This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3263
November 28, 2007
By Emerson Vermaat
Venezuela's outspoken president Hugo Chavez loves political provocations. He used his presence at the recent seventeenth Iber-American Conference in Chile to lash out against former Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar calling him "a fascist." Spanish King Juan Carlos, usually a polite and phlegmatic man, was so upset that he told Chavez "to shut up." Chavez, however, did not shut up at all, he later even demanded that the "colonialist" and "imperialist" Spanish king apologize to him, threatening Spain with economic retaliations.
Meanwhile, Chavez has become a dangerous dictator himself who, like his great example Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, wants to be president for life. On Sunday December 2, there will be a national referendum on the new Venezuelan constitution granting Chavez wide-ranging, even dictatorial powers. And he is using exactly the same methods as the Nazis in the 1930s: intimidating opponents, politicizing the army and creating a single-party state. Like Hitler, Chavez, too, talks about a "revolution" which he wants to export to the rest of the world.
Hugo Chavez is a typical Latin American caudillo or leader. A caudillo, wrote Count Hermann Keyserling in 1933, is like a terrible beast of prey, he is not courageous but he has a blind will to power, he embodies a blind and total lust for power. He is only interested in conquering power, and once in power he wants to keep and expand it. He becomes a dangerous dictator when he is victorious.[1
Adolf Hitler, too, was a dangerous caudillo. The German word for caudillo is Führer, and that is how the Nazis referred to Hitler: "You, my Führer, have given us our daily bread this year also," Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels said in a speech on May 1, 1935.[2The truth about Hitler, however, was that he was both terrible and banal,[3 a rude and unpleasant kind of person (who could be very charming in the company of women, though), a friend of dictators like Mussolini.
Hugo Chavez is not very different. (In September 2006 he called George Bush the devil, telling the UN General Assembly in New York that this very place stank like sulphur because the devil – Bush – had been there to address the Assembly.)[4 There are a lot of similarities between Chavez and Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and other fascists. His behavior and manners are much more fascistic than the behavior and manners of those whom he likes to call fascists or devils spreading around the smell of sulfur. His emotional outbursts and charisma, his many empty promises and blind lust for power, his desire to stay in power forever, the way he abolished democracy, the way he got rid of the independent media, the thrift towards totalitarianism – everything reminds us of one thing only: the ghosts of fascism are returning, even though Chavez claims to be a Marxist. I think it was Hannah Arendt who once observed that the two most brutal totalitarian dictators of the 1930s and 1940s – Hitler and Stalin – secretly admired each other.[5 There is an excellent saying in French, namely: "Les extrèmes se touchent" ("the extremes touch").
Chavez and Hitler
Both Hitler and Chavez came to power through democratic elections and established totalitarian rule after asking parliament to adopt an Enabling Act. Totalitarian movements invade parliament, they abuse democratic freedoms in order to abolish them, Hannah Arendt wrote.[6 Both Hitler and Chavez previously attempted to come to power by means of a coup, and both got away with very mild prison sentences afterwards. Both Hitler and Chavez became dominant political factors just six to seven years after their initial attempts to stage a coup. Both of them succeeded in appealing to the masses, promising them a much better life once they would rule over them. Both glorify militarism and military power (Chavez is fond of military uniforms), both are hot-tempered and easily offended. Of course, there are many differences between Hitler Chavez, but the similarities are just too striking to ignore.
§ Failed coup attempts. After a fiery speech in a Munich Beer Hall in November 1923, Adolf Hitler, some of his Nazi friends (Himmler, Frick and Göring among them) as well as World War I hero general Erich Ludendorff staged a coup in Munich, Bavaria, proclaiming the formation of a National Government. In an exchange of fire with the Bavarian police, sixteen Nazis and three policemen were subsequently killed. Hitler was arrested a few days later. His "Beer Hall Putsch" had failed. The young and fanatical Hitler was tried and sentenced to five years' imprisonment, of which he served only nine months. Ludendorff was acquitted.[7 In prison, Hitler wrote his notorious book Mein Kampf ("My Struggle") and laid out a strategy to conquer power. Hitler wrote about "the parliamentary institution in which irresponsibility of the purest breed is cultivated."[8 It was in 1992 that Venezuelans first heard of army captain Hugo Chavez Frías when he and a group of armed soldiers attacked the Channel 8 TV station, killing a defenseless employee of the station. Chavez wanted to broadcast a message that he and his men had taken over the country. The coup failed and Chavez was subsequently tried. After two years in jail, he was pardoned by the president. During the trial and in jail, Chavez was very resilient. He liked to give interviews to the media. He, too, used his time in jail to brood over the right strategy to take over the country.
