Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Tudor-Stuart-like alternation of the Bush-Clinton dynasties

Democracy in the Americas By ROGER COHEN NYT: December 6, 2007
The United States needs a new beginning. It cannot lie in the Tudor-Stuart-like alternation of the Bush-Clinton dynasties, nor in the macho militarism of Republicans who see war without end. It has to involve a fresh face that will reconcile the country with itself and the world, get over divisions — internal and external — and speak with honesty about American glory and shame.
Speaking of U.S. shame, I found myself thinking back as I watched the Caracas festivities to terrible scenes I witnessed in Santiago in 1986. Another Latin American strongman, a true dictator, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, had responded with savagery to an attempted assassination.
I wrote then in The Wall Street Journal of a kid called Alfredo Díaz who’d been beaten up by Pinochet’s goons:
“He has very little hair. This month, soldiers slashed off most of it, then stuffed it in his mouth. His wrists are dotted with circular burn marks. The soldiers stubbed out their cigarettes on him. His face is cut and his eyes restless with fear. They finished by dumping him naked in a pond.”
Díaz survived; more than 3,000 Chileans did not. In neighboring Argentina, more than 20,000 vanished as the junta’s corpse-dumping helicopters did their business. These cold-war crimes involved U.S. complicity. Chávez’s anti-Yankee rage, served up with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, has its Latin American resonance.
Such dark chapters have never been acknowledged with sufficient forthrightness by a U.S. leader. It’s time. Perhaps a president from a new generation would do so.
The Americas are a better place today. Openness has done its work. Chávez’s so-called revolution and other regional leftist rumblings reflect enduring social chasms, but Venezuela’s democracy with brio shows the length of the road traveled.
Let’s be clear: Chávez is a caudillo. His “socialismo” equals “Hugoismo.” He’s a menace. He’s about to introduce a new currency, the strong bolívar, with monetary policy in chaos, inflation rising toward 20 percent, and his crony bankers pocketing millions by arbitraging the disparity between the official and black-market rates.
Crime and drug-trafficking are thriving. He’s still a believer in building socialism through local councils for which the Russian translation would be “Soviets.” He accused his opponents of a “Pyrrhic victory” and vowed not to change a “comma” of his rejected reforms.
But his honoring of democracy’s brittle wonders still merits a salute. Above all, however, I salute the Venezuelan people. Chávez said before the referendum that a “no” vote equaled a vote for Bush. Unperturbed, Venezuelans went ahead. And they gave a civic example from which Bush’s battered and blathering democracy can learn. Nicholas D. Kristof is on book leave.

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