Bolivarian sclerosis?

As Hugo Chavez flies off to visit old friends in Russia, Belarus and Iran, he may be regretting his decision to force the closure of the popular TV station RCTV (an action opposed by 70 percent of Venezuelans).

Venezuelan blogger Daniel Duquenal notes that Chavez and his government have appeared very much on the defensive since then. Student-led protests against the shutdown have continued, while calls from Chavez to his alleged supporters in the barrios to come down and challenge the students are met by a massive lack of revolutionary zeal.

One sign of the government’s nervousness and confusion is the downright reactionary nature of its response, reminding me of the American “Establishment”‘s reaction to the student protests of the 1960s.

For example, the Venezuelan student protesters have taken to holding the national flag upside-down as a sign of their anger. In response, the government produced this charming video, which all over-the-air TV stations in the country have been forced to broadcast:

Daniel translates the song as follows:

Who turns upside down his flag
Is not a good Venezuelan
He behaves like any villain
And does not love Venezuela
My flag is yellow
Blue and beautiful red
My flag must be respected
And must wave upright
Whoever puts it upside down
Offends the whole country
I want to claim it back
For our blessed fatherland

Imagine the reaction if all American TV stations had been compelled to broadcast a similar ditty about the US flag in the 1960s, when many anti-Vietnam war demonstrators displayed upside-down flags.

Last refuge of a scoundrel, anyone?

In keeping with the old-fuddy-duddy approach, Desiree Santos Amaral, vice president of the National Assembly, reacted to the students protests by calling on Venezuela’s mothers to keep their children at home.

They [who?] are using the boys as cannon fodder… I want to make a call to the Venezuelan mothers that they do not allow them to use their sons because they are looking for a dead body.

We’ve heard this before in other times and places, haven’t we?– the old appeal to parents to control their hotheaded, impressionable young and keep them away from the subversive elements orchestrating anti-government protests.

Incipient Bolivarian sclerosis, anyone?