§ Establishing a totalitarian dictatorship after democratic elections. Hitler's Nazi Party (NSDAP) gained about one-third of the votes in the elections of July and November 1933. In January 1933 Reich (State) president Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler to Reich Chancellor. This was made possible because Franz von Papen and other conservative German politicians wanted to allign themselves with the Nazis in what was coined a government of national elevation (Kabinett der Nationalen Erhebung). The ambitious Von Papen became vice-chancellor. Hitler immediately wanted to further consolidate his power and pressed for new elections which were held on March 5, 1933. The Nazi Party gained 43,9 percent of the votes. The Nazis now began a systematic campaign to reign in the other parties and by the summer of 1933 Germany had turned into a single-party dictatorship.[9 In less than half a year Hitler increased the central powers of the state (Reich) at the expense of regional and local powers. Hugo Chavez, a populist, became Venezuela's democratically elected president in February 1999 and was reelected in 2000 and 2006. The National Assembly's functions were taken over by a seven member "Judicial Emergency Committee" in the summer of 1999. A new "Constitutional Assembly" was created which would be more amenable to the president's wishes, the bicameral National Assembly was converted into a unicameral legislature. A new constitution was adopted which expanded presidential powers. Chavez also increasingly attacked the free press establishing a populist dictatorship with his Movimiento Quinta República (Fifth Republic Movement or MVR) as the driving political force. In December 2006, however, Chavez suddenly called for the creation of a new party, the "United Socialist Party of Venezuela," which was to replace the MVR and the other pro-government parties.[10 In line with his "socialist" ideals, an increasing number of nationalizations (media, phone companies, energy sector, etc.) is being carried out. Chavez portrays himself as the new Simon Bolivar. It is his mission is to liberate the whole Latin American continent from American "imperialism." This is why he consistently refers to his own totalitarian initiatives as the "Bolivarian Revolution." Hitler, too, proudly talked about a revolution, the "national revolution," that is. Just like Hitler, the new Latin American caudillo Chavez invariably appeals to the masses, especially to the poor and the underprivileged promising them work and money. Like Hitler, Chavez, too, strongly increased central state power at the expense of regional power. The Venezuelan leader got rid of the "western" concept of separation of powers. The president now exerts control over the Supreme Court, the National Election Council and the National Assembly. The army, too, is fully politicized. Like in Cuba, Chavez's soldiers now shout slogans like "Patria, socialismo o muerte!" ("Fatherland, Socialism or death!")[11
§ Passing an Enabling Act (Ermächtigungsgesetz) with a view to creating dictatorial powers. Hitler was not satisfied with the chancellorship. He wanted more powers to sideline the other political parties even further. Inmediately after he had won the March 5 elections he began to press for the adoption of an Enabling Act (Ermächtigungsgesetz). But he first needed the support of the Catholic Center Party (Zentrumspartei) to secure a two-thirds majority in parliament. Suddenly, the new Reich Chancellor turned out to be very accomodating by fulfilling most of the Center Party's wishes. But he later failed to honor all his solemn pledges and promises. And on the very day of the vote – March 23, 1933 – armed and unfriendly looking SA and SS men occupied the parliament building intimidating those who belonged to non-Nazi parties. All members of the Center Party voted in favor of the Enabling Act. Just four months later the party which had done quite well in the March 5 elections, simply ceased to exist.[12 Hitler used the Enabling Act to root out all opposition to his increasingly totalitarian rule and create a single-party state. In the summer of 1933 single-party rule had been fully realized in Nazi Germany. In July 1933 a "law against the formation of parties" was introduced which formally vindicated the existence of the National Socialist single-party state. Parliament was now reduced to merely an applauding machine, there was no opposition at all.[13Hugo Chavez has achieved (almost) the same thing. He called for the creation of a United Socialist Party. Opposition parties are no longer represented in the National Assembly, the Venezuelan parliament. On January 31, 2007, parliament unanimously adopted the Enabling Act, authorizing Chavez to rule by decree for a period of 18 months. Chavez now wants to transform Venezuela into a totalitarian socialist society modelled on Cuba. This was, , the third time that Chavez was granted special powers to accelerate the path of his "Bolivarian revolution."[14 Chavez also increased the number of terms he can be relected. Like his "great examples" Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) and Alexander Lukashenko (White Russia), Chavez plans to be president for life (reelección indefinida)[15, changing parliament into a mere applauding machine: "Long live president Hugo Chavez! Long live socialism!" is the new politically correct slogan shouted by speaker Cilia Flores and the other parliamentarian delegates.[16 (Similar slogans were heard in the Rumanian parliament in the 1980s when delegates obsequiously and hysterically praised the notorious communist dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu, "the Genius of the Carpathians.") On December 2, there will be a national referendum on a new constitution granting Chavez wide-ranging and dictatorial powers.
Chavez and Ahmadinejad: two "revolutionary brothers"
Hugo Chavez has two remarkably close friends: Cuban leader Fidel Castro, a Marxist-Leninist, and the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a fascist.
Since Ahmadinejad became president of Iran in August 2005, a lot has changed in the country. The process of gradual liberalization which started under his predecessor Khatami has been reversed. The police state came back, women's rights were curtailed. A decision was taken to accelerate the nuclear program which Ahmadinejad claims is peaceful.
Ahmadinejad grew up in the rough and poor neigborhoods of southern Tehran. He played a leading role in the student organization OSU ("Strengthen the Unity"), a kind of "Hitler-Youth." In November 1979, OSU and other radical Muslim students occupied the American embassy taking all US diplomats and other US personnel hostage. Ahmadinejad later denied he was one of the hostage takers. But several former hostages claim they recognized the president-elect from still and moving pictures and named him as one of the captors. In his excellent study Guests of the Ayatollah Mark Bowden says there is no doubt, that "Ahmadinejad was one of the central players in the group that seized the embassy and held hostages... Many of those involved in the take-over have risen to the highest positions in the Iranian government."[17Ahmadinejad also joined the militant Revolutionary Gardists, and worked in the notorious Evin-prison where he brutally interrogated prisoners and passed a lot of death sentences which he often carried out himself. He soon had the reputation of being a brutal interrogator and executioner. Later he played an important role in the Iran-Iraq war where he excelled in sabotage missions. He also founded the deathsquad "Al Quds" which liquidated a number of Iranian dissidents in Europe and the Middle East.
