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Friday, May 06, 2005

Red Stains Are the Hardest to Get Out

While Vladmir Putin steers his state ever closer to its communist roots, the American press is slowly beginning to acknowledge that the new monuments of Stalin being constructed throughout Russia probably aren't a good thing. The Wall Street Journal has an excellent editorial to this end so I won't embarrass myself by doing a poor retread, but there is another story buried in the international section that merits a closer look.

Too many American's would be surprised to learn that we have our own oil rich, communist dictator right in our own backyard. "President" Hugo Chavez (trust me the quotation marks are more than appropriate) has been slowly nationalizing his country for years now, taking farm land, oil production, and anything else of value from foreign investors and redistributing it among "the people". Meanwhile, the left has been busy writing love letters and printing up "Viva Chavez" caps to go with their Che Guevara tees.

While the response from our liberal friends isn't surprising, the speed at which this worker's paradise is collapsing is. Most experts figured that Chavez could keep up this charade as long as oil prices stayed high, and anyone who doesn't own a hybrid can attest to the fact that they are. Why then, is Venezuela unable to meet production quotas set by OPEC? While Chavez himself has admitted a shortfall of 120,000 a day, independent analysts put the number closer to 500,000.

While I'd like to be able to sit back and laugh at Chavez reaping what he's sown, there are two reasons to be concerned about this. The first is obvious: output falls, oil prices rise, gas prices soar, and I can't afford to drive to work. The second is much darker. Chavez has commissioned "Operation Black Gold" to investigate alleged "sabotage" that is keeping the country from meeting its quotas. While analysts blame the shortfalls on poor management and a lack of skilled workers, Chavez has sent out military goons to find those responsible for attacking his infrastructure. Would anyone be surprised if the guilty parties include some of his loudest critics? In a world where Joseph Stalin can still be held up as a hero, America must not let this dictator establish himself any more than he has. Venezuela is slowly being dyed red with blood, and history has shown us that it's the hardest stain to get out.

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