President Obama's recent trip to three Latin American nations was absolutely surreal. For one thing, he launched a war against Libya from there. For another, he lauded and pledged support for offshore drilling in Brazilian waters that he has shut down in our own. And he spoke glowingly of the progress of democracy as though its forces were on the march in the region, rather than those of enemies of freedom.
What might have passed for Mr. Obama's willful blindness with respect to the rising threat posed by Chavismo - the rabidly anti-American regional campaign named for and sponsored by the dictator of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez - was revealed last week as perhaps something far more worrying, if not downright sinister: A deliberate effort by the Obama Justice Department to impede U.S. access to a key witness to Chavez's multifaceted malevolence.
If any reminder were needed of the threat posed by Chavez, Sunday's election in Peru would provide it. The top vote-getter in the first-round of presidential balloting there was Ollanta Humala, a military officer cut from the same radical leftist cloth as his ally and enabler who runs Venezuela increasingly with an iron fist. If Humala prevails in the run-off, his increasingly prosperous nation will join Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua in moving squarely into Chavez's orbit.
Add in the mentoring of the Castro brothers in Cuba and close working relationships with Brazil and Argentina through, among other channels, the insidious Forum of San Paolo, and you have a Latin America in which hostility towards the United States is fast becoming the norm, and freedom imperiled to a degree not seen since Ronald Reagan took on the Sandinistas in the 1980s. Mexico, long a buffer, is now embroiled in what some consider a civil war, effectively removing whatever impediments - however inadequate - previously existed there to migration into our country of dangerous elements from further south.
Meanwhile, unfriendly foreign powers - including China, Russia and Iran and terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad - are, with the active assistance of Chavez and his allies, establishing beachheads throughout the region. Beijing is buying up resources and establishing intelligence operations; Russia is selling arms and reestablishing its Soviet-era influence operations; and Middle Eastern terrorists, both state-sponsors and their proxies, are joining forces with narco-traffickers to make money, convert locals to shariah and run smuggling operations into the United States.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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