Later he became governor of Arbil, and it did not take long before he clashed with the reform-minded Iranian president Mohammed Khatami. But in 2003 Tehran's poor and underprivileged elected him mayor of Tehran.
Chavez and Ahmadinejad immediately liked each other. It was love at first sight. Ahmadinejad calls Chavez his "dear brother and trench mate." Chavez, in turn, praises Ahmadinejad's "wisdom and strength." Both presidents are vehementy anti-American and anti-Bush.
Chavez's first visit to Iran was in May 2001, where he and the Iranian president at the time, Khatami, signed of number of cooperation agreements. Chavez announced he had come to Iran "to consolidate the unity between the two nations." There was a "strategic alliance in the making."[18 Khatami visited Venezuela three times. But Chavez was even more thrilled when Khatami was succeeded by the more militant Ahmadinejad. Chavez became one of the strongest supporters of Iran's nuclear program and soon began to cooperate closely with the Iranians in this field. Another binding factor was the opposition of both leaders to the American invasion of Iraq.
Chavez paid four visits to Iran in just two years (2006 and 2007). He received the "Order of the Islamic Republic of Iran, First Grade" during a ceremony at the University of Tehran in July 2006. It was on his birthday (July 28) that he received Iran's highest honor. It was also in recognition of his support to the Iranian leaders in their nuclear standoff with the international community. Chavez used the occasion to call on all countries to stop Israel's "fascist crimes." "What Israel is doing is fascism and terrorism. We call on the world to stop Israel's insanity," he said. "US President George W. Bush claims he has a connection with God every day, but, in fact, he has a connection with the devil because no other country has put humanity in danger like the United States," the Tehran Times reported him saying.[19He heaped praise on his host Ahmadinejad calling him "a brave person." And Iran, he flattered, "is a land of divine prophets and fighters."
In September 2006 it was Chavez's turn to receive his Iranian friend and strategic ally in Caracas, and award him Venezuela's highest medal of honor, Libertador. Both presidents signed 25 cooperation agreements. Ahmadinejad criticized "US hegemonistic imperialism," and praised his "revolutionary brother Hugo Chavez." "The distance between our countries may be a bit far, but the hearts and thoughts are very close," Ahmadinejad said. Chavez described Iran and Venezuela as "two heroic nations," and said: "Iran is generously transferring technology to us. Two revolutions are giving each other a hand."[20
Three days before, both Chavez and Ahmadinejad had attended the 14th conference of non-alligned nations in Havana, Cuba. Chavez promised help to Cuba and Iran in case these countries would be attacked by the United States ("Venezuelan blood will then flow in Cuba.") Ahmadinejad told Chavez there were indeed plans to invade Iran.[21
Ahmadinejad was again in the region in January 2007. He first traveled to Venezuela where Chavez welcomed him as "a fighter for just causes, a revolutionary and a brother."[22 The discussions mainly focussed on oil production cuts – both Venezuela and Iran are important oil producers and OPEC members – and on a common strategy to oppose "US hegemony in the region." A two billion US dollar fund was created "to help the poor nations of Latin America and Africa to liberate themselves from the US imperialist yoke." Chavez said the fund will become "a mechanism for liberation."[23Ahmadinejad then traveled to Managua, Nicaragua, to meet the newly elected Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, another leftist. The Iranian president called Ortega "a symbol of justice, and a brother and friend." "This visit," he said, "is not just a matter of protocol, it is a coming together of two brotherly revolutions and two brotherly peoples." Ortega said that both brotherly peoples were struggling for justice and peace.[24 The two nations decided to open embassies in each other's capitals, "because," emphasized Ahmadinejad , "both countries have common interests and common enemies."[25
Ahmadinejad subsequently left for Quito, Ecuador, to attend the inauguration of the new Ecuadorian president Rafael Corea, a leftist economist who believes that "21st century socialism" must be realized in the whole Latin American continent. It was here that Ahmadinejad met Bolivian president Evo Morales, another ally of Chavez, and Brazilian president Luis Inácio Lula.
It is clear that both Iran and Venezuela now seek to expand their influence by creating an anti-US bloc in the western hemisphere in accordance with the Arab proverb: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." But Argentina is not willing to join the new alliance of leftists and Iranian fundamentalists. Argentinian justice authorities indicted former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani and 11 other high ranking Iranians because of their alleged role in a terrorist attack against Jewish targets in Buenos Aires in 1994. (Argentinian president Néstor Kirchner was conspicuous by his absence at Rafael Corea's inauguration in Quito.)[26 And Brasilian president Lula, Chilian president Michelle Bachelet as well as Mexican president Felipe Calderón are equally wary of Chavez's outspokeness and his regional ambitions. Colombian president Alvaro Uribe suspects that Chavez is supporting Colombian drug lords and FARC guerrillas.
