Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Venezuela and the Strongman

Saying "south american dictator" is like saying "smelly frenchman" or "brazilian supermodel" it's just part of the language. Our hemisphere to the south has a tradition of being taken over by strongmen.

It's no surprise that Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez would try to takeover the oil assets of his country (it's the country's most valuable export). It's also no surprise that Chavez would try to eliminate dissenting voices as well. What has been surprising to me has been the reaction to his shutting down the TV station that broadcasts opposition programming critical of Chavez. Students, professionals, other citizens are demonstrating in the streets. Are we going to be witness to the overthrow of a dictator? I hope so. I also hope it's as bloodless as possible.

There are a bunch of links at Gateway Pundit. Also Fox News has continuing coverage as well.

Fox News reporter Adam Housley

6:13 p.m.: We have now moved yet again, our fifth location today. We are now live, the only network in the world, on the street between protesters and the police. Thousands are amassed on the streets to me; to my left, they're chanting and singing, faced off with police; to my right, the police are shoulder-to-shoulder, standing under a major overpass. An armored car is wedged within the line.
6:22 p.m.: Shots ... SHOTS FIRED! I grab a bag and slam it against a cement wall. It's as if I am standing on the banks of a roaring river. I'm close to danger, but safely on the bank. Rocks and bottles fly. The crowd scatters as the police lunge forward. I'm staying close to the ground and behind their shields. They open rapid fire with shotguns armed with rubber bullets. Some turn their heads as the blasts continue. Pop, pop, pop, pop ... we are against the wall. I sneak out, just a bit, to get our remaining piece of gear. My mask is covering my nose and mouth, in case of tear gas. I have goggles over my eyes. Some students have their own military-style gas masks. The police lunge further; the students have stopped about 100 yards away ... more rocks, more bottles. I grab my microphone with the FOX News logo and
hold it up yelling, "PRENSA, PRENSA!" (Press, Press!) I duck in behind the
police to get my photographer shooting video of the clash. Together, we dash
back to safety.
6:25 p.m.: The shooting stops and so does the rock throwing. The crowd chants again and the police retreat. Once again, there is a 20-yard space between the two. We are at an impasse. Periodically, over the next 30 minutes, students approach the officers with their hands in the air. Both sides talk, at least for a short bit and the standoff continues.
6:50 p.m.:
The students are still singing, but now they're sitting by the thousands. They
will not move, and neither will the police. I also get a call; apparently the
same types of clashes are taking place near the American embassy, and I am told
that a local cable station will be shut down by the government tonight.
Globovision is a local cable channel, like RCTV, and it's critical of the
Chavez reforms. Rumor has it that the owners and main anchor will be arrested.

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