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Madmen Bent on Destruction

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez will build 20 military bases in Bolivia, which will be situated on the borders with five other nations: Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Those installations will be under the control of Venezuelan and Cuban personnel, in complicity with Bolivian soldiers. Most certainly, the Cubans will carry Venezuelan passports and identification papers. It isn't easy to tell them apart. They're alike, even in their virtues and defects. The cost of the new Venezuelan armaments will rise to $30 billion. Venezuela has become the leading international buyer of arms and military equipment.

The plan reprises an old dream and early strategic concept created by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara: to turn Bolivia, a country in the heart of Latin America, into the subversive bastion of South America. That conviction cost Guevara his own life in 1967.

First target: Chile

Bolivia is a country from which the entire Andean region can be destabilized by fanning ethnic conflicts. It is a country (soon with the right bases) from which the new warplanes bought by Chávez in Russia can operate. I expect the Chileans -- the first targets in the sights of the Venezuelan colonel ready to ''swim in the Bolivian sea'' -- are aware of the enormous danger that will hang over them in the not-too-distant future.

Chávez, in cahoots with Evo Morales, intends to seduce and recruit the Bolivians into his revolutionary adventure by means of a gigantic aid plan that includes medical treatment, literacy campaigns and abundant food. He is sure that such massive aid will demolish any nationalistic wariness. He already is very much appreciated by the Bolivian masses and will be even more so in the future. Bolivia is the poorest country in the continent. Several hundreds of millions of dollars conveniently distributed (Chávez calculates) may achieve the miracle of attracting the enthusiastic adhesion of the neediest people and the complicity of the radical groups to the cause of a redemptive conquest of Latin America, a step on the road to 21st-century socialism.

No sense of boundaries

What we're witnessing is the consequence of a delirious vision of history and global political reality. Months ago, last December, that vision was explained in Caracas by Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque, and the world was foolish enough not to pay any attention. Castro and Chávez, two absolutely messianic characters without any vestige of prudence or sense of boundaries, came to the conclusion that Marxism had revived after the debacle that ended the Soviet Union and its European satellites 15 years ago. From that conclusion, they derived the sacred mission that both assumed with the responsibility and fervor of crusaders: Caracas and Havana would bear on their shoulders the task of redeeming a humanity cowardly abandoned by Moscow.

That's the hair-raising picture before our eyes: Caracas-Havana, and now La Paz, are the new Moscow, mother and father of world socialism. The task they have as signed themselves begins with the revolutionary conquest of South America and the installation in all its nations of sympathetic governments that will collaborate in the final battle against "imperialism.''

What is the objective of that battle? Obviously, to bring the United States and its despicable European acolytes to their knees. To end forever the iniquitous exploitation of the Third World by the creation of a grandiose collectivistic and egalitarian civilization that will reign eternally for the glory of humanity.

Hungry and hopeless

It would be a huge mistake to dismiss this blueprint to conquest just because it's the senseless madness of a couple of characters who didn't take Prozac when they should have. The Third Reich spawned by the Nazis was no less mad or absurd, yet it cost the world 40 million dead and the monstrous Holocaust. Cuba is an impoverished Third World island, hungry and hopeless, but that didn't deter its government from participating in successful coups d'etat in Madagascar and Yemen, or sending its troops to fight in bloody African wars, both in Angola and Ethiopia, for 15 years.

With his petrodollars and the help and guidance of the Cubans, who are expert and combat-tested, Chávez is building the largest Spanish-speaking army: 1.2 million men who will have at their disposal the most destructive air force in all of South America. Once that machine is well oiled, he won't hesitate to put it to use as the Cuban armed forces were once used. Once the tool is available, it will inevitably be put into operation. No matter that Chávez is mad. Madmen also kill.

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 Carlos Alberto Montaner
Carlos Alberto Montaner
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