the United States during the next decade? We’ll give you a few hints: the country is located outside of the Middle East, within a few days journey of most tanker ships to US ports, and sits on oil reserves the same size of Iraq
If you guessed Venezuela, you’ve probably been keeping up with the Wall Street Journal, which has been one of the few national publications to chronicle the end of civil rights and democracy in our neighbor to the South in recent weeks. For those who have not followed the situation in Venezuela closely, Hugo Chavez, a former army officer and rebel who considers Fidel Castro his best ally (and friend), recently cemented his power base through a sham election that even the European Union refused to monitor and certify because of clear evidence of rigging, tampering, and fraud even before the actual election itself.
Chavez, however, found a willing substitute for the EU in former President Jimmy Carter, who jetted down to Caracas to rubber stamp the voting results for his friend. According to the WSJ, President Chavez, “who had imposed a gag order on all exit polls until a full audit of the vote had been completed, issued a statement declaring that the computer votes had been tallied and that the government had won … the announcement came in a vacuum, without an audit, with no verification whatsoever from the international observers, and over the indignant protest of two of the five [election ] council members, who publicly questioned the result’s transparency … [but] former President Jimmy Carter, declared that he was shown the computer tally by government supporters and that everything seemed in order.”
Soon after putting his support behind the election returns—turning his back on the government sponsored violence, intimidation, and fraud that disenfranchised millions of voters and left opposition members dead on the street―President Carter, “who was vociferous and insistent about patience, transparency and hand-tallies during the Florida recount, left Venezuela to attend Mrs. Carter’s birthday party,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
For some it will come as no surprise that President Carter would rubber stamp the vote of a communist sympathizer who tramples civil rights and democracy under the guise of helping the poor and disenfranchised. Carter has a track-record of praising dictators including North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega. And let us not forget his continued support of Fidel Castro. Carter’s presence in Venezuela should give pause to all observers of democracy and human rights. How can we trust the rubber stamp of a former president who has a habit of befriending the most tyrannical of dictators?
For the rest of us, Chavez’s “victory” should come as no surprise for those who have followed his rise to power, an ascent based on intimidating opponents through violence and quashing all legitimate opposition voices. Despite Chavez’s socialist rhetoric, poverty remains at an all time high in Venezuela after years of his rule, despite the greatest oil boom in the nation’s history. And though Chavez campaigned on redistributing the nations’ wealth―like all good communists―clearly much of it has gone into his cronies’ pockets instead, while the masses sink greater into poverty and despair.
Of course all of this would be news to President Carter, whose presence during the elections served to cover up one of the greatest sham elections in recent memory. Who would have guessed that one of the most mild-mannered U.S. Presidents in history could be so dangerous out of office? No one’s safe when Jimmy’s bullying buddies get their way.