How Not to Prove Your Democratic Credentials


On his Sunday chat show Alo Presidente—which features el maximo comandante chatting to himself for six hours—Hugo Chavez declared that "foreigners" (i.e. foreign journalists) who criticize the Bolivarian revolution will be expelled from Venezuela. The Beeb has details:

"No foreigner can come here to attack us. Anyone who does must be removed from this country," he said during his weekly TV and radio programme. Mr Chavez also ordered officials to monitor statements made by international figures in Venezuela.

His comments came shortly after a senior Mexican politician publicly criticised the Venezuelan government. "How long are we going to allow a person—from any country in the world—to come to our own house to say there's a dictatorship here, that the president is a tyrant, and nobody does anything about it?" Mr Chavez said during his "Hello, President" broadcast on Sunday.

Seems that Chavez is taking a page from Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega's playbook (whose revolutionary anniversary he recently celebrated with a typically long-winded, belligerent stump speech). When Sandinista censor Nelba Blandon was asked (back in 1984) why the government had shut down an opposition newspaper, she replied: "They accused us of suppressing freedom of expression. That was a lie and we could not allow them to publish it."