As Syrian tanks and artillery continued to rain indiscriminate fire on the defenseless city of Homs and as the world watched with mounting horror the final reports of courageous American journalist Marie Colvin, half a world away, in Caracas, Venezuela, a truculent and defiant Hugo Chavez continues to stand four-square behind the Bashar al-Assad regime.
In recent weeks, the Venezuelan national oil company PDVSA has rushed to the aid of the Syrian regime, shipping a tanker full of diesel fuel to the Syrian port of Baniyas, fuel badly needed to keep Assad’s tanks rolling.
When asked about the sale, Chavez defended his right to sell oil to any nation he pleased. “Have we accepted that anyone impose conditions on us for selling oil to the United States, or anyone else in this world?” he said. “We’re free.”
Venezuela and its allies in the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) also continue to offer diplomatic cover for the brutal Syrian regime.
On February 16, the U.N. General Assembly voted 137–12 to condemn the violence in Syria and endorse the Arab League plan calling for Assad to step down. Of the 12 voting against the resolution, five were ALBA members. Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua joined with Venezuela and Cuba, siding with select company—Belarus, China, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Zimbabwe, and, of course, Syria.
As Chavez battles cancer and a resurgent political opposition, he can proudly add support for the commission of crimes against humanity to his list of accomplishments. This is certainly a campaign plank he can be proud of when elections take place in October.