"The more I see, the more I realize that almost no one really cares about right and wrong. They care about money and supporting anyone who opposes George W. Bush."
Over a coffee last week with a high-level official of our government, that was the comment made to me regarding the Hugo Chavez-Citgo-Joe Kennedy II propaganda campaign now running across our nation. In TV commercials and in full-page print advertising, former Rep. Joe Kennedy thanks "our good friends in Venezuela" for helping to heat America's poor.
Other than to accept blood money, the government official I spoke with was at a loss to understand why some in the American media would run ads by a thug who exploits and ignores the poor in his nation, creates fear in the region and is, as a major newspaper just described him, an ally to terrorists, drug traffickers and mass murderers.
Clearly, like Bolshevik revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, Venezuelan strongman Chavez has found his "useful idiots" in the guise of Mr. Kennedy; actors Sean Penn and Danny Glover; Democratic Reps. William Delahunt of Massachusetts and Jose Serrano of New York; and the sycophant he has installed to run Citgo here in the United States. All sing his praises, all do his bidding, and all shame themselves with their self-serving actions.
Those facilitating the Chavez-Citgo propaganda campaign — be it the above-mentioned or the likes of Major League Baseball, ESPN, the Indy Car series or numerous U.S. charities — need to ask themselves a question: Would they be doing the same thing for the governments of Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Idi Amin or even Adolf Hitler? Those who think this question is a stretch know next to nothing of the history of Hugo Chavez.
Speak with the governments of Colombia and Mexico. They will tell you that Mr. Chavez is not only funding various guerrilla movements in the region; he is also extending his power throughout Latin America, either directly with arms and military assistance or by bribing weak or needy leaders with oil or cash. One such example is the $800,000 in cash brought to Argentina on behalf of the government of Venezuela in the form of an illegal campaign contribution meant for now Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Those who naively support Mr. Chavez need to understand that his money truly is "blood money." This is a man who twice as a junior officer in 1992 tried to orchestrate a coup against the legally elected government of Venezuela. Who really knows how many innocent people were killed by Mr. Chavez and his followers during those coup attempts?
Should those who support Mr. Chavez and his various propaganda campaigns think "those murders were a long time ago so they shouldn't really count anymore," then maybe recent history will prove more relevant and chilling. According to our own State Department, the human rights violations in the Venezuela of today include unlawful killings, disappearances involving security forces, torture, the abuse of detainees, arbitrary arrests and continued attacks on the independent media.
Beyond that, in late 2006, the House Committee on Homeland Security outlined why our U.S. military and intelligence officials believe that Venezuela is emerging as a "hub of terrorism" in the Western Hemisphere. The report stated that Mr. Chavez is providing support — including documents — that could prove useful to radical Islamic groups. The report detailed how the Venezuelan government had issued thousands of cedulas — the equivalent of U.S. Social Security cards — to a number of suspect nations, including Middle East nations that host foreign terrorist organizations.
As U.S. citizens, companies and media outlets assist Mr. Chavez or happily take his money, they should also ask themselves why thousands of supporters of Hezbollah — the terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the United States — gleefully carry Mr. Chavez's picture through the streets of Lebanon? Why do they love him so?
In a sad and telling bit of irony, as Mr. Chavez sends his oil to the poor of the United States, his own people are going without milk, eggs, rice, toilet paper and basically every other staple. As they suffer from Latin America's highest inflation rates, they are forced to line up for hours or even days just to find and buy the necessities needed to feed themselves and their children.
Knowing that, why don't Joe Kennedy and all those who support the Chavez-Citgo oil program here sell the oil they get from Venezuela on the open market, and then use that money to buy food for the people of Venezuela?
That, or they could simply stop shilling for one of the world's leading terrorists.