The world continues to watch the unfolding drama of popular revolt in Libya. In recent days we have seen a murderous Muammar Qadhafi vowing to fight “until the last drop of blood,” foreign mercenaries entering Libya to kill civilians, former members of Qadhafi’s government ready to prove his direct involvement in the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103, and even Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—certainly no friend of freedom—calling the Libyan slaughter of opponents “unimaginable.”
Where in the middle of Libya’s turmoil does one find the leaders of the people’s struggle in Latin America? On Qadhafi’s side, of course.
Latin America’s anti-democrats are stepping up to the plate to express support and solidarity for their good Libyan friend as the slaughter mounts.
Hugo Chavez considers himself a blood brother of Qadhafi. Venezuela’s radical authoritarian president was the featured guest at Qadhafi’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of his coup and erratic rule. Grateful Libyans even named a soccer stadium after Chavez. Chavez and Qadhafi billed themselves “steel tigers” facing the Empire – i.e., the U.S. When Qadhafi last visited Venezuela, Chavez bestowed on him the nation’s highest honor and a replica of Simon Bolivar’s sword. The sword may come in handy as Qadhafi fights to the bitter end.
Even pro-Chavez analyst Nikolas Kozloff could not resist making telling comments about Chavez’s repugnant choices in African friends. In a recent post he notes, “Far from supporting popular struggle, Chavez has embraced the most unscrupulous and autocratic leaders imaginable” These include Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, and of course Qadhafi.
Daniel Ortega—Sandinista president of Nicaragua, aging acolyte of past revolutions, candidate for a life presidency, and long time recipient of Qadhafi’s largess—told the press he had called the embattled tyrant to express “solidarity” and offer advise in this “moment of tensions.”
No one more resembles Qadhafi in the Americas than Cuba’s Fidel Castro. He and brother (and current Cuban ruler) Raul stand for a fossilized regime of repression, intolerance, and hopelessness similar to Qadhafi’s Libya. The aging seer of capitalist doom wrote in his Reflections on February 21:
The government of the United States is not concerned at all about peace in Libya and it will not hesitate to give NATO the order to invade that rich country, perhaps in a question of hours or very short days.
Castro’s capacity to detect the sinister hand of the U.S. behind any demand for democratic change and a popular uprising to remove a tyrant is a timely reminder of the nightmarish fear lurking in the minds of senior leaders of the Cuban regime. They have reason to fear that the Cuban people might actually turn on them just as Egyptian and Libyans and others have turned on their so-called benefactors.
Across Latin America, Chavez, Ortega, Castro, and others find themselves on shaky diplomatic and moral ground. Their historic embrace of the anti-U.S., anti-Western hero Qadhafi is backfiring in face of the uprising that is now known as the Arab Spring of 2011.