Police and security services in several Latin American countries reported that Iranian, Hezbollah and Hamas operatives or agents have stepped up their activities in recent years. An international cocaine ring in Ecuador, Brasil and the United States was broken up by the Ecuadorian police in June 2005. The group was linked to Hezbollah through Lebanese immigrants. An Arab restaurant in Quito was used as a front and the group recruited airport officials to evade security checks. The gang sent seventy percent of the profits – millions of dollars – to Hezbollah. Most of the cocaine was sent to Europe and Asia.[27
Venezuela announced in November 2007 it would start its own peaceful nuclear program, similar to the one in Iran. That same month, Hugo Chavez paid another visit to Iran where the two presidents predicted "the end of US imperialism." They also discussed the recent OPEC meeting in Riad, Saudi Arabia, where Iran and Venezuela had exerted strong pressure to dump the dollar. "They get our oil and give us a worthless piece of paper," Ahmadinejad said. The Saudis were strongly opposed, but pressure to link the price of oil barrels to euros instead of dollars is growing. Chavez urged OPEC "to assert itself as an active political agent."[28
Chavez calls for the release of bin Laden admirer and convicted terrorist Carlos the Jackal
Today, a radical leftist like Hugo Chavez is courting terrorists and former terrorists, especially those who have a Latin American background. Columnist J.R. Nyquist wrote in July 2003 that Chavez attempted to win the release of Carlos the Jackal, the Venezuelan terrorist brought up on communism and educated in Moscow.[29Carlos has been involved in spectacular terrorist attacks in Europe including the attack against the Israeli Olympic Athletes in Munich in 1972, a raid in Vienna in 1975 when his group took 11 OPEC oil ministers hostage and a train bombing in France in 1982.
Carlos the Jackal is currently serving a life sentence in France where he converted to radical Islam and became an ardent admirer of Osama bin Laden. In 2003 he wrote a book on "Revolutionary Islam" praising the Al-Qaeda leader as "a brilliant example." "From now on terrorism is going to be more or less a daily part of the landscape of your own rotten democracies, he wrote."[30Another interesting quote: "All revolutionaries, including those of the left, even atheists, should accept the leadership of Osama bin Laden." Carlos urges Islamist groups to conclude alliances with Maoists and nationalists.[31
It is remarkable that a man like Hugo Chavez called for the release of Carlos the Jackal in the very year that this notorious Venezuelan terrorist plegded his allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Carlos praised bin Laden for what happened on 9/11, it was something he had very much wished to have done himself, he said. The September 11 attacks were "a lofty feat of arms" and part of an armed struggle to liberate the holy places of Islam and win justice for the Palestinians.[32September 11 will be a signal of jihad, the permanent revolution. "I promise a triumphant future for revolutionary Islam."[33 But already three years before 9/11 did Carlos the Jackal express strong admiration for Osama bin Laden. "Our paths have been different, but we have the same enemy, and I wish him (bin Laden) the greatest success in his fight," Carlos told the French newspaper France Soir in November 1998.[34
What is highly interesting and fascinating is that extreme leftists and (former) Marxists are now forming alliances with, or expressing support for extremely conservative Muslims like Osama bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Once again, the extremes touch.
Chavez: friend and ally of Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad
Today, it is quite fashionable for neo-Nazis and fascists to deny the Holocaust. It never took place, it is a Jewish or "Zionist" fabrication, a myth, they say. Other neo-Nazis and writers like David Irving claim that the numbers of those who died in the deathcamps have been vastly exxagerated.
It is also interesting to note that some prominent former Marxists (Roger Garaudy in France, for example) and former Marxist terrorists (Horst Mahler in Germany, for example), later joined the fascist and neo-Nazi camp.
What links Chavez's friend and ally Ahmadinejad to today's neo-Nazis and fascists is the latter's blunt denial of the Holocaust. "The West has given more significance to the myth of the genocide of the Jews," Ahmadinejad told a mass meeting in the southeastern city of Zahedan in the summer of 2005. "They fabricated a story about the massacre of the Jews and place this above God, religion and the prophets," he said. "If you have burned the Jews, why don't you give a piece of Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to Israel?" "Our question is, if you have committed this huge crime, why should the innocent nation of Palestine pay for this crime?"[35
It was only two months earlier that Ahmadinejad convened a conference on "The world without Zionism." "There, he quoted his great example Ayatollah Khomeini who once said: "Israel must be wiped off the map." "There is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will soon wipe off this disgraceful blot (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world," the Iranian president added. "The Islamic Umma (=community) will not allow its historic enemy to live in its heartland."[36
This call for the complete destruction of the Jewish State echoes a notorious speech made by Hitler in the German Reichstag on the eve of the Second World War. In that ecstatic speech the German Führer announced the destruction of the Jewish race in Europe.[37
Similarities between Hitler and Ahmadinejad
There are, incidentally, striking similarities between the speeches of Adolf Hitler and those made by Ahmadinejad. Both repeatedly invoked God, the Creator and the Almighty. Ahmadinejad told a group of Iranian Mullahs in 2005, that strange things happened when he addressed the UN General Assembly in New York.
"When I was addressing the leaders of the world, none of them could move their eyes off me as if an invisible hand had hold them tight, they could not blink. After the speech, one of the participants told me that while I was talking I saw a capsule of light surrounded me. I felt it myself, too."[38
Some of those who covered Hitler's speeches in Nazi Germany, noticed similar things:
"The susceptibility of the Chancellor's mind to psychic influences is shown in his public oratory. At the outset of a speech his delivery is sometimes slow and halting. Only as the spiritual atmosphere engendered by a great audience takes possession of his mind does he develop that eloquence which acts on the German nation like a spell. For he responds to this metaphysical contact in such a way that each member of the multitude feels bound to him by an individual link of sympathy.
His own awareness of a psychic sense would seem to be indicated by one of the stories he tells of his experiences in the war (WW I, EV).
