(Text is from a news release) In a paper timed to coincide with a major hemispheric policy address by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Center for Security Policy warned today that the increasingly repressive - and aggressive - dictatorship in Venezuela must either change or be changed if the region is to avoid the terrible human costs of a new generation of revolutionary upheaval.
The Center's just-released Occasional Paper, titled What to Do About Venezuela, documents the extent to which the so-called revolutionary "Bolivarian" regime in Venezuela is becoming a "clear and present danger" to the countries and people of Latin America and beyond.
In a stinging, point-by-point indictment of the regime of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, the paper calls on the Bush administration to repair its neglected and strained relationships across Latin America, and to work with neighboring democratic governments to ensure that the regime cannot consolidate itself or threaten its neighbors.
The paper strongly urges Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to reverse the Bush Administration's do-nothing approach toward Latin America, noting that, "over the past four years, Jimmy Carter has been the most visible - and arguably the most influential - U.S. leader in Latin America." Carter's imprimatur on the results of a rigged Venezuelan election process has given the regime priceless legitimacy.
"Nowhere is the lack of U.S. strategic policy more evident than in the unchecked rise of a self-absorbed, unstable strongman in Venezuela who has made common cause with terrorists and the regimes that support them, and has developed a revolutionary ideology that has begun to plunge the Americas again into violence and chaos," the paper says.
Noting that the Latin American Left is far from monolithic, the paper urges the Bush administration to work with the hemisphere's democratic governments, even anti-American ones like that of Brazil - which has displayed growing unease about the violence and chaos around its perimeter that Venezuela has been fomenting - in order to contain the subversion and prevent the further planned violence emanating from Caracas.
The paper stresses that regime change is still possible in Venezuela without the use of force, though military action might be needed if the dictator decides to take down the country's economic infrastructure with him, as Saddam Hussein tried to do in Iraq. Noting reports that Chavez is mentally unstable and has been under psychiatric supervision for years, the Center's paper urges the U.S. to "improve its psychological strategy and help the Venezuelan leader to hasten his own political self-destruction."