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When Libertarians Provide Cover for Brutal, Authoritarian Regimes

By: Fergus Hodgson - @FergHodgson - Apr 2, 2014, 4:56 pm

EspañolNicolás Maduro, president of the Chavista regime in Venezuela — a nation embroiled in a communist nightmare — has found a friend in the New York Times. They published his op-ed this morning as “a call for peace.”

I suppose the need for peace is why he sends his colectivo goons out to shoot and kill unarmed student protesters, or why he imprisons his political opponents for organizing rallies.

As deceitful and laughable as the op-ed may be (read Marcela Estrada’s response from Caracas), I was surprised to read a follow-up from the Future of Freedom Foundation that comes to Maduro’s aid, even if unintentionally. That’s right, one of the most authoritarian rulers on the planet might as well have recruited libertarian and FFF President Jacob Hornberger to divert the blame for Venezuela’s instability to the United States, an ongoing theme of the international loyalists.

To be clear, at the PanAm Post we have published and will continue to publish articles from the Future of Freedom Foundation; I read a lot of their great work and have written for them. However, to see the president of such an organization lend legitimacy to Chavismo is extremely unfortunate, and it compels a rebuttal.

The headline, “The U.S. Government Should Butt Out of Venezuela,” is fine on its face — in so far as it advocates non-interventionism. But that is far from all the article has to say.

The entire article insinuates that the “U.S. Empire” is behind the uprising, although “it’s impossible to know for sure,” writes Hornberger. The “U.S. government does its best to keep its role in the process secret. That’s what ‘covert’ operations are all about.”

So, the only evidence presented is a few million dollars of foreign aid, for which the highest estimate I’ve read comes to US$5 million annually.

Not that I support foreign aid via taxation, but does anyone seriously believe that the bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., can achieve much of anything with $5 million? And I suppose the hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — of people attending protests around the world are also in on the US-funded ploy.

Contrast that with what Venezuela sends to Cuba, its closest (parasitic) ally: $13 billion — not to mention the oil wealth it throws around to buy other friends in the Americas. These friends then vote to silence Venezuela’s opposition at the Organization of American States.

But apparently, according to Hornberger, Maduro is independent, and that is why he is subject to regime change.

As we have seen time and time again, the core feature of the U.S. national-security state apparatus involves regime change, a policy that involves the ouster of independent foreign rulers, even democratically elected ones, and their replacement with pro-U.S. dictatorial puppets [emphasis mine].

There are many problems with the picture that Hornberger paints of Venezuela, including dismissing its inflation as akin to the inflation that users of the US dollar suffer from. However, this point about Maduro being democratically elected is precisely what the Chavista heir wants foreigners to believe.

If democracy is solely winning an election, then sure, Maduro won his election. However, if there is no independent media and free speech, elections and any claim to democracy are a sham. When I was down in Venezuela in January, for example, Maduro monopolized every single radio station on the dial, as he spoke for four hours, even through a popular baseball game that was blocked by the state apparatus.

The same went for all Venezuela-based TV channels, but that is just the start. Given the economically insane currency controls, newspapers can’t even get paper to print on! Then you have the outright censoring of numerous outlets, including the foreign TV channel NTN24, based in Colombia.

no-hay-periodico
“Without paper, there is no newspaper,” one sign reads in the March for Paper. Source: Twitter.

To top it off, Maduro’s chief political opponent, Leopoldo López, is a political prisoner — as documented by the Human Rights Foundation. The crime? He organized a peaceful protest, after which one of Maduro’s intelligence agents killed a student. Under the weight of evidence, even Maduro has had to admit that was the case, but López remains imprisoned.

One could go on, but the Chavista regime deserves only condemnation as an ultimate enemy of liberty and democracy, and the opposition need all the international support from libertarians that they can get.

Perhaps Hornberger has taken Maduro’s bait, given such an intense distrust towards the US military apparatus. However, Maduro is living proof that the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend.

Fergus Hodgson Fergus Hodgson

Fergus Hodgson was the founding editor in chief of the PanAm Post, up until January 2016, and he now studies finance at Tulane University in Louisiana and Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala. Originally from New Zealand, he has also lived in Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Ireland, and the United States. Follow @FergHodgson and his Facebook page.