‘I was eating my dinner in a trench with several comrades,' he says. ‘Suddenly a voice seemed to be saying to me, ‘Get up and go over there.' It was so clear and insistent that I obeyed automatically. As if it had been a military order. I rose at once to my feet and walked twenty yards along the trench, carrying my dinner in its tin-can with me. Then I sat down to go on eating, my mind being once more at rest.
Hardly had I done so when a flash and deafening report came from the part of the trench I had just left. A stray shell had burst over the group in which I had been sitting, and every member of it was killed.'"[39
Others reported that Hitler "exercised, especially with his almost hypnotic eyes, a curious magnetism." Hugo Jaeger, one of Hitler's personal photographers believed there were diabolic or monstrous forces at work:
"We were in a hall, thousands and thousands of people, and something monstrous happened. There was a mass suggestion at work, a fluid in the air, and everybody, men as well as women, abruptly began to tremble and weep and howl, and all the while Hitler sat up there without saying a word, without stirring, just staring at them."[40
Hitler's architect Albert Speer also described the Führer's "magnetic power over people" (seine Fähigkeit die Menschen suggestiv zu beherrschen).[41Hitler believed in evil omens, he was superstitious, Speer writes.[42
Hitler believed God had predestined him to save Germany from the Jews. This was his holy mission:
"And so I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord."[43
Replace the word "Jew" by "Zionist entity" or "Israel," and Ahmadinejad could have said precisely the same. This Iranian leader believes it is his mission to destroy the Jewish state which occupies holy Muslim land. It is the same totalitarian spirit, the same demonic evil of anti-Semitism – then and now. Today, Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad calls for the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel just like Hitler once called for the destruction of the Jews in Europe.
Ahmadinejad's "Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust"
It was in December 2006 that Ahmadinejad convened an "International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust." In a previous interview with a German magazine Ahmadinejad suggested that those who deny the Holocaust are persecuted in Europe. It is true, denying the Holocaust is a crime in Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Rumania, Slovakia and Spain – and rightly so. But now, Holocaust deniers were welcome guests and speakers at just another highly controversial conference in Tehran. Even David Duke, a one-time "Grand Wizard" of the notorious Klu Klux Klan (KKK), was there, and his obscurantist views illuminated the conference. Another interesting attendee was an Australian engineer named Richard Krege. He maintained "the allegation of diesel exhaust chambers to be an ‘outright lie,' and showed a model of the Treblinka extermination camp to illustrate this."
"He claimed that up to 10,000 people died in the camp, and of disease, not extermination. Most historians believe that at least 800,000 prisoners were murdered in the camp. ‘There is no scientific proof to show that this place was an extermination camp. All that exists are the words of some people."[44
The Holocaust denial theme is a very important issue for Ahmadinejad. The Iranian leader is not just courting Hugo Chavez of Venezuela but also other leftist presidents in Latin America. Presidents like Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, once a Marxist, now a leftist Catholic. Immediately after he visited his good old friend Chavez in January 2007, Ahmadinejad flew to the Nicaraguan capital of Managua with a view to strengthening the bonds between oil rich Iran and poor Nicaragua where Daniel Ortega had been elected president a few months before. Ortega had also been president of this Central American country in the 1980s. He was then one of the leaders of the pro-Cuban "Sandinist Front of National Liberation" (FSLN). Now, Ortega seems to have slightly moderated his tone. Hugo Chavez sees Ortega as a friend and ally and made a lot of promises about giving aid to the poor Nicaraguans, but kept very few of them.[45
It was in Managua that Iranian president Ahmadinejad gave a long interview to Augusto R. Zamora, a Spanish newspaper reporter from El Mundo. Zamora also asked questions on Ahmadinejad's views on Israel. The Iranian president preferred to talk about the "Zionist illegal regime." "This regime has been created to threaten other peoples," he said. "It is a dictatorial, totalitarian regime in the region." (This reminds us of what Christ said in Matthew 7 verse 3: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye, with never a thought for the great plank in your own? You hypocrite!")
Zamora then asked Ahmadinejad about reports according to which the Iranian president advocates the destruction of Israel. Ahmadinejad quickly invoked the Holocaust theme, saying:
"If the Holocaust has been a reality, if it happened, why is there no clear information (informacción clara) about it? Why don't they allow to investigate this theme... They don't allow questions to be asked about it. If there really was a Holocaust, where did it happen? Why blame the Palestinian people?"[46
Those who "ask questions" about the Holocaust are, of course, the very ones who doubt that the Holocaust ever occurred – Ahmadinejad's friends the Holocaust deniers who are "persecuted" in Europe. In his view the Holocaust is a western lie, a myth, to justify the existence of Israel.
The Iranian president had raised the same themes in an earlier interview with three editors from the German weekly Der Spiegel saying that there are two different views about the Holocaust: "Those who are more politically motivated say that the Holocaust happened. But there is another group of scholars who believe the opposite, and most of them are in jail now." Question: "Do you still adhere to the view that the Holocaust is a myth?" Ahmadinejad: "I can only accept something to be true, when I am really convinced of it."[47 Ahmadinejad again stressed that if the Holocaust did occur, it is Europe that must bear the consequences, and not Palestine. "If it did not occur, the Jews must go back to where they came from. I believe the German people today is a prisoner of the Holocaust." The editors from Der Spiegel were upset and said: "It is not possible for us as Germans to cleanse ourselves of a specific guilt, namely the systematic murder of the Jews."
The idea that the Jews of Israel must go back to Europe, is outrageous. History cannot be reversed.
