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July 20, 2007



This article has a serious logical flaw, and Mr. Burgon's entire argument suffers from it: The (wrong) inference that if Mr. Chávez had "polarised" Venezuela, the situation before his election must have been of a "largely stable generally united society". The absence of polarisation does not necessarily mean that a society is stable or united. A society with a widely varied political spectrum can be (and usually is) unstable.

The fact is that Mr. Chávez's discourse is polarising. He refers to his opponents as "escuálidos" (a derogatory term that means "skinny", "weak", "dirty", and "revolting", depending on the context). Imagine Mr. Brown referring to the members of the Conservative, Liberal Democrats and all other political parties in the UK as "revolting" on a regular basis.

Mr. Chávez refers to the opposition as "coupmongers" in spite of the fact that many of its members have impeccable democratic credentials and opposed both Chávez's failed coup in 1992 and his ouster in 2002.

Mr. Chávez paints all who dissent from his views as "oligarchs" and "Fascists", even though the opposition includes parties and individuals that go from the extreme Right to the extreme, insurrectional Left. Also, many come from humble origins and can hardly be considered "oligarchs". On the contrary, many members of the government, who prior to Chávez's rise to power were poor or even indigent have rocketed to positions of unimaginable wealth in such a brief period, and in such a shameless, brazen manner, that previous (considerable) political corruption pales in comparison. It is so obscene, that the term "Bolibourgeoisie" (Bolivarian bourgeoisie) has been coined to refer to these "revolutionaries" who drive Hummers, buy mansions in cash, and drink 18-year old Scotch only. No rum or beer for them, no!

He even attacks those of his supporters who dare to express shades of difference from his own views.

If that is not the behavior of a "polarising" president, I don't know what is.

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