Stalin Vs. Chavez
How do Penn, Glover & Co. square their fondness for Chavez with the fact that Hugo's most vocal and threatening opponents are college leftists -- their support base here at home?
The WSJ tells the story by cuing off on the curiously named leader of the Venezuelan student movement against Chavez:
As Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez attempts to push through what he calls 21st-Century Socialism, his biggest obstacle is an army of students led by a leftist named Stalin.Young Stalin isn't really overstating the case that much. Throughout Latin America, student unions have a solid place in history. Fifty years ago, a student strike at UCV led ultimately to the downfall of Venezuelan dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez, and in Cuba, Fidel Castro got his start as a student leader at the University of Havana.
Ivan Stalin González, who prefers to be called just plain Stalin, is president of the student body at the Central University of Venezuela, or UCV, Venezuela's biggest public university. During the past few weeks, Mr. González and other student leaders here have organized protest marches by tens of thousands of students opposed to a constitutional referendum set for Dec. 2. The proposed changes would dramatically expand Mr. Chávez's power and allow him to seek perpetual re-election.
"Historically, students have represented the hope and conscience of Venezuela," says Mr. González, who, unlike his bushy-moustached and sinister-mannered Soviet namesake, is scruffy-bearded and laid-back.
Many Venezuelans are looking hopefully to UCV to spark a protest and save Venezuela from the Chavezocracy that will follow should Hugo prevail in the upcoming Dec. 2 referendum -- and that focus on the university's student leadership is exactly why the power-hungry young Stalin went to the school in the first place.
As you can imagine from his name, Stalin -- who has sisters named Ilych and and Engles -- was raised Red in a union-loving Communist household:
His father, a print-machine operator, was a high-ranking member of the Bandera Roja, or Red Flag, a hard-line Marxist-Leninist party that maintained a guerrilla force until as recently as the mid-1990s. Its members revered Josef Stalin as well as Albania's xenophobic Enver Hoxha. ...Poor Venezuela has Chavez on the one side, ready to install a dictatorship under a Socialist cover, and a power-hungry hard-core Communist on the other, wanting to take the nation down another path to another failed vision of Socialism. Either route is guaranteed to end in repression, as can be seen by how Stalin's factions treat their own opponents:
As a young man, Mr. González burnished his leftist credentials, joining Marxist youth groups and following his father into the Bandera Roja. He traveled to Socialist youth conferences in Latin America.
Still seeking to make a life out of left-wing politics, Mr. González enrolled in 2001 at UCV. Rising in the ranks of the student body can be a fast track into political life, and as head of the 40,000-member student federation, his studies have taken a back seat to politics. He plans to graduate next year.
The law school's student-center room, a base for Chávez supporters, still smells of charred wood and plastic from a fire that recently destroyed it. Workmen are still cleaning up the School of Social Work. There, pro-Chávez students barricaded themselves for several hours during a standoff with a crowd of students, until a group of armed civilians on motorcycles intervened to allow the Chávez supporters to escape.How interesting that Stalin's movement got its grip on the campuses by crystallizing the anti-Chávez sentiment that exploded six months ago, when Chavez pulled the plug on the independent television station RCTV. Free speech in May, followed by the repression of Chavez supporters in November.
How typically Leftist.
Still, in the cause of greater global freedom, Stalin Gonzalez can be a useful idiot, helping to remove a much more dangerous idiot from power. Then, we can hope, Gonzalez will swiftly follow Communism into historical obscurity, and Venezuela will be able to pursue a more perfect freedom.
Update: The Hoover Institute's William Ratliff predicts a Chavez victory in the referendum.
Update: Polls show Chavez has lost his lead; will lose.