In July 2007 Ahmadinejad once again called for the destruction of Israel, but now in an even more ominous way: "The sons of Lebanon (=Hezbollah) and Palestine have pressed the button of the countdown of the destruction of the Zionist regime," he said.[48The expression "pressing the button" is usually associated with firing nuclear missiles. One can now understand why Israel is highly concerned about Iran's nuclear program. When a religious fanatic like Ahmadinejad says things like this, there is reason to be very worried indeed. He is a man who claims to see visions, who feels he is surrounded by divine light, he is a man who, just like Hitler, claims to have a divine mission.
Mohammed Reza, a 36-year old Iranian refugee in Holland, did not believe that the Holocaust is a myth. He paid a visit to Auschwitz and was shocked by what he saw there. "When I lived in Iran," he told a Dutch newspaper in January 2007, "I did not want to know anything about the Jews. But now I know the truth, and I will do everything to pass it on to others."[49 Reza suspects Ahmadinejad is, in fact, a Jew-hater:
"This man's bragging made me think. I wondered why he is so vehemently against Israel. We Iranians are Persians, aren't we? We are not Arabs. And yet there was an exhibition showing cartoons about the Holocaust in Tehran. But in Iran you are not allowed to talk about what really happened during World War II."[50
Chavez and the Latin American drug trade
Since Hugo Chavez became president of Venezuela the local drug trade has proliferated. In 2003 75 tons of cocaine was smuggled out of Venezuela, in 2008 the number rose to 276 tons (between January and early November). In the eight years of his presidency did Chavez very little to reverse this trend and rein in the international criminal networks, writes Moisés Naím in the Spanish newspaper El Páis.[51What happened was that Venezuela was transformed into an important operational center of criminal gangs which operate internationally. These networks use West African criminals in countries like Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Ghana who transport the cocaine to Europe. Naím quotes a high ranking Dutch police official who told him that he and his European colleagues now spend more time in Caracas than in Bogotá. Most of the important drug cartel lords now operate in and from Venezuela, because it is much more efficient and nobody intervenes with their activities.
Andy Webb Vidal, the Financial Times correspondent in Caracas, reported in May 2006 that South American cocaine trafficking operations now shift towards Venezuela:
"The three alleged leaders of Colombia's Norte del Valle cartel – the country's main drug trafficking group since the demise of the Medellín and Cali cartels – are believed by US, European and Colombian counternarcotics officials to be based in Venezuela. They are Diego Mantoya Sánchez, known as ‘Don Diego,' who is on the FBI's list of 10 most-wanted fugitives; Wilber Varela-Fajardo, known as ‘Jabón'; and Juan Carlos Ramírez, alias ‘Chupeta.' (...) In addition, Luis Gómez Bustamante, alias ‘Rasguno,' an alleged senior member of the Norte del Valle cartel who is wanted by Colombian and US courts, was arrested in Cuba in 2004 while travelling on a false Venezuelan passport."[52
One of Venezuela's main traffickers, Eudo González Polanco was shot dead by the police in 2004. "Gónzalez and seven of his associates, four of whom were Colombian, had identity cards issued to them by the intelligence division of the National Guard, the Venezuelan institution that is most responsible for counternarcotics and border security."[53
US and Colombian authorities are now very worried about the possibility that the Venezuelan military have been infiltrated by criminal drug trafficking organizations. Colombian Marxist guerrillas form the FARC can also operate without impunity in the frontier zone between Colombia and Venezuela. They are equally engaged in cocaine trafficking. A recently demobilized FARC source who knows the area quite well, told Andy Webb Vidal that:
"FARC colleagues would typically bring 1,000 to 1,500 kg of cocaine every two weeks from labs in Guainía and Vichada, in eastern Colombia, by motorised canoe to the border at San Mariapo, on the eastern bank of the Orinoco river, in Venezuelan Amazonia.
He said: ‘Once accross the river, the FARC would make a payment to the National Guard and then transport the drugs in four-wheel drive vehicles to an estate called Las Nieves.' He said the estate was a few hours' drive towards Caicara, in Bolivar state."
The source stated: ‘Every three days a lighter aircraft would come from Caracas, and every time it would be the same pilot. He would load three or four sacks of cocaine, and then go back to Caracas."[54
The demobilized FARC source also said his unit moved about 30 tonnes of cocaine into Venezuela per year.
The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2007 says that Venezuela's rampant high corruption, weak judicial system and lack of international counternarcotics cooperation increasingly enables a growing illicit drug transshipment industry.[55Organized crime is flourishing, and seizures and arrests are limited to low-level actors, the report says. The Chavez government is blamed for this. Although a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the government of Venezuela refuses to cooperate on counternarcotics with any of the key countries affected by the drugs transiting from Venezuela. Venezuela refuses to cooperate with the DEA - the US Drug Enforcement Administration -, and expelled all DEA officials in August 2005, accusing them of espionage. As a result, drug production and transhipment showed a rapid increase.[56 It is now estimated that 200 metric tons of cocaine transit Venezuela annually. Colombian guerrilla organizations like the FARC move through parts of Venezuela without significant interference from the Venezuelan security forces.
