He's chums with Carlos the Jackal and Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, has declared himself a Maoist on a state visit to Beijing, and has stumped for the FARC, so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez backed the Chinese dictatorship in its spat with the Norwegian Nobel committee.
Last week, in a rare moment of moral clarity, the Nobel jury awarded the peace prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who is serving an 11 year prison sentence for "subversion." (According to fresh reports from Beijing, Liu's wife is now under house arrest.) From his jail call, Liu dedicated his prize to the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Naturally, the Chinese government was unhappy with the choice. And Chavez, fresh off of an electoral thrashing, is backing Beijing, a large investor in Venezuela's oil sector.
Speaking in his weekly radio and television program, Chavez scoffed at his Venezuelan political opponents who praised the giving of the peace prize to Liu.
Chavez said the opposition's support for the prize showed that "they are lackeys" of the West. "They are worse than the Yankees."
"Our greetings and solidarity go to the government of the People's Republic of China," Chavez said, adding: "Viva China! And its sovereignty, its independence and its greatness."
The Cuban state media also denounced Liu as a paid lackey of the United States—and then reported on yet another documentary about the indefatigable and handsome Che Guevara. But Soviet x-ray machine is free, compañero!
In related news, a women celebrating Liu's prize in Hong Kong was arrested for assault after "accidentally splashing champagne on a security guard."
I wrote about the politics of Mario Vargas Llosa's Nobel last week.