Jewish World Review March 8, 2013/ 26 Adar 5773
Sic semper tyrannis
By Paul Greenberg
What? Do even Latin American caudillos die? Apparently, according to the latest and last medical bulletin on the health (or lack thereof) of
No doubt many Venezuelans are grieving at the news that he has proven mortal.
It ought to be quite a wake or celebration, depending on which Venezuelans are observing the occasion. No doubt those of both persuasions will be sincere, as many Russians mourned the death of their generalissimo when Stalin left this vale of tears he had done so much to make even tearier. While others breathed a (very) quiet sigh of relief, mindful that the secret police were still watching. Two news items may exemplify the gulf that
-- "I feel a sorrow so big I can't speak," said Yamilina Barrios, a 39-year-old clerk who works in the
Wherever there are despots on the rise, there will be those swept away by their admiration for El Jefe and the New Order he promises. They may not notice the shuttered newspapers, the mobs ready to do his bidding. Anybody who protests just doesn't understand that, to make an omelet, you have to break eggs. Maybe a lot of them.
-- Near the
That mob scene was all too typical of the intimidation with which
No petrodictator was ever so careful to observe the electoral rules and regulations after he had thoroughly jimmied them in his favor. Literally. Since a former American president, the ever-gullible and ever-incompetent
Comrade Lenin was said to have had a term for such Western types: useful idiots.
Now is not the time, nor is this the place for instant evaluations, or even a comprehensive one, of Comandante Chavez's tumultuous rise and reign. There will be plenty of opportunity for political post-mortems. Let us wait and let Clio, muse of history, lend her perspective. Now is the time to sit back and enjoy the show. For nothing can be livelier than a long-awaited state funeral.
To quote an observation from "Evita," a musical that remains as up-to-date as the latest dictatorship:
Oh what a circus! Oh what a show!
Over the death of an actress called
We've all gone crazy
Mourning all day and mourning all night
Falling over ourselves to get all of the misery right
Oh what an exit! That's how to go!
When they're ringing your curtain down
Demand to be buried like
It's quite a sunset
And good for the country in a roundabout way
We've made the front page of all the world's papers today. . .
And to think, the prognosis for
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