Sunday, September 20, 2009

Carter on Chavez

A nuanced and balanced criticism, blunted somewhat by being expressed in Colombia, a country with a far worse human rights record than Venezuela.

This Europa Press article is translated by Google, so forgive some of the clumsiness of phrasing but oddly enough this piece has more of Carter's mea culpas for past American behavior than any American write-ups about his remarks I can find:

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter expressed his "political disappointment" about the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, because drift "authoritarian" by his government in an interview with the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo '.

But Carter said his country itself was involved or had full knowledge of the failed 2002 coup against Chavez."I think there is no doubt that in 2002, the U.S. had full knowledge or at least could be directly involved in the coup. So he (Chavez) has a legitimate complaint against the United States," he said.

The former president admitted that Chavez has undertaken a transformation needed to Venezuela, "by allowing those previously excluded have equal participation in national wealth," but later the Venezuelan president has "disappointed".

"Personally I was disappointed to see him depart from what I think was a fair chance and honestly, that was the result of legitimate elections, to a growing domination led him to take a more authoritarian government," he added.

In his remarks, Carter said that "both Venezuela and Chavez, as international relations, would be better if he stop attacking and criticizing the United States. "For me, they are increasingly random in nature, and unjustified," he said.

In this regard, the former president said he was certain that the U.S. president, Barack Obama, wants to have friendly relations, social, commercial and diplomatic, with Venezuela. "But he (Chavez) makes it almost impossible," he said. "We made mistakes in the past, and (so have) Venezuelan officials," he said.

Carter here expresses quite well my own growing misgivings about Chavez, brought to sharp relief by his embrace of Ahmadinejad as Iranians were being killed in the streets as they demonstrated for their rights. But the historical context is that as President, Carter was far more sanguine about vicious pro-American dictatorships like Indonesia.

Again his remarks were made in Colombia, where there have been claims that Carter will support free trade with the murderously anti-union state, but the Carter Center denies it.

UPDATE: The American press discovers Carter's admission that the USA probably supported the coup attempt in Venezuela. Cue squeals of outrage.

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