Friday, October 19, 2007
Florida lawmaker urges U.S. to confront Chavez-Ahmadinejad alliance
A Florida Republican congressman says Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez is "growing his sphere of influence by intimidation and manipulation," yet many people in the U.S. don't seem to care or realize he poses a serious threat. Connie Mack makes the case that America needs to take Chavez seriously and move swiftly to confront his hostile behavior.Representative Connie Mack (R-Florida) is featured in a new documentary called Crisis in the Americas. The film exposes Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez's terrorist connections, including his close relationship with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And Chavez has not only shut down critics in his own country, notes Mack, but has also "slandered" those who speak out in other parts of the world about his government.But it is the Venezuelan leader's rapport with Ahmadinejad that worries Mack. He fears if the Venezuelan economy continues to falter and Chavez becomes desperate, Ahmadinejad will be in a position to influence him."It's an eerie kind of reminder of the Cold War and of Fidel Castro's relationship with Russia-and I don't think any of us want to see Ahmadinejad and Iran have a foothold in our hemisphere," says the Republican lawmaker. "I believe that Hugo Chavez is trying to build that relationship to do just that."Mack says instead of ignoring Chavez, the U.S. needs to "take him head on" by letting its Latin American allies know the U.S. supports them and their values, but does not support the "heavy-handed dictator-style policies of Hugo Chavez.""For the life of me, I don't understand why so many people in this country want to stand with Hugo Chavez," he shares. "He has destroyed freedom and democracy in Venezuela; he is stealing the hopes and dreams from the people of Venezuela; he does not stand for the values that we stand for."Mack also is troubled that Chavez has found American allies in Hollywood-notably, actors Kevin Spacey and Danny Glover-and in the nation's capital. "To see some of these celebrities and others here in Washington stand side-by-side, arm-in-arm with Hugo Chavez, it's shocking to me," he laments.Following Glover's meeting with Chavez in May, Congressman Mack blasted the American actor for cutting a "sweetheart" movie deal that includes $18 million to direct a film on an 18th century slave revolt in Haiti."To turn to an avowed enemy of the United States, and someone who in his own right has snuffed out dissent and free speech, for movie financing smacks of radicalism and opportunism run amok," he told The Hill.Crisis in the Americas is produced by the American Security Council Foundation. The documentary was recently screened for members of Congress and their staffs at a reception on Capitol Hill.
As in the days of Noah...