Venezuela has been transformed into a paradise for drug traffickers. The number of suspicious flights from Venezuela to Haiti and the Dominican Republic had increased 167 percent in the last twelve months, a State Department official said in March 2007.[58
What about Chavez's friend and ally Fidel Castro? Ten years ago I had a long conversation with Dariel Alarcón Ramírez ("Benigno"), who fought with Che Guevara in Africa and Bolivia. He later became a high ranking official in the Cuban Interior Ministry. He asked for political asylum in France in 1996. Benigno told me that Fidel Castro secretly allowed Cuba to be used as a transit route by drug smugglers. He wrote in his memoirs that the highest Cuban authorities knew about the drug trade, loads of marihuana and cocaine were confiscated. Marihuana was destroyed by Cuban border troops, cocaine was never destroyed.[59
It is easy to blame others, and tell them they are "fascists," "devils" or "imperialists" while at the same time calling totalitarian states like Iran a strategic ally. Two thousand years ago Christ rebuked those who were "looking at the speck of sawdust in the eyes of others, with never a thought for the great plank in their own eye." He called people who behave and act like this hypocrites. Chavez is a dangerous hypocrite with a big mouth, he reminds us of Hitler, Mugabe and Lukashenko all of whom came to power after democratic elections. They abused parliamentary democracy to establish totalitarian rule, or in Hannah Arendt's words, "abused democratic freedoms in order to abolish them."
Hugo Chavez, Latin America's new caudillo, thinks he can control the whole region because he has a lot of oil. His regional ambitions can only be ignored at our own peril. He has already shown interest in the militarily weak Netherlands Antilles claiming that the region must be freed from "colonialism" and that every piece of land within 200 nautical miles (370 km) of the Venezuelan coast belongs to Venezuela.
There is no doubt that his anti-American agenda and rhetoric is applauded by Colombian and Venezuelan drug criminals who increasingly operate in his country with impunity. As a president this man, Chavez, is doing precisely the things the drug mafia wants him to do: stop international cooperation on counternarcotics and allow the drug trade to flourish. These Latin American criminals operate like the Italian mafia which also seeks to control politicians. (Former Italian Prime Ministers Andreotti and Berlusconi were rather close to the mafia.) What happened in Italy, can also happen in Venezuela – if it has not already happened yet.
Emerson Vermaat is a Dutch investigative reporter specialized in terrorism and crime. His website is: emersonvermaat.com.
[1 Graf Hermann Keyserling, Südamerikanische Meditationen (Stuttgart and Berlin: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1933), p. 44, 181.
[2 Rolf Tell, Sound and Führer (London: Methuen, 1939), p. 180.
[3 Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer. Hitler's Rise to Power (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1944), p. 37: "He is both terrible and banal."
[4El País (Madrid), September 21, 2006, p. 10 ("Chavez: ‘EE UU tiene el diablo en casa'"). "George Bush dejó olor azufre tras pasar el martes por la tribuna. El diablo vino aquí para hablar como dueño del mundo."
[5Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972, first published in 1951), p. 309, 310.
[6 Ibid., p. 312.
[7 See the introduction by D.C. Watt in: Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (London: Radius Book/Hutchingson, 1969), p. xxxi, xxxii, and: Joachin C. Fest, Hitler. Eine Biographie (Frankfurt: Propyläen Verlag, 1973), p. 260-283.
[8Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, op. cit., p. 218.
[9 Martin Broszat, Der Staat Hitlers. Grundlegung und Entwicklung seiner inneren Verfassung (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1971), p. 13, 31, 32, 82-87, 105.
[10 www.marxist.com, December 20, 2006 ("Chavez announces United Socialist Party of Venezuela").
[11 Elsevier, November 17, 2007, p. 54 ("Venezuela: Sluipende Staatsgreep").
[12 Erich Matthias and Rudolf Morsey (Eds.), Das Ende der Parteien. Darstellung und Dokumente (Düsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1979), p. 353-367, 396-404.
[13 Karl Dietrich Bracher, Die Deutsche Diktatur. Entstehung, Struktur, Folgen des Nationalsozialismus (Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1976), p. 209, 235-249.
[14 El Mundo (Madrid), February 1, 2007, p. 27 ("Chávez recibe poderes especiales de la Asamblea para legislar durante año y medio"); El País (Madrid), February 1, 2007, p. 2 ("Chavez recibe amplios poderes después de promoter ‘socialismo o muerte'").
[15 La Repubblica (Rome), July 23, 2007, p. 19 ("Chavez, un presidente ‘per sempre'").
[16 Ibid.: "Que viva el presidente Hugo Chavez! Que viva el socialismo!"
[17Mark Bowden, Guests of the Ayatollah. The Iranian Hostage Crisis (New York: Grove Press, 2006), p. 615, 616.
[18 Gira presidencial (Caracas), May 21, 2001 ("Venezuela e Iran en camina hacia una ‘Alianza Estrategia'").
[19 Tehrantimes.com, July 31, 2006 ("Chavez calls on world to stop Israel's fascism"); AP, July 31, 2007 (Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez awarded Iran's highest order").
[20 Al-Jazeera, September 19, 2006, 21:32 GMT ("Iranian leader in Venezuela visit"); El Mundo (Madrid), September 19, 2006, p. 34 (Hugo Chávez y Ahmadineyad firman 25 acuerdos de cooperación").
[21 El País (Madrid), September 16, 2006, p. 6 ("Hugo Chávez promete ayuda a Irán y Cuba en caso de una invasión militar de Estados Unidos").
[22 BBC News, January 14, 2007, 00:56 GMT ("Iran and Venezuela back oil cuts").
[23 Iran Press Service, January 14, 2007 ("Iranian, Venezuelan Don Quichote to fight US superpower").
