Mike Gonzalez, a professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Glasgow and a member of the Socialist Workers Party, writes at Comment is Free:
[T]he response to the Libyan events from Latin America’s radicals has been perplexing and disturbing. [Hugo] Chávez himself has praised Gaddafi and echoed directly the views on the Libyan revolution offered by Fidel Castro. Castro has counselled caution and patience, warning that since the US media are consistently reporting the insurrection and denouncing Gaddafi’s brutal repression it must clearly be suspect. Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua, rushed to present himself to the press as a fervent supporter of the Libyan leader in his sterling defence of his nation.
“Disturbing”? Indeed. But “perplexing”? Doesn’t that imply an element of surprise? And what is in the least surprising about the reactions (or lack thereof) of Chavez, Castro and Ortega to Gaddafi’s murderous brutality?
Anyone who has paid attention over the years knows that these three put the highest priority on “anti-imperialism” and anti-Americanism. (On anti-Zionism, Castro partly broke from the pack recently, but it’s still part of Chavez’s repertoire.) Any leader who rhetorically toes the line on these matters gets a pass when it comes to other matters– such as their means of controlling internal opposition.
And so we’ve seen Chavez extend his brotherly embrace not only to Gaddafi, but also to Mugabe, Ahmadinejad, Assad, Lukashenko, and al-Bashir. And never once has he publicly spoken a word of criticism about their repressive regimes.
Perplexing? Prof. Gonzalez, it would have been perplexing if Chavez had not praised his friend and comrade the Libyan colonel.