[24El Nuevo Diario (Managua), January 14, 2007, Internet ("Ahmadinejad: Ortega es símbolo de Justicia").
[25 Voanews.com, January 15, 2007 ("Irán y Nicaragua tienen enemigos comunes").
[26 El País (Madrid), January 16, 2007, p. 10 ("Ahmadinejad, un invitado incómodo en Suramérica").
[27 MSNBC.com, June 22, 2005 ("Police link Ecuador drug ring to Hezbollah").
[28 APFN, November 19, 2007 ("OPEC wants to dump dollar reserves"); El País, November 18, 2007, p. 29 ("Venezuela e Irán se unen al pedir para la OPEP un papel político activo").
[29 J.R. Nyquist, Latin America's Red Axis, Geopolitical Weekly Column, July 1, 2003 (www.financialsense.com).
[30BBC News, May 4, 2007, 10:53 GMT ("Carlos the Jackal faces new trial").
[31 Amir Taheri, Carlos the Jackal pledges alliance to Osama bin Laden, in: The Weekly Standard, November 24, 2003 (internet).
[32 BBC News, June 26, 2003, 11:20 GMT ("Jackal book praises Bin Laden").
[33 Yolène Dilas-Rocherieux, Communisme, révolution, islamisme. Le credo d'Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, in: Le Débat, January 2004, No. 128, p. 144. See also: Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, Carlos, Islam révolutionaire (texte et propos recueillis et présentés par Jean-Michael Vernochet, Paris: Editions Rocher, 2003).
[34 France Soir, November 13, 1998.
[35Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Speech in Zahedan, Iranian State TV, December 14, 2005. See also CNN World, December 15, 2005, 00:30 GMT ("Iranian leader: Holocaust a ‘myth'").
[36 Al-Jazeera, October 28, 2005, 3:49 GMT ("Ahmadinejad: Wipe Israel off map").
[37Max Domarus, Hitler. Reden 1932 bis 1945, Band (Volume) II (Wiesbaden: R. Löwitt, 1973), p. 1058: "Ich will heute wieder ein Prophet sein: Wenn es dem internationalen Finanzjudentum in und ausserhalb Europas gelingen sollte, die Völker noch einmal in einem Weltkrieg zu stürzen, dann wird das Ergebnis nicht die Boslchewisierung der Ede und damit der Sieg des Judentums sein, sondern die Vernichtung der jüdischen Rasse in Europa." (Followed by loud and repeated applauses.)
[38 Worldpress.org., July 18, 2006 ("President's Ahmadinejad's first year").
[39G. Ward Price, I know these dictators (London: George G. Harrap & Co.), p. 38.
[40 Life, May 25, 1970, p. 27 ("Hitler in his private world"). Hitler especially liked Jaeger's color photographs.
[41Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich (New York: Avon Books, 1970), p. 383; Albert Speer, Erinnerungen (Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Ullstein, 1999, first published in 1969), p. 307.
[42 Ibid. p. 85.
[43 Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1939), p. 66. See also: Friedrich Heer, Der Glaube des Adolf Hitler. Anatomie einer politischen Religiosität (Munich and Esslingen: Bechtle Verlag, 1968), p. 247: "Wer nicht für mich ist, ist wider mich. Mit mir, mit meiner Bewegung ist der Allmächtige." ("Who is not with me, is against me. With me, with my movement is the Almighty.") Page 405: "Satanische Juden" ("Satanic Jews").
[45 El País Domingo (Madrid), November 18, 2007, p. 5 ("Ortega, el aliado fiel. El presidente nicaragüense mantiene una fe ciega en las promesas de ayuda de Chavez").
[46 El Mundo (Madrid), January 17, 2007, p. 24 ("Mahmud Ahmadineyad: ‘EEUU y Reino Unido favorecen la inseguridad en Irak'").
[47 Der Spiegel, May 29, 2006, p. 24 ("Wir sind entschlossen").
[48El País, June 2007, p. 5 ("Ahmadineyad dice que ha empezado la cuenta atrás para destruir Israel").
[49NRC Handelsblad, January 27, 2007, p. 38 ("Het verhaal van de Iraniër Mohammed Reza (36) over zijn bezoek aan Auschwitz."). "De praatjes van die man (Ahmadinejad) zetten me aan het denken. Ik vroeg me af warom hij zo tegen Israel is. Wij Iraniërs zijn toch Perzen en geen Arabieren? En toch was er in Teheran een expositie met spotprenten over de Holocaust. Maar over wat er werkelijk tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog is gebeurd mag je niet praten in Iran."
[51Moíses Naím, La historia oculta de Venezuela, in: El País, November 4, 2007, p. 11.
[52 Andy Webb-Vidal, South American cocaine trafficking operations shift toward Venezuela, in: Jane's Intelligence Review, May 2006, p. 37.
[53Ibid., p. 39.
[54 Ibid. p. 38.
[55 US Department of State, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2007, p. 139.
[56 El País, March 3, 2007, p. 2 ("EE UU acusa a Venezuela de convertirse en un paraíso para los narcotraficantes").
[57 US Department of State, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2007. p. 139, 140.
[58 El País, March 3, 2007, p. 2 ("EE UU acusa a Venezuela de convertirse en un paraíso para los narcotraficantes").
[59 "Benigno" (Dariel Alarcón Ramírez), Memorias de un soldado Cubano. Vida y muerte de la Revolucción (Barcelona: Tusquets Editores, 1997), p. 266, 267, 